As a business, Etsy has been a gigantic success. It's valued at nearly $300 million and should hit $1 billion in sales in 2011. But as a virtual crafts fair, it's a mixed shopping bag: The online mecca of homemade horrors has also been a godsend for many artists and artisans who create and sell beautiful, high-quality pieces. Here, a selection of the best.
1. Corporan Glass
This blown-glass bowl's netlike pattern was created using a traditional Venetian technique. The solid white band created by the incalmo method (the joining of two glass bubbles) adds a touch of toughness to this airy, delicate piece. (Lacy white bowl, $360)
2. Industry MFG. CO.
"We want our furniture to be an honest expression, heirloom quality," says designer James Lougheed of Jackson, Michigan. "We set ourselves apart by using true, thick hardwood." In this case, solid American black walnut and a stunning red steel frame. (Lounge table, $925)
3. Clam Lab
Hand-thrown on a pottery wheel and then reshaped while the clay is "leather hard," this porcelain teapot has been designed for the perfect, drip-free pour. The matching pods are ideal for milk and sugar. Our favorite part? The cheery teal interiors. (Dreamy teapot, $176, and pair of pods, $54)
4. Byrd & Belle
In two years, Byrd & Belle has sold more than 3,500 of these wool-felt cases, each one made by designer Angie Davis. "I've gotten offers to move production overseas, but I don't want to," she says. "I believe in fair wages for those behind production." (iPad sleeve, $48, and iPhone case, $24)
5. WeaverBird Designs
Inspired by the colors of a macaw while vacationing on Maui, Briton Sue Bannister mixed dyes to perfectly match the colors of the bird before weaving this silk scarf on an eight- harness loom. (Silk scarf, $198)
6. Pilot Design
With a mirrored face, eye-catching pendulum, and super-subtle numbers, Stella is "a little vain, and swings both ways," says Minneapolis-based designer Keith Moore. Sexy. (Stella Blanca wall clock, $114)
7. Utilitarian Franchise
We love the retro vibe of this pillow, from California-based Tin Huynh, who has sewn and silk-screened himself out of the recession. "The exposure from Etsy is amazing," he says. "I've been featured on countless blogs, and pillows I've made are sitting in homes all over the world." (Vintage lightbulb throw pillow, $60)
8. Svelte Objects
The sweeping lines of this piece — inspired by the sails of a ship — showcase the strength of Tasmanian blackwood, sheets of which were layered and cured for 24 hours to create the form. (Bent ply magazine rack, $180)
[Photo by Lisa Shin]
A version of this article appeared in the November 2010 issue of Fast Company magazine.