December 23, 2009

I Love You, Wednesdays: Christmas Inspiration

Nativity - 18x24 on Canvas, by Penhoyt on Etsy "My soul proclaims your greatness, Oh Lord, and my spirit rejoices in you. You have looked with love on your servant here and blessed me all my life though." (Marty Haugen's Holden Evening Prayer, based on the the Magnificat in Luke 1:46-55). Merry Christmas!

December 21, 2009

Custom Christmas Gifts

You won't find me complaining about being very, very busy this time of year - I LOVE Christmas and all that it entails, especially all the custom jewelry orders friends have entrusted to me! Here are 6 pieces I finished this weekend: One of the greatest aspects of making and selling jewelry has been all the AMAZING people I had met along the way. Back in April when I "officially" launched my website, one of my sorority sisters took notice and asked if she could host a Bead Up giveaway (my first!). One of the contestants, Nilsa, not only entered to win but also bought a necklace from my shop and lived to blog about it. I always e-mail my customers after each order to thank them for their business and to let them know when I will put the item(s) in the mail. Nilsa wrote back and asked a few questions, and then I wrote her back and asked a few more, and we've been writing back and forth for 7 months now! She's become one of my dearest "bloggin' friends" and customers and I can't wait to actually meet her one day! That said, Nilsa asked that I make one of her gal pals a necklace/earring set for Christmas. In her own words, her friend: "Loves red and orange, and tends towards natural colors (browns, ambers, forest, and olives. She's more conservative on the outside than on the inside, and tends to wear plain clothes but always complains that she's so boring and wishes she could figure out a way to sass it up a bit (that's where your jewelry comes in!) She's tall and athletic and not particularly girly (though she is feminine)." I showed Nilsa a few earth-toned pearls I had in mind and she loved where the necklace was already going and said, "I love your creativity, so I am going to let you play around!" Sounds like a plan to me! After another trip to the Jewelry District, I got to work this weekend. I had recently seen a (grandma-aged) friend of mine wear a super cute long, wrappable pearl necklace of yellows and oranges that she acquired from Alaska. Using this piece as inspiration, I bought orange, green, and brown naturally round fresh-water pearls, in addition to some white coin disc pearls and some super small white pearl beads. I added a few orange and smokey quartz colored crystals, in addition to come deep red semi-precious gemstones to the mix and strung the beads along a yard-long piece of silver wire to create this piece: I finished it off with a re-adjustable chain and clasp so the length can be further varied, and explained to Nilsa that the necklace is the kind where the wearer gets to play and reinterpret the piece - it can be wrapped around the neck 1-4 times (or could even be worn as a chunky bracelet!) and can go with silver or gold accessories, like these matching earrings I made, too.Nilsa loved the piece, and provided great feedback that makes projects like these super fun and rewarding! Thanks again, friend!! Last Friday a co-worker of mine asked if I had any jewelry in stock that she could buy at the last minute for Christmas gifts. I of course did, but also offered to make her a custom piece if time allowed. Ny not only wanted to buy a brass-ringed necklace (as seen on the right - both are sold out!) and a wish-bone necklace for herself, but wanted something in the same color for her friends. "They are rock-and-roll chicks who love necklaces that look like big chains." I told her that, if materials at the store allowed, I can make her 3 long brass-colored, chain-like necklaces that would fall to the waist and be different from each other. She insisted that she trusted my creativity and that I could make whatever I felt was appropriate - sweet! Thankfully, Michael's had what I needed, in addition to a few pieces I had never with before. Here is what I came up with:I even included a little brass bird charm on each of the necklaces to give it a truly Bead Up edge! Additionally, Ny hoped to customize the wishbone necklace for herself, so I added a little red rose charm and bird so she can match her friends! Ny was pleased with the results, especially the addition of the little birdies! Lastly, I helped my friend Alison make a Christmas gift for herself! She bought several copper pieces from me in the past (they go really well with her skin tone and earth-colored wardrobe) and wanted a necklace to match. She expressed that she really liked lockets of any size and the color Fusion Beads calls "Montana Blue." I found a large, 2-sided antiqued copper locket on Etsy and a long matching chain in the Jewelry District. After adding some orange, green, and brown pearls, in addition to a white pearl coin and a little smokey grey stone, we have this:I purposely used this wider-shaped chain for two reasons: 1.) Alison wanted to be able to wear it long or short, depending on her outfit. Since the chain is large enough to be a spring ring for a clasp, all she has to do it put the clasp along the chain where she would like it to fall and is left with the rest of the chain dangling down her back :) 2.) I have found that when making longer necklaces, thinner chain tends to twist and loop around itself, causing not only mess, but also getting in the way of showing the charm's front! Alison loved the piece and couldn't wait to show off her "custom homemade necklace" it off to friends back in North Carolina! Thanks to all these lovely ladies who have made my weekend of jewelry making that much more exciting!

