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12 Days of Sparkle

For the next twelve days, December 4-15, I’ll be offering one featured item a day at a deep discount. Sale prices will last for one day only (and supplies are limited, and may not last the day!). I’m going to be drawing from both urban legend and Leaves of Glass, so keep your eyes open for your favorites.

Today’s festive sparkler is Carry a Torch, in vintage crystal and sterling silver, from Leaves of Glass.

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Falling for leaves.

These lampwork glass leaves with aventurine speckles are some of my favorite vintage materials, and I was really excited this week to find a new color. I’ve had them in cobalt and aqua and black and a weird kind of minty green that I didn’t love but used anyway because they’re really rare and hey, I’m getting sidetracked here. Anyway, I found white ones! I think these are my favorites; the milk glass shows off the coppery gold flecks of aventurine so beautifully. When these arrived, I had a different plan for them, but a moment of serendipity with a box of purple beads resulted in these earrings. They’re very limited, so if you like them, grab a pair while they last!

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Memento Mori.

For a long time, I’ve wanted to make a jewelry design inspired by Victorian mourning jewelry. Mourning jewelry was worn both as a symbol of mourning and as a memorial to loved ones. It was usually made of black jet, and sometimes incorporated the hair of the deceased in intricate patterns. There are some fantastic surviving examples of rare pieces made entirely of hair.


Images from Flickr’s Creative Commons.

I love the intricacy of these pieces, and their simple, direct social significance. While the hair pieces were generally very intricate and delicate, jet pieces were frequently carved in a heavier, simpler chain pattern. They’re elegant, and eloquently symbolic.

My tribute piece doesn’t use hair, but I do have some beautiful old bone components for jewelry. When I set out to make my Memento Mori choker, I used those. For the jet component, I chose large vintage black glass rough cut beads. Rough cut (also sometimes called English cut) beads have smooth, irregular facets. They’re imperfectly shaped, but each facet is sharp and defined, and they catch the light so beautifully. They’re generally fairly small, so the larger ones in this piece are a bit rare. I love rough cuts for their imperfection, and their insistent personality. The ones I’ve used here seem both sedate and demanding, and I like the effect they create. The line of jet is broken on one side by a vintage bone infinity symbol, originally part of a clasp. The choker is finished with a vintage hand carved bone hook clasp, which is accented with an antique and very rare black tri-corner Czech pressed glass bead.

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I’m really pleased with how this piece turned out, and I hope to do a few more pieces with the same feel. If you’re interested in mourning jewelry, you can check out some other photos I’ve gathered on Pinterest.

Always it is by bridges that we live.

I’m just back from two weeks in Yorkshire visiting Phil. This was my first visit to Hull. I was looking at the city through lots of different eyes: through Phil’s, as he showed me the city he loves; through mine, as they sought and discovered all the things my eyes love; through ours as we imagined a life we could share together in this city.

It was so much fun to play tourist with Phil in a city he’s lived in all his life, and watch him see things in a new way as I noticed them. He had all the fun of watching me fall in love with the light and the street names and the oh-so-welcoming frequency of pubs. And of introducing me to a number of British foods I hadn’t tried before (pork pie, Yorkshire pudding, sausage roll, pork scratchings, and so many cakes of increasing fanciness), and making sure I didn’t step out into the street after carefully looking the wrong way for traffic. I can’t count the number of times I stopped to stare up at something in dumb happiness, only to feel a gentle hand on my elbow, steering me back to the sidewalk. No, the pavement. Sidewalk is called pavement in England. (I must also accustom myself to the word trousers, to avoid Very British Scenes of Embarrassment.)

We spent a lovely long morning rambling through an enormous old cemetery, deciphering inscriptions. It just kept going back and back and back, into ever more tangled underbrush, and then opening suddenly into little clearings full of crypts and monuments. There were two days spent hunting down 41 fish sculptures on the Historic Fish Trail (you can read about that on Phil’s blog), pleasantly interspersed with 15 pubs on the no less historic Ale Trail. (Phil did a really beautiful job documenting both of these in their entirety on Instagram.) We visited the Gentoo penguins at The Deep, and got all nerdy-giddy over the sharks and rays. I met his family, and we liked each other.

