Sunday, January 31

Harbinger of spring

Thank you to LaurieRyan Photography for this lovely photo.
Be sure to check out all her great wildlife and nature photos.
Like every Sunday, I want to bring you beautiful photos of God's wonderful Artwork!

Friday, January 29

Saturday Shopping!

What a better thing to do on a Saturday, then to shop! I love to browse around the net looking for items to add to my wish list. I thought it would be fun to include those here. Not only the items I like, but a little bio about each of the artist who created them. I am on the art sites a lot...and I do mean a lot (just ask Ky the Amazing) When I found an item I liked I bookmarked it, then asked the Artisan/Crafters to tell me a bit about themselves. I’ve not edited the responses, nor did I give them any sort of direction- just asked for 500 or so words telling us all a little bit about themselves. Personally I have loved reading the bios and hope you do too. I do not endorse any of them personally of course, I just can’t do that. But I have found them all to be very friendly and wouldn’t hesitate to click the buy button. You can get to their stores by clicking the store name!

Be sure to come back next week. I will have more! This week I brought you 10 items from my wish list, next Saturday I will bring you 5 more!


The Bumpkin

P.S. Don’t forget to check Huckleberry Bumpkins Folk Art while you’re shopping! *wink*


COOL STRAPS (please see the ad on this page!!!)

Custom guitar strap artisan, Terri Hearne of Cool Straps Custom Handmade Guitar Straps, has created a singular niche in the world of music accessories with her custom handmade fabric guitar straps. From monograms to palm trees, Terri is able to capture, through her fabrics, threads, beads, appliqués, and any number of creative devices, the images musicians want to convey to their audience.

Terri began making guitar straps in 1998 when her then 14-year-old son asked her to decorate his $5 Ernie Ball strap. After conducting a series of interviews and surveys of musicians, she developed a strap design to address their concerns about quality, construction, durability, functionality, and appearance. The result of those surveys is an intentionally over-engineered, extremely durable, absolutely unique guitar strap.

Terri’s strap foundation is a 6-foot long, 3-inch wide, 2000-pound-test commercial grade polypropylene strip. The 3-inch width addresses the issue of weight distribution on the shoulder, a major comfort consideration for guitarists. The 6-foot length addresses the concerns of bass players and tall guitarists who need a considerably longer strap. A decorative top fabric is based-stitched to the foundation and embroidery, beads, appliqués, pendants, jewels, or other ornamentation, are then applied to the top fabric to create the image her buyer wants or the image she has in her mind. The back of the strap is lined with complementing satin or rayon, slick materials that keep the strap from grabbing and bunching musicians’ shirts as they play.

Terri’s leather button tabs are unsurpassed in their strength and longevity. A common failure of conventional guitar straps is the eventual tearing of the single layer leather tab, which renders the strap completely unusable. Terri’s leather tab design has overcome that problem. Her preferred leather is an 8-inch length of suede that has been doubled over a commercial grade anchor bar. The two halves are glued with professional strength tanner’s glue, then double whip-stitched around the perimeter of the tab with heavy waxed leather sewing thread. While ordinary strap tabs are always black, Terri uses a variety of stained leathers—not only black but chocolate, brown, grey, and buckskin, creating a truly customized quality to the strap’s appearance.

All this attention to the quality of materials and construction, and the creative freedom that comes with a strap created utterly from scratch, does not overshadow the paramount consideration of cost. While Terri’s straps have been bought by well-known musicians, her heart is really for local musicians. With her two sons in their own band, Tailgunner Joe, Terri realizes how precious every dollar is to young, struggling musicians and how important confidence is when a musician steps onstage. That is, ultimately, what Terri wants to give her buyers, not just a great guitar strap but the sense of specialness every musician needs to succeed? Consequently, her straps are priced to be accessible to even the most modest budget. Musicians need not settle for the ordinary anymore when the extraordinary is available at Cool Straps Custom Handmade Guitar Straps.

Fantasy Clay

Tell me about yourself: I always hate this question. I don’t have much to tell, I’m Susan Averello, married to my college sweetie, still living in the same city where I was born, mom of 2 teenagers. I’m not really that exciting. I’m a little on the geeky side. I work, I eat, I sleep and in my spare time I am a polymer clay artist. I did however always like art. I drew, I painted, and I used bread dough, anything I could get my hands on. I was probably the only kid who looked forward to art classes.

I tried many mediums over the years, but about 10 years ago I found polymer clay, completely by accident. It moved me like nothing else did. The colors are spectacular and mixable and it is easy to use. It allows for so many possibilities. More than anything I like making more sculptural pieces. Making creations and figures are especially fun. I feel like they came to life in my hands; after a certain point they have their own personalities and I am just adding the finishing touches. I love making fantasy pieces because the rules are my own and I can go in any direction with how I want them to look. They are like little friends; each one is completely different being, even when I made similar items.

I like to keep expanding my repertoire. I started adding beaded embellishments to some and then tried steam punk, using gears and metallic’s for an old fashioned industrial look, most recently I have started making faux rock beads. I don’t stop with the older techniques; just add to what I already know. Each new technique just builds on what I already know. Part of keeping fresh is doing custom work. I always accept custom jobs, if I am capable of it. Customers can have great ideas of what they want, things I wouldn’t have tried unless someone requested it, either because I didn’t think of it or just let it go. Sometimes it is a brand new technique or item for me, other times it’s using a color scheme that hadn’t occurred to me for a type of piece. I keep myself open to new ideas where ever I can find them.

Carla & Crew

My name is Carla and my ornaments glow in the dark once they're exposed to light. I started making onaments for family and friends as gifts because when my kids were little I found myself divorced and couldn't afford gifts for family and friends. It took me a few months to figure out this idea that was in my head. After about 6 months, I took a box of them to work to show the ladies I was working with and they offered to buy them. A few years later I was working on a different project and ended up with glow in the dark glitter. I buy the glitter direct from the manufacturer to keep down on the cost of materials and buy in bulk as much as possible. I learned that buying in bulk keeps costs down when I was making bath & body products. (I still make them sometimes for personal use as well as a few wonderful customers that are spoiled, lol. So from time to time you will see some B&B items in my studio. For a few years B&B paid the bills and then the ornaments took over.) I'm a single mom of 2 teenagers that I home-school. My son is a senior this year and my daughter is a sophomore. They both help with the business if I need them to and they have time. This is my full time job.

At Christmas I have a kiosk that is shared with a friend at our local mall (it's a small mall compared to most but it's pretty busy at that time of the year) and we are right beside a craft consignment store near JCPenneys so we get a good amount of traffic. We're there from a few days before Thanksgiving all the way through to Christmas eve, 7 days a week.

There were several customers asking me if there was any way I could do personal photos so after about 2 years and spending more money than I care to admit to, I figured out a way to make them. They take quite a bit more time to make but they are so much more personal than any stock design ever could be. At the mall we got orders for over 200 custom ornaments. (I stopped taking orders about a week before 'normal' because I wanted to make sure they could ALL be done in time for Christmas.) Last year I think I figured we made over 6,500 ornaments (I won't tell you how many were broken on purpose because I didn't like the way they looked but I have standards that they have to meet before I'll even try to sell them) and of course since they're glass we usually break a couple in transport from 1 show to the next no matter how hard we try.

