Tuesday, March 31, 2009


by Louise of THE HOLE THING

There is a great website where you can create beautiful photo collages for free. It's call Scrapblog, and it 's so much fun. It has a gazillion creative options, and importing your own photos is a cinch. Plus they have lots of templates for backgrounds, clip art to add, or you can entirely create your own. They even have a 5 minute how-to video that explains the basics. Now how's that for a little economic recession fun?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Tapping Into Textiles

by Lisa of Glamourpuss Creations

Finding inspiration for new pattern, texture and color combinations is a constant quest for the jewelry designer. When I'm at a loss, I turn to my collection of vintage 1960s textiles for a refresher on the 'classics'! I love how warm and cool shades are unabashedly tossed together like with the tomato and lemon or rust and moss of these favorite pillow cases that inspired my new Mint Metals Bracelet. The bold, architectural shapes with delicate, feminine flourishes brought me to combine the most delicate, vintage chain I have with giant cobalt blue amorphous lucite beads. Tap into the past to re-design the future!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Big or small?

By DeShawn of DeShawn Marie Handmade Soap

When I first began my business back in 1998 (which at that time was only handcrafted candles) I didn’t have a vision. I just knew that if I made candles and sold them I could pay my bills. So that is how I started. I didn’t have a business plan, I didn’t go to business school, all I did was make candles that people liked and as a result purchased them. Sounds pretty simple right?? WRONG!!

Here is a photo of some of the first candles I ever made

first candles

As time went on I followed the typical American business mindset of “bigger is better” and “growth is good” what I didn’t realize at that time was that instead of controlling my business I was growing it to the point where it controlled me. I never asked myself the question “is this going to make me happy?” I was just so happy to be working for myself I didn’t think it would come to a point where I would be unhappy with it. I mean this is the “American Dream” right? Entrepreneurship and success?

Here is a photo of some of the first soaps I ever made

first soaps

So when I had grown it to a point of having a store front, a 24 page full color catalog, tv commercials, being featured in broadway plays, a coffee shop, a website, 4 employees, 4 interns and 50 stores carrying my candles worldwide I thought gosh I have it made, but why am I not happy? This is what everyone works for right? To have their own business and be successful. Everyone was always telling me "WOW you’re lucky!” Yet as much as everyone kept saying that I didn’t feel it. People came into my store and constantly told me oh I know a store that will carry these or they would tell me they want to invest to turn it into something even bigger.

Here is a photo of part of my studio during that time


I thought all of this was the natural progression of business and that I should want all of this, but the reality was I had come to a point in which it was too much for me and I had no life outside of my business. I couldn’t keep a serious relationship, all of my friends had to visit me while I was working and half the time I’d put them to work while they were there because I was so tired and overworked. I realized this was no life for me. I did this to be free and now I felt more trapped than ever. Everything was happening so fast and I felt the business was making decisions for me, rather than me making decisions for it.

Here is a photo of the candles that made me famous shall we say ;-)

soul searching candles

It was at the end of 2003 that everything changed for me. I became the victim of internet credit card fraud during the holiday season of 2003. At that time I lost everything I had and had to fight to make it survive another year. I closed my store and manufacturing at the end of 2004 and closed my business. My business was destroyed and I had to pick up the pieces and make sense of it now. I was devastated and went through some extremely hard times. To this day I am still repaying debt from this situation and working on resolving all of the tax issues it caused.

There is a bright side to this story though. Strangely I am happier than ever with my business as this catastrophe caused me to restructure my business in a way that was made for me. I am now a sole proprietor that works for myself, I mostly make soap as it is less labor intensive than candle making and I operate it as a small business with no intention of growing big. I’ve learned to say “no” to things I know down the road will not work with my life. My business and my life have to work together or it doesn’t work at all. I’ve learned that “bigger is not always better.” I am posting this today for those who are starting their own small business or turning a craft into business. I’d like to offer some advice that I feel is essential to the success of all small business owners.

