meet the maker.

Midwest Nest Handmade has officially been in existence for over a year. Can you even believe it!? I share a tiny bit about me on both the Shop site, as well as on this blog – but thought it would be a great opportunity to share some more obscure things about who I am and why I’m here. If you make it to the end, I’ll even treat you to some “how it started” versus “how it’s going” comparisons. Let’s just say I’ve come a LONG way.

So, hey. I’m Jessica aka Jessi aka Jess aka Ducky. Ducky is a nickname I was given my freshman year of high school courtesy of my dad. It’s something reserved only for my immediate family, though! Short story is my dad said that when I walked onto the football field at halftime with the pom squad, the way I walked made me look like I was waddling like a duck. It’s now called the “Ducky Strut” and it tends to come out when I’m stressed and trying to move quickly from point A to point B.

I’m a divorced, single mama to two amazing boys: Edison “Eddie” and Emmett. While my marriage didn’t work out, I am incredibly fortunate to have a co-parent that is engaged and very collaborative. Our relationship is better now than it ever was.

I was born in Arizona, but was raised in a small town in south central Wisconsin. In my adult life, I lived in Colorado and Tennessee before landing in southeastern Wisconsin for the long haul. I prefer winter to summer and snow to rain – so I’d say Wisconsin is where I’m meant to be. Pre-babies I traveled a ton and have been fortunate to visit a laundry list of countries. I’ve been to 5 of the 7 continents (Antartica and Australia are the two missing). Despite the travel I did as a child and young adult, I’ve grown to be a homebody. I much prefer to be home with my kiddos, crocheting on the couch.

I’ve been crocheting for over 25 years! It’s my first love. I’ve picked it up and put it down through the years, but beginning about 7 or 8 years ago I got more “serious” about it and started to challenge myself to do more. I learned to knit about 5 years ago. I started making jewelry in middle school – my mom got into making crystal beaded jewelry and I enjoyed that for a period of time before I put it aside when I went to college. I found clay as a medium in November 2019 and the pandemic that came early 2020 led me to where we are today!

I’ve invested a lot of time and money into learning from amazing mentors in both the clay and fiber communities. And as such, you can see significant growth – particularly with clay. It was just recently that I feel like I may have found my niche combining texture and alcohol inks. Those pieces will be launching soon!

Now it’s time to enjoy some of my “where I started” to “how it’s going” photos. Please know that I have always been very proud of the work that I do. That said, looking back, some are a little cringey – but at the time, I was so proud. Most importantly, if you ever have a problem with the integrity of a piece, please reach out so we can work together to identify a solution!

Shop any time at Midwest Nest Handmade!

custom orders.

The holidays are coming and that means custom order requests are picking up! In an effort to stay best organized this year, I have created a waitlist form. It’s literally like 3 questions, but it will help me connect with people on a first come, first served basis and it will help me keep my head on straight!

What can you custom order? I’d say absolutely anything – but I know someone would have something insane – so instead I’ll say almost anything! Popular items have included: baby blankets, stuffies, and hats.

I would encourage you to order early. Sure, Christmas is still 3 1/2 months away – but for a maker, that’s no time at all! You can complete the form here.

caring for brass components.

Brass is an affordable way for makers to bring additional dimension to the clay medium. It’s shiny, shimmery and lightweight. But, with time, brass can tarnish – making pieces look worn and sometimes, even “cheap.” Did you know that it’s actually quite simple to brighten those components back up?

  1. Ketchup. No, you didn’t mistakenly find your way to a food blog. Ketchup is incredibly effective in clearing up tarnish on brass components. Using your fingers or a soft toothbrush, cover the piece in ketchup and wipe away. Looking for something brighter? Go for round 2. When the piece has reached the desired shine, rinse and dry.
  2. Salt, vinegar and flour. Dissolve 1 teaspoon salt in 1/2 cup vinegar and add enough flour to make a paste. Rub onto the brass and leave for ~10 minutes. Rinse and dry.
  3. Brasso. Use with caution as it can cause damage to brass-plated pieces, but used correctly, it’s incredibly effective.
  4. Keep your pieces dry. It’s recommended that you avoid water and moisture with most pieces of jewelry, but particularly with clay and brass.

Take care of your pieces and they’ll last many, many years!

pricing & shipping.

Changes are coming! Midwest Nest Handmade has grown and evolved so much in the past 9 months. I’ve learned a lot about my clients, the market I best serve, new techniques and more! Knowledge is power and with what I’ve learned, I am implementing 2 important changes to Midwest Nest Handmade.

Beginning May 15, 2021, the shipping policy will be updated. Shipping will continue to be free over $30 (pre-tax). Below that threshold, you will begin to see $5.00 for shipping. Why? Because after the craziness of the pandemic, I’m upgrading all of my shipping to include tracking. I’m hoping it will eliminate frustration and headache with all of you! (PS. Thank you to everyone that patiently worked with me to resolve any shipping issues and/or missing packages!)

BUT. THERE IS GOOD NEWS, TOO! Prices are being adjusted to best reflect my local market and costs. I’m so grateful to have clients across the United States – and the costs you previously saw on my website reflected that. As I’ve entered into more local markets, I’ve learned more about the people in the communities I live in and interact with the most. Additionally, as I’ve grown, I’ve been able to purchase in bulk, which has also had a positive impact on my cost of materials. To that end, I feel most comfortable making some adjustments so I can get more of my work onto your ears and into your homes.

Yes – that’s right – things are becoming more affordable. I am so, so, so happy about that. That probably sounds silly to a lot of you – but I genuinely started this because I love creating. I work a full-time job that I love and have no intention of making Midwest Nest Handmade a full-time gig. So – for me – revenue isn’t a driving force; the opportunity to share my love for creation is.

THANK YOU for the past 9 months. THANK YOU for joining me on the journey moving forward. I’m so grateful you’re here.

mwn mother’s day gift guide.

Mother’s Day is coming! Less than a month away! As a mama, I can tell you that my number one wish is, and will forever be: time. And if I’m lucky, my boys *might* spare me from some of their battling. Highly unlikely, though!

If you aren’t able to give or receive the gift of time this year due to the pandemic or distance, I wanted to share a handful of gifts I know I would be happy to receive, along with some I know I have been happy to give.

  1. dish clothes: hear me out. I don’t think this is a “buy your wife a vacuum” kind of scenario. Dish clothes are hands down, the number one request I receive from both my own mom and grandma. I’ve legitimately gotten sass when they haven’t been included in their holiday gifts. I let that happen once before learning my lesson – they now get a new stock of dish clothes every Christmas. Did you know MWN carries 100% cotton, hand crocheted dish clothes? They’re good, y’all.
  2. jewelry: OBVIOUSLY I have to shout out my own work! In the shop, you’ll find studs, neutrals, statements, and more. There’s something for everyone, truly. The Leopard Studs are still a client favorite. BUT if clay isn’t your jam, one of my favorite small businesses to support is Hello Adorn. They’re another Wisconsin-based small business and I adore the multiple pieces I have from them.
  3. baby bogg bag: I love these things. They’re perfect for me to haul to and from swimming lessons. They’re a bit too small for me to use for things like tball or other sports, but they really are perfect little swim bags. They easily fit swim towels, suits, swim diapers, sunscreen, a beach read, etc. There is also a nifty little pocket on the inside for smaller valuables. The best part? Even if they get sandy or dirty, they’re so easily washable! You can find them here OR you can shop my closet. I currently have 2 available. I purchased 3 baby boggs, hoping I could use them for the boys’ athletics. But, alas, they weren’t the right choice. I’m keeping one and reselling the other 2 (never used!) baby boggs and a nice discount.
  4. gift cards. But, be specific. Does your mom have a favorite coffee shop? Local restaurant for take out? Again, perhaps enjoying something like that together is what you would’ve done pre-2020, but things look a little different now. And if you aren’t in the camp of being comfortable visiting establishments to enjoy together – consider a gift card, so your mama can enjoy it ala take out.
  5. handmade cards and art. I’ll admit it, sometimes I leverage my kiddos to make grandma a Mother’s Day gift. No shame in my game. Check out my Pinterest Board for some fun ideas!

And – you know what – at the end of the day, a phone call or Facetime is often equally loved and appreciated. Happy Mother’s Day!

the collins romper + superwash wool.

Ahead of tomorrow’s release of the Collins Romper, I wanted to share more about this incredible little piece and why it’s superwash wool content makes it effortless to maintain.

The Collins Romper found its way to my shop like many other pieces do: it started as a gift idea for a dear friend. I’ve gifted it a couple of times now and when those babes make their way into the world, I will be sure to update with some “in the wild” photos.

Some of what makes this piece extra special:
+ constructed with hand-dyed, superwash wool
+ hand-crocheted and sewn
+ handmade clay buttons

The Collins Romper is perfect for:
+ photography & family photo sessions
+ day to day wear, all year round
+ special occasions

Did you know that:
+ wool has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties
+ wool contains fatty acids that inhibit the growth of mold, mildew and bacteria
+ because of those properties, wool does not need regular washing
+ unlike synthetic fibers, wool will continue to smell “fresh” after multiple wears
+ superwash wool is machine washable and won’t felt (though I still recommend handwashing due to the handmade nature – but sometimes babies get…extra messy)
+ superwash wool doesn’t “smell” like wool

What you get:
+ an incredible handmade, one-of-a-kind romper
+ matching bow headband
+ black or white, long sleeved onesie

The Collins Romper will be available on Thursday, April 8th at 6PM CST and will retail for $65. Free shipping, always. Shop at Midwest Nest Handmade.

Sources:
skeinyarn.com
blog.knitpicks.com
ysolda.com

welcome to the nest.

Hi there! I’m so happy you’re here!

Since officially launching Midwest Nest Handmade as a business in August of 2020, I’ve been seeking a way to better connect with my clients. In the past months I’ve had the opportunity to connect with fellow makers and the widest variety of individuals seeking to treat themselves or someone else important in their lives. I’m so honored that you’ve seen value in what I can create and have spent your hard earned money on it. Thank you.

As I’ve grown in business, I have found so much value (and fun!) in learning more about what happens “behind the scenes” with other makers. And as a consumer, I enjoy learning about the creative process other makers and creators have. I’m now part of a community of (primarily) women that cheer one another on, share their tricks of the trade and are open about their failures, just as they are their successes.

My target audience? All of you. Makers. Friends. Family. Clients. DIY’ers. I want to show you where I started. What I’m working on. The challenges I face. The failures. The wins. My family. Without those things, there is no Midwest Nest Handmade. Thanks for stopping in. I sure hope you stay.

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