Three Awesome Gift Basket Ideas for Christmas

Jamie Cassidy of Voluntown Housewife - 3 Awesome Themed Gift Basket Ideas for Christmas 2015 Gift Ideas

Post by aftcra Guest Blogger, Jamie Cassidy of Voluntown Housewife.  

One of my favorite things to do when planning my holiday gifts is to think of “themed” gift ideas. I enjoy creating gift baskets so to speak instead of giving a bunch of random gifts. Last year I gave my best friend an “at home date night” gift basket. I included a game, some champagne, her favorite peach tea, date night conversation cards, a bathrobe, and a blanket. She loved it, which of course warmed my soul. That’s what gift giving is all about, spreading love and joy! I have put together some themed gift ideas with some product suggestions that I found on aftcra. I think you are going to love them!

I love creating and spreading love to those around me. I started my blog Voluntown Housewife for many reasons but one of the reasons was I wanted to bring people back to the joy of creating and loving their homes and everything in them! Voluntown Housewife is a place where I share my gift ideas, my creative projects, my travels, reviews of places I’ve been and pretty much anything that I think will encourage others to fall in love with their homes and the people that make them! Some times it’s the little things we do for people that mean the most. When you take a few extra minutes to be creative with a gift it can be worth so much more than the price you paid for it. A great way to put a little creativity into your gift giving is to give a themed gift! Here are 3 awesome gift basket ideas I came up with just for you!


For the The Coffee Lover 


Jamie Cassidy of Voluntown Housewife - 3 Awesome Themed Gift Basket Ideas for Christmas 2015 Gift Ideas - Tune My Heart To Sing Thy Grace Hand Painted 16 oz Mug

1. Tune My Heart To Sing Thy Grace Hand Painted 16 oz Mug

The hand lettering on this mug is whimsical and sweet, plus I can’t lie I love gold! It’s perfect way to start someone’s morning.

Buy this here:


Jamie Cassidy of Voluntown Housewife - 3 Awesome Themed Gift Basket Ideas for Christmas 2015 Gift Ideas - coffee scoops

2. Coffee Scoops

How many times have you lost the plastic scoop that comes in your coffee, if you’re like me, too many to count. These hand carved scoops are beautiful and a perfect addition to a coffee lover’s morning.

Buy this here:


Jamie Cassidy of Voluntown Housewife - 3 Awesome Themed Gift Basket Ideas for Christmas 2015 Gift Ideas - Coffee Exfoliating Bar Soap Handmade Cold Process Soap Unscented

3. Coffee Exfoliating Bar Soap Handmade Cold Process Soap Unscented 

This soap is great since it’s unscented and coffee makes for a great exfoliator. An added bonus to this soap is it’s rustic look, which would go great in a burlap bag.

Buy this here:

A great addition to this basket would be to go to your local market and get some gourmet coffee!


For the Family Cook


Jamie Cassidy of Voluntown Housewife - 3 Awesome Themed Gift Basket Ideas for Christmas 2015 Gift Ideas - iPad mini or Kindle stand, rustic wood cutting board stand

1. iPad Mini or Kindle Stand, Rustic Wood Cutting Board Stand

It’s hard to read recipes when your device is laying flat on the counter. This stand is gorgeous and will make a wonderful addition to anyone’s kitchen.

Buy this here:


Jamie Cassidy of Voluntown Housewife - 3 Awesome Themed Gift Basket Ideas for Christmas 2015 Gift Ideas - Personalized Rolling Pin Engraved with Couple's Names & Date

2. Personalized Rolling Pin Engraved with Couples Names & Date

Nothing screams homemade and home cooking like a wooden rolling pin. It’s old fashion yet timeless.

Buy this here:


Jamie Cassidy of Voluntown Housewife - 3 Awesome Themed Gift Basket Ideas for Christmas 2015 Gift Ideas - You Wash I'll Dry, Set of Tea Towels, Bridal Shower Gift, Hostess

3. You Wash I’ll Dry, Set of Tea Towels

I’m in love with these! They are a great reminder of teamwork, a perfect match for your favorite chef.

Buy this here:

Want to add more to this basket? Visit your local farmers market and pick up some goodies.


For the Beer Lover


Jamie Cassidy of Voluntown Housewife - 3 Awesome Themed Gift Basket Ideas for Christmas 2015 Gift Ideas - Wood beer caddy, bridegroom gift

1. Wood Beer Caddy

With this gift you can carry your beer around in style and never be without a bottle

Buy this here:


Jamie Cassidy of Voluntown Housewife - 3 Awesome Themed Gift Basket Ideas for Christmas 2015 Gift Ideas - Deer Monogram Glass,Etched Beer Glass, Rustic Hunters Monogram

2. Deer Monogram Glass, Etched Beer Glass 

Even if your favorite beer lover isn’t a hunter you have to admit this deer silhouette is pretty fantastic.

Buy this here:


Jamie Cassidy of Voluntown Housewife - 3 Awesome Themed Gift Basket Ideas for Christmas 2015 Gift Ideas - 2 Pack- Citrus Ale Beer Soap, Exfoliant Soap, Handmade Soap

3. 2 Pack- Citrus Ale Beer Soap, Exfoliant Soap 

Beer soap?? What?? Can you say unbelievable? Believe it or not hops can do great things for your skin and your beer lover will be sure to fall in love with this!

Buy this here:

Of course if you want spice up this gift add some awesome local brews!


I hope these suggestions sparked some creativity in you. Be sure to spread the love and support the hard working individuals that created these incredible products.


Jamie Cassidy Voluntown Housewife 11.13.15About aftcra Guest Blogger, Jamie Cassidy: I’m a wife and mom of two boys. I am raising my family in the same small town I grew up in and I have been blessed with the chance to stay at home. I left the work place to be able to do all of the things I truly love at home. I want to encourage others to love their homes and everything and everyone in them. As a lifestyle blogger at Voluntown Housewife I enjoy sharing my journey of creativity, cooking, gift giving, travel and so much more. I am loving this crazy ride we all call life.


Connect with Jamie!

Link to Voluntown Housewife:










Amazing Artisanal Handmade Christmas Gifts

Amy Oestreicher - Allspice and Acrylics - Christmas 2015 Gift Ideas Nine Amazing Artisanal Handmade Christmas Gifts 01

Post by aftcra Guest Blogger, Amy Oestreicher of Amy Oes.

It’s the season of giving, celebrations and memories, and it’s always the season for arts, crafts and other wonderful goodies! This year, don’t go for the gift card or the newest I-Phone. Check out some of these amazing artisanal handmade Christmas gifts that will surely make your loved one smile.

I’m a huge fan of handmade art and creative gifts. In fact, it’s creativity which allowed me to thrive through difficult times and to truly enhance amazing times in my life.

I’m a mixed-media artist, actress and writer with a one-woman autobiographical musical about my near-death experience and my continued celebration of life. Creativity has been a mindset that’s saved my life, and art has become my way of connecting with myself and my world. Now I use my artwork to inspire others with my message of hope, resilience and gratitude. I believe anyone can and deserves to create art, joy and the life of their dreams – no matter what.

Art has certainly helped me cope with deep hardships in my life. Originally, painting became such a blessing for me because it was an amazing way for me to express what was too overwhelming, frustrating and scary for words. Most importantly, I paint whatever I feel from the heart. I love experimenting with acrylics, painting my world of trees, birds, flight, girls dancing, and tear drops. Now, art just makes me happy, and I’m happy to share my art in my galleries on, lead mixed media workshops, and sell some of my art on Etsy!

And these nine artsy gift ideas are certainly bound to inspire!


Amy Oestreicher - Allspice and Acrylics - Christmas 2015 Gift Ideas Nine Amazing Artisanal Handmade Christmas Gifts -  July ORIGINAL Watercolor

1.) This adorable watercolor piece. First of all, this is an ORIGINAL piece, not a print. This would be amazing to hang in the washroom, or anywhere where you’d like to get the most of ALL worlds – a bit of video-gaming, a bath, a spectacular beach view…

Buy this here:


Amy Oestreicher - Allspice and Acrylics - Christmas 2015 Gift Ideas Nine Amazing Artisanal Handmade Christmas Gifts - Mosaic Outlet Cover

2.) This mosaic outlet cover is gorgeous, quirky, artsy and colorful. When you plug in, you’re bound to do it in style now!

Buy this here:


Amy Oestreicher - Allspice and Acrylics - Christmas 2015 Gift Ideas Nine Amazing Artisanal Handmade Christmas Gifts - Photograph Print Swirl - Flower Photography - Rose

3.) This swirl flower photography sweeps me into a whimsical place of wonder. The calm color palette and clear focus of this photograph are perfect for a bedroom, or any place you’d like a bit more zen.

Buy this here:


Amy Oestreicher - Allspice and Acrylics - Christmas 2015 Gift Ideas Nine Amazing Artisanal Handmade Christmas Gifts - Oatmeal Goat Milk Soaps, Lavender, Almond, unscented, Red Clover

4.) I would call it amazing, but the soap says it for me. Check out this amazing goat milk soap with the most exotic, soothing notes of almond and oatmeal.

Buy this here:


Amy Oestreicher - Allspice and Acrylics - Christmas 2015 Gift Ideas Nine Amazing Artisanal Handmade Christmas Gifts - Fox CHRISTMAS TREE SKIRT

5.) What does the fox say? The fox says that this is the cutest tree skirt, perfect for your Christmas tree this year! Handmade, vibrant colors, and an adorable little animal friend to keep your gifts company!

Buy this here:


Amy Oestreicher - Allspice and Acrylics - Christmas 2015 Gift Ideas Nine Amazing Artisanal Handmade Christmas Gifts - Crocheted Autumn Rustic Pumpkins and Fall Leaves for Mantle Decor

6.) Of course, there’s still time to celebrate the bounties of autumn, and what better way than these beautiful little crocheted pumpkins? These pumpkins will stay soft, cozy and seasonal all year long!

Buy this here:


Amy Oestreicher - Allspice and Acrylics - Christmas 2015 Gift Ideas Nine Amazing Artisanal Handmade Christmas Gifts - Wizard of Oz Silver Ruby Slippers Charm Bracelet

7.) If you’ll be home for the holidays, remind yourself there’s NO place like home…with Ruby Slipper necklace. These will always remind you of that classic little line from Wizard of Oz.

Buy this here:


Amy Oestreicher - Allspice and Acrylics - Christmas 2015 Gift Ideas Nine Amazing Artisanal Handmade Christmas Gifts - Sock Monkey Doll

8.) Every kid, as well as every kid in us all needs a handmade sock monkey. This is made with lots of love…and socks! But these socks will DEFINITELY make you feel cozy!

Buy this here: 


Amy Oestreicher - Allspice and Acrylics - Christmas 2015 Gift Ideas Nine Amazing Artisanal Handmade Christmas Gifts - Sand and Sea Wrap - Beautiful Handmade Ladies Shawl

9.) I am absolutely in LOVE with this beautiful Sand and Sea ladies shawl. The colors bring me right back to the beach, and the warmth is exactly what I’ll be needing this winter. So…’tis the season of giving…that’s my wish-list right there!

Buy this here: 


Amy Oestreicher - Allspice and Acrylics 11.13.15About aftcra Guest Blogger, Amy Oestreicher:

Amy is a 28 year old PTSD peer-peer specialist, artist, author, speaker, award-winning health advocate, actress and playwright. Surviving and thriving through a coma, 27 surgeries and other trauma has inspired Amy to share her story with the world through her passionate desire to create and help others. Piecing her life together after her initial dreams of performing musical theatre took on a beautiful detour into broader horizons. Amy has written, directed and starred in a one woman musical about her life, Gutless & Grateful, has flourished as a mixed media and acrylic artist, with her art in multiple galleries and mounting dozens of solo art shows, and continues to share her story through her art, music, theatre and writings. Amy is currently touring the country with her one-woman show and motivational workshops which you can learn more about at: Visit for more information as well as her Etsy shop:


Connect with Amy! 



Facebook page:







Nine Gift Ideas for Teenage Boys – Handmade and Made in America

2015 Holiday Gift Guide- Nine Gift Ideas for Teenage Boys

Post by aftcra Guest Blogger, Erin Sipes of My Very Educated Mother.

Shopping for a teenage boy can be just as challenging as shopping for a grown man. Sure they’ll always go for the latest video game or outdoor gadget but that can be as impersonal as a gift card. This year, surprise them; go rogue with a handmade gift. Below is a collection of gift ideas for teenage boys made by the hands of aftcra artists that even the most cynical teenage boy on the planet (also known as my son) would love to receive.

Hey guys! I’m Erin, most days you can find me at My Very Educated Mother, a site where I encourage creative living through craft ideas, DIY projects, and family-friendly recipes. Making things is in my blood and it’s always so inspiring to see the works of others. It’s a treat to have the opportunity to put together a gift guide featuring the talented makers of aftcra. I hope you like what I’ve chosen!

Nine Gift Ideas for Teenage Boys - Handmade and Made in America 01 Custom Handmade Leather Headphone Holder

1. Handmade Leather Headphone Holder $10.00

These headphone holders are such a cool way to keep those little wires from getting tangled. Plus, you’ve got to take a moment and read about the thought and care put into selecting the leather used to make these original pieces.

Nine Gift Ideas for Teenage Boys - Handmade and Made in America 01 Tea Tree Face Soap Natural Homemade Handmade Vegan

2. Tea Tree Face Soap $13.00

Tea tree facial soap won’t clear up extreme acne but it will keep his face smelling extra great.


Nine Gift Ideas for Teenage Boys - Handmade and Made in America 01 stainless steel coordinates hand stamped key chain gift idea handmade

3. Stainless Steel Coordinates Key Chain $14.00

When your teenager starts driving they’re going to need a key chain. Why not get them a cool one with the coordinates of their birthplace on it?


Nine Gift Ideas for Teenage Boys - Handmade and Made in America 01 Hand Stamped Man Card - Wallet Insert for the Man, Dad, Guy Gift Idea Manly

4. Man Card $15.00

Here’s a gift sure to get a smile! Plus, I’m quite sure it’s the easiest way to make your son feel like a man.


