Get in the mood for Earth Day...

Handmade Cavalcade Gift Guide for Teens

Teens - I have two I have to buy for and crimminy it is hard.  I suppose I could send them a check or iTunes gift card and call it a day, but that's what everyone else does.  I'm crazy Aunt Holly, I'm suppose to send awesome gifts.  That was much easier when they were little bitties (look for that gift guide on December 2nd).

I have gathered a small collection of gifts you might find just right for your own hard to buy for teen.  All of the featured products are from members of The {NewNew} who will be participating in this years Holiday Handmade Cavalcade.

I found this unique knit power cord at KnitKnit.

Be In The Moment has these terrific pendants

The Ninth Avenue Necklace by Wish by Felicity

Find this fabulous florescent pink wishbone necklace at Knock Knock Studio

Grounsel has a great recycled tie iPhone case.  It was featured in TONY!

So those are just a few suggestions. There will be plenty more at the Cavalcade on December 3rd.  You can find all the info right here.

Happy Shopping
Holly / EllisDesign

Sailor's Knot Bracelet Tutorial

Last year, the lovely Simone from Groundsel posted this great tutorial on sailor's knot bracelets. This Saturday, June 25th, Simone, Pria, and I will be doing demonstrations and helping visitors make their own bracelets at Governors Island. Please join us at House 6B in Nolan Park at Governors Island from 2pm-4pm. While you're there, be sure to take a look around the Better Than Jam Pop-Up Shop at Governors Island, filled with the best handmade goodies by local artisans. See you there!

Supplies you’ll need:
  • 3.5 yards of twine
  • 14 ounce can for a smaller bracelet or a 20 ounce can for a larger bracelet. Any other round object that has the appropriate circumference for your wrist will do.
1. Wrap one end of the twine around the can to shape an X. Leave about a 4" tail. You will need this tail at the end to finish the bracelet.
2. Wrap the long end of the twine around the can again and bring it up to the middle of the X. Then pass the long end of the twine under the right, upper leg of the X and pull the long end all the way through.

3. Next, move the upper left leg of the X over the right leg of the X to create an oval shape.

4. Pull the long end of the twine through the oval shaped opening you just set up.

5. Turn the can a bit and you will see that the oval shape has created another X shape. Again, pass the long end of the twine under the right upper leg of the X and pull the end through.
6. Repeat steps 3 through 5 until you get to the beginning of your project.
7. You will now find a three-stranded braid. Follow the twine you initially laid out and create a parallel second line. 
8. Continue around the can. If you find that it's getting too tight to pass the twine through the openings, you may want to take the bracelet off the can and continue with the knotting in your hand. If you take it off, be careful not to pull the twine too tight, otherwise your bracelet will shrink on your wrist. 
9. Continue knotting the rope around the bracelet until each strand of the braid has one parallel line — a total of three passes. At this point you can stop or add another three passes to create the traditional pattern of three parallel lines, like the bracelet in the third picture in this step.
10. To finish, just knot the ends together and weave them into the inside of the bracelet.


What Makes Valentine's Day Sweet To You

If you can't get enough Valentine's Day, then today is your lucky day!  Get your fill of sweetness from The {NewNew} and then check out some of our friends and their blogs about this notorious day of romance, flowers and of course sweets.
Andrea Davis: Pure Food Nutrition: Valentine’s Day Chocolate: Good & Good for You?
The Bitchy Waiter:  F*ck Cupid
Brooklyn Flea:  You Gotta Have Heart
The Experimental Gourmand:  Valentine’s Day Special Dinner
Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market:  A Blog Affair to Remember
Metalicious Jewelry:  Well Hello February 
Kumquat Cupcakery:  My Messy Pink Kitchen

Did I mention sweets? Chocolate and conversation hearts, what more could you ask for? Maybe a lot of them.  Did you know.....
A bowl just waiting to be filled with conversation hearts by LennyMud
  • More than 36 MILLION heart shaped boxes of candy will be given and received this year. (
  • About 8 BILLION candy hearts will be made.  If you put them all side by side they would reach from the city of romance, Rome, all the way to Valentine Arizona -- not just once mind you, 20 times and back again! (
  • Those candy conversation hearts have been around a long time.  NECCO, the maker of them, started putting those catchy little phrases on them all the way back in 1866, and we've been in love with them ever since. (Sweethearts: The Continued Success of America's Favorite Valentine's Candy, 2010)
Of course, candy is only one of thing that makes Valentine's Day sweet for The {NewNew}, when I posed the question I found out there was a whole lot more.

Home is Where The Heart is by JDavisStudio
Mom has been making Valentine's day special for a long time and {NewNew} members Lorrie from LennyMud, Alton of AltonWeekes and Jill from JDavisStudio remind us how sweet mom can make Valentine's Day:

Lorrie's mom made the day special by summoning the Valentine's Day Pixie.  The Pixie is a magical creature that would ring the doorbell several times over the course of the day and leave presents on the doorstep.  Today, Lorrie shares the same tradition with her kids.

