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Category Archives: Featured Handmade Artists

Featured Handmade Artist Thursday: Young Swan Designs

This week’s artist Deborah Yun is truly doing what she loves most in life, capturing unforgettable images through her camera lens. Originally from Guam, Deborah now resides in California and we are lucky to have her talent here! The photos she takes from around the world, for her company Young Swan Designs, are truly special. We are partial to the beautiful moments she captures of Southern California at its most magical times. We asked Deborah, fellow The Artisan Group ( member, a few questions to get to know what inspires her gorgeous work:

Tell us how you got started.

It all started trying to capture the beautiful ocean landscapes and cloudscapes of Guam, the island where I was born. My love for photography blossomed further during my time in Italy where I studied drawing and painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence. My artist mentor at the time, Filippo Rossi, expressed that my photographs were fearless while my drawings were timid. It was the first time I saw photography as a serious medium and transitioned from canvas and paints to cameras and pixels.

What equipment and materials do you use?

When shooting analog I love using black and white Tri-X film and being in the darkroom to create my prints. When shooting digital I use my Canon 5D Mark II.What inspires your work?

Many things from European cities with vibrant culture, rich history and beautiful architecture to the ocean, floral landscapes and patterns in nature inspire me.

What are some of your favorite photos? 

“Timeless Paris” I love this work because it captures this timelessness I felt while wandering the streets of Paris. It is also one of a kind—I used alternative photography processes in the darkroom that produce unique results where no two prints are identical.

“Cloudy Venice” The story behind the makings of this piece is one of the reasons why it is one of my favorites. I was driving around in Venice, CA and saw this dark, gloomy cloud looming over the city… but on an incredibly sunny day! It was quite the juxtaposition. I luckily happened to have my camera loaded with color film so I pulled a U-turn and headed straight for the beach!

“Fall Up”

The colors and details in this print are extraordinary, especially on the metallic paper I use. It reminds me of looking through a kaleidoscope. It was the most popular piece at a recent art show I did and looks best as a large print.

Any other cool facts about your shop and you as an artist? 

The name “Young Swan Designs” was inspired by the story of the Ugly Duckling. It is one of my favorite classic children’s books, reminding us all to follow our truth no matter how long it takes or how arduous our path. Apparently, Hans Christian Anderson considered naming the title of his book “Young Swan.” I named my studio “Young Swan Designs” because I am still in this journey of being an artist. As much as I love photography and traveling, I enjoy learning languages. I speak Japanese, Korean, Italian and am currently learning French.

For more on Deborah and Young Swan Designs make sure to visit these links:

Twitter: @youngswandesign


Featured Handmade Artist Thursday: Serantoni Designs

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As a true adventurer, this week’s artist has a unique gift for capturing fantastic and stunning places and spaces throughout the world with her camera. Mary Serantoni of Serantoni Designs is in love with telling stories by capturing mystical landscapes and city streets with her lens. We spoke with Mary and asked her a few questions about her magical journeys that lead to these wonderful photos:

How did you get started shooting?

I have been involved in Fine Art and performing arts throughout my life. My interest in Photography emerged while at the American Academy of Art, and as Photographers Assistant at a Chicago performing arts company. It was on Honeymoon in Italy with daily lessons by Dr. Dez, when my obsession became apparent.

What equipment do you use?

I use a NIKON D700, and occasionally borrow the NIKON D3. Fave Lens: NIKON 24-70mm f/2.8. Post-processing tools are my beloved Mac, Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom.

Where does your inspiration come from?

It comes from various sources:
Music – from Classical to Jazz and everything in-between.
Urban cityscapes, streetscenes, and the poetry of Nature.
Prolific Artists such as Edward Hopper, Cezanne, Matisse, Modigliani, Monet, Miro, Klimt, John Singer Sargent, Toulouse Lautrec, O’Keefe, Picasso’s line drawings and David Hockney’s set designs.

What is your favorite piece of work? 

I don’t have a favorite piece, as each image brings me back to that original Aha! moment in time. I do love to track what pieces speak to people, and cherish their little notes of gratitude.

Any other cool facts about yourself as an artist?

As a photographer, I am constantly studying Light and striving to balance the Science with the Art. I create Stories via Fine art photography for Dreamers and lovers of great escapism, Travelogue romanticists, and connoisseurs of the painterly approach by Old World Masters.

