"If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud." ~ Emile Zola

21 June 2010

SilentLotus and Friends Take on Lawrenceville Little Flea

We went, we vended, we bought, we roasted. Fellow Steel Town Etsy members Tam of Barker's Herbs & Heirlooms, Kathryn of Go Carr Go, and I (SilentLotus Creations) headed to Lawrenceville this past Saturday to take part in the charming and eclectic Little Flea! The Lawrenceville Little Flea is a weekly neighborhood marketplace that happens every Saturday at 36th & Butler, with rotating local vendors of both typical flea market fare and handcrafted goods. From 8am - 3pm, the three of us peddled our handmade creations and vintage goods in the sweltering heat with 12 other vendors, using the temp and hot sun as an excuse to seek out thirst- and tummy-quenching treats from Butler Street's yummy coffee and bake shops (thanks for the iced soy chai and vegan cupcakes, Espresso A Mano and Dozen). :)

Some of my jewels crafted from vintage jewelry components and findings.

Tam indulges my picture-taking urges and oversees our tent. :)

Kathryn's fabulous paper-cutting work!

The other vendors were in good spirits, chatting and laughing with one another and with flea shoppers. It was great to meet the friendly bunch, who provided us with some handmade, vintage, and thrifted bargains when we needed a break from our tables. I found an old rocking chair and vintage pieces to use in my jewelry making. :) There were clothes, dishes, photographs, textiles, chairs, tools and hardware, and plenty of supplies for upcycled art and craft projects. Chris from Signworks managed to sell a ginormous disco ball- wish I had a picture of that guy rolling away his enormous (seriously, I betcha two people could curl up inside) purchase, the glass tiles flashing in the sun and blinding passersby. lol

Little Flea.

Customers were friendly, too, and curious, quick to ask questions, join in a conversation, and or express support of our wares. Sales were okay, but I'm told there has been a much better turnout in previous weeks. And, in any case, I witnessed plenty of folks carrying their finds happily away. Like any market, success ebbs and flows on any particular day. I'd definitely recommend giving Little Flea and the Lawrenceville area shops a visit as either a vendor or shopper. It was a great day, and the rotating vendors promise new treasures every week!

Tamara's unique steampunk creations made with upcycled materials.

My original art prints and magnets.

18 June 2010

Shepard Fairey Rocks

I love these Shepard Fairey prints. He recently had a big exhibition in Pittsburgh, where I discovered some new favorites.

"Syracuse Cultural Worker Peace Offset"
(This one hangs in my dining room, a gift from my brother.)


"Monkeypod Gold"


17 June 2010

Handmade Birdie Baby Shower!

So my sister's baby shower was this past Saturday, seeing months of planning come to happy fruition! My sister is due at the end of July, and I am SOOO excited to meet her baby girl! :)

We decided on a handmade bird-flower theme for this garden baby shower, and scoured the internet for ideas and Etsy for shops that could help us bring the theme to life. I came across this great shop,
lilsproutgreetings, for an invitation, sold as a digital file that we could print ourselves for the cost of printing a regular photo (I used Shutterfly). Here's the design I chose, and the wonderful way Amanda customized it for us (pink one)! Isn't it so sweet? :D

As shower favors, we decided on little packets of wildflower seeds with a little felt bird pin. I found some adorable mini plush birdie magnets on Etsy that I just fell in love with, from of Ella of
ellaenchantedshop. She agreed to make a batch for us without the magnet in customized colors and came up with an adorable design, which we glued pins to! I divided a hummingbird-butterfly wildflower mixture into little glassine envelopes and fastened them with glue and a sticker with planting instructions. We wrapped them with pink baker's twine and paired them with a birdie.

The shower was held outdoors, and the tables were decorated with fresh flowers in pink and white. Lunch was fresh salads of all kinds, yummy drinks, and homemade cookies to match the pink and white deocrations. I contributed fruit salad to the garden brunch. I mixed watermelon, pineapple, red grapes, and clementines and sprinkled tiny little purple and yellow violas (from the plant I am growing) on top to make it pretty.