Alton's mom and her Valentine's day tradition are actually the driving force behind him starting his stationery design studio.  Every year Alton's mom would give him and his sisters a box of valentine cards to share with classmates.  Those little cards with cupid, hearts and sweet sayings were Alton's introduction to stationery beyond birthday cards.  It was the holiday of love that inspired Alton's love of stationery.

Jill's mom started sending her special Valentine's day care packages back in college and still does today.  They are filled will fun things like candy, silly jewelry, even the occasional McDonalds gift card. Way to go Jill's Mom!

I Do Card by Alton Weekes
Let's face it, nothing makes Valentine's day more romantic than a ring, and I don't mean the doorbell.  A ring is exactly what Loella from LoellaMedina and Angel from CardsInStitches got one Valentine's day.

With the view of the New York skyline in the night time sky Loli's best friend surprised her by popping the big question.

Now Angel, has a bit of a different story.  She got married not just on Valentines day 2003, but on the 5 am Eyewitness News along with 4 other couples!  She found out on Monday that she'd be getting married on Friday at Tavern on the Green in Central Park all expenses paid.  Now that's what I call one sweet Valentines Day!

Since The {NewNew} is an Etsy team made up of the best and brightest artists and designers in the tri-state New York craft scene, it is no surprise that DIY valentines are high on the list of sweet things about the day. Nothing makes Simone, from Groundsel, smile more on Valentine's day than a handmade valentine.  Anne from Felt It loves making valentines for family and friends with her three year old.  Each year her daughters designs become more creative and intricate, I bet it won't be long before she has an Etsy shop.  Jennifer from MellowBeing recalls Valentine's day as a time to make valentines for her mom and friends.

Love painting by LennyMud
Dinner, mix tapes and wearing red made the sweet list among {NewNew'ers} too.
Jody at AStudioByTheSea makes Valentine's day sweet by planning a special night out with her husband of 23 years.  But they do it a little different, they skip the February 14th crowds and inflated dinner prices and celebrate at a fancy restaurant a day or so off.  What a great idea, we may just do that this year too!

Te Amo Card by S2 Stationery and Design
Sara from S2 Stationery and Design has mixed feelings about the holiday but has a great tradition of making a mix CD she calls the "Love Mix" and shares it with friends.  It's her way to let them know that she supports and loves them no matter what.

The perfect notebook for February by CardsinStitches
Lisa from Pretty Stationery loves that Valentine's day is close to Chinese New Year so she gets to wear red and eat candy for two weeks.

And finally, Stephanie from MulryJewels finds sweetness on Valentines day by simply remembering and being thankful for all the love in her life, romantic and otherwise.

Wishing you all the sweetest Valentine's day.
Holly / EllisDesign

Black Friday Sale - A Peek at a Few Participating Shops

More than 30 of the independent designers, artists, artisans and crafters from The {NewNew} are participating in this terrific event that runs through Monday 11/29/10. Over the next few days we'll be featuring items from each shop to give you a sample of the amazing items available.
Groundsel makes some of the most lovely bags
I have seen. This one is a wristlet made from an
upcycled men's herringbone suit. The removable sage
green microsuede bow makes it extra festive. $50
These wire earrings from Meliannaa
are the perfect bauble to decorate her ears this
holiday season. $12
All I want for Christmas is a cuff from webbedware!
This is just one of the wonderful cuffs available
priced from $39 - $39
Kipi's altered book paintings make perfect gifts
for just about anyone. Priced from $25 - $43
Festive handblown glass earrings from SDVDesigns. These beautiful earrings will dress up any outfit. $25
Reindeer schmeindeer, this holiday it's all about the Moose!
Just one of the fun kids designs from
Felt It. $20
You'll want to get yourself a whole forest of these
wonderful little felt trees from
The Honey Pie Tree.
Use them to trim gifts, decorate your tree, or as the
perfect little stocking stuffer. $8
Don't forget kitty! These jewel toned felt balls from KittyJones
are the best cat toys ever. You'll have as much fun watching
them toss and bat them around as they will playing with them. $7
Be sure to check out all the other shops with great Black Friday / Cyber Monday specials:

Wish upon a Snowflake - Tutorial

As I was sorting through our holiday decorations, I stumbled upon some instructions for paper snowflakes and stars, which inspired me to cut up some snowflakes of my own -- out of fabric. You may know how to do this already, but here is a quick refresher:


  • a square fabric remnant, this example uses a 6 inch square
  • very sharp scissors


Base Shape

Iron the fabric square flat.
Create a triangle by folding the square on the diagonal from one corner to another.
Fold the triangle in half along the center. Iron.
Open up the triangle and take the right corner and fold it over to the lower left at about a 60 degree angle along the middle crease.
Repeat with the other side until you have a symmetrical shape. Iron.
Cut a straight line across the base of the shape to create a triangle.
This is the basic shape from which you start a snowflake

Cutting out the Snowflake

To make a 6-pointed star shaped snowflake do the following:
Cut out a triangle on the base of the snowflake. The deeper your triangle, the longer the points of the star will become.
On each side of the triangle cut out a shallow oval.
Snip off the tip of the triangle
Open up the snowflake and iron it.
That's it.

