Thursday, 11 August 2011

Handmade Blog Feature: Rowan300 by Lori

I love steampunk! the gears,the shades of copper,rust.The idea of sky pirates in air ships powered with steam. The movies such as Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, The Hellboy franchise particularly Hellboy2 is very steampunk influenced.It's a whole alternative lifestyle and fashion gaining momentum every day. Take a look at TotusMel's blog devoted to the subject .

Lori of Rowan300 is a mother,blogger,jeweller,sculptor who mainly creates steampunk jewellery and wire jewellery accented or heavily featuring semi precious stones.She creates using bits of clockfaces,nuts,bolts,rings of metal and more. But her work is not all traditional steampunk. Oh no. Some pieces are brilliant in color to be worn with pretty gowns or a simple outfit.

Welcome to Lori's world of upcycled beauty and her corner of etsy Rowan300
Industrial Crystal, Earrings

Hi Lori and welcome to your blog feature! First question, What inspired you to create your Industrial/Steampunk Jewellery Line?
I had a bunch of old watches and took them apart and was pleasantly surprised at how beautiful the watch parts were.My son told me about steampunk and I fell in love.

I also noticed you create intricate robots and sculpture.I love Sir Wallace Shufflebottom what was inspiration behind this little character?
I was looking at the parts from my grandmother's old watch and thought the watch movement looked like a face.I,ve always been a fan of robots,sci-fi and fantasy and my imagination took off from there.
Sir Wallace Shufflebottom
Nothing But Heart Robot pendant

I've never seen Steampunk jewellery with color before!What inspired the use of color in the "Industrial Fantasy Series" and the "Moon series" especially the gorgeous "Honey Moon Necklace"?
I believe that Steampunk and Industrial Jewellery can be worn with anything from jeans and t-shirt to a ball gown.I would to see more people embrace it as a form of self expression rather than wearing the same old boring jewellery all the time and I thought adding color might be a way to get people to look at it differently.
HoneyMoon Necklace from the Moon Series

Lightning Moon Bracelet from the Moon series

Lightning moon necklace from the moon series

You also have a range of wire wrapped stone jewellery using rough cut stones.Was that range an extenston of the Industrial style but using more natural materials?
I started off making jewellery by wire wrapping.I have a large collection of stones that I,d been holding onto for years and I thought that would be the perfect way to set alot of it.
Blue Gem wire wrap and brass

You have a very informative and honest blog called Madd Dogg Of tomorrow with alot of informative tips and chronicling your journey as a maker could you tell what inspired the name and why you decided to blog?
Madd Dogg is my nickname.It's kind of a joke with my friends and family because i,m  actually a pretty mild mannered person.I decided to do Madd Dogg of Tomorrow since so many of my pieces are derived from watches and clocks.

Cat Pendant

In your blog you mention setting up two businesses, Rowan300 being one.What is the other?
My Son and I want to start up a mobile bakery,We both love to bake and have the basics started.We just need to get the funding together fo the equipment.

What has been the hardest part of your handmade business?
Getting people other than my family and friends to notice my work.
Gears and doughnuts earrings and Bracelet

What has been the most rewarding aspect of running your handmade business?
I love making and tinkering.I,ve worked in a office setting for a long time and that kind of work makes me feel kind of numb inside.I would come home and not want to anything for the rest of the day.
Now i,m more energized and happy and want to go for walks with the dogs,play with the dog,hang out with friends and family It's really changed my life for the positive.

Industrial Chain necklace with Brass

Who are your favorite etsians and why? and both have really awesome shops,are also really nice people and very talented artists.

Handmade Blog Feature: Jools to Drool Over by Sandra Mynard

One day while browsing around the "circles" and "Favorites" section of my Etsy dashboard, I came across a item by Jools to Drool over that someone in my circle had favorited. (Circles are little social groups on Etsy and when you are added to one or you add someone to yours you see all the items they like as they favorite them by clicking on the little heart icon in the corner of the item photograph.) 
Her store  transported me into the jewellery box of Marie Antoinette had she been alive today. Beautiful pastel colours abound, with florals,doves,gilt,sparkly crystals and pretty maidens. I immediately contacted her for a feature. This lovely modest lady was surprised! But i think you'll agree her work is beautiful,delicate and full of details that makes you want to explore her work again and again.....

Sandra has also had a piece featured on Polyvore for her new line Sweetie YumYum and is offering the first 25 followers to her blog a free piece of jewellery just email her on : Now for the feature on Jools to Drool over by sandra Mynard.
Black and white Cameo necklace for sale on and featured on Ployvore.
What inspired you to create Jools to drool over and where did the name come from?
The name Jools to Drool Over just came to me.I thought of using Jools as part of the shop name first and the added to drool over as to my thinking it would be memorable.In hindsight if i were choosing a name now it would be  more sedate and have the word vintage as part of it.I was in a hurry just to open up the shop.

Your jewellery's colour palette is very Marie Antoinette! I could see Kirsten Dunst wearing it. What inspired your use of vintage components,florals and your uplifting colour palette?
My first pieces of jewellery were ordinary to say the least.I would fall in love with different gemstones,buy them and them create something.However after a while I realised I needed to find a different direction in style and vintage was where it was at.
I,ve created collage necklaces which include pieces of vintage earrings,brooch, or necklace.Sometimes I take necklaces and broochs apart just to use pieces of them.
My choice of jewellery style came about because of the vintage retro influence that is being used in every area of fashion.I wanted to create something that nobody could copy exactly.Although I guess i,m doing that myself by copying a trend.
The colours I chose are mainly  pastel and girly looking as looking around at styles and fashion, pastel is definately in.The florals too are big and bright right now and there is a lot of choice in the range of vintage jewellery around, expecially floral.
Blue floral  collage necklace from Jools to Drool Over
I especially like the use of birds and maiden series that uses face cabouchons (Leaf Maiden in Flower Garden, Stars in her eyes, Face of Summer Garden.) What inspired those pieces?
Everyone is using birds in jewellery.I,ve used a couple in my designs but i,ve tried to be different in that regard. The idea of using cabouchon faces came to me while trying to do something different.I didn't realise that face broochs were "in" at one time.I don't profess to know anything much about vintage.I,ve learnt alot on Etsy seeing the vintage jewellery brands for sale and what they are worth.I,ve never heard of most of them to be honest!
Bridal necklace

Golden toned Face necklace

Stars in her eyes

Maiden in the summer garden necklace

The rosary necklace chains you make are exquisite.They really compliment the focal pieces.Why do you make them say over using plain chain?
The reason I make rosary chains using pearls , crystals ,some gemstones pastel coloured plastic beads that rather than add bought beaded or metal chain to my jewellery,I wanted an element I make myself just to show I could.

Your now exploring new selling avenues for your jewellery,creating new ranges ( Sweetie YumYum) and looking at craft markets.Could you tell me a little more about that and how it came about?
I am very fortunate that I have a great local craft fair and I,ve started listing on both Madeit a australian homemade everything selling venue as well as starting to list on The Sweetie YumYum line is more simple than Jools to Drool over and consists mainly of earrings and necklaces using up to date resin and lucite flowers.
I,ve also started a blog    and while I wasn't on facebook or twitter i,m starting to try and figure that out.
Burnt Orange lilly Earrings
What for you has been the most fulfilling part of creating your handmade business?
What for you has been the hardest part of creating your handmade business?
Creating a handmade business is the easy part.Selling is another kettle of fish.Just when you think you've excelled yourself with your latest creation you find that no one has looked at it (on etsy you can see how many times a piece has been viewed), or perhaps 3 people looked in the first couple of days.I remind myself that is probably the case for hundreds of etsians ,after all there are a heck of a lot of items on Etsy and jewellery especially is one of the most prolific items sold on there and everywhere else to.Still there is only one way to find out if your item is saleable and that is to jump in and swim!
As you go along if you didn't already have marketing savvy you will pick up how others photograph their items  effectively and how best to describe your item.

I often wish that Etsy provided stats as to what is selling on Etsy trendwise,how many,where it is selling and how people go about selling it.

As to what lights me up.Well it's always uplifting to know that someone admires my jewellery.I also enjoy friendly and uplifting convo's from other Etsians on anything.

