Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The painting I referred to way back in the spring...

Something new to replace "Polar Bear in a Snow Storm", as referred to in "New Year, New You" posting earlier this year - this is the painting I ended up doing:

And here is the original scene, from a street my husband and I visited during our honeymoon in Quebec City, while looking for cheese:

Quebec cheese is amazing.  Now I'm hungry...

P.S. We did not find cheese here.  We pulled off the highway on the way back to Ontario and visited Fromagerie Bergeron, and attempted to order in French.  Luckily they understand pointing and measuring with one's fingers...

Everything old is new again!

Judging by the kind of custom orders I've been getting recently, everyone has a stash of broken/outdated/mismatched/vintage jewelry that they may enjoy but cannot wear.  It may not occur to some, but these bits and pieces of treasure that may or may not have sentimental meaning can be transformed into wearable art again in the hands of a jewelry artisan willing to take on the task for you.  A jewelry artisan like myself, for instance!

One friend in particular (thanks Marie!) has kept me occupied over the last two years by periodically bringing me a ziploc baggy filled with old necklaces and bits of beads from her family members.  From these bits rescued from the back of her closet, I have made quite a few new necklaces for her twin daughters to take off to university, a necklace and earring set for a niece, as well as bracelets & earrings of all descriptions.  Marie has been so pleased with the results that she keeps finding more old pieces for me to work with, and she recently gave me the "heads up" that she gave another friend of hers my card to take on some future work for her!

I guess Marie got the idea from me, when I mentioned receiving jewelry boxes filled with odds and ends of costume jewelry from both of my late grandmothers.  Some things were good to use as I found them, but other pieces (broken necklaces, earrings without their twin, hideous styles from a bygone era, necklaces made for people with teeny-tiny little necks, and the old clip-on earrings) , although interesting, could only be worn again after a complete overhaul.  So I set to work converting old clip-ons into pierced earrings where possible.  I restrung tiny multi-strand necklaces into long, modern styles.  I repaired some brooches as I was able, replacing missing rhinestones, etc.  And when I was done, I shared these new pieces with all the girls in the family!  It meant a lot to them to have something made from one of grandma's pieces!  I even created a rosary for my aunt's husband who was Catholic, and very close to my grandmother - an unusual but acceptible way to present a man with beads from a woman's necklace!

One necklace from my grandmother was in really bad shape, but I always loved the beads and thought I'd do something special with it someday.  That day came last year when I was married! 

Turns out the beads matched my wedding dress perfectly (don't you think?) so I created a simple necklace and earrings for my special day.  It meant a lot to wear something new that day that just so happened to be created with something old that once belonged to my grandmother.

So think about what you might have lying around in a drawer somewhere - maybe I can create something new for you!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

You're makin' a list, and checkin' it...twice?

Greetings! Gee, no postings since April, huh? Well, if your year has been anything like mine, it has flown by and once again we find ourselves face to face with that time of year - the really, really busy one!

To help you out during this busy time, here are some great gift ideas compiled by Margo, and featuring handmade treasures by our local artisan members:

- watch with coloured chainmaille band

- cream mohair snood with matching infinity scarf

- monster finger puppets

- large hot chocolate/tea mugs

- sterling silver cuff links

- Kooljammer lunch carriers

- hemp chokers for boys

- abstract stained glass window panel

- felted kitty playballs and doggy tug toys

- tea cozy and runner set

- camouflage pencil cases and carry bags for “stuff”

- baby mats and hair barrettes

- super long necklaces

- felted mitts (a cold winter is forecasted!)

- soapstone spirit carving of a loon

- handblown glass wine bottle toppers (add the wine!)

- maple fruit bowl

- beach glass jewellery

- Circuit Kitty cyber clock

- letter opener

- holiday earrings (trees, labs with Santa caps, penguins, )

- original Christmas ornaments ( stained glass, felted, glass, wood, Fimo, knit)

- original greeting cards (frameable, and great for money gifts!)

Don't forget to pick up a "little something" for the teacher, the sitter, your Mom 2 Mom group, paper delivery person, hairdresser, the kid's coach, your nice neighbour who sometimes shovels your sidewalk...

And you don't want to arrive at that house party empty-handed - pair a fresh wheel of Brie with a beautiful handcrafted pottery Brie baker from Textures!


-Repairs & restyling of jewellery
-Gift wrapping & boxes
-Gift certificates, layaways, Visa, Mastercard, debit

Happy holidays to all

from the artisans at Textures!
Address: 236 Locke St S (at Charleton)
Phone: 905-523-0636
December Hours: M-F: 10-9 Sat: 10-6 Sun: 10-5
Follow us on Twitter:
And for all the latest events and photos,
Join our Facebook group, Friends of Textures.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Change it up a little!

It is a fact that most people I know who are creative in any way manifest their creativity in multiple ways. I guess that this quality just can't be contained!

When you are a creative person, you are not satisfied to just pursue one creative outlet - you are nourished by trying many different things.

As a member of Textures Craftworks, an artisan cooperative shop in Hamilton, I have been known as someone who has had her hand in many different things - I started out making jewelry from seeds, beans, tree bark, and all manner of other cheap and handy materials. I also did a line of humourous greeting cards, had a line of painted floorcloths for a while, and created various little characters out of old corks! The flying nuns and little Elvis-es seemed to be most popular. I used to work in the hotel industry, and I had people for miles around saving their corks for me, so I still have a large drawer full of those. I also created creatures from dried gourds, such as penguins, chickens, and cats.

I have also dabbled in needlework (needlepoint, crewel embroidery, etc.), taught myself to knit and crochet, and have done sewing, but that is one area I have never been drawn to. Must be why I no longer work in Theatre doing wardrobe! And speaking of Theatre, I started my professional career as a special effects makeup artist.

I say "started my professional career" because I didn't stay there for long before moving on to other things. Have often wondered if I was a "flake" because my career took so many twists and turns, and I have done so many different things for a living. I currently work as an administrator in a university P.R. office, and I think I have finally found somewhere I can stay for a while. Although the main part of the job is routine, there are so many variables each day that you never know what you will be asked next, and this seems to suite my creative bent.

Over the years I think I have come to realize that the creative person - and I do consider myself that - needs to keep exploring new vistas, and changing things up to keep life interesting. Whether it is in my "day job" or in my "creative life", I now know I have to keep exploring new outlets. Just not sewing.

All the creative things I used to do at Textures 10 years ago when I became a member of the group have since fallen away. I have developed skill as a jewelry artisan over the last few years, and have been working more and more with traditional jewelry materials like beads, crystals and stones, and I still enjoy making jewelry.

However, I have started thinking lately that it is time to try my hand at something new again. In the last week, I have put my brushes to canvas and have finally started filling in the big blank canvas that has been parked over my couch for the last year. Who knows where this may lead? Just not to sewing...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

CPSIA--not just an American Issue threatening handmade articles

CPSIA--this is NOT just an american issue
Although I am a Canadian, and my products are all created by myself here in Grimsby Ontario Canada, I do sell my products to a number of boutiques in the U.S.A. I also sell my products directly to an increasing number of American customers who have searched for my products as a unique and safe alternative to the mass-produced imported accessories and products for children. For myself, this new bill is inconvenient. The majority of my sales are still Canadian based. For my American peers however, this bill will effectively terminate their home-based businesses. How does this affect us? It limits our choices as parents and consumers. The tests that have been proposed are too costly for the average small business. (over $400 EACH TEST from Feb 10 through August . In August 2009, stricter "third party" testing will be required. The more involved testing in august will cost crafters over $1000 for each test.) There are currently no locations in North America approved for third party testing--apparently items will have to be shipped to facilities in China (the country where the majority of lead-tainted products have originated from..)As a mother I am not against stricter testing. I want the very best for my own child as well as yours and I treat every item I create with the greatest care that can be imagined. I do not bring materials into my home that I suspect would be harmful to my child or any other child. This is not a problem with the individuals who create unique one-of-a-kind handcrafted items. My suppliers have already started testing their products and there has not been a single item that has raised concern regarding lead,phthalates or any other banned material. Their testing is not sufficient under the new bill. Each and every one of my items will need to be tested (each design, each color) as a finished product should I choose to continue to sell in the USA.The spirit of this original bill was to protect the public from the careless and cheap mass-production of toys and children's items by large faceless corporations. Many of whom have outsourced their production to the cheapest bidder with little or no supervision of the materials used in their manufacture. Recent recalls have created a knee-jerk effect within a public that has grown frightened of the increasing number of perils facing our children from toys to luncheon meat and peanut butter.If you think that this is only an American issue please reconsider the long reaching effects that this bill may have for us all.Here is a "blog" entry from a fellow "etsykids" team member. She has asked that I share it with you:As parents and concerned citizens I’m sure most of us at one time or another have been confronted with the question of lead poisoning. But have you asked yourself what your government is doing to protect your children from lead contained in toys? The answer? They're banning toys, taking books from schools and libraries, hurting low income families, killing entrepreneurial spirit and risking putting the economy in an even greater depression than we've seen in decades. I'd like to introduce you to their solution: the CPSIA.Do you know about the CPSIA? No? Then I ask you to take a few minutes to find out about it.The CPSIA stands for Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, a new set of laws that will come into effect on 10 February, 2009 and will impact many, many people in a negative way. Make no mistake, this is very real. View it for yourself. If Forbes, the American Library Association and numerous other media are paying attention, perhaps you should too. How will these new laws affect you? Well, here are a few examples: To the Parents of Young Students:Due to the new law, expect to see the cost of school supplies sky rocket. While those paper clips weren't originally intended for your student to use, they will need to be tested now that your 11-year-old needs them for his school project. This law applies to any and all school supplies (textbooks, pencils, crayons, paper, etc.) being used by children under 12.To the Avid Reader:Due to the new law, all children's books will be pulled from library and school shelves, as there is no exemption for them. That’s okay though, there's always television. Our children don’t need to learn the love of reading after all.Article from the American Library Association the Lover of All Things Handmade:Due to the new law, you will now be given a cotton ball and an instruction manual so you can make it yourself since that blanket you originally had your eye on for $50 will now cost you around $1,000 after it's passed testing. It won't even be the one-of-a-kind blanket you were hoping for. Items are destroyed in the testing process making one-of-a-kind items virtually impossible. So that gorgeous hand-knit hat you bought your child this past winter won’t be available next winter.To the Environmentalist:Due to the new law, all items in non-compliance will now be dumped into our already overflowing landfills. Imagine not just products from the small business owners, but the Big Box Stores as well. You can't sell it so you must toss it. Or be potentially sued for selling it. You can't even give them away. If you are caught, it is still a violation.To the Second-Hand Shopper:Due to the new law, you will now need to spend $20 for that brand new pair of jeans for your 2-year old, rather than shop at the Goodwill for second hand. Many resale shops are eliminating children's items all together to avoid future lawsuits.To the Entrepreneur:Due to this new law, you will be forced to adhere to strict testing of your unique products or discontinue to make and/or sell them. Small businesses will be likely to be unable to afford the cost of testing and be forced to close up shop. Due to the current economic state, you'll have to hope for the best when it comes to finding a new job in Corporate America. To the Antique Toy Collector:Due to the new law, you'd better start buying now because it's all going to private collection and will no longer be available to purchase. “Because the new rules apply retroactively, toys and clothes already on the shelf will have to be thrown out if they aren't certified as safe.” the American Economy:Already struggling under an economy that hasn’t been this weak in decades, the American economy will be hit harder with the inevitable loss of jobs and revenues from suppliers, small businesses and consumers. The required testing is far too costly and restrictive for small businesses or individuals to undertake. To the Worldwide Economy:Due to this new law, many foreign manufacturers have already pulled out of the US market. You can imagine the impact of this on their businesses. If you think this is exaggerating, here is a recent article from Forbes for those of you prepared to be stupefied and boggled, The New Law you know? If this upsets or alarms you, please react.

New Year, New You

Well, the holidays are finally over, and we are smack dab in the middle of the dog days of winter. That almost makes it sound better than it is because dogs are pretty cute for the most part, and usually a lot of fun. However, winters in Hamilton are not all that. (Is that even said by anyone anymore? I am about to turn 45, after all, so no one is accusing me of being "hip" these days - just waiting for my first "ma'am" at the grocery store).

Anyway, since the Christmas sales rush appears to have subsided and orders for new jewelry are at a minimum, it is a perfect time to think about organizing one's work space and making sure everything is where it should be before things start to pick up again.

Emma the cat has got the ball rolling for me by "reorganizing" the tub full of beads and spilling them from one end of my office to the other. An hour or two of crawling around on my hands and knees and (I think) all the beads are now picked out of the carpet.

I did start by organizing all my beads and putting things from previous projects back in their respective containers. Although it was a long and tedious task, it felt good to finally have things back with their "like" partners, rather than all dumped together in old margarine lids. I tend to put a handful of beads and findings in an upside down margarine lid as I work on a project, so I can see what different beads will look like together, but I'm not so good about putting things away when I am done. A year or two later, who knows what you've got left to work with when everything is all mixed up all over the place? So, it's good to re-organize and start again sometimes!

With cats crawling all over your work space, it's also more critical to be organized - it's annoying when they make a mess, and it can be dangerous if they tend to eat beads and other craft supplies. Ditto for children if you have those!

Cleaning up your space is also a good exercise spiritually, since it gives you a new "jumping off" point in your work and does not pose a psychic drain on you. Hard to work on new projects if there is a nagging voice in the back of your head telling you "you really should do something about that mess"!
Once that's all done, you might even feel like trying something new to expand your creative horizons. I've recently been inspired to pick up the ol' paintbrush again after 25 years or so and I tried slapping some paint on canvas. Boy am I rusty! Could use a lot more practise before tackling that 4' x 6' blank canvas that has been hanging over my sofa for the last year. Someday, though, I will have something new to replace "Polar Bear in a Snow Storm"...