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

Welcome! Today I’m going to continue my trek backwards through the alphabet to bring to you the most yummy treasures, which are handmade with natural materials from…yes! the Naturalkids Team on Etsy!

 Danielle is the creator behind Princess Nimble Thimble dolls.  She hails from St. Louis Missouri and features little hand sewn bendy dolls made from wood, and wool. They are small but mighty and incredibly cute.

There are few listings in Danielle’s shop, as they sell out quickly. Check in for her stocking calender and see when the new arrivals will be…arriving! Here is her  Birthday Party Bendy Doll    

When you visit Pretty Dreamer, you will be asked to remember your days of wonder…”that five year old self that managed to stay with you through the years … at the heart of toymaking is a giving life to the cherished plaything. I hold an image of many far away workshops and kitchen tables in close and distant lands where love and imagination shaped a wonderful plaything…”

She makes her handmade Waldorf-inspired and classic wood toys, art toys, home decor and housewares from materials that are carefully chosen and non-toxic.. And they are always “Lively, useful, colorful, simple – for home and play.  Here is her Golden Egg – Fairy-tale inspired beeswax candle.

Dayanra of Pin Pon  is a native Chicagoan, who studied art at Columbia College. As a former Early Childhood Educator, she understands the need for open-ended play, simplicity, and nurturing in a child’s life. “Inspired by the Spanish lullaby my mom sang to me as a child I create one of a kind, original playthings for the young and young at heart.”

In her shop you will find soft dolls, wooden toys, and imaginary friends made of natural and re-purposed fabrics, mostly cottons, wools and linens. They are all stuffed with cotton.

Here is Barry the Polar Bear

Pinkhouse Handworks is the dream of Janice Kearley, who came upwith the name years before opening her shop. “The birth of my first child in November 2007 has made the business a reality. After being a Montessori guide in Austin, Texas for 10 years, I left my classroom to be at home with my daughter.”       She makes “Montessori Baby Toys” from wood and cotton, which are appropriate for all babies and can be appreciated by Montessori and non-Montessori families alike…Here is her Wintery Blue soft Circular Rattle/Teething Ring .
That’s it for this week….from rattles to bendy dolls, from beeswax to stuffed polar bears, it is a pleasure to bring you all the new treasures from these fine crafts folk/artists. 
Please visit again next Monday as we make our way through the alphabet, featuring all the wonderful members of the Naturakids team on etsy! Til then, I invite you to browse all our wonderful shops.

Creatively yours,

Rebecca aka Nushkie

 

 

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Nature Table, Adding Nature

I like to change our Nature Table each week. It is so important during the long winter days that the children have something to look forward to at the beginning of the week. Sometimes it may be to bring out a few new items to add to the table or it could be a complete change of scenery. This week I did a more natural look to the table with our little bears coming out of their stacker den.

Another thing that we love to do is add bits of nature to our scenes. The boys have been gathering items from our yard to add to the table. Before we moved to the country we use to go to a large park that had nature trails to collect our items. We added to our basket sticks, rocks, pine cones, and pine branches.

The kids love to get on the floor and just play with these or add them to the table. Many times I find them just sorting the natural items into piles, sometimes by item, sometimes by size. Kids just really love to touch and feel thing from nature, it “grounds” their spirit!

Here is our final table this week the kids have added a few of each of the items even using the pine branch as a tree. I hope you have enjoyed our table this week and will share with us a link to your blog showing your winter table or a favorite memory.

Article by Beccijo, The Enchanted Cupboard

Need some new items to add to your winter Nature Table check out these items:

JustHatched
DadsWoodenToys
chimera
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Friday Feature with

Today’s interview is with Tiffany, of Fair Trade Family. Enjoy!
Tell us little about yourself!

My name is Tiffany Nixon.  I am originally from Chicago and moved 8 years ago to the Phoenix area.  I have four boys (ages 5 to 12) and have been married for 13 years.  We school at home so that we can have active busy lives otherwise.  I have coached soccer for the last 4 years,and am passionate about health, nutrition, and exercise.  I have lost 56 pounds and counting by focusing on an active lifestyle and raw vegan foods.

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

I make play foods from natural materials and some custom knit and crochet woolies for cloth diapering.  I have been crocheting and knitting since I was about 5 (almost 30 years ago).

What inspires you?

I am inspired by the colors of nature and by the delicious and nutritious foods around me as well as a passion to see more natural materials and fewer toxic toys in our homes.