I,ve had my share of downtimes when I wonder if i,m on the right track.But someones likes my jewellery enough more than a few.I,ve read about people becoming successful only to after trying various selling venues. My advive would be to never give up.
What tips do have for anyone else wanting to turn their passion/hobby into a handmade business be it on Etsy or another selling avenue?
I,m not sure I,m the best person to ask for advice, but I would say look at every venue where jewellery is sold,what they are selling and how they are selling it.Come up with a name that will typify your style of jewellery.Come up with a style and colour of photography that will identify your brand.

Who are your favorite etsians and why?
This lady's style of jewellery is very different and original
This lady's amazing creations made from recycled sweaters
this lady's felted wool creations

Find Sandra's ranges Jools to Drool over and SweetieYumYum at the following: and
Check out her blog which will also have handmade features on fellow Madeit artisans

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Handmade Blog Feature: Vibrant Shadows by Jordan Schwartz

Jordan is a young woman who's work I discovered in the etsy forums by being captivated by her striking avatar. It looked moody,imposing and depicted the greek colisseum. So I went to her shop thinking it was filled with equally moody striking photography.
I then got the shock of my life when I saw that her avatar and products were not photographes but beautifully detailed paper cuts that she photgraphes with the sky shining through the openings. I was amazed. And I think you will be to with the beauty and modernity of her work.

So welcome one and all to the work of VibrantShadows by Jordan Schwartz.

Hi Jordan. First up how did you get into the art of Paper Cutting and how did it evolve into your business ?
Well I have loved crafting my whole life and I love to learn new arts and techniques. I have done sewing,knitting,candlemaking... you name it and i,ve probably tried it.
I stumbled upon paper cutting online one day and decided to give it a try and I was hooked!
I built up a little stock and decided to give Etsy a whirl.

How do you decide on what the subjects for your artwork will be?
I tend to flow with inspiration....sometimes I just randomly come up with a idea and I write it down so I can try it out later.I keep a small notebook with me at all times now.
Starry Night Paper cut inspired by Vincent Van

Can you describe a bit about the process and what materials you use?
I use paper especially made for this craft as it is fade resistant to last for years and it is thin enough for me to cut very intricate pieces. As for knives... I use a simple #11 straight  blade xacto knife.

What is the most fulfilling aspect of your business?
I LOVE custom orders! There is nothing more rewarding than being able to take someone's precious family photo and turning it into a one of a kind piece of art for them.

Whats the hardest aspect of your business?
Taking great photo's. I try and come up with ways of taking photos of the cuts so you are able to tell they are cuts and not printed.When a person can't actually see the item before buying,great photos are a necessity.
Ferris wheel Paper cut by

Whats next for Vibrant Shadows?
Larger pieces! I have dreams of making huge intricate cuts 24x36 inches and beyond!

Who are your favorite etsians and why?  a small shop but absolutely wonderful to talk to and they make gorgeous handmade cutting boards. who make titanium rings. I bought my wedding bands from them.Amazing quality,beautiful,durable and great communication from them as well!

For more of Jordans work check out her shop and her Youtube channel: and

Handmade Blog Feature: Emma Dickie of The Candy Tree

This lovely lady contacted me a while ago answering my call for people interested in having a handmade feature done on them. I went to her shop and was delighted by her work. As a embroiderer myself (now more freestyle rather than cross stitch) I,ve seen alot of various crosstitched artworks and pillows but nothing like this and not based on original artwork by the embroiderer themselves. I emailed my list of questions and got a beautiful  story written in peach text! I also sent some suggestions for incorporating beadwork with her comfy patchwork cushions. It was lovely to get a tweet with a picture of a pillow she had made incorporating a heart embroidered with sparkly blue beads and mentioning me in the process!

So without furthur ado, I introduce to you the sweet Emma Dickey of The Candy Tree.

Hi Emma and welcome to your blog feature! Firstly what inspired you to create The Candy Tree? and what inspired the name?
The Candy Tree originates from my college days when I wouldn't go anywhere without a little sketchbook.I used to sit down and doodle and come up with little  poems and one day I drew a tree trunk with a lollipop head.The accompanying poem was "Don't eat from the Candy Tree.You will feel Dandy and free.Is that really what you want to be?"

