Go ahead…buy local!

The phrase “Buy Local” seems to be growing in popularity lately and it’s easy to see why. With all of the negativity that is out there, buying locally seems to bring a positive feeling to many people. I think that is because it causes us to feel we have done something good for our community.

And we have.

When we buy local, it supports our communities. Studies show buying local has a chain reaction because not only are you supporting the business from which you are buying, you are also supporting the local businesses that business works with, such as banks and other service providers. If you are buying locally grown produce, it supports the farms around your community, which can keep an area from becoming overdeveloped. By supporting local businesses, you are also supporting community organizations. Most community organizations get the majority of their financial support from local businesses, so when you buy from local businesses, you could also be supporting community organizations such as Lions clubs, Girl Scouts, and Boy Scouts.

Have you ever driven through a town full of empty storefronts and seemingly abandoned (or completely abandoned) homes? There are a few not far from where I live, and it’s not a very pleasant experience to drive through them. Pennsylvania was once a booming industrial state and as the industries close or move elsewhere, the towns dwindle in size and economy. Hopefully, as the concept of “Buy Local” grows it will help these struggling towns. It’s going to take a miracle to bring back the industries, but we can start small shops and support the small shops that already exist in order to keep money in the communities.

One more plus about buying locally, it saves gas! Now, I know some folks live in the country and driving into town is just as far as it is to the nearest WalMart, but if you live in town, it can really benefit you. Even if you don’t live in town, local merchants often buy their products as locally as possible, so not as much gas is used in the transportation of the merchandise. I always thought I would want to live outside town, but now I live within walking distance of my bank, the Post Office, a pharmacy, a convenience store, and a few small restaurants and I love the convenience!

Now, why am I writing this as a crafter? I write this because most craft shows are locally organized and the participants could be your neighbors. Crafters are local businesses even if their storefront is an EZ-UP canopy. Most crafters have the “buy local” concept down pat, and even if some of their supplies are not purchased locally, they still put the majority of their money back into their community by purchasing other items locally. Also, most craft shows are run by local organizations. When the crafters pay their show entry fee, they are supporting local organizations, including schools. For this reason, I try to only attend craft shows within about an hour of where I live.

Spring is nearly upon us (thank goodness!) and as the weather gets warmer, I challenge you to explore your local businesses and community events. Spend a day with a friend hopping from town to town to see what each town around you offers. You might find something you fall in love with. Then spend a few Saturdays at local events, whether they are community days or craft shows. If nothing else, getting outside and walking for a few hours will be great for your health! These events often have fun things for kids to do, too! So that is my challenge to you…I know you can do it!

I’d love to hear what you do or would like to do to buy local and support your local economy. Please feel free to leave a note about it in the comments section. Thanks for reading!

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A New Project!

I find I am at my best when I am constructing things with my hands. Sure there are days when whatever I am working on might make me scream, but I am still better at constructing than I am at anything else. I am also willing to try anything that involves being created by hand, from jewelry (as you have seen), to sewing, to food, and even woodworking.

That said, I have gone a little out of my usual this week and have been working on fabric items, specifically handbags. My jewelry is with a professional photographer right now, so I decided I wanted to work on something different for a change of scenery. I have a lot of fabric scraps from various projects I’ve done, so I decided to put them to use and make small handbags, which I will either put on my Etsy site when I get it running, or have at craft shows in addition to the jewelry.

The first bag I made was a reversible tote. It took a few tries since it’s been quite some time since I have been behind the sewing machine, but I think it turned out pretty cute. The orange side has two pockets, front and back.

I really like this style and I think I’m going to end up doing a few of them. I’m not 100% sure about them not being closed at the top, but I like the fact that since they aren’t closed, they are reversible. It gives you two bags for the price of one!

Then I found some smaller pieces of fabric and decided to make clutches. I love this concept, but they were not as easy as I thought they would be. Zippers and I do not get along. In the end, I think they look pretty good. They are big enough for a small wallet and a cell phone.

There is also a mini tote hanging there. It has two pockets on the inside, but it is not reversible. It’s the perfect size for a small grab-and-go bag or a purse for a little girl.

