Friday, August 29, 2014

Why Handmade: The Birthday Tiara

by Lynn Mohney of Prunella’s Workshop

I have been living with a two year old Dr. Princess. She hits you, and gives you a pretend shot of medicine and a kiss to make you feel better. She doesn’t wear a stethoscope because she doesn’t have one. Instead, she wears her latest tiara. You can obtain a tiara for a dollar in a variety of craft stores. They break easily, but at least they are fun. However, when Mommy is a jewelry designer/metalsmith, you really need a real tiara, right?

In the meantime, I have an online friendship with a lady who I have never met in person. She lives just far enough away, it may never happen. She received wind my daughter was in need of a stethoscope and decided she wanted to give her one as a birthday present. My friend is currently undergoing cancer treatment, and she loves the idea of encouraging young girls who have expressed any interest in the medical field. Just turns out, I love the idea of encouraging middle aged women to feel like little girl princesses again. I decided matching tiaras was in order.

Making jewelry for children to sell is a very complicated expensive process due to requirements for product safety testing- specifically lead. As such, Prunella’s Workshop refrains from making items for children. However, this does not preclude making items for my own, as I am aware of what materials I am using in my work none of which contain lead. I determined brass to be the most appropriate metal for the circumstance. I don’t work in gold, and this would be an exceptionally expensive tiara if I did. Sterling silver may yield a higher quality item, but brass would give me the gold color best suited to my design. Brass is also a harder metal, which will hopefully be more durable to the hard play of a child.

Cheap plastic tiaras made for children often have a lot of bling. I wanted a design that would appeal to the eyes of a child, but would not be so over the top there was no possible way a grown woman would be willing to wear it. I accomplished this with the gold color, and incorporating one big stone instead of one hundred faceted stones. I chose blue glass due to the rich color against the brass, and the durability of the stone. It is harder to scratch a glass stone than many semi precious stones I had available, as it is harder. I am hoping this tiara will still be around that she may give it to a daughter of her own one day. I cut and shaped small flowers for other parts of the tiara for added interest.

I still needed to be certain I made the tiara over the top enough for a little girl while remembering the matching one was for a grown woman. The band for my daughter’s fits her little head perfectly, while the other band is adult sized; however, the focal point is the exact same size in every way from the flowers to the loops to the center stone. By making them the same size, instead of scaling my daughter’s down, the child focal point appears much bigger.

Now here is where it became interesting. Both of my girls were aware I was making a tiara. I needed my friend to know why her tiara was special once she received it, and I have shared pictures of my daughter’s tiara with her. She has no reason to believe there are two. Meanwhile, I needed my daughter to understand her new tiara was more special than her old ones. I didn’t let her see it, but I let her know I was going to go work on it again. The excitement in her voice has been priceless.

I had never made a headpiece before, but I am quite pleased with the results. I believe I will be making more in the future, as all women should feel like a princess on occasion. In the mean time, the only thing that would make this project better is if I had a picture of the princesses together!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Handmaking a Banner or Sign for your Craft Business

by Laurie Lynn of Beryllina

Beryllina's new handmade banner!
I needed a new sign for my booth at craft shows that would clearly describe my work to passersby while enhancing the look of my booth. At a craft show earlier this year, I had the pleasure of having my booth next to fellow Boston Handmade member, Leanne Tremblay of Loomination, who had recently made her own sign for her booth. In addition to being inspired by Leanne's work, I was pleased by the idea that I could have an eco-friendly sign (unlike most banners that are vinyl - very UNeco-friendly), that would also fit the overall vibe of my booth, which includes unbleached cotton tablecloths, dark wood cases, a tree earring display, and purple accents! Though it took a few days to make the banner, I am so glad that I did it.

Here are the materials I used:

  • thick canvas or fabric (5 feet long by approximately 28" wide)
  • 5/8" dowels (quantity 3)
  • duct tape (to attach dowels to achieve correct length)
  • hemp string
  • acrylic craft paint (one 2 ounce bottle)
I also used the following:
  • sewing machine
  • scissors
  • iron
  • pins
  • small saw (for cutting dowels to proper length)
  • pencil
  • computer with design program (I used photoshop)
  • projector
  • ruler
  • paintbrush
Starting with the thick cotton canvas (which I had leftover from the haybale-covers we made for the seating at our wedding!), I determined how far I would need to fold over each side to loosely encase a 5/8" dowel. I ironed and pinned this fold in place, all except for the last eight inches or so on each end.

