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Friday, November 26, 2010

The Makings of Elegance: A Reflection

Since I've been busy crafting a lot of these epicly beautiful and utterly timeless pieces, the nerd in me fixated on the phrases most often uttered when such things are displayed.  "That's so elegant!"

My inner linguist takes out her spectacles and asks "Why these words in particular?"  What is it that makes one bracelet or necklace elegant and beautiful while the others are just beautiful?  So, I set out to answer this question by inquiring amongst my fellows, peers, and elders about the attributes of various things they deem elegant.  Here are some of the adjectives I uncovered.

Sparkly                                         Classic                                    Regal                              Sleek
Stands-out                                    Abstract                                  Simple                            Dark

You may not think it's very interesting, but I did.  The majority of the these words don't necessarily apply to something 'elegant'.  For example, a brooch of a 6-inch tall gorilla cast in gunmetal and covered in sparkling rhinestones is dark, somewhat abstract, sparkly and it most certainly stands out, but it's far from elegant.  Really, only 2 of the adjectives I've presented aren't words that could just as easily be applied to something that isn't elegant.  Regal, Classic.  Hmmm.

Typically, something regal is something exuding a kingly bearing.  A kingly bearing?  How do we see kings?  Usually in a positive light...possessing the best and finest things, graceful, polite and well-cultured.  So, a regal piece of jewelry is something of the best and finest materials, a graceful form and possessing a non-intrusive, yest still very noticeable air. 
The other word, classic, refers to something iconic, easily recognized and generally well-liked.  So, a classic piece of jewelry is something easily recognized and usually well-liked.  It's most likely something traditional.  These words have intrinsic qualities that always align with the notion of elegance.

From this, it's safe to assume that the true aspects that make elegance are how classic and regal a piece is.  It has to be something incredibly beautiful, but capable of standing up to time and changing fads, something timeless and genuine.  To that, I'd like to add the word 'unique'.  Elegance is not something mass produced, but something truly beautiful in its rarity.  The diamond solitaire necklace at the very beginning of its use was deemed elegant, but since then, it's been mass-produced, imitated to death and its reputation destroyed.  Everyone has one now.  It's become easy to overlook.  It's elegance has been reduced to an expensive fade-into-the-background accessory.

So, now, I'll take off my nerd hat and bring this topic to... what was it again?  Oh yeah, this blog's about jewelry and each post is supposed to give you an interesting take away!  Here's some of that take away.  Elegance is a quality you want to be applied to yourself and your craft.  So, be genuine, unique, classic and stand out from the crowd. 
My personal take away is that while having a brand name with a catchy acronym or bright colors seems 'cool', the style and quality of the jewelry I make doesn't fit with that.  Long, pretentious names don't work either because my style hops and jumps here and there.  Everything I do is limited edition and one of a kind.  Everything I do is Nonpareil Joolry.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Making Christmas, Making Christmas

I've been stressing holiday bootcamp a lot lately and keeping up with it fairly well.  I've been able to make a little money, save a little money and plan out possible bought gifts (which I can really afford!) for my close friends and relatives.  However, there's usually at least one Ren-Made item in the lot of Christmas gifts.  It was when I was perusing my stash that I noticed that I've taken absolutely no time out to make any heartfelt, handmade Christmas gifts for ANY of my family members.  Uh... Oops.
Then, of course, I overheard some of my sweet aunts randomly chattering about how excited and proud they are about my little side-business and how they've kept up with my deviantart page and can't wait to see what I've made for them for Christmas.  Uh.... Oops!
So... Holiday Bootcamp's discipline will now be applied to gift-making and planning.  To pacify all THREE of my faithful readers, I'll post a couple tutorials- maybe a reflective piece for you guys to gnaw on while I get busy.   All this, it's no big deal, right?
I've still got time and now, NOW, I also have legitimacy.  I made my first PURELY online sale a couple days ago.  Why is that so important?  Well, it's important because that means that all my DA posting and Etsy fiddling and all that enabled me to make someone want to buy something that I MADE simply because it looked good on a photograph.  That means, that my stuff looks professional from every angle.  That means, I don't have to work myself to sell a product.  It sells itself.  I feel... lightheaded.
That said, my Etsy Shop is now open for business.  There aren't many items RIGHT NOW, but there will be... soon.  I'm pacing myself.  If I post everything at once, I'll have a mondo huge listing bill and I won't be able to personally sell anything in my inventory.  So, for now, I'm plucking out some of my best pieces and putting them up for the possible online market. 

