Monday, September 29, 2014

Monday Mosaic: Morning Cup

curated by Susanne of enchantedhue

Felted Wool Coffee Press Cozy by straynotions
Coffee or Tea Cup Cozy by StephanieCaveDesign
Holiday Photo Mug by jbarrows
Unisex Sampler Scarf by loominationstudio

Mornings are getting colder and darker now. There is nothing better than a cup of hot aromatic coffee or tea to warm your hands and waken your mind and a nice warm scarf around your neck to make watching the sunrise more cozy.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Why Handmade: Visit to Prunella’s Workshop

by Lynn Mohney of Prunella’s Workshop

This week marked a historical event in Prunella’s Workshop’s history. We had our first tour, demonstration and lesson. Boston Handmade members joined us on this momentous occasion and managed to convince me it can be done. Not only is it possible, it was a lovely experience.

Our shop space is limited. Our room had to be divided in half to provide an adequate safe place for a toddler to play during the day. While many crafts are possible with a toddler directly under foot, we work with oxy-propane torches. Having a child grab your elbow at an inopportune moment is not a great plan. That said, our space is planned out efficiently to maximize the number of tools available to us.

Jill of Early Bird Designs forming a bracelet

After pleasant conversation over refreshments in the playroom, we adjourned to the studio, where I introduced Boston Handmade to my workspace. I handed each lady a copper bracelet blank, explaining that, while not fully annealed, the blanks were not work hardened. Annealing is the process of heating up the metal so it is soft and pliable. The metal becomes work hardened as we work it with hammers, and if it is worked too much it can become brittle and break. I invited my guests to bend the metal with their bare hands. A common misconception is that metal will not bend as it is cold and hard; as such timid hands will not bend the bracelet. I demonstrated the metal would bend quite easily, and could easily be hammered flat again.

I proceeded to demonstrate the use of the hydraulic press. While the bracelets could be made in their entirety without the press, I wanted to to show this quick and easy process. Yet another eureka moment occurred when they realized the nylon the bracelet was formed into was quite solid. When in action, the pressure of the press squeezes the nylon in such a way it appears almost as soft as jell-o! I did a quick annealing demonstration in which I showed how to add a hammer texture and the process of making the bracelet without the press.

The real fun was to follow! Jill of Early Bird Designs showed us what she had learned by making a bracelet of her own she was able to wear home.  There is nothing like watching someone learn something entirely new. Jill was a great sport, and she made it look really easy. That was when I made my deep dark confession. I too had never made a bracelet using the hydraulic press before, as typically this is my partner’s domain.

All in all, this was an interesting learning experience for me. While I am comfortable with my processes, I had never branched out into teaching prior. I wasn’t entirely certain how it would pan out, but I was confident my Boston Handmade team would be patient with me should my plan not work out as intended. I learned I needed more time! These experiences never play out exactly as I imagine in my head, but I am pleased to say it was fairly close.

Have you ever done a demonstration/lesson in your studio? How would you prepare?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

What's in Your Bag? Craft Show Edition!

by Leanne of Loomination

You've seen it in the fashion magazines: when they unpack everything in a celebrity's handbag and she's got a laundry list of expensive cosmetics, a bottle of Evian, and something really down to earth, like a dog eared paperback or one of her child's favorite toys. No one wants to know what's in my handbag - it's seriously nothing to write home about.

The real question on our minds is what's in your craft show bag? That's where the magic happens!

My Regal Craft Show Bag

I have a large black shoulder bag made by Regal that's full of compartments and pockets where I can store all kinds of stuff. I think this bag, which my mom found at a yard sale, was originally intended to store craftbooking supplies, but it's really perfect for a craft show bag.

The inside!

Here's the very long list of essentials that I keep inside:

Business cards & hang tags
Business cards of stores that carry my work
Postcards for upcoming shows
Mailing list sign up sheet on a mini clipboard

Three card readers (two Square and one PayPal, just in case)
A knuckle buster and carbon sheets (really, really in case)
Coin purse with change
Phone charging battery and wall charger
Pre-moistened lens cloths (great for cleaning your phone screen)

Three ring binder with my sales permits and paperwork

Safety pins
Straight pins
Scotch tape
Measuring tape
Lint roller
Scissors - three different size pairs
Chalk Pen

Anti-bacterial wipes

Chalkboard tags
Credit card sign

Handy clear pockets

If you're building a craft show bag, these are some great essentials to consider putting inside. A lot of these items are really particular to my work as a fiber artist, such as the multiple pairs of scissors, the lint roller, and the different kinds of pins.

I carry a million credit card processing options, a phone charging battery, a stylus and special cloths to clean my phone because at my price points most sales (some days all) are made with credit cards.

It seems like I might be carrying too much, but every time I take something out, Murphy's Law kicks in, and that's the one thing I'm going to need at the next show. Last week I had an indoor show and didn't want to bring a ton of stuff, so I took out the most essential essentials to bring with me and left the bag at home. The one thing I really, really ended up needing - string - was something I left behind. Luckily I was able to pull a McGuyver with a strip of fabric, but if I'd had the string, it would have worked out much better.

Lots of storage!

With the busy holiday season it's a great time to get organized, especially if you're a first time exhibitor.

What do you keep in your craft show bag?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Handmade for Kids: How to make a puzzle using a cereal box

by Bev Feldman of Linkouture

Here is a really simple project that you can do with your children's drawings so that they can be enjoyed again and again in a new way. Just make sure to check with your children first that they don't mind cutting up their pictures!

