Something Old, Made New

First off, I’d like to thank my lovely friend Irina. She donated her old jewelry & accessories to me and I have been having a wonderful time re-inventing these treasured pieces. I am fortunate that many of my friends, family members, and fans will occasionally send me things to upcycle. It is the greatest kind of support & it brightens my day. And best of all, I encounter pieces that I might not otherwise come across. So thanks to anyone who’s ever donated materials to me.

I truly enjoy breathing new life into old objects–especially classic or traditional jewelry. Here’s a before & after look at one such piece.

IMG_0303Before

IMG_0304What I love about the original piece is its color contrast: the rich red against a muted silver. It’s also reminiscent of a Indian style of jewelry.

IMG_0305After

IMG_0307In altering this piece, I wanted to stay true to the multicultural feel of the original. I added two grandfather clock gears, muted silver chain that closely matches the silver in the rest of the necklace, and the large metal cabinet decoration. In lengthening this piece, and by giving it a large textured focal point, it is more of a statement piece of jewelry. The disruption of the pattern is what really transforms this necklace into an one-of-a-kind piece. If you want to transform or update an old favorite, think about changing or even disrupting your necklace’s pattern, introducing another color or texture, or even combining two favorites together to form something new!

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My Greatest Junk Shop Find

Sunday began as usual: I woke up, read more of my book while my body slowly acclimated to being awake, brushed my teeth, and got ready to go out for breakfast with Rhys. On our way to Tally’s Cafe on Route 66, we popped into one of my favorite “junk” shops, Generations Antique Mall, which is right next door to the cafe. We ambled up the aisles, which with me is always a slow process as I like to examine objects that are often overlooked & rifle through boxes chock-full of random things searching for pieces to upcycle. We reached the end of the second aisle when we came to a large glass display case. Several of the top shelves were stuffed with old jewelry, watches, and ornate rings. The bottom shelves were almost empty, and on one shelf there was only a dull silver pocketwatch. The sticker on it read: “Does Not Work. $25.” Rhys insisted that we take a look at it. I declined at first, stating that $25 was a lot for a pocketwatch not in working order. Little did I know its true value. Rhys again insisted and assured me we’d haggle the price. He asked the owner to open the case.

I reluctantly retrieved the pocketwatch, popping the lid open, and discovered writing etched on the inside lid. Engraved onto this 1910 silver compass (it was not a pocketwatch after all) were the words: “Sam, Will You Marry Me?” I held my breath. My disbelief suspended when I turned around to see Rhys down on one knee with a beautiful engagement ring. Before he could even get a full sentence out–I had said Yes! And of course, was blubbering with happy tears the next minute. 52168_10154543378935624_7830856201092534447_o

That compass is the greatest “find” I have discovered in any junk shop–its value utterly priceless. Its history now forever altered; our story now entwined with its.

IMG_20140810_114729_1I am so incredibly lucky that I met Rhys ten months ago. I fell in love with his compassion for others, his unfailing kindness, his sharp wit, and yes, even his puns! He has enriched my life with his own sense of wonder, wanderlust, and creativity. He has become my compass–he helps me navigate my fears & dreams; he gives me direction; and he points me toward truth. Simply put, he’s the love of my life.

Shake2I’ll keep you all updated on wedding planning & the DIYS that will inevitably ensue. To read about the proposal from Rhys’s perspective, check out his blog. To get a stunning spoon ring of your very own, check out Aaron Paul Designs on Etsy! (My ring was made from a 1928 Sterling Silver Spoon originally manufactured by Reed & Barton Silver Company. Aaron Paul is an artist who I met at last year’s Indie Emporium, and whose work I admire. The ring is perfect!)

 

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The Ones that Didn’t Get Away

One of the questions I get asked often is: are there pieces that I make that I just can’t sell? The answer is: Yes, oh, yes! For example, sometimes I will make a bunch of earrings in one sitting–and not be able to part with a single pair of them. I not only enjoy the process of making jewelry, but also sourcing it. Usually the pieces that I just can’t part with are unique bits of history; are pieces that are considerably time-intensive. (The longer I work a piece, the more likely it is that I will want to keep it.); or, are pieces that I made collaboratively with my mom or friends. The jewelry then is not merely an accessory, but a cherished memory as well.

