Friday, December 23, 2011

I'm Dreaming of a Green Chirstmas


This time of year is all about more: more love, more fun, more food, more drink, more gifts, more consumption, more waste. What's an environmentalist to do? Not love more, not eat more, not give at all? No, we just have to be smarter about want we buy and how we dispose of the leftovers.

We can use the 3 Rs to combat the massive amounts of waste after our festive time is over.

Reuse: Last year, I went to the dollar store and invested in a package of colorful paper bags. I say invested because I plan to use them over and over and over. I also bought colored tissue paper. I wrapped the gifts in the tissue paper and stuck them in the bags. I saved time and money AND the environment because it took so much less time to wrap, I'll use the bags until they fall apart. After gifts were opened, I collected them up and re-used them this year. I even left the name tags on and matched them to gifts and people again.

Recycled: Don't what to use the same bags over and over, or even take off the used wrapping paper and carefully keep it for the next year? There is super fun 100% recycled gift wrap. Green Field Paper Company is just one corporation that offers this option. Cheery snowflakes and whimsical trees are too cute to pass up. (In addition, they offer cards and tags and hemp paper, oh my!)

Recycle: Separate paper waste from the actual trash. Recycle the paper waste, or perhaps save it. Planning on moving? This is better than newsprint for dishes! Or, shredding it and saving for packing materials for future mailings. The shredded paper can also be used in an animal's cage for bedding. I know my childhood hamster would have loved this colorful confetti.

Reuse: Save the wrapping paper, bags and tissue paper for future use. I used to meticulously take wrapping paper off presents, take off the tape, flatten out the paper and save it. My family seemed to think this was more time consuming than need be. So, I rip it all off, but save it to stuff some of my purses.

What about the old versions that new gifts will replace? If still in good condition, most could be donated to worthy causes.

Reduce: Electronics, such as a tv, iPod, cell phone or a computer in working condition can be donated to thrift stores to be re-sold, or perhaps even sold on eBay or Craigslist. (Remember to wipe your drives clean before donation or selling.) Several major department stores have collection areas that will take some small electronics. Check Target, Best Buy or Staples, for example. Or, save these for a future electronics donation drive. Schools and scouts often organize electronic fundraising drives that collect electronics and essentially are sold to a third party company. Your child's school is not planning such a fundraising drive? Why not organize it yourself?

Reuse: Got new pjs, t-shirts, ties, socks or slippers? If the older ones are in good condition, they could be donated. Look for homeless shelters and relocation organizations. If not usable, cut up old clothing, flannel pjs, sheets, t-shirts to use as cleaning rags.

I recently cut up a pair of old flannel pajamas because they didn't fit anymore. Flannel is super soft, absorbent and washable. These make great rags for emergency clean up of spills and can do hard time for heavy duty scrubbing.


There is a year end Japanese tradition called oosoji "which means extensive cleaning." These rags are going to be used for my very own oosoji!

Reuse, Recycle: New towels and sheets donning your racks and beds? Donate old sheets, towels, bathmats and the like to animal shelters. Often, the budget for the care of such places does not cover luxuries like cage liners and comfy blankets. Check with your local shelters for details or check this website.

Reuse: Got a gift basket of new fancy soaps, shampoo and body wash? If you have older full bottles, they can often be donate to local homeless shelters. However, your partial used soaps can be donated too! Clean the World accepts used soaps and such, clean and distribute it to "impoverished people, prevent the millions of deaths caused by hygiene-related illnesses every day." YOUR new gift could mean someone's clean hands!

Reduce: Kids got too many toys? They don't even play with all the plays they have? Research a local nursery school that might need a new load of play things, or may know a family that could use some new ones too.

This is *just a few* suggestions of how to reduce, recycle or reuse the waste from our festive celebrations. Also, don't forget the artists!! Pretty much everything I've listed here could be an art supply. Check with your local art center to get rid of some them!

How do you reduce waste? Add a comment to this blog post or leave one on the link on the Jen-A-Fusion Facebook page and pass along some knowledge to others!

The most happiest of holidays to you and yours! ~Jen

Monday, November 21, 2011

Black Friday at The Workhouse Arts Center


On Friday, November 25, as you are waking up out of your turkey stupor, and not sure what to do with your out of town relatives, plan a day of relaxing among beautiful artwork, instead of driving around parking lots for hours and standing in long lines, just to purchase hum drum gifts.

Come to The Workhouse Arts Center for a full day of shopping. Artists will be on hand to talk about their work and assist in selections. Drinks and light snacks will be available for purchase. There are family friendly activities as well, so everyone is invited!

We have a variety of activities for the whole family. The fun starts in my building, #9, at 9am! We open a full two hours earlier than the rest of the complex for the early birds out there. Then move a few doors down to the Glass Hot Shop for demonstrations. There will be an all day food drive in Building 4, as well as pictures with Santa from 11am-3pm in Building 3. The wonderful day will end at with a tree lighting ceremony at 5pm in the quad, followed by the opening reception for The Art of Fiber exhibit in Building 16.

The complete list is on The Workhouse website. PLUS, I'm sure there will be some impromptu surprises that will pop up. Come early and stay all day!

Hope to see you there! ~Jen

Green Tip~ Rent a Christmas Tree!

