Friday, May 29, 2009

Inspired Image: Laila Smith

Hello, my name is Laila Smith and I'm a studio jeweler.

You can find me at Cross Street Workshop and at Object Fetish.
This image comes from a holiday to Wildwood, NJ.

It inspires me because I love the muted colours and I had such a great trip to this town of 60's motels. If you can go there, it is amazing!

I particularly love the symmetry of the windows and doors (I love grids) and the 50's colour scheme.

It makes me feel warm and happy, even though as you can see it obviously was taken on a very rainy day.

The 3 words it conjures up are retro, holiday and muted.

Laila is a very talented jewelry maker who has a style all her own, using, as she says "domestic textile techniques alongside traditional silversmithing processes". All of her fabric comes from found or family fragments and are very weathered. Here, have a look.

They are so original and I love the little details of the stitching. Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Q&A: Jessica Stewart

Today is all about big, glorious rings (and a few pairs of earrings I couldn't resist sharing). Jessica Stewart has a delightful Etsy shop where she sells her lovely jewelry that, if you're anything like me, will become much more irresistable once you read a bit about her and how she learned her craft.

Where do you live?
I live in Paso Robles, CA (Central California). I was born and raised in the Bay Area (on the Peninsula) and have spent my whole life around every aspect of the jewelry business.
Tell me a little bit about what you make.
I handcraft and design every earring and ring I sell. I use only the finest quality metal, all natural color freshwater pearls and gem quality semi precious stones. Each piece of jewelry is one of a kind, meticulously handcrafted from top-quality materials including the highest quality stones and metals, to ensure superior wear ability at an affordable price.

How did you decide to start the line?
My mom started the wire rings in the early 80s and evolved with them, taking them to the next level quality and design wise. I have been making jewelry for as long as I can remember, focusing mainly on rings and earrings with my own special twist!

Did you have any teachers who became mentors along the way?
My teachers and mentors hands down are both my parents. I am so fortunate to have two amazingly creative and highly motivated parents who have been making and selling jewelry since before I was born. As you can imagine my appreciation for and love of fine handcrafted jewelry came at an early age. I remember being a baby taking naps under my parents display on Fisherman’s Wharf in the early 80s. Both my parents are self taught and amazing artists. My mom in particular was a teacher in showing me "the ropes" year and years ago.

Why do you enjoy making jewelry?
Creating and designing jewelry is a love of mine. I want to make gorgeous wearable art that is of the highest quality yet affordable. I enjoy designing and making jewelry that help make women feel beautiful. When women feel beautiful, they feel powerful and have more confidence. My style is modern, unique, classy, feminine.

How does your creative process work?
My creation process is looking at colors, textures, shapes. Some days creativity flows easier than others. Such as life right!

Where do you find your inspiration?
My parents inspire me when I think of how far they have come from their humble beginnings at street festivals to now doing high quality museum shows. Always changing styles, going above and beyond, growing. I can say I learned from the best! I would have to say my other inspiration comes from the stones and materials I use.

Is this your full time work?
I hope to make this my full time work! I also work full time at a local middle school as a director of an after school program. I feel by finally getting a website up and pursuing my love more intensely will be the next chapter in my life.

What's the best part of your day?
The best part of my day is sitting down and creating new designs. My jewelry is every changing. Every piece I come out with is a step forward. Also I have to say just being with my husband (who is my best friend) at the end of a busy day.

What do you like to do when you're not making jewelry?
When I am not making jewelry I am always keeping busy. I am a sports nut (baseball in particular), love exercising, going to the beach, shopping, hanging out with my family and friends and I can't forget COOKING! I love food!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Homemade Window Panels

Here is one of the first projects that I've done in my new home. Since I'm renting, I (like so many people) am having to make do with some things, like ceiling fans and lighting fixtures that are so not my style. And windows that don't offer much in the way of privacy, particularly in the bathroom. So I figured out a way to use some fabric that I recently treated myself to (I had no plans for it, it was an impulse buy at Purl Patchwork a few weeks ago) to craft some panels. The fabric is light colored enough that it lets the light in, but also offers plenty of coverage.

