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.

Back To Blogging: Exciting Handmade Wire Wrapped Jewelry News!

Wow, OK... so I've been realllllly bad about blogging this year. Last time I wrote something was in March. Yikes! Time to change that and get back into the swing of things. I apologize for keeping you out of the loop. Well, I apologize to all two of you who read me regularly...

The good news is, that while I haven't been writing, I have been busy actually making jewelry -- and have been involved in some exciting projects.

My work was once again selected to be in the Kew Gardens Art Fair. I was rejected last year so gaining admittance was a big deal to me. This year, the event was set up as a street fair with the vendor booths lining the main road in town. I did pretty well, but I preferred the set-up where we were all contained in the local park. I felt as if we were too spread out and a few of my customers agreed.

As always, I had many interesting encounters throughout the day. One woman tried on several pieces, almost broke a bracelet... and then didn't buy anything. Sigh. On the other hand, I got to meet a "fan"! A few weeks ago, a woman messaged me on Etsy and said she'd purchased earrings from me at the first fair held two years ago. She asked if I'd be selling locally anytime soon and I said I didn't know because I'd been rejected from the fair last year. Well, she found me at the event and said she'd complained about my booth being absent the year before. She then bought some more earrings from me. I wanted to give her a bonus pendant as a thank you for seeking me out, but she refused, saying, "I don't want to exploit you." She was very sweet and I was so happy to meet up with her.

What's really exciting, though, is that as part of the fair, I now have two of my jewelry pieces hanging in the restaurant, Austin's Ale House!"

Austin's has been a local institution for over 20 years and regularly exhibits the work of Queens artists. We go there all the time -- I even had my 40th birthday party there -- and have always admired the paintings and photos, etc. that hang on the restaurant's walls. So it's very cool to have my own stuff there, where it will stay for the next six weeks. Hopefully someone will purchase my pieces, but if not, at least people are getting to see my work.

Last week, Austin's threw a little party for the artists. My parents and husband came, which was nice; I don't think I've had any "art" exhibited since elementary school! I'm very impressed with the work of my fellow artists. I'm the only jewelry designer in the bunch, but there are some beautiful paintings and multimedia pieces. If you're in the NYC area, definitely check it out. Side note: Austin's has great food and an extensive, extensive drink menu!

I still haven't gotten my pieces into any stores, but this is a start in getting my name out there. I'm hoping it will lead to even bigger things. Meantime, check out my handmade wire wrapped and enamel jewellery at Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.