My Top 10 Favorite Shops On Etsy

I love Etsy. Though I myself have found far more success selling my own art on ebay, I do a lot of buying from Etsy ;). Around the holidays and birthdays, I try to get a lot of my gifts from places like Etsy or Ten Thousand Villages, or any local handmade shops because handmade items are always going to be unique, made well, and your purchase will actually brighten someone’s day and be an encouragement to the actual artist behind the product. Without further ado, here are my personal 10 favorite Etsy shops.

Nuptse

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This shop features beautiful, detailed bead-work all handmade in Kathmandu, Nepal as a way for the women there to be able to support themselves and make an income. This handmade business has also recently made an alliance with Hoste Hainse, a non-profit that focuses on women empowerment and sound working conditions for women, as well as education and daycare for their children.

PixieColdArt

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This shop offers super affordable prints of gorgeous artwork in the artist’s bold, colorful, high contrast style. These often surreal female and animal portraits are captivating, and definitely represent my personal favorite style of art.

SparkleBeastDesign

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Can you tell I like bright colors yet? The jewelry found at Sparkle Beast is like an elementary school art room closet collided with another closet full of “night at the opera” evening wear. I mean that in the best way possible. It’s like an upscale version of let’s-play-dress-up, and it is amazing.

nashpop

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Again with the bright colors, this shop takes old chipped, damaged, or otherwise hideous figures from secondhand stores and spray paints them in brilliant colors to turn them into fun, modern, pop art decorations. I am the proud owner of one of the most epic nativity scenes I’ve ever seen, shown above, and it is my favorite Christmas decoration I own.

CrimsonEtClover

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Crimson Et Clover is the wonderful inventor of the modern marvel called “bEARwarmers”, which I am rocking in the above picture. I’m a big fan of how they keep your head warm without messing up your hair. Also, the whole bear ears part.

MarisolSpoon

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This artist’s paintings just make me happy when I look at them, simple as that. She incorporates a lot of nature and vintage-style imagery into her pieces, which are two things I cannot get enough of.

berkleyillustration

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And the same to you, Sir Cheetah with an eye patch. Berkley illustration is one of the most fun shops around. Their personified animals aren’t just hilarious, but so detailed, realistic, and well done. I own the above bottle opener myself, because who would pass up the opportunity to toast with a swift jungle cat?

ohgoshcindy

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This shops features spot-on watercolor illustrations of pop culture icons, coupled with their well-known quotes and catch phrases – a dream for any tv or movie lover.

CartBeforeTheHorse

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This shop’s contemporary folk art has such a distinctive and unique style, I’d recognize it anywhere. I think it’s the faces that first drew me in. The designs are whimsical and fun without looking childish, and incorporate a vintage touch.

JooSweetie

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Look! She even has a hair bow. What could be better?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This shop styles lovely jewelry pieces around the artist’s adorable hand-painted faces. I raved about her artistry in an earlier post, and as of right now own one of her pieces (notice I said as of right now 🙂 … more to come!).

There you have it. It was unbelievably hard to narrow my list down to just 10. If you want to see more of my favorites and collections, you can follow me on Etsy. If any readers out there have Etsy shops of your own, feel free to leave a link in the comments and I will check it out! I am always looking for more shops to peruse.

Happy “Inspire Your Heart With Art” Day!

Happy “Inspire Your Heart With Art” Day everyone! As I’ve told you before, I love holidays – I mean really love them. There is always that slight letdown after the marathon of nonnstop holiday excitement from Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas to New Years … Who knew there was this fun little holiday to tide us over until Valentine’s Day and Easter? I cannot believe I just learned of its existence this year … !

What a perfect opportunity to send some inspiration out into the world through sharing what my students have worked on throughout the beginning third of my first full semester as program coordinator for Express Yourself Artshop at Creative 360. My students pretty much feel like family members at this point, and I know I mention them a lot. But, for those new to the blog, Express Yourself Artshop is an inclusive arts and wellness program open to all students, including those with physical, mental, and psychological challenges.

I’ve worked with the program as an instructor since it was first established, and I am blown away by seeing how each student has grown since we first met a little over 2 years ago. Without further ado …

A snapshot of our amazing watercolor class! Everyone has such different styles and interests, so it is fun to see what each student comes up with.

Next, the gallery of Heather D.! I call this student and friend my “artistic soulmate” because we share a love of fashion, big eyed girls, and everything retro and vintage inspired.

