interview & giveaway with lisa of 5 orange potatoes

i am so honored to have the opportunity to interview the amazing lisa whitesell, of the awesome 5 orange potatoes blog! her nature-loving, creative blog has been one of my favorite sources of earthy, artsy ideas. lisa was kind enough to answer some of my questions about her life, work, and inspiration AND to give away one of her adorable owl pillows to one of my lucky readers!!! enjoy her story below and enter for your chance to win at the bottom of this post.

lisa & her creations at her 5 orange potatoes "craftin' outlaws" booth

jen:  your 5 orange potatoes blog has long been a source of inspiration for me. i am so very drawn to the way you incorporate the spirit of the earth in each of your creations — from herbal remedies to nature art activities to upcycling sweaters into the most amazing plush creatures. can you tell us a bit about what most inspires you and the work you so beautifully offer to the world?

lisa: I’m just your basic natural earthy girl that loves the Earth and prefers natural to artificial- from the food we eat, the medicines we use, the art supplies we use, and the clothing we wear.  I have Appalachia roots and my granny is always comparing me to my great grandmother and the way she lived her life. I’m sure I was a peasant witchy woman in another life, a bit of a recluse, with a large herb garden making concoctions for the village people and what ails them -OR- maybe it’s because I was born on the very first Earth Day (April 22, 1970)! I can’t pinpoint what exactly drives me, it’s just something in me, seems to run in my veins!

lisa's acorn jewelry

jen:  you and i are kindred spirits in experimenting with medicinal herbs. i especially adore all of your posts on lavender, dandelions, and those honey herbal coughdrops! (the soothing gremlin softie is one of my favorite ideas of yours, as it blends your offerings of herbal remedies with your talent for creating such fun characters.) how did you first begin your love of herbology? can you share with us some of your favorite resources for learning about herbs and teaching your children about their healing properties?

lisa: Being raised in the country, with parents that always sent my sisters and me outside, and working in nature, with youth camps, really sparked my love of nature and herbology. My first taste of chicory coffee made from fresh chicory roots and a fresh salad made from wild edibles, sent me over the roof, really connected me to the wonderful bounty that Nature provides. Forget the man-made and artificial junk! Hildegard of Bingen, Juliette De Bairacli Levy, Rosemary Gladstar, Michael Tierra, Maud Grieve, and Jeanne Rose are some of my favorite go to herbalists. These amazing herbalists have fantastic books that make up a large part of my herbal library.

lisa's jewelweed poison ivy remedy

jen:  my daughter is blessed to have a couple of your creations. her winking fox, who is now called nuki, has brought so much joy into our home. i admire how you use thrifted sweaters and vintage fabrics to create them, in true earth-loving fashion. each of your plush creatures has such personality – the ones created from the upcycled sweaters are my absolute favorite! how does the idea for the animals’ patterns and images come to you?

lisa: My girls’ drawings are what inspired me when I first started making plush, but now I simply look at an animal’s eyes and the inspiration will be there or not. The actual critter has to inspire me before I can create it, this makes it hard when a customer asks me to create an animal I haven’t made before. For example, I’ve been struggling with a turtle design for the past year, I would LOVE to make one, but the design just isn’t there yet!

an inspirational drawing from lisa's daughter

prim and proper

jen:  it seems that your way of creating has gracefully piqued your daughters’ curiosity about nature and art. it is so wonderful to see them concocting potions and sewing on your blog. can you offer any words of wisdom to us about your philosophy on how to inspire children to connect with the earth and to create with their hands?

lisa: That’s simple, if they see you doing it and making it part of everyday, they will follow. Get outside everyday with your child and explore together, not only will you influence them but they will see and point out things you’ve never seen before! I really believe that experiencing nature with a child is the best way to learn and discover.

exploring nature with children

jen:  what are you most passionate about creating about RIGHT NOW?

lisa: Our basement flooded last Spring and all of our holiday ornaments got ruined, so we will be working hard on creating new decorations for this holiday season.

lovely applesauce ornaments

jen:  i’m sure it’s not the first time you’ve been asked, but i’ve been curious: where did the name 5 orange potatoes come from?

lisa: I get this question all the time! I asked my girls to throw out some names, Araina (5yo at the time) said “5 orange potatoes,” I loved the corky sound to it and kept it. It really works for us too, being vegetarians we eat a lot of sweet potatoes and I have red hair that looks a little orange in the sun. I shared this story with a man at a recent show and he laughed because his 6yo nephew named his goldfish “Roastbeef,” you really can’t beat the creative power of a young mind!

sewing with children

and now for the giveaway… [CLOSED]

lisa is generous enough to offer one of her amazingly adorable owl pillows, hand sewn with love from vintage fabrics or upcycled sweaters, to one of my readers! that could be YOU!

to enter for your chance to win:

  • first click here, which will open a new browser window where you will visit the 5 orange potatoes etsy shop to peruse the beautiful wares. choose which owl pillow is your favorite (that you’d like to win!) and come back here and let me know in the comments which owl you’d choose. *make sure your valid email address is attached to your entry so i can contact you if you win.*

you need to do the above entry to be entered, and for THREE MORE chances to win, you can do the following and leave an additional comment (read: entry into drawing) for each of these actions:

  • like 5 orange potatoes on facebook
  • follow 5 orange potatoes on twitter
  • share a link to this blog post giveaway on your facebook page, your twitter account, and/or on your blog.

i will choose a winner using a random number generator this thursday night (november 10) at 9pm pacific/midnight eastern.

