A Few of My Favorite Things

I have to admit that, when I organize my inventory, I am often enchanted with my own work. I guess that’s not a bad thing!

Here are some of my recently made items, but you know what?  I have not been able to get time to work with all the newly found beads I have – oh, how I wish the temps would cool down a bit, so I can feel inspired to work with them.

Ruby Red Czech Glass Bead Earrings Copper Accents

Deep Red Czech Glass Beads, accented with Antiqued Copper

Genie Lantern Earrings in Iridescent Blue

Genie Lantern Earrings in soft blue iridescent glass, accented in antiqued brass

Blush Pink Beaded Earrings with Antiqued Copper

Lovely peach pink Czech glass beads, with hand hammered earring pins and wires, antiqued copper




Purchasing to Repurpose

Earrings with Far East Design

One of my favorite pastimes is browsing through antique and vintage shops, whether online or on the street. Mostly, I justify my use of the time(which can be significant) with the idea that I am searching for vintage buttons that I can use for my collection of ponytail holders at Talisman Studios, but just as often I am enjoying the design and practicality of objects which once were part of someone’s home.

When I saw the necklace that I harvested the beads I created these earrings from, I couldn’t resist buying the piece, and I almost completely forgot to ask the obligatory question(“Do you think you could do better on the price?”), because I wanted to get that beauty home and dismantle it!

I am guessing the necklace was a souvenir purchase someone of my mother’s generation made while traveling in the Middle East or perhaps Asia, The necklace was fairly simple, and not likely to be desired in and of itself, at least at this time. Too clunky for current styles, I thought, as I considered the negative aspects of using the parts instead of keeping it whole. But the beads – so wonderful!

The barrel shaped focal beads are almost certainly Bakelite. Though I have not tested for authenticity, Bakelite is fairly easy to recognize.  It has a certain sumptuous look and a saturated denseness that is pretty unmistakable. However, I decided to leave the question open – I do not think the material matters quite so much, in this case. Bakelite or not – they are just lovely beads; a deep chocolate brown, almost black, color.

But the truly remarkable components are the brass bead caps.  Each one was cut individually. Looking closely, one can see the angled marks of the metal snip used to make them.  The design is inspired by a Lotus Flower motif, which is why I wonder if the necklace wasn’t originally sold in some local bazaar in one of the mountainous regions of the Himalaya. They are delicate, thin sheets of metal, and this makes then precious, in my opinion.

I opted to add a simple round ring to the top of the design, when I made these earrings, and am reminded of a lantern shape. I have enough beads to make a half dozen or so pair of earrings, but I would also like to use some in necklaces.

The earrings have some sort of appeal, as each and every time I wear the pair I am keeping for myself, someone has commented on their beauty. This just doesn’t usually happen to me. So I have to believe that somewhere along the line, these beads were handled by someone with a strong and positive energy.  I think it may have been the artisan who crafted the brass beads, and probably the original necklace.I can imagine a man, crouched into the squatting position of rest one sees of the tribal folks of the East, working on new creations as he spent his time selling to travelers passing through.  I see him as a kind man friendly, interested in his visitors, and accepting. I am grateful to have found the necklace, and am confident that man would smile in knowing the pieces will be finding new wearers ho will appreciate their beauty.

You can find the earrings, available for sale, in my Talisman Too shop.

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The Big Problem With Hillary Clinton


Disclaimer: This post has absolutely nothing to do with my creative endeavors Talisman Studio and Talisman Too.  However, I enjoy writing, and believe we live in, as the purported ancient Chinese curse goes, “interesting times.” Many of my friends and family supported Sanders during the primaries, and likely still do, but I feel it was of the utmost importance to choose a president who is capable of leading us through the delicate path the world is currently embarked upon.  Sanders was not that person, and Trump is such a blunderer I swear his intention is to destroy our political structure, and our country’s place in the greater society, in it’s entirety.

So forgive me for “going rogue” with a political post. For what it’s worth, it is as much about my personal viewpoint on gender equality as it is on the 2016 U.S.  presidential election.

Polls tell us that a large portion of the citizens of the United States have a problem with Hillary Clinton and that, as a presidential candidate, they hold reservations in casting a vote in her direction. Check in with any news source for even a short while, and you’ll be apprised of a smattering of reasons for this discomfort with our Democratic nominee.

Take a moment to think about what is actually behind those labels and, if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll probably come to the same realization that I have. The problem with Hillary Clinton is not that she is seen as untrustworthy, dishonest, or as Donald Trump loves to remind his listeners every time he drops reference to her, crooked. The REAL problem is that Hillary Clinton is a strong woman.

It is that simple.

How do I know? Because, as another old saying goes: It takes one to know one.

As a strong woman who recognizes strength in another woman, I clearly understand that Hillary Clinton gets the same reactions and responses that I have dealt with from the day I understood that it was not acceptable for a little girl to playact as a Cherokee Warrior, galloping her sawhorse pony across the grassy plains of her backyard without a shirt on.

It was a tearful moment for me when I came to that awareness, as I am completely certain it was for Mrs. Clinton the first time she stepped forward and bumped up against that unseen barrier that has kept women corralled the world over for centuries. Apparently, there were times long ago when women were not deemed the lesser gender, but for anyone alive today, that is indeed ancient history.

My revelation that “boys will be boys, but girls must be girls” grated pretty strongly on my sensibilities, even as a child of about four years old. I adored the stories of native women that I knew of, particularly Sacajawea, who anyone with a fairly decent intelligence quotient knows saved the day, day after day, for Lewis and Clark. She was a strong woman, but instead of being honored as an equal, if not leading, member of the expedition, history gives her only a supporting role, and that was the story I was told. But I did not see myself as a woman who happened to gently point out the upcoming right turn or left exit as I tended to the more important task of cooking dinner; I saw myself as the warrior, scouting for opportunity, and safeguarding my people.

I can think of a few other strong women that I was aware of as a child, such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Helen Keller, and Madame Curie, and they were viewed almost as anomalies. The unspoken part of the story was that “most” girls should consider themselves unlikely to make history, that we would almost all eventually play out our part, as women, and strive to marry, bear children, and keep our husbands and children content, in that order. Our Barbie dolls showed us what we should endeavor toward as we grew up, but left us to imagine how to prepare for the day when we married our “Ken” and took on the role of an adult woman.

Of course, a good number of us rejected the suggestion that we were fit only to be wives and mothers, or that if we must support ourselves, it should be respectable work for a spinster, such as that of a teacher or librarian. My own mother, in the late 1950’s, disappointed her parents by choosing to go to nursing school. They wondered, aloud, why she should bother, since she would be wasting the education. Against odds my mom persevered, and used her nursing degree, although she did delay work until her last, her eight, child was in school.

Some strong women find their voice only after trying for years to live within the constraints applied to them. This is often the case with a woman who finally speaks up against harassment in the working place years after that time has passed. When it is happening, we believe the veiled threats that our career depends on compliance. Often, the implication is the reality. At my first job in the fashion design field, the owner, and some of the male employees of the company, regularly “flirted” in sexual ways with the female employees, most of whom were hired fresh from college. I was groped in the stockroom, and even followed into the woman’s restroom on one occasion. One day I felt something on my leg, about calf height. Thinking it was a mouse, I quickly turned, only to see that it was a rat; the owner of the company was running his hand up the length of my leg, because “the pattern on my hose was so sexy.”

At that particular job, each and every young lady who applied for ads in sales was told the starting job was as “sales assistant” to the owner, and that they would also handle the front desk. In other words, they were to be the receptionist, and would sometimes make calls to buyers on behalf of their boss. They had no accounts of their own, and whenever a strong women demanded their promised promotion, they were given one-half of one percent commission on sales, when all men hired received one or two percent at starting sales positions. No man was ever told they need start at the front desk, either. Lest one think that was back in the early years of females in the workspace, it was not. I was employed there from 1988 to 1991.

Today I would stop a fellow employee at the first instance of sexual harassment, but as a young designer, I knew very well that any complaint would have me blacklisted in the industry. We all knew this. I’m sure that Hillary Clinton, too, saw and experienced harassment on some level in the early years of her career.

Yet, we persevered. We developed strategies to dodge abusive people, and continue on our professional progression. In doing so, we often found ourselves labeled, sometimes to our faces, and sometimes behind our backs:; labels like Ball Buster, Backstabber, and Bitch. When we attained powerful managerial positions, it was almost always assumed we had “slept our way to the top.” If it was clear that we were not the type to do so, people were sure we must be lesbians, as if this explained the fact that we had been able to discover some covert entry point into the men’s club – a corner office. It was never on our hard work and professional merits that we had been given that which was our due. Every decision we made was second-guessed by subordinates unqualified to analyze the situation, and every workplace guideline we put in place was resisted, simply because it chafed many to be “told by a woman.”

I am sure there are many young people for whom these tales seem implausible. What I say to you is this: Thank your lucky stars that you can’t imagine such things. Your lucky stars, and many strong women and strong, decent, men who fought, and continue to fight, for gender equality. Women like Hillary Clinton.

