Watercolor Wednesday – Dinosaurs

dilophosaurus watercolor by Jeffrey Johnson, Handmade Family It feels like forever since I posted one of these, and I’m so glad to slowly but surly be getting back into the swing of updating the blog. We’ve got some super exciting things going on in the studio right now, so stay tuned over the next couple of weeks as we roll them out

Today though, we’re talking about DINOSAURS! It’s no big secret that I love dinosaurs, and in preparation for the Jurassic World movie, I started work on a new game featuring Penny Loves Dinosaurs. It’s a matching game with interchangeable cards cartoons about several different dinosaur types, and little plastic dinosaur pegs. The prototype went well at the Saint Louis Science Center but there were some tweaks that I wanted to make to it before taking it to shows with us. First off was getting the illustrations for the cards colored.

Our first dinosaur is the Dilophosaurus. Known for his neck frill, many people also think this guy spits poison on it’s prey. The books I’ve been reading don’t seem to think so though. What we know about dinosaurs is based on the small amount of evidence preserved in fossils, and comparing that to our studies of modern animals so what scientists “know” is always changing. velociraptor watercolor by Jeffrey Johnson, Handmade Family

The Velociraptor is another super cool dinosaur made famous in the movies. Again, fossil evidence has changed our view of them in the last twenty years as paleontologists have discovered that they appear to have feathers! My version was maybe a little timid with the feather addition.

Sharing is Caring

Back towards the beginning of February, my artist friend Gary Bedell posted this on Facebook:

A challenge to all my artist buddies (i.e. visual, music, etc.). Share a fellow artist page or a piece of theirs (that you KNOW) everyday for a month. Share more than one a day if you like. Who will accept?


On the face of it, it seems like a simple challenge. If you’re like me, then about half or more of your friends are creatives of some type so we should have no shortage of posts to draw from. I mean, what could be simpler than clicking the “share” button on your newsfeed? Here’s a funny thing about that though, Facebook only really puts things in your newsfeed if your interact with that person or company regularly, so before long you run out of new people to share. This is where it becomes challenging, and kind of awesome at the same time.

likesI hit that ceiling after about five days. Either my creative friends weren’t posting about the cool things going on in their lives and studios, or social media wasn’t showing them to me. (There was at least one friend too, who only posts from his personal page for some reason. I try really hard to let people’s personal lives stay private, so he didn’t get shared.) So, out came the pencil and paper and I started going through my friends list. At this point, it stopped mattering whether they were doing a show that weekend or just came out with a new product. It gave me a chance to think about them as friends and creatives. I started thinking about what they do, why I liked it, and why I think my other friends should like it too. I started writing posts about that, making sure to tag them in the post using @ before their business name, and sharing pages directly using the drop down menu on the side of their page.

scarlett_and_mariaEven better, once I did started doing this I realized that facebook actually has other tools that could help out, because like I said before, not all posts from friends show up in the newsfeed. I could cut the chance that my friends would see my posts out of the equation all together and go directly to friends I thought would like these cool things too. I could directly invite my friends to like a page after sharing it to my timeline.

inviteI didn’t make it the whole month, sharing everyday. Like every new habit, it’s all too easy to get sidetracked and then start forgetting all together, and it’s really difficult to do from a phone. I do try to share regularly though, because honestly I’d rather see the cool things my friends are up to than another upworthy video or buzzfeed article. Sharing your friends is partly about showing off that you know cool people, and also partly about educating the publilc that there are options out there other than big box stores. Sure, Etsy is a household name now, but people don’t necessarily relate buying handmade from the site to the fact that there are individuals actually creating these things. We’re about individuals as part of a community, and a community of individuals that helps each part succeed.

I challenge you all to go and share some of your friend’s work. Maybe not every day, but often. It’ll make them feel awesome, and also help strengthen the community as a whole.

-You can find Gary’s retrospectice artbook “Thawed” on Lulu. It’s massive, and has just a TON of art spanning several years of work.

-My friend Eleanor of Scarlett and Maria makes amazing Kanzashi flowers. Check our her Facebook page, and buy something from her website. Her work is just stunning. http://www.scarlettandmaria.com/
-The Novel Neighbor is my favorite indie bookstore in forever. Check out their facebook page for updates on news and events, and if you’re ever in the Webster Groves area stop in and say hi. They’re fantastic! http://thenovelneighbor.com/

That Perfect Booth Set-Up

It seems like among other things we’re striving for as professional crafters, we’re all looking for the holy grail that is the perfect booth set-up. Not only has to match your aesthetic, but it also has to be practical and portable. To make things even more complicated though, not every space or situation is the same, so you also have to be flexible and prepared for occasional surprises.

We’ve been doing shows for about four years now, and have experimented with a lot of different elements. Refining display placement, adding components and taking them away as our product line changes. Here’s a selection from the last few months…show_set_upsAs you can see, the core ideas tend to stay the same, while specifics might change. Recently, we took the opportunity to set things up in the living room, take our time with some possibilities, and really identify good ideas and “best practices”. Let’s talk about some of the things we came up with.
booth_setup_fullUsually we are able to spread out a bit and use two tables for our product. This is wonderful in it’s way, but tends to look a little unorganized and not really cohesive. So we challenged ourselves to stick within an eight foot square, and use only one table. The key here is to use height and modular displays to our advantage. We alrealy had all the right display elements, it was just a matter of putting them together in new ways. Organizing it was a matter of setting things up in tiers from the outside in. Larger, more colorful kids play items like capes and hobby horses go on the sides to draw people in. Accent items and smaller toys like pins, doodle dolls and story starter chips are arranged on the inside on the left and right, leading attention to our flagship Baby Burrito Blankets in the center. The backdrop fills in the space, showcasing our brand name and more decorative items.


Finally, one last new thing that I can’t even believe we never thought of before… I stand up for the whole show, every show. Sitting makes me sleepy and I don’t feel like I can really engage people in conversation unless we’re standing together. It’s kind of like a party that way. So, we added padded foam mats behind the table to take some of the stress off our feet and backs. It really seems to help a lot!matsWhat are some of the things you do with your craft show booths? We’d love to hear from you!

Happy Holidays from Handmade Family!

batteries_not_needed_webGoodness, it’s been a busy holiday season!

There’s been a lot going on around here as we’ve been doing shows, working at Fusion and the Foundrie, and making, making, making additions to our handmade wonderland.

We hope that you had a wonderful holiday, and are looking forward to chatting about changes around here and plans for 2015. It’s going to be an exciting year and we’ve already started putting together some great new projects for you. So be sure to tune in next week for a recap, and maybe some teasers of what’s to come!

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