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What’s New, and, Well, Natural from the Natural Kids Team on Etsy

Welcome! I continue my trek backwards through the alphabet to bring to you the most wonderful and imaginative treasures. They are all handmade with natural materials from…yes! the NaturalKids Team on Etsy! This week, we feature wonderful variety of artist from who have one thing in common – they all work with natural materials!

Chimera   is the home of wool felt toys, roving and handspun yarn, accessories for knitters and spinners. Great gifts for your fiber loving friends!  Hailing from New Jersey, Kersin says, “I’ve been playing with fiber and crafting my entire life. Wool is my favorite material because it is so versatile. With wool I can make a silky scarf, spin colorful yarn, sculpt a landscape or felt a durable rug. Adding to the fun is the ability to dye wool any colors I choose, and to add in other fibers to create something truly unique.” Here is her latest…The Secret Cave Needle Felted Playmat.
 
 BostonBeanies specializes in practical and whimsical baby hats from, well, beantown. Rebecca is of course from Boston, and in her words, “I started knitting in grad school to keep my fingers busy so I could concentrate on the lectures. My friends got sick of me giving them scarves as gifts all the time, and then they started getting married and having babies, so I started making gifts for the next generation. I love the creative outlet of designing my own hats, and as a children’s librarian, I love the connection of wearable art and picture book art. So take a look, and enjoy a bit of whimsy!” Here is her Boston Beanies Knit Lavender Blossom Hat.

Wendy, of Birchleaf Designs in Michigan, offers you whimisical, natural wood and fabric playthings and some housewares as well. Everything from silks to swords…her shop is a real treasure trove of natural goodies from a business run by a family that literally lives off the grid! Here is her newest offering…the Reusable, Replayable, Rewrappable Trio of Playsilks for Spring!  
  
Those are the featured new items for this week, from one of a kind needle felted treasures, to lovely baby hat to play silks, all from natural materials and from the hands of folks who love nature, children and open ended toys. This is just a small sample of the quality and variety our customers enjoy from the fine crafters and artists of the NaturalKids team.

Thanks for joining us this week and please do return again next Monday as we continue to feature all the wonderful members of the Naturakids team on Etsy! Til then, I invite you to browse all our wonderful shops.


Warmly,
Rebecca aka Nushkie
Nushkie on Facebook

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Friday Feature with Penguin & Fish

Tell us a bit about yourself– name, location, affiliations, personal stuff.
My name is Alyssa Thomas. I’m 29 years old and I live i
n Minneapolis, Minnesota. I share a 13th floor apartment with my wonderful husband, Jon. Besides Penguin & Fish, we own a company together called Studio Collective (studiocollective.com) where we do illustration, graphic and web design, film titles, and motion graphics. We also just finished our first children’s book, No Monster Here (nomonsterhere.com). It went to the printer last week and I can’t wait to see how it turns out. Yippee!

Please describe your creative process–how, when, materials, etc.

My creative process always starts with writing down ideas in my sketchbook right when they come. I only use one sketchbook at a time and I write everything in it – ideas, sketches, to do lists. I also put the date at the top of the page when I use it. Having everything in one book makes it really easy for me to find stuff, even if it was an idea I had a year ago. After writing down my idea, I’ll sketch it out. With my embroidery patterns, I’ll sketch out designs to a point but then I’ll bring them into Adobe Illustrator to refine them. For a plush character, after sketching I will try to make a little mock-up in paper. Once I like that mock-up I will make one in fabric, make notes where I want to refine it, then I’ll usually end up with a final piece after that.

What are your sources of inspiration?

I can get inspiration from anything, but animals (especially cats and my parent’s cat, Sammy) are a big one for me. I love that you never know quite what they’re thinking.

What handmade possession do you most cherish?

I really love this teddy bear that my husband made for me. It was his first time using a sewing machine and the bear turned out super wonky and the stitches are all crazy. But it was so sweet of him to make it. In the image of my studio space, it is the white bear with the pink “A” on the top of the shelf.

Name your top five books, movies, songs/musical groups, etc.

Hmm, this is a tough one for me. I don’t know if I’ll have a top 5 for each but here are a few. Books: 1984, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Watchmen; Movies: Oh Brother Where Art Thou, The Big Lebowski, High Fidelity, Dirty Dancing, The Never Ending Story; Music: The Flaming Lips, Andrew Bird. Honestly I don’t listen to too much music. When I work I like listening to NPR or Craft Sanity Podcasts.

What advice would you give to someone just getting started with their crafty business–on Etsy or otherwise?

Really I think one of the biggest things I could say is save up as much money as you can. Knowing that you have a little saved up makes it WAY less scary to try and do what you really want to.

Where can your items be found?

My Etsy shop (http://penguinandfish.etsy.com) is the main place where my items can be found. I also have items at Fawn & Forest, Mahar Drygoods, Craftsbury Kids, Egg Mercantile, Happy Baby, Design Collective and The Pajama Squid.

