A Cyber Halloween Party or by the time you read this I will probably be fired

... well, wait a minute I don't actually have a job so I can't actually get fired, but if I worked for me I might be in trouble and here's why ...

I used to work for a bank and lately,

(because work has been taking over my entire life and not in a "make a million dollars" kind of way - more on this some other time)

I have been feeling a bit nostalgic for the days when I had things in my life like days off, paychecks on Fridays, someone else making the coffee, which resulted in it actually being sort of drinkable, and yes, especially Halloween parties.

At the bank we dressed up every year

very tastefully, of course

one year I was Sherlock Holmes and then the next year I was ... Sherlock Holmes and then the next year I was ... well, you get the picture - it was pretty much an excuse to wear a brown plaid English detectivey hat and carry a pipe and a magnifying glass.

I didn't win best dressed in 5th grade for nothing folks

and I am really missing those days and thinking that those of us who work at home

and if you are home and doing any kind of work including but not limited to:

making something to sell,
making dinner,
bringing up a child, puppy, hamster or goldfish,
bringing in the mail

you qualify - deserve a Halloween party, too!

What do you think? Who is up for this and how can we do it, realizing that this just popped in my head 5 minutes ago and I haven't really thought this all through, but why should that stop us?

We could kind of be like these guys except we'd be all alone and alot more cute and crafty ------->

I am thinking we can do some really cool, super fun things like:

1. Getting free flu shots in costume

(hitting up our local Walgreens all across the country at the same exact time)

2. Organizing someone to speak to all of us, again in costume, with some pertinent information we will all require like maybe a funeral director speaking about burial arrangements

3. A laffy taffy cyber giveaway table
with our hubbies dressed up as gigantic Raggedy Ann dolls which would be terrifying on so many levels

Maybe we could take advantage of the whole "cyber" things and create our costumes in photoshop and then have a costume contest.

Nothing too crazy that will cause an emergency meeting of the Blogger blogging association in which they decide it's best for us to blog elsewhere, but something that could have gotten us fired in the old days

(or the not so old days if you still have a job).

Something to ponder while the Real Housewives of New York is on hiatus ...

BTW I will be at Crafty Bastards in Washington DC on Saturday selling my wares if anyone is around and wants to stop by and say hi - I plan on being super busy and making a gazillion dollars so don't tie me up with idle chitchat for too long unless that chitchat is about the Real Housewives, Top Chef, Work of Art, Flipping Out or ideas for our upcoming Cyber Halloween Party...

xo =^..^=

Tuesday Trends - Brutalism or raw, rough and exposed

Nick Olsen, over at Design Sponge recently named Brutalism an emerging trend and this is one I really love.

Raw edges, rough textures, repeating geometric patterns - it is a trend that truly exemplifies all the beauty of handmade - the beauty of imperfection - the organic feel of this trend is so inspiring!

Here is what some Etsy peeps are doing:

1. Textured bowl from blueroompottery
2. Distressed ring by tinahdee
3. Peeling paint photographs by stillmemory
4. Lava earrings by valkasinskas
5. Distressed jeans by MatyDavis
6. Reed tunic by zelaya
7. Collage heart by RedorGrayArt

Polarity Lockets featured on Daily Grommet today!

Yes, there are a few scary clips of my fidgety, fast talking self in there -ugh!

Creating a Sustainable Business - Part III - Aesthetics

"form ever follows function" - architect Louis Sullivan

Now, aesthetics is a tough thing to describe- it does have a real definition, but whether something's aesthetic is good or bad is a pretty subjective thing.

We all have our own likes and dislikes, history and culture that create our predisposition that goes into judging the things we create and the things we purchase.

Function used to be (back in the days of the industrial revolution and today for some people and within some cultures) the most important part of any design and then form followed.

And, maybe for our handmade work to be truly sustainable this is still a good model for us to work with.

As customers become more conscious of how they spend their money it is very possible to see function pushed ahead of form again and this is more good news for the handmade movement where we control both form and function.

So, if you are a maker of flower vases for example - you might think first people want their vase to be cool (whatever that is to them) - to be their own aesthetic whether that be traditional or modern or whatever and obviously the form your work takes is very important and will stir up a certain audience and is the part that most personally reflects you as a maker ...

but, if the top of the vase, for example, sits in such a way - that is very cool and modern and pleasing to the eye of those who share your aesthetic - but will not allow a flower stem to sit straight in water and loses its function, well ...

for makers seeking to create a sustainable business with customers who are making conscious spending decisions putting time and energy into function can be, to quote Martha here, "a really good thing".

