A visit with artist Meredith Dada - Part 2

Beaded Bird Ornament from MeredithDada.Etsy.com

Glad you could drop by! Today I'm visiting with "fourth generation crafter/artist" Meredith Dada of MeredithDada.Etsy.com. Last week she authored a thought provoking piece on Etsy titled  "Do The Work ....Stay out of the results."  

Her post about art, identity & social marketing is worth a read. It is mostly a conversation she had with another artist, David, who is pretty much off the social networking grid (no website, twitter, Facebook or even a cell phone). Meredith kindly allowed me to reprint her post here last week. If you missed it, go ahead & click through. I'll wait for you (insert humming of random Christmas carols here)...

... So, Reader, what do think about David's advice? Are you a "little fish"? Can you get out of your own way & just create? Do you even want to?

I was intrigued by both of these artists and invited Meredith to stop by for a visit today. Go ahead put your feet up by my imaginary fire while this talented soul shares  her thoughts and  colorful creations with us. Just let me get these cookies out of the oven and then we can settle in for a nice chat. (By the way all  photos are courtesy of the artist. For more info on the art, click the captions that mention Etsy to visit the listing.) 

Meredith, when did you first become interested in art?

MD: I was born into it really. My family is full of creative people, artists, and general crafty folks. Art has always been a part of everyday life for me. My mom is a very talented artist, known mostly for her pottery and ceramic work.

Meredith's Mom, artist/teacher Meg Johnson

MD: She was also an art teacher for most of my life. Her mother was also a talented artist and avid crafter. She too was an art teacher, she held weekly China painting classes out of her home studio for years. They were teaching me the art “basics” from the start. I was playing in clay by age two in my mom’s studio. I was oil painting at five years old in my Grandma’s studio.

Meredith's Dad, photographer David Johnson
MD: My dad has always been interested in photography and had a darkroom built next to my Mom’s art studio in the backyard. I was shooting pictures and developing in the darkroom in elementary school. Artistic expression in our family was pretty much mandatory. When I was little I just assumed everyone had an art studio/darkroom/woodshop in the backyard!

What are your favorite materials & why?

MD: Since I grew up surrounded by all types of art, I worked with everything I could get my hands on. I have always loved working with ceramics, sculpting, and throwing pottery. I also loved to draw and paint. About ten years ago I combined my love for ceramics and my love of painting into mosaic work. I was essentially “painting” with my own custom tiles and ceramic pieces.

I had this butterfly ready to mosaic, but I needed more color, more detail...then it hit me, BEADS!

MD: About six years ago my Grandmother passed away and I was given her big plastic bins full of craft supplies. One of those bins was full of beads and rhinestones. We used to stay up late and watch old movies while beading Christmas ornaments or ball gowns for my Barbie dolls. When I saw all of those jars of colorful glass beads, they reminded me of little jars of paint. I immediately started “bead mosaics”. Suddenly everything fell into place for me. My process now combines all of my favorite materials. I get to sculpt with clay, draw and paint my designs, and mosaic with beads and rhinestones. 

Blue Lotus Flower hand beaded dish at MeredithDada.etsy.com
Where do you find inspiration?

MD: I consider myself very lucky. I live in beautiful Ojai, California. I am surrounded by nature, I live just a few blocks from the base of the mountains and we have the best weather! Sometimes a nice long walk with my son gives me all the inspiration I need.

MD: Occasionally I will find a piece of jewelry or a charm that I love and I will design a piece around that one component. Sometimes I just see a particular bead color and I want to make something to showcase it. I keep a small sketchbook with me and the camera phone is such an awesome invention! I always have my artwork in the back of my mind and I try to look at everything around me with an artistic eye. 

Meredith & her art at Olive Hyde Art Gallery

MD: Recently I had a gallery show in the bay area. My husband and I used it as an excuse to take a little mini vacation in San Francisco. I find if my creative well is running dry, a change in environment breaks open my artist eye and I see things with a different perspective. We don’t live that far from San Francisco, and we have been there before. That said, I always try to find the “new” in things, so we decided to stay in Japantown, and look at a city we have visited before in a new way. I feel it is essential to one’s creative flow to avoid the ordinary and experience things outside of your routine whenever possible. So don’t be surprised if my future work has subtle Japanese elements in it!

Do you listen to anything while creating? If so, who is on your current playlist?

MD: Music plays such an important role in my creative process. Certain songs, a particular musician or band can have very strong emotional ties, how can it not affect how I create? If I handed you my MP3 player and you scrolled through my music collection, you would probably think I was a total schizophrenic! You would see Tom Petty, then The Shins, and random 80’s Madonna, The Beatles, and then Weezer. I am all over the place but if we are just talking about my current playlist you will defiantly see a lot of Dave Matthews (the hippy girl in me has loved him forever). There is a lot of Death Cab For Cutie, Band of Horses, Guster, Cake, She and Him, and The Morning Benders.

That last band was one I had never heard of, but while in San Francisco we found out they were playing near our hotel, so we decided to check them out. Again, it is about thinking outside your usual bubble. The worst that can happen…you see a lame show. The best that can happen…you find new inspiration!

How long have you been selling your art?

MD: I have a picture on my flickr page of me selling my “art” during one of my parent’s backyard art shows when I was about five years old.

MD: However, if we are speaking technically, I started selling my mosaic work about eight years ago. Since most of my work was large pieces of furniture, I sold it on consignment in galleries. With the encouragement of a few friends I opened my Etsy shop in August of 2009 for my beadwork. I didn’t get up the courage to start listing and selling until this year. I wish I started sooner! 

What is your favorite piece in your shop right now?

MD: My favorite piece in the shop in the shop is “Motherhood” mommy and baby bird.

MD: Becoming a mother has changed me completely, and I will never be the same person I was before my son came into my life. I feel honored and lucky to be his mom and having him inspired me to take my art to the next level. Being a stay-at-home-mom has allowed me to focus fully on being an artist and a mom. I feel like I poured all of my emotions about being a new mom into this piece, and it holds a special place in my heart. 

Meredith, thank you for stopping by today. And thanks for the invite to your studio on Sunday. I'll be there with jingle bells on.

Reader, will you join me?  If you've enjoyed this conversation, pop back here 12/26  for a  visit to Meredith's studio. She has also promised to share her favorite Etsy shops - plus some excellent advice from her grandfather that made her  think about the true meaning of success.  C'mon it will be fun....I'll even bake more virtual cookies. What's your favorite?

Before you go - have you entered the 12/30 random drawing for a 100 piece art supply set? Leave a comment on this blog before then & you are entered. Besides the visiting artists always enjoy your feedback. Want more info on the prize? Then click here.


  1. Wow! Stacey, you always bring such amazing artists to visit :)

    I have never seen such beautiful bead work.

    I think Meredith's convo with her friend David is very interesting. I think we do place too much importance on trying hard to get noticed and I for one have spent way too much time on that this year and not been creative enough, something that is to be remedied in the New Year, YAY!

    Stacey, hope you and your family have a wonderful Holiday time together, cheers, T. :)

  2. Merry Christmas Stacey~
    Loved reading about Meridith, and her beaded creations are so beautiful.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing Meredith and her art. She's amazing, and so is her art. And I got the added benefit of hearing a new band I didn't know about. They're great.

  4. Abundant good wishes for happiness and joy this season.

  5. Thank you Stacey for this awesome post, and thank you all for your lovely comments! :)