Tag Archives: leaves of glass

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

It’s so nice to see you again.


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.


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.


wear your story.

One of the most rewarding things about designing jewelry is hearing from a customer who identifies something I’ve made as their signature piece. Reaching for the same pair of earrings day after day because it makes her feel like herself. Wearing a particular necklace because she knows it will make her smile when she looks in the mirror. Putting on a custom bracelet as a reminder of her strengths before starting a difficult day.

Bracelets have always been my favorite pieces to design and make. To me, they’re more narrative than any other form of adornment. ID bracelets, medic alerts, friendship bracelets, mourning armbands, cuffs – something about wearing that encircling form on our arms speaks to identity and sense of self in a very powerful way. They can be a mark of possession or self-possession, a talisman to the wearer – intimate, kinetic, sometimes hidden. You can’t look at a whole bracelet at once when it’s being worn – it’s in constant motion, with different focal points as it moves. The story is in motion.

Here are some of the stories I’ve been working on recently for Leaves of Glass. This week I’m making handcuffs – but that’s a story for later.

workingworking, plus color friends.

It’s been an almost normal week of creative work, as I find my way back into doing my thing. Working with glass again has felt like coming home, and I got to make some pieces for the new collections that I’ve been thinking about for months. Shana and I put together several color pairs in the last few days. It’s amazing how much easier that is when we’re sitting right next to each other. No more late-night badly lit phone pictures to try to coordinate colors and lines. It’s so much nicer when I can just poke her and say, “Is this awesome or horrible?” We did one this week that I think is my favorite colorfriends effort ever.

One of the collections I’ve had in mind is a series of jewelry designs inspired by fairy tales, and my contribution to this colorfriends is a pair of earrings in vintage glass and vintage metal. I used glass beads in black and wasabi green, and added vintage metal birdcage charms that I patinaed in a matte, aged white. They’re odd and distinctive and lovely. Shana made a yoyo necklace in matching colors with cotton and silk, and in a truly inspired move, used a print with a text pattern that added a whole other layer to the fairy tale idea. Together, they’re beautiful. We’ve called the pair Bird of Sorrow, after a Turkish fairy tale. You can read the full text here.

Shana’s necklace is available in her shop, and my earrings are listed at Leaves of Glass.

You can read her post about our other colorfriends pairs on Shana’s blog. Stay tuned for more new designs in both my shops, and more colorfriends.