Nine Gift Ideas for Teenage Boys - Handmade and Made in America 01 Harry Potter - Ravenclaw House Crest - Etched Beer Mug

5. Harry Potter – Ravenclaw House Crest – Etched Beer Mug $15.50

A growing boy wants a man-sized mug for his milk and cookie, at least mine does. If Harry Potter isn’t your thing there are other designs to choose from.


Nine Gift Ideas for Teenage Boys - Handmade and Made in America 01 Sriracha Book - a hot little handmade keepsake blank sketchbook

6. Sriracha Sketch Book $20.00

Is it a diary, journal, notebook, or sketchbook? Who cares? What matters is that it’s cool and perfect for doodling!


Nine Gift Ideas for Teenage Boys - Handmade and Made in America 01 Men's Chivalry's Not Dead Tee

7. Men’s Chivalry’s Not Dead Tee $22.00

This shirt offered a little bit of angst without being offensive. Sure, it’ll make you do a double take, but don’t worry, it’s perfectly harmless.


Nine Gift Ideas for Teenage Boys - Handmade and Made in America 01 American Appare Home State Roots or Madel Gym:Duffle Bag Available in All States

8. American Apparel Home State Gym/Duffle Bag $39.00

Every teenage boy needs a duffle bag for toting around gym gear or maybe their comic book collection. These ‘Roots’ bags are a great way to show your home state pride!


Nine Gift Ideas for Teenage Boys - Handmade and Made in America 01 Mens Fingerless gloves, hand knit fingerless gloves Grey and Orange stripes Texas Handmade

9. Fingerless Gloves $53.00

Like their older counterparts, teenage boys don’t need gloves with fingers. They’re perfectly happy without a jacket and wearing shorts in below zero temperatures…then again, maybe they’ll take the gloves.



Erin Sipes - My Very Educated Mother Nine Gift Ideas for Teenage Boys - Handmade and Made in America

About aftcra guest blogger, Erin Sipes of My Very Educated Mother:

My Very Educated Mother aims to foster creative living through quick and easy crafts, DIY home decor ideas, and recipes that cater to the tastes and schedules of an active family.

Visit My Very Educated Mother here.


Connect with My Very Educated Mother here: 






Raves and Faves for the Holidays – Handmade Christmas Gift Guide

2015 Holiday Gift Guide- Raves and Faves for the Holidays

Post by aftcra Guest Blogger, Jackie Riffice of Prairie Godmothers.

Prairie Godmothers believes in honoring American ingenuity by finding creative ways to reinvent new uses for old things. We want to repair what’s broken, put a shine to old things, and buy American when possible. We appreciate locally-made goods because they have the added value of building community through economic stimulation and provision of opportunities for volunteerism and education. Our aftcra picks fit very nicely with our vision of buying and gifting.

We Godmothers take pride in finding the best of the best and the selections from aftcra receive the Prairie Godmothers seal of approval this season with this handmade Christmas gift guide (and any season as a matter of fact):


Raves and Faves for the Holidays - Handmade Christmas Gift Guide 01 Custom Upcycled Flannel Shirt with Custom Phrease Screenprinted 

1. FLYING ART GARDEN up-cycles aging flannel shirts with customized words and phrases on the back. Ingenious alternative to a boring t-shirt.


Raves and Faves for the Holidays - Handmade Christmas Gift Guide 01 Custom Set of Five Rustic Twig Veggie & Herb Garden Plant

2. SHIRE RANCH SHOPPE collects twigs from the ranch and whittles them to perfectly imperfect plant markers. Buy pre-made sets for your veggies and herbs or have them carve a custom set for you.


Raves and Faves for the Holidays - Handmade Christmas Gift Guide 01 All Natural Handmade Vegan Soap Peppermint Homemade Soap Gift Set of Two

3. WAX ALCHEMY blends several oils, butters and luscious scents to make this invigorating soap free of preservatives. Handmade, hand cut and just waiting to be shared.


Raves and Faves for the Holidays - Handmade Christmas Gift Guide 01 Poison Ivy Relief Salve Natural Handmade Homemade Made in USA

4. BREW CITY BOTANICALS provides an immediate solution to the bane of every gardener: poison ivy. Certified organic ingredients are infused in a salve that should be part of everyone who work or plays in the outdoors.


Raves and Faves for the Holidays - Handmade Christmas Gift Guide 01 Beard Oil Sampler Set, beard softener, beard balm, beard treatment 

5. THE SOOTHE CHEF gets the ‘scraggly’ out of beards with a secret blend of oils and scents that will tame the growth and give it some much needed softness. We like the Sampler that offers 3 different scents.


Raves and Faves for the Holidays - Handmade Christmas Gift Guide 01 Peppermint & Eucalyptus Shower Steamers|3 Pack| Handmade Gift Set

6. BEYOND DIVINE make showering a therapeutic experience! Their shower steamers release an aroma that will clear your sinuses and help you breathe much easier.


Raves and Faves for the Holidays - Handmade Christmas Gift Guide 01 Heating Pad Set, Microwavable, Hot cold packs, Heating Pad, Aroma

7. LIZ KING DESIGNS makes this awesome trio of microwaveable hot packs in soft cottons. They’re filled with organic buckwheat, flax and rice to provide moist heat for sore spots.


Raves and Faves for the Holidays - Handmade Christmas Gift Guide 01 Modern. Pallet Wood. Repurposed. Recycled. Reclaimed Wood Wall Clock

8 TERRAFIRMA 79 reclaims pallet wood and reinvents the wall clock! Lovely colors and distressed would result in a timely (pardon the pun) home accent.


Jackie Riffice of Prairie Godmothers - Raves and Faves for the Holidays - Handmade Christmas Gift Guide

About Jackie Riffice of Prairie Godmothers

In a busy Chicago train station, Jackie Riffice found her purpose in Prairie Godmothers. That day she challenged herself to share the gift of nature by passing out native flowers to the busy commuters. Their gratitude at her small gesture prompted her to create a company aimed at educating and inspiring others to embrace nature and gardening. A company founded on the premise that everything begins with one intentional step, and that making a difference is easy to do.

Through Prairie Godmothers she aims to cultivate in others a sense of shared responsibility as caretakers of our earth, while helping them discover the joy in nurturing native plants. Whether creating a lovely landscape, growing a vegetable garden, recycling or upcycling, there are many ways to live greener. She provides easy tips for anyone to make an impact, starting in their very own home and backyard.

When she isn’t traveling to help clients and communities embrace their green thumbs, she is spending time in her home garden in Flossmoor, IL.

Prairie Godmothers is committed to awakening and expanding the environmental conscience of everyone on the planet. We provide earth friendly products and simple ideas that help us reconnect with nature, inspire creativity and celebrate the art of the garden. Read our blog for tips on inviting nature to your yard and living a greener lifestyle. Shop our carefully curated online shop for finely crafted things for the garden and from the garden.

Visit Jackie at Prairie Godmothers now.


