woman-owned * single-owner small business * art inspired by nature
My name is Danielle and I am the artist/owner of Autumn Phoenix Designs. Here's a bit of my story and why I do what I do.
I grew up in a suburb of Milwaukee (West Allis) and was never really connected to nature, other than going to the park or visiting state parks. I studied Biology in college, and even then, I went through life pretty much entirely disconnected from the natural world around me.
In 2010, I moved to the opposite corner of Wisconsin for my high school science teaching career in a small, rural community. It wasn't until around 2018, when my husband and I moved to a house on about three acres of land, that I finally started to connect to nature.
Our three acres of land provided something I didn't even know that my soul was craving.
Shortly after moving, we got a few goats (as pets, not for food or dairy), and taking care of the goats forced me to get outside every day--no matter the season or weather. I began to notice things that I was never even aware of before. I watched trees cycle from bud to dying leaf and back again. I found tiny flowers amongst the grass that I never even knew existed, because I never thought to look. I steeped in the peaceful silence of a quiet winter morning, with the snow absorbing sounds in a way that the grass of the summer simply cannot do; I used to avoid winter as much as possible, and while it's still my least favorite season, I gained a new appreciation for the beauty of that time of year. I started to pay attention to the moon, the stars, the sun, and noticed how they changed position in the sky as the days came and went. I quickly learned that one of the most beautiful things is just sitting quietly outdoors, just taking in all the rich sounds, smells, and sights--no matter the season.
In March 2019, I took a class on wire wrapping. It woke a creativity in me that sat dormant for over 30 years. I was quickly drawn to making trees--it wasn't that I sought out how to do it, but rather, I firmly believe that I was called to do it, and I simply followed a calling. At first, it was an irresistible force--there was not enough time in the day to satiate my hunger for creating. Eventually, I settled into a rhythm and worked when I feel drawn to do so; sometimes that was three days in a row, and other times it was three weeks between projects.
About one year after doing wire wrapping, I took a 2-hour workshop in which we made stained glass sun catchers. I immediately loved the process; I received a bunch of start-up supplies from my parents (they did stained glass in the 80s), and quickly took to the art. People showed an interest in my work, and so I began to sell it, and eventually opened my Etsy shop. The rest is history!
It doesn't matter whether or not I sell what I make. I mean, yeah, it's nice 😛, but I create what I do because it brings me joy, because it fulfills my deep human desire to create, and because (which I didn't realize at first, but do now) it provides me a way to say back to nature, "Look at how utterly beautiful and amazing you are....I will help show others your magnificence."