I am trying to use things I have so that I'm not 1.) spending a ton of money settling in and 2.)I'm not filling the place with new things (it's just been remodeled, so I am very aware of wanting to incorporate more found objects and antiques to balance it out). The panels were quick, easy, not permanently adhered to the window and very rewarding because I get to enjoy my lovely fabric every single day now!

You'll need:
Fusible web, cut to the size of your window pane
Fabric, slightly larger than the size of the window pane
Ribbon or lace, optional
Mod Podge (if using an edging)
Double sided tape

1.) Measure your window pane and cut out a corresponding piece of fusible web.
2.) Iron it onto your fabric, making sure it adheres completely.
3.) Trim the edges off of your panel and make sure it fits onto the window panel. Trim as needed (it should just cover the glass portion).
4.) Embellish with lace or ribbon as desired, using Mod Podge to secure. (I lined the bottom with some vintage lace since my two panels came out a little short.)
5.) Use double sided tape to adhere the panel to the window. (I put a line of tape around the entire edge of the panel.)

I realize that I sort of made this up and I'm sure that at some point, I'll have to replace the tape, but these really made the bathroom feel feminine, comforting and way more like me.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Weekend Project: Farmers Market Tour

Hi everyone! I feel like it's been ages since I posted even though it's only been three days. But those have been three very long days and I am happy to report that I am about 90% moved in and unpacked in my new place. It's pretty remarkable, I know, but I had help from Virginia (unpacking, hauling things around and arranging my book shelves) and my mom (the best, most thorough cleaner I have ever met- my floors are sparkly). Since I start working today, I really wanted to have my new home as set up as possible since I know I'm going to be very busy learning the ropes at ReadyMade. I spent yesterday afternoon hanging pictures and I'm comforted to have my favorite things in site as I adjust to everything in my life being new.

On Saturday morning, my mom and I went to the downtown Des Moines farmers market which is stunning. It's immense. Seriously huge. Not wanting to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume, we did a walk through to get ourselves oriented then set about buying a few plants (I have a lovely little herb garden now!) and buying food for the week. Oh, I just love supporting local produce and producers when it all tastes so good! Above is a tomato salad with basil that I made for lunch when we got home from the market.

We had olive ciabatta from La Mie bakery and fresh chevre from Reichert's Dairy Air along side the tomatoes

This is a view of the market at about the halfway point. Pretty amazing, right?

Blue Gate Farm was my favorite vendor this week. I got a dozen eggs from them (which I fried up in local butter last night along side a salad for dinner- yum!) of varying shades of brown, creme and greenish and a jar of this mint syrup. I added it to homemade iced tea and have decided I'm going to live off the stuff throughout the summer. I also explored their website a bit and am seriously considering trying to sign up for their winter CSA, if I can find a new friend to split the load with that is.

These are some of their greens. I have to say that they did a lovely job with presentation—all of the produce was in white enamel bins and was spread out on blue plaid table cloths.

The market also has a load of baked goods (many that are Dutch I believe), like these chocolate crinkles. We actually bought a whoopie pie from this same vendor. It is so fun to get to know a new city through it's farmers market and it makes me feel like I will definitely find some like minded people here to befriend.

I hope you all had a lovely long weekend and have an easy entry into this shortened work week. (I'm skipping Tuesday's regular installment of Instant Heirloom this week due to the holiday and instead will share a lovely project that I did over the weekend in my new home!)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Inspired Image: Nicole of Three by Sea

Hello, my name is Nicole North-Rodriguez.

You can find me uploading things to my Etsy shop or posting on my blog "Three By Sea".

This image comes from Frank Maurer on Flickr. It's called "A Day at Brighton Beach."

It inspires me because it has bright colors, simple lines, and a beach/coastal feel- all things I try to incorporate into my work.

I particularly love the saturated colors and the little birds on the dark blue cottage.

It makes me feel happy, inspired, and invigorated.

The 3 words it conjures up are simple, bright, beachy.