And now!  Before I forget, our Etsy Shop of the Week!

This week's feature is one mouthwatering, jaw-dropping marvel that'll excite your sweet tooth.  Fusion Sweets caters to any gourmet sweet tooth's deepest desires.  Run by the mother/daughter team of Kay and Angela, the shop offers enchanting new takes on old favorites from marshmallows and butter caramels to traditional hard candies, all in exciting and innovative new flavors.  Everything is handmade, organic and flavored with real, all natural ingredients.  You can even get custom orders!  Here are some of my personal favorites.

Peanut Butter Caramels

Guava Lemongrass Berlingots

Neopolitan Marshmallows

Rose Infused Marshmallows

Wicked Cool huh?  I might get me some of these treats for the holidays!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Gifts Anyone could love

So, you're back for more, huh?  You really want to see those things that everyone would find amusing to make the whole awkward 'Getting to Know You' song and dance avoidable, huh?  Well, alright, but only because I wanted to share this stuff with you guys anyways!

Here are a couple websites that offer cute and unique things for a variety of prices.  But, before we get started, let me warn you, as a college student born to an environmentally-conscious middle class family who's mantra is 'haste makes waste', I am the virago of bargain hunting.  At the same time, I am the only child, a Leo and rather prone to spoiling myself, so I'm also really keen on good quality.  That said here ya go.

1.  The Fifteen Dollar Store: $
Yeah, who doesn't love designer stuff for JUST 15 bucks?  I know I love it! 

2.  Sock Dreams:  $ through $$
Who would have thought that you could have dreams about socks?  Well, I have dreams about THESE socks. The socks at sock dreams are all made from high quality fibers and not only do they have a broad selection of socks that will stand up to the coldest of Chicago Winters, they also have the sexiest knee and thigh-highs I've seen to date.

3.  Think Geek: 
With everything from TV remotes stylized like Harry Potter wands to Lightsaber pens to dissolving travel toiletries, Think Geek is your headquarters for all things nerdy and geeky.  Most things will be a guaranteed hit with guys because they're full of action, sci-fi guy movie goodness with wicked applications of technology in the most unexpected ways.  Hmm.. OOH!  They have power inverters!  Ahem. Anyway!...

4.  L'Occitane en Provence: $$ through $$$

As far as wholesome, sustainable luxurious health and beauty goods go, L'Occitane is THE BEST.  All of their fragrances, hair care products and body potions are made with all natural ingredients and essential oils.  I'm a big fan of their hair products and body creams.  My skin and hair have never been this soft and well nourished.

5.  eBay: $ to Infinity!
Like you didn't see THIS one coming.  Um, can I just say, you can find ANYTHING on eBay!  I've gotten everything from white gold and onyx pendants to printer ink cartridges for a fraction of their regular prices on eBay.

6.  Retroscope:  $$ through $$$
Thinking of doing period costume, or just snagging a few crazy stellar pieces?  Retroscope is one of my favorite places to window shop.  With their saucy bustle skirts and very feminine ruffled shirts, they have been on my mind since I first heard of them 3 years ago. 

7. Etsy: $ to infinity!
I have been quoted time and again that Etsy is the 'rich folks ebay', but even I can't deny that Etsy has some pretty COOL stuff on it.  I shop there all the time, for myself and for others.  There are all kinds of handmade, one of a kind gifts and 'gifts for you' to be found on Etsy, so don't knock it till you've tried it. 
Finally a Featured Etsy seller for you!
Naturalynn: Featuring handmade soaps in a variety of shapes colors and styles, Naturalynn wraps your body in affordable essential oil infused luxury.  Here are a few of my ABSOLUTE favorites

Vanilla Cupcake Soap:  

Oreo Cookie Soap: 

Cherry Limeade Popsicle Soap: 

Making Christmas, Making Christmas

La la la!

I'm making my list and checking it twice.  Gonna cross off who's naughty, not nice.  Raiding every discount bin in toooown.

It's getting close to Christmas, folks.  With all this Holiday Bootcamp Hooplah eating my free time and the sad fact that my 'inventory bin' is ...running over now, I thought it was time to devote some thought to the reason for the creation season, Christmas.  It was then that I realized that my aunts kept sending me strange text messages about clothes and CDs and shoes, not because they're weirdos like me who enjoy learning about people for the sake of learning, but rather so they could either get me to obliviously drop hints about things I might want or ascertain what things I might like. 

