Meet the Shrink! Shrank! Shrunk! jewelry designers

September 28, 2012, 14:31 pm  Posted by Lark

One of the very best things about writing the brand new shrink plastic jewelry book Shrink! Shrank! Shrunk! has been working with the talented group of designers who contribute jewelry designs for the book.

This craft is new enough that looking online for pieces that catch my eye, experiment with a new technique, or make me stop and think, Wow, that’s made from shrink plastic? makes me feel like an explorer.

In the book, the designers are generous enough both to share what they’ve discovered about shrink plastic (how best to print on it, punch holes in it, shape it, fuse pieces of it together, and more) and to answer my endless questions (what size jump ring? which kind of paint? how many inches of chain?). I can’t thank them enough, and I know you’ll want to make just about every project in the book.

These designers are all doing incredible creative work in shrink plastic and many other media. I’ve linked to some of their wonderful Etsy shops and blogs below. Stop by and see what else they’re making! You’ll feel like an explorer, too, and you may discover some great holiday gifts.

You also can download a PDF with the instructions for the book’s Origami Plane Earrings by designer Tonia Mo or for three other projects (Cat and Milk Brooch by Kathy Sheldon, Not-Your-Grandmother’s Cameos by Tamara Berg, and Paper Plane Ride Necklace by Stasia Burrington) by clicking right here. Buy the book on BN.com, Amazon, or at your favorite local craft store or bookseller. And, be sure to join Lark Jewelry & Beading on Facebook for daily pics of great jewelry and beadwork, craft and jewelry community news, and alerts to free projects and giveaways on our blog.



Jodie Anna




Elizabeth Baddeley







Anna Boksenbaum






Tamara Berg








Stasia Burrington





Heather Davidson








Jalene Hernández




Cathe Holden









Dana Holscher





Erin Inglis








Donna Mallard





Tonia Mo





Jessica Poundstone





Stacey Rawlings






Cynthia Shaffer



Kathy Sheldon







Morgan Shooter






Introducing The Best of 500 Ceramics

September 27, 2012, 09:59 am  Posted by Craft Your Life Team

Ceramic art is a big part of our history here at Lark. We have been publishing hardworking and beautiful ceramics books for decades. In fact, our company founder now runs a studio for ceramic artists (Marshall High Studios). So to say everyone here at Lark was excited to work on a special edition of the 500 ceramics series would be an understatement.

Rather than simply pick and choose our favorites from the past decade, we invited many of the best jurors and artists in the field to select their favorites for The Best of 500 Ceramics. We also encouraged jurors to pen a few words on why they thought a particular piece was the best of the best. The result is a book with a layer of thought and contemplation new to the 500 series. For many artists, having a prominent figure in the field comment upon their work was one of the most exciting parts of this project.

I would like to also share a few words from the foreward, written by Glen R. Brown. He does an excellent job summing up where contemporary ceramics finds itself at this moment in time:

“Twenty years of observing contemporary ceramics from the perspective of an art historian and critic have led me to accept a certain paradox: the only sound generalization about contemporary ceramics is that no generalization is ultimately sound.

The field is simply too diverse. In fact, its only truly defining trait, apart from a steadfast devotion to clay, may be the democracy of its embrace. Time-tested ideas are rarely abandoned by the historical wayside, while new trends and techniques exert a constant allure for today’s ceramic artists…

When I served as a juror for Lark Crafts’ 500 Ceramic Sculptures in 2009, I found the experience exhilarating. The process reaffirmed my conviction that clay will never lose its relevance as a medium of expression and an avenue for intellectual exploration. Its applications have been every bit as innovative over the past 10 years as at any time during its long history in human hands.

The Best of 500 Ceramics reflects on that unflagging innovation as much as it recaps a decade of inspiring work. This reflection is unique in that it has been woven from the multiple perspectives of those who know ceramics best.”

You can find The Best of 500 Ceramics at Barnes & Noble and wherever books are sold.



Artful Halloween Peek-a-BOO

September 26, 2012, 09:00 am  Posted by Lark

Yeah, it’s coming. You can tell by the corn mazes popping up across country landscapes, the air beginning to have a crisp nip, and the grocery store shelves groaning under the weight of a plethora of candy. For people that embrace things that go bump in the night, the best time of the year is rapidly approaching. Halloween. An estimated 148 million Americans will partake in some sort of Halloween activity this year and will shell out an average of $66.28 per person on candy, costumes, and decorations. In fact, Halloween enthusiasts are expected to spend $1.6 billion (yes, that’s with a “B”) on decorations alone to scary-up their homes. Those animatronic grim reapers and zombies aren’t free, you know.