Our classes are not all about art for your walls. Tons of cool functional and awesome looking wares are being created in our Woodshop class this semester as well. I love this log cabin inspired bird house, I think because it reminds me so much of childhood Lincoln Logs!

It is so much fun to be able to decorate your home with handmade pieces that are unique, and that no one else will have. You don’t have to be what people think of as a traditional “artist” to do it. The top two pieces, by Colleen D. and Amber E., are canvases wrapped in fabric with a cutout from an art print collaged overtop. The wreath below can be created easy and stress free with any medium sized to large craft punch, a wreath form, a free afternoon, and a lot of hot glue sticks handy.

Proud smiles!

Creating, whether your goal is to become a world famous artist or just to calm your mind and relieve some stress, is a HUGE confidence booster. It is also an important tool of communication and self expression, speaking from experience myself. I challenge all of you to try to make at least one thing today, even if it is just a doodle. Happy inspiration!

 

 

New Job + Adventures In Upcycling

Many of you who have read my blog before have probably heard me talk about Express Yourself Artshop, an art and wellness program open for adult students of varying abilities, especially those with disabilities. Artshop is one of the programs I have taught with since its beginning a little over 2 years ago. Our Program Coordinator moved out of town last month, and being that Artshop has always been my favorite out of all the programs I teach with, I applied for the position. This week it is official, from now on I will be with Artshop full time. I have a lot of ideas, a ton of brilliant people helping me, and I cannot wait to see how the program grows and evolves. I dare you to watch the video below and be in a bad mood.

Life is funny, and I never ended up actually working “officially” in the field that I went to college for, but am now doing something I never would have imagined. I’m not one for cliches but the old saying “Knowledge is never wasted” certainly rings true, and I see my interior design background creeping in in little ways throughout my current work. In my new DIY Decor class this semester, I’ve been exploring creating classy, elegant and beautiful decorations for the home using cheap, everyday materials. My students and I have combined my two loves; stylish and artistic decor, and recycling, or up-cycling in this case (basically never wasting anything). They have blown me away with their fantastic vision and their own unique style that they bring to the projects. There is a lot going on, and I’m excited to share more with you in the coming weeks and months.

Coasters by Lori : Wood Samples (It pays to have a boyfriend who works at a furniture store ;)) covered in book pages and magazine cutouts accented in metallic acrylic. Felt is applied to the bottom to prevent scratching. Sealed with mod podge aka my lifeblood.

Coasters by Lori : Wood Samples (It pays to have a boyfriend who works at a furniture store ;)) covered in book pages and magazine cutouts, accented in metallic acrylic. Felt is applied to the bottom to prevent scratching. Sealed with mod podge aka my lifeblood.

Salt and Pepper Shakers by Amber : Empty glass spice jars with holes punched in the lids. The tops are painted with enamel and the jars are wrapped with fabric and ribbon accent, sealed, again, with mod podge.

Salt and Pepper Shakers by Amber : Empty glass spice jars with holes punched in the lids. The tops are painted with enamel and the jars are wrapped with fabric and a ribbon accent, sealed, again, with mod podge.

Abstract Wall Art by Lori : Modern art using Sharpie pens and cutouts from transparent file folders

Abstract Wall Art by Lori : Modern art using Sharpie pens and cutouts from transparent file folders

Decorative Terrarium by Colleen : It's amazing what you can do with some fake plants , ribbon, and raffia.

Decorative Terrarium by Colleen : It’s amazing what you can do with an olive jar, some fake plants , ribbon, and raffia.

Decorative Terrarium by Michelle : All you need is an empty salsa jar, some fabric flowers on stems, ribbon to wrap around the lid base, and a little bit of creativity.

Decorative Terrarium by Michelle : All you need is an empty salsa jar, some fabric flowers on stems, ribbon to wrap around the lid base, and a little bit of creativity.

I’m Not The Only One Who’s Been Busy This Summer …

The summer flew by, and while I think this summer for me has been the most productive yet as far as art making, I am not the only one who has been hard at work. My Express Yourself Artshop students really applied themselves creatively, and pumped out a lot of amazing art over this past semester. Hard to believe what one can accomplish in only 6 weeks! I’ve shared some of the highlights here.

