Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Workspace Wednesday...

with Crystal of Vintage by Crystal

It’s impossible to hide the truth, so I won’t even bother. My studio is a mess! And not just your standard, “Oh I was working in here today and it got a little messy” mess. It’s a big time disaster and I kind of like it that way. Bring your wading boots and a shovel…you’re going to need them for this tour!

I use a lot of different materials for my crafts and often what I make depends on what I already have avai
lable in my studio, so it’s important to be well stocked. My studio consists of a small spare bedroom in my Dorchester apartment and everything I collect from flea markets, garage sales, ebay and crafts stores end up hanging on the wall, hanging off a door, in the closet, tucked away in one of my many drawers, on a shelf or, if all of the above are occupied, on the floor.

I sit in a chair and have an L-shaped desk setup (consisting of my childhood vanity and desk) with a TV for background entertainment. I need to have everything I need within arm’s reach since I work on several pieces simultaneously and use lots of different materials for each piece, I sort of get a donut effect where I’m surrounded on all sides with half finished projects and materials normally stored in other parts of the studio. It’s like a creative cocoon where the process is ugly and sometime a little hairy and instead of butterflies emerging, neat and creative works of art and crafts emerge! (How’s that for a metaphor?) I see my studio as an ever changing collage and while things can get a little chaotic, it’s a lot of fun to work in! I hope you enjoyed my little tour! :-)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Joy of Miniatures

by Nancy of Nancyrosetta

These little oil paintings make me so happy. I love when something can perk up your day just by looking at it, these little landscapes do that to me.

North Attleboro artist, Kim Morin Weineck creates these minuscule landscapes with oils on tiny stretched canvases. They are sold with little easels to stand them on, and are very affordable for an original oil painting. These little works of art are only $40.

Her paintings are all about comfort, and it shows.

If you find these as sweet and comfortable as I do, please check out her website for more of her art at

I am the proud owner of this little masterpiece.

I placed it in my own studio on my workbench for inspiration anytime I need it.

If you are in the Norwood area, please stop by Custom Art Framing and Gallery 9 to view more masterpieces by many talented artists, along with Kim's full size works. They are truly a sight to behold.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Monday Mosaic - Blue is the Color...

...of this Boston sky.
I am sure of it, it's lingering just beneath the clouds. So in lieu of a lovely spring blue sky, here is a collection of photos from Boston Handmade members featuring true blue.
Featured in this Monday Mosaic is work by:
All Dunn
Christine Marie Art
Stonehouse Studio
Mimi K
Amy Olson Jewelry
Vintage by Crystal
Lush Beads
The Hole Thing
creatively anew
Cozy Cottage Creations
Sea Glass Things
Elizabeth Brennick Designs
Lucie Wicker Photography
Twigs and Heather
Thanks to Mimi K for putting together the Monday Mosaics and to see more work by Boston Handmade members check out our Flickr Group.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Living Creatively: The Creative Family by Amanda Blake Soule

a review by Nicole of Designs by Lulubelle

Amanda Blake Soule, writer of the popular blog soulemama, has a new book The Creative Family: How to Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family Connections. I frequent her blog from time to time and am often inspired by the projects she creates with her three small children.

The Creative Family is a simple collection of projects, traditions, and discussions on family life centered around nurturing creativity within the family. The photography in this book is also quite beautiful. Soule states "a large part of nurturing a spirit of creativity comes from being mindful, slowing down, observing, and looking around you at the beauty and inspiration around you". Children, although small, are wonderful teachers. They use creativity and imagination in everything that they do.

In Chapter 2, Gathering Materials, I was most inspired by her tips on art supplies and storage. She provides a comprehensive list of art supplies for children and recommends using good quality supplies with them. As she puts it, "the materials we give our children to create with send them a message about how we value their creative endeavors, their time, and their work". Go for quality over quantity and high-quality doesn't necessarily mean "expensive". Other chapters include topics such as Supporting your Young Artist, Family Traditions, and Everyday Rituals.

