Friday, July 31, 2009

Inspired Image: Cara of Little Pretties

Hello, my name is
Cara Veeder of Little Pretties

You can find me at (until I get my website up, which will hopefully be really soon!)

This image comes from Picnic by Ellie's photostream on

It inspires me because I've always loved children's book illustrations from the 50s and 60s. Though I grew up as a child of the 80s, my parents used to read me books from THEIR childhoods, so the vintage illustrations are nostalgic for me and hold a special place in my heart!

I particularly love the bright candy colors (and the cute little bunny in the bottom left corner!)

It makes me feel happy and young at heart.

The 3 words it conjures up are bright, playful, timeless

Cara will be one of the very talented people helping out at the Des Moines Swap-O-Rama-Rama tomorrow, a clothing swap and day of workshops being held over at the Des Moines Social Club. A bunch of my favorite local crafty people will be there as well (and they have 250 copies of the hot-off-the-presses issue of ReadyMade to give out!) so I'm going to try to stop by. But most of the day I'll be playing shop girl at Ephemera Stationary Studio, watching the shop while the owners are on vacation—so I'll report back on Monday on how my retail experience goes! Have a great one and check out two earring designs from Cara below!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Q&A: Holly of Zes Tee Fashion

Today's Q&A with Holly of Zes Tee Fashion comes all the way from New Zealand and I think gives a nice glimpse into the creative world happening on the other side of the world. And quickly, before I forget, I was featured on Eye Spy the Universe yesterday, doing her 20 Questions feature. If you want to know more about me (or just check out her great blog!) head on over there! Okay, here's Holly!

Where do you live?
I live in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Tell me a little bit about what you make.
I make one-of-a-kind jewelry made with non-traditional materials from the hardware store, such as washers, nuts, and other interesting items. I also design printed T-shirts, including eco-friendly organic cotton and Bamboo.

How did you decide to start your line?
I was exposed to the world of art from an early age. I grew up with a passion for design after being inspired by my father`s art creations which included painting, ceramic, stained glass and jewelry making. I began painting and took regular courses at the local art studio. I continued to design as a hobby and after working for a short time as lawyer, I immigrated to New Zealand in 2003 and resided in Christchurch. While I was working in the marketing field in New Zealand, I took a business management course. After finishing it, I decided that it was time to follow my original dream and pursue my love of art. I decided to take a leadership of my life and to start my own business and translate my designs into wearable art.

Is this your full-time work?
Yes. Marketing my online shop and doing all the creative work requires me to be involved in the business full-time.

Where do you get your washers and nuts and why do you enjoy working with hardware?
I buy the hardware pieces from a big hardware store close to where I live. I also found a huge warehouse in town that sells fastening items in a wider range than the local hardware store, so I buy there as well.
I love making hardware jewelry because there are a big variety of hardware items that enable me to be creative and original in my work. I like making unique jewelry that no one else has. It’s something different that makes you stand out from the crowd. I like taking “ordinary” and “simple” items such as hardware, and take them to a different direction. Not many people think you can wear hardware bits and pieces around your neck, but I love to prove them that you can
create from hardware something beautiful to wear.

What sets the New Zealand handmade movement apart from the one in the US?
I have found out that in the US there are a lot more forums and communities that give a place to artists to share their work with eachother, it’s more organized. This is a result of the US being a much larger place than New Zealand…

How does your creative process work?
All my T-shirts are printed in New Zealand using the latest cutting edge printing technology that is called “DTG” – Direct to Garment, which uses environmentally-friendly water-based inks. My printer lives not far away from where I live, and this enables me to work closely with him and not in a remote control. All the jewelry is done by me and each piece is one-of-a-kind, so one can rest assured that no one else will have the same item.

What's your current favorite color combination?
When doing hardware jewelry I discovered the color combination of silver and gold together in one piece. Each colour enhances the other and gives more interest to the jewelry. In my T-shirt I like mostly the pastel range of the short sleeve V neck. It looks great on anyone.

What's the best part of your day?
The best part of my day is when I do my creations. It can be in any part of the day, but usually I do the creative work in the afternoon. This is what I love to do most, and it gives me a lot of pleasure.

What do you like to do when you're not working on your creations?
I love painting. In the past I used to paint mainly still life and landscapes, but here in New Zealand I started practicing more abstract painting which allows me more freedom and releases my imagination. Now my walls at home are getting filled with my paintings.

