Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Heavenly Heirlooms - Part II

Well HELLO!!!! I thought I'd be back here sooner, but we all know the holidays bring much craziness & we're all so busy. The trunk shows were a success! Opening the studio this year & leaving it open was the best thing I did, which also created alot more work & hence put me a bit behind on other things. Still have fudge & pies to bake & gifts to wrap, but I would rather blog :-) Procrastination at its best.

I really wanted to share about my Christmas gift. I call it a gift because it was another rare opportunity to share my art with someone & create something beautiful. I have a lovely client - Mary Ellen. Her & one of her colleagues are my favorite earring buyers. They teasingly try to outdo each other on whom has the best ones made by me. Awe... shucks :-)
Both of these lovely women came out & supported me during the studio show & I had some subsequent work to do for them. I went to J.B. Winterberry where they work, which by the way is a fabulous antique/gift shop in Wheaton, IL to deliver fabulous yellow earrings to Mary Ellen. She said she was so glad I came that day because she had something to show me & wanted to see if I could do anything with it.

She opened this small jewelry box & in it was the most stunning rhinestone-encrusted brooch with filigree in grey, cherry & ruby red swarovski stones that I had ever seen! I thought it was the most incredible piece I had seen in quite some time. The story goes that this brooch was worn by her mother to her wedding 46 years ago & it has sat ever since. Having seen alot of my work so far, she gave me the great honor of entrusting me to create a necklace for her so that she would start wearing this gem.

I assured her it was in good hands & that I had just the right crystals to enhance this beauty & I promised I would have it done in time for her to wear for Christmas. But of course when I got home I didn't have a large enough base for mounting - craziness! So I ordered from my favorite supplier, Cherry St. on Ebay & hoped I would receive it in time. And of course I did.

So, on Saturday I sat down & tightened all those stones, picked out the beautiful ruby & cherry red 1950's swarovski I would pair with this treasure & I was ready to get to work on removing the pinback so that I could mount it on the stamped metal base. I gasped when I saw that it was a signed Made In Austria piece. I really do not like to alter signed beauties, but I knew that Mary Ellen really wanted a necklace & I know this will become a piece that will be passed down for generations in her family, so I did what I had to do.

When I was finished with all the hand-wrapping and assembling, I realized I had utilized more crystal than chain... well, the end result was nothing less than something that looked like it could of been worn by one of Henry VIII's wives. It looked like gems and jewels, not rhinestones & crystals. I put it on, because of course I have to try everything on that I make, I was so thrilled & envious.

That's the best part of what I do... designing something that I know I would wear in a red hot second & knowing all the time that I'm bringing joy to someone else.

So, I had the opportunity to visit with Mary Ellen yesterday, and I warned her in a phone call that it was quite a formidable piece. But Mary Ellen is a tall statured lady that could pull this off - I know she is! During that call she told me that maybe someday she would be able to wear it as well to her son's wedding (gave me goosebumps) just as her mother had worn it to hers. I had such fun visiting with her as she reminisced about her family, Christmas traditions & we talked about some of the antiques & collectibles that surrounded her lovely home. I could have stayed all day, but the reality check was that my phone kept ringing & my husband was calling about a dental emergency with our youngest child, so I had to cut our visit short.

Almost at the end of the visit I slipped my hand into my purse & brought out the little bag holding her treasure. As I was removing it from the bag, I could already see the delight in Mary Ellen's eyes. As she put it around her neck, I knew it was the perfect design for her & that she will wear it now. She was thrilled & told me she would be wearing it to all her Christmas festivities. I was so happy & honored to spend a little time with her & to do something for her with a piece so important that would give her joy for years to come. We made our own little memory together!

Oh, and she had the sweetest gift for me! I collect vintage and unique Christmas & my friends will say it is no easy feat to find something for me that I do not already have. But she did it! She gave me a strand of reindeer bells on a strap that I can hang on the door! I love it! And even better, I know that it will annoy my family every time they come in/out of the door, so woo hoo!