I would hesitate to call The Creative Family a project book, rather a book about living creatively in your daily life and creating memories and traditions. It is a simple, well-designed book which is easy to pick up and read.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Junk Box Challenge Part II

with Lucie of Lucie Wicker Photography

I decided a while ago to take up Lisa on her Junk Box Challenge. I was having a bit of "artists' block" and could not summon much creativity for some reason. As a photographer, my junk box consists of a box of photos I have deemed not nice enough to use but not bad enough to throw away. I started by taking out some of my favorites, cutting them up, arranging them by color and piecing them together on top of one plain background. I do not do much collaging these days and the overall experience was reenergizing; I wound up with some things I thought were somewhat interesting and it really did help get the creative juices flowing again. Thanks for the idea, Lisa!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Workspace Wednesday - Peace Baby

Today THE HOLE THING made a stack of kid's felted peace sign t-shirts for a new store in Boston called OAK. The store, whose name is short for 'one of a kind' is located at 31 Gloucester Street at the corner of Newbury Street. It is a hip & cozy boutique full of wonderful handmade creations. They have everything from clothes & accessories to lots of very cool gifts that you won't be able to resist. Peace baby !

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

We Present To You: THE EARTH

An Earth Day special from Lynne of Cozy Cottage Creations

My Newest Product – the Felted Earth Ball

I am a list person. A planner. I need a long lead time before I do something so that I can figure out how it fits into my schedule. I joked with my husband a few days ago that if he wants me to do something in June, he’d better ask me in March. So it should be no surprise that I’ve already mapped out what I’m making for Cozy Cottage Creations right through the summer. Then it came.

A new children’s clothing catalog arrived in my mailbox on a Friday (which actually happens almost every day – where do they get my name???), and my jaw dropped. There on the front cover was my next project. Three children stood on the beach (I have no idea what they were wearing – cool clothes I’m sure), the middle child holding up a beach ball. It was no ordinary beach ball, though, it was the EARTH!! Made from satellite pictures! My next thought, “I can make that out of wool”, struck me like a gong. I quickly scanned the catalog – no they don’t sell that beach ball in there. Ugh. To the internet – and within seconds, google found it for me. I ordered it instantly. That night, I dreamt of Earth beach balls.

Over the weekend, I gathered my materials, but I didn’t have the right blue. Kool Aid to the rescue! I had fun playing with mixing flavors and dyeing some white roving to get the right deep ocean blue in the photo. My ball arrived on Monday, and even though I had penciled it in for Wednesday, I dropped everything and started to create my Earth ball. (And - as another aside - I find it quite ironic that a beach ball depicting the Earth is made out of very stinky vinyl – now back to the story) So, in between finishing the laundry, picking up the kids from school, making dinner, giving baths and reading books, I poked away at white, green and blue roving with my favorite needle felting tool. By late that evening, it was finished. I slipped exhausted into bed and dreamt of more Earth beach balls.

The next morning, I snapped a few photos, listed my new Felted Earth Ball on Etsy, and hurried off to my daughter’s ballet class. It sold the next day. WOW! My head is still spinning over this one. I suppose it goes without saying that this is not my usual mode of operation. I have never before conceived of an idea, created it, then sold it - all within five days. Hmmm. I think I might like this spontaneity thing after all. It certainly was exhilarating and I’m excited to say that I’ll be making more of these – lots more!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Monday Mosaic - Fresh and New!

There's lots happening these days at Boston Handmade and here are a few new works made by some of our members:
Elizabeth Brennick Designs
The Hole Thing
Amy Olson Jewelry
Sea Glass Things
All Dunn
Christine Marie Art
Lush Beads
Mimi K
and you can see more of our work in the Boston Handmade Flicker Group. Thanks to Mimi K for putting together this mosaic!

Friday, April 18, 2008

These are a few of my Favorite Things!

by Lynne of Cozy Cottage Creations

Every now and then, I love to peruse the shops here at Boston Handmade and see what everyone’s up to. I’m sure it’s not even necessary to say that I am always blown away by the talent here. You all inspire me! Here are just a few items that really speak to me.

