Category: “Meet Your Maker” Vendor Series
Meet Your Maker: Lonesome Traveler

Although Jenny Hill’s business Lonesome Traveler is run by her alone, it radiates the most loving sense of community. Just browse her Instagram and you’ll quickly find hurricane relief efforts, babies, weddings, representation of all peoples, and on top of that beauty- gorgeous neckties. Not just neckties; bow ties, pocket squares, western bows, cuff-links and tie bars, and kid’s bow ties too. Made for ladies and gentleman, this exquisite line of accessories will draw you in for all the right reasons.

tie, handmade, roses, flowers, lonesome, traveler

1| How do you describe your work to people who don’t know anything about crafting/art?

Lonesome Traveler neck-ware accessories are sewn by me, Jenny Hill, in St. Louis, MO. Our goods are created using a collection of vintage, re-purposed, dead-stock and unique found fabrics. All of our neckties, bow ties, pocket squares and women’s western bows are constructed from templates and patterns we develop in-house.  We use natural fabrics exclusively, either linen or cotton, and we strive to use fabrics that are either made in the US and/or are recycled vintage. We offer a standard line as well as custom grooms ties for weddings.

 

2| Why do you make/design things?

I make things because as an artist my brain is always designing and creating, I assume most every artist feels that way. I make things for a living because I worked corporate design jobs in my 20’s and when I hit my 30’s I wanted to find a route where I could work more with my hands (and less with computers) and at the same time be my own boss. I knew I wanted to start a family and wanted to be able to work for myself with the ability to design my own hours and lifestyle.

mother and son, yellow, dress, 1950s, floral

3| What kind of aesthetic do you shoot for when choosing fabrics?

When I am hunting for fabrics, certain styles and patterns just jump out at me, and I try to listen to my gut. I work with a lot of vintage, dead-stock, or other unique fabrics that have that vintage inspired feel. I love big, bold florals, unexpected color combos and retro geometrics. Each season I add new styles and this summer I am introducing more limited edition vintage styles.

 

4| What is it you love about menswear?

I have always loved menswear. When I was younger, I was obsessed with Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire, and more so how they dressed than how they danced. I love that menswear has rules and guidelines, which, of course, are made to be broken. I also am a huge fan of women wearing menswear. About half my clients these days are women, both in every day wear and brides who choose to wear suits for their weddings.

work in progress, sewing, scissors, fabric, vintage

5| What do you love about your job?

I love connecting with clients who not only appreciate the neckties themselves, but also appreciate the fact that I make them! My absolute biggest joy is making neckties for weddings, knowing that I am part of someone’s most magical outfit on their special day. I also love the process of working with brides and grooms to create the perfect tie for their wedding group. Nothing is more exciting than receiving an email with wedding photos featuring my ties on the groom and groomsmen.

 

6| Was being a working artist always your plan or was there an “aha” moment?

I had a very well planned out “aha” moment.  Lonesome Traveler was a thought out business plan, not something that just grew organically. I came up with a plan to make neckties before I left my corporate job so that I could have a lifestyle where I could create and be my own boss. I love to sew and am always drawn to men’s fashion, so it seemed like a logical fit! Luckily for me, there was a space open for me in the market and it took off from there!

groomesmen, tie, tie bar, suits, wedding

7| How do you work, and where?

I work in my home studio in St Louis, MO. It is a home built around 1900 with glorious sunlight, which is great for taking product photos. I use a 1970’s Kenmore sewing machine, a 1930’s White sewing machine, and a 1980’s Elna serger. I work with my baby boy Hugo swaddled to me, or while he naps, and when he goes down at night.

 

8| How did you tackle branding (I’m obsessed with your logo)?

When it comes to branding, I found a graphic designer who is an amazing artist, and who shares my same vision for Lonesome Traveler.  Mary Frances Foster, who is also out of St Louis, created my logo, which really captures the rustic and vintage Americana feel of my pattern selection.

branding, wedding, logo, lonesome, traveler bow tie

9| If you could swap lives with another artist, who would that person be?

I would love to swap lives with Nikki Lane for about 2 weeks, maybe do a short tour for her. I have all the visual talents but no musical talent. Her voice is so beautiful and unique, and she knows how to kick back and have a good time.  Ride around the country and play music with my love… doesn’t seem like a bad life to be living.

