‘Ohisashiburi’ is a Japanese phrase that means, “it’s been a long time….I hope you’ve been well.”

Like so many Japanese phrases, it sums up in one word what a clunky language like English needs a whole sentence or two to say.

It has indeed been a long time.  Turns out with the new job and the kids’ crazy schedules and some family things like my dad dying, the blog just  fell by the wayside.

But, I’m back.  With things to say.

I want to talk about the disaster in Japan, and how Paper Demon raised $2000 for relief with this handmade necklace made from Japanese washi paper on brass.  I was so proud to do something to help!

The Japan Relief Necklace that raised $2000!

And a cool new Japanese art I’ve been working on, this time using Japanese fabric!

Chirimen Fabric ornaments

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But today I want to tell you that I’ve opened a second Etsy store!  It’s called Bellabolla Beads.  Here is the shop banner!

At Bellabolla Beads I’m selling my huge collection of vintage beads from Japan, including unusual floral lampwork glass beads known as Tombodama, antique brass buttons, and  Made in Japan faux pearls.

My stock comes from my wanderings in flea markets and antique fairs in Japan, from midwestern farm auctions, and from years of travel.  I’ve got loads of retro plastic faux pearls, Made in Japan, sold in the U.S. in the 1960s.   And some unusual finds, like hand-distressed wooden beads that I wove with yarn to make my son’s samurai armor last halloween!

Here are some of the lovely items:

Japanese Tombodama Bead

Antique Japanese Buttons

Hand-Distressed Vintage Wooden Beads

Vintage Bird Sequins

Come visit Bellabolla Beads on Etsy at http://www.bellabolla.etsy.com!  And come “like” us on Facebook at:  www.facebook.com/BellabollaBeads!

One of the things I like best about Etsy Team Game Day is that, not only do I get to feature the beautiful creations of one of my team members (the Crafting in Color team or the Queer Etsy Street Team), but I get to spend an hour or more  learning more about them, peeking into their shops and their blogs and their facebook pages, and sometimes, finding interesting surprises!

That’s the case with today’s featured shop, Galleria Di Giani, of my Queer Etsy Street Team.  John Tozzi, the multi-talented artist behind this shop, makes gorgeous jewelry mostly out of very cool, unique semiprecious gemstones.  If words like hematite, labradorite, kyanite, and kashgar garnet set your heart racing, then go immediately to his shop and bask in the natural stone beauty.

John creates jewelry that is versatile and classic—perfect for formal wear and jeans alike.  As he writes,

Whether you are wearing your little black dress, your power suit, a t-shirt and jeans, or a tailored blouse and skirt, each piece in my shop will go with many of them.

I particularly like his aromatherapy necklaces—sweet necklaces that feature a sterling silver perfume vial with a tiny wand inside.

John is an enthusiastic contributor to the Queer Etsy Street Team.   One of his greatest contributions was a recent blog post, “You Just Have To,” on the Team blog.    It’s a personal response to the recent rash of suicides among young gay men.  He writes,

I am a 45 year old gay man. For those of you not versed enough to do the math and understand, I came out at 22, in the mid 1980’s, when the world was first gripped by the AIDS scare. It was not an easy time to come out. Just hearing the word “gay” made people recoil, afraid they would catch something. It was not an easy time for me. But then again, my teens were no picnic either, for so many reasons.

I was bullied for being smart.
I was bullied for wearing glasses.
I was bullied for being fat.
I was bullied because I was not particularly good at most sports.
I was bullied because I hung out with girls at school most of the time.

He movingly describes the abuse and the rejections of the intervening decades.  But John survived, and he has a message to young gays:

Someday, the whole country will allow us to legally marry. It is coming. You just need to stay around to see it.

Someday soon, we will be able to openly serve in the military. You just need to stay around to see it.

And, most importantly, twenty years from now, it will be YOUR turn to pass on your survival stories to the next generation, so that they can know. You just need to stay around to do it.

You just need to stay around.

You just need to.

For a lot of us in the Queer Team, creating art and things of beauty  is about more than just skills, and more than just a business.  It’s about overcoming years of struggle, abuse, and marginalization.  About lives that “don’t make sense”, and insisting on creating beauty out of the chaos.  Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it’s not.  But it’s always there, in just about everything we make.

And, as it turns out, John has another side of his creativity–photography.  He runs another blog, “Shed Your Inhibitions,” which features his gorgeous erotic photography, combined with wonderful musings on the art and the business of photography.  He is a truly gifted photographer of the male figure.

I am inspired to read his take on creative inspiration, like these thoughts on the artistic potential of cemeteries:

I have done many photo shoots over the years in cemeteries….   Cemeteries are places with a truly powerful aura.  To me, cemeteries are full of life.  No, there is no pun intended in that.   The collected energy felt in a cemetery is an amazing thing.  To be able to combine the life and energy in a cemetery with the powerful nature of a nude human being in a public place can make for strong photos.

I love that he brings his unique aesthetic sense equally to the male body and the female wardrobe.   Everybody wins!

Thank you, John, for everything you share with the world.

Find John Tozzi’s work at these places:

On Etsy:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/GalleriaDiGiani

At his Shed Your Inhibitions Blog:  http://johntozziphotography.blogspot.com/

At his jewelry blog:   http://galleriadigiani.blogspot.com/

On facebook:  http://facebook.com/galleriadigiani

It’s Etsy Team Game Day again!   Today my Oregon Duckies don’t play ’til evening, and we’re going to have a crowd of people over to watch, so i’m typing to the sounds of Oklahoma State v. Kansas State.  I’ve missed the past two Saturdays of posting because I’ve basically been sick for a month.  This is NOT an auspicious start to the winter season, especially since my 9 year old’s been home from school sick for this entire past week.  Talk about a drain on a crafter’s creative energies….  It’s a miracle I’m still coherent.

Anyway, enough about that.  I’m fine now, and I’m excited to be back in the saddle again…  with a feature on my Crafting in Color Teammate Mouse Market—maker of miniature dollhouse food and jewelry!

Now, before I get started, a little background.  Those of you reading who know me, know that I have a secret passion for dollhouses.  In fact, my very first post on Facebook was to narrate the progress of a dollhouse I was building, allegedly for my daughter.

This dollhouse was a meaningful project.  Dollhouses and miniatures were loves that i had always shared with my EXTREMELY CRAFTY Mother, who I always describe as “the Martha Stewart before Martha Stewart.”

For years we talked about making one, but we never did, and soon I was grown and gone from the house and our chance was past.  At least, until I had my own daughter.  When Miyako turned one year old, my mother bought a really nice dollhouse kit for us to build together for her.  But, I lived in Oregon, my mother in Pittsburgh!  And I was a new assistant professor, scrambling to get tenure.  The dollhouse was not built, and not built, and soon 10 years had passed.

But when Miyako was 10, our family moved into a historic old Victorian in Illinois that we started renovating, and somehow the Grand Dame, as we called that lovely house, inspired me to get out the dollhouse kit, and build it.

My daughter greeted the project with total indifference.  She’d never once spent a minute willingly with a doll in her life.  She’s a paper and pen girl.  But I loved that dollhouse with a passion.

The kit was an old-school one, that included an enormous quantity of real wood detailing that all had to be hand-cut and sanded, and then sealed, and painted, and then finished.  It took about 2 weeks of Paper Demon-level obsessive work.  I sewed tiny curtains, of course.

Naturally, when finished, I became even more obsessed with finding tiny objects to fill it.  And this is where my true love of miniatures came out. Fortunately, we lived in the midwest at the time, and went to the farm estate auctions weekly.  What a grand source of lovely old pieces for a dollhouse!  Even a little family of cornhusk dolls to move in and tiny kittens as pets and squirrels for the rooftop!

However.  It was my son who came to love the dollhouse.  As quasi Deathstar for his Lego Storm Troopers….  Sigh….

Lego Clone Troopers take over the house and use the facilities

I decorated the dollhouse for Christmas, but soon the overall indifference of my children and the quizzical looks of my partner, as well as our upcoming move back to Oregon, put paid to my dollhouse obsession.  And I never got to indulge myself in what I REALLY wanted to buy, which was MINIATURE FOOD FOR MY DOLLHOUSE FAMILY.

And this, dear patient readers, is where Mouse Market comes in.  Mouse Market is an Etsy shop dedicated to handmade dollhouse miniatures and jewelry, all made from polymer clay.  Now, there are PLENTY of miniature polymer clay food makers out there…..  but trust me, none of them are in the ballpark of Mo Tipton of Mouse Market.

Mo Tipton, Creative Genius behind Mouse Market

Mo explains that she combines

my love of miniatures with my training as a pastry chef and a graphic designer to create detailed, realistic foods in 1/12 scale…

But, she’s too modest.   “Detailed,” and “realistic” doesn’t do her pieces justice.  Because they go beyond realism to encompass a whimsical wit and a sweet affection for food itself in all its homey glory.  In other words, it’s not just her technical skill in reproducing food in clay, but her sense of which foods to feature, and why.  Take her matzoh ball soup, for example. 

Or her breakfast in bed tray.

These are the foods of love and comfort, lovingly recreated to make a tiny home within a home.

I was taken with her sweet Halloween-themed items, like her skull cookies displayed on a plate of glitter.

But my greatest joy, prompting me to call my partner away from her beloved football to come to the computer, was her tiny package of fresh atlantic salmon.  We buy fresh salmon every week (to be fair–we don’t buy atlantic, only fresh pacific!), and any self-respecting dollhouse of mine will need to have this in its tiny refrigerator.

For those who are dollhouse-deprived, rest assured that Mo also makes the most delightful jewelry ever.  She’s currently featuring these Rainbow Layer Cake Earrings, which I want to point out, are just perfect for October, Gay Pride Month.

One of the things I love best about her work is that she gives it a backstory.  For example, she doesn’t just make Broccoli Earrings, but *Organic* Broccoli Earrings (in a *Spicy* Cheddar Sauce).

When my dollhouse comes out of the shipping cube, and gets set up in our new house,  just in time for Christmas, I am going to lay out a minituare Christmas dinner spread the highlight of which is going to be her STUFFED TURKEY WITH SQUASH RINGS, SWEET POTATOES WITH MARSHMALLOWS, and her CHRISTMAS COOKIE TRAY.

And my little cornhusk dolls from the prairie are going to be SO happy…

Find Mouse Market at these places:

On Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/shop/mousemarket

At her blog: http://themousemarket.com

On Twitter:  http://twitter.com/themousemarket

On Flckr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/themousemarket/

One of the things Japanese artists and crafters do best is take the beauty of traditional Japanese arts and modernize them.

This is made easier by the fact that so many traditional Japanese arts already had an ultra-modern geometric style to begin with.

For example, the ancient Seikaiha pattern, used in kimono dying for nearly a thousand years.   The pattern was originally used on ancient Chinese maps to signify the ocean, and turned up as a Japanese textile pattern on a Haniwa figure from the 4th century!  Yet, what could be more modern?

I take inspiration from this old-new blend in my Paper Demon jewelry.

But sometimes I like to feature the work of Japanese crafters in my jewelry.  A few years ago, on a supply buying visit to Japan, I discovered the jewelry supply boutique Beads Shop J4.  The artists behind this shop are dedicated to bringing traditional Japanese beauty into modern accessory supplies.  I love them!  They don’t sell online (that is to say, they do sell online but they don’t ship overseas!), so I visit their shop in the Aasakusabashi Beads District of Tokyo as often as I can.

The technique that these artists developed is to encase vintage kimono and yukata fabric in acrylic and cut and seal the acrylic in interestingly shaped beads.  I find these completely entrancing.

There are endless possibilities for how to use these beads.  So far, I’ve only used them in some really awesome earrings!

Find them all at Paper Demon Jewelry!

This fall I’ve been inspired by Mura-zome washi.  There are hundreds of varieties of Japanese washi paper, and each and every one has its own beauty.

But, I have a particular weakness for mura-zome.  Mura-zome is a traditional tie-dye paper in colors that are mind-blowingly vibrant and, to my eye, modern.

It has a cloth-like look and a stained glass look and a look that is all its own.  Here is a screen shot of a few colors from the online shop Kura-washi.com:

 

The beauty of mura-zome washi

 

I started the fall entranced by fiery oranges.

 

Mura-zome paper art pendant

 

But I’ve recently moved on to greens, in this new piece, “Modern Medieval Medallion.”

 

Modern medieval medallion choker on copper

 

I adore the cloudy mystery of the green encircled by copper.  I could see Merlin wearing this, or better yet Morgan La Fay!

Etsy Team Game Day is here, and although the Oregon Ducks game is over (of course my Duckies won!)  I still get to type to the dulcet tones of LSU and Florida (with 3 minutes to go in the 4th [post-script: and what a game that ended up being!])

I’ve recovered from the dreadful attack of stomach flu that robbed me of my Saturday last week, and made me fill in with just a stop-gap post on my Queer Etsy Street Team comrades.  And now I greet this week’s remedial (?) Etsy Team Game Day Post day with renewed enthusiasm!

Today I’m extra-excited, because I get to feature the splendiferous Queer Etsian, Michelley Queen of Queens! Why do I love Michelley?  Well, first off, how can you not give respect to someone who calls their Etsy shop an “arts and crafts chop shop [and] surreal smorgasbord of whimsical, fierce, fine art.”

 

Lucifist Lucifer--Surreal Fine Art Giclee Print

 

And then she goes on to describe her art:

My art work marries childlike whimsy and feminist defiance as viewed through an absurdist lens. All of it….conceived, designed and handmade, by me, usually in a frenzied state of creative compulsion.

 

"I'm not a Humanitarian, I'm a Hell-Raiser" Mother Jones Print

 

Those of you now reading who know me at all (and some of you have known me since high school [[I’m talking to you, David and Martha]]) will be laughing at this point.  Whimsy, feminist defiance, absurdist lens, frenzied state of creative compulsion….  who are we talking about here?

 

Hysterical Bitch--Surreal Fine Art Giclee Print

 

Hysterical Bitch?  Hellraiser?  Obviously I’m going to appreciate this woman and her art.

Michelley is an award-winning artist who has been creating since childhood.  As she tells us,

I was born an innately dramatic child, in the great state of NJ, in the late ’60s, to equally dramatic parents. My imagination has always been a juggernaut and I began compulsively creating art at a very early age. I was hugely influenced as a tot by fairy tales, psycho-sexual vampire movies made in Italy, the wonders of nature and Bugs Bunny in drag.

It is the Bugs Bunny influence that I find most inspiring.  How many artists’ ouvres encompass the demented, homicidal bunny motif?

 

Some Bunnys Gonna Pay---Surreal Fine Art Giclee Print

 

But beyond all this, I again pay homage to another Etsy Team Leader.  I am grateful and humbled by those generous Boddhisattva-like individuals who devote their valuable time to making our teams run for the rest of us.  Michelley runs the Queer Etsy Street Team blog, and manages the Queer Etsy Collective Shop, which gives all proceeds to a charity working on preventing suicide among gay youth.

I can’t close this post on Michelley Queen of Queens without mentioning her Day of the Dead Soaps.  Day of the Dead is coming up, folks, and do you want to be caught dead without banana-cream scented skull soap?

 


Banana Cream Scented Skull Soap

 

Find Michelle Queen of Queens at these places:

on Etsy:    http://www.etsy.com/shop/queenofqueens

on her webpage:   http://michelle-cartaya.artistwebsites.com/index.html

on Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/QueenofQueensArt

Faithful readers will have noticed the absence of my Saturday Etsy Team Game Day Edition.   The spirit was willing, but the flesh was in bed with a ferocious attack of stomach flu (or food poisoning…hard to say).  It came, consumed my Saturday, and was gone by Sunday morning.

I owe my Queer Etsy Street Team a feature!  But now it’s Monday, and the University of Oregon Ducks aren’t playing in the background, and I didn’t have a whole day to dwell on the fabulousness of my team-mates, and I just don’t feel like the Game Day Cheerleader that I like to spend my Saturdays being!

To tell the truth, I’m still not feeling so hot.  And, did I mention I’m at the laundromat?

So, let’s do this.  I’m going to share some of my most favorite items from a few of my fellow Queer Etsy Street Team Shops.  These are things I’ve been coveting for quite awhile now.  And now you can covet them too.  I’ll put the links to their shops in so you can click through freely and enjoy the bounty of queer creativity at your fingertips..so to speak.

And next Saturday, when all my parts are rejoined, I’ll get back on the Game Day Horse and take another, for-real ride over to Queer Etsyland.

Green Alien Bead, from the Fabulous Crowbirdie Beads

Your Must-Have Christmas Skull jewelry by the ever-eclectic BunnyKissd

Subtle woodworking style by Ramshackle Studios

Haunting brushed glass briolettes from Gilliauna

One-of-a-kind take on LGBT Pride jewelry, by Elles Beads

And last but not least…

A demented, homicidal bunny, courtesy of QueenofQueens

Stay tuned!

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