September 30, 2009

I love you, Wednesdays.

This week China is celebrating it's 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. In 1911, China's Republican Party overthrew the patriarchal reign of the Qing dynasty, thus opening the battle ground for dominate ruling party over the most populated country in the world. From 1911 through 1949, two major players emerged: The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMP or ROC) and the Communist Party of China (or CPC, later to be know as the CCP). The two duked it out for centuries, and after changing the face of China in the process, Mao drove Chiang Kai-shek and Nationalist party into Taiwan and, on October 1, 1949, declared himself de facto leader of the People's Republic of China (otherwise known as "Communist China" or "Red China"). Now that you have had your history lesson for the day, I am going to first say that I will do my best here on out to omit my opinion on Chinese politics and history from the rest of the post (I want to be re-admitted back into the country one of these days! Though if you want to chat off the record, e-mail me!). During my junior year of college I found myself without a major and itching to study abroad. The only consistent classes I had been taking the two years prior were every Chinese language, philosophy, and history class I could get my hands on (I found the topics fascinating and myself strangely proficient at speaking the language). One thing lead to another, and I ended up creating the University of Kentucky's first Chinese language major. I studied in Shanghai for the summer of 2004, and in the summer of 2005 finished my thesis on the Cult of Mao by traveling to over a dozen urban and rural Chinese cities to interview locals and research in person. Though it's been 4 years since I was last in the country, to say the the place and it's people have left an impression on my heart is a vast understatement. (Here I am at Tianamen Square in 2004, sporting a red due and still carrying around my Freshman 15!). I am thus keeping the people of China and the country that has so touched my heart in mind this week (to see some great pictures of how the country is preparing for it's celebration, click here). Anyone who has walked into my home can visually see how much this country has affected my aesthetics and tastes (see: my love for black, red, and white!). Everything about China, from it's poverty to it's prosperity, fascinates me on a very visual level. The culture of the people has left no stone unturned when it comes to their own aesthetic expressions and art, even on a daily scale. Their philosophical practices (that which we in the West call religion) embody and revolve around artistic expression in both an ancient and modern way (see other examples of how Buddhism has affected my own jewelry making). Even each Chinese character (NOT symbol, for the love God please do not find yourself calling them that in front of me because I will let my pet peeve take over and correct you in public!) has been thoughtfully developed over the nation's 2000+ year history to embody stories and deeper meanings. Any artist has much - MUCH - to learn from the Chinese aesthetic and approach to artistic expression. It's breath taking, really. (Since I went to China before blogging and digital photography were standard in my life, I only have a few sets of pictures online - you can check them out here).
To say that Chinese culture, art, philosophy, and even it's language affects my aesthetic and thus my art is of course an understatement (here are a few my own pieces that incorporate the Chinese aesthetic directly, you can read a blog entry about one of them in particular here). Though it's presence isn't huge on Etsy yet, there are traces of the magic that is "Chinese" on the website:
poofny, plasticpumpkin, onpurposephotos, samphoto BRIANKENNYCHICAGO, rossthompson, rongouldstudios, forevereast aldesigns, bomobob, HeyHarriet, annamackhardison
Make sure you visit their shops, too!
So, what inspires you today?

September 28, 2009

Preparing my Fall Line and for a Jewelry Party!

Welcome to Fall, Y'all! It's been a busy season in the Bead Up world, as I have been spending alot of my free time preparing for a jewelry party a friend is hosting for me in less than a month! This past weekend I got the invitations I designed in the mail (I did the text and my sorority sister Mary Ellen did the awesome illustration - make sure you check out her site!) I am really pleased with how they look! I passed about two dozen out to people at church yesterday alone, and am going to mail about two dozen more out and give the other 80 postcards to my co-sponsor Cheryl of Cupcakinitup! and the host of the event, Marla! Cupcakinitup! and I also spent a good part of Saturday taste testing chocolate frosting for the event, attending a decorating demo at Michaels, and choosing cupcake liners (pink zebra stripped!). I can't tell you how much fun this whole event has already been! At this point I have made over 100 necklaces and earrings for the event, yet my to-do list still seems endless! Anyone have any jewelry party ideas/tips that they would like to share? :) And to add to the fun, yesterday I got an e-mail asking if I would like to be a featured vendor at a local Christian school's Christmas fundraising event in December. Would I? Sign me up! Now I have even more of a reason to create in bulk! That said, it's been hard deciding what to post on Etsy and what to save for my party. I have decided to at least have my whole front page on Etsy be items from my Fall Line, so here are another 5 items I added today (all bird themed)! Let me know what you think! (Click on any of the images to see the listing on Etsy)...
Bird with the Yellow Rose necklace
Around the Blue Birdie Bend earrings
The Spirit's Grace Necklace
Bye Blue Birdie Brass Earrings
Bird Plaque with Pink Roses necklace

