Saturday, February 28, 2009
Valentine's Day may have come and gone, but we can still find love anywhere we look, if we try hard enough! Currently, I've predominately focused all my creative energy into my Asian-inspired handmade jewelry line at MaJenta Designs, however, I definitely want to get back into photography someday. I just love taking photos of scenic and natural landscapes, and recently have wanted to start searching for things that are heart-shaped, after being inspired by my 2009 calender from the "American Heart Association." However, I found some great Etsy sellers that already have amazing photos of hearts found in nature. Below, are just a few of some of my faves!
"Bleeding Heart" note card by Nezaphoto
"Heart in the Clouds" by Fineartphotomom
"Heart of the Palm" by Heart of Nature
"Heart Rock" by Kjnosal
Friday, February 27, 2009
The second season of Design Hive begins this Sunday March 1st from 10-5 at the Maria Baldwin School (formerly the Agassiz School) 28 Sacramento St. (off Mass Ave. @ corner of Oxford St.) Cambridge, MA 0213.
The independent designers market in Cambridge, Design Hive is part urban street market, part collective retail experience featuring different local indie designers, live DJ's, and more! Shop from over 50 designers selling an array of handcrafted, one-of-a-kind items including clothing (modern and vintage), handbags, accessories, jewelry, housewares, gourmet food, ceramics, prints, and paper goods.
Every show has a theme and this Sunday is "Spring Cleaning" a clothing swap and restyle clinic. It's RSVP so please visit Design Hive's site for details.
We have some Boston Handmade members representing at this show.
Stonehouse Studio handcrafted art jewelry in polymer and metal.Elizabeth Brennick Designs sewn goods.
Photos provided by the artists.
Written by Beth of Elizabeth Brennick Designs
I love collaborating with other artists. Here are some of my recent collaborative efforts:
This piece was done with my good friend and fellow beader Donna Pagano Denny. She loves detailed seed bead work and hates stringing. I love to string and don't have the time for detailed seed bead projects. She's been mailing me her embellished cabochons and I have been turning them into beautiful necklaces. You can see more of Donna's work in the 15th anniversary issue of Bead & Button.
This spider pin has a polymer clay head and body. The polymer clay work was done by my good friend and artisan Liz Smith of Made in Lowell. I was looking for some Valentine-ish colors, and she was happy to accommodate!
This last piece is one I did with The Intuitive Garden. While in her studio, I was admiring this pendant and said that I had an idea for a necklace. She was kind enough to let me work with it to make this funky fiber and bead necklace.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
2. The Hole Thing,
3. Reclaimed To You,
4. Vintage By Crystal,
5. Cozy Cottage Creations,
6. Nancy Rosetta,
7. Elizabeth Brennick Designs,
8. Stonehouse Studio,
9. Fraske Designs,
10. Muchacha K,
11. Lucy Wicker Photography,
12. Kerry Hawkins Photography,
13. Christine Marie Art,
14. MaJenta Designs,
15. Yarn Obsession,
16. Linda B. Dunn
The winter is becoming long...
Looking back through an old journal I came upon this quote:
Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it.Enjoy this stroll through Boston Handmade. May it stir your creative thoughts like a walk in the woods.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
I am in the process of moving into my awesome new sewing studio with my studio mates, Jacqui Lawton, and Nila Venne. I don't yet have everything moved in so it's been a little taste of chaos trying to get work done this past month. However, the last few days I finally got "moved in" enough to really get cranking and get some good work done. Here you see the vintage Singer I do most of my work on, and a partial pile of jewelry rolls in progress. I also have a thread rack to keep my smaller spools on. I only use those when I have a need for an oddball thread color. Most of my work is done with big overlock cones of thread in black, beige, white, red or pink. I love the old-timey feel of the wooden spool rack though. Once we're totally set up in the new studio, in March, we're having a big ol' open house party and I can't wait!
