Poets & Writers

I’m trying to remember when I first read Oscar Wilde, and I believe it was in high school; The Picture of Dorian Gray. For those doing math out there, that would mean about close to 40 years ago.

My obsession continued into college and remains in place today. I love his writings, images of him, the film starring Stephen Fry, and just thinking about this radical individual taking a lobster out for a London stroll on a leash. So here is a brooch entitled Thee Poison Pen featuring the wild one, with a lovely vintage pen nib affixed. The vintage seam binding ribbon is, of course, the palest shade of pink.

My research into ancient radical writers also lead me to Aphra Behn, who lived during the mid-1600’s and is upheld by many feminists as the first published female literary voice. Kind of a riot-grrl of the 17th century. Thee Poison Pen brooch honoring Ms. Behn, with vintage lavender ribbon and pen nib.

These two brooches will be offered among the last of the resin jewelry on the So Charmed site; we are about 4-6 weeks out from launch. If you are interested in either of them now, feel free to email me: jodiatsodashcharmeddotcom.

Tout Finis

With all the daily posting in Dec, a couple of pieces never made it onto the blog, thought I’d include them here so I can MOVE ON! Pictured above and below, The Trapeze Artist mixed media joint.

Lots of materials combined here.

Two more close-ups, nice little clasp if I do say! And this skein of the Indian sari fiber is incredible… it’s black but also has under and overtones of blue. This is the color I want my hair!

This one is called When You Left I Found Direction. I’ll just stack the other photos below. That’s an opalite chunk and a bone in the center.

The opalite glows like NOBODY’s bidness, changing with variations in light. Gorgeous.

More dreamy sari fiber. It only gets better as it frays.

As always if you want to see the photos bigger, hit my flickr page. All jewelry goes into the so-charmed.com category on the right. Duh!

Yes, these will be for sale when so charmed relaunches soon. Sign up for the eNews which publishes so sporadically it’s ridiculous, to get that announcement. Here’s the only one that went out in 2011 in case ya missed it.

High Net Worth

Have had a complete fascination and love for automobile emblems for a long time now; once created an entire line of vintage handbags featuring these… all sold now with a few in my private collection. Anyway, have had this Caddy wreath around the studio for months, distressed it, left it on my work bench, waited, and woke up yesterday morning having figured out how to construct the necklace I wanted to make. Too busy with NYE to make anything but lasagne yesterday but got up this morning and worked out the details. Very excited with results and will be adding more to this series.

Vintage chandelier crystals for added post-apocalyptic glitz appeal.

Clasp is a wonderful vintage button… not sure what this type of button is called with the cording wrapped around. Anyone know? I have two more of these. LOVE.

This necklace hangs longer than I usually make. I’m so petite myself that I tend to wear shorter length things, but have to remember that lots of people like the longer concept.

This image shows the clasp + a very cute set of coral teeth to help you bite the hand that feeds you. This piece is very world’s-end for me, not in a Westwood kind of way, in a dress up all glam for the bombed-out ball kind of way.

Full-sized images on flickr.

A Few of My Favorite Things #31… THE GRAND FINALE!

For the final post in this Decebmer series I wanted to bring you something really special and unique and brilliant, so here is the incredible work of pop surrealist, Mab Graves.

I visit Mab’s shop just to hang out with her wonderful characters; stopping by to see what she’s been creating is like having tea with the most charming people in a long lost dream of childhood. There are paintings, prints, and cards as well as some lovely jewelry and the occasional accessory.

At Mab’s Web site, you can see more of her work and read a bio and connect to her blog. I believe the picture below is the pink-haired artist, herself.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this month of daily posts from the vast world of handmade goods and art, and that the next time you feel the urge to shop for yourself or a loved one that you might return to this collection for reference, or just go on your own journey to find something dear, charming, and made with love.

HAPPY NEW YEAR to all of you and thanks for reading my blog!

Newly Finished

Finished up the Maintain Balance necklace yesterday.

The clasp turned out cool, with a handcrafted toggle and a found rubber gasket.

Here’s a close up of the main elements.

And, modeled by the lovely headless zombie torso, Missouri-Abigale. PS: Two words I am TIRED of seeing together: Statement & Necklace. AGHHHHH, make it stop!

Home Sweet Home was also finished yesterday.

In love with this picture frame scored at half price on the Hobby Lobby field trip!

Another nice aspect of the new model is that she is lifesize, so this will give a sense of scale without my having to constantly provide measurements of everything.

Full size images over on flickr.

A Few of My Favorite Things #30

While we’re on the subject of people treated unfairly on Project Runway, here is Danielle Everine, whose work I love and adore and will be wearing soonest. As of this writing, Danielle’s etsy shop is sparse, but I’m crazy for ALL of the pieces.

Love this Water Buffalo tee with great graphics and a pretty ballet neckline which I greatly prefer.

Danielle has a Web site with portfolio here, as well as a blog, from which I grabbed the above. Don’t you love when artists share their process sketches and the thoughts behind what they do? Here’s hoping we’ll see/hear more from Danielle in 2012.

A Few of My Favorite Things #29

I was, and always will be, a member of Team Mondo. Since fanning him on FB, every once in awhile I hit up his Web site, lovemondotrasho.com to see what the adorable trashy one is up to. BTW, when you hit the site, wait a bit for the front page images to load… you’ll be treated to fun slide show of the many moods of Mondo.

How much do you LOVE these earrings?

This special edition t-shirt, which raises funds for the Colorado Aids Project, is really cute too. Hopefully some of his work in addition to these kinds of items will become available soon.

Yeah, Mondo Guerra was the clear winner of Project Runway Season 8. Of course the idiotic judges didn’t realize that, but I’ll save that rant for another time.