September 25, 2009

Fashionably Friday: XXI

I figured with the Emmy's this past weekend I would have plenty to blog about this Friday. Sadly, though, none of the red-carpeters walkers wore anything blog worthy when it comes to jewelry. Call me picky, but even InStyle's list of "Best Emmy Jewelry" left me totally underwhelmed. Seriously, no one's jewelry was even worth blogging about. ::sigh:: So then I figured I would finally blog about all the jewelry I have been noticing on TV this week. Not only have I not been able to find the images I hoped to snag (dang you copyright police!), but I really don't want to do prime time TV overkill. Next on my list was reviewing designer jewelry, but the prices associated with rather unoriginal or foolishly ornate pieces only frustrated me. So where does a 20-something girl turn to for inspiration (and financial bliss)?... Forever XXI* :)
No need to lie. About 75% of my wardrobe hails from the chain, and even some of my jewelry components are no more than a necklace or bracelet from the store that I tore apart and re-formated. What's just as impressive as the store itself is the crazy large selection of jewelry and accessories many of the locations carry (to the point of even opening up separate accessory stores, called Love 21). But, as always, with the good comes the bad. Let's look at some of what XXI offers online this fall...
Kalese Beaded Necklace - $13.80 I LOVE THIS. In fact, when I saw it at the XXI Outlet store in Anaheim, I was really close to buying it, but couldn't justify the $13.80! (and this, ladies and gentlemen, is why I make my own jewelry, because I am picky AND cheap!)
Tribal Rings Necklace - $5.80 So instead I bought this one, partially because it was half the price, but also because it posed the perfect opportunity to tear it apart! I added some of my own round wooden beads to the chain and kept the loopy things aside - look out for them in a future project!
Open Line Leaf Earrings - $2.80 I am really loving leaves this fall, and these earrings definitely incorporate both simplicity and decadence at the same time! (Um, and they are only $2.80!)
Translucent Bead Necklace - $5.80 Ok, here's a little disclaimer (and I may be shooting myself in the foot for it). I LOVE this necklace -partially because I JUST made one JUST like it for my jewelry party! Though this one is super cute, I am sure they didn't make it with LOVE like I did?!
Pear Shaped Collar - $8.80 Story: I saw a woman walking around the cafeteria at my work a few weeks ago with this necklace on. My first thought was that it was over the top and must weigh a ton. Then I saw her wearing it a few days later and found myself giving it a second chance. When placed with a simple top, this necklace can speak volumes. I can't believe that I like it, since I am the "less is more" type, but I give it a thumbs up (and for less than $9, really? Do we need to think twice about it?).
And the ones that make you say, "Yeah, not so much..."
Exotic Cluster Necklace - $15.80 Yes, this is a necklace. Looks like something off the walls of any given Vegas hotel. Ugh.
Look, Mom! I found a new use for that brooch you bought a double of! Moving Fish Scale Necklace - $6.80 Ok, so I used to go to this vegetarian restaurant on Nanjing Lu in Shanghai when I studied in China, and every time I got the bill they gave the EXACT SAME fish out on a key chain as a souvenir. Kind of like a fortune cookie, just, ya know, more permanent. Looks like something my husband would bring home from his fishin' trip with his guys, hook and all. The vegetarian in me cringes. Rectangle Dimpled Earrings - $4.80 Jem! Is truly outrageous! Truly truly outrageous! Multi Chains w/ Ribbon Necklace - $8.80 Um, 'scuse me? I think your boyfriend left his bow tie on your...necklace?.
Just think! You can get all of these for less than $50 - combined! Lesson of the day, ladies. Just because you CAN buy it doesn't mean you SHOULD! Ok, I think that settles it. My new dream job is to design jewelry for Forever 21. Both to make sure some of these "classic" looks never happen again, and to also get on board with some rad resources and endless possibilities - and, best of all, it would be on someone else's dollar!
Happy weekend, Fashionistas!
* A note about Forever XXI. I know some people have a problem supporting chain stores that get their materials from questionable sources. Unfortunately, I find that these same people also eat at restaurants that don't qualify where they get their supplies, and buy gas from mega-sized distributors. Just sayin'.

September 23, 2009

I love you, Wednesdays.

Because, seriously, Friday is still 2 days away. I love you, Wednesdays is my bloggin' attempt at a.) shutting up about my products and sharing the love of others' with others! and b.) sharing sources of inspiration that often stands behind my jewelry and creative process. Last week my blogging friend Karen sent me a link to a website she thought I would find intriguing. Two words: heck yeah. She suggested I check out Lovely Clusters, which is a website dedicated to finding beautiful items and showcasing them by color, theme, or even season. I LOVE these kinds of websites (as mentioned in last week's ILYW blog entry!). Karen even suggested that I try to see if I could get my stuff featured on the site. I sheepishly asked the site's administer to consider Bead Up in her collection, and within a day she responded positively! So here's your challenge, everyone: visit Lovely Cluster's "Product Cluster" feature and see if you can find the two Bead Up products that are listed (hint: they are under the categories "jewelry," "autumn," "fuchsia," and "orange."). Post your answer in the comments section of this entry - the winners will get a free gift with their next Bead Up purchase! After finding my Bead Up items listed on the site, I decided to have a little fun of my own on the site. I have been saving this Crate and Barrel advertisement for some time now because I am just in love with it's color scheme. It totally mirrors what I am trying to go for in my Fall Line, both in terms of color and differing textures. Using the Product Cluster feature on the site and searching under a few of the colors listed, I came up with this little collection of color: Don't forget to visit their Etsy sites, too!
So, what inspires you today?

September 21, 2009

Fall Line 09 - I'm a machine.

This was one of the first weekend's in a long time where I didn't have massive amounts of plans consuming any potential free time. In other words, I had lots of time to make jewelry! Making jewelry, much like scrapbooking, painting, writing, etc, doesn't just happen. You need to be in the mood and have some sort of inspiration keeping you going. Sometimes I sit in front of my supplies and think "WTF am I going to do with this?" Or other times I would rather waste away in front of the TV rather than face the disaster that has become my craft room. And it always seems that when I set aside time to get crafty, I come up with excuses or have no motivation or inspiration what-so-ever. Thankfully, this weekend, none of these were the case! When I started thinking of what I wanted included in my "Fall Line," the first thing that came to my mind was brass. I have seen alot of it around the craft world lately, so I knew I wouldn't have a problem finding this unique material. I have scored alot of brass charms and findings at Michaels, but the buggers don't carry matching chain in a size of my liking! I found myself in quite the dilemma on Saturday afternoon while staring at dozens of brass charms with no chain to match. Thankfully, the Hubs agreed to join me in a little trip to downtown LA's Jewelry District, simply to find the perfect chain. It had only been 3 weeks since I was last there, but I have already used a good deal of what I bought the first time I visited and knew that this trip would be much shorter than the last since we knew where we were going this time! Compared to our last visit, the Jewelry District this time around seemed more lively and promising (maybe because we weren't intimidated by it's randomness anymore: see picture on right). It's a mix of bead stores, trim stores, fabric stores, button stores, ethnic stores, mixed in between lots of random taco, hot dog, and ice cream stands. Kids run up and down the street playing with toys, guys stand under door frames urge you to step in their shop for a look, florist man corners hoping to sell gifts for sweethearts, and fabric lines the buildings on the sidewalk. We tried to visit a few stores that we missed during our first visit, but apparently this section of town is known for closing at 3 on Saturdays (fine, then!). No worries, the main store I hoped to visit, Athenian Fashion, was open and ready for me to drop some serious cash on some chain! I had a nice chat with the owner of the store and asked him if I could take a picture to share with you all. No dice, though I did at least get him interested in posting some on Yelp. I walked away with over 100 feet of chain and enough fixings to make dozens of necklaces! With the AC and TV on and food in my belly, I sat on my oversized suede chair for the majority of the rest of the weekend, making as many necklaces as I could on my ottoman. In the past, I have been proud of myself for making at least 3 necklaces in one sitting, but with my new supplies in hand, there was no stopping me! I think it also helped that I only had what I knew I was going to use for this specific project in front of me (instead of having ALL my supplies on the table - this only ever overwhelms me!). I also used only one kind of material and had a series of components that I mixed and matched. After a few cuts, bruises, and bandaids on my fingers accompanied by a very sore back, I was shocked when I counted how much I made: 30 necklaces and 5 pairs of earrings! I separated what I planned to sell on Etsy and what I am holding for my upcoming Jewelry Party, and then tediously packaged the two dozen necklaces in preparation for a very busy October. Here's a picture of all that I made: In the meantime, here's what I posted on Etsy this morning - click on any of the images to go it's listing!
I would love to hear what you think! I hope to add more every Monday for the next few weeks until my jewelry party... keep checking in! Now, where's that Tylenol?

September 18, 2009

Fashionably Friday: Office Jewelry

This week my TiVo nearly died. No, not because it was malfunctioning, but because Fall Prime Time is in full swing and my poor little DVR was quite overwhelmed! For the past few months we have been going out of our way to find something to watch when we are folding laundry or making jewelry; now we have to actually edit what we watch because there are so many options! One show both my husband and I REALLY love, especially since I now work in an office, is, well, The Office! And last night Season Six began, and the cast was looking better than ever (and seem to just get funnier and funnier!).

One character I just heart on the show is Phyllis. Can you guess why? That woman wears some fierce jewelry! Unfortunately, she doesn’t get the internet love as much as other characters, so finding pictures of her in her digs was a bit of a challenge (let’s just say that I didn’t completely mind having to actually watch several episodes to get a glimpse of her jewelry… oh, the things I do for you all!). Here are some of my favorites (click on any of the images for the source):

(Oh, and sorry in advance for the font sizes going all over the place, I am proud that I at least got the video embedded!)

Here’s Phyllis from last night’s episode. She rocked this funky necklace (and always seems to coordinate it with the solid color of her top – you go, girl!).

This seriously, seriously looks like both something I would make and something that I actually own! From the Disco Café episode.
Sportin’ the long and chic look. I would totally wear this, too.
Phyllis makes browns and dark purples look good!

Phyllis (her real name is Phyllis, by the way!) actually commented on her character’s jewelry when NBC gave her her own bobblehead doll! Of her her Bobblehead, she said "She's got the clothes, and the hair, and the beads. As you know, Phyllis always wears beads!"

You can watch it here.

Take a look at that sexy bobblehead, too!

And let's not neglect the other ladies of the Office. Here a few pictures I found of them strutting BEAUTIFUL jewelry off the set:

Love this necklace that Jenna Fischer (Pam) is sporting. I might have to make one (especially if it could get me lookin’ like THAT – wowza).

Kate Flannery (Meredith) at the TV Land Awards in Santa Monica. Holy mother do I dig that necklace. And it’s especially perfect with that dress! I know that if I wore it, though, I wouldn’t be able to keep my hands off of it (I tend to suffer from “Always Needs Something In My Hand” syndrome).

I’ve already blogged about how I love when clothes act as jewelry. Mindy Kaling rocked this beautiful ensemble at the SAG awards this year, glowing in what seems to be diamonds and a beautiful crystallized dress. Love it! (You can also follow her on Twitter - she makes some great tweets)!

Though Angela’s character (also named Angela) on the office doesn’t prefer anything too ornate, the real Angela sure does know how to accessorize! Here she is doing a Clariol commercial (I don’t care if it was the wardrobe department who chose this, she looks great!).

Whew! That took me longer than I had expected! Why don't the internet gods just categorize pictures according to what jewelry people are wearing? It would make this so much easier! So, what on-screen jewelry are you digging this season? Do share!
Have a great weekend, lovies!

September 16, 2009

I love you, Wednesdays.

Because, seriously, Friday is still 2 days away. I love you, Wednesdays is my bloggin' attempt at a.) shutting up about my products and sharing the love of others' with others! and b.) sharing sources of inspiration that often stands behind my jewelry and creative process. I have heard that checking out blogs has been deemed "Blurfing" (blog + surfing = blurfing). Not so sure I like the phrase, as it sounds like something I would do in my mouth when I hear a nasty piece of news or unfortunately eye something I rather would have not seen. Anyway, I was "blurfing" the other day and came across this great website: 26 Olive Street. It's essentially a website that sells sweet vintage stuff (especially numbers and signs). In addition to a visually stunning blog, the site also has a "Color Match" application. I think they must have known I was coming to visit, but I feel like this little feature must have been made with me in mind (much like I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Spray and Gerber Daisy's). You start with an empty watercolor tray and an open text box. You upload your own picture to the server and type in any key words that you are looking for in particular. Click "analyze" and voila! The server searchs Etsy items whose jpg's have the same tones and lists them all for you by color! So I uploaded a picture I took in San Francisco when I lived there and decided to see what we could come up with. I especially like this picture because it's bright and colorful, yet still warm and subtle and therefore also seasonally appriate as we approach fall. Here's the picture: And here's the color pallet the server presented for one of the yellow hues: So after clicking on each color, I choose a few products that especially stood out to me and which I felt cooresponded to the image itself. Here's what I made :)
Don't forget to visit their shops!
So, what inspires you today?