Sadly, most of the folks reading this will not be able to do that. Like many great eco ideas, this one started on the 'left coast'. Companies in the Portland, OR and San Francisco areas can rent potted christmas trees, only for the length of the season. They are no cut down to die, nor made from petroleum based plastics. Perhaps by this time next year, someone in your area will be offering this service!

OR, you could make your own recycled christmas tree, like this one by artist Hadas Itzcovitch, installed in the city of Haifa, Israel.
Click here to learn more about this tree.

Happy Holidays to all!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

November Artist of the Month~ Lauren Beacham, jerseymaids


With all that is going on in the world economy today, it is so *great* to see someone who can step out of a comfortable spot in life and follow their (he)art in a full time business. Lauren Beacham is a craftsperson who focuses on items made from the images of her Polaroid photography. This creates a truly unique look as no one else will have these photographs. Earlier this year, she made the huge step to focus on her craft full time.


Read on to find out what other life decision has been shaping her product line.

Q~ How did you get started?

A~ I got started on my first piece of functional art when I went on a fruitless search for Polaroid jewelry, coming up empty handed. With that disappointment, I decided to make my own using my Polaroids on shrink plastic and they were adorable! I got so many compliments, gave a number of them as gifts and I finally realized I could probably try selling them. What would it hurt? So the jerseymaids shop on Etsy was born in July 2007. Since then, it's been quite an adventure.

Q~ Do you have any special training or education?

A~ I have a bachelor's degree in photography and computer imaging.


Q~ Do you have a favorite material, medium or substrate you love to work with?

A~ Being a photographer at heart, Polaroid film is my number one favorite tool to use and it's the film I use exclusively in all of my public work. The medium produces a nostalgic dream-like world that has always captivated me. Merging these images with vintage and antique inspired materials, such as jewelry, results in a very fun and easily enjoyable line of products.


Q~ Why do you continue?

A~ For the sheer love of it and the knowledge that I would not function as a normal human being if I didn't. That love and drive has also brought me to a point in my life and business where I was able to leave my job and focus on my art as my entire livelihood.

Q~ What is a greatest success story?

A~ For me, thus far, my greatest success was coming to the realization that I could do this for a living. The preparation time was stressful and full of doubt. When I finally made the plunge in July of 2011, it has been nothing but an uphill journey since. Knowing I can pay the bills, put food on the table and still have some left over based on my hard work is the most gratifying feeling in the world. And I got here on my own terms - without depending on anyone else.


Q~ Where are you based?

A~ I'm in the DC metro area, Frederick Maryland to be exact.

Q~ Where would you live if you could live anywhere?

A~ I actually really love where I live right now. It's a big city with a small town feel and a great community - particularly in the arts. It has everything we need and love - great food, good friends, easy access to DC, Baltimore and family. So, right now, I can honestly say I don't have an enormous desire to LIVE anywhere else. Although I am dying to go spend a bout of time in Italy.


Q~ What would you be doing if not this?

A~ If not doing this, I would probably continue down the career path I began on - in the gallery directing and curating line of work. Right out of college I had the good fortune to be hired as a gallery director in a great place in Frederick (which is what brought me here in the first place.) Without being given the opportunity and gaining the experience I did, I really believe I would not have been nearly as successful as I have been. Seeing the world of art from a business perspective, while maybe a harsh awakening to the starry eyed art student, was a very important bundle of knowledge I needed to have in order to succeed.

Q~ What is next?

A~ Next? Well...as jerseymaids, I'm extremely excited about the holidays. This is the first year I've offered personalized items in my shop and think they will be a booming success this holiday season. My wedding line has been a great new success for me this year, so I plan on giving that more attention in the coming months. I also hope to push myself outside the box for shows in 2012, trying new things I had not thought of before.

For me personally, I just got engaged! So the new year will also be full of lots of wedding planning, crafting parties, and getting ready to share the rest of my life with the man I love. All very happy and exciting things :)



Contact Lauren on the following websites:

Website: www.laurenbeacham.com

Shop: www.jerseymaidshop.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/jerseymaids

Blog: www.laurenbeacham.com/blog

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jerseymaids

Email: lauren@laurenbeacham.com

Now that you know more, and since you just *have* to order something, Lauren is offering 15% off for the month of November on everything. Order through her Etsy shop and use the coupon code “happyholidays”, valid only November 1-30. Personalized, handcrafted jewelry? Who wouldn’t want that!

Isn’t it curious that Lauren’s wedding line just happened to be popular the year she gets engaged? Perhaps in a few years, the baby picture items will be taking off!




There has been an image flying around online lately:



While we all can’t help but shop at a few ‘big box’ stores, this holiday season, perhaps we can also try to frequent some smaller stores and boutiques, support artists and local businesses. Look around your neighborhood, where you live and work. Has a new business opened recently? This holiday season will be of the utmost importance for them. Help make the business solvent by supporting them in your shopping decisions.

I’ve already started my shopping by getting some earrings from Lauren, as well as a custom made book from Sande’s Handmade Books, some bath products from Interlaken Soak Company and soap from the Bunny Butt Apothecary. I love giving special, hand crafted items to people I love, as I think those things are more personal and endearing.


