RADCOW: I got Interested in Leather craft about a decade ago, when I was a teenager hitch hiking across Canada. On my travels I met a wonderful old hippy man named Longevity John. He was nearly 7 foot tall, with hair down his back, and eyes all full of kindness. He lived in a shotgun shack with no running water, or electricity, but made incredible and inspiring leather crafts and sold them on saturdays at the farmers market in town. John showed me a few things, and got the seeds of inspiration planted in me. The thought of someone making their living with their own 2 hands from thier crafts made my heart swell. Later, I got a job at a leather craft store, and began spending most of my pay cheques on tools, and most of my time playing with leather. Since then, the seed has grown, and I too make my living this way, selling here, and at festivals and craft fairs. I feel like I am on my true path, and I am eternally grateful to etsy, and to all of you who support hand crafters. You allow the creative instinct to grow and flourish. Thank you!
You’re in for a treat today — a guest post from my friend Casey at the Moosh in Indy blog. She’s always fabulous but especially so last month when she was in New York for Fashion Week. Read on to hear how she styled herself in handmade for this high-power event, and love her for helping spread the word that handmade is better and more beautiful and closer to the heart than mass-produced.
There was the most wonderful crocheted hat at the most unique little boutique on Pier 17 in NYC. I had it in my hand ready to purchase when a little sticker came out that read “Made in Taiwan.”
If I’ve learned anything from living part of my life on the internet it is that I don’t need to stand for “Made in Taiwan.”
In February I went to New York during fashion week for a “work thing.” I have no shame in admitting that my first thought was “WHAT AM I GOING TO WEAR?” It was at that moment I decided to go handmade for my trip.
I first gathered up all of my own etsy and farmers market purchases.
I then put the question out to my followers on twitter, “Anybody on here make stuff?” Simple as that. Even if someone didn’t make something themselves they knew somebody who made something or had purchased something from someone and were more than willing to brag about their wares.
Suddenly the internet became my own little personal boutique.
And you know what? No one else had what I had. When I was asked “Where did you find that?” I was able to answer a real person’s name and hand them a card rather than answer a big box store. I’ve met a lot of these people, I’ve had conversations with them, had things custom made or tweaked. There’s nothing quite like getting a compliment on an item when you know yours is the only one in existence.
Now I’d like to present to you the handmade items that made me feel unique in a city of chain stores, trends and a million other people. I can vouch for all of them, some I’ve known for years, others only a month, but they are all fantastic.
Accessoire. This girl is just down the road from me in Indianapolis, all of her lovely wool flowers have feminine names and she warned me that Lillith must put out and that’s why people like her so much.
Pere Custom Handbags. I was told by a New Yorker that out of towners stand out most when they bring a big handbag to evening events. She said a leeedle teeny clutch was key in not standing out like an unfashionable sore thumb. I’m addicted to jewel tones so her pinch puff clutch stole my heart immediately. The thought of carrying one of her other handbags actually gets me more excited than going out in the first place.
Necklush. I. LOVE. SCARVES. Necklushes are even cooler than the coolest scarf I own, which is why I own two. Everytime I wear one I can’t go out without at least two or three comments on it (complete with touches, I don’t even mind the touches if that says anything.) There’s a dozen different ways to wear one and all of them are awesome.
Cheryl’s Jewelry. Another local. I have admired her intricate wirework from afar for awhile but never had the occasion to wear such art around my neck. She picks the most amazing jewels for her work and the hours spent on each piece is apparent. Wish her luck as she tries to get into the local art market scene.
Studio Jewel. Ever built an outfit around a necklace and then spend the day with your hair up and your chin up showing off the necklace? That’s how I feel in my Studio Jewel necklace. It just feels good. And pretty. And what’s even better is since she’s the boss, she was able to size it down for my puny little neck.
Round House Designs. Not only did she make a custom ring based off of my blog for me, she and my husband went into cahoots for Valentine’s Day. Not to rub it in, but my Valentine’s gift kicked your Valentine’s gifts’ trash.
What’s fantastic about this? I just told you about all of the secrets in my closet but you’ll never be able to duplicate exactly what I have. Why? Handmade, that’s why.
Some good advice from Claire & Me Designs.
We’re constantly being reminded that we’re living in a stress-filled 21st Century, then on the other hand we’re being slated for being stressed out. The truth is simple: stress happens. We just need to get better at coping with it.
We’re either ‘Too blessed to be stressed’ (the very idea of that is just utter garbage to me) or we’ve to ‘Keep calm and carry on’ (which works in the short term but is never a long term solution.)
I don’t have the answer to a stress-free lifestyle but it has become very apparent to me that stress is a Big Problem. After all, the newspapers are obsessed with it and it’s causes. Pharmaceutical companies seem to be making billions off the back of it. And we’re seemingly becoming more and more stressed out.
And I have reached the conclusion that filling your walls full of inspirational, quirky and fun stress-boosting posters might help. Such as this cute illustration by Laura George.
In all seriousness, though, it feels like we’re either doing too much or not enough with ourselves, our lives, our goals, our commitments.
We’re trying to juggle our happiness and meanwhile keep everyone else happy.
We’re smiling and nodding at the boss, telling them that yes we can do that bit of over time, all in the hopes of them furthering us up the career ladder.
We’re wives, mothers, fathers, husbands, girlfriends, boyfriends, daughters, sons and so on trying to deal with those relationships that life throws at us unprepared for and to ‘learn on the job.’
