inside the artist's studio: peru paper


It's been a while since I posted here. And I'm really excited to share with you the story of Peru Paper Company. Peru Paper Company is a partnership between my friend Grace Bateman and local women in Trujillo, Peru.

Meet Grace:

Grace grew up in Jackson, Mississippi. She first visited Peru in 1999 and fell in love the country ever since then. The poverty and injustice she witnessed there led to a partnership with the local women of Trujillo, Peru that is now Peru Paper Company. It started with $100 initial investment on supplies, and she did not foresee it to grow to its current success.

"The business now employs fifteen women and has been transforming lives as these women discover new talents in card design and business management, as well as being uplifted by the dignity that comes with work and provision for your own family."
Meet Azucena:

Azucena has worked with Peru Paper Co. from its beginnings in 2005. She lives in the Victor Larco neighborhood in Trujillo with her three young children. Prior to working with Peru Paper Co., she sold candy and snacks in the street to provide for her children. Such work was very dangerous to her and her children, who had to accompany her, playing on the side of the road while she worked. Now with Peru Paper Co., her work allows her to be home with her children, protects them from harm, and provides stable income for their needs.

Because of the amount of time she has worked with the business, Azucena has developed into a great manager. She designs and produces cards, helps with quality control, trains new employees, and helps with management decisions. It has been wonderful to observe her become a confident leader, which has earned the respect of her co-workers and the community.

Meet Monica:

Monica began working with Peru Paper Co. in February of 2008 and quickly became one of the primary designers of new cards. She is highly creative and very gifted in crafting new cards as well as making recycled paper. She was quickly promoted to manager, then started training other women and helping with administrative decisions.

Monica lives in the Manuel Arévalo community with her husband and three sons, and uses her income from Peru Paper Co. to cover their educational expenses. Even her son has commented that he believes this to be her calling in life, for he never knew that she was so gifted and had so much creativity until she began working on this project. Monica loves this work because it has not only provided a steady job in an area of high unemployment, but it has also allowed her to be at home with her family.

Visit Peru Paper Co. to see the process of Making the Cards.

Peru Paper's Company Overview and Mission:

"We produce and sell high-quality, handmade stationary and paper products from recycled materials, employing underprivileged and marginalized women in Peru who would otherwise not have the opportunity to make a livable wage to support their families. We strive for our business to be economically and environmentally sustainable, while maintaining our social goals of improving the lives of the Peruvian women we employ."

Peru Paper Company's Mission is to improve the lives of Peruvian women through operating a sustainable business model.

Peru Paper Company produces high-quality recycled and handmade stationary and greeting cards.

In the News:

Grace's interview with Fox40 in Jackson, MS - See it Here.
Local Business Gets Items in Oscar Bags

To purchase some great green and handmade cards from Trujillo, Peru visit
To get updates, promotions, sales etc ... become a fan on facebook and follow perupaper on twitter


inside the artist's studio: helen rawlinson


This week, I would like to introduce you to my British friend, Helen Rawlinson and her lovely hand printed designs. I'm in love with everything she's creating. Helen shares my love for great textile products ranging from personal accessories to awesome home dec items, especially her incredible lamps!
So enough of my gushing, and welcome to Helen Rawlinson's studio!


Who is Helen Rawlinson?

My Twitter profile says, ‘lamp lady, printer, mum’, not necessarily in that order but it just about sums me up. I’ve made lampshades for years, selling to independent retailers and departments stores throughout the UK and abroad. I hand print the shades with my own designs onto a translucent parchment style paper. I then add machine stitching to enhance lines and shapes, which, once lit, gives a lovely dotted detail. The shades are teamed with simple turned wooden bases. All the manufacturing side is done in the UK.
inside the artist's studio: helen rawlinson
Aside from this, I’ve recently been having a great time with printing on to fabric and now make a small range of bags and purses plus a fun home décor / accessory range for kids.

When did you start hand printing?

