Monday, June 6, 2011

The Quest for the Perfect Pair...

So I'm a little late with my Thursday Three on account of my son separating my shoulder last week. But alas, things are feeling better and I'm back to the grind of laundry, metal work, cleaning, cooking...etc etc... But that's neither here nor there.

I love earrings. I go in spurts of what my favorite jewelry accessory is--two months ago it was bracelets and today it's earrings. After making Jennifer's Rome Earrings
(aren't they fun?!) that I love so much, I had a request for a pair of neutral earrings that got me thinking...

What's more neutral than silver? So I developed these three fun new designs with a few additional options. They can all be hamered in a number of textures and embellished with any color of beads.

First, I made the Sarah earring. I named it such as it was inspired by a set of earrings my friend Sarah sent me after I totaled my car right after college. She sent me a musical card with a fabulous pair of earrings that have some how survived 3 moves and my terrible organization skills. The Sarah earrings are fun hammered aluminum that could be adjusted in length. I'd consider adding a small cluster of beads at the top of this earring if you wanted more color.

Secondly, I reversed the Jennifer Rome earrings to create, Jenemor (get it?! I thought I was being so clever...)-- a large hammered teardrop shape. I love how this set slowly transitions between two types of texture. Beads could be added to the center of the teardrop or the bottom to create color and add movement.

Finally, I made the Ooh-La-La Loops. Simplicity is key to these hammered hoops. The pair shown is about a half inch in diameter but could be made to any size. The aluminum wire keeps these so lightweight that even a giant statement pair would be so light they'd be forgotten. On a small pair like this I'd keep the add on's simple with a single drop in the center, but on a big pair I'd consider a large odd number of dangles from the bottom. I love odd numbers. I'm odd.

Interested in scoring your own pair? Head on over to and pick out your favorite! Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Very Memorial Day

There are 12 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild on my Mom's side of the family. I have the fun honor of being the guineapig, aka, the first grandchild. Because of the nature of our family, I am also a lot older than most of my cousins. 26 years older than the most recent addition and 13 years older than the closest one to my age outside of my own brothers. My youngest uncle is only 6 years older than me so you can see how things get really blended really fast. We laugh when we gather for family photos at weddings because usually the opposite family might have 8 or so standing there and we have over 2 dozen! I love it.

(5 people have been added since this photo almost 3 years ago!)

Yesterday was Memorial Day and I didn't celebrate with a traditional flowers on a grave sort of tribute. Rather, I packed up my 17 month old son and my mother and I headed North to the small town where I grew up to help my grandparents sort through some things for a move. But this Memorial Day will never be forgotten. As we unpacked boxes of handmade linens, doilies, dishes and photographs, my Gram and Granddad shared with us (my Aunt Bekka and her kids, my mom and her kid and grandkid) the stories of where things came from and why they were important. We learned how to tell who made what doily based on color, (always my Great Grandma), or not (Great-Great-Grandma Starkey) and who "tatted" as opposed to crocheted (Great-Great-Great Aunt Ida, who incidentally was also the woman we've heard the infamous story about her smoke alarm going off which turned out to be her door bell :) ). We laughed as we found a coffee cup belonging to my Great-Great Aunt JuJu that had a matching ash-try saucer. Coffee and cigs, apparently the breakfast of champions, or at least sweet Great Aunts. And we cried as we admired an elephant bank and single framed photo--all we have to remember my Great Grandmother's brother who died in a tragic accident as toddler. And then giggled some more as we found my Great Grandmother's infamous picture holding the neighbors cat. The story goes that a traveling photographer took it and thought having Virginia Rose (that's my Grandmother's mother's name) holding the neighbors cat would be cute... "Now, Virginia," he said, "You hold on tight to that cat and don't you let it go..." and when she did let it go? She had held it a little too tight because that cat was dead as a doornail.

And as I wandered out on the farm with my son and thought of all the great memories I had there growing up. I saw my cousin Brenna moving her bucket calves with our proud Granddad standing by and I remembered my own bucket calf that he taught me to care for. And as Granddad took us out on the golf cart to the edge of the pasture I remember my first taste of freedom and my parents would let us kids wander anywhere as long as we stayed in the fence. I just knew I was miles away from the farmhouse because everything is big and magical when you're a kid. And while I've grown up and realized that maybe not everything is quite so big, there's still a lot of magic to me on that farm. My earliest memories are of the house being built and my most fun memories involve that pasture and the cows and hanging out with my grandparents. Except for the time Gram put my Barbie underwear in the burn bin. That was not fun. :) Why couldn't she have just cleaned them out?! ;) Just kidding Grammie, incase you're reading this. And here in a few weeks my grandparents are going to move to to a new house. One that my son will probably know as theirs. And he'll go and remember playing in the yard and riding the golfcart and a number of other things I'm sure I can't even think of yet. And as we pulled away from the farm yesterday evening I saw a little mound of dirt in the pasture with a kid-built fort and a bunch of Tonka trucks paving their way through dirt roads. And I couldn't help but smile as my mom backed up the car for us to take a second look, because now it's time for another generation to remember that pasture and to love that land and make new memories--my younger cousins.
(Almost the Dolloff Girls, 2 more are marrying in this summer! )