Wow, this was a story, eh? I guess I'm making up for these few weeks that I haven't been online much. I will return after the first of the year with more on the family and more of who has a part of & how I got to where I am today.
Wishing everyone much joy during the holiday season...

Friday, December 4, 2009

It's been a while...

Tis the season to be busy & not have time to blog! I am having my last event this weekend... an in-studio holiday open house. This will be the first time I'm opening the studio to a broad public audience. I just finished setting up - it looks so fabulous (except for my actual work area - which looks like a bomb went off on it) & I promise to take pictures & post after the event is done.

Then we'll get back to our regularly scheduled program...I haven't written about Funkymom & the Family in a while. And I want to do the first installation of the People Who Have Touched My Life...Touched My Art Series.

More soon....PROMISE

Thursday, November 19, 2009

How I First Fell In Love With Vintage Beads & Buttons - Final Act

I left off talking about that wonderful shop Vintage & Vogue. Once I decided it was time to move on, I started brainstorming about what I could do to grow this hobby into a business.

One of my first wild ideas was to do a holiday open house. But it wasn't just any run of the mill venture... I decided that I would gather other creative women & support their efforts as well as my own.

I look back on those years & think I was nuts! It was alot of work...very family-instrusive, but I had alot of fun! My little 1928 Queen Anne is an ecclectic mixture of new & old. My motto, "get rid of the new to make room for the old." I would devoid the 1st floor of all its treasures leaving only the furniture & create a "boutique look" throughout. It was warm, inviting & cozy. We had alot of fun spending time together, drinking wine & shopping!

My next step was to join the Wheaton French Market run by two savvy brothers from France. These markets offer a variety of wares from yummy pretzel bread, fresh cut flowers, lovely hand-made clothing to unique jewelry. So, I decided to take my "boutique" concept from the 1st floor of my little house to this open air market. It is alot of work, but also alot of fun. I love making a connection with people, talking about my work, sharing about our lives... this was a perfect venue for me! I still do the French Market, but not nearly as often. As I grow older, I find it more difficult to get up at 5:00 a.m. and do all that setup, so I have slowed down a bit.

I also made some great connections, friendships & memories by participating in a 10 years and still counting holiday open house at beautiful old McNeal Mansion in Elgin, IL While the owner & myself have fallen out of touch. I highly recommend it as a wonderful venue to find antiques and hand-made items. Not to mention the stunning old home it is featured in - well worth the visit & still going on this weekend!

And that's the end of the beginning, there isn't any more :-) BUT stay tuned for features in the People Who Have Touched My Life...Touched My Art Series. In these articles I will share about the wonderful people who have supported my art... the talented shop owners & savvy antique dealers of whom I have had the great fortune to build relationships with.

Until then....

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Heavenly Heirlooms

I love what I do, but I have to say that when I'm given the opportunity to take someone else's treasured memories & create beautiful works of art that they will wear forever, I am truly honored.
A good client at Olivia's Past in Long Grove, IL came to me a few months ago saying she had her grandmother's jewelry & wanted to know if I would be interested in re-creating them into something functional & wearable. There were several pieces to the collection, 4 brooches & 2 sets of earrings. I readily agreed & took this project on.
I felt lucky that I had a bevy of beautiful cut glass & crystal to choose from. My challenge, was finding filigree or stamped metal designs that would accomodate the largess & greatness of these brooches, without overpowering them...a sort of back drop to the real star of the show. I did the same for the earrings as well... a little more dainty & graceful.
As I sat designing these pieces, I really thought of how I would want to wear them. Bold & embracing, sparing no detail in the crystal & cut glass... only the absolute best of what I have hidden away in my studio would do! By the time I finished, these three pictured here, brought me such pride & great envy. I wanted them for myself!
I had the good fortune to have a trunk show at Olivia's Past this weekend & to present my finished work to my client. I told her before the "great unveiling" that I loved them so much, I wished I was able to keep some of them for myself! She chuckled & said, "now I know they're good if you wanted to keep them." The look on her face & the gasps of the other customers standing around was all the joy I needed. My crazy tempermental artist mind received total affirmation that if for one moment I still think that what I do isn't important, then I have only myself to blame.
The client was over-joyed, the surrounding inquiring minds were all a chatter & I was beaming with pride & joy. Truly, in my opinion what this is all about. Bringing joy to others through my art. To be given such an opportunity to bring a cherished memory to life in something that she will treasure of had a hand in that.... well, it makes me emotional even as I sit here posting this now.
I am humble & grateful that I helped to reclaim these old beauties.... give them a new life... and to be given the chance to design as I like... bold & funky, without hesitation. Blessings & many thanks to my lovely client who gave me this opportunity.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Lots O Doins' Around Here!

