Etsy Featured Seller Interview - UNedited

  Hey Guys : )

     I mentioned this subject in our last post, thought this might be an interesting thing to share: the original interview that we sent over to the etsy team before they did their little trim and polish. Most of you read the final on the front page, so maybe you'll be able to tell what was taken out or changed around. Also, I'd imagine a lot of you are fellow esty sellers and it might be of interest to see how the editing team decided to give our (possibly verbose) interview the old once over.

  One piece that I had a little laugh at was the opening quote that they used "we're like two friends in the same class ..." That was actually a follow up to a line that was trimmed out of the interview all together. The way it read in the final was comical because the line "It's a lot of work but we're like two friends in the same class..." was pasted at the end of a long list of things that we do for fun - like soaking in the hot springs, sliding across the bamboo floors in our socks, etc .. not sure if anyone caught that, but I thought it was funny that we were quoted saying that these lackadaisical wanderings and curiosities were "a lot of work" ha ha ha.

  Well, here goes - another long post with few pictures !! Yay : ) Just trying to quickly give you guys a little something to chew on while we chisel away at filling these orders - we'll have another HUGE bundle of them going out tomorrow !!


1.) Tell us about yourselves.

alOha : )

We’re Peter and Juwels - husband and wife, creative partners, and most of all, best friends. We’ve had many creative projects over the years, but our most recent offering is a line of antique bottle-shaped beeswax candles. We see this concept as a fusion between historic charm and organic craftsmanship. All our candles are made on our tiny stove in our big red honey pot. Juwels and I have had a lot of extra time to create and play with new ideas since we made a slight change in our living situation. About three years ago, we left our fancy top-story loft and moved into a 1975 Winnebago Chieftain. We bought “Miss Winnie” with the idea that we’d spend a few weeks fixing her up and then start living the simple life. This wasn’t exactly the case. It was a bit more like building the pyramids … on a shoe string budget.

We received a lot of dubious looks from family and friends when we announced our plan to simplify our lives and expand our horizons. Even Juwels wasn’t so receptive when I first suggested that we sell off all our anchors and set sail in a hundred square foot box. “Think how much more time and money we’ll have for art and travel and health and friends. It’s totally sustainable, and we can live anywhere.” She may have been thinking about all the lovely furniture she’d collected over the years, some of which she built by hand, or her chef’s kitchen or large closet.

There was a lot to be sacrificed, no doubt, but I was taken by the idea, and continued to nibble away at her conventions. “And if we want to travel abroad, we won’t be paying thousands of dollars to hold our cement box. We’ll just put the Winnie in storage, and she’ll rest up until we come back.” The idea of traveling abroad won her over, and we first exercised that freedom when we flew across the Pacific to enjoy our four-month honeymoon in South East Asia. We stayed in hostels and thatched huts. We ate dollar curries with the locals on the edge of town and rented Vespas in place of expensive tours, but we were alive and present, and everything was new.

There’s much history leading up to our winnebago diaries: When we met, Juwels was a competitive skateboarder. She was sponsored by some pretty huge companies, appeared in magazines and flew over seas for photo shoots. I opened a skateboard shop fresh out of high school and patented a piece of skate equipment which makes sliding handrails and benches smoother and faster. In 2006, Juwels and I published a novel to great reviews. It briefly became required reading and then a banned book at a Los Angeles public school. Crazy enough,we were on campus speaking the day it was banned. We have too many passions and stories and projects to list here, but if you want to come along for the ride, jump on over to the winnebago diaries, where there’s always room for one more : )

2.) Besides creating things, what do you do?

