Posts tagged Art

Homemade Christmas Gifts


With the economy as bad as it is, everyone is looking for ways to save on cash. While you will probably still have to do some Christmas shopping (and we encourage you to shop handmade when you do!), not all your presents have to put in a dent in your wallet. Below you’ll find a short list of easy and fun holiday gift projects you can create without leaving the comfort of your own home.

* Cook Something up in the Kitchen!

If you feel most comfortable in the kitchen, you might ponder baking a festive holiday dish for your friends and family. Christmas candies and treats are always well received, whether they’re tasty stocking stuffers or just a little something sweet to munch on while gathered around the tree. Try cooking up peppermint bark or cookies and giving them to family members, friends, or co-workers. You’ll be surprised how far one batch of cookies will go! Or if baking isn’t your area of expertise, you might try packaging ingredients in colorful jars and distributing them as gifts!

* Dazzle with Photos and Experiences!

For the more visually inspired crafters, consider putting together a family photo album or cook book. These make for a special kind of present, since they contain shared experiences and memories. You can also try putting together a scrapbook, highlighting a recent trip or occasion you shared with loved ones.

*Get Your Holiday Craftiness Going!

Tree decorations make for a great Christmas gift, plus they can be a lot of fun to make! You can put together ornaments out of old craft supplies or items you have laying around the house like beads, buttons, fabric, salt dough, even old light bulbs! Have some fun and make different decorations for everyone, maybe even matching them to that person’s personality. Or if you’re feeling especially artistic, craft ornaments that look like the gift receiver!

*Light Their Fire with a traditional Handmade Gift!

If you enjoy working with your hands, you might want to try making festive candles as gifts this season. If you haven’t made candles by hand before, purchase an inexpensive kit from your neighborhood craft store. Kits usually render a bunch of candles, so just a coupe kits can easily make enough candle gifts for everyone! Add embellishments to your presents to make them festive and unique. Mold your candle into a fun shape, paint on holiday patterns, or mix crushed flowers into your wax before letting it cool.

I hope this list helps, have a safe and merry holiday and remember to always shop handmade to support local artisans!




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Buy Handmade this Black Friday!

online-shopping1For some individuals, going out Christmas shopping on Black Friday is a tradition. On the day after Turkey Day, they wake at first light, cruise to the nearest shopping mall, and do their best to complete as much Christmas shopping as possible! But for some people, Black Friday is an irritating nonsense, a hurried distasteful occasion for holiday shopping, if one can survive the mob of demanding and angry customers.

But there is a solution for these shoppers this Black Friday. There’s no need to rush to the shopping mall and fight off fellow customers—you can stay at home. This year, make the decision to do your holiday shopping in your PJs and bathrobe by shopping online.

With online shopping, you as a customer receive access to a wider variety of mechanize than you would find at any shopping mall. You also get the prospect of buying handmade gifts this holiday from online crafters.

With the global financial situation getting more and more bleak all the time, most shoppers are just not interested in supporting artists as much as they are in saving a few bucks. But in this bad economy, it is more important than ever before to shop handmade.

Shopping handmade is especially important for fellow craft sellers. When you sell your handmade goods online, your business is supported by buyers choosing to shop based on quality and uniqueness rather than cost alone. So why not help out fellow craft artisans this holiday season by buying handmade yourself Avoid the mess of Black Friday and buy handmade this weekend!



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Five Tips to Going Green this November


1. Do your food shopping at your local farmers market, rather than a chain store. These grown holiday fixings are generally better for you, and you support local farmers with your purchase. Also consider getting a free-range turkey this holiday, as these birds haven’t been raised in cages.

2. When it may be customary on Thanksgiving for everyone to stuff their faces and feast in celebration, most families make too much food. While some holiday leftovers are still tasty weeks after the event, many side dishes and fixings wind up stuffed at the back of the frig collecting mold. This year, don’t make so much food. Prepare plenty for your family and guests, but hold back from the standard 3 serving per guest .

3. Why spend time and money buying new fall decorations when you can easily craft your own at home? There are countless fall art projects on the internet, many of which can be done with the help of your friends and family. Instead of shopping for fall wraths and center pieces, spend some time at home with loved ones making new decorations.