Connect with Jackie!





Homemade Gifts for the Holidays – American Made Gifts

2015 Holiday Gift Guide- Homemade Gifts for the Holidays

Post by aftcra Guest Blogger, Monica Taylor of TaylorMadeCards4U.

Is it just me, or has this whole holiday season thing gotten way out of control?  I’m pretty sure that a year is still as long as it used to be, so why does the season seem to be arriving earlier and earlier each year?  The cynical side of me wants to blame the big retailers, the ones who bank on our lemming-like behavior to overflow their coffers each fall.  When I was a kid (not as long ago as this rant is making me sound) holiday decorations and merchandise didn’t appear until after Thanksgiving.  Nowadays it is common for retailers to start pushing their wares well before Halloween, and many people have already finished shopping by Thanksgiving night, thanks to Black Friday (excuse me, Thursday).  While I can’t control the commerciality of the holidays, there is at least one tradition that I refuse to relinquish, and that is the tradition of sharing handmade gifts with my family and friends.

About five years ago I started creating my own Christmas cards and before I knew it I was making hand-made greeting cards for almost every occasion. The response to my cards was phenomenal, and soon Taylormadecards4u was born. Then, about three years ago I started my blog,, where I am able to share card creations, offer tutorials, and review products. I have since expanded my handmade items to include altered art, wall hangings, memory boxes, and various other items. I have also been privileged to be a participant on many design teams both as a member and a guest designer. In November and December of 2014 I was published in an online magazine,, and will have some new items featured in Just Steampunk, coming out November 2015.

As a practitioner of handmade arts, I fully support the community of my fellow artists and purchase from them regularly.  My real mission, however, is to convince the average consumer that buying handmade is well worth their time and money, and helps build a stronger community for us all.

With this in mind, I wanted to share with you my top 10 homemade gifts for the holiday season.


Homemade Gifts for the Holidays 01 AMARETTO KISS - Cherry Almond candles, 8 oz

1. Amaretto Kiss – Cherry Almond Candles – Candles are always wonderful gifts for family or friends. There are so many fragrance choices, you are sure to find one for anyone on your list.

Homemade Gifts for the Holidays 01 World Traveler Domino Pendant Necklace

2. World Traveler Domino Pendant Necklace – Upcycled gifts not only help the environment, they can make beautiful gifts. This World Traveler pendant is a beautiful and unique gift any adventurer would enjoy.

Homemade Gifts for the Holidays 01 Men's Shaving Kit- Black Flag

3. Men’s Shaving Kit – Black Flag – Men can sometimes be difficult to shop for. This gift is perfect for the man in your life. With the masculine fragrance, it is something you both can enjoy.

Homemade Gifts for the Holidays 01 Chunky Mobius Cowl, Infinity Scarf

4. Chunky Mobius Cowl, Infinity Scarf – Scarves are not only practical, but they are very stylish and would be a wonderful addition to a wardrobe.

Homemade Gifts for the Holidays 01 Lavender Silky Skin Gift Set

5. Lavender Silky Skin Gift Set – Who wouldn’t love to find a little pampering beneath the Christmas tree? This Bath and Body set is sure to be a hit for any female on your list.

Homemade Gifts for the Holidays 01 Espresso Dulce de Leche (caramel sauce)

6. Expresso Dulce de Leche (Carmel Sauce) – You can never go wrong with food gift sets. This set of three carmel sauces is sure to be a hit for anyone with a sweet tooth.

Homemade Gifts for the Holidays 01 Handpainted oil dispenser with pretty pink wild roses and green leaves

7. Hand Painted Oil Dispenser with pretty pink wild roses and green leaves – These oil dispensers are not only practical, but useful. Use them for oils or just display as a decorative item.

Homemade Gifts for the Holidays 01 Grain Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bark : chocolate : unique

8. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bark – Who doesn’t love holiday sweets? This is a perfect gift for an office exchange or for neighbors.

Homemade Gifts for the Holidays01 Painted Distressed Mason Jars - Pink, Cream and Coral Jars

9. Painted Distressed Mason Jars – Bring a little country to your home with these painted distressed mason jars. These work perfect for gifts, or to keep for yourself.

Homemade Gifts for the Holidays 01 Baby Cardigan Sweater green and blue baby shower gift handmade homemade

10. Baby Cardigan Sweater – This is a unique and elegant gift for a baby. Sure to become a keepsake for the parents.



Monica Taylor of TaylorMadeCards4U

About aftcra Guest Blogger, Monica Taylor:

I started crafting at a very early age and have never stopped. When my son was born 18 years ago, I started scrap booking, which was an easy segway into card making. About 3 years ago I decided to take my card making to the next level and started blogging and sharing my cards with the world. Since then I have participated on several design teams and currently design for two rubber stamp companies, So Suzy Stamps and Riley and Company. My cards can be found on line as well as in local shops and florists in the Phoenix area.

Visit TaylorMadeCard4U now.


Connect with Monica!










Our Q&A with Tami of Rough Gem – Handmade Victorian Jewelry

aftcra Featured Artisan Blog Cover - Rough Gem - neovictorian jewelry - druzy pyrite earrings - agate geode necklaces

We want to introduce you to an incredibly talented and funky jewelry designer – Tami from Rough Gem. With a variety of jewelry designs (handmade victorian jewelry and vintage and natural styles) ranging from beautiful agate geode necklaces for the more natural lady to sweet tiny bird earrings, there’s something for everyone!

With the holidays on our heels, this is the time to load up on handmade victorian jewelry – or more of a natural style – for Christmas gifts or for your holiday outfits. Rough Gem offers such a fabulous array of jewelry that you’ll totally find something perfect for the occasion. And to learn more about the person behind Rough Gem, read Tami’s interview below.

Facebook - Rough Gem - Handmade Victorian Jewelry and Agate Geode Necklaces on aftcra American made jewelry

1. Tell us about yourself and your company, Rough Gem

I am Tamera Gagne, my shop on aftcra is Rough Gem, and I have been a jewelry maker for 11 years. I usually create my work from home. I have a studio space in my house, but I’ll work anywhere: outside on nice days, as a passenger on a road trip, etc.

My background is in art and Art Education. I got started in jewelry making when I decided I would rather design my own jewelry than buy it. I tend to think that way with a lot of things, its just part of my creative, practical, and frugal nature.


2. How did you come up with the name, Rough Gem?

I have been a maker of many things in many venues under many different names (I sew, make ceramic work, I sell vintage, I make jewelry, etc.) I needed a name that I felt unified everything at one fell swoop. Rough Gem (also The Rough Gem) was a perfect name because it just worked with everything on different levels, along with describing myself.


3. How do you create your work?

With my hands, small tools, and small parts. Also gems, stones, crystal, fabric, metal, and the like are helpful.


4. What is the inspiration for your work?

When I browse for supplies, I’m inspired mainly by what I see potential in. Colorful stones or gems, for example, can get my mind working in what I could create with them, then going through trial and error in my head will determine if there is good reason to buy it. I can’t say sunsets or “ideas” or ethereal things inspire me, just what I see with my eyes.