Buying from local craftspeople and business helps keeps your dollars local, where it matters most!

Happy shopping! ~Jen

Green Tip~ Save time and money at crafts shows this holiday season
There is probably a school or synagogue or community center in your neighborhood that is having a craft show or holiday bazaar in the next few months. In shopping there, you are supporting the crafters, that organization and the community at large. Save time and money with one stop shopping, instead of driving all around town!

Friday, September 30, 2011

October Artist of the Month~ Nancy Nelson


From the earliest cave paintings in Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc, to Monet's water lilies, to modern ambient music, artists and designers have always been inspired by nature. Artist of the Month, Nancy Nelson, is one of those whose work so closely mimics nature's bounty that she uses cast twigs and branches in her work. After living in the metro DC, Nancy and her husband, (also her high school sweetheart), moved to the idealic countryside. This allowed Nancy to be surrounded by the things that she loves and inspires her: nature and her growing family.

One can see how these both influence her work. "Rain Drops" is a necklace with sparkling gemstones suspended from a rustic silver twig. "My Lovely Photo" is a tiny framed photo of a cherished one, strung on a delicate chain. "Lichen Earrings" are literally the lichen off an oak tree that has been cast in copper. Her whole catalog is like a walk through the forest on a crisp fall day. Likewise, this work is as timeless as the natural items it is inspired by.

Like her jewelry, Nancy is simply elegant and just purely sweet. Over the years that I've known Nancy and her husband, they are still some of the nicest people I've had the luck to spend a show next to. I've fallen more in love with her work as I've seen it develop. I have at least a handful of things on my christmas list, just from writing this blog post!

Read on to find out more about how Nancy balances nurturing two young girls *and* a growing business.


Q~ How did you get started?

A~ Well, besides for the yearning desire to become my own boss? My husband’s job transferred us to West Virginia. Due to this move, I was able to become a full time mom while trying to grow the business.

Q~ Do you have any special training or education?

A~ While obtaining my BFA in Industrial Design, I enrolled in a metalsmithing class. I was soon hooked and took as many classes I could before I graduated.

Q~ Do you have a favorite material, medium or substrate you love to work with?

A~ METAL. I mostly work in Sterling Silver but I have been exploring more with copper due to the rising costs of Silver and Gold.


Q~Why do you continue?

A~ That’s easy. Family, Passion & the Challenge.

Q~ What is a great(or greatest) success story?

A~ I like to think that success is measured in happiness. In those terms, I feel very successful. But, I guess my greatest business success story came recently when Anthropologie and Uncommon Goods both placed orders within the same week. Getting my jewelry into Antropologie has been my dream since I started the business.

Between building a new house and having two small children, my business always took a backseat. I vowed that 2011 would be the year I grow the business, or shall I say, “branch out”. These two orders validated that my hard work, dedication, a little luck & all the dreaming were paying off. :) However, every purchase no matter how small, large, online or in person is very special to me. It reassures me that people do like my product and I can turn my passion in to my lifelong career. I give thanks daily and never take anything for granted.

Q~What is one of your greatest failures?

A~ There have been many but I have learned so much from each one.

“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” Albert Einstein

Q~Where do you get your inspiration?

A~ The beauty that surrounds us --from the handpicked twig from my backyard to the laughter and curiosity of my children. I find inspiration to be everywhere if you choose to notice.


Q~Why do you make/create what you do?

A~ It is like breathing to me. I can’t image doing anything more natural than working with my hands and design.

Q~What is one thing you love about your business?

A~ That I am in totally control of my schedule. I can sleep in with my children, which usually never happens. We can stay in our pajamas all morning if we want. I can turn it all off and just spend time with my family and work when all is quiet and calm.

Q~What is next?

A~ Who knows, but I would like to think I will be creating jewelry long into my 80’s. I would like to get involved in more charity work and giving back to my community. :I have teamed up with Caitlin's Smiles, a non-profit organization and will be designing a tribute necklace within the next month of two. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to help put smiles and laughter on children facing chronic or life threatening illnesses.

Q~ Glass half full or half empty?

A~ Half Full!

You can check out Nancy's *wonderful* website at www.nancynelsonjewelry.com. There is a full catalog of jewelry, as well as a list of store that carry her work.

Nancy Nelson Jewelry can also be found on facebook and twitter.

AND, you can meet Nancy in person and see her lovely designs for yourself. This weekend, she will be at:

Art on the Avenue Arts & Music Festival
October 1st
Mt. Vernon Ave. in Del Ray
Alexandria, VA
Booth # W131


Along with Nancy, there will be about 300 other artists, designers and craftspeople over taking MY neighborhood of Del Ray! There are kids games, a pie making contest, doddie treats, handcrafted custard, fresh brewed coffee, lots of local music and perhaps you?

I will be in spot W53, between E. Custis and Windsor. Check out the official Art on the Avenue website for information about taking metro, the festival map and music schedule. See you there! ~Jen

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

August Artist of the Month~ Sahabo (Crazy Good Books)



If it is not quite obvious by now, then I'll say it again: I like when artists, designers and major corporations make products out of recycled materials. I love it when they do it well. That was the first and foremost thing I noticed about the Sahabo books when I first met Sande Edwards~ how well designed and made her books are. The idea behind the album books is awesome (records into books) and she does it so very well. It is clear to anyone that there was a lot of time and thought put into them, and the result is one great product.