The best part of being the oldest grandchild in my family is this, the memories. I have fond memories of all four of my still living grandparents and, are you ready for this? I vividly remember and had relationships with 4 great grandparents, a number of great-great aunts, one great great great (yes, that's 3!) aunt and there were even a couple great great grandparents still living when I was born. How awesome is that?! I can't get over it really. I'm so blessed. Because having a family history that rich is better than winning the lottery. It's getting to actually know your genelogical line so what when personality traits or faces show up two and three generations later, we know EXACTLY where they came from. Because we saw them get passed down. And for the generations to come who won't remember we have hope. A hope God promised to Abraham in Genesis 17:7, "I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you." And one day I imagine we'll all get together in Heaven and hear these stories firsthand, although I'm sure they've gotten a little better through the years. :) And that was my Memorial Day. One that I will never forget.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Why I Wear Jewelry...

So last week on facebook I posted a question that earned a very interesting response. The simple question was, "Why do you wear jewelry?" While I anticipated an array of answers from "it makes me feel pretty" to "I just like it!" I did not anticipate this..."Why do YOU wear it?" And that got me thinking...good job Tabitha :).

You often see my designs and maybe some of you assume those are pretty much what I wear, which is to some point correct. But I started assessing my favorite accessories and asking myself that question, "why do I wear this?!"

While I wish I could go through every piece of my jewelry and take the time to really assess it, I simply have too much and you would be bored to tears because, as I've mentioned before, I definitely assign value to inanimate objects and therefore own far too many of them. Here's some of my most worn pieces as displayed above my dresser. I have a rule that I inadvertantly live by when it comes to accessories-if I can't see them, I don't wear them. So I've been through a number of display/art/holders for my jewelry and this is my current favorite...

But here are four of my favorite accessories that I wear most often...

First, my wedding ring. I guess that's a given but my husband honestly picked this out all by himself. We never went ring shopping, we never looked at rings online, he just went to Custom Goldworks in Loveland CO and had this custom made for me. Yes. He's awesome. One of the coolest things about Custom Goldworks is that they make all their rings from wax molds so they are forever one-of-a-kind as the mold is destroyed in the creation process. So, why do I wear this? Well obviously there's a lot of symbolism behind a wedding ring and i won't get into all of that. Besides being able to ward off creepers with a nice flash of the bling (don't pretend that you've ever done that...) I find my ring to be very useful in reminding me how much my husband does to make me feel loved. He went SO out of his way (and probably his budget) to get me this ring because he knew I would adore it. It makes me remember how much I adore him too.

The second thing I wear often is this necklace. It is one of my designs but not one that I've ever reproduced, although I could I guess...anyhow. I fell in love with this thick rolled chain when I picked it up at a thrift store years ago. Come to think of it, I'm not sure I was selling jewelry then. I didn't have anything to put on it then except a large pearl bauble so that's where it started. After I started dating my now husband, his sister Hannah gave me a skeleton key from her grandparents farm for Christmas and I added that little guy. And sometime in our first 3 years of marriage Caleb found the neat glass silhouette cabachon and gave it to me for...maybe my birthday? So those three pieces just seemed destined together. Sometimes I add on the large brass backplate when I want a little more bling and that came from the handles of a closet on our first house. So, that's the sentiments behind all of it, but truthfully I wear this necklace because I don't have to think about it. It's large enough to just slip over my head and looks great with anything from a button down to a dress to a tee shirt. I just feel like it's a chic statement piece that I'll forever have and love dearly.

The third thing I wear several times a week year round is my 29 cent scarf. It's the best. It's from my favorite thrift store and was a fabulous find when I was in college. I've worn it over my hair when working on large scale paintings, rolled it into a headband, tied it to my purse and of course worn it around my neck. It's just that piece that keeps on giving. I wear it because I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE the color pallet in it. And there's something about those colors that make me happy so I love having them close by always.

