Craft Inspiration: Paper Mache

IMG_1833As a student of both Journalism and Graphic Design, magazines are my cup of tea. I devour all of the articles, and I am always intrigued by print design. Unfortunately, some smaller magazines have fallen victim to the advent of digital production, and even some of my favorite magazine stands have closed. But there are a few that have stuck around, and of course…as a mom….my life is full of baby magazines right now.

But, then there lies that problem after you’re done reading them…what to do? You can’t just toss them. Totally not good for the environment, and what if you need to refer back to them in the future? So you keep them around. And they stack up and stack up. And soon enough, your entire room is surrounded by stacks of magazines. Oh, is that just me?

My love for crafting has made this a simple fix. It’s time for some paper mache, y’all! I’m working on a project for a future article, and I thought I would share some inspiration for the project. I have a lot of ideas running around my head, and since this is something that will stick around my house – I want to make sure I love it and it will make sense.

Photo from Stars for Streetlights

Photo from Stars for Streetlights

I am not a fan of taxidermy. I think it’s sort of neat in photos, but when I come face to face with a buck staring at me through it’s dead eyes, I can’t hang (no pun intended). But paper mache taxidermy – that’s something I can get down with! The full tutorial along with photos can be found at Stars for Streetlights.

Photo from Lil Blue Boo

Photo from Lil Blue Boo

For this project, Ashley from Lil Blue Boo did not use any template, she just crumbled up newspaper into balls and shaped it to make the unicorn. Obviously, there was more involved, but that’s how she got the basic form. It took her about four hours to complete it, and the unicorn had to dry overnight. Ashley hung it up in her daughter’s playroom, and I’m thinking Cecilia’s room would be quite fancy with one.

Photo from A Little Artsy

Photo from A Little Artsy

Let’s say you want to paint your animal head, which I think I would do. Isabel, who runs Bel & Beau contributed this tutorial to A Little Artsy. She used an animal mask from a craft store as a guide for her animal head, and then hung it up in her son’s room.

Since there are a lot of babies who will be gracing our lives with their presence in the next couple months, I think this would be the perfect gift for a nursery. I’m definitely making one for Cecilia’s room, just need to figure out what animal to make after we get her room all figured out.

Do you have any fun paper mache tutorials to share, or did you make an animal head with one of these tutorials? Share the link in the comments and on Facebook, Instagram, Google + and Twitter! Find more animal mache inspiration on Pinterest!

Meet the Maker: Jess Van Den from Epheriell

meet the maker

Photo from Jess Van Den

Photo from Jess Van Den

Meet Jess Van Den, 32, from Sunshine Coast Hinterland, Queensland, Australia, who runs her own handmade jewelry line, Epheriell, and also founded Create & Thrive, an excellent resource for creative business owners. Create & Thrive has become a huge part of my research and reading for both my blog and my creative business projects I’m working on, and I’m so privileged to share her story with you.

Jess has not only one Bachelors degree, but three of them – in Science, Arts and Education. Before she decided to turn her love of jewelry making into a full-time career, she worked as a traveling Science communicator for the Queensland Museum and her last position was a Manager at a Math and English tutoring center for two years.

She got into making jewelry in 2008 and started out buying components at Spotlight (the Michaels of Australia) and stringing pieces together.

“I didn’t really have any skills, but I slowly learnt more and more – and after taking a weekend silversmithing class, my course was set!”

At first, Jess was simply selling jewelry because she had so much of it scattered around and thought “maybe I can sell some.”  Her decision to make it a career was accidental, and might just be one of the best stories I’ve heard to date. She and her husband got married in 2009 and wanted to travel around Australia in a camper for a year.

“We converted an empty courier van into a camper over summer, but I had a huge saga of dental problems at the same time that prevented us from leaving. I had no job, so I just threw myself into the biz… and, well, the rest is history as they say. We never did get to go on that trip… but we will, one day!

