Thursday, June 24, 2010

An Action-Packed Indie Crafts Weekend for STE Artisans!

Steel Town Etsy artisans have got a busy buzzy weekend of indie craft shows this weekend with I Made It! Market! Come and see our wares in person and say hello! :) Shop local, buy handmade! Hope to see you there!

WYEP Summer Music Festival- Friday, June 25th, 4-8:00 pm, Schenley Plaza in Oakland. Enjoy an evening of free live music and fun, including a kids area and a local crafter marketplace. I Made It! Market artisans will be outside on Schenley Drive between the Carnegie Museum and Library. For more information on this fantastic outdoor celebration of music and arts, visit WYEP's Website at:

Handmade in Marriage- Saturday, June 26th, 11-5 pm,
Wildcard in Lawrenceville. The first annual indie wedding showcase featuring 20 local vendors who can help make your day PERFECT! Meet local photographers, disc jockeys, designers specializing in: jewelry, clothing, invitations, flowers and more. This event is free to attend. Visit for more information.

I Made It! Market Indie Craft Sale and Birthday Party, sponsored by
The Cotton Factory- Sunday, June 27th, 12-5 pm, Jewish Community Center (JCC) in Squirrel Hill. There will be cake, balloons, kids activities, a local indie artisan marketplace. See I Made It! Market's website for more details.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Steel Town Etsy Handmade Trunk Show Announced!

Steel Town Etsy artisans will host an indie craft trunk show on August 6th, 2010 at Schmutz Lodge from 5:30 pm to 10:00 pm.

Happening as part of the artsy frolic, food, people, and buzz that is Penn Avenue’s Unblurred Art Gallery Crawl, the trunk show will bring together some of Pittsburgh’s most talented artisans and their unique, sometimes offbeat, handmade wares!

Join our celebration of local arts and culture for fun, mingling with the creatively cool, and the opportunity to meet the faces behind Steel Town Etsy! Awaiting you is one-of-a-kind and original art of all types of media; handcrafted and upcycled jewelry, clothing, and toys; and steampunk, zombie-inspired, and nature-influenced goods made with plenty o’ Steel Town love!

Here’s to crafty shopping, one of the country’s most vibrant arts and indie craft scenes, and supporting the handmade movement and local independent artisans!

We still have a few vendor spaces available for Steel Town Etsy members.  If you're interested in vending, please contact Tamara at barkerbellheirlooms(at)hotmail(dot)com.

Monday, June 21, 2010

STE Takes on Lawrenceville Little Flea

We went, we vended, we bought, we roasted. Tam of Barker's Herbs & Heirlooms, Kathryn of Go Carr Go, and I (SilentLotus Creations) headed to Lawrenceville this past Saturday to take part in the charming and eclectic Little Flea! The Lawrenceville Little Flea is a weekly neighborhood marketplace that happens every Saturday at 36th & Butler, with rotating local vendors of both typical flea market fare and handcrafted goods. From 8am - 3pm, the three of us peddled our handmade creations and vintage goods in the sweltering heat with 12 other vendors, using the temp and hot sun as an excuse to seek out thirst- and tummy-quenching treats from Butler Street's yummy coffee and bake shops (thanks for the iced coffee & chai and vegan cupcakes, Espresso A Mano and Dozen). :)

Tam indulges my picture-taking urges and oversees our tent. :)

Kathryn's fabulous paper-cutting work!

The other vendors were in good spirits, chatting and laughing with one another and with flea shoppers. It was great to meet the friendly bunch, who provided us with some handmade, vintage, and thrifted bargains when we needed a break from our tables. I found an old rocking chair and vintage pieces to use in my jewelry making. :) There were clothes, dishes, photographs, textiles, chairs, tools and hardware, and plenty of supplies for upcycled art and craft projects. Chris from Signworks managed to sell a ginormous disco ball- wish I had a picture of that guy rolling away his enormous (seriously, I betcha two people could curl up inside) purchase, the glass tiles flashing in the sun and blinding passersby. lol

Little Flea.

