Monday, January 31, 2011

Monday Mosaic - Be My Valentine

1. Love n Happiness 8 x 10 Photographic Print by Fraske Designs
2. Valentine's Day 6" Patchwork by The Merriweather Council
3. How Do I Love Thee Valentine by Reclaimed to You
4. Be My Valentine Pocket Mirror by Stitchy McYarnpants
5. Heart Felt Card by Cozy Cottage Creations
6. My Cold Black Heart by Nancy Rosetta

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Boston Handmade - What we give each other

by Sharon of Stray Notions

I joined Boston Handmade less than a year ago and just this month attended the first of what I hope will be quite a few more of our annual meetings. It is an day long meeting where we:
review where we've been as individuals and as a group and plan where we're going and how we are going to get there. In between we share some yummy food and do a blind swap of handmade goods.

But, what we give each other is so much more than the things you see pictured here (wonderful as they all are). As a group there is such diversity in terms of the media in which we work, the level of experience in our respective fields, whether or not we are full time artists/artisans. Some of us are recent college graduates others are old enough to be their parents, some always knew they'd work in the arts and pursued degrees to get there, others are on second (or third) careers and took a more circuitous path.

It is this wealth of talents and experience that we share when we meet in person or online, in a large group like at the annual meeting or one on one for specific needs. We give each other, encouragement, honest criticism and advice, information, skills, reality checks, referrals and business opportunities.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

New Work

by Cristina Hurley of Cristina Hurley Jewelry Design

I have been re-exploring the pyramid shape I worked on in college, and I find that even though I make the piece using the same technique, it is coming out slightly different, which I find quite curious...
Here's one of the first ones I made...

And here is the latest one in the edition... and yes the layers spin!

I am also able to expand the idea into a pair of earrings... which I think came out very cute:

I would love to also be able to make a bracelet. I will post pictures if it comes into being. In the mean time, enjoy some more pyramids I have made over the years.

Some are old and some are new, but they always resurface at some point during my creative process. You will see their influence throughout my body of work.

I have always been inspired and fascinated by the simple and yet complex and magical shape of the pyramid. Even though I have not studied a lot about the meaning behind them throughout history, I know they have some kind of spiritual meaning for me, as they must have had for the ancient people who built them.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Interview with Renée Johnson, Director of The Lady's Not For Burning.

by Laura Collins of Pansy Maiden

A few years ago, just before I started designing and making bags, I was desperately seeking a creative outlet to escape the boredom of sitting in front of a computer 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. My first attempt at re-activating those dormant creative energies was acting in community theater productions. I was pretty involved with a couple wonderful local theater groups for a year or so, but then I launched Pansy Maiden. Now I don't have any time for theater, but I am so very thankful that I was able to find an outlet that opened my mind to endless creative possibilities. My 9-5 job was my current location, owning my own (creative) business was my destination, and theater was Google maps.

Even though I don't currently participate in the
making of theater, I like to participate by
attending shows produced by local theater groups. This makes for a super-great date night or girls-night-out night, plus, you are supporting local creatives who want to entertain you! The next play on my list is Theatre@First's, The Lady's Not For Burning. I'm really excited about this one because 1) it's set in Appalachia 2) it has an awesome soundtrack, and 3) it's a dark, romantic comedy. I had a chance to interview the director, the talented Renée Johnson, about her work on this fantastic play.

Tell us a little bit about Theater@First and your history with them.

I began working with Theatre@First in 2005, when I was cast in a production of The Merry Wives of Windsor. Since then, I’ve appeared on-stage several times and worked in various administrative/back-stage capacities more times than I can count.

Theatre@First is the only community theatre based entirely in Davis Square, Somerville. Part of a non-profit theatre collaborative, T@F’s philosophy is “More theatre, less drama,” and we attract a wide range of people from all walks of life and all levels of talent and experience. It’s a great group to work with and everyone has a say in the shows that we choose to put on and contributes to the way that the theatre is run by participating in a Steering Committee, which meets monthly. I have to say that I’ve made some of the best friends of my life working with this group; the people are really something special.

Without giving away too much, what is The Lady's Not For Burning about?

The Lady Is Not For Burning is a “romance about the gallows.” It’s a dark comedy about a disillusioned soldier determined to die and an accused witch determined to live. You can see how that might lead to hilarity, I’m sure! The show is full of witty language, hilarious visual comedy, clever innuendo and brilliant acting. It’s been such a joy to see it unfold throughout the rehearsal process.