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
I just joined the ICA as a member. I bought a dual membership for my husband's birthday. I have been wanting to visit the museum again. The building is very modern and a good part of the museum sits over the water. The photo below is the view from the corridor that is all glass (top right photo). It is kind of disconcerting to look down at the water.
The museum doesn't let you take photos of the exhibits, just the common areas. I did however, pick-up this brochure from the Shepard Fairey exhibit. It was an extensive exhibit and I recommend a visit. Some of the posters are quite amusing and all are graphically stricking.
In the last few months I have taken photos of his street art around Boston. The one below was in Chinatown. It was mixed in with some other street art. Adding a bit of local color.
This bottom collage was from a huge poster in the South End. It seemed funny to be plastered on a fence near some very historic and beautiful brownstones. A classic Boston neighborhood
There are some other artists you should check out at the museum, including, Nan Goldin and Rania Matar, both very talented photographers.
Monday, February 23, 2009
This week, we picked out some items that are customer favorites in our shops!
Bumble Belly Designs
Sea Glass Things
Elizabeth Brennick Designs
The Hole Thing
Lucie Wicker Photography
Sunday, February 22, 2009
When I left my corporate job to be a studio artist a couple of years ago, I just threw a studio together. It was functional, but pretty ugly. And just kept getting uglier and uglier as I added plastic drawer things, boxes and general junk.
My Xmas present to myself was new studio furniture. Between Ikea and a propitious trash find, I now have exactly what I need for an awesome studio. It took me a couple of days to put it together (it takes a while to translate those Swedish pictures), but the effort was well worth it!
I left my studio layout the same, because it works well for me. I have four stations: a polymer worktable, a metalwork area, a jewelry assembly and finish area and an office workspace. Oh, the joy of not having to clear my polymer table to set up my metal stuff!
What about that lucky trash find? Well, it's my new metalsmithing table. I found it not more than 20 feet from my front door - it's a wood kitchen island that a neighbor left out with the trash. The funny thing is that I found it the day after I finished setting up my furniture. Karma.
I took some close-ups, too - of my polymer tools, color chart and color scales, my comfy chair(a must in every studio!) and a bunch of my new Maya line of earrings ready to be packaged.
Why am I making such a production about an attractive studio? First, because a nice environment makes my work better. And second, because I live in a 1865 Boston rowhouse and my studio is connected to my living room!
Saturday, February 21, 2009
The idea is gloriously simple: Charge a minimal fee. Distribute identical sketchbooks. State a theme. When the books return, display them.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Not be upstaged, my cat Squeak loves to sleep in my photo tent. Here she is doing some kitty modeling.
This month, I asked other members of Boston Handmade about their pets. Do they have pets that hang out with them in their studio? Do their companion animals inspire any of their crafty creations?
Here’s what they had to say:
Furry friends, which you can read here.
Katy of MuchachaK says she allows her cats Pants and Leo into her studio, but is careful to keep cat hair off her fabric, and thread and needles out of their mouths. She says this is pretty easy in the winter when she turns on her space heater. “They sit next to it all day, happily snoozing with each other, and staying out of trouble”.
Jaye from thirteenthstory says that her cat Lucky doesn’t help with the painting, but instead “sits on the couch near the desk and watches intently”. Lucky has also been caught chewing on Jaye’s brush handles. Perhaps she wants to help with the painting after all?
Amy from BumbleBellyDesigns has a Maltipoo named Snowy, who was adopted the day after Thanksgiving.
BumbleBelly sells some adorable leash racks in her shop, and she’s even made one featuring Snowy!
Thursday, February 19, 2009
February is, as are all the months of the year, a celebratory month for many organizations. It's the American Heart Month sponsored by the American Heart Association, it's the Children's Dental Health Month sponsored by the American Dental Association and it's the Weddings Month sponsored by the Association of Bridal Consultants of America. With all those and so many more celebrations this month how do you choose which to "honor"? Well it's totally up to your sensibilities and what you'd like to support. Isn't it lucky that next year, you can switch it up and it won't matter at all.
