Shop:: Sarah K. Benning
Owner :: Sarah K. Benning
Location :: Albany, New York
Meet Sarah, owner + maker behind Sarah K. Benning. Her shop contains handmade cards and contemporary embroidery art.
Where is your studio located?
I live and work in Albany. My studio occupies a tiny room in my tiny apartment and looks out on my quaint cobblestone street. I've in Albany for just over a year after relocating from Chicago. It's been a nice change of pace with lots of access to mountains and trees and good neighbors. That's one of the great things about Etsy...as long as there is a post office I have the freedom to move anywhere.
How did you get started in your craft + what inspires you?
I supposed I have always been an artist. I attended the Baltimore School for the Arts magnet hight school and then received my BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago last May. Stitching cards and hoops started as a hobby. The light hearted stitching became a kind of productive escape from my more serious art practice, which deals with the passage of time as it relates to the human body, translating the growth and deteriorations of bodily systems into abstract compositions. As my Etsy business has grown, the line between my studio art practice and commercial endeavors has blurred and each branch of my studio now informs the other.
I am inspired by the patterns found in nature. I recently started working as a florist during the day, so I feel a whole new body of work coming based on foliage patterns!
What are the top 3 tools that are most important in your craft?
The most important tools in my studio would include my incredibly sharp awl (shown in one of my images with makeshift padding for my fingers), my bone folder (since I hand cut and fold all my cards), and my needle and thread.
What's a typical day like in the studio?
It's rare that I get a full day devoted to the studio. Most of my work is completed in the morning before going to my day job and at night when I get home. Then take into consideration post office runs and the necessities like food and sleep, managing my studio time, production, and customer obligations is a real balancing act.
When I do have the luxury of a full day in the studio it usually starts off with a cup of coffee...or two...or three. I like to get my computer work out of the way first thing -- emails, customer inquiries and requests, creating and reviewing treasuries, updating listings, etc. Then the rest of the day can be devoted to sewing. I have to admit I watch A LOT of Netflix and Hulu while I work. I mostly like reruns of The Office and nature documentaries, things I don't have to fully focus on. Often I am sharing space with my musician boyfriend, so between all the guitars and piles of hoops and fabric our studio is often overflowing into the rest of our living space. It's definitely rare for me to be at home without some work in my hands.
What are the greatest rewards of creating something handmade?
Honestly, I can't imagine doing anything else. I was very fortunate to grow up with very supportive parents. My aspirations to be an artist were fostered from a very young age, and now as an adult I feel very fortunate to be able to work and be almost self supporting as an artist. I am featured in the July/August issue of Country Living and it was a pretty magnificent feeling to see my work and name printed in a magazine sold at the grocery store. I love the idea of a greeting card in today's computer-based culture. They are tangible connections between people and I love providing an extra special one of a kind option! I am extra excited to be a vendor at Brooklyn's Renegade Craft Fair. I am really looking forward to meeting my customers face to face!