Do you have a favorite product in your shop right now?
I love equally both my jewelry line and printed T-shirt line. They are different from each other, and enable me to develop different aspects in my creativity.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

V's Wedding: Welcome Bags and Favors

As I have probably mentioned, my friends Virginia and Dan threw a very personalized wedding. They set their own rules, customized their day, and tried to make sure that the components of the event felt personalized. They had guests coming from all over the country (with a large contingent coming in from the Midwest) to their Connecticut wedding, so they wanted to make sure that each guest felt personally welcomed. We assembled these bags on the Thursday leading up their wedding in late June and filled them with a local specialty, fudge from the Guilford Village Chocolatier, and a perennial favorite, champagne (with two plastic flutes). We kept things simple and added a simple embellishment of paper lace ribbon to a kraft paper bag, then fluffed out a bit of tissue for the top. As someone who got one of the bags, I can vouch that the treats were very much appreciated!

One of the other projects we did—the most labor intensive by far—was to make these British style crackers that went on each place setting. Crackers are traditionally used on holidays as a sort of a toast. Guests all link hands (crossing their own arms in front of them, holding one end of their cracker in one hand, and the end of their neighbors in the other) and pull very hard as they are told to. Paper, ribbons and trinkets inside fly all about, which is fun in itself! But then you also get a paper crown to wear, which is my favorite part.

Virginia's mom side of the family is British, so crackers have always been part of celebrations in their house and she and Dan thought it would be a nice way to bring a hint of that heritage to CT. Plus, they knew it would be fun, and awesome to have their wedding guests sporting paper crowns (which we all did—more pictures coming soon, I promise!).

But the assembly of the crowns was involved and while I was skeptical (I hadn't realized how involved they were to make until I actually sat down to figure them out by taking a part a Christmas cracker) that we'd be able to make them look entirely professional, I actually think that we did a wonderful job.

Here you can see some of the components—the crowns, the thank you cartoon that went inside of each one that also told the guests where a donation had been made in their honor, over 300 cardboard squares which made up the crackers themselves, and ribbon for each end.

We wrapped them in kraft paper, added a length of paper lace and stamped a small label with "surprise inside". It was a very successful project that truly helped make the wedding unique. I will be sharing 3 more wedding posts when I get my hands on the professional pictures that were taken—so you can expect to see more about the flowers and centerpieces, the decor, info on the delicious local meal, and probably a picture or two of the happy couple so you can see what they were wearing!

P.S. I'm not including instructions here for how exactly we made the crackers because I don't expect many of you to attempt this. But, if you do want to know how, email me and I'll be happy to help!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Instant Heirloom: Made by Mosey

I am in love with these mobiles. Each is made by Melbourne-based Madeline, mother of two and as she says it, "expert in all things soft, cute and cuddly". No two of her creations are ever the same.

She sells these mobiles in various colors in her etsy shop, along with buntings (many of which are made with vintage fabrics) and baby quilts.

This mobile would only be for a child with a naturally cheerful disposition, or perhaps one that lived in a very sunny place to start to teach him what clouds look like!

And here are two more of my favorite mobiles of hers filled with floating butterflies. I have two baby showers coming up and while my first instinct is to try to make something, I'm honestly not sure whether I have time to start another crafting project (am currently trying to finish two quilts!), even though I'd love to make one of these. Which means Madeline might be sending some of her mobiles to the States!

Also you might have noticed that I have a new blog header. I thought that it was time to change things up and try something with a little less pattern. The fabric that I sewed the name onto is one of my favorites, a purchase from Purl Patchwork back before I left NYC. What do you guys think? Do we like it? I know that the bottom of it is a little wrinkled, but I'm inclined to go with it since this is a place all about making things ourselves, and the feeling of imperfectly perfect seems to fit. But I'd love to hear your feedback to get a sense of whether it appeals to you as well!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Wheat Bread, Spelt Crackers, Peach Crisp and More!

Last week I was out of town on business (and a bit of pleasure at the shore) and by the time I got home on Thursday evening, all I wanted was a homemade meal in my own kitchen. Which, by Saturday morning became the perfect excuse to spend a few hours making all sorts of lovely things! Above and below is the whole grain bread that I made, it's the regular, 10 minutes of kneading kind, the kind that requires two risings, the kind that is so addictive that I had to put half of the loaf into the freezer so that I don't eat it for every meal. My first slice I ate with goat cheese and honey.
There's the full boule, though I started cutting it before I remembered I needed to take a picture! Nice and rustic I think.

