My grandfather was Dean of Architecture at the University of Florida.
He gave his students extra credit for helping build his family home in 1951. What you can't see from the picture below is what made it the coolest home in Florida before the popularity of air conditioning.
Each morning my grandfather took out a long pole and cranked open the front windows above the family room (you can see them on the front of the house in the first picture and my dad's family is standing under the windows from inside the house in the second picture). Then he would push the sliding glass doors that spanned the whole length of the back of the house into their pocket, opening up the family room to the screened-in porch creating a perfect cross breeze - and a much larger house. The three bed rooms also had pocket glass doors that opened up to the back porch.
The home was filled with mid-century modern furniture and accessories. So many great colors, lines, textures... all there for me to enjoy in the 70's and 80's when I would go visit.
Mid-century design is my inspiration - it makes my heart beat just little faster. That is what I strive for in my designs. Simple, but not minimal. Saturated colors that look great all by themselves or paired together. Complex textures. Modern style.
I love mixing different shapes and colors of Czech glass beads - come find me at a local Atlanta show to see the widest selection.
COME VISIT ME! I have significantly more inventory at shows than I do in my Etsy shop. And if you go to shows there are food trucks. FOOD TRUCKS.
Roswell Arts Festival 9/21 & 9/22
East Atlanta Strut 9/28
Marist Holiday Traditions - Nov 9
Apple Annie - Dec 6 & 7
My grandmother was born Anna Margurite Baker. She started school as "Anna Margurite" soon shortened to just Ann. I wish I knew how a little girl from Missouri got such an exotic name.
Maybe it was her middle name that gave her a passion for traveling. Everywhere she went, she brought a little piece of the world home with her. She collected horse brasses from the United Kingdom, purses from Greece, and exotic prints from Asia. I have a lantern in my backyard from her trip to Japan. She did not get it from Pier One. She was a true world shopper!
When my family would visit my grandparent's house my brother and I would stay in the room that my aunt grew up in. It was decorated with Mexican masks that would stare down at us as we slept. When we were really brave we would go from room to room and open up the cabinets (all built-ins from my grandfather) hoping to find some secret treasure. We only ever found one thing. Over and over. Dark, golden-yellow spines of a certain magazine that was never thrown away.
As for me, my passport is expired. But thanks to the internet and globetrotting bead vendors I get the thrill of world shopping, too. I love to design with beads from the other side of the world - the more exotic the better.
There is an endless array of beads and bead sellers around the world. It's rare that vendors actually know the people who make the beads or the process behind it.
I worked for years to find vendors who pay fair trade and care about the people and places in the world where their beads are made.
My natural beads from African are purchased from a vendor who knows the bead makers personally. They pay fair trade and often bring clothing and supplies to villages where they are needed. My main bead supplier for glass beads sends a portion of their profits to aiding women, children and animals in need around the world.
Last summer I started looking for new materials to use for my 2017 collections. The number one item I wanted was high-quality wood beads. It took a couple of months - but I found a wonderful supplier who works with a family in the Philippines. They have been creating wood beads for 30 years - cutting, turning and polishing the beads by hand. When you see these beads in person you can really see the difference from what you might get in a craft store.
When you support me, you support my great vendors and the wonderful artists who make my beads as well. Thank you.
Jewelry (unless it is plastic, textile or on elastic) has metal in it. We are all familiar with platinum, silver, gold and sterling silver - but what about those others ones - those not-so-precious metals we wear everyday?
If you care about what goes IN your body you should care about what goes ON your body. Mysteries make great novels - but no one wants the metal on your skin all day to be a mystery.
When I was a new designer I just about went crazy. What was this stuff from China labeled "metal"? In my personal life I investigated safe household cleansers, make-up, even my conditioner is gluten free! I should certainly be able to find safe jewelry findings.
I now design with natural brass. I know exactly what the metal is (85% copper and 15% zinc) and it's made in the USA! I buy directly from the manufacturer - the brass is lead-free, nickel-free and aged by an eco-friendly process.
It's so nice to design with peace of mind!
I have a great love for good illustration. In my upcycled art pendants I cut out pictures from vintage books and postcards. The images are then sealed in jewelers grade resin. Each necklace also comes with a scanned copy of the original book page or postcard so you can see where your little flower or bumble bee or historic building came from.
I never met my grandmother. She passed away before I was born, but I know her through her creations. She sewed. Many people did back then, but I can't imagine they all made dresses with such detail - rows and rows of ruffles in pale pink with blue velvet bows. Or the Spanish dancer dress she made for my mother for Halloween (pictured below).
Many people sew for necessity - for utility. But I think for her it was something more. It makes you feel special to have a dress no one else has. I recently made myself a long beaded necklace with 97 rare vintage Swarovski pagoda beads. It's an amazing necklace, but what I secretly love about it is the fact that you can't have one. You would have trouble finding another one in the world. The designs I sell are also one of a kind - I think you'll feel the same way about owning something no one else has.
My mother is a creator as well. For my birthday she invented a way to bling out the candles on my cake with wired crystals. She also made a wreath featuring the silhouettes of Washington, Lincoln and me for my President's Day birthday.
When I first started designing it became sort of a joke. Someone would complement my necklace and I'd say, "Oh, I made it." Pretty soon we were all saying "I made it" when someone noted our shoes, shirts... whatever. I think if you are from a family of creators that's just what you do.
I love that Czech glass beads have such a unique vintage look. These definitely have some shine - but nothing as busy as your neighbor’s holiday light display. These are wonderful, high-quality glass beads that you can wear to add a little sparkle all season long.
Wherein a WWII vet maybe unknowingly helps his granddaughter cheat on her chemistry exam.
My grandfather taught chemistry at the University of Florida. I remember seeing pieces of lab materials on his bookcase long after he had retired.
I, on the other hand, do not really love chemistry. Maybe it's because I had such a bad teacher in high school. He was, in fact, so terrible that no matter how we all cheated in class we could not get the answers correct. For the midterm exam we were allowed to use open notes and have a second day to complete the test. I wrote down the questions in my notebook and got the answers from my grandfather over the phone that night - not telling him it was for a test. (This was the first time I cheated. I asked my mom for permission. I am a rules person - this is what we do - trust me). I think I got a B.
When I started making jewelry I was quickly disappointed with the metals I found available at craft stores. I had no idea what they were and the Made in China label did not put my mind at ease. Eventually I found a company right here in the good ole U S of A that manufactures natural brass - just when you thought we didn't make anything in this country anymore! It is nickel-free, lead-free compliant and made by an eco-friendly process. Cu + Zn (85% copper and 15% zinc) - my grandfather would be thrilled.
Back to chemistry class in 1988... on the last day of school one of our classmates stole a cake from the grocery store where he worked and gave it to our teacher. He wrote on it E=MC2. (Which is a physics equation - that's how much we learned that year). Nevertheless our teacher was thrilled! We all got A's on our final exam. Sometimes having cake is better than having all the right answers.
Two things I wanted to add to my collections this year were high-quality wood beads and metal fringe.
So glad I took the time to search for these wonderful new beads to share with you - hand-made/fair-trade wood beads from the Philippines. Read more about them in my fair-trade section.
Also, excited to find just the right chain to use in my fringe necklaces. The first one I made I kept for my self - it's modern and edgy - just what I had hoped for.
I design costume jewelry that is a cut above what you will find in any store that sell mass-produced goods. When you see the materials in person you can tell the difference. The price is higher because you get quality materials that are produced by people who are paid a fair wage in a safe environment.
A portion of my profits go to fund micro-loans for craftspeople around the world through Kiva. I have currently helped fund 20 loans. For more information on how you can end the cycle of poverty go to: www.KIVA.org.
When I was little I loved jewelry. I would take it apart, play with the beads, then put it back together. When I didn't have any beads, I made them out of palm frond strands from my back yard.
I was blessed to go to high school before budgets were slashed and I took a class in jewelry fabrication. That's where I learned to use wire working tools and that I have no desire to make a bezel ever again.
After my children were old enough to be alone in a room without killing themselves, I picked up beading and jewelry design as a hobby and it quickly became a business to fund my bead obsession.
That's my curriculum: the challenges and joys of designing and sharing what I make with the world.