We’re crafters trying to push our latest project into making amazing sales. We’re photographers, dreamers, writers, intellects, artists and academics all looking for our break, our way into the World and for that penny-dropping moment of complete bliss and happiness.
Happiness seems like the anti-thesis to stress; wherever stress is, happiness is not. It’s like stress walked into the party and happiness walked out with it’s chin up in the air and a snooty snort as it passed stress as if to say; “Pft, I’m out of here! I’m not sticking around for any more of your drama!”
I definitely believe that happiness can be achieved in this life. I have experienced material happiness (as in the short-term burst of pleasure you experience when you buy something new for the first time) and I have experienced natural happiness (that long lingering and memory making happiness you get from wonderful life experiences) so I know this can be achieved. I also know that the majority of people in the World will have experienced the feelings I have described above – so happiness is real. It’s not some mythical creature that lives in a cave. It can happen to you.
There are no rule books on combatting stress (okay, well, not counting Chicken Soup for the Stressed Out Soul and all those like-wise books, of course) but there are techniques you can learn to avoid the impending doom of stress.
Again, here I go with the advice;
Befriend someone older than you. Most of my older friends have a much more laissez faire attitude towards life than I sometimes do. Like when I worry about wrinkles, my Gran will tell me; “You don’t have any wrinkles! Don’t worry about those things in your 20s, enjoy yourself!”.
Those who have more life experience just don’t care about life. In a good way. And spending time in the company of those who don’t sweat the small stuff will definitely have an effect on you. You will soon learn to loosen your grip on what does and what doesn’t matter – and wrinkles at 25? Perhaps, but what can I do? And does it really matter? Life your life without vain anxieties.
One time, while watching a programme about water-skiing my Gran (who can’t swim, let me remind you, but went down various water slides on a holiday in Spain when I was 8) advised me to “try things” in life. “I wish I had done that,” she told me, pointing to the screen where a terrified looking woman was being prepared for her first water skiing adventure. “You should do that.” Umm, while I don’t think I will take up water skiing just yet I think I will take her words to heart. Don’t sweat the small stuff, listen to your elders and heed their advice.
Do something you love every weekend. It doesn’t have to cost loads of money. What do you love? How can you do this for as little cost as is possible? Fill your weekend with things you love; eating chocolates and staying in your pyjamas all day? Doing housework while blaring music full volume? Taking pictures of old couples sitting on benches in the park? And if something does cost you some money, don’t STRESS about it – just let it be. You can make more money but you cannot buy a new heart (which will be in the firing line if you stress any more.)
Remind yourself that being a person is hard and you’re doing a good job. You’re not a terrible person. You’re not doing everything wrong (I go through these paranoid trains of thoughts about 1000000 times a day.) You’re not letting everyone down. You’re not disappointing your parents – and if they’re not happy with you, don’t sweat it, they’ll get over it and if they don’t? Well it’s still not worth stressing out over.
Get professional help if it’s needed. There are some things that need a professional. There is a lot of negative association with therapists, but if they work for people – how can someone say that is a bad idea? I have no stigma or issue with therapists. They provide a service and the process of therapy can really heal people. A lot of creative people suffer with mental health issues and it’s no laughing matter. Get help if it’s what’s required.
Knit happens. Knitting and other crafty projects can be very relaxing. Take on something relatively simple, something that won’t annoy and frustrate you and call it your Stress-Free Challenge. Whenever you feel the stress building up, take out the crafty project and work on that.
Take a chill pill. For years many have told me to “take a chill pill” and although I hate the sentence and every other emotion it drums up, it’s still true. Take a chill pill. Cool off and forget about things that don’t matter. If someone is being an opinion pusher and it’s stressing you – so what? They won’t change their minds about their opinions just because you’re right – in their minds they’re eternally right. Let it be.
Take time for a break. You make time in your day to eat, to visit the toilet, to do the basics so you can make time for a proper break in the day. It’s also very, very, very important that once you complete a huge project or task that you take some time out after it’s completion, stand back and take a deep breath. Appreciate that the hard part is done and now you can relax…until the next big thing.
The best season of them all: Spring.
Camera Shy Photography: My name is Hillary Burkett and I live in Richmond VA with the company of 2 cats and a wonderful husband, who is incredibly supportive of my recent art pursuits.
I have a longstanding passion for photography and it has become my outlet. I am always aware and in awe of my surroundings. Nature and wildlife are my primary inspirations.
Beauty is all around us, and through photography, I desperately try to catch the uncatchable, tame the untamable, and box it all up neatly in a viewfinder for others to see and enjoy.
I am an explorer at heart and an artist by consequence.
Does your baby love balloons? Are they just spellbound by how they magically float over head. Unlike a ball, a balloon moves slowly, gently, perfect for little hands & eyes that want to bat that thing back up in the air. But there is a problem with balloons and babies. They are a choking hazard. They can pop and eject the latex into the mouth, blocking the airway.
I’m always anxious when babies & toddlers are around balloons. Of course my kids have all adored balloons to distraction. Even though I sometimes wonder if my own risk of heart attack from the stress of watching babies bite balloons is worse than the actual choking risk, I still cannot get over the fear and worry every time I see an infant bite a balloon. Makes my blood run cold!
Fortunately, there is a simple elegant solution for us all, from SDK Designs that brings balloons back into play. Fabric balloon slipcovers! These are so clever I do wish I’d thought of it myself. The balloon goes in, you blow it up, you slip the knotted end inside and you have an attractive, covered, and safe balloon for baby to bat at. Genius. It’s a neurotic mommy’s best friend and a great gift as well!