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The Sister Project

Aug 13, 2009

by awaytogarden

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

It just doesn’t feel like an office to Margaret Roach unless people are excitedly showing her things they just made by hand, and she is in turn showing those to an audience. The former editorial director of Martha Stewart Living left last year to pursue her own forms of creative self-expression from her Hudson Valley garden. Margaret quickly surrounded herself with artisans again by inventing The Sister Project, a network of blogs (sister blogs, if you will) that explores the many meanings of sisterhood, from genetic to soul to feminist (with the occasional geisha or nun).

Margaret’s radar is set to handmade, thanks to a crafty grandmother, whose mending basket and button box yielded snippets for Margaret’s couture dolls’ clothes, and who was a mad gardener, a madder collector (and a master of meringue, Margaret’s first cooking lesson, at age 9).

No wonder Martha made Margaret Living’s first garden editor, and later overseer of her internet site, magazines and books — and how familiar it was for Margaret to be where the power of the handmade article — sewn, grown, or cooked up — reigns. She has recreated that feeling by blogging from her 1870s Swedish kitchen table, especially in The Sister Project Galleries, a place she showcases exceptional talents to a growing sisterhood of visitors.

Her filter is always about the “S” word…and Etsy looks like one giant sisterhood to her:

 

 

When we started The Sister Project, my colleague “Sister” Paige (we TSP bloggers call one another sister) suggested the first gallery show be Elsa Mora. It was elsita’s older sister we had sensed in certain images, a sibling still living but lost in the tangle of schizophrenia. “She was my mentor,” says Elsita, but, “we had to deal with the possibility of her going away forever all the time.”

“Goodbye” Papercut Print by elsita, $25.

 

 

 

 

 

At TSP we always ask one fill-in-the-blank question: You know you’re a sister when…? “When you can’t discern if a memory happened to you or your sister,” replied painter Amanda Blake, a.k.a. thisisalliknow. “The entire idea of a sister — of someone you have a shared past with — speaks to my use of symbolism and superstition and the idea that everyone on the planet has a shared deeper past.”

Beth and Adeline Original Oil Painting by thisisalliknow, $2,200.

 

 

 

In Julianna Bright’s folkloric, fairy tale realm, images of sisterhood and kinship abound — though the ethereal women she paints are as likely to be paired up with a giant bird or a princely frog as another human. “The pictures I make have became a way to circle back to that wonder I felt as a child,” says Julianna, “that time before I was even able to read when I could fashion a whole universe in my mind around an illustration.” (Does her painting, “Le Mermaid,” evoke an undersea sisterhood perhaps?)

Le Mermaid Original Painting by juliannabright, $125.

 

 

 

 

Lindsey Carr, the Scotland-based Etsy seller LittleRobot, readily admits her sibling-hood of six came with responsibilities and heartache. “I think that the misfortunes are the things which bind you,” she says, but with this brighter punchline: “A story is nothing without someone to share it with.”

A Cage for Two Print by LittleRobot, $19.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shelley Kommers (Etsy’s Oiseaux and OiseauxNoir) and her younger sister, Carrie, moved a lot as kids, and the stabilizing force of their connection seeps forth from her art. “What I remember most is the magic of our playtime and the inventiveness of the fantasy worlds we’d create,” she says. “A lot of that ‘make-believe’ quality shapes my artwork.”

Strawberry Park Print by OiseauxNoir, $18.

 

 

 

 

Our TSP definition of sisterhood even reaches across the species. Being a nature girl, I was riveted by Esty seller dailymammal, who aims to draw the Earth’s 5,000 mammals (at one per day, that’s 14 years!). Jennifer and her baby sister (like me and mine) have had some tough, silent times. “She’s still my sister, and that’s everything,” says Jennifer. “Same nature, same nurture, same nose.”

Giraffe Original Drawing by dailymammal, $50.


