Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Featured Artist: AbbotsHollowStudios

You can see the devotion and skill Randy at Abbots Hollow puts into every piece he makes.

It takes a brave and talented soul to fashion books from the skins of trolls and grind their teeth into magickal potions.

With a life steeped in mythical interests, Randy offers anyone who is willing to suspend belief companions and treasures for their everyday quests.

The Abbot's potion collection
" bridge the gap between the fantasy and real worlds"
"I’m an artist, musician, armourer, educator, husband, father, history buff, and lover of grade B fantasy movies!

Seriously, I have an eclectic range of interests and ways to express myself...through leather work, armour, drumming, or even building models and vignettes."
"underlying all of it is a deep need to "create""

Leather Orc eye pendant

"Years ago, I was a drummer in a Progressive rock band and I currently play in a Celtic rock band.  Before I got married and had a daughter, I owned a shop at the Bristol (WI) Renaissance Faire for seven years, where I sold miniatures—painted figures, fantasy scenes, castles, cottages...

For twenty years, I’ve run an educational program about the Medieval Knight, in which I demonstrate the arming of a knight, using my replica 15th-Century harness (suit of armour)."

"...sharing my love of history with kids and adults through libraries, schools and other venues is a real joy..." 

Your Craft
"I love working with my hands and creating things.  I’ve always been fascinated with faces.  In fact, my mom recently cleaned out the attic and came across a small box with several faces I sculpted in clay when I was about 10-years old."  

Leather Mythical Beast book

"I also love leather—the smell and feel of it is a connection between me and the Medieval world.  Working in that medium brings me to the place in my imagination which I love."  

"Similarly, I love going to Renaissance Faires and dressing in costume.  My goal is to look like I’ve just stepped out of the past.  Spending the day at a Faire helps me bridge the gap between the fantasy and real worlds.  The feelings, images, and ideas I bring back after a foray into the fantasy realm take physical form in my art.  Sometime people ask about my shop name, Abbots Hollow Studios.  A hollow is a hidden valley—for me, it’s a valley tucked away in my imagination.  I also have a theology degree, so I guess I’m the Abbot of the Hidden Valley!"

Do you offer customers anything besides a product?
"I put my heart and soul into each piece"
"I strive for high quality products which will last a lifetime.  What I create is not just a “product.”  I also enjoy working with people to bring their ideas to life.  Sometimes a custom order results in a combination I would never have thought of. Some of my customer’s requests, like horns, have become a regular feature of products in my shop."

How have you grown as a seller?
"keep trying new things...write down all of your ideas..."
"I created an etsy account last summer—and first listed an item in late September.  So, my one-year shop anniversary is nearing. As a relatively new etsy seller, I’m still growing and learning.  Thankfully, my many years at the Bristol Faire and running part time businesses have taught me a lot..." 
"Some things I’ve learned in the past year are: have a diversity of products in your shop, and sell at a variety of price points.
Keep trying new things.  It’s sometimes hard to anticipate which ideas and products will connect with people.   

Mythical Beast book purple leather

Write down all of your ideas—no matter where I am or when they occur to me, I grab a notebook, or back of a receipt.  I have nearly 100 scraps of paper with ideas jotted on them, which I haven’t even tapped into."  
"As I hinted at above—be open to custom work and do it well, since it’s simply not possible to anticipate or stock every possible combination.  Finally—be open to International shipping.  Taking the time to figure out how to ship to other counties has significantly expanded my customer base and it really wasn’t too hard!" 

"My wife and I...enjoy building off of each other’s ideas"
"She’s in touch with fairies and has a feminine, card-making, scrapbooking sensibility while I have a gaming, hard-core fantasy/history background.  Blending the two helps us appeal to a variety of customers." 

Dragon eye keychain
 Plans for the coming year?

"In the coming year, I plan to grow my shop and get more involved in etsy teams.  I expect to participate in promotional giveaways and network with more sellers with a variety of product types.  I plan to build adequate stock to sell at a show or convention and ultimately, to go fulltime with Abbots Hollow Studios.  My longtime dream of working from my home, creating my art, is becoming a reality."

What's inspiring you right now?
"The Jim Henson movie Labyrinth immediately comes to mind.   The whole world he created is wonderful.  I especially love the two door knocker characters who guard the entrance to the kingdom.  I’ve been thinking about these two faces for awhile and you never know which faces will appear on one of my journals!"  
"...the Necromancer by RUSH is always an inspiration. Music is a soundtrack to my life—with different songs seeming to play frequently during significant times and transitions."


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