We also spent a solid amount of time sitting on the couch with the cat and watching one dumb movie after another. We’ve gotten very good at being together long distance, but it’s not easy to live 6,000 miles away from your partner. When we’re lucky enough to be in the same room for a while, the simplicity of reaching out to touch one another is a huge happiness. Reading aloud, sitting quietly together immersed in our own projects, doing the interwoven kitchen dance of preparing a meal together – these were my favorite times in these two weeks, and they’re what carry us through until we can be in the same room again.

We found this sign in the charmingly-named Land of Green Ginger. The tiny street in Old Town is also home to England's smallest window.

. . We found this sign in the charmingly-named Land of Green Ginger. The tiny street in Old Town is also home to England’s smallest window.

Side door of St. Mary's Church in Old Town

Side door of St. Mary’s Church in Old Town

Hull is the only region in the UK with its own telecom company, and has cream phone boxes instead of the traditional red.

Hull is the only region in the UK with its own telecom company, and has cream phone boxes instead of the traditional red.

The Ferens Gallery has a wonderful collection of Dutch masters.

The Ferens Gallery has a wonderful collection of Dutch masters.

SHARK! The Deep is a wonderful aquarium with several different vantage points on an impressive shark tank.

SHARK! The Deep is a wonderful aquarium with several different vantage points on an impressive shark tank.

Jellyfish at The Deep.

Jellyfish at The Deep.

We have had beer. At Wm Hawkes in the Old Town.

I fell in love with the light in Hull, especially on the water.

I fell in love with the light in Hull, especially on the water.

Art Nouveau detailing on an arcade in Old Town.

Art Nouveau detailing on an arcade in Old Town.

Waffle doughnuts with cake on top at Hull Fair.

Waffle doughnuts with cake on top at Hull Fair.

Kissable.

Kissable.

One of 25 installations commemorating Philip Larkin, found throughout Hull and surrounding towns. This was my favorite of the ones we saw.

One of 25 installations commemorating Philip Larkin, found throughout Hull and surrounding towns. This was my favorite of the ones we saw.

Yorkshire Rose at the bottom of my pint glass.

Yorkshire Rose at the bottom of my pint glass.

Archie.

Archie.

Phil photographing the sign at the Green Bricks for the ale trail.

Phil photographing the sign at the Green Bricks for the ale trail.

It’s so nice to see you again.

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Today, I’m relaunching my Leaves of Glass jewelry shop on Etsy. The shop has been on a different site for the last few years, but Etsy is where I got my start and where I built my name and my business. As I’ve been preparing to return, it’s felt so good to be back in that home. There’s been a lot to do to get ready, but I keep getting sidetracked browsing through all the designs I’ve made and sold since my beginnings in 2007 (some of my old favorites are shown here). Conversations with dear friends I met through Etsy keep calling my name and reminding me of where I’ve been. Each piece of jewelry is a reminder of the experience that inspired it, and the people I’ve met who now wear the stories I made. One story leads to another, and to another, and I’ve had a wonderfully happy month turning the lights back on and sweeping the cobwebs away.reconstruction

It has stung a little bit to be going through this process of rebirth just as Etsy has decided to do away with its user-curated home page in favor of one that’s generated by an algorithm. That twelve item format of community-built content was beautiful, and it’s led me to so many wonderful makers over the years that I probably never would have seen without it. The user-curated home page was a way to see through someone else’s eyes. It was one specific person saying to everyone who landed on that page, “This is what I find beautiful; these are the connections I see.” It was unique and profoundly personal, and I mourn the loss of that personality in Etsy.

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Etsy gave me my introduction to the community of people who make things, and I’m forever grateful for that. When the home page disappeared, it felt briefly like the end of community to me, but I had that wrong. We build that community ourselves every time we make something. Every time we talk about what we’ve made, every time we put what we’ve made into someone else’s hands. One person to one person, community is forged. I love selling online more than through any other medium because it gives me such a long reach. I get to talk and listen to more people in more places in a more intimate way than I ever can at a craft show or in a physical shop. Story is the engine that powers me, and this is where it thrives. So I’m thrilled to be back at Leaves of Glass. The lights are on, the door is open, and I’m full of stories. Come and hear them. Come tell me yours.

saucy