Finally, my staple earrings, small pearl studs from my husband as a first year wedding anniversary gift. He did well. I've worn them nearly every day since. Consequently they've needed a few repairs and the backs don't match but hey, when they're in my ears, you never know! Why these? Being a stay at home mom, I honestly don't take a ton of time to plan through my outfits or really dress up on a daily basis. Keeping these guys in makes me feel like I've put a little extra effort into my daily look. Although now the secret's out. I haven't. :)

So...your turn! What's your favorites and why do you wear them?!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Love Letter from Italy

Hello all you sweet followers. I have very little excuse for my lack of writing other than the weather being nice, two weddings I'm quite excited about, and just it being that time of year when everything seems to get flat crazy. So if you have a moment to relax and enjoy something this week, enjoy this...a Love Letter from Italy. Tonight, in honor of my friend since forever's birthday (I'll let her decide to or not to reveal her age) I wanted to let her be the guest writer and share the real-life-love story she is currently living. It will make you smile and remember, or look forward to, your first steps of love AND for one lucky reader, there will be a souvenir from the story.... And with that, I leave you to our guest writer, Miss Jennifer Bergman....

Chris Worrell May 16 at 9:53am
oh jennifer bergman, how's life treatin you these days?

That was it: that’s how it started. That one Facebook message has taken me on a journey that I never believed possible. And it’s filled my life with such love that I never knew I could have. One year ago to the day from when I write this is when Chris and I reconnected. We had known each other in college-but only as acquaintances. We were both from small Kansas towns in the same league, but he was just enough older for me not to know him. So I was only around him for a brief period of time my freshman year of college since we didn’t actually go to the same school. After that time, I basically forgot about him- besides the occasional post I would see on Facebook.

When I got that message, I debated on whether or not I should respond. I didn’t really know what the point was, but at the same time, I thought it would be nice to catch up. Little did I know that Chris had contacted me from halfway around the world. He was currently deployed with the United States Army in Afghanistan. At first, our contact was merely in a friendship sort of way. But within a few weeks, I could tell that my feelings were starting to turn towards a deeper path. It was scary. Loving a soldier is difficult- but falling in love with one in the middle of a war 8000 miles away is terrifying.

I was amazed at how much access I had to Chris. We sent messages back and forth as often as we could- which ended up being every couple of days. Towards the end of his deployment, he had a bit more access to the Internet, and we got to see each other for the first time in 7 years. Although his computer access didn’t allow him to have sound, we could still see each other- which was amazing. Chris has the best smile- and the hottest dimples you’ve ever seen and every time I saw him smile, I fell a little bit further. (He will kill me if he finds out I’m talking about his dimples!!)

After 6 months, Chris left Afghanistan to go back to Italy, where he is still stationed. At first the only form of communication we had was phone calls. Which mean we had to buy phone cards. A LOT of phone cards. But eventually he got Internet which meant we could Skype, so we could both see AND hear each other. And then it was Christmas- and he had leave. And instead of going straight back to Kansas, he made a detour in Dallas. It wasn’t just 7 months of waiting for the moment to see each other. It was 7 years and what felt like a lifetime of waiting. That moment of seeing him at the airport for the first time was the most incredible moment of my life. All the nerves and worry and yearning and love were all wrapped up in that single second, when our eyes met. And we both just knew that everything was as it should be.

We had the opportunity to spend the holidays with our families- and then right before New Year’s Eve, I got to fly to Italy to spend two amazing weeks with Chris. From New Years Eve in Venice to spending time at his apartment in Vicenza, that trip was a dream come true. When I knew I was going to Italy, I knew I could find some treasures to bring back to the states with me- and the first person I thought of that could appreciate them as much as I did was my friend Jillian. Ever since my junior year of prom, I have been wearing Jillian’s jewelry. Her talent doesn’t surprised me, but it always impresses me. I love her innovative use of materials and above all, I love her passion and purpose. So when I found a store in Rome that had a plethora of baubles, stones and jewels, I went wild. I got a small bag of goodies to send back to Jillian, and felt so guilty not being able to bring more. She made a few pieces out of my favorite finds and I can’t wait to see them. To forever have something to wear from this incredible trip and to have it made by my dear friend is priceless to me.

My love story isn’t over yet. Chris still has about 2 years left in Italy. Until the day we can be together on the same continent, we use Skype, Facebook and phones to communicate. And although it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, it’s also the best thing I’ve ever done. He keeps me going. He reminds me to not focus on what we don’t have, and to focus on what we do. He loves me completely and unconditionally. He is my everything and my best friend. I am so grateful for him and so blessed to be able to share my life with him. And it still makes us laugh when we think about how all this started by one random message……

(Jillian here again) How great was that?! Here's what I designed for sweet Jennifer... I decided that if I wanted to wear jewelry to remember a trip it would need to be either something to wear every day or something that really jumped out and made a statement. Jennifer sent enough materials for both, so both is what I did! Take a look...

Here's the simple everyday necklace...

And then the statement piece.... (that cord took 4 hours, I'm not sure I'll ever do one again!)

And then mix and match earrings--these guys are vying for my all time favs...but they're hers!

And the mix and match bracelet! Which is super fun because....leave a comment and a similar styled one with glass beads from Jen's trip can be yours!!!! Like us on Facebook at and leave a comment on our profile photo too for a double entry! :) Good luck!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

4th Week, Thursday!

Hello my friends! I have several irons in the fire this week but I'm choosing to share my favorite with you. Hot off the...kiln. Seriously, these guys were started last night around 8pm, so they're brand new babies in my world. Enamel works! I'm loving the irregularities and effortlessly artistic chic that these guys seem to bring. These were the trial run, as are most things I do, so take a look, let me know what you think. Thanks for all your input, I truly couldn't go on with out you all!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

It's Thursday!

Once again it's Thursday--did that week go by crazy fast for anyone else? We had record highs here last week, and freezing drizzle this week. Thank you Kansas. My 1 year old is now so confused, can I go outside or not?! Anyhow, with the cold weather this week I busted out my torch and worked some more in my super fun recycled/organic medium of choice, Aluminum!!!

Random facts, did you know aluminum is crazy lightweight? Of course you did, if you've ever picked up a soda can. That being said, did you know that aluminum never, I mean NEVER rusts? Really, how can you go wrong with this for jewelry? You can't. So, here's our runners for Week Three's Design Challenge....

Week 3 Option 1--Simple statement cuff. Because I know that not everyone wants to be clad in chunky jewelry, but sometimes a little fun can't hurt...

Week 3 Option 2--My Favorite Earrings. I was just complaining to my husband this week that I have lost one of each of my favorite pairs of earrings. I didn't plan it, but these did usurp both former faves...

Week 3 Option 3--Middle Ground Bracelet. In case you were turned off by the 7 links and the Simple Statement wasn't quite enough, this guy is for you.

Each piece in this collection starts out as a plain aluminum recycled sheet. They're hand worked down to the tiniest ding of a hammer, sometimes with flame to create unique reticulations that are truly one of a kind. Enjoy, vote, let me know what you think of this medium. Are you crazy about it? Or am I just crazy?!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ring By Spring

When I was in college the "Ring by Spring" motto was all too alive. And the closer we neared to graduation the more men seemed to be popping the question. And whether this phrase was coined for the women who were scared to leave college single for fear of never "settling down" or the men scared to leave college single for fear of having to do their own laundry...I'll never know. But I'm several years removed from college now and for those of you who might be ring-less or ring-bearing this spring, let me assure you, either way, there is plenty of life past your Sr year spring in college.

So why you are asking am I talking about Rings by Spring this far past college? Well I have 3 younger brothers and 2 of them popped the question this fall leaving this spring full of preparations for 2 summer weddings a mere 3 weeks apart. I'm super blessed to be helping with random details for both of these weddings and terribly excited to add some females to the family count. (Mom and I are currently out numbered 2 to 6). Yesterday I spent most of the afternoon with Kayla putting together her flowers and I remembered back to all the fun details I've done for other weddings and thought I'd share. And if you are a ring-by-spring girl I'd love to help you with your jewelry, bridesmaids gifts, hairpieces or veils. Weddings are my favorite because I get the opportunity to get to know the bride, design specialty pieces just for your day and perhaps most important, work within your budget! Email for questions, set up a design meeting, or see more photos.


These were the Carlson's Save the Date cards, Heidi brought them along to help see colors and styles they were in to. She wanted a delicate bauble necklace for each girl in the wedding colors. She also wanted copper chain.

These were so fun to make, each one slightly different. Baubles are my most popular bridesmaids jewelry, sometimes brides like to add little charms that tell about their friendship (ie, a basketball for a teammate, a high heel for a shopping buddy, etc). Side note, I miss that old tile...


Desi requested something simple and personalized. We decided together on a vintage crystal and a hand-stamped charm with their wedding date.

Because of their handmade nature, each piece came with a signed handwritten note explaining it's significance.

And of course, for such special orders, free gift wrapping is available. Because who really wants to worry about wrapping gifts before their wedding?


Yes, this is my wedding. Can't it be one of my favorites? And I'm sorry all the photos are black and white. But since those were also my wedding colors, you're not missing much...

My necklace is made from antique crystal remnants of jewelry from several of my "greats" (Grandmas, Aunts, etc).