No Martha colleague showed me more delightful things than Laura Normandin, a.k.a wrenhandmade (well, maybe that’s not true… Marcie McGoldrick, a gifted ceramist and former Storque contributor, was also on my team). Back then, I felt more motherly toward them; these days it’s a peer, or sisterly, connection. Laura matches Grandma’s stitchery talent; her handmade doll would do Grandma proud, as would Laura’s gray felt doll coat (my doll’s was pink, with pearl buttons and a fox collar).

Handmade Doll by wrenhandmade, $90.


You can check out these Etsy artists’ full sister stories in The Sister Project Galleries. My own genetic sister, Marion, is a writer and longtime teacher of memoir writing, and part of The Sister Project as well.

Do you have sisters who influence your craft? Share in the comments below!

Shop the Art Category | This Handmade Life Posts | Artistic Endeavors Series

89 comments

  • Morado

    Morado said 7 years ago

    Awww I miss my sista so dearly!!! *sniff*

  • yaelfran

    yaelfran said 7 years ago

    adorable sisters here!

  • aBreathofFrenchair

    aBreathofFrenchair said 7 years ago

    I talk to my sister almost every day. She lives across the country, but if feels as if we live next door. My sister, Odile, is one of my testers and she inspires me to create and to think outside the box!

  • jenniferladd

    jenniferladd said 7 years ago

    Very sweet! Sisters are definitely something to celebrate!

  • 4TheSparrowsNest

    4TheSparrowsNest said 7 years ago

    An interesting perspective on the interconnectedness of creativity and craft. I don't have any biological sisters, but I do feel a kinship to my fellow crafters here on Etsy. :o)

  • jamieribisi

    jamieribisi said 7 years ago

    My twin sister & I do everything together, especially art! We just opened up an Artist Retreat in Maine :) http://sweetlandretreat.com

  • BlueShoeStudio

    BlueShoeStudio said 7 years ago

    I am blessed to have a fabulous, wonderful natural sister, a handful of sisters-in-law, and I do count quite a few sisters in my sunny social circle. XOX girls!

  • Fairyfolk

    Fairyfolk said 7 years ago

    I have always missed having a sister... the sisterly bond is such a special bond to have. All those of you who have sisters, you are so lucky, so cherish it. Blessings and magic.

  • shopgoodgrace

    shopgoodgrace said 7 years ago

    oh my goodness. what a neat project! (I'll bet the pace is a lot different than working for MSLiving - as much as I love the magazine... the Sister Project sounds like a lovely way to invest your time.) Thanks for sharing this with us.

  • whichgoose

    whichgoose said 7 years ago

    My sister and I are on different coasts of the U.S. and write letters back and forth each week :) It's always fun to get some "real mail" from my big sis :)

  • ericawalker

    ericawalker said 7 years ago

    my sister http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=46664 has been one of my biggest influences and mentors in my career as a jeweler. without her encouragement and support, i might be where i am today. not to mention she rocks, is crazy talented, is one of my very favorite people and my best friend!!! xoe

  • atomsatwork

    atomsatwork said 7 years ago

    I don't have a sister bond but being a sister to my younger brother is one of the most important roles I have in my life.

  • IcingOnTheCupcake

    IcingOnTheCupcake said 7 years ago

    Very inspiring! My sister and I run our Etsy store together. It definitely helps having each others support and encouragement.

  • BululuStudio

    BululuStudio said 7 years ago

    wow! Love the article...congrats Margaret

  • beachhouseblues

    beachhouseblues said 7 years ago

    I love the idea behind the blog. Friends can come and go but sistrs are in your life forever!

  • SaraSophie

    SaraSophie said 7 years ago

    I <<3 The Sister Project--so inspiring and definitely a daily read for me. My little Sister Elizabeth and I just opened our Etsy shop this week, its amazing what you can do when you have a little support:)

  • SimpleJoysPaperie

    SimpleJoysPaperie said 7 years ago

    This is a wonderful article! I just found The Sister Project a few days ago and have it bookmarked to visit often.