My sister loved the shower, and the favors and my salad were a big hit! :) Yay!

15 June 2010

Three Rivers Art Fest- IMI and Crafty Kids

This past Friday, I was lucky enough to work with I Made It! Market (IMI) at the Creativity Zone at the 2010 Three Rivers Arts Fest in downtown Pittsburgh! Local crafters were invited by IMI to plan and offer a crafty project to kids attending the fest as part of the free activities going on. Doing so would not only help IMI continue to establish itself as the best nomadic indie crafts market around, but also expose children to handmade and the arts. As a bonus, those crafters who participated were able to sell our wares to the Three Rivers Arts Fest crowd. Yay! :)

The crafty project I chose for the kiddos involved using fabric from vintage fabric sample books (found at Creative Reuse Pittsburgh) to make DIY journals. The fabric was used as the cover, and the kids chose paper to be stapled inside.

Fabric pieces from vintage fabric sample books were used as journal covers.

I brought vintage sequins and beads, foam shapes, and plenty O glitter for them to decorate their covers. Despite my nervousness that the local kids' scene would be tough on me, they loved it! :)

I made a few journals as samples.

This was also my first experience selling at Three Rivers, and I was thrilled at how receptive the crowds were. It was a fabulous day, despite sunburn. :/ A huge thank you to Carrie of IMI, who was so kind and sweet as to encourage me to sell to customers while she took over my craft project. Carrie, you are a rock star! *HUG* :)

Craft table at the Arts Fest IMI Tent, all ready to go (pre-glitter disaster).

Kiddos DIY.

Word of the day? Sparkle!

14 June 2010

Baking Out Loud: Vegan Strawberry Shortcake!

It's National Strawberry Shortcake Day! :D What better time to share my favorite recipe for vegan strawberry shortcake? The strawberries are sweet, juicy, and delish this time of year- make this while they are in season locally!

Vegan Strawberry Shortcake (6 Servings)

(*my comments are in pink*)

This is such a yummy recipe. It's kind of time-intensive, but absolutely worth it. I made the berries first, then let them marinate while I made the shortcakes and whipped cream (I have used storebought, too, and it works well).

The BEST Vegan Whipped Cream

1/4 cup unbleached white flour
3/4 cup non-dairy milk
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup non-dairy butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1. In a small sauce pan, combine the flour and milk and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until VERY thick. Remove from heat and chill completely.

2. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the powdered sugar and margarine until smooth. Add the extracts and beat until combined. Begin adding the cooled flour/soy milk paste 2 Tbsp. at a time and beating thoroughly after each addition until the mixture is completely smooth and the paste is incorporated.

3. Sometimes a hot kitchen or the action of the blender will cause your whipped cream to be VERY runny. Just pop it into the fridge for a bit and let it firm up to your desired consistency. Also, if you don't finish all the shortcakes in your first sitting (highly unlikely!!), refrigerate the whipped cream. This action will firm it up. Simply let it sit out for 10-20 minutes and stir again before using.

Strawberry Filling

Make sure you choose ripe, whole berries with little to no white areas, no moldy spots. Organic is always best (they are on the list of top 12 foods that should always be bought organic), and those grown in CA are best avoided.

4 cups sliced strawberries (about 2 pints)
2 Tablespoons granulated unrefined sugar
1 to 2 Tablespoons Grand Marnier or orange juice (optional) (I recommend 2T, as this time I made it with just one and we would have like more sauce.)

1. Place 2 cups sliced strawberries in a bowl. Sprinkle with sugar and crush lightly with fork. Stir in remaining berries along with Grand Marnier or orange juice, if using.

2. Set aside for 20-30 minutes.

Vegan Shortcakes

1/3 cup non-dairy milk
1 teaspoon lemon juice or cider vinegar
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3 Tablespoons granulated unrefined sugar, plus 1 teaspoon to sprinkle on dough
1 1/2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (I am not a fan of nutmeg in this recipe, and prefer to leave it out)
1/3 cup non-dairy butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Set rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2. Combine milk and lemon juice or vinegar in measuring cup. Set aside for at least 5 minutes to curdle.

