Friday, June 28, 2013

Why Handmade: Customer Service, Part 2

by Lynn Mohney of Prunella’s Workshop

Photo by Kerry Hawkins
Recently I discussed tips on providing customer service asprofessional artists. As promised, this week I am going to talk a little bit about being the customer buying the art. With these tips, it will be easier for us to serve you as the customer in a way that everyone is satisfied.

An artist selling their work wants the customer to be pleased with their purchase. They do not want to sell you something faulty or something you do not really want. They put a lot of time and effort into their product, and they want it to find a great home.

Ask questions. You have the right to know what you are purchasing. Often times art can be expensive and you should be clear about what you have. It can be frustrating for an artist when a customer asks “Did you really make all of this?” However, an artist selling their work is usually looking forward to sharing details of their process with a customer. Find a piece or two that you find intriguing and ask questions specifically regarding it. How was it made? What is it made of? What inspired you to make it? It is likely to start a lively conversation and you will learn more about something you may decide to buy.

Lady Dye Fiber Arts; Photo by Jessica Burko

It is all right to provide constructive criticism. An artist is trying to gauge her audience, and she can only do so with feedback. Maybe you like a piece but you wish it was sized differently, or it was a different color. Maybe it is a price that you cannot afford today. If multiple people like something but they have slight alterations, the artist can take that information back to her workshop and create variations on a popular piece. An artist cannot please everyone, but they will listen. In some instances, they may be able to even make that variation for you as a special order, or even right there on the spot.

Many forms of art have care instructions. Some ceramics are not dishwasher safe. Some metals are damaged in certain chemicals. Not all fabrics are washable. The artist selling to you should be familiar with the care needs of their product. Make sure you heed those directions so that you can best enjoy your new acquisition. It is the artist’s responsibility to provide you with a well made product and make certain you are aware of the care needed. It is not their responsibility to replace the item if those directions are ignored!

When buying online from sites such as Etsy, keep in mind that while the product should closely resemble the photo the artist provided, that there can be some discrepancies due to the quality of the photograph provided, the browser you are using, and differences in computer monitors. If you require an exact color match, you may be better served purchasing something in person. Read the artist’s policies and do not be shy contacting the artist through the convo function. 
Some artists will do custom orders. Be clear and concise regarding what you are looking for. Be prepared to make a significant down payment. A custom order should be treated as a professional transaction with a contract with both parties agreeing to each step of the process. You would not be surprised that a contractor remodeling your house would require down payments, contracts, and confirmation regarding what you are looking for. A custom order is no different when working with a professional artist.

Do not assume the artist is willing to haggle. There are some artists who are open to and even enjoy haggling, and they will let you know. However, artists have special skills and work very hard at their craft. More often than not they are trying to put a roof over their family’s heads and food on the table. Also, artists are notorious for underpricing their work in the first place, and requesting a discount can be asking them to lose money on the transaction. If you feel you can get what you want cheaper mass produced from a department store, you certainly can do so. If the artist is worth the space they are taking, they are most likely offering a more unique well put together product.

Parrish Relics; Photo by Jessica Burko

One of the hardest parts of finding a gem at a craft fair, is a feeling you need to act now, or you will never find the artist again. This is not true most of the time! Ask if the artist has a mailing list. This can be the easiest way to stay in contact with an artist who’s work interested you, even if you did not purchase immediately. Artists typically have business cards. Bring a writing implement so you can write on the back of the card what interested you. If they have a Facebook page, gather information regarding how to find it, and then “Like” it when you get home. You can obtain all sorts of great updates including new work produced by the artist, and where they will be showing their work next!

Stitch House; Photo by Jessica Burko

The most important thing is, have fun shopping! Shopping for unique art is fun and a great way to spend a weekend afternoon. Who knows what treasure you may find!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Marketplace Preview: All About Art

It's so close one can feel it in the air, tingling with anticipation. The 6th Annual Boston Handmade Marketplace in Union Square Somerville is less than three weeks away! Come see the original, unique, and diverse array of ALL LOCAL exhibitors and arts organizations at our summer celebration of handmade: Saturday, July 13th from 3-7pm. While you're there, buy some art!

