FEATURED ARTIST: Kari Chittenden (Kari Beads)

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Tell me a little about yourself…

Hi Maryanne! My name is Kari Chittenden and I’m from Plymouth, Indiana. I make miniature fairy garden accessories: glass flowers, fairies and other cute plant poker designs that have an attached wire used to anchor them into dirt. I make my little fairy garden doo-dads by shaping molten glass of different colors into figurines by using only a pick and needle-nose pliers. I never use presses or molds so no two are exactly alike. My items can be purchased online at www.etsy.com/shop/karibeads or in person at my local Farmer’s Market, Saturdays, May through October in Plymouth, Indiana.

How did you get involved with gardening products?  What led you to it?

I started out making glass beads back in 2000 as a hobby to share with my daughter. At that time, she was only 12 years old and just wanted to make cute little animal beads. We made beads for many years together and then she grew up and I kept making beads because I love it and it keeps me out of the bars! I started selling my handmade beads at our local Farmer’s Market in 2006 and on Etsy in 2008. I enjoy talking about design ideas with my customers as well as family and friends. Many great ideas are generated through brainstorming – 2 heads are always better than one! About 18 months ago, a customer at Farmer’s Market asked if I had ever thought of making miniatures for Fairy Gardens. At that time, I had never heard of them so I did a little research online and fell in love with the idea! I was able to convert many of my animal bead designs into fairy garden plant pokers. Then the ideas for new designs just grew from there.

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What’s your most favorite feature of your product? 

I think muted or earthy colors disappear in moss gardens. I like a pop of color so my fairy garden doo-dads are bright and colorful. They make me smile. I also love that this hobby appeals to boys as well as girls. When I was just making beads, my only customers were females. Now I’m attracting a male audience as well.

What comments, responses and feedback have you received about your gardening products?

“How adorable- the quality of these ladybugs and the hummingbird I also bought is fantastic; her attention to detail is remarkable!”

 “Your work is just beautiful!! I love my little bees and will be ordering more for sure!!! I appreciate the superfast shipping and the very safe packaging. Thank you!!”

“Gorgeous piece, happy with all purchases, fantastic everything – quality, contact, delivery.”

“GORGEOUS, STUNNING, OMG, how lucky am I! So pleased with this purchase, great contact. This seller is easy to work with, and this has been another successful international transaction! A++++ RECOMMENDED *****”

“Your beautiful work exceeded my expectations! The pictures do not do justice to how wonderful your things are! Thank you so much for taking on my special requests. My boys are so excited and think the boy fairies really are a great representation of them. I can’t wait to show the rest of my family and friends. The fairies will definitely be the stars of my garden. Thanks again for such a great job well done!”

“Just perfect for my fairy garden! Couldn’t find a fairy small enough to be the scale I needed. Small, delicate and beautiful! Thanks, Kari!!!!”

“Oh these are adorable. Wish I could have bought more – maybe later for sure…great service, quality, unique items and delivery. A++++”

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“Adorable fairy garden addition! Fast processing and shipping. Thanks!”

“This little guy is too cute for words! I totally adore him & he looks perfect in my fairy garden!! Your craftsmanship is amazing & I’m so pleased I found your shop. Thanks for the perfect packaging & speedy-Gonzalez shipping! I’m sure I’ll be stopping in soon!”

“So adorable & so very well made! I have proudly placed her in my indoor fairy garden display so I can admire her at all times! Thanks so much!”

“I received my hummingbirds and feeder and I must say…. this artist’s work is awesome! The detail is great not to mention very well made. I have only ordered the hummingbird feeder set with an extra hummingbird for my terrarium and upon receiving my minis, I am browsing for more to add from the Kari’s beads Etsy site. I would recommend anyone ordering from this seller and know that if you like very original pieces, you will be well pleased.”

“Precious little decoration for my indoor succulents. Even cuter in real life. Well made. Fast shipping. Will order again soon.”

“Adorable little birdbath! Kari is the best! HIGHLY recommend her wonderful shop!

“Love it! This was my first order from you but definitely not my last!”

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Do you have any advice for others interested in starting a garden?

If this is your first Fairy Garden, you might want to start small. Add a butterfly to any potted plant to begin with. Then maybe add a bee or snail. I have customers who add to their collection over time; each week they come and choose another piece for their garden. Other customers buy several items to set up a larger scene right away. They dive right in and create a whole village! One customer from New York said that his Fairy Garden was 4” long x 2’ wide!! I would love to see it!!! When making your scene, the idea behind fairy gardens is that it should be so cute that a fairy will want to move in.

In your opinion, why is gardening an art form?

Fairy Gardening is an art form because it takes creativity and imagination to make a beautiful scene.

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Do you have any advice about gardening?

If you use moss from your yard or nearby woods, a little root hormone sprinkled on the underside of the moss will really help your transplant be successful. If you are making a terrarium and the glass collects condensation, you are keeping it too wet.

What’s your favorite plant and why?

I think it looks adorable to set a tiny gnome house at the base of a bonsai tree. Moss and succulents are also great because they are super-easy to grow and come in so many varieties.

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Why do others need to get involved with gardening aside from replenishing the earth, saving and providing an environment to foster insect and animal life and beautification of the Earth?  How has it influenced you on a spiritual or emotional level or evolved you as a person, if it has?

It is a great hobby to share with a child. A shared hobby is an easy way to show a child that you enjoy being with them. It stimulates conversation and you can exchange ideas. You are bonding and building that child’s self-esteem all at the same time! In my opinion, there is nothing more important than our children.

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