Tag Archives: vintage lucite

blaugust #18: tell me a colorstory.

I spent a lot of time this past weekend making new necklaces for urban legend. Well, cleaning up a dire mess in my supplies and work area, and then making new necklaces. Whenever I’m planning a weekend session of making, I collect sources for color inspiration. Depending on how specific they are, I’ll either make a list or I’ll print out a sheet of thumbnail photos that I’m planning to work from. These come from all over – photographs that I’ve taken, posts I’ve liked on Instagram, spreads in magazines, color boards on Pinterest – the list is endless. In the last couple of years, though, outfits I’ve spotted while riding public transportation have played a huge role in my creative process. I never used to sneak pictures of strangers, but the fashion in Portland is so good that I do it at least once a week now. When I sit down to collect that sheet of thumbnails, it always includes a scroll through the photos on my phone. That’s right: I am that woman surreptitiously taking a photograph of the back of your dress while you, all unsuspecting, ride the train. Because it’s a really sensational dress. In the first place, I’m a huge fan of stripes cut on the bias like that. And in the second place, I’m a sucker for a punch of black right in the middle of those juicy summer melon colors. So I’ll hold the phone up as unobtrusively as I can, and grab a picture that just shows enough of a pattern so I’ll remember it. Thanks, fellow commuter and your outstanding dress. And then I’ll just happen to glance out the window as the train goes over the river, and I’ll see that boxy mustard yellow building that I see every day, but today it’ll have a perfectly blue sky behind it and a towering rusted crane in front of it. That’s another necklace right there. I hadn’t realized until I made my list this week how much commuting has featured in my color work lately, but it’s nice to know that all those hours soaking up what I see eventually get used in the studio.

 

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.

working with borrowed eyes.

Last weekend I was working on a new necklace design. I loved the colorstory of white, brown and cobalt that I’d had in my head for several days. The beads I chose were the right shades, but a collection of difficult shapes. Normally when I’m working, I just keep tweaking something until it looks right to my eyes, but this time I restrung the necklace several times until I wasn’t sure what looked right anymore. I wanted a second pair of eyes, but being home alone at a fairly late hour on the west coast, I didn’t have one. So I tweeted a picture of the necklace and asked for yea or nay votes.

The first response was a nope, not done yet, try again. The next two responses were unqualified yea votes. The fourth vote was “aaaalmost, but maybe you should try swapping the small bead under the shell and put it on top of the shell.” I made notes and went to bed.

The next morning, I had several more responses and I got interested in how we see things: what our eyes expect to see, and what, individually, pleases or offends the eye. Finishing the necklace ended up taking a back seat to collecting as much information as I could about how different people saw this one piece. I decided to tweet it again and see what else I could gather. There were several more responses, so varied that some of the suggestions were exact opposites. Curiously, everyone I asked loved the bead that bothered me the most: the large translucent cobalt on the bottom left of the arrangement. I starred all the responses and set about stringing a version of the necklace for each suggestion.

This was the final tally of comments:

  • Unqualified nay, try again: 1 vote
  • Unqualified yea: 3 votes
  • Add smaller beads on the left to balance the narrowness of the shell on the right: 2 votes
  • It needs one more color: 2 votes
  • Add one small bead on top of the shell on the right: 6 votes
  • Take out the large brown bead: 1 vote

There were too many trial versions to post all of them here, but this is a sampling of what I tried.

  

  

The process was fascinating, and I ended up having several conversations with artists in  various mediums about how we decide when something is done, and how much influence we get from other people while we’re working. I gained an affection for my original version, although it still looks a bit off to me, and have kept one of those for a project I’m doing. The final version ended up having just one tiny blue bead added on top of the shell bead; that necklace is available for sale in my urban legend shop. If you like any of the alternate versions and are interested in purchasing one, please email me and I’ll set it up for you.

i want candy.

My urbanlegend shop is turning 2 years old this month. That’s 2 years of making big, fun, candy-looking, please-don’t-eat-the jewelry, and I’ve enjoyed every minute so far. I’ve also placed no less than 10 orders for beads in the last two weeks, so you can look forward to yet more fun new stuff – and I can look forward to trying to figure out where I’m going to put everything.

To celebrate this sugary bounty, I’ll be having a sale from Friday, March 11 (that’s tomorrow!) through Wednesday, March 16. Use the code IWANTCANDY in the coupon box of the Etsy checkout to take 20% off your order. Thanks for being a friend to urbanlegend, and I hope to see you in the candy store.

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