Inpiration! for a Spring Collection!!

I am trying something new! Something that to almost everyone else would be obvious, but to my scattered & distracted brain, never occurred to me. From the prompting of two very good friends of mine. I'm going to be designing 4 collections this year!!!

I don't look to trends to decide what to do/wear.... but I do know what I find to be beautiful and what I like.... I am a minimalist who loves timeless & wearable clothing. I'm most often barefoot, but if you do catch me In shoes, I'll be wearing my favorite Bedstu leather boots that are about 3 years old with a pair of jeans... Anything I design/wear needs to be authentic & complement a pair of jeans! More than likely in combination with a grey t-shirt and a comfy sweater... so for the spring I've looked to pinterest, my favorite idea gathering spot. I looked for looks that I would wear, that could be worn this spring, and that I felt were timeless in design. The ideas on my Spring board are looks I'd love to wear. I am going to use these looks to inspire my 2018 Spring Collection. 

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With those in mind, I took to my beads and metals, and started pulling things that I thought felt light fresh and very wearable. I am really feeling mixed metals.. So I am going to have an emphasis on that. Turquoise.. It's a stone I've had a long love affair with... So that will be there. Definitely oxidized brass!... but I really do love pulling silver in again.. 

I'm very excited about using the black and white pendants! Crazy Horse Jasper! They're just beautiful!

I'm very excited about using the black and white pendants! Crazy Horse Jasper! They're just beautiful!

I can't wait to show you what I come up with!!! Stay tuned!! 

Have a great day!

Mandy 

Maker Monday: My Birthday

I woke up the morning of my birthday this past Thursday to a kiss on the lips from Kate,  Anthony & Lucy paraded in to tell me Happy birthday,  & Luke gave me a  smooch and a Happy Birthday! Anthony was very excited and just couldn't wait for me to get downstairs. So my hopes that there would be something really special waiting downstairs for me, got the best of me.  

 I started envisioning something big! My big is a series of little things, something that makes me feel acknowledged and celebrated. I just need to feel an effort has been made! 

Lucy gets me and what makes my day!  I had already received a hand drawn Panera & Starbucks gift card from her!

Lucy gets me and what makes my day!  I had already received a hand drawn Panera & Starbucks gift card from her!

and an incredible birthday card! 

and an incredible birthday card! 

So as I'm heading downstairs, I'm envisioning last years birthday. Luke went all out! Birthday's are not his thing so I've had to give years of schooling, and last year it paid off! I had a card, a letter, a Starbucks gift card, a Bacon Gouda breakfast sandwich(my favorite breakfast sandwich), an Americano (my favorite morning drink), and flowers all waiting for me when I got up in the morning. I was overwhelmed.

This year. ... I walked downstairs with my hopes high to a dirty kitchen & a messy kitchen counter!!! with NO thoughtful birthday gifts!  Luke & I share a lot of home duties, and I did not clean up last night... so it really wasn't that crazy that the kitchen was dirty. But it was my birthday!

I have been so exhausted & depleted from my jewelry season flowing right into the holidays. So I'd been really looking forward to this day... I have to say... I had to walk out of the room and make an excuse to do some task... anything to hide the tears in my eyes.. And I felt vulnerable, and hurt, so I got combative and difficult. It turned all polite.... which I am one for real... not polite. I was crushed. So I began sulking...

And I think this is truly why I am not a big holiday person! All other days of the year it's my responsibility to make my day good. I decide what I need in my life and I put it there. On this day (and Mother's Day) I set those feelings or intentions aside, and let the ones I love take care of me. .. So there I was.. sulking.. feeling sorry for myself. My best friend Emily & text daily. She's my sounding board, the one who talks me down, and gives me perspective. She talked me through this one, and I decided to text Luke and tell him I was hurt.

He apologized.

And said!!! He had a letter written he was going to give me at dinner, flowers were on their way, he was going to get crab legs for us for this evening, and have the kids sing happy birthday and take their picture with me with cake. Well.. now who's the jerk!!! Man did I put my foot in my mouth! I felt like such an ass!! 

 

Cupcakes from my good friend!

Cupcakes from my good friend!

A picture Anthony drew me!! 

A picture Anthony drew me!! 

A very treasured picture with me in it!! Luke rocked it! 

A very treasured picture with me in it!! Luke rocked it! 

Luke & I ate crab legs together while the kids ran around and played and listened to music by the Descendants (Lucy's favorite movie). It was unexpectedly everything I wanted. 

Thank you for reading!!! 

Have a good one!! 

