Monday, August 7, 2017

HandmadeMN: Celebrating the gifts and inspiration of the harvest!

"Seed Machine" print (detail) by Kelly Newcomer

By Sharon Parker
Sharon's Compendium

Early August was an occasion for celebrating the beginning of the harvest season for the ancient Celts, with games and festivals in honor of the Irish god Lugh, who was believed to have started the late summer festival known as Lughnasadh (meaning Lugh's Assembly, or something like that) in honor of his mother.

"Hiawatha" botanical art print by Lisa Rydin Erickson

Artists and crafters have always taken inspiration from the garden and from the harvest. I found several examples of harvest- and garden-inspired art made by members of HandmadeMN, and a few crafting supplies for your own projects, to illustrate this brief essay. Click on the captions to view the items in more detail and even purchase them if you like.

"Indian Corn" art print from Cindy Lindgren

Some artists even use materials from the fields, such as seeds as mosaic pieces, well-known in Minnesota as seed art or crop art. HandmadeMN maker Kelly Newcomer wrote about that last summer in this blog post you might enjoy.

Cotton fabric available from Anna Tere Designs

Back to Lughnasadh and first-harvest celebrations: One of many legends casts Lugh as the hero in a battle for the fruits of the harvest, which he wins, and then gives the food to humankind.

Illustrated Bible quote by All Things Jane

The festival was later Christianized, sometimes with St. Patrick as the hero who saves the harvest, and adapted as Lammas, or Loaf Mass, to bless the bread baked from the first grains of the season. Scottish bannocks, a type of unsweetened oat biscuit, are associated with this tradition.

Honeycomb earrings made with reclaimed beer bottle glass, by Western Art Glass

Nowadays, I think we could say that our county and state fairs are a kind of early harvest festival, and in that way we carry on those ancient agrarian rituals, with accompanying art and crafts inspired by, and sometimes made from, the harvest.

Corn-filled heating pad by Warm Hugs Corn Bags

Monday, July 31, 2017

Day in the Etsy Life: Illustrator Cindy Lindgren

by Cindy Lindgren

My studio with areas to draw, work on the computer and drawers full of card inventory.
Ever wondered what a typical day is like for an Etsy artisan? It's different for each of us, but I'll give you a glimpse into what it looks like for me.

First you should know I was a full-time Illustrator before opening my Etsy shop in 2009, so I always intended it to be a business where I switched from illustrating for clients in advertising and graphic design to illustrating for myself and selling my work online. Today my business includes my Etsy shop, an Etsy Wholesale shop, working with retail reps at Anne McGilvray & Company supplying art products to museum and gift shops, licensing/royalty work with Modern Yardage, Spoonflower, Check Advantage and Janome, and consignment with The Linden Tree. I create illustrations that are used for cards, art prints, posters, magnets, checks, embroidery designs and textiles.
I print all my own art prints that I sell on Etsy.
My day starts with packaging Etsy and wholesale orders. Thursday I had two Etsy orders and one wholesale card order heading off to California to box up, print shipping labels and walk to the post office. I live near a Byerly's with a mail service pick up twice a day and banking that is very convenient. Plus, the deli and flower departments are welcome distractions. If I post something on social media, it's usually in the morning after I photograph the listing or have an art show event to share.

I work around the Twin Cities rush hours by doing most work errands between 10 am to 3 pm. Today I pick up postcard promos for The Women's Art Festival at the organizer's porch and deliver a wholesale card order to St. Croix Retail. I deliver all my local wholesale orders to shops like the Minnesota History Center so I can see how my cards look in the shop, get to know the staff and get ideas for new illustrations from them. 
My Birch poster at the Minneapolis Airport store called Uptown.
Most days I eat lunch at home but today I take out my friend out for a birthday brunch at The Original Pancake house to have swedish pancakes with lingonberry sauce. Yum! Then I spend a couple hours working on a new illustration of the Carlson School of Management at The University of Minnesota. A professor contacted me thru Etsy asking if I'd consider illustrating the school building because she'd like to give her graduating students art prints as gifts. Since the UofMN Bookstore is already a wholesale client of mine, I said yes, knowing they would like the illustration on cards as well. I had taken photo reference, drawn up the pencil and was now redrawing it on the computer and adding color. I also spend time doing a little sketching for a new fabric collection I'm working on and keep each project in file folders. I like a tidy organized work space.