This was a peach crisp-esque dessert that I made with some of the large quantity of peaches I bought at the farmers market. I based it off of this Peach and Plum Crisp recipe, but I halved it since I made a little one. (Heidi's image of the dessert is way better than mine!). I had it for dessert last night and just ate it with plain yogurt for breakfast. It's not that sweet and I actually reduced the amount of sugar added to the fruit because I knew that the peaches were super sweet. And there is yogurt in the topping, rather than using a stick of butter, which was a nice healthy twist.
Granola, which is plain maple and coconut, though I did add in a cup of 7 grain cereal which makes it crunchier than usual.

Here's what I'll be eating for lunch a few days this week: a wheatberry (my current favorite grain) salad with roasted zucchini (regular and patty pan) with parsley and pecorino. The dressing is the juice and zest of one lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper. I would have added a shallot if I'd had one, but it turned out pretty great without it.

And finally some Spelt Crackers. I went to Target the other night to pick up a few things and I was standing in the cracker/granola bar aisle about to buy a few boxes when I thought, wait, I know how to make perfectly good crackers. Why don't I save the money and do it myself with the ingredients in my kitchen? So I did. I will be tackling granola bars next weekend!

The rest of my weekend was filled with riding my bike, doing yoga, finishing up my new blog header (which I'll post soon!), and enjoying the lovely weather. I even spent a few hours watching lightning bugs last night. A perfect summer weekend, indeed.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Inspired Image: Karen of Ephemera Design

Hello! My name is Karen Brady.

You can find me at Ephemera Design.

This image comes from GirlsEyeView flickr set.

It inspires me because sunflowers, even on the worst of days, remind me to get over it and power through.

I particularly love the bright contrast in colors.

It makes me feel sunny and optimistic!

The 3 words it conjures up are cheery, thankful, and radiant.

Karen is the other half of Ephemera with Arin (who you met here last week). The girls through a 2 year anniversary party for their stationary shop last night and let me tell you, those girls can bake! Cupcakes, cookies, lemon bars, you name it, they had made it (and displayed them all on lovely tiered cake stands). If you're ever in Des Moines and need custom stationary, an original card or gift—many of which are made by local creative folks—their store should be your first stop. Check out their online shop for a peak!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Q&A: Cat of Rock, Paper, Silver

Another bonus Q&A for you this week and guess what, I changed up the questions a bit! Cat recently started reading this blog and I checked out her work and was intrigued—so I sent her a little list of questions and walla! Actually, my favorite part is her suggestions for other blogs and crafty folks she loves since I learned about a handful of new-to-me people and products. Read on!
(P.S. Just want to let you all know that I'm aware that funky things have been happening with my font and type size on here lately- blogger and I are having some difficulties but I'm working on it and hope to have things standard again soon!)

Where do you live? Milwaukee, WI

Tell me a little bit about what you make. In a tangible sense, I make jewelry. However, to me, my jewelry has an inner beauty, a soul, and personality. I would describe my design style as classic with an artsy twist.

How did you decide to start your line? Rock, Paper, Silver was born as an answer to my seeking a creative outlet. I have been crafting since I was a little girl. My earliest memories growing up are gluing popsicles or painting ceramics with my mom. I have always had creativity in my life and Rock, Paper, Silver fills that need for me today.

How (and more importantly, why) do you fit in time to make jewelry around your day job? For me, designing jewelry is my “calm in the storm”. It is a less about “fitting it in” and more of me looking forward to devoting time to Rock, Paper, Silver. When you find something you love to do, you set your schedule to make time for it. It also helps that my hubby is so supportive.

How did you learn to make jewelry? I am mostly self-taught. I have taken a handful of beading classes at a local bead shop which were a blast! It was great to get together with a group of women to bead and gossip! Like a modern day quilting club ;).

Where do you prefer to make your designs? I do all my designing at home in our office on my specially designated “jewelry” desk. About a month ago I spent an afternoon organizing all of my beads and findings that were scattered across my desk (it was madness, I tell you)…my work area is much more peaceful now that everything has a happy home! During this organization, I designated a “on deck” dish which is where I put supplies for designs I want to work on next. This allows me to keep my ideas focused and increases my productivity. Our office has great windows and when I have the luxury to design during the day (on a day off or the weekend), I love working in the natural sunlight.

