Meet The Brainstormers

Meet the Brainstormers…….This blog report comes from my notes and observations at the first meeting of The Brainstormers. Obviously everyone has their own perspective so details may be missing, but I do plan to get the facts straight.  Those of you who were also there can correct me in the comments! 

So we all met last week at the Steel Pony studio ( of Joanne Litz and her business partner/husband Dennis Wolk. What a gorgeous studio! Located on Reed Street in South Philly, I was mostly worried about finding a parking space on those narrow car filled streets.  But, hooray, there was an open space right across the street.  Of course I find out later that there is a free parking lot next door…  Note for all coming next time – free lot!

Once we felt everyone had arrived, we gathered at a rectangle table and began by introducing ourselves, our craft and what we hoped for and wanted out of the group.

Dennis, Joanne, Jeanne, Nicole

Jeanne Lombardo is the owner/artist of Intuition (, whose tagline is Funktional Art. She’d love to have a consignment shop someday and currently works in a commercial design firm by day.  

Nicole Bruno owns A Stitch in Design ( (Note from Nicole: PLEASE don’t look at that site!! It needs to be updated big time!).  Nicole is an accountant with an MBA and loves to sew, quilt and make items to give away as gifts but is at a point where she feels it’s time to focus on the selling.

Dana Henry was at one time a writer for Grid, a Philly magazine working towards a sustainable Philadelphia. As a freelance writer she looks at the workshop as a way to possibly put together a guide for small art/craft businesses to help them with their marketing plans in a writing style that is not business speak.  Something more like “Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World” by Isa  Moskowitz ( 

Ruth Schanbacher (our fearless Handmade Philly leader) talked about the history of Handmade Philly and how her interest lies in education and positive promotions for artisans.  Manufactured Dissent ( is an online magazine she created in 2007 for artists although she admits to not keeping it up lately.

I was next, Jan Cohen ( and spoke about finding my brand with the handbags I make.  I try to never buy any new fabrics.  By rescuing decorator fabrics from the landfill, constantly hunting down finds at Goodwill, Salvation Army and yard sales, I’ve “gone green”.  “Restyle ~ recycle” is on my card but how to make that new or different from ALL the others who are doing it also.  And yet, it is a popular but important theme……..

Next were Rachel and Jennifer representing Square Peg Artery & Salvage (, a handmade crafts and arts consignment shop at 108 South 20th St.   Rachel is the owner and likes to stay behind the scenes while running a tight ship.  She says Jen came by one day, introduced herself and seems to have never left!  A massage therapist in one part of her life, Jen is also a creator of soap products using all pure ingredients.  She says if you take each element out of her products they could all be eaten separately…….but probably not recommended. 

Jan, Jen

Dennis talked about his new line of handmade, hand sewn leather bags called Journey Bags (  He and Joanne have run Steel Pony for 17 years but in the last few years because of the economy, upscale wearable art has been harder to sell. They’ve done outdoor events, they’ve done indoor events.  They’ve had sales people but mostly now sell wholesale.  Joanne is starting to think about forming a co-op of artists who all have a vested interest in the business.

A really great, wide range of people, backgrounds, education, interests kept us talking and drinking wine (with healthy munchies) for over 3 hours until we decided that we’d meet again in April. We chose the last Wednesday of each month to brainstorm and figure out how to make it all work.  We decided to select business points from the agenda and have each member of the attending group sign up for one or more aspects that they feel they need help with.

healthy munchies!


We also agreed to allow a few more people in to round out the group a bit more, but wanted to keep the group as steady as possible. Workshops, books, shows, sales, business cards, photos……..all was brought up and dissected.  We definitely acknowledged that we might start with one theme but on any given gathering anything is open for discussion. 

And there was lots of laughs too as we got to know each other and found it comfortable to talk to other people who share your own ideas with a feeling that we were creating a great opportunity for all of us. We hope everyone can benefit from these brainstorms!

‘Til April 28th at 7:00.