Yes, I am often rather oblivious.  I go to conventions and marvel ecstatically at awesome cosplay of Marie Antoinette and Alichino or Malice Mizer conveniently forget WHY I took my camera out in the first place.. Furthermore, I am that scatterbrained person who lamented losing her wallet but then found it in the freezer when she went to console herself with icecream (Don't ask.  Please.)
So, it's perfectly normal for me to have my list of Christmas gifts for other people planned out down to the color of the wrapping paper, but to not have thought of a THING to give myself.  I even have a little schedule of who I'm going to handmake cards, cookies and trinkets for already lined up and waiting for Thanksgiving break.
Perhaps, you're not as strange and obsessive as me, so you don't have your gifts all plotted out.  I decided that it would be a good idea to toss together a sort of guide for people to go bargain or 'interesting find' hunting for their loved ones.  So, with that, I'll give you my pillars of buying for gifts.
Children under 10:  This is by far the easiest group to buy for.  They're wants are simple and usually they'll just tell you.  "I want Bratz."  "I want Bakugan toys" or the ever famous "I WANT TO BE A MAD SCIENTIST!!!!"  You can usually just go hunt in a toy store for these guys.  Keep it simple, make sure it's something that they consistently go for and wrap it up cute.

Kids 10+ and Tweens:  Kids over ten are a little harder to buy for. They're trying to be like teens, who are trying to be like adults, but they still have some of the affinities of younger children.  You can find a happy medium by going with something a little more grown up.  Instead of getting them hardcore jewelry, go for something cutesy in bright colors or an outfit like one of their TV idols (kiddie style, of course), or a video game.  Most kids in my family start getting their first bits of 'sleek and stylish' technology at this age.

Teens:  With the beginnings of more adult thoughts and the greater influx of emotions (and hormones) buying for teens will always be tricky.  They have cultures and subcultures, fads and phases, strange mixtures of likes and dislikes and opinions.  BOY!  Have teens got opinions!  But, they can still be bought for.  The easiest, no-thought gift you can get for a teen is something electronic, or better yet, one of those American Express or Visa giftcards.  It's money on a card they can use ANYWHERE!  If you have an idea of your teen's tastes, branching out into CDs, Clothing (Be very careful with this one.  They are picky little gremlins), and cool little odds and ends that either have great personal meaning or aid in their quest for self-expression.
One major thing to note about teens is that they have tastes and opinions all set in their minds, much like adults.  Unfortunately, they haven't quite acquired the finesse of social BSing that adults have.  So, if you buy a teen a glowing Jesus shaped lava lamp clock that belches out bible scriptures every hour on the hour, don't be surprised when all you get in return is a pained grin (read: Grimace).

Twenty and Thirty Somethings: Being among this group, I have a good idea of what they usually want.  This group, well, we usually want something fun and quirky.  Something snarky, or maybe something thought provoking or technologically savvy.  The best gifts for this group usually fall in the realm of private jokes, fond childhood memories, and current hobbies and obsessions.  My friend once bought me a riding crop.  It was a jibe at my former status as D&D Dungeon Mistress.  Even though that thing has brought up more uncomfortable questions and embarrassments than I care to remember, I still keep it in the closet near that fat binder full of D&D monsters and I even take it out for a good laugh every now and then.

Folks 40+:  Folks in this age group usually want something of quality, something that shows that they are mature, knowledgeable and still very sexy or funny or whatever they're known for.  Yep, the 40+ group has an eye for luxury, but the maturity to still appreciate simpler things.  For example, my father ADORES getting laundry detergent for Christmas.  I stopped trying to figure out why.  My grandfather has always been a coffee lover, so I always buy him the most luxurious coffee I can find and of course, something he'll find funny like a color changing coffee mug.  The point is, find their niche, get them something extraordinary, and make sure they know you appreciate their little idiosyncrasies (But don't call them idiosyncrasies.  Just...just call them character traits)

In short, Christmas shopping is about knowing the people that you're gifting with!  It doesn't take long to pop in and chat about what someone else loves and it's actually not that hard to give a thoughtful gift. 

My next post feature random cool crap everyone will love!