Meet the Crafters: Amy Kenny
As Halifax Crafters has grown, we’ve not only opened up our applications to new vendors and food vendors, but also to vendors from out of province. We’re excited to have the opportunity to show work made by crafters from away, build our crafty community, and share ideas! We have a few crafters coming from out of province for our Spring 2013 Fair, they are : The Lonely Pixel Photography and MisAnthropy from Quebec, returning crafter Pip Robins from Toronto, and the Hamilton contingent, Rare Specimens, bespoke uprising, and our fresh catch of the day, Amy Kenny of Crown Land Goods.
Amy works in leather and metal to create a line of Canadiana-inspired items, and her business is aptly named – Crown Land Goods. She thinks of her work as ‘a line of hoser totems – tough, functional, wearable work that hopefully makes people feel closer to the places they miss’. Her craft is inspired by her travels by bike and her work as a writer. We’re looking forwarding to welcoming Amy to Halifax, make sure to stop by her booth and say hello!
What do you make?
I make leather and metal jewellery and accessories.
What is your process?
My boyfriend and I go on a few short and extended cycling/camping vacations every summer. To get a little Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance about it, the slowed-down speed and degree to which you are at the mercy of the elements forces you to recognize everything about the landscape. The endless hours of riding give you plenty of time to think. I always take a sketchbook with me and come back with tonnes of ideas which I then work out in the studio through trial-and-error.
How long have you been a crafter?
What is your background/How did you get started?
I went to university for journalism and make the majority of my living as a writer. In early 2008 I was looking for leather scraps to try my hand at a making a journal. The search led me to Tundra Leather – an amazing shop right near my house in Hamilton that has been such a great resource as far as tools and teaching. When I saw that they offered carving and tooling lessons I thought I’d sign up and maybe make some wallets and belts to supplement the paintings I was selling at local markets. Up to that point I had never been good at sewing or jewellery-making or anything like that. For whatever reason, as soon as I had my hands on leather, something about the quality and characteristics of the material opened my mind up to a million possibilities and I was hooked. From there I almost immediately wanted to get into metalwork, but knew it would open up another black hole I would obsessively throw money into on my hunt for new and awesome tools (much the way it went with leather) so I resisted until 2012 when a silversmithing course at Mohawk College hooked me. Again.
Why do you do what you do?
I just love it. I get antsy if I’m not in the studio enough. I’m a pretty physical person and while I love, love, love writing, I go crazy if I have to sit down all day. Working with my hands in leather and metal gets me moving and gets me creating something concrete, which feels good.
When you’re not selling at Crafters markets, where can I find your work?
What makes Halifax Crafters different from other shows?
For me, what makes it different is that I’ve never done it before! I’m really excited to see what it’s like and, of course, to drive east and spend time in Halifax. I love your city!
What are you excited about seeing at the Spring Market?
Karolina-Anna Hajna’s Bouquet of Street Necklaces. Such beautiful execution of such a great concept.
What inspires you to create?
Canadian geography. Whether I’m writing, painting, or doing leather or metal work, I aim to tell Canadian stories, so my inspiration comes from the physical and human geography of Canada. I tend to think of Crown Land as kind of a line of hoser totems – tough, functional, wearable work that hopefully makes people feel closer to the places they miss.
How do you begin a new project?
Too quickly. I’m impatient and have a problem with not really planning things out very well before I begin. I get the idea and just start going to town on the leather and the metal rather than sketching and making paper mock-ups to figure out how I’m going to realize the finished piece. Sometimes this results in slightly botched prototypes, but even that’s not all bad because that means I get to keep something for myself.
Where do you do your work?
In my studio – a second-floor space in downtown Hamilton, right above my boyfriend’s bicycle shop.
What kind of music do you listen to while you work?
I usually listen to the radio – CBC or This American Life or The Moth. If I listen to music, it’s all over the place depending on my mood but I’m currently very into the band Trent Severn. If I could make music, theirs is exactly what I’d want it to sounds like.
A place you love?
Yukon. I spent one summer cycling/camping through B.C., (mostly) Yukon and Alaska, and part of one summer in Ivvavik National Park working on a story for Canadian Geographic about artist’s residencies in national parks. It’s just magic up there. I love it. I think about it every day.
An artwork or artist you love?
I’m all about work that engages the maximum number of senses. I want to touch and see and hear and smell everything (art or otherwise). Because of this, I’ve had angry docents and security guards follow me through galleries and museums the world over. Also because of this, I’ve always loved Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller for their interactive pieces. I’m also into Elinor Whidden and Lauren Hall because they’re awesome. Lastly, my role as a member of the curatorial committee for Hamilton’s Supercrawl (a huge street festival that celebrates arts and culture in the city) introduced me to Brandon Vickerd’s work a few years ago when we started trying to get him to show at the festival. In 2012, he exhibited three pieces and I just think his work is so diverse and amazing.
Favourite time of the year?
Fall – best of all.
Three things you need in order to create?
An organized studio, an idea and something to listen to.
A favourite quote?
“Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda
A film or book you love?
Oh man…where to begin? I think I’ll go with Late Nights on Air (Elizabeth Hay), The Diviners (Margaret Laurence), The Big Why (Michael Winter) and Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald). As far as films…I cannot narrow that down without some intense research and ranking, but the movie I’ve watched more than any other is probably Brick. It’s a fantastic film and my go-to background movie when I’m working but want something on that I know I’ll love.
What’s your favourite way to procrastinate?
Cleaning because that’s at least productive procrastination. I hate procrastinating. A few years ago I found I was getting too easily distracted by the Internet. As a non-computer-savvy person, I downloaded some site-blocker I knew I would forget how to use and buried it in some place on my computer I knew I would never be able to find again. I then used it to blacklist all the sites that weren’t contributing to my life in a positive way. Bam. Problem solved.