Madison Etsy Explorations - Isthmus

The Fairy Garden (11/4/2009)
Halloween may have come and gone but that doesn't mean the little ones have to stop playing dress up. Playing princess has never been easier or more adorable than with a tutu from The Fairy Garden. With only a little tulle and a little sparkle, shop owner Heidi Duss has created an invitation to the magical world of make-believe for your child.
A Handmade Portland (10/7/2009)
I have a fairly large jewelry collection; consequently if I am going to expand my collection the piece needs to be unusual. Ordinary just won't do. Classic hoops are not going to excite me, neither are plain gold studs. Luckily, Etsy is ripe with unique shops and A Handmade Portland is no exception. Owner Josie Cantu has filled her store with distinct and varying jewelry. It's hard to settle on just one to call your favorite. It's a treasure trove calling out for a captor.
Kristy Sly Glass (9/2/2009)
My usual criterion for purchasing a bottle of wine is that it must be a bottle of red, preferably a malbec, and it must have a pretty wine label. I enjoy wine, but as evident by the aforementioned criteria, I am not a wine connoisseur. Since I pay more attention to the design aesthetic, it makes sense that I'm attracted to unusual wine stoppers. I adored the Murano glass wine stopper my husband and I picked up in Venice, and have kicked myself since for giving it away as a gift. Stumbling on the wine stoppers at Kristy Sly Glass was like returning to the winding Venetian alleys.
Prettifications (8/12/2009)
Vintage pieces add a certain je ne sais quoi quality to an outfit, a character that is hard to replicate but easy to love. One may spend hours combing antique stores and flea markets for the perfect original piece, the time you spend adding more history and memories for what will soon become a treasure. Prettifications is a shop that should be placed on your treasure map, one to visit again and again.
Late Summer Sales in Lean Times (7/29/2009)
In a troubled economy, it is handy to have your eye out for a good deal. As any recessionista would say, looking fabulous for less isn't hard as long as you know where to look. And lucky for you, I've got my finger on the Etsy pulse.
HRS Designs (7/15/2009)
Bold jewelry choices do not necessarily mean wearing a very complex and intricate piece. Sometimes simple lines can make the biggest statement. The jewelry of HRS Designs reflects this sentiment with pieces that convey a modern simplicity, allowing the stone or bead to do much of the talking.
Annabel's Aprons (7/1/2009)
Move over "kiss the cook," there's a new apron in town. I am not a chef; in fact I can't even say I cook. I have been known to reheat food from time to time and I make a mean cheese and crackers. That being said, I may enroll in a cooking class just to rationalize wearing one of the fabulous creations by Annabel's Aprons.
Red Otter (6/17/2009)
To do lists are a daily part of my life. I have them scrambled on tiny post-its and scraps of paper, littering the dark corners of my tote bag. Sometimes I splurge and buy cute little notepads for my lists, although those tend to get used quickly as I almost invent lists just to use them. The notebooks at Red Otter would be no exception for me.
Collar my world (6/12/2009)
The online art-and craft site Etsy is a marketplace with a mission: to "reconnect makers with buyers." On, Megan Larson highlights the work of Etsy shop-owners from the area in her twice-monthly column, "Madison Etsy Explorations." Here are some of her recent finds. Read the full reviews and Q&A's at
Sugar Plum Collars (6/03/2009)
I don't own a dog but the collars at Sugar Plum Collars jumped out at me no less because of it. Sewn with fabric that is bright and colorful, each one is adorable. The patterns are fun and certainly not ones that you have ever seen used for a dog collar before. A Sugar Plum collar would definitely make your pup the most unique on the block.
JSN Style (5/20/2009)
Fresh and fun, fabrics can add an extra special touch to any project. Recognizing the importance of good fabric, Aime Meyers utilizes the charm of Amy Butler's fabrics in her eye pillows. Relaxing in style is easy with Meyers' lavender filled sachets, sold in her Etsy shop JSN Style.
TieBeau (5/06/2009)
When I discovered Catherine Boldt's Etsy shop, TieBeau, I have to admit I was a bit envious that I had not thought of her idea myself. Boldt repurposes cast aside vintage ties into very fun and brightly colored headbands. She has taken ties past their fashion prime and reinvented them as hip hair accessories. Favoring the '50s and '60s, Boldt's headbands uniquely tell the story of a bygone era.
Aunty K's Crocheted Guyz (4/22/2009)
Recently I was shopping for a children's gift and found it hard not to be overwhelmed by the vast number of branded toys reaching out to grab my attention. I am not a Barney fan and frankly, I've never seen Dora the Explorer.
Erin Bowe Artisan Jewelry (4/08/2009)
I took a metalsmithing jewelry class in high school. My 16-year-old self had this fantasy of discovering an inner bohemian with a raw talent for creating gorgeous pieces of jewelry that everyone would just die to wear. But like many teenage expectations, mine failed to live up to the dream I had created in my mind.
Pattern and Memory (3/25/2009)
When I was young, a visit to my grandparents' house often-meant time spent visiting in the kitchen. Whether it was helping my grandmother prep for dinner or making malts with my grandfather, it's a time I associate with youth and family and one particular pattern.
Ole Rattlesnake (3/11/2009)
Mustaches are hot. Now these are three words I never imagined myself saying, but it is no less true. If you haven't noticed the mustache trend, keep your eye out and I guarantee you will suddenly see them everywhere. Not on upper lips mind you, but rather in a quirky new design aesthetic growing in the Internet art and craft market.
Madison Craft (2/25/2009)