My advice: “listen to your inner voice, take a step away from your business on a daily basis and ask yourself what best suites your life with your business being a part of it? They have to work together, make decisions everyday based on what you want your life to be, not on what you want the business to be as the business will naturally become what you want it to if you put yourself first.”

Here is a photo of some of my current soaps

bulk soap photos 012

I hope sharing this story helps those just starting out or those trying to make big decisions now or maybe you are where I was at some point in this story and it triggers you to make the right decision at this point of your business. I wish everyone at any stage of becoming an entrepreneur or small business owner much success and happiness in your life and business.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Numbers and Letters, Readville, MA

Post by Kerry Hawkins of KhawkinsPhoto

There has been a set of train cars sitting at the Readville train station for weeks now. Everyday I say to myself I should photograph them. finally, I made it over there with my camera. I decided to focus on the numbers and lettering on the trains. Kind of a abstract take on these train cars.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

New things in store soon...

By Kathy of Wellerwishes

Here are some brand new pieces I am working on! I'm really excited about them.
This one is a keychain. Above and below photos show the opposite sides.

This one is a hanging ornament. Sweet to hang in the kitchen. The opposite side says "Tea Time". The ornament hangs from a cute brown gingham ribbon.

I've got a bunch of new items in the works. It's so much fun to explore the various things I can create. I'm so accustomed to straight, 2-dimensional illustration as my medium for creative expression. These, too, are "illustrated" of course, but making functional items with my art on them of the 3-D variety is very satisfying in a whole different way. Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Veganism and Textiles

by Jen Paulousky of Blue Alvarez Designs

I get asked a lot "What do you mean this dress is vegan?" And it's a good question - many people think that veganism or vegetarianism is only about what you put in your mouth. But for me, eating vegan was the easiest part of the conversion I made almost two years ago. Cosmetics, shoes, and above all craft supplies, were among the hardest changes I had to make.

So, what does that mean for my business? Well, to start it means I won't use any new animal products. No leather, of course. But you may be surprised to find out that for a vegan that also means no wool, feathers, or silk. It also means avoiding dyes that use carmine.

But wait, you say, you don't kill the sheep to get wool, so what's the big deal? Well, for the most part, sheep are culled and severely mistreated in the commercial production of wool. This is the same for any cashmere or other related fiber, and can be extended to duck down and rabbit fur, etc. And for many vegans, the very act of treating an animal as a commodity is an affront - they are living creatures and should be treated as such. Raising them as a cash crop is in direct opposition to this notion.

There are two gray areas particularly applicable to crafters - yarn that comes from locally and responsibly raised sheep, and second-hand or recycled materials. Personally, I am not opposed to the first. While I still find the shearing of sheep distasteful, these animals are treated very well, most primarily being kept as pets! Plus the purchasing of these yarns aids small business. As for recycled materials, that has to be a personal call. I occasionally use recycled wools, but I still will not promote the use of leather or fur via using those materials even if they are second hand. Because even if something is now second hand, it was new once, and may have been new quite recently. As important as it is not to throw things away, without stopping the cycle somewhere it will never end.

Silk is yet another area that not all vegans completely agree on, but which I personally try to avoid. Commercial silk is created by boiling silkworms alive, to preserve their cocoons as a single thread (if they escape the cocoon, they break it so the thread is not continuous). In fact, modern silk is made from a domesticated worm which would be completely incapable of living in the wild and is useless other than to produce silk for us. Some people may then say "great then why not buy silk if they aren't good for anything else?", but another view is to see this as an undue cruelty - to bring something into the world that never even has a chance at life.

Similar to the issues of silk and honey, carmine is a red dye made by crushing up the husks of dead beetles. It is used extensively in cosmetics and for yarn and fabric dyes. Like silk, it is an undue cruelty, and when we have the ability to make so many beautiful shades of red and purple from plants and synthesized dyes, it makes no sense. Especially since once carmine is processed it is no safer for the environment than most synthetic products.

