May 162015

John and I spent a lovely afternoon on Walnut and Fourth Streets at The Kirkwood Hotel in downtown Des Moines today, visiting with Iowa artisans at Market Day Iowa, a curated pop-up market.

Market Day Iowa

Market Day is held in the hotel lobby, ball room, and bar on the ground floor. The vibe is young and trendy, with many highly skilled artisans displaying their wares. I met Dani Ausen of daniAWESOME, who organizes the Market Day events that have been showcasing Iowa artists, crafters and vintage sellers since 2009. When she is not coordinating Market Day, Dani is a maker herself who sells hair fascinators, jewelry and masks in her Etsy shop.

Dani Ausen of daniAWESOME

In this post I’d like to introduce you to some of the most interesting artisans I met. I chatted with Liz Brooks of Teal Suede, who marries together colorful fabrics and buttery-soft leather to make handbags. She also paints designs on some of her fabrics.

Erin Brooks of Teal Suede

Jason Headlee of Blue Prairie Kitchenware uses hand gouges and rasps to make beautiful wooden spoons, spatulas, spreaders, coffee scoops, and other kitchen implements from oak, cherry, walnut, osage and other woods. No two items are alike; these are truly keepsake tools. You can reach Jason by email at or call him at 515-975-3282.

Jason Headlee of Blue Prairie Kitchenware

John Bosley of Bozz Illustration designs art prints, posters and other graphic works that feature Des Moines landmarks and Iowa culture. His screen printing studio takes up most of his basement.

John Bosley, Bozz Illustration

Veronica Deitrick of Dog in a Fez makes adorable dog berets, fez caps and other dog wearables. Her model and her inspiration is her Japanese Chin, Fuku Wanwan. Because her Web site is being revamped at the moment, she urges you to contact her via the Dogs of Des Moines site or by email at

Veronica Deitrick of Dog in a Fez

Cody Sherman of ToasterPress is a woodcut printmaker who transfers his drawings to a woodcut, which he then inks up to print T-shirts you’ll find nowhere else. His style is both humorous and whimsical, and the inked woodcuts themselves are works of art.

Cody Sherman, Woodcut Printmaker

Caroline Sallen is a fiber artist who dyes silk scarves in a rainbow of colors. You’ll find her shop on Etsy at Caroline Sallen. I bought a silk scarf from Caroline, and loved the fact that she enclosed a photo showing 12 different ways you can tie a scarf. During the daytime, she is a special education teacher, but in her spare time she not only dyes silk scarves, but she also designs art quilts. You can find examples of her work on her Facebook page, Caroline Sallen Art Quilts.

Caroline Sallen

Sabrina Alery, a stay-at-home mom who owns The Honor Roll, designs what she calls “pretty cloth and paper” planners and stationery. I flipped through the contents of one of her lovely fabric-covered planners, and discovered it holds up to five different and removable organizers, and features useful locations for business cards, notes, paper clips, a pen, and more. Sabrina also crafts lovely cards, no two of which are exactly alike, with matching envelopes. Besides her Web site, you can visit The Honor Roll on Facebook and her shop on Etsy.

Sabrina Alery of The Honor Roll

Jake Haselman of Jake Haselman on Etsy designs screen printed shirts, bags, buttons, zipper pulls, coasters and art prints. His black-and-white geometric art is distinctive, pulling you in for a detailed look at his work. Trust me—I couldn’t resist crouching down to almost stick my nose into one of the prints for a closer examination!

Jake Haselman collage

Kat Hutchison of Kat Meowcrafts works full-time during the daytime, but hand-embroiders buttons, pendants, patches and badges in her spare time. The tiny, detailed illustrations are her own. Kat says that while many of her designs feature cats, she actually owns two dogs. Cats are not in the picture because of her husband’s allergies.

Kat Hutchison of Kat Meowcrafts

Jen of 11th & Mulberry sells adorable cotton baby clothing such as onesies, yoga hats and harem pants. What’s different about her clothing line is that she screen prints a design on each piece with water-based ink. For many of the garments, you can specify what color of ink you prefer.

Jen of 11th & Mulberry

Shawn Solen of Solen Studios designs unique cement planters and bowls, table lights, wall hooks made from assorted woods, metal wall hooks, and a wall-mounted entryway oak shelf that holds your keys and your mail. Although you can visit his Etsy shop to purchase these items, a more complete gallery of his work appears in his Instagram feed HERE.

Shawn Solen of Solen Studios

I fell in love with ceramic artist Erin Carpenter’s beautiful white pottery, carved and painted with her delicate designs. I liked it so much, in fact, that I purchased one of her ring bowls, shown in the lower left photo below. You can browse through Erin’s lacy bowls, stoneware, and painted white pieces at her Web site, Erin Carpenter Pottery, but you can purchase pieces of it in her Etsy shop, also called Erin Carpenter Pottery.

Erin Carpenter of Erin Carpenter Pottery

Just before Market Day closed today, John and I visited with Jen Lawler of JL Designs, a silver- and goldsmith who designs and crafts exquisite jewelry with clean, modern lines. I have been looking for a long time for a necklace to match a sterling silver bracelet I purchased years ago at the Kentucky Artisan Center of Berea, and was excited to discover exactly what I needed. I’m wearing the necklace in the photo below, but you can also see some of Jen’s other pieces.

Jen Lawler of JL Designs

The artisans I have introduced in this post represent about a third of the ones selling at today’s Market Day in Des Moines. The event is small enough that you can take the time to chat with the designers and learn a little bit about their process, in addition to checking out their wares. This is the first time we have visited a Market Day event, and John and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Have you attended a craft venue lately, where you shopped instead of being a vendor? What special finds did you discover?

© 2015 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

Mar 312015

I’m feeling celebratory. Our annual taxes are filed, so I can breathe a sigh of relief. It shouldn’t be that big of a deal, but I’m afraid I procrastinated in entering all of the numbers into spreadsheets that are necessary for our accountant to have so that he can complete our tax returns. But wouldn’t you prefer, as I do, to craft instead? I know that’s how I feel, so while this month of March was productive in terms of completing lots of mini books for my Etsy shop, Mister PenQuin—after all, March is National Craft Month, according to the Craft and Hobby Association—I can’t say I was equally diligent with my bookkeeping. Well, not until the last two days and nights of the month, to be more precise.

In any event, taxes are behind me and resolutions for no more Bookkeeping Procrastination are ahead of me. (Yeah, sure.) But let’s be honest. The colors of my crafting materials, the colors outside my window as the weather seriously warms up (we had seventies today), and the colors you can find anywhere on Web shopping sites are vastly more appealing—and distracting—than the black numbers marching across the columns of my Excel spreadsheets.

So, I’ll celebrate completion of tax returns with a splash of color by curating an Etsy treasury—something that always makes me happy. If you click on the large image below, you’ll be taken directly to Etsy and can check out the wonderful products that are shown. And while I’m on the subject, take a special look at the items from Katrin of Katrinshine (living in Italy, but originally from Russia) and Eugenie of Mulberry Whisper (from Uzbekistan). Both women are the newest members of my blogging Etsy team, Blogging Business Artisans. I’d like to extend a warm welcome to both of them!

Color me happy!© 2015 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.


Feb 272015

All week long, we’ve been experiencing really cold—and I must admit typical—February temperatures. Today, for example, it’s sunny, but a frigid 13 degrees. Brr. Obviously, I won’t be taking a neighborhood stroll anytime soon, but one place I can take a stroll is through Etsy’s pastel product aisles. Nothing says spring like pastels, as you can see from the treasury below.

Nothing says spring like pastels

At the same time, it’s a great Friday afternoon to work on pastel-colored gratitude books. These colors just make me happy.

Pastel gratitude books in progress

It’s a good time to wear a cream-colored sweater, dotted with pastel bobbles.

Pastel bobbles

Maybe it’s time to cut out the pieces for a quilted table runner in Easter pastels.

Easter table runnner fabrics

Whatever I do today, it’s bound to have a pastel theme. What’s on your pastel agenda these days?

© 2015 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.