Did You Know?

***Please note any and all images you see from our artisans belong TO the artisans so please respect copyrights and our artists by not copying them. If you'd like to share something you see on this blog, please do, but always link back to the artist and ask permission if in doubt.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Member Artisan Profile: By Apryl

It gives me great pleasure to introduce Apryl, artist and owner of Original Creations By Apryl. Her favorite medium is wire, and she specializes in wire tree sculptures available exclusively online (links below). Check out her stunning cake topper:

She began creating five years ago when she opted not to finish her college education. Looking for a new challenge, she was inspired in part by a friend who had an online business. Apryl says, “I was fortunate enough to have a grandmother who created wire trees and a grandfather who did wire wrap jewelry. They took the time to teach me what they knew and it has become my full time job!”

One of the perks of being a self-employed artist/business woman is total freedom. “I love that I don’t have to work for anyone else or leave the house,” she explains. “It’s horrible and true! I never worked well with others and every job I’ve ever had I’ve always just viewed as temporary. Most days I’m in my pajamas ALL DAY and I love it!”

When asked about inspiration and the creative process, Apryl responded, “I would say that I have whims that excite me so much I have to drop what I’m doing to work on them! I kind of live in a bubble and make things up as I go. I never plan, I just let things fall together as they will. It seems to work.”

Indeed it does! Apryl’s business doubled last year and during the prior year. However, with the downturn in the economy, she’s not seeing growth this year. In response, Apryl is focusing on one-of-a-kind custom orders, rather than trying to launch new lines.

“Lately, I’ve been looking to become less of a business woman and more of an artist,” she explains. “Creating something totally new and different has really gotten me excited. Right now my favorite piece is the one I’m working on, a tree with a beachy shell theme! Tomorrow it could be something to do with wood, or gravel, or some rock I found…who knows!"

When asked what skill she would most like to learn, Apryl says, “Patience! I have none at all. If I’m not busy every second of the day I get a little crazy. I’m sure you meant a business or a craft skill but honestly, patience is all I wish for!”

Her biggest piece of wisdom for other artists is to develop photography skills that showcase one’s items. While pleased with her current photos, Apryl says she’ll be re-taking them over the next week or two because, “I think they can be better!”

Apryl is a transplant to Louisiana. She and her husband reside in Bridge City, which is near New Orleans. She’s originally from West Virginia and lived in New York until her husband found a job here a few years ago. “We really love it here,” Apryl says, “and plan to stay until he retires or we get washed away!” Spoken like a true Louisianian.

To view Apryl’s creations, check the following links:

You can read Apryl’s blog: http://byapryl.blogspot.com/

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Dance as though no one is watching you,
Love as though you've never been hurt before,
Sing as though no one can hear you,
And love as though Heaven is on Earth......Father Alfred D'Souza

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Monday, July 27, 2009

Member Artisan Profile: Gabrielle Acres

I'm pleased to introduce you to Gabrielle, who works with organically grown herbs to create bath and body products that are both healthy and pure. Gabrielle has been working with herbs for about fifteen years.

She and her husband own a small herb nursery called Gabrielle Acres Farm in New Iberia. About seven years ago she began making soy candles, but longed to make soap. After a life changing accident at her local farmers' market five years ago, Gabrielle realized how important it is to try to accomplish and fulfill one's dreams.

Gabrielle loves soapmaking and the history of herbs. She finds it peaceful to spend time growing and collecting herbs to use them in her creations. For inspiration, she loves to read books and visit websites to learn more about her craft.

When asked if she has one favorite item that she makes, Gabrielle replied, "I love all of my soaps, but one favorite is my Organic Rose Garden Soap and a new one that I am really excited about is my Spiced Organic Apple Soap." Another new item is soap made with organically grown cucumbers and organic yogurt.
With four children and eleven grandchildren, Gabrielle's home is very busy with family and friends. In addition to her bath and body business, she teaches piano privately in her home. She admits that one of her greatest challenges is trying to schedule quiet time to allow the creative juices to flow.

One skill Gabrielle would like to learn is is how to better photograph her creations. When asked to provide one piece of advice for other sellers, Gabrielle offers this: "Enjoy what you do, spend time in study and research, and give it time.

Gabrielle's connections to Louisiana run deep. She explains, "We [she and her husband] were both born in New Iberia, LA. During our early marriage, we lived in California and Illinois while my husband was in the Air Force. At these times, I realized what a wonderful state we have. We lived in the Mojave Desert in California and I missed the rain so much!!"

In addition to growing herbs, during the summer, Gabrielle grows tomatoes, which her husband brings them to the local farmers' market in New Iberia. Gabrielle and her husband have a pecan orchard and love the fall months when the family, incuding two daughters, goes out to pick pecans. They crack and sell pecan halves during the fall and early winter months. There are also bees on the pecan property and Gabrielle's husband brings native honey to the market.

Gabrielle sells her high quality bath and body items both online and off. She usually has a booth at Earth Day in Baton Rouge and at the Sunset Herb Festival in early May. She also sells from her home, where she has a room with her items displayed.

Here's how you can learn more about Gabrielle and her fabulous creations:

Her website: http://http://www.gabrielleacres.com/

On Twitter: herbfriend

Friday, July 24, 2009

Member Artisan Feature: Southern Voodoo

Meet Michelle, the artist behind the Etsy shop, Southern Voodoo. She has been creating fun, high quality hair accessories for two years. Michelle's unique designs have an architectural quality that goes beyond the traditional bow!

Louisiana-born and raised, she finds inspiration for her ribbon art clippies everywhere. Her nature themes include the crawfish, crab, bumblebee, frog, among others. For foodies, there are ice cream cones and strawberry clips. You'll even find people, in the form of a cheerleader, or ballet dancer.

A big LSU fan, Michelle's favorite creation is the LSU Tiger Head clippie found on her Bayou Bows n More website. She also has an LSU woven ribbon headband.

While it's sometimes a challenge finding time for both creating and her family, she says her favorite work perk is, "I get to stay home with my daughter and be home for when my son comes home from school."

When asked whether she had one piece of advice for other handmade sellers, she replies, "Don't sell yourself short."

Check out Southern Voodoo's beautiful creations at her Etsy shop, Southern Voodoo, and at her Bayou Bows n More website.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Member Artisan Feature: Cheese and Chocolate

“CHEESE AND CHOCOLATE” - That is the inspired name of Merry Rubins’ shop. She and her daughter Robyn sell jewelry, art and knitted animals.

Merry makes the jewelry. She and her daughter both knit. In fact when we get together for our “Handmade Louisiana” group meetings, Merry always brings along her knitting basket. She somehow manages to knit and talk at the same time without ever missing a beat on either one. Go Merry! (I can’t seem to walk and chew gum at the same time!)

Her jewelry pieces are feminine and graceful. Her wire-wraps, precise; and she doesn’t mind doing lots of them, making some pretty pieces with lots of movement. She also seems to have a good sense for color-mixing, as seen in the necklace below.

She states that right now she is leaning towards pearls in her designs and considers the Marissa necklace (above) and the matching earrings http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=23366066 to be her current favorites, though she loves all of her creations. Some of her other favorite materials to work with are crystals and sterling silver.Merry says she has been crafting as long as she can remember and has been making jewelry for about five years. When asked how she started in jewelry-making she says that while on vacation she purchased a necklace. She was so intrigued with it that when she got home she took a jewelry making class at a local bead shop, and "the rest is history".

“My biggest challenge in jewelry making”, she says, “is saying “no” to myself in a bead shop. I love all of the colors and shapes and want to buy them all.”

Merry finds peace in her jewelry making and says “I find making jewelry very calming. I can become very focused on the items before me and can even tune out any fights between my daughters.

Many things inspire her to create - Books, TV, Magazines, Nature, Color...

One thing Merry would like to do is use Precious Metal Clay to create unique jewelry pieces. She has taken one class and is anxious to learn more.

Merry has been a resident of Louisiana since 1976. Her husband is from New Orleans. When she graduated from LSU, they decided to stay in the area. She says, “Louisiana offers so much in the way of culture and diversity. We have things here you cannot find anywhere else in the world. It moves to a beat all its own.”

Merry has a second shop called Working the Stash. Here she carries destash supplies, which at the moment are rubber stamps. You can check it out here: http://www.workingthestash.etsy.com/

When asked if she had any advice for other sellers, Merry says,“I guess I would say make what you love. I am not one to make a piece purely because it might sell, or to follow a trend. I want to make jewelry that will be lovely long after the trends have changed.”

Come visit with Merry! You can find her here... http://www.cheeseandchocolate.etsy.com/
Cheese and Chocolate fan page on Facebook

~~Article Written by DazzleMe

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Where Are We As a Team?

GROWING! Our member list has grown especially in the last few days! I want to welcome ALL our new members and encourage you to get active in the forums. Though our team only requires you to post once per month in the forums, in order to build a stronger team it helps to get to KNOW one another through posts. To help us find your wonderful items, please tag your items with "handmadelouisiana" on any venue you sell on. If you do not sell online, but instead locally or in person, please let me know and I can direct you to our design of business cards and I can create fliers and handouts for you!

If you have not already done so, please make sure your contact info is up to date with Merry. She's out of town at the moment but you can find her at www.cheeseandchocolate.etsy.com and she'll hook you up! We want to make sure our members blogs, sites, etc are all up to date on this blog!

What are our plans for the group for the year?
*Continued monthly meetings, bi-monthly when possible
*Possible charity sampler box sale.
*Advertising, current advertising on BHRBazaar, BHRArtisan Directory and widgets are available for our team for you to promote on blogs and websites.
*Possible teaming up for local craft shows.

We are still a 'baby', born in April, and I love to see growth, ideas, and fun! Our meetings are usually very rewarding and I love getting to talk with fellow artisans who GET it!

I'd also like to officially introduce our official blog authors:
LisaRaspino, is one of the co-founders of Handmade Louisiana, and the blog 'captain' as I like to say.
SayAnythingNotes/Sarah, is a fantastic paper artist and will be writing mostly about artisan features, the local scene and music features (and whatever else floats her boat!)
DazzleMe/Linda, is a multi-talented lady who's photography we've featured here on the blog. She'll also handle artisan features and Inspirational quotes and Wordless Wednesdays (or whatever day we feel like doing it!)

Thank you so much ladies for your hard work and I encourage everyone to share this blog with everyone they can!

Long live Handmade Louisiana!!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Member Artisan Feature: Girls Love Bows

The shop name of this Artisan Feature pretty much says it all,
Girls Love Bows!

Do they ever! Girls Love Bows provides us with all we could ever want in Hair Bows and Ribbon Accessories. Shop owner, T. J. Starkey, writes on her Etsy Shop announcement, that her granddaughters are always requesting “no boring bows”! The bows made by T.J, are nowhere near boring. They are unique, creative, and even made-to order.

While T.J. has been crafting for over thirty years with quilts and other projects, she has been creating these colorful bows for the past four years and it has grown into the business it is today. I was not surprised to find out that her favorite piece is more of a collection really, the LSU bows. They are also her best sellers as they proudly support our local team!

Who would have guessed that making the bows is just as challenging as trying to get them in and out of a little girl's hair! Her biggest challenge is mixing and matching different solids and print ribbons. She is up for the match though! If you have a lonely outfit in need of a ribbon, Girls Love Bows, is the place to go.

There are always moments that make up for the biggest challenges though. “Seeing how the little girls react when they see my bows has to be my favorite thing. One gal that came up to my booth said ‘This is hair bow heaven!’ ”

What would she like to learn? T.J. would like to learn to add tole painting to ribbons. Right now she is currently working on adding monogramming to the ribbons and other projects.

Girls Love Bows is a proud member of Handmade Louisiana. T.J. lives in Hammond, Louisiana on seven acres, surrounded by beautiful live oaks and magnolia trees... “they are captivating and give me such peace…I could spend hours among them.”

T.J. also finds another form of peace with her crafting. She is a West Nile patient and has been asked to speak at the state and national level for mosquito control and West Nile awareness. T.J. has also been featured on local TV. stations, many newspapers, and The Readers Digest, all in the effort to bring more awareness to the front. She is currently in a wheelchair, but is walking more and more.

Daily exercise is building her strength. Building her inner strength and supporting her along the way are her ten grandchildren, that she says help “challenge her muscles”! She has her own gym and has worked with a personal trainer - she is a fighter!

Don’t forget her husband! She calls him her biggest “cheerleader/encourager”. One would think you’d have to be with that many bows around! But truly, she says her husband's support has been essential to her business success!

“Making the hair bows is a wonderful craft that I can do in my spare time: it helps keep me busy, entertained and I feel like I can accomplish something (boosting my self-worth and contributing financially).”

Girls Love Bows sells both retail and wholesale…Look for T.J. at your local craft shows!!!

To Contact Girls Love Bows, Please Visit her Etsy Shop

Courtesy of: www.marilynnarrington.etsy.com
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