4. Take means to downsize the garbage your household generates this holiday. It’s as easy as choosing washable plates rather than paper ones, tuber-ware rather than plastic wrap, or cloth napkins rather than paper napkins. Purchase fixings that contain the least amount of wrapping or plastic coating available (and remember to carry your own grocery bags to the store with you!). When the feasting is over, don’t just toss your scraps and leftover bits into the garbage, use them start a compost pile for your backyard.

5. There’s no need to stop with Thanksgiving, why not try to green Christmas, Hanukah, Easter, and all other holidays as well? In fact, why not use the tips offered here in your everyday life! Living a green existence is painless with the right perspective and attitude.

Keep crafting, and buy handmade this holiday season!



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Paper Beads Tutorial


What You’ll Need:

* Toothpicks


* Acrylic paints

* Petroleum jelly

*Floral Foam

* Decorative paper

*Wire or necklace string

*Damp rag

*Crafting Glue

1) Begin by cutting the decorative paper into triangular strips no more than two inches wide and 11 inches long. Each strip will become a bead, so cut as many as you want. Carefully nip off the pointy end of each piece.

2) This is the part when things start to get messy (or as I like to think of it, when the fun begins!) Using your hands and fingers, generously coat each piece of paper in crafting glue. Lay them out on a cleared surface lightly. Then use the wet rag to wipe your hands quickly clean.

3) Get out a toothpick and dip one end in the petroleum jelly. This will keep the glue from sticking to the toothpick. Beginning at the wide end of your triangular strip, tightly twist the strip around the toothpick. When finished, stick the unused tip of the toothpick in your floral foam so it can dry. Repeat for all remaining beads.

4) After all of your beads have dried, it’s time to add the finishing touches. Get out your paints and paintbrushes. Paint some fun designs to make each bead unique and special. Coat each bead with glaze so it’s shinny and professional.

5) Once the glaze and paints are dry, add your new handmade beads to a necklace or bracelet for a fun accessory!

Thanks for reading, and remember to always buy handmade!



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Some Helpful Advice for Starting Your Own Internet Arts and Crafts Business

When you run your own internet crafts business, you get all the benefits of being your own boss while profiting from a hobby you enjoy. But naturally, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. Many artisans struggle for success in their home businesses, and listed below are a few helpful tips to aid you in running a profitable internet crafts business.

Where to List Your Handmade Crafts

There are several ways you can go about selling your crafts online. The most obvious is to purchase a URL and start your own website. However, there are some not so obvious drawbacks to this plan. For one, if you have no knowledge of graphic design or website design, setting up your own site can be extremely challenging. In addition, when you start your own website, your page rank on Google is at zero, meaning it’s rather difficult for internet shoppers to find your page. Lastly, you are completely unknown to shoppers, so they have no reason to trust the quality of your products and services. Why would they buy from you, when they could just as easily buy from a major internet corporation they trust and have experience with?

An alternative to making your own site is to register as a seller on an internet trading site, such as eBay or Esty. These sites have a high page rank and offer security to buyers. However, both of these sites charge a listing fee and take a percentage of your profits, so there’s some risk involved. Many crafters who are just getting started in internet sales have a hard time selling initially, and still have to pay site fees to both of these sites regardless of if their products sell. However, there are free listing sites which allow artisans to list their handmade goods completely free of charge. With, basic members are charged no fees to list their handmade goods, and receive 100% of the profits they make selling. This is probably the most risk free option to sell your craft items online.

Pricing Your Handmade Goods

Since you’re listing your own handcrafted work, the pricing of your items is completely up to you. As one would imagine, cheaper items sell faster, but you don’t want to price your items too low—they’re your handmade crafts, after all. Think about the time you spent on that item, the cost of the materials, and how the item would look to an average internet shopper. If you’re having difficulty deciding what would be a good price, try looking at similar items listed in the marketplace by browsing other listing sites, such as ones offered above. If you’re having trouble selling your crafts, lowering the price or putting your items on sale could help.

