April 26, 2010

Pearls a Plenty!

I love me some pearls. Not only do I love wearing them, but I love creating with them because they are an affordable luxury. A few weeks ago when I was in Quartzsite, AZ I bought more pearls that I usually buy in China (in fact, I bought the kinds of pearls that up until then I had only ever found IN China)! 
This first necklace in particular is inspired by the FIRST pearl necklace I ever made for myself. I bought these green pearls at "The Dirt Market" in Beijing in 2004 and, not knowing any better, strung them on fishing wire and a lame-o twist-it clasp. I love wearing it with another similar green necklace in layers (as seen here in a picture of me back in 2007 right before seeing Phantom on Broadway) :)

So here is the new and improved version, available on Etsy:

Purple Pearl Princess Necklace

I also bought some pearl balls, which I used to make necklaces back when I first opened my Etsy shop in 2008 - they sold so fast but I couldn't get more charms to re-stock them! Should have known I would find them in Quartzsite -- and in different colors!

Cream and Silver Pearl Cluster Necklace

Gold and Salmon Pearl Cluster Necklace

I also had some fun creating custom jewelry with pearls this week. My sorority Big, Katie, e-mailed awhile back asking for some custom jewelry as a gift for her cousin at her graduation. Katie said: "She likes purple and funky, though not really chunky... plus she has dark skin and dark hair, so a deep purple would really flatter her features." I suggested to Katie that I play with some of the deep purple pearls I bought last week, in addition to a stash of purple seed beads I have had sitting around the house. She and I agreed on a long necklace that could be wrapped around the neck and be worn long or short, in addition to a coordinating (not matching!) bracelet (aiming for funky but not chunky). Here is what I came up with:
(bracelet pays homage to one of my favorite bracelets to sell, though most time consuming to make, from when I first opened my shop)

And here is what Katie had to say:
"*MOUTH WIDE OPEN* Man, I love them!!!  You have done an amazing job, Christyn.  Seriously, these are sooooo gorgeous!!!  I am thrilled with them-- I can't wait to give them to my high-style cousin.  I think she is going to love them! I have to show these to my husband.  They are awesome!  Thank you soooooooo much!"

::pats self on back...!::

Katie also asked for a somewhat simple, single pearl necklace to go with the pearl earrings she wearing everyday. She said, "I really want a simple necklace that has a twist to it -- possibly a single pearl with wire wrapped around the top in a cone formation?" I thought and thought about how to go about making this, and finally sat myself down and went to town -- and on the first try came up with this...!

Katie liked it: "Ah!  Score again.... geez, Christyn, you're good!  I really like it a lot!!!  Perfect for what I want-- everyday wear, with something a little special.  I love that it's made by you and not something generic I picked up on sale at Kohls!"

I will be posting more custom creations later this week... in the meantime, I better get back to creating my Summer Line!

April 23, 2010

Fashionably Friday: Jewelry Holders

Awhile back I asked readers to submit pictures or descriptions of how they store their jewelry (I mean, who can forget this amazing Barbie example?). The most basic answer, I found, was that some of you just kind of "throw" some of your jewelry in boxes or bowls. And while jewelry boxes are common, looks like they are more of a wish-list item than a reality, which has left some of your necklaces in a tangle :) Here is what you all had to say: 

Linny said: "I keep my jewelry in a plain jane jewlery box. The hubs has been wanting to buy me one of those cool little double door closet like long jewerly boxes but I dont even think I have enough to put in there. Not gonna lie, I have been known to have to untangle a neclace or two for about an hour." 

While Nilsa said: "Someday I'll be all grown up and get a real jewelry box. For now, I hang my necklaces on the back "bar" of a low bookshelf, throw earrings in a fancy bowl and throw my wedding rings in a different bowl (they get my very own version of special treatment)."

Karen admitted: "Well, my jewelry organization and storage would bore you to tears.....its all in little boxes, in a drawer. I haven't been wearing a ton of jewelry since having kidlets, but with my daughter big enough to not accidentally rip a piece off of me, I should start digging through there again!"

