Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Artist Spotlight: Part Seventy-Two

You've met this artist on this blog back in October, but she's definitely worth another look.  I'm talking about Colette, of Colette's Boutique.

So... let's see what she's been doing since the fall...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

I'm a member of a face painting Google group, and have been for years.  We're very good friends, helping each other with tips, techniques, business ideas and referrals, and meeting to work together, jam, or just hang out.  For many years, we've done a Secret Santa, but this year everyone was so busy during the winter holidays that it was decided this year to make it a Secret Valentine.

My recipient was my friend Mike, out in McKinney, TX.  I know he likes and uses our Purity soap, so I sent him a tub and a bar of that.

But I needed more.

So I made some chocolates!  I ransacked the cabinets, and hit the store for chocolate melts, and came up with some pretty good combos, I think.

These little ones are dark and milk chocolate filled with hazelnut.

And these hearts are filled with peanut butter - some crunchy, some creamy.

These pops are red and white chocolate with red sugar sparkle sprinkles embedded.  They came out pretty funky looking.

And these are milk and white chocolate, with pink sprinkles and raisins inside.

I did a bunch of milk chocolate with chopped almonds and pecans throughout.

And last, but definitely not least, dark chocolate with sea salt.

All together and wrapped, it looks like a lot of chocolate!

And some friends liked the look of 'em so much that they ordered some for themselves!  Oh... and Mike got his.  Loves 'em!

HOGSuzysSitcom.comA Little Knick KnackPhotobucket Keeping It Simple

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Artist Spotlight: Part Seventy-One

I know I've told you about the Handmade Artists' Shop and Handmade Artists' Forum before, but today I want to talk to you about one of the driving forces behind those related entities.

Kimberly Kitchen, owner and artist at Makin' the Best of It, has worked tirelessly with her husband, Andrew, owner and artist at Chainmaille by MBOI to support and promote the handmade community from their home in NJ.  Despite an insanely busy life and a couple of kids, plus dogs, Kimberly and Andrew have a serious love of all that is handmade.  Kimberly (and I can definitely relate to this) accuses herself of having "a case of crafter's ADD, a chronic condition which requires boxes and bags of pieces and parts that could be 'something' someday and a ridiculous collection of websites and books on crafts [she wants] to try."  Oh yes, I know that affliction well.

One of her loves, and Andrew's forte, is chainmaille, which led them to seek out a team.

To make communication easier than it was back then on Yahoo, Kimberly and Andrew offered to start their own forum.  Rather than limiting the forum solely to chainmaillers, they opened it up to "anyone that created, loved, sold handmade."  Unlike other venues which tend to stick to proprietary notions, Kimberly and Andrew have always encouraged members to post photos of their work and links to their various shops, blogs, and forums, no matter the host.

Since then, they have done their best to promote any handmade item that hits the Handmade Artists' Forum, through blogging, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Featured Member Ads, Facebook, Google+, and innumerable other venues.

With the hospitality exhibited by Kimberly and Andrew, it's no wonder the HAF membership grew to hundreds of members, fairly quickly.  Because Kimberly and Andrew encourage the HAF members to promote each other as well, numerous visits to the shops of the members was inevitable, as were the resulting sales.

Kimberly, creator of so many different kinds of handmade wares, together with Andrew, attempted shops in various available venues.

But they were dissatisfied.  Not the types to just sit back and settle, Kimberly and Andrew created the Handmade Artists' Shop.  I cannot fathom the research and preparation this undertaking required, but it's come to fruition.

Today?  The forum has nearly 2,500 members!  The shop has grown by leaps and bounds!  And Google searches are turning up products in the HAFshop.  How could they not, with the promotion that Kimberly and Andrew do?

Their whole purpose is to drive the handmade movement forward, and that magnanimous attitude spills over to the other members of HAF, who are quick to support, encourage, instruct, suggest, and assist their fellow artists and artisans.

I've been proud to call myself a member of that community since December 16, 2009, not long after the inception of Reef Botanicals.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Artist Spotlight: Part Seventy

An even 70!  Well, for the 70th artist I'm featuring, I've got someone you've met before here, John Rasmussen of Rasmussen Gems & Jewelry.  The quality of gems in this shop is breathtaking.  Just take a look at this incredible topaz.

Or this beautiful sapphire.  My favorite color is blue, so I'm kind of obsessed with these.

He cuts and polishes the stones, too, and turns them into beautiful pendants, like this wonderful obsidian.

Or this terrific tourmalated quartz.

The colors in that quartz are terrific too.  Grey and yellow is such an "in" color combo right now.

The settings he does for his more intricate jewelry are incredible and unique.  Much of it is set in sterling and fine silver, like this labradorite.

And this amethyst.

Or this quartz & citrine piece, or the amazing Padaradscha sapphire in the other one.

His silver work is even beautiful without stones, like this Jewish star forged from a single sheet of sterling.

Then again, he doesn't need silver to make beautiful jewelry either.  I'm in love with his copper pieces, like this amethyst and copper bracelet.

Or these forged copper pieces sans stones.

And let's not forget his wife, Debora Lee, who adds her beading talent to the wares of the shop.

For more information, be sure to follow the blog.
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