 

10| What makes a handmade object valuable?

A handmade object is valuable because of the process that goes into it. The passion and thought and time that goes into each piece, which for us artists often means late nights, pots of coffee and endless podcasts to get orders done. Specifically for the weddings I do, the love comes in the collaboration with the groom, or the bride if she is wearing a tie, and the story that that process tells. It truly melts my heart to see how excited the grooms get to pick out fabric for their big day.

workshop, tools, knoll, burgundy, thread

11| Using that definition, what’s the most valuable object you own?

My favorite pieces of art that I own (if you can call them an object) are my tattoos. For the most part they are designed by my tattooer Josh Howard. Josh is a classically trained artist and an old school tattooer. He always works with me to turn my concepts into images more beautiful than I could ever imagine. His process of drawing and tattooing, plus my process of pain and healing really make these pieces the most valuable artwork I treasure most. You can see pictures of my tattoos on my Instagram, they always make their appearance in product shots.

 

12| Tell us one true thing about yourself that people don’t believe when you tell them.

People are always surprised that I am a practicing Jew. I am covered in tattoos and, for some reason, I guess I don’t look like what people would expect a Jewish woman to look like, but I go to temple at least once a week. I am member of an amazingly progressive temple in St. Louis, and our Rabbi do a lot of work with the Black Lives Matter movement, LGBTQ awareness, and Muslim American inclusivity. This is my other community, outside of the crafting world.

florals, ties, handmade, handkerchief, boutineer

13| Give us three more non-crafting-related details about you or your life.

-I have lived in 5 cities; Chicago, Los Angeles, Madison, Dallas and St Louis. Most all of these moves were just for fun.

-I absolutely love to swim. I swam though my whole pregnancy up to the day my baby boy was born, about 10 hours before I went into labor, and got him into the pool when he hit 2 months. He is almost 4 months now and loves the water as much as I do. He is quite the hit at the indoor YMCA pool. We cannot wait for summer!

-I see a friend every day. If I have no plans, I take my boy Hugo to the coffee shop to see our friends who work there. A day without friends doesn’t really count in my book.

Love Lonesome Traveler? Come shop her work right here on Mass. Ave. at Homespun! Or, take a look at her website, Instagram @lonesome_traveler, or Facebook. Thanks Jenny!

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Meet Your Maker: Solder & Sage

You can see the feeling of peaceful ease with which Katy Froeter of Solder & Sage imbues each piece of jewelry she makes. The forms and materials convey a sense of movement or solidity, always simplicity. It’s buying handmade at it’s finest; learn more about her process and experience working in Chicago, IL.

ring, handmade, solder and sage1| How do you describe your work to people who don’t know anything about crafting/art?

As a jeweler, I focus on lost wax casting, which is carving design in wax and then casting, where the wax is lost and replaced with metal. I accompany the cast items with hand-formed and solder pieces.

 

2| Why do you make/design things?

I make things because to me, it is one of the truest forms of meditation I experience. It is one of the rare places that I am able to completely focus on what I am doing – creating little bits of beauty for beautiful people.

jewelry, katy froeter, ring, handmade

3| What do you love about the jewelry making process?

I love the entire process of jewelry making. Soldering and casting are probably my favorite parts. The idea that I can heat metal and form something completely different always amazes me.

 

4| Describe your aesthetic. Where do you get inspiration for your designs?

My aesthetic has been described to me as Scandinavian design. I love creating clean lines in large shapes with a focus on minimalism, so I can easily see correlation. My inspiration comes from my experiences ranging from traveling, spending time in nature, and the silence of daily life.

jewelry, solder, necklace, handmade

5| What do you love about your job?

That even after 5+ years, everyday is different.

 

6| Was being a working artist always your plan or was there an “aha” moment?

Being an artist was always in my in blood, although I didn’t think that it was a possibility to become self-sufficient at it. Eventually I realized that life is tough, so I decide to accept the struggle and choose to struggle at what I want most in this world and be willing to let everything else go. Getting laid off from my dream job, fired from a part-time restaurant gig and quitting a bunch of okay jobs because they weren’t the right fit also helped me be able to take the plunge from part-time to full-time.

solder, process, jewelry, handmade

7| How do you work, and where?

For years I worked in a collective metals studio that was beyond helpful in getting going. Now I have my own studio, which is instrumental in getting production work done. For me a big part of the creative process is creating empty space/time for something creative to grow. So the solitude of working independently greatly helps to facilitate that process.

 

8| Describe a day in the life.

Every day is different. Although there is an outline that I like to adhere to.

Wake up and meditate for about an hour.

Followed by a protein shake and vitamins.

Next are emails and any other computer work I need to get done.

Then I will head to my studio and do my best to check out from email/social media, etc.

If I am really on my game, I take a late afternoon run. (Typically I am not on my game.)

My nights are often filled with classes from metalsmithing to ceramics, movies with friends, or family dinners.

solder, process, jewelry, metal, handmade, necklace

9| If you could swap lives with another artist, who would that person be?

No one! My work is an expression of my life, so having to live in someone else’s place seems sad and lonely. Although I would be best friends with Banksy in a heart beat! Banksy – if you are reading – I promise to keep your secret safe!

 

earrings, brass, minimal, solder and sage, handmade

10| What makes a handmade object valuable?

The intention put into that piece and the atmosphere around it. I think that there is something special about buying something made with love. It helps to remind us where, who we were with and what we were feeling when we got it. It’s those memories that are the most valuable, so the work needs to last a long time!

 

11| Using that definition, what’s the most valuable object you own?

A beat up 1969 Montgomery Ward: Retail and Catalog Store Facilities map, I brought it with my oldest sister at the Randolph Street Market in Chicago. It was of one the first pieces of “art” that I ever purchased and well before I had any serious intentions of striking out on my own. Now I look at it and see all of the places that I have been able to travel for work and think of all the lovely people I have met along the way. Even my small hometown of 15,000 people somehow made it on this map; it couldn’t be more perfect to track my life.

necklace, brass, minimal, solder, and sage, handmade

12| Tell us one true thing about yourself that people don’t believe when you tell them.

I’m shy. Which always receives a hard, “No you’re not!”

 

13| Give us three more non-crafting-related details about you or your life.

  1. I am the youngest of 4 girls.
  2. My sister just older than me was in some sort of non-fatal (or very serious) swimming lesson incident when she was learning to swim at the park district. So my mom never took me to get swimming lessons because she didn’t feel as though it was safe enough.
  3. When I was 5 years old at a family vacation in North Carolina at the pool, I got tired of only being able to use floaties to swim. Without telling anyone, I proceeded to the deep end of the pool, took off my floaties and pushed myself from wall to wall at the corner of the pool until I figured out how to swim. That pretty much sums up my life.

Want to see these beauties in person? We’ve got a selection of her work here in the shop, and you can find her online on her website or Instagram.

 

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Meet Your Maker:
Jodi Lynn’s Emporium of Doodles

Are you a science buff? History enthusiast? Illustration aficionado? Then Jodi Lynn’s Emporium of Doodles is going to be like heaven to you. Jodi Lynn Burton expertly captures the essence of some of the most important figures of our time in her home studio in Detroit, MI. But she’s not always so serious- anything that might tickle her fancy she captures in ink and line and adds it to her emporium. You’re sure to find something to appreciate in this magical, imaginary place.

1| How do you describe your work to people who don’t know anything about crafting/art?

I am an illustrator that likes to catalog the things in the world.

 

2| Why do you make/design things?

I make things because as an artist it is my job to collect ideas, and it is my way of recording those ideas through my art.

 

3| Please describe your illustration style. Are your originals made in watercolor or some other medium?

I would describe my drawing style as simple, whimsical,  naive. I just like to draw. I use pen and ink and water color in my originals.

4| How do you choose who to feature on your laser cut magnets? Are you a science buff? Any other series on the horizon?

I love learning about people and history, so if I find someone that I want to learn more about sometime they get drawn. I like to know the stories of people and what they have done in History. I am always working on new ideas for series. I am currently really big into cross sections of animals, but I could see a lady scientist series happening in the near future…

 

5| What do you love about your job?

I love that I can wake up every day and am excited about creating something new.

