Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Word for Wednesday: Karma

Events of the past week have had me thinking about karma.  I try to live a purposeful life and to treat people with honesty and respect. It annoys me when colleagues are more careless with the feelings and attitudes of those they interact with, especially when those others are people that I care for.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Word for Wednesday: Serenity


Boredom is the feeling that everything is a waste of time; serenity, that nothing is.
Thomas Szasz

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Saturday Style: Mixing Patterns

Fabric bundle by fabrictofabric on etsy.
Mixing prints and patterns in fashion and home decor is quite a skill. It requires a deliberate plan and a good eye to pull off the look.
Too little and it's a nonstatement.
Too much and you are ready for a turn under the Big Top.
I have been working on incorporating more pattern into my wardrobe and have picked up a few hints from people who possess the look that I am trying to achieve.

The easiest way to get started is to choose a color. Color will be your unifying factor. Choose 2 or more prints that feature your color of choice and see how they complement one another. A great example of this technique is this fun little purse by etsy seller RoseThreads. Amy has used bright orange to marry 2 bold floral prints and achieve mixed pattern success.
Even electric orange can be a unifying color.
The second key to mixed pattern success is varying the print sizes.  Do you have a bold stripe? Try paring it with a floral that is more delicate in design. These pillows by ChloeAndOliveDotCom provide an excellent example. Sisters Chloe and Olive use their combined experience in graphic and interior design to create home decor with fashion sense. Bold stripe and graphic print with delicate detail, definite success.
Varied print sizes will make it work.

There are a few more guidelines to make sure that your fashion attempt doesn't fall flat.
Be careful of the amount of fabric in your ensemble. A flowing skirt is great but pair it with a fitted top.   Ruffled blouse with big sleeves? Try skinny pants or a pencil skirt.

Your new look is bold. You don't want to look like a theme.
Love animal prints? Great. Stick to one at a time.
Orange, black and bold will resemble Halloween.
Red white and blue? Maybe for Fleet Week.

Accessorize with care. try a scarf, hat or belt within your chosen color or in direct contrast to it.  Keep your jewelry subtle. No big chunky necklaces here. Try a few bangle bracelets and a pair of drop earrings in antiqued silver or copper to complement your boho chic look.
TheWhistlingGypsy has it all together in this ensemble that features an upcycled miniskirt of her own design.
TheWhistlingGypsy has achieved mixed pattern success, you can too.

Look through your closet and drawers. Is there a particular color that you have a lot of?
Lay those items next to one another on the bed. (Kick the cat out of your room first) Put away the solids.
Bold pattern?  Find one that is less so. Like the combination? Good.
Fabric volume check. Good?
Accessories? Good to go.

One more thing. You are making a statement here. Don't let the clothes wear you. Own the look.
Shoulders back.
Hips forward.
You're on.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Word for Wednesday: Bobcat

I promise to do my best, to do my duty to God and my Country to help
other people at all times and to obey the law of the pack.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Treasury Tuesday

I keep sailing on in this middle passage. I am sailing into the wind and the dark. But I am doing my best to keep my boat steady and my sails full.
Arthur Ashe

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Saturday Style: Biker Chique

2011 fashion trends are combining lovely feminine colors with boldly dramatic motorcycle related accents.  The military style influences of the last few years have evolved. Enter Biker Chique.
I am seeing black leather in vests and bags, big chunky boots with fun accents, and belts with studs and rivets. Zippers are making a statement as fashion accents and quilted fabrics are new again.
This is not the grungy motorcycle look of a previous decade but a more sophisticated way to express your fashion. You don’t have to be a Biker Chick to be Biker Chique.

Your motorcycle jacket doesn’t have to be made of black leather. Be adventurous with style in a tan organic cotton twill motorcycle inspired jacket like this one designed by  Reifhous.

Forget about the black leather pants. You can rock these handcrafted black leggings with your kitten heels.
The leggings are available at Duende74 . They are made to order so you can choose whether to have the detailing on the back or the side of the ankle.

On a recent visit to New York we saw an incongruous combination of girly dresses and chunky footwear. It worked! Try adding these upcycled boots to an ensemble that includes your favorite flirty skirt. They are available from WithoutBustles.

A great way to incorporate biker style into your wardrobe is through the use of accessories.
I fell in love with this rich chocolate brown holster bag. It is called the Peacemaker and is available from the designer,  MadCapClothing.

Or warm your hands with biker style on those cool Summer evenings with these lacy fingerless gloves available from ZenandCoffee.