Grace, Watercolor

Grace, Watercolor

Nancy, Ink Drawing

Nancy, Ink Drawing

Brenda, Handmade Tote Bag

Brenda, Handmade Tote Bag

Lacey, Acrylic

Lacey, Acrylic

For those who haven’t read my blog before, Express Yourself Artshop is an art program I work with that is open to those of all abilities, and is an accepting, friendly and safe environment to artists with physical and mental disabilities. I know myself how important creating can be as a tool for expressing what you feel like you can’t with words, and how it has the ability to calm the mind and soul out of tumult and provide a reprieve from the stress and sometimes heavy weight of everyday life. One of my students loves owls, and so we collaborated on some trippy, colorful owls done in my go-to style for these birds (shown below). I drew in pencil, she outlined and painted. Along with an affinity for owls, we also share a love of Deco Art’s Glamour Dust craft paints – a win-win.

Look familiar? So glad to share my enthusiasm for quirky, surrealist owls!

Look familiar? So glad to share my enthusiasm for quirky, surrealist owls!

Anne Marie, Ink and Acrylic With Glamor Dust

Anne Marie, Ink and Acrylic With Glamor Dust

I love these people, and the unfamiliar environment of being in a truly judgement-free space … Everyone simply accepts and embraces each other as they are. I feel so loved in return while I am there, and it is one of the few places I don’t feel pressured to put on an act (Convenient, as I’ve never quite mastered the art of situationally adjusting my personality. For better or for worse, I just can’t seem to grasp that particular life skill.). I can’t wait for next semester. I’m going to be channeling my inner Mark Montano and doing a really cool DIY decor class, so hopefully that gets some interest. I am right on the cusp of finishing two new projects that will be going up with a selection of other pieces at Espresso Milano coffee shop in Midland in September, so I will be sharing that soon.

Montano, seriously, what a snazzy guy.

A Mixed Bag Of Epic Battles, Social Networking, and Therapeutic Craftiness

So, this update is going to be a bit all over the place. First off, I will be participating in Do-All of Bay City‘s Art Clash for the third year in a row with a new(ish) friend I met through teaching at Creative 360. Heather is a wonderful artist and keeps an art blog as well, so be sure to check her out! We had such a great time last year. It’s crazy for me to create a piece of art from scratch completely live, since I usually don’t even share idea sketches with anyone but (occasionally) my parents and boyfriend, and in progress works in my studio area are hidden when people come over to my apartment. An example, back in college I spied a friend that was over flipping through my sketchbook (Without even asking! The audacity! – other artists, you know what I’m talking about!) on the other side of the room and I took a running start and tackled him WWE style to get it back ASAP. A fun fact about me; I basically dislike all sports, but I flat out hate wrestling, and honestly find any activity whose basis centers around causing bodily harm to another human being to be fundamentally disturbing. Despite this, apparently in the right circumstances…

The vulnerability of allowing others to see your “in progress” work all the way through, even in its awkward phases, coupled with a pretty short time limit of only 3 hours makes this kind of event something I always swore I could never do. Then, in 2013 I forced myself to try it specifically because I swore I couldn’t do it, and now I am addicted. Art battles are everywhere, but the cool thing specifically about Do-All’s art battle is that 50% of the proceeds from finished pieces auctioned at the event go to Do-All, an organization that provides activities and services to people with disabilities – pretty cool! Many of the students from their Do-Art program also participate in the battle, so you’re immersed amongst all different types of people from all walks of life which makes it a really fun environment. Last year, my piece even made it into the top 10 award winners which was super exciting. I have an idea prepared for where I want to go with this year’s piece, but it cannot be revealed at this time :). I’ll post the finished product after tomorrow evening!

Transformation, 18x24 Mixed Media, Do-All of Bay City's Annual Art Clash Award Winner

Transformation, 18×24 Mixed Media, Do-All of Bay City’s 2014 Annual Art Clash Award Winner

Next bit of news, as if I don’t have enough social media accounts … (I just finally made a twitter after discovering that there is actually a ton of interesting information and inspiration bouncing around on there, and not simply “hey guys, I just made a sandwich!” which was my initial assumption. @AlliseNoble, get at me!) I recently discovered Artistically Social, and of course since it’s completely free, I couldn’t resist creating a gallery. It’s a bit bare bones right now, but I’ll be slowly adding more prints and hopefully a lot more originals for sale as well, so please check out the gallery.

I need to finish quite a few new pieces by the end of this coming summer for some solo local exhibits around town, but I had just been feeling really burnt out lately from doing so much *serious* fine art work and longed to work on some creative pursuits that were just crafty and fun. My paper dolls and stuffed creatures for sale at Imagine That, a local handmade gift shop in Midland, also got pretty cleaned out in March so I have a legitimate excuse. I’ll post photos once I get a little further on the new paper dolls, and also introduce you to some monster friends. Another “for fun” project I’ve been working on is the amazing Artist Leesy pop vinyl! I really don’t need anymore plastic toy clutter around (if you saw my apartment, you’d understand) so I’ve restrained myself from actually buying any, but I love Funko’s Pop! Vinyl characters so, so much. After Christmas, I was at the mall perusing all the after holiday discounts and I discovered they actually had DIY blank bodies. They were on clearance, and I had a Barnes and Noble gift card – score. I did buy actual books as well, not just toys, I promise. My little mini-me muse will grace my desk from this day forth.

3 of many monster friends who have found good homes

3 of many monster friends who have found good homes

So far just the paper mache hair! (Yes, my kitchen is very green)

Vinyl Pop! Leesy: So far just the paper mache hair! (Yes, my kitchen is very green)

Adding some color (complete with freckles)

Adding some color (complete with freckles)

My characteristic magical silver slippers are a go, and all painting is done - now for the details.

My characteristic magical silver slippers are a go, and all painting is done – now for the details.

Artist Leesy and her trusty resurrected brontosaurus companion, all in a day's work.

Skirt, check! Hair bow, check! Drawing utensils, check! Artist Leesy and her trusty resurrected brontosaurus companion, all in a day’s work.

Wish me luck at the Art Clash tomorrow, photos soon!

No Canvas, No Problem! – Using Unexpected Materials

I first discovered my love of corrugated cardboard when the movie “The Science of Sleep” came out. If you haven’t watched it, it’s an extremely visually fun movie and you should check it out. If you have, the various imaginary cardboard-based sets depicting the main character’s dream worlds, such as the car chase sequence or the cardboard cityscape, attracted me to corrugated cardboard’s simple, whimsical, DIY charm. I started using it for projects in college not only for the charm itself but for utilitarian reasons. After having to buy so many canvases and large pieces of illustration board for studio assignments, by the time I got around to my own personal projects I simply didn’t want to have to buy another damn thing! It was light and easy to transport for painting outdoors on nice days, and was readily available at no cost.

Cardboard also offers more easy textural options than canvases simply by layering or ripping away at its surface. Tearing away at the cardboard’s outer layer reveals the interesting ribbed texture beneath to be used as a design component. Layering torn edges automatically gives your piece an industrial, time weathered feel like the monochromatic cityscape below. Scraps can even be used to roll, crinkle, and fold 3D elements, such as the rosettes at the bottom of my fish bride piece. There is a story to this one; my roommates and I had 2 feeder goldfish we rescued from the tank at the grocery: Mr. Mustache and Mistress Bouffant. This is why I don’t have pets. Even the death of this tiny, normally dinner to bigger fish, goldfish caused distress, and I decided I needed to immortalize her. I used broken glass as bubbles due to the clear, reflective nature of the pieces. I still remember smashing bottles with a hammer on the front porch of our apartment. A neighbor asked what I was up to, to which my quick answer was, “Our fish just died.” I only realized in retrospect how that must have appeared, me furiously hammering away with that statement as my only explanation. No wonder they were never too chatty with us.

I’ve included some photos of my own experiments as well as some cardboard art by other artists as inspiration. The next time you get a package in the mail and have some extra cardboard laying around, I’d encourage you to give a project like these a try.

RIP Mistress Bouffant, Mr. Mustache will morn your absence. (A side note, the other goldfish really did have a black marking above his lip that looked exactly like a drawn on mustache.)

RIP Mistress Bouffant, Mr. Mustache will morn your absence. (A side note, the other goldfish really did have a black marking above his lip that looked exactly like a drawn on mustache.)

Painting on layered cardboard, using the texture of the corrugation as part of the design.

The flawless, traditional black and white portrait contrasts with a work surface left rough; with dents, tears, and even leftover paint smeared here and there as if the artist was cleaning off their brush.

Valery Koshlyakov – High-rise on Raushskaya Embankment (2006) – Tempera on Cardboard

Retro Barbies, acrylic on cardboard

My retro Barbies, acrylic on cardboard