Sunday, August 31, 2008

大 紅 色 = Big Red

By Jen Paulousky of Blue Alvarez Designs

The title of this blog post is Mandarin for "Big Red", which is exactly what I thought of when I saw this building at the corning of Columbus and Clarendon:

I rode past it on the bike last Sunday (on my way to eat super tasty 月 餅 (moon cakes)) and promised myself I would go back to take more pictures. So on Tuesday, while I was waiting to practice my 中文 (Chinese), that's exactly what I did.

Now, I am not a photographer by trade or hobby (which I think these pictures can attest to). I was drawn to this building because of my love of all things textile. I was struck by how similar the affect was to gauze or organza from far away. I think this is illustrated really well in this photo:

You have to also kind of imagine that it was swaying in the breeze at the time, so the motion helped to complete the illusion.

The other reason I was so taken with this is that it wasn't all one hue, but rather many reds, which gave it a tiered look, reminding me of a many-layered skirt or gown.

And this same effect, when viewed from the side, actually revealed this seemingly random placement to be a quite orderly stripe:

The oranges, reds, and even almost purples (augmented by the blue bars behind them) really took me. I love these images and am hoping to use them as inspiration in my newest collection.

However, I think my favorite thing is putting those delicate, wafting layers in context with this parting shot:

Deep down, or rather up close, we all know it's really coarse, plastic mesh, built to withstand intense wear & tear in varying elements. And I just love this as a metaphor for being a woman in today's western culture, and it will surely be in the front of my mind as I'm designing the clothes for exactly those women - myself included.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Marriage of Art and Music

by Arian of

Music, whether it's the mood it conveys, the song titles, or the lyrics themselves, is one of my biggest inspirations. I LOVE collaborating on projects with musicians--cd covers, gig posters, t-shirt designs, etc. And my Etsy shop is full of song-inspired prints.
This is my most recent song-inspired print based on Seabird's "Til We See The Shore". I popped the newly purchased album in my ipod and went out for a late-night run last week. And as soon as I got back, had to get this sketch out of my head and onto some paper. The lyrics on the print read "Sing til your heart hurts and then sing some more. Don't stop singing til we see the shore"
This print is a result of listening to Benton Paul's song, "My Favorite Thing" on repeat for about 2 weeks straight. It's such a sweet song and I hope the print does it justice.
I've probably heard the old hymn "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" a couple thousand times. But you know how sometimes, for whatever reason, old songs or stories suddenly take on new meanings and you listen to them as if you're hearing them for the first time? I'm not sure why, but I couldn't get the line "morning by morning new mercies I see" out of my head for days til I finally sat down to sketch out this print.

I've got quite a few other song-inspired prints in my shop. But I'd love to see what other artists have done under the influence of great music.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Recycle Revamp Tops

By Beth of Elizabeth Brennick Designs

I've been reading and seeing a lot of this, recycling clothes and revamping them into hot, new, fresh clothing. I've been making all of my items from scratch and decided to take the challenge on. I recycle to save this beautiful planet we live on and incorporating it into my handmade craft business makes it that more special to me. I'm working with right now tops that are plain or have stripes. I like ones that have long sleeves so I can either cut them off or shorten them to add that extra fabric to another top.

Perfect example, for my gray and white stripe top I used the sleeves for pockets. I also don't mind minor stains. Areas like those I can applique some of my print fabrics and make shapes or objects. When I buy my fabrics majority of the time I know exactly what I'm going to make. These tops are blank canvases for me to stare at, sketch out some designs, cut, and then sew away.
This is new for me and I hope that I inspire people to recycle their items and create! A book that inspired me is Tease 50 Inspired T-Shir Transformations by Superstars of Art, Craft & Design.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Environmentally Safe Alternative to Oxidizing Sterling Silver

by Marla of Sea Glass Things

As an artist I am always trying to find alternatives to the norm - thinking outside the box... and in doing so stumbled upon this very easy and environmentally safe way to oxidize sterling silver. I am sure you could use this process on other base metals - however, my experiment was solely on sterling silver as this is the metal I use.