Who are some of your current favorite crafty people? I seriously am addicted to the artists on Esty…there is so much creativity there…I can’t believe that a single website can contain it all! I am finding new favorites daily. Some of my recent finds are:

guyincognito’s Zippies

palepink’s Bike Innertube Journals

Corrie Hill’s Bird Mobiles

sraige’s Ruffled Linen Bags

What blogs do you make sure to read everyday? I have just entered into the world of blogging and I think I am in love! There are so many great blogs out there, each speaking to a different facet of who I am. I seem to discover a new favorite everyday! Here is a snapshot of some of my favorite blogs:

Zucchero, Zucchero…Holly’s humor is just awesome!

KatyDiddys…Laura is just so honest and provides great insight and tips to selling on Etsy

The Angry Chicken…A modern day crafting girls blog, great ideas and fun anecdotes delivered daily

What's the best part of your day? 5:15pm. This is when my “day job” work in marketing/web design ends…I feel like a kid waiting for the bell to ring at the end of the day! Don’t get me wrong, I truly enjoy my “day job” but the structure of our society’s 50-60 hour work week makes me feel ill.

What do you like to do when you're not working on your creations (or working at your regular job)? Oh, gosh, there is so much! I love both cooking and baking and am the honorary “meal planner/preparer” in our house. I am addicted to magazines and treat myself to reading them only when I am on my Stairmaster (this keeps me motivated). I also enjoy schooling my husband in a game of Blokus or getting beaten down by him in Scrabble.In the summer months I take full advantage of the gorgeous weather by riding my motorcycle, scouting flea markets and festivals, mowing the lawn (yes, I actually LIKE cutting the grass! ;)), dining alfresco, or visiting the zoo (self proclaimed animal lover…though I always end up feeling a little sad when I see the cages). My husband and I are very social and visit family and friends when ever we can.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Best Bridesmaid Gift (Ever): Custom Embroidery

I am beyond thrilled to share this with you today—it's the gift that Virginia gave me for helping her with her wedding planning (which I will tell you I enjoyed so much, being involved was essentially a gift in itself!). That said, I am floored by this. 

The style of this might look familiar if you've been reading for a while—do you remember the Instant Heirloom profile I did on Karen Ruane of Contemporary Embroidery? Well if not, a quick recap is to say that I am smitten with her work. I love the style, her detailed stitching and that it's feminine, pretty and feels connected to a tradition of embroidery. 

So Virginia, who gave each of her wedding "team members" (a word she was more comfortable with than bridesmaids) vintage gifts including a very awesome makeup carrying case for our friend Katherine, had this made for me. She knew I loved Karen's work and that together they would be able to create something perfectly suited for me. Plus the fabric and trimmings used in the piece are vintage, so it fit with the theme.

Let me tell you, this makes me the happiest girl. It reminds me of the creative work I love to do myself (quilting), how much I appreciate the skill of other people, of my amazing friendship (and how so very thoughtful V is), and also that sometimes, a girl just needs to have a little silk and lace in her life. Not to mention pink. And flowers.

I'm going to have it mounted to float in a deep frame so that I can hang it on my wall and enjoy it each and everyday. If you want to see more images and here more from Karen about the piece, head over to her blog to see her recap of the commission. Thanks again V!!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Q&A: Sandra of Friedasophie

It's a gray morning here in NYC, but these lovely jewelry pieces are helping me feel very cheerful. I love the way that Sandra combines bold colors with elegant, and often times vintage, hardware. And that her creativity is so connected to the generations of women who came before her in her family. See below for more!
Where do you live? 
I live in San Francisco, California but i am originally from Hamburg, Germany

Tell me a little bit about what you make.
I handcraft precious and semi-precious gemstone jewelry in a modern style with a hint of art deco.

How did you decide to start your line?
My family were all artists and i have been painting, sewing, writing and crafting all my life. Recently in January a store owner in my neighborhood fell in love with a pair of earrings I made for myself and asked me to make her a dozen for her organic fashion store.  Then I started my online
etsy store and since than it has been taken off.

Is this your full-time work?
Yes, this is my full-time work, I am also a acupuncturist and i restore vintage vehicles but the jewelry designing is my main work.