When we make Awareness Ribbon ornaments we donate a set amount to that charity, for example, 2 years ago I made 12 dozen Breast Cancer Awareness ornaments and donated $144 to Relay for Life. We have a growing number of Ribbon designs now with more coming soon.

KS Inspirations

My name is Kayla Sparacino. I’m married and the mother of a toddler, as well as a full time college student. My major is nursing but plan to graduate with a degree in history as well. I work in my room while watching movies often with my son. We can’t get enough “Fraggles”. I’m not sure there is one thing to define me. I’m a mother, wife, I make jewelry and I love old trans ams! I make jewelry that I wished I could find and never could. My family helps at times. My husband likes the fact that I have a hobby that uses tools and he will find those for me and surprise me with them. My son looks at several items and tells me what he thinks they look like. I have many ideas that have come from that. I live with my husband, son, grandmother, three cats, dog and even some fish in a very rural area of central Kentucky now. I am very secluded and surrounded by nature. It inspires me more and more. I’ve lived in four other states before this. We moved here because of the better job selection. I learned my craft from a few places and my grandmother first. She and I both do a fair amount of embroidery, and knitting for that matter. She got me started a few years ago with bead weaving. I have since moved on and taught myself other skills. Mostly from looking at how things were made and what tools you can work with, then there is the majority that is from experimentation. That’s my favorite. I’ve been known to raid my husband’s tools to see what I can do with them. I even get my plain copper wire from left over car parts after he has worked on them. I really think handmade is very beneficial to society. Environmentally there is less waste, be it from machinery or supplies. Then you are directly helping the individual that made the item, and getting skilled work. I’m almost afraid to imagine where I would like to go with my jewelry next. Being able to live off my work is a dream! I started KSInspirations on Etsy as a way to fund a hobby. I would love to learn as many more techniques as possible and maybe incorporate more skills I already have into my work. The best advice I can give is to experiment and don’t give up. The more you experiment the easier it will be to find that little detail to set you apart from the others. And it is the most fun. Don’t be afraid to ask small children what they think. They will tell the truth. They know pretty when they see it and not afraid to say something isn’t. Look for inspiration in the most obscure places. It seems to work.

GoldenPond Studio

MY name is Jessica Felix and my business is Golden Pond Studio. I am a Jewelry Designer who makes great quality designs that you can wear no matter what the occasion. I Have always loved jewelry for as long I as I can remember. I have always wanted to be a volcanologist... well since 3rd grade... before that i wanted to be a marine biologist; needless to say I was a very odd child. I was always picking up rocks and toting them home. Instead of playing at the playground I would look in the gravel they had on it for hidden "treasures". Starting around Jr. year of high school I found a great little shop in the town where I worked at the time. It was a bead supply and jewelry shop. You can imagine what happened next.. yup that’s right I found out that I can make great jewelry with my amazing little "treasures" that I had collected over the years. Ever since that day I have never been able to get enough of it.. I love all types of designs and all types of mediums. My personal favorite is of course stones and natural items but I am really starting to expand my wirework.

I got my business name because of the pond at my mom’s house. The neighbor boy saw that some feeder goldfish got thrown out to die and he tried to save them by putting them in our pond. Well save them he did. It just so happens feeder goldfish are a low oxygen carp and guess what kind of pond we have, that’s right a low oxygen pond. My family is now the proud owners of hundreds of feeder goldfish is all colors and sizes.

I started my business by making jewelry for the people I worked with and it grew from there. What was once a way to make money on the side is now my full fledged business trying to make it out in the big wide world. I hopefully will be in business still when I am 90 because I truly do love to design and make unique pieces for others to enjoy. I find my inspiration for many of my designs from everyday things... while on a walk or playing with my dog, or just hanging out with my family or my guy. The world is endless when it comes to new ideas to design into jewelry.

By Camille

Tell me about yourself? My name is Camille Jacks Morgan and I am an obsessive compulsive creator. Originally from Jamaica, I suppose it's kind of interesting that I love to create scarves, wraps etc. After working with yarn for a while I started trying to crochet with other materials like wire and, leather and jute. I hold a B.F.A. in Computer Art from the Savannah College of Art and Design, but I have often regretted not pursing my first design. My shops are "by Camille" on Artfire, "cmorgan3511" and "homebycamille" on Etsy. I also write for Most of my articles are for the Crafty Kids department.

Tell me about your craft/mediums. I have been obsessed with crocheting since I taught myself about 5 years ago. My new passion is Tunisian crochet. It's easier on my hands and the finished piece has the look of knitting. I also love creating jewelry. I'm partial to semi-precious stones, copper and silver. Oil painting and pastels are other mediums I hope to enjoy again sometime in the near future.

Why do you love your particular mediums? I derive tactile pleasure from handling yarn. Just walking down the aisle taking in the variety of textures and colors makes me giddy. I also enjoy the look of crocheted wire, in particular copper.

What are your influences? What doesn't influence me would be easier to answer! Designs pop into my head all the time just from looking at a flower, magazine or just about everything around me. My head hurts sometimes because I can't make things fast enough! So I have started to keep a notebook in my handbag for sketching.

Tell me about your most enjoyable experience with a customer. To date my most enjoyable experience was receiving an order for a moonlight mohair shawl I had made. A lady in Australia ordered it for her wedding. I was honored that she chose something I made to wear on her special day.

Any advice to new or young sellers just getting their feet wet? It's not easy and it doesn't happen overnight. I am constantly learning about new ways to promote my stores and I spend an inordinate amount of time doing so. I discovered the Forums on Artfire and have met so many wonderful, inspiring and helpful people. I have to be careful not to spend all day interacting with them.

Tell us a bit about the space you create in? How has it evolved since you started your craft? My space? That would be my dining table for sewing and my couch for crocheting. I keep a project bag in the car and crochet whenever I have to wait or while my daughter is swimming.

Who is the person most supportive of your craft business? How do they
support you? My close friend Gail. She has been feeding my yarn addiction for a while now. She finds cool yarn in Miami and mails them to me all the time. She also gives me input and ideas on my items

Time Creations

My name is Roberta Gauci, I am from Malta, which is a small island in europe. I was born in Malta and I really love my country. I am married and have a child of 4 years old, she seems that she will be loving jewllery as me. My husband supports me a lot, however sometimes he thinks I am a dreamer and I will never arrive at the top. However I really think that if you are determined and always move at your own pace you will do it.

I started making jewelery with a small pack of fimo clay, wow it has been a year now and if you see my first itmes now I see them horrible. I improved a lot and will improve more and more. At this moment I am having a Pandora crisies, I really got in love with these beads and so I am trying to make everything with these fatastic beads. You can see some of my works on my blog which is

I am doing this as a part-time job since I have also a full time job. My job is a secretary where sometimes it is really boring. Well since i got these Pandora craze, I am making my colleges spending money, since they are all my loyal clients. Well my wish is that one day I will open my fatastic shop not only online but also a real shop in Malta.