We know that the chemical, Liver of Sulfur, is commonly used in the the oxidation process of metals. It gives sterling and other metals various patinas depending on how long you process your items - usually by dissolving it in water. It is quick, effective, relatively inexpensive and does the job. However, the drawback is that it is a chemical and you must take the necessary precautions - gloves and a well ventilated area - even protective eye wear could be used if desired. So what do we do when we are done with the chemicals? We dump them down the drain. Where do they go? Well, then can end up right back in our environment and water ways. Not so good.

Sulfur is the substance that creates the oxidation when released. Eggs contain sulfur. Although this method may not save you time - it is a healthy alternative!
Step 1: Boil 1 or more eggs - bring cold water to first boil - then add the desired amount of eggs - after coming to a second boil for about 8-10 min - the egg is ready to be removed.

Step 2: Do not put the egg in cold water as you usually would - take the egg (use caution because it will be very hot) and remove the shell.

Step 3:
Find a tupperware with lid (or a sealable plastic bag) and put the egg in crushing it up.

Step 4:
Add desired silver you would like to oxidize and seal - this process could take anywhere from a few hours to overnight. The silver will go through different color changes such as rose to a purple hue and then to black. You may have to repeat this process to get to black.

Step 5: After you have reached your desired patina - remove and rinse and you are ready to create! You may want to brush with steel wool to create an even patina and antiqued look.

Give it a try and see how it works!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Workspace Wednesday...

...with Jessica of Reclaimed To You

My projects this summer divert a bit from my usual artwork. For one reason, my studio space has been blistering hot and the house is nice and air-conditioned. Reason two, I have piles and piles of beautiful fabrics that I have been collecting for over 10 years that have been beaconing my name. So this summer I set up shop in the dining room and have been sewing lots of fun projects - there may be a new Etsy shop in my future!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Photographing Ireland

by Kerry of Kerry Hawkins Photography

We just went recently to Ireland for a trip. We visited friends, who were house swapping in Ireland. We went to both Northern Ireland and Ireland. I also have a blog post for Northern Ireland, as well. Ireland was very beautiful and as you might think, very green. There seems to be sheep and cows everywhere along, with a castle or two, such as the above one. We spent a few days exploring Dublin. It reminds me of Boston in many ways. It streets are very vibrant with lots of history. The photos below are Dublin city street scene, Christchurch, a funky Dublin gate, and the Kilainham Jail (pictured at bottom). We took a really great tour of the jail. It housed many political prisoners who were jailed for being involved in various uprisings in bid to gain independence from England.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Monday Mosaic - Spiraling!

According to Wikipedia, "In mathematics, a spiral is a curve which emanates from a central point, getting progressively farther away as it revolves around the point." In art, a spiral can be a starting point for creativity, an inspirational direction, a point of connecting with nature. Here are a few pieces that twist and turn through various media created by members of Boston Handmade:
K Hawkins Photography
Mimi K
Lucie Wicker Photography
Fraske Designs
The Hole Thing
Elizabeth Brennick Designs
Majenta Designs
Christine Marie Art
Twigs and Heather
Stonehouse Studio
Lush Beads
To see more work by our members check out all of our Etsy shops and our Flickr Photo Pool.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Boston is Inspirational

by Crystal of Vintage by Crystal

I always knew there was inspiration for my artwork everywhere, but lately I've only been looking for it on-line. You know, blogs, websites, Flickr. All great sources of course...probably even a little too good because I was quickly forgetting about all of the inspiration I see in everyday life. I suddenly realized that I was passing by gorgeous snippets of the real world and didn't even turn around for a second glance!

