Tag Archives: gifts

The Stall & Craft Collective (Exclusive Interview!)

The Stall & Craft Collective is an online craft & gift marketplace, and events directory, which launched in June of this year. This October, they’ve reached over 30,000 unique visitors and 227,000 page views — and climbing. Part of their success lies in the fact that they have undertaken an extensive marketing campaign in UK craft magazines, securing over 25 full page advertisements that have reached a potential readership of over 650,000.

stall and crafts collective

If you’re thinking, “This is just like Etsy,” well, it’s not quite the same. But I’ll let the founder of the collector, Helen Eskins, tell you more about it.

helen eskinsHello & welcome, Helen! Tell us a bit about yourself, please.

My name is Helen Eskins and I’m a mother of two from Birmingham, West Midlands. My background is on the administrative side of Child Protection and criminal law. I have been self-employed for around 11 years now, after having started a company working from home transcribing court hearings and police interviews. My own little craft business is called Harriet-Rose Crafts.

I began to attend local craft fairs and met some wonderful people along the way. I soon began to get a bit disillusioned with all the local craft fairs I was attending due to the obvious lack of advertising and promoting being done by the organisers, resulting in very poor attendance by customers, so I decided to start up my own events organising company to help my fellow crafters, a lot of whom had become very close friends. This resulted in the formation of Moon & Light Markets some five or so years ago now. Moon & Light Markets have been incredibly successful and we organise events all across the West Midlands, Worcestershire, Warwickshire and Staffordshire areas, until recently holding fairs once a month. This in turn then led to the idea of Stall & Craft Collective.

What is the purpose of Stall & Craft Collective:

The idea of Stall & Craft Collective was formed whilst organising craft fairs through Moon & Light Markets. I began to think how much easier it would be for event organisers if there was a website they could go to where everything they needed to organise an event was there all under one roof so to speak. My husband, Mark Eskins, had just taken redundancy from work so it seemed an ideal opportunity for us to take on a new challenge together and turn this idea into a reality.

product offerings stall craft collective ukWe want Stall & Craft Collective to provide event organisers with free advertising of their events, and in turn for potential customers to find their local events to attend. We also want event organisers and stallholders to be able to easily find and contact each other so that stalls can be filled. Stallholders are then able to list the events they are attending so customers can see where their favourite stallholders will be, and will also be able to look through the stallholders at an event they are going to, in case there is anything they can pre-order or have personalised etc.

Another wish I had was for our stallholders to be able to have a forum where they could sell their items at any given time to a nationwide audience, rather than just once a month at a craft fair. Having attended craft fairs myself as a stallholder and as an organiser, I was aware that a lot of stallholders find it difficult to make a living from their craft and I wanted to ensure that they had a selling platform without the high fees and commission taken from other high end shopping sites. We therefore decided on a small yearly fee with no commission or other charges to give an opportunity to every stallholder to join up.

We welcome all crafters, stallholders, and small business owners. There are categories to suit everybody including vintage, antiques, clothing, shabby chic, furniture, jewellery, home décor, cakes, wedding services, etc. and we welcome your suggestions for any different categories if you can’t find something suitable.

Is this just for folks in the UK?

It is at present but there may be plans to change this in the future.

(Fingers crossed!)

If you’re a buyer, just head on over to the Stall & Craft Collective Marketplace, look at upcoming fairs and events, or begin browsing news about products & sellers in the Spotlight.

If you’re an event organizer, register and list your event(s) now — for free.

If you are a maker or seller of things, however…

Here’s what you need to know about becoming a stallholder.

Prices start at just £15 per year; there is no commission on your sales.

Stallholders have three different registration packages to choose from which includes:

  • the creation of your own mini webpage
  • the opportunity to sell your items on our online marketplace
  • use of an individual noticeboard where you can advertise sales, promotions and news
  • ability to link your Social Media pages and website
  • promotion of your attendance at events
  • opportunity to submit news and interviews
  • use of a private message service

You can also keep up with the Stall & Craft Collective on Facebook & Twitter.

