Wednesday, February 29, 2012

AMAZING!  Artists with a Special Touch
OurHomeToYours

Crochet Alien Buddy
OurHomeToYours is the mother/daughter team of Debbi and Amanda.  What a great shop to visit...  you just don't know what to expect the next item to be!!!  There are christmas decorations, wedding items, jewelry, banners, crochet things and even a toy or two!

Like this crochet Alien Buddy ... how cute is this!  At four inches square, he's just the right size for little hands, or even big hands!
Dolphin and moonstone earrings
 


My daughter-in-law just loves dolphins and these earrings are just stunning.  Combined with moonstones and other beads on silver wire, I'm sure they have lots of light and motion when worn.
Pink & Purple Swirl Ornament


This glass ornament is so intriguing!  It started out life as a clear glass ornament, but when these two wonderful ladies got through swirling different colors of paint inside, it became this gorgeous piece!  Makes you want to have a Christmas tree year round, doesn't it?  Maybe it could just hang in a sunny window when it's not the holidays so that it can be enjoyed!
Rainbow Crochet Shawlette


And just to convince you of the variety in these shops, isn't this a wonderful shawl!  It's crocheted from this amazing yarn to give it the vibrancy shown in the photo.  


These remarkable ladies have two shops; one at HandmadeArtists, and one on Etsy.  You can also find them on their blog and on Facebook.  If you're looking for a delightful surprise, be sure to visit any or all of their sites!








Monday, February 27, 2012

Is It Handmade or Mass-Produced?

There’s been a tremendous amount of discussion lately about resellers presenting items as ‘handmade.’  What further complicates the issue is that these folks are selling on sites that claim to feature handmade items.  So how does the buyer really know?

First and foremost….  Just because the site says handmade, don’t believe it!  Times are tough and before you part with those hard-earned dollars, check out the site that’s making the claim.  For example, Etsy (www.etsy.com) claims to be handmade, vintage and supplies.  In the old days, Etsy was much better at weeding out the resellers trying to pass off their merchandise as handmade.  But the site has grown so large, that they aren’t able to police the way they once did.  Plus, Etsy collects a fee on each listing and each sale…  those resellers are putting money in Etsy’s pocket.  This makes it easier for them to turn a blind eye to the problem.  This is not to say that there are no handmade artisans with shops on Etsy.  There are actually lots of them, but you’re going to have to do some homework to find them.  From what I’ve heard, this goes for Artfire (www.artfire.com), too.  The only site I personally know of that is handmade and only handmade is www.HandmadeArtists.com.  So how do you spot the handmade item?

1.  How’s the price?  A handmade item is typically more expensive than a mass-produced similar item.  The artisan creating it has design time and production time invested on top of materials.  Typically, a handmade artisan is not buying supplies in bulk quantities large enough to get huge discounts.  Expect the handmade item price to reflect this.

2.  Read the item description carefully!  A handmade artisan will give you details about how they created the item, and lots of them.  They describe the base material; they’ll give you measurements; they’ll give you use and care suggestions; you get the idea.  The mass-produced-masquerading-as-handmade-item’s description will be anemic by comparison, giving bare minimum information.  Since they didn’t make the item, they don’t have the details to share.

3.  Read the seller’s profile.  A handmade artisan will write about a number of things such as how they started doing what they do; how they learned their craft; what their favorite materials are, etc.  They often mention that they are open to custom orders, too.  Resellers don’t mention any of this in their profile for obvious reasons.

4.  Look at the items the seller has sold.  A handmade artisan may recreate a new piece to replace one that’s been sold. But that new piece will not be identical to the one before it, since they are both handmade.  The artisans I know (and I know a bunch!) will usually take new pictures of the newly created item before listing it.  So even though Harriet Handmade has sold 12 pairs of ear-warmers, she’s sold 12 different pairs of ear-warmers – the shop sales screen should reflect this.  Someone using the same, almost stock, photos over and over again, well, the odds are good that they are purchasing completed items (factory made, mass-produced) and passing them off as handmade.

5. Send a message to the seller asking a question that can only be answered by the maker of the item.  I once saw some torso mannequins which were being touted as ‘handmade.’  But there were hundreds of pictures of “different” items that were all exactly the same.  So I emailed the seller and asked what the process was for producing the forms.  The response I got was something to the effect of, “I’ll be happy to make one just right for you…  what did you have in mind.”  Trust me…  a handmade artisan will be thrilled and delighted that you’ve shown an interest in their work and will be more than happy to answer questions about their craft, basically, to talk about themselves!

If you’re looking for handmade, then you’ve already decided to go the extra expense to acquire something that will be an excellent value in the long-run.  With a little due diligence, you’ll find your purchase will meet or exceed your expectations.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

AMAZING!  Artists with a Special Touch!
I've written about Gina before, and am delighted to do it again!  Gina lives in North Dakota with her husband and two darling children.  She teaches piano, too.  She's active in the kids' schools and her church.  This is another person who is not operating on the same twenty-four hour day that I am!

In her free time (LOL!), you're sure to find Gina with a pair of knitting needles in her hands.  Gina doesn't knit the 'regular' things people knit.  Gina's knitting is full of surprise, imagination and originality.  Who wouldn't just love these knitted mermaids clutch toys!!!  They are made in the Waldorf style (no facial features) to allow the child (or adult!) to use their imagination.  Her own two children are her test market for her knitted toys, so she used yarns and stuffing that are "washer and dryer friendly."  We all know someone who would enjoy these, so here is the link to her shop and this item!  She has other clutch toys, stuffed animals and knitted hand puppets too, some in sets with matching booties!
Watermelon Headband
Dragonfly Key Chain

This watermelon headband is so colorful and cheery...  just the thing to brighten up a dreary winter day.  Or how about a dragonfly key ring?  This is just the thing to make your keys "your own."  Plus, it will make them easier to find too!  As I said...  when Gina knits, it's often not what you would expect!

E-Reader Wallet
Recently, Gina's branched out into sewing with a line of E-Reader wallets or covers.  I just love the coffee cup print of this fabric she chose.
Denim Tote Bag

She also has this wonderful and practical denim tote bag in her shop.  Don't you just love the lining?!?!  Measuring 13 x 11 inches, this tote is perfect for carrying books from the library or for use as a diaper bag.

Gina is also a regular contributor on the Handmade Artists Forum.  She's got a delightful blog, too.  Some people make me tired just reading about all of their activities and pursuits...  Gina is one of these people!

Here is your chance to be Gina's special someone...  Gina's looking for her first sale from her shop.  With all of her wonderful creations there, it's going to be tough to choose which one you need!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

ANATOMY OF A QUILT
Final Chapter!
The quilting is done!  And the quilt is off the frame.  The navy blue quilting border has been removed and the back and batting have been trimmed evenly all the way around.  The quilt has been checked for square, too.  This one was square and required no additional trimming!  That happens rarely, as fabric does stretch and distort.  Now it's time to make the binding for this beauty.  This is one of my favorite pet peeves...  I don't bind my quilts typically.  This quilt is a picture; the binding is the picture frame.  I leave extra batting/backing beyond the edge of the quilt to give the wide binding extra loft.  No one has ever complained, but I have been told, "That's not the way everyone does it."  My response, "Correct, but that is how I do it!"
Binding is nothing more than a strip of fabric.  This binding is dark, chocolate brown, and consists of four 3.5 inch strips sewn together.  You can see the seam in the photo.  Each edge gets folded in about .25 inches, then the whole thing gets folded in half, pressing with lots of steam during each fold.  The seams gets ironed open in the binding, unlike in the body of a quilt, where the seams are pressed flat away from center.
The binding gets sewn to the right side of the quilt, right sides together, by machine.  The edge of the binding lines up with the edge of the face of the quilt, and you use that nice crease you ironed in as a sewing guide.  I start at the approximate center of the bottom of the quilt, go all the way around and stop about six inches shy of approximate bottom/center.  Then I lay the quilt flat and seam the beginning edge of the binding to the tail of the end of the binding, leaving the seam between the two at approximate bottom/center.  The excess gets trimmed away.  The the rest of the bottom binding gets sewn by machine.
Then the entire binding gets turned to the back and pinned in place.  A braver soul than I might turn it and sew it, skipping the pinning step.  But this gives me a chance to look at it before it's permanently affixed.  If I'm happy (and I was!), it's back to sewing by hand.  The back of the binding gets whip-stitched to the back of the quilt, picking up only the machine sewing from the front and the very edge of the ironed-in crease.  Assuming you sewed straight (sometimes this is a leap!), the binding will be even all the way around.
Since this quilt is a wall-hanging, I also hand-sewed a sleeve across the top in which you would put something straight.  Many people use a 1" x 2" piece of wood.  My preference is a piece of threaded rod, available at any hardware store, 5/8" or larger in diameter.  No matter how light the quilt is, eventually the wood will warp.  I've had much better luck with threaded rod staying straight.  A plus is that the threads in the rod will keep the quilt stationary on the nail or picture hanger in the wall.
Thank you so much for following this quilt with me.  I hope you found this series informative and interesting!     

