Feature Me Friday: Emily Grace Suitcase

This week for Feature Me Friday, we have Emily Grace of
emilygracesuitcase from San Diego, CA.

Who is emilygracesuitcase?
A hopelessly messy & disorganized artist that doesn't function
properly unless I'm allowed to make things & look at the world

Lily Necklace in Light Blue and Sterling Silver

What's the first thing you remember making?
I remember making dolls out of pillow stuffing & used nylon
stockings with my mom when I was about 3 or 4.

Why work with recycled materials?
To be honest, it started out as a budgetary thing - plastic
shopping bags (though time-consuming) are free, & I am
struggling to get by right now. Then, it became an amazing
challenge. How can I make this piece of trash look not just
cool, but beautiful? And somewhere along the way I also
learned about the problem plastic bags are creating in the
environment, and now I'm just completely sold on them as
an art material.

This is a photo of a big pile of bags on my kitchen floor,
waiting to be sorted. It's about 5'x8'x2', & I figure that an
average American family without reusable bags uses about
twice this many shopping bags per year.

Where do you work?
In a tiny corner of my shared bedroom. It's literally about
12 square feet at the foot of my bed, with just enough room
for a desk & bookshelf. My dad is an excellent carpenter, &
he built this loft bed I designed. It's about three feet off the
ground, so I can smush all of my art supplies underneath, &
it has a built-in bookshelf in the back to store even more stuff.
I've also turned my wardrobe into a storage space for fabric,
scrap cardboard, & interesting bits of paper. You might think
I'm very space-efficient & organized, but I'll have you know
that I cleaned for hours before taking this photo collage.

How do you get from A to Z?
Backward. Z, Y, X, W, V... Everything looks more
interesting when you flip it around.

What are your favorite tools?
A sewing machine, a needle and thread, cardboard
& colored pencils.

What music do you listen to while you're working?
Fleet Foxes, Joel P. West, Bon Iver, Radiohead, Andrew Bird...

What are the five best things you've purchased on etsy
and where did you find them?

Vintage beads from atomicveggiecom
Goldfish t-shirt from circularaccessories
Vintage pewter birdcage necklace from townendjewelry
Vintage waitress dress from tiltedtulipvintage
Recycled book sketchbook from thenovelnovel

Read any good books lately?
Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder
Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman
East of Eden by John Steinbeck

Been to any great exhibits?
Tara Donovan at the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego.
I was mesmerized by her work for hours, all of it is made from
everyday objects.

Who inspires you?
My friends. I'm fortunate to know some really great people who
aren't afraid to run with their creative ideas & see where they go.
I've grown a lot in the past few years with the encouragement of
those around me, & let a lot more of the ideas out of my head.

Calla Lily Earrings in White

What do you do for fun?
Run bakeitforward, volunteer in the community, garden,
cook, photograph, send drawings to, read &

Besides Etsy, where can we find you work?
Make Good Boutique in the South Park neighborhood of
San Diego, the Handmade Revolution trunkshows, and in the
Old Hollywood Boutiques in New York. I also design for
acholibeads. They work with recycled materials, paper, & their
beads are hand-made by war affected women in Uganda.

How do you promote your work?
To be honest, I don't. Most of my Etsy sales come from word of
mouth, & shop sales come from just contacting shops & asking
if they're interested in carrying my work. Promoting is my goal
for this year! I really just have no idea where to start.

Have any words of wisdom?
Look for the potential in everything & everyone rather than just
what is there. Just as trash can become something beautiful with
a little attention & encouragement, so can people.

What's in your future?
I'd love expand my own line of jewelry enough to begin hiring
marginalized women in my community that have experienced
challenges like homeless or relocating here as a refugee. I also
hope to continue working with companies that are providing
economic opportunities for people in poverty-stricken or
war-affected communities around the world.


Tubby Tabby's SquawkBox said...

I think this is the best story I have read about a crafter and the most unique media. I make upcycled jewelry but it never occurred to me you could use plastic bags, ingenious!

auclairdelalune: recycled fabrics for human and habitat said...

So nice to meet you! Loved seeing your space and your beautiful work!

Emily said...

I love your shop, I'm always amazed at how delicate your plastic bag flowers turn out

Anonymous said...

I am so proud of you and what you stand for! Your doting and loving mother.