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Posts from the ‘Design’ Category

My New Baby

My new baby, Trove, takes all of my time these days!  Writing anything on this blog has fallen by the way side as I’ve remodeled the building (that sounded very Martha Stewart-ish–like I did it all by myself!), purchased inventory, kept track of every little detail, and opened during the holiday rush.  Wow, what a ride!

My baby!

My baby!

I’d love for you all to discover my new enterprise and move yourselves on over to the new Facebook page, Pinterest page, Instagram account, Twitter account and web site–which also has a blog!  See why I don’t have time for this blog any more?!?!

Just to whet your whistle a bit more, I really love the Trove logo:

Logo created by the incomparable Anäis Ziae Mohseni.

Logo created by the incomparable Anaïs Ziae Mohseni.

I also love the Trove-sters–the group of folks that have come together to make the store a reality–we aren’t partners in a legal way, but we all pull our own weight in a variety of ways.  I am inspired by each and every one!

The Trove-sters toasting our grand opening!

The Trove-sters toasting our grand opening!

So, visit us virtually, or visit us in real life!  The Trove is located at 270 N. Main St., Roanoke, IN.  We are open Thursday-Saturday, 11-5 for now.  Lots of special events are being planned–trunk shows (think Matilda Jane, The Good Ones, Jill Massey Designs, Melani Wilson Designs), make & takes (knitting, letterpress, painting) and even a Brazilian cocktail party…I’m not making it up!    Hope to see you or hear from you soon!

Wire Wrapped Jewelry–Earrings for Every Outfit!

Years ago I took one jewelry class–in wire wrapping–and developed an entire jewelry business around it.  In its hey day, I had 5 part time employees, a web presence, and enough retail outlets to keep me busier than I really wanted to be.  I still make jewelry for special orders, family and friends, and the occasional art fair or trunk show, but I do it all by myself.  For me, the business end wasn’t as fulfilling as the creative aspects and I didn’t have enough hours in the day to do both!  Maybe someone could just hire me to be a designer!  Please!?!?!?

Back in the day at the web launch party.  What a fun time!

Back in the day at the web launch party. What a fun time!

Trying to fulfill a special order, I went searching for my local bead stores to find they had closed!  I think the big, box stores like Michaels and Hobby Lobby have taken over.  The ease of ordering supplies on the internet and getting discounts on volume or for wholesale caused me to stop patronizing my local stores.  Their demise is unfortunate because where will folks go to learn how to do these simple techniques?  Probably YouTube, right?

So here is my stab at the internet tutorial.


Start with base metal wire to practice and beads of your choice.  Wire should be 24 gauge, half hard, round wire.  This is a classic size and type to use for wire wrapping.  If you are making a bracelet eventually, you will want to use 20 gauge to secure the clasp.  (The lower the number the bigger the diameter of the wire.)  For earrings, choose an ear wire you prefer–I like the French ear wires (as do my customers!).  French ear wires don’t fall out and add a little bit of pizzazz and motion to the most simple earrings!  Fire Mountain Gems is a great place on line to order supplies and their quantity discounts sure help!  I also like the fish hook ear wires with the ball.  Also, you will need head pins–the longer the easier to work with, in my opinion.  I like 2 1/2″-3″ long head pins with a ball on the end like these from Fire Mountain:

Sterling Silver Head Pins with Ball End--a classic, unfussy look!

Sterling Silver Head Pins with Ball End–a classic, unfussy look!

French ear wires used with Leland Blue Stones for one of a kind earrings.

French ear wires used with Leland Blue Stones for one of a kind earrings.

Tools:  You will need flat nose pliers, long round nose pliers, and a flush cutter.  I love the Swanstrom brand of products that can be found at Rio Grande’s web site, but there are lots of more economical brands available too.  If you do develop a business, you may want to consider upgrading your tools!  You deserve it!

All the tools you need to start a jewelry business!

All the tools you need to start a jewelry business!

Technique:  Explained for right handed folks–sorry lefties, but that’s me!

1.  Begin by cutting 10-12 pieces of wire approximately 3″ long.

2.  Using the round nosed pliers, take the first wire and bend it away from you in a right angle approximately 1″ from the top of the wire. (I call this “Right Angle.”  I will continue to list your commands out this way to help jog your memory)   You will be moving this end of the wire at every step.

3.   Loosen your grip and slightly rotate your hand away from you, so that the pliers are grasping the “corner” you have just made. (“Corner”)

4.  With your left hand, bring the top part of the wire back over the top of the pliers and bend all of the way to the front so that both tips of the wire are pointing down.  (“Front”)

5.  Loosen your grip again and rotate the pliers towards you (this is kind of like riding a motorcycle!) (“Motorcycle”)  Bend the same end of the wire along the left side of the end that is down.  The wire you are bending will now be at a 90 degree angle from the bottom part.  (“Around to the back”)

6.  Now release the wire from the round pliers.  Grab your flat nosed pliers in your right hand and hold onto the loop you have made with the tips of these pliers.  Grab the end of the wire you’ve been moving that is now sticking out to the left with the round nose pliers.  Wrap it around under the loop 2-3 times (whatever look you like…)  (“Wrap”).  Using the wire cutters, cut the remaining end off as close to the loop as you can.  (“Cut”)  If any rough pieces are sticking out, you can use the flat nosed pliers to press it down.