We’ve recently discovered an abandoned horse ranch near our studio. It’s a wonderland of wild edible plants, tree frogs, butterflies, raccoons, flamboyant skunks, and about a million feral cats and song birds …it’s an easy place to make a single Sunday afternoon feel like an entire year. The footpaths of this forgotten ranch have become our local escape these days, but other pleasures include: going to the hot springs to give the old birthday suits a soak. Having friends over and spending the night making food, telling stories, and laughing way too loud. Strolling the farmer’s markets, creating new recipes, thrift store hopping, people watching, bargaining massages out of each other, getting lost at the Rose Bowl swap meet, researching child prodigies, sliding across our bamboo floors in our warmest pair of socks, being nostalgic about whatever season we just left, and all sorts of other things which keep us young and deepen the smile lines below our eyes. We never run out of things to do and see and learn, but honestly, since we launched our last couple of projects, creating has been pretty full time for us. It’s a lot of work, but we’re like two friends in the same class, sneaking our little moments and notes all day long. We’re blessed.

3.) What would be the name of your memoir and why?

“Level Ground” because we believe that life is about searching for a balance.

4.) Where does your inspiration come from?

Our inspiration comes from the great delight that we get from sharing. Whether it’s a new type of food, a piece of music, or a special tint in the sky, the instinct is always to nudge the person next to you and say, “check it out!” Creating things is just a wider reaching nudge.

Also, we’re always inspired by a good cause, and with this project in particular, there’s such a great opportunity for environmental and health progress. Most candles are made from chemical paraffin, a byproduct of petroleum. There’s been a lot of awareness lately about the hazards of burning petroleum into the open air from our cars, but what about burning it on the kitchen counter, bedside table, or in the meditation room?

Honey bees produce an organic, smokeless, ionizing, sweet smelling fuel. It burns longer and brighter than any other wax, and these days with millions of bees falling victim to Colony Collapse Disorder, it’s very important to employ as many bees as possible. They say that we vote with our dollar, so please vote for our buzzing bee boys. They need you : )

5.) What does handmade mean to you?

Handmade is the cliff swallow building a mud nest on a wall where vertical meets upside down. It’s about finding the patience to slow down and accept the pace at which one person can progress through many detailed steps. It’s the power that we all have to bring something into existence that just moments before was a fleeting thought or curiosity. It’s an endangered species …

6.) Who has been most influential in your craft?
Mother Nature : )

7.) When did you know you were an artist/maker?

From the finger paints and play dough, to the mash potato snowmen and paper boats … we all start off as curious beings, makers and learners. The challenge, though, is having the courage and determination to sail into the “real world” in your paper boat amidst a swirling sea of cargo ships from China.

8.) How would you describe your creative process?

Our creative process is kind of like a verbal, and slightly telepathic, game of ping pong. Ideas bounce back and forth across our little kitchen table, scattered with notes, tools, and materials, and when the ball suddenly unravels into a beautiful butterfly and floats around the room, neither of us know exactly who did what. It just is. And we love it.

9.) If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?

It would be great to press an eye to the keyhole of Nikola Tesla’s Laboratory. Yes, strange nights when he and Mark Twain would laugh and shoot spider webs of lightning from mysterious metal coils. That would be a sight to see.

10.) What handmade possession do you most cherish?

Easy! Maybe it’s because we’ve given so much blood and life to it, or maybe it’s because we live within it’s finished seems, but as a whole, the Winnie is by far our most cherished handmade possession. For one, she’s sustainable, turning sun beams into music or night time electric light. Many appliances such as this computer, our air purifier, and the motor which pressurises our water pipes are fueled by the warm and renewable rays of the sun. We developed ways to recycle dish and bathing water to our garden or to flush the toilet, and the refrigerator needs no electricity at all, just LP gas. Which means we can have a glass of cold juice in the middle of the desert. Besides functionality, she’s a museum of projects and ideas, little nooks where days went by shaping out a curve or building a secret hiding spot. Ideas kept reinventing themselves and surprising us. I remember standing in the torn apart gully of the girl, saying, “I wish we could just snap our fingers and flash forward to see what she’s going to turn out like.” That’s the fun, being the performer and the audience. It’s kind of like planting flower seeds with a blindfold and then waiting for that first flash of color come spring.