Don’t forget the jewelry. This hammered cuff by Colla could grace the arm of the fiercest biker fashion.

This silver chainmaille bracelet with black and red crystals by Galadryl will add some glam to your black leather.

So what do you think readers? Is Biker Chique in your future?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Word for Wednesday: Dream

We all have our own life to pursue, our own kind of dream to be weaving. And we all have some power to make wishes come true, as long as we keep believing.

- Louisa May Alcott

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Treasury Tuesday

When once you have tasted fight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.     Leonardo DaVinci

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Saturday Style: 1970's Fashion Influence

Saturday Style: 1970's Fashion Influence

Do you remember the maxi dress?
Was your closet full of flare leg jeans?
Did you own a jumpsuit?
Or does your only exposure to 70's fashion come from reruns of
Charlie's Angels and Three's Company on Nick at Night?

The 1970's are back.
Influencing fashion that is.

2011 fashion trends are feminine and ladylike featuring wider pants and flowing, silky fabrics. Floaty
fluid silhouettes are paired with platform shoes and bold chunky jewelry in a girly style called
 boho chic.
This years wonderful color palette that includes honeysuckle pinkcoral rose and beeswax
are wonderful in vibrant prints, horizontal stripes and geometric designs.

Let a little retro chic into your life.
Still love your skinny jeans? Add a top with a asymmetric neckline and your big Foster Grants.
Can't let go of your favorite fitted top? Pair it with a pair of wide leg linen pants and some glam
dangling earrings.
Maxi dress? Let it shine with heeled sandals and a long chain necklace.
Embrace fringe on your big purse and layer on those bangle bracelets.

Welcome back 70's.
I don't know if I am ready to wear pajama pants out in public,
but if I have to see people wearing them in the grocery store
I would rather they be satiny and luxe than flannel and covered with cartoon characters.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

September Blog Carnival: What's on Your Workmat?

Prioritized project: Fingerless gloves waiting for embellishment.

It's confession time.
Septembers Starving Jewelry Artist's Blog Carnival topic is What's on your workmat? 
Hello my name is Bonnie and I ponder and start and work on many projects at one time.
My brain works faster than my hands can keep up.
A new idea can be inspired by a current project, a picture in a magazine, the color of a sunset, a dream, or a great piece of hardware from a salvage shopping trip.  I feel the need to capture the brainstorm in a concrete manner so that it doesn't slip away. That compulsion translates to multiple mats.
A mental health professional might call this flight of ideas.
I call it creativity.
Skary skulls. Off the mat!
Just finished: an entire Halloween collection of Spooky spiders and Skary skulls in every color of the rainbow. Off the Mat!
In progress: a chainmaille bracelet done except for the clasp that is for the Visions of Hope fundraising event to benefit our hospitals Cancer Treatment Center. The bracelet is on the mat because the crystals in it are pink and I am almost sure that they want to be black. I am waiting for them to decide.
Then there is the "stack-o-mats", a pile of nesting plastic boxes that each holds a project.
1. Viking knit. Always on the mat, and a favorite on the go project for long car trips. (Fred insists on doing all the driving anyway.)
2. Special order for a wedding. On the mat until I find the right color blue beads to finish them.
Necklaces: still on the mat.
3. A pearl and rhinestone bracelet waiting for me to have the patience to string all those tiny beads. Still on the mat.
4. A pair of beautiful fingerless gloves (hand knit by my daughter Lissa) that I am embellishing with beads and salvage to wear at shows. On the mat since May when I received the gloves. Now that the weather is cooler these are a priority.
5. A series of necklaces with acrylic donuts as the focal point. On the mat to be finished before our next show on October 8Th.

I am looking forward to finishing up some of these projects and fessing up has made me prioritize them.
Fabulous photos of completed projects to follow.

Projects in waiting, otherwise known as "Stack-o-mats".
To read what other Starving jewelry Artists have to say about this topic visit:
Bead Sophisticate

Monday, September 12, 2011

Frightful Fashion

Skary Skulls by The FamiLee Jewels on Etsy
Crisp mornings, advertisements featuring cuddly sweaters, and yellow school buses herald the approaching change of seasons. This is a beautiful time of year in the Northeastern United States. Soon our trees will be bright with shades from gold to scarlet, asters will be blooming and the smell of wood fires will once again become part of our environment. All of these things signal to me that Halloween is near. Halloween is one of my favorite Holidays. It brings out the silly child in me. I love the decorations, the costumes and of course the treats!
Dia de los Muertos dress by ChaoticCouture
Consider this romantic Day of the Dead ChaoticCouture22 on Etsy. It's amazing pearl encrusted bodice gives it a sugar skull appearance that is enhanced by the designers use of burnt edges. You will be the most beautiful ghoul at the party.