Maker Monday: My Evolve Collection

I had the fortune of having my husband take the kids out of town for the weekend so that I could work. I'm gearing up for my November 16, Holiday Open House. I've been working daily making pieces to be ready. I've gotten better at working with interruption. I can sit next to Leo on the floor and make hoops or ear wires, but I've found that I can't get into my creative idea generating space with constant interruption. So this weekend I had the pleasure of working hours on end and really playing with color, texture, inspiration... It was great! This weekend I worked on statement bracelets for my Evolve Collection. 

This is Amazonite. My Evolve collection will hinge on this stone. I LOVE this stone. It's earthy. It's got so much variation. Each bead is different. There are so many things I can do with this stone. 

This is Amazonite. My Evolve collection will hinge on this stone. I LOVE this stone. It's earthy. It's got so much variation. Each bead is different. There are so many things I can do with this stone. 

Every year I go to the Chicago gem show. There I see what strikes me, what makes my heart beat a little faster, what I find beautiful. It's with those beads that I create my Evolve collection. It will never be the same year to year, because the beads that inspire me year to year & are different each year.  It's always evolving :). I'm getting more predictable. If it's turquoise, amazonite, or labradorite... It's usually going to be a part of my collection, but year to year I don't often come home with the same things. 

The grey & iridescent beads above are Labradorite. I love Labradorite because it's a picky or selective stone. Most of the time it appears gray. But when you pair it with the right beads it shines. You get beautiful flashes of blue & green. It's so much fun figuring this stone out and what makes it come alive. 

The grey & iridescent beads above are Labradorite. I love Labradorite because it's a picky or selective stone. Most of the time it appears gray. But when you pair it with the right beads it shines. You get beautiful flashes of blue & green. It's so much fun figuring this stone out and what makes it come alive. 

Here's the bracelet that I created where I feel each bead belongs and complements another. So far it's my favorite piece from my collection. 

Here's the bracelet that I created where I feel each bead belongs and complements another. So far it's my favorite piece from my collection. 

Thank you for reading! I hope you have a wonderful week!

Mandy 

Maker Monday: Process

Process is everything to me. If I can make something I'm passionate about into a process, I can sit down and follow each step that I've created. This frees up time and space to work on other projects that thrill me. My time is always equally filled with family, photography, my Story of Us project & design. Creating a process makes me efficient, and organized and able to take on more projects that I love. 

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I want to share some of my process with you. I snapped a picture of my second desk in my studio today to show you the steps to make my earwires. I make each and every one. I purchase spools of wire, cut the wire into pieces, shape each piece, hammer each, and use a cup burr to round each end.  It's because I care so deeply about the details (probably a little too deeply) that I make each ear wire. Once I glanced at the photo, I realized there was so much more process and so much more me in the image. I'll just warn you right now.. This may get rambly!  This desk is a desk that my Great Grandpa made. It's small, but is very functional, beautiful, and in a way a family heirloom.  I only include things in my studio that are meaningful, beautiful, or useful. This meets all 3 requirements! The fabrics underneath my clipboard are ones I got incredibly giddy choosing. I can't tell you how excited I get about picking out my yearly box fabric! They're fabrics that will be cut into squares and nested in each of my jewelry boxes, so that when you open your package from me, you feel great opening in it. I am so thrilled about my choices!! I may be making a trip back to the fabric store, to buy more flannel & make pillows :). ... My tools.. You can see they're not too bright and shiny... but I don't care ... they're my tools I've used over and over and over to make all of the jewelry I create. They're beat up, but they are also full of story... character. ... 

Kate in my studio. I believe she thinks she owns the place, by that look :)

Kate in my studio. I believe she thinks she owns the place, by that look :)

Here's a happier version of her little self. 

Here's a happier version of her little self. 

Here are the things she brings with her. A lot of this is stuff she's stockpiled from my drawers. I've been called a human tornado, I think she may be following in my foot steps! I can't tell you how happy it makes me that she wants to spend so much time with me in here. She is truly part of my process. 

Here are the things she brings with her. A lot of this is stuff she's stockpiled from my drawers. I've been called a human tornado, I think she may be following in my foot steps! I can't tell you how happy it makes me that she wants to spend so much time with me in here. She is truly part of my process. 

Thank you for reading!

Have a great week!
Mandy

Maker Monday: Bouncing back after vacation

We surprised our kids with a trip to Disney world last Saturday.  Luke'd been planning the trip for about 6 months, but we decided to wait til close to the trip so the excitement wouldn't get the best of them.