I just bought one of the very gorgeous jewelry hanging cases that the amazing Jessica of bluebirdheaven upcycles from antique printer drawers.

Now, as a customer I didn't go searching around Etsy thinking I wonder what interesting something or other I can find made from an antique printer drawer - I went looking for a jewelry case and my aesthetic led me to hers.

(and I am so happy with it by the way!)

Now, I do not know if form or function came first for Jessica - did she stumble upon a stash of amazing vintage printer drawers or want to create unique jewelry cabinets - but because she has taken into consideration both form and function she has created a very sustainable piece.

Functionality is also why sometimes even the most amazing illustrators find it easier to sell their work on t-shirts and jewelry and fabric and coasters and the myriad other functional processes available to them than to sell an 11X14 print.

(that and the fact that so many people have had the same art on their walls since Clinton was president - let's all buy some new art this week - we should start a movement - change your wall for fall or something catchy like that)

I have a beautiful bracelet that I would wear alot more often if I could latch the damn thing without giving myself a carpal tunnel injury or calling out for reinforcements.

(and I am not a "get hubby to zip me into this dress" kind of girl although that does sound kind of cool, if I had a dress like that ... now that I think about it)

Now, all of this is not to say that things can never be just 100% about form

(because all beautiful things serve their own function, of course, what higher calling than to give birth to something beautiful - something that moves us and makes us feel something)

but as makers looking to sell our work and create a sustainable business at the same time, the balance of form and function is surely something we might want to keep in mind.

NEW Lockets in Polarity Shop! YAY- I am working with some amazing new artists!

In the past few days I have added some amazing new artist locket sets to my Polarity shop on Etsy (and will have a few more over the next couple of weeks)

and some of the artists I have been working with have added some incredible new sets!

If you order any new set by the end of September and mention my blog I will refund your shipping charges!

GIVEAWAY - Stemellina - Hand Felted Wool Flower BROOCH!

Stemellina is one of 3 amazing felted wool shops created by Meli!

Meli is the Greek (her name means honey in Greece) mother of two, who lives with her Canadian husband (who was her summer love) and makes the most amazing felted creations!

Meli has a shop with gorgeous hand made felted wearables called Stemellina.

Another shop with gorgeous hand made felted home decor items called Woolicious.

And a third supply shop where you can purchase her amazing felted beads and more called Stemellina Supplies.

We are so lucky to have one of Stemellina's amazing pieces for this week's giveaway!


One lucky winner will receive this gorgeous hand felted wool flower brooch!


Visit Stemellina (or one of Meli's other amazing shops!) and check out her amazing work - then come back here and leave a comment letting her know which piece is your favorite!

For additional entries:

(5) Twitter this post
(5) Blog about this contest; linking to this post
(5) Follow my blog

Let me know if you have done these things so I can give you additional entries. This contest is open to everyone.


Enter by midnight, Sunday, September 26th! Good Luck!

No Whining on Wednesdays or some things you "surely" do not want to miss

Um - let's just say if your mother was named after ---->

and you were named after your mother,

you might just want to use your middle name, too ...

Congrats to Cathy, Kate and Katie - all three figured out my little riddle and instead of drawing for a prize winner I'm just going to give a locket to each of them - the Partridge family mom trivia was so obscure that everyone deserves a prize for that one!

This is Not a Real Whine, Really

Anyhoo, hubby and I took a little unplanned road trip this past weekend and I realized just how bad a certain someone's memory has become.

me (reading mapquest printout - yes, we have a GPS, but it is even less trustworthy than mapquest) - okay so we are on this road for 120 miles and then we take exit 27

hubby - ok

hubby - (10 minutes later) you said exit 14?

me - no, exit 27

hubby - (7 minutes later) how long are we on this road?

me - until exit 27

hubby - (20 minutes later) that was exit 29?

me - *crickets*

It is not an exaggeration to say this scenario was repeated at almost every road change - I am not sure what this means - but this is getting scary since I am counting on his memory to make up for the ever increasing gaps in my own ...

, even though it was just the two of us in the car, once a mom always a mom, so in addition to sunscreen (yes, the zinc kind), I brought hand sanitizer, wet ones, tylenol, band aids, paper towels, tissues, a box of teddy grahams and grapes - because "we need to eat some fruit".

