Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Upcoming Shows

I'll be vending at the Boston Bazaar Bizarre this Sunday!

And the SOWA Holiday Market on Saturday, December 10th.

I got this nice plug in the Boston Globe on Sunday, November 27th:

Hope to see you at one of my shows or Open Studios at Western Ave on Sunday, December 11 from 12-5.

Monday, October 24, 2011

New Made in Lowell Product!

I have been hankering for a long time to make a soft ornament in a heart shape. Finally I could hold back no longer and this little dude burst forth from my fingers.

I made it at my studio where I didn't have crochet supplies, so I sewed the edging with embroidery floss. When I got home I made more hearts but this time with a crocheted edge like the one I developed when I made the cashmere scarf.

This one is ready for its vintage buttons:

I'm using some of the many sweaters I've collected and felted since I got my studio back in 2007. I've been thinking all these years of lots of ways to use my felted sweaters but I haven't moved forward on any of those other ideas yet. So it feels good to be using the sweaters for these friendly hearts which I think would work as lovely gifts year 'round.

I hope to get them listed in my Etsy shop, but probably the best way to get one is to attend Open Studios at Western Avenue Studios on November 5th.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Craft show season!

At the end of August Dell and I drove up to Portland, Maine to attend Picnic Portland, an outdoor crafts and music festival. It was extra fun to walk around and play tourist instead of being a vendor myself. The bonus was that so many of my amazing friends were set up and selling! Here's a recap of the people I saw and since it is show season, I asked them to tell me where they will be selling in the coming months so you can go find them and purchase their excellent handmade wares.

First up is Danielle of Merriweather Council! I love her intricate and elegant embroidery, I will soon have TWO of her hoops hanging on my studio wall.

Check the calendar section on her blog to see where you can find Danielle's work in person:

Next I found Eling of Migration Goods and Rhino Fluff with all her adorable hand-cut felt accessories and her beautiful handspun yarn:

Check out the links in the sidebar of her blog to see where Eling is showing this season:

Next I was pleased to run across Laura of Pansy Maiden, especially since I have one of her wonderful bags :)

Find Laura's list of upcoming events here:

Another bag maker I love is Lisa of Red Staggerwing. I have a bag from her on my wishlist, the materials she uses are fun and contemporary, and I love the bag shapes as well.

You can get a beautiful bag of your own at Lisa's upcoming shows:
9/24 Concord Arts Market, Concord, NH
9/25 SOWA
10/8 & 10/9 Warner Fall Foliage Festival, Warner NH
10/15 - back at Concord Arts Market, Concord, NH
10/16 - Portsmouth Open Market, Portsmouth, NH
10/29 - Concord Arts Market
10/30 - SOWA
11/26 & 27 Hingham Shipyard Holiday Market, Hingham, MA
12/4 Bazaar Bizarre, Cyclorama Boston
12/10 SOWA Holiday Market, Boston

Jen of Zooguu was also there, with her adorable plushies. They are irresistible to children and adults alike! I have a fox ornament and I can't wait to put it on the tree this year:

Check out the cuteness at Jen's upcoming shows listed on her shop homepage:

Last year Dell and I bought all our holiday cards at craft shows, it was tremendous fun and I suggest you do the same. A great place to start would be with letterpress artist Melissa of Pressbound:

Check her events page to see where you can find Melissa's paper goods this season:

Another purveyor of paper goods was at the show, the lovely Kristin Crane! Her travel inspired journals are perfect for those with wanderlust:

Check out her paper-goodness at these locations:
November 11 & 12: Twist, in Northampton
November 20 & December 11: Craftopia in Pawtucket
And of course the amazing Craftland shop in Providence, RI!

