Saturday, August 31, 2013

Product debut: The Boston Collar

by Kerrie Beck of Cody's Creations

You know your pup wants to show how much they love Boston too!  Lush parks, plenty of dog friendly establishments, and plenty of great trails to check out – there is a lot to love about Boston.  The Boston skyline silhouette contrasts against pink or blue.  This is one of Cody's Creations exclusive collars that debuted this year. 

The Boston Collar is available online, and a portion of every Boston Collar will be donated to the One Fund

Friday, August 30, 2013

Why Handmade: School and Learning

by Lynn Mohney of Prunella’s Workshop

It is that time of year again when the kids all go back to school. Even before I had children of my own, I would get that nagging itch every September that there was something I was supposed to be doing. It is natural, considering I spent about seventeen years of my life in school. Despite it being another seventeen years since I have been a full time student, I still feel I should have gotten on the school bus this morning with all of the kids!

Photo by Lynn Mohney of Prunella's Workshop

Perhaps we are not getting on school buses, or attending college, but that does not mean we cannot further our education and learn something new! We can teach an old dog new tricks, and it is never too late to learn something new. Maybe sign up for a class either through community education or a college course. Get together with a friend and share knowledge. Or try something new on your own!

To celebrate returning to school, I have personally decided that it is time to learn some new stone setting techniques in metal. I have surrounded myself with books on stone setting as well as instructional videos. Most importantly, I am taking the skills I already know and using them in new and different ways, stretching myself to accomplish something new. I already have the simple bezel setting firmly under my belt, and I am working towards what is known as the prong setting. The best part? It is going horribly so far. I have made several mistakes, and I have had to start over twice so far. I could consider this a success, because with every mistake I have made, I have learned what I do not want to do in the future, and I have narrowed down to ideas that will hopefully work. I am not there yet, but I am far from giving up at this point. I know when I finally succeed I will have conquered this technique which will open the door to new designs.

Photo by Lynn Mohney of Prunella's Workshop

That is not all I am doing, though. I am also continuing my education regarding the art of silverpoint, the method of drawing using silver that was used by masters such as da Vinci and Michelangelo. I will further explore the art of enameling as well. I started this learning about a year ago, and it is an ongoing endeavor. I am also hoping to address engraving later in the year, or even next year. I continue to expand my knowledge any way I can so that I can better myself and become a well-rounded person.

When we do not expand our abilities, we become stale. Learning a new technique in our medium or learning a new medium can improve the work that we always do. There is nothing worse than a bored artist, as it produces lackluster work. Playing with something new entices the creative juices and opens the doors to the unlimited possibilities out there.

Photo by Lynn Mohney of Prunella's Workshop

What are you doing this fall? Are you just doing the same old thing with no new inspiration? Or are you going to strike out and try to learn something new?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Monday Mosaic: Make it Personal


Looking for the perfect gift or addition to your home? Why not try something personalized just for you or those you love. Many members of Boston Handmade create custom work, check out these items and please inquire about custom work from all of our members.

1. Banner Letters: Build Your Own Banner, Any Word or Message, The Patterned Peacock
2. One custom illustration - finished within two weeks - two to five characters, Monkey Chow
3. Custom Hand embroidered hoop-wedding, birth announcement, engagement, new house, etc, Stray Notions
4. Initial Pendant Any Letter Blackened and Hammered Silver Disc on Chain, Cristina Hurley

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Dedham Square Artist Guild, a beginning

By Kerry Hawkins

I am a co-founder of the Dedham Square Artist Guild. I also show my photography in the Guild and also do it's marketing. The Guild is coming up on being open for 2 years in October of this year. A party is now being planned. The Guild sprang out of Dedham Open Studios, now in it's third year and happening October 6th.

I started with placing art from Dedham Open Studios artists in empty store fronts in Dedham. A rare thing in Dedham. One of the spaces I displayed art in became the Guild Gallery. It was a risky venture considering the economy and the reconstruction of Dedham Square. The Guild is also the first gallery in Dedham Square. With the help of artists and the community, we are the little gallery that could.

