Thursday, August 26, 2010

Psst - Sale Going On!

In case you don't already know - Andrew Thornton is currently holding a big studio sale. I didn't act fast enough and missed out on a beautiful Jeremy Sinkus jellyfish pendant, but as of the time I write this post, this beauty - from the early days of Green Girl Studios - is still available. Please someone save me from myself and buy this before I do! Go here to check out all of the goodies.

Monday, August 23, 2010


The Short One is truly on vacation this week, so we've been lounging around at home. We spent the morning dyeing paper. This project is one I remember doing when I was slightly older than the SO (although we used paper towels rather than coffee filters - I rather like the coffee filters). It was pretty satisfying (the SO loves messing with food coloring and mixing colors generally), but we did run out of space pretty quickly:

I'm sure this will be on our agenda again later this week.

Hope everyone else had a great weekend. Here are your links for the week:

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
For this week's Thursday Giveaway, TWO winners will walk away with beautiful bead sets created by Gaea Ceramic Beads. Jewelry Making
Have you ever thought about expanding your jewelry business but need a little mulla to do so? Then you may want to learn more about this jewelry grant.

Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
Melanie shows the results of her experiments with Ice Resin and LEDs... Light! Science!

Cindy Gimbrone, The Lampwork Diva
This week Cindy's Mad for Monday is about the frit.

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean reviews Making Mixed Media Art Charms and Jewelry: not to be missed!

Carmi's Art/Life World
This week Carmi makes a floral tribute necklace with fabric flowers.

Beading Arts
Chapter three of Cyndi's e-book is available for download! "Dimensional Beading" looks at how to use textural stitches in your bead embroidery!

A Bead A Day
Do you have plenty of beads in all the right colors? Lisa is exploring the meaning of the color purple and discovers she might need to do some bead shopping!

Art Bead Scene
It's the Art Bead Scene Monthly Carnival Blog! Join us as we embark on an exploration.

Strands of Beads
Melissa unveils her new Saturn charm.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

M-A's Hearts

My friend Mary-Ann wanted to make, or have her talented daughter Liz make, matching Dragon Heart earrings for the two of them. We discussed it and decided I would make a slightly larger version of the charm for necklaces to make the set complete. So the larger versions are about double the size of the original charm but still significantly smaller than my original Dragon Heart pendant. I think they're pretty cute as a set!

Thanks for the inspiration, M-A! (Tell Liz she has to send me pics once she finishes your jewelry!)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Have Spaceship, Will Travel

Here's another new entry in my book of charms. Images of Saturn are so beautiful and classic looking - I couldn't resist making it my third space-themed charm. (Erin Prais-Hintz has had this uncanny ability to read my mind when it comes to upcoming designs - she's done it at least three times in the past year. Each time I read one of her comments, my first response has been: "Shhhh! Don't tell anyone else - I'm not ready yet!" If you look at my earlier rocket ship charm post, you'll see she got me again. It did motivate me to finish up these charms, though. Thanks, Erin!)

Actually, this isn't the first Saturn bead I've made. This design - all of the space designs, really - date back to 2008, when I first had the idea to develop a line of space-themed beads. I did create this three dimensional Saturn back then, but, as usual, I got distracted and moved on to other projects.

I think these charms are a modest beginning in the right direction. Hopefully, I'll be continue down this road (including more of the larger, three dimensional Saturns) this year.

In the meantime, though, I'll enjoy these charms. I hope you do, too.

By the way, does anyone know the origin of the title of this post? It's a slight misquote of the title of one of my all-time favorite science fiction books from when I was a kid. I'm just wondering if there are any other fans out there!

Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Shipping Reduction

I have to admit, when I started making the charms a couple weeks ago, I had a bit of a dilemma - keep my standard Priority Mail shipping for the charms or more over to First Class Mail? I really prefer Priority Mail - it's convenient and it's somewhat trackable. However, I was preparing to mail my winner's charm to her last night, and it just seemed like overkill to insist on boxing it up and sending it Priority. So, I'm going to try something different. For the time being, only the charms will carded and bagged, rather than boxed, and shipped via First Class in a padded envelope. We'll see how that works out.

If you are a designer or beadmaker, and are willing to share your opinion, I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on how you handle shipping.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, August 15, 2010


No matter how many years pass, I can never get over how beautiful the water lilies look at this time of year. Because I am a local, I tend to take the Chicago Botanic Garden a bit for granted and hardly ever remember to bring my camera with me when I visit. I took it with me for the kite festival last weekend and actually remembered to snap photos of a few of my favorites from the garden as well.

Here's a little visual inspiration for you - aren't they stunning? It makes me want to run out and create water-themed pieces.

