Etsy Crush: Made in Lowell

Liz Smith crafts ornaments, pincushions, and more in her Lowell studio.

Liz Smith has been making things since she can remember — back when her parent’s living room was her work space and her mom was her only client. These days, she knits coffee mug cozies and felts cupcake pincushions in her own studio, Made in Lowell. Liz’s hands are never idle — a local artist is even crafting an embroidery hoop that says “Never Not Making” for her.

(Photos courtesy of Made in Lowell)

Tell me a little bit about yourself?
I grew up in Newton and I spent my summers on the Vineyard. My parents are artists — my dad is an architect and my mom is an artist. My whole life I did art projects set up by my mom, so I’ve always wanted to do this. I would make and sell things on the side and have other jobs until I was able to quit working outside the home and get a studio in Lowell to start making and selling full-time.

What inspires your work?
Color, texture, and surface design.

Have you always had a knack for knitting and crocheting?
I was actually taught by an elderly neighbor when I was a child and I did it all through my youth, but now I do a lot of felting that doesn’t involve knitting or crocheting. I do needle felting or wet felting, which allows you to make 3D objects like my cupcake pincushions.

How did you come up with the idea for a cupcake pincushion ring?
It was an evolution, like everything that I make. I started making these nest brooches. They were little swirls of wool with glass beads sewed in the center. I got an email from someone asking me if I could put a bottom on the brooches so that they could be used as a pincushion. When I turned the nest from a little cup to a bowl and turned it upside down, it looked like a cupcake. Sewers then asked if I could make something that they could wear, and since then the pincushion rings have been my most popular item.

What is your favorite piece to make?
I have a really large product line and I make at least 35 different types of products—you can start to feel like a machine. It’s like James Taylor singing “Fire and Rain” all of the time. I am constantly renewing my interest in all of my products by moving around to different objects. It’s thrilling to make something with your own bare hands out of nothing and have people respond to it with joy, happiness, and excitement—there’s nothing that matches that.

Where is your creative zone?
It’s interesting. I got a studio at Western Avenue Studios in Lowell, and it really expanded my business. Just to leave it out and come in the next day and have it there, and also to leave the house every day and go someplace where you are dedicated to your business — that is a psychological benefit I could not have imagined. It’s been tremendous.