I wish everyone a lovely weekend, filled with the beachy sentiment of this image. And definitely check out Nicole's shop—I've got my sights set on something special for my seaside loving parents!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Q&A: Emma of Showpony

Apologies for not posting yesterday. The second day of the road trip (Tuesday) wasn't as much fun as the first and due to traffic, we got to Des Moines much later than we'd planned. And yesterday was dedicated to getting my stuff into my new place, which is going to be a work in progress for a while, but I'm esctatic that everything seems to have arrived in one piece. (And downright gleeful to have a full sized stove!) That said, I'm very excited to get back on the blog-track with a Q&A from Emma of Showpony today. You may have seen her work on other blogs over the last week, but here's a bit more about who she is and what she does.

Where do you live?
I live in Glasgow in Scotland, I love this city, its got a great cultural and arts scene but its also known for its wicked sense of humour and fantastic architecture

Tell me a little bit about what you make.
I make fun, interesting accessories for you and your home. These are predominantly screen printed textiles.

How did you decide to start the line?

I studied product design at Art School but it was almost a year after graduation that I took a screen printing night class. One of the first things I printed there was an early prototype of my hidden patterns range. Off the back of this I was selected for the Scottish Show 2007 - a national exhibition highlighting the work of 30 Scottish designers. This proved a great launch pad for Showpony and I haven't stopped since.

I love the attitude in your products- where did the inspiration for items like the "do the dishes" tea towel come from?
I really want to create products that people will find fun, and perhaps a little silly. I like to think about what the item will be used for and try to imagine how people will interact with it.

Did you have any teachers who became mentors along the way?

Unfortunately not. I didn't really get on very well with my tutors at art school and I have no idea what they'd think of what I do now. I try not to let it bother me but I guess in a way it does, its almost made me more determined to succeed.

Is this your full time work?
Yes. I'm in the studio Monday to Friday, and never stop thinking about it.

Why do you enjoy printing on fabric?
I love textiles, I've always had a sewing machine and even used to make my own clothes (not terribly successfully) but I have always loved fabric shops and finding vintage materials in charity shops. When it comes to printing on fabric I really like how immediate it is, from the moment I make that first print I know if I've got a good product or if its a total disaster. I like that an idea or design that you've drawn up on the computer really seems to come to life once its printed on fabric.

How does your creation process work- do you sketch one design at a time, or do you create a few at once?
I tend to design collections or think of concepts that I want to make into a few related products. For example with the tea towels I started with the idea of 'Kitchen Commandments' I.e. rules to be obeyed in the home, this translated into the 'do the dishes' and 'keep it clean' tea towels, I'm working on more which will be added to the series soon. I don't really sketch out my designs until I've spent a lot of time thinking about them. I prefer to 'day dream' my designs only sketching them towards the end of the process.

Where do you find your inspiration?
Inspiration is everywhere, it's in those silly little things you think about throughout the day, the little daydreams and conversations that take place.It's also in observing interactions with people and the things around them.

Is this your full time work?
Yes. I'm in the studio Monday to Friday, and never stop thinking about it.

What's the best part of your day?
I always enjoy my walk to the studio, a great time to let my mind wander, plan my day, think about new designs and get excited by the possibilities that might be waiting for me at the studio.

What do you like to do when you're not working on Showpony?
I love seeing my friends and taking the dog for long walks with my husband

Thanks Emma!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Road trip, day 1: NY to Cleveland

Hello from Cleveland! We are successfully through day one of our road trip to my new home in Des Moines. I'm exhausted (from driving and singing at the top of my lungs!), but wanted to share a few highlights- which are yes, all food related since that is the real joy of road tripping, as far as I'm concerned. (Though I will say that PA and OH along route 80 are lovely in the spring!) I planned the day to end in Cleveland, which is slightly out of the way, because I really wanted to eat at The Greenhouse Tavern. It's big on local produce, supporting local farms, and being as sustainable as they can (they have the most amazing lights made with bike tires!)—not to mention they serve Jeni's ice cream which I adore. Here's a look at what we had, which we decided is like a snapshot of spring in delicious food-form. That first intro shot is Wild Ohio Asparagus with tarragon, lemon and bearnaise.

