Sunday, December 6, 2015

Weird tales from the craft fair: Wainwright House in Rye, NY

Happy Hanukkah to my readers who celebrate! This weekend, I got into the holiday spirit by participating in the Dickens Festival in Rye, NY -- a town in Westchester, about an hour out of NYC. The event was held in the historic Wainwright House:

How amazing is THAT? My mouth fell open when the cab pulled up to the front door. I love old homes and couldn't believe I'd be selling my jewelry in such a gorgeous place. The home was once owned by a wealthy family, who was very influential in local politics and real estate. In 1951, the house was turned into a holistic learning center.

The inside was just as beautiful:

My table was right below the fireplace. My husband was intrigued by the lady in that painting. No one could tell us who she is, or was. But I enjoyed having a set up in such a cool location. Here's a closer look at my Naomi's Designs booth:

There were 30 vendors set up around the mansion. There were also carolers, crafts for kids, a hand bell choir and a live "elf on the shelf" who'd pose for photos. Oh, and there was a large table set up with free coffee and cookies. Lots and lots of cookies. I had a few too many!

This was a beautiful, well-organized event, but the vendors were disappointed in the number of people who came by. Maybe 50 people stopped by my table all day. I was certainly hoping for more. It was also billed as a "Dickens Festival," but there weren't many Victorian touches. There was one older man who wore a old-fashioned top hat, but other than that, no one was in costume. I'm not sure why they didn't just call it a holiday fair.

Still, I did sell a few items and consider any sale a victory. I was especially pleased because two enamel pieces were purchased. A pair of little boys bought one of my enamel pendants for their mom. The price was right in their budget, so they split the cost and each handed me a bill. They were so cute! I wrapped their present in a bright, red box with a matching bow. They were very excited about that bow. Ah, to be young again... Anyway, I hope Mom likes her necklace.

Another customer bought one of my sugar skull necklaces:

I could tell this woman has interesting tastes, because she was already wearing funky, unique jewelry. Her necklace contained a giant lipstick pendant. How fun! After she bought my skull, we had a long discussion about the significance of decorative skulls in Mexican culture. I'm very attached to certain pieces and this was one of them, so I'm glad my skull has found a good home.

Another customer who made an impression on me was the girl who wore a T-shirt with an elephant on it. I'm guessing that she was maybe 13. I told her that my niece, who is a few years younger, loves African elephant and wants to work with them when she's grown up. This girl shared that she also loves elephants and "adopted" one through her school's environmental club. She explained that they sent funds to a sanctuary that rescues orphaned elephant babies. "Maybe your niece can work there," she said. The girl then tried on a bunch of my items and I helped her choose blue wire wrapped daisy earrings. "All of your stuff is sooooo cuuuuute!" she exclaimed. I think that's the ultimate compliment coming from a young teen, right?

Overall, it was a nice day, even if business was slow. We did get to look out at this view:

Jon watched my booth for a while so I could take a walk around the neighborhood. I'd never been to Rye before, and it's gorgeous! The mansion is right by the water and all of the other old homes in the area are stately. People in Rye ain't poor, that's for sure.

That evening's weather was pleasant, so Jon and I walked the 3 1/2 miles into neighboring Harrison so we could have dinner at a little Peruvian restaurant called Quenas. Jon had beef heart kabobs and I ordered the aji de gallina, which is a chicken stew made with a creamy sauce. The food was delicious and capped off a long, but good day. Jon says that it would've been worth going to Rye even without the sale, but I appreciate him tagging along to help me.

I don't think I'll do this event again, unless it's better advertised and they can get more people. However, I'm glad I got to discover a different neighborhood and will certainly visit Rye again. It'll be even more enjoyable if we can walk around without my bags!

Check out my handmade enamel and wire wrapped jewellery at Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Silver wire wrapped abstract necklace with spirals, squares and clovers

This past week, a customer made a really exciting and interesting request: he asked if I could make a replica of his girlfriend's lost necklace, which he'd originally purchased in Nicaragua.

He's not the first customer who's asked me to design a piece similar to a lost item, but this was, so far, the most complex and detailed "copycat" jewelry I've made to date. I love a challenge, though, and was happy to try my best!

He sent me the photo of the necklace on his girlfriend, while my version is on the mannequin:

While they're not exactly alike, I really tried to capture the spirit of the design. The original jewelry maker created smaller squares and tighter spirals, while mine are chunkier. I really wish I had the name of the specific person who came up with this pattern because it's a beautiful piece. I was just the cook here, but not the chef, so to speak.

I've been making wire wrapped jewellery for over five years, but am still amazed at how many different things can be made with wire. The possibilities are endless. I enjoyed following someone else's vision, but I much prefer coming up with my own creations.

Check out my jewelry at Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Double sided multicolor enamel heart pendants

One of the fun things about working with enamel is that most pieces are double-sided. You need to apply glass to both sides of the metal -- we call this a "counter" -- so the enamel is even. If one side is thicker than the other, the metal can bend and the enamel can break off. So if you have three coats on side, you need three on the other. The only exception is if you're doing a technique like champleve, and are working with a very thick piece of metal.

I usually just apply a plain color as my counter, especially if I'm making something where only one side is ever seen. Lately, though, I've been working on the other side -- the "B side," if you will -- and turning my jewelry into two-in-one pieces. Here are the reversible heart necklaces that I designed:

I tried to go with extremely different color combinations so the pendants can be worn with a diverse range of outfits. I had a lot of fun making these and coming up with unique combos. Out of the four hearts, though, I think I like the pink, red, white and black the best. One of my classmates said that the red line looks like an aorta. I don't know if I want this kind of heart to look like the human organ...

So far, I've made double-sided cats, hearts, stars and abstract figures. I think it would be interesting to paint a cartoon-type character where one side is the person's front and the other, the back. I'll have to play around and see what I come up with. The other good thing about enamel is that if I screw up, I can always paint right over my mistake!

Check out my jewellery at Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations -- and find me on Instagram.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Funky silver wire wrapped dangle earrings

While I often experiment with making new designs or using different techniques, I sometimes like to return to my old standbys. In this case, I felt like creating some silver wire wrapped earrings:

You can't go wrong with a classic item. These earrings go with any outfit and are modern, but will always be stylish. Even better, they're fun to make! While I do think of these as "classics," I like to see how many new ways I can twist the wire. I'd never before made the triple spirals in earring form, though I've done it for pendants. On the other hand, I feel like I can never go wrong in making anything with a pretty heart design.

I feel very accomplished when I tackle and complete and complex item, like a particularly detailed pair of chandelier earrings. Simple can be beautiful too, though, and I still get satisfaction from making these items.

Check out the rest of my jewellery at Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations. Follow me on Instagram, too!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Silver wire wrapped statement necklace with spirals and turquoise crystal squares

When I did my craft fair in September, I made a few statement pieces for my table. These are higher-priced pieces of jewelry that you can see from across the street. They don't sell as well as my less expensive items, but they're attention-grabbers that bring people to my booth.

For this fair, I designed this piece:

The necklace is modeled after another one of my pieces, which I call "Nefertiti's Kiss." That one was on display at the Austin Ale House:

I used the same basic pattern, but made it in silver wire instead of brass. And instead of the navy crystal pearls, I added the turquoise squares. The squares are AB (aurora borealis) crystals so they shimmer when the light hits them. The necklace really stood out when it was outside!

No one purchased either piece, but this necklace did indeed bring people over. Many asked how long it took me to make it (about a week) or how I made the spirals. One little kid's mouth fell open when he saw the price. His mom explained how much work went into it.

I'll admit, I personally wouldn't wear a necklace this large. I like my jewelry to be pretty simple! But I have sold a few copies of Nefertiti's Kiss and have seen women look great in statement jewelry. Hopefully, someone special will fall in love with this necklace, too.

Check out my jewellery at Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations. Join me on Instagram, too!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Silver wire wrapped wine glass charms with Swarovski crystals

I've never been a very big drinker. Sometimes I crave a glass of sangria, and I'll usually have some punch at parties, but other than that, I can take or leave alcohol. I'd rather save the calories for chocolate!

That said, I didn't know that wine glass charms even exist until last evening. We always spend Christmas with my friend Scott's family and I asked what I should get his parents this year. He suggested I make them a set of wine charms. I didn't know what he was talking about until he explained that people attach little charms to their wine glass stems so they can tell whose drink is whose. It's a clever way to keep track of your beverage -- and they look very festive.