A Few of My Favorite Things #28

Having invented the Blog Post with a Soundtrack, I bring you Favorite Things #28, entitled, Who Says I’m Not Relgious?

How much do I love the St. Winehouse candle?

Well, almost as much as I love the St. Johnny candle.

Both of which may be trumped by the MJK Krishna candle.

All of this fabulosity is brought to you courtesy of Berndt Offerings, by LA-based artist, Vicki Berndt. Stay the hell off the drugs, kids.

A Few of My Favorite Things #27

This post comes to you with a soundtrack! So hit the play button on the CocoRosie performance above and read on.

When I first saw the work of Mia Kunyo — BeWakeful, on Etsy– I honestly thought I’d stumbled on the secret clothing design business of Sierra Cassady, the “Rosie” half of sister-duo CocoRosie. First of all, Mia (who models much of her work in her charming photos) possesses the same classic beauty and looks like Sierra’s long lost twin, but more importantly, her imaginative freaky clothing designs, as well as her colorful styling (crayola tribal warpaint!)… instantly put me in mind of the childlike playfulness of a band I obsessed over for many months!

Mia’s work is so original and fun, the dress pictured above is flirty-cool.

Hats, too! Visit Mia and check out her entire adorable line of goodies which include handmade tights, unitards, and collars among other things.

This week one of my FB buds posted a video by Sia, who I had somehow missed hearing about, and I’ll leave you with this amazing video, the styling for which immediately brought to mind the BeWakeful shop, CocoRosie, etc. You’ll need to get through ads on this next one, but trust me, it’s worth it. Spine-chilling good stuff.

A Few of My Favorite Things #26

If you’re joining us late, we’re crusing down the home stretch of an ENTIRE MONTH’s worth of blog posts cleverly titled (not) A Few of My Favorite Things. Originally conceived to invite you to consider buying handmade for the holidays, at this point I’m saying: Didn’t get anything good? Then why not GO TREAT YOURSELF to something gorgeously handmade? This entire post features the incredible work of Angela Rossi at Beat Up Creations, who likes to have fun with cast-off china plates.

Rossi’s shop is chock-full of delightful animal and pop-culture hero images, each married with their perfect plate, as if by destiny. She also sells very handsome art-prints and some art objects as well.

Ironic, hip, and very punk, if you ask me.

Pictured above is the series of plates I commissioned from Angela for the BF’s 60th birthday. Ray Davies, Keith Richards, and Johnny Thunders. They are DIVINE and she was a blast to work with!

Here’s a close-up of sexy-boy Keith, snuggled up with the old wedding china and a collection of cups I snagged from me mum. Spot ‘o tea anyone?

A Few of My Favorite Things #25

In the blurring worlds of visual arts and crafts, there can be simultaneous explosions of ideas, subject matter, supplies, and inspirations. Those that truly take hold become trends, and a trend run amok sadly becomes that wearying thing you wish would go away. Think owls, deer, mustaches. Fortunately, the things that don’t take hold simply act as threads linking artisans from across the world together. When I began experimenting with a simplistic cloud form in metalsmithing class, the idea bubbled up out of who-knows-where, and seemed to work as a shape that would not require the skills of a master, could absorb mistakes and inconsistencies, and had the potential for variation and expression. So I went with it. You’ve seen the results on the blog here, and above is another of the finished hollow-form brooches, entitled She Wept Crocodile Tears. That’s a vintage 1930’s cabochon with a vintage crystal chandelier drop.

I hadn’t seen loads of clouds out there in the marketplace, but a recent search pulled up a few… mostly sort of pedestrian, but some that were lovely, cute, scary, weird. This post collects and displays my favorites. Pictured above, from JessQuinnSmallThings in the UK, the delightful Clarissa Cloud brooch. There is much art to admire and purchase at Jess Quinn’s shop.

This adorable mobile, Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head, is by BabyJivesCo in Philadelphia, PA, and is one of many tres cute handcrafted baby things available.

This rockin’ crochet scarf is by Manifested Dreams, from Pittsburgh, PA. Very disco kawaii!

Cloud and Thunder Handbag Minaudiere Purse, from RandomIntent in Atlanta, GA, is very cool. The artist, Debra Gavant’s work, has been written up in major publications (NYT, Art Forum, WWD) and sold at Henri Bendel.

I’ll leave you with the adorably creepy Rain Cloud Dolly, by MungoCrafts of British Columbia. You’ll also find stylin’ handmade hoodies and other fun things at her shop.

A Few of My Favorite Things #24

As the perfect piggyback to yesterday’s post, allow me to introduce you to the work of Karen Ruane, who I believe is single-handedly (pun intended) keeping alive many traditions of sewn craft, with a particular focus on embroidery. Pictured above, from Karen’s Etsy shop, Contemporary Stitches, is one of a pair of handmade buttons. What a gorgeous treat for the closure on a handcrafted garment!

I first met Karen over on flickr, during my aforementioned personal adventures in stitchiness. When she put something of mine in her favorites list, I was entirely blown away, and although intimidated by her masterful work, I got in touch and we became fast friends (of the virtual kind). Pictured above is another of Karen’s works, entitled Precious Textile Fragment. This white on white art object, precious indeed, features a broad variety of stitches and techniques carried out with masterful skill.

Karen applies her craft in service of both the functional (such as buttons and cards) and museum-quality fine art works that are conceptual and personal. From her wonderful blog she states: For centuries women have used cloth as a tool of comfort and as an expression of beauty within their homes. Creating cloth for warmth, cloth for shelter, our female predecessors embellished these linens with hand stitch using laborious and time consuming techniques thereby enhancing the functional beauty of objects which enveloped and protected their families. Inspired by these women I hope my creations pay tribute to and recognise the devotion expressed in cloth by our female ancestors.

