Wednesday, November 25, 2015

I'm down with OPJ (Other People's Jewelry)

This blog post is dedicated to a true love, The Indie Craft Experience. Since I gave birth to my Little Bug in September, I took the year off from selling at ICE.

Me & Bug

Which meant I got to go as a shopper!!! For holiday gifts, right? Aaaand maybe a few goodies for moi. But just because its important to support local artists;)

I was super excited to check out the new pieces from Cuyler Hovey-King.
Cuyler's sweet set-up and a bonus shot of the happening' crowd. Photo credit, Cuyler Hovey-King

I own a pair of Cuyler-made earrings already, and had been drooling over a hair stick she recently unveiled on social media.
If I were a magician, I would have loved to have shown this beauty off IN my hair. Trust, its sexy gorgeousness.
Hair Stick in Brass by Cuyler Hovey-King

Sold! The beauty of buying from Culyer at the show was that we chatted our brains out and totally crossed the tenuous threshold of being warm acquaintances to being kindred spirits. I also adored her bestie/helper, Tamara, who was hilarious and real. We even made plans to go to the gem show in December! Shopping + Frands = Blisssss...

Still high on my hairstick purchase, I made my way to Brandy Schuman's booth, A Sensible Habit. My bestie and first-string shopping buddy Jeanee and I both fell head over heels for her modern minimalist & playful ceramics. I bought a gorgeous blue half-moon necklace that I am so feeling! And because, clearly, I NEED more jewelry:)!

I'm thinking this piece is gonna layer like a dream machine with some Madeline Smiles pieces!!
Blue ceramic necklace by A Sensible Habit.
Brandy also makes other ceramic goodies like ring cones and teensy dishes. I scooped up this mini dish, with the fully pre-meditated notion to use it in my product photography:

Babykiss Stacker Rings, Fine Silver, Sterling Silver, by Madeline Smiles Handamde Jewelry. Made to order in your size. Buy here.
Ceramic glazed dish by A Sensible Habit.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Targetsy! Or, Motifs in Arts and Crafts and Neo-Craft; A History Lesson

How do you know that a trend is no longer cool? Well, if it appears at Target, and/or your grandmother knows about it OR it can be found in your baby's nursery decor, then its a pretty safe bet its dead and buried. Thus, the magical phenomenon I like to call "Targetsy."
Did you see it on etsy? Did you get it at Target? Targetsy!!
(Warning: these will not surprise you)

Owls, Mustaches, and Beards, Oh My!

 MTV illustrated this "death of cool" with the genius animated short "Bling Bling":


I find the trend trajectory fascinating. My mother's partner deals in Arts and Crafts era antiques. As a young girl, I began hearing the word "motif" a lot to describe the different themes used over and over in the Arts and Crafts Movement ( c.1880-1910)
Here are some of my fave motifs:

Dragonfly Motif

Gingko Leaf Motif(One of Mom's faves)

Floral motif on leather bag

Roycroft Rose Motif

These motifs were very democratic, used by any and all craftspeople. There were even magazines that gave you tutorials on specific projects, like a copper candlestick, for example. 
This is very similar to today's neo-craft movement(e.g., etsy) where nobody is really the first to use a bird, owl, or feather. It just seems to emerge as popular. It is no-one's and everybody's intellectual property.  Even Target:)
 And  a special shout-out to Ian McGilicudi Smith for inspiring this post! Keep on truckin'!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Handmade Branding, Put A Feather On It?!

Maybe you have heard of the blog "Handmade Charlotte"? Well before 2012, I had not. It was June of that year that the writer of the blog/brand, Rachel Faucett,  bought a necklace from me at a craft fair, (The Indie Craft Experience, here in Atlanta)

We chatted a bit, as she complimented me on my "handmade branding" which was the first time I had heard the phrase. I was intrigued.

I did not appreciate who exactly she was until after our interaction, as one of my in-the-know fellow crafters filled me in.

I remember that our conversation involved how to take advantage of Pinterest for your small business(which I still have not figured out!) But obviously she has figured something out, as last time I was at Michaels, the Handmade Charlotte line of crafting supplies was attractively packaged and displayed right next to the Queen, Martha Stewart.

This logo is genius, because it conveys playfulness, childhood, and crafting with the construction paper-like lettering.

I seem to have an addiction to re-vamping my logo, while, in my opinion, staying true to my brand.
When I began making jewelry, the concept of having a brand was far from my mind. I mean, first, you need to get good enough at your craft that people will actually want to give you money for your product/art.

But in 2010, I began to sell my work at a sort of "Co-op" Boutique called The Beehive. The owners of The Beehive were quite keen on and savvy about all of the vendors in their shop "Growing Their Brand." They asked me important questions like: Who is your client? What is her budget? What is her style? What is her lifestyle? Of course, my knee-jerk reaction was: "That's easy! My client is me!" But its not so simple. Because, for one thing, my ideal client and I do not necessarily always share the same budget! :) I learned a lot at that place.

