I have a love/hate relationship with polymer clay. After shunning it for years based on my perception of the overly cutesy-wootsy suburban housewife crafter (gingerbread men) and psychedelic hippie (cane) aesthetics, I’m here to tell you, polymer has come into its own. This is my second foray into this medium, the beads above were made a few weeks ago. And they got me very excited indeed about the possibilities for this medium.
As I set about to experiment again with polymer clay, I came up initially with the pieces above. I felt they were okay-ish. But they somehow felt a little safe. The leaves were beginning to have a nice, burnt feeling to them and I went on to create the entire suite of components below (Burnt Offerings collection).
What you can see here is my experiments in both surface texture and coloration. Do I start with dark or light clay? Paint it? Powder it? Gold leaf it? Smash it, scratch it, etch it, impress upon it, embed into it, bake it, carve it? The answer is yes! All of the above and more! Polymer is a really forgiving and soft surface, and therein lies its beauty and frustration. You can get GREAT results. If you handle it after you do, those results will smooth back out quickly. It seemed like starting with a batch of small components was a great way to experiment without wasting supplies.
Of course, you know me. Attention span of a gnat. Easily bored. Gotta go over the top. The above/below piece is a focal for a bracelet, entitled Octopus’s Garden. It has holes on either side to attach chain or ribbon, and a nice curve for the wrist achieved by baking it over a soda can. Features some of the burnt leaves poking out of a dark and spooky garden. With a squid tentacle and of course bling/sparkle/glitz. Because I can’t help myself! Darkness and light, people, darkness and light.
I did not invent any of the techniques you see in use in these pieces… they are out there for the grabbing… all over YouTube. I probably watched about 8 hours of how-to videos over the course of a week while I was working on these pieces and collecting up some supplies. Just go over to the site and search for polymer clay, it will all come up. And you can follow links in the videos for additional blog posts.
Most supplies are available at any craftstore; I went to Michael’s. I also stood in the aisle and read most of a polymer clay how-to book, so as to not have to buy it. Picked up some valuable tips! It was a full immersion into the medium… and I’ve still got a very long way to go with results. I like what I’ve done, but I’m still working it out.
Having started with black clay, it was challenging to get any contrast going with the textures/colors. Although it’s even more challenging to photograph these, and they actually have a LOT of coloration. Above you see experiments with a sparkly white clay, as well as embedding a vintage image under a glass dome. I think it’s important to mix polymer clay beads in with other kinds of beads as you see in the curation above (which will be a necklace) entitled For Amusement Only (imprinted on the vintage brass carnival token also pictured).
So, this is as far as I’ve gotten with this round of polymer. I’m pleased and excited to make more things. There are some truly amazing polymer artists out there who make the clay look like everything from metal to raku-fired pieces. I’m no expert, but if you decide to play, feel free to get in touch with me; I’d love to chat! Unless you decide to make ginger-bread men… then I don’t really want to hear from you. JUST KIDDING!!!!
PS: I have not yet bought the requisite pasta machine for kneading and rolling clay. I’m not sure I’ll need one for the small batches of work I’ll do.
Sometimes the thriftstore is just magical. Often, as I’m driving over I’m thinking about the things I “need” and all too often, those items are there for the finding. You guys know I’m on a big grunge kick, and that means old flannel shirts. The above, scored for $6–which truthfully, I feel is a lot at Value Village–has a dirty 70’s vibe I could not resist. Foolish? Well folks, you can pay $6 or you can head over to Urban Outfitters and pay $49. I left at least 7 other flannels on the racks, and I’m sure they’ll be stocking ’em all winter so go grab one, or two, or three. Take that UO!
I was also longing for jewelry supplies. The knotted vintage double-strand choker above features heavy white glass beads and gorgeous rhinestone rounds. Cost: $2.99. You can pay that much and more for a single rhinestone bead and there are six of them on this necklace. Since I’m into these vintage sparkles in my recent work, my intention was to pull this apart.
Grunged tribal Talhakimt earrings–Write Yr Story–with black diamond vintage rhinestones above would look great with this shirt and necklace combo.
Amazing necklace above is a strand of Czech glass beads in the sweetest delicate shade of pale blue givre, with a little iridescent pink flash. Between each bead, a rhinestone rhondelle! Price: $3.99. Again, I intended to release this strand into my supply stash until I tried the damn thing on. Both necklace finds: definite keepers. Oh, and these rondelles, purchased new, are at least $1 ea, sometimes more. I think there are about 40 on this strand.
The Titanicaearrings incorporate rhinestone rondelles, except these are SQUAREDELLES… and how cool is that?! With the best bead caps I’ve ever found–0nce shiny gold brass, they now display a great crusty hand-applied patina.
The ombre flannel above was brand new with tags and thusly priced through the roof at $10. Since these vintage-styled flannels (let alone actual vintage ones) are harder to come by, I bit the bullet and paid. It’s gorgeous, perfectly oversized, super soft. The necklace above ($3.99) has a great industrial romantic look. I immediately thought about pulling it apart to make earrings. But yeah, you got it. I tried it on… and… CRAP! More jewelry for me! Just what I don’t need. (sigh)
The Rose Garden earrings would be sweet with the ombre flannel with just enough grunge and sparkle. The large glass beads (Czech) are really the bomb. With irregular hand-cut facets, soft rosy coloration and a splash of iridescence… bohemian gypsy chic. The earring collection will be updated weekly for awhile, so I hope you’ll check often.
Also this weekend, a little denim repair a la boro and sashiko with some lovely red flannel. I hope to do a post about my obsession with Japanese stitchery soon.
You know, way back in the ’90’s. Nirvana, Marc Jacobs, flannel, old boots. Well, it became a thing, but I’m old enough to tell you it was there long before Vogue mag declared it a fashion thing. I think by that time, I’d been shopping for clothes primarily in thrift stores for 2-3 decades, favoring girly dresses with combat boots for awhile. And I wasn’t the only one before this was co-opted by the media machine.
The preference for things worn, used, tattered and torn–objects with a previous life, a history, with distress, destruction, and survival felt natural to me as a form of escape from mall-ified suburban America. So, what does it mean when we MAKE things that are new appear very old (above)? Thrifstores–once filled with glamorous 40’s gowns and beaded cashmere sweaters–are palaces of polyester these days. There are crusty jewelry parts coming out of Russia and Afghanistan these days, rather than Value Village… the cost is a bit prohibitive on most of it.
This is shiny new brass. Un-grunged. It’s soaking in dish soap to remove oils so that the chemical agents can do their job. This does not always work, but it’s a good place to start. I can’t imagine using it in its glittering raw state for much of anything. But transforming these pieces is a metal adventure.
Above are bits and pieces in the process of destruction. It’s messy and sometimes stinks like rotten eggs. It’s incredibly unpredictable, which is both a frustration and a huge part of the allure. Without knowing the exact composition of the metal you are trying to distress (copper? brass? nickel? steel?)… it’s impossible to predict which chemical might have an effect, and just what that effect will be. There is a lot of scrubbing and soaking, wiping/sanding and re-soaking to achieve a great patina (the professional term for grunged out metal).
I use chemicals made by a company called Jax. They are hazmat so I order up a few bottles have them all shipped at once. It’s hard not to think of the chemicals as precious, so when I start patina-ing, I run around my studio throwing everything in sight into the soup. Jax makes many different solutions for many different metals… I stock about 4-5 of these and use them interchangeably, sloppily, and without any prescription or recipe.
