Friday, October 31, 2008

O, Canada

Three great Canadian sites of interest to online handmade sellers:

Project Wonderful : An ad banner rotation site, but with a sensible approach and not a hint of the sleaziness that many of these types of sites emit.

Poppytalk : A design blog with an eye-pleasing marketplace adjunct. : This is perhaps the best of the unEtsy sites out there right now

Keep an eye to the North...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Handmade History: Lye Soap

To make Ley. Provide a large tub, made of pine or ash, and set it on a form, so high, that a tub can stand under it. Make a hole, an inch in diameter, near the bottom, on one side. Lay bricks, inside, about this hole, and straw over them. To every seven bushels of ashes, add two gallons of unslacked lime, and throw in the ashes and lime in alternate layers...

From A Treatise on Domestic Economy by Catharine Esther Beecher, 1843

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Handmade History: Shirtwaists

Shirtwaists, or blouses, were mainly manufactured in what we would consider sweatshops today (like the Triangle Shirtwaist Company, where a tragic fire took the lives of over 150 women). Normally made of cotton, these were the everyday tops worn by working women and housewives in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Higher-quality versions were made of finer fabrics including linen and silk, and as this 1918 note from the New York Times explains, usually found in specialty shops. As the "Roaring 20s" approached and New York tastes became increasingly affluent, these finer shirtwaists, which were often custom sewn and and hand-decorated, grew in demand to the point that even department stores began to carry them.

But then, as now, it seems, many did not appreciate that handmade items have an intrinsically higher value than manufactured goods. Just a few months after the note above appeared in the fashion columns of the New York Times, this item ran: