Monday, October 23, 2017

Entertain with Handmade Style

By Jeff Ambroz

With autumn now here, it’s time to think about entertaining, and creating a warm welcome for your guests in the fall and winter months.

Will you be hosting any holiday gatherings?  Dinner party plans on the horizon?  How about birthday or anniversary celebrations?

No matter the occasion, the artisans of HandmadeMN have created an amazing array of handcrafted items that will enhance any gathering. 

Quilted placemats from HartfordAvenueQuilts will add color and warmth to your dining room table.  They are sure to be a conversation starter, and will help you create a relaxed and cheerful feeling with your table scape.
Geometry meets coziness:  Quilt-inspired placemats.
Aprons are a practical item, allowing you to stay neat and tidy while preparing for your guests.  Why not choose a cafĂ© style apron with enough style and panache to proudly hang in the kitchen?  Try this linen fabric beauty from LakeshoreLinen.
Stay fashionably neat with an elegantly simple apron.
Honey is a natural sweetener, adding a subtly rich flavor to breads, desserts, tea and many other foods.  Your guests are sure to appreciate this pure honey from SweetBeeHoney.  Pass a jar around the table and let your guests enjoy this special Minnesota treat at your next gathering.
Even the most discerning guests will appreciate the joys of local honey.
This pair of pottery cups from DianeGamm will be a handsome addition to your dining room table.  In fact, their handcrafted beauty is worthy of display all year long. In addition to being wonderful drinking glasses, you can fill them with small bouquets of flowers for an additional seasonal decorating option.
One-of-a-kind drinking cups will add earthy, organic flair to your table.
Napkins in striking patterns allow you to add special-occasion flair to the dining room table with ease.  This patterned set of napkins from SnipsAndStitches will add sophistication and a pop of color to your next dinner party.
Napkins in a sophisticated, joyful print; reminiscent of 1940's and 1950's textiles.
As you can see, HandmadeMN makers have been hard at work creating a large assortment of thoughtfully handcrafted items for your home.  Take some time to peruse their many beautiful and practical offerings.  You’re sure to find many items you’ll be proud to put to use during this season of entertaining.   

Monday, October 16, 2017

Day in the Etsy Life - Metaling Susie Jeweler

by Susie Crouse
Metaling Susie

Ever wonder what an Esty shop owner does each day.  Well here is my story.  To introduce myself, I make handmade metal jewelry in a rustic style with lots of textures and dimension. I really enjoy taking flat metal and forging it into fluid shapes for jewelry.  I have an online shop and my jewelry is in several retail shops in Minneapolis and across the country.  I also attend local Art Fairs which are really fun to meet the shoppers and see what they are drawn to in my jewelry.

Metaling Susie display at Holiday Art Fair 

When I think about a typical day in my shop I find that each is quite different.  Depending on my mood, the weather and day of the week, I seem to be doing something different....really!

In the morning, I first check on orders and package them up for delivery.  I like to be prompt for my customers. I also like to spend quality time in the morning at my bench making jewelry.  I have noticed that I always have several projects going at the same time.  Sometimes this is due to a drying step but many times creativity just needs to marinate.  I like to let pieces sit for a few days and come back with fresh eyes.  I generally find new inspiration as I come back to finish a piece.  The process to make my jewelry starts with cutting shapes from flat sheets of metal.  Next, I texture the metal with design stamps or hammers.  Sometime components need to be fabricated depending on the design.  Layering metal and painting metal with ink are very fun steps in the process.  I love to hammer on metal!  It is amazing the dimensional results that happen!

My standing bench with my tools and supplies close at hand.

This afternoon, I happen to be walking to the New Gild Jewelers in Linden Hills, Mpls.  I have some cuffs on display in this wonder gallery owned by Jen and Kelsey.   The gallery has several artists work on display and the owners make wonderful custom pieces.  Many custom pieces are from family gemstones redesigned into beautiful jewelry.  How wonderful!

Metaling Susie cuffs at New Gild Jewelers in Mpls

In the evening, I find myself spending a lot of time on my computer.  I generally photograph my jewelry pieces in batches.  I'll take shots on my iPhone and then transfer them to my computer.  Once I sort through the best shots, I'll edit the photos and create new listings for my online shop.  I also spend the evening time ordering supplies, managing business records and working on social media efforts.

All in a days work!

MetalingSusie Shop
MetalingSusie Facebook
MetalingSusie Pinterest

Monday, October 9, 2017

Splurge on Handmade and Live Luxuriously

By Jeff Ambroz

How do you describe luxury?

For many, luxury can be found in fine details, exceptional materials and expert creative techniques.

