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...