I just adore this! From the look on the bunny mom’s face, to her super cute skirt, to the incredible fine detail and craftsmanship, this piece really is a gem. As a fellow needle felter, I am so impressed with how Crystal pulled all the other materials in to bring this piece to life. Kudos!

Allison!! You captured it! Ever since the new Charlie card, I have been really nostalgic for my old college days, riding the subway between my apartment in the Fenway, to Emerson, (back when it occupied brownstones in the Back Bay), and then to my job in Faneuil Hall. Not that I ride the subway much anymore, since I live in the burbs and drive a mini van. But I miss the way the token guy had all the change lined up on his side of the window, and how rhythmically he’d take your dollar through the slot and shoot you back your token and your change. Those were the days and this photo brings me right back!

OK…If I were a baby, I would ask my Mom to buy this hat for me. Actually I’d probably hop up and down real fast in my stroller and point and make all kinds of gurgly sounds. Hopefully my Mom would know I meant “Buy me that hat”. It is so cute!

I have been a big fan of Betsy’s since the first day I met her, and admired her jewelry – it was hers of course! I love the boldness of her pieces, mixed with the subtle blending of colors and images. And they are absolutely unique – truly wearable artwork. There have been many of her pieces that just take my breath away the first time I see them, and this one is my new favorite. These are my colors. Hopefully I’ll do something really good soon, and have a reason to give myself a big reward. This would be it!

And, I can’t end this bit about Betsy without mentioning how excited I am about this new product line of hers:Very cool! I hope they’re a big seller for you!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Do you know about Ready Made?

an intro by Allison of Fraske Designs

ReadyMade Magazine has launched their magazine online! If you haven't had the chance to browse one of their issues, check out this month's issue free on their website.

ReadyMade is a bimonthly print magazine for people who like to make stuff, who see the flicker of invention in everyday objects — the perfectly round yolk in the mundane egg. You'll find tons of great projects and good-to-know info on everything house, home, and life related. Each issue is always a good read.

This month, I particularly like the Custom Earth Bowls from Fluid Forms. They allow you to pick a location of choice, plug in the coordinates on their website, and then have a wooden bowl personally crafted to resemble the peaks and valleys of your chosen neighborhood! What will they think of next!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Workspace Wednesday...

with Betsy of Stonehouse Studio

I seem to have a love-hate relationship with my sewing machine - I've neglected it terribly the last five years or so. Consequently, my sewing room became a catch-all room. But I've been thinking about getting back to sewing, so the first step was cleaning it up. It took me a whole day, but it was worth it.

I sort my fabric by color and type. I use wooden curtain rods on the walls to hang fabric - it's also a great way to design. I keep bolts in a large metal garbage can. The closet has more fabrics on hangers and shelves with trim.

Now I just need to jump in and start sewing!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Sunday, April 13, 2008

the 13th with thirteenthstory: back covers

by Jaye of thirteenthstory

The third issue of the thirteenthstory zine is now available.
A friend of mine says she always checks the back page out first to see
how I am doing, which made me laugh. I didn't realize it, but they are
always some sort of self-portrait, indicating how life has been for
the past few months. As you can tell from this issue, things have
been pretty calm:

The second issue featured a busier scene (on the left), and here is
the unused one that was later determined to be far too phallic to use
on the zine (on the right):

The first one showed determination, and it was the most natural page
of that issue. I drew it in one sitting after a particularly rough
evening. It worked so well as a back page, that I've kept with the
style and will continue to do so as I self-publish more work.

You can find the zines at


Friday, April 11, 2008

Give Yourself A Studio Elf

by Katy of muchachaK and the Speakeasy Boutique

Like many of my fellow artisans, I have a lot going on in my life besides just my “handmades” business. I am a grad student, I work part-time as a paralegal, for half of the year I manage a market, and have many other projects in the planning stages that are currently incubating as I pull details together. Add to this the past holiday market/craft fair season and I was about to lose my cookies. I knew that I wasn’t going to survive through the fall and winter into spring without help.

