Thursday, June 17, 2010

Homegrown Bouquets for Giving

{Re-posted from Beth H's blog, Crafty Mishmash}


Taking fresh flowers when visiting friends & family is one of my favorite things to do. Everyone appreciates the gesture, & flowers are perfect for every occasion. Plus, when you've grown them yourself, they are extra special & impressive! : )

Since March, when our garden began bursting into bloom, I've been gifting flowers left & right. It all started when I took my mom & dad a bouquet of pink heirloom roses & rosemary for their wedding anniversary, arranged in one of the canning jars I was returning to Mom. The simple beauty of that arrangement & the joy I got from giving it to them really inspired me. Since then, I've tried to take a homegrown floral gift whenever I'm invited to someone's home.


The bouquet pictured here is one that I took to my mother-in-law as a housewarming gift when Patrick & I first visited their new home in late April. It contains Verbena, Spanish Lavender, Gaura, Rosemary & California Poppies. Granted, none of these flowers are very hardy, so not usually recommended for cut flowers. They are delicate & droop & wither after a day or so, but I don't mind. Their beauty is fleeting, which to me, just makes them more amazing & worthy of our adoration.

 my ribbon stash; saved from gifts & packaging & project scraps

Tips for creating your own homegrown bouquets:
- Save empty food jars & bottles of interesting shapes to use as vases; you'll want to have them on hand when the need for a host/hostess gift arises! Plus, it's a great way to reduce/reuse/recycle. I used an olive oil bottle for the arrangement pictured here.
- Tie a ribbon around the mouth of your vase to give it that finishing touch - tres shabby chic!
- Put a few inches of water in the vase before adding the flowers.
- Check for bugs on each stalk; you don't want to gift those tiny stow-aways!
- When arranging the flowers, start with the tallest ones in the middle, then add shorter ones around them.
- Keep turning the vase around as you add the flowers, to ensure that it looks pretty from all angles.
- I aim for an interesting mix of flowers that are tall & short, large & small, bold & delicate (in form & color), and upright & billowy. However, a gorgeous arrangement can also be made from only 1 or 2 kinds of flowers. Just trust your own eye - flowers are so pretty that it's hard to go wrong!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Artist Spotlight: Brandy Davis of Pigsey Art

We have the great pleasure of knowing and representing in our boutique one very talented and very funny crafter by the name of Brandy Davis, owner of Pigsey Art. I first met Brandy almost two years ago, at one of the first EtsyAustin meetings and her sarcasm and wit won me over immediately, and that was even before I saw her amazingly creative products!Brandy's journals are only the main feature of her unique business which includes magnets (which we carry in Stella's Boutique), bookmarks, and even pendants, all showcasing her love for vintage books and illustrations.

I was able to get Brandy to answer a few questions for me in order to give you a little insight into her business and what she's got goin' on. Check it out:
How and when did you decide to start your crafty business?
I had been doing traditional bookbinding as a hobby for many years before I discovered Etsy which is really what pushed me into creating a business. At first, I did some simple paper products to continue my hobby for fun in my first Etsy store in early 2007. By the end of 2007 I had decided to make Pigsey Art a serious business and focus on my love of journals and unique products. In 2008 I went down to a part-time job to make Pigsey Art more of a success as my focus turned to doing local art and craft fairs. Now, I work at Pigsey Art full time out of my spacious workroom in my house and have never been happier.What is your favorite product to make? I love the old school readers in particular, I get really excited when I find a box of them. The classic stylization and dynamic illustrations easily make them my favourite books to turn into journals. People seem to love them too because of the childhood nostalgia they provoke.Anything new coming up? I am actually just starting to get the framework together to start screen printing on blank book covers and I plan to have a line of them rolled out by the fall. It's really exciting to start a new product and offer even more diversity to your loyal customers.

What is your favorite local business? I am an absolutely huge fan of Craft Chi owned and operated by Amy Ybarra-Murphy. I love her screen printed images which are classically simple and reminiscent of nature. She uses a fabulous combination of colours and organic fabrics in a wide range of products, many of which I own. I'm even having her make some custom items right now, I love her! (We also love Craft Chi and carry several of her products in our boutique.)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Wedding Bonanza

Beth A here, writing from California. I'm out here for the first two of 6 weddings I'm attending this summer. Two of my friends were married last weekend and two more this weekend, and so inspired by all these weddings I thought I'd post about some of my favorite DIY wedding crafts and tips.

First, an easy and great way to add color and flowers without the cost of real flowers, tissue paper flowers add a great pop to any celebration. We even used these to decorate our booth at the Renegade Craft Fair. The how-to is available from the Martha Stewart Weddings DIY blog here.I'm also really inspired by this wedding blog called Once Wed and their DIY projects, especially this cute centerpiece idea:

What WonderCraft DIY day would be complete without a t-shirt craft? Here are some beautiful flowers made from old t-shirts, tutorial and kit available from Alabama Chanin. This is the next craft I'm going to try out for sure! We've still got so many scraps to get through...

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Craftrepreneurs: Rosalie Gale, Tara Gentile & Megan Auman

I've come across some very cool, helpful resources for indie craft biz owners recently & wanted to share. I am simply in awe of the brilliant ladies behind these organizations. Hope you find them as interesting & inspiring as I have! ~Beth H

First up is Rosalie Gale, founder of Unanimous Craft, a tagable, sortable index of resources for crafters, artists and indie business owners. Rosalie says,
"I was inspired to build Unanimous Craft after seeing a huge list of links to different resources that The House of Mouse posted in the Etsy forums. I wanted to make a tool that our community could use to get organized and share information.

It's sort of like Yelp for the crafty community. People can submit resources (great articles on Twitter, awesome magazines, online tools, accounting spreadsheets, inspirational blogs - whatever) and the community votes on the usefulness of each listing. Then, people can curate lists of resources that fall into a common theme like: 10 things you should do when you start your indie business, 500 ways to deal with Twitter, etc."

Pretty awesome, no? Rosalie recently added The WonderCraft to the index - check it out! We are honored! And we'd totally love it if you visited our listing & rated us, so that we might place high in the Popularity Contest. : )

Next up is Tara Gentile of Scoutie Girl fame. Tara has long been an involved & highly respected member of the crafting community through her work as the editor & head writer behind Scoutie Girl, "the blog with a penchant for the passionately handmade."

Now she's taking it up a notch with the launch of her awesome new Big Thinking for Small Businesses blog & a "big thinking" consulting biz. The gist of it:
"We specialize in web strategy, branding, product development, community building, and marketing to help build your small biz empire. Specifically, I work with creative entrepreneurs: those interested in building their businesses by breaking down convention and finding customers who think outside-the-box too.

To help you reach your goals, I have a wide range of products & services. Here you will find self-paced products, a la carte services, and full-fledged invasion packages to suit your needs no matter what stage your empire is in. I only ask that if you decide to work with me or buy my product, you are committed to your own success – regardless of fear, opposition, and self-doubt – as I am."

Sounds amazing; Tara really knows how to cut right to the heart of the matter for small biz owners. I've been very inspired by her writing on her blogs & just bought her "52 Weeks of Blogging Your Passion" e-book! I'm looking forward to getting re-energized about my creative work & revamping my own blog with Tara's wonderful advice.

And last, but certainly not least, Megan Auman, the genius behind Crafting an MBA. Her blog is filled with tons of great information & business advice for designers & makers. It runs the gamut from practical posts on making & manufacturing to extremely thought-provoking discussions on product development & growing your business. The blog covers everything in between & above & beyond these topics, too - it is a wealth of great information! 

You can even take part in the Crafting an MBA book club! Megan says, 
"One of my goals when starting this website was to create a community where designers and makers could come together and discuss business related books and concepts. Its partly selfish – I always find myself wanting to discuss what I’m reading with others. But I also want to help others read business books and figure out [how] to apply those principals to their own craft-based businesses."

I hope you'll check out these ladies' websites - they're all very engaging reads that inspire deep thinking about our field & offer many amazing resources for growing a small business.