So, in my quest to bring modern vegan street style to the world, I endeavor to use only plant and synthetically based materials, or appropriate recycled materials as stated above. The argument that leather and wool is somehow better for the environment because these are "natural" products has been largely debunked, provided PVC and other highly damaging materials are avoided, which is getting easier and easier to do. In short, we don't need to exploit animals anymore, and to end the cruelty would help the environment as well. So I'm making my contribution by sticking to vegan and recycled materials. Hopefully this article has inspired you to try finding alternative materials for your own craft!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Vintage by Crystal on the Martha Stewart Show!

Our very own Boston Handmade member Crystal Hanehan of Vintage by Crystal has been invited to be a guest artist on the Martha Stewart Show, with the one and only, Martha Stewart.

The show will air TOMORROW, Wednesday, March 25th. In Boston you can find it at 10am on channel 25.

The theme for Wednesday's show is Easter Crafts and they couldn't have chosen a better person to demonstrate than Crystal! Tune in to cheer her on and celebrate the joy of everything handmade!

For more about Vintage by Crystal check out her blog, Etsy shop, and website.

North Carolina

Kerry Hawkins of KhawkinsPhoto

My uncle and I recently, visited my Mom in North Carolina. She lives in Raleigh, also know as the City of Oaks. They have this fun Acorn Sculpture in Downtown Raleigh.

We also visited Artspace, a visual art space downtown. I was not allowed to take any photos of the art but, I took a few shots in the building. About 40 artists work in the building in a open studio environment. I had some favorites including Chung (Fanky) Chak, Alison Overton and Madonna Phillips

We had breakfast at this cool place called Gypsy's Shiny Diner in Cary, NC
Very yummy food and is just down the street from My mom's place

We stopped by the Farmer's Market, which is really big and full of produce, meat and local products. It was a blast to walk around. I love farmers markets. I even bought a Coca-Cola in a glass bottle. My favorite!

I took this photo on the way back to Raleigh from my Aunt's house in Angiers, NC. We stopped at this Sunni Skys ice cream shop, so I could snap a few photos.

It was a great trip and great weather. I think it is funny that everyone says "y'all".

Sunday, March 22, 2009

My first crochet project

By: Sedruola of Yarn Obsession

This is my husband. This is my husband modeling his scarf. This is my husband modeling the scarf I made him about 7 years ago before we were married. . . Yes, and he still married me!

When I met my husband's grandmother she showed me all the crafts she did like crochet, knitting, paining, paper bead making, quilting etc. At the time, she was in her late 70's and had raised 8 children! When we left her house I said to my then Fiance, "I'm going to learn to crochet, and I'm making you a scarf."

I was true to my word and the scarf you see in this photo is my very first project ever! I'm proud that it's still around, but every now and then I'm tempted to take it apart to re-do it "better". My husband won't hear of it! He loves his scarf and he doesn't care that it's got flaws.

What flaws? Well, If I were to make this scarf today, it would be the same width all the way down and not "varying widths" as this one is. Why? Because I know now what the stitches look and feel like and that I need to go all the way to the end. There were places when I missed a stitch and "decreased" when I shouldn't have and then "increased", without realizing. Also, at the end of the color blocks, I'd leave a tail and weave in the ends. Back then I didn't know about "weaving in ends" so I just cut the yarn as short as possible and left it at that. When I ran out of yarn, midway, I'd tie a knot and keep going (I still do this sometimes because I hate to waste yarn, but I'm much better at hiding it). Finally, I'd put a border around the whole thing to give it a "finished" look. Whenever I look at this scarf, I feel like I have more work to do. . .

The beauty of having a project like this around constantly is that it reminds you of how far you've come. Sometimes I feel like I'm not growing, then I look at a project I did two or three years ago and realize that every day I pick up my hook and yarn, I'm growing.

