My So Charmed Life

So Charmed

Earrings & Furniture

12.17.08

I’ve gone completely earring crazy of late, creating an entire collection at the So Charmed site, cleverly titled For Your Ears Only and priced right at under $50, many under $25. Most pairs are one of a kind and ready to ship now, so if you are behind the eightball for the holidays, here’s a good option for ya.

You’ll see the usual (unusual) gorgeous beads and baubles from my vintage collection, such as the chandelier crystals above, and I’ve been experimenting with new materials, including gold vermeil.

You’ll also note that I’m having fun photographing these goodies with teeny tiny vintage doll furnishings that I’ve begun collecting. Sorry, these are not included with purchase!

The furnishings–mostly metal and plastic from the 1950’s or earlier–will eventually make it into very cool mid-century tin-litho dollhouses. I  have two bonafide ranch houses and the split-level pictured above. In which a trio of tiny skeletons is now residing… you can see them dancing in the living room if you look closely.

Stuff I Love that Other People Made

12.12.08

It had to happen. My daughter Molly and her BFF Corrie are now making–AND SELLING–jewelry. And I’m here to tell you, their stuff really rocks. I’m one of their bestest customers, and I am, as you know, a highly discerning jewelry-maven. What’s lovely about their work is that they very smartly operate within their abilities… while pushing themselves a bit to learn techniques, using available materials (much of it from their YMCA Afterschool program) and with their not-quite-grown-up girlish sensibilities… it makes for some very cool stuff. My favorites are a pair of assymmetrical earrings that use GLOW IN THE DARK glass beads, and, pictured above, the shell necklace. Sooooo lovely, so simple. Great concept, great colors, great materials (love the sea-green frayed ribbon). As I told Molls, when I wear it, it reminds me of our wonderful beach holidays. Love ya honey!!

Everyone who knows me knows I’m trying to grow my thick super-duper curly hair to never-before-reached lengths of Renaissance Jewess Goddess nirvana… (Why? I don’t know. B/C it’s a huge-mongous pain in the butt and takes like 4 hours to air dry). So, long story short, I buy a lot of hair crap. Products? Oh, yes indeed. I’ll try anything that comes along, esp. if marketed for curls. Barettes, clips and combs? HECK YEAH! The one above was scored on Etsy and it really is just so clever and adorable, made from the upcycled middle of a 45 rpm Motown record. I love it!! And, look for some new hair baubles coming in January at So Charmed.

And, arent’t these the sweetest things?? Two little handcrafted felt pins, made as a gift to me by Teresa, a dear client in Barcelona. Teresa asked which animals I’d like so I told her about Bernie and Maxi, (the Dachshunds) and Iggy and Angelo (the Tabbies) and voila! These adorable critters traveled ’round the world and came home to me. What a delightful gift. Teresa hopes to get her own shop up and running on the Internet, I’ll let you know as soon as she does.

Remember, buy handmade for the Holidays… there’s so much crafty goodness out there it’s just incredible. Your recipients will love the gifts and you’ll be supporting an entrepreneurial artist.

Like Snowflakes

10.29.08

I don’t know just how many custom charm bracelets I’ve designed and created to date… lots though. Dozens, maybe 50, maybe more. And each time one of these delightful opportunities comes into my life, I suffer a moment of doubt at first (the typical facing-the-blank-white-page fear)… Have I found all of the possible solutions? Can this one be as perfectly unique and stunning as all the others so as not to disappoint my dear customer?

The custom bracelet is a very important thing I’ve been entrusted with, and these are investment pieces, not inexpensive. I take it all extremely seriously. (Really. For once, I’m not joking around). Seriously, but joyfully, if that makes sense.

So I fret a little, but as the process unfolds, a remarkable thing happens. The emails start flying, maybe a few photos too. I read and reread, and sometimes I even read between the lines (just a little!). I ask questions and I let the project (the person really) live in some place I imagine to be a special room deep in my creative heart.

Occasionally, I wake up in the middle of the night, or first thing in the morning… and the bracelet has begun to materialize visually, in my mind’s eye. One of the first elements to show up might be color. And yet, the color is really the last thing to be finalized during the process… I don’t pull beads from my (80 and counting) fishing tackle boxes until the last charm ordered has arrived.

Usually, the colors I’ve thought of initially will become the foundational palette. Occasionally though, I am surprised by something that happens during the design process. The bits of red in Cathy’s Lovely Garden was one such surprise. And it really worked with all of the gorgeous ambers, coppers and greens as just the right tiny hit of bright color. The neons in Lee Anne’s Carpe Diem were tricky and I wasn’t sure I could pull that off. The result was unexpected even though I’d had a rough plan.

The two bracelets pictured through this post were in my studio during a recent overlapping period. Lee Anne, a super creative and beautiful young American girlie is a riot of celebratory charm and color. Cathy, a gorgeous artistic woman living in the UK with her young son is a lovely garden of wise warmth and cherished memories. If you look closely, they both have a charm in common, a vintage rhinestone studded butterfly from a pair of earrings I had found months prior. I love that and hadn’t realized I’d done it!

Like snowflakes, no two are ever alike. And it is always a privilige, an honor, and just plain fun getting to know each of you and creating art in the form of keepsake jewelry to charm and delight you! To learn more about the custom process and some idea of costs, scroll down to the bottom of the custom page at So Charmed. Think it over a bit, and then get in touch. I’d love to hear from you.

Circus

10.25.08

I’m just so obsessed with the circus lately, it’s bordering on (or has become) a weird sickness in its own right. I am old enough to have been to many many circus’s and carnivals as a young child. Suffice to say, I found almost nothing to enjoy, and everything to fear and loathe. Some say I was a “sensitive” child. Ok, yeah… well, that’s true in retrospect. 40+ years later, I find these paralyzing nightmares to be worth revisiting as content for art. And so we have a family of performing bears (grouping of pins).

Scary ladies in exotic costumes and requisite evil clowns (series of badges/necklaces).

Sideshow freaks: half something, half something else (series of pins).

First, I love finding the materials, many of them vintage and handcrafted, and sometimes collected and catalogued over several years before coming together into a final product. Also I enjoy the image-making as much as the jewelry-making; I studied photograhpy in school and at one time had designs on practicing photography as a fine art fulltime. Taking pictures remains a deep passion.

I am frankly unsure if these items will ever find audience but you know, I am not really thinking about that so much in this particular series. There are places in my creative life where the client matters most of all, and a few where it is all about a certain perfection of expression, more purely so.

Does this look like fun to you?

08.23.08

Molly and I spent a week at our beloved Rehoboth Beach Delaware this August, basking in the sun and ocean, eating horrific but delicious junk food and chasing Amish people with our camera (another story for another time)… but the thing we did the most, or at least with the most intensity was… gambling at Funland. For this I am certain that I am destined for the Bad Mom Hall of Fame, but damn it, it was FUN. Why do you think they call it Funland??

Because it looks like a prison camp for (gasp) Bad Mommies, complete with monochromatic concrete slab architecture, a frightening guard tower (clearly manned by an armed guard stationed to kill the Bad Moms), ominous hovering gulls that resemble bats, and possibly the worst use of Helvetica ever imagined?

Nope, none of those things. They call it Funland because you can pump quarters into insanely noisy colorful machines, like the one pictured above, for endless hours and win prizes such as the one pictured below.

Funland is actually really fun. As a grown-up, you think you are going to hate it. Stepping inside this Barracks of Fun, you wish you had doubled up on your anti-anxiety meds. There is so much noise and color and so many kids racing around feverishly out of control that you think you may throw up. Then you put a few quarters into a few slots and watch those tickets come flying out. You start to buy into the promise of hitting a JACKPOT. And in minutes, your entire vacation budget is about to be blown to smithereens.

This was our favorite machine. Within the first 10 minutes of our first night at Funland, I hit that freaking jackpot when the machine had reached 567 points. Tickets spilled out for over 8 minutes while kids gathered round, jaws dropping, eyes glistening with envy. It was somehow both embarrassing, and glorious.

The loot. Molly and I high-fived for about a half-hour. I had a sense that this was how it felt to be lugging around a stuffed animal the size of a human being that you’ve just won for your kid. I never win anything!! It was a blast!

This photo really captures the energy of Funland. Molly does not think that at age Mid-Century I am too old to go on carnival rides so here I am, lurching camera in hand, riding the wacky tea cups and wondering if my dinner (Pizza from Louie’s. Again.) is going to come flying back up and out of my mouth.

At the end of our beach week, we cashed in. Molly had carefully folded our massive quantity of tickets so they could be easily fed into the Ticket Muncher machine, which handles the math, and spits out a reciept for you to take to the prize counter and drive some poor teenager to a life of underage drinking while you agonize for an hour, reversing decisions, asking to see and touch everything, &tc, &tc, &tc.

Kids passing by while we were feeding the machine were incredulous. 2033 tickets =  a LOT of Funland crap merchandise. We cashed in for THREE glitter lamps (kind of like a lava lamp only better), a Funland coffee mug and other tschochkes. We’d spent about $50 during our two visits, and had the time of our lives.

Memo to parents: It’s lots more fun than it looks and your kids will love you more than they ever have for any reason, good or bad. And, set a spending limit before you even head to the beach. Then… let yourself go go go even though you can’t afford to put gas in your car!

Summer in The City

07.22.08

It was 100 degrees in the shade but that didn’t stop me, Molly, Corrie (Molly’s BFFL), David (the BF), and Irene (the BF’s mom) from romping around both the Lower East and West Sides of Manhattan last weekend. Molly and Corrie dressed as twins the entire weekend, making it easy to keep track of them! Like a school field trip. The murals around St. Mark’s Place were so cool…

But the community gardens were mind blowing. As we made our way down 6th Street and Avenue A, we began to notice these little inviting entrances. It took awhile for us to actually understand… we could enter these magical places, some of which were over 30 years old, with ancient weeping willows and decorations made of cans and other debris (above).

We imagined ourselves in a foreign land, forgetting the oppressive heat and the pungent smell of the East Village on a blistering summer day. Mexico?

A peaceful retreat in India?

Even with decaying old buildings peeking through the willows, it wasn’t hard to imagine we were on an adventure in some wild forest.

When we finally managed to tear ourselves away from the gardens and return to the streets, we made our way to a tiny little neighborhood bar, Banjo Jim’s, which has live indie music 7 nights a week and whose unofficial slogan is “there’s a whole lotta love in the room.” There was a whole lotta of love at Banjo JIm’s on Saturday when one of my oldest friends in the universe, musician and surrealist painter, Wayne Kral, co-hosted his weekly open mic event.

We signed David up to play a couple of tunes, and Wayne put Molly and Corrie behind the bar to serve sodas, run the cash register and collect EIGHT BUCKS worth of tips!! When asked their age, they cleverly stated that they were 21. At ages 10 and 11 respectively, this is of course true. When added together. I was proud to see the girls using their math skills during the summer and felt that bartending was a smart career move from Molly’s last job in Homeland Security as a school patrol. The pay was better, anyway.

The BF may have been a tad bored awaiting his turn to play; it was a bit folky for his taste. It was probably Irene’s first time in 83 years hanging out in a bar in the East Village, and she had a terrific time. Really. She did! You could ask her!

Finally it was David’s turn and he tore the place up with an original tune, You’re Breaking Up (The Cellphone Song), and Graham Parker‘s Turn it Into Hate.

Earlier in the day we’d had lunch at Dumpling Man on St. Mark’s, a very sweet place that sells nothing but Asian dumplings (and a small amount of clothing boasting their cute logo) and those little kreplach (as Irene so rightly pointed is just exactly what a dumpling is) were sublime. Like many NYC establishments, the place was the size of a closet. We sat at a bright red bar behind which four Chinese women made the dumplings and chattered on and on. They were very taken with Molly and Corrie, and although we had NO idea what they were saying, we assured everyone that they were most likely remarking on how beautiful and sweet the girls were.

After our East Village Romp we shlepped West to Soho where we dined on amazing pizza slices in an unairconditioned joint that was as hot as the seventh ring of Haides. The pizza was divine, and David was certain that Ben Kingsley was sitting at the next table over.

Dumplings, pizza… by now you would think we’d be succumbing to a major carb overdose, but my little dumpling Molly wasn’t yet finished with Lower Manhattan’s boutique eateries. Bellies full, we slowly hiked over to Little Italy to our favorite rice pudding snackateria… the always FABULOUS Rice to Riches. There we treated ourselves to heaping bowls of the comforting pudding and Irene complimented the staff on the super clean bathrooms.

And then, it was back to New Jersey for a very tired-out crew.

We heart NY.

Gettin’ Crafty

06.13.08

Live in or near the DC Metro Area? Then this will be of interest…

I’m very excited to announce that my company designfarm’s little sister enterprise, the wonderful not-just-for-profit, MyRight2Write.com, will be joining 80 other fabulous vendors at the first annual Washington City Paper sponsored Crafty Bastards Silver Spring crafts show!

For some reason, I had it in my mind that this show was going to be the younger, smaller, more bastardier bastard child of Crafty Bastards The Adams Morgan (DC) Show… truly one of the best-known and most highly regarded shows in the country… but NOOOOOOO. Folks, after attending a vendor orientation meeting earlier this week, I am happy to report that this absolutely will NOT be the case!

Check out the Vendor Gallery to see the best of the best DIY crafters in the Metro Area, very close to the same number that set up at the fall show downtown. Jewelers, clothing designers, monster makers, toy creators, stationers… a veritable plethora of talent. In addition, there will be a Supply Swap booth; bring supplies to donate and take some supplies home, free! There will also be bands, food… a whole day’s worth of stuff to do, see, and buy (including of course our fabulous journals and one of a kind handprinted clothing). We are working hard on having our most fun products ever, including tons of clothing for kids and grown ups and new mini-journals that are just $3 each! They are super cute.

The show is bing held at Pyramid Atlantic (directions), 8230 Georgia Avenue, just a block or two south of the main Silver Spring downtown area. Very Metro accessible, Red Line, Silver Spring stop.

Last year’s downtown Bastards event reportedly had an attendance of 20,000 people! Yes, you read that correctly. Wanna get the goods? Come early and come often.

Bijoux

06.11.08

Having one’s work curated for inclusion in a high-end European art jewelry book is really an incredible experience.

Since the person who contacted me initially was located in Barcelona, I was surprised when the book arrived in French. As you know, I do have a fake French lady alter-ego (Mme. Eclore), but this does NOT mean I am able to read what the text says about me. Still, there is much to get out of simply looking at the pictures, which go back and forth from artist’s sketches to finished pieces.

With jewelry, as in other arts, sometimes that which is critically acclaimed is a “box-office” disaster. The piece selected from my submissions was Soul Pirate, pictured above. It resides in the private collection of the artist, which is where some things land that don’t sell but are personal favorites. I designed the piece and had the supah heavy sterling centerpiece made up by a ghetto fabulous bling outfit in Los Angeles. I wear this piece a lot and my BF threatens to steal the phrase for a song. Mistakenly, I thought these would sell like hotcakes… but alas, the ridiculous cost of sterling, plus the fabrication outsourcing, priced this baby right out of the market.

My favorite spread in the book is pictured above. With over 600 pages (and a cute small format that makes the thing suitable as a door-stop or shot-put, there really is a ton of great work on view. I was honored (also mystified not to mention humbled) to be included with some real luminaries in the field.

Bijoux: Illustration et Design is published by maomao publications, a house publishes loads of really gorgeous art, design, and fashion books, and I’m in touch with them to find out just where you might purchase a copy.

MyRight2Write @ SOWEBO Arts Fest, Baltimore!

05.20.08

The MyRight2Write Crew will be setting up and selling our beautiful handcrafted altered composition book journals THIS WEEKEND, Sunday May 25th, at the SOWEBO Arts Festival. As you surely know by now, for each journal we sell, a composition book will be donated to Piney Branch Elementary School this fall.

In addition to a huge selection of the wallpapered journals, we’ll be bringing a new batch of our one of a kind recycled Tee + Journal Combos, including a totally adorable must-have pair of pajama bottoms!! Come out and say hello and help us meet our goal of 300 donated composition books by the time school opens in late August.

There will be 20 bands, and loads of art, crafts and food, from 12 – 9 pm.

Directions from the DC Metro Area: Take 95 North to 395. 395 becomes Martin Luther King Blvd. Take MLK to Lombard and turn left. 3 Lights to Arlington, turn right… festival is there: 36 Arlington Ave. Baltimore, MD 21223. If you need more info, email me.

Oh, and what does SOWEBO stand for? South West Baltimore! Yay!!!

Great Design for a Great Band

05.14.08

The only thing better than a night of hard-hitting rock ‘n roll (lead, no less by one of DC’s original punk rockers and Molly’s dad, Glenn Kowalski, aka Jake Whipp) is being invited to the show by way of a kick-ass email flyer, designed by the ultra talented Beth Clawson. Check out 7 Door Sedan’s “glam psychedelic soul thing” TOMORROW NIGHT at DC’s hip H Street spot, The Red and the Black (details above).

To receive Beth’s cool invites in your email inbox, sign up at the band’s Web site. Visit their myspace page to hear their groovin’ sound.

The Quarry House Tavern (beers. burgers. basement.) not only claims to be “Silver Spring’s favorite dive for over 70 years” but is lately threatening to actually put the revitalized downtown ‘hood on the DC Area’s musical map. I highly recommend this underground pub where new owner Jackie is booking great local bands, serving up such treats as fried pickles, and where you’ll find an unparalleled exotic beer menu.

Another spot where The Sedan + friends have been making the scene is Baltimore’s Sidebar Tavern, where punk shows rule the night, and John Waters has been known to stop by. A fun place that pretty much defines hole-in-the-wall.

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