Customers were friendly, too, and curious, quick to ask questions, join in a conversation, and or express support of our wares. Sales were okay, but I'm told there has been a much better turnout in previous weeks. And, in any case, I witnessed plenty of folks carrying their finds happily away. Like any market, success ebbs and flows on any particular day. I'd definitely recommend giving Little Flea and the Lawrenceville area shops a visit as either a vendor or shopper. It was a great day, and the rotating vendors promise new treasures every week!

Tamara's unique steampunk creations made with upcycled materials.

My original art prints and magnets.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Meet STE Member Rachel Rech of WreckinRachel on Etsy

Lightning bugs are zapping the air with the coming of Summer as creative juices are flowing at STE! Let us give a thunderous welcome to new team blood and creatrix extraordinaire, WreckinRachel

Tell us a bit about yourself name, location, affiliations, personal stuff.

My name is Rachel Rech. I'm an aspiring Costume Designer going to Point Park University, and will graduate with a BFA in Costume Design next year. I live in the Swissvale section of Pittsburgh with my boyfriend Anton, at Trundle Manor, a museum/house of oddities Wunderkammer. We have a collection of creepy curiosities including dead things in jars, vintage taxidermy, disturbing old medical tools, coffins, steampunk sculptures and various artworks! We are open for tours by appointment only, and the website is I'm also affiliated with The Drifters Car Club of Pittsburgh, of which Anton is President. We have a car show every year, The Steeltown Shakedown, which will be held on Sept. 11 this year at the Twin Hi-Way Drive in. There will be pre-65 hot rods, DIY and vintage vendors, live bands, a pin-up contest, in-person tattoo artist and pinstriper, and a vintage movie on the big screen at night! The website is

Apart from creating things, what do you do?

Besides going to school for costume design, I love to give tours of the museum, watch old horror movies, bake, paint, cruise in our 31 Ford, and dress up like a glamorous villain from the movies! Oh, and when autumn comes, I also love to frighten children at Kennywood Fright Nights.

What first made you want to become an artist?

I've always been weird, and I've known since I was little that art in one form or another was what I was meant to do. I've been obsessed with designing costumes and clothing since I can remember.

Please describe your creative process how, when, materials, etc.

As far as my aprons and things go, I have a stock of colorful fabric that is constantly giving me ideas. Most of what I have is scrap or found material, so most of what I make is one of a kind. I always have several projects going at once, although many of them are for myself!

Name your top five places to be in the Pittsburgh area, books/authors, movies/TV shows, songs/musical groups, and web sites besides Etsy.

My biggest TV influences include The It's Alive! Show, The Addams Family, The Twilight Zone, Pee Wee's Playhouse. My biggest Movie influences: Ed Wood, Cry-Baby, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

How do you promote your work?

That's something I could improve on, actually. I try to put myself out there mainly through Etsy, Facebook and word of mouth. It's all in who you know!

What advice would you give to artists who are new to the Pittsburgh craft scene?

Be original and create what makes you happy. Don't jump on a trendy bandwagon or steal someone else's ideas! If you want recognition, you have to stand out!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Trip to Creative Reuse Pittsburgh- The Coolest Way to Make Eco-friendly Art!

Last Wednesday, I and three of my best crafty pals and fellow STE admins, headed to the awesomely eco-friendly Creative Reuse Pittburgh (Pgh), a local green organization that accepts unwanted materials for reuse and sells them uber cheap to the creative public! According to their website, Creative Reuse Pgh, which was founded in 2007 and became a project of the Pennsylvania Resources Council in February, is a nonprofit organization that seeks to "keep perfectly good stuff out of the landfill, provide opportunities for people to put it to good (re)use, help forward the movement toward a greener globe, and encourage folks to explore." Sound too idyllic? Maybe... except for that they actually make all of that happen!

