Shop Local: Spoonflower

May 16, 2011 at 2:46 pm (Shop Local)

If you read last week’s post, you know that I am designing an accessory line. My “vision” for the line is to incorporate the some of the same imagery I use in The Ephemera Jewelry Collection. Since most fabrics with images fall under the “novelty fabric” category and are woven lightweight cotton (too light for a purse), I decided to design my own fabric. I found two companies online who  print custom fabric (Fabric on Demand and Spoonflower), and luckily one of them happens to be based in Durham, North Carolina.

Spoonflower was started in 2008 in a sock mill in Mebane, North Carolina. In 2010, the company moved to Durham, North Carolina.

Spoonflower makes it possible for individuals to design, print and sell their own fabric designs. There are no minimum orders, and fabric prices range from $18 to $32 per yard ($5 per swatch).

My first fabric swatches arrived last week. I designed the fabric using a free image editing software program called I then created a free Spoonflower account, uploaded my designs, and waited for my fabric to arrive.

Custom printed fabric swatches.

The “Arithmetique” fabric design is printed on a bright white upholstery-weight twill fabric, while the “Carte Postale” design is printed on an off-white linen-cotton canvas. Either of these fabrics would work for my purposes (purse design). [I also liked Spoonflower’s Organic Cotton Sateen fabric, which would work for a lining, but prefer Fabric on Demand’s polyester satin for a lining.] While I am extremely satisfied with Spoonflower’s finished product, and will continue to use them based on quality alone, the only downside to working with them was the turnaround time. I ordered my fabric swatches on April 12th. The finished fabric came last week (almost a month later). When I called Spoonflower last week to express my concerns, they assured me they were working on expediting their turnaround times and should have this issue resolved by the end of next month. They also told me in the meantime that I could expedite shipping for a nominal fee ($10). In all fairness to Fabric on Demand, their turnaround time is ten days from approval. Having ordered swatches from them as well, I can attest to the fact that I received my custom printed fabric swatches in about 10 days. They also have the ability to print on fabrics that Spoonflower doesn’t, including lycra/spandex and micro-denier suede.

Still, Spoonflower is a local company and its community of independent fabric designers from around the world now numbers 150,000.

“Spoonflower is a start-up and a work in progress. Its growth has been made possible by the enthusiasm of a worldwide community of people who are passionate about fabric, design and making things. Along the way it has also received help, support and advice from lots of friendly people and organizations, including [TC]2,, North Carolina State University College of Textiles, and Expand Systems. Suggestions and feedback are always welcome and appreciated.”

“The marketplace for fabric created by independent designers that we launched in the fall of 2009 has now blossomed into the largest collection of indie-designed fabrics available anywhere in the world,” writes Spoonflower Co-Founder Stephen Fraser.

For more information on Spoonflower, visit their website at or call (919) 886-7885. While Spoonflower isn’t open to the public, you can set up a tour of their printing facilities by e-mailing


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Arhaus: Old World Feel with a Modern Twist

June 27, 2010 at 4:50 pm (Shop Local)

“What transforms four walls into a space for inspired living? This question was the original impetus behind the home lifestyle brand Arhaus in 1986. Fast-forward 22 years to the answer: outstanding design quality. Despite [its]  massive size, Arhaus feels homey with a large selection of inviting home furnishing staples such as long tables, soft sofas, inviting bedroom sets and cozy home libraries. Arhaus, however, excels in its delightful accessories; timeless vases, candelabras, chandeliers and our favorite, the recycled collection: hand-designed pieces created from recycled materials that give an old-world feel with a modern twist. ” [Factio Magazine]

In 2004, Lapidary Journal said, “For jewelry designer Lauren Van Hemert of Raleigh, North Carolina, part of moving forward is carrying the past with you, preserving elusive memories and reinventing antique artifacts for a modern age.” [Lapidary Journal, October 2004)

Last week, I entered into a business relationship with Arhaus Furniture, in which the company will carry The Ephemera Collection in two of its stores. And who better to sell my “antique artifacts for a modern age” than a company whose products have been described as “old world feel with a modern twist.”

With 34 stores in the U.S. and an online boutique, Arhaus  has earned quite a reputation because of its exclusive line of handmade products and the unique presentation of these goods in a setting that has been described as unlike any other in the industry.

“We really make our stores look incredibly dramatic where it is a real shopping experience to go through our stores,” says Arhaus chairman and CEO John Reed. Touches such as hand-painted murals on the walls, old-fashioned tin ceilings and mosaic inlays set the stage for Arhaus’ version of retail theater. “Our vision is to have the most exciting home furnishings store in the country,” says Reed. [Retail Magazine, July 1, 2004]

Arhaus will carry The Ephemera Collection in its Tysons Corner Center store in McLean, Virginia, as well as its flagship store at Legacy Village in Cleveland. The stores will sell an assortment of earrings, necklaces, and bracelets, including customized monogrammed bracelets.

Luggage Label Monogrammed Bracelet

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Shop Local: The North Carolina Crafts Gallery

April 28, 2010 at 4:00 am (Shop Local)

The North Carolina Crafts Gallery

You never forget your first… your first kiss, your first love, and for me (and professionally probably as profound as my first kiss) my first gallery.

Before I started actually selling my work, my friend and mentor Irene Semanchuk Dean advised me to calculate my costs, set my wholesale price first, and then use a multiplier to set my retail price. She advised me that whether I intended to wholesale my work or not, that setting my wholesale price first would prepare me to field wholesale inquiries from galleries. Although the very thought of a gallery carrying my work was the furthest thing from my mind, I took Irene’s advice anyway and followed her pricing formula to a tea.

It’s a good thing I did. At my first show in 2004 (Centerfest), Sara Latta Gress, a young and enthusiastic gallery owner from Carrboro, decided to purchase my Ephemera Collection for The North Carolina Crafts Gallery. Gress had just purchased the gallery months before and was seeking out new North Carolina talent to fill the shelves.

The North Carolina Crafts Gallery was established in 1989 by Sherri Ontjes. An artist herself, and former teacher, Ontjes wanted to bring some of the rich tradition of North Carolina craft to the area. She travelled across the state meeting artists and craftsmen, visiting their studios, and purchasing their wares. After 15 years, Ontjes was ready to retire and Gress, who had began working at the gallery part time, was ready to take the reigns.

“Owning a gallery is something I never thought I’d do, but it is exactly what I should be doing,” says Gress. “I have kept true to selling only handmade items (still made in NC).” [Notes from the Handmade Highway Blog]

Today, The North Carolina Crafts Gallery carries the work of over 500 North Carolinians, including mine and Asheville artist Irene Semanchuk Dean’s. The Gallery features contemporary and traditional pottery, blown glass, turned wood, jewelry, toys, fiber art, metalwork, garden items, folk art, weavings, stained glass, baskets, and some furniture.

In addition, the Gallery hosts two shows a month. Shows begin the first of each month, and customers are often able to meet the featured artists during the Chapel Hill/Carrboro Art Walk, which takes place the second Friday of each month.

It’s true. You never forget your first. The North Carolina Craft Gallery was the first gallery to carry my work and the first gallery to exhibit my Beyond Neverland collection. More importantly, and now twenty galleries later, Gress was the first gallery owner to take a vested interest in me and for that I am in truly grateful.

The North Carolina Crafts Gallery is located at 212 West Main Street in Carrboro, on the corner of West Main and West Weaver Streets. The Gallery is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and on Sundays from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.


Ron Philbeck, April Featured Artist, The NC Crafts Gallery

Bob Palmatier, April Featured Artist, NC Craft Gallery

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Shop Local: Party with the AAArtists and The OAK Team

February 22, 2010 at 4:12 am (Shop Local)

In 2005, I was juried into the Artspace Artists Association (AAA). I credit the day I was juried into Artspace as the turning point in my career, for it was at that moment that I went from kitchen table crafter to a professional artist.  

Many of you may have visited Artspace, a historic building in downtown Raleigh’s City Market. It is my home away from home. It is where I create (all of my jewelry components are made in Studio 109A), and it is where I have exhibited my work time and time again. But for me, what makes Artspace special is not just the building itself, but the artists within the building who make up the Artspace Artists Association (AAA).

The Artspace Artists Association (AAA) is an organization of professional artists working together to promote growth of the individual artist, to provide an environment of interaction with other artists and with the public, and to foster the mission of Artspace.

There are over 90 members of AAA, over 40 of which have studios in the building. All of the artists are juried into AAA through a rigorous two-stage jury process. The first stage is a slide jury made up of Artspace artists. The second stage is an object jury made up outside jurors (not affiliated with Artspace).

The Artspace Artists Association provides exhibition opportunities for the artists by renting the Upfront Gallery, awarding a People’s Choice Award monthly, and promoting the artists through local advertising and special events. In the past, AAA has supported itself through membership dues and participation in community events, like the Fayetteville Street Paint Out.

This year, in order to continue providing services and opportunities to its artists, AAA is planning a couple of fundraisers, the first of which is this Saturday night at The Berkley Cafe.

Unlike most art fundraisers, however, you will not have to fork out a lot of money at an auction or even get dressed up for this one.

“We don’t get out much, but when we do, we like to party,” says fellow AAA artist Melinda Fine. “It’s going to be a foot-stompin’, hip-waggin’ good time.”

Fine who has coordinated this event, along with her studio partner Alison Overton, have arranged for Terry Anderson and The OAK Team to play, while Berkley Cafe Owner Jim Shire, is generously allowing AAA to keep all of the ticket sales.

“Terry Anderson and Jack Cornell of The OAK Team have been playing in bands in the Raleigh area since the late 70’s – first The Fabulous Knobs, then the Woodpeckers, which morphed into the Woods,” says Fine. “They have a big and loyal following in this area, but only play here a couple times a year. We are fortunate that they will play one of their few local shows as a fundraiser for AAA.”

Fine adds that Anderson and company are  fun to see live. ” They will have everyone laughing and dancing all night long,” she says.

Tickets for this event are $8.00 in advance (available at Artspace) or $12.00 at the door. As the past President and current Vice President of AAA, I will be dusting off my dancing shoes to attend, and I hope to see you there too!

