Artist of the Month: Emily Landsman, EHL Creations

The following post is by Emily Landsman, Owner of EHL Creations, the Herban Lifestyle June 2014 Artist of the Month.

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I have been a photographer for more than twenty years and enjoy finding new ways to look at ordinary objects. I love taking kooky pictures with my many different Polaroid cameras and using the images to make greeting cards, belt buckles, tiles, magnets and more. Polaroid transfer prints are made by under developing Polaroid pull-apart films and transferring the images to non-photographic surfaces. The resulting images have an antique or ethereal quality. Polaroid image lifts are made by developing Polaroid pull-apart films as normal, soaking the image to remove it from the paper backing, and transferring the emulsion to non-photographic surfaces. Each print is different and has its own characteristics.

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You may have heard that Polaroid is no longer producing instant film. I collected dozens of packs of several different types of film for my artistic usage before they became unavailable. Once all existing film is used, this transfer process will no longer be possible, making these images all the more unique.

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You can find more about Emily’s pieces on her Etsy Store and Website 

7 Uses For Empty Cotton Soap Bags

IMG_8727Several of our customers have asked if there are uses for the eco-friendly cotton bags we use to package our cold process soaps, once the soaps are removed from the bags. This post contains a few of our reuse ideas. Please feel free to add yours to the comments!

1) Use it as a soap saver bag for the end pieces of your Herban Lifestyle soap! Otherwise, we don’t recommend wetting the empty bags since they will shrink and wrinkle.

2) Make a sachet! Fill the empty bag with your favorite fragrant dried herbs, such as lavender. You can place it in your drawer to add a lovely subtle scent to your clothing.


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3) Make a fun toy for your cat! Fill the bag with catnip, tie tightly, and clip off the extra string so that your cat won’t eat it. Enjoy the show!

4) Use it as storage for small, easily lost objects, like jewelry and buttons.

5) Decorate the outside and use it as nice-smelling packaging for small gifts or favors.

IMG_92316) Fill them with herbs and/or spices to make an herbal bath tea

7) Use them to store playing or trading cards

There are many more uses for these great little bags. Please let us know your thoughts. We welcome any suggestions!

 

Artist Artist of the Month: Lisa Seyfried, Color Me Reckless

 

il_570xN.546509456_7fxrThe following post is by Lisa Seyfried, Owner of Color Me Reckless, the Herban Lifestyle May 2013 Artist of the Month.

Color Me Reckless started 3 years ago.  I had just finished grad school, was unemployed, and scared.  My stress reliever has always been to crochet, so that summer, I wound up with baskets full of crochet hats, scarves, and blankets.  It seemed like a good time to start selling it all!

It took me a while to find what I really liked to make for people. When I boiled it down to what I liked to make, and what people liked, it was housewares and blankets.  So the new version of Color Me Reckless was born! Now I sell carefully crafted crochet housewares, and create beautiful custom blankets for baby showers, weddings, and birthdays.

 

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What I love the most is seeing the reaction when people unwrap a blanket that has been made just for them. I try to factor in anything I know about the person (their favorite colors, snippets of their history) so the blanket becomes a story about them.

 

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I think that’s the same for the housewares. Yes, it’s simpler, colorful small items, but those items tell a story too.  A Soap Saver Bag can tell the story of what mood I was in when I made it (you can tell by what colors I selected!), and then it continues to tell that story when those colors resonate with someone else.

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You can find more about Lisa’s crochet creations on her website and Etsy store.

How to Make Violet Facial Toner

violet9It’s spring here in the Mid-Altantic, and with it comes violets! In the past, I have posted recipes using these delicate purple flowers, including violet syrup and violet cordial. Besides being pretty, tasty and nutritious, violets also make a wonderful ingredient in natural skin care.

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They are moisturizing, toning, antiseptic, and healing. And violets contain significant amounts of mucilage that help soothe the skin, reduce inflammation, redness, and sooth irritated tissue. Violet flowers and leaves are excellent for dry, sensitive skin. Following is a recipe for violet facial toner, which you can make with either Apple Cider Vinegar or Witch Hazel.

Apple Cider Vinegar makes a great facial wash and toner, since it is great at removing excess oils and helps balance the pH levels. It has antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties and also contains alpha hydroxy acids, which help remove dead skin cells, resulting in a healthier-looking complexion.

Witch Hazel has astringent, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties and makes a great facial toner, even by itself, for all skin types. Be sure to use a true Witch Hazel extract, which contains mostly Witch Hazel and less than 20% alcohol.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (1 quart) distilled water
  • 1 cup violet flowers and leaves
  • 1 cup organic apple cider vinegar or organic witch hazel
  • Lavender essential oil (optional)

violet2Boil the water. Then make an infusion by pouring the water over the violet flowers and leaves in a glass or ceramic container. Cover and let stand for 1 hour (the closed jar keeps the water-soluble vitamins from escaping in the steam).  Strain out the flowers and you will have a beautiful purplish-blue liquid.

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Combine the violet infusion with the vinegar or witch hazel. Pour into sterilized bottles and store in a cool, dry place. The vinegar and witch hazel act as natural preservatives, so this mixture will last quite a while.