What got you started working with yarn?

My friend and I loved playing with yarn during our summer breaks from grade school.  We had huge plans for a five-story-high store which would sell our crocheted goodies.  At the time all we could make were chains and long uneven scarves.  Of course, we didn’t anticipate the internet or any of those possibilities.

How long have you been on Etsy and how has it been for you so far?

I have been on Etsy since July 2006 and have been very pleased.  I started out a couple years before that on hyenacart.com and sold my first 1000 or so orders there.  Etsy  had a learning curve for me but I have been very pleased with the broad customer base and return customers there. 

What advice would you have for other Etsians?

I love the teams on Etsy.  Find one that really fits with who you are and what you sell and try to really be involved.  The support from the teams is really helpful when starting out and when you need new ideas or advice.   The general etsy forums gave me great ideas at first but i soon became wrapped up in the busy-ness of it all and had less time to work my business and to craft.  I do think social networking is worth it but I do better with a full store and happy customers.

What do you hope to learn/gain/contribute from being part of the Natural Kids group?

The longer I spend with Natural Kids the more excited I am to be part of the team.  I love being able to recommend other vendors with positive feedback and great business ethics to my friends and customers.  The networking possibilities as a team far outweigh the individual and the support the vendors give to each other is really valuable to me.

What thoughts do you have for parents on the importance of natural toys for creative play?

I remember reading once that some new parents were overwhelmed when promotions for products or even breastfeeding focused on giving your baby “the best.”   The experts say that parents who know they can’t afford the top of the line car seat or stroller; who know they have to return to work at 6 weeks postpartum; who can’t buy 100% organic will just go for what they can do and not be as excited about “the best.”  The thing is, with natural toys, there are so many great options out there and the alternatives aren’t just a little less than the best, they are toxic.  It is worth investing in a few beautiful toys made with natural materials that will last for many many years.   I have wooden toys that I bought 12 years ago and play foods that have gone through several children.  Playsilks and organic t-shirts have become part of the costumes and the sets for movies my children have written and filmed.  Natural toys tend to grow with our children since they are more open-ended.  I love buying toys that allow for imaginative play.

Your links?

http://www.etsy.com/shop/fairtradefamily
http://hyenacart.com/Fair-Trade-Family
http://www.facebook.com/tiffanynixon
http://www.facebook.com/fairtradefamily
http://twitter.com/#!/fairtradefamily

Thank you Tiffany!
This interview was by Kat, of kats in the belfry.

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Friday Feature with Harvest Moon by Hand!

Today’s interview is with Ann, of Harvest Moon by Hand. Enjoy!

Tell us little about yourself!

I am a stay-at-home mom who homeschools my two daughters (ages 9 and 7). Both of my daughters were born in China, and adopted at 11 months and 10 months respectively.
I have always enjoyed crafting – especially embroidery, needle-felting, needlepoint, crocheting, and cross-stitching. I hope to pass the joy I feel when I craft along to those who purchase my items. My other interests include: photography, traveling, reading, cooking/baking, and bird watching.
My home is in Scandia, Minnesota (a small rural town about 35-40 minutes northeast of downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul) on a ten-acre hobby farm. With a miniature horse, pony, two dogs, and five cats…there always seems to be a lot of activity here.

What do you make?

The most popular item in my store is by far the translucent window stars. These are some of the first items that I started with when I opened my store, and I continue to add new patterns and colors each month.

I also sell:
– art kits and supplies for creative people of all ages (children to adults);
– all-natural children’s toys (e.g., felt food, small stuffed animals that tie into children’s books);
– supplies for sewers and homeschoolers (e.g., fabric-covered buttons, needlebooks, patterns);
– handmade gift items (e.g., fabric gift bags, eco-friendly postcards, greeting cards featuring my photographs, Christmas ornaments);
– paper bags made from vintage children’s books; and
– educational supplies (e.g., postage stamp sets).
In addition to these items, I also do custom orders based on what people see in my store or on my Flickr site.

 

 How long have you been creating?

As a child, I loved to color, draw, and do crafts. My parents were very supportive of creative expression, and registered me for summer school arts and craft classes. When I was junior high, I took a lot of art classes – including pottery, calligraphy, and rug making. Now as a mother, I enjoy crafting with my daughters and seeing their enthusiasm for expressing their creativity.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by the creative work that I see on Flickr and Etsy. I also like browsing through craft books and magazines that I check out of the library.