Every year I honor the athletes, inventors, philosophers and civil rights activists that went before me so that today, I have opportunities beyond my grandparents dreams. Black History Month is not sponsored by any one organization, but is recognized by many. This Black History Month I'd like to take the opportunity to recognize POTUS (President of the United States).
On January 20, 2009 Barack H. Obama became the first black man to be sworn in as the President of the United States. Throughout the country people held Inauguration viewing parties, Inauguration balls and other celebrations in recognition of this historic achievement. However, Mr. Obama himself will tell you that he got to the position of President standing on the shoulders of the great men and women who paved the way before him. People like Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King, Jr. and countless others. People who put their lives and loves at risk because they believed in a better future for the generations to come. He'll also tell you that he went from the shoulders to the wave of this generation's belief that things could get better.
I, like many, was apprehensive when Barack Obama threw his lot in to run for President. He was smart, willing to speak against the "establishment" and growing in popularity. Surely he was risking life and limb for this quest. Then It occurred to me that all those who paved his way, did it in this same way. They new what the worst case scenario could be, and they moved forward anyway. Because the value of the outcome has to always outweigh the fear of the outcome. So today the United States of America is led by a black man, raised by a white family in Hawaii and abroad. Whether you voted for him or not, it should be a point of happiness to know that we, as a country, are moving in the right direction, where maybe we can all allow the value of the outcome to outweigh the fear of the outcome.
In my simple place in the world, I push forward with my adventures in yarn everyday, with the idea that the fear that creeps up now and then, is not my boss, but the rotor that keeps me moving! Happy February Celebrations!
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
There is just so much to organize and make before the big show that I am getting a little nervous, but I feel much better after a three hour meeting I had with the other two emerging artists. We sat down and planned out what we needed to do to build a new booth that would highlight us all in a cohesive manner. Now I feel like I have plan of attack!
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
For all of you out there that have been lending your support regarding the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, you help has not been in vain!
On Friday we got two pieces of great news. First, a one year stay on the act was proposed and accepted by the CSPC. This does not mean that the law will not go into effect: we still need to make sure all our products are lead free, but we are allowed to do this by using supplier testing certificates, thus eliminating the enormously expensive third party testing that was threatening to put many of us out of business. Since everything still nees to be tested up river, this change does nothing to diminish child safety but allows many of us small businesses to stay open.
(Colorful rolling cow by Tactile Baby)
Second, Senator Jim DeMint (R) SC has proposed new legislation that would overhaul the CPSIA as it stands and put the onus for testing on suppliers rather than small manufacturers. Yea for democracy!
Help us continue our fight by writing to your senators and representatives and urging them to wholeheartedly support the new legislation! This fight is not over yet and we need everyone's voice!
Monday, February 16, 2009
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Are you looking for a bit of inspiration in 2009?
The long thread's blog has compiled a very impressive list of the top 100 tutorials from 2008. And best of all, they're also free! There are quite a few sewing tutorials but there are plenty of other craft-related projects including items for the home, for kids, as well as clothing & accessories.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
heart necklace by Nancyrosetta
On this day of love, we at Boston Handmade find ourselves overflowing with love for, um, er... ourselves. The thing is, our group, and all that it stands for, is really special to us, and has been a big part of our lives for over two years. Of course we also love our family, friends, and pets, but today we post this valentine to ourselves and our group as a show of how much we mean to each other and how much the group as a whole has positively impacted our lives and our art. Thank you for your indulgence, and don't worry, your card is in the mail.
"Boston Handmade is my creative family. Everyone knows how good it feels to be around like-minded people, and for all of us to have daily contact with other artists, and artisans is a wonderful thing. I like that whenever one of us has a question, or needs help with anything that there is always someone in our group of 30 who can chime in with advice, or reassurance. Creatively everyone is such an inspiration."
