An artisan jewelry journey in color, texture and fun. Beaded jewelry with handcrafted sterling silver is my focus and joy.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Three's Company

Creativity sometimes is a solitary pursuit, and sometimes breeds cooperativity. In the case of KreativeMindz from Cincinnati, an Etsy company of three began when the husband and wife team of Aly and Beau, supporting each other through love, laughter and creativity, teamed up with An-G, one of Aly's best friends.

They mostly make clothing (in all sizes and colors), Goddess Wraps™, Hot Packs, bags, purses, wallets, cuffs and many other cool things! Beau is a very skilled craftsman and carpenter. Check out their Wooden Kreationz section.

All this "kreativity" didn't just rise up by spontaneous generation. Aly was born and raised in a home of artists, and the kids in the family were always doing some sort of "project". Continuing for Aly throughout her life, dipping her hands in all sorts of creative projects, she found her niche in sewing. She enjoys working with the different fibers to see what can be done with them. She began her sewing career traveling all over the country selling her clothes at music shows and festivals.

Now a stay-at-home-mom, she misses that traveling life sometimes, but feels so blessed to have her 2 wonderful and beautiful children, and so very thankful to have the Etsy opportunity to work at home and be able to watch her children grow. Aly and Beau also enjoy their land and organic gardens, hiking, fishing, swimming, playing, camping, fires, drum circles and a show when they can catch one. As mentioned above, Beau is a carpenter and loves working with his hands and building wonderful things! The sewing is assisted by An-G, who lives in Columbus and where she just graduated from vet school. (There we go again with the recurring theme of creative scientists!)

Kruise their KreativeMindz shop for colorful kreations, and take a trip to their blog to find out more.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Stocking Stuffers!

I have found some items that will make for perfect stocking stuffers for literally EVERYBODY! Who can beat that? Check out these wonderful paper products from Etsy artist Simply Said by Sarah. Great as gifts for anyone with a need to keep notes, monogrammed sticky notes, or holiday inspired design notepads, these will be perfect choices for friends, family members, teachers....yep, just about everybody.

The artist behind Simply Said is Sarah Orton. Sarah is a graphic design student in North Carolina. Her flair for design stems from a lifelong interest in crafts and her pieces demonstrate a fun spin on a contemporary sense of style. Encouraged by the requests she’d begun to receive from fellow employees and friends, Sarah decided to combine her creativity with her business sense, and Simply Said by Sarah was born. Each piece is handcrafted and unique, and is sure to add a tasteful touch of originality to your home!

Open to customization, special requests are always welcome at Simply Said by Sarah. Check out her blog, too, on posts about her graphic design journey and posts on other Etsy artists.

Monday, November 26, 2007

On an Odyssey for Good Gifts?

So, your quest for something enchanting continues this Cyber Monday? Are you caught between the Scylla and Charybdis of too little time and too little money? Might I suggest a journey to a shop full of fun and imaginative and wonderfully affordable treats? And I promise, this trip won't take you twenty years. Enough with the Ulysses jokes - now take a trip to the Etsy shop of Ulixis. Owned by Northern Ontario native Amanda, currently a fifth year Honors Biology and Pharmacology co-op student at McMaster University and working in the Janssen lab on her thesis. (Cool
thing - she does real-time videomicroscopy of smooth muscle cell migration: a woman after my own heart!)

Amanda claims to have been crafty her whole life, and enjoys making a variety of things. I am a firm believer that this is a common attribute of scientists (see my previous post on the astronomer/jewelry artist of Silver Dragon). When Amanda was younger, it was drawing, then wreathes, dolls and beading. Now, her focus has switched to notebooks and jewelry. She also enjoys cooking, reading, writing and problem solving - see, the perfect blend of talents and interests for a creative scientist.

My personal favorites of hers are her button creations - so fun!

Please check out her blog, too, where she'll be posting regularly on personal tid-bits, inspirations and featuring other Canadian / Etsy sellers!!

On with your quest to Ulixis!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Is it time for a Blue Moon?

Known as a rare event, the next blue moon won't happen in the sky until May 2008. Lucky for you, a more accessible rare event (that of discovery of beautiful art) can be had by a trip to Indigo Luna. The Etsy shop of mixed media and textile artist Rachel Kitterman, her primary passion is fabric, and she has been making art quilts and dolls for over a decade now. Rachel also loves paper, altered art, mixed-media, knitting, crocheting, jewelry, artist books, photography...pretty much, if it will hold still, she'll make art out of it. Her store has an amazing and ecclectic sampling of all the creative things she loves to make.

