Thursday, February 28, 2008

Introducing Nicole Lee Artistry

I was in the Etsy chatroom the other day goofing off with some other Estians. One of the things I truly love about the Etsy chatrooms is getting to peek at people's shops while talking to them. I popped into a shop and got sucked into browsing her store...quite forgot about the chatroom for a few minutes. She is very new to Etsy, in fact it's been a month today! But she has already established her store's personality through her photography. Her jewelry is beautiful, simple, yet put together with an artistic flair that I could never achieve. It give me great pleasure to introduce Nicole Lee Artistry!

I asked Nicole Lee how she came to be a jewelry artist:

I have been making jewelry for about a year and a half now. It started when my company downsized and I lost my job. With a stroke of bad luck, I went through two more because the company hit a financial buckle and the last one I left by choice. I had reached a point of question - Be successful helping someone else reach their dream or be successful doing what I love and help myself reach MY dreams? It was a tough decision. Mainly it was difficult because I feared the RISK involved if I tried to be a full-time crafter, and some cautioned against it. BUT, NOTHING COMES WITHOUT RISK and some very successful people made it by going "against the wind."

So I took the plunge. I received compliments and started to sell. With some sales under my belt, I decided to get online. I tried some other avenues and then I found Etsy. I fell in love! I love etsy because it's professional, user friendly and affordable for crafters. I'm new to Etsy, so right now, I'm doing everything I can to get exposure and SALES. For any crafter, even though the enjoyment and self-satisfaction is valuable, if you want to turn a profit, you have to sell. You spend a little, make a little, and hope other people spend a little of their time, interest and money so you can make a little more in return.

I create because I cannot NOT create. For me, making jewelry and crafts is a life force! I'm truly inspired by everything and everyone! When I'm making a piece, I don't stop until I have that inner sense of completion and personal satisfaction. I would wear any of my pieces and if I don't feel that way, I won't sell them. I also regard my customers' opinions HIGHLY - if they EVER feel that they are not satisfied...even if it is for the littlest reason, I would not hesitate to do what I can, within reason, to keep them happy. They keep me in business and allow me to do what I love. I do my best to show how grateful I am for that and want to show it.

With such strong, beautiful pieces coming out of her workshop, I think that Nicole Lee has a very bright future ahead of her! Please take a few moments to peek in her shop and see what else she has to offer.

Friday, February 22, 2008

What's New for the Wedding Season

With the wedding season fast approaching, I’d like to share a wonderful new gift idea for the bride-to-be, a keepsake folder custom made to the bride's specifications.

All brides are faced with the necessity of picking out and sending invitations. When I got married, I would use any spare moment to address a handful of invitations. Here is a great keepsake folder to make the task a bit easier.

With two flexible pockets inside to hold cards and envelopes, and two sleek pockets on the outside to hold address lists and RSVPs, this is an indispensible gift. Once the invitations are sent, it can be used on the wedding day to store cards or congratulations received at the wedding. It is also a great place to keep checks, cash, or giftcards that are so easily misplaced. After the wedding it can be used to help organize the Thank You cards. And finally, it makes a wonderful decorative folder to store the keepsake wedding invitation that all brides cherish.

The keepsake folder is custom made to order. It is sized to fit the bride's chosen invitation and can be made to match the invitations, wedding party colors or just colors the bride enjoys. The ribbon is a sophisticated option which allows the folder to be tied securely, or leave it off for an elegant look.

The sample folder is made of satin, but can be made from any fabric, including left over fabric from a custom gown or the bridal party's dresses. I also do embellishments: lace, beads, rhinestones, etc. (Please convo for pricing on embellished folders.)

An adorable nursery print would be perfect for birth announcement, baby shower and christening invitations. It would also make a great presentation folder for gift certificates or awards. How about a pretty spring print for Easter cards or a fun winter print for Christmas cards? I love this folder so much I keep thinking up new uses for it! How about a beautiful, safe place to store all those heartwarming cards you've saved from your children, your spouse or other loved ones?

