Thursday, June 30, 2011

Understanding Patterns

By Beth of Elizabeth Brennick Designs

We all had a blast and learned a lot this past weekend at my Boston Handmade sewing workshop. I had the ladies pick any pattern they want and went through how to read it, purchase the materials you need to make the project, and then sew it all together. Projects ranged from a tote bag, kids pants, a dress, and adding zippers to bags.

It's really difficult to read a pattern and understand the language. The notions section is where they list things like zippers, bias tape, interface, snaps, etc.. If you're sewing for the first time you may have no clue what some of these items are. In addition materials like interface come in a bunch of differnet types so it can be tough to know which one is right for your project. I hope I helped especially in these areas. If anyone ever has any questions you can always contact me for help!

Even if this isn't something you can see yourself having as a small business just having the skills I think is so very important. When you can make home decorations instead of going to a store and buying them, making gifts for family and friends, or even making your own clothing is so self satisfying.

Thank you ladies for taking my class. It was so much fun not only teaching you but also hanging out is always a blast here at Boston Handmade. Thank you Annissa Essaibi George of The Stitch House for letting us have this workshop. She has a wonderful store filled with goodies and if you are in the area or want to take a trip I highly recommend you visiting the Stitch House. A huge thank you to Kerry Hawkins of Kerry Hawkins Photography for taking all of these photos for me.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Vendor Client Relationship

by Lucie of Lucie Wicker Photography

I am currently in school and recently finished a marketing & business class (whew, intense!). My teacher showed us this video and as a creative professional/small business owner, it really hit home. We were all smiling, rolling our eyes, and saying, "I know, right?!" I thought I'd share it here, enjoy!

Do any of these scenarios look familiar to you?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My First Knitting Project

by Karen Mahoney of City by the Sea Ceramics

You may remember back in January I had posted about my resolution to learn to knit this year, beginning with a starter kit my mom had given me years ago. I am happy to report the first project is finished!
Through the process I would learn that this project was doomed from the beginning. The kit included size 6 needles and chenille yarn, which any knitter will tell you could only be given to a beginner by a complete yahoo. Also, the kit's picture of the bag had been lost over the years, so I only had a memory to follow along with the pattern. So it began. My journey with this bag began by watching a DVD that came with the beginner's kit. I watched how to cast on maybe 20 times in a row until I understood. Then I did the same with a knit stitch. While I was able to figure it out enough to work on the project, my tension was tight to say the least. My finger tips were even sore from pushing the needles through the yarn loops. I could tell the yarn that came with the kit wasn't a good choice. Between that and my beginner's tension I wasn't able to identify a single stitch.

A week or so later I saw Lynne from Boston Handmade at West Medford Open Studios. She was working on a project and showed me how to knit and purl. Wow! Larger needles and nicer yarn really made all the difference!
I grabbed myself some beautiful yarn and a scarf pattern and got started on my next project before the first was done. I didn't have it in me to go back to the bag of frustration when I had such nice yarn in front of me, so I started on the new scarf pattern. I still had tension issues (even snapped a needle tip!), but I was getting better and more consistent. I got about 1500 stitches in, made a mistake somewhere, didn't know what to do, took all the stitches out, and started back from square one. And then again I got about 1500 stitches in and made another mistake without knowing what went wrong or how to fix it. I decided I needed a break and went back to finishing the bag.

Boy, did my tension issues get worked out between the front and back piece of the bag! The second was about 2" wider! I knew that when I did it, but decided to go with it, knowing that the piece was already plagued by other problems from learning. I didn't mind at all having a piece to say it was my first, to have something to look back at to see how far I've come. Clearly my kit issues didn't allow me to be a perfectionist as I learned, and I was okay with that.

I decided I was going to make some adjustments on the bag since I had lots of extra yarn to work with. I added a flap cover to the bag by knitting an extra series of stripes on the bag piece of the bag. Since I did that I decided to add a button closure as well. I adjusted the strap from the pattern, making it a bit wider and a bit longer.