Promoting your Craft Shop

One of the most important elements to selling online is getting your handmade goods noticed by the internet community. There’s a lot of competition in the craft marketplace, and you want your products to stand out from the rest. Get the message out there; let people know you’re selling your handmade goods. Try listing your shop URL on any other sites or blogs you might manage as well in your email signature. There are dozens of places where you can add a link to your artisan shop, all you have to do is look!

Good luck artisans, and thank you for being a part of the Buy Handmade Movement!


Check out the ArtFire Artisan Marketplace and Support local Artisans!

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A Look Inside Jay Walker’s Library

Photo: Andrew Moore, Wired Magazine

Does your craft or hobby room look anything like this? Heck, maybe it should! The photo above is from Jay Walker’s personal library, designed to encourage creativity and imagination. The internet entrepreneur’s private library contains 3,600 sq. ft and three levels of the rare and unusual, according to Wired Magazine.

Rather than simply setting aside a room in his home for the library, Walker designed the house around his library.  This is his artistic center, his inspirational haven, his imagination port. Here, one is completely surrounded by collectables and informational materials which changed the ways people think.

On one wall, you’ll find a framed napkin from 1943, on which President Franklin D. Roosevelt sketched out his plan to win World War II.  On the table is a 300 million-year-old raptor skeleton, posed next to a field tool kit from the Civil War. Across the room sits a tree-bark Indonesian guide to basic cannibalism, with a Middle Eastern stone goddess figure from 5000 BC resting on top.  And let’s not forget Sputnik, which is hanging gracefully from the ceiling.

But Walker doesn’t collect rare and valuable items just for the sake of doing so. Many of the books in his library are reprints, and many of the strange items in his library are too unusual to be worth much to other collectors. Rather, Walker prefers to collect objects that changed how people think about the world around them. His philosophy is if so many advancements can be made in human thought within our existence on this earth, then anything is possible.

Walker made his fortune by founding Walker Digital, a company which turns out ideas and patents, best known for the popular  And while a three story craft studio might be a bit out of most artisans’ budget constraints, everyone can learn a thing or two from Walker’s library. Many crafters place their art space in a tiny corner of their house, pushed away from central living areas. What does this signal about their hobby? That it is just a hobby, rather than a way of life.  While people often balance crafting in with family, work, and a social life, generally it is craft projects that take the smallest priority. Take a few tips from Walker, don’t push your interests and passions off to the side. Give them the appreciation they deserve, and take your crafts seriously!

Click here to see what some of the crafters at ArtFire are creating in their studios!

Or click here to read the full article on Jay Walker’s library.


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The Free Flow of Ideas and Research in the Scientific Community

Research on glowing jellyfish proteins can lead to new developments in cancer research and treatment. It also earned Osamu Shimomura, Roger Tsien and Martin Chalfie the Nobel Prize in chemistry. Image from the Los Angeles Times.

Important contributions to society cannot be crafted by one individual. Rather, they are a group project, developed and created by a body of hard working individuals, rather than just the few that get the credit. This is true in the art world just as it is true in the science world. And no one knows this better than Douglas Prasher.

In 1988, Prasher was at the top of chemistry research society. His work on jellyfish proteins helped secure Roger Tsien and Martin Chalfie the 2008 Nobel Prize in chemistry, according to an article posted by the Cape Cod Times. But today, Prasher makes his living driving a courtesy shuttle.

But at age 56, Prasher regrets nothing. After his grant had ran out, Prasher willing gave his research and samples to his associates Chalfie and Tsien. The men continued his work, and were offered the Nobel Prize last week with their associate Osamu Shimomura after perfecting a technique to help isolate and track cancer cells in the human body using a glowing jellyfish protein.

Although he has helped gain his friends and fellow scientists wealth and fame, Prasher was happy to help. He thinks only of the larger impact his work will have on cancer research and treatment.

This kind of selflessness is something that everyone can aspire to. Whether you’re an artisan or a scientist, a craftsman or a researcher, you can understand the importance of the free sharing of ideas for the common good.

Click here to read the whole article.

Or click here to check out my Behind the Beta Blog.


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