Spring Flowering

Just a wee bit of color pushing through the wintry landscape…perhaps a tinge of gold at peel of a birch, a glimmer of purple-hued crocus sparkling on the forest floor, dewy moss casting a brilliant green to the edge of a creek, or the whisper of a snow drop petal’s sweet welcome. All of these things bring a feeling of renewal, revitalization, and quiet awakening as we emerge from our wintry dens to feel the balmy new breezes of springtime. In perusing the artistic coffers of Philadelphia artisans, I found the following gold-tinged blossoming gems. That delicate eruption of color from the milky whites and frothy cream is enough to remind me that warmth is nigh, even if I still have to pull my hood up over my head for a few more weeks.


These absolutely stunning fairy wings are the exquisite, careful work of Rebecca Dixon, proprietor of etsy shop, Up from the Ashes I just hope that one day I can become the owner of one of these accessories to fantasy delight!

Grace Christie's lovely 'Rain' earrings

Grace Christie's lovely 'Rain' earrings

No one can deny the striking beauty of Grace Christie’s bejeweled creations. Like the afternoon sunlight filtering through a light spring drizzle, these earrings sparkle with a many hued light. You can find Grace Christie at her etsy site of the same name.

Sew Fragrant's Little Birdie

Sew Fragrant's Little Birdie

A delightful touch of whimsy for the Easter Basket, the Baby Shower, or any other event that delivers – in hushed tones, perhaps – spring growth, new growth, little birdie growth and happily, the arrival of little ones. Philly artisan, Patti, gives us all the chance to offer such sweet gifts at her shop Sew Fragrant.

SayHiBeth's adorable vintage magnets

SayHiBeth's adorable vintage magnets

What says ‘spring’ more than the hurry of little girls to begin skipping rope outside. I might not be little, but it seems pretty appealing to me! And I will say that for the two and a half year olds like my daughter, nothing is more appealing than getting out of doors at long last. And for such joyous weather! Say Hi Beth’s etsy shop is full of all kinds of wonderful vintage magnet sets. It won’t be long before some of these adorn my own fridge.

Harvest Sky Ring

Harvest Sky Ring

I know, I know, the name of this ring is “Harvest Sky” but who can mistake that clear blue of springtime, the golden branches merely a hold over from winter bareness, their silhouettes bathed in the hazy light following a light shower? Well, I can pretend. Isn’t that the glory of art? We see what we want to see. My stepmother already wears one of Dierdre Ryan’s photo rings, and many more can be found at her etsy shop, blackbird72.

Jen McCleary's picture postcard

Jen McCleary's picture postcard

For someone who delights in collage, Jen McCleary seems to have no end to the creative expanses of her imagination. Her artwork jewelry pieces are completely original and beautiful to behold, especially in person. And what’s this? Wonderful postcard prints of her collaged art pieces. And for a dollar? Astounding. Sign me up! And you, too, dear reader, should visit her shop for more. Find her at etsy under the name JenMcCleary

New springtime creations are all around us! Look for us locally area events, including the Trenton Avenue Arts Festival and the Fishtown Shad Fest for new, interesting, and endlessly creative creations.

Lilith's Apothecary glycerin soaps

Lilith's Apothecary glycerin soaps

Sarah Powell, is a medical anthropologist, herbalist, crafter, and the sole proprietor of the natural bath, body & herbal tea business, Lilith’s Apothecary.

Photos from August’s Team Meeting

Posted On August 18, 2008

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Cbeauty Interview

[Interview conducted by Sarah Greiner.]

What is your name, and where are you from?

My name is Mary and I live in Philadelphia with my boyfriend and 2 dogs. I grew up right outside of West Philadelphia. I moved into the city about 2 years ago.

What is your day job, i.e. what do you do when you are not creating beautiful work to sell on Etsy?

I am currently looking for a job. I am a psychology student and am currently applying to graduate programs.

Your Etsy Store is called CBeauty, does that have any significance?

I named my shop Cbeauty because I want to remind people to take the time to look around and see the beauty that is all around us.

I noticed in your profile that you say you have never taken classes in jewelry making or design. How did you learn to create your jewelry?

I started off making hemp jewelry. Then I was at an art show with my parents and one of the dealers was selling strands of pearls. I decided to buy a couple of strand to mess around with. I used the internet and written resources to teach myself to make jewelry. It took a lot of practice and trial and error, but now I can make professional quality jewelry.

Your Etsy store has two very different types of products; jewelry and stencil work. Do you prefer creating one of them to the other?

I get into moods. Sometimes for a few weeks I will purely work on paintings and stencil work. Then I will get an idea for a piece of jewelry and I will work mostly on that for a little while. I really enjoy creating both kinds of art, along with many other arts and crafts items.

Do you do any other craft or fine art that we have not yet seen in your store?

I do a little bit of everything, but mostly what you see. I have experimented with fabric, scrap booking, sketching, photography, candle making, mixed media and dream catcher making. I am always looking to learn new art techniques and constantly trying to incorporate different elements to all of my art.

When did you become involved with Etsy and how did you hear about it?

I opened my Etsy shop in September. I found out about Etsy when I was set up at The Big Art Show in University City. I had been sitting there all day without a sale and someone who was looking at my art said to me, “You should sell your stuff on Etsy.” I looked into what Etsy was as soon as I got home and decided to try it.

How long have you been a Philly Etsy Team member?

I have been involved with the Philly Etsy Team for about 3 months.

Have you ever had the chance to sell your work at a craft fair or table? If so, did you like the experience? If not, would you like to?

I have sold at a few craft fairs. I haven’t sold much at any of the shows I have set up at but I do want to continue to try. Hopefully my luck with sales will turn around soon!

What sorts of things inspire you?

I am inspired by everything, but especially by nature, loved ones, and other art / artists.

What artists do you admire?

I have many artists I admire. It almost seems unfair to just pick a few, but if I had to name some I definitely have to include Warhol, Howard Finster, and Keith Haring. I also greatly admire the unknown yet incredible street artists, who give their art to the world on a regular basis even though it is constantly covered, torn down, and destroyed. The street artists that I admire the most are Stikman, Bob Will Reign, Space Invader, D*face, Banksy, Blek le Rat, and Swoon to name a few. If you want to know more about street art you can check out a couple sites dedicated to the art form – and

Where do you find the supplies that you use in your pieces?

A lot of the supplies I use are things I find, have laying around, or have been given to me. I also buy a lot of supplies at Home Depot, AC Moore, and Pearl Art Supplies. I get my jewelry supplies mostly online, and I get my high quality pearls at buyers’ marts and craft fairs.

What do you think about the handmade revolution?

I think buying handmade is a great idea. It can, of course, be difficult and expensive at times, but I think it is very important to support independent artists and crafters as much as possible.

If you could be an animal what would you be?

Hhhhhmmm… That’s a tough one. I guess if I would be any animal I would want to be a phoenix. I know that is a mythical creature and that might be cheating, but that’s what I would want to be. =)

What is your favorite book, movie or music?

Favorite book = I love psychological non-fiction. One of my favorites is When Rabbit Howls by Trudy Chase.

Movie = I like dark comedies and drama mostly. I love movies like Nightmare Before Christmas, Fight Club, and Momento.

Music = I mostly listen to heavy metal and industrial, but I enjoy many different types of music. My favorite would have to be Don McClosky (he is an amazing local singer song writer, you should definitely check him out!), NIN, StainD, Slipknot, and G Love.

If you could tell people one thing about yourself that nobody knew, what would it be?

I am an emotional person. I put a little piece of myself into everything I make. It might sound cliché but I truly make art because I love it. I just wish others loved it enough to buy some of it.

Cbeauty’s etsy shop:

Welcome to the Philadelphia Etsy Team Blog!

Posted On August 10, 2007

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The Philadelphia Etsy Team will have a Meet and Greet Welcome Session at the Mew Gallery on Friday, August 17, at 6:30pm. At this meeting, we hope to make some decisions as to the goals for our team and get to know each other, as well as make some logistical decisions, like finding a convenient means of keeping in touch.

If you’d like to join the team, you can email with “Philly Street Team” in the subject (please include your Etsy username in the email!) or simply attend the meeting on Aug. 17.