Monday, March 31, 2008

Monday Mosaic - Every Day Is Earth Day

Earth Day is coming up on April 22nd and there's lots of ways you can get ready to honor the earth for that day and help make our planet more sustainable all year long. Here at Boston Handmade many of us create our artwork from recycled materials, and consider minimizing our carbon footprint every day in our studios. Included in today's Earth Day inspired mosaic is work by:
Reclaimed To You
Mimi K
Lucie Wicker Photography
creatively anew
Sea Glass Things
Glamourpuss Creations
Designs By Lulubelle
The Hole Thing
and thank you to Mimi K for putting it all together! You can see more photos by members of Boston Handmade in our Flickr group.

Friday, March 28, 2008

CRAFTBOSTON Today and This Weeekend

If you are an artist, crafter, or a fan of the arts you will find yourself enthralled with all there is to see at this year's CRAFTBOSTON show.

Ellen Grenadier, ceramics, booth # 102

7th Annual CRAFTBOSTON - March 28 - 30, 2008

The Society of Arts and Crafts presents CRAFTBOSTON 2008 at Boston's Seaport World Trade Center. CRAFTBOSTON is the premiere New England exhibition and sale of contemporary craft. The show features more than 175 outstanding artists showcasing one-of-a-kind and limited-edition pieces in baskets, ceramics, decorative fiber, wearables, furniture, glass, jewelry, leather, metal, mixed media, paper and wood.

Alex Brand, glass, booth #147

A complete list of participating artists is now available for viewing on-line at

NEW this year: CB to GO
Look for CB to GO signs and tags at CRAFTBOSTON identifying works in exhibitor booths that retail for $100 and under. CRAFTBOSTON exhibitors offer a wide range of items priced from $10 to $10,000 insuring that everyone can afford to bring craft home.

Tami Rodrig, jewelry, booth #119

With CB to GO all visitors to CRAFTBOSTON will be guaranteed to find a distinctive addition for their home, workspace, or wardrobe. This unique program highlights handmade work by independent artists, artisans, and craftspeople that can be purchased without breaking the bank.

In addition to shopping and exploring the booths of world-class exhibitors, visitors to CRAFTBOSTON can expect an in-depth and rewarding educational experience. The show features emerging artists from leading schools and universities, non-profit craft organizations, artist mentor program booths and a craft book vendor. Visitors may also attend the educational lecture series conducted by artists, curators, show jurors and other experts in contemporary craft.

Claudia Mills, fiber decorative, booth #419
LECTURE—Contemporary Rag Rug Weaving: Updating an Age Old Technique
Friday, March 28th, 2:00 pm – 2:30 pm

Friday, March 28, 2008 • 10am-6pm, Saturday, March 29, 2008 • 10am-6pm, Sunday, March 30, 2008 • 11am-5pm

Seaport World Trade Center, 200 Seaport Boulevard, Boston, Massachusetts 02210

General Admission: $15, Senior Citizens & SAC Members: $12, Children 12 years & under: Free
Admission tickets valid for readmission throughout the weekend.

For more information call 617-266-1810 or visit

CRAFTBOSTON is presented by The Society of Arts and Crafts. Incorporated in 1897, The Society of Arts and Crafts, America's oldest nonprofit craft organization, has been at the forefront of the American craft movement, fostering the development, sales, recognition and education of crafts for over one hundred years. SAC programs promote public appreciation of craft and proceeds from CRAFTBOSTON benefit the outreach and educational programs of SAC and enable the continuation of a tradition of excellence. For more information about SAC, please visit

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Women of the Cloth Exhibit at Bunker Hill Community College Art Gallery

Article by Linda of All Dunn

Women of the Cloth continues on exhibit at the Bunker Hill Community College through April 18. If you have any interest in fiber, go now. You may want more than one visit to take it in.

Laura Montgomery, director, has broadly interpreted the show's tactile and spiritual themes. The 52 pieces explore a range of contemporary textile art. Some pieces celebrate traditional techniques, such as quilting, shibori,and mud dyeing. But most take the tradition and stretch it into new forms, even a silk-screened body bag.