  • thebestvintage

    thebestvintage said 7 years ago

    Love the artwork you picked for this blog!

  • ericabnyc

    ericabnyc said 7 years ago

    During an "Open Days" visit to Sister Margaret's garden, one of her fans grabbed my arm and said in her Julia Child-like voice "You are Margaret's friend? Do you knooooowwww how lucky you arrrrrrrrre?" Margaret made this city sister stop to smell the flowers and introduced me to all the glories of Etsy - how lucky am I?

  • ummashin

    ummashin said 7 years ago

    My sister/kindred spirit and the "sisterhood" on Etsy continue to surprise and inspire me moment by moment...what a wonderful article and project!

  • steinschmuckdesign

    steinschmuckdesign said 7 years ago

    so special, thank you!

  • ArtsyPicks

    ArtsyPicks said 7 years ago

    I love this theme. My beloved natural sister is my very best friend, though we share so little in common we might never have been friends had we not been related. I am truly amazed at my recently discovered ability to bond with some new Etsy "sisters" who are participating at my blog, EtsyLounge. Last week, I booted up my computer ready to sit down for a 2 hour session writing that day's blog showcase, and discovered one of these blessed artist-friends had been inspired to write a blog for me....it was all ready to go, and all I had to do was paste it up and publish. I could have hugged her if my arms would reach all the way from Seattle to Pennsylvania. Andria http://etsylounge.blogspot.com

  • zeropumpkin

    zeropumpkin said 7 years ago

    aww i miss my sis now.shes in australia..:D cool article

  • OhMyAmpersand

    OhMyAmpersand said 7 years ago

    A special theme indeed. I wish we lived closer together. I miss my sister! Hugs and kisses to Daina from far away xoxo

  • ShesFancy

    ShesFancy said 7 years ago

    My sister and I fought nearly non-stop growing up. Now, as adults, we love spending time together. I can't imagine my life without her! Now I also have 5 step-sisters and 8 sisters-in-law. They've all enriched my life--I feel blessed to know them. Great article...thanks!

  • SteppingStones

    SteppingStones said 7 years ago

    Great project!!! I love my sisters.... All three of us are Etsy Gals!!!!

  • baconsquarefarm

    baconsquarefarm said 7 years ago

    You look so comfy sitting in that green chair in a garden setting, even tho I don't have a natural sister, I have many friends online who have now become my kindred sisters. I've met many of them face to face at mini gatherings in Ohio or when we travel doing Art shows they come see us, it's incredible the bond we share runs deep. WE visit daily on the net as well. Thanks for sharing your sister project Margaret.

  • Shandells

    Shandells said 7 years ago

    The more I get to know Margaret, the more my life is enriched. Making new sisters every day.

  • LaLah

    LaLah said 7 years ago

    I LOVE MY SISTER!!! MY best friend!

  • SouthwestFlower

    SouthwestFlower said 7 years ago

    What a touching venture. I share a similiar feeling with a best friend and it is as if we have never lived without one another. Finishing thoughts and mending broken hearts, laughing and being totally silly thats what my sister does for me. thank you

  • lavenderrabbit

    lavenderrabbit said 7 years ago

    What an awesome venture. Love the sisterly love!

  • SewnNatural

    SewnNatural said 7 years ago

    fabulous piece! thank you

  • ovgilliesdesigns

    ovgilliesdesigns said 7 years ago

    Great article! I wish I had a sister, but these days I seem to have lots of 'sisters' in Jetteam & McEtsy team - Etsy is wonderful in promoting a community/familial feel!

  • paramountvintage

    paramountvintage said 7 years ago

    wonderful article!

  • RockPaperSilver

    RockPaperSilver said 7 years ago

    Go Sisterhood...both genetic and "artificial" sisters ROCK! ;) It is great to be a part of such a loving, supportive community of fantastically talented artists!

  • StudioCherie

    StudioCherie said 7 years ago

    Enjoyed the article and the selections. My sister and I had a little Martha Stewart show-down last Christmas, and I must admit she beat me with her darling felted sweater lamb.

