Friday, May 31, 2013

Why Handmade: Dealing with Artist Block

by Lynn Mohney of Prunella's Workshop      

We are all familiar with the term “Writer’s Block.” It should come as no surprise that artists experience this phenomenon as well. It comes in many forms. The artistic muse may just not be speaking today. There may be such an overload of creative ideas brewing in the artist’s head that they cannot get the work out fast enough, or make any sense of what is happening. It can be such an over load that it seems easier to just go take a nap. Or perhaps there is no actual block, but there is very little time to utilize the creative energy.

Blank Canvas, photo by Jessica Burko

Currently, I fall in the latter category. I have plenty of ideas in my head firmly established. All I have to do is enter my studio and create. Sounds fairly simple. However, due to family issues that have arisen, there is absolutely no time to enter my studio. Specifically, I am preparing to list my home, so that I will have a house that better accommodates both my family and my art. In the end it will be a positive change for all; however, at the moment I am engrossed in exhausting home improvement projects that leave me too tired to pursue my art. As such, I am experiencing creative overload! When I do finally get that moment when I could do some work in my studio, I am too exhausted to lift my body off my couch.

How do you combat artist block when the energy is all dried up? If it is just for a day, or even two, take the day off. Go to a park, a museum, or your favorite nature trail. Take a nap and watch your favorite movie. Do what you need to do to just recharge your batteries. It’s a lot of mental work to be constantly creative, and you may need to stop from time to time. However, if you are operating a business, you cannot take excessive time off to recharge. You can also try learning a new craft or revisit a discarded one. The change in pace will recharge and possibly create a new finished piece, even if it is not what you usually do. Or do something mindless but productive. For example, for me there is nothing more repetitive and non-creative than making chain links for necklaces. It is boring, but productive. I can allow my mind to relax and typically after a bit the ideas will start flowing again.

photo by Lucie Wicker Photography

When ideas are so fast and furious that you cannot possibly make them all, perhaps a nap is not unreasonable. It can calm the mind so that you can organize and plan. Make lists of ideas so you do not forget. The list could be useful when you have a block. Draw quick sketches of your ideas. Above all, remember, you are overwhelmed with ideas, not underwhelmed. Some ideas are better than others. Focus on them first.

If you are faced with my problem where you have reasonable ideas but no time what so ever to execute them, find a minute to take notes so that you will not forget when time does open up. It does not take long and can be done when you need a break. If you have 15 to 30 minutes, use it. However, be careful and do not exhaust yourself with no sleep or nothing will get finished!

What do you do to solve your creative blocks and overflows? Do you work yourself to death? Or do you watch reality TV with a bowl of ice cream? Remember, neither solution is wrong all of the time in moderation. Do what works for you!

photo by Lucie Wicker Photography

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Heartbreak and Resilience: The 2013 Boston Marathon and Beyond

I went to the marathon this year (for the first time!) to cheer on two of my runner friends. I got there early enough to catch the elite runners finishing. After I saw one of my friends pass by around 2pm, I walked up Boylston to meet my friend Kelly at Starbucks and find our other runner friend. I was waiting there when all hell broke loose. It's hard to believe how such a perfect day went so wrong so fast.

When my school, the Center for Digital Imaging Arts, decided to have an exhibit featuring student, alumni, and faculty work of the marathon and the aftermath, I knew I wanted to be involved. I submitted a photo I took that day of the race from where I was standing most of the morning, on the corner of Hereford and Boylston. The work will be for sale with all proceeds going to the One Fund! If you're interested in checking it out, there will be an opening reception on Friday but the show will be up until September 13. Here are the details:

Opening Reception: 

May 31, 2013 6pm-9pm

Featuring work by students, graduates, faculty and friends of 
Boston University Center for Digital Imaging 
Arts Professional Photography Certificate Program

Exhibit on display May 31 - September 13

274 Moody Street

Waltham, MA 02453

For directions and parking:

For more photos and stories, check out the Facebook fan page set up for the exhibit:

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Call for Artists and Craftspeople: Boston Handmade Summer Application Reviews

Sewing paper quilts. Photo by K. Hawkins Photography
Calling all Massachusetts Artists and Craftspeople! Boston Handmade is accepting membership applications through July 31, 2013. 

