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Artist Hands Series: Wendy and Mojo

Here are the hands from a mother and a father artist. These hands not only create beautiful handmade children’s toys and wares for your home, they also do lots of hard work!

Wendy and Mojo, of BirchLeaf Designs, live in a cabin off the grid, where they homeschool their two children, collect firewood, dig in the dirt, and haul water. In these particular photos, Mojo is working on the bandsaw, paying close attention to the lines of a playclip. Playclips are such fun! Use them for just about anything, but they are especially great for fort building or hanging blankets in windows in the winter.


Wendy is outside dying a small batch of red playsilks and although youcannot see her hands, you can rest at night knowing that hands are not red! A basket of playsilks is one of Wendy’s favorite toys, as the creative possibilities are limitless.

Please visit their lovely Etsy shop at
to see what their hands have made.

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Long Mountain Art Interview and Giveaway

This week’s member giveaway is coming from Brittaini, who runs the Etsy shop Long Mountain Art.

Hi there I am Brittaini from Long Mountain Art.  I currently live in Columbus, Ohio with my boyfriend Aaron and our son Santiago who is 7 and our daughter Adelina who is 15 months.  I grew up in Farmington, Michigan and when I graduated high school I attended Capital University here in Columbus with an Art Education degree.  I just started my 9th year of teaching high school art for Columbus City Schools.  My desire to be an artist has always kind of been my driving force.

I have always been a creator for as long as I can remember.  I am very lucky to be a part of a family of creative people with multiple Aunts, Uncles and some Grandparents having unique talents. I love creating with my hands and dabble in a bit too many mediums.  I had started my independent career by making and selling pottery and jewelry but that felt like too much of my soul to be selling away.  I needed to find a medium that I could not only make money at but that I felt represented me philosophically as well.

I have always been into natural living and knew that is how I wanted to raise my children.  When I was pregnant with my son, I did everything as natural as possible including not finding out the sex which created some problems when trying to prepare for him.  There was such a lack of gender neutral clothing and I felt like I was left out…like the commercialism of gender identity in the marketplace was more important than my feelings of wanting that big surprise moment.  It became worse when my son was born.  We are tatooed and pierced parents…boring trucks and played out dinos were way too boring for us!  My son was the inspiration for my clothing line; he is the reason I was able to focus on this medium and try to make something more out of it.  To create clothing that is interesting and different while being good to the earth and feeling absolutely luxurious against the skin. Its so interesting how for so many years I couldn’t focus on one material.  I was pretty good at a lot of stuff but not a master at anything.  Having children helped me to shift and consolidate my thoughts into one force although I by no means am a supermama.  Working full time during the school year and trying to run a business part time while running a household and trying to follow as much attachment parenting as I can is hard work…but all worth it.

Today Brittaini is giving away the above zebra shirt, in the winner’s choice of size. It is available in onesie, toddler or youth shirt.

Here’s how to enter;
Visit Long Mountain Art and leave us a comment letting us know what your favorite item in her shop is.

For additional entries;

(leave a separate comment for each entry, if you don’t, they count as one)

Tweet this (include @NK_Store in your tweet

Share on Facebook

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Follow the NaturalKids blog


Giveaway is open wordwide.

We will choose a winner randomly on October 29, 2011. (Please, make sure we have a way to contact you!)

Julie Hunter is a single mama raising 3 spirited girls, two babydoll sheep, angora rabbits and a gaggle of chickens and ducks in the North Carolina Foothills. She spends her days at home, crafting with her children, homeschooling, taking long gathering walks in the woods and knitting Waldorf-inspired toys. You can find her blogging and keeping shop at This Cosy Life.

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Artist Hands Series: Intro Etsy Artists’ Hands

Hands of the Artist

I wonder what Picasso’s hands looked like. Have you seen the  famous picture of him with bread loaves instead of hands? Now I wish it was a picture of his real hands in the process of creating.  How about a picture of Vincent VanGogh’s paws?  Do you know about Frida Kahlo?  She is my favorite female painter. I am sure all of these artists had amazing hands. Strong, good hands. The pieces they created were certainly stunning, and their beauty will remain with us for as long as we can see them in museums.

