Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New piece and Child's Play Update!

Hillary created a piece for The Dec eSMArts Challenge which was themed "winter". Unfortunately, eSMArts in its current form has shut down and Hillary no longer has access to the blog to run the challenges from. However, Hillary still wanted to share her piece with everyone.

This piece will be listed on Artful Unity within the next few days. This piece is made of real pearls and sterling silver.

Also, Hillary Wanted to let everyone know how the fundraiser for Child's Play went: We raised $20 for Children's hospitals! Thanks to everyone who helped!

We hope everyone had and continues to have a great holiday season! See you in the new year!!!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

"How a Piece of Jewelry Leaves it's imprint"

Yesterday we featured a fingerprint ring from Rock my World Inc.
We found out that Etsy recently did a feature on her and wanted to share it with you.

Friday, December 11, 2009


Hillary Won this month's eSMArts Challenge! You can see what she had to say about winning here.
You can see her explanation of the inspiration behind the piece she created here. We are utterly thrilled and cannot describe how giddy Hillary is! Thank you to everyone who voted!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

New Piece for the eSMArts Challenge- "Exactly"

Hillary created this new necklace for the eSMArts monthly challenge. This month's theme was ribbon and Hillary's piece fits the theme well, but it is based on something deeper. Here is what she had to say about it:

"Why would you cover up something so beautiful? Why hastily wrap fabric around something that is already perfect? Why mask the amazing sparkle?" Because it's what I do in real life. Why?
I don't know. What I do know is that hiding is tiring and it mostly just hurts me. I'm beautiful and sparkly and amazing just like my pendant: Creativity, compassion, dramatic tendencies, mistakes, extra 35 pounds and all. It's all beautiful. Keeping it in is a lot of work. Keeping it covered is me telling myself it's wrong or that other people's definitions of beautiful matter more than mine. I'm so tired of living behind this "fabric". I don't think I've said that enough: I'm tired and it hurts; And it's lonely.

I love people. I love hugs. I love talking. I love; alot. But mostly I worry about what other people will think if I reach out to them, I hide and I push people away. I don’t always know why. Sometimes, it’s just plain habit: No matter how hard I try, I run and hide, create drama, or just sit silently when what I really want to do is sing and dance and run through the snow naked. I am a little crazy. It really can be a wonderful, beautiful, happy, complicated crazy. But usually, it’s just defensive and short under the guise of trying to appear normal. I should be happy that I am not normal. What I am is beautiful. Perhaps one day I will make another pendant about myself and it will not be a hazy blur of gems with a little sparkle peeking out here and there. I believe it will be twice as beautiful as this one.

Thank you for listening to my story.


Monday, December 7, 2009

eSMArts updates and challenges

eSMArts announced their Santa Giveaway winner!

The eSMArts voting for the October/November challenge is up. The last day to vote will be Wed 12//09 at midnight EST. Look on this blog in the next few days for a detailed post on the piece we entered.

Next Month's challenge has been posted and the theme is "winter". Check the eSMArts Blog around the first of January to see the beautiful creations of the team members.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

New Piece to be donated

Hillary made a new piece and wanted to show you.

She will be donating this lovely lady to a local children's charity

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Child's Play Charity Promotion!

20% of sales from and will go to, a charity that helps out children's hospitals throughout the world. They have already raised over half a million dollars in the last month and hope we can help give them some more. I started keeping track on thanksgiving and will turn the final donation in on Dec 30th. All sales count including sale items, custom items, and in person sales (if you know me in real life). These guys rock; help them out!

Why do they rock? Because it's a couple of passionate gamers, who write a webcomic, who got tired of the negative light that the media painted gamers in and decided to start a charity for Children's hospitals. They decided to buy toys and raise money for a couple of hospitals in their area. They ended up with about $200,000 in donations and toys that year in a one month period just by putting it out there to their readers. This is their 6th year and they more than doubled that figure their first week this year. They are now up to over $700,000 worth of donations since the beginning of November, and it all goes to help kids.

Hillary is an avid gamer and was raised in an environment of helping. She continues that spirit of helping every day as a social worker. She loves that there is a way that her jewelry businesses can help out and she really loves that there is a charity that promotes a positive image of an amazing group of people that she is proud to belong to.

In celebration of her Child's Play event, Hillary has made shipping on all items half price. She has also updated the shop, put some more items on sale and added some pieces:

We hope to be adding one or two more pieces soon so that there will be even more for you to buy to help out .

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Artists I'm Thankful For

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Today Hillary Wanted to share some artists she's thankful for:

Amanda Palmer - She's an amazing musician, She encourages other artists and she seems to know almost no bounds. Seeing all of her crazy creativity actually producing positive results is one of the things that keeps me going in life. If I'm a foul mood, her music cheers me up; if I'm in a creative slump, her twitpics of crowdsurfing and her face covered in glitter or her arm covered in messages to fans remind that any crazy thing I want to try really could work.

Kim Graham Smith - Her art is at the same time fun and skillful, her facebook feed is hilarious, she brings her fun spirit to events and parties around the Birmingham, AL area, and she uses her considerable talents with art and graphic design to help Birmingham AIDS Outreach in just about every way possible.

Sanspointe Dance Company- I took dance from Michelle for several years before she and Shellie founded Sanspointe. I was always Amazed at her creativity, zest for life and respect for other people's ideas. I highly respect Shellie as a teacher, choreographer and dancer, and she was the impetus behind making sure I could take dance classes at Children's Dance Foundation when I couldn't afford them. I've taken from and danced with many of the choreographers from Sanspointe and they're all unique amazing individuals.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Santa Hunt is on!

The eSMArts Santa Scavenger hunt is on!
Check out for details on the prizes and for instructions on how to enter.
Here's a picture of the piece we donated:

and a slideshow of all the pieces donated:

Thanks for stopping by and happy hunting!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

sSMArts Secret Santa Giveaway

the eSMArts team is sharing the love with a handmade bundle
to warm your holidays and ArtfulUnity is participating! Check back here shortly to see details on the piece we donated and look below for details on how to enter.