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Use this cleansing, pH-balancing, restoring toner after washing your face.  Apply with clean sterile cotton balls or pour a small amount in your hand and splash on, avoiding your eyes.

Both versions have mild, pleasant scents, but if you’d like something a little more flowery, you can add a few drops of lavender essential oil.

Artist of the Month: Michelle Sasscer, Babus Toys

IMG_8997The following post is by Michelle Sasscer, owner of Babus Toys, Herban Lifestyle’s April 2014 Artist of the Month.

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Women have traditionally learned their crafts from their mothers and other family elders, and Michelle Sasscer is no exception – her mother taught her how to knit, albeit over the phone, 3,000 miles away, while Michelle was laid up with a broken leg in a 3rd floor flat in San Francisco.  It was very slow going at first, and she timidly moved from basic stitch swatches to washcloths to eventually scarves.  After a multi-year hiatus, she returned to the craft in earnest in 2011, relishing the opportunity to nestle into an easy chair with gorgeous yarns and new patterns.

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But it wasn’t until 2006 that she learned about felting, and when she finally started to experiment with the technique, she was immediately, completely hooked.  Something about the smooth, fuzzy, warm wool texture and apparent magic of all of those stitches melding into one thick solid material, was irresistible.  And not coincidentally, this all came about while she was making toys and decorations for her newborn son, Nicholas (who was nicknamed “The Babus”, in utero, just like his daddy had been).  The moment she saw Nicky’s reaction to his first set of felted wool teething rings, Babus Toys was born, at least in her mind.  Many years later, Michelle has created toys and treasures for babies as well as children of all ages.  Using choice, sustainably produced yarns from Michigan and Peru, as well as an organic line from Australia/US, Michelle makes every piece by her own design and with her own hands, from that original Gnot teething ring to nesting finger puppet sets, to mermaid dolls, even ornaments (once she even made a bride and groom squid couple as a wedding cake topper). Oh, and her mom Ruth is still helping her out, doing yeoman’s work as a supplemental knitter.  Michelle works out of her home in downtown Silver Spring, MD.

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Babus Toys can also be found in Michelle’s Etsy store, on Facebook, and at Eastern Market in Washington DC.logo

How to Make An Herbal Vinegar Hair Rinse

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One of my most popular offerings is my natural shampoo bars. My customers love them because they are gentle, effective and don’t strip the oils from their hair, so no conditioner is required. But, depending on the hardness of their water, some of my customers find it helpful to do a vinegar rinse once per month to keep their hair its shiniest.

No matter what type of shampoo you use, vinegar rinses are helpful in restoring your hair’s pH balance. They are also great for oily hair, itchy scalp, dandruff, dull hair, and other scalp conditions. You can easily make your own vinegar rinse, and the addition of dried herbs allows you to customize it to the needs of your particular hair.

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To make your own herbal vinegar rinse, mix 4 tablespoons of dried organic herbs with 8 ounces of organic apple cider vinegar.

For light hair, you can use a blend of 2 tablespoons organic rose petals and 2 tablespoons dried organic chamomile.

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For dark hair, you can use a mixture of 2 tablespoons dried organic nettle and 2 tablespoons dried organic lavender.

IMG_8807Place your herbs and vinegar in a clean glass jar, cap tightly. Label the jar with your herbs and the date. Allow to infuse for 6 weeks in a cool dark place, shaking the jar daily.

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After 6 weeks, strain out the herbs and pour your herbal vinegar into a sterilized glass jar with a plastic cap (vinegar can erode metal over time). The infused vinegar will keep for at least a year if stored properly in a cool and dry place.

vinegar8 vinegar9To use, mix 1-4 tablespoons of your herbal vinegar with 1 cup of water. Pour this mixture over clean hair, working into scalp. Allow to sit for 2 minutes, then rinse with clean water. Or, you can leave it in and allow hair to dry. Enjoy your happy, shiny hair!

This can also be used as a facial toner. Simply apply to clean skin with a cotton ball or cotton cosmetic pad. Because this formula is alcohol-free and non-drying, you don’t need to rinse it off.

 

How to Make Gift Tags from Repurposed Cardboard

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I like to offer tea to anyone who visits my studio, so I keep a box filled with a variety of herbal and black teas. Last week,  I refilled my tea box with the two most popular flavors, which happen to be made by Tazo.

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As I broke down the boxes to put in the recycling bin, I noticed the beautiful pattern on the inside of them, and realized they would make wonderful gift tags. You can do the same with any other lightweight cardboard. Whenever I come across packaging that has an interesting pattern or a colorful solid side, I make it into tags.

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A while ago, I purchased a hole puncher designed specifically for making gift tags. While this is a super-convenient way to make them, you can also just cut out your tags freehand.

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I like the classic tag shape of this particular punch. You can find a similar one by Uchida on Amazon.

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I then used a small-sized round hole punch to create a hole for a string or ribbon.

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Finally, I threaded a 14″ piece of twine through the hole. And, voila, a lovely repurposed cardboard gift tag. I was able to make 10 tags from a single box. You can have fun experimenting with different packaging. Happy crafting!

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