I'd love to know what you think of these!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Husband Missing

Tragedy happens all around us everyday: war, criminal violence, domestic violence, kidnapping, runaways. But there is nothing worse, in my opinion, than the unknown. I read today about a fellow Etsian whose husband disappeared on his way home from work on Wednesday, February 13. How truly terrifying for her and their children. They have a 4 year old daughter, a 2 year old son and she is expecting a baby in early October. It's the unknown factor that makes this so terrifying and tragic.

I live across the country from this family and cannot help in the physical search for him or in providing immediate comfort for his wife and children. I am praying for them and ask that you do the same. The Etsy community has rallied and is trying to help raise funds to offset the financial burden of this family. Please take a few minutes to read the following and help out as you can. Thank you.

This thread is for thoughts, prayers and updates in the disapearance of Nicholas Fransico. Nicholas has been missing since Wednesday, February 13, 2008. His car was found today (2/18)

His wife Christine owns two Etsy shops that are currently closed

According to Christine's sister (Jannell) financial support is desperately needed. Christine has a 4 and 2 year old and is pregnant with her third child (due in October).

SEATTLE AREA - if you are in the area and can help with search efforts, please convo Gabrielsaunt, she is coordinating Etsy Search Efforts. If you'd like to help by sending things for the kids, please convo fashiongreentbags, kvossdesigns or lovemeknot.

The family has not set up a donation center as of yet but THEY ARE TRULY IN NEED OF FINANCIAL SUPPORT! If you can help in the way of a PayPal donation, Christine's paypal address:

1. login to PayPal
2. Click - Send Money
3. Type - - for the recipient
4. select - Services/other
5. Click - SEND

for the latest news updates:

Church link:

Thank you for anything you can do!!


If you don't find something that interests you, then please consider making the direct donation to Christine's paypal account.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Xue Originals

One of the unexpected joys of belonging to a creative community like Etsy is getting to meet wonderful artists from around the world. I have long admired the beauty of Asian inspired art and am pleased to be able to introduce a wonderful new jewelry artist, Xue Originals.

Xue's work is an exotic blend of the simple, yet highly detailed elegance of the Asian arts with the opulent and romantic colors and textures of the Western world.

Xue has more than than 20 years experience as an artist working in advertising, graphic designing, theme parties, cartoon illustrations, paper sculpture, mosaic art & jewelry designs. She has traveled quite a bit over the past 17 years, living in Shanghai, New York, Hong Kong, Singapore & now Tokyo.

Xue states that her designs and interests come from the experience of living in and travelling to many places. She is motivated by the daily exposure to Western and Asian cultures since her family is a mix of Chinese and European. Because this is the way she lives, this influences the way she designs. You can learn more about Xue by visiting her website and her Etsy shop

Not only is Xue a wonderful jewelry artist, but she has also become my friend. She lives a world away from me both geographically and culturally, but we have found many common bonds. We are both artists and mothers. We find beauty all around us, are graced by our Faith, and are enraptured by the wonder we see in our children as they grow up. I am proud to showcase Xue Originals' today. I hope you will take a few minutes of your time to view her beautiful work.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

OWOH Winner

I want to say thank you to all who participated in the ONE World-ONE Heart world wide blog give away. This has been a delightful experience all the way around.

I had 126 people ask to be included in the drawing for the Zenny Beret and circle copper Shawl Pin. I printed out a list of all the participants and cut each name out, folded them up and popped them into a bowl. My little guy helped me out by drawing the name.....drumroll please? dadadadadadada....and the winner is:


Again, thank you all for participating. I received so many wonderful compliments on my beret and pin and have met so many interesting new people. I look forward to continuing to get to know you all.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A Marriage of Passions

One of the wonders of working with my hands is being able to combine beloved techniques with new mediums. My first introduction to the handcrafted world was through origami. Someone gave my older brother an origami kit when we were kids. He wasn't interested in it, so he gave it to me. I spent many happy hours playing with the beautiful papers and intricate folds. I collected interesting papers and all the books I could find on the subject. I think my parents still have little pieces of folded up paper decorating their offices and tucked amonst their Christmas decorations.

