Thursday, March 31, 2016

Behind the Scene at Little Wooden Wonders

by Cindy Lindgren
Cindy Lindgren

Do you ever look at a handmade item and wonder, how did they make this? Today we are sharing a video made by HandmadeMN team member Little Wooden Wonders. Watch them create a wooden name puzzle for a special new addition to their own family in their wood shop in Chanhassen, Minnesota.

Little Wooden Wonders opened their Etsy shop about five years ago. The business was inspired by their baby daughter because they wanted to offer her safe toys to play with. They now have three children and each have inspired new toys along the way.

They make natural and organic wood toys, including rattles, blocks, puzzles from maple, walnut, aspen, poplar or cherry and if a finish is applied, it is an organic jojoba oil and natural beeswax. They also personalize items with an engraver if requested.

Follow them:

Monday, March 28, 2016

Top Brass: HandmadeMN Makers Are Bringing the Brass This Season

Brass is back, and more beautiful than ever.

The shiny metal hasn’t been this hot since its 1970’s and 1980’s heyday.   

Currently, we’re seeing brass throughout the home décor market.  Look for brass as the primary material—or as an accent—on photo frames, lighting fixtures, lamps, furniture legs and candle holders.   

For less commitment, but just as much sparkle, get creative.  How about hanging a brass and wood clipboard from the TheSalvageCo on your wall?  Just add a small art print or greeting card from your favorite HandmadeMN artist for a unique art piece.  Or, how about a brass embellished wrap bracelet from SuzandRoo as a curtain tie back?

Wood and brass clipboard, TheSalvageCo
Wrap braclet (or curtain tie-back!) SuzAndRoo

Brass is also increasingly popular on American and European fashion runways.  This year, you’ll find all sorts of brass in jewelry, and on items like buttons and closures.  Go for modern drama with LarissaLoden’s Open Brass Diamond Earrings.  For a surefire conversation starter, try steampunk Double Gear Earrings by anrek.

Mod glam, by LarissaLoden
Steampunk style, by anrek

Brass trimmings add just the right amount of rock-and-roll spirit.  SewingForTheHarvest has a mahogany-colored, vegan-leather crossbody purse with all sorts of brass embellishments.  It’ll keep you stylish and organized.

Upcycled handbag, SewingForTheHarvest
Why do our HandmadeMN artisans love brass?  As an alloy of copper and zinc, it conveys strength and quality.  Its soft reflective qualities add warmth and shine wherever it’s applied. 

If all this brass talk has you inspired, purchase one or more of these items, and then head to MermaidsDowry, where you’ll find a large assortment of brass findings to create your own one of a kind fashion and home décor treasures.

One of hundreds (really!) of brass fittings available at MermaidsDowry
Stay classy, and stay brassy!

Monday, March 21, 2016

What's coming to life as Minnesota thaws out?

Here in Minnesota, as things start to melt, everything gets squishy and brown and we can't wait for the lilacs and all the pretty spring ephemeral flowers. But I like to look under the rocks and think about the little tiny bugs and frogs beginning to thaw out from their underground earthy hibernation. Fresh compost in the back of the yard is ready for seeds and our hands will get dirty as we dig in.

Think of the beginning of The Wasteland from T.S. Eliot (1922)

APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain...

Bugs, spring rains, growth and the earth have inspired these artists. How are you inspired by this season?

