Athena Magazine

Fashion, lifestyle, passions takes a bow, sort of June 4, 2009

craftstylishI was the launch editor of, back when I was chief editor of Threads, and the team that was brought together at that time were some of the hottest crafters around the country. Although I left shortly after launch (due to an insane 4-hour daily commute), this team carried on and they were nothing short of brilliant in their hard work and consistent delivery of great projects and crafting tips. Now, sadly, the economy has dimmed this bright light in the crafting industry, and last week all of the contributing bloggers were taken off the payroll. The site will continue with user-generated content, but I just want to give a moment of glory and recognition to the team that took crafting prime-time online. They’ll be much missed. Each of the contributors gives a graceful adieu on the blog this week that will bring a tear to any ardent crafter’s eye. Learn more about changes at here.


Folk Artist Wendy Presseisen April 26, 2009

dogirlsmFolk Artist Wendy Presseisen has a delightful style and sensibility that extends through her many works. From animals (cats and dogs included) to children to children with animals to landscapes, her prints have a quality of another era while still smacking of today. I met Wendy on Twitter, and she’s one of the most delightful Tweeters around. Visit Wendy’s site here.


Totally Handmade: New By Hand Website March 2, 2009

The following is excerpted from one of my favorite websites, Wickedly Chic, which effortlessly combines shopping and indie, handmade culture—a perfect blend, in my opinion. (Their tagline, “Independent Shopping for the Wickedly Fashionable” says it all, doesn’t it?)

By Liz Nonnemacher, Editor-in-Chief, Wickedly Chic

byhandI’d like to introduce a unique new website to Wickedly Chic readers. ByHand is the creation of husband & wife team, Adam & Rebecca. I’m just starting to play around with it and there are so many cool features for both sellers & shoppers. Let’s talk to Rebecca and find out more about ByHand.

What is ByHand?

It’s a social community for handmade artists AND handmade buyers created with the purpose of putting the personal back into handmade. It is NOT venue specific. We have an artisan directory where anyone who creates handmade can list themselves for free and it allows them to list all the venues they sell on whether it’s Etsy, Artfire, Silkfair, Dawanda, their own website or anywhere else that they sell their items. My husband feels very lucky to have a stable job in this economy when so many don’t…so this is how he felt he could give back. We are paying for everything for the site out of our pockets including the new server and back up external drive we just purchased.

What are some of the features that ByHand can offer both buyers & sellers?

Our big key feature right now is what we call Spotlights. Basically they
are like Etsy’s treasuries … but you can add products from any selling venue we have listed (Made it Myself, Zibbet, SilkFair, 1000 Markets, Dawanda, ArtFire, Etsy & ShopHandmade). A user creates a Spotlight using any 9 items from these venues. The Spotlights are archived forever and never disappear unless the user deletes them. You can click on every product in the Spotlights section and it takes you straight to that product’s page..wherever it may be. Now what’s even better is that Spotlights show up not only on the ByHand site, but you can use a code we provide to post them to your blog or social community as well. There are javascript and flash versions depending on what works on the external site and different sizes and layouts offered as well!

Do you have other features to offer buyers & sellers?

Yes, we do. We have a Community Blog where users who set up an account (remember…it’s free) can post and we also have a Chat feature. There’s a complete listing of Artisans that have joined us at ByHand and a Clubhouse where you can join groups or create your own. There are many opportunities for the seller to showcase their items and for buyers to find cool stuff to spend their money on!

Who are some of the sellers that you have on ByHand?

Here’s a short list of some of our fabulous sellers:

Mama’s Little Monkeys (Custom gifts for mom, baby & more).

Heather Knitz (Unique rag bags and rag bag kits. Sassy hair and jewelry accessories. Funky art and crafting supplies. DIY patterns and tutorials).

Peaches and Kream (jewelry & needle felted items).

Infinite Vision Photography (photography).

BeachyRustica Practical Art (furniture knobs & hooks).

LiberTEAS (tea).

Splashin (handpainted clothing).

Broken Hallelujah (crocheted accessories).

Weird Bug Lady (plush bugs, spiders, reptiles, etc.)

Timothy Adam Designs (metal)

Lumina Jewelry (affordable jewelry)

Tilley Jewels (fairytale jewels for the everyday princess).

BookWormz (stylish bookmarks).

Be sure to take a look at ByHand today & find more great artists….and if you have a shop yourself, why not join & promote your products?


John T. Unger Studios: Exceptionally created recycled firepits February 12, 2009

Submitted by Marjorie Cunningham: Designer of Marjorie’s Cracked Plate Jewelry and Manager of the Reclaimed to Fame Market

Is there a more wonderful way to spend an evening with friends and loved ones than gathered together outside around a warm entrancingly beautiful firepit?  John T. Unger of Mancelona, Mich., is an artist who creates one-of-a-kind firepits that are works of art.  The flames are drawn free hand so no two firepits are exactly alike.  Each piece is signed by the artist.  And best of all, John hand cuts each firepit from 100% recycled steel.  John talks about his strong belief in recycling and about himself and his art:

“I’m best known as an artist and designer, but relaxing makes me tense, so I tend to put in a lot of hours on diverse projects.   I’ve been making art professionally since about 1995, and have made a full-time living as an artist since 2000.   On the way to a successful art career I’ve been a poet and writer, a tech geek, a print and web designer, illustrator, industrial designer, musician, teacher, actor, set designer and even a paid guru once.   I like to joke that I’m the world’s most well-educated self-taught artist— I’ve learned pretty much everything I know by doing it.  It’s all the same thing in the end—I wake up most days thinking about how I want to change, fix or improve some aspect of the world.  And after a couple cups of coffee I get started on it.  The best way to get a real sense of who I am and what I’ve done is probably to check out my blog or portfolio at  Feel free to email me or call my mobile between 9-5 pacific time at 231.584.2710.  I’m friendly.

