Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Good Deal on Decorative Painting Books

Bauernmalerei, a style of decorative folk art painting, first caught my eye while living in northern Bavaria in the late 70's. It seemed like every where we went, whether stopping at an inn for dinner, visiting a neighbor, or strolling through town, bright cheerfully painted functional items were plentiful. I was intrigued by the simple yet intricate stroke work that adorned everything from outdoor flower pots to old milking cans turned umbrella stands, to backs of chairs and kitchen counter-top canisters.

However, it wasn't until we returned a decade later to the Heidelberg area that I had an opportunity to learn the techniques associated with the hand painting done by rural peasants residing primarily in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. These commoners used the stylized stroke work to embellish household items from tiny wooden thimbles to large pieces of furniture.

My first and only teacher was a talented and patient woman named, Edna Terry. She taught her students the basic strokes by demonstrating proper brush techniques using a #3 round brush and a liner. She also taught us about paint consistency and introduced us to several of the different styles of European stroke work. As a hands-on learner, after 12 weeks in her class room, I was off and running. Everything else I've learned has been self-taught through reading decorative painting books.

Pictured here are two examples of my work that recently sold. You can see other examples of this type of folk art painting by visiting my online shop at ByCoco on Artfire and/or ByCoco on Etsy.

Recently, I ran across My Idea Center, which is a wonderful online source of decorative painting books being sold at a discount. The site carries books from many well know artists including Donna Dewberry, a popular American decorative painter, and Scottie Foster, one of my personal favorites who also lived in Germany for a while.

Decorative painting is a great way to add a little pizazz to ordinary items, turning them into extra ordinary pieces of art. It's also a great way to give new life to an old piece or turn some one else's trash into an eye-pleasing treasure. So, I wanted to pass along this site that is full of inspiring books, just in case it might spur you on.

Happy Painting!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Hunt for Hidden Santa and Enter to Win a Christmas Gift Bundle

One of the online artist groups I belong to is the eSMArts team and we are "sharing the love" this holiday shopping season with a handmade bundle to warm your holidays!

Enter our Hidden Santa Treasure Hunt to WIN a Christmas Gift Bundle of unique handmade creations donated by the participating (sponsor) shops. The complete prize package, item photos and detailed descriptions will be announced on the Esmarts Blog shortly.

Our contest begins November 14th so check the Esmarts Blog for the full list of Sponsor Shops.
Sponsor Shop banners will be displayed at the top of the our team's blog (both left and right sidebar). To join in the fun and start hunting, simply click the banners to visit each of our Sponsor Shops.

How to Play:
  • Check the Esmarts blog for contest details and a list of participating eSMArts Sponsor Shops.

  • Visit each participating shop to find the hidden images of our Santa.

  • Make note of the URLs where you find our Santa pictured!

  • HINT: Santa images are not embedded yet. They won't be online until the contest start date of November 14, 2009.

  • Contest runs November 14-28, 2009 (close is November 28/09 at midnight eastern).

  • Drawing takes place November 29th.

  • Winner will be announced here November 30th.

  • Prize package ships December 1st, 2009.
Here's how to complete each entry:
  1. Find 3 Santa images that you haven't previously submitted.

  2. Email the URLs along with your name & address to esmartspromos [at] to be entered. (Don't forget to substitute @ for [at] when entering the email address.)

  3. 3 new Santa image URLs equals ONE additional contest entry so enter as many times as you like by finding 3 new Santa image URLs!

  4. Entries will be validated to ensure that contestants are submitting new Santa sightings.

Check the eSMArts blog often for hunting hints and tips.
Happy Hunting and Enjoy!

Tip: If while browsing around a sponsor shop you do not find Santa's image, try looking through that artisan's sold items as another shopper may have already bought that item.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Believe it or Not: Dreary Weather Inspired Bright Tropical Colored Fish

Alas, here in Maine, the neon like autumn colors of leaf peaking season have passed and the past few days have been gray, chilly, and dreary. Being a southern gal who delights in bright sun light and the vibrant tropical flora of Louisiana, I caught my mood waning. But rather than give in to the call of the couch, a pile of blankets, and a good movie, I decided to create something that would transport my mind and my mood to a warm, sunny and colorful place.

Rummaging through a closet of projects that were put on hold, I came across 17 terra cotta fish shaped clay pots, which had originally been bought as supplies for a fountain I intended to make as a house warming gift for one of our sons when he moved into his own place. That was many moons ago, so I shook my head and chastised myself for letting my good intentions evaporate into "nada".

Then, "Ding!" The light bulb went off in my head. As I looked at the fish, I began dreaming about all the places I'd rather be. Tropical colors began dancing before my eyes, and it only took a few minutes to gather up some brightly colored paints, and voila... my mood brightened as I painted away.

These pots originally came from K's Studio in Portugal and are approximately 6"x3"x3". I used a glass enamel paint which was oven cured for durability. Each is a one of a kind original, but they were all painted using the same colors making them complimentary when grouped together. Each fish is a unique one-of-a-kind piece and has been assigned a number as part of this limited collection of 17 fish.

A grouping of them would make a stunning centerpiece in a beach side bungalow, or they could be used as decorations during a tropical themed wedding and then be taken home by members of the wedding party. Use as a pot for a small plant, fill with glass marbles or individually wrapped candies, or use as a pencil holder to brighten up your work area. Wherever you could use a splash of cheerful color, you can use one or more of these fish. You'll find them individually listed for sale in my Artfire Studio: ByCoco -- Art for Everyday Enjoyment.

This is the time of year, I'm usually focused on creating traditional holiday themed pieces, but even though these tropical looking fish don't conger up images of enjoying hearth side warmth during a snow storm, they do make me feel Merry, and I hope they'll do the same for you or for someone you know who likes tropical things.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Quick and Easy to Find Handmade Stocking Stuffers

Are you looking for one of a kind stocking stuffers that won't break the bank?, makes it easy for online shoppers to find unique yet inexpensive items as gifts this holiday season. Take a look at Artfire's Stocking Stuffer Trend Page.

On that page, you'll have quick access to items priced $10.00 and under that have been hand crafted and sized to fit in a traditional stocking. Below are just a few examples of what caught my eye when I went browsing through the stocking stuffer trend page:

Please help the rest of us quickly find unique and fun gifts by leaving the URL of stocking stuffers that catch your eye in the comment section below. Or if you sell your handmade pieces through another online venue like Etsy, 1000 Markets, IndiePublic, Dawanda, etc. or even your own website, and your item would make a good stocking stuffer, feel free to post a link to the item you are selling.

Have fun shopping... And don't forget that most of the artists and artisans selling online are open to filling a custom order. Just contact them through their online shops to make your request.

And, as always, Kudos for buying handmade!

Tips for Transforming the Ordinary into an Extraordinary Experience...

Sometimes good ideas are born from "mistakes" and excellence is experienced.

Last week, my husband made apple sauce from the Maine grown apples we harvested, but alas, there was "a little" more sauce than we had jars. (The Mistake: we ran out of jars.)

After dinner, while the left over apple sauce was still warm, we decided to spread it over some Gillford's vanilla ice cream for dessert...Umm, Ummmmm, Good! (The Good Idea: warm apple sauce over ice cream.) It was like eating hot apple pie a la mode, without all the work of making a pie.

I was amazed at how the apple sauce transformed plain old ordinary vanilla ice cream into an extraordinary dessert. So the next time you run out of chocolate syrup, or whatever topping the kids are asking for, open up a jar of apple sauce, add a little cinnamon and other pie spices (optional), heat up a portion (microwave works just fine), and pour enough to blanket a scoop of ice cream.

What's that? "Too out of the ordinary!" you say? You are afraid your kids will balk. Well, forget the kids. Sneak a private taste test. Yes, you deserve something deliciously uplifting. Why not treat yourself to a bowl of this heartwarming combo when no one is looking. Chances are you'll decide to keep this little tip to yourself to ensure that your household's apple sauce and ice cream supplies don't mysteriously disappear from the kitchen while you aren't looking.

However, should you decide to share this dessert idea with your family, and if you succeed at convincing little Mikey and the other naysayers to try it, I bet they'll like it. Be forewarned though; there's a good chance that they might not stop eating long enough to actually say, "Thank you, Mom." But, as you watch them change their tune from "Yu-uck!" to, "Umm, Ummmmm, Good!" you'll know that you're a cool Mom in their eyes, at least for the moment.

Have you used an unusual topping to turn plain ole vanilla ice cream into an extraordinary treat?
Share your tip in the comments below.

And, Enjoy!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Sell Your Handmade Arts & Crafts through ArtFire’s Free-For-All

ArtFire - Buy Handmade - Sell Handmade

Do you like to dabble in crafts? Do you make your own gifts by hand? Have any of your family or friends suggested you try selling the items you create? Do you already sell online but want to try another venue?

If you answered yes to any of the above, now may be the right time for you to take advantage of the ArtFire Holiday Free-For-All--Just click on the graphic above. Artfire is the fastest growing handmade venue on the internet and is offering a risk-free way for potential sellers to test the market.

During the month of October, those who sign up for a Basic (free) account can use the the Global Product Editor and the Etsy Importer, which are features usually reserved for Verified ($12/month for life) account sellers. During October, even basic accounts can list an unlimited number of items in their studio. And there, are no listing, selling, or other fees.

It almost sounds too good to be true. But, Artfire is hoping that new sellers trying their venue will be so pleased with their experience that they will continue on as an Artfire seller after the holiday season. So this is their way of “Paying It Forward” and helping all handmade artists have a very merry holiday season.

This is one time you might not want to procrastinate. After all, it’s a Free-For-All.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Breathing New Life into Old Treasures

While taking a stroll through cyberspace this week, something caught my eye and held my attention as it tickled my trash to treasure fetish.

Elena, of EP Designs based in Australia, wrote about what she did to breath new life into some old discarded gravy boats and a friend's well-used silver trinket box. Elena's store Timeless Treasures is hosted by

I'm a decorative painter as well, but have never thought about painting some of my old, well-worn, silver plated pieces. So thanks Elena for getting that light bulb to go off in my head. The article that inspired me is entitled: "Created With Love" and can be found on Elena's Blog.

Not only did her article fan my passion for transforming trash into treasure, it also introduced me to something called "Pink Saturday". Now being a tomboy at heart, and not much of a girly girl, the color pink isn't usually something that captures my interest. However, what Beverly, author of the blog How Sweet the Sound, started on June 6, 2008 has caught on and spread like a wild fire among fellow bloggers. "So Just What is Pink Saturday" describes how Pink Saturday got started, and "Let's Talk About Pink Saturday" is an update on the goals and rules of engagement.

If you're a blogger, you may want to look into this. This past Saturday, 157 bloggers participated. There were six new participants this week, so it's not too late to jump on the bandwagon. Even if you decide not to participate by posting something pink on Saturday, visiting the blogs of those who do and seeing some of their "Pinks" is a hoot. So, have fun poking around. It's so much more entertaining than most of what's on TV these days. I even saw a photo of a live pink poodle. (I suspect the photo was altered digitally, but maybe not.)


Photo Courtesy:

Top and Middle Left: Elena of EP Designs

Botton Right: Beverly of How Sweet the Sound

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Pennsylvania Brick and Mortar Shops Dedicated to Handmade

Seems like the handmade movement may be really catching on through out America, or at least in Pennsylvania. Michelle, the jewelry artist behind Michabella Creations, recently wrote two blog posts about brick and mortar shops dedicated to promoting the work of local artists and artisans.

In Michelle's article entitled "Hello Bluebird Grand Opening" she introduces an online friend's brand new boutique and gallery located in the historic business district of West Reading, PA. By going to Hello Bluebird's website, you can learn all about why the owners dreamed of establishing such a shop and how they turned their dream into a reality.

In another article entitled "My First Jewelry Class", Michelle mentions The Hodge Podgery, an establishment located in Midtown Harrisburg that is dedicated to promoting the independent arts and crafts movement in Pennsylvania. Besides offering artists and crafters the opportunity to consign their functional handmade creations this shop also runs classes and workshops to the DIYers interested in learning how to do a specific craft themselves.

Where there are two, there are probably three, four, or even more. So, if you know of other brick and mortar shops throughout the country, or the world for that matter, please leave their name and link in the comments section below. If enough of you reply, I'll try to include the local shops and their links in another article about making your Christmas this year a Handmade Christmas.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Etsy Artists Help Fellow Etsy Artists

Visiting blogs is often like going on a treasure hunt. This past weekend, while checking out others’ blogs I found a wonderful, inspiring and uplifting nugget on a blog called “Bags by Melanie.” In the right hand sidebar, Melanie, who has an Etsy store also called Bags by Melanie, has a short write-up that Introduces H.O.S.T.

H.O.S.T. is the Etsy “Helping Others Street Team”, which is comprised of over 100 Esty artists who share the virtuous quality of compassion. HOST has its origins in a discussion thread started by Heather, of Heather R. Lange Art, at 3:15pm on December 20, 2007 entitled “Is Anyone in Need This Season?”

The response was overwhelming—almost 3000 posts in only 7 days. There were a lot of sad stories relating the need of Etsians and their families, but each sad story was answered by an outpouring of posts with words of encouragement, freewill gifts and donations, and leads on resources that might help meet a specific need.

Approximately five hours after the thread began, an Etsy buyer of handmade who goes by GeauxOrganic, commented “I think there needs to be an Etsy gives back street team.” Many participating in the discussion, agreed and 3 days later HOST became an official street team on Etsy.

I think Melanie’s mention of the HOST team caught my eye, because I recently wrote an article for which was published in their Guild and Team Department. “Virtual Strangers Offer Surprise Support to Team Member with Cancer” tells the story of Etsy Artist Joyce Richards of Wild Orchid’s Beads of Glass who was recently diagnosed with Cancer and how members of her Etsy Twitter Team (ETT) reached out with the same kind of compassion that members of HOST show their fellow Etsians.

“Hosties”, as they call themselves, offer friendship, emotional support, help with shop promotion, and basic financial assistance. If you’d like to help the Hosties help others, you can become a member, go to their team blog and make a monetary donation, purchase an item from their team store or donate an item to their store. Below is a glimpse into the HOST Etsy Store.

I do believe that when we have compassion and act on our compassion, we make the world a better place. I also believe, that in a time when so many in our country are struggling, it’s wonderful, inspiring and uplifting to hear and share good news. I hope this brief article, warms your heart and stirs up even more compassion in all of us.

Monday, August 17, 2009

New Type of Button Creatively Crafted

Normally when I think of a button, I think of a fastener sewn onto clothing. However, these days in the internet world of blogging and websites, creatively crafted buttons can add eye pleasing pizazz and polish for online readers.

Recently while cruising down blog lane, I stumbled upon "Critical Mass", a blog written by a Texan named Rae Ann. As I began reading about her travels, my eyes kept wandering to the sidebars which are loaded with "buttons". And then, I finally realized that Rae Ann designs web buttons, banners, and backgrounds which are for sale online at the Button Box.

There are many other graphic artists out there who also design web buttons and other "branding" aids for the online entrepreneur. I did a quick search on both and, seeing as those are my favorite two handmade selling venues.

I found the variety of styles amazing, from cartoon like depictions, to vintage collage, to professionally business like to name a few. Somewhere, there is a graphic artist that can give you the style you're looking for. So if you're in the market for web buttons or other graphic design services, here's a list of artists I ran across in my preliminary search, all of whom would be happy to work with you on a custom design to fit your exact needs.

I designed my own logo, avatar, and banner, but if you used a graphic designer for your shop or blog, please tell us about your experience in the comment section below. Also, feel free to leave a comment if you are a graphic designer and want to add your name to the partial list above or just tell us more about your style or the services you offer.

It's great when we can support each other artist to artist.

Photo Courtesy
Top Left: Rae Ann of the Button Box
Bottom Right: Joyful Rose

Read through the comments to see graphic artists like that have been recommended by other readers!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Working Magic with a White Elephant

I truly believe “Necessity is the Mother of Invention” and nothing stirs up my creative juices like the need of a friend. And Mezz, of MezziG Creations and author of Creative Outlet, is a perfect example of exactly that. She took a friend’s sentimental white elephant and worked her magic by turning it into 8 upcycled heirloom pieces for members of her friend’s family. To the left is a picture of one of my favorites. To get the whole story and see the other 7 necklaces as well as a picture of the original piece of jewelry that she creatively re-purposed, I suggest you read her article entitled “For Friends.”

Mezz is a talented jewelry artist from Sydney, Australia who recently picked up kumihimo. “What is kumihimo?” you may be asking, at least I sure did. Kumihimo is an ancient Japanese art form of “gathering threads” and braiding them into intricate and highly decorative designs. It’s sort of a refined macramé that is done using a special disc as a loom. If you’d like to learn more about kumihimo, I once again point you to Mezz's blog where you will find these three articles: Braiding One, Braiding Two, and Using My Kumihimo.

I very much enjoyed running into Mezz in cyberspace. She comes across as energetic yet grounded. Her writing has a casual upbeat tempo and I found the samples of her handmade jewelry intriguing and her stories heartwarming. I thought you too might enjoy meeting her. And if you head for her blog, I hope you enjoy your time there as much as I did.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Honoring American Women and Being Honored

Mary Anne Gruen, of Startlight Blog, blew me away twice today. The first time was with her July 4th post (which I just read yesterday) about four American Heroines I had never heard of before. And the second time was when I discovered that Mary Anne had bestowed upon me (for my blog) the Neno's Award.

Most importantly, I hope you'll visit her blog and read In Honor of July 4th. It's an enlightening article about the impact four women had on our developing country--these were four women I had never heard of before: Sybil Ludington, Deborah Sampson (alias Robert Shurtliff), Nancy Hart, and Phillis Wheatley. Reading a short recap of these women's stories reminded me that no matter whether we are men or women, slave or free, young or old, we all have a contribution to make and a chance to leave our mark on the world.

Secondly, I admit that I'm better at tooting someone else's horn than tooting my own. So it was a very pleasant surprise to discover I had been given the Neno's Award by Mary Anne. I was both honored and humbled when she recognized me as a "team player who's always looking to support other artists." It's so empowering and uplifting to be recognized for who I am, and not just the quality of my stained glass and decorative folk painting. So thank you, Mary Anne. You made my day!

The Neno's Award was originally created by Retno Sofyaniek from Denpasar, Indonesia and first distributed to her exchange-links on March 16, 2009. Retno, who goes by her childhood knick name Neno, did a search for "Neno's Award" just for curiosity sake on May 2 and was totally amazed to find out that in those 6 weeks thousands of bloggers had received and posted the award. Neno is an English teacher working for an educational company in Kuta and the name of her blog is "I Can't Stop Smiling All the Time".

Neno initiated this award as a way to recognize and applaud those who love blogging and love to encourage friendships through blogging. She also wanted the receipients to share why they enjoy blogging. These were the "rules" she suggested for the receipients of the award.
• Put the award in one post as soon as you receive it.
• Don’t forget to mention the person who gives you the award.
• Answer the award’s question by writing the reason why you love blogging.
• Tag and distribute the award to as many people as you like.
• Don’t forget to notify the award receivers and put their links in your post.

What amazes me the most about this award, is that when I searched "Neno Award" there were 358,000 results, yet it has morphed very little. The "rules" cited by Mary Anne asks that the reciepient includes links to the person's blog who game them the award as well as links to the blogs they are recognizing witht he award in their post about the award. And the new stipulation is that one nominates 5 fellow bloggers to receive the award instead of leaving it up to the receipient.

I don't think it's important to follow the specifics of the rules, but rather to remain in the spirit of the award's creator. So with that in mind, I'd like to nominate the following:

Military Spouse Web for their tireless efforts in promoting and supporting the businesses run by military service members' spouses. It's a noble patriotic thing to do and a great way to recognize the sacrifices made by the spouses and families of our soldiers. Thank you.

TeriB of S & T Creations for her openness and eagerness in sharing her expertise through several on line venues. I often catch myself wondering if she ever sleeps.

Arlene of Spirit Essence Art for her creative enthusiasm and her willingness to spur us all on by sharing both her struggles and her successes in living an artist's life. A stop by her blog always leaves me inspired.

And lastly, I should mention why I like to's simply I love to write, I love to connect people with other people, and I love to reflect on life. Blogging lets me do all three at once.

Copper Wire Caught My Eye

Recently, I was refered to the blog By Earth Expressions where artist Suzy of Earth Expressions on was showing off some of her latest handcrafted copper jewelry. I was immediately drawn in and found many of her jewelry pieces to be intriguing.

As a stained glass artist, I often work with copper wire as reinforcement as well as decorative embellishments for my pieces. I also enjoyed seeing the way Suzy used glass, wood, and resin to make one of a kind necklace pendants. So I thought I'd share the links to her blog and her shop with you, in case you have a minute to take a look.

For a quick trip to see either of these items in Suzy's Etsy just click on their photo. And, thanks Suzy for letting me use your photos.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Military Musings

Once a military wife, always a military wife! And as a (retired) military wife I enjoyed reading the musings of Amanda, author and owner of the blog: Confessions from Household6. As soon as I read her subtitle, "life from my quarters to yours" I felt a connection. (For those of you that aren't military, our "quarters" are our homes especially when living on base in military housing.)

I don't know Amanda personally, but many of her stories made me smile as I reminisced about the good ole days when our kids were still living at home, and our life was full of moves, TDY's (involuntary separations due to Temporary Duty assignments), and ways to have fun without spending much money like BYO (Bring Your Own) meat BBQ's and neighborhood street parties.

Even though, because of PCS' (Permanent Change of Station), friends came and went as if through a revolving door, the friendships we made with other military families have lasted through the years and long absences just make the cherished reconnections by phone, email, facebook, and real life visits all the more precious.

If you'd like a glimpse into military family life that's told with a sense of humor, and yet smacks of a reality show, you might want to grab a cup of tea, stop by her blog, and settle down for a good read. But if you only have time for a quicky, I suggest her one (1) paragraph story entitled "Busted". Amada is a creative and disciplined blogger who takes her digital scrapbooking seriously and posts a new article virtually everyday.

Families of our military also deserve our thanks and our support. You can give her a boost, by leaving a comment under one of her blog posts. As a fellow blogger, I can tell you that it's always nice to know that someone read what you spent time writing. And, if Amanda ever turns her musings into a book, you can say you were reading her stories even before she became famous.

And speaking of supporting the families of our military... The next time you are in need of a present for a special occassion consider buying something handmade from a Homefront Artist. Homefront is a support community for the artistically talented military spouses of active duty, reservist, or retired United States Service members who are selling their artwork on Etsy, Artfire, or 1000 Markets.

I'm a member of the Etsy Homefront Street Team and our motto is: "We keep the homefires burning for our uniformed service members worldwide." To learn more about this group of artists, visit their blog by clicking here.

When you make a purchase from a member of Homefront, you are supporting a military spouse. Most Homefront Etsy artists have tagged their items with the words "Homefront Team" in order to facilitate a search for their items. However, the quickest and easiest way is to just click on one of the buttons below.

To Shop for Homefront Artists on

To Shop for Homefront Artists on

To Shop for Homefront Artists on 1000

And, if you know of another Homefront group, please leave their link in the comments below.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Extraordinary Work Space

While out cruising the web this Sunday afternoon, I saw something that made me stop and take a second look. A couple of weeks back, Kim, of The Polka Dot Press, gave us an inside glimpse of her workspace and cited the source of her inspiration as the magazine "Where Women Create."

I'm not usually the jealous type, but seeing her space made me think about revamping my own. I could take my ordinary space--a studio with a cement floor like a basement or garage and lots of shelving and flat counter tops made of plywood--and turn it into something extra ordinary.

July sounds like a good month for that type of project. Maybe I'll take some before and after pictures to share. Maybe I should get a copy of that magazine and read it first. Or at least I should dream about it for a few days... I sure would like to work in an environment that was comfortable, esthetically pleasing, and inspiring rather than just utilitarian or functional. Thinking cap on...

How about you? Any ideas??? Don't hold back. I may just incorporate your suggestions into my revamped space. So open up a comment box and tell us about the best feature in your workspace? Is there anything about your space that motivates or stimulates your creative process? Do you have a unique organizational system for storing your supplies or finished pieces?

Petty Cash Box photo courtesy of TippleandSnack of Etsy

Felted Pencil Cup photo courtesy of CozyCottageCreations of Etsy

Monday, June 15, 2009

Writing for

I highly recommend as a great resource for both buyers and sellers in the world of handmade. It's a comprehensive site, with a dynamic staff of columnists and editors writing for 14 sections or departments including:

Main Feature
Craft Techniques
Guild & Teams
Just for Fun
Craft Trends
Business Tips
Green Wise
Featured Artisan
Item of the Day
Crafty Kids
Front Page
Most Popular

This site was launched on June 8th and is quickly growing in popularity. Some of the articles I've found most interesting include:

Create Your Own Seed Paper
An article about making seed paper that you can write a note on and
then the recipient can plant it rather that put it in the trash

Vetrazzo-The Ultimate Example of Trash to Treasure
An article about a company who makes gorgeous counter tops out of recycled glass
that competing as an elegant alternative to more expensive granite

Snow Globes For Any Occasion
These would be a great craft project for kids--even teens, a fabulous table decoration for a fundraiser or as a wedding favor or a get well present for someone stuck in bed.

Sock Coffee Cozy: A Craft Supply Challenge Project
You don't even have to be crafty to do this project. All you need are a stash of lonely socks who lost their partner to the hungry monster in the washing machine or dryer.

Recrafting Yourself in the Second Half of Life

Some of you may not be there, but at 50+ and in the second half of my life, all I can say is, "Amen!"

That's a sampling just to whet your appetite. New articles are published every day in each department. Now that I'm a columnist in the Guild & Teams department, I don't have as much time for perusing. So, why don't you go to and read an article for me. If you really like it, use the comments below to recommend it to the rest of us.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Nature's Best and Giveaway #5

I'm intrigued by the NaturalKids team on Etsy. They have their own blog and their own store front where you can shop by category. But I had never heard of them until I read about their giveaway on a blog called Woolies-Woolies. The specific prize was not announced, but browsing through their items, I'd be happy to win anything.

To enter, all you need to do is visit two of their members' etsy store and pick a favorite item from each and mention them in a comment at the end of the Natural Kids Giveaway #5 article. Hope you have as much fun as I did.

One of their members named Sara is the author of Woolies-Woolies. She is an artist and avid knitter who has two shops on Etsy: Woolies & Buster and Boo. She creates knitted shawls, baby items, stuffed animals, as well as jewelry and accessories.

Here is one piece from each or her shops to whet your appetite. (Click on the image for more details.)

Diamonds for Your Shoulders

Photo courtesy of Woolies

Vintage Typewriter Key Necklace, the letter H

Photo courtesy of Buster and Boo


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Is Life Art?

I have no clue which Ernst Fisher gave us this art quote of the day, but his words could have been my words:

“I don’t want life to imitate art. I want life to be art.”--Ernst Fischer

I believe there is an art to enjoying life. No one ever gets to live a fairytale life, for each of our lives is full of “curve balls” and every once in a while we are dealt a bad hand. I’ve come to realize that the secret to life is not in getting the right cards, or even the best cards, but it’s in how we play our hand.

A good poker player can beat three of a kind with a pair of deuces. I saw that happen once. And, I’ve heard a friend who lost their job tell me that he and his wife decided to take an evening stroll instead of their usual Friday night dinner at a fancy restaurant, and ended up having a wonderful time. They took lemons and artfully made lemonade.

Life is art, when we enjoy the people we love and the beauty that surrounds us. My life is living art when I take the time to sit with my husband at the edge of a lake, and we open our senses to the natural beauty that is before us just waiting to be noticed.

As we sit there, we soak in the beautiful changing colors of the sunset. The dazzling diamond like sparkles of light bouncing on the rippling water mesmerizes us. We are lulled into a relaxed peacefulness by the soft lapping sound of baby waves. A hint of pine from the forest just behind us fills our nostrils as we breathe in slowly and purposefully. We are caressed by the feathery touch of the gentle breeze. Two birds frolicking in the air just above our heads provide entertainment, and we giggle over the frog that has perched himself on a nearby log and watches us with curiosity. We share the secrets from our day intermittently with moments of intimate silence. We experience life as a taste of heaven and life becomes art.

Unfortunately we can’t stay at the edge of the lake forever. But we can continue to live our life in an artful way. A good artist uses their medium to create a piece of art that stirs our souls into seeing something in a new and appealing way. We become the artist of our lives when we not only look for beauty in every person and situation but when we open ourselves to really take in that beauty and experience it in a new way.

Please leave a comment about a time when you experienced life as art…

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Award Winning Blog

ByCoco's Art for Everyday Enjoyment is now an award winning blog thanks to Studio618. That blog received this award from MandiBeads who received it from from Anna of Life, Craftiness, and Everything Else who received it from Leslie of Shrimp Salad Circus... You get the idea...

I'm thrilled to have received it, not only because it's my first award, but because I really enjoy passing along good things and this gives me the opportunity to do just that--sort of like playing Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny.

Let's see, while envisioning myself as One Lovely Blog Award Fairy, whose blogs come to mind?

In my humble opinion, I think these fellow blogs also deserve this award because... Well check them out for yourself.

Cheers! & Congratulations!
This is one of Studio618's jewelry pieces for sale on ArtFire.

If these blogs choose to accept this award, they should post it on their blog along with my name and a link to my blog and then pass the award on to 15 other blogs.

Thank you, Studio618 for passing this award on to me for this blog and for the opportunity to introduce my readers to these other noteworthy blogs. Hope you had fun checking them out and I hope they enjoy passing on the honor by recognizing other blogs.

I can't resist showing off one more piece of Studio618's jewelry. This wire pendant with turquoise beads is for sale in her Etsy shop. I thought it was both unique and intriguing.
Click on the picture to take a closer look and get the details about this piece.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Trash to Treasure Using Old Plaques

Fellow artist, Sayo Granich-Lee, found some old discarded plaques and wants to turn them into display pieces for her jewelry. In an article entitled "New Displays" on her blog she solicits ideas from her readers. Her article got my creative mind to whirling and believing that the more ideas the merrier, I thought I'd try to direct a few creative geniuses her way.

I'm thinking she should go ahead with her plan to strip and refinish the plaques. I'd do it in a natural wood finish (either light, medium or dark). I would then mount a hand on one, a pair of ears on another, and maybe a neck (with or without a manikin style head) on yet another turning them into 3D displays similar to taxidermy mountings. The protruding forms could be made of styrofoam, paper-mâché, clay, or other easily sculpted material and then covered in a black flocking giving them a velvety felt like finish. Plaques could then be hung on a wall or other vertical surface and rings could be displayed on the fingers of the hand, earrings could dangle from holes in the ears, and a necklace could be draped around the neck.

The remaining plaques could be topped with a raised black velvet pad and placed flat on a table or shelf (like a plate or tray) and Sayo's jewelry pieces could be laid on top. Or maybe...

Oh, Oh, Oh, my brain is racing away with me. Another option would be to affix a cork pad to front of the refinished plaques and a frame brace on the back. Pins could hole the jewelry in place and the plaques could be displayed angled slightly back on a table or shelf. Or she could prop them up on an angle for a more sophisticated look.

Enough of my ideas. If you enjoy transforming trash into treasure as much as I do, why don't you head over to the article on her blog, let your imagination run wild and leave your ideas in her comment section. I know she would appreciate your creative insights as she takes these ordinary plaques and turns them into an extraordinary display for her artwork.

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Memorial Day Thank You

As a retired military spouse, I know first hand the sacrifices required of service members and their families. Some are huge like loss of limb or loss of life for the sake of others' freedom. Some are not that life altering, but still huge, like missing the birth of your child, missing milestones in their life, or not being to together to celebrate your anniversary. Some are small, like early morning PT (physical training), living on a tight budget, or short TDY's (periods of involuntary separation because of a temporary duty assignment).
My husband has been retired for over a decade now, but we still miss those good old days. Looking back in time and reflecting on our time in the military, I can see all the sacrifices we made. Back then, while living it, we were too busy sacrificing to notice. It was a way of life, and a way of life that brought the best out in us and our children.
Anyway, as a tribute to all those who have served, and all those serving, I wanted to say "thank you." So I started the following thread on and hope that you will go there and leave a comment of thanks.
I had originally planned to send the link to my husband as a present this Memorial Day, but think I will also forward it to many of our military friends. Feel free to do the same.
When I last checked there were 41 comments. Hope there's many more by the time you add yours.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Proud to be a Mainer and Even Prouder of My Fellow Etsy Mainers

Click here to read all about it!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Fiber Artist Makes Pouches with Pizazz

Had it not been for Jenny, author of Creature of Craft, I may never have stumbled upon fiber artist, Robyn of ShibaNg Designs, who creates these attractive pouches and purses. I was immediately drawn to her use of splashy color on neutral backgrounds and kept hearing the fuzzy texture whisper in my ear an invitation to reach out and touch it. Ooh, la, la.

Robyn’s zippered pouches come in several sizes: a 3.5" x 5" coin purse, an 8" x 5" pencil case, and a 2" x 4" x 8" cosmetic bag. Not only are they beautiful, but they are functional and versatile as well. For, instance, the coin purse is also the right size to keep keys, most cell phones, mp3 players, tissues, rosaries, or individually wrapped hand wipes. Just use your imagination, and fill them with whatever pieces you need to keep protected or bundled together inside a pocket, a bag, or even a drawer.

The process Robyn uses starts with a screen print. Then she applies hand-dyed felted wool to create the flower applique, making each one unique yet in a style that is recognizable as her own. Her pouches feature a vinyl lining for durability and a zipper closure for functionality. In my mind, Robyn takes these ordinary useful items and gives them artistic pizazz, making them extraordinary and a delightful way to keep items organized in your purse.

Speaking of purses, Robyn also makes purses. The purse pictured here is 17”x13” with a shoulder strap that is 25”. To help the bag hold its shape and to add durability, Robyn uses heavy duty polyester interfacing as an interlining between the bag and the cotton lining. This purse also features an inside zippered pocket and a magnetic snap to keep it closed.

If you’d like to learn more about Robyn, her education, and her craft check out Jenny’s May 15th Artist Feature Friday article on her blog, CreatureofCraft. And while you are there, check out Jenny’s bead weaving. She too is a gifted artist, offering some exceptional handmade items through her store, JMackJems, on Etsy.

Clicking on any picture in this article will take you to that item’s online listing. If you know someone else you think would enjoy Robyn’s pouches and purses, please send them the link to this article. And don’t forget to leave a comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts and reactions to either Robyn and her work or Jenny and her work.