Part of what made the outcome such a mystery was that most of our aesthetic materials were salvaged or secondhand, so we never knew what we were going to find. Our stained wood counter tops began as a few sheets of furniture grade plywood somebody left out in an alley, and our little claw foot bathroom vanity was stuffed headfirst into a dumpster and covered with ants. The ladder which hooks to the edge of our reclining bedroom was pulled out of an old motor home in the junkyard, and our kitchen sink was an antique wok which we found in a small shop in northern Viet Nam. Thick picture frames became crown moulding and window dressings. We connected with contractors for scrap bamboo flooring and carpet, found close out slate tile, and old copper water pipes began living lives as curtain rods. Day to day it was an effort and a surprise to see what we’d hammer out next.

11.) How do you get out of your creative ruts?

We stop eating and start drinking. A good raw juice and smoothie fast can really cut the background noise out of your head. We’ve been pretty lucky over the years as far as staying out of ruts goes. We seem to equal each other out through our combined strengths, so the momentum has always stayed up pretty high, but if we were to hit a rut, or if we just wanted to soar a little higher, simplifying the diet down to a rocket fuel would be the prescription. We’re actually about a month into a fast as I write this... Zing : )

12.) Where would you like to be in ten years?

We dream of branching out beyond our little winnie stove and studio space to someday find the Pollen Arts home base on a simple, green piece of land with plenty of plants and animals, beehives, solar power, spring water, and open airy work spaces full of good people chatting over the music and pouring as much love and positive energy into the candles as we do now.

We’re currently renting a large studio space at an artist collective. Watching thirteen creative people, from all walks of life, live and work together has given us some pretty unique ideas about what we can do to keep our future team happy and healthy. Juwels will surely be passing around some of her raw food snacks and smoothies. Also, as they do in some Asian companies, we’d love to offer our people a morning yoga class for a warm up of the body and mind. And the idea of being able to offer a free on-site daycare/ arts and nature program for our people with small children really tickles our family bone. This way our moms and dads can have lunch with their little ones and enjoy a visit to the goat pen, flower gardens, or watch the chickens scratching up the soil.

Handmade is about bringing something into your life and home that was created by happy hands. We have many goals, and if you want to hear about phase two of our Pollen plans, “The Blue Bird Project”, you can read about it in our shop bio. Or just go checkout our candle shop and help us get our wings ; )

Here's a link to the final interview now in the archives:


{Weekend Update}

Hello everyone !!!

   We miss you guys! Which is interesting because we haven’t even had the chance to meet you yet. There’s almost that feeling like, ‘God … I need to get a hold of so-and-so’ the same way we think about old friends who we haven’t talked to in waaaay too long : )

   Just a little screen shot of our lives at present: there are candles … everywhere. Wax splats speckle the bamboo floors and occasionally one of us will break down and pull away from the honey pot or the packing table to crawl around like an animal on all fours with a little plastic scraper and our tiny broom. “Ah … I didn’t want to do that, but it’s so nice having smooth, clean floors again.” 

“Thanks, babe!” 

    And then, about five hours later, after dipping wick and trimming candles, the floors feel like a toad's back under our bare feet once again. (We’re both wearing socks right now, ha!) Once the deluge of orders has passed, we’re going to pull out all the stops and give the old floor a good scrape and then hit it with the heat gun and wipe the unscrapable wax clean with a rag. Can’t wait to get the Winnie put back together : ) 

    With that said, we are so amazingly blessed to have this expedited Spring harvest. Etsy front page ??? What ??!!?? We couldn’t believe it when that message came through on an otherwise slow day. “Hey, we think your stuff is awesome, and we want you to be the featured seller on April 11th” I had to refresh the screen to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating. It was exciting and overwhelming  … there was so much to do and so little time. We needed photos and words and product .. and there were new bottles that we wanted to add to the collection, and a lot of time and resources had to go into building those. Many near-sleepless nights passed in preparation for the big day. 

   We had to find a photographer and organize the jump off the Winnie’s roof. Mind you it’d been six years since I'd jumped off anything that high, but it seemed like a fun way to introduce the three of us, and besides, I was curious if I still “had it” and what it would feel like to push myself to the end of a runway leading to a shear drop, to fly again. It was ...errr .. fun .. I think : ) To be honest, it was just like I remember it: a feeling of kind of going blank but at the same time being highly tuned into the elements of fear and excitement and danger and technique. I never realized it when I was a punk skater at 17, but skateboarding, especially when things have to go right or a hospital bed might be in the cards, is a thing of extreme presence, being in the moment and being ready for anything. It’s actually pretty beautiful inside the hard crust of it’s vainglorious and anarchist exterior. It's just the wind in your ears and the feeling of impact, slam, and it’s all over in a blink. But I must admit, my legs did feel like frozen rubber bands for the next three days.

