Instagram photo album filled with pictures of paper flowers

Early last year, my friend Meredith and her mom launched a paper flower business called Amaranthus Paper & Flora. They make beautiful handcrafted crepe paper flowers that are always in bloom. I have a bright bouquet of their flowers on display in my home, and it's so nice to have a lovely arrangement that won't ever wilt or fade. 

When Meredith and her mom started selling their paper flowers at craft shows, she picked out one of my handbound leather Instagram photo albums to use as a portfolio to showcase their paper flowers to potential customers. She printed her Instagram photos using this service, and the finished product turned out so well. Plus, she posted these pictures of her new photo album in action using the hashtag #myusedbook, to contribute to my new project showcasing ways to use handmade books.

To learn more about these beautiful paper flowers, visit the Amaranthus Paper & Flora website, shop on Etsy, or follow their creations on Instagram

Inspired in Athens

While I was in Athens, GA for the Athens Indie Craftstravaganzaa I had the chance to meet some extremely talented and inspiring artists.  And I'm always looking for ways to improve my own booth set up, so it was also nice to see such engaging booth designs.  I've featured a few of my favorites here, ranging from fabric design to pottery, that all really appealed to my love of bright colors and bold patterns.

Sara Lee Parker
These first two images show the work of Sara Lee Parker, who designs her own patterns and handprints them in rural Georgia with the help of her husband.  I first came across her work on Design Sponge back in January, and was thrilled to see it in person at the show in Athens. Her display was absolutely gorgeous; it was eye-catching yet simple and allowed her work to shine.  Check out her website here and her visit her etsy shop to pick up some lovely handprinted notecards or textiles. 

I was a huge fan of the Platypusfile booth.  Janae Easton of Tallahassee makes these amazing one-of-a-kind bird pillows from vibrant patterned fabrics and adds a vintage button as the bird's eye for a finishing touch. She also makes necklaces from small pieces of fabric, and displayed them resting on an open book.  It was such a nice experience to walk into Janae's booth and to be surrounded by her cheerful aesthetic. For a similar experience, visit her etsy shop and be sure to check out her mini bird paperweights.     

Jeanette Zeis Ceramics
Jeanette makes cupcake stands and cake stands that would be perfect for weddings or other celebrations, and she also makes some adorable berry bowls. She even has a special line of vegan pottery.  Her booth was just a few away from mine in Athens so I had the pleasure of glancing at her work often throughout the day.  For more information, visit her website and online shop

Liddabits Design Shop
Liz Jahn (the designer behind Liddabits) and I met while studying graphic design at the University of Georgia.  She was a semester ahead of me and I always really admired her work, especially the series of wrapping paper designs that she created as part of her senior thesis show.  Liz launched her etsy shop earlier this year and it's been refreshing to reconnect as two small business owners.  Plus, it was fun to catch up in person at the Athens Indie Craftstravaganzaa in our college town.  Liz's shop features her custom banners (perfect for birthday parties and weddings), and she also designs stationary and custom invitations.  And if you still need a father's day card, she has some great options in her shop. 

Jordan Grace Owens
I really enjoyed chatting with Jordan when I stopped by her booth.  She's an illustrator based in Greensboro, NC and she was selling quirky magnets, pins, and paper dolls.  I was drawn to her work when I saw it, but it wasn't until I was back home and perusing her website that I realized that I'd come across her work before.  On a trip to Greensboro not too long ago, we stopped by a coffee shop downtown called the Green Bean where some of Jordan's work was on display.  If you'd like to pick up a paper doll for yourself (or even a personalized one!) be sure to visit her online shop

Leather food chain

My table at The Handmade Market on Saturday was right across the aisle from Noelle of oelle m. She had a beautiful booth display and was selling her paintings, handbags, and embroidered pillows. (You can see more examples of her work on flickr.) But her leather necklaces are what really caught my eye. 

After staring at these gorgeous necklaces for a few hours, it dawned on me that I might have some supplies that Noelle could use.  When I make my leather journals, I often have scraps of leather left over that I just can't use.  Oftentimes these pieces of leather or suede are fairly large, but if I can't cut a rectangle from them large enough to cover my pages the leather bits will just end up in my scrap pile.  (And as my husband will tell you, I have a hard time parting with my scraps.  I have several boxes, bowls, and bags filled with scraps of paper, fabric, and leather sitting around my studio just in case I find a use for them later.) 

So I offered to send Noelle my extra bits of leather, thinking it would be a win-win for us both.  She'd have some extra materials to make new necklaces, and I'd be able to clear out my studio and send my leather to a good home.  And as we were leaving the show, she generously gave me one of her necklaces (the prettiest one, too!) to thank me.

