Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Inspiration in the new year

written by Nicole of designs by lulu belle

So I'm sure I'm not alone on this... How many of us have a piece of fabric that we just cannot bear to cut into?

As I attempt to go through my fabric stash as we ring in the New Year, I realize that I have quite a few pieces of fabric that I simply cannot cut into. Sometimes, it's a matter of only having a small amount left and sometimes "it" seems to need just the perfect project. So rather than let them sit in a pile, why not display them as art in my sewing spot where I can be inspired by them?

I had seen this project on the Purl Bee last spring and decided that there is really no time like the present. With only a few supplies, (fabric, scissors, glue, and a wooden embroidery hoop) you too can find daily inspiration with some of your most beloved pieces...

image from the Purl Bee

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tuesday, um... Monday, no, it's Tuesday, wait... Monday Mosaic on Tuesday

It's been that kind of a couple of weeks here at Boston Handmade. We've been winding down our Downtown Crossing retail gallery, and with all the holidays swirling around, we've sort of lost track of what day it is. So, apologies for the lack of Mosaic yesterday, but here is a one-time-only TUESDAY Monday Mosaic. This Mosaic features art and craft that repurposes, reinvents, and reveres the old and discarded. Many Boston Handmade members utilize found materials, and many others are inspired by them. Please enjoy this Mosaic of images from Boston Handmade members...
Lucie Wicker Photography
Glamourpuss Creations
Fraske Designs
Stonehouse Studio
The Hole Thing
Christine Marie Art
Vintage by Crystal
Reclaimed To You
Mimi Kirchner
K. Hawkins Photography
Sea Glass Things
muchacha K
Lush Beads
Linda B. Dunn

Monday, December 29, 2008

New Year's Resolutions

by Liz of Lush Beads

Every year at this time, I wish I'd done lots of things differently.
Organized my materials to be more easily accessible, make more stock
for the holiday season, planned my show schedule more sanely, had more
time to play and develop new products, etc.

As part of my New Year's resolutions, I am making a to-do list for the
coming year.
This will include all the things I wished I had done ahead of time for the holiday season. When I have down time in January and February (and at other points during the year), I am going to consult the list and actually do some of the items on that list. I will start work on holiday ornaments early. I will organize my bead stash. I will keep in mind my personal sanity and limitations when organizing my show and retail shop schedule. I will take my marketing more seriously, and make up a definitive strategy and time line.

I will schedule in "play time", where I can do whatever strikes me. Who knows what new ideas will come out of it? I will allow myself this time and not push it off because it is not "productive time".

What are you New Years resolutions as they relate to your crafting and selling?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Pantone's Color of the Year for 2009

By Chris O'Brien of Christine Marie Art

Pantone, a global authority on color, recently announced PANTONE® 14-0848 Mimosa, a warm, engaging yellow, as the color of the year for 2009. According to Pantone, "In a time of economic uncertainty and political change, optimism is paramount and no other color expresses hope and reassurance more than yellow." Given the state of the economy, that's a heavy load for one little color to carry!

However, had I been forward-thinking while visiting Lion Country Safari in Florida last month, I would have taken many more photos of this engaging Lorikeet, whose body is nearly a perfect mimosa color!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Embroidered Book Project

by Bexx of Books By Bexx

For the last few months, I’ve been hard at work researching the history of embroidered bookbindings and the techniques used to create them. I have about 20 pages of notes, but I thought I'd give a brief overview of what I've learned.

Embroidered books were at the height of their popularity in the 16th and 17th century, and were produced most predominately in England. This type of binding signified that the book was especially cherished by its wealthy (usually Royal) owner, and is most often found on religious books.
The embroidery on this book of Psalms found in the Folger-Shakespeare library in Washington D.C., depicts a the story of David and Golliath . Pictorial religious scences like this one were common, as were ornate floral designs like the one done on this binding (also at the Folger-Shakespeare Library).As I researched embroidered bindings, I became curious about how they were made. This information was a little harder to piece together, but I was able to combine some research with my existing knowledge of bookbinding to come up with a working procedure. I won’t bore you with the all of the details, but I will give you and overview of what I did to create my book.

The book was sewn on recessed cords, which were then laced through the covers. This creates a flat spine, and a strong board attachment. All three edges of the book were decorated with gold leaf, a long and somewhat stressful process!

On the left is a picture of my book in the press after I’ve laid on the first layer of gold leaf. You can’t talk or breath while handling the gold, because at 1/24,000 of an inch thick, it’s liable to blow away! On the right is the book after 2 layers of gold have been applied and adhered the book. It is then burnished with wax and an agate burnisher to make it even shinnier.

After the book was completed and everything trimmed to size, I made a template for my embroidery. In order for the finished product to look right, I had to be very precise.

