Sunday, August 30, 2009

Treasured BBEST Friends

BBEST Blog Authors

This is a short, but sweet tribute
to the wonderful contributors
I have been privileged to work with
this past year as blog coordinator.

Judy Nolan has been generously kind
enough to take over the blog
reins for the new year.
Thank you all, and I look forward to
seeing both these and new authors'
articles in the months ahead.

Thank you to all who read and comment.
It's a considerable amount of work to create
a post, from choosing and developing a theme,
to composing the text and gathering the photos,
to cutting and pasting links.

I encourage you all to follow in the path
of our guest blog authors and volunteer
for at least one post this year.

Speaking now from my
experience in my
administrative seat, I add...
if writing a post is not your
forte, there are many ways
you can contribute to the
continuing success of
your BBEST group.

We have a large team and a vital
administration with a small core
of regular participants working
behind the scenes and I know you all
agree that the benefits of belonging
to this particular etsy team are,
for lack of a better descriptor, priceless.

Now we welcome a new team leader, Nonnie.
Please take a few minutes of your time
and think about how you can
more actively
share your talents
with your bbest friends.

It's rewarding. It's inspiring.
It's fun.
But most of all,
it's what makes a team a team.

It's a win, win, win situation.

Until next time...


ps. thewildhare, a wonderful guest author,
is missing from my treasury
only because her shop is on vacation.
I tried to grab a sold, but that doesn't work.
When the treasury opens, and I grab a spot,
I will announce this
one on the weekly thread.

Thank you all, again, for your support this past year.
Here's to the future.
Best wishes, Nonnie and Judy
and to all who contribute to this truly great team.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Artist dates & blog inspiration, part 2

In my last blog post I discussed the importance of taking a creative timeout by reading inspirational blogs. Fortunately, on our BBEST team, we are blessed with a wealth of these! Today’s post will highlight the blogs of Gunnel of gunnelsvensson, AJ of AromaFields, and Zuda of ZudaGay.

Gunnel, who resides in Sweden, recently re-opened her Etsy shop which features art quilts and contemporary embroidery, fabric collage and mixed media collage. She is a prolific blogger with 445 posts, as of today, going back to 2006. While the bilingual posts in Gunnel’s blog make it easy for you to follow her creative journey, what really draws you to her blog is the plethora of photos she takes of her breathtakingly beautiful work. She dyes much of the fabric with which she works, and enjoys creating a vintage look using lace, buttons and other embellishments. In her most recent post, she describes an art quilt that was previously featured in two exhibitions, but is now available in her shop. “It is old linen wich I have rust dyed and several layers of cheesecloth and vintage lace,” she writes. Her interesting quilt also incorporates a vintage letter and vintage button.

Gunnel is an expert at using the Embellisher, a needle felting machine by Babylock that imbeds fiber in fabric. Inspired by nature, she takes lots of photos while taking walks, then incorporates her discoveries in her work. In the blog bittersweet, textile artist Morna Crites-Moore features Gunnel’s needle felted "summerembroidery 2," which looks very much like a summer meadow in bloom.

Besides specializing in mini art quilts, Gunnel enjoys creating fabric post cards. She has participated in post card and ATC (Artist Trading Card) swaps, and writes about them frequently in her blog. In her shop, you will also see examples of her fabric post cards.

Another BBEST blogger, AJ of ajscountrycottage, tickles our taste buds with recipes such as Dairy-Free Fruit Smoothies and Summer Bounty Pasta, and makes our fingers itch to experiment with yarn when she compares knitting to crochet in a post about self-striping yarns.

Knitting vs. Crocheting, by ajscountrycottage

AJ, whose Etsy shop features her aromatic candles and soap, says that fall is her favorite season. “The weather is cooler and drier. Nights are mellow,” she writes. “I adore the scents associated with fall.” She points out that her new Bartlett Pear candle highlights all the scents of fall because it is “strong, juicy, and tart.” She is so passionate about candle making that AJ invites her readers to learn about what she does through a blog tutorial: Tutorial - How to Make Votive Candles and Votive Tutorial, Part 2.

