Handmade Philly MeetUp: April!


Fibered Up: The Tasting Room Ardmore Welcomes Handmade Philly (August 1)

The evening will include a trunk show featuring member Bonnie MacAllister’s works, and Handmade Philly members are invited to lead and participate in fiber demos including weaving and spinning. The public is invited to bring their current fiber projects (crochet, knit, woven, sewn squares of about 2 feet wide) that they are willing to contribute to decorate Ardmore and leave their creative mark in fiber. The event will culminate in live “yarn bombing.” All ages and skill levels are encouraged.

Friday, August 1
The Tasting Room
8 E. Lancaster Avenue
Ardmore, PA 19003

MacAllister led similar community building fiber events last year in Germantown.

Read all about the event here.

Facebook event here

Kysaa – Pure Fashion

Handmade Philly got the chance to interview Kinjal Mehta, a handmade artist from Philadelphia.  Kinjal runs a shop called Kysaa – Pure Fashion. Come with me to take a peek into the creative world of Kinjal Mehta.

G1Where does the name of your shop come from?

Kysaa is a Swedish name which means Pure.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?

I am a freelance designer. After studying fashion design at Parsons Design school I started my label Kysaa.

Why do you do what you do?

I love fashion and I believe in living with style. Kysaa is my effort to spread pure fashion to all the beautiful people out there.

1-AB7_1096How do you create when you don’t feel particularly creative?

Whenever I am down, I look at the work of my favorite designers, go shopping take a day of to get some inspiration.

When did you start?

I have been into designing and fashion for about 5 years but I started my shop a year back.

Where do you want to go with this?

I want to create hi-end designer label that is all handmade and customized.

What memorable responses have you had to your work?

Wow, thats beautiful, how long does it take to knit that, you are so creative, etc.

What is your dream project?

To knit a couture piece, dress or gown.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

To believe in yourself and to do something you love in life and not just with the goal of earning money.

Professionally, what’s your goal?

To establish a successful brand.

Can you describe the time when you first realized that creating was something you absolutely had to do?

I have always wanted to design; I used to design my clothes as kid too, so it has always been my thing to make something.

Which of your handmade pieces is your favorite?

I love all of them as each one is unique but my fave is the orange wrap and black shrug with back design.


What would you call your style?

Elegant, chic and sophisticated.

Did you ever feel like giving up?

Yes lot of times, as it’s been hard for me to spread word out of my work but somehow I always get my inspiration back.

What’s the best thing about being a handmade artist?

Your freedom and being your own boss.

What’s the worst thing about being a handmade artist?

It’s a struggle to spread out the word and so to earn a living.

1-AB7_1124(1)Any advice you want to give anyone starting up a business of their own?

It’s going to be hard but hang in there because nothing else will give you satisfaction than doing what you love.

What is the first craft project you remember making?

Making my first scarf for my Spiritual Guru, it gave me so much happiness and satisfaction.

What are some of the ways you promote your work?

I am a part of Philly’s Raw artist community, where I did a fashion show and was nominated for the Philadelphia Fashion Designer for the Year. I also promote social networks too. I have also opened my shop on Zibbet and Threadflip besides Etsy.

Let our readers in on some of the frustrations behind the work, or an especially difficult project.

The biggest frustration with knitting is you can’t go wrong, it’s difficult to get accurate fit. And since the whole piece is made from one thread, you can’t easily alter the design, patterns once made.

Where else can we find you?

Facebook- kysaa | Twitter @kysaak

Tumblr- http://kysaa.tumblr.com

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/kysaak/boards/


About the Author: Niesha Kennedy-Robinson is a lover of things handmade.  Besides being a wife and a mother, she is the owner and operator of Wee Bit Trendy, a small online shop that provides Handmade Faux Treats for Baby.  She loves DIY (why buy when you can DIY), and doing PR for Sharp with Art Group and West Park Arts Festival and giving back to her community by volunteering for different organizations.

Knitted Luxury for Women, Children & Home by Jemma Helliker


Jemma Helliker is a fellow Handmade Philly member and is on the Handmade Philly Etsy Team.  Her shop, Squidge & Bean, contains hand-knit accessories crafted from the finest merino and alpaca wool sourced from independent hand dyers from the USA and Uruguay. Each item is lovingly created by Jemma in my smoke-free, pet-free home. We got a chance to ask her a few questions about exactly what it is that she does.  Check it out below.


Where does the name of your shop come from?

Squidge & Bean comes from my children’s nicknames. Squidge is my adorably bossy almost four-year-old daughter and Bean is my frighteningly fearless almost two-year-old son. As my children inspire so much of my work, it is only natural that my shop is named after them.

 Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?

I am originally from the great city of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (think the Brown Ale) in England. Eight years ago I followed my heart and moved to Philly.

While here, I have had quite a journey. I first became a middle-school teacher, then I became a mum, and now I design and create hand-knitted accessories for Squidge & Bean and sell my items online and at craft fairs.

I’m happy to say my British roots are still alive and kicking; I am unable to get through a day without multiple cups of tea with milk and I continue to insist it is pronounced, “tom-are-toe”.


What is your favorite…

Color: Purple

Animal: Elephant

Season: Spring

Movie: Dirty Dancing

Book: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

What would you call your style?

My style is classic and simple. I am committed to using only independently produced animal and plant-based yarns and I create items that allow the yarn to be the star.

When and where did you start?

My grandma and mother introduced me to the art of knitting on a cold winter evening in 2009. They patiently fixed my mistakes as I struggled through my first baby beanie. The finished hat was ugly, but I was hooked.

Knitting is my addiction and now my work. I dream about new patterns and spend my free time experimenting and creating new accessories out of beautiful yarns.


 What kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you have?

I have transformed a corner of the spare bedroom into my studio/office space. With two small kids, it is a little difficult to create any sort of regular pattern and routine, but during naptimes (if I’m lucky) and in the evenings I love to retreat to “the office” to design, create, and enjoy some quiet time.

Do you listen to music when you create?

I’m a Pandora addict. The Mumford and Sons station is my current favorite.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m busy getting ready for the 30th Street Craft Fair on June 15th. I love the challenge of creating knits for spring and summer. For the kids, I’m working on Montessori inspired toys, for the home, I’m creating beautiful covers for vases and candle holders, and for her, I’m working on a range of detachable collars and yoga socks.


What memorable responses have you had to your work?

Custom orders always produce the best responses from customers. There is something very special about developing a relationship with a customer and picturing them as I work. Last year, I worked with a great customer to create a pair of cashmere fingerless mittens for her cousin. They turned out fabulously and I keep her happy feedback and photos close by if I’m ever in need of motivation.

What’s the best thing about being a handmade artist?

Creating beautiful things with my hands.
What’s the worst thing about being a handmade artist?

Too many ideas and not enough time.


Where do you see yourself in ten years?

In ten years I would love to be working on Squidge & Bean full time. I hope to not only be knitting, but also producing my own yarns and teaching others how to knit. And who knows, maybe in ten years I may have some folks helping me achieve all this!

If you could give one piece of advice to a new etsy seller, what would it be?

I’m still new to Etsy, but the one thing that has stood out to me is the importance of good photography. Learn how to take drool-worthy photographs and get familiar with the photo-editing tools on your computer. I am amazed by the improvements to my photos with a few clicks.

How do you keep in touch with the public?

I update my blog, closeknitblog.wordpress.com, with behind the scenes news and updates and Etsy treasuries inspired by my life.

You can also keep in touch with me on Facebook (squidgeandbean.facebook.com), follow me on Twitter (@squidgebean) and shop online at squidgeandbean.etsy.com and in person the 30th Street Craft Fair on June 15th.

Handmade Philly Etsy Treasury

Just wanted to show some love to my fellow Handmade Philly Etsy Members.  I created an Etsy Treasury of some of the coolest items handmade by Philadelphians.

Handmade Philly

Niesha Kennedy-Robinson is a lover of things handmade.  Besides being a wife and a mother, she is the owner and operator of Wee Bit Trendy, a small online shop that provides Handmade Faux Treats for Baby.  She loves DIY (why buy when you can DIY), and doing PR for Sharp with Art Group and West Park Arts Festival.

Handmade Philly Member Feature: Danni M

Danni Morinich, a member of Handmade Philly was given the opportunity to create a soap for The Italian Market Visitors Center. She lives in the neighborhood, she was not only honored to be asked, but so pleased at the result.

If you’re in the neighborhood for the Italian Festival Saturday, May 18th and Sunday, May 19th, stop by and see how she worked with the Italian Market Visitors Center to create a soap with an appearance that pays homage to the originators of the market in fragrances that are a nod to the importance of food in the market.
These gems make perfect gifts for the tourist, the foodie or those who still call Philly home while taking up residence elsewhere.

This soap is available exclusively at the Italian Market Visitors Center 919 S. 9th Street (Just south of 9th and Christian between Montrose Street and Salter Street (215) 278-2903.

Niesha Kennedy-Robinson is a lover of things handmade. Besides being a wife and a mother, she is the owner and operator of Wee Bit Trendy, a small online shop that provides Handmade Faux Treats for Baby. She loves DIY (why buy when you can DIY), and doing PR for Sharp with Art Group and West Park Arts Festival

Featured Artist: Lesley Haas

Lesley Haas was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and has made her home in Heidelberg, Germany from 1988 until 1996 and from 1999 – 2000. Since 2006, she is again living in Philadelphia.

