Friday, December 24, 2010

Closed for the Holidays... just a short break.

After a busy, busy season for us, we will be taking a much-needed break here at the BEST blog. While many BEST members work from home, and often in pajamas, they are some of the smartest and hardest working people I have ever met. (Of course, there are lots of members who also have day jobs, kids, etc, and who knows how they get everything done?) I think most of us (and I'm sure many of you) feel just like that little one in the image above. Tired.

Of course there's you to thank, our readers, our friends, the people who allow us to do what we love. We love seeing you at shows, hearing your comments on the blog, we thank you for taking to the time to peek into our thoughts every day. (We know some days are better than others!). Thanks so much for your support.

On behalf of BEST, we'd like to wish you all the happiest of holidays & a warm, wonderful new year. See you in 2011!

Photo by zizzybaloobah

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Let's Go Out.....for Christmas Eve

I grew up in the midwest where it's below zero this time of year. While I'd quietly prefer to stay home, cozy in my pjs with a hot toddy, every Christmas Eve my family gets all bundled up and makes a frigid journey to the candlelight church service.
This lovely cowl by GrayDesigns will help keep me warm. will these fun handwarmers by HelenGrayDesigns.

And when we return home from church, we always have a feast of hors d'oeuvres and toddies! I'll bundle up in this hand crocheted throw by Fringe as we track Santa's location on Norad.

Written by Sugar Paperie.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

December is National Tie Month?

Who would have thought, December is National Tie Month. Here are a few picks to make those ties a little more fun.

Short Circuit tie for all those IT guys, by projector

Beer, hops, barley and wheat tie by toybreaker. Just don't spill beer on it, it's silk!

Psychedelic Eye by Scatterbrain, for when that report needs a fresh set of eyes.

and Nevermore Tie, because we love our Poe and Ravens here in Baltimore, by binarywinter

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


ILLUSTRATION NEXT is an exhibition of illustration practice today. Awash in technology like e-books and iPhone apps, we crave handmade items as our cultural narratives play out on clothing, personal items, and environments. This show of work by MICA alum (including BEST's own, Jill Popowich) represents some of illustration’s new storytelling models interwoven with time-honored traditional methods of expression.

Show will be at Case[werks] Gallery through December 29, 2010. Click here for more information.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Book Review: Every Day's a Holiday

This year I decided to ease up on my holiday show schedule (this year I only did 5!) so that I could spend some time doing some fun holiday stuff with the kids. While I was doing some Christmas shopping at Atomic Books last week, I picked up Heidi Kenney's book, and just knew it would help me sort out all of my scattered plans for making amazing Christmas crafts. Let me just say that this book did not disappoint - we'll be making a few of the crafts this week and we'll definitely be pulling this book out on any rainy, snowy, sick, or just plain bored day. A word to those of you who don't have a hoarder's craft stash like I do: make sure you plan out your projects in advance. While lots of the supplies you will likely have at home, many others will require a walk in the woods or a trip to the store.

Get Heidi's book, and get crafting with your kids!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Highlandtown Train Garden Visit, Baltimore with Babes

Model Sponsors, originally uploaded by pagodabob.

Visiting a train garden around Christmas time is a favorite tradition of mine. I try to see these little models though my daughter's eyes. We take our time discovering the holiday decorations, fake snow, the tiny cars and people, hobos. And if you're lucky, you see the little puffs of smoke that pump out of the engine in unison with a whistle. These displays somehow evoke nostalgic memories and stir up warm feelings of our own past childhoods. I'm happy to help make those memories with my family during this holiday season.

But this is no generic train set up! The Highlandtown Train Garden is full of personality. The engineers made sure to complete it with personal touches from this side of the city. National Lumber, the Guide, Di Pasquales. Even the newly acquired Frank Zappa head sculpture is decked standing proud outside of the SE Anchor Library! This train garden is overflowing with the charm of East Baltimore.

Don't miss out! The schedule can be found here:

more info on the tiny Zappa Head here

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday Finds-Yappy Howlidays

I have four dogs at home that have more toys that I like to admit so I'm always on the look out for something different. Here are a few finds for our four legged friends... and their friends.

Some tasty treats from FarmDog

A black dog toy from thelab

A dapper bow tie from SillyBuddy (my Ralphie will look so dashing in this one)

Nothing says the dogs can't send cards! Holiday cards from our very own FuzzyMug

And a little something special from the dog, what better way to have them with you always. This custom nose print by rockmyworldinc

Thursday, December 16, 2010

TC Williams Craft Fair: December 18th

On Saturday December 18th, TC Williams High School in Alexandria, VA will be host to 40 crafters from around the DC area to raise money for Joining Hearts and Hands, an organization that promotes educational, health, and economic well fare for the people of Kenya and Tanzania. This organization, founded by William and Joanne Cala, has raised money to build schools, health clinics water wells, and latrines in these countries. They have also provided secondary school scholarships for students and created micro-businesses to promote self-sustainability.

