Craft Haul – All the Beads

Over the weekend, my Grandma and I visited my favorite jewelry supply shop, North Star Gems in Bridgewater, NH.  We had a fun time browsing the shop together, and she helped me choose the beads to make jewelry for my bridesmaids.

Here’s the fun stuff:

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All I want to do is CRAFT ALL DAY.

I just love the color of these beads, and the way they compliment each other. The golden beads will be the main accent color. The dark blue, somewhat translucent beads are the base. And the opaque dark blue beads were the surprise purchase. They’re also forming the base, but the finish of these beads is more metallic and reflective, and these beads contain tints of both blue and gold depending on lighting. I love how these beads compliment each other.

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I love the cut of these glass beads, they look so elegant.

Part of my plan for the bridesmaids’ jewelry is to make earrings. I found these cute chandelier bases in gold that are so delicate and pretty.

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These are so pretty! I can’t wait to start them, but I’ve disciplined myself to save the earrings for last. 

I also stocked up on some of the essentials.

I picked two different types of earrings to accommodate those who don’t have their ears pierced. The hairpins are used to string beads and then wrap them around either the earring or the chandelier loop.

And of course, a necklace needs to be strung on something…

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My all time favorite beading wire.

Whenever I craft beaded necklaces or bracelets, I use this nylon-coated beading wire. It’s strong, beads slide on easily, and (best part) it’s affordable.

The wires come in different weights, so you can adjust based on requirements of a project. Typically, I use 0.18″/0.45mm weight, because it’s versatile and fitting for most projects.

Word to the wise: Only use wire cutters, using scissors would damage the blades.

Hope you enjoyed this sharing session. I love craft supplies and am always on the hunt for new inspiration for a project.

Happy Crafting!

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My latest up-cycle jewelry design

There’s nothing I love more than taking something broken and fixing it back up. These bracelets are a great example of that. They’re fun, standalone pieces that compliment a wider range of outfits than the original necklace.

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Here I’m wearing all five bracelets at once so you can see the all color variations. They’re great for layering, but they look equally amazing on their own.

The beads are gorgeous earth tones with veins of color. Paired with delicate silver spacers and a spring clasp, they’re ready for any sort of trip be it the mall, office, or event.

As someone always on the go, streamlined pieces like these really work for me.

I love jewelry that tells a story, and pieces like these accomplish that.

Happy crafting!

 

2016 Crafting Roundup

There’s been a lot of hate for 2016 online, but for me personally I had a great year crafting. I tried out new projects, tested out some new methods, and kept the Etsy shop going despite being very distracted by my day-to-day life. Here’s a look back at some of my favorite crafting moments of the year.

Knitting Lacework Short Rows

The wedding has inspired me to tackle my most ambitious pattern-knitting to date: The Waiting for Rain Shawl. This pattern features beautiful lacework done in short rows, and it’s the first time I’ve really worked with either of those elements. I’m almost finished the second lacework section and seeing how the pattern comes together is really exciting.

Check out the Waiting for Rain Shawl pattern by Sylvia of Softsweater Knits on Ravelry (where I purchased mine) or visit her website.

Working with Wire

I’ve been playing around with wire a lot more recently in my jewelry making, although none of these wire-wrapped pieces have made it into the Etsy shop yet. Last year I bought new round-nose pliers, which are perfect for creating fun curlicues and wrapping. I still have room for improvement, but that’s a goal for the upcoming year.

Using the Sewing Machine

Creating costumes for PAX East was definitely a larger undertaking than I anticipated, but my favorite part was reconnecting with the sewing machine. I have only limited experience with the sewing machine, basic skills taught to me by my grandmother, but these costumes gave me a chance to work those skills and become more confident. There were definitely some moments that I had to learn the hard way, but I was still learning and that’s the important take-away.

PAX is coming up soon!! Check out some of the CosPlay posts if you want to get ready, including making Lucina’s Mask, Resetti’s Mask, Chrom’s Tunic, and costume design tips.

So what’s up next for 2017?

Well you can definitely bet to see more on the lacework short rows, since I plan to finish the shawl before the wedding. Also, expect to see more experiments with wire; I want to try wrapping stones in different ways and get really creative with it. I also have a real urge to do more with the sewing machine, but access to the machine is hard to come by since I don’t own my own. I’d really love to get more into sewing projects to make things around the house and also DIY/improve some of my clothes. Another big thing on the 2017 craft list is paper crafts. I don’t want to give too much away, but it’ll involve handmade flowers…

Wishing you all a happy new year!

Falling in Love: an accidental Valentine’s Day jewelry set

Say what you want about Valentine’s Day, everyone has their own opinions on how wonderful or horrible it may be. I’m choosing to look at this holiday at its simpler core: a day when we celebrate people we love. I like for my jewelry to mimic my emotions or remind me a pleasant time and place, and that’s how this necklace set came to exist.

 

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Red Jade and Mother of Pearl necklace, bracelet, and earrings

This set was never designed with Valentine’s Day in mind. In fact, the first version of this set was actually green. And because it was never created specifically for this holiday, I want to talk about it now. The design is simple and uncomplicated, smooth and polished, and the pattern blends seamlessly together.

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The necklace is balanced. The Mother of Pearl beads show veins of off-white; the imperfect color striations mirror the beauty found in the everyday moment.

At its core, this necklace represents the true heart of love, the real feelings of a love that is unconditional. True love doesn’t need exotic destinations or expensive dinners, it just needs two people with a connection based on respect, understanding, and passion.

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Unlike the necklace which is strung on nylon coated wire for strength, the bracelet is strung on elastic. This gives it more flexibility; in life, when our minds are flexible we become more open and understanding people.

We may complicate love with our busy schedules, our selfies, our selfishness, our desire to be in the next moment instead of enjoying the present. This Valentine’s Day let’s move past that and just be with the one you love. Enjoy the time together; it’s more precious than anything else.

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The original necklace set, done in green jade with Mother of Pearl beads.

These were the emotions that went through my mind when I first designed this necklace set last summer.  I wanted a necklace that was smooth and calming and made me feel peaceful when I wore it. These feelings are the same ones my love conjures for me; he makes me feel relaxed when I’m stressed, or calm when I’m anxious, he inspires me to pursue my dreams. He loves me, and I love him very much.

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A peaceful evening when I wore the green jade necklace set.

He’s the one who suggested I recreate the necklace set in red. I think he gives good advice.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

 

Seaside escape: A beach-inspired necklace set

Last May marked our first Girl’s Weekend down the Cape. We stayed in a beachfront hotel, bundled up in layers and basked in the glow of a gas fireplace (early May can still be chilly along the New England coast), explored the towns and antique shops, and of course ate lots of food.

In designing this necklace set for my Aunt L, I kept that Girl’s Weekend in mind. The mint colored beads remind me of the salty ocean spray and the color palate of the Cape. The findings came from one of the antique shops we discovered on our journey.

The necklace is long enough to be slipped over the head, but it also contains a clasp just in case. The earrings are large baubles and so cute against the the long drop of the necklace.

The intention of the necklace was for my Aunt L to wear it to work or for an evening out. Pastels seem to be the “In” color for spring 2016, and this necklace will fit right in.

Finding Common Ground: Two necklaces, same pendant

Over the summer, my Nonna asked me to make a necklace for my cousin S and Aunt J for Christmas. Their personal styles are very different, whereas one is spirited with a rebellious edgy flair, the other is conservative and wears very little jewelry.

It wasn’t until Aunt J gave me a large bag of discarded costume jewelry that I found inspiration for these necklaces. The jewelry came from her mother, and she thought I might like these pieces that the rest of the family didn’t want.

There was a wide assortment of costume jewelry, and in this collection was a pair of earrings. Small, clear crystal orbs – it was the perfect centerpiece: unique and stylistically versatile.

For Aunt J’s necklace, the pendant became the centerpiece in an all-black necklace. Simple in design, the earring is the main focus.

DSC_0653For Cousin S’s necklace, the pendant had the opportunity to be more bold. Set as the centerpiece surrounded by chains of mixed weights, the earring takes on a  chic, rocker vibe.

