Thursday, March 30, 2017

A Quilter's Journey

by Cindy Lindgren

How does one become a quilter? The stories can be as different and beautiful as the quilts they create. This is HandmadeMN member, Nancy Hovland's story of her evolution.

"I believe every artist starts out at some point during their life with an interest and desire to create something beautiful. It could start at an early age, or later in life. It doesn't really matter if it's something you love to do. I used to think I wanted to pursue a career in art but after a failed attempt to get accepted into the National Art Honor Society in high school, I pretty much gave up. Not enough talent, I decided. At that point I wanted to draw, paint and other areas like that. Little did I understand that there are many ways to express creativity as well as so many opinions on what is good art.
Nancy Hovland
One thing I did start early and continued with for years was sewing. I first started out making Barbie clothes at about age 10. As if she needed more! My mother was willing to buy patterns for me and I used leftover scraps of fabric from the clothes she was making for me. That's another story. However, that's how I learned to read patterns and put something together.

I decided to make this into a business opportunity! I put the clothes into my Barbie closet/suitcase and went door to door trying to sell these fine items. Those were the days when people actually answered their doors. Those who did listen to my sales pitch looked at me with confusion and ultimately rejection. Oh well. My Aunt Opal was my champion and bought several Barbie clothing pieces from me, supposedly to give to my cousin. Everyone needs someone in their life like Aunt Opal.
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Fast forward to 1980 when I spotted a quilt store near my house. I so wanted to learn to quilt but was nervous. I wouldn't even go in the store so I called them instead! The woman who answered, asked if I could sew and after I said yes, she said then you can quilt. So I signed up for a class and since then continued to take many classes at many different shops. Materials, tools and methods have changed over the years.

In about 2009 I decided I didn't have enough room in my house to keep making quilts but I didn't want to stop. I read an article about Etsy in a quilt magazine and decided to open my own shop  called Hartford Avenue Quilts. In addition to selling my quilts on Etsy, I do art shows and continue to take classes. Like any skill, creating is a learning process that never stops, nor should it. I am now using a software that allows me to create my own designs. 

Over the years I've owned a total of four sewing machines. I love fabric, I love all kinds of styles and colors. I love to see how I can put something together that I think is beautiful. I also love quilt stores, quilt shows and quilt magazines and books. I have no plans to stop learning and creating."

You can meet Nancy and see (and buy) her quilts at St. Anthony Park Arts Festival on Saturday, June 3rd, in St. Paul. Here's more details at this link.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Handmade, with a Mid-century Modern Twist

by Jeff Ambroz

Though its origins began decades before, Mid-century Modern style came to define the aesthetics of the post-World War II era.  This space-age design movement emphasized simplicity, clean lines and an optimistic feel.

With current prices for mint-condition furniture, art, jewelry and décor items in the Mid-century Modern vein reaching stratospheric heights, is it possible to enjoy this streamlined style on a budget?  Yes it is, and the makers of HandmadeMN are here to help.

Mid-century Modern styles range from the hip and cheeky, to the refined and subdued.  A scarf from WittyKnittyDesigns reflects the playful side of Mid-century Modern; while a hexagon necklace from GroundSubstance reflects a more architectural and stripped-down design approach.

This wooden puzzle by WhovilleCreations features illustrations just like those you’d see in 1950’s-era publications from Europe.  Click on the link to see the many different puzzles your favorite toddler can complete with this 3-block set.

Here’s a mini quilt from MyBitofWonder than can be used as a wall decoration, mug rug, trivet, candle mat and more.  Its simple, geometric shapes and cheerful color palette evoke the spirit of the space age.

Whether you call her Jacqueline Kennedy or Jackie O., there’s no disputing it:  she was America’s ultimate Mid-century style icon.  Bring a little Jackie glamor to your space with this fun pillow from LochNessMPLS

While we may never reach the style status of our favorite Jackie, we all can enjoy confident and hopeful designs inspired by the Mid-century Modern era.  Browse the Etsy shops of HandmadeMN makers for even more items reflecting the beauty of this important design movement.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Julie Meyer to Premier at American Craft Show

by Cindy Lindgren

Tell us about yourself, your Etsy shop and how long you've been a member of HandmadeMN
In 2008 I stumbled on a link to Etsy and opened my shop about 2 months later selling oil cloth lunch bags and trimmed cleaning gloves. I became a member of HandmadeMN shortly after joining Etsy and joined in on those early meetings at coffee shops as we devised the ‘how-to’s’ of running team craft shows.
Julie Meyer in her studio

How did you get started as a handbag designer?
I spent a few years working with fabric and canvas honing my skills and bag engineering designs before I purchased my industrial machine and first few leather hides. I construct each bag from design to hand-cutting leather, and construction of bags with finished interiors.
I enjoy using quality top grain leather and hair-on cowhides to create bags that are meant to be used everyday and become more beautiful with age.

What is the American Craft Council show and why did you decide to enter to show there?
The American Craft Council began 75 years ago as a way to support professional makers and recognize the significant impact craft has on individuals and communities.  When ACC moved to St. Paul several years ago, HandmadeMN was asked to participate in the St. Paul show where I nervously did an upcycle presentation using plastic bags. I was in awe of the quality of handmade items I saw that day, and knew this was the pinnacle of where I wanted to showcase my items when I was ready.

How are you designing your booth and what will you display in it?
I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about the look of my display and how people will move through my booth. The booths at ACC are larger and people spend more time browsing than they might at a typical craft show. I’m planning my space as if it’s a little store for lingering versus how can I grab the attention of someone strolling by in a crowded craft show.

