Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Green Living: Maggie Hand Painted

We often think about the effects of waste and pollution on the planet. No one likes to visit a park and find trash on the ground, or see empty water bottles floating by in the pond. We think about the animals and plants that we want to protect. This is obviously a very important cause. But sometimes we forget that people are affected too, that there is a very human side to environmental problems. We are strongly connected to the earth. We are only as healthy as the air we breath and the water we drink.

No one knows this human side better than Maggie Miller, owner of Maggie Hand Painted. I asked Maggie to tell me why her life and her art has to be green.

'I'm a supporter of [the green] movement not just because it is important to our planet but because of the health implications...I have no choice but to create and live in [a green way] for health and personal reasons...I acquired an immune disorder which has debilitated me. It almost took my life [and] that was no [laughing] matter. For the past couple years it has affected my breathing, [given me] serious skin reactions [and] chronic fatigue. I could no longer paint or work with the materials I used to work with.'

'I had to change my home environment to 100% green in order to stay in my own home, change all my cloths to avoid skin reactions, and change how I created my art. I could no longer paint in oils and use all the products I was used to. [I] had to research green alternatives. I educated myself on green living; [particularly] green living for people with immune disorders- what they could and could not have in their homes.'

'Art was a big factor. People don't realize the gases [that] oil paints and varnishes release [in the air and] on your walls. So I decided to turn all of [my] art into a green process, making it accessible to all of my clients, especially those with immune disorders [like me].'

'Every material I use, [including] paints, varnishes, [and] fabrics have to be organic, recycled, [and] nontoxic because I cannot touch or breath anything that will affect my health.'

'My company is undergoing a complete green certification process, [all the way down to] my energy source. Once complete, I will receive my certification seal to be posted on my main website. [My materials are] all non-toxic, organic, or recycled. [Even] the paper I use is made [from] sugar cane.'

'My mission [is] to educate my clients about the green process[es] [I use in my art, and] the importance [of] supporting artists/crafters who create in [an environmentally friendly] manner. [It not only it helps] our planet, it helps [artists] make a living and supports our economy.'

'My plan for the future is to expand my product line and introduce a new eco-green linen line, and a soap line from my family's soap recipes. Maggie also plans on opening a store front...'It is getting crowded in my home studio and I need a place for designers to see my line of furniture, which I'm most know for. I have yet to list those on my Esty shop but you can see my furniture on my main website.'

Check out Maggie's website and her Etsy shop.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Fashion and Beauty: Libunnyfoofoo

Lets play a little game...I want you to think of your favourite accessory. It could be a lovely piece of jewelry, a tie, a bag, a scarf, whatever. Now, use your imagination and think of that accessory as having a personality. Is it bright and cheery? Funny? A diva? Or very sensible?

It's kind of fun to think of our wardrobe pieces having personality and character. Really, we wear our accessories as an extension of ourselves. We want to show our personality to the world through our favourite pieces. It may be kind of silly to imagine our necklaces and hair clips talking with an accent, or having a bee hive hairdo, but when we have a connection with our accessories we're more likely to value them- the materials they're made of, where they come from, and whose hands made them. With value comes respect. Respect for the hands at work, as well as the materials that came from the earth.

Keep our little game in mind as you read my interview with Erin Farmer, owner and creator or Libunnyfoofoo: Handmade, one of a kind, eco friendly headbands, head pieces, hair Bows, and hairpins. Erin is giving poor old, forgotten jewelry supplies a second chance!

'I'm trying to give some really cool vintage [supplies] (jewelry and trim) new life and keep [them] out of the landfills. Almost all my supplies are used, given, recycled, vintage, broken or unwanted in some way.'

'My mother is my biggest inspiration. As a little girl I would sit by her side as she crafted and [I would] look through a box of old buttons that I loved. At Christmas the tree was covered in garlands, strung from vintage necklaces, brooches and earrings as well as a new handmade ornament for every year. So that's where it all comes from.'

'Over the last two years, my father had become very ill and I had become unemployed. We set up some yard sales and one of the things left over was a bag with old jewelry and beads. I wanted to make something beautiful and useful that I could wear, but I'm not really into jewelry. Then I came up with the headband idea. Soon I had 30 headbands, more than I could ever wear and I set up shop.'

'I feel [that] everything sold today is so mass [marketed] at sterile. None of it has any soul and the marketing is so aggressive. You could make or reuse almost anything you can buy, it just takes effort and that's the hard part, even for me.'

'If I need something I try to think of a way to get it without buying something new. Freecycle, craigslist, and Ebay are a big help in this department...Recently I bought 17 pounds of junk jewelry off Ebay. Along with a ton of stuff I can use for my headbands, I got lots of beads and necklaces. [I've] been experimenting with upcycling and repairing the vintage necklaces and earrings so look for that in the next few months, along with more wedding style headbands for the spring.'

'I have the world's best husband and three loving cats that keep me going when I'm feeling down. Many thanks to them, for bringing my life such joy...As for my green live style, I live in a fantastically old 1917 house that I love. It has a huge backyard that we fill with vegetables and flowers and fruits every year. We do a ton of canning and are members of our local CSA. This year we are even keeping bees and have built a bat house to put up on the roof. In the basement we brew beer and sake and mead. My husband bakes the best bread. We have two big compost piles in the backyard and I am a heavy recycler.'

'What I love about Etsy is that every time you buy you are directly impacting another human being in a positive way. Everyone who has bought one of my headbands has also [brought] me hope and happiness. Just try to remember that feeling the next time you see something new and shiny and on sale [at a big box store].'

You can check out Erin's handmade head wear at her online shop, Libunnyfoofoo.