Friday, February 29, 2008

Craft Diaries: Part 2

Dear Diary,

After my first dalliance with sewing, I didn't do much more for a while. My mom would sew stuff for me here and there, and I usually helped out to an extent, but not enough to advance my skills much.

Sure, I enjoyed craft related stuff, and liked to assist my mom with her various projects around the house (she has pretty much done everything in our house - paint, refinish, tile, embroider anything from cornices to throw pillows, make curtains, the list goes on) but I was way preoccupied with competitive swimming. I spent all my free time from about age 10 until 21 starring at the black line on the bottom on a swimming pool, and I was fairly blind to everything else (except boys - want to know who I had a crush on when I was 10, and then at 12, or how about at 16? I could list them all).

I never gave much formal thought to making stuff until college when I discovered a lovely little bead store adjacent to an upscale fabric store in the same strip mall as Harris Teeter. I might have tried to make some jewelry - I don't really remember - but I definitely decided to make a purse in the style of a way overpriced one I had seen in a nearby gift shop, and embellish it with some beads.

It actually came out pretty well, but I NEVER used it. The strap came out way too long, and I don't know, it was just never the purse I wanted to use when heading out for the evening. I finally got rid of it a few years ago. Too bad, I wish I could share a picture with you.

And then I made a mermaid costume for Halloween my senior year. It came out ok, just ok. Like that skirt back in fourth grade, I still didn't have much of a concept for how clothing should be constructed, nor did I bother with a pattern. But it was just a costume after all.

Til next time,

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Let's be renegades together

I made a feeble attempt at applying to last summer's Renegade, but this year I want to do it right. I'm trying to pull together a group of perhaps 3-5 folks, depending on how much stuff everyone has, in order to submit a super strong group application full of variety and panache.

Pretty please, if you're interested, or know someone who should be, put them in touch with me, and pronto -

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Any ideas?

So, I got this really cool decanter that I'm going to use for another lamp, but I'm wondering what I can do with its stopper. I don't have any use for it as far as the lamp is concerned, but it's super cool too...anybody have an idea? It is sort of heavy and chunky, FYI.

Friday, February 22, 2008

BUST is doing it again

Seems they've decided to get back in touch with their Craftacular roots by bringing it back to Brooklyn with the first ever Spring Fling Craftacular, to be held at The Warsaw in Greenpoint (even though their web site claims Williamsburg). Very exciting, to me at least.

The event is scheduled for Sunday April 27, and its line-up includes all the same fun and games as their hugely successful Holiday Craftacular - over 50 vendors, DJs, dancing, drinks, and a 90's themed dance party!

Vendor applications are due March 30, and can be found at FAQs are also available at

Miss you there - I'll actually be in FL celebrating my grandfather's birthday with the fam.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Let there be lamp!

Deciding to step away from jewelry for a while (with the exception of a few little baubles for myself), I had the idea a while back to try my hand at lamp making, and...Ta-da!

While definitely a 'learning piece,' I'm still pretty happy with the results of my very first lamp. It's going to be my new desk lamp at work since there's no space for it at home.

Lessons learned:
1. Wine bottles are maybe too tall, maybe not.
2. Entirely do-it-yourself lamp shade = way too labor intensive. Apparently there are a lot of pre-fab, self-adhesive ones available that ought to make things much easier. And if stenciling or something, like I did on this one, a cheap, ready-made shade would be the way to go.

Techniques to try in the future:
1. Etching
2. More interesting bottles
3. Putting stuff in the bottle
4. Something other than a bottle

p.s. Those of you that have been with me for a while might recognize that stencil...have totally gotten my money's worth with that one :)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Craft night

Gal pal R. Vine hosted a lovely craft night this past Tuesday, and I'm happy to report that it served as the impetus for me to finally make good on a promise to myself to learn how to crochet. Apparently even a children's crochet book is too difficult for me to follow, so with the aid of new friend Lindsey, I successfully put together a nice little practice swatch.

Why are needlework instructions so difficult for me to follow? Am I the only one with this problem? It's like, in an effort to be so thoroughly explanatory, they make it more complicated than it needs to be. Just say: "wrap yarn under hook from back to front. Pull slip knot off and over hooked yarn." But they muck it up with so many superfluous details on exactly how to hold the hook, and balance the hook, and which fingers to use, and how to hold the yarn, and how you should be sitting, and which hand to use for grabbing your wine glass (well, maybe not that one)...enough already, just tell me what I need to know in plain and simple language, and leave all the rest out. Or better yet, sit down next to me and show me.

How to replicate that one-on-one tutorial experience into written instructions? If someone could figure that out, I mean really nail it, then we'd be onto something.

Friday, February 8, 2008

New name coming soon...

Handmaiden NY was the first name I came up with that I liked, but I never loved it. Plus, when I began talks with a potential partner, she didn't love it either, and since I wasn't sold on her proposed business name, we decided to start from scratch. I've stuck with Handmaiden all this time on account of that business plan competition (so as not to confuse things, since that was my working name at the time the competition commenced). So anywho, now that the competition is over and done with, I figure why not roll out the new name that I am in love with...

Why not? Well, I do have a new domain purchased, and the logo you may have now become accustomed to was inspired by, and works much better with the new name (at least I think so), however, I can't do anything about my blog URL. I can change its title and all (I think), but the URL will still involve handmaiden. And so will the MySpace, but I haven't done much with that anyhow, so whatevs.

Oh well, I'll just have to not worry about that for now. Whenever this store actually opens it'll probably warrant a whole new blog, but in the mean time, the handmaiden URL can serve as another reminder of how this is all a work in progress. Yeah, I like that reasoning...

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Craft Diaries: Part 1

Dear Diary,

OK, so you're probably wondering, "Does this girl even make anything, or is she all talk?" A fair enough question; I've devoted very little space to discussing my actual, nuts and bolts craft ventures. I'm here to rectify that.

What do I do? What have I made? How did it all begin?

I think my penchant for making things myself can be traced back to fourth grade when my mom gave me free reign with her sewing machine to make a skirt. I had no idea what I was doing. No pattern, no idea of how actual clothing should be constructed, just a picture in my mind of what I thought the 'it' skirt of the day was - a mid-calf, pencil type thing with a slit in the back from which some lace peeked out. I managed to put something together (probably with at least some help from my mom), and although it promptly ripped the following morning when I was getting on the school bus, it was wearable enough to make it out the door. It was pretty terrible, but I was mighty proud.

Regretfully, my skills as a seamstress haven't improved much. I have owned a sewing machine for the past couple of years, but until recently it was this refurbished Singer that my mom had gotten me, and that machine and I did not get along well. Needless to say, I didn't use it much, and the clothing projects I attempted didn't turn out so well. While I now have a better idea of how clothing should be constructed, I still don't like patterns much.

But...I got a new machine - a Bernette (by Bernina) 65 - and so far, so good. I am versed in the basics, so I can totally handle the simple stuff like tote bags, of which I've made plenty (Holiday presents a couple years ago). I was stoked with the results of my first project with the new machine (check out my new everyday tote pictured below), and even more stoked that I got through it with no snags, literally.

I've pledged to take good care of my new friend Bernette and follow all her maintenance instructions. We're getting along so well, I definitely want to keep it that way! And, feeling empowered by this new relationship, I've mustered the courage to properly undertake clothing. First on the agenda - a cute pair of bloomers for my most favorite summer dresses (that are a smidge on the short side).

But I've dabble in so many other things...more to come later

A new craft fair venue - how exciting!

The Brooklyn Brownstoner has been hard at work organizing what is sure to be the "biggest and most interesting flea market in the city." Its Brooklyn Flea is set to launch April 6 on the Bishop Loughlin schoolyard on Lafayette Avenue in Fort Greene (map).

In their own words, they admit that: "We use the term 'flea market' with both affection and a wink and a nod because...while the Brooklyn Flea will offer plenty of flea market meat-and-potatoes (vintage clothing, music and furniture), it will also have an exciting mix of local designers, artists and crafties."

Get excited and find out more by checking out their new blog.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Make your own valentines

...or buy some that someone else has made. As featured on the Calendar of Craft, the Brooklyn Indie Market is hosting a craft fair this Sunday.

Brooklyn Indie Market: Be Your Own Valentine
When: Sun, Feb 10, 12pm – 6pm
Where: Camp Lounge, 179 Smith St. (between Warren and Wyckoff), Cobble Hill, Brooklyn

Sunday, February 3, 2008

My family is nuts, but hilarious

I have to give a shout out to my brother for his own crafty venture - his homemade documentary Jews at Sea. Plus, I'm in it, and that's always fun. Check out the trailer -

If you like what you see, you can be his friend too -