They're also apparently very popular, so boy, do I feel as if I were left out of the loop. But I studied some designs and came up with my own version of wine glass charms:

I made these the same way I make many of my jewelry pieces: I used 20 gauge silver plated wire, which I adorned with multicolored Swarovski crystal bicones. I then attached a small filigree clover and a larger glass bead. Each bead is a different color so guests know which drink is his or hers.

Scott wasn't sure how I'd get the charm to stay on the stem of the glass and thought I might make a little chain. Instead, I went with a simpler "cuff" design, which is easy to attach and remove. You squeeze the end together to tighten and pull apart to take off the charm. I have to say, it does stay put! I tested it by holding the glass upside-down and shaking it, and the charms did not fall off.

My original design had a larger filigree piece to which I attached a Swarovski crystal heart, but Scott and another friend noted that the charm should not dangle off the edge of the glass. I modified the piece and came up with this version. The hardest part of making the set was assuring that the charms were equal in size. It's difficult enough to get both earrings in a pair to match up, but now I was working with four pieces.

Scott's idea for wine charms was great and these make such cute gifts or party favors. I hope his folks like their Christmas gift. I'll bring a bottle of wine, as well -- and I know they'll like that!

Check out the rest of my jewellery at Naomi's Designs or MayaGirl Creations.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Colorful silver wire wrapped party earrings with Swarovski crystals

The first pair of earrings I ever sold at a craft fair were these silver wire wrapped earrings with rainbow colored Swarovski crystals. I call them my "Party Earrings" because the crystals look like confetti. I love making these because I don't have a set pattern for the crystals; I simply take out a handful and sting them on the wire. I never know what combination I'll get, which means every pair is slightly different.

I haven't sold many pairs online, but I've since managed to sell a pair at every craft fair. Perhaps they don't look as interesting on Etsy, but in person, they're very colorful and fun. Many customers have said that they were drawn to them because they're different from other jewelry they've seen around.

I recently updated my collection with these variations on my "Party" line; I made the earrings using crystals in shades of purple, blue and red:

They're not as colorful as my original pair, but they're still fun and will hopefully attract people who prefer muted tones over multicolored. My personal choice is the blue. Blue is my favorite color, anyway, and I love the way the aqua and dark blue stones look when they're together.

My next craft fair is in a few weeks and I'll be selling these along with my original Party Earrings. Here's hoping my lucky streak continues -- and people like these new pairs, as well!

Check out the rest of my jewellery at Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Silver wire wrapped enamel butterfly necklace

Last month was my niece's 8th birthday. She's starting to become more interested in clothes and fashion, so I made her a double-sided enamel butterfly necklace:

Her favorite colors are purple and blue, so I used them in the pendant. She's modeling the side that has more purple... and her elephant (a gift from her best friend) is showing off the other side. She loves to dress her stuffed animals and dolls, and is constantly changing and switching their outfits -- so I take the elephant wearing my work as a huge compliment!

Like me, my niece is into drawing and crafts, and I hope she'll continue to have this interest as she gets older. Making her a necklace was not only my way of giving her a gift from the heart, but was also my way to show her what you can do if you work hard and have patience. These days, it's pretty easy to get what you need; I can go into most stores and find an inexpensive and pretty piece of jewelry that was mass produced. But it's so much more satisfying for me to make it myself. I hope I can teach her that she doesn't always have to take the easy way out and buy things, but can find the enjoyment in learning how to cook or sew, or make jewelry.

When she's older, I'll see if she's interested in learning some jewelry-making skills from me. Meantime, I'm happy to have her stuffed animals model my work!

Check out the rest of my handmade wire wrapped and enamel jewellery at Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Handmade double sided enamel cat pendants!

For 14 years, I wrote for a national television magazine. During that time, I got to meet and interview many actors (I'd rather not say who since I'm no longer at said job). It was a lot of fun, but I did my best to stay professional and not turn starstruck. I never asked for autographs or gushed about a role an actor did, etc.

However, I did get a little "starstruck" this summer when I got to meet my favorite Internet cat in person... well, in feline. Yes, I went crazy over a cat. Yes, I probably am crazy. Those of you who keep up with this blog know of my documented love for kitties, real or in jewelry form.