First of all, I’m not writing about interns. For those of you who are lucky enough to find free help, I applaud and envy you, however, it’s not always easy to find free help when you need it, so I realized I’d need to bite the bullet and pay someone. As an artisan, and not a millionaire, I had put this thought out of my mind many times, thinking I couldn’t afford to actually pay someone to come help me. What made the decision for me was the fact that I literally couldn’t afford not to do it. I had already committed to three shows, had rent to pay on my studio, and a ton of fabric I’d already bought for the purpose was burning a hole in my conscience. After posting an ad and corresponding with several nice people, I found Elyssa, a terrific student from one of the local universities, who just happens to be a fearless guerilla seamstress like myself. Self-taught, and unperturbed by my unconventional pattern-making skills, she has become an invaluable asset to my studio.

Here’s some things to consider when you decide to make that leap into hiring a helper/assistant/intern:

1) But how much will I pay them? My hourly labor cost is already built into my prices for each item. My helper’s “hourly rate” is a portion of the hourly rate I include in my prices. Other people like to pay their helpers by the piece, and that can be very motivational. As mine is also a student though, I value that she is still midway up the learning curve on some tasks, and I would rather have her do them well, than hurry to finish just because I’m paying her by the piece.

2) Ask them for samples of their work when you interview them so that you have an idea of their skill level before you put them to work. As I said, my helper (frequently referred to as the studio elf...maybe I need to give her a real title soon!) is a guerilla seamstress like me. There are some tasks she’s very good at, some she is still working on, and that’s fine. But samples will give you an idea ahead of time, of what that person’s strengths may be and whether they’ll be a good match for your projects.

3) How many hours a week do you need them? You can, of course, let the budget guide you and tell you how much you can pay someone each week, and that’s basically what I did. I was AMAZED though at how much more work I got done with her there, and realized quickly that even a few hours per week was making me way more productive. And more product can mean more money...

4) If you are not used to having someone else around, make sure you make your environment and supplies easy for another person to use. I never had to mark my patterns before I had a I have to either create instructions/mark stuff properly, or make sure I show her certain things so she doesn’t have to read my mind! I also find myself doing things like taping down my sewing machine cords so she won’t trip on them, or actually cleaning off my cutting surfaces when I’ve finished, so they’re not cluttery for the next person to use.

5) Communicate clearly to them about when you need them and what your expectations are. I got really lucky, Elyssa shows up on time, is responsible, adjusts well when I give her feedback, and communicates well. Not everyone is like that, either “bosses” or “helpers”, but everybody’s happier if you at least try!

6) What types of tasks do you need help with? What you have them do isn’t so important as that you’ve thought about it before they arrive. Be realistic about matching their skills to your tasks, AND respect the fact that it may take them a minute to get used to your style of working. My elf (sorry Elyssa!) does lots of prep work and assists with other various stages of my standard projects once we’ve got the prep out of the way. That frees me up to a) get more work done in general and b) concentrate on my custom orders without having to lose production time on my standard items.

7) How does this affect your taxes? What about worker’s comp? These are important considerations and you want to think about it ahead of time. Yes, if you want to go there, you could pay them cash under the table. However, as I am a law abiding citizen, with a proper business bank account, who declares their artisan business on their taxes, I had to decide if I was going to have an actual employee, or an independent contractor, and I decided on an independent contractor. This has several legal implications but essentially it will mean that I have to have an accountant help me figure out how to issue a 1099 at the end of the year so my books and her books are all good. It also means I don’t have the extra cost of worker’s comp insurance. Additionally, because she is technically a contractor, our communication is a two-way street in terms of her schedule, I don’t set her schedule for her. We work out when the best times are for the both of us, and go from there. Good communication makes this super easy to sort out.

