Crescent Maille: From the moment I picked up two pairs of pliers and started crafting my first bracelet I was immediately hooked. Chain maille is a passion and a joy. Creating jewelry in traditional weaves and using these weaves as a starting point for my own designs, I strive to make jewelry that is as much a pleasure to wear as it is to behold.
I work primarily with sterling silver rings, made by hand by the best sources. Sterling silver is pliable but durable, so luxurious, with such brilliance; though metal, it feels soft to the touch. When crafted to perfection, a silver chain maille bracelet is an amazing thing, mesmerizing as it bends and moves and molds itself to your wrist; it feels almost alive.
Crafting chain maille is very labor-intensive and time-consuming; many pieces are made from hundreds of individually linked rings and take hours. I value my time and trade, and believe in fair pay for all artists and artisans; I won’t under-price a piece just to sell a few more.
I first came to Pretty Stinkin’ Green when I stumbled across their fun tee-shirt skirts. Then I saw these graphic coffee sack totes and I loved the combination of vintage fabrics with the burlap. When I found out that the business is the result of a flourishing friendship, I loved it even more!
Deb and Hannah met about three years ago at their local scrapbook store in Traverse City, Michigan. They quickly became friends when they realized their shared hobbies ran deeper than paper crafts. Every time they got together their minds would go crazy with ideas.
we came up with new projects that we wanted to try, things we wanted to make, ideas we wanted to put into action, and we just couldn’t help ourselves, we wanted to do it all!
I can identify with that! But when a move forced them apart, they kept in touch by trading scrapbook kits and blogging together. That has been just less than a year ago, and they are closer now than ever! And while they continue to enjoy paper crafting with each other, Deb and Hannah have also continued to share their other passions, like green crafting, and inspire each other along the way. The focus of their business is to use upcycled & recycled materials. Nearly every part of ever item has had a prior life! Reuse, recycle & create!
Both Hannah and Deb gather inspiration of inspiration from blogs and websites, but their biggest inspiration comes from each other. Nearly everyday they’re exchanging ideas and inspiration.
Deb:: My favorite item changes constantly. I always get excited to make something new, or to put a twist on something that we have just made. That is what makes Pretty Stinkin’ Green so fun, we work with new materials all the time and we are challenging ourselves to come up with new ideas.
They are super friendly and love making connections with their clients! They’re open to special orders and love to work through the process of bringing an idea from inspiration to creation. And they’re not just limited to the types of items in their shop; they’re working on a custom bridal garter right now!
They also love to package their items creatively, they are paper crafters after all. You won’t find your item shoved in a priority mail box if they can help it! Their green mission is evident in their use of recycled products in their packaging. Each item is carefully wrapped up and sewn shut in recycled paper and mailed in old flour bags or reused boxes, carefully padded to ensure your items arrive safely!
Hannah ::I love the Stinkin’ Market Totes! I use a different one everyday! They have so much room inside, and can hold everything you want to take along with you. I also enjoy taking a couple along with me when I do my shopping, and then I don’t have to use paper or plastic bags!
Pretty Stinkin’ Green currently has items listed on both Artfire and Etsy, each with its own stock of unique upcycled products. Though, in the near future, their online listings will be with Etsy exclusively. Their items can also be found in a few unique shops in Traverse City, Michigan and a handful of craft shows this summer (Northern Michigan and West Central Ohio). Keep up with the latest by following them on their blog, Facebook and Twitter.
Renée Parker has lived in Atlanta since ’89 and loves it, with maybe the exception of the traffic, and also likes to travel. She has a tiny goldfish named Milagro, an Inca Gold Snail called Esteban, and an Algae eater called Scooter. She hopes to adopt a puppy sometime soon. Renée describes herself as quirky, optimistic, inventive, resourceful, and a hungry-for-knowledge dreamer. Check out her shop here!
What do you surround yourself with?
Books, mostly about art, craft, artists & history. Things torn from magazines and catalogs because I get inspiration from shapes, colors, and textures found everywhere. Journals and sketchbooks – I have several that float from room to room, one or two that generally stay in my car and one or two tiny ones that fit into purses – ideas happen everywhere. Things that have pretty or unique textures and colors – I often buy paper, paint, jewelry components, yarn and other objects simply because they jump out at me and I know they’ll become something beautiful later, when the inspiration hits. And good, positive people.
What are some of your favorite things?
I love nature, history, artifacts, travel, learning about other cultures, DIY, inspiring other people, and of course, all things creative.
When not painting, what are you doing?
Sketching, sculpting, sanding, planning, measuring, cutting, designing, beading, wiring, knitting, reading about techniques, talking about projects with friends and family, and dreaming about the next exciting artistic adventure.
How long have you been crafting?
I’ve been creating since I was very young. I started at approximately three years old, according to my mother.
Why did you start?
It was exciting for me – there were always limitless possibilities before me when I sat down to draw, paint, or even color in a coloring book.
Where to you get your materials?
I’m fortunate in that my area has at least one each of most of the major art and craft suppliers planted around town. I also order online, from time to time. The thing I’m proud of is that I’ve been finding more and more ways to upcycle things and to incorporate recycled materials into many of my projects. That began when I was a child and developed an interest in making things from objects around the house, and refurbishing things.
Do you come up with your own designs for your items?
All of my work is my own original design. I rarely work from patterns or plans – they make me restless. I do sometimes find a project in a book or online and tailor it to my own design/style/specifications, though.
Can you tell us a little of your process?