Green Maidenhair Fern Art Print by ChasedByBeauty
Marilyn Lamoreux
Maidenhair ferns (Adiantum pedatum) a native plant of Minnesota, can be seen at Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden in Minneapolis. Home to many native Minnesota plants. We love the delicacy of this fern against the thin black stems, there is no other fern that looks like this one. #eloisebutler

Dragonfly Women's Tshirt by SuzAndRoo Suzanne Anderson

Dragonfly. Symbol of change and self realization. These little bugs spend seven years underwater in nymph form just eating pond invertebrates and getting bigger until they reach this stage, the four-winged iridescent beauty. #dragonfly

Reclaimed Glass Honeybee, Unique Wedding Gift by WesternArtGlass
Brian Western
In March, the honeybees wake up and use the last of their winter stored energy to forage for pollen from such flowering cherry trees and pussy willows. As Brian Western says: "Of course honey bees are cool...they have a good work ethic, make honey-combs & honey--Hey! we wouldn't be enjoying apples, avocados and almonds without 'em--sumptin about pollination, eh? Sweet." #honeybee

Monarch Butterfly Art print by CindyLindgren

The Monarchs don't really arrive back up here in Minnesota until later in the summer, but as long as we're featuring insects-in-art I wanted to include this. Artists: Let me know when someone features the  Mourning Cloak, a black butterfly that overwinters in "Cryo-preservation" in tree cavities, and can be seen as soon as it melts and warms up. I saw one last week on a superwarm March day.

Mother Earth - organic and vegan soap by Mirasolfarm 

Mother Earth is basically what everything is all about. Who doesn't like digging in the dirt and planting pea and radish seeds as soon as the soil is workable?

Pink Ladybug Purse by MinneBites

MinneBites seems to be infatuated with the cute creepy crawlies. I can relate. This purse would look great when attending High Tea at the MN Landscape Arboretum @mnarboretum

Beeswax Fern Leaf Pillar Candle by SweetBeeHoney

Wouldn't this beeswax fern pillar candle be perfect to gift at a Spring-themed get together?

Topography in Brown - Set of 4 handcut cards by Crafterall

Earthy browns have a special appeal too.
Add a comment about what creepy crawly earthy spring thing you like. 

Monday, March 14, 2016

Easter Gift Guide

By Cindy Lindgren
Cindy Lindgren

Bunnies, baskets and much more are offered by our members for Easter this month. Check out these Spring gift and decor ideas and follow the link to each member's Etsy shop to purchase them. Hoppy shopping!

Hand Painted Silk Scarf by Palette Passion, $29.00
Tiny toys for Easter baskets by Arty Didact, $25.00

Faith, Hope and Charity cuff Bracelet by Gem Stone Talisman, $44.00

Wooden Easter Candy Bowl by Just Turned, $125.00

Chicken -Patterned Bib by Caddie Jo Designs, $10.00

Fabric Easter Basket by Shaggy Baggy, $16.00

Personalized Chick Ornament by My Little Chick

Violet Wool Coat by River Bird, $59.00

Copper Oval frame Pendant by Candyce Westfield, $112.00

Easter Bath Bombs with Butterflies by Bath N Beads, $5.50

Silver Love Knot Earrings by My Naptime Jewelry, $9.99

Spring colored Fused Glass Earrings by Dragonfly Adornments, $20.00

Wooden Baby Teether Bunny Shaped, Free Personalized by Little Wooden Wonders, $13.00

Silver Cross Earrings by Metaling Susie, $30.00

Peter the Vintage Rabbit by Sock Monkey Angel,  $40.00

Bud Vase for Easter Blooms by Naturally Unique Rock, $12.00

Easter Card by Open Cupboard Designs, $3.50

Blacksmith Forged Iron "Celtic" Cross by Kens Custom Iron, $150.00
Bunny Onesie, Easter Onesie by Bethie Ann Designs. $8.00 each

Monday, March 7, 2016

Shop local and handmade at March shows featuring Minnesota artists and crafters

By Sharon Parker
Arty Didact

Now that spring is practically upon us — Yay! — the arts and crafts shows are popping up like crocuses in the lawn.  Or ... flowers on a handlebar purse ... ?

"Garden party" handlebar purse from Daydreamers Emporium

Here's a smattering of events coming up this month where members of HandmadeMN will be showcasing their wares. Btw, you can see all the shows that include HandmadeMN artists and crafters, with a link to their Etsy shops, anytime on this blog by clicking on the "upcoming shows" link over there, up and to the left. New shows and artists are added often, so keep checking back. (And I'll be back here on the first Monday in April to highlight that month's shows, too.)