All in all I’d say it’s been an awesomely effective experiment. I’m twice as productive, and I’m free to be more inventive and concentrate on new items, not just the usual stuff. It’s also nice to have someone around to chat with! And even though the holiday season is long over I am going to continue to have her come as I get ready for Spring...when the market season cranks back into full gear!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Searching the Web for Inspiration

by Chris of Christine Marie Art

One of my guilty pleasures is visiting websites for artistic eye candy. Decor8 is one of my favorites, and of course the trend section on ETSY. Even though we're artists and not copycats, it is helpful to see what's out there, what's new, and what the hot trends are. So if you'd like to do some of this "important research" yourself, check out the current and forecast trends on the following websites:

Pantone is by far my favorite color website, with upcoming color trends in fashion and home decor. I also love Colour Lovers, which has trends in colors and patterns. While you're there, check out their blog.

Design Sponge is SO fun to browse through, and has the neatest "mini-trend" section.

Decorative Accessories website has loads of new product previews, but the best part of the site (for me) is the "on-trend" section because it showcases the hot, new selling products on the market.

Get your black & white ready for Spring 2009

Beercan Butterflies and Recycled Popcorn Bags...who would've thunk?

How about you? Do you have any favorite trend sites?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Workspace Wednesday...

... with Charissa of Pogibabies Handmade

Welcome to my work space…aka my living room table. The smaller table that you see is my 4yr old daughter's workspace. We sit side by side and create. I sew, she draws stick people. Genius.

I use a dry erase marker to write down my orders and my plan for the day on two mirrored closet doors. I set a goal for a certain number of items to be completed each day. Otherwise I am inclined to spend hours on Etsy or plopped on the couch watching design shows on HGTV. Working at home is tougher than you'd think!

So that's my workspace. If you were ever to stop by my apartment you'd hear the hum of the sewing machine outside the door. Inside you'd find me with random pieces of thread stuck to my pants or shirt, and wearing my ultimate favorite sewing supply ever: my whale Wrist Pin Cushion made by fellow Boston Handmade member Elizabeth Brennick Designs!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

SHELTER: a Unique Vision of a Universal Subject Through Artist's Books

Dawn Wilson (creatively anew) of Boston Book Arts invites you to the exhibit SHELTER which is on view at the Wedeman Gallery at Lasell College in Newton , MA from April 11th to April 22nd.

The public is cordially invited to attend the opening reception to be held on Thursday April 10th from 4pm to 7pm.

Winners of The Hammond Real Estate Company and The Melville Charitable Trust cash awards as well as gift certificates from Charrette Corporation will be announced at the opening. The gallery is located in the Yamawaki Arts & Cultural Center at 49 Myrtle Avenue on the corner of Grove Street in Newton . The exhibit is free and open to the public Monday - Saturday 12 pm - 5 pm.

SHELTER focuses attention on a universal subject and one of humanity's most basic needs – in all its manifestations: the home, the psychology of personal space, current issues in the housing market such as homelessness, the mortgage crisis and loss of historic fabric. 43 artists have been chosen to participate in SHELTER, an exhibition of artist's books juried by Janine Wong, faculty member in the College of Visual and Performing Arts at UMASS/Dartmouth.

The SHELTER exhibition will travel to the following venues: Pyramid Atlantic Art Center in Silver Spring , MD , the Fleet Library at Rhode Island School of Design in Providence , RI , Montserrat College of Art in Beverly , MA and the String Gallery at Wells College in Aurora , NY . A 30% commission on sales from the exhibit will benefit a local housing charity.

MEET THE ARTIST: Dawn Wilson will be gallery sitting on Sunday, April 13 12-5pm

Monday, April 7, 2008

Monday Mosaic - The Flowers of Spring

Spring is here according to the calendar, and it's starting to show outside too! There are a few buds in the garden, and some green peeking through the soil. Hooray! We all must have flower gardens on our minds and are inspired to put floral themes in our work. This lovely spring bouquet shows work by:
Elizabeth Brennick Designs
Lucie Wicker Photography
Glamourpuss Creations
Stonehouse Studio
Fraske Designs
Reclaimed To You
All Dunn
Mimi K
The Hole Thing
Amy Olson Jewelry
Cozy Cottage Creations
Christine Marie Art
and thanks to Mimi K for putting this together! You can see more photos of work by Boston Hanmdade members in our Flickr group.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Trunk Show TODAY at the Speakeasy Boutique

The Speakeasy Boutique is hosting its first Trunk Show! Our featured designer for this reception is Diane Terragni of Dunbarton, NH, aka "Fun Fakes and Funky Findings". Lush, colorful beads and unique centerpieces are the trademarks of her work, and have won her many fans...

