My So Charmed Life

So Charmed

A Few of My Favorite Things #23

12.23.11

Confession: It’s not all about the angst and edge around here; I absolutely love vintage hankies and many other very delicate collectibles. I can’t explain this, really. I’m old enough to remember when these objects were functionally in use and there is still something about them that I find incredibly evocative. Hankies, and vintage buttons too. They just seem to hold a lot of history… women’s history, in particular.

All of the dainties pictured in this post came from one delightful shop, aptly named The Hanky Lady.

I wonder if the hanky lady herself is liquidating a lifetime collection; as of this writing the number of items in her shop is staggering 262, with only a smattering of non-hanky goods.

The fabrics and handwork on these, the amazing embroidery and lace techniques… such lost arts, for the most part. I have a personal collection of hankies gathered over the years, some are family items, but I also remember scoring many dozens of them at a clip in thriftstores back in the day. Recently I was exploring embroidery myself and used hankies as my canvases at times, here are two such objects from my finished pieces. You can see more of this adventure up on flickr, second “set” on the right called embroidery (mine).


Sugar & Spice
vintage 50’s handkerchief with added embroidery.



Snips & Snails
vintage 50’s handkerchief with added embroidery.

A Few of My Favorite Things #21 & #22

12.22.11

Just b/c you are out of wall space doesn’t mean you have to stop buying art. There are always… pillows. Above is one of my favorite pillow-makers (pillowists?), In the Seam, who I met at Renegade Brooklyn this past year. I tried to get away from their booth unscathed, but returned for one of the NYC pigeon pillows pictured above. Would love to have a whole flock!

Of course then the flock would absolutely need a sewer cover, wouldn’t they? Of course they would! Cleverly, this pillow comes in NYC, Detroit, and Seattle versions. Love!

Speaking of Detroit, here’s another pillow-person, SaltLabs, who hails from that city, but doesn’t limit his/her work to same. At this lovely shop you can buy Paris, pictured above…

…or a vintage map of the Detroit River.

WIP, 12.22

12.22.11

Coolest thing about moving my design practice to my home is that I’ve taken over the entire basement + garage here, and when designfarm hits a lull, I can dash into the jewelry studio and play. So today is a play day! Above are bits and pieces that are being patina’d and observed and considered for upcoming use.

I don’t use a lot of religious iconography in my work, but every now and then, something grabs me and insists. The sacred heart necklace is a 99-cent thriftscore and the hindu pieces came from the The Bead Warehouse. Don’t paper towels make terrific backgrounds? Maybe I will introduce that as the next Etsy craze. Wheeeeeeee!

The other two scary weeping clouds from metalsmithing class. These have set stones, which is a beeyatch, people. These are almost done. I have to go out and get some Permalac to use for setting the patina b/c wax made a big mess on this kind of surface. Pray for me.

So this has been in progress for WEEKS, a triple strand affair that is requiring a lot of planning and stopping and thinking, etc, but which I think is going to rock. I’m super ADHD in the studio (not to make light of it) and have to have like 40 things going on at once to flit back and forth… cut some tin, string some beads, brush more patina… photograph, blaaaaaag.

There’s a third little metal journal here, the red one. Making huge progress in easing the making of these. Much less struggle getting the parts and materials to comply with my wishes. Oh, the background here is this funky pink faux marbled kitchenette table I dragged out of my parent’s basement when they moved to their condo. I think it belonged to one of my grandmothers in the 50’s. It’s really gorgeous and I love being surrounded by old family “heirlooms.”

PS: Full size images over on flickr

School Projects: Ring & Bowl

12.22.11

So the way the first-year metalsmithing class worked was that complex projects were assigned for completion, and you pretty much worked on your own to figure things out. It was VERY self-directed and extraordinarily challenging.

The hollow-form ring pictured above was the second project, and I was more or less clueless for the duration of this one. I was still struggling with the &^#$!@ saw, which you can see in the flame cut-outs, and I honestly didn’t fully understand the end-product concept while I was working through the various steps to build and solder this thing. A big shout-out to substitute teacher WanJin (who studied at Cranbrook and Parsons) for help with the impossible soldering! BTW, locals, you should take Wanjin’s Crafts class at MoCo. She really rocks.

FYI, everyone’s rings were gigantic, that was the point of this exercise. When it was all done, I understood what I’d been through and felt I might be able to do it again more skillfully. That said, the number of man-hours to make something like this is absolutely mindboggling. Anyway, not a thing of great beauty, but fun, and I learned a lot. Now on to another even uglier object!

Another project to struggle through, hammering a flat piece of 18g metal into the shape of a bowl, and then affixing a base. OMG people!

I was all but ready to abandon this thing but b/c the bf somehow really liked it, I finished soldering the base on the last day of class, filled it with candy, and gifted it to him for Chanukah. I think what might have been hard for me to love about this one was that there wasn’t really a lot of self-expression built into this project and it just wasn’t a form or functional object that truly intrigued me in any way.

Of course I suppose one could turn it upside down and wear it as a hat… (runs to take bowl back from bf…).

A Few of My Favorite Things #20

12.20.11

We have a framed piece hanging in our living room from YeeHaw, which bills itself as All Letterpress, All the Time. Their work is so flipping cool, and they’ve expanded their offerings since my last visit to include clothing, cards, and calendars along with their gorgeous art prints. Pictured above is Otis Redding from their Mini Soul Series.

I’m going to send you off to Wiki to learn about letterpress printing, if you don’t all ready know, but what you can’t experience until you see it in real life is the absolute lusciousness of these inked paper surfaces. And although wide commercial use of this process fell off in the 19th century, there’s been a substantial resurgence since the 90’s (including lots of wedding invites etc, but also ART). YeeHaw is one of my favorite houses of this craft and the Robert Johnson piece above makes me feel all woozy. Is it weird to want a bigger house only b/c you need more wall space???! I think we can still squeeze a few things in.

Resin, How I Love AND Hate Thee

12.19.11

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!

A Few of My Favorite Things #19

12.19.11

I “met” Moxie over on flickr, while looking through the favorite images of some friend of a friend of a friend… and I thought she and her bright pink hair and her darling felted goodies really rocked! Of course she’s also got an Etsy site where, lo and behold, you can buy KITS to learn how to needle-felt tiny cute things like the adorable bumble bee, Little Bugger pictured above!

Or you can pony up just $20 for Moxie’s book, I Felt Awesome, and also load up on supplies like roving, as well as tools, all at hifiberknits, her corner of the Etsyland.

I really have wanted to try needle-felting for a long time, but I need another craft passion addiction like I need one more little hole in my head. Still, Moxie’s got me mighty tempted. You too?

A Few of My Favorite Things #18

12.19.11

Wishing you the best of luck in resisting the needle-felted charm of VioletPi, Shop of Little Things. The shop is the work of Jennifer Novack, and needle felting never found a more capable, imaginative and delightful hand. And yes, they are even more amazing in real life. Pictured above is Green Retro Bunny, who reminds me a lot of the work of Mark Ryden, but in 3-dimensions!

And here we have Tiny Bee, standing only 2 inches tall. Unbelievably wonderful.

Since yesterday’s post came to you this morning… stay tuned for a related post this afternoon… yes people, it’s two-fer Monday.

A Few of My Favorite Things #17

12.17.11

Beads? Me? Nahhhhh. Ok, yahhhhhhhh. And here’s a favorite place to score gorgeous beads of every flavor, from Czech glass to tribal goodness, and even some incredibly rare (and expensive) ancient beads. HappyMango will not disappoint.

PS: If you’re joining us late, I’m doing a once-per-day post through the month of December (yes, that’s 30 freaking posts), designed to help you support handmade and all things crafty for the holidays. Enjoy!

A Few of My Favorite Things #16

12.17.11

Even though I really don’t wear it all the time, I’m a scent freak and I go through periods when I’m just deeply into perfume, oils, etc. When I found the site LuckyScent, I went a little crazy… because for just $3-$7 you can sample most of the very high-end, obscure, cult, artisan fragrances that they carry… and they carry loads of them. One of my all time favorite scents is pictured above, Rhubarb, by Comme des Garcons (Series 5: Sherbet). The descriptions on LuckyScent are like little fictions, I love reading them and in the world of art perfume, these are likely a big part of the seduction. Here’s the LuckyScent scoop on Rhubarb:

Rhubarb is the tart one in the Sherbet series, perfectly capturing the sourness of a rhubarb stalk with a tiny dash of sweet. A beautifully fresh, green stem scent runs throughout the evolution, and it dries down to a creamier version–like an icy rhubarb sorbet mixed with a non-sweet (or overtly feminine) vanilla. We pick up a bit of wood (wenge) in there, too. Completely unique and unisex (go on, show us someone you know who wears a rhubarb scent), the tart green of Rhubarb is a study in converting taste into an exhilarating and crisp bottled scent. Extremely addictive, you just may drool a little when you smell this.

I find this scent to be perfect all year ’round, super fresh for warm weather, but has a weird iciness that works in the winter-time too. Although a lot of the scents carried at Lucky are truly unisex, I think this one is pretty girly. Nothing needs mentioning about the house of Comme des Garcons, right?

This is my other current scent, which I actually bought in a store in Georgetown… having determined I really really needed a new fragrance in my life. I spent a couple of hours there, until my nose went dead, and ended up with L’Ombre Dans L’Eau, by Dyptique. Dyptique is a small boutique-y perfume house founded in 1961 by three friends who had trained at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. Here’s the Lucky description of this scent, which I find hard to wear in winter unless I feel like really having a super green summery visitation:

An amazingly evocative scent, this transports you to an English riverside garden with overgrown roses and a tangle of blackcurrant bushes. This is startlingly green, almost astringent, in the opening and then the roses appear – fresh and vivid and beautiful. You can smell the wet earth of the riverbank and the berries weighing down the branches and the older petals that have fallen to the ground. The name translates as “Shadow in the Water”, and appropriately, there is a hint of melancholy here, a touch of the bittersweet. However, there is also a rejuvenating freshness – perhaps the riverside garden is where we go to recover from heartbreak. This is a truly original fragrance – and an utterly beautiful one.

If you are a freak for scent, and want to get away from department-store fragrance, you will love love love LuckyScent, those little samples are such fun to get in the mail and experiment with! Oh, and when you do make a purchase, you can also request a handful of free samples. Awesome!

Lastly, if you are buying fragrance as a gift, I do recommend purchasing something the recipient already wears and loves. Scent is so personal, and there is nothing worse than wearing a perfume you don’t like (VERY torturous!). I couldn’t find gift cards on the Lucky site, but check your recipient’s fragrance bottles and see what’s running low, then head on over to Lucky to stock up.

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