An artisan jewelry journey in color, texture and fun. Beaded jewelry with handcrafted sterling silver is my focus and joy.

Monday, December 31, 2007

Many, Many Thanks!

Well the holiday spending seems to be dying down, and I've tallied all the purchases made from my Hope for Whirled Peas Collection created to provide support for the Fisher House ™ Foundation. Many, many thanks are due to all the wonderful folks who chose pieces from the collection for themselves or for gifts. Today I was able to donate $140 to support the Fisher Houses at Fort Sam Houston and Lackland Air Force Base here in San Antonio - woohoo! This is so beyond my expectations, and I owe it all to my fabulous customers, and also to the amazing bloggers from the 90/90 challenge who featured my fundraising collection, including Phyllis Mufson who included me in her feature on Etsy artists that give to charity, and to "Allison" who submitted my Three Peas in a Pod Earrings to Etsy Finds where they were featured on December 3 (and sold minutes thereafter!). Thank you all again.

I still have the wonderful pea green pearls in stock, so I will continue making pieces for the collection as they hold out (and I'll keep looking for more in the meantime). The signature necklace sold, and I hope to create another wire-wrapped pendant to replace it in the collection soon, so keep posted for that.

Peas out, y'all.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Bright, Fun and Affordable

A relative newcomer to Etsy, and one of the latest artists to join our 90/90 challenge (an Etsy blog challenge to do 90 artist features in 90 days -- oops, we've gone past that 90 days, but we'll keep at it 'til we get to that 90th blog! This is my 57th, if anyone is counting out there, and it's Day 91.), Shannon Saylor brings a fun eye to beaded jewelry, creating affordable earrings, bracelets, anklets, necklaces, and set combinations. She joined Etsy in September, and lives in the mountains of southwest Virginia with her husband, four cats and a dog. How idyllic that must be!

Her creations use the vast variety of colors and textures of glass beads, and she can custom create combinations based on your favorite colors. Regardless of whether you like earth tones, blues, greens, pinks, whatever, Shannon can make you a one-of-a-kind set for a very affordable price. So check out her SDS Designs shop for all her design expressions, and visit her blog to read about her featured pieces and her take on the 90/90 blog challenge.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

New Year's Resolution - Ban E-cards?

Now that the holiday season is winding down, it's time to think about what to do next. For many, it's a time for reviewing the last year, looking to the next. Is one of your New Year's resolutions a commitment to connect to friends? Have you been sending e-cards, and dashing off a quick e-mail to say "thanks"? As you are writing thank you notes for all those fabulous gifts just received, why not send an equally fabulous handcrafted thank you note instead? Eclectic and unique paper treasures can be found at the shop of Etsy artist Quirky 'n Berkeley. Her pieces are created out of her love of paper and color, and never with the assistance of a computer. All handcrafted and quite lovely.

Or maybe you would like to get a jump on the next holiday - Valentine's Day. It's not too early to begin, and what says "I love you" better than a handmade card of archival quality to cherish for a lifetime? These hearts peaking through a vellum aperture set the stage for the heartfelt sentiments you write yourself in the blank inside. Perhaps a little poetry for your true love?

Quirky 'n Berkeley, in addition to her card designs, also fashions paper treasures such as these petite origami boxes made of beautiful, luxurious, textured yuzen chiyogami paper. They're the perfect size for rings or earrings. You could get them for yourself as a treat to store your favorite pieces of jewelry, or use them for gift boxes that need no wrapping, should you find yourself challenged by that activity. (No, honey, I'm not talking about you. Really.)

The wonderful world of paper and color - something someone can hold in their hand, delight their eye, for now and for as long as they decide to keep the greeting. With the handcrafted works of ephemeral art from Quirky 'n Berkeley, I would guess they would be treasured for a long time. Check out her blog, too, for more about her art, her custom work, and her features on other Etsy artists.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Oh, Robert Redford!!!!!

Judy Richards, the Etsy artist behind Cats Paw Artifacts resides in Portland, Oregon where it rains this time of year. According to Judy, a well kept secret is that it doesn't rain all year around. Ahhhh, but what I want to know is what she means by "all"!

Judy makes lampwork beads and designs jewelry - unique and hopefully artful jewelry. She is always striving for new ideas, new shapes in glass. Judy's work is inspired by nature (flowers, birds) as depicted in glass. She loves abstract lampwork most of all with layers of glass and complexity. She is always striving to that goal.

She has done the work of reasonably exact glass beads - but yearns to break out of that toward something more complex and deep in an artistic sense. She also has a sense of humor and doesn't take herself too seriously - she is the owner of 2 cats, hence the cat beads. Judy likes to laugh and make others smile with her work.

Judy's dream buyer is the Sundance catalog. (Calling Robert, Oh, calling Robert!!)

Probably the best things she has made are jewelry with her own lampwork beads and semi precious stones that have sold that push the envelope of what we think of as jewelry and adornment.

Judy is a member of the International Society of Glass Beadmakers, a seller on ebay for 5 years - over 500-100% positive feedback, a member of the Portland Bead Society, the ORBS (Oregon Regional Beadmakers Society) and the ISGB (International Society of Glass Beadmakers). Check out all the lovelies from her shop, Cats Paw Artifacts, and her writings on her blog.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Painterly Dreams

Sometimes when I'm tense or awake at 3AM, there's a place I like to go to in my head where cool breezes blow across a blue lagoon, with white sand beaches and the warm sun in my face. My toes dig deep into the sand, I sip something frosty and sweet.....ahhh, the relaxation kicks in as I settle into my momentary mental vacation.

Well, Mary M. Hamilton of St. Petersburg, FL is at your service to take you away on such a vacation. Her painterly impressions of seascapes, florals, even animals evoke a place of light and beauty. An artist with a formal college degree in art, she has continued her education throughout her career with participations in workshops and classes from nationally and regionally-recognized artists, and collaborations with other artists.

Beginning often with an image or images from a library of hundreds of photographs she has taken, Mary's paintings have recognizable subjects set in the midst of background objects that may or may not be so well-defined, creating visual interest and intrigue. Not one to control her media, her art is truly impressionistic, realistic without being photographic.

Lucky for you, you don't have to actually make the trip to Florida to treat yourself to one of Mary's painterly vacations, but can drop by anytime you want by visiting her at her Etsy shop, Dream On, and reading more about her on her blog, Dreams About Art. As for me, I'm thinking about a cat nap......

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Here Kitty Kitty Kitty

One of the best things about this 90/90 blog challenge (90 blogs in 90 days!!) is the opportunity to meet a lot of Etsy artists previously unknown to me. Some are new to Etsy, some are just new to me, but they've all been fun to investigate and find the things I like best about them. One shop that's new to me is Lazy Cat Gifts, and one would think I would have come across them sooner given their name and their fabulous work, but no, they were lost in the crowd for me. No more.

Named in honor of their kitty friends (although I know a few people who would claim the name of their shop is highly redundant - what cat isn't lazy?!! - lol!), their pictures appear above, snagged from their very clever blog. Nemo is little and orange, Mittens is a polydactyl tuxedo, Zorro is the princess who likes to sleep on yarn, and Emma is Mittens' sister who loves to snuggle. (Zorro and Emma look like my Stella!) Lazy Cat Gifts was created by three friends in Ann Arbor, MI. Two of them were in medical school at the University of Michigan and the third worked in a laboratory there (yea laboratorians!!). They were all inspired by their grandmothers who crocheted, and have applied that inspiration to both jewelry and accessories for their shop.

They began their enterprise at local craft shows, and then began on Etsy in January 2007. They have really enjoyed the community on Etsy, as I have, and it has the added bonus for them in allowing them to continue in their business even though one of the partners moved to Philadelphia.

They enjoy using the skills from their grandmothers to create wonderfully hip and modern pieces. They crochet in both yarn and wire, creating artisan bead crochet jewelry, scarves, hats, etc., and are constantly looking for ways to expand crochet.

As I mentioned above that they have a blog, I want to point out their very clever "match-up" features. What a helpful thing to provide for shoppers! Click on the image below to get to the post where they show how to complete a look starting with this fabulous crocheted necklace. Maybe they should consider a personal shopping career - they sure can pull a look together!

So take a trip over to Lazy Cat Gifts, check out their blog for great features on other Etsy artists as well as their fun match ups, and get shopping!

Holiday Expo Bazaar Today!

A group of women business owners are coming together today to create a bazaar of wonderful shopping for the holidays. Lasting all day long, I will be the featured vendor for an hour from 12-1PM EST / 11AM- 12PM CST. I'll be available to chat, share information about me and my jewelry, and provide some fun opportunities.

Check out the site for all the vendors and their times, and drop by to chat. Happy Holiday Shopping!!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Get Your Holiday Style On

Vanessa Kimball from Bloomington, MN is a graphic designer for a design company called Ekcetera Productions, and her stationery can also be purchased at the brick&mortar store called Ekcetera in Inver Grove Heights, MN.

Lucky for us on Etsy, Vanessa also sells her stationery at an eponymous shop there. Her designs are bright, crisp and modern. You can find cards, calendars and gift tags with a classy look and elegant lines. If you love her design aesthetic and need some graphic assistance for your own e-commerce life, she also sells her skills in graphic banner designs.

Here's how Vanessa describes herself in her Etsy profile:
I'm glued to my computer. I wonder if there's such thing as a design addiction. Oh and I'm also addicted to Lipsmackers lip gloss. Strawberry Kiwi to be exact. Don't judge. :)

I also enjoy interior decorating, tennis, music, painting, vintage, IKEA, listening to The Current,coffee table books and art.
Don't worry, Vanessa, we would never judge a Lipsmackers addiction, especially Strawberry Kiwi - yum!

It's not to late to hop on over to Vanessa Kimball and find some holiday paperie to make your holidays classy, and even more important, handmade. Find out more on her blog, too, while you're at it. She's also doing the 90/90 blogging challenge and may have found just what you need and written an awesome feature on it. You'll never know until you click-and-go!

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Maine Event

MaryAnn Anderson from Norridgewock, Maine, and the Etsy artist behind BackWoods Creations, has been doing the arts and crafts thing since she was a "wee child." Her mom always told her that idle hands can make trouble. Now her hands are busy keeping the creativity flowing, but she insists she still finds time to get into trouble. MaryAnn's creative endeavors focus primarily on painting, fabric, textile art, and the creation of art dolls.

The results of her creative efforts include whimsical batik and handpainted creatures such as Fergus above. Not toys for children, but three-dimensional fabric sculptures inspired by real-life animals, often created to raise funds for Etsy for Animals. EFA is a street team or group of artists and craftspeople on Etsy who donate some portion of their sales to animal rescues and charities. They change the charity monthly, and BackWoods Creations donates 10% of the purchase price of her EFA-specified listings to the charity designated for month of the purchase/adoption.

MaryAnn also creates fabric art jewelry and mixed media collages for a shop that provides a variety of options to indulge in her artistic expressions. Head out to the BackWoods to see for yourself, and find out more about MaryAnn on her blog.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Even the Smallest Gifts are Bigger in Texas

Etsy Texas Crafters take on stocking stuffers

Whether you are just starting your holiday shopping or finishing up with those last few items, join the Etsy Texas Crafters on Monday, December 3rd for their monthly 1st Monday Sale. With over 300 members, the Etsy Texas Crafters (ETC) street team doesn't do anything on a small scale!

More than 50 ETC shops will be offering deals and promotions with an emphasis on stocking stuffers. Each participating shop chooses the discount/sale they offer and helps promote each other during this day of fun and shopping.

Members will be featuring each other's stocking stuffers on their blogs, in treasuries and in the etsy forums.

Heather Powers (Humblebeads) will host an informal holiday chat, talking all about your favorite stocking stuffers and sharing finds from some favorite etsy sellers. Join us in the Red Room at 12pm CST (1pm EST).

Visit the Etsy Texas Crafters Street Team website for a complete list of participating shops on Monday - and y'all go shopping!

Flashback Happens

Moving this past summer, I came across a box of "old" vinyl LPs. Man, I loved that music! I belonged to Columbia House Records, and managed to forget to return with a "Don't Send" only a couple of times, meaning the records are all pretty much ones I wanted in the first place. Steely Dan, Billy Joel, Dan Fogelberg, Chicago.... I wonder if they're all warped to heck from storage? Without a turntable - how can I know?

I do know that if I ever figure that out and the answer is "Yes, these records are all toast," then I'm sending the jackets over to the Etsy artist Revinylized. In the most clever of recycle-reuse, she takes the awesome artwork that was standard issue for LP jackets and transforms them into items of purpose, like sketchbooks, organizers and purses. So awesome.

Revinylized is actually a "side" shop to the main shop for the artist behind all this craftiness: Katie from Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. Katie's main shop is Knuckletoes, and she also sells her jewelry, clothing and purses at Folk Festivals in her area. She carries the theme of recycle-reuse by also making her clothing and purses out of recycled materials. Anything from tablecloths, to pillowcases, to reused LP record covers. This not only gives her items a vintage feel, but it helps the environment. What more do you need?

Katie features other indie artists at her Revinylized blog, and her life at her Knuckletoes blog. Now, off to look into finding a turntable for a chance to revisit my youth......

Saturday, December 01, 2007

More on Gifts that Give

Do you have someone on your gift list that has adopted or will be adopting a child from China? This gorgeous bracelet created by Etsy artist Deanna Roux of FancyFreeMe has a very special meaning that would be just perfect for that someone. It’s a symbol for anyone who is lucky and blessed enough to have built their family by adopting a child from China.

In addition to its beauty and symbolic significance, 100% of the proceeds from the sale of these bracelets will go to Harmony Outreach, a 501(c) (3), non-profit organization that helps to save abandoned babies and children in China by ensuring they receive the medical treatment, therapy or schooling they need while they complete their journey from abandonment and hopelessness to redemption and love.

Each element in the bracelet has been carefully chosen to have a meaning for this outreach effort. Click on the image above to find out more, and visit Deanna's blog to get the full story and more information about Harmony Outreach.

Awaken the Goddess Within

Many of the artists at Etsy profess a life-long calling to art. One of the site's gifts is that it provides such a friendly forum (haha, even though sometimes the "Forums" are not so friendly!) for these artists to showcase their artistic expressions. An artist such as this is Andee Harston from Orlando, who loves to draw, paint, sculpt, make jewelry, and most recently, express herself in photography. Her jewelry business, Celtic Goddess Jewelry, was started in early 2001.

Andee's life and her art is influenced by spiritual learning, nature and goddess and Celtic imagery, and she identifies very strongly with her Celtic heritage. I found her spiritual and natural pieces very compelling, with a strong design sense, and beautifully elegant lines.

She has also launched a bath-and-body shop, Sacred Waters Bath, offering soaps in unique shapes and scents, bath teas and more.

You can see all of her work on her website gallery, shop at Celtic Goddess Jewelry, and learn more about Andee and her views on the world and other indie artists on her blog.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Three's Company

Creativity sometimes is a solitary pursuit, and sometimes breeds cooperativity. In the case of KreativeMindz from Cincinnati, an Etsy company of three began when the husband and wife team of Aly and Beau, supporting each other through love, laughter and creativity, teamed up with An-G, one of Aly's best friends.

They mostly make clothing (in all sizes and colors), Goddess Wraps™, Hot Packs, bags, purses, wallets, cuffs and many other cool things! Beau is a very skilled craftsman and carpenter. Check out their Wooden Kreationz section.

All this "kreativity" didn't just rise up by spontaneous generation. Aly was born and raised in a home of artists, and the kids in the family were always doing some sort of "project". Continuing for Aly throughout her life, dipping her hands in all sorts of creative projects, she found her niche in sewing. She enjoys working with the different fibers to see what can be done with them. She began her sewing career traveling all over the country selling her clothes at music shows and festivals.

Now a stay-at-home-mom, she misses that traveling life sometimes, but feels so blessed to have her 2 wonderful and beautiful children, and so very thankful to have the Etsy opportunity to work at home and be able to watch her children grow. Aly and Beau also enjoy their land and organic gardens, hiking, fishing, swimming, playing, camping, fires, drum circles and a show when they can catch one. As mentioned above, Beau is a carpenter and loves working with his hands and building wonderful things! The sewing is assisted by An-G, who lives in Columbus and where she just graduated from vet school. (There we go again with the recurring theme of creative scientists!)

Kruise their KreativeMindz shop for colorful kreations, and take a trip to their blog to find out more.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Stocking Stuffers!

I have found some items that will make for perfect stocking stuffers for literally EVERYBODY! Who can beat that? Check out these wonderful paper products from Etsy artist Simply Said by Sarah. Great as gifts for anyone with a need to keep notes, monogrammed sticky notes, or holiday inspired design notepads, these will be perfect choices for friends, family members, teachers....yep, just about everybody.

The artist behind Simply Said is Sarah Orton. Sarah is a graphic design student in North Carolina. Her flair for design stems from a lifelong interest in crafts and her pieces demonstrate a fun spin on a contemporary sense of style. Encouraged by the requests she’d begun to receive from fellow employees and friends, Sarah decided to combine her creativity with her business sense, and Simply Said by Sarah was born. Each piece is handcrafted and unique, and is sure to add a tasteful touch of originality to your home!

Open to customization, special requests are always welcome at Simply Said by Sarah. Check out her blog, too, on posts about her graphic design journey and posts on other Etsy artists.

Monday, November 26, 2007

On an Odyssey for Good Gifts?

So, your quest for something enchanting continues this Cyber Monday? Are you caught between the Scylla and Charybdis of too little time and too little money? Might I suggest a journey to a shop full of fun and imaginative and wonderfully affordable treats? And I promise, this trip won't take you twenty years. Enough with the Ulysses jokes - now take a trip to the Etsy shop of Ulixis. Owned by Northern Ontario native Amanda, currently a fifth year Honors Biology and Pharmacology co-op student at McMaster University and working in the Janssen lab on her thesis. (Cool
thing - she does real-time videomicroscopy of smooth muscle cell migration: a woman after my own heart!)

Amanda claims to have been crafty her whole life, and enjoys making a variety of things. I am a firm believer that this is a common attribute of scientists (see my previous post on the astronomer/jewelry artist of Silver Dragon). When Amanda was younger, it was drawing, then wreathes, dolls and beading. Now, her focus has switched to notebooks and jewelry. She also enjoys cooking, reading, writing and problem solving - see, the perfect blend of talents and interests for a creative scientist.

My personal favorites of hers are her button creations - so fun!

Please check out her blog, too, where she'll be posting regularly on personal tid-bits, inspirations and featuring other Canadian / Etsy sellers!!

On with your quest to Ulixis!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Is it time for a Blue Moon?

Known as a rare event, the next blue moon won't happen in the sky until May 2008. Lucky for you, a more accessible rare event (that of discovery of beautiful art) can be had by a trip to Indigo Luna. The Etsy shop of mixed media and textile artist Rachel Kitterman, her primary passion is fabric, and she has been making art quilts and dolls for over a decade now. Rachel also loves paper, altered art, mixed-media, knitting, crocheting, jewelry, artist books, photography...pretty much, if it will hold still, she'll make art out of it. Her store has an amazing and ecclectic sampling of all the creative things she loves to make.

Her work is infused with the environment of her world - a 5th generation Oregonian, growing up in a lush and verdant valley, playing in the damp woods and blackberry thickets - she can't imagine living anywhere else.

Three things (of many) we have in common, from Rachel's list of "100 Things About Me":
55. I broke my tailbone when I was in high school.
69. I’m a very good speller.
97. I am a chronic procrastinator and a perfectionist.

and one more for good measure:
100. I believe in synchronicity and karma.

Go check out her complete list on her blog, and generate some good karma this holiday season by shopping handmade at Indigo Luna.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Charming Etsy Star

The Etsy artist behind Earth Charms describes her shop as "A little store run by someone with a big passion for natural stones and their metaphysical properties." She transforms that passion into jewelry and other gift items, and provides for her buyers all the information considered as attributes for the beautiful stones that she has selected for her pieces for that added dimension of meaning to art and/or adornment. Take for example the elegant kyanite earrings below - a stone believed to enhance communication and loyalty - how perfect for earrings!

I love the Bio in Earth Charms' Etsy shop - a prose/poem that tells you so much about her:

My name is: a title used to facilitate communication.
My home is: a little slice of paradise despite the paper-thin walls and windows.
My goal is: to make macrame fashionable.
My soul is: owned by a thieving kitty.
My dreams are: not all that unrealistic, and involve comfort instead of riches.
My life is: meant to be enjoyed to the fullest.

So expect to be charmed when you visit Earth Charms, and find out more on her blog.

Friday, November 23, 2007

More Black Friday Goodies

The incredible artists of the Art Jewelry Collective have compiled the best of the best in their Holiday Gift Guide. I'm so honored to have my Dewdrop earrings selected as the lead item for the Earrings collection. Go AJC!

Untie a Ribbon on Some Signature Pieces

There are so many wonderful handcrafted items on Etsy, it should be so very easy to shop handmade this Holiday Season. At Signature Sterling, the gift opportunities abound! One of my favorites from Sue's shop leads this post, with fabulous beads and colors inspired by "Hairspray."

Sue enjoys designing, creating, and just plain playing with a variety of beads - but mainly sterling silver, semiprecious, lampwork, Czech glass, and Swarovski crystals/pearls. When she's not beading, she loves being a soccer mom. When you stop by Signature Sterling be sure to check out her links to some other terrific, creative "Etsians" - especially the TBO, the Bead Hive, JET, EtsyMom, and etsyBead groups. Need help finding these talented artists? Go to the Etsy home site and search for TBO, BHV, JETT, EtsyMom, and etsyBead in tags,titles. You'll get a great list to choose from!

And yes, Sue is a Buckeye fan - check out her blog for proof positive on that point. But she supports fans of all types - for a great gift idea for that super-fan in your life, check out her "Colors" line for custom items tailored to school colors and activities.