Art Deco Necklaces

I am loving the great new Bead Landing jewelry findings from Michael’s! It seems they are always introducing new fun product lines it makes it fun to design for the new bling. Using the Art Deco rhinestone pendants, before Christmas, I created a necklace with rose and cream colored glass pearls rhinestone rhondeles, pieces of the coordinating Art Deco chain and my grandmother’s old wristwatch. Inspired by the Art Deco design, I named it the Gatsby necklace. This necklace has a happy new home in Ireland, thanks to Etsy’s international reach.

Since there were two pendants in the pack, this left me with another pendant to incorporate into a necklace. This time, I used peacock blue glass pearls and cream pearls to accent the Art Deco pendant. I loved the original Gatsby with the shiny rhinestone rhondeles and most of all, for the inclusion of Grandma Lorraine’s watch, but I love this one too. With the classic drop pearl pendant, it reminds me of some of the fantastic pearl necklaces of the Elizabethan times, but remixed with an Art Deco flair.

This is the link to the necklace on Etsy.


New Jewelry

These are some new jewelry pieces I will soon be putting on Etsy.

This one was created with glass rosary beads on chain that I get from a chandelier supply company along with crystal pearls, beads and crystals. There are so many new colors of man-made crystal pearls available these days, I am sure pearls are going to be a fashion trend in the coming year. The pendant features green, blue & aquamarine colored pave set rhinestones in a fun paisley design. The statement piece of this necklace is a versatile brooch made by Bead Landing that has loops built into the back so you can easily convert if from pin-back to necklace.  Sadly this is a one-way conversion and once you remove the pin-back you only have a pendant.

This necklace features another fabulous rhinestone pendant from Bead Landing. When I started making jewelry eleven years ago, I had a difficult time locating unique findings in stores. With the hobby-jewelry industry explosion, there is an abundance of amazing findings & beads at most hobby & craft stores like Michael’s and Jo-Ann’s. I try to patronize local bead stores whenever possible, but until they sell great pendants & findings like these, I will continue to shop at the chain stores…especially when they keep sending me the 40% coupons!

This is another one of my 40″ ‘doubler’ necklaces. They look great long, but they also look great doubled when worn short. It’s like getting two necklaces for the price of one. For this one, I incorporated more gemstones and larger crystal pearls for variety & dimension.

Studio Organization Update – The Jewelry Station

I removed the long cluttered 6′ folding table from the studio. It was a handy place to paint, soldier or whatever on, but it took up WAY too much room and became yet another surface for crap.

I moved the small 4′ table I use for my jewelry underneath the window. The natural light makes it a great workspace for my jewelry. I cleaned out the red tool cart, and now have a place for all of my jewelry supplies. The cart has a large open area at the bottom that fits my bead boxes nicely. This has allowed me to get rid of the clear drawers that weren’t serving my needs.

This is the view of my jewelry station from the desk. The red cart can be moved against the wall to open up the space for large projects.

This is the top drawer, it is shallow and fits the jewelry trays perfectly. I lined the drawer with scrap velvet so the trays won’t move, and if I ever lay pieces on them they won’t get scratched. The center tray is for all those loose beads that never find their way home.

Although it doesn’t look like it, this is organized into storage bins. These baggies are full of findings and beads that aren’t used often, but are still needed.

The bottom drawer is full of pieces and parts used to make new masterpieces. It is much more inspiring to see this drawer rather than a huge pile of whatever on my tabletop.

The bottom compartment holds the bead boxes nicely. There is a pull-down door that can be closed for an even cleaner look. The boxes are sorted by color and labeled on top so I can see what I need from above.

There is even room for a recliner in the new studio–Bobby is very pleased to have a new place to sleep. This is the third home for this recliner. It was first in my mother’s living room, then mine, now the studio.

The Chaotic CarrieTown Studio – Reality Check

This post is the first in the Great CarrieTown Studio Cleanup Series of 2012:
I spend a lot of my free time browsing photos of slick, well organized craft spaces. I have even devoted an entire Pinterest board to this obsession. I dream of being able to waltz into my well-lit immaculate space, sit down, listen to classical music and finally create that masterpiece the world has been waiting for.

The reality is a little more cluttered. I am very lucky to have a craft space. I converted half of my two car garage into a sunny space where I can create my artwork and jewelry and any other messy project I may want to attempt. This year I added a DVR, and it is usually stocked with classic commercial free films and favorite TV shows. I even have a dedicated speaker station so I can plug in my iPad and listen to podcasts.

It is a very creative space, but lately I have been re-evaluating storage. I tend to forget about things unless I can see them in front of my face, which means that everything is visible. Want proof or the chaos, just check out these pics:

As you can see, chaos reigns over CarrieTown. The lower cabinets are filled with entire sets of plates used for Mosaics projects. Since I mostly work on paper crafts and jewelry, I would like to reduce the amount of mosaics supplies and utilize this space more efficiently for shop supplies, tools, and other items that need new homes.

This is the jewelry workspace. As you can see, most of the storage is on the surface, which limits the amount of space I have to work & create. I would also like to get rid of the clear drawers because they don’t work very well.

This is where I do most of my paper crafts…as you can obviously see. I need to find a new way to store all those little scraps of paper that can be used for future projects.

The desk from the back. I can’t believe I actually get any work done here. Wish me luck as I move forward with my organization project. The organization of CarrieTown is an ongoing project, but I thought I would start with the absolute messiest photos so the after pics would look more impressive. Mission Accomplished for messiest photos!

Portable photo studio in a box

Like most crafters who sell online, the most tricky part of the process is taking a fantastic photo of your product. After struggling for years, I think I have finally figured it out. Here is how I take close-up photos of my jewelry and other items for sale online.

The most difficult part of the process is getting professional looking lighting. You can purchase a collapsible box for this purpose, but ever the cheapskate, I wanted to create one for very little cost. I started with an old plexiglass box my office was throwing away. I think this one was used to store paper, but I have also seen them used for store displays. My friend picked up a larger one at a store-closing sale that was used to display shoes. My box is a little too short for some products, but it works for my jewelry and 5×5″ collages. Make sure the box you select will work for the products you will be shooting.

I covered the outsides with old onionskin typing paper I had lying around the studio. Connected with masking tape and scotch tape, it may not look pretty, but no one usually sees the outside of the box.

To create an ‘endless’ curved background, I tried poster board & cardboard, but they were either not sturdy enough, or too sturdy. I had an old cutting mat that was just a little narrower than the plexiglass box. I covered it with neutral fabric, to match the neutral jewelry busts I purchased at the store-closing sale. This background should fade into the background. So an old white sheet would work well too.

I apologize for not including more step by step photos, but I figured you were smart enough to figure out how to tape paper to the outside of a box. Plus, depending on the box you use, it will vary anyway.

I tried to use clip lights and desk lights to light the box, but the difference in bulbs and heights made for uneven lighting, which defeated the whole point of using a lightbox. So, I actually had to break down and spend some money on the project. I saw these lights on the Target website for $6, but when I got to the store, they were on the clearance rack for $2.50! Better yet, they use standard 60 watt bulbs, so you can use the compact florescent bulbs if you want.

I placed the lights with two on the sides facing in, and one on the top facing in to create a soft wash of light.


As I mentioned before, the box doesn’t look terrific on the outside, but it takes great pictures. Here is one I took using the new green Target lights. I shot in Macro mode with the flash turned off. Jewelry & beads get washed out and glaring when you use the flash, so just use the soft light of the lightbox.

Why blog?

I have been feeling particularly uninspired lately on the old jewelry front. I seemed to hit a rut when designing my spec pieces. Whenever I design for my own personal collection, I get tons of complements–but my inventory collection was feeling uninspired. While juggling the needs for meeting a particular price point, efficiency of construction, and marketability, I lost sight of the overall design.

While cleaning out my numerous jewelry boxes the other day, I kept coming across pieces of jewelry that I no longer wear. Little trinkets given as gifts throughout the years–a bracelet given to me by my parents on Valentine’s Day when I was fifteen, another given by my Grandmother Applegate when I graduated from high school, a little gold plated locket given to me by my other Grandma. Such a shame to have these pieces take up a place in my heart, but not in my life.

I also inherited a few costume pieces throughout the years from various relatives. “Waste Not Want Not” echoes resoundingly in my brain every time I even consider getting rid of possible treasures. So, I decided to take these disparate items and make new beloved pieces. I want to take old sentimental pieces and create new heirlooms out of them. I have been doing this for years with my mosaics. Someone will give me the last remaining chipped piece of their grandmother’s china, and I will create a new wall hanging or mirror with it.

This is hardly a new or revolutionary idea. A quick glance at will find at least ten books on the subject of remaking old jewelry into new. This isn’t meant to be an instructional blog, but rather, a chance to explore what the individual pieces mean to me, and what I was aiming for in the design of the piece. As jewelry designers, we rarely get a chance to present an artist statement for our work. Mostly, the consumer just wants to know it matches their outfit and makes them feel good about themselves when they wear it.