I’m really loving the verdigris patina lately. After a long while of this not seeming to work, I’ve got it DOWN, getting awesome results. Again, not predictable, with verything from pale blues to deep turquoise, to weird shades of green appearing randomly.
Brass bits are cheaply procured, but I think most of these pieces use very old dies. Using patina brings out the original workmanship, missing entirely from a glaring gold surface. Just look at those tiny swags… SO CUTE! But they just look crappy in gold.
Not to be contradictory about the gold, I sometimes throw gold leaf into these designs, furthering the look of a decayed gilded age. These Belle Epoch earrings also have RAW ruby dangles… raw stones are grunge, tumbled are not! So yes, I’m removing gold, then adding it back in. Seems insane, but is really just so much fun.
So, back to grunge. Since the 80’s, I’ve never stopped loving tartan; this is a dress I made last summer from the softest flannel and a daisy chain of feedsack fabric yo-yo’s (30’s-40’s).
And I’ll admit, I loved the Jacobs collection in the 90’s; I didn’t resent the elevation of streetwear to high fashion. It’s what always happens and sometimes the results are truly great. Above is another dress I made this summer… the delicate very sheer plaid voile fabric is by Marc Jacobs, a self-referential nod, don’t you think? Plaid looks great with florals and lace.
The September earrings would look so good with that dress! Should I keep them? The bead caps on these things are RIDICULOUS. Very medieval or something. And yep, they were super shiny gold, now covered with crusty soot. The beads are palest blue lace agate and Picasso-finished Czech glass beads.
This bangle stack was made for a client this summer, a gift to someone special. I do these mostly by commission, so email me if you’re interested. They feature tarnished bangles from India, reclaimed sari silk, and lots of other beads and elements. Grungy, bohemian cool.
Here’s a recent photo I’m very taken with. Bratty children can be extremely grunge. Their hands sticky, their hair chopped. Their ragged mismatched clothing. The colors above are my palette of teal, rose, gold. You can find images like this over on my Pinterest boards.
I’ll be rocking my grungy jewelry in massive layers this fall. I’ll wear too many necklaces (including this one that features a destroyed Cadillac hood ornament! The other is an old Afghani treasure that was falling apart and I sort of patched it back together), WITH earrings AND bracelets. Yeah, grunge was a thing. I’m glad it still is.
I never (ever) let people into the jewelry studio. If you’ve been inside (and you know who you are) consider yourself mightily privileged. It’s not that there are secrets, but it is just a crazy mess of supplies, with ideas crowding out the space and threatening to use up all the available oxygen. I’m afraid if you see it, you’ll know just how insane I really am. And with that, Our Lady of Beads welcomes you to this rare peek.
With detours into many techniques and stylistic persuasions, in the end it’s all about the beads. A sick sort of addiction to beads.
Areas of the studio are covered with random weird shit that may or may not make it into a project and that I find simultaneously stimulating and at times completely suffocating. Like… WHERE’s THE WHITE SPACE??? There simply isn’t any.
Anything here is likely making it into the most recent work… sort of in development and getting closer to actually becoming wearable.
Area devoted to patina. It’s filthy, gross and wonderful. And stinky.
Gold leaf station and minor-league soldering. Crossstitch in the background by Julie Jackson of Subversive Crossstitch.
It’s not all chaos; the vast majority of beads are filed into fishing tackle boxes. Now numbering about 80 (boxes) each with 30 +/- compartments, and pretty much full to capacity. Two baker’s shelves hold the boxes and although I don’t have anything resembling a photographic memory, I can put my hands on any of the specific beads, charms and findings herein. Really.
Work surface where the tiniest of beads won’t go rockin’ and rollin’ onto the floor. I admit to being crazy-jealous of the beautiful studios pictured on Etsy, but you know, in the final analysis I’ve accepted that in order for me to create anything–jewelry, sewing, a life–things just gonna get MESSY! And that’s… Ok. Isn’t it?
Tools. I do like tools.
And finally, when an actual piece of jewelry emerges from this chaotic mess, it will be photographed here in my super fancy high-end photography studio, where I just pray for decent lighting and take my best shot. Harhar, get it??
So yeah. Pretty stuff does come out of all this. Pictured above, Everlasting earrings. I love the verdigris I achieved on these, combined with all those precious beads and rough rubies. Find these and the rest of the fruits of my labor over at So Charmed.
Would you share your studio spaces with the world? Go on, I dare you! Comments welcome…
In my work as a designer, both my professional communications design and jewelry design, one of my very favorite aspects has always been the toggle between big picture thinking and small detail management. I’ll assert that having a love and capacity for both aspects of design is a rarity for the creative soul. For me, it took decades to reconcile the fact that I feel most deeply satisfied when both left-brain (creative) and right-brain (reasoned) thinking come into play. I like to make a mess, but I like to clean it up too. I love big ideas but I love tiny little decisions as well. I believe this series of new necklaces exemplifies what I’m talking about. Click on the images to see them much larger or visit with them on my flickr.
My strategic communications work is always in service of a story; whether about meetings for healthcare professionals or the annual findings of a trade association… a narrative unfolds in words and pictures, often with an actionable objective: Enroll, donate, attend. With jewelry, I’m up to the same kind of storytelling, although it tends more toward abstraction. Nothing compares to the excitement of ideas and meaning. I believe this is what we think of when we talk about design. What is the story we are telling, and, importantly why, and to whom?
Making connections is part of this concept process, in communications I connect text with images in creative ways and with jewelry, I make, source, and bring together disparate elements… often from countries thousands of miles apart, and decades that now fall across two or even three different centuries. An early plastic button from the 1940’s or a glass Victorian one, beads from Africa, tassels from Asia, mid-century American toys, the tin lid of an oil can from India… how can these things possibly tell one story? With jewelry, the stories are sometimes gathered over years and finally come together unexpectedly. This is the part that seems magical (but isn’t, imho).
Once the elements are selected, located, obtained or made, the right-brain engages as I work out actual construction issues. Whether I’m creating style sheets in InDesign, or linking fine threads to metal… problems must be solved at a more micro level. I find this to be the most challenging place in the process; the place where I may want to turn away from the project and find something new to conceptualize, because that’s just so much more fun and flows more fluidly for me. That said, this construction place is also the land of greatest reward (soldering, for example!). When I stick to it and make something impossible work, I am so damn proud of myself! the storytelling comes easily and readily, like breathing. Am I lucky or cursed?
The final stage, or production, is the most micro of all. This is the time where most of the big picture problems are solved (though sometimes these can change even at this point) and where I buckle down to wrap tiny strands of thread around and around for hours, detangling as I go, or sit quietly and sew on minuscule beads one at a time, perhaps I’m styling text for hours on end, bold, italic, larger, smaller. I generally and truly delight in the zen of this work, though too much of it becomes boring and my mind will start to itch. This is why it’s great to have several projects going at once, a brochure being designed, another being produced… necklace concepts coming together, materials arriving from distant lands, pieces being made and photographed and shared.
Which stage(s) of design and making do you love most? Where do you have to push through difficulty or boredom? How does it affect your work? I’d love to hear from you!
Suddenly. In. Love. With. ROCKS!!!!!! Pictured above, from the top: fluorite, blue calcite, citrine (but suspiciously looks like calcite and am contacting dealer about this), raw garnets (!), amazonite and quartz points. Gemstones are MUCH cheaper by the strand, and ebay is a good bet for locating best pricing.