Tami of Rough Gem - Handmade Victorian Jewelry and Agate Geode Necklaces on aftcra American made jewelry

5. As a small business owner, what is one piece of advice you would share with other small business owners?

Always be kind. Even If someone criticizes your work, that’s fine. You can’t please everyone, just enjoy what you do.


6. What is a quote that you personally live by, or you have shared with others for inspiration?

There are two secrets to success:

1. Never tell everything you know.

Rough Gem - Handmade Victorian Jewelry and Agate Geode Necklaces on aftcra American made jewelry 012


7. Why did you choose to join aftcra, and what do you enjoy about the community? 

I chose to join because I saw there was a venue that valued handmade, American-made products in a time when cheap, mass produced, foreign junk reigns king. The aftcra community has been a great place filled with positive people, as far as I’ve experienced.


8. What does “handmade” and “handcrafted” mean to you?

To me, if something is called “handmade” I expect it to be exactly that: hand made. There is so much to value in the work made by hand – the vision, the quality, the time, the investment, the successes and the failures. All of that from one person for you to love, give, or admire.


Get regular updates from Tami and Rough Gem! Connect with their social profiles here:

Twitter: @CrankHeartPony

Instagram: @the_rough_gem


Want to get featured on aftcra’s homepage! Interested in becoming aftcra’s Featured Store of the month? Send an email to and we will send you the requirements. All requests will be considered to become the next aftcra Featured Store.

Have you checked out aftcra yet?  Discover handmade goods from American artisans at aftcra.




Our Q&A with Moira of Badseed Studio

aftcra Featured Artisan Blog Cover - Badseed Studio Handmade Handcrafted industrial modern home decor made in the USA

Hailing from Milwaukee, we couldn’t help ourselves – we had to share a local artisan’s awesome artwork with you. Badseed Studio creates gorgeous modern and industrial home decor pieces that can be easily mixed and matched. With beautiful neutral colors and impressive attention to detail, these concrete handcrafted decorative items are the perfect amount of simplicity and intrigue.

You may be thinking “these will be a great gift for so-and-so”, but let’s face it … you’re totally going to end up keeping these Badseed Studio badass designs for yourself (and who’d blame you).

Badseed Studio on aftcra - handcrafted industrial modern home decor handmade and made in USA


1. Introduce yourself and the products that you make. 

My name is Moira McAdams and I’m the owner of Badseed Studio. I make concrete planters, home décor, and artwork.

I live and work in Milwaukee, my hometown. My studio has taken over my basement and garage, so I’m currently on the hunt for a more permanent workspace.

Badseed Studios Industrial Design Modern Handmade Handcrafted American Made 02


2. How did you get started in your line of work? 

I graduated from UW-Madison this spring. I studied landscape architecture which has bits of horticulture and botany, art and design, history, urban planning, environmental science…I loved it all! My broad interests were a good match for the city of Madison and I was able to find a variety of odd jobs and internships that included shopping for restaurants at the farmers market, botanical garden plant maintenance, farming, and beekeeping. I’m currently enjoying greenhouse work back in Milwaukee.


3. How long have you been doing your artwork?

I bought my first bag of cement in the spring of 2014, while I was still in school and about a year before I opened my shop. My first project was actually a tabletop for a woodworking class.


4. How did you come up with the name Badseed Studio?

My original business inspiration came from a frustrating search for garden decorations that weren’t angel themed or kitschy memorabilia. The idea was to create more modern outdoor décor, so I wanted an edgier name that also reflected the garden inspiration.

Badseed Studios Industrial Design Modern Handmade Handcrafted American Made 01


5. How do you create your work?

There’s not a lot of precedent in decorative concrete so it’s been a very experimental process. It’s definitely been a learning experience with lots of trial and error, and I’m finding new and better ways to do things all the time.


6. What is the inspiration for your work?

Concrete as a medium is rough and weighty, lending itself to urban influences and bulky geometry. These industrial elements are influential to me, but I’m especially inspired by the challenge of creating something delicate and beautiful that contradicts the traditional aesthetic.


7. What’s next for Badseed Studio?

Holiday items, and doing my first craft fairs!


8. As a small business owner, what is one piece of advice you would share with other small business owners?

Connect personally with your customers or potential customers. Making an impression strengthens your brand and is what sets your business apart from big box competitors.


9. What is a quote that you personally live by, or you have shared with others for inspiration?

‘Life serves the risk taker’


Badseed Studio - -Life serves the risk taker.-


10. Why did you choose to join aftcra, and what do you enjoy about the community?

aftcra offers a more intimate community than other platforms, and is a great way to connect with other shops as well as buyers who are truly interested in handmade American arts and crafts.


11. What does “handmade” and “handcrafted” mean to you?

To me, handcrafted means creating a more meaningful transaction between maker and buyer. It’s a privilege of owning a small business to be able to make a personal connection through a handmade item, and its part of what makes what I do so much fun.


Get regular updates from Moira and Badseed Studio! Connect with their social profiles here:

Facebook: Badseed Studio

Instagram: Badseed Studio


Want to get featured on aftcra’s homepage! Interested in becoming aftcra’s Featured Store of the month? Send an email to and we will send you the requirements. All requests will be considered to become the next aftcra Featured Store.

Have you checked out aftcra yet?  Discover handmade goods from American artisans at aftcra.


handcrafted industrial and modern home decor by Badseed Studio on aftcra made in USA




















Introducing The Artisan Group

The Artisan Group Introduction to aftcra members Handmade Makers Handcrafted Goods Celebrity Gift Bags

Have you ever watched The Emmys and wondered about those fancy gift bags that  celebrities receive? They’re chock full of expensive jewelry, fancy skin care lines and gorgeous handmade goods… enough to make any of us swoon for a chance to grab ahold of one of those bags.

And if you’re a maker, you’ve definitely dreamed about featuring your goods in those fancy little bags. If you’re one of the lucky ones, you’ve been able to do just that.

The Artisan Group 01

This is where The Artisan Group comes in to play (pssst – you definitely need to check out this handmade organization). The Artisan Group provides talented makers an opportunity to place their goods in front of celebrities at elite events (think “The Golden Globes” and “The Academy Awards”). With a team of skilled PR representatives, The Artisan Group‘s single goal is to act as spokespersons and ambassadors for your brand, providing you with the chance of having a celebrity take a picture with your product – and for press outlets to talk about it AND your handcrafted goods.

It sounds too goo to be true, right? Well, it isn’t! The Artisan Group takes a collaborative approach to these elite gift lounges, offering it’s members a white glove experience at an incredibly reasonable price. If you’re interested in viewing what kind of products are being showcased at these events, visit The Artisan Group’s Pinterest Page, where the latest gifted goods are pinned. To date, The Artisan Group has placed over 300 artisanal goods from it’s members on over 25 hit television shows. Now that’s impressive!

The Artisan Group Introduction to aftcra members Handmade Makers Handcrafted Goods Celebrity Gift Bags 01











We’d love for you to get to know more about this great group and what it’s doing for the handmade community. Visit The Artisan Group for more information on their partnerships, membership and their efforts to increase the visibility of handmade goods. Currently The The Artisan Group‘s membership is by invite-only, but by keeping up with their posts you just never know if opportunity might come knocking on your door.

You can also connect with The Artisan Group on their social outlets:






Why Community Matters for Makers

Why community Matters for Makers with Academy of Handmade aftcra

Guest Contribution by: Sharon Fain, Academy of Handmade


We started Academy of Handmade because we wanted to celebrate the amazing jobs makers do and get very little recognition for. After it was decided an awards show for makers was needed, we quickly realized that an ongoing community for makers that was neutral (read: not a group that was trying to get you to buy something or that supported a selling platform specifically). As a PR practitioner, I had the luxury of membership to trade organizations like Public Relations Society of America that would organize social and educational AND an awards show for our industry. Plus they advocated for the industry. We saw nothing really like this for makers and knew that community would be a key part of what we do. Here’s a few reasons why community is essential for your business.


1) You Need an Understanding Ear: When you decided to sell what you make, you were likely doing so because you got to choose work that was meaningful to you that also made you money. What more could you want?

But then you realized that hours in your studio or at your kitchen could be hard. Fulfilling, but hard. And then you also realized a lot of people with “normal jobs” just didn’t get what you do.

To prevent burnout or feeling down, having people who get what you do and can empathize with what you do is vital to sustaining your business– and your own sanity.

Why Community Matters to Makers Academy of Handmade aftcra 03


2) You Need a Sounding Board: Because you don’t have coworkers or even a boss, making decisions and bouncing ideas off someone else becomes really hard. Sure, you can ask a trusted friend or significant other if your line sheet looks right or if that’s the right kind of packaging, but then you probably have to explain a lot to them and always wonder if they really get it.

Creative and business decisions can either feel like the best idea ever and go really wrong or never happen because you’re telling yourself it’s stupid. While talking with your peers about it won’t ensure flops or success, it can help to mitigate weird feelings that can tend to take over your decision making.

Why Community Matters to Makers Academy of Handmade aftcra 05


3) You Need to Know What’s Up: Before becoming a maker, you likely had a full-time, 8-6 (let’s get real– they were never 9-5) job where you were immersed in what was happening in your industry. You got who the competitors were. You knew the trends and best practices. When you’re a maker it can be very hard to do this without a community.

Peers can share with you the experiences they’ve had on certain selling platforms or craft markets. They can alert you to new business tools or ways of making that will help you create a leaner and meaner business.

Learning what not do is also just as important. When you’re a beginner you can make mistakes that can be avoided with the help of mentors who have gone down that path before. In community, you can find those people.

While the Academy of Handmade aims to cultivate online through our Google group and in-person community through our chapters, you most certainly don’t need to join our community (though, we’d love to have you!) to get one. Do some research and find out who is a good fit for you. Create multiple places for connection online and off. I think you’ll find it an added value to your business. Just remember that you’ll get the most out of community when you participate and put yourself out there.

p.s. One of our favorite things to do in our community is our #emojistatuscheckin each Sunday on Instagram. I hope you’ll join us!

Etsy’s IPO and the Handmade Community

Etsys IPO and the Handmade Community














This evening the aftcra team learned about Etsy and their plans for an upcoming IPO. Etsys IPO will be a major move for the company as they become a public organization. Etsys IPO will also be a great opportunity to shine light on the growing craft marketplaces and the millions of talented artisans that make up the industry. It will also mean major changes at Etsy, which could be challenging for Etsy’s current and future artisans.

One of the biggest changes at Etsy occurred in October of 2013, when Etsy made adjustments to their handmade guidelines, permitting manufactured pieces to be sold in the marketplace alongside small crafters. This move has left many Etsy artisans frustrated with the influx of manufactured goods, crowding the marketplace, and hurting their search rankings and sales. Several Etsy sellers have stated that their 2014 holidays sales were drastically down over 2013, leaving them to consider alternative marketplaces. The decision to allow manufactured products was one to improve Etsy’s revenue, but it affected Etsy artisans detrimentally. At aftcra, we have made the commitment to only sell handmade items on aftcra that are made in America. We will never sell manufactured goods and regularly review products to ensure that they fit aftcra’s handmade standards.

aftcra is the newest handmade marketplace, but we are a privately-owned (and family-owned) business who ensures that our users are our number one priority. As we’ve shared in the past, the only influencers of aftcra are our American handmade community. We allow for open feedback from the aftcra community so all artisan’s and shopper’s needs are being heard and met. For any artists looking for an alternative handmade marketplace, we’d love to work with you.

Cheers to you and a truly exciting 2015.


Co-Founder and President, aftcra

Pardon Our Dust: aftcra handmade website redesign

aftcra handmade website redesign











You may have noticed that we have been a little quiet lately and that there haven’t been a ton of changes to aftcra. But there’s a good reason for that. And if you’re registered with aftcra, or you’re an aftcra artist, you already know. The aftcra team has been hard at work creating a brand new website for you with a much-needed handmade website redesign.

Not only will this handmade website redesign provide you with a new look and feel, it will also give all users a better experience. We want to make sure that we can support our American artists today and in the future so we thought, what better way than to invest in the website and ensure that it can be equipped for web suggestions made by our users, growth by both shoppers and artists, and cool new ways to experience handmade goods made in America.

We have had such a great show of support for aftcra and our mission that this big change of a handmade website redesign feels absolutely necessary. But we do want to reiterate that, even though the website is changing, this does not mean that our mission or focus is wavering. We will still maintain the same core elements that we have always had, and we will continue to promote only American handmade artists.

The new handmade website redesign is currently in beta and is being tested by a select group of aftcra artists. So stay tuned for some exciting updates and the new site launch this summer!

If you have any questions or concerns about this change, feel free to email us at anytime at


Cheers to a great summer,


President and Co-Founder, aftcra

A Gift For Him on Fathers Day: Personalized Cufflinks

Is he a fan of packing up his duffle bag and heading out on an adventure? Is he passionate about a certain location – maybe a lake home, a conquered mountain, or a place of nostalgia? Does he like to add a bit of his own flair to his more dressy outfits? Then we think these unique, personalized cufflinks might be a perfect gift for him this Father’s Day.

Let’s say the latitude and longitude stamp aren’t quite up your alley. Make these personalized cufflinks special to him. The American artist behind this piece – Tiny Tokens Designs – can hand-stamp a classic monogram, name or phrase that he’ll better relate to. Or, include a private note, motivational quote or song lyric. This will help to make your pair of personalized cufflinks as personal and special as possible. Guaranteed to be a gift for him that’ll wow!

A Gift For Him on Fathers Day: Personalized Cufflinks

These personalized cufflinks are the true statement piece. They are made of solid bronze and hand-stamped with the latitude and longitude of your choice. You can also choose to have a brushed (like the version in these photos) or a shiny finish. These are beautifully finished with rich texture, and an heirloom piece that can be handed down from one generation to the next.

A Gift For Him on Fathers Day: Personalized Cufflinks

So get your hands on these personalized cufflinks to make the celebration for him that much more special. These would be great as an anniversary gift, wedding gift, something for the groomsmen, or a birthday. We promise that he’ll adore them!