 

6| Was being a working artist always your plan or was there an “aha” moment?

No, my family always told me I was going to be an artist. I wanted to go into psychology, so I ended up doing 3.5 years of psych in college and after taking photography classes flipped the switch completely. I had always made stuff, but never thought it was a career. I actually worked as a photographer before I started as an illustrator.

7| How do you work, and where?

I work out of a 300 square foot apartment in Detroit. I always carry a sketch book with me, and sometimes I go on walks around the city to become inspired.

 

8| If you could swap lives with another artist, who would that person be?

Honestly I wouldn’t want to swap lives with anyone, I feel so lucky to have been given the life I have.

 

9| What makes a handmade object valuable?

Handmade objects tell a story, they come from an individual, and you can talk to the artist about how they made the item.

 

10| Using that definition, what’s the most valuable object you own?

A quilt that my grandmother and I made as a child.

11| Tell us one true thing about yourself that people don’t believe when you tell them.

I host a podcast called Detroit Craft Academy.

 

12| Give us three more non-crafting-related details about you or your life.

I play banjo, I went to school for photography, I collect wire frame bikes.

 

13| I see you do custom pet portraits! That’s awesome. Would you ever consider doing human portraits?

I do people portraits all of the time. I do custom work for hire, recently I have been doing custom cake toppers for wedding cakes!

 

 

Wanna delve deeper into the emporium? Check out her website or Instagram as well as www.detroitcraftacademy.com. You can also check out her amazing work right here on Mass Ave.! Thanks Jodi Lynn!

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Meet Your Maker
Riley Construction Toys

Something about the combination of care, detail, and imagination give toys from Riley Construction Toys a spark of real happiness. Looking at April’s dolls, you’re transported to your own childhood, each one could easily be a friend with unique details like glasses, hair styles, and stylish clothing. Not only are her dolls glowing with cheer, each unique stuffed toy, print, or pin carries her signature good-vibe. She also has a new business, RileyMade, for patterns and designs for the DIYer. Read on to learn more about this joyful creative!

1| How do you describe your work to people who don’t know anything about crafting/art?

I create handmade heirloom dolls and soft plush toys that speak to the child in all of us! From plush campfires and s’mores to mermaid and Unicorn Girl dolls, all of my toys are imaginative, charming, and vibrant. I start by drawing and painting silly illustrations that sometimes are converted into sewing patterns and sometimes just stay illustrations. I’ve also started a line of simple plushie sewing patterns for the craft-curious.

 

2| Why do you make/design things?

I’ve been creating and making since I could hold a crayon in my hand. For me, it’s a natural expression of my thoughts and ideas and a concrete way of making connections with others. I was a passionate collector of adorable toys and I remember designing my own toys when I was a kid!   I was convinced that Mattel or Hasbro or whoever would pay big money for my original designs! 😉

I love the way that the distance between the producer and consumer is lessened when we buy/sell handmade.  Connect ions and appreciation is what it’s all about.

3| Do you ever do custom work?

I used to – but I don’t any more; I work full time and it’s just so hard to keep up with.  I’m always happy to tweak something like a skin color or hair color tho, easy-peasy 🙂

 

4| What encouragement would you offer to first time sewers using your patterns?

Don’t stress – there are no “right” or “wrong” outcomes and your finished project  will be unique to you.  Don’t forget you have resources if you get stuck – YouTube is chock full of simple explanations and how-to’s.  Most importantly, have fun and enjoy the simple pleasure of creating!

5| What do you love about your job?

I get to be a kid again! I love when the adults who come into my booth at an art show get excited about my work and feel, even if it’s just for a minute, like they’re kids again, playing in their blanket forts. I love when kids bond with my toys because it is supremely validating –it means I’ve found that magical formula that makes the pretend play happen and that’s an alchemy you can’t force – the magic happens when it happens.

 

6| Was being a working artist always your plan or was there an “aha” moment?

That’s hard to answer! I always wanted to make and create interesting, colorful art. I wanted to design toys when I was a kid, then I wanted to be a children’s book author and illustrator… but this was pre-internet and nobody I knew did these things for a living and I didn’t know how to start doing these things, so I just went to school and did regular people jobs instead.

Somewhere in my twenties, my husband and I moved to St. Louis. I started making accessories to sell for fun, discovered the world of indie craft online, and started a St. Louis chapter of the Craft Mafia because I knew the crafties were out there and needed to band together.

When my son was two or three, I started making some stuffed animals for fun. I’d been longing to do it but I worried that I might not be taken seriously as an artist and designer. But once I started, I couldn’t stop. I started making rag dolls about a year or two after I had been making animals and objects. The very first batch of dolls was so magical and adorable – I still have my first rag doll – that I knew I would be making them for a very long time after that. I’ve been making dolls and stuffies ever since.

7| How do you work, and where?

I have a day job, so I work on evenings and weekends. No holidays for this maker! It’s craft season all year round for me. We live in a two bedroom flat, and the “dining room” is my maker space. I’m a champion at storing my materials, tools, and inventories in a small space.

I don’t like routine so I jump into whatever process feels right and gets me in a flow – designing new patterns, tedious routine work like embroidering faces, putting in safety eyeballs, product photography, whatever suits my frame of mind. I have several different projects going at once, so I have lots of interesting tasks to choose from. I can’t work in silence, so there’s either music or Netflix happening, and there’s usually a cat or two nearby.

I’m always sketching, writing notes to myself, thinking of new ideas… it’s hard to turn that channel off when I’m doing other things.

I love to draw and paint and I try to incorporate those other artworks into my product photos – sometimes I draw a scene on a big sheet of paper – there is almost always a cat that wanders by and sits on the paper. I also love to design original display pieces for craft fairs and art shows – it’s kind of like a giant grown-up version of a playhouse or blanket fort full of cute handmade props. I put my jigsaw and drill to good use in the month before a big show and I rarely use the same setup twice. It’s labor-intensive to decorate a booth or tent this way, but my philosophy is “go big or go home!” If you don’t want to be noticed or seen at an art exhibition, why else are you there?

 

8| Where do you go for inspiration?

I’m most inspired visually – I love looking at children’s illustration and fabric design – but I’m also inspired by music.  New music is like candy for me!  Somewhere where those two types of sensory input intersect.

I need a jumping-off point sometimes – I might have a nebulous idea that needs fleshing out so I’ll go on Pinterest or Instagram and swim through the images until I see things that start to help me tell a story and then I’m able to put my pencil to paper and start sketching.  If I can fully visualize a design, I know I’m ready to move forward.

9| If you could swap lives with another artist, who would that person be?

Maybe a surface pattern designer – because their work has the potential to be seen in a lot of ways and because they are so prolific. I would especially love to create multimedia artwork that is digitally manipulated to become surface patterns from the comfort of a high ceiling-ed, well-lit studio full of coffee and cats!

 

10| What makes a handmade object valuable?

Scarcity – the scarcity of time and materials used to create it. The feeling it evokes. Its story and its journey paired with your story and your journey. The way that a handmade object is embedded into your everyday life, not hidden away behind glass. The way it’s meant to be enjoyed and used up.

11| Using that definition, what’s the most valuable object you own?

My vintage Strawberry Shortcake dolls. They’re out of production, they created a lifelong love of toys and pretend play, they inspired me to create and design. I spent many happy hours playing with them, creating with them. Oh, and they still smell nice!

 

12| Tell us one true thing about yourself that people don’t believe when you tell them.

That my childhood idols were Elvira, Mistress of the Night, and Strawberry Shortcake. Those two characters combined pretty much sum up my personality. I am equal parts silly and dark.

13| Give us three more non-crafting-related details about you or your life.

-I write poetry, mostly for kids. I started writing poetry for kids when I was a kid, LOL. I think maybe it will end up in a self-published book of poems about weird, wonderful, angsty kids.

-I just teamed up with two other fiber artists to curate and sell fabric bundles – we are all three hugely passionate about quilting cottons and modern designs. Modern fabrics feature heavily in our own individual designs and products and we love curating new collections and coming up with creative ways to use the different fabric combinations. (Bundles + Bolts) www.bundlesandbolts.etsy.com

-I have a ferret. His name is Jack Bauer. He steals dry cat food, small potatoes, and earbuds and hides them behind the curio cabinet.

-I love planning indie craft shows and helping other makers tell their stories.

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Wanna feel like a kid again? We’ve got a whole slew of dolls in all kinds of designs that you won’t find online here at the shop. Come and check them out and get one for your favorite little- or maybe even yourself! And be sure to follow April and Riley Construction toys on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!

 

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Meet Your Maker: Megan Lee Designs

Megan Owdom-Weitz is the Megan behind Megan Lee Designs. She creates quirky, state themed, hand-printed goods that are classics here at the shop. Read on to learn about her passion and her process, and stop by to check out some of her lovely (and funny) creations in person!

 

1| How do you describe your work to people who don’t know anything about crafting/art?

This is actually really hard for us — we are constantly trying to figure out a way for people to understand what we do. We often say that we are a screenprinting company, but really we are a design company that chooses to print our designs using silkscreens. I like to also think we could use the terms fashion and illustration to describe our business.

 

2| Why do you make/design things?

I have always been a maker since I was young, I’m one of those weird people that likes to put together IKEA furniture. In college I got a design degree at Kent State and learned so much about the importance of negative space and many more design concepts like training your eye. It took me awhile to realize that I was happier making and designing by hand than just moving objects and type around on a computer.

3| What do you love about your job?

I love the flexibility most of all, but seeing smiles on peoples faces when they are shopping in person and finding shoppers that “get” my designs is the best feeling.

 

4| Was being a working artist always your plan or was there an “aha” moment?

In college I had decided that I was going to work at a design firm and work on things like Annual Reports — which I did for awhile, and then I discovered the DIY movement in Chicago and began selling things that I had just been making on the side as a hobby. This was all before I learned to screenprint, but it planted the seed that I could possibly work for myself and started to change my ideas about what success could mean to me.

5| How do you work, and where?

This is always changing — we have a studio in Berwyn, but we actually just moved to Ohio (Westerville just north of Columbus) a few months ago and will eventually move our studio here. I used to do all of the printing and now I do almost none of it. I would like to do a bit more, but right now I am focusing on design and lots of day to day business tasks, along with taking care of a new baby and a toddler.

 

6| You are the maker behind our popular “I’m IN Love” tees- do you make a design for all 50 states?

I DO have designs for all 50 states, and a few of the states have more than one option. I started with the Midwest and then branched out when Nordstrom picked up our line and wanted to sell all 50 states online.

7| Tell us about your design aesthetic. What words would you use to describe your drawings?

I would say fun, quick, sketchy, whimsical…I try not to try too hard because I feel like that’s when they don’t work for me. Often its my first go at a new subject that looks the best.

 

8| If you could swap lives with another artist, who would that person be?

I think it would be fun to be a “REAL” fashion designer for a bit — maybe Betsey Johnson? She always seems like she is having so much fun and I love her style.

9| What makes a handmade object valuable?

I think just the intrinsic fact that it IS handmade — I am obsessed with handmade plush and cute art that almost always involves animals or everday objects with a face…I know there’s a word for that but its not coming to me (I need more coffee).

 

10| Using that definition, what’s the most valuable object you own?

Hmmm…I don’t know that I could narrow it down to one, but I love all of the items that I have gotten from craft shows over the years, whether its jewelry, clothing, art or even food.

11| Tell us one true thing about yourself that people don’t believe when you tell them.

People probably would not believe that I can deadlift more than 200 pounds.

 

12| Give us three more non-crafting-related details about you or your life.

Well in the same vein, I am an avid crossfitter and LOVE to lift. I also love to cook, especially Mexican food. I love to dye and cut my own hair, its a bit of an obsession.

13| Where do you see Megan Lee Designs in the next 5 years?

Wellllll…we moved to Ohio recently to be closer to family, and actually just signed a lease on a new studio space that has a retail component. Its located in Westerville, Ohio, where we bought our house, so we are super excited about finally having a location where people can shop in person. If you ever come to Columbus be sure to look us up, there are some surprisingly hip bars/restaurants/shops in Uptown Westerville — I’m proud to now call it home!


Need more Megan Lee? Come check out her goods right here in the shop, or check her out online, on Etsy, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram! Thanks, Megan!

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