Friday, February 29, 2008

pile of craft!!!

Charm City Craft Mafia has announced the date for their fabulous spring show. It'll be June the 21st, same time, same place - or, for those of you who haven't been... it's at St. John’s Church, located at 2640 St. Paul St, Baltimore, MD 21218, from 10:00 AM until 5:00 PM.

It's a really cool venue, and lots of great craft, so make sure you come out and support the mafia!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

giveaway! don't forget!

You must sign up for our mailing list (to the right) by midnight EST on March 10th to be eligible for all of this good stuff... C'mon! You know you want it - well over $200 worth of goodies!

Sew New... by jenygwen!

After having a little fight with the sewing machine one day, I decide to retaliate by shoving some paper in, instead of the silk I was working on... next thing I knew I was addicted to sewing on paper! Sometimes I paint/draw on the paper first and then sew it, other times I sew first and let the sewing dictate the design. Typically, I take the resulting design and create stationery and other fun papergoodness! Here are some of my most recent designs...

Post written by jenygwen

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

April Wood's MFA Exhibition

April Wood is a local Baltimore metals artist. Her work is utterly amazing and everyone should go view her MFA exhibition, which is about to go up. Some of her pieces include beautiful raised vessels, incorporating things like onion skins and sausage casing (which looks lovely and lacy, who knew?). Her work is all about the rituals of eating and the connection between sensuality and food. Seriously, a gallery full of April's work, what could be better?

The details:


Towson University - Center for the Arts
Holtzman MFA Gallery

Friday, March 14 – Saturday, April 12
Opening Reception: Thursday, March 13, 7:30 – 9 p.m.
Gallery Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 11 a.m.- 4 p.m.

Post written by Beth Pohlman

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


BEST's new postcard! Get ready for a media blitz!!! The gals of Baltimore are busy getting our works out there!!!

Monday, February 25, 2008

melissa dickenson at shine

imaginary oceans
opening reception friday march 7th from 6-9
Shine Collective on the Avenue

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Packing Tape Extraordinary

I was going to write up a tutorial on creating with felt today, but found myself distracted by the internet instead. I haven't been able to shake the idea of public craft and I've spent far too many hours this week daydreaming and scribbling ideas. In the process, I found this amazing artist!

Mark Jenkins
isn't a Baltimore-based artist, but he's close. Just down the road in D.C., Jenkins has been busy introducing cocoon-like castings of a multitude of creatures and forms to our familiar world and jarring us out of the haze of routine.

His work is shown world-wide and installed locally to boot! How did I miss this pack of puppies at play in urban decay?

I will definitely be keeping my eyes open for this extraordinary invasion. You can try your hand at tape castings, too! Check out this tutorial at We can't wait to see what you come up with!

Favorite Etsy Shop: abigail brown

As a painter, turned crafts person, borderline sculptor, I am very interested in translating the 2D into 3d with the same feeling and emotional impact that is presented in the flat world of illusion and illustration. I've stumbled upon abigail brown ,a textile artist and illustrator working currently in children's book publishing.Her birds convey a strong connection with the actual texture and form of birds but also communicate the character and personality of or feather friends. She is an ocean away in London. Check out her work on her etsy shop as well as her blog.

Large Bird in Turqouise

Matchbox Tweeters

Little icicle Creatures

Friday, February 22, 2008

think you've seen it all?

There's lots of amazing work on Etsy, for sure, but if you get a chance, head down to the American Craft Council's wonderful show this weekend at the Baltimore Convention Center. Check out hundreds of fine American craft artists, such as Jen Violette, Jenny Mendes, Jennifer Bauser, and Tomas Savrda (above, clockwise, from upper left) and demos from our own Allison Fomich.

I'm lucky enough to own work from 3 of the four talented artists shown above, and I'll tell you, each time I look at my collection, I smile. It's so worth it... take some time, and surround yourself with craft.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Block Party Press

Hey there! I'm Tamara from Block Party Press and I make everything from jewelry and accessories to magnets, ACEO's and wall art. My favorite medium is polymer clay which some folks seem to think is just kids stuff, but there are a ton of things you can do with it and it is slowly becoming a more accepted art medium.

