31 December, 2009

reliving in our eloquence, another auld lang syne...

I was one of those terrified of Y2K. I can't pinpoint my exact concerns of what would happen when the clock struck twelve, but as I was already a stressed out, overweight, overprotective mother of a two-year-old, it's fair to say I was projecting my existing fears onto the fate of the universe as a whole. But back in 1999, I had no idea that was the case. In 1999, I was just plain scared there wouldn't be a January 1, 2000. I probably could have gone out that night, but there was no way I could fathom being away from my child with such potential for doom outside the door. So home I stayed. Fortunately, I wasn't alone. My (now ex-) boyfriend was home that night, putting up with my manic apprehension, but so was Peter Jennings.

On December 31, 1999, ABC decided to air a live news marathon in honor of the millenium shift. For 24 hours they marked the new year all over the world. And Peter Jennings anchored the whole event. And I watched (and taped) it all. From about 5am my time the coverage began on a small island in the Pacific, and as each time zone turned to January 1, ABC showed the celebration a corresponding country.

My favorite was Paris. The Eiffel Tower itself turned into a fireworks display. To this day it remains one of the coolest things I've ever seen. Seriously, watch this:

As each hour passed without mass chaos, my fears were slightly alleviated. For me it's New Years when the ball drops in Times Square, not one hour later here in the Central Time Zone. When it actually did turn Midnight, the local affiliate switched from the live coverage to (then-Governor) Jesse Ventura giving a speech. To say I was angry did not begin to describe me. I felt at the time the entire experience was ruined by some half-assed attempt to be the Local News Leader. I do believe I called the station in a futile attempt to complain. Meanwhile the rest of the country got a live performance from Barbra Streisand. But I digress.

I'm bringing this up now because the idea of "the end of the decade" quite took me by surprise. As decades go, this is probably the craziest for me. My once toddler child is on the cusp of junior high. I'm a whole lot grayer, but thankfully slightly thinner. In these ten years I left a job, started a business, finished college, returned to theatre, ended a relationship, met a whole new circle of friends, developed new relationships, quit theatre again and left much of my old life behind in exchange for a lot of new. I can't say there's an old me versus a new me, because I'm still somewhat figuring that out. There's a whole lot of crossover. I'm a nostalgic person by nature, but sometimes it's to a fault. I hang onto memories that make me happy, and hang onto the things that remind me of the memories that make me happy. While well intentioned, it's not a good thing when the things take over. It’s getting so I can’t see what’s ahead of me.

So my goal for 2010 is to separate the past from the present, and hopefully find my future. Creatively I want to grow, financially I want to find some stability, and personally I want to be who I need to be to make myself and others happy. Ten years ago I was overwhelmed; concerned about the fate of the world when the clock struck Midnight. Tonight, it has to be more about what I can do starting at 12:01.

Happy New Year and tip your cab driver well. Peace out.

13 December, 2009

seasonal effects

I cannot deny that Winter brings a chill into my heart and soul. I can't handle the cold, snow or ice. Living in Minnesota between November and March, gloominess abounds for me. As a lifelong resident of this state you'd think I'd be better at this, but no. But still, it's not all awful. There are things I love about this time of year, things that I need in order to feel a part of the holidays or even society. Otherwise I'm just huddled under a blanket waiting for spring to return.

The tree branches after a sticky snowfall.

Making my great-grandma's Ginger Cookie recipe.

Watching "It's A Wonderful Life," "The Ref," "A Charlie Brown Christmas" and at least one Rankin-Bass special (preferably "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" or "The Year Without A Santa Claus").

Watching the lost ending to "It's A Wonderful Life."

Hearing "Do They Know It's Christmas?" at least once. Bonus: Watching the video.

My mom baking blueberry muffins on Christmas morning.

The crazy things my dad puts in the stockings (with Santa's approval, of course).

Listening to Barbara Budd read How the Grinch Stole Christmas on As It Happens (at about 11min 15 sec into the link).

Seeing city decorations on streetlamps.

People in scarves.

Being able to find the perfect gift for someone.

Putting up the tree and decorations.

End of year stories.

Watching the ball drop.


29 November, 2009

creative nostalgia

While home for Thanksgiving I went looking in my old room for a few things to bring back with me. What I didn't expect was to open a box and find my life circa 1990-91. I found my first pair of Chucks, which I wore into the early part of college. Size mens 3 1/2, a full size smaller than I wear now. Two pair of tights: hot pink and lime green, both worn bunches in my early 20s (and also sadly a full size smaller than I wear now). But then I also found a hat. The most ambitious one I'd ever made at that point, and probably my second or third hat ever.

First a bit of backtracking; I received my first sewing machine in 1991, an exchange at Sears for the microwave I actually was given for Christmas. Before that (and if I'm to be totally honest for a good six months after as technology scared me), everything I worked on was exclusively hand sewn. So when I started making hats, it was absolutely done with a needle and thread and a lot of craptastic stitching. When I did this one in the fall of 1990, I wanted to make something romantic without being pink. Something to wear out on the town. Well, that didn't exactly happen, though I did wear it out; the hat made its debut at a campus screening of "The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover." Yeah, I was kind of a weird girl.

Memories of social awkwardness aside, I have to admit I'm pretty fascinated by this hat. I mean, despite the fact it's a lint magnet, and that the lining looks like it was stitched by Dr Frankenstein, it's not half bad. I learned with it that buckram takes patience (which I don't completely have) and that oversized floppy hats are not necessarily a good look for me. It's fun to look at it and realized I've grown in taste and skills. Technically speaking I have greatly improved as a designer, which makes me happy. All I can do is hope to improve.

17 November, 2009

friends pimping, part 7: creative fusion

One thing that gets me really excited is the idea of artistic mediums merging with each other. Currently on stage in Minneapolis is a show that both acts as art installation and theatre experience. It's totally awesome, heavy on the AWE.

Sandbox Theatre generally creates their shows from an idea, not a script. This means those participating in the production all bring something to it, eventually creating a performance-worthy piece that is a little more three dimensional than most scripted theatre. The official term is process-driven. An ensemble-created production lends itself well to experimentation and risk-taking, and Sandbox's newest work, .faust, is no exception.

Most people are familiar with the idea of Faust, even if they haven't read the story themselves. A brilliant man who makes a pact with the Devil to open up the universe and the power it holds, with tragic results. But when coming to this production, it's best to leave any preconceived notions behind. As it is said very early in this piece, A New World Deserves A New Faust.

In the Sandbox production, Faust's personality is split into three beings, each who explore a different facet. Depending on the persona, Faust is at anytime obsessed with apothecary and healing, sex and emotion, and science and the way the world works. The three actors begin as one Faust, and the act of their division is as fascinating as everything else on stage. The costumes and set both envelop a Steampunk aesthetic, merging Nature and Industry with total ease. Considering the time of Goethe held both the Age of Enlightenment and the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution, it's as appropriate as it is unexpected. Mephistopheles himself is a visual wonder that is both captivating and intimidating.

Why do I think people should see .faust? Because this kind of storytelling doesn't happen very often. It is at any point dance, performance art, music, sculpture and theatre. Constantly moving and always interesting to watch. They only have three performances left- this Thursday, Friday and Saturday (November 19-21). You'll also have the pleasure of checking out the Red Eye Theater venue- one of the coolest black box spaces around. All the show details are at their website or their Facebook and Twitter pages. Don't miss out on something terrific. Sandbox definitely knows the importance of art to one's soul.

30 October, 2009

so long, and thanks for all the tator tots.

On Sunday, the Uptown Bar in Minneapolis closes for good. The neighborhood has changed so much since I first moved down here twenty years ago, but the Uptown has always (and long before that) been a mainstay. It's not closing due to poor business, but instead because the owner has decided to sell the property to redevelopers. Because the guy is doing it to provide financial security for his family, no one is really vilifying him, justly so. It's a noble reason, even if the nobility will result in more generic chains coming into an area that was once upon a time cooler than cool.

Was I a regular? Not in the least. Since I moved to St Paul twelve years ago I've only been a handful of times. Even when I was living in Uptown it wasn't that much of a consistent haunt compared to First Avenue. But I went quite often to see bands, usually fellows I knew. Sometimes my friends and I just went for drinks or food, which never disappointed. But mixed into the ordinary were a few extraordinary moments, footnotes in my life, moments where if I hadn't gone there, this whole thing might not have happened. It's all for the good, even if at the time some experiences were surreal or even ill-advised. It was all part of the path.

A few people far more eloquent than I have made some keen observations of the place, which for musicians and patrons alike could easily be called iconic.

Uptown Documentary

A Night at the Uptown

I am likely going to miss out on a chance to say goodbye in person, but it will be in my thoughts, as will groups like Dogshine, the Drovers, and even Dumpster Juice, all who I saw on the Uptown stage. They have a petition happening now to maintain the liquor license in case a new venue is found, but the building itself will soon be a rubbled memory, and its ghosts without a place to rest.

11 September, 2009

shameless plug: 99, 99, 99...

One of the most interesting places for art happenings around town is the Soap Factory. Located near Downtown Minneapolis just on the other side of the riverbank, it's an industrial space with the ability to convert into whatever its current exhibit needs. The floors are wood-slats and concrete. The walls are brick and gallery-friendly white. I've seen paintings, sculpture, interactive installations and performance in this space, all well done shows that might not be done in another venue. Last month, I had the fortunate pleasure to be part of a craft show held there as part of the local Handmade Nation documentary screening. In a word, the Soap Factory is supercool.

Each year they have their annual fundraiser, the $99 Sale. Nearly 300 works will be on display, each one on a 5x7 sheet of heavy paper or cardstock, and each one for sale for $99. The works are done by anyone who wants to participate, and because of the stipulation that no signatures be on the front, the sale becomes more about the art than who made it. Neat, huh?

This year I decided to throw my own pieces of paper in. I did two, one pastel and one mixed media. The 5x7 rule is less limiting than a great challenge; what can be done in such a small space? It was fun to do, and whether my pieces sell or not (though of course I hope they do), it's a great feeling to participate in a community-centric exhibit.

So check it out: Soap99.com. Tonight is the pre-sale party from 7pm-10pm, and $20 gets you in for a first look and tasty food. Tomorrow is free to the public from 9am-12pm. The art can be taken off the wall as soon as it's purchased, and while coming early guarantees more selection, there's really no down side. Every piece sold goes to an organization that continuously brings new and interesting works to the foreground. And more importantly, there's no such thing as too much art.

02 September, 2009

let me ask YOU a question

Do you have a go-to bag? What makes it so?

This is partially market research, but also for my own curiosity. While I made the purse I use everyday, I did not make the bag I consider to be my go-to tote. So while I examine what makes that one "Ol' Reliable" for me, I would like to know why your bag appeals to you. Is it the size? The material? The versatility? I'd love to learn what kind of bag you have, and why you believe it's the one. Obviously, I would like to be the maker of one's kismet carry-all. It's important that what I make is as functional as can be. But as each of us are different, getting more insight on what makes a connection would be most helpful. Leave a comment below, and I'll love you forever.


