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Posts from the ‘Style’ 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.

Supplies:

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:

 

Lady-like Pumps

A beautiful shoe trend I noticed on my recent trip to NYC is the predominance of lady-like pumps.  The trend points back to the pointed toe, kitten heel, single soled shoe.  Still available are the more rocker style platform pumps, but the new trend makes them look down right tart-y!

Manolo Blahnik--always classy.. Via Barneys.com

Manolo Blahnik–always classy.. Via Barneys.com

I am particularly loving the new heels–the thin, flat heels at Louis Vuitton and the inventive whimsical heels at Marc Jacobs.  When worked in combination with the mod black and white palette it feels like a combination of the 50s and the 60s–in all the best ways!

Here's the idea...black and white looks fresh again!  Via NYTimes.com.

Here’s the idea…black and white looks fresh again! Via NYTimes.com.

I’m so happy I saved some of my old pumps from the early 2000s, but I’m sure I won’t be able to resist a new pair.

The Year of the Snake in Accessories

I must admit I prefer seeing snakes in metal form, rather than live and in person.  This being the Year of the Snake, this creature is front and center of many an accessories collection and is the subject of Bulgari’s retrospective exhibit of its Serpenti jewelry collection.

Now that's how I like my snakes...Bulgari store front, NYC.

Now that’s how I like my snakes…Bulgari store front, NYC.

I’ve always liked snakes in jewelry–especially rings and bracelets which seem to lend the sinuous, wrapping ability of the creature to the form of the object.

You don’t have to shop at Bulgari to have a beauty wrap itself around your wrist.  A quick search on Etsy yielded 506 items.  Here is one of my favorites:

Consider this set–a vintage Whiting & Davis stamped belt and bracelet.  Amazing….

Mesh, enameled, bejeweled–snakes are available in all different interpretations.  This is the year to embrace the snake!

Musings on Tennis Shoes

I’ve had a struggle with wearing tennis shoes in cities and on trips.  I have always felt too touristy or out of style, but my feet sure appreciate the support and ease of walking in tennis shoes.

I recently consulted with a fashion maven to see what her opinion might be about how to get around a city and still be on trend.  What to do?

Her advice was tennis shoes!  She had specific brands in mind, depending on your budget…

For the flush of bank account, behold the Lanvin tennis shoe:

 

Lanvin Suede Sneakers via Barneys.com.

Lanvin Suede Sneakers via Barneys.com.

Yes, Lanvin, the French fashion house, makes a tennis shoe!  It is adorable, I must admit.  So, instead of dropping beaucoup dollars on the stilettos you only wear once a year, why not get your price per wear with a tennis shoe?

Also saw these Golden Goose tennis shoes while perusing the Barney’s site–I like the skater boy look:

Golden Goose Tennie--image via Barneys.com.

Golden Goose Tennie–image via Barneys.com.

 

Oh the other side of the budget coin, consider Chuck Taylors by Converse.  Long worn by hipsters, musicians, and other creative types, Chuck Taylors come at a price point that is definitely easier to swallow.  I recently went on the Converse web site and you can even customize your own!  I’m debating on a pair of washed gray ones and think I may pull the trigger.  Maybe some bright colored ones for summer…

 

Chuck Taylors via The Finish Line.

Chuck Taylors via The Finish Line.

 

Marimekko/Chuck Taylor collab via Zappos.com.  Hits the black and white trend!

Marimekko/Chuck Taylor collab via Zappos.com. Hits the black and white trend!

 

Spring Time Chucks!  Via Zappos.com.

Spring Time Chucks! Via Zappos.com.

 

 

 

 

Winter Walking in the City

We’re getting ready for some travel in THE city–NYC–and very excited, but I’m worried about my poor little feet.  How to look stylish, stay comfortable, be ready to hit the pavement and walk many blocks–these are age old questions.   But then add the element of  weather that may be cold, icy, snowy, rainy or all of the above?  My snow boots tend towards the outdoorsy or the ski resort look. For this trip, I want something urban and cool and grown up, but that won’t get ruined if I step into a slush puddle!

Zappos to the rescue!  I love that web site for ease of shopping, massive selection, and especially ease of return.  The other evening, in the comfort of my flannel PJ pants, I ordered 5 pairs of boots that seemed to fit my requirements.  After receiving the shipment in short notice and trying them on here are the winners:

The winner in the fashion forward category!

The winner in the fashion forward category!

LOVE these Aquatalia by Marvin K black suede numbers.  The 3″ heel is tempered by a 1/2″ platform.  They are super comfortable to walk in–you can really take a nice stride. I also like that the fleece top is subtle and not too thick and wide.  They look great with skinny jeans and with black tights and a skirt.  These will be my museum going, nice lunch pair!

The winner in the comfort, utilitarian category is….drum roll….

The Merrell Captiva Mid Waterproof!

I cannot over-exaggerate the comfort of these boots!

I cannot over-exaggerate the comfort of these boots!

While some of the reviews of this boot don’t give it high marks for being stylish, I kind of like it.  It feels a little like a chunky, motorcycle type boot that happens to be weatherproof.   And really, it is so super comfortable. I will be ready to walk many, many blocks in these without worries of sore feet or the elements.

So, NYC here I come!

Not expecting our weather to be quite this nice....

Not expecting our weather to be quite this nice….

Man Jewelry

I’m taking a stab at man jewelry.  I’ve been seeing a lot of the macrame bracelets on the arms of a variety of men–from Kayne and Jay-Z to my local car salesman. Semi-precious stone mala beads, diamond encrusted beads (just assuming Kayne), and metal trade beads all seem to be components of choice.  The trend must be here to stay if there is a NY Times article about it!

Kanye sporting the layered bracelet look

How cool can this guy get?

I’m not heading down the diamond route, but want to make something attractive, tough, long lasting, and masculine.  Also, maybe with enough good vibes coming off of it to make the wearer feel creative.

My first attempts at a more manly look. Agate and obsidian and lava, amongst other stones.

So far, my stash includes black lava, bronze/silver/brass bicone metal from Ethiopia, ocean jasper, moss agate, black onyx, natural bone, and snowflake obsidian beads.  My guess is that I will have a lot of cross over purchases–maybe women buying for their men, but then wearing them themselves!  A great source for the beads on line is Happy Mango Beads.  They have an interesting selection, high quality and good prices.  What more do you need?

Going to your local music fesitval? Class? Work? You may need these.

If you like Kayne’s multi colored Coachella bracelets, check out this link to Burkman Bros.  Rock on!

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!

GLOOMY Weather Has Us Looking for Beauty Indoors!–Introducing Guest Blogger Laurie Melstrom

My dear friend and neighbor, Laurie Melstrom, has agreed to contribute a guest blog or two (or hopefully 10 or more!) to the efforts here on this site. Laurie is multi talented:  a writer, gardener, equestrienne, mother, grandmother, loving wife, and trusted friend.    I know she will fly away from me and develop her own following, but until she does, here is her first awesomely written post.  It makes me want to cruise some art galleries…

Even the pup is gloomy….

Trouble is brewing over Lake Michigan . It is coming in the form of a pile of darkening thunder clouds on the horizon. Boats of all sizes are leaving white trails behind them in the churning water as they race to port before the storm collides with their day.

A good day to be indoors or exploring a gallery!

This means the shops on the Leelanau peninsula will be packed with vacationers determined to head for home with something more than a tan and campfire memories…  One of the more out of the way spots that I love to shop is an art gallery in the tiny village of Omena. Tamarack Gallery houses  a riot of creative treasures that excites the artistic heart. I always feel guilty about wanting almost everything I see when I go there. But this note is not about my personal avarice (well, maybe just a little.).

Tamarack Gallery, Omena, MI

My last trip in, I was intrigued with the jewelry designs of sculptor,  Cathryn Conn.

Love the strength exemplified by this bracelet

The first to catch my eye is the “stake” bracelet–very whimsical , but strong architecturally . I like its character and can imagine wearing it with my more feminine shirts and dresses…it would balance the feel. “Hey, I’m confident enough to wear ruffles, but there’s a stake and chain girl in here too! ” Ha!

The “stake” bracelet

Still, as much as I like that work, I am really attracted to this simple bracelet . It is a forged iron and 18 k gold bangle that’s sum is much more than its parts.

Laurie and her favorite pick!

Iron is a traditional symbol for strength and since I’ve raised four children and have been married for 28 years, it speaks to me.  By the way, did you know that iron’s elemental symbol and the symbol for men is the same?  Hmmm. I digress.  The bangle has weight and character . It might not capture the attention of others like the stake bracelet , but it can be worn with everything from jeans to jodhpurs . It has style and strength in a pure form.

2 choices–great for layering or wearing alone

Why didn’t I buy it?  Because my husband was standing next to me , that’s why. So on that note, dear Melani , I must sign off. I have a short drive to make and a bracelet to buy.
All my best to Pete and the children ; big bear hugs are for you!

DIY iPhone Case

I’ve been unhappy with the choices of iPhone cases lately.  Why do I feel compelled to have my iPhone case be identified with me?  Maybe because I tend toward the visual and if something I see every day is visually “off” it truly bothers me.  After dropping a case I liked 10 too many times and having the bits and pieces break off until only half a case remained, I knew I needed to do some serious case shopping.

I found a great case last night by Dannijo.  But at $98, and with the distinct probability that I will break it, I couldn’t pull the trigger.  Still it rocks!

Image

Image via shopbop.com

I have a friend who has an adorable case that is a picture of her even more adorable kids.  My kids probably wouldn’t want to be honored in such a way, but I was thinking how my daughter’s awesome photography would make a really cool iPhone case.

I used her photo of Paris Tree Tops and uploaded it to Shutterfly.  I ended up pretty quickly creating 3 different cases.  Shhhhh…these are going to be Christmas gifts!

Image

Paris Tree Tops. © Madeline Wilson. All rights reserved.

I also used this picture of a Leland, Michigan sunset to create another one:

Image

It’s graphic, it’s abstract, it’s nature.

My only problem will now be which one to keep for myself!

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