Most people are surprised to find out that my pieces are polymer clay. In the summer of 2006 I had a bit of an epiphany and found a way to harness all of my favorite creative interests (clay, painting and carving) into one area. I use hand carved stamps (blocks, hence the Block Party title) to create relief texture and imagery with polymer clay. I bring out the texture with acrylic paints and then I distress them to further bring out the details. I haven't gotten tired of the technique yet and I have been trying my best to stretch it as far as I can.

As with many artists, I was born this way. I have been drawing and making things for as long as I can remember and I have to create often or I just don't feel right. Sometimes my brain overflows with more ideas than my hands and my wallet can keep up with. I love texture, patterns, contrast, and of course color. For fun, I love creating art with recycled items(trash).

I am self-taught through much trial and error and a SAHM of 2 very active boys, 5&8 years old, although with the way my business is going, I guess I am a WAHM now. I also recently fell in love with macro photography, so when I am not creating with clay, or trying to keep up with my boys, you can usually find me behind a camera.

You can find me all over the internet:

Post written by BlockPartyPress

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

st. patrick's day giveaway

Just in time for St. Patrick's Day, BEST will be raffling off a bounty of handmade treasures, including work from sweetpepita, jenygwen, miscelena, byamandagotsch, jenmenkhaus, thebrokenplate, dandelionblu, colescloset, vwstudios, and spatherapy. These pieces and more will be given away to one lucky member of our mailing list, so sign up now!

The drawing will take place on March 10th, and the package will be mailed once we receive a mailing address from the winner.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Tigerlillyshop’s Jewelry Demo

Monica Hampton, the Director of Education for the Council for the American Craft Council was looking to find local crafters in Baltimore who might be interested in partnering with the ACC to do some demonstrations during the retail portion of the show running February 22-24 at the Baltimore Convention Center. She told me that the ACC was trying to reach out to a broader audience and include the DIY market as well as people who make a living making a smaller volume of product than what one would equate with the status quo ACC base. Hampton mentioned that she was hoping to collaborate with Etsy a bit, and asked Adam from the Etsy Marketing team to help her contact me regarding my interest.

I am thrilled that she contacted me! This is a fantastic opportunity for me to get some wide exposure given that nearly 15,000 attendees come through the show floor!

In my demo, I will show the process and explain how I encapsulate organic objects in a copper shell to make one-of-a-kind pieces of nature jewelry. The many steps of the electroforming process will be exhibited, such as selecting a suitable object, plating in an acid bath, and finishing.

Last year I was lucky enough to be voted "Best Local Jewelry Designer 2007" by the Baltimore City Paper. Then, this inquiry from the ACC demo came through Etsy in December. In January, a writer for the Copper Development Association's online international magazine called me to feature my electroforming on their website (this article should be launching Monday). Wow, the web is an amazing networking tool! My head is still spinning.

Look for an article in the Examiner for info on the ACC show, my involvement, and images of my work!

Here is the ACC Demo Schedule for Saturday, February 23rd:

10:00 a.m. Show Opens
11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Allison Fomich, Tigerlilyshop – Jewelry electroforming
1:00-2:00 p.m. Erwin Timmers, Washington School of Glass - Recycled glass
2:00-3:00 p.m. Allison Fomich, Tigerlilyshop – Jewelry electroforming
3:00-4:00 p.m. Terry Todesco, Crash into Ewe - Yarn dyeing
4:00–5:00 p.m. Sam Wallace, Baltimore Clayworks artist,– Traditional Jamaican hand building
5:00 p.m. Demonstrations end
6:00 p.m. Show Closes

Post written by Tigerlillyshop

Friday, February 15, 2008


Hi I’m Claudia from IamMyOwnInvention! I generally make one-of-a-kind pieces using refurbished antique and vintage jewelry, but I’ve also been known to be a designer/seamstress when the mood strikes.

I moved to Bmore last March after accepting a product developer position with Under Armour. UA is a great learning experience – although my position isn’t as creative as I’d like, it’s still pretty cool having to figure out how to piece together a garment… like a 3D puzzle. I haven’t’ totally made up my mind about Baltimore just yet but it grows on me a little every week!