My hands are not famous. The things they create are not in a museum. Still, they do important things all day, and I thought they deserved a post. So I wrote about them on my blog for Mother’s Day. 

In the next couple of months I want to show you the hands of my Etsy NaturalKids team friends. I’ll start with my hands for today. But challenge all crafting moms and dads on my Etsy team to send me a picture of their hands at work. Maybe write a story little or send me poem to go with your picture. Tell us what your hands were busy making at the moment when that snapshot was taken.

My hands in this picture are making a Waldorf style dollhead. Each doll starts in this humble way. Just a few fibers and my hands gently rolling them into a round ball. I love the soft warm feel of the wool. What’s your favorite material to work with?  It’s so amazing what we can make with our hands.

Show me your hands! Looking at a person’s hands you can learn a lot about them. The hands tell a story of their own…



Ulla Seckler  is a dollmaker who was born and raised in Germany. She lives in beautiful Colorado with her husband and two kids. You can find her Notes by a German Dollmaker on her blog where she shares some great German recipes, pictures of her sweet dolls, and life lessons learned.  Don’t forget to stop by her Etsyshop and take a peek at her wonderful doll creations.


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Interview with Driaa

This week we take a close up look at Driaa in our talk with owner and creator Dria.

Tell us about you!
Hi! My name is Dria. I am a mother of three girls. I live with my husband in a small vegetarian village in the hills of the Galilee, in Israel, where I grew up. My parents and siblings live here too, with their children. I come from a family of crafty people, and we have a small shop together – a whole wheat bakery and vegetarian café (my mother and one of my brothers are bakers) with a small handcrafts Gallery. I sell my dolls and my other brother sells his wooden toys. My father grows the vegetable garden for the bakery and Café and my sister makes sure everything is working properly. My third brother is a stone restoration expert with the Antiquities Authority.

Tell us about your business!
I am a doll maker (I consider plush animals to be dolls, too). I sew all kinds of dolls, trying out new techniques and drafting new patterns all the time. Some of my dolls are Waldorf style dolls, but I also make other types. I sew other things as well, like bags and hats and also knit and crochet.

What do you make and how long have you been creating?
I have been creating since I was a child, crocheting clothes for my dolls since I was six years old. I have been making dolls professionally for seven years.

Where do you find inspiration?
I have three main sources of inspiration:
Nature – recently have been making dolls inspired by beautiful wild flowers. (I haven’t managed to find time to make them all yet, so some of them are still only ideas in my head..)
Fabric – sometimes a piece of fabric will spark a whole new idea for a doll.
Children – many of my designs were first made for a specific child, mostly my nieces and nephews.

Oh, custom orders are a great source of inspiration, too!

What got you started in your craft?
One day, after many years of not creating at all and only studying (life sciences and history of science, if you must know), I found a teddy bear making book in the bargain area of a bookstore. Seeing a new creature come to life from my sewing was thrilling! (Of course I changed the pattern even on my first teddy and gave him my own interpretation.) That was just before my first nephews and nieces were born, and when they appeared into my life I started knitting and sewing for them.

What’s your favorite thing you have ever made?
My favorite thing right now is my new design for a Bee and a Flower that can be opened and closed. I’m very proud of it!

How long have you been on Etsy and how has it been for you so far?
I’ve been on Etsy almost a year and a half. It’s been great! But I still have a long way to go before my Etsy shop is what I want it to be.

What advice do you have for other Etsy artisans?
Find a good team!

What do you hope to gain or contribute to the Natural Kids group?
I joined this team because I think this team has some of the best artisans and crafters on Etsy! I think that as a group we mark the stamp of quality, earth conscious and imaginative toys and items for kids. So I hope to contribute my efforts to the group and together we can get much further.

What thoughts do you have for parents on the importance of natural toys for creative play?
Children that receive mass produced toys these days don’t expect them to last very long. They know from experience that most of their toys will end up in the trash – some of them on the same day they get them. Besides the pollution created by the short lives of these toys, I think it’s sad that children have such low expectations from their belongings. Carefully crafted natural toys that are made lovingly by an artisan can be something that chaperons a child into adulthood. I still have toys that were mine as a child, and they have a deep meaning for me – as a body that holds a piece of my childhood.

