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.