3. Combine flours, 3 Tablespoons sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg in large bowl. Stir well with wire whisk to aerate and combine.

4. Use small spoon to drop tiny bits of butter evenly over flour mixture. With pastry blender or fork, work in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

5. Add vanilla to milk mixture and drizzle over dry ingredients. Stir with fork just until mixture forms soft dough. (Do not overwork dough.) Personally, I just pick it all up and work it together with my hands.

6. Divide dough into 6 equal portions and place on prepared baking sheet. Shape into round blobs approximately 1" thick. Sprinkle the tops with 1 teaspoon sugar.

7. Bake until tops have hint of color and bottoms are lightly browned, 10-12 minutes (watch so they don't burn). Transfer shortcakes to wire rack to cool.

Serve shortcakes topped with the yummy berries and a large dollop of whipped cream. SO fresh, light and awesome!

Razblint and the Two Bears

Last year I vended at the same local indie craft event as Margaret from Razblint, known as PenelopeBox on Etsy and multi-talented, dynamic, and compassionate creator of fantastical and adorable handmade creatures, bizarre art, stories and films, and loads more! I fell in love with Margaret's unusual plushies right away, so when we again ended up vending at the same event a couple of months ago I was super happy. When I saw a crafty shopper walking from Margaret's table away with an adorable stuffed panda that would be a perfect gift for my new baby niece, I asked her to make one for me. And she DID! YAY! :)

The panda is just too cute for words, super soft (made from fleecy upcycled sweatshirts), and waiting for baby love (or love from you)! Don't you love her?

When T saw my niece's panda, she asked me to contact Margaret about making another special bear for a new baby, this one a brown bear with a Canadian maple leaf for expecting friends from Canada. haha And she DID! And wait until you see him? He's all soft and brown and velvety (made from an upcyled velvet coat) and very, very wide and squishy. :)

Thanks so much to Margaret for crafting these adorable, sweet bears just for us! You're wonderful! :)

10 June 2010

Color Fling!

Check out this treasury I made featuring the talented veg artisans of the EtsyVeg and Vegan Etsy Teams! It's actually my entry into a Vegan Etsy challenge, and how many visitors and clicks on individual listings each treasury gathers factors into who wins! So please visit and clickety-click, and share! Thanks! :)

My Stuff is Famous!

Well, not really, but almost. ;) Thanks to these fabulous Etsy folks, my art and jewelry has been featured on Etsy in treasuries of favorite handmade creations over the past couple of weeks! Check out their fabulous shops:

Thanks so much to all of you! :D

09 June 2010

How Does My Garden Grow?

Following up on my first garden post & pics with some updates! Well, with Pittsburgh's crazy onslaught of rain and thunderstorms, some of the garden is exploding with growth while some is, well... struggling. The storms and downpours have made for a lot of cleanup in the garden, and for hours I've picked little weeds, removed sticks ond rocks, and pruned demolished leaves on the greens. Some of the pics I'm sharing are pre-pruning and cleaning up from the storms.

Week 4

The tomato plant has grown a lot in height and has gotten it's first flowers! Yay! I think we'll need to trim it back a bit so that it is less spindly and more bushy. The cucumber plants are nicely building up. They are vining, but no flowers yet. We expect them soon.

Cukes and tomatoes.

The beans are growing, too! We saw our first sprouts the very day I last posted about the garden. Been training them to vine up the poles. The carrots are getting their *real* carrot leaves- woot!

Green beans (above) and carrots.

Urgh. The lettuce plants we put in the garden are slowly growing, but have taken a big beating by the storming. :/ So many leaves were tattered and buried in the mud that the plants seemed shrunken when I was done pruning. None of our own lettuce in salads yet because of this.The baby lettuce and spinach were totally pummeled by the heavy rain, smushed and flattened into the soil. Pruning was more like lifting the tiny leaves out of the mud and brushing them off (what was left) so that they can hopefully revive.

Pummeled greens. :(

Wildflowers? Eh. Also ravaged by rain and by the rain streaming off of the roof of the shed they are planted beside. I don't have high hopes for the explosion of flowers I initially hoped for. I added more seed and fertilized, so we'll see what happens.

Wildflowers. Sparse and beaten down or washed away. Come on little sprouts- you can do it!

Guess what? We have a rogue pumpkin plant in the garden, a surprise product of either last year's planting or the compost we added to the soil. :) So cool!

More later...


Sophie is an excellent helper.

08 June 2010

A Trip to Creative Reuse Pittsburgh- The Coolest Way to Make Eco-friendly Art!

Last Wednesday, I and three of my best crafty pals and fellow Steel Town Etsy admins headed to the awesomely eco-friendly Creative Reuse Pittburgh (Pgh), a local green organization that accepts unwanted materials for reuse and sells them uber cheap to the creative public! According to their website, Creative Reuse Pgh, which was founded in 2007 and became a project of the Pennsylvania Resources Council in February, is a nonprofit organization that seeks to "keep perfectly good stuff out of the landfill, provide opportunities for people to put it to good (re)use, help forward the movement toward a greener globe, and encourage folks to explore." Sound too idyllic? Maybe... except for that they actually make all of that happen!

A haven to those who can make something out of anything (or anything out of something), the project's brick-and-mortar stash-shop is located within Construction Junction (who donated the space) on Meade Street in Point Breeze. Creatively cluttered, the two-level space is packed from floor to ceiling with everything you can imagine that could be re-used in making art and given new life. Exploring the nooks and crannies, boxes and piles is really an artsy flea market/thrift store shopper's dream, and during our trip revealed wooden dowels, vintage fabric and notions, office supplies, containers, vintage art, books filled with fabulous wallpaper and fabric samples, random hardware, rubber toys, paper of all types, glitter, hardware, old lab beakers, and so much more!

Creative Reuse Pgh's stock includes not only unusual things you may not find anywhere else, but items that sell at craft stores for 20 times the price! The fact that these wares are priced unbelievably dirt-cheap ("starving artist" anyone?) just adds to the already-high bliss factor, as does the fact that each item purchased keeps landfills from growing and leaves the earth a little cleaner and greener. :)

Tamara of
Barker's Herbs and Heirlooms, Lynne of Charmed By Nature, Niffer of 19 Moons, and I (Kylie of SilentLotus Creations) had a fabulous visit, all coming away with finds from there and Construction Junction downstairs. Some of us even left feeling a bit "lighter" after donating our own materials to Creative Reuse Pgh- Nif donated "nif"ty payphone and typewriter hardware and Lynne donated -uh- a big box of rubber poop (don't ask).

All of us are big on repurposing vintage or discarded materials in unique ways, me just in the last year or so and mostly from their influence. :) Check out their shops linked to above to see what craftastic creations they come up with, and check out my newest items as a sampling of what I have been making!

Creative Reuse Pgh gets new donations regularly, making it a potential new treasure hunt each time you visit. But despite all of their current finds, they can always take more! Next time you have a box or stack of something ready to be discarded or taken to Goodwill, consider stopping by to see if what you have is something they can use. Donating your discards is easy, and much appreciated. And while there, browse for some new goodies.

Need creative inspiration or some obscure piece of something that will make your art piece or craft just perfect? I highly recommend making a trip to Creative Reuse Pgh to purchase materials- what you are wishing for just may await you there. :)

Just keep in mind that shopping is open to the public only on Wednesdays from 12-5. Other hours are available by appointment only, so if you can't get there on a Wednesday, make sure to give them a call at (412) 202-4036 or
email them to set up a different time to go. They are quick to respond and very accomodating. :)

A section of Creative Reuse's upper level.

Fabulous vintage prints.

A view of the first floor from above.

Lynne's poop was put right out on the floor (front and center)!

The view that greeted us when we arrived: fabric, notions, and so much more.

More upper level goodness.