Sunday, November 28, 2010

Buy Handmade this Holiday Season!

Ok, I know that may sound a little self-serving, seeing as I sell  handmade items. However, I truly believe in the value of handmade items, all year round, for all purposes. Let me list some reasons to buy and shop local and handmade artists and businesses.

When you give a handmade item, you are giving your loved one something unique and special, something that will set them apart from the rest, something no one else can give them, something that's quite often one of a kind. You won't have to worry if someone else got them the same thing. Many handmade artists can custom make your item so you get something personalized and individual. An outfit made to specific measurements, an accessory in a favorite color, a useful tool with a meaningful symbol or style. There are so many artists willing to go the extra mile for you. You can't say that about many chain stores.

The quality of handmade items is often better than what you can get in a mass-produced store as well. Maybe you can get that cute shirt or fashionable furniture or trendy accessory from the outlet mall for an amazing price, but will it hold up more than a few uses? Handmade items are built to last, because they are built with love, love for the customer and love for the craft. A real milliner doesn't churn out ten baseball caps an hour with shoddy seams and badly dyed fabric. She takes her time on each unique hat, making each a work of art that will last for years to come.

You'll be supporting someone who makes a living off of their craft, which is something extraordinary on its own. There is nothing better than the feeling an artist gets when his work is appreciated, and when you wear/use it for all to see, you're advertising his wares by showing others how much you love it. Carry a business card when use that special handmade piece, so when others express admiration, you can direct more business toward the artist.

Supporting local artists and shopping at locally-owned businesses helps your community directly. You're helping your friends, neighbors, family; and will come back to you in some way.

Also, on the other end of things, please appreciate it when you're given a handmade gift. Think of the time and effort that went into that object. Whether it was made by the gift-giver himself, or picked out and personalized for you, it means so much more than anything they could have picked up at the last minute from WalMart on the way to your gathering.

In the same spirit of handmade items and local businesses, please support local and independent musicians as well. Many fantastic bands create their own record labels and produce their albums themselves, to stay free from the bonds of the music industry. They put their heart and soul into their music, and spend a lot of time paying attention to every detail, from the music to the album art to the quality of the recordings. Supporting local bands is just like supporting local businesses - you're helping your community and encouraging up-and-coming musicians.

A few rocking handmade shops:

Local Shops (local to Watertown, WI anyway)

Etsy's Local Shop Finder

Awesome Independent & Local Bands:

As always, leaving you with a few photos! This time, they are of some of the latest handmade products I've listed in my shop. (Can't hurt to do just a little shameless promotion ;)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Joke's on Me...

Friday night, I got ready for the craft fair. My husband and I finished a table-top stand we built just for this show, seeing as it's an indoor one and I don't have the room for my standing displays. I spent awhile sifting through all my inventory, picking only what I thought I could fit in my limited space. I went to bed early(ish).

Saturday morning I got up early, got dressed, and packed up the car. I drove to the venue and noticed there didn't seem to be anyone else there. I drove past it slowly, confused. That's when I noticed the large sign out front. "Craft Fair, Sunday the 21st!"


I have no idea why I spent the last week thinking it was Saturday. I even wrote it down in my datebook as Sunday. Had I even bothered looking at my datebook, I would have discovered my error before getting up early and getting all prepared for nothing.

Ah well. At least it was an in-town venue, so I didn't drive far at all, and now I'm all packed up and ready for tomorrow. I decided that since I hadn't meant to be home anyway, I would take a day to myself for once. I watched movies and knitted personal projects and cooked lunch for my husband and stayed in my pajamas and generally enjoyed my day. (What you have to realize about the cooking statement is that I generally don't cook unless I can take my time on it, and I usually use the excuse that I have no time. Didn't have that excuse today!)

I currently have four knitting projects on sticks right now. I almost almost almost am done with one, halfway done with another, barely started on the third, and the fourth will never be done so I'm probably going to turn it into something else. Lol. Of course, I also have my two painting projects, the practice and the commission, one nearing completion and one barely started. I'm also working on some cameos and other accessory projects. Sometimes I feel like I'm biting off more than I can chew, which is why I said in my last post that I wish I didn't have to sleep. But I'm sure I'll make everything by their deadlines. I'm sure. I'm going to keep telling myself that.

Early to sleep again. Getting up early for the craft fair for realz this time ;)

Listening to: Rasputina
Pics: More items that will be at the show tomorrow :D

Friday, November 19, 2010

Up Late Again...

Sleep and I have always had a love/hate relationship.

I love the feeling of sleeping. I love cuddling into a soft, warm bed (unfortunately, my bed is neither of those things these days... need new mattress and money for the heating bill!) and if I'm lucky, my husband's at my side and/or my puppy's at my feet. I love the feeling of slipping into sleep. Most of all I love to dream. My dreams are chaotic, random, unpredictable, filled with strange imagery and twisting plotlines. I love to wake up and take a few minutes to write my dreams down. I look for clues to subliminal thoughts, or hints at the future, or just enjoying the story line. Even my nightmares are at least interesting, unless it's the usual bugs-and-spiders-taking-over-everything.

Nights like this, when I know I should be sleeping but I'm not. It's not quite insomnia. It's not that I'm tired and can't fall asleep. I probably could if I laid down and tried. I just don't want to sleep yet. I feel like I have better things to do. Sometimes spending 6-8 hours doing absolutely nothing productive just feels like a waste of time. I know it's essential for body function and all that whatnot, it just feels like a waste. I could be knitting or crafting or reading or painting or a billion other things. If I didn't need to sleep, or at least if I needed less sleep, let's say just two hours a night, I could spend the other night hours doing so much stuff I never seem to have time to during the day.