   Here's the last big jump I did ... way back when : ) I actually shot this clip by myself - just set the camera up on a wooden pallet and hit record. I didn't want a bunch of skater kids sitting around on the curb, drinking there Big Gulps and wagering on whether or not my knees would explode. 

   And then my last video part in a film called "be you" Juwels has a guest trick skating a bowl at: 1:19 sec ... 

    Where was I ?? Oh, we were supposed to be looking at a screen shot of the present, and here I go trailing you guys off a roof top with me. Ready? One. Two. Three … Jump! Right now, the dash board is covered in candles, much like every other raised horizontal surface in the Winnie, and the bees are constantly finding their way in through the open windows and skylights to see what’s cooking. When there’s six or seven of them in here at the same time, their little beating wings sound like a noisy power line. ZZzzzZZz. We’ve developed a system to catch and release them using a mason jar and a piece of paper. Sooner or later, the bees will end up following the bright light and teaming on the plate glass windows, buzzing and bouncing off the glass and no doubt wondering why they can see the outside world but can’t seem to get there. That’s when we press the open jar against the window and then slip a piece of paper between the bee and the glass … out you go little buddy. Go find some flowers. They’re such regimented workers that we feel bad putting them behind schedule by luring them in here with the sweet scent of our (their) wax … sorry guys ; )  

    We’ve adapted most areas of comfort and recreation in our home into trimming tables and packing posts. The couch is now a two teared cooling and trimming station. About a week ago, when the orders started pouring in, I burst into the Winnie carrying two random pieces of wood that I found in the community wood shop. And upon seeing them, Juwels said, “What are you doing with those?” 

   “Here, hold this one,” I said, passing her an unattractive slab of laminated wood that came off an old broken dresser. I could tell she didn’t like the look of them, but I was excited about my idea of workspace adaptation, so she helped me piece the improvisation together. We pulled the sheet of plywood out from under the couch cushion and precariously rested it on top of the wood planks which we had just pinched to the left and right side of the couch like table legs, and wallah: we had a new six foot long by three foot deep work table that could help accommodate this rush in candle production.

“Pretty good, huh?” I said.

“Yeah, it’s a good idea, but we’ll build it up with some different wood,” she said, giving the large table a poke and watching it sway back and fourth.” 

“This’ll be fine,” I assured her, already cluttering it with piles of unfinished candles and tools.

   We haven’t had a couch since, but surprisingly, we’re almost done with all the orders. Hundreds of candles, addresses tapped into the old type writer, burners lit and wax melting, and as crazy as it sounds, we’re going to miss it when it’s all over, this rush of filling the orders and the idea of all the lovely homes that our pieces are going to find themselves in is a thing that can almost leave you light headed. And the thought of everything we're able to do to the Winnie (more solar panels and batteries, a few tires, some odds and ends to get us ready for the road ... this is going to be a good Summer - can't wait to share our plans!) 

    Another thing that we wanted to mention: We have the sweetest customers in the world ; ) A few days ago, I went through the sold orders and messages a lot of our earliest buyers with a little thank you and an apology over the extended time that it was taking to get everything out .. seeing as though it’s just the two of us running off super food smoothies, late nights and loud Indian music. And we had so many responses saying things like, “Push my order to the end of the line, no rush.” 

   Everybody seemed genuinely more interested and excited about the success we’d been so lucky to find, and had no issue with letting the handmade process ripen and come to fruit naturally. So thank you all for your patience and understanding! That’s not to say that we haven’t been working 16-hour days, but as I said, it’s a bit of a rush, like remaining in a sweat lodge and drifting with the steam. And we’re always laughing, hugging and kissing ... and occasionally dousing each other with ice water. To anyone out there waiting for a package, the wait is almost over. We’re surrounded by hundreds of little golden owls and Milk Weed jars, and we’re going to send them off to the post with the glow of new parents catching that last glimpse of their little one stepping onto the school bus for the first time. (Tear.) 

