My So Charmed Life

A Few of My Favorite Things, #2


What is NOT to love?
Football legend, and all around super great guy, Rosey Grier gets major props for being the first big man to publicly attest to the fabulousness that is stitch-craft. This collectible how-to book, Needlepoint for Men, published in 1973, is available from vintage store Retro Vertigo. If you buy it, don’t tell me b/c I will have to destroy you. JK, if you can afford it, please give it a good home. BTW RetroVertigo is jam packed with amazing finds… from vintage psyche ward drug cups (bulk lot!) to an amazing collection of vintage mugshots.

If contemporary manbroidery intrigues you (and why wouldn’t it?), you should also head over to Mr. X Stitch, a wonderful blog run by another big stitchy man (and a Brit!), Jamie Chalmers along with co-conspirateur, the amazingly talented Beefranck, where you’ll find graffiti patterns, hilarious (and R-rated) samplers and other stitchgasms.

It was over at Mr. X Stitch that I learned about Fine Cell Work, an organization that trains prisoners in the UK in paid, skilled, creative needlework to foster hope, discipline, and self esteem. The beautiful work, like the pillow pictured above, is for sale on their site.

A Few of My Favorite Things, #1


Three Little Kittens, by clothmoth on Etsy.

This is the first in a series of once-per-day posts through the entire month of December in order to share with you some of the things that I love, and to assist you in tracking down some of the best of the best of the handcrafted (and maybe vintage) marketplace.

shop is full of sweet, gorgeously crafted and slightly twisted dolls, with a sprinkling of original art works also for sale… very dreamlike and sensitive graphite drawings. In her profile, clothmoth describes taking inspiration from animals, and notes that she is a member of the Etsy Ugly Cute Team!

Anglomania! and New Kicks


You guys miss my shoe postings don’t you??

Well. I ordered these divine Vivienne Westwood shoes from Zappos to go with a killer vintage 40’s dress I’m wearing to a wedding in the fall and they arrived today. They are just fab! Vegan, with a rich, weird plastic smell for you PVC freaks out there, darling heart-buckle, and a walkable heel, due to the front platform. LOVE them, and the price was right. They also come in a peachy pink shade that is not my thing, but may be yours.

Here is the other pair I’m LUSTING for… very, um, Alice Goes Clubbing, no? These also come in an eye-blistering hot pink/purple color but I prefer the demure blue/gray. Note: This entire line of “Melissa” shoes are molded plastic!

Here’s my pair with their cute little Anglomania box. Ms. Westwood’s orb logo is all over the interior footbed etc. I know that’s important to you! Grab ’em quick, and if you get the Alice ones don’t tell me or I shall die of jealousy. Beeyatch!

Zum Zum UNITE!



I am not content dear readers to only be The Girl With the Most Beads… I must also be The Girl With the Most Frocks. And, to that end, I have been thrifting for 3+ decades now… constantly scoring great vintage on what can only be described as a lifelong treasure hunt. I have also experimented with designing and making clothing, but alas I am impatient, and absolutely idiotic on a sewing machine.

In fact, many years ago (2002) I attended a Smithsonian Folk Festival called The Silk Road, which included a tent where a group of women were stitching together thriftstore garments, making the most amazing things out of trash. It was terribly hot in that tent, and Molly was a wee thing in a stroller, but we hung out for awhile, and I even went back a different day on my own to watch them sew. At that time I found out that all of the machines in use for the exhibit were on loan from a store and would be offered at half price afterwards. This is how I obtained my extremely high-end Babylock embroidery machine. Which I proceeded to timidly play with but mostly lived in dire fear of for close to 10 years.


In order to continue with this post, I must point you to the amazing world of Selene Gibbous of Gibbous Fashions. Above are three frocks from my collection, the one in the middle is a Gibbous piece. I wore this to the RimbaudMania opening in Paris and it is truly one of my most favorite and highly treasured posessions in this world.


Pictured from the back, yes, that is a ViewMaster film wheel attached to the Gibbous dress. Selene is a beautiful mad genius, a woman of incredible talent and unparalleled vision and if you read the crafts boards, you know that she is an inspiration to artists everywhere. My collection of Gibbous garments now numbers close to a dozen, including skirts, tops, a necktie, neck ruff, and two of her amazing hats. And although the photography on Selene’s site is some of the most gorgeously styled fashion shots I’ve ever seen… pictures simply do no justice to these works of art in real life. They are museum quality… each a lovely map of stitches and tears and tatters and fabrics and objects…  pure poetry.


