Thursday, September 18, 2014

Ceramic bead necklace - the Pangean Necklace

This project uses some of Keith O'Connor's lovely beads, and features a hand-made brass hook by Sarah Tector.

That mannequin it is posed on is pretty small, she's only about 18" tall. The necklace is actually 20 inches long!

See the full tutorial here. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

want to figure it out? walk!

How do you pull yourself out of a creative rut? figure out that hard-to-finish jewelry conundrum?

According to two researchers at Stanford, you should take a walk. They claim that a walk - not a run or a drive or a bike ride - helps you to think creatively.

I agree...I try, when I can, to walk to work. For that ten minutes my brain can engage in an easy bit of day-planning. I find I'm more active and more able to finish tasks in the hour or two following a walk to the shop. It's one of the things I love about my job. Ornamentea is located where it is because I can walk to that green building.

Anyway, check out this article in the New Yorker about how walking can improve your creativity.

here's the article.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Ornamentea loves...the Carter Building

Long ago, when Ornamentea first began, we had a jewelry design-and-manufacturing business in the Carter Building. It's down Glenwood Avenue, almost at Hillsboro Street. This weird, cut-up-and-out-back-together building was exactly the right place for us to start our bead store. We had a wonderful, generous and forgiving landlord, Barry Carter, and a whole building full of the kind of people you usually only meet in sit-coms. Barry never batted an eye when we asked to knock down a wall. Or add a door. Or paint solid pine paneling a pale, pearly pink. He even let us put a whole bunch of fol-de-rol wire and lights on the 'good' window on the front of his building. Our store had one door that opened on the street, another that opened onto a shared hallway. That hall door was usually closed, but I always loved the random, tossed together look of the whole space. I still miss that pine panelling.

In the basement, under our store, the band Corrosion of Conformity had their practice space. Wow, that floor really vibrated when they were playing. Across the hall, through that door, we had a neighbor who restored 18th century portraits for ancient ladies. One I remember would swan in, trailed by a butler carrying her esteemed family member's crumbling portrait wrapped in an old Christmas table cloth. She might incline her coiffed head in my direction, but she'd always wait for the overburdened butler to open the door for her.

That in my picture window might be dressed for the holidays..or it might just be dressed for Tuesday. I can't remember. There is a picture in the window that was taken by Shonna Greenwell (she owns Rebus works, now) and I think the doll was concocted by artist Ashley Carter, but that window was a long time, and a lot of glitter ago...and honestly, we often pulled out all the stops in decorating. Even for a Tuesday.

The Carter Building is still a warren of artist studios and offices. There are amazing painters in the basement, writers on the third floor and a few jewelry designers I love tucked in, here and there. The mix of personalities and styles and work is a unique and potent blend. I'm pretty sure it was the perfect place for Ornamentea to start out, fifteen years ago.

read more about The Carter Building

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Ornamentea loves...Fiquet

About a zillion years ago, in the long distant past, I had a jewelry design company. This was before Ornamentea was even a thought. I made jewelry out of (mostly) vintage or vintage-looking parts and had many helpers who provided the nimble fingers to make those orders fly out to our customers. We did shows here and there, but everything was made in a little studio in the Carter Building. Our store would eventually be born there, at 20 Glenwood.

Before the store, though, I needed the hands. Beading, especially repetitive beading of multiple pieces of jewelry in the same design, is not for everyone. Some folks, like the talented Kiona (I'll talk about her later) were geniuses at production. Some were not. We had to hire new fingers on a fairly regular basis.

Since this was the dark ages, we actually would put ads in the newspaper to find new hands. One day a very chic young woman came in to apply for the jewelry-making position. She was a design student at NCSU (a good thing) and was wearing really nice boots. She came with a lovely alto laugh, confidence and an unusual name, and I loved her the moment I met her.

Fiquet Bailey started out making jewelry for our far-flung customers. She was casually adept at wire working, horrible at any task that required gluing, and instantly understood most of my cryptic directions. After she had worked in the studio for a few months, I began to bat around the idea of opening a store. Someplace to sell our sample jewelry, and the excess beads. Nothing big, just a little storefront in the street side of our jewelry-making studio. Over our lunch, we chatted about this and one-by-one, staff members loudly declared their desire not to work in a retail store. Many of them were working for me precisely because our customers were so distant. Retail is hard. Too hard to be nice all day. Too much chit-chatting with customers. With a laugh, Fiquet announced she LOVED retail and wouldn't mind working in the store.

Well, that decided it.

Really, if Fi hadn't piped up that day, I am not sure we'd even have an Ornamentea. I traveled too much to be the one in the store. The other staff were beaders, not greeters. Fiquet meant it, she really did like working with customers. She ran our shop, helping me set up the closeout sheet, and the pricing codes and helping establish Ornamentea as a place where unusual goods were coupled with exceptionally friendly customer service. Fiquet really did like retail. Even the weirdest customer requests didn't fluster her. After a while, her wings grew and she flew off to Chicago to run a very fancy bath shop (the kind that let you take an actual bath to try out the luxury towels before you committed to them!) before returning to Raleigh to open her own place; Luxe Apothecary at North Hills. She sold me some of the best lotions and soaps I've ever used. She's moved on now, to selling homes and she's opened a sweet shop beauty workshop called Bailey and Scott (inside Fleur at North Hills) but she still knows how to make a customer comfortable and happy. I imagine she's also still got that same laugh.

Learn more about Bailey and Scott right here. It opens today, if you want to stop in. And tell Fi I sent you.

Friday, September 05, 2014