Salad Days

Here's a pic of last night's salad. Apart from carefully arranging crustless peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, sliced diagonally, with fruit and a pickle for the SO, I have absolutely no sense of mise en place - hence the extreme close-up here. Red and yellow cherry tomatoes from the garden over fresh mozzarella, drizzled with aged balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, fresh cracked pepper and topped with fresh basil. (The basil is also from the garden, but don't look too closely at my poor excuse for chiffonade.) Simple but yummy.

The weather has been nice and warm this year where we live so our tomato plants have been going gangbusters. We have also had a nice yield of okra, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, swiss chard, etc., etc. Now if only we could convince the SO to eat any of it...

I actually spent last night making a few more charms. I've had a couple orders to fulfill, so I hope to fire the kiln again on Tuesday - which means I should have at least one or two new designs to show off again. I think my design development is finally slowing down, though. I'll probably be moving on to something else in the next week or two.

I hope everyone had a nice weekend. Here are your links for the week:

Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
Melanie joins some up with some hacker friends to play with LEDs and Ice Resin

Carmi's Art/Life World
Carmi pulls out her buttons to make a jeweled attachment for sweaters. Jewelry Making
Tammy found some inspiration by way of some very cool clasps!

Beading Arts
Do you like art charms? Visit Beading Arts and sign up to win a copy of a brand new book on making them!

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean continues her analysis of the jewelry designers whom she admires--wait!!!--loves! with some of her favorite seed beaders and weavers on "The Jean's List"!

Art Bead Scene
Get your inspiration on for the August Art Bead Scene Monthly Challenge. Think "Sunrise."

Cindy Gimbrone, The Lampwork Diva
Cindy previews an upcoming newsletter series, Happy HalloweenMas. Sign up for her newsletter to find out what it's all about.

Lorelei's Blog: Inside the Studio
Lorelei is always inspired by music, and shares a favorite tune by Tori Amos.

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
Do you have a collection of lampwork beads nobody ever sees? Embrace simple, easy designs to showcase your glass treasures! Andrew shares five quick projects to inspire you to finally wear them!

Strands of Beads
Melissa puts a new twist on her skully charm by pairing it with a new cutlass design.

Thanks for visiting.

Friday, August 13, 2010

And the Winner is...

The results are in - the Short One has selected a winner. I was quite amused that on this day of all days, Friday the 13th, the SO chose

as the winner. Lucky 7 is Michelle Mach - congratulations, Michelle! Let me know which charm you would like to have and send your mailing address to me at melissa[at]

I had a great turnout for this giveaway, and I really appreciate it. As a special "thank you" to everyone who entered, I'm offering 20% off all items in my new store through Sunday, August 15th. Just enter the promotional code CHARMED when you check out to have the discount applied. (Any orders placed during this period will ship out early next week.)

Thank you again and have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Avast Ye Scurvy Dogs

Like most of us, I'm sure, I look forward with great enthusiasm to International Talk Like a Pirate Day (which will roll around with its usual inevitability on September 19th). This year, I plan on being really prepared with jewelry to match. I thought I could turn one of my skully charms a little more pirate-y if I paired it with a little cutlass. What do you think?

And thus, here's the last charm for the week. Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Fly Me To the Moon

I think I have to face facts that I'm not going to be able to keep up the pace of design that I've enjoyed for the past few weeks. I might have one more new charm to show you before the contest deadline, but that will be it. The others will have to wait until next week - at least. The Short One will be on vacation for the next several weeks (his school starts quite late), so all bets are off as to how much I'll be able to get done. Still, it's been a fun couple weeks. Thanks for joining me!

Here's a cute little rocketship. I wanted to created a charm that would complement the moon design I unveiled earlier:

I think they'd make a cute pair of earrings. What do you think? I'm working on a third space-themed charm, but I'm positive I won't be able to introduce it until next week.

There are still two days left to enter my charming charm giveaway. Go here, if you haven't already entered.

Thanks for visiting.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Bite Me

It's close enough to the Witching Hour to show off my little fang charms. Have I mentioned yet how much I love this time of year?

Honestly, I can't decide if these are cool or cheesy, but I do like how they came out. They are pretty small, too:

As with the rest of the charms I've unveiled this week, these are also a part of the giveaway, should the winner like this design the best. Go here to enter.

Thanks for visiting.

Minimize Me

Here's a smaller version of my Stop Traffic pendant. I was originally going to try putting colored concrete in the pendant, rather than resin, but changed my mind at the last minute. I may try it in a later batch of charms, though. I threw this particular charm on a chain this morning and wore it to morning drop-off at the SO's camp. It was a good look, although, as is typical for me, I find that I have practically no shirts with the right collar for wearing a charm necklace.

Speaking of which, I sat down the other night and tried to come up with a few jewelry designs to support the new charms. I was completely flummoxed when I discovered that, since I usually like big, chunky designs, I have virtually no beads delicate enough to string with the charms. It seems I'm going to have to go bead shopping soon. What a fate worse than death, eh?

