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Ostrich Feather-Leather Earrings

Hello everyone!  I know it’s been a long time (too long) since I have posted.  I’m not going to lie – it took me a few days after being at home for Christmas to get back into the swing of things around here.  I’ve also been really busy with work at Pinot’s Palette.  I spent the first part of the month creating five original paintings, which will be entered into the master library of the Pinot’s Palette franchise.  All of the other locations will be able to put my paintings on their calendars.  I intend for that to be another blog post, though.  I guess I just need to justify my absence first.  🙂

To the point!

When I got back from Las Vegas, I had a lot of “cowboy” shirts that I was probably never going to wear again, so I drove to Decatur to return them.  On my way home, I stopped by the NRS Saddle Shop to visit Billy and Lou, the coolest saddle makers you’ll ever meet.  I asked them if they had any old scraps with which I might use for jewelry making.  I walked out of that shop with a box full of leathers:  Ostrich, Caiman, Stingray, Calf and Elephant.  They were just scraps from saddle cuts.

I knew in my mind what I wanted to do with all of this, I just hadn’t sat down to actually do it – until yesterday.

They are made from three different shades of brown ostrich leather, all hand cut by me.  I wire wrapped through little holes I poked in the tops, then attached to a 7″ gold chain with a closure clasp.  The entire earring is about 12″ in length.  So if you like longer earrings, these are for you!

I hope you all have a good weekend!

Viva, Las Vegas!

We left early on Friday, Dec. 2 to head to Las Vegas to set up the NRS Store: Las Vegas at the MGM Grand.  We had about 24 hours to set up a 90,000 square foot space, and we did it – and it was awesome.  Having spent a better part of a year planning for this event, it was pretty amazing for all of us to see the line forming outside during the hour before our doors opened for the first time.  I missed all of the extreme craziness of getting everything ready the two to three weeks prior to leaving.  #blessing  🙂  I heard it was pretty intense.  The whole set up looked like an actual retail store.  Very impressive.

Taking a break from the set up – or from trying to avoid being run-down by fork lift operators.

The week was so insanely busy that we hardly had time to do anything.  I am pretty sure we only left the MGM complex all of two times.  The first night was cold and rainy.  I was always under the impression that the Vegas strip was, you know, a sidewalk.  That impression quickly changed.  They don’t really make it easy to get around that place on foot, with their series of lefts and rights, and ups and downs.

By the time we got done working we were all so tired and achy that we just wanted to eat and go to bed.  Thanks to David Isham, we did get the opportunity to go see “KA,” the Cirque Du Soleil show playing at the MGM.  That was such a cool experience.  The stage alone should win an award, with all the up and down and spinning.

A few of us went to ride the New York, New York roller coaster on our last night there.  I have no photo to show of that experience because my phone was basically taken from hands by the girl working the coaster.  Yeah.  I learned that night that the people that work there hate their job and/or possible existence.  They were all so unpleasant towards everything.  They would barely say hi to us as walked up to the line.  Bad mojo, man.  Bad. Mojo.  Anyway, I must have missed the sign/announcement that lets one know that cell phones are not permitted on the ride.  I reached to move it from my side pocket to my zip-chest pocket and – BUSTED!  I held up the ride for a good three minutes.  Sequoyah and I spent a minute trying to convince the teenager to just pretend that it wasn’t a phone, and she just kept repeating in a voice resembling death, “no cell phones or other personal items permitted on the coaster.”  Finally Sequoyah (because she was seated on the entrance side) took my phone back out to where our other coworker, Phyllis, was waiting.

I didn’t really go out too much while in Vegas because we had a call time of 7:30 each morning.  However, we did go to the VIP section of the Gold Buckle Zone a couple of times.  I mean, how can you say no to free drinks in Vegas?  Right?

(and to make this post relevant :: Kerrie -on left- is wearing her Handmade 77!!)

I had the opportunity to get to know the guy that was hired as my replacement.  I had been told that we were basically the same person, only he is a ginger.  The interns call him “Coco Jelly.”  By the middle of the week, they were calling the pair of us “Cocaine and Angel Dust.”  I don’t really know why. #whathappensinvegas… #thatisajoke

Our last day in Vegas started at 7:30 a.m., and when we shut down the store for the final time at 5 p.m., we changed from boots to shoes and started tearing everything down.  We got out of there just before 11 p.m., at which point we ate dinner.  Most of us flew out early the next day.  It took me a good two days to readjust to everything… time change, wearing chucks and my regular clothes.  Prior to leaving for Vegas I had been told that two days in Vegas is like two months.  No lie.  When I got back I felt like I had been gone a year.

I consider myself truly blessed to have such a strong relationship with my previous employer and coworkers.  It’s probably safe to say that not many people who quit their jobs would ever want to go back to work for them – even if it is only for a week.  We’re like a little family of misfits. Spending all of that time with them really made me miss working with them on a daily basis.  I doubt it will be the last time I work them.

Re-purposing

One of the most enjoyable parts about doing this job is getting the opportunity to re-purpose someone’s old jewelry.  I just really like the idea of someone giving me a special piece of jewelry from their family, or special event in their life, and allowing me to rework it into something that they can wear today.

My friend, Kelcey, recently brought me an old cracker tin that was left to her in her grandfather’s will.  This is the tin:

She said that she wanted me to sift through the contents and make a necklace for her to wear on our upcoming trip to Las Vegas.  Inside was a ton of old charms and, what I am guessing, prizes from Cracker Jack boxes.

I dumped everything out onto my counter and begin to sort through everything, creating little piles of similar themed toys and charms.  There was a rather large selection of old western charms, and since we are going to Vegas to work the NRS Store at the National Finals Rodeo, I thought the western theme would be appropriate.

Using a mix of metal chains, and an old pearl pendant I got from one of my grandmother’s necklaces, I came up with this:

Hopefully this will be a special one-of-a-kind piece for Kelcey that she will cherish forever, and maybe someday will be re-purposed again.  🙂

**I will be at Houston Street Outfitters in Cedar Hill, TX on Saturday, Dec 17 to host a “Re-purposed Jewelry” Trunk Show.  I’ll set up shop, and customers will have the opportunity to bring their favorite old pieces that they no longer wear, but might again if modernized/updated.  Currently the hours are noon to 4 p.m.  I need to get busy designing a little promo flyer for her to distribute.

One Day You’re In…

A few days ago I told you guys I had some cool news, and that you needed to mark your calendars for Saturday, November 19.

I was contacted by a friend of a friend/old coworker about a week and a half ago to see if I would be interested in being a featured vendor for the Cordova Fashion Entertainment Event at the Esoterica Salon & Lounge near 7th St. in downtown Ft. Worth.  She had heard that I broke out on my own to build a jewelry business and thought this would be a cool event for me to take part in.  The runway event is sponsored by Studio 1459, and the purpose is to help up and coming designers showcase their work and get out into the public.

A few of my pieces will be worn on the runway that night, and I will also have a small booth set up.  From what I have been told, I will be the only jewelry vendor at this event.

So, if you are in the DFW area, come on out!  I think tickets start at $20.

Stay tuned for more info.  I am hoping to post a few new pieces for sale online this week, but I probably won’t be doing much so I can have a huge and varied selection to display and sell at this event.  It’s really hard to not post all my new stuff for you guys to see!!

On a completely separate and photographic note: I am super excited to photograph a certain couple this weekend.  The lady texted me a picture of the dress and shoes she bought to wear for the shoot – and they are awesome! #anthropologie #editorial  I have just the necklace for her to wear with that dress, too, and it involves something that usually goes on the exterior of your house.

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Flat Stanley (H’77 version): The problem with sending anonymous packages

About two weeks ago my cousin, Amanda, messaged me and asked me to make a custom piece for her good friend, Amy.  Amy lost her husband a little over a year ago (I am not exactly sure on the timeline), and my cousin wanted me to send Amy something that she could wear as a tribute of sorts to her husband.  The catch was, she wanted me to mail it anonymously to Amy.

I made the necklace and sent a photo of it to Amanda for approval.

She approved it and I made a little card out of some old cardboard to fix the necklace to.  I titled the piece “keep holding on,” and inside the card I wrote: “A little reminder to always keep holding on.”  And then I drew my logo at the bottom.

The whole point was for Amanda to wait and see when Amy posted something on her Facebook page about getting this random necklace in the mail.  That never happened.  About a week and a half went by and not a peep.  So, Amanda finally caved and called Amy to see if she had received the necklace.  I got a message from Amanda telling me that Amy had received the necklace and she really liked it.

Now, skip to yesterday (Friday).  I went downstairs to the courtyard to check my mail, and in my box was the original envelope that I had used to mail the necklace to Amy.  It was covered in “Return to Sender” and “Address Unknown.”  Picture a big ol’ look of confusion on my face.  I got back to my apartment and opened the envelope, which had been re-taped down the side.  Inside was the necklace and the card, which had been ripped apart.

I was given the impression that this girl really liked the necklace, and immediately thought that maybe she really didn’t like it and sent it back, unaware that I was related to the friend that had bought it for her.  I left my cousin a voicemail explaining everything that had just happened.  She called me back and just said, “this story keeps getting funnier and funnier.”

Apparently, Amy had taken the necklace over to her friends house, freaked out that it was from some anonymous person in Dallas.  She had been dabbling in the online dating game and was concerned that it was from someone with whom she may have been messaging.  Her friend told her that she should probably take it back to the post office and have it returned to sender :: address unknown, so that this anonymous creeper would know that it wasn’t really her address.

The following day, apparently, is the day that my cousin called her to find out if she got the necklace.  Relieved, Amy told her yes and that she really loved the necklace, and how it had all the colors that she wears in it, etc., but that it did slightly freak her out.  Amanda told her that she was waiting to for her to post something about it on Facebook, and Amy explained that she didn’t want to on account of the whole creep factor.

Well, once Amy found out that it was from Amanda, she realized that she had accidentally left the necklace over at her friends house.  She went to get it and explained to her friend that the necklace was sent anonymously from a dear friend of hers.  Her friends eyes grew big as she said, “Amy, I already took it to the post office to have it sent back.”

And here we are.  I’m sending the necklace BACK to her on Monday.

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Make It Work – Things Happen For a Reason

Hey there!

This is my first go at a video blog, so take it easy on me.  Yes, I noticed that I said “um” a hand full of time.  😛  The chain around my neck is something that I was making as I was breaking apart the other chains… that is the cool part (to me) about jewelry.

Anyway, this is just a little informational video about the custom bridesmaid pieces I am working on.  I need to start by saying that I jumped a little bit ahead of myself in the video by mentioning that you may have read about my little debacle with the sample necklace in my previous blog.  I didn’t mention it in my previous blog.  #liar  I had made a little status update about it on my facebook page, though.

Anyway – the complete debacle is talked about in the video:

I hope you enjoyed that.  (You’ll actually want to watch it before reading this next part – unless you are one of those people that likes to know the ending before you get all bogged down with the details of a plot line.  Well, you’ll be happy to know there are no deaths involved.)

After finishing the video, I went to get some lunch and ran to Lowe’s of all places and just started scouring the aisles for anything round and coggish.  Lowe’s came through for me – BIG TIME.  I was bound and determined to make the necklace far better than it was.  It has proven to be a pretty time consuming task.  So far I have completed two necklaces, and they are looking pretty sweet in my opinion.  Definitely better than the original.  I will try to get a photo up for you tomorrow.

When I found out that I couldn’t make the necklace as it was when I showed it to the bride, I called her to break the bad news.  She wasn’t too concerned about it, but I could tell that she may have been a little bit nervous, only because she really liked the sample.  She ended the conversation with me by basically saying that things happen for a reason.  I have my ups and downs with that saying from time to time, but more often than not I find it to be quite true.

I was thinking about maybe offering some sort of gift card for the holidays.  Would many of you be interested in that?  I am still working out the kinks of how I could make that work – but rest assured the gift card would be handmade.  🙂  Comments are welcome.  It would be a cool gift to give someone, and then have them work with me to make a custom piece.  Who knows?  It could be the gift that keeps on giving…

It’s time for me to go get some coffee.  #addiction  Then back to work.  The rest of the week I have to spend getting ready for my booth at this little bazaar in Ennis, TX this Saturday.

OH – And I do have some cool news that I will share with you later.  Those of you in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area – mark your calendars for November 19th!

This blog was brought to you by Lowe’s : Let’s Build Something Together.  (It wasn’t really… I’m just really in love with them right now).

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Project: Lots on my plate!

It’s just about 10 p.m. here and I will be honest and say that I am currently letting the new Lifetime show Project Accessory record a little bit before I get to watching it.  I watched them all run into storage sheds to find junk to make for the first challenge, and I immediately wanted to be. on. that. show!

Last Friday my sister threw a little launch party for me.  A few of my close friends and family (including my mom and step-dad) were in attendance, and it was such a great night.  We mostly sat around and chatted while stuffing our faces with margarita cake balls and cheese.  I have the most supportive people around me.  You can see pics from that night over at my Facebook page.  My favorite part of the night had to be my little nephew, Evan.  He is three.  He was sitting at the counter mixing the two different types of chips into one bowl, and dropping one at a time on the floor for Riley, the dog, to eat.  I asked him if he was the reason Riley was getting so fat, and he raised his hand with one chip into the air and said, “yeah, I am,” as he dropped it to the ground.

Earlier this week I made my first trip back up to Decatur, where my previous employer is located, to have lunch with my old coworkers and to take several new pieces to Corina’s Boutique, located on the square downtown.  Corina has been carrying my jewelry for several months now and it’s been doing well.  She just needed a little refreshing.  It was good to see everyone again, too.  It feels good to know that the relationships I built with my coworkers is the same even after leaving.  Granted, it’s been two and a half weeks… but I was there for five years.  They were all very supportive of me in my decision to leave, and several of them are supportive in that they can’t resist buying my necklaces.  One coworker in particular has me text her when I am about to upload new pieces so she can have first dibs!

I’ll be doing business with them now as a vendor!  I have a collection of three necklaces in the works for their spring catalog.  I am also going with them to the National Finals Rodeo in Vegas this December to help work the 90,000 sq. ft. of shopping that they are setting up at the MGM Grand.  That is going to be a blast! I will post more about that another time.

Today I went to the Dallas Market to see about getting some ideas for the custom bridal pieces I am working on.  I met with the bride-to-be last Saturday to get more of her thoughts and ideas.  She brought me a few inspiration pieces:  1). a piece of the tartan from her groom-to-be’s family name.  2). a coaster from the Joule, a chic hotel in downtown Dallas where she is getting married and 3). a marketing piece from the Charlie Palmer, a restaurant and bar in the Joule.

This is my “inspiration board” so far (including my first sketched idea):

Each piece will be similar, but with different components that match the personality of the girl wearing it.  I still have to do the shopping for that last component.  And, I am still going to try to hunt down some rad watch parts to incorporate.  I’ll keep you updated on the progress of this project.

I was waiting to talk about this next part until I got final word; which I have now.  I am now an artist instructor for a new painting studio here in Dallas called Pinot’s Palette. It is one of those studios you can go to with a group of friends to paint and drink wine.  I had a phone interview with them about two weeks ago, then got a call back to come in for a face-to-face.  The interview was more of a conversation, which I am so much more comfortable with than being drilled with questions.  Towards the end of the interview, the owner set up a blank canvas and some paints and had me pretend I was teaching a class.  Talk about being put on the spot.  I am pretty sure the words “candy corn tree” came out of my mouth, which caused a good laugh between the owners.  When I finished the painting (and I use the word “finish” very loosely) one of them told me that I did a really good job on the instructing part.  The job will only be a few nights a week, and maybe some days – depending on whether or not private parties get booked up.  One of the cool perks with this place is that I will have the opportunity to submit my own artwork into the master library (which means $$ each time it gets used).  So, if you are in the Dallas area, check out their website and maybe I can teach you (but I’ll have to charge!  hey-O!)

One of my favorite things about making necklaces is the complete chaos that is the current state of my office.  I have two wall shelves full of beads, pendants and other various things.  I have had several people volunteer to send me their old jewelry to use and re-purpose.  An old friend from college, Randi Tribble, messaged me one day to tell me that she and four of her friends were sending me a box full of their old pieces.  They wanted me to make each of them a necklace using some of their stuff and some of my stuff.  That was such a fun project.  A few of the girls were specific in which of their old pieces they wanted me to use, and the others were open to anything.  I completed their necklaces last week and shipped it off to them.  They received them on Tuesday of this week and wore them out to dinner last night.  They made this little video, which I think is awesome!!

Thanks Pensacola girls!!  I really appreciate the love and support!  If you have old pieces that you would like me to re-work for you… please send them my way!

On that note… I think I’ve got enough of my show recorded now to skip through commercials!

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It’s a SYOB Party!

Today marks the second Monday of my self-employment, and I must say that it has been a pretty great day.  I slept in an hour later than I typically do because I was up until 1 a.m. doing some design work for EnterUp, a web site that my friend’s brother is building.

I also had to finish up some last minute things for a logo I have been working on for Ironwood Advisors, LLC.  I met with the CEO of Ironwood today to go over the first round of designs. He was very pleased with what I created for him based on our meeting last Monday.  I’m pretty sure he made his decision on the direction, but he wanted to take all of them home to get an opinion from his wife.  I’ll post the final logo once I get word from him – probably later in the week.  Towards the end of the meeting, he pulled out this book:

Last week I mentioned to him that I could probably use any advice he could give me about starting your own business, since that is what his new company basically does.  So, we had originally planned to schedule extra time today to have this discussion.  He decided, however, to buy this for me instead of diving into a full-on conversation that would (no doubt) grace the top of my head as it flew by.  He told me to read through it, take notes and come up with any questions I could think of.  He even took the time to go through the table of contents and highlight the sections that are most relevant to me at this stage in the game.  It was a really great gesture, and I very much appreciated it.  So, this big ol’ book is my main focus for this week.  I was told it should always be on my desk, ready to grab.  I’ll start it tomorrow over my morning coffee.  🙂

I won’t lie.  After that meeting ended, I was on a high because he was pleased with the logo and I was excited about this book (which is kind of scary)… so I took a few hours off and just enjoyed the afternoon.  Don’t judge me.  I got back to work around 5.

The business day ended with me taking an order for eight custom bridesmaids necklaces.  I recently met this young woman who is getting married mid-November.  When she found out I made jewelry, she got real serious about wanting custom pieces for her girls to wear in the wedding.  Each piece I make will have a similar aesthetic, however, there will be a part of each piece that is specific to the personality of each girl.  I have my list of personality traits all ready to go!  This will be a fun project with a quick turn around time.  I love when couples step outside of the traditional when it comes to wedding ceremonies.  Most weddings are saturated in sameness, and while there is nothing wrong with that, I think it’s great to include the personalities of your wedding party into the mix.  I don’t know.  I think it just makes everyone more comfortable.  #whatdoiknow

Time to watch TV!  #offtheclock

 

 

 

Epiphany at Grandma’s House

I had the opportunity yesterday to spend the entire day with my grandmother, aka “Nanny.”  After leaving my job, going down to Ennis for a day to spend time with her was high on my priority list.  I had some ideas for jewelry pieces I wanted to run by her, and she was going to teach me some sewing and crocheting tricks, but we got too preoccupied with the sewing to get to the crochet.  Another time.

I remember when I was about four or five years old, sitting down with Nanny in the front room of her house, which was an old hair salon-turned-artist’s studio.  She put a piece of canvas in front of me that was about the size of a postcard, and taught me how to paint.  I painted a slice of watermelon:

We painted all the time at her house.  We would even paint pottery to bake in her kiln.  So, it is a pretty safe assumption that all of my creative abilities were nurtured through my time with her (as well as my current addiction to coffee).

I walked into her kitchen yesterday and noticed that she had been breaking old china and other glass objects, creating mosaics on pieces of wood and various other items.  I had never seen her doing this.  It was then I realized that she was always working on something new when I would visit.  The last time I saw her, she was making cuffs out of vintage buttons, and the time before that it was scarfs and hats.

*Epiphany*

I am pretty sure she was in mid-sentence about her new glass-busting project when I stopped her.  I said, “Nanny, I just had an epiphany.”  I told her I just realized that not only did she nurture my artistic side, but also my need to constantly and quickly move from one project to the next.  We are the same person.  The type of person that gets antsy, yet, never bored because there is always something else to do.  True story.  She has an easel set up with a canvas and her oil paints in the dining room.  She has yards of fabric sitting on the dining table, cut and ready to sew into a quilt, and every time I go over there she has me moving furniture around to different spots of the house.  Same. Person.

That was such an “A-ha” (thanks, Oprah) moment for me because of a few conversations I had with some people at my previous job.  I won’t go into all of that here, but just know that at that moment, everything made sense to me.

We sat down at the table to work on a few jewelry ideas that I had – the main one being a necklace made of my old knits.  The piece we came up with is pretty awesome, in my humble opinion.  I will post photos of it as soon as I get it shot with a girl wearing it.  But the sneak peek is here:

As we wrapped up this project, she said the words that I will never forget came from her mouth:  “Dusty, we design pretty well together.”

Yes we do, Nanny.