Check out some really fabulous shops I found scouting out Cleveland, Ohio. This midwest city has a vibrant craft community and you can find out more about activities in and around Cleveland as well as the artists that call it home at the Cleveland Handmade group website.
“Long Road Trip” print by Donna McKenzie
By the time you read this, I’ll be back from my annual mini-vacation to rural Saskatchewan; back to the world of traffic and computers; back to waking to an alarm-clock instead of the call and answer of the owls. I don’t know how long I’ll stick around, though; I spend most summers gripped by wanderlust and have already started planning our next adventure. For the next three weeks my articles will all be road-trip related and full of tips to keep your travels economical and eco-friendly. So, buckle your seatbelts and get ready to hit the (green) highway!
Before you set off, take the time to get your vehicle in good shape. Not only will you have a safer journey, you’ll save gas AND money! Ensure your engine is properly tuned and maintained, check your oil, spark plugs, oxygen sensors, air filters, hoses and belts, and make any necessary repairs and adjustments before embarking on your adventure. Be sure, as well, to have your wheels aligned and keep your tires properly inflated; low tire pressure is not only a safety hazard, it wastes gasoline. Fact: you can actually increase your car’s gas mileage by over 3% just by properly inflating the tires! (See your owner’s manual for your vehicle’s recommended tire-inflation.) Upcycled Volvo spark plug keychain, pictured above, by Brown Dog Welding.
Setting off into unknown territory can turn any journey into an adventure. Getting lost, however, can take the fun out of the trip as soon as you realize that you are going many, many kilometres out of your way. A satellite navigation system is a great way to stay on-course, but I have heard many stories of GPS units directing drivers into cornfields and up long-abandoned roads, so pack “old fashioned” maps just in case. The wood and upcycled map bangle bracelets, pictured above, were made by San Francisco’s Squishy Sushi.
In order to avoid wasting precious gas and time, try to plan your route well in advance. There are a number of web-based trip planners that you can use to make the most of your journey. I like http://www.freetrip.com/ and good ol’ Google Maps. Or, if you are a member of an auto club, you can let them do your planning for you! AAA and CAA also provide their members with free maps and travel guides. Are we there yet? Repurposed plastic and map luggage tags, pictured above, by Marmalime.
In addition to planning your routes, pre-planning your stops can help keep everyone in the car happy-go-lucky, too. Being spontaneous is fun, yes, but have you ever driven an extra-hour for an impromptu treat and arrived only to find that a much-hyped ice-cream shop is inexplicably closed? Trust me; it’s an instant joy-kill. It’s also a good idea to call ahead to your destinations to check operating hours, etc. Check out the fun and guaranteed melt-free, upcycled wood neopolitan “ice cream treats” by Rekindled Cottage, pictured above.
Next week: we head out on the highway!
As you will see, I have a bit of a problem when it comes to the subject of fingerless gloves, wrist warmers, mittenettes, handwarmers or gauntlets. Whatever you call them, my Etsy favorites list is full to the brim with them. Allow me to show you the best I’ve found in the hope that it will keep me from buying up each and every pair myself!
$32 by Chez Plum.
$34 by Coquelicot Salon.
$32 by Jeannie Knits. These need to come live in my coat pockets.
$35 by While They Play.
$65 (mmm, cashmere!) by Adventures of Jessica Rose. (I have room in my pockets for these too!)
I love them all. Which pair(s) spoke to your taste?
Heather Heffken: MY name is Heather,but my friends and family call me Hedda(or heddow…like ‘Heather’with a homestarruner voice.)I live with my fantabulous husband in Alabama. I love art. All Kinds.I recycle for my craft when I can,and I run my business in as ‘green’ a way as possible.Eventually I will begin selling only eco-friendly items.
I’ve been crafting and creating my entire life.I started sewing by hand when I was about…oh,I dunno,five years old?My mom would know for sure.I started seriously sewing and learning to use machines around age 10, so I have 10 years of serious sewing under my belt. You will be pleased with the quality of my work, I promise:)
So you’ve determined that part of your motivation for purchasing handmade goods is to promote the handmade movement as a whole, and encourage others to do the same. How do you decide if your chosen venue is a serious proponent of handmade, or has turned more of its attention to the bottom line?
Where a particular venue directs your attention once you’ve landed there is important because it says a lot about a site’s devotion to the promotion of handmade goods. So one way to determine how significant promoting handmade as a movement is to your venue is by evaluating your shopping experience… where does the venue choose to direct your attention once you’re within their site? Here are some highlights to get you started.
Some venues make every effort to keep shoppers on site once they’re there and do not allow members to post active links within their shops that go elsewhere. This insures that shoppers will be exposed to their content only, which is generally limited to goods handmade by the artist selling them, vintage, and crafting supplies. This can be good or bad for your shopping experience depending on your point of view, but it does tend to at least expose shoppers to mostly handmade goods.
Some venues allow some links out but have requirements in place that keeps your shopping experience on target. Others allow members to have just about any link or widget in their shop, with or without limitations on what is allowed.
A few venues have taken the extra step of including ads within members’ shops, usually those shops that are not paying a fee to the venue. This is generally considered an acceptable practice. But it can call a venue’s commitment to handmade goods into question when someone who has searched for a particular product (on google, for instance) finds themselves in a handmade shop and is then presented with a list of active links for that same product that are manufactured, not handmade. For any venue that has a mission statement of promoting handmade goods and artists, this looks a lot like ad dollars taking precedence over promoting handmade.
So how do you feel about choosing a handmade venue for your purchases based on their commitment to handmade? Does it matter to you, or do you just want great handmade goods no matter where they come from? Feel free to comment below.