October 2011 Show Interview:
The big event is just a few days away and we still need to introduce you to a few more artists. There’s a very good chance you will get two of these posts today, so keep your eyes peeled for yet another introduction!
We are excited to present you with Creek Van Houten of Compass Rose Design (www.compassrosedesign.etsy.com). Creek creates understated steampunk & Victorian adornments for both women and men using antique ephemera, found objects, metal, vintage buttons and anything old or whimsical.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Becoming a full-time crafter and artist was the last thing I ever thought possible, but after returning to the U.S. from Amsterdam in 2008 – necessity was a great inspiration. While looking for a job and making a jewelry collection for my wedding party, I began to get more requests for necklaces and earring sets. I studied environmental science and politics, but after working a decade in environmental non-profits, public relations and a few years abroad in the Netherlands, I have just followed the passion and the requests. I truly love the combination of skills that make this work possible.
What kind of artist are you, and what first drew you to that particular medium?
I’ve been making stained glass and jewelry for the last ten years with vintage and found treasures. My tendency both for collecting as well as reassembling has been a lifelong project. I took apart my first stereo at age seven and disassembled my first broken pocket watch at nine. In both cases, my goal was to repair the items, but upon realizing the parts were so beautiful, I began constructing art. After almost a decade of work in non-profits and then some marketing, I’ve taken the plunge to become a full time crafter maker metal alchemist. I also weave, mostly Navajo – style, but this is a much more personal art form. I learned to weave while herding sheep in Arizona in 1999, and experience great parallels in working with glass, metal, and wool – all textiles of a sort, with their own behaviors, inclinations and tendencies.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
When I’m not making jewelry, I am working on founding a small beer company with my husband. Keeping as much of the work in-house for both companies takes most of my time and covers most of what I love. In addition to the making of real things, I get to stay up on web design to social media to marketing and bookkeeping.
Who is your greatest creative influence?
My dad, who showed me that unexpectedly marvelous possibilities are worth pursuit. After being a dentist for 20 years, he followed his skill and passion – and invented swim fins as well as an exercise wheel for small rodents. Both sell internationally. He showed me it is possible to make your own life way.
Please describe your creative process.
I love what I do. From scouring antique fairs and flea markets, to web design and soldering and art shows, I adore working hard and making things. Especially at a time when watch makers rarely repair mechanical watches, I feel great purpose in giving a new life to these precious items from the junk pile.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
My Dutch grandmother, who died when I was 8, made me a crocheted lace table cloth. It reminds me of the world of textiles and skills and stories that connect us all, and the world of fiber and home-based arts that only recently left the bounds of the kitchen, pantry and courtyard.
What is it about living in the North Bay that most inspires your creativity?
There is nothing I have experienced like the close juxtaposition of art, culture, nature and urban populations in the North Bay. Particularly after living in Holland, where no forests or wide-open spaces exist, really at all, I appreciate the sense of mental space and possibility. We live in a world that bridges art and technology and wildness – all of which inform who I am and the type of mechanical, yet refined art I seek to create.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Loving the North Bay, hopefully still making things and pursuing new skills and mediums. The North Bay truly combines the things I love about the Bay Area, Santa Cruz, the woods, and the Netherlands – a community which values the simple pleasures of family, food, art, music, and togetherness.
Thank you Creek!