Enter our Hidden Santa Treasure Hunt to WIN a Christmas Gift Bundle of
unique handmade creations.

The complete prize package, item photos and detailed descriptions will
be announced on the eSMArts blog. Our contest begins November 14th so check
back there.

Sponsor Shop banners will be displayed at the top of the eSMArts blog (both
left and right sidebar).

Simply click the banners to visit each of our Sponsor Shops.

How to Play:

- Check the eSMArts blog for contest details and a list of participating
eSMArts Sponsor Shops.
- Visit each participating shop to find images of our santa.
- Make note of the url where you find our santa pictured!
- HINT: santa images are not embedded yet. They won't be online until
the contest start date of November 14, 2009.
- Here's how to complete each entry: Find 3 Santa images that you
haven't previously submitted. Email the urls along with your name &
address to esmartspromos [at] to be entered. Find
new/unsubmitted Santa image urls and enter as many times as you like!
~Entries will be validated to ensure that contestants are submitting
fresh Santa spottings. Remember that 3 new Santa image urls equals ONE
additional contest entry.
- Contest runs November 14-28, 2009 (close is November 28/09 at
midnight eastern).
- Drawing takes place November 29th
- Winner will be announced here November 30th
- Prize package ships December 1st, 2009.
check back for hunting hints and tips!
and Happy Hunting :)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Artful Halloween

Hillary Loves halloween and costumes and wanted to share with you some of the beautifully well crafted costume pieces we found on etsy and artfire. Forget glued together felt and cardboard, these are high class, well made works of wearable art.

forbidden boudior's "The madame Inocencia" veil epitomizes the idea of "dark beauty" and would be a great edition to any gothic style costume.

I'm just going to let Tom Banwell's "butterfly mask" speak for itself.

This "Starry Night" fairy gown made byDeconstructress is a beautiful, and hand-painted handmade ball gown complete with matching handpainted wings.

Callidora's "Zuul Dress" is a great replica of a dress featured in an even greater movie!

"High Preistess" Necklace by S and T creations would be a great addition to gypsy, belly dancer and hippy costumes, to name a few.

Thyme2Dream's "Elven Wedding Headdress" is simply stunning.

The "Corsested Pirated Coat" by Damsel in the dress is unique, well constructed and cute too!

This "Magic Wand" by Nettlz Would go great with the fairy dress we listed, or make a beautiful addition to any fairy, pixie or sorceress costume.

Sparks shows us with "Columbine Mask" that masks are not just for kids and can be a fabulous addition to any costume or wardrobe.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Esmarts September Challenge and "From sketch to Art" part 1.5

Hillary made a beautiful necklace that took a lot of ingenuity an learning new skills for the Esmarts September challenge of "flower". You can vote for it here on the Esmarts team blog.

Here's a close-up look:

Hillary Created a wire flower using pink seed beads of different sizes, wrapped a pearl around the middle and then dangled a pretty pink czech glass leaf off the end. This is a prototype piece made from copper wire and steel chain.

This flower is actually a part of the "From Sketch to Art" Challenge Hillary Gave herself earlier this year. Our next post will include more details on "From sketch to Art" and the process hillary went through to get this far. The final piece has yet to be made, but this was a huge step in the right direction.

P.S.: Don't forget to vote!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Interview with Terri Collins of Callidora's

We are happy to present another interview with another talented artist, Terri Collins of Callidora's.

1. Tell us a little bit a
bout who you are and what you do.
I'm Terri Collins and I own Callidora's. I'm a homeschooling mom of 4, although my oldest is in college now. I started Callidora's 2 years ago when prompted by friends to sell my creations. I thought it was silly, I mean who would buy my stuff? But I've been really surprised and overwhelmed with how my business has grown over the last two years! Callidora's first started out as aprons and handbags - I felt safe making 'one size fits all' kinds of things. During that first year, I began offering simple skirts as well and bid on a lot of custom projects through Etsy. After that, I gained enough confidence in sewing without having the person in front of me, I was able to offer more in the realm of clothing. This past year, the economy has really forced me to focus my efforts since sales slowed down quite a bit.

2. How and when did you learn to sew?
I was 13 when I took my first sewing class at a Bernina store. My mother insisted! She's a great seamstress as well, and I always wanted her make things for me. But she was a single mother with 2 children and 2 jobs - not much time for sewing and certainly not for all my dreamed "necessities"! During that class, I was taught how to make a top and skirt for myself. Bernina also used a make your own pattern approach and I was delighted with my first projects!

3. Are there other arts or crafts that you enjoy?
I learned how to crochet at 5 and did that on and off over the years, but taught myself to knit 5 years ago. I much prefer the knitting to crochet. As a teenager, I did a lot of sketching with charcoal and took photography in high school. 8 years ago, I taught myself tole painting and did lots of home decor projects, but hubby got sick of all the little paints. Just before starting Callidora's, I tried my hand at jewelry making. I loved doing that, but the market seems so difficult to make yourself stand out. I didn't have my own style, just making pretty things. I'm now realizing as I answer this question that I have really been surrounded by art my whole! I wonder what ever made work in the corporate world for 15 years?! Must have been those darn bills!

4. What is it about sewing and fabric arts that caused you to choose it as your primary focus?
I sew women's clothing because don't feel good in the clothes they buy from the store. Every woman I know has some complaint about manufactured clothing. "I have a long torso - they think everyone's short!" "I have short legs - they think everyone should be 5'7"!" "It fits my hips but not my waist." And on and on. Whenever I've made my own clothes, I get a lot of compliments and I don't have those issues. I decided to offer other women the opportunity to FEEL and look great.

5. What is your favorite project that you have worked on before?
That's a difficult question! I put my heart and soul into every custom order I make. Oh gosh, I can't chose one or even 6! That's like saying out loud which kid is your favorite. The others would be heartbroken to hear such a thing. I love them all :)

6. You have some dresses on your blog and in your shops that are replicas of dresses in movies and on TV. How did you get started doing that and what all have you done in that area?
That started as answering a request on Etsy for the Ghostbusters Zuul dress costume. It looked like something not too complicated and there weren't many bids. I won the job and then I sort of panicked! The customer of course wanted as close to movie accuracy as possible. So I rented the movie and paused the film and watched the Zuul possession in slow motion 5 times - just to see how the dress moved so I could determine design and fabric used. Once that project was done, other requests came in for the same costume. It seemed that I had done something people wanted but didn't know how to get.
After that, I got requests for skirts done by designers selling for hundreds. I did what I call the "Pushing Daisies" dress. It was from the show "Pushing Daisies". My customer loved the design of the dress and chose and fabric and we were off! I did a request for a designer houndstooth coat - again hundreds of dollars for the designer one. A lot of ordinary women want to look beautiful and have nice things, but either can't afford designer labels or don't have the body those clothes are manufactured for. I am thrilled to create a replica for someone within her budget to fit her body and have revel in how it feels when she receives it!
I'm currently working on adding a "Penelope"movie inspired coat to my replica repertoire. It's not an exact copy because the customer made some design changes, but the flavor is still there.

7. Are there other projects that you would like to work on but haven't had the chance?
A wedding gown. I did one in the past for a customer, but I want to create 2 or 3 to have photographed and offer those designs for sale.

8. What advice do you have for people looking to get into sewing and fabric arts?
I can only speak for those who want to do clothing because quilting and toys and home decor are another matter altogether. My advice is to have a serger as well as sewing machine; take the time to press - pressing is sooooo important and is one step often shortened or eliminated all together; and handsew those important delicate areas - the hem, the zipper. A machine cannot take the place of handstitching for clothing of excellent quality. Most couture houses do the entire garment by hand - my customers deserve the same love and so do yours.

9. What do you think it is most important for customers and other people to know about what you do?
There is a segment of the buying public that feels that they should be able to get the same item cheaper because it's handmade. "Handmade" seems to mean that an unskilled person or kid made that. I want people to be aware that this does take skill and is an artisan craft. Being paid for materials AND time is only fair. I've seen many requests for a dress for $15 and I want to cry for the person who accepts that job - many times that's what the fabric costs or a little less. I would like dressmaking to be viewed as the art and work that it is and not some home ec project.

10. What is your ideal world as it relates to your art and how do you (or did you) try to change things to bring that world into being?
In my ideal world, more people will be aware of the importance of preserving these skills. I try to buy hand crafted for anything I need and suggest those artisans to others - whether its make-up, soap, wall art, gifts for relatives, whatever. I'm not against technology, but I don't believe it should take away our rich heritage as people of many cultures. Artisans care about their work and truly desire happy customers. You won't be put on hold for 20 minutes in a call center halfway around the world just trying to get a problem fixed.

11. Finally, where can we buy your items and hear about your projects?
My website,, has my photo gallery of custom work as well as some of my items for sale. I have two art community shops where most of my business comes from, and http://callidoras.artfire com. You can find out about my upcoming projects, what I'm currently working, and any specials I've got going either at my blog, or on my Facebook Fan Page,

A big thank you goes out to Terry for sharing her time and thoughts with us.
If you would like to be interviewed as well, post it in comments, find Hillary on twitter or convo us on etsy.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Esmarts August Challenge

The ESMARTS August challenge voting is open! Please vote for our piece "promise" on the EMSARTS Blog.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Team fun!

First, We wanted to announce the ESMARTS team challenge for August. The theme this month is nature/natural and Hillary plans on creating a piece to enter. We look forward to see what she creates and to seeing everyone else's amazing creations

Second, We wanted to share with you a spotlight that Shades of Victoria created for us.

Last we wanted to share our Team flickr feed as well as Hillary's personal flickr feed.

That's all for now, but there are tons of interviews on the way as well as project updates! Have a great day!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Interview With Melanie of Melanie Lynn Design

We have wanted to feature interviews with other artists and crafters for a while now. Hillary was lucky enough to be able to swap interviews with Melanie of Melanie Lynn Design.

1. First, give us a brief description of Who you are, what you do and where we can find you.
I am Melanie, founder and artist behind Melanie Lynn Design, I am a student at SUNY New Paltz set to graduate this December with a BFA in Metals. I have been working with metal since I was 16, however I have been making jewelry since I was around 14. I currently work with newer technologies such as laser cutting and 3D CAD to produce works that are easily reproducible yet still maintain a high art feel in terms of their design. I can be found at...., and my work is available through either contacting myself directly or via etsy at . I am also an avid blogger who's writing can be found at and, a blog where I showcase others talent and new things I feel the jewelry community might find interesting!

2. What are some of the different forms of creating that you enjoy doing?
As of lately all of my creative energy has been going into creating files for laser cutting in Rhinoceros 4, an amazing design program. I also do a lot of beading and in general I just really enjoy creating, my mom and I also frequently find uses for restoring old furniture and things of that nature.

3. How did you get started in arts?
My parents have always been incredibly supportive of my creativity and my mother always did art projects with me when I was a child and enrolled me in a lot of local art classes, so I guess you could say it started right away and never stopped building. When I was 16 I took a class at Snow Farm, The New England Craft Program, and enrolled in metalsmithing and flameworking, both of which opened up my eyes to a lot of new things and cemented my desire to major in art.

4. What are you studying in college? Metalsmithing

5. How has your art changed since you started your studies?
Well, to be entirely honest I know it's changed but I don't necessarily know if it was the art, or the way I go about making it. I find academics to be somewhat crippling to the creative process sometimes as it forces students to twist their ideas to meet the expectations set forth by project parameters. This past semester I had no real studio classes [bliss.] and produced more work that received praise from my teachers and others than I had in three previous years. I do not consider that a coincidence at all.

6. What creator (artist, crafter, musician, writer, architect, etc.) do you admire the most and why?
Well, I think it is important to not just admire the person's work but also who they are as a person. A lot of the really great artists and crafters I have met in my life were terribly unpleasant people. On the other hand, the studio tech [and studio dad] of our metals department John Cogswell is someone I really look up to. His work has made him very well known in the fields of silversmithing and fine jewelry and he is one of the most kind, knowledgeable people I have ever met in my life. His advice has gotten me through a lot of things and he literally built himself up from nothing based on the skills he was able to exhibit.

7. In all forms of creation and art, I have noticed the theme of being or wanting to be in another world, and have talked about it on my blogs. So, tell me about your ideal world. What is it like?
Well, in your post you say you would like to live purely for art. To be entirely honest, I do not feel that way. I am pretty content with my life as it is, and once in a while, while you cannot put creativity on hold, I do need a break from creating things, lest they become forced and I start making for the sake of doing something rather than because I am excited for the outcome. In terms of the world as a whole, I would really like people to be less wasteful, start taking care of one another more, and being less judgmental. More support for artists and creativity in general would be great, it would be really nice to live in a world where the majority of parents didn't tell their children not to major in art. I was incredibly fortunate in always being supported in my creativity and I wish that others could be offered the same.

8. Do you have frustrations or problems due to the differences between the real world and your ideal world?

9. How do you overcome those frustrations and what do you do to bring that world into reality or bring yourself to that world?

10.How has this journey changed you?
I'm going to answer all of these together. I tend to focus on what I am capable of doing to change things. I think sometimes worrying about the smaller picture is the best way to take care of the larger picture, and I always try to help others with their creative quests whenever possible. This is why I recently started my showcase blog to show as many people as possible the work of others, and help artists network with one another.

11. What advice would you give to others starting their journey in creativity and finding their world?
Be yourself and have faith in what you are doing. In the creative arts world a LOT of people are going to try to stomp you down, just be confident in your own style and it will take you as far as you let it. =)

A big thank you goes out to Melanie for sharing her time and thoughts with us.
If you would like to be interviewed as well, post it in comments, find Hillary on twitter or convo us on etsy.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

announcements, project progress and charity!

Hillary promises she has been working on the project she gave herself, but says she doesn't have pictures yet. In the meantime, here are some other things we wanted you to knoe about:

- Mario Marathon is doing a fundraiser for Child's Play, a charity founded by gamers to provide children's hospitals with much needed toys, video game systems and other forms of entertainment for the children in said hospitals and their families. We contribute 20% of our sales to this Charity every year from about Thanksgiving to about Christmas. Since our founder is a die hard video and board gamer, she wanted to make sure you knew about this fundraiser for one of her favorite charities.

- There may be a cross business personal jewelry design challenge in the works, but Hillary is waiting to post on it until she has made more progess on her original self-challenge.

- Hillary reached 200 followers on twitter and wants to celebrate! We are offering free shipping and free gifts to anyone who types "TW200" in the customer comments section of their order. Both Happy Hippy and Artful Unity are participating in this sale. This sale was originally slated to end tonight at midnight but it has been extended to Wednesday at midnight.

- Lastly, we have been working hard at trying to produce weekly content for our blog. We don't simply want this to be a collections of link lists, a bunch of unrelated posts or a mirror of Hillary's other blogs. We aim to keep this blog filled with interesting content and well thought out posts. To this end, we have decided to decrease our official posting schedule to twice a month. We will try to keep to once every two weeks, but, depending on scheduling and time needed for articles we are working on, it may work out differently. Also, if we have enough content for more than 2 posts per month, we will certainly post it. We are sorry to have to announce this decrease, but we see no other way to maintain and improve the quality of our posts.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Graffiti and life changes

Hillary was inspired by this site displaying artistic graffiti and wanted to share her thoughts:

Graffiti is frowned upon, but it is the epitome of thinking outside the box, and some of these artists are more talented than artists in galleries. I get why we don't want people painting random walls with curses, but there's a difference between that and the true greatness achieved by some people like those at the link above.

Our society tries to place emphasis on order and conformity instead of artistry and individuality. I understand that society is set up this way so that total chaos doesn't reign, but more and more I hear the whispers of the people and feel the push of the underground toward life focused on individuality, toward creativity and thinking outside the box in everything... People want art, they want music, they want to "be strange".

There is a song by Bis called "how can we be strange?" that says "please send a message to all the people who find their pleasure in being normal. Please help them to see they can be different, although our lives make it hard to see it." It goes on to say "how can we be strange, when we've got work to do today?" I think more and more that people want to be "strange" and be able to do work. I think that it is more common that people want to live life outside the box--I don't think it's a few radicals anymore. I think most people prize creativity over other qualities while feeling like they have to place emphasis on things like data entry, profit margins, and abiding by rules for the sake of abiding by rules. I think there are a lot of people who admire graffiti artists, performance artists, and musicians who aren't mainstream, but think that they could never do it themselves.

The thing is, you can. We can. It is true that you may have to abide by laws and, no matter how much you try to get away from it, profit margins always end up being important because you have to pay rent, but who says that has to be your whole life. Furthermore, who says you can't strive to make your daily life a little more strange. Maybe you won't ever be a well renowned graffiti artist, but maybe you can propose an unusual idea to your boss, or come up with a new and interesting way of getting your mundane 9-5 duties done, or spend your time outside of work pouring your heart and soul into a new idea. If more of us did this, and if more of us pushed just a little toward a more individual and creative society, I think we could have some beautiful things happen without total chaos.

The first and foremost example that comes to mind is Amanda Palmer. (Please keep in mind that her blog posts are not for the easily offended.) She was lucky enough to be in a theater department in high school that encouraged her to do whatever her soul felt was right. She does that now and amazing things happen. Art is created spontaneously by herself, those she performs with, and her fans at shows, in the street, on the beach, and anywhere else she ventures. She made little to no money through the traditional "get a record label, get them to publish a CD, go on tour for them", route, but managed to pay her rent and turn a profit using social media networks and other less traditional routes. I see this more and more through musicians, artists, and even "common people" in standard 9-5 jobs. I think people are ready for a big change and I think it will be absolutely beautiful. I can't wait to see the amazing things that will come from it.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

My amazing ADHD

Hillary has been diagnosed with ADHD since she was 19. Lately it has been taking a prominent role in her life, and it brought about some thoughts she wanted to share:

My brain works very differently from most other people's and it's hard to even explain sometimes. This makes life very difficult in the corporate world, because ADHD people are not good at things like error free data enter and other repetitive, mundane tasks. What they are good at is coming up with ideas that other people wouldn't and making connections that other people would miss. These are very valuable skills to have as a worker, as an artist and as a person. My ADHD is a big part of why I started making jewelry, and then why I wanted to do more and work differently, which eventually led to being here. It is why I have to do jewelry and dance and art, and why I love them so much. Those with ADHD often have a creative nature, and are often quirky. Quirky creativity describes me and what I do to a tee. I love creating new jewelry and new sketches, and I love coming up with new ideas.

ADHD opens new doors, but it erases some altogether. I will never be able to consistently remember to turn off the lights, enter numbers correctly every time, catch all grammar errors and typos when proofreading, find my keys when I need them, not leave piles of papers and stuff in the house, or intrinsicly understand what organized is. It doesn't matter how hard I try, certain things will never happen the way everyone would like.

That said, I wouldn't give up my ADHD. Like I said, it's part of what drives me to create and part of what makes my creations so different. Without the drive to create and the drive to try new things, there might not be an Artful Unity. Most people with one jewelry business, wouldn't necessarily move on to 2. I, however, had to try it or it would drive me crazy for the rest of my days.

I love myself, who I am, what I create, and my life. None of these things would be the same without my ADHD. I would be a different person, which is the last thing I want. Some days, I wish that I didn't have certain problems that come with the ADHD and some days I wish I could be a little more like everyone else so that we could understand each other. However, if it went away, I don't know that I would ever come up with the unique ideas I do
or be driven enough to pick up a pen and pencil to sketch them knowing that I am most definitely not a sketch artist. But, I am who I am: the designs jump into my head and beg to be made. I don't have the right materials to make them, so they beg me not to forget them; so, I sketch.

Thanks to my ADHD, there's one more design that won't be forgotten, and one more idea that has a chance to become a beautiful piece of jewelry. How crazy and how awesome is that?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Artful Unity Joins Esmarts Team!

We are proud to announce that we have joined the Etsy Social Marketing Arts Team, a "global collaborative of mixed media artisans intent on further understanding and applying eCommerce advertising and promotion techniques." It took us a lot of searching to find the right group of people to join up with, and we're glad we finally found this group of talented artists and artisans who like to use technology as much as we do!

Hillary looked through the shops of her team members and wanted to give you a quick taste of some of the amazing things they have created.

Hillary loves the seemingly infinite nature of this swirl ring by Jewelry By Jer.

This painting by Coastal Artist is a beautiful representation of one of Hillary's favorite flowers.

Kicking Bear makes some great Native American items including "Where the Wolf Ran", a handmade gourd bowl carefully painted with an etherial scene of a wolf and other parts of nature.

Magpie Dreams proves that We are in good company as artisan jewelers with her unusual and gorgeous "Waves of Blue" earrings.

There are many other talented people in this group and many other great items that we didn't list here. To find our items, you can follow the previous link or type "esmarts" into the Etsy search.

In addition to maintaining thier own shops, many of these artists have come together to help others. eSMArts has a team shop dedicated to helping others. Every item in the shop was donated by a team member for the purpose of helping someone else. Right now shop sales are going to help a fellow team member who's computer died and who's primary source of income is etsy.

We are very glad to be a member of this team and look forward to contributing to team blogs and other endeavors.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

from sketch to art - part 1

Hillary created a sketch this past week of a necklace that she would like to make. Over the next few months she will work on a prototype of this piece and then a finished version. We will be posting her progress periodically. Here's the sketch she made:

We'll post her progress as soon as we know anything.
Have a great week!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

High Standards

This is sad. I have writer's block. It is Sunday, past the time for Artful Unity to post, and everything I come up with seems boring and mundane. In fact, it's probably fine, but I'm an artist, and I won't publish just anything, I won't give just any gift, and I won't sell just any piece of jewelry. Sorry for the delay, but I don't have a blog post that I'm proud of yet. If I come up with an extra one this week, I'll be sure to post it.

Good night, sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite!


Sunday, May 31, 2009

New Artistry and Sketches

Hillary has drawn some sketches for ideas that she has for custom work. She created this jewelry business because she wanted to work on her artistry and work in new ways. She felt that drawing sketches would improve her artistry, help her see things in new ways and give customers a chance to customize an idea to their liking before it's actually made.

This first piece would be made from a square or cube gemstone bead wrapped with wire covered with czech glass beads in a complementary color. Hillary has some great corner drilled dark brown jasper cubes that would make a very elegant but funky necklace if combined with gold, copper or shiny brown beads. However a flat square/diamond in a more pastel color with pastel czech glass would work well for making jewelry with a softer but still elegant and unique look.

The second piece of jewelry is an assymetrical pair of earrings. They are made from chain and various types of high quality beads all in a similar color family. Hillary's original vision was for these to be made of high quality glass including some facted czech glass beads, but this would also work well with gemstones or pearls.

The original idea came from a custom request listed on etsy for bridesmade earrings for a dress that had a wide strap on one side, and no strap on the other. Hillary thought that having a two different earrings might be an interesting way to draw attention to the asymmetry of the dress while still balancing the overall look. This design would work well with any outfit, but Hillary thinks it would look most stunning with strapless or asymmetrical dresses.

The next piece is a necklace made primarily of silver. Silver chain and a silver triangular spacer are accented by small tear-drop shaped beads, and a larger, wire wrapped teardrop bead.

Hillary's original vision involved a Bali silver spacer but other hand-made silver, including Thai, would work well. Hillary envisions vintage glass for the teardrops, but told us that bright gemstones would be beautiful of their own right and would make the piece even bolder.

The final sketch is a set that would involve a lot of intricate wire work. It features wire wrapped teardrop beads with smaller beads worked into some of the wire wrapping. For the necklace, a wire heart covered in small beads surrounds the wire wrapped bead. The bracelet is made from wire wrapped beads with chain in between. The earrings are dangles made with wire wrapped teardrop beads.

For the large beads, Hillary envisions vintage glass or pearls, but gemstones would work as well. For the small beads, Hillary said that she likes the idea of Czech glass and crystals about equally.

Hillary stated that many color combinations would work well on this, but her three favorite ideas are iridescent white on clear or white, shiny royal blue on royal blue, or different shades of green. Contrasting colors would work on this set as well, but the combination would have to be carefully chosen as the design of the set is already very decorative and attention getting.

Thank you for viewing our sketches and we hope you enjoyed them. We will be listing some of these in the next few days on our Etsy site as custom items available for purchase. If you would like us to make one of these for you or make a sketch for you based on your own designs, please let us know. Also, if you have ideas or comments for us or for Hillary, by all means feel free to comment here or convo us on Etsy. Have a beautiful week.

Monday, May 25, 2009

our total for arty party

We wanted to let you know that we found out from Birmingham AIDS Outreach that our piece raised $65 for the agency and that the piece from our sister store raised $75.

We also listed a new piece on our etsy shop this past week.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Weekend in review

Hillary had a very busy and fun weekend. On Friday she attended the artist's party for Arty Party and got to talk with other artists about their motivation, the art, the mediums they use, etc. She also got to see acquaintances she has made through working at BAO, drink great wine, and eat great food. Thanks goes out to Dr. and Ms. ZarZaur and the staff at ArtEyes for putting on such a great reception--this year was the 19th year in a row that they have done this for the artists!

On Sunday, Hillary attended and worked Arty Party at B&A Warehouse. Even though she was on the clock, she got a chance to look at the artwork, do some bidding, and eat fabulous food (including blueberry cheese, quesadillas, and french fried sweet potatoes).

She wanted to share a few pictures with you:

"Limitless", the featured artwork by Dan Bynum

Lovely table setting

Red Champagne shooter

The cross painting in this picture was donated to the silent auction by Hillary's friend, Dawn.

The spread

Artful Unity's contribution to the silent auction.

We are not sure how much money our donation raised for BAO, but Hillary was told by a volunteer that it was up to $60 about 20 minutes before the end of the auction.

Hillary had a really great time and we plan on contributing again next year. We hope you will join us.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Self Expression through fashion part 2.

A few weeks ago we posted about how we love to use our couture to express who we really are. We shared some of our favorite custom-made dresses from etsy. Today we are going to share some unique handmade accessories for formal events.

Self Expression through Fashion Part 2:

-Brim and Trim has some beautiful and unique accessories, including these dainty rose shoe clips.

-Samantha Sultana makes elegant and sassy lingerie and accessories. These dusty pink fishnet gloves are delicate and sophisticated enough to be worn with an evening gown or wedding dress, but sexy enough to make an appearance on your wedding night!

-Percy Handmade makes classic clutches with a twist like this teal Zara textured clutch.

-LadybugSF has all kinds of cute accessories for all occasions, but we really like this ribbon rose boutonniere

-Tied and Feathered makes beautiful fascinators, combs and veils. We think that the Quebec orchid hair comb is amazingly bold and delicate at the same time. Want a little more vintage or upscale look? Try adding their bandeau veil.

We hope we gave you some ideas of ways to express the inner you with your outer decor. We'd love to hear your ideas too, so feel free to comment. Have a great week!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Family love for our designs

A few weeks ago, Hillary posted about a family necklace that she re-purposed. Hillary's aunt had given her a broken crystal neckalce and suggested she re-string it for another family member. Here is that aunt's response to the pictures of the creation made from those crystals:


I am in awe. Your great grandmother would be so pleased. You vision left Grandma Nina's crystals in a creation that is timeless and that she herself would have worn. Soooo pleased with your work.

Our family certainly is lucky to have such talent.

Love and Miss you
Aunt G

She also told Hillary that it would be fine to use the leftover crystal for a necklace for herself. Be on the lookout for a future post on that piece as Hillary will post it here as soon as she is done with it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Our favorites List

If you read our sister blog, you may already know that Hillary is going to be own of town starting Thursday to participate in the Panoply Choreography Competition. We wanted to post something interesting but not labor intensive, so we're going to share a few people on our Etsy favorites list with you.

Star of the East- Unique jewelry featuring real Turkish sea urchins.

KRT Woodworking - Beautiful woodworking including some of the most skillfully made jewelry boxes we've ever seen.

Samantha Sultana - Great handmade accessories and nighties with a vintage flair.

Magnolija Dress - Beautifully made dresses and fabric accessories.

Doloris Petunia - Fabulous statement necklaces that have a great balance of elegance and funk.

Eden's Wake - Gorgeous handmade bags and pouches.

Have a great weekend and w'll see you back here next week!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Self Expression through fashion part 1.

We are all about elegant individuality and showing off who you are, be that a traditional Fashionista, or someone who's a little offbeat. Later spring and early summer bring on proms, graduations, and lots of weddings. We thought we'd put out some ideas on how you can make your couture speak for you, and we'd love to hear your ideas too, so feel free to leave comments!

Part 1. Handmade Dresses:

Be it made by a professional seamstress, your neighbor, your aunt, or even you, a handmade dress gives you a chance to express yourself and look your best in a very unique way. You can pick the color, the fabric, and, most importantly, the measurements. A dress that fits your measurements can accentuate your body much better than one made to an average, like most commercially available clothing. In fact, we recommend if you do decide to go with a commercially available or otherwise pre-made dress, that you get it altered to fit your measurements.

Here are a few of our picks from etsy:
-GaiaConceptions has a great custom made evening style dress. What makes it even more unique is that it is made from organic cotton fabric made in the seamstress' area.
-Ruby Pearl's shop features this surprising gown that expresses a style reminiscent of classic movies like Gone with the Wind
-This silk dress from Bon Bon features classic lines paired with careful craftsmanship
-My Black Dress features a number of classy and sassy little black dresses including this adorable asymmetrical gown.
-This emerald green and leopard print formal from Miss Brache's is sure to get you noticed
-If you think that was offbeat, try this incredible necktie ballgown from Glamarita.

And now, we'll finish off the list with some awe inspiring wedding gowns:

-This simple but elegant dress from Natural Bridals is eco-friendly as well as gorgeous.
-You would never know that this was made by 5 ladies who run a family business in Tennesee. The pictures show that Gioavanni's gowns rival many designer gowns that I've seen in both style and attention to detail.
-Threadhead Creations provides with another unique eco-friendly gown
-Last but not least, AbstractPretty has several great wedding dresses including this frilly but modern sheath gown.

That's it for this installment. Keep an eye out for the "accessories" sequel in a later blog post. Have a great week!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Restoration/re-purposing an old family necklace

Hillary wanted to share with you the process that she went through to revive a broken crystal necklace:

A while back, my aunt sent me a bag full of family jewelry with little notes about whose it was and what she thought I should do with it. In the bag was this:

Her suggestion was that I re-string it and give it to my mom.

I contemplated simply re-stringing it or at least creating something somewhat true to the era. Ultimately I decided to go with more modern styling because my mother is always highly complimentary of the pieces she gets from me, which are generally more contemporary, and she always says how much she likes my wire-wrapping work. I realize that in many families this would be considered blasphemy, but in mine, the focus has always been on doing things your own way, and everyone seems to enjoy my style. Not to mention, if anyone in my family would prefer something different than what I've created, I can always undo it and re-string it--that's the great thing about jewelry.

There aren't any photos of the work in progress because I take my own photos and I generally don't stop once I start on a piece of jewelry--I sit down with it and don't get up until it's finished. However, I will explain a little bit about what I did:

I strung the crystals on 49 strand jewelry wire and then added a sterling drop chain with a wire wrapped pendant on it.

The pendant was carefully hand-wrapped by me in sterling silver. It is one of the larger crystals from the original necklace. In fact, all beads used in this piece were from the original necklace.

As you can see below, I made a toggle clasp assembly with the crystals rather than using a regular clasp. I originally did this because I didn't have any sterling silver clasps, but in the end, I think it made the necklace look much more elegant.

I made a pair of matching earrings by attaching crystals to surgical steel ear wires. I decided to keep the earrings simple since the necklace itself was large and elaborate.

This was a fun project that kept me up much later than I intended to let it. When I give it to my mother, I will try to get some pictures of her with it and let you know what she thought. Also, when I was done, there was one medium sized crystal left, so it might become a necklace for me if my family is agreeable. If I make that, I'll post it here, too.

I hope you enjoyed seeing this project as much as I enjoyed making it.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Free-write on art

This is a free-write Hillary did on the subject of art and creativity and she wanted to share it:

Author's note:
Before someone else says it: purists will note that this does not completely stick to the guidelines for a free-write because there was an obvious audience in mind, and, at some point, a direction, and because it was edited, but nonetheless it started as a bunch of random thoughts about art and creativity and making jewelry which eventually flowed together.

I love those who make the art they want to even if it means no money and no pile of screaming fans. I think life is all about doing things the way you feel is right for you and hoping that someone gets you. This extends to art. When an artist creates something, all they are saying is "here is a piece of me, please try to understand."

Art, be it music, dance, jewelry or performance, is really a bunch of different little pieces of the artist, and what we want is someone to say they appreciate us. I have taken different dances to a choreography competition on 2 separate occasions, and while I was disappointed that I didn't make it in to the finals, I was content when and fulfilled when I heard the words "I really get what you were saying because..." Really I think that's all most people want out of life is to be understood.

I think artists are both lucky and tortured in this respect. We're lucky because we have an outlet to express ourselves that not everyone does. We have a way to very uniquely tell the world who we are. But we're tortured in that that way is very public and leaves us open to criticism, attacks or anything. I also say artists are tortured because artistry is the primary way we express ourselves--the way we have to express what's really going on--and a lot of people won't get it or don't like it.

The diversity of people's modalities of communication and expression is wonderful and it is what makes the human experience unique. But for many artists, we can't help but feel a twinge of rejection if someone doesn't "get" our art. We're asking to be looked at, to be understood, to be something worth wondering about, and some people just plain don't want to be in that artistic world.

I think that many artists have a hard time living in this world and within it's confines. Jimi Hendrix was a genius and yet his music sometimes comes across as so tortured and frustrated. Based on some of the quotes in his liner notes, it seemed like he wanted his whole life to be music... not that he wanted an existence in this world that consisted of him doing nothing but write, play and listen to songs, but that he wanted a universe unto himself that consisted of music. He wanted to live in music. He wanted to be with music constantly.

Some artists really have this same frustration. I know I do sometimes. Some days what I really would like to do, is go in a cave and create whatever it is in my heart and soul to create, be it jewelry, a dance, a story, or even music, and then come out whenever I'm done, show the world and hopefully have at least one person go, "I see where you were coming from". Then I would go back into the cave and make whatever brilliant idea came next.

Don't get me wrong, I love my husband, my house, my day job, my friends, and everything I do. But sometimes I want to exist purely for art. I think it would be amazing if we could all do that sometimes... all of us who wanted to anyways. Because of this desire, this need, this drive to be artistic, sometimes it is hard for us to connect with other people because we feel like no one understands. So we make art to show you, in the hopes that you will at least be able to say "I see where you're coming from." But for me, artistry doesn't just go one way.

Even though some days I would like to go into that lovely cave, I honestly enjoy connecting with people. I especially like picking out gifts or making jewelry for people as my little way of trying to understand them and then showing them that I understand. I will make jewelry for any situation just to have a chance to create, but I really like the chances I get that involve someone who's very forthcoming and very collaborative. If someone is requesting a gift for someone they know or care about, if the requester is someone I feel comfortable enough with, I'll ask for a picture of the person they're requesting the jewelry for, just so that I can better understand the nature of the person--pictures have a lot of clues in them that can help you understand someone's personality and preferences. I also like to ask about them, their hobbies, etc. I like try to match my jewelry to the person and situation rather than just making something random. So when I say "I would love to make your bridesmaids' necklaces for you." What I'm really saying is , "I want to use what I have to create something perfect for you, not just the pink silk dresses, or the stargazer lilies, or the blonde curly hair that you have, but you, your essence." A wedding, prom or any other formal situation is still all about self expression, and about showing the world a new side of you. I want to use my skills to help you do that. This is why I love art, because I can say anything with the right amount of patience and skill.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Materials and future pieces

Materials we like and why:

We thought we would share with you some of the materials we like to work with. All of the beads pictured are materials we currently have on hand and would like to use in pieces in the near future.

Semi Precious Gems - We like them because they have natural beauty and come in a lot of great colors. They're also generally durable (depending on the specific stone), and if well cut and polished, don't break easily. Pictured here are rose quartz (clear pink), sodalite (dark blue), tigerseye (golden brown), and lapidolite (purple), among others. Semi-precious gems are a good combination of quality and price as they are generally very affordable.

Freshwater Pearls - We like them because they have a shiny, soft and almost silky appearance. They look elegant without being boring or stuffy. Pictured here are white rice pearls (center) and mauve potato pearls (center). Pearls can range in price quite a bit depending on size and quality. The pearls pictured here are very affordable.

Swarovski Crystal - We like it because it's sparkly and fiery but still has a very clean appearance. Lines and shapes of crystal beads appear very well defined because of the way they refract light. In addition, Swarosvki is an instantly recognizable name, and they have earned their reputation by producing high quality lead crystals for over a century. Crystal is more expensive than some other materials, but it has a similar sparkle and apperance to high quality, well cut precious gems, and is much lower in price.

Czech Fire Glass - We like it because it's sparkly, soft in appearance, and more affordable than crystal. It also contains no lead.

Above is a comparison of Czech glass and crystal. The top, blue bead, is Czech glass and the bottom, pink bead, is crystal. Both of these beads have an aurora borealis finish.
As you can see, they both have their own unique qualities and, as a result, have unique applications. In some instances, they can be substituted for each other depending on preference and budget, but certain situations call for one over the other.
If you're looking for maximum flash and refraction, crystal is the way to go, but if you are trying for a nice sparkle without sharpness, then Czech glass is great for that. Czech glass goes better with stones with a more "natural" look such as freshwater pearls or semi-precious gems. Crystal, on the other hand, goes well with other beads with clean lines like saltwater cultured pearls and Swarovski crystal pearls.

Examples of Work with These Materials:
All of the materials we talked about today make exceptionally nice prom, anniversary wedding and family jewelry.

Above is a necklace set Hillary made for a bride. The two stones are the bride and groom's birthstone.

Above are a pair of earrings and a matching pendant made from Czech glass. They were Christmas presents on two separate years from a husband to his wife. The colors chosen represent the birthstones of the mother, father and child.

Materials we would like to obtain in the future:
High quality precious gems. They are beautiful, very sparkly, and highly desired by many. They provide clean lines, and unique, natural colors.

South Sea and Cultured Saltwater Pearls. They have the same shiny, silky appearance as the freshwater pearls above, but the lines are cleaner, they perfectly round, and they are uniform in appearance.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Our Donation to Arty Party

We are working on a post about materials and plans for some pieces for the future, and hopefully it will be ready for next week. In the meantime, we thought we would go ahead and share with you the piece we will be donating to Arty Party, a fundraiser for Birmingham AIDS Outreach, a local AIDS service organization.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Call for Art for a good cause

Every May, Birmingham AIDS Outreach hosts "Arty Party", a silent and live art auction benefiting local the agency, who provides much needed services to HIV positive individuals and the public. The services BAO provides include case management, food pantry, clothing closet, medication assistance, and medical item assistance to those individuals who are HIV positive. BAO also provides HIV prevention, education and testing services in the community, schools and prisons. The money raised from "Arty Party" helps them continue providing these services.

Birmingham AIDS outreach is currently accepting donations of art of all types for the auction. Art can be dropped off at the Birmingham AIDS Outreach offices or you can contact the Events Coordinator to arrange a pickup. The only restriction on the art is that it needs to be able to fit in a small u-haul truck, or in a small car if it is going to be picked up.

To donate art or arrange a pick up, contact Jamie at 322-4197 or Birmingham AIDS Outreach is a non-profit organization. All donations are tax deductible, and the agency is able to provide you with the necessary form for your taxes.

Artful Unity, and our sister site, Happy Hippy Jewelry, will each be donating a piece to the auction. We will reveal more details about the piece in a later blog post. We hope you will join us in supporting this hardworking worthwhile agency.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


We are going to post some examples of our work to give you an idea of our style and quality. We also thought it would be nice to have something to look back upon in the future and see how our style and artistry have grown. We love custom work, so if these pieces give you any ideas, please contact us through our etsy shop and we will be glad to help you create a unique piece of jewelry to suit your desires.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Welcome and Philosophy

Welcome to Artful Elaborations, the blog for Artful Unity, A new jewelry venture founded in late 2008 by Hillary Wilson, the artist and proprietor of Happy Hippy Jewelry (also known to many as Hippybeads). Artful Unity was started because Hillary felt that she wanted to explore and grow more as an artist while still creating the more familiar, down to earth items of Hippybeads. Artful Unity's focus will be high quality artistic jewelry. "I want to make sophisticated items for those with a unique sense of style. When I say I want to create high quality items, I am by no means saying that I want to create stuffy, bland or commonplace jewelry. I want to create items that I would be proud to wear for a formal evening out or at a wedding." says Ms. Wilson. Plans for our product line include sterling silver wrapped pendants, wedding jewelry, unique earrings, and creations with gemstones and pearls.