In this unpinned area, I sewed a buttonhole on each corner (on the fabric that was to be folded over to encase the dowel), so I will be able to easily slip the dowel in and out as needed. This will make it handy for packing and bringing to shows! After sewing the buttonholes, I sewed the hem along the top and bottom, as well as the hem on the sides.

Using dowels to hold the banner are a trick I learned from my mother who is a quilter: a dowel across the top AND bottom will keep the fabric hanging straight and smooth with no weird wrinkles or puckers, and it will help hold it down during windy craft shows! Since the length of the banner was longer than one dowel, I cut the third dowel to make the additional length necessary and duct-taped the cut section on to each full size one. I drilled a hole in each end of both dowels, and inserted and tied a short piece of hemp string. I will attach either hooks or additional string to these loops, depending on how or where I would like to hang it (which may vary from show to show).

Once I had the banner fully sewn, I hung it up on my wall and used a projector to project the image for my banner which I had created in Photoshop. 

Next, I traced the projected image onto the canvas using a pencil with a light touch, and I used a ruler for the straight sections of tracing. I pressed the banner against the wall to trace, which meant that when returning after short rests for my wrists (tracing on a wall is more tiring than you can imagine!), I had to realign the traced sections before beginning to trace again. This ensured that there was no weird misalignment of sections!

Once the entire image had been traced, it was time for the fun part: painting! I was quite nervous about this. Using purple acrylic craft paint on white cotton muslin meant there was no room for mistakes. One drip or mis-brush and it could be ruined! 

Painting was very time consuming, since I proceeded very carefully and cautiously. It was well worth the time though, as I am absolutely over the moon with my finished banner. Handmade, eco-friendly, and perfectly aligned with my business, jewelry, and overall style. Stop by one of my upcoming shows to see my new banner in action!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Monday Mosaic: Nesting, Migratory Patterns of Boston

curated by Sharon Fischer, Stray Notions

'Tis the season.  No, not that season.  'Tis the season and specifically the week, when the streets are jammed with Uhaul trucks, the curbs are filled with discards (or perhaps upcyclable treasures?), the pizza joints can't keep up with the delivery requests. The students are coming, returning or simply moving. I'm sure there's some statistic about the number of apartments that turn over on September 1st but we don't really need that to know, do we? After the trip to the box store of choice you may find your nest "fully-equipped" but lacking in charm and personal touches -- we're here for you, with original art for your walls, handmade dishes and mugs for your morning coffee, even a cozy place to to rest your tablet. Check out some handmade goodies to truly make your house, dorm room or apartment your home.

1. Baker's Kitchen Art Print, The Patterned Peacock
2. Yellow White Vintage Floral Tablet Pillow Stand, AbigailLeigh
3. Hosta Flower photo mug (11oz), JBarrows
4. Espresso Set, teapot, espresso cup, coffee -- Faux Bois pattern, Early Bird Designs

Monday, August 18, 2014

Monday Mosaic: Is It Too Early To Think About The Holidays?

curated by Susanne of enchantedhue

Assemblage Found Computer Parts Victorian Girls Clock by Melsplace
Original Collage with Encaustic and Upcycled Materials by JessicaBurko
Hammer Textured Brass Cuff by PrunellasWorkshop
Meadows - 220 yard Peruvian Wool by ladydyefiberarts

We at Boston Handmade certainly don't think so! After all, Christmas is only 128 days away (here is a handy dandy count-down clock, in case you want to keep track).

Planning for the Annual Boston Handmade Holiday Gallery is in full swing. Since 2008, we bring unique handmade creations to the Boston area. You will find fiber art, photography, pottery, mixed media, art glass, bath and body products, jewelry, and many more in one space. Most are one-of-a-kind, all are handmade by the artists who also staff the gallery. This gives our customers the opportunity to chat with the creators, learn about techniques, and receive answers to any questions they might have.