Interview by MoonpathDesigns

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Friday Feature with Penguin & Fish

Tell us a bit about yourself– name, location, affiliations, personal stuff.
My name is Alyssa Thomas. I’m 29 years old and I live i
n Minneapolis, Minnesota. I share a 13th floor apartment with my wonderful husband, Jon. Besides Penguin & Fish, we own a company together called Studio Collective (studiocollective.com) where we do illustration, graphic and web design, film titles, and motion graphics. We also just finished our first children’s book, No Monster Here (nomonsterhere.com). It went to the printer last week and I can’t wait to see how it turns out. Yippee!

Please describe your creative process–how, when, materials, etc.

My creative process always starts with writing down ideas in my sketchbook right when they come. I only use one sketchbook at a time and I write everything in it – ideas, sketches, to do lists. I also put the date at the top of the page when I use it. Having everything in one book makes it really easy for me to find stuff, even if it was an idea I had a year ago. After writing down my idea, I’ll sketch it out. With my embroidery patterns, I’ll sketch out designs to a point but then I’ll bring them into Adobe Illustrator to refine them. For a plush character, after sketching I will try to make a little mock-up in paper. Once I like that mock-up I will make one in fabric, make notes where I want to refine it, then I’ll usually end up with a final piece after that.

What are your sources of inspiration?

I can get inspiration from anything, but animals (especially cats and my parent’s cat, Sammy) are a big one for me. I love that you never know quite what they’re thinking.

What handmade possession do you most cherish?

I really love this teddy bear that my husband made for me. It was his first time using a sewing machine and the bear turned out super wonky and the stitches are all crazy. But it was so sweet of him to make it. In the image of my studio space, it is the white bear with the pink “A” on the top of the shelf.

Name your top five books, movies, songs/musical groups, etc.

Hmm, this is a tough one for me. I don’t know if I’ll have a top 5 for each but here are a few. Books: 1984, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Watchmen; Movies: Oh Brother Where Art Thou, The Big Lebowski, High Fidelity, Dirty Dancing, The Never Ending Story; Music: The Flaming Lips, Andrew Bird. Honestly I don’t listen to too much music. When I work I like listening to NPR or Craft Sanity Podcasts.

What advice would you give to someone just getting started with their crafty business–on Etsy or otherwise?

Really I think one of the biggest things I could say is save up as much money as you can. Knowing that you have a little saved up makes it WAY less scary to try and do what you really want to.

Where can your items be found?

My Etsy shop (http://penguinandfish.etsy.com) is the main place where my items can be found. I also have items at Fawn & Forest, Mahar Drygoods, Craftsbury Kids, Egg Mercantile, Happy Baby, Design Collective and The Pajama Squid.

Interview by MoonpathDesigns

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Friday Feature with Threepetals

Tell us a little about yourself..

I am an artist….seeing that sentence written out like that still “gets me”! It’s taken such a long time to allow my hand to write it! But it is easier now to accept it and squirm a bit under its weight, than to continue to justify why I could never use that label. I may never be a great artist, (and some days, not even a GOOD one), but I have to own up to it—artist….I’m an artist.

What do you make? How long have you been crafting?
I have been creating, for the sake of creation, my entire life, really. I was a quiet child, drawn to creative people, and effervescing with creative energy. And fortunately, although I was rather “odd” as a child, the people who loved me continued to encourage me to create—-write poetry and short stories, paint, sketch, sew, build, and recreate! Since my most astounding creation to date (3 amazing children: Edie, Owen, and Liam) I have focused most of my creative energy on them—homeschooling, loving, living and creating with, for and around them!


What inspires your creations? What started you working with fiber and fabrics? How long have you been on Etsy? Most of their toys are made with “natural” materials, and I have so loved the relationships my kids have developed with these toys, that I began making many of their toys myself. I love finding new fibers and fabrics to work with! But wool and cotton are still my favorites, by far!
Such warmth goes into and is exuded from these fibers! And I see in the way my children play with toys made from these fibers, just how drawn to nature they really are, and how much they get out of playing with elements of nature. Magical, really!
After I’d been making little gnomes and fairies, and pouches and what not for my kids and for their friends’ birthdays etc, I had a few people ask me where they could buy more items similar in nature. This eventually led to a few conversations with other moms who had started their own Etsy shops…..And , after MUCH mulling over and hesitation, I finally decided to give it a shot! And while it still feels a bit strange to sell an item rather than just give it as a gift, I have to say I am loving Etsy! I opened my shop in September 2008, and have learned and grown a great deal as an artist and as an entrepreneur since then!


Do you have any advice for fellow Etsians?
My greatest advice where Etsy is concerned is “Go for it!!” The cost is minimal, the effort is as great or as little as you want to or can exert, the experience is informative, and the reward can truly be great! If you’re wondering if your items are “good enough”, go ahead and try anyway! You just may sell something while you’re trying to figure that out!

What do you hope to learn/gain from the Naturals Kids Group?
I am so excited to be part of this group! How wonderful to feel such kinship with so many other artists! I have wanted my kids and myself to be part of a “community” like this since I first started having them!

Where can your items be found?
Aside from a couple of local craft shows I do with my home school co-op, I only sell items on Etsy at this time. My husband and I are currently renovating his grandfather’s old jewelry making shop in West Virginia, however, and are hoping to open a small retail establishment in the next year.

You can view some of Carrie’s creations at http://www.threepetals.etsy.com

Interview by Ecoleeko