Cardoons (like a cross between an artichoke and a leek, I believe) with pecorino and celery

Spring pasta with fiddlehead ferns, wild ramps, poached egg, asparagus and morel. And a nice addition of pancetta for good measure. Virginia was psyched that she managed to try four new vegetables all in the same meal as the cardoons was her entree.

My entree which was grilled romaine topped with puttanesca and white beans. It had a light dusting of bread crumbs to give it a bit of crunch and some grated lemon zest to lift up all of the flavors. Virginia and I both decided that we are going to definitely replicate this dish repeatedly over the summer. Possibly served with a side of steak.

Dessert of Jeni's Salty Caramel ice cream and apricot rugelah. Seriously, the ice cream is amazing. I am glad that I found a restaurant sort of on the way that served it as I was very nearly about to drive hours out of my way to get some.

The rest of the day, we had more standard road trip faire, including lunch at the Twilight Diner somewhere in central PA. We both had the mountain sandwich special, which was freshly baked white bread (sliced to about 2 inches thick) grilled in butter and sandwiched arounded grilled chicken, lettuce, tomato and mayo. So yummy.

And our afternoon snack was apple pie a la mode at Eat'nPark, which I have to say, has gotten a menu upgrade since the last time I was there. They serve soy milk!

We are having a very enjoyable time so far (despite the fact that my camera seems to have broken and we're relying on V's iphone for images), belting tunes, enjoying town names like Moosic and marveling at the availability of pie everywhere we stop. Tomorrow, we head to Chicago for lunch with my brother and then on towards IA...

Monday, May 18, 2009

Weekend Project: Bachelorette Scavenger Hunt

In addition to being mid-move, I do have some other exciting things going on—which included my best friend Virginia's bachelorette festivities this past weekend. All of her bridesmaids assembled and took her on a scavenger hunt of sorts, which essentially means that she got a chance to visit a handful of her favorite places in the city. Wearing one of these lovely t's that was designed by my friend Julie (and printed at loosely based on the wedding invitations.

This scrapbook was the key to the hunt as she had to solve a riddle in order to figure out where she was meant to go. The best part of this was that it was all a big surprise and V is not a fan of being out of the loop. Below is the google map that showed our geographical plan for the day.

We went to one of our favorite gelato shops, Grom, where she had to get at least three kinds of chocolate in her cup, Purl Patchwork where she got to choose two yards of fabric that myself and her sister Caroline are going to turn into throw pillows for her, Otto for a prosecco toast, and a few more stops. You can see an example of a page from the scrapbook below- it was the one for Anthropologie, where she had to find a "V" and a "D" (her fiance's name is Dan) and have her photo taken with them. I didn't expect it to be quite as easy as it was—they had a whole display of large metal letters right in the front of the store—but the point was more to enjoy each other's company and be a little silly than anything else.

This was one of my better riddles and it took her a while to figure out. Any guesses?

It was Washington Square Park, which is near NYU where she went to college. (We goofed around and took pictures of each other posing near the arch.) The evening ended with more friends, barbecue and dancing to the Crevulators at Hill Country.

Each page in the book also had an envelope that held a note from either a bridesmaid or one of V's parents, so we all had a chance to tell her how much she means to us. I learned a little bit about memory keeping from my time as an employee at Hallmark and I figured it was the perfect time for us to think about the importance of our relationships as the countdown to the June wedding begins.

She's actually my cohort in my drive to Iowa that starts today, so it was an equally great send off from the city for me. I admit that I am very emotional about the big life changes swirling around me, but I'm so happy that the weekend was filled with happiness and so much laughter. And dancing!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Inspired Image: Katie of Making This Home

Hello, my name is

You can find me at

This image comes from the gravel runway where I'm going to learn to fly. My husband spent several years restoring that airplane, and he and the owner are taking it for a test flight in this picture.