Mermaid Octopus, a watercolor and ink illustration by Sepia Lepus.

National Public Radio recently produced a story advocating for investing in visual art. According to their featured expert (a former successful Wall Street portfolio manager who now consults with clients about art as an alternative asset), "Fine art has a proven track record as a good choice during hard times. It outperforms in times of economic turmoil and trouble. It has outperformed during all of the wars of the 20th century. It's outperformed during the last 27 recessions." So if that's not enough to persuade you that real art made by real artists is something you should bring home and put on your walls instead of that old, faded Monet poster you bought in college, let the artists of the Boston Handmade Marketplace turn your head with their incredible talent...

Handmade art, original illustrations, and prints by Monkey Chow.  

Fine art photography by K Hawkins Photography.
Original artwork Dana Garczewski of The Patterned Peacock.

In addition to the independent artists exhibiting their work at the 2013 Boston Handmade Marketplace we are delighted to present Somerville master printmaker Carolyn Muskat who will be exhibiting her artwork along with several other artists from the professional lithography studio and gallery that she owns and operates, Muskat Studios.

Carolyn Muskat working in her Somerville studio, Muskat Studios.

The 2013 Boston Handmade Marketplace is: One-of-a-kind, limited edition, unique, fun. Live music, DIY activities, craft demonstrations. For all these reasons and more, make Union Square Somerville your destination on Saturday, July 13th.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Join Boston Handmade Artists at Boston Bazaar Bizarre June 23rd

By Diane of Lady Dye Fiber Arts & Design

It's that time of year again as local artists and crafters begin their summer with selling and marketing their work. As a member of Boston Handmade, I am thrilled to join my fellow BHer, Karen Mahoney of City by the Sea Ceramics in this years Boston Bazaar Bizarre at Union Square in Somerville on Sunday, June 23rd from noon to 6:00 PM. About 50 local independent vendors, activities, charities, and bands will set up on the plaza in Union Square to sell their unique, handmade goods, and to entertain the crowd throughout the day.

Check out Karen's amazing work!

Check out Lady Dye Fiber Arts & Design yarns!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Marketplace Preview: Jewelry

The countdown to our 6th annual Boston Handmade Marketplace continues, and today we spotlight the handmade jewelery that will be on view and ready to go home with you on Saturday, July 13 from 3-7pm in Union Square, Somerville...

Gold plated chainmaille bracelet in a byzantine weave design with a handcrafted heart shaped clasp by Linkouture
Linkouture jewelry features handcrafted elegant chaimaille jewelry for the modern woman. Of her handmade jewelry artist Bev Feldman says, "For as long as I can remember, I have always loved making jewelry... In the past few years I fell in love with making chainmaille. I adore the look and feel of it and the process of making it." Bev's love of the materials she chooses to work with shines through in every piece she creates. To see more of Linkouture's work check out her Etsy shop:

Handcrafted jewelry by Prunella's Workshop
The artists of Prunella's Workshop create metal jewelry and clothing accessories inspired by the oral traditions of fairy tales and folk lore. This husband and wife team specializes in metal smithing handcrafted jewelry and accessories in silver, copper, and/or bronze, "We have a love of the past, and a fascination with the many similarities ancient jewelry has to the current fashion in jewelry. Some of our work strives to be as authentic as possible to the period whence it originated, while other pieces are mere inspirations from the past with a modern flair." Learn more about their work and their process on their website:

Bracelets from Lush Beads Industrial
Liz Stewart of Lush Beads is an incredible talent who can create stunning, contemporary jewelry out of the least likely suspects, her latest series: Lush Beads Industrial made from new and repurposed hardware. These bracelets, necklaces, and earrings are both inventive and beautiful and you are guaranteed to have never seen anything like them before, "The sleek and modern all-metallic look is great for men and women." and to see her full line of industrial jewelry visit:

See these local artists and more at the 6th annual Boston Handmade Marketplace in Union Square, Somerville on Saturday, July 13 from 3-7pm. Be there, be engulfed in real art and craft made by real artists and craftspeople.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Workspace Wednesday: Enchanted Hue

"Workspace Wednesday" is a feature on the Boston Handmade blog where we get a rare glimpse into the creative space of artists and craftspeople. This week, the workspace of enchantedhue...