Kasia Bytnerowicz's deconstructed paintings echo with the presence of the body that has just left the room. Laura Morrison's whimsical felted creatures disturb you with their suggestion of growth gone awry. Margot Stage's Flight (pictured below) feels like a model for a huge installation. Jennifer Mecca shreds used clothing only to reassemble it in the model of a regal kimono.

Every piece comes from a deep point of experience.
Jeanne Williamson calls the exhibit "competitive to Fiber Art International," quite a compliment. From a walk on the beach to a brush with cancer, from an empty room to a pointless war, the show explores personal journeys and profound concerns.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Workspace Wednesday...

with Jaye of thirteenthstory

Yeah, I've got an office job again. After taking a few months off to concentrate on my art business, I've gone back to work to make money and keep the momentum going. Paychecks go towards materials and advertising and savings; that's the plan anyway. My cat had surgery last month, so the vet gets some of that paycheck right now.

Its been a challenge to be creative within the new schedule, so I squeeze in some sketching during my lunch hour. Even though I can't get a ton of artwork done during that time, I get enough done so that at the end of the day I'm charged up to keep going in the evening and on weekends.

-Jaye of thirteenthstory

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Alzheimer's Quilt Initiative

article by Linda of All Dunn
Karen Musgrave and the Alliance for American Quilts recently teamed up with the Alzheimer's Quilt Initiative to document the stories behind the traveling exhibit of quilts, Alzheimer's: Piece by Piece. She interviewed me by phone last week, and posted our conversation on-line recently. My words will be in the Library of Congress. What a strange feeling that is.

My quilt, Trying to Remember, is a tribute to my dad, who died with Alzheimer's some ten years ago. Here he is, as a young man, and much later, as I remember him.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Monday Mosaic - Spring!

It's spring! Well, that's what they say anyway, even though it's still chilly in Boston. Here are some items and photos inspired by the season with contributions by:
creatively anew
Sea Glass Things
The Hole Thing
Amy Olson Jewelry
Mimi K
muchacha K
Pogibabies Handmade
Fraske DesignsReclaimed To You
Elizabeth Brennick Designs
Stonehouse Studio

and thank you to Mimi K for putting it together! See more photos by Boston Handmade members in our Flickr Group.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Junk Box Challenge

by Lisa of Glamourpuss Creations

Every crafter has one: a box (or boxes!) filled with little odds and ends, bits of material, pieces of chain, a stray bead they just can't bring themselves to part with.

I put the challenge out to members of Boston Handmade to create the prettiest and most unique thing ONLY from their junk box items.

Here's mine - a pair of earrings made from bits of left over chain, some neat glass buttons I've had forever and a few vintage beads. Can't wait to see all of yours!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Crochet to Felt

by Dawn of creatively anew

Missing out on the Knitting Workshop because of 6" of snow in Grafton, MA I decided to crochet. I haven't had any lessons doing this and thought I would wing it.

I started crocheting single stitches and wrapped them into a spiral picking up stitches as I went. Having no idea how to crochet a bag I thought I had to add stitches after I determined the bottom size. Happily doing this I ended up with a ruffle of sorts. Knowing I wanted a straight tube like purse I then dropped some stitches and determined to keep the same amount of stitches around. This worked rather nicely. To add the strap I crocheted 9 stitches and then down to 5 until I was satisfied with the length. Attaching it on the other side I just grabbed the stitches where it met the rim.

Now the fun part. I have always wanted a felted bag so now was my chance. The 100% wool yarn went into a pillowcase then into a mini cycle of hot water with a little detergent. I just started the machine and checked it in about 15 minutes. I then took it out of the pillowcase and just let it be by itself for the rest of the cycle. When I heard it spin out I wasn't sure what I was going to get. To my surprise it really felted itself and the stitches looked like they were gone. I hung it on a doorknob to dry.

I was thrilled! I did it! Thanks to Boston Handmade for the inspiration and just because it snowed I kept my date with some yarn!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Artists and Crafters: Sell More Of Your Work!