Love, Louise of THE HOLE THING
"I love Boston Handmade because of the strong, supportive community of artists and craftspeople that have developed over the past two years. It is a group that supports and encourages each other in so many ways, and I feel lucky to be a part of it."
Love, Jessica Burko of Reclaimed To You
"I love Boston Handmade because they have been super supportive and welcoming to me as a new person in town. They have made my move to Boston much more enjoyable and successful. I don't think I could have found a better group of artists and craftspeople to be involved with. Everyone has been so helpful, encouraging and resourceful! It is an extremely talented group that give it their all to the handmade world and I'm happy to be involved."
Love, DeShawn Marie Handmade Soap
"This group inspires me to continue creating, and gives me the confidence to put my work out there in the world. Plus, there is great mac and cheese at the parties, which is really important."
Love, Jaye of Thirteenth Story
"Being part of Boston Handmade has really pushed me to up my game and seriously think about my craft as a business. I've also met extraordinary women who have taught me so much about working in a team, several of whom have become my good friends. It made me realize that what I'm trying to do is actually not unique, but that's a bonus. There's a strength in shared goals."
Love, Jen of Blue Alvarez Designs
"When creating in my studio, it's easy to feel alone in your own vacuum. Being a part of Boston Handmade provides encouragement and support. I love being a member of this talented group." Love, Kim of Breton Bleu Studio
"I love Boston Handmade because I have found such a remarkable support group of wonderfully talented individuals that have become great friends. There is always something new to learn or share... and that continues to make me a better artist."
Love, Marla of Sea Glass Things
"I love the camaraderie and sharing that goes on in this group. I love that we trade leads, cheer each other's successes, allow each other to have differing opinions, give each other advice, and successfully work towards common group goals. This group reminds me that I am not alone in my struggles to make handmade my livelihood."
Love, Liz of Lush Beads
"I love Boston Handmade because our shared experience builds a foundation that makes each individual artist more informed, more empowered, more creative, more challenged."
Love, Amy of Bumble Belly Designs
"Boston Handmade has helped me focus clearly on what direction I am taking with my craft. All the members are so supportive and informative, I have learned so much from being part of this group. A huge bonus is doing shows together which I really enjoy! I love Boston Handmade!"
Love, Nancy of nancyrosetta
"Boston Handmade has made me a better artist. I am doing things that I never thought I would or could do. Show my work, have a website, sell my work and write a blog. I found Boston Handmade to be a wonderful support group. Everyone has some much wisdom, knowledge, and experience that they share freely with everyone. I also, love that I have made so many friends."
Love, Kerry Hawkins Photograph
"I love Boston Handmade because it reminds me that there are other artists out there making, showing, and promoting the arts. I love how much we know as a group. I will never be short places to show my work ever again! And I have a place to turn when I am stumped."
Love, Kirsten Bassion Ceramics
"Reasons why I love Boston Handmade- I got the encouragement and push that I needed to get out of my studio and do some markets. When I needed to figure out how to accept credit cards, I had a place to ask, with people who had experience- and even the secret code to get the discount! When a customer does something absolutely crazy, it is so much fun to vent and have everyone chime in- we all get a laugh. And, now when I go to a show, I have know so many of the vendors- so many friends."
Love, Mimi K of mck254
Friday, February 13, 2009
watercolor and technical pen, 2.5" x 3.5"
© Kathy Weller 2008
wellerwishes.etsy.com: My name is Kathy Weller and I live in Cambridge, MA. My business is Wellerwishes. It's my umbrella for my freelance illustration and design business and my custom pet portraiture work, as well as for my hand made art which I sell on Etsy. I am a member of the Graphic Artist Guild and the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.
BH: Apart from creating things, what do you do?
wellerwishes.etsy.com: I'm a Sales and Marketing graphic designer and illustrator for an online media portal called Boston.com. I love to cook, go out to eat, and go to movies, exercise, watch TV, and hang out with my husbannd and dogs.
BH: How long have you been doing your artwork/craft?
wellerwishes.etsy.com: Drawing: always. Can't remember a time when I started, because I just always have done it. I can't remember when I didn't.
Children's illustration: I've been working towards that career for many years now but in the past three years I've been doing very well, am thrilled with my progress and look toward the future! My hand made goods: I've been creating hand made stuff forever it seems. Fourteen years ago, I started a little greeting card company (also called Wellerwishes). That was my first big leap with both feet into the business side of art. It was cool! I sure learned a LOT back then! But it was before online communities, and nowadays there is SO much more support for independent creative businesspeople, in every respect. It's fabulous.
BH: What first made you want to become an artist?
wellerwishes.etsy.com: There wasn't really any question at all. It just was what I did, who I was, for as long as I can remember. It was also how I was usually identified by others: the one who is 'constantly drawing all the time'! :) The questions I had for myself were more along the lines of: What would I do with my art? What field would I go into? How would I make a living? I think as you get to know and develop yourself as an artist, some of those answers come to the surface naturally. Of course it often takes years ;) but the answers come eventually.
BH: What is the first thing you can remember making by hand? How and why did you make it?
wellerwishes.etsy.com: A drawing. I remember drawing on walls. I also remember my first "character" I created: Cute Animo. (I did him on paper, though.) I even created a "Style Guide", (like animation houses use). I didn't know what a "Style Guide" was back then, of course. I just wanted to make sure that, every time that I, or someone else, (when he became as big as Hello Kitty) drew him , he was always drawn consistently!
BH: Who is your mentor if you have one?
wellerwishes.etsy.com: I do not have a mentor per se, but there are several individuals whom I look up to, whose careers and achievements I greatly admire, and whose skills and talents I greatly appreciate and would like to cultivate some semblance of, for myself. The trailblazers! Some of them are: Carol Eldridge, Mary Englebreit, Sandra Boynton.
BH: Please describe your creative process (how, when, materials, etc).
wellerwishes.etsy.com: I have different concentrations, and each has a different process. But I usually start with sketches. That is the common thread of everything.
watercolor and technical pen, 5" x 5" © 2007 Kathy Weller
wellerwishes.etsy.com: Watercolor, liquid inks, acrylic paints, pen and ink (nib pen as well as Rapidograph pens). I like to paint on hard surfaces especially wood and wood products. I don't like painting on canvas, linen or other fabrics - it's just not my thing. I also like to paint small. I am not really into painting large. I also do a lot of digital art. For that, I primarily use Photoshop, Flash and Illustrator.
BH: What handmade possession do you most cherish?
wellerwishes.etsy.com: My sister Nancy (BH member NancyRosetta) made me the coooolest necklace. It's my avatar -- the bunny holding the pom poms - on a chain, that I can wear as a necklace. It is the coolest thing! I never expected it. And it's all mine! (insert evil laugh here!) I love that it is one of a kind.
Another thing I love is this plastic plate I made when I was really young. In kindergarten, we made marker drawings that were super-imposed onto plastic plates for each of us to keep.I still have that plate, thank goodness. I love that plate. I still remember the process of drawing the art! I remember making decisions when drawing it, and the 'mistakes' I made, how I tried to correct them, because I couldn't erase the ink and I was unable to start over again. I remember the inner dialogue I was having with myself. I can recall thinking so critically and with such an eye for composition. It's kind of fascinating that I remember this.
BH: What do you love most about what you make?
wellerwishes.etsy.com: What I love most about what I make is I love drawing and painting on whatever it is that I make. That's my M.O. (Cat's out of the bag!)