AND YET... I complain that sleep is not productive, and what am I doing instead of sleeping? F-ing around on the internet, of course. So productive! Oh well. I suppose it could be construed as productive, because I use this time to keep up with all my favorite artists, writers, and musicians that help keep me inspired. One such person is my favorite author, Neil Gaiman, who has asked all his fans who blog or communicate in any other way to share this:
It is an amazing story being brought to life in an amazing fashion by an amazing independent director, but it needs help to be produced. Kickstarter is an awesome website where you can donate money to be put into various projects, and help creative people get a start. I wish I had enough money to donate to nearly half the projects I see there! I think it's fantastic that people can choose projects they want to see happen and be a part of the process to make that happen. Another of my favorite Kickstarter projects is this one:
which has already been funded and I am excited to follow her progress on Twitter! It's a local project so I'll be able to see this place start up from the very beginning.

Anyway, I'm going to try to quell my excitement and get some sleep. I have a lot to do tomorrow to prepare for the craft show I have this Saturday. If you are local, here's the info: Turner Hall in Watertown, WI from 9:30 to 4. It's called Deer Widow's Weekend (cheesy, I know, but this is Wisconsin after all!) and it looks like there will be some fun handmade-item vendors there so stop in and check it out!

Listening to: Faun and Qntal (great for falling asleep to)
Pics: Some items to be featured in the show this weekend!

Saturday, November 13, 2010


You remember that package I was so excited about? I finally got it - of course, on my working weekend when I don't have much time to play with my fun new trinkets. Ah well. I should be painting instead of crafting anyway. I did find a nice way to multitask though. Everything needs to dry sometime, right? So I paint as much as I can until the layer needs to dry, then I turn to the other side of the room and work on crafts until I have to let their glue dry. If the paint isn't quite ready to be worked on yet, I'll go to the opposite end of the room and knit for a bit. This trifecta can keep me busy all day.

I feel really lucky to have a fairly spacious art room to work in. Moving is a possibility in the near future, and I can only cross my fingers and hope I'm able to have a similar space. I could probably fit into a smaller room, but I'll have to pack everything into a lot of storage containers and bring things out piece by piece.

I was so nervous about painting again that I put it off longer than I should have. I don't know what I was so nervous about. It took me a little longer than usual to mix the colors, but that could actually be due to the age of my paint. Once the colors were in front of me and the brush was in my hand, I took a deep breath and dove in. Within the first few brushstrokes I felt a warm sense of familiarity, and as I continued I was overwhelmed by a silly urge to cry. I don't know why. It just felt so good, and it had been so long. I don't know why painting is so different than all my crafting. I could spend pages and pages trying to talk that out, but I won't. I think I'll sum it up by saying that it's just a more emotional outlet for me.

So I had a good day getting back into the habit. I got pretty far on my practice painting, and sketched out the scene for the commission piece. I'm looking forward to really taking some time to paint. I have plans almost every day this month with the holidays coming up soon, but I'm sure I'll be able to work at least a little every day and get it done soon enough.

Now Listening To: Caberet Soundtrack
Pics: An older painting, and a sneak peek of my practice painting :)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Starting Point

I am up late again. It's 2:00am and I am not sleepy. However, I'm at a loss for something to do. I am taking a break from crafting; my fingers are sore from knitting. I don't want to start painting at this time of night. It's too cold to take a walk, and I sure as hell don't feel like cleaning. Hulu has run out of interesting shows and movies. The internet, bless it, has ceased to entertain me for a little while. So I'm turning to blogging.

I've been meaning to start a blog for awhile now. I never quite know what to say. I am a small business owner, so do I stick to business talk for the sake of being professional, or do I let my personal thoughts take over the blog? It's a fine line, especially in a business like mine. I'm an artist, creator, and designer; my personal life is my business and my business is personal. So why try to separate it? I will just let the thoughts flow. Let me know if I get a little too babbly, though.

I am the sole owner of Natura Pluma Designs. I handmake hair clips, headbands, and masquerade masks in several styles, but most often very flowery and feathery creations. You can see my work at and/or at I'm also on Facebook (look for Natura Pluma Designs) and on Twitter (@naturapluma). I've also become an avid knitter, and my current kick is creating cell phone/electronics cozies with geeky text talk on them, like pwnd, lol, wtf, ftw, omg, and many more. You can see a few of those at (my old shop in which I first started the accessories and masks).

My work has been featured in several treasuries on Etsy. I've also been a featured artist at C'est la Vie Salon of Milwaukee. I've been in many many craft fairs, and was even invited to a Girl's Night Out event at Merle Norman Cosmetics of Brookfield Square. I've sent out orders across the USA and even overseas. I created custom work for events like weddings, Halloween, Mardi Gras, proms, and more. All this makes me sound much more accomplished than I really feel. I'm still doing my business on the side of a clock-in job for the time being. Someday I hope to change that!

I'm a voracious reader, a fan of so many different types of music, and I enjoy many movies as well. All of these things inspire me. I think you'll see bits and pieces of my inspiration in my work. I could list all of my favorites of everything, but that's probably worth a blog all by itself.

I work with what I have at hand, especially since I'm still kind of starting out. Much of what I create contains vintage or second-hand store pieces that are one of a kind and impossible to replicate. Some things I can certainly try to create in bulk for specific events you may have in mind. I absolutely love the challenge many custom orders give me!

I think that's enough babbling for an intro post. I'll be back soon enough with whatever new thoughts roll through. Now, since it's Daylight Savings, I'll go back in time and post this blog a half hour before I started it since the clock now tells me it's 1:30am. I'll leave you with an intro photo as well, a small sample of my work and therefore who I am. Thanks for reading!