Monday, January 30, 2012

Gems with Style

John is like nobody I've ever met.  He is married with 4 children and 8 grandchildren!  In addition to being a rabid reader and hockey fan, he works with the American Red Cross through Volunteer Disaster Services and is a retired paramedic and educator.

So how does a guy like this fit into handmade?  Well, his darling wife bought a pack of faceted stones and asked him to identify what do you do with them?  Easy, you learn to work with metal and create some of the most beautiful works of wearable art.  John is now the president of the Western South Carolina Gem and Mineral Society and makes the most amazing gems I've ever seen...and am dying to use in coordination with a chainmaille style design.

John soon began working under the name RasmussenGems and has culled his skills to include cutting stones, wrapping in copper and silver and a host of other experiments, all of which come out like mini works of art.

Ready to see what a man in a woman dominated world of jewelry design can do?  Well, he is easy to find on the HandmadeArtistsShop as well as on FaceBook.  Check out his work and prepare to drool.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Gifts from the Heart

There is something so endearing about a handmade teddy bear or hand knit baby blanket that so many people understand...including Sandi of IKnitQuiltSew who has blessed countless coworkers, friends and family with just such gifts from the heart.

Sandi works for a university where she tracks down answers for students regarding different disciplines of study.  When not working, she can be found tramping around her Utah home on the lookout for the amazing beauty of nature or fishing with her husband; but her real passion in yarn!

Sandi had been creating since she was a child which she learned by watching her grandmothers.  She picked up where they left off and has continued the legacy of handmade creations focusing on the most darling knitted items and even taught herself to quilt!  She can create things as simple as dishcloths to the most stunning quilts I have ever seen.

One of my favorite things about this talented lady is that she really cares about keeping her work personal.  She was hesitant about starting a business selling her creations because she was afraid that by making them for a mass market, instead of personal friends, they would lose something.  So glad Sandi managed to get over that one and introduce her work to the world!  She makes each and every piece as if she is working for her best friend and the love shows in the quality every time.

Are you ready to see what a truly talented lady with a passion for nature and handmade can turn out...are you ready for the "awwwwwwww" reaction?  Well, Sandi is pretty easy to find on the web.  You can check out her shop on the HandmadeArtistsShop and even follow a quilt through its process on her blog!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Soapy Talent

You all know that for obvious reasons, I am a sucker for a husband and wife team.  I understand the upsides of working with something that knows you better than anyone else in the world and the downside of working with someone that knows you better than anyone else in the world.

One of my all time favorite teams is the creators extraordinaire of Reef Botanicals, makers of easily the most amazing handmade soap on the planet.  Big build-up, I know, but I really mean every word of it.  You see, my skin is super sensitive and so many other face washes and soap products left me less than thrilled.  After trying out Larissa's Purity soap I was instantly hooked and ready to try out more of their products.  Since then, I have happily been working my way through their line, even buying a men's gift basket for my own hubby to try!

Now, as if working on a handmade soap company isn't enough for one dynamic couple, Larissa is also a practicing attorney (sorry, that practicing in front of doctors and lawyers always cracks me up) as well as the most amazing face painter I have ever seen.  I've done numerouse craft shows and street fairs with my own work and watched face painters galore, but never have I seen someone that could take a squirming child and transform them into an animal so realistic you have to look twice in a matter of minutes.

Now, I would say, "OK, my plate is full," but no, Larissa is also an actor at a local theater company and is thinking of taking on a part time position teaching young kids acting!  Toss is her other creative endeavors such as sewing and knitting and I've decided that somehow she has managed to get 48 hour days while the rest of us only get 24.

Ready to see what this talented lady, along with her darling husband can create?  I am sure that you will not be disappointed in any way.  Check out her shop on the HandmadeArtistsShop as well as her stand alone website.  To hear more about her soapy ways, check out her blog as well as her facepainting!

Monday, January 9, 2012


Now I know that there are so many amazing people out there that can take an object and transform it in a new and exciting way, but when I saw what Cari of CrochetHooked had done with a seemingly simple piece of wire and beads I was floored!

She worked for a time as a framer for a craft store which meant that she had access to all the new craft books that came out...lucky girl!  Cari had already been teaching beginner crochet at the store for some time when she found a new book about crocheting with wire.  Well, the wheels began turning right there and then.  If you can crochet with wire and beads why can't you braid with it?  Cari grabbed her supplies and created her first braided wire and bead bracelet, which her husband instantly dubbed a Braidlet.