Basically, I always have many pieces underway. Some will be paintings, some sculptures, jewelry, mixed media, etc., all at different stages of completion. My projects overlap naturally because I have an ongoing stream of ideas. I usually jot down notes and/or sketches as soon as new stuff develops in my head and either initiate the project soon thereafter, or allow time for the idea to develop further, while I work on other pieces. In between getting new projects started, I spend time here and there on various pieces already underway, moving each along at whatever pace they call for. I’ve learned that rushing a piece never gets me the end result I pictured in my mind, and that is another reason why it works for me to have numerous pieces going at once. Sometimes they surprise me and several are suddenly finished. It probably seems like madness to some, but my work is better and I’m happier with the end result when I let the pieces flow like this instead of following some regimented way of working strictly on one piece, nonstop until it’s done. I would probably lose interest very quickly that way, anyway.
How long does it take to complete an item, like your everyday mache?
It often depends on drying time and how anal I want to be about things like texture and color. Having had years of trial and error and being familiar with how a medium like papier mache behaves under different conditions makes a difference. A large bowl, like the Paper Scissors bowl usually takes about 4 hours of active studio time to create, not including drying times for the paper pulp and the acrylic paint.
Do you have a dedicated work area/room?
Yes, I have a studio space at home.
Is this your full-time job? Hobby? Fun?
I do create full-time, and am working on making it my main source of income. And it is fun!
Do you have a best seller?
My sales are all over the map, with most in jewelry, the recycled paper beads I sometimes offer, and greeting cards. I enjoy offering items at different price points because I like the idea of “art for everybody’s budget”.
What is your favorite?
My favorite things are the new things I’m working on and can’t wait to share!
Do you do other kinds of crafts not showing in your store?
I think there’s a little of most of the things I do featured in my shop, in one form or another. I’m looking forward to offering more of my paintings, including my watercolor work. And I’ve been working with soft goods made from upcycled t-shirts, for a line I hope to launch before the end of the summer.
What do you see yourself doing in 5 years?
In 5 years I look forward to having expanded my work to feature recognized collections of art and design in different mediums, some in boutiques and galleries, some licensed, and some sold exclusively from my own online entities. I hope to have completed a small collection of books (a childrens’ book and books on creative techniques and inspiration) that have been chewing on me for a few years now, and to have done more television appearances to promote my work (I would love to appear on Martha Stewart and possibly Oprah!)
What have you learned since you started running your own business?
Oh so much – I could almost write a book on that, but since I don’t have time, I trade experiences and things learned with other creative business people. The most important thing, I think, is how much focus and attitude matter. Small business owners have to allow themselves time to learn and make mistakes, but keep moving. They must be very resourceful and creative, artists or otherwise. Being willing to constantly look for ways to grow and improve helps a LOT.
Do you have any advice for people trying to start their own handcrafted business?
Just START! I’ve learned that whatever you want to do, you just have to get started. No, it might not look or work like your fondest dream at first, but everyday is an opportunity to tweak and hone things and move them closer to what you envision. Then one day you wake up and see what you wanted in the beginning, or perhaps even better!! Look at people who are doing what you want to do and figure out how they got there. Be a total sponge. Seek out every spec of knowledge you can about your specialty, ask questions, then put your own unique spin on what you do. Be inspired by others’ work, then go do yours!
It’s been a couple of years since I last posted about LarimeLoom, so I thought I’d give an update: still awesome!
I’m Maria Lucia Squillari, I’m 23, I live in italy, and I’ve always loved sewing and crafting, of any kind… basket making, crochet, knitting, beadworking, sewing, spinning…. My etsy shop has become my full time job, and everything involved is done by me with some help form my family… My mother, Melissa, takes the photos. Me and my sister Lidia alternate in doing the modelling of the pieces, and she also helps a lot with packaging when I am in a pinch. Everything here I make myself, usually without patterns, so one or few of a kind… The design evolves from the fabric it’s self, from my mood, the weather, the particular idea I am developing at that moment.
I’m so pleased to introduce our newest columnist, Sarah Simpson. She’s going to be writing on organization and simplification of your life – something we all need. Please welcome her to Try Handmade and let her know of any topics or shops you’d like to suggest to her in the comments!
Spring is here! (I bet so many of you have been dying to finally get to say that). What better way to lose those winter blues and clear you mind than to get your workspace de-cluttered and organized? Organization doesn’t necessarily have to mean sorting your belongings into those horrid plastic bins. It can be functional, beautiful, and…earth friendly!
The desk caddy pictured above, by PegandAwl, is handcrafted from reclaimed wood from antique floors in Philadelphia homes built in the 1800s. Holes varying in size are drilled to hold all kinds of office supplies and keep them within easy reach. Use it at home to sort crafting supplies, at your work office for pens and pencils, or even in your garage to organize tools and hardware.
One of my favorite office “must haves” right now is a good old fashioned chalkboard. Chalkboards are EVERYWHERE right now. They’re convenient, they’re adorable, and they’re very easy to make. Just about anything with a non-porous surface can be painted with chalkboard paint that you can pick up from your local home improvement store. Having a visible “to-do” list near your workspace will de-clutter your desk and your mind. Check out these beautiful handmade chalkboards made from re-purposed cabinet doors from FunkieFinds.
Whether you use your workspace for office work or as a studio/crafting space, your most often used items can be sorted and organized so you always know where to find them. To add some color and flair to your space, use an assortment of handmade pottery dishes from TheMudPlace to organize paper clips, thumbtacks, beads, and so on.
You can find so many unique items online, at flea markets, and at seasonal crafts shows to help create a well sorted workspace in no time. Use your imagination and design a custom space that allows you to keep everything in order with as little effort as possible.