Art has been good to me, and I feel very lucky to have been able to pursue what interests me on my own terms.  As an artist, I am also a small business owner who supports a family, pays taxes, and supports other local businesses through the sale of my firepits.  I have a part-time assistant who depends on the income I provide him to make his house payment.   I buy the materials for my firebowls at the scrapyard, paying a premium to have them cut and delivered (I’ve spent over $10,000 at the scrapyard this year alone).  I am one of the larger customers for my local freight company and am pleased to be able to pass along my 75% savings to you.  There are not a lot of successful businesses or job opportunities in the area of Michigan where I live, and the income I make from my art and spend in the community is important to the people I support.  The fact that I am able to sell my work globally and bring money into the Michigan economy (one of the worst in the nation) is something that I am very proud of and I feel pretty good about the fact that I can help people pay their bills while larger corporate companies are laying people off left and right.

About the Art: I believe that surprise and beauty are a good start, but I expect more and so should you.  As an artist and designer, I am intensely committed to sustainable design practices and materials in the following ways: I work primarily with recycled or re-used materials.  This is the best way I know to minimize my impact on natural resources, climate and the environment.   In addition, I feel that creative re-use has the potential to spark new ways of looking at the world… if one thing can be turned into another, what else can we change?  Successful recycled art and design encourages creativity in others— it’s alchemical, magical, subversive, and transformative by nature.  I feel that only be a good thing.

I design for permanence. Most of my objects will last generations with little or no maintenance.  I try to create objects that will never go out of style by drawing from primal metaphor and classical elements of design that speak to what it means to be human and alive.  When I can, I like to throw some surprise or humor in the mix too.

I design for functionality.  My work is intended to be useful as well as beautiful. I enjoy the engineering aspect of art as much as the creative part, and it’s very important to me to make things which work better or more easily than mass produced items. When possible, I design for easy disassembly for shipping or later re-use of materials.

My creative mandate is “sustainable design with an edge.”  Just because we’re good doesn’t mean we have to be boring, right?  I think there’s a place for rock n’ roll to dance with environmental responsibility in a house shakin’ way.  If green products are to compete in the market, they need to be sexy, sleek and chic—cooler than new.”

Visit John T. Unger Studios at


The Little Black Box February 10, 2009

pinkbox3From time to time, Athena tries to be a  little sartorial, but we’re generalists here and are into all sorts of trouble. Besides, there are so many more out there who do it so much better. And the Little Black Box blog is one of my favorite discoveries. Basically, it reviews all sorts of great indie designers and handmade items, along with a smattering of great blog commentary. Worth a visit: Little Black Box.


Best Picture: Burn After Reading January 14, 2009

burn_Now that Oscar season is upon us, I have to cast my vote for Best Picture. Basically, the Coen Brothers are just about the only people who could drag me into a movie theater. But when you throw in Frances McDormand and a movie shot in my neighborhood, that just takes the cake. For weeks we endured lousy parking while Brad and George and John cavorted in Brooklyn. Even that suffering didn’t dim my ardor. The brilliant Burn After Reading has won my nomination, although I doubt it’s even a contender. Each actor is just tremendous. I caught it on a hotel room movie system, and it’s opening in the Czech Republic next week. So if you happen to be in Prague ….  Get the facts on Burn After Reading here.

P.S. I stood next to Frances last fall at a Riverside Park stoplight while she ran in place, and I didn’t even bug her—mighty big of me since I think that she’s just about the best actor ever and also a friend of a friend. Of course, my walking buddy couldn’t resist blurting, “Hey, that’s Frances McDormand!” Argh!


PR for Indies January 3, 2009

Who knows exactly where the crossover point from indie to mainstream occurs. Certainly indie has become more mainstream in recent years. And here’s proof: A west coast public relations and consulting agency that serves as a launchpad of emerging & indie talents, ModAgency is an idea whose time has come. Since the words PR and indie don’t usually appear in the same tagline, I just had to pass this resource on. For more info, go here.

Or here.


Why Allee Willis is my hero January 2, 2009

When I grow up, I want to be just like Allee. Here’s why:

(FYI, Allee has written  Earth, Wind and Fire’s September song and many other great tunes.)


Happy Indie Holiday December 19, 2008

typewriter1Finally, a cause you can get behind. I am in this group on FB and want to share beyond Facebook borders. This letter came from Rob, from the FB Independent Booksellers Group.

Dear Member:

This holiday, I am asking that you help Indies across the country by contributing just $10.00 to our cause benefactor, The American Booksellers Association (ABA). ABA provides educational resources to Indies that allow us the opportunity to serve you better. ABA is the founder of Indiebound, the movement that is making waves across across the nation and beyond by uniting and igniting the passion for buying local. If each of us would give just $10.00, imagine what could be done.

Your $10.00 could make a huge difference to so many indie shops. Please make your tax-deductable donation today.

I hope that eaach of you have a Happy, Peaceful and Indie Holiday.




This weekend: NYC’s Indie/Small Press Fair December 5, 2008

title1Get your  literary on at the 21st Annual Indie and Small Press Book Fair at the New York Center for Independent Publishing in NYC this weekend. You’ll find more than 100 indie publishers from all over the world, selling books you can’t get at the big box bookstores. This is the literary event of the season for the independently-minded bookish set, and in the true spirit of Athena, it’s all free. Learn more here and get directions here.