December 18, 2009

Fashionably Friday: Tiffany's for the Holidays

It's that time of year where countless commercials do their darnedest to convince you that your life wasn't complete until you had (fill in the blank with meaningless item here), or that your stocking isn't stuffed without (fill here again), or that your man doesn't love you unless he has a mint-colored box in his hand. That's right, you read me correctly - it's that time of the year where Tiffany's commercials of women in 30's vintage dresses playing their piano in slow motion remind all of us that we aren't really loved until we have a Calvin Klein model slowly and ever-so-softly handing us a Tiffany's box of jewelry. See what I am talking about: 'Cause we have all had that happen to us, right? Yeah, me neither. In fact, these commercials make me a little sick. No offense to anyone who has ever be given a Tiffany's piece of jewelry (I myself have several faux Tiffany's necklaces from China, what?), but doesn't it seem odd that the company really does have some woman believing that the true mark of a man's love is that little blue box in his hand? Because I thought the true mark of my man's love is when he holds my hair back when I am hanging out in the bathroom with the flu. Or when he changes a tire in the rain and lets me sit inside the car chatting with my friend on the phone.
Ok, stepping off my soap box...! That said, Tiffany's is one of the new main-line luxury jewelry companies that I found to carry LOTS of holiday items. I really wish I could buy some of these charms at Michael's so I could make them myself and give them to myself in a little LIME GREEN box (yeah Bead Up!). I love me some value, but of course Tiffany's falls under the category of high-class that they can price their items astronomically high and people still buy it. Sigh... Here's a small selection of the many items on
$135 ... for just the charm!
Candy cane in traditional red or Tiffany blue - so cute. Well, except for the $115 price tag!
I am pretty sure that Tiffany's has the monopoly on snowflake-shaped diamond jewelry pieces. Here they've incorporated it to their traditional link-chain bracelet... for only $500 ;)
And if you can't get enough diamonds... ($2,350 for this subtle thing...)
Why not wear a broach-sized snowflake diamond mess - for only 25 THOUSAND dollars!
And it only gets uglier and pricier, my friend. Take this gold semi-tree of a charm, yours for only $1,625!
Or this ... thing... for only $2050! That's more than my rent!
And if a Tiffany blue $150 ice-skating charm doesn't wet your whistle...
Surely a $2250 diamond and emerald plated ice-skating charm will make your life complete, no?
Yeah, me neither.