I either heard or read somewhere that whatever you’re the happiest doing at age 5 is what you should pursue as a career in life. I clearly remember sitting in my room for hours drawing fancy dresses and stringing sequins and paper clips together to make necklaces. I’ve also always been a nut about antiques and have been raiding estate sales and thrift shops since I was a kid. I’ve been making things my entire life but it wasn’t until a year or so ago that I actually started selling my creations.

The jewelry thing came about almost inadvertently out of sheer unemployed boredom. Someone told me about Etsy, I thought I’d give it whirl and voila – IamMyOwnInvention was born…

Post written by IamMyOwnInvention

Thursday, February 14, 2008


I have been a hair stylist for 24 years. Although I love cutting hair, especially the creative side of it, I really thought of doing something in addition to cutting hair. I started creating jewelry in the mid 90's... It all started with a great necklace Isaw on a client. She then informed me that she made it herself! That sounded like a real cool thing to do!

It all started with a trip to a local bead store.. I was immediately hooked! Like cutting hair, designing jewelry came pretty natural to me. I am self taught, other than a couple classes and some books on jewelry making. I am also working on learning a bit more about metalsmithing. That will be reflected in my new pieces. I just love creating! I want to also mention, the lady who inspired me to take the leap into this great adventure is my friend, Angela Walker. I really get ideas from everywhere. Sometimes, when I don't have anything particular in my head to make, I just sit and play with my goodies until something clicks!

On a more personal side, I am married 18 years to a great guy, who in his own right, is an artist. In the kitchen! NOT figure friendly food but taste bud friendly for sure! I also have 2 wonderful boys, Vasillios 17 and Gabriel 8 soon to be 9. Vasili plays drums and is a musician in the making. I think Gabe will follow in his big brother's foot steps!

Post written by RobinDalmirasJewelry

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Hi there! I’m the “Stephanie” in StephanieCake. Mild mannered writer and curriculum coordinator by day, super-human maker of things by night… I’ve been a resident of the Baltimore area for almost 12 years.

I’ve been making stuff for as long as I can remember. In fact, my mother claims I was born holding knitting needles and a glue gun. Yikes! At the tender age of three, I gathered up a pile of her fabrics (she’s a seamstress) and cut out the centers with a pair of pinking shears. Imagine my shock and dismay when Mom wasn’t as pleased with my handiwork as I was!

My ensuing childhood was filled with structured crafts… you know, Brownie Scouts… art classes… and lots of random mess-making with the slew of art supplies my family maintained. A typical weekend might have focused around my dad teaching me how to weld or my mother schooling me on the finer points of decorative hems. I guess I was a pretty weird kid. The summer before 12th grade I was accepted to a young sculptor’s summer study program at Virginia Commonwealth University. Then I managed to work things out so I could take three periods of art my senior year. I was totally punk rock and totally an artist, gosh darn it. And by that point I was sure I was going to be a sculptor or painter, living out my successful career in New York or LA.

My acceptance to VCU’s art foundation program felt like the first day to the rest of my life. And then I realized how much I hated art school. I stuck it out, though, and declared my major in the School of Crafts – focusing on jewelry design and textiles. Along the way I also got a minor in Art History. Immediately following graduation, I came to the realization that a lucrative career as a studio artist was simply not waiting for me. But life goes on.

Somewhere between then and now, I picked up a husband… had a baby (he’s 10 now!)… and embarked on several professions including: human resources generalist, recruiter, writer and training consultant. While crafting and art making have taken a backseat at times – stacking the cheese and raising the child aren’t always minimal activities, ya know? – making stuff has always remained very important to me despite my near ruination from art school. Over the years, I’ve been known to try just about every art and craft known to the civilized world. However, I have most consistently returned to textiles, collages, and mixed media assemblages.

In 2001 I started lurking around some art/craft bulletin boards and began selling some of my creations through boutiques. The fabric confections, jewelry and other decorative items I was making were marketed under the business name Kitty Black Designs. I then began making more elaborate art quilts and assemblages by 2005 and sold those under the business name StephanieCake. I also got the opportunity to take on a fair bit of commissioned work.

These days I continue to make the fabric confections – accessory bags and Moleskine covers have been coming off the sewing machine lately – and I’m focusing on the evolution of my mixed media projects. My massive collection of junk and vintage doo-dads is finding a new life in the form of decorative elements adorning tiaras, jewelry boxes and art quilts. My silversmithing equipment languishes in storage except for the occasional one-off commission or gift. But I have a feeling those skills may make a comeback at some point!

My random thoughts, including musings on my totally unproductive obsession with knitting, can be witnessed on my blog at: Please stop by! I don’t bite. Usually.

Post written by StephanieCake

Monday, February 11, 2008


I can remember painting seashells and selling them to neighbors on the side of the road. The best were shells that had holes in them so I could make necklaces. My Grandfather was a jeweler, I had a Great Grandmother who was an outstanding artisan wood carver, and my father is a landscape designer, so creativity is genetic it seems.

In undergrad I majored in photography and creative writing, but somehow always seemed to be making artist books and more sculptural objects. I started teaching black and white photography at UMCP while wrapping up my degree at UMBC. I taught at several different schools and art programs once I graduated, and then started my own business shooting weddings and events. That same year I took a job teaching photography at the high school level and got accepted into MICA's MFA program for photography and digital art. The following year I got engaged, bought a house that needed total renovation, continued with my teaching job, was shooting several events every weekend, and juggling grad school. Busy.

Between the teaching, my event photography business, and developing my thesis, I became very burnt out on photography. Once I completed my grad program, picking up a camera was the last thing I wanted to do. My thesis show involved steel frames I had fabricated and welded, and I became intrigued with metal working. I had always been interested in small scale sculptural jewelry, so not long after graduating from MICA, I returned to take some metalsmithing classes.

Fast forward 2 years and I am now enjoying working with enameling and metals. Color is very important to me, and as a photographer I worked with color extensively. I even painted my entire house specifically for my thesis body of work. I have since closed my event photography business, preferring to have my weekends back to work in the studio. I am currently still teaching photography and studio art full time. I started my etsy shop last year and am hoping to work towards being a full time working artist next year.

I mainly work with enamels and metals, but also have a line of jewelry with vintage beads. Today, I am living in my second house that is a total renovation in progress, with my graphic artist/musician/home renovator extraordinaire husband, and a menagerie of rescued animals. In my spare time I manage to squeeze in volunteering with Adopt A Boxer Rescue, and when I can, donating a portion of my etsy sales. Thanks for reading!

"The one absolutely unselfish friend that a human can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him and the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous... is his dog."

Post written by danelionblu

Sunday, February 10, 2008

take a peek!

BEST members are busily preparing a giveaway sampler... complete details will be announced here on February 18th, but in the meantime - take a look at the goodies we have so far. Want a chance to win the sampler? Sign up for out Google Group mailing list. Work pictured by Amanda Gotsch, SweetPepita, JenMenkhaus & TheBrokenPlate.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Something about Tigerlillyshop

One night when I was in the red room chatting, long ago… another etsy seller asked me about my shop name. I told her it came from a nickname a friend gave me while I was in gradschool. He would see me digging in my garden, freckles out in the sun, he just started calling me Tigerlilly. I thought it would make an interesting shop name, so I went with it when the time came to choose my username. Little did I know, my Etsy shop would take on the very characteristics of that old time perennial. Tigerlilies are known invasive wild plants, if left unchecked they grow out of control.

My daughter was 6 months old when I found Etsy. I was looking to sell online, researching consignment, wholesale, whatever. I was really desperate to supplement my husband’s income since I couldn’t work the long hours doing upholstery that I was accustomed to with my new daughter. I found Etsy and signed up immediately, and that is the beginning of the wild growth of my tigerlillyshop.

Since I started on Etsy since August 2005, I have been able to sell everything I have ever posted on there. My shrinky dink rings are my best seller. Most of them incorporate my original drawings. I started my shop with those rings. From there I have slowly branched out to include vintage component jewelry. I also make a line of fiber button jewelry that incorporates interesting silks from Japanese Kimonos and other silk textiles.

I also make jewelry now using the metalsmithing skills I picked up in grad school. I have a line of nature jewelry that my customers have really been enjoying. I can press actual pieces of nature like leaves and insect wings into copper and silver to make one of a kind metal jewelry. I also have the equipment to plate copper onto any organic 3D object, the process is called electroforming. Remember bronzed baby shoes? –this is the same process, only I use it to make jewelry.

