Friday, May 29, 2009

Fun Friday Finds ~ Shades of Turquoise and Rose

by Artistic Edition

Shades of Turquoise & Rose
(Click on the image to enlarge)

Visit these HandmadeMN shops to see more:
Click on any of the names below
First Row (Left to Right): LieblingDesigns, retrovertigo, waternymph, DancingJems
Second Row (Left to Right): Crafterall, greensquirrel, LuckyLolaDesigns, ogeorge
Third Row (Left to Right): SuzAndRoo, jenNco2, capturedtimebooks, miltonandmargies
Fourth Row (Left to Right): ModernMeetsWhimsy, MaryAnnCleary, sinisterbags, kellybot

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Spring & Summer Delights

Spring his here, summer just around the corner - it's a time for picnics, bright accessories, and bursts of color.

As the days stretch out and the warmth lets us soak up as much of the sun and fresh air as we can, I find myself drawn to light, airy pastels, and bold, rich colors...anything that illustrates the change in seasons and weather. I mean, we made it out of winter, afterall! In Minnesota that is certainly something to celebrate!

Here are a few of my favorite things that are perfect for the warmer months!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Eight Questions with...Jessica Sawyer

by Kat Lewinski

Meet Jessica Sawyer. Jessica lives in Rochester, MN with an obnoxious cat & two horses. She works in a Physiology Research Lab and learns about how the body works which she says is pretty neat. That may be her job but she spends all day long daydreaming about new designs and photographs and video. You can find Jessica on her Etsy store, Cholula Jewelry and her blog, Jessi Makes Jewelry.

1. What types of items do you sell in your store?

Sweet and sassy metalwork. I currently have an assortment of rings, pendants, bracelets, and earrings - mostly made in sterling silver but I've been playing with copper accents and stand alone pieces as well! I love pretty stones and try to make lots of stuff with them.
2. Where do you get your inspiration?

Oh, pretty much everywhere. My walks to and from work, things I see on the ground, landscapes, the ocean, travel, a pretty pattern, the barn, my horses, loverly stones that need equally beautiful settings. It's ongoing. I daydream about new pieces of jewelry, scenes for film and photographs, little drawings. I doodle on everything all of the time and get uncomfortable if I'm notebook-less because ideas are coming to me all of the time. I finalize a lot of my work as I'm falling asleep. For whatever reason, that's when my lightbulb moments hit. I think my brain gets quiet enough that I can have those "aha!" moments when everything falls into place. The rest of the time it's racing too fast to keep up. Unfortunately I usually fall asleep within about 2 minutes of laying down (at most), so I don't have enough time to process nearly all of the day's sensory load.

Other artists are truly some of the best inspiration available - how else would we have gotten to where we are with art?

3. Do you have a specific space where you do most of your work?

It largely depends on what I'm doing. I make wax molds for casting at my apartment on my kitchen table that's never seen a meal. I have a small table set up with my basic stuff (torch, soldering board, etc) for fabrication in my dad's garage, and I usually set stones on their kitchen counter. Even with such a small, basic setup I'm only marginally limited in what I can make (mostly at this time due to my teeny torch).

4. When did you first start crafting?

Can I say since birth to simplify things? If we want to get really technical about it, I've been doing all sorts of little things since I was very young. I'm always happier when my hands are busy. My first "big" crafting project was embroidery floss bracelets...I went through a phase where I couldn't stop making them. If I had free hands they were going to town tying knots. My dad, a surgeon, said I could tie better knots than many of the doctors who knew...and I was 8!

As far as when I actually began working with metal, I was 15 when I took my first jewelry class and I was pretty awful at it.

5. Do you do any crafts or art beyond what you sell?

If I had the time I would do everything out there I could get my hands on. I go through knitting phases, mostly, again, to keep my hands busy. I have a lot of started scarves laying around from that. Recently I've become quite enamored with needle felting. I love anything fiber; someday I'd like to learn how to spin. I'm also a photographer, have mixed media projects going often, and someday I hope to be able to get back into video/film as well as sculpture. Can you see why I couldn't pick a "focus" as an art major in college? I really want to do it all!

6. What are your favorite places to buy supplies?

I only bought from Rio Grande for a long time, as I didn't realize there was anywhere else. They have the most complete collection of "stuff Jessi needs" so I still use them quite a bit. I'm always on the look out for new places to buy unique stones, and I do like buying cabs at a local jeweler. I try to shop on etsy to support other sellers on there, but there aren't too many people selling the jewelry supplies I need.