December 16, 2009

I Love You, Wednesdays

Being the homemade Etsy advocate that I am, it only seemed fitting to buy the bulk of my Christmas gifts for others from my favorite website this year :) I started a few months ago when I sat down with my husband to discuss who was getting what: gift cards for the hard-to-please, jewelry for those who would appreciate it, and Etsy gifts for the rest! For the Hub's grandparents who love to cook, we figured personalized aprons would be the best bet. For his grandma, I found a plain customizable teal-colored apron on which we could embroider "Caroline's Kitchen" (cause, let's face it, woman rule the kitchen, and not in a pregnant and barefoot kind of way!). The seller, Significant Stitch, was super great with correspondence and making sure I got exactly what I wanted. In the end, and only $22 later, we got this looker! We ordered a similar one for the Hub's grandpa Norbert, embroidering the words "Norbert Sherbet" (spelled funny, though sound the same!) in red on a plain black adult male apron (which wasn't too easy to find at first, but I finally got a deal from She's In Stitches for only $30 total, which included a great gift bag, too!). Sadly, though, I forget to take a picture before I wrapped it! Check out the original listing here and use your imagination! Next on my list was a computer sleeve for my Hubs. Though the Mac store had lots from which to choose, I was pretty persistent in insisting we support homemade as planned and find one on Etsy! Though we found lots of options, the Hubs finally chose a green and blue brachiosaurus (vegetarian, yeah!) sleeve from Lollington. Though the Hubs knew I was going to order the sleeve for him, what he didn't know was that I asked the creator of the item to also, if possible, put his initials somewhere on the sleeve, to make this expected gift a little unexpected! Turns out she was more than happy to oblige for no extra cost, and for only $44 later, we have this!:
Lastly, I was in the market for my own home -- we were in desperate need of Stockings! Though this is our second Christmas together as a married unit, we have never really had stockings since my parents always had them waiting for us at their house. Our fireplace was getting lonely! I searched and searched all over Etsy looking for the perfect stocking to go with my black, white, and red polka-dot Living Room with no avail. I even listed an Alchemy order request on Etsy asking for something traditional but funky with boas and polka-dots. Though I got lots of bids on my order, my husband wasn't too thrilled with the idea of boas on our stockings (why not?!), and politely asked I search for a more "traditional" design (have you met me? I am far from traditional!). We also wanted whatever design we purchased to be easily re-producable for when we have kids so we can match their stockings to our own. I finally found a great listing from With Love From Alabama, only to find out that the shop owner recently moved to Verona, Italy and warned it would take a while to process my order. Since it was then early November, I obliged (especially since the items were so flippin' cute)! Here is what they look like - I LOVE EM!
Polka dots - check; black, white, and red - check; advent calendar (paper rings) - check; red rose - check; crosses - check; a happy woman of the house - CHECK!
The material used on these is SUPER GREAT - nice velvet-like lined green and a soft and velvety red with felt-like polkadots and a thick canvas backing - which means extra sturdiness for all the stocking stuffers in this sock's future! I also hung super-cute Sandra Magsamen ceramic Christmas-themed crosses to cover up the tacky 3M plastic hook I used to hold the stockings up (I asked the Hubs to make stocking holders to match our stockings but gosh darnet finals and exams got in the way - next year they will be done!). I HEART Sandra Magsamen's designs and definitely credit her as a source of inspiration in my jewelry creation!
My little Christmas home :)
Thanks again to all the vendors who helped make this possible!

December 14, 2009

Custom Cowgirl Bracelet

I got a lot of custom orders during my jewelry party. Though this was totally thrilling, I will admit it was a bit overwhelming as the main thing I wanted to do after the months of preparation going into the party was to take a break from creating for a week or two! No rest for the weary! When my co-worker Melissa saw a Chinese-themed charm bracelet I had on display at the jewelry party, she immediately said "I want one like this!" I at first figured she wanted me to create a bracelet from scratch for her, though after meeting with her for breakfast one morning to discuss the bracelet (my first "consultation" of sorts!), Melissa explained that she had a sterling silver charm bracelet that she wanted to spice up. She presented me with 7 necklaces and bracelets from her "hippie days," all adorned with silver beads, turquoise, teek-wood, and coral. She had envisioned that I could take the beads from the necklaces and put them on the existing sterling bracelet. She found this picture as her inspiration: "The funky-chunkier, the better!" Melissa instructed. I'll see what I can do! I ordered some sterling ball-headed pins and a rustic looking sterling silver toggle clasp and went to work. I tore apart the necklaces and bracelets and took an inventory of what I had to work with: Here is the "before" picture of the sterling silver bracelet Melissa provided - with two headpins worth of beads for starters...And here is the after! Melissa LOVED the bracelet when I gave it to her at our company Christmas party - and went on to show and explain to EVERYONE at our table the story behind the piece! I will admit, this is not something I would think up to do on my own, but with the help of all the materials Melissa provided and the inspiration piece's picture, I think we hit the nail on the head! Check back on Wednesday for stories of how I commissioned others to make custom-pieces for me this week!

December 11, 2009

Fashionably Friday: Regretsy

Not quite sure why it took me so long to find the website Regretsy, but once I did, I was both touched and humiliated. More touched, really. Regretsy is a website dedicated to, how should I put it, "interesting" items on Etsy. The kind that you would perhaps find in a freak show or a trash heap. Or make in 5 minutes during a team building retreat with objects found within reaching distance. My husband was the humiliated one that my jewelry was on the same site as the other products on Etsy. I figure it's good marketing because it makes all my items look all the more better ;) But rather than ruining all the fun with my words, why don't I let the pictures do the talking, mmmk? (Click on each picture to see the actual listing - though be warned that lots of stuff on Regretsy is for "mature audiences" - so this is your fair warning -- Bead Up of course does not endorse any of these products!) And my personal favorite, read the text at the bottom:Man, these totally make shopping for Christmas gifts a lot easier ;) On a totally, hopefully not Regretsy-ish level, Bead Up is having another giveaway!! My sorority sister Lindsay and I are giving away this precious little necklace:
Enter for your chance to win it here -- and have a great weekend!