Boston Handmade is a juried arts organization of local artists and craftspeople supporting one another in the pursuit of creativity made by hand. The membership is dedicated to working collaboratively for mutual inspirational and professional benefit with regular exhibition and educational opportunities for members including skill-share workshops, craft shows, and monthly networking gatherings. Membership benefits include: an open invitation to exhibit in all Boston Handmade sponsored shows, discounted exhibitor fees for Boston Handmade sponsored shows, access to extensive online art, craft, marketing, and business resources, special opportunities such as discounts to area museums and workshops with marketing and social media experts, inclusion in the Boston Handmade community and group meet-ups, and inclusion and promotion through the Boston Handmade blog, website, and all Boston Handmade social media.

Eligible applicants maintain residency in Massachusetts and have an active online shop. As long as you are able to attend meet-ups which largely meets in the Greater Boston area, we welcome members from all corners of the Commonwealth!

For full application information visit: . Questions? Contact:

Friday, May 24, 2013

Why Handmade? Thoughts on Branding

by Lynn Mohney of Prunella’s Workshop

I have just begun to bring my wares to outdoor craft shows. Imagine my dismay when I set up at the first show and I realized my set up looked, well, lame. It was a fairly windy site, though the weather was beautiful. I set up my white EZ-Up tent with three walls to block the wind (successfully) and my six-foot table. I had two four inch risers with neatly fitted black cloth coverings, a lovely red table cloth, and the Prunella’s Workshop banner across the front of the table.

Customers were crouched down all day trying to see the jewelry I had spent so much time making. The white expanse of my walls swallowed up my table, causing it to get lost. This set up was rather plain with little to no personality or indication of what type of jewelry you would find. In short, there was nothing about my display that said my work was special or desirable. With two weeks until the next show, I determined it was time for a break from creating jewelry and I needed to get my brand working for me.

When branding, we need to think about who we are and how we want our customers to feel about our products. We need to look professional and clean. These concepts sound like something big corporations worry about, not one sole proprietor; however, this is how they became the booming businesses they are today. Furthermore, professional does not necessarily mean a lack of whimsy or humor if that is the nature of the product. It does mean that we need to be consistent through out. If we are selling a very practical product, our display needs to reflect this, by eliminating unnecessary distracting clutter whereas if our product is a special splurge we can be more rich and lush in our displays. We need to consider our work from the eye of a customer. In the case of Prunella’s Workshop, I am creating jewelry with a historical medieval or renaissance influence. Often my audience has an appreciation for fairy tales and fantasy. My display was very clean with very little character. I needed to add a romantic feel and fast.

First I focused on breaking up the mass of red of the table covering with a simple sheet of white lace. I kept the original risers, but I also added two small cardboard boxes, which I first covered with white card stock, and then I draped soft white velvet over each. By keeping the two lower risers in the middle of the table and the taller risers on the two ends, the eye swept through everything being shown with no interruptions or choppiness, and it was easier to see individual pieces.

A good thing to consider when planning a display for a craft fair is whether it is the display or the work that is catching the eye. For example, Liz of Lush Beads reflected upon using wrought iron candlesticks to hang necklaces. Customers would approach her asking to buy the candlesticks instead of her lovely beadwork. Liz also has more than one line of work, which she keeps separate with different style displays. It can be advantageous to keep very different styles of work separated for ease of shopping. Customers can go directly to the product that is appealing to them and avoid a less desirable style for their taste. By simplifying their shopping experience, they will stay longer looking over what they like instead of getting frustrated and walking away.

With the general visual feel of the display complete, I moved on to a more detailed aspect of the display. I started with writing an artist statement that answered a few of the questions asked repeatedly by potential customers, such as where did we come up with our business name, what sort of training did we receive, and how we create our work. I also included information regarding what my products are made of and my custom order policy. I determined that it was very wordy for one sheet of paper, and separated it to two sheets, both framed, and placed on opposite ends of the table. By placing them at the ends, separated by scads of product, the information was available without distracting customers away from what really mattered.

