Baggelboy: Artist and illustrator. At the moment I live in Cambridge a small medieval city on the edge of the world. Originally from London I came here to study illustration and found the medieval life suited me.
The linocut pictures I make come from a mixture of the fun side of our darker life and the fairy tales that Grandma used to tell us. They are firmly rooted in the tradition of Medieval woodcuts and early book printing but with a little twist in the tail. Some of these pictures will become book illustrations and others are workings for larger prints and posters.
When it comes to Twitter, either you “get it”, or you don’t. For those who haven’t joined the flock, Twitter seems like a colossal waste of time. To the uninitiated, the four-year-old micro-blogging site is full of people with nothing better to do talking about what they had for breakfast and other pointless minutia. Most users, however, see it as much more than that. Sure, there are plenty of tweets about “nothing”, but there’s plenty of good information and fun to be had, too; that just depends on who you choose to follow. Most of the people that I follow are using it to network, stay in touch with friends, promote their products (or themselves) and, in some cases, just to be cute, clever or funny. I like to say that I’m there for all of that, but really, let’s be honest…it’s all about the shopping.
In the world of DIY, the “I” stands for just about everything; from making to marketing. Social networking sites like Twitter give makers a cheap (read: free) platform for promoting their products, keeping up with the trends, and connecting directly with their customers. Savvy sellers can list a product in their shop and instantly promote it to their followers and, in some cases, their followers’ followers, too. That’s how I first found out about Jen Mullen’s shop Tiny Art by J Mullin. I was scrolling through tweets one day and came across a “retweet” about a sale on Jen’s fabulous chair collages. Two or three clicks later, and I was the proud owner of “In My Place”. (What can I say…they had me at “sale”.) Since then, I have been a huge fan of Jen’s work, like the piece above, and a loyal follower on Twitter. You can follow her, too: twitter.com/jennifermullin.
Reclaim, reuse, recycle…retweet? Thanks to Twitter, we have a fourth “R” in our vocabulary and Katherine of reiter8 does it all. Her shop is filled with a fun and eco-friendly collection of unique accessories upcycled from reclaimed sailboat sails. Her pillows, like the ones pictured above, are a fabulous way to add a touch of sporty, summery style to your home or cottage. And, if you have sails that you are looking to get rid of (don’t we all?), you can donate them to Katherine and she’ll send you a tote in return! Check out Katherine’s tweets and retweets at: twitter.com/reiter8.
Casey of IKC Designs has a shop full of some of the coolest, upcycled goods I’ve ever come across. Cleverly finding new uses for everything from valve knobs to vintage trophy figures, Casey makes pieces that all share a fresh, uncomplicated aesthetic and a modern appeal. Staying up-to-date with the latest from the IKC Designs shop is as easy as going to twitter.com/ikcdesign and clicking “follow”.
Tracy Melton’s tree ring paintings (above) are each a little slice of awesome. Tracy uses a chainsaw to cut each one from a dead elm tree, then carefully sands, clear-coats, paints and clear-coats again to produce her beautiful, one-of-a-kind pieces. The paintings are sold in sets of three, but Tracy encourages customers who visit the Focus Line Art shop to buy more than one set to create their own unique assemblage. I, for one, probably wouldn’t need much convincing; like Twitter, I think collecting Tracy’s paintings would quickly become addictive. Follow Tracy into the woods via her Twitter feed: twitter.com/tracymeltonart.
I love to read tweets by artists and artisans who are passionate about their work. Taryn of Talking Squid is no exception. Twitter gives you 140 characters to get your message across, but Taryn manages to create excitement in less than half of that. Of course, when you see her rugs, you see why! At first glance, you’ll want one for your home, but when you find out that each one is made up of strips of super-soft t-shirt fabric, you’ll want to sink your toes into one…stat! Follow Taryn to get the scoop on all of the exciting news (and deals!) from the Talking Squid studios: twitter.com/talkingsquid.
Shopping aside, the thing that I love most about following artisans on Twitter is getting a peek into the “behind the scenes” stuff. In addition to marketing their goods, my favourite tweeters keep it interesting by giving their followers little glimpses into their lives, too. I hope that you’ll get to know this week’s featured sellers by visiting their shops and following them on Twitter. And, while you’re at it, you can follow me, too: twitter.com/zenbecca.
Ok, back to shopping…are you dying to know where to get a handmade Twitter coffee mug, like the ones pictured above and at the top of this article? Look no further! They are available at Mug Revolution and can be customized with your very own Twitter name. How cool is that? For a peek into potter Owen’s world, you can follow the mug-maker himself at (not surprisingly): twitter.com/mugmkr.
2009 is the International Year of Natural Fibres. One of the world’s most beloved natural fibres, wool, is also one of the oldest in use. Although sheep were domesticated around 10,000 BC, it took people nearly 5,000 years to begin spinning their wool. In the time since then, wool has been a worldwide textile-of-choice for clothing as well as a myriad of home comforts.
Currently, global wool-production is at around 2.1 million tonnes per annum with Australia leading the herd, so to speak, followed by New Zealand and China. This figure, while seemingly large, is actually much less than it once was. An increased demand for synthetic fibres beginning in the 1960s meant a decline in wool prices and, as a result, production.
The current “green” movement, however, has led to a renewed interest in sustainable natural fibres, including wool. While new wool products continue to enjoy their popularity in fashion and home décor, it is the “old” wool that is garnering much attention in the handmade community. With an eye on thrift and a commitment to “reduce and reuse“, eco-conscious crafters and artisans are repurposing existing and heirloom woolen garments to create fun and fabulous items.
Mandinka Designs: Our process begins with the Hunt. We love to go hunting in thrift shops for gorgeous suit coats with fabulous linings and labels.
The labels are like little works of art in and of themselves. We “ooh” and aah” loudly while people look at the two strange women flipping through the men’s suit rack. Once we get the coats home we “fillet” them into the various parts- sleeves, collars, pockets, etc.
Then the real fun begins as we collage them into the varying styles of handbags, totes and accessories. Of course, no part of the coat should be wasted, so we make our adorable bugs out of the leftover sleeves.
Today is my son’s twelfth birthday and I can’t help but to reflect on how things have changed in the time that he’s been on Earth. Back in 1997, I gave little thought to things like carbon footprints and e-waste. Deforestation was probably the furthest thing from my mind and I’m pretty sure that the term “upcycling” hadn’t even been invented yet.
Looking back over all of our birthday parties, it makes me cringe to think about how many decorations, trinkets and disposable tableware items I have sent to the landfill. Each of my son’s parties had a theme, and with each theme came a whole slew of coordinated plates, cups, tablecloths, napkins and banners purchased from the discount party or dollar store. As soon as the guests had departed, everything was quickly gathered into a black garbage bag and taken to the curb with little regard for the environment.