BH: Are there other mediums you’re not working in that interest you?
wellerwishes.etsy.com: Yes of course! :) I took pottery classes years ago and they were so much fun and so meditative, but throwing the clay was extra hard on my hands after awhile, and really, what I wanted to do most was carve and draw on the pots I threw. So now, when I get a craving to 'do pottery', I head to Made By Me and paint a piece. No throwing necessary! I also love to make scrapbooks of vacations. I started making them before scrapbooking trend, or before I even new what scrapbooking was (and if you see them, it's kind of obvious that I was working with rawer materials because they are pretty rough around the edges ;) ). I have not had time to make one of those in at least five years. (Whew, time flies.) I also enjoy knit and sewn goods from a consumer standpoint, but it's not something I do myself.
BH: Any tips on selling handmade stuff?
wellerwishes.etsy.com: I try to always consider the saleability of the stuff I put out there, and that it will be somewhat sturdy! To that end, I'm interested in art that has some sort of function, no matter how 'vague' that function may be. One thing I have found by way of Etsy and independent selling, is that is that art prints are popular and do sell. I am pleasantly surprised by that, as the only function they carry is to hang on the wall and look pretty.
BH: How do you promote your work?
wellerwishes.etsy.com: Different types of marketing work better, or worse, for my three different concentrations. For my paintings, pins, prints and other handmade goodies, I have been using social networking tools/sites such as my blog, Trunkt and FaceBook to promote my work. In the pet portraiture realm, I've used several avenues to promote my work, from advertising in dog magazines and on pet-centric web sites online, to including "tell-a-friend" and "repeat-customer" coupons with completed orders. I've also donated a lot to charities over the years, which is good to mention because, although it's altruistic, it's also a form of PR as well. Speaking of PR, I also want to mention how incredibly valuable press is for any independent business! I've been very fortunate to have had a good number of write-ups on my pet portraiture, and, really, you just cannot buy that kind of visibility. For children's illustration, I do mailings, attend conferences, use social and business networking sites, and last but not least, try to deliver fresh samples to my rep regularly.
BH: How long have you been involved with Etsy and what have your experiences been?
wellerwishes.etsy.com: I've had my Etsy shop for a year and a half. Etsy blew my mind when I first discovered it (and, apparently it blew a lot of other people's minds, as well!) I've had nothing but great experiences with Etsy. I've had some wonderful customers, some of whom have turned into repeat customers. Not only that, but I've met many other artists through Etsy. It's not ONLY just a great place to shop. :) It's also a great community of artists and art appreciators/buyers.
BH: What have been the most valuable lessons learned from other artists on Etsy?
wellerwishes.etsy.com: I think it helps to first and foremost have specific goals for the shop. That way, you can know where you are at the start and have a road map as to where you want to go, what you want to get out of the store, how much work you want to put into it, and the rest. Then once you know what your goals are for the store you can move on to the next set of goals for the shop. It might be just a place where you want to casually unload a few things. (If this is you, it's a more relaxed situation!) Or, it might be a place where you have a sales goal for each quarter and you want to meet or exceed this goal. (If this is you, then you need to get aggressive! :) ) Aside from that, in general I have learned the importance of bringing in new merchandise into the shop on a continually rolling basis. I think it requires a long term, leave-no-stone-unturned plan. I am not saying that this is my own plan -- I just notice that the most successful sellers have a strong plan, and one thing that they do is replenish their shop all the time.
BH: What advice would you give to artists who are new to Etsy?
wellerwishes.etsy.com: Good photos are very important. The more info about the product, the better. At the same, time try hard to self-edit, because most shoppers don't want to read a ton. They'd rather read a lot of useful information, in as few words as possible.
BH: Read any good books lately?
wellerwishes.etsy.com: I read mostly non-fiction and reference books. Aside from that, I read children's books! Currently I am systematically reading every issue of The Horn Book that I've received in the past year. (The Horn Book is a magazine dedicated to children's literature and picture books.)
BH: Is there anything about you that would surprise people to know?
wellerwishes.etsy.com: I used to be an underachiever. But I discovered that it wasn't my fault! :) It was due to environmental influences. Now that I'm "all grown-up", I make the rules. :) (insert another evil laugh here.)