Sunday, March 31, 2013

Saturday, March 30, 2013

DIY Alert: How to make tent weights

by Karen Mahoney of City by the Sea Ceramics

**Alright guys, real talk. Let me plead with you for a moment about the importance of weights at shows. If you already understand this importance perhaps you can pass this along to a friend who doubts the unpredictable power of mother nature. It is incredibly important and necessary to properly weight your canopy tent for all outdoor shows. It doesn't matter how still you expect it to be, weight your tent. Very strong single gusts come out of nowhere at shows. It happens. Weather is unpredictable. To not prepare for this puts yourself and so much else at risk. The property and bodies of yourself, other vendors, shoppers, and organizers are all compromised if you ignore the possibility of disaster. While this may seem dramatic I have seen too many tents grow wings out of nowhere, too many events that don't enforce their own tent weight rules, and worse yet, too many vendors with no weights or inadequate ones. 10 pounds on each leg isn't going to do anything when your tent is ready to fly. For the sanity and safety of everyone, please properly weight your tent.** Thanks guys. I knew you'd understand. :D

Last summer I made some new weights for my tent out of PVC and I used these instructions I found. They were exactly what I was looking for, and the project was simple and cheap. They took about an hour to make and the weights are sturdy enough I don't expect to ever need new ones.

The hardest part of this project is lugging the bags of concrete so it helps if you've got a strong friend to assist you. I had help from the hardware store staff for both lifting the concrete in and out of my cart, and cutting my PVC pipe for me.

I opted for the flat plastic caps on the bottom of the weights so it can rest sturdily on the ground (the lower the weights are the more stable they are) and be bungee corded to the tent legs as well as the upper tent frame. You can see in the photo below the weight in the bottom left has two short bungees around it's body and the canopy leg. Each leg and weight also has a long yellow bungee that attaches at the hook on the weight's top to the upper frame of the tent. These weights have gotten me through some solid wind gusts at shows without anything budging.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Why Handmade: Factory Direct to You!

At Boston Handmade we do it by hand. "Why Handmade" is our new weekly blog column celebrating art and craft made by hand, the people behind all that is handmade, and the reasons we choose the handmade life. Please stay tuned on Fridays for insights into our handmade world.

by Lynn Mohney of Prunella's Workshop

Photo by Jessica Burko
We live in a world where we can obtain anything we want just by going to the store and purchasing it. We can guarantee the quality (or lack of quality) in each and every item in those stores. Better yet, we do not even need to leave our homes, as we can order what we want online, and a delivery truck will bring it to us. Manufacturers know exactly how long it takes to make each item, and can price accordingly. They also can cut corners so that they can reproduce even faster and cheaper.  I can guarantee that my purchase is exactly the same as yours. It is expedient and easy, with little to no effort on the part of the purchaser.

Photo by Dana Garczewski of The Patterned Peacock
So, Why Handmade?  It certainly does not save money or time. We all have busy lives with families and homes that require our care and attention. Yet, there are those of us who are inspired to avoid the hum drum of the factories and acquire our belongings from people who make things by hand. Then, of course, there are those who still make things by hand. Artisans, craftspeople, and artists are still inspired to use their hands to make the world a beautiful place. Instead of thousands of factory workers producing the same vanilla shirt repeatedly, just one craftsperson is sewing a one of a kind item with nothing but a sewing machine and their own two hands.

Photo by Kerry Hawkins of K. Hawkins Photography
There is pride in a piece of work that was completely created by your own two hands, or by an artisan whom you have had the opportunity to speak. There is respect for the labor and special skill required, whether it is making jewelry, printing, knitting or crocheting, creating beautiful colors, or any other handmade creation. There is love and passion in every detail of a handmade item one can never get from something made in a factory. 

Humans were meant to create things. We were given thumbs so that we could invent the wheel, build our homes, make clothing for protection from the elements, and to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling. We were given minds and hearts in need of expressing ourselves any way we can. There is no better way to express ourselves than through the beauty of something we made completely by hand.

