This week's featured artist in the continuing series "Friday's Featured Fabricator" is Rachael Brooke Winkley of Rachael Brooke Designs. You can find her Etsy shop at http://www.etsy.com/shop/rachaelbrooke?ref=pr_shop_more
Rachael lives in Madison, WI. I asked her to tell me a little bit about herself. "I'm mother to the fabulous Miss Bella who will finish 3rd grade this week. Except for the first few years of my life spent in Chicago, I've lived in Wisconsin my whole life. I create jewelry from antique, vintage or simply second-hand tea, candy and tobacco tins; aluminum drink ware; trays and other metal objects. It's called the Vintage Metals Collection. My studio is at Mendota Mental Health Facility on the north end of Lake Mendota in Madison. I'm a member of a group of artists-in-residence there. We teach weekly art classes or facilitate other arts/creative projects with the patients in exchange for studio space. Our studios are in a 1920's cottage that once housed World War I veterans who were being treated for "shell shock" symptoms."
Rachael started using the name "Rachael Brooke Designs" back in 1998 because her name is Rachael Brooke and she sells her designs. "I seriously couldn't come up with a more creative name than that. My father once said he chose my middle name so that when I became a famous actress I could use Rachael Brooke as my stage name. That didn't happen, but I used it as my business name instead. However, I will contend that selling your own work is a lot like being on stage."
Rachael has always used old or repurposed items to make something new. "My first memory of (doing) this is using a plastic vegetable bag and twist ties from the grocery store to make my Barbie a really cool dress. I grew up with parents who had a knack for creating fabulous things out of stuff they found rummaging, at flea markets or off the curb. As for my Vintage Metals Collection, I started making and selling it last June. The idea has been in my head for years and I finally gave it a go once I had a proper studio space to create the mess in. I was working in our basement until I moved into my studio last May."
The raw materials she uses make Rachael's creations stand out from the crowd. She turns once useful objects into sheet metal to create her jewelry. "However, there are other artists using vintage tins to make jewelry. That's where my personal artistic design style comes in. Knock on wood, I haven't seen anyone out there doing similar work."
When she isn't creating, Rachael spends "crazy amounts of time tweeting, nagging my daughter to brush her hair under threat of having it cut short if she doesn't take care of it, drinking many cups of strong coffee daily, and going to flea markets and estate sales as often and as early as possible."
When asked about the best part of being an artist, Rachael answers, "The first thing that comes to mind is the feeling I get when walking into the stillness of my studio first thing in the morning. It's the anticipation of spending time alone, not talking just creating, in my space. The second is the joyful feeling I get any time I connect with my customers. It simply makes me happy when others love the jewelry they get from me."
Besides Etsy, you can find Rachael on the internet at her website http://www.rachaelbrooke.com/ , on Facebook at www.facebook.com/rachaebrookedesigns, and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/rachaelbrookeaj. She also sells locally in Madison at Absolutely Art. There is a complete list of stores on her website.
Rachael adds, "This summer, people can come out and meet me at the Indie Designer Market at the Randolph Street Market in Chicago. The market is the last weekend of the month from June through September."
Rachael is offering Moo Crew blog readers an exclusive deal: 10% off your purchase and free shipping! Just do the following to be entered to win:
- follow her on Twitter and tweet a link to this blog post to @RachaelBrookeAJ
- Like her Facebook page and post a comment there about this blog feature
- post a comment here that you've done one or both of the above
- We'll send you Rachael's top secret codes for 10% off and free shipping
Many thanks to Rachael, one of the fearless leaders of the Moo Crew!