This Saturday, March 12, you could head over to Woodbury's Valley Creek Mall for the Sound+Vision Minnesota Pop Culture Collectibles show, where Daydreamers Emporium will have a booth with her many handy fabric creations like the handlebar purse shown above, or Tardis coasters, and more fun nerdy practical things.

In addition to original handmade bounty, the show boasts an extensive assortment of new and used music (vinyl, CDs, DVDs), comics, toys, movie-related items, and more like that, plus Mad Magazine artist Tom Richmond. Talk about a nerd-friendly awesomeness event. I think so, yes.

Then on Saturday, March 19, the Roseville Oval hosts Arts @ the Oval: a festival of fine arts featuring local artists, including HandmadeMN artist Greg Just, Just Turned, with his beautiful handmade wooden items, including bowls ...

... travel mugs (yes! wooden travel mugs!), salt and pepper shakers, and more. I counted 30 artists on the event's list of participants, including potters and tile makers, fiber artists, jewelry makers, metal sculptors, painters, other woodworkers, and a few others. 

Also on March 19, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Duluth hosts Treasures of the Earth Green Art, Craft & Goods Fair, where you'll find Susie B Handicraft, with tote bags, rugs, and wreaths made from recycled plastic grocery bags; painted/scented pine cones; pine cone & sawdust fire starters; dog toys made from recycled blue jeans, water bottles & t-shirts.

Like this crocheted gift bag made with upcycled plastic bags: 

And one more on the 19th, the Simply Elegant Wedding Expo at Coon Rapids' Civic Center. For an admission fee of $5, visitors can sample food and wine while browsing through 36 vendor booths, from photographers to bakers to DJs and even officiants, and handmade jewelry from My Naptime Jewelry, like this lovely aquamarine necklace for your something blue ...

The next shows up on our list take place on the first weekend in April, and I'll be back on Monday, April 4 to tell you more about April events and the HandmadeMN folks who will be there. But you don't have to wait till then to look ahead, you can check our list of upcoming shows anytime. New information is added whenever one of our artists and crafters learns about the next show they've been accepted into, so check back often.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

HandmadeMN Treasury Collection - March Trails

'Owls, robots, a sea goddess and...turning' by westernartglass

Owl book plate stickers. Ex ...

Sea GODDeSS Belt 80s Genuine...

Tiny Miniature Drinking Wild...

Robots In Landscape Print 11...

Sinking Barn Winter Landscap...

mixed fibres handknit scarf...

Serving Bowl, Soda-fired, Fa...

instant collection of 7 diff...

8x10 - vintage sled watercol...

Robot No. 4 - Edwin - robot ...

Owl zipper pull. Owl charm....

Rustic Buck Silhouette Pillo...

Nature Goddess (4) photomont...

Boris - Sculpture, figurine

Melancholibot - Open Edition...

Northern Pike ceramic fish a...
Powered By Handmadeology

Bill Frisell - Guitar in the Space Age

Point of entry…an in between afternoon.  Overcast sky.  Skittering reflections of ducks arriving on the creek, laughing like The Penguin in a Gotham City escapade. Recollections of The Twilight Zone book lover that accidentally breaks his reading glasses, just as his wish to be left alone in a library at the end of the world comes to pass.  And of course, childhood memories…walking rhythm.

Once upon a time I was standing with my fifth grade classmates listening to the teacher explain how to take care of the classroom rats.  I thought it would be funny to put one of the rats on the teacher’s shoulder.  I remember sitting in the principal’s office…while walking, my foot stumbles on the uneven pavement.

robot gears creaking
laughing ducks commiserate
flat copper penny

An owl retraces her great great great grandfather’s encounter with impertinent Squirrel Nutkin…a smile creases her face.  The sound of robots rusted musings at the corner bistro…espresso and more memories.