Craft Cove

I make all sorts of jewelry, beaded flowers and crafts. I have always just had a natural affinity for all types of crafts. At Craft Cove you will find chainmail jewelry, wire worked jewelry and beadwoven jewelry, as well as three dimensional beaded ornaments and charms. I also have another website called Flower Cove. Here I've listed everything to do with flowers. There are French Beaded flowers, Victorian beaded flowers and flower bouquets, as well as hair accessories, including barrettes and pins, and hair flowers and fascinators.I do all sorts of beadweaving, I think I've done nearly every sort there is, I find it much more satisfying than just stringing. Some of the weaves I do include, right angle weave, peyote, square stitch, brick stitch, herringbone weave, and many spiral ropes.I live in Churchill, Australia, and my name is Jenny Lawson.

Eruanna on Artifire

I work with a wide range of mediums and make prints as well as originals. My main area of focus is the fantasy genre and the human form, so much of my work contains themes like elves, fawns, merfolk, vampires and other creatures of legend, as well as a lot of whimsicalised nudity and celebration of the human body. I believe body image and the way society reacts to and feels about nudity and the body to be very important subjects that I seek to address as well as areas of sexuality and how we as people relate to each other, through my artwork seeking understanding and social comments. Femininity and masculinity and how such concepts relate to us and how those in turn relate to each other and how they are expressed, are very common themes in my work and I seek to perhaps inspire someone to give such subjects some thought. And, for all that, to have fun and not take myself too seriously, learning to laugh and to love and to share with others. My work is my expression to the world and a sharing of myself, seeking to broaden the mind of the viewer as well as my own.

Clack House Handmade Candles and Tarts
Hi! My name is Chasity Anne Clack. Owner of The Clack House Handmade Candles & Tarts. I'm a stay at home mom of 5 very energetic boys. Lol..You could say life can get pretty interesting! I hand pour candles & tarts right out of my very own candle kitchen here in South Georgia. I absolutely love it! It's so much fun bringing my ideas to life. As you can probably tell from my listings, I absolutely LOVE bakery scents. I welcome custom orders. If you see a listing but want to change the color or scent, let me know, I'll change any of my listings to suit your needs!! At The Clack House you will find one-of-a-kind 100% pure soy candles. All items are made to order and are "baked" fresh! I’ve been making and selling candles and tarts online for 5 years. I’ve recently joined Artfire and I am so excited for what’s in store.

Something from nothing!

In my work, I basically take something that is nothing, and turn it into well, for lack of any inspiration here- something. I use the cast offs.  You can see by the photo, none of it is new, or perfect. It is pitted, paint pealing, ready for the trash! Much of it was rescuded from burn piles. Yeah burn piles. Here in North Idaho we do that. When we aren’t sure what to do with stuff it gets burnt. Yeah, okay behind times, but they don’t call us bumpkins for no reason.

Cast-offs, scraps, something from nothing leads me to today’s featured artist and studio.


Artistan Elisa Jackson is taking bits and scraps and turning them into, as the shop name suggests beautiful work of art handbags. Elisa is based on the sunny Florida Coast. Walks on the beach are taken for granted and an occasional encounter with a gator are not surprising. You would think a coastal life style and gator encounters would call for an adventurous spirit. Not so with Elisa. When asked what one thing defines her I was surprised by the answer “POA. Plan Of Action. I am probably the least spontaneous person ever, but I do like to have fun and try new things. I just like to plan it.”

Perhaps this planned approach is what has enabled her to do so well both online and off. Elisa started with selling in brick and mortar shops early in 2008. It was one of those shops where she heard about the opportunity to sell on line. Wanting to grow her business it seemed the perfect way to have more control over inventory and everything else that goes with owning a store. Elisa is a very goal oriented person, it’s obvious by her precise well thought out answers. She definitely has her POA . Coming in 2010 is her Jamie weekender Bag and she is looking to not only expand globally but to begin wholesaling her items.

So how did she get her start?” My grandmother has an antique Singer sewing machine (yes, in the art deco cabinet) and since I was old enough to stand I was captured by it. When i was 4 she let me staple fabric scraps together as my first "sewing" project. When I was 6 she bought me a porcelain baby doll, and we made so many clothes together for the doll, which I still have. It's how I learned construction of clothing and how to stitch. After that, any time I spent there I would be sewing, never using patterns, but creating my own designs.” Elisa unique works are created from repurposed, upcycled and revived material. She digs through closets for clothing that isn’t being worn, uses vintage fabrics and notions. Even buttons and zippers are recycled into the stunning handbags and clutches. Amazed I sit looking at the photos, knowing it has all come from scraps. Her use of colors and textures are truly awe inspiring and take an ordinary handbag into something of a work of art. Carrying our perceptions of “art “even further.

In so many ways thoughts and concerns over the environment and our future are coming out. And true to form, thoughts inspire art. It comes then at no surprise the “buying handmade” revolution. I asked Elisa her thoughts on buying handmade “a) it's important not to let artistry and craft die with the times, b) buying local protects our economy and small business, c) it enhances and encourages individualism and non-perfection in an age of mass-production, conformism, and commercialism. (Straight from a mall shopper turned devout etsy buyer: "why do I want something that everyone else has when I can get an one of a kind original?"

Originality definitely speaks through Elisa’s work. And so does her dedication to great products. Elisa involves her family as testers and designers and uses her friend as a model for the photos. She has shipped items to her mother to test out different shipping methods. Every area of Tootsweet Handbags has been carefully thought out, planned and is ready for action.

Let’s give her some action and check out Tootsweet Handbags today.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for our new series Shopping Saturday. I have pulled together a few of my favorite things. I've had the creators tell me a bit about themselves and will post my favorite 10 with bios and all!
Happy Friday all!
The Bumpkin

Thursday, January 28

Expanding Blossom

So I was getting ready to do a post on my Facebook Fan Page when I saw this great photo of a really cute owl. It was, I guess what one could call “my style” of artwork. I like many styles but some stuff really grabs my eye. I loved it. I just had to click. Then I came to the world of Quirky Dame! Her shop was sprinkled with all kinds of great items. Of course, you knowing me, I had to zip an email off right away and track this quirky dame down!

That is how I came to meet Julie Behm, our artist for today. Her work is unique. It is whimsical, fun and well quirky! I loved bright mix of colors! My favorite by far is the wide eyed owls perched precariously on a sprawling tree. They make me wonder what they are thinking. Silly maybe, but great art is supposed to make you think, it captures you and doesn’t let you go. It leaves you wanting more.