A haven to those who can make something out of anything (or anything out of something), the organization's brick-and-mortar stash-shop is located within Construction Junction (who donated the space) on Meade Street in Point Breeze. Creatively cluttered, the two-level space is packed from floor to ceiling with everything you can imagine that could be re-used in making art and given new life. Exploring the nooks and crannies, boxes and piles is really an artsy flea market/thrift store shopper's dream, and during our trip revealed wooden dowels, vintage fabric and notions, office supplies, containers, vintage art, books filled with fabulous wallpaper and fabric samples, random hardware, rubber toys, paper of all types, glitter, hardware, old lab beakers, and so much more!

Their stock includes not only unusual things you may not find anywhere else, but items that sell at craft stores for 20 times the price! The fact that these wares are priced unbelievably dirt-cheap ("starving artist" anyone?) just adds to the already-high bliss factor, as does the fact that each item purchased keeps landfills from growing and leaves the earth a little cleaner and greener. :)

Tamara of
Barker's Herbs and Heirlooms, Lynne of Charmed By Nature, Niffer of 19 Moons, and I (Kylie of SilentLotus Creations) had a fabulous visit, all coming away with finds from there and Construction Junction downstairs. Some of us even left feeling a bit "lighter" after donating our own materials to Creative Reuse Pgh- Nif donated "nif"ty payphone and typewriter hardware and Lynne donated -uh- a big box of rubber poop (don't ask). All of us are big on repurposing vintage or discarded materials in unique ways, me just in the last year or so and mostly from their influence. :) Check out our shops linked to above to see what craftastic creations we each come up with!

Creative Reuse Pgh gets new donations regularly, making it a potential new treasure hunt each time you visit. But despite all of their current finds, they can always take more! Next time you have a box or stack of something ready to be discarded or taken to Goodwill, consider stopping by to see if what you have is something they can use. Donating your discards is easy, and much appreciated. And while there, browse for some new goodies. Need creative inspiration or some obscure piece of something that will make your art piece or craft just perfect? I highly recommend making a trip to Creative Reuse Pgh to purchase materials- what you are wishing for just may await you there. :)

Just keep in mind that shopping open to the public only on Wednesdays from 12-5. Other hours are available by appointment only, so if you can't get there on a Wednesday, make sure to give them a call at (412) 202-4036 or
email them to set up a different time to go.

A section of Creative Reuse's upper level.

Fabulous vintage prints.

A view of the first floor from above.

Lynne's poop was put right out on the floor (front and center)!

The view that greeted us when we arrived: fabric, notions, and so much more.

More upper level goodness.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Meet STE Member Malina of AtlantisAK!

It's time to meet another Steel Town Etsian and find out more about them! Introducing Malina Bowen of AtlantisAK Jewelry on Etsy. So glad to have you on our team, Malina!

Tell us a bit about yourself, name, location, affiliations, personal stuff.
I’m Malina, aka Lee, and I make and design jewelry. I am hoping to expand to other projects shortly to further expand my creativity. I currently live in the McKeesport area East of Pittsburgh with my Fiancée, John. I grew up on a farm in Austin, Pennsylvania. The population in Austin is about 600 people maximum, so everyone knew everyone. My back yard was 10+ acres of land and forest and there was always something to do. This gave lots of room for creativity. I hold Austin dear to my heart and am hoping to move back some day. Coming to Pittsburgh to further my education has been a great experience and journey.

Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I keep to simple things, such as reading, watching movies, shopping and baking. My favorite genres of books are fantasy, such as Stephen King and Anne Rice. For movies, it’s gotta be action, adventure or an awesome horror. 3D makes it even better! I’ve also had a lifelong love for cooking and baking and use my grandmother’s old Betty Crocker cookbook for old home-made goodies. .

What first made you want to become an artist?
Well, most of my family has some sort of artistic talent, so you could say that it runs in my blood to be creative. My grandmother (father’s mother) paints, my grandfather (father’s dad) owns his own woodshop, my mom quilts and has done a lot of cross stitch. It’s a long list of what my relatives do, so I think they’ve all kind of inspired me to do something.

