Friday, October 19, 2012

Handmade Has A Heart And Soul

I recently had a really cool customer contact me with a special request.  He needed a gift for his girl and he needed it like now.  He said he understood these things take time and my time was valuable but he would be willing to pay extra to make this happen. 

Woah!  Who says stuff like this anymore?  I knew this guy appreciated handmade and I needed to accommodate him. 
I mean really, he could just walk into a store and get something.  But he wanted my something. 

So, as I was making his piece I decided to document the journey. 
I don't think many people realize what goes into handmade.  The care we take, the thought we put into it, and the time.  It takes a long time.  Like a really long time.  Or maybe I'm just slow.  See for yourself. 

This particular piece was a Hebrew Name Necklace.
I started by sawing the letters into a piece of silver...

Then I cut the excess silver off the edges and filed it into the desired shape...

Next, I cut another bigger piece of silver for this piece to sit on, stamped the back, did my "trashing", then prepared them both for soldering.  The piece with the letters was turned upside down, heated, and fluxed.  Tiny pieces of solder were placed around the edges...

Then out came the torch...

The piece was heated until the solder flowed. 
This piece was then placed on top of the bigger piece and they were both heated until the solder flowed again and the pieces were permanently connected...
Now it's into the pickle pot for a warm acid bath...
After about 20 minutes or so the piece comes out, gets rinsed off, sanded and more filing if necessary.  A hole is then drilled in the top for the bail attachment.  Next the piece gets oxidized, brushed with steel wool, and buffed to a nice satin finish. 

In the home stretch now, the bail and chain are attached and it's officially a necklace!
Now for photographs, packaging, and shipping. 

Are you bored yet?  See, I told you this takes a long time!

There will never be another piece exactly like this one because it was made with my hands and not stamped out by a machine.  And honestly, I couldn't do it exactly the same again if my life depended on it. 

So, the next time you're buying something for yourself or as a gift think about what kind of message you want to send.  You're unique, you have a heart and a soul and what you wear should should too. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pumpkin Love

It's my favorite season and the yearly pumpkin obsession has begun!
This is the time of year I come to life.  The oppressive heat has lifted and I can finally wear boots again (my shoe of choice).  I can spend time outdoors enjoying the crisp air and amazing colors without melting. 
And Dunkin Donuts brings back their Pumpkin Coffee.   
Boots and Pumpkin Coffee...what could be better?!

Every Fall I feel the need to feed my pumpkin obsession. 
Last year I bought this amazing face scrub by BellaRoma...

It seriously smells so good you will want to lick your own face. 

I also bought one of these kick ass hand blown glass pumpkins from my friend Angela's shop, A&J Jewelry Designs.

These are so beautifully made that I kept mine out all year. 
He may need a new friend soon though :)

This year I bought this ridiculously delicious smelling candle from Anhoki's Place.

It's natural, organic, and makes my place smell like I actually baked something (ha!)

And how cool is this?!
I've purchased a few amazing products from Wicked Soaps in the past and just stumbled upon this.I've always loved horror and creepy stuff and was fascinated by Ichabod Crane as a child. 
This is so going in my cart!

So take a minute and enjoy this season.  Before you know it we'll be all bundled up and complaining about the cold. 
Happy Fall Everyone!!!!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Procrastinate...who me?

Tomorrow September 6th, 2012 is National Fight Procrastination Day.
I had no idea either, but apparently this is a real thing.

I am the self-declared queen of procrastination!  I will wait and wait and wait until I'm totally stressed out.  But that's when I do my best work.  I just can't seem to get anything done if I try to do it right away.  I'm sure it annoys those type A personalities out there but I just can't help it. 

Like today, for instance.  I've been meaning to do this thing for the longest time.  I decided today would be the day.  I'm not sure why I chose today but I did.  And of course, here it is after 8pm and I just now finished it. 
But it's a really cool thing and I'm super excited!

I enrolled in classes at The Gemological Institute of America!!
I'll be working towards receiving a Graduate Gemologist Diploma. 

Me hard at work on the GIA website. 
Well, not really working yet since I just enrolled, but humor me.

I know I'm not alone in my procrastination.  I know there are others of you out there that totally get me.  We may wait until the last minute, but we will always get it done. 
And usually better than everyone else anyway ;)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

MTV Movie Awards Goodness

This post is a long time coming but better late than never, right?
So, a few weeks ago some of my jewelry was displayed at The Artisan Group's exhibit at the GBK Produtions MTV Movie Awards Gift Lounge.  There were a ton of fun young celebs that showed up. 
I was lucky enough to have two gorgeous ladies pose with my Talisman Necklace.

Renee Olstead
Emma Greenwell

The first celeb to pose with my necklace was the multi-talented Renee Olstead, known for her role on The Secret Life of the American Teenager as well as her superb singing ability.  (I have to say I used to watch her way back when on Still Standing though.)
The second celeb was Emma Greenwell of Shameless.  I love her effortless boho style.  Totally my kind of girl!

Then, to top it all off, the super sweet and beautiful Ms. Kirby Bliss Blanton from the movie Project X wore not one, but two of my Boho Antique Brass Necklaces on the MTV Movie Awards Red Carpet!!  

Kirby Bliss Blanton Photo by: PR Photos

I'm so honored that she chose my necklace out of all the swag she received from the gift lounge.  And I LOVE that she wore two of them at the same time!

This was such a fun event and has brought recognition to my business that could not have been achieved on my own.  A huge thanks to Valerie of The Artisan Group, as well as all the other Artisans who helped make this event such a huge success!  Your hard work and support is much appreciated.  

And for those of you who are still reading this...
I'm offering a special discount on my Talisman Necklace.  Use coupon code MTVMA20 to receive 20% off this item through July 8th, 2012.  

Peace & Love my friends...

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Joshua Staar and Autumn Bradley Go On Tour...

I'm going on tour!
Well, my jewelry is at least. 

I've recently teamed up with Joshua Staar, a Chicago-based musician, to create a couple of pieces for his upcoming tour. 
He approached me a few weeks ago with some ideas.  After a few conversations, a vision, and a torch this is what we came up with...

Pretty cool, right?

I had a blast collaborating with Josh on these.  It's always so awesome when music and metal come together, and this is our version of just that. 

If you would like to have a little piece of our collection they can be purchased exclusively on Josh's tour. 
Can't make it out?  You can still get your hands on these by contacting Josh.  
For more info visit his site

Be sure to check out Josh's music on...
and like him on...
and follow him on...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Earth Day 2012

One of my favorite holidays is coming...Earth Day! 
I love that there's a day dedicated to the Earth (even though I think everyday should be) so I decided to make a piece of jewelry to honor this. 
Actually 30 pieces, but we'll get to that.

I wanted this piece to be as eco-friendly as possible and something that would remind people to do their part to keep the Earth clean.  I decided on an awareness ribbon bracelet made from recycled sterling silver, handmade paper beads (made from leftover wrapping paper), and 100% natural biodegradeable hemp. 

I mean, a person couldn't litter on the street or throw their recylables into the regular garbage while wearing this thing right?  It would be right there staring at them, making them feel guilty!!  :)

With my design down I was ready to begin working on my 30 pieces. I started by making the paper beads.  Mom contributed by sending me some leftover green wrapping paper.  I cut the paper into strips, glued, rolled, and sealed.  After a few days of drying they were ready to use.
In the meantime, I kept myself busy by sawing out 30 tiny ribbons and 30 tiny rectangles.  After many, many hours of sawing, filing, & trashing, they were ready for soldering.  Then I wove and wove and wove.  Finally, my 30 bracelets were finished!

These 30 pieces, along with work from an elite group of artists from The Artisan Group, will be combined to make up a fabulous gift bag for some of Hollywood's most high-profile environmentally concious celebrities including...
  Jeremy Piven, Tom Hanks, Bill Maher, Adrian Grenier, Kate Bosworth, P!nk, Leonardo DiCaprio, Dave Matthews, Rosario Dawson, Woody Harrelson, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Daryl Hannah, Drew Barrymore, Ellen DeGeneres, Orlando Bloom, Jake Gyllenhaal, Josh Hartnett, Sting, Barbra Streisand, Alicia Silverstone, Courteney Cox, Cameron Diaz, KT Tunstall, Mark Ruffalo, and Edward Norton.

So yeah, I'm pretty excited for the opportunity to contribute to this event. 
I'm also beyond honored that my bracelets will be included with the work of these talented artists...

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Spring has Sprung...

It's blogroll time again!
My Aspiring Metalsmiths Team has decided to write about how Spring affects our work as metalsmiths.

My winter days in New York are filled with dark colors, skulls, and spikes sprinkled with a bit of sparkle here and there.  But then again, so are my summer days.  I guess the only thing that really changes is just an occassional pop of color and a slightly more bohemian vibe. 

Here are a couple of examples of the latest additions to my Spring Collection...

Talisman Necklace
(see there's a little color...very little but it's there!)

Custom request from a customer
(if you look closely you'll see a tiny flash of blue in the stone.  just ignore the spikes)

Resin & Antiqued Brass Necklace
(a full on light color!  oh and more spikes, but whatever)

Still a little dark, but that's me.  No sense in trying to change it :)

Take a look at how my fellow metalsmiths feel about Spring...

Steph Stargell
Pennee - All Wired Up Jewelry Designs
Contemporary Jewelry by Beatriz Fortes
Jessica @ Abella Blue
Sylvia Anderson
Amy Estelle

Monday, March 26, 2012

Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, and Suri wearing my jewelry? Yes please!

Sorry it's been so long since my last post but I've been working away like a little elf in my shop. 
One of the things keeping me so busy is a celebrity gifting opportunity I was chosen for by The Artisan Group.  I know, I know, why do celebrities get all the good free stuff?!  Well, simply put, because they are celebrities.  Yes, they can afford to buy their own stuff but if I'm given the opportunity to get my art in the hands of someone who has the ability to show it to the whole world, then I'm all about it.

The Cruises (Tom, Katie, & Suri) are the lucky recipients of this particular swag bag.  Yes, THEY are the lucky ones because this bag is going to be filled with ridiculously amazing handcrafted items from some of the most talented people I know.  You can see them on The Artisan Group's official Pinterest Board here.
(if you don't see any items on the board keep checking back. they're coming, i promise!)

So for Mr. Cruise, I decided on a pair of sterling silver cufflinks accented with his birthstone, ruby. 
I'm so proud of how they turned out but the making of these was the beginning of what I'm pretty sure is going to be carpel tunnel.  Each cufflink has 5 solder joins and the rubies are only 5mm.  Maybe not a big deal for some but these are by far the most intricate pieces I've made.  I literally prayed with each blast from the torch that I wouldn't melt them into a puddle!

Now for Suri I had a hard time because I don't really make kid's jewelry.  But everytime I thought of her the image of a ladybug popped into my head.  So I went with it.  Of course I had to put my own spin on it.  No cutesy pink fluffy stuff here! Not that there's anything wrong with that :)

Making this also added to the weird wrist thing I have going on since the whole piece is only 10mm with the ladybug being about 6mm or 7mm.  This took some serious sawing concentration!  I added a tiny little rough cut diamond, Suri's birthstone, as the finishing touch.

Moving on to Katie, it seems she wears a lot of dainty delicate jewelry.  Again, a challenge for me.  I wouldn't want to scare her with one of my skulls or "trashed" pieces.  But I wanted to stay true to my style.  So for her, I made an 'S' initial necklace to represent her daughter.

I'm really happy with all three pieces and I hope they love them.

Now, off to finish my display pieces for the MTV Movie Awards gift lounge! 
Stay tuned...

Sunday, January 22, 2012

See you at the 2012 Academy Awards!

Busy, busy, busy. 
Ok, so next up is the 2012 GBK Productions Academy Awards Celebrity Gift Lounge!

After my participation in the Emmy's Gift Lounge I decided I needed a little break and I would just do the press bags for the Oscars.  Even though it was much less stressful making 10 pieces of jewelry instead of 100, I kind of regret it and have been feeling a little left out.  But whatever, I have the MTV Movie Awards coming up to keep me warm :)

Anyway, back to the Oscars. 
I immediately knew what I wanted to create for the press bags.  This is very unlike me, by the way.  I usually analyze things to death before I make a final decision.  But, I knew I wanted to do an Old Hollywood star with a modern vibe. 
And this is what I came up with...

I was super happy with the outcome and once it was approved by the powers that be at The Artisan Group, I banged out 10 more, packed them up, and shipped them out.

If you would like to purchase your own little bit of Hollywood you can find my Stargazer Necklace here.

Good luck to all my fellow Artisan Group members who are participating in the gift lounge! 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

What to do with all that leftover wrapping paper...

The holiday chaos is finally over and now it's back to the grind!
One of the first things I'm working on this year is my "green-ness".
  While I've always been environmentally conscious I've never really made this a focal point of my business. 
Since, I've recently teamed up with The Artisan Group to be a part of their Earth Day 2012 Celebrity Gifting Event, I figured this would be a great way to get the ball rolling.

I started by adding a sustainability pledge to my website.  I guess I thought everyone was eco these days and things like this weren't necessary.  But, you know what they say about assuming...

Then I started thinking about what I could make for these gift bags.  Some of the celebrities who received them last year were Adrian Grenier, Pink, Leonardo DiCaprio, Dave Matthews, Ellen DeGeneres, Orlando Bloom, Edward Norton, Sting, Kate Bosworth, and Drew Barrymore, to name a few. 
I wanted to make something meaningful and eco-friendly without being too crunchy. 

An idea came to me to use my Awareness Ribbon in a bracelet but I wanted to incorporate the color green as well.  So I taught myself to make beads using scraps of paper.  I know this sounds weird but they turned out really cool.  I used some left over green wrapping paper (thanks mom), thread, glue, and sealant.  I combined the beads with my hand cut Awareness Ribbon made from recycled sterling silver and 100% natural eco-friendly hemp.  Then using my hemp weaving skills acquired from hanging in Phish show parking lots, Hookahville festivals, and afternoons in the quad of the OSU campus (had to throw a little crunchy in there) I came up with this...

It's comfy and casual and when I look down and see it on my wrist, it reminds me to do my part. 
One down, 29 to go.