According to the Reader Survey, your favorite blog category, by far, is Etsy Finds.
And while a few of you think I feature too much Etsy stuff, I'm going to go with the overwhelming majority -- and my own instincts -- and continue to showcase the amazing handcrafted items available on Etsy. If Etsy's not your thing -- well, just go ahead and skip these posts.
I'm continually awestruck by the talent on display at this virtual arts and crafts fair, which features wares from some 70,000 sellers worldwide. I'm also amazed by the sheer variety of wonderful and unique items you can find there -- from art to textiles to housewares to handcrafted furniture -- often for amazingly little money.
I think it's incredible, too, that Etsy has given creative women all over the world a place to showcase their wares without requiring the cash and infrastructure necessary to rent booths at the big gift shows, to launch fancy websites, or to get their products distributed by a third party. Sure, that means there's also an awful lot of "Crafty Cathy" crapola to dig through, but the treasures are so worth digging for. (If you haven't already seen it, check out the fascinating article about Etsy and the whole handmade movement from yesterday's New York Times Magazine.)
Take these "Painted Ladies" prints from illustrator Jen Renninger. I love their moodiness and enigmatic nature, the fact that they're beautiful without being cute, and the sense of exquisite melancholy that they impart (and in my book, melancholy art is always a good thing).
Each signed and numbered print is part of a limited edition of 250, and costs just $25. And right now, Renninger is donating $1 for each one sold to Metropolitan Ministries to help families in need during the holidays.