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red agateJust perfect for your Halloween creations -- these Red Agate Evil Eye beads are of stone that was formed from layers of silica from volcanic cavities. Agate is named after the Achates River (now known as the Dirillo River) on the island of Sicily, Italy, whose upper waters were an ancient source of this gemstone. Each strand offered here has 16 round faceted beads, with colors ranging from red to amber, as shown. Each bead is approx. 10 mm. with an approx. 2 mm. hole. Each strand is $10, but for a limited time, take 10% off with the code HALLOWEEN at checkout.


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opal engagement ringRecently I heard a brief news report about how women (especially older women on the occasion of a second or third marriage) are choosing non-traditional engagement rings, opting for sapphires or other gemstones rather than the traditional diamond solitaires. The theory about this shift is that older women want to set this new experience and relationship apart from what has gone before, and that they are self assured and confident enough in their own style and identity that they feel comfortable opting out of the 'standard mold'. (Nontraditional engagement ring shown at right is featured on Etsy's 'OritNaar' shop).

The report indicated that in many cases, such women are choosing handcrafted rings over mass produced rings. This led me to muse about handmade vs. manufactured in general, and why it is a shift in behavior that we should all support. There is, of course, the importance of gaining the support of your fellow handmade artists. But beyond our own internal community, we must find more ways to convince consumers in general that buying handmade should be at the top of their 'shopping priorities' -- because it is smart, responsible, easier than ever, and PROGRESSIVE!

Amanda Akers, a guest blogger for Handmadeology: The Science of Handmade, has provided a list of reasons handmade is better (see the entire post here:

1. You support local artisans, and therefore their local economy and community. Supporting local business is critical for the health of your own community, as well as the nation.

2. You get high-quality items that are built to last, not all the stuff that has the "How cheap can I produce this?" mentality. Handmade items have longevity. Artisans have pride in their work, and want it to last. Even the materials are hand-picked by an individual, and what big manufacturing company can say that?

3. Your gifts are the best on the block. Cool, trendy, unique, and usually one-of-a kind, you can find some really awesome handmade stuff that'll make everyone ask "Where can I get one?"

4. Customization! Since each and every item is made by hand, and you are usually talking directly to the person making it, you can tweak the color or size of something you are interested in, or even get a fully commissioned custom order done. This avoids you having the excuse of "it was all the store had left." Want a cool case for your new gadget, but maybe you have some weird size the store doesn't offer? Get it custom made to your exact dimensions! Doggie sweaters from the store never quite fit your beloved pooch? Customization to the rescue! The possibilities are endless.

5. You're helping the environment. It's always a nice feeling to 'go green' isn't it? Handmade items aren't made in a waste-producing factory and shipped halfway around the world using fuel and energy. Buying handmade (especially locally) can greatly reduce your carbon footprint on the world.

6. You gain a unique connection with an artisan. You can be in direct contact with the person who made the item with their own hands. For some reason this is just really cool. I mean, think about how awesome it'd be to meet your favorite clothing designer, artist, author, or chef. It's kind of like that feeling, but on a much smaller and more intimate scale.

7.  Let's not forget the warm fuzzy feeling of knowing you helped support someone very directly. For example, when you purchase something from an artisan's shop, you've helped put food on the table or paid for gas needed to get to the day job that week. And you're not having to pay extra for the store's cashier and manager and suppier and designer, because just one person is all those things!

8. You avoid crowded stores. How annoying is it to maneuver yourself (and your cart, and possibly kids) through packed store aisles only to fight with someone for the last thing on the shelf, then wait in a line for hours with a cart full of stuff and realize you still need to get something for your mother-in-law or coworker or neighbor? Talk about stressful. Buy handmade items at local craft fairs, markets, and boutiques, or shop online to avoid people altogether.

photo for december 14 blogI think this is the best reason -- something I see on the Facebook pages of artisans from time to time: (see image here) ---->

And finally, that reminds me of another cool thing I saw on Facebook recently -- actually, posted by my shop co-owner & daughter Shannon -- and I couldn't agree more! (One of the many reasons I love her!!)

photo 3 for december blog<------- (See image here)

 In case you can't read the small print, here's what it says:

 Holiday To Do List

 Instead of 'buy presents', it now says 'Be Present'

 Instead of 'wrap gifts', it now says 'Wrap Someone in a Hug'

 Instead of 'send gifts', it now says 'Send Peace'

 Instead of 'shop for food', it now says 'Donate Food'

 Instead of 'make cookies', it now says 'Make Love'

 Instead of 'see the lights', it now says 'Be the Light'

 Here's hoping you are having most joyous holidays --

 Until Next Time,
















0 # Beth Mann 2015-01-11 22:12
Great post! Connecting with people is the key - the clients we connect with, the fellow artisans, our teachers, and the next step, to give back - to become the teacher, to give people our time and share our craft.
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0 # sortmclaughlin 2015-01-12 00:59
Thank you so much for commenting! It's especially great when people comment here at the blog site. I really appreciate it, Beth! And you are soooo right!
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0 # Qyn 2015-01-12 14:31
Oh, this is so terrific to read this morning! I am building my own hand-made jewelry business, and feel so happy and supported when I find others committed to heart, intention Spirit, and quality. Thank you for this. May I reproduce your list and pass it along? I would, of course, give you proper credit!
All the best!
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0 # Sromclaughlin 2015-01-12 17:18
Thank you -- certainly, you may share! Please sign up for the free newsletter, too, if you aren't already signed up (and if interested) and invite others too! Thanks again!
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