September 14, 2009

Reasons to Celebrate

Well, friends, it's been a busy few months in the Bead Up world. Lots of custom orders, lots of creating a cohesive Fall Line, and lots of sales :) Here's a little re-cap of things to celebrate: Wedding jewelry I made custom pieces for some friends' weddings this summer. I blogged about making Roni's custom bracelet back in May, and had a hard time waiting for her August wedding to arrive so we could see pictures of the combination! Her pictures not only turned out beautifully, but I must say, I am super please with the combination (thanks for taking the time to take these great shots, Roni!).
(Photo by Lisa Leigh)
Back in July I also blogged about making a pearly bracelet for a high school classmate's August wedding. At this point I have yet to see any of the professional pictures I hope Sarah took of her bracelet and dress combination, but I did manage to find a few thanks to Facebook stalking ;) Finally, my child-hood friend Chrissy asked me to make her several pieces of jewelry for an Indian wedding extravaganza she was in last month. After going back and forth on the design in my mind (and blogging about it here), I am happy with how the pieces turned out (and that Chrissy was happy, too!). Custom Necklace I have been amazed with how powerful homemade advertising has gone in my little Bead Up journey. For example, I have made a point to only wear jewelry I have made as a means of showing off my products in person. This method has worked at work, in stores, at parties, and especially at church. A few months back a friend named Sue asked me if I could make her a custom necklace for a blazer for which she just couldn't find a matching necklace. Sue said that she especially liked a Red and Black Glass necklace she had noticed me wearing, but wanted it to match the hues of a very colorful blazer, particularly the pink and navy of her coordinating belt. I took mental note of the colors and was really disappointed with what Michael's had to offer, but bought a few matching tones and went with what I had. Thankfully, Sue was really pleased with the end result. Here is the necklace and her blazer, in addition to a picture of Sue and me (with respective husbands in between) in her new necklace and me in the original inspiration piece (purely coincidental!). Pi Necklace So I made this "Pi Love" necklace a month or so ago in hopes of gaining Bead Up exposure among my Sorority Sisters. Though I sent out about 200+ messages on Facebook promoting the items to my gals, I only sold 4/6 of the necklaces to ADPi's. A gal in Spain bought the 5th necklace to give to her boyfriend who, according to her, was a math student and loved Pi (I of course suggested I take off the crystal bead and replaced it with a silver bead, instead!). The last necklace I had available sold last week to a gal in Texas. After she got the necklace in the mail, she wrote: "I got the necklace today and it's soo beautiful. Just like my friend. I can't wait to give it to her. She has done so much for me in the past it's insane. Our relationship irrational and never-ending just like the digits of pi." What a great interpretation of the necklace that I had made for a totally unrelated reason - thanks, Priya! Reasons to celebrate! Bead Up has experienced several milestones in the past, but last week's was a most highly anticipated one: my 100th Etsy sale! (Don't get me wrong, I have sold more items than that since I do alot of sales off-line, if you will...). A special thank you to my dear friend Cheryl for buying the 100th item - make sure you check out her FABULOUS Cupcake Blog while you are at it! I also noticed on my map widget the other day that I had people on 5 continents visit my blog within a 24-hour time frame! Sweet! Cupcakes, Cocktails, and Creations And speaking of Cupcakes and sweets... a friend of mine from church has offered to throw me a JEWELRY PARTY! The vibe I am getting is that it's kind of like a bridal shower, but without the giving of gifts. Almost like a Tupperware party ;) My gal Marla has offered her home and her food so long as I bring the goods for an October 24th afternoon get together, entitled "Cupcakes, Cocktails, and Creations." This will (hopefully) be a great way for me to both gain exposure, sell some items, and hopefully get rid of some older items and make way for newer ones! I have never had a jewelry show before, and deciding what new items to post to Etsy and what to save for the party has been a bit of a dilemma. I anticipate having at least 50 products at the event, in addition to samples of things I can custom create and order forms for such creations. I have asked my sorority sister, Mary Ellen, to design a postcard for the event, and have asked my 100th customer Cheryl to help provide the cupcakes (she's LA's up-and-coming cupcake critic!). I'll keep you updated as to the progress of the event - let me know if you would like an invitation in the mail :) Fall Line And last but not least, I have been working hard at creating a cohesive and thematic Fall Line for this new season. I made 10 necklaces on Saturday afternoon alone, and have lots more materials within the color and material scheme to make more! As mentioned, I am torn between posting them all at the same time to Etsy, or saving some of them for my Jewelry Party. Since I am not good at keeping things to myself, I just had to post a few - more to come, of course! Here are a few that are new on Etsy. What do you think?
Forever Linked Necklace - $26
Ring Around the Copper Rosie - $14
In Bloom - $15
Happy Fall, Y'all!