As a jewelry designer, Jewel Divas goes to great lengths to keep her collection neat and organized: "Currently I have each set in ziplock bags all lined up in two draws of my tallboy. It keeps them away from hairspray etc and stops them discolouring faster than they need to. I also have them colour coded and single bits like all spare bracelets in a bag, or earrings or necklaces." 

My sorority sister Lindsay recently blogged about how her jewelry drawer had turned into a bit of a war zone. Here is the before:

And after utilizing ice cube trays (brilliant!), here is the after!

Though Linsday confesses she is OCD when it comes to her jewelry collection and drawer, I would like to introduce you to her contender: Rachel Zoe. InStyle magazine recently did a magazine feature on the Bravo star and how she organizes her own jewelry creations (which she features on QVC). In one word: excessive. At least she admits to being loud in her style: "I'm definitely not a minimalist and definitely over-the-top. In my mind, being overdressed is not a bad thing at all. What's the worst case scenario? That you are the best-dressed person in the room? Who cares!" Um, sure, if that's what you want to call it! Here are a few pictures:
Ok, so I think it's darling that you use vintage LV suitcases and a part of your closet to store your jewels. But really? Why do you have enough necklaces, bracelets, and earrings to take up that much space? She reports that she wears "probably - at least - 12 pieces" of jewelry per day. Man, at that rate, Bead Up would be rollin' in the dough if everyone lived like that!

Looks like her collection, and sketching, take over her living room table. I can relate! Zoe says she has been collection jewelry since she was 11. Haven't we all? ;)

Quote: "You know that rule, 'When in doubt, take something off'? For me, I just put on more!"

::smacks hand in forehead::

Moving back to reality... As for me, I am partially embarrassed by my means of storing my jewelry. Don't get me wrong, when it comes to my Etsy inventory, I carefully put each item in a small plastic bag and organize them by genre. But when it comes to how I store my own jewelry, well, sometimes it's hit or miss:
Ok, this example is not that bad. I bought this cool wire bodice thing from Ross before my first jewelry show and have been putting it to good use :) I hang my dainty necklaces and dangly earrings from here, though they end up on the dresser or in a dish more often than not ;) 

For example: 
Other earrings (and dust) ends up here, along with lose hair ties and random bracelets. Or they end up here:

along with bobby pins and stray buttons!

But my chunky necklaces end up here:
(all but three of those are Bead Up made). 

And though I know technically you shouldn't hang things made from thin wire or string, I figure I use them all often enough to justify displaying them on the tree (except my pearls - I do lay those down flat, though unprotected, on the dresser itself). 

So there you have it! Thanks to everyone who participated! Those of you whose answers and pictures I featured (except you, Rachel Zoe) get FREE shipping from Bead Up's Etsy site, in addition to a free gift with any purchase made between now and May 1st! Thanks for your contributions!

April 12, 2010

MIA Monday: Quartzsite, Arizona

I wish thoughtfully posting to my blog was as easy as it is to upload a photo to Facebook. That way I would be much more regular in my Bead Up postings and not feel like I have to cram in everything once I do get a chance to blog it up! In other words, so sorry for seeming MIA!
For what I have lacked in posts I have made up in preparing for my Summer Collection ("Huh?" you may ask, "What happened to your Spring Collection?" Good question, o' faithful reader. Due to crazy life changing events going on this spring, I am going to put everything I had planned to make this spring into a Summer Collection - and now that I bought tons of new supplies I have my work cut out for me!). 

This week the hubs, the dogS (we adopted ANOTHER one!), and I drove to Tucson, Arizona to visit family. I forgot how much I loved suburbia when a HUGE Jo-Ann Etc. and Michael's greeted me in Arizona. The hubs and I went out of our way to schedule in a good chunk of time visiting Jo-Ann on our way out of town, so already I felt like the otherwise obligatory visit was advantageous to this beader.

However, on our way home I spotted a huge billboards that simply stated "GEM WORLD: Beads and Findings, this exit." I TOLD the Hubs that we would be making an unexpected pit stop at this promising place in the hopes that I will leave with a good story or two, especially considering that we were literally in the middle of the Arizonan desert near the California border (as evident in this picture). I figured I would find either some great trucker-stop-type souvenirs or a cool selection of over-priced turquoise. What I found in the fittingly titled town, Quartzsite, however, was MIND BLOWING.

After accidentally passing by the store on "Main Street" (the only street in this otherwise truck stop), I parked on a dirt lot behind "Hardes Bead and Jewelry." The store featured Native American-esk jewelry in the front of the store and lots of beading supplies and products in the back. At first glance I figured that I buy everything that I saw at the store just as well in the Los Angeles Jewelry District, until I saw a sign that said "Everything 50% off marked price!" Suddenly everything was a total deal! I walked away with a bunch of Swarovski and glass crystals that would have cost me at least $40 elsewhere and paid only $13! Score!

Walking past souvenir merchants and locals who have set up shop out of the back of their trucks, I came across the store I was waiting for: GEM WORLD. I walked in and couldn't believe my eyes: aisles and aisles of gems and findings and coral and turquoise and necklaces and earrings and on and on and on! Not only was there a vast selection, but ALL THE BEADS WERE ON SALE! We are talking 75%-off turquoise and coral; $1 pearls by the strand, crystals for less than a dollar... in other words, it was like I was in China again! 

I quickly grabbed a basket and went to town as quickly as I could since the Hubs and dogs were in the car. I managed to buy all kinds of gemstones and pearls and findings within 10-minutes and rushed out to the car to show my family. The Hubs was so impressed that he encouraged me to go back in the store and do it again. NO problem! I went back in and did it again, and this time didn't hold anything back. Overall, I bought what would have been over $500 here in LA yet only spent a 1/5th of that. I asked the guy at the counter where he got most of his beads -- turns out China, so he and I had a good little chat of all that's available in Shanghai. He also said that they are moving to a 2-story location later this Spring, which will include several big-screen TV's for all the unfortunate husbands who have to come and wait for their ladies to get their beading on! Um, who wants to make a trip to the middle-of-nowhere, Arizona?
Here's a look at what I bought:

I also bought something pre-made for myself. I can't remember the last time I bought a necklace for myself, but when I saw this one, I looked and looked over it for a good 5-minutes thinking of ways I could take it apart and re-string it. I could think of no ways I would want to change it! And best of all, it was only $5! I think I am going to take notes from this bold piece and make some similar pieces for Bead Up!

Whew! What a trip! I literally had an adrenaline rush to last for the rest of the trip thanks to the amazing deals in the middle of nowhere, Arizona! Now I have LOTS of work ahead! New pieces to come soon!

April 2, 2010

Custom Lock and Key Necklace

A few weeks ago I blogged about making a series of custom Mustache necklaces for my high school buddy and Mustache connoisseur John. At the end of the post, I asked:

"Do you have a concept/idea that you would like to see Bead Up carry? I really dig these kinds of requests -- though to be fair, it may take a few months for me to find the parts! If you have a request and I successfully am able to carry it on my Etsy site, you will get a copy for FREE (unless it's one-of-a-kind, then I will include free shipping instead)!! So... leave a comment on this post or e-mail me! The next featured item could be yours (and could even be free)!"

My blogging buddy Linny wrote soon after with a really cool request: "For the past 4 years I've been shopping around for a necklace/charm that has something to do with a lock or locks. Lock is my married name and I have been wanting a necklace that I can wear proudly, so if you happen to be shopping and see an awesome lock type charm or something similar and are able to make a necklace out of it let me know and I'll buy it off of you. I totally trust your judgment in jewelry making."

I found it TOTALLY ironic that Linny asked about a lock necklace because I had JUST purchased a bunch of lock and key charms based on this design I saw in InStyle magazine. I told Linny about the charm and asked if she would like any color added to the necklace and in what color: aquamarine and silver were my answers. And here is the result: 

Linny loved it. She wrote: "OMG, I love it! It's simple but not too simple :) The 'hope' charm does even it out. I really really like it."

Though Linny wanted to pay for it, I told her that it was on me since I had advertised to carry such a necklace for free on Etsy :) So here are the corresponding Etsy products:

Silver Lock and Key Gemstone Necklace

So, what do you think? And do you have any ideas for a piece for yourself or someone else that Bead Up could tackle?

Meanwhile, HAPPY EASTER! He is Risen!