  • yaelfran

    yaelfran said 7 years ago

    Here are my sisters!!!! http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=24779832

  • spacejam

    spacejam said 7 years ago

    great article!!

  • littletank

    littletank said 7 years ago

    I'm the oldest of 7, 6 girls and 1 brother :) He's right i the middle!

  • jbeaudet

    jbeaudet said 7 years ago

    I love this quote:“She’s still my sister, and that’s everything,” says Jennifer. “Same nature, same nurture, same nose.” My sister means the world to me. I can't imagine life without her. I just wish I could see her more often; I miss her! This is a great project! I can't wait to hear more!

  • TheCottageCheese

    TheCottageCheese said 7 years ago

    What a special blog! My sister and I have had our rough patches, but our relationship is growing much closer all the time, and I miss her terribly. It's tough being 1000 miles away from her.

  • postroadvintage

    postroadvintage said 7 years ago

    Hooray to sisters! I have six and love them all!!

  • SnippetsofTime

    SnippetsofTime said 7 years ago

    Two sisters -- one the youngest, the other the oldest -- operate our beloved Etsy shop. We also teach classes from our handwork studio together. We give all the credit to our Mom. We lost her seven years ago, but we know she -- and handmade -- lives on through us. Thanks for highlighting sisterhood.

  • elsita

    elsita said 7 years ago

    How wonderful! Thank you so much for featuring The Sister Project here on Etsy! Margaret Roach is one of the most inspiring women out there in the world. She has a gift for seeing those special things that connect us all as women. Her colleague Paige is also on the list of special people. All my best to both os them. I was so honored when they first contacted me. After our first phone conversation regarding my sister Ileana I felt inspired to share the whole personal story with other women through my blog. I had thought about doing so for about a year, but our phone conversation just gave me the last push to do it, here is the link in case you would like to read it: http://elsita.typepad.com/elsita/a-story-of-tough-love/ Since then, I have found several online sisters that had similar experiences and being in touch with them has been an amazing experience. And as Margaret said, Etsy is like one giant sisterhood. It is amazing how this site has changed the lives of so many women (and men :) around the world. My dream is that one day Etsy can also happen in Cuba where so many of my friends are struggling right now. It might take time but I am sure that it is going to happen at some point. Thank you The Sister Project! Thank you Etsy! With love, Elsita :)

  • workingforpeanuts

    workingforpeanuts said 7 years ago

    Thanks for introducing so many interesting people. Great theme!

  • MyJunkyTrunk

    MyJunkyTrunk said 7 years ago

    God bless our sisters! I love the idea of the Sister Project! http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=27255727

  • breadandroses

    breadandroses said 7 years ago

    Perfectly beautiful. And Margaret is good name!

  • Itsawrapp

    Itsawrapp said 7 years ago

    Thank you so much for The Sister Project. I would be homeless if it were not for my sister. I am almost 60 and looking for 2 years for a job. When I worked I of course paid my sister rent, but for 2 years now, it has been hit and miss. She tells me, we are family, you would do the same for me. I would too. It was the lack of funds that has always spurred me to create. This time, I used scraps of muslin and an old towel. For years both my sister and I had horrific zits on our crotch, from excessive sweating, never knowing it was something called Hyperhydrosis. But I started experimenting with the muslin, cut on the bias, and a hook and eye and I made a Wrapp. It wraps around the crotch of ones underwear and when it gets wet, I change it out for a clean dry one. I gave some to my sister for a woman she works with who also suffers from this condition and she loves the Wrapps and she is finally off antibiotics! So far, it is into its 5th makeover and I think this one is the best so far. I have not had a huge painful zit for 6 months now. I also have a man wearing my Wrapps too. And when I finally start selling them, I am going to give my sweet sister some money. Because it seems no one wants to hire a 60 year old woman... Can't beat sisters! I thank my lucky stars I am not homeless, but it is only because I have a good sister. Denise

  • faithlandsman

    faithlandsman said 7 years ago

    My little sister and I (36 & 38) are the best of friends. I adore and admire her and she is the inspiration for a lot of my art. I also have my sisters in craft who I adore!!!

  • babook

    babook said 7 years ago

    I`m a listener and always like to listening the experience from other people .... About the life from them : )This my shop also hoping your listen of my things http://www.babook.etsy.com/ Thanks to see : )

  • babook

    babook said 7 years ago

    I thinks this it`s a beauty post and talk of the sister project !!

  • GimCarry

    GimCarry said 7 years ago

    I have a sister, it is a very special feeling. I have fun & happy times miss When we were children. Difficult to describe. Is bound. It inspired me. And it will remain forever.I also have a brother.It is bound in a different But I love them both.

  • GimCarry

    GimCarry said 7 years ago

    I have a sister and it is a very special feeling I have happy fun times miss When we were children. Difficult to describe. Is bound. It inspired me. And it will remain forever. And I have a brother. It is bound in a different But I love them both. Thank you for great The Sister Project(* v *) Toa

  • MeghanT

    MeghanT said 7 years ago

    Touching. A great collaborative project to forge connections between women, and honor sisterhoods in all their forms.

  • JeannineRobertsRoyce

    JeannineRobertsRoyce said 7 years ago

    I can't begin to describe how my sister enriches my life. People even say we sound alike and have certain similar expressions... from being so connected for so long, I guess. We've been in business together, supported each other in raising our kids and enjoy the loudest out-of-control laughter and near happy hysteria I've ever experienced.

  • FrillyButts

    FrillyButts said 7 years ago

    I think I will go call my sister now...thanks

  • tigersanddragons

    tigersanddragons said 7 years ago

    My sister was very supportive when I started making jewellery, and my best salesperson. We are always bouncing creative ideas off one another.

  • GabriellaFiabane

    GabriellaFiabane said 7 years ago

    I always wanted a sister...

  • EJPcreations

    EJPcreations said 7 years ago

    So sweet! Wonderful article!

  • riricreations

    riricreations said 7 years ago

    Loved this article~with 3 brothers, I've had a couple special "adopted" sisters thru the years, one for 34 years now...couldn't live without them!

  • suzshan

    suzshan said 7 years ago

    I live 3000 miles away from my identical twin sister. I've made friends whom I consider sisters too, but it's different. Being a twin sister makes this sister bond even more tightly woven (we shared a womb). What a great way to celebrate the bonds we women have with our sisters.

  • californiablue

    californiablue said 7 years ago

    My sister is definitely my inspiration for being creative. She is a painter and art professional and has always looked at life through a creative lense. I love her very much and am very grateful for her wisdom.

  • AnastasiaSmith

    AnastasiaSmith said 7 years ago

    I LOVE all of the artwork featured here! While I don't have a sister of my own, I'm always inspired by my creative blogging sisters (like Margaret!) Thank you, Etsy Storque, for giving us this little shout out!

  • bluerthanblue

    bluerthanblue said 7 years ago

    My sister is everything to me and influences me in the best of ways. She's the most supportive person in my life and always watches out for me, even overseas. She will never leave me, and I will never leave her.

  • paigeo

    paigeo said 7 years ago

    It is so cool to be a digital sister to lovely Margaret (and Marion and Anastasia) but even cooler to see all the amazing comments here from the world o' Etsy, which is one of my favorite places to be: more inspiration and community here than just about any place real or virtual. Kudos to Margaret for a lovely post and gorgeous pics, and to Etsy for having the great sense to invite her along on the ride!

  • MyDearest

    MyDearest said 7 years ago

    Sweet idea. I just had coffee with my sister. It's nice, as adults, to be as close as we are...having been born 9 years apart!