Photo by Kerry Hawkins of K. Hawkins Photography

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Spring is in the Air!

by Cristina Hurley Cristina Hurley Jewelry Design

I had a very nice recent order for a birthday piece, and was compelled to make something inspired by the rebirth and renewal that we experience each Spring. This Winter has been a long one, the snow does not give up, but eventually, no matter what, Spring will come and nature will give us a show. I used to live in a country where it was hot and sunny all year round, but there was something about the seasons that made me want to relocate to New England permanently. The season I hold dearest is definitely Spring, there is so much life, color and beauty.

The plants, flowers and blooming trees attract a wide variety of birds and insects, and I chose the butterfly as my inspiration for this piece. I wanted it to be light and airy, but it also has a quiet strength in the solid silver wings. The chain is handmade with Pearls and Labradorite, a shimmery semi precious stone.

I kept the colors light to make the piece feel like it could flutter away... It was fun to design a piece for a celebration of birth, but also a celebration of rebirth, much like Spring, which comes every year and brings us all joy, like a birthday. You can find inspiration in almost anything, even in something small and simple like a butterfly.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Get Your Weekly Dose of Fresh Food & Local Art

by Bev Feldman of Linkouture

Last year my husband and I spent and incredible five months traveling around South America. Two of my favorite things to do were to visit the food markets to stock up on fresh produce (especially to sample some of the crazy fruits not found in Boston) and to shop for local crafts. Whatever town I was in, if I passed by a shop selling artesanĂ­as (crafts) I had to at least take a peek. I must have visited hundreds of little stores and craft markets in the time I was there.

Well, Massachusetts isn’t quite South America. For one thing, it snows. A lot. And it’s cold for a good chunk of the year. And while we do have an incredible offering of farmer’s markets and craft shows, things slow down considerably during the winter months.

But thankfully the Cambridge Winter Farmer’s Market is here to provide me with my much-needed weekly dose of fresh produce and locally-produced art. From January until April, every Saturday at the Cambridge Community Center you can stock up on New England-grown fruit, veggies, meat, cheese, honey...and even marshmallows! (Ok, so perhaps not everything is grown here, but you get the picture).

Photo courtesy of Cambridge Winter Farmer's Market
Photo courtesy of Cambridge Winter Farmer's Market
In addition to the food products, the Cambridge Winter Farmer’s Market offers entertainment and educational opportunities. From musical performances to learning how maple syrup is made, there is something for everyone. Additionally, you can find local handmade goods, including jewelry, photography, soaps, and bags.

This upcoming Saturday*, I will be there selling my modern chainmaille jewelry, along with two other artisans selling jewelry, air plants, and handcrafted sculptures.

So put on your snow boots or flip flops (this being New England, who knows what the weather will bring on Saturday) and come join me on Saturday for food, music, and handmade fun!

Where: Cambridge Community Center, 5 Callender St., Cambridge, MA  02140
When: Saturday, March 30, 2013
Why: Because you need your weekly dose of fresh produce and art

*Can’t make it this Saturday? The market will be going until April 27th, and I will be there selling my jewelry again on April 20.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Get to know new Boston Handmade Member: Lynn Mohney, co-owner of Prunella's Workshop

BH: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Lynn: My name is Lynn Mohney, of Prunella’s Workshop. We are a one and a half person business comprised of my husband, Duane, and I. I am a fulltime metal smith. Duane calls himself my minion, but he is the technical engineer/problem solver part of the business, when he is not at his full-time other job. Prunella’s Workshop is located in Leominster, MA, where I live with one husband, a near seven year-old boy, an 18 month old girl, and two cats. We create metal jewelry and clothing accessories based upon research of similar pieces from the medieval period.

