Song of the Day: “I’ve Just Seen a Face”

Today’s collection is inspired by The Beatles’ “I’ve Just Seen a Face.”

To play song, click here:

I've just seen a face

Click to view on Etsy.



Song of the Day: “Luck Be A Lady”

A treasury inspired by Frank Loesser’s “Luck Be a Lady” from Guys and Dolls.

To listen to the song, click here:

Click to view on Etsy.

Click to view on Etsy.

Actually, I made this a few days ago, but I liked it so much I wanted to share:)

Happy Thursday!

The Folk In Those Stories. Sunday Morning Coffee Finds #4

It’s been a busy week for me here at The Handmade Classroom, and the thing that’s been keeping me company during the late nights and trips to the post office is the audiobooks of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games.

I’m late to arrive at this series, because I know the whole world has read it, and I was hesitant. When I’d listened to my mix CDs in the car one-too-many times, I decided it was time. I finished the final book, Mockingjay, yesterday afternoon. Throughout the series, I was awed by Collins’ concrete, yet imaginative tie-ins to the stories of Theseus and the Minotaur, Spartacus, and the politics of the Roman Republic while maintaining a vivid Margaret Atwood/Ray Bradbury-esque dystopian future set in the ruins of North America.

Having spent many of my college days writing short stories with a young-adult audience in mind, I fully appreciate the difficulty in trying to convey the complex ideas of war, rebellion, survival, loss and the constant need we have to be entertained and reassured–either by news media or ‘reality’ television in relatively simple and accessible language. The key to this is a great protagonist, and Katniss is one of the best I’ve read in a long time. She’s perfect in her imperfection, the mistakes she makes, her coldness, her doubt that she is, in fact, worthy of the sacrifice she sees her friends and family make. I hope these books aren’t written off in five years as a ‘fad’ because there really is something to them that read like classics in the young adult genre.

I’ve read criticisms of The Hunger Games which boil down to them being didactic and contrived. What I, as an educator, wanted to scream at the reviewers was the fact that the target audience of the book will not necessarily be familiar with the story of Theseus, or the dystopian sci-fi genre, and that The Hunger Games (apart from being a damn good read) will a spark an interest that leads to a lifetime love of not only reading, but classics, politics and sociology.

All of this got me thinking on the importance of keeping old stories alive, and characters who live on through the generations of storytelling in different reincarnations. From Gilgamesh, Odysseus and King Arthur to Aragorn, Luke Skywalker, Dorothy Gale, Harry Potter and Katniss Everdeen (and let’s just give a silent cheer for a female protagonist written for young adults that doesn’t spend the entire story pining over a guy…well, no more than they spend pining over her…) it’s that person Joseph Campbell called “the hero of a thousand faces.”

Without further ado, this collection is inspired by the notion of these old stories making appearances in unlikely places, and the many faces they bear. Enjoy.

Photography print from Esther From the Sticks of Roanoke, VA, United States


 Repurposed Handmade Journal from odelae of Orcas Island, WA, United States
Handmade felt soft sculpture of Nymeria the Direwolf from Mt. Royal Mint of Montreal, Canada

Original Watercolor Painting from FACE TO FACE of San Jose, CA, United States


Handmade ceramic architecture study necklace from POAST of Bergen, Norway
Hand-painted Atlas pendant from Sarah Lambert-Cook of Monterey, CA, United States
Handmade Leather shoes from The Drifter Leather of Thessaloniki, Greece
Handmade art quilt from Bozena Wojtaszek of Lodz, Poland
Print of a photograph from marblemoviesky of St. Petersburg, Russia
About:  Sunday Morning Coffee Finds are a weekly collection of items from inspiring and talented Etsy artists from all over the world. Sometimes items are chosen by theme. Other times, the items create the theme. Why the name? I find that Sunday mornings find me approximately the same place in the same time; sitting in my sunny studio, drinking the special coffee we reserve for Sundays!  

How Does Your Garden Grow? – Sunday Morning Coffee Finds #3

I’m so excited that it’s time for planting. Every year, my dad has a beautiful garden that is a wonderful source of fresh tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, carrots, corn, peas, beans, garlic, horseradish, chives, beets, potatoes, and pumpkins. We’re going to try out a strawberry patch this year (though it won’t yield until next year) and we always try to grow parsley, basil and rosemary in planters, but with mixed results. To celebrate this time freshly tilled earth and bright green sprouts, here’s a collection of Etsy handmade and vintage finds from some old favorites and new discoveries!

Hand-Embroidered Strawberry Pendant from Nells Embroidery of Vancouver.

Vintage handmade veggie toys from Sweet Love Vintage of River Falls, Wisconson

Hand-pounded and stamped copper herb markers from Blisscraft and Brazen of Montreal.

Screen-printed herb text from Cabin Dreams of Portland, Oregon.

Hand-painted mini-canvas from ohchalet of Boston, Massachusetts

Original Watercolor illustration by Little Alexander of Lewis, Iowa.

Organic children’s t-shirt by Little Bean Prints of Oradell, New Jersey

Ink and watercolor drawing from The Aldas Project of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Organic gardener’s hand-salve from Roots Soap Co. of Portland, Oregon.

Let The Magic Begin. Sunday Morning Coffee Finds #2

Hurrah! Second week in a row of remembering to post. I think I might be getting the hang of this blogging thing.

I have two other ideas for weekly posts that might catch on as well, which I will introduce today or tomorrow, provided I get my Etsy orders for the week stitched, packed and shipped at the right times and to the right places. This week has been a whirlwind of nuttiness. I have made: 3 Red Riding Hood Sets, 2 Apple Trees and 3 Robin’s nests. I still have to finish: 1 Red Riding Hood Set, 1 Robin’s Nest, 1 Little Mermaid and 1 Moirae. Along with 2 Holmes ornaments and 3 new fairytale concoctions that I’m SO excited about. Whew. But seriously, if you had told me a year ago that I would open an Etsy shop and have almost 50 sales in 3 months, I would have been like “shut the front door.”

Which reminds me. I’ve rediscovered the wonderment of watching TV on DVD while working in my studio, and am totally addicted to Castle – so consider this an informal recommendation. I love crime shows of all shapes and sizes, but Castle takes a light-hearted, almost Barney Miller-ish approach while mixing in some of the stylization of Miami Vice, and the poignancy of the more serious shows like Law & Order. There are so many things that shouldn’t work – amnesia, Irish Mafia, prison breaks, mummification – but they do, somehow. The chemistry between Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic is delicious, but the best romance on the show is, of course, between Ryan and Espisito (Jon Huertas and Seamus Dever) who are not only comic relief…they get to show their serious sides to great effect in a few of the better episodes.

But I digress. Watch Castle. I recommend getting it on DVD so you can watch more than one episode at a time, because once you start…….

Ok, now I’m really going to show you my Sunday Morning Coffee Finds. As with last week, I didn’t start with a theme, but it sort of grew out of the things that caught my eye in my Etsy favorites list, and in the search. Today, the things popping out at me were whimsical, magical, playful, maybe a tad nostalgic – I’ve been admiring two of these shops for some time…the third is a new find this morning. And what a find.

The magical woman behind the curtain at Isabella’s Art is truly a wonder to me.

A Dutch artist, she is only a few years older than I (an inspirational fact in itself) and has, in her brain a wonderful canon of folktales, fairy tales, proverbs, and literature – not to mention a 100-watt imagination which allows her to bring an incredible sense of playfulness and longing to her illustrations and cutouts. She loves fairy tales and is proud of it. Her sense of character is distinctive, yet each creation has its own little nuances. Her Etsy shop is stunning, but I have to link to her independent website which is simply a confection in itself, and gives a broader sense of her work. But her Etsy shop is full of her stunning shadow puppets that add an interactive dimension that is so inspiring to a fellow spinner of tales (and a teacher…what I wouldn’t give to be able to buy a few of these for my kiddos to use on these wet winter days where outside play is impossible).

Whether from the books by P.L. Travers, or the 1960 film with Julie Andrews, I’ve always wanted to be Mary Poppins. If I had had this as a child, I would have spent literally hours in my room at night playing with her…and probably would have made the other characters and little sets to go with her.

Who am I kidding? I would do that now.

Rumpelstiltskin has always been one of my favorites. I adore the spinning wheel, and the graceful lines of the hair and the thread coming from the spindle.


