Etsy.com, that amazing Brooklyn-based online store with endless handmade options, can be daunting. Even their own “How to Shop on Etsy” video doesn’t detail all the features they’ve added since their June 2005 launch. Some, like Time Machine, are just eye candy, while others are great ways to discover covetable crafts. Here’s a guide to the best entry points to Dumbo’s handmade megasource.
If You Dream it, it Will Come by Mail
This winter I lost my beloved initial tag necklace somewhere between my apartment and the subway, and had it not been from an ex, I would have had it remade through Etsy’s Alchemy — a great way to replace lost items, to replicate old favorites, or to come up with a personalized gift or wedding favor (a friend recently had her wedding headpiece custom made through Alchemy.)
You upload a photo or give a specific description of any item you’d like, and an Etsy seller will contact you and agree on a price. (Note: Many Etsy sellers will customize an item if you, say, love their knitted Nano cozies but would like a different color. Alchemy is strictly for one-of-a-kind requests that you dream up.)
If you aren’t quite sure what you’re in the market for, Treasury can be a good jumping off point. Users post lists of their 12 favorite items for sale around a theme (think “fuzzy” or “yellow”). Even better are the Gift Guides curated by Etsy’s staff, divided into categories as precise as gourmets (where you can find these salt and pepper shakers) and as vague as spring.
To support area crafters and reduce the environmental impact of shipping, Shop Local is a great tool. A quick search for “Brooklyn” revealed the 100 most recently updated shops (like Cubist Literature). Another way to use Shop Local is to enter your hometown or an area known for the item you’re searching for — like affordable prints from the artist enclave of Portland, OR.
Not Just Handmade
Despite its credo, Etsyians have always been able to sell commercially made supplies and vintage goods on the site. But in May they added the filters “Vintage” and “Supplies” to make it that much easier to find glass beads, old typewriters, and 70s dress patterns.
Etsy Labs, Etsy’s Dumbo HQ at 325 Gold St., holds a craft night every Monday (site>>) and offers ongoing, quirky classes (like make your own underwear made out of old t-shirts). See the Etsy Labs shop (site>>) for upcoming class info or visit the blog for virtual how-tos>>.