So Cute, You Want To Hang Them!

There’s no denying the appeal of needle felted animals. The combination of cute animals so-lifelike-it’s-amazing and the fun fit-in-your-hand size makes them absurdly adorable. Not to mention that you can finally afford to have wild animals like raccoons and bears — even rare unicorns — right inside your home!

felted handmade unicorn

But if you’ve been struggling with a way to, I don’t know, make your purchases seem more purposeful, if not practical, than a collection of fuzzy shelf-sitters, Sheep Creek Needlecraft has got a great idea for you: mobiles.

Multi Breed Dog Mobile, Baby Mobile, Dog Mobile, Sheltie, Labradoodle, Beagle, Golden Retriever

felted otters crib mobile

felted spaniel

And if you don’t have a baby now, or even one on the way, don’t worry. Mobiles are for adults too. Remember the swanky mid century modern hanging art sculptures that once were de rigueur? Well, those were mobiles. Revive that hanging art trend for your home or office, say with an “air aquarium” of felted sea folk…

under the sea felt mobile

We highly recommend the Star Wars mobiles. Perfect for the sci-fi nerds and pop culture lovers in your life.

star wars mobile

needle felted yoda mobile

And what could be better for insomniacs than counting handmade felted sheep?

felted wooly sheep lambs mobile for insomniacs

Along with their shop, Sheep Creek Needlecraft has a website and a Facebook page.

Literary Art, Puns, And Bookmarks

Continuing my interview with Robin Blum, founder of In My Book® — the bookmark and greeting cards in one

Happy Ending In My Book Bookmark & Greeting Card

How do you go about getting the art for the bookmarks and cards?

I am fortunate to work with illustrator (and Brooklyn neighbor) Meredith Hamilton. I found her on a wonderful listing of artists for hire called The I Spot. I love the New Yorker-y style of her pen and ink illustrations and feel that they are perfectly suited to the slightly irreverant nature of the cards.

How do you select the images? How tied to literary themes — and puns — are they?

There are presently fifteen styles of In My Book. When we first worked together in 1999, I gave the text of the greetings to Meredith and we brainstormed what type of images would work. In My Book, you’re a classic ended up with marble busts of distinguished and scholarly types, reading books of course; you’re a mystery clearly called for one of the great wonders of world (Stonehenge) and you’re some dish was teamed up with a red-hot mamma having fun cooking up a storm. More styles are presently in the works and will be available in Spring of 2012.

Are there any designs that seem most popular? Any trends in terms of the art, or it is mainly a matter of book genres?

The most popular styles are the ones that seem to suit the greatest number of people. Who wouldn’t be flattered by the notion of being ‘rare’ or ‘a classic’?? Publishers Weekly says: “Multi-tasking as both bookmark and greeting card…illustrated with charming pen-and-ink drawings by artist Meredith Hamilton, these sentimental greetings make endearing enclosures especially when the present is a book.”

How often do you add new designs? And when you add new ones, do you discontinue any older ones?

The line began with twelve styles in 2000 and added three more styles in 2003. Next year three additional styles will be added, so there will be a total of eighteen styles. Although obviously some sell better than others, I have chosen not to discontinue the older ones. This is different than most greeting card companies who base their inventory on sales; I tend to think that book readers are more or less traditional and that “you’re a character”, “you’re a hero”, “you’re the last word” will never go out of style.

I think so too, Robin.

The cards have sold for $3.95 (including envelope) since the company started in 2000; buy them now and get a jump on holiday gift giving –and the upcoming price increase in 2012!

How To Make Silhouettes

I remember when I was little and my parents, aunts and uncles took each of us children to get our silhouettes done as gifts for the grandparents. My parents even had a second set of my sister and I done for our home. It certainly is a quaint and charming way to preserve our childhood appearance.

If you’d like to preserve those memories — in a sweeter and more stylish way than those annual photos taken at school — here’s instructions for making your own silhouettes from SEI Art Studio.

ISewCute Certainly Is (The Interview!)

Sometimes, when I’m interviewing someone, I’ll make them do all the work and ask them to define their work.  For the absolutely adorable artisan behind the equally charming isewcute, I asked her to define her work in just three words. I knew it would be hard, perhaps it was even unfair, but then I knew we’d have the rest of this interview to add plenty more words. So this is where we start…

Your jewelry – how would you describe it in 3 words? (Toughie, huh!)

Wicked tough! I suppose this will do: customizable, artisan-crafted, whimsical.

I see you had to cheat with a hyphen! lol I personally would have used “glittery” — but then that’s because I have a love/hate relationship with glitter. …As a girl, I’m a sucker for glitter; but as a mom, who finds that stuff more insidious than Easter grass and tinsel, I groan at the sight of it. But your stuff traps the glitter — forever shimmering, but never escaping! Which is a stroke of gleaming awesomeness.


Umm, that’s not a question… How’s this: Would your artisan superhero name include the word ‘glitter’?

You’d be safe with a finished piece… no glitter escapes!  Glitter is always a good thing — I just got done glittering my craft table last week & love how it turned out & submitted it to ikeahacker’s blog.

Yeah, my superhero name would have to include glitter on some level!

Have you ever thought of yourself as a superhero? Of your jewelry as being talismans against doom and gloom? Because I find most of them so sweet and full of kitschy goodness that whoever wears them can’t be anything but happy!

I’ve never considered myself a superhero. Not since saving a couple of elderly folks from a burning building — at 4 months old.  The house caught fire & I cried because of the smoke & woke everyone up & we all got out alright. True story!

I’m hoping my jewelry brings happiness to all who wear it.  Especially the real four leaf clover jewelry I make.  More than anything, I hope my little creations are loved & cherished. They don’t want to be hidden away in a drawer or jewelry box; they want to make the scene!

What inspires your designs?

My refusal to grow up completely & stay in touch with my inner child, my own children through which I’m reliving my childhood… An insatiable love of sparkly things… Show me something shiny & I’ll lose my train of thought. Cartoons, pinups, music, pop culture all have a hand in inspiring me along the way.

What are your most popular designs or themes?

As we discussed with the embroidery it’s the custom order type of work that’s most popular now. The possibilities are endless!

I have been making personalizeable name necklaces…hearts, and rectangles full of sprinkles, glitter, and beads spelling out names of BFF’s & boyfriends.

Also, my four leaf clover jewelry has been selling real well because there is no shop on Etsy like asluckwouldhaveit.

I find the clovers myself, with the help of my children, dry the clovers for a couple weeks, & then they’re all ready to become treasures to cherish. Nature makes the clovers & I do the rest.

FYI, if anyone friends me on Facebook through the month of November, they’ll be entered to win a four leaf clover heart pendant!

Have you ever made something you were certain would “fly off the shelves” but wasn’t well received?

Oh sure! I made a soldered glass pendant with a funny quote (or so I thought), but apparently nobody got my humor.

(I’m dying to see that!)

How would you describe your customer?

Playful & someone who likes to stand out & express themselves… Marching to their own music.

I’m pretty sure they’re skipping, not marching. And I like it more that way. But then I’m pretty biased; I’m an isewcute customer.

For more on isewcute, see my other interview — and check out the artist at her own blogs: I Sew Cute and As Luck Would Have It.

Whimsical Postcards Featuring Prints Of Original Felt Projects

Just think, you could keep the glow of fireflies in a jar forever with these adorable postcards and note card sets (with envelopes) featuring the latest felt and needlework designs by Melissa Crowe of Checkout Girl.

Image copyright Melissa Crowe of LittlePinkHouse.

Handmade Craft Shopping Parties

Back in the day, I offered and held a few home parties for selling my artworks. Being about 15 years ago, ish, I felt like I was charting new territories.

I had a bunch of catalogs and brochures from other successful home party plan businesses — and my vast knowledge of attending such parties — to build my plan on, but even then, the concept was just that — more concept than anything else.

I made sales at the parties (and secured plenty of commissioned works as well), but found I really had to sell the idea of such a party by educating the potential host or hostess more than anything else.

Now that home party plans are so mainstream that a woman between the ages of 20 and 35 fears invitations in the mail, the indie crafting party isn’t an educational exercise — and the lure of less common products is far stronger than say the usual home party suspects, resulting in more attendees and an increase of wallets being opened.

I mention this trend for two reasons.

One, if you’re a crafter, craftsman, or artisan looking for a way to make sales and connect with your local community, you might want to consider using home craft shopping parties. Even crafters who just have an over-load of made things could probably find an occasional party a good way to rid themselves of surplus handcrafted items, and those with mad skills could combine selling creations with workshops at parties.

If this sounds at all like you, Miss Malaprop has a great article, 5 Tips for a Successful Handmade Craft Shopping Party, which also includes links to some great resources. She even peddles the stuff other folks make at the home parties she demonstrates/sells at. (Keen idea for those who want to increase their offerings past their own skills.)

I respectfully disagree with CraftyTammie, when she says that she wouldn’t throw a party and invite her friends because “they all know i have an etsy shop, and i figure if they want to buy something they will let me know.” Shopping for art, for gifty stuff and crafts, is very much a visual in-the-moment thing. And people need to see it.

The second reason I mention the home party plan idea, is that if you are not a maker of things but a lover of them, you might wish to host a craft selling party in your own home. You and your pals can get together, shop, maybe even become inspired to make a thing or two yourself, all while you support arts in your community.

The only real tricky thing with hosting one of these home parties selling handmade things is finding a willing artisan or crafter. To that end, The Ungulate has started an Art Directory, including a category for listings of creative folks who are willing to do home parties selling their arts and crafts.

Image Credits: Handmade goodies from MissMalaprop’s shop.

I Came For The Ceramic Tiles, Stayed For The Art Glass, And Fell In Love With The Possibilities

I have a thing for art nouveau and arts and crafts tiles, so I was drawn to this arts & crafts tile poster by Mindy Sommers.

From there, I discovered not only this beautiful Bell Epoch poster by the artist, but that her art nouveau stained glass art can be found on more than Zazzle products because the artist and her husband run Color Bakery.

The stained glass art works (along with many other works) can be ordered custom on all their products.

Of the stained glass works, the artist says:

People ask me if, when printed on glass, if they will light up. The answer is yes. They won’t allow extensive light as they are not transparent…however, they are luminescent and direct lighting behind them will give the artwork a beautiful ambient glow.

While Color Bakery offers hundreds of their own designs, they allow customers to upload their own images to be put on everything from scratch resistant porcelain floor tiles (that you really can walk on!) to artsy mirror compacts. And if you’re an artist, Color Bakery provides custom art printing for artists and photographers too.

If Art Is Intimidating, What About The Supplies?

When I was about to turn 10, my mother took me out — just her and I — to go shopping for my own gifts. It may sound silly, but at the time it was the coolest thing ever. A few blissful hours in which I was the only kid and had the sole attention and direction of my mother. And her wallet. We even stopped for sundaes too.

The only thing that topped it was the actual gifts I chose.

horse-running-in-gold-field-by-hosslass-artThere was the Louis Marx Comanche horse, the bay with black mane and tail with articulated head and legs; sure to make my sister pea-green with envy. And there was a boxed set of colored pencils — not just any colored pencils, but water color pencils.

Comanche was lovingly played with, surviving far better than most plastic horses, and was eventually given to a younger horse-loving cousin. But the pencils are another story.

I’d had colored pencils for years in school, of course; but these were different. They were water color pencils. They even had a permanent plastic case which stated their magnificence and superiority above the usual temporary cardboard box. These pencils were so prized, so grown-up, so filled with the colors and promise of real art, that they intimidated me. I rarely used them. In fact, 30-odd years later, they sit, looking nearly untouched.

I won’t lie and say that Comanche wasn’t loved; he really was. But I was willing to put him to use as the manufacturer intended. The water color pencils, however, were so loved I didn’t dare use them.

prancing-horse-watercolor-pencil-artWithout getting overly sentimental (and risking sounding like a cliche), it’s really sad to acknowledge that somehow I’ve thought the world needs more loved-into-being-tailless horses more than whatever art I might have made. The world, and I, can survive both.

Memo to self: One of the New Year’s Resolutions is to get out the water color pencils and make something. Maybe even some horses.

Art Credits: Horse Running in Gold Field and Prancing Horse by Hosslass Art.

Illustration Magazine: An Art Publication I Am Drawn To

Men may be, as we are told, visual creatures, but many women adore and collect vintage images. Pinups and those ‘trashy’ covers of pulp novels do more than just flirt with men ya know — we women like them too. And if this includes you, then girl do I have a treat for you: Illustration Magazine.

illustration-magazine-issue-13-coverCollectors of trashy vintage pulp novels, Elvgren pinups, and vintage magazines (be they men’s magazines or turn of the century copies of Collier’s) will drool. Pop culture addicts will greedily await the next issue. Art lovers, artist themselves and anyone with an eye for style will enjoy flipping through Illustration to find classical creations, stylized advertising pieces, elegant deco drawings, fine art, eccentric arrangements, and other works to ooh and ah over.

While the publishers occasionally devote an entire issue to one artist, most issues are a mix of the humorous, the sinister, the sleazy, the graceful, the surreal, the charming, and the cheeky.

It’s clear from the quality that for the publishers this is not just another job, not just a way to make some money — this is an act of love.

Printed on heavy weight, glossy paper, the high quality reproductions of of these illustrations are a joy to behold. The magazine includes articles by the artists themselves, as well as historians, professors & fans of the artists and their works; making it not only fun to read, but so informative, each issue is suitable for research.

art-of-a-leslie-rossSince the golden age of American illustration is considered to be the period of 1890 to 1960, the magazine covers more than just the girlie side of art. Inside Illustration, you’ll find the art of comic books, story illustrations, postcards, sci-fi book and magazine covers, posters and other ephemera of graphic delight.

What makes this publication unique is that it focuses on commercial illustration. Since the works were commissioned or contracted for clients approval and needs rather than “it’s own sake”, it often appeared without artist credit. These artists certainly weren’t celebrated for their commercial works, even if they had gallery success. As little was written about many of the artists, Illustration focuses on biographies of the artist themselves. Illustration celebrates and documents these masters, yes, but the biographies and articles also help to put the works in context. And I think that’s equally important in understanding their purpose and value.

illustration-magazine-issue-11For example, Issue Number 11 has 31 pages on Robert Bonfils, a prolific and gifted producer of those 1960’s trashy adult paperback covers. Not only do you have two articles (by Robert Speray and Lynn Munroe), a plethora of color cover reproductions to gaze at (including several full-page images!) from collector Bruce Brenner, but a piece by Bonfils himself. Reading all of this, one gets information on the trashy book biz, how Bonfils worked, the life of the artist, the culture of the 60’s, and even information on collecting paperbacks in this genre. Now that’s a lot of information.

And yet that’s not all that’s in the issue!

Also in #11 are “Men’s Adventure magazines in Postwar America: The Rich Oberg Collection,” “The Devil in Design: The Krampus Postcards,” “Larry Admire, Star of Pulp World,” along with book reviews and information on exhibitions and events. What more can you ask for?

50-foot-woman-reynold-brownAs a person who dabbles in collecting in these areas, I’ve learned much from my issues of Illustration. As a woman who loves to ponder the cultural components of pulp novels & pinups, I appreciate how works and artists are put into context. As a girl who just likes pretty things, it’s a feast for the eyes.

This magazine is for connoisseurs & collectors alike.

Illustration is published quarterly, and you can subscribe directly from the publisher at Illustration-Magazine.com, where you’ll also find some back issues. (Both eBay and Amazon have back issues of Illustration Magazine too.)