maker: Kelsey Cooper of Kelso Doesn’t Dance

Kelsey Cooper, of Kelso Doesn’t Dance, is what one might call a multi-purpose dynamo. The common thread between her notebooks, planters, purses, and totes? They are all eco-based, so you can feel good about purchasing something that’s had a history and and, through her, finds a new life. Kelsey’s work was recently featured in Spring 2013 issue of Green Craft Magazine. Dear Handmade Life couldn’t resist talking over DIY and reuse with Kelsey. You’ll see that she’s as smart as her products are practical.

-Aurora Lady

According to Kelsey:
My name is Kelsey Cooper, I have a Seinfeld reference for almost everything, my initials sound like my name (one of many nicknames), I like Wes Anderson movies, wacky outfits and birthday cake (not exclusively at birthdays). I was born in northern but have lived mostly in southern California and now in Long Beach.
I take things I find and like, but don’t necessarily need, like a children’s book, old map or cool fabric on a shirt that doesn’t fit you (or sometimes, anybody) and make them into functional items like map and book page wallets, children’s book and game card notebooks and different purses and totes out of old dress shirts.

And I’ve also started making alternative gardens. Succulent Picture Frames: living succulents growing verically out of wall frames and String Gardens: hanging foliage and succulents growing without a planter from moss and string balls.

I’ve always been a maker. I was in Girl Scouts for a long time when I was younger so I always had art and craft supplies around and went to places and was exposed to things that I wouldn’t have otherwise been. I started Kelso Doesn’t Dance five and a half years ago after I had gotten so many compliments on items I handmade and then found out about Etsy.
Creativity is both (luxury and necessity) for me, I’ve made shoes many times in my life and only realized recently that it was necessary to make them to get what I wanted (skinny feet make finding shoes troublesome) but there’s also sometimes when it’s a luxury to be creative because often times, especially in sewing projects, that it’s now actually more expensive to make your own clothes than to go and buy them.
I find inspiration all over. I like to joke that I make things out of trash but we all know the saying about “one man’s trash…” I like to go to thrift stores and reuse centers and look around, I often get inspired by what I find.  Sometimes I’ll be working on one product and get a great idea for something else because of what I’m doing, I think creativity often leads to more creativity, which reminds me of that Ira Glass quote.
My new branch of plant products is so different than the notebooks and wallets that I have been making so we’ll have to wait and see exactly where that takes me as I prepare and debut even more. The String Gardens are currently available only at shows, the Vertical Succulent Picture Frames will be ready for the summer shows and lookout for them both in the online shop soon (after some packing and shipping research – one of the many ways they are different than my other products).

Kelso Doesn't Dance Dear Handmade Life

Kelso Doesn't Dance Dear Handmade Life Kelso Doesn't Dance Dear Handmade Life Kelso Doesn't Dance Dear Handmade Life


You can find Kelsey’s creations here:

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