*CONGRATS TO WINNER, TARA C!*

and now for my unsolicited PSA: while you are on lisa’s 5 orange potatoes etsy shop, keep in mind that the holidays are fast approaching, and these make for amazing gifts for special people in your life. if you’d like to support artists and the idea of a handmade holiday (as opposed to store-bought, mass-produced goods,) please consider shopping on sites like etsy, at your local holiday faires, and, of course, making your own holiday gifts this year (and every year!) occupy the holidays! :)

*all images courtesy of 5 orange potatoes.

11.07

2011
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  • Jenny

    I love the polka dot owl!!!

  • Jenny

    I liked you on facebook. Love the polka dot owls.

  • http://www.thechocolatemuffintree.com/ Melissa @The Chocolate Muffin Tree

    We love owls here!

  • Annette Standrod

    I think the green good luck bamboo is my fav. annettestandrod@gmail.com

  • Annette Standrod

    like you on facebook. annettestandrod@gmail.com

  • Carol Bo ura

    I adore the owl with the bowtie. I can imagine many stories that I can tell to my dd with this character in our repertoire of softies. I am a Facebook fan from way back. I woul be happy to follow on twitter too. Thanks.

  • Catherine

    I like the owl with yellow flowers fabric for my little girl who loves yellow.

    catherinewalker_2000 at yahoo dot com

  • Catherine

    I like 5 Orange Potatoes on Facebook.

    catherinewalker_2000 at yahoo dot com

  • nicoletta

    … and I like 5 orange potatoes on facebook :)

  • Trish

    Love the brown striped one (made from a thrift store sweater)! So cute!

  • Trish

    Like Orange pot. on FB

  • Jessica

    I love these owls!

    My fave is the winking handmade owl pillow in yellow and blue stripes.

  • Jessica

    Liked 5 Orange Potatoes on FB!

  • Kellie

    Lattice or yellow sunshine owl!

  • Eglantine

    Hi,
    My favourite pillow is here : http://www.etsy.com/listing/83292178/owl-pillow-stuffed-animal-owl
    Followed on twitter et I like on facebook !

  • Jill

    Lisa, I am simply in love with everything you make! My daughter and I adore owls, and these are some of the cutest I’ve seen. I think this one is my (her) favorite:
    http://www.etsy.com/listing/63484624/handmade-large-owl-pillow-in-blue-and?ref=v1_other_2

  • Chel Krisik

    I really think all of the stuffies are extremely cute! But I think out of the owl I like the blue & yellow striped one, Lemondrop Tootsie Pop.
    (SO adorable!)

  • Chel Krisik

    I not only like, but LOVE 5 Orange Potatoes on FB!

  • Chel Krisik

    I shared this link (and great giveaway) on my Facebook page (Chel Krisik)

  • Lisa

    Really enjoyed the interview! My daughter collects owls and LOVES Lisa’s plushies! The elephants are also a favorite!
    Thanks! Like on FB!

  • Brenda

    vhttp://www.etsy.com/listing/78248165/owl-pillow-plush-owl-stuffed-animal-eco
    Love this one. :) Cute stuff!

  • Pingback: little felt ladybug how to | 5 Orange Potatoes

  • rachel waxman

    i would choose the bamboo owl, because we have lots of greens and natural materials in my classroom and bamboo would just add to that :)

  • Sharon Diven

    Love Love Love the Owl Decor Pillow, Stuffed Owl – the owl with the big green eyes – so precious!

  • rachel waxman

    p.s i also just liked 5 orange potatoes on facebook – and i will be trying THIS activity with my class, who is obsessed with apples – http://www.5orangepotatoes.com/blog/2009/12/03/cinnamon-applesauce-ornaments/

  • Sharon Diven

    I follow you on twitter.

  • Sharon Diven

    I like you on facebook.

  • Sharon Diven
  • Jen Swain

    Hey Jen, what adorable owl pillows! Love the 5 orange potato site. I like the stripy one made out of a recycled sweater. So cute!
    I don’t comment enough, but I have done a few of your projects. Last Christmas, Liv and I made the feather ornaments. Love your website!
    Hope the family is doing well. N looks so big, like a little lady! The owl halloween costume was awesome too.

  • Lyudmyla

    Hello! I like yellow flowers and sunshine!

  • Lyudmyla

    Yellow flowers and sunshine. Followed you on twitter

  • Lyudmyla

    Yellow flowers and sunshine. Followed on Facebook.

  • Lyudmyla

    Yellow flowers and sunshine. Posted on Facebook.

  • Lyudmyla

    Yellow flowers and sunshine. Posted on twitter.

  • http://TinkerLab.com Rachelle | TinkerLab

    Hi Jen! Such a great interview. I loved learning more about Lisa and Five Orange Potatoes (I had wondered about the name too). I keep learning about blogs that are named by kids — someone should harness all that smart kid energy!! All the owls are adorable, but I know my 3 year old would swoon over the pink one with the swirly pattern on it (it has a pink/white check on the back). Thanks for the generous giveaway.

  • http://TinkerLab.com Rachelle | TinkerLab

    I liked 5 orange potatoes on FB!!

  • http://TinkerLab.com Rachelle | TinkerLab

    And now I’m a fan on Twitter too!! Yay for supporting artists for the holidays. Handmade holidays are the way to go!!

  • Maria Weinert

    Have been a customer since last year. Love your creations. Maria