One of the things I like best about Etsy Team Game Day is that, not only do I get to feature the beautiful creations of one of my team members (the Crafting in Color team or the Queer Etsy Street Team), but I get to spend an hour or more  learning more about them, peeking into their shops and their blogs and their facebook pages, and sometimes, finding interesting surprises!

That’s the case with today’s featured shop, Galleria Di Giani, of my Queer Etsy Street Team.  John Tozzi, the multi-talented artist behind this shop, makes gorgeous jewelry mostly out of very cool, unique semiprecious gemstones.  If words like hematite, labradorite, kyanite, and kashgar garnet set your heart racing, then go immediately to his shop and bask in the natural stone beauty.

John creates jewelry that is versatile and classic—perfect for formal wear and jeans alike.  As he writes,

Whether you are wearing your little black dress, your power suit, a t-shirt and jeans, or a tailored blouse and skirt, each piece in my shop will go with many of them.

I particularly like his aromatherapy necklaces—sweet necklaces that feature a sterling silver perfume vial with a tiny wand inside.

John is an enthusiastic contributor to the Queer Etsy Street Team.   One of his greatest contributions was a recent blog post, “You Just Have To,” on the Team blog.    It’s a personal response to the recent rash of suicides among young gay men.  He writes,

I am a 45 year old gay man. For those of you not versed enough to do the math and understand, I came out at 22, in the mid 1980’s, when the world was first gripped by the AIDS scare. It was not an easy time to come out. Just hearing the word “gay” made people recoil, afraid they would catch something. It was not an easy time for me. But then again, my teens were no picnic either, for so many reasons.

I was bullied for being smart.
I was bullied for wearing glasses.
I was bullied for being fat.
I was bullied because I was not particularly good at most sports.
I was bullied because I hung out with girls at school most of the time.

He movingly describes the abuse and the rejections of the intervening decades.  But John survived, and he has a message to young gays:

Someday, the whole country will allow us to legally marry. It is coming. You just need to stay around to see it.

Someday soon, we will be able to openly serve in the military. You just need to stay around to see it.

And, most importantly, twenty years from now, it will be YOUR turn to pass on your survival stories to the next generation, so that they can know. You just need to stay around to do it.

You just need to stay around.

You just need to.

For a lot of us in the Queer Team, creating art and things of beauty  is about more than just skills, and more than just a business.  It’s about overcoming years of struggle, abuse, and marginalization.  About lives that “don’t make sense”, and insisting on creating beauty out of the chaos.  Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it’s not.  But it’s always there, in just about everything we make.

And, as it turns out, John has another side of his creativity–photography.  He runs another blog, “Shed Your Inhibitions,” which features his gorgeous erotic photography, combined with wonderful musings on the art and the business of photography.  He is a truly gifted photographer of the male figure.

I am inspired to read his take on creative inspiration, like these thoughts on the artistic potential of cemeteries:

I have done many photo shoots over the years in cemeteries….   Cemeteries are places with a truly powerful aura.  To me, cemeteries are full of life.  No, there is no pun intended in that.   The collected energy felt in a cemetery is an amazing thing.  To be able to combine the life and energy in a cemetery with the powerful nature of a nude human being in a public place can make for strong photos.

I love that he brings his unique aesthetic sense equally to the male body and the female wardrobe.   Everybody wins!

Thank you, John, for everything you share with the world.

Find John Tozzi’s work at these places:

On Etsy:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/GalleriaDiGiani

At his Shed Your Inhibitions Blog:  http://johntozziphotography.blogspot.com/

At his jewelry blog:   http://galleriadigiani.blogspot.com/

On facebook:  http://facebook.com/galleriadigiani

Etsy Team Game Day is here, and although the Oregon Ducks game is over (of course my Duckies won!)  I still get to type to the dulcet tones of LSU and Florida (with 3 minutes to go in the 4th [post-script: and what a game that ended up being!])

I’ve recovered from the dreadful attack of stomach flu that robbed me of my Saturday last week, and made me fill in with just a stop-gap post on my Queer Etsy Street Team comrades.  And now I greet this week’s remedial (?) Etsy Team Game Day Post day with renewed enthusiasm!

Today I’m extra-excited, because I get to feature the splendiferous Queer Etsian, Michelley Queen of Queens! Why do I love Michelley?  Well, first off, how can you not give respect to someone who calls their Etsy shop an “arts and crafts chop shop [and] surreal smorgasbord of whimsical, fierce, fine art.”

 

Lucifist Lucifer--Surreal Fine Art Giclee Print

 

And then she goes on to describe her art:

My art work marries childlike whimsy and feminist defiance as viewed through an absurdist lens. All of it….conceived, designed and handmade, by me, usually in a frenzied state of creative compulsion.

 

"I'm not a Humanitarian, I'm a Hell-Raiser" Mother Jones Print

 

Those of you now reading who know me at all (and some of you have known me since high school [[I’m talking to you, David and Martha]]) will be laughing at this point.  Whimsy, feminist defiance, absurdist lens, frenzied state of creative compulsion….  who are we talking about here?

 

Hysterical Bitch--Surreal Fine Art Giclee Print

 

Hysterical Bitch?  Hellraiser?  Obviously I’m going to appreciate this woman and her art.

Michelley is an award-winning artist who has been creating since childhood.  As she tells us,

I was born an innately dramatic child, in the great state of NJ, in the late ’60s, to equally dramatic parents. My imagination has always been a juggernaut and I began compulsively creating art at a very early age. I was hugely influenced as a tot by fairy tales, psycho-sexual vampire movies made in Italy, the wonders of nature and Bugs Bunny in drag.

It is the Bugs Bunny influence that I find most inspiring.  How many artists’ ouvres encompass the demented, homicidal bunny motif?

 

Some Bunnys Gonna Pay---Surreal Fine Art Giclee Print

 

But beyond all this, I again pay homage to another Etsy Team Leader.  I am grateful and humbled by those generous Boddhisattva-like individuals who devote their valuable time to making our teams run for the rest of us.  Michelley runs the Queer Etsy Street Team blog, and manages the Queer Etsy Collective Shop, which gives all proceeds to a charity working on preventing suicide among gay youth.

I can’t close this post on Michelley Queen of Queens without mentioning her Day of the Dead Soaps.  Day of the Dead is coming up, folks, and do you want to be caught dead without banana-cream scented skull soap?

 


Banana Cream Scented Skull Soap

 

Find Michelle Queen of Queens at these places:

on Etsy:    http://www.etsy.com/shop/queenofqueens

on her webpage:   http://michelle-cartaya.artistwebsites.com/index.html

on Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/QueenofQueensArt

Faithful readers will have noticed the absence of my Saturday Etsy Team Game Day Edition.   The spirit was willing, but the flesh was in bed with a ferocious attack of stomach flu (or food poisoning…hard to say).  It came, consumed my Saturday, and was gone by Sunday morning.

I owe my Queer Etsy Street Team a feature!  But now it’s Monday, and the University of Oregon Ducks aren’t playing in the background, and I didn’t have a whole day to dwell on the fabulousness of my team-mates, and I just don’t feel like the Game Day Cheerleader that I like to spend my Saturdays being!

To tell the truth, I’m still not feeling so hot.  And, did I mention I’m at the laundromat?

So, let’s do this.  I’m going to share some of my most favorite items from a few of my fellow Queer Etsy Street Team Shops.  These are things I’ve been coveting for quite awhile now.  And now you can covet them too.  I’ll put the links to their shops in so you can click through freely and enjoy the bounty of queer creativity at your fingertips..so to speak.

And next Saturday, when all my parts are rejoined, I’ll get back on the Game Day Horse and take another, for-real ride over to Queer Etsyland.

Green Alien Bead, from the Fabulous Crowbirdie Beads

Your Must-Have Christmas Skull jewelry by the ever-eclectic BunnyKissd

Subtle woodworking style by Ramshackle Studios

Haunting brushed glass briolettes from Gilliauna

One-of-a-kind take on LGBT Pride jewelry, by Elles Beads

And last but not least…

A demented, homicidal bunny, courtesy of QueenofQueens

Stay tuned!