Posts Tagged ‘handmade’

Joe Hurry Creations’ Interesting Conversations

May 26, 2010

Hello you lovely readers. Today I start another new feature in which I interview interesting people about the interesting or awesome things they do(at least that’s the premise).

Today I’d like to introduce you to Lesley Karpiuk of ‘GEEKSOAP’.GEEKSOAP maker

GEEKSOAP is a new venture that makes some of the coolest soap I ever did see. If you aren’t particularly geeky the greatness of these soaps might go over your head a bit, it’s true. But hopefully you’ll find Lesley inspiring and interesting. She makes each bar of GEEKSOAP herself, by hand, in her kitchen and in a few short months she’s made quite a success of it so far. I recently interviewed her and we had an interesting conversation and this is what you’ll find below. Enjoy!twitter facebook gifts

What led you to start doing your craft?
I’ve been crafty as long as I can remember. I dabbled in soapmaking back in college around 2001 but nothing geeky. In May 2009 I made my first Batman soap. I had been knitting a friend a Batman washcloth for a birthday gift, but when it was finished it didn’t seem like enough. I wanted to make something to go with the washcloth, and soap seemed to be the perfect complement. I pulled out my soapmaking supplies from my craft box (I save everything) and set to work to design some Batman soap. It was a hit, and I sold a few bars around Christmas in 2009. At the time I was doing mostly knit and crochet, but in early 2010 while crocheting a Cthulhu hat, I was inspired to try some Cthulhu soap. The rest is history! I started making so much geeky soap in late February/early March that I decided to separate my geeky soap from my knit and crochet Etsy and officially created GEEKSOAP.

batman geeksoap

How long has it been now?

Though I flirted with soapmaking briefly in college, my first geeky soap wasn’t made until May 2009. I didn’t start focusing on my geeky soap as its own separate business until 3 months ago, though. I have been making things for as long as I can remember.

What’s your workspace like?
I’ve taken over my kitchen. And the living room. And just about everywhere else I can store soap supplies. I have a dedicated counter for soaping with a wide ledge above it for drying and drawers for some supplies. Thankfully the kitchen leads out into the living room, where I have three large, long tables together for my staging area and where I set up orders to be shipped. I’ve got lots of those large tupperware type drawer units out there to keep things organized, too. My computer and printer are in between the kitchen and living room, which is convenient because I’m usually simultaneously replying to customers or printing labels in between making and moving loads of soap.NES cartridge geeksoap

What’s the most challenging art-related thing you’ve done so far in your life?

I’ve always picked up various crafts quickly. All but crochet. Most people learn crochet first and knitting later because crochet is supposed to be the easier of the two. I learned knitting first and then tried to teach myself crochet from watching online tutorials. I tried to teach myself and gave up at least two times before I finally figured it out. It was SO difficult for me to grasp at first, but now that I’ve been doing it for a couple years it’s become second nature. To this day, though, I still feel that crochet is more difficult than knitting. Maybe it’s because when crocheting there are thousands of potential stitches to stick your hook into so it’s easier to work into the wrong stitch… but with knitting, all of your stitches are one after the other on the needle, so you always know exactly where to insert the needle to complete the next stitch. Now I’m rambling.

What’s the most exciting art-related thing that’s ever happened to you?

I’ve made a lot of things over the years that has received positive feedback, and recently I was featured in many places on the Internet, complete with a couple RL magazine photo shoots done of my soap, but nothing tops the reaction to a gift that I made and gave to my brother and sister-in-law. This past Christmas I did a large, somewhat abstract painting of my brand new nephew to give to them. When they opened the giant painting on Christmas morning, it moved my brother to tears, though he tried hard to hold them back. They still talk about that painting being the most important thing that they own, and to me, that is the best, most exciting feeling about something I created with my own two hands ever.

Is there anyone (artists or otherwise) that inspire you especially?

I am inspired by the small, indie handmade crowd; I find handmade and local to be so important, and thanks to the Internet I am able to connect with small independent crafters more easily. I am inspired by their hard work and their true dedication to the quality of their craft vs. mass production.

If you were an animal, what animal what you be and why?
I’d be a moose. I don’t know why, but I love moose. I lived in Canada for three years and wanted to see one in person SO BADLY. It figures that after living out west in Calgary all that time it would take an anniversary vacation to Nova Scotia on the east coast before I saw my first one. One month before we moved back to the states. At least I can say I saw one before we left the country. I heart moose.

When you’re not making your pieces, what do you get up to?
When I’m not making soap, I’m probably knitting/crocheting something or gaming. I love playing video games! Anything on a Nintendo console or MMORPGs on my PC… I play them all. I also like to rollerblade when the weather cooperates.

Would you recommend us some blogs worth checking out?
Yes! There are so many good blogs out there, but some of my favorites include How Science Fiction Failed Us on GeekShui (all good stuff there)
SciFabulous by Emily Pritchard
and for the knitting geeks, I adore Knit Purl Gurl’s blog at
Finally, what’s your favourite sight, sound, smell and feeling?
My favorite sight is of my husband and our two dogs snuggling. Sometimes I’ll look over and they’re all cuddled together in a big pile saving a spot for “mama” on the couch and I can’t resist their faces. I swear those three can NEVER get in trouble when they give me their puppy dog faces.
My favorite sound is the crashing of the Atlantic ocean against the rocky shores of Nova Scotia, Canada. I dream about it.
This is going to make me seem totally crazy (If you didn’t already think I was), but I love the smell of my husband’s deodorant – Old Spice. He doesn’t wear cologne, so this is the smell that I have associated with him, and it’s the most comforting smell in the whole world.

While we’re referencing my craziness, I’ll also admit that I love squishing soft yarn before I start a new fiber project. I have a hard time keeping myself from petting yarn; how it feels is the most important part of my decision to use it.


And that’s all for today kids. Hope you enjoyed getting to know Lesley as much as I did. I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of her and her soap as the business continues to grow.

See you all again soon,

Thanks for coming,



Handmade Totoro Figures (don’t sue me)

November 2, 2009

Hey everyone,

On October 15th it was my big sister’s birthday, and while I want to give her something she’d love – I’m not buying stuff made in china.

Really nowadays I try my best to make every present I need to give and if I really can’t think of anything fitting that I could actually pull off then I buy something handmade from someone on Folksy.

But this time I had a good idea of what to make.

She is a huge fan of anime (japanese animation) and one of the things that she and I both absolutely love are the Studio Ghibli series of films. A few weeks ago we were in St.Ives, Cornwall visiting my mum (who does brilliant tours of the town) and there was a shop full of all kinds of awesome Japanese stuff. In particular there was all sorts of products based on my absolute favourite (and I think my sister’s favourite) Ghibli movie: My Neighbour Totoro.

I thought at the time that some of them would be great presents for my sister but the problem was that they were all cheaply made in china. So I’d noted it in my head and while I was wondering what to make her months later, like a leaf floating down onto the forest floor of my mind – I remembered that note. I could make little Totoro figures out of salt dough!

So first thing’s first: I needed to make salt dough.

Done and done

Done and done

Salt dough is really easy to make. It’s just white flour, cooking salt and water. I’ve got the ‘recipe’ somewhere, but not to hand so just message me or do a quick google search and you’ll find one. It seemed to go very well, but was very loose when it got warm and it was seeming like I’d never be able to make these figures. I just couldn’t get the right shapes, and even when I did they’d droop down and end up all wrong within a minute (I got very upset). So I went back to the kitchen and kneeded in more flour (I did this 4 times over two days) and eventually I had good, firm, non-drooping salt dough. So really, I wouldn’t bother contacting me for the recipe. Find your own. =)

So then I just searched on google images for some pictures of totoro and his friends. My plan was to make Tororo himself, the little blue forest spirit and the even smaller white forest spirit. So I set about with my recently firmed-up dough to make their bodies.

They all started basically like this.

They all started off looking something like this.

I then began getting them painted, which at first seemed very easy but little did I know just how scary and difficult it was going to get. The only difficulty at this stage was getting the colour of Totoro’s fur right. But with a bit of experimenting, I managed to get it looking pretty good.


They don't look great just yet, but they're getting closer.

So as my sister’s birthday edged ever closer, I got onto the hardest part of all – the details. The faces and markings on their bellies had to be reproduced accurately otherwise they’d just look wrong. I took a few evenings of trying, letting it dry, painting over it, letting that dry and then trying again. Thank god I started when I did! It was taking a long time to get these finished to a standard I was happy with. Thankfully though, with a lot of effort and studying of images from the movie and images of the figures you can buy online – eventually I had succeeded:

totoro figures finished

The damn things are so shiny the photo isn't great, but you can see I succeeded. What's difficult to see is Totoro's slight smile.


