Sunday, May 31, 2009

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Tutorial: Paper Bag Tags

Natalie, a Washington state-based crafter and great blogger agreed to let me post this very fun and useful tutorial for everyone crafty out there. Enjoy!

Natalie writes: Yesterday, I sat down to design the new hang tags for the new Love, Natalie products. I was trying to think of something cost effective and earth friendly. Basically, I'm tired to running to Paperzone and paying top dollar for card stock. I tried to think of using something that well, didn't cost me anything! I thought the same way when I was thinking of a cost effective way to ship. I cut up my paper bags from the grocery store and used them as shipping paper. My brain clicked...what if I cut the paper bag to 8 1/2 x 11 and tried printing on it. Even though I have the cheapest printer on the market (thank you Costco) it worked! Here is how I did it. By the way, I don't think I reinvented the wheel by any means, so if you already know this method exists, please ignore!

Start with the paper bag, DUH. Cut it open so the whole bag lays flat.

Find a peice of letter sized paper, card stock works the best for tracing, ruler and your exacto knife.

You'll want to find the less wrinkly part of the bag with the least amount of creases. Trace the exact outline of the paper on the paper bag. Cut out with exacto and place in your printer correctly. One time when I was printing on the paper bag it got stuck, but its because I didn't place it in the printer with enough care, I just sort of stuck it in there lazily! So its got to be perfect.

And whala! A beautiful print. Now to cut all of these out for tags.

I hope I've sparked your imagination in some way with the idea of using your old paper bags as something other than a garbage sack or being forgotten about under the kitchen sink. I've also found that making envelopes works too. Cut it to size and tape or sew the edges. Cheap, creative, and green.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Handmade Mart!

Join BEST members Dandelion Blu, Tigerlilly Shop, Block Party Press, and Sugar Paperie this Sunday, May 31st, in Downtown Silver Spring for the first ever Handmade Mart! Come for Indie Crafts and Indie Rock, 10am-5pm on Ellsworth Drive between Fenton and Georgia Ave. We hope to see you there!

Dandelion Blu
Block Party Press

Tigerlilly Shop

Sugar Paperie

A Mural in 7 Days...

It was only a few weeks ago that I told you about my newest project: a 30 x 50 foot mural, at 4337 Park Heights Avenue, here in Baltimore. At this point, the mural has 7 days worth of work on it. i figured this would be as good a time as any to take you through the progress and let you see how a mural is done (well, how MY murals are done). If you've never embarked on something this big, I think it could seem like a pretty daunting task... but like anything else, it's just one step at a time! Here are those steps: this is what the wall looked like to start with... then the scaffold company comes along and puts up a scaffold for me to maneuver around on. on the first day of work, i'll need to prime the whole wall; this is a coat of essentially the same kind of gesso you'd cover a canvas with before you paint--- it fills in all the little holes and pits and puts a flat coat over the surface, which, in theory, allows the paint to stay on the surface and not get soaked in to the brick... on the 2nd day, i sketch out the basic shapes of the image-- no details yet, but just enough information to be able to lay in flat color. i've premixed most of the colors i'll need, so i can just roll those into the spaces i've drawn out; it's like a giant color by number! a lot of people have asked how i figure out where to start the drawing or how to plot it out on the wall. well, there's probably an easier way, but basically, i take the sketch and lay it over the photograph of the building in photoshop; i re-scale the image until it lines up. Then with the help of a little basic math, i make a scale, and figure out how many inches on my scaled down drawing equal how many feet on the actual building. I can use the scaffolding itself to figure out how many feet tall or how many bricks tall the spaces between levels of scaffolding are and fold my drawing into rows that correspond to each level of scaffold. After that, i just climb up and use a light colored paint; i don't hesitate much or worry too much--- i just pick a curve or a line and put it on the wall... the rest just falls into place, one level at a time. If there are any unclean lines or things that dont connect, i can clean them up as i paint... 3rd day: more flat color... 4th day: yet more flat color (and starting to correct some of my drawing)... 5th day: more flat color, more drawing correction and getting ready to put the main background color in (its a very pale blue)... 6th day: this is what it looks like now. There are selected bricks that i've painted over with a slightly different color blue, so the surface will have a little more depth and "shimmer" from a distance... week (barring bad weather) i'll start the details; with all the flat colors laid in and the background color having corrected all of the shapes, i'm ready to give my figures faces and to paint in the scenery & landscapes that will fill the lower halves of their bodies. After that, it's just a matter of adding a few details, outlining the figures and correcting any drips or color oddities. And then, i seal it. So, keep your fingers crossed for good weather and good muscle health (these murals aren't easy on the back and bones!). xo, danamarie

BEST is going to Art Star!

The weather this weekend is going to be perfect for a little travel, some great shopping and hanging out at one of the coolest DIY craft shows on the east coast. It’s the Art Star Craft Bazaar and it’s this weekend at Penns Landing Great Plaza, Saturday and Sunday (may 30-31) from 11AM to 6PM. Over 100 artists and crafters! Get there early and get one of a 250 free tote bags (silk-screened with Julie’s west’s Bazaar Logo) and filled with gifts from sponsors, vendors and coupons for area restaurants and shops. So, when is the last time you’ve been to Philly the City of Love? Less than 2 hours away on a beautiful sunny day in the 70’s. Stop by to visit these BEST members who will represent the Baltimore handmade scene:

Yellow Leaf Broken Plate Pendant with Vintage Dangle Beads

by The Broken Plate Pendant Company

Raven, Hand Colored Woodcut with Letterpress

by Bowerbox Press

Jade Drop Earrings

by elisasherejewelry

Monster Truck long-sleeved infant t-shirt

by sweetpepita

Palmistry by Worndress

Birdy Party in Blue by Jennyjen42

Nandi bag by Dari

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Let's Go Out!

Since my new little bean arrived, I'll admit, I haven't been out much... but boy, am I ready. The next nice day we have, we're going to venture out somewhere like Hampden, to do a little shopping, have some lunch, and see some friends. Here's what I'll be wearing:

Since one of the biggest parts of going out is dressing my kids, I think my daughter would look adorable in this dress by littlefishbigpond. This one's ready made to save me time, but the shop also features "sew it yourself" versions.

And for the new little guy, this adorable custom onesie by lisagorno.

To carry all my stuff- this fun diaper bag from retrofied.

And to carry the little one, so I have hands to shop, this beautiful jade linen sling by RaspberryBaby.

Since sometimes I feel like the only part of me you can see is my head, I'm going to wear these gorgeous bobbies by Cultivar.

See you out soon!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is!

Wardrobe Refashion is a community which has had an online presence since early 2006. Based in Melbourne, Australia, owner Nichola Prested started up the site after deciding to quit buying new manufactured clothing in a bid to do her part for the planet, save money and improve her sewing skills.

Participants of the blog pledge to abstain from the purchase of new manufactured clothing for the period of 2, 4, 6 months or LIFE. They pledge to refashion, renovate, and recycle preloved items with their own hands in fabric, yarn or other medium or make their own from scratch.

Those who fall off the wagon must confess on the blog by displaying a ‘Get out of Refashionista Jail FREE’ card.

This refashionista turned a thrift store tablecloth into a very cute skirt!

The Pledge:

I __________________ pledge that I shall abstain from the purchase of "new" manufactured items of clothing, for the period of 2 / 4 / 6 months. I pledge that i shall refashion, renovate, recycle preloved items for myself with my own hands in fabric, yarn or other medium for the term of my contract. I pledge that I will share the love and post a photo of my refashioned, renovoted, recycled, crafted or created item of clothing on the Wardrobe Refashion blog, so that others may share the joy that thy thriftiness brings! Signed__________________.

The Rules

1. No buying new! (handmade is excepted; So this allows for Etsy purchases etc!!) All clothing must be Recycled, Renovated, Preloved or Thrifted, or Handmade only for the term. Employment related and special needs clothing (ie sports, school), shoes and undies are excepted from the rules, although you are encouraged to have a go at making these.

2. In extreme circumstances, maybe a special event, or the worlds greatest and most amazing never to be repeated sale that you simply can not pass up, you may use the Get out of Refashionista Jail Free card. You are able to use this card once during the 2 month part of your contract; ie 1 for 2 months, 2 for 4 months etc. Of course you need to fess up on the blog and display the button!

3. You must post on the blog at least once a week to let the community know what you've been up to. This will not only give you brag points, but inspire and encorouge others! Of course you need to display the button on your blog and have copied the pledge in at least one post, and provide a link to your pledge under the button.

4. You need to be honest and admit when you've fallen off the Refashionista Wagon! Go directly to Refashionista Jail, do not pass GO and do not collect $200! Apply for parole once there.

Nichola is taking new members after June 15th. I'm joining---anyone with me?!

Weekend Deals

Wanna win a Knitimal?

greenstarstudio is gearing up for the summer shows with a spring cleaning sale AND giveaway. Everything in the shop has been marked down, and in addition to free gifts (like soap, stickers, coloring books & more) with every purchase, everyone who places an order this week will be entered into a drawing to win a FREE KNITIMAL (valued at $100).

Visit her blog for the secret code & the full scoop!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Ever wondered what would happen if artists ruled the world? If Artomatic is any indication, thousands of them would come out of hiding and fill empty spaces with handmade things. What is Artomatic, you say. It's an art event of the biggest scale.

Photo by Davin Tarr

Take one brand new, empty, nine-story building. Add a few plywood walls, a stage or three, and a handful of comfy chairs. Then invite any and all artists to show off their work. This year there are over 1000 visual artists, hundreds of live performances, films, and activities for kids and adults.

