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/

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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!

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

It’s Game Day!  Etsy Team Game Day, that is.  The day each week that I will devote to sharing the fabulous artists on my Etsy Teams:  Queer Etsy Street Team and the Etsy Crafting in Color Team.

I said it before, and I’ll say it again:  I love my teams.  They are unbelievably supportive and enthusiastic and generous and motivational.   I am so grateful for the different angles on creativity they’ve opened my eyes to, whether it’s a love of glorious, vibrant color, or a fierce and fabulous belief in expressing yourself no matter what.  They’ve inspired me, and they’ve made giant, impersonal Etsy feel a little bit more like home.

I’ll be alternating teams: last week it was Crafting in Color. This weeks it’s  Queer Etsy Street Team.  So suit up, Queer Etsy Street Team, and let’s go!

Thomas Saylor, of ThomasSaylorDesigns, has been a friend as well as a teammate to Paper Demon Jewelry since I started my shop on Etsy this past June.  He sent me a kind welcome to the Queer Etsy Street Team, and was the first to suggest that I make a business Fan Page!  [*pause here to click and become a fan if you haven’t yet!*]  I’m forever grateful to him for that!

Thomas makes mouth-wateringly gorgeous  fabric creations—pillows, draperies, bedding, quilts, placemats, baby gifts, wedding accessories, kitchen and bath decor, and cell phone cozies, to name a few. 

What I love most about Thomas’ designs are his spectacular sense of color and pattern.  He’s very selective about the fabrics he uses!  To make the grade they have to be bold, modern, vibrant, and geometrically-inspired.

He has a terrific sense of the most current color combos, like the one above—grey and crimson.  Or the one below:  lime green and turquoise.    Come to think of it, he really ought to be a member of Crafting in Color Team too!

My personal favorite is this pillow cover in one of the hottest current color combinations:  grey and yellow.  I am crazy about grey and yellow, but kind of intimidated by it!  But Thomas does it absolutely beautifully, with his inimitable sense of style!


If I had a house that was stylish and hip instead of random and demoralizing, I would totally have these pillows on my hypothetical white Danish modern sofa.  As it is, this will be the go-to pillow cover for the next housewarming gift I buy for hip friends.

Or, one can skip the sofa entirely and just carry ThomasSaylor style along as a cel phone/ipod cozy!

And how about this:  never be without a cocktail napkin again with these ultra-clever wrap-around coasters!  Form and function in one fabulous item!

The perfect Christmas gift for the wine-lover in your life!

Thomas describes himself like this:

I am a student, a writer, a housewife, and a self-proclaimed crafter extraordinaire. In the past, I spent several years working in the banking industry before ultimately quitting my day job to pursue my dream of starting my own business at home. I’ve recently married my soul mate, Christopher, and we live in Richmond, Virginia with our impossibly annoying yet undeniably adorable “children”, RileyBoots, Salem and Louis. The anarchy in our apartment is matched only by pet fur.

And did I mention he’s as cute as a button?

Thomas is always out and about the internet supporting the Queer Etsy Street Team, promoting his splendid creations, and being his fabulous queer self.   Check out all of his fun sites:

on Etsy:  http://thomassaylordesigns.etsy.com

on his website:  http://thomassaylordesigns.com

on his business blog:  http://thomassaylordesigns.blogspot.com

and on his personal blog:  http://yourdailythomas.com

and on Facebook:  http://facebook.com/thomassaylordesigns

It’s Game Day!  Etsy Team Game Day, that is.  The day each week that I will devote to sharing the fabulous artists on my Etsy Teams:  Queer Etsy STreet Team and the Etsy Crafting in Color Team.

I love my teams.  They are unbelievably supportive and enthusiastic and generous and motivational.   I am so grateful for the different angles on creativity they’ve opened my eyes to, whether it’s a love of glorious, vibrant color, or a fierce and fabulous belief in expressing yourself no matter what.  They’ve inspired me, and they’ve made giant, impersonal Etsy feel a little bit more like home.

I’m going to alternate teams:  this weeks it’s Crafting in Color; next week it’s Queer Etsy Street Team.  So suit up, CIC team, and let’s go!

This past week I’ve had the chance to get to know Miranda Zelenka Isenberg, the creative powerhouse behind the hugely successful brand new Etsy shop, MandeeFranee.  Miranda invented the kind of product that Etsy sellers dream of…. a handmade item that PEOPLE CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT!

This item is her LensPet.  The LensPets, soon to be trademarked, are totally cute animal scrunchies that go around your camera lens, and grab your subjects’ attention and, and with their sheer adorableness, make them look directly into the camera and smile!

Anyone who’s struggled to get a recalcitrant child to sit still for the camera knows how priceless this item is.  It obviously fills a niche that desperately needed filling! Almost all of MandeeFranee’s items are custom-made, and they’re so popular there’s a 6-8 week wait time for delivery!  But that’s not stopping her customers!   Her shop’s success has allowed Miranda, a single mom, to  stay home with her 3 growing boys.

MandeeFranee has seasonal LensPets, and mini LensPets for your little digital zoom cameras too!

Halloween Bat LensPet

Mini LensPet (any resemblance to Mr. Crabs completely coincidental)

Being a point and shoot user (and a passionate fan of Spongebob), I am inordinately fond of her Mini LensPet Mr. Crabs.

I don’t think I need to tell you what great stocking stuffers or office party gifts these would make!  But order soon if you want to get yours for Christmas!

MandeeFranee: Home of the LensPets:

Artist and Designer:  Miranda Zelenka Isenberg

Find her on Etsy at: http://www.etsy.com/shop/mandeefranee

Find her on Facebook at:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/MandeeFranee-Designs/151819848179248?v=desc

And check out her cool, gorgeous blog at: http://mandeefranee.blogspot.com/

You love giving gifts, but you hate wrapping gifts.  I get that.  Wrapping gifts is stressful.

That’s where I come in.  I wrap your gifts for you.  I send you hand-folded Japanese jewelry boxes, hand-folded Japanese gift boxes, and hand-folded Japanese gift bags.  All created using traditional origami box folds, and all made from eye-poppingly gorgeous imported Japanese chiyogami paper.  Lacquered jewelry boxes also available.

The PDJ Hand-Folded Origami Gift Bag with Japanese Bead Zipper Pull Extra

Two of the sizes available--2 inch and 4.5 inch

The flat box--6 inches; other sizes available.

And all complete with coordinating ribbons and handles, and optional Japanese imported cute doo-dads for customization.  Custom size orders also gladly accepted!

The PDJ Heirloom Gift Bag is like enclosing your gift in another one of a kind gift.   I start with heirloom quality chiyogami paper.  Each of these papers comes with a story.  All chiyogami papers are replete with history and symbolism.  This paper in the photo, for example, is the Hinadan Pattern.  It is the pattern traditionally used to decorate the doll display for the Girls’ Day Celebration in Japan.  This pattern has been used and loved by Japanese girls and women since the 18th century.

With optional zipper pull from imported Japanese bead

The bag shown is 4 inches high.  (Custom size orders gladly accepted ) .  It’s finished with metal eyelets and handles of imported mizuhiki cord from Japan, in your choice of colors.  The one pictured here is sparkly red.  Green, white, silver and gold also available!

Inside view

If you want, you can add on an optional zipper-pull or pendant dangle made from an imported Japanese bead like this one, embossed with a glorious chrysanthemum pattern.  Goldfish, fabric beads, geisha hair dangles and other one of a kind items are available.

You need these.  You really do.  You want to impress her.  Christmas is coming.  Do you really want to wrap all those gifts?

(Special Introductory Pre-Christmas Price:  $4 for small boxes, $6 for heirloom gift bag; $4 for regular gift bag)

One of the things I love most about Paper Demon Jewelry is that it’s a cross-cultural endeavor.  It gives me a chance to celebrate American holidays and American trends using Japanese materials, and to celebrate the beauty of Japanese handmade materials in a way that American buyers can relate to.   Origami crane earrings for the winter solstice anyone?

Origami Cranes in honor of the Winter Solstice

It’s a fun creative stretch.   It takes some creative imagining to figure out how to relate my traditional Japanese paper and fabric to things going on in the US!   The good part is, I don’t know too many other jewelry makers who inhabit this odd little Japan-America jewelry-making niche.

Two trends hot on Etsy right now are woodland animals and Halloween.  Both of these inspired me to dig out my bag of chirimen fabric from the hall closet and start experimenting.   I didn’t abandon my beloved paper art jewelry and origami jewelry—just set them aside for a bit to enjoy the chirimen fabric I collected on my last trip to the Nippori textile district of Tokyo.

BTW, I love Nippori!–a total mecca of old and new fabric, notions, and sewing goods of all kinds!  It’s pretty close to Asakusabashi–the jewelry and bead neighborhood–by subway, so if you’re a craft-hound, you can spend a very happy few days up there in Northeast Tokyo!

A shot of a Nippori fabric shop, from Ismoyo Green's blog

For me, Nippori is all about the chirimen fabric–the traditional crinkly silk (now rayon) used in all traditional Japanese fabric crafts.

Ironically, for a lot of Japanese women, who by the way adore hand sewing as a rule, Nippori is all about finding the American and European fabrics they can’t find anywhere else!  But for me it’s chirimen.  Gorgeous, gorgeous colors—-of course.  Amazing patterns. Check them out in this screen shot of the Japanese fabric store FabricTales.com (my GO-TO shop for all Japanese fabric items, btw!  Visit them in Japanese [better selection] at http://www.nunogatari.co.jp)

Screenshot of one of the chirimen pages at Fabrictales.com

OK, so anyhow—digging into my chirimen collection, I decided to try my hand at woodland creatures and Halloween items.

Et voila, I present to you my Chirimen Uguisu Bird.  The uguisu is the bush-warbler, but because of it’s beloved evening call, is known as the Japanese nightingale.  it’s also known in Japanese poetry as the “Sutra-reading bird” because it’s unique call sounds like “Ho Hoke Kyo” (it really does!!!!) which is the line from a famous Buddhist sutra in Japanese.

The Japanese Bush-Warbler, aka Uguisu, aka Japanese Nightingale

And here are the Tanuki, which look like racoons but are actually Japanese racoon-dogs.  Not sure why, but that’s what the dictionary says.  Tanuki are beloved in Japan, although in a mixed-feeling kind of way, since they’re known as destructive, mischievous gluttons.  But cute destructive, mischievous gluttons.

Tanuki Pals

And then, there are my owls.  Owls are called Fukuro in Japanese, and they’re a symbol of good luck because their name contains the word “fuku” or luck.

Owl Brooches

last of all, my Quizzical Owl Halloween Squishy.  Who can resist a name like that?

Quizzical Owl Halloween Squishy

Chirimen fabric for Halloween!  Why not?