Friday, April 30, 2010

Craft Show Necklace Display Project

I am doing my first craft fair at the DIY Gallery in Silverlake this Sunday, as part of the Etsy Los Angeles Street Team.  It's been a very long time since I've been to a craft fair, certainly since before I started making jewelry, so I really don't know what to expect.  I've been studying the Etsy forums and Flickr groups about what to bring and how to set up a display.  Some common advice is to avoid having too many items laying flat on the table.  While searching for ideas on how to do this, I came across this project on DIY Sponge.  I was very excited until I saw the required materials:  wood, a jig, sandpaper...  And worse, the template link is broken.

Luckily, thanks to Google, I found this much simpler version, constructed from foam core board.  The title of the article is "Make a $1 DIY jewelry bust" -- my black foam core board cost me $5 at Michaels, but nevermind...

Still though, it linked to the DIY Sponge project with the broken template, so what I did was print out this image.  Then I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to enlarge it on the photocopier, so I placed the small image on my board, traced around it with a white pencil, then drew around that a little bigger, before finally biting the bullet and drawing the size I wanted to cut out.  You can see the evolutions it went through on the back of the finished product:

I then cut it out with an X-Acto knife (not easy on the hands...), cut out a triangle from the remainder of the board, and taped it onto the back to make it stand up.  And it worked!  I'm quite pleased with how it turned out, what do you think?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Spring and Summer Jewelry

With the weather warming up slowly in California, I present for you some of my jewelry with a spring and summer feel... (ok really, I just wanted an excuse to make another collage in Picasa, I made one for my Twitter background and it's so fun):

Monday, April 26, 2010


Sunday baking seems to have become a habit for me again recently.  Today's venture was shortbread.  I've never been a big fan of shortbread, but for some reason it felt like a good idea.  And it was.  The shortbread I made is thin and delicious.  I am a tea addict and shortbread is the perfect accompaniment to a hot cup of freshly brewed tea.

Shortbread (adapted from this recipe)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' (icing) sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a medium bowl, beat together the flour, baking powder, salt and confectioners' sugar. Stir in the butter, milk, and vanilla, and mix until a dough forms. 
  3. Form dough into a log and roll in plastic wrap.  Chill until firm. 
  4. Cut dough log into slices 1/4" (just over 0.5cm).  Place on a baking sheet at least 0.5" (1.25cm) apart.
  5. Bake for 12-15mins minutes in the preheated oven, or until bottoms are golden brown. Cool partially while on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack. 
I iced mine with the lemon icing I usually put on lemon melt-away tea cookies.  Frickin' fabulous:

Lemon Frosting::


  • 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup powdered (confectioner's) sugar 
  •  In a medium bowl, combine butter, lemon zest, lemon juice, and powdered sugar; stir until well mixed. 

Mmmmmmmmmmm.... enjoy!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Los Angeles Street Team Treasuries (East)

A "Treasury" on Etsy is a highly coveted thing.  Etsy members vie for a chance to create one of these short-lived member-curated galleries of twelve items of their choosing.  The Etsy admin often choose a whole or partial Treasury list to promote for the even more highly coveted front page of Etsy. There are a limited number of treasuries allowed at any one time (well, over 300, but the list is often full and it is a matter of timing your pounce when the list opens up), which is the source of their exclusivity.

However, Etsy recently debuted "Treasury East", which allows any member to create a treasury at any time.  These treasuries do not expire, and still have the chance of making it to the front page.  I recently joined the LASTeam (Los Angeles Street Team) on Etsy, so I decided to make two treasuries for the team, one featuring vintage sellers, and one featuring handmade items.  I don't think either of these galleries are front-page fodder (those that make it to the front page are usually highly thematic, which just wasn't possible with such diverse sellers), but they were fun to make and I hope it helps to promote my fellow team members.  Please check them out and enjoy!

LASTeam Vintage Sellers Treasury East

LASTeam Handmade Sellers Treasury East

Thursday, April 22, 2010

In and Out of Love... Or, I am Sometimes Fickle (with jewelry materials).

I began making jewelry because I love jewelry, but had a hard time finding pieces that I wanted to wear and could also afford. So, I taught myself the skills required and began creating wire-wrapped jewelry with glass, semi-precious and precious gemstones. Creating this type of jewelry was rewarding in that I loved using dainty amethyst, peridot, and citrine briolettes to create brilliantly colored earrings and necklaces. On the downside, wire-wrapping is pretty labor-intensive and there was often a lot of cursing involved as yet another little gem or tiny gold jump ring slipped out of my pliers’ grasp and rolled under my couch.

Although I still love and am proud of the wire-wrapped jewelry I created, I started to feel drawn to a different style of jewelry. I have one necklace that I absolutely love, bought in New Zealand that I have never found anything similar to. It is a heavy copper double chain with purple-mauve beads of different shapes and a large bell-shaped charm. This one necklace really felt like “me”, so I set out to create jewelry in a similar vein. I have also started noticing a lot of brass and copper necklaces with charms that I adore, so I recently began incorporating more charms into my pieces.  I like to put charms together that could have meaning for someone. For example, I think this necklace would be a great gift for a good friend who is leaving -- the hot air balloon signifying the journey and the heart representing your love that is going with them:

Or perhaps you need a little luck in love, or you have been very lucky in love and you want to express your gratitude for it with this heart and horseshoe:

This style of pendant can have meaning too -- love is a scary thing, and perhaps you need a reminder to be have courage and be brave.  Or perhaps you already are, and that is a wonderful thing:

What messages would you wear around your neck (and on your sleeve)?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Weekend Fun - Blueberry-Lemon Muffins and Necklaces

Another productive Sunday.  First, I ran 7.5 miles (12km).  This is the furthest I have ever run, but not the furthest I will ever run.  On June 5th, bar unforeseen horrible circumstances, I will be running the See Jane Run Half Marathon in Alameda, CA.  Wish me luck.

After the run, I went back to sleep.  That is the only reasonable response to running 7.5 miles.

Later:  I was very excited when I thought I came across a recipe for blueberry-lemon muffins on the blog "Musings of a Gem" recently. I say "I thought" because it's actually a recipe for blueberry OR lemon muffins, so I decided to adapt it to make the combination.  They are light, puffy, sweet, and completely devoid of nutritional goodness (bar the blueberries).  They should definitely be eaten warm with lashings of butter.  Everything is better with butter.  (And bacon.  And sour cream.  Though feel free to disagree with me on any of those).

Blueberry-Lemon Muffins (adapted from Musings of a Gem)

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup of white sugar
  • 1/2 cup of butter, melted
  • 1 medium egg, whisked
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 cup blueberries (I used 1/2 cup.  It needs more).
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind (could increase to 2t if desired)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • Preheat your oven to 350F (180c).
  • Lightly grease a 12-muffin pan.
  • In one bowl, combine the melted butter, whisked egg, and milk. 
  • In a second bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and baking powder.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and combine.
  • Add the blueberries, lemon rind, and lemon juice. Stir to combine.
  • Spoon the mixture evenly into the prepared muffin pan.  Fill 3/4 of the way (or more!) to get nice big muffins.
  • Bake for approx 20-30mins, or until golden brown and a knife comes out clean.  Mine took 23mins.
  • Cool in the pan on a rack for 15mins, then turn out onto the rack.

So I ate three four muffins today.  Purely so I could be sure this recipe was good enough to post. Oh shhh...

Later still:  I made more necklaces, and re-photographed some I already have up on Etsy.  I also took some more photos of me wearing them.  This is an interesting process.  I will spare you the extremely low-tech details.  They are not wonderful, but I think people want to know what the necklaces look like when worn, because giving measurements just isn't enough.  What do you think?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Daily Photo Project Update

I have managed to keep up with my daily photo project without missing a day since I missed Day 5.  Here are a few of my favorites since the last update:

3/29/2010:  The number 1 fell off my mailbox and I have yet to glue it back on. It's been sitting here on my counter for oh, at least six months...

4/1/2010:  The blossoms in the park near my house continue to amaze me with their perfectness.

4/5/2010:  A glass of water by my bed, sitting under the lamp for too long.

4/11/2010:  The park in the morning after a rare L.A. rain.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Etsy Favorite Finds

On Etsy, you can "heart" particular sellers and items.  These are kept in separate lists for you so you can revisit them (and purchase, if you so desire), and it lets the seller know that someone likes their store or that particular item.  Here are a few of my favorite items that I have hearted recently:

Who do you heart?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Lavender Cupcakes , Mais Oui!

Lavender cupcakes

I have had a productive Thursday evening...

I have had it in my head for a little while that I would like to make lavender cupcakes.  I found some culinary lavender at Whole Foods, and finally tried it tonight using this recipe and a basic buttercream frosting.

I'm not sure what I think about the results.  They are very, well, lavender-y. We'll have to see what the verdict is at the office tomorrow.  I did double the recipe but perhaps I shouldn't have doubled the lavender.

I also received some more supplies in the mail when I got home from work tonight, so I made and listed two new necklaces on Etsy.  I'm on a French kick with the jewelry, as you may have noticed...

Now, to bed, so I can get up and run in the morning.  It's almost the weekend!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Creating – The Journey So Far

I have always had a creative streak, which has alternately come to the forefront of my life and been deeply buried. After leaving high school, I worked as a florist for a couple of years. It feels so immodest to say, but I think I was fairly talented, and I had an eye for color and balance in bouquets. While I felt very creatively fulfilled in this field, I felt like the left side of my brain was starting to rot. I was working for an employer so had little to do with the running of the business, so eventually the lack of left-brain challenge got to me and I left to go to university. There I completed a BA in Education with a minor in Biological Anthropology, and eventually went on to get a Master’s degree. During this time, and in the 9-5 working life I've been in ever since, I didn’t seek a lot out of creative activities, and it’s only been in the last year that the urge really struck me again. I've been having a lot of fun with this -- baking more, dabbling in mixed media art and collage, learning to knit (well, just the one type of regular stitch, and made one scarf that I love, lumps and holes and all), sewing,needle felting, and soap making classes at the Urban Craft Center in Santa Monica (and many more to come, good lord I love that place), as well as teaching myself to make jewelry.  I am a terrible clock-watcher in most areas of my life, but in crafting I've finally found one realm in which I don't notice the time passing.  I can't wait to see where it takes me.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Super Fun Weekend Part One

I am a big fan of Joy Wilson's baking blog, and On the Lamb Food and Beverage, Joy's joint venture with Whitney Adams and Rachel Humphrey.  Today these ridiculously talented ladies held a free demonstration of strawberry deliciousness at Surfas in Culver City.

 Whitney Adams, Joy Wilson, and Rachel Humphrey. How cute are they?!!

First up was a fantastically refreshing strawberry-basil drink, that I am definitely going to make when the suffocating San Fernando Valley summer kicks in.  Next came strawberry and black pepper biscuits (scone-type things for my South Pacific readers) that were quickly inhaled along with a simple but delicious strawberry-arugula salad.  Finally, Joy's strawberry-banana cream pie (served as super cute mini-tartlets) was amazing, lactose-intolerance be damned...

How awesome is the setup at Surfas?! The TV screen and mirror are positioned so you can see exactly what's going on on the stove and counter. 

The ladies of On the Lamb have all sorts of upcoming shenanigans that I highly recommend you look into.  Just don't take my spot...

Before and after the demonstration, I was busy at my workbench making eight (!) new necklaces, two pairs of earrings, and a bracelet.  I am so motivated by the new supplies I bought, including some awesome hot-air balloon charms and Eiffel Tower charms that I hope you're going to love.  Here's a sneak peek, I'm aiming to get all the new pieces listed on Etsy tomorrow:

Hope you had a great start to the weekend also!  Tomorrow brings more crafty fun -- I'm going to learn to make hot-process soap, I've been wanting to do this for a long time.  Can't wait!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

One of my inspirations - Blossom Wedding Flowers.