Here's Totoro on his own. (still being all shiny...grr.)

blue totoro figure

This was the best photo of him I've got. But isn't he cool?

tiny totoro figure

I touched up his eyes in this photo a bit as they were barely visible from the shiny-ness. Isn't he cute?

Thanks to Dan Jackson (who is a genius) for taking photos of them for me (as while rushing I somehow forgot to take my own photos of the finished creations.) Also thanks to Studio Ghibli for conceiving such a wonderful film with such great characters. Everyone go and see this film! (and all the others!)

So there you go. I hope you enjoyed getting to see the process, I enjoyed sharing it. (any chance to share the wonderfulness that is Totoro really!)

Thanks for reading, see you again soon I hope,

Happy Vibes,



Jenny’s Amazing Gifts – Part 1

October 29, 2009

Hello there people,

Today I start a series of blog posts entitled ‘Jenny’s Amazing Gifts’ in which I will share with you a different amazing gift that Jenny, my wife and the illustrious creator of beautiful things over at Junky Chicken, has made me over the last 5 and a half years.

There’s 8 or 9 to show you so lets get started!

Now, as Jenny has just pointed out, I actually sort of started this series a few weeks ago with this post. So the second thing I’m going to show you is the amazing wallet she made me a few years back.

My wallet had started falling to pieces after years of being sat on, and I understandably needed a new one, but all I could find in shops were stupid designer wallets, wallets that wouldn’t have things in the right places (or would be lacking essential compartments), or would just be plain crazy.

A shoe wallet?!

So without my knowledge Jenny took my current wallet (while I was asleep or passed out I guess) and carefully studied it’s layout. Then while I was at work (I assume), she would be working away at it in anticipation to whatever celebration it happened to be for (which at this point I really can’t remember).  Anyway, it all turned out very well, as it was a beautiful, perfectly designed wallet.


It was obviously a lot less sat-on when she first gave it to me. =P

Beautiful handmade wallet opened up

Look at all the well placed compartments! So practical.

It’s mind-boggling that this is all handmade, and also that I’m still using this wallet now and it must be at least 3 years (perhaps even 4!) since I started sitting on it daily. The outside is made from various colours and textures of fabric overlapping each other to make a lovely stripy design. The inside has a velcro sealing change section, 3 card sections (that can fit a good 4-5 cards each) and a section for what I can only assume rich people use for wadges of that fancy paper money they use.

He's so rich, he doesn't even want anyone to know!

Anyway, it was an amazing gift and must have taken so much thought, time and effort! So I’m thinking you should all now go and buy something from Jenny’s shop, now you’ve been enlightened to her brilliance…

Or perhaps you need more convincing? In which case, stay tuned for part 2! (or 3)

Speak to you all soon,

Lovely seeing you,


Jenny gave me present!

July 25, 2009

Hello you people who read my blog!

I have good news and I may have given it away in the title to be honest. Jenny gave me an awesome present for our 5 year and one month anniversary and I want to show you all what it was.

Check these out!

Aren't they amazing?!

Aren't they amazing?!

It was all so cute!

It was all so cute!

There was all sorts of other beautiful bits with them too.

There was all sorts of other beautiful bits with them too.

They are made by ‘Asking For Trouble’ a.k.a. Marceline Smith who is clearly some sort of genius. They were one of the first things I’d seen on Folksy that I absolutely loved and I showed Jenny immediately. It’s been ages since then and I’d totally forgotten about them mostly.

Then the other day I came downstairs and there was a padded envelope on the mat addressed to Jenny Hurry. This almost never happens (as I’m the one always buying stuff) so I was a bit confused. So it was lovely to find out that it was in fact a prezzie for me. =)

So everyone go and check out the amazingness of Asking For Trouble who’s shop and blog is full of the cutest handmade wonderfulness on the internet! And also Jenny’s blog and shop as she is also fantastic for so many reasons. =)

Anyway, more blogging soon.
Love to you all!


I’ve been featured on a blog!

May 23, 2009

Hey there you (whoever you are)!,

I’ve been featured on the Handm@de Winchester blog! It’s basically cos’ I’m going to have  a stall at their fair, but I think it’s pretty cool anyway.

Check it out here.

Good day to you!