The cat in question is Marmalady Lemieux. Marmy is a tri-pawed ginger cat who lost a leg when she was just a kitten. She lives with her seven feline (and one canine) siblings and documents their daily adventures with blog posts and photos. Her human "mom" also makes jewelry and donates all of the proceeds to the cat rescue organization, Cat House On The Kings.

This summer, my husband and I happened to be near Marmalady's neighborhood in Canada so I asked her mom if we could visit. She readily accepted and gave us a wonderful tour of her area. We also got to meet the various kitties (and dog), though Marmy was pretty shy. I was so excited and admitted that I'd never been this amped up about meeting an actor.


I wanted to bring our host (the human host, that is) an appropriate gift, but wanted it to be more personal than a bottle of wine or flowers. A handmade piece of jewelry was the obvious answer, but I wanted to make something that was different from the stuff that our host makes. She does beaded work, so I decided to make her a special double-sided enamel cat pendant. One side was painted in ginger cat colors to represent Marmalady; the other side was enameled in a calico pattern in the likeness of her kitten, Willow.

I drew and cut a cat shape from copper sheet metal, then enameled each side. The great thing about enameling is you can make each side completely different from the other which allows for a lot of creativity. Our host loved the necklace and even posted photos of it being admired by Marmy. I got a real kick out of that!

I liked this necklace so much, I made a second one just like the Marmalady/Willow piece. I then made a more whimsical one with bright rainbow and watercolor sides. I'm currently working on one that's painted with flowers on one side and multicolored stripes on the other.

I'm always happiest when I'm making jewellery for someone else. I couldn't think of someone more deserving of a special gift than this wonderful woman who's done so much for the animal community.

Check out my jewelry at Naomi's Designs or MayaGirl Creations. Also, find me on Instagram at naomidoesjewelry.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Handmade enamel sugar skull pendants, calaveras for Day Of The Dead celebration

Once upon a time, my dad collected skulls. None were real; they were all made of plastic or plaster, but they were still creepy. One of his skulls wore headphones, another had a snake running through its eye socket .. and then there was the one hanging in our downstairs bathroom that glowed in the dark.

I thought that his preoccupation with skulls was a bit weird, but my parents then took me to Mexico. I went crazy for the crafts ... especially the colorful sugar skulls -- or calaveras -- designed to celebrate the Day Of The Dead.

Though death is a part of life, I can't say I've ever thought of the process as being beautiful. Quite frankly, the idea of dying scares the hell out of me. But I appreciate how the Mexican culture shows the beauty in death and how we always share a connection with our lost loved ones.

I'm always looking to try new things so I decided to make my own version of sugar skulls. They were so much fun to paint with the enamel! I made these last spring, but am posting them now since the Day Of The Dead is right around the corner, November 1.

I cut, filed and smoothed out the copper base at home, but painted them in class. When you fire an enamel piece, the darker colors appear first and then the lighter ones show up as the piece cools. Because of this, it took about 30 seconds for the hearts and flower pupils to appear -- and it kind of looked as if the skulls were coming to life! It was really cool.

One of the women in my class doesn't like skulls and shuddered when I showed her my work. I joked that the skull with hearts in his eyes had a crush on her and that the one crying blood was unhappy because she didn't love him back. She was not amused.

I had a blast making these, though, and appreciate the painstaking work that goes into making a true calavera. Some of the figures and masks are so elaborate and have nearly every inch of space covered with designs. Mine are pretty simple.

I do plan to make more when I'm finished with my current batch of Christmas ornaments (post on them to come). Meantime, check out my jewellery at Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.

Also, I am now on Instagram! Follow me at Naomidoesjewelry.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Silver wire wrapped rhodonite jewelry: necklace, earrings, bracelet jewellery set

This pink wire wrapped rhodonite jewelry set was inspired by my friend Nancy.

A few weeks ago, I designed the little earrings, which I wrapped with silver wire in a crisscross design. Much as I like to work with more and more complicated techniques and designs, I sometimes like to go back to simpler pieces. As always, I posted my finished results on Facebook and received a lot of positive feedback ... even more so than when I've posted more complex jewelry. Nancy and another friend both ended up purchasing pairs of these earrings.

