Handmade Philly MeetUp: April!


GG: Handmade Holiday Shopping

Happy Thanksgiving everyone (in the US anyway)!!

The beginning of the holiday season is the most fun for me. I have yet to get all turkey-ed out, yet to be annoyed by all the shopping traffic and yet to be stressed that I didn’t get all the gifts I need. This is the most fun time to just peruse all the lovely items out there to see what might be the most fun present for each of my recipients. So I hope you don’t think I’m too early with this holiday shopping spree guide! Enjoy scrolling through all these great items and know, you have pleeeenty of time to pick up items for everyone on your list!

Stained Glass Mosaic Candle Holder from Earth Mother Mosaics

Phrenology Pillow from Thimbletop

All Purpose Skin Healing Salve from Lilith’s Apothecary

Vintage Pendant from Light Mosaics

Fabric Kit to make her Block Holder Books (found in the Fresh Fabric Treats Moda Bake Shop Book) from Jaybird Quilts

Scones from Kitchen Witch Cookie

Earrings from Glamorosi

Bracelet from Clare McDermott

Soaps for him from Mamoucha Soaps

Original collage from 111CollageDesign

Necklace from PleaseBikeThanks

Serving platter from Little Flower Designs

Earrings from Finch and Flower

Visor beanie from Mels Bells

Flower notecards from Allison Ostertag

Journal from Blue Toad

Many many many more items available here! Happy holidays to you and yours!

~Nicole Bruno, A Stitch in Design

Gift Guide: White Before Labor Day

Ah, summer! I hope everyone across this great land is enjoying summer and all its joys! Since we’re well before Labor Day, I thought I’d put together a gift guide featuring the most crisp of summers colors – white. So please scroll down to check out the great options from your fellow Handmade Philly members.

Teacup from Teaspoons & Petals

Coasters from Beccaroon

Matted Photo from Bonnie McAllister

Collage Print from 111 Collage Design

Clutch from Momo Trees

Necklace from Rachel Shoshana

Bracelet from MWM Designs

Shea Butter Soap from Mamoucha Soaps

Shawl from Elegant Crochets

Necklace from Kensington Supply Co.

Photograph from Allison Ostertag

Optician Pendant from Jen McCleary

Angel Wings from Up From The Ashes

Notecards from Mollie Dog Paper

What a great selection of white items!! Don’t forget to check out the other multicolored items available here.

~Nicole Bruno, A Stitch in Design

Fall in love with autumn!

I am so in love with fall. For me, it’s the greatest time of the year! I love the feeling of a fresh start, the chill to the air, and the crunch underfoot. It’s also a spectacular prelude to the winter chaos to come (I hope! :)). In the spirit of fall, back to school, and all those fabulous jewel tones, I’ve gathered some wonderful items for this month’s gift guide. Enjoy!

If you’re anything like me, every year you get a small tinge of wishing you were heading back to school. The semi-free days, the falling leaves, the term papers… Even if you’re not heading back to the books, pick up this awesome little notepad to remind you of days of yore (waaaay before we typed papers on our laptops) available from Mollie Dog Paper.

You can never have too many pieces of jewelry! Add to your fall collection and pick up this great little bracelet available from d’Olivia Jewelry.

I’m sure you’ve all heard about the stink bug epidemic coming to a house near you this fall! Grab this onesie featuring a similar but much cuter bug for your little one by Superdeduper.

Looking for a utility necklace that you can wear with your work clothes and your evening gown? Purchase this fantastic necklace from Chandeluse and you’ll always have coordinating jewelry.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been on a redecorating kick this month. Update your house or apartment quickly by swapping out the light switch covers. This one would work perfectly in my sewing room but Aurora21112 has tons of others, check out her shop!

It’s extremely hard for me to get through an entire gift guide without choosing a food item. And fall is no different! Pick up an order (or two!) of these delicious pierogies from Polish Goodness. Not a fan of pierogies? Try their pulled pork instead!

I find myself curling up in a chair and reading a ton of books in the fall. And as an avid reader, I’m always on the lookout for a fun new bookmark. Check out this item from The Rebirth of Nyela – a custom painted bookmark! It’s like having your own travel sized custom created artwork snug between the pages.

Fall also brings the return of indoor concerts. And what better item to sport to said concerts than this awesome tiara from Up from the Ashes. I can just see the lights bouncing off the stars now!

Snag these deep green earrings from Wydinya Studio to compliment any fall outfit. Not digging the color? She offers a few different options for these lovelies so check out her shop!

Whew, it’s going to be hard to keep my bonus money in my pocket this upcoming October (I told you I love fall!!) with all these gorgeous handcrafted items available from the wonderful artists in Handmade Philly.

Don’t forget about the many offerings from the wonderful members of Handmade Philly!

Suggestions, ideas, critiques, or feedback? Leave it in the comments! Thanks for reading!

~Nicole Bruno, A Stitch in Design

Meet Anna Holler of Fiber Gut

1.      Would you introduce yourself, your background and about the origins of your work.

My name is Anna Holler.   I’m a Philadelphia based artist and mum to two little girls.  At some point in my early 20’s I walked into a fabric store and picked up a few yards of fabric, a needle, thread, some elastic and a few buttons and went home to make a vision come to life.  It took months to stitch together one skirt, but each article of clothing that I made was a true work of art.  As soon as I was able to scrape together the money, I ran out and bought myself a little sewing machine.  It was nothing fancy, but it got the job done.  Soon, I was running home from work and classes to force my imagination out into the tangible, real world.  Before long I was only wearing clothes that I made and soon after I was putting together custom outfits for friends, which was naturally followed by selling them to strangers.  This was before the days of Etsy, when having my own website seems like a tech-savvy impossibility.  At this point I would sign up to vend at music festivals all over the east coast and travel with my dresses, a tent and a table at all times. 

After my children were born, I found it very difficult to sew.  I’m the sort of seamstress who abandons all sense of time when she’s designing and I lose myself in the process.  With two tiny daughters to care for, I was too tired to clean up the tornado of a craft space and lacked the motivation to do much more than watch TV at the end of my night.  It was around this time that I became interested in knitting.

I ran out to my local craft store and bought myself one of those “teach yourself to knit” kits.   I read it and taught myself (sort of.)  Soon I learned that this book was impossible to follow.  I signed up for a few lessons from a local yarn shop and realized that I had taught myself incorrectly and had to relearn every stitch and technique.  I also discovered what beautiful yarn is. 

2. What do you think makes your work different?

One of the things that is unique about my work is that I do not use patterns.  I work from imagination, which makes each of my articles entirely unique.  It is a creation, rather than a replication.   I value this a lot in my art. 

3.)  What are the things you do best?

I have a real knack for color.  I love bright colors and rich fibers.  The yarn I use tends to be locally spun because I feel committed to supporting Philadelphia’s local artists.  If it is locally spun, it is pure heaven.  Choosing yarn is something of a religious, spiritual experience for me.  I don’t actually feel as though I choose it at all.  It chooses me.  Or, at least that’s what I tell my husband when I come home from Loop with an empty wallet and a guilty conscience.  “I was powerless!!!!”  Sometimes I struggle with the yarn that I use.  It’s usually incredibly expensive, which means that I have to raise the prices of my goods.  This is the dark side of crafting for me and I hate it. 

In these pictures you see the green cowl that is an adjustable neck warmer, hand-knitted with Spud and Chloe organic silk and cotton yarn.  It’s embellished with blue crystals.  The other one is a chunky neckwarmer made from merino wool and embellished with a large, yellow, wooden button.

4.) How has the popularity of the internet effected your business.

 The Internet brings great possibility.  I am still very tech-scared and so I haven’t utilized the great and vast powers of the e-world as I should.  I’m working on overcoming my electronic fear and making some positive changes in this respect. 

5.)  What is your workspace like?

One of the things that makes knitting such a great art for me is it’s ability to work on the go.  My work place is seriously the world.  It is my couch as I’m cuddled up with my dog and husband.  It’s the passenger seat of a car.  It’s the waiting room of a Dr’s office.  It’s in a coffee shop with a friend.  Some of my nicest pieces have been developed on airplane rides.  I don’t store much yarn because I tend to use it all right away.  Even my scraps are crafted into small embellishments.  And my knitting needles are constantly being misplaced and left behind.  I should probably find a better way of storing them! 

5. How did you come up with the name Fiber Gut for your etsy shop?

The name Fiber Gut began as Gutsy Girl Fibers and was later shortened to Gutsy Fibers.  I wasn’t comfortable with this name, and my husband suggested Fiber Gut.  I like it.  It sounds tough (and I’m pretty tough.  “Grrrrrrrrrrrrarah.“)  

6. What are your plans for 2010?

This year I’d like to see my Etsy shop grow a bit and become more disciplined as an artist.  I’d also like to begin incorporating my partings and decoupage projects in my shop.  I’m very interested in participating in Project Linus as well.  (http://www.projectlinus.org/)  It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do but haven’t made the time for yet. 

Newly, I’ve become aware of Handmade Philly and am interested in participating in the group.  I see so many fun craft events listed and would really like to display my art in this respect. 

I do tend to become incredibly focused on one thing at a time… but I am constantly creating.  Whether my creations be people, food, fabric or yarn… I am always involved in something that is in the process of becoming and evolving.  I do not like to follow other people’s directions, and so I suppose that I am pretty good at implementing my own visions and making them tangible, beautiful things. 

You can find more of Anna’s beautiful things at her etsy shop.  http://www.etsy.com/shop/mamaholler
 and check her out on facebook.  http://www.facebook.com/#!/MamaHoller?ref=ts

Hope you enjoyed another interview and thanks for reading — Jan www.thejmccollection,com

Interview with Light Mosaic

1. Would you introduce yourself, your background and tell how Light Mosaics came to be, and what you do.

 My name is Lisa Hwang. By day, I telecommute as a Financial Consolidation Analyst for IBM. I have joint custody of my 14 year old son, who is an aspiring golfer, and care for 3 lovable dogs (except the 10 month old puppy is a bit of a terror right now). Although, I have been doing finance/accounting for 16 years, I have always dabbled and tried to tap into my inner creativity. I started with B&W photography back in college at Drexel University. I took fashion sketching and handbag/shoe design classes at Moore College of Art. Then, I finished 5 classes towards an Interior Design degree at the Art Institute but realized it was going to cost way too much.

While living in Brooklyn, NY, I took ceramics and knitting classes but it was too hand intensive and repetitive for me (I have problems with my wrist stemming from many years of working on the laptop).   So, I dabbled a lot and couldn’t seem to find my niche until a few years ago when I bought a mosaic kit.

I created Light Mosaics and decided to use my Chinese middle name I-Kwang which means “Harmonious Light” for my shop’s name and logo.   

I am a self taught mosaic artist and have been creating mosaic candle holders and vases for a few years for my friends and family. In October 2009, as the holidays were approaching, I couldn’t make these items for the same people, so I decided to try to sell it to the public.   I launched an etsy shop, networked through facebook, placed my items in three shops around the city and participated in 3 holiday craft fairs. I also expanded my product line and started making pendants, rings and wall hanging jewelry holders.  









2. What are your strengths and what makes your work different than others?

 “Mosaic is the art of creating images with an assemblage of small pieces of colored glass, stone, or other materials.”   I think my work has a unique style. I like the gritty and non-standardized look of my mosaic candle holders and vases. I like to use various colors, and I am biased to using white grout because it makes the colors pop out more.   My rings and pendants are designed with the mosaic concept in mind.   The jewelry holders that I make are not related to mosaics but it was something that I designed and made for myself.   I have never seen anything out there like that so I thought I would start marketing and selling them.   What female wouldn’t want a jewelry holder that holds almost everything in one place?

jewelry holder


soap dish

pink vase






 3. Tell me about your workspace.   


My workspace is my dining room table. Luckily, the table expands 2 leaflets if I need to actually use it. Most of my supplies are tucked away inside a closet and cabinet in the dining room area. I hop between my full time job workspace (on the right) and the dining room table throughout the day.








4. How has the popularity of the internet affected your business?

The internet holds a wealth of information and it is also a good communication tool. Facebook has been my primary site for finding information on local craft fairs and networking with other artists. Etsy.com is a good site to sell your work but it seems like you have to be really lucky to be successful. There are over 170,000 shops on this site! From my own personal experience, when I go to search for an item, tons of pages come up. After flipping through 10 -15 pages, I just stop and get frustrated if I can not find something I like at the right price. Artists have to relist or list new items constantly to be noticed.

5. What are your plans for 2010?

For 2010,  I will be doing craft fairs in the spring, summer and fall about once a month either for the Creative Collective at Headhouse Square on South Street or the Piazza at the Schmidts in Northern Liberties.   I have to limit the amount of fairs that I do because I can not make products fast enough because of the process and it’s a busy time of the year for me with my son’s golf tournaments and practices.   But, I would like to break even financially and continue to remain a presence in the Philadelphia artist and crafting community.

You can find more of Lisa’s items at: 




Thanks for reading this fourth interview in my series, Jan Cohen, www.thejmccollection.com

Interview with Gigglepotamus

1. Would you introduce yourself, your background and how Gigglepotamus came to be.

My name is Lauren Meakim, and I am lucky enough to stay at home with my 3 little boys, Maxfield (6), Wyatt (3½), and Jackson (1). They are really the reason & the inspiration behind Gigglepotamus. I graduated from the Tyler School of Art with a degree in Graphic Design & Illustration. I always saw myself going into children’s book illustration, but I don’t think I was really prepared right out of school to tackle the competitiveness of the freelance world. I still have no idea how one goes about getting a book deal!

Anyway, art always remained in my life in one form or another, but it wasn’t until I was expecting my first son that I started noticing an interest in fabric. One thing led to another, and before I knew it, I was making simple quilts and baby items. That was over six years ago, and its amazing how much I’ve learned and grown in that time. I’ve since returned to my roots and added prints and paintings to the collection of items I sell.

2. I want to ask you about your collection on Etsy but first tell me about your avatar.


Well, my husband was working on a post for his own blog (http://www.poopandboogies.com) one day. I can’t remember specifics, but he was gluing googly eyes onto his chin with peanut butter & filming himself upside down doing some silly act. Of course, the kids wanted in on it, so we let them have a go & I snapped that picture of my oldest. I guess it depicts how I want Gigglepotamus to be perceived- lighthearted and fun, so I decided to use it as my avatar.

3. And the humble houses on Etsy are adorable. Tell me how they got into your collection and how you create them.

humble house

The houses came about after what seems like years of trying to find a way to merge my art & craft.  When we were planning my youngest son’s nursery, I got the idea to hang a set of colorful little houses in a row above his window.  I started playing around with some scrap wood and paint, and liked what was happening.  The first ones were a bit different than what they’ve evolved into. Now I use more muted colors and although I think they’re just as whimsical, I also think they now reflect more of my personality.  I guess I sort of had a breakthrough moment when I started adding text to them, and from there, it was only a matter of time before they took on their own little stories.  All of the decoupaged images are reproductions of my paintings.  Several layers of paint and sanding are worked over repurposed wood to give them a weathered patina. Finally, some details are finished off with a woodburning tool for added dimension.  I’ve always been a fan of small format art, so they seem to be a good fit for me. 

4. What other items have you sold on Etsy?

I sell a lot of hats in the fall & winter, so I probably won’t list any for a while, although I do have bunny hats, like the one in this photo, that are available for spring/Easter.

bunny hat

 The prints are mixed media: acrylic paint, fabric, and text from storybooks.  Both the prints pictured use excerpts from The Velveteen Rabbit, a story which I also use quite often for my houses. 



 5. If you could pick one thing you do best, what would that be?

The one thing would be that I have a good eye for color and design. It’s just something that comes naturally to me. I rely a lot on my drawing background, and lately I’ve been incorporating it more with other elements, such as text, fabric, found objects, etc.  I like to think my work is different, because it comes from me, plain and simple. 

6. Tell me about your workspace.


I am very fortunate to have an extra bedroom in our house which is dedicated to all of my crafty endeavors. The photo shows my sewing desk & cutting table. What it doesn’t show is the horrible mess that doesn’t really ever go away! I like to think of it as organized chaos. Other than that, I have another work table, a LOT of fabric, and an ironing board that stays out. As of late, even though I said I would never do this, I have also taken over my dining room table as an area to produce my paintings and humble houses.

7. How has the popularity of the internet affected your business?

I think at this point, I would be crippled without the internet. I use it for everything from doing my taxes, to connecting with other artists, researching what shows and competitions to do, and finding inspiration. Even though it’s been around for a while, so many of us artists are just starting to scratch the surface of the possibilities for networking, marketing, and exposure. I can’t say that I do a lot of internet sales, but I’m so grateful to have my little blog address so customers that I meet at shows can follow me and see what I’m up to, and where I’ll be next. And of course, the Handmade Philly group has provided tons of valuable feedback, information, and advice to myself and others like me.

8. So, what are your plans for the rest of 2010?

I always joke that I have way more ideas than I do time, but this year I would like to focus even more on my paintings and drawings. I also would like to develop some wholesale accounts and/or more consignment relationships, so that I can spend more time making stuff, and less time out at shows. I love getting out and meeting customers and other artists, but it is incredibly difficult being away from my family on weekends.

You can see more of Lauren’s creations and read her blog at these links

Etsy: www.gigglepotamus.etsy.com

Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gigglepotamus/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Gigglepotamus/173094083894

WordPress: http://www.gigglepotamus.wordpress.com

This is third in a continuing series of interviews, let me know what you think. 

Jan Cohen, http://www.thejmccollection.com

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