Wednesday, August 31, 2016

What's HOT: Handmade in Kansas City!

With so many talented makers in Handmade in Kansas City, staying up to date on all the newest stuff is daunting!  Luckily, I did a little catching up with some of our members.  Here is what a few of us are working on....

While you can find Jennifer's adorable friends, hoop art and pillows all year long, these Yetis have not been available since last Christmas!  Get them before they are gone again!!

Larissa has hand-painted these unique cuff links.  Each cuff link is painted on the back of a recycled Scrabble tile on silver plated fixtures.  They are durable and are a classy and simple way to add a little character for any occasion.

Carla is working on creating new art with her collection of vintage jewelry.  In addition to teacup gardens, she also is now selling these amazing pieces in frames.  They are perfect for the person who appreciates the beauty of antique items, but isn't into wearing jewelry.

Jennifer is hard at work filling inventory for fall events.   She is sewing doll diaper bag sets right now.

Kelly has been working on custom orders!  She just finished a mermaid tail blanket and is now focusing on a custom squeeze-me baby doll. She is looking forward to creating some new sock animals (like the sock lion pictured below)  and a fall candy corn amigurumi.  The BIGGEST news is that she has a new website,

Melanie's time has been mostly dedicated to creating dog beds and aprons for Kansas City Pet Projects.  She does have this Falling  Leaf 6" hoop inspired by a Sycamore tree available in her shop right now.

Carolyn and Kristi have been drilling, hammering and cutting to make the most amazing jewelry from musical instruments and other items, like this gorgeous necklace from a cymbal!

Tania has made these incredible necklaces from mint condition antique perfume buttons!  You can read the full story in the listing.

I have also been working on custom orders!  Big projects have been making sweatshirts that open on the chest and arms for dialysis, pjs that close in the back for kids with nighttime bathroom challenges, and redesigning a mother's wedding dress for her daughter.   My newest items for the shop have been clothes made from vintage fabric and trims.  The Layers of Lace skirts were just finished last week and will be up for sale soon.

Be sure to visit our member directory for links to more Handmade in Kansas City members! 

this post was written by Laura (Handmade by Lolo Z)

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Meet the Maker - X37 Adventures

Today I interviewed X37 Adventures, which includes members of Handmade in Kansas City, Amy and Alexis.

X37 Adventures is first and foremost focused on creating unique goods that are upcycled and therefore eco-friendly.  We also work with you to create custom goods, and images (video or still) that reflect who you are.  We also are in the business of having fun and exploring this big beautiful world.

What made you decide to start your business?

Amy: Lex was starting it and asked me to join her, and true to my personality I did!  The root cause however was we had hit our limit of art/craft shows that we could do with out a tax number and we didn’t fancy being tax criminals. I don't think either of us would have started a business on our own.
Alexis: Amy is right, as much as we are "partners in crime," the only crime we pursue is the crime of having too much fun!  August 29th will be the 1 year anniversary of X37Adventures!

What is your favorite part about creating?

Amy: For me it’s the process, and as part of a team. I definitely love projects where we work together. Our projects that we collaborate in never seem as daunting and when one of us has a creative slump or is just stuck the other helps to get then out. by the time I am almost done with one thing I ahve started thinking up the next thing.
Alexis: I love the act of creating things with my hands, especially when I am creating new things out of old things. Working as a team is definitely on the top of my favorites list! With Amy living in London, we have had to find a new way to create projects as a team, but it can & has now been done! I doubt I would get half as few things made if I didn't have such a great business partner!

Where do you find inspiration for your products?

Amy: Oh jeez, everywhere! For me, following other creators is very inspiring and seeing what they do and how they do it is encouraging. It gets me excited to add to the work that is out there. But also seeing what they are doing and trying to find a way to create something in that trend, yet is eco or upcycled is a fun creative challenge. Being eco-conscious we get inspired by the outdoors and being adventurous. We get inspired by travel and other places.

What do you do to get out of a creative rut?

