MissMalaprop.com is where modern handmade meets sustainable design. On my website, I spotlight the best in independent designers & artists, eco-friendly and sustainable products, New Orleans & Gulf Coast based businesses and issues, and people & organizations who are working to make the world a better place.
My own creations reflect those same principals. I began selling my creations under the name “dismantled designs” in 2004, after arriving home from a study abroad program in London where I saw the amazing artists at Portobello Market and where I was inspired to begin selling my own reconstructed clothing & accessories.
My designs are all one-of-a-kind, handmade and original. Most are made from used or vintage clothing, or remnant fabrics and trims. Each piece is meant to have a slightly unfinished, rough-hewn, well-loved look about it. I hope you enjoy!
The upcycled purse above is from Sparky Jones
Sometimes I get my greatest inspiration from other bloggers. This week was no exception – when I visited Going Home to Roost to see what Bonnie is up to these days I came across a post she had written recently on shopping ethically. I know this isn’t always the most popular topic, even amongst those of us in the handmade community, and I’m sensitive to that. At the same time it seems to me that the blogosphere is a great place for us to write about these types of things, and to learn from each other and share our thoughts openly. I hope that these virtual discussions can enlighten, encourage and challenge us. From week to week Bonnie gives us a glimpse into her world and shows us the joy that can come from living more harmoniously with the environment and exploring our creative passions.
Bonnie’s post on shopping ethically included a great checklist – questions that she asks herself before making a purchase:
– do i really need this?
– will i be able to use this for long time, then recycle it?
– how far did this have to travel to reach me?
– who made it and how were they treated?
– is it labeled honestly or with clever marketing?
Key rack above is from Half Pint Salvage
The issues surrounding these questions are actually what led me to blog in the first place, so reading them in point form on Bonnie’s site was refreshing. As my friends and family know – I love design, in any form – from a candy bar wrapper, to fashion, home décor and everything in between. But at some point I realized that my love of design and “things” was contributing to systems that reward unethical treatment of workers in foreign countries and hurting the environment.
Napkin holders above are from A Remark You Made
I can’t say that I’d give myself an A+ now as a conscious consumer, but I know over the last couple of years I have managed to reduce my consumption and now buy more goods that are made in ethical conditions. My heroes are the individuals who have really taken it to the next level, and I hope that these are areas I’ll personally continue to improve in.
iPad case from Chicken Willow
Today, inspired by this post, I’m taking my hat off to a few Etsy artists who do a wonderful job of upcycling and recycling. I hope you enjoy what I’ve found and as always I’d love to hear your thoughts on these issues!
My sister recently reentered the dating world and I found myself vicariously reliving her first kiss, first love, first embrace moments. And then I remembered the other firsts. The first fight, first awkward moment and the first heartbreak and realized I’m quite content to be her armchair guide to love. Her backseat romance driver.
And so I’ve compiled the best dating and marriage advice I can find via a selection of handmade gifts to give. Perhaps you have a friend or family member poised on the diving board and ready to plunge into the sometimes icy, sometimes refreshing dating pool too?
The best advice I could possible give anyone heading into potential coupledom is “You Must Be Present To Win”. Be your best self and get out there and try! The man or woman you are going to pair socks with for life isn’t going to walk into your living room. (Cable television doesn’t count.) Lulubug Jewelry (featured here and here) has cast that sentiment into a fine silver necklace on a drawn cable chain.
Sometimes the best counsel has been around for years, as is the case with Kurt Vonnegut (one of my favorite authors) and his quote, “There’s only one rule that I know of babies – God damn it you’ve got to be kind.” Captured by Ragamuffin Press on scrumptiously thick paper. Be kind to those you meet, date, and most of all to yourself.
MetalandMud has captured essential advice on simple, upcycled, white plates. The one I would share with my single friends is “Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” Let yourself flounder, grasp and stumble in the dark while you look for love. And when you find your mate you’ll see that you also found yourself a bit along the way.
And when you are ready to commit to your love, consider these wedding invitations created in the form of a vintage train ticket by LetterBoxInk. Because my dear, it’s going to be a ride. A beautiful, bumpy, roller coaster of a ride. Buy your ticket, climb aboard, hang on tight and enjoy.
Kiersten Essenpreis: I’m a freelance illustrator and gallery artist living/working in Brooklyn NY. I do work for various magazines, newspapers, and books as well as paintings for gallery shows around the world.
I decided to open my Etsy shop as an accessible alternative to the gallery scene.. a way to offer small, fun, and affordable pieces that anyone can own.
Patricia Woodhouse is the owner of Bead Obsessions, Old Town Alexandria’s first bead shop. She’s also been a designer and needlework artist for more than fifteen years. Although she has been making things her whole life, her journey towards bead obsession began in the early ’90s, when she took a class on knitting with beads.
She fell in love with the technique, and quickly became interested in all types of needlework and embroidery, but especially any that involved beading. She formed a beading group with women she met in class, and together they experimented with design, and shared techniques, stitches, and sources for the best materials.
Since learning how to weave and embroider with beads, Patricia has favored extremely detailed work featuring hundreds of seed beads. She compares seed beads in bead work to pixels in a photograph: the more per inch, the more vibrant and interesting the final image.
Patricia has never been interested in selling her work; embroidery and beading and all her needlework was only ever a hobby, but one she adored. However, in 2005 she became weary of working in an office, and frustrated with the frequent buyouts and uncertainty that went along with the corporate world. At the time, there was no other bead shop in Alexandria, Virginia, and Patricia saw her opportunity.
Bead Obsessions was opened in 2005, with the goal of catering to beaders like Patricia: artists who loved to focus on the details, and wanted to create complex, decorative arts pieces in addition to wearable jewelry and accessories.
In addition to a wide variety of seed beads, Patricia’s store stocks glass, lampwork, and semiprecious beads, craft and precious metal wire, plus all the tools, notions and books and magazines needed to create art with beads.
Bead Obsessions is also all about getting others obsessed with beads, and therefore there is a class going on nearly every day! Patricia teaches many of the classes herself, but also recruits locally and nationally famous bead artists to teach classes as well. The day I visited, bead artist Amy Katz was leading a small group in making a bracelet. The bracelet, an original design of Amy’s, features glass pearls and seemingly millions of seed beads. The technique uses a peyote stitch to create bezels around the pearls, and is incredibly labor-intensive, but produces incredibly gorgeous results.
The extensive class schedule includes sessions for all levels of beaders, and does not focus only on embroidery and needlework. You’ll also find classes on making chain maille, knotting and stringing beads, metal work, wire work, and wire crochet.
Bead Obsessions is located in Alexandria, Virginia at 619 South Washington Street, and is open six days a week.