For more on Mary and Serantoni Designs visit:

Featured Handmade Artist Thursday: Emerald Snow

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Paulina is todays featured handmade artist and there is good reason for that. As an artist Paulina pours her soul into each creation she makes for Emerald Snow, her online etsy shop. Each piece of her art reflects an inner flame of creativity influenced by central Europe, where she lives, and what looks to be a wildly rich inner self! Enjoy getting to know this truly wonderful artist:

How did you get started?

My name’s Paulina, I come from central Europe, Slovaka. I started with printmaking when I was 17, but with art I started when I was five. Now I’m graduading the Academy of Fine Arts in your capital, where is a well formed tradition of printmaking. So I can tell, that I was influenced my slovak world known illustrators, because when I was child I used to read a lot of books with them illustrations.

I love the physical-ness of printmaking techniques: painting, drawing, scratching, scraping, incising, gouging, sanding, polishing, rolling and wiping ink on the plates and then cranking them through a press.
I love the graphic print quality and the ability to make multiples of a single image; printmaking helps to make collecting original art more accessible to all.

The second part of my work is focused on painting. I prefer acrylic, last time I’m experimenting with a new polygonal shapes of frames, it shifted my work to the another dimension

What materials do you use?

Most of my artworks are focused on printmaking- there I use paper and printing colors, but I love the sketch with markers and pencils as well.
Regarding to painting I prefer painting with acrylics on canvas.

What inspires you?

Random things around me. I love details.
Last time I was strongly inspired by the book of Clarissa Pinkola Estés- Women who run with the wolves.

What are your favorite pieces?

Honestly, I have a deep relationship to all of my works. because all of them was made with love and deep passion. I really enjoy my the very last cycle of paintings which I made on polygonal canvas frames.

Any other cool facts about your shop and you as an artist?

Yes. 🙂 Maybe someone could be interested about my other interests and passions. I love healthy lifestyle; I’m raw foodist, training the martial arts and love travelling!

To learn more about Paulina and Emerald Snow visit these links:

Featured Handmade Artist Thursday: SariBlue

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After taking a break from last week to celebrate the holiday we are back with this week’s Boston-based, handmade artist, Sari of SariBlue. As a fellow Artisan Group member ( I have been fascinated with her use of the symbolic Turkish symbol, the”evil eye” in such a stylish and fantastic way. Sari bases her collection around this protective symbol and infuses an earthy, bohemian, causal vibe using handmade eco-friendly glass beads she collects from her trips to Turkey! Sari’s pieces are alive with spirit, positivity and peace and as she points out “There’s nothing evil about it…”

We spoke with Sari to gain insight into her gorgeous collection:

How did you get started creating your fantastic collection?

I have always been someone who simply falls in love with design, of all kinds. Even as a child I was a bit obsessed with shoes, jewelry, buildings, clothing, basically all art forms. I had a relentless curiosity about music and film as well as a tendency to romanticize history. All of these things still hold true today and add to the core of my personality. I am a seeker! I crave gorgeous notions and ideas. In truth, if a day goes by without discovering something of fantastic design value I feel unfulfilled. So how does this relate to me starting my shop and jewelry collection SariBlue? I am also someone who is a pleaser; I want to make those that are important to me happy, my parents, my babies, my sister, my man. Being a pleaser, you tend to “do the right thing” or listen to the advice of others, or elders, to make sure you make everyone else happy…. So I never paid attention to the voice of art in my head, just the voice of reason.

Cutting to 2011 when I had been through the wringer for years, in start-up high-tech organizations, working really hard for others when the roller coaster of the economy finally caught up with me. I was also in the middle of a pretty deep rooted divorce battle, which would wear anyone to the bone.

Being faced with a much scaled back job, which would not be enough to satisfy or support me and now off with my two girls I was a bit of a disaster. My daughters, who at the time were 6 and 7, were so supportive and amazingly intuitive about what I should do. I had told them how much art meant to me and how I would love to have it be a real part of my life. The girls really pushed me to start my own shop, so here I am. My love for Turkish culture and specifically Evil Eye beads, made the decision easy about what the medium should be for my artisan jumping off point.

What materials do you use mainly?

My materials are essential to my shop, they are what make SariBlue. I take the handmade oath seriously and try to use things from small shops when I need to purchase them and work as eco-consciously as I can. SariBlue is a hip, earthy, bohemian wear-it-everyday jewelry collection centered on the power and theory of the universally recognizable symbol the Evil Eye.

I use Turkish handmade glass beads which are made using centuries old traditional methods. Turkish artisans collect recycled glass pieces, mix them with special dyes and melt in their primitive adobe furnaces that burn naturally clean-burning pine logs. They shape the red hot molten glass, fuse colors together and create these amazing beads using only simple hand tools. Every bead fashioned has its own identity, lending every SariBlue piece its own distinctive nature.

I have many friends in Turkey and have been there so often it feels like home. Either I travel to gather the beads directly from the artisans or I have my close friends stop over and get the beads made for me. This personal connection is important. The artisans are an important link to what I do in my shop. Once I have these authentic beads, I create my collection in my shop outside of Boston, MA. I use various findings including Sterling Silver ball chains, Bali Beads, Sterling Earring Hooks and Sterling wire which I use to create my own connections and links. I also added leather components, crystals and various accents beads to help add a bit of pizzazz to some of the pieces.

Most of the nazar boncuğu (Evil Eye Beads) that are well known in the U.S. are not authentically made boncuğu. The most common beads you see are either plastic, machine made, or clearly not a true representation of the Nazar Boncuk. I love the story and history of the beads and how it can bond family and culture together. For me the boncuğu are not something cheap to be purchased from a reseller who purchased them in China or as a low end grab at a counter… Nazar Boncuk are very special adornments. They hold power and protection as well as a symbol for many cultures throughout history. Not to mention these beads are gorgeous works of art. Creating pieces for people that will appreciate the art form is very satisfying and joyful. To love what you do is a gift and creating the SariBlue Collection is a great gift.

What inspires you? 

I often answer this question with: “Everything”…. If you are really looking and content it is true, you can find inspiration in everything and anything. As I mentioned, I adore design, fashion, music, film. Often I will find inspiration for my work in these art forms. Music is critical to me; I need it to be in my creative head space. Also, inspiration for me lately has come very directly from the fantastic artisans I meet. Of course by their lovely work, moreover by their success and ability to be so open with others. So I guess kindness and willingness to share your gift is what is most inspiring to me these days, it is a rare thing and I am lucky to have a great circle filled with people who have this attribute.

Cool facts about your shop and you as an artist?

Sari is pronounced “sutter” in Turkish meaning blonde/blondie/yellow and this is my nickname. My partner Big was the one who gave me this nickname. I have written before that in Turkish culture Blondes are not very common and when I first met Big he would call me Sari or any number of variations of the word in Turkish. It was really funny for him, but was somewhat lost on me until I learned more about the culture and what was so funny about being blonde. It since became the perfect name for the shop. I love the shop name because it is a bit of me, my story and Big’s and how we got here along with “Blue” being the traditional colour of the nazar boncuğu.

I am readying a few exciting things for my shop: Shortly I will have my own online store-front in addition to my Etsy store, I cannot WAIT for this to be completed!

I will also be rolling out a number of new items that include my beloved beads. The items are accessories and I think will round out the collection very nicely!

Get to know Sari and her shop SariBlue even more by visiting these links:!/bigandsari

Are you a handmade artist and want to be featured here? Email us :

Featured Handmade Artist Thursday: Bonjour Frenchie

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“My artistic intentions are not to reinvent the wheel or deliver a philosophical message. I am a big dreamer and simply wish to show the world those dreams.” – Jessica Turnbow creator of Bonjour Frenchie

Picture Paris, the city of beauty and romance painted in candy colored hues and you’ll be on the same page as our featured artist of the week, Jessica Turnbow. Venturing outside the norm, Jessica, based in Arizona, is a self-proclaimed dreamer, drawn to using bright colors in unconventional ways.  Her work takes on many forms from graphic design to traditional drawings to driftwood art, all fantastic in their unique ways.

After catching Bonjour Frenchie on the front page of (a major accomplishment) we were hooked on her shop and just had to get our frenchie fix. Jessica gives us some insight into her dream world:

Tell us how you got started? 

As an introvert, I have always found myself most comfortable cruising around my own inner world. I am a big dreamer, inspired by Neon pastels, sorbet colors, Sofia Coppola’s “Marie Antoinette”, travels to Europe and vintage fairy tales. As a little girl, my family took many road trips to California. During those road trips, I would bring my markers and paper and draw the mountains and scenery as we drove by, accompanied by little short stories I wrote to go along with them. I also loved to paint rocks in my favorite colors. The idea of taking something natural and adding pops of color was, and still is, exciting for me, as you can see with my painted sticks!

It wasn’t until 2008 that my passion really came to surface. I travelled to Paris, France and while wandering the streets of Paris, the Louvre museum and Marie Antoinette’s gardens at Versailles, my passion for the Arts really came alive. When I came back, I went back to school, studied Art History and began painting with watercolor. My sister-in-law, who is also an Artist, inspired me to begin selling my work. The rest is history, as they say 😉


What materials are you drawn to? 

I use a lot of Sennelier, MaimeriBlu and Winsor & Newton Artist grade watercolor paints. I use mainly hot press watercolor paper. For my painted sticks, I use natural pieces of driftwood, gathered from different areas of the world. I then paint them with Acrylics and seal them with varnish.


Where does your inspiration come from? 

I am inspired by feminine and natural elements. Pops of color, Neon and sorbet shades and pastels and geometric “tribal” patterns. Sofia Coppola’s “Marie Antoinette” is also a big one, European travels and of course, fairy tales!


Which are your absolute favorite pieces from Bonjour Frenchie? 

My favorite pieces from my shop:×8-art-print-fabric×10-fine-art-digital


Tell us something else about you as an artist. 

I also have a few other Etsy shops! My travel photography store which I share with my best friend, Holly Ouellette. Find us here!
I also have my own little personal photography shop, as well as a store with my amazing boyfriend, (which is still under construction!)

Recently, I have started working with Photoshop more and have been experimenting with strictly digital Art. In the future, I hope to have a lot more digital work in my shop. I am also working on a couple of other exciting new projects, stay tuned!


To learn more about Bonjour Frenchie visit:

Are you a handmade artist and want to be featured here? Email us @

Featured Handmade Artist Thursday: Corkor

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We are just mad over Portugal based design company, Corkor! From ipad cases to jewelry they make everything from the abundant supply of cork found in their country, talk about eco-friendly! We asked Corkor’s partner Natalia Guerreiro a few questions about their fantastic, good for the earth, line:

How did Corkor get started?
We love nature, recycling, sustainability and ethical style and fashion products, so, we created Corkor with an eco-friendly philosophy with environment in mind.
As Portugal has the largest cork oak landscape in world, we have decided to offer our customers natural, sustainable and eco-friendly products made of cork.

What’s the skinny on Cork?
We use cork, yes, cork from the trees. Cork is a vegetarian leather, it is harvested from cork oak tree every 9 years without harming or killing trees and then the bark regenerates, making it a renewable and sustainable resource.

What inspires you and Corkor? 
The nature, forests, happiness, the world, beauty, fashion pieces, all our pieces needs to be practical, ethical and good to use on a daily basis.

Any other cool facts about your shop and you as an artist? 
We are working with natural color of cork and brown color, we look forward to have other colors in a short period of time, we will also have new pieces, but it is a secret yet. 😉

To catch up with Corkor and see all their fantastic cork creations visit:




Featured Handmade Artist Thursday: The Joy of Color

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This week we are excited to spotlight, Tel Aviv based artist Yael Berger and her etsy shop, The Joy of Color.  Yael creates extraordinary watercolor paintings and prints, in vibrant happy colors. Her subjects range from abstract, still life, botanical, birds and nautical scenes, all capturing beautiful natural settings in a unique and awe-inspiring way. We are very happy to get to know Yael and ask some need to know questions about all these pretty creations:

How you got started?

I actually started with a clay flower I created for fun and a friend recommend I’ll sell them on Etsy, They were nice but didn’t sell well , so I decided I’ll try selling what love to do most – watercolor painting. To my surprise I got great feedback’s and nice sales.

What materials you use?

I mainly work with watercolors on paper, sometimes I paint with acrylic on paper or Canvas. I bought a professional Epson printer so I can offer my paintings as prints too.

What inspires you?

Actually I find inspiration every were, nature, the kitchen, landscape even a song can trigger an idea for a painting.

What is a favorite piece of your work?

This is a tough question, usually it’s my latest painting.

Any other cool facts about your shop and you as an artist? 
When I was a kid I dreamt of being a famous artists, I’m not a famous artists yet, but I’m so happy that selling on-line my painting are spread all over the world, from Alaska to Australia.

To learn more about Yael and the Joy of Color visit:!/thejoyofcolor!/pages/Thejoyofcolor

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