I began to think of art as my vocation when I was in sixth grade.  As a result, I went to Assabet Regional Vocational High School, where I focused my studies on graphic design.  I then went to Notre Dame College (now defunct) where I obtained a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts and graphic design.  While there, I was trained in costume designing in addition to my studies, and eventually had the opportunity to design the costumes for an entire production.  I set out in the world thinking I would write and illustrate children’s books (a dream that is still alive and well but unfulfilled.)  Instead, I began a master’s degree is school psychological counseling, which was not completed because, as said in the jewelry world, I was distracted by something shiny.

BH:  Where did you get the name Prunella’s Workshop? 
Lynn:  This is a frequent question I am asked by my customers. Mostly it comes from my love of fairy tales, which is highly reflective in my work; however, I also named my business after my son. We have a family tradition of giving babies nicknames from fairy tales prior to being born.  Prunella was one of the Wicked Stepsisters in Cinderella, and seemed fitting.  The nickname was dropped upon birth, but lives on in my creations.

BH: When did you begin metal smithing?
Lynn: I took my first class at Metalwerx, in Waltham, MA in 2005, and I was immediately hooked.  Within two years, I decided I wanted this to be my vocation, and started Prunella’s Workshop.  However, it was not until August 2012 that I was able to resign from my 15 year-long office job to pursue my craft full time.

BH: What was the first thing you can remember making by hand?
Lynn: That would have to be dyed macaroni necklaces in the library when I was around three.  I come from a crafty family, so it is really hard to remember when I began doing art.  My grandmother was an artist, but her mother would not let her go to art school because it was not considered lady-like. My mother made all of my clothes until I hit that age where other kids made fun of you because your clothes did not have labels.  Which was a shame, because my clothes were nicer than theirs.  When I was six, I drew a portrait of my Mom for Mother’s Day, and it got in the newspaper.  It apparently looked so much like her, friends called to tell her. I remember later sewing costumes for all of my Barbie dolls so they could put on a production of Peter Pan. However, I actually remember making the macaroni necklace best!

BH:  Please describe your artistic process.
Lynn:  I often start by just drawing out ideas or having a picture in my head of something that has been inspiring me.  And then I make something else!  Seriously, I have as many drawings of jewelry I should make some day as I do actual completed work.  Every once in a while I actually make something I have drawn.  Yet just drawing out ideas clears the clutter in my head so I can get started.  Sometimes I start out just going through resource books and museum websites for inspiration.

I usually start with a sheet or wire of sterling silver or copper.  Sometimes the sheet is pierced into an intricate design, or receives a hammered texture.  The wire is usually twisted and soldered.  I do some stone setting, but my focus is on the way the metal moves and flows at my command.  When one first starts metal working it seems inconceivable that one could have any control over something so cold and hard; however, metal is incredibly malleable if you understand how to work it.  I love forming metal with hammers, and I will admit, there is a little pyro in me just waiting to get out and use my propane torch.

BH: Where do your ideas come from?
Lynn:  I am inspired by the medieval time period, with focus on the Italian Renaissance and the Elizabethan period.  My husband adds in his love for the ancient Vikings and the Celts.  All four show up in my work quite frequently.  I like to take it a step further than just jewelry or accessories that are slightly reminiscent of times of yore.  For example, I research the actual clasps that were used, and in some instances try to recreate them, if feasible. I will do actual reproduction work, but I prefer to try to come up with designs I feel could have been created at that time using techniques they would have used.  I am quite awed by the fact that modern jewelry is often quite similar to what was worn as long ago as B.C.  

Not all of my work is focused on a period in history.  As I mentioned before, I have a deep passion for fairytales.  I am fascinated by the concept of stories told in the oral tradition that have been told so many times in so many ways that they are deeply ingrained into who we are as a species.  For example, just about every culture has a Cinderella story.  I fear this tradition is dying, and fewer people know the stories.  When I am not sharing a piece of history with my followers, I want to share a story.

BH:  Are there other mediums besides metal that interest you?
Lynn: I love to create portraits of people, especially in watercolor, though I have started some exploration in doing them in silverpoint.  I enjoy painting.  I love to hand sew and embroider.  I have always wanted to try a pottery wheel, but have not had the chance.  I have also wanted to try marble sculpture, but I have not gotten there yet.  I also really love costume designing.  I am working on a full length novel, as well.