The theme for We Scout Wednesdays over on Scoutie Girl is "Share a favorite" so today I'm introducing to you to someone who inspires me.  Emily Sweden is a floral designer in Auckland, New Zealand.  Emily and I first met as teenagers 11 years ago.  I was about to leave my first florist job (unable to take my evil boss anymore) and Emily was the poor soul training to take over from me.  After also being driven away by the evil boss, Emily went on to work for some of the top florists in the Auckland floristry scene, honing her exceptional eye for design and creative talent.  Emily then began focusing on wedding flowers, and started her own wedding flower business Blossom Wedding Flowers.  She has a knack for bringing a bride’s vision of her perfect wedding day arrangements to fruition.  Visit Emily’s website, become her friend on Facebook, and give her a call!  Here is just a tiny selection of her beautiful portfolio.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Raspberry Almond Cake

 I have a problem, and its name is Raspberry Almond Cake.  More specifically, my problem is that I cannot stop eating it.  Because I like you, I'm going to share it with you (well, the recipe):

But wait!  Before you run off and make it, which you should, if you have any sense at all, and then send me some, because mine is almost gone -- you need to know these three things:

1)  Double the recipe, or you will have one flat little cake;
2)  Add 2-3T milk (I used almond milk, because that's what I have, and it was fine) to the batter so it's not so thick and dough-like and you can spread it;
3)  You can use frozen raspberries, just drain them twice to get as much juice out of them as possible (drain them, then add the sugar and let them sit, then drain them again before you add them to the batter).

The smell of this cake baking almost drove me crazy.

You're welcome.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

New Listings, and My New Favorite Craft: Needlefelting!

I've had a very nice Saturday indeed.  It started off with the excitement of being featured on Kimberly Wilson's blog, then my wonderful friend Aimee came over and I made jewelry while she knitted and we listened to an episode of This American Life.

Later, I went to The Urban Craft Center in Santa Monica to take a needlefelting class.  Needlefelting involves poking at dyed, un-spun wool called "roving" with a sharp, barbed needle.  First we learned to make a little mouse:

And then we could make whatever our hearts desired.  With my bird fetish, of course I made this little friend:

It was so easy to learn, so quick, and so satisfying!  Each of these took about 45mins to make.  I bought some needlefelting supplies so expect to see more little woolly creations in the future :)

After I got home from the class (and photographed my new little friends), I listed these three necklaces on Etsy:  A wise owl, yellow birds, and a Boston Terrier.

Hope you had a great Saturday too!

Art & Clasp Featured on Tranquilista Kimberly Wilson's Blog!

I'm so excited and so grateful to the gorgeous yogini and entrepreneur Kimberly Wilson for showing my necklaces on her blog today.  I participated in one of her teleclasses and sent her two necklaces (the Eiffel Tower, because she loves all things Francais, and a pug, a tribute to her little Louis) as a thank you.  I have listened to Kimberly's podcasts (available on iTunes) for a few years now and adore both her books, Hip Tranquil Chick and the recently published Tranquilista. Kimberly is the sweetest spirit and downright inspiring and I am very appreciative of her wonderful work, and now this!

Now I have to get back to work -- I have some earrings ready to photograph and list on Etsy, and pendants ready to be set and strung.  I'll post these later!

Happy Saturday!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

More Goals - For Blogging

Taken straight from an excellent article on ProBlogger, here are 9 goals suitable for new bloggers such as myself. I think I will need a little more experience to know what would be a suitable Time frame in which to achieve these, but they are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, and Realistic!

1. Publish 10 Posts (done!)
2. Getting your first comment from someone you don’t know (done! Thanks Chrissy!)
3. Get your first link from another blog
4. Build your readership up to more than 20 readers a day
5. Hit a level of 20 RSS subscribers (I have 3 Google Connect Friends so far!)
6. Getting your blog indexed in Google (not sure how to find this out?)
7. Get your blog earning $1 a week (update: only if making money from your blog is one of your goals – it’s not for everyone) -- (I'd rather drive traffic to my Etsy store).
8. First guest post on another blog
9. Having someone (not you or your mum) tweet about your blog

Bloggers, have any more goals to add?