In addition to being a member of the BBEST team, AJ belongs to the KC (Kansas City) Etsy Team. This team is currently sponsoring a Countdown to Christmas, or 18 consecutive weeks of blog giveaways. Although one lucky person is already the recipient of a free bar of soap from AJ, you can visit the KC Etsy Team blog and learn about other holiday giveaways. Most importantly, though, make sure you visit AJ’s shop frequently, since she is always coming out with new scents.

Last, but not least among today’s featured bloggers is Zuda of ZudaGay, whose polymer clay sculpted flower pendants and focal beads delight us visually. Zuda recently reached an important milestone, her 1000th sale, so she is delighted to share her happiness about this event with all of us by offering three free giveaways from her Etsy shop via her blog, Clay In the Hands. You can read about the details here.

The detail that Zuda devotes to her intricate flowers is evident as she shares with us a little bit about her creative process in A Little Leaf Tutorial. Using a series of photographs, she demonstrates how to roll, flatten and shape a leaf, then carve veins into it with a needle tool.

Besides including photos in her blog of a wide variety of her focal beads, pendants and brooches, Zuda introduces us to other artists—polymer clay and otherwise— by featuring them in her posts. Some of these include Arlene of Harrison Hollow Designs, Eugena of Eugena’s Creations, and Vicki of EllieLee. Mostly, though, I enjoy visiting Zuda’s blog to see what new products she is developing. With fall just around the corner and December a few months down the road, you can be sure that Zuda will be amazing us soon with more delightful creations.

While you’re browsing through the blogs of Gunnel, AJ and Zuda, I’m sure you’ll be inspired to approach your own creative projects with renewed energy. Be sure to look for my next post that will highlight three more BBEST bloggers who will stimulate your creativity.

© 2009 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved. Please note that the images in this post are owned by the artists and may not be used without permission. Simultaneously published at

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sally Starts Early!

Sally was coming over. Believe it or not, she was going to start her online Christmas shopping already, and wanted some ideas from me.

"Come right in!" I smiled, as I opened the door at the sound of the bell.

"I'm so glad you are going to help me," Sally said. "I love seeing what your Bbest team members have for sale. You know I'm shopping for some friends that have favorite colors, don't you?" she asked.

"Yes, that's what you said," I responded. "And what colors are you looking for today?" I queried.

"Well, Susie loves red. Lisa's favorite is blue. And Maggie's favorite is purple," Sally replied.

"Oh, do I have some great things for you to look at!" I said excitedly. "Let's start with red," I continued.

Boston, MA

Kansas City, MO

Philadelphia, PA

East Lansing, MI
Danville, PA
Durham, NC
"Those are simply gorgeous!" exclaimed Sally. "It will be so hard to choose just one," she said.
"Well, that isn't everything there is in red," I responded. "All you have to do is go to Etsy and type in Bbest team red, and you can see lots more selections in red," I added.
"What about the blue?" asked Sally.
"Let's check those out now," I answered.
Crawfordsville, IN
Wisconsin Dells, WI
East Dereham, United Kingdom
Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Warren, OH

Camp Point, IL

Raleigh, NC
"I love all of those, too," whispered Sally. "They are all simply beautiful. I can't wait to see what you have chosen in purple!" she said.

Pittsburgh, PA

York, PA
Urbandale, IA

West Sussex, United Kingdom

Hartsdale, NY

Fleet Hampshire, United Kingdom

Pittsboro, NC
"Well, I just don't know what do say," said Sally. "Everything is so beautiful, and you tell me there are more I can go see. How will I ever choose? asked Sally.
"Guess you'll just have to get them all!" I laughed.
"Wish I could, wish I could," sighed Sally. "But, all this shopping has made me hungry!" Sally said, licking her lips.
"Come on," I grinned. "I'll treat you to a chocolate sundae at our favorite ice cream place."
"Mmmmmmmm!" said Sally, as she headed for the door. "We can't get there fast enough for me!"
(This blogpost also published at

Friday, August 21, 2009

New lives for old friends

It's funny how one small event can ripple out into a series of larger actions. A couple of months ago, my teenage son said he was interested in some audio equipment with which to expand his hobby of making electronic music. We went to the store "just to look" at some items that were on sale. A day later we had two new, fairly large speakers (called monitors for audio composition), and my son and my husband were discussing building a small music studio in the basement. Suddenly, trips to the hardware store were happening and plans were being sketched for this project; my husband's vacation week turned into handyman week. Since a corner of the basement would soon be a room, the things in that area would need to be moved and rearranged to make more space. A basement clean-out was not necessarily what I had planned to do that week, but soon I was sifting through old toys and boxes of odds and ends, sorting what we wanted to keep and setting aside what needed to find new homes.