I'm sure I'll always have the urge to "fix" my husband's scarf, but I'll always suppress it since it's nice to have a reminder of how far I've come. Besides, if my hubby can wear it proudly, it can't be all that bad!!!! ;-)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A few of my favorite Boston Handmade things

By Nancy of nancyrosetta

Being a member of such a talented group of artisans and craft people can have it's advantages. I have the first look at some of the most wonderful new items, and sometimes...they are gifts!

During the annual meeting in January, we exchanged gifts as a group. I was lucky enough to score two of these wonderful coasters from Lucie Wicker which have become a staple on my coffee table ever since. Hubby and I love them!
During the BH Downtown store's run, I had purchased an eyeglass case from Elizabeth Brennick designs which I have put to use as more than just an eyeglass case. I use it to hold the faceplate for my radio when I park in Boston, and when I am not parking in Boston...eyeglass case it is!
I also bought a painted wooded brooch from Wellerwishes (my sister, Kathy) which I wear all the time and love so much! Her pieces evoke a long lost imaginary magical time. So whimsical and colorful!
Since I first discovered Mimi Kirchner's dolls...yes, when I first joined Boston Handmade, I have longed to own one of her dolls. Lucky for me, she had these magnets for sale of her masculine tattoo men who now grace the front of my refrigerator. Someday I will own a real Mimi doll, but until then, I get to look at images of these beautiful tattooed men...
I am a huge fan of Breton Bleu Studios, I am lucky enough to own a few of her original paintings. I'm a huge fan! My favorite is a mini painting of a marsh that reminds me of Prince Edward Island...even tho I know that it was either from the coast of Massachusetts or of France. Here are a few together.
What are your favorite Boston Handmade items?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Holy Craft! Fair & Flea Market This Saturday In Cambridge

By Beth of Elizabeth Brennick Designs

Holy Craft! Fair & Flea Market is this Saturday March 21st from 12-6 located at the Cambridge Elks Lodge 55 Bishop Allen Dr. Central Square Cambridge, Ma. $1 for admission.

Holy Craft! Is a DIY craft flea market where vendors sell a variety of goods including handmade crafts, apparel & jewelry, vintage clothing, records, baked treats, antiques and much, much more! Along with over forty vendors will be some Boston Handmade artist that include Elizabeth Brennick Designs, Vintage By Crystal, and Books By Bexx. It's going to be a beautiful day so as you venture out stop by Holy Craft!

The artwork of Spacesick

By Allison of Fraske Designs

I recently discovered the incredible work of spacesick, particularly the "I Can Read Movies" designs. I am in awe of the design execution and they make me laugh, too. Check them out:

Thursday, March 19, 2009


by Kirsten Bassion

March 27-29, 2009
Seaport World Trade Center
Don't miss Boston Handmade artist Kirsten Bassion's functional ceramic work at CRAFTBOSTON this year. She will be one of 200 fine art craftsmen at the show, which is the biggest high-end show of the year in Boston. This is an amazing opportunity for creative shoppers and collectors to browse, shop, and meet the artists!
Kirsten was honored to be selected by the Society of Arts and Crafts Boston as one of three mentored artists in this year's show. You can find Kirsten and the other two emerging artists in booth #134. This also means that Kirsten will have her own booth in next year's show!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sparking Up with a Photo Safari

by Amy of Bumble Belly Designs

Much like the seasons here in New England, I go through hot and cold phases. I will have bursts of creativity where I am frustrated that I
can't create fast enough and I'll make journal entries so the ideas aren't lost. Then there are the "blank" times. They sneak up on me when I'm in a production phase and building inventory to get ready for a show. After the show, I feel burnt out and nothing comes.
This year, I have started to take short "photo safari's" to fuel the spark. Changing it up and going back to photography is like hanging
out with an old friend. My goal this year is to work steadily so I am not overwhelmed right before a show. With three times as many shows
as last year scheduled, this is my survival strategy for the year.

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