I absolutely love my new necklace, and I've been wearing it both yesterday and today.  I received several complements on it at work today, and I got to share the story about how I got the necklace with my co-workers.  I have all of my leather scraps packaged up to send to Noelle tomorrow, and I'm glad to know I have someone to send my extra pieces to as I continue to make more leather books. 

Rusty but trusty

I've been on a roll making Italian longstitch books lately.  My goal for February was to focus on making these leather journals, as well as photo albums.  But once I got started with the longstitch books, I just couldn't seem to stop.  

I made some with rich brown leather (like this book), and more recently with butter yellow and bright teal leather covers, but my favorite has been this rustic orange suede.  I can't seem to get enough of the gorgeous color (especially when paired with mint green thread) or the soft texture.  And I think the journal looks especially lovely paired with all of the "rusty but trusty" items in the treasury below. 

Handmade treats for Valentine's Day

My husband showered me with handmade delights this Valentine's Day. First, I got a box full of cranberry-orange gumdrops, made by fahrenheitgoods on Etsy.  They are soft and delicious (I had to hide them from myself so I wouldn't eat them all this evening!), and the box was wrapped in a beautiful paper too.  I'm sure that paper will make its way into a handbound book in some way or another.

He also got me a beautiful pair of copper enamel earrings from tekaandzoe, and I couldn't be more thrilled.  (You might remember that I've been lusting over them for months...)  I already planning my outfit for work tomorrow so I can wear my new earrings. 

And last but not least, Tony picked out some handmade perfume for me from Sweet Anthem.  I've been obsessed with the "Anita" scent for the past month, after ordering a perfume sampler with a gift card my friend Chase gave me for Christmas.  All of the fragrances I tried were quite nice, but that particular one really stood out to me.  "Anita" smells just like a peppermint mocha, my all-time favorite coffee drink.  And as my sample of that scent was starting to run low, I'm excited to now have a full-sized bottle of it.  

Tony and I will be staying in this evening, cooking dinner together, and watching a movie.  On the menu: homemade chicken curry, chocolate souffle, and a bottle of wine we've been saving since our honeymoon.  It should be the perfect evening.

I hope you've all had a very happy Valentine's Day!

Sunny yellow treasury

I was just featured in a beautiful Etsy treasury, and it was too gorgeous not to share.  I'm loving all of the bright sunny colors, and my yellow Italian long-stitch journal is in good company.  Click on any of the photos for more info about the item.  Enjoy! 

'Daffodil Fields ' by sstormster1















Treasury tool is sponsored by

From fabric to metal

Last week I shared a few of the handmade Christmas gifts that I gave to friends and family, and now I'd like to share a few that I received.

My husband's family gave me this fabric flower hair clip made by Esty seller PetalMix. All of the petals were cut and hand-folded from beautiful pieces of dupioni silk (my all-time favorite type of fabric), and the flower is completed with a cluster of glass pearls in the center. Petal Mix hair accessories and brooch pins are a modern twist on the Japanese art of tsumami kanzashi.

The earrings above, made by Jayme Driver, were a Christmas gift from my husband. I first met Jayme at Art in the Park last spring, where we made a trade: I gave her one of my handbound photo albums and she gave me the earrings below.

Jayme and I met up again when we were both exhibiting at the Fall Foliage Festival in October. When visiting her booth, I noticed a new pair of earrings that really caught my eye. She must have mentioned this to Tony later that day because I was both surprised and thrilled to find them under the tree on Christmas Day. These two pairs of earrings have quickly become the favorites in my collection and the go-to pieces that I wear several times a week.

A Handmade Christmas

2010 was my first year as an Etsy seller, and in addition to running my own shop I also spent plenty of time purusing the shops of many other talented Etsy sellers. Throughout the year I discovered so many unique handmade items unlike any I'd ever seen before. I was itching to share them with the people I care about, so it was an easy decision to do most of my Christmas shopping on Etsy. Now that all of the gifts have been opened by their new recipients, I want to share some of the handmade items.

I bought two lovely pieces of jewelry from TeakaAndZoe, the turquoise earrings for my grandmother and the orange necklace for a friend of mine. I love all of the bright colors in the shop (and I hope to someday add one of these pairs of flower-shaped earrings to my own collection: in red/teal or in lime/turquoise).

The garden markers, made from hammered vintage spoons, were a gift for my mom. She's an exceptional gardener. And the Midwest seed bombs were a gift for my mother-in-law who lives in Illinois and who also enjoys spending time in her garden. The "bombs" are actually little balls formed of wildflower seeds mixed with clay. You just throw 'em and grow 'em (and add a little water too).

