Sunflower Hooked Pillow
Get the cottage ready! Or the sun porch. Or your favorite reading chair. This primitive style hand hooked pillow will brighten your home on even a rainy day. I used a variety of different width wool strips to make this, giving it some great visual interest. I love the… details »
Lemon Blueberry Tart Charm
100% handmade miniature fruit tart charm. Atop the pastry shell sits a delicious assortment of lemons and blueberries! YUM!
Reversible Baby Bib
This reversible baby bib can used as a feeding and dooler bib. It is handmade in two corridinating Amy Butler cotton prints with matching cotton bias piping. The riboon closure insures that it will fit for a long time, from infant to toddler years. details »
I first met the gutsy Emily (and her gorgeous gEMs) about a year ago and I have been a die-hard fan ever-since. For those who have yet to discover the EmmsgEMs shop, allow me to introduce you. Winnipegger Emily designs pieces that are colourful, timeless, funky and fun. Always on-trend, the collection is constantly growing with casually-elegant, easy-to-wear earrings, necklaces and bracelets.
In the interest of full-disclosure, I should mention that I came home last Thursday evening and found a flat of petunias on my doorstep. They weren’t put there by a secret admirer, or mysterious garden-fairy, but were dispatched by the lovely (and generous) Emily and delivered by her wonderful hubby. The gesture, while much-appreciated, had nothing to do with this week’s feature on Emily and her shop, EmmsgEMs. No, the gems in Em’s shop stand on their own merit; especially the gorgeous new “eco-collection”, which has me all a-flutter. I had the opportunity to feature one of Emily’s coconut shell pieces in an earlier post, as some of you may remember, and couldn’t wait to shine the spotlight on her again. Needless to say, I was thrilled when Emily agreed to an interview…
My creative mind is in hyper-drive – which is detrimental to my health.
You have new, eco-fabulous materials in your shop! What’s the scoop?
I stumbled in to eco-fabulous by accident. (eco-fabulous – I love that!) By that, I mean that I didn’t just decide one day that I wanted to create jewelry that uses sustainable and recycled materials. I purchase beads that I love – and it all started with coconut. Discovering coconut beads in my collection, along with Buri nut beads, I did some research, and discovered that beads derived from nuts and seeds are sustainable – no trees are harmed. I’ve been using these ingredients for over a decade! How cool and green is that?! Some of my other “green” ingredients include paper, recycled glass, and various nuts-seeds from Peru (picked up by a good friend who was traveling the world).
I love the new pieces. You have such a distinctive style (there’s no doubt that these are “gEMs”); were there any challenges in introducing/integrating the new materials, while keeping with the EmmsgEMs “look”?
I like to put elements together that you wouldn’t normally expect to be paired – like paper and glass – and I don’t like to over-do a piece. The bead is the star – second to the person wearing the jewelry.
Is there a learning curve in working with new beads?
Test the bead holes before beginning the task of stringing! And don’t expect two identical pieces! Oh – and a bead reamer might be good to have – I have pricked myself many times using a short straight pin to clean out holes!
To me, the beauty of recycled materials lies in the imperfections. What is it for you?
Colour and texture (both visual and tactile) are what draw me to a specific bead. I’m a “bead grabber” when shopping; I don’t set out to buy beads that match. Nature is full of these elements!
What has been the response to the new “eco-collection”?
I was recently selected as an “Etsy Find”! And, I’m here! This is the big time!
What are your favourite pieces?
Seriously? I have a difficult time parting with ALL of my pieces, but I’m really enjoying my front toggle necklaces and my red Bahay seed earrings.
I never see you mention “limited mobility” in your product descriptions, yet your pieces all seem to be made for easy-use/wearability (slip on necklaces and bracelets, big toggles, etc). As someone who has MS, do you design with this specifically in mind?
Thanks for the idea! I often tag my slip on necklaces as “easy-on” – once I realized that it was an additional benefit to what was originally my “metal free” line of jewelry. I struggle with fatigue, and just because I’ve given up wearing make-up to save energy, it takes a lot less effort to compliment my outside-self with a great stretch bracelet!
Generally speaking, do you think jewelry designers are getting better in terms of universal design?
I don’t know what other jewelry designers are doing – but it’s a great idea.