The Business Pyramid, and How it Applies to Selling Artists
by Liz of Lush Beads

I recently attended a "Best Retail Practices" seminar. One of the interesting pieces from the seminar was to do a "business pyramid", so you can easily see the connection between what you do, what practical things that does for your customer, and the emotional benefits your customer gets as a result. I think this not only works well for retail stores, but also for selling artists.

To build your business pyramid, consider and answer the following questions:

1) State what you do every day as an artist.

Things like, "unlock the studio door and be open for people to come through", "spin yarn", "cut out pictures from magazines" or "cut cloth". List the basic things you do every day that are related to your art. It may even be things like, "list an item to sell on Etsy".

2) State what that does for your customer in a very practical, basic way.

I make jewelry as part of my daily tasks. This gives the customer a finished piece of jewelry to wear. In my retail bead shop, I package up beads to sell. This gives the customer materials to use to create their own jewelry.

3) How does that make your customer feel? What is the EMOTIONAL benefit?

I think this is an easy question for an artist to answer. Art of any kind evokes an emotional response in the purchaser. Maybe your art makes a customer smile and have a happier day just by looking at it. Maybe it makes the customer feel accomplished by solving a gift-giving problem. Maybe it makes the customer feel pretty to know that she has a lovely jewelry set to go with the dress she is wearing to a party later that week. Think about the emotional benefit YOUR art has on the customer. As a side thought, does your overall marketing strategy (logos, ads, brochure, website) convey this message?

4) What is the special thing that YOU do to give your customer that feeling?
Identify and be proud of what you do!

We all have that something special that we add to our craft - our strict attention to detail that makes our product that much better quality than the rest, our ability to choose stunning color combinations, our warm demeanor that puts customers immediately at ease, or our great gift packaging are just a few examples. Every artist has something that they do well. Consider your strengths and don't be afraid to make use of them!! We all have to stand out from a crowd somehow.

Think about these questions and see how they apply to how YOU sell your art. Are your daily business tasks directly benefiting the customer or the business in some way? Are you meeting your customer's practical needs? Are there ways you can improve your emotional connection to the customer? Can you make better use of your strengths?

Photos in this article captured by Liz at Lush Beads,
a full service bead shop in Lowell, MA.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Workspace Wednesday...

...with Linda of All Dunn

I share a large studio space in Lowell; my big work, my wet work, happens there. But the commute - three highways over 45 minutes -- means that most days I climb to the little third room upstairs, and cram myself in along with my two sewing machines, ironing board, cutting table, and carefully (hah!) squirreled supplies.

Two walls are lined with bookcases. I've hung sheets on top of these, to approximate design walls, and to cut down on the visual stimulation. (All that fabric saying "Me! ME! ME!!!")

On the third wall is my old faithful: an industrial sewing machine from the last century. Next to it is my bottom-of-the-line Janome, the first sewing machine new sewing machine I've ever bought. Every other machine I've owned has been used, and all but one came to me through friends and family. None have had computers. For stitching I want speed, and occasionally zig-zag. That's it. The industrial one doesn't even go backwards, but, baby, it sure is fast. The stacked clear boxes behind it used to hold PlayMobile for my girl.

The fourth wall is all window, facing due east. That wall holds active fabric in wire bins, and, at right angles, my cutting/work table. This is the heart of my days. I collage, paint, print, cut, draw and think here. Often I wish I had tables for each of these activities. O well! One plays with the cards one's dealt. So, instead, this year, I am learning to CLEAN OFF the cutting table each time I leave the studio. Now interrupted projects do not layer like shale. Though still, finding work sometimes feels like an archaeological dig.

When I stand at the work table, the second, built-in bookcase is behind me. It holds less-used materials such as batting and sheets. Because I usually have my back to it, projects posted there tend to get forgotten but at least do not get buried. Along the top, I file inspirational objects. My current favorites are some beautiful tree photos, some old notions still on cards, and this relic, from my childhood days.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Organizing with Boston Handmade

presented by Allison of Fraske Designs

If you are anything like me, you struggle with maintaining organization in your life. This problem can be particularly daunting when your crafts – both supplies and end products – continue to grow and multiply! I asked several members of Boston Handmade if they had any tips to share to help streamline the organization process, and following are their helpful hints:

Katy of muchacha K Studios and The Speakeasy Boutique reflects on her mother’s advice:

“It's like my mother always said, ‘put like items together.’ It's how I cleaned my room when I was 10 and it's how I clean my sewing studio now! As for actual organization devices, I do better with methods that both organize items as well as allow me to see the items when stored. For example, I keep all of my fabrics in cubbies, not drawers. I can see what's there quickly when putting a project together!”

