Mar 19

This week’s challenge was to create something based out of an item we saw in a catalog or online that made us say, “Why should I buy that, I could make it!” They were not encouraging exact copies (though those are welcome too). But they would love to see what drives our creative plans and how our inspirations take you to the path of DIY.

Button Bobby Pins My submission: Button Bobby Pins

Lately I’ve gotten into making cute bobby pins, and I saw some on Etsy that used plain buttons as decorations. I decided to step it up a notch and use some cool vintage buttons of my grandmother’s. The best part? All of these (and more) are available to buy in my Etsy shop!
[See all the fourth Iron Craft 2012 submissions

Did you participate in this Iron Craft 2012 challenge? Please share your craft in the comments!


Mar 17

I’m having a good brooch week! With recycled and upcycled materials, too!

Recycled leather pins by Maize Hutton:
(I was the happy recipient of one of these this week – thank you Maize!). If you aren’t familiar, Maize is the genius behind the totally adorable reclaimed silver jewelry at Check this out: you can preserve your child’s drawing on a silver tag! So awesome! And it also comes with a wood-mounted rubber stamp of the same doodle so you can stamp that cute image on greeting cards and more.

Doodle Tag at MommyTags

Grape Soda Badge by WhimsyLove

Yes! Just like the badges from the movie UP (LOVE that movie! This link takes you to Amazon, where you can buy the Blu-Ray with a free DVD copy – bargain!) – you can have your very own grape soda badge made by Nikki at WhimsyLove. My son is obsessed with badges thanks to the movie, and he was thrilled with this grape soda badge!

Mar 22

I am in love with the textile art of Vanessa from Ziazia! I love her use of color combinations and texture in making her beautiful purses, totes, wallets, and wristlets. Here’s a little interview:

Shop name/URL:

Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a 23 year old visual arts student, mother of a lovely 3 year old boy, I live in Tijuana, México with my son and my boyfriend. I am obsessed with color and fabric, I can´t seem to have enough. I started sewing when I was in high school wanting to alter a few of my clothes because they didn’t fit right. My mom bought me a sewing machine and that same machine is the one I’m still using.

What are your main inspirations?
Right now I’m working on pieces that are inspired by the human body, especially the female body. It started with a project I’m working on for a class at the University, and it’s about the formation and transformation of my body in different contexts, starting with family and how we each have pieces of us that we didn’t actually choose: the nose of our father, our skin color, etc. And investigating the body, I grew fond of the pleats in our skin, the lined that time draws in us, a lot of texture. I’m also inspired by the fabric I use.

What’s your fondest crafty memory?
I have a lot of memories from when I was a child, maybe 3-4 years old, and watching my mom make me big bows for me to wear on my pony tail. I loved those big bows. I used to go with her to the crafts store and pick out color ribbons to match my outfits. It makes me smile just remembering those times. My mother was and still is quite a crafty person, I think she was a role model in that aspect and what got me started working with my hands.

What’s your favorite material?
Cotton fabric, hands down. Any kind of cotton fabric in bright bold colors. I love combining different textures and colors.

Any new techniques or crafts that have caught your eye lately?

I want to take on screen printing full on. I have done it in the past and it pops up in my work every now and then, but I want to set up a work area especially for it in my home. I learned the non toxic way in a class and I loved it so I’ve been saving up and thinking of the space in my little home. Expect some screen printing work in the fall collection.

What new item in your shop are you excited about?
I’m really excited about a basic design I’ve been making for the spring collection that consist of bright bold colors, round corners, a tote type bag but with a more flexible use, a bag that goes everywhere with you. It closes with a zipper and it has adjustable strap. The idea is just that: adjustable, comfortable and bright.

What advice do you have for indie business owners/designers?

Work, work, work, and work some more! I think that’s one key point. I’m really bad at promoting and joining social networking sites but I do try a lot of thing and I think that everyone should do what works and feels well for them, whether it be with promoting, events or material for their pieces. Different things work for different people.

Nov 7

I want to hear from you! What is the State of the Craft in 2009?

When did you start participating in the online crafty community?

How have things changed for you in the past years?

Do you sell your crafts?

If so, where? Do you sell anywhere besides Etsy?

How do you think Etsy is doing these days?

