Interview with Mary Anne Doty of LooseDragons Etsy Shop
While not exactly a Granda Moses, I was a bit of a latecomer to art. I started out working in clay when I took classes in sculpting at the Smithsonian. I later moved into acrylic and fabric art, and even dabbled in egg art when I was selected to design Arizona’s Easter egg for the White House in 1998. I received an invitation to go to the White House, but it was the year of Monica (remember her?) so I didn’t think there would be any chance of meeting the Prez or the First Lady so I stayed home. I started playing around with ceramics seven years ago, but didn’t get serious until last year. I became a cat mommy less than 4 years ago and they have inspired me to make a family of ceramic cats. My real cats are so adorable. They remind me of my two boys when they were babies – just too cute for words.
Etsy Shop: LooseDragons
How did you get interested in cats? How old were you when you had your first kitty?
I had been a dog person and my last rescued dog had died of old age when a friend talked me into fostering a mother cat and her five newborn kittens. I was oh let’s just say over 50 yrs old when I took in all the kitties. We eventually found loving homes for all of them except for one which we had become very attached to. We named him El Tigre as he looked like a little tiger. (By we, I am referring to my teenage sons) Sadly, he died of FIP when he was 6 months old, but before he died we rescued another kitten that we named Charlemagne (Charlie for short). After Tigre died we went to the Humane Society and adopted a six month old kitten that we named Mozart. Mozart has long black fur and Charlie has long, strawberry blonde fur. Just a little over two weeks ago, the same friend who convinced me to adopt my first cat told me about an abandoned cat in her apartment complex. His name is Oliver. So now I have 3 long-haired cats.
I guess I am officially a cat lady. A very happy cat lady. I love my cats and spoil them rotten.
Please describe your creative process.
Hmm, the creative process. I’m into cute and attitude. And given my love of cats, I have been making lidded jars that look like cute kitties. I’m always trying to out-do myself in making the cutest kitty. Sometimes I start with something in mind, but mostly I just start working with the clay and see where it takes me. I also make teapots with a focus on dragons; hence the name of my shop LooseDragons. The dragons are all about attitude. My work is very organic and every peice is unique. I don’t do any production pieces. Because everything is hand-built it takes me a while to make each piece. The glazes I use are nearly all in earth tones. I usually use multiple glazes on each piece and if my piece looks like something anyone can buy in a store, then I have failed.
How did you discover Etsy? Did you consider other ways to sell your products?
Last spring, one of my friends back east saw my work and told me I should try selling it on Etsy. That was when I first learned of Etsy. I am also thinking of selling my work at a local Farmers’ Market.
Do you sell your products in a local store in your area?
No, and I probably won’t because of the commissions. But never say never. : )
Have you been successful at selling your products on Etsy? Have you always been successful, or did you end up getting a lot more traffic after being featured on a specific blog?
I have only had my Etsy shop since late August and I started off with two items. I am pretty picky about what I sell; it has to meet my high standards. Now that I’m being featured on Floppycats, I’m sure my sales will pick-up. ; ) I’m certainly open to your suggestions on how to increase sales.
Do your customers ever give you new ideas for products?
Yes, they do. One of my customers who purched a dragon teapot and a cat jar suggested I make a bear lidded jar. I just made my first one. It’s beary cute. Another customer suggested a sea turtle, so that may be my next project.
Have you thought of featuring a Ragdoll cat is some way? (Had to ask.)
I think my new kitty, Oliver, may be a Ragdoll cat. He spends most of his time hiding under the bed, but when he comes out and lets me hold him, he goes limp and just loves to be petted.
I am thinking of making a long-haired ceramic cat, but it may take a while. I don’t have a lot of experience using clay to make long fur.
Are you a one wo/man show?
Yes, indeed. I haven’t learned to play well with others.
Do you have a blog?
No. I think I’m too introverted to have one.
Do you do custom ordering? Can someone return it if they don’t care for it?
I am more than happy to take custom orders. As to whether or not someone can return something? It has only happened once – a long time ago someone returned a painting. My motto is satisfaction guaranteed or your money back.
Can you share a story with us behind any of your products that you especially enjoyed working on? Maybe because of the story behind the kitty?
I decided to make a kitty with a mohawk, which I thought would look adorable. Then I decided to make it a cowboy kitty, so I gave it a neckerchief, a belt and a six-shooter. I really enjoyed making the little guy and even gave his six-shooter a “pearl” handle. I also made his tail look like a lasso. I’ve included a picture of him. Sometimes I get so attached to my ceramic kitties, I find it hard to part with them.