I admit that something happens in my brain when I start cleaning out old stuff: I become a little crazed and I start looking at other areas of the house to declutter as well. Now, to be fair, we don't have that much clutter left because I dispatched quite a number of things in the last two years. Yet somehow new things sneak in when I am not looking, so there are always items to re-evaluate for necessity. After I reordered the basement, I moved upstairs to tackle the kids books in the master bedroom bookcases to make room for my new weaving yarns. Then, because we needed furniture to support the audio equipment in the new studio, my next task was to clear out two small desks in my son's room so these could be moved downstairs. In turn, desk organizers filled with pencils and knickknacks, boxes of pens and paper clips, and folders with homeschool papers needed to be gone through, so they were moved into my craft room for sorting. As you can probably guess, this prompted me to reorganize my craft area as well. The initial "let's go look at speakers" suggestion cascaded into a housecleaning frenzy!

Now, some of you may wonder what happened to all those books, toys, craft items, and odds and ends that didn't make the "keep pile" cut. It can be daunting to find places to get rid of old miscellany. Having a yard sale is an option, but I usually want the item to be out of the house quickly; I don't want to wait to have a yard sale, and it's more work than the item is worth to try to sell it unless the item in question is a desirable vintage piece or an antique. Putting unwanted things at the end of the driveway with a "free" sign works for some but only if there is a lot of passing traffic, and as long as it doesn't rain unexpectedly. Donations to charities are great, but I always wondered if the items I donated actually went to any good use, or did they sit in a warehouse gathering dust? Furthermore, charities can be picky about what they will accept. I really hate throwing away things if someone, somewhere can use them. So how do you find recipients for your giveaway items, especially if the odds and ends you have are actually, well...a little odd? If you don't already know about Freecycle ( I would heartily recommend it as a great way to get your unwanted and unneeded things directly to people who can use them. The old phrase, "One man's junk is another man's treasure" is really true! It is amazing what things I have been able to relocate via this email network. I've received a few things this way too. For example, in the course of setting up the music studio we thought a corner desk would be the best way to organize some of the audio equipment. By serendipity, a day later, a post came through Freecycle offering a corner desk for immediate pick up. We were lucky to be the first respondents and soon we had the desk we needed. On occasion we have given to and received from the same person, thus establishing a little bit of community rapport, which is nice.

Everything on Freecycle is FREE. It sounds obvious, but it is worth repeating. No money is exchanged. Freecycle's mission statement "is to build a worldwide gifting movement that reduces waste, saves precious resources & eases the burden in our landfills while enabling our members to benefit from the strength of a larger community." How does it work? Go to and locate a network (or networks) in your local area. Sign up for the Yahoo! Groups email list for that network. Start receiving and reading the posts which include offers for items being given away and requests for things needed. You respond directly to individuals whether you are on the giving or receiving end. Once you connect with someone, you come to a mutually agreeable arrangement of when and where to meet to exchange items, or you can put the item out in front or your house for pick up. I prefer the first option since I like to meet in a public place and I do not like to give out my home address to strangers. Granted, with this system there have sometimes been mix-ups or bad experiences have been reported, but overall I have found it a great way to give new life to my old things. Giving one of your items to a person who needs it has a great ripple effect in a very positive direction: you never know what your one action will do to change another person's life or encourage them to give to someone else. Definitely do read the FAQs at the Freecycle site before joining a group to make sure you understand how it works and know the caveats for participation.

Clearing our your old stuff can be quite liberating; I always feel better after a good decluttering session. But if you aren't quite ready to give away some of those old bits and pieces, or if you are inclined towards crafting, then you might want to be creative and recycle or upcycle them into something new. You can also use and refurbish items from yard sales and Freecycle for this purpose. If you love the idea of recycling and repurposing old materials but you don't have the time for or interest in doing it yourself, then you'll have fun browsing all the wonderful BBEST creations on Etsy that incorporate vintage elements, recycled parts, and components that someone else may have wanted to discard.