Who are the top three most inspirational crafters/designers to you?

What are your three most-frequently visited craft sites/blogs?

What are your three biggest concerns in general for 2009? Will they affect your crafting?

What are your predictions for 2009?

Feel free to leave your answers in the comments or email me at

Oct 22

By Lynn Taylor,

This article was going to be about the artisans in my Etsy Street Team, Etsy West Michigan Team, but quickly I saw that this was a bit too broad of a subject.  As of this writing, there are 50 members of Etsy West Michigan (EWM or as I lovingly call it “Handmade in the Mitten”) and I could probably write a book with the variety of crafts we all create.

So, it became clear to me that I needed to focus on one aspect of what we do; other than all having stores on Etsy, we do CRAFT SHOWS!

We have the usual folks who do shows only in the fall and up to Christmas.  Then we have those who love to sit outside and do open-air venues.  And that, my friends, is right where I’m going.  You might say that’s been done with the likes of Bizaare Bazaar and Maker Faire, large shows or fiber festivals.  But let me tell you of our own local show that has come about purely by accident.

Fulton Street Artisans Market (FSAM) is actually a spin-off of our local farmers’ Market, which has been in existence since 1922 for farmers selling fruit and vegetables every weekend May through December.

Artisans started showing up, asking for booths.  Produce sellers would be placed in the booths first and then artisans would be given a booth after a lottery.  After this happened for several years, the farmers’ market directors decided that there was enough interest to allow artists and crafters to use the facilities on Sundays, when the farmers’ market was traditionally closed.

FSAM was born in 2004.  It is totally volunteer run and the small booth fee goes to advertising and promotion.  By focusing on the artists and crafters, Lisa and Merrie, FSAM Volunteer Coordinators, hope to attract more crafters and foot traffic by highlighting different artists each Sunday.  August 17, 2008 was set to be Etsy Day.

Rebuilding is the topic for this year at the FSAM.  The volunteers were looking for more artists and crafters to attract to their venue.  Luckily, some of the EWM Team had come across this venue and started to spread the word.  By working with the lovely ladies of FSAM, EWM developed a friendship and then the idea of collaborating bubbled up.  Why don’t we work together?  FSAM will do the promotion and advertising and provide the space for a show; EWM will use the Etsy resources and each of their own wealth of customers and contacts to draw people in, crafters and customers alike.  The Etsy team page came in handy, the Forums on Etsy to announce that any other crafters who wanted to join us for Etsy day could and should join in.  What an opportunity!  All we had to do was reach out and take it!

And take it we did. This could be the start of a beautiful community friendship! Farmers’ Market + Etsy Sellers = Love.

May 8

tree of pinwheel broochCROQ Readers: Get 10% off at Glintbymich’s etsy shop until June 8th, 2008. Just need to put comments to seller on yourpurchase, that you were referred from CROQ

Shop name/URL:

Tell me a little about yourself.
Glint is the name of the shop my partner, Chad, and I started. We realised Glint could be a common name for jewelry and tagged my name ‘Mich’ to it. I’ve always had a quirky fashion sense since I was a kid. I would go to school with colourful ribbons in my hair (even though the school colour was brown) and get into serious trouble with teachers for being an ‘accessory rebel’. I think that was the start of my lifelong passion of self expression with unique hand-made jewelry and accessories.

What are your main inspirations?
I still have scrapbooks of sketches and ideas that I collected in my childhood, which I still refer to for inspiration. We love watching old movies especially with Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, visiting antique fairs and shops, reading books on the history of jewelry and icons like Josephine Baker, Marie Antoinette and Queen Elizabeth etc.

art deco bakelite necklaceWhat is your favorite material?
I like working with vintage plastics like Casein, Lucite, Celluloid and Bakelite, and I tend to mix modern materials with old, soft with hard, to create textural contrasts. Other materials include chrome, acrylic, gemstones, czech and bohemian glass beads.

What new technique or craft has caught your eye lately? Want to try anything new?

It’s not really a new technique but my partner, who happens to be the ‘engineering’ behind the designs, have been experimenting with new materials such as silk in chinese knot earrings, hoping to breathe new life into vintage designs.

deco ringWhat new item in your shop are you excited about?
It’s hard to pick just 1, but I’m rather excited about my latest ‘1 is not enough’ series (no pun intended) which is a collection of versatile jewelry with more than 1 ways of wearing (i.e. a bracelet can be converted into a necklace or a choker)

What advice do you have for indie business owners/designers?
it sounds cliche, but it’s obviously true. There’s a lot of hard work, be patient, and you gotta love what you do.

May 5

wing of bee pendantFree Shipping discount to CROQ readers at Just enter “FREESHIP” in the notes to seller when checking out, and you’ll receive a revised invoice, through May 31, 2008. Sweet! JessicaJane features unique jewelry inspired by nature.

Shop name/URL:

Tell me a little about yourself:
Hello! My birth name is, in fact, Jessica Jane, but I really go by Jessi 99% of the time. I am 22 years old and I was born and raised in the heartland of Ohio. My husband and I just recently moved to California for military orders. I am a proud marine wife and proud member of the Etsy community. Etsy has been such a gift because we can travel anywhere in the world and I can still do what I love and pay the bills while I am at it. When I am not creating things for Etsy you can find me taking photos outside, at the beach, knitting, spending time with the husband, cooking + cleaning (my domestic gifts, haha), or enjoying a nice honey hazelnut latte at the bookstore.

birch wood faux bois pendantWhat are your main inspirations?

My main inspirations come from nature, animals, textures, and old things. I love trees and birds. Sometimes I wish birds could talk, so they could tell us of all the places they been and sights they’ve seen.

What is your favorite material?
My favorite material would have to be paint. I have always painted since I was young. Painting was my main thing until I met clay. Haha. Clay is so fun to work with also, if you mess up you can just start over again.

black bird charmWhat new technique or craft has caught your eye lately? Want to try anything new?
I would really love to do some sculptural paintings. I plan on that someday. I would also really love to try dyeing and spinning my own yarn. I am in the process of knitting a blanket right now and I would love to have more control of the colors and textures of the yarn.

What new item in your shop are you excited about?
I am really looking forward to doing more ceramic pieces. I love the way the glazes surprise me every time.

What advice do you have for indie business owners/designers?

Hmmm, advice for others. I would have to say let your own creative style shine through in your work. When I first started selling on Etsy I made pendants with image transfers, they were okay, but I didn’t feel like my own style was showing through in those. I ventured into painting and sculpting more, and I feel like I am letting my own creative style come to life. Be true to yourself and love what you do!

May 5

Corra cuts her whimsical designs into hand-carved stamps just for you! Check out her awesome work, and read this little interview with her while you’re at it!

Shop Name/URL:

The Mayberry Sparrow

Tell me a little about yourself.

I’m an illustrator/designer living in Hamilton Ontario, Canada. I’m also the mother of two little guys. Between them, wholesaling, and etsy, i’m busy!

What are your main inspirations?
So many things. Antique patterns, vintage children’s illustrations, the foxfire books, nature, my garden especially, the list goes on.

Sometimes all it takes is just seeing two colors together that aren’t normally paired. Color combinations are like candy to me.
Sometimes it’s the scenery of a movie, or the setting. Even songs. I seem to find inspiration even when i’m not looking for it. Inspiration can be overwhelming when you’re already swamped! I have to usually jot down ideas, and save them for later.

What is your favorite material?
This is tough. While I obviously love linoleum, I also am a huge fabric pack rat. And Paper too! Anything with a unique design.

When it comes down to it though, i just couldn’t live without paper and ink. If I have my sketchbook, i’m home.

What new technique or craft has caught your eye lately?
Want to try anything new? I’d love to try using a letterpress in the near future. I drool over all the letterpress designs I see all the time on etsy.
Needle felting has definitely caught my eye as well. I’ve made a few things and i’ve enjoyed it quite a bit.

What new item in your shop are you excited about?
Even though I haven’t actually sold any yet, the yoyos. It was such a refreshing change to be making something totally different for a day. I also like actually using my stamps to make prints, instead of just selling the stamps themselves.
Same with the pill boxes…which seem to be a slightly bigger hit than the yoyos. I’m sold out of those already. Go figure.

What advice do you have for indie business owners/designers?
Be true to yourself. While certain things might be popular, if you don’t enjoy creating those things, don’t! If you love what you create, it will show through your creations.