What seems like a fairly simple concept can create mind blowingly beautiful works of wearable art in the hands of someone with an eye for color and design.  Everything from crystals to pearl to seed beads are fair game.  If Cari likes the combination they will surely become a Braidlet.

Now, for all you do it yourselfers out there that love to look at others talent and say "I can do that" Cari has created tutorials explaining everything step by step using her knowledge of teaching crochet to make sure that her instructions are clear and easy to understand.  I have no doubt that you will quickly have a piece of wearable art after following her easy pictures and instructions.

So, are you ready to see what a Braidlet can be?  Check out Cari's shop on the HandmadeArtistsShop as well as her own blog where she offers advice and even a free beginning tutorial on crocheting with wire and beads to get you going.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Once Upon a Time The Handmade Artists Forum was Born

My life revolves around crafts and creating in any media I can get my hands might say I have a serious case of Crafter's ADD; a chronic condition which requires boxes and bags of pieces and parts that could be “something” someday and a ridiculous collection of websites and books on crafts I want to try.  In addition, we were driven to connect with other like minded and creative people, but the Yahoo group just weren't for us and the Handmade Artists Forum was soon born.  Beginning as a humble page on one of our own sites, it quickly grew into a forum of its own open to anyone that created, loved, sold handmade.  We encouraged people to posts links to their various shops and blogs and offered to promote members through Twitter, StumbleUpon, and Featured Member Ads.

Before long, the member list started growing!  Imagine our surprise when we had over 100 crafters from around the world join up!  We realized that this was going to be much bigger than our little site so we bought the domain and set up the on its own server.  Members kept coming…and coming…and coming!  Soon, we were over 300 members strong!  Andrew and I worked hard to promote our members through Twitter and Stumble and people started getting hits on their shops no matter what venue they sold on!  We began a blog to feature members and encouraged members to write up articles about their various crafts-linking of course-to their own sites.

Like any large group, there were some bumps in the road, but the members …600 members…are you kidding me???  Andrew and I couldn’t keep up, so some wonderful members decided to step in and help!  We have bloggers, twitterers, stumblers, plurkers, and facebookers (boy, created my own language here didn’t I?).  Soon we had Twitter rings and Blog rings that were attracting attention of the handmade world.  We have weekly chats every Thursday evening (EST) where we discuss anything from sales, to creative process, to life in general...there have been many chats where nobody knows quite how we ended up on some odd topic...but we just roll with it and enjoy the company of our new friends. 

Now, I have sold on a variety of sites such and each had their pluses as well as minuses.  Poor Andrew had to listen to my complaining about what each didn’t have…but what do you do?  It is hard to be seen on multi-vendor sites but even harder to get found on your own site!  Answer?  HandmadeArtistsShop was born.  Now, this shop was not on the radar when the forum began.  We are not coders and had no clue as to how to set up a multi-vendor shopping site; but if Andrew is one thing, it is tenacious!  He did hours of research into various shopping carts and hundreds of emails to an online friend who understood code. We talked about what a shop needed to have and through a lot of trial and error the HandmadeArtistsShop was born.  The shop went through many growing pains but has steadily become better and easier to use and our members are seeing sales without having to compete with mass produced or commercial supplies!  Finally, a site that puts handmade in its own category and calls it special enough for its own site!  Our shop members even have the option of filling out a short survey form and being featured in their own article on the front page of the shop promoting their Handmade Artists Shop and any other sites they would like to feature.

Where are we now?  Well, we are currently over 2400 members of the forum and over 200 Shop members.  Andrew and I have steadily increased our server size because you guys love to show off your pictures!  We have continued to try to promote our members of the forum and shop as much as we can with the help of our other members through Twitter, StumbleUpon, FaceBook, Plurk, and ProjectWonderful and truly believe that our little corner of the web will continue to grow.
If you are a creative soul that loves to connect with other creative, and sometimes a bit off beat, people, join us on the Handmade Artists Forum and see if you don't find yourself lost in the sea of creativity that has assembled.  Show off your goodies and drool over others talents as you connect with artisans from around the world who love to support and promote!