Almost every day requires ordering something to keep work flowing smoothly, and today it's ordering boxes of card envelopes from a local company to pick up the next day. Other days it may be ordering cards at a local printer, catalogs, boxes, backing boards, clear packing sleeves or filling orders for posters and magnets. My least favorite part of the business is doing Quick Books for accounting and I have a person help me balance my account and print out tax reports twice a year.

Then late in the afternoon, I head to Lake Harriet to the Trolley Depot to drop off my cards of the two  trolleys I've illustrated for them. They'd like a new card of the depot so I spend some time taking reference shots and talking to the conductor and shop manager about the best angle to show. It's a busy evening at the Depot as kids come at 6pm in their PJ's to ride the trolley and have a story read to them. The depot was my first card client, so they are very special to me. Then I take a short walk by the lake before heading home.

My links:

Monday, July 24, 2017

Handcrafted Items, Made to Order

by Jeff Ambroz

In this age of mass-produced goods, items that are created just for us hold special meaning and significance.

Many HandmadeMN artisans work with their customers to create unique, one-of-a-kind treasures.  From accessories to home décor to stationery, these HandmadeMN makers enjoy bringing you items that speak to your soul.

“I’m a card maker and I'm passionate about paper,” said Aliya of PlaysNicelyWithPaper.  “I started selling cards because I made so many of them that I couldn't give them away fast enough.  It’s an honor to participate in someone's special occasion even as a small part of wishing someone well, celebrating a new baby or sharing a laugh over good times. My favorite part is when I get a note from someone saying that the card was perfect and the recipient gasped when they received it.”

“One of my most memorable custom orders came from a woman who wanted to make sure her niece had a special sweet 16th birthday. She wanted a culturally specific card that had lots of bright colors and many shiny elements. The final creation was so awesome, and she gave me permission to play in my craft room for hours while I made custom background paper and searched for the highest-shine glitter paper possible. The card was such a hit, her other relatives ordered another one for her niece too.”

One-of-a-kind card by the PlaysNicelywithPaper Etsy shop.

SusieBHandicraft receives many custom orders for panda afghans.  Great care is taken to ensure the perfect item for each customer.  “When a customer contacts me about using specific colors, I photograph the yarn I think they want to confirm the colors. The joy in custom work is that I know I'm making it for someone special,” said shop owner Sue.

Customized panda afghans, made with love by SusieBHandicraft.

TuesdayBlueberries has developed a strong following for its custom patches, many created in a fun retro style. “My shop actually started as a vintage shop and has transformed into a patch shop with some random vintage finds,” said shop owner Lisa Jean.  “People were always so interested in the vintage name patches I had, I saw a need and ran with it. I specialize in random. If you have an idea, let's see if we can create it!”

“I have had a couple special orders that stand out in my mind. One was for a little boy's 1st birthday party.  His mom dressed him in coveralls and I made a patch for the back that said "Noah's Garage". It was a cute idea and I loved helping her with it. The other one that stands out to me was an order that I did for the Children's Theatre Company, right here in Minnesota. I made the characters’ patches for the musical The Sneetches. It was so fun to see pictures on their Facebook page of the costumes with my patches on them,” said Lisa Jean.

Custom patch by TuesdayBlueberries: A special birthday surprise.

Many HandmadeMN designers are ready to put their skills to use on a new challenge.  “I love working with people on custom projects because it exposes me to materials that I might not have otherwise chose to use,” said Nicole of nicolecollodoro.  “For example, I had one person want a custom pendant with copper. I use primarily sterling silver, but while making his piece I really came to appreciate and like working with copper.”