Published in Handmade UK magazine, Karen will also soon be offering an online course (hit the link and scroll 2/3 down) with 19 other artisans as part of Alma Stoller’s 2012 STITCHED WORKSHOPS. She also offers hew own online class Embroider, Embellish, Create, here.

BTW, Karen’s works of art are copyrighted (this post and all others in this series appear with the artist’s permission). In the New Year, I shall be posting a lengthy rant on the subject of “copying” in crafts, a topic of great debate that I have been burning brain cells on of late. And aren’t you looking forward to that?

A Few of My Favorite Things #23

Confession: It’s not all about the angst and edge around here; I absolutely love vintage hankies and many other very delicate collectibles. I can’t explain this, really. I’m old enough to remember when these objects were functionally in use and there is still something about them that I find incredibly evocative. Hankies, and vintage buttons too. They just seem to hold a lot of history… women’s history, in particular.

All of the dainties pictured in this post came from one delightful shop, aptly named The Hanky Lady.

I wonder if the hanky lady herself is liquidating a lifetime collection; as of this writing the number of items in her shop is staggering 262, with only a smattering of non-hanky goods.

The fabrics and handwork on these, the amazing embroidery and lace techniques… such lost arts, for the most part. I have a personal collection of hankies gathered over the years, some are family items, but I also remember scoring many dozens of them at a clip in thriftstores back in the day. Recently I was exploring embroidery myself and used hankies as my canvases at times, here are two such objects from my finished pieces. You can see more of this adventure up on flickr, second “set” on the right called embroidery (mine).

Sugar & Spice
vintage 50’s handkerchief with added embroidery.

Snips & Snails
vintage 50’s handkerchief with added embroidery.

A Few of My Favorite Things #21 & #22

Just b/c you are out of wall space doesn’t mean you have to stop buying art. There are always… pillows. Above is one of my favorite pillow-makers (pillowists?), In the Seam, who I met at Renegade Brooklyn this past year. I tried to get away from their booth unscathed, but returned for one of the NYC pigeon pillows pictured above. Would love to have a whole flock!

Of course then the flock would absolutely need a sewer cover, wouldn’t they? Of course they would! Cleverly, this pillow comes in NYC, Detroit, and Seattle versions. Love!

Speaking of Detroit, here’s another pillow-person, SaltLabs, who hails from that city, but doesn’t limit his/her work to same. At this lovely shop you can buy Paris, pictured above…

…or a vintage map of the Detroit River.

WIP, 12.22

Coolest thing about moving my design practice to my home is that I’ve taken over the entire basement + garage here, and when designfarm hits a lull, I can dash into the jewelry studio and play. So today is a play day! Above are bits and pieces that are being patina’d and observed and considered for upcoming use.

I don’t use a lot of religious iconography in my work, but every now and then, something grabs me and insists. The sacred heart necklace is a 99-cent thriftscore and the hindu pieces came from the The Bead Warehouse. Don’t paper towels make terrific backgrounds? Maybe I will introduce that as the next Etsy craze. Wheeeeeeee!

The other two scary weeping clouds from metalsmithing class. These have set stones, which is a beeyatch, people. These are almost done. I have to go out and get some Permalac to use for setting the patina b/c wax made a big mess on this kind of surface. Pray for me.

So this has been in progress for WEEKS, a triple strand affair that is requiring a lot of planning and stopping and thinking, etc, but which I think is going to rock. I’m super ADHD in the studio (not to make light of it) and have to have like 40 things going on at once to flit back and forth… cut some tin, string some beads, brush more patina… photograph, blaaaaaag.

There’s a third little metal journal here, the red one. Making huge progress in easing the making of these. Much less struggle getting the parts and materials to comply with my wishes. Oh, the background here is this funky pink faux marbled kitchenette table I dragged out of my parent’s basement when they moved to their condo. I think it belonged to one of my grandmothers in the 50’s. It’s really gorgeous and I love being surrounded by old family “heirlooms.”

PS: Full size images over on flickr

A Few of My Favorite Things #20

We have a framed piece hanging in our living room from YeeHaw, which bills itself as All Letterpress, All the Time. Their work is so flipping cool, and they’ve expanded their offerings since my last visit to include clothing, cards, and calendars along with their gorgeous art prints. Pictured above is Otis Redding from their Mini Soul Series.

I’m going to send you off to Wiki to learn about letterpress printing, if you don’t all ready know, but what you can’t experience until you see it in real life is the absolute lusciousness of these inked paper surfaces. And although wide commercial use of this process fell off in the 19th century, there’s been a substantial resurgence since the 90’s (including lots of wedding invites etc, but also ART). YeeHaw is one of my favorite houses of this craft and the Robert Johnson piece above makes me feel all woozy. Is it weird to want a bigger house only b/c you need more wall space???! I think we can still squeeze a few things in.

A Few of My Favorite Things #19

I “met” Moxie over on flickr, while looking through the favorite images of some friend of a friend of a friend… and I thought she and her bright pink hair and her darling felted goodies really rocked! Of course she’s also got an Etsy site where, lo and behold, you can buy KITS to learn how to needle-felt tiny cute things like the adorable bumble bee, Little Bugger pictured above!

Or you can pony up just $20 for Moxie’s book, I Felt Awesome, and also load up on supplies like roving, as well as tools, all at hifiberknits, her corner of the Etsyland.

I really have wanted to try needle-felting for a long time, but I need another craft passion addiction like I need one more little hole in my head. Still, Moxie’s got me mighty tempted. You too?

A Few of My Favorite Things #18

Wishing you the best of luck in resisting the needle-felted charm of VioletPi, Shop of Little Things. The shop is the work of Jennifer Novack, and needle felting never found a more capable, imaginative and delightful hand. And yes, they are even more amazing in real life. Pictured above is Green Retro Bunny, who reminds me a lot of the work of Mark Ryden, but in 3-dimensions!

And here we have Tiny Bee, standing only 2 inches tall. Unbelievably wonderful.

Since yesterday’s post came to you this morning… stay tuned for a related post this afternoon… yes people, it’s two-fer Monday.

A Few of My Favorite Things #17

Beads? Me? Nahhhhh. Ok, yahhhhhhhh. And here’s a favorite place to score gorgeous beads of every flavor, from Czech glass to tribal goodness, and even some incredibly rare (and expensive) ancient beads. HappyMango will not disappoint.

PS: If you’re joining us late, I’m doing a once-per-day post through the month of December (yes, that’s 30 freaking posts), designed to help you support handmade and all things crafty for the holidays. Enjoy!

A Few of My Favorite Things #15, WE ARE HALFWAY THERE!

Columbus, Ohio:
State Fair butter cows, buckeyes, my childhood stompin’ grounds, and… home of Flamestitch, creators of some of the most badass handbags ever. Pictured above, the wonderfully titled: Old Slut on Junk. I’d kill for this bag.

My other favorite, Cat Belly, lives only in their sold section, and comes with “ten pink Ultrasuede cat teats (or nipples if you prefer) sewn into the purse flap.” Visually, conceptually, I love everything about this object.

Above, the Oscar Wilde Tote is lovely too, featuring the decadent one’s signature silk-screened on linen.

In addition to the Etsy shop, owner Renee Parrill has her own site, and here’s part of her terrific bio: I am Renee Parrill, and I learned to love sewing in the upholstery shop my grandparents owned. I spent many bored hours coveting the fabric in upholstery sample books. I held a protected and tender spot in my heart for the sparkly Naugahyde, and imagined a day when I could make it my own. Around the same time, I started making my own clothes. My creations would sometimes earn disapproval from my grandmother, who described them as something “Lipstick Blondie” would wear. Lipstick Blondie was a war-time “loose woman” who may or may not have “known” my grandfather. At any rate, grandma didn’t like her. These two factors combined fluidly to influence my designs, specifically: The Old Slut on Junk, The Cheating Whore, and Wonder Woman.

And because I know you Columbus folk want to get your ink on, here’s a link to Renee’s husband’s shop: Fate Tattoo, located at 2202 N. High St. Yes, Columbus, I’m talking about YOU! Or maybe me… next summer, a new tatt? We’ll see…

A Few of My Favorite Things #13

There are always a few people on every gift list that are hard to buy for… whether you don’t know them well enough, or they have everything, or, well, you know what I’m sayin’. So… you get them soap. Right? Now I’m not dissin’ that idea. Personally, I LOVE getting nice soap as a gift b/c it is something I would just never splurge on for myself. And let’s face it, whether it’s luxurious, smells fab, or is just silly, it’s fun to use something beyond the standard wash-up. That being said, did you know that there are gazillions of little soap-making enterprises out there? And the creativity is WILD. As pictured above, you’ll a find wonderfully crafted (and vegan!) tray of sushi soaps…

…or for the naughty one in your life, lumps of coal soap…

…for the Christmas traditionalist, Linzer Tart Cookie soaps…

…sophisticated types? crafty yummy stacks

…gangstas and Second Amendment freaks…a handgun that won’t hurt anyone…

…teenage girl or any cutie pie…cupcake soaps…

little kids or playful adults… SHARK soaps!

I could go on. And on, and on. Soap’s a plenty over on Etsy… an affordable, unique handmade gift or stocking stuffer. If the link above is in the seller’s “sold” list, just go back to their main shop page, they’ve probably listed more. To find your own endless stream of cool soaps, get on Etsy, choose “Handmade” and search for soap.

A Few of My Favorite Things #11

So whatcha gonna do with all that great art you’re buying folks for the holidays… present it to them with a roll of masking tape, junior high-school style? NO YOU ARE NOT! I’ve purchased frames from 2 Dogs Woodworking and when I paid their shop a visit again for this post I saw things like the frames pictured above (gothic whimsy?!) and below that make me want to buy more art, just so I can frame it!

I think they call this one The Jetsons, but to me it’s got a cool PeeWee Herman vibe going on. The frames come with glass and hanging stuff, btw. They have loads of great colors and this one could probably be done in any combo you want.

Above is the style I bought, basic, but gorgeous, and perfect for the art I was framing for the BF’s Chanukah present. Not only can you buy standard sized frames from 2Dogs but they will also customize anything you need and are really terrific to work with. I got a single frame with 3 openings, came out beautiful. Maybe I’ll snap a pic of it tomorrow… too danged tired tonite!

A Few of My Favorite Things #10

I am not sure if this is a post about a) one of my favorite artists, Andy Warhol, or b) One of my favorite objects (ever), a commissioned work of art by c) another of my favorite artists, John Larriva. Let’s go with b and c.

A long while ago I asked John Larriva–who seems to no longer be listing his hopgoblins along with his wonderful paintings in his Etsy shop–if he’d create one such toy based on my hero, the aforementioned Andy W. After bugging him to death about it, and then quickly realizing the absolute genius of his creation, I’ve now, 1.5 years later, FINALLY made the little film of this object, see above.

Because it all happens so fast (my FIRST movie, don’t bust my chops! Plus, Mr. Warhol was NOT cooperating and kept losing his eyeglasses and/or leaping off the stage set) I’ve included a still, above, so you can really see what Mr. Larriva’s work is made of. The wig absolutely kills me.

You’ll have to dig back into Larriva’s sold archives to find the other wind-ups he’s sold via Etsy, including the hopping Denis Hopper, pictured above. Which I think I first saw on April Winchell’s Regretsy site. Denis may be in her collection of objécts.

As for what compelled me to commission a hopping Warhol is anyone’s guess. You have to admit, Andy would have lurved it. Oh, and PS: None other than Interview Magazine contacted me recently about publishing some jewelry! Waiting to see if it will happen, but seriously! Just sayin’!

A Few of My Favorite Things #9

I adore the work of Catherine Zacchino, aka Junker Jane, another wonderful Portland artist. Two of her lovely dollies reside in my personal collection of cherished monsters. Pictured above is the charming Monster Dounia, resplendent in her tattered costume.

And here is Monster Dilly, another sweetie. Zacchino’s work is widely published in crafts mags and blogs, and it’s no wonder. Her pieces are not only brilliantly imagined, the execution is flawlessly flawed, perfectly imperfect and distressed just-so. The fabrics, colorways and hairstyles make me swoon. Low brow, new brow, monobrow… whatever, the love and care that goes into each of these handcrafted objects make them well worth the fair prices. Also in the shop are original paintings and prints.

Shop now, the dolls go super fast, and Junker Jane is currently offering both FREE shipping AND 10% off. Go on now, get outta here.

Heavy Metal: The Results

This is ALMOST finished, still need to protect the patina, but want to let it sit for a week or so before applying a sealer and may also do some work to pull out the dimensionality of the puffed part. There are three of these in the series, this one titled: Why Are You Weeping?

This is my first time using the green patina solution, and it was so exciting. The metal is called NuGold and I did a couple of tests on it before applying to the piece. BTW, this piece is finished on the back with a soldered necklace thingee as well as a soldered pinback. Which was NOT easy to affix, let me tell you.

The chain and findings are all vintage, glass Czech stones, which I hand set… and the blue one has the loveliest givre inclusions in cloudy blue. The chain with the little pink glass stones was gifted to me by one of my dear suppliers.

Stay tuned for more finished things next week, the last week of class. (sad face) I now officially want a hydraulic press for the home studio. Do you hear that Santa? (Yes, suddenly and conveniently I’m celebrating Christmas). I’d like to do even more of these, perhaps with riveting instead of soldering since I’m not yet ready to torch solder at home. Rivets ’round the flat edge would look great.

A Few of My Favorite Things #8

Let’s just file this one under: Trippin’ with Tripper. Ok. When I hit the lottery, I’m gonna buy out Tripper Dungan’s Etsy shop, hang some of his amazing art on my walls, and give the rest to all my cool friends. Yeah, that’s right. Pictured above, Sing it Out.

I suppose this work falls under the pop surrealism category, but whatever, I just dig it a LOT. And, are you ready for this? These original paintings–done oustsider-and-sustainable-style on hand-shaped salvaged wood–are 3-FREAKING-D!!!!!; and come with glasses so you can get the whole trippin’ effect. You can also visit Mr. Dungan over at his website, where you’ll find links to other cool artists, a full-on bio and artist’s statement, as well as links to his music (altho that crashed my browser so I haven’t given a listen yet) and his blog. That oughtta keep you cats busy for a spell. Pictured above, Pink Space Cat Head.

A Few of My Favorite Things #7

There is no dress, no piece of jewelry, not even a hat that will transform your look like the right (or even wrong!) wig. From my limited, but outrageously fun personal experience, these accoutrements not only transform your appearance; a wig will completely transform YOU.

And… as long you’re willing to go for such an extreme make-over, why not go all the way? Pictured above is one of Sweet Hayseed’s works of art, the Victoria Valentino Art Wig.

Admittedly, I could rock this ‘do (The Jungle Sun Sprite Wig, also from Sweet Hayseed) just by letting my hair Jew-fro grow out again, etc, etc… but I’m just digging the e-z short style too much. Besides, keeping it short means it will fit better under… that’s right, WIGS! Because you know that in reality, I’m just an old Drag Supastar! For more wigs, and because you know you wanna, try another favorite shop of mine, Fifi Mahoney’s, down in Nola, where they surely know how to do parade-quality hair.

A Few of My Favorite Things #4

I’ve posted links to this shop before, but I just can’t stay away from Junkprints, whose shop tagline is “Clothing, Accessories, Art and General Dopeness.” To that, I’d say, yup. The hand-printed cuffs, pictured above, would look so adorable with a sleeveless top, or peeking out from under a suit jacket, don’t you think? The pair listed is man-sized, at 10.5 inches, so guys, get your riot on.

The genius grrl behind JunkPrints is Chanel Kennebrew. Her bio describes her work as “…smarter than fashion, less pretentious than art, looser than design and good for the soul,” and lists The Democratic Convention and Lady Gaga amongst her clientele. Everyone from The New York Times to ReadyMade mag has given props to this one-woman creative powerhouse of handcraft. Pictured above is the Smile Now Die Later pin, just $7. Perfect stocking stuffer ya’ll.

A Few of My Favorite Things #3

I had the pleasure of seeing Andrew Zangerle’s work in real life at Renegade Craft Fair in Brooklyn this year and when I got home I found his shop–The Maple Ridge–on Etsy. Pictured above, The Music Couple, hand-sculpted and hand-painted and just 2.5 inches tall. Not only are these little guys so darkly adorable and amazingly crafted, the text descriptions of each couple are fantastical and hilarious little short stories that breathe even more life into Zangerle’s work. You’ll also find his equally charming and subversive original drawings (with great text) for sale. Support artists for the holidays (and every day)!

Mad Day of Making

Taking a break from an intense day in the studio to survey my progress and share it with you.

This is Lawrence Moth, one of about 5 that are in various stages of completion. He’s a brooch with a slightly shorter wingspan than the necklace version. This is heavy duty old tin, tough to cut!

This is a new brooch, a Chanukah gift for someone special.

Second little book charm, will be punched for a necklace. This one has a bit of a gardening theme.

I couldn’t decide which piece to use for front vs. back, so this is the back.

A Few of My Favorite Things, #2

What is NOT to love?
Football legend, and all around super great guy, Rosey Grier gets major props for being the first big man to publicly attest to the fabulousness that is stitch-craft. This collectible how-to book, Needlepoint for Men, published in 1973, is available from vintage store Retro Vertigo. If you buy it, don’t tell me b/c I will have to destroy you. JK, if you can afford it, please give it a good home. BTW RetroVertigo is jam packed with amazing finds… from vintage psyche ward drug cups (bulk lot!) to an amazing collection of vintage mugshots.

If contemporary manbroidery intrigues you (and why wouldn’t it?), you should also head over to Mr. X Stitch, a wonderful blog run by another big stitchy man (and a Brit!), Jamie Chalmers along with co-conspirateur, the amazingly talented Beefranck, where you’ll find graffiti patterns, hilarious (and R-rated) samplers and other stitchgasms.

It was over at Mr. X Stitch that I learned about Fine Cell Work, an organization that trains prisoners in the UK in paid, skilled, creative needlework to foster hope, discipline, and self esteem. The beautiful work, like the pillow pictured above, is for sale on their site.

A Few of My Favorite Things, #1

Three Little Kittens, by clothmoth on Etsy.

This is the first in a series of once-per-day posts through the entire month of December in order to share with you some of the things that I love, and to assist you in tracking down some of the best of the best of the handcrafted (and maybe vintage) marketplace.

shop is full of sweet, gorgeously crafted and slightly twisted dolls, with a sprinkling of original art works also for sale… very dreamlike and sensitive graphite drawings. In her profile, clothmoth describes taking inspiration from animals, and notes that she is a member of the Etsy Ugly Cute Team!


Born in Ontario, Canada in 1934, the Dionne quintuplets were the first set of quints known to survive their infancy. Four months after their birth, their parents were deemed unfit and the five girls were made wards of the King and moved into a specially built compound where they lived for 9 years.

At that point, the government began to profit from them by making them into a significant tourist attraction. Approximately 6000 visitors per day arrived at the observation gallery surrounding the sister’s outdoor playground at Quintland turning the children into a $500 million dollar industry rivaling Niagra Falls.

In birth order the identical quintuplets were: Yvonne, Annette, Cécile, Emilie and Marie. A sixth baby was stillborn.

The year of their birth a set of five souvenir collectible spoons was issued by Carlton Silverplate.

In 1954 Emilie Dionne joined a convent in Ste Agathe, north of Montreal. In August of that year, she died alone in her bed, suffocating to death during an epileptic seizure. The Dionnes had kept her “shameful” condition of epilepsy a secret.

The spoons are highly detailed, with a front/back depiction of each sister in a polka dot dress, along with her name.

Bracelet from forged spoon, with 6 sisterly beaded/charmed dangles and a mourning ribbon affixed. Four other bracelets in progress.

Two of the sisters, Annette and Cecile, are alive today.

More WIP & the Fear Factor

These are unfinished works in progress (WIP). Piece pictured above is a necklace and has been on the design boards in my studio for months. Yesterday, I figured out how I wanted the various elements to come together. These elements are so special, a handblown large glass bead, a rusted CrackerJack prize. Another aspect to working with these highly precious (to me) ancient found objects is a fear factor as I start to manipulate them… a fear of punching the wrong hole, of ruining something. It’s really scary at times, in a sort of exhilarating way.

Although I work really fast and furiously at times (and some pieces come together with immediacy), there is an element of patience that is underneath a lot of the work… materials lie in wait, a concept develops, and very often objects are moved around, pulled out, put in… then at some point I just know that I’m ready to start fabricating. Interestingly, some of the pieces that go more quickly often require adjusting and reworking after they are “finished,” ie, they really weren’t (finished).

This is a necklace focal that I haven’t quite figured out what to do with yet.

The centerpiece is one of those amazing beads I used in a ring pictured in an earlier post. Decided I actually like these much better un-patina’d. Sometimes ya gotta just stop splashing the patina around.

This piece is truly unfinished, a brooch that is in progress. The reclaimed tin focal is finished (and I love the fact that it’s a picture of embroidery lithgraphed onto tin), but the dangles aren’t. One thing I know is that the left and right dangles have to switch positions. A different tooth may replace the little pewter tooth charm.

I do know that the name of this piece is Home Sweet Home. I want it to be both sugary and ominous. I think it’s getting there.

In Miniature

I have loved miniatures since I was a child. BFF, Amy, will likely remember our mutual love of collecting all things lilliputian, and to this day I am still drawn to dollhouse furnishings and other teenies.

I made this tiny book charm yesterday, it is only about 1.25 inches tall. Reclaimed tin and newspaper; the hope is that the wearer will add to the pages by scribbling and collaging, so that the work becomes his/her own. As always, many problems to solve with this, but now that I have, making more should flow much more easily.

I’m not the only one in this family who adores small things. Pictured below, the boyfriend’s collection of itty-bitty commodes. Displayed… where else? On the back of the commode of course!

BaNgLE sTacK 1.0

Been seeing these stacks of fun here and there and decided to try my hand.

My version has a tribal carnival vibe, all colors and tatters.

Some of the goodies included are lovely glass beads, sari fiber from India, brass African bead, vintage glass dice, a pretty piece of driftwood, a bone skull and a pair of gorgeous handcrafted clay beads by Marsha Neal. Maybe this is a new version of the charm bracelet.

Balance was an issue again, weighting these so that the heavy side doesn’t always swing to the bottom was key. I loved choosing the beads and charms and wrapping the fibers and wire. Plans afoot (ahand?) for more soon.

Lost & Found

I love found objects and lately have been seeing a lot of images of little curated collections by artists who share my passion for hunting and gathering. This is my first of hopefully many such entries, a small composition of items picked up from the ground whilst out and about. The entire collection above was scored in the parking lot of Grainger Tool Supply. These items were all within just several feet of each other. Two bits of rusted wire, as-found, 3 small cherry red plastic bits, a scratched watch hand.

Here is a piece from my personal collection of found object jewelry; I wear this one a lot.

Grunge-tarnished vintage rhinestone princess necklace (probably 40’s – 50’s) with tortured little vintage metal heart locket.

Some artists on Etsy sell their little curated images, others sell supplies and present them as beautiful images. Above is one of my favorites, Jetsam & Juniper.

J&J specialize in industrial scrap found in/around Chicago, a piece of which I used in Vacant Lot in Bronzeville, pictured above.

Another of my favorite Etsy scavengers is Treasure Hider, who is somewhat local to me here in MD, out on the Eastern shore. Her images are as lovely and thoughtful as the little collections available for purchase.

Cloud #23

Made this yesterday with tin printing plates scored during a press check. This is my favorite tin piece thusfar and will be a series, no doubt. I’ve been working with this shape in metal class too, puffing the clouds on the hydraulic. Pics to come!

The polka dot bead was etched and is suspended on wire so that it spins. Loving the idea of jewelry that not only look like toys, but that have some sort of playful or comtemplative action. Other materials include tiny black glass vintage (possibly Victorian) button, labradorite, and a sweet little vintage metal tack.

New, WIP, and BETTER Photos

So, this post will NOT feature the work I’ve been doing in metalsmithing class… this is work I’ve been doing at home DURING the period of the metalsmithing class. There is so much that I want to say about jewelry, about art, about making and selling. But I’m going to save that for another time, and just get these images up to share. Here is a link to my flickr site where they will also be uploaded full size. Suffice to say, this has been a year of being a student again. Learning new craft and technique, pushing myself hard, getting beyond what I’ve accomplished to date. I hope these pictures will speak mostly for themselves as I need a BREAK from writing about myself!

Also, I moved out of my office and into my cozy home office a year ago… and since then, my photos have SUCKED EGGS. At the old office, I had fabulous windows and tons of natural light. Here in the basement, neither. (I often think of myself as a little mushroom down here.) But enough IS ENOUGH. I just set up a little photo station in the only place in this house that has natural light streaming in (the jewelry studio! duh!) and I’m happy with the results. Also, after experimenting with props and backgrounds I’ve decided: I’m a white seamless kinda girl. Or is that a seamless kinda white girl? I just like the way the work looks without all the fussery. Anyway, here it is. Some of these are WIP (works in progress).

Introducing… Trevor Moth. I’m making up a bunch of these and they’ll be strung on simple aged chains. Look for these on So Charmed, hopefully soon. They are so labor intensive and I’m having trouble with pricing (as always).

What we Found in the Sandbox
. Mixed media, fibers, rust.

Sexy close up.

The focal is plastic, which means it’s super lightweight. The problem to solve was one of balance, it took several tries before this necklace hung properly. I test drive the complex necklaces, and other pieces to make sure they wear well.

There’s a little vintage rubber toy tire with a glass bead suspended. Suspension is something I’m playing with.

James Moth. He was my first. Was still learning my way through eyelets and rivets.

Spent a good part of a day on this guy. Trevor came along quicker.

Mrs. Eaves. A necklace named after a font named after a woman and designed by Zuzana Licko.

My company prior to designfarm, studio 405, had a logo utilzing the special st ligature built into the font. There’s a pic of the lig on the df blog.

This is what Mrs. Eaves (the lady, not the font) would look like if she were a necklace. My most proud moment pictured above, a very vintage glass bead suspended into a very vintage metal garter.

Ring and bracelet in progress. Stacks of these bracelets for sale at So Charmed, eventually. Really love making these. This bracelet has a little whatchamathingee… you know those electrical capacitors.

The ring features this CRAZY metal bead, it’s the anti-diamond ring. OMG, one of my favorite things ever.

I Like Bones & Candy.

Made this after visiting an anthropologist friend who spends a lot of time in Papua New Guinea (a place I’m longing to go). He has a collection of amazing beaded artifacts and from these I got the idea to make this beaded clasp. Mine features a tiny Victorian porcelain button. This was not easy to do properly! The polka dotted focal is made from camel bone. Ugh, I know. But it was irresistible.

This one speaks to me of Coraline and all things Tim Burton. So I named it Coraline’s Heart.

Big learning curve on this; endless hours. I could do another one faster, but not sure I will. I get so easily bored and have too many ideas to just repeat things. This is both a delight and a liability as I never want to part with anything, nor do I feel up to making another. AGHHHHH.

I seem to love me some polka dots, don’t I? This is the reverse of Coraline.

Ok, so that’s it! I want to redesign the blog to hold larger photos, these are still not looking wonderful at these sizes. But over on flickr you can see them full size and without all my blathering.

Heavy Metal

For my birthday this year, the BF lovingly gave me the gift of tuition for Metalsmithing for Jewelry, Course AR229 at Montgomery College, Rockville Campus. For you non-locals, this is a small community college, about which I had a very snobbish attitude… with my year at RISD, my art degree from UMD, and my decades in the practice of making. Hmmph. But from day one, the experience has exceeded every possible expectation, connecting me again with being an art student, the exhilirating anxiety of classroom learning, term-paper writing, and pushing oneself so far outside of one’s self-imposed boundaries and comfort zones as to literally feel stretched of mind and body.

The metal studio shares a hallway with the drawing studios, and as I’m often a few minutes early, I love seeing the amazing work being done by these first year (mostly 18-year-old) students. The intense and brooding portrait above, hanging in the showcase this morning, is particularly impressive.

Sometimes I file a piece I’m working on while I’m waiting for Tom (aka Mr. Tom) to arrive.

Mr. Tom, a senior practicum student, seems to have some sort of special permission to obtain a key and open the studio door before our teacher arrives.

Allow me to introduce the formidable, extraordinarily talented, world reknowned artist Professor Komelia Okim. Who does not like it when Mr. Tom shows us how to do stuff! Prof Okim makes us feel very nervous and stupid at times, esp. when she is yelling at us to TURN DOWN THE FLAMES… but I think she is just anxious about the serious trouble we newbies are going to get ourselves into, whereby she will be calling for emergency back-up on the bat phone (see below, only used once thusfar in our class! But still!). The professor, who built this remarkable studio and metalsmithing program from the ground up like 40 years ago… also makes us laugh a lot.

The first day of class, we were introduced to The Guillotine, pictured below, for cutting through our heavy sheets of metal. I was seriously terrified, but mastered it quickly enough. Now I can’t believe it ever scared me as it’s the easiest thing in the studio.

That was the day we also learned how to use a jeweler’s saw, each of us breaking a half-dozen or more of the teeny weeny blades and several of us (yours truly for sure) feeling burning tears of frustration well up. What a bad bad idea this class was! Could I get my the BF’s money back?

Pictured above is my bench, which I think I sort of stole from my friend and classmate Ellen back in the beginning of the semester (Ellen, I’m so sorry!), and it has become my little cozy spot for working. I’ve been compiling a list of tools and supplies for the home studio, including the V-pin, as noted above. One of the more affordable essentials!

This is one of eight torch-soldering stations. Soldering is difficult, really tricky. Last week I had a HUGE breakthrough, and just sort of got it. Temperature control, and dextrous manipulation of molten objects and materials without setting your hair and eyelashes on fire. Yep, got it! Just remember: Red = gas, green = air! Lefty Lucy, righty tighty. Right? AND TURN DOWN THAT FLAME BEFORE YOU BURN THE STUDIO TO THE GROUND!

After using the fire to anneal or solder, your piece will go in the pickle pot. There are no pickles in the pickle pot. Just hot acid. Sorry.

The sheer number of machines, hand tools, chemicals and other scary fascinating stuff in the studio is really off the hook. The machine above is for grinding/sharpening/cleaning the metal BBQ skewers you are going to use while soldering. Sparks fly when you do this. Which is sorta cool.

Pictured above, my most dreaded and feared machine… a saw/sewing machine that seriously desires to cut your fingers off one by one and enjoy doing so. I just can’t seem to warm up to this thing and hyperventilate while having to use it. Which probably doesn’t help.

Now this fella, I love! I love the hydraulic press (above) so much in fact, that I’m looking into a desktop model for the studio at home. So what this amazing thing does is puff your annealed (torch-softened) metal into a little pillow, in any shape you’ve designed. The puffy objects I’m working on make me laugh and smile, they are just… silly and wonderful. The whole concept of metal behaving like fabric is mind blowing and inspiring. I could do this all day long.

Before you puff your metal, you might texture it with the tools pictured above. This is fun and easy, and really the only technique I was familiar with from a bit of stamping I’d done at home.

Prof. Okim likes to tell me to save my scraps, but I generally can’t be bothered with these little razor sharp bits that could send you off to the hospital for stitches in a heartbeat. Pictured above is the scrap box… I understand there is someone who recycles it for cash. Good for him, and be careful!

Another delightful spot in the studio is The Stump Room. Here you’ll find actual tree stumps into which someone has hand-carved lovely little rounded divets of varying depths for forming metals into bowls. I am working on one such bowl, hours and hours and hours of labor. At one point I thought: Why am I doing this? I could buy this bowl at Target for 99 cents instead of sitting here like Fred Flinstone hammering a resistant piece of metal into a… wait, this bowl is sooooooo cool. I hold it in my hands and CAN’T BELIEVE I made it. My mom saw the bowl this weekend and she couldn’t stop holding and petting it. I mean it’s just a bowl but it was once a solid flat sheet of metal!

There’s a whole cabinet of hammers and mallets, and it’s fun to sit in here pounding away. Prof. Okim tells us to work out our frustrations on these stumps!

Vice on Stump. I can’t say why this amuses me so. I need a good vice at home also. And a stump for that matter.

Speaking of amusing, these girls, best-friends Aidan and Lizzie, just absolutely kill me. Aidan is a seriously talented artist (and super funny) who will go on to make some spectacular things… and Lizzie… well, she is SUCH a delightful troublemaker. Can’t you see that glint in her eye? PLUS, she thought I was in my 30’s!! I love these teenagers! They make me laugh and have been great company through this incredibly challenging class.

Pictured above, my benchmate neighbor, and friend, Tiffany, who is desperately awaiting the NBA to settle their nonsense so life can return to normal (the BF concurs), and who is always good for a field trip to the school store for supplies and a soda. Tiffany and I struggled with those jewelry saws together and I truly admire her perseverance and good humor. This class is not for the faint of heart and Tiffany will flash me a smile and just keep on working away at her projects.

Two and a half hours in the metal studio goes quickly. Suddenly, it’s time to clean up for the next batch of would-be jewelers, and for me, time to make the 45-minute drive home to walk dogs and eat lunch, to my work for designfarm, to my daughter, my “real” life. As I head across the parking lot on a chilly fall day, the sky is the same gray blue I remember it being in the month or so before Providence would become uninhabitable and frozen. And, I can’t help but feel very changed by those 2.5 hrs in Room 302. Regardless of my state of mind on any morning, I enter feeling a little nervous, somewhat incapable, femme-y and weak. Always though, I leave feeling accomplished, powerful, capable. And there is an exciting sense of miles and miles of road untravelled, with many creative adventures just waiting to be had.

Stay tuned for pictures of the work, some of which is pretty good! Some, not so much. But I’ll share it all with you dear readers.