Her work is infused with the environment of her world - a 5th generation Oregonian, growing up in a lush and verdant valley, playing in the damp woods and blackberry thickets - she can't imagine living anywhere else.

Three things (of many) we have in common, from Rachel's list of "100 Things About Me":
55. I broke my tailbone when I was in high school.
69. I’m a very good speller.
97. I am a chronic procrastinator and a perfectionist.

and one more for good measure:
100. I believe in synchronicity and karma.

Go check out her complete list on her blog, and generate some good karma this holiday season by shopping handmade at Indigo Luna.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Charming Etsy Star

The Etsy artist behind Earth Charms describes her shop as "A little store run by someone with a big passion for natural stones and their metaphysical properties." She transforms that passion into jewelry and other gift items, and provides for her buyers all the information considered as attributes for the beautiful stones that she has selected for her pieces for that added dimension of meaning to art and/or adornment. Take for example the elegant kyanite earrings below - a stone believed to enhance communication and loyalty - how perfect for earrings!

I love the Bio in Earth Charms' Etsy shop - a prose/poem that tells you so much about her:

My name is: a title used to facilitate communication.
My home is: a little slice of paradise despite the paper-thin walls and windows.
My goal is: to make macrame fashionable.
My soul is: owned by a thieving kitty.
My dreams are: not all that unrealistic, and involve comfort instead of riches.
My life is: meant to be enjoyed to the fullest.

So expect to be charmed when you visit Earth Charms, and find out more on her blog.

Friday, November 23, 2007

More Black Friday Goodies

The incredible artists of the Art Jewelry Collective have compiled the best of the best in their Holiday Gift Guide. I'm so honored to have my Dewdrop earrings selected as the lead item for the Earrings collection. Go AJC!

Untie a Ribbon on Some Signature Pieces

There are so many wonderful handcrafted items on Etsy, it should be so very easy to shop handmade this Holiday Season. At Signature Sterling, the gift opportunities abound! One of my favorites from Sue's shop leads this post, with fabulous beads and colors inspired by "Hairspray."

Sue enjoys designing, creating, and just plain playing with a variety of beads - but mainly sterling silver, semiprecious, lampwork, Czech glass, and Swarovski crystals/pearls. When she's not beading, she loves being a soccer mom. When you stop by Signature Sterling be sure to check out her links to some other terrific, creative "Etsians" - especially the TBO, the Bead Hive, JET, EtsyMom, and etsyBead groups. Need help finding these talented artists? Go to the Etsy home site and search for TBO, BHV, JETT, EtsyMom, and etsyBead in tags,titles. You'll get a great list to choose from!

And yes, Sue is a Buckeye fan - check out her blog for proof positive on that point. But she supports fans of all types - for a great gift idea for that super-fan in your life, check out her "Colors" line for custom items tailored to school colors and activities.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sweet Kitties

I have a kindred spirit at Etsy: at this very moment, as I attempt to type these words, I have the sweetest, but most obnoxious kitty kneading me and telling me how much she would love some loving, but I've got this blog to write! My kindred spirit is the artist behind Sweet Irie - named for her kitten, Irie. The kitten's name means "supreme joy": quite fitting because she is the light of the life and the inspiration for the jewelry in Sweet Irie's shop, as the cat also likes to help her in her work just like my Stella is trying to help me right now! Although we both have to admit, neither cat is much help! At one time her kitty loved to play with the jewelry and balls of hemp that Sweet Irie once used in her craft; stringing it all over the house. Needless to say, she now has had her own stash of 'toys' provided to lie around. Just as well, as Sweet Irie has since moved on from making hemp jewelry and now creates the beautiful handmade beaded designs you see here and throughout her store.

