Photo Recap: Fish Puppet Mania Workshop at Shadfest!

Shadfest Fish Puppet Mania!
Saturday April 28th, 2012

Workshop Leaders:
Ellen K. Bonett
Steve Valerio, Jr.

Shad Fish has been a part of Philadelphia’s history for over 200 years. To celebrate the annual shad run, Handmade Philly provided a workshop for families in which fish puppets were made from envelopes and foam. Both forms were well received, and the children had a blast! Thanks to all of those who came out and supported our first and most likely not last attempt to provide this fun filled activity!

Some interesting facts about shad:

http://phillywatersheds.org/weve-been-shad

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How to Make Paper Ornaments (An Etsy Workshop at West Elm)

Tonight our Handmade Philly Etsy team hosted an ornament making workshop at the Chestnut Street West Elm store. The store provided a lovely spread, and local Etsy artisans shared their wares.  Our team worked on a paper ornament craft from an Etsy pattern.  We decorated a tree for the Bethesda Project, a nonprofit that serves the chronically homeless.  The event had a tremendous turnout, and it was so exciting to see each ornament form, knowing that the tree would be so much more beautiful with each addition.  We hope that the folks at the Bethesda Project love it as much as we do.

For ways to help the Bethesda Project, click here.

For the pattern and instructions: http://www.etsy.com/blog/en/2011/how-tuesday-paper-ornaments

Thank you again to West Elm and to Etsy for such a meaningful event!

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Seeking Inspiration…

As some of  you may know, I had a new addition to my family this spring. We welcomed a baby boy in to our lives, Henry James was born April 22nd. Although this was a planned event, I could have never prepared for the way having a baby can turn your life upside down. My philosophy as an artist and a teacher has always been that your art and your life should remain seamless. In the case of art and craft, the best work is spawned from life’s events – marriages, babies, new jobs, new homes, friends, groups, pets, gender, family, home, who we are – our identity. I have seen and admired so many artists – both men and women – who use their lives as inspiration for the creative work they do.

As I searched my brain for a topic for my post-postpartum-returning blog post I stumbled upon this …

http://www.whodoesshethinksheis.net/

also a great article about this film: http://www.salon.com/life/broadsheet/2010/05/17/female_filmmakers

The film discusses this very topic – how women artists are viewed in the eyes of the art community when it comes to marriage and family…and boy did it speak to me…in fact, just watching the trailer, my eyes teared up and I was so grateful for the women who share this struggle, to know I am not the only one…

Motherhood and art, the act of creation, are so synonymous. If you are interested in checking out more about this topic, look for contemporary artists such as Mary Kelly and Heather Gray, and books such as Mother Reader ; or search for blogs such as this one: regarding art and motherhood.

Since my time is short and valuable, I found some quick and easy tools to use to gather inspiration and hopefully get the creative juices flowing. Generally, I choose projects I can carry in my diaper bag or purse and can work on at nap time or after Henry goes to bed. When I return to work I am hoping to spend my lunch break, well, eating of course, and perhaps putting a couple of stitches into some fabric here and there or developing some prints in the darkroom – or maybe even doing a bit of drawing. I know it will not be easy, it already isn’t – but I hope these tools will help me gather inspiration.

I picked up this book: The Crafter’s Devotional – 365 Days of Tips, Tricks and Techniques for Unlocking Your Creative Spirit.

by Barbara R. Call

I am not usually into these types of books, but Borders was going out of business and I was digging through the shelves when I found this; and at this moment of my life, it spoke to me. For instance, on Days 111 & 112 she discusses the color of auras and days 146 & 147 she goes over embroidery techniques. It couldn’t be more diverse a selection. It is a total of 308 pages including everything from Birthstones and Birth flowers to Collage Portraits….

The Devotional is filled with daily inspiration for breaking what the author calls “crafter’s block”, although the author claims not to include any “fine art” in the book – I think the line is so blurred at this point in history that it doesn’t matter…. it works for everyone.

The book is set up like this:

Monday – Journaling

Tuesday –  Recycle, Reuses, Revive

Wednesday – Collection Stash and materials

Thursday – Personal history

Friday – Non craft inspiration

Saturday and Sunday – collaborate, gather and experiment

Seems simple enough – not begging for hours in the studio…we will see how it goes and I will keep you posted.

My other quick fix was to join Pinterest – a virtual bulletin board for all things you love. There is so much inspiration here you will be astounded. There is also a Pinterest iPhone App – convenient for moms, and all people on the go!

In addition to all of this, I am grateful for the Handmade Philly community. It has kept me thinking about creativity with the Photo Discourse Project.  I am sure there are more of us out there — new, and seasoned mothers seeking inspiration, or people who have been pulled away from their creative pursuits for other reasons. It would be great  to discuss the ways we can use our new roles in life to be creative and express all that life has in store for us. All comments are welcomed, I hope this will start a discussion!

MaryJo Rosania-Harvie is an artist, teacher and future master of the one minute diaper change. She lives in New Hope, PA.

DIY tassels (and a Harry Potter birthday gift)

On my blog last week I shared my creative journey into the magical world of Harry Potter. My husband and I worked together to create a very special hand-crafted birthday gift for my nephew:

One of the flourishes I added to each wizard’s wand was a handmade tassel. They are very easy to make. All you need is colorful embroidery thread and scissors. Here are the steps:

1. Begin by wrapping one color of your embroidery thread around your four fingers, four times.
2. Add a second color of embroidery thread and wrap that around four times.
3. Remove the thread from your hand. You will now have a small circle of thread. With a separate piece of thread (about 3 inches long – long enough to use as a tie), tie a knot at one end of the circle.
4. Use your scissors to cut through all of the thread at the opposite end of the circle.
5. With another separate piece of thread, tie a knot around all of the tassel threads about 1/2″ down from the main tassel tie. If you have crafting wire, that can be used instead of the thread in this last step. Just wrap the wire around the tassel threads a couple times for a secure fit.

This is what the tassels looked like on the wands:

I hope this inspires the inner wizard in you! – Kate

Melt and Pour Soap-Making: the perfect DIY Holiday project

glycerin soap Looking for a really easy, inexpensive project that will produce a gift nearly everyone loves? Try your hand at melt & pour glycerin soap making. This is distinct from ‘true’ hot process and natural cold process soap-making, which is much more involved and more time consuming. In M&P soaps, you can work on a simple project that will take you a short amount of time. Take advantage of the relative ease and get creative! There are lots of really interesting M&P soapers on Etsy from whom to get some inspiration.  A lot of the fun comes from the molds you choose to use, the scents you add, the addition of botanicals in a clear glaze top, or the creation of fun and interesting designs such as this bacon and egg soap set.

One of the best parts of soap making is the inclusion of natural fragrance. My preference is always to use pure essential oils, which are the natural product of extracting (via steam distillation) the volatile oils from plants. I find synthetic fragrance oils to be cloying and irritating, and often unhealthy because of the addition of chemical fragrance fixatives such as “pthalates”, which have shown endocrine disruption in laboratory testing with mice.

The first step is finding Melt and Pour soap base. And then it’s as simple as that…you melt it and pour it into molds! I prefer to use organic soap base, such as Stephenson’s, as many bases are weighed down with more questionable ingredients such as sulfates, or often irritating chemical foaming agents.

organic melt and pour soap base

organic melt and pour soap base from KandleKaz.com

You will want to use a stainless steel (not aluminum) or enamel coated pot. Put on a double boiler for best results, but I’ve also done fine melting the base over the lowest possible stove-top setting. Just be sure not to walk away too long, as you don’t want the soap to come to a boil.

Stirring melt and pour soap base

Stirring melt and pour soap base

DIY Directions:
1. Melt 2 lb block over low heat. (Stir with a utensil designated for soap making.)
2. Once melted, remove from heat.

Adding essential oil blend to melted soap base

Adding essential oil blend

3. Add fragrance to desired strength. I prefer about 60 – 100 drops essential oil to 2 lbs soap. If you add too much fragrance it will affect the quality of the soap.

Added colorant to soap base

Add colorant to soap base

4. Add some colorant if desired. You can buy soap chips from suppliers or use natural powdered herbs such as turmeric, which creates a lovely butter to deep orange color, depending on how much you use. You can also try regular old food coloring.  Stir well until blended.
4. Pour into molds and allow to cool completely before popping out (an hour or two).
5. Wrap in cellophane to protect the glycerin, which is prone to “sweating” when exposed to humidity. I prefer to shrink wrap soaps, as they are best protected this way!

Variation:
1. Melt clear base in one pot and an opaque base in another. Add fragrance to both when removed from heat.

soap poured into molds

2. Pour a thin, clear layer into your molds and sprinkle some herbs or blossoms on top (lotus, chamomile, calendula, and rose, or lemongrass are all nice choices)
3. Once that is somewhat cooled down, pour the opaque base into the mold.

white base being poured into mold

white base being poured into mold

4. Cool, pop out of molds, and wrap in cellophane.

soap wrapped in celophane

Resources:
From Nature with Love (melt and pour soap, essential oils, fragrance oils)
Essential Wholesale (essential oils)
Bramble Berry Soap Soap Making Supplies (everything, including molds)
Sun Feather Natural Soap Company (everything, including molds)
organic orange soap scented with cardamom and other spices

Post written by Sarah Powell, proprietor of natural bath, body, and herbal product business, Lilith’s Apothecary.

DIY “Candy Corn” Stamps and Cards


Here’s a fun and easy Halloween card that you can make with very few materials.

You will need:

Two wine corks
Orange and yellow acrylic paint (you can also use a regular ink pad)
Hobby knife
Blank white paper (card stock is best)

1. Use your hobby knife to carve the top and bottom orange stripes of the candy corn shape. Start on the top of the cork and cut about 1/8″ to 1/4″ deep. Then cut in from the sides to remove the unwanted cork sections. Go slowly as the cork cuts very easily.

2. Out of the second cork, carve middle yellow stripe of the candy corn shape.
(See my photos for reference.)

3. Dip your 2-stripe cork into the orange paint. With some pressure, stamp it onto your card.

4. Dip your 1-stripe cork into the yellow paint. Aim for the middle of the two orange stripes and stamp.

5. Make a fun pattern with candy corns! They look almost good enough to eat.

*Note: you should do a few test stamps on a piece of scrap paper before you stamp your cards. Because corks have varying textures and planes, you will probably need to adjust the pressure or amount of paint.

Happy Halloween! – Kate Holeman from The Lettered Set

Almost Live from Swap O Rama Rama

Wow, we’re here at the Third Annual Swap O Rama Rama at the Navy Yard in the Urban Outfitters building (drive back to the end and take a right) and it is beautiful and amazing!  The building is huge and the tables are full of clothes and fabric. 

Handmade Philly’s team table will be helping visitors make monster pins and collage pins with all sorts of bobbles, pins, buttons, flowers, felt and fabric.

http://phillytravelnaturephoto.blogspot.com/2010/10/almost-live-from-swap-o-rama-rama.html

Come by today from 12-5

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