I have some other fabric pieces of various sizes and I think I will try to do a few more clutches and a few more totes. I am hoping to do at least one matching set with a clutch and a tote. Then you can carry your phone and money in the clutch and have the tote for your purchases (save a plastic bag!).

 

Measuring for Bracelets

Have you ever found an absolutely beautiful bracelet, especially online where you couldn’t try it on, then got it home only to find it didn’t fit? So often bracelets are either too tight to get closed or so loose they feel like they might slide off over your hand. Maybe it would help to have the measurement of your wrist when you purchase bracelets. If the length of the bracelet isn’t listed, make sure to ask the seller for the measurement before purchasing it.

Measuring your wrist is pretty easy, but you have to make sure you get the right spot. Using a flexible measuring tape, measure just above (towards elbow) the wrist bone. Where the tape overlaps is the length around your wrist. Add 1/4″ to 1 ” (1/2″ is average) to this number depending on how tight you like your bracelets to fit. You can even do this by loosening the tape measure to a point where it feels like a comfortable bracelet fit and using that number. This is the size (length) bracelet you would wear.

If you do not have a flexible measuring tape, you can still do this. Take a thin strip of paper and wrap it around your wrist. Mark where the end of the paper overlaps, and then measure the length of the paper to that mark. Again, add ¼” to 1” to determine your comfortable bracelet size.

Keep in mind, the size of the bracelet materials can make a difference in the way the bracelet fits. Chunky beads will make the bracelet tighter because they decrease the inside dimension of the bracelet when it wraps around your wrist. A simple chain bracelet might need to be a different length than a chunky bracelet in order for each of them to fit the same wrist comfortably.

If you would like to purchase a bracelet from me and the length is not to your liking, please let me know. I will modify the bracelet for you and get it to you without additional cost. Please note, I will need you to purchase the bracelet before I make modifications to it for you. I know these pieces can be tricky and I am willing to help get them just right.

Thanks for reading!

 

Going to great lengths…

Have you read my previous post on choosing the right jewelry for your face shape? If not, I encourage you to read that and then continue with this post. I say that because I want to ask you, what length of necklace are you most comfortable wearing? After reading my previous post, is the reason you prefer that length based on your face (and possibly neck) shape and size? I have a long neck, so I prefer shorter necklaces, especially chunky ones or several smaller ones together to create a chunky look because it makes my neck look shorter. However, many of my clients prefer their necklaces to be a little longer. Let’s explore necklace lengths a little more now.

Collar and Choker

The names collar and choker are often used to describe the same thing…a short, snug-fitting necklace. Collar length necklaces usually run between 10 and 12 inches in length, while the choker length necklaces are between 14 and 16 inches in length. A choker length necklace can give you a similar effect to the collar if your neck is a little larger and 10 to 12 inches isn’t quite comfortable for you.  Both necklace lengths are great for dressing up or for casual wear and look wonderful with anything where your neck is completely exposed.

Princess

Princess length necklaces are generally 17 to 19 inches long. It works well with almost any neckline, but make sure the necklace and your neckline aren’t vying for the same position. The necklace should either rest a little above your neckline, or a little below it. This is generally regarding as a fairly common length, but I am finding that most of my clients prefer the next length category, so I try to have a mix of princess length and matinee length necklaces in stock.

Matinee

Matinee length necklaces are 20 to 24 inches long and are traditionally thought of as being best for dressing up. They work well with high or low necklines and can really be used for formal wear, business wear, or casual wear depending on the style.

Opera

Opera length necklaces are 28 to 34 inches in length. You often have the option with these of wearing them long, or wrapping them around your neck twice to give the illusion of a multi-strand necklace. I have also seen this length used in combination with a collar or choker length necklace. These are also diverse enough to be worn with either a high or low neckline.

Rope/Lariat

The rope/lariat length necklaces are usually any length of necklace over about 45 inches. These can be daring and modern, or they can add a traditional sophistication to an outfit (a long strand of pearls is good for this). They can be wrapped around the neck a few times, or worn long, or layered with a few shorter necklaces.

I find it interesting to look at the different necklace lengths and then to look at today’s styles. The matinee and opera length are generally regarded as traditional lengths while the rope and collar are thought of as more modern. Even with this in mind, today’s lady can be in style with any of these lengths, so all she has to do is find what she is comfortable with. What length do you prefer? Do you have a reason, or is it just what you are comfortable with? Don’t limit yourself! Remember, jewelry is all about having a little fun and adding some color to your day! Thanks for reading!

(Image courtesy of http://www.delamina.com)

What’s Color Got To Do With It?

Have you ever held a piece of jewelry up to yourself and thought, “The color just doesn’t look right on me?” Just like some colors do not work well together, some colors do not work well with certain skin tones and that might be why the jewelry’s color does not look right on you. Skin tones are classified as “warm” or “cool” tones and colors are also classified as being “warm” or cool.” Warm colors work best with warm skin tones and cool colors work best with cool skin tones. Interestingly, there are more people with cool skin tones than warm skin tones. Let’s explore both of them to see which one you are.

First, take a look at your wrist. Can you see your veins? What color are they? If they are bluish-colored, your skin tone is probably cool. If the veins are greenish-colored, your skin tone is probably warm.

Cool skin tones usually have pinkish or rosy undertones; blue, green, or gray eyes; and naturally blond, black, or brown hair.

Warm skin tones usually have yellow or apricot undertones; brown, black, or hazel eyes; and naturally red, orange or strawberry blonde hair or brown hair with a reddish tint.

Silver is a great complement for cool skin tones. As far as colors, white, pinks, purples, and blues work best. Some greens work, but make sure they are more of a blue-green color.

In contrast to the cool skin tones, gold works best with warm skin tones. Copper and brass are also good alternatives for metals that work well with warm skin tones. When it comes to colored stones, earth tones work best with warm skin tones. Turquoise, coral, amber, brown-colored stones, and most green-colored stones work well with warm skin tones.

Hopefully, this shines a little light on the reason why some jewelry looks stellar on you and why some just doesn’t seem to work quite right. If you are interested in knowing more or want some help experimenting with this, let me know. For now, thanks for reading!

 

Face Shapes

Did you know your face has a shape? Stand in front of a mirror and check it out. Pull your hair back so you can clearly see the edges of your face. With your finger, trace the outline of your face on the mirror. This might not give you a perfect shape, but it will give you an idea of the shape of your face. Keep in mind, your face shape can change over time based on health and weight. The typical shapes are oval, round, heart (or an inverted triangle), triangle, oblong (or rectangular), square, and diamond. Let’s explore the jewelry that is right for your face shape.

Oval

Oval faces are fairly universal and can wear almost any style when it comes to necklaces and earrings. The key is to keep it in proportion to your size. If you have longer neck, shorter necklaces and chokers can work well on you, while longer necklaces can lengthen the torso. Soft and curving shapes are best for oval faces and these can include pearls, ribbons, and round beads. When it comes to earrings, long earrings can also lengthen the face and might not be as appropriate for an oval face as shorter earrings. Again, look for the soft and curving shapes such as hoops or circles.

Round

When it comes to round faces, lengthening the look of your face is the key. Try longer necklaces that draw the eyes down instead of using short necklaces that are closer to your face. Large focal components which draw attention below the neckline are also helpful in creating a longer appearance.  As far as earrings, these should also be longer and used to lengthen the look of your face. Strong vertical lines are especially helpful and can show up in long dangles and chandeliers. Long angular designs also work well.

Heart (Inverted Triangle)

In contrast to the round faces, heart-shaped faces are better complemented by shorter necklaces, especially if they include round details. This will help make the chin appear a little softer and more rounded. Using larger round beads or a large focal at the base of your neck can also help break up the strong jaw line appearance. If you want a longer necklace, try one that is long enough to wrap around your neck a couple of times before letting the remainder of the length hang down. For earrings, try something fan-shaped and avoid anything long and thin. The trick is to add a little width around your chin line to round out your face shape a bit.