Product Details:

Longitude and Latitude Bronze Personalized Cufflinks

$66.00 ($9.00 USD for shipping)

Handmade in San Francisco, CA

Order here:

*Email the seller with any custom details at



10 Easy Fourth of July Decorating Ideas

10 Easy Fourth of July Decorating Ideas

It’s getting to be that time of year where the sound of fireworks is common, the smell of charcoal wafts through the air, and red, white and blue drape the stoops of houses, apartments, and business across the country. It’s about to be the Fourth of July, the quintessential American holiday about family, appreciating our pretty awesome country, and getting as patriotic as we possibly can get.

Most of us would love to spend hours coming up with creative ways to show off our American pride, but we’d rather spend time enjoying the summer (heck, after this winter we deserve this!)

To make your pad stand out this Fourth of July, we have compiled some of our favorite decorating ideas with a mix of both DIY ideas and products you can purchase. If you have a cool idea, be sure to share in the comments.

For more Fourth of July ideas, visit aftcra’s pinterest board.

1. Solar Hanging Rustic Mason Jar in Blue (Set of 2) by aftcra’s Southern Home Supply.

Solar Hanging Rustic Mason Jar in Blue (Set of 2)











2. Fourth of July Mantel by Remodelaholic.

Fourth of July Mantel












3. Vertical Rustic American Flag by aftcra’s A Life More Palletable.

Vertical Rustic American Flag












4. American Flag Candle Holder by Julie Blanner.

American Flag Candle Holder












5. The Ultimate BBQ Cleaning Tool – Woody Paddle by aftcra’s Great Scrape.

The Ultimate BBQ Cleaner - Woody Paddle












6. Simple Fourth of July Door Decor by Micha Muses.

Simple Fourth of July Door Decor












7. Rustic American Flag Print in Barnwood Frame by aftcra’s Reclaimed Wood, Shelves and Photo Frames.

Rustic American Flag Print in Barnwood Frame












8. Apothecary Jar Holiday Decor by Makoodle.

Apothecary Jar Holiday Decor












9. American Flag Case – Commemorative by Specialty Wood Designs.

American Flag Holder - Commemorative










10. Mini-American Flag Wreath by Partyfetti Blog.

Mini-American Flag Wreath













11. BONUS – Red, White, and Blue Star Bracelet by Trinkets by Teri.

Red White and Blue Star Bracelet














How to Attract Loyal Customers to Your Store, from an aftcra Seller


How to Attract Loyal Customers with Events











aftcra seller Rachael B. Winkley of Salvaged Studio & Gallery was recently featured on Storefront (an organization dedicated to helping small and large businesses find retail space). Rachael shared some of her tips and tricks on how to attract loyal customers to her brick and mortar retail space.

aftcra seller Salvaged Studio and Gallery










Rachael opened Salvaged Studio & Gallery in Milwaukee, WI over a year ago. After a successful year, she was asked to share best practices with Storefront on how she has been able to attract loyal customers, and maintain them, by thinking outside of the box and hosting local events.

Some of the tactics that Rachael used were:

1. Strategically Planning her Grand Opening: Rachael planned the grand opening of Salvaged Studio to coincide with another local event taking place in her artsy neighborhood. By doing so, Rachael was guaranteed that foot traffic would pass by her shop. This also showed her commitment to the community/neighborhood. This tactic helped her to attract loyal customers that she may not have had exposure to previously.

2. Hosting Local Community Events: Another method Rachael has used to attract loyal customers is by hosting local community events. She hosted a Featured Artist Show, which promoted some local artists and their up-cycled and/or repurposed work (a niche Rachael carved out for herself). These events helped Rachael form solid relationships with her customers, be introduced to prospects, and even further cement her commitment to the artistic neighborhood.

3. Consistent Communication: Rachael started to immediately gather email addresses and contact information from individuals frequenting her shop. With these lists she could start a regular newsletter to share upcoming events, featured items, or updates on Salvaged Studio. This is a way to maintain her current customers.

Check out Rachael’s featured story in Storefront’s blog post: How Hosting In-Store Events Attracts Loyal Customers.



And a huge pat on the back to Rachael for being an awesome local artist!

Gifts for Her Under $30: Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Gifts for her under $30: Mother's Day Gift Ideas Under 30 Dollars




















For Christmas 2015 Gift Guides, visit this recent gift guide page: Christmas 2015 Gift Guides for Everyone – All Handcrafted, All Made in America.







Whether you’re searching for a gift for Mother’s Day – the time to celebrate how awesome your mom is – or just need to get a gift for her for an upcoming event, and you’re on a budget, we’re here to help! We put together a unique collection of 10 gifts for her under $30, including some pretty awesome Mother’s Day gifts.

All of these gifts for her have been handmade by American artists. That means gifts that were handmade from the heart, show a lot of love, and will be completely different from what you’d find in a store. Some of these gifts can also be personalized to make them even more special for your mom.

1. Hello Stationery Cards – Set of 10 from aftcra’s Katie Vaz Designs, $25.00.
2. Grey and White Makeup Bag with Asterisk Design from aftcra’s Carissa Black Handbags, $25.00.
3. Handmade and All Natural Grapefruit Soap – Set of 2 from aftcra’s Lumbini’s Natural Soaps, $10.00.
4. Vintage Bicycle Stationery Cards – Set of 12 from aftcra’s Nicole Marie Paperie, $15.00.
5. Designer Latex-Free Dish Gloves from aftcra’s Gloves by Katherine, $20.00.
6. Laundry Definition Vinyl from aftcra’s Sign Here Vinyl, $25.00.
7. You Are My Sunshine” Wall Art with Music Lyrics from Stoic Design, $15.00.
8. Boston Terrier Grey T-Shirt from Little Lee Studios, $24.00.
9. State Roots Tee from Seven Miles Per Second, $23.00.
10. LOVE Vintage Apron from aftcra’s Wilde Things, $28.00.

For more gifts for her under $30, Mother’s Day gift ideas, or cool packaging/DIY projects, visit our Mother’s Day Pinterest board.

10 Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

10 Mother's Day Gift Ideas




















For Christmas 2015 Gift Guides, visit this recent gift guide page: Christmas 2015 Gift Guides for Everyone – All Handcrafted, All Made in America.






Sometimes the best kind of gifts come in small packages, and when it comes to your mom (or the mom in your life) you want to make sure you get a thoughtful Mother’s Day gift that really touches her heart. We picked some of our favorite jewelry finds for your mom that span from incredibly gorgeous to especially unique and personalized.