7. What is the best thing you've ever done to promote your etsy store?

That has yet to be determined. Keeping friends and family updated has probably been the most successful, but truthfully I haven't done a whole lot to promote.
8. What other etsy store(s) do you really like?

How much time do you have? I have a weakness for pottery, quirky stuff, poppies, fiber, photographs, houses, mixed media, and vintage/vintage-esque dresses. Among other supplies. Shiny things.

Here are some picked at random from my hearted collection:

Poodle Breath
Retro Repro Handmade (people should wear more hats.)
Chloe Le Pichon Ceramics
The Last Circus

I think I'll stop there, I could really go on all day!

If you are a member of HandmadeMN & would like to be featured in Eight Questions email me at katbaro at yahoo dot com.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Why Buy Handmade?

Written by Meredith from Mtart & Stormtrooper1.

Buying Handmade:
-makes for more personal gift-giving.
-is better for local economy.
-helps us reconnect.
-is healthier for the environment aka "greener".
-is often one-of-a-kind items.
-makes you feel good.
-is FUN!
-is often crafted better.
-is made from love, passion, time and effort.
-can be customized.
-seems to make people feel more special.
-helps parents stay home with their children.
-is more unique.
-ROCKS!, buy handmade!

This is just the list that I could think of, I am sure there are more wonderful reasons. I encourage you (the reader) to add more as comments. It would be great to have more creative, fun and honest ideas to buy handmade!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Fun Friday Finds ~ Young at Heart

by Artistic Edition

Young at Heart

...aren't they just the cutest little finds you've ever seen?!

Visit these HandmadeMN shops to see more:
Click on any of the names below
First Row (Left to Right): ElizabethHurley, PlushroomSoup, Fandangled, DangerKittyDesigns
Second Row (Left to Right): soduel, retrovertigo, rebekaha, SkylarkDawn
Third Row (Left to Right): SweetGracies, CreativeSundries, turnarounddesign, tinab76
Fourth Row (Left to Right): palettepassion, MagneticOriginals, scissorsavvy, LollyBopBaby

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Local Scene - Downtown Stillwater

By Wild Dog Studio

A popular summer destination, Stillwater is a beautiful river town located in the St Croix Valley. It’s charming, historic downtown is dotted with unique shops, galleries and restaurants, just waiting to be explored.

My husband and I recently spent an enjoyable Saturday afternoon there. We browsed a few antique stores together, then split up. I took in the fabulous handmade finds at the Rivertown Art Festival while he checked out the beers at the Brewers Bazaar.

We met back up a couple hours later at The Freight House for a couple drinks and some fabulous sweet potato fries (yum!).

All in all, a great afternoon spent in this charming river town.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Writing A Business Plan - Part II

By Michelle
Of Evie's Tool Emporium

Last month I wrote a brief article about writing a business plan.
After I wrote that article I thought about how hard it is sometimes to actually sit down and do it. Thinking about writing a business plan and actually writing a business plan are two different trains of thought!

Have you thought about writing a business plan in the last month? Did you write your business plan in the last month? Do you already have a business plan? If you already have a business plan how soon did you write it when you were starting your business?

There is a new study that was published in February 2009 that finds that entrepreneurs who engage in business planning early on are more likely to at least get a business off the ground. Take time today to write your business plan. It will improve the odds of your business being successful!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Raw Fleece ~ Washing the Wool

by MaryAnn Cleary

For those who are interested in buying raw fleece and washing it to spin or felt, here are the basics for the cleaning process or what is known as “scouring” it.

Raw Fleece

While visiting my daughter in Montana, the seminar on scouring fleece had been canceled due to weather. So to replace that time, we made a visit to a local, organic sheep ranch called Thirteen Mile Lamb & Wool. They not only sell organic lamb, but also fleece, handspun yarn, roving and batting. I love being able to choose a fleece that I want for my spinning needs by feeling and touching a fleece “hands-on”. Needless to say the choices were overwhelming, but I settled on a mix breed that had a wonderful fleece and dark color. My skirted fleece weighed over 8 pounds (skirting is the process of removing the unwanted parts of the fleece – around the legs, belly, etc. that are usually short, matted and very dirty).

Teased fleece with some of the debris(left), teased fleece (right)

Depending on the fleece, the first step is to decide how much you will wash at a time. For these instructions, I will be doing a small portion for demo purposes. The fleece will need to have the extraneous straw and dirt particles removed. This is done by a process called “teasing”. The wool fibers of the fleece are pulled apart with the unwanted debris falling out. It is good to have a newspaper underneath or just do it outside.