You can use this snowflake to decorate a card, include it as part of an applique project, or attach it to your window for the holidays with a cornstarch and water "glue." If you wish you can also adhere fusible web to the fabric square in the first step and create an iron-on applique. Obviously there are many ways to cutout different shapes from the base shape. You may want to use paper squares to experiment with different patterns first and then transfer your designs to a fabric square. 

Have fun!


Artistic Process: How did you learn the discipline you work in now?

"I learned the bulk of my skills between the ages of 8 and 18 from the women in my family. My mother taught me how to sew from Simplicity patterns. My Chinese grandmother taught me how to crochet (there's a way to break a language barrier). And my mother, girlfriend, and I struggled through many a knitting patterns to figure out fair isle and cables. Embroidery is something I picked up in middle school. I have a wall at home covered with my samplers; one dates back to 1978. I love the idea of traditional skills passing down from one generation to the next. Although the next generation in our household is more concerned with conquering another level of the latest Pokemon game. Is there a Sewing Mama game for the DS?"


Felted Memories

Every time we come home from the beach, we return with at least a handful of rocks scavenged from the sea. I recently saw some felted rocks at a museum store and decided to try this technique to decorate our rocks instead of painting them. My research led me to two blogs that discussed the manufacturing process in some detail:

Julie of Crafting A Green World explains her process, in which she felts a rock by hand. Margaret of resurrection fern had enough of handwashing and decided to use her washing machine to do the job. I tried both methods and these are my findings:


For this project you need
  • Rocks, mine were about 1.5 to 2 inches in diameter
  • Wool roving, you can find it on Etsy
  • Dish soap
  • Pantyhose, if you want to try the machine method

  • Take a bit of wool roving and wrap it around your rock. I didn't want to fully cover my rocks so my layer is somewhat thin.

    Using the dish soap and hot water, soap up your rock. If you decide to follow Julie's hand felting method, continue to wash the rock, move it around, squeeze out a bit of soap, and continue to rub it until it is felted to your liking. If you are hand felting, squeeze out as much of the soap as you can making sure that the rock is covered with the felt and let it dry.

    If you want to felt your rock in the machine, cut off a pantyhose leg, and begin to fill it with your soapy rocks tying off each rock separately so they don't felt against one another.

    I live in an apartment building that just got new machines. Because I didn't want to incur my neighbors' wrath, I limited myself to two rocks, tied those into my pajama pants, and washed everything together with a heavy blanket on hot. Margaret is much more courageous. She made a string of 19-plus rocks. Whether you follow her example depends on your living situation.

    So here is the outcome. This is the hand felted rock. Not as smooth and somewhat fuzzy.

    These are the machine washed rocks. They are very smooth and quite perfect looking. All of them are beautiful, I think. It just depends what your personal preference is.

    Just one thing, if your super gets upset when you felt your vacation souvenirs in the machine, don't refer him or her to this blog.



    How-To: Turn Bags into Beads

    I've become somewhat of a curator of plastic bags. In fact, there are some doors you shouldn't open in my house because you will be buried under an avalanche of interesting plastic. Primarily, I fuse these bags into collages and turn them into other things like: BEADS.

    If you would like to transform your own collection of plastic bags into beads, follow these instructions:


    • Clean plastic bag

    • Parchment paper

    • Iron

    • E6000 or similar glue

    • Toothpicks

    • Scissors

    • Ruler
    Fusing the Plastic

    Place two layers of plastic between two sheets of parchment on a hard surface and iron them together using a low setting with the steam set to off.

    That will leave you with a sheet that looks like this:

    Making the Bead

    Cut out a triangular shape that is about 4 inches long and 1/2 inch wide at the bottom. You can play around with the sizing. The wider the triangle, the longer the bead and the longer the triangle, the fatter the bead.

    With a toothpick, apply a thin layer of E6000 or similar glue to one side of your triangle. Leave a small strip free of glue at the base of the triangle. Place a clean toothpick at the base and roll up the triangle around the toothpick so it shapes an oval bead. Jiggle the toothpick a little to make sure that it doesn't stick to the bead.

    Leave the toothpick in the bead and stick it into something to dry overnight. I used a dried out bit of Model Magic clay, but any kind of Styrofoam, etc. will work as well.

    Once your bead is dry you can lacquer it or leave it as is and use it in a project like this:

    or this:

    Happy Recycling!