Please describe your creative process how, when, materials, etc.
Honestly I can say that there isn’t an organized ‘creative process’. I like to call it a ‘creative mess’ because when I start making something, it rarely looks like the original idea, if there even was an idea in the first place. Typically I’m more creative and energetic around 5pm through 3am…so this is when most of my work gets done. The materials that I use vary greatly, from sterling silver, to brass, to glass, gemstone and occasionally plastic or Lucite beads. I make sure to keep a variety of materials because not everyone has the same tastes. Re-using or up-cycling things tends to be the most interesting for me because it’s always great to make something new out of something old. There’s also that destructive process involved too, which it’s always fun to tear stuff apart.

What handmade possession do you most cherish?
There are actually two hand-made items that I cherish the most. The first one is what my grandmother (my mom’s mom) had hand quilted for me. My grandmother passed in ’95 when I was 8 years old, so I didn’t get much of a chance to know her. The memories I had of her were always nice and happy. What she made for me was a baby quilt of simple squares and design that I’ve had since birth. It’s now an ugly ragged thing that’s been loved to death over 24 years and has always been close to me wherever I’ve gone. It’s one of the things I brought with me from my home town. The other item was made by Raven, a Native American Spiritualist who was a very close friend. She helped me out when I needed her the most and put me on the path coming to Pittsburgh. Raven passed about 3 years ago due to cancer, so I still miss her greatly. I didn’t get to say goodbye. What she made for me was a large table doily of my favorite, white and black. I also have this with me in Pittsburgh.If I lost either of these items, I don’t know what I’d do.

Name your top five places to be in the Pittsburgh area, books/authors, movies/TV shows, songs/musical groups, and web sites besides Etsy.
Places: Station Square, Point Park, Chop Sticks in Squirrel Hill, Michaels and Starbucks in the Waterfront.Books/Authors: Stephen King, Anne Rice, R.A. Salvatore, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Anne McCaffrey.Movies/TV Shows: Lost, Ice Age, Interview with the Vampire, House and medical shows.Songs/Musical groups: I can’t say that I have a set group of favorites here…I just love to listen to anything from Big Band, Rock, Pop, Metal…I’m not too much of a fan of Country or Rap though.Websites: Regretsy, Netflix, Craftgawker, Torrid, DeviantArt

What advice would you give to artists who are new to the Pittsburgh craft scene?I’d say:-Do what you love. Because, if you do what you love then it’ll be inspiring to continue for many years.-Make friends join a Team! Friends help out and are great for getting word out about your projects. Teams are great for meeting new people and getting information.-Be patient. It takes a lot of work, patience and time to become successful with crafting.-Don’t burn yourself out…if you feel yourself losing interest, take a break and start again later. I find myself going a few days without crafting only to have a sudden creative streak that lasts for days on end.

What are your favorite features on Etsy? What new features would you like to see?
One of the features I’m really wanting to see soon is managing multiple shops on one account. It’s incredibly hard to start a new store with no feedback, no friends, nothing. I’m hoping that when this feature comes around, that when you make your other shops, the feedback and hearts you have on the first one will be reflected on the others. It’s hard starting from square one again with no feedback or ‘trust’ in the community.

How do you promote your work?
I use Twitter, Facebook, CraftGawker, my Blog and word of mouth to promote myself. I paid once to get exposure but never made a sale and hardly any hearts…It didn’t seem worth it when, for free, at the right places I could get sales and many more hearts for no cost.In five years I'd like to be...Ideally, I hope to marry a dark, handsome prince and live in a fantasy land castle far, far away... But if that doesn’t happen, I wouldn’t mind to be able to either have my own brick and mortar store for my creations and/or supplies…or be able to support myself from home off of my Etsy sales and never have to travel to work a 9-5 job again.

Thanks Malina! Please check out Malina's beautiful creations in her etsy shop here: