We had the good fortune of connecting with Jackie Smith and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Jackie, what do you attribute your success to?
I believe that art stands out when the artist’s joy in making it shines through. It was important to me to make items that were unique to me, and that I wanted to make, even if no one expressed interest in buying them. Nor did I want to make the same item over and over again, nor jump from craft to craft following fads. Because I am easily bored with repetition, every item I make is one of a kind. I prefer to explore new designs rather than repeat ones, but even when I do repeat a building I vary colors, textures and accessories to fit my current mood. When I started my business, no one else was making holiday villages out of recycled aluminum cans. As other people have begun to mimic my brand, I am somewhat flattered, but hope they find their own vision so they too can be passionate about the items they make. 

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
If I had any advice for a young artist it would be to carve time out of your life to create instead of letting everyday worries or the pressure of a family overwhelm your life. I was under the age of 10 when my mother taught me to knit, crochet, and sew. Though the crafts I have enjoyed over the years have changed, I never stopped creating. Instead of waiting for the children to go to bed before working on a project, I always had extra supplies around and encouraged them to create along side me during the day. Though my children are now all grown, I look back at the hours we spent crafting together as quality time well spent. They each found their own areas of interest, very divergent from my own and each other, yet they are now all very creative people.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I have the best of everything within reach. A one week visit is not long enough to sample it all! A visit to San Francisco must always include a day (or two!) visiting Golden Gate Park to explore the Academy of Sciences and the de Young Museum. After tea at the Japanese tea garden, I like to rent bikes to explore the park and bike to the beach and back. Another day has to include a visit to Chinatown (including dim sum for lunch), a ride on the cable cars, and clam chowder in a bread bowl at Fisherman’s wharf. Check out the colony of sea lions and make sure you visit Ghirardelli Square for chocolate and ice cream! Alcatraz Island deserves a day devoted to it alone, starting with a ferry ride to the island and a picnic lunch from Boudin Bakery while sitting on the dock taking in the sight of San Francisco across the bay. If you ever get one of the rare opportunities to spend overnight at Alcatraz sleeping in the cells, jump at the chance, though not if you are easily spooked as it is reportedly haunted. (I personally did not see any ghosts, but did find it quite creepy.) The next day needs to be devoted to crossing over the Golden Gate bridge, driving along the Marin Headlands for views of San Francisco and the Pacific Ocean, and then a hike up Mount Tamalapais. If my visitor isn’t too exhausted from the hiking, I would suggest we rent bikes and spend the next day touring the wine country by bike, visiting wineries along the way. Though I have yet to do it myself, there is a six day bike wine tour I have been eyeing for a while that starts in Napa and bikes through five valleys of vineyards to end in Healdsburg. And of course no visit to the Bay Area is complete without an overnight trip down to Monterey Bay, including a visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, and an exploration of the art galleries in Carmel-By-The-Sea. On the way home, visit the Santa Cruz Mountains to hike among the giant redwoods. And we have only begun the scratch the surface of all there is to see! 

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I had a very artistic mother who shared her joy of crafting with me. She was an elementary school teacher and very much believed everyone was capable of anything they put their mind to if they just kept trying. Though my mother taught me the basic crafts of knitting, crochet and sewing, she also encouraged me to think outside the box instead of following other people’s patterns. Hence, I not only enjoy trying new techniques, I enjoy developing them too. I am also very persistent when I try something new, even if I fail at it over and over again. Later in her life, my mother learned to make jewelry at a time when I too was exploring jewelry techniques. We spent hours together sharing what we had learned or discovered and it was fun to turn it around to where I was the teacher and she the student. I lost her too young to cancer, but she is forever in my mind when I craft.

Website: https://acottageintheforest.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/acottageintheforest/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ACottageInTheForest.Orinda/
Other: https://www.pinterest.com/acottageintheforest/

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