crafty synergy feature | crafterall

The first time I saw Marnie's work it reminded me of my childhood interest in maps. It brought up many memories. The simplicity is very alluring.

: Marnie B. Karger
Business: Crafterall
Web site:
Blog: (shop); (family)
Location: Shorewood, MN

Can you share with us a bit about your business and how it got started?
I make and sell hand cut cards and art. I’ve always wanted to have a role in some sort of indie business and found just the right fit with an Etsy shop. In the fall of 2007, during my maternity leave with my second daughter, I started listing fairly cookie-cutter greeting cards. I liked their simplicity, but felt they sorely lacked any sense of uniqueness or authentic handmade touch. I started experimenting more with my favorite material, paper, and dug through my tool drawer to find my X-Acto blade. Full disclosure: I was inspired by Patricia’s recycled paper projects that seemed to be featured everywhere and that exuded a “you can do this too” invitation to try it. From there, I totally fell in love with cutting paper. The movement of a nice, sharp blade through crisp card stock and the reward of a clean cut edge or a smooth curve had me sold as a paper cutter.

How did you come up with the idea of working with topographic images?
It was a bit of a happy accident. I was working with chromatically related papers and I just sort of fanned them out on my studio table. As the colors graduated from light to dark, I was instantly reminded of topographic maps of lakes and oceans. I’ve always loved poring over maps, and trying to read the history of how the land was shaped by glaciers, fault lines, waterways, and time. My home state of Minnesota is renown for its glacial scarring and the thousands of lakes produced by the receding ice. I love lake silhouettes and looking at them much like you’d look at clouds, seeing in them recognizable shapes and characters. I love the mystery of lake depths and all the spooky thoughts of what creatures and plant life reside in the deepest, darkest parts of a body of water. Working these thoughts and feelings about lakes into a series of layered cardstock is like inventing my own little tracts of land and the lakes and rivers that live there. While the resulting image has a modern and simplistic appeal, the process itself is what keeps my creative fires stoked.

Which of your tools is your favorite?
Since I work with so few tools, this is pretty straightforward. My tool of choice is this neat little gizmo called a Blade Runner. It’s basically a small shaft of clear plastic with a teeny tiny swivel blade on the end. It took a bit of mastery, and this is what allows me to cut graceful curves and smooth lines in my work. I also couldn’t work without my self-healing cutting mat, my double-sided adhesive, and the pair of daylight lamps that illuminate my workspace.

What part of the creative process do you enjoy the most?
It’s a tie between creating a new sort of fictional landscape, and watching a piece come together as I add layers and color. Even when I’m in “mass-production” zone working to fulfill a wholesale order, every piece is at least a little different and therefore each piece unfolds a little differently from the last. It’s this uniqueness in what I make that keeps me going.

If you had no financial or time constraints, what dream project would you like to work on?
I think I’m living the dream right now! Honestly, being able to work at home, spend loads of time with my girls, my husband, and our dog while still being able to successfully create and sell my handiwork is pretty sweet. Thinking outside my idyllic little existence, I’d love to do learn how to work topographic-type landscapes into other, more durable media such as ceramics and wood to produce large-scale topographies, fit for an entire wall or a permanent art installation. The idea of an entire wall transformed from flat into a 3-d topographic work of art gives me goose bumps.

Thank you so much Marnie!

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