A woman does not gain a position of authority by demurring to those who see her as an inferior, nor does she get there by ignoring signs of resistance when she is perceived as a threat. Strong women brace themselves for the battle, recognize and protect themselves from their foes, and ally themselves strategically. Just. Like. Men.

Strong women instill fear in the insecure members of both genders, and out of base instincts, those people lash out with whatever weapon they can get their hands on; untruthful rumors, attempts at debasement with name-calling, and sabotage. No one, no woman, has been forced to endure these attacks like Hillary Clinton has over the years. She has fully earned her place as a presidential nominee; a good percentage of others, past and present, could never have withstood the pressures she has taken on.

Hillary Clinton is a strong woman, and that is what troubles so many people. She can’t be easily hoodwinked, her composure doesn’t lapse when weak-minded people douse her with ugly monikers, and she won’t succumb to pressure tactics. Add to that strength of character the fact that she has an exceptional grasp on the political, social and economical state of the world today and a brilliant mind capable of maneuvering delicately through diplomatic channels. Our president cannot be focused on the United States and it’s problems as if this nation is somehow insulated from every other country on the planet. While it is true that we have a great number of issues within the U.S. that desperately need attention, to ignore our strengths and vulnerabilities as they relate on the greater stage would be a magnificent, and terrible, blunder. That is why I am glad that Hillary Clinton is a strong woman, and that I believe her “big problem” is also her greatest asset. That is why I’m with her.

An Historic Small Business

Small Business Saturday Harkens Back to an Every Day Lifestyle for Many

Brinegar Cabin Blue Ridge Parkway

On Saturday, November 28th, American Express will sponsor it’s sixth annual Small Business Saturday. As an entrepreneur with several online ventures, I have been planning my strategy for the day and intend to include the promotion of many other small businesses as part of my campaign.

I grew up “small business.” My father owned an independent propane gas service company, which his father had sold to him when he married. Grandpa Marcoe, a small businessman himself, divided his holdings amongst his children when they wed. The heating oil portion went to the husband of his youngest daughter, and the bar/bowling alley called Van Dyne Lanes to the oldest daughter’s husband(yes, in days back, the daughter’s husband got set up, with the expectation he would manage her welfare wisely). He kept his gasoline dealership for himself.  It was not a gas station as we think of today – instead he delivered gasoline to other garages, gas stations and private individuals who had a gas pump at their farm or residence(as did my father, who had to lock it up tight once his children began getting old enough to drive!).

On my mother’s side, her father was a milk delivery driver, who began his career with a horse-drawn wagon. She loved to make the joke “My daddy was the milkman!”

As a youngster, I was already in the minority by having a father that worked for himself in a small business venture. By the 1970’s, factory jobs were the norm for most in my community and there were several prominent one, such as Giddings and Lewis, Tobin Tool and Die, Mercury Marine and Speedqueen. Amazingly, all these companies are still operating, but I do recall the winnowing years as they pared down to survive as the Great Wave of Importing began washing upon our shores. It was tough for my father as a sole proprietor, but at least he had some semblance of control over his operations.  The factory workers were at the mercy of middle managers and factors beyond their comprehension, much less their ability to manage.

Currently, I am traveling for the winter months, as I do each year when it gets too cold to live in my woodland cabin in upstate New York. I decided to drive down the east side of the Appalachian Mountains, and in particular go through Shenandoah National Park and go the length of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Yesterday, I stopped to visit an historic homestead along the route, the Brinegar Family Cabin. I couldn’t help but to compare my more modern way of living, despite the fact I do live in a log cabin(albeit made from a kit) without plumbing or electricity. Whereas they had fireplaces in both rooms of the house to heat during cold months, I use a portable propane heater to warm things up before heading to bed and when waking up.  But unlike the Brinegars, I abandon ship once the weather actually begins to turn cold!

The Brinegars built a root cellar and spring house to keep their perishable foods, and though I refuse to purchase ice for my cooler, I am able to make trips to town easily enough that I need only keep food for a few days. The Brinegars used an outhouse and bathed in the cold spring, and I – well, some things don’t change!

But the thing that touched me during my visit to the Brinegar Farm, was to find out that Mister Brinegar, along with farming his 125 acres, made shoes for neighbors and nearby townsfolk, as well as acted as a notary public.

Brinegar FamilyBrenigar Family InformationBrenigar Family Information

Even in a lifestyle where so very much was done on one’s own, there remained some things one wanted or needed money for. Shoemaking obviously helped Mister Brinegar to bring in those funds. In that respect, he operated a small business. It may not have been as formally organized as our small businesses of today, but no doubt he fulfilled the needs of those who sought him out and did his best to satisfy them – hallmarks of any small businessperson with a desire to succeed.

