Sunday, August 30, 2009

Inspiration: DC 'au naturale

If you're looking for a little creative inspiration as the work week begins, find an excuse to explore the greener side of DC. From the banks of the Potomac River to the tip of Rock Creek Park, inspiration abounds within the boundaries of the District. Here are just a few places to soak up the colors, smells and wonder of the natural side of D.C.

Morning, when the water lilies are in bloom, is a great time to take in Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. (free!)

Pack a picnic lunch and your walking shoes and head to the National Arboretum to explore the national herb garden, bonsai museum, fern valley and so much more! (also free!)

And, if you're looking for an excuse to come in out of the sun, round out the day with a trip to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History's (live) butterfly exhibit. (not free.)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Meet Your Maker: AprilMist

Do you know what I love? Nice people. And even more so, nice people who make beautiful things. I truly believe that people who create beauty help the world go round.

So I'm always happy and grateful when I get to meet a great (and talented!) person to gush about. Without further ado, please meet April Stanley Njari of April Mist:

How did you come into crafting?

I grew up with Mrs. DIY herself, my crafty mom was never afraid to tackle any crafting challenge, from paper plate skeletons and Rainbow Brite costumes for Halloween, to making my wedding veil. That maker mentality stuck and creating continues to be a big part of my life today. I’ve been dabbling in a variety of arts and crafts from tie dye, pottery, sewing, floral designing, and knitting but it seems my most recent obsession making handmade paper beads has stuck.

What inspired you to use magazine paper as your medium to create your beads?

I started AprilMist in June after being inspired while stuck at London’s Heathrow airport for 12 hours (ugh). While flipping through fancy European fashion magazines, I realized the paper thickness, color quality, and designs were amazing! How could anyone discard this beautiful work of art after reading it? So, I started creating paper beads from the pages. Imagine how exciting it is to see paper (that would have been discarded) transform into intricately detailed beads! The process of cutting strips, wrapping them into the shape of a bead, and coating them with sealer is tedious, but stress relieving and mind numbing, I love it!

I've seen you work, and I'm in awe with how intricate your beadwork is.

Using my handmade paper beads, I create fun and sassy jewelry designs; my most recent trend has been creating cone and disk shaped beads and challenging myself to make the smallest bead possible (about 1/8 inch thick, so far).

Now that you're creating raving fans (I'm one! And did I tell you guys that she just opened her Etsy shop a month ago and she's already had over ten sales? As fellow Esty shop-owners know, that is a hella-impressive start!), where can we find you around DC?

After opening my shop, I met Vanessa at Ballston Arts & Crafts Market and got involved in Crafty Drinks. Through it I have received a TON of awesome advice and support from fantastic fellow DC crafters (thanks, guys!). In fact, at Vanessa’s encouragement I’ll be debuting my handmade paper bead fashions at the new Fenton Street Market in Silver Spring on October 3rd. Hope to see you there!

Thank you, April!

Hello Awesome

Back in May, I had the good fortune of attending the Summit of Awesome, a weekend of seminars, workshops, and social events for crafters, which was presented by the wonderful women of Hello Craft, a group "dedicated to the advancement of independent crafters and the handmade movement, as well as empowering small business owners and educating the public to the benefits of buying handmade and teaching the joys of making."

At the Summit, I participated in a workshop of hand felting, in which I learned to make a bird. I then went on to create a couple of pieces of sushi, which I gave to my favorite local sushi chef (he has a big collection of fake sushi accessories that customers have given to him over the years). On a recent visit, I found that the felt sushi has been a great source of amusement for the restaurant patrons.

I'm looking forward to next year's Summit, but in the meantime, Hello Craft offers a blog full of great information for crafters, as well as opportunities to network and learn about the business of crafting. This Saturday, they are teaming up with the fabulous sisters, Kelly and Kasey, owners of Biggs & Featherbelle, to offer a behind-the-scenes look at how they run their an eco-conscious bath and body product business. The three-hour tour of their warehouse, located in the groovy Hampden neighborhood in Baltimore, will include several product making demonstrations and an overview of the day-to-day business of running a small craft-based business.

The tour should be a lot of fun. Kelly and Kasey have lots of wonderful, positive energy. I had the opportunity to meet them at the first annual Handmade Mart in SilverSpring.

For more information on the Biggs & Featherbelle tour, visit the Hello Craft website.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Big Tools

I used to work in a rubber stamp store and as I'm sure any crafter can imagine, I usually spent most of my paycheck there. Two of my favorite purchases are the big tools that make paper crafting, especially when I'm cranking out multiples.

The Scotch™ ATG 700 tape gun lets you easily apply glue tape to just about anything, is permanent and comes in different widths:

The Carl® DC-238 is an 18" rotary paper cutter that can cut up to 30 sheets of regular weight paper at once! This is also available in 12", 15" and a massive 25" version and you can get scoring and perforation blades. We call it Big Carl in our house:

If you do a lot of paper crafts, these big tools are definitely worth the investment.

I'll blog about my shiny, new Cricut Expression® next.


P.S. We'll be posting the vendor list for November 21st's Holiday Heist soon!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Top Ten Reasons Why You May Have (But Shouldn't) Miss Crafty Drinks

10. The summer is passing you by and all you've done is work, work, work.

9. You've been so stressed about the recession that you haven't gone out since...God knows when.

8. You have been crafting as a hobby for some time, but haven't met other crafters to hang with.

7. You gave up drinking for lent, and then just ran with it...

6. Between work, craft shows and Etsy, you have NO time for a social life.

5. You'd love to meet fellow crafters and artists, but you're too shy/intimidated to get yourself and your work out there.

4. Convenient, monthly social networking events just don't work for me.

3. I'll go next month... Did I say that last month? Definately next month, I swear...

2. I'm a douchebag that doesn't want to share his/her resources/experiences.

1. Wait, Crafty Drinks? I have to be down with this, starting next month!


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

New Market in Silver Spring! Call for Vendors!

Yo! We're getting the word out to crafty folks in the D.C. area about another small market opportunity in downtown Silver Spring!

A funky new market is getting off the ground in the Fenton Street Village area of Silver Spring, MD, and they're looking an eclectic group of craftspeople, artists, vintage/antique dealers, and others with interesting wares or services. Booths are only $15 to make it easy for newcomers to test the waters. The Fenton Street Market debuts twice this Fall, 9/12 and 10/3, with plans to go weekly next spring.

Spread the word!


Antiques * Crafts * Books * Furniture * Imports * Music

We're launching a new outdoor market in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland, to celebrate the eclectic character of a diverse community.

Join us for the inaugural markets on:
Saturday, September 12 and October 3, 2009
Corner of Fenton Street and Silver Spring Avenue
*Free parking in public lots across Fenton Street!*

Want to sell at the Fenton Street Market? Contact Hannah McCann via email or call 301-787-6749.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

DIY: Matchbook notebook promos

Want to show off your handmade goodness? Make yourself some handmade promos! Here's one that's fairly quick, easy and functional for recipients--matchbook notebooks!

What you'll need:
-cardstock or other fairly stiff paper
-thinner paper for the interior (I like to use orphan tractor-feed paper)
-paper cutter (scissors would work too, but a paper cutter helps keep the lines straight)

You'll also want to somehow get your shop name on there. I like to print mine, but you could also hand write them, use a sticker/mailing label, etc. In addition to my shop name/url, I like to print one of my designs or something related to my shop on the covers. You could also use decorative paper, cut out images, use a rubber stamp, etc. (have fun with it!).

Getting started:
The size of these can really vary--it all depends on how big a matchbook you want to end up with.

The cover: I make six covers using one 8.5" x 11" piece of card stock. That means each cover piece is approximately 2.5" wide and 5.5" tall when cut. (This makes a finished book that is about 2.5" x 2.5")

Interior pages: You'll want your interior pages to be slightly smaller than the cover. With the above cover specs, my interior pages are approximately 2.25" x 2.25." How many pages you'd like to include in each book is also up to you. Experiment to see what works best for your books and stapler (12 pages works well for me).

Fold each cover piece approximately a quarter inch up from the bottom.

Insert your interior pages and place a staple in the center.

Fold your cover over so that it tucks into the flap above the staple.

If you haven't done so already, decorate your cover, add your shop name/url and start handing them out!