There are many mistakes throughout, but I really like my bag and I'm proud of it. For as many things as I wasn't able to learn because I can't see the individual stitches, I learned just as many from working my way through the project. I'm going to head back to the scarf now that the beginner's bag is done, and that Diane helped me with the mistake when I saw her at the Bazaar Bizarre Union Made show. I'll keep you guys up to date on that project and other ones I plan to get started.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Couple of Recent Commissions

by Nancy of nancyrosetta

Recently, I have been getting more and more commissions, so I thought I would share a couple of recent ones with you all.

This commission was for 6 charms with the phrase 'sole sister' accross the bottom and the date of the '11 Boston Marathon on the back. On the front is also NYC over BOS. The significance, is that the runners 5 friends supported her at both the NYC marathon last year, and the Boston marathon this year. She wanted something that would combine both races, but focus mainly on the Boston marathon (why we used the date). I'm not usually a metal stamper, but I did have the appropriately sized letters and numbers, so I thought I'd give it a go. I thought they came out good, and the runner thought they came out wonderfully! :) The picture has 5 of the charms facing front and one facing back. They all have that date stamped on the back. It's really sweet that she wanted something special to present to her friends for their support.
During the Dedham Open Studios in May, a woman came to my table three separate times. She kept looking at my pendants and each time she came back, we talked about them, especially the ones that look like pictures. I gave her the scoop about how I make them. How all the little pieces are cut out, how I make my wire rivets, how I piece them's always fun to talk about the process. Anyhoo...a week went by and she emailed me that she wanted to buy a Happy House pendant, but a much smaller version. I told her that since I would have to make that up special anyway, we should personalize it in any way that she wanted. She decided on having 11:11 on the back with a small heart above the colon. I don't know the significance of that, but I told her I could do it. So I did it, and she loves it!
This is smaller than a quarter. I loved making it.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Some of my FAVES!

By Arthur of Arthur Halvorsen Ceramics

I just wanted to take a minute and share some of my favorite items I have seen listed around etsy.

This t-shirt from ceramic artist Ayumi Horie is to die for! I have one myself and I think a moth got to it and so it's gonna be time to replace it soon! Its a collaboration with fellow ceramic artist Mikey Walsh. See clay people don't just use clay to get their point across.

Another ceramic artist that doesn't do just clay is Nathan Murrell from Hijacked Ceramics. I have wanted one of these for a long time now! I think they would look great hanging on any wall in my house and not to mention that I have a love affair with birds as well.

Last but not least are the greeting cards by Christopher Laris in his shop heysailor. I bought one of these greeting card last year for my Dad's birthday, and his reaction was priceless! SO many quality reactions to be had. I mean the Barbies from the early day when they first came out seen today have a little bit of a metrosexual or gay edge to them, something your gay best friend would love I'm sure!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Craft and Folk Art Museum, Los Angeles

By Merritt of Not Without Merit

I was in Claremont, California this past weekend to attend my father’s retirement party. On Sunday we decided to head into LA and while searching for museums around The Stinking Rose (a friend has been pestering me for years about going there while I am out visiting family), I came across the Craft and Folk Art Museum.

The exterior of the building does not look like a traditional museum, but then again, what museum does nowadays, anyway. When you enter the front door, to the right is the lovely gift shop, and to the left is the front desk. After we paid the $7 for my adult ticket, and $5 for each of my senior parents, we headed upstairs to the third floor for the Ann Weber exhibit.

Ann Weber makes amazing large-scale sculptures out of discarded cardboard and staples. From a distance they appear to be wicker or rattan, but upon closer inspection they are in fact cardboard cut into strips and then made into rounded almost alien-like forms. Some of the sculptures are the normal brown cardboard, but others feature patterns that were originally on boxes that she collected.

We then headed downstairs to the Jennifer Angus: All Creatures Great and Small Exhibit. WOW! This could be one of my all-time favorite exhibits (and I am a HUGE museum nerd). Je

nnifer creates installation pieces that incorporate insects used in traditional methods of decorating Victorian-era homes.