Speaking of what really matters, I also wanted to make each individual piece seem more special. Instead of merely having a small price tag attached to the jewelry, I made 3X4 cards including the business logo, the price, a small description, and a name for the piece. I had never named my work prior; however, by including a name for each piece, I emphasized that the work they were seeing was one of a kind art, and special. A necklace once known as “Sterling Silver filigree necklace with black onyx stone” became “Her Hair Was Black as Ebony,” from Snow White, and the prior name became the description. Right away, the piece became more interesting.

Photo by Kerrie of Cody's Creations
At times even a good display needs refreshing or updating. This is evidenced by Kerrie of Cody’s Creations. She had a display that adequately displayed her handmade pet accessories so that they were easily seen and attractive to customers who would buy her work. However, she has recently changed her display where she has fun eye-catching doghouses on her end caps. New customers know what Cody’s Creations is going to be about long before they get to her booth and can make a beeline right over if they are in the market for a pet accessory. Customers who do not have pets can continue on without stopping making more room for buying customers. Kerrie also made the smart choice of keeping her color scheme of white and blue, with the same business logo as before. This helped repeat customers recognize her despite the changes she has made.

Photo by Kerrie of Cody's Creations
I consider my branding and display strategies to still be a work in progress. There are changes to be made as time goes on and my work evolves. What works in one venue may be a failure in another. However, with just a little thought and perspective, we can make a comfortable shopping experience for our customers and improve our sales. It is also a great idea to do a dry run before a show!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Swap yarn, build community.

Ceramic yarn bowl by City by the Sea Ceramics
You've got yarn. You know you've got yarn. You've got so much yarn you no longer have any where to stash it. Yup. That's you.

Time to clear out the closets and sweep off the shelves of all that yarn you bought with the best of intentions but just haven't used. Bring it to the 3rd Annual JP Yarn Swap!
This year the yarn swap is in a new-and-improved location at the Mary Baker Eddy Library. Yeah, it's not JP, but just close your eyes and pretend. Handmade for the Homeless, which takes place at the same time, has graciously offered to share their space, so bring some yarn and/or knit/crochet supplies to trade, then hang out with oodles of crafty folks!

The 2013 JP Yarn Swap
Sunday, June 2, 11am-2pm
The Mary Baker Eddy Library
200 Mass Ave., Boston 02115
next to the Christian Science Plaza

All leftover yarn will be donated to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Caps for Kids program, which provides more than 10,000 handmade items per year to needy Boston children.
Questions about this event? Email

Monday, May 20, 2013

Monday Mosaic: Get the bugs out

1.  Dog Collar with Adjustable Buckle or Martingale in Honey Bee, Cody's Creations
2.  Sterling Silver Angel Wings Hand Fabricated Necklace with Aquamarine and Pearl, Cristina Hurley
3.  Spider Web Pillow - Embroidery embellished photo, Stray Notions
4.  Plum Print with Vintage Ephemera, The Patterned Peacock

Friday, May 17, 2013

Why handmade? Visiting an artist’s Studio: Jessica Burko

by Lynn Mohney of Prunella’s Workshop

There is nothing quite as exciting as getting to watch another artist work. Sometimes it inspires me to learn something new; other times I get itchy fingers to work my own craft. Last weekend, when I visited Jessica Burko’s studio was no exception.

Jessica’s studio is located in Boston's South End, in a building that only opens to the public twice a year, and I had the pleasure of joining her during the SoWa Art Walk. When you first arrive, you see an old warehouse building that appears to have seen better days. Many such buildings have been converted to art studios, and this is no surprise. However, once you enter the actual studio, you can feel the magic of a place where people create beautiful and imaginative pieces of art.

While it was a day that people could come in and browse work that was for sale, it was also a day of work for Jessica. As people trickled in through out the day, they could actually stop and see an artist at work, and hopefully appreciate the time and the effort that goes into creating a piece of art. Most who came, did stop and watch her.

Collage with photography; with mixed media original by Jessica Burko

Jessica creates encaustic mixed media collages, in which she collects discarded photographs, dilapidated books and paper, sewing patterns, and a variety of other paper she has found, and upcycles them along with her own original photography into lovely pieces that are displayed all over her workspace. The encaustic medium is a combination of beeswax and Damar resin that is heated to their liquid form and brushed over the piece. Jessica explained with pride that encaustic is the only true archival medium available dating back to the ancient Egyptians. As an artist who enjoys utilizing historical techniques in my own work, I found this aspect of her creations to be particularly intriguing.

All around Jessica’s studio you can see the different stages of her work, and witness how it has changed over time. In fact, she had a revelation while I was there, that her work had become very busy over time, as her life had become hectic, but as things have settled down, her work is becoming more simplified and cleaner. She took some older work that no longer appealed to her, and reworked it over the day. You could almost see as she worked, that she became more relaxed as she altered the pieces. As an onlooker, it appeared that uncluttering the artwork before her was emptying her mind of any troublesome thoughts of the past.

Original Encaustic Collage titled Boom Boom by Jessica Burko

Jessica’s creations have a feminine charm to them. They bring to life themes and issues that seem to particularly effect women, such as home, family, and work, in a way that celebrates the strength and power women have on our society. Jessica laughed as she explained to me that her mother thinks she is very domestic, but as I have thought about it, I would have to agree. However, I feel her work and her life are very domestic in a very modern way that should be celebrated. She is someone’s mother, with a home that requires care and attention. Jessica also works for a living as a professional artist, which brings many challenges as she balances career with family. It struck me, as I witnessed not only her work, but a slice of her life, that our grandmothers were completely domestic, and focused on their homes. They did not typically have professional jobs. Our mothers’ generation was all about having a career, and a family on the side. They tried to abandon all things considered to be domestic and “women’s work.” Now our generation has come along and we are trying to reconcile what was lost after our grandmothers’ generation while holding fast to what our mothers gained. I felt that all of these themes were prevalent and more in Jessica’s work.

I highly recommend you check it out!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

7 Things You Need to Know to Be a Rockstar Craft Show Customer

by Bev Feldman of Linkouture
The temperature is rising, flowers in vibrant hues of the rainbow have popped up from beneath the earth, and the trees are filling with green leafy goodness. It can only mean one thing.
You totally thought I was going to say spring is here, right?
Wrong! What I was going to say is it means that craft show season is finally upon us.
From ceramics to jewelry, photography to graphic designed prints, whatever your heart desires can be found at your local craft show. And whether you crave the thrill of scoring something beautifully handcrafted and one-of-a-kind, or you are a craft show newbie, these 7 steps will help you be a Rockstar Craft Show Customer.

The 2012 Boston Handmade Marketplace, photo by Jessica Burko
1. Scope things out
Before you blow your budget on the very first stand you stop at (unless you favorite artist who sells out of her one-of-a-kind handmade beauties faster than you can say "Do you accept credit cards?"is there) take a moment to look around and see what is there. "I like to walk through the show and see what is there before I get serious with my shopping. I have been known to stop at a particularly eye-catching booth to browse on this first pass," says Liz Stewart of Lush Beads. And you might come across something you missed on your first run, so do that second (or third) walk-through with an open mind.

The 2012 Boston Handmade Marketplace, photo by Jessica Burko
2. Come prepared with warm-weather necessities
The last thing you want on a glorious day of perusing for handmade goodies is to get dehydrated or finish the day looking like a lobster. Unless you plan to spend your entire day under the tent of a single vendor, chances are you will be walking around in the sun. You want to protect your skin, so make sure to load up on the SPF and bring a small bottle along with you. And Dana Garczewski of the Painted Peacock recommends bringing something to quench your thirst. "I've been to shows that have no refreshments whatsover so I've learned to take a water bottle with me. Nothing ruins a fun day of shopping faster than being cranky because I'm dehydrated."

3. Bring an extra bag
And while we're on the topic of things to bring with you, Kerrie Kubinski Beck of Cody's Creations recommends bringing a tote bag. "I throw all my goodies in one bag instead of multiple bags so I can keep my hands free."