I also love that Sande has taken her designer's mind and eye to book making and has come up with very inventive pieces, such as the Polaroid photo album. And, the mini books? My heart swoons!

Read on to learn Sande's friend making tips~

Q~How did you get started?

A~My books began out of curiosity. I had a class assignment in college that required us to bind the information we were gathering into book form. We could choose how we bound it, whether professionally or by hand, so I starting researching all manner of book binding. I found the Coptic Stitch by accident but found that I couldn't use the technique for that particular project. I really wanted to learn the technique so once classes were out I started teaching myself the coptic stitch over the summer of 2010.

Q~ Do you have any special training or education?

A~I have a photography degree and design degrees from Northern Virginia Community College but I taught myself the coptic stitch through various videos and online tutorials. I have added most of my resources to my website so others can teach themselves as well. http://sahabo.com/videos

Q~ Do you have a favorite material, medium or substrate you love to work with?

A~I would say the vinyl records are by far the best material I have used to make books. I want to eventually use wooden boards, plexi glass, and grass/woven materials.



Q~Why do you continue?

A~I find the process very cathartic. After classes or work, it is the best method for me to release any pent up stress I may have accrued during the day.

Q~What is a great(or greatest) success story?

A~I have had some fairly large bulk orders of late: 10 Recycled Vinyl Record Journals to Canada and an Austrian Polaroid store bought 10 of my Polaroid photo albums



Q~ What is one of your greatest failures?

A~ “There are no failures - just experiences and your reactions to them.” Tom Krause

Q~ Where do you get your inspiration?

A~ Each book represent how I may feel at the time. I could be moody and create a rain journal or really happy and excited and make a bright and pretty journal with buttons. It really comes down to my mood at the time.

Q~Why do you make/create what you do?

A~I love to create and always have. I am just so glad I have happened upon a skill that really helps be express my artist abilities.

Q~ Where is your favorite place to sell? Or Favorite show?

A~ I just started doing craft shows at the end of last year, right before Christmas. One was really great and had my head dizzy with excitement but the second one was completely disappointing without a single sale. So when I went into 2011's craft season I had several shows on my calendar and a lot of doubts on my mind. I'm still in learning mode when it comes to working with the public and trying to sell myself and my goods to them.

I started on Etsy like so many others trying to sell their handmade items and have been fairly successful but I have also created a website tailored specifically to the books, the process, and myself and to separate my product form the others.

Q~ What is one thing you love about your business?

A~ I love coming home from my day job and sitting down to create a very special gift for someone out there in the world. If it's not a custom order I get to imagine any kind of person and design a book around that, giving the book a personality of its own.

Q~ What is one thing you loathe?

A~ There's a saying I often hear in a variety of situations: When it rains it pours! I can go over a week without a single order and really need the money to buy some sort of supply item. Then, all of the sudden, I will get 10 custom orders in at once and then have a show the next day and still have to work my regular job! I love the business but hate the stress!



Q~ What is your dream about your art?

A~ Of course I would love to one day make a living from making and selling books and book arts. To get up each morning and eat, breathe, and taste book making would be ideal.

Q~ If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

A~ Well, completely unrelated to any of this but I've always wanted to fly! I have dreams of flying but it's actually more like swimming in the air haha.

Q~ Where are you based?

A~ I am currently in South Arlington in Northern Virginia. But originally my longtime boyfriend and I are from Atlanta GA.

Q~ Where would you live if you could live anywhere?

A~ I really want to move to San Francisco CA. Though I've never been, in my mind it is the quintessential location based on weather and people personality.

Q~ What would you be doing if not this?

A~ During the day I am a graphic designer and I'm sure I would fill my time and my portfolio with freelance work.

Q~ What is next?

A~ I have no idea!



Q~ Glass half full or half empty?

A~ I wake up to a full glass and go to bed with a full belly after draining it.

Q~ What is your favorite question to ask people?

A~ What do you do? People love to talk about themselves and it makes it that much easier in social situations to learn about people and make friends!

Q~ What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?

A~ Ni!

Contact info:

WEB: www.sahabo.com
FB: http://on.fb.me/fQegaG
Tumblr: http://sahabo.tumblr.com
Flickr: http://bit.ly/px6DuO
email: sande@sahabo.com

Upcoming shows:

Small local shows:
Alexandria Art Market Saturday Aug 6th (Del Ray Neighborhood, Alexandria VA)
Fenton Street Market Saturday August 20th (Silver Spring MD)

Next Big Show:
Art on the Avenue Saturday Oct 1st (Del Ray Neighborhood, Alexandria VA)
Stay up-to-date with the Sahabo calendar!
http://sahabo.com/calendar



Green Tip~ Buy someone a Sahabo book as a gift!

Sande has a whole list of albums that she can make into books. Start your holiday shopping for all those hard to please family members by ordering today! The brother in law that hates everything but loves Foreigner? Done! Grandma who has everything, but loves pictures of her pekingese? Done! Dad who is obsessed with My Fair Lady? Already made (see above). Don't delay, supplies limited* and artist overworked.

*Titles, books and bad 80s bands are used for advertising and art frenzy inducing only and do not indicate the actual stock available for purchase. Void where prohibited by people who aren't cool.

Happy August! ~Jen

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Fun Finds at Artscape!

(Wiping sweat from brow)

Although it was a wonderful show, like always, I am glad it is over, before we got back into the 100s! (120 with the heat index, right now) It was great to see old friends and make some new ones. Being in the DIY section, I get a front seat to artists and designers that have some very cool stuff. Sadly, I did not get a chance to walk around this year, so really, my Artscape world was just the DIY section. However, I got a few cool things I'd like to share.


Made With Awesome


There are a ton of t-shirt designers and makers out there and I get to see a lot of them at shows. I decided to treat myself to a new t-shirt, because the one I had brought was going to be too heavy for the heat of the day. Made With Awesome was a brand I hadn't run across before. I thought their witty sayings and cute designs were something I could get into. I got right into The Bookworm's Haven.



Not only did the color match the capris I was going to wear, but I thought Little Mr. Worm was quite dashing. However, I might give him some headphones and make it The Audiobook Worm's Haven....

A.W.E. Jewelry

Deb was the Artist of the Month in December 2010 and I have been eying a few pieces for a long time. Deb and I don't cross paths as much as I would like, so I took advantage of seeing her to get a treat for myself.



As many of you know, I love circles. So, I felt I just had to get these very simple, very cute earrings. I've already been wearing the heck out of them, and I have a feeling they will be my go to earrings for the rest of the summer.

Bunny Butt Apothecary

My neighbor, Scott, was probably the most consummate professional I've ever met doing a market. He was polite, upbeat and patient. He stood almost the whole time, in jeans, while I was glued to my fan. He and his partner make and sell body products, mostly soap, under the guise of Bunny Butt Apothecary. Don't worry, they don't actually take it too seriously, their tag line is "serving half-assed hippies since the early 21st century."



Not only was I impressed by Scott's work ethic, but by their products too. The essential oils they use are clean and fresh. I already cracked open the coconut lemongrass lip balm. Feels like silk on, and makes me crave Thai food! Yum!

I did my annual christmas soap buying from Bunny Butt, and can't wait to give these goodies out! My only regret is I didn't buy from him earlier in the weekend and he was very low on inventory. Guess I'll just have to buy online...


Mal's Pals


Mallory Steele's hand felted creatures are very unique and colorful, things I like a lot. She takes fresh off the sheep, dirty and gross raw wool. She cleans it, cards it, dyes it and *then* hand felts it into her pals. I knew I had to take a new friend home with me. I have a collection of small things. It almost doesn't matter what those things are, they just have to be miniture versions of it. While I do have toys and doll house accessories, I have ceramic vases and hand crafted plushies. I am always on the look out to add to my collection.



I felt this picture did my new pal justice, as you can see how tiny it is! I'm in love with it and need a name. Any suggestions? :)

Well, that is my own re-cap of Artscape. While I did see crazy people dancing in 80s costumes, eat some yummy fries and have an adventure getting lost in Baltimore, these treasures I took home with me were by far the highlights of the whole weekend!

Stay cool out there! ~Jen

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Artscape This Weekend!


Please join Jen-A-Fusion, nearly 200 exhibitors and about 350,000 other people this weekend at Artscape, in the charming city of Baltimore. This is the nation's largest free arts festival and truly lives up to the LARGE part. Full of crafters, musicians, dancers, food vendors and so much more, this event showcases the arts in all it's forms. For three full days, several city streets are taken over. This year, the festival is celebrating the 30th anniversary with special 1980's themed events.

What: Artscape!

Where: Mt. Royal Avenue, Cathedral Street and Charles Streets

**I will be in the DIY section, space #C34. DIY is on Mt Royal Avenue, between Maryland and Charles Streets.

When:
Friday, July 15, noon-10pm
Saturday, July 16, noon-10pm
Sunday, July 17, noon-8pm

Who: So many cool and creative people!

Website: www.artscape.org

Hope to see you there! ~Jen

Green Tip~ Recycle, artistically!

Artscape realizes that with such a gigantic event, with so many vendors and visitors, there is a huge impact on the environment. There have been many great steps made to reduce this impact. For example, recycling bins are located in the food courts, as well as food waste bins. The food vendors collect their cooking grease and it will be turned into biodiesel. There is a bike parking lot too. Check at this page on the Artscape website for more information.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Artist of the Month~The Bumble Bee Studio



Contrary to people with a bee allergy, bees are a vital part of our environment. They are one of the biggest means that pollinate plants and help continue the reproductive cycle of life. Without them, we might not have enough plant matter at the lower levels of the food chain, effecting the upper levels~ us!

This article in the Guardian suggests some great ideas for encouraging and living a peaceful coexistence with bees, but it *does not* include buying a variety of items made from bees, other than honey. Beeswax is a non toxic, vastly renewable material that does not add to the use of more petroleum. There is a gigantic array of goods available, such as crayons, candles, furniture polish and all the great body products Julie Diers, our Artist of the Month makes. Purchasing these products supports these artisans, and encourages the art of bee keeping and thus is beneficial to our environment.

One thing I personally love about Julie's products is the thought and energy she puts into the packaging and merchandising of her items. The first time I met her, I was very impressed at the display she created. I truly felt like I was in a mini spa boutique. That luxurious feeling continues when you bring the goods home...

Read on to find out more about how you can bee beautiful and eco friendly at the same time!

Q~How did you get started?

A~Once i realized what was missing from my life was creating....as I had given it up slowly over time: stopped cooking, sewing, painting, designing....my martha-ness was dying off. My true ability is making things beautiful.....I am detail oriented, oh SURE, some say OCD....I say perfectionist – tomato tomotoe~~!

Once I started up again, my satisfaction with life improved...I was using my creative juices again. I found ME again. After that, bath & body just kind of found
ME....as it was destiny. I now do what I love and love what I do. Life is good. I am where I bee-long~~!

Q~ Do you have any special training or education?

A~None....is that wrong? I just google a lot and beg for secret recipes from those that DO know what they are doing. I have had some epic fails....but, from them I have learned.

Q~ Do you have a favorite material, medium or substrate you love to work with?

A~Lavender....beautiful, balancing, healing lavender.



Q~Why do you continue?

A~I am in it for the money. BIG money. That and to take Burt's Bees DOWN.

Q~What is your greatest success story?

A~My greatest success story is the BEE....it is all mine....it is all me. It is my life's passion. It has grown in leaps & bounds in a short 2 years...that I think is a huge success in & of itself.



Q~What is one of your greatest failures?

A~Ummm...that would be what is known as the “bubble bath debacle”~~! FAIL.

Q~Where do you get your inspiration?

A~From nature....I surround myself with it....from the beautiful place that I live, which is an 1800's cottage on a horse farm in the rolling hills of the Shenandoah Valley, to incorporating it into all that I create: using fresh botanicals, pure essential oils, fruit & nut oils & butters....nature's ingredients are what make the BEE the best BEE.

Q~Why do you make/create what you do?

A~It is what keeps me alive & well. Happy. Balanced...well, that may be pushing it a weeee bit. (=



Q~Where is your favorite place to sell? Or Favorite show?

A~My favorite place has to be the Goodstone Inn & Estate. Divine establishment that I can happily call the newest client of the BEE.

Q~What is one thing you love about your business?

A~That I can work at it 24/7 and not get sick of it. That I can live, eat & breathe it and still want more. I love that it makes people HAPPY....that I can teach them the benefits of lavender and the beautiful natural ingredients I use in my products. These are meant to pamper, soothe, heal and protect their skin and restore, relax and renew their mind, body and spirit.

Q~What is one thing you loathe?

A~hummm....I loathe the elements that take a toll on ME and my products at outdoor shows~~! But, as a starving artist....you do what you must, and until I grow into a big bee...I must~~!

Q~What is your dream about your art?

A~My dream is to do well enough at it to comfortably make a living doing it....and that along the way I can continue to teach others what I know to be true of the benefits of lavender and of good skin care regimens... preferably mine....buzzzz~~!

Q~ If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

A~To stop TIME so I can catch UP. I need to list to organize my to do lists~~!

Q~Where are you based?

A~The beautiful area of Millwood, Virginia

Q~Where would you live if you could live anywhere?

A~On a lavender farm in Washington State. Pure bliss.

Q~What would you be doing if not this?

A~THIS is my life and I could not begin to imagine doing anything else. Unless it was being a multi-millionaire and living LARGE.

Q~What is next?

A~Becoming a self-made multi-millionaire and living LARGE.

Q~ Glass half full or half empty?

A~Depends on my hormonal out-of-balanceness....could change within any given second. Right now it is pretty full....but give me a minute or two. What IS life without drama~??



Q~What is your favorite question to ask people?

A~My favorite q= “that is enough about me, what do YOU think about me”~?? still cracks me up.

Q~ What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen sparrow?

A~Quote fail? i think you mean swallow...and that depends if it is an
african or european swallow~~!! come on jen....quoting monty python
incorrectly is sacrilegious~~OR you tried to pull a fast one on the
Queen Bee~~! Tisk tisk.

**AUTHOR'S NOTE** Julie is RIGHT! It was more of a misspell than a misquote, but *no one* has seemed to have caught it and *told me* before. Kudos to Julie! She's one smart bee!

You can meet her in person this coming Sunday, July 3rd in Annapolis, MD at the First Sunday Arts Festival.

You can find more shows and products on the following sites:

Twitter: twitter.com/thebumblebee
Facebook: www.facebook.com/JulieDiers

Blog: thebumblebeestudio.blogspot.com
Website: www.thebumblebeestudio.com
Etsy: www.thebumblebeestudio.etsy.com

Bee happy and have a great 4th of July! ~Jen

Monday, June 20, 2011

This week at Studio 912



This month has literally flown by! I can barely believe I've been at The Workhouse for nearly three weeks. Moving, cleaning, organizing and *finally*, working has taken a lot of time and energy. I got busy over the weekend, though, and made some new purses in a colorway called Orange Crush, which is *bright* orange.

In cleaning out some fabric and trying to get a handle on what I own(HA!), I've found some very nice stuff that I totally forgot about. More fun purses and the like to come!

