Purls of Wisdom

Maker Monday: Artist of Many Trades Sarah Salomonsky

Posted by Kelsey Underwood on Mon, Jul 31, 2017 @ 11:00 AM

2787 copy.jpgName: Sarah Salomonsky

Age: 20

School: Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU)

Studio: VCUarts

Bio: Sarah Salomonsky, a rising fashion design junior at Virginia Commonwealth University, is an artist of many talents--especially in needle arts and crafting! Outside of the classroom, she is working to start her own streetwise, or outdoor, accessories line consisting of knitted hats, scarves and socks.



Artistic Genes

2760 copy.jpgA daughter to an artist, a granddaughter to an artist and a great granddaughter to the renowned portrait painter David Silvette, Sarah began taking art classes as a kindergartener. Passionate about painting, Sarah continued taking courses throughout high school.

“One of my favorite pieces is a painting I did in high school,” Sarah said. “It was an abstract portrait of my friend Andy. I feel like nothing better really embodies my aesthetic like this painting, in particular, does.”

As a senior, she applied to Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) and Pratt Institute. Sarah’s initial intention was to attend VCU as a sculpture student. However, a collector of Vogue issues since the age of 13, she decided to reroute her future and study fashion design.

“I have always had a knack for fashion,” Sarah said.

Inspired by Others

Sarah finds inspiration from other designers and their creations. Her favorite sculptor and painter are Marcel Duchamp and Pablo Picasso.

“I love large colors and abstract portraiture,” she said.

When it comes to fashion, Sarah looks to designers’ Instagram accounts and fashion blogs for inspiration. She follows Anwar Carrots, Gucci, Zanita Studio and Aureta.

Always Learning

0606171202a copy-1.jpgSarah is currently constructing an entirely embroidered tank top for a summer course at VCU. After class, she faces about eight hours of homework each day.

“Pushing through the pain of those days you just really don’t want to work has, by far, been one of the hardest things I’ve done in relation to an assignment or project,” she said. “Embroidery is painstaking work that is insanely time consuming and I had definitely underestimated the intensity of such a fine, delicate craft.”

Sarah has learned how to persevere through challenges and obstacles she faces during the construction processes of her creations. As a fashion design student, she has experienced the rewards of hard work and dedication when transforming a brilliant design concept into a reality.

“I have learned from my few years of schooling that your work is a good as you make it. The harder you work and the more time you put into a project the better it becomes,” she said.

To Future Artists

Sarah advises the next generation of artists to work hard, remain dedicated, and never give up.

“The amount of work you put in determines the level of your success” she said. 

Be sure to check back every week to meet another amazing maker!

Want your children to be exercise their creativity like Sarah? You can find our summer camp programs here. For project ideas join our YouTube Channel or visit our Store.

#TheHandworkStudio #SummerCamp #HandworkandMachineSewing #FashionandMachineSewing #KidsCanSew #LearntoSew #VCUarts

Saturday Studio: Bella Weems

Posted by Kelsey Underwood on Sat, Jul 22, 2017 @ 09:00 AM

Remember Bella Weems, founder of Origami Owl at age 14, from Maker Monday? Bella describes her workspace as “happy, inspirational and colorful.

Bella Weems at a Jewerly Bar.jpg

Have you met Bella yet? Read her Maker Monday Blog here.

Be sure to check back every week to see another amazing studio!

Want your children to exercise their creativity like Bella? You can find our summer camp programs here. For project ideas join our YouTube Channel or visit our Store.

#TheHandworkStudio #SummerCamp #FashionBootCamp #NeedleArts #OrigamiOwl #LivingLocket #BellaWeems

Maker Monday: Origami Owl Founder Bella Weems

Posted by Kelsey Underwood on Mon, Jul 17, 2017 @ 11:00 AM

Founder Bella Weems.jpgName: Bella Weems

Age: 21

Company: Origami Owl

Website: https://www.origamiowl.com

Follow Origami Owl: @OrigamiOwl (Instagram, Facebook & Twitter)

Follow Bella: @bella_weems (Instagram) & @BellaWeems (Facebook)




Like most teenagers, Bella Weems asked her parents for a car as a gift on her sixteenth birthday. However, Bella is not like most teenagers.

Her parents’ response to the then 14-year-old’s request: no. Instead, Bella’s parents encouraged her to work toward her dream by earning the money for a car herself.

“From then on, I was determined to buy a car for my 16th birthday,” she said. “My parents inspired me to turn my dream into a reality and I wasn’t going to stop until that happened.”

Origin Owl

A lover of jewelry, Bella has many memories of making jewelry at bead stores with her mom at the beach. Inspired, Bella began selling personalizable lockets, or living lockets, at home sale parties and boutiques.

“Now, I didn’t create a locket, those have been around for centuries, but I realized that I wanted to help people tell their personal story within a locket, so I would buy earrings and cut off the backings to create a ‘charm’ to help tell a person’s story,” she said.

Following such great success with home selling, Bella upgraded her business to a kiosk at the local mall. While working at the kiosk, Bella encountered many customers who asked how they could purchase her jewelry in their hometown.

“That’s when (Bella and her parents) decided to move into an office and open up as an official social selling company empowering women to start their own businesses,” she said.

Today, Bella sells her lockets and other jewelry creations through her e-commerce site and Origami Owl designers.

“We have come a long way since then and now have beautifully designed ‘charms’ and many charm categories to choose from; like family, faith, sports, hobbies, food and charity cause ribbons to name a few,” she said. “We also offer other product categories like watches, inscriptions, rings, sentiments, core, plates, dangles, all sizes of living lockets, etc., which all can be customized as well. We always ask: every locket tells a story, what’s yours?”

Bella Weems at a Jewerly Bar.jpg

Inspired Owl

Throughout her Origami Owl journey, Bella’s biggest inspiration and role model has been her mom.

“She is very important to me, it’s because of her belief in me that I am who I am today,” she said. “I saw her sacrifice many times so my dreams could come true.”

Bella said Origami Owl is more than buying her Jeep, which she did purchase in time for her sixteenth birthday.

“We together wanted to take this special opportunity to bless other individuals by offering a business that could change their lives and their family’s lives forever,” she said.  “Also, providing people with a way to share their personal story in an Origami Owl Living Locket, it is magical.”

Bella also sees Origami Owl designers as role models and inspirations.

"What (the designers) do to build their businesses while taking care of their families, some working full time jobs, also volunteering and giving back within their communities, they are truly amazing and inspire me everyday,” she said. “That’s why I do what I do, to support our wonderful Designers.”


Prideful Owl

Bella takes most pride in the Origami Owl Living Locket.

“Each unique locket helps tell a person’s story and no locket story is the same because it is special to the person who has lived that journey,” she said. “Being able to help people tell their story and then give them a way to wear that story in a locket makes me feel very proud that we at Origami Owl can connect with people in a very meaningful way.”

Origami Owl Summer_Beach locket .jpg

Challenged Owl

Throughout her journey, Bella said she has faced many struggles—especially in the beginning.

“When we started the company, (we) had to create a waitlist because we never dreamed this company would take off the way it did,” she said. “Our first priority was, and still is, always finding a way to support our designers so they have great success.”

Bella said she learned the importance of positivity, surrounding herself with people who support her dream and working as a team for the greater good through her experiences.

“ I have had many wonderful business ‘teachers’ within the Origami Owl family,” she said.

Everyday Owl

A strong believer in her products, Bella completes her look with Origami Owl every day.

Everyday, because of Origami Owl jewelry, I have the opportunity to create a new story in my own locket which has a special meaning about maybe how I am feeling, what new dreams I am hoping for, keeping those I love close to me and a reminder of how blessed I truly am because of my family, our designers and Origami Owl,” she said.

Opportunities for Future Owlettes

Recently, Bella started the Owlette program, which empowers kids between the ages of 11 and 17 to work alongside a parent, who works as an Origami Owl designer, to help manage, sell, and learn life skills.

Origami Owl also just introduced Origami Owl Family of Brands acquiring willa, a social selling brand that offers safer skincare formulas and a business learning opportunity similar to the Owlette Program known as willagirls.

'Willa Doss, who started the willa brand, and I have become good friends and both of us are so inspired to keep encouraging other teens to reach their dreams because if we can do it, anyone can,” Bella said. “Together, we are working to empower Origami Owl Owlettes and willagirls to go after their dreams and be a Force For Good in the world.”

To Future Owlettes

In regards to advising future jewelry designers and entrepreneurs, Bella said, “I always remind those younger than me that they are never too young or too old to reach their dreams. I also share with them to never let anyone say they can’t do something because they can if they just believe in themselves. I encourage them to surround themselves with people who will support their dream and believe in who they are and remind them what can be accomplished with hard work and perseverance!”

Be sure to check back every week to meet another amazing maker!

Want your children to be exercise their creativity like Bella? You can find our summer camp programs here. For project ideas join our YouTube Channel or visit our Store.

#TheHandworkStudio #SummerCamp #FashionBootCamp #NeedleArts #OrigamiOwl #LivingLocket #BellaWeems

Saturday Studio: Dillon Eisman

Posted by Kelsey Underwood on Sat, Jul 15, 2017 @ 09:00 AM

Remember Dillon Eisman, 17-year-old founder of Sew Swag, from Maker Monday? Dillon described his studio as “organized, vibrant and galvanizing.” Check it out below!


Have you met Dillon yet? Read his Maker Monday Blog here.

Be sure to check back every week to see another amazing studio!

Want your children to learn skills similar to Dillon? You can find our summer sewing camp programs here. For project ideas join our YouTube Channel or visit our Store.

#TheHandworkStudio #SummerCamp #HandworkandMachineSewing #FashionandMachineSewing #KidsCanSew #LearntoSew #Upcycling #SewSwag



Maker Monday: Sew Swag Founder Dillon Eisman

Posted by Kelsey Underwood on Mon, Jul 10, 2017 @ 11:00 AM

IMG_3244Name: Dillon Eisman

Age: 17

School: Malibu High School

Company: Sew Swag

Established: 2014

Website: www.sewswag.org







Dillon Eisman, rising high school senior and California resident, uses his passion for fashion design and upcycling to make a difference in his community.

Hobby to Non-Profit

In need of a hobby to keep busy over summer break a few years ago, Dillon taught himself how to sew on his mom’s machine with the help of websites, such as YouTube and WikiHow.

I have always been interested in fashion design since I was young, always reading Vogue and trying to sew dresses for Barbies,” Dillon said.  

Following the discovery of his newfound talent, Dillon toured the Los Angeles LGBT Center, which shelters homeless youth. While on the tour, he learned that the shelter needed work appropriate attire for teens attending job interviews.

“When I saw people my own age on the streets with nothing to wear, I realized I needed to take action,” he said.

Knowing many donated clothing items are outdated, Dillon devised the idea of transforming donated apparel into trendy, esteem-boosting fashions. He began his mission by transforming the clothing his mom planned to donate to the shelter into trendy, fashionable pieces.

“Ever since then, I realized that I could combine my newly found skill and passion for design with helping those in my own community,” he said. “Thus, Sew Swag was born.”


A Second Chance

Dillon gives clothing with life still left and incredible stories in their seems a second chance. The designer completes a process known as upcycling, which encompasses a combination of skills including cutting, dyeing, sewing and embellishing to align old fashions with present trends.  

“Upcycling is like recycling, except with the goal of producing a product of higher value than its initial state,” he said.

Upcycling not only increases the physical value of the garments, but also uplifts the receiver's self-value, the goal of Sew Swag.

Unique Inspiration

Dillon derives inspiration and follows design plans unique to each garment he creates.

Since I deal with clothing that has been neglected, my process of upcycling always varies depending on what needs to be fixed, changed or added,” he said. “Sometimes I see a top and immediately think, ‘some trim around the cuffs and collar would really make this fabulous,’ or ‘if only this was a different color.’”


Sometimes he becomes inspired when shopping at the fabric store.

For example, I'll see a box of appliqués and buy some of them without knowing what I'll put them on until I find something that they work with,” he said.

Dillon also finds inspiration in the work of his favorite fashion designer, Alexander McQueen.

“A lot of my out-of-the-box designing stems from my love of his extravagant looks,” he said.

Overall Transformation

Dillon's favorite upcycling transformation is a set of overalls turned mini skirt. The designer strategically cut the overalls into pieces; sewing them together to form a skirt. Then, he embellished the garment with patterned elastic straps and crystal buttons.

“I was so happy that I could take something that I literally couldn't imagine anyone wearing and made it into a fun garment,” he said.

The skirt was one of the first garments selected at his recent event in Venice, California.

“It made me feel so special when Iris, the homeless girl who received it, came up to my rack and said ‘this is so beautiful’ before she even knew all the work I put into it,” Dillon said with excitement.


Innovative Solutions

As a self-taught sewer, Dillon faces obstacles involving learning new skills and using new tools to complete projects.

“One of the first pieces I've ever done was a flannel shirt to skirt transformation that I learned from an online DIY tutorial,” he said. “I didn't have French curves to cut the skirt along or a dress form to fit it. I managed to use a soup pot to fit the skirt around and a large bowl to cut along for curves.”

Dillon's quick thinking and creativity allows him to push through design barriers resulting amazing garments, which makes Sew Swag such a unique success.


Balancing Act

As a high school student, Dillon faces the challenge of balancing designing and complete homework.

“It can be very challenging trying to balance academics with growing my organization,” he said.

He often stays awake until early hours of the morning to complete all of his responsibilities.

“It can become very stressful and tiring, but at the end of the day, I am happiest when I am continuing to create and knowing that all of my effort will make someone in need very happy,” Dillon said.

To Future Designers

In regards to advising future designers and philanthropists, Dillon said, “My advice to youth with similar aspirations and dreams as me is to go out and chase them! If you can find a way to use what you love doing to help others then run with it. You are never too young to start something and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Find your vision and go out and make it a reality, because nothing will ever stop someone with a passion and the will to work hard.”