I had long used the feather as my symbol(since 2005!), as it has great personal meaning, specifically relating to the genesis of my business, which was originally called Little Wing Designs. (Yes, its a Jimi Hendrix reference, and an homage to my first mentor, Wesley, who owned Butterfly Beads, AKA best job ever.)

I have since changed my business name twice, (first, to Madeline Burdine Jewelry, then to Madeline Smiles Handmade Jewelry) a risky move, as you may lose or confuse clients. But realistically, I had not built up a large enough audience to qualify those changes as risks.

OMG. The original logo. Designed by me at Kinko's!! I didn't know any better!!

Meanwhile the symbols of birds, and their counterparts, feathers, really took off in the handmade branding trendiverse(that's a word I just made up that means trending universe AKA, etsy. Think mustaches and foxes. But that's another blog post!)

I had a friend design for me this time. Wise move. Her name is Kat Colohan and she is a mad talented designer

Kat designed this one too

Then I decided I could be a graphic designer too. Cue love/hate relationship with Photoshop.

I kept experiementing...

Still experimenting...

No one who considers themselves a respectable artist wants to "be like everybody else." But at the same time, if you take yourself seriously(as artists are fond of doing), you wish to remain true to yourself. And the Feather is my symbol through and through. As my feather collection, and fascination with feathers grows and grows, I never tire of the feather as design inspiration.

So, as I unveil the 6th or 7th iteration of my logo/brand, I remain loyal to the Feather motif. Part of the ethos of Madeline Smiles Handmade Jewelry is to remain authentic and seek truth, truly values of mine. Any other symbol than the Feather would feel like a charade. Although I do play a mean game of charades.

The Greatest is the Latest!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Flocking Awesome

Here is a design inspired by my friend from my previous post, Emily. She is brave. She is being very open on social media(and in real life) about her Journey dealing with cancer for the second time. She is an incredibly introspective, spiritual, and intelligent creature and I find my mind touched and opened every time we speak.

"EveryBody Has a Heart" Necklace. Sterling Silver, Campitos Turquoise

To me, this Necklace represents the beauty in being open and vulnerable. Paradoxically, vulnerability makes us stronger, as we benefit from acknowledging the realness of our struggles and the opportunities they provide for us to learn and grow. I am allllll about the learn & grow. Hmmm maybe there is another design...The learn&grow....

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Selling Your Soul and Los Cuervos

It is hard when you begin to make money with your art. Because the dynamic changes. No longer do you view your projects as pure labors of love. They have $$$ signs. And the question :"Will this sell?"
This gives me an opportunity to quote Joni Mitchell, which, if you know me, well, duh.
The track is "For the Roses" from the album of the same name:

Damn, she is so good. Now that I am on this topic, I think of another badass musician songwriter, Gillian Welch. Her tune is called "Everything is Free."

Which brings me to my friend who is ill. She has cancer. For the second time. So she recently told me that feathers have become her symbols of knowing that she is on the right path and that everything in the world is as it should be. Particularly crow feathers, as she considers this amazing and intelligent corvid creature a personal spiritual guide. 

She asked me to create a piece of jewelry using a feather(who, me?! ;) She asked me the price and I told her Free Ninety-Nine. She actually misunderstood me and said $399.00?? I knew I wanted this piece to be free of a price tag. We agreed it would make sense for her to find a crow feather that I would then press into silver using my rolling mill. She said she had been seeing crow feathers everywhere.

'For Emily' by littlewingdesigns

Scrap Metal Sculpture,Raven ...

Labradorite and Sterling Rin...

Original art drawing, Origin...

the limit of our mutual unde...

Feather Art, Watercolor Pain...

Black Feather Dress

Raven Ring

SALE Cozy Fashion Pullover H...

Original Acrylic Painting 24...

Hippogriff Necklace - HUGE O...

resin crow skull replica

Metal Crow
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That night, a-strolling with my newborn babe, I saw the biggest and most beautiful murder of crows I have ever seen. There were so many and they were all circling, soaring, then landing, one by one, upon a crop of trees at the foot of the neighborhood. It was around 4:30 pm and the sun was soft on the clouds that had gathered low. It was truly magical. A neighbor getting her mail seemed transfixed as well. She called them blackbirds. She wondered what they were doing. I told her they were flocking together. Then I told her that crows are very smart. She said I know.