The 16th or 17th century bookbinder would probably have sent the fabric out to be embroidered, but I was feeling adventurous and decided to do it myself. I only started learning embroidery this past summer, so my design is pretty simple.

After the embroidery was finished, it was time to adhere it to the book. I very carefully put glue onto the book (not the fabric) and put everything in place. I slid some padding between the fabric and the cover to help pull the embroidery tight and hide any bumps.
I was very pleased with my first attempt at an embroidered binding, although there are a few things I would change if I could do it all over again. I hope to keep exploring this binding style, and welcome any suggestions from more experienced embroiders!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Boston Handmade Downtown - Our Last Three Days in Downtown Crossing!

Shoppers entering Boston Handmade Downtown last weekend in the snow

Open this weekend: Today, Saturday, and Sunday, 11am - 7pm
Boston Handmade Downtown offers you a last chance to shop handmade this holiday season right in your own backyard at 505 Washington Street, in Boston's Downtown Crossing.

The weather won't stop us! DeShawn took this pic of Jessica doing a little shoveling.

Unique, handmade, one-of-a-kind and limited edition items await you! Now that you've given gifts to friends and loved ones, maybe it's time you give a gift to yourself. And by shopping at Boston Handmade Downtown you will be also supporting local businesses and the Boston arts community.

You never know who is going to stop by Boston Handmade Downtown, two weeks ago it was Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, the week before that we had a visit from Ravelry founders Jess and Casey, and last week we were visited by historic figure, Nathaniel Balch from The Freedom Trail Foundation - what a treat!

There are still many wonders for you to take home like pendants by Nancyrosetta that are hand-sawed freehand out of sterling silver, and hand-painted "Walkies" by Bumble Belly Designs to hold all of your pet's leashes.

There's also women's and children's clothing created by Elizabeth Brennick Designs, accessories from Abba Dabba Bags, and so much more! Enjoy the rest of the holiday week and weekend by taking a trip Downtown to see holiday lights, skate at the Frog Pond, and check out Boston Handmade Downtown before we are gone for the season.

See you there!

Creative foundations...

by muchacha K, aka Katy Brown

TMI moment: I went to get a professional bra fitting. And I LOVED it. The shop was wonderful, fancy and smelled terrific. It wasn’t scary at all…you keep your existing undergarment/bra on, and they measure under the boobs, then measure you around at the “widest” point of your bust. Subtract the smaller number from the larger one and voila, you determine cup size. (Each inch of difference equals one cup size).

Now, there is a reason I’m mentioning all of this. But first…most women are wearing the wrong size bra. I came in thinking I was a 34 B, and left a 30 D. As if this wasn’t exciting enough, growing two cup sizes in under a minute, they also surrounded me with a million bras in my size. It was a juicy, colorful contrast to the two beige, blah ones I might find on the TJ Maxx sale rack. And…they cost like a million dollars each, but they looked so good that I didn’t care. I settled on a teal satin and lace item with brown detail, with lift for days, that looked like a contender for a Best Bra Oscar, and another less formal one, stretchy and cottony, but not sloppy. And I will happily go back another day, for more.

In fact I will have to, because apparently 30 D is a size rarely carried in most retail stores that sell such things. Combine that fact with my piqued curiosity, my basically crafty nature, and my momentarily small bank account—and I’m now busily learning the craft of bra making.

I’m reading up on fabrics, and lace and elastic (the RIGHT kind of elastic) and calculating the correct proportions and patternmaking…and I now see that I’m just not going to find the delicious components I’m looking for locally. So the search and the research will continue, and the results…will be posted here in the BH blog. I'm thinking leopard print. Stay tuned. Consider this part one of a series. In the meantime, enjoy this fantastic link to BYOBra’s Bra Fitting Tutorial.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Season of Peace

original illustration by Boston Handmade Downtown Exhibitor Kathy Weller

Boston Handmade wishes you and your loved ones
a holiday season of joy and peace.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Way back when

By: Sedruola of Yarn Obsession

Have you ever thought back to how things might have been when there was no electricity? I haven't actually thought about it much until we had our first ice storm of the season and were left with no power for two days. At every turn we found ourselves stopped by the lack of electricity. No shower, because the hot water heater needed electricity to heat the water. No cooking because we had an electric stove. No computer, TV, radio, lights or Internet. Basically, we were left in an extremely quiet house with not much to do but what could be done without electricity. Spend time by the fire together.

While my husband took the time to correct papers, I took the time to revel in not being able to do more than pull out my hook and yarn and work diligently on a project I thought would never be done by Christmas due to lack of time. There is always a positive in any given situation and in this one I found an excuse to spend the day, as many women did "back in the day" sitting fireside crocheting with my family around. Of course, had we been back in those times, I'd have the ability to do my laundry, cook, clean etc. But, with all our "modern" conveniences, we haven't got the capability, or desire to go back to the old ways of doing things.