I remember being one of the only ones in my 12th grade English class who loved Goethe’s Faust (not a unique circumstance for me). Seriously, what’s not to like? Daemons, sinners, eternal damnation, the original “Deal with the Devil.” Anyone remember the PBS Wishbone episode? If doing these blog posts has done (and hopefully will continue to do) anything, is help me realize that I’m certainly not the only one on the face of the earth who has an obsession and complete love of tales and curiosities…here is another kindred spirit, and I wish her all the best with her already booming business and truly magnificent work.

Here’s a sub-theme. Puppets. I sometimes call my own creations ‘puppets’ because I hesitate to call them dolls…I would like to begin making true puppets with jointed arms and legs, and since I was little, I’ve dreamed of making a marionette. But my no means am I a carpenter or wood carver, and making a marionette out of soft materials always seemed so far out of reach, but no more. This Estonian artist (she lives and works in the Republic of Georgia) simultaneously captures lightness, softness, melancholy, and sheer pleasure in her shop Two Sad Donkeys. Her animal puppets are lovable, but not saccharin, nostalgic without being too sentimental. And the felting. And the colors. And all of the things that make a truly unique practice can be found in her creations.

I just want to snuggle with this little guy. This is the kind of work that makes me want to have kids right now…so I can share these wonders with them. And build a puppet theatre and have puppets from different artists and spend hours making up stories.

I think Ingemar the reindeer is my favorite. The faces are wonderful, but I loved these even more when I clicked on the other images in the Etsy listing and saw the bodies. They really stepped out of a world all their own.

And Laura the llama. I have a soft spot for llamas. 

Just looking at Olga’s profile makes me so happy. Here is a woman doing exactly what she loves, and doing it with so much truth and heart. Once a month, her profile reads, she does shows at a Waldorf school, and gets to share these treasures with young children…I’m hearing a proposal to my directors at school. “Can I bring my class on a field trip?”

Finally, in keeping with Waldorf philosophy (which is a method I’m not 100% on board with, but the toys made within the Waldorf philosophy and the approach taken by teachers and parents in exploring them are truly unique and magical) I give you Armadillo Dreams. 

This husband and wife team was one of the first shops in my favorites when I opened my Etsy shop in June, and I’ve been regularly following them ever since. Everything about them inspires me; their huge selection of incredibly rich and simple Waldorf/Montessori toys, which they add to almost every week; the fact they make a living from their practice; their sense of humor and incredible sense of craftsmanship. The list goes on.

This Peter Pan set is on my list of things to get for my future children. Or myself. I could occupy myself for hours with this little bit of whimsey from Peter Pan. 

When I was a kid I wanted to have a cow and a butter churn (yes, you read that right) more than anything. I had a pioneer fetish. I even bought a mini butter churn from Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts when I went with my mom in 3rd grade. I say again, I would totally buy this cow and milk-bottle set just for myself.

Peter and the Wolf is a story I enjoy in all its manifestations (the David Bowie recording, the ballet with Mikhail Baryshnikov, and the countless picture book adaptations I remember borrowing from the library after story hour) and am glad to have one interpretation more to add.

Finally, my favorite piece from Armadillo Dreams, this carnival set. 

One of the things I love about all of these artists is that they trust children with precious and handmade objects. Children are just as responsive to luscious fabric and rich wood as adults (perhaps even more so) artists who spend time and energy making well crafted, beautiful things for children knowing full well that they will potentially be chewed, pulled, dropped and thrown in the creative process of telling a story. When I give my creations to children (how lucky I am to have a classroom full of free testers) I reflexively hover, wanting to protect the hours of work that go into making them. But once I tell them I made something with my own two hands (even three-year-olds appreciate the love and respect that goes into making something) they are much more calm and respectful of the objects than they are when I put things out on shelves just to keep them occupied. These artists get right to the meat of the stories they tell, without ‘dumbing down’ or taking shortcuts. It reminds me of a quote by Atticus Finch from Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird:

“When a child asks you something, answer him, for goodness’ sake. But don’t make a production of it. Children are children, but they can spot an evasion quicker than adults, and evasion simply muddles ‘em.”

With that little piece of truth, I bid you all a happy Sunday:)


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