4. Ask before taking photos
Before you start snapping photos, nicely ask if you can. If the artist declines, don't take it personally. Many artists for a variety of reasons (and justifiably) do not want want their products being photographed.
The 2012 Boston Handmade Marketplace, photo by Jessica Burko
5. Be reasonable about pricing
Making something from hand takes a lot of time, and chances are the things you find at a craft show will be considerably higher than some of the cheaper, mass-produced items you find at your local chain store. If you don't feel comfortable spending that much money, we won't be offended! However, please know that craft shows are not flea markets. You might be tempted to ask for a discount, but this is not a time to be the Queen of Bargaining. We put a lot of time into what we make and thought into our pricing (and often times artists actually undercharge for their items). No one wants to make less than minimum wage for their hard work!

6. Ask the artist questions 
How often are you face-to-face with the maker of something you want to buy? This is the perfect opportunity to get your questions answered. Things you might want to consider asking are about the artist's process, what materials he uses (if it is a a wearable item and you have any skin sensitivities this is especially important), and how he got started doing it. Just be careful of monopolizing the artist's time--they are also working and need to tend to all their potential customers!
Photo by Kerry Hawkins
7. Don't be afraid to splurge
For many, one of the appeals of buying handmade is the uniqueness of the item. The downside? Often times when it's sold, it's gone for good. So if you see something you truly love and know you cannot live without it, give yourself permission to splurge a little. (And don't worry, we won't tell!)

What is your top tip for being a craft show patron?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Workspace Wednesday: The Patterned Peacock

"This photo is of my studio which overlooks a cherry willow tree in the backyard. I'm working on my line of wooden serving trays. Each tray is sanded, painted, and sealed before I add my artwork to the bottom of the tray. Then I apply a clear resin to protect it."

To see finished work by The Patterned Peacock visit:

Tune in next week for another peek into the artist workspace!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Celebrating Mothers who Create

Today while you're celebrating moms everywhere, take a minute to check out these Boston Handmade mothers who create art, craft, and people.

Happy Mother's Day!

Cristina Hurley, jewelry artist and mom.
Jessica Burko, artist and mom.
Lynn of Prunella's Workshop, jewelry artist and mom.
Susanne of Enchanted Hue, textile artist and mom.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

From Found Object to Finished Art

by Jessica Burko

I cannot play, 4.5" x 5.5" x 1.5", encaustic collage on reclaimed wood by Jessica Burko
My current series of one-of-a-kind artwork consists of found paper, vintage photographs, and original imagery that I collage using encaustic medium on reclaimed wood. I call it "encaustic mixed-media" for short. Recently I photo-documented the steps I took to make a few new pieces, starting from the collection of raw wood from a local construction site, all the way to my latest finished work. Process is a huge part of my art, and I delight in sharing a glimpse of it with you.

If you'd like to chat about art and see some of my larger works, I'll be presenting several of my paper quilts this Tuesday, May 14th and Tuesday, May 21st at The Liberty Hotel as their May featured Gallery Night artist, 6-8:30pm. Art is everywhere in Boston. Keep your eyes open and you'll find it.

Big bag of wood scraps from a local construction site in Jamaica Plain.

Sanding the wood in my South End studio.

Preparing the wood canvases with acrylic.

Sorting through piles of ephemera to decide what elements come together to tell my story.

A few brand new finished pieces that will be on view and ready to go home with you at the Beacon Hill Art Walk, on June 2nd.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Why Handmade: Made with Love

by Lynn Mohney of Prunella's Workshop

As a professional artist, I am usually focused on how to make my art appeal to paying customers. I have a family that needs food and a roof over their heads; however, from time to time I do like to make something special for a loved one. It is a different experience when you know the person, and you are planning something extra special just for them. The current fad need not apply unless your loved one is into the latest trend. The creation is as much about the love you have for that person as the love you have for your craft. This is a particularly potent topic to me this week, with Mother’s Day around the corner.

My mother is an engineer with a degree in physics. She was in the first class of women at Worcester Polytechnical Institute (WPI), for which I am very proud. We have joked my whole life regarding how funny it is that her daughter is an artist who despises numbers. However, my mother is also an artist when it comes to sewing. She creates beautiful practical little girl’s clothing in such a way that you would think sewing was a piece of cake. My mother makes dresses that make you feel like a pink little girl who can climb a tree to see the world with no worries that she is showing off her underpants. She is a woman who thought she could be anything she wanted and still be feminine, and this is reflected in the clothes she makes for my daughter today.

