Gina Germ bio: Gina is entirely fascinated by animals –biology, behavior, ecology and history– and they provide the primary inspiration for her work, which includes observational sketches, commentary and portraiture. A self-taught artist, she has been painting for almost ten years, and drawing since she can remember. She works in acrylic, ink and spray paint.
Gina lives in Minneapolis with her husband, three year old son, and two kitties. She spends her days doing design and production on 4-color books, calendars, and marketing materials, and her evenings (after her son goes to bed) working in her coveted basement studio.
I wrote a few weeks back asking why you choose to shop handmade.
At the end of the day I know one thing that continually draws me back to sites like Etsy is the sheer variety that is available in some categories – above and beyond what you can find at any brick and mortar store.
What’s great about this is it means that you don’t have to be constrained to the current trends at the big box stores – particularly, if for whatever reason those trends don’t speak to you.
One category – that is often unsung but I think is a wonderful one? Pillows!
For those of you who sew, you probably make a lot of your own… But for those of us with no sewing machine – it’s nice to know all the variety that’s available right at our fingertips.
I know interior designers say that items like pillows should be the last thing you consider as you’re decorating – but I think it’s ok to consider them earlier on in the process as a means of gathering inspiration and also so you know what’s available generally. Sometimes knowing what accessories are available can help you see the big picture and can be key as you’re deciding about more important items like furniture and paint.
Burlap pillows have become very popular over the last little while – and this clever shop, Next Door to Heaven, allows you to customize your pillow with the word or destination you’d like.
Classic patterns in bold colors fill the be still shop – one of my personal favorites!
Nuka’s shop features a lot of adorable pillow covers including some with popular characters from Alice in Wonderland.
The pillow at the beginning of the post is from Home to Roost.
Andy Peutherer: I am a Scottish artist and Photographer. My landscape work featured here is based on the spectacular scenery of The Scottish western Isles, Scottish highlands and the Hebriden Islands such as The Isle of Skye, the Uists, Lewis and Harris. I have a great passion for the landscape and natural history of Scotland which has led me to attempt to capture the almost surreal elements of the Scottish landscape, weather and wildlife. My paintings are created with mixed media such as spray paint, acrylic, emulsion and ink which are used together with self taught techniques to illustrate the wild, unpredictable and spectacular nature of the land and sky. I strive to create images which have a more original style than traditional water colours and oils.
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 we were children, at one point or another, we always attempted to write on the wall. Most of us succeeded–much to the exasperation of our parents. If only they knew! One chalkboard paired with a few nontoxic chalkboard markers would have satisfied us for hours. I was an artsy kid, and that moose, painted by Houndstooth Design, is making my inner child squeal with glee. Josh runs Houndstooth Design from his St Cloud, MN home. He finds worn down toys, the sort most children would toss aside because of their chipped paint, and turns them into ethereal chameleons. You can leave notes on a pig in your kitchen or your kids can make a rainbow horse with non-toxic chalkboard markers. At the end of the day everything cleans up with a bit of soap and water.
Small spaces demand quite a bit from their dwellers. Every corner needs a purpose. “No wall left bare” was my motto when I moved into my first studio. Very often we overlook our walls when trying to figure out where to put all of our stuff. We buy boxes and baskets, maybe a few new shelves for the closet, but what about that 3’x3′ space on the kitchen wall?
Ken Rozema of KARoz Woodworking in Toronto, Canada builds these fantastic “Mail Message Centers”. I’m particularly fond of the chalkboard and corkboard combo. Sometimes a bit of paper stuck to a wall isn’t dynamic enough. Say it loud with a few bright colors or stick that very important receipt on the cork side. I’m always struggling with my mail (usually it ends up on the dining room table, after a 2-day layover in the living room) so a dedicated mail spot will help make it a one-way trip from the mailbox to the wall.
Speaking of kitchens, I’m sure you’ve got those random containers with random what-have-you stored inside them. I’ve tried label makers, but they look so boring, and the small font is hard to read. I like big, bold labels. The sort you can read from across the room, so there’s no question that yes, there is enough sugar for my husband to make me an apple pie this weekend.
Braden’s Grace Wall Art of St Augustine, USA makes peel-n-stick vinyl chalkboard labels. These little guys can be used indoors or outside, and can be transferred between surfaces with no messy glue or tape. A great solution for those random containers, be they in the kitchen, office, or playroom, that need a little bit of organizing to help make your life simpler.
Despite the magic of chalkboard, there’s really no mystery to it. Chalkboard paint can be bought at any hardware store, and almost anything can be painted with it. You apply it like any other paint. First goes down a primer and then the chalkboard paint. The best part is that it’s non-destructive. When your kids are grown and you don’t need that black chalkboard wall anymore it’s easy to prime and paint over it. However, most of these paints may have varying levels of toxicity. Carefully read the warnings on the side of the box.
There are companies that sell non-toxic chalkboard paint. Hocusadabra in Hong Kong is committed to selling non-toxic child friendly products, including chalkboard paint. Hocusadabra supports independent artists from around the world, and is opposed to BPA in children’s products. In a world where craft supplies tend to get made cheap, easy and chemically they’re doing their best to offer non-toxic alternatives.
In case you were wondering, chalkboard paint does come in different colors. Black is the easiest one to find in hardware stores, but I think it’d be pretty snazzy to have a cobalt blue or cherry red board hanging in my living room.