Tag Archives: jewelry

radical economist.

Radical Economist Earrings 1

I have a long-time customer who years ago became a proper real life friend. Recently, I posted a new pair of Goblin Charm earrings on Instagram, and she was lamenting the fact that she already had a pair with these sequin bead balls. Ever a sparkle enabler, I said well, I can also get those in black and in copper, so… She was into it, so I sent her some photos of the other colors and some beads I was thinking about ordering. We bounced some ideas around and the sparkle went to our heads and somehow we ended up with a visual cue of Smaug the dragon sitting on top of his hoard of riches. Or, in a perfect world, Benedict Cumberbatch sitting on top of a hoard of jewelry. The dragon idea went perfectly with the scaly sequin beads, so I took it from there.

Radical Economist Earrings 2

A few days into my design process, Phil tweeted something about the dwarves of Middle Earth destabilizing the economy with all their mining and making. He has always had a theory that dragons are pitifully misunderstood creatures who just want to sit peacefully in their pile of gold, but people just will. not. stop. coming in and picking fights. (This theory is nicely supported by a wyvern in The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, by Catherynne Valente: “If people show up to a dragon’s mountain yelling about sacrifices and O, YE, FELL BEAST SPARE MY VILLAGE this and GREAT DRAGON, I SHALL MURDER THEE that, well, certainly, a fellow might have a chomp. But you oughtn’t judge any more than you judge a lady for eating the lovely fresh salad that a waiter brings her in a restaurant.”) This segued neatly into my making process, and these earrings became Radical Economist.

radical economist tweets

 

This is often how my process works, particularly with custom orders. An initial exchange of “Hey, I like that, but what if…” turns into a tumble of ideas and influences that sort themselves out into something new. Radical Economist was enormously fun to imagine and to make, and I love having all these elements of other people’s ideas woven into them.

Radical Economist 3

fond farewell.

The Goblin Charms project has been going really well the last couple of weeks. I got the stickers with Phil’s goblin drawings for the packaging. My rubber stamp technique is much improved, and there’s only a small pile of discarded smudged box tops. Best of all, I’ve been incredibly happy with the things I’ve been making. Several Lucite pieces have sold, and all of the glass pieces I’ve made so far except one have been claimed.

For the most part, I’ve not taken more than a couple of photos of these pieces. There’s a piece I made this week, though, that is extra special and I’ve taken dozens of pictures trying to capture it. None of them are exactly right, but I’m out of time to keep trying. The earrings have sold and are on their way to their new owner, with my gratitude and affection.

Velella Earrings 1.47

Velella is made with two rare antique molded glass Art Deco beadcaps, and my last handful of luminous vintage opalescent glass spacers. These beads represent two of my most beloved earlier designs.State Street Earrings 1.24855459

The purple beadcaps were used in a pair of earrings I called State Street. The caps hung from brown steel retaining rings, which were suspended from oxidized sterling silver chain. I had about a dozen pairs of these beauties, and when I was down to my last pair of caps, I squirreled them away for something special.

dream of the fisherman's wife earrings

Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife is my favorite pair of earrings I’ve made, ever. They were so, so beautiful, and I’ve have gone on making them forever if I could find the beads. But this is vintage life, and nothing lasts forever. They were a cascade of opalescent beads in a flattened bell shape, hung from a length of darkly oxidized sterling silver chain. Fluttering above the bead cluster were two vintage brass stampings in a curly wave shape. I applied heavy verdigris patina to these to give them an aged, green look. Between the grit of the metal, and the luminous pearly grey of the glass, something utterly magical happened. I loved them.

dream of the fisherman's wife earrings - Nicole Young

When it came time to say goodbye to the last elements of these designs, I gave them the very best send-off I could: I put them together. Velella is a decadent, glowing Art Deco jellyfish, both gritty and delicate. I’m so happy with this design, and I hope her new owner will be, too.

Velella Earrings 2.13

Goblin Charms

 

There’s a new project afoot in my studio. I’ve unearthed my treasured hoard of “this is the last one” beads and I’m doing something special with them in a new collection of jewelry I’m calling Goblin Charms. Each Goblin Charms piece is unique, and I’m selling this collection only via Instagram and Twitter. They’re literally one of a kind, and made in collaboration with my partner, Phil. When you buy a Goblin Charm, you’ll get a piece of jewelry designed and made by me, in a package with artwork made by Phil.

I believe that jewelry tells a story. When I make things, I’m imagining the person who will wear them, the story that this bracelet or that pair of earrings tells, the story that it will be become part of with a new owner. This new collection has a part of my story in it, as well.

Wear your story, and mine.

valentinesThis is a goblin love story. Fittingly, it starts deep beneath the earth, in a dark cavern veined with hidden treasure. Well, almost. Actually, it starts on the internet. Phil and I met on Twitter. We’re not 100% certain how we actually found each other, but it quickly became apparent that we both love books, extremely dreary weather, Spaceballs, inappropriate jokes, China Mieville, and making things with our hands. After some time, it also became apparent that we love each other. But PLOT TWIST! He lives in Yorkshire, England. I live in Portland, OR. We get to visit a couple of times a year, and we are very grateful to Google Hangouts for letting us be together in our virtual country. But we are in love, and we want to live together.