As with my previous posts, this charm is also included as one of the giveaway charms, if it happens to be the winner's favorite! Please visit my earlier post to enter the drawing.

Thanks for visiting.

Go Fly a Kite

The Chicago Botanic Garden held its annual Kite Festival this past weekend. We decided to attend with the Short One this year and ended up having a great time.

Kites are so beautiful, aren't they? To be honest, I don't have many memories flying kites when I was a child, but I've always admired their colorful designs.

I was rather partial to this dragon, but the owners had some trouble getting it up in the air.

We all thought the shark was rather cool, too.

In addition, the Chicago Fire Kite Team performed with amazing stunt kite flying. I'd never even heard of this before - it was interesting to see formation kite flying (there are videos on the Garden website here, if you're interested).

It was a fun family event. The SO had the opportunity to make his own small paper kite, and we ended up taking a larger one home with us to fly in the field near our house.

I hope you had a good weekend, too. I actually finished up four more charm designs (with yet another 3 designs in process, believe it or not), so expect pics shortly. (And, yes, I have thought about making a kite charm but am still grappling with making the tail sturdy enough for daily wear...)

In the meantime, here are your links for the week:

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean explains a bit more about "The Jean's List", an ongoing selection of her favorite jewelry designers selected from all types of jewelry!

A Bead A Day
Lisa's exloring the concept of "happy jewelry"! Stop by and share your thoughts on expressing happiness in your jewelry designs.

Lorelei's Blog: Inside the Studio
Lorelei visits a cool lampwork artist in Atlanta, and tries her hand at making a bead.

Carmi's Art/Life World
Carmi whips up a one hour brooch project with left over chain.

Katie's Beading Blog
See 3 bloggers' ideas for painting metal, stringing crystals and making custom toggles using my new components. Jewelry Making
Tammy has spotted several celebrities who have new jewelry lines and wonders what you think about this.

Cindy Gimbrone aka The Lampwork Diva
Cindy learns that the fourth time can be a charm.

Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
Melanie's friend David Erk Nelson shares a free project from his upcoming book Snip, Burn, Solder, Shred...a stuffed Cthulhu sock toy!

Art Bead Scene
Art Bead Scene gets creative with storing supplies.

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
Offered up in this week's Thursday Giveaway is a pack of Katiedid Creative Components by Katie Hacker.

Beading Arts
Metal clay is a great material to have in your jewelry-making repertoire!

Strands of Beads
Melissa is giving away one of her new fine silver charms this week. Enter now!

Thanks for visiting.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Even More Charming...

I finished a few more charm designs. Here's the first - a cute little ladybug. Once again, this reflects recent interests in our household. Among other things, the Short One discovered the joys of bug collecting this summer. He started out with fireflies but got terribly excited and ended up bringing all manner of grasshoppers, beetles and crawly things-in-a-jar into the house. Here's the one I find the most innocuous (as long as they don't travel in hordes, at least - is there a term for a group of them?), a little lucky ladybug.

I wasn't so sure about this next design:

Little silver buttons always strike me as being very ladylike for some reason. Not that I have much personal experience with this, frankly. And they are quite dainty:

I wanted to develop a design to complement the skulls, so I came up with a new version of an old favorite of mine - an eye charm. As you can see, this is a human eye rather than a dragon eye. I didn't really mean it to be a charm against the evil eye, but I guess, inevitably, it probably looks like one:

It's a bit big compared to the skull (almost twice the size, really), but I think might work well in a grouping, maybe with one of the mini dragon hearts.

Finally, I just kind of cut this charm off the cuff the night I was working on the others:

Yep, a classic cobweb. I used a few large round cobweb pendants last year for Halloween-themed designs. I think setting the design in the rectangular tag-shaped charm, gives it a nice effect. This, too, is larger than the other charms,

but still pretty understated and small for me. I only made one of these, but I liked the way this one turned out, so I'll probably make a few more, especially given that we're heading into my favorite time of year again. (I had serious negotiations with the SO yesterday about Halloween costumes. Robin - of Batman and Robin - seems to be the frontrunner at the moment.)

Anyway, I'm currently tinkering with two more designs, and a couple more on the sketch pad, so there will probably be a few more things to show before I turn my attention back to boxes and bigger pieces. Don't forget, my Charming Charm Giveaway is running until Friday the 13th - so be sure to enter by posting a comment here. These designs are included in the giveaway, should the winner prefer one of these designs to the others I posted earlier this week. (And they are also available in the shop, for any interested parties.)

Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Charming Giveaway

As sad as it is to confess, my sense of style - where jewelry is concerned - sort of got stuck in the 80s. I like big pieces. Big earrings (back in the day, if they weren't at least 2" long, they weren't really earrings), big pendants, big statement jewelry. Big. Not small.