So this week, don’t just shop local, party local with the artists of The Artspace Artists Association.

The deadline for the next jury for membership into The Artspace Artists Association is April 1st. Click here for a prospectus or visit to apply.

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Shop Local: Epona & Oak

December 10, 2009 at 10:13 pm (Shop Local)

Like you, I have made my list and checked it twice. After braving the mall Thanksgiving weekend, I was looking for shopping alternatives to keep me out of the mall, which led me quite literally to the shop around the corner, Epona and Oak. Epona and Oak is located on Blake Street in City Market, around the corner from Artspace. 

Owned by three sisters, Leeann, Cheryl and Katie Hynes, this specialty boutique features the work of independent designers and artists, including  accessories, apparel for women, jewelry, handbags, gifts and paper goods. The concept for the store came from the Hynes sisters’ long-time desire to start a family business that combines their individual experience in retail, service and wellness. All three are strong believers that a business should be run responsibly with regards to the health of both the environment and the community.

Some of my favorite gifts (all for $20 or less) include the Red Prairie Scraves, the duct tape wallets, and the Bazil Essentials soy tea lights and candles.  

Red Prairie Scarf

 And when you  done shopping, nestled in the back of the store, is a tranquil wellness studio that provides a wide array of massage therapies, acupuncture and energy work. The wellness studio also features handcrafted and organic bath, body, and facial care products. Facial and massage packages start at $90.

So, if the thought of mall crowds is stressing you out, or you are just looking for some specialty items for those hard to get people on your list, head over to Epona and Oak. Tell them Lauren sent you, and while you’re there be sure to sample the organic chocolate and smell the new soy candle scent for the holidays, Spiced Cocoa Mint.  

Note: Artspace artists receive a 10% discount at Epona & Oak.

Duct Tape Wallets


Captive Collective T-shirts

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Shop Local: Ornamentea

September 24, 2009 at 1:39 am (Shop Local)

When I first started making jewelry, I knew nothing about beading. On a trip down to Florida many years ago, I stopped at a bead store in Ormond Beach and got the bug. The woman there showed me how to crimp and string a basic necklace, but that was it. When I came back to Raleigh, I made it my mission to find a bead store. I had drawings of necklaces I wanted to make but had no idea how to execute them. Then, I found Ornamentea.

Ornamentea is located in the Glenwood South area of Raleigh. It is an unassuming green and turqoise building, but inside it is a treasure trove of crystals, stones, vintage glass beads, and findings. The staff is knowledgeable and the prices are reasonable (especially compared to some of the other bead stores in the area), and they do offer a designer’s discount, which makes it a perfect place for hobbyists and professional beaders alike.

In the five years I have been making jewelry, the staff and the owner, Cynthia Deis, have become my friends. Cynthia was so supportive when I started the Capital Area Polymer Clay Guild here in Raleigh, gave me valuable advice when I did my first wholesale show in Baltimore, and helped me become a better artist by introducing me to other professionals who have challenged me to think and work “outside the box’.

This month Ornamentea turns ten years old. Happy Birthday, Ornamentea! Keep up the good work.

If you go, Ornamentea is open seven days a week and  is the West Street (R4) stop on the R Line.  Even if you are not in town and still want fabulous base metal findings, filigree, and more, visit Ornamentea’s online store at Want to try something new? Visit Cynthia’s blog for free beading project downloads at

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Shop Local: Galatea Boutique

August 30, 2009 at 3:14 am (Shop Local)

scarvesLast September I had a solo exhibition at Artspace’s Upfront Gallery. I was unveiling a new line of work and wanted to wear something special for the First Friday opening. A friend of mine suggested I try Galatea in Raleigh’s Seaboard Station. Since then, whenever I am looking for something special, Galatea is my go-to place to shop.

“When you first enter Galatea, you might feel like Goldilocks in the Three Bears’ House with so many colors, textures, and styles… We think you’ll find that we’re not too young and not too old, not too big and not too small, not too funky and not too conservative.”  []

bootGalatea carries Johnny Was Collection, JWLA Embroidered Knits, Cutloose, CMC, Uncle Frank Dresses, ISDA , XCVI, and Pete and Greta,  just to name a few. For my fabulous First Friday look, I wore a XCVI Wearables double shirred panel skirt.

“We have lots and lots of jewelry and accessories for extremely reasonable prices and Naot Shoes that are so comfortable and cute too,” says Galatea Owner Cheryl Fraser. And for fall, Fraser has you covered. “Scarves are huge this fall, bold jewelry and shades of purple!” For me, what sets Galatea apart is its attention to detail. ISDA Wearables

“Our separates and dresses in delicious fabrics, textures and hues (many featuring unique detailing and embellishment) combine style, versatility and comfort to create a wardrobe with endless options for casual, professional and special occasion wear.”

Next month, Galatea celebrates its thirteenth anniversary and to celebrate they have special events planned all month long, including a Hobo Handbag Trunk Show, Naot Shoe Trunk Shoe, and Down By The Tracks VIII, a big fundraiser Seabard Station merchants put on to benefit the SPCA of Wake County. For dates and times or directions to the store, visit

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