Soon after, Nancy asked if I could make a matching necklace and bracelet using those rhodonite stones. The necklace was pretty simple to design; I simply had to make the crisscross pattern on a larger scale. The bracelet was a bit trickier, though, because I didn't want to just link the stones; I wanted to create a structure that would flow and would fit nicely around a wrist. I decided to place silver spirals between the stones to break up the pink. I like how it turned out! The spirals and crisscrosses don't exactly go together, but they work well in making a complete design.

The most challenging aspect of designing this bracelet was figuring out where to place the bottom loop on each stone. When I wrap stones, I usually create a bail for the pendant or earring, string the stone up to the bail, and then complete the design by caging the stone and then twisting the wire around the bail. This way, the wire is secure and doesn't fall off the stone when the piece is worn. In this case, I twisted the bottom of the wire into a loop before wrapping it back up over the top of the bail. This way, I could easily connect each stone and spiral link.

Nancy and her husband are joining us and some other friends on a cruise this winter and she plans to wear this set as her "cruise jewelry." I'm so honored and can't wait to see her actually wearing my pieces. Much as I love making jewelry, it's most rewarding for me when I get to see my pieces being worn and enjoyed.

Check out the rest of my jewelry at Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Silver wire wrapped Victorian style pendant and necklace with Swarovski crystals and pearls

This December I'll be selling my jewelry at a Dickens festival. The two-day event is in Rye, NY -- a bit of a trip for me -- but it's going to be inside an old, stately home and seems like it'll be an interesting fair. I'll have to find out if they expect us to wear Victorian costumes!

In honor of this festival, I'm making Christmas ornaments shaped like Victorian homes, as well as some Victorian-inspired jewelry. There are many Victorian homes in Queens and Brooklyn, believe it or not, and I enjoy walking through those neighborhoods. I like living in a place that has history and I love the ornate and colorful Victorian touches.

I'm always trying new things when it comes to making jewelry so for this piece, I experimented with wire wrapping different elements together. I've used simpler versions of this technique, but this filigree design is made up of many sections. I had to make sure that everything was symmetrical and that each crystal, pearl and loop fit in exactly as it was supposed to. It took some trial and error, but I'm happy with the result:

After making the pendant, I had only a few pearls and crystals left, so I worked them into the chain. I made up for the lack of beads by adding in those spiral daisy links -- but I really like how they work with the design. I also like the little pop of pink that comes from the Swarovski bicones.

Is this true Victorian style? Probably not, but I think this necklace creates the feel of that time and is definitely eye-catching. Hopefully, these Dickens fans will appreciate my attempt.

Meantime, check out my jewellery at Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.

Silver wire wrapped and crystal flapper jewelry inspired by Great Gatsby

This June was a very exciting month for us. Two of our closest friends, Scott and Christopher, were married ... and I was their matron of honor!

The guys had their wedding at The Old Field Vineyards, way out on Long Island's North Fork. Most of the wedding guests spent the weekend in Greenport. We stayed with the guys and their families at the Harbor Knoll B&B. It was wonderful! I'm a native Long Islander, but had never been out to this area. It's beautiful and we plan to get out there again sometime soon.

The guys originally planned to have a casual wedding, but decided to go with a Great Gatsby theme after watching the movie (The recent version with Leonardo DiCaprio). This meant that the wedding party members had to dress in theme-appropriate outfits. The men (and Christopher's "best woman") wore vests and caps, while the ladies donned beaded shift dresses.

I had some drama finding an appropriate dress that fit well and fit the theme, but I had a blast designing my 1920s style flapper-inspired jewelry. They had some gorgeous accessories back then! I'd never made a hair piece or cuff bracelet, but I looked up various designs and got to work. After laboring for many, many, many hours, here's what I came up with:

I think I used an entire spool of silver wire for each piece. I didn't count the number of crystals and pearls on the headband, but there were dozens. Happily, both pieces held up well and caught people's attention!

I'm thinking of making more wedding items like this for sale, only they're so time consuming to design and would be pretty expensive. Still, many people love Gatsby-style jewelry, so it might be worth a try.

As for the wedding, it was perfect. It was held outdoors, right by the water, and the weather was fantastic. My speech went well and best of all, the guys were so happy. All in all, it was an outstanding weekend -- one we'll never forget.

I wish we had another special occasion coming up; I'd love to wear that headband again. Meantime, check out my jewellery at Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.