For this week, I plan to be at the Workhouse the follow hours:

Wednesday, June 22 11-2pm
Thursday, June 23 11am-7pm
Friday, June 24 11am-2pm
Saturday, June 25 11am-7pm
Sunday, June 26 noon-5pm

*The days I will be leaving at 2pm, you can still drop by and see Studio 912, but I just won't be there!

Also, some EXCITING NEWS! Two of my favorite festivals have accepted me back this year! Artscape and Arts on Foot are similar in that they embrace all arts forms- craft, dance, music, culinary and much more. However, you have to wait until September to see me at Arts on Foot in DC. You can come see me at Artscape next month in Baltimore. It will sure be HOT, FUN and FREAKY. You never know want might happen there! :) Looking forward to both.

The 411 on Artscape:

What: Artscape
America's largest free arts festival, attracting 350,000+ attendees over three days. Artscape features 150+ fine artists, fashion designers and craftspeople; visual art exhibits on and off-site.

When:
Friday, July 15 noon-10pm
Saturday, July 16 noon-10pm
Sunday, July 17 noon- 8pm

Where: DIY@Artscape, Space # C34
Mount Royal Avenue & Charles Street
Baltimore, Maryland

Website: www.artscape.org

Ok, now, off to make some great purses, hats and laptop bags for Artscape!

Keep cool out there~Jen

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

June Artist of the Month~ Fast Snail



Moms are magic and yours sounds extra wonderful. ~Liz Hutcheson


My mom *is* pretty wonderful. She is intelligent, passionate about history and books, has an insatiable thirst for trivial facts and loves to go explore. Like many mothers, she is a big supporter of her daughters and encourages them to push their boundaries. I have learned a lot from my mom over the years, least of which is to gain insight from mistakes and move forward.

When I went on a study aboard in the Fall of 2003, my mother decided to come and visit. As she had never been to Europe, we wanted to make the most of the time. I was living in London, which acted as a great springboard to many cities on the continent. Both being art lovers, we dreamed of going to the Louvre, and thus, did a long weekend in Paris.

When we arrived, my mom wanted to walk from our hotel to the Eiffel Tower. As I had done that once with friends, I knew the seemingly short distance was deceiving. However, we wanted to see the city, so decided to do the walk. Buildings loomed in the way as we got closer and closer to the famed edifice and we were unable to even glance a peak of it.

I knew we were getting close to it, but I wanted to surprise my mom. As we passed a building, she looked to her left, and I looked toward her. She stopped short and gasped, raising her hands to her face. "OH!," she said, with the delight of a child on christmas morning. I knew it was right there, but I was glad I was looking at the joy on her face, rather than at the tower.

Our trip to Paris was a wonderful time, where we explored an enchanting city together. It was the beginning of annual international trips for her and I was glad to be a part of infancy of her love of foreign travel.

Based on this trip, Paris in general, and the Eiffel Tower in particular, became a special bond between the two of us. Her birthday was last week, and I wanted to do something special for her.

Last Christmas, I got a set of Honey Tower notecards for my mom, who not only loves the tower, but bee motifs at large. It was the prefect combination of both things. And, I was right, mom said it was one of her favorite gifts, and I could stock her up with more cards anytime. However, she went one step further than that herself: she went on the Fast Snail website and ordered more right away!

Recently, I approached Liz Hutcheson, the creative force behind Fast Snail, to do something a little special. As I get the gift of gab from my mom, she needed a slightly bigger card to write on. I also thought she would like a personalized card with her name.

Liz was *wonderful* to work with, so very agreeable to the request. I love having a relationship with an artist, that I can work on a little project on with. I just knew my mom would be pleased, and I was so happy Liz could help me surprise her.

And, mom was very happily surprised! She said she couldn't wait to use the custom made cards.

Read on to find out how Liz comes up with her ideas and what she thinks about her ultimate inspiration, the Snail!



Q~How did you get started?

A~ I have been drawing and creating all kinds of things for as long as I can remember. My mother was an artist, so I guess that it is in my genes.

Q~ Do you have any special training or education?

A~ I majored in French and minored in Studio Art in college. Since then, I’ve taken classes at the Corcoran School of Art in drawing, oil and watercolor painting, and digital art.



Q~ Do you have a favorite material, medium or substrate you love to work with?

A~ A nice inky black pen on white drawing paper is heaven! I also love to work with watercolor, pastel, pencil, and oils.

Q~Why do you continue?

A~ I continue because it makes me happy and, when all the planets line up, my artwork can make other people happy too. Seeing people smile or have a look of recognition as they look at my work makes my day.

Q~What is a great success story?

A~ My Washington, DC and Eiffel Tower images. The Washington Monument Birthday card is probably the most popular card in my line. And I love to dream up new guises for these famous buildings.





Q~What is one of your greatest failures?

A~Not paying attention when I am cooking/baking. Those pesky measurements need to be so exact.

Q~Where do you get your inspiration?

A~ While no one would call me outdoorsy, I am inspired by Mother Nature (trees, clouds, the night sky, birds, squirrels, bugs, and other creatures great and small). Other sources of inspiration include interesting people I meet or observe, things I’ve read, proverbs, French language and culture, kindness, and silliness. I am also inspired by old things with some history –- like me!



Q~ Why do you make/create what you do?

A~ I like to make things that people can use to communicate with the family/friends/colleagues in their lives, whether it is remembering their birthday and other milestones with a great card, or sending them a great gift or special note.

My images tend to fall into a few broad categories. I draw my alter ego, the Fast Snail®, because I always have. We chug along and try to keep smiling through it all, rain or shine. I’ve found that there are many other people there who can relate to the Snail. Go Team Snail!



As an incurable Francophile and language nerd, j’adore creating French-inspired images. The bonus with these designs is that I get to have a blast hearing about my customers connections to France and the Eiffel Tower in particular.

Since I’ve lived and worked in Washington, D.C. area for many years, doing designs based on the monuments and the flag of the District of Columbia is a natural. People have so many interesting stories to tell about their ties to the area. It is also fun to have a reason to brush up my on American history.

I call another design group my “mixed nuts.” These images feature silly and whimsical creatures and scenarios from imagination. Reality is highly overrated as they say!

Q~ Where is your favorite place to sell? Or Favorite show?

A~ I like to sell in the D.C. metro area because there is such a diverse group of people here. I don’t have a favorite show per se, but have been lucky to do Art on the Avenue, the Ballston Arts & Crafts Market, Clifton Day, the Fairfax Holiday Craft Show, and the McLean Holiday Crafts Show in the past few years. Each show has a different personality and that makes it even more fun.



Q~ What is one thing you love about your business?

A~ I love being able to share my art with others.

Q~ What is one thing you loathe?

A~ Thoughtlessness makes me bananas.

Q~ What is your dream about your art?

A~ When I started my business, I said that my goal was global domination. Five years in, I’ve revised that a little to getting to where I can spend more time creating art and getting it out to a larger audience.

Q~ If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

A~ I'm going to go with flying. That way I could travel more and not have to go through airport security or pay baggage fees.



Q~ Where are you based?

A~ Arlington, Virginia

Q~ Where would you live if you could live anywhere?

A~ Any beach or island. Paris or the South of France would work too.

Q~ What would you be doing if not this?

A~ Maybe a yoga teacher or a plumber or a yoga-teaching plumber. I like to fix things and hanging out in hardware stores. And I could do either anywhere in the world.

Q~ What is next?

A~ Infinity and beyond! Seriously, I hope to expand my distribution area and continue to work with clients to create cool new products or designs to fit their needs. The latter keeps things fun and interesting.



Q~ Glass half full or half empty?

A~ Half full by all means!

Q~ What is your favorite question to ask people?

A~ What they would like to be when they grow up.

Q~ What is your answer to that question?

A~ An artist who does yoga on the beach who can make other people laugh and bake a decent cake from scratch.

Q~ What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen sparrow?

A~ I’m pretty sure that it is twice the square root of the area of a Fast Snail’s shell, but let me double check with accounting and get back to you …

Contact info:

Liz Hutcheson
Owner & Designer
Fast Snail LLC
Creative Greetings & Design
Arlington, VA

Website: www.fastsnail.com

Email: info@fastsnail.com

Facebook: Fast Snail

Upcoming shows:

Ballston Art & Crafts Market
: June 11, July 9, September 10

Hope this got you thinking about special, artist created gifts what you could give to loved ones. This time of year is all about graduations, weddings, baby showers and birthdays.



THIS COMING SATURDAY: Come to the 2nd Saturday Art Walk at the Workhouse Arts Center and meet with artists, in their work spaces, and see what they can do for gift needs. It will be the official Grand Opening of my new studio there. Stop by and say hi! ~Jen

Workhouse Arts Center
9601 Ox Road
Lorton, VA

**I am in Building 9, Studio 912**

Green Tip~ Farmers' Markets

There is a lot of talk about 'organic' foods lately. In general, they are better for you and the environment, not being grown or created with pesticide and toxins. Many large companies pay a lot of money to get certified by different eco-organizations. On the flip side, smaller 'mom and pop' operations can not afford to go through this process and so can not advertise themselves as organic. However, most are. They feel better about not exposing themselves and their customers to these chemicals and find the produce is better without them. While at the farmers' markets, talk to the vendors about their operations and find out if the farm naturally. Better than a seal on a label any day!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes!


Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton

Wonderfully great, exciting and completely scary news: Jen-A-Fusion Fashion Accessories will be moving into a studio at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, VA!

In case you have never been or are not familiar with the Workhouse, it is an historic reformatory that has been redeveloped into artist studios. Current construction is focused on a theater and future project include artists' residences. Right now, there are about 8 buildings of studios, galleries, classrooms and retail space open. Every media is represented and ceramics and glass have dedicated buildings. A visitor is able to talk with a creator about their craft, see pieces being worked on and even purchase art directly.

For me, this means a HUGE leap into the next phase of my business. I'll be moving away from doing as many shows and markets as I have been doing. However, it will be a place that I will have a more set schedule in order to be available to customers. Clients can come by and see what I am working on, get a sneak peak on future products and shop outside of regular markets~ rain or shine!

I will be updating my information on this blog and my facebook page after I actually move into my new studio, in mid June. Please keep an eye out for the updates.

A GIGANTIC thank you to all the folks that have supported and helped me over the last 6 years of business! There is no way I would have been able to do this without all of you! ~Jen