But I got older and although my fascination for origami never waned, I tired of making items that were basically decorative knick knacks. I was devastated whenever one of my creations was torn or crushed because it got knocked over or was handled too roughly. So I put away my papers and my origami books and looked for other outlets for my creativity. Still holding a love for the art of creating 3 dimensional objects using a basically 2 dimensional medium, I learned to knit and crochet and tat. I was young enough to not be too impressed with hats, scarves or afghans, but rather, I was drawn to the sculptural side of these arts. I experimented with different stiffening agents to make decorations, snowflakes and angels. But again, I found myself creating basically decorative items that, while nice to look at, eventually got in the way and had to be either put up or thrown out.

Then I discovered fabric, and the whole creative world opened up for me. Using fabric, which is basically flat, I could create all kinds of wonderful 3 dimensional objects. I found that I prefered to make clothing over decorative items. There was more of a challenge for me to get a garment to fit a figure perfectly. I really love fine fabrics, silks, satins, lace, and brocades which tend to be a bit much for most people's home decorating needs. And, quite frankly, I just couldn't tolerate the idea of seeing a pillow I had made from silk dupioni lying on someone's floor gathering dust and dog hair. So, garment sewing it was for me. I spent years catering to the bridal industry, creating gowns and bride's maid dresses, full of lace, luxurious fabrics and infinite detail. But I still held a love for origami and it's simplistic complexity.

During one of my many moves, I had a terrible accident that produced an amazing result. One of the boxes holding my crafting supplies was damaged and its liquid contents leaked into one of my fabric boxes, rendering the fabric stiff as a board and completely unusable for garments. The fabric in question was a lovely cotton with a small geometric print that had always reminded me of the beautiful washi papers i loved for origami. I decided to try to make a crane from the ruined fabric. To my utter delight, it turned out beautifully and still adorns my Christmas tree every year. And thus began my journey into the world of fabric origami.

I experimented with different types of fabric and stiffening agents until I found a combination that produced a stiff, yet flexible fabric perfect for origami. But what to make? What could I produce with this new medium that wouldn't be just one more thing for my friends and family to have to find space for?

I dug through my origami books and found several wallet designs that I had always loved, but felt were too impractical made from paper. More experimentation made me realize that many of the wallets using Origami techniques revealed the wrong side of the fabric. Since I prefered to use patterned fabrics, I found this to be unattractive and dove in to find a solution. After yet more experimentation, I discovered a way to laminate two fabrics together that provided additional strength, covered the wrong side of the fabric and added to the finished beauty of the wallets. I played with the different patterns I had available, and finally settled on a style and size that I felt would be the most useful: a wallet to carry my ATM card with enough pockets to store receipts, credit cards and even my business card. I expanded the pattern to make a checkbook cover and am now contemplating notebook covers.

What a wonderful combination, the simple and elegant folds of origami, the endless colors and prints available in fabrics and a finished product that is not just beautiful, but indispendable. My mom uses hers for her business cards and tells me at least once a week of the compliments she gets. My daughter put a photo wallet in hers and carries pictures of BFFs. I am still using my original protype to carry my ATM, credit and insurance cards. It truly is a fine example of a marriage of passions.

postscript - After writing this entry, I did some internet research. You cannot imagine my frustration, chagrin and eventual humor at finding that I was not the first person to combine fabric and origami techniques. Nor even the first to reproduce this particular pattern in fabric. Though I do believe I am the only one using two layers of fabric. I guess this just goes to show that every journey into creativity is just a repeat of something that has happened before. I cherish my time spent in figuring this out for it is through the journey and all I learned along the way that I discovered my ability to find solutions to my creative roadblocks.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

ONE World - ONE Heart Give Away

I just read about this incredible opportunity to meet people around the world and to share a little bit of ourselves in return. You can read about the ONE World-ONE Heart Give Away here:

In participation of this lovely event, I am offering my Zenny Beret in moss green with a circle copper Shawl Pin, as pictured below:

Please Note: the Zenny Beret is made from a very nice, soft, chunky wool blend yarn that is easy to care for. machine wash warm, tumble dry low, do not iron, do not bleach. the shawl pin is made from 6 gauge copper wire, which is hand cut and shaped, then hammered flat to give it added strength. i use a very small, light weight ball pien hammer. it takes over a thousand strikes to give the surface its beautiful texture. as each shawl pin is handmade, please expect some variations in shape and texture

if you would like to be entered in the drawing for this lovely beret and shawl pin, please leave a comment and include either a link to your blog or an e-mail address where i can get in contact with you. i will announce my winner on February 14th.