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They've never flown before... or been to Disney World so except for a couple of concerns (Kate, 2 at the time, was afraid she might fall off the airplane) I had a few worries before the trip. I wouldn't be me if I didn't obsess over a few details :) 

  1. How am I going to go on a 6 day trip with no time to myself? This is what I breathe on a daily basis.
  2. I knew the kids would have fun. However, vacation to me has always felt like some suspended reality... I like real. I can rely on real. Will I be able to enjoy myself?
  3. It's Disney. The most magical place on earth... that's promising a lot...I'm wondering if that's a big load of BS? 
  4. We're bringing 4 kids 7 & under to Disney world... how's that going to go? 

There were so many great parts of our trip. 

The Storm Trooper March (maybe a little loud for Anthony), but I thought it was awesome and I couldn't care less about Star Wars. 

The Storm Trooper March (maybe a little loud for Anthony), but I thought it was awesome and I couldn't care less about Star Wars. 

We had a really great brunch with the characters and watching Leo connect with them truly delighted me. 

We had a really great brunch with the characters and watching Leo connect with them truly delighted me. 

Wandering through Animal Kingdom was amazing. There was so much attention to detail. Watching their concepts come alive... for me that's thrilling. And we also saw a ton of animals, ones I can't even see in a zoo, in their safari. 

Wandering through Animal Kingdom was amazing. There was so much attention to detail. Watching their concepts come alive... for me that's thrilling. And we also saw a ton of animals, ones I can't even see in a zoo, in their safari. 

Enjoying fleeting moments like this.. .. .. I think was some of the very best part. 

Enjoying fleeting moments like this.. .. .. I think was some of the very best part. 

There were also things that I didn't enjoy.  

25 minutes to get anywhere. It felt like it took forever to get anywhere... Lugging strollers, bags, etc. probably didn't help. Leo enjoyed it, but Luke's still trying to invent a more efficient way to get from here to there :)

25 minutes to get anywhere. It felt like it took forever to get anywhere... Lugging strollers, bags, etc. probably didn't help. Leo enjoyed it, but Luke's still trying to invent a more efficient way to get from here to there :)

Getting stuck in a people jam on a bridge at the Magic Kingdom for 30 minutes while having Leo in the baby bjorn and not knowing if someone would start pushing. Looong lines for rides. But there was so much greatness. We had a rainy day, which made us be able to walk right on a lot of rides. My kids, even Leo felt it was a magical place. He was excited about everything. And because of having my wonderful mother in law on the trip. We had 2 date nights!

 

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Bringing 4 kids... there's nothing idyllic about travelling with 4 kids... spills... strollers... meltdowns. No fairy tale. We had the stomach flu go through all 4 kids from 5 am before we left till the night before we flew home. I lost my magic band on the bus ride to Hollywood studios, something that's essential to our Disney well being. Luke lost his driver's license making for an extra special trip through TSA. I'm so thankful for Luke's mom Chris to help carry the weight. 

Happy birthday to my sweet Kate!! The flu didn't get her down! 

Happy birthday to my sweet Kate!! The flu didn't get her down! 

Fortunately, we had a great trip. The go go go was hard for me. I like to savor, take things in. With so much to do and see and just not enough time, that wasn't possible. We did get to go back to the room for a couple of naptimes. I didn't even freak out about messing up naptime!

Ultimately, I learned that vacation is what I make of it. If vacation isn't an escape from real life, because my life is one that I am happy living, then I no longer have negative feelings about vacation. I also no longer have the major let down I used to feel when it's over, because i have placed so much that I love doing in a normal day.I loved that despite all of the challenges we just trudged through. It didn't get us down we made the very best of our time together. 

Now we're back and it's time to get in the groove! 

We got back on Saturday night, and Sunday we got our luggage unpacked and got some normalcy back in our lives.  I filled orders and!! met my 15 piece quota for the day. 

Today, (yes I'm writing this today), not as efficient... naps didn't line up, didn't get things accomplished! And now I'm remembering why I have to be so uptight about a schedule! 

Structure is everything to me. If I don't have structure. I don't accomplish things. I don't move forward. I need my checklists, my schedule, progress! I love my routine :)

This is my beloved real life. No magic here, but so much I want to remember. 

This is my beloved real life. No magic here, but so much I want to remember. 

We're back to reality but I couldn't be any happier. Our time together as a family was just great. It's such a wonderful feeling when you look forward to your every day life. 

Hope you have a great week! 

Thanks for reading!

