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.


Monday, May 15, 2017

Get to Know Etsy Studio

by Cindy Lindgren
Tribal Fox cross stitch pattern by Hop Stitch Designs
 Attention all you DIY fans, Etsy has created a new market just for you "makers". It showcases projects and craft supplies and also shares crafts project ideas. For example, the piece above is a digital download available to print immediately-no waiting for it to be mailed. The pattern includes a color image for reference, symbol charts and DMC floss list you'll need to complete the project. HandmadeMN member Hop Stitch Designs offers this design and many more in her shop.
I learned a lot by just searching all the different offerings available.The Etsy Studio categories you can click on below are:

  • Home &Hobby- home improvement, food, floral, candle making and more
  • Jewelry & Beauty-hat making, hair crafts, soap making, face painting, and tattooing
  • Paper, Party & Kids- papercraft, party & gifting, kids' crafts
  • Sculpting & Forming- pottery, molding & casting, carving, mosaic making,glass art and more
  • Sewing & Fiber-besides the obvious, it includes shoemaking and upholstery
  • Visual Arts-dyeing, batik, printmaking, photography, painting, calligraphy and more
  • Projects- a variety of projects, time required and skill level for each.
Let me highlight a few of our local suppliers for you.

Beautiful handspun Shetland wool by Kaleidoscope Kitty
Says Teal cotton duck fabric, Anna Tere Designs

MiniMushrooms grouping of Riley Blake designs is one of many fabrics she offers.
Earth Grown Crayons offers her unique variety of Handmade crayons under the Paper, Party & Kids category.
Squirrel design just one of many offered by Earth Grown Crayons.

Maybe you are a jewelry maker looking for charms, beads or other materials for your next project.
Our Deeders Beads can help you out.
Gold plated charms in the shape of Conch Sea Shells
Jewelry making tools are available from our HandmadeMN member's shop Evies Tool Emporium.
Jewelry saw and blades for the budding jewelry maker.
The Paper, Party & Kids category also includes stamping, bookbinding, origami and more.
TC Witchcraft Factory hand carved this Running Puppy rubber stamp.
Crafterall offers high quality paper scraps leftover from her paper projects that may be perfect for
your next paper projects. 

The Projects section was really fun to explore. They show a project and all the steps to make one yourself. What's really easy is they round up all the materials from various Etsy shops so you can order all or part of what you need in one step. 
How to Make a Paper Flower Spring Wreath

It's worth your time to explore what's available online in the new Etsy Studio. 


Monday, May 1, 2017

May is for Gardens and Moms, and for Home grown and Hand made

By Sharon Parker
Sharon's Compendium

Happy May Day! 

It's a time to dance around the May pole, deliver May baskets to neighbors and Grandma, and honor workers and the fight for the eight-hour workday.

Flower garden zipper pull by Relaine
But for the garden obsessed, like me, it really marks the beginning of the first month of intensive gardening, when we have the most energy and inspiration for getting out and making our little patch of earth beautiful again.

I've been a gardener for more than 40 years now, which has given me lots of opportunities to learn from my mistakes, and to develop an appreciation for both the practical and aesthetic aspects of gardening.

Here follow a few tips from the lessons I've learned, along with some Minnesota handmade items that complement them.

Hey! These would also make terrific Mother's Day gifts, wouldn't you know.

When perusing my garden journal this spring, I was reminded that I was a little slow to start picking Japanese beetles off my roses last year, which led to an increasingly difficult problem to manage. Reading about that reminds me to be watchful so I can address the problem as soon as it begins, and to take preventative measures, such as applying beneficial nematodes once the ground is warm enough.

That's just one reason why a garden journal can be one of your most useful tools, and this unique handmade journal/scrapbook made by TC Witchcraft Factory may be just what you need to get started.

Garden Journal from TC Witchcraft Factory

Glass honeybee from Western Art Glass
Gardens that welcome butterflies, bees, and other insects are not only more productive, but also more beautiful, as these dainty creatures hover and dance in the air like fairies while providing useful services such as pollinating our crops and patrolling for pests. Helpful insects will feel at home in your garden if you don't use pesticides, if you're not overly tidy (weeds in corners and in the lawn are a banquet for beneficials), and if you plant a variety of flowers, especially native ones.

Seeds and sometimes plants of a few Minnesota native and butterfly friendly flowers are available from The Owl Shop, which also sells vintage items for home and garden. This is rose milkweed, also known as swamp white milkweed, which is a more attractive and less weedy variety than the common milkweed, but just as appealing to monarchs. The seeds can be planted now, or check with the shop to see if they expect to have some plants ready soon.

Rose milkweed seeds are available from the Owl Shop
When I go out to weed, I carry two buckets: a small one with my tools, and a larger one for the weeds. But I don't really need all my tools every time, so I'm thinking that this cotton canvas half apron from Anna Terre Designs would come in very handy. It has three deep pockets for small tools, gloves, or seed packets, and a loop for holding a long-handled hand hoe. She has several of these in different patterns and fabrics.

Apron from Anna Terre Designs
And here's a weeding tip: Too overwhelmed to tackle the weeding in mid summer when it's hot? Just edge the garden instead. You'll be amazed by the illusion of tidiness it creates; I have received complements on some very weedy gardens with neatly defined edges.

After a session of digging and weeding, be sure to wash hands and arms throughly with soap and cold water to remove not just dirt, but also plant oils that can irritate skin or even cause a rash. Why cold water? To avoid opening pores and allowing those oils to penetrate the skin. That's what's recommended for treating exposure to poison ivy, but other plants can also cause dermatitis, depending on your particular skin sensitivities and the plants in your garden.

Unscented soap from Faith, Soaps and Love
Why not use a wholesome handmade soap to clean the grit and plant oils off your skin? This rich unscented soap from Faith, Soaps and Love is a fine choice for all skin types, although they also have herbal soaps if you prefer something a little fancier.

For extra good measure, you could follow that with some soothing Gardener's Balm from Bath-N-Beads.

Gardener's Balm from Bath & Beads

One of the joys of gardening is bringing in a bouquet of lovelies to enjoy indoors. Picking flowers also promotes more blooms, and in the case of spring bulbs, it directs the plant's efforts into nourishing its roots for next year instead of trying to turn blossoms into seeds. Also, picking large-blossomed flowers like peonies before a rain can save them from becoming too heavy for their stems to support (just be sure to hold peonies upside down and shake out the ants before bringing them inside).

Flowers in a Vase original watercolor by Kelly Newcomer
I have an older urban garden with an abundance of hostas and daylilies. I've removed a lot of them to make way for a greater variety of plants, but I do like keeping a few around, in part because  their leaves actually look very nice in floral arrangements.

After you've gathered a nice bouquet from your garden, show off your homegrown beauties in a handmade vase, such as this lovely oval ceramic one from Diane Gamm.

Vase by Dianne Gamm

Display individual stems and small bouquets in a unique bud vase made with Lake Superior stones from Naturally Unique Rock. 

Assorted bud vases from Naturally Unique Rock

Smaller bud vases, like this one by Nicole Baxter, are great for sweet little posies, as well as the daisies and dandelions that kids like to pick and give to Mom or Grandma.

Ceramic bud vase from N. Baxter Pottery

Come to think of it, a handmade vase filled with flowers, whether from your garden or the store, makes a very nice Mother's Day gift even for moms who don't garden.

And here's one more gardening tip especially for Minnesotans: No matter how warm and tempting the weather may be in early April, don't be fooled into jumping the season. And never ever plant tomatoes before Memorial Day weekend!

Trowel Tomato art print by Cindy Lindgren