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Invitation from Pure Bloggers.com
I received an email invitation to join PureBloggers.com, indicating that "someone liked your blog at http://iknitquiltsew.blogspot.com and sent you an invitation to http://purebloggers.com ."  "Cool," I thought, so I went to check it out.  But the landing page is only a request for personal information including full name, birth date and gender.  Here's a screen shot...
I thought it was interesting, too, that the ad at the top of landing screen is targeted at Utah businesses online - since that would include me.  I didn't sign up.

Did one of my lovely readers actually recommend this site?  Or are my suspicions correct that this is a phishing scam?  Anyone have any experience with PureBloggers.com? 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

AMAZING!  Artists with a Special Touch!
Colette - Handcrafted Jewelry with Personality!

Handcrafted Jewelry with Personality ...  The subtitle for Colette's Boutique is absolutely perfect for her pieces.  Colette works with sterling silver, Swarovski Crystals and gemstones.  Her work has been featured in Art Jewelry Magazine (September 2011).  Let me show you why...
This lovely, faceted stone is so meticulously wire-wrapped.  Notice the wrap around the back of the setting behind the stone, in addition to the scallop around the side and on the loop.  It is simply magnificent!
 
 
 
Remember the mention of "personality" in Colette's Shop subtitle?  How about these wonderful and unique earrings - they just exude personality! Colette's combination of a silver charm with both round and oval crystals in the same piece is just charming!  So many of her pieces combine not-so-obvious shapes and styles which make her work so intriguing.




Colette isn't simply a talented artist - she's also a philanthropist.  A portion of her profits are donated to the American Cancer Society.  You can find Colette on Etsy, on her own website, and on her blog.  A visit to any/all of her sites is time well spent!
   

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

AMAZING!  Artists With a Special Touch:

The featured artist in this week's blog ring at the Handmade Artists' Forum is Kim of Makin' the Best of It. To say that this lady is multi-talented is a huge understatement!  She is a wife and mother of two boys.  She is part of the founding team of the Handmade Artists' Forum/Blog/Shops.  She is a tireless promoter of handmade.  And she's a gifted artist in more than one field.  The big question is...  is she a mere human?!
I love wire-wrap!  I am just blown away by good wire-wrap.  This blue sea-glass wire-wrap pendant is not just good; it's flat out gorgeous!  I've tried to play with wire on a couple of occasions and my efforts don't have the fluid, curvy, balanced lines that this pendant does.  It takes patience and a great deal of vision of the finished piece to succeed at wire-wrap on this level.  Need to own this?  Click here for the full item description.
 
Sticking with the blue motif, this hand-painted vase is to die for!  The rose motif is so elegant and understated.  
 
...  or you could choose elegant stemware, hand- painted with white magnolias and green leaves.  Kim states that the buyer needs to remember that each item is individually hand-painted, so no two will ever be excatly the same.  This adds to their charm!
 
As if this wasn't enough, Kim has a wonderful blog as well!  A visit to Kim's websites can be an all-day adventure!  Pour yourself a beverage and grab a snack...  then have a wonderful visit with Kim!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

ANATOMY OF A QUILT  ...  CONTINUED....
You have no idea how thrilled I am at the way this sky is coming to life as I quilt it!
 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

AMAZING!  
Artists with a Special Touch
John Rasmussen 
 
I've had the pleasure to write about John before, and am delighted to do so again.  John has one of the largest shops on Handmade Artists, with nearly 400 items to drool over!  A trained gemologist and retired professor, John's love of natural stones is so evident in every piece he designs and executes.  This is a shop full of BLING!
 
This is the main reason I am just hitting you with pictures.  I'm at a loss to describe John's amazing work and attention to details.  His gorgeous photography does a much better job than I could ever do!

John is a regular visitor to the Thursday evening HAF Chats on the Handmade Artists Forum and often has wonderful advice or counsel to share with the group.  He is also caregiver to his disabled wife, who shares his passion for creating; all of the beaded pieces in his shop are her designs and creations!

You don't need to be rich and famous to own one (or more!) of John's beautiful pieces...  the price range in his shop is $3.75 to $2,500.00!  Whether you're looking for a beaded key chain or a high-end engagement ring, you will find it in this wonderful shop.  You'll easily spend hours drooling over his beautiful jewels, just as I did!