She developed an interest in handmade paper after viewing a comprehensive exhibit in which the artworks were made with paper in New York City. Her technique and style has been influenced over the years both by ongoing studio and by coursework with well-known paper artists. She is an active member of the International Association of Hand Papermakers and Paper Artists (IAPMA). The signature of her work is the use of natural fibers and pigments from various parts of the world to blend the characteristics of the fibers with different elements of style. As an extension of her papermaking she has created numerous objects from vegetable papyrus. Digital collage and prints can be found in her portfolio and the newer work consists of all types of recycled papers.

Job Description: Paper Artist / Personal Assistant

Upcoming projects/exhibitions:

PAPER: A Deckled Edge The Paper Artwork of Lesley Haas -UPenn,Van Pelt-Dietrich Library thru February 15, 2013.

Also Transfixed will be showing at the Library of Life exhibit, in collaboration with the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. Art Gallery of City Hall/ NE Corner/ Philadelphia, PA 19107/ Exhibition dates: March 11 – May 24, 2013, Reception: March 14, 5-7 pm.

Select links: http://www.library.upenn.edu/exhibits/lesleyhaas.html

Habitat fro Humanity Upcycle Challenge auction…



What themes and concepts does your work generally revolve around? 

For years I delved into the fashion world which influenced my work. In recent years, I’ve created a series of paper scrolls, decoupaged frames and small paper art objects.

What are you currently working on?

I recently re-finished a large mirror for the Habitat for Humanity Upcycle Challenge, at the 2013 Philadelphia Home Show, which will be at their Booth in Hall A, between February 2-10.  Public voting: http://www.phillyhomeshow.com/PHS/AtTheShow/Ultimate_Upcycle_Challenge_286.aspx

What’s your background / how did you first get involved with art?

It took me years to launch my studio career, since I’m self-trained. My mother was a fashion editor and publicist in Philadelphia, and was very active with Fashion Group International, so she was always coming home with the latest trends.


What’s been happening in your life/ what’s next for you? 

I’m participating in the Habitat for Humanity and Home Decor Upcycle event. On from there, I’ve been accepted to participate in the European Cultural Capital of 2013 – South of France and I’ll have a table at the Chestnut Hill Home Show in May.

Any exhibits coming up:
PAPER: A Deckled Edge The Paper Artwork of Lesley Haas – September 4, 2012 – February 15, 2013- UPENN Kamin Gallery, VanPelt Dietrich Library, 3420 Walnut St. (entrance on Locust Walk)

Hours: Monday -Friday : 9am-6pm
Passes required for Weekends: can be requested on the day of visit – please call reference desk: 215 898.7555


Is any of your work political? 

Occasionally it comes through…

Has the meaning of your work changed over time?

Yes, it has. After creating representational pieces for entry into Edible Paper and my paper dresses, I realized I wanted to try and focus on more abstract art.

How do you choose your subject matter?

Usually it’s the material I have on hand. For example, a friend gave me some base materials, which sat in the back of my car for months, which Ifinally turned into the scrolls series.


Are you involved with any organizations/  Is there a group you feel affinity with/ do you collaborate with other artists?  

Yes, I am an active member of The International Association of Paper Makers and Paper Artists – IAPMA. On occasion I will collaborate with other artists.

What are some misconceptions people often have about you? 

No one has shared such info with me. You’d have to ask others.

What were you like as a kid? Gregarious and unkempt

Favorite writers? Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Lalita Tademy, G.R.R. Martin, Barbara Kingsolver

Favorite comic strips/ comic books/ graphic novels? Fantastic Four – Marvel Comics

What are you reading? Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel


What are you listening to these days? WXPN

What are a few of your favorite spots in Philly/ elsewhere: 

Philadelphia Free Library, Magic Gardens, Wissahickon Forbidden Drive, Santa Maria della Scala, Siena, Italy, Weststadt, Heidelberg, Germany

Favorite artists and why?

Ben Franke – pristine photography, Inez Fritschy – I enjoy how she mixes media in creating her original objects, Josephine Tabbert – her use of home grown Esparto grass to use exclusively in her wonderful paper art, Alan Shields – he was sewing on paper and his work influenced me greatly! I met him in his latter years and mentioned this and he didn’t even seem to notice he had started a trend! Brad Holland – his illustrations sing to me!

What was the last exhibit you attended?

Society of Illustrators, NYC

haas_she whsipers

What was the first piece of artwork you bought/ do you buy a lot of artwork?  It was a silkscreen print. I’d purchase more if the money flowed freely!

What’s your idea of happiness?  A healthy and happy son! And selling my work!!

If you weren’t an artist what would you be? In the theatre 🙂

Your website(s): http://www.lesleyhaas.com


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