Who is this show geared towards and what do you expect to accomplish?
People come to indie art shows generally with someone in mind they are shopping for: sister, friend, mother, etc. I believe those coming to ACC are shopping for themselves. They are looking for something of quality for themselves and I’m excited to share with them the bags I make!

What are the dates, place and times of the show?

St. Paul RiverCenter
(admission is $12 except where noted)

April 6: 6-9pm (preview party; $75)

April 7: 10am - 8pm ($5 after 5)

April 8: 10am - 6pm

April 9: 11am - 5pm

Julie Meyer/Etsy shop

Congratulations to Julie for reaching her goal of exhibiting at the American Craft Show! I encourage you to attend to see not only Julie's work but other topnotch artisans from around the country.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Irish Gift Guide

by Susie Crouse
Metaling Susie

Shamrock Onesie by BethieAnnBaby
Most of us know to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day in hope to share in the luck of the Irish.  The day celebrates the the death of St. Patrick, the foremost patron saint of Ireland.  But did you know according to legend, Saint Patrick used the three-leaved shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to Irish pagans.  St. Patrick's revelers also thought wearing green made one invisible to leprechauns and kept them from getting pinched!  See how Minnesota artist interpret this celebrated holiday.  Give a handmade Irish gift to your someone special.  ☘️

A great St. Patrick's Day statement necklace named "The Temple Bar" after the famous Dublin pub by  GemNorde.
Irish blessing by Eve Brown.

Hand painted silk scarf in Irish greens by PalettePassion!
Personalized drink coasters by My Little Chick.

Luck of the Irish to be your own or your best lass by MetalingSusie

The luck of the Irish 🍀 Shamrock inspired leather and copper hair cuff by Chatter by Hammer

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Of Madness and March Hares

By Sharon Parker
Sharon's Compendium

One spring evening when hubby and I were visiting the park on Nicollet Island, we noticed some rabbits on the lawn leaping into the air like so many jack(rabbit)s in boxes. I don't think it was March (it didn't used to be so springlike in March around here), but it did bring to mind the expression "mad as a March hare."

Alice in Wonderland Earrings by XOHandworks
We know the saying because of the March Hare at the mad tea party in Lewis Carroll's story, Alice in Wonderland. His name was echoing a longstanding idiom about the strange behavior of the European hare during mating season, which includes leaping straight up in the air like the rabbits we witnessed. Although they were thought to act that way in March, it in fact goes on for several months, according to Wikipedia.

Glass rabbit suncatcher from Western Art Glass

Hares and rabbits are closely related species whose springtime behavior seems to be similar, judging by the crazy-acting bunnies that I observed. 

Weighted blanket by Sugar and Spice, for children with sensory processing issues.
Of course, when most of us think of bunnies in springtime, we are likely to associate them with the critter who brings colorful eggs and treats at Easter time. 

Easter bunny onesies by Bethie Ann Baby

Two kinds of hares and one species of rabbit are native to Minnesota, according to our Department of Natural Resources. One is the white-tailed jackrabbit (sure, the name says rabbit, but it's really a hare), found in the prairies of the west and southwest parts of the state. It's a rather large hare, about two feet long and weighing 6 to 10 pounds; it has an amazing leap of up to 10 feet. 

Women's T-shirt featuring a French hare, from Suz and Roo.

The other one is the snowshoe hare, which lives in coniferous forests in the northern part of the state, throughout much of Canada and even in Alaska. Smaller than the jackrabbit, they are about 20 inches long and weigh only 3 pounds. 

Small white bunny dish by Kelly Newcomer

Both of our native hares turn white in winter and brown in summer. 

Bunny art print by Kept Fresh
Our third Minnesota member of the rabbit-hare family, and our only rabbit, is the eastern cottontail, and I probably don't have to tell you that it is also the most common and widely distributed small mammal throughout the state. 

Zipper pulls by Relaine

Its natural habitat consists of areas with shrubs and some trees, like most urban and suburban yards. You already know that it likes to eat green plants in summer and the bark of your favorite shrubs and sapling trees in winter, but did you realize that includes dandelions, plantain, clover, and other lawn weeds if they can find them? 

Funny birthday card from Plays Nicely With Paper
I see a lot of rabbits in my yard, but I don't have much trouble with them eating my lettuces and peas and such. I chalk it up to two things: I plant in wood-framed raised beds about a foot high, some of which are surrounded by fencing, and I have a very weedy lawn. 

Bunny earrings from Deeder the Beader

I figure they nibble their way across the lawn to get to the gardens, but by the time they reach the beds, they're too full to climb over the boards. Why bother when there are such easy pickings all around you? So there's a free gardening tip for you.

Bunny baby hat from Anchored Hope

Did you know that people keep domesticated rabbits not just as pets, but to harvest their fur for fiber? Angora rabbit hair makes a wonderfully soft yarn, I have used it to knit mittens for my kids when they were small. It's also often blended with wool and other fibers to make a soft and durable yarn.

Socks made of angora rabbit hair and wool, from MN Custom Woolens
You can click on the captions of any of the photos to learn more about the rabbit, hare, and bunny-themed items from Minnesota makers of the HandmadeMN team, and even buy them if you like. Happy rabbit hunting!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Kiyi Kiyi products now at Herberger's

by Cindy Lindgren

Carma Wood with her Kiyi Kiyi  products at Herberger's

We are delighted to share the news that our HandmadeMN member, Carma Wood, has her products available at Herberger's Close to Home section. This post is from The West Central Tribune of Willmar, Minnesota. Congratulations on getting selected to sell your handmade soaps and bath bombs at a national retailer.