31 January 2011

Featured Artist - MADART

Today's featured artist creates the most beautiful paintings, and sells them in her etsy shop.  I was not able to get a hold of Megan to have her say in her own words what she's all about, since she's been sick with the flu this week, so this is what she says on her etsy profile:

I have painted and drawn traditionally most of my life. After God and my family my art is my passion. I am a self-taught artist that has been blessed with a talent I love to share with others. I grew up in the bush of Alaska with none of the modern amenities most of us take for granted. The only way to get where I lived was by boat or float plane, there were not (and still are not) any roads. The only source of electricity was generator. Heat was provided by wood burning stoves (there was a lot of firewood to be cut and stacked!) My family didn't have phones or cable TV, it was roughing it at it's best! Living in Alaska and Florida (and even Hawaii for two years) has allowed me to get close to nature in many different ways. Alaska is all about nature and natural beauty. In Florida I have experienced tropical beauty and I enjoy scuba diving and other outdoor activities that allow me to stay close to nature. This has allowed me to truly appreciate the beautiful world God has blessed us with and to try to capture that beauty in my paintings.

Here are a few of my favourites:

I absolutely love her use of colour and balance, and I really admire her incredible talent - I wish I could paint like this.

Take another look at her shop, and let me know which one you like best!

28 January 2011

Gift Card Holders with a NEW DESIGN!

I have had a little more time this week to create compared to last week, and other than a custom order I received, I made a few gift card holders for Valentine's Day.  I know I would prefer receiving a gift card over chocolates or flowers or lingerie - maybe I'm more practical than other women... ?

These gift card holders are a different design than the ones I made at Christmas.  I think these ones are much more user-friendly; there isn't a tie-around that you have to pull off and put back on again, it's just velcro.  very strong velcro.  Here are some pictures:

What do you think?  Do they look like they are more user friendly than the ones I made at Christmas?  Let me know!

You can purchase these fabulous gift card holders on my etsy shop.  If you live in the Hamilton area, you can save on the shipping because I will more than likely be able to hand deliver your order to you!  You would just have to choose the option to pay via money order, and in the message to seller section at checkout, just let me know that you are in the Hamilton area, and we can arrange a time and place!

I hope you like them!

26 January 2011

Focus on Family - January 26

This week has been very full.  Ups and downs, as it is with everyone.  Life is busy for me with two children, and Jeff is a wonderful help, since he's at home more often (it's the slow season at work).  Isabel wakes me up about twice a night now, which is nice; however, I will be glad when she sleeps through the night.  Alexander gets bored really quickly, since I'm not available all the time to play with, but we're working on that one.

Here are a few pictures I took:

Isabel loves being held by daddy

trying so hard to focus!

not sure what he's doing there....

one of her quieter times in the vibrating chair

laying down

The service at church on Sunday was really inspiring for me.  Dave talked about meditating on the Word of God, and it moved me to start memorizing and focusing throughout the day on Scripture.  So I have a journal that I write verses in, and I open it up periodically during the day to add to it and to read the verses I added before.  It's really helping me concentrate on Him, and I'm not getting frustrated as easily with the kids, and I feel "fuller", if that makes sense.  If you don't do this, I would really recommend that you do - it's wonderful being reminded of the promises of God.

Something really interesting happened this past week, and I think it's a miracle!  As you may or may not know, Jeff is the only person bringing in an income since I'm a stay-at-home-mom.  And winter is the very slow part of the year because who wants to get their basements waterproofed in winter, when it's not leaking, right?

Well, the slow-down started in November instead of the end of December, and we had just enough money saved up to cover everything from the usual mid-December until end of February.  But since we had to start a month early, we have nothing left for next month, and we have nothing coming in for next month, either.  Just to understand the gravity of the situation, last February, Jeff made $52.50; and that's before taxes!

So we're kind of in a jam.  But to be completely honest with you, I'm not too anxious about this because I believe that God will provide; He has always provided for us, and I know that He is faithful to his children, and so that's how I know He will keep his promise.  We have to have faith, right?  Anyway, I digress.  The miracle is this:  Last pay, we only got $93.39, but we still had enough to pay all the bills coming out of the bank account and get groceries!  And on Sunday, we had $200.00 given to us, which will certainly help out as well.

And as for February... well, we'll just have to see what God will do!

24 January 2011

Featured Artisan - derekhowlettdotcom

Today's featured artisan hails from London, Ontario, and he is a genius in what he does!  I absolutely love his work, and the fact that he creates items from used tire tubes is a wonderful and creative way of creating a better environmental future in Ontario!  Here he is to tell us more about himself:

Tell me a little bit about you and your business.

I started sewing about 3 years ago when I first discovered that most nice dress clothes didn't fit my slender body. I figured I could learn how to make them myself and that's where my sewing career began.

Derekhowlettdotcom is a seed. A seed that says we can live more in alignment with the environment and with each purchase, that person is saying that they care about the environment and the future. This is critically important due to the massive amounts of garbage we throw out on a daily basis. Derekhowlettdotcom is empowering people with a small option to make a positive impact.

What made you decide to become an artisan, and how did you choose to work
with tires?

I never really decided to become an artisan. It kind of happened by accident. I made a few wallets, showed a few people, they wanted to buy them. Went to an art show, sold a whole lot more. People really liked my stuff and I just went with it.

I was watching a youtube video where a guy was showing off a wallet he bought that was made of tire tubes. I thought it would be fun to try and now I list a whole bunch of different products made of tire tubes.

Upcycling is something that has grown to be a natural progression of my personality. With my increased awareness of my daily actions, reusing garbage is just a reflection of where I am and where I'm going.

What does a typical day of creating look like for you?

A typical day of creating is very sporadic. I create when I feel inspired to.

When designing a new product, I will sit down and work on it till it's finished. When I have the end goal in mind, I can focus like no other.

What are your long-term and short-term goals?

My goals are to be continually inspired and inspire. As much as I want people to buy my products, I also want to inspire people to create for themselves. Learning to DIY is a great skill and something we can all do from time to time. I've dedicated my blog http://www.derekhowlett.com/ exactly to doing that. Each week I post a sustainable DIY article that I've done myself.

Here are the highlights of the work that he sells in his etsy shop:

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

21 January 2011


Well, having two children under the age of three doesn't really provide with much time to create, but I was able to design one card yesterday - and I made ten of them!  A set of mini Valentine's Day cards.  Take a look:

I think they are cute and original.  To purchase a set of these cards, please go here.  If you want a set with a different quantity or colour, please message me first, and I will make a custom order for you!

Thanks for looking!

19 January 2011

Focus on Family - January 19

Well, this is my first post focusing on my family.  Let me tell you a bit about us...  Jeffery and I got married on May 15, 2004.  We moved to PEI a few days after we were married, since Jeff had a work opportunity there.  We quickly found a church family at Summerside Baptist Church, where we met and quickly grew to love many wonderful people.  Jeff and I were the leaders of the youth group, TNT (Teens in Touch), and we had a blast loving these teens to God, trying to teach by word and example of how to live according to the Way.  We bought a house in October 2005 out in Middleton.  We both loved it out there, the pace of life, the friendly people, the beautiful scenery... but I missed my family too much (who mean a LOT to me), so in October 2007, we moved back to Hamilton, where we both grew up.

We rented out our house in PEI and rented a puny two bedroom apartment in the west end.  It was quite the struggle to downsize from a full three bedroom house to a small two-bedroom apartment (which didn't even have a diningroom!), but the location was wonderful, being right on the railtrail going into Dundas, and being within walking distance to all the essentials.

On June 2, 2008, Alexander Jeffery was born, and when we discovered that I was expecting child number two, we decided to put our house in PEI up for sale and buy a house here.  The house sold fairly quickly, and we snatched up this beautiful fixer-upper with tons of space and even more potential in the east end of Hamilton in May 2010.  It's a work in progress, but we always wanted to buy a house we could fix up ourselves.

On December 21, 2010, Isabel Marikje was born, and she has been a joy so far.  She lets me know very loudly when she is hungry and I'm not getting to her fast enough, and she wakes up every two hours or so during the night, but we all love having her around!  She can hold her head up for a little while, and she doesn't like leaning back when she's sitting.  It's a bit of a struggle trying to take care of two kids and keep a house relatively clean, but somehow I'm managing.  Alexander is bonding more and more with daddy now that mommy is always so busy with Izzy, which is a wonderful thing, since Alexander is such a mommy's boy.

Here are a few pictures of what goes on during a typical day in our house.

Alexander loves playing with his alphabet rug - he knows almost all the letters!

and, of course, he has to show me the letter and let me know that he knows which one it is - he can say all the letters except C, G, and W.

snack time!

laughing at one of mommy's many funny faces

Alexander is learning the colours while playing with some old Christmas bows.  He can say red, white, gold, and purple.

Whenever Isabel is accessible to him, he has to go to her and give her kisses.

Isabel tries so hard to sit up on her own, if I'm not careful, she will fall forward!
So this gives you a little peek into our lives.  Till next time!

17 January 2011

Featured Artisan - DancingGreyStudio

This aritsan I found on etsy when I was looking for a Christmas gift for my husband.  I wanted something handcrafted, unique, something that looked like "Jeffery", if that makes any sense.  And when I saw these beautiful journals, I knew immediately that Jeff would appreciate this gift.

The artist's name is Eiko, and she lives in Montana.  I asked him to share a little bit about herself:

I was born in Japan and educated in the U.S.A. I've always loved picture books and book forms. Ever since I was a little kid, I always wanted to be a book illustrator or a manga artist. As far as I can remember, that was the only thing I ever wanted to be. So I chose a college that had a strong illustration department. But things happen :D I was introduced to 3-dimensional art. By the time I finished graduate school in Colorado, I was a sculptor! I worked with sculpture installations for some years. I created a scene or environment with organic abstract forms. Sculpture became my first love but I always kept my love for book forms. I decided to take a break from sculptures and started working on book forms. I took a homestudy course a few years ago from CBBAG (Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild), and learned some traditional book binding techniques. I also played with different types of book structures. 

I started making journals because I wanted to make an object that is used & loved by people. A journal seemed like a perfect object.  I find beauty in simple forms. The wear & tear, scratches are the best & the most beautiful embelishments a journal can have, which come from love & use :) I think simplicity in design also promotes funtion & use. One time, I bought a beautiful leather journal on eBay. It was extremely well-made & very decorative. The problem with that journal was that it became a "precious" object. It was so nice & decorative, I just couldn't use it. And that defeated the purpose of having a journal. I want the embelishment to come from use. Once someone writes a word or draws a picture, a journal becomes a one of a kind unique object. Every time I make a journal, I imagine about things that might go into the journal. Sometimes, people would wirte and tell me what they are doing with the journals, like writing a horror story, a novel, recording their kids' activities. It's so much fun hearing about all those things :)

My typical day starts after I drive my 13-year-old to school and spend some time with my old greyhound and a young 3-legged pup. My mornings are usually spent on the computer, communicating & editing photos (oh yeah, shoveling snow, too. so much snow here in Montana!). My afternoons & evenings are usually spent making things & shipping. This year, I am trying to work on a new project. I love paper marbling (both western & Japanese suminagashi). I hope to get some marbling work done this year. 

Here are a few pictures of the journal that I purchased:

Isn't it absolutely beautiful?!  Jeffery uses it as a prayer journal, since his old one is full.  I love the detailed binding at the spine, the thick paper for the inside pages, and the cord is a convenient way to wrap up the book.  I'm planning on getting one for myself as well!

For a look at more of DancingGreyStudio's wonderful creations, go here.  There are a variety of sizes, from mini journals to large journals, and Eiko also creates photo albums with a similar look and design.

As a seller, Eiko is extremely easy to work with; her communication is very clear and friendly.  The quality and beauty of her work makes these journals a perfect gift - for a friend or for yourself!

15 January 2011

New Beginnings... again

This blog is intended to keep track of my life, which includes three main things:  my family, designing and creating cards, and looking at other artisans' work.

Mondays will bring "Handcrafted Heaven", where I will focus on handmade items that I love made by artisans all over the world.

Wednesdays will bring "Focus on Family", which will highlight the past week's joys and trials of my family.

Fridays will bring "My Creative Corner", which will showcase the creations that are for sale in my shop that I made the past week.

I look forward to sharing my life, exploring creative ideas, and making new friends through this blog.  Come join in the adventure!