Textile design and making has been my full time occupation since leaving the Royal College of Art, London, UK, with an MA in embroidery in 1993. My previous training was print design.
In 2006 I was lucky enough to find a fabulous studio at a converted Chocolate Factory, very near to where I live in Hackney, East London. A beautiful property owned by painter, Keith Ashley. He transformed it into 25 studios for artists and designers. I love it and have been there ever since.
inside the artist's studio: helen rawlinson
My son Stanley was born in 2005 after almost giving up hope of ever having children. Since then I‘ve taken the best part of 4 years off to enjoy being a full time mum. During this time, I’ve managed to keep the studio going and I’m just starting to find my feet again in the world of work, ready for when Stanley starts school next year.
inside the artist's studio: helen rawlinson
What inspires you?

I never felt very confident with a paintbrush but instead, I fell in love with scissors and paper.
I’ve always worked with collage, piecing things together, cutting and pasting, so I’m inspired by anything to do with that style of work, both modern and classic. There is a strong trend for paper cutting at the moment and I love it all. Vintage style is constantly inspiring. From picking up finds in car boot sales and junk shops, my ideas are often drawn from old ceramics and retro toys, printed ephemera and children’s book illustration from a bygone era. Being able to spend plenty of time in the library with Stanley, I’m always happy to come home with loads of books for him and me.
I used to do a lot of pencil drawing on my travels and carried a sketchbook with me all the time. I then turned these into screen prints for my collage work, making visual diaries of my time away. I’d love to go back to this more illustrative style when I have time, but at the moment I’m snapping with my camera. There are so many patterns in everything around us, so design ideas pop into my head all the time. I make little scribbles and take pictures to remind me later on.
inside the artist's studio: helen rawlinson
I’m excited to be back at the print table again and have turned my attention to fabrics, initially using the extensive range of designs from my lighting collection with a few new designs along the way. I’m trying lots of things out, printing and making a variety of home décor and fashion accessories. I’ve been having fun with kids’ stuff too. All the clutter and play that comes with children is happily creeping into my work, hence the ABC and Shapes and Things range!
I’m still producing the lampshades, although it’s not easy doing batch production on a part time basis so I’m reducing my lines somewhat and making more time for new ideas. Nevertheless, I love to play with the effects of light on paper, together with print and stitch, so I’m sure it will continue to engage me for some time to come.

How does one acquire your designs?

The online boom has allowed designers and makers to show their work to a much larger audience from when I first left college and thanks to Etsy I really love the fact that people are starting to buy my work from all across the globe!
inside the artist's studio: helen rawlinson
My whole collection of lamps and shades at
UK Shop for all my current products in stock.
World Shop and where you can also have fun choosing my fabric panels for your own bit of crafting DIY.
Read more about my studio time and art for fun on my blog.
You can also find me here: flickr, twitter, facebook

inside the artist's studio: made by swirly girl

Who is Made by Swirly Girl?

Made by SwirlyGirl is the name of the business I started about 4 years ago after much prodding from my husband and friends to sell my cards instead of just giving them away. The name was created after my husband made a remark about the doodling I would do while I was on the telephone. I added the "made by" because there was an existing business with the name of Swirly Girl. If by "who is Made by SwirlyGirl?" you mean "who is Laurie LeBlanc-Rickaby?", that is a little bit longer and more complicated answer, but in a nutshell, I would have to say: I am a mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, former professional ballet dancer, choreographer, and presently a ballet teacher, who feels closest to my higher power when I am expressing myself through creating.

made by swirly girl
What inspires you?

Color, texture, movement, music, lighting, nature, art in any form inspires me...I'm a very visual person and nearly all of my inspiration comes from something I see, but if it is coupled with music, there is nothing better than that! I've always had the need to create as far back as I can remember. As a small child, I painted sea shells and made pot holders and sold them door-to-door. At least I TRIED to sell them. (In all honesty, I think I sold 2 shells and one of them was to my father!) I've crocheted, knit, embroidered, sewed, needlepointed and cross stitched, learned some Native American beadwork, learned basket weaving, floral design, wreath making, faux finishes, covered photo albums and frames, made boxes and books, tried scrapbooking, jewelry making, quilting, and a few other arts and crafts. This is the first one that has kept my attention long enough to actually think about starting a business around it. (Actually, that isn't true. In the 80s, I did some consignment sales and a couple of craft shows with a couple of other things, but I did get bored with them fairly quickly!) What I love about making cards and photo art is that I can change it anytime I want to. I can create a new line, drop a line, change the direction of a line...I can't run out of things to photograph and there are so many things I can do with each photo that I feel I can keep this up indefinitely! (Plus, it satisfies my need for immediate gratification, being a quick process from photographing to packaging the finished card!)

made by swirly girl
When did you start designing cards?

