For thousands of years, religion and spirituality of all kinds have inspired great art — and I think you’ll agree that both Michaelangelo and the designer of the Parthenon had pretty cool jobs. In that same tradition, Sarah Lawless of Skyclad Crafting draws on her own personal beliefs to inspire her many creations.
Sarah has taken her creativity and turned it into a reason for sharing with others, traveling the US and Canda, and having wonderful new experiences (like being featured on My Cool Job…)
Making one-of-a-kind items that will be treasured and used by their owners for years definitely qualifies as a cool job in my book!
What do you do?
I am a Pagan Multimedia Artist – meaning that I follow an earth-based religion and base my crafts upon the mythology and folklore of my faith. Multimedia means that I work with many mediums including woods, jewelry-making, textiles,and pottery. I craft practical artwork (as in has some kind of use) from handcarved wooden ritual tools and sacred jewelry made with magical woods that I wildcraft, to ritual robes and everyday clothing with a touch of magic as well as quilts based on folklore and mythology.
What do you love about your work?
I love my work because it allows me to express myself and be creative – which as an extremely right-brained person is very necessary for me to be happy. My favorite part of being a craftsperson is attending festivals and craft fairs during the summer where I get to schmooze with all the wonderful people and fellow merchants who attend. I love researching new designs and ideas and seeing the process of making them go from my sketchbook to the physical finished piece in front of me. It is so satisfying.
What are the downsides of your work?
The downsides of crafting for me involve custom orders – I really don’t like custom orders, I think it’s an artist thing as we don’t like to make the same thing twice – that and I always get so many custom orders that I don’t have any time to make my own designs which have been lying fallow in my sketchbooks for months or years. My biggest pet peeve are patrons who try to scam me by “forgetting” to mail money orders for online sales, hoping I’ll have already mailed their item… my momma didn’t raise no fool, nice try. I believe my community calls these people “poverty pagans”. Also, family and friends sometimes think that because you’re crafty and clever you can make things for them…. for free – they have to wait until birthdays or Christmas!
There’s no formal training to be a craftsperson, it’s not really the same as being an artist. There are rarely gallery shows or high-priced items for crafts. We fall into the “folk art” category. Meaning get a real job on top of crafting because you do it out of love, not money earned. This is good advice I got from a veteran potter friend of mine – she was an accountant after all. Requirements are usually things you are luckily born with: anything from clever hands and eyes, to a creative mind and lots and lots of patience. Some craftspeople apprentice with masters of their art, or simply find mentors to help them through the learning process. I learned through luck, cleverness, trial and error, picking the brains of other crafters, and a darn good public library!
The funniest story you can think of connected to your professional training or your employment.
I don’t really have any funny stories, but I’ve been able to make ritual tools for some pretty cool customers – Shivian Balaris of Oh My Gods! fame was a great patron and I also caught the eye of one of the founders of a large Wiccan tradition while carving at a festival – he asked me to make a wand for him after watching me carve a few so I made him a gorgeous hawthorn one. He’s been amazing for local word-of-mouth advertising! I’m also always shocked when I sell pieces only a few hours after making them. I do this for fun – so when I realize people actually love my crafts I’m a bit dumbfounded!