What kind of jewelry would you create with Etsy shop nicolecollodoro?

These HandmadeMN makers, and many more, are eager to work with you to create a special, handcrafted item that brings a smile to your face.  Contact your favorite HandmadeMN artisan today to start work on your very own custom work of art. 

Monday, July 3, 2017

Showing our colors for Canada Day and the Fourth of July

By Sharon Parker
Sharon's Compendium

Both Canada and the U.S. celebrate their nationhood and independence at the beginning of July with picnics and parades and patriotic displays of our national colors — which are, like, two-thirds the same.

Maple leaf rubber stamp from TC Witchcraft Factory
(Click on the captions of any photo to see more info about, and even purchase, the item.)

Canada Day, on July 1, marks the anniversary of the British North America Act of 1867, which joined four provinces, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Quebec, to form the Canadian Confederation.

Ink roller style print of Canada, by Mercurial YoYo

Often referred to as Canada's birthday, it marks a major first step on the way to full independence, which was completed in 1982 when Canada's Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and England's Queen Elizabeth II signed the Proclamation of the Constitution Act, which transferred the power to amend the Canadian constitution to Canada.

Red-and-white striped cotton napkins, for your celebratory picnics, by Shaggy Baggy.
And so this year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau presides over the 150th anniversary of the beginning of a process that was completed by his father.

Americana cuff by Metaling Susie
Meanwhile in the United States, we celebrate the adoption of our Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, by the second Continental Congress, which, to most Americans, is the birthday of our country.

Quilted wall hanging by Hartford Avenue Quilts
But the Continental Congress actually voted for independence on July 2. In fact, John Adams was certain that the second would be the day to celebrate, as he wrote in a letter to his wife, Abigail: " The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival."

Flag onesie by Bethie Ann Baby

But, for the official record, our founding document was dated July 4, 1776, and so that became the date that we celebrate its adoption. 

American flag dress by Margaret Mousley
Although some sticklers for details would say that our country's official beginning was at the signing of the Treaty of Paris on September 3, 1783, which ended the war between us and Britain, and in which Britain officially recognized the United States as an independent nation.

But if we celebrated our nation's independence on the third of September, what then would we do with Labor Day? Move it to July? 


Friday, June 23, 2017

Boho Bounty from HandmadeMN Artisans

by Jeff Ambroz

This summer, boho-inspired looks continue to heat up fashion, accessories and home décor.

Boho is associated with the 1960’s and 1970’s counterculture.  The look is relaxed, casual, earthy and handcrafted.  It’s inspired by a vagabond, multicultural and nomadic spirit.  Looks are layered and flowing, and pattern mixing is encouraged.

In short, if you think Stevie Nicks would like it, you can probably call it boho.

Now that you’re familiar with the style, are you interested in adding a little boho inspiration to your summer?

A beaded bracelet by RestlessArtMpls perfectly captures the boho spirit.  Earthy colors abound, and the artisan’s detailed handwork is evident throughout the piece.
Hand-beaded beauty for the wrist.
This beautiful, boho-inspired wish box by NoelleRollinsArt will help you state your life’s intentions, and manifest them to reality.  It also makes a thoughtful and hope-filled gift for someone undertaking a significant life change or transition.
This summer, bring forth love and peace.
Earrings by mynaptimejewelry will delight the eye, and nose.  In addition to being beautiful, these earrings act as oil diffusers, letting you lend a subtly peaceful scent to wherever your spirit may take you.
The beauty of natural materials, with the bonus of a subtle scent.

Speaking of gorgeous scents, are you familiar with DeepMidnightPerfumes?  This Shangri-La perfume oil is one of many original scents available via Etsy.  Select from a wide range of handcrafted options, from earthy to exotic.
Scents for the earth goddess in you.
Every boho outfit benefits from an eye-catching bag.  This bag from PineNeedleDesigns adds a carefree, artistic flair to your wardrobe, and its thoughtful design makes it a practical choice as well.
A gorgeous and practical addition for your carefree wardrobe.
As you ease into summer, let the relaxed boho lifestyle lead the way.  Be sure to visit the Etsy shops of these designers, and be on the lookout for other boho-inspired pieces from the many artisans of HandmadeMN.


Monday, June 19, 2017

Head to the Lake

by Cindy Lindgren

With 10,00 Lakes to chose from, it's a difficult choice to pinpoint our favorite. I asked our HandmadeMN members to share their favorite lake and an item from their shop with a lake theme. Click the photo description for more details. From fishy pouches to lake stone jewelry, here are their offerings:

 Western Art Glass
"My favorite lake is a little pond at The Hennepin Overland Railroad a couple blocks from my house on East 38th Street."
Stained Glass Pumpkinseed Sunfish
Shawn Jeanne Originals
"I'm ready to do some snorkeling in Minnesota lakes. The fish aren't as colorful as these Hawaiin beauties but it's still fun. I love Bay Lake and Lake Harriet."
Hand Painted chiffon silk scarf
"My favorite water spot is the Minnehaha Creek!"
Decorative anchor pillow cover

Chatter By Hammer
"My favorite lake is Potato Lake in Park Rapids."
Custom Lake Art Jewelry
"I'm not really one for favorites, and how could I choose? There are so many! I'll enjoy whichever body of water I happen to be at in the moment!"
Blue Fish Coin Purse

Candyce Westfield
"My favorite lake is Lake Superior but I also love Leech Lake which is very close to my home!"
Lake Superior Beach Stone with Textured Copper Necklace
"My favorite nearby lake is Medicine Lake."
Watersky Statement Necklace

Naturally Unique Rock

"Most of our products are made from Lake Superior rock and driftwood."
Lake Superior Rock Rain Gauge
Susie B Handicraft
"There's nothing like the North Shore."
Recycled Beach Bag

Margaret Mousley
"My daughter researched names of lakes in Minnesota, not all 10,000 but a lot! "
Land of Lake Minnesota Tee Shirt made of performance fabric.

Monday, June 5, 2017

How to Select Handmade Wedding Gifts that will Please the Bride and Groom

Wedding banner by The Mad Stamper
By Sharon Parker
Sharon's Compendium

Aren't summer weddings just grand? Refreshments on the lawn, photos in idyllic garden settings, fluffy clouds overhead and a breezy 72 degrees ... 

At least, that's how I imagine it at the beginning of June. What sticky 90+ degree days? Thunderstorms and tornado warnings? (That's when the old-fashioned church basement reception starts to look like a pretty good idea.)

Never mind about the impossibility of predicting the weather. When you're a guest you don't have to pick the date, so it's not your problem. But you do get to pick a gift, and you're thinking it would be cool to surprise them with an unexpected handmade gift — and still have it be something they'll like. Know what I mean?

Personalized wedding favor tile coasters, from My Little Chick
Even if you don't have insider knowledge of the kinds of things they want or need, you can still find something that suits them without just selecting an item off the registry, and here are a few ways to do that.

1. Give a keepsake that commemorates the occasion

Is the wedding taking place at a local landmark? Or perhaps the proposal occurred at such a spot. You might find a lovely print of their special place on Cindy Lindgren's Etsy shop, like this one of the Stone Arch bridge.  You can use the search box at the top right on her shop's main page to see if she's got one of the landmark you want — many Minnesota and Wisconsin sites are featured. She offers them not only as frameable prints, but also as cards.

This custom embroidered throw pillow features a charming tandem bicycle and the couple's names plus the wedding date, from Authentic Embroidery. 

You get eco-friendly bragging rights when you purchase this personalized glass heart sun catcher, because it's made to order from repurposed glass. Go ahead and start an engaging conversation with the maker, Brian Western, to get a custom made keepsake for the happy couple. 