The first point on the agenda is finding an appropriate space. We are looking for:

1000-2000 sqft
vacant retail space at street level
high level of foot traffic
convenience to public transportation
availability from November 15th through New Year's Eve

Target neighborhoods:
Belmont, Leonard Street or Cushing Square
Brookline, Coolidge Corner
Downtown Crossing, Washington Street
Jamaica Plain, Centre Street
Waltham, Moody Street

Do you know the perfect spot for us? Where would *you* like to see the Gallery?

Please leave your suggestion in the comments or email to , we are curious to see your ideas!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

We Need Some Space: Help us find a home

by Jessica Burko

2013 Boston Handmade Holiday Gallery in Brookline Village

With temperatures diving, everyone planning end of summer getaways and BBQs for Labor Day, we at Boston Handmade are getting serious about our plans for our 2014 Boston Handmade Holiday Gallery, open annually from Black Friday through Christmas Eve. Each year we share the handmade love and create a temporary home for all things unique, locally made and handcrafted. We provide a high quality selection of goods for your holiday gift giving, host events and workshops throughout the season, and provide you with opportunities to learn about how and why creative professionals do what we do. Our pop-up holiday gallery has been an annual tradition since 2008 and we are committed to making it happen again this year. This year, we are asking for YOUR help.

2012 Boston Handmade Holiday Gallery in Canton, MA

The first item on our to-do list is the most important element of producing our pop-up gallery: finding a space. This year we are asking our fans and friends to lend a hand in our search for temporary gallery space. In gratitude for finding a space for our gallery we will honor our Handmade Hero with a bevy of gifts and awards of recognition plus a private preview party before our gallery opening day. Ever yearn to make a difference in your community? Becoming our Handmade Hero is an ideal way to help 30+ artists sustain their small businesses and take one more step towards achieving their professional and creative goals.

2009 Boston Handmade Holiday Gallery in Downtown Crossing

Here's the wish list of what we're looking for:

Vacant retail space at street level
High level of foot-traffic
Convenience to public transportation

Availability from November 15th through New Years Eve

Target neighborhoods:
Belmont, Leonard Street or Cushing Square
Brookline, Coolidge Corner
Downtown Crossing, Washington Street
Jamaica Plain, Centre Street
Waltham, Moody Street

Our first Boston Handmade Holiday Gallery in 2008, in Downtown Crossing

For the Property owner/Management Company/Realty Company who supplies the space we will give our eternal gratitude plus they will become the primary sponsor for our 2014 gallery which means they will receive a wide variety of publicity and perks from us including:

Publicity via our blog, website, through all of our social networking
Promotional signage in the gallery space and at gallery events
Featured blog post (our blog received approximately 8,000 page views per month)
Publicity through our social media vehicles (at current count we have 1720 Facebook fans, 4,500 Twitter followers, 760 Pinterest followers)
Their logo and hyperlink will be added to our website
Their logo will be included in print and online marketing materials
They will receive acknowledgement and logo on a poster in our 2014 gallery space
and more!

Please forward this plea and help us share our search for space. If you have any leads for us comment here or email us directly at

Thank you to everyone who helps us realize our vision and pays it forward with this contribution to our Boston arts community!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Handmade at Plimoth Plantation

This spring I revisited Plimoth Plantation for the first time since I was a kid. It was exactly like how I remembered it- maybe even better!

What's Plimoth Plantation? From their website: "Plimoth Plantation provides an engaging and experiential outdoor and indoor learning environment on its main campus and at the State Pier on Plymouth’s waterfront. Our permanent exhibits tell the complex and interwoven stories of two distinct cultures - English and Native. The main exhibits are enhanced with an exciting menu of special events, public programs and workshops that offer a rich and diverse exploration of the 17th-century."

One thing I noticed was all of the ways the plantation features historical crafting and how people in the 1600's created things they needed all by hand. 

At the Craft Center when we first walked in, there was a man making Native American headdresses out of dyed porcupine quills, something he'd learned how to do from his father who was a member of a tribe in Quebec. There were also people making traditional English items- from cabinets, to pots, to the costumes for the English Village.

In the Wampanoag Homesite, they were repairing nets for fishing, cooking in pots over campfires, and one man described how they make and maintain their canoes.

Once you arrive in the Village, the "settlers" are busy building or repairing the houses and they are more than happy to explain their techniques. We stayed with one builder for 15 minutes talking about how he framed one of the houses and constructed the chimney.

Even at the gift shop they have handmade things for sale! There are all kinds of craft kids for kids and pottery and woodwork from the Craft Center.


If you have never been to Plimoth Plantation or if it's been a while, I highly recommend a visit. So much of our history is preserved there and as appreciators of handmade craft, there is lots to see. It's amazing get an idea of what it must have been like to live here all those centuries ago!

137 Warren Avenue
Plymouth, MA 02360

The Wampanoag Homesite, English Village, Mayflower II and Plimoth Grist Mill are open everyday from the third Saturday in March (March 15, 2014) through the Sunday after Thanksgiving (November 30, 2014) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Monday Mosaic: Well worded

curated by Sharon Fischer, Stray Notions

1. Think Like a Mountain Photo Art Card, Jon Barrows photography

2. Serving Tray Delicious - Apples, Early Bird Designs

3. Encaustic collage art with vintage ephemera, Jessica Burko

4. Thank you Banner, The Patterned Peacock

Friday, August 8, 2014

Why Handmade: Winter Holidays?

by Lynn Mohney of Prunella’s Workshop

It’s 88 degrees outside. The sun is shining bright. The air conditioner is on full blast at home, and I just returned from a trip to the pool from the kids. Shortly, I’ll get to work on jewelry. What is on my mind? Christmas. Chanukkah. Winter Solstice. Kwanzaa. Any others I may have inadvertently missed. The biggest holiday gift giving season of the year.
Irritating? You better believe it.

Spider Pendant #7 - Rust and Mint by Lush Beads

I, like many, complain when retail stores start rolling out Winter Holiday items before Halloween has passed. I don’t want to think about shopping yet. I don’t like leaving things for the last minute, but I do have time. Almost four months, in fact. However, as a jewelry designer, it’s never too early to think about the holidays. In fact, I have to start thinking about them on December 26th. Now that it’s August, I am in full blown holiday mode when I’m working in my studio.

Cosmic Love by McDonald Mixed Media Art

Think about it, though. If you are a small business of one, maybe two people, your merchandise isn't going to create itself. It takes time to create even our simplest designs. In the busiest time of the year we can’t be caught with our pants down with no merchandise to sell. The later we wait the less we can accomplish.

Dewy Grass (8x10 mat) by J. Barrows

Furthermore, we need to be prepared for the shoppers who don’t procrastinate. People begin their shopping in September, and sometimes earlier. This is especially true with unique one of a kind art. One may be able to still buy a blender on December 24th. They might have to travel a little, or go to more than one store if blenders are the hot item, but they know what they are looking for. That’s not necessarily how it works when one is purchasing handmade items. As a shopper, you may not have even thinking about a certain person, when you see the perfect handmade item for them.
This brings me back to where I am. It’s blazing hot, and I have to think about the winter holiday gift giving season. In some ways, this isn't too difficult. A necklace is a necklace whether it is August or December. I need to stock up on them and make certain I have enough variety available. However, I also need to consider if I want to make any holiday specific items. They can be big sellers when people are feeling festive, but once the season is over, any remaining stock is likely to sit around until next year. Also, this brings up the matter of inspiration.

Dragonfly Brooch by Stray Notions

Can you inspire yourself to make little snowmen in August? I’m having trouble too. I want to think of sand between my toes and a suntan on my skin. I want to lay around in lush green grass as I listen to the thunder rolling in. My feet and shoulders are bare, and my boots and coat are safely locked away in the attic for a few more months. The winter doesn't need to rush in.

Public Garden Snow 2- 5x7 Photo Print by Lucie Wicker
How do you prepare for your holiday season? How do you maintain a positive attitude, and not become a Mister Scrooge? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Creating QR Code to Gain Followers and Fans

by Shannon McDonald of McDonald Mixed Media

This is my first year having a vendor booth and setting up for shows like the SOWA Open Market and Vintage Bazaar. While I was preparing for these shows I spent a lot of time thinking about how I wanted my booth to look and how I wanted to share my information. Business cards are of course wonderful but I got the idea of the QR code from my coworker and photographer Nick Schietromo. I had seen these little black and white boxes but didn't know what they were used for and how they worked. He explained how easy it was and I thought what a better way to have people directly access my information. You simply scan the code with your smartphone and BOOM they can become a fan or follow you instantly! What is better than that? 