Beautiful earrings from the Earring of the Month club. Photo from Jess Van Den

Beautiful earrings from the Earring of the Month club. Photo from Jess Van Den

Her decision to name her jewelry line Epheriell was easy and simple, as it was an online alias she used for many years. She says it’s the mash-up of “ephemeral” and “ethereal,” meaning “lasting for a very short time” and “extremely delicate and light in a way that seems too perfect for this world,” respectively.

A “greenie” from the way back, Jess ran a now-defunct blog called Sustainable Suburbia before starting her jewelry line, so its only natural (no pun intended) that she is dedicated to finding recycled sources for her jewelry. She struggled to find sources at first, but finally found a 100% recycled silver.

“I was keen to find a recycled source. All my sheet and wire is now 100% recycled. I’d love to find a source of recycled sterling silver chain, too, but that hasn’t happened yet.”

Photo from Jess Van Den

Photo from Jess Van Den

Like many small business owners, Jess loves the freedom that comes with running her own business, but does admit that she does panic a little when business slows down a little, which fortunately does not happen to her too much anymore.

“Enough years have taught me that things always pick up again!”

After running her jewelry business for a few years, Jess decided to start Create & Thrive as a source of practical advice from people who thrived (again, no pun) in their handmade businesses. She wanted to get writers that were a part of the handmade business community and she will actually be welcoming six new writers in 2014!

Photo from Jess Van Den

Photo from Jess Van Den

“There is a lot of advice and info out there written by coaches, consultants, and marketers… but not so much written by people actually walking the talk of running a handmade business day-to-day.”

Jess and her husband, Nick, work in two rooms in a converted barn (she really is a greenie!) and her studio takes up the wall of one room. She has a desk with her computer and another desk for all of her jewelry work. She also has a soldering and buffing station outside.

She recently took a digitial sabbatical for a few days, which she credits for improving her workflow and she wrote about all the changes she is making here. She says that her routines, calendars and schedules ensure that she stays on top of everything, and even though it may not all go smoothly, she is usually able to get everything done.

Yup, that's an old barn. Crazy, eh? Photo from Jess Van Den. Credit: Paul Harris

Yup, that’s an old barn. Crazy, eh? Photo from Jess Van Den. Credit: Paul Harris

“I also have a fabulous Assistant Editor for C&T – Megan Eckman – and I don’t know what I’d do without her.”

Jess names jewelry designer Megan Auman and Business Strategist and writer Tara Gentile among her many mentors, but she can’t pinpoint where her inspiration comes from. She says that sometimes an idea will pop up fully formed in her head.

“Other times I’ll sit down with my sketchbook and deliberately doodle until I come up with something I want to turn into reality. My morning walk is always a good idea-generator, too.”

When Jess is not busy creating beautiful jewelry and motivating small business owners with Create & Thrive, she loves to read and is currently on her third Kindle. She’s mostly drawn to the indie fantasy/paranormal romance genre and science fiction, her first love. An amateur triathlete, she also runs, swims or cycles almost every day.

Her new bike! Photo from Jess Van Den

Her new bike! Photo from Jess Van Den

Photo from Jess Van Den

Photo from Jess Van Den

She and Nick also love going hiking, and traveled through all of the National Parks down the US West Coast this year. They have traveled all over the world, and Jess takes a little something from each place she has visited.

“There have been so many amazing places – each one with something unique. I loved snorkeling off the islands in Fiji; taking a helicopter ride over the Great Barrier Reef at sunset; walking the streets of Paris and New York; hiking amongst the Redwoods in California; swimming in Crater Lake in Oregon; playing in the snow in Whistler, Canada… and the list could go on. The world is endlessly beautiful and I only wish I could see all of it before I die.”

Jess says that anyone who hopes to venture into the world of silversmithing should simply “just start playing.” She recommends taking an in-person course (something you might be able to find on Skillshare) and she also recommends checking out Flourish & Thrive for the business aspect, as she says they are focused on helping jewelers grow their businesses.