I also have a friend who recently went through a divorce. I made her a piece of jewelry, unasked for, just a gift to give her strength and cheer. It was a crystal from her farm in a prong setting with a carved jasper moon charm. Very personal and befitting to her. I think it was one of the best pieces I have ever made. It was heavy and pure with meaning and love. Her reaction to receiving it was truly priceless. Can't buy me love!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Treasury Therapy

I love creating etsy Treasuries. For me, its like playing Tetris. Each item has its right place and its up to me to shuffle the pieces til they land in their proper homes. It also kinda reminds me of using the beading board in jewelry design.

When I first learned about Treasuries, I viewed them as a way to drive traffic to my site, a bit shrewd I admit. But eventually, I learned that much like any creative outlet, it is usually best to allow oneself to be led by the muses.

A well-curated Treasury is a piece of art unto itself; a way to play at having a boutique filled with all of your favorite items, juxtaposed just so; to bring out their finest points.


'Strawberry Blossom' by littlewingdesigns

Yellow, green, and white.Clean, fresh, and light.

Shasta Daisy Earrings, Recyc...

Pinched Porcelain Cup Plante...

Ceramic Eco-Friendly Travel ...

Beautiful low back, off the ...

Berry pink rose cut sapphire...

White Flower Blossom Nature ...

Silver flower ring - blossom...

Strawberry Rutilated Quartz ...

Floral Cropped Cami with She...

12x12 Spring Tree Roots Hot ...

Mimosa Hair Comb

Vintage Tea Cup and Saucer, ...

Diamond Crown Petal Ring - 1...

Modern Desert Print Archiva...

Daisy Flower Dangle Drop Ste...

Gorgeously Mod Green Daisy P...
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Sometimes I like to tell a story with a Treasury. For this one, I even got to get my poetics on!

'Lovebirds Picnic' by littlewingdesigns

Hearts and hands entwine, like the friendly branches that surround, Smitten snuggling lovebirds in the fresh air, under the pink moon

silver heart pendant with tw...

Rustic Heart Valentine's...

Organic Picnic Blanket- Wate...

Katherine Fingerless Gloves ...

Pinecone Earrings Silver Cas...

Watercolor Bird Painting, wa...

Small and Sweet Round Sterli...

Large berry bowl colander i...

Black Bear foraging for berr...

Moon Painting, Watercolor Ar...

SALE pottery lovebirds

Large Rose Cut Chrysoprase a...
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Other times I just create a mood.

'Between Twilight and Dawn' by littlewingdesigns

Wide Wedding Band, Twisted G...

ORGANIC Belted Cocoon Below ...

The Stars Are Against Me Ton...

Henry's Head : cat photo...

Jeu de Ficelle / Print / Pos...

sterling silver artisan &quo...

Gilaite Medusa Paraiba Quart...

Hand Forged Sterling Silver ...

November Frost- Archival Pri...

Between Twilight and Dawn ~ ...

Medusa Loop Scarf - hand kni...

Sticks 02. oxidized sterling...

modern inverted gemstone hex...

Illustration print - "A...

Flint - White-Blue - FREE SH...
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And sometimes I treat the Treasury as a love letter to someone I admire. This one was for Darby. ❤ ❤

'When I close my eyes, I feel like we're two tiny felted mice, hugging.' by littlewingdesigns

Mice. They're Just Like Us.

Little Farmer Mouse - Feltin...

Miniature animal playing gui...

itsy bitsy teeny tiny baby f...

A Pair Of Dancing Needle Fel...

Tiny Mouse Necklace / sculpt...

Black Handcarved Rat Ring. A...

Bunny Hug - Small Archival F...

Felt toy, mini needle felted...
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One of my fave tricks though, is to take a song or lyric and spin a treasury theme out of it. Especially Joni Mitchell. As she is a poet who paints with words, the options are truly limitless!

'Paprika Plains' by littlewingdesigns

Back in my hometown/They would have cleared the floor/Just to watch the rain come down/They're such sky oriented people/Geared to changing weather/I'm floating off in time/Joni Mitchell, "Paprika Plains"

Cat Print, Fine Art Photogra...

Copper & Sterling, Mixed Met...

ORGANIC Belted Cocoon Tunic ...

Token eMBryo

Vintage 1970s Purple Calico ...

Hippie Cuff Bracelet - Mixed...

Suede Jacket// Coat// Dyed R...

Small Pretty Bell -137

Alistair Print 8x10

large abstract white paintin...

white rabbit earrings- hand ...

Smoky quartz studs, rose cut...
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I take way too much time creating my Treasuries, savoring the process, relishing the excitement of the hunt. This is also how I shop, its kind of  a trance state. There is nothing like the electric zing you experience when you unearth an item that will be *perfect* on your board.

Treasuries are a like a freeform art therapy with no overhead, no getting your hands dirty. The most you risk is whiling away some hours. The best case scenario is that you facilitate a sale for yourself or another etsy seller. Its downright altruistic:)