Sweet Irie is an art student going to the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. When not doing school work, she spends time with her family, many animals, church, and making jewelry. Once she graduates, Disney better watch out, 'cuz here comes Sweet Irie! Click on any image in the montage above, visit Sweet Irie's shop, where she is having a great sale by the way, or check out her blog. Now, Stella - let me get some work done!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Hope for Whirled Peas Update

I'm so happy - two of my pieces in the Hope for Whirled Peas Collection (see this post to get the whole scoop) I have dedicated to raising funds for the Fisher House Foundation have sold! Actually, one necklace was a special request as gift for a mom expecting twins - what a sweet idea! I hope that this is the beginning of a successful charity opportunity. Thanks to my two buyers so far - your purchases are greatly appreciated!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

For the Love of Moose

I met Craftymoose back in August 2006 on Etsy when I joined a fun group of Etsians who met weekly in the Forums for one of JewelStreet's Creative Challenges. Now, I haven't participated in a Creative Challenge for some time - working too much, moving across country, excuses all around - but I was very glad to see her join up with us 90 Feature Folk in the blog challenge we're doing. Glad because she now has company because of the challenge, - haha, I think Craftymoose was the only reader other than family I ever had for my blog - thanks Crafty! Also more doubly glad because she has such fun and imaginative pieces in her shop - items you are not going to find just anywhere for sure, and that I'm very glad to write a feature for. Her beaded creatures/suncatchers have always been favorites of mine, and her French flowers blow me away - how do people work with those tiny little beads????

Craftymoose claims to have been crafting for as long as she can remember, is self-taught and has enjoyed painting, needlework, quilting, polymer clay and jewelry making. Most recently drawn to beads, she has returned to the art of french-beaded flowers. She also has one-of-a-kind beaded art dolls and suncatchers as shown here in this post. Custom requests are welcomed by Craftymoose, so if there is something you would like to see created with her singular type of craft, give her a contact either through her shop or her blog.

And if you're wondering, the name Craftymoose came about because of her love of crafts and her husband's love of moose. Her avatar is the head of a 4'+ tall moose she made for her husband one Christmas - now there's a loving wife!

Friday, November 16, 2007

A Paper DemiGod

Our (the "90 Feature Folk" as Phyllis from PersonalTreasures has dubbed us) resident DemiGod is Michael Gresh, and he is a man of many trades. Designer of hotels by day, craft inventor and schemer by night, a self-proclaimed "paper nut", he is the force behind the Etsy shop Darjeeling Paper.

He is also the co-owner of DemiGod Studio, an ecclectic duo of craft & art show afficionados. When he's not working on plans to open his own shop for DemiGod Studio, he bides his time coming up with new and inventive ways to use up the stockpile of paper he's accumulated over the years. That must be some stash considering the wonderful paper eye-candy he's got listed in his shop. His plans for Darjeeling Paper, Ltd. include a showcase for these paper goods, and to distinguish his works as a new product division of DemiGod. A man with a business plan - his offerings are so lovely and practical, I'm sure he'll be a quite successful DemiGod.

Spend some time checking out Michael's shop, and find out more about his processes on his website and blog, where there are even plans for tutorials in the near future.

O Tannenbaum

a musing following Lesley's post concerning her quest for her perfect pagan symbol.....

Conventional wisdom has the Christmas tree as being co-opted from pagan practices, but not being Druid, I really don't know how it was/is used in pagan celebrations.

I do find it ironic that for something as pervasive in our culture as the tree, that controversy comes in from all sides. Fundamentalist Christians chafe at its pagan roots, non-Christians chafe at the civil display of what they see as a uniquely Christian symbol and therefore inappropriate, and non-believers adopt it as a festive decoration for a holiday that can be celebrated completely stripped of any religious content, back to chafing the believers. And again, I confess ignorance to what the actual pagans are doing or thinking about trees at the Winter Solstice. Maybe they're chafed about all this, too.

How do I as a Christian see my tree?

It is an evergreen to symbolize God's everlasting love for me.

It is chopped down by human hands just as my actions separate me from the love of God.

It is a tree because it was upon a tree that my redemption came through the power of Christ's crucifixion. My church took this symbol further by allowing the trees used at Christmas-time to completely dry out, then they stripped the trunks of their branches and fashioned crucifixes to be used during our Lenten and Easter services. Understanding that those were in fact our Christmas trees enriched the meaning immensely for me - connecting the hope and joy of the promise of the Baby felt back at Christmas with what happened to bring about that hope on Good Friday. That was a powerful message.

It is decorated in lights to symbolize both the stars that shone on the night of Christ's birth, and that Christ is a light to my world.

On the top? A star for the star of Bethlehem that led the magi to the Child, or perhaps an angel to represent the heralds that proclaimed His birth to the shepherds.

Under the tree are gifts to those I love and hold most dear, consecrated at the foot of this symbol just as sacrifices are laid upon an altar. Because God loved me first, I can love others.