Personalized heart sun catcher made from upcycled glass, by Western Art Glass

2. Think of the registry as a guideline

One thing that I like to do is study the couple's registry (or various registries, as is often the case), and make notes about their color schemes and styles (Midcentury Modern? Traditional? Rustic? Boho?), then look for something unique that goes with that.

Porcelain serving bowl by Diann Gamm

Or select something in a sleek timeless style that goes with any decor, like a white porcelain serving bowl or a black pepper mill.

Wood pepper mill from Just Turned
Are they book lovers? I can assure you, as half of a bibliophile couple, they can never have too many bookends or book shelves!

Stone bookends cut from one rock, by Naturally Unique Rock

Maybe they're coffee aficionados who would really appreciate a special handmade pour-over pot for their leisurely weekend brew.

Handmade ceramic pot and cone for filter drip coffee, by Nicole Baxter Pottery

3. Go Full Practical

Sometimes (maybe even oftentimes), people have established households before getting married and really don't need the traditional things like housewares and home decor. In that case, consider something that tends to wear out or get old — kitchen linens. I remember my sister-in-law giving us new kitchen towels after we'd been married a few years. It was a treat having fresh new ones, and so practical.

Cloth napkins made by LyricCol Designs

Not sure of their color preferences? Try something neutral, yet anything but dull, like these mixed pattern gray-and-white napkins.

Cloth napkins by Shaggy Baggy

Do they live in a classic Midcentury rambler? Then they'll surely get a kick out of these retro dinner napkins.

Retro '50s napkins by Mary Littfin

Or consider ever-so-useful kitchen towels, in fun mixed colors like these.

Hand-dyed flour sack towels from Palette Passion

Kitchen towel from Bethie Ann Designs
Have you noticed how quickly pot holders get grungy, burnt and stained? 

Pot holders by Handmade Bits 4 U

4. Cash gifts can still be special

So maybe this is a couple that really does have all the stuff they need, or they don't want stuff because they'd rather travel and keep their home base lean and simple. In other words, they want cash. But a cash gift can still be fun to open, and to give.

Here's a really unique memento, and it's only 10 dollars, so you can afford to give cash along with it. It's a fabric fortune cookie with a custom message stitched inside. You tell the maker what you want it to say, whether it's your good wishes or their wedding date and place. (You'll just have to click on the caption to take a closer look to fully appreciate this clever gift idea.)

Fabric fortune cookie with message inside, by Relaine

The "cookie" comes in a small plastic takeout box, in which you could put an enclosure card with a cash gift. These sweet peacock enclosure cards, which come in a set of five, are the size of a business card and come in a pretty aqua coin envelope in which you could insert folded paper money or a check. 

Peacock enclosure cards by Michelle Brusegaard 

For a truly unique handmade card, have a look around at Plays Nicely with Paper. The maker, Aliya, crafts several versions of wedding cards that are tailored to the individual couples, such as this card for a same-sex marriage, which comes in a male or female version.

Cake topper wedding card by Plays Nicely With Paper
Letterpress notecards offer a certain understated elegance, and this one seems perfect for a Minnesota wedding. It's blank inside for your personal message, and comes in a set of 6.

Love from Minnesota greeting card by Vandalia Street Press

This hand cut multi-layered heart card would also make a nice keepsake displayed on a dresser top. It's blank inside, so you get to write something personal, from you to them. This artist, Marnie Karger, also makes hand cut topographic dimensional wall art of favorite lakes in Minnesota and elsewhere, and many other places around the world, so if the happy couple has a favorite lake home or a favorite place they've visited, you may find the perfect gift for them here.

Hand cut art card by Crafterall

So now you see how that upcoming summer wedding presents you with an opportunity to do some fun shopping while keeping it both handmade and local. You may even discover your new favorite local artist, and end up buying a little something for yourself as well.