Independent Etsy artisans from across the South Shore are banding together to sell handmade products.By Noelle Barbosa
Nautical note cards, glittering gemstone jewelry and boutique baby bibs and bowties are just a few of the items made by South Shore artisans that are sold on the online marketplace Etsy.com. Unable to locate a craft fair that catered to South Shore Etsy artists, Weymouth artist-turned-entrepreneur Carla Nee set out to create one. Nee launched Wicked Etsy in 2012, in an effort to bring independent artists out from behind their computer screens and offer shoppers an opportunity to meet the people who make each item by hand.
“I went from being an artist to a show producer very quickly,” says Nee, who now coordinates numerous arts and crafts fairs and special events throughout the region through her business, Salted Productions.
Nee’s dossier includes an Etsy Arts Market at The Pinehills in Plymouth and Shaft Alley at the Hingham Shipyard in Hingham. She has also teamed up with Food Truck Festivals of America to offer a handmade arts market at food festivals. Nee recently jumped aboard the fashion truck bandwagon by launching a series of HAUL Fashion Truck Festivals, which bring together buses, box trucks and trailers outfitted as mobile boutiques and peddling clothing and accessories.
Wicked Etsy Artisans events are a great place to shop for one-of-a-kind gifts and help support local artists at the same time. Nee continues to manage two Etsy shops of her own—HandSalted (offering high-end nautical baby goods) and SaltedQuarters (high-resolution downloads of nautical charts, photographs and postcards). Here are just a few locally made products you’re likely spot when you shop.
Violette Tide Studios, Plymouth
Plymouth artist Leah Bares grew up with a paintbrush in one hand and a fishing pole in the other. Her watercolor paintings and giclée prints are fluid interpretations of alluring aquatic life and the enchantment that surrounds the sea.
“My bloodline consists of fishermen and artists, so it’s only natural I would find myself painting watercolors of the sea,” says Bares, who opened Violette Tide Studios a little more than a year ago. “Watercolor requires a delicate balance of control and spontaneity – often producing unexpected colors and forms that are both precise and imperfect.”
Bares began painting when she was 8 years old and continued to hone her craft through college, but disconnected with (what she calls) her creative spirit once she entered law school. Following a 10 year hiatus, Bares went back to the brush and soon accumulated enough artwork to open an Etsy shop.
Look into the coastal corner that feeds this artist’s soul and you’ll find a lobster created in a kaleidoscopic blues that stretch from cerulean to seafoam and also one of her favorite pieces, Four Whales Heading West.
“Whales are a sign of fertility and I was dreaming of them each night last May. Soon after the painting was completed, I found out I was pregnant,” says Bares. Aside from Etsy, you’ll find her art at the Plymouth Farmers’ Market and Hingham Farmers’ Market.
Studio 518 Designs, Plymouth
What started as a hobby for Hilary Johnson a decade ago to occupy time during the frigid New England winters is now a thriving jewelry business called Studio 518 Designs. The Plymouth resident, who hails from Georgia originally, is inspired by her seaside surroundings and the intrinsic beauty found in gemstones and minerals.
“I like to research the stones that I’m working with and the cultural beliefs that tie them to history, geography and spiritual practices,” says Johnson. When describing the brilliant blue stone lapis lazuli, for example, Johnson says, “Buddhists recommended it to bring inner peace and freedom from negative thought. Catherine the Great also adorned an entire room in her palace with lapis lazuli during the Renaissance.”
While Johnson likes to mix materials and metals, she’s particularly drawn to labradorite for its iridescent effect and aquamarine for its striking hue. “I design around a gemstone that helps to tell a story or speaks to the wearer,” explains Johnson.
Noble Originals, Hingham
When Hingham native Jenni Massaro first began learning about the ingredients in skincare products, she never expected it would lead to a new career developing her own all-natural line. In 2012, Massaro began bottling massage oils and body scrubs in her kitchen. Within a year, she had created a full line of vegan spa products and her business started to boom.
“It began to take over my kitchen,” says Massaro, who eventually left her corporate job to pursue Noble Originals full time. “Boxes with inventory were beginning to take over my living room,” says Massaro. “Last year, I began renting private space dedicated to my products so I could have my house back.”
Massaro named her business after a horse she has been leasing (and riding) since 2009. “Noble quickly became my best friend and would jump over the moon, if asked,” explains Massaro. “He’s my inspiration in so many ways.”
You can experience Noble Originals (including their sought-after body butters) locally at Hafta Havit in Pembroke. Her all-natural bug spray is a huge hit in the summer and there’s even a line of saddle soaps, leather conditioners and fly repellant for the equine community.
Pear Paper Shoppe, Plymouth
Design and illustration have been lifelong passions for Kellie O’Hara. In 2014, the artist began designing a collection of calendars and greeting cards, creating a brand identity and building Pear Paper Shoppe out of her cozy studio apartment in Providence, Rhode Island.
“I draw and create everything myself,” says O’Hara, who now resides in her hometown of Plymouth. “It’s the most rewarding process.” Many of the illustrations are inspired by personal experiences. “Before opening my shop, I would make cards for friends and family that were based on my interpretation of our relationship,” says O’Hara.
Pear Paper Shoppe is a vibrant enclave with artwork depicting quirky animals and inspirational thoughts. You’ll find anything from a card with a sloth hanging upside down to a print quoting Ralph Waldo Emerson. In addition, O’Hara creates custom wedding invitations, birthday cards and baby announcements.
The Rugged Sailor, Scituate
The Rugged Sailor is where Scituate native Alli Trowbridge shares her hand-painted nautical outdoor doormats with coastal home décor enthusiasts. The young mother of two started out making the mats for family and friends before and later began selling her products on Etsy.
The doormats are woven out of 100 percent coir fibers and are secured by a vinyl backing. They feature a range of coastal prints and can also be custom painted with zip codes, town names, words like “Welcome” or names up to eight characters long.
“I’m inspired by the sea,” says Trowbridge whose signal flag motifs and maritime pennant designs rank among her favorites. “I love how the nautical designs mirror the coastal lifestyle of the South Shore.”
Magpies Fancy Shop, Duxbury
“My shop’s name is inspired by the lifestyle of the magpie bird,” says Duxbury artisan Pamela Estey, an antique connoisseur who opened Magpies Fancy Shop in 2011 and finds beauty in artifacts that others ignore. “I consider myself a huntress. I find objects for my shop almost everywhere I go.”
Estey sells a medley of treasures in her online marketplace–think handcrafted jewelry born from antique tins and rare woodwork constructed by her husband, Gregg. Within her exclusive cache, Estey holds a deluge of heirlooms.
“Sometimes, I hold on to an item that I particularly love for just a little while before I sell it,” admits the artist. “When a new shiny piece appears, the cycle repeats.”
Estey recently partnered with Etsy Mill Gypsies, a team dedicated to organizing fairs and markets, and she aspires to open a second e-commerce shop exclusively for her handmade jewelry. Locally, you’ll find her handcrafted pieces at Haven: The Little Shop of Laura’s in Duxbury.
UPCOMING SALTED PRODUCTIONS EVENTS
Super Cool Indie Arts
at the Food Truck Festivals of America
at Merrymount Park in Quincy
Etsy Arts Market and
HAUL Fashion Truck Festival
at The Pinehills in Plymouth
For more information, click here.