Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Getting organized with hand crafted totes and bins

By Sharon Parker
Arty Didact

January is the month for getting organized, right? Or to think about doing that, intend to get to it, and then feel guilty about not doing it. While that tends to be my approach, when I do get around to it, the key is generally this: having functional and appealing containers for sorting and storing.

Fabric totes and bins are very versatile for both of those functions. Here follows a few Minnesota-made items in a variety of sizes for your organizing needs, including a sweet paper basket made from a child's picture book, and a clever holder for loose cords.

From LyricCol, consider these handsome sturdy canvas stenciled totes. I like to use totes when I have things that need to be kept handy, yet tidy and out of the way — like my tax records; because I might want to use my desk or dining room table for something else once in a while before April 15.

This size is big enough for file folders and other large items; this shop also has several mini totes. 

Canvas totes from LyricCol

This attractive lined fabric bin from Shaggy Baggy is about 8 x 9 inches, just right for your current knitting or crochet project, or for keeping medium sized things tidy. You can also get smaller bins without handles from this shop. They are all lined and have interfacing so they stand up nicely.

Fabric storage bin from Shaggy Baggy

How about this upcycled leather tote from Sewing for the Harvest? It's a stylish container for those magazines and catalogs you aren't ready to recycle yet that have been cascading off the coffee table, and it's eco friendly, made from a former coat and lined with upcycled shirt fabric. 

Leather tote from Sewing for the Harvest

Sometimes, loose items like earphone and phone charger cords can become a tangled mess, even if you do put them in a bin or tote. Bird Industries has the perfect solution for that — nifty little cord holders, made from bicycle inner tubes. 

Cord keepers from Bird Industries

For the top of a child's dresser (or for your desk, perhaps?), this paper bin made from a Little Golden Book offers a whimsical catchall for small items. One of several available from TC Witchcraft Factory.

Paper basket from TC Witchcraft Factory

I've only shown one example from each shop, so be sure to click through to visit them on Etsy and see the full range of what they have to offer. They're always making new items, too, and will often take custom orders, if you like their style and have something particular in mind.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Fun Friday Finds: Stillness

By Sharon Parker
Arty Didact

The December solstice is this Tuesday, December 22. To the astronomically inclined, it is a precise moment at which the sun appears to cross the equator, or something like that. If you're into that sort of thing, there's a terrific explanation with lots of photos and graphics at Earthsky.org you can peruse. Enjoy!

For those more philosophically inclined, it's the time of year when the sun seems to stand still.

Indeed, the Latin origin of the word "solstice" means just that: sun standing still.  (See this for that.)

I love that, because it is both lovely and a bit ironic, considering how much people are running around at this time of year, trying to get all their holiday preparations in order before Christmas.

It can be hard to let go of the busy-ness and give ourselves permission to pause, whether to ponder the holiness of a sacred birth, or to just sit with the stillness and beauty of the winter solstice.

Sometimes an evocative object can be just the thing to help us slow down and ponder that which is truly important to us. I selected the items in this collection, a treasury on Etsy of handmade items from Minnesota, for just that reason. Forget your gift list and to-do list for a moment, and consider whether one of these objects might be just what you need to help you remember to be still with the sun on a winter's day.

(Click on the image to get a closer look at these items on Etsy.)

Friday, November 27, 2015

Fun Friday Finds — Anything-but-black Friday

By Sharon Parker
Arty Didact

I have a confession to make: I have never liked Black Friday. I don't like the name, I don't like the hype, I don't like the whole idea, the obsessive consumer frenzy, the big boxes and big malls. None of it.

But I've found ways to make the day (and days) after Thanksgiving pleasant.

1. Ignore all the Black Friday promotions.

2. Enjoy a leisurely morning with no rush to go anywhere.

3. Head out in the afternoon (on foot or bike, if you feel like it) to a few local businesses — or at least to an independent coffee shop (where I am now, writing this blog post). I love that small shops call this day Plaid Friday (yeah — check it out).

4. Don't try to do all, or even most of your holiday shopping in one mad dash. Because when you shop both online and independent, it's not an ordeal to be got through, but a pleasure to savor.

How about some ideas to get you started? OK — here's both Minnesota local and one-of-a-kind handcrafted items for your browsing pleasure. Just click on the image. Happy Plaid Friday!