Wednesday, April 6, 2011

April Artist of the Month~ Tina Dean Designs

Happy April! Happy Spring! Happy Earth Day!

I know, as an allergy sufferer, I don't *love* every minute of spring. However, I do like not having long johns on everyday and being able to go out of the house in a light weight jacket. I like the warm dirty smells and the buzz of insects around. I could do without the birds that wake up at 4am every morning, but I'm learning to deal with them! :)

In honor of Earth Day on Friday, April 22, an eco chick is being spotlighted this month. Tina Dean Designs are a line of crochets items, from totes to hand warmers to coasters, mostly made from upcycled materials. Plastic shopping bags are processed into strips and made into 'plarn', then crocheted into very durable, fashionable, environmentally friendly products. I especially love that they end up looking like a natural fiber basket, such as raffia. These are *prefect* for the farmers markets that will soon be in full swing. And, going to the beach or the pool, or out in the garden... or any number of places!

I am impressed by the creative use of a seemingly useless waste product of shopping- the plastic bags! I can't wait to see what Tina comes up with for cassette tapes!

Q~How did you get started?
A~I learned to crochet from my grandmother when I was a little girl. I've crocheted on and off for years, and after selling a few of my items, decided to go into business.

Q~Why do you continue?
A~I love the creative outlet it gives me. I had never seen myself as creative, but once I got going, I realized that crochet was not only relaxing for me, but my creativity came alive.

Q~What is a great(or greatest) success story?
A~A great success story is of anyone who feels that they accomplished what they wanted to in this life.

Q~What is one of your greatest failures?
A~I owned a women's gym that we had to close due to the economy. Maybe not so much a failure as a learning experience (though it certainly felt like a failure). The knowledge that I cultivated from that experience will serve me well.

Q~Where do you get your inspiration?
A~I've always wondered where I got my inspiration... Crazy as it sounds, I dream of things I want to make. Seriously, though, my inspiration for my plarn (plastic yarn) items came from a good friend who is my 'eco conscience'. She owns the first prototype of my tote bags. Gee, maybe one day it'll be worth a lot of money. LOL (Oh, and I really do dream of things I want to make.)

Q~Why do you make/create what you do?
A~My primary focus is the design and creation of my upcycled totes, purses and clutches. I upcycle plastic bags that are the kind that clog up landfills. The average American family of four uses about 1,460 plastic bags per year. My totes typically use over 100 bags each. Making 12-14 tote bags saves what one family uses per year. It's small, but it's a start. Funny thing is, I'm so in tune with plastic bags now, that I want to stop the car and chase down those bags you see floating down the side of the road! What I do is my small contribution to the planet.

Q~Where is your favorite place to sell? Or Favorite show?
A~So far, I have items on two different selling venues, but am currently putting my energy into getting my own website completed. I am also now focusing on applying to shows, so if anyone out there has tips and suggestions for me, I'm all ears!

Q~What is one thing you love about your business?
A~The joy from seeing someone using an item I've made, and that I can work on a project whenever I feel like it.

Q~What is one thing you loathe?
A~I hate anything with more than two legs that thinks it can live in my house without paying rent. Please note that this does not include standard pets.

Q~What is your dream about your art?
A~That more people will begin to realize how strong and versatile my totes are, and also recognize that, although the plastic bags are free, there is a lot of time and craftsmanship invested to make them into something beautiful and useful.

Q~What is your mission?
A~To save the world... one bag at a time... ;)

Q~Where are you based?
A~Stafford, Virginia

Q~Where would you live if you could live anywhere?
A~Seeing as I'm a military brat, I could pretty much make a home anywhere.

Q~What would you be doing if not this?
A~Trying to figure out my passion.

Q~What is next?
A~To conquer the world!
Q~What is your favorite question to ask people?
A~Do you know what this is made of?

Q~What is your answer to that question?
A~Plastic! (or Videotape!)

Q~ What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen sparrow?
A~What do you mean? An African or European swallow?
You can find Tina Dean Designs in person at the Handmade Mart on Saturday, May 22, in Silver Spring.

If you can't make it there, check out the following sites:

Main Website:





Twitter feed:

Tina takes custom orders, so please feel free to contact her through any of the above sites to have something truly special made!

Think about how many plastic bags you use on a regular basis. I know I use plenty! They are good for trash can liners, waste bags in the car and for wrapping smelly food from the fridge. However, I also know I could use less.. or just pass them on to Tina!

Happy Earth Day~ go hug a tree! ;) ~Jen


Anonymous said...

It's terrific to see Tina Dean Designs featured! The quality of her craftsmanship is exceptional. Her works stands head and shoulders above the crowd in a sea of crafters.

I admire her because she also doesn't compromise just to make a sale.

Truly great to see Tina featured, an oh, I love that red and white plarn bag!

Anonymous said...

Hey - I am certainly glad to discove this. great job!

Anonymous said...

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