Today we are talking to Sarah K Patro of Modern Maker Stamps and Make For Good. After successfully transitioning her business from hand-carved stamps to laser-engraved alternatives, she’s increased her revenue and freed up time to enjoy linocut and embroidery as hobbies.
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Tell us about yourself. What do you make? What do you consider your best or favorite work?
Professionally, I make custom rubber stamps for small businesses.
Personally, my best and favorite type of work is embroidering + linocutting.
Tell us about your workshop
I used to share a large attic studio with my two little boys (2 and 5). But since the pandemic hit I moved into a small bedroom — so I could sometimes close the door and get my studio “alone-time!”
It’s a small, cozy room that includes my desk, bike and a huge storage cabinet with all the art supplies I could use in a lifetime (and then some).
What is your favorite material or tool to work with?
Clean white cotton fabric and wool yarn are my absolute favorites.
They’re followed closely by Pfeil lino cutters slicing through smooth, buttery lino. Just typing that makes me want to get them out!
How long have you been doing your craft? Who taught you or where did you learn?
I have been linocutting for just over a decade — it’s what began my current business, Modern Maker Stamps, although those stamps are now made with a laser engraver.
I am self-taught in both linocutting and embroidery — although of course many YouTube makers have helped me along the way!
What is the most challenging aspect of your craft or business?
The most challenging decision in the past was moving from hand-carving my stamps to laser-engraving them. But I have found that being able to help small businesses with their custom stamps has been incredible and fulfilling.
Linocutting has become a separate hobby, which has enabled me to enjoy the process of making them more fully.
The most challenging aspect of my everyday creative business is balancing the time while providing full-time childcare for my two boys during this pandemic.
Working in the creative industry is an absolute blessing, but in the last year it’s been very difficult to make time for creativity. I’m excited for schools and childcare to reopen — I have SO many ideas sketched out and ready.
Any advice for beginners to your craft?
For linocutting: Don’t draw words directly onto your block, they’ll imprint backwards. And if you make a mistake, don’t try to fix it. Embrace it!
For embroidery: Don’t get stuck on executing patterns exactly as the instructions say. Have fun with choosing your own colors, your own textures and adding unique touches into your artwork. I usually ignore “regular” embroidery thread recommendations and embroider with yarn.
Breaking the “rules” is what makes it yours!
Who/what inspires you? Any shoutouts to fellow makers?
I’m continually inspired by road trips throughout the country, and especially my “happy place,” Mount Desert Island, Maine.
An MDI papercut artist named Jennifer Judd-McGee always gets my wheels turning, especially when I can visit her shop in person. And Sarah K Benning has also been a huge inspiration for me in embroidery.
Of course the Instagram community is a continual source of inspiration as well — I love to follow other mediums of art (ceramics especially) and think about how I might translate them into a linocut or embroidery piece.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I believe it’s incredibly important to set goals, for both professional and personal creativity.
When I began my creative business, I had a very small goal in mind: to pay my car payment each month. Having this goal post gave me the motivation I needed every morning.
If you’re not sure how you’re going to progress in your creative business, set a goal!
Break it down and work towards it every day. Goal-setting may sound very anti-creative, but you’ll be surprised how exciting it can be to reach for a creative goal — and then realize you can reach even farther.
My business grew from barely making those car payments to supporting my family fully (in part-time hours) and now it even gives me extra creative time – just by setting those milestone goals along the way.
And no goal is too small to get started. They snowball!