1. Hand-stamped Silver Personalized Necklace from aftcra’s Tiny Token Designs, $31.00.
2. Sterling Silver Hand-stamped Square Personalized Necklace from aftcra’s Mama Mia Hand Stamped Jewelry, $59.00.
3. “I Love You to the Moon and Back” Hand-stamped Silver Necklace from aftcra’s Tiny Token Designs, $50.00.
4. Silver Pendantbased on your child’s artwork from aftcra’s Formia Design, $129.00.
5. “Never Give Up” Sterling Silver Bangle from aftcra’s Ruxi Tirisi, $39.00.
6. Hammered Horseshoe Necklace – gold or silver from aftcra’s Olive Yew!, $55.00.
7. “God Gave Me You” Hand-stamped Personalized Gold and Silver Necklace from aftcra’s Mama Mia Hand Stamped Jewelry, $68.00.
8. Red Tea Pot Up-cycled Tin Earrings from aftcra’s Salvaged Studio, $35.00.
9. Set of 3 Rose Gold Bangles from aftcra’s Ruxi Tirisi, $102.00.
10. Mint Green Bee Bracelet from aftcra’s Manic Trout, $85.00.

For more Mother’s Day gift ideas, including cool packaging or DIY projects, visit our Mother’s Day Pinterest board.

aftcra Artist Meet and Greet: Cufflinks + Cowboy Boots


Cufflinks and Cowboy Boots Interview

















We are Cufflinks + Cowboy Boots, and we create Laser Cut Cufflinks (as you might expect!), as well as Laser Cut Wall Clocks since 2011. We are located in San Francisco, CA.

I do almost all my work on my computer; most of our work is really design work, if you think about it.  I do all my design work in Illustrator, and then hand it off to my fabrication partner, who’se machine interprets my lines to tell the system whether to cut or engrave the wood or acrylic pieces!

It’s actually REALLY cool for someone “born digital” to see work I do on the computer screen come out (via UPS) in physical!

Cufflinks and Cowboy Boots Screen Shot

I am a technology hobbyist, who fell into this particular setup in a strange way.  I have always loved computers (which is why my undergrad is in Philosophy… of course! 🙂 ), but I love the control I have digitally as opposed to with my hands.

So when we used to do home renovation / furniture placement / remodeling, I was drafted as the designated 3D modeler using Google Sketchup.  One day, when reading forums on how to do something I didn’t know how to do, I discovered a site that would 3D print my Google Sketchup designs!  That didn’t work as I expected; but they had Laser Cutting too….and once I taught myself Adobe Illustrator, there was no turning back.

Cufflinks and Cowboys Office

Often, idea’s come to me while doing other things.  Like the original idea for cufflinks (which started with leather, then bamboo, before I settled on the walnut I do most of my work out of).  Other ideas are responses to requests.  The very first state I ever made was in response to a custom request for a guy who wanted matching Ohio cufflinks for his wedding.  That lead to selling more states; then a Sale on, and more!

Eames Herman Miller Chair

Eames Herman Miller Chair

I love mid-century modern architecture and furniture.  Frey, Herman Miller (the Eames Chair is one of my favorites), and Jacobsen (love the Egg Chair).  These folks were able to create complex structures, with clean and simple lines that make a user feel good.  I love that.

Cufflinks + Cowboy Boots provides some some small business advice:

Do what you love with Cufflinks and Cowboy Boots
















Do what you love!  I always really enjoy my work, and rarely, if ever, do I lament having to do something related to Cufflinks + Cowboy Boots.  That’s a really nice gift.

Check out their work at Cufflinks + Cowboy Boots.

10 Unique State-Themed Gifts Under $100

10 State Themed Gifts Under $100



























Ever feel like you really want to wow someone with a gift specific to your state? Are you passionate about the state you live in (which we’re sure is amazing)? Here is our favorite collection of truly unique and one-of-a-kind gifts that are focused on where you live. Of course, all of these gifts are handmade and made in America.

Please note: several of these items are customizable, so you are able to make them specific to your state or home. These are noted below.

1. Massachusetts Felt Magnets. $12.00.
2. Indiana Home Tee. $26.00.
3. Michigan State Tee. $19.95.
4. Latitude / Longitude Cufflinks, available for customization. $66.00.
5. 3D Lake Art Clock, available for customization. $89.00.
6. Wisconsin Beer, Cheese and Good Company Tee. Pick your color. $16.00.
7. Roots Tee. Pick your state and color. $23.00.
8. State Cufflinks in Walnut. Pick your state. $39.00.
9. Milwaukee Onesie. $18.00.
10. Represent Wisconsin Hoodie. $35.00.

We are thankful for …

It’s hard to believe that 2013 has closed and we are already a few days into the new year. 2013 was such a thrilling year for us – we went into beta, got some awesome feedback from our talented artisans, and eventually formally launched the site. We met incredible makers who changed us, literally and figuratively. We connected with some of the coolest bloggers out there who helped give us exposure. We developed some great relationships with local Milwaukee and Wisconsin businesses. And in the last quarter of 2013, we experienced the biggest boom we could have ever expected with the site.

We are most thankful for the buyers and sellers who took a chance with us. Who wanted to help a small business grow, and strongly believe in the American handmade movement. Without your support we wouldn’t be who we are today. That’s the most priceless gift we could have asked for.

We have so much to be grateful for, but for us this is just the beginning. Peering into 2014 all we can guess is that our relationships will continue to grow with you and new aftcra members.

Thank you for supporting us. We truly appreciate it.


President and Co-Founder, aftcra

aftcra’s handmade guidelines

aftcra's Handmade Guidelines



Due to policy changes at other handmade marketplaces, we want to clarify what qualifies as handmade on aftcra as we journey into 2014 with aftcra’s Handmade Guidelines.

First and foremost, aftcra only promotes handmade goods made in America. All of the products on aftcra are made by hand in the USA.

aftcra knows that artwork comes in a multitude of forms. We understand that it is crafted in a variety of ways. We appreciate the creativity that comes from our sellers and the methods that they use to create something spectacular.

What is hard to do is to put very specific boundaries around what is and isn’t considered handmade. So, instead of providing you with a list of what constitutes as handmade and what doesn’t, we want to share what we believe is a general rule for something being considered “handmade”.

aftcra’s general rule is that the product should be made – or enhanced – by you. When shoppers come to aftcra, they are looking for items that are handmade in America. We want to keep this as pure as we possibly can. Products that do not fit within this concept (products that are manufactured, reselling of another seller’s products, etc.) will be removed from the site. Sellers that offer products that are handmade, upcycled, reclaimed, screenprinted, embellished, etc. are warmly welcomed to join our aftcra family.

aftcra does not allow the reselling of items where the seller did not have any input into the concept or development of the product. The aftcra team will do our best to patrol the site for non-handmade items, but as we continue to grow we will rely on the community to help us keep the site American handmade only. If you spot something that doesn’t seem to fit, please send an email to with the shop URL and name. The aftcra team will decide how to move forward with the request.

Our goal at aftcra is to be inclusive. We know that some of our artists own every step of the production process. They start their work with a piece of raw material and turn it into something unbelievable, like a potter. We also know that this isn’t feasible for all of our sellers. Everyone has different ways to be creative and the last thing we want to do is place limitations on this process.

We believe that this is an inclusive way to allow our artisans to express their creativity without restrictions. We ask that you use your best judgment and, if we feel that the product doesn’t fit within our requirements, we will let you know.

If you have any questions about aftcra’s requirements, would like to make sure that your products qualify as “handmade”, or have a concern please send us an email at

the aftcra team