I was voted Best Local Jewelry Designer by the City Paper for ’07. I also exhibit my ephemeral inflatable sculpture. I had my premier solo exhibit in March ’07 at the Schiavone Fine Art Gallery in Highlandtown. So, I am always doing something. I have too many ideas and too little time.

For a more extensive bio, a little more about me: I was raised outside just of New Orleans, LA. I am the oldest of 3 sisters, an Aquarius. I am a working artist and upholsterer, and I am the mother of a 2 yr old –who’s going on 14.

I came to Baltimore in 1994 for college, graduated from MICA in ’98 with a BFA in General Sculptural Studies. I stayed in Baltimore for a few years after I graduated working for a sculptor and an upholsterer in the Canton Broom Factory building. I learned some studio skills there that have carried me very far. Then I dropped everything and escaped to northwestern PA, I gardened like a maniac and got my MFA from Edinboro University of PA.

When I moved back to Baltimore I bought a house with my painter husband. We live in a building in the back of the Highlandtown neighborhood that used to be 2 homes. They were knocked together in the ‘50s at some point. This building used to be an Italian hall called the Gladiator Club, no one will tell us what when on here... This home is where the magic happens. Our entire downstairs serves as a studio to us. One day it is an upholstery shop or a painting/printing studio. The next day it is set up as a jewelry and electroforming workshop.

Yes, this is all a lot of work, but I have been able to achieve a manageable balance of art making and motherhood. Long live Etsy!

Post written by Tigerlillyshop

Friday, February 8, 2008

Together Again

Wed had our second official meeting at Flips in Hampden last Saturday night. It's only been a week since then, but we've already begun working on and accomplishing the tasks we've set out for our group!

Now that's taking care of business in a flash. That's right, putting Elvis to shame here... anyway we're up to something good, so you're gonna want to stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

let me let you in on a little secret...

My dear friend Justin Credible will be performing as part of the fantastic Stoop Storytelling series at Centerstage this Monday, February 11th. This installment features seven storytellers who get seven minutes each to talk about the untruths woven into the DNA of every family. There will be cocktails at 7 and live music by Caleb Stine and the Brakemen. The show starts at 8pm. Other featured storytellers:

Keith Gayler
policy wonk, pirate aficionado

Barbara DeCesare reluctant paralegal

Lisa Libowitz writer, storyteller, and woman of a thousand identities

Barbara Dale illustrator, taste expander and creative baker

Justin Credible Baltimore's Best Drag King 2007

Sarah Jennings crafty chick

Steve Luxenberg writer, Washington Post editor

I just found out the production is SOLD OUT! However, a limited number of standing-room tickets will be available day-of at the Box Office for in-person purchase ONLY. For more information, or for other upcoming shows, visit The Stoop Storytelling Series.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Vibrant Earth Jewels

Born and raised in Baltimore, I spent my early years in Towson, finally making my way to downtown Baltimore at 19. I’ve held a variety of positions in my career – from assistant clothing buyer at Merry-Go-Round, to settlement counselor at a major housing developer, to legal secretary at multiple law firms. All along the way, I’ve nurtured my creativity at every opportunity and somewhere in there began making jewelry. I did one of my very first shows in Fells Point in 1990.

While designing and making jewelry was certainly fun, it just wasn’t paying the bills. So I continued to bide my time in various office positions, until 1996. That was when I opened a little shop in Fells Point on Aliceanna Street called “Constance”. This is also when renting a shop cost a mere $450 a month! Boy, have times changed!

While operating the shop, I taught myself upholstery, pillow making and furniture refinishing. It was during this period that I became very interested in fabric and began making pillows like crazy! Tapping into my instinctive talent for interior aesthetics, I became a preferred designer and fabricator of unique decorative pillows for a number of Baltimore shops, including Nouveau. I also created custom pillows for various interior designers.

Then the market in the Point went flat and everyone began closing up shop. Luckily, for me that’s also when I married my sweetie. Very soon after that we learned I was pregnant with my daughter. After moving from Butchers Hill to Lauraville, I responded again to my intensely creative drive, and began creating decorative tassels made from antique salt and pepper shakers. Also driven by my strong desire to show my work, I took those designs on the road.