I met Amy of AG Ambroult on the craft show circuit, I love her handcrafted jewelry, it manages to be rustic and elegant at the same time:

Find her work here this holiday season:

Portsmouth Open Market Oct 9
South End Open Market Oct 30
Hingham Shipyard Holiday Market Nov 26&27
SoWa Holiday Market Dec10

There were two people I'd developed craft crushes on over Twitter and I was undaunted by threat of impending hurricane as I raced northward to meet my e-friends. The first is Cassie of Shop Clementine (not pictured) whose delicate and thoughtful jewelry has everyone captivated:

Find Cassie's work in her Etsy shop and at these fine shops:

Grow Gallery, Shelburne Falls, MA
The Feather's Edge, Bend, OR
Monograham, Delafield, WI
Sacred Hour, Lakewood, OH
Sassafras, Rochester, NY
Rural Route 1, Chicago
Andi's Closet, Duluth, MN

The other crush was on Amanda of Longwinter Farm. I'd bought her soaps a long time before I found her sassy tweets on my twitter.

By the way, my shop crushes were justified, they are real and they are spectacular. Cassie and Amanda, I mean. Amanda's soaps and balms can be purveyed in her Etsy shop!

I hope you get to visit these fine hard working makers this season! You can find where I'll be showing on my Appearing Live and shop links sidebars over there ---->

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Making Custom Wedding Invites

My amazing niece, Alexandra, got engaged last year to a fantastic guy, Alex, and immediately I knew I wanted to make her wedding invitations if she would let me! I made her brother's invitations some years ago but wasn't sure if the kids these days even used paper invites anymore. But when I offered she said YES!

Along with her wonderful fiancé, we worked together over the internet (they were attending school in the midwest) on a design that would reflect the elegant wedding they were planning. We chose cream and black for the color scheme. Then they looked at some samples on a commercial website to show me the style that appealed to them the most. Once I knew their preferred style I was able to create a completely original design for them.

Though a wedding starts an entire married life together, the actual day really ends up being a snapshot frozen in time and there's no way to prevent it from eventually appearing a bit dated, though that's not a bad thing. For that reason, I wasn't worried about using a current trend in the design: lace.

I scanned a piece of found lace, reversed the color and painstakingly modified it in Photoshop to create the design element I eventually used on the invite.

Here you see on the left the original lace, scanned and with the white and black reversed. On the right is the design I extracted from the fabric pattern to create a whole new image.

We determined I would make 100 invitations so once I had a finished sample I got the go ahead from the happy couple and printed the design and text two-up on cream cardstock and cut the pages apart...

...then adhered them to black cardstock with an 1/8 inch border all around.

Additionally, to add a little more elegance, I traced and hand-cut liners for all the envelopes from silver shimmer paper.

It's a simple design, but reflects the level of formality (black tie optional) and aesthetic of the wedding. I was delighted that everyone was pleased with the results!

And it must have worked because a lot of people showed up for a very beautiful wedding this past weekend.

Me with the Bride:

I don't know if they've opened gifts yet, but when they do they'll find I created an additional surprise gift of thank you notes in a coordinating design.

Congratulations Alexandra and Alex! You are a wonderful couple with many years of happiness ahead of you. Thanks for letting me be a part of your special day.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Lowell Folk Festival 2011

A quick note to mention I will be vending at the Lowell Folk Festival this weekend as part of Art in the Courtyard again this year!

Come by and see what's new :) Here I am madly prepping inventory for the show:

Friday, July 15, 2011

Creating Hits and Misses

Makers come up with a LOT of ideas for products. We are sometimes bombarded hourly with brand new insights or variations on existing pieces. This usually happens right before we really need to fall asleep, and/or at the height of fevered seasons like fall when making prototypes for new products is impossible because we are in full on production mode for the holiday rush. We make lists, try not to forget the ideas and hope that later, in January, we'll still have the same excitement and enthusiasm we did when first the lightning struck.

When you surf our polished online shops or peruse our carefully laid out craft show booths, you are seeing the best of our work, the items we dreamed and then somehow conjured into existence. One in every color and size. A lot of work has gone into those collections and we are hoping that our creations are met with excitement and purchases. We all want a hit product.

When the items we perfected over weeks, months, years are met with oohs and ahhs and smiles, there is no better feeling on earth. But sometimes our brilliant idea is...

...a dud.

A collection that in the dreaming stages seemed like it couldn't miss is suddenly a stack of baggage. Overstock. Discontinued. Clearance. It's heartbreaking, baffling, and exhausting.