There are many different ways of “scouring” a fleece. I found this recipe in one of my books on spinning, scribbled on the inside cover. When washing or scouring a fleece, it is important not to mix, scrub or agitate the fleece unless, of course, you want it to felt up. The next most important thing to remember is to NOT have sudden temperature changes. The temperature of the water should not go from extreme hot to extreme cold as this, too, will felt the wool.

The recipe that I found is a 4-step process. Nowadays, it is difficult to find King Lear or Ivory boxed soap so I use one of the liquid detergents that do not contain enzymes. It is made for fine garments. This type is a lot easier on the wool fibers.

I also try to put the teased wool into a bag made from netting. It is easy to buy some netting at the fabric store and sew up three sides and have one edge open and stuff the wool in for washing. This keeps the wool from going down the drain and lets debris fall away from the wool when scouring.

Teased fleece in a netted bag - water after step 1 - bagged fleece in step 2 or 3

Scouring Wool – Solutions


Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Step 4


Any amount

Per Gallon

Per Gallon

Any amount

Soda (baking)


1 ½ Tablespoon

1 teaspoon




1 ½ teaspoons

1 ½ teaspoon



3 minutes

2 ½ minutes

1 ½ minutes

1 ½ minutes


90 F

130 F

125 F

120 F

The above solutions are just guidelines. Usually, I just use hot water from my faucet and it is around 120F. Remember, hot water will not felt wool, but agitation and sudden temperature changes will.

I will fill up the sink (a double sink is great for this process as each step can be prepared while the wool is soaking). When transferring to the next solution, gently squeeze out the excess water before putting it into the fresh solution.

After the scouring process, the wool can be put on screen or towel and let dry. If the clean fleece is put outside, this only takes a short time.

Clean fleece drying outside

Once the wool is clean, the next step is to prepare it for spinning or felting or even dyeing, but that is another lesson.

April Challenge Winner - fuzfrenzy

By Wild Dog Studio

Congratulations to Jennifer of fuzfrenzy for winning April's HandmadeMN monthly challenge! It was a tight race, with only 3 votes separating the top two entries.

Thanks to all who participated in this month's challenge, and stay tuned for some fun "Beachy" entries in the May challenge!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Fun Friday Finds ~ The Quilter's Kitchen

by Artistic Edition

The Quilter's Kitchen
(Click on the image to enlarge)

Visit these HandmadeMN shops to see more:
Click on any of the names below
First Row (Left to Right): rebekaha, mepottery, lunafeliz, capturedtimebooks
Second Row (Left to Right): SkylarkDawn, byrdandbelle, suepariseaupottery, drewjaeger
Third Row (Left to Right): GlassGardenDesigns, Crafterall, TheCozyCorsetCuff, Chazzt82
Fourth Row (Left to Right): TCWitchcraftFactory, Stormtrooper1, auntiebonline, StephaniesStitchings

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Creative Shows: An Inside Look

Confession: when I chose this section of the blog I was perhaps being a bit selfish…craft fairs and shows are somewhat of a mystery to me. I figured there is no better way to get an inside look than interviewing show-goers and writing about it!

I also, of course, hope this can help others. Whether you’ve shown at shows before or have never been to one, there are tips, tricks, set ups, and everything in between to give a hand to everyone!

This week I’ve interviewed Jen Clark from Rochester, MN about Thursdays on First, an open air market in downtown Rochester. The market is a great place to grab a bite to eat at lunch time, browse some handmade goods, listen to homegrown music and even pick up some fresh veggies for dinner!

This will be a 2 part piece, look for part 2 next week!

1. What is your name, where are you from, etsy shop address, and what do you make?

My name is Jen Clark, from the Rochester, MN area most of my life. My Etsy shop address is and I make hemp jewelry. Our shop is a collective. My mother (Carlene Roberson) makes beaded jewelry, my uncle (Brian Jungers) makes stained glass mosaics, and my fiance' (Dennis Senn) also makes hemp jewelry. Also available in our shop are my son's drawings.

2. Tell us a little bit about Thursdays on First. The environment, who can sell there, who runs the show, etc.

Thursdays on First and Third Market and Music Festival (or TOF) is a juried show open to all crafters and artists as well as musicians and food vendors who are interested. The market has expanded from meager beginnings a few years ago and now takes up 3 blocks of space and has over 150 vendors. There are at least 2 shows/bands per week and several food vendors. There are also farmer's market goods, plants, and vendors and artists representing a wide variety of local talents. The show is run by the Rochester Downtown Alliance: which is headed by Mette Burkhalter.