So, I learned from this trip some important things:

1. When the road signs in South Carolina say 65 mph they actually mean 65 mph

2. How to talk with a mouth full of teddy grahams

3. Where to get three cases of diet pepsi for $10

4. GPS will always let you down - BRING A MAP

5. The same man who always instinctively knows when he is facing north, west, etc (yes, even when blindfolded and spun in a circle - I've done it) - cannot remember one road or exit from the next and can no longer be counted on to NOT GET US LOST

6. I have set up my life so that Every Single Thing needs to be done by me and I need to change this SOON or my head will explode

(we actually saw some evidence of the exploding head syndrome on our road trip and I am certain these animals had set up their lives to do everything themselves and were unable to delegate and had no one to delegate to and so were forced to make that final trek across the highway themselves - it did not end well for them)

road trip print by Dolan Geiman

Tuesday Trends - Military Inspiration - Function, Utility, Simplicity

Tomorrow, I will announce last week's giveaway winner and the answer to my little name puzzle, in the meantime let's talk Tuesday trends.

The military fashion trend has been around a couple years now and doesn't appear to be going anywhere.

It does continue to evolve though from a historical infatuation toward a more modern focus.

In 2008 and 2009 the military trend was more focused on the uniforms of the Victorian and Georgian eras while the current trend is all about 20th century's focus on functionality and utility.

How and if you might work this trend into your own work is up to you, but here is what a few Etsy peeps and others are doing:

1. Flying rabbit wings pin by Cosmic Firefly
2. Sleeveless jacket by Malam
3. Wallet by Urban Heirlooms
4. Kevlar wallet by RAGGEDedgeGear
5. Drink charms by Clinks
6. Hand embroidered jacket by RiordanRoache
7. Vintage wallpaper triple switch plate by Fondue
8. Giuseppe Zanotti boots

GIVEAWAY - Plucking Pendants - Recycled Guitar String Necklace!


True Random Number Generator Min: 1 Max:248 Result: 41 Powered by RANDOM.ORG


Plucking Pendants creates amazing recycled guitar string jewelry! When I saw Ashley's gorgeous work I fell in love!

(plus I have always wanted to learn how to play the guitar, but am a bit dexteritiously - uh, something like that - challenged)

Ashley grew up in a small town in southern New Hampshire where she spent lots of time in her mothers craft store.

(can a girl get any luckier than having a mother who owns a craft store?)

She has lived many places since then and is now settled in Oregon where she loves seeing live music, rivers and beaches, creating things with her hands, watching trashy TV, and hanging out in her studio space!

We are so lucky to have one of her amazing pieces for this week's giveaway!


One lucky winner will receive this gorgeous mixed metal shiny circle of goodness made from a retired copper guitar string! It is 1 1/4" and hangs from a 18" antique brass chain that closes with a copper lobster claw clasp- so perfect!


Visit Plucking Pendants and check out her amazing work - then come back here and leave a comment letting her know which piece is your favorite!

For additional entries:

(5) Twitter this post
(5) Blog about this contest; linking to this post
(5) Follow my blog

Let me know if you have done these things so I can give you additional entries. This contest is open to everyone.


Enter by midnight, Sunday, September 19th! Good Luck! CLOSED

Creating a Sustainable Business Part II - The Environment

A sustainable business needs to take into consideration 3 things - people, profits and the planet.

1. People - the people your business touches including yourself and your family, your employees, your customers and the other people your business supports.

2. Profits - if your business is not making money, you will probably not be able to "sustain" it for very long

3. Planet - the future of which is quite literally in our hands

So, we want to create a sustainable business - affecting the environment as little as possible - but we also want to make things for a living and sell them.

How do we balance this?

Well, I think the very fact that more and more makers are asking these questions is a great thing and of course, doing something is always better than doing nothing.

I try not to use components produced in certain countries in my work (although this is not possible with everything) because their environmental practices and labor wages do not sustain people or the planet.

I try not to use toxic chemicals in my work, but brazing is a toxic activity (only to me and those in my immediate vicinity, often my hubby since this is done in his shop) as well as pouring resin. When I can use nontoxic materials though, I always do - again doing something is better than doing nothing.

I try to use recycled and recyclable packaging materials, but a test tube shipped without bubble wrap is a test tube that is probably not going to arrive in one piece, so I buy the biodegradable bubble wrap (even though my own tests with it haven't been totally successful) and use recyclable newspaper.

And, I use a few energy saving techniques in my studio including temperature control, using CFLs and surge strips so I can turn everything off with the flip of a couple switches - all easy, peasy stuff.

This is not to say everyone else has to do these things (and many people are doing alot more) - some of these things may be a good place to start though if you are thinking about the sustainability of what you do.

Note - we are not seeking perfection - we are just seeking to have the smallest impact on the natural environment with our work.

The planet is the one P in the 3 P's of sustainability where making a huge impact is not a good thing.

If it is possible to use a sustainable or locally produced piece in our work - maybe passing the additional costs, along with the story (see Part I of this series) of that component used in our piece on to our customer so they can feel good about the materials and methods that have gone into their purchase. This can also produce some great opportunities to collaborate with other makers.

Also remember that you have your own story and your own need to earn a sustainable living and you are not doing anyone a favor by being your own slave labor department (working on this one).

(customers really don't need or want - for more than 5 minutes- more mass-produced junk and as makers trying to make a living with a sustainable business we certainly don't want it obscuring the importance of craft and durability)

Walk into a store and ask the salesperson about the material and production of the item you are looking at and you will probably get a blank stare. This is a huge advantage to us as designers and makers.

We can know what goes into our products and we can work to make those materials (components, packaging, shipping) as environmentally friendly as possible.

We cannot be perfect in this and just having a global business creates lots of planetary wear and tear, but in making sustainable environmental practices a priority to us I believe we are sending the energy of our long term commitment to our business out into the world.

<--- Thirsty fine art photo print by abcd images
(so beautiful)

Next Week- Part III Creating a Sustainable Business - Aesthetics

Tuesday Trends - Urban Homesteading

Basically urban homesteading is about finding a level of self-sufficiency no matter where we live.

This is alot more than a trend, but lifestyles create trends and this is a lifestyle that is definitely catching on with designers in a big way!

When I had a buyer at Pool ask me to design her an urban homesteading necklace and my sister told me about her many friends and neighbors in Portland beginning to raise chickens I knew this lifestyle was becoming a design trend we might want to start thinking about.

**** a true chicken tale ****

(Once upon a time we had a chicken named Lucy. She appeared in our yard one day and kept trying to get into our house by flying into the windows - unopened windows...ouch, poor Lucy! - my generous hubby would walk around the yard with Lucy at his feet looking under rocks for crickets.

This next part gets a little gross. He would toss the cricket on the ground to stun it and then Lucy would gobble it up - hey the girl had to eat!

She would jump into our laps when we sat on the patio and nibble on our toes when we ignored her. Our dog Hershey would chase her around the yard and she would fly atop the patio umbrella to get away.

When fall came - and the chicken clean up got a little too much- chickens require a lot of clean up, if you know what I mean - we took Lucy to a farmer down the street named Junebug where she lived happily ever after with other chickens and one lucky rooster, laying a gazillion eggs for farmer Junebug)

Anyhoo, think pitchforks and chickens, cows, goats, llamas, canning, think farming with or without the overalls!

How and if you might want to incorporate this trend into your own work is up to you. Here's what some Etsy peeps are doing:

1. Mason jar lamp from Lamp Goods
2. Canning labels by Starbee
3. Vintage garden tools at BrightWallVintage
4. DIY Cheese Kit from UrbanCheeseCraft
5. Organic tomatilla shirt at Goga
6. Cow pendant by LuckyDuct
7. Mrs. Cow tote at StrandRedesign

And my own piece. This is a new style of cork necklace that I introduced at Pool- I think every city needs some chickens!

Play the Name Game and Win YOUR CHOICE of any Polarity Interchangeable Magnetic Locket!

Now that summer is winding down and autumn is almost here I will be starting the giveaways back up. But, since this is a slow holiday week I think we will try something different!

I promised my friend Kelly from the adorable shop Sweetness Jewelry some time back that I would have this name contest and then of course, I promptly forgot to do it, so here it is now :

I have a confession to make.

Catherine is my middle name. My real first name which some of you know but most probably do not was my mother's name. So, it was easier, I guess, to call me by my middle name.

(and I am very glad most people did because my husband has the same name as his father and when he was younger his family called him little George - which is actually kind of cute - but a few of them called him Georgie and they still do and it really creeps me out)

Which leads us to this little giveaway. I will give a few clues to my real first name and whoever makes a correct guess (if you know my name you can enter, too!) will be entered into a drawing for your choice of any locket from my Polarity shop!

Clue #1 - If this was your name Luke Skywalker might have dated your daughter Laurie when she had braces.

Clue #2 - If this was your name you might have been making today's equivalent of $120,000.00 a week during the great depression.

Clue # 3 - This was my mother's name and she graduated high school in the 1950's.

Do not leave a comment here with your entry - convo me cativins@gmail.com or through the link in the right column that says - let's chat. You can enter up to 3 names. Enter by midnight on Thursday 9/9. All the winning entries will go into a drawing on Friday and the winner will be notified. GOOD LUCK!

Happy Labor Day Weekend All

We are expecting a hurricane today (this could have been downgraded to a tropical storm by now) followed by cooling temperatures (YAY) and sunshine for the weekend! I love that they can already predict the "followed by" part - I wish that was true of all of life's storms! Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend!

Creating a Sustainable Business - Part I - The Emotional Connection

I want to kick off this series of posts on creating a sustainable handmade business by focusing on things other than ways of production, production materials, etc.

Now, these are important things and these are the things that are getting alot of attention these days,

(and I am very glad for that)

but there is a bigger picture and a more complex aspect to sustainability that we can capitalize on as makers with a desire to create sustainable work.

When we were kids my sister had a teddy bear who went everywhere with her for years.

(what ever happened to Timmy, sis?)

Parents know that if their children have too many toys and a constant influx of "new stuff" into their lives that they never really get attached to any one special thing for more than a nanosecond.

I think the same is true for all of us.

As a maker trying to create a sustainable business in a disposable world how can I make my work more sustainable by helping my customers develop an emotional attachment to my stuff?

What is the point of using durable materials, recycling, using environmentally friendly production, fair trade, etc if the buyer doesn't connect with the product in a way that creates a long, useful life for our stuff?

Big brands spend big bucks to do this with their advertising campaigns. A clear identity can create an emotional connection for a product and a hefty price tag doesn't hurt (cheap stuff definitely gets tossed easier than the stuff we have saved our pennies to purchase).

The good news for the handmade movement is that we do not need a big bucks advertising campaign to connect with our customer and connect them to our work in a huge and personal way. There are as many ways to do this as there are makers with imagination out there.

1. Create a story for our work that allows the customer to connect to it in a unique way.

Example - BOB - Bunch of Bolts This cool little necklace comes in different colors and different names - nude BOB is pictured here

(it may be time to get the kids out of the room, folks)

BOB comes with an awesome little guide to 'his-story' which includes the following:

"...shortly after cave men discovered them, early man began using BOBs in cave-drawing advertisements for new flint tools and Dino Dung products (for which they were paid very little - since, of course, they didn’t move thus limiting their ability to protest)...."

I think it's genius (plus the maker/designer is my brother). He creates the most amazing connection with his customers who continue to update him on BOB's adventures once they get to their new homes.

2. Tell the story about ourselves, our processes and our materials and include this with our work -

How wonderful would it be to get a beautiful handmade sweater in the mail (like this gorgeous work by ileaiye) with some information about the maker and how this amazing work came to be - maybe even some tracking information on the wool, etc that went into the piece.

A real history of the item (not to support its eco-footprint although that would be great, too) but just to allow the buyer to connect to the work in a stronger, more personal way.

If I bought a sweater made from alpaca and it came with a picture of the actual alpaca, I would be blown away. I would never want to take that sweater off!

3. Use social media to allow your buyers to get to know you and your work in a more personal way

(yes, this means you probably need a blog and you need to update it once in a while and yes, this is work and sometimes alot of work and something that we are all struggling with as our businesses and our lives get busier and busier)

Giving your buyers and potential buyers a peek into your world can definitely create a more emotional attachment to your work.

(of course, it kind of goes without saying- but maybe I should say it anyway, that if our work falls apart right away when used then none of these things will work)

As we seek to create a sustainable business (on so many levels) - giving our customers the tools they need to attach to our products and connect with the maker of our products is a win-win for everyone!

(and yes, this goes against the current business model of creating things with a short life span that get tossed so that the consumer needs and buys more things and it brings us back to the more traditional model of creating work of quality and this is totally a good and necessary thing for our planet and all of us)

Next week - Creating a Sustainable Business Part II - The Environment

nemo the bear by knitting dreams->