18 July, 2009

about-town happenings and the battle against apathy

I have a slight (more than slight) urge to start this post much like I did in entries in so many abandoned journals of my youth: I'm sorry it's been so long since I've written. The guilt, man. It's intense.

July has brought much crazy and little working. That needs to change toot suh-weet. I've been surrounded by cut out bags for weeks, bags that just need me to get things ironed and sewn. Yet last night I made a bag for myself in under an hour because I needed it (my everyday bag gave its last hurrah yesterday). I just need to get that motivation on a regular basis.

The next few weeks are plenty busy in the Mpls-St Paul neck of the woods. Firstly is this weekend- the Uptown Market holds its second event of the summer. Located on the Midtown Greenway in South Minneapolis, this is an up and coming market featuring original works, vintage, produce and more. All from LOCAL vendors. What's really cool about this is they are pushing the idea of small independent business growth. They state flat out that if you are part of a franchise or multi-level marketing company, they don't want you there. Personally I like the idea of being able to sell my bags without being in competition with a Coach knockoff kiosk two tents over. It's frustrating to see handmade pieces being pushed aside for sweatshop crap. So hooray to the Uptown Market for taking the definite high road!

The Uptown Market runs this Sunday, July 19th at 11-5. There will be two more this year: August 16th and September 20th. I will be one of next month's sellers, but this weekend has forty fantabulous vendors, including my friend and fellow HandmadeMN team member Julie Meyer. She is the oilcloth goddess to be sure. Don't miss out- make it part of your Sunday plans!


Also coming up in two weeks is the Minnesota Fringe Festival. So many shows, just ten days to see them. Make your own schedule on the website, but if you want to know the ones on mine so far- click below to learn more.

June of Arc

Bard Fiction


Buyer's Remorse

Horace Greeley the Lesser: On the Isle of Misfit Toys


Blue Ribbon Burlesque


One last thing to check out for area happenings is Joe's Blog. Joe Spencer is the Arts & Culture guy on St Paul Mayor Chris Coleman's staff. He gushes weekly about all the events our city has to offer, and there are plenty. Definitely a reliable source and a great guy.


Okay- back to fighting the apathy dragon while the gumption is there. Happy Weekend!

28 June, 2009

friends pimping, part 6: gym equipment for real men

Independently, Matthew Glover and Sam L Landman are actors, writers and performers in their own right. But when combining their talents, they are known as Pommelhorse. This is why you should get to know them.

In 2007, Sam and Matthew performed on stage their first playwriting effort, called Feelgood Hits of the 70s. Set in the downtown apartment of Fab and Gunner, the men talk about past loves, pop culture and random topics with equal weight and importance. It's at any time hilarious, sweet, intelligent, crude and heartbreaking, with a scripted soundtrack that includes The Doobie Brothers, Elton John and the Jackson 5. The show was well received by those who saw it, and was a particular favorite with women, who (at least this one) found it an interesting insight into the male brain. Quinton Skinner, City Pages theatre reviewer, posted a rave review, saying, "It's a pretty wide net these fellows cast, and they caught me: I laughed as much at this show as I have all year." Skinner also gave them mention in the 2007 Artists of the Year edition of the weekly, calling FGH one "of the funniest comedies in recent memory."

Two years later and Sam and Matthew are still working hard. After several video projects, new characters, and the desire to revisit Fab and Gunner, the lads are now bringing Pommelhorse to a new level. Last week they held a business launch fundraiser to help jump start their beginnings as a multimedia production company. Matthew and Sam have a prequel to Feelgood Hits underway, called I Hate Don Shelby, that they plan to self-produce, and they plan to use their talents to produce other people's work as well. They can do it- they're that good.

Here is their latest collaboration- an Warholian/Lynchian piece, also starring the lovely and talented Amber Bjork. Take a gander, and then, if you want to know more about the guys, check out Pommelhorse on Facebook. Become a fan. They even have some sweet swag. And now, without further delay, Sandwich.

Still want more Pommelhorse but don't have access to Facebook? Drop them an email.

24 June, 2009

friends pimping, part 5: losing one more chain linking old, new and local

So I'm just going to say it straight- Please find your way this weekend to REfind Vintage in St Paul. Sadly, after Sunday it will be no more.

Mellissa opened REfind last fall in a cute storefront on St Paul's East Side. It features a mix of vintage, recycled and repurposed pieces from housewares to jewelry to clothing. There was also always baked goods, made by the woman herself. It's my opinion that it wasn't given a proper chance by the shopping public. It's off the beaten path, unfortunately a little too far off for its target audience. Despite all her best efforts, she has decided to close things down for good after this weekend.

So here is the information, cribbed from REfind's Facebook page:

LAST CHANCE TO VISIT REFIND VINTAGE!!!!!!! Don’t miss out on our last hurrah! Due to many unforseen circumstances, REfind Vintage will be closing after our BIG JUNE SALE!! We have gone all out, gathering beautiful wicker furniture, potting plants, crafting glass garden totems and so much more- not to mention the lovely items our FAB ARTISTS have been bringing in! Open June 25-28, Th& Fri 12-7, Sat 10-5, Sun 11-4.

I've been very happy to be one of Mellissa's sellers, and I look forward to her next venture. But in the meantime, and before it's too late, please check out her present one. Local artists, vintage pieces, repurposed goods. And I'll bet there'll be tasty desserts, too.

MAP to REfind!

A few of my items for sale in the shop:

12 June, 2009

I sound my barbaric YART, and other bits of news.