Though very practical, my mother has no interest in making a business with her sewing ability. She sews for the people that she loves, stating that it’s too hard to put a price tag on the work she has put into her creations. When she sews for my daughter, she can make what she wants, and customize it to my daughter’s face. My mother equates it to having her very own living moving breathing doll. The colors of the fabrics she chooses brings out my daughter’s bright blue eyes, rosy pink skin and golden hair to perfection, so that my baby becomes a piece of art in and of herself.

The relationship between mothers and daughters is particularly special in that your daughter may some day know the same joy of motherhood. In a way, my daughter is a joint project in that she will learn from her mother and her grandmothers what she needs to know to be a strong capable woman. Recently, my mother and I took on a joint project in which I created turtle brooches loosely based upon ancient Viking turtle shell brooches, and my mother designed the Viking apron dress that would have been worn with them. While we worked separately, a few towns apart, the finished product was indeed perfect.

I do not know yet whether my daughter is going to like turtles when she obtains the language skills necessary to tell me. I know that making the brooches was an act of love, as I imagined her wearing them for the first time. I made a brass prototype through a technique known as chasing and repousse, in which metal is secured in a bowl of pitch, and then hammered with various shaped punches and dies until I had a turtle. This was then cast into bronze, and cleaned up for the perfect master. Several turtles were then cast and hardware was attached underneath the turtle shell.  Duplicates are a limited run item for sale at my Etsy shop.

Bronze Viking Turtle Brooches by Prunella's Workshop

The dress was made from red cotton corduroy and off white linen. My mother drafted the pattern utilizing other patterns for sizing and shape. The embroidered turtles on the dress and the embroidery on the off white shift are machine done to give the entire outfit durability. The entire dress is 100% washable and one of a kind.  

Due to the success of this project, as well as so many others, we are discussing other handmade projects to do together. My mother recently made a fused glass cabochon that I am turning into a pendant. I am creating a fabric design that we will have printed, and my mother will sew the final product. Our scathingly brilliant plans are endless.

What do you like to create with your mother?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Meet The Artist at Cristina Hurley Gallery

Join Photographer, Kerry Hawkins and Cristina Hurley for this free event at Cristina's Gallery in Canton Center. Kerry will feature new work from her photowalks in the Boston area and from her travels.

Kerry is a member of Boston Handmade. She is also a founding member of Dedham Square Artist Guild in Dedham Square.

Refreshments served.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Earth Day Every Day

with photography contributions by Kerry Hawkins and Bev Feldman

'Shaker egg' made from cardboard egg carton cups and dry lentils. Photo by Bev Feldman
Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970 as a day to take action towards promoting positive environmental changes in human behavior and to provoke government policy change to benefit the environment. Since then, Earth Day has been embraced by many countries around the world and is celebrated annually in countless ways by people of all ages. 

'Wine cork boat' made from two wine corks, reclaimed yarn, a magazine clipping, and a pipe cleaner. Photo by Bev Feldman
Members of Boston Handmade demonstrate environmental conservation and incorporate the concept of Earth Day every day as independent creative business owners producing and selling art and craft locally, and working from small studios, which reduces our own carbon footprint and that of our customers. Additionally, many Boston Handmade members keep the mindset of “reduce, reuse, recycle” as a driving force in our work through our choice of materials, and construction methods. Conserving resources is something we keep in the forefront of our minds, and harnessing the power of our own hands inspires us. 

Making 'Lap guitars' from shoe boxes and rubber bands, collaged with magazine clippings. Photo by Bev Feldman
On Monday, April 22nd Boston Handmade held our first community Earth Day celebration. The event was free and open to the public and held at the Boston Public Library, Jamaica Plain branch in their large multipurpose room. The goal of this event was to encourage creativity with household debris and to create what I like to call "garbage toys". The idea is that if we can create art and craft with materials we save from garbage and recycling bins we can keep those items out of landfills and save the energy it takes to process garbage and recycling, and whatever materials we can reuse saves us money in purchasing new supplies, and all the steps we take like this to be more environmentally conscious, creates a cascade of positive benefits for the Earth. Plus, promoting this type of creativity has educational benefits for children and the development of their problem solving abilities, and making new stuff from old stuff is just darn fun!

