Monday, October 24, 2016

Where Form Meets Function: HandmadeMN Solutions to Life’s Little Problems

by Jeff Ambroz
Jeff Ambroz Art

HandmadeMN makers are known for their beautiful, artistic wares.  People across the nation—and globe—buy these handmade goods for the beauty they bring to daily living.

Beauty aside, there’s another way to view the work of HandmadeMN members.  Many of the items they create also solve some of the little, day-to-day challenges we all face.

How many hours of your life have you wasted searching for keys, a wallet or a cell phone?  How often do you look at all the clutter in your entryway and say, “I give up!”   Fortunately, KensCustomIron has a solution for you.  This sturdy, handcrafted iron wall shelf will help you stay organized, and offer rustic beauty to your space.
Stay stylishly organized with this rustic iron wall shelf.
Now that temperatures have dropped, we need solutions to keep our hands warm, but sometimes gloves render our hands practically useless.  (Ever tried to make change at an outdoor, volunteer-run concession stand in mittens or gloves?)  And let’s face it, we’ve all lost more gloves than we care to count.  BellaMariaCreations creates this attractive mitten scarf that lets you dip your hands in and out of the cozy, warm pockets as you need.
Keep your hands warm, all season long.
Falling temperatures also mean gift giving season will soon be in full swing.  Gift cards make practical, much-appreciated gifts (especially Etsy gift cards!), but it can sometimes seem like an impersonal choice.  We have a solution!  AnniesPaperGarden’s gift card holder will elevate your gift presentation to new heights.  Choose this one, or select from many others that are as equally artful.
Keep several of these artistic gift card holders on hand to make gift giving simple.

Losing a needle is annoying, but also potentially dangerous.  When you drop a needle, you know you have to find it to avoid a future, pokey surprise.  This needle minder by Emilyruthdesigns is a cute and clever way to keep your needle in place.
This clever needle keeper comes in a variety of fun patterns.

Creating with yarn is relaxing and enjoyable, until you find yourself in a tangled mess.  JustTurned’s yellow birch yarn bowl will keep your favorite yarns in excellent working condition as you knit or crochet the hours away.  Plus, it’s so beautifully made you’ll be pleased to leave it out on display in your living space.
This beautifully constructed yarn bowl is sure to become a family heirloom.
Remember, all of these beautiful and functional items are available to you as a HandmadeMN Etsy shopper.  Explore the HandmadeMN shops for even more handcrafted solutions to make your life easier.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Handmade History: Halloween

by Kate McCreight, guest blogger

You didn't think we'd get all the way through October without a Halloween post, did you? This month, Handmade History is exploring Halloween: What are the origins? How did we get to modern day Halloween - the candy, the trick or treats, decor, costumes? And, of course, there are plenty of HandmadeMN goodies to be found.

Handmade rag cloth doll, A Sugar & Spice Life
Today's Halloween is a merger of holidays and traditions observed over October 31, November 1 and 2 by ancient Celts, Medieval Christians, Colonial Americans, and Irish immigrants of the 19th century. 

Halloween evolved from the ancient Celtic holiday Samhain, the end of the harvest and beginning of a long, cold, and dark winter (and it's association with death), and also the Celtic new year, which took place on November 1. The night before Samhain - October 31 - was believed to be a time when the divisions between the living and the spirit world became blurred. Spirits were believed be malicious, and people donned masks, so ghosts would assume they were fellow spirits. To appease the spirits, gifts of food were left outside their homes. Bonfires were lit, stories were told, and it was considered an auspicious time for divining the future.

The Goblin Man sheet music magnet, Auntie B's Wax
In the 8th century, Pope Gregory moved All Saints' Day to November 1, and, later,  November 2 became All Souls' Day, merging the pagan Samhain with Christian traditions. It was even celebrated in much the same way - lighting large community bonfires and dressing in costume. Also known as All Hallows, or All Hallomas (from the Middle English word for All Saints' Day - Alholowmesse), the night before became All Hallows' Eve, then Halloween.

For the American Colonists, Puritan religious restrictions limited the celebration of Halloween, but friends and neighbors still gathered during this time to celebrate the harvest. Ghost stories and mischief-making were all part of the celebrations.

The Medieval tradition of Guising - children dress up and accept food, wine, and money in exchange for telling a joke, performing a trick, singing a song - was revived in the 1850s by Irish immigrants in America. This, of course, became what we know as trick or treating.

Halloween tricks or treaters, 1934. From the collections of the Minnesota Historical Society, GT4.6 p13. 
Old encyclopedia treat bags, TC Witchcraft Factory
The Victorians further shaped Halloween, molding it into a holiday focused on community gatherings, and parties for children and adults became the most popular way to celebrate.

Halloween costume party, c 1900. From the collections of the Minnesota Historical Society, GT4.6 r6.

Up until the 1950s, however, it was more about the tricks than treats - and Halloween vandalism was commonplace.

Halloween stunt: lawn furniture and other items on house, c 1923. From the collections of the Minnesota Historical Society, GT4.6 r2.
Trick or treating and community festivities were revived in the Baby Boom years, turning the holiday into the secular, child-focused event we know it as today. It's also a multi-billion dollar industry - second only to Christmas. Between candy, costumes, and decorations, Americans spent more than $6 billion last year.
Trick or treat pillowcase, Looks Sew Nice

Halloween window display, October 20, 1949. From the collections of the Minnesota Historical Society, NP 190941.

Flying black bats wall decal, Twistmo Home Decor
Share your Halloween traditions and plans - I'd love to hear how each of you make this holiday special in your home.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Made Just for You

by Cindy Lindgren

Do you want to give a gift to a specific person or commemorate a special event? We have HandmadeMN members who can personalize their handmade gifts for you. These are truly special custom gifts you will love to give and your loved ones will love to receive.
Chatter by Hammer offers this Memory Bracelet using a piece of loved one's clothing attached to  a copper bracelet with custom engraved text.

My Little Chickadee can personalize all her tile items including wedding favors and ornaments. 
Gemstone Talisman adds an initial stamped sterling silver disc to the November birthstone Citrane necklace that comes in a gift bag.
Sharon's Compendium offers custom book plate stickers for baby showers,  bridal showers or other gift books.You can customize what the goat says, too. What would you have the goat say?
Perfect for babies, weddings or birthdays, your one-of-a-kind illustration by Amative Art can be customized to include symbolic interests, dates or phrases.
Bring a big smile to your mom, grandma, friend, sister, aunt or bestie with with this twisted bracelet with pearl accent to celebrate family from Metaling Susie.
Any of Just Turned cocktail shakers or travel mugs can be customized with laser engraving.
Wooden Name Puzzles are just one sample of customized work done by Little Wooden Wonders that also include natural organic toys, ornaments tethers and baby blocks
Party Girl Artwork says custom signs are always an option in her shop.
Please check with each shop owner to see how much extra time is needed to complete your special custom gift.