WOW! It feels like forever since I've posted. It's been a crazy life as I'm sure everyone feels with the holidays upon us. All is quiet in our household... the kids are doing fine. My artistic life has been a little bit hectic!

I've previously mentioned that making the step to be on the internet was a big deal for me. I'm not as computer-savvy as I used to be. This past week really challenged me. Learning how to create an Etsy site and the blog were of huge emotional exhaustion to me. Maybe I'm getting old... learning new stuff is a challenge. And investing the time & balancing between this and design is huge for me. Things like Google Analytics and SEO are still making my head spin. So I'll wait... till it gets a little quieter around here and dive into that.

My husband decided to upgrade us to Windows 7.0 which ended up creating all kinds of challenges for me and my website. As of tonight, I can happily say the last "tweak" was accomplished and hopefully it will no longer take me 4 hours to upload pictures! Oy!

What's going on artistically? Well, I just completed two trunk shows. I just landed a small, but promising account for at least the holiday season at a local antique gallery & I'll be holding my 3rd annual trunk show at Olivia's Past in Long Grove this Friday & Saturday. As always, I am perpetually behind in creating new designs - but will hopefully manage to pull out a few fabulous things from my over-tired mind.

Hopefully this finds you all just as busy & hopefully having success! Until next time....

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

How I First Fell In Love With Vintage Beads and Buttons - Part II

Many years back there was this great little store on Hale St. in Wheaton, IL called Vintage & Vogue. Strangely enough the owner of this cool shop was only open on the weekend. Her window display was always so imaginative & cool that it kept people intrigued and interested so much so that when she was open, she'd sell out half the window.

One day I wandered into that shop & got to talking with her. At this point in my life I was bored, looking for something to call my own...feeling like I had lost my identity. Don't get me wrong, I love being a mom, but felt that there was something missing that made me feel fun & edgy. So I told her how much I loved her store & that I would be thrilled to come and work for her. So we set it up for Friday nights and/or some Saturday nights. She would have the shop open during the day & then I'd open at night, sometimes staying until midnight. At that time there was a lot of night life on Hale St. (who would think that for Wheaton) and the later we were open, the better.

One day she noticed that I was dabbling with vintage beads and I had always admired her collection of beads & buttons. She encouraged me to start designing vintage button bracelets and rings to sell in her store. Well, it took off! Her customers loved it & I loved the attention that my new hobby was getting. Not to mention that being in her store made me feel like an "adult" again and it also gave me the opportunity to explore vintage fashion and start dressing the part. In those days, I would look forward to Friday nights & get all dudded up in some way cool hat and funky clothing. It was awesome!

As time progressed and it was apparent that I was having success with selling my fledgling jewelry, the shop owner decided that she too would share her designs in the shop. Of course I cannot begrudge her an opportunity within her own store, but looking back at that time now, I do remember not feeling all warm & fuzzy about it. So eventually I decided it was time to move on. I will say that I am grateful to her in giving me my first opportunity to see if anyone would even be interested in what I was creating. She did give me the courage to explore.

Stay tuned for more on this story!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Funkymom & The Family I

We're a pretty interesting bunch. Mom is is left. An extremely independant eldest child, a consciencious second child and the youngest who is turning out to be as right brained as her mom!

