Shihar: I am fortunate to be designing & creating clothes since 2001. Originally a sculptress and a performance artist trained in Fine Arts in London ( Camberwell college of art & design), through the experimental multimedia art in Jerusalem (School of visual theatre)
I am inspired by architecture, nature, origami, Zinas, folklore costumes merging eastern lines with modern cuts, An internal hybrid of my English and Mediterranean culture.
A trip to India revealed to me the magical world of fabric. Initially by sketching locals munks and nuns, discovering the rich nature of fabric, with It’s folds drapes and crinkles.
From there on I started designing my personal clothes, and shortly after, on demand from my surroundings, I began creating for other wonderful women.
Today has been a long time coming, and I really couldn’t be more excited to introduce the first of several(!) new contributors to Try Handmade.
Leah Peterson is a master interviewer, and she has graciously agreed to join the team and work her magic on the finest makers around. Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes in the workshop of your favorite artist? Leah will deliver the goods to you every week in the first new Try Handmade column: “Focus on Makers with Leah Peterson”
Join me in welcoming her, and please make her feel at home :)
Erin Bruce at Kitty Empire creates the most lovely purses, wristlets, wallets and messenger bags, which are sturdy enough to hold a laptop. Her products are all 100% vegan. Continue reading to find out where she gets her ideas and what she eats for breakfast. Don’t forget to check out her items on sale!
What are vegan products? Why is that important to you?
Vegan products are made without using any animal products (wool, leather, etc). Animal rights are hugely important to me and I try to focus on that with this business. I also donate 5% of my sales each month to a different animal charity.
Do you have pets?
3 cats named Sebastian, Belvedere and Smokey.
How long have you been sewing? Why do you sew?
I’ve been sewing on and off since I was a teenager. I find it to be a great creative outlet and also very calming (despite the occasional frustration).
Can you explain your process?
I come up with a design idea then draw out the stencils and the bag pattern. Then I usually make a prototype that I can give to a friend and get feedback. If all goes well, I start production.
Your designs are so fun and whimsical! Where do you get your ideas?
I can get ideas from anything really. Fairy tales, art, my ceramic animal collection and just random ideas that pop into my head.
Do you have a favorite piece you’ve created?
Hmmm. Maybe the Red Ridinghood messenger bag. My favourites change.
Do you do any other types of crafts/art?
I make some pillows, mobiles and sometimes stuffed animals, but mostly only as gifts for friends.
Do you sell your products in stores?
I sell at a few local stores, but I don’t have time for crafts shows. This is my little side business, my full time job takes up the rest of my time.
What were you like as a kid?
I was a bit shy, but very creative. I’ve always had very creative friends and my mom is extremely artistic so there was always some sort of art project on the go.
Tell me more about you…?
My favourite color is green. I don’t drink soda, but my favourite drink is a vodka tonic. I drink berry smoothies instead of cereal for breakfast.
The spring craft market circuit is really starting to get fired up! This is an off week for me – but I attended shows the last two weekends. Craft markets are a great way to find local crafters & designers in your area and support local tourism at the same time. So I decided to peruse craft show listings to find inspiration for this week’s Shop Local post.
The Spring Bada-Bing, in Richmond, VA really jumped out! The show is in it’s fourth year and is hosted by the Richmond Craft Mafia (a member of the Austin Craft Mafia family) – whose slogan is “rubbin’ out the massed produced.” The SBB is held at the Plant Zero Arts Center, a community center with space for studios & apartments for artists, a cafe, & exhibition space. This year’s SBB will be help on Sunday, April 19 from 11 am – 4 pm.
A member of the Richmond Craft Mafia, Tasha McKelvey is a clay artist specializing in kitchenware & ceramic jewelry. She prides herself on creating art that is meant to be used & touched. She says, “today our homes are filled with stuff stamped out by machines. When we seek out handmade art we make our surroundings a little more human.”
I’ll admit it – the skulls caught my eye on this one! Crystal J. Silk uses traditional silk painting and dying techniques but creates anything-but-traditional patterns. Her work is vibrant, graphic, and quite hip. What would the boardroom think if you paired this silk scarf with a boring blank suit? Or just dressing up a T and jeans?
Erica Vess, who created this adorable “Up, Up & Away” digital print, is the brains behind BeesKneesStudio. Erica is VA born & raised and holds a BFA in painting & printmaking from Virginia Commonwealth University. She also creates acrylic paintings, tiny watercolors, and fine art prints.
Craft is certainly alive in Richmond, VA. Do you know of an emerging craft community? Please drop me at line at tara AT handmadeinpa DOT net.