 

Maker Monday: Brass Cuffs

September through December is my busy season. I begin making pieces for my Holiday Open House in November. In order to make sure I'm ready,  my husband Luke carries the team on the weekends so I can work. In an ideal world at least some of the time I would get to work by myself, without interruption. However with 4 kids ages almost 9 months to 7, there's spillover.  I usually have "help" from one or two. And I do my very best to embrace that! :) Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I yell! :)

My kids: Leo (almost 9 months), Anthony (almost 5), Lucy (7-1/2), Kate (almost 3)

My kids: Leo (almost 9 months), Anthony (almost 5), Lucy (7-1/2), Kate (almost 3)

This weekend I had some "wide open" time (something that really doesn't exist right now) to begin making some brass cuffs. 

My process usually begins with at least 1 helper! Anthony lasted until he hammered his thumb. Occupational hazard :). 

My process usually begins with at least 1 helper! Anthony lasted until he hammered his thumb. Occupational hazard :). 

After tending to a hurt thumb, I was able to get started. All my tools, plus an incredible sound deadening set of headphones! This process is loud!!! 

After tending to a hurt thumb, I was able to get started. All my tools, plus an incredible sound deadening set of headphones! This process is loud!!! 

Shaping. 

Shaping. 

Result of Shaping & Hammering. 

Result of Shaping & Hammering. 

Texturing happens while shaping, with a different hammer. 

Texturing happens while shaping, with a different hammer. 

Kate & I taping. I haven't oxidized cuffs before. I remembered tape to be a part of my oxidation process for necklaces. I use it to mask off the area that I don't want to be oxidized. So Kate & I got busy taping. Note to self. Taping is an unnecessary, aggravating, work adding step that turns brass black!! Ugh! Failure is usually a part of my process :)

Kate & I taping. I haven't oxidized cuffs before. I remembered tape to be a part of my oxidation process for necklaces. I use it to mask off the area that I don't want to be oxidized. So Kate & I got busy taping. Note to self. Taping is an unnecessary, aggravating, work adding step that turns brass black!! Ugh! Failure is usually a part of my process :)

Oxidation. These cuffs were dipped in solution without tape, after my tedious tape fiasco (having to peel off one tiny piece of tape after another, for something that didn't even work out is not my idea of a good time!) Another learning moment: Do NOT leave cuffs in solution all night!! This batch had to be be scrubbed down and started again!

Oxidation. These cuffs were dipped in solution without tape, after my tedious tape fiasco (having to peel off one tiny piece of tape after another, for something that didn't even work out is not my idea of a good time!) Another learning moment: Do NOT leave cuffs in solution all night!! This batch had to be be scrubbed down and started again!

A cuff I'm not happy with after being oxidized.

A cuff I'm not happy with after being oxidized.

One I'm thrilled about after I got it right!!! What I love about oxidized brass is that it creates one-of-a-kind pieces. The colors are so beautiful. The pieces have this natural beautiful imperfect finish to them that I love. 

One I'm thrilled about after I got it right!!! What I love about oxidized brass is that it creates one-of-a-kind pieces. The colors are so beautiful. The pieces have this natural beautiful imperfect finish to them that I love. 

Below are some finished pieces. I am very excited about how they turned out! Imperfect, Full of character, makes me happy!

Thanks for reading! Have a great day! 

The newest thing I'm working on!

Hello! It’s been a while! I have so much to share! I’m 19 weeks pregnant with a boy! I’ve never had an idea of what my definition of a perfect family was, but I am very happy with the balance. I’m excited to give Anthony a brother! I’ve had a fairly uneventful pregnancy, but it’s kicked my butt! Emotional & a mental exhaustion are my reality right now

Lucy just started 1st grade at Bishop McNamara. She’s very excited to be back at school, I hope that keeps up. She's an incredible big sister. So sweet. And so helpful. She is a kind and amazing little girl.

I am so proud of how hard she works and what she's accomplished.

One of the things that makes me most happy about our family is Anthony & Lucy's love for each other. I swear Anthony'd live with Lucy until she was 100.

Anthony is getting close to 4 year now. He got a bow and arrow set yesterday and it is everything to him. He is such a sweet and sensitive little boy. Right now, he is very skilled at giving me a run for my money every day. He's in a do what ever he wants phase, which is very challenging for this pregnant mama.

How I think he sees me.

How I think he sees me.

How I need to try harder to see him.

How I need to try harder to see him.

Kate is at a really great age, she’ll be 2 in October. She loves saying words just because she knows what they are. She told me “I love you” for the first time yesterday!