TC Williams Craft Fair
When: Saturday, December 18th, 10am to 4pm
Where: T.C. Williams Cafeteria, Alexandria, VA

From 10 am - 4 pm you can come out and shop the handmade event, featuring some of your favorite BEST members, including Namoo and Lana Bella. The event takes place at T.C. Williams HS, 3330 King Street, Alexandria, VA. For more information, please visit their website.

Written by Insung of NAMOO

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Broken Plate Pendant Co. in Real Simple!

I am soooo excited to be included in the January issue of Real Simple Magazine that I am offering 10% off in my Etsy Shop with code REALSIMPLE until the end of January! You can read the whole Real Simple story on my website, if you are so inclined.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What I'm Working On: African Adornments

The term "Statement Necklace" seems to be very popular right now. We're seeing a lot of ingeniously crafted pieces using both conventional and unconventional materials intended to make a statement for the wearer. One of the joys of collecting African beads is that the entire vast continent has a history of making statements with its jewelry and adornments. African jewelry delights and involves us because so much of it tells a literal story its makers and wearers. "I'm a Christian, and I come from such-and-such a city..." (Ethiopia). "I'm a bride, and today is my wedding day..." (Mali). "I'm a young man of the Masai, and I'm undertaking my training as a warrior..." (East Africa). " Or perhaps simply, "I love you ..." (Zulu people, South Africa). All over Africa, people traditionally combine their mode of dress, their hairstyle, and their bodily adornments to tell the world who they are, where they come from, what they believe, what place they have in society.

I've recently acquired a few of strands of "Mali Wedding Beads." These beauties come in a variety of shapes and a rainbow of bright, primary colors. Originally manufactured in Bohemia or Czechoslovakia, contemporary examples are now being made in Ghana. The fortunate brides of Mali are given strands of these beads to wear on their wedding days. Though the beads have a very contemporary look, their shapes and colors date back to the 19th Century. Good strands of Mali wedding beads aren't inexpensive, and the tendency among Western designers is to break up the strands and use the individual beads for pendants, earrings, and bracelets. I love the traditional look of the massed beads and imagine them setting off a crisp white shirt or a turtleneck. I'm combining the beads with aluminum heishi and adding a fanciful little "counterweight" to dangle at the back. Here's one of the three I've made so far using some fine antique Czech beads:
Written by: Anne of Atelier-Beads

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Recipe: Banana Muffins

I found this banana muffin recipe in Taste of Home magazine back in 1999. I only know this because the date is on the recipe card I cut out not because I have a fantastic memory. Any way when I first made them, I made them full size and my kids loved them. But back then I only had 2 kids, ages 4 and 1, who really couldn't finish a whole muffin. So I bought a mini muffin pan and everyone was happy.

Over the years I have made some changes to the recipe besides the size. I changed the flour proportions, I now puree the banana since my kids didn't like finding chunks of banana in there and I use mini chocolate chips. Here is the recipe if you would like to try it. I made some yesterday and the 3 of them ate 2 dozen for a snack.

1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3 medium ripe bananas, pureed
1 1/4 cup milk
1 egg
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
about 1/2 bag of mini chocolate chips, sometimes more depending on how it looks

Combine flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. In the blender, combine bananas, milk, egg, oil and vanilla. Mix until well blended. Stir liquid mixture into dry ingredients until moist. Add chocolate chips and mix well. Grease muffin pan and fill about 3/4 full. (I don't measure for this step I use a small ice cream scoop to fill the pan) You can use muffin cups if you would like too. Bake at 400* for about 11 minutes or until done. Makes about 4 dozen mini muffins.

When I make these, I usually double it and then freeze about half of them since my kids eat them like I never have fed them before. Also. it is the only way I can get them to last more than 3 days.

Written by LindasPaperie

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday Finds: Hot Cocoa

hot cocoa - warm winter greeting mini cards by MerryBluesArt

Tonal Striped Scarf Mocha and Browns by sweetpepita

Creamy Wool Mug Cozy by PerpendicularCrafts

chocolate lovers sampler set by flyingbirdbotanicals

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Niche Features BEST Crafter Jennifer Wilfong of Yummy & Company!