Amy: I become a giant baby and whine at Alexis. She tells me to knock it off. She tells me I’m awesome and then I show her my work so far. Then she makes suggestions that either make the piece work or that I know I don’t like. Sometimes if you figure out which way you don’t want to go with a piece, you stumble on upon the direction you do want to go. Also having a sympathetic ear is a nice vent. I also tend to flip between projects so that when I hit a wall but am still in a mood work flow I don't lose productivity. And sometimes I just get outside and walk around. Coffee also helps.
Alexis: I usually am not in a creative rut, but quite the opposite. I feel like I let ideas pile up. Once I'm on top of this idea pile, I feel like I don't know where to even begin to get back on solid ground! Amy is such a great help in making that decision for me or helping me talk out the pros & cons to a decision. Like she said, sometimes it is just great to have a sympathetic ear to hear your whiny moments. Then, when all else fails, I take my dogs on a walk or a road trip.

How do you organize the business side vs. creative side of business?

Amy: With fear and trembling. I’m only partially kidding - taxes this year involved a lot of long video chats and extensive Googling. Also having someone who is super organized and business save you to ask questions to was a huge relief (we loved getting an email back telling us we were doing the correct forms). This year has been a slow build up and learning process. We still feel like newbies at this, but we are getting better. Once again having a partner helps with the organizational, we each have organizational strengths that balance out each other’s weaknesses.

What is your favorite piece that you’ve ever created or order you are most proud of?

Amy: We recently worked on a custom set piece for a YouTube show. While Alexis did the majority of the physical work, the idea behind it and the creative process was done together via Google hangouts. It felt great to do that together even though we are thousands of miles apart. Also, any piece that we make out of something that was going to be trashed and is now loved by someone new makes our day. We love finding a new uses for something that functionally is still good but has lost its perceived value.
Alexis: Absolutely! Every time we come up with a new project that we can both participate on, it makes me so very proud of us!

Is this a full time job for you? Do you have another full time or part time job?

Amy: It is not, I am currently working on my masters degree in art and design history at Kingston University in London, UK. We both would like X37 to become something that is at least part time if not full time.

Alexis: X37Adventures is my main job, but I also work several as-needed jobs on a part time basis.

Upcoming Shows:

KC Comiccon, Aug 12th-14
Mulberry Market, Sept 2-3
The Swift Mile, Sept 10
X37 Adventures can be found at and x37adventures on all social media!! Facebook / Instagram / Twitter

Thank you Tania from Ivory Isis for writing this week's post!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Transitioning to Fall

Around here at Handmade in KC, we can’t believe it’s already Back to School time and nearing the end of Summer! Though, we are a little bit excited (ok, a lot excited) for some cool Fall days, snuggling up with a hot cup of coffee (is it too early to be thinking about Pumpkin Spice??), and sweater weather.

This month’s blog is all about some of the exciting things some of our members are doing to prepare for the Fall season (and, let’s be real, the Holiday season) and a few of the ways our other members are celebrating Summer in all of it’s glory:

First up, Unravelled has some awesome new cufflinks in her Etsy shop that were inspired by her recent Summer adventures and would be a perfect, custom one-of-a-kind gift for any guy in your life who already has everything. They can be monogrammed, engraved or painted. The creative choice is yours!

She’s also gearing up to make some of her lovely silk and wool scarves and wraps for those chilly Fall evenings. Stay tuned for announcements about when they’ll hit the shop.

In true Summer celebration, Aunt Christy’s Kitchen is trying her hand at canning peaches--we can’t think of a better way to reminisce about the warm, beautiful days of Summer than by opening a can of fresh fruit in the middle of November. As this is her first round, they probably won’t be available for sale immediately but she has lots of other delicious, Summer and savory jams and jellies to choose from. Like this Peach Smash….

How about Strawberry Balsamic?? I mean really guys…

Finally, if you’re looking for any last minute Back to School items as you gear up for the busy season, we highly recommend getting to know Ni-Chern Designs.

She’s got a great selection of women’s pouches (which, in my opinion, could be used as a really cool pencil case or other very-useful carrying case for those busy school mornings) as well as an awesome selection of school spirit products to choose from. All of her work is beautifully crafted and designed and just look at those colors!

As you can see, just because we’re entering into the last weeks of Summer and preparing to transition into Fall and all the wonderful things that come with it, you can still find great ways to support your local artists and community while gearing up for what’s ahead.

Happy making!

Thank you Larissa from Unravelled for writing this week's post!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Hidden Beauty

We’ve all seen it. After a large storm large limbs from fallen trees are cut and left on the curb. Ever wonder about what happens to all that wood?

If you are lucky, your city has a service that turns it into mulch or some guy comes by and takes the wood to burn in his fireplace. Sadly, some of it ends up in a land fill. Most people probably don’t even give it a second thought; they don’t realize the potential beauty hidden in those limbs.  

I'm constantly scouting around when there are fallen limbs for pieces I can use. I check Craigslist and Facebook to see if people are asking for someone to come and take the wood away. Just this week a friend had a Bradford Pear tree fall, so I helped cut the limbs and took away what I could haul. Almost all the wood I use to make wands is acquired this way. It's better for the environment that it's kept out of land fills or burnt.

I'd like to share with you what some of the wood I work with looks like before it becomes a wand, crochet hook, or bookmark. 

Black Walnut straight off the table saw.

A lovely piece of Honey Locust.
With its variegated grain, it will soon be a bookmark.

Here you can see the lovely yellow color and grain
of fresh Mulberry.

Here is a lovely color shift of chocolate brown to tan
of a piece of Black Walnut.

Showing the red and white grain of Red Juniper

Pointing out the heavy grain in the piece of Redbud,
which is a lovely yellow-brown.

Beautiful tiger striping of a piece of Honey Locust.

Osage Orange has a very attractive golden color
with darkening almost to purple.

These are just a sampling of the woods I use and the beauty hidden under their bark.

Thank you so much to Scott of Gipson Wands for this post!
GipsonWands  handmade wood magic wands, solid wood crochet hooks, bookmarks, art cards and more. Check out his shop on Storenvy, and connect with him on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Three Keys to Great Photos

For those of us who sell our handmade items online, good photographs can be what sets you apart from everyone else. When photographing your finished item for product listings, there are a few key things to focus on.

1. Background Since my hair accessories are relatively small, I am able to use a single plank of distressed wood and a white canvas board as a backdrop. Just about any neutral background will work, but experiment with background colors and textures to figure out what looks best with your product.

You will want to give your product space from the background so your product is the focus. If possible, give several inches to a foot of space (depending on the size of your object) between your product and the backdrop. I use a glass jar or a piece of wood as a spacer. 

2. Lighting  Lighting is the most important factor to getting a good photograph. Use natural (sun) lighting, avoiding direct sunlight. Camera-mounted flashes and direct sunlight give everything a washed-out look, and causes harsh shadows. Open shade is best as it gives a softer, more even look.

setup with bright, indirect sunlight
I prefer to shoot in the mid afternoon when the sun is bright on our deck, but the sunlight is not directly coming in the window. Learn what settings you need to change to turn off the flash on your camera, and use a tripod to minimize camera shake with long exposures.

Reflectors are key to even lighting. This graphic shows an easy setup with a single reflector opposite of your light source, but multiple reflectors may be necessary. Experiment with the angle and height of your reflector to erase any shadows and ensure you product is well-lit.

3. Composition  When you have a single product, it should be the focus of your image. Your product should fill the frame nicely, keeping in mind if you will need to convert your image to a square for your product listing. Take lots of shots, and don't stand in one place. I will stand on a chair, then lay on the floor to capture different angles. My product is 3 dimensional, and a different angle can give a new perspective.

Thank you Melanie from Violet's Buds for this week's post!