This is a great video of Jennifer talking about her work, but here is the description of the exhibit from the website: “Naturally electric blue, emerald green, pink, purple and red insects coalesce on the walls to create an immersive Victorian-era room that recalls an age of excitement, exploration and scientific discovery. Complementary small-scale dollhouses covered in beeswax are home to anthropomorphized insects that provoke viewers to revisit their own relationship with the eco-system.

For Angus, pattern is associated more with meaning than decoration. Her works call to mind themes of death, cultural association and ideas about collection.”

I was only able to take one photo on my phone, that really does not do her work justice, so I took to google and swiped some images from there:

My parents and I spent a good hour just walking around each piece saying “Wow! Did you see this beetle?” “Hey! Did you see this roach in front of the mirror?” “What about this bed-bug?!” That was my dad’s favorite—it was a bug lying in its own bed—he loves puns. The sheets on the bed even had ants woven in the pattern. She had beeswax flowers all around half-globes on the walls that had imaginary bugs (put together by the artist using different pieces from different insects to create fantastical creatures), all the while beetles were lining the walls as chair rail and some sort of grass-eating insect was used as wainscoting.

It was very obvious (in a good way) that the curators of this museum were cognizant of the Tim Burton Exhibition just up at LACMA. These two exhibits were totally inline, and complimentary of what was going on down the street without seeming to want to copy or cling on to the Burton show. I truly hope that at some point we in Boston are lucky enough to see some of Jennifer Angus’s work here!

I went to Youtube to find some help conveying her amazing work, and found some great videos here, here, and here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

New Tool Review : Knew Concept Saw Frame

by Nancy of nancyrosetta

Last Christmas, I asked for this saw frame from Knew Concepts, and I got it from Santa (ok, Scott) I have been using it ever since, and I thought I would write a review about it.

Firstly, here is a picture of the frames I have been using for years. Very generic, 5" throat and 3" throat.

I wanted to try the Knew Concept saw frame mostly because I do break a lot of blades and the company claims that by using their frames, you will break less blades. This claim is spot on.

This saw frame, at first, was a bit intimidating. It looks like something from outer space. I got a 5" frame which is much larger than the 5" frame I am used to using. The way I saw and pierce is very fluid, so it was inevitable that I would bump into bench related things as I was first getting used to using it, because it's so much bigger (if you can imagine a saw pumping up and down and turning constantly). I almost gave up and went back to my tried and true, but I persevered.

The Knew Concept saw frame is made of lightweight aluminum which resists bending and warping and is only a few ounces.The weight (or lack of) also took some getting used to. The way it first felt in my hand almost defied gravity. I was afraid I would break it! But much to the contrary, I have not yet broken a blade while using it, and I have been using it since January. It feels good to throw a saw blade away because it's dull (not because it broke) I also have less arm strain after a long sawing/piercing session...bonus!

Another reason this frame took so long to get used to using is the tension setting spring. Tension of the saw blade is of utmost importance if you don't want to constantly break blades. Traditional saw frames take brutal human force to achieve the ping of a high E guitar string. My new frame has a knob to tighten the tension (missing out on some exercise there). There is a trial and error period to figure out the right combination of tightening the knob and lowering the 'top of the blade' holder, which bizarrely are the same motion. But I've figured it out, so I'm happy.

The key to smooth sawing and piercing is letting the saw do the work while you guide it along. This saw frame is perfect if you can 'let go' like that. After an initial 'break in' period (mine was about 2 months) this could end up being your favorite saw frame. It is my favorite saw frame now. I really love it, and I also love the fact that it saves me hoards of broken saw blades.

