24 February 2012

Indie Insider Interview with Ellen Mackler AKA Gma Ellen on Etsy

As part of my BESTeam commitment, I feature the fabulous shops and talented artisans who comprise our team. The goal of the Boosting Etsy Shops Team is to support to each other and to promote one anothers' Etsy shops through blogging and social media. If you are an interested in joining the BEST Team, please visit the team page on Etsy and join us. This year I'll be focusing on getting the inside scoop on my BESTies on Etsy!
Shop Banner for Gma Ellen Crochet Gifts

Ellen Mackler AKA Gma Ellen
Today we'll set a spell and chat with Ellen Mackler of Gma Ellen Crochet Gifts on Etsy. Ellen is an Alaska Native Indian living in Walla Walla Washington, she is married and a mother and a grandmother, she's part of a lineage of creative women who inspired her with their hard work and creativity. Her personal inspiration comes not only from her appreciation of her lineage and her research mostly. She has an extensive collection (over 35 yrs worth) of patterns, pattern books and magazines; yarn, thread and any other thing she can wrap around her crochet hook! Ellen says,  "I also have a growing collection of beads and buttons. It is rather cathartic to just dig through them sometimes. I also garner inspiration from the world wide web! I spend hours online just searching for inspiration."     
In her own words,  "I discovered I loved being crafty when I was in high school. I was very fortunate to have been given a good education at a 4-year Seventh-day Adventist Boarding Academy. I was given many opportunities which may not otherwise been available to me. I learned how to sew, decoupage, pottery among other things. These in particular stand out in my memory. And so it began. Also during this time I taught myself to crochet with the inspiration of both my grandmothers. I have fond memories of watching them spend countless hours at the age old handicraft. I just dabbled at crochet at first. That is until I married and had children! Other crafts/hobbies I have enjoyed . . . candle making, as well as making candle holders. I especially enjoyed learning Calligraphy. It takes a lot of dedication, and practice. I enjoyed painting with watercolors too. Although I am not very good at it, some day I would love to take a class."
Stunning view of Mt. Edgecombe

Ellen says, "If I could live anywhere, I think I would go back to a little island called Mt. Edgecombe on the Southeast Peninsula of Alaska where I grew up. If I could I would custom build my home with a panoramic view and a studio where I could while away the hours at whichever hobby or craft tickled my fancy! And my man would have a sea travelling vessel of some sort so we could travel about and explore. Stunning, isn't it? This is what I saw every day as well as all the other beautiful land and seascape that surrounds the area. I am so homesick right now!"
a traditional longhouse (known as Le Sha'as in the Tsimshian dialect)    
The Native Indian people of the Northwest Pacific coast lived in large houses (sometimes referred to as longhouses) which sheltered multiple families at times. The various different tribes had different styles of houses unique to their people. Ellen is proud to be an Alaska Native Indian. Her mother is full blooded Tsimshian from the Wolf Clan and her father was half Tlingit, half Norwegian. Her family originally hails from the Southeastern Peninsula of Alaska.    Ellen loves to read, but with her obsession with crochet and crafting (and etsy, and blogging, etc), she really doesn't have much time to read except as a sleep inducing activity at bedtime. Currently on her nightstand is a compilation of books called Mary Stewart's 'Merlin Trilogy' including The Crystal Cave; The Hollow Hills; and The Last Enchantment. The first paragraph just ropes you right in: "I am an old man now, but then I was already past my prime when Arthur was crowned King. The years since then seem to me now more dim and faded than the earlier years, as if my life were a growing tree which burst to flower and leaf with him, and now has nothing more to do than yellow to the grave." 
The family that plays together stays together!
With a big family such as hers I can see why her specialty dish is her self proclaimed "world famous" spaghetti. Ellen explains the tradition, ,"Not that any spaghetti is world famous, but mine is actually an event. It is very thick and 'chunky' with lots and lots of vegetables. Also, you have to understand, my children would not eat spaghetti at anyone else's house when they were growing up. We all decided long ago that I would only make spaghetti on special occasions. Birthday's, anniversary, and . . . Christmas. Anyway, for many years it really was an 'event'. I have been known to feed upwards of 50 people."

I do love Ellen's definition of "Spare Time" as follows, "My hobby/craft/obsession is my spare time. Otherwise, I love to watch movies and my favorite television shows (crochet). And, listening to music (crochet). Spend time with my family: 3 grown children and 7 grandchildren (crochet). One thing I do that does not involve crochet: I am the Vice President of a local organized Women's Pool League. This runs from autumn through spring and we play every Thursday evening. There are usually 12 - 14 teams of four women each and we play each other team twice, at home and away. This helps keep my sanity. Otherwise I would be a hermit were it not for my full-time job."

Beaded Crochet Cell Phone Charm
Ellen's handwork spans the reaches of imagination. I am personally infatuated with this delicate strand of grape colored frosted glass beads intermingled with pink crochet flowers. This versatile necklace can also be worn as a bracelet wrap, or choker. Also the teal cell phone charm is a great reminder that spring is just around the corner! 


  1. Great interview! Love your photos!

  2. So pleased to have watched Ellen's blossoming as an artist & craftswoman, from utilitarian items to truly inspired creations, her creations run the gamut. Fine interview, Joy.

  3. very nice Ellen, loved your interview, they got you to a tee. Your so talented, love you girl, Roxanne

  4. Greate interwiew (love the style JOY)!
    greate shop Ellen Mackler!

  5. Wow! What an interview! I'm blown away...now I know I have to kick it up a notch. Congats, Ellen!

  6. This is FANTASTIC! I love the photos and the details...beautiful!

    Dough, Dirt & Dye

  7. How lovely to find out about our fellow team members in this way. Was fascinated from start to finish and now have a real idea of the inspiration behind the creations! Thanks Joy - and Ellen, as well.

  8. this is wonderful! I love learning about the people behind the shops!


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