Monday, October 27, 2014

Monday Mosaic: Happy Halloween!

curated by Susanne from enchantedhue

Spider Pendant #7 - Rust and Mint - by LushBeads
Original Mixed Media Art by JessicaBurko
Orange White Mini Chevron iPad Ereader Pillow Stand by abigailleigh
Pleated Linen Tote in Taupe and Orange by LidaBrookDesigns

Halloween! That spooky time of year! Spiders and skeletons and bats and ghosts. Orange and black and blinking lights and scary sounds.

I love it! I didn't grow up with Halloween (in Austria, my native country, it was not celebrated at the time), so I am more than compensating now. Not sure what I like more: the eery decorations or being allowed to scare children. Well, just a little bit of scaring...

Happy Halloween, everybody!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Meet Ava Chan of Sugin Textiles

by Ava of Sugin Textiles

Hello! My name is Ava Chan, and I make and sell felted goods for home and body under the name Sugin Textiles. I became a member of Boston Handmade earlier this year and I’m thrilled to be here.

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself.

A: I grew up in New York City in the South Bronx, during that neighborhood’s bad ol’ days in the 1960s and 70s. My family lived on the top floor of a five-story walkup and outside time was confined to the fire escape and the building’s tar roof. Now I live with two greyhounds in a little ranch house in Brighton that has a small lawn and a back yard. Instead of white picket, the fence enclosing my house is chain-link, but it’s still a world away from what I grew up with. I went up to Boston for college (I studied mechanical engineering at Boston University) and stayed. I’m intrigued by different work environments and how one earns a living.  I’ve worked at general office jobs, as an ice cream scooper, a retail clerk, in a food coop, at a food pantry, as a software developer, as a technical writer, as an instructor of college freshman composition, and as a community organizer. Now I’m figuring out the components of owning a creative business. It is so delightful to be in the company of Boston Handmade members on this current adventure.

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

A: I don’t remember the first things I made, but I do remember learning how to knit and crochet when I was about 7 or 8 years old – my mom taught me. I remember struggling with getting my rows to line up and to understand how you knew which way you were going when knitting up a row. I remember the thrill I felt when I figured it out. I still get that thrill now when I’m making something and get it to be what I want it to be.

Q : What are your favorite materials?

A: Generally speaking, natural fibers, wool first and foremost. Most feltmakers use merino fleece, which has a fine texture and felts readily.  I really appreciate it after working with fleece from other breeds of sheep, such as Shetland, Icelandic, and Coopworth. I love the way that linen and hemp become softer with use. Silk is delightful.  I also love clay, its malleability and how glazing and baking in a kiln seem to transform it into an entirely different substance.

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

A: I really love the textures that can be developed with felt. I think like clay, wool has an alchemical nature. It can be made into 2D or 3D objects, and the texture of the finished object is influenced by the type of wool, how much is used, how it is laid out and how you stretch and rub it as you make the felt. Felt can be smooth, soft, hard, or coarse. You can increase the texture of a piece by incorporating various fibers or even pieces of cloth or other objects. Stitching on felt, whether by machine or hand, creates a quilted effect. You can even incorporate solid objects into felt.  The more a piece moves away from a smooth surface, the more intriguing I find it.

Q: What is your biggest obstacle with what you make?

A: Feltmaking is slow! It takes a long time to get even merino fibers to mat together. I wish I worked faster.

Q: What’s your favorite way to spend a Sunday morning?

A: I love cooking on Sunday mornings: waffles, biscuits, fried rice or noodles, and then eating them. I share with the dogs.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Artisan's Asylum from an Artists' Perspective

by Melissa Glick of Melsplace


As a visual artist, I sometimes feel like a minority at the Artisan's Asylum. This 40K sf. converted envelope factory is home to over 200 members who either work in shops (wood, metal, glass, jewelry) or with new technologies (3D printing, laser cutters, computer controlled routers called shop bots) or on bikes, leather, electronics and much more. The Asylum is a place where you can take a class or develop a business. It is considered an incubator for innovation and entrepreneurs by some.