Well, to remedy this I started by looking more closely at common things on my usual lunch break walk around town. My co-worker and I never go too far, just up near the Commons and down some side streets or near the harbor and down the boardwalk. One day last week I had my camera with me and I decided to snap some quick photos of anything I thought was pretty. I grabbed a shot of a cupcake gift bag in a Papyrus window display, a bookshelf in an al fresco bookshop, a sign outside the ice cream parlor, a girly Boston Red Sox hat, a pretty blue (my favorite shade) sign in a Starbucks window, the top of a mannequin in the window at Macy's, looking up the nose of an old street light, a book in a window display, and lastly, an old brick wall messily painted.

All simple, but beautiful things!! :)

Friday, August 22, 2008

I love Stonehouse

by, Sedie Maruska of Yarn Obsession

I remember working on a treasury and coming across a few items that kept catching my eye. Every time I looked at the shop's name it was Stonehouse Studio. Although I finally did get the treasury completed, Stonehouse stood out and still does.

Besty makes beautiful polymer jewelry that is just breathtaking. Her pieces are timeless and unique. I think I love them because they use a lot of my favorite colors. Whatever the reason, each piece is made with great care and attention to detail so each piece is truly a work of art.

Besides being a great artisan, Betsy has been a great team-member. When I've asked questions she's been sure not only to give me the answer, but to give me additional resources to find what I'm looking for. She's always ready to share and I appreciate that. I often see her sharing information with the group that is helpful and insightful. It's nice to have someone like her around.

So not only does she have fantastic jewelry, she is a really great person to know. Betsy is not the only reason I'm proud to be a part of Boston Handmade, but a good one. Visit her and let her know I sent you.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Photographing Northern Ireland

by Kerry of Kerry Hawkins Photography

I recently went to Ireland and Northern Ireland. The countryside was very beautiful with wonderful landscapes and pretty towns. I read in the guidebooks that the Antrim Coast of Northern Ireland was the most beautiful of all of Ireland. It was indeed breathtaking.

Northern Ireland is very rural with lots of sheep and cattle farms. I took this photo near Dunluce Castle. The scene looks so peaceful and serene to me.

These are photos of Dunluce Castle. The castle was built in the 1500's but now has fallen into ruin. It was a great place to explore. It was situated on a cliff, along the Antrim coast. At one time some of the castle fell into the sea. Sadly, some servants working in the castle kitchen at the time were swept out to sea.
We also went to see Giant's Causeway. It has these strange geometric rock formations. It was almost hard to believe they were real. You could walk on the rock formations like they were steps. The surrounding area was very beautiful.

This is a photo the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. We walked across this bridge to get to the tiny island of Carrick. There were lots of birds nesting on the island and surrounding area. I have to admit I was a bit nervous going across the bridge

Northern Ireland was great to photograph. Some many beautiful landscapes and the coast was wonderful. I have more photos of Northern Ireland and Ireland posted on my blog.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Workspace Wednesday...

...with Twigs and Heather

This is our studio. It is in our home in Nahant. It is pretty small but we have everything we need in it to cast and finish all our of jewelry. It is the third studio space that we have been in. The first was in Eliot Maine. The second was in our house in Kittery ME. Both had little windows that could only be used to vent out the bad stuff produced by being a casting studio.

This workspace has a real window overlooking our wildflower garden.

AHHHH fresh air. (We also have a vent too.) Kerry and I talk about decorating it more but we don't want to have anything catch on fire. Safety first! You can see what we make in this humble space at and also our website

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Inspiration in the Clouds

by Jennifer of JHill Design

I'm always looking for inspiration for my patterns in nature, (that's where some of the best ones are). My favorite place to look is in the clouds. When I was little I used to lay on my back and look up to see what I could find in the sky (as many did) and it is still one of my favorite things to do.

On a flight back from Oregon last week I had a great window side view and here are a few pics I took. I was mesmerized by the big billowing white puffs.