It even comes with a burned red rose bouquet and black lace mantilla style veil decorated with more red roses of course.

Handmade leather mask by Ken Osborne
Consider this handcrafted leather mask in fabulous flame colors by Etsy seller kennosborne.  Each of their masks is a unique work of wearable art and will make a most mysterious statement. 

Kennosborne represents a husband (Ken) and wife (Becky) team of artists whose favorite materials include "anything we can get our hands on."

Skeleton arm warmers by LadyLotus

Wear "dem bones" on the outside with theses funky arm warmers/fingerless gloves by LadyLotus.  These arm warmers are made from recycled T shirt fabric, projects that didn't turn out the way the Lady wanted them to.  What a great use of material!
Scary or funky, sexy or bold costumes are a delightful way to celebrate the season. 

Who are you going to be for Halloween this year?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The FamiLee Jewels are packing up the store and taking the show on the road. This weekend you can find us in Lake George New York at the Adirondack Nationals car show.
Adirondack Nationals is an annual event held by Albany Rods and Kustoms. Classic cars literally take over the town. There are parades and contests all weekend long.
The FamiLee Jewels will be located in the Women's Oasis in the Fort William Henry Conference Center , the same space we have occupied for the last several years.
We will be there Friday and Saturday 7-5.
Come spend a perfect Fall day in beautiful Lake George NY, be amazed by classic cars and stop in to the Women's Oasis to say hi!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Happy Birthday Freddy

Happy Birthday Freddy.
Four years ago this afternoon I watched you be born and got to hold you for the very first time.  Oh my goodness everyone held you that day. You are so lucky to have so many people that love you.
Freddy I can't believe that you are such a big boy now.
You can ride a scooter.
You can have sleepovers.
You can wear underpants.
You can make a cake.
You can play games with the grown ups.
You can play Mario like a champ.
You can even hike a trail and even climb a mountain.

I love you little man.
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday dear Freddy
Happy Birthday to you.
Cha Cha Cha!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Beauty is a back yard water garden.
We are deep in the midst of a wonderful Summer. The flowers are blooming, veggies are growing nicely and colorful birds and dragonflies are populating the yard. The tadpoles in the pond have grown legs and now rest on the lily pads as their tails grow shorter daily.
I can't get enough of being outside and enjoying the sun. My day begins with birdsong as I walk around the garden and drink a morning cup of coffee and isn't complete until I have heard the peepers singing me to sleep.
Weekends are spent walking a new trail or on quiet water in the kayaks.
Jewelry made during these months, when I can make myself stay inside and work, is influenced by the dragonflies and birds I admire daily.

Baby frogs grow larger day by day.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Organized? Not!

The Dream of Organization.
Organization is so overrated.
It is something that I aspire to but rarely live up to.
It is a struggle to keep my work room orderly when the brain works several projects ahead of the hands.
I have neatly labeled bins and boxes.  Books filed according to topic and drawers are full of tools and supplies according to their use and type.
The Reality of my Workspace.
Living on top of these impossible dreams is a layer of my latest projects, at least a months worth of receipts, and  stock waiting to be put away from my last show or shopping trip.
My intentions are pure, but life gets in the way.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

June Blog Carnival: Using Other's Work

I love using other peoples work in my designs. The Salvage jewelry that I make is a celebration of the artistry of another era. One where fine craftsmanship and attention to detail were prized. I do not know these artists of old but I seek out their work in unlikely places. My favorite shopping and collecting spots are architectural salvage yards, flea markets, garage sales, fossil and mineral shows, piles of "stuff" washed up on the beach, and junk drawers. I have been known to cause a pedestrian traffic jam in the city by stopping to pick up an interesting bit of trash.
The necklace pictured above is made up of the inner gears and plate of a vintage watch. Note the etched detail of the company name on the part itself. That lovely detail was hidden inside the watch case. Only the maker saw it.
Trilobite Fossil wrapped in brass.
Bless the fossil collector that dug this amazing trilobite specimen out of the Wheeler shale formation. I have tried rock collecting with picks and shovels, it's not for me. I am happy to leave it to an expert like my source friend in Utah.
Zipper Hoop earrings

These earrings were made from an old metal garage sale zipper. I have been known to purchase a garment for the appearance of the zipper and/or buttons.