DSC_0658The creation of these necklaces was a challenge, because I wanted to design two necklaces that fit the personality of the wearer while also maintaining the connection across generations. No matter how different the earring appears, it represents the strong ties of family and carrying those we love with us always.

Saved from the trash, Created a treasure

When I was little, my Grandma had a jewelry box filled with her old costume jewelry for my cousin P and I to play with. Today, costume jewelry evoke those fond childhood memories and my Grandma’s traditional style. Costume jewelry once had a life much more interesting than the one it leads now – forgotten in a box, hanging in an antique shop, laid out on a table at an estate sale, left behind for more “timeless” pieces.

Costume Jewelry from my Grandma, in it's original state, beautiful color but broken strand

Costume Jewelry from my Grandma in it’s original state, beautiful color but broken strand

It’s easy to bypass costume jewelry. The funky shapes and colors don’t exactly blend with more free flowing, bohemian style jewelry populating the stores today. However, that doesn’t mean that these pieces don’t have potential. I like to take these broken, forgotten necklaces and earrings and give them a facelift to make them into something that can be loved once again.

Earrings as Pendant Charms

Earrings are great ways to add a statement piece to a necklace. Oftentimes earrings are eye catching and captivating, but overtime a pair may become separated or one of the earrings may break. Rather than toss these, I like to reuse them to create unique necklaces. In this case, a pair of spiral earrings taken apart were used as the pendants in two necklaces with very different styles.

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Turquoise and Goldstone paired with gold findings for a trendy necklace that carries an outfit easily from summer to fall.

Gemstones add a fiery color palate to the same charm, in an opera length necklace

Gemstones add a fiery color palate to the same charm, in this opera length necklace

The design of the necklaces are stylistically different and appeal to different wearers. My friend K loves the top necklace, whereas my mom prefers the bottom one because of the length and she can pair it with her neutral sweaters while we shop. It’s a way to build a connection through two pieces, while still maintaining unique personalities.

Elegant Drops – A Simple Update

Some necklaces have great structure already, but they’re too short. I like long, flowing jewelry that easily slides over the head when in a rush for work in the morning. These drops instantly add class to any business casual outfit, because they retain their original statement element.

Coral adds instant pop against neutrals.

Coral adds instant pop against neutrals.

Classic pearl drops add professionalism to the most basic of outfits.

Classic pearl drops add professionalism to the most basic of outfits.

The long chain not only makes these easier to wear, but it elongates the gaze and gives the illusion of a longer torso. Plus, I love the sound the multi-strand necklaces make as you move, it’s a soft clinking sound that reminds me of a classy party.

Major Reconstruction

Other necklaces are complete gut jobs. Maybe the original necklace is broken, or the colors just don’t mesh well together, or maybe some of the beads are just completely out of place in current trends. These are the necklaces that I like to cut in the middle, spill the beads on the mat, and start from scratch.

The purple beads in this necklace were taken from a necklace that featured several shades of purple beads. The chain unifies the beads and the new silver findings add pop.

The purple beads in this necklace were taken from a necklace that featured several shades of purple beads. The chain unifies the beads and the new silver findings add pop.

Sometimes I’ll mix the beads from several vintage pieces, or other times I’ll mix in the vintage beads as the focal point of the necklace. Lately, I’ve enjoyed working with wire and chain to allow the color to stand out. It also modernizes the piece by streamlining the lines and lightening the look. Much of the costume jewelry I’ve encountered is bulky, heavy, and colorful. I love color, but today’s jewelry calls for light simplicity.

These stones came from a necklace that mixed pink and green stones with these. It wasn't the prettiest combination, so here the orange beads are together for a fiery combination.

These stones came from a necklace that mixed pink and green stones with these. It wasn’t the prettiest combination, so here the orange beads are together for a fiery combination.

The major benefit is this jewelry is truly one-of-a-kind. Because much of this vintage, costume jewelry can’t be found on store shelves and the pieces are worked by hand, each one is unique. Not to mention, repurposed materials lowers our carbon footprint. Not only is it stylish, but you can feel good about what you wear too.

Jade and Pearl – Design Simplicity

Every once in a while, it’s okay to indulge yourself.

Necklace, Bracelet, and Earrings made from Jade and Mother of Pearl

Necklace, Bracelet, and Earrings made from Jade and Mother of Pearl

This set I designed entirely for myself. I had spent a great deal of time working on pieces for others, and this time I wanted one that represented me. I chose these jade beads, because I love the color. It’s a trendy color for this season and I’ve always gravitated toward green tones. I started with the necklace, and the set bloomed from there.

The necklace length is short, but not short enough that it's a choker.

The necklace length is short, but not short enough that it’s a choker.

The Jade and Mother of Pearl compliment each other nicely

The Jade and Mother of Pearl compliment each other nicely

The jade beads are in two sizes, large and medium. I used mother of pearl in a fun diamond shape as the accent piece. The overall effect is a calm, harmonious set.

Sort of reminds me of the power bracelets I had as a kid

Sort of reminds me of the power bracelets I had as a kid

I tend to prefer elastic bracelets for their ease and convenience, which is why I chose that medium to string the bracelet as opposed to the nylon coated wire used for the necklace.

Fun earrings to finish it off!

Fun earrings to finish it off!

Although my ears are extremely sensitive, these nickel free earrings are just fine to wear. I’ve had no problems with these, which is amazing because they really complete the look.

I love custom designs. Taking inspiration from the person who will be wearing a set is what makes the designing part challenging and fun. Each piece created is unique to that person, and it’s so gratifying to create a piece that others love. Taking the time to design a piece for myself, helps me to explore more design options that others might like and makes me feel special too!

I have more fun designs coming your way soon, and a super awesome announcement to make. Stay tuned…..

Tri-Strand Pearls – Unforgettable Elegance

Elegance cannot be faked. It is a state of being. And when you have it, everyone knows it. Elegance exhibits confidence and style, and it’s best pulled off understated. Elegance doesn’t need flash to make an impact, it captivates the room all on its own.

Make a statement this evening

Make a statement this evening

Weddings are the most common occasion when one thinks of true elegance. My cousin C’s evening wedding to her husband sets that example. They paid attention to every detail, while staying true their personalities. It was an elegant affair, memorable and fun.

The accent bead gives this set its personality.

The accent bead gives this set its personality.

With C’s wedding in mind, as we approach their first anniversary, this necklace set developed. The burgundy accent colors in this set match the colors of C’s bridesmaids gowns. The necklace is the centerpiece, with the off-center bead drawing the attention. The earrings and bracelet complement the necklace with similar burgundy tones admits the iridescent glass pearls.

The bracelet has maroon seed beads to pick up on the accent bead's color in the necklace

The bracelet has maroon seed beads to pick up on the accent bead’s color in the necklace

The accent bead falls slightly off-center, with the three strands comfortably coming together.

The accent bead falls slightly off-center, with the three strands comfortably coming together.

Earrings tie the look together

Earrings tie the look together

What I love about this set is the symbolism. We all walk down many paths in life, but the most precious are the paths we walk together.

Still Sunshine and Summertime

Labor Day has come and gone, kids are back in school, the commutes are clogged – it’s autumn again. In New England, the month of September is a tease. The ocean waters are finally warm (in comparison to May), the days can still be hot, the sun shines, and the night air is cool and crisp. Just like April 25, “all you need is a light jacket”¹.

But I, like many people, am a summer girl, and I’m not ready to give it up yet. Ten weeks are just too short. And I’m not ready for another winter like last year – Hey Alaska, try delivery tracking. Boston doesn’t want to receive your snowfall amounts again this year.

Perfect for keeping summer by your side.

Perfect for keeping summer by your side.

That’s where this set comes into play. The light, sea glass tones remind me of strolling along Old Orchard Beach to the pier. The whites and blues are like the bright twinkling reflections of the sun on the ocean on a hot summer day.

Lost on the Pier earringsLost on the Pier necklace

This set will keep the sand in your toes (or your Sperry’s for a month). It’s a short necklace, so I can’t promise your daughter won’t steal it to wear with her Elsa costume this Halloween. As much as is terrifies me to acknowledge, these same summer tones are also the same as those cool winter ones of January snow. Pick your season, or pick both, and enjoy!

  1. Miss Congeniality. 2000. Directed by Donald Petrie