She’s a joy. It will break my heart for her to no longer be my baby.  She's my little side kick right now.  I love spending the day with her and her big head of hair!

Then there’s baby boy living in my belly, who I can feel kick at all times of the day! I love this part of pregnancy!

I’ve been developing a lot of new ideas that I’m excited about! I thank God daily for Jewelry. It’s my time to create and that is something that’s essential to my well-being. The cuffs I’ve created are something that’s been a part of my jewelry wardrobe for quite some time. My 1” brass cuff has become a permanent part of my right arm. These will be featured at the Kankakee Farmer's market on August 27. I will also be a part of the Kankakee Farmer’s market on September 10. I will be featuring  an every day collection, that currently lives in my head, but will be created by the market. The brass necklace that I wear every day inspired this collection. It's simple, full of patina, and has become a part of me. My holiday open house will be November 17, and I will have many beautiful beaded pieces created for then. Thank you so much for reading today! I hope you’re well and enjoying August! I hope to see you Saturday, August 27!

Mandy

Valentine's Day & Jewelry just go Hand-In-HAND

 

 Valentine's Day inspired me to design this piece, and I'm pretty excited about it!

I have to admit, I sometimes need a big fat reminder, to make time for my husband: he & I time. When we get home at night our life is hectic.  We’ve got dinner, baths, homework, movie time, and then Luke goes to sleep and I work.  We have the best intentions to have a date night, but we just don’t seem to get to it.  To me, Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity to make each other a priority and reconnect. I feel like it’s very easy for me to forget, but in all truth, my husband and my marriage are my foundation. He's the stability to my erratic personality. He knows how to push my buttons because he knows me to the core.  He's thoughtful, strong, and he works relentlessly to make sure my needs and our kids’ needs are met.  

 A lot of my designs are inspired by my love of my kids, but they’re kind of hard to forget! They need me or something constantly. Luke isn’t the type that puts his needs first so, in all honesty, I often forget to put him first. I wanted to design something that honored us and I could wear, hopefully to put our marriage in the front of my mind much more often. Our love has grown and changed in a beautiful way since we were first married, and I’m very proud of it. It's not without its fights, or normal everyday bumps, but I couldn’t be any happier.   

 This necklace embodies love, commitment, & connection. The quirks & the little imperfections become what’s most beautiful about it. The sterling silver disc anchors the piece. It’s hammered with Luke & my initials.  I stamp letters into sterling silver, because they become permanent. They’re set.  The hammered piece represents the very thing I hope for my marriage, something lasting. It also represents the fact that I want a marriage worth wishing that permanence, so I have to do the work.  I love silver because it’s wearable, and it ages beautifully. I think that’s one of the most heartfelt things to wish in a relationship. That it can grow and change with you.  I chose to add stones instead of merely having just a simple disc. I really wanted to make something more adorned, because I really want to honor our marriage. Me being the simple person I am, I don’t take adornment too far. So I’ve embellished the pieces enough so it feels special to me, but not overdone. I chose stones that complement each other and have just the right amount of imperfection. I love semi-precious stones because they’re authentic, beautiful, and full of visual interest.  It’s the flaws that make them and people interesting and beautiful. You’re lucky to have the quirks, that’s where the stories come from! Labradorite and Turquoise are my favorites. Brass hexagons too, and of course my current stone crush, Dalmatian Jasper. They all have something interesting about them. They bring out the best in each other. In my 9 years of being married, I’ve learned just how well Luke & I suit each other. I always thought it was important to have someone who thought just like you, but what really works for us is our balance. We are each other’s counterpart. The reason we work is part of the reason the stones work so well together.

I’m committing to wear this piece and to add a little spark to our relationship at the same time. I will wear my piece each day to remind me to text a hello, or make Luke’s favorite dinner. I designed the piece to look great with a pair jeans and a t-shirt or a little black dress. This piece is meant to be worn every day. I kept mine long, so that I have to take it on and off. For one, I will forget it and its sentiment if I have it on all of the time. Two, I love long necklaces. Then last, I love something that’s special to me, and beautiful and the same time, but that’s not obvious what it’s about. Like my marriage, this piece is quietly meaningful. My husband and I don’t have to declare our love from the mountaintops.  I know what this piece represents, but most people will just see me wearing a necklace that’s pretty. 

 Have I scared you with the window into my crazy mind? When my design was all said and done, I think the necklace ended up being a perfect metaphor for our marriage. I named it the Valentine Necklace. I hope you like it! Thank you for reading! Have a great day!