What do you see in there?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Monday Mosaic - Peace & Happiness

Summer is drawing to a close and we at Boston Handmade take a few moments to be peaceful and share the happiness we find through creativity with these images by:
K Hawkins Photography
Stonehouse Studio
Reclaimed To You
Cozy Cottage Creations
Fraske Designs
The Hole Thing
Majenta Designs
Lucie Wicker Photography
and see more of our work in our Flickr Photo Pool. Have a wonderful Monday!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Lucky Monkey's Guerilla Garden Bombs

By Allison of Fraske Designs

Etsy certainly has some innovative handmade items for sale. One that has particularly caught my attention is the package of Guerilla Gardening Seed Bombs by Etsy seller Lucky Monkey.

If you are unimpressed with some of the greenery (or lack thereof) in your neighborhood, then take the advice of Lucky Monkey and practice random acts of gardening with her Guerilla Gardening Seed Bombs! These "bombs" are wildflower seeds rolled into small balls of clay. Throw them in the neglected (and flower friendly) location and watch them bloom! What a great idea!

Friday, August 15, 2008

I love flowers

By Nancy of nancyrosetta jewelry

As sneaky as they are beautiful, flowers have become a recurring theme in my work. I love all types of flowers, but the kinds that really get into my jewelry ideas are the ones with big juicy petals and long meaty stems.

While I learn new and exciting ways to manipulate metal, I continuously incorporate flower forms into my work. Every flower I make is a one of a kind shape as I don't use any templates or jigs. I enjoy working freehand, it helps me create my 'Me' style.

These rings are my latest flower design. I really enjoyed making these and plan on making more. They remind me of Hawaii even though I have never been there.
I love flowers!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

How Google Can Help You

by Jennifer of JHill Design

Oh Google. Don't you wish you had bought their stock before it reached $468 a share? Well forget that, Google can help your business in many ways. All you need to do is set up an account. Below are my 2 favorite Google tools.

1. Google Alerts. Once you are signed in you can set up Google Alerts. These are a great and easy way to monitor things being talked about on the web. Keep tabs on who is talking about your work by setting up an alert for your business name. Find out about shows in your area by setting up an alert like "art shows Boston". Set up an alert for competitors names just to keep tabs on what they are doing. You can choose how often you want Google to email you their findings. Be forewarned, setting up too many alerts will inundate your mailbox! Learn more here.

2. Google Analytics. If you have a website or a blog Google Analytics is a priceless piece of code to install on it. Once registered you place this bit of code on the first page of your site. Once the tracking is installed you can find out all sorts of interesting things:
Where is your web traffic coming from? How many visits is your site getting? Which pages are users exiting on (you may want to beef up content here)? What are your top visited pages? What screen resolutions are your users using? What languages do they speak? Sooooo much more. Best of all it is free. Learn more here.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

New Work...

By Allison of Fraske Designs

I was recently commissioned for a large art piece in someone's home. The basic request was a space/astronaut theme with vibrant colors incorporating the quote "because your life is full of pure desire, a place so gloriously wired with lights and sounds." I worked on this on and off for a few months. Working on a commissioned piece is difficult! You have to do your best to present what the client is looking for, and as much as you try to get into his or her mind to see what he or she is envisioning, it can be a gamble. I am happy to say that the final piece was achieved with minimal revisions, and my client is beyond satisfied with the results!

The mixed media piece is a combination of sketches, scans of old blueprints, an image from an old children's mystery book, and digital manipulation.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

From Idea to Artwork

by Linda of All Dunn

As a visual artist, I am always collecting ideas from the world around me.

In addition to works in progress, my studio walls are filled with notes: old toys, beautiful photographs, bird feathers, and other flotsam from city life, rusted, broken, and brought home to make me think.

I keep a large "idea book" where I assemble some of these pieces into collage, usually by color. The pages evolve over time, so they stir memories as well as new ideas.Recently I used this book to inspire a scarf I made for a customer in France. Then I took trimmings from the scarves, and added them to the related pages: So now that page will always remind me of this piece:
Of course, sometimes, especially on a hot summer's day, one just sits and thinks, as my cat is happy to remind me. Napping is good too.
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