On the other hand, maybe he just found joy in making shoes! I can certainly understand that.  It’s why, after four years and with sales not yet reached $1000, I keep buying beads to work on things for my Talisman Too shop! Part of having a small business is the ability to keep blowing oxygen at the coals, hoping at some point for ignition. For me, that would mean that I could count on the business to sustain me economically.  Until then, I have other ventures, including working at the Mohonk Preserve half year, to keep me fed and clothed…and buying beads like these below, which I found at Strand Beads in Boone, NC.

Czech Glass Beads to be Made into Earrings and Bracelets for Talisman Too CollectionsHere’s one pair of earrings I put together with some of the beads yesterday.

Czech Glass Earrings in Nature Tones Boho StyleI know I ramble as I type, but am told that this sort of wandering is part of the charms of my writing. The thing I am trying to convey is that small business has been a part of our world’s culture long before the age of industrialization.  I wonder just when it was that the first small businesses came into being?

So – to wrap things up – here’s my wishes for a strong Small Business Saturday to entrepreneurs in the US this year. Do you have a small business?  Feel completely free to post a link in the comments, along with a promotional bit!


Doubling Up On Work

Tiny House Type Studio and Workspace

One Benefit of Having a Low End Day Job

Working towards a career; I’ve been there and done that. For more than a dozen years, I was a commercial handbag designer in New York City, working for several import companies throughout those years. The pay was great and I loved designing, but for anyone who wonders….the answer is “yes.”

Yes, the fashion world is an extremely stressful environment. There are serious deadlines that need to be managed, and most designers have to get their own lines done and deal with creative “input” from everyone else in the company, from the owner to the sales manager, to the just-last-week hired new salesperson to the receptionist. Everyone has an idea, everyone has an opinion….

I left the industry in 2001, a month after the horror of September 11th. Disclaimer: I was fired from the job, as I was fired from nearly every single job as a handbag designer that I had. Only once did I leave on my own accord, with another job waiting. That felt good, I’ll admit. But getting fired didn’t really feel that bad. I was good at what I did. Too good. I’d often get asked, after one season, to “help” another designer who was having difficulty in bringing a successful line to fruition. I hated that. H.A.T.E.D. it. Usually, the other person resented my being foisted upon them, and they accepted me with disdain, or tried to throw all the bad idea and non-fun work my way. They still got to be introduced as “our designer,” while I sat in back taking notes. They were the ones who went to Europe for shopping trips. I could get the same results with magazine research. I resented it and, like a stubborn donkey, I balked. Eventually it was clearly not working and I’d be let go, only to be hired almost immediately at the next place I interviewed.

So….I developed a bad taste for commercial fashion design.

My first personal business venture was making decorative arts in stained glass. I had an Arts & Crafts aesthetic, and really enjoyed working with color and shape. When the time came where my next step would have been to do trade shows, I stalled, unable to fund the expenses that came along with a several thousand dollar booth fee and fronting the costs on wholesale orders. I still wish that I will someday have a glass studio to play in again. I’d happily take up right where I left off, and now with the internet, I could avoid the entire wholesale aspect.

My hair accessories made from vintage buttons came on the heels of the glass work, and had a level of acceptance instantaneously. My very first client was the wonderful, indie-designer friendly boutique, Henri Bendel. Talisman Studios hair goods continues today and is well-loved.

My beaded work is fairly new, and I struggle with it. There is just so much competition, it is frustrating. It isn’t enough to make pretty little things; they have to be photographed with a professional-level quality, and all text related to any online presence must be optimized for search.

But I digress. My post was supposed to be about how grateful I am to have a day job that has a substantial amount of downtime, and a location that allows me a fair amount of privacy. I am paid (not a lot, mind you) to sit in a booth in a parking lot, at a trailhead on a nature preserve.

My duties are to greet visitors and check to see if they are members of the preserve. If not, I sell them day passes, and try to provide information on the benefits of becoming a member. I also provide information on trails and help them plan hikes that fit with their fitness level and available time. During busy times, it can be very busy, but even then, the starts and ends of the shift are often fairly quiet.

Our busy summer season has ended and autumn foliage enjoyment has just peaked. Weekdays have been extremely slow, allowing me hours and hours to work on my own projects. I’m even able to get quite a bit done between busy spurts on the weekends. The luxury of time!

