- Arts and Design
The Joy of Handmade
Handmade items have been gaining attention over the years as more people come to value quality, to judge businesses for their conduct, to value local production, and to care about eco-friendliness. Indeed, handmade items – while they may be more pricey – have signature benefits. Being made personally, by hand, they usually have better quality and a longer life than mass produced goods; being made by an individual, they’re also usually warrantied or guaranteed more than a mass produced item (for instance, a custom Nerf gun I bought from a local crafter comes with a lifetime guarantee – if anything breaks or wears down, he will fix or replace it for free as long as he lives); they’re personal and unique unlike the items of chain stores which are identical and made not for people but for monetary gain.
To my delight, I have had a handful of artists of various sorts volunteer to participate in a review process. Thus, from now on, once a week I shall be posting a review of a small artisan with handmade products – The Joy of Handmade article collection.
If you’re an artist interested in participating, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gypsy's Little Gems
I am thrilled to introduce an artist who happens to be a childhood acquaintance of mine – Valerie, owner of Gypsy’s Little Gems on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/GypsysLittleGems?ref=pr_faveshops
Selling primarily candles and some home décor, her shop is unique for its subtle elegance. Her candles nestle in gorgeous, intricate glasses or classy, delicate glass tea cups. With scents ranging from comforting pumpkin pecan to more adventurous scents like woodland foliage, I can personally attest her fragrances are strong, long-lasting, and distinct.
Back in August of 2015 I purchased a set of coconut caramel candles and a blue sugar scented candle. Right off the bat I was in love. They came in perfect condition, amply hugged in bubble wrap. The glasses, a transparent pea green, happen to compliment and match my home’s 70′s retro décor in the perfect way. Even better, the scent from just one candle filled my entire apartment and a candle – kept lit all day – lasted several days. As a matter of fact, I’m still burning down the last of one of the larger coconut caramel ones.
I happen to be a candle addict, so I can perfectly explain the advantages of these candles despite their price. For one, she uses antique and handmade china for the containers – not cheap; but these make the best accents and can be used in any fashion. I use my old containers to put new candles in and use one as a vase. The tea cups, logically, can be cleaned and used as just that. Secondly, most candles have a scent which is mild – you can’t smell it unless you get close and the smell may fade over time. These, however, certainly don’t suffer that problem and yet the small is just what it’s supposed to be – not overwhelming or overpowering.
Another benefit of Gypsy’s Little Gems – Valerie is glad to discuss scents and their layers with customers before purchase, ensuring you pick the perfect scent for you.
Overall, I am still glad to this day with my purchase and can’t wait to buy another set!
Gypsy’s Little Gems is definitely worth the look, especially for fellow candle fanatics.
Candles from Gypsy's Little Gems
The Joy of Handmade: Early Bird Letters
Who doesn't love personalized décor? Something unique to you, a piece which feels like a piece of yourself?
Early Bird Letters, run by Jeni Early, is just the place. Specializing in original handmade letters for decoration, her store is full of character and variety. The striped coffee 'C' with its bold coloring, the Home Sweet Home 'H' containing bright design and floral pop, and the gardening 'G' looking as ready for the outdoors as a spade - all of her pieces speak of individual passion, of the care and thought of an artist.
Just as cute are her bookmarks - classy, smooth cord adorned with beads and inspirational trinkets. They look like they're quite fit for their purpose, as if they're longing to be bought, longing to nestle into the worn pages of a book they know should be their home.
Recently, I was lucky enough to receive one such letter from the Canadian artist. Deciding to challenge her visionary skills, I told her the colors I like and some general big interests of mine rather than requesting a specific letter or specific subject.
Upon its arrival, I couldn't have been more pleased. As they say, she nailed it.
Well put together, sturdy, it fit my favorite colors (retro colors) as well as honored my favorite subject of study - robotics. What blew me away the most, however, was the effort she put into finding the perfect words to ordain the letter. She spent time researching robotics to land on the notable Freddy - one of the first robots to be given vision and versatility, both tremendous breakthroughs in their time
Now hanging above the space where I work on my writing (current project, a science fiction on robotics), it's a perfect reminder of robotics' history, its promising future, and how influential humanity is upon the matter.
Thus, I can personally attest that Early Bird Letters is serious about personalization and customer satisfaction. Jeni makes her pieces speak, hold sentiment. And they are worth every penny.
Check out her Etsy store and get your own: https://www.etsy.com/shop/EarlyBirdLetters?ref=pr_faveshops
Freddy Robot 'R'
The Joy of Handmade: Olivia Morgana
Lotions and body oils, hair conditioners and perfumes, are aplenty - lining store shelves, made by hundreds of individuals all over the world. Finding these items made with quality in both their intended purpose and proper scent, however, is much harder.
Enter Laura Blanck, owner of the Olivia Morgana shop on Etsy.
With a tremendous list of available scents, her products pack quite a punch with their clear, long lasting, aromas. They not only smell exactly as they should, but are arguably better than many of the perfumes they mimic.
Even more, the ingredients in her sprays are gentle and extremely moisturizing, quite literally leaving one feeling like silk whether used on skin, hair, or both.
I found these after spending my entire adult life looking for lotion which could handle my dry skin for more than a couple hours and would help my mother's eczema. While I've found some that come close, only Olivia Morgana's lotions do the job. Whereas before my legs would be dried out and peeling two hours after using lotion and/or oil, I use these lotions after a shower and don't need to moisturize again until I shower again.
Because the formulas are so rich, the bottles which may seem small last quite a while. One bottle lasts me about a month.
