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.
Beth Cummings of Diffraction Fiber has lived in Chicago for the last four years and loves it. “It has a neighborhood feel where I live but still within a short distance from amazing food and culture and everything you could possibly need to be inspired.” she says. Beth lives with her husband, Regan, and a little doggy named Ditto that they just recently got from a shelter.
Beth describes herself as a typical Pisces – a lover and an artist who loves cooking. She loves dinner parties, sunshine on a crisp day, snuggling her puppy and her husband. Beth also loves reading and playing board games. Her favorite quote is, “Life is either a daring adventure or its nothing. Security does not exist in nature nor do the children of men as a whole experience it”. — Helen Keller
How long have you been sewing?
Oh man, as long as I can remember. My mother and grandmother taught me to sew when I was tiny.
Why did you start?
Well I was a curious kid, and you see your mom and grandma sewing you want to do what they are doing. That’s how I learned lots of handy life skills.
What are the items you have handy at all times for creating?
A rotary cutter. I adore that thing. And embroidery scissors. They are absolutely essential for all the detail work I do in my appliques.
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.
When you think of Valentines Day, what comes to mind? Giant heart-shaped boxes of candy filled with high-fructose corn syrup, artificial-colours and synthetic flavours? Surely there is a better way to say “I love you” without sacrificing our commitment to better eating! Thankfully, living the life organic doesn’t have to mean giving up sweet treats.
Meeting the demands of consumers looking for high-quality, scrumptious and “better for you” confectionery products, Beth and Vincent of Have it Sweet offer an incredible range of mouth-watering products made by hand with natural, organic ingredients. “We use local farm fresh cream and organic butter, all natural, non-GMO corn syrup, organic cane sugar, organic fair trade vanilla, Callebaut Belgian Chocolate, perfectly toasted organic nuts, organic spices and extracts and unrefined salt. We are completely and utterly preservative free and 90% of our products are gluten free.”
Vincent, the brilliant pastry chef and confectioner behind Have it Sweet’s original recipes, has worked tirelessly to create a veritable rainbow of flavours that will tempt your eyes and your taste buds, such as his unique Cinnamon Almond Nougat (above). Described by Beth as “a confection created by angels”, this soft, pink-tinted nougat is made in the French style and is filled with crunchy roasted cinnamon-sugar coated almonds. Made with all-natural ingredients (including the food colouring used to give it its rosy hue), this nougat will make your sweetheart say “Ooh la la!”
What would Valentine’s Day be without a little chocolate? The adorably-named “Love is in the Airamels” (pictured above) are blushing-pink Tahitian vanilla caramels layered with Callebaut Belgian dark chocolate. Made with Have it Sweet’s secret recipe and the finest ingredients, these are caramels like no other. Plus, they’re good for you! Loaded with anti-oxidant flavonoids, dark chocolate has been shown to lower blood-pressure and increase anti-depressant serotonin levels in the brain.
As light as air and swirled with natural pink peppermint, Have it Sweet’s Pink Peppermint Marshmallows are as pretty to look at as they are fun to eat. Free of dairy, gluten, soy and nuts, these all-natural fluffy delights are perfect for snacking, floating in a mug of cocoa, or as the star of the show in a chocolate-peppermint s’more. You can also indulge your darling’s sweet tooth all year round with a gift of the “Marshmallow of the Month” club. Every month for an entire year, your Valentine will receive an eco-friendly package containing the marshmallow flavour-of-the-month. February’s flavour is, of course, Pink Peppermint. Please see Have it Sweet’s shop for more details.
Not only are all of these confections a delight to behold, they will all arrive at your door in 100% environmentally-friendly packaging. From the parchment that wraps the treats, to the tape that seals the boxes, all of the packaging materials used by Have it Sweet are recycled/recyclable and eco-friendly. As Beth sweetly puts it, “Our packaging, ingredients and core values are a symbol of who we are a company and how we feel about the earth.”
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!