Sunday, February 28, 2010

Welcome to Esty: Sandy Dyas Photography

I love this photo of Caroline flying through the air. Photo by Sandy Dyas

My first new Etsy shop to feature is a good friend of mine, Sandy Dyas. She is a fabulous photographer with a knack for catching reality at it's most sincere. I am positively smitten with her photo of her granddaughter bouncing on the bed in her supergirl outfit. I'll let her shop description tell the rest of her story.

Sandy Dyas Fine Art Photography

Welcome to My World. Indeed this world is rather strange, a bit unusual and beautiful too. I have had a camera in my hand since I was a young girl. Cameras make you pay attention to what is right in front of you. For years I used film and sometimes still do but I own several digital cameras now in addition to my old-school cameras.

Drawn to people and their environments - and especially natural light, I strive to create a collaborative and authentic portrait of the world we live in. I look for photographs in the constantly changing world that strike a note with me; images that contain reality and ambiguity. I use my camera as a way to see, to interact with the world and to remember.

Early in my career, I owned a small portraiture business in Bellevue, a small Iowa town near the Mississippi River. A dozen years later, I moved to Iowa City. I received my MFA in Intermedia (Performance Art & Video). My first book of photographs entitled Down to the River; Portraits of Iowa Musicians was published by the University of Iowa Press in June 2007.

My photographs have appeared in the New York Times, Glamour, Jane, Simon & Schuster, No Depression, Newsweek, Random House, RedHouse Records, Vogue and many more publications.

Photographs are printed on Fuji Lustre E Surface Photographic Paper unless otherwise noted.
All prints are on archival paper and printed at a excellent professional lab I am been using for many years. There are more options such as: Metallic Photographic Paper, Canvas on Masonite and more - Just Ask!

Most images can be printed at various sizes.

More about my work:

James and the Pronghorn. Photo by Sandy Dyas

Green Dress on Orange Wall. Photo by Sandy Dyas

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Handmade Pretties in the Press: Better Homes and Gardens - March 2010

This cute little shamrock brooch (on page 18 of the March 2010 issue of Better Homes and Gardens) is made from felt, vintage lace, and a beautiful brown glass button from my grandmother's button collection. While I make more elaborate intricately stitched brooches for sale on my website, this brooch is relatively easy to make with just a few supplies like felt, lace, buttons, tacky glue, hot glue, and a safety pin. I simply cut two clover shapes from felt, and then trimmed one down so that it would nest nicely inside the other and carefully glued the lace down with tacky glue. The button is sewn to the center, and the safety pin is glued to the back using hot glue on a strip of felt to cover one side of the safety pin like a band-aid. My daughter and I sewed one on a headband for her to wear at school on St. Patrick's Day.

Page 18 of the March 2010 issue of Better Homes and Gardens. The whole issue is full of beautiful colors and great spring inspirations. Perfect for those of us lost in the land of "Snowmageddon".

Our simple shamrock headband. The clover is glued together and the buttons are sewn on. The whole thing is sewn to the fabric covered headband, although, glue would probably work too.

One of my shamrock brooches for sale on my etsy site.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Etsy Favorites: Sub Rosa Fashion

Sub Rosa Fashion is out of Sarajevo. I have found several artists based out of Sarajevo who masterfully use color and texture in their knitting and crocheting. The line of clothing made by Sub Rosa is fun and unusual, but not outside of the realm of practical. It is relatively affordable as well considering how much time and materials must go into each piece. She uses a broad range of colors, ruffles, and textures to create her fabulous unique pieces.

I just love the crazy colorful oversized ribbing.

The uneven hemline reminds me of seaweed.

Ok what pink ruffle loving gal DOESN'T want this dress!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Do It Yourself: Handmade Labels

When I started selling my products on etsy, I ran into a problem. How to label all of my items without spending a ton of money or having to wait for reorders. Originally, I would print out labels on iron transfer ink jet paper and fuse it to felt. These labels worked fairly well. As my business grew, I found that I rarely had time to make more. The print would also tear a little towards the edge of the felt, not to mention my complete lack of ability when it comes to ironing-on. So I began to look into new methods.

Here is an example of one of my early iron-on labels sewn to the bottom of a titty pincushion.

I tried shrinky dinks, mainly because I wanted to MAKE shrinky dinks. This was even MORE labor intensive and convoluted than the iron-on decals, but made for a very unique and charismatic label. I have kept this idea around for some of my more expensive jewelry items.

Here is a shrinky dink label sewn to a fun mushroom pincushion.

Finally, I had the idea to have a stamp made of my logo. I found a company online, Rubber Stamping Across America, that would create an 8" x 10" stamp sheet for a small price. Since there was extra space on the sheet, I designed several fun stamps to use with my work, and had my logo made in two sizes. I had to cut the sheet and attach each stamp to a wooden block, but it was well worth the effort. I recommend paying the couple of extra dollars to get the adhesive backing pre-glued.

When I make labels, I use black "StazOn" brand ink. It claims to not be for use on fabric, but I have washed my labels on clothing repeatedly with only minimal fading. I use different colored scraps from larger projects to print the labels. To cut the labels, I prefer to use my pinking shears. The labels are sewn on by hand or by machine with a tight zigzag stitch.

For my skirts and pants, I have found it to be more efficient to stamp directly on the garment. I purchased a set of number stamps to stamp the size. This saves me the extra step of sewing on the labels after the garment is complete.

The tools for the job.

Stamped labels in action on rainbow sweater balls.

Handmade Pretties in the Press: Design Sponge - July 13, 2009

I love seeing my work photographed in beautiful homes. This July 2009 feature of Shay Ometz' home shows my recycled sweater balls and my giant fleece ball.

My recycled sweater balls were initially designed as a toy, but so many of my customers tell me they are buying a set for their bed or their living room. As you can see from these photos, the results are stunning.

Recycled Sweater Balls as decorative throw pillow. Photo from Design Sponge

One of my giant fleece balls are peeking out of the bin under the table. I very much remember making this ball, so it is great to see it in it's home. Photo from Design Sponge.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Etsy Favorites: Paper Airplane Launcher

When my daughter turned 5, I looked desperately for handmade games and toys to buy for her. While inventive art stuffies are nice to look at, they are really not all that engaging for an intelligent five year old. I wanted to buy her some sort of board game or other toy that required something more than just her imagination (because trust me, she's got that one covered). After searching for days, the best I could come up with were a few stacking games and a fishing game. I bought a few things handmade, made a few things, and purchased most of the games from a locally run educational toy store.

I wish I had found Times 3 Toys! They make really great wooden boats powered by balloons and rubber bands and paper airplane launchers. I love the paper airplane launcher. It holds any kind of paper airplane, so I can imagine an airforce of differently shaped airplanes flying through the air.

I've got this shop bookmarked for next year!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Handmade Pretties in the Press: Recycled Sweater Skirt

Sweater skirt in action!

I have been making my recycled sweater skirts since Fall of 2007. Their one of a kind charm has made them popular on both my etsy site and at craft fairs.

They have been featured in numerous blogs and online magazines. Here are just a few.

The Long Thread - Sept 26, 2008

Etsy Finds - Child-Likes with - Dec 16, 2008

Etsy Storque: Handmade Confessional - Dec 17, 2008 - Holiday Gift Guide 2008

Baltimore Etsy - Jan 19, 2009

Ozowiezo Blog - April 2009

Kids Trend Weekly - Oct 4, 2009 - Jan 11, 2010

Screen Shot from

A screen shot from

Screen Shot from Kids Trend Weekly

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Etsy Favorites: Heidi Legwarmers

Yikes! I do not like legwarmers, but I WANT THESE! The colors are spot on, and the embroidery detail down the front brings a tear of joy to my eye. I am dusting off my ledehosen and braiding my hair as you read this. At a mere $17, these beauties from Olga11223 are a steal!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Etsy Favorites: A Coincidence?

When I mark favorites, it is typically a random occurrence. I mark items I see on the front page, or items as they scroll through the recently listed items. Sometimes, if I am looking for something in particular, I will mark items I like so I can come back to them.

I love opening my favorites and finding mini accidentally curated collections of items. Here is what I found today.

Harold and Maude Paper Dolls by Little Grey Goose.

6 Tiny Portraits by Be Happy Now.

Love Bird Note Card by Fancy Me Flyin.

Fluffy Owl Yarn Wreath by Knock Knocking.

Brigid by Kelly Packer

Handmade Pretties in the Press: Do It Yourself Magazine - Winter 2009

Last year I worked with Jessica Thomas on the "Best of Show" article for Do It Yourself Magazine - winter 2009. My products were featured on the cover of the magazine (the ball in the background and the small pincushion on the desk), and in the article (a ball and pincushion). I also created the Best of Show title ribbon using my large stash of vintage fabrics.

While this magazine had gone under my radar, after reading the last three issues, this is fast becoming one of my favorites! Be sure to join the DIY facebook fan site. They make great posts about project ideas and other discussions.

On the cover: my ball is in the lower left under the lamp, and my pincushion is on top of the pile of books on the desk.

Hours well spent. This turned out so great! I was able to showcase some of my vintage fabrics AND my embroidery...

My ball and pincushion are side by side on the top of the shelf.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Around Our House: Home Photography Success!

I have recently perfected my photo area. It turns out that out white curtains and a king sized white sheet over our bench make a perfect backdrop when slightly overexposed. The lighting in our front room is good almost all day, especially right now with so much reflected light off of the snow. I like the ephemeral quality of the image.

This set up also seems to work great for photographing my products.

Sylvia is wearing a new pair of pants from my spring and summer line. They are made from recycled jersey and fit like high waters. Check my etsy shop for current clothing listings.

Beatrice is wearing a cute Hannah Anderson pants and dress outfit. I found this one at a yard sale for a dollar. It had a small hole on the knee which I patched with a small piece of coordinating pink jersey, and it turned out great!

Handmade Pretties in the Press: Better Homes and Gardens - Nov 2009

In addition to product features, I have been doing some contract work for Meredith (the mothership of Better Homes and Gardens, Readymade, and DIY to name a few). I created these fun pockets to showcase new pocket sized digital video recorders. Each pocket is made from felt and hand embroidered. This feature ran in the November 2009 issue of BHG.

Here is the feature that ran in the magazine.

Here are all of the pockets I made for the shoot.

Etsy Favorites: Rainbow Sweater

Ok so all you really have to do is SAY rainbow sweater and I am on board. When I saw this amazing sweater last night, my heart skipped a beat. I realized that not only do I love rainbow sweaters, I love diagonal knits. I've seen A LOT of sweaters, and this one by Canann is one of my favorites.

This sweater has a nostalgic 80s feel that I very much enjoy. It reminds me of the video for "My Girls" by the Animal Collective

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Handmade Pretties in the Press: Better Homes and Gardens - April 2009

Last year in the April 2009 issue, Better Homes and Gardens featured my iPod cases. Check my shop for the latest iPod and gadget cases that I make.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Handmade Pretties in the Press: Pregnancy & Newborn - Nov 09

Handmade Pretties has been getting some press lately. Here is a rainbow sweater ball nicely featured in Pregnancy and Newborn.

Here is the feature from the November 2009 issue of Pregnancy and Newborn.

New Products: St. Patricks Day Brooches

Here in the snowcone that is Iowa, I am definitely ready for some warm spring action. My St Patrick's Day brooches offer a quick peek of the lovely spring to come. Look for a simplified version made by me in the March issue of Better Homes and Gardens!

Vintage buttons beautify the center of this one.

Vintage photography makes everything look like an heirloom!

Etsy Favorites: Red Bloom Muff of Fabulousness

Fabulous indeed! The photo is ALSO fabulous, the pale aqua walls against the brilliant red makes me want to start painting again. I absolutely LOVE the texture and color of this piece. Birdism obviously spent some serious love putting this muff together. Wouldn't this be amazing in a winter wedding?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Etsy Favorites: 4 Season Cone Gnomes from CutesyPoo

I don't know about you, but here in the land of the perpetual snow, I would like the spring gnome to start pulling his weight. These cute little guys arrive in the form of a .pdf file that you can print from home and assemble. At $1.99 I almost don't even have to think about it! Cutesypoo Toys also makes similar gnomes in fabric, pre-assembled.

I picture these up on a shelf in the girls' room or peek out from behind a plant. What about you?

Favorite Shops: Home Ec. Workshop, Iowa City

The fabric cutting table at Home Ec
. Photo from Dreaming Bear

This past weekend, my husband and I were FINALLY able to take a road trip out of town without the children. We went to Iowa City to see our old friend William Elliot Whitmore play a rock show at the Blue Moose Taphouse in Iowa City. We got into town a little early and had time to visit some of the shops that have opened up since we moved away in 2001.

I visited Home Ec Workshop on the recommendation of Arin and Karen from Ephemera in Des Moines. The shop is on Linn Street just North of Market, on the west side of the road. Back in our I.C.days, the building used to house a guitar store and a used book store that is still on the corner. The Hamburg Inn will probably always slop it out across the street, and I have to admit a twinge of jealousy when I realized that the "Chill and Grill" has now become a falafel restaurant.

Home Ec, which is in a small store front in the middle of the block, has a small front room with fabric, a middle room with yarns, and a back classroom/workshop area. They have also incorporated a small coffee and snack shop.

I ordered a chai (and imagined eating one of the red velvet cupcakes) and browsed around. Their fabric room is small, but well stocked. They did not have quite as much space as someplace like Crafty Planet in Minneapolis, but the prints they do stock were well coordinated, made me drool, and the prices are comparable. I do not knit or crochet, but I found it impossible to avoid petting the stock of yarns, particularly some of the finer spun japanese yarns.

The chai was fabulous, perfectly sweetened with honey (not sticky sweet like the crap they serve at Starbucks) and made with milk from cows who eat real grass (GASP)! Aside from the great stuff (they even had a little vintage and a little handmade mixed in), I would come back just to visit with the ladies. Codi and her partner Alisa could not have been any nicer.

If you live near Iowa City or find yourself in town, take a few minutes to stop in the shop to admire the colors, drink some chai, and stock up on something lovely for your next project.

Home Ec. Workshop
207 N. Linn Street
Iowa City, Iowa 52245

We hope our next stop can include a visit to White Rabbit.

The yarn room. Photo from Dreaming Bear

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Etsy Favorites: Last Five Etsy Purchases

Ever wonder what etsy sellers are buying on etsy? Here are five items I purchased for the holidays.

Ham Earrings. I bought these for my best friend, because who doesn't need a pair of ham earrings? Found at Sweet Meats

Seriously? Why Wait. Be Rad now. Three awesome screened posters from Mixed Species

Every year I purchase or make new ornaments for the tree. These came from Old World Primitives

These cuties came from Katie Anna. The girls love them!

And who doesn't like getting clean with booger soap? Made by Annie Poo

Monday, February 08, 2010

Do It Yourself: Valentine's Day Crackers

The finished goods, ready for delivery.

Oh sure Valentine's Day is a corporate creation to get us to buy each other satin underwear and boxes of chocolate, but it is also a great time to whip up something delightfully pink, fill it with chocolate, and give it to the people you love (or even like a little).

This Valentine's Day, my girls and I made Valentine's Day crackers filled with chocolate kisses for their class. This project is relatively simple. Children over 8 should be able to finish this project with little assistance, while younger kids will need help, but will still enjoy filling the tubes with goodies.

Our work station

Scotch Tape
Cardstock cut into 3" x 4.25" pieces
Tissue paper cut into 10" x 8" pieces (the thin gift wrapping type is best)
thin ribbon or yarn cut into 10" pieces
Medium to large stickers
Kisses or other small candies or treats

Our supplies ready to go. I use my paper cutter to cut down the tissue and cardstock to size.

Roll the cardstock into 3" tubes. Overlap the edges of the cardstock about 1/2" and tape.

With the tube on the 8" side of the tissue paper, roll the tissue around the tube. Twist one end closed, and stick the sticker on the seam of the tissue (little ones are great at sticking the stickers). Tie a ribbon on the twisted end.

Rolling the tube in tissue.

Before we have twisted the end.

Check that the tissue paper opening is clear into the tube, and insert two kisses (or other small goodies). Twist the other end closed and tie with a ribbon.

One end twisted and tied and ready to be filled.

Beatrice (2) filling the tubes with kisses for her friends.

A few years back when making stamps for my business, I had stamps made of my girls' names. The kids' schools want each valentine to only be signed, not individually addressed, so we use the stamps to sign the valentines.

For our close friends and family, we will be making larger versions of this project filled with more treats and a few pics of the girls. If you have a stash of cardboard tubes from toilet paper or paper towels, you can use those, otherwise create larger cardstock tubes.

Happy Crafting!