While I wear my jewelry regularly, I don’t run into all of you every day so I thought I would share a few of my favorite earrings that I couldn’t part with for starters. I promise to post other pieces that have a permanent home just one stop over from my studio–my jewelry case & bookshelf vanity.

IMG_0285If you like my jewelry organizer–check out my DIY to make one for yourself! Accessorizing is so much easier when you can see all of your options at once. It also helps keep all of your earrings together, your necklaces untangled, and your rings visible.

IMG_0261I have nicknamed these earrings “Lady Lamplighter.” The intricate woman holding up a fiery torch is etched in glass. It’s delicate and yet still expresses a kind of strength. The glass pieces themselves are from an antique chandelier. Many of the pieces were broken–and the others unfortunately found a very creative 5 year old who painted in the ladies with crayon. I was able to salvage a few of the pieces–and made this pair of earrings. (The are also my favorite!).

IMG_0300These next two pairs I love for the same reason: they are dainty & feminine while also being primarily made of metal. The earrings on the left (my second favorite) are made with washers, nuts, and pearls. The earrings on the right are made with clothing snaps and rhinestones.

IMG_0297I kept these earrings because the process of making them was so fun! I got even more inventive and simply loved how they came out! These earrings are made with gears, spring cogs, clothing fasteners, washers, seed beads, and bugle beads. I am also someone who really loves mixing metals–the brass and the muted silver of the beads & washers is a nice mixture of tones with the beat up look of the brass.

IMG_0266Here’s a similar pair–one of my recent creations–made with pearl buttons, clothing fasteners, key charms, and 2 mismatched pocketwatch parts. White pearl buttons are a favorite material of mine. I love their luminescence and even when a pearl button is caked in dust or scuffed, it has a quality of richness to it. Below is another favorite pair of earrings–also made with pearl buttons.

IMG_0288To the right you’ll also see a pair of earrings made with gears & old silver cameos. The cameos were originally earrings, but their studs were rusting and so I excised them to save the intact cameos & fashioned a new pair of earrings!

IMG_0293These earrings have a unique material–the tiny pliers. The pliers were made by the Intercast Gries Reproducer Co. as a cracker jack prize (You can read more about them here in a separate blog post.) I love how the pliers are actually functional–they open & close. I made myself a pair of earrings; especially since pliers are one of my main tools. I coupled these little prizes with gears and washers. They are a crackerjack pair of earrings if I do say so myself!

IMG_0271These earrings came together serendipitously! The bronze looking piece at the top of the earrings is actually a metal plate piece that unscrews out of a tiny alarm clock. The bronze colored substance around it is wire. I came across one of these little pieces over a year ago and placed it on my studio table to “percolate” until I figured out what I wanted to make with it. Then a few months ago, I bought a jumbled box of junk at a flea market and inside I discovered the piece’s twin! I love it when that happens–and it happens so rarely that I find an exact match.

IMG_0302I’ve come to think of these earrings as my Steampunk Christmas Earrings–because of the jolly red of the crystals. What many of you might not know is that I also use primarily upcycled & salvaged beads. I source them from damaged jewelry (or stupendously hideous costume jewelry), flea markets, and crafty swap-meets.

IMG_0269  IMG_0275  IMG_0282  IMG_0286

These last two pairs of earrings are made with a rare material–and one that recalls a most beloved memory. When I graduated with my Masters in English, my mom and I took a trip to Paris to celebrate. My mom had never been out of the country before and I couldn’t be more excited to share in her first European adventure. It was a week filled with art, fresh French pastries & desserts, wine, conversation, and above all–junking! My mom had mapped out a Parisian tour of flea markets, little scrap shops, and jewelry boutiques. At the flea market, we ambled along & found a great many treasures. One of which were these gold filigree pieces. I used them to make earrings for the both of us as a reminder of our trip.