Why did you choose to direct this particular play?

It’s by far Christopher Fry’s most popular play, and one of the most popular British plays of the 20th century. Most people have heard the name but have never seen it, especially here in the states.

This play has always held a special place in my heart. Every time I read it, I lose my heart to Thomas and his twisted declarations of love. I cheer when Jennet factually documents her own strangeness. I see the characters move through their one-room world as if they were right in front of me.

Our production brings this traditionally British tale to American soil and sets it in 1919 in a West Virginia coal-mining community. I wanted to remove the pageantry of European history from our production and highlight the pioneer spirit of America. For me, nothing says Americana like Bluegrass, southern country living and simple, hard-working folk. Our production is sepia toned. It's the feel of homespun cotton, the smell of whiskey and the look of old pine floorboards.

Music plays an integral part in this production. Can you tell us a little bit about this music?

I wanted to highlight the rich musical traditions of rural Appalachia. We’re talking Bluegrass, Americana and good old-fashioned country music. A lot of people probably don’t realize that the Boston area has an amazing Bluegrass/Americana music scene that’s been around and quite popular since the 60’s and earlier, in some cases. It’s a genre that I’ve only just begun exploring, myself, and I can tell you that I’m totally hooked.

Amazingly, I got permission from local legend and folk troubadour, Mark Erelli, to use some of his music in the production. I’ve been a big fan of Mark’s music since his 2004 album, “Hillbilly Pilgrim.”

We also recruited two very talented musicians to record some new tracks for us. Scot Castle and Jiro Kokubu are both local to the Boston area and incredible multi-instrumentalists. Both play a combination of mandolin, guitar and banjo. We recently had our recording session with the guys, and I’m very excited to share what we accomplished with our audiences.

Where and when can we see this play?

The show takes place at Unity Somerville, located about 4 blocks from the Davis Square train station. We’ve got 10 performances: February 10, 11, 12, 17, 18, 19, 24, 25, 26 at 8pm, and February 20th at 3pm.

Tickets can be purchased and reserved by visiting this link.

Anything else you'd like to add?

Yee-haw, y’all!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Where is YOUR BH flair??

by Jessica Burko of Reclaimed To You

The members of Boston Handmade love sharing the joy of creativity with everyone they meet.

I have seen Boston Handmade members showing strangers on the street how to 'cast-off' a knitting project, and telling anyone who asks where the best supply resources can be found, and what books and websites they have found most inspirational. If it's about art, craft or design, consider us all ears.

One method that sparks such conversations is when a passer-by asks "What's Boston Handmade?" after seeing one of our pin-back buttons, stickers, postcards, or business cards which we distribute at shows and events.

The other day I wondered where Boston Handmade flair gets displayed, and I collected a few photos showing exactly that. Diane of Lady Dye has a BH sticker on her water bottle, Laura of Pansy Maiden showed me a BH button as part of gift wrapping, Nancy of Nancyrosetta keeps her BH business cards in a handmade card case inside her Pansy Maiden bag, and I snapped a photo of a few BH pin-back buttons on my scarf made by fiber artist Jeung-Hwa Park. I'd love to see where YOU have your BH flair! Please post links to pics in the comments of this post, and keep an eye out for new Boston Handmade give-aways to all of our friends and fans in 2011!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Secret Messages

by Liz of Lush Beads

Art has many layers. The colors, the subject, the texture, the way it was created, and so many more. One of my favorites is the idea of a "secret message". It could be something as simple as a symbol that appears in every piece that a particular artist creates. It might be an in-joke that only a select few will understand. Or it could be something obvious that people don't notice right away, like words on a page.

Jessica Burko of Reclaimed To You shared with me some work she has done that includes secret messages.

Jessica says:
I have a series of altered books, called 'Love Story' that feature pages from romance novels...each piece uses select pages from vintage romance novels as the backdrop for transferred photographs of suburban houses. The narrative of each piece focuses on imagining 1950's housewives losing themselves in the pages of the novels and being swept up into the landscape of the imagined romance. To feel the full impact of each piece the viewer needs to really look closely, and read the words laid out on the canvas.
I have also created some work that involves a secret message. It is called the Secret Message necklace, and it is part of my Industrial series of jewelry that I started last year.

My first necklace is titled Love. I use pieces of hardware to represent dots and dashes, and I spell out words using Morse code. To the casual observer, the piece looks like an asymmetric and funky design. To the receiver, it also has a cherished message from a loved one.

Does your work hold any secret messages? I'd love to hear your story!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Wedding Day Handmade Touches

By Jennifer Tang of MaJenta Designs

Back in August I wrote a blog post about the bonding time spent with my fiance, family, and friends, as we worked together to add some handmade and personal touches to make our wedding day all the more special. Here is a glimpse of the final products in action on the big day!

Here are our program fans! Ready to serve double purposes during our outdoor wedding on a warm summer day!

The antique music sheet cones we made to hold the rose petals to toss after the ceremony.

The gift tins as our wedding favors to add a bit of my MaJenta Designs flair, as well as the handmade butterfly seating cards at each seat. We also assembled our own floral centerpieces.

Inside each tin were 2 magnets, also made with my Japanese papers, and our personalized labels to remember the special day!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Monday Mosaic - Pretty in Pink

1. Chubby Bunny on Pink Keychain or Bottle Opener by MaJenta Designs
2. Handmade Scarf by Stray Notions
3. Vintage Inspired Spun Cotton Flamingo by Vintage by Crystal
4. Heart Opening 8x8 Print by Art Asana
5. Shades of Pink Wishbone Hand Embroidered Necklace by The Merriweather Council
6. Pink Ostrich Coptic Journal by White Sparrow Bindery

Sunday, January 23, 2011

My Favorite Up-cycled Accessories

By Amy of Bumble Belly Designs

It's wonderful doing shows, especially around the holidays. You get a sneak peak before the show opens and can do some really great shopping. Two years ago, I was beside the ladies from Look At Me Designs and I spent some of my earnings on this fabulous hat!

Look At Me Designs up-cycles sweaters and other recycled materials to create one-of-a-kind pieces.

This past fall at SOWA, I didn't dress appropriately for the weather (a fog rolled in and it was damp and chilly) I went over to see Tiffany and Melanie, again, and they let me borrow a scarf for the day. Well I fell in love and bought it. It's my "go to" scarf whenever I go out in the cold.

Their pieces are beautiful and a conversation starter. It's amazing what an old sweater can become!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Color Index, a nifty little tool

by Kerry Hawkins of Khawkinsphoto

Color Index by Jim Krause.

I love this tool for picking colors that go well together. The book suggests color combinations for two, three, and four color palettes. The combinations run the gamut from modern, art deco, intense, muted, earth tones, etc... There is also a section showing colors and how they look with black and grays. I am also, a graphic designer and this is a wonderful resource for color ideas for designing everything from brochures to logos. The book provides you with CMYK and RGB Formulas for print or web design.

I think the book is also a good tool when you are putting together just about any type of project, from paper collages to sewing. When you are stuck on color choice, it is great for a little help.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Knitwear on a Snowy Day

by Jessica Burko of Reclaimed To You

The snow is falling once again in Boston with the prediction of 8-10 inches in our neighborhood. With the bright reflection from the white snow and a few curtains pushes aside, I made myself a daylight photography studio in the bedroom and took a few pictures of my newly finished knitwear.
I hope to put these handknit accessories into my Etsy shop in the next day or so. They are each made from found yarn and will definitely keep your neck warm on a cold winter day.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

I Will Learn To Knit This Year

by Karen Mahoney of City by the Sea Ceramics

In addition to my numerous professional goals I made for myself this year, I also made a goal to learn how to knit. Why did I suddenly decide I'm going to learn how to knit? You know how some people see babies and just gasp because their cuteness is just too much to contain? I'm like that with llamas. I freaking LOVE llamas. They are just too adorable and I want to go give them a hug on their silly looking necks. After seeing BH'ers Diane post about seeing a llama at a wool festival and Beth post about buying some llama wool, I made a vow to get some llama yarn and make a scarf. Not the conventional pull towards knitting, but I'm drawn none the less.

When I was still pretty young my mom showed me a few things about knitting and helped me start a scarf. I'm not sure if it was a general adolescent boredom or the handmade bug hadn't hit me yet, but I didn't remember what she had showed me and the scarf was never finished. A few years after that she gave me a beginners knitting kit for Christmas. It was for a purple and pink striped shoulder bag. I never started it, but I did save it, carrying it with me for that last 10 or so years, moving it from closet to closet, apartment to apartment, state to state.

The kit's day has come! I will learn how to knit and I will learn with my shoulder bag kit. It has a DVD included so I hope to be able to take the skills it shows me and combine it with some advice from the friendly knitters in Boston Handmade, some tidbits from some library books, and knit myself one awesome llama scarf. I will keep you posted on my projects!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Very Handmade Toys

by Jessica Burko of Reclaimed to You

We feel so lucky in our family to be surrounded by many talented artists and craftspeople that we count as friends, work with as colleagues, and even have as family members. My husband and I have designed and created many of the items, furniture and art in our home, and as we watch our 16-month old son Zachary play and explore, it seems that we have already influenced him to appreciate handcraft over mass-produced.
Some of our son's favorite toys are hand-knit by my knitting group friends represented by "Rasta" and Elephant above. He also loves the wooden toys we've given him made by former Boston Handmade member, Tactile Baby, and naptime and bedtime would not be complete without Eugene the sock monkey made by Monkey Shine Studio, and the hand-knit crib blanket that I made for him. However, even with this high quality selection of playthings, Zachary also seems to have a great appreciation for the very handmade "garbage toys" that are in his toy box.
In my artwork and craftwork I upcycle, recycle, and reuse many found materials so it seemed only natural that I show Zachary how to do the same, and I have to laugh every time he chooses to play with one of these over a fancy plastic toy with lights and buttons. Together we made a rattle toy from a water bottle, a few corks, and a handful of almonds. He loves the varied sounds the bottle makes when he shakes it. Then one day as I put an empty tissue box on the floor I was delighted to see Zachary fill it with blocks and squeal as he shook the box, pulled all the blocks out again, and put other small toys inside. These tissue box toys are endless hours of fun, recycleable, and replaceable.
The first of these toys I made for him was from an empty oatmeal container. Inside the container is a large jingle ball kept from embellished holiday gift wrapping I once received, and the top and bottom of the container is sealed with packing tape. It isn't pretty, but it works really well as a rolling musical toy and as a stand-up drum.Reinforcing our very handmade toy making are our son's wonderful daycare teachers. At daycare Zachary does many art projects with cardboard saved from cereal boxes like the beautiful happy birthday airplane he brought home as a gift from all his little pals. Being creative comes in many shapes and forms, does not have to cost a lot of money, and is always a good time. I can't wait to see what Zachary creates as he continues to grow.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Snow Day

Once again, Boston is being buried in snow! As New Englanders, we are accustomed to such winter weather but it's always still a bit of a thrill when I peek outside in the morning and see it coming down. Here are some photos that BHers have taken documenting the snow accumulation we've had this year:

Monday, January 17, 2011

Monday Mosaic - Valentine's Day

1. Red Leather Journal with Snaps by White Sparrow Bindery
2. Retro Valentine's Day Patchwork 5 inch Wooden Hoop by The Merriweather Council
3. Square Heart Pendant by Nancy Rosetta
4. Heart Felt Valentine Card by Cozy Cottage Creations
5. Reversible Jumper Pinafore in Red by All the Numbers
6. Spun Cotton Vintage Style Valentine's Day Children in Love Box by Vintage By Crystal

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Inspiration Places Around the Web

By Danielle of The Merriweather Council

Besides the usual cruising of Etsy and visiting my favorite shops, I have a few other daily stops where I get my creative wheels turning and start to feel inspired.

banner flag pendant by mujoyas

My number one place to find inspiration online is We Love Indie, which catalogues posts from art, design, and lifestyle blogs in one place, you can either click through to the "source" of the images on the home page or just browse. It's also a great way to find new blogs to follow. There is always something new to look at and it's updated frequently. There are tabs on top to narrow the categories as well!

Paper n Stitch is also full of great inspiration. There are two pages for Paper n Stitch, the Boutique and the Blog. The boutique is a collection of featured exhibitors, and is basically a shopping page, while the Blog highlights some of these sellers and their work, and provides useful tips, tricks and ideas for makers, artists and designers.

There are tons of beautiful blogs out there, I find this one, All the Mountains, to be very simple, easy and full of wonderful things including fine art, sculpture, craft, and photography.

For friendly pick-me-ups, isight and a fresh burst of color, I like Heartmade Blog, run by a wonderful lady named Mayi Carles. She posts great handmade finds, interviews with makers, and business tips as well.

I also like to save images from these and other places to a folder on my computer to look at when I need some quick inspiration or a little burst of happiness.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Food and My Wide Angle Lens

by Kerry Hawkins of Khawkinsphoto

With the weather being so cold and snowy I have started to taking more photographs indoors. Much warmer and a fun challenge to find new subjects to photograph. I have been taking quite a few food related photos. My husband loves to cook and I like to eat so, why not document it all. I have decided to put my wide angle lens to work.

Last year, I bought the Nikkor 35mm lens. This is a lightweight lens that is great with lower light conditions. I also, like the narrow focus, with the background being out of focus. The soft look of the backgrounds is also another thing that attracted me to this lens. I took me a little while to get used to the lens and what made for a good photo. I eventually got the hang of it. This lens is also good for portraits, travel and nature shots. Although, I am having the most fun with the food shots.

These are some posts where I have used the lens, here, here and here

Friday, January 14, 2011

2010: A Year In Review

by Jessica Burko of Reclaimed To You

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's 2010 flashing like a speeding bullet before my eyes aaaannnnd, now it's gone. Wow. That was some year. Boston Handmade and our dedicated group members did some amazing things last year. Achievements abounded, creativity conquered, and handmade exuberance triumphed over factory-made dreck. Really. It did.

Together as a group Boston Handmade participated in five craft shows in 2010: our 3rd annual Somerville Marketplace in July, JP First Thursdays Artisan Fair in August, in October we had our 4th appearance at the SoWa Open Market as an invited guest, and in December we had our 2nd annual show within a show at the Boston Bazaar Bizarre and we represented as a group at the JP Holiday Show.

The holiday season wouldn't be complete without our Boston Handmade Holiday Gallery which we produced for the 3rd year in a row from Black Friday through Christmas Eve. The annual pop-up gallery has become an old favorite amongst the residents and workers in Boston's Downtown Crossing Neighborhood, and we were delighted to set-up shop once again in our old haunt.

Throughout the year we held 15 social and networking events for our membership including a screening of Handmade Nation, our annual summer BBQ, and an opening celebration for Cristina Hurley's jewelry gallery in Canton, MA.

In 2010 Boston Handmade members led five skill-share workshops: Writing For Artists, Needle Felting, a Business Expansion Discussion and Seminar, Hand Building in Ceramics, and a Photowalk led by Kerry of K. Hawkins Photography. These workshops are opportunities for group members to share their knowledge with one another at little or no cost. The idea is: I'll teach you something, and then you can teach me something. Each year these workshops are highlights of our internal group event calendar.

In addition to exciting events and news from the overall group, there were also many wonderful achievements made by our individual members in 2010...

Liz Stewart of Lush Beads created a new jewelry line in 2010. Of this new work Liz says, "I take unused hardware and re-purpose it into funky unisex jewelry."

One of Boston Handmade's newest members, Eliza Tobin of Art Asana, participated as an exhibitor in her first ever craft show, the Bazaar Bizarre, in December 2010.

Arthur Halvorsen was published in the November/December 2010 issue of Pottery Making Illustrated.

Kerry Hawkins of K. Hawkins Photography had a solo show at the West Roxbury Public Library called "From the Neighborhood" and exhibited her work in a month-long show at Nest in Dedham Square, MA

Karen Mahoney of City by the Sea Ceramics was invited to take part in an exhibition in February 2010 at the Gorse Mill Studios to compliment the book, Mastering Raku. Of her participation Karen says, "The book was published in November 2009 and I had a vase in the book and the exhibit. It was the first major exhibition of raku ceramics in the Eastern United States. Many significant ceramic artists took part."

We are also very proud to say that we had not one member of Boston Handmade appear as a guest on the Martha Stewart Show but we had TWO members appear on the nationally broadcast Martha Stewart Show in 2010...

Sharon Fischer of Stray Notions says, "My biggest achievement in 2010 was being invited to be a guest on the Martha Stewart Show." Sharon's appearance was in January 2010.

Crystal Hanehan of Vintage by Crystal made her second appearance on the Martha Stewart Show in March and was surprised after her craft demo segment by her boyfriend with a very public marriage proposal, "It was the surprise of a lifetime!"

Many amazing things have transpired in the life of Boston Handmade since the group began in 2007, and the wonders continue to multiply. The future of Boston Handmade is very exciting as we expand our mission to reach the wider community of artists and craftspeople in the Greater Boston area. We have plans to make new connections and develop ways to help our fellow creative professionals make a living doing what they love. Stay tuned to this blog for more news on our exciting journey as the story unfolds.

From the bottom of my heart I thank all of our loyal readers, followers, fans, collectors, and friends, for helping us achieve our dreams.

Jessica Burko
Founder and Coordinator, Boston Handmade
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