When: TODAY - April 4th, 2008 3-8PM

Where: The Speakeasy Boutique, 88 N. Main St. Ste. 303 (at the top of the stairs), Concord, NH

More info: call 603-229-2157

What the heck is a trunk show? A trunk show is am exclusive reception where designers bring fantastic samples of their work for the upcoming season for YOU to enjoy.

Join us for an evening of jewelry, refreshments--AND, it's First Friday in Concord, so many other shops will be open downtown for you to browse...

Oh, and click here to visit to our on-line home

See you in Concord!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Metalsmithing Workshop with Stonehouse Studio

article by Betsy of Stonehouse Studio
photos by Katy of muchacha K and Amy of Amy Olson Jewelry

On a recent cold, dreary and wet Wednesday, Boston Handmade members heated things up (literally) at a basic Metalsmithing Workshop. Betsy of Stonehouse Studio opened her studio to Amy of Amy Olson Jewelry and Katy of muchacha K to practice drilling, texturing, forging, soldering and finishing. Amy had a very delicate touch and sweet talked her way around the metal. Katy, a.k.a. Rosie the Riveter, dove right in and was not about to let those tools get the best of her.

A good time was had by all, some basic skills acquired and we all got to show off our very chic safety goggles. Betsy's Bono style, Katy's Jackie-O shades and Amy's Homer from Home Depot model.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Workspace Wednesday...

with Chris of Christine Marie Art

The centerpiece of my studio has to be the large table (actually 2 cabinets) that holds all of my art supplies. I had long admired a beautiful table that was in the Pottery Barn catalog each month, but it was out of my price range and didn't offer storage, so I went online in search of something that would work. I found these cabinets and thought that if I put them back to back, they would make a nice workspace. The cabinets and deep drawers offer so much storage, and the table is a nice height on which to work. When I work, I cover it with tyvek so nothing seeps through. (Did you notice the Michelle Caplan original collage on the shelf in the corner? I love her work.)

There is more inspiration on the other side of the room with an inspiration board. Part of it is filled with work from my kids, but I use about 3/4 of it for Pantone color palettes that I'd like to use, pieces of work that inspire me, two clipboards with lists of upcoming arts or craft fairs & calls to artists, and generally anything I don't want to forget. Also on that side of the studio is my computer, where most of my design work is done, printed on various papers or emulsions using an Epson 2200 printer, and then incorporated into mixed media pieces on the table. Sometimes those pieces are run through the printer again for another layer over the mixed media layers.

I have to admit my obsession with art books. I have more magazines and books about collage, digital art, acrylics, and the art business than I could read in 10 years, yet if there is a new book out, I am the first one in line. This is just a little bit of it.

And, just so you don't think my table is always this clean (it only looks like this when I have major holiday company), here is what the room usually looks like, complete with my favorite studio companion Little Bit, my mini-daschund.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Reminisce: Art of the past

by Charissa of Pogibabies

I was digging in the back of my closet the other day and found my old sketch books. I used to do a lot of pencil drawings back in college and was so excited to find these! I'd estimate that I did these particular sketches around 1998-2000. Seeing these made me realize that I haven't picked up a pencil to actually sit down and draw for over 5 years.

I was really into portraits. I was also really into Xmen and Anime-type art with dreams of going to school to become an animator. I actually didn't go to school for art at all. I majored in Marketing/Sales. The only art class that I ever took was a painting class. Somehow I ended up behind a sewing machine with fabric as my medium of choice, making baby clothing and accessories. Far from Xmen an Anime that's for sure! It's still good to look at these sketches and reminisce to earlier days. ....and I think I just might be inspired to pick up a pencil and sketch pad again!
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