Tag Archives: vintage

One Shell of a Necklace

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collection of shell buttons

Collection of Shell Buttons

A friend gave me a small baggie of vintage Mother of Pearl and Shell buttons that she loves to make her a necklace. The first thing I noticed when she handed them to me was the weight. It was so heavy. Buttons are made out of plastic now and are virtually weightless. I was intrigued.

I open the baggie and spread them across my rug. Most buttons were round, but there were oval, rectangle, and square ones.

odd shaped buttons

Odd Shaped Buttons

I also found these beautiful moon shaped buttons that I loved. I had no clue how I would use them on a necklace. I found a heart shaped button. I knew I had to use this one. I’m a sucker for hearts! Another interesting detail to these vintage buttons is the carving. Some were smooth, but the majority of them have intricate carvings on the front of the buttons. It’s strange to think that buttons contributed to the overall aesthetic of a piece of clothing. Nowadays buttons serve almost completely as utilitarian items that close the ends of fabric.
carved buttons

Carved Buttons

close up shell button necklace

Shell Button Necklace Close-Up

I pulled several buttons out that I thought I could work with to make the necklace. The large one with all the holes around would be perfect for the central part of the necklace. I knew I could hang other buttons and charms from it. I built the necklace from there and added a dragon fly charm. I remembered that my friend has a delicate tattoo around her wrist of elephants. I removed the dragon fly and added an Indian brass elephant…PERFECT!

Next, what type of chain do I use? I thought about a beaded chain but it just seemed to ordinary. I found an old brass chain with little flat metal charms attached. This could be it. I loved the metal charms but I feared it would take away from the beautiful center piece I had created. I removed them all but kept one to add to the end of the necklace. I also added a couple of inches of larger old brass chain. Now she has the option to wear the necklace long or as a choker.

LIGHTBULB GOES OFF! The little metal charms hanging off the base chain gave me the idea to attach a few of the moon buttons in a similar way. I arranged them a few times to make sure that the length of the necklace would feature the moon buttons as well as the centerpiece independent of the length she chose to wear the necklace. shellnecklace1

This is my favorite necklace to date. It’s always special when you don’t have to struggle to make something work. Struggle can be good and teaches you. It’s the magic of creating. Your mind directing your hands in a seamless way. That’s what drives an artist. I also made some earrings from two matching buttons. I couldn’t help myself 🙂 Thanks TJ for the experience.

shell button earrings

Shell Button Earrings

Brace Yourself

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Close-up of Peasant bracelet

Life has changed dramatically. I left my permanent job, I’m working with my spouse in real estate, I’m studying to become an agent, and I have more time to work on jewelry. The last part I’m really excited about. It’s been chaotic since I left my job. I still haven’t worked out my routine and I must have a routine. I want next week to have more structure…I know, an artist who wants structure.

With a little more creative time on my hands, I’ve made 2 bracelets and I’m delighted with the outcome. Two principals of design, movement and scale have been the focus of my pieces. Bracelets seem to be the prefect art form for my experiments. They are always moving around the wrist. I’ve found that by using more than one type of chain, I can achieve more motion, play with the scale, and I get the added benefits of dimension and texture.

Close-up of Rouge bracelet

Rouge is typical of my style but with a twist. It’s monochromatic and small and it jingles. I found the bells at BEAD IT! and I had no idea what I would do what them. They just caught my eye. I used three types of brass chain for the base of the bracelet. I added red glass hearts, glass squares, brass colored glass hears and red crystals in groups of 3’s along with the bells. I love the rich, lush color of the bracelet and the added bonus is that it makes a beautiful sound.

Rouge, charm bracelet

I created Peasant from a kooky vintage belt that I found at a garage sale. I love the wooden rings and I added turquoise, vintage brass buttons and green glass beads that I acquired from a vintage pair of chandelier earrings. The bracelet is large but very light weight because of the wooden rings. Honestly, this one is out of my wheelhouse but a divine example of texture and scale. I’ve learned that I don’t have to make beautiful pieces I would wear, I have to make beautiful pieces.

Peasant, charm bracelet

I believe you have to challenge yourself and get out of your creative pigeon hole. You always learn from it, and brace yourself, you could create something that you didn’t know existed within your realm. I’ll leave you with this.

I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it. — Pablo Picasso

I think therefore I garage sale

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I haven’t been as regular on my blogs, but I have been a garage sale regular. I’ve acquired a lot of chain, some funky charms, some vintage pins and a seriously unusual girl pendent as well as a ray gun.

The Ray Gun

When I’m out and about hunting for strange and unique things, I have two modes of thinking. The first is looking for practical items such as chain, clasps, basic jewelry findings, and beads. I also buy all the cheap jewelry boxes I can find. I decorate or customize them and use them to store my completed pieces. I also plan to use them to display my jewelry when I make the leap to do shows. I find a lot of boxes from the 50’s and 60’s and they always have room for rings, earrings, necklaces and bracelets. The latest purchase has a musical box component that still works!

The other mode is looking for things that catch my eye and I fall in love with. I don’t always have an idea of how I will use the item. The rule is that if an object entices me to pick it up and ponder it, I buy it. I will spend more money on these finds, but I will also ask what’s the best price the seller can do. Remember to let them throw out the first price. Most of the time they give you a better deal than you would offer. The truth is, I’m probably the only person who has picked it up because it’s just that out of the ordinary and no one else has a use for it. People love their stuff and want it to go to a good home. If you show interest and inquire about a price, they will negotiate with you.