For a good while, I was doing at least 3 shows a month, which, with a youngin’, became too grueling to sustain. I went back to making jewelry and began selling my work on eBay. I had a really great run in that arena, sending my work all over the world – quite exhilarating! I found out about Etsy in the fall of 2006, and put some things on, but didn’t really establish anything until fall of 2007. It’s been interesting, sometimes frustrating for me, but I’m determined to continue!

Along with making jewelry, now that my daughter is school-age, I sit on the board of directors at City Neighbors Charter School as the director of fund raising. This is a challenging, and incredibly fulfilling position. My committee has been able to achieve their 2007-2008 budget goal 6 months ahead of schedule!

Things that inspire me: my garden, raising butterflies, searching for, and finding 4-leaf clovers (it drives my husband crazy because he can’t ever seem to find one!), learning new crafts and rekindling old ones, my incredibly supportive friends, my cat Jasper, my jazz-playing, musician husband, and the biggest inspiration of all – my daughter.

As luck would have it, my life has circled back around, and I’ll be opening a little boutique on the second floor of the Red Canoe on Harford Road in Lauraville in the very near future.

posting by Vibrant Earth Jewels

Friday, February 1, 2008


Hello. My name is Jennifer McBrien. I am the sole proprietor of jennyjen42. I have been a Baltimore resident my entire life. I live here with my handsome husband and my two cats Chuckie and Louie…also known as my sweatshop guards. My intro to crafts began by converting baby food jars into Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Pilgrims and what not while in Brownies and Girl Scouts. We would sew stuffed animals and make beanbags we would even fold telephone books into Christmas trees. All of these crafts were in high fashion in the seventies, along with my favorite project of covering glass jars with tiny pieces of masking tape then rubbing on black shoe polish to give them the look of leather! Who comes up with this stuff? When I got older, I became too cool to craft and did not partake in much craft besides hooking a rug of the chipmunks and a couple of embroidery projects. Then there was high school and college. I majored in painting at Towson State University. After graduating from Towson in ’85, I moved into the city and dove right into the punk rock scene and poverty. In ’87 I decided to go back to school and get my teaching degree. I landed my first teaching job at Red House Run Elementary School in Rosedale. This is where I found the magic of the Storage Library. Just about every book I read as a child… reading, science and math books, were all there.
I began to use images from these books in my paintings. I began to layer these images with ideas and thoughts I remember having as a child. Balancing these older thoughts and ideas with today’s realizations. I painted and painted. Showed throughout Baltimore and DC even a show in Chicago. You can see my 20 years of painting

I had a very artistic life that began to turn sour in my late 30’s. I completely changed my life and got out of a sour marriage and found my Patrick.

A man who has loved me for everything that I am...fully excepting of who I am. He helped to give me the confidence to transform my world into a happy one full of sunshine and birdy birds. After a year or so in the Copycat Building (what we call the MICA frat house), we bought a beautiful stone house in Original Northwood, the first planned community in Baltimore based on the landscape. Our house reminds me so much of where I grew up. Hardwood floors, a fireplace, black and white tile bathroom…are all here. But the best part is what surrounds the house…the trees and the birds! We have a mulberry tree in the back that the birds love to eat and I believe even get drunk from. We have had multitudes of birds, all types, along with squirrels chowing down on the delicious berries, all in harmony.
Our bird feeders help to supply the parties once the berries are all gone. These new friends have been my inspiration for my birdy bird designs. First came the pillows, then the bags and eyeglass cases. My aprons are a tribute to my grandmother who always looked so beautiful in her aprons while gardening or cleaning the house. She has been my major inspiration for my jennyjen products. She represents a period of time I wish to recreate with my designs. I have really loved doing the craft circuit. I love the feedback I have received from my customers at these shows. My best critics are ones under the age of 10! I haven’t painted in a while except in my classroom. I head the art department at Parkville High School where I teach the advanced studio classes. My students all want me to teach them how to sew! Perhaps in my next career. You can keep up with jennyjen’s thoughts, inspirations and goings on at my blog: