I’m very excited today to introduce you to one of our newer Maritime Makers, Sarah Gillis, of Maritime Handcrafts. Sarah started her shop on etsy this past December, offering a beautiful selection of quilled papercrafts.
If you aren’t familiar with the art of quilling, it is the art of rolling and shaping strips of paper, which are then glued together to form intricate shapes. It is also called paper filigree as it often mimicked the designs in iron scroll-work. It is believed to have originated in the Middle Ages, when French and Italian nuns and monks would use quilling as a means of decoration on books covers of religious texts and other religious items. It had a later resurgence in the 18th century, as a craft appropriate for gentle women – in other words, not likely to over excite a gentle disposition or tax them too intellectually (humph!). And today, with papers in a startling array of colours and creative makers expanding the boundaries of design, the craft again is seeing a resurgence.
Sarah’s designs are bold, colourful, and if you are a Maritimer, you will love the Maritime theme that has been incorporated into some of her pieces.
Hi Sarah. Thanks for joining us today. Could you please tell us a bit about yourself and your shop, Maritime Handcrafts.
My name is Sarah Gillis, and I live in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia with my boyfriend and our two cats. I was born and raised in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. Post-secondary education took me out of Nova Scotia, and I lived in Ontario for many years before moving back to Nova Scotia in summer of 2015. Despite the friends and connections I made, Nova Scotia was always home, and I always wanted to move back, so when a career opportunity arose that would give me the opportunity to move back to Nova Scotia, I jumped on board and haven’t looked back.
Maritime Handcrafts offers paper quilled art and greeting cards all handmade by me.
How did you come to be interested in it, and how did you get started?
I have always considered myself a creative person, growing up I dabbled in many things, painting, drawing, sewing, crafting, and for many years I have admired paper quilling. Throughout the years I would decide to try it, but change my mind, thinking that there was no way I could do it, because it is so intricate and beautiful. It took my boyfriend believing in me to get me started. I had spoken to him about it, how beautiful it is and how I would love to try it, but that I wouldn’t be any good at it. Him being my main support in everything, he bought me a beginner kit, and from the day I started quilling, I fell in love with it, and have been quilling almost every day since.
You are new to etsy. What challenges are you finding as you begin to set up shop, and bring your products to a global audience?
Etsy has been quite the learning experience! There is so much more to having a shop then I could have ever imagined. The main struggle I have found so far has been getting found, and getting my shop noticed. I am constantly working to improve my Etsy shop so I can get found in search engines, I am also using social media to broaden my outreach. Photography has also been a struggle, finding good natural lighting and getting great pictures to show the detail in quilling.
Where do you hope to see your shop and business go from here?
I would love to be able to start selling at local markets this year. Making my products brings me joy, and I hope to bring joy to others that receive my items, so I hope to have more people with my quilled art in their homes, and more people receiving my greeting cards.
As a hand-maker, do you have any handmade items that hold particular value to you?
Last year, my boyfriend moved with me to Nova Scotia, from Ontario. I am from Nova Scotia, but he is from Ontario, and I decided to make something for his birthday to show our journey together. I made a string art with both Nova Scotia and Ontario, and it has a separate colour showing where we were both born, and trailing to where we are together, here in Dartmouth. It is special to me because it is sentimental, of the life we have made together.
Thank you again for chatting with us today, Sarah. We wish you much success as you continue to grow your shop, and we hope we will see you at some of the future Maritime Maker events.
Remember to visit Sarah’s shop to view all her gorgeous pieces by clicking here, or simply click on any of the photos above to view more information about that particular item.
Also, it is never to early to mark on your calendars that this year’s Etsy Made in Canada will be happening this year on September 24. Save the date now, and keep checking back regularly for updates!