(apologies to Uncle Walt)

You might have seen mentions the past couple days about the YART SALE on Etsy. Admittedly I was a latecomer to it as well, but it's fantastic. The Yart Sale is sponsored by the Etsy Supplies Street Team (Team ESST), who are a collective of sellers on the site whose primary purpose is to sell stuff that others use to make their stuff. It's an amazingly wide variety of items, from tools to paper to tiny flowers to bead findings. YART = Yard + Art. People across the Etsy site are offering all sorts of sales and specials. If you search for the word YART, you will come across nearly 40,000 listings in the Handmade category alone! To narrow your search, enter the word along with whatever you are looking to buy (i.e. Yart Bag, Yart Soap, etc).

My own special is this: My bags with handsewn appliques have free shipping through Sunday's sale. I have placed them all in one category, so they're easy to find:


Now, if that weren't enough, this weekend also marks my official Etsyversary! While I signed up on the site in January 06, it was a while before I actually listed. June 13th marks the three-year anniversary of my first sale on Etsy, which I think is worth celebrating! From today through Sunday, I will take 25% off the purchase price of any one item (including the Yart Sale pieces). All you need to do is write "Happy Happy" in the note to seller at checkout time, and I'll send you an adjusted invoice reflecting the discount. If you forget the code, think Ren and Stimpy. :)

Happy Happy Joy Joy


Finally, tomorrow Facebook will let people use their own names as part of their profile addresses. Fan pages, however, need 1000 followers to get such a thing. As of right now, I have 83. Soooooooo, if 917 folks were kind enough to become fans of pinswithfury, gee, I'd be awfully appreciative.

Become a Fan!


So to conclude- YART, Happy Happy, and Facebook! Three ways to start the weekend off right!

May your days and televisions be sunny, not snowy.

03 June, 2009

early influences in design- pop pop pop.

My sophomore year of high school brought to the airwaves a new series, full of inspiration but all too brief. Andy Warhol's Fifteen Minutes aired on MTV for five or six episodes in 1987, at least one posthumously, as Warhol passed away in February of that year. Full of short-attention-span vignettes, the show offered peeks into the New York City art scene that I so very much craved to be a part of. Kenny Scharf, Keith Haring, Tama Janowitz, etc. All the cool hip kids were represented, and of course the man himself. It was bright and colorful and endless amounts of exhilarating fun. Performance artists, dancers, musicians. A car painted throughout the inside and filled with toys! For years I wanted to do that with one of my cars. People wore Doc Martens and mini dresses, and talked about ART. It was awesome.

One favorite moment was from a young up and coming designer named Marc Jacobs. He was adorable with long flowing hair and showed off pieces that were whimsical and genius. I've had a crush on him ever since; that cute boy perched atop a ladder.

Fashion Show

This show was best part of a time where I was as socially awkward as they come and quite a misfit wandering the halls of my high school. When Andy Warhol died I wanted to wear black but didn't really have any (not allowed). So I went to the home-ec classroom (why did I never take a class in there?) and borrowed enough black fabric to make an armband. For that day I wore that and toted around a can of Campbell's chicken noodle soup, with "Andy Warhol 1928-1987" written on top. At the time I was internally despondent. By learning more about the world that I saw on MTV, I thought I finally found the world I was destined to join. I had the notion that Warhol was the glue that held that world together, and with him gone I figured the world would go away. It didn't of course, and even the show went on without him. So though it only lasted a few months, it was enough to have an impact on a young girl who needed to belong to something.

26 May, 2009

intentional and reckless abuse of denim

We were at the MOA on Friday, when we were unexpectedly confronted with a fashion choice neither of us had seen before. While the saggy baggy pants look is all too familiar on youth in the mall (it's that generation's equivalent of a single-strap overalls ensemble which, yes, still can be seen around these parts in the summer time), as is the skinny jeans craze, this was the first time that the hybrid of the two had been feasted upon our eyes.

Let me tell you what it looked like; one day, a seventeen year old guy puts on his twelve year old brother's jeans by mistake. He can get into them, but not over his hips. But changing takes effort when there's a social calendar to fulfill. So there he goes to the mall, waddling from store to store while in pre-teen trousers. Eh, kids.

Apparently we're getting this late. Portland was dealing with this issue long before us.

A Fashion PSA

On a related note, here is an actual news story. Skinny Jeans are EVIL!!! Okay, not really. But still, this is interesting.

Feel the Pinch

In case you are wondering I'm just bitter because I can't fit into that style, well, no. I mean, I probably can't, but I like breathing too much to try. :)

13 May, 2009

friends pimping, part 4: queue up some indie film goodness

The upside to a small independent film is it's made without dealing with studio red tape, there's more room for creativity, and there can be a community feeling surrounding the shoot. The downside to a small independent film is it can be hard to get others to see it without a lot of hard work, perseverance and word-of-mouth. Here’s an example of one of those films getting a fighting chance.

In the summer of 2008, Illegal Use of Joe Zopp premiered in Chippewa Falls, WI, where most of it had been filmed. The town went all out with a red carpet party and a full run at a local theater. Made by Wut Wut Alma Productions, Zopp is a comedic mystery (mysterious comedy?) about a young man who returns to his hometown after many years once learning everyone thinks he's dead. He is not. But that's only the start of things. Both past and new acquaintances play roles in solving this puzzle.

Zopp has been screened at several film festivals over the last nine months to much positive response (including a beyond sold-out screening April 3 at the Wisconsin Film Festival), and Wisconsin Public Television will be airing it June 6 as part of their "Director’s Cut" series. But if you can't pick up a Madison station on your rabbit ears, have no fear! Netflix is now offering Illegal Use of Joe Zopp for online rental!