With this definition in mind, several artisans of the HandmadeMN Etsy team have created items worthy of the term.  While perhaps more costly than some mass-produced goods, each of the items presented for you here is a unique expression of the artist, and created just for you.  If you find value in lasting beauty, look no further.

As we enter the autumn season, these plush velvet pumpkins by LuannDanzlDesigns will bring elegance and distinction to your home.  Created from sumptuous fabrics in rich colors, this generous display of 8 decorative pieces will be a beautiful addition to the entry, great room or dining room.
Add dazzling color to your home with this set of 8 fabric pumpkins.
Made-to-order clothing may seem an unnecessary luxury to the uninitiated, yet thoughtful shoppers see it a smart investment that can be worn for years – and even decades—to come.  This jacket in Italian wool by MargaretMousley features a three dimensional floral design.  Its versatile style and color scheme work for many occasions, day or evening.  Imagine how different it will look paired with dark denim for a business-casual Friday at the office, and paired with a long red skirt for a special holiday gathering.
An artful addition to your fall and winter wardrobe.
As seen in this cowhide shoulder bag by JulieMeyer, handcrafted goods are a perfect way to add relaxed luxury to our daily lives. A mix of textures, specially sourced materials and smart proportions are always in fashion.  Julie has created distinctive, investment-worthy bags like this one from her Minneapolis studio since 2008.
Eye pleasing details abound in this handcrafted bag.
Sometimes luxury is expressed in a handcrafted object that holds special meaning between two people.  This gallery wrapped canvas by catalyst54 features lyrics to a song made famous by Etta James, conjuring up memories of romance and beauty.  Expert use of typography leads the eye across the canvas, much like a couple gliding across a dance floor.
At Last... you can add a reminder of romance to your home.
As our artisans know, luxury is worth expressing each and every day.  It's an investment in how we look, feel and present ourselves to the world.  What opportunities do you see to bring artist-made luxury to your home or wardrobe?  For additional inspiration, peruse the Etsy shops of the HandmadeMN team. You're sure to find even more perfectly crafted items for the life you want to live. 

Monday, October 2, 2017

A Little Leaf Motif

By Sharon Parker
Sharon's Compendium

It's not as though there are more leaves in fall than there were in summer, yet we are so much more aware of them now that they are drifting through the air and gathering underfoot crunchily. In summer, we notice — and appreciate — the shade and beautiful greenishness that leaves provide; in fall, we notice the leaves themselves. Am I right?

And of course, artists are not immune to the leaves' charms, so we see them showing up as a recurring theme in a variety of lovely things created by Minnesota artists of the HandmadeMN team. They are the leitmotif of autumn, and of this post. Click on the images to view the complete item listing on Etsy, and on the highlighted artist or shop name to browse their other works.

This oak leaf is just one of several leaf-themed sun catchers and mobiles from Western Art Glass. To get the curved shape, Brian Western cuts the leaves from the sides of glass bottles.

Metaling Susie has crafted this copper statement necklace and earring set in rich burnished autumn tones and tapered leaf shapes.

These sterling silver leaf earrings are accented with citrine for just a touch of autumn color, from Gemstone Talisman.

The picturesque white trunks and falling golden leaves of birch trees are captured on paper in the graphic Arts & Crafts style in this digital print by Cindy Lindgren. 

Another interpretation of birches in fall is offered by Lisa Ryden Erickson in this digital painting created on her iPad. Read about her process in the item description, it's rather interesting.

This notebook with touches of leaves and other botanical motifs in fall colors comes in a set of three notebooks, each with a different design on the cover. A practical item with a touch of artistry from Mendota Paper Company.

This hand-painted silk scarf by Palette Passion has sun-imprinted fern leaves rendered in the soft taupe shades that they take on in fall, as they curl and dry in the garden.

Here's another silk scarf by another HandmadeMN artist, Diane Gamm, in which she uses a different printing technique that she says transfers the plant pigment to the fiber. Read her item description for a brief description of this method.

Wine glass charms, like this leaf-themed set by Deeder the Beader, are great for guests to keep track of which glass is theirs, and can be used on the handles of mugs, too, if you're serving coffee or hot mulled cider instead.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Apple Season is Here

by Cindy Lindgren

Before pumpkin-flavored everything invaded the marketplace, apples were the gateway to Fall. For me, September is for visiting apple orchards, baking apple pies or just setting a bowl of them on the kitchen table for snacking. Here's a few items from our HandmadeMN members to get you in the mood for apples.

For starters, I love these plaid totes for carrying your apples home from the orchard or farmer's market. The smaller bins filled with apples keep the apples in sight for healthy snacking.

