Kanokwalee Designs: I am a full time in-house graphic designer by trade and a crocheter every chance I get. My work is clean and simple, uncomplicated in appearance and, yes, can be very graphic.
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.
Print above is from The Big Harumph
As I write this, the New Year is just days away… Every year for as many years as I can remember I have had more resolutions than I could count: Eat less candy, workout more, save more money, be more tidy, and on and on the list goes. How about you? What kind of resolutions do you set each year?
This year I won’t set a single resolution. It’s not that I don’t think resolutions are valuable, I know they are! For me they’ve never lasted long, but I’m still glad that I kept each one for a week or two or three.
Image above is from The Wheatfield
This year I’m allowing myself to dream new dreams. Always a pragmatist, I’ll let you know that this is because I feel the time is right for me to try different things and to redefine what I value and what I would like my future to look like. So this means shifting my work focus, and spending more time doing things I love: decorating our family home, hiking, and hanging out with family and friends. It sounds simple, but something in me knows that this will fuel my creativity and my perspective.
Life’s disappointments often ask us to become jaded and to be fearful of trying new things. We so easily tell ourselves that we cannot accomplish the wonderful things we would like to do. This will be a year where my own voice grows stronger and as I work and rest and play I will remind myself that with diligence and persistence that I can accomplish new things.
Image above is from Valentina Design
I have heard experts suggest every year as we set resolutions that we be careful not to set too many, that we write them down and revisit them weekly. I am certain this is good advice, but this year – I’m choosing to dream and to believe that I will find growth both personally and artistically and that my life will continue to spring forth more beautifully than each year before it.
I want to hear your dreams and resolutions for the year ahead of us. It’s the perfect time of year for us to sweep away old disappointments and to look ahead with expectation!
“Long Road Trip” print by Donna McKenzie
By the time you read this, I’ll be back from my annual mini-vacation to rural Saskatchewan; back to the world of traffic and computers; back to waking to an alarm-clock instead of the call and answer of the owls. I don’t know how long I’ll stick around, though; I spend most summers gripped by wanderlust and have already started planning our next adventure. For the next three weeks my articles will all be road-trip related and full of tips to keep your travels economical and eco-friendly. So, buckle your seatbelts and get ready to hit the (green) highway!
Before you set off, take the time to get your vehicle in good shape. Not only will you have a safer journey, you’ll save gas AND money! Ensure your engine is properly tuned and maintained, check your oil, spark plugs, oxygen sensors, air filters, hoses and belts, and make any necessary repairs and adjustments before embarking on your adventure. Be sure, as well, to have your wheels aligned and keep your tires properly inflated; low tire pressure is not only a safety hazard, it wastes gasoline. Fact: you can actually increase your car’s gas mileage by over 3% just by properly inflating the tires! (See your owner’s manual for your vehicle’s recommended tire-inflation.) Upcycled Volvo spark plug keychain, pictured above, by Brown Dog Welding.
Setting off into unknown territory can turn any journey into an adventure. Getting lost, however, can take the fun out of the trip as soon as you realize that you are going many, many kilometres out of your way. A satellite navigation system is a great way to stay on-course, but I have heard many stories of GPS units directing drivers into cornfields and up long-abandoned roads, so pack “old fashioned” maps just in case. The wood and upcycled map bangle bracelets, pictured above, were made by San Francisco’s Squishy Sushi.
In order to avoid wasting precious gas and time, try to plan your route well in advance. There are a number of web-based trip planners that you can use to make the most of your journey. I like http://www.freetrip.com/ and good ol’ Google Maps. Or, if you are a member of an auto club, you can let them do your planning for you! AAA and CAA also provide their members with free maps and travel guides. Are we there yet? Repurposed plastic and map luggage tags, pictured above, by Marmalime.
In addition to planning your routes, pre-planning your stops can help keep everyone in the car happy-go-lucky, too. Being spontaneous is fun, yes, but have you ever driven an extra-hour for an impromptu treat and arrived only to find that a much-hyped ice-cream shop is inexplicably closed? Trust me; it’s an instant joy-kill. It’s also a good idea to call ahead to your destinations to check operating hours, etc. Check out the fun and guaranteed melt-free, upcycled wood neopolitan “ice cream treats” by Rekindled Cottage, pictured above.
Next week: we head out on the highway!
I’m a full-time vancouver plus size fashion designer, though I do seem to be making more and more things for smaller girls too lately ! Currently, my clothes (sizes 4-22) sell at Planet Claire in vancouver (212 Abbott st. in gastown) Each piece is handmade by me! <3 Jane Bonbon