Why am I plugging this film? Because it's a fun time, and I really do believe it deserves a shot with a wider audience. Also, everyone I’ve met from Wut Wut Alma is seriously as nice as they come. Good guys deserve to finish first once in a while, right? Right.

09 May, 2009

handmade goods and homegrown foods, together at last!

One of the best parts of the warm weather is the return of farmer's markets. Living in the Twin Cities we have an embarrassment of riches on this front. From May to October, it's easy to support local farmers and artists, often without having too far to travel.

Starting this weekend, the HandmadeMN team begins its season-long Saturday presence at the downtown Minneapolis Farmer's Market! Our team is represented by three different vendors each week, giving you a small opportunity to see what this talented group has to offer! The market runs from 6:30am-1:30pm near the Basilica. More information on the Market can be found HERE. Please come by our tent and say hello!

05 May, 2009

a tutorial of awesome

Sunday, May 3, there was a Virtual Lab on Etsy about Craft Shows, held from the Summit of Awesome in DC. I learned about it via a Twitter post from Etsy admin DanielleXO just as it was beginning, so there was no time to pass it on! I took diligent notes for 45 minutes until an accidental sweep of my computer’s touchpad cleared my typing and then saved the blank page. Heartbroken! But I will try to do my best to pass on what I learned.

The bulk of the meeting was about display. I’m just going to bullet point for simplicity’s sake.

1. Create a theme, whether it’s within your work or in your display. Work with colors, textures, patterns, etc. They do this within their product, but that doesn’t work for everyone. They gave Orla Kiely’s work as a strong example of this.

2. Make your display unique, but don’t let it distract customers or overpower your product. Give yourself a look that sets you apart, something that gives you enough of a signature that people may recognize your shop even before the product is on the table. Don’t be afraid of vertical display. Most craft show tables are below eye level. By building upward, you can draw one’s eye up to a more comfortable level. When it comes to displaying your product, the conventional wisdom is to display evenly. But if you have some products more densely concentrated in one section of your table, it could be a way to showcase the products you are most excited about. They also mentioned breaking their rule of height, noting that bins placed on the ground can indicate “SALE” to customers. They’ll likely consider what items in the bins to be bargains, no matter what the prices are.

3. Establish brand identity. This can be large or small, and is usually terribly overlooked. From signage to pricetags to business cards (or as they called them, “calling cards”), you want people to know your name and how to reach you after a show is complete. It doesn’t hurt to waterproof your signage, if possible.

4. When building the actual display, it’s a good rule of thumb to make sure it fits in your vehicle. One tip was to bring your items in containers that can be used as show display. Just bring fabric to cover. Use Craigslist, Home Depot, Target, etc as easy sources for display. If you are travelling to a show out of town, consider items you can easily pick up and discard in the town. It doesn’t always have to be a table; find alternate ways to set up your shop. Be flexible. You may not get the space you are promised; a 10’ x 10’ space isn’t necessarily so. Make your display sturdy. Keep in mind the elements. One other tip is bring height to your table itself. Their suggestion was pvc-pipe leg extensions. Something effective but safe from collapse.

5. Find influences all over. Look at the way stores display their wares. Big boxes to boutiques. Bakeries and small markets. Produce vendors. How do they display their items? What makes what they do unique from another business? What draws your eye? Don’t just limit your ideas to retail outlets. Think science, art, museums, design. Draw elements from anywhere, things that can make the most of the shopping experience. They gave a great tip- give your craft show space a point of view. One example they gave was a farmers market booth where the fruit was laid out in wicker baskets, giving a nice design element to an otherwise typical business.

6. Set up your show at home. See what works and what doesn’t. Take pictures, and bring those images with you to a show. It will also help you manage the set-up time a bit better if you’ve practiced. Also take pictures at the start of the show. If it’s a two day show, take a look at the images and see what you’d do differently next time. It’s okay to change your display around from Day 1 to Day 2. Keep images of your booth on file.

7. Put a kit together of necessities, one that is full of supplies only for shows and not used elsewhere. Tape, scissors, safety pins, clothespins, pens, extra paper, sharpies, first aid, etc etc. Make a list, check it off, and pack it.

Here are a couple sites they gave as examples. The first two are the people who were presenting at this lab (thanks to DanielleXO at Etsy for the shop links).

Something's Hiding In Here

Rebound Designs

Something's Hiding In Here flickr images


Rare Device

Orla Kiely

It really was a very informative session. I know I don’t have all their points, as the lab ran about 90 minutes, but I know I got their strongest ones. I hope this can help people as we head into a busy summer!

04 May, 2009

comment dit-on "eye candy" en français?

As visually stimulating (and all around awesome) films go, Amelie can't be topped. I've been in love with Amelie since Day 1. It's rich and vivid and I can't get enough of it. People always note Audrey Tautou in the film, but there's another soul who deserves kudos (and while Mathieu Kassovitz is dreamy as all getout, that's not who I mean). The magic of Amelie is the collaboration between Tautou and the director, Jean-Pierre Jeunet. His eye is not one to be trifled with. While I've never seen City of Lost Children (I should make sure that's in the queue), I have seen A Very Long Engagement, which was shot not long after Amelie. I don't bandy this word about lightly, but the best way I can describe Engagement is as exquisite. It's beautiful and tragic and makes sepia tones lovely. As it's weightier and less whimsical than Amelie, it isn't the type of film one might want to watch over and over. I'd love a second viewing, though, and if you've never seen it, I'd recommend it highly.