Big batch of Rocking Rings made yesterday, now being varnished to protect the gold leafing and patina work. As soon as they’re dry I’ll start listing. They are really and truly beautiful, if I do say so, and although chunky, very wearable. Earrings are coming next, can’t wait to play with these stones in that context. As always, larger photos up on flickr for your viewing pleasure.
I like to fool myself into thinking that anyone could possibly be interested in my creative process, the inner workings of my designing mind at the earliest stages of making things. Hence, WIP (work in progress). Everything here represents an idea in formulation, not remotely finished.
This is how it begins with earrings. Vast supplies in my studio. Many little things scattered on every available surface. One day the things… they start making their way toward one another as if by some poetic pull. At the top of the post, an Afghani coin finding with brilliant emerald glass, a gear with verdigris patina, an ancient crystal bead and a piece of industrial trash. Above, a newer finding paired with a Mexican milagro.
More Kuchi coins above (these are used in traditional costume including belly dance) with lovely glass rubies, being riveted to a pair of seriously rusted bottle caps scavenged from some American desert. Fiber may be added at some point.
How do these tiny objects — a old discarded button, an African Vaseline trade bead, a bumpy middle Eastern bead, a tiny verdigris sparrow — come together? Some ways might be: color, form, content, texture, juxtoposition of cultures and histories. Things that resonate as similar or opposite, or both. The rule of chance encounters. The joy for me is that I don’t think much about any of this.
Part of it is the trained eye, the practiced hand, designing for years, decades, a lifetime. Part of it might be something inaccessible; dreams, associations. Above, an ancient glass button, possibly 1920’s, likely European, paired with a Mexican heart milagro charm. A tiny visual poem begun, beauty, an adornment.
Making (and attempting to sell) wearable art is an incredibly multi-faceted endeavor. From the creative aspects of designing work that meets my vision to the artful execution of that work, to techy stuff like digital photography and building web pages, the skill-set required would seem daunting if I weren’t just smack in the midst of it daily.
Clothing is challenging to shoot and if there’s one thing to share with you, it’s this: Clothing photos are most effective when brought to life. I’m so lucky to have a beautiful muse living under my very roof.
Even in close-up to show detail, clothing is best photographed on a living being. The photo above was repinned quite a bit over on Pinterest.
I tend to prefer jewelry photos on a white seamless (just a large “press sheet” from my graphic design day job taped to the wall and draped down across a small table). Props can be an asset (or a terrible distraction); I choose mine pretty carefully. Just forget trying to photograph jewelry against black unless you have mad skills and a sophisticated set-up.
Vertical images can be a problem on Web sites, but occasionally it’s useful and fun to provide a wider context.
Once you’ve made something gorgeous and have set up a little photo area, remember that lighting really is everything. I shoot mostly in natural light, no flash, and unless I just can’t wait, in the morning when the sun is not shining into the studio and casting harsh, warm shadows. Correction (both lighting and color) is still always necessary in Photoshop. I prefer bright, cool whites and under the best circumstances in my decidedly unprofessional studio, I must color correct to minimize the warm yellow/red tones and I always must brighten and beef up contrast to get closer to the reality of the goods as they will be depicted onscreen. And it’s true what they say, monitors vary. Greatly. Mine is high end and callibrated but I actually have no idea what YOU are seeing.
Here is a very old thrifted hardback of A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote. A most beautiful story. When I saw this image in PhotoShop I decided I had to title the earrings Yonderways. Happy accident.
With necklaces and longer earrings, the challenge is to show the entire piece but also to capture some of the amazing work in the details. Nothing wrong with a little bead porn.
Then there’s textiles. Sigh. The Snow Dress is a LARGE object to show in very small Web images, so a range of shots is best, as above detailing the vintage lace and neon ribbon, and below in the glamourous model shot.
Photography is such a delight for me. Despite a lot of time studying the subject in college (pre digital, darkroom work, etc.), I still made/make a LOT of very bad photos in order to get to the better ones. The bottom line is this: I don’t believe you need a high-end camera (I use a relatively cheap, old Canon Powershot), nor is a fancy lighting booth required. You do need Photoshop and some basic skills there, so maybe that’s the stumbling block for so many people. Don’t fear the PhotoShop!
Thanks for reading this, and if you have any photography questions, please feel free to comment; I’ll try my best to help! I’ve thought about teaching a little seminar in my studio… maybe one day. Images by yours truly, model: Molly Bess, everything copyrighted but feel free to Pin!
A comment from the mom of the baby whose bracelet is pictured in the below post mentioned that she was considering making a shadowbox to contain the bracelet for display during the years prior to her daughter being able to wear it.
This jogged my memory of creating just such a box when I designed a wedding gift charm bracelet for a friend who I wasn’t sure would be able to wear the chunky bangly thing too often… but might want to display it in her home rather than keeping it in a jewelry box hidden away.
The photos aren’t great, but I hope you get the idea. The raw pine box was purchased inexpensively at Michael’s crafts store and has a glass front door. I stained the box and lined it with pretty craft papers, including a scrap from the actual printed wedding invite, installing two small nails on the back wall for hanging the bracelet.
I then added a few treasures to the bottom floor of the box, a miniature cake and some dried rose petals. I honestly can’t remember if I ever resolved creating a way to hang the box on a wall, or if I just left it as something to display on a shelf or tabletop (probably the latter). I had a moment’s thought to offer these custom boxes for sale along with my charm bracelets, but ultimately decided that the amount of work involved was just beyond what I could probably charge. It isn’t hard, and you CAN do it yourself! If you have any questions or want support with your own shadowbox project, drop me an email any old time! xoxo
I set up shop on Etsy in 2008, 4 years ago. Prior to that, I had been selling jewelry online at So Charmed for 7 years, opening the first incarnation of the site on my birthday, September 2001. For the first couple of years on Etsy my work made loads of treasuries and the coveted front page regularly. Sales were decent. Courtney Love discovered my work on Etsy, ordering enough jewelry in 2009 for me to consider myself “on the Love payroll” for several months. She was also sharing my work with some of her friends, such as Oliver Stone, and regaling me with stories of wearing her Robert Johnson pin in the recording studio for inspiration (she was working on her latest record at the time.)
All of this was wonderful. So wonderful in fact that I was inspired to open several additional shops, with breakout lines such as LaPatisserie (sweet little rings using cakes and vintage buttons).
And another shop, SewCharmed to sell vintage clothing and sewn items. There were at least 2 additional shops; a veritable Etsy empire, I thought.
For those of you who like numbers, all told, I made 500 sales +/- on Etsy in a 4-year period. Those numbers, however, are kind of meaningless in terms of how much income I realized via Etsy. It’s a much longer story for another time (or not), but suffice to say, that even at peak performance on Etsy–a few hundred sales per year, I was real real real glad I hadn’t quit my dayjob (despite Etsy’s then-constant promotion of just that very dream).
Etsy was brief for me. Around the time of my becoming rather discouraged with the site… decreased sales and an ever-growing presence of jewelry (when I checked this morning, there were 2,965,000+/- pieces listed on the site), with prices for jewelry lowering ridiculously (current average price of an Etsy sale: $15-$20 with 3.5% going to paypal and 3.5% to Etsy), with an insane number of resellers, ie, “handcrafters” selling cheap jewelry manufactured in factories (mostly China)… and a maddening number of copycat “artists” blatantly stealing every new idea that comes along, a site popped up on the internet humor scene to poke fun at all of this alleged glitter-huffing. Enter: Regretsy, where DIY meets WTF.
Somehow, I happened upon Regretsy from its very first post, and after overcoming my jealousy at not creating the site myself, I became one of its biggest fans. It is… hilarious. And mean. And hilarious. I exchanged a few emails with April Winchell, the cool, funnygirl founder of the site and was shortly after invited by her to create the divider page for the jewelry section of her upcoming book. Above is one of the images I created, below is the one she chose to publish. I was never sure if anyone got the little Jew joke I put in. I thought April would love that.
Then, with my increasing Etsy discouragement, I refreshed the design and blog of my site, rethinking what I wanted to make (and sell), and determining that with the limited hours (fulltime job, parenting, family, etc) that I have to pursue personal creativity and art (as opposed to my client-centered professional design work), I just couldn’t bring myself to focus on listing amongst nearly 3 million pieces of cheap jewelry in the closed retail wholesale world of Etsy (you have to have an account to shop there).
And please, don’t get me wrong: there is some real, amazing talent over on Etsy a few people I’ve seen make sales in the thousands or tens of thousands… deservedly. There is fantastic original jewelry, and many other wonderful handmade goods from soap to clothing. For supplies and vintage… Etsy still rocks, bigtime. (BTW, all of Etsy’s top sellers sell jewelry supplies… duh!) I still love the idea of Etsy and I still wish all of the vendors nothing but success in their making and sales.
My Etsy shops are empty(ing), as are so many other sellers’. Because it costs nothing to have a shop on Etsy, I’m not going to officially close them down; it was a lot of work setting them up and they contain online histories of work, sales, purchases, and customers that I wouldn’t want to lose. I reserve my right to change my mind about Etsy, should the admins find ways to truly support the hardworking, orignal artists that are paying their bills. So, no regrets.
PS: So what is the answer to successfully selling handmade goods? Shows? Brick ‘n mortar boutiques? Other sites like Dawanda? A best friend on the Barney’s buyer team? Sorry, haven’t found the answer yet! Will keep ya posted!
A question I try to occasionally ask myself: Must everything always be so complicated?
This morning I thought I’d answer that with a resounding nope.
I made the things pictured here and love them for their seemingly happy simplicity. The necklaces feature big wooden beads that are probably about 60 years old, there’s a geometric brass bead (40+ years old) with amazing patina, glass trade beads, ancient toys, copper chain, wire. Oops, wait, not sounding quite that simple!
Have had these ancient clicker toys around the studio for a long time; love how these turned out. You can still see the bug’s eyeballs through decades of rust. Well, at least they look simple.
So… mostly, yeah, simple. Right?
Uh, well, I don’t actually think so. Here’s the thing: One should never confuse simple with easy. Simple, it turns out, is actually effing complicated. Yep. Nope. I don’t know! And… whatever!
Biggie photos here: flickr. Hoping to post these for sale at so charmed early next week, holler if you have an urge before they hit the site.
My neighbor Katy and I don’t generally ask one another to borrow a cup of sugar or an egg. We have, however, been known to knock on the door inquiring after spare dressmaker’s dummies, scraps of fabric, books about fashion & sewing, or an opinion about a new creation.
Recently, Katy stopped by in a newly thrifted crisp white dress and asked if I had any accessories lying about that might take the look from prim to primitive.
With just about my entire jewelry stock currently on view at the Curiouser & Curiouser exhibition, I offered to whip something up, you know, custom.
Katy went off to China and I headed into my studio to create a special gypsy bangle stack, just for her.
Ingredients include a glittery Bollywood bangle, rust, vintage tattered sari ribbon from India, handmade clay beads, a quartz crystal point, MOP shell heart charm, vintage ruby charm, Indonesian glass, beach shell, wire, chain, and lots of prim-no-more goodness. It’s been a busy month so if you’re in need of a bangle stack and tired of waiting for them to appear over at So Charmed, just holla and I’ll get to making you you’re very own.
I announced this weeks ago on Facebook and then promptly forgot to post to the blog! DERP! Anyways, thanks to Molly for pulling a name out of the hat, and we do have a winner. It’s the lovely Jenna from Honey Bijoux. Been trying to email you, girl, so do get in touch with your address! Thanks to all who played, I loved each and every answer and will post a new giveaway soon. xoxo
Here’s another give-away guys, and please feel free to sing along with the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ song while you review the rules, regulations, and photos herein.
If you hurry, you can be the 9 MILLIONTH person to view this video! I like Mr. Keidis’ sparkly lipgloss, don’t you?
So, this is a sweet romantic necklace from the personal collection of the artist (ie, my ENDLESS jewelry box), but it is time to find it a new home. Features a darling vintage love-knot charm (and I can’t find any more of these anywhere), creamy Czech glass pearl rosary beads, vintage cherry red Czech glass star bead, and tiniest brass skeleton key. The chain used is vintage and so delicate I frankly can’t figure out how I was able to work with it at all!
I’m going to leave the narrative for this one up to the new owner’s sense of poetry, memory, and meaning. How to enter? Leave a comment here answering the following question: If you could invite anyone living or dead to dinner, who would it be and why?
Entries will not be judged for content, anything goes. Deadline is Friday, May 18th, 6pm at which time my lovely daughter Molly will randomly draw a name from a hat. Have fun, good luck, and thanks for playing! Winner will be contacted and necklace will ship out next week.
Did I say something about no longer doing custom work? LIAR LIAR PANTS ON FIRE. Pictured in this post, a custom mixed media necklace commissioned by a group of lovely midwestern ladies for a mutual friend who is beautiful forever. Happy Birthday, Amy.
Vintage silk sari fiber from India, wire, glass beads, vintage rhinestone chain and buttons. Hand forged clasp.
And a gorgeous vintage chandelier crystal focal. More of these pretty necklaces might just be available at So Charmed soon and large lucious photos are available for viewing on flickr.
Hey local peeps! In what can only be described as a truly rare event in my life, I’ll be making a public appearance at the lovely boutique Art & Soul, in downtown Washington, DC, for their April Girls Night Out event, this Thursday 4/5, 6-9 pm.
My jewelry will be for sale at the shop, including three sets of bangle stacks. Pictured above, Cake Bangle Stack, which features vintage rhinestones and millinery in a sugary confection.
Should you prefer your jewelry spicy rather than sweet, don’t miss out on Bombay Bangle Stack, pictured above and below.
Owner, Marjorie, also acquired the Everywhere You Go Bangle Stack, formerly listed over on my site, an elegant grouping to accompany you on adventures.
All of these boho gypsy-esque bangle stacks feature vintage sari silk ribbon from my collection along with an assemblage of curated beads, charms and other goodies. Hope to see some of you at Art & Soul!
Lots of artists struggle over the concept of creative voice… you know, that indefinable thing that makes your work your own. I seem to have a handful of voices, which makes me either versatile… or schizophrenic. And, either way, it’s ok with me; in fact I embrace the idea of taking various directions with jewelry.
This week I attended an important client event where I wanted to bring along little thank-you gifts for my three contacts… smart, gorgeous women whom I adore working with. Since the event was a dressy downtown DC affair, I thought I’d go the pretty route instead of the quirky route.
Each pair was designed specifically for the recipient. There are crystal embellished freshwater pearls, heavily faceted cut glass Czech beads in amazing colors and even some 18kt gold vermeil findings. GLAMOUROSITY!
Some supplies get used as quick as can be. I’d been visiting and longing for those vinyl record beads from Africa forever so once I got my hands on them, I had to use them immediately. The pink btw, is bright neon.
The vintage black buttons look like vinyl records to me, they are art deco and were purchased long ago. I have a tupperware container of buttons for each of about 8 colors. A sorting exercise when I was buying the buttons in bulk from ebay. It really does make them easier to use and was fun seeing each and every button in the large lots.
No idea where that little glass smiley bead came from, have also had that in the stash forever. So I wore these out last night to decide whether I could part with them. For now, I simply have to keep these. They really express how I feel about the world, in a way that I just can not describe.
To see these photos full size, visit my flickr page.
My attention span is so limited at times… I LOVE making earrings, but when they get complicated… as they have been lately… I never feel like making up the second one! Pictured above, two singles from today’s work.
This one features labradorite coin beads, a favorite earring finding, and a sweet little blood-red glass leaf from India in the shape of a heart. Or a heart in the shape of a leaf? Anyway, it’s translucent, and so pretty.
This little burst of sunshine has a wire-wrapped crystal point with a ring beaded in warm bronze bugle and neon seed beads. Tedious!
I promise to finish the two pairs and have them listed on the new So Charmed site. COUNTDOWN… 3 days.
I remember last week… when I had a life other than lying in my bed feeling like CRAP on a stick! Oh yeah… I was vertical. I left my house once in awhile. I was making stuff.
In fact I made this pretty necklace — I See Myself in You — just before the plague hit and rendered me stoopid. It features an amazing vintage piece from India as a focal, a mirrored thingee with holes for stitching onto clothing. Beautifully distressed, just a gorgeous found object. It was fun surrounding it with my earthiest beads, a color palette that is a little different for me.
The backing was a piece of plain chipboard, just begging for a collage. I used scrap from magazines, Chinese newspaper from an nearby restaurant, and some pretty tissue wrapping paper. Very fun. I used some fiber scrap to make a dangling bit, one of the pieces is lace from a dress I made called The Broken Teacup. You may have seen it here.
Welcome to the first of hopefully many Charming Chats with some of the people I adore in the Craftsphere. First up I’m honored to bring you the amazingly talented and often quite private, Julie Jackson. Julie started Subversive Crossstitch in 2003, one of the very first women to launch a DIY business celebrating the then-dying/dead art of crossstitch. Julie gave this “women’s work” the hilarious and snarky kick in the butt it needed and the rest, as they say, is history. More recently Julie, along with photographer Jill Johnson, and Boone — glamourpuss extraordinaire — launched Kitty Wigs to global acclaim. Read on for an intimate cozy chat with Julie over a cup of virtual tea.
Jodi: Julie, hi! Isn’t it great for us to find time to chat in our busy DIY-diva lives? BTW, you have the most charming little Texas accent. Who knew? Did you grow up in TX?
Julie: Oh no, do I? All those years of voice training were for naught? Kidding. Yes, I’m from Dallas. Big D, Little A, Double L, A, S. The stars at night shine big and bright… etc. Can you hear me singing from there? Yee-haw!
Jodi: Ha! And I’m from “What’s round on the ends and hi in the middle… O-HI-O!” I remember when we first “met” and we traded some work; a sampler for a charm bracelet. That seems like forever ago! But, I think my daughter is finally old enough for me to post the sampler you did (pictured above) without seeming like a very bad Mommy. Back then she might have said: “Inappropriate, Mom,” and then charged me a quarter for her swear jar. It is such a cherished object in my studio. Do you still find time to do personal projects?
Julie: Cool! I just came across a photo of that today, oddly. We’re psychic friends! Personal projects… hmmm. Oh yeah, I did something recently, though of course it’s not done yet. We love that weird song by Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood, “Some Velvet Morning”. I found myself stitching the title on some dark green velvet. Then I wasn’t sure what to do with it, so I wrapped it around an old piece of wood and now I’m going to bead the ends. So I guess that’s a weird personal project, huh? Also, I’m taking on a lot of custom work. I haven’t felt like stitching for a long time but I’m getting back into it.
Jodi: Oh I love Nancy too; I wanted to be her when I was a little kid… with some cool go-go boots for walking! So, I know you’ve been up to some exciting things in addition to Subversive Crossstitch, but since you’ve been doing Subversive for so long, I have to ask: What’s your favorite and least favorite thing about it? What keeps the fire burning and what parts do you wish would go away?
Julie: My favorite thing is the incredible interaction I have with my customers and people who take the idea and make it their own. Also, I get the most amazing emails from people who found stitching Fuck Cancer to be incredibly therapeutic or cathartic, their stories are so moving. It makes me feel like I’m in the right place doing what I’m doing. Least favorite is shipping because I hate getting behind with orders–it is completely overwhelming doing everything myself. I love it when I can afford help, but I wish I could hire a fulfillment company. I’m glad I started a PDF shop, because it’s a win-win situation. I can design something and put it out there without having to stitch first, and the customers get the pattern delivered instantly. Brilliant.
Jodi: That is brilliant. And I have to agree, it’s those relationships with customers that totally keep me going. For me, I wish the Web code would go away! And yeah, it’s challenging for sure to be designer, maker, shipper, writer, photographer, Web programmer…. so many hats. But it just sort of happens, doesn’t it? So, I’m sure people will want to know, have you been a stitchy girl forever? How did you first get into making things?
Julie: I’ve been a crafty girl forever. I was always super creative — my mom says that when I was a kid I would just make whatever I wanted. If I wanted a purse, I made one. I never would have guessed I’d be doing it for a living, though. I thought I’d be stuck at office jobs forever, writing away at a desk all day. I guess I am actually doing that, but at least it’s my own desk and my dog is asleep on my feet.
Jodi: It seems like some of us just have to be making things doesn’t it? You know, the handmade world has really changed a lot since 2003 when we both opened our shops. I remember when I first wrote to you and told you that your stuff reminded me of Jenny Holzer’s work. I mean NO ONE was doing anything like Subversive at the time. What developments have been either good or bad for handmade?
Julie: It seems like ages ago, doesn’t it? I adore Jenny Holzer, so I liked you instantly! hee. I think the way the craft scene has grown is amazing and fantastic. I’ve always said there’s room for everyone, and I love that places like Etsy make it so easy for anyone to give it a try. Almost everyone in the craft scene is friendly and inviting and supportive of each other, it’s just a great place to be. I don’t really see any negatives, it’s all good.
Jodi: Do you have any favorite stories of people you’ve made friends with during the process of building your business, other stitchers or crafters or artists? Who would you want to meet if you could?
Julie: Oh, I had the chance to be on a panel once with Amy Sedaris. Our paths have crossed a lot, but it would have been so cool to be on a five-person panel with her–I think it was at BlogHer or something. But I was just too chicken to put myself out there like that. My friend Leah Peterson was putting it together and she was kind enough to send me all kinds of Amy paraphenalia afterward even though I wasn’t there. The pill box is my favorite — it says “Pee on Me” in Amy’s handwriting on the outside, with her photo. Some of my very favorite people I’ve met are Katherine Shaughnessey of Wool and Hoop, Laurie Cinotto of Itty Bitty Kitty Committee and author of Making Paper Flowers, Stitchy McYarnpants of course, Emily and Matt at Steotch, Claire at Miso Funky, Jamie and Bridget of MrXStitch… there are so many. Also, I love the ladies at Bust magazine, Natalie who used to be the editor at Craft, Christina Loff and all the people at Chronicle… man, this list could go on forever. I’m already composing apology emails in my head to the people I know I’m not listing. There are just SO many funny and generous people out there who inspire me and keep me going.