3. What were some of your favorite booths at Thursdays on First last year?

My overall favorite booth has to be our cookie vendor friend, Kristen. She makes bite-sized cookies in a cup and has 3 different varieties. The ginger ones were my favorite, but she also has peanut butter or sugar cookies. She was also interviewed by the Rochester Post Bulletin, as she was usually sold out of her cookies before 2:00 p.m., sometimes sooner. Kristen paired up with a popcorn vendor who has a shop in the subway area. She literally couldn't bake enough cookies to keep up with her demand, so she was taking pre-orders for the following week from customers. Her cookies are the best!

We also loved Dave the glass blower (his stuff works great in our hemp designs), Dave Edens who made wonderful wooden shelves and other wood creations, and probably tons of others whose names escape me!

(how to prepare for a craft show, tips for first timers, and successful, customer-friendly set-ups!)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Eight Questions with...Wilma Travis

by Kat Lewinski

Meet Wilma from Crystal, MN. Wilma is the single parent of three children & has 2 grandchildren. Her two oldest live in NY while her youngest son lives with her as he has a traumatic brain injury. Unfortunately, she has been unemployed since January & is looking for a job. You can find Wilma in three different places on the web; her Etsy store, Wilma's Whimsey's, her website, Wilma's Whimsey's and her blog, Wilma's Whimsey's 

1. What types of items do you sell in your store? 

Currently in my Etsy store I sell handmade Lampwork beads, and on my website I sell both my handmade lampwork beads, and Jewelry and gifts made from my beads
2. Where do you get your inspiration?

Inspiration comes from sitting in front of my torch looking at the selection of rod colors that I have and deciding what to make. Other inspiration comes from watching commercials to see what kind of jewelry they are wearing, and what the new color trends are for the season. See TV is good!

3. Do you have a specific space where you do most of your work?

All of my torching is done in the downstairs family room which has a concrete floor. we took the rug up and divided the room into lounge for TV watching and me for torching. My jewelry making is done upstairs in the what used to be dining room. We don't eat anymore hahaha...actually we eat in front of the TV

4. When did you first start crafting?

My first crafting began when I was a teenager and learned how to sew, knit and crochet. I have done many crafts since then, always finding something new to try until I finally found lampwork and jewelry making.
5. Do you do any crafts or art beyond what you sell?

Currently I am trying to learn more things to use my beads in, like hemp (macramé (sp) ), wire wrapping, Viking knit and chain malle

6. What are your favorite places to buy supplies?

I guess it would be online at any one of the best glass dealers such as Frantz or Howaco Glass. I love to trade my beads for gems or findings with my cyber buddies or anyone who likes to trade. Last year I traded my jewelry for a beautiful handbag.

7. What is the best thing you've ever done to promote your etsy store?

I belong to a couple of wonderful teams, one of them is eSMArts, which is a group on promoting and marketing your items. The most wonderful thing I did was to donate to the team store which is set up to sell our team items and use the money to help those in need. The team store is
8. What other etsy store(s) do you really like?

I have a few store that I really like, most of them deal with gems and findings, but I truly love m5creations and Glorious Hats as well as Artistic EditionsThe Cozy Corset Cuff, JanRa Jewelry Designs, Drew Jaeger, Danger Kitty Designs, The Snuggery, Kellybot, and pinwithfury.

If you are a member of HandmadeMN & would like to be featured in Eight Questions email me at katbaro at yahoo dot com.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

HandmadeMN Favorites: Wall Graphics

How many of you, like me, have stripped wallpaper and vowed you will never again put anything on your walls other than paint?! However, like me, you are getting sick of those flat boring walls. Well, if you have not seen them yet, vinyl wall decals are the rage. They are removable are inexpensive, but they look like you hired a professional artist to custom paint your walls.

For the longest time, I had wanted to hand-paint our table prayer on the soffit in our dining room, but I never got around to doing it. That is probably a good thing because I avoided the messy paint and painstaking time of hand-painting. I simply custom ordered it in vinyl. When people see it they are sure I must be hand-painted.

My next project is to put one up in our bathroom. I have painted the walls a deep periwinkle blue and am thinking of doing a white decal to match our white fixtures. It is another project that I have considered hand-painting, but after the ease of putting up the graphic in the dining room, I have decided to put up a vinyl graphic. Now, I just have to decide which one. We have a big blank wall that I have put pictures on in the past, but I have decided the moisture is just too hard on the artwork. Therefore, the vinyl graphics are the perfect solution.

Etsy has quite a few great sellers who make these neat vinyl graphics. HandmadeMN and
etsian (I think the word "etsian" should be added to the dictionary), Turnaround Design, has added to her list of favorite sellers.

If you search
vinyl wall graphics on Etsy, you will get a selection of over 170 items to choose from. Most (if not all) shops let you choose the color of your graphic. I am thinking about ordering this one for our bathroom.

