Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Buy handmade!

Though I'm a little bit late in suggesting this, you should definitely check out Buy Handmade. This site is a partnership between Etsy and several other sites, and encourages people to pledge that they will buy as many handmade items as possible to give as their holiday gifts, and also encourage people who are giving them gifts to also buy handmade items! It's a wonderful idea, especially as it ensures that everyone on your list can get something unique and tailored towards them, rather than the same mass produced stuff that everyone else gets.

So obviously, Etsy has tens of thousands of sellers offering handmade stuff to choose from. But if you don't want to search through the entire set, why not take a chance with one of the EtsyRain mystery gift bags?

Each of these bags contains five items which would normally sell for $10 each. We're offering these gift bags for $25, so basically at half their normal price! And let me assure you, this is some amazing stuff. I was involved in the preparation of the general gift bags, and I'd pretty much love to receive any of the items in one of these gift bags. There are also gift bags filled with kid and baby items, and knowing who contributed to those, I am sure that they are similarly wonderful!

And of course, feel free to search through Etsy for something more specific! :) I'm only offering these gift bags as a neat idea for a quick way to knock out a portion of your shopping list! :)

Monday, November 5, 2007

Etsy Seller Profile: Catherine Lawrence of Urban Fictions

Many artists and crafters are not satisfied to learn and master a single technique. They prefer to continually learn new crafts or art forms, ever expanding the repetoire of their skills. Etsy seller Catherine Lawrence of Urban Fictions (reqbat on Etsy) is one such artist. The artwork available in her Etsy shop covers multiple media, and often combines these media into unique mixed media plaques, apparel, and artwork. All of the items at Urban Fictions are truly one of a kind works of art.

Catherine Lawrence resides in Montreal, and is a writer as well as a visual artist. Her mother helped to foster her sense of creativity from an early age, which is how Catherine fell into writing. Currently, she chooses new art forms to learn by what catches her interest, and lists some of these interests as including knitting, sewing, and painting: "anything that looks interesting, I try!" She has been creating artwork nearly her entire life, though Urban Fictions has only been a part of Etsy for about a year, and only truly active in the past month or so.

Although the items that Catherine creates for her Etsy shop do vary widely, quite a few of the items are painted. Many of the painted items also incorporate other media as well, however, like her door knob hangers and other plaques, which feature images decoupaged onto painted wood. One of the themes that emerges in a number of her paintings is crows, offering a strong continuity between pieces that would otherwise appear to be unrelated to each other. Aside from paintings, Catherine also makes small felt pill shapes, designed to be Christmas ornaments, though they could be used for decoration any time of the year. All of Catherine Lawrence's pieces at Urban Fictions are unusual and quirky, sure to appeal to those with their own unique outlooks on life.

Catherine Lawrence is happy to offer custom work as well, and does not limit herself to items similar to the artwork available at Urban Fictions. She can recreate many of the items available there in different colors, but also says she is willing to do other, one of a kind work: "everything from custom paintings to designing tattoos for people!" Like many of the artists who sell on Etsy, Catherine's work appeals highly to the indie sensibility, but can also be enjoyed by anyone with an appreciation of unique works of art.


Saturday, November 3, 2007

Etsy Seller Profile: ValerieBeads

All crafters and artists need to get their supplies from somewhere, and Etsy offers many opportunities for crafters to purchase both commercial and handmade supplies. Etsy seller Valerie Moore, the artist behind the Etsy shop ValerieBeads, is one such artist who creates handmade supplies. In her case, she creates handmade polymer clay beads and focal pieces, as well as offering some of her drawn artwork on artisan beads and in other formats.

ValerieBeads has been a shop on Etsy for nearly a year and a half, but Valerie Moore has been making handmade polymer clay beads for around seven years. Prior to that, even as early as childhood, she was interested in artwork--crayon drawings and Play-doh sculptures as a child, graduating to drawing and beads later in life. Aside from her artistic endeavors, she has worked as a vet tech, and has two dogs of her own. She loves animals, and enjoys featuring them in some of her artwork, including as a part of her Drawn Sketched pendant line.

Valerie's handcrafted polymer clay beads at ValerieBeads take much of their inspiration from natural themes. Some of the beads feature flowers or insects, while others are shaped like small leaves, complete with vein lines. Her focal point beads and pendants are considerably more detailed, particularly the Drawn Sketched pendant line. These pendants are made of polymer clay, but feature Valerie's drawings rather than patterns created with the polymer clay. She says that she very much enjoys making the Drawn Sketched pendants, because they combine two of her favorite things: drawing and polymer clay. Valerie is also happy to do custom work, and has fulfilled a number of requests for artisan beads similar to those she had already made, but in different color schemes or patterns. In addition to her handcrafted beads, Valerie also sells some of her artwork in other formats, though the focus of her shop is most certainly her handcrafted polymer clay beads.

Whether you are a crafter looking for a new supplier of artisan beads, or someone who is interested in picking out a few choice beads or a pendant for a necklace, ValerieBeads offers a wide selection of options. She also has a webpage where she offers free tutorials for those who are interested in making their own polymer clay beads, choosing to relinquish some of the rights to her designs so that other may benefit from her experience.


Friday, November 2, 2007

Etsy Seller Profile: Liz Staley

Geeks and nerds have never been known for their fashion sense, but with the help of Etsy seller Liz Staley, this fact has a chance to change. Liz calls her shop "Liz Staley's Realm of Nerdiness," and the name of the shop does not disappoint. Here, geeks and nerds (and the people who love them) can find all sorts of accessories, from fishnet gloves, to witty buttons, to repurposed computer keyboard pieces.

Liz Staley had the traditional early start in the crafty world. In her case, her mother painted ceramics, and Liz wanted to join in the fun. Her mother gave her a rubber duck, water, and a paintbrush, to let Liz think she was painting too. However, she quickly realized that things should change color when you painted them, and wanted more. More ultimately came in the form of a degree in Fine Arts, after Liz decided that she wanted to pursue a career in animation. Japanese animation is her preferred style, and she has written up story ideas for television shows and movies that she hopes to someday make.

For her shop on Etsy, however, Liz creates an entirely different variety of artwork. Her most popular items are the buttons. Some of these are made from the pages of manga comics. Though the quotes on these may not be funny in their original context, many of them are hilarious when taken out of context. She also makes sets of buttons that appeal to role-players and fans of sci-fi television shows, including Firefly and Farscape, among others. She particularly enjoys making the fishnet gloves, some of which are beaded, while others are more simple affairs. Finally, she makes several different items from old computer keyboards--the interior circuit boards become wallets, while the keys become a part of chokers, bracelets, and earrings.

Of course, since no two geeks or nerds are exactly alike, Liz is happy to do custom work. She acknowledges that there is a limit to just how much text can fit onto a button ("no Kevin Smith monologues") and how many computer keys can fit on a choker (about eight), but within the constraints of available space, she loves to work with customers to make them their own special geeky accessories. And for the slightly less geeky among us, the fishnet gloves and Liz's other crocheted items have an undeniable beauty about them, making Liz Staley's shop a great place to shop for geeks, nerds, and normal people.

OAP Studios
Liz's Deviant Art page
Liz's blog

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Etsy Seller Profile: DharmaDesigns

The cultures and images of Asian countries have long held great appeal throughout the rest of the world. The mystery and exotic aspects of these cultures is imitated in the work of many artists, giving credence to the idea that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Etsy seller Wendy Bayliss, the creative hands behind the Etsy shop DharmaDesigns, has taken her love of Asian themed items and created a beautiful collection of handcrafted jewelry pieces. While Wendy's diverse interests suggest that she will ultimately expand the offerings of DharmaDesigns far outside of jewelry (she already has photographs in her shop as well), for now her selection is centered on Asian themed pieces of jewelry.

Based out of Portland, Oregon, Wendy has been creating things for as long as she can remember. She says that as children, she and her sister made their own books and toys, and, as they got older, reproduced entire bases for their Star Wars action figures. In addition to working on the pieces she offers in her Etsy shop, Wendy also is a writer. She is currently writing a novel based in fact about helicopter medical evacuation crews during the Vietnam War. With this interesting mix of creativity in several formats, it is no surprise that DharmaDesigns was born. Wendy began selling on Etsy just over a month ago, shortly after being asked about a necklace she was wearing. When she told the woman who asked that she had made the necklace herself, the woman suggested that Wendy start selling her handcrafted jewelry through some venue.

Wendy uses a variety of different jewelry making techniques for the pieces in her DharmaDesigns shop. Some of her necklaces are strands of different sized and shaped beads, often with a large focal point in the center. Other necklaces are predominantly chain, with only a few carefully selected beads. Still others are strung on satin cord, allowing the beauty of the beads and the colored cord to meld together in a one of a kind necklace. In addition to her necklaces, which make up the bulk of her offerings, Wendy also offers bracelets and earrings along an Asian theme. Though the pieces may not match one another, the theme that runs throughout Wendy's creations is constant and distinctive.

Wendy also delights in making custom pieces, though these do not necessarily have to be handcrafted jewelry pieces. She has made intricate cards for friends in the past, and welcomes the opportunity to work with buyers on the items of their dreams. Wendy also plans to expand the offerings of DharmaDesigns into more non-jewelry items, including the possibility of adding her own blend of chai tea.


This article was originally published here.