I wish I had a better shot of my veil, but please ladies, don't buy veils from the wedding shops. They are highway robbery. Mine was a two-tiered ribbon trimmed fingertip. I also did this hairpiece. I still wear it because it's just so fun!

One of my BFFs opening her bridesmaid's gift.

And don't forget your sweet flower girls! Isn't Brenna beautiful? She and my other darling cousin wore these fun tie-on choker necklaces. The tie on style lets them choose the length making them comfortable for photo after photo after photo.... Not to mention they can also be worn as wrap bracelets.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Design Challenge

For those of you who do not have facebook, every Thursday I put up 3 new pieces of jewelry and have people vote on their favorites by commenting or "liking" the photo of the piece. It's helping me pick out what to do more (or less!) of and then I will periodically pick a winner from the votes and send them a piece of free jewelry that they have commented on, or something similar. So, that's the background, it's been 2 weeks running and I've gotten a lot of good response, so I thought I'd throw up the last two weeks worth of options over here and get your insight as well! Happy voting!

Week 1, Option 1--Custom Crystal-The centered crystal in this necklace was brought to me from a friend who has had it for a long time. It is the last remnant of a crystal bell saved in the aftermath of a tornado clean up at her Great Grandmother's house.

Here's the full view of the same necklace, it features the crystal center pieces with hand forged aluminum wire and linked crystal chain with a toggle clasp.

It's a fairly long necklace

Week 1, Option 2--Aluminum Bracelet--This is an aluminum process that has been in the works for the last year. A huge statement that has been described as "light as popcorn." As far as I can research, I am the only one doing this particular type of Aluminum work through a process I developed through lots of reading, seeking, and good old fashioned trial and error!

Here's a better shot of the colorizarion. I use recycled metals and organic compounds to create the oxygenized colors and patinas. Truly one of a kind.

I love wearing it. Lightweight with a heavy statement. Unbeatable!

Week 1, Piece #3--Riveted Necklace. The main piece is removable and interchangeable through the double toggle clasp. This first piece was done for my mother, but it's being considered for an entire series.

That wraps up Week 1...and the Winner was... The Crystal Necklace, Option 1!

Week 2 Option 1--Memory Bracelets, Prov 16:3 I love the idea of memorizing passages and quotes but feel a little weird as a grown up with Bic pen written up my arm while I work on my memory. This was a pretty alternative....

Memory Bracelet Close Up--"Commit your work to the Lord and your plans will be established" is stamped around the outside.

Week 2 Option 2--Stained Glass Recycled Ring

A Set of 2 pre-purchased by a client for her and her sister.

Don't you wish you had a sister who did cool things like that?! Buy you matching jewelry.

Week 2 Option 3--Vintage Button Ring in Sterling with texture and satin finish.

Vintage glass button, sterling silver, cool texture, satin finish, nasty band aid, nastier cut on the back of my thumb. My apologies, I'll be more careful next week!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Covering My Alls..

It's winter here in Kansas and if there's one thing Kansas knows how to do, it's Winter. Snow, ice, negative temperatures, high winds. The works. And I get through the winter with heated seats, pre-warmed cars and lots of brisk walking to and from one indoor building to the other. And lots of coffee. I'm obviously high maintenance, that's quite a list. Meanwhile ever outdoor working man has one thing that gets him through the winter--coveralls. My husband got a pair for Christmas. Here's my men looking at the snow--the big one's sporting his coveralls, the little one sporting his Grinch doll. Aren't they handsome?!

Have you ever seen coveralls? Like close up? They're incredible. They have more pockets and zippers and neatness than I can handle. Just look!

And suddenly my winter survival kit wasn't enough, I wanted them. I wanted them bad. So bad that my husband would catch me staring at them and repeatedly tell me that I can not have them. You see if I wanted to wear them out and shovel the walk he would have gladly obliged. But I wanted to chop them up. I wanted the pockets, and the zippers and the snaps... oh the wonderfulness!

So the hunt began...and apparently most men have a similar attachment to their coveralls because have you ever seen a pair at a thrift store? You may have never looked, but they're rare. So after 3 months of searching, I found them. They were perfect. A size 4XL--short. I could have worn them while being 9 months pregnant (and I was HUGE, seriously, 200lbs huge) with my 2 bffs and went sledding like Siamese triplets...come to think of it that would have been really fun. But now they're chopped...and they are my new tool bag!


I love the detail on this little zipper pocket. Love!

Look at all those pockets! 11 on the outside :D

And a built-in hammer holder!

Oh and here's my very favorite...

Wait for it...

A tool roll!

Finally, all my favorites in one place!