For me it is the place I go almost everyday, were I am surrounded by creative people making things, not un-like a medieval guild. Having access to tools and knowledgeable people makes The Asylum an environment with endless creative possibilities for me, but it can also be overwhelming for someone who has a hard time focusing.


It's thrilling to learn about 3D printing, software programing and electronics, but not having studied physics or computer science, I can feel pretty ignorant. When someone tells me about their project, I need to stop them at the first step because I don't understand how a change in temperature could activate a switch or how playing your recorder attached to a computer can result in notation and sound files you can then use in loops.


I was already working with obsolete technology when I came to The Asylum looking for a work space. Little did I know what a perfect match it would be. The first thing that tipped me off was when successful inventors and PhDs joined me for "take apart sessions. They told me they enjoyed disassembling old computers and that as children this was how they first became interested in what they do now.


Even though we come from different backgrounds, no one looks at me like I'm crazy when I use old computer parts in assemblages combined with collage. Or when I hung little wooden reclaimed chairs, painted in primary colors from the 50 foot ceiling. Seen here during the construction of the Veladrome, which bikes rode around demonstrating the power of centrifugal force. This is an awesome video of the building of the Veladrome in fast motion and put to music.


The best thing of all is that these ingenious, talented people are kind and generous with their knowledge. Working out of the Asylum has had a tremendous influence on my work and I am learning new skills all the time. At first, I used gears as a decorative element in my work, then I leaned to use battery powered motors to make them move. Currently, I am converting computer cooling fans to be reversible in a piece that combines purple glass tiles and collage. My next blog will be about the collaborative project, The River of Connectivity, a 6ft x 4 ft Hacker Creation with 8 moving fans controlled by an ardino processor!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Monday Mosaic: October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

curated by Sharon Fischer, Stray Notions

While some might think there can be too much pink (myself among them) there is never too much awareness or effort in support of finding a cure for this and other cancers which claim the lives of too many loved ones each year. Abby of Abigail Leigh Handbags is donating 25 % of the proceeds from two of her specially designed clutches to support breast cancer research.

1. Pink Ribbon Breast Cancer Awareness Bra Print Wallet with Detachable Strap, abigailleigh
2. Maine pink tourmaline twist ring handmade with recycled sterling silver size 7, Beryllina
3. Flower Garden Cowl Infinity Scarf - Cotton Handwoven - Pink Variegated & Gray, Loomination
4. Upcycled Bike Gear Clock, Hacker Junk Creations

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Local Art Where it All Began: Fort Point, Boston

This weekend, October 17-19, is the 35th annual Fort Point Open Studios. That's right, 35 years strong. The Fort Point neighborhood of Boston is widely recognized as one of New England’s largest and oldest arts communities. The Fort Point Arts Community (FPAC) pioneered the concept of Open Studios in Boston in the 1980's and the non-profit community organization continues to be run by neighborhood artists and volunteers.
Studio of Amy Baxter MacDonald, showing at 319 A Street, 2nd floor

The FPAC Open Studios weekend is a chance for the public to visit more than 150 local artists showing in 10 buildings throughout the Fort Point neighborhood, as well as galleries and pop-up exhibit venues, where original art and fine craft will be available for sale. The weekend schedule is packed with special events, demonstrations, and participatory art-making activities. If that's not enough art and creativity for you, the neighborhood itself becomes a show space with four temporary public art projects viewable morning, noon, and night.
Martin Berinstein's studio, showing at 249 A Street Coop, 3rd floor
photo credit: S. Darsch

The weekend begins early with a celebration TONIGHT, Thursday, October 16th from 5-7:30pm at The Fort Point Arts Community Gallery at 300 Summer Street featuring The Annual Members Group Show, with individual works in all media by more than 75 Fort Point artists. The festivities continue with the Friday Preview Evening of selected studios and group spaces, from 4-7pm on October 17th. These events culminate with the Open Studios weekend, Saturday and Sunday, October 18 and 19, from 12-6pm each day.
Nicole Aquillano Ceramics, Porcelain tableware with inlaid architectural drawings,
showing at Midway Studios, 15 Channel Center, 2nd floor

The mission of FPAC is "to promote the work of our artists to a broad and diverse audience; to preserve the artists' community in Fort Point area; to maintain and expand access to affordable studio space; and to increase the visibility of the arts in Fort Point." These efforts take many forms including original artwork created by artists in live/work and work-only studios, two Open Studios events produced annually in Fall and Spring, advocacy for the development and preservation of permanent studio space, organization of art lending programs, the running of galleries and a community store, the creation of temporary public art, and FPAC actively participates in decisions that affect the overall neighborhood. The fall Open Studios is a big part of what Fort Point is known for, but it is only one aspect of the activity from these vibrant local artists.
Boston Handmade Director, Jessica Burko will be showing her one-of-a-kind encaustic collage
at the FPAC Open Studios Group Space, 319 A Street, first floor.

If you've never been to this historic artist neighborhood, or even if you are a veteran of the many events and shows held in Fort Point, take this opportunity to explore Boston's historic waterfront warehouses that are home to painters, sculptors, ceramicists, jewelers, performance artists, printmakers, book artists, photographers, and more. Meet local artists and craftspeople, and get a behind the scenes look at where Boston artists create their work. Find established artists, and discover new emerging talents. Stroll, ponder, and browse. Buy original art directly from the people who make it.

Fort Point Open Studios THIS weekend:

Dates and hours:

Thursday, October 16, 5:30-7:30pm, Fort Point Open Studios Group Show Reception
Location: FPAC Gallery, 300 Summer Street, M1, Boston MA 02210

Friday October 17, 4-7pm, selected studios open
Locations: Preview artists will be marked with a * on FPAC web listing and directories

Saturday and Sunday October 18 and 19, 12-6pm, studios open
Locations: Channel Center Street, 249 A Street, 319 A Street, 63 Melcher Street, 300 Summer Street, 346 Congress Street, and more

Also on view during Open Studios weekend:
Atlantic Wharf Gallery, Big Picture, a group show featuring large works by FPAC members.
Location: 290 Congress Street, Boston, MA 02210
Guest juror: Randi Hopkins, Associate Director of Visual Arts at the Boston Center for the Arts
Works by: Dirk Ahlgrim, Domingo Barreres, Brian Bishop, Denise Bosco, Jessica Burko, Don Eyles, Dylan Hurwitz, Helen Lee, Amy Baxter MacDonald, Stephen McMillan, Maria Molteni, Andrew Neumann, Pamela Reynolds, Jonathan Sahula, Dorothea Van Camp, Floor van de Velde, Charles Win

Free Parking all weekend: Channel Side Parking Lot, accessible from Binford Street off of A Street

For more information visit:

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

October Birthstones: Tourmaline and Opal

by Laurie Lynn of Beryllina

an INCREDIBLE collection of pink, green, and watermelon tourmaline on display in Maine
October babies are lucky enough to have two birthstones, and both can be mined in the USA! Tourmaline exists in a stunning array of colors (pink, green, and blue, to name a few), and each variety has its own unique name. Some of the most common in Maine are:

Elbaite - green tourmaline

Rubellite - pink tourmaline

Indicolite - blue tourmaline

Schorl - black tourmaline

Watermelon tourmaline - tourmaline crystals with a pink center and green outer later

One of my favorite things to do is go mining for tourmaline in Maine. This necklace is called "Mountain Treasure" and I handmade it entirely with a fabulous "elbaite" crystal that is terminated (has a natural point) that I mined there.

"Mountain Treasure" necklace with eco-friendly recycled silver and Maine tourmaline by Beryllina

Another interesting fact is that tourmaline can be "pleochroic", meaning it can be different colors when looking at the stone from different directions (for example looking from the side versus through the end of the crystal). This means that a gemcutter has to be mindful to intentionally cut the stone in the direction to display the color he/she wants to showcase. Here's an example of pleochroism in one tourmaline crystal that my husband Jared and I mined in Maine this summer:

Pleochroism in Maine tourmaline crystal, mined by Laurie Lynn in 2014
Pretty cool, huh?

Opals are beautiful stones too, and are also found in several varieties. What makes some opals unique are their "play of color" (enhanced by their high water content), though this stunning rainbow of colors is not found in every variety of opal. Australia is most well known for their abundance of fiery opals, but they can also be found in the US in Idaho and Nevada. One variety without the rainbow flashes is named Fire Opal (rich red, orange, and yellow), and this can be found in Oregon and Washington. Here are a few samples of Washington Fire Opal that I have yet to set into jewelry:

 Fire Opal from Washington state
Like I said, October babies have some fabulous options for birthstones! Which do you prefer, opal or tourmaline?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What I'm Working On

by Abby Bohn

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and I wanted to do something to give back. I have a wallet in 2 great Pink Ribbon fabrics and will be donating 25% to finding a cure.

"About 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.  In 2014, an estimated 232,670 new cases of invasive breast cancer were expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 62,570 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer.  About 2,360 new cases of invasive breast cancer were expected to be diagnosed in men in 2014. A man’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is about 1 in 1,000."  Statistics from

Every dollar helps to fight this ugly disease. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Monday Mosaic: Columbus Day Celebration

curated by Susanne from enchantedhue

'Use the 19th' A Morse Code Bracelet by LushBeads
Starry Night Origami, Mixed Media Collage Print by McDonaldMixedMedia
Sailboats in Harbor Photo Card by jbarrows
Brant Point Sunset, Nantucket, MA, Photo Print by LucieWicker

I never thought too much about Columbus Day. I knew it is the celebration of Christopher Columbus' arrival in America on October 12th, 1492. But that was the extent of it.

I did not know that this day is also celebrated in the Bahamas, Spain, Argentina, Belice, Uruguay, Italy, and many Latin American countries, although under different names. Columbus Day first became an official state holiday in Colorado in 1906. In 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared it a federal holiday.

But not all states honor Columbus Day: Hawaii, Alaska, Oregon, Iowa, Nevada, and South Dakota do not observe it as a holiday, although some mark the day with an alternative observance or commemoration. Hawaii, e.g., celebrates 'Discoverers' Day', which commemorates the Polynesian of Hawaii.

Happy Columbus Day!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Boston Handmade is now on Instagram

by Abby Bohn

Boston Handmade is now on Instagram!!! If you are on Instagram follow us at @bostonhandmadeteam for what is going on with our members and the latest news with the team. Also use hashtag #bostonhandmadeteam for more posts from our team members. We hope to see you on Instagram but in the meantime check out these posts from our page.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Upcycling with kids: How To Make a Drum

by Jessica Burko

It's no secret that I love to make use of everyday objects and what other people might call "trash" to create my own artwork and also to do craft projects with my kids. A couple of years ago I wrote a blog post featuring my then 3-year-old son making a drum from an oatmeal container, and since then we have made many, many musical instruments with recyclables. Recently my almost 3-year-old daughter made a drum for her friend's birthday and I thought I'd share this updated DIY post for a slightly different way to achieve child-made drum greatness!

This project is appropriate for any child able to sit up and hold a paint brush, with a parent along side of them providing age appropriate assistance. Especially good for toddlers and children ages 2-4.

• cardboard container - - such as an oatmeal container
• dry pasta - - any type but we prefer penne
• liquid glue - - white school glue or glitter glue
• paint - - the washable kind is recommended!
• paint brushes - - foam or bristle with an easily grip handle

1. Select your container. Any size will do, and the best ones will have a plain cardboard surface.
2. If your container has a removable label, peel it off.
3. Once you have a blank "canvas" you're ready to begin creating your percussion masterpiece!

4. A cardboard egg carton makes a perfect paint pallette
5. Dispense one paint color in each egg cup and set-up your brushes

6. Before you paint add a couple of handfuls of dry pasta to the inside of your container. This adds a great additional sound to your drum while playing and also allows the instrument to double as a shaker.
7. Depending on hand size, 2-4 handfuls of dry pasta should do the trick.

8. It's important to glue the lid to the container top after adding the dry pasta so that the drum stays intact while being played by small children.
9. Any liquid glue will work. My daughter's favorite is purple glitter glue so we used that. Make sure there's an adequate amount all around the interior edge of the lid but not too much so it drips down the outside of the container.

10. Begin painting the outside of your container and paint it some more!
11. Anything goes for the decoration of you drum and it's guaranteed that your toddler will love getting into the painting process!
12. Once your drum is painted to your child's satisfaction let it dry completely before playing.

Bonus step (not pictured) is to cut the letters of your child's name out of colorful construction paper, and using a glue stick, adhere it to the outside of the drum so your toddler can feel even more pride of ownership! Have fun!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Monday Mosaic: What's the buzz about bees

curated by Sharon Fischer, Stray Notions

1. Blue Plush Dachshund with Bumble Bee Print, Stephanie Cave Design
2. Bee (11x14 mat), Jon Barrows Nature Photography
3. Honey Pot with dipper, Early Bird Designs
4. Embroidered linen placemats and napkins,keepsakes, bees, Stray Notions

Friday, October 3, 2014

History and Craft at Plimoth Plantation

by Jessica Burko

Last month Lucie Wicker wrote about her visit to the living history museum that is Plimoth Plantation and all the handcraft examples and demonstrations available throughout the property. This month, inspired by Lucie's post and the re-opening of the newly renovated Craft Center at Plimoth Plantation, my family decided to go learn and explore everything this local gem has to offer.

Top image: signage between the 21st Craft Center and the entrance to Plimoth's 17th Century English Village
Middle image: my 2.5-year-old daughter romping through the Village fields to see some sheep
Bottom image: a view of the dwellings in the English Village

If you've never been, Plimoth Plantation is a living museum dedicated to telling the history of Plymouth Colony from the perspective of both the Pilgrims and the Native Wampanoag people. On the property there is a 17th century Wampanoag Homesite and English Village, both remarkably accurate down to every historical detail. Visitors to Plimoth walk through these environments experiencing and learning with each step.

According to the Plimoth Plantation website, "The English Village is a re-creation of the small farming and maritime community built by the Pilgrims along the shore of Plymouth Harbor. In the Village, the year is 1627, just seven years after the arrival of Mayflower. The English Village brings colonial Plymouth vividly to life. Here, you will find modest timber-framed houses furnished with reproductions of the types of objects that the Pilgrims owned, aromatic kitchen gardens, and heritage breeds livestock."

My children, ages 5 and 2.5, loved exploring the homes of the villagers and imagining how we might live in such dark and cramped spaces with open fires and only one bed. A far cry from our modern way of city living for sure! We learned how the Pilgrims built their homes by hand, and crafted every item they needed from the materials the land provided. The people we met throughout the Village explained their methods in voices of the 17th century as costumed role players with adopted names, viewpoints and life histories of the original people living and working in the Colony in 1627.

Top image: toys and dolls handmade and played with by Wampanoag children
Bottom left image: my 5-year-old son learning how to spin flax fibers into linen thread in the English Village
Bottom right image: a Wampanoag woman handcrafting a bag, with her baby on her lap

Nearby at the Wampanoag Homesite, we learned how the 17th century Wampanoag would have lived. We got to explore different kinds of homes including a mat-covered wetu and a bark-covered nush wetu, (a house with three fire pits inside). We again had discussions about what it might be like if we lived in these homes, how it would be different from our own home in Boston, and also different from living in the houses in the English Village. We learned from the Wampanoag at the Homesite how these dwellings were built, by hand, and how the techniques were passed down from generation to generation.

The most wonderful part of this living environment is that the Wampanoag Homesite staff are not role players. They are all Native People, either Wampanoag or from other Native Nations, and they were all dressed in historically accurate clothing made of animal skin and natural fibers. This engaging environment had everyone in my family feeling like we were a part of daily Wampanoag life

We saw how meals were cooked in a large outdoor "kitchen" housed under a simple shelter with an open fire. It was truly awe inspiring to witness members of the Wampanoag Nation make their cooking pots from clay, craft their cooking utensils from wood and stone, harvest their crops, grind their grain, and using only the ingredients that were available in the 1600s, cook a meal for their families. I left with a new perspective on how our own meals arrive at the table and a deeper resolve to adopt a more home grown, handmade, slow foods lifestyle in my own family.

Top image: loom weaving demonstrations in the Craft Center
Middle image: my children partaking in a craft project with illustrator Frane Lessac
Bottom image: a ceramicist at work in the Craft Center

Our last stop of the day was the newly renovated Craft Center at Plimoth Plantation. As the Plimoth Plantation website explains, "Since 1992, the Craft Center has provided guests with a rare glimpse into the historic crafts and technologies that allow the Museum to so vividly re-create the look and feel of the 17th century. Using tools, materials and craft techniques of the 1600s, Native artisans make stone, wood and sinew tools, porcupine headdresses and hand-coiled clay pots. Other artisans practice historic English trades, making reproductions of the objects that 17th century colonists imported from England."

At the core of the Craft Center renovations are a working bakery for visitors to view demonstrations of 17th-century baking techniques, and the addition of hands-on activities for visitors. There were extra presentations and demonstrations the weekend we visited as part of the Craft Center celebration. One of the highlights for us was seeing a presentation by a husband and wife team who wrote and illustrated a new children's book entitled The Mayflower. Mark Greenwood, the author, spoke about his research for the book and his desire to make the history and story of a people escaping religious persecution accessible to small children. Frané Lessac, the artist, described her process of creating the images in the book and then led an activity to create a ship out of paper that opened up so a story could be written within it. My children were riveted, and we brought a copy of the book home as a memento of our Plimoth Plantation experience.

While the day was filled with history lessons big and small, for me it was an experiential view into a true handmade lifestyle. My son and I recently had a conversation in which I told him that when his Nana was his age there were no cell phones, no TVs, no paper towels, and no computers. His response was, "How did they do anything?" to which I replied, "They found other ways." It's true there are now endless shortcuts and means to accomplish most things while maintaining clean hands, but there are still endless ways of using those same hands to make what you need from what you have around you. While I won't be throwing away my cell phone and laptop any time soon, our day at Plimoth Plantation has definitely inspired me to incorporate more handcraft and good old fashioned hands-on resourcefulness into our daily modern life.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Lowell Open Studios

by Liz Stewart of Lush Beads

Once a year, the artists of the city of Lowell enjoy a citywide celebration of art known as Lowell Open Studios. This year, over 170 artists at 14 venues across the city are participating.

BH member Liz Stewart owns Lush Beads Industrial and has been creating her funky jewelry designs with new and repurposed hardware for about 4 years. "While I still have a fondness for beads and beading, the hardware is what is speaking to me right now," Liz says. You will find her in studio A-205 at the Western Avenue Studios. You can also see some one-of-a-kind pieces at the Wearable Arts Extravaganza on Saturday October 4 starting at 6:30 PM in the Onyx Room at Western Avenue Studios.

BH member Leanne Tremblay owns Loomination and weaves intricate and lovely scarves and home decor. Leanne says, "I am working on a large custom order for a home decor store in Nashville and getting ready for a busy holiday season - I have lots of shows planned and my work will be featured at the annual holiday show at Craftland in Providence." You can see Leanne's work at the Arts League of Lowell Cooperative Gallery located at 307 Market Street.

Lowell Open Studios runs from 11-5 each day. Free parking and shuttle bus service is available. Visitors will be able to take a shuttle to Western Avenue Studios as well as the ALL Cooperative Gallery to visit both Liz's and Leanne's work in person.
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