I have always had a special affinity for owls. One of the living room walls in my childhood home was home to my mother’s extensive collection and it was literally covered with images of all sizes and types of the beautiful birds; from simple pen-and-ink drawings to beautiful oil paintings. I could sit and stare at them for hours and I’m sure my wide-eyed stillness mirrored the very pictures that I was so fascinated by. It was years, however, before I saw a real, live owl in the wild and, even then, it was just a glimpse. I have seen only a handful since then, but that initial thrill still hasn’t worn off.
My favourite species of owl has always been the fittingly-named Great Grey Owl (Strix nebulosa). Bold and beautiful, the Great Grey Owl was made the official bird of my home province, Manitoba, in 1987. Said to be the largest species of owl in North America, the Great Grey Owl boasts a wingspan of up to 5 feet; however, even for such a large bird, sightings are rare. Standing at a mere 3” tall, this needle felted depiction of Strix nebulosa (above) makes up in cuteness what it lacks in stature. The tiny creature was handmade by Melanie Anne Green and is a member of the fabulous flock found at The Felt Menagerie. Melanie Ann is also the artist who created the lovely owl print at the top of this article. Her illustrations and prints can be found in her other shop, Ink Me Up.
Although they have been depicted in art for thousands of years, owls have recently moved up the ranks of pop-culture, thanks in part to the young Mr H. Potter and his schoolmates. Easy to identify by his pure white colouring*, Harry’s own owl, Hedwig, is a Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus). Living up to their name, Snowy Owls are well-suited for life north of the 60th parallel, with their thick plumage and heavily-feathered feet. Should you find yourself in a northern clime, a good pair of woollen mittens like these ones from For My Darling (pictured above) will keep you toasty-warm. Upcycled from a pre-loved sweater, they also feature reinforced leather palms; perfect for gripping both steering wheels and flying brooms! (Be sure to check out For My Darling’s shop for adorable upcycled owl toys, as well.)
I am sad to say that my mother has long given up “her owls”. Once people found out that she collected them, she was inundated with owl trinkets and tzotchkes from well-meaning friends and family. Rather than allow her carefully curated collection to be sullied by dollar-store “treasures”, she packed up her art and replaced it with a very large picture of an empty branch; a rather symbolic move, now that I think about it. I would love to get her back into it, though, but on a much smaller scale. I know that she would love this beautiful 8×10” watercolour by Italian artist DIMDi, pictured above. I think this painting perfectly captures the sweet expression of the Barn Owl (Tyto alba), which are recognizable by their heart-shapes faces and lack of “ear tufts”.
*While the male Snowy owls are as white as the driven snow, the females’ feathers have dark markings. Now you know!
“The Moustache Merchant” archival art print by Penelope and Pip
At first, it was easy to ignore; but, as November started to take on steam, I began to notice that several of my male acquaintances, including my fella, had curious, patchy bits of stubble gracing the usually-smooth area above their upper lips. One or two lapses in grooming would probably have gone unnoticed, but this was starting to look like a facial hair conspiracy!
Support your ‘stache! Weather-proof moustache wax in scented or natural by Mans Face Stuff of Portland, OR
Upon further investigation, I discovered that my friends were taking part in a global follicular fund-raising effort called Movember. To show their support for prostate cancer awareness, all that they had to do was make a commitment to grow a moustache for 30 days and encourage their friends, family and coworkers to donate to the cause and (literally) change the face of men’s health.
Modern, organic moustache teething toy (above), handmade from hardwood by Little Alouette
Movember was started in 2003 by a group of friends in Melbourne. While talking over a few pints in a pub, the “Mo Bros”, as they’ve become known, decided to bring back the ‘stache and do something for men’s heath. Although there was no money raised that year, the 2004 event attracted over 400 participants and raised an impressive $55,000 for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia.
Moustache necklace (above), hand-cut from recycled leather by Crooked Sister
Since then, the movement has ballooned to a quarter of a million moustachioed participants and over a million donors. In 2009 alone, $47,000,000 was raised for the global beneficiary partners. I was proud to hear that Canada’s campaign was the second largest (after Australia), raising close to $8 million for Prostate Cancer Canada.
Hand-thrown porcelain dog bowl by Julia Custer at Handmade Green
How can you participate? Well, for some of us (ahem) it is physically impossible to grow a Selleck-worthy Movember moustache of our own, but we can get in on the fun by cheering on the participants, making a donation, hosting or attending a Movember party or event and sporting a faux-stache as a symbol of solidarity.
Cozy, unisex fleece neckwarmer with leather moustache by Ha Ha Bird
As you can see by the fabulous, handmade goods in this article, there is a handlebar for every member of the family…even Fido. And, to help clean things up on December 1st (once the “after” pictures have been taken, of course), I’ve included a luxurious, organic shaving cream.
When it’s time to say “goodbye”…Organic cedarwood and orange shaving cream in recycled glass bottle by Twig & Leaf Botanicals
For more information on Movember, or to donate, please visit the global Movember site and choose your region.