Interview with Lisa Topps of Ensorcelled Minds on Etsy

>> Tuesday, October 27

Quilling. What an unusual art! Thin pieces of paper not woven, not folded, but twirled and rolled into marvelous shapes. My Nana first introduced me to the art when she sent me a handmade card for a holiday.

"Nana, what's that curled paper stuff called?" I questioned. "Did you make it?" And of course my ever-gracious Nana was more than happy to teach me how.

I recently came across Lisa Topp's beautiful quilling on Etsy. (She also sells her art via a Canadian craft site, iCraft.)

Lisa Topps

Lisa hails from Canada and she loves it there. Well, except for the climate. "I wish I could pick Canada up on the globe and put it down somewhat closer to the equator!" she said.

"Deep Blue Ocean Quilled Dragon"

Two of my favorite designs of hers are the dragon and the little button snail, which turn out to be her original designs.

"Red Flame Quilled Dragon"

"I drew them out on paper first and then quilled them," she explained. "I still have the first dragon who was my prototype! I love fairies and dragons and fantasy things. I was bound and determined to make a dragon!"

"Large Snail Quilled Button Buddy"

"The snail came after," she continued. "I just wanted to use some large buttons up and that's what I came up with!"

"Bitty Bug Card - Little Wonders"

Lisa stumbled upon the art of quilling at a Michael's Craft Store, a franchise she's loved since she was a little girl. One day her eye caught an advertisement in the check-out line for a quilling class and she pounced.  “I took the class," she said, “and off I went!"

"Desert Lion - Born Wild Quilled ACEO"

Lisa named her store Ensorcelled Minds. "Ensorcelled means hypnotized by means of sorcery or under a spell," Lisa explained. "[And] that's exactly what I am when I'm in my scraproom!"

An ensorcelled Lisa in her beautiful studio

Even though it is an added expense, Lisa finds it helpful to separate her personal finances from that of her hobby, which is why she decided to incorporate her business into Ensorcelled Minds, Inc.

"Blue Darlings - 9 Paper Flowers"

Although Lisa is the sole owner of Ensorcelled Minds, she does occasionally feature work by her sister in her shop. These items are labeled by LM. “She is talented with colours,” Lisa noted of her sister, “so I have been encouraging her to play around with ink and perhaps try stamping.”

"Flowers - Any Occasion Handmade Card"

In addition to her Etsy store, iCraft store and website, Lisa also maintains a blog, Scrapninny's Notes. “I'm a blog troll,” Lisa admits. “I troll other people's blogs but rarely leave messages or click 'Follow.' I bookmark instead. The whole social network thing is all new and overwhelming to me! I started my own blog just as a way to keep more up to date than my website. This way, the website can be static and the blog can be a rolling news and announcement page.”

"Train - Handmade Paper Piercing Die-Cut"

Sometimes Lisa is asked to do a custom order, recently including little butterflies, paper bouquets and her original dragons. “The first thing that pops in to my head when I get a custom order inquiry is timing,” she notes. “Ensorcelled Minds is my part-time distraction. Plus, I am particular and that makes me slow.”

"Just For You"

By night Lisa may be a quiller, but by day she is a Chartered Accountant. “I enjoy making sure that financial reporting is in order,” she said, and spends her days helping clients tidy up their books. Lisa loves her job. Well, most of it. “Don't ask me anything about tax,” she begged. “Tax is my kryptonite!"

“The firm [where I work] is always filled with people who want to learn more and do better,” she continued. “I have recently been appointed quality control for the firm. This role fits my meticulous nature and allows me to teach to the firm and continuously improve ourselves … challenge is what keeps [my] job interesting!"


Lisa also gives workshops and puts together kits for other crafters. “The firm I work for requested that I get involved in the community more or be visible,” she explained. Too shy to teach at a college, she decided to look for a smaller venue. “I looked around for a small charity where my 'crops' or 'classes' would benefit them,” she said. “I wanted a small one so that my tiny contribution would go a longer way.” She eventually settled on Southern Ontario Animal Rescue and the Etsy For Animals team. She makes up kits for her classes, and when she is done teaching for the day she finishes any leftover kits and then sells the product in her Etsy store.

She grew up with animals and has always loved them. "Gerbils, guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits, fish, birds, dogs and once a cat," she said, listing off the pets she's had. Though she currently can’t have pets due to her busy schedule, she shows her love for animals through her charity work.

"Come For Coffee"

Between her busy career and Etsy store, Lisa still finds time for other things. “When I am not quilling,” Lisa said, “I am playing computer or console games with my husband.” She also enjoys watching TV and coming up with new designs for her digital paper-cutter.

"Love Butterflies"

I asked Lisa if she had any advice to give for those, like me, who also want to sell greeting cards on Etsy "What advice would I have for card sellers?” she mused. “Number one: DO research your supplies. Not all companies allow you to use their papers and embellishments for profit. Get permission.

“Number two: Price your work accordingly. Do you want to make a profit and pay yourself? Or do you just want to make your materials costs back so that you can keep creating just for fun?

“Number three: Offer combined shipping or packages. It costs a lot to ship one card but only a wee bit more for three. Better to go for the three!

“Number four: make sure your card won't get bent in the mail. Pack it in a light cardboard sandwich."

Though her career as a Chartered Accountant is time-consuming, Lisa knows this won’t always be the case. “What I hope,” she said, “is that in the decades between now and retirement, I build enough following [for my products] to have a steady stream of creative activity when my career is no longer front and centre ... I just LOVE playing with paper!”

~with many, many thanks to Lisa for her time and expertise.

3 comments. Leave a comment.:

Anonymous,  Oct 27, 2009, 2:23:00 PM  

I have admired quilling for a long time, but Lisa's take is fresh! I totally heart her creative snail and the dragon! What a great interview, Em, and great work from Lisa!

Scrapninny Oct 27, 2009, 9:02:00 PM  

Thanks for the interview! Your questions were so reflective for me. It was nice to take a moment to think.

Quilly Nilly Nov 3, 2009, 9:25:00 AM  

fabulous feature Lisa, congrats! Love your studio.

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