And yes, we co-opted the Winter Solstice, too. I heard stories that the reasoning behind the choice of date for Christmas was to specifically supplant the pagan rituals of the Solstice (Hey, the people need a good party in the dead of winter, so let's give 'em a Christian reason to celebrate!), and I have no doubt that was part of the reasoning, but I'm also sure there were probably lots of other pagan rituals they could have wanted to replace. So I think the Solstice was chosen deliberately as the perfect time to celebrate Christ's birth. Just as the earth begins to turn to the sun with the assured promise of the abundance of the coming summer, so, too, can we turn to the Baby born to bring abundant love to us all. These feelings of hope were part of the collective consciousness of people (in December in the Northern Hemisphere, anyway) - what better time to celebrate the hope of salvation?

Even with its "roots" somewhere not connected to Christ's birth, my Christmas Tree is a rich and meaningful symbol to me as a Christian. Do I chafe if someone else has a tree that is used in a secular or pagan manner? Of course not. It's just a pretty tree. But for me, our family tree will be an integral part of my meditations, celebration and joy this coming Season. May your holidays, however you see fit to celebrate them, be filled with hope and joy, too.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Down to Earth

Maybe it's the season, maybe the lack of rain leaving all the grasses tinder-box brown, maybe even my mood....but I found myself drawn to the lovely earth-shades of jewelry in the shops that belong to Etsy artist formerly-known-as-Berry Patch Designs, now becoming Silver Shadow (a change prompted by a name conflict with another e-seller on that OTHER e-site). She also maintains an "alternate reality" shop at Undercurrent. A member of Etsy's EarthPath Artisans Street Team, Berry Patch/Silver Shadow loves life but not drama, animals, people-watching, and keeping an individualistic approach. Here is how she describes her approach to design: "I love to combine the varying colors and textures of the natural world. There are so many feelings and places to love about our world!"

Her materials remind her of those places and feelings: turquoise, jasper and agate in their infinite varieties, other semiprecious gems, like amazonite's soft greens, garnet's rich wine colors, bronzite's gold-flecked chocolate depths. High quality man-made glass and metal beads join in the visual symphony; they have their own brightness and feelings to contribute to her designs.

What does she love most designing jewelry? Hearing and seeing that people enjoy wearing her jewelry. I bet she hears that a lot.

Her "mad ramblings" about jewelry design can be found at her Strains Asylum, and her designs at Berry Patch Designs, Silver Shadow, and Undercurrent.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Feed your Head

and your eyes! I found the work of Etsy jewelry artist Alternate Bliss to have all the aspects of desirable accessories (for me, anyway) - clean style, beautiful materials, and something to spark the mind. Tanya Brumett, a mixed media artist who includes jewelry in her offerings (as well as ACEOs, original art and art prints), works a lot in fine silver clay to create little pure silver masterpieces like the White Rabbit.

I especially love pieces that incorporate words to pique your interest, or reflect your attitude, or focus your daily walk. For many, the word "Imagine" is just that kind of word, even a call to action as it evokes the utopian words of John Lennon.

And speaking of music, an apparent source of inspiration for Alternate Bliss, these "99 Red Balloons" earrings recall the anti-war protest song of Nena's from the '80s, as well as the movie, “Le Ballon Rouge,” a short film directed by French film-maker Albert Lamorisse in 1956. This film follows the adventures of a young boy who finds a large, red balloon throughout the streets of Paris. In their wanderings around Paris, the young boy and the balloon encounter a gang of bullies, but tragedy is replaced by a magically happy ending.

So feed your head with evocative and beautiful jewelry from Alternate Bliss, check out her art while you're there, and find out her musings on life through her blog.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Mommas Know Best

About how to be a chic momma and to pamper their babies! A group of moms, all friends, started making things for their own children and realized that even though they each only had one or two things they each specialized in, collaborating would be more fun and would make for a shop full of things moms all over absolutely couldn't live without. Elle Belle on Etsy was born! They specialize in handmade (of course!) boutique-quality items that make being a Mom easier and more fun!

Take for example their crinkle corner lovey-blankets with the sleeping baby above, or their tag blankets like this cute duckie pattern: both are designed to engage your little one in visual and tactile exploration. Soft fleece and satin combine to make the ducky blanket a potentially favorite cuddly companion. Elle Belle goes the extra mile to make the 12 tags on each blanket unique in texture, size, and color, and they make sure to keep Mom in mind by keeping them a perfectly portable size of 14 x 14 inches so baby can easily play with them in their car seat and they also fit nicely in a diaper bag. They're thinking of everything!

