New Product: Gramma’s Tote Bag

I make a wide variety of vintage book products at Beez by Scranton – handbags, wallets, memory boxes, journals, and more. I’m pleased to announce that I have developed a brand new Beez product: the Gramma’s Tote Bag!

10422971_1090226174321994_7851660295651340460_n[1]

Lots of room inside!
Lots of room inside!

This tote bag is nice and roomy and can be made from a large book – perfect for a children’s book! I think this would make a great gift for a mother or grandmother – make it from their children’s favorite picture book. The pages, as always, are rebound as a paperback so that the kids can still read and enjoy it!

12049615_1090226357655309_2184329062737525947_n[1]

Interested in a Gramma’s Tote Bag? You can contact me at info@beezbyscranton.com. I’ll also be at Crafts at Purchase in Purchase, NY this weekend, so if you plan to be there stop by and say hi!

Advertisements

Halloween: Spooky, creepy, sci-fi purses!

Autumn in New England means foliage, apple cider, pumpkins, and best of all….HALLOWEEN! Of course, at BeeZ by Scranton we love our sci-fi and scary stories and they sure make great purses too. Plus, don’t forget about the best part of buying a BeeZ by Scranton purse – you get a stylish bag AND the book rebound as a paperback! Take a look of some of my spoooooookier offerings….

War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

When an adaptation War of the Worlds was aired on the radio, read by Orson Welles in the style of a newscast, people found it so terrifying that some even thought a space invasion was really happening! This edition of War of the Worlds was illustrated by Edward Gorey, famous for his macabre and entertaining illustrations and books.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Pride and Prejudice is one of my most popular book purses, and here it’s reimagined with zombies – oh my! A bizarre, exciting, and truly weird (in the best possible way) adventure, in purse form.

The Gashlycrumb Tinies by Edward Gorey
The Gashlycrumb Tinies by Edward Gorey

The words are familiar – “A is for Amy who fell down the stairs, B is for Basil, assaulted by bears…” The Gashlycrumb Tinies is one of Edward Gorey’s most famous works – thoroughly deranged yet strangely charming, as is usually the case with his books.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Frankenstein is an enduring classic that ponders whether there is such a thing as too much knowledge – will science, with all the advances it has brought us, be the cause of humanity’s self-destruction? This beautiful edition of Frankenstein is spooky and striking, and would be a great accessory at any Halloween party!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

While certainly a great accessory year round, this purse, made from the final installment of J.K. Rowling’s series, is especially appropriate at Halloween. Magic, sorcery, and the fight between good and evil are major themes in this beautifully-illustrated British edition of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Need a HAUNTINGLY beautiful purse for Halloween this year? Visit my website, beezbyscranton.com, to find out more about ordering a custom purse!

Creative Cocktails at Real Art Ways

If you live near Hartford and you haven’t been to Real Art Ways, it’s about time you checked it out! Real Art Ways is an art cinema, gallery, and venue on Hartford’s historic West End. They are well-known for bringing independent films to Connecticut’s capitol, but they also hold many exciting events. One of their regular monthly events is Creative Cocktail Hour, which is a social event with drinks, food, and music. They frequently showcase local businesses at Creative Cocktail Hour, and I was lucky enough to be one of those businesses last week at their August event.

My booth at Creative Cocktail Hour
My booth at Creative Cocktail Hour

This month, the music was provided by Tal National, a talented band from Niger. They played exciting contemporary African music all night and gathered quite a crowd. The “creative cocktail” served this month was a special apple and basil sangria, which I heard was quite delicious!

My mannequin working hard to display my purses
My mannequin working hard to display my purses

I had a fantastic time at Real Art Ways, as did my son Brett, who was displaying his unique pottery at a neighboring table. Real Art Ways’ Creative Cocktail Hour was a great place to set up shop and the atmosphere was a ton of fun.

Interview: Sandi Plummer

These beautiful button collages, featured in a post a few weeks ago, are made by my good friend Sandi Plummer. She finds all kinds of beautiful vintage buttons and turns them into something even more special – unique button collages.

I met Sandi at a show in Vernon, CT a few years back – one of my first shows. It was not well attended, sadly, but that gave us a chance to get to know each other and become good friends!

Some of Sandi's button collages.
Some of Sandi’s button collages.
  1. When did you first begin making your craft? How did you build it into a business? What did you do before you started crafting?
    I have always been creative.  I graduated from the University of New Mexico with a BFA in Art Ed…but my focus was always the abstract and seeing things in nature that was truly art .After teaching for a couple of years in the early 70’2 I developed a unique craft business using black walnut shells. A divorce many years later terminated this alternative lifestyle and I went to work as an activity director in Assisted Living Communities.  I never stopped creating, making collage masks and eventually jewelry…thus the attraction to the beauty in vintage buttons and their use as an art form.  I began selling my vintage button jewelry about 5 years ago part time and have built it up since my retirement 3 years ago.
  2. What is your typical daily work schedule like?
    Being retired and still having elderly parents who need help, I work on my business more sporadically than most.  The AM is spent checking e-mails and keeping show schedule up to date.  Depending on the commitments of the day, I try to spend 2-4 hours a days in my basement workshop….where it allows quiet, uninterrupted creative time. Weekends are filled up with craft shows between July and Dec, allowing the winter months to be my time to build up inventory and search for the button collections which are the basis of my work.