5. OhYum :: Sampler of homemade marshmallows

I also ordered several food items from Etsy sellers for the first time this holiday season. The best one was by far the homemade marshmallows made by OhYum! I ordered these to bring to my family's house to share with everyone for the holidays. My sampler pack included eight flavors: pistachio, lemon, cherry, chocolate, coconut, orange, vanilla, and almond. After tasting them all, the cherry and orange were my favorites. I will certainly be a repeat customer of OhYum!

I picked out a popcorn spice kit for my husband, including unique flavors like beer, southwest jalapeno, chocolate caramel, and dill pickle. We tested a few of them out at our New Year's party, and they were a hit. Also for my husband, I ordered some unique bacon treats: candied chipotle bacon, and then a sampler pack of other types of candied and chocolate-covered bacon. So far, we've just tried the candied chipotle flavor (very tasty!), and I'm sure the others will be interesting.

And continuing with the bacon theme, my husband and I selected a bacon tie for our bacon-loving and fashionable friend. If you've never visited ToyBreaker's Etsy shop, do it now! It's packed with clever and edgy neckties, bowties, and scarves, and I picked out three of them a few years back as a wedding present for my husband.

10. LinenLaidFelt :: Handbound photo album

One of the hightlights of this handmade giftgiving was surprising my husband with this baseball card book made by erinzam. We're both really big fans of her work (see my previous post about her here). The covers of this book are made from a vintage, 1955 Bowman baseball card of Willard Marshall of the Chicago White Sox. My husband loves baseball, and is a huge White Sox fan. And coincidentally on our drive down to South Carolina before Christmas, he was talking about baseball cards, and specifically the 1955 Bowman cards that show the player surrounded in a television-like frame. I love the assortment of different papers used for the pages, and the baseball seam stitching style is especially clever. I ordered this gift in June, and I've been waiting anxiously for Christmas so I could give it to Tony.

One of the handmade gifts I gave this year was one that I made myself. My dad has become intersted in photography these past few years since moving to Charleston, SC and each time I come to visit he has a new stack of photos to show. So I decided to make him a handbound photo album for Christmas so he'd have a more elegant way to store and display his pictures (rather than the cardstock envelopes from the photo store). I'll be posting more photos of this book in a future blog post, but here's a sneak peek for now.

And last but not least, my husband picked out a faux-taxidermy creation for his younger brother. His brother's Christmas wishlist included a few books, CDs, and movies, but at the end he listed "something weird for my room." Of course Tony couldn't resist this challenge, and turned to the "everything else" and "weird" categories on Etsy to find this little critter.

Books on craftgawker today

Another one of my books is featured on craftgawker today. It's my large Coptic-stitched journal with a bright floral patterned paper used for the covers. I bought this paper at Frontier, one of my favorite shops in downtown Athens, GA. This is only the second book I've made using the paper, even though I've had it for a few years. I've been saving it for something special, and this book is it. I think the detail shot of this book really shows how fun and vibrant the paper is, which isn't quite as evident when photos of the entire book are viewed on a computer screen. Although the print is small, it packs a powerful punch and is best enjoyed when the details can be appreciated. You can view my Etsy listing for this book here, or check out my craftgawker gallery here.

I was also excited to see a book by Erin Zamrzla (who I featured in a blog post yesterday) up on craftgawker today. It's a planner that she made for herself. The pages are sewn onto straps made from repurposed book spines, and the covers are made from chip board.

Artist Feature: erinzam

A few weeks ago, my husband and I picked out a few items from erinzam's Etsy shop. I came across her work earlier this year, and I've had some of her handmade books on my wish list ever since. When our order arrived, it certainly did not disappoint.

We ordered a Geek Book, which is made from a vintage computer card and green bar computer paper and it ties shut with a button and string closure. We were even able to choose the eyelet color used for the closure, and I think the orange looks great with the blue and gray cover. We also picked out a Long Stitch Mini Tag Book, a little book made from a manila inventory tag.

I also have to mention how fantastic the packaging was for these books. Everything was so well coordinated. The address labels and receipt (complete with hand-written thank you note) were well designed, and matched the blue bubble wrap that ensured the safe arrival of my order from California to Virgina. A variety of assorted colorful stamps added a personal touch to the envelope. And best of all, she included a pin featuring one of her illustrations that was cleverly attached to a little tag. I honestly felt like I was opening a gift when this package arrived. I think that extra handmade touch is one of the best parts about ordering items from Etsy.

I will hold on to her business card that she included. I can definitely see myself coming back to order from her shop in the future. I also really like her books with chalkboard and egg carton covers.


Bookbinding Etsy Shop:
Painting Etsy Shop:
DIY Etsy Shop:
Her husband's Etsy Shop: