Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Jewelry Artist's Perspective on Project Accessory…

So much to say about this show, where to begin….

I had to watch this show. It’s the only reality show out there that is close to my reality. I’ve watched some reality shows in the past and other shows where cast members compete and get eliminated. I’ve actually never seen Project Runway. When I heard about this show I thought “wow, a show for me!”

First of all, they don’t even really say the word jewelry. It’s just “bling”, this makes my skin crawl. To lump jewelry designers with shoe and bag makers and make them all compete under the category of “accessory” is just disrespectful to these very different trades.

Here its not jewelry, it’s costume jewelry. It’s decoration. Here they are all just ways to decorate the clothing on the body, they’re secondary to the clothing, the fashion. And they all carry the same weight.

To me jewelry is so personal. Bags and shoes, while they definitely can be works of art, they are utilitarian, I put my bag down and I take my shows off and still I wear my jewelry. Jewelry carries emotion, history, it’s made of metal and can last through the ages. On this show, all of that is stripped away and it’s simply ‘bling’ something shiny to accompany a cocktail dress. So few techniques are shown, just some hammering, sawing, wire wrapping. It makes me sad.

Of course I still wanted to watch it because its the only show out there that does include jewelry, unfortunately it only went as far as Swarovski crystals and base metals. Not even silver or precious stones.

Now the challenges were interesting and the materials were varied but the idea of rushing through art, having 1-2 days to make something was so frustrating. This is not fast food! I understand the point was to make it competitive but with more time they could have made better pieces and they could have aired only the dramatic bits but given them a week to work.

I’m interested in the fashion world because, frankly, the jewelry world lacks some pizzazz. We don’t have runway shows and copious spreads in fashion mags. Most jewelry magazines are “how to” and are read by makers, not buyers. But seeing things in this show and hearing statements like “very sellable” and “fashion forward” make me cringe. The idea of creating something in style means its only going to be out of style by the next season.

Another bee in my bonnet: only seeing the work on beautiful, skinny models. Sigh. It was all just so superficial which I guess is all that can be expected from a reality show on TV.

Watching did help me to feel firm in my desire to make work for real women. Work that lasts year after year and goes with all kinds of styles. Timeless pieces, well made and made to last. Not throw away, pieces that are always in style. Modern, yet my own. Made for real budgets. Work with its own meaning not just meant to go with a style or outfit. It made me realize I don’t really want to be in the fashion world. I want to combine the best of that world with the best of the jewelry world and come up with something new…

Update...make that $3100!

Sold out! Thanks so much to everyone who purchased a Repairing Vermont Pendant. I'm so happy to say we've raised $3100 for the VT Irene Flood Relief Fund!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

We've Raised $2500!

Thanks so much to everyone who purchased a Repairing Vermont Pendant. I'm thrilled to say we've raised $2500 for the VT Irene Flood Relief Fund.

I've heard many stories from those who've purchased pendants. Most have been devastating but many have also been heartwarming and hopeful. I'm so proud to live in Vermont, we have a strong sense of community here and we strive to take care of each other. I'm proud to have played a small part. We can't always help in the ways that we would like, but we can think of ways that we can help within our own means. I still have silver pendants - they make great presents - a gift that gives twice. (Scroll down to see the order button.) Happy Holidays!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Show time! Some Helpful Tips...

It's that time of year. Craft show time. If you're like me, you are crazed and working away. It's stressful but exciting. I've had several friends who are new to the scene recently write me with some questions on how to prepare for their first show. Now I know there's more than what I have below but this is a good start. I hope this helps!

For starters: Make your life easier with a good folding cart. This one at is amazing. It folds up so small for storage and opens up so huge for carting all your wares. It fits in your car and hides well under your table.

Display: Make your display inviting, yet simple, clean. Tie it in with your work and your style but don't let it compete with what you're selling. I've always found great display items at TJ Maxx, Joanne Fabrics, Pier One and on Ebay and Etsy. Have a table cloth that hangs to the floor so you can hide stuff under your table. Make sure to have a comfy enough chair but stand as much as you can. Be sure to have a mirror if your items are jewelry or clothing or other wearable goods. Make sure your prices are visible. The lighting is never great at shows so it's a good idea to bring your own lights (and extension cord). You don't have to go crazy though. I just set up a desk lamp on either side of my table and really clamp them down well with extra c-clamps.

Banner: You need to have a nice banner so people can find you in a crowded show. I only had to look as far as Etsy to find a banner maker who was fast, affordable and friendly. His name is Paul Wilson and his Etsy shop is Wilson Graphics. He can print whatever you want on thick vinyl complete with grommets and he has a variety of sizes. I chose the 1' x 3'. It only cost $22 + $10 shipping and I received it 4 days after I ordered it! (Although this was 3 years ago, his prices may have gone up.)

Change: I think it's good to have 20 $1s, 4 $5s and 2 $10s. Also change for the meter! I recommend using a modern fanny pack type bag to keep your money on you, instead of a cash box. Be sure to have a calculator, I always check it twice just to be sure I didn't punch the numbers in wrong.

Credit Cards: Now thanks to IPhones and Square, vendors can take credit cards. This is a great thing! I've been using it for a year and I've had no problems. I've made more sales because of it.

Packaging: It would be easy to go nutso here but simple works. Look for boxes and bags that are made from recycled paper. Re-use tissue paper that you've gotten from purchases. Buy or make a custom stamp of your logo to stamp on your boxes and bags. I made mine by carving away at a rubber stamp - something Celie Fago taught me.

Business Cards/Postcards
I love my mini moo cards. They are small but sturdy cards, you get 100 for $19.95 but the best part is, they can be 100 different images! It's so great to be able to get a variety of images and not be limited to just one. I picked 20 images of what's currently available in my Etsy shop and got 5 of each. Always put a card in your box and have them out on your table for people to take.

I get business cards and postcards from They have good prices and quick turn around time. I like to go with a matte finish and rounded corners. The more you buy the cheaper it is. During the holiday season I pick a great image of my work (or multiple images) for the front and list my show schedule on the back.

Food: Bring snacks, lots of them. Things that are easy to eat - not messy and things that aren't going to give you offensive breath! If you drink coffee, chew gum or mints after!

Stickers: Always good to have stickers to give to the lil ones so their parents can have a minute to look.

Show Day: Remember to advertise your shows on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, your website, etc. Especially on the day of your shows to remind folks. Get there early. Always better to have more time to set up and you never know if you'll need to run out for last minute items. Try to always have something to work on during slow times. Smile! You'll learn as you go and the more shows you get under your belt, the easier and more streamlined your whole system will get!

Some extras to remember:
extra price tags
permanent marker

hand sanitizer
lip balm
paper towels
paper bag for garbage
mailing list sign up

Okay, that should do it... Best of luck!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

2011 Commemorative NYE NYC MSG Token

~A Collectible Token, or A Wearable Pendant

Let the collection begin, with my 2nd token. This year there are many fish and they play a more active role in the design - poised to take a bite out of the big apple. Not only does it commemorate the New Year's Run with all 4 dates etched along the edge, but it is a true sign of the times with the letters "OCCUPY MSG" subtly spelled out among the fish. We might be small but our numbers are strong. From a distance the image resembles a flower... we come in peace.

Token is the size of a quarter. Makes a great holiday gift for your favorite fan! This is a limited edition of 100 tokens, numbers are engraved on the back. My signature can be found on the bottom edge.

Available in Sterling silver:
as a Pendant on cord for $38
or as a Token $25
or Pendant on sterling chain $48


as a Token $15
or as a Magnet $20

Once again, I'm donating 10% of every sale to the Mockingbird Foundation.

Item comes nicely packaged and ships Priority Mail. Shipping is a flat $5.00 for as many items as will fit in the box :)

These were on Pre-order but as of 12/9 they are ready to ship! (Priority mail takes 2-3 days).

Just click on any of the above Token links and you will be connected to purchase them through my Etsy shop!

2010 token was featured on: ~ ~ PhanArt ~ OnlinePhishTour ~ Coventry Music Blog ~ Glide Magazine's Hidden Track

Monday, September 26, 2011

Holiday Show Schedule

It's that time again...

I'll have these magnets at the last market. I'll also have them at my holiday shows. If there's a piece someone really likes I'll tell them the name of it and hand them a permanent marker and they can fill in the blank and stick it on their fridge. :)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Butterfly Story

One late summer day we noticed this amazing lil cacoon - actually it's a chrysalis. It had spectacular gold details on it. Like some special treasure. It was safely made under the end of the banister on the porch. The weeks went by and I kept an eye on it.

After a heavy rain I checked on it and it had changed. It was clear but black. See-through to a black inside and you could see some of the monarch pattern. I knew it wouldn't be long until it hatched.

I checked the next day and to my great dismay, the butterfly was GONE! How sad after waiting so long. My eyes fell and my gaze rested on THE BUTTERFLY...!

I was so pleased to meet her (I now know she was a she because females have thick black veining through their wings.) She seemed overwhelmed. I couldn't imagine a stranger thing to go through, starting out as a grubby green caterpillar with lots of legs and turning into a beautiful butterfly with wings! I wanted to touch her (not her wings) but just to connect with her but I didn't want to interfere. Then I looked down to her right, there was a thick spider web. I wasn't going to stand by and let her possibly fall into it's doom. So I put my finger next to her legs and she crawled right on.

We just hung out for a while. Every once in a while she'd pump her wings and I could feel it through my finger. This seemed magical.

I decided to place her a few feet away on a tiny flower. The underside of her wings was also just so beautiful. (I realized how similar monarch's colors and patterns are to African mud cloth, one of my favorite textiles.)

There she stayed for over an hour. I kept trying to go back to work but then going outside to see if she had gone or if she was still hangin' on. This was such a great distraction on a sunny day, I just kept going outside.

I took so many photos but it was hard to capture her with her wings fully open, until finally, I got this one. Just exquisite!

Like a parent, I started getting a little concerned - shouldn't she try to fly by now? It had been hours since she hatched. I read that they usually fly shortly after hatching, after they've pumped their wings up. Maybe she lacked confidence? How could I help? At that moment, ANOTHER Monarch flew across the driveway and landed. CRAZY! I've seen very few butterflies around here and to see two at the same moment seemed like kismet. Then I had an idea... I brought "my" butterfly over to meet the other, in the hopes that she would learn to fly from it's example. I kept my finger low and in front of me so that the new butterfly (also a she) wouldn't fly away.

This worked. I crouched right down and slowly moved my finger towards the new butterfly.

This was all very intense and I managed to keep taking photos the whole time! It took a lot of attempts but I finally got a good photo of both of their wings open at the same time.

They fluttered together, seemed like they were communicating. Then mine started to crawl up my hand.

Then the other one started to crawl on my finger.

I was so excited - feeling like the butterfly whisperer! Mine crawled all the way up my arm to my shoulder and before I knew it - TOOK FLIGHT! Her first flight - such a cool thing to witness. She flew awkwardly at first, trying to get the hang of it, fluttering furiously. She flew all the way up to the tallest tree and landed. I felt sad to see her go, but so much pride to be a part of her ride!

The other butterfly flew seemlessly - a pro. I walked over to her again and put my finger out. She crawled on and I stood up. Then she flew off too.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Repairing Vermont Pendant - Raising money for the VT Irene Flood Relief Fund.

On Aug 28th, our small state got pummeled by hurricane Irene. The devastation that it caused is overwhelming. The only comfort in the wake of the storm is how the Vermont community has come together. Everyone is helping out. I wanted to create a piece that I could sell to generate some money for the relief effort. I didn't want to just create a generic design though, I yearned to make something meaningful. Then it came to me, my signature "patch" design would work so well here. Vermont has been broken, torn up but it's being patched together, healed. The beauty is in the binding.

(Front of Pendant)
100% of the profits after the cost of producing these pendants will be donated to the VT Irene Flood Relief Fund.

(Back of Pendant)
Each one has my JK signature on the back. This symbol is not only my initials, it's the Chinese symbol for "Forever" (which works really well in this case "Love Vermont Forever").

Sterling Silver

or Brass
1" in length.
This pendant is Unisex, everyone can wear it.

Black waxed cotton cord with sterling terminations and clasp.
I use Priority mail. If they're shipped to VT it will only take 1 day. If you order more than 1, the shipping will still be $5.00.

Sold out! Thanks to all who purchased pendants, we raised $3100 for the Vermont Irene Relief Fund!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

On the Cover of Metal Clay Artist Magazine!

Exciting news...a bit's been a crazy summer. My Chinese turquoise necklace is on the cover of Metal Clay Magazine and I have a lovely 5 page spread. It features 9 photos (all by Robert Diamante) of my work -to me it feels kind of like a retrospective of my last 10 years working with PMC. So many thanks to Jeanette LeBlanc and Margaret Schindel, this is such an honor and a thrill. They've made an amazing magazine, it just turned 2 years old with this issue. Thank you to Julia Rai for a great interview.

It's funny, the first thing some of my friends and colleagues have said upon reading it is "You were born in Miami!?!" I know, it's pretty random. I tried to read it as if I was reading about someone else and I thought 'I like what this person has to say', so that's a good thing!

It was so exciting to walk into Barnes and Noble today and see my piece, right there on the magazine rack. A tiny "I've made it!" feeling soared through me and motivates me to keep working away. My mom went to the Barnes and Noble near her and picked up a copy too, making sure to tell all the people that worked there that it was her daughter's work on the cover. Awe, mom.

So, that's the end of my gushing...I'm just really happy about this.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Modern Relics in a Modern Era - One Way I'm Handling the Rise of Silver

For several years I've had 4 bronze pieces sitting on my desk. They have been waiting, patiently for me to set them in silver as I've done before with my Modern Relics series. They've waited while I've been consumed with making less expensive pieces, always getting pushed to the back corner. This year I was determined to make them into jewelry, into the pendants they were meant to become...and then the cost of silver began to rise...and rise...and RISE. And with it, my interest in creating settings for these pendants, diminished. I had already rolled out the textured backsheets in PMC but I didn't want to spend the silver - or the time to make them into settings. Then it hit me! These pieces are not fragile turquoise, or shell or other thing in need of protection. They're solid bronze and they're STRONG. They don't need sides! (I wouldn't want them to be pendants by themselves because I wouldn't want them to turn people's skin green.)

So I decided to rivet the silver backs onto the bronze. I LOVE riveting and it was easy to drill the bronze. I even drilled large holes for tube rivets so I could use sterling jumprings for bails. The riveting was easy cause you can smack that bronze with a hammer no problem!

I love the way they look and feel and I like having the sides exposed because they are cool and cracked and craggy.

Now they're actually reversible (although I still warn about wearing bronze against moist skin).

With the rise of silver I began to have a mid-jewelry-life crisis. But the first thing I did was cash in 10 years of saved scrap. This was a lot of scrap and it yielded a lot of credit at Rio Grande. Enough to get a kiln, a Flex shaft and drill press, a torch and some tools. Enough to start MY OWN STUDIO! Now it was a scary idea to start my own studio when I was worried if I could afford to keep working with silver but then I thought about my work and the materials I use. I work with copper, brass, bronze, found objects, fabric, shells, stones, leather and feathers. I use silver with most designs but as accents, as embellishments.

So I'm not about to stop making jewelry, just to start making jewelry a little differently, with a little more focus on the other stuff. In April, these pieces were the first ones I created with my new tools and it was very exciting stuff.

My mentor Celie wrote a great blog on her way of dealing with the price of silver, check it out HERE. Now that I have my own kiln and now that I love these new Modern Relics, I will be working with more BronzClay and I'm really looking forward to that. Silver has been down in recent weeks too, maybe it will keep going down, but it's good to know that you can let creativity overcome anxiety, that you can adapt.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Always the Bridesmaid's jewelry, Rarely the Bride's...Part 2

Here are some photos from Ava Bishop's fashion show. The dresses were outstanding, the event well attended and I had a blast seeing my jewelry on these exquisite model brides. Alas, most the photos taken were too far away to see the jewelry but here are a few of the ones that showed it well.
Amelia: Photo by David Seaver
Featuring Droplets Necklace and Tear drop with Pearl earrings
Brittany: Photo by David Seaver
Large Copper Crescent EarringsKerrin: Photo by David Seaver
Edgy Layered Necklace
Priscilla: Photo by Alison Redlich
Organic Shapes Necklace and EarringsAleisha: Photo by David Seaver
Feather and Leather (with added Lace) Earrings
Linda: Photo by David Seaver
Gold and Silver Leaf Necklace and Earrings
Priscilla: Photo by David Seaver
New Red Feather and Chain earrings
Photo by David Seaver

Thanks Ava! Thanks David and Alison and thank you lovely models!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Always the Bridesmaid's jewelry, Rarely the Bride's...Until Now

Many a bride has contacted me about ordering jewelry for their bridesmaids. I've done 8 pairs of the same earring, I've done 6 pairs of different earrings but all with gold added to them, I've had women order right from my Etsy shop. I'm always honored to have my work be a part of someone's special day. It's interesting though, how so few of these brides have considered my jewelry for themselves. They tend to be more traditional and go with crystal or diamonds or pearls. So I'm extremely excited to be a part of Ava Bishop's upcoming show. We have a very similar aesthetic and our work pairs beautifully together. Initially I found myself choosing from my most conservative pieces for her gowns and then I realized... she digs the edginess, the tribalness and that's so cool!

Her show of gowns "Past and Present" will be meeting up with my jewelry past and present - some classic designs, some revamped and some brand-spankin' new. I always prefer to see my jewelry on the body and seeing it on model brides draped in Ava's exquisite creations is sure to be a lovely sight.

Photos will be taken and I'll get 'em up on the web as soon as possible.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

"The Many Faces of the Modern Apprenticeship"

So happy to be featured in the March 2011 issue of Art Jewelry Magazine. The article is called "The Many Faces of the Modern Apprenticeship". Kristen Sutter did a great job profiling four types of apprenticeships and I was interviewed for the traditional perspective. Is an apprenticeship right for you? Check out the article!