Jessica of Reclaimed to You has a great idea for organizing those magazine clippings, postcards, and how-to articles that pile up:

“One way I get inspiration is from looking through magazines and keeping pages or parts of pages to look at later over time. But the problem is those pages pile up, and pile all over the place. So I started a system of organizing those saved inspirational clippings into binders with 8.5" x 11" plastic sleeves that I can page through whenever I need a jolt. The binders are categorized into themes like art, craft, and how to. I also collect postcards, old photos, and random other scraps of found paper into these binders so the sleeves help keep them neat and uniformed."
Mimi has a great method for sorting and evaluating her items that accumulate without being overwhelmed with one big organization project:

“I try to go through all my stuff at least once a year- touch everything. (Not all at the same time though- haha!) For example, I will rearrange what is on a set of shelves- everything comes off, boxes are sorted through, shelves are put back in order. I do this because I try to evaluate each item. Am I still interested in the supply/book/whatever? Should the item be in a prominent studio location which means it is relating to the work I am doing now? Or do I like it, but it can be stuck in the back of a closet until I find the right use for it… or should I get rid of it? I find touching my materials very inspiring. I always find things that I've forgotten about and love as well as stuff I can rid of- which makes room on the shelves.”

"I took all the bins and books out of these shelves (photo on right) and replaced them with the wool fabric I am using these days."

I’m definitely going to heed this advice. For further reading about cutting down on clutter and simplifying your life, check out the blog at I recently discovered this site and am going to continue to check back for great organization tips!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Monday Mosaic - Happy St. Pats!

Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone! Boston might not be very green outside but here's some green to brighten your holiday courtesy of Mimi K with contributions from Boston Handmade members:
Glamourpuss Creations
All Dunn Design
The Hole Thing
Reclaimed To You
muchacha K
Christine Marie Art
Elizabeth Brennick Designs
Amy Olson Jewelry
Mimi K
Photos by all Boston Handmade members can be seen on our Flickr Group

Friday, March 14, 2008

Preparing For Creative Awareness Week

with Beth of Elizabeth Brennick Designs

My kids school is having a creative awareness week in the beginning of April. That week students can display artwork in painting, photography, drawing, sculpture, etc.. and it will be displayed on the wall at school. New this year they're having relatives of the students who also are creative in these areas setup and display their work for a day. I'm displaying everything as if I was going to one of my shows and I'm also taking my sewing machine for demonstrations. I haven't decided what I'm sewing yet maybe a quick coin purse with a zipper.

Recently I've been experimenting with block printing. I wanted to make something for all 490 kids and needed something fast and inexpensive. Kids love free stuff! I drew and cut out my interpretation of a wooden pencil and decided on bookmarks. At Boston Handmade's material swap this past summer I got a lot of this white heavy paper brought by Dawn of creatively anew. I've been using my dad's paper cutter and calculated a certain amount to do everyday. My kids think they're cool so I hope the 488 others think the same.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Thirteenth With thirteenthstory: New Product Line

The month has seen the launch of a new product line from Jaye of Taking parts of drawings from her sketchbook and designs, Jaye has created flat note card sets now available in her shop.

For some time I have been looking to incorporate my art into a new handmade product. I've tried bookmarks and magnets, but so far the note cards have been the most successful.

Half of them include fossilized leaves, which have been dyed and applied with archival glue to the cards, and the other half are my drawings printed onto the cards. The reason behind the leaf designs is not only that they are unique, but also that it gets me out there trying something new and crafty.

So now, along with prints, originals and zines, you can find these new cards at They are being introduced in "waves," meaning four new cards every few weeks.

Thank you.

Work by thirteenthstory can also be seen and purchased in her shop on Etsy.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Workspace Wednesday...