Triangle

Triangle-shaped faces need to wear jewelry that will soften their strong jaw line. Longer necklaces (at least 18 to 20 inches) are ideal for this because they will lengthen the appearance of the face. A single large focal component on a necklace can also be used to draw attention downward which lengthens the appearance of the face. For your earrings, go the opposite route of the heart-shaped face and choose earrings that are wider at the top and narrower at the bottom. Smaller and shorter earrings are much better for triangle-shaped faces than long earrings.

Oblong (Rectangular)

It might be a little difficult to tell the difference between and oblong face and an oval face. The oblong face is a little wider at the top and bottom than the oval face. With that in mind, the jewelry styles that are best for oblong-shaped faces are the same as those which are best for the oval-shaped faces. Choose shorter lengths in your necklaces because they will make your face not appear quite as long. Large focal components can add length to your face, so you want to stay away from these. If you want something larger and bolder, use earrings for this. Larger earrings, especially earrings with round shapes and curves, will help to make your face not appear quite as long and will round it out nicely.

Square

Square-shaped faces are similar to round-shaped faces in the fact that they need to have length added to them, but they need to have their lines softened at the same time. Longer necklaces are best for square-shaped faces. The necklaces should form a U-shape instead of a V-shape in the center to help round out the corners of the face a little and that U-shape should be a little below the neckline to help visually lengthen the face. Round shapes and components are best in necklaces for square-shaped faces. Those round shapes should continue into the earrings for square-shaped faces as well. Long and narrow earrings will really help add visual length to your face and help to round it out a little.

Diamond

Diamond-shaped faces are very similar to oval-shaped faces, but they need to have their angles softened a bit. Most necklace styles work well with diamond-shaped faces as long as the necklace is in proportion to the person wearing it. To help soften the angles in the face, use necklaces with curving shapes and shorter lengths. When it comes to earrings for diamond-shaped faces, wear pieces that add width at the jaw line, especially if they are fan-shaped or teardrop-shaped verses being triangle-shaped. If you are looking for a more dramatic appearance, angular necklaces and earrings can be worn and they will bring more emphasis to the angles in your face.

You’re My Inspiration

Where do you find your inspiration? From people? From your surroundings or your interests? I suppose you are asking, “My inspiration for what?” Any inspiration is good, so your “what” can be anything you want it to be as long as you are inspired.

I was recently reading an interview with a jewelry designer who was asked where she found her inspiration for the piece of jewelry which was being featured in the article. The piece was a 3-strand bracelet made with amazonite and sterling silver. Amazonite is an aqua colored stone which was named not because it was found in the Amazon River, but because many other stones that were similar in color were found in that area. The designer said her inspiration for the piece came from a recent trip to the beach. The aqua color of the amazonite captured the ocean’s color and the multi strands reminded her of the waves. I saw where she was coming from, and I wondered if I would have put that idea together while looking at the ocean. I don’t know if I can honestly say I have ever found my inspiration for a jewelry design by looking at something in nature. Maybe I should try this, especially considering my preference for natural gemstones.

That said, where does my inspiration come from? As I have mentioned before, I believe in simple elegance, so a lot of my inspiration comes from traditional jewelry pieces, especially pieces I see in antique stores. I enjoy the time periods where dressing up was about elegance and simplicity with a little bit of “wow.” My hope is to create pieces that are appropriate for work, and then can be worn for a night out. With this thought in mind, much of my inspiration comes down to simple creativity. I buy materials that seem to have the potential to make pretty pieces. Then I take several materials, lay them out on my desk and piece them together like a puzzle. Not all of the materials will fit into the puzzle, and I might pull others out from storage, but eventually, I reach my “ah-ha” moment. Take this bracelet:

I had several of these autumn jasper pebbles and I could not figure out how I wanted to use them. I decided I wanted to make something with them because the colors reminded me of spring. After laying them out across my desk, I decided I would make a simple bracelet that would go great with a pretty little sundress this spring or summer. I laid the stones out on my desk and then started to add silver, then took away some silver, then added other silver until I got the balance just right. I feel it really captures the simple elegance I strive for and is perfect for warmer weather. Maybe I will even make a necklace to match!

So as far as where my inspiration comes from, I’d rather rely on simple creativity and ideas that hit me at a moment’s notice. Now, what about you? Where does your inspiration come from?