Tara Chickey of Chickey's Herbals is taking over the shop for the month of May with her handmade clothing, leather goods, jewelry, ceramics, paintings, soaps, salves, tinctures, and more!
Tara is a maker in the purest sense of the word, always conjuring up something new in that big, beautiful mind of hers. And what we love most about her work is that everything is so thoughtful, so full of love and goodness. Sure, her output levels are dang impressive, but that never comes in the way of her intentionality.
We sat down with Tara to talk inspiration, herbal goodness, and creative flow.
What inspires your myriad of creations?
My works always seem to be inspired by my travels, connection to the plants, birds and the land. Nature is the biggest source of inspiration and continually recharges my senses and allows me to feel connected to the work that I do.
Have you always made clothing? What inspired this collection, and what is your goal when creating clothes?
I have been making clothing since I was in high school. My mom would make clothing for me throughout all of my childhood and teenage years. While she took me to fabric shops as a young child, I, unknowingly, fell in love with textiles. I was surrounded by beautiful fabric, and it inspired me to create my own clothes. I was too lazy to follow patterns and began creating some pretty terrible pieces of clothing in my teenage years. As a gained experience, I learned how to follow patterns, but I still enjoy making up my own or altering existing patterns to suit my desires.
I love clothing that can drape over the body without the need for shaping the garment. I enjoy oversized items that I feel all body types can feel beautiful while wearing. I also love to work with natural fibers, sometimes hand dyed, specifically linens and raw silks.
Do you have a favorite medium right now, or a few favorites? What's drawing you to that/those?
I always have 20 favorite new mediums! I always love working with the herbal remedies because there are constantly new things to harvest and make throughout the seasons. Every plant has a perfect time for harvesting for medicine and food, and I truly love that element of being an herbalist.
I also am really enjoying sewing as of late and will always find peace in painting.
What about the tinctures/salves/soaps? How long have you been working with those and what are some of the benefits of the products?
I wildcraft all of my plants for use in my tinctures, salves and soaps, which means that I work in small batches and use the fresh herb. So when I run out of, say, St John's Wort infused oil, I won't have any until the following June/July, which is harvest time. I never work with the dried plant material for oils or tinctures because the product is not nearly as effective when making oils and tinctures with dried plant material.
I also feel that my connection to the plant, honoring and respecting the plant when harvesting, effects the potency of the medicine. This is why I use herbs that are found in our area. Plants that surround you will heal you more effectively than plants that are not native to your region.
This brings me to the reason I do not use essential oils in my soaps. I personally feel that essential oils are very wasteful of plant material. For instance, it takes 2 tons of rose petals to make a small bottle of rose essential oil. To me this feels very unsustainable. I prefer to work with the actual plant rather than the essential oil. Also, essential oils are very powerful (it is the volatile oil of the plant), and I feel they are too much for my body and many others bodies.
You're a multitalented artist. What keeps you creating, what has allowed you to always create and try new things, and what do you do when you're feeling stumped? Do you ever feel stumped?!
I can always thank my parents for my creative flow. Since I was a child, when I wanted to try something out, my parents would always encourage the new adventure and help me navigate through the challenges. I feel this attitude has helped shape my creative spirit today. When I want to try something, nothing is going to hold me back. I am not a perfectionist, so there is no harm in my mind with messing up or trying something that may never be tried again. A color or textile or image might inspire a new avenue, and I always welcome the new project! I am a person who cannot focus on only one thing. I get so bored! I admire those people that can work day in and day out doing the same craft, but that is not me. I enjoy my passionate spirit and will continue to try new things when the inspiration strikes!
If I ever feel in a creative slump, I honor the need to do something else...maybe take some time off of making things for a while. I find my creative flow varies based on the seasons, and I honor the need to slow when I need to slow and take advantage of the sparks when they are there.