...with Rebekah of SHIP by RLS

My ‘studio’ is a charming little section of my bedroom. I had mixed feelings about cramming a sleeping and working space together, but it really works for me. Everything has its place. I wish I could say that this was due to the small space, but I cant, its because I am a neat freak by nature. Some, however, might say neat freak is an understatement. I am what happens when a neat freak, an avid collector and a fan of storage containers meet!

Glass jars hold buttons … that’s Im not sure when I’ll use. Old pasta jars hold my prized Sharpie collection! An old record table from my grandfather’s attic is the perfect storage spaces for all papers, magazines and books that I will eventually disassemble and make into frames.

On my desk an old IKEA storage bin is like my wingman…he’s got everything I need!

It’s a cozy little craft corner!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Vacation Inspiration - part II

by Nicole of Designs by Lulubelle

After reading Betsy's post, I was inspired to write about an upcoming grouping of tote bags that is in the works.

Prior to having children, my husband and I did quite a bit of traveling to exotic locales. Instead of buying traditional souvenirs, we'd hunt for items that were native to the area or more specifically a piece of art. Even when friends or family members travel, they often bring us back a piece of local artwork.

Since most of my recent travel adventures have involved a large mouse and various other characters, I have had the good fortune of receiving souvenirs brought back by family members. Their recent travels have included trips to Japan and Senegal and I have had the good fortune of receiving multiple yards of fabric from both of those locations.

The fabric piles have sat on my desk as inspiration to me just waiting to be made into something that could showcase their beauty. Recently, I've decided to make a collection of totes for the upcoming summer season. Stay tuned for the "Passport Collection"....

Monday, March 10, 2008

Monday Mosaic - Almost Easter

Easter is approaching, and here are a few items created by Boston Handmade members to celebrate the season.

Top left: Christine Marie Art
Top right: Cozy Cottage Creations
Bottom left: Stonehouse Studio
Bottom right: The Hole Thing

Thanks to Mimi K for putting this mosaic together!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

A Boston Handmade Knitting Workshop

by Jessica of Reclaimed To You
We had an amazing afternoon learning how to knit! The members of Boston Handmade have many varied talents and we regularly have Skill-Share Workshops to teach each other what we know and love to do. Our workshops cover many subjects in the world of arts, crafts, and also in the realm of the business of being professionals in the arts. Last Saturday Lynne of Cozy Cottage Creations hosted a knitting workshop at her home where she and Louise of THE HOLE THING taught several of us novices how to make an object out of a piece of yarn - how amazing!

The Boston Handmade members who took part in this day of fun and learning were Betsy of Stonehouse Studio, Chris of Christine Marie Art, Beth of Elizabeth Brennick Designs, Nicole of Designs by Lulubelle, Allison of Fraske Designs, and me, Jessica of Reclaimed To You. Lynne and Louise were wonderful teachers and VERY patient, and we all came away with a new skill to explore.

Since the workshop...

I finished my orange scarf and began a blue one. Also, I stumbled upon a weekly knitting group in my own neighborhood and they are encouraging me to try to make a hat. I plan to go to their gathering tomorrow and see if I can get started on that.

I've been knitting on the T when I go downtown to meet with clients a few days a week, and also knitting a little bit at night before going to bed. I love knitting! Thank you to Lynne and Louise for being such good teachers!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Boston Handmade Represents at the New England Flower Show THIS WEEKEND In Boston!

The New England Flower Show, the 3rd largest in America, opens TOMORROW, Saturday March 8th and continues for nine days through Sunday March 16th. The theme this year is Rhapsody in Green.

Boston Handmade member, Louise Cady-Fernandes, of THE HOLE THING, will have her whimsical felted wool sweaters and accessories available for sale at the Mass Horticultural Society's booth. The show takes place at the Boston Expo Center. Adult ticket prices are $20. Come take a breath of spring !

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Women of the Cloth art exhibit on view at Bunker Hill Community College Art Gallery

Boston Handmade members Linda Dunn and Dawn Wilson have their work represented in the Women of the Cloth Exhibit. The exhibition runs from March 6 - April 18, 2008 at Bunker Hill Community College. The Artist's Reception is TONIGHT, Thursday, March 6, 2008 starting at 6:00 pm with a live performance by Libana at 7:30 pm.

