Tim’s Sally: Painting for me, is a nostalgic descent back to my childhood – a time when dolls were a huge part of my life. Today is not altogether different. I think of my paintings as play sets where I dress my dolls up and create their own environment. Sometimes this “land” is a sweet setting of animals, nature, and innate innocence while others are captivated by a mysterious engulfing darkness. I can relate.
Memories of playtime and my special collection of “neat stuff” that I kept in a wooden trunk made specially for me by my uncle were treasures to me. Baby doll heads, vintage dolls, sweet scents of everything yummy are areas of great inspiration. Artists such as Mark Ryden, Joe Sorren, and Casey O’Connell also capture my heart with a sweet tenderness encompassing subtle moments of time we all would like to revisit; a dream state so unique one could only wish to take part.
Carlee has lived in Phoenixville, PA, for about 25 years. Phoenixville is about 5 miles from Valley Forge National Historical Park and the area is mostly country, with a few small villages nearby. Carlee and her husband have been married for 54 wonderful years! They have 2 grown children and 3 grandsons, 9, 11, and 15. “They are practically perfect in every way!!!“, she says.
Carlee describes herself as a happy person who does not like to be idle. She loves jazz music, The Manhattan Transfer group, Harry Connick, and her grandchildren. Carlee says, “Most people don’t know that if I had it to do over, I would love to be a criminologist or a TV cameraman. Crime and lawyer type shows are my favorites.” Be sure to check out all her work at Carleeglass.
I have heard that for every 10,000 three-leaf clovers, there is only one with four leaves. No wonder it’s so hard to find one! Still, when you get the chance, who can resist searching to find the one that is guaranteed* to bring a little luck? If nothing else, the tiny thrill that comes with plucking one from amidst a tangle of green leaves and stems is worth the time spent looking.
That’s exactly how I feel about shopping for handmade goods; especially those of the recycled/upcycled variety. Once I started buying one-of-a-kind items, I was no longer content to browse the racks and racks of identical stock at the local big-box store. I’m unique, so why should I settle for anything ordinary? It never fails – every time I discover a fabulous new find, I can’t help but feel grateful and lucky that there are clever people out there putting out their amazing wares just for me…ok, and you, too. I’m always willing to share.
You might have to fight me for this bag, though. Designed by Karen Meyers, this gorgeous little bag (above) was born from a handknit wool sweater that had fallen prey to a hungry moth or two. Karen, a finalist in the 2007 Independent Handbag Designer Awards and busy mother of two, saw the potential, added some trims from her stash, and turned the old sweater into a beautiful, functional accessory. The decorative clover button was added for a little bit o’ luck.
Another great find is this fabulous belt buckle (above) by Amanda of Vintage in Retrospect. Upcycled from a discarded Oklahoma license plate, it’s a perfect example of the kind of cool stuff that you can only get from someone who is both creative and unafraid to hop into a dumpster or two. Aren’t we lucky to have brave gals like Amanda willing to take the plunge, so to speak, for us?
The statement “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” is becoming so cliché, but amazing made-from-trash items like this shamrock from Jong Jong Boutique are truly to be treasured. The self-taught multi-media artist behind the piece (above), is known for her passion for upcycling; so much so that friends and relatives will often leave their recyclables on her doorstep, rather than at the curb. It takes more than good fortune to turn a pile of soda cans and some salvaged copper wire into something this lovely, though; it takes a whole lot of creativity, skill and patience. The luck comes to the person who gets to enjoy the finished product day after day.
Sometimes, though, luck can be elusive and there are “those days” when you just can’t catch a break. This silver pendant (above) by Beads in the Belfry is perfect for those of us who sometimes get passed over by Lady Luck. Legend has it that the four leaves on the clover represent hope, faith, love and luck. In the case of this “almost four leaf clover“, I guess three out of four ain’t bad.
* Disclaimer: the author and tryhandmade.com cannot guarantee luck, unforeseen fortune or sudden windfalls. But, don’t let that stop you from trying.
The holidays are right around the corner and it’s time to pull out the holiday decorations. Every year, I pick a new color theme for my Christmas tree and hand make the garland and a few ornaments for it. This year, I decided on a purple and silver theme, with just a little bit of red. I want to the tree to have a handmade feel to it, but with a little bit of sparkle. But glitter isn’t just for decorating, it’s also a great addition to your holiday wardrobe.
Sparkling dresses are the perfect way to make a splash at holiday dinner parties and celebrations. This mini dress by KaliOseano has just the right amount of shine and flair. With layers of fringe and a definitive flapper feel, this dress would be perfect with a pair of patterned tights, layered long necklaces and simple heels.
When you want to add a little bit of sparkle to your outfit, shoe clips are a quick and easy way to make a big impact and still look sophisticated. These white glitter tulle clips with silver polka dots by Mari et Femme Bridal would be a great addition to a holiday outfit and the perfect stocking stuffer for a fashionable family member or friend.
If your personal style is more low key, you can still add a bit of shine to your outfit without necessarily drawing a lot of attention to your clothes. This stylish triangle shawl by pak yumak is the perfect shade of gold. It would look stunning over a simple black dress and closed with a brooch.
While my tree is dressed with glitter this holiday season, I will be too. I’ll be wrapped in silver with touches of gold, and, hopefully, at an equally glamorous party.
The beautiful photo featured at the top of this post was taken by Jill Katherine.
Allison Taylor’s story as a crafter begins in a familiar way: she first learned to crochet at her grandmother’s knee at the tender age of six.
Despite her grandmother’s considerable skill as a fiber artist, not to mention her infinite patience, crocheting didn’t quite stick with Allison that first time around. Six year olds aren’t famous for their attention spans, so it’s not really that surprising!
It wasn’t until much later when Allison was a college student that she picked up crochet hooks and some yarn again. Although she had never gotten into the knitting, crocheting, sewing, and other fiber arts that her grandmother had mastered, Allison had always admired her grandmother’s talent and skill with needles, yarn, and fabric.
When her grandmother became ill and was no longer physically able to craft, due to side effects of a stroke, Allison was inspired once again to take up the craft she had not been able to master as a little girl.
She made her grandmother a blanket, to show her how much she appreciated her, and how impressed she had always been with her fiber skills. Blankets are still Allison’s favorite thing to make, and friends and family can count on one for a gift whenever there’s a wedding or baby on the way.
Allison was “hooked” on crochet from then on, and turned her hobby into a side business with her Etsy shop that opened in 2008. Although she has a day job unrelated to crafting, it in no way diminishes her fierce love for making.
The best part for Allison is having strangers own something she made with her own hands: “It’s a way of sharing something tangible with people across long spaces, which is so rare,” she says. “It’s really exciting and touching, and I never get over it.”
She also feels a connection to her grandmother every time she picks up her crochet hook, another feeling many crafters can relate to. The emotional connection associated with creating and sharing handmade goods is probably one of the big reasons handmade is so popular these days.
The most popular item in Allison’s shop is the best friends beanie, which also happens to be her favorite thing to make for the shop! Customers also respond well to her continuum scarves and continuum collars, with their unusual shape.
Like most of her creations, Allison let the continuum scarf emerge on its own, without too much planning ahead from her. Her general technique is to pick up her crochet hook and yarn, and experiment with different stitches until something she loves emerges.
You can find Allison’s crocheted gems in her online shop. If you see something you like but are fixated on a certain color, don’t worry because Allison loves to do custom work!