Pretend binoculars made from toilet paper rolls. A 'Rain stick' made from a paper towel roll, an accordion folded piece of cardboard inside of it and dried lentils as the rain. Jewelry made from cardboard egg carton cups and reclaimed yarn. Photo by Kerry Hawkins.
Two weeks before Earth Day I got the idea to organize this event after making cardboard egg shakers with my son's preschool class. Those 3.5-year-olds had so much fun with the project that it seemed like it could only be MORE fun to do it on a bigger scale. With not much time and a lot of supplies to gather I am very grateful to the Jamaica Plain community for all the various contributions they made and also to Harvest Co-op Markets for providing dry goods that we used to make percussion instruments, City Feed and Supply for saving their egg cartons for us to craft with, and Stride Rite for collecting shoe boxes so we could make "lap guitars".

Zachary making a paper and cardboard tree for his cardboard caterpillar to eat. Photo by Jessica Burko.
Among the approximately 200 people who attended the event were my son's preschool classmates and teachers who walked a few blocks from school to library for their first-ever first trip. They made caterpillars from cardboard egg cartons and a tree cut from a cereal box with leaves cut from magazine pages, so the cardboard caterpillar had something to eat. We were also delighted to have a visit from the 5th grade class at Nativity Preparatory School who made lap guitars from shoe boxes, shaker drums from large yogurt containers with dried pasta inside, and many other objects and toys of their own invention. Many parents and toddlers came by, several adults ventured in on their own, and we also had quite a few home-schoolers participating.

5th graders from Nativity Prep School with artist Stephanie Putland in the foreground and artist Carol Johnson at the back table. Photo by Jessica Burko.
Assisting me and facilitating the many craft projects throughout the day were a few members of Boston Handmade and several local artists. The event couldn't have happened without the help and dedication of these wonderful artists and craftspeople: Amy Hitchcock, Bev Feldman, Carol Johnson, Cristina Hurley, Lauren Teller, and Stephanie Putland. We spent the day, from 10am to 4pm making a wide array of toys, art, musical instruments, sculptures and art.

Three Earth Day event participants and the wonderful trees they made from cereal box cardboard, toilet paper rolls, reclaimed yarn, and a lot of imagination. Photo by Jessica Burko.
In an effort to educate while we explored our creativity, the library provided a wonderful display of books with Earth friendly themes, and I posted information about ways we can all help the environment. To encourage more environmentally conscious behavior I also asked everyone to pledge to do something in 2013 to help the Earth, and to record that pledge on a banner for everyone to see. Some of the pledges were particularly inspiring, and I have no doubt that everyone who inscribed the banner will follow through with their vows.

Earth Day banner photos by Jessica Burko.

April 22nd was definitely a day to remember and one that we will surely repeat next Earth Day and hopefully for many years to come. We will also likely incorporate hands-on craft projects at other group events such as our annual Boston Handmade Marketplace in Union Square Somerville, scheduled this year on July 13th, and possibly at some of our winter holiday events as well. Stay tuned for all the details or join our email list to receive announcements of upcoming events delivered right to your in box. If you have ideas for art and craft projects to do with found or salvaged materials we'd love to hear about it! Please chime in with your comments and be sure to celebrate Earth Day every day with us!

Cardboard caterpillar made from egg carton cups and pipe cleaner. Photo by Kerry Hawkins.

Boston Handmade Alumna Elephunk's Trunk making paper flowers with her son. Photo by Jessica Burko.

Decorative bowl made from the bottom of a plastic soda bottle and collaged with magazine clippings. Photo by Jessica Burko.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Botanical Inspiration

By Kerry Hawkins

Looking for a place to find peace and a bit of inspiration? Try the Wellesley College Greenhouses
I made a visit last week to these greenhouses and the botanical garden with a friend and a fellow photographer. I like to visit new places and photograph.

I couldn't believe the plants and flowers that were in bloom in these greenhouses. It is a true treasure. Plants that are growing inside these greenhouses are from around the world. I have never seen some of these plants. It was a feast for the eyes.

I think this place would inspire just about any artist from painters to jewelry makers. It is worth a visit.

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