Find Driaa at:


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Artist Studio Feature – German Dolls

German Dolls “Studio” Tour, a member of the Etsy, Natural Kids Team
My “studio” space is located in the entryway to our house. The word studio sounds too grand really. My little happy sewing space is barely 7×10 feet. Part of that space is taken up by a large old radiator.
The location of my creative space is a good and a bad thing. The good part is, that it forces me to keep things more orderly, since this is the room people look at first when they come to our house. The bad thing, of course, is that I must always put things away and can’t leave a big mess. But you’d be amazed to see what one can do with such a small space!

For the longest time I played with the idea of building a table over the radiator. I don’t know why, but it appears, that the family gets tired of my things spilling over into the dining room/family work table. I don’t understand why finding tape stuck to a book or page of homework is such a big deal…Do you?
Luckily last year my husband’s crafty woodworker uncle came and helped me ameliorate that stressful situation. I am so thankful I could realize my idea of having a side table. Together we built a new table off to the left side from my sewing table/desk. This space that was once wasted since I could not put any shelving or a table there, now serves as shipping and, cutting table. I also use it for taking photos of my dolls and doll clothes.
In one corner of the table I keep an antique Pepsi crate which I found at a flea market. The crate holds note cards, business cards, tape, and lots of small odds and ends that I need all the time…Note the gnome sitting behind the roll of tape in my tape dispenser. He is the guardian of my tape to remind the children that they have their own tape…What used to be wasted space has become a wonderful work space!

The dear uncle also built me a handy dandy storage shelf for some of my materials and shipping supplies. It is located above the side table and held in place by the window frames and some extra supports through L-brackets.
Unfortunately, there is not enough room for all of my fabric. The fabric I use for doll clothes is spread all over the house in various bins and dresser drawers. Sometimes it can take me a while to remember where I put a particular piece of cloth I am looking for…I wish I could keep everything in one room. But then again it’s good exercise walking up and down the stairs to get your materials together…

Be sure to visit Ulla’s shop, German Dolls.
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Friday Feature with Rumpos

Tell us little about yourself!
My name is Mary Ann Hudson. I have been married for over 10 years to a nerd with horn-rimmed glasses and have a funny red-haired little boy named Gus. I have an MFA in poetry and am in school to be a pediatric nurse practitioner. I live for when the mail comes and for stolen time where I can read for pleasure.

What do you make and how long have you been creating?

I make playscapes from a variety of natural materials–wool, linen, cotton, and vintage. The construction is similar to quilts–except with 3D elements. I also make quilts, bags, and housewares (for a “grown-ups” shop, and lots of the stuff we need at home (clothes , housewares, and utility items). We’re the original “make do and mend” family and are highly resistant to buying anything new when we can thrift or make it. I also make poetry, which is necessary to life. I’ve been writing since I could, and I’ve been sewing for a few years (but have always had my hands in some kind of making).

What inspires you?
Nature, and how people and, especially, kids use things.

What got you started working with playscapes?
A friend’s magical daughter got me into playscape making. This little girl has the biggest imagination and sense of narrative play than anyone I’ve ever met (including some famous writers). She and her beautiful family are very inspiring, and my first playscape was created for her and in honor of her ideas for it. I think all the best things start with wanted to do something rad for someone you love.