BH:  How do you promote your work?
Lynn:  I currently have my own website at  I sell my work on Etsy at  I also have a Facebook page where I promote my work as well:  We can also be seen at a variety of craft fairs, and we keep our calendar updated frequently.

BH:  What are your favorite movies? Books? Music?
Lynn: The three very best movies in the world, not in any order, have to be Princess Bride, Bambi, and the original Psycho. Choosing my favorite books is rather hard, as I love to read more than anything, but if I must choose, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, Rebecca by Daphne DuMuarier, Harry Potter, and Grimm’s Fairy tales are all goo d contenders. Ask me tomorrow and I will change my mind.  My music selections are very eclectic, but I mostly listen to soundtracks to musicals while I am working.  Weird Al Yankovic is my hero, as I am a nerd at heart. I love Simon and Garfunkel, Joni Mitchel, Billy Joel, and the Bare Naked Ladies.  I love music, and I am amazed by the talent out there, especially as I am completely tone deaf.

BH:  Read any good books lately?
Lynn:  I am currently reading the second book in the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series.  I mostly ready fiction, though I have been known to curl up with a good jewelry book.  My son has been reading Howliday Inn by James Howe to me.  It was the first mystery I ever read, and now it’s his.  Watching his face light up as he figured out “who dunnit” was pretty darn cool.

BH:  Where do you see yourself in 5 years with your art?
Lynn:  I hope that in the next five years I will have continued to grow and develop, constantly taking the quality of my work to the next level.  I never want to feel like I have reached the point where my work is “good enough,” as I believe we can always strive to be better than we are today. I hope to have developed a client base who respects the quality of my work and to have an established strong business.

Friday, March 22, 2013

When Artists Create Together

Many of the things I love about a Boston Handmade get together is we get to share experiences, maybe learn a new skill, and ask members about their craft. In my case, I finally learned how to crochet. Diane, of Lady Dye Fiber Arts, took the time to show me how to do a chain and off I went. I do have to keep practicing!

Diane also, spins her own yarn. It was great to watch her spin and ask her about how where she buys her wool and how she dyes it. Often our meetings are a sharing of information and support for our craft.

Later, in the evening we turned our meeting from learning crochet to talking about being a small business person.

Jessica Burko and Lynn Mohney were also in attendance. Lynn decided to learn crochet, as well. Jessica was well into a knitted skirt for her daughter during our get together. It is always fun to see people create.

Is there a craft you would like to learn or spend more time on?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Monday Mosaic: Shades of Green

curated by Sharon Fischer/Straynotions

We're still feeling a bit green. Hope you had a great St. Patty's day!

1. Mixed-media stitched collage, Jessica Burko
2. Green Rope Inlay Stoneware Mug, City by the Sea Ceramics
3. Starburst Pendant, Cristina Hurley Designs
4. Wool Applique Pillow - Bubbles, Stray Notions
5. Northern Ireland, 5"x7" photoprint, Kerry Hawkins Photography
6. leafy bookplates, Cricisis Design
7. Green Monster- 5x7 Photo, Lucie Wicker Photography
8. Dog Collar in Aww Nuts an Exclusive Design, Cody's Creations
9. Peruvian Highland Wool, Lady Dye Fiber Arts & Design

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Get to know new Boston Handmade Member: Dana Garczewski of The Patterned Peacock

BH: Tell us a bit about yourself.
Dana: My name is Dana Garczewski and my business is called The Patterned Peacock. I’ve had a life-long obsession with color and pattern so it’s only natural that I would make them the center of my artistic pursuits. I went to college for Illustration and my first creative job was working for a company that designed gift wrap and gift bags. In 2007 I had the opportunity to live in New Zealand for a year so I sold pretty much everything I owned and moved to Wellington. After returning, I found a job designing children’s shoes and still work for that company. I started The Patterned Peacock at the end of 2010 and I now sell my prints online, in boutiques, and at local craft shows.

BH: Apart from creating things, what do you do?
Dana: When not designing, I can be found whipping up a new dish in the kitchen, looking for any excuse to travel, enjoying a glass of red wine, curling up with a historical fiction novel, or going on a hike. My boyfriend and I just returned from a trip to Arizona and hiking the Grand Canyon was one of the highlights.

BH: What inspires you? Where do your ideas come from?
Dana: It’s hard for me to pinpoint exactly what inspires me. My subconscious must be quietly processing and connecting everything I encounter during the day because it’s usually during those ordinary moments when something great springs to mind and I find myself jotting down a note or making a sketch. My creative process is a like working on a jigsaw puzzle. I can rarely see the whole thing in one flash—instead, my ideas come in pieces. I fall in love with each one and hold onto it until I can figure out the next piece that connects to it.

BH: Please describe your creative process.
Dana: Once I’m inspired to create something, I start sketching to work out the concept and composition. Sometimes I need to do some visual research to learn more about a subject or if I want to draw something very specific. Then I scan my sketches into the computer and use them a guide while I draw and color the art in Illustrator or Photoshop. Deciding on the color palette is my favorite part of creating each piece. This is when the image really comes alive. To see a visual example of how I created Mehndi click here. 

BH: What's your favorite color?
Dana: That’s a tough one. I tend to be drawn to cool colors, particularly blues. You’ll see a lot of blue and teal in my work. But I'm also really happy whenever I look at yellow.

BH: What are your favorite materials?
Dana: Ink on paper. Paper is another thing on my obsession list. There’s something about the tactile quality and the versatility that I love. Most of the things I make involve paper.

BH: Are there other mediums you’re not working in that interest you? 
Dana: I would love to start working with fabric to make things like handbags, aprons, and pillows. Of course, this means that I need to learn how to sew first.

BH: Any tips on selling handmade stuff?
Dana: Yes, get your pricing right. This can be one of the hardest things to do. It’s important to price for profit but so many makers tend to undervalue their work. I’ve found that once you’re able to target the right audience and clearly communicate the value of your work, it’s easier to charge something that’s both fair and sustainable.

BH: Name a few of your favorite books, movies, and blogs
Dana: My favorite books include The Time Traveller’s Wife, The Eight, Nickel and Dimed, and Griffin & Sabine series. For movies I like Before Sunrise, Once, The Road, and Memento. And I typically check out Print & Pattern, Smart Creative Women, Designing an MBA, and Pinterest whenever I need a little internet break during the day.

BH: Where do you see yourself in 5 years with your art?
Dana: I’d love to be able to quit my day job and be working on The Patterned Peacock full time. I see myself doing a combination of licensing my art to companies as well as continuing to create my own line to sell directly to consumers.

To connect with Dana, she can be found on Twitter and Pinterest.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Get to know new Boston Handmade Member: Bev Feldman of Linkouture

Hey there! My name is Bev Feldman, and I am the owner/designer of Linkouture, modern handcrafted chainmaille jewelry for women. I recently became a member of Boston Handmade, and I am thrilled to be here and give you a little glimpse into my inner workings!
QTell us a bit about yourself.

A: I grew up in the fine state of New Jersey and moved to Boston in 2004 after graduating from college. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life, I just knew it involved working with children. Several jobs and a master’s degree in education later, I got married and left my job to travel around South America with my husband for five months at the beginning of 2012. When I returned, instead of pursuing a job in the field, I decided to focus on my jewelry business which I had started right before I went abroad (naturally). 

Q: What is the first thing you can remember making by hand?  

A: The first thing that I clearly remember making was when I took a pottery class was I was six years old. The two things I most remember making were a pizza slice that sat on my father’s work desk for years, and a ceramic bust that was supposed to be me (it was an assignment, I don’t think 6-year-old me would have ever come up with that idea on her own). It didn’t really look like me, especially since I decided to give myself bangs even though I didn’t have any at the time. I did manage, however, to convince my little sister for years that it was my old head!