Linda Dunn is represented by two works "Angry Quilt" was a response to a diagnosis of breast cancer, and "One Way" is about the journey through old age towards death. Dawn Wilson's quilt titled, Affirmation will also be exhibited.

Linda's work can be seen on-line at All Dunn Design and Dawn's work can be seen at creatively anew any time day or night!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Workspace Wednesday...

with Jen of JHill Design
The JHill Design studio is located in a large room in my house. A large, very cold room that is currently being heated with a space heater - that's what you get with old houses with lots of windows. But it is those windows that let me see color clearly when I'm pouring through my Pantone books looking for the perfect colors for my patterns.

The "My hand hurts" poster near the window has special meaning for me, if I sit at the computer too long my carpal tunnel problems flare up so it is a great reminder to get up and move around. One wall of the room is painted with chalkboard paint which is so incredibly useful. That is where I make PR and product release schedules for the year, reminders of inventory that is running low and were guests leave me little drawings. We have a large bookshelf that is full with our library of art/design/travel books as well as a nice little collection of tchotchkes. The big desks are hollow doors on top of file cabinets, one for me and one for my lovely intern. I love having so much space to lay out all my sketch books, to do lists and all my other little piles.

We also have an uninsulated porch which is where I do all my silkscreening and messy work during the summer. I love this studio space very much... now if only I could get that radiator working....

Calendars, prints, notecards, and gift tags are available now by JHill Design on

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Coloring with Kool Aid

by Lynne of Cozy Cottage Creations

You know the saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention”. In my case, it was more like “Running out of a needed supplies leads to learning something new!” Have you ever had this happen? You think you’ve got oodles and oodles of something, then all of sudden, you notice you’ve used it all up. And you want more. Right away! Well, I had been making a lot of needle felted apples and using a lovely light green roving as an accent fiber. You’d think it would be easy to find, but I discovered quickly that it’s not.

Orders and orders came to my home and, alas, they were never quite the right shade. So, I started poking around on the internet in search for the perfect green. After following link after link I stumbled upon something I had never thought of. Instructions on how to dye my own fiber! This is beyond me, I first thought, but as I perused the list of all the different ways to do it, I found one method that seemed impossibly possible. Did you know you can dye wool with Kool Aid in your microwave oven! It’s true! It’s easy! It’s fun! Here are the simple instructions:

1. Soak 1 oz. of clean white wool fiber in hot water for 10 minutes in a microwaveable dish.
2. Prepare 32 oz. of Kool Aid mixture. You can control the color by experimenting with different amounts of Kool Aid, or mixing colors. I achieved my green with a package of Lemonade mixed with just a few sprinkles of Berry Blue.
3. Pour the Kool Aid mixture over the fiber.
4. Place in the microwave and heat on high for 6 minutes.
5. Once done, let it continue to soak until all the color is absorbed and the water is clear.
6. Lay out on a towel to dry.
7. Use your wonderful new brightly colored wool for your desired purpose!

I can’t tell you how excited I was. The method works for two reasons: there is no agitation involved so the wool doesn’t felt to itself in the hot water, and the high level of vitamin C in the Kool Aid reacts with the wool which causes it to hold the color.

Wow – just when I thought I was having as much fun with wool as a person could have, a new technique to explore comes along. So far, I’ve used my own dyed fiber for apples, strawberries and a few Easter eggs that are in the works. Eventually, I’ll try dying wool with natural foods. I understand onion skins make a gorgeous banana yellow!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Monday Mosaic - Going ROUND

The world is round, the wheels on the bus go round and round, and today Boston Handmade has gone ROUND! Please enjoy today's shape inspired mosaic created by Mimi K with contributions from members:
Stonehouse Studio
Christine Marie Art
Amy Olson Jewelry
Reclaimed To You
The Hole Thing
Glamourpuss Creations
muchacha K
Lush Beads
Mimi K
Cozy Cottage Creations

All of these individual images and more can be seen on the Boston Handmade Flickr group.
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