Here are just a few of the imaginative ways BBEST artisans have rejuvenated old treasures.

Monday, August 17, 2009

I is for......

Today for something different!  I is for 'is it or isn't it?'.  The thing about writing for this blog is that every now and then you have complete control over the content!  So let's use this post to enter into some controversy....


The seven colours of the rainbow are well known, however, did you know that many people do not regard Indogo as a colour?

Dyeing with indigo is thought to have originated in India.  In fact, the Greek word for dye (indikon) comes from this root, and so too does the Roman term (indicum) which is the root of the English word Indigo.  Isaac Newton included it in his classification of the rainbow, but modern experts in colour now regard it as being somewhere between blue and violet.  So, is it or isn't it?  What do you think?  You can read more about it on Wikipedia

Whether it qualifies or not, I have to say that there are some lovely indigo items to be found from the Bbest team.  .These are the ones I found today.


How about this lovely dark vintage bag from bytheway?
 Or this beautiful silk scarf from expert silk painter ColoursandTextures?
What about this lovely bag made by FantasyCreation?

And lastly, but by no means least, these Indigo earrings from jemsbyjbandcompany.

As an aside, however, it is important and interesting to note that indigo plant is not in fact a dye but a pigment.  The pigment does not actually enter into the fibres of the item being coloured but adheres to the outside.  This is why indigo coloured jeans lose their colour - by friction rather than through washing.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Artist dates & blog inspiration, part 1

In my previous post, I discussed the need for a creative timeout, or—as author Julia Cameron calls it, an “Artist Date”—to explore our sensory world, thus stocking our idea storehouse. Because we don’t always have the resources or the time to visit different places, one way of carving inspirational time for ourselves is to read other artists’ blogs. According to Tara Frey in Blogging for Bliss, “Creative blogs are wonderful and welcoming places, introducing countless avenues to express one’s passions.”

While this post is certainly not long enough to recognize all of the BBEST blogs whose visitors would consider them to be Artist Dates, here are three that are worth your attention. Over the next few BBEST blog posts, I will highlight a few others. Prepare yourself to be entertained, inspired and educated as you visit the blogs of kimbuktu, CoffeePotPeople and lizplummer.

Kym of kimbuktu devotes an entire section of her Web site to “Twelve Months,” a description of her creative journey during the last 12 months. Her beautiful Joanne Watercolor Bag and African Quilt, for example, challenge fabricholics to dig through their fabric stockpile or local quilt shop for colors and patterns that fit a specific theme. Kym’s projects include bags and quilts, journals and jumpers, place mats, paper crafts and much more. In another part of her Web site, Kym provides tutorials that will encourage you to make your very own Origami page corners, alter a tin container to become a coin purse, or learn how to do free motion quilting on a standard sewing machine. Artist profiles are in another section of the Web site; Kym has featured a number of BBEST artists.

In her shop announcement, Ani of CoffeePotPeople tells us, "They say, 'Earth laughs in flowers.' I want to give it something to laugh at!" Her blog certainly matches this statement with photos of her imaginative coffee pot and tea kettle people. She also tickles our taste buds with a recipe for Chicken Alfredo, and provides an account of a visit to the 12th Annual North Plains Elephant Garlic Festival in "Fun Stinks." You never quite know what to expect from Ani on her blog, which is fun, inspiring and educational. Yes, Ani includes some tutorials, too, among them Ice Cream, No Machine! and Shank Button Earrings.

The queen of textile techniques is Liz Plummer, whose blog, Dreaming Spirals, provides both written and photographic evidence about what inspires her, and about her creative explorations. Spinning, Gocco printing, printing with a pasta maker, dyeing, embossing, and painting with acrylics on fabric represent just a few of Liz’s experiments. If you click on “Archives” at the top of her blog, you will be able to locate posts on specific topics. Even if you never explore these areas yourself, you will be inspired by Liz’s energy and her dedication to learning.

Stay tuned for future posts about inspirational BBEST bloggers!

© 2009 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved. Please note that the images in this post are owned by the artists and may not be used without permission. Simultaneously published at