Wednesday Indie Artist Fixx with Happy Owl Glassworks

This week’s Indie Artist Interview is with Tracy from Happy Owl Glassworks. Offering lovely fused glass jewelry, accessories and homewares since 2003, Happy Owl has been one of my faves right from the beginning. I even own a Happy Owl Glasswork’s pendant and I love it. Happy Owl is probably best known for their badge menagerie—a collection of totem animals in your choice of either a badge or pendant. I defy you to pick just one as your favorite. I know I can’t!

Read more about Tracy and her work in my interview with her below.


1. What’s the name of your business and what do create and sell?

Happy Owl Glassworks. I fuse glass and illustrate; mostly housewares and accessories featuring animals galore!

2. When did you get started with your business and why did you decide to open your own indie biz?

When we moved to LA in 2003, I started my website. It was slow at first, but I was further motivated when I participated in the “Bazaar Bizarre West” in Los Angeles in December (my first retail show experience!). Before LA we lived in Bozeman, MT and I was part of a co-op gallery where I made more sculptural, non-functional pieces. This was fun at the time, but I soon realized that the gallery scene wasn’t my main interest. I decided to experiment with smaller pieces for the masses when an old contact requested some work that they could sell in their shop. Once the website took off, I was laid off from my office job soon thereafter. I never looked back.


3. What’s the creative process like for you?

Usually slow-going at this point in time! I draw from inspirations such as animals and nature—a subject that is constantly teasing me to get outside more. I’m usually feeling most creative while I’m doing “other” things, like showering, driving, walking. Once I get an idea I’ll sketch it out and take it to the next step of creating the piece.

4. What’s been your biggest accomplishment so far?

The ability to juggle being a new parent as well as managing the business. When I was pregnant I was apprehensive about my abilities to do both. But somehow we’ve managed without daycare or help, and I’m so happy to be there for every one of her milestones. Accomplishing both has been a smoother ride than I expected and it’s all about taking it slowly, having small goals.


5. Tell us one funny/goofy/silly thing about yourself.

I consider myself a culinary experiment—I didn’t eat any vegetables, besides carrots, until I was 21. I was one of those “picky eaters” (to the extreme!) as a child/adolescent. I now try new foods with every chance I get: jellyfish, raw beef, exotic vegetables… a far cry from my childhood days of junk food and meat slathered in ketchup!


6. What’s the best thing about what you do? And the worst?

Best thing: the freedom that my work allows. I can take time off whenever I want, assuming I’ve worked my ass off beforehand. Worst thing: the obsessiveness that owning a business inevitably causes. I’ve learned that it makes it very difficult to “leave your work at work”.


7. What blogs and mags do you read and what shops do you shop at? List as many as you want.

I try to not be online much, so I’m admittedly in the dark regarding a lot of this stuff! But when I do I’ll browse Apartment Therapy, Design*Sponge, Decor8, and leaf through Dwell, ReadyMade and any other periodical that peaks my interest at the library.


8. Were you an artsy craftsy kid? If so, what kinds of things did you do?

Indeed! I was always the girl who looked forward to the once-a-week art class in grade school. And since the high school where I attended didn’t offer much in terms of art, I took classes at the local community college because I was desperate to learn more and be more creative (more drawing classes, sculpture, metals, photography). I was always sketching as a kid, something that I’ve been picking back up recently. I also really loved to sew and make my own clothes (even a very dated early-90’s prom dress, shimmering in gold taffeta!). I was instinctively attracted to anything that allowed me to express myself without words, and still do.


9. If a genie came along and granted you one wish, what would it be?

To be a musician.

10. What does indie mean to you? You can give a literal definition, choose to be a little esoteric or a combination of both. 😉

To be self-made and self-sufficient.


11. What are you reading, watching and listening to?

Right now I’m reading the In the Heart of the Sea. I’m on an armchair-adventure kick!

12. What are your inspirations?

Wildlife is a big inspiration for my work, and I visit as many places as I can to learn more about the animals that I use. My goal is to understand the animals I use and to be able to explain what is so special about them. I really enjoy learning about the various species, especially the obscure ones. I suppose I’m a very amateur zoologist. I am also very influenced by graphic design, which is much of the reason for the simplicity of lines/colors in my work.


13. What’s new for 2008? Any new plans or products that you want to share?

This year is my fifth year in business! I’m bringing back all the creatures in the Badge Menagerie that I’ve made in the past 5 years, and there are 56 of them in total. I am also introducing new nightlights (elephant shrew and kiwi) and tiny dishes that have all of the creatures on them as well. New cufflinks and illustrated prints will be introduced, too. A lot of new stuff will be available at Happy Owl beginning in February and all through the Spring.



  1. Thanks for sharing such a great artist. I unfortunately have not heard of her until now and I am sad because I have been missing something awesome!

    Off to shop!!!

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