How are we going to do that, you wonder? We’re glad you asked. It’s a good story. I’m going to move to England. Patience is not my strong suit, and I may have already packed some stuff. But before this can really happen, I need to apply for a visa and we need to save enough money to pay for the visa, a plane ticket, and moving. As I said, we like making things. Phil codes ingenious tools and draws pen and ink monsters. I make jewelry. We’ve decided to make something together to help us reach our goal.

goblin with a ear rings and glassesFor a long time, I’ve been hanging onto a collection of rare vintage Lucite and glass beads. I’ve always meant to curate them into shadowboxes and have a permanent display, but somehow they’ve just stayed jumbled in a box. The truth is that I enjoy making things with beads more than I enjoy just hoarding them to look at. They should go out into the world and live their story there, even if it means they are lost or destroyed or lose their lustre. Beautiful things are meant to be seen and handled, meant to express themselves. I got the box out, and I started making one of a kind pieces of jewelry with these last precious works of art, and so Goblin Charms came to be. As I’m releasing a jewel hoard out into the daylight, I thought goblins were the perfect mascot. Phil draws excellent goblins, and he made a logo for us to use on packaging. Then he drew a small army of goblins festooned in jewelry just for good measure. This stripey lady just above with the John Lennon glasses is my favorite.

The money from each Goblin Charm sale goes straight into our savings account towards the day when we can live together. We are so grateful for our friends all over the world who have been watching our story and wishing us well. From the bottom of our goblin hearts, thank you. Your support means the world to us.

goblin_charms_bw

photo (43)

blaugust #09: cheers.

I love Portland, but there are a couple of things I really miss about living in Chicago. My friends there are at the top of the list, and my favorite bars – these two missings are closely related. This morning I was reminded of a wonderful bar called The Violet Hour that I often went to with my friend Natalie.

The fun starts before you even get in the door. The exterior of the bar is completely nondescript, with an entrance that looks like a stage back door. The artwork on the side of the building also changes regularly, and sometimes it conceals the door so well that you wouldn’t notice it if you didn’t know it was there – a nice nod to Chicago’s speakeasies during Prohibition. Violet Hour serves deliciously complex, perfectly balanced cocktails concocted by their bartenders. They all have wonderful, evocative names (often literary), rendered in a heady array of fonts on the menu. I’ve taken dozens of photos of elegant drinks there, but they’re all on my old phone and I can’t put my hands on them at the moment. I’ve stolen a recent one of Natalie’s; she sends me love letters on Instagram when she’s there.

violet hour 3I’ve kept a menu from almost every time I’ve been there, and for a while I was making a series of earrings based on my favorite cocktails. I came across this one this morning while I was working on the (never-ending) sorting of my Leaves of Glass back catalog. Hush & Wonder had the faintest trace of Creme de Violet, and it was delicious.

The menu changes regularly, but if you have a favorite cocktail of yore, chances are good that they’ll remember it and will make it on request. It’s a dark bar, heavy on the velvet and candlelight, with tables and chairs arranged in small groupings. The chairs all have very tall backs with heavy upholstery. Sound is absorbed and there’s a nice sense of privacy, even in a large open-plan room. It’s still easy to people-watch, though, and it’s a pleasure. And if you enjoy documenting your cocktail intake for social media, it’s absolutely designed to make that irresistible. Beautiful drinks, good glassware, tiny decanters, handsome food, candlelight – it’s intoxicating. The entire experience of an evening there is a feast for the senses, and I miss it.

Up tomorrow, another of my favorite places in Chicago: The Green Mill.

blaugust #06: sparkletalk.

I made a little deal with myself last week. The boxes of glass beads have been languishing lately. My time for making things is much more restricted than it was a couple of years ago, and when I sit down for a design marathon I tend to let the more popular urban legend designs take all my time. Leaves of Glass is my first venture, though, and still my true heart. I don’t want to let it slip away entirely.

Last week I decided I’d make at least one piece of vintage glass jewelry a day. Sometimes my only hope of succeeding at a challenge is NOT to publicize it. Talking about it can work as a catalyst for doing it (Blaugust is working that way for me, so far), but it can also work as creativity-stifling pressure. I’ve lost momentum from sheer panic before. This was a little challenge, and not really in danger of being derailed. But it was also a challenge from me, to me, for reasons of my own affection. So I kept it quiet and just forged ahead. I did well! I didn’t miss any days, and on a couple of days I made more than one thing. I posted most of them on Instagram, and several pieces were sold straight from there. For me, that’s the most rewarding design-to-sale format, and I’m always excited when it happens.

This is a gallery of my favorite pieces. The ones that are still available are listed for sale in Leaves of Glass on Etsy. I got my nimble glass fingers working again, and there will be more grit and sparkle to come this month.

(This is my sixth post for the Blaugust initiative.)