Caught in the Web

Handmade from the Heart


by Laura Emery, Field Editor

Three handmade bows by Sweetest Bug Bows. Laura Emery photo.

If you are searching for a unique, handmade item, or if you are a craftsman looking to sell your wares, the World Wide Web is your oyster.

E-commerce has opened up an entirely new way of doing business, and the popularity of artisan marketplace websites has skyrocketed in recent years. Following are three online shops that offer an enticing array of goods and services to both artisans and their customers.

Founded in 2008, ArtFire is a small Tucson, Arizona-based company whose handful of employees have a passion for handmade art and indie business. As an interactive handmade marketplace and craft community, its mission is to support buyers and sellers with innovative features and functions. At, you can search through millions of treasures created by passionate artisans. With 34 categories filled with everything from gingersnap cookie soap to flourite and laboradorite earrings, you’re sure to find the perfect handmade gift here.

To make a purchase from ArtFire, you do not need to create an account. Another nice feature is the “Make an Offer” option. Sellers who are open to receiving offers will include a “Make an Offer” field on the right-hand side of a product listing. Enter in your bid, and the seller will then choose to accept or deny your offer. Not all sellers use this feature, so keep your eyes open for those who do.

At Embroidery Room’s shop (, it’s the four-legged creatures in your life that are the focus. The shop features handmade and embroidered dog bandanas, pet blankets, and accessories.

At Designs by Keri’s shop (, you can find handmade and customized clutches, backpacks, duffle bags, purses, handbags, diaper bags, wristlets, and more. There is a bag design for everyone — the hunter, the animal-lover, the traveler, the shoe-lover, the designer, and more.’s mission is to empower people to change the way the global economy works. “We are bringing heart to commerce and making the world more fair, more sustainable, and more fun,” reads part of the company’s mission statement. At, you can find a wide variety of artisans offering everything from handmade bows to candles.

When you're searching for the perfect gift, Etsy also has a comprehensive search feature with a drop-down menu that lets you search for handmade, vintage or all items. The search function also allows you to search for supplies or for a specific shop or seller. Etsy also has a color selection feature. A page of colorful dots lets you locate the perfect color, and your search results will list all items in that color’s hue. Etsy is the best handmade marketplace out there. Whether you’re buying or selling handmade items, you’ll be satisfied with Etsy’s selection and easy-to-use interface. They have designed the site to be a hub of creative ideas and an exchange of beautifully handcrafted items

At Sweetest Bug Bows’ Etsy shop ( owner Louise Amato sells beautiful, unique hairbows and headbands for all occasions. From delicate vintage lace flowers to bright, bold bows — there’s a hair accessory in this shop perfect for you or your little one. Amato will even work with you to create the perfect customized bow.

Over at XauXau’s Etsy shop (, colors and crochet are words of the day. Shop owner Alise Lake creates unique crocheted necklaces and earrings that are filled with color and personality. “My first crochet doily was made together with my grandmother … every line started by her and continued by me,” she says in her profile. From crochet-covered wooden-bead long necklaces to crocheted earrings, the items in this shop are truly handmade from the heart. unites you with more than 1,800 artists around the world. Read about their lives, explore their fascinating cultures, and select from more than 8,500 unique, handcrafted works of art. You can find art, books, clothing, furniture, games, home décor, instruments or jewelry from such regions as Brazil, India, Mexico, Thailand, West Africa, Andes, and Bali & Java. These products speak to your soul, your spirit. Zosimo Laura of Ayacucho ( is one artisan featured on the site. He sells many items, but is currently featuring a precisely woven tapestry. Beautifully handmade, the tapestry features abstract toucans intertwined in an intricate pattern in color shades of turquoise and lilac. The piece is created on the handloom using soft wool, and finished with lavish fringe.

Brazilian artist J. Simoes Lopes ( is the son and grandson of great artists. He shares the beauty of the area he loves in his lucid paintings. “I love nature and enjoy perpetuating the beauty that I personally perceive in a picture, thus my predilection for realistic landscapes. The secret of my painting is in its luminosity. To create a beautiful landscape, it is necessary to find the precise tones,” he explains.


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