We spent so much time planning, making prototypes, perfecting and finally producing this adorable thing, then sent it out into the world with vulnerable hope. Why doesn't anyone love it?

It's possible we just didn't get it in front of the right eyes, or it's priced wrong for its ideal customer and we can't reduce it because then we'd be taking a bath. Or it's the wrong season, or we are ahead of our time (I prefer that one), or really, it's just not what people want.

I can't imagine throwing something I made away, sometimes I'll give things away. Mostly I try to adapt the ill begotten thing into a new thing and see if that changes its luck.

For example (as much as this hurts, I am going to give an example! Deep breath):

I made these tiny crochet flower earrings for summer last year. I crocheted for hours, making matching flowers in every color, excitedly running to the store for new string options. I starched each flower a little bit, not too much, so it would hold its shape. I spent forever sorting and matching vintage buttons for the little centers, sewed them on with carefully selected thread. Attached sterling earring components. Put them on cards I designed, printed and cut apart. Took and edited photos. All of this. And the response was...crickets. Nothing. I had a dud.

Once the shock and disappointment wore off, I decided I could re-purpose the flowers into rings:

And guess what? The rings are selling.

So my points are twofold. First, for the crafter, I feel for you. I know how it goes and I'm sending virtual hugs for all your unloved and discarded brilliant ideas. I hope you are able to morph them into hot sellers.

Second, I guess I wanted to show the shopping public how much work we put into things that don't pan out in order for us to have a collection that does appeal. What you don't see are all the mistakes, false starts and huge investments of time and resources into dead-end ideas. Making things for a living is hard! Figuring out what people want to buy that we also want to make is a constant struggle.

And we love it, wouldn't trade it for anything.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Ceramic repair demonstration, decorative plate

PLEASE NOTE: I do not offer ceramic repair services. I hope this post gives you enough information to try doing your own repairs. Also, you can search for someone who offers ceramic repair services in your area.

A good friend brought this sad collection of shards to me wrapped in brown paper. It wasn't a valuable item, but it was part of a 4 plate set that was a gift from her mother, could I repair it? Yes, yes I could

But first I needed a plastic tub, and a bag of sand.

I learned when I was trained to repair ceramics professionally that the best way to repair a plate, or even the handle on a mug, is to anchor part of the broken item in sand, then balance the part you are gluing on top of it.

I try a dry run, seeing if the piece balances without my holding it, then I apply two part 5 minute epoxy glue.

I test all the pieces for fit first like I discussed in my previous ceramic repair post. I want to be sure to assemble the pieces in the correct order to prevent the sad experience of not being able to fit the last piece because it is "locked out". Sometimes that entails gluing smaller pieces to each other first, thereby making fewer larger pieces to fit together.

I only glue two pieces together at a time. I wipe any glue from areas where I will need to fit another piece using a Q-tip dipped in acetone.

While the glue is still uncured, I run my fingers across the crack line compulsively, seeing if I can detect a ridge that would indicate a poor fit. If there's a ridge, I nudge, delicately, the part that is slightly off so it aligns more accurately, then I check the crack again with my fingertips, sometimes my fingernails, making sure the join is smooth along its entire length.

I do that quickly, before the 5 minute glue sets up, using acetone to clean any excess glue off my fingertips.

Once the epoxy is cured, I fill the cracks and chips with vinyl spackling compound, the kind you would use on drywall. When that dries, I use specialty glass paper (sand paper that won't scratch glass or ceramic) to sand it flat for painting.

Then I mix acrylic paints to match the missing spots, when that dries, I use water based glossy polyurethane to make the painted areas match the shine of the glaze.

The repairs aren't invisible, but from a reasonable distance, no-one would notice!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Find me online

I'm always online, either here, on Twitter, checking email, posting pictures to Flickr.

But being on someone else's blog is a special thrill so here are two other places you can find me today:

No Big Dill is hosting a pincushion ring giveaway on her blog! Be sure and leave a comment to enter.

And on Scoutie Girl, which is a wonderful resource for crafters and craft lovers. Dannielle Cresp interviewed me for a little feature on where craftiness comes from.

Yay! Thank you Internets!!