Thursday, July 31, 2008

Photographing Boston

by Lucie of Lucie Wicker Photography

Last weekend I took the ferry from Long Wharf to Spectacle Island in Boston Harbor. The island has been home to an infectious disease clinic, horse rendering facility and town dump but it is now a lovely park with amazing views of the city. Being there was a little surreal- feeling like you were in the middle of nowhere but looking across the harbor and seeing the skyline right there. Here are some I took from the boat and the island (also available for sale on my etsy site). It was a cool day trip, check it out here.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

New Work...

by Kerry Hawkins Photography, Amy Olson Jewelry, and Yarn Obsession

Kerry, of Kerry Hawkins Photography sometimes likes to take photos of plants and flowers, very different from the urban feel of her other work. She recently took this fabulous shot in in Sonoma, California. Kerry loves the natural patterns and frosty green color - it almost looks like a painting!

Amy, of Amy Olson Jewelry, tells us that she has realized the importance of continuity in her work after participating in a recent trunk show. She's working on expanding her line to include complete collections of matching pieces and sets. Amy's stylish, eclectic (and, yes, cohesive!) work can be seen in her Etsy shop.

Sedie, of Yarn Obsession, is a new member of Boston Handmade. She uses both knitting and crochet in creating a cape inspired by one of her mother's shawls. See her wonderfully funky neckwarmers and hats in her Etsy shop.

New Work Wednesday posts are compiled by Betsy of Stonehouse Studio

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


by Sedie of Yarn Obsession

Last weekend my family took a drive out in the country. It wasn't difficult since we live in the country, but we wanted to see more of the area. So we jumped in our car and took off. At about lunch time, we stopped at an open area near a body of water and had lunch. While we were there, we spotted these butterflies right near the water. . . the beauty is breathtaking. We were close enough to touch them, but we didn't want to disturb their solace so we just took photos and let them go on with their day.

When I think of colors or patterns or styles for my designs, I find that many things give me the inspiration I need to move toward a design. The colors in these butterflies are inspiring. The patterning, the hints of other colors, the shaping and even the texture all plant a seed in my mind of a place to go when I next pick up my hooks, and needles for a project.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Monday Mosaic - It's Hot!

It's a hot summer in Boston, and members of Boston Handmade are making work inspired by all the various meanings of "hot" - hot colors, clothing that makes you hot, hot men in suits, the heat of love, the heat of a hair dryer and more, as seen in this mosaic with work by:
Mimi K
All Dunn
Kerry Hawkins Photography
Glamourpuss Creations
Elizabeth Brennick Designs
Vintage by Crystal
Sea Glass Things
Yarn Obsession
Amy Olson Jewelry
Twigs and Heather
Fraske Designs
The Hole Thing
and as always, you can see more work by members of Boston Handmade in our individual shops and in our Flickr Pool. Happy Hot Monday!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Pomme Pomme in Montreal

by Lisa of Glamourpuss Creations

Positively Pomme Pomme: Montreal's new craft and zine fair

Finding out about Pomme Pomme from my friends at Magpie hipster craft store in Davis Square, I decided right away I was sooo there! Held in an amazing historic building that houses a cozy tapas-style restaurant called La Sala Rosa, an upstairs club featuring the hottest indie rock bands and a smaller vegetarian cafe, Casa Del Poplolo, Sala Rosa is like the Middle East Restaurant and Club of Montreal.

Twenty five vendors selling everything from indie fashion zines to hand-spun yarn set up on July 12th and 13th in the 2nd floor club space while a local dj spun spun everything from Beirut to The Beatles. My favorite vendors were Amber Goodwyn of Lickety Split Smut Zine, the cutest smut peddler in Montreal as my husband said, Curse of the Multiples' Evan Meinyk whose mix of modern and retro graphic design makes my head spin and Serahmarie, editor of Worn Fashion Journal who bartered a necklace with me for ad space in her zine!