Don’t dwell on people selling similar items. There will always be more than one person with the same idea. Its unavoidable. Trends do happen, and everyone wants a piece of it.

Pay no attention to what everybody else is doing, just pour all your love and devotion into your own work.

I totally agree! Thanks for the interview!

May 4

Eva does the most amazing things with polymer clay. Her craftswomanship is superb, and her prices are super affordable.
Shop name/URL:

Green Leaf and Owl

Tell me a little about yourself:
My name is Eva Bush, I’m 25 and I live in Flint, Michigan. I’ve always been creative and really enjoyed art classes in elementary through high school. In undergrad I studied a bit of graphic design, web design and Postmodernism. During this time I met my the man of my dreams, was married and now have a sweet little boy. After my son was born, I was fortunate enough to stay home with him and also create small, colorful treasures to share with others. I opened Green Leaf and Owl on a whim to try my hand at selling my goods. I love my life and the freedom I have to explore new artistic endeavors.

What are your main inspirations?
I have many inspirations – Bright colors, textures and nature. The amazing work of other artists. Cute squirrels running around my yard. The idea of filling my home with handcrafted items made with love. I’m also inspired by the amazing old things I find hidden away at antique stores. I have a small collection of old typewriters and would have more if I had somewhere to store them.

What is your favorite material?
I love acrylic paint, but I also love using vintage materials in my work. Oh, and I love brass because it can achieve such an amazing color over time and it is great for sensitive skin.

What new technique or craft has caught your eye lately? Want to try anything new?large tree pendant

I’m always wanting to try something new. A couple months ago I taught myself to crochet and my mom taught me how to knit. I only made two crocheted beanies – one for my husband and one for my son, but it was a completely useful craft to learn. I also like to sew handy items to use around the house.

What new item in your shop are you excited about?
I?m super excited about my new line of vintage necklaces. I salvage old books from antique stores and use the original illustrations to make one-of-a-kind pendants. I?m striving to use non-toxic and reusable materials to cut back on pollutants and unnecessary waste in my home and elsewhere.

What advice do you have for indie business owners/designers?
Create things that you love and don’t give up easily. Get your ideas out there and be consistent. Great customer service always helps too.

Apr 30

squid tieI love Jessica’s whimsical applique! Check her shop out for some wonderful one-of-a-kind items!

Shop name/URL:

Tell me a little about yourself.
My name is Jessica Wynne Plymate, I’m 33, I drink too much coffee and I have a very overactive imagination. Since I was very young I knew I wanted to be an artist. A few years ago I had my last exhibit as a painter. The show went well, but something was missing from my work- I suddenly felt like I was trying to be a part of something in which I didn’t really belong. I decided to take a break from it and, although I don’t remember the catalyst, I ended up putting my designs on clothes instead of canvas. It felt so natural to merge my hobby of sewing with my need to doodle. I find it more personally rewarding to see someone wearing my designs than just looking at them.

What are your main inspirations?
I find inspiration everywhere- a joke between friends, a song, a face, a feeling, my obnoxious dog, staring out the window… I am constantly amazed at the talent of others and it pushes me to think harder about what I’m doing and to put more of myself into it.

What is your favorite material?

With a little embarrassment, I have to confess my love of polyester. It comes in the craziest colors, prints, textures and it sews like a dream.

What new technique or craft has caught your eye lately? Want to try anything new?

Wow, I don’t know how to answer that. I have a lot of new ideas swimming around in my head right now but not enough time to make them all happen. Some of the very talented sellers on Etsy have given me a new appreciation for things like polymer clay and recycling trash into jewelry, but I’m pretty focused on continuing to grow in my craft of applique.

What new item in your shop are you excited about?

Right now I particularly like the jellyfish skirts and the way all the different trims and textures flow and intertwine when worn. I originally came up with the jellyfish as a way to use up my huge pile of notions. I quickly fell in love with the design and had to buy more rick rack and lace so I could make more of them.

What advice do you have for indie business owners/designers?
Do what you love, not what you think will sell. Putting passion and personality into what you do is what makes you stand out in a crowd. Take risks, don’t be afraid of change, be willing to work harder than you smoking deerever thought you could and don’t give up.

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