The first cards that I designed were about 9 years ago, I think, when there wasn't much disposable income and I refused to spend $4 or $5 on a card to send someone that they were just going to throw out after a few days, most likely. I thought:"For $5, I can buy the supplies to make many cards and those that receive them will actually want to keep them, too!" They were made from torn and cut handmade papers on cardstock with some beads, buttons, or ephemera added for texture. I then began working with gorgeous fabric remnants that a close friend would give me. When I got my first digital camera and began to experiment with a couple of photo programs, another door opened for me and the world was suddenly a new and exciting place to discover! My first cards came out of a happy mistake that became the direction I have continued to expand, my Made-U-Look line. Some time later, I discovered other photo software programs and began developing my Kaleidoscope line, followed by En Pointe, Whirly Girl, and Plein Air, in that order.

Where did you get your training?

Training? That makes me smile...I've taught myself how to use my photo programs and camera and how to use my computer and the internet. Other than that, it's all just a big happy experiment. I'm moved to create; I create; I like it or I don't like it; I do it again and take what I learned with me into the next attempt;'s just about trusting myself and believing that if I like the way something has come out, there will probably be others who like it, too. But, even if there aren't, the process is not motivated by pleasing anyone besides myself when I create, anyway. The process is worthwhile just because I'm moved to begin it. If others like it, too, that is icing on the cake!

How does one acquire your cards?

At the moment I can be found at all of the following:


yellowgoat blog survey giveaway, win $50 cash coupon for yellowgoat shop

yellowgoat design is one of my favorite etsy shop. i love her jewelries and was thrilled to have her as one of the inside the artist's studio featured designer.
she is hosting a blog survey giveaway for her readers and i wanted to pass the word along.

visit her blog to find out the details of the giveaway :)

inside the artist's studio: apple & eve

Who is "apple & eve"?

My name is Eva. Many people put Eva and Adam together so, to prevent that I chose Apple as my "partner". And Eve, because to English speaking world it is equivalent of Eva.

What inspires you?

The most important influence comes from nature. Every time I go out (for a walk or to grocery shop etc) I look at flowers and grass growing by the side of the street. I look at how the lines and curves are "drawn", I look at how the leaves are attached to the stems and whether it is characteristic for a certain plant. I also admire the color combination - hues of green and gray and brown can be so amazing!

apple and eve studio

When did you start designing toys and embroidery patterns?
3 years ago - around 2006. I wanted to make a special toy for my little son, who wasn't born yet. So I made a simple bunny from white cotton, bought 3 or 4 skeins of embroidery thread and embroidered simple Swirls onto it. I did 3 Bunnies first and they looked adorable. I had just discovered etsy around the same time and I thought it would be fun to see whether other people like these funny toys too. They did :)

apple & eve

Where? Training wise
All my sewing and embroidery skills come from school, where from 4th degree, all handiwork media was obligatory .

apple & eve

How does one acquire one of your creations?
I can still be found in Etsy, but there are several other shops who carry my work. Craftsbury Kids and Magpie Lovely for example. I love it when people contact me asking for a special bunny or a hedgehog for their beloved one. I have made toys for everyone - from newborn babies to grandmoms :)

apple & eve
Visit Eva here: blog, etsy, flickr, and twitter

wordless wednesday #11 autumn love

zoetropa: giveaway

I love notebooks and journals - pretty little things to jot down to do lists, passing thoughts, sketches and sometimes just to doodle in. I was really excited when I ran into the zoetropa:giveaway. I've been a distant admirer of her notebooks for sometime. She is offering 2 prizes (see below pictures) to celebrate her 2 year anniversary - they are wonderful and super cute! Visit her blog to find out the details of her giveaway.

prize #1

prize #2