The eldest celebrated her 16th birthday this week. Ah yes... I truly felt my age. Where has the time gone as she went out several times this week at the urging & encouragement of her youngest sibling to have behind the wheel time with her dad.

This was a full weekend for our family. Twenty crazy kids stressing the post holes on our deck as they danced the night away in October night coolness - but they didn't care. Ah, to be that carefree again, instead I was shivering every time I went in and out of the house to pick up after them.

Of course the Halloween happenings of trick or treating with your friends, four extra kids spending the night & the youngest child sadly not having the plans she had hoped for with a little disappointment. Next year will be better! The nice thing about this year's festivities is that this is probably the second time in the past 10 years that dad was home for everything. Traveling full time in support of your family leaves little time for events & holidays. It was nice to have him home.

I had to chuckle when the youngest told him "make sure you are nice & smile at the little kids coming for candy." Hah!

Until next time...

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Feeling of The First Sale

I am sure veteran sellers of the world-wide market can reach back into their mind & remember the feeling of your first sale, right? I woke up all groggy this morning with my husband telling me that he has a conference call - so I need to take the last of the 3 children to school... Of course I rolled over and uttered something like "yeah sure." And I rolled out of bed to go find my first cup of coffee.

I sat down at the computer to check email & try to wake up a bit. And there it was! The notification... affirmation that whatever nervousness, hesitancy, anxiousness I was feeling this week was all worth it. Opening myself up to the global marketplace was like dragging a creature of habit into the 21st Century.

So a huge thank you to that lady in the UK who pressed the buy button while I was in my slumber. You totally made my day!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

How I First Fell in Love With Vintage Beads and Buttons

This is a little known story, well some of you know a bit, but not all. I started really thinking back about where/when I very first realized that I loved vintage beads & then it hit me, when I first saw them in a capacity that intrigued me.

I have a friend I've known since childhood, we grew up together & we have fallen in/out of touch over the years. For a time my friend Victoria had started making jewelry with another friend of hers & THAT was when it hit me! I don't even know if they realized what they had. But they had created the most gorgeous earrings with Swarovski rhinestone buttons. They were totally 80's glam... a blood red 16mm rivoli crystal encircled twice with much smaller clear rhinestones. They had the most beautiful red glass drops with rhinestone rondelles. They were exquisite! I envied how cool they were, I remember that now. I don't remember alot of their other work, but those earrings remain a vivid memory.

I believe my eldest daughter was 3 when that happened, so let's fast forward to 3 years later when we relocated from our cool northwest side 3-flat apartment in the city to the conservative, yet interesting Wheaton. I felt like I didn't "fit" here and was amazed to find someone else who seemed just as funky as myself walking on the playground. Janice had big red hair & wore cat eye sunglasses with a faux leopard coat & I knew we would be friends! I should step back & say that at some point during our time in Chicago I found my "inner vintage" & started collecting, among my treasures was a ball jar full of vintage beads that I vowed one day that I would do something with.

I started hanging out with Janice & learned that she was a jewelry artist who designed very fun & whimsical designs. She used a mixture of new & old components & her elements are dainty. I was so proud to show her my ball jar full of treasure and we started beading together. She showed me all the basics and would take my jewelry along with hers & sell it for me. Whenever I tell the story of how I started, I always mention that Janice inspired me to start.

There is more to this story, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Here I am World! It's Me....Lisa!

As I sit here for the very 1st time, writing my very first blog, I am excited. I know... I know... it's silly & its also VERY early (the DH woke me w/his footsteps on the floorboards), so I decided to try & get started on my own, even though my sweet friend Martha said she would help. Okay, here goes nothing!

Welcome to Blast From The Past Designs! This is where those who think they know me... will find out they only know a little bit. And to those who don't know anything about me at all, well... all I can say is if you like quirky unique people with a passion for their art & life, you will definitely be amused!

Follow along with me as I feature weekly (or as I can) about The People Who Have Touched My Art... Touched My Life & the wacky craziness of Funkymom & The Family. I look forward to sharing & getting to know you!