Love Me Do Bracelet

If possible, talk to the person holding the sale or running the table if it’s a flea market. You will be surprised at how much knowledge you can obtain by sharing what you plan to do with the stuff you buy from them. Sometimes it’s just fun to get a little history on the items you’ve purchased. My experience; people offer to help me get started selling my jewelry, give me advice on what I need to set-up a booth and even offer to give me things I could use for my jewelry. You are now a friend, who loves the same things they do and they want to help you succeed.

On a side note, I wore one of the necklaces I made while g-selling for the first time. I lost count on how many people wanted to see it close-up, asked where I sell my stuff and wanted a business card. HELLO! This little action, created an entire now marketing strategy and endeared me to the people I was purchasing from. It was exciting, inspiring and motivating. Why didn’t I do this before now?

Love It or Leave It Bracelet

All this positive energy invigorated me to create a couple of bracelets. I also wanted to share my girl pendent. I still don’t know what I will do with her but there’s no denying she’s special. BTW, the seller wanted $5 for her and I got her for $3. You have to buy the things you love, and you will find a purpose for it, but there’s nothing wrong with getting them at a discount 🙂

Strange Girl Pendent

Hooked on a feeling

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Last week, I got a taste of what I want for my future and it tasted great! I visited several vintage and thrift stores and found a few items I could use for jewelry.

The jade turtle. I bought this necklace for the turtle

The highlight of my day was visiting a little shop, Blackbird.It’s a small boutique in an up and coming neighborhood. I’ve actually admired the building for years and it’s good to see it finally put to good use.

I spoke with one of the owners about selling my jewelry there. It’s hard for me to talk about myself and my jewelry. I don’t know why. That’s a question for another blog. I was proud that I mustered up the courage to do it this time. Guess what, it paid off. I emailed her the link to my etsy store and received some very nice compliments. If it all goes well, I will be represented at Blackbird in April! WOW!

Days like this compel me to keep creating jewelry and writing. Mixed emotions of excitement and happiness with a little fear and anxiety, all good. It’s not just the memory of this day that stays with me, it’s the feeling I get when I remember this day. Sounds silly, but I smile from the inside out.

Beautiful red mohair yarn I got from a thrift store.

I long for more of these days on a consistent basis. I want to be an artist and freelance writer full-time.
The way I felt that day is how I want to live my life everyday. That taste still lingers. I am hooked on a feeling.

I love hematite, plus the jade turtle. I got this at a vintage store.

The Pinnacle Moment

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Black n Blue cluster ring

Sometimes as an artist you find yourself where and when you least expect it. You work and work and make a lot unique pieces. You explore different materials, styles and genres trying to figure out what you and your work are about. Then there’s a day when something you created provides you with divine insight and you understand who you to the core. It’s profound.

I began retailing my jewelry on Friday. The salon where I have my hair done also carries a variety of accessories. My stylist suggested that I bring some to her to sell. I had my hair done that day and took 10 pieces with me to sell.

I’ve learned that I’m not ready for retail, especially the display part of the business. I made my cards and tied and taped my jewelry on to them with hand-written descriptions. Hopefully the jewelry will speak for itself. Removing almost half of my pieces from my etsy shop left it quite empty. I also sold a piece on Thursday to a friend. YEA!!!

Leaf and Tiger Dangles, earrings

This created a situation in which I had to pump out the pieces. I completed 4 rings on Saturday with some new black coated copper wire that I bought from Sea of Beads. I really like the way they look and I especially love the back in black ring.

Back in Black ring

Sunday was earring day. I began by cleaning my desk and organizing tools, beads, buttons, keys and wire. I found two navy blue buttons in the back of my top desk drawer. The feel and color of the buttons caught my attention, so I made a mental note. I also organized my loose chain. This is like trying to pull apart live snakes, maybe not as dangerous, but just as frustrating. I separated this beautiful brass chain that I had bought because the chain was rustic and looked hand hammered. The horrid large blue pendent was obviously a later addition.

As the earring making frenzy started, I remembered the little blue beaded bracelet I found on Saturday at a sale. I bought it with several other pieces and added it to the pile. On closer investigation, I realized that the bracelet was a hodge podge of vintage blue glass beads on brass wire rigged together with the icky plastic sun charm. I love it when you uncover something really special.

Black and White Dangles, earrings

I created 5 pair of earrings before I was mentally exhausted. The silver pairs are nice, well thought-out designs, executed to the best of my ability. The brass earrings with the red crystal leaves and tiger crystals are another example. The beads were purchased at various bead stores because they appealed to me. The chain and jump rings were obtained in a similar fashion.

Hematite Dangles, earrings

I find myself drawn to the brass chain earrings with the buttons and the beaded chain earrings. It’s a gut reaction that words can’t describe. I used the items I most adored and that had a history to them. The thought process while creating them was completely different. I didn’t analyze or fuss with the design. What I discovered is that these two pair of earrings are true expressions of me. They encompass the materials I love to use, the way I love to work, my philosophy of re-purposing and a deep appreciation of things that have history.

Blue Button Dangles, earrings

It’s the pinnacle moment when you say to yourself DAMN! This is what I’m about.

I realize that this is just a moment. Ten years from now, I may be influenced and inspired by different materials and objects. As an artist you always want to be growing and progressing. I know that I will take this moment with me and it will make me a better artist, not just because I had it, but because I took the time to realize it. Keep working for your pinnacle moment. It’s humbling and exciting at the same time. I just wanted to share mine.Blue Bead Dangles, earrings