How long have you been on Etsy and how has it been for you so far?
I became a buyer in early summer 2007, looking for a handmade amber teething necklace for my son, and made my first sale shortly after I opened in February of 2009–so I’m not even a year-old business yet. As a buyer, etsy is the most accessible way possible to get my hands on handmade for gifts and living I can think of–it’s that accessibility that has added a real stone to the foundation of this wonderful handmade movement we’re all a part of. We all part of a long human history of making and the commerce of it, but after mega-industry took over the commercial world and somehow convinced us to adapt disposable lifestyles, making became relegated to county craft fairs and something your great aunt did instead of something you thought to do first before you ran to the closest big box store. Etsy creates ordinary accessibility to both extraordinary and everyday things. Fine art and reusable paper towels are all in the same place for anyone with an internet connection. It’s something big that allows an individual to stay small enough to run an ethical, thoughtful, and sustainable business. I opened on etsy, in part, so I could participate in what it’s trying to do. I’ve met some truly remarkable people, been able to grow a satisfying micro-business, stay busy and creative, and have the kind of freedom to be exactly the kind of business I could never be in a brick and mortar, or even in a stand-alone web business. I can barter and trade, change up my inventory at will, price fairly, and source my materials with other micro-businesses.

What advice would you have for other Etsians?

Be patient with organic business growth. I started with a single, well-thought out listing because I didn’t have any other stock to photograph. When it sold, I had two sets of photographs and so another listing–and so on. Word of mouth (or word of blog) really does work, and often much better, than paid advertising, so treat every customer like they have the ability to communicate with 1,000 other eager buyers. Do only what you love, and would love to do for those who you love. Pay attention to what your people want–I realized, after creating a set of ready-to-ship stock that was slow selling (and so now, very much on sale in the shop), that what my customers really liked about what I offered was that it was so custom and could be created for them at a personal level.
That said, I did open a sister shop of housewares and bags that is all ready stock–but I did it to have fun and from a place and theme very dear to me. That experience is starting slow too, but it doesn’t matter because the process has been so rewarding for me. I know that I have kindred spirits out there and they will find my shop in time. It really does have to be fun or you’ll start thinking like a cigar-smoking, suit-y, business stiff. I don’t think they have fun when they raze farmland, cripple local businesses, and build big box stores.

What do you hope to learn/gain/contribute from being part of the Natural Kids group?
Some of the most loving and creative mentors I’ve ever had are business people in this co-op. I learn something everyday from the forums; I have changed inefficient business practices based on personal communications with partners in the co-op; I have
improved my skills and products based on inspiration I have received looking at partners’ products and trading and buying from partners; and I have, overall, become more professional and focused due to my membership in this group. I think it’s important that like-minded people with similar values in the world of commerce support and network with each other–it’s a kind of personal-level strength. I am always ahead of the curve in terms of practical considerations like labeling, sourcing, and documenting. My membership is utterly invaluable. More, the imaginative, kid-friendly, mama-positive vibe is perfect energy for creating.

What thoughts do you have for parents on the importance of natural toys for creative play?
Putting on my pediatrics hat, remember that when *you* think that a toy must be boring because it is gently colored with “only” the colors that come from nature, that children see a wider and much brighter spectrum of colors than adults. When you’re confused by a toy that doesn’t seem to *do* anything and doesn’t have a place to stick a battery in, understand that children’s sensory system is indescribably more sensitive than your own and that the grain of sanded bees-wax rubbed wood, and fuzz of felted trees, and the enigmatic face of a simple doll is incomprehensibly stimulating to the hands and face and mind of a child, who, after all, hasn’t been here so long and never expected to have to encounter and process hard, stinky plastic that makes loud noises with crazy light shows for no conceivable reason.

We don’t give children the credit and respect they deserve–their narrative understanding is deeply rich when given the barest of tools (a knitted donkey, a wooden boat), and has a greater reign when unconfined by pre-designed, corporate characters and specific uses for play. Natural toys have both breadth and depth–a well-made doll that feels good and warm in the hands is a companion, a co-pilot, a character to work out personal dramas, and a pillow. Honestly, kids don’t really *need* toys when they have daily access to loving people and the outdoors, but toys can be an important tool as they play their way through the lessons that they need to grow. The best tools, we know, are well-made and no more complicated than needed for the job at hand. Toys are not magic, children are magic. Toys are not the source for entertainment and learning, we are, people are. The best toys celebrate the normal, everyday magic of children and are easy tools for play between people. And you know, kids are totally impressed by handmade, love to see and touch things they know someone has made themselves, and are encouraged to make things, too.

Your items can be found where:
“grown-ups” :

Interview by Beccijo of The Enchanted Cupboard