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Berkeley Etsy Artists Get Creative

Crafty Berkeleyites create everything from jewelry to dog collars and share it on Etsy.com.

Berkeley is a creative hub for those with a knack for getting crafty. 

From the vendors on Telegraph Avenue selling earrings and hemp bracelets, to the artsy trinket stores full of unique handmade wares, Berkeley encourages the artistically minded to share their creations. But not every crafter can set up a stall and wait around all day for customers, or wrangle a deal with a shop owner to get their goods onto the shelves. 

Instead, some creatives are opening up shop online. Etsy.com launched in 2005 as an online marketplace for vintage and handmade goods, and the site has since become a global success story. Etsy now spans 150 countries and boasts seven million members. 

"My sister-in-law has had great success with Etsy," said Karen Hellyer, a Berkeley photographer who sells her prints on Etsy. "She recommended I set up a shop for my panoramas and photos."

Hellyer's Etsy store, Photography by Karen Hellyer, features panoramas from around the country as well as close to home in Berkeley, where she has lived for six years after moving from San Francisco and, originally, Illinois. 

"I love living in Berkeley," said Hellyer. "There are wide streets with bike lanes, plenty of trees, it's not terribly windy or dirty like the city was, it's warmer and sunnier, and there are three farmer's markets all within walking or biking distance of my house."

As a child, Hellyer's father was an avid picture taker, inspiring her love for photography. Now she teaches photography and video production to high school students at the Bay School of San Francisco, all the while developing her own skills and sharing her talent online.

There are plenty of Etsy artists from Berkeley doing the same — sharing a vast array of unique crafts, and perhaps earning a little extra cash.

Cronelius Loewenstein is a self proclaimed "Rock&Roller" as well as a dedicated leather designer. His Etsy store, Strap King Leathers, offers an ecclectic mix of handmade leather items, including dog collars and leashes, fashion accessories, guitar straps and even utility belts. 

Zamarise Montoya, a UC Berkeley philosophy student, sells both vintage goods and her own line of greeting cards through her store, Adrift in the Sea. The cards are simplistic and sophisticated, which adds a touch of irony to their messages: one from Captain Kirk ("Sometimes a feeling is all we humans have to go on"), and another from the cult-classic movie, The Room ("People are people").

Chantal Coronel, a UC Berkeley undergrad, has just a few pieces of handmade jewelry to sell in her store, including an emerald green beaded necklace with a gold leaf pendant called "Nature's First Green Is Gold."

Kelly O'Keefe, a Berkeley mother and artist, runs an Etsy store for her "little world of paper art." These hand-pulled screen prints feature retro images, meshed with old Berkeley maps, vibrant colors and patterns. O'Keefe also offers all Berkeley residents free delivery when they buy prints from her store.

Although Etsy offers artists a quick and easy way to advertise and sell their goods online, the website is more of a hobby for Etsy crafters than a means of making money. 

"I think it's pretty difficult to sell art online actually," said Hellyer in an email, adding that "the market competitive and saturated."

For photography, Hellyer says the Internet and computers have made things especially difficult. "People look at images a lot more through a web browser than on a wall," said Hellyer. "So if they can see a pretty good preview of an image online, they aren't necessarily compelled to take the step of buying a print to hang it on a wall. That's my theory anyway."

Handmade in Berkeley is a column featuring artists from Berkeley who create original items to sell. If you would like to be featured, please tell us about yourself and your work in the comments or send an email to emily.henry@patch.com.

Lyra King July 26, 2011 at 02:41 AM
Kelly O'Keefe is my BFF and an incredible artist. If you haven't already seen her works, check them out on Etsy. Her shop is called Crumbs in the Butter and she is amazing--take my word for it!
barete July 26, 2011 at 07:34 AM
I just paid $22.87 for an iPad2-64GB and my girlfriend loves her Panasonic Lumix GF 1 Camera that we got for $38.76 there arriving tomorrow by UPS. I will never pay such expensive retail prices in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LED TV to my boss for $675 which only cost me $62.81 to buy. Here is the website we use to get it all from, http://BuzzSave.com
Jennifer Larsen July 31, 2011 at 12:19 AM
We sell reusable snack and sandwich bags on Etsy. Modern designs and dishwasher-safe! Replace all those plastic baggies. Snackaby: www.snackaby.etsy.com

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