One of the advantages of being involved with the handmade community is the opportunity to find and try a variety of handmade goods. I’m often asked about my personal choices and how I discovered them. So for this first of a series, I thought I’d share some of my go-to artists and how I happened upon them. These are people from whom I have made multiple purchases, as well as my “house” artists who supply the things I purchase over and over again and whose handmade work is counted among my favorites.
To people who know me this won’t exactly be news, but all of my soap is made by Ann of Ann’s Lotions & Potions. Ann makes an ever changing variety of great smelling soap that’s consistently gorgeous, reasonably priced, nicely packaged, and lasts in the shower. I found Ann as part of a Make Someone’s Day EtsyPatron’s event where the idea was to find a new artist and buy something… I was one of her first Etsy sales, and I’ve been buying her soap ever since. Guests at my house often comment on it, and so I buy extras to give them. Once you try handmade soap, particularly Ann’s, it’s hard to go back. The moral of the story here is don’t be afraid to buy from someone just because they’re new. You just might be the first to discover a real gem.
Fine art is kind of a personal thing, but I’ve purchased several pieces, mostly coastal art, that I absolutely love. I am lucky enough to own an original piece by Mary Ellen Golden that is currently adorning the wall of my framer who is (understandably) reluctant to part with it. Don’t get too attached, Ben! I’ve also purchased a great original piece by Wendy Russell of ArtRussell and am eyeing another. The same goes for the work of Robert Joyner, aka artman757, who constantly makes me regret my lack of available wall space. That’s in part because I’ve already filled some of it with the cool signs of KellyGStudio. I’ve found all of these artists through my association with various coastal art groups, so if there’s a particular type of work you like, find a group and join or participate. It’s fun and you can find some great artists you might not have come across otherwise.
The very first thing I ever purchased at etsy was a custom sign from littlebrownhouse. It says “Step” and it has been reminding visitors not to trip for quite a while now. Despite the fact that it lives outside, it still looks great, and I’d buy another custom sign from her if I could. Unfortunately littlebrownhouse doesn’t paint signs anymore, she makes very nice coin pendants. The moral here is, if you see a handmade piece you like, buy it. And if you get it and decide you can’t live without it, buy a backup. Because you never know when the artist will decide to make something else instead.
DH has thing for pears, so last Christmas I ordered every handmade pear preserve/jam I could find as a gift for him and we did a Pear Jam Off. Our house pear jam is the result, and it’s the fresh and not-too-sweet D’Anjou Pear Jam from lavender fields 4 ever. It’s made with a mix of sun ripened D’Anjou and Bartlett pears from LF4E’s own backyard, and I buy it regularly by the four pack. It’s amazing how much of this stuff we can go through at one sitting. And I have been known to begrudgingly part with one or two as gifts on those rare occasions when someone happens along before we’ve gobbled it all up ourselves.
When I told Erika I was writing this, she shared with me one of her go-to can’t-live-without favorites, the fun, reversible headbands of Precocious. [Ha! I really do love these. Look at my daily photos and see how many days I’m wearing one! -Erika] So of course I had to order a headband, and who knows, one may not be enough for me either! Which begs the question, is there a shop or artist you go back to time and time again? Post below and let us in on your favorites! And don’t forget to check back, another installment of Handmade Faves is coming soon.