Green Eyes On: The Return of the Cottage Crafts


A handmade pony tale holder and rag doll made of recycled fabric, available on Etsy.

There's a new trend that, quite frankly, has me excited. A growing number of people (women in particular, but by no means is this a femme-exclusive category) are making a return to cottage crafts. A fantastic resource serving these crafters is Etsy, a website designed for "all things handmade."

From Cross-Stitching to Quilting, to Handmade Pillow Covers
When I was a child my mom thought it was important for each of us to learn as many home-skills as possible. Some of these skills appealed to me more than others. For example, I was particularly into cross-stitching for a few years, which later translated into mending and sewing. I once cut, pieced and quilted a full queen-sized quilt. I made the flower girl dress for my wedding. I’ve stitched countless pillow covers for my home and for friends. And I even partially supported myself though college by working in the theater department’s costume shop, building and mending Shakespearian gowns and tunics.
A younger Sara with her mom.

As a result of my early training I can still garden, cook, sew, and make all sorts of interesting craft items, given the time and access to materials. I should note that this does NOT make me a crafty person. I’ll never be a scrap-booker and I can’t say that I have a particularly good eye for creating 'pretty' things, but I do thoroughly enjoy the process of creating something out of next to nothing, whether in the kitchen or at the sewing machine.

Blogs Can Inspire Sewing and Jewelry Projects
I’ve come across numerous blogs (many of them mommy blogs -- check out this directory of moms who blog -- where the author is talking about his or her latest sewing project or jewelry-making hobby. In these crafts, people are discovering more than a source of fun, they're uncovering creative parts of themselves long buried, as well as comfort and balance from the meditative act of stitching, knitting, or stringing.

And many of these crafty types go the eco route, finding great joy in turning old shirt scraps into pillow case covers, old buttons and baubles into jewelry, old jars into vases, and more. It is recycling at its finest!

So, it was with great excitement that I discovered a website perfectly tailored for the crafty and industrious. Etsy gives crafters a place to showcase and sell items. And anyone looking for a unique necklace or gift idea is sure to find it here. Etsy even has a "shop local" section where you can find goods by artists in your area. I plugged in my city and found a handcrafted soap maker, a sticker maker, an illustrator (she takes your photos and turns them into unique illustrations), a jeweler, a book maker, a scarf and tie maker, and many more.

The site also includes a place for buyers to post requests for custom made items, a community where virtual labs are held, and an area where Etsy members can chat.

A hand-made gourd lamp and shade in Sara's home.

As summer turns to fall and we begin to look for activities to do inside, I am issuing a call to all closet crafters: Do your thing! Find scraps around the house and see what they can become. A hollowed old gourd makes a beautiful lamp. Old t-shirts pieced together transform into a super soft baby blanket. Get creative and embrace that forgotten creative side of you. ::Etsy
Sara Snow is a green living expert and regular contributor to TreeHugger via her Green Eyes On column. She can also be seen on CNN.com on Thursdays from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Her new DVD Growing Green Babies is now available through SaraSnow.com.
More on Etsy From TreeHugger
::Etsy Debuts Handmade Kids Series
::Etsy: Online Marketplace for Things Handmade
::Etsy Founder Robert Kalin Interview on Wallstrip
More on Crafts and Handmade DIY From TreeHugger
::New Green Craft Blog: Sew Green
::Handmade Pledge: Knit Your Own Sportscar

Tags: Artists | Arts | Crafts | Decorating | Designers | Do It Yourself | Recycling | Sara Snow

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