As you are learning the technique, you can say the “commands” I’ve listed to remind you where to go next.  After doing this motion many times, it will become quite natural.

As you can see, the barrel of the round nose pliers varies in diameter.  Where you place your wire will determine the size of the loop you make. Try to make all of your loops on a particular piece a consistent size.  Making a larger loop is great depending on your project and the size of beads.  Also, a larger loop works for the end of a bracelet.

6.  Once you’ve got your loops going and they look uniform you are ready to make a pair of earrings!  Instead of the wire, grab a pair of head pins. Put the bead or beads of your choice onto the pin.  Start the loop process by placing your pliers right against the bead and begin!  You will end up with a nice loop on top!  If you are using the fish hook ear wire, just gently open the front and slip on your bead.  Close gently by pressing with your flat nosed pliers.  Use a similar technique with the French ear wire.

7.  For a change of earring design, use a wire, instead of a headpin.  Make your first loop, add your bead, make another loop on top of the bead.  Attach a cluster of smaller beads onto one loop using head pins.  See the example below:

Cluster Earrings using Coin Pearls and Semi Precious Stones.  Who knows where your designs will take you!

Cluster Earrings using Coin Pearls and Semi Precious Stones. Who knows where your designs will take you!

I really feel that nothing can substitute for live instruction.  If the pictorial above is too difficult to follow, please try this video tutorial:


Fall Meanderings: Goshen, Indiana

I’m not sure what I expected to find on a recent jaunt to Goshen, Indiana, but I guarantee I didn’t expect to find the level of sophistication in the food and shopping offerings!

The Goshen Courthouse on a beautiful fall day.

My best find of the day was a store called “Found.” —All puns intended….

Plan on a good hour or more to explore all of the goodies at Found.

Just read the sign on the store window.  What more could you want?  My friend and I spent well over an hour there, had lunch, did more shopping, then came back and spent another 45 minutes.  I still don’t feel like I absorbed all of the interesting details and stories that are associated with the items in the store.  After leaving and unwrapping my purchases at home, I felt as if I’d been on an overseas adventure and was bringing home souvenirs!

Interior of Found. Transported me to China, Cambodia, Ethiopia. Not what I expected in Goshen!

Notice the icons in the picture above.  These are handpainted and came from Bulgaria, as did some amazing metal boxes.  The craftsman creates these boxes for the Bulgarian National Museum in Sofia and also for the Graber family, the proprietors of Found.

Another interior shot. Words just cannot describe the depth of the offerings here. Pictures help!

Found is also a venue for the Graber family art.  Ten Graber family members contribute, including sister Jane who makes the most detailed miniature stoneware which is wheel thrown and hand painted.

Jane’s pottery displayed by one of those amazing icons.

Next up was lunch!  In our brief, didn’t even scratch the surface, day, we discovered two great spots for lunch.  Word of warning—they close early!  Kelly Jae’s Cafe closes at 1 pm at lunch time and Venturi’s pizza was luckily open just slightly later.  I know we missed out by not making it to Kelly Jae’s in time, but the silver lining was the amazing pizza of the day at Venturi’s–a fig paste, goat cheese, Gorgonzola, prosciutto, arugula, balasamic, truffle oil, and walnut delight!

This is what we missed by dawdling at Found. Next time!

But this is the delish pizza we ate. Happy mistake!

Goshen is ripe for a return trip.  I would love to go back and explore the antique mall again–where I found a few items I collect and a few more that I might start collecting.  Also, the Old Bag Factory is always a destination.  Next time!!!

Latest Jewelry Designs

Melani Wilson Designs started as a jewelry design business 9 years ago.  I started making earrings for family and friends and one thing led to another and I found myself managing 5 part time employees and not having the time to do the fun parts of my business.  Web orders led to despair instead of excitement.  Making the same product over and over was sucking out my soul.  So, I took a brief hiatus and regrouped.  I found that I still really do enjoy making and designing jewelry.  When I see someone wearing one of my designs, I am proud and happy that someone else appreciates my work.

Talking me out of my hiatus was a wonderful customer who wanted 23 necklaces.  How could I turn that order down?  Then I decided to participate in the Leland Art Fair again with my cousin.  Now, I’m making orders as they come in and making items for my own use–be it gifts or donations or to wear myself!

Here are some of my latest creations:

This beauty adjusts to wear at a choker length or 36″. I must admit I’ve been wearing it myself! Gray Pearls, Labordite, African trade beads.

Mixed it up with metal and leather. Pendant is aquamarine, freshwater pearl, labordite.

An order for a great customer. I need to make up a 9 pearl bracelet for myself with gray freshwater pearls and dark brown leather. It’s on the to do list!

4 strand necklace with biwi pearls, copper trade beads, pink freshwater pearls, and rose quartz. It’s pink, but it’s tough!

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint is a DIYers dream!  My cousin was raving about it and was kind enough to buy some for me this summer as she made her way up to Leland for a visit.

In progress. Super easy.

A huge selling point is the lack of pre-work one needs to do to a piece.  No sanding!  Just merely wiping your soon-to-be-beautiful piece of furniture down with a damp cloth.  Did I mention no sanding?!  I just don’t have the patience for projects that involve 3-4 days of work.  The paint also covers well–the Paris Gray I used probably could have been done with one coat–over a very dark stained finish.

We took all hardware off and buffed it with the clear wax. Really added to the look.

A darling bookshelf that was part of the day’s projects

Bookshelf all dolled up. Great job, Darci!

If you like what you see, check out my cousin’s facebook page—she is a DIY hero—taking a hobby and making money from it!  Almost time to give up your day job, Penny!

Scavenging in Your Own Backyard

I had a free day last week.  Nothing doing at all.  Totally cleared calendar.  Talk about a luxury.

So, I headed out with two buddies to hit some local antique and near antique stores.  What a fun way to spend a pretty day!  We laughed; we helped each other find just the right thing we never knew we needed; we learned a little bit about housewares history—did we expect to find an escargot pan in a small town in Indiana? No sir-ee.

So much fun to meander in and out of little shops in a small town…

Some amazing finds from our day:

I would be remiss not to show a picture of the escargot pan.

The infamous escargot pan all cleaned up!

Antique Crystal Chandelier for $600.  These are the kinds of items that add so much character to a room.

The picture does not do this beauty justice

Some great baskets, suitcases, and blanket chests at super reasonable prices at Roberta’s in Pierceton, Indiana.

I love the look of stacked baskets or vintage suitcases for a bedside table

Christopher Guy End Table at Blue Pearl Antiques–$350–alas it is sold!  I should have leaped on it.  That’s the danger of not buying the piece when you see it.

Picture REALLY does not do this justice. My photo skills must have been sub par that day

Rusty Gate at US 30 Countryside Antiques–use for cottage headboard?

Love the patina

Indiana Antique Company in downtown Warsaw–cameras on tripods, above mentioned escargot pan, and the most awesome 1970s all in one stereo system–my son is all over it!  Break out the albums from the basement!

Basement steps at Indiana Antique Company

One tip I want to pass on that I learned on that day is the need in every broom closet for a little miracle in a bottle called “Restor-a-finish.”  I guess this stuff lifts/covers every water mark ever put onto a wood table.  It’s on my list!

Time for More Etsy Finds: Wood and More Wood

My obsession with Etsy lives on.  Combine that with another current interest, faux bois, and I’ve developed quite a shopping list.

Here are my latest, most favorite finds in the “wood” themed category:

Ocean Swept:  I’ve been a little obsessed with drift wood and birch trees in my Etsy searches.  Ocean Swept offers a combo of products, from vintage chandeliers to drift wood shelves, that create an interesting visual palate.

Ocean Swept’s driftwood shelf

2.  Ball & Chain:  The wood theme lives in the medium of jewelry.  Check out the “plywood” and “oak” rings.

3.  urbanplusforest:  Another fun, wood-centric store.  I love the light and the shelf.  I’ve got my eye on a custom sized wall hanging as well.  The non-rustic feel of the items is amazing.

Wouldn’t this be great over a bed for a reading light?

4.  Recycled Brooklyn:  I love their use of wood/steel/and old sacks, like the burlap coffee bags featured in the bench below:

Would look great at the end of a boy’s bed or in an entry way area

So much on Etsy, so little time….

Macy’s Hotel Collection–Sheets & Towels

This is my shout out to Macy’s Hotel Collection.  I read about them in a decorating magazine once upon a time and stored the info away in my brain files.  I stayed with a friend who had made the purchase and got to experience the luxury of the 700 thread count sheets and the sumptuous absorbability of the towels.  All I can say is I’m hooked and I’ve placed my order.

Image via

My philosophy is if we spend 1/3 of our lives in our beds they should be like heaven on earth.

Image via Wikipedia

Shop the sales and look for free shipping!  It happens so frequently you won’t have to wait long.

Today’s The Big Day-TCFF

Only Great Movies!

Tile as Art

Handmade tile is dreamy.  The imperfections add character.  The differences in the glaze and color with each firing are charming.   It is organic and functional and beautiful.

Blue Heron Tile. Leif Sporck Tile Art.

I feel lucky to have worked with Leif Sporck, of Lake Leelanau, Michigan, on two separate building projects.  His artistry captures the rhythms of nature and is a beauty to behold.  I know its only tile, but it is sublime.

Leif’s art fair set up at the Leland Artists Market.

The hard part is choosing!  Do you want multicolored, hand painted tiles?  Do you want a solitary glaze but different images?  Do you want a large keystone piece to anchor a fireplace or kitchen?  Do you want to design your own?

Gorgeous Trillium Tile. See Leif’s web site for every wild flower imaginable.

Also, I have a little bit of an obsession with glass fishing net floats.  Leif is a great resource for these and collects them from all over the world.  He has an encyclopedic knowledge of the histories and origins of the floats he sells.  From Japan to Norway, these little guys would tell a story if they could talk.

I love the array of blues and greens.

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