Hitomi Kimura is the designer and screen printer of kalla Design, textile and surface design studio based in Ibaraki, Japan.
In 2007, after studying graphic design and working for a publisher in London, England, Hitomi started her own small business in Japan, selling her screen printed matters.
All the printed products are hand screen printed with water-based eco-friendly inks and then some of them are carefully machine sewed by the designer herself.
Many natural soaps take advantage of herbal ingredients for fragrance and medicinal properties. Some herb and plants are believed to heal or soothe a number of skin ailments without the use of chemicals. Three worth mentioning are tea tree, lavender and calendula.
Tea tree essential oil, which has antiseptic and anti-fungal properties, also smells great. It can be used alone, or combined with other ingredients in soaps that are friendly to irritable or acne-prone skin.
Lavender has been traditionally used in aromatherapy and bath and body products for everything from potpourri to candles to soaps and creams. It is also believed to be calming and helpful to those suffering from headaches and depression.
Calendula comes from the marigold plant. It promotes skin healing and repair. And it is known for its anti-inflammatory properties.
Of the herbs mentioned above, I find calendula to be the most soothing and gentle. Tea tree fragrance is my favorite in the morning for its energetic scent, or at the end of a hot day – especially if sunscreen needs to be removed.
During the summertime I am able to enjoy fresh lavender. I am fortunate to have a large, healthy lavender plant. So I dry the lavender and make the oil myself, then use it as a moisturizer all winter. In soap, it’s a great fragrance to hand over to sweaty children. They smell better almost immediately.
Dr. Flowers’ store has a great variety of natural soaps. They smell wonderful and arrived promptly, wrapped in embroidered cotton sleeves. The soaps have a wavy cut, which makes them pretty to look at and shows off the herbs within. And I appreciate the eco-friendly packaging.
My order from Dr. Flowers also included small heart shaped soaps, that look nice in the bathroom. And they are very appropriate to have this time of year with Valentine’s Day coming up.
So, you’ve taken a pledge to give only handmade gifts this Christmas. Your ornaments and decorations are all one-of-a-kind creations gathered from the local craft fair and visitors to your home are going to be treated to local artisan cheeses and breads before being sent home with homemade fudge and gingerbread from your own kitchen. It sounds like you’ve got the bases covered…but you’re not planning to use boring old store-bought wrapping paper, are you? Of course you’re not!
I have always been a proponent of the fabric gift bag. Not only do they look so cute under the Christmas tree, they are almost infinitely reusable. Considering the cost (and waste!) of paper wrapping and plastic ribbon, fabric bags will pay for themselves within just a couple uses. These colourful, reversible gift bags by Pidoodle are doubly-good for the environment because the fabric used to create them was repurposed from thrifted garments. A dedicated thriftier and “fickle crafter”, Carissa seeks out used (and sometimes damaged) pieces at charity shops and gives them a second life by dying, silk-screening and sewing them into gift bags. She even includes a piece of tulle to replace expensive and fragile tissue paper. How clever!
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.
eliza B green: I’m a green designer, working with eco fabrics and existing clothes, repurposing to create something new. All my items are original, one-of-a-kind or limited edition, built from scratch.