Saturday, April 28, 2012

{Sponsor Love} Clementine Art

I'm really excited to bring to you another 'Sponsor Love' interview, highlighting Clementine Art - a company that's been a wonderful supporter of The Parsley Thief. These Sponsor Love posts are a way to give my readers a more in depth look into some great companies who's products help beautify the world we live in. I hope you'll enjoy learning more about Diana, the founder of Clementine Art and what helped spark her desire to make a difference.

Company Name: Clementine Art
Owner: Diana Mercer
Company Location: Boulder, CO

I've been a fan of Clementine Art for a long time now. But for anyone reading that may not be familiar with your company, can you tell me more about it?
I'd be delighted! In 2003, I opened Clementine Studio, a mixed-media art studio for children in Boulder, Colorado. After a year or so of watching children smear themselves from head to toe with paint, glue, marker ink, and crayon rubbings as part of the creative process, nagging questions about the ingredients and long-term safety of these art supplies lingered. I started mixing up simple, wholesome art products in my kitchen with ingredients I could be sure of, like flour, salt and oil, and colors from spinach and turmeric. Clementine was born from the idea that we can do better for children when it comes to art products.

What is the significance behind the name "Clementine Art"?
I chose the name Clementine for my studio and our art products because it has a fresh and wholesome ring to it, and it reminds me of the old folk song "My Darlin' Clementine". It's sweet and simple without being contrived. That's also my philosophy for children's art.

How did you discover that there was a market and a need for eco-friendly, all natural art supplies?
The need for all natural art products became crystal clear to me after opening my studio. When a toddler would surprise us by putting a paintbrush in her mouth or somewhere unexpected, the parent would inevitably ask, "Is this ok?". I didn't feel comfortable with the status quo answer, "Yes, they're non-toxic" - since I didn't know what was in the products. I had questions about health issues related to the chemical preservatives and dyes I suspected were in there. Since natural products are available for children in almost every other category {organic clothing, organic and naturally dyed stuffed toys, natural wooden toys}, I realized that the world needed a natural alternative in art supplies as well.

What have some of your past occupations been? Anything in particular that lead you down the path to starting your own company?
Since 1992, I've been a teacher to small children. After teaching kindergarten for 10 years, I became very interested in the creative process, and opened Clementine Studio. That was a great leap for me into the world of owning a small business. I learned a lot, worked really hard, and finally sold the studio to a local non-profit to continue the mission, leaving me free to start Clementine Art with two incredible, and experienced partners.

How would you define your own personal aesthetic, and how does that translate into the products you create at Clementine Art?
I am drawn to things that are simple, fresh, lovely and unique. I also believe that, for children, getting back to the simple basics is developmentally best, as it allows them to do their own work inventing and innovating. When children's products are too complicated - with lots of bells and whistles - children aren't left with much to do. The focus of Clementine products is on the inspiration and creative opportunities that are made available with simple, beautiful and unique materials.

I know first hand that running a business can be stressful and time consuming work - What does your life outside Clementine Art look like?
I have more time on my hands than most, since I'm single. I've recently been working toward creating a wee family. I'm in the process of adopting a child right now!

What are some of your favorite hobbies or things to do in your free time?
Yoga, cooking, singing French Jazz with my band, hiking, painting, reading, and combing flea markets and yard sales for treasures.

Any suggestions on how parents can create an all-natural art supply collection for their kids? What are some of the products you'd recommend to get them started?
You don't need to toss everything you've got and go for it all at once. If you add a thing or two here and there, you'll be more natural before you know it.
Here's a list of basic supplies you can try in your transition to more natural art products:
Drawing | crayons, colored pencils, markers, charcoal pencils, oil or chalk pastels - {I love Clementine Art, Eco Kids, Lyra and Stockmar Brands}
Recycled Paper | assorted sizes, textures, and weights of watercolor paper, tempera paper, card stock, construction paper, cardboard, finger paint paper. Make sure to have some oversized paper available {18x24} or a large roll. I also save shirt cardboards, styrofoam trays {for printmaking}, aluminum foil, mat board, and newspaper.
Paint | tempera paint {at least 6 colors} and heavyweight chunky brushes to match. Clementine makes great natural tempera paint. Liquid watercolor paint and soft watercolor brushes to match {I love Colorations Liquid Watercolors even though they're not technically natural}.
Playdough | Clementine Art of Eco Kids
Collage Materials | Baskets or jars filled with any clean and interesting item from your personal recycle bin, community recycling/up-cycling area, or back yard. Here are some ideas for items to save/collect/recycle {in the photo below}

What are some of Clementine Art's hottest selling items?
Definitely our all-natural play-dough colored with Turmeric, Spinach and Carmine and scented with natural fruity scents. Our paint is wildy popular, as are our crayons and crayons rocks.

To help get you started with creating an all-natural art supply collection at home, Diana is generously offering one of Clementine Art's Gift Sets {a $43 value} to one lucky winner! To enter for a chance to win simply leave a comment below. 
As usual, you can enter multiple times by sharing this giveaway on Twitter or Facebook. Leave an additional comment here {not on my Facebook or Twitter pages please!} letting me know how you shared it for a maximum of three entries per person. A winner will be selected at random on Friday May 4th @ noon.
To learn more about Diana and Clementine Art you can visit their website, follow Clementine Art on Facebook or Twitter, and be sure to check out her blog, Darling Clementine, for some great art project ideas and inspiration! Thank you Diana and Congrats on all the new and exciting things going on in your life!
For companies, blogs, or businesses interested in advertising on The Parsley Thief - my contact information can be found in the 'About Me' section above.
UPDATE: The winner of the Clementine Art Set is Comment #14 - Billy B. Congrats!!


Renee {The Way to My Family's Heart} said...

What a beautiful concept. My three year old is current obsessed with play doh and I would love to give him a better product to get stuck under his fingernails!

Green Moon said...

I love her products we use them all the time at Green moon plus we give them away on our goodie jars!

momandsons said...

I love vibrant colors in the paint.

betsy_349 at hotmail dot com

Gina said...

I just found out my best friend is having twins! im sure she'll love to have a set ready for them to play with!!

Unknown said...

what a smart idea! i was wondering if there were any natural products out there! as a teacher, i have witnessed it all - getting paint in eyes, eating crayons, etc. it's so nice to know there's a natural alternative for parents!

Emily said...

Those crayons look perfect for little fingers!

jacque said...

Wow, what a fun job!!!! I have 3 kids and my 8 year old is especially into art. We would absolutely LOVE this!!, thanks for sharing!

Beth M. said...

My budding artist would love to have these!

Beth M. said...

Just shared it on fb :-)

Sarah R said...

When my tiny radical niece isn't plotting to take over the world with playgrounds and yogurt, she loves to draw!

Alison C. said...

I have a feeling my sassy niece would love this!

Yvonne said...

Love these! What a great idea.

Lauren Brown said...

My little artist would love this set!

Anonymous said...

My wife and daughters would love this! Billy B

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