What exactly is a QR Code?

It is a machine-readable code consisting of an array of black and white squares, 
typically used for storing URLs or other information for reading by the camera on a smartphone.

Why use them?

It is an easy way for people to quickly follow you on social media. Once they have the app all they have to do it scan the square and it will bring them directly to your Etsy Store, Facebook Fan Page or Instagram. I created a list that I framed and bring with me to craft shows. 
It is easy for people to scan it and find you. 

Download a QR Barcode Scanner to your smartphone. There are plenty of FREE options available for download thru Google Play if you are an Android user or Itunes if using an Iphone. 
This way you can test out your cost before displaying them anywhere. 
I simply searched for "QR SCANNER"


Create the QR codes. I have produced QR codes for my Etsy Store, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and my website. All you have to do is copy the link into and the website will create your code for download. You can Google "QR Code Generator" and there are so many options. 

This site allows you to download, print and email your codes. Simply copy and paste the desired link in.  I downloaded the codes so I could place them all in a Word document. 

Create your Word document and start to adding the codes. Online I found some open use social media icons which I added. They matched the color scheme in my logo. 

Print it out and frame it! 
I bring this with me to every show that I do. People use it! Trust me. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Leader of the Pack

by Jill J. Burns, Early Bird Designs

More than a decade ago I founded a community ceramic studio, called the Fire Works Studio.  The studio thrived and became an important part of the cultural scene in Worcester, MA, but after eleven years it was time for a change – a fresh perspective and new leadership.  Two studio members took up the challenge and bought the business, so the legacy will carry on. Happily I will remain part of the studio as a loyal member, willing to pitch in as needed but without the extra pressure of being the one in charge. I’m looking forward to devoting concentrated, uninterrupted time to my ceramic designs

Adding soda to the gas kiln at the Fire Works

Communities such as the Fire Works and Boston Handmade are essential to artists. They provide valuable resources, comradery and community that are indispensable to the creative process as well as the business of making. It is a big job and thankfully, there are enthusiastic helpers and supporters.  But a leader is vital; the one with the overall vision that can keep the group on course.  At Boston Handmade, Jessica Burko is our leader. I am so grateful we have an organized and calm presence for our group. Remarkably, she is a mother, artist, designer, arts marketer and director of Boston Handmade (all at once!) and handles the challenge with grace and aplomb. Thanks Jessica. 

Work by Jessica Burko:

Monday, August 4, 2014

Monday Mosaic: Quick Summer Dinner

curated by Susanne of enchantedhue

Vegan Broccoli Necklace Eco Friendly Recycled Silver by Beryllina
Honey Pot by jilljburns
Coffee or Tea Cup Cozy by StephanieCaveDesign
Handwoven Tea Towel by Loomination

I don't know about you, but I don't feel like spending a lot of time in front of the stove cooking dinner during the summer. Neither do I feel like washing tons of dishes.

So I am always looking for short cuts or quick and easy recipes. Preferably One Pot dishes.

How about a No Pot dish? Oh yes, it can be done!

Barbecue! The meat eaters amongst you put a steak, chicken breast, or a salmon filet on the grill. Only needs a bit of herbs and pepper, maybe some salt and lemon juice and olive oil, and it's ready to go.

As a vegetarian, I love to grill portobello mushrooms, peppers, or eggplant slices. They can be seasoned the same way as meat (or is the meat seasoned the same way as the vegetables??).

But there is a different way of preparing vegetables on the grill. Take broccoli, for example. They dry out easily and are not the best candidate for barbecuing. However, if you put broccoli flowerets - seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice, a few drops of honey or maple syrup - on a piece of aluminum foil that you fold up to make a little package, you can put that on the grill and have beautifully steamed broccoli in no time. And you can even grill meats at the same time without having your vegetables contaminated!

Bon Appetit!
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