Tell me something good.
It’s baseball season in Winnipeg!
As I was perusing all of the beautiful handmade things on Etsy, as I often do, I stumbled across a unique little shop by the name of NottyPooch. Huey and Wah of Penang, Malaysia are the creators of these organizational products made entirely from recycled billboard banners for an eco-friendly, interesting look. Each piece is different from the next with variation in color, pattern, and age.
This creative team assembles a wide range of products from these bright and colorful billboard banners. Check out these one of a kind storage bins! Use them to stash movies (they fit up to ten DVD cases!), video games, books, or a variety of other knick knacks in your workspace or in your home. Their products are also waterproof, so you can even use them in your kitchen or bathroom to organize supplies or toiletries.
Add a little spice to any space with these colorful handmade planters. They allow for drainage so that your plants stay nice and healthy and would be suitable as accent decor in any room of your home. Place one on a side table, in the kitchen, or on your balcony to add a little interest to your space. These planters can even be hung for an even more exciting look.
In addition to the products mentioned above, NottyPooch also creates laptop sleeves, journals, beverage coasters and wallets from these recycled banners. Keep your valuables safe when you’re on the go with one of these creative laptop sleeves, complete with a soft inner lining.
Find these and more of their amazing work in their shop: NottyPooch
“The Moustache Merchant” archival art print by Penelope and Pip
At first, it was easy to ignore; but, as November started to take on steam, I began to notice that several of my male acquaintances, including my fella, had curious, patchy bits of stubble gracing the usually-smooth area above their upper lips. One or two lapses in grooming would probably have gone unnoticed, but this was starting to look like a facial hair conspiracy!
Support your ‘stache! Weather-proof moustache wax in scented or natural by Mans Face Stuff of Portland, OR
Upon further investigation, I discovered that my friends were taking part in a global follicular fund-raising effort called Movember. To show their support for prostate cancer awareness, all that they had to do was make a commitment to grow a moustache for 30 days and encourage their friends, family and coworkers to donate to the cause and (literally) change the face of men’s health.
Modern, organic moustache teething toy (above), handmade from hardwood by Little Alouette
Movember was started in 2003 by a group of friends in Melbourne. While talking over a few pints in a pub, the “Mo Bros”, as they’ve become known, decided to bring back the ‘stache and do something for men’s heath. Although there was no money raised that year, the 2004 event attracted over 400 participants and raised an impressive $55,000 for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia.
Moustache necklace (above), hand-cut from recycled leather by Crooked Sister
Since then, the movement has ballooned to a quarter of a million moustachioed participants and over a million donors. In 2009 alone, $47,000,000 was raised for the global beneficiary partners. I was proud to hear that Canada’s campaign was the second largest (after Australia), raising close to $8 million for Prostate Cancer Canada.
Hand-thrown porcelain dog bowl by Julia Custer at Handmade Green
How can you participate? Well, for some of us (ahem) it is physically impossible to grow a Selleck-worthy Movember moustache of our own, but we can get in on the fun by cheering on the participants, making a donation, hosting or attending a Movember party or event and sporting a faux-stache as a symbol of solidarity.
Cozy, unisex fleece neckwarmer with leather moustache by Ha Ha Bird
As you can see by the fabulous, handmade goods in this article, there is a handlebar for every member of the family…even Fido. And, to help clean things up on December 1st (once the “after” pictures have been taken, of course), I’ve included a luxurious, organic shaving cream.
When it’s time to say “goodbye”…Organic cedarwood and orange shaving cream in recycled glass bottle by Twig & Leaf Botanicals
For more information on Movember, or to donate, please visit the global Movember site and choose your region.
Alexandra Ferguson lives in New York with her little cat named Jasper, who is covered mostly in downy, soft under-fur and has long handsome legs. She includes her upstairs friend, Catrina, and her 1-year-old daughter, Hannah, as her family and they eat dinner together more than they don’t. Alexandra describes herself as a workaholic who loves to drive with the top down on the west side in the summer, go on dinner dates with her boyfriend, and have a strong cup of coffee in the morning and a good cup of wine in the evening. She no longer sews in her pajamas and has graduated to a nice pair of sweatpants, which she likes to pair with a cashmere sweater so she can feel and look smart. And depending on her mood, she’ll be listening to either cheesy pop or melancholy folk music while she works.
Do you work at home?
I live in a loft apartment that used to be a department store. It has soaring 16 foot ceilings, which makes such a huge difference. I’ll go to someone else’s apartment that is the same square footage with regular height ceilings and I can’t believe how much smaller it feels. I have the original hard wood floors from the department store days and exposed concrete beam ceilings which gives it a gritty look, but then a modern kitchen and a marble bath which makes it comfortable. It’s a great backdrop inspiration for my work.
My place is a 1/2 mile away from my mom’s where I grew up in lower Westchester. When I was 6, we lived in France for a year, but beyond that I have always lived in NY. I even went to college in the city. Sometimes I wish I could be a bit more nomadic, but if you have spent your life moving within a 30 mile radius, you start to give up on the fantasy of picking up and moving to LA. This is where I belong.
How long have you been creating pillows? How did you get started?
I started making pillows as a gift for Catrina’s birthday this past November. Since Christmas was around the corner, I kept going and everyone got pillows for the holidays. Then I was done with my annual crafting. For about a week. Then Catrina’s sister, Kim, came round and saw the original pillows I made for her and told me about Etsy. The shop went live in the middle of January. And it has been a whirlwind since.
Do you sew other items?
I am game to sew anything so long as it is for the home. I am looking to expand the line into tote bags and pouches too. My project for just this morning actually is to make wall art, which will be the same thing as making a pillow but then we will staple it around a canvas frame instead of set a zipper. I’m really excited. I will not sew clothes.
Tell us about your daytime job.
My career has been in the fashion industry as a technical designer and as a studio manager. I worked for Rebecca Taylor and Zac Posen, and now I am freelancing a couple of days a week for a Kohl’s licensee company. It’s great because I have now worked on lines from the Wal-mart level right up to designer couture. A lot of my experiences working for these houses has been really useful as I start my own line. If you can develop and manufacture a dress, you can certainly do it for a pillow. Fashion is a really intense industry. This past February was the first season in a long long time that I wasn’t putting on a runway show. It was such an amazing feeling to be able to walk past the tents and Bryant Park and not be overcome with dread and exhaustion. But now I work 7 days a week until 2 am for my own line, so I am back on runway schedule again. But it doesn’t hurt nearly as much when you are working for yourself.
Where do you get your materials?
I get everything online. It is so much cheaper, and it saves trips around town.
How much of your materials are recycled? Why do you use them?
The felt that I use is 100% recycled from post-consumer water bottles. There is a neat show about it from the history channel. You can
It is such a great material to work with. The quality of the felt is really good and surprisingly soft. It is a great added bonus that it happens to be totally eco-friendly to boot.
I am doing research now to find an eco-friendly pillow insert too. For now I want to make my work accessible and affordable to most people so I use a polyfill insert, but I would like to offer the option of an eco insert too.
Where do you get your ideas?
Everywhere! I have to keep long lists because I can’t sew fast enough. I have some beautiful photography books of flowers that I like to reference sometimes, and always keep an ear out for song lyrics that might be funny on a pillow. Friends help out too. Its a good lunch time game with your colleagues–what would you put on a pillow?
Do you do other kinds of crafts? How long have you been making jewelry?
I made jewelry a couple of years ago and if Etsy had been around then who knows what path my life would have taken! I had no selling outlet at the time, so I made as much as I could until I was broke and then I got a job. I feel like the jewelry market right now is pretty saturated though, so once I sell through my current inventory I think I will call it a day.
One hobby that I have had since I was a tot was painting. Right now I am into acrylics. I have been working on a 15 foot mural in my kitchen for about 2 years. It’s a rolling kaleidescope landscape populated with little fantasy creatures. It’s great because it will never be done, I can always move someone else in. I have also done portraits of Jasper and my fish George, and my mom’s dog Hugo. I’m really into Egrets as well, there are a couple of those around the house. I am running out of wall space. Good thing I took a break to make pillows. But now that I am going to hang the pillow designs on the wall? Back to square one.
What do you see yourself doing in 5 years?
Running my company! Maybe when the company grows and I can afford employees, I can work less than 90 hours a week. But I am starting to doubt that I will be able to stop.