    Vintage button necklaces
    Vintage button necklaces
  3. What is your personal favorite product that you make? Why?
    I love the find of unique buttons and the stories that are know from some of their history.  It might take a while, but when I find the perfect combination it is quite satisfying to put them together in a pin or necklace like no other.
  4. What was your biggest challenge in building your business?
    Building the business by finding the right niche for my items is my biggest challenge.  I have a fear of doing too much on social media because each piece is one- of – a kind, and my time constraints limit how much time I can devote to the computer and keeping up with orders.  Craft shows seems to be the best way to highlight my different approach to wearable art, but I am always looking for new venues where my craft will stand out in the crowd.

923530_418021861676198_2074819430_n[1]

Interested in seeing more of Sandi’s beautiful work? Head over to her Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/heartartcrafts?fref=ts

Inside the Studio: Booth Setup and Teardown

A lot of work goes into setting up a craft fair booth – more than you might expect! Of course, the bulk of the work (besides actually creating the products) is organizing and packing everything, which is done days in advance of a show, but preparing my booth at a show is no small feat and requires lots of help.

During the craft fair season, I store all of my booth materials in my dining room for easy access. That doesn’t mean easy access to the dining room, by the way!

My booth's "skeleton"  leans against my dining room wall
My booth’s “skeleton” leans against my dining room wall
The hallway full of vintage book purses
The hallway full of vintage book purses

All of this is then moved from my house and into the car for transport prior to each and every show. My sons and their dad are always a big help here!

The truck before it's filled
The truck before it’s filled
Chris in the truck helping to load
Chris in the truck helping to load
Filled to capacity!
Filled to capacity!

After the truck’s filled, it’s time to hit the road. Some of my shows are quite close by, which means we return home each day after, but some are several hours away and we have to stay overnight in a hotel. We usually get to each show a day ahead of time for setup and pre-show events.

When we can't park close to our booth space, we have to drag cartloads of supplies.
When we can’t park close to our booth space, we have to drag cartloads of supplies.
After being set up, the tent is moved to its proper spot.
After being set up, the tent is moved to its proper spot.
The graphic display is set up in front.
The graphic display is set up in front.

After we have all the supplies in place and the basics set up, we arrange the display to look appealing to customers and easy to navigate.

The finished booth, ready for customers!
The finished booth, ready for customers!

After a few days of (hopefully) successful showing and sales, we reverse the process to dismantle, pack, and bring home the booth and all its elements. This is something we repeat on a close to weekly basis during craft show season!

My  next show will be this weekend, August 15 and 16 in Garrison, NY. For more information, as well as more show dates, visit my schedule on my website at http://www.beezbyscranton.com/shows/.

Inside the Studio: Button Alternatives

Have you read enough blog posts about buttons yet on the Beehive? If not, you’re in luck because I have another! Besides, this is only sort of about buttons. It’s actually about the alternative items I use as buttons, that were handmade by fellow crafters.

There are many different materials that can be used as fasteners on my book purses. Pendants, for example, can be a beautiful way to hold a purse closed.

GemsRus Jewelry by Robert Peck
GemsRus Jewelry by Robert Peck – porcelain plate shards wrapped with Beadalon wire
MoonFaerie Designs
Moonfaerie Designs

These pieces by Moonfaerie Designs are bezels made from copyright-free art and resin. You can see more of her work here: https://www.facebook.com/MoonfaerieDesigns?fref=ts

Hilary Grief Designs
Hilary Grief Designs – porcelain plate shards wrapped in silver

You can see more of these gorgeous pendants, as well as a variety of other recycled items, at hilarygriefrecycleddesigns.com.

Faux flowers make great fasteners as well.

Irene Dizes
Irene Dizes – nunu felting with silk and wool.

You can see more beautiful felted work from Irene Dizes at www.handsoncreativity.biz.

ZipPinning by Elaine Milosz
ZipPinning by Elaine Milosz – flowers made from vintage metal zippers

These creative and cute zipper flowers can be purchased on Etsy at etsy.com/shop/ZipPinning

Of course, regular buttons can also be spiced up as button collages. I sometimes make simple ones but my friend Sandi Plummer makes button collages that are absolutely gorgeous.

Sandi Plummer
Sandi Plummer – button collages made of vintage buttons

Sandi Plummer’s vintage button collages are gorgeous. You can see more at: https://www.facebook.com/heartartcrafts?fref=ts

I love getting creative with the details on my purses. Interesting buttons are just one of the ways I am able to exercise my creativity.

Inside the Studio: Kitten Time!

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a big animal lover. From dogs to bees, I am happy when I’m with my animal friends! If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter you’ve probably seen photos of my wonderful dog, Champ:

Champ and his silly little tongue
Champ and his silly little tongue

I also have a cat, a female gray tiger. Recently, she had a litter of kittens! She had four little babies. Three are gray tigers just like her, and one is all black. All, of course, are completely adorable!

Photo Jul 23, 11 10 24 AM
Look at the toes on this one – he’s got eight on each front paw!

Photo Jul 23, 11 05 21 AM

And here’s the proud momma cat! She loves her little kittens and is very gracious about letting visitors pet and play with them.

Photo Jul 23, 11 06 49 AM

I make sure to give her plenty of pets because she deserves the attention after all her hard work as a mom! She is an attentive mom and a wonderful companion as well.