11 February 2011

simple truths::modern wisdom

"The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple."
~Oscar Wilde

{simple truths::modern wisdom}
Last fall I embarked on a journey to developing my own line of jewelry. Now I am finally ready to unveil it.

When I joined the Working Artists Initiative group in September we had to set goals for our 7 months together that would culminate in a body of artwork. My focus included creating a line of jewelry components that I would sell in the spring. My plan included developing a cohesive idea; selecting different mediums to experiment with; conducting market research at shows, through the Gallery Q sales, and through my blog; seeking the feedback of trusted bead artist and designer friends; and culminating in creating jewelry with the components for sale as well as selling them individually.

My goal is to sell 100 of the pieces (either as finished jewelry or as components).

I have been selling these as finished pieces of jewelry since the beginning of the year and so far they have been popular. I love this piece called 'fly high on love' with a sweet little robin. These pendants pair well with so much in my stash, from different metal tones (copper, silver, gold) to the beautiful array of Czech pressed glass to art beads from other polymer to ceramic to glass.

{a sweet little robin on a branch, for sale at Gallery Q}
 I started by making initial pendants for my niece and daughter for Christmas and a special necklace for my sister-in-law Mary who has done so much for our family and our kids.
{Christmas present for my sister in law Mary who loves teal and brown}

{the back, with the message 'life is grand'}

I have made custom pieces, like this pair of necklaces that are a remembrance of a young girl named Holly who died in a car accident right before Christmas. These two matching necklaces were given to Holly's mom and sister as a way to remember her always, the message in French says 'do not forget me'  and one small crystal to represent a tear.

{'non m'oubliez pas' - do not forget me in remembrance of a life cut short}
Or the mother's necklace for a girl I work with whose first child, Zayden, was born in October. And I even made a custom piece for my dear friend Kari as she starts a new chapter in her life, this piece has a dragonfly and the message 'every thing happens for a reason' and coordinates beautifully with Heather Powers' Humblebeads.
{for my dear friend Kari who is starting new - 'every thing happens for a reason' paired with humblebeads}
And I am currently offering a special semi-custom order form for these pendants as simple necklaces featuring my daughter's dance school logo on one side, and their initial or the name of the show on the other ("X" as in ten) and their favorite birthstone all as a fundraiser to celebrate Dance Education Center's 10th anniversary.

I am well on my way to selling the 100 pieces for my goal.

So, what is the concept and how did it come about?

I was inspired to create these pendants and charms, most of which feature a positive message, after reading a book by Patti Digh called "Four Word Self Help." This pithy little book is a great motivator. The idea is that by coming up with your positive message in just four words and carrying it with you, that it will manifest in your life. You know I love words. They hold so much power and presence for me. I pick a word to frame my year and I have quotes and snippets of poetry that mean something to me all over my life. So when it came time for me to settle on a direction for this line, I knew that words would play a big part.

Combining my love of words and jewelry has been a dream of mine. I like things that look old and worn, have a sense of wit and whimsy, and speak a deeper truth. I wanted to create components that I could use in my own jewelry, but also that others might want to put their own spin on. It would give me great pleasure to see what others would do with these!

{my initial prototypes included tiny dog tags - these are popular but not my favorite}
I started with metal. I stamped words on individual tiny dog tags, hammered them for texture and oxidized them for interest. People really liked these, and I still do them on request, but there are a lot of people who do stamped words so much better than I ever could, so I would have a hard time standing out in the Etsy Ocean. So, I will still hammer metal, and probably offer these through Gallery Q, but this idea was too much like things that have already been done and I wanted it to be my own.

{I love using resin and combining these fun pops of color with the words}
I also did the same thing with resin-filled bezels. I layered Japanese chiyogami papers in the bezels and then floated the words in the resin. I liked the colors, but no one really purchased any of these in my market research. So, I will still use resin, and it helped me decide that I wanted to bring color and whimsy to the pieces, but this idea didn't pan out for the components.

I really thought that etching the metal would be the way to go. But I couldn't come up with a plan that would make it easy, even with the E3 etching system. So, I will still experiment with etching, I do have a custom order pending for the dance studio using etched pieces, and I still want to try out all those patinas that I bought from MissFickle, but etching just wasn't it.

Then right before Christmas, Heather Powers had a little tutorial on little bezel bobby pins as last minute Christmas presents. Even though my plan that week was to have 10 pieces etched and patina-ed by Monday, I went out and bought polymer clay instead. Of course. Makes perfect sense. I used the bezels I bought in the fall for the resin experiments and started coming up with my own ideas.

{hoots - available on Etsy}
Each 'simple truths' pendant or charm is lovingly hand made by me using polymer clay set in bezels then detailed with paint and buffed with Renaissance Wax. I love the mixed media feeling of these and they have a painterly quality that I adore. Some are one sided with just an image or a combination of words and image, some are double-sided so that you can choose which side is facing out. Or hold the words close to your heart.

Each one is different and there are no two alike. I like it that way. I am not a machine, and I don't really have an interest in making dozens of the same charms. Who really wants to see the exact same pendant used by someone else? I made the decision to hand craft each one individually, and that is how I do it. While I do carry around a little notebook that has ideas for the words, I am never sure what the image will look like until it is done. Perhaps it isn't the most efficient way of doing things, but that is okay. I like them organic, growing from the work of my two hands, and lovingly painted and sealed.

Because I will make these in small batches, I plan to have updates from time to time. If you are interested in being included in a simple truths pendant update, please fill out the Treasures Found Nation form in the sidebar. I hate being spammed and I promise that I will only use that email to communicate with you about pendant updates or special subscriber only deals and discounts.

{what would you do with 'bloom where you are planted'?}

In honor of the big release of these pendants/charms (already selling - thank you!), I would like to give someone the opportunity to win a simple truths pendant of their very own. And I would really love to see what you would create with it (or if you are not someone who makes beaded jewelry, then I will provide you with a chain so you can wear it out of the box!). Leave a comment below to enter. That is all there is to it. You don't have to be a follower, you don't have to sign up for the pendant updates, you just need to leave me a comment, like...

Tell me what you like about these...is it the colors? the metals? the words?
Tell me what quote or phrase or word you would like to see on future pendants?

Tell me what colors you would like to see them painted in?
Tell me what type of beads you would pair with this pendant if you won... art beads? glass? pearls? gemstones?

I will pick a random winner from all comments on this post by 02/14/2011!
Do tell!

Enjoy the day!


Melissa Meman said...

I love everything about them...the colors, the embossed flowers especially and the fact that they are 2-sided!

Have you looked into Mail Chimp? You can easily put a subscriber's box on your blog, and it is free for a limited amount of subscribers.

Gardanne said...

I like the painterly quality they have also. Good luck with your new venture.

Birgitta Lejonklou said...

I do love all of them ...think the favo may be dragonfly in pink...they really show the feeling You put into this work of art !!

Courtney said...

Congratulations! I love these, love that they are made by hand, love that each one is different.

steufel said...

Erin, I'm speechless. Your pendants really speak to me. Almost shed a tear looking at the necklaces for the mourning family. You are truly gifted!

Marcie A. said...

The colors are amazing to me! I love the mixes that you do and how you've highlighted the shaded areas. Gorgeous! Congrats on making and meeting a goal!

Gaea said...


For My Sweet Daughter said...

I love these because they are each unique and different. They seem to "speak" to the owner/wearer.
Oh, I hope I am the luck winner.
Holly's necklace is so amazingly beautiful. The story made me cry and I didn't know her. I could feel her presence when I looked at the pieces you made. I said a prayer for her family that was left behind. A prayer for strenghth to smile again because I am sure that is what she would want. So sad, so, so, so sad.

SummersStudio said...

Erin, these are wonderful! I am so pleased to see you making your goal and feeling good about what you are doing. The colours, definitely the colours, so nice and muted, like water colour wash. I always love the way you put together words. Journey would be a word I would choose.

Brandi said...

Oh, friend, these are incredible! I love the look - go you!

I have to second Mail Chimp - that's what I use.

Alice said...

Erin, I'm so proud of you for developing your own line of jewerly! You've been busy creating them and selling them, not to mention the market research and trying different techniques! Give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done!

I love the variety of these pendants, the different mediums, the lovely colors, and the concept of simple truths. These sweet pendants would look good with any combination of beads in my stash.

Craftymoose Crafts said...

I love that these pieces have a message that you can choose to keep to yourself or relay to all who can see it. I love that they are framed.

Lance said...

I am SO excited for you, and for what you are creating!! And these pieces - they are so incredibly done! I personally just love the positive and uplifting messages you are creating...and giving others the gift of having this with them...wearing it...how cool!!

"Dream Big" --> my favorite (from many very awesome sayings!) up above!!


You S-H-I-N-E!!!!!!

Cynthia said...

Oh Erin! These are so beautiful! When I saw your collage of all of them I let out a little gasp - so beautiful. I think your colors, images and words are perfect. You don't need any suggestion from the blogoshere - just keep making the way you are.
If I were lucky enough to win one, I would look at my lampwork beads I have on hand, and Czech glass, and possibly some vintage beads. I think vintage elements would look great!

You are so very talented!!

cjvierow said...

Erin, You are such a talented lady! Love your newest creations. I always go for the cool colors, blues, lavenders, etc. I'd maybe use some Swarovski crystals for a little added bling. Some sayings I like: "Prayer changes everything"
"My love, My life" "live, laugh, love" "Soar with the eagles" "life is a mystery"

Also, love the "hoot" pendant. How about some hummingbirds? Cats? Dogs? There are a lot of us who love our "fur children" and would wear something with a reminder of them.


swopemelmel said...

Wow, congratulations!!! Your new pendants are lovely. I adore them all,hey that would be a good pendant word, ADORE. As for the beads I would use, I must admit I can NOT keep my hands out of the crystals or the antique brass chain. I also love rondells. swopemelmel@aol.com

sandi m said...

Congratulations Erin! I think you've found your "aha" moment. Thanks for sharing your thought process.
These are lovely and so versatile - I can see them paired with pearls, Czech glass, objects and other mixed metals. Love the special necklaces you made for family and friends.
I think you as the artist are the best one to determine colors and words - that's what makes them special. The purchaser is buying a piece of YOUR creativity.

ps - I didn't see the chain length offered in your Etsy shop (or maybe it's my bad eyes!).

Wishing you so much success!! My prediction: simply 1000 words.

Silver Parrot said...

These are really great, Erin. I love that they are all so unique and personalized in their own way. You've done a fantastic job!

lisbonlioness said...

This is not for the giveaway, Erin, just to concratulate you on a fantastic project. They are all incredibly beautiful and I swear, I would wear each and every one of them. You have created true beauty!
Again, NOT for the giveaway, but I would combine them with wood and crystals. They all seem to carry the forest and the rain within them, and I don't even mean to be cheesily poetic!

Janet said...

Erin these are the lovliest of Treasures!!

My Life Under the Bus said...

Sweet Erin! I am so excited for you - I am sure whatever you do you will be successful ( That little owl is adorable)

Jenners said...

I love how you use words in your jewelry. As a word person, it is what appeals to me.

Anna Lear said...

I just love the pendants, and I really appreciate you writing about the process you took to come up with them because it validates the power of experimentation combined with creative intuition. Using the bezels is just brilliant; it "frames" the piece and makes it appear more finished and durable. As for the colors, I lean towards jewel tones and would use some of the colorful pendants in your line with gemstones such as turquoise and the various jaspers... but their uniqueness would also surely encourage me to experiment. So two thumbs up for this new line!

Marsha of Marsha Neal Studio said...

These are beautiful Erin!!! I am so excited that you are at the point of getting your line out into the world. I am most drawn to the blues and greens… That purple one in the mosaic photo - upper left - wow! Then the piece with the bird on the tree also speaks to me.

Can't wait to go check out some of your links…

Pretty Things said...

I'm overwhelmed with the talent and overjoyed for you finding your "thing"! I long for the day when I find MY "thing". I'm hoping it'll be in lampwork glass, but who knows? I just haven't gotten there yet. But the cool thing is the journey.

So very proud of you, so very happy for you, and your detailing your journey there is an inspiration to so many.

rosebud101 said...

Erin, you have done a great job of achieving your goals! What words? hope is my mantra this year. That's it.

Lisa Godfrey said...

Congratulations Erin! They are really beautiful and I've been admiring them on Etsy, just waiting for one that I felt was the perfect fit for me. My favorite part is the words. Your blog is always full of inspirational quotes and it's great to see these as wearable art! My favorite quote would probably be too long to fit though. :-)

Cindy said...

CONGRATS on launching your new line,Erin!!! Your new pendants are beautiful. You must be so proud of all that you have accomplished...like Alice mentioned - complete with market research and all. I love that you can personalize your pendants however you wish -with paint colors, words, and images. The sky's the limit now! You really do inspire me!

Dee said...

Way to go and congratulations!! The pendants are so you. I love the idea, I love the story behind them and the individuality of each piece being unique and one of a kind. I really like the dragonfly above. Nice job!!

stregata said...

What do I like most about them? That you have found something that is uniquely you - your process; your colours; your intention (the words, yes, you are someone that expresses herself with words). Bravo!

JeannieK said...

Congratulations! These are spectacular. It's hard to believe you are new to PC, these look like work from a pro.

I wouldn't be so inclined to add more art beads with these wonderful pieces. I see more gemstones and chain.

I wish you the best with your new line of jewelry. I think it's going to be a huge success.

Be~Jeweled by Jana said...

I just love these. Actually, everything about them, the words, the paint effects, the whimsy. I love words and quotes,too, and these "speak" to me.

Lois Moon said...

I love the distressed nature of the colors. It doesn't matter if it is shades of plum like in the dragonfly or teal/blue as in many of the others, the color change across the surface of the piece is what makes it interesting to me. Beautiful pieces.

Kristen said...

Oh Erin!!! I love the new line. All of it. You have really come out and shown your beauty of design and heart!
I love "Bloom Were you are planted" and as I saw it I pictured the most beautiful soft teal and purple seed bead chain. I would wear it on the days that I need to be reminded that I am enough and that I can bloom no matter what is happening around me. I am going to run over right now and check out your etsy shop (ok first I am going to catch up on your blog) and favorite some stuff (windyrockjewelry).

lunedreams said...

Wow, these are AWESOME!!! As I was reading, I was thinking, did she MAKE these? (Because I didn't know you did polymer clay). I love their vintage feel, and the antiqued look you've given them. I love the colors and the images. I esp. love that red violet dragonfly one--perfection (can't stop looking at it--exquisite!) I love the look of a polymer clay cab like these in a bezel. They really seems to express your aesthetic well, and the finished pieces are lovely. LOVE the one with the bird (love to see the top half of that necklace more clearly--what is that?)

Go YOU!! Making your plan happen! I remember when you started talking about this and I couldn't wait to hear what you would do. These are really lovely, "message" pieces seem to be popular, and it sounds like a manageable amount of labor. Can't wait to see more! CONGRATULATIONS to you!!!

Melinda Orr said...

Looking good....follow your instinct...it will get you where you are looking to go... phrases and catch words always leave me....keep a journal for when you catch them! Then you won't forget...Best wishes on your endeavor!

Melinda Orr

Palimpa Lim said...

Erin, these pendants are georgeous! They touch me. Deeply.
What I like most? I really can't tell. The words, the meanings, the colours, the images, the fact that they are two-sided,... everything. Honestly.
I think I would combine them with brass or copper and glass beads or gem stones in "quiet" or matching colours, but less is more in this case, I believe.

Jenni C said...

Congratulations on your new line, your effortts and vision are fantastic.
I love aqua/teal colours especially when aged in appearance.The words make it very personal.I would put a handmade copper bead and possibly a little glass flower, nothing to detract too much from the pendant .

Davinia said...

Your components are delightful. I just know they will sell like hot cakes. Much success with your new venture Erin, you've made me realise that there's a lot to be said for goal setting.

Heather said...

Love your new look. I am totally in love with the dragonfly pendant combined with Heather Power's beads- WOW!
If I (fingers crossed) won the giveaway I would combine the pendant with some clear faceted glass beads, some fresh water white pearls, some interesting metal pieces that have flower and dragonfly shapes and probably I would make some blue frosted art beads with polymer clay to match the colors in the pendant.

Coty said...

I love these pendants because they look so rustic but elegant and colorful. Just perfect!

Off the Beadin' Path said...

You're an inspiration to many, Erin! Your Gallery Q show was a pinnacle, and now you have topped that one, too. You've met the daunting challenge of creating something new in the handmade jewelry world, and so well done. Speaking of little sayings, YOU are soaring with the eagles! And you know they are known for their farsightedness :) If that gorgeous pendant comes my way, I might put a silk cord with it and some Humble beads because the colors are so soft. That's one of my colors BTW, I have many things to wear with it, just saying..... There's a lot of comments and they will keep coming. Congratulations!

EB Bead and Metal Works said...

I know I am late in posting a comment, but I am just now starting to get caught up on all the posts I have missed in the last week or so. I hope you are doing better after "The Crud". I am still hacking but not as bad as I was and I have my voice back, no more sounding like a squeaky toy.
I love your pendants - I saw the post and went "Oh My!" I like the pendants with the images and the words on the back - I like how you said the words can lay against your heart. I also like the metal and polymer clay together. I love fall colors and spring colors and I think pearls and maybe accented with lampwork beads would be great.
I will say it again, these are fantastic!
Have a great week!

Judy said...

Erin, the pendants are fabulous! I love the colors, shapes and words, you did an amazing job with your new line and I am sure you will surpass your goal of selling 100 pieces.

SueBeads said...

I missed the giveaway but they are gorgeous girlie!

BooBeads said...

I'm too late for the drawing but wanted you to hear me as well!

I love that you can feel the love you put in these powerful little messages!

I would be so happy to see one that says
I lead, not follow

I have twin daughters who will be 13 this month and it seems such a critical time in a girls life, self worth, self esteem, finding themself, dealing with the emotional roller coaster our hormones give us.....Ok I won't go too far into it, but I want my twins to be leaders, not followers, to love and be happy with who they are!

Christine Damm said...

Erin, these are just wonderful! I am SO proud of you for having the vision and then realizing it! These are little gems of love, you can just tell how they are imbued with it, every single one. A fantastic way to get yourself out into the world, doing good. That's what we really want to do with our jewelrywork, make someone happy, help them hold a memory, commemorate a special occasion. And you have provided the perfect vehicle. I love the individual coloring. Let's talk soon by e-mail! Hugs!!

Michelle said...

Congrats on the launch of your pendants, my friend. These are just wonderful. I love the saturated colors and the 2 sided ones are my faves. The collage is lovely and I don't know which is my favorite.

I loved seeing the process of creating your line. You go Girl!
Have a wonderful, wonderful!

The Empress said...

I love the organic chunkiness: the colors , the words chosen.

My fave part would have to be the old type printing: I ADORE that.

I would pair it with black beads...and a turquoise pendant.

How will I choose. I want to buy one for myself.

CONGRATS! Your own line of jewelry: of course.


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