Nevertheless, it's nice to be reminded of what's most important sometimes. We spend days with electricity ruling our activities. When we are forced to take a "time out" it's amazing what we find waiting for us. Books, crafts, family time and quiet time are all things many take for granted. I'm happy to report that sitting fireside with my hubby and having my son play with his toys around us helped reinforce our family and the enjoyment we have in being together.

Turn off the lights, and electronics and pretend they aren't available, you too will find what matters in the dark.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

J'ai allé au Marché...

by Katy Brown of muchacha K handmade

I seek markets. As a maker of handmade things, I cherish markets as a selling venue that connects me to buyers directly, that same way that I am connected with my creative work. Rich countries have markets, poor countries have markets. Apparently they fill a basic human need, because we hold onto them tightly. My most recent market visit was to Marché Jean Talon (Jean Talon Market) in Montreal, QC, in November. This market is primarily a farmer’s market, but there were a handful of vendors selling handmade knitted items, and soaps, and other non-food items as well. The market lives outdoors in the warm months but snuggles itself mostly indoors in the cold. It was about 10 degrees outside that day but you wouldn’t have known it was winter…crowds filled the aisles. And outside, brave vendors sold viande sur baton (meat on a stick), savon (soap) and even, for the native Montrealer, impervious to cold, glace (ice cream). North African market shops ring the central market, their tiny aisles filled with everything magical. Pictured here...some quiet moments amid the market bustle...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Boston Handmade Downtown - shop our extended holiday hours!

Boston Handmade Downtown
Tuesday, December 23rd, 9am-1pm

505 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02111

It's your last chance to find perfect handmade gifts
for your friends and loved ones
made by local artists and artisans,
and treat yourself to something special after the holidays...
Visit Boston Handmade Downtown at the end of the week
before we close our doors for the season!

Final gallery days:
Friday, Saturday, Sunday,
December 26 - 28, 11am - 7pm

For more information and
a full list of gallery exhibitors visit:

Monday Mosaic

Brrrrrr! It's a cold one outside in Boston today, but you can stay warm by thinking toasty thoughts along with these warm colors, fiery photos, and items for bundling up by Boston Handmade members...
muchacha K
Mimi Kirchner
Lush Beads
Sea Glass Things
Yarn Obsession
Lucie Wicker Photography
MaJenta Designs
Designs by Lulubelle
Fraske Designs
The Hole Thing
Elizabeth Brennick Designs

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Kaleidescope Dreams

By Betsy of Stonehouse Studio

As a kid, I used to love visiting my grandparents in exotic Wellesley (to a child growing up in the jungles of Panama, visiting Wellesley was quite the adventure!). My granddad was an exceptional carver and woodworker and loved making kaleidescopes. I was always amazed at the everchanging colors and patterns that magically appeared with every turn.

Make Your Own Kaleidescope is a fun computer toy that turns photos into kaleidescopes. Simply pop in a URL and watch the magic. I can't wait to use these images in my work!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Shore Things...

By Marla Kunselman of Sea Glass Things

Tis' the Season to start your Holiday gift giving and why not give a gift that was made with the love of our beautiful coast in mind!

The December 2008 Holiday issue of the
North Shore Magazine has featured work from two artists of the Boston Handmade team.

Sea Glass Things and Brooke Pickering of Bancroft Studios have great representation is this upscale magazine this December. Sea glass wine stoppers and handmade ceramic chowdah bowls make the perfect gift for anyone. Being from the North Shore (Salem and Marblehead), our items are truly inspired from the coast and sea. The sea glass wine stopper featured was recently purchased and will be heading to Needham this week! Check out the online article as well below.
Our work can also be purchased in the Boston Handmade store in Downtown Crossing until December 28th!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Holiday Aliens, Macy's

Post by Kerry of KHawkinsPhoto

One of my favorite things is to photograph windows. There are some really good one as of late. With all the Christmas decorations in the windows, they can be pretty fun. I think better than the actual shopping. This is Macy's window display for Christmas this year in Downtown, Boston. I like the alien theme.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


By Nancy of nancyrosetta

I collect sea glass. I've been collecting it for about 16 years. I don't have the opportunity to visit many beaches for seaglass during the year, so my window of searching is a two week period every summer at our cottage on Prince Edward Island. I love to scour the beaches on our little point. My yield each summer is never a windfall, there have been years of collecting that have been better than others, but typically it is a scant handful that I come home with. Our area is not the best for large quantities, and some days I only find a piece or two. To me, that makes it even more special.
This photo is of my searching companion Perry, who passed away 11/07, he stayed by my side and searched along with me. I miss him so much!