Q: What handmade possession do you most cherish?

A: I would have to say a needlepoint hanging my mom made for me for my Bat Mitzvah. I remember her carrying it around with her wherever she went, adding in stitches when she had a spare moment. She spent so long working on it, and even at that age I could tell how much love and energy she put into making it.

Q: What do you love most about what you make?

A: I love the process of making chains. I could seriously just get lost in making chainmaille for hours (or at least until my hands cramp up!). It is amazing to take a pile of jump rings and transform them into something wearable.

Q: Any tips on selling handmade stuff?

Be true to yourself and your style. I’ve had so many people tell me, “You should make this,” and while I appreciate the thought and know that they want to see my business thrive, my aim in my jewelry is not to please everyone and make something everyone is going to like, because that is never going to happen. Rather, I want to make things that I enjoy making and that are true to my style. Also, remember not to lose sight of why you are doing it. It can be easy to get caught up in the business-side of a handmade business, but you are doing this because you love creating and sharing your art. 

Q: Why should people buy handmade?

A: Because it’s awesome! Seriously, though, I’m a huge proponent of supporting handmade businesses. You get to own something that is unique, interesting, and made with love (and perhaps some sweat and tears).

Q: What advice would you give to artists who are new to Etsy?

A: Check out the forums, read the Etsy blog, and join teams. Overall, I think Etsy is a very supportive community. There are so many wonderful tips and great mini-communities for whatever niche (or location) you are in. The Etsy blog in particularly was invaluable to me when I was first starting out.

Q: Read any good books lately?

A: I recently read The Firestarter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte. I guess you could call it a self-help book, which isn’t typically my thing, but I found it to be really inspiring and I like her style a lot (very no-nonsense). I’ve been reading a lot of nonfiction lately—at the moment I’m reading Season to Taste: How I lost My Sense of Smell and Found my Way by Molly Birnbaum, and I just finished reading Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo—mixed in with some fluffy chick lit (my guilty pleasure).

Q: Is there anything about you that would surprise people to know?

A: I’m the messiest organized person. I always know where things are (well, besides my car keys) but they are scattered all over my house. My friends are always surprised to find out I am messy. And my “studio” is basically my entire house. You will find beads, tools, jump rings, and tiny pieces of metal in my living room, my kitchen table, and my actual workspace. I just can’t be contained!

To see more work by Bev Feldman of Linkouture visit:

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Announcing New Members of Boston Handmade

Boston Handmade is a juried, membership group made up of independent Massachusetts artists and craftspeople sharing business and marketing skills, art and craft techniques, and networking activities to increase each others sales and market exposure. We review applications for new members several times per year and we are delighted to announce these new additions to our group resulting from our recent winter reviews...

Vintage Coffee Mug Cup Wallet by Abigail Leigh
Amy Bohn of Abigail Leigh Handbags designs and sews wristlets and handbags from new and vintage home decor fabrics and remnants.

Shibori tied, hand dyed silk scarf by Enchantedhue
Susanne Guirakhoo of Enchantedhue creates silk scarves and home accessories from fabric that is hand dyed using plant material collected locally.

Handwoven Byzantine Chainmaille Necklace by Linkouture
Bev Feldman of Linkoture makes handcrafted, modern chainmaille jewelry from silver, gold, and semi-precious stones.

Brass filigree necklace by Prunella's Workshop
Lynn Mohney of Prunella’s Workshop creates metal jewelry and clothing accessories in silver, copper, and/or bronze inspired by the medieval period.
Retro Cameras print by The Patterned Peacock
Dana Garczewski of The Patterned Peacock creates prints, calendars, and banners from her original artwork.

During the next couple of weeks we will publish interviews with these new group members so you can get to know them and their outstanding handmade work. Follow our blog so you don't miss a beat!
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