Saints be Praised Bracelet

Old religious medals are some of my favorite components. These little treasures are beautifully made and full of meaning. I love finding them in the bottom of the sale bins or 10 cent buckets at garage sales.

Rhinestone and Pearl Bracelet.
One of my favorite sources of other peoples work is broken vintage jewelry. The rhinestones in this bracelet used to be a shoe clip. Old chains, lonely earrings and broken vintage watches all find their way into the workroom.
Other peoples work, incorporated into my own is a large part of the signature style of The FamiLee Jewels.

To read what other Starving jewelry Artists have to say about the subject visit:
Island Girl
Jewelry Art by Dawn

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Life Lesson Learned?

I have fought a battle with weight all of my adult life.
The pounds crept up and my activity level became more sedate.
I worked long hours often on overnight shift.
I am terrible at portion control.
I have gained and lost enough to make at least 2 of me over the years.

2009 at my heaviest weight
Last year I was forced to admit that my weight was affecting my ability to do the things I wanted to do in life. Theater and Airline seats were tight, and I became short of breath with moderate exertion. 

I made the decision that I needed to do something. Thought about surgery and discarded that idea. Considered going back to Atkins or Weight Watchers but had tried both before, lost weight and then put it all back on again plus more.

Luray Caverns, May 2011
Enter Medifast. I met a neighbor that had lost 60 pounds using it and had become a life coach because she believed so strongly in the product.  BJ gave me the push that I needed to get started. To date I have lost 87 pounds and 10 sizes.

I have energy and exercise tolerance and recently climbed a (small) Adirondack mountain with the family. The effort would have given me a heart attack a year ago.

During the last year I have learned to modify my eating habits. This is not a diet it is a lifestyle. I have learned to think of food as fuel rather than as a source of pleasure and satisfaction.
I will reach my goal of a BMI of 24 in 9 more pounds.
I believe that I have learned enough to successfully navigate transition and maintainence without backsliding. It will take the rest of my lifetime to know for sure.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Gettysburg Inspired Jewelry

photograph of napoleon cannons on a sunny afternoon in Gettysburg Virginia
Napoleon cannon at Gettysburg

Fred and I spent several days last month exploring the Civil War battlefields of Pensylvania Maryland and West Virginia.

Gettysburg where  brother fought against brother.
Antietem where  23 thousand soldiers were injured or killed in a 12 hour period.
Harpers Ferry whose strategic location made it a frequent site for skimishes that made the town inhabitable for those who called it home.
Gettysburg Address

During our journey I indulged my passion for making and collecting pressed pennies.
When we got home I turned them into a bracelet.

copper bracelet made with a pressed penny with image of crossed civil war swords
Gettysburg Penny Bracelet

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Vacation or how to relax and recharge

The state of North Carolina Monument was sculpted using photographs of
soldiers that fought at Gettysburg.
 Vacation.....I know that I am seriously dating myself but I can't think of the word without picturing Connie Francis singing V A C A T I O the summer sun.
The word itself makes me smile and fills me with excited anticipation. I get almost as much enjoyment out of planning vacations as I do going on them.  Fred and I enjoy traveling and make an effort to enjoy the journey as much as the destination.
We had the pleasure last month of attending the wedding of a wonderful young couple in suburban Georgia northwest of Atlanta. We knew it would be a weekend full of love, laughter, family and friends. We received the save the date notice over the winter holidays. It didn't take us long to decide to turn the trip into one of our little adventures.
2011 marks the 150th Anniversary of the start of the Civil War. Visiting the battlefields of Gettysburg has been on our wanna do list for quite a while. We decided that this was the year to do it.
We spent the early Spring months reading Civil War literature and watching movie series such as Gettysburg and The Blue and the Gray. We had lively discussions about our reading because we studied American history differently. Fred was raised in New York where the focus  of Civil War history was on slavery. I was raised in the South where the focus was on economics!