Nested Necklace. Photo from Jess Van Den

Nested Necklace. Photo from Jess Van Den

Looking into the future, Jess hopes to grow Create & Thrive and to reach more people with the same mindset she has now – to give them practical information and advice to make their handmade businesses a success. When asked what she liked the most about the handmade community, she said “the warmth and support.”

“People are part of our community because they have a passion for what they do, which I love.”

She wants people to realize that they don’t have to stick with the same day job day in and day out, if it’s not something they love and enjoy doing.

If they have a passion or an idea that they want to turn into a business, they owe it to themselves to give it a red-hot go. After all, what’s the worst that can happen? You fail and keep doing that job. But if you make it work, you get the satisfaction of waking up every day knowing you’re doing something you love, following your own path. No-one’s going to do it for you – it’s up to you. If you want it, go for it!”

Entwined Oxidised Urban Eco Earrings. Photo from Jess Van Den

Entwined Oxidised Urban Eco Earrings. Photo from Jess Van Den

Find about more about Jess and her beautiful jewelry by visiting her at both Epheriell and Create & Thrive. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. My Meet the Maker series appears every other Wednesday and you can find out more about these lovelies by visiting me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. I would love to keep this going as long as I can, so if you know of anyone who would be a good fit, let me know!

Fridays are for Favorites

fridays are for favorites

As hard as it may be to swallow, I have accepted that my little baby girl, who I swore I just gave birth to last month, is going to be one in less than two months. It has also recently occurred to me that a birthday party is probably in order. And I would be the one to plan it. I’m still getting used to this whole parenting thing. We have decided to hold it at a bowling alley, since it’s not like she can do a whole lot right now anyways. That, and bowling is a lot of fun.

Since this will officially be the first time I plan a child’s birthday, I thought I would share my experience with you. And maybe even get some advice. First thing is first: we need invitations. Sticking to the homemade theme, I have found some lovely invitations on Etsy and wanted to share them. Keep in mind…these can be used for anything, not just first birthdays.

Image belongs to bee's KNEES design shop

Image belongs to bee’s KNEES design shop

Circus themed birthday invites from bee’s KNEES design shop – I was already planning on going with a “life’s a circus” theme, since I feel like my life is literally a circus. So this invitation would be perfect! This shop is owned by Misty Chaote, who designs everything by hand. No clip art is used, and she emails you the digital version within 24-48 hours of receiving payment.

Image belongs to Longfellow Designs

Image belongs to Longfellow Designs

Baby firsts birthday invitation from Longfellow Designs – I like the chalkboard look to this (of course) and I also like that it lists all the baby firsts. Although, I fear that it will just say “I like to eat paper and destroy the house” on there. This shop is owned by Lisa Longfellow, who is a graphic designer and painter, and makes everything by hand.

Image belongs to oodles and doodles

Image belongs to oodles and doodles

Polka Dots Owl Girl’s Birthday Party Package from oodles and doodles – After going to the party store for my friend’s daughter’s first birthday (you know who you are, friend), the idea of purchasing a party package and not having to frantically search Party Crazyland or whatever it’s called for decorations that may or may not match sounds pretty amazing. I know that I could probably make all of her decorations at home, but as a student, mom and business owner, I would rather support someone else who is running their own business…and can do all that for me. And Cecilia’s baby shower theme was owls, so this would be a good fit. This shop is owned by Bridget, who started it after she had trouble finding what she wanted for her son’s first birthday. Good idea, Bridget. Good idea.

Image belongs to Pink Dahlia Paper

Image belongs to Pink Dahlia Paper

Girl birthday invitation from Pink Dahlia Paper – I love how simple and clean this design is. And I love cupcakes. Everything in this shop is made by hand, and it’s all made to order. You will get your first proof within 48 hours and there are some additional charges for design changes.

So which one was your favorite? I still haven’t decided. Please keep small and handmade shops in mind when planning a party, or anything else, for that matter. The market is so open that you could literally find something for any event. The price is not really that different, it’s made just for you, and you don’t have to write the same information on every single card. But most of all, you are supporting someone and their business. You get to know the person you are purchasing from, and you know that your money is going to someone’s family, not to some large corporation.

Do you have an awesome print shop in mind that specializes in birthday invitations like this? Please let me know! You can post in the comments and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #handmadebirthday. Find more first birthday inspiration on my Pinterest!

Fridays are for Favorites

fridays are for favorites

I just got into baking last year when I was entering my “nesting” phase (which hasn’t left yet, so I think it’s more than a phase now, it’s an eternal state of being). It quickly became an addiction for me, and I find myself at more baking and cooking stores than clothing stores, now. Sometimes, I don’t even go in there to buy anything, I just love to look. I especially love going to the Baker’s Boutique in Stockton, they serve you cupcakes that are made in the back!

Since I love baking so much now, I also happen to love anything that goes with baking. I’ve seen some cute baking inspired clothing and prints all over Pinterest and Etsy, and I wanted to share some of my favorites with you.

Image belongs to KatchACanvas

Image belongs to KatchACanvas

Culinary Inspired Canvas Tote from KatchACanvas – When we first had Cecilia, we had what I’m pretty sure was the world’s largest diaper bag. Then we downsized to a large backpack (not much of a downsize, to be honest). Now, I normally just carry a couple diapers, some wipes and her formula in my purse. Since she is getting more into her toys and loves having them with her, I’m thinking this tote would be perfect. And the best part – the shop is run by preschool teachers from the Philippines. France, one of the owners, lives in San Diego now and continues teaching in America. They donate one book to a needy child in Philippines for every tote that is purchased. This one goes for $12, which is not bad at all.

Image belongs to Caustic Threads

Image belongs to Caustic Threads

Ladies Kitchen Mixer T-Shirt from Caustic Threads – Erica Voges, the wonderful lady behind this shop, drew up the design herself and then screen printed it on the shirt. She makes every item as the order comes in, so it’s made fresh, just for you. Voges is a mama in New Mexico, who wanted to screen print for a long time, and finally got started in 2010. The shirts are all dyed by her and she screen prints everything by hand.

Image belongs to Eat Say Love

Image belongs to Eat Say Love

Pyrex art print from eat.say.love. – Ashley, who is the owner and designer at eat.say.love, is a graphic designer in Boston, MA. She individually prints each print on archival paper and ships them off herself. There are a lot of other cute prints like this in her shop, such as “Fork It, Let’s Get Takeout,” a conversation that has been shared many times in this house. And if you follow her on Instagram under @eatsaylove, you can get exclusive deals and giveaways!

Image belongs to Pretty Things For You

Image belongs to Pretty Things For You

Baking is Happiness Large Digital Vintage Image from Pretty Things For You – This Etsy shop is full of digital vintage images that can be purchased for a really good price. This print is only $2 and is available for immediate download. You can use the images on all of your crafting projects. The image can be sold as a finished project, or if it was digitally layered and flattened. It cannot, however, be sold as is. That’s just not cool.

Image belongs to Little Ink

Image belongs to Little Ink

Made with Love Wooden Stamp from Little Ink – Suzie, who runs this online store, mixes her love of natural fibers and material with her love of bold colors to come up with her designs. This stamp is $30 and measures 32mm x 25 mm. It’s mounted with a beautiful black wooden handle and also comes in a cloth pouch. You can use this design for all of your homemade goodies, and any clothing you make by hand. That would be so cute!

One of my favorite things about blogging is finding hidden treasures like these. I want each and every one of these items, and will work on purchasing all of them when I can. Like I’ve said before, I promise to never share anything with you that I wouldn’t get for myself. Do you know of any cute baking-related items? Share them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #favoritefridays. Follow me on Pinterest for more of my favorites!