It inspires me because the environment where we'll live this summer is the truest symbol of art. Nature holds so much beauty if we're willing to grasp it. I chose a picture with an airplane because mechanical devices are the last thing I'd ever call beautiful or expressions of art. But not guys like my husband. Beauty is all in how we embrace it and open our minds to how others embrace it. I'm starting to see airplanes that way, though I'll be honest... I bring a good book every time we go to an airplane or engine museum!

I particularly love the peaceful feelings this picture offers of man and nature together.

It makes me feel eager to learn to fly (my summer project!).

The 3 words it conjures up are enthusiasm, humility, respect.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Roundup: Vintage/Recycled Necklaces

Fox and Clover
Broken Plate Necklace
This is a new necklace from Fox and Clover (you may have seen their work on other blogs- they have necklaces that are similar to this one that have lace inside the glass) that's part of their new "broken plate" line. A new glass plate is made, then then cut into pieces. Each necklace is unique and is made with glass recycled from old picture frames. The patterns are handpainted onto the glass, which is then fired. I was going through my Etsy favorites and took another look at Fox and Clover's shop and was so pleased to find this lovely creation. And it made me decide to look for other vintage or old-made-new necklaces in my favorites folder.

How rad is this! These necklaces are handmade from vintage French 1970s vinyl wallpaper. It's lightweight and while it's certainly a statement, it seems like it would be comfortable—and would be the perfect thing to dress up a pair of jeans and a plain white tee.

I really like the small details on this necklace, especially the slightly sparkly centers of the red flowers on the upper left. The components are vintage and the brass locket holds two tiny pictures (or other treasures!).

Yes, I would like to wear this with the new white and blue sundress I recently bought! It's a fantastic old button that the seller says is either soft metal or coated plastic. It's less than an inch and is amazing!

And finally, from my darling friend Dani over at Oh, Hello Friend, a lovely little vintage carousel charm from the 1950's. She says that it actually spins! I adore that it's so fun and spirited.

So part of the reason I'm attracted to vintage finds today is that I found an old "A" charm necklace that I believe I got in the 4th grade. It has a teensy little diamond looking stud (I am SURE that it's entirely fake) and is upper case and sort of in a script font. I have been wearing it for the past two days and I am loving it. It's amazing to me that something I got about 16 years ago still fits me so perfectly! (I'm going to take a photo to show you just as soon as I can track down my camera's card reader...)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I haven't been able to spend as much time making things as I'd like (due to the whole packing up and moving out of my nyc apt) and after a visit to Purl Patchwork with my sister over the weekend, I decided that I needed to spend at least a few hours this week on a creative pursuit. I know that making something will help me feel grounded and restored, even as I'm currently in-between homes. So that's my plan for today! And to share a bit of that energy with you, here are a few of my current favorite craft-related finds from around the web.
Sewn (via Whip Up). This sounds so amazing, and I hope it's like Ravelry but for sewers!
"SEWN is new online quilting and sewing community for all lovers of fabric crafts. We have Tips and Innovative Tools to help with your projects, an Advice Centre for all your sewing questions, online forums and chats, and information on your local shops, sewing groups, quilt groups and classes. SEWN will feature designers and shops from Australia and New Zealand, as well as the latest from the USA, Canada, Europe and Japan. There will be articles, interviews and tutorials from industry experts, competitions and free patterns! We’ll even be reporting via podcast from craft shows around Australia and the USA. Get ready for the official launch of SEWN in June 2009."

Info on diy stamp carving at Geninne's Art Blog and a handy tutorial. A friend of mine has been having a little difficulty finding stamps for a project she's working on and I knew that it was possible to make them at home, but I didn't actually know how until reading this.

Card crafts (which I will always be partial to after doing so many at the Hallmark magazine) at from Ez Pudewa of Creature Comforts and Brittni Wood of

I'm at my parents for a few days sorting out the business of getting a car before starting the journey to Iowa, but I am going to quilt and work on a top SECRET project that I will reveal next week. I am also aware that I am very lucky to have a bit of free time before starting my new job, so I'm going to try to make the most of it!