IMG_0299  IMG_0298Both earrings have a similar color palette–black & gold. The first pair I made with bugle beads, seed beads, washers, Austrian crystals from a family necklace, swivel clasps (another fave material), and finally the beautiful gold filigree piece from Paris. The second pair are a little fancier & bolder. These are made with clock hands, clothing fasteners, black jet beads, and the Parisian filigree piece. Every time I wear these earrings, and my mom wears hers, I am reminded of our many junk jaunts around not only Paris, but the Northeast. I am so lucky that I have someone to look up to–a dreamer, a giver, and a maker!

Hope you liked seeing these pieces! What’s your favorite pair of earrings? Do they tell a story? What about them do you love?

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A Good Day of Junkin’

One of my favorite things about summer is all of the estate sales, garage sales, & flea markets! With the warm weather, there are almost an infinite number to choose from. Today’s estate sale held so many wonders: tall intricately carved wooden grandfather clocks, delicate handkerchiefs & handmade napkins–carefully embroidered, Art Deco furniture that beckoned me way out of my price range, antique French books with marble covers, and so much more! I came away with a few treasures–things I could not put back once I had stumbled upon them. Here’s my haul for the day:

mirrorAn iron mirror–it’s a sturdy little thing! My arm my shaking after holding it for an hour. I was drawn to it because of its marvelous pedestal bottom and rose & leaf pattern. It was a steal for 24.00! It’s also one of those items that instantly transports me to another time. It feels possible to look into the mirror–and instead of my 2014 reflection to see a Gibson Girl staring back at me!

flask 1My favorite find of the day was this flask. The flask itself consists of two long skinny bottles to hold your liqueur and two metal drinking shot glasses. The leather case makes it even fancier. I can’t wait to clean this up a little and steampunk it! (Only 18.50 too!) Here’s a close up of the flask:

flask 2The flask bottles themselves are so nice–You could easily fill one with your spirit of choice, and the other with something to mix it with! I had never seen a two bottle flask before–so this was a real treat to find!

cake standI also found a cute plastic cake dish complete with cover. It looks like glass! Everyone I passed chided me on how carelessly I was carrying it (under my arm) until they learned it was only plastic. That made me feel even better about my purchase. Got it all cleaned up and I am currently waiting for a cake to cool so that I can frost it and use this baby! My final purchase is my second favorite find of the day: a kitschy child’s clothes hanger decorated to look like a friendly lion. This is going to be a gift for my cousin Becca and her husband James, who are expecting their first child in December. I am so excited & happy for them. I can’t wait to have another little one to spoil.

lionOverall, it’s been a fantastic day! I am almost finished reading Peter Clines latest book, Ex-Purgatory (part of his Superhero & Zombie Series); last night Rhys & I finished reading our first book in tandem–Stephen King’s The Stand and I can’t wait for him to get home so we can have some cake & talk about it more; and I received a care package from my family in New York. Here’s a sneak peek on what’s inside:

snit supplies

If you’re wondering who “snit” is–that’s me! It’s my Uncle John & Uncle Jeff’s nickname for me! They always send me the coolest junk! suppliesI also got some lightbulbs, game spinners, and Scrabble tiles. (I love making coasters out of these tiles! Check out this DIY if you want to make your own.) Summers are just wonderful–mine has been full of weekend roadtrips with Rhys, books you lose yourself in, bursts of creative energy, and junkin’! Thanks Heather for coming along with me today! Junkin’ is always better with a friend! What have you been up to this summer?

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DIY Steampunk Cake Stand

This is a fun & easy way to unleash a little steampunk flair in your kitchen, or perhaps add to a steampunk-themed party you’re hosting. Here’s what you’ll need:DIY IMG_0045

  • Cake Stand (Available at your local Michaels, or online); I’ve chosen a filigree metal cake stand–one, because it’s pretty schmancy and two, there are already holes to work with. Also, this cake came with beads already attached. (If you’re purchasing a different style cake stand, then you will also need: 45 medium round crystal beads; 45 eyepins; 9 medium oval faceted crystal beads; and 9 large teardrop-shaped faceted crystal beads, preferably with a flat back so that the gears remain flush against the teardrop-shaped crystals)
  • 10 small gears & 9 large gears (For this DIY, I’d recommend reproduction gears over salvaged gears because the gears will be around a lot more moisture; Reproduction gears are available at your local craft store)
  • 1 skeleton key
  • 9 lock washers
  • 27 small jump rings (45 if you are adding the beads yourself)
  • 9 large jump rings
  • Flat nosed pliers (and also needle nosed pliers & wire cutters, if you are adding beads yourself)

DIY IMG_0043Steps:

  1. If you do not need to add beads, move on to Step 2. If you are adding beads, read on. First, put all of your small round crystal beads onto eyepins. Use your flat nosed & needle nosed pliers along with your wire cutters to close off each bead’s eyepin. (If you do not know how to do this, check out any basic beading book which will cover how to close eyepins. You can also click here for an online tutorial.) Once you are done, connect 5 beads together in a string.  You should have a total of 9 strings. Once you have strung all of your 9 strings, connect them to your filigree cake stand with a jump ring leaving at least 1 or 3 spaces (or holes in the filigree) above where your string dangles. Also be sure to leave a space/hole in the filigree between each individual string.
  2. In between each string–directly in the middle, add a small gear. (This is why I suggested having 1 or 3 spaces specifically). Use your flat nosed pliers & small jump rings to connect your gears to your cake stand. Repeat for each string.DIY IMG_0053
  3. Next, lay out the order of your large gear & teardrop crystal pendants. For mine, I layered them as follows: lock washer, medium round crystal bead, and large gear & large teardrop shaped crystal bead along with the jump rings I would need to connect each of these materials together. DIY IMG_0057
  4. Once you’re happy with the order of your pendants, connect all of the individual materials together using your flat nosed pliers and jump rings. Use your large jump rings to connect the medium round crystal bead to the large gear & teardrop crystal. DIY IMG_0067The lock washer connects to the medium bead (it helps if you sing along: “oh the lock washer’s connected to the bead…”–very much like “Dem Bones”)DIY IMG_0061All of the materials are connected in the picture above. Be sure that you put the teardrop bead & the large gear on the same jump ring so that the gear hangs behind the crystal.
  5. Next, attach each large crystal & gear pendant to your cake stand using your flat nosed pliers & small jump rings. Attach each large crystal & gear pendant in between your individual bead strings in the space/1 hole you left empty. DIY IMG_0065
  6. (Optional) Instead of having all teardrop & gear crystal pendants, you could replace one with a skeleton key. If you don’t wish to do so, then move on to the next step. (Funny story, this DIY came about because one of my crystal pendants on the cake stand broke, and I decided to steampunk it anyway and replace the crystal for a key. So keep this step in mind if one of your crystals breaks.) Lay out all of the materials for your key pendant along with jump rings. Then connect all of your materials together with your pliers. Then attach to the cake stand in one of the spaces/holes between an individual string of beads. DIY IMG_0049(All connected)DIY IMG_0051
  7. Get to bakin’! You’ve got a fancy steampunk cake stand to show off!

DIY IMG_0076  DIY IMG_0084  DIY IMG_0086When mine is not in use, or the cake was gobbled up all too soon, I like to adorn it with a doily.

If you liked this DIY, or are looking for more ways to steampunk your kitchen check out my other baking related post on steampunk cupcakes! As always, Merry Making!

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Steampunk World’s Fair 2014

It’s been a while since I blogged, forgive me. I have been a busy little bee lately. Mainly, I was getting ready for my very first Steampunk World’s Fair held annually in Piscataway, New Jersey. I had an amazing time. I saw so many inspiring costumes, creations, and gadgets and I met some lovely people. Here’s a little snippet of the weekend:

2014-05-15 14.36.18I flew up to my hometown of Brewster, in New York. I was lucky to make a mini-vacation with my family out of the show. I was especially excited to see my mom, grams, and 4 & 1/2 year old niece, Avery Jane. Early in the week, I played with Avery on the swings, took many rambling walks, and spent some time being creative. While Avery watercolored painted and my grams sewed a set of wedding pillows, my mom and I were busy making some new steampunk creations.

2014-05-19 16.25.20On Thursday evening, my mom and I packed the car, picked some violets that grow all along our front lawn for good luck, and we were ready to go! Roadtrips with my mom are always a blast!

2014-05-15 14.36.30After checking into our hotel, we went over to the event center to start setting up. Since I flew into NY, I didn’t have my usual displays. And so the booth was a combination of scavenged items from our family home and items my mom has squirreled away for our shop someday. I love how everything came together! Here it is before we put out all of our creations!

2014-05-15 22.10.14A few of our displays that I just love: our box with large lightbulbs…

2014-05-15 22.10.24..our backdrop painting of a Victorian lady. It’s titled: “The Eternal Question,” we’ve renamed it “The Puss” since she has such a sourpuss expression on her face!

2014-05-15 22.10.31…My gram’s old wooden stool which we used to display canes & umbrellas…2014-05-15 22.10.36And of course, old standbys: vintage & antique photographs, printer drawers, a model diving bell helmet, wooden boxes, and oddities.2014-05-16 15.40.45  2014-05-16 20.25.16  2014-05-16 20.25.20  2014-05-16 20.25.34 The part of our booth that I felt the most pride in was our hat display. The vintage hats my mom embellished were displayed over large Industrial spools, candelabras, tiny stools, and antique hat stands.

2014-05-16 15.40.38Of course, no booth is complete without your ensemble! I took greats pains to come up with outfits that would not only be in the spirit of steampunk & the fair, but that would be wearable for long hours. Day Two is my favorite! (Thanks Briana, of Bifftastica, for the awesome vest! I got so many compliments on its rows of gleaming buttons!)

SPWF Outfits Sam CollageThe weekend was full of many great costumes. Here are some that stood out to us:

2014-05-17 15.30.00The Diver

2014-05-18 10.46.37The Airship Mechanic

2014-05-17 12.48.26and…The Gentleman (who also purchased one of our steampunk ties which is pictured above!) One of my favorite accessories that I saw was an elaborate set of finger armor. I may have a new obsession!

2014-05-17 11.29.06There’s a lot I won’t forget about that weekend…Our first sale to a dapper gentleman & pirate, “Obscur Idy.” That first sale was so exciting. It made it all seem real. We had a lovely conversation about steampunk and creations. It was his warm smile and sense of whimsy that touched us both. 2014-05-17 18.12.50…The Lady Mad Hatter who gifted me a capsule from Wonderland (with included white glittery ribbon, a jack, and a tiny wooden mushroom) after I fixed her button that was falling off of her vest. It’s a great feeling to be handy, even better when it’s appreciated.2014-05-18 14.33.31…And last, but certainly not least, spending time with my mom. We always have a good time when we’re hanging out together, and it’s made even more fun when we can share a love of steampunk, a passion for making, and a renewal of creativity.

Me & Mima SPWF CollageCheck back again later in the week, I’ll be posting a DIY on how to steampunk a cake stand!

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My Handmade Home

It sure has been a busy month! I am readying for Spring shows, dreaming up new DIYs, and preparing for the Tulsa Art Studio Tour (which I am so excited about! April 12-13 is taking too long to get here!). On top of all of that, I also moved into my very first home with my boyfriend, Rhys! And I thought I’d share some of the handmade pieces that make up a large part of our home and its heart.

IMG_9887A wooden silhouette ornament painted by Audrey Eclectic rests against the built-in floor-to-ceiling bookshelves (I was sold on the house as soon as I saw them. Those shelves called out to the bibliophile in me, not to mention the fact that I have a zillion books!).

IMG_9888Not only did my books find a home on these shelves, but so did several other little handmade knick-knacks that remind me of good friends and fun crafty times. I made this Oklahoma string art at last year’s Etsy Party hosted by Make:Tulsa!

IMG_9890Along the bottom of our fireplace’s mantle is strewn a banner, made from upcycled music sheets, silk ribbon, and vintage buttons from my mom’s stash. I sewed & cut this banner ages ago to decorate my apartment for my very first television DIY (with News Channel 6’s Laura Moss). Whenever I look at this banner, it brings back to life my nervous excitement & my love for sharing DIYs.

The entire Living Room is chockablock full of handmade goodness:

IMG_9891The little Christmas decorations that I do not have the heart to ever put away after the holidays–a hand carved wooden Snowman & sculpted Santa Claus alongside a tiny crazy-quilted tree with button ornaments.

IMG_9892A wooden birdhouse my niece water colored just for me. (She’s getting even craftier as she grows! Our home will likely have several new Avery Jane originals before the summer is out).

IMG_9917These fabulous felt Super Mario pillows made by Rhys’s friends Darcy & Leah. They are super cuddly!

IMG_9918My little sock bears–I love making these guys, especially when I lose a sock and don’t know what to do with its twin. Pictured above are: Gears, Gray, Lil’Gray, Oatmeal, and Buttons.

hh CollageWe have a ton of eclectic, local art pieces. I picked up these stunning canvas prints at Indie Emporium this year from A Wing and A Prayer. Whimsical & beautiful–I wanted them right next to our two big reading chairs where they could be seen, pondered over, and enjoyed!

IMG_9897Of course, there were a few things that I luckily “inherited” along with Rhys. My favorite of which is this stained glass art piece of Batman’s symbol made for him by a friend. It sits in our kitchen window and catches the sunshine. I also like to think that it wards away evil-doers.

Our kitchen, also, has lots of handmade pieces scattered throughout:

IMG_9898I love my Phat Beets calendar with seasonal recipes which I purchased at Made; the Indie Emporium Shop. The drawings are super cute & I am adding new dishes to my repertoire!

IMG_9899On the stove hangs tea towels from my dear friend, Christine Sharp-Crowe (weather&noise). I’ve always admired her aesthetic (which is borrowed from William Morris: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”).

Alongside the stove, on the wall is a mounted bottle opener by A. Whip Designs! It was our first handmade purchase for our new home. (Thanks Okie Crowe for selling these in your righteous store).  Rhys loves craft & local beer, so this was a perfect find. IMG_9915And last, but not least, on the pantry cabinet doorknob hangs a little felted purple star made by my sweet friend Holly, of Hollyrocks. I can’t wait to start a garden of my own and litter it with Holly’s little polymer clay creations, garden stakes, & seed bombs. IMG_9916Perhaps my favorite of all the things that I have ever been made are the quilted wall hangings & table runners by my Grams. I have different ones for every season & holiday. I proudly display her careful stitching and beautiful quilting throughout our home. With a Housewarming Party soon approaching, I have my Welcome Pineapple up on the wall.

hh CollagePictured to the right, is a quilted table runner made my Grams (out of her favorite blue floral fabric) and a cedar Hope chest that was built by an old family friend, Tom. He crafted the chest to look like my great-grandmother’s, as a thank you gift to me for editing his novel. In it lies quilted treasures galore and handmade holiday ornaments.

IMG_9919So far, one of the best perks of living with Rhys is getting to enjoy his photography all the time. His photos, to me, evoke an intimacy with his subject–whether he is snapping a shot of rural Oklahoma or far-away places that he’s traveled. I always feel as if I’ve learned a secret about that place.

IMG_9913Ok, my dear reader, I am about to get a little gushy. I am so happy that I have found someone that I love this much. I consider myself lucky to have someone who not only supports my work, but is passionate about it too. Rhys has given me the freedom to steampunk anything in the house (what a guy!) and in knowing how much handmade means to me, he makes a point when he gives a gift, that it’s handmade. (Like the Star Wars embroidered picture & crochet bear above, made by his friend Heather).

IMG_9909The most meaningful gifts I have received from him, he made himself. Rhys put together this shadowbox & filled it with gears and my favorite of his photographs–a close up of an old gas pump gauge.  Today, I added to it: the ticket stub from our first movie date, flowers from the first bouquet he gave me, and other memorable ephemera.

Unpacking, I realized just how much handmade means to me. There are so many pieces strewn about our home that were crafted by people whose stories & art I know and admire. It fills me with joy and warmth. At our housewarming party, I am sure I will tell many stories about the items in our home. And I hope, that those stories will fill everyone who crosses our hearth with the same joy, warmth, and dare I say it…a little wonder to create something too.

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