Olivia Morgana also gives customers the useful option of buying bulk - buying 3, 4, or a combination of 5 products at a time at a deal price.
This store is one of my favorite finds with superior products. Check it out and give them a try!
Olivia Morgana's Body and Hair Moisturizing Mist Spray
What type of items do you tend to buy handmade?
The Joy of Handmade: Pop Organic
Tired of the same old candy options at mainstream stores?
Especially with rising concerns about GMOs, the amounts of sugar pumped into most candies, and the artificialness of some ingredients, handmade candy makers are becoming more in demand by the moment.
One of the best of these candy artisans is a little known shop called Pop Organic.
Making lollypops, caramels, barks, specialized sugar cubes, and unique pop-rock-style candies, they have a nice flavor selection and work with organic ingredients.
What I particularly love about this shop is the size of their goods. For instance, I ordered some of their popping rock candy for my kids' party and was delighted to see their bags contain about ten times the amount a traditional bag of Pop Rocks contains. Even better, the kids and adults alike LOVED them.
Further, large orders tend to arrive with samples of their other treats, always a bonus. The owners are always willing to discuss options, custom orders, and flavors with customers as well, ensuring you get the best treats for your tastes.
Professionally run with notably delicious creations, I have to recommend everyone give them a try at some point.
Check out their decadent options! https://www.etsy.com/shop/PopOrganic
The Joy of Handmade: Chocolat by Adam Turoni
Unlike the same old flavor selections of even the somewhat high class options of Godiva and Vosges, Adam Turoni offers unique flavors with strong pallets.
From the seriously spicy Mexican Mayan truffle to the sweet honeycomb filled chocolate, from tart raspberry in white chocolate to their creamy peach truffle, Turoni's chocolates offer a new spin to the classic selections of sweet, floral, spicy, and fruity.
Myself, I once a year (for five years now), hold a chocolate party where some friends and I order chocolate from random artisans and share. Sometimes they're from small unknown artisans, sometimes from large and well known chocolatiers, sometimes they're ordered from the usual stores. However, of all my years of chocolate trying, I'd have to rate Turoni one of the best.
It's truly hard not to eat an entire box in one sitting or to not enjoy the complex flavors in each handcrafted piece of chocolate.
Browse his selection and find out for yourself! https://www.etsy.com/shop/ChocolatbyAdamTuroni
Raspberry Chambord Truffles by Chocolat by AdamTuroni
The Joy of Handmade: Mill Creek Honey
Honey lovers everywhere lament the expensiveness and difficulty in finding quality, raw honey. It can be pricey at stores and hard to find brands with good flavor.
Mill Creek Honey is a great option for those who love quality honey in large amounts. Flavorful and natural, they offer everything from varied sizes of honey containers to pollen, beeswax, lures for bees, propolis, seeds, balms, and honey candy.
What makes me love this store? Besides the amiable friendliness of the owner, I particularly love the bulk containers of honey and their prices. What would have cost me $100 or more at a store cost me $50 and has lasted me months, even using it daily for tea for the kids and I and to make caramels for neighbors and the local homeless.
The clear, smooth flavor of this honey reminds me of Bee Raw's single source honey - a subtle wildflower, Aster-like taste.
If you're a big honey fan, you have to check out Mill Creek Honey's deals: https://www.etsy.com/shop/MillCreekHoney
Organic Really Raw Honey by Mill Creek Honey
Pricing Handmade Items
The Joy of Handmade: TPF Faerie Wear
For those with a whimsical passion for clothing, TPF is remarkable in many ways.
Their designs are unique and varied, featuring everything from animals to stars, rainbows, and original patterns. Most notable, however, is their size variation. TPF is one of the rare stores carrying everything from petite sizes to plus sizes and who is willing to do custom orders for those who don't fit into the large size selections they already have.
Featuring both men's and women's clothing, as well as unisex items, they have everything from dresses, skirts, tops, arm warmers, hats, legwarmers, necklaces, and more.
Another unique and nifty feature, they offer variety on all their pieces. Want a lower neckline, higher neckline, shorter or longer skirt? No problem! All their pieces are entirely customizable.
Their prices match the hard work that goes into each piece, but at the same time reviews prove their clothing to be long lasting and well made.
Their store can be viewed via any of these links:
Can't afford them but dying for one of their pieces? Try the TPF Faerie Wear Pre-Loved... Re-Loved group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/140759142794556/?fref=ts
2 tone Knee Length Tournedot Dress With Pixie Hem by TPF Faerie Wear
The Joy of Handmade: Elspeth McLean
Any fan of art or color must appreciate the intricate, expressive art of Elspeth McLean.
Involving thousands of seemingly impossible perfect little dots, Elspeth's work is incredibly detailed. Her art tends to focus on serene nature scenes featuring water, trees, and the and dreamy skies.
Fairly recently, Elspeth's mandala rocks grabbed the attention of thousands of social media users - generating her a rush of new customers. Due to the rush, she decided to announce when she'd release new mandala stones on a schedule - ensuring all her customers a fair chance without overwhelming herself. It's reassuring to see an artist with true talent still keep her customer's and fairness to them in mind.
Further, if original work by her is out of your price range, Elspeth offers prints of her pieces at a lower cost - making her work available for all to enjoy.
Indeed, I haven't seen such complex beauty since the work of van Gogh. As an art collector myself, I fully intend to invest in one of her original pieces, at least one mandala stone, and as many prints as I can afford. They're truly moving works of art.
Check her work out here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ElspethMcLean?ref=pr_faveshops