I adore these handmade tiles which would look great on your wall alone or in a grouping.
soft stone bio: I am inspired with all aspects of nature. My work reflects my touch and recalls the complexity and beauty found in the natural world!
Shopping blog featuring products made by people not factories.
I remember collecting pieces of broken pottery when I was a little girl. Although I can’t remember whose partner in crime I was (was it you Nora?), I do recall that we had big plans for the colorful shards.
That’s the first thing I thought of when I saw the work of Stonehouse Studio.
Of course, looking closer it is obvious that these pieces are far more complex and layered, but the effect is reminiscent of something both found and wonderful.
Stonehouse Studio: I love the contrast between metal and polymer clay. Metal is bullied and cajoled into doing what you want by hammering, sawing and torching. Polymer, on the other hand, is the most cooperative, versatile and forgiving of mediums. As is so often true of opposites, the two work beautifully together.
My work is inspired by nature, which may seem strange since my primary medium is a synthetic clay. But the chameleon-like qualities of polymer clay allow for innumerable ways of bringing an artistic vision to life. My polymer work encompasses a variety of surface techniques, including alcohol inks, acrylic paints and image transfers altered with colored pencils. The end result is jewelry that is organic, simple and very wearable.
I hand fabricate all work in my Boston studio. If you’re in the area, see me almost every Sunday from May to October at the SOWA Open Market.
Andrea D’Ambrosia knows what she likes. As the designer behind her ever-evolving creative business, she knows that Washington, DC is the right place for her, and the right place for her designs. “DC style works for me,” she says. “Understated elegance, but with an element of drama.”
Andrea has always been creative, and grew up in a family of makers. Her father built motorcycles, her brother built radios, and she started sewing and knitting with her grandmother at age five. She was the “weird dresser” in high school who made her own clothes instead of flocking to the mall spots the other girls liked.
So when she decided to start her jewelry business full-time in 2006, she knew exactly the type of pieces she wanted to make: elegant items that were versatile and beautiful, but also completely functional.
Andrea’s favorite materials are semi-precious stones like jade, onyx, lapis, and turquoise. She especially loves to combine pearls with turquoise. She uses her favorites, along with whatever she finds that inspires her, to create jewelry that is timeless and sophisticated, never “crafty-craft” or trendy.
Her line is always evolving, because when inspiration strikes, she just goes with it. Andrea finds herself being inspired by fashion, art, music, and the personal style of her own customers. A customer once came to Andrea with a problem. She had an unusual, vintage jaguar pin that she loved, but didn’t want to just stick it on her lapel. She wanted a more modern way to wear it, and Andrea was struck with an idea.
Andrea created a necklace, using the jaguar pin as inspiration for its color and style…but also as the removable clasp of the necklace. This created a one-of-a-kind, versatile look that was really three looks in one! Her customer was delighted, and Andrea was inspired.
In addition to her usual favorite sources for new and vintage beads and stones, Andrea began collecting vintage brooches as well. This is the style that caught my eye and made me pay attention to Andrea’s work. I love the combination of new and old, and that such a simple piece can still be so dramatic, and so versatile.
The vintage brooch items are especially popular with brides, who are often looking for ways to incorporate family jewelry into their wedding looks. Andrea loves the fact that her necklace or bracelet is often the only item from the bride’s wedding day outfit that ever gets worn again!
Andrea loves to work with individual customers on unique looks for them. She has found that she is particularly good at understanding a client’s personal style, and translating that into wearable jewelry that is dramatic and elegant. One of her current projects really intrigued me: combining a customer’s antique cameo collection and a copper chain to create a one-of-a-kind necklace.
Necklaces and bracelets aren’t the only accessories that Andrea likes to make. She credits her professional background in engineering with her emphasis on functionality. Placing function on the same level as form and style naturally translates into a love of all accessories. What other way to make practical dressing exciting and interesting, if not with unusual accessories?
Her obi belts made from men’s neckties were born when she found a particular tie that she liked so much she wanted to wear it herself. She played with the concept for a while until she came up with the current design, just in time for wide belts to come back in style.
Will she continue to branch out into fabric accessories, or make more jewelry? “Who can say what will inspire me next?” she says. There are always ideas for elegant and versatile accessories floating around in her head. You can find Andrea’s work in her Etsy store and at local juried craft shows. You can also contact her for a private appointment or consulation.
One of the reasons I love to be a vendor at art and craft festivals, is the opportunity to meet the other vendors. People like me, people who like to make stuff. It’s even better when I somehow end up being at the same shows with the same people over and over again…it’s almost like having co-workers!
One such co-worker for me is Mu To-Sanguan, who has been my neighbor at at least four craft shows this year. She makes adorable clothes for kids and babies, featuring simple designs in bright colors, with a ton of personality.
Mu was inspired to start making things for kids while she was babysitting for friends one day. She took a look at the kids’ blanket, and thought: I could make something cuter than that.
Even though she studied applied physics and electrical engineering in college, she already knew that working in a corporate office was not for her. The opportunities for creative expression were few and far between. She was already a self-taught sewer, and so started experimenting with making cute little things for kids, and eventually Lil’ Fishy was born, in late 2003.
Mu likes to make things for kids, because she feels totally free to experiment with mixing colors and patterns. She has found that parents tend to be more adventurous with what they buy for their children, than what they pick for themselves. One of her most popular designs is the reversible jumper, which is a fun way to combine two or more fabrics into one, colorful garment.
Mu designs every item herself, and is inspired by the process of sourcing for fabric, when a certain color or group of colors will catch her eye. She’s also inspired by her Asian heritage, and is often drawn to motifs and images that suggest her background.
Everything at Lil’ Fishy is made by hand, including the silk screened images on the t-shirts and onesies, by Mu herself and her small group of helpers. The Lil’ Fishy collection is currently focused on clothes for kids and babies, but a few things for women have recently snuck into the line. Mu hopes to add a few items for men, as well as some pretty things for the home, in the new year.
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.