Extra Large - Dandelion Wishes - Vinyl Wall Decal Graphic Art Sticker Home Decor

I might blog about it in the future to let you see how it turned out! =)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Craft Technique: Crochet!


This week's craft technique spotlight is... crochet!

What exactly is crochet? HandmadeMN crocheter, fiber artist, and pattern designer Jen Clayton of FuzFrenzy explains, "Crochet is making continual loops that make up a pattern that make up a fabric."

The good news about learning to crochet:

1. The supplies are inexpensive--although you can get creative and extravagant with fancy (and expensive) fibers, many basic kinds of yarns are available at local shops at very reasonable prices.

2. Like any craft technique, project difficulty ranges from simple to complex. Crochet is definitely beginner-friendly!

3. It's portable. You can take your crochet project with you!

4. It's fun!

Jen offers these tips to those who want to try crocheting:

Materials: "When starting out it is probably best to choose a medium weight yarn like a worsted weight and a medium hook like a g or an h."

Tips and Tricks: "When starting out it is important to repeat stitches and also to pull them out and start over. Only through starting over will you progress, learn the steps, and complete something that actually looks like something."

Keep at it! Jen says, "It comes more naturally to some people, but most people can learn how to do it. It's just a matter of tapping into their learning styles and going from there. Crocheting is supposed to be fun and I do my best to keep people from getting frustrated with it and quitting especially when just starting out."

Above is my first crochet project (I'm still working on it), a pink owl that fuzfrenzy is teaching me to make!

Libraries, book stores, and offer a wide range of books on how to crochet. However, as a beginning crocheter myself, I found that it was helpful to have a teacher sitting with me, showing me what to do. Fuzfrenzy offers individual classes and can travel throughout the Minneapolis/St.Paul metro area--contact her through her Etsy shop!

There are also classes at CraftyPlanet in Minneapolis, as well as Jo-Ann Stores, and Michaels.

We'd love to hear about your crochet tips and experiences--please leave a comment!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Fun Friday Finds ~ Black & White...and Red All Over!

by Artistic Edition

Black, White & Red All Over I
(Click on the image to enlarge)

Visit these HandmadeMN shops to see more:
Click on any of the names below
First Row (Left to Right): infraredstudio, westernartglass, MTart, MagneticOriginals
Second Row (Left to Right): retrovertigo, MaryAnnCleary, JulieMeyer, oddartist
Third Row (Left to Right): musticalkitten, greensquirrel, StarglowStudio, PrairieDreamer
Fourth Row (Left to Right): kellybot, XOHandworks, thesnuggery, SuzAndRoo

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Recycled Cycle Bottle Opener

I found these great bottle openers in Suzanne of SuzAndRoo’s list of Favorites. It seems that it is always harder to find neat gifts for guys, so these really stood out. (Actually, I would like one too, and I am a girl.)

Recycled Cycle Bottle Opener

Erica Gordon of Seattle, Washington, is the founder of this neat company that she has named Steel Toe Studios. As a trained blacksmith, artist and designer, she has made it her mission to make the company green and sustainable.

In keeping with her mission, not only are the bicycle parts in these openers recycled, she also lines the reusable tins they come in with tubing from bicycle tires. If you are looking for a belt, Erica also makes belts and buckles from recycled bicycle tubes and cogs.

Erica’s talent as an artist and designer are clearly visible in her pieces.

Wouldn’t they make great Father’s Day or Graduation gifts?! I think I am going to order one for my brother for his birthday. :)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Featured Shop - Western Art Glass

Written by: Sara Werzel

Minnesota springtime brings one thing that is more welcome than anything else…sunshine. After winter’s gray days we all open up the curtains and wash the windows, soaking up that bright light as though it were life itself.

So as you let the sunshine in, let it filter through the beautiful artwork of Brian Western.

In honor of the upcoming MN Fishing Opener may I present German Lamberts Glass Channel Catfish and Minnesota Walleye

Western Art Glass is a wonderful site filled with elegant and whimsical sun catchers and mobiles, and jewelry. Brian uses reclaimed antique glass and a lot of other cool stuff that I won’t pretend to understand like lead-free solder, copper foil, and special beer bottle glass.

Detailed and delicate Newcastle Ale Painted Maple Leaf and Cherry Blossom Cluster

The bottom line is, Western Art Glass offers a ton of really cool glass to hang in your windows or from your person.

Far from creepy-crawly are the colorful Stained Glass Honeybee with 3D Wings and Opalescent Lady Bug

Visit Brian's blog too!