Chic baby fashion is also the name of the game. I can't imagine many things more precious than these crocheted toddler ballet slippers, and their "pillow case" dresses are so versatile they can be proportioned to fit from newborns all the way to size 4. Perfect for any season, they can be worn alone on warm days or with a shirt underneath when it's cooler. Great for matching sister dresses!

Drop by Elle Belle on Etsy, and pay them a visit on their blog to learn more about what Mommas know best.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Company is Coming!

The holiday season is upon us. In fact next week is Thanksgiving - are you ready yet? Ack, I'm not! It's so early this year. But it's not too late to add those special touches to your activities that will make memories of the season last for a lifetime. There's an artist on Etsy that has items that fit that bill nicely, I would think, for those interested in making the season special. At Mommy and Me Boutique the specialty is adult and toddler aprons; fun, funky, traditional, vintage. Just perfect for those holiday baking and cooking activities, and turning what could be a mundane chore into an "event" and a memory cherished for a lifetime - "when Mommy and me made cookies together." These aprons are designed for today's mother and child to show off their own sense of style; you can be sure "these are not your mother "s aprons."

Other passions at Mommy and Me involve creating toddler skirts and baby items and she enjoy sworking with designer fabric and ribbons. Loving care and personal expression are put into each one. All work is done in a pet free and smoke free environment, so you can be assured your fabric items will arrive allergen-free, and ready for making memories.

See more of her lovelies, as "every little girl likes something special" at her Etsy shop and her blog. Now, back to planning for next week!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Spark your creativity

One of the neat things about Etsy is the number of vendors on the site that cater to the new crafters' love of vintage and repurposing of old into new. There are many artists that use the vintage items as part of their new art, and others just love to have the vintage items in their environment. Being of a certain "vintage" myself, sometimes I find things for sale from my own childhood - LOL! Creative Sundries has a shop just chock-full of vintage ephemera, cookbooks, sewing patterns, jewelry, and collage art and repurposed items - all of that certain "age."

This fun little plastic tray from American Airlines has been altered through decoupage and the addition of an authentic Mexican loteria card - perfect for your keys, don't you think? Or maybe change you're saving for a "rainy" day?

Vintage on Etsy is about taking the old and making the new.....what could you do with this funky image from a newspaper ad for a pharmacy? Insert it into a collage perhaps? But you should see what's on back of this original newspaper ad - perhaps an even more compelling image to work with. But you'll have to click on the pic to get to the listing to see for yourself!

So Etsy is not only your one-stop-shop for all things handmade, but also a treasure trove for materials and inspiration. Come check out what the Minnesota mother-daughter team of Creative Sundries is doing with vintage, and read more on their blog.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Fired up for Wired Up

I got the opportunity to e-interview Etsy jewelry artist Alicia Weeks from Wyred On Wire - an artist who loves to work in wire and semi-precious gemstones as much as I do.

So Alicia, how did you get into your craft? When I was 8 years old my grandparent bought me a huge beading kit for Christmas. I fell in love with beads and jewelry that day. I loved putting the different colors combinations together from there it grew.

What inspires you? I'm inspired by life in general. There isn't much that doesn't inspire me: friends, family other artist, media. I can go for a walk and be inspired or a trying to sleep.

What challenges you in your art? Pictures, Pictures, Pictures. I definitely need to work on my photography skills in the new year. I will be getting a new camera and getting some lessons.

How long have you had your shop? I joined Etsy in March; however, it was awhile afterwards that I started posting items for sale.

Do you consider your shop a job or a hobby? I don't consider making my jewelry a job. I love making my jewelry. However, the paperwork, the photography, web presence, etc., does sometimes turn it into a job.

Do you have any advice for fellow Etsy shop owners? I don't think I have really been here long enough to give advice for Etsy shop owners, but some good advice to anyone: be true to yourself.

And lastly, what is your favorite fun fact about yourself? It's not really a fun fact, I think it's rather sad and slightly ironic. I love earrings; however, I am allergic to them. I still wear them. I just make sure that when I am home I take them out. Yes, a jewelry designer who is allergic to earrings.

Thanks, Alicia, for sharing about yourself and your work. So sorry about that earring allergy! The lovely items featured here are available at Wyred on Wire, and you can find out more about Alicia at Blogger and on her gallery website.