At our house, December 2009 was a blur of working, crafting and traveling. Somehow, in all of the excitement and frenzy of the holidays, the 31 days of 2009’s final month felt more like 13 days. There just never seemed enough time! That must be why, almost a full week into the new year, we are just now getting around to replacing all of the calendars in the house. In past years, I have always grabbed a big, glossy shrink-wrapped calendar from the big-box bookstore, but this year I am looking for something different. Because we are going to have to live with it for the next 12 months, I want something unique, clever and, of course, eco-friendly.
Recycled by Hyena: My work is infused with my ethic and each of my creations is the result of passion and dedication. My clothes are made from scratch but not from new materials. They are made with fabric from clothes I purchased in Goodwill stores and non-profit thrift stores.
I “believe” in the craft revolution and I think it is our future. The handmade and eco-friendly life is the only alternative to the consumerism destroying our planet and the living beings surrounding us.
Please join me in welcoming our newest columnist to Try Handmade, Cara Quinn! She’s going to be writing about frugal living and minimalism as it relates to buying handmade and making it yourself. Check out her first post, and let her know if you have suggestions or requests for future posts. Welcome Cara!
I’m not a fan of cranking up the thermostat in our home (well, truth be told we don’t even have a thermostat) and all throughout winter I was determined to whip up a draught excluder that would plug the huge gap under our front door – where a majority of the heat escapes from.
I’ve been determined to do this for two winters running. When I saw these sausage dog draught excluder’s on Ellie’s Crafts they looked like the perfect addition to our otherwise dog-free home.
On top of draught excluder’s, there are other ways to keep the heating bills down (and Planet Earth happy) and keep warm – after all, before we know it, we’ll be springing into spring. Until then, I plan on cuddling up close to my baby son (that boy has a freakish, almost superhuman, ability to keep me warm.)
This adorable onesie from Ink & Ivy is made from water-based ink and organic cotton so appeals to my eco-friendly nature. It’s also available in a light red – which I find is gender neutral and could work for two (or more) babies. I’m a huge fan of hand-me-down clothes for little people!
Other tips for staying warm:
Wrap up in a blanket. I have a little fleece blanket on my sofa that I love to be wrapped in. I have two thin blankets and one really thick one. The two thin blankets I can circulate when the weather is sorting itself out for a spring season and the thick blanket is for the hell that was last winter. Or as we called it in these parts: Snowmageddon. By the time summer rolls around, I don’t need blankets or my central heating to keep me warm.
Put on some socks. It’s true about losing body heat through your extremities and covering those tootsies up will keep you cosied up.
Put on a sweater. I know I sound like someone’s Granma when I say that, but the fact is that it remains true. More layers means more body heat is given out – don’t over do the layering when you go out, though, or you’ll be sweating like a turkey the night before Thanksgiving.
Got some sweaters that don’t quite fit any more or have reached their life span? That’s okay, up-cycle them into a nifty (and thrifty!) purse/handbag. Make and Love It tells you how.
If you love this idea, check out some of the other up-cycled ideas on that same blog; pillows and dresses made from sweaters and a cute little beanie hat and skirt, who were in a former life, scarves.
No need to donate (or throw away – but I seriously hope no one is throwing away clothes in this day and age!) winter clothes that have outrun their lifespan; they can come right into spring with you!
When I was a kid, we got in the car and drove my dad out to a nearby town to take a hot air balloon ride. I remember watching the balloons gliding through the sky. These earrings remind me of that day.
Elle got started in handmade when she was struggling with depression and loneliness. Jewelry-making was her way to be totally immersed in something that was not only positive, but kept her mind off of what she was going through. She fell in love with jewelry making and never looked back. Her style incorporates vintage pieces with modern beads.
Encouraged by friends and family she jumped into selling through her shop Elle’s Beads. After taking a blind leap, she learned as she went setting up up a business strategy, goals, and a budget.
I’ve met such great artisans, both in real life and through venues like Etsy, and I feel like I have a sense of community and belonging now.
Elle’s grandmother is a huge influence. She uses her antique sewing machine and vintage buttons to make a lot of her creations. She’s also inspired by items that people cast away as trash. She has a way of viewing things not as what they are, but what they could become with a little bit of fabric, paint, or beads. She’s also started sewing now due to her grandmother’s influence (she was a seamstress) and makes a point to only use eco-friendly materials in the accessories she makes.
My favorite item is my Vintage Sapphire and Silver Glass Pearl Necklace. It’s the first eco-friendly piece I ever made and it’s from an old vintage earring I repurposed as a brooch. I’m really passionate now about reusing old materials and making them into something beautiful and new. This necklace is a constant reminder to me of the beginning of that journey.
Elle supports the views that many of us handmade artisans have, even though handmade goods can cost more than mass-produced goods, especially those imported from overseas, they’re so much more valuable! When you buy something handmade, you’re supporting an artisan – a small business and an entrepreneur. You’re supporting a craft and a subculture that values the importance of keeping craftsmanship alive. Each handmade item is a little bit different and Elle, like all handmade artists puts her love and a part of herself in every piece.
These adorable vintage birdies are my personal favorite!
Elle is a full-time paralegal working for a non-profit in North Carolina. When not working at her day job or on her business, you can find her relaxing in front of the television, catching up on the latest book club book, or talking on the phone with her family. Online you can find her on Facebook, Twitter and her blog.
It would be nearly impossible for me to choose a favourite shade of green, but if pressed, I would probably put “grass” in my top 10. Of course, that answer is an utter cop-out because grass itself comes in hundreds, if not thousands, of shades. Just last night, while watching my fella cut his lawn, I found myself mesmerized by the way the grass appeared to change colour with each pass of the mower; much like velvet changes when you run your hand across the nap. Before I knew it, my guy was finished with the lawn…and I was inspired. This week’s collection of handmade goods is just a small sampling of the many shades of fresh green grass, chosen not just for their colour, but for their eco-coolness as well.
Wren Willow’s “Ozymandius” (the grumpy owl, above) is an original design hand-screened onto a 100% cotton American Apparel t-shirt, which has been dyed in a gorgeous grass-green. The special water-based dyes that Marla uses are environmentally friendly and will not bleed or fade in the wash. Your shirt from the Wren Willow shop promises to be perfectly unique because, as with all hand-made items, it is the slight differences from one piece to the next that make them so special. So, what does that owl have to be so grumpy about anyway?
This beautiful grass-green votive (above) is made in Spain from 99% recycled glass and filled with clean-burning, eco-friendly soy wax, scented with your choice of Mireio’s irresistible fragrances. Each candle is custom-poured to order and should last up to 20 hours with careful burning, according to shop owner Wende. Once the candle has burned, the holder can be refilled with any of the standard 2oz (15 hour) votives from the Mireio shop.
Bring nature inside and add a touch of colour to your home without going to the mess or expense of painting with these striking vinyl decals by Connie of Circle Line Studios. The removable decals adhere to any clean, smooth, flat surface and are a quick and eco-friendly way to freshen up your décor. Cut from high-quality vinyl, the decals are available in your choice of colour, including my favourite – the grass-green pictured above. Check out the Circle Line Studios shop for dozens of designs or to inquire about a custom creation.
Semra of Istanbul, Turkey is the talent behind these amazing grass-green necklaces pictured above. These stunning pieces were crocheted by hand and are just two examples of the unique and beautiful lace and crochet jewelry items available in the Kirevi shop. Whether you are looking to make a big statement or just a little one, Semra’s bohemian-chic necklaces will add an attention-getting shot of earthy colour to your summer wardrobe.