We at Lark being a fun-loving bunch, are not immune to the allure of All Hallow’s Eve and have a treat for the holiday reveler. Susan Wasinger, uber-talented craft mistress of the dark, has worked her magic to help clever, crafty folk spookify their houses—both inside and out—in preparation for the big day (or rather night). Her new book, Artful Halloween: 31 Frightfully Elegant Projects, is chockablock with ideas to make your abode frightfully fashionable for the season (Disembodied Hand-in-Glove, anyone?). Pumpkin decorating has become incredibly popular and you may think you’ve seen it all, but we beg to differ: the Peck of Pretty Peculiar Pumpkins section elevates the art to new heights—and no carving is required!




Having some friends over? The Demented & Illuminated Yard Specter would love to greet them.  The combination of fluttering fabric and glowing, glittering light makes this guy the quintessential shape shifter.


Have you ever noticed that old photos of people you don’t know, who lived a long time ago, are just creepy and strange, especially if their eyes glow eerily? We encourage you to set the table—and the mood for your next dinner party—with Creepy Old Photo Place Cards.



This is just a little peek into some of the good stuff being served up in Artful Halloween. Other projects include a garland made with black skeleton flowers, a “blood” splattered paper bouquet, and black doily spider webs.

Susan is also the author of Eco Craft, Fabricate, The Feisty Stitcher, and Sewn by Hand.





Sweet Finds: Harvest Desserts

September 25, 2012, 12:02 pm  Posted by Lark

The scent of woodsmoke; a warm mug clasped between chilly hands; the crunching of leaves; and golden sunlight filtering through rust-colored trees. Ahhh, the arrival of fall.

tree branches and red/orange leaves

And with fall comes harvest-inspired food! Namely, harvest desserts!

basket of apples

Join me in swooning over these stunning sweets that celebrate a season of abundance, the joy of the harvest, and a time of year when it’s a crime not to bake dessert. Thanks to the fabulous bloggers who inspire all of us with their creativity!


photo of apple harvest bread Harvest Apple Challah Bread :: from Lea & Jay


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We’re celebrating the release of our shrink plastic jewelry book, Shrink! Shrank! Shrunk!, with a big giveaway. Four lucky winners will each receive one piece of jewelry from the book, a signed copy of the book, and a pack of shrink plastic from the manufacturers of Shrinky Dinks.

Shrink! Shrank! Shrunk! is filled with how-to information on making jewelry from shrink plastic, step-by-step instructions for more than 30 projects by top Etsy jewelry designers, and pages and pages of graphics (including doodles from Aimee Ray) to trace or print onto your plastic. And you can get it right now from BN.com or Amazon.com.

Three-dimensional flower earrings by Cathe Holden

Look at what you can create! Shrink plastic jewelry can be whimsical or sophisticated, but making it is just plain fun. It feels like a magic trick each time a thin piece of plastic wiggles and shrinks its way into a thick, sturdy piece of jewelry.

It’s become easy to find many types and brands of shrink plastic in craft stores (try the stamping or the kids section) and online. There’s even a kind that lets you print right onto it with your home inkjet printer!

Paper airplane necklace by Stasia Burrington


To enter for a chance to win one piece of jewelry from the book (we’ll choose for you from the Seven Treasure Earrings, the Woodland Creatures Bracelet, the Mexican Oilcloth Necklace, or the Laurel Necklace), a signed copy of the book, and a pack of shrink plastic, simply leave a comment on this post by 9 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, October 3rd. Four winners will be selected at random from among all eligible entries and announced by Wednesday, October 10th. Click here for the official rules.




Russian dolls bracelet, earrings, and hair pins by Morgan Shooter

Laurel necklace by Jessica Poundstone


Crochet Boutique coverMy great aunt Constance is fully responsible for tarnishing my view of crochet—think ill-fitting Christmas sweaters that smelled faintly of cats. Over the years, if anyone mentioned the word “crochet,” I’d flash back to a Polaroid of me standing next to a Christmas tree as a kid, scratching and sneezing. (Shudder.)

But one look at the projects in Rachael Oglesby’s Crochet Boutique forever demolished my unfortunate association with the craft. Crochet is tacky? Wham! Check out the on-trend Chain Scarf on page 54. Too bulky and stiff? Bam! That sleek little Striped Tank on page 74 is something I can wear out to lunch with friends and look totally cool. Old school? Shazam! The Lovely Little Lampshade on page 113 boasts a design that will single-handedly elevate my living room to new fashion heights. Rachael’s pieces are at once current and timeless, and like me, you’ll look forward to creating bags, hats and scarves that will be a part of your life for years to come (and don’t have to smell like cats at all!).

Crochet Boutique projects

Projects from left to right: Chain Scarf, Striped Tank, Lovely Little Lampshade.

You can crochet any of the projects in Crochet Boutique no matter what your skill level. And to help you get started, we’re offering a free book, plus a hook and yarn, to a random winner! Simply leave a comment on this post by 9 pm EST on Tuesday, September 25th. Any comment is fine, but we’d love to hear what you’re crocheting for the coming winter months! One winner will be selected at random from among all eligible entries and notified by Friday, September 28th. Click here for the official rules. This giveaway is now closed and the winner will be contacted soon. Thanks so much to everyone who left a comment. Happy crocheting!


Free Project: Milk and Honey Handmade Soap

September 19, 2012, 11:39 am  Posted by Lark

During the autumnal season of Halloween treats galore, why not indulge in a different kind of treat—make a batch of Milk and Honey Soap from “Soapmaking the Natural Way” by Rebecca Ittner, and enjoy its soothing oatmeal-flecked loveliness.

Also, in case you’ve already caught the pre-holiday gift-planning bug (this time of year just whizzes on by!), remember that handmade soap wrapped in pretty paper makes a stellar stocking stuffer or Thanksgiving hostess gift.

Happy soap-making!



Exciting News from The Makery: Artful E-Commerce in NC

September 18, 2012, 16:22 pm  Posted by Lark

Do you remember last spring when we shared an interview with the fantastic sister trio of The Makery? (Of course you remember them—they’re creative, whip-smart, talented, and all about handmade entrepreneurialism.)

photo of the Sister Team of The Makery

Well: their Kickstarter Campaign for a sales website supporting art and crafts in North Carolina was a success! The new site, aptly named The Makery, is about to launch, and we’re excited for their great news.

Let’s hear from them about upcoming enthusiasm for The Makery, first sales on their e-commerce site, and their “smoffice” success.

(Interview questions answered by Krista Anne of the Sister Team)


The Makery Logo

Since the beginning of your business plan, has the mission, shape, or message of The Makery evolved in any way? Will you remind happy readers about the current ambitions of The Makery?

Certainly! The Makery is helping people buy local and handmade, by hosting online flash sales on artisan goods every week. We’re a new platform for artists and customers to connect, discover, and engage in community supported commerce. The items we feature are a curated selection of the best NC craft; we’re excited about the art, apparel, accessories and homeware people are making right here at home.

There have been some small tweaks and changes as we figure out how to do this right, but the biggest lesson we’ve learned since starting out is how hard craftspeople are working. We’d like to recognize them not only has talented artists, but incredible entrepreneurs that have to wear so many hats to run their businesses. Seeing this makes us even more excited to do what we can to help them connect with new customers.

It also makes us passionate about educating up and comers, and creating a community around the craft movement. It can be a lonely profession, sometimes!


How does the Makery site operate? Do you have to register or become a member? How does buying and selling art/crafts on the site work?

Each week, we will feature four or more cool, local, and handmade items on the site. There will be a limited run of each item, and they will only be available for 48 hours. An email will go out alerting members when the sale goes live. And another great thing about the email – every week it will contain a coupon code so you can get a discount on whatever you want to buy!

Right now, you have to request an invitation to become a member. Once you’re ‘in,’ you receive our emails and gain access to the site.


The first sale is scheduled for September 25th (hooray!)—can you tell us what that means? Can people explore the site or become involved with The Makery before the 25th?

We will be going live with our first artists, sales, and emails on that date. Right now, you can go to www.themakeryproject.com to request an invitation, share the site with friends, and make sure you don’t miss out on our launch! And of course, be our friend on social media so we can keep you updated on the goings-on of The Makery.


You have emphasized the concept of “local” in the past, as well as in our previous fun interview with you. I’m curious: what has your experience been like blending the concept of “local” with the concept of “e-commerce”?

There is so much power in emerging technological trends. Sometimes it feels like the internet tide is going to wash us all away! But I think we’re called to see the ways in which it can advance the good things we believe in. For me and my sisters, it’s connecting our state with handmade goodness. Being an online business allows us to connect and communicate with people outside our immediate circle of friends and acquaintances, and reach a broader community that shares the same passions that we do. It also allows anyone to discover the things they want, regardless of mobility, time, or handmade shopping savvy.


How do you think The Makery benefits artists? Where should NC folks go to learn more about becoming involved with The Makery?

Selling on The Makery has very little front end investment for artists. There are no application fees, and you don’t have to have a huge stock in advance. All you need are some great pictures of your item, a design that is replicable , and the ability to sell wholesale.

We also get to highlight the artist with photos and a biography, so people can get to know the story behind the work. We hope it takes some of the ‘selling’ out of making. We will keep improving the artist side of The Makery as we gain feedback on what they want and need from us.

We’re always on the lookout for artists, they can reach us at ArtistLOVE@themakeryproject.com


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Fleece Hat Friends

September 13, 2012, 11:40 am  Posted by needlearts

We were planning to offer a preview of Fleece Hat Friends last week, but we were in the middle of a heat-wave! Luckily, the temperature around these parts has dropped again and it feels like fall. What better time is there to look ahead to Halloween and beyond?

Fleece Hat Friends is a beginner-friendly book perfect for the coming months. Its projects are made for kids of all ages (in other words, there’s instructions for making them in many sizes!).

For those of you that already sew with fleece, you know its charms! If you don’t, all you need to know is that fleece is soft, warm, easy to wash, comfortable to wear, and it doesn’t ravel–so there’s no need to spend time sewing the edges. What’s not to love?

And the hats inside this book are full of personality. There’s playful furry friends like the puppy and panda. Underwater favorites like the fish and lobster. And creative creatures like the monster and dinosaur. Oh, and of course there’s a couple Halloween classics, like a spider and bat. There’s even a few non-hat add-ons, from a monkey-themed sweatshirt to the tails you see here.

If the author, Mary Rasch, sounds familiar, that’s probably because she’s been featured in magazines and books before, including our very own Stash Happy: Felt! She also blogs over at Mary’s Makings (ilovemarysmakings.blogspot.com).

If you want to flip through the book, you can look inside or check out the video posted over here (thanks to Beach Brights for the video review!). If you like these hats, stay tuned. Sometime soon we’re going to give away one of the original hats made by the author. What one will it be? Well, let’s just say it would go well with Trick or Treating…




Introducing PUSH: Print

September 11, 2012, 16:38 pm  Posted by Lark

The work gathered in the PUSH gallery series is some of the most interesting and innovative work done in contemporary craft today. With beautiful hardcover book design and an attractive layout, the series is a inspiration for artists, crafters, designers, and collectors. The artists hand-picked for each book are pioneers, pushing the boundaries of their respective fields. Each book includes a wealth of images, brief bios, and Q&A style questions between the curator and each artist.

Last year we published the first two books: Paper and Stitchery. An now we celebrate the publication of PUSH Print: 30+ Artists Explore the Boundaries of Printmaking. Juried by Cranky Pressman, this visual feast surveys the work of more than 30 contemporary printmakers from around the world, including renowned names and exciting up-and-comers.

Explore innovative takes on letterpress, screenprinting, woodcutting, lithography, and etching, as well as multimedia and digital approaches to print. Our reviewer friend Beachbrights put together this wonderful little video preview that provides a nice visual tour through the pages of the book.

Artists Include:

Brian Anderson

Sandow Birk

Conrad Botes

Mark Bovey

Cannonball Press

Jason Cantoro

Sean Caulfield

Delicious Design League

Vladimir Dubko

Amze Emmons

Dirk Fowler

Brian Gonzales

Dusty Herbig

Tom Huck

Teresa James

Alice Jarry

Roman Klonek

Michael Krueger

Frank Kwiatkowski

Tom Leighton

The Little Friends of Printmaking

Helen Murgatroyd

Jenny Schmid

Studio on Fire

Rob Swainston

Tugboat Printshop

Jason Urban

Valerie Wallace

Yee-Haw Industries

Katsutoshi Yuasa

Giulia Zaniol