I later turned this into a painting  but it wasn't until I started creating jewellery a few years later and needed a name for my work that I realised I already had it!
I,ve always been inspired by nature and vibrant colours so it seemed like the perfect fit and so "The Candy Tree" was born.

Patchwork cushions by Emma Dickie top cushion features beadwork in blue glass beads.

You have recently started creating cross stitched cushions and patterns based on your paintings.What inspired that product line?
I love crafts of all kinds and enjoy experimenting  with a new medium.
I created my first cross stitch two years ago and have fallen in love with the medium!
It has been a great way to bring my artwork to life in a new dimension as I love to combine different mediums to create someIthing new. Cross stitch is not only theraputic but allows me to share my work in the forms of patterns as well.
Again i,m very much inspired by nature and the vibrant shades of thread really lend themselves to my subject matter.
I decided to transform some of these designs into cushions as it became not just a great way of brightening up the home with a original piece of Art but functional too.

Copper and Gold Cross stitch pattern pdf by Emma Dickey copyright Emma Dickie.

What is the process for creating a piece of original Art and turning it into a cross stiched cushion and pattern?
It can be quite a lengthy process from artwork to cushion! Firstly the painting needs to be scanned into specialist software where I can tweak it into a pattern.
This can take several hours.As any good cross stitcher will know that a good pattern has sections of color flowing together as opposed to random squares of colour dotted all over the place- as this isn't really very theraputic to stitch! Once i,m happy with the pattern it can be printed fabrics and threads purchased and stitching can commence.

Depending on how large the pattern is it can take a few months for the panel to be stitched.

Once finished it is a case of washing and ironing the panel taking great care not to undo the hours of hardwork.Before sewing two sections of cotton on the back to create a cushion envelope.
Bird of Paradise cross stitch cushion by Emma Dickie

You also create semi-precious stone jewellery accented with sterling silver.What inspired the use of those materials?
I have always preferred silver jewellery,probably because it complements my colorings better than gold and for me silver has the elegance of subtlety about it that really brings out the vibrant pearls and stones that I like to use. My choice of materials come back to my love of nature.
The semi-precious stones and freshwater pearls I use are all uniquely shaped and I try and avoid perfectly formed round pearls. My favorite are the blister pearls as they can create a very striking look due to their erratic shape.
Autumnal tones Blister pearl necklace By Emma Dickie

Silver Blister Pearl Bracelet Emma Dickie

Some jewellers who use semi precious stones are inspired by birthstones or myths/legends ,healing properties are these one of the things that inspires your line?
To be honest I,m not sure stones have can have healing properties,however I do believe that certain colors and stones can bring about different emotions depending on their personal preferances.For example, Purple has always been my favorite color and it also happens to be the color of my birthstone Amethyst. I always feel that Amethyst soothes me,not because of any special properties but simply because I love the deep purple tones and the natural shapes of the stone.
I have transferred these ideas into my jewellery by using natural shapes in a variety of colors so that hopefully I offer something that appeals to everyones personal taste.
Pink Ruby pearl and agate necklace By Emma Dickie

Lapis Lazuli and Agate necklace by Emma Dickey

Whats next in the Pipeline for The Candy Tree?
At the moment i,m concentrating on expanding my line of cross stitch patterns and patchwork cushions. I,m also working on some knitted jewellery and i have just finished some bracelets.Matching earrings will be following shortly! They are made with wire and a selection of glass beads and semi precious stone chips.

Purple bead and pearl glass bracelet and earrings set by Emma Dickie

Whats the most enjoyable aspect of creating The Candy Tree?
The most enjoyable part of creating The Candy Tree has been trying new things and discovering my latest love for cross stitch.There is nothing more relaxing after a day at work than curling up on the couch to stitch my lastest design! I have also enjoyed creating my Etsy shop as it has allowed me to share  experiences and learn  from fellow crafters.

