I have made a pledge to support small, mom and pop, businesses whenever I can this Holiday Season. I truly find more value in something handmade or handpicked by someone I trust and respect. I hold strong values and beliefs on consumerism and know that the greatest power I have to enact change is through how I spend my money. I have come to realize that there is a small business option for everything I need.
With this in mind, I am excited to feature Casey’s wonderful small business today – Sesame Seed Designs.
Donni : Welcome, Casey. Please tell us a little about what you do.
Casey : I turn wool and cashmere sweaters into new and beautiful creations! From super soft cashmere, baby hats to pot holders embellished with the under-represented eggplant, I try to offer something for everyone. I live in the crafty, nature-loving city of Portland, OR and when I’m not sewing or hanging out with my two daughters, I work as an environmental educator. My love for nature inspires everything I do and many of my items are embellished with embroidery and appliques inspired by the plants and animals I love.
Donni : Tell us what inspired you to start your business?
Casey : When my first daughter was about 6 months old, I had quit my unfulfilling job and was adjusting to life with a baby when I was invited to participate in a Christmas DIY fair. The idea was to have creative people share ideas and examples of gifts attendees could make, encouraging them to give meaningful and relational presents at Christmas instead of buying things from the nearest big-box store. I decided to share how an old sweater could be shrunk down into a soft, dense fabric and then used to create new things. I typed up an info sheet and quickly sewed things, including a little hat for my baby, very similar to the ones I sell now. I gathered a ton of interest and many people, both at the fair and later out and about in town, inquired about buying my example hat right off my babe’s head. With that, I realized I was on to something. I opened my Etsy shop soon after and have kept it up, even after returning to work part time at a job I truly love.
Donni : What is your inspiration for new designs and ideas?
Casey : My most recent additions to my business were inspired by my desire to reduce waste and use all parts of the wool and cashmere sweaters. I try not to throw anything away! My rabbits are stuffed with small wool scraps and I plan on offering some more plush items in the future to use up even more little bits and pieces.
I started making potholders because sometimes I wash a wool sweater for too long and it becomes too thick and stiff to use for a hat, or a sweater that feels soft before washing turns out a little not-so-soft afterwards. My two daughters are my softness testers and if they say a fabric is too scratchy, it gets turned into an awesome potholder. They’re the only ones I’ve used in my kitchen for over a year now and they work even better than I first imagined them to.
My flower pins use the ribbed cuffs of the sweaters that I used to not have a use for. I love using every part!
Donni : What did the Child-Casey wish to become when you grew up?
Casey : From the time I was really young, I said I wanted to be a “baby doctor.” Apparently I loved babies and, to my young self, that seemed to be the way to get to be around them all the time. By the time I was in high school I realized that being a doctor wasn’t my calling but I still really loved science and never considered any other major in college. I discovered the field of ecology and fell in love with science all over again. I have a Master’s degree in ecology and work as an environmental educator when I’m not sewing or knitting for my business and family. Nature inspires everything I do, from the deer, birds and flowers you can find on my products, to my desire to surround my family (and yours!) in natural fibers and our connection with the rhythms and cycles of the seasons.
Donni : What value does ‘handmade’ have in our society?
Casey : Handmade is essential to our society. With the global marketplace we live in and the ease with which we can obtain information and products, having a personal connection to things has become even more important and special, at least to my family and, I believe, to my customers. It’s the handmade goods that becomes a treasured part of the home. The handmade items have a story to tell. My kids ask for their “Aunt Judy blanket” or “Grandma Diane blanket” at bedtime because those blankets make them feel special and loved. Even if a handmade item comes from a stranger, the fact that it was stitched, built, beaded, woven, with someone’s own two hands and comes with a quickly handwritten ‘thank you!” imparts a value to the item that something mass-produced can’t have. We need to move past the convenience and bargain bin prices of goods that are disposable and not meant to last. I recently saw one of my cashmere hats displayed in a consignment store. It made me so happy and brought back memories of the person I had originally gifted it to. Whether it’s held onto as an heirloom or offered up to another stranger, my handmade goods are being used and loved, and have a value that lasts beyond the initial consumer and I can’t wish for anything better.
Donni : Thank you Casey… your goodies are adorable and I wish you much success.
Please visit Casey in these places too :
Blessings and magic,
Making potato printed gift wrap can be such fun for the kids. They get so excited to see their artwork under the tree.
It’s super easy too…
You’ll need :
- sharp pearing knife
- white or craft construction paper
Cut your potato in half and carefully carve the shape of your stamp into the potato. We decided we wanted to make red toadstools.
Teddy dipped his potato stamp into some red paint and stamped the white construction paper to his hearts content.
When it was dry, we wrapped our first gift of the season, tied a pretty red ribbon around it and finished it off with a pretty feather butterfly… isn’t is a pretty gift!
Happy Holiday crafting,
Blessings and magic,
Be mindful of where you shop this Holiday season. You have great power in where you spend your money… let your choices convey your beliefs.
Welcome to our December Magic Sponsors!
We have some new magic on board :
Sesame Seed Designs : I turn wool and cashmere sweaters into new and beautiful creations! From super soft cashmere, baby hats to pot holders embellished with the under-represented eggplant, I try to offer something for everyone. I live in the crafty, nature-loving city of Portland, OR and when I’m not sewing or hanging out with my two daughters, I work as an environmental educator. My love for nature inspires everything I do and many of my items are embellished with embroidery and appliques inspired by the plants and animals I love.
Christopherus Bookstore : We offer a variety of publications and audio downloads of interest not only to homeschoolers but to teachers and other parents too. We take a fresh and practical approach to Waldorf education (grounded in the work of Rudolf Steiner). Browse our publications for sale below or use the left menu to find publications in a specific area of interest or age group.
And, welcome back to :
Becky Kelly and her BEAUTIFUL art. Becky creates a world seemingly suspended in time: a world where children dangle their toes in clear running streams; best friends giggle and daydream in the comfortable crook of an ancient tree; and ethereal fairies doze on dew-dappled leaves. But Becky is quick to point out that what she paints is not fantasy. The scenes she paints are based on the real world, with just a sprinkling of stardust to add a bit of magic.
NEST is such beautiful toy shop filled with stunning natural and Waldorf inspired toys. Modeled after the toy shoppes of Germany, at Nest one can find eco-friendly sustainably sourced heirloom wooden toys & beautiful and practical things for the home. They believe that living sustainably need not be a sacrifice. Fine woolens from Ruskovilla of Finland, beautifully handcrafted figures from Ostheimer of Germany, shaker boxes from Brent Rourke of Nova Scotia. Waldorf-inspired play and Waldorf toys & crafts for young and old.
The Waldorf Connection : Waldorf Homeschooling, Tips and Support. The Waldorf Connection workshops were created to help families understand Waldorf concepts and improve their confidence & clarity, while providing a supportive community! The Waldorf Connection supports the online community with in–depth workshops, programs, online book studies, from Early Childhood education to homeschooling programs.
The Magic Onions - toys and treasures for the natural home. I make everything by hand using natural and eco-friendly materials.
The holiday season is my favorite time – there are just so many magical decorations and ornaments to be made and each year my kids help me to come up with new designs for the shop. Everything is inspired by what we see in nature… squirrels, pumpkins, owls, toadstools… delightful woodland goodies that are sure to enchant. I make gorgeous felted garlands in all shapes and sizes, colorful needle felted acorns and flowers and wonderful felted jewelry.
Mariposa Forest – Children love to receive mail – Mariposa Forest understands that. They send stories from the forest to your child, addressed to them. Their own special mail. Each letter from the forest will let your child’s imagination run free. Hear a free Audio reading of one of their stories and see for yourself what Mariposa Forest is all about. (find link in their BLOG!)
And, be sure to ‘like’ their magical Facebook Page too.
Stubby Pencil Studio : Offering eco-friendly art materials and school supplies like crayons made from soy – not petroleum; stationery, greeting cards, sketchbooks and journals made from 100% post consumer recycled paper – not virgin trees; pencils made from sustainably harvested wood and recycled newspapers – not dying forests.
Thank you to all my wonderful sponsors. I know I am not alone in being dedicated to finding the local alternatives to shopping at big department stores. We, as consumers, have more power and control than we think! Let’s use it wisely.
Blessings and magic,
Filed Under: Sponsor
There is a special kind of magic that radiates from a handmade felt Christmas Ornament… it is like the effort and love that went into making it is shining forth from it’s own heart.
Making ornaments has become a Christmas tradition in our home and I treasure the time I spend with my children as we create together. When I was 21, I spent a Christmas in an Austrian home. They had such a beautiful Christmas tree, decorated from top to bottom with handmade ornaments. There was an ornament I remember on that tree that was even more beautiful than all the rest. It was a pine cone gnome… quite the sweetest thing I had ever seen. My children and I have made one just as I remember it and each time I look at him, memories of that wintery white Christmas in Austria come flooding back.
Pine Cone Gnome Christmas Ornament
Materials and Tools required to make our Pine Cone Gnome Ornament
- A small pine cone for his body (foraged from nature)
- One white, 1- inch, felt ball for his head (found at craft stores or on Etsy.com. A 1- inch wooden ball will work just as well)
- One red, half-an-inch, felt ball for his pom pom on his hat
- Two white, half-an-inch, felt balls for his hands
- A piece of green wool felt for his hat and scarf (found at craft stores or on Etsy.com or you can use a felted sweater)
- Green thread and a needle
- A tiny button for his scarf (found at craft stores)
- Glue (a hot glue gun works the best but any glue will work with a little added patience)
We will make the sweet little hat first. Cut the green wool felt into a triangle. Each side of the triangle should be about 3 inches long.
With your needle and thread, sew two sides of the triangle together. When the two sides are sewn together, flip the little hat inside-out to hide the thread.
To finish off his hat, take the red felt ball that will become his pom pom. Before we stick it onto the green felt hat, we want to make a thread loop from it so that our little gnome can hang on the tree. With your needle and thread, pass the thread up through the center of the red ball and again down through the center, knotting it where the two loose ends of thread meet and leaving a hanging loop at the top. Add a bit of glue to the bottom end of the red pom pom and stick it onto his green hat.
Add a bit of glue to the inside of his green felt hat and stick it onto the larger 1-inch white felt ball that is his head.
Use your glue to stick the head onto the base of the pine cone. Your gnome has a body!
He needs a scarf. Cut a narrow length in the shape of a scarf from the scraps of the green wool felt left over from his hat, about 5 inches long, and drape it cozily around his neck. Dab a little glue in the spot where the two ends of the scarf cross over at the front of your gnome (or you can sew it together)
My son Teddy held it tightly in place while the glue dried.
We glued the tiny button right in the middle of the scarf. Then, we glued the two small white felt balls on the sides of the pine cone for his hands and there he is… the cutest little Austrian pine cone gnome for your Christmas tree. He is sure to delight!
If you know you might have trouble finding the materials you need to make this little pine cone gnome, you can purchase the kit (complete with everything you’ll need) from my shop here –> Christmas Ornament Kits
Blessings and magic,