Be sure to check back every week to meet another amazing maker!

Want your children to learn skills similar to Dillon? You can find our summer sewing camp programs here. For project ideas join our YouTube Channel or visit our Store.

#TheHandworkStudio #SummerCamp #HandworkandMachineSewing #FashionandMachineSewing #KidsCanSew #LearntoSew #Upcycling #SewSwag

Maker Monday: Little Bags.Big Impact's Anna Welsh

Posted by Kelsey Underwood on Mon, Jul 03, 2017 @ 11:00 AM


Anna portraitName: Anna Welsh

Age: 12

Company: little bags. BIG IMPACT

Achievements: 2017 Young Entrepreneur of the Year & 2017 Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) Saunders Scholarship Competition Semi-finalist  

Website: http://www.littlebagsbigimpact.com/

Bio: Anna Welsh, a sixth grader from the philadelphia area, has a passion for sewing, learning and protecting the environment. As a result, she founded little bags. Big Impact, a company that sells handcrafted clutch bags created from resourced vintage materials. Fifteen percent of each sale goes to Tree House Books, an organization dedicated to improving child literacy and education in the North Philadelphia area.

Big Discovery

At the age of six, Anna began taking handwork classes at The Handwork Studio, where she discovered her talent and love for sewing. She graduated to machine sewing classes at the age of 11.

“These eye-openers early on inspired me to incorporate handcrafts and other handmade materials into my everyday life,” she said.

Now, little bags. Big Impact allows Anna to continue and share her passion for sewing and helping others.

Little Materials

IMG_0325Anna finds the fabric for her little bags at various organizations that collect scraps from warehouse closings and local donations. 

“I have been fortunate to incorporate all of these fabric scraps into my little bags,” she said. 

Another unique touch Anna incorporates in her clutches is a zipper charm. The charms vary from tassels, to beads, to recycled earrings! 

Big Inspiration

Anna said she is always inspired to create new pieces for her collection. She often finds inspiration from her conversations with others.

“Just having a conversation with someone can change your mindset, thinking, and motivation,” she said. “Sometimes, I find myself daydreaming about how I can take an idea someone gave to me and incorporate it into my business and personal crafts.”

She also finds inspiration from reading magazines, newspapers, and books. Sometimes Anna reads a whole article; other times merely a picture strikes an idea.

Other inspirations include businesses, entrepreneurs, Instagram, and giving back to her community. Her passion for education and reading is what inspired her company’s contribution to Tree House Books.

Big Pride

Polar BearAnna is most proud of the polar bear project she knitted at the age of seven. She uses the bear as a reminded of her perseverance and hardwork.

“Yeah—the eyes may be crooked and there are endless holes, but it gives me joy and pleasure just knowing that I created that piece and it is actually holding together,” she said.

Anna is also proud of her Young Entrepreneur of the Year award from the Philadelphia Center for Advancing Entrepreneurs and the National Association of Women Business Owners - Philadelphia Chapter, which she received this month (your Handwork Studio family is proud of you too, Anna!).

Facing Big Obstacles

Anna said, she has encountered obstacles when creating pieces. Her solution: talk it out with Miss Meredith at The Handwork Studio.

“I am thankful for Miss Meredith from the Handwork Studio to help me out,” Anna said. “She’s amazing and has a creative solution for everything.”

Big Advice

As for advice to future entrepreneurs and designers, Anna said, “You have to be committed and be willing to take risks. There may be long nights and you may get frustrated. However, if you are creating something you love, it will all be worth it!”

Bags in trunk

 Be sure to check back every week to meet another amazing maker!

Want your children to learn and be inspired in the same classes that jumpstarted Anna's passion for sewing and fashion? You can find our summer camp programs here. For project ideas join our YouTube Channel or visit our Store.

#TheHandworkStudio #Narthberth #SummerCamp #HandworkandMachineSewing #FashionandMachineSewing #Knitting #KidsCanSew #littlebagsBIGIMPACT #TreeHouseBooks

Saturday Studio: Katie Hitchens

Posted by Kelsey Underwood on Sat, Jul 01, 2017 @ 09:00 AM

“I usually start off with a clean workspace, but as I work clutter will start to accumulate. I believe a little clutter is good for the creative thinking process. You never know when something might catch your eye and inspire you,” Katie said. 


Have you met Katie yet? Read her Maker Monday Blog Here.

Be sure to check back every week to see another amazing studio!

Want your children to learn and be inspired by Katie this summer, you can find her at our West Chester, PA and Newark, DE Camp. For project ideas join our You Tube Channel or visit our Store.
#IndependenceSchool #WesterChester #SummerCamp #MachineSewingCamp #CraftCamp #KidsCanSew #UD