And when the dj didn't show up on day two, my hubby jumped in with our laptop and iPod and saved the day. Awesome sales, awesome new friends and now, even more excuses to travel to the beautiful city of Montreal.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Je Me Souviens

by Katy of muchacha K

On a recent trip to NYC my sweetie and I decided on an impromptu journey to Ellis Island. More than one hundred millions Americans can claim that an ancestor of theirs came to American as an immigrant at Ellis Island. I am not one of them. However, my roots can be traced to another large migration of immigrants to America, from Canada. My family was part of the massive wave of French Canadians that moved south from rural Quebec to work in the mills of New England, between the mid 1800’s and mid 1900’s.

Current generations of our family have held onto some of the traditions of this first generation in America. Elderly relatives still remember how to speak Canadian French—and can critique the Parisian French I’ve been working to reclaim for my generation. We still eat pork pie—tourtiere—at Christmastime. And we are still working people.

At Ellis Island I saw pictures of women at work in American mills, and those pictures reminded me of the generations of my family that worked in those same mills here in New England. My great-grandparents, Tessier and Ricard were the first generation and they worked in "shoe shops". My grandparents joined their parents in the mills when they were of working age, and many of their cousins, aunts, uncles, also worked these types of jobs. In one old photo, my great-grandparents, and grandparents are together in a group photo of their union from the shoe shop.

Aunt Cecile, now 83, worked in the shoe shops her whole life, from high school, until she retired. Technically, she was a stitcher, but she does not consider herself a seamstress, and she did not experience sewing as a creative endeavor. After her father died, she and her mother worked in the shoe shop, side by side, to support each other.

The Ellis Island trip sparked the realization for me, that sewing is yet one more tradition that I carry on for these previous generations. But for me, the experience is totally transformed. Because Rose, Alexander, Leo and Bernadette came to the US seeking work, and seeking to improve life for their families, I have been gifted the luxury of experiencing sewing as art. I am able to create my work independently, and I am allowed to see my work product as totally my own. It is empowering to experience my own work in this way—and humbling to realize that this empowerment was bought for me through lives spent stitching in shoe shops.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Twigs and Heather - We Are Here

Kerry and I grew up in Nahant, a very small town North of Boston. It is only 15 miles from downtown Boston. We started our studio while living in JP but due to increasing rents for artists we moved to Portsmouth NH where Twigs and Heather grew to what it is today. We have always considered ourselves Boston girls so it was our ultimate goal to move back to the hood. It took two years of searching for just the right house in Nahant. We finally found it just over a year ago. It has our studio in it and we love it. We can see the amazing skyline from many points in Nahant. Even from right outside our house.

The summer is so special here. The town is surrounded by the ocean. We collect all our seaglass here and the twig pickin' is good too.

We recently started a new collection of sea shell designs. We hand picked the shells , molded them and cast them in sterling silver. We now have two shells in our collection and a few more on the way. A mussel shell and a spiral sea shell can be found as necklaces on our website as well as on our Etsy page. We like to think that they are another sentimental reminder of the simple things that we all love and enjoy. We feel so blessed to live and work here and we hope that people who like our work can feel the deep appreciation for our surroundings.

Here are a few of our favorite places that inspire us to do what we do.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

New Work...

by Twigs and Heather and Lucie Wicker Photography

Heather and Kerry Alice, of Twigs and Heather, have new work that includes a sterling silver seashell collection. They collect shells on North Shore beaches, then mold and cast them in sterling silver. Check out these wonderfully organic pendants on their website or in their website and in their Etsy shop.

Also inspired by nature, Lucie, of Lucie Wicker Photography, has been working on a series of sepia toned photographs mounted on square painted canvas. The contrast of the sepia with the black canvas is striking. These wonderfully calming photographs measure 4x4 inches and are available for purchase on her Etsy shop.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Recurring Themes, part 2

Allison of Fraske Designs has researched some recurring themes in some Boston Handmade members' work. This is the second of a series of posts on the topic...

Betsy Baker of Stonehouse Studio is constantly inspired by her little city garden. Betsy's work has always been very organic, but this year she has been exploring flowers and leaves in particular. She has developed a polymer technique to try to captures the nuances, colors and tranquility of her urban oasis.

Heather and Kerry From Twigs and Heather have multiple recurring themes in their work: Nature is the ovbvious one, but the pleasure and pain of love (especially in Kerry's work) and romance in general is also evident.

The most frequent recurring themes in the work of Reclaimed to You's Jessica Burko are fragmentation and loss. Jessica represents these feelings visually by photographing figures in motion, and juxtaposing those photos along side of found and collected papers bearing images of houses, windows, nature, and patterns reminiscent of wallpaper and writing paper. The paper elements in her work are stitched together or attached with adhesives and communicate non-linear narratives as they interweave with vintage photos and fragments of text from books and unearthed journals. Jessica's most recent work is a series of 'paper quilts' which are collages stitched together with thread. The photos and journal pages that she incorporates into her work are not her own, nor of her family, and by utilizing them in the collages she is adopting unknown histories as her own and weaving her story into something new.

What recurring themes do you have in your work?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Monday Mosaic - Vacation!

Have you taken a summer vacation yet?? At Boston Handmade we like to vacation every chance we get and to prove it, here are some vacation inspired items handmade by:
Fraske Designs
Amy Olson Jewelry
Vintage by Crystal
Twigs and Heather
Elizabeth Brennick Designs
Sea Glass Things
Stonehouse Studio
The Hole Thing
Lucie Wicker Photography
Mimi K
Kerry Hawkins photography
and you can see many more of our photos in the Boston Handmade Flickr Pool. Happy vacationing!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The seeds were planted long ago!

by Lynne of Cozy Cottage Creations

I recently found this old photo of myself holding the very first pillow I ever made. That's me 16 years ago! I had already been out of college a few years and decided that if I wanted to use my major - I had studied film at Emerson - NYC was where I needed to be. It was an exhilarating time for me, and a bit terrifying, too, I'll admit. I had this gnawing notion that I needed to make something to give to my closest friends before I moved. If anything horrible happened to me, I wanted them to have something tangible to remember me by. (it's true - that was my motivation - it makes me laugh now!)

So I spent the summer of '92 rummaging through fabric, arranging paper triangles, and teaching myself to sew. The result was four pillows, each a different pattern and my very own design. Even a few of the corners met! But they were more than pillows. I'll never forget while I was using the rotary cutter one day - a simple little thought entered my mind that I'd like to make more of these and see if I could do that for a living. My brain just kept rolling and rolling that idea around, and I don't think it's ever stopped.

I went to NYC, got busy with my career, and had a great time. I was there for five years and during that time was able to rise through the ranks to become an editor/associate producer for Eye On People at CBSNews. But every time I went to a craft fair - and I went to every one I could - that little thought came back. I'd like to do this someday! One weekend, I decided I'd go for it and make the prototype for a quilted handbag. I got out my machine and all my fabric. I had visions of cranking out 20 of them. Hmmm - if I can make one in two hours, how much could I sell them for? The math kept running through my head. After two hours passed, I was still working on it. The day went by - fast - and there was still more to do. I spent the next day with more sewing. Then the next weekend. At the end of the 3rd weekend, I was thrilled to have my little bag (it even has a zipper!), but a wee bit disappointed at the realization it would not be profitable to spend 3 weekends making one bag. I loved that little bag, and got a lot of good use out of it. Every time someone admired it, I'd say "Thanks, I made it, and someday I'm going to figure out how to make them faster and sell them. That's my dream."

Fast forward to today - I finally found something I love to create that I can make in a timely way! I can't go as far as to say I'm making a living at it. But who knows what lies ahead!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Interview with Crystal Hanehan...

...of Vintage by Crystal

Q. Tell us a bit about yourself.

A. I'm Crystal Hanehan of Vintage by Crystal. I make whimsical, vintage inspired figures and decor for the holidays and for everyday that are reminiscent of Grandma's old ornaments from Germany. I specialize in spun cotton and fiber sculpture and use vintage materials wherever possible.

I live in Boston, MA with my better half Ben, kitty cat Magic, birds Sam and Michelle and fi
shies Frasco, Little Guy and Blue. I have a spare bedroom that I call "my studio", but "my cluttered hole" is a more fitting name. lol I'm obsessed with all things old and worn out and spend a lot of my free time scouring garage sales and flea markets for vintage treasures. I've even been known to pick up rusty lost earrings, buttons and random doodads from the sidewalk (but don't tell anyone!).

Q. What is your background?

A. I grew up on a dairy farm in Saratoga Springs, New York, where my family still lives. My father is of course a dairy farmer and taught me so many useful things about building and creating things and about business. My mother is the total opposite of my Dad. She's much more free-spirited (and won't touch paperwork with a ten foot pole) and is an amazing self-taught artist. I owe her my artistic skill and passion for arts and crafts and for old vintage and antique treasures.

I was home schooled for most of my elementary education and graduated high school at 16, after which I went to 3 different colleges before graduating with a BFA in Graphic Design at SUNY Oswego.

I currently work full time as a Graphic Designer for a prominent Boston real estate development firm. My day job has a great work environment and allows me to interact with people on a daily basis, but creating maps and touching up bad photos of commercial buildings is not entirely the creative career I was hoping for, hence my intense concentration on building up my more creative Vintage by Crystal business!

Q. Apart from creating things, what do you do?

A. It's hard for me to do anything but create to be honest. When I'm not at work creating boring lease proposals and not in my studio creating funny bunnies...I'm rearranging vignettes around the house or out at garage sales and flea markets looking for things to decorate the house with or to use in my next project. I do enjoy being outside...camping, hiking, barbecuing. I also love fairs and science museums and anything new to discover. My guilty pleasure is hoarding country decorating much inspiration!

Q. What first made you want to become an artist?

It started very very early on. One of my earliest memories ever was when I was just 3, maybe almost 4 years old. I was always coloring in coloring books. I had Barbie and Gem and Chip and Dale. I always worked diligently and tried my best to make a handsome picture. One day I was coloring in my Moon Dreamers coloring book and I wanted to test my mom. I took a blue crayon and scribbled over the whole page...what a mess! Then I went to my mom and asked her if she liked it. I remember her looking at it for a split second and saying "wow, that's beautiful." Needless to say, Mom failed the test. I knew she didn't think it was beautiful. I did however continue to ask for her opinion on my artistic endeavors. Later on I was always drawing mermaids and centaurs. Then it was animals. Then I took on portraits. The older I got, the more advice she gave me and the more she taught me. Now I talk with her over the phone about ideas and sometimes we collaborate on pieces. One day I hope to have a full blown collaborative business with her!

Check out Crystal's work at or

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Photographing Nantucket

by Kerry of Kerry Hawkins Photography

My mom and I just recently went to Nantucket for the weekend. We spent some of my time walking around the town center looking for quirky things to photograph and dining at local restaurants. Nantucket has many small clothing, book, candy shops, tourist and bicycle rentals places. I like how there are not many chain stores on the island. I think that allows local businesses to thrive and be a little bit off beat.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Workspace Wednesday...

...with Sedie of Yarn Obsession

When it comes to workspaces, we all need a place to gather our wares and spark our creativity. Because our space is limited right now I don’t really work in one place. What I’ve done is gathered my yarn, books and tools in one area of a spare room and when I need something I find it there and work in the living area. It’s great because I can curl up on the couch with my yarn and needles / hooks and work away. My dream is to have a room all to myself when we get a house and have a big oversized chair in which I dream up new projects and work my fingers stiff!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Branching out while keeping it together…

by Lynne of Cozy Cottage Creations

A topic I hear a lot of talk about on etsy is that of Branding. With that in mind, I’m always thinking of how to grow my business and my product lines with cohesiveness. I’d love for people to get a glance of one of my photos and know instantly – yup, that’s a Cozy Cottage Creation!
So, when I got the urge to create some new designs for my pencil cups, I felt like I had a bit of a dilemma. How do you create a recognizable look without boxing yourself in, just making the same thing over and over? I love my pencil cups, and up until recently, each and every one had only been decorated with polka dots. Would I be moving away from a cohesive look if I started creating new designs for them? Variety is great, but the possibilities are endless. I decided to introduce just a few new looks, and keep it to designs that have already appeared on other products in my shop: a scroll, bumpy balls (on the way), flowers, and one other to be revealed later (stay tuned!).