  Okay - I’ve indulged too long on this post, and my back is actually staring to spasm as I’m sitting on the hard floor in narrow aisle in front of the couch. (the kitchen table, where I normally setup, is cover in finished  candles, and juwels is wrapping them in vintage pattern paper and grouping them into the little school buses that will take them to your doorstep, so I’ve had to type in some creative locations … like in the driver’s seat with our little overheating laptop propped upon the steering wheel : )

   We’re so excited to finally start a blog. We always wanted one, but never got around to it. But the invitation to display on the front page really lit a fire under our bee-hinds : ) And thanks to the scouts at etsy, we’re so lucky as to have a couple hundred subscribers before even getting started! (We’ll reward you good boys and girls with some raffles and giveaways soon) Tomorrow evening, we’ll be recharging at the hot springs and bottling some live, mineral rich spring water from a cool source up the side of a mountain. 

   We’ll bring the camera, so you guys can wet your whistle and dip your toes along with us : ) Also, another quick blog idea that we had was to post the unedited etsy featured seller interview. I know that a lot of you guys are fellow sellers, and who knows, when you click back from this page, you might have the “we think your stuff is awesome” message from the administrators … and it might be interesting to see what got edited or trimmed out of our original words. I have a tendency towards literary indulgence (this post was supposed to be a few lines : ) , and dare I say, digression … so we knew there would be some changes and trimmings to our original scrawl. Anyone interested to read the uncut version?    

   That’s all for now. We’ll upload pics of the renovations and current Miss Winnie soon (Juwels already has the images loaded in an dormant blog, just waiting for one of us to click the “post” button, but she wants to add some captions first …so we’ll just have to post a few production shots below. enjoy!)




{ welcome new friends !! }

alOha everyone : )

Welcome to the winnebago diaries! This is a work in progress, in fact, for the next few days while we juggle our recent stroke of good luck (being featured on the Etsy front page) this blog is just a small selection of pics to wet your pallet and a promise of great things ahead.

As the web address spells out, much of what we’ll be sharing is the present story of Miss Winnie: how we came to find her and the accidental renovations which kept us on the curb in front of our friend’s house in the Long Beach ghetto for way too long. We’ve seen and heard a lot from our little bread box which we’ve parked all over the place. It’s been a ride … a sputter and a backfire of a time, and the next chapter is always a mystery to us both.

We’d love it if you’d subscribe to our blog, and let us know who you are and what you’re passionate about. We’ll be back real soon … hope to find you here when we return : )

Hang on tight, love love,



Here's some pictures from the Craig's List ad that I found when I called out to Peter, "Babe - I found it ... I found our Winnie!" 

We had just been searching the Los Angles area and finding nothing, but then for whatever reason I clicked the San Francisco button, and there she was. 

Of course - in the lives of p&j, this was just the beginning of a two month ordeal between the guy who owned the Winnie, us and his kooky mechanic. We almost lost her in the fine details and had to Western Union money on a few occasions just to keep her within reach ...   

The story of traveling out to SF with our pocket full of cash (a whole $1,800) getting the run down of how everything worked (or didn't work in some cases) breaking down two feet from the purchase site and then freezing the night away in the Winnie will be a fun one to share. "Babe ... wake up. Did you hear that? I think somebody's out there!"


As you can see .. she wasn't in that bad of a shape when we found her (or at least from the surface she wasn't). But once we got home and started picking at a little hole of dry rot here, or pulling up a dusty piece of the the original shag carpet there .. before we knew it, we were standing in a completely demolitioned mess, and we had already given up our apartment by then, so our bed was made so to speak : ) 

Okay, I'm off to update my Etsy listings before our interview goes live in .. 4 minutes!! I'll be back to post some more pictures of the picking process. You'll never believe what a mess we made - ha!