Jodi: The mutual support in the community is truly inspiring. And I think anyone you forgot will forgive! One of the things I love about your shop is that there are soooo many hilarious subjects, it’s like there’s really something for everyone. What’s been Subversive’s hottest selling kit? Is there one in particular that just keeps on keeping on?
Julie: It used to be Go Fuck Yourself, but now it varies more. Sometimes Fuck Cancer goes through a phase of big demand, or Awesomesauce, or whatever’s new.
Jodi: I personally love CandyAss, that was the first one I did and it’s on display in my bedroom (pictured above)! It makes me think of Jeff Koons for some reason. And I did Whatever for Molly’s room, which I also love. Oh, and the Stephen Colbert Truthiness kit… I have that too; I LOVED seeing your piece on his show. But even with so many sparkly ideas, I know that my creativity seems to go in cycles and most artists I’ve talked to describe similar things. Do you ever get stuck? And if so, how do you unstick?
Julie: Yes. I just wallow in it. Sometimes there’s nothing to be done. I’m prone to pretty awful bouts of depression, so sometimes I can only do the bare minimum. It makes me more thankful for the productive times like I’m in now. I’m totally in flow right now and it’s great. I hate to go to sleep at night and I can’t wait to wake up in the morning. This is mostly because I’m completely redoing my website for the first time in almost ten years.
Jodi: I think every single artist I’ve met has the depression thing kicking around, myself included. It seems to come with the territory… I know there have been studies about this. And hey, so cool about your new Web site. I think the new So Charmed site will launch shortly after yours, and I can’t wait. It feels like such a fresh start doesn’t it? And we really need that from time to time. Let’s talk about your larger Subversive Empire for a minute… books, media coverage, and having your work in major hipster emporiums like Urban Outfitters. How exciting and glamorous it all seems! But is there a stressful side too? What’s it like having a book deadline, or seeing your work broadcast nationally? What sage advice would you give the young up-and-comers about this stuff?
Julie: Oh, it’s not glamorous AT ALL. And it’s never as much money as you hope it will be. It’s very stressful and the scariest part is, what happens if I get hit by a bus? It’s all on my shoulders and sometimes it’s hard not to freak out on that. If I have any advice it’s probably the advice everyone always gave me: follow your bliss. Kind of cliche, but it’s true. I used to stress out so much in my twenties about what I would do the rest of my life and you just have to wait and everything will unfold. You have to follow your heart and your instincts. The goal is to not have to do work that you hate. Also, I think something magical happens when you hit 40 – you kind of figure out what you’re all about, FINALLY. And things seem to start to fall into place. Don’t worry, enjoy life.
Jodi: Oh, I agree totally about bliss-following, and if you think 40 is magic… honey, 50 is nirvana! I’m thinking I’ll probably just explode with joy at 60! Lately, I’ve really discovered that it’s super important to sometimes shove the business stuff on the back burner and just get back to the joy of making things, of discovery and adventure. Speaking of adventures, how did you first come up with Kitty Wigs? The Web site talks about loud music and dancing. If we can turn back the hands of time, tell us what you and Boone were dancing to when Kitty Wigs was born.
Julie: Scissor Sisters! Yeah, Boone used to sit on my desk and stare at me all day long and I took a lot of photos of him. One day I was goofing off, looking around on Flickr, and I searched for “cat wigs.” I was surprised that there were only a couple of photos and the cats all looked mad and the wigs were clearly too big and really sloppy (no wonder the cats were mad). I don’t know what hit me, I just thought if people were going to take photos of their cats it should be more interesting and enjoyable for the cat (if possible). After a lot of research and trial and error, I found the right wigs and the right photographer. Again, I had no idea the idea would catch on so crazily, even bigger than Subversive. I’m still stunned but it makes me really happy that it makes people laugh. And gives them a new way of interacting with their cat that can result in amazing photos. It’s not at all like dressing your cat in outfits, it has turned out to be more about noticing things about your cat… it’s hard to explain. If you see the photos in our book, you can imagine how floored I was when I first saw them — it’s like the cats are showing their innermost personalities, it’s insane.
Jodi: Oh, I know, it’s really portraiture at its finest! Did you and Boone get to meet any of the famous people who have created buzz about Kitty Wigs? Conan? Chelsea Handler? Anderson Cooper? I can see Anderson having a cat who wears Kitty Wigs. Do you have any Kitty Wigs celebrity gossip to spread viciously through this interview?
Julie: We didn’t meet anyone, but I would have turned down any kind of public appearance. The Kitty Wigs photographer, Jill Johnson, was great to appear on my behalf in the press — she is such a pro and has such an amazing personality. I guess my favorite celebrity thing was Graham Norton, because I adore his show anyway so I was watching it when he suddenly started talking about Kitty Wigs and showing the website. He also talked about Subversive years before but I knew about that in advance and shipped some stitched pieces. The Kitty Wigs appearance was a complete surprise. I love Graham because he totally gets it, and he is just brilliant and hilarious. As for celebrity gossip, the people who were the coolest to correspond with were probably Bobcat Goldthwait and his girlfriend. They just reached out to me and were so nice. Bob had posted Kitty Wigs on his site and he ended up writing a blurb about it and sending me photos of he and his cat in a wig. Bobcat is truly a cool cat.
Jodi: Oh I would love to see those Bobcat photos! Before we finish up the last sip of our tea, will you tell us what else goes on in your world along with snarky crossstitch and wigs for kitties? What do you do to relax those busy fingers and that busy brain of yours?
Julie: I devour the internet, I always have looked to it for inspiration and I love those “wow” moments when I find something amazing. I’m always trying to get my friends to join in on my latest idea, like adhesive eyebrows for dogs or pistachio castanets. I’m the mischief maker.
Jodi: Yes, you are such an instigator, and that’s why we all love you so much! Anything new coming down the Subversive Road that you want to tell our readers about?
Julie: The Subversive website will be completely fresh and new — I’m hoping to re-launch on February 15th! I can’t wait, it’s going to make all of our lives so much better.
Jodi: Well, I know I’ll be looking for that launch email. Thanks, Julie, for doing this. You’ve made such a huge difference for so many people, helping to pave the way for so much of what’s going on today in crafts. And, with such good humor and generosity! Thank you thank you!
Wanted to share this Voodoo Candy necklace in its finished state. Detail above shows focal, clasp and some of the crazy beads.
In its entirety… very allsorts candy and licorice. This may not be everyone’s favorite colorway, but I’ve always loved the high contrast and the dark playful aspects of using lots of black with neon.
This view shows these strange natural black coral beads that are so scary and freaky.
Here’s a piece made/sold several years ago, a handknit cuff thing using neon potholder loops that were made into yarn. This is one of those pieces I miss and keep thinking I need to make another for myself.
Detail. Looks like a strange futuristic mutated sea creature.
And, one last picture of the first batch of Unstrung Hero beads, all grouped together before they come apart for use in jewelry. More beads to come soon… as Steph warned (and now you’ve been warned too): HIGHLY ADDICTIVE.
For a week when I felt sluggish and unproductive, I’m surveying my labor and thinking… wha???? Well, nothing was finished, so maybe that’s why I felt sort of lacking. Incomplete. A bit on the edge (of my seat?). Anyway, it is a good thing I shlepped out to Hobby Lobby yesterday for supplies. Ice storm this morning and we are housebound. What else is there to do but experiment with MAKING BEADS! As the BF asked when he woke up and stumbled into the kitchen: Because there aren’t enough [beads] to buy?? Yep, I fired up the old oven at 7:30 a.m. and created the above set, which also includes a few non-handmade spacers. Personal message to the BF: Did you say PIE? I thought you said BEADS. Sorry.
The necklace above inspired the beads above. Dirty Neon Tooth. (great band name, eh?). Black beads with neon frit. Reason for yesterday’s supplies trip was actually to get black beading thread b/c I didn’t like what was happenin’ with the white in this necklace I’d started.
So, this is my new favorite thing, a necklace focal after Man Ray’s infamous Cadeau. From the Tate Modern (oh how I LOVE that freaking museum) web site:
By adding a row of nails, Man Ray transformed a household flat-iron into a new and potentially threatening object. The nails and burning metal suggest a violent eroticism at odds with the work’s title, the French word for ‘gift’. The original version, given to the composer Eric Satie, was lost but became well-known through Man Ray’s photograph of it. Although made at the height of Paris Dada Cadeau, like Man Ray’s other objects, anticipated the exposure of hidden desires found in subsequent Surrealist objects.
Sigh. This object had a massive effect on me when I was an art student. It just seemed SO right. Not to mention sums up my relationship to housework.
But you guys know I can bring the pretty. The glass beaded centerpiece above is probably from the 1930’s. I’m not sure, so if you know, share. I love the combination of the refined Frenchy beadwork with some rustic primitive tribals.
PS: Unstrung Heroes, a name for my new bead shop? As if I need something else to try to sell. Copyrighted, yo.
I’m reading Thomas Hardy (Far from the Madding Crowd) on my ipad (which no doubt is a bit weird) and was feeling very Victorian this morning… so here’s a little something in progress fresh off the bench–a dear distressed frame with buttons handsewn on vintage upholstery fabric. Not sure yet what the necklace part will look like, or if there might be additional things dangling from the lower eyelets. I’m planning to do some more of these with bits of salvaged embroidered hankies and such. What I’m happy with here is that the fabric isn’t under glass or resin or anything, which I felt would compromise the surface detail. Images also on flickr.
I’ve been wanting to share the above since last November when I completed this commissioned holiday gift for The Anthropologist’s wife.
This sweet pouch was designed and made to contain a very special object; a stone that The Anthropologist picked up in Darwin’s garden. Yes, that Darwin. Charles. When he first told me about the stone, I had envisioned wire-wrapping it. But when it was presented to me over lunch, I immediately knew that it had to be left free in order to be held in one’s hand for contemplation and meditative purposes.
Commissioned work is challenging because I want to satisfy a particular person, whilst remaining true to my creative vision. And in this case, I was thinking not just about The Anthropologist, but about his wife, who is a very creative, discerning woman. I wanted her to love the finished object as much as I knew she’d love her husband for thinking of such a thing. I am happy to report that the gift was a success.
Last night, Molly and I had our weekly girl’s night out for dinner at Chipotle, browsing about downtown, hang-time. In the car on the way home I asked her why she thought people buy and wear jewelry. Her answer: Expression.
Now, this is really interesting to me, and granted, she’s my daughter. But I asked her then if she thought there were any other reasons… and so we talked about status (bling) as well as attracting the opposite sex. Ultimately though, we both agreed, expression is king.
Jewelry-making for me has been another medium my art has taken. I’ve explored (and am still exploring) SO many mediums… photography, drawing, fiction-writing, stitchery. Fiction (10 years) and jewelry (another 10) have lasted the longest. I think, at heart I’m a storyteller.
So, what does the jewelry-maker, herself, wear? Above is a recent piece that I’ve never even so much as photographed b/c it went right into my jewelry box. I guess this is my glamuorpuss version of steampunk? It’s so very balanced and symmetrical; a tendency I have to fight to overcome, but which I also think serves me at times.
This is a really early piece, a reworked vintage rhinestone princess necklace. I’ve had many offers to buy this right off my neck, but this is a piece I really wear a lot. It looks so good with dress-up clothes, or just t-shirt/jeans. And it is NOT symmetrical! Yay! I’m not sure what the story is behind either of these pieces, and it doesn’t really matter, in fact I’m happy when it’s a bit obtuse. I just know they mean a lot to me. A version of bling, attraction/repulsion, questions about value and adornment and an I-dare-you-attitude that was not as prevalent then as it may be now. Those would be some of the themes.
I also wear thrifted vintage jewelry. Above are two favorites. The black beads are super heavy glass faceted, I’m guessing mid-20th century Czech. I bought this at the Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market from this really oddball, charming old man. I actually think of him when I wear it… he seemed to be borderline insane and/or homeless and/or hoarding. I liked him a lot. The pink piece is also glass (older than the black necklace, maybe Japan), scored at a local thrift and I can’t really figure out the time period. The beadwork is truly unusual and gorgeous. These two necklaces are both choker length, which I love, and they look great layered. Rescuing old stuff has been and continues to be a lifetime mission. And it’s not about the environment to me, it’s about history. Who owned these? Where were they worn? It’s evocative and makes me feel connected to something both unknown and imagined.
I do, on rare occasion, purchase jewelry made by other people. Above and below are two pieces by Louis Waitt. I fell hard in love with both of these. It was as if they were made just for me, for no-one else, and if I didn’t have them I’d die. The ring above is a chunk of broken glass, smithed into a simple exaggerated pronged setting. This is my engagement ring. I am engaged to and betrothed to and in love with Art. Not a guy named Art. A practice of Art. A life of Art. A muse that I follow with the passion most follow a lover. It’s so corny, but this is a universal truth for me.
This piece, also by Waitt, is high-concept. Again, there is no way to say what it definitively means. It doesn’t matter, there is some feeling I get in my heart when I look at and wear this. An exuberant cow, riding along on his rusty three-wheeled cart. The wheels actually turn, so this is also a toy… it’s unbelievably playful, joyful, child-like. This cow is not on anyone’s plate. He’s wild and free and doing a happy dance!
The game of jacks was a very big deal when I was in junior high school, back in the late 60’s.
10 metal jacks and a rubber ball, played on the smoothest floor available. A series of maneuvers appropriately titled: onesies, twosies, threesies, foursies, and so on. I was pretty good. A girl named Susie ruled.
I’m not really nostalgic for playing the game, but for the memory of the excitement and competitiveness it engendered. Very childish… yet also serious business. I think that’s what I wanted to capture and convey in this necklace.
Lots of Indonesian glass beads here in the most amazing subtle and not-so-subtle colors, with larger handcrafted clay beads, including the jack focal by a wonderful Belgian artist named Steph. The jacks were a creative collaboration between us and I happily have several more–along with lots of other Vlad the Bat’s Attic pieces to play with in the studio.
I spent most of my making-time at the end of the week and this weekend on this necklace. The challenge for me here was in using a handcrafted focal bead (the lavish bird heart) that is so lovely and gorgeous in its own right. It would be easy to string something so pretty on a simple chain. And believe me, I gave that a bit of thought for the first month this object lived on the studio workbench! Knowing full well that was not what made me acquire it in the first place.