More I did want so ….here we go with

Quirky Dame Designs

Artist Julie Behm , has always had art and creativity as part of her life. Her first classes were in high school and eventually she went on to take more and more classes right into her thirties. I think this speaks volumes about a person when they are willing to keep learning, and expanding themselves. Expanding. I asked Julie her goals for her work and the reply seemed to fit perfectly with what I would have expected. Every year, instead of making resolutions, I choose a word for the year. Or rather, I believe the word chooses me. :) This year my word is “expand.” We’re not even through January and already God’s been quite busy presenting me with opportunities to expand!”

Maybe the expansive Alaskan skies are her inspiration as she is based out of Anchorage Alaska. Not one to enjoy winter Julie went on to say about Alaska “ I’m not a winter person, I don’t enjoy the dark and cold and snow. But I love it up here in the summers. Constant daylight, even at midnight, it’s light out. The scenery is beautiful – gorgeous greenery everywhere, with mountains and water all around.” I would think living with darkness for half the year would be paralyzing but reading about what defines Julie it is no wonder she is not only living but thriving. So, the one thing that defines Julie, “I think it is the choices I make every day that define who I am. I can choose to see the good and find the positive in a situation or I can let myself get bogged down with negativity. I can choose to run away when a challenge presents itself or I can face it head on and do my best. When my doubts about my art surface, I can let them paralyze me or I can push past it and continue to create. The past few years have taught me this time and time again! “

This go-get “em attitude rang through her entire interview and I found her both vulnerable and tenacious at the same time. I loved when she stated “As for painting, most of my life I believed I couldn’t. I was absolutely, positively convinced I couldn’t! Yet I longed to try. About 4 years ago, someone in my life challenged me to paint something, anything. Okay, it was my therapist and I had to bring the painting in the next week. LOL! But that forced me to finally try. It wasn’t very good, but the feeling I got while painting surprised me. It opened something up in me and I knew I had to continue” Originally it was her fifth grade teacher that had seen her creative spark and unlimited potential and convinced her parent to put her into art lessons. I am so glad they did. Now we can all enjoy this amazing folk artist. Not just a folk artist, Quirky Dame Designs has some great photography in it as well!

Julie can be found on several sites where she sells and each one is unique. You will definitely want to give all of them a peek because her work will bring a definite smile to your face! You can find her on any of the three sites. Quirky Dame on Artifire Quirky Dame on Etsy or as Julie Behm at Boundless Gallery

She started small, “It took me a while – over a year – before I finally got the nerve to list my first painting. And I literally did list the only painting I had at the time. I meant to have at least 3 – 5 before I opened shop, but late one night I got the nerve to take that step and felt that I needed to do it then.” Sheesh… to think she almost didn’t find the courage to put her work online? And now her work is hanging gracing homes all over the United States, embellishing the viewers with hints of whimsy and lots of charm filled smiles.

Her long term goals? “I’d love to get to a place where I could just work a part-time day job (or none at all!) and spend the rest of my time working on my art. I dream of it and am working towards it. Even if I never succeed at that, I will continue to create. It is something that is essential to me, to who I am. I’ve gone years without creating and only after keeping up with it for so long, do I realize the damage that those years without caused me.” Art really is an essential part of our souls. Once we realize we are in fact artist and quit trying to deny that part of ourselves is when we truly begin to bloom.

An unfolding of self, blooming, was her advice to other artist “Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things. If there’s something that you truly want to do and feel compelled to try, but don’t think you can, try it anyway. I never thought I could paint, let alone sell something I painted. But here I am, with almost 20 paintings of mine having found new homes all over the US. Still can’t believe it! Also, connect with other artists and artisans. This is something I’m just now starting to do. I’m really quite shy and introverted in real life, so reaching out and connecting with others, even online, is terribly difficult at times. But the rewards are well worth it.”

I feel very inspired by Julie, her words her work. My humble opinion of course but the strength artist can gather from one another really is inspiring. I love it when completion drops and we can come together to inspire-to grow.

Thank you Julie not only for the great interview and even greater artwork but the chance to blossom, and expand.

Wednesday, January 27

Carving out a niche

So after a long and yes harrowing expedition, of digging art sights I am feeling much like an archeologist. . I dug and I dug and I dug. I found artifact …errrr artist after artist that were NOT treasures. Ohhhhh… so not treasures, just lumps of clay and then finally I made it past the first layers and struck on the treasures. I unearthed treasure after treasure. The line up for the blog could now be housed in the Smithsonian. Okay maybe that is stretching it a bit far. I did however find a plethora of great items and artists to bring to the blog. I still, sadly have to reply to 36 emails of “I’m sorry” . Those are the emails I just hate having to write.

I want to bring only the best. Sometimes the work is great but what lurks behind the work just isn’t. The answers mundane, the tone really unfriendly. And yes, we artists are temperamental I realize this. But, you know, there really is a vibe you can pick up …even on the net. And all things considered, I am putting myself out a bit by bringing you guys these folks…so I want only the best. I am very selective and really try to do my research before just flinging someone at you guys.

Today I bring you none other than....

 ~River Otter Rustics~

Otters are fun. Jon is fun! I really have enjoyed our repartee back and forth as we prepared for the story and interview. Most of all I liked his work. My eyes literally had become blurry scrolling page after page after page of pictures on the sites. I was growing weary and suddenly the most beautiful wood carving I have ever seen pops out at me. I literally snapped to attention and said “BINGO” out loud. Enough it made the dogs think “uhhh here we go again, with her talking to herself” I clicked the picture to go to the store. I was great. The welcome message “Welcome To River Otter Rustics, where you will find my whimsical woodworkings and fantasy pieces inspired by nature. Waves a paw! Come on in!” I am now thinking okay, could have something here. I start scrolling down the page and each and every one of his items are incredible. They are stop in you tracks, take another look kind of beautiful! I had to instantly fire off an email.

The response I sometimes get from artists is not friendly. Not here. Not Jon. He had me giggling audibly, much to the dogs dismay. He was polite, funny and just everything I thought it would be from the moment I opened the store. Seriously, someone with an otter for a logo and probably can’t go wrong! And you certainly wouldn’t go wrong with any of his art work. Jon miraculously balances color and tones it is so striking and yet so simple at the same time. Ornate, detailed swirling with motion-emotion and at the same time, quite, simple almost quaint. I

I cannot capture Jon. I just can’t. I have written, re-written. Sat back, humph-ed I just can’t seem to know where to go with it. His work is just …I don’t know it blows me away. I work with wood as well, so maybe I understand how delicate and how complicated it can be…whatever the reason. I just cant seem to capture all that is him and all that is exquisite about his work So I decided we will do a River Otter Rustics info and Gallery. I really don’t like to do the Q and A’s but my reader feedback on them has been great, …give the people what they want right? And who knows, I sorta like this format!

Can you tell me your name and a little about yourself and your studio/creative space?

My name is Jon Gosling I am 31 and I am the artist and owner of River Otter Rustics, my home based studio on the outskirts of Detroit Michigan (Moving to Minnesota in late Feb) I am an avid outdoors enthusiast, and can be found in the summertime either in the forest looking for dead trees to harvest wood from, or along rivers and lake shores as well. I only use found wood to make my carvings, so no live trees are hurt in the process. :) Originally from Florida, I moved to Michigan when I met my wife online and am proud to say will have been married 12 happy years in Oct. I also draw wildlife and incorporate Pyrography into a lot of my art.

Do you have a family and if so what role does your family play in your art?

No family just me and my lovely wife of 12 years. and a bunch of spoiled cats, a German Shepherd named Oakley and fish

Where do you live and what is it like?

Well, as of this interview I am living on the outskirts of Detroit, which is one sad place right now with the job losses. I have been out of work since April (used to repair Automatic doors until company closed), and am Moving to the great state of Minnesota at end of Feb. My father lives there with his wife, and he has offered to retrain me in Computers.

How do you know what the next step is?

It depends on whether you mean next step as in where I take my art next or the actual process used to create. With carving there are indeed set steps, such as drawing out the piece, stop cuts and working the different layers. From an artist's perspective, I find where I want my art to go, just comes naturally, if you force it in any direction it will stop like a stubborn mule in it's tracks.

If there’s one thing that defines you, what is it?

I think that nature being a central theme in my art, defines me best. I LOVE the outdoors and being out in the woods any given chance to look for wood, so bringing that feeling of discovery back into the studio, I hope to make pieces that people can relate to and like

Why do so many artists and creators have such volatile personalities?

I don't know! Not enough hugs as a kid I suppose. The type of art I do involves sharp or very hot objects most of the time, so it requires extreme focus. I find that this is very relaxing, so between that and a nice hot cup of Lapsang Souchong, I am Jack Johnson mellow...well maybe not THAT mellow...but I'm pretty laid back

When and how did you begin to see yourself as an artist?

I began to take my artwork a bit more seriously, when I was minding a craft fair booth for my wife's sister one year at The Wyandotte Art Fair. She needed to go get some food and take a bathroom break so we watched her stuff (she sold these nice handmade dolls). I had brought along my sketch book and pencil so I wouldn't get too bored, and was just working on a falcon drawing that still needed some feather work. The next thing I knew I had a decent sized crowd standing behind me watching me work. It was exciting and scary too! Later on I had a woman hand me a card from a Wild Wings gallery she ran, and told me to call her. I never did! LOL I was too shy, and really didn't consider myself any good, but it did turn on a light in my head. This was well before I started carving, and I believe that experience helped me realize what I needed to do to enjoy life fully

What are your goals with your work?

I have only been carving for four years seriously, and since I am exclusively an online artist, I would like to change that by entering some shows and competitions, and getting known more offline. I would also like to submit work to some of the nice Wood Carving magazines out there, and maybe get some work published in one. Long term, I would like to teach beginner classes in wood carving someday, as I would like to pass on what I know to people interested in the medium

How did you come to selling online?

My wife's sister actually introduced me to Etsy. She makes dolls and sells at craft fairs, so she's up on everything craft related. I checked out the site and here I am. I started on Etsy not for my woodworking though, but for some of the steampunk style lamps I make. So my older shop is the first online store I opened. I am River Otter Rustics on Etsy for that venue of my creative side. As far as my carving goes, It took a lot to finally tell myself I was good enough to sell my work. I am very critical of what I do, and If I don't like the way something looks I won't sell it. With the steampunk shop, it's easy to do and I don't take it serious, that's my fun play with metal shop. I like to tinker with mechanical stuff and that shop has been quite successful in my eyes. My carving is my passion though.

Is art necessary?

Of course. Art it can be argued, is one of the reasons we as humans have existed for as long as we have. If we didn't find beauty in these things we create, life would be pretty bleak indeed

How do you feel about the fact that the pieces exhibited in contemporary art museums are often of artists already deceased?

I think it's nice that there are so many visual artists featured that are deceased, as their vision lives on, however in the same breath it's a lot like listening to the radio for me. SO many good artists never get exposure, cause of Britney Spears. If that makes any sense

What advice would you give to those just beginning?

Keep at what you love to do and don't listen to anyone who discourages you from your art, even family members or spouses. (mine is supportive Hi honey!) Remember that old practice makes perfect saying? If your like me, and it's never good enough, don't worry you'll get to a point where you have more confidence in your work ;) and above all remember to always have FUN

Why do you think that buying and selling handmade products benefits society?

Handmade is where it's at, and not just for art but many useful items too. I see a lot of handmade items incorporating recycling, and the quality of the items can't be reproduced in a factory, Buying handmade also helps keep the bills paid for a lot of folks, myself included. From the sales in my shop, being unemployed currently I have kept the lights on, and saved the money to move to MN, so when you buy handmade, you directly affect the person who made the item in a big way without knowing it sometimes.

So there you have it the life and loves of Jon Gosling. Can you see why I couldn’t shore it up in three of four paragraphs? Maybe it is me and having a bad night. I don’t know but it seems to me like the wood he carves, so intricate, so beautiful of a story.

Please check out his River Otter Rustics! Lets help spread the word to..pass this one along and lets get him settled nicely into his new home in MN!

Tuesday, January 26

Scratchin' my head...

Okay my faithful followers…I need your help! I am running out of great artisans to feature! I have a few left in my files that I want to get to. I had planned to feature a artistl but they were one of the major art sites “featured seller” and somehow it just seems unfair. I didn’t notice until I went to gather more info for the blog, I went to the site and there they were splashed all over the front. I am not about to be repeating everything that had just been written. And… I want to bring the most amount of exposure to the biggest amount of artisans. But I am out of ideas. I want to hear from you know what types of art you would like to see. Do you ave a friend that is doing something awesome, a family member…then please send the name along! Also poetry? What would you think about poetry? I was thinking of venturing a bit into that realm, but I promise not to blur your eyes with obscure, weird out-there stuff that leaves the reading going “huh”.

I wanted to talk about a local art project here, in my inland northwest. Seems some guys or something have set up live chickens in a pen, put some pots with plants and chicken manure together and are calling it art. I call it weird. Sorry I just don’t get it. Isn’t that so often the case that true art gets buried in odd expression of ideas? I don’t know maybe I am the weird one for not getting it. Chickens, flower pots, manure…a testament to sustainable recourses and things yeah…but art. I don’t know. I am having a hard time grasping it. Maybe my mind is not nearly open enough. Perhaps too much of a bumpkin to “get” it. But I make no apology. I just don’t. It to me isn’t art. Its just leaves me going “huh”?

I do have a gal, Julie Behm who is on my fan page I want to track down and interview. She has some great folk art going on at Artfire and Etsy. I also have a gal Elisa Jackson making some great handbags and several other artists that eventually I will track down and do write ups on.. I will get to them. I promise But for today I got nothing-sorry!

So PLEASE PLEASE do like I said and submit me some great artisans!

Thanks guys!

Monday, January 25


Suddenly it is late last night and I realized I had nothing for you, my readers. I spent a very lazy, I don’t feel good weekend. I tried to convince myself that I felt okay, but by yesterday it was apparent I was just not feeling well. I think it was a case of feeling sorry for myself, fighting a bug of some sort of and the realization that it has been months since I have been well…well! I don’t often let the fact that I have chronic illness slow me down. For the most part I just “buck up” as my mother so often used to tell me when I was little. But this weekend I didn’t buck up. I bawled and pretty much felt sorry for myself for two days, yesterday being the worst. Poor pathetic me- with broken feet and Crohn’s disease. Poor me- my high needs (aspergers and adhd) boy in a full leg cast. Why my dog fighting for her life two weekends in a row?. Why Lord Why. All I could come up with mama also said “it is what it is and it ain’t what it ain’t”! and lately it just “ain’t” been real fun.

Maybe it’s all the talk about mama, maybe it is all the harping I did this weekend I don’t know but I want to bring you the talents of Lois Schlueter from GlissKnits. Lois over at Glisknits is one of those multi talented wonder women. I came across Lois by mention of her daughter. Her daughter is curator of The Paper Button, remember the story? Kari, who was doing extraordinary things with ordinary buttons? Anyways, I am thinking apples don’t fall far from trees (another thing I always heard my mother say) So without much more rambling I bring you…


Lois has always been the creative type in all aspects of the word. She regaled me in her interview with the tale of her parents getting her a “craft of the month” kit when she was little girl. She thought perhaps it was to keep her occupied and out of her hair. As a mother of two active ones myself, the idea instantly piqued my interest and had me sniggering. She also talked about piano lessons at an early age that eventually led to harp playing. Another interest piquing moment as I have always loved the harp. Lois doesn’t just play to play. She donates her time and talent at local hospitals as passive therapy. How cool is that? I love when talents transverse from one to another, and land both the giver and receiver in a better place. Art has a way of doing that thought and I think that is why so many are drawn to the arts and why the arts need to more the focal point in so many lives. Avenues like Artifre and Etsy I think are going to be a huge part of bringing more of the arts to more of the people.

Lois has a shop on Etsy, Glissknits. I am sure by the name you have already guessed, Knits. But did you know she is a self professed “knit-wit”? And will often show up to Harp gigs wearing, what else, something knitted? I loved Lois’s wit!! Now is she a nitwits, I don’t think so but witty for sure. Her answers were full of insight sprinkled with a bit of clowning making it the perfect mix. When asked about her creative space the dedication to knitting showed through in her answer of “My creative space is all over the house. You will find a knitting project, yarn or knitting book/magazine in just about every living space -much to the dismay of my family:)”

Speaking of family, like most mothers Lois was not shy when it came to speaking of her daughters and the wonderful talents thereof. I asked what role her family played I was not surprised by what followed. “OH, my goodness, where do I start, ...I came from a musical family who loved the arts. I married an architect and my girls married musicians who are also talented artists. My older daughter, Jessica, is a violinist/singer and will deliver our first grandchild in April. Kari owns The Paper Button on etsy and will finish up her art major at Northern IL U this year. Both girls married wonderful brothers Nathan and Jordan McDonald, and they are all involved in their band Starlite Radio. check it out there music and cd:)” And of course she had to pitch the boys, like any self respecting mother would!

But so much more than a mother, Lois has a great history in the arts and has always been involved with the focus on her knitting. She taught herself the pearl stitch when she was in her early twenties and leg warmers were one of her very first projects. Again her wit shined through when she giggled about how they might “date” her. She has come a very long way from leg-warmers! I have had so many “offers” of people to feature on the blog. You know, friends and family making suggestions. So when Kari her daughter made the suggestion I peeked at her mom’s store I did so with much trepidation WOW though, the things she is doing with fiber!

I was instantly captured by the felted bangle picuted above- with the silver embellishments. I had never seen such things done with fiber. The one pictured is just one of several in her store. They are absolutely stunning. Just look at those? As I scrolled a little further down the page I came across the “shooting Star’ sweater. It is absolutely stunning. The texture the colors the placement of the flower. Everything about her work screams “ARTIST” and not little granny knitter. Lois has a definite artist eye and the way she plays color and texture is nothing short of sheer gifted talent. Trust me I have seen all kinds of fiber “arts” since I began this blog and I have learned all that GLISS-ens is not gold, but over there at GlissKnits you will defiantly strike gold!

To catch some of her items locally you can find them at the same show her daughter is doing Cinnamon and Cider in Rockford, Illinois this coming fall. Her work though has also graced an art gallery in the Lake Geneva, area of Wisconsin and a specialty shot Privileges in Rockford. You should definitely look her up because as Lois says about buying handmade “So much of what we have now is massed produced. It's so refreshing to purchase and sell items that are one of kind. It’s a benefit to the individuality of the buyer and an encouragement to the seller, both artistically and economically!”

And really guys You have to listen to mama! I think the best thing I can give you of Lois was her response to the question of the best advice to other artists “Learn everything you can about what you do, make it your own, and pursue the most professional result...and never stop learning! I have found that that gives you confidence in sharing and selling what you love.”

So whatever your talent, be it painting, drawing, fiber, “junking”, beeswax, pursue it, share it. Live your talent. Let it become a part of what makes you, you. Don’t hide it away. Share it at hospitals and nursing homes, sell it at stores and online , markets and galleries, but make sure it is available. When finally it is a part of you, when it finally is who you are it will be as Lois said about her knitting- “therapy”.

I can say this with clarity because like my painting, writing is one of those things I have always loved to do. And now after writing I am no longer the poor pathetic woe is me soul that started this post. I am ready to go, ready to hobble to the studio with my silly little casts, ready for…well…some therapy!

Sunday, January 24

Celebrate Sundays

Staring a new thing here, at the Bumpkin Blog… On Sundays I would like to bring you the work of the talented LaurieRyan . What a better way to celebrate the Lord’s Day than with stunning photos of the natural world? Laurie photos captivate and hold their audience; they speak with soft words to the soul. This print and many more can be purchased at her online store. Thanks for stopping by, enjoy the work of LaurieRyan. And Laurie thanks for graciously allowing the use of your work on the Bumpkin Blog!!!

Thursday, January 21

Off the bead-ing path...

Today is Saturday, the calendar tells me. gt feels more like a Monday morning, fill of promise. I woke finally feeling better. Not sure why, but the pain in the feet seems to have let up. I think maybe it was the 3 naps yesterday and then gong to be at 6:30 last night. Maybe I just needed sleep. I forget to sleep sometimes. Crazy I know. I haven’t been to my own studio for writing about everyone else’s. I am really hoping this blog thing doesn’t interrupt too much of my creative time. I love bringing you guys stories, but it is the studio that is our bread and butter, and latterly it has only been bread sandwiches for us since I have not been able to promote my art, and get anything sold. The good news is it was picked up locally and is in one of the areas more upscale home décor stores…so we will see. On a positive, and unrelated note…Fat Sally is better! She isn’t her old self, and I do mean old, she is about 9 so she certainly is no puppy. But she is up, she’s moving, slowly, but moving now and seems like she will pull through. We’re hoping anyways! So I think I have rattled on enough about myself here. You didn’t come to hear me muse about myself… Today I have 2 lovely features for you…so read on my friends,-read on!

So I Had said I thought it lazy to be doing Q andA. But you my dear readers have left a lot of feedback for me saying it was great. You loved hearing in their own words from the artisans, So I will do another set of Q and A’s this time with Fashionably Chic and and another with Donna over at Ageratum ., One who focuses’ mainly on traditionally beautiful jewelry and the other a little untraditional. Both very talented, and both extremely wonderful gals. I hope your able to find something in one of the stores for yourself or a gift, as in a gift for ME remember the poor disabled gal with two broken fee, a special needs son who also has a broken leg and let us not forget my dying dog. Sheesh …if that shouldn’t garner me something I don’t know what would?!?!?!

Fashionably Chic (see the ad this page!!!!)

1. Can you tell me your name and a little about yourself and your studio/creative space?
My name is Kristin. I have many passions in life including travelling, Spanish, designing jewelry and the Green Bay Packers. I have a full time day job, but love to create jewelry in the evenings and on weekends. I am selling my work on Etsy. Visit my shop, Fashionably Chic! Space, what is that?! I am originally from Green Bay, WI but now live in NYC where space if hard to come by! I don’t have an official studio or creative space. All my supplies are kept in a tidy corner next to my couch. When I create, I sit myself on the couch and design away!

2. If there’s one thing that defines you, what is it?

I definitely think my international experiences define the person I am. I’ve had the incredible opportunity to live abroad three times in my 26 years, which doesn’t include all the traveling I have done. I’ve seen so many different places, met thousands of people and enjoyed every minute of it. Without those experiences I wouldn’t be as open, accepting and even creative as I am now. As far as my jewelry designs, my color and style defines who I am. I love bright, bold colors that make me feel like I’m standing out amongst the black suits of the corporate world.

3. Do you have a family and if so what role does your family play in your art?
Right now it is just me.

4. Where do you live and what is it like?

I live in Rego Park, Queens, NY. It is a nice neighborhood and a calming relief to the hectic world of Manhattan. Everything I could possibly want is located within a 20 minute walk from my apartment. The only thing it is missing is my favorite bead store!

5. Where did you learn your medium?

I actually taught myself how to make jewelry. I became interested in the field when I wanted to find unique but affordable holiday gifts for my friends and family. I had so much fun creating that I’ve expanded knowledge and skills and don’t plan on stopping anytime soon!

6. What are your goals with your work?

As with many people, I would love to quit my job! The thought of being able to create full time and only have to answer to myself is extremely appealing. Ideally I’d like to do that in the next year or two, but as one quickly learns when trying to sell, it is not easy.

7. How did you come to selling online?

I was bored at work one day so I was surfing the web. I must have been looking up jewelry or handmade jewelry and came across Etsy. Since I had so many pieces of jewelry lying around my apartment, I figured I would try my hand at listing a few items just to see what happened. I thought that it was a great site and that it would be a lot easier to set up shop there versus designing my own website. Every since my first sale I was hooked.
8. Where all do you sell?

Right now I’m just selling on Etsy. One of my goals this year is to explore different selling venues. I would love to do a craft show or two.

9. What is the best piece of advice you can give other artists?

Try not to get discouraged. I haven’t been doing this for long, but I have quickly learned that it is hard work. When things aren’t going well, no sales, views, hearts, or whatever it may be, keep at it. If you are determined to succeed, things will turn around. They always do.

10. Why do you think that buying and selling handmade products benefits society?

Because I’ve been so fortunate and able to travel, I have seen first hand how small business and buying/selling handmade can benefit individuals and societies. Not only are you purchasing something completely unique and different, you are directly supporting a tangible person who you can talk to and see. Not to mention buying handmade is better for the environment by reducing supply chain movements and mass production effects.

Ageratum Jewelry By Donna (click on overto Donna's store!)

1. Can you tell me your name and a little about yourself and your studio/creative space?

My name is Donna and I love to do all types of crafting. I am really into beading for now, and am mostly 'self taught'. For now my studio/creative space is wherever I can find it. I hope someday to have my own crafting room. For now, I usually create my jewelry pieces on the dining room table. It has the best lighting and lots of room to spread out. Our house is for sell as my husband is retired and wants to move back to his hometown, and so everytime someone comes by to view it, I have to pack everything away - out of sight! What a pain (in so many ways)!

2. If there’s one thing that defines you, what is it?
I'm a do-it-yourselfer. :)

3. Do you have a family and if so what role does your family play in your art?

I've been married to the same guy for almost 40 years now (I need a medal for that!) and we have two beautiful grown kids. My daughter has my 'artistic' genes and she is the one who really got me into beading. She has a BA in advertising/graphic design from CCAD in Columbus, OH.

4. Where do you live and what is it like?
We live in sunny Indiana - in the small town of Bedford. I really like it here. The people are friendly and very kind, and the weather is just right. What more could a girl want! :)

5. Where did you learn your medium?

While visiting our kids in MA, my daughter took me to a bead shop to pass some time and make something nice while there. The owner of the shop showed us how to use crimps and attach clasps. It was very enjoyable and immediately I was hooked. I am mostly self taught just by looking at pieces of jewelry and also by reading articles in jewelry/beading magazines.

6. What are your goals with your work?

I just enjoy beading into different designs. I hope to learn some wire wrapping and how to set gemstones.

7. How did you come to selling online?
I have a very dear friend who lives near Albany, NY, who told me about etsy. Before then, I had tried to sell a few items I had made on eBay. I really enjoy being on etsy and am so glad she gave me such a wonderful tip! :)

8. Where all do you sell?

I've tried several diferent places to sell, but have found etsy to be the best, so I am only selling here for now. I have a space at and where I can show my work and keep in touch with internet friends there. Of course I'm ageratum at both these places too.

9. What is the best piece of advice you can give other artists?
Persue your dreams and desires, and do what you love doing. :)

10. Why do you think that buying and selling handmade products benefits society?

Of course it benefits society! Buying and selling handmade products keeps everyone close, and friendly, and self-sufficient - and keeps the creative juices flowing so that we don't become a nation of zombies depending solely on other countries for our every need!
Be sure to click on the links to find yourself some great jewelry..and don’t forget to snoop around and find yourself some great art from the Huck-ster… maybe that way we can get a little butter and jam for those sandwiched!Happy creating y’all!

Lathered up

(SO I just have to re-edit here and put in a funny...Ky the Amazing thinks I was joking...but I am telling the world. I am chaing his name to Ky the Dork...its morning here, and he is sitting with his coffee reading an atlas? ...Seriously who reads an atlas...Ky the Amazing, I love you but you are now Ky the Dork for the day!-ha ha told you I would do it)

So yesterday we were talking unconventional and that got me thinking about other art forms. You know the stuff we don’t think about as being an art. So I looked up some soap makers. I would like to introduce you to a few I have found. Each with their own unique style and flair. I know I for one LOVE handmade soap but had never really thought about the process or what all goes into it. Here you will find some good info, meet some great folks and maybe pick up a few bars of good smellie for yourself!

The first gal I want to bring to you is…

BanjoBay Soaps

Emily has loads of talent and soap making isn’t her only venture. She has been doing painting and drawing for years wherever she can find a cozy spot to curl up with her kitty Opal and her pooch Angel. Now her studio is her kitchen where her magic happens. She uses a self taught cold process method of soap making and has done tons of reading and research from her Blue Ridge mountain home in the Shenandoah Valley. Emily spends her days as a teaching assistant for children with behavioral problems, it is challenging but somehow I think this spunky gal is up for that challenge. As a mother of a special needs boy with severe behavioral problems, I know just how much energy it requires. She draws a lot of her support from her family and tells me “My parents are my lifeline; they are always there for me, no matter what, even though they live about 17 hours away! I love them to pieces, and wouldn't be who I am without their support and love. My sister lives far away too, but just knowing she is around is important to me. I derive much of my drive to be successful from their success in life. I am still trying play catch-up, I have a long way to go...but they make me stronger

Emily is full of strength and energy. Her energy positively radiated through the interview and the subsequent emails. She has s passion for her craft and more than that, a passion for life. She speaks with a joy the bubbles over, much like her luxurious soaps. I loved this statement in particular, when I questioned her about her goals with her work “To make people happy. I never realized that a well made bar of soap could bring such happiness to someone, until I starting getting all this amazing feedback, on Etsy as well as locally from my friends and my goal is simply to put out a quality one of a kind product that makes people SMILE.” And she does just that! When I correspond with Emily I can’t help but smile!

One thing I can’t do is pick a favorite from her bars. She has several now in her Etsy store and I want all of them! Names like Crimson and Clover, Key West, Marie Antoinette, Tugly woods. How would you know which to choose they all sound so heavenly. Maybe her sample pack, which allows you to pick three bars. I don’t know, even then I think I would struggle. I love especially the name Tugly Woods. I think with my love of the outdoors and fishing it would just fit. Speaking of fishing, that is one of her hobbies too, she has several, traveling, photography, Oragami and the list goes on. I could write forever about this gal, as she just fascinates me!

I asked Emily to tell us sabout her process and how she learned soap making, in her words “Everything I do...self-taught all the way. With my soap making, it has taken me over a year to perfect the Cold Process Method of Soap Making...reading, watching videos, doing research, and trial and error. There have been a lot of mistakes and bumps in the road to learn the ART of Soap Making!!! Alas, I feel I am FINALLY ready to even take it to the next level, and get even more inventive with my soap designs, textures, shapes, colours, and scents. Every bar has a story and a flow...”

One thing that would have to define Emily over at Banjobay Soaps would be her past experiences she tells me they have gotten her to the happier place where she is now. I loved Emily’s love for handmade, when asked why it benefited society she had a great answer, please have a read at her answer “ I think that it is really special to share and exchange handmade goods. The benefit is really actually very simple: getting back to our roots. It is something that allows us all to step out of the Corporate World into the beating HEART of the world!! So many people across the GLOBE have so much to offer!!!! I also have found that the quality of goods is beyond excellent. When people are putting themselves out there on the line, they WANT to do GREAT work. I think it is a great way for different cultures to connect...instead of a tag that says "made in China" get to KNOW that person in China, or France, or the USA, or ANY COUNTRY!!! It is so personal! I wish we would all partake in such a personal artistic experience as making and buying handmade!! The uniqueness of the products makes it all worthwhile. When I know that I am buying handmade, I know that someone's complete heart and soul went into that piece. You just don't find that wonderful feeling in your "everyday shopping" buy handmade and feel the LOVE! Support each other and we can make a difference! "

I would really like to make a difference for Emily since she is working so hard during the day and just starting her business. If you would like to try one of her soaps please click on her ad Banjobay Soaps,over there on the right. Her soaps are absolutely wonderful. She uses only the best ingredients and has studied her craft until it has been perfectly perfected! As she says “peace, love, and lather” guys!

Pegasus Soap's
Another shop that has caught my eye with its body products, is Pegasus Soaps. It’s a very cute shop and it was absolutely loaded with skin care items. I love handmade body products. For me, one you know exactly what is going on your skin and where it came from, two your supporting an artisan and three, they are just so much better than anything on a store shelf!!!

Pegasus Soaps’s Peachy Keen lip balm caught my eye and has definitely been added to my wish list. The description reads “This tastes so good and not only taste good, but are good for your lips as these are made with all natural ingredients.” Yup, I could definitly go for some of that with the cold windy weather we’ve had that has left my lips dry cracked and definitely not as kissable for Ky the Amazing as I would like them to be!

I asked Michelle to tell us a bit about my readers,

Meet Michelle...

“Hi my name is Michelle and I am the owner/founder of Pegasus Soaps. Ok you are probably wondering who I am and how I got started making soap? I am originally from South NJ I came to Philadelphia after High School to attend college and lived there til 2001. I am made my way to Northern VA and have been here since 2001 and I love it here. A big difference from a big busy city, but I am not too far away from DC.

I had taken some interest in making soap back in the Summer of 2005. I was into crafting jewelry at the time but soon realized that jewelry just wasn't my thing. So I occasionally started making bars of soap here and there as gifts for my mom. I started using melt and pour and trying to come up with my own unique designs. My mom and my husband were the first to test my soaps. My husband made the suggestion that maybe I should start selling them. I was like "no way" who would buy them. So I slowwwwly started selling here and there on Ebay. By the time November 2006 came around I wanted to open my own website. You never know what you can do til you start to do it. I had no idea how to use HTML but I learned as I went along. I didn't know a thing about running a website but eventually I got the hang of it and loved it. I later found Etsy in November 2006 and said to myself, why not. When I first started listing my items on Etsy, my business soon took off.

I would have never guessed it but you never know how things will turn out til you make that leap of faith. In the early part of 2007, I started to dabble into making my lotions and other bath products. I have to say that making lotion is not as easy as it looks. I went through several recipes til I was finally satisfied with the one I currently have. Either it was too thick, too thin, not enough of this and not enough of that til I finally worked out the kinks over the years. I finally put my fears aside and leaped into making my own soap. Yes lye was one of my biggest fears and I know I had to use it to make my own soaps from scratch. So again I took that huge leap of faith and tried it. The first batch was a success and then I was so hooked I didn't want to go back to Melt and Pour. Now that I was making my own soaps, I knew exactly what was going into my soaps and on my skin. My skin haven't looked and felt this good in decades. I had enough confidence in my creating process that I soon created recipes for my body butters, lip balms and many other products. Making my own products is something I really take pride in. I take special care of each and every order I receive and each order is made fresh when I receive it.”

What could be better than that? You very own, handmade body product, arriving fresh at your door. I just love this handmade world I am discovering while I sit with these stupid broken feet. Maybe I don’t want to heal as quickly as I thought I did. I wouldn’t be sitting here browsing the wonderfully wide world of handmade. I wouldn’t be finding interesting and talented folks. This has been a blessing in disguise for sure!