So, when I decided to make a Man in the Moon pendant (the Short One is very into the Man in the Moon these days), I planned on making a relief version similar in shape and size to the hippo one. Pretty straightforward.

In the meantime, however, I had a request from a customer to make a simple set of "Java Jive" letter charms. The night I made them, on a whim, I cut a simple moon face charm (above). And, well, I liked it. Simple, slightly rough looking. It worked for me. And it was small, probably the smallest piece I've ever made. See?

Well, I thought, why stop there? I made a few mini skully pendants:

This design was one of the earliest I created. I made the first one about a month after I started working with metal clay. Except the original version is about twice as big as this one. These are small and light enough to work perfectly well as earring components. Cool! So I decided to shrink yet another favorite, older design:

Here's a tiny version of my dragon heart pendant, just about 11mm square. Anyway, these all turned out quite well (in my humble opinion). As a test, I hung one of the little skullys on a ball chain, wore it around over the weekend and liked the result. So, I sat down with the clay and made a small school of fish:

You can probably tell where I'm headed, here. Not only do I have these four charm designs, I have two more on the table with prototypes for an additional two and sketches for at least one more. Yes, I'm completely charmed! Charms are charming!

Would you like to share my current joy in smallness? If so, please leave a comment here, below this post. On Friday, August 13th (an auspicious day if there ever was one), the SO will pick a winner. The winner, in turn, may pick one favorite charm, among not only the charms in this post but any I show off on the blog before the 13th, to be mailed to her or him. The usual rules apply - no "Anonymous" posters, please.

Oh, and if you can't wait until the 13th, I've put a few of the finished charms in the shop.

Thanks for visiting - I hope to hear from you!

UPDATE: You can view more charms here, here, here and here.

Monday, August 2, 2010


Here's a little bagatelle of a pendant from me - a cute little hippo dreaming (probably) of rainbow-colored ice cream. Yum.

As I mentioned yesterday, after my grand statement that I wanted to focus on big three-dimensional pieces, I went off on a tangent and created this medallion pendant, among other clearly small, two-dimensional pieces. Oh, well. Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, as they say.

Anyway, this little guy's been on my list of things to do for the past year. Back in the days when the Short One's vocabulary consisted solely of "No", "Mommy", "want" and a variety of animal names, we took a plane flight to New York. The SO had trouble with ear pressure during the descent and, in an attempt to distract him, I grabbed his doodle erase board and started sketching animals for him to identify. About fifteen animals later, the plane landed, and we toodled off the plane and had a fine vacation, but a few of the animal designs stuck with me (us). The hippo, being the salubrious beast that he is, was one of our favorites.

So, here's a charm for peaceful travel and a good night's sleep. (I'm putting him in the store, should anyone be interested.) More new (two-dimensional) designs from me later this week.

Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Full of Beans

I went out to the garden this evening and discovered that the SO's little lima bean plant is no longer all that little and is even starting to produce lima beans. I'm not sure why I'm so surprised by this, but I am quite surprised. I took photos to commemorate the SO's success for posterity, of course.

The SO and I put together a little Life and Times of the Lima Bean Plant booklet tonight, complete with the aforementioned photos, so he can take it to summer camp tomorrow for his "Show and Share" day. My little botanist is determined to donate the book to the school for posterity, but I'm trying to convince him to bring it back (it is, after all, still unfinished) so we can find out the end of the story and fill in the blank pages at the end. Still, it's good to be excited about books and plants (and hopefully lima beans, once they're ready to eat), right?

I actually fired the kiln this weekend and have some new work to show for it. Of course, after making all of those grandiose comments about making big statement pieces, I fired a bunch of small things, but they're still cute (in my humble opinion). I'll try to take pics tomorrow, so I can actually talk about beads and jewelry for the first time in weeks on the blog. In the meantime, I'll let my friends and colleagues do the talking - here are your intriguing links for the week:

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
Andrew's blog recently marked its four year anniversary. Celebrate with him, by entering to win a HUGE bead stash via this week's Thursday Giveaway!

A Bead A Day
A new beading component is on the market, created by and named after our fellow bead blogger Katie Hacker.

Beading Arts
Want to get in on a fantastic giveaway? Cabbing Rough is offering a Kingman turquoise cabochon on Beading Arts

Carmi's Art/Life World
Carmi was at CHA in Chicago and has a fabulous post about Prima Marketing.

Cindy Gimbrone aka The Lampwork Diva
This week's rewind makes a statement.

Art Bead Scene
Want to capture a bit of the summer? This week's collection of sea beads will keep those summer memories alive all year 'round. Jewelry Making
As part of the "Start a New Hobby" theme running through's hobby blogs this week, Tammy takes a moment to think about jewelry as more than a hobby. What about jewelry as a job?

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean reviews a SUPERfantastic new book by all star stamper and metalworker, Lisa Niven Kelly