My So Charmed Life

So Charmed

My Reconstructed Life

11.16.13

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As the weather turns cold, I seem to turn to textiles as my preferred art form. Pictured above and below, a recent construction. The beautifully embroidered top was found as-is, been trying to find a way to work with it for YEARS. Ancient tattered and be-sequined black tulle/lace affixed. Worn as an apron (ties in back) over a very vintage cream slip. I love the way my bones necklace looks with it and will probably wear this all together.

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Made this a little while ago, a fairly simple deconstruction of a thrifted vintage black wool jacket, with some very pretty very old lace. Beneath it is an Antik Batik dress purchased at a consignment shop in the Marais Distric, Paris. Most divine thing ever.

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Another decon jacket with children’s scissors affixed. Has weird red velvet reverse patches and several men’s ties, one of which hangs down like a long strap from the bottom. For some reason, I’m always narrowing the sleeves down to being very skinny and fitted.

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The back has more of the strange and surreal shapes. I think this one is sort of Schiaparelli inspired.

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Another (and very moody!) shot of two pieces from last year… very tribal 80’s fusion, with neon and animal print and vintage Afghani jewelry for sytling.

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I shall leave you with this, a dress you may have seen many times, The Broken Teacup. I still delight in this piece and am always amazed to see it linked and pinned all over the Internet. You can visit all of these photos in larger sizes over on my flickr.

And now… back to sewing, dears!

WIP: Tassels, Not Hassles

02.08.13

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The completed necklace above is fashioned from an Afghani artifact, a heavily beaded tassel, probably used to decorate a camel. This is unlisted due to my complete inability to part with it.

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Here then, is another gorgeous tassel I’ve been trying to work with, this one is African and made of leather. The colors are amazing, both dirty and brilliant in perfect combination. The beaded ring is my addition but I can’t seem to properly finish this WIP.

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Above is the most recent tassel experiment, made from an upcycled plastic Winchester rifle bullet casing that is insanely rusted and distressed, then gilded (of course). I have a batch of these in the most wonderful desert-faded colors. This is all very unfinished, just playing right now with materials and thought you’d enjoy seeing the influences leading to the design.

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I know I will be using these Indonesian blue glass beads; amazing color against the red.

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And the Indian sari silk fiber is working for me. I love how all of these tassely objects are related to one another, coming from arid deserts and plains, the recycling and repurposing, how in some cultures even the animals are adorned to the hilt… but the humans too. I don’t know what I’m saying, I’m just…. all jazzed up about… tassels.

These pics are over on flickr in case you want to ogle them larger.

Lastly, I am planning to donate a portion of proceeds from any/all jewelry that utilizes bullet casings to a US gun control organization, so if you want to recommend one, please comment or email me.

WIP: Rocking Out

02.01.13

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Suddenly. In. Love. With. ROCKS!!!!!! Pictured above, from the top: fluorite, blue calcite, citrine (but suspiciously looks like calcite and am contacting dealer about this), raw garnets (!), amazonite and quartz points. Gemstones are MUCH cheaper by the strand, and ebay is a good bet for locating best pricing.

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Big batch of Rocking Rings made yesterday, now being varnished to protect the gold leafing and patina work. As soon as they’re dry I’ll start listing. They are really and truly beautiful, if I do say so, and although chunky, very wearable. Earrings are coming next, can’t wait to play with these stones in that context. As always, larger photos up on flickr for your viewing pleasure.

WIP: Gilded Age

01.27.13

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Have discovered gold metal leaf.

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Am in the process of gilding pretty much everything in site, including this amazing piece of Russian military surplus, a small metal tube that will become a necklace focal. I’ve got a batch of these babies to play with.

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And this simple pair of vintage brass findings… I love how the metal leaf clings to and shows the fine detail of the… metal leaf(s).

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A big-ass ancient glass chandelier crystal gets the gilding treatment, creating a weird world-within-a-world effect as you can see the inside of the other side through the front side. Yeah.

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Here’s a finished piece, a ring holding 2 raw crystals, citrine and amethyst. Then goldified, oxidized, and totally effed up. In a good way. I hope. Ring section coming soon over at So Charmed. Lots of these beauties will be for sale at rock bottom prices. harhar.

Bigger pics for better examination of the (charmingly) rustic and pathetically unskilled job of gold leafing of which I am capable: flickr.

A great gold leafing video, watch and learn and then go make your own mess!

WIP: Odd Pairings

01.22.13

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I like to fool myself into thinking that anyone could possibly be interested in my creative process, the inner workings of my designing mind at the earliest stages of making things. Hence, WIP (work in progress). Everything here represents an idea in formulation, not remotely finished.

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This is how it begins with earrings. Vast supplies in my studio. Many little things scattered on every available surface. One day the things… they start making their way toward one another as if by some poetic pull. At the top of the post, an Afghani coin finding with brilliant emerald glass, a gear with verdigris patina, an ancient crystal bead and a piece of industrial trash. Above, a newer finding paired with a Mexican milagro.

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More Kuchi coins above (these are used in traditional costume including belly dance) with lovely glass rubies, being riveted to a pair of seriously rusted bottle caps scavenged from some American desert. Fiber may be added at some point.

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How do these tiny objects — a old discarded button, an African Vaseline trade bead, a bumpy middle Eastern bead, a tiny verdigris sparrow — come together? Some ways might be: color, form, content, texture, juxtoposition of cultures and histories. Things that resonate as similar or opposite, or both. The rule of chance encounters. The joy for me is that I don’t think much about any of this.

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Part of it is the trained eye, the practiced hand, designing for years, decades, a lifetime. Part of it might be something inaccessible; dreams, associations. Above, an ancient glass button, possibly 1920’s, likely European, paired with a Mexican heart milagro charm. A tiny visual poem begun, beauty, an adornment.

Charming Shadowbox

11.28.12

A comment from the mom of the baby whose bracelet is pictured in the below post mentioned that she was considering making a shadowbox to contain the bracelet for display during the years prior to her daughter being able to wear it.

This jogged my memory of creating just such a box when I designed a wedding gift charm bracelet for a friend who I wasn’t sure would be able to wear the chunky bangly thing too often… but might want to display it in her home rather than keeping it in a jewelry box hidden away.

The photos aren’t great, but I hope you get the idea. The raw pine box was purchased inexpensively at Michael’s crafts store and has a glass front door. I stained the box and lined it with pretty craft papers, including a scrap from the actual printed wedding invite, installing two small nails on the back wall for hanging the bracelet.

I then added a few treasures to the bottom floor of the box, a miniature cake and some dried rose petals. I honestly can’t remember if I ever resolved creating a way to hang the box on a wall, or if I just left it as something to display on a shelf or tabletop (probably the latter). I had a moment’s thought to offer these custom boxes for sale along with my charm bracelets, but ultimately decided that the amount of work involved was just beyond what I could probably charge. It isn’t hard, and you CAN do it yourself! If you have any questions or want support with your own shadowbox project, drop me an email any old time! xoxo

Charming Charminess

11.26.12

Those of you who’ve known me for awhile might remember that my little jewelry business, So Charmed, began in 2001 as a small Web site selling themed charm bracelets with titles like Alien Abduction, Mod Squad, and Tutti Frutti. There were Alice in Wonderland bracelets and darker gothy pieces. Shortly after, I began designing custom charm bracelets for clients the world over… from the US to the UK, from Lebanon to Paris. Lots and lots of charm bracelets, each with a highly personal story to tell. And then… I took a break from charm bracelets.

When Margie’s family got in touch recently to request a gift bracelet, I couldn’t say no. Pictured at the top of the post, with additional detailed shots, the process, result, and exclamations of joy from Margie reminded me fully why I LOVE LOVE LOVE creating these magical little heirlooms.

Margie’s bracelet is sweet-with-a-bite, titled: Smitten, Bitten, and a Kitten. It includes the articulated fangs shown above and loads of vintage beads in dusky candy colors. After doing dozens, possibly hundreds of these, I can tell you, the endless nature of how they turn out never ceases to amaze me. And I’d really like to start offering them again on my site!

Above is Margie’s daughter Abby’s bracelet… a long ago creation. Completely coincidentally, I chose the SAME kitty bead for Mom’s bracelet! Everything is up for grabs on these pieces… thematically, stylistically, color, charm selections. Materials are all sterling… sometimes with pewter charms used to keep costs lower.

Above is the add-a-charm bracelet designed for a one-year-old who is very special to me and my family. I left the bracelet blank enough to receive goodies annually. Please note, the bracelets are NOT appropriate for children or even super-active teens. They do have a certain inherent fragility, and should be handled with some care. Charms can be soldered in place for added security, this adds greatly to cost though. This and other childhood pieces are curated for presentation at a much later date.

One of the most elaborate bracelets I ever created was Wendy’s, pictured above. This one includes many custom resin charms, which are not at this time being offered. Still available though are an endless variety of gorgeous sterling and enameled charms, food charms, vintage charms, even a Tiffany’s gift box charm. The sky really is the limit.

Custom charm bracelets start at $400 + insured priority shipping; this covers my time and the basic supplies with pewter charms. Most of the pieces cost $450-600, with some going much higher. What drives the cost higher?Sterling/enameled and other specialty charms, vintage rare charms, and soldering (+$20 ea charm). The best approach is for YOU to decide your budget or range, and then I will work within that. Intrigued? Get in touch! And stay tuned for a section on the site offering these lovelies once again.

PS: No, I probably can’t get one done by xmas. In the past though, holiday recipients have been gifted with cards telling them that something verrrry special is being custom-designed and made for them. Trust me, no one has been disappointed to date!

Atelier Charm

11.01.12

Anyone who sews understands the frustrations of having to haul your machine onto the dining room table, make a huge mess, run upstairs to where the ironing board lives, clean everything up for dinner, and begin again. Agonizing, especially during an intense time of creating. Here are photos of my newly created nook. Above, among other things, you can see the little Indian dress which I am in the process of altering to fit… and it’s coming out GREAT!

It’s taken nearly a decade of living in my little house to figure out that I had the space and even the furnishings I needed to work this out in a far more satisfying and workable way. Above you can see that I used free weights against the folding table legs to help fortify it. I’d still like to find a sturdier table at the thrift sometime.

Top floor of the house is basically one master bedroom suite, outside of which is a lovely hallway / anteroom that is actually big enough for a small sewing elf such as me to feel cozy working in. Above you can see my grandfather’s desk, a beautiful old thing I’ve had in my life for over 30 years now. I remember him using it… a small round silver dispenser of stamps and a little dish with a wet sponge for applying the postage. There were always other fascinating things to look at in the desk cubbies.

To the left of this image is the doorway to the bedroom, a very large and quite gorgeous room that was expanded by the previous owner. My dressmaker dummy is in that room and the ironing board sets up easily there.

This is the other end of the hallway, if you spin around you’re at the stairway leading down to the main floor. I dearly love all of my old hat boxes, suitcases and my dolly pram full of vintage hats, which was thrifted for about $10. Major score. All images can be seen at full size over on flickr in the aptly titled set “house.”

Wild Thangs

10.24.12

Seems I’ve been in a wild animalia mode creatively this past week or two. Above is a necklace I designed and made this week. The bones are found (West Coast, USA), mostly deer. There is one other necklace in progress, I’ll share soon.

The piece is titled Come Here Little Dreamer and also features sweet vintage glass beads including rare African trade (vaseline), Indonesian glass, and native American glass crow beads. This necklace both scares and delights me and currently resides in my own collection.

Here is another completed garment. This is a thrifted 80’s wild thang party dress ($3) recon for the end of the world. It had coffee stains on the zebra-print fabric and when my vintage consignment shop rejected it I brought it home and decided to have at it. I’m really glad they didn’t take it!

The back is super cool, even the zipper got hit with the neon spray paint. I cut off a pair of very long sleeves that will be useful elsewhere, removed some ginormous shoulder pads, as well as several layers of zebra floof.

I also turned the lining to the outside around the neck b/c it was so pretty in that deconstructed way. Removed/replaced a big matchy rhinestone-encrusted zebra bow which will undoubtedly show up elsewhere.

The color is otherworldly. The neon green/yellow fabric glows as if lit from within.

Close up of the “confetti” treatment. I just sewed randomly with contrasting thread and stopped every so often to place a tiny scrap of the neon fabric, then sewing over it. I love this effect as it’s both purposeful and random.

This is the garment that inspired the confetti idea. On this lovely piece, the lace bits are just barely tacked down by a row of machine stitches and since they are larger, they flutter some. A very fun idea.

Head over to flickr if you want to see these images larger. Clothing is always listed in the horrifically titled Misc Stuff I’ve Made set.

What $17 + a 25% Off Discount Card Will Get You on Thursday at Value Village Thriftstore

10.19.12

I thrift in two ways. One is that I think VERY specifically about what I’m looking for (usually project related, sometimes just a fashion issue) and it is frightening how often I find exactly that thing. The other is just a random trip for the inspiring thrill of the hunt. 50/50 success rate.

Yesterday I went to score cheap old tshirts to make another dress. Didn’t happen due to an overwhelming number of ridiculously gorgeous textiles lurking about. Top of the post, the whole score. Above, a set of pillowcases (India) with amazing mirrored handwork on both sides of each, total of FOUR panels. Katie, Bethy, Dorie… one each for you local craftistas.

This blanket (India) is the most amazing shade of yellow-maize with faux fur and sequiny embroidery. Anthropologie eat your effing heart out. Wish I had skills to make a coat, but I’m going to do a skirt. Seems weird, hopefully will work. There’s lots of yardage.

Above, The Gettysburg Address, in its entirety, printed on a scratchy burlap tea-towel sorta thing. LOVE this typography and can’t wait to use patches of it on garments.

Have to research if it’s an image of Abe’s handwriting (as I suspect). I thought the Lincoln portrait was a bit tacky, but it’s grown on me and might get incorporated somewhere.

Warning: This one’s gonna make you swoon.

This vintage Indian garment fits me, but is a bit shapeless. I do not have it in me to cut this; yes I have boundaries. So, if I can’t easily alter it into a flattering shape by taking in the side seams, it will just hang on my wall. Isn’t it divine????

The back, though plainer, is also lovely, with rainbow thread embroidery on this incredible gauzy layered base fabric. This piece was $5, less 25% but is priceless.

There are often great curtains, linens, and doilies but I try not to over-collect hoard them. You might hear me muttering: Someone else’s treasure… my anti-hoarding mantra. At $1.49, could not pass these up. BTW, the one at the bottom is a “pineapple” pattern. Sweet!

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