All you will need for this project is:
  • A drawing (or even a photo your child took, enlarged to fit a sheet of paper)
  • Cereal box
  • Glue
  • Scissors

Cut open a cereal box and cover it with glue (I recommend using a glue stick or spray adhesive) and adhere the image to the picture side of the cereal box. Make sure the entire picture is securely glued onto the box; you don't want to miss any spots, otherwise it might not stick properly after you cut out the pieces. 

After the glue has dried, trim any excess cardboard.

Now comes the fun part! Flip it over and turn to the plain side of the box and draw in puzzle shapes. You can make the pieces as big or small as you would like (depending on your child's age), and draw whatever shapes. There is no right or wrong way to do it! Or, if you need help, you can download a puzzle template and glue it to the cardboard. 

Once you have all the shapes outlined, cut along the lines.

Your child's puzzle is down! Now it's time to put it all back together. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

An Artisan's Day

by Leanne of Loomination

For the past year, I have been working mostly full time as an artisan. Before that, I had a day job and squeezed my studio time into days off that were already jam packed with chores and errands.

I always thought it would be amazing to devote myself completely to my craft and wondered what my days would be like. I spend the vast majority of my time weaving, but there is also a lot of work that goes into the running of a business. I recently finished a business program that really changed the way I work and the structure of my days has changed a lot. We have a live/work studio, so on most days I don’t leave the house, which can sometimes feel a bit claustrophobic.

Studio side of the loft

Here’s a glimpse into my recent (super-glamorous) schedule, so you can see what it’s like for yourself!


7:30 - rise and shine (yeah, I know, that’s super late, I’m working on it, I swear!)

7:30-9:00 - computer work. (Today it was working on my wholesale line sheet and figuring out a password protected area of my website for wholesale ordering.)

9:00-9:30 - yoga

9:15 - boyfriend leaves for work

9:30-10:30 - breakfast, shower, walk the dog (who has to sniff EVERYTHING)

Recent work in progress!
10:30-2:00 - weaving

2:00-2:15 - lunch break (leftovers - no cooking today!)

2:15-4:00 - more weaving

4:00-4:15 - another dog walk (again with the sniffing)
He's cute, though, so it's worth it!
4:15-7:00 - still more weaving

7:00 - boyfriend returns from work

7:00-8:30 - cooking, dinner, Netflixing (currently: Boss)

8:30-11:00 - more computer work while Netflixing (tonight it's this blog post, an email blast, and a ton of emails)

11:00-12:00 - relaxing and reading

A lot of my days look like this, although I don’t always work in the evening. Usually, I do some finishing work (fringe twisting, hand sewing, etc.) on the couch, but most of my finishing work gets done while I'm at shows, so I’ve been doing a lot more work on the computer in the evenings lately.

What I love most is having the flexibility to decide what I want to work on and when. Sometimes you just need to switch gears for a while to get your inspiration back.

Do you work from home? What’s your workday like? 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Monday Mosaic: Less than 50 Shades of Gray

curated by Sharon Fischer, Stray Notions

Somewhere between 38-46 shades less I'd say ... what about you?

1. Willow Green and Gray Double Infinity Scarf - Handwoven Cotton LoominationStudio
2. Maine tourmaline necklace with pebble ecofriendly recycled sterling silver , Beryllina
3. Oxidized Sterling Silver Sparks Cuff Bracelet with Cubic Zirconia, Cristina Hurley Designs
4. Market/Beach tote - Vintage barkcloth with a tropical vibe, Stray Notions

Friday, September 19, 2014

Say Hello at Open Studios THIS Weekend

by Jon Barrows of Jon Barrows Art & Photography 

This weekend is a big weekend for Boston Handmade members, some of whom will be at Jamaica Plain Open Studios and of whom will be at South End Open Studios.

With two open studios happening this weekend, what better opportunity to get your hands on some beautiful handmade art, whether you're looking for jewelry, photography, greeting cards, mixed media visual art, or something you haven’t even dreamed of yet!

You can find the following Boston Handmade members (in alpha-order) at JP Open Studios:

You can download the map for JP Open Studios to ensure you can find everyone.

And last, but certainly not least, at South End Open Studio, you can find Jessica Burko,
Boston Handmade's founder at 35 Wareham Street.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Consider doing a Trade Show!

by Diane Ivey of Lady Dye Yarns

Back in May of this year, my company, Lady Dye Yarns attended our first trade show. It was an incredible experience to showcase my yarn on the national stage and to meet so many leading manufactures in the textile business. Now that the trade show is over with, I went from being in 2 stores to now being in 20 stores!

Originally, I was very hesitant to participate in a trade show but received encouragement from another yarn wholesaler in Boston, Knit Collage. The cost of doing a trade show is very expensive and in order to go to The National Needle Arts Association Trade Show, I launched an Indiegogo campaign. I did not get the full amount that I was asking for but I raised enough money to take my team to Indianapolis. Doing a trade show opens up so many doors to opportunities beyond selling my yarn wholesale. The trade show allowed me to:
  • Find new distributors for my raw materials.
  • Understanding the trends happening in the textile community.
  • I was able to meet dozens of knitwear designers from around the world who I have reached out to create knitwear designs for Lady Dye Yarns.
  • I was also able to talk with people about how to successful operate my business. 
I learned many things through this trade show. Had I not taken the risk to go, I am not sure where my business would be today. If you are in the crafting world and are thinking about expanding your business, I highly recommend finding a trade show in your craft to attend.

The great knitwear designer Steve Berg who purchased yarn from Lady Dye Yarns!
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