I may just be a seaglassaholic. I have only made one jewelry item (a bezeled pendant) from sea glass (which my mother owns), and I actually found that one small piece very hard to part with.

I keep larger pieces that I have found in a restaurant cheese shaker on my kitchen table. Smaller pieces I keep with my gems.

Sea glass to me is more than just a gem of the sea, it is solitude, relaxation, awareness, peace and harmony, all rolled into one. It takes some serious 'alone time' to find any on our small inlet, which I relish in. It is my zen, my yoga, my therapy, and I look forward to my search every summer.

For some wonderful seaglass jewelry, embellished clothing and home decor, check out fellow Boston Handmade member Seaglass Things

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Boston Handmade Downtown - only TWO weeks left to shop for handmade holiday goodness!

by Jessica of Reclaimed To You

Week three in Downtown Crossing has come and gone, and I am pleased to report that the Boston Handmade Downtown gallery is thriving!

(left to right) Sedruola Maruska of Yarn Obsession, Randi Lathrop
of the Boston Redevelopment Authority, The Honorable
Mayor Thomas M. Menino, Nancy McCallum of Nancyrosetta

We had visits this past week from many "special guests" including the City of Boston's own Mayor Thomas M. Menino. Colleen reported on this visit yesterday, and gallery volunteers are all a buzz about the Mayor stopping by.

The Victorian Carollers, A Holiday Quartet

Another joyous moment happened when costumed Christmas carollers came into the gallery, took requests, and serenaded volunteers and customers with their beautiful singing.

(left to right) Jen of Blue Alvarez Designs, Lynne of Cozy Cottage Creations,
Sedie of Yarn Obsession, Guido Stein of It's a Purl Man

Our podcast interview with Guido Stein of It's a purl man was published this past week too, so have a listen here! Thanks again for visiting and chatting with us Guido!

The other BIG news about Boston Handmade Downtown is all the amazing, handmade arrivals that keep rolling into the gallery each week from our 30 exhibitors.

Here is a selection of whimsical photo holders created from sea glass, wire, and beads, made for you by Marla of Sea Glass Things. Marla also delivered new seaglass housewares this past week, shadow boxes, and earrings.

In their continued support of Boston Handmade, sent some items for our gallery that they have asked us to sell and keep the proceeds to help with the costs of running the gallery. Etsy, your generosity knows no bounds - thank you! We are proud to offer Etsy tote bags and T-shirts for your shopping pleasure.

Also fresh for shoppers this week is a brand new array of seasonal greeting cards by Weller Wishes, All The Numbers, and thirteenthstory, holiday wreaths by Breton Bleu Studio, lots of new ornaments by muchacha K, Sea Glass Things, K. Hawkins Photography, Lucie Wicker Photography, Vintage by Crystal, and Lush Beads.

With only 5 shopping days left to the first night of Hanukkah, and 8 days left to Christmas, and only two weeks left of Boston Handmade Down, make sure to check us out and see all the handmade goodness before it turns into a pile of pumpkins!

Workspace Wednesday

by Nancy of nancyrosetta

I not only make jewelry and sell at shows and through Etsy, but I also do production at Custom Art Framing and Gallery 9 and I work as an assistant for the owner of Waterstone Retirement Services.

Since my last WW showed you all the mess where I create, I thought I would let you see where I work otherwise.
This is my desk (complete with DD iced coffee), we have recently moved there, so the space was looking a little sparse, I have some borrowed artwork on the walls courtesy of my other job...
If you look closely, you can see that the vintage map of Boston on the wall at my office above, is the same as on the workbench at the frame shop. I must have been working on it at the time I took this photo.
I really love working at the gallery, even tho I am primarily production, I do take orders for framing and schmooze it up when I have to with the gallery lookyloos. It's a great environment.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mayor Menino Visits Boston Handmade Downtown

by Colleen Baker, of Tactile Baby
with photos by Nancy MaCallum, of Nancyrosetta

Amid the hustle and bustle of holiday shoppers filling Downtown Crossing this past Saturday was a familiar face, Boston's Mayor Menino.

Taking in the festivites on a busy shopping day in Downtown Crossing, Mayor Menino made a special stop into the Boston Handmade Downtown gallery. As he made his way through the shop, he took his time perusing the wide variety of goods on display, commenting on a few pieces that caught his eye, and asking questions of the artists who were working at the shop. He was happy to hear what a success the Gallery has been in just the first two and a half weeks since its opening.

After a few more minutes spent posing photos with the artists, extending friendly handshakes and exchaging kind words with shoppers the Mayor was off to finish his tour of Downtown Crossing.
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