Fabric Storage Bins by Shaggy Baggy
When you start baking your apples into tasty pies, you might need a new apron for inspiration.
Floral ruffled apron by Bethie Ann Designs
These apple quilted hot pads are perfect for handling hot apple pies!
Available by My Bit of Wonder
Even if you don't have time to bake, you can fill your home with the aroma of crisp green apples.
Handmade Candle by Auntie B's Wax
Not all apples are edible.These charming apple earrings would make a great Fall gift.
Apple Earrings by Dragonfly Adornments
Last of all, I found this wonderfully creative, layered paper art by Crafterall,
Matryoshka "Apple" Nesting doll art by Crafterall.
Celebrate apples by visiting a Minnesota Apple orchard near you! Check out this Minnesota Grown website for a list to check out.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Little Luxuries for $8 or Less

By JeffAmbroz

Handmade can be a bargain!

Let’s face it:  Handcrafted goods often cost more than mass-market items made in factories.  And that’s how it should be.  Prices of handmade products reflect the skills and artisanship of their makers.

However, you may be surprised that many HandmadeMN members offer items at a wide range of price points, many at $8 or less.  When you factor in their unique qualities and special craftsmanship, each of these items is truly an affordable little luxury.

Reading is a simple pleasure, made even more enjoyable by a beautiful, beaded dragonfly bookmark by DragonflyAdornments.  It’s made with cotton cord, glass beads and a pewter charm:  gorgeous materials for an item that sells for $8.

Nature-inspired beauty abounds in this handcrafted bookmark by DragonflyAdornments.

HandmadeMN makers are getting creative in offering value priced items, using technology to bring you artful items for your home.  After you purchase it, this arrow print from DreamhouseCreative arrives to your email inbox as a digital download.  Simply print it on your own paper, and you’ll have an 8” x 10” artist-drawn print ready for framing, for the very low price of $5.

Print at home for just $5:  Affordable art from local designer DreamhouseCreative.
UffdaUffdaUffda’s eye pillow will bring you calm and relaxation, for only $8.  It’s created with cotton, batik-style fabric, and filled with flax seeds and organic lavender flowers.  You’ll love using this item on the plane, after a workout, or just to unwind after a long day at work.

Rest your eyes with flax seeds and organic lavender flowers.
For just $6, you can have a whimsical, handcrafted present for yourself or someone special.  This tea-inspired mini zine looks like a tea bag. The maker, SharonsCompendium, tells us, “This little book relates the story of a Buddhist master in China, whose advice to students who wanted to discuss the mysteries of enlightenment was ‘go have some tea.’”  For just $1.50 more, you can add a wonderful gift set option.

For the tea lover:  a little book of whimsy and inspiration.
Keep in mind that bargain priced items can still be sturdy and highly functional.  This Scandinavian flowers keychain by relaine is made with three layers of interfacing, ensuring it will keep its shape for years. Nickel hardware and a split ring for your keys make it a pretty and practical bargain at only $8.

Designer style at a practical price:  a sturdy keychain by Relaine.
As these items demonstrate, for $8 or less, you can add handcrafted beauty, function and inspiration to your day-to-day life.  Take some time today to explore the many shops of the HandmadeMN Etsy team, and challenge yourself to select an item that will delight you or someone you love for $8 or less. 

Thursday, August 24, 2017


by Cindy Lindgren

Did you see it? Or not see it? I'm talking about the Total Eclipse that happened on Monday. Here in the Twin Cities, we battled clouds but did manage to catch a glimpse of our 85% eclipse between thinning clouds around 1:00pm.

Susie from Metaling Susie went to the Rose Garden near Lake Harriet, Minneapolis with her daughters. They caught glimpses of the eclipse between clouds and remarked how exciting it was to see the progress of the moon.

Here is a pair of copper crater moon earrings from her Etsy shop in celebration of the eclipse.You can find them in her shop here.

 Shelly and her family went to Lincoln, Nebraska to view the eclipse. She said it was a great view even through partly cloudy skies. The can of Sunkist makes a fun pun for the occasion.

Shelly is sharing a HIP Mini Travel purse from her Etsy shop, Bound to be Creative shop. You can purchase it here.

Below are a few more sun and moon themed items from our HandmadeMN members:
Sun Moon and Stars Charm Necklace by Gemstone Talisman
Women's Sun shirt with UV protection SPF 50 by Margaret Mousley

Sun-dried Cotton Soap by BathNBeads
Palette Passion hand painted a silk Sunflower scarf.
Moon Jewelry by Dragonfly Adornments

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: