Thursday, September 25, 2008

Focus On: Karin Alisa Houben

Awhile ago as I searched for Treasury material, I came across some fabulous beadwoven butterflies! I just had to share this nature oriented artist with you!

Profile: Karin Alisa Houben
Shops: Gypsy Eyes Jewelry & Looking Glass House

Tell us about yourself. What makes you, you?
I am mother to two beautiful and wacky teens, an artist and a daydreamer.
Do you see yourself as an artist or craftsman or both?
I would love to assume both titles. I love to create beautiful things, I think that makes me an artist. Occasionally I actually succeed in crafting something functional/ wearable, I think that makes me a craftsperson.

What made you want to be an artist/craftsman?
Was there a time to make a conscious choice? I think I just came into this world hard-wired that way. If I'm not creating something, then I must be sleeping, or going crazy!
Why beads?
Good Question. Given my myopic eyes (I've had to wear glasses since the 2nd grade of elementary school) and rather large hands/fingers (friends call me "grand hand"), an even better question would be: Why teeny-tiny seed beads? Actually, my first love (in bead terms) is gemstones. The colors, the way the light passes through or bounces off, the weight and feel of them... I have had this recurring dream that I am swimming through a sea of tourmaline beads and stones. Then came seed beads, followed and nearly usurped by Delica beads. It's always about the colors, but with seed and Delica beads it's also about the forms they allow me to explore.
How do you see your style and what makes it unique?
Usually, I tend to take a painterly approach with a touch of scientific mind (botany, entomology, marine biology...). In the past couple of months I have been experimenting with purely playful designing. The two are balancing each-other (and me) out quite nicely.

What's the most wonderful thing you've made? The oddest?
The general answer to both questions is the same: my children. The bead answers: The most wonderful things that I make have got to be my butterflies. I still love making, looking at, wearing and selling them after over 8 years...
The oddest, perhaps by certain standards are my beaded fish. Again, I love making, looking at, wearing and selling them, but I guess they're not your typical adornment/ fashion accessory.

What inspires you?
Nature and its infinite beauty and wisdom, Fairy Tales and other fantastic literary works, Paintings of the masters.

What scares you?
Closed minded people, giant waves that threaten to take me under, interviews.

Tell us about your creative process.
When it's flowing really well, it seems like more of a trance. The beads come together one by one, and take form hour after hour, at some point I wake up (probably due to eye strain and a neck-ache) and I am thrilled by the results.

How did you get on Etsy and where else do you sell?
My awareness of Etsy began as a murmuring here and there, from fellow artisans/ friends, magazine articles, and grew into an incessant buzzing (like a swarm of bees) that could no longer be ignored. So here I am on Etsy, moderately addicted. My work is represented by several boutiques and galleries nationwide. I sell at a handful of juried craft shows annually. My website, serves as a sort of "look-book"/ weighty tome.

Describe your shop.
Gypsy Eyes Jewelry is a varied showcase of beaded flora and fauna. It is filled with butterflies. moths, flowers, delicious gemstones and Delica seed beads. Looking Glass House is a playful vacation from that scientific mind stuff. The shop is in its very beginning stages. It is peppered with (and soon to be greatly populated with) whimsical, neo-Victorian jewelry with a very enthusiastic nod to Alice, White Rabbit, Mad Hatter, Queen of hearts, et al. Pearls, Swarovski Austrian crystal, vintage filigree, monocles, mirrors and feathers (oh my!)

Make a recommendation.
Enjoy beauty everyday through looking, listening, tasting, creating... this is my "secret" to happiness and peace.

Tell us the answer to a question that we didn't ask, but should have. If you can't think of anything, tell us something random.
Once upon a time I was a professional baker/ pastry chef. I still enjoy creating rather decadent desserts, now I do it purely for the love of my friends and family and chocolate.


  1. Lovely interview! That's some gorgeous beadwork, too.

  2. GREAT post! oh, and thanks to you posting about them, I figure out what moo cards were (had heard of them, but never took the time) and ordered some!! can't wait :) thanks!

  3. Wonderful interview! I do love Karin's butterflies - just my kind of beadwork!

    Thank you Sarah and Karin :0)