The focal instantly reminded me of time spent in New Orleans, and I knew that I wanted to surround it with a bit of sweetly dark elements in keeping with that voodoo ghostly theme. But honestly, I did not have a clue where to start. Or finish.
In art, there are often pieces that I hate tremendously during the making. The shabby-chic tendencies here were a little frustrating and twee. But that only served to push me to figure this out.
There is SO MUCH going on with this piece, I won’t bother trying to detail all the goodies involved. A few are: ancient German bisque doll arm/hand, very rusty key, India sari fiber, tribal glass beads, handcrafted toggle, a weird tusk shell in the most amazing shade and the above-pictured shell teeth that I am currently in love with.
Finally, I think it achieved the right vibe and I’m loving this necklace. Shabby and sweet, but a little dark and scary too. Which is what, in the end, I always seem to go for. Like a parade in the French Quarter, non?
At 14 I almost ran away to join the circus. Not wanting to be too big for my britches, or cause my mother an untimely death (she would have been only 34 at the time) I opted instead to spend a lot of time at the State Fair with a handful of glamorous characters several years my senior. Hours spent wandering the chicken building for exotic feathers to tie in our hair, licking hot sugar from mini-donuts off our fingers, and screaming down the giant slide, which seemed it might go on forever, dumping us into another star-filled galaxy in the night sky, far away from parents and school and our utterly boring lives.
Quieter times were spent sitting by the door of the Fair Arts Building with a surrealist boy, discussing anarchism, the poetry of rockabilly music and plans to run away to San Francisco. Laughing until tears fell like mewling kittens from my shining eyes.
You think I’m making this up. Well, I have witnesses.
Two lovely boutinniere corsages designed for the so charmed relaunch. There will be more. Interested now? Please get in touch.
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.
Ok, due to OVERWHELMING response… I know, six people, but I expected ZERO so I’m all psyched up… there are now three “lots” I’m giving away with the drawing I posted yesterday (scroll down). This is Lot 2, a pair of very elegant showstoppers with vintage glass and sparkly goodness.
And here’s Lot 3, more Time and Candy… golden brass clock hands with red glass beads, and vintage glass candy colored droplets.
As before, all you have to do is post your New Year’s Resolution in the comments area, either with this post or the previous one, and your name will go into a hat for random drawing. Then you get earrings in the mail! Cool? Cool! PS: Feel free to express preferences but I’m not promising as I want to keep this light and fun ok?
Happy New Year to all! Is it Jan. 2 all ready? Time is FLYING! Which is why I included the earrings far left in this first jewelry give-away. Those feature little clock hands and little black glass beads. In the center we have vintage beads on long lovely ear-wires. On the far right vintage 50’s “cut-out” buttons and delicious glass lampworked strawbs. And all of this can be YOURS! To keep, to give away, to deconstruct for supplies, whatever your heart desires!
Here’s how I’m gonna work this. To enter, you just need to comment on this blog post… and tell me one New Year’s resolution. Extra points for a resolution you’ve all ready broken or intend to break soon! Just kidding. Sort of. But share something… anything. I’ll put your name in a hat — a very cool vintage hat, of course — and then the bf will randomly draw a name for the winner. So it doesn’t matter what you write, we’re not judging.
Contest ends tomorrow at midnight, drawing and winner announced Weds, earrings ship by Friday.
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.
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.
Molly and I spent all day driving around and shopping and eating at Chipotle and laughing and carrying on. One of the stops we made was Fixtures-Plus (Brentwood, locals, also one in Balto) a warehouse of old store fixtures and displays, including a room full of mannequins. I’ll take my camera next time; it was INSANE in the membrane! Of course the mann-girl I wanted was on a shelf three stories up, so this guy had to go lug a ginormous ladder over to git ‘er down. Next stop was to score some plaster of Paris gauze strips and when we got home we covered up her ugly plastic self, zombie-style. I can’t believe how cool she turned out. And it was so messy and fun! Total cost: $40. Which beats the hell out of the mannequin Filene’s was “liquidating” for $75. Anyway, look for my new undead model when So Charmed relaunches.
Here is Earl Moth, he was once a tea tin, of the Earl Gray variety. I’m testing out photographing with just a few additional props so that I can give you a sense of how the pieces look worn (and without nagging Molly constantly to model for me). So it’s cool to see the moths upright instead of lying on the white seamless for one of the shots. Right? Oh, and that’s a hand we picked up at Fixtures. It had white dust pouring out of it, which made me instantly think of cocaine smuggling. I have been watching a LOT of Breaking Bad via Netflix. A LOT!!! Hand was $5. There was a spooky pile of them. Some with arms! Legs and feet too. I’m telling you, the place was too much.
Here are some sweet little spool necklaces that have been around here forever (never listed. Why? I don’t know!)… these are the ones that have poetry and other writings handscrawled around the vintage wooden spool, underneath the ribbon. You can see them undressed on flickr. The frame was scored at my new other favorite place on planet Earth, HOBBY LOBBY. Is that not the queerest name ever?!? It’s just lame! But people, this place kicks. We had so much fun and it took hours to make our way through the airplane hangar sized place. Only drawback… a biiiiiiiig shlep out to the exurbs (Laurel, locals). A field trip, for sure.
Anyway, the light was gone for the day, so these photos aren’t the best, but since they are just ideas at this point, let me know what you think! I’ll still do lots of white on white, b/c I think those are so pretty and really show the work.
One of the things I have wanted to take a break from in the jewelry world is resin. But before I sign off on this troublesome yet intriguing bane-of-my-existence process, I wanted to share a recent piece, pictured above, that was commissioned by a favorite client in Italy.
He had seen my series of Blues pins, pictured above, and requested one of Ella Fitzgerald for a friend of his who is a singer. I just couldn’t say no. And, truth is, when I see the results that are possible with this sticky messy stuff, I so wish it were a little less snarly to wrangle with. I use the Colores Doming Resin System, purchased from Rio Grande, which is a two-part deal and hardens when mixed. Properly. And I do mean properly. Should you measure out one tiny drop wrong, stir the mixture too hard or not hard enough, or should a piece of dust fly into your still-curing solution… and oh, did I mention humidity? Or your inkjet print not being dry enough? Or bubbles rising to the surface? All told, this stuff is a pain in the tuchas, even when it is working (smells kinda toxic, ugh). Anyway, I was happy to make the Ella pin, and am now retiring my resin for awhile. I hear it works better in the southwest btw, where the humidity is not DC-swampy. Good luck!
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.
Took a break from the tin moth factory today to work on my bead stringing. Decided it was time to make these miniscule crimps and tips look all professional-like, so I watched a YouTube tutorial and got to work. The video really helped, altho these findings are so tiny you’ll see the camera-person struggling to keep them in focus! I had to watch it twice. FYI, pretty much anything jewelry-related that you want to learn via demonstration lives on YouTube somewhere. Soldering, beading, wire-wrapping… just search and see what you come up with. I’ll try to post some more links to some of my favorites. Wait, I need to learn how to embed video in the blog… let’s see…
Ok, how cool is that?! Great, because one of my Favorite Thing posts is going to be a short video that I’m shooting. Sorry… I’m talking to myself!
Not really sure where this necklace is going, but so far, having fun with the materials, colors, and a certain powerful feeling that’s emanating from the main focal. Not to get all woo-woo on you people.