The dress at far left was my first really successful experiment at slashing up an ugly vintage dress (this one was borderline)… and then adding simple embellishments with fabric scraps and a cut up men’s shirt. This one is very girly and sugary, a bit like pink grapefruit lemonade on a hot summer day.


The tulle peeking out from the bottom was a thrifted vintage slip, and was personally paw-shredded by my cat Iggy Pop who LOVES to chew on anything tulle. He did a great job although I had to rinse out the cat spit. Ewwwwwww….


The garment pictured at the top of this endless post, and about which the post is titled, began life per the above… IF ONLY I’d photographed it. My neighbor, Katy K, can vouch for the fact that this was indeed a thrifted bridal/prom gown, all in white polyester, and about as ugly as they come. Purchased for $9.95, minus 25% with my “I’m Unique” discount card. On Friday afternoon the entire dress hit a vat of red (top) and brown (bottom) dye, and was laid out in my sunny backyard to dry. I am always thrilled at how different fabric takes dye, it’s entirely unpredictable and scary/fun. Parts of the dress went deep red, some of it went bright orange, and the rest turned a hideous shade of peach.


I am so sorry I didn’t shoot process photos during my obsessive stitchy weekend, but sisters let me say: the BF pronouned our dining room a sweat shop, fabric was flying, and the machine didn’t stop going from first thing Saturday morning until late Sunday night. I barely stopped to eat or go to the bathroom… although I did make a run to the sewing store for needles because I kept breaking them. Free motion quilting is truly one of the MOST fun experiences in my life as an artist. It was hard, challenging, frustrating, and amazing. There were times when I was just in a zone with it, my arms aching from pushing the fabric, a certain disbelief at the flawed beautiful mess that was developing before my eyes.


The details are pretty endless, every inch of this dress provided a new sort of mapping and colorway experience. I loved looping the stitches and incorporating a few bits of crochet I had in my textile collection. The hardest part was the “tailoring,” as I’d made a couple of key mistakes involving the dress lining. These caused big headaches down the pike, and lessons learned (remove lining… you WILL sew it to the top layer, and you WILL NOT want to rip out all that quilting).


The top of the dress came with kind of trashy/kind of cool glittered embroidery which, in the end, gave this garment a sort of India feel. I’m very proud of the pleated ruffle just under the bust which I made by hand from a curtain.


On the elevator in the office building this morning, I was carrying the dress so I could photograph it when a woman got on and began staring in amazement. When I told her I’d made it, her first question was: Do you sell them? Alas, the answer is no. I couldn’t possibly part with such a thing, and I am really making these clothes for my own amusement and expression, for wearing out to parties, and well, just for the art of it.

The Girl with the Most Beads



I have had a growing collection of vintage mardi gras beads for many years now and recently my interest in these has peaked again.


The most collectable of the old “throws” as they are called are the vintage glass strings, made in the Czech Republic and later Japan, in the 1920’s-30’s. These beads fetch a nice price on the collector’s market. Becoming equally collectable though are the plastic beads made in Hong Kong in the 1960’s. The lot pictured in this post was scored for a ridiculously low price on ebay (under $10) and probably contains 200+ finished necklaces. Upon first glance to the average eye, it is easy to think of these as plastic trash, ready for the recycle bin.


Closer inspection and some careful sifting and combining however reveals absolutely gorgeous beads in colors no longer seen in jewelry and with a vast variety of shapes and textures.


Some of the colorways are highly sophisticated, others are playful, even garish, including true neons.


What I dearly love about these beads is that they all look like candy… even more so than their valued glass cousins. And as you know, edibility is one of my favorite aethestics when it comes to beads.


Working with the beads is challenging because they are lovely and perfect in their own right, highly wearable as far as I’m concerned. Above is one of my initial attempts to recontextualize a strand, combining them with a most fantastical tin carousel charm and other bits from the vast collection. I’m working on a series of these which will be available in the CircusDolls collection at So Charmed within a week or so.

Indeed, I believe with this most recent score, I have earned the title of this post, don’t you think? Here’s the Hole video as a soundtrack… xoxoxo

Paris: Things I Bought + Bonus! Jesse James



Were you thinking it was all about art, literature, espresso, and monuments? Nooooooooo, mes amis. There was shopping. Yes, there was. Today’s post is just the stuff I happen to be wearing here at the office… and there’s a definite color way happening. The shoes above were purchased at Gaspard Yurkievich, deeply discounted as they were (gasp) last season’s stock. I must admit to having not heard of this designer (I know, can you believe it? Whatever!), but apparently he is rather the word, and the price of his clothing & shoes reflects that. Suffice to say, these were a serious score and I LOVE them. They glow. And look great with dark tights. And are even (gasp again) comfortable.


You might be under the impression that I never buy jewelry, and while I don’t often, occasionally I fall in love with something. Such was the case with this dear necklace, which is made of unglazed ceramic or porcelain or something. It’s bone white and just lovely, a lamb under a cloud. I love everything about it, the double dangling design, the simultaneous detail and anonymity, the weird material and the (at least in my mind) pro-vegetarian statement. Lambs under clouds, as they should be, not on plates. We stumbled (literally, severely jet-lagged) into this super cool shop our first day wandering our ‘hood, the Marais District. It was full of amazing designed goods: wearables (including some Vivienne Westwood jewelry!), household stuff, and miscellany. Later in the week, we tried in vain to find the shop again and are awaiting the (third gasp) Visa bill to find out the name of it.


You absolutely MUST buy and wear scarves in Paris. The one above is my favorite, a tattered fringed silk in poppy red, scored for 5 euros in a vintage store in the Marais that we visited several times b/c it was open for late night shopping and was full to the brim with trashy crazy super cheap used clothing. The Marais had tons of vintage stores, some chic, some, like this one, more thrift (as I prefer).


This vintage doctor bag purse was purchased at Gavilane, the store we (and others apparently… NOTE at the link above the hat in the window that looks remarkably like MY Paris hat!!) have dubbed The Goth Store, which had very cool but expensive jewelry and a lovely line of clothing. They also had a trunk full of these old handbags on sale for 15 euros. We met and befriended the jewelry designer, Mssr. Gavilane himself, exchanging cards and receiving a further discount to 10 euros. Who said Paris was expensive?? BTW, Gavilane is next door to Biblioteque Nationale where the Rimbaud Exhibit hangs.


This was NOT purchased in Paris, but started in my studio before the trip and finished up last weekend. I love how it turned out! Why is the Jesse James brooch included in this post? a) I like odd numbers of things and only have 4 Paris objects with me b) the colors were just too perfect and c) shameless self promotion. Available soon in the Pirates collection.

😉 A very super special thanks to the BF for supporting our endless shopping tho mind you, the dude can hold his own in such matters.

Button Button



Who’s got the button? Well… I know, but I’m not telling. Suffice to say that over the weekend I was granted entrance to the inner sanctum of one of the most prominent and experienced importers of Czech bohemian glass buttons in the USA. Folks, I’m not a religious woman, but I thought I had died and awoken in heaven. When my kind and generous host invited me to open any of the dozens and dozens of drawers and boxes in the collection room, I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t having one of my recurring thrifting/collecting/hunting/gathering dreams.


The photo above captures the full haul of the day, which would have been 10x that amount had I not been on a pauper’s budget. Along with the buttons is a delicious 1/2 pound bag of glass beads in an incredible and irresistible palette. My plan is to craft one or two super duper long rosary beaded necklaces out of these. A good busy-hands activity while watching my new favorite shows (RuPaul’s Drag Race, Pawn Stars, etc.).


The Czech Republic has a long history of some of the finest glass work in the world, dating back to the Renaissance. Vintage beads and buttons are very collectible and currently commanding ultra high prices. Each button was/is handcrafted, including painting on the fronts or reverse painting, as shown above.


Today, some of the antique molds are being used again, and new techniques are adding to the amazing beauty of these miniature works of art.


Colors and styles range from baroque, to psychedelic, to mid-century modern with abstraction and patterns, as well as cats, dogs, magic mushroom men, puddings, fleur de lys, fairytales and rhinestone embellishments. I am deeply fond of some of the new figurals including the cicadas and moths (bats?). The white swan on pink glass with blue water could be my number one favorite. It’s an older button and getting difficult to come by.


Using the glass buttons in jewelry-making is a challenge; most  have glass self-shanks that can not be removed without damaging the piece. I’ve seen people wrap fancy brass filigrees around the buttons but I find that to be visually noisy and distracting. So I’m working with my own techniques of incorporating these into my work… as a good friend says, a big part of jewelry-making (especially assemblage without formal “smithing”) is the solving of engineering problems.

American Pickers: The Jodi Episode



I guess I’ve been a picker all my life. It started back at RISD with my first sojourn to a Salvation Army store and I’ve been addicted to thrifting ever since. The 70’s were a real heyday for this passion, especially for vintage fashionistas. Back then an intricately beaded 1950’s cashmere sweater could be had for a quarter, a 1930’s gown for a few bucks. Good luck even finding such garments today!

But before we get too cranky about the good ‘ole days of thrifting, we also need to consider that thanks to the Internet good thrifting or picking is now a global occupation. With Web sites like Ebay and Etsy, one is no longer confined to the trash in one’s own backyard. And that’s really where this story begins.

Couple of months ago, I purchased a “found object” on Etsy to incorporate into a piece of jewelry, paying an exorbitant $7.50 for a single item that looked like an old bicycle reflector (Seriously, I consider that to be a lot of money). That said, when it arrived, I immediately fell in love with this gigantic plastic “ruby” that seemed to be set in either bakelite or celluloid (early plastics, pretty collectible stuff). And so, the “Travelite” joined the other piles of crap-I-mean-treasure in my studio, awaiting inspiration. And, because I loved it so much I knew I’d be reluctant to sell it, so I started casually searching for another online, not even knowing what the darn thing was/is.


Meanwhile, over the past weekend I finally decided to just thread a nice piece of vintage punk-plaid ribbon through the handy slots on the back, and when I put it around my neck, I knew it was going nowhere; this baby was mine! It is just so super cool. But I decided to search again, and found the listing pictured above on Ebay. Imagine my surprise at the $725 price tag.

After picking myself up off the floor, I wrote to the seller to inquire about the history and provenance of this item. He really had no further information for me except to say that it is an extremely rare collectible item and will fetch anywhere from $750 – $1000, essentially making this mysterious object (aside from my first-marriage engagement ring) my most valuable piece of jewelry!


Should you decide to purchase the ebay listing here’s your link. I still don’t really know a thing about this lovely item, the intended functionality, etc. Was it an advertising premium? Why would you need a personal reflector “Travelite?” Anyone out there with more info, please email! And for other very fun found-object jewelry (when I can stand to part with it) please visit So Charmed.

A Series of Short Posts on Random Topics


shortposts6 (more…)

Wasabi !


Not only do I sell my jewelry on Etsy these days, I’m also a rabid Etsy buyer… from independent fashion (dresses! corsetry!), to vintage collectibles, to handcrafted dolls… too much of my hard-earned pay (of which lately there is simply too little for this sort of nonsense) goes toward my obsession with other artist’s obsessions. Call me a patron ok? It sounds better than shopaholic.

When I came across WasabiEstudio, chock full of zombies and a sprinkling of mad fun pop culture icons like Mr. T and Amy Winehouse, I became instantly smitten. Imagining the owners to be two Japanese kids living in California (it said Valencia, ok? Isn’t there a Valencia, CA? Nevermind), I started writing and gushing and trying to decide just what to order. With no money to spend, the problem was not whether to buy, but who (or is that whom?). There were at least 6 dolls that I needed.

Initially I was going to just purchase Amy and Sid Vicious, both pictured in their shop… and soooo brilliantly, hilariously done. But then I got to thinking. And obsessing. And further obsessing. Finally, when my tax refund check arrived, it was time, and I asked the Wasabi Kids to make Sid, Kurt Cobain and Russell Brand… the heck with Amy, it’s all boys, all the time. Wasabi dubbed them my party boys and promised they’d be home soon to play. 🙂

Imagine my surprise when a lovely box arrived from SPAIN (!) and inside were all of my special party boys, but also Amy, as a gift for me!! How incredibly sweet! As I marveled over the crazy/perfect details of each doll (tattoos, jewelry, amazingly realistic hairstyles, and most especially Sid’s x-rated famous cowboy t-shirt)… I realized I was truly in the presence of genius.

Yet somehow, it gets even better. After the dolls arrived I wrote to thank the Wasabi Kids (even after a round of emails back and forth I didn’t know their names)… and Neus sent me the photo pictured above of she and her husband Manuel. Could they be any more beautiful? What an amazing photo. I love these people!

So, it is with gratitude and warmth that I share my new friends and their amazing handcrafted dolls with you… please support independent artists and get over to WasabiEstudio NOW to see what they’ve got going on, or to request your favorite pop culture icon. Heck, they’ll even do a doll of YOU!!! xoxoxoxo

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