Their next joint effort is not on the big screen, but the very small and portable one. It's a commercial of sorts. Audrey Tautou is the new face of Chanel No 5, and Jeunet has made a short film for the perfume. His paintbrush is in top form for the ad, with rich colors, sets and props, all surrounding his muse. She is playing Coco Chanel in an upcoming film, which I am quite excited to see. As girl-crushes go, Audrey Tautou is a pretty darn good one, but when painted by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, she is especially lovely, as is the world surrounding her. Here is the link to the film, with special thanks to @elle_com for posting about it on Twitter. Enjoy!

Chanel a la Jeunet

*Edit 5-5-09. I wrote this yesterday, not realizing Chanel was going to saturate the interwebs with the campaign. So maybe it's not so undiscovered after all. Whatever; it's still really neat.

27 April, 2009

bigger. stronger. faster. webbier.

Not unlike a department store's overnight transformation from Halloween to Christmas, the website formerly (and well, currently) known as pinswithfury.com was magically reborn at tea time today.

Lookity Look Look!

This change has been in the making for a while, and the webpage, like much in my life, suffered from extreme overthought. Fortunately, my dearest friend Matthew, the id to my ego, knew what to do. Scale back.

Have you read Matthew's blog yet? You totally should.

I'm really thrilled with the results. While there may be a bit of tinkering to do in the links themselves, it really does represent the image I want to convey. Color obsession isn't just a job for me; it's a way of life. Tell me what you think of the site- I'd love to hear!

24 April, 2009

the season of productivity

I'm getting this down on cyber paper for all to see and hold me accountable.

May 1-31, I will make one bag a day. Thirty-one bags before June. Yep.

I don't have to create a bag daily, I just need to finish one. It's a good chance to complete existing projects as well as take on new ones. I'd like to add to the challenge that I can only use existing fabric and can't buy any more, but let's be honest; that's not going to happen. I can tell myself I'm going in just for thread, but I can't promise that restraint. I'll try, though, to primarily use materials from my current arsenal. That I will pledge.

My plan, is when the final stitch is complete on each item, to photograph it and post that image online. Why May? Why not? Plus it's my birthday month, and getting that much closer to 40 makes me want to feel a bit more accomplished. I can try, anyway. By making something new each day I will not only prep for my next show on June 6, but I'll clear out some of the fabric taking over my home and hopefully find several new homes for finished products. So there you go.

Giving the world a week's notice: Prepare for extreme baggage. Wait, that didn't come out quite right...

17 April, 2009


Dear Alexander Henry-

I’ve been trying to work up the nerve to tell you this for a while, but now I think I can.

I love you.

For years, I’ve had the feeling that you and I were soulmates. I’d walk into a fabric store, feel magnetically drawn to one colorful print or another, and when I read your name on the bolt, I’m never surprised. It’s like you know me, know my giddiness over a fabulous design, and then try to make more to keep that excitement fresh. Let me tell you, it’s worked. Oh my how it’s worked. The money I’ve spent over the years on fabric I didn’t have a project for but HAD TO OWN, the desire to hold on tight to a new piece, not wishing to let it go, simply because of how my heart pitter patters at the sight. It has gotten to a point where you not only make things that make me happy, but you anticipate my happiness. While it’s only been over the last decade I’ve been conscious of your existence, I have no doubt many of my 90s era textile adrenaline rushes were your doing as well, I didn’t know you then, but I think you were there, hiding in plain sight.

How long have we been meant to be? To quote a favorite movie, "since always." My absolutely favorite Christmas gift I was given this year was a set of vintage curtains that I had seen at a local antique store. Pucci-esque in pattern with bright vivid colors, it was love at first sight. It wasn’t until they were mine at last that I saw the unexpected yet destined name printed on the selvage. Alexander Henry. It was you, in vintage form, all along.

Will my declaration mean the magic goes away? I think not. When one meets their soulmate, it’s for keeps. You don't have to say anything; I just wanted you to know.

With love, affection, and a lifetime of fabric purchases ahead,


10 April, 2009

friends pimping, part 4: state your name and state it loud!

The Minnesota Street Team on Etsy is going through a bit of rebirth. We are now HandmadeMN! The team blog has been updated, with more focus and posts. Follow us on Twitter as well for new team member listings and updates!




I have to say in complete unfettered honesty, we are truly a rocking group. HandmadeMN members cover all areas: glass, jewelry, clothing, accessories, household goods, plush creatures, photography, soaps, vintage and supplies, just to name a few. The diversity of skills and interests is definitely our strength. In the coming weeks you'll see our members at Craftstravaganza, the St Paul Art Crawl, and the Minneapolis Downtown Farmers Market. Come check out our multi-talented team on Etsy, online, and in person!

07 April, 2009

hit me! heart me! hit me again!

After two months now of using Google Analytics, and just general watching of the virtual trickle of traffic into my shop, I'm realizing my self-promotion skills are sorely lacking. Why is it some people have 300 hits in a day on one item when I have 40 in three months? I'm not whining; I'm genuinely trying to figure this out.

Here is an example. I listed an item today about four hours ago. I did a search for two words in the title: butterfly, tote. The two matching items before mine (also listed today) had 120+ hits, same with the two after. Me? FOUR. Count on one hand and you'll still have the pinky left over.

Now, I am very comfortable with the quality of my product. I am not so, however, with the quality of my marketing. This is an area I have long felt needed to change, and I think there is no time like the present to do exactly that. I am hoping in the near future to make a clean sweep and re-photo everything in my shop. And of course, listing more and more often couldn't hurt.

As one who is painfully shy in many social situations, the idea of standing under a spotlight is a bit quease-inducing. But I do believe what I make is good. And obviously I need to work harder at letting people know about it. Starting today. Starting NOW.

Hi. My name is Jodi. I make awesome accessories, as seen HERE.


30 March, 2009

etsy in the news

Mo Rocca did a story for CBS Sunday Morning about the handmade clothing movement, which happily features Etsy.com. Check it out!

22 March, 2009

the design soup is sadly thinner.

When I was in 7th grade or so, I had a project of some sort that involved me needing images from magazines. This is over a decade before the interweb, children; we didn't have Google. For this project, my great-grandmother gave me a huge stack of her House & Garden issues. It was immediate love at first sight.

House & Garden was a huge departure of class from the People and 16 magazines I was used to reading. It was such a visual magazine, full of pristine livingrooms, colorful rose gardens, and the ads. Oh my, the ADS! I had carefully torn those advertisements out and placed them all over my room. My favorites were the Clinique ones. Always an impactful closeup of a product with a stark white backdrop. All the photography in House & Garden showed an entirely new world for me. I craved the New York life, you see. There was no doubt in my young mind I was flipping through publications I would have one day in my artist studio space in lower Manhattan. Years later I feel guilty for having deconstructed those issues, cutting out photos and words that represented a life I wanted to pursue as a grownup.

When I actually did start living on my own, and very much not in a Soho loft, I would still buy H&G. At one point I even had a subscription. The magazine changed, perhaps became a bit thinner in content, but I still enjoyed it. Eventually, however, I would buy it using the same parameter as a purchase of Vogue: if the cover's great, the magazine content will be good. If the cover's really less than stellar, it's usually skipable. Perhaps my shallowness and others contributed to its downfall.

For a while now I'd looked for the magazine to no avail. Only recently, however, it hit me that maybe it's not just out; perhaps it's no longer being made. Sadly it's true, and going to the H&G website pulls up this message:


Thank you for trying to visit the
House and Garden magazine website. Sadly, House and Garden magazine and www.houseandgarden.com are no longer being published. You've been redirected to us, the website of their sister publication, domino magazine. Welcome!

Like houseandgarden.com, dominomag.com is packed with inspiring photographs and clever ideas to help you decorate your home.

We hope you will grow to love both
domino the magazine and dominomag.com.

domino magazine

Domino is an offshoot of Lucky, a magazine I've been getting since its first issue eleven years ago. I've maybe missed two issues. Visually based, incredibly approachable, and domino followed that take into the home design universe. In my opinion it was a worthy heir of what H&G had become in its sunset years. Sadly, it was not to last. From dominomag.com:

dear readers
It is with very heavy hearts that we say farewell. The March 2009 issue will be our last. Over the last 4 years, in 28 issues, we have done our best to create a great magazine. We started with a real idea—that style is for everyone—and tried to carry it out with stories that provide inspiration and empower you to act on it. From your tremendous response, we know that we were onto something.


I unfortunately knew I was buying the last issue of domino when I did. Really I'm pretty bummed out about this. While there are several good design magazines out there, I feel these two are irreplaceable. While often showing opulence, H&G was never elitist. It's Hunting & Gathering section was always whimsical and fun. Domino was not only approachable, but it was practical as well. It was possible to have good design without spending a lot of money.

Have no doubt that design publications like these have had a huge, and probably larger, influence on my work than any fashion magazine. It's the use of color and the mix of styles and pattern. It's why I flock to the home section of any fabric store and drool over the sample section. Along with her ginger cookie recipe, my great-grandma unknowingly gave me a direction to channel some of my excitement of the creative universe. So to Ba, I look up at the stars and say thank you. And to the more recently departed House & Garden and domino, I say farewell.

14 March, 2009

tweeting the crafty way

I came to the conclusion that too much color on my twitter page was keeping me away from it. I didn't want to go colorless, just less busy. So I just revamped it, with a new background and colors. Less branding, more pretty. Spent an hour reading about how to use twitter to one's business advantage, ways to use webtools to follow everyone at once, etc. The whole idea of social networking incites one to create a whole new persona, or lop off a part of yourself and only display that side. I hope there are some grad students out there somewhere doing theses (thesises? sneetches?) on how one displays themselves online can affect how they behave in real life. I'd think all this encouragement to refer to ones self in the third person has got to create a complex of some kind.

What I try to do on twitter, as with this, is focus on my business endeavors, either directly or indirectly. One challenge is upkeep. Keeping up with statuses, blogs, and most importantly, keeping up with my sewing so I have something in my shop. At long last, I have at least three new items to list. More if I keep working at it this weekend.

Spring has nearly sprung around here. Time to shake off the mental mothballs and get back to colorizing via accessory!

24 February, 2009

magilla guerrilla marketing

WCCO aired a feature story tonight on the business of crafts as part of their series on dealing with the current economy. Among those interviewed were several members of the Minnesota Etsy Street Team. You can (and should) check it out here:

Craft, Minnesota Style

On a related note, in December a gentleman at MPR blogged about his thoughts on Etsy and his concern it drew business away from local merchants. Several of us quickly let him know that many many many Etsy sellers are local merchants. Don't worry, we were for the most part Minnesota Nice about it...

When Etsy Sellers Attack!

I've been trying myself to finish reading Seth Godin's books for ages now on this very subject. Free Prize Inside was quite interesting. Marketing is a huge part of business, but it doesn't need to be a costly one. It does, however, require dedication, such as um, keeping up on blogs and stuff. Yeah, I'm looking in the mirror right now.

21 January, 2009

shameless plug: déjà vu and tigger, too.