If you haven't checked out Niche's new blog now is the time!  As a crafter, it's such a thrill to even be on their radar!  So I about jumped out of my chair when they said they'd like to write an article about my work and what inspires some of the designs I've created.   Niche has been an invalubable resource for retailers and galleries looking to find one of a kind crafts for years and is a great source for any aspiring crafter!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What I'm Working on: Linda's Paperie

December is the time of year when most people send out holiday cards to friends and family. If you are still looking for a card or 2, I have finished listing Christmas cards in my shop and I wanted to share one of my favorites.
Peace on Earth comes in a set of 4 cards including envelopes. The bird on the vine is pieced together from 3 different colors of paper. The bird is covered with clear glitter and has a black rhinestone for an eye, as well as the flower centers.

Written by LindasPaperie

Monday, December 6, 2010

MICA Art Market

Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) presents its third annual MICA Art Market Wednesday, Dec. 8-Saturday, Dec. 11 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. in Brown Center's Leidy Atrium, Falvey Hall lobby and Rosenberg Gallery, 1301 W Mount Royal Ave. This festive, four-day sale features illustrations, paintings, prints, posters, sculptures, mosaics, stationery, T-shirts, ceramics, jewelry, textiles, book arts, toys, and wrapping paper designed and created by more than 250 MICA students, faculty, alumni and staff.

Join BEST members Bowerbox Press, Sugar Paperie, and greenstarstudio. Happy shopping!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Recycled Paper Envelopes Tutorial

Often when I need cards, I find myself making them from paper and scraps of supplies I have around my office instead of purchasing them but for some reason I usually purchase envelopes for these cards. I have plenty of paper that usually gets put in the recycled bin, why am I buying more paper in the form of an envelope? So I worked up a template to make easy envelopes from a standard size piece of paper, therefore envelopes can me made from most magazines that would usually be placed in the recycling bin.

This template will make an A2 (4-3/8" x 5-3/4") envelope but keep in mind that you are hand making it and the dimensions might be slightly off.

What you will need:
2-3 pieces of magazine or newspaper approx. 8.5” x 11”
Scissors or exacto knife
Paper glue
Printer (to print templates)
Bonefolder or butter knife

1. Download Envelopetemplate.jpg and print it out full size (a scale has been placed on each jpg to help with printing at the correct proportions).

2. Cut out the template for Envelopetemplate.jpg and trace the outside envelope on a piece of paper and cut out the envelope.
3. Repeat step 2 using Envelopetemplate.jpg but cutting out the greyed “Inside Flap Decoration” area. This piece will be added to the inside flap of the envelope to give it some pizzazz.
4. Glue the inside flap piece to the larger envelope, placing it centered in the flap and body area (look at the original template to see approx. placement).
5. Lightly mark fold lines with a pencil and using a bonefolder or the wrong side of a butter knife, score the FOLD lines.* Fold the envelope.

* Scoring a piece adds a notch to the paper that makes it easier to fold. Place the ruler on the fold line and take the bonefolder and run it along the length of the fold. If you do not have a bone folder you can use the back side (the un-serrated edge) of a butter knife. Do not press too hard, you do not want to rip or tear the paper.

6. Using Envelopetemplate.jpg as a guide, glue the flaps on the back of the envelope.

Written by Kolleen of Design by Night

Holiday Heap is today!

See you there!!! Information here.

Friday, December 3, 2010

39th Annual Greenbelt Festival of the Lights

This Saturday and Sunday don't forget to come out and see some of the talented ladies of BEST at the Greenbelt Community Center for the 39th Annual Greenbelt Festival of the Lights!! This event draws a crowd and even the snow last year didn't stop it from going on!!

You can see:

Anapurna Fantasy Jewelry and Accessories




Yummy & Company

The live music and shopping runs from 10a-5p on Saturday and 11a-4p on Sunday and is located at the Greenbelt Community Center, 15 Crescent Road, Greenbelt, MD 20770.

written by Lauren of JerseyGirlDesign -

Friday Finds: Let it Snow

Winter is here and this is when I am ready for a little bit of snow. Even after last year's record blizzards, I still would like to see some snow. Until then, here are some items to get you in the mood for snow.

The Mini Stars of Today Stained Glass by beadedglass

Mini Snowflake Wooden Ornament Set (5) by TimberGreenWoods
Snowflake Necklace in Sliver and Resin by DestinysCreations

Snowflake Wedding/Shower Soap Favor by enchantingsoapfavors

Tarty Tartan, a Collection of 5 cards by BEST's own SugarPaperie

Written by LindasPaperie

Thursday, December 2, 2010

My Three Things

I always collect bags of zippers from the thrift store and wonder what in the world I'm going to do with them someday. These folks have come up with some great ideas. These "made from zipper items" all use "upcycled" zippers! Not only are they beautiful to look at but they are repurposed! Clever!
Zipper Flower Brooch by CreatedbyLee
Zipper Bag by elizabethwren
Zipper On Canvas No. 3 by amaliaversaci
Written by: Kacey of Found Studios