"I work mainly in my kitchen for preparing dyes and applying them to silk. It is a bit of a messy process, and I need running water and lots of space. Sometimes I move from counter top to floor when preparing a piece."

"The pot on the left is reserved for extracting dyes from plant material. It is just the right size and non-reactive, which is important. At the moment, it holds a good amount of onion skins that are almost done soaking before I can start straining the skins and boiling the dye... The bowl on the right holds chopped up red cabbage. I just set it up this morning and it will have to soak for a few days until it yields the right shade of purple I am hoping to achieve... My elder son said to a friend once: 'There is always something cooking in my mom's kitchen - but rarely is it food' "

To see Susanne's finished silk scarves and home accessories visit her Etsy shop:

Monday, June 17, 2013

Monday Mosaic: Beach Days

1. Black Beach Stone Bracelet, Linkouture
2. Market/Beach tote - Vintage barkcloth with a tropical vibe, Stray Notions
3. Dog Collar in Oceans, Cody's Creations
4. Brant Point Sunset- Nantucket, MA- 5x7- Photo Print, Lucie Wicker Photography

Friday, June 14, 2013

Why Handmade: Customer Service, Part 1

by Lynn Mohney of Prunella’s Workshop

Viewer checking out Boston Handmade member artwork at ArcWorks Gallery. Paper quilts by Jessica Burko and ceramics by Arthur Halvorsen.
I have a confession to make. I was not always a stay at home mom/jewelry designer. I used to have one of those stifling 9 to 5 sit in a horrible cubicle office jobs working for an HMO. In fact, I have worked for two of them. I worked in departments called Member Appeals and Grievances. If that sounds horrid, it is because it was. When you called your insurance company demanding that they reconsider authorizing upcoming cosmetic surgery, you spoke to me. When you called to complain because you had requested the Customer Service Department mail you an ID card ten times with no success, you screamed at me. When you called crying because you thought your doctor had insulted you, you cried to me. I did this type of work for fifteen years, when most lasted a year maybe two at the most.

Why am I telling you this? Certainly not to discuss your insurance coverage. You should call your insurance company for that. No. I am telling you that because it is the best way that I can show that perhaps customer service, and not jewelry design, is my expertise. At the end of the day our businesses as professional artists would flop if we did not provide good customer service. A good company knows that they are their customers. The customer service skills I learned can apply to most any customer situation.

These are my tips I have picked up over the last 20 years in which I have held one sort of customer service job or another. I have been called every bad name in the book and some inventive ones, so it takes quite the nasty customer to ruffle my feathers, so to speak. This week I will focus on the person providing the customer service, but next week I am going to turn the tables and discuss what makes a good customer.

The customer is not always right. Yup, I just said that. They can be dead wrong, in fact. However, that does not give us permission to make them feel stupid. Sometimes it is prudent to let them be right even though you are biting your tongue so hard you expect it will bleed. For example, if a customer is adamant that they know more about your product than you do, and have made the decision to walk away, let them. They are more likely to just quietly move on and say no more. Always assess the damage of correcting them. You do not want bad publicity. That said, sometimes correcting a customer’s misconception can be a fantastic educational opportunity if presented in a way that does not belittle their knowledge or lack thereof and may even bring in a sale.

Liz of Lush Beads in her shop; Photo Courtesy of Prunella's Workshop

Smile, it increases your face value. Even when speaking on the phone, it changes the tone to your voice sounding more open and friendly. Your smile will make you more approachable and more engaging to your potential customer. If you do not feel like smiling, smile anyway. It is amazing, but if you continue to smile long enough it will no longer be forced and you can actually put yourself in a better mood.
Be professional. Avoid slang and foul language. You are not your customer’s new best friend. You can be open and friendly without being overly personal. Respect your customer’s physical space. Even when I am assisting a customer trying on a necklace I am cognizant that they may not want me to be touching them unless it is unavoidable. It is not personal when they walk away without buying anything. It can be hard, but do not take it personally.

Dress professionally. This does not mean you need to wear a suit, unless your product suggests that you should wear one. It means your clothes should be clean and fit you appropriately. They should correspond with your product. You want your customer to take you and your business seriously. You cannot expect them to pay a high price for something if you showed up in your pajamas- unless of course you are selling pajamas!

Photo Courtesy of Prunella's Workshop

Be patient. Most likely you will not encounter many customers who are actually yelling at you at a craft fair, though anything is of course possible. However, in the world of online selling, there is an increased chance of miscommunication, especially due to lack of information. Keeping a customer in the loop can help a negative interaction, but ultimately they do from time to time happen. If a customer is yelling at you, the natural inclination is to allow your blood pressure to rise and you start yelling right back. This does not work. It is not easy, but take a deep breath and lower your voice into a calm soothing tone. The louder the other person yells the lower your voice should get. As you lower your voice your blood pressure will go down and you will be able to think reasonably. In the mean time one of two things will happen. Either your customer will feel ridiculous because they are the only one yelling, or they will realize they cannot hear you over all the racket they are making. Allow them time to regain their composure and offer no negative judgment to their behavior. They already are aware. Try not to take their rant personally. Some of my best long-term customers started off with them yelling at me for ten minutes straight. When they could not go on without catching their breath, I would acknowledge that they were mad and why, note that they must feel better to get that off their chest, and I would then ask them if they would allow me to help fix the matter. This simple acknowledgement can apply to any customer service situation.

It is easier to keep a customer than it is to obtain new customers. Why do you think companies call you and try to keep you as a customer when you cancel their service? No matter how unhappy you are, it is a hassle to find a new company who may be worse. Offered the right carrot and you may decide to stick it out. However, do not grovel to keep a dissatisfied customer. Always apologize, but never more than once. The first time you are being polite and acknowledging where they are coming from, but if you apologize constantly you begin to sound incompetent and weak. It is possible to apologize without taking blame. “I am sorry that you feel this has happened to you. I want to try to help you resolve this so you are satisfied.” Listen carefully- these words do not even acknowledge that something even happened, and you have left the ultimate resolution of the issue on their shoulders, while empathizing with them and offering help. You also have not guaranteed anything that you might not be able to do!

Cody's Creations; Photo Courtesy of Kerry Hawkins

Steer the conversation. We have all had that customer who just will not be quiet and go away. They are not going to buy anything. They just want to chit chat. Be careful. It is really easy to want to brush them off so they will go away so you can focus on real customers. They might not buy anything, but they may have a friend. They may see something while they are chatting, walk away and bring back that friend to meet that really nice artist they have been speaking with, and the friend may buy something. More times that will not happen, but we do not want to discourage that possibility. Still, we do need them to go away so we can be available for paying customers. It can be tricky. Redirect the conversation back to your product when ever possible. It can be a subtle reminder that you are here to work. It also keeps them focused and looking at your product. It could even result in reminding them they have a gift giving occasion coming up and they become a paying customer. We do not know what is going on in their heads as they are speaking to us.

These are only some tips that I felt were particularly pertinent to the professional artist. Stay tuned for Part 2 next week, when I discuss being a good customer.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Marketplace preview: Textiles

The 6th annual Boston Handmade Marketplace is happening one month from today! We are gearing up, building our inventory, and getting excited to share what we make, and HOW we make it, with you. One thing you can count on from Boston Handmade (free of charge with every purchase) is a bit of education and inspiration. We LOVE what we do, and we want to share that love with you. During our July 13th Marketplace you will see many of our exhibitors crafting throughout the day, and some will be providing materials and instruction to get you started on your own creative journey.

In the context of the Boston Handmade Marketplace "textiles" refers to handmade goods created from materials such as cloth, thread, and yarn, that were made by sewing, knitting, and/or crocheting. If you haven't yet explored the vast world of textiles, allow this to be a brief introduction, and check out the textile artists at the Marketplace to get enveloped in the beauty of it all...

Chevron bag by Abigail Leigh Handbags
If you're looking for fun accessories to accent your wardrobe and give as gifts, visit Abby of Abigail Leigh Handbags who says of her bright, whimsical creations, "I search out fabric stores for great new fabrics and remnants... My love of handbags is what got me started sewing them. I want to create adorable, fun wristlets and handbags in home decor fabrics."

Pillow by Trope Pillows
Seeking textiles for the home? Be sure to see Trope Pillows lovingly made by Lauren Teller who infuses them with meaning and expression, explaining that "By using embroidery, machine stitching, and fabric applique I combine the tropes and techniques of traditional female home-based arts into my own art form. I am drawn to these techniques both because of their tactile and expressive qualities, and because these humble domestic crafts are for me the perfect vehicle to express the issues of personal growth that inform my work."

Shibori tied silk scarf by Enchanted Hue
Applying her talents to both wearable and decorative textiles, Susanne of Enchanted Hue makes Shibori and handpainted silk that she sews into pillow covers or fashions into wearable wraps of many sizes and types with colors absorbed from the natural world, "Colors, textures, and patterns found in nature are the main inspiration for my designs. Most dyes used in my Shibori pieces are derived from plant material collected locally."

Fingering weight yarn by Lady Dye Fiber Arts
Also hand-painted at the Marketplace will be yarn made by Diane of Lady Dye Fiber Arts, " eco-friendly fiber arts business that creates vibrant and colorful hand-painted yarns and accessories that are street art inspired."

Members of the Common Cod Fiber Guild knitting at the 2012 Boston Handmade Marketplace
Wondering what to do with all that beautiful yarn? Pull up a chair with the Common Cod Fiber Guild and let them show you the difference between knitting and crochet, the magic of a drop spindle, and how to create almost anything with a couple of sticks and your own two hands.

A view of The Stitch House of Dorchester
For additional creative inspiration and activities, hang out with Annissa of Stitch House for knitting fun, and make your own yarn pom pom! With a simple and fun technique you can adorn hats, mittens and more with adorable pom poms. While you're there, check out info on craft classes held at their Dorchester shop, and browse finished knitted and sewn items on display.

Handmade clothing by Margaret DeBruin
But whatever you do, don't forget the children! If you want to make those cute kids even cuter, see Margaret DeBruin and her one-of-a-kind clothing for babies and toddlers, "I use brightly colored recycled and vintage fabrics to make light cotton and heavy winter hats. I love the way they make me smile every time I see a baby wearing one. Recently, I added sun hats, dresses, hoodies, mittens and other accessories to my line, also made from recycled fabrics."

Check back soon for another sneak peek at all the handmade joy that will be yours to take home at the July 13th Boston Handmade Marketplace in Union Square, Somerville.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Why Handmade: Special Family Edition, An Interview with Susanne Guirakhoo of Enchanted Hue

by Lynn Mohney of Prunella’s Workshop

Our families and our upbringing can have great impact on who we are as artists as well as the future artists we may create and inspire. Every once in a while I plan to interview an artist regarding art in their family, both current and growing up, to shed light on the different places artists come from.

Recently I had the pleasure of cyber interviewing Susanne Guirakhoo of Enchanted Hue, and one of our very own Boston Handmade members. She creates exquisite dyed silks in colors that are truly enchanting. Upon meeting Susanne a few weeks ago, I can tell you she is as elegant in person as her beautifully dyed fabrics. However, she also has a wonderful sense of humor that is thoroughly enjoyable! I hope you enjoy her interview as much as I have.

Would you describe your family to be creative/handmade/artistic?

Definitely! My mother was always baking (I include baking here because her pastries and cakes were true pieces of art), sewing, painting, doing one handicraft or the other. My father also painted. I had a great-aunt who sewed the most adorable stuffed animals. My favorite was a blue floppy dog-kind of thing. It was called ‘Schlappi’ (‘Floppy’ in English). I lost him on a ski lift. Remember the trauma to this day!

Gingerbread Mansion by Susanne Guirakhoo of Enchanted Hue

Was there a particular family member who inspired you to pursue your craft based upon their craft?

Seeing their parents being creative naturally rubs off on the children. My brother and I were encouraged to use our imagination. I remember winning a Lego kitchen in a contest where you had to draw your dream house. This was back in the early 70s, and Legos were still quite simple. My mother shared her Fimo dough with me (she was working on some decorations), and I made elaborate, tiny cakes, breads, vegetables, fruit, plates, cups, and other things out of it and decorated them with seed beads.

My mother was an accomplished seamstress. She never taught me how to sew, but the idea that you can make whatever garment you imagine was always in my head. In my late teens, I was into sewing for a while, but I didn’t pursue it further.

Was there someone outside your family who introduced you to crafting? If so, how?

My sons’ friends’ mother is a jewelry maker. While the boys were on a play date once, she showed me her work space and how to string beads, attach clasps, use crimp beads, etc. I found that fascinating and read a few articles on that topic.

One of my best friends and her husband are very interested in gemstones and their properties, and I learned quite a bit from them. I combined these two interests and started designing gemstone jewelry, at first with gemstone properties in mind.

I am from Vienna, Austria, and painting on silk was very popular there in the 80s. I don’t remember how it first started and who introduced me to it, but I found myself somehow with a frame (which I still use today) and a few pieces of silk and lots of dyes. My technique changed over the years and I learned others, from the traditional, precise outlining to snow dyeing, compost dyeing, Shibori, and natural dyes. That’s what I love about it so much: the great versatility.

Self Portrait Scarf by Susanne Guirakhoo of Enchanted Hue

I stumbled upon Kimberly Baxter Packwood’s website. She is a textile artist specializing in natural dyes. The results she achieved with plant matter and her unique methods were fascinating to me, and I started researching more and experimenting with it. This is the craft that held my concentration the longest. Not that I get bored, but I like things that give serendipitous results and turn out differently, even if going through the exact same process. This is also where Shibori comes in. It is predictable up to a point, but there are still surprises every time I unwrap a piece.

I have the ‘problem’ that I can pick up any craft very easily. I am intrigued by color and shape and the beauty found in nature. I will try anything and be fairly proficient at it in a short time. Pottery, stained glass, knitting, crocheting, stitching, collage, mosaic, oil and water color, baked creations (from gingerbread houses and other 3-dimensional creations to theme and fantasy cakes), furniture restoration and repurposing (I mostly rescue pieces from other people’s trash) – I have tried them all. Drives my husband crazy, because he never knows what he will come home to next, and what piece of ‘trash’ will clutter the garage.

How do you feel your family influence has affected your work? Has it been a jumping stone into something new? Or do you delight in a family tradition?

Like I mentioned, my mother was an accomplished seamstress. And I tried sewing. However, straight lines and exact measuring are not my forte, so I did not pursue that further.

Gingerbread People by Susanne Guirakhoo of Enchanted Hue

She was also a wonderful baker. Her pastries were always perfect and delicate and little pieces of art, too pretty to eat sometimes. This is something I seem to have inherited. E.g. I don’t like chocolate chip or other drop cookies, because they look sloppy. I love making cut-out sugar dough or gingerbread cookies in different shapes, depending on occasion and season. I custom mix the colors for the frosting and use different techniques of applying it. Christmas is one of my favorite seasons, because I get to make elaborate gingerbread mansions and other three dimensional creations.

Both my parents always painted the most beautiful, delicate, intricate Easter eggs. This is a tradition I continue with my boys. It’s a ceremony when we paint our eggs!

And both my parents knew how to transform an ordinary piece into something new and beautiful with a few brush strokes or gluing a piece of paper onto it or sanding it down. Imagination and seeing beyond the primary use of a piece are two of the things that have been handed down to me.

Susanne Guirakhoo's parents, and of course Susanne in the middle!

Do you feel it is our responsibility as artists to pass along our skills and knowledge to future generations? If so, how?

It is important to pass that along. Some artists are hesitant to share their techniques and materials and sources, but I think that is shooting ourselves in the foot. Everybody has a different talent, a different view, and even if we use the same materials and methods, no two pieces are alike. It is important to share and learn from each other.

One of the most valuable lessons we can give our children is open up their minds and give them tools and let them be creative in their own way.

Not everybody is good at writing blog posts or books or tutorials, at shooting instructional videos or leading workshops. All of those are great tools to share knowledge. But sometimes even watching somebody do their craft or talking about it can spark interest and might lead them to pursue that particular craft further.

How do you pass along the love of what you do to other people?

Mostly by talking about it and sharing my passion. Many times I had to explaining to my neighbors why I’m crawling through their yard collecting particular pieces of bark, why I’m sitting on their curb shoveling the last of the snow into a bucket, why there are disgusting smells coming from my kitchen, why I am burying suspicious bundles in my compost pile, or why my fingers are a particular color de jour. They are used to it by now (I think), but it always sparks a conversation.

Susanne Guirakhoo caught foraging!

I give jewelry or scarves or pillow covers as presents to my friends, and I know that they treasure them and that somewhere in Lyon or Gothenburg or Vienna a friend of theirs is asking about them and learn how they have been created.

Do you feel it is more important to pass along your specific skill set? Or a respect for craft/art in general? How can either be achieved?

I think it is more important to pass along a general respect for crafts and art. Everybody will find their own way eventually, but the more you are exposed to different areas, the more likely you are to find your particular passion. And it is always good to try new things.

I feel that I am still not at the point where I am an expert. I probably never will be. There are too many variables. But it gives me pleasure when I see a friend experiment with a simple compost dyeing project, or when my son picks up some fabric and dye and yarn and makes his own fiber art.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Marketplace Preview: Ceramics

The 6th Annual Boston Handmade Marketplace is fast approaching on Saturday, July 13 (rain date July 14), from 3-7pm. Join us for an afternoon celebration of all things art and craft including original handmade decorative and functional works by a myriad of local New England independent artists, craft demonstrations and DIY activities for people of all ages, live music from some of Boston's best local bands, and more creative fun than you can shake a knitting needle at.

This is the first preview in a series leading up to the Marketplace to give you a sneak peek on all the handmade greatness that's coming your way. Today the spotlight is on: CERAMICS.

Serving platters by City by the Sea Ceramics
City by The Sea Ceramics is making her triumphant return to the Boston Handmade Marketplace for her 4th year in a row.  Her ceramic work has Asian influences and reflects a love of teabowls and maebyongs, shino and tenmoku glazes, and surfaces with rope inlay and impression. Of her art, Karen Mahoney says, "The influences of various shapes, glazes, and techniques are blended with a comfortable, modern style, bringing the qualities I love into the homes of others and becoming part of their daily lives."

Porcelain pottery by Early Bird Designs
Early Bird Designs is new to the Boston Handmade Marketplace and represents the work of ceramic artist Jill J. Burns whose current work is made of porcelain, with handbuilt and wheel thrown parts.  Each piece she creates is inscribed with a design using a Korean technique called mishima which is a technique of carving images into the clay and inlaying with dark clay 'slip'. The delicacy of this technique is matched only by its beauty.

Ceramic mugs by Hathaway Ceramics
Also debuting at the 2013 Boston Handmade Marketplace is Hathaway Ceramics. Bringing yet another different ceramic technique to the event, Hathaway creates most of her work using a 'soda kiln'. Through the soda firing process a soda ash and water mixture is sprayed into the kiln towards the end of the firing. As explained by Ingrid Hathaway, "Each adjustment to the fuel or air supply during the firing is made through a conscious decision based on previous firing experience and a willingness to experiment with the outcome. The results are unique pieces that display an individual personality and cannot be replicated exactly from firing to firing."

Top: pottery class at Mudflat Studio. Bottom left: Samantha Wickman. Bottom right: Jennifer DeAngelis
If you haven't guessed it yet, we really love clay at Boston Handmade, and in addition to the independent ceramic artists exhibiting at the 2013 Boston Handmade Marketplace we are also honored to host Mudflat Studio whose mission is to promote and expand the appreciation of and participation in the ceramic arts. Mudflat offers classes, workshops, outreach programming and events for students of all ages, abilities, and socioeconomic backgrounds along with studio rentals which currently support 34 accomplished clay artists. At the marketplace Mudflat will be showing and selling ceramic work made by a variety of their studio artists, faculty, and staff, and they will also be doing demos and some surprise activities!

Stay tuned for additional Marketplace Previews as we get closer to the big event!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Workspace Wednesday: Abigail Leigh Handbags

"Workspace Wednesday" is a semi-weekly feature on the Boston Handmade blog where we get a rare glimpse into the creative space of artists and craftspeople...

"Here is a shot of my sewing space in my apartment. It's where I cut the fabric, pin the pieces together and sew all of my handbags and accessories. I set up my ironing board when needed and am able to see the TV while doing it all. It's the perfect set up for me until I can have an actual sewing room. Go to to see my handmade handbags and accessories."

To check out past articles featuring the workspaces of our group members visit:

Monday, June 3, 2013

Monday Mosaic: Moon, June, Spoon

1. Spiky Chestnut Pillow - embroidery embellished photo, Stray Notions
2. Night Sky Window Pendant in Sterling Silver with 18k Gold and CZ, Cristina Hurley Designs
3. Paris Café, 8 x 10 Matted Photograph, Kerry Hawkins Photography
4. Spoon Rest in Shino, Handmade Ceramic, City by the Sea Ceramics

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Local Artists at the Beacon Hill Art Walk

I cannot stop., 2013, New encaustic collage by Jessica Burko
Boston Handmade member Jessica Burko will be exhibiting her original, one-of-a-kind artwork today at the Beacon Hill Art Walk from 12-6pm. Jessica will be at location #4 on the Art Walk map, which is called Lindall Court and is situated near the intersection of Phillips and Cedar Streets.

The Beacon Hill Art Walk is an annual event that takes place annually on the first Sunday in June, throughout the nooks & crannies of Beacon Hill’s North Slope. Beacon Hill residents open up their private gardens, alleyways, and courtyards and allow artists to display and sell their artwork. It is a chance for visitors to tour the private spaces of Beacon Hill while viewing original, handmade artwork. Thousands of people attend each year. It is a free and popular event in the neighborhood, with a festive atmosphere and volunteer musicians playing in various gardens throughout the day. Around 100 artists will be participating, with a variety of styles, media, and subject matter. For more information visit the website:

The event will occur whether rain, shine, or heat wave. So grab an ice tea and support your local artists!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Art of Gratitude

by Jessica Burko

Thank you card by Monkey Chow
I recently received two very unexpected handwritten thank you notes: one from my dental hygienist, and one from the saleslady at the local lingerie store. This definitely got me thinking about gratitude along with when, why, and how people express it. I am grateful for many things in my life, both personal and professional (including clean teeth and a well fitting brassiere), but I definitely don't say thank you as much as I should, and I don't send thank you notes as much as I could. In an effort to do both with increased frequency, I commissioned Boston Handmade member Aaron Kovalcsik of Monkey Chow to create a set of thank you cards that I could send on behalf of Boston Handmade to the many people who help our group support local artists and craftspeople in countless ways. Thank you Aaron for creating such a perfect note card for us!

As you consider sending some thank you cards of your own, check out Aaron's online shop, and also the work of these other local Boston-area artists:

Letterpress Thank You Card by BiMPRESSED

Origami Paper Crane Thank You card by Sarah Coyne's Egg-A-Go-Go

Merci Danke Thanks Grazie Card by Zoetropa
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...