  • SeptemberStars

    SeptemberStars said 7 years ago

    I have a sister on Etsy! Check out her illustrations at: TheVoicelessImage.etsy.com She helps me with my printing and gives me her input on my designs :)

  • MinceCo

    MinceCo said 7 years ago

    dear all brothers AND sisters...***I'm having a cracker of a sale starting this weekend***details to be on site soon*** http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=7050360

  • DogDayAfternoons

    DogDayAfternoons said 7 years ago

    Love the idea and I love my (older) sister. She is one of my best friends. (And how nice to see my vintage sweet little sisters photo postcard on this page...)

  • OiseauxNoir

    OiseauxNoir said 7 years ago

    this is such a lovely article, Margaret! lovely and generous, just like you... thank you for your excellent writing and for your big heart.

  • TenderLetters

    TenderLetters said 7 years ago

    What a beautiful project. I love creating with my sister.

  • bayousalvage

    bayousalvage said 7 years ago

    great story. (i miss you molly & emily!!! best sisters on the planet!!!)

  • kaze0no0nemui

    kaze0no0nemui said 7 years ago

    i love my sister! she rocks!!!

  • Iammie

    Iammie said 7 years ago

    Lovely!

  • thisisalliknow

    thisisalliknow said 7 years ago

    the sister project is just wonderful, i'm honored to be a part of it. it's amazing how much of a world can be explored through the theme of sisterhood and the community margaret and all the other fabulous writers there are creating is absolutely great to watch grow.

  • VixVintage

    VixVintage said 7 years ago

    Very nice, thank you.

  • 1AEON

    1AEON said 7 years ago

    fascinated with twins: http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=28521438 :)

  • Scallyrags

    Scallyrags said 7 years ago

    very nice artcle

  • angeldogdesigns

    angeldogdesigns said 7 years ago

    hi margaret i used to work at martha tv and am now in grad school to become an art teacher wonderful article a lot of the chosen images remind me of a great artist named henry darger http://folkartmuseum.org/default.asp?id=1747

  • CottageGirlTea

    CottageGirlTea said 7 years ago

    Us girls have to stick together!

  • tldgrainwear

    tldgrainwear said 7 years ago

    My sister can be really annoying sometimes...hehe! Cheers everybody!

  • OwlandMouse

    OwlandMouse said 7 years ago

    Love these selections! So quirky and whimsical!

  • YanCetta

    YanCetta said 7 years ago

    This is such a wonderful place, I have no siblings but to have a wonderful group of sisters to talk to and bounce ideas off of is lovely thing to have.

  • paperprayers

    paperprayers said 7 years ago

    I love the sister project! I've come across it several times recently. My two sisters and I are best friends - we have the best time together - creating art that celebrates family, womanhood, and faith - and just having fun together - http://thingswithwingsartjournal.blogspot.com http://paperprayers.etsy.com http://greengirldesign.etsy.com

  • hmfromtheheart

    hmfromtheheart said 7 years ago

    What a great idea...having a site dedicated to sisters! My sisters mean a great deal to me!

  • OctoberMansion

    OctoberMansion said 7 years ago

    What perfect timing to come across this project. I have two sisters and we have not been together since 1987. In January 2010 we will finally have a reunion. All three together! Sisters mean unconditional love. And we all need that.

  • BatiksbyRita

    BatiksbyRita said 7 years ago

    Lovely site! I have a sister and we have always been each other's best friend. We live oceans apart these days (Germany and Colorado), but get together once a year for a "sister vacation" - no husbands, no children, no grandkids", just the two of us. It's become a wonderful tradition; we finish each other's sentences, laugh at the same sights without having to explain what we think is so funny and if we are "treasure hunting" in stores, we invariably zero in on the same little gem. I can't imagine my life without my sister's support, even though it's long-distance.

  • GemsByJoy

    GemsByJoy said 7 years ago

    Yes! My sisters definitely influence my craft. One also makes jewelry and has a shop on etsy (http://hiptomylu.etsy.com) She has been a role model for me and my shop. My other sister does beautiful collages. They are a source of inspiration to me:)

  • URL said 1 year ago

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