If you are a jewelry maker and have a need for a new jewelers saw, I would recommend getting this one. It is more expensive than traditional saw frames, but you will save money in the long run (on blades). After getting used to it, you will love it!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

New Items and inspiration

by Sharon Fischer of Stray Notions

I've been studying traditional Japanese embroidery for almost one year now. In another post I likened this system of formal study to Karate with specific skills required, although no actual belts are awarded. Sometime over the winter I completed Level 1 (white belt) and began a combined Level 2-3 piece which I worked on in a class setting in May. As someone who has done a fair amount of embroidery Level 1 seemed relatively easy but this piece represents a huge leap in the number and difficulty of the techniques to learn. What you see below is what I've managed to complete since February! I took the opportunity to use adaptations of some of these new techniques and materials (gold thread!) to create a few small "inspired by" pieces.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

An Interview with Riv of Purpleshiny Creations

By Riv of Purpleshiny Creations

BH: Tell us about yourself.

Riv: Hi! My “real name” is Christina Hawkes, but I prefer to go by my nickname: Riv. I'm a purple-haired MIT grad (class of '07) who's a software engineer by day and a metalsmith in my evenings and weekends. Growing up, my family lived in a bunch of places in the western US (my dad works for the US Forest Service). Now I live in Inman Square in Cambridge with my partner, in a huge Victorian house that's been turned into a 6-person co-op.

BH: How long have you been doing your artwork/craft? Assembled workspace!
Riv: I'm one of those people who's been doing some kind of craft my whole life—but I really started exploring jewelry seriously in 2008, and I took a metalsmithing class at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education in the summer of 2009. Soon after that, I spent some months renting bench space and getting advice and help from John Lerner in Joy Street Studios. Then in the spring of 2010, I set up my own workspace in my basement!

Some of my metalworking toolsBH: Please describe your creative process (how, when, materials, etc). Riv: I make jewelry in evenings and weekends, but the process starts long before I get to my basement studio. I always have a notebook at hand, and I fill its pages with sketches, bits of stories, musings on ways to put things together, and abstract scribbles. By the time I head downstairs, I'll have a detailed plan for my next project. Then, I use hammers, torches, power tools, oxidizing chemicals, and other fun things! I work with a mix of copper and sterling silver, and I love to incorporate both conventional gemstones and unorthodox objects like watch parts and insect wings.

BH: What do you love most about what you make?
Riv: I love holding something I've just made and imagining that it came from another world. That it was once the medallion given to a swordmaiden after battle, a totem of a leader of an imaginary village, or a relic of a nearly-forgotten saint. Tracing my hands across the rough and smooth edges, tilting it to catch the light. Metalsmithing creates objects that feel so very solid and real to me, and that's what makes me incredibly proud of the things I make.

BH: What's your most interesting fair/show experience?
Riv: When I was just starting to wire-wrap watch parts into jewelry, a friend who lives in a crazy warehouse collective in California was having an underground craft market. So I shipped my jewelry across the country in a Priority Mail box, and with the help of a friend who lived in the neighborhood, I vended via webcam! It was a pretty strange but fun experiment—and it really made me value the immediacy and clarity of talking to people in person when I went on to vend in more local shows. When I vended at International Steampunk City in May, I set up a demo outside and got to talk to all the passersby as I worked on an ancient-looking steampunk pendant!

BH: Read any good books lately?
Riv: I'm in the middle of The Solitudes, by John Crowley, and it's fairly dense but really amazing. It's all about histories within histories and worlds within worlds within worlds.

BH: Where do you see yourself in 5 years with your art?
Riv: I'm currently shifting towards using more of my own worldbuilding and storytelling in the artifacts I make. This feels really good to me, and I'm hoping that in 5 years I'll have made some thorough explorations of original fictional worlds via my art. I'll also have grown my metalsmithing skills, I'm sure! There are so many techniques I can't wait to learn. And while I'm semi-seriously dreaming, in the next 5 years I hope I'll build a small, glowing community of people who love thinking about traveling to imaginary places.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

South Shore Arts Festival

Photo by Steven Borack

There are art and craft events all over Massachusetts this weekend including the 2011 South Shore Art Center Arts Festival in today and tomorrow on Historic Cohasset Common
(Saturday, 10 am – 7 pm, Sunday, Noon – 5 pm

The Arts Festival features over 80 juried craft and fine art exhibitors, artist demonstrations, music, art exhibitions, children's activities and more! Please take advantage of a free trolley shuttle (handicapped accessible) from Sohier Street lots in Cohasset.

Be sure to check out the Jazz Reception Saturday evening, June 18th at 5:30 at the Art Center. The evening will include a silent auction. Jazz reception tickets are $45. The silent auction will close on Sunday, June 19 at 3pm.

For full festival information visit:

Friday, June 17, 2011

2011 Boston Bazaar Bizarre Union Made Show

By Diane of Lady Dye Fiber Arts & Design

Come join Boston Handmade members for the 2011 Boston Bazaar Bizarre Union Made Show at Union Square in Somerville. The fair is open to the public this Sunday, June 19th, from 12:00-6:00 pm. As the weather gets warm and school gets out next week, come join us for a showcase of crafts, music, demos and more.

Here are the Boston Handmade members who will be participating in the show. We hope to see you all there!

Lilies Hokusai Handpainted Ceramic Tray

Cody's Creations
The black and red Sugar Skulls ribbon

St. Patty's

Thursday, June 16, 2011

An Interview with Celeste of ElephunksTrunk

by Celeste of ElephunksTrunk

BH: Tell us a little about yourself.

ElephunksTrunk: My name is Celeste and I currently live in Somerville with my husband, our brand new baby boy (born June 5!) and our two cats. Before moving to Massachusetts last year, I lived in Atlanta where I was working on a PhD in Women's Studies. About half way through the program I realized I didn't want to be an academic, so I left graduate school and moved up north. I grew up in Ohio, so I feel more at home up here. I tend to be interested in everything, which is one reason I didn't finish the PhD—I can't stay focused on one project long enough! I have a BA in Anthropology and Religious Studies and an MA in South Asian Studies. I used to speak Bengali halfway decently but I fear I have now forgotten most of it. I like to play board games and think five miles is within reasonable walking distance.

BH: How long have you been making hats?

ElephunksTrunk: I started making hats about three years ago when I was preparing for my wedding. I wanted a crazy cocktail hat and I couldn't find one that seemed just right, so I decided to make my own. I consider it a natural outgrowth of the years I spent making crazy hats out of plaster for Halloween (I love costuming) combined with my ridiculously tiny head. Finding store bought hats that fit me has always been a challenge, so learning to make my own seemed to be the best answer.

BH: Please describe your creative process.

ElephunksTrunk: I'm not sure that I have one creative process. Sometimes I get all technical with graph paper and math to make patterns and sometimes I'm much more organic with my work—draping and pinning and making things up as I go along. To be honest, that is my favorite way to work, but it does make pieces difficult to replicate. I like making one of a kind pieces, but I also recognize the importance of having a more everyday wear kind of line. I love working with bright colors, outrageous feathers, and taking about old clothes to turn them into fun new hats.

BH: Are there other mediums you are not working in that interest you?

ElephunksTrunk: Pretty much all of them! I'm interested in just about everything, remember? I used to do a lot of drawing and painting, and I'd love to find the time to get back into that. Whenever I see something handmade, my first thought is “I bet I could learn how to do that!” which might be true if I had unlimited time and resources. I've toyed around with spinning yarn and would love to get a spinning wheel. I'd like to learn how to make pottery and how to make sterling silver jewelry.

BH: Why should people buy handmade?

ElephunksTrunk: There are a million great reasons to buy handmade! For one thing, when you buy handmade you get something truly unique. Even when an artist makes multiples of an item or offers things in limited edition series, chances are none of your friends have one just like it. More importantly, buying handmade is one way to practice a more ethical consumerism—it cuts out the sweatshops, the waste inherent in factory production, and supports artists and crafts people making a living with their skills.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Neon, NYC

By Kerry of Kerry Hawkins Photography

I love walking city streets and photographing buildings and neighborhoods. I am especially attracted to old neon signs. I was lucky and had a weekend trip to New York. I love that every time I visit, I find something new. I stayed near Times Square on this trip. As many of you know, there is no lack of signs, lights and glitz in Times Square. I did venture out to other parts of the city and sought out old neon. There were so many signs to photograph, I was in heaven.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

New Work

By Danielle of The Merriweather Council

As we all know, my favorite compositions happen in circles and so I've been working on a bunch of new necklaces in circle pendants to add to my collection of oval necklaces.

Circle necklaces will be in my shop soon! Circle and oval pendant necklaces are also en route to a consignment gig in Chicago - look for them at Sacred Art if you are in the area!

Maybe I'm a little early, but I have also started to collect Christmas fabrics for making hoop ornaments and other seasonal decorations for the holidays!

I've added a couple Christmas hoops to my shop already and will be adding more in the coming weeks/months.

Lastly, I've also been brewing up some Halloween decorations in hoops!

I'll have all of this new stuff and more with me at Union Made on Sunday so come visit!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

An Interview with Kerrie of Cody's Creations

by Kerrie of Cody's Creations

Boston Handmade: Tell us a bit about yourself
Cody's Creations: Hi, I am Kerrie Beck, the person behind Cody’s Creations. My home studio is located in Natick and is often inhabited by my brood of three rescued beagle mixes.

BH: How long have you been doing your artwork/craft?
CC: I have been making pet accessories for 5-6 years. I started to think about starting a business when my home become overrun with collars – to this date my pups have an impressive collection of collars/leashes.

BH: What's your favorite color?
CC: I love purple (if you ever see Cody’s Creations at an event, that will be evident! ) I try my best not to let my favorite colors overrule my ribbon/fabric selection. I unfortunately cannot control the fact that I am attracted to skulls and cupcakes, so you will tend to see a plethora of both.

BH: What are your favorite materials?
CC: Ribbons and fabric – I have a slight obsession. Though my obsession gives lots of choice.

BH: What inspires you? Where do your ideas come from?
CC: Necessity. Items like the Treat Pocket and Leash Pouch I created out of necessity for an item that was functional and something that I would want to use and be seen using in public.

BH: Describe your work.
CC: Handmade pet accessories with a bit of an edge.

BH: Are there other mediums you’re not working in that interest you?
CC: I would love to work with leather and add a line of leather collars.

BH: Any tips on selling handmade stuff?
CC: Passion is contagious, if you are passionate about your craft others will pick up on that passion when you are talking to them. In turn, when they are talking about your art/you they will relay that passion and enthusiasm.

BH: How do you promote your work?
CC: Facebook, word of mouth, I try tweeting but I think I need a crash course. My customers are my greatest promoters and I am so thankful for them.

BH: How long have you been involved with Etsy and what have your experiences been?
CC: I have had an Etsy shop since November 2007. Etsy has been an amazing experience for me. There is a great community feel, sellers love to help other sellers, and the customers have been wonderul – many customers have turned into great friends.

BH: What advice would you give to artists who are new to Etsy?
CC: Selling on Etsy takes patience and a lot of hard work. Read the forums, join a team, learn how to take great pictures of your products, and don’t be afraid to redo your shop if it isn’t working. I often change pictures/descriptions if my shop seems like it is getting stale.

BH: Read any good books lately?
CC: I love to read, though lately I feel like I haven’t had too much time to do so. I recently discovered that listening to audio books (downloaded from the library onto my iPod- yes, the Natick Library rocks!!) is very good for productivity. I just finished the Nobodies Album and the Lock Artist. Two books I probably would not have picked up to read, but after listening to them I thoroughly enjoyed them.

BH: What’s your favorite way to spend a Sunday morning?
CC: I love taking road trips with my husband (depending on location and the pet friendliness we may have the three dogs) and exploring little seaside towns. And bonus, we typically can find a shop that sells wares from the local community so we do a little shopping.

BH: Is there anything about you that would surprise people to know?
CC: Until College, I was afraid of dogs!

BH: Where do you see yourself in 5 years with your art ?
CC: A collection that includes only Cody’s Creations designed ribbons and fabrics. I am slowly building towards that!

BH: In ten years I'd like to be...
CC: in my own little store front with my sewing machines set up on one side so customers can watch the process as they browse.

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