You say that you also sew, which you inherited from your grandmother and great-grandmother. Do you think it means more to you to make things because of that family connection?
Yes, of course, I loved my grandmother very much and unfortunately lost her at age 7, so when i sew a cute dress or i make some earrings for it is like she is with me in those moments.

Where do you prefer to make your designs?
I work from my comfy sofa at home. I need to have a good tea, some chocolate and some pretty gemstones in all colors available and then I just let the gem influence me.

What's your current favorite color combination?
My favorite color is red but my favorite color combo would be lemon with aqua because it reminds me of summer on the beach.

Do you have a favorite product in your shop right now? 
Yes, i love my Caribbean green and Caribbean blue drop earrings, they make me think of Bahamas beaches. Plus my red chalcedony cherry blossom which brings me right back to asia.

What's the best part of your day?
Evenings, when i get get to design new pieces and i can let me ideas flow.

What do you like to do when you're not working on your creations?
I love watching an independent movie, cuddle with my cat mausi or dance tango and salsa around the house with my husband.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Weekend at the Jersey Shore

Here's a look at my weekend in pictures. I was a lucky girl and got to go to the NJ shore from Friday through Sunday, and I got to see my parents and my sister and her husband.

The weather was a glorious 82 (I'm guessing- that's what it felt like) and sunny, though the water was a bit too cold for my liking. I just happily looked at it from my beach chair (and laughed at the folks who kept being surprised by the incoming tide).

I spent every summer, when I wasn't in daycamp, at this beach. Amazingly, even though I can't do a cartwheel like I once could, or build the same high quality drip castles, it pretty much looks the same.

My camera takes pretty awful close ups, but I wanted to let you know that I made peach-blueberry buckwheat pancakes for our Sunday morning breakfast and they were yummy.

We also tried out my mom's new panini maker for the first time with these pesto caprese sandwiches. My sister and I manned the griddle together and I tried, unsucessfully, to stop making fun of her for doing the total opposite of what the recipe we were using said. It was a lovely weekend.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Inspired Image: Arin of Ephemera Design

Hello my name is Arin.

You can find me at or behind the counter of my sweet little shop, Ephemera Stationary Studio in downtown Des Moines.

This image comes from McMorr's photostream on Flickr (it's called Harvest Time in Iowa).

It inspires me because it invites me to imagine the story of this structure and urges me to tell that story in a creative way.

I particularly love how it reminds me of the slow pace of every lazy summer day in the only place that I know to call "home".

It makes me feel like I should spend even more time exploring, dallying, and cloud gazing in blue jeans with holes in the knees.

The 3 words it conjures up are simplistic, authentic and expansive.

Make sure you tune in next week to see an image pick from Karen, Arin's partner at the delightful Ephemera—a shop where you go in to buy a lovely card or two and you walk out with that plus two new friends!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Q&A: Heather of Bettula Jewelry

Today's post is a little bit about Heather Fagan, the woman behind Bettula, a very awesome shop on Etsy filled with jewelry made from bark. I know, I was impressed too! Here's Heather:

Where do you live?
Eastpointe (East Detroit), MI

Tell me a little bit about what you make.
I make cuffs, earrings, necklaces, rings, hair accessories and home goods out of birch bark. Before birch bark I was making stained glass and doing restoration work. Most recently I have started working with Hypertufa which is what I dream about when its time for a break from the bark.

How did you decide to start your line?
It all started four years ago when I was studying a fallen birch tree and saw the bark as a possible material instead of just a tree. From then on I just started experimenting and realized that I was making jewelry from bark. One piece lead to the next and I still have so many ideas.

How did you learn to work with bark, of all materials?
I am self-taught. Determination.

Where do you prefer to make your designs?
I plan designs based on organic life and simple shapes. I love being able to work outside in the summer and feel the sun and breeze. It would be so great to be closer to nature and not in my garage but until then I have tried to bring the woods home to me.

Where do you find your inspiration?
Most of my inspiration comes from being outdoors. Michigan is full of beautiful escapes! I love camping and hiking.

What's the best part of your day?
When I see a new idea come to life.

What do you like to do when you're not working on your creations?
Anything active...going to the beach, riding my bike, playing games, cooking new delicious foods and an occasional movie.

Do you have a favorite product in your shop right now?
My favorite right now is the Chestnut Bow Necklace because it is cute in an earthy natural way.