The photo above shows my new pencil cups in different stages of creation.

I also realized I could create a consistent look through my photos. One of my treasured possessions is an old wooden stool that my grandfather built for my mother.
She used to get carsick on long trips up the windy roads (before highways) to their summer vacation spot in New Hampshire. So, to help her see out the window, he made this stool to sit on in the back seat (before kid’s car seats, too!). Now her stool serves as my favorite photo prop. It has just the right “cozy cottage” feel.

This mosaic shows my new pencil cup photos, and the first photo of my very first pencil cup. Hmmm…now which one of these things is not like the other!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Monday Mosaic - Delicious!

Fruit, chocolate, ice cream and more - here are a few items created by Boston Handmade members inspired by all things delicious:
Fraske Designs
Stonehouse Studio
The Hole Thing
Yarn Obsession
Sea Glass Things
Elizabeth Brennick Designs
Lucie Wicker Photography
muchacha K
Vintage by Crystal
and you can see these images and more from our members in our Flickr Photo Pool!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

National Stationary Show

UntitledCurrently my studio, JHill Design, produces 2 types of design work: graphic design services (websites, logos, marketing materials and such) which is about 60% of the business and the paper line "Places I Have Never Been", which is about 40%. Last winter I decided that over the next couple years I'd like to spend less time designing logos and more time drawing patterns for the paper line. The way to go about that was to grow the business was to take it to a whoelsale level, and that ment trying out the National Stationary Show.

About a month ago, at the end of May, my studio participated in the National Stationary Show in New York City. The retailer-only (supposedly 15,000 come) trade show showcases the work of about 1,300 stationary lines.

The booths are not cheap, the smallest booth is about $1500 and that is just for space and curtains. Carpet, electricity, walls, fixtures and lighting is all additional (not to mention traveling to and staying in NYC for a week). The thought of spending all that dough on something I had no idea what was going to be like was a little daunting to me as was setting up my own booth. So I hooked up with another stationary line, Sub-Studio, who was willing to rep my and 2 other lines and in the end we were all able to share a booth.

I was SO glad we did it this way. The pressure was enough as it was (don't attempt to plan a wedding while getting ready for the stationary show) and it was great to be able to lean on others and to share expenses and resources. At the show we each had our own little wall with our logos and products, and we got many compliments on how fresh our booth looked. It was a great way to connect with retailers, press and other designers and I plan on doing it again next year.
That said, I noted a few things I would do differently the next year, and was glad that I had done this small trial run.

So instead of doing a "how to do the stationary show" post (paper crave has a great series about that here) i thought i'd post my "what i'd do next year that i didn't do this year" list.

- Press Kit: thank god I had them cause I went through about 35 there. I would put a bit more effort into it though and include a cd of images.

- Tote Bags: ingenious marketing. many booths were giving out tote bags for buyers to put all the catalogs they were collecting into. The bags were silkscreened with their logo and booth #. Talk about free marketing!

- Collection: I'd think about my line and how to diversify the collections within it so that different retailers may be drawn to different collections.

- Carpet: we had some white ikea hard wood floors and it looked stellar, but it was killer to stand on, i'd go for something padded next time.

- Wedding + Baby: That's what many retailers wanted... I didn't have either, but I will next year!

- Letterpress: Some retailers want just letterpress, but I am personally not on the letterpress bandwagon. I like using too many colors in my work and in the end I think a lot of the "letterpress for the sake of letterpress" work out there starts to look the same. So I'm sticking with off-set.

- Hotels: A decent hotel with a nice bed that is quiet is worth every penny when you as tired as I was while at the show. I'm saving my pennies and forgoing the (gracious) friend's aerobed next time!

To check out some great round up photos of the show visit here: Design*Sponge, OrangeBeautiful, The Storque and Oh Joy!

Friday, July 11, 2008

New Work...

by Crystal of Vintage by Crystal

I've just finished a gang of white spun cotton bats, bunnies and cats (my most popular species to date). I did one set a few weeks ago and got such a great response and requests to make more that I decided to make several sets at once. Each figure is a little different. They're all individuals and like a mom I love them all equally... Two sets are going to Mariclare, a fabulous lady in New York. After everyone has found new homes, I'll still be making them to order, so if you're interested in owning one yourself, just send me a message!

The bunnies have attitude, the cats are shy and the bats are carefree. I normally created the bunnies for Easter and the bats for Halloween...but with their creamy color and silver glitter, they can be displayed all year round or in the cold months for a winter wonderland effect. It's up to you! I wish I could keep them all together here on my cabinet...but I have to make room for kitties and bats! :) I'll be posting photos of my new patriotic figures soon, so check back in!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Recurring Themes, part 1

Allison of Fraske Designs has researched some recurring themes in some Boston Handmade members' work. This is the first of a series of posts on the topic.

Some members of Boston Handmade have obvious recurring themes. The Hole Thing is a perfect example: Louise consistently features holes, circles, and dots in her work. Others, however, have a little more explaining to do!
For Katy of MuchachaK, sometimes the themes that pop up are conscious and some are totally unintentional:"For me there are two things that people tend to comment on about my work. I get a lot of comments that my creations are very "happy". I do use a lot of bright, happy fabrics, and bold patterns. When I've tried to scale it back and try out more neutral themes, colors or patterns, it just doesn't feel right and I always go back to the happy, wacky stuff. I guess that's just me. And then the other day a friend wrote me an email and called me "bird lady". I have a bird-love that goes back much further than the recent hip and trendy bird love. It actually goes back to my childhood piano teacher. She had fabulous bird decorations in her home and I loved them; I always thought there was something a little magic and a little bit luxurious about them. And yes...happy :)"

Jennifer Hill of JHill Design has a paper line called Places I Have Never Been. She researches places where she hasn't been and then does pattern drawings about her imaginary vacations there. Besides actual places represented in her work, some recurring themes are:"The #3: There are always at least 3 symbolic elements
in each pattern. I don't know why, there just always has been :)

Food... I've done patterns about doughnuts, oysters, tequila, champagne... I guess I just love food and drink.

Flora... I love doing floral patterns, though recently I've tried to start doing some patterns with her partner, fauna."

Stay tuned to learn about more recurring themes in the work of Boston Handmade members.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

New Work... Stonehouse Studio and JHill Design

JHillDesign has a new stationery line called, Places I Have Never Been. Each pattern is inspired by Jennifer's imaginary vacation somewhere - this one by her "trip" to France for some champagne tasting. Read more about her inspiration on her blog.

Betsy of Stonehouse Studio likes to take a break once in a while from her polymer and metal jewelry. She recently took a workshop on vessel construction from master polymer artist SL Savarick and put her new skills to the test with a classy little business card holder made entirely out of polymer clay.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Inspired by Nature

by Linda of All Dunn

I have been collecting trees.
Each morning I walk the dog. I study the trees we walk past: sturdy, twisting things, with roots that curl within the confines of the sidewalk, and arms that reach for the sky. Each has its own character. They proceed me in the landscape like figures on a canvas.

When I remember my camera, I bring home images to prod me forward. A photo of a sycamore in winter became this wonderful image to silk screen:The spring saw me sidelined for weeks with flu. After that came my girl's graduation, then I was sick again. Finally last week I got to the Big Studio and began to print on blank tote bags as well as various linens and cottons from my stash. The trees came out, and began to dance sedately with birds and text:Then the birds became more playful, while the trees receded:
Finally, the birds sang all on their own:

I'm thrilled. These totes make art portable, and they help you spurn paper bags. Folks comment all the time on the one I use. You will find them for sale at Lowell Fiber Studio when we hold Open Studios during the Lowell Quilt Festival. I'll post them some at my Etsy store, too. Meanwhile, I have yards of birds and trees to turn into other forms of art. Can't wait to get to work.
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