Handmade Seasonal Stock-Up

[hKristin]

Welcome to another Seasonal Handmade column. This week I am going to show you some great handmade ways to stock up on seasonal goodies. Remember, even if there isn’t a holiday in the immediate future, it always pays to be prepared.

Up first is Halloween. Halloween is just a few short months away now and if you want to get ready for trick-or-treaters, you might want to start with this adorable table runner from Mountain Home Quilts. Can’t you imagine this sitting on a console table in your entry? When the little ghouls and goblins appear on your doorstep, they’ll love your style and your candy.

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Bottled Up

[hLiz]

In our busy lives these days, we use a lot of disposable things without giving them much thought at all. So much is single-use, single-serving, throwaway packaging—things that are (hopefully) recyclable and that (hopefully) wind up in the recycling bin.

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The great thing about today’s eco-friendly artists is that they see a lot of our everyday trash as raw material. Instead of heading to the recycling center (or worse, the landfill), our single-use, throwaway “stuff” gets a beautiful new life as housewares or wearable art.

Take the plastic bottle, for example. We use a lot of plastic bottles. Somewhere near 28 billion single-serving water bottles are used each year in America alone. Yet less than 20 percent of them are recycled. Some estimates are as low as 12 percent.

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Armed with a heat gun, or tools as simple as a pair of scissors, artists are making some incredible items out of those bottles. gulguvenc (photos above and below, left) uses a heat gun to shape PET bottles and then pierces them to create amazing bowls and jewelry.

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anettesplastics crochets old plastic bottles into amazing jewelry forms like this necklace (above, right) and the rings below, while both arnym (below, left) and ArtworkbyKD (below, right) cut shapes from old bottles to make their jewelry.

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The great thing about plastic bottles is that they can be recycled. They can be made into new bottles, or processed into other raw materials, like craft supplies. There are plastic bottle yarns out there now, and felt and fabric made from recycled bottles. But recycling, like the production of the bottles themselves, takes up a lot of energy. Keep that in mind the next time you reach for a bottle of water. It might be worth investing in a reusable bottle to complement your new handmade purchases!

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Bottle rings and fruit bowl above also by anettesplastics.

Retro swimwear

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Tani Marie: I have been handcrafting clubwear, swimwear and lingerie since 1999. I learned my craft building exotic dancewear. I was hired as a house mom at a gentlemen’s club and started selling clothes that I purchased to the dancers. Not being impressed with the clothes available, I decided to start making them. After a few months of designing and experimentation I was able to construct outfits to sell. Six months later, having a large variety of patterns, styles and custom orders it was time to do it full time.

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The experience gave me incredible insight into fitting and complementing for all body types. My style has always leaned to the sexy side, and I draw inspiration from hip hop, 80’s punk rock, classic funk, classic pin ups, classic cinema, anime, lowrider cars and bicycles, roller skating and surfing.

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Oh, my Guinness!

If last week’s crop of clover-themed goodies didn’t tip you off to the fact that St Patrick’s Day is once again upon us, then we’d better try harder. I think it’s time to break out the Guinness and raise a glass to Ireland’s favourite patron saint. I’m sure that some of the four-and-a-half million residents of Ireland who have made it their country’s best-selling alcoholic beverage will join me…in exactly 119.53 seconds. I don’t mean to split hairs, but according to the company itself, that is the precise time that it takes to pour the “perfect pint”.

Guinness was started in Ireland by (not surprisingly) Arthur Guinness in 1759, although it was 10 years before he decided to share his beer with the rest of the world with a modest 6 barrel shipment to England. These days, in addition to its enduring success in Ireland, Guinness is one of the most-popular international brands and is brewed under license in 50 countries using unfermented Dublin-made wort. I was impressed to hear that over 1.8 billion pints of Guinness are sold annually in over 100 countries around the world. On St Patrick’s Day, however, everyone is Irish. Or, so it would seem.

In the 1920s, Guinness began to market their product with the tag-line “Guinness is good for you!” At the time, the claims were made based on testimonials from customers who felt better after having a pint or two. Eventually, the company dropped the health-claims, but recently there has been some research that suggests that the antioxidants in the almost-black brew can prevent arterial cholesterol deposits in the heart. Additionally, despite its hearty appearance and smooth, rich flavour, those of us watching what we eat will be happy to hear that a pint of Guinness contains around 150 calories. Sad news for Vegans and strict vegetarians, though; Guinness is technically a non-vegan product due to the use of fish finings in the filtering process.

The distinctive taste of Guinness, incidentally, comes from barley which is roasted in a method similar to coffee beans. The other ingredients are simply water, hops and yeast, with nitrogen added to the finished product to give the draught version its iconic creamy, white head. If you’re lucky, like I am when I visit my favourite pub, your bartender will carve a little shamrock in the dense foam capping-off your glass.

So, whether you are celebrating St Patrick’s Day with a pint of “the old plain” or a Black & Tan, don’t forget to check out this week’s featured finds. Pretzels and Pumpkin, rainpeople, Mann Made Designs, and Pamper & Preen have all created fun, handmade and upcycled goods that celebrate Arthur Guinness’ legacy. Be sure, as well, to visit 2boos to pick up some beautiful shots of Dublin and to join the St Patrick’s Day Treasure Hunt that the Etsy Ireland team is putting on.

(And please, if you choose to imbibe on the 17th, stay away from the cheap, dyed stuff at your local watering hole. This is one time when I will advise you to NOT “go green”.)

Me&Yu

This week I’m profiling Me&Yu, a small fashion label specialising in hand-made and hand-printed clothing for men and women.

I first encountered the label in offbeat shopping mecca Affleck’s Palace in Manchester, UK. There I had the fortune of meeting Angie, one of the label’s co-founders. Angie has wanted to be a fashion designer since she was a child and luckily she has turned that dream into a reality – albeit with a lot of hard graft along the way!

“We had the idea for creating clothes together back in 2003 whilst we were living in Sydney,” Angie explained. “We just wanted to create clothes that were a bit different, that had a bit more personality than what was available on the high street.”

Me&Yu’s designs are cool and unique, appealing to a wide audience. I particularly adore their quirky, hand-drawn prints and stylish handmade dresses! Unlike many smaller labels, Me&Yu offers both girl and guy garments and many of the designs are unisex, allowing the wearer to put their own slant on things.

Me&Yu started in 2003, with stalls at weekend markets and events in Sydney, Australia then in Manchester and Liverpool, UK during 2004-2006. The designers had to balance developing the label with working full-time – what a challenge! Finally in 2006, Me&Yu moved permanently to a shop in Affleck’s Palace, complemented by its online store and presence in a handful of boutiques in the UK.

“Affleck’s Palace is a great place to be as it houses lots of small independent businesses together – you have the support of other people around you, and that’s the best thing. When we first started we got loads of helpful advice from other small businesses, obviously every business is different but you can get some great tips!”

Designs are made up at the label’s studio in an old cotton mill in Manchester, and it is important to the company to keep the city’s heritage alive. The mill houses a number of other artists and fosters a creative and collaborative atmosphere.

Me&Yu is a great example of excellent self-promotion – the label blogs at www.wearemeandyu.blogspot.com, uses Facebook and Twitter, distributes flyers and has even secured features in magazines. In addition, Me&Yu gets involved in charity fashion shows and fundraisers – contributing to important causes as well as raising awareness of the brand.

“There is something special about selling something that you made yourself, its very personal,” finishes Angie. “However, it’s hard work. Handmade = labour intensive and not everybody understands quite how much work goes into each item.”

What’s your favourite Me&Yu design? Post your link below!