Sculpture by Laurel Lukaszewski

Three BEST crafters are showing their artistic side at Artomatic this year. Visit Tarabu on the fourth floor, VW Studios on the eighth, and Miscelena on the ninth.

The exhibition opens this Friday night in a future office building on top of the Navy Yard Metro station in D.C. at 55 M Street SE. For detailed directions and a complete schedule of events, visit

What I'm Working On: Nancy

This week, I'm thinking in rainbows. It's been too rainy lately and I'm ready for some nice weather! Because of all the rain, I've found myself hanging out on the computer ordering lots of supplies. I primarily create paper goods and knit, and I've been thinking spring: bright colors, cute prints, and sparkles to brighten my days. Can't go wrong with that, right?

I finally received my first handspun yarn that I'd ordered from etsy. I couldn't wait to knit it up; it's so bright and sparkly! I created the cute clutch and coin purse set pictured above. My first handspun knitting experience was absolutely thrilling. The yarn was luscious and I found a new obsession. I suppose every girl's gotta have a spending vice, and yarn is mine. So now they're just sitting in my "to be lined pile" waiting for me to catch the sewing bug.

Another project I've got going on this week are these cute cards. I create mini not card sets, and these are bright and springy and I'm absolutely in love with them! In this set, I'm including 4 different cover prints; 2 of each design per pack. I make the envelopes, and am lining this set with a cute green polka dot print paper.

Finally, I've been working on expanding my jewelry line. I'm not a jewelry artist, but became inspired to translate my Contained Series Drawings into a jewelry design to create a smaller price point in my shop. It turned out, I really loved making them, and now I've got a couple different varieties that I make. Last week, while on my supply ordering kick, I decided to order some round pendant banks to fill. So here they are, I am really liking this shape vs. my original design set inside oval banks.

If you'd like to see these in their finished states, check out my etsy shop!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Homemade Bubbles

Anyone who has young children knows that when the sun comes out for spring, it signals that it is officially bubble season. We go through tons of this slimey stuff. It's fun to blow bubbles, but it's almost more fun to dump it out on the sidewalk, deck, or in the pool, whatever.

This year I am determined to save money cutting corners where I don't always cut corners. Buying gallons of bubbles in tiny plastic bottles through the summer is a waste. Why bother with the tiny plastic bottles in the first place?

This was a very easy recipe, we had great results!

6 parts water
2 parts joy or dawn liquid dish soap
3/4 parts karo syrup
a few drops of food coloring

mix it up -TA DA! and super cheap!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Red Velvet Truffle Balls

My sister’s friend made these one year for Christmas, and they were fantastic! This year I decided to make them for gifts, and everyone loved them. Who can say no to a red velvet truffle ball? Variations of this recipe are all over the internet, but thought I would share with you all how I made them! First of all I want to let you know that I used box cake mix, however if you are not as busy as I am, and would like to make yours from scratch I recommend this recipe from good ‘ole Paula Deen.

Alrighty, first things first, Mix the cake mix according to package directions –

Next bake the cake according to the package/recipe directions.

Let the cake cool then crumble in a small bowl and mix with one can of frosting – this is where you can get creative, I used rainbowchip frosting, but you can use any kind that you like, including your homemade specialty!

After the cake is crumbled and mixed thoroughly with the frosting, roll into balls and place on a baking sheet. Put the baking sheet in the fridge for a few hours until the balls are firm. Melt some chocolate in the microwave or double boiler – this is again where you can get creative, I used milk chocolate, but you can use white or dark, or mix it up!

Then dip the balls in the chocolate and place back on the baking sheet. Once they are all dipped and on the baking sheet place in the fridge for the chocolate to harden, then enjoy!

These are fun to make, and can be made in any combination you want! Like chocolate? Use chocolate cake mix and chocolate frosting! A fun summer treat? Try strawberry cake mix and coconut frosting! Also toppings can vary; I used jimmies, because I think they are fun and add color, sprinkle mini chocolate chips, coconut flakes, nuts, or your favorite treat on the outside to personalize them! This is a treat that everyone who has tasted loved! If anyone out there makes any let me know how they turn out and what fun combinations you’ve come up with!

Written by Jessica.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Finds: Pool Party!

Memorial Day isn't too far away, so I've got pool parties on my mind, inspired by this cute retro-inspired swimsuit by BettieB.

I think it would be a good reason to stick this pretty flower by Kaang in my hair!

This ring by Dirt Road South would look great on my finger as I pass around my trays of hors d'Ĺ“uvres!

I think I will set out these tropical coasters by BEST's own Tarabu for my friends' drinks.

I think these Mexican paper banners by Ay Mujer! would be gorgeous decorations for my party. Now all we need is some consistent sun around here!