The gallery is a cooperative of local 24 artists with many from Dedham. Many of the artists take on rolls and put time in helping the gallery run. The gallery is a place to give artists a venue to show their work and enrich the community.  The Guild has many forms of art including jewelry, painting, glass, fabric, monotypes, photography and more... The gallery also has a roving gallery program, where art is on display at local businesses on a rotating basis. It is great to see local art in downtown Dedham.

It has been wonderful to be part of this gallery. Meeting artists and talking with people about art. Since we have started the gallery much more art is happening in Dedham, from the opening of the Mother Brook Art and Community Center to the Dedham Public Art Project.

There are two recent "call to artists" that I would like you to know about.

Call to Artists, The Guild's Artist Challenge, Making Waves, due by Sept 10th. Link here

Call to Artists, Dedham Open Studios, Deadline September 1st to be included on the map. Link here

Friday, August 23, 2013

Why Handmade: Keeping your work safe

by Lynn Mohney at Prunella’s Workshop

As a professional artist, you try to be in your workspace every day, but you still have life obligations that you must fulfill. You leave for a couple of hours and when you return you hear the dreadful sound of Niagara Falls, and you find an inch of water on your floor. A brand new pipe has burst. You calmly turn off the water to the building, but then you face that dreadful question in the pit of your stomach. What has been ruined?

Prunella's Workshop during the clean up

This is exactly what happened at Prunella’s Workshop a few weeks ago. I am not the tidiest of people, and everything seemed to be everywhere. However, I lost nothing. Not one tool was destroyed as it was all safely off the floor. Wheels or legs raised the floor equipment. Even the portfolios of watercolor still life paintings and drawings were protected. Pure luck? Probably. However it was a solid reminder that no amount of insurance would cover the time lost had my work been destroyed. It is hard to recreate a still life from 20 years ago.

How do we keep our time and investment safe from disaster? Is it even possible to protect our work from every possible scenario? Probably not. However, we can make certain that our work is not damaged when avoidable.

1.  Research proper storage for your finished work. You know the materials you are using, and you should know what elements would cause the most damage. For example, using my own near disaster, silver could have sat in water for quite some time safely; however water is not particularly good for paper. Drawings and paintings that were on paper were not only stored in a nearly waterproof portfolio. They also were properly matted. This protected the paper from dog-ears and wrinkles over time, and water only got as far as the matte board, which is much more easily replaced.

Tool chest keeps tools off the ground and organized - Prunella's Workshop

2.  If a great quantity of your work is electronic, have back ups. Have back ups of your back ups. Have your work backed up in another location. A thumb drive is fantastic, but it will not help you if both your computer and the drive are damaged at the same time.

3.  When appropriate, store supplies in dry plastic tubs. This is especially useful for textiles such as fabric and yarn. Plastic tubs can be stored directly on the floor, which is an added advantage.

4.   Be aware of storage that can actually be damaging to your work. For example, over time certain acids, etc., can be damaging to paper goods. Certain types of containers can cause some types of metal to tarnish.

5.  If possible, keep items off the ground that can suffer water damage.

6.  Protect your tools by putting them away when they are not in use. Steel tools can rust over time if kept in a damp area.

Neat and tidy way to keep tools safe - Prunella's Workshop

7.  Get a dehumidifier, or keep your work in a temperature-controlled area. Temperature changes also can be damaging to certain types of work.

8.  If your work is fragile, such as ceramic, porcelain, glass, etc., properly keep it secured in paper, bubble wrap, or some other packing material.

9.  Make certain that you take all necessary safety precautions with tools. Anything that may cause a fire should be properly turned off when you are no longer working.

These are just some suggestions. There is probably truly no way to completely protect your work from every possible catastrophe out there, but every precaution taken reduces the risk of heartache later. Do not wait for something to happen; be prepared!

We'd love to hear any studio safety tips that you utilize - please add your recommendations to the comments!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Where to Shop Handmade in Boston and Beyond

For those who love all things handmade and want to support the local creative economy: we made this for you! The members of Boston Handmade got together and brainstormed a list of our favorite brick and mortar shops that carry work made by local artists and craftspeople, and the talented Dana Garczewski of The Patterned Peacock designed a printable PDF to share all the details.

To get your very own copy of this extraordinary guide simply join our mailing list or subscribe to our Arts Opportunities Newsletter and we will send you the PDF as a thank you gift. With the guide you can gather your friends for an old fashioned craft crawl, and you'll never be at a loss for unique handmade goods ever again!

Do you have a favorite place to shop handmade in Massachusetts? Let us know and we can add it to our next shopping guide!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Monday Mosaic: Summer Lights

1. iPad 2 & 3 case sleeve cover padded Teal Purple Lanterns, Abigail Leigh Handbags
2. Brant Point Sunset- Nantucket, MA- 5x7- Photo Print, Lucie Wicker Photography
3. Lamps, Baden Baden, Germany, 8x10 matted photo, Kerry Hawkins Photography
4. Lights Over Left Field- 5x7- Photo Print, Lucie Wicker Photography

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Many Hats of Online Sellers

By Susanne of enchantedhue

As I delete yet another batch of product photos gone horribly wrong from my camera, I realize something:

I am a fiber artist.

I am not a photographer. Neither am I a copy writer nor an SEO specialist nor a PR professional. I certainly am not a market analyst or a book keeper. Not a product stylist or a shipping agent. Not a website designer. Not a customer service representative. No degree in Marketing or Advertising hanging on my walls.

"Many Hats" by Laura from LULU Art

Yet as the owners of online shops, we need to be all of the above. We have to learn by experience. By trial and error. Many errors! By communicating with other members of the community. By sharing advice and comparing techniques. By joining teams and associations where we can learn more and find support.

Having an online shop is not a cute hobby or an easy way to make money. It is hard work, has a steep learning curve, and takes lots of patience and even more time.

But in what other job do you get to wear so many different hats? What other job takes you out of your comfort zone and area of expertise on a daily basis? It certainly never gets boring. Frustrating sometimes, yes, but never boring.

Still, I am not a photographer! And I have the fuzzy pictures to prove it!

(please note that the background, however, is perfectly sharp!)

Friday, August 9, 2013

Why Handmade: Prunella’s Anniversary

by Lynn Mohney of Prunella’s Workshop

A year ago my family made a very big decision. We decided that I would leave my office job and pursue my career choice to be a professional artist full time. Prunella’s Workshop existed prior, but between full time jobs and family obligations, it was admittedly an after thought going nowhere big. I cannot tell you the date when Prunella’s Workshop went from non-existence to reality. I can tell you on August 3, 2013, I said goodbye to a world of shuffling paper in an office cubicle and moved into the world of handmade.

Therefore, it is our anniversary.

Princess - Sterling silver necklace with rhodochrosite quartz by Prunella's Workshop

It is not an easy world. Self-employment requires a lot of self-discipline. It can be easier to allow one’s self to be distracted by social media games. Working from home means you have to structure your time and make it clear to family members that you are at work right now, and cannot do the laundry any more than you could have when you drove into the office. The only difference is, the washing machine is right next to my jeweler’s bench taunting me. I never leave work, which means if I do allow myself a few minutes to be unproductive I may feel guilty later.

Being self-employed is also very rewarding. I set my own hours, and my schedule is flexible around family needs. (I can stop and do the laundry!) There is autonomy and choice regarding product that you do not have when you work for someone else. I set my goals. I determine my dreams. Every bit of work I do pushes me closer to making those goals and dreams a reality. It is not a 40-hour a week drain of my life-it is my life.

Prunella's Workshop; Photo by Lynn Mohney

I did not only leave the corporate world to be my own boss, however. I left to pursue my art. I wanted to create things with my very own hands. I delight in seeing my hard work being worn by a customer. Several years ago I made a special piece for a customer I met at an event. Every year I return to the event I see my customer wearing his pendant, and he shows it to me with pride. I look forward to this brief moment. It completes my purpose in creating my work. I create because I am programmed to create – When I am not making the ideas in my head I am miserable. That alone can be reason enough to approach the workspace and make new product. However, when I see my work being enjoyed by others, I know the piece has transcended into something special, making the world around me just that much better than it had been before. I have shared a part of myself with strangers and made them happier.

Her Lips were as Red as Blood- sterling silver with glass cabochon; by Prunella's Workshop

I am proud to be part of the movement away from mass produced items to a simpler way of life. I think we lost something when we moved towards big corporations and away from the small businesses. There is so much more fulfillment in my life now as a professional artist. I will not lie and say there have been no bumps in the road. It has been a very thrilling ride, though, and I’m not ready to get out of the car yet! 

Mad as a Hatter - Copper ring with jasper cabochon; by Prunella's Workshop

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Product Debut: iPad and E-reader Pillow Stand

by Abby Bohn of Abigail Leigh Handbags  

My latest items in the shop are iPad and E-reader pillow stands.  The case I have for my iPad is supposed to "stand up" but it doesn't.  I found this pattern for a pillow stand for my iPad and thought it was perfect and of course I wanted to share them with everyone.  I mostly use this to sit my iPad up to watch movies or if I'm spending the day sewing I just prop it up with the radio on.

Check out my Etsy shop for more fabrics.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Why Handmade: Here Comes Baby

by Bev Feldman of Linkouture
Just a little over a week ago the world watched as Prince William and Kate Middleton proudly introduced to the world their little bundle of joy, Prince George. As Jessica showed us in Wednesday's post there's not shortage of handmade goodies for babies out there!
I am currently pregnant with my first child (and coincidentally, my mother was pregnant with me the same time Princess Di was pregnant with Prince William). As a maker myself, you can bet this baby of mine will be donning the finest in handmade baby gear that local makers have to offer.
A few weeks ago I braved the heat and had attended ArtBeat in Davis Square, one of my all-time favorite local arts festivals. I have been going to the show nearly every year since moving to the Boston area nearly ten years ago. For perhaps the first time this year, I did not buy a single item for myself. Believe me, I was tempted. But I may or may not have gone on a handmade baby gear buying binge. (Shhh, don't tell anyone!)
For a variety of reasons, I believe strongly in buying handmade and supporting the local arts. I love the person-to-person connection I have when buying from an artist at a craft show. I get to learn their story: how and why they started their business, what brought them here, and the their process. The love and attention that goes into something that is handmade is incomparable. So it is only logical that I would want this type of love and care to go into what my baby wears. (Plus everything is so darn cute!)
Here is a sampling of some of the awesomeness that I was able to score for future Baby Feldman.

I met Johanna Parker of Kaya's Kloset initially at the Beverly Arts Festival in June. I was immediately smitten with her teeny tiny footwear (but she makes them for adults, too!) and knew I had to come back once I found out if my baby was a boy or a girl. Johanna was inspired to start making these adorable booties years ago when her daughter, Kaya, then a baby, kept kicking off her socks. I'm sure I will be stockpiling more of these adorable little shoes, both for my little one and to give as baby presents.

Several years ago when my husband and I went to ArtBeat he purchased the adult version of this shirt for himself from bit & little bit. I already thought it was a really incredible shirt with a great message, so when I saw the baby version of it I knew we had to have a matching one for our babe. (And really, what dad wouldn't want to wear a matching outfit with his baby?)

At my first Greenway Open Market show this summer I was stationed next to Beth Rosa of Pink Pigeon Creations. Let me tell you, when you're a pregnant woman with a slight obsession with handmade items, it was really hard to resist going on a shopping spree when you're working at a craft show and you're next to someone selling handmade baby gear. I knew I would be back to purchase some of her lovely handmade baby products, which includes wet bags (like the one pictured above), burp cloths, changing pads and the most adorable hooded towels (which will definitely be going on my registry, just in case you were wondering).

Finally, I stopped Nathalie Therese's booth. I'll admit, I had an eye on her gorgeous handmade bags for myself, but resisted (for now) and purchased a matching bib, diaper bag, and swaddle wrap (not pictured) in my favorite color.
What is your favorite handmade baby or children's item? Feel free to share it in the comments below, on Twitter, or on our Facebook page!
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