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all? It's a difficult question to answer when perusing the pocket mirrors of Madison Craft. Each mirror is unique with bright, graphic images to make even the reapplication of lipstick a fun endeavor. Each one makes me smile, making me want not just one, but several.
Shopping locally for Valentine's Day (2/11/2009)
Valentine's Day is approaching quickly and last minute shopping can be a major pain. It is hard to make a gift look thoughtful when it screams, "I'm from the Walgreens that just happened to be on the way to your house."
Art Kitten (2/4/2009)
Sweet and thoughtful are sentiments that I hope I convey in my Valentine's gifts and in turn, hope to receive in mine. It doesn't need to cost a lot in order for me to love a present. For me, it really is the thought that counts.
Artsy Fartsy (1/28/2009)
Expressing your feelings on a Valentine can cause some anxiety. The decision to go cheeky or sappy can prove difficult especially in the early stages of a relationship. Now I won't presume to tell you which type of Valentine is best, this isn't a relationship column after all. But I can let you in on an Etsy shop that carries both.
Bare Tree Apparel (1/21/2009)
Valentine's Day shopping for men can be a bit more difficult than it is for the ladies. There is no quintessential gift equivalent to jewelry for the boys. At the same time, this leaves a great deal of choices at your disposal.
BigiB Designs (1/14/2009)
Valentine's Day is exactly one month from today, the perfect time to start thinking about what you want to give the special woman in your life. Jewelry is certainly a staple for the upcoming holiday. Small boxes trimmed with ribbon are the most likely to be seen on many restaurant tables come February 14, but that doesn't mean your gift can't be unique.
Tyler Poncho and Everyday Monsters (1/7/2009)
The holidays have passed, the parties are over and if you are like me, a slight sadness has set in as the remaining winter months loom ahead. It is definitely time for a pick-me-up. The fanciful creatures of Tyler Poncho and Everyday Monsters are just the answer to lighten the spirit and bring out your inner child.
Wild Plum Mosaics (12/17/2008)
My husband and I took a trip to Italy a couple summers ago. Our stop in Venice was a highlight, stepping across bridges and winding our way through the maze-like city, and finding something new at every turn. Glimpses of everyday Venetian life grew the further we winded away from the train station.
Out of the Box Bead Designs (12/10/2008)
Holiday parties have begun to fill my calendar and with each RSVP, I find myself searching for the perfect piece of jewelry to highlight my party wear. What better way to be merry than with a sparkly bauble?
622 press (12/3/2008)
The holiday season has arrived, and with it packages and cards will soon begin to alight your doorstep from family and friends. Certainly it is hard to match the happiness that comes from opening your mailbox to find a holiday card from someone dear.
Little Diva Shop (11/25/2008)
The season's first snow blanketed Madison early Monday morning, firmly leaving autumn behind and reminding us that it is time to bundle up. Choices in winter accessories are definitely plentiful in Wisconsin, but the run-of-the-mill stocking cap can be a bit boring. Jennifer Samuels' Little Diva Shop can help you fight the winter blues and perk up any snowy day.
Whimsy House (11/19/2008)
Recycled and vintage pieces have found a home at the Whimsy House. Aptly named, Molly Bernier's online store carries a wide array of jewelry that embraces your lighthearted side.
Pravina Studio (11/12/2008)
I definitely have a fondness for bags. My husband teases me that I carry not only one bag, but that I have bags inside of bags. Those with a bag fetish like me will love Pravina Studio.
Spend green locally at holiday markets and art fairs in Madison (11/6/2008)
Looking for the perfect gift during the holiday season for the loved ones in your life can be stressful. If you are like me and have given Uncle Fred one too many sweaters, it may be time to go in search of a more unique gift.
Jenny Blasen Pottery (11/5/2008)
When I was young, birthday dinners were chosen by the honoree. We got to pick the entire menu and it was served on a birthday plate that let everyone at the table know that it was your special day. I loved that my plate was different than the others. And with that tiny gesture, a typical family dinner was turned into a treasured memory.
Space Oddities (10/29/2008)
I oftentimes rip pages from magazines when I am inspired by cool images. I have a pile of these pages sitting in a sad corner of my home office, waiting patiently for the right craft project to come along. This may be why I was so attracted to Andrea Thorson's Space Oddities shop on Etsy.
Steinvika Fine Silver and Copper Enamels (10/22/2008)
Hues of orange and red adorn every street, but the leaves are falling and November is almost here. Steinvika Fine Silver and Copper Enamels has embraced this autumn flavor with its Prairie Collection of beautifully vivid jewelry. Every piece created by owner Linda Stanek shines.
Mud and Mint (10/15/2008)
Cari Scott's jewelry line named Mud and Mint immediately grabbed my attention with its unique simplicity. Her "color pools" earrings combine two vibrant colors in a way that conveys a playful sense of style. And with multiple color variations available, you are sure to find one that pleases your own sense of style. Scott answered a few questions over email about her work and art.

I'm a freelance writer for Isthmus Newspaper

During 2008-2009 I wrote a shopping column on local Etsy purveyors for Isthmus Newspaper's website, The Daily Page. I featured local artists and craftsmen who sell their wares through Etsy, a shopping website dedicated to selling & buying handmade goods. My column highlighted that while we are an increasingly global economy, it is important to celebrate and support local goods in our community.