Brigadier General Gouverneur Kemble Warren

We spent 3 beautiful sunny days in mid May on the battlefields in Gettysburg and Antietam with a side trip to Harpers Ferry. The feeling of standing on those hallowed grounds is indescribable. Our research and the photographs and museum displays that we saw made it personal. The sense of loss is overwhelming. Imagining combatants who a few years earlier were friends, family members and neighbors standing half a cornfield apart and firing weapons at one another brought tears to the eyes. Realizing the tremendous sacrifice that our ancestors experienced to keep our country united was humbling.
V A C A T I O N.  
It doesn't always mean lounging on the beach or camping in the mountains, although I enjoy and highly recommend both of those pursuits. Experiencing a new place and stimulating a different part of my brain are great ways to relax and recharge.
View from the watch tower at Antietam, site of Bloody Lane.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Learning from Failure

The road to the top includes steep grades and difficult terrain.
Failure is not an option.
Being a jewelry artist can be difficult. The competition is fierce. There are thousands of aspiring jewelers of all kinds the world over. Many of them have amazing talent and original designs.  One of my most difficult tasks has been trying to find a way to be noticed in the crowd.
This year I have applied to larger and more competitive juried art and craft shows.  The applications were more involved and I made every effort to have my wording and photographs be good representations of my style. I was wait listed for my top 2 choices of shows. They were "saturated" with jewelry applications and although they "appreciated" my "unique work" had no room for me "at this time".
I was crushed, disappointed in my effort, and left feeling defensive about my abilities.

It is time to stop feeling sorry for myself. Next year those applications will have professional photographs and an application that includes a resume and press packet. In the meantime I will continue to develop other outlets for The FamiLee jewels including home parties, on line sales and gift shops.

April Blog Carnival: Using Color

This salvage necklace uses aged patinas and texture
rather than color to create the intended mood.
Most of my work is monochromatic. I use aged patinas and various textures to create jewelry with a sense of history. My salvage pieces are intended to have  a dark and mysterious aura to fit the Victorian/Industrial nature of their design.
Color makes an strong statement. Choosing the appropriate  one to complement the mood of the piece is important.
Black and white are the most common colors that I use. Black crystals, beads made of onyx and obsidian, gleaming pearls, and clear quartz all make lovely accents.
Purple in a warm but muted amethyst color has become a favorite to work with. The rich color suggests mystery, intrigue and spirituality,
Dark and dramatic this black agate slice is wrapped in bronze
wire and encrusted with beads of the same color.

A jewel of the sea in bright bottle green.
Color makes a bolder statement in my wire wrapped pieces. Here you will find colorful slices of agate and those lovely gems of the sea, beach glass. These uncommon jewelry components exhibit bold and happy colors. They are wrapped  in bronze, copper or sterling silver wire and sometimes encrusted with metal beads but I rarely add other color to the design.

This post is part of a blog carnival.   Read how other Starving jewelry Artists use color in their work by following the links below.
This Northern Girl
Island Girl
Bead Sophisticate
Jeane's Jems and Jewels

Sunday, April 24, 2011

April Has Been Very Very Good to Us!

Especially if you leave our never ending cold Spring weather out of the equation.
April brought the inaugural edition of Our Towne Malta, a monthly publication that concentrates on our community and shares information about local events and businesses.

We were very excited to be featured as one of those businesses. Colleen Pierre, managing editor, was impressed with our use of salvaged and found objects finding it a unique method of recycling. See page 16 of the April edition to read the article.

April also found us making our reservation for shows for the rest of the year. We are happy to report that we will be returning to 3 of our old favorites Art on Lark, Adirondack Nationals, and Goold Orchards.
We have also learned of a new opportunity here in Malta called the Malta Drive In Market. Our local 2 screen Drive In movie theater is going to have a great new market on Sundays beginning May 22. It will feature local artisans and a farmers market as well as antique and collectibles dealers. The FamiLee Jewels will be there once a month this Summer, will you?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

WIP: Gauntlets

My daughter Melissa is teaching herself to knit. She has crocheted for years making blankies and scarves and hats for many of us in the FamiLee.

Knitting has woken in her a creative passion. She has found the joy of not merely following a pattern.  Lissa is learning to make a project her own by  imposing her own ideas on it.

I am the lucky recipient of a soft and lovely pair of her gauntlets. I love wearing these fingerless gloves when we do Fall and Winter shows. They keep my hands warm while allowing my fingers the freedom to make adjustments in clasps or changes in necklace length that are often associated with their purchase.
Melissa knows me well and appreciates the dark brass and copper colors that I prefer to work with. She made the gauntlets in a soft and muted amethyst color that complements these metals. Lis also left the embellishment off the pair and instructed me to finish them in a way that will showcase both of our talents.
I have sorted through some likely beads, salvaged hardware and findings and am working on a plan.
Welcome to my Work in Progress.

My soft and lovely yet unadorned gauntlets.