Tag Archives: handmade

A mile marker in candyland.

test pattern

The fledgling jewelry shop I started a few years back so I could play with plastics is about to cross a very big milestone. I’ve sold nearly 3,000 items in my urban legend Etsy shop, and I’m really excited to see the odometer roll over in the next few weeks. When I opened urban legend, I was just starting to experiment with using vintage plastics in jewelry. The bold colors and bigger shapes took my designs in new directions, and it was so fun that it just kept growing and growing.

In the last few years, urban legend jewelry has been featured in UPPERCASE magazine, and been sold in shops in 9 states, as well as in Australia and France. Best of all, it’s brought me so many new friends. I love my work and I’m proud of it. It’s going to be exciting to see that nice round number appear in my Etsy shop!

To celebrate, I’ve planned a special giveaway for the customer who buys my 3,000th piece of jewelry. One lucky buyer will receive a custom long necklace in the style of the pieces shown below, in the color or colors of their choice. As of writing this, I’m 9 items away from the finish line; I can’t wait to see what happens!

As always, please don’t eat the jewelry.

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.


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.

please don’t eat the jewelry.

I finished my 70 necklaces for Portland Fashion Week last week, and shipped them off to their destination. It was a really fun project, and got me back into the habit of daily design. I’m pleased with what I’ve made, and I have lots of ideas for more!

My wonderful sister-in-law designed my packaging for this project. She designs and prints wedding invitations and favor bags, and you can find her shop, Mavora, on Etsy. Thanks, Abby! I used white popcorn bags, with my business cards attached to the necklaces inside. Packaging everything up and tying them together with little polka dot bows took several hours, but it was so satisfying to see all the bags lined up in rows like candy soldiers.

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I won’t get to see these reach their final destination, but I hope all the recipients enjoy their necklaces. I had the best time making them.

45 and counting.

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Most of the flat surfaces in my apartment currently have a little bundle of bright colors that looks like this. For the last month, I’ve been working on a project to design 70 of my urban legend vintage Lucite necklaces, to be included in swag bags for VIP tickets at Portland Fashion Week in September. When I started the project, I decided to design 70 completely new necklaces, and I’ve been making at least one a day. It’s been so much fun to put new work together and watch the pile grow!

In addition to collecting these for Portland Fashion Week, I’ve listed exactly one of each of these new designs in my Etsy shop. There will only be two of these designs in existence – one for the shop and one for the show – so if you see one you like, grab it fast!

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