Handmade vs. Homemade

I admit it. I'm a snob. I'm a nose in the air, lip curled in distaste, pinky sticking out while disdainfully holding things between my forefinger and thumb s-n-o-b, SNOB!

I love all things handmade, kitchy items made from retro prints, dainty doilies in delicate white and ecru thread, jewelry...oh the jewelry! quilts, hats, mittens, socks, cards, prints, paintings, carvings, woodburning, metalwork, lamps, cushions, blankets, shoes, glasses, dishes.....i just looove handmade things.

I love to look at them, touch them, examine them for all angles to figure out how they were made. I am amazed at the ingenuity of people and the usefulness of everyday items. I will often purchase something just because I am impressed with the quality of the work.

But what I am not amazed at is shoddy workmanship. Seams that unravel, poorly finished needlework, exposed wire ends in jewelry, beaded strands that break the first time worn. It only takes an extra few minutes to take an item from homemade into handmade.

It is the attention to detail and those little finishing touches that take an item from 'can't give it away at the church bazaar' to 'i have to have one of those in every color!' Finish all exposed seams with bias tape or a simple zigzag stitch to prevent raveling. Tie off and bury all loose thread ends. Use quality yarns when crocheting and knitting and take the time to block the finished item if it needs it. Tighten up and strengthen beaded jewelry. Be sure to use the appropriate weight stringing materials. File and smooth the ends of wire and be sure they are tucked in nice and neat. I know it's a pain to make sure every little aspect of an item is neatly finished. But that's the difference between homemade and handmade.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Birth of a Designer

I never considered myself a designer. I really never had that spark of ingenuity that designers have. I would see something new and clever and think to myself, "What a great idea! Why didn't I think of that?" I learned to read all kinds of patterns, crochet, knitting and sewing. I learned to follow directions in any how-to book from basic woodworking to wire jewelry. But I couldn't look at a stack of fabric or wood or beads and say to myself, "Ah, hah! This would make a great whoziwhatzit if I did this with it!" I could take an existing idea or design and make it, adding a bit of my own personality into it, but I never had my own original idea or design plan.

My hubby works with iron and a coal forge. Watching him take an unyeilding piece of iron, heat it red hot and then quickly hammer and flatten and bend it to his will while it was maleable fascinated me. While perusing his blacksmithing books one day, I saw a few pieces of hamered copper. They were so beautiful! Iron is heavy and dark and rustic. But the copper was delicate, bright and refined. And suddenly, whatever was blocking my ingenuity let go and my mind flooded with ideas, concepts and designs. But I didn't know how to get it from my head to a finished product.

From the first time I saw the beauty of hammered copper I knew I wanted to make jewelry with it. But I wanted to use the methods my hubby used with iron. I didn't want to take a sheet of copper and cut it into the shapes I saw in my head. I wanted to hammer and shape a piece of copper rod. I started by making a plain neckwire to showcase a wired pendant. It was beautiful, but too plain. Then I made a neckwire with a swirl at one end. I get a ton of compliments on it, but I wanted something more delicate. I spent a lot of time learning how to shape and flatten the copper, texturizing the surface with the smallest ball pien hammer I could find.

As I developed my piening technique, I discovered the life inside the copper. It flows and ripples like water. Every hammer stroke gives it more life. A solid rod of copper, smooth and straight, becomes a delicate, organic shape, reflecting light and begging to be touched. Suddenly, I could see it! I could look at a piece of copper and see a finished design. All the techniques and skills I've developed over the years have come together. I can take my raw materials and create the images in my mind. I found my spark of ingenuity and today, I can finally say to myself, I am a designer.

About Me

My photo
i sew because i cannot draw.