For a few months now, I've had hats for sale at REfind Vintage in St Paul. It's a cute little shop that you should definitely check out. This weekend Mellissa, the owner, is having a special event- please come and give a new local store some well deserved love. Her press release is below:

REfind Vintage
January Event!!


Join us on Friday and Saturday, January 23 & 24
for special baked goodies-
sample them all, then buy some to take home!
AND enjoy 20% savings on everything in the ‘kitchen’-
including tables and chairs, baking essentials,
lovely towels, tablecloths, aprons & more!!
EVEN THAT vintage red STOVE!!!

REfind Vintage is open Wed-Fri 12-7
and Saturday 10-4
1105 Payne Ave, St. Paul 651-776-5122
just a few blocks from the 35E/Maryland exit

Mellissa used to run a fabulous bakery just over the bridge in St Paul, so she knows baked goods.

The last time I was in REfind, she had swanky pin-up prints, old skool preschool chairs, revamped purses, and all sorts of other fun gifts. Recycled, repurposed and retro. Head to REfind this weekend!

18 January, 2009

who are your influences?

"He says his influences are Clarence Clemons and the guy from Madness."

It's always interesting for me to learn who planted the seeds that formed one's career path. For me there are a few notable people who steered me in one direction or another. My grandma was a home-ec teacher. She taught sewing and cooking at Hermantown Jr/Sr High for decades. Now admittedly, I have no real memories of her doing either. Once off the clock, she didn't do a whole lot of it. Once retired, she happily gave it up completely. What I remember best of all was her linen closet. On the floor of the closet was a box of fabric. Nothing fancy, but scraps galore. It was heaven for me. Absolute joy whenever I got to go in there. She still gives me fabric when she finds some. Over the last few years she's given me some amazing pieces of vintage Irish wool, which I've tried to do justice once I actually got up the nerve to cut into them.

Example A
Example B

On my dad's side, my grandpa was probably the person who I most resemble. Not so much physically, but a distinct personality trait. My grandfather collected hats. He easily had hundreds displayed in nearly every room of the house. He had a few favorites that he'd wear, but for the most part they were on pegs for viewing pleasure. I have always been a hat person. Always. I can't imagine getting that from anyone but him. I was just starting to make my own hats the year he died, in 1990. To the funeral luncheon after, I wore my newest hat. Navy wool with a wide buckram brim and big honking roses in the same fabric. All handsewn. God it was awful. I really didn't have much in the way of skills then. But I couldn't think of any better way to honor him than wear a hat to his funeral.

More immediate, my dad paints and draws. He draws on scratch paper cartoons with almost a Lockhorns look to them. He's also a great mimic. He had big pieces of wood in our basement once upon a time, filled with Disney characters he had painted with oil. They were thrown out decades ago, unfortunately. I was too young to beg my parents to hang onto them, or to realize I should. My mom worked with clay when in school, and embroidery when I was younger. When I was about ten she made our Christmas stockings, the ones still used today. She also made at least half of the ornaments on their tree. Styrofoam balls with a quilt effect, gingerbread men donned in ricrac and pompoms. All handsewn. More patience than I would have, that's for certain.

There are more artists in my family, then and now. My great-grandfather was a published poet. My great-uncle was a painter. My uncle has of late become a formidable woodcarver. My dad's cousin painted in her youth, and her use of a palette knife instead of a brush definitely interested me even though the painting itself always inexplicably disturbed me.

You know, part of the reason I started to post was to list a very different influence. He planted a seed my 11 year old self didn't harvest till much later.

Mr Roarke.

Okay, bear with me. So there's this episode of Fantasy Island where a woman (Helen Reddy, if memory serves), under some influence, tries to sabotage her own fashion show. When an assistant asks her what fabric her design should be made with, she says, "How about satin- [insert evil grin here]and burlap." During the fashion show itself a model comes down the runway in a cream satin gown and a short turquoise burlap jacket. And it's a big hit. That moment has stayed with me for nearly 30 years. Perhaps it's a factor in how I choose fabric combinations now. I'd be hard-pressed to say it wasn't. I've thought about it a lot recently, but with Ricardo Montalban's passing I feel it's time to actually reveal the truth: Fantasy Island is partially responsible for who I am today.

03 January, 2009

it's a new banner new year!

In anticipation of my soon to be revamped webpage, I have started up the 2009 sprucing up with a few small changes. The first to change is my banner. I used the program Photoimpression 4 on it initially. It was a cheap version of PhotoShop that came with my computer, but I loved it. We got each other. Then my hard drive died and when the computer was fixed, my beloved PhotoImpression was unable to be saved from the wreckage. I tried working with Picture Manager, and though we get along well, it isn't the same. My business cards have not printed evenly since. I do have PhotoShop and Gimp now, but they're too detailed. I missed my simple but well stocked PI.

Last month a new camera came into our home with (gasp!) a CD of PhotoImpression 6. I was so excited and loaded it right away. Sadly it's not the PI I knew and loved. It's like your down-to-earth creative best friend going abroad and coming back like a less creative occasional ass. You know, it's still your friend, and you'll hang out and stuff, but they aren't nearly as much fun and that connection isn't there anymore. In addition, I can't use the new version to print my cards, because it won't print the right size anymore. Obviously I am still adjusting. But I digress.

PI6 did help me take the same background picture I used with the initial banner (and the one above) and make it work in a whole new way. It's softer, brighter, and superduper colorful. All good things in my book. But I'll let you decide- what do you think? I'd love to know.



I also listed six new bags this week. You can find those on my Etsy page. The new webpage will be up and running soon- the most all around creative person I know is working his magic to make it as fun as can be.

Happy 2009!