Whats the least enjoyable aspect of creating The Candy Tree?
The least enjoyable part for me is marketing! I,m not a natural sales person and find it difficult to promote my work. I use a variety of outlets to get the word out. Facebook and Twitter.However my difficulty is with getting my friends/family/colleagues to look at my work as I am very shy when it comes to face to face promotion.

Who are your favorite etsians and why?
I love she offers a range of acai and tagua nut beads in gorgeous colors.They are very much in keeping with my style and may even feature in my future ranges of vibrant jewellery!  also range of very modern patterns.Very inspiring!
Tagua Nut slices Dyed by

Graffiti art cross stitch pattern from

So if you want a piece of original tactile art for your couch, a vibrant piece of jewellery to brighten up your outfit and your day look no furthur than and Tweet her

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Behind The Seams:Reading,Beading,Imagineering my week so far

Hi all! It's been a few days or more since I posted, I know! Especially as I listed on Twitter the next lot of Handmade Blog Features that were due this week. Don't worry you'll be getting all four over the this weekend starting from today.

So when not blogging what am I up to?

Lots of reading,beading and Imagineering new design ideas for my healing and spirit doll collections!
I,m opening my etsy shop  aka "House of Spiritflower by OpalOrchid" by the end of August so i,ve been stalking the forums on Etsy marking posts relating to photography,getting more views and sales.
I,ve also been checking out as well and am thinking of getting their Pro membership to get access to even more fantastic bizness advice,e-courses and advice.

I,ve also been reading my favorite blogs and her shop about the tattooed mother who does Tatting. A old textile artform that she uses to make some of the most gorgeous masks,necklaces and ankle corsets around.Embellished with tiny beads and sequins.Check her out her work is elegant,edgy and top quality. I especially love reading her no nonsense advice on business,Etsy and more.
Charm Necklace By Copyright TotusMel
As a sometime thread embroiderer I also love  reading about the work of british embroidery company and her blog she used to customise clothing,make purses and tactile textile jewellery using her original artwork which she transfers onto cloth in various ways such as the acetone technique as well as using the mini japanese screenprinter called a Gocco.These machines are very rare to find but do check out Etsy as I found some there. If thats not for you (shipping from Japan is expensive and so is the machine) try and the Yudu Machine which is on sale at the moment for $120.00 and comes with everything you need plus a instructional DVD to get started.
Yudu Machine on sale for $149.00 at down from $299.00
Apart from that i,ve been beading like mad for the last few days.(pictures coming soon once i find and charge my camera).
I,ve been working on small dresses for a one of a kind (ooak) healing doll using a pattern from a book i bought, for both the dresses and the doll.The first dress has taken me 14hours to bead completely using size 10 seedbeads,4mm czech glass crystal beads and 4mm rice pearls in iris purple and royal blue. I,m now working on the secound one called "Bliss".It has the word beaded on the front on top of what will be a beaded flower motif. The word was traced from my book on blogging called "Blogging for Bliss Crafting your own online journnal.A guide for Crafters,Artists & Creatives of all kinds" by Tara Frey.

Whats Imagineering?
Imagineering is a word I picked up from one of my books on doll making "Designing the Doll" by   Susanna Oroyan                .I,ve two of her books,which I use mainly for inspiration. Imagineering for me is creating in my head.I daydream a doll idea while looking in a almost intense way at a doll pattern and my referance books on butterflies,moths and flora.I also think of a theme.At the moment it's mainly flowers,the four western elements : Fire,Water,Earth,Air (all met together in a garden fair bound in a basket of skin if you answer this riddle you'll never begin, from the kids book The Night Maze a old favorite I still own and read Oh and the answer is man/woman/you.)and the Five Eastern Elements: Wood,Fire,Earth,Metal,Air.
Book i,m lusting over and want to buy below.

So thats been my week so far along with meeting my business and progression mentors from the Princes Trust and lots of painting and decorating of a very large house with no end in sight yet! and no the house isn't mine.I live in a first floor flat in Hammersmith London Uk near the River Thames, and the cool cinema house/performance space,program recording place RiverSide Studios. With great views of Hammersmith Bridge especially at  night when all the lights are on that outline it like the lights on Harrods.

See you all soon with a sweet Handmade Blog Feature: Emma Dickie of The Candy Tree. Dxo