Living in a rural area, I’m always inspired by nature and wildlife.
Last, I’m inspired by my daughters. It’s interesting to see what they use when they play, what their play centers around, and what they tend to gravitate towards when we go shopping. I try to create all-natural items that they and other children would enjoy playing with and using.

What got you started working with the window stars?

When my daughters were younger, I took them to a weekly program at the local Waldorf school. The windows were decorated with a variety of the sun catchers, and I thought they looked so beautiful with the sunlight shining through them.
While the children were playing, the parents would attend a “class” about different topics. One session was focused on creating a calming and beautiful home environment for children. I immediately thought of the stars and how they could enhance different rooms in the home.

How long have you been on Etsy, & how has it been for you so far?

I opened an account in February 2008 after reading about Etsy in our local paper. In Spring 2008, I began listing items in my shop, Harvest Moon by Hand. Being a part of Etsy has been wonderful. It has given me an opportunity to create and sell my work to people around the world.

What advice would you have for other Etsians?

Try to stay visible by listing often, by listing a variety of items, and visiting the Forums. Include your business card and a small promotional item with each order.

What do you hope to learn/gain/contribute from being part of the Natural Kids group?

Being a part of the Natural Kids group keeps me aware of the breadth of natural, eco-friendly toys and home furnishings that are available. If people are looking for a place to get a well-made, handmade toy that they will be safe for their children, I always refer them to the Natural Kids website.

What thoughts do you have for parents on the importance of natural toys for creative play?

Because both my daughters love to play and use their imagination, I make many of their toys by hand – all from natural materials (primarily wool and cotton). Knowing they have quality, safe (and lead-free) toys is important because I know they won’t adversely affect their health.

Natural toys – in addition to being safe for children to play with – also seem to be more open-ended which fosters deeper and more imaginative play. Children are not limited by what a toy does (e.g., makes a particular sound, can only be used one way), but rather can use natural toys in multiple ways in their play and daily life.

Your links:

SHOP: http://www.harvestmoonbyhand.etsy.com/
BLOG: http://harvestmoonbyhand.blogspot.com/
TWITTER: http://twitter.com/harvestmoonMN
FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/harvestmoonbyhand
PHOTOS ON FLICKR: http://www.flickr.com/photos/picturesbyann

Today’s interview by Kat, of kats in the belfry.
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Friday Feature with Alkelda

Tell us little about yourself!
I am a musical storyteller and doll-maker who was trained as a children’s librarian. My husband and I live in Seattle, Washington, USA, with our 7 year old daughter. When my daughter was 2, I decided that I wanted to learn either to sew or to play guitar, and ended up doing both. I don’t work in the library anymore, but I cannot resist a reference question, especially if it involves trying to locate a favorite childhood book. In the beginning of our courtship, I impressed my future husband by locating a copy of the out-of-print book Dinosaur Comes to Town, written by Gene Darby, which had the refrain, “There’s a meat-eating dinosaur—and you’re meat!”
The meaning behind my shop name:
The name “Alkelda” is Old English for “healing spring.” Alkelda is an apocryphal saint, and her feast day is my birthday. When I decided to become a seller on Etsy, I elected to keep my username as my shop name and added “Dolls for Storytelling” to make it clearer what the shop offered.

What do you make and how long have you been creating?
I make embroidered wool felt dolls for storytelling through creative play. As a teenager, I would hand-stitch small dolls out of fabric remnants to give to family and friends, but it never occurred to me to seek out specific fabrics until I started making the little felt standing dolls like the ones in the shop. I started out with doll-making kits, and then developed my own patterns. I learned to embroider as an adult with the help of several embroidery books.

What inspires you?
I am inspired by plants, the curriculum in Waldorf schools, folktales, music (some of my dolls carry felt guitars), ironwork scrolls, and embroidered tapestries. My daughter loves dolls, and she often comes up with ideas for me, as do friends and family members.
A few years ago, I read her Sibyl Von Olfers’s The Story of the Root Children. She enjoyed it, but asked, “Why are all the root children blonde?” I explained to her that the author was Prussian, and she probably knew a lot of blond children, but that the majority of the Earth’s population has brown hair. When I talked about this conversation on my Saints and Spinners storytelling blog, friends of mine wrote about how they had longed for depictions of fairies and fairy-like dolls with dark hair and skin, and how rare it was to find them. Many of the dolls I make are for my friends when they were children as well as the people who are children now. I am glad that I can find cotton interlock for faces in a variety of skin tones.

Prior to using a book, my embroidery looked like a mess. I am the kind of person who needs specific instruction and guidance before free-form experimentation can take place. My first dolls (larger standing dolls with wire arms) were created with an embroidery book in my lap. I still consult my books quite a bit for new, complex stitches, but I’m glad that I finally have the basics “memorized” in my fingertips. Speaking of fingertips, it’s handy that I play steel-string guitar, because the calluses protect me from many of the needle-jabs I inevitably experience. (As a friend of mine asked, “Haven’t you ever heard of a device called a ‘thimble’?”)

How long have you been on Etsy and how has it been for you so far?
I started out as a buyer in June 2008 and became a seller in May 2009. When I started, I had no intention of starting a cottage industry business. However, when I started to make little dolls and people asked for commissioned work, it occurred to me that there might be a tucked-away corner of the market that would have room for my virtual stall. I was fortunate to have an online community already established for four years through my storytelling blog, and friends were willing to mention my new shop. Still, I was bowled over the first time I received an order from a stranger. I was glad to be able to join the Natural Kids Team because I liked the artisans and wanted a sense of connection with others who liked to create things that appealed to children.

What advice would you have for other Etsians?
Of course, I’m still learning from those who have been around far longer than I. What I would like for sellers in general to understand is that many people are inundated with data and noise to the point of saturation. Respect your potential customers by offering the best you have to create without getting into their personal space with a deluge of marketing. As a buyer, I went to Etsy to find well-made, handcrafted creations at fair prices, not mass-produced “bargains.” As a seller, I strive to make my shop a welcoming place to potential customers as well as people who simply enjoy looking at my dolls. Each listing ends with this mission statement: “I care about each doll I sew, and hope you will find a doll in the shop that you feel is yours.”

What do you hope to learn/gain/contribute from being part of the Natural Kids group?
I am a worker bee. I like low-profile jobs such as editing and organizing (although please, do not look at my desk as an example of order, as you will not find it). I hope those skills will help the team as a whole. What I really appreciate is
that when I have a question, people on the Natural Kids Team have perspective and can give guidance.

What thoughts do you have for parents on the importance of natural toys for creative play?

As an adult with experience, I prefer to give my daughter toys made out of wool, cotton, wood and clay. These natural materials are warm and living. When minimally formed, these toys allow for many layers of creative play. However, I can understand the attraction of battery-powered toys. Before my daughter was born, I bought a little fire-engine train that had a battery for the siren. I got a kick out of pushing the button every once in awhile to hear that siren. However, when my daughter received the fire engine as a present, she pushed the button repeatedly. When she wasn’t looking, I took the battery out, and then gave her back the fire-engine train. She pushed the button and looked at it quizzically when it made no sound. After a few moments, she set the fire engine train down on the track and said, “Chook-ca-chook-ca-chook” (her train sound). I realized that by taking the battery out, I was giving her imagination room for its own discovery.

Links:
Alkelda: Dolls for Storytelling
http://alkelda.etsy.com

Facebook:
http://facebook.com/Alkelda

Storyteller page:
http://faridadowler.com

Interview by Beccijo of The Enchanted Cupboard

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(we've been stocking)… shop update from NaturalKids!

At noon today (E.S.T.), the team shop over at Hyena Cart will be newly stocked with fresh, beautiful handmade natural kids gear. Hyena Cart is an online shopping site focussed on handcrafted family-friendly and earth-friendly items.

Lots of items are one of a kind, and all are made by artisans from the NaturalKids team behind this blog.

Part of the shop update includes these beautiful pieces:

a mini pink Waldorf baby doll (by PolarBearCreations)

6 natural wooden eggs from ImaginationKids

organic baby wipes from CurlyMonkey

wooden ocean wave stacker by TheEnchantedCupboard

organic baby sheep blanket from SewnNatural

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(we’ve been stocking)… shop update from NaturalKids!

At noon today (E.S.T.), the team shop over at Hyena Cart will be newly stocked with fresh, beautiful handmade natural kids gear. Hyena Cart is an online shopping site focussed on handcrafted family-friendly and earth-friendly items.

Lots of items are one of a kind, and all are made by artisans from the NaturalKids team behind this blog.

Part of the shop update includes these beautiful pieces:

a mini pink Waldorf baby doll (by PolarBearCreations)

6 natural wooden eggs from ImaginationKids

organic baby wipes from CurlyMonkey

wooden ocean wave stacker by TheEnchantedCupboard

organic baby sheep blanket from SewnNatural

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Friday Feature with Pinkhouse Handworks

Tell us little about yourself!
I am a wife, mother, gardener, crafter and Montessorian. I live with my husband and 2 year-old daughter in a small town in Central Texas. We enjoy playing, walking, making music and trying to take life slowly. I was a Montessori child and then a Montessori guide for ten years. I am currently home full time with my daughter. Montessori philosophy and life is our passion. It influences how we spend our days and what we choose to have in our lives.

What do you make and how long have you been creating?
I learned to crochet and knit as a child. Since then I have pursued a number of other avenues for creativity. I love to needle felt, sew, spin yarn, draw, sculpt clay and paint. Currently I make and sell what I call Montessori Baby Toys, which at this time, consist of crocheted rattles, hanging toys, sewn pouches and wooden toys for infants and toddlers.

What inspires you?
I get inspired to create when I learn of a new technique or pattern. I also love to see what others have created and get inspired to try something similar. My daughter has been a great inspiration to me. I love making toys for her and am excited to one day teach her how to knit, crochet, needle felt and spin.

What got you started working with Montessori Baby Toys?
While I was pregnant, dear friends who had taken the Montessori training for ages 0 to 3 years lent me their training albums. The albums suggested beautifully simple toys to offer to infants. I set out to make these for my daughter. In finding the parts and creating the toys for her I found that they made a nice little collection and thought it might be nice to offer them to other families interested such toys. I gradually brought together the little collection of five toys and began to sell them. Since then I have added other items and continue to have more ideas for items to offer in the future. In 2009 I had the Montessori Baby Toys bag and Circular Rattles tested and they are safe according to the new CPSIA guidelines.

How long have you been on Etsy and how has it been for you so far?
I joined Etsy a little over two years ago after a friend sent me the link to her shop. It was before I had even started making my toys. I just thought it was a wonderful place to purchase handmade items directly from sellers. Becoming a seller on Etsy has been so wonderful. I tell people about Etsy all the time because I know that everyone will love it. I love being directly connected to my customers. Making baby toys is a really special work and being connected to the parents and family of babies all over the world is an amazing feeling. Through Etsy I have had the pleasure of selling to families in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. What a treat to ship a package to a far away place and to get to add that place into my awareness.

Early this year I got to join the Natural Kids Team on Etsy and have found it to be so educational. The team has so many amazing sellers with the same feelings about offering beautifully handmade items for children. I learn so much from that group and have felt more connected to Etsy in general by belonging to the team.

What advice would you have for other Etsians?
I think Etsy sellers continue to learn from each other continuously. Buying from other sellers and seeing how they package their product and what they include in the shipment is a really good way to learn. I find it especially helpful to read the Etsy Success emails. I love that Etsy connects the sellers to such great information about all aspects of selling such as photography, taxes, promotions, tagging etc. I’ve found so many great blogs and web sites from reading Etsy articles.

What do you hope to learn/gain/contribute from being part of the Natural Kids group?
When I requested membership to the Natural Kids Team I was looking for like-minded folks who share ideas and help to support each other’s shops. The camaraderie and sharing of ideas and information has been so much more than I had expected. As a new member I am still learning the ropes and hope to get to be more of a contributor in the future.

What thoughts do you have for parents on the importance of natural toys for creative play?
In our family we select items for our home that are made from natural materials such as fabric, paper, natural fibers, wood, metal, glass and stone. To us it is important that we can recognize what material an item is made from and possibly even who made it! We spend as much time as possible at home and outdoors playing, reading, cooking and exploring. We have set up our whole home to be accessible and safe for our daughter. We adhere to the principle of rotation when organizing our home. We have out only small amounts of toys at a time and each toy has it’s own special place. We rotate toys in and out of the cabinets and closets based on our daughter’s interest, abilities and the seasons. In living our life in this way we have found that our daughter is deeply connected to nature, is creative with language and with her toys, takes care of her belongings, has good control of her body, has a deep sense of confidence and is independent and joyful.

Your items can be found where:
Etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/pinkhouse
Web site: http://www.pinkhousehandworks.com
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/Pinkhousehandworks
Catalog: http://www.michaelolaf.com/

Interview by Beccijo of The Enchanted Cupboard