The other day, for instance, I was able to cut and sew 2 dozen fleece liners for the chalkbags I sell under the ClimbAddict Designs label. There I was, sitting in a 4 by 8 foot ticket booth, running my sewing machine via solar power. Unfortunately, it had been a cloudy day, and the power keeps winnowing. But, I completed the task, with time to spare(enough time to begin this blog post, another thing I am able to do while “on the job.”).

I’ve photographed product for both my hair and jewelry in the booth, and hammered away at metal and practiced learning wireweaving techniques in my little “work studio.” Jewelry making while at work isn’t my favorite activity, though, because I do have a stream of visitors who need my attention, and the interruptions can sometimes come at an inopportune time.

One other way I have been able to “double up” on work, has been creative writing. I’m now about ninety percent complete on the first draft of a novel, tentatively entitled “The Little Girl.” The writing has been done almost exclusively in this little wooden booth, while I am being paid to do my day job.

Some of my coworkers also do crafts while on the job, but mostly they read books, magazines and newspapers. I am a voracious reader, but I would go insane if that was all I had available to fill my open “on the clock” time.

I’ve got just another 10 days left before I head off on my winter travels, and I must make the most of the time available here “in the booth.” Once I close that door for winter on November 10th, my studio becomes even tinier – the passenger seat of my van! And, unfortunately, with no company job to pay me for a pleasant and fun job with plenty of down time to work on my own projects.

Do you have an unusual workspace, or a day job that gives you time to work on outside projects? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section!

Hats Off (On!) to Autumn

Winter Hat, made from vintage sweaters

I adore a cute hat, and since I spend the majority of my time in an outdoors environment, these first cool, post summer season days have me thinking about my wardrobe of chapeaus. The picture above is my tried and true standby. It’s made from recycled sweaters, by Face II Face London, and I paid good money($70) for it when I bought it at Barneys in about 1998. (I’ve tried to locate a web source for the designer of this hat and been unable – If anyone has a link, please contact me and I’ll update!)

Actually, my friend, Rita bought this particular hat. I had purchased another coloration, in creams and gray tones, from the same designer, and Rita so adored my cap that she immediately insisted we go find one for her. She chose this one, and we were an awesome pair when we sauntered the streets of Manhattan in these wonderfully original creations. Rita died a few years later, from Lung Cancer, and her partner asked me to help clean out her closets. He kept suggesting I take an item; that Rita would have wanted her clothing to go to friends, but Rita was size 4 or 6, and I am…not. When I saw the blue sweater hat nestled with a pile of her winter accessories I knew I could honor our friendship by donning that cap.

So, most of the time, that is the hat I wear in winter, but I still really love hats! And so I find myself thinking about a purchase…..

Here’s another one, which I bought last year at a local craft show. This piece was made by Karen Lloyd of Knit in Color.  It was just so damned cute that when I saw it, I had to take it home! It has a tassel on the back as well as the two at the sides, and the texture of the yarn is fantastic. She has similar ones in other colors in her shop, and…I know this post is about hats, but Karen also makes doggy sweaters(and my Lucas loves the one she made custom for him!)..


Another hat I wear, this one from Knit In Color

One of my favorite places to window shop are at the digital boutiques of my fellow Etsy sellers. I’d like to share a few of the finds I have come across in my search.

This, from Wildthyme, is wild! The creator makes each hat with no pattern

Freeform Tam by Wildthyme

Freeform Tam in Hues of Blue

I love the colors in this one, from Dog Mountain Knits. The textured yarn is so pretty.

Handspun Yarn Beehive Knit Hat

Handspun Yarn Beehive Knit Hat

This one, from The Mast Hatter, reminds me a bit of a French beret!


Burgundy berry hat by The Mast Hatter

Burgundy Berry Hat

Here’s one that is also made from recycled sweater pieces, from Enchanted Ground.

Blueberry Muffin Elf Hat

“Blueberry Muffin Elf Hat” by Enchanted Ground

Etsy vs Amazon in the Battle of the Handmade Market

Why I’m Sticking with Etsy, the Reigning Champion

There’s not an online seller of indie craft who isn’t intrigued by the announcement that Amazon.com will be entering the market for handmade items, particular those that frequent the forums at Etsy, who’ve been discussing the lurking competitor daily.

For the most part, sellers are excited at the prospect; many feel Etsy betrayed them when the company relaxed it’s definition of handmade to include factory made products. Like myself, they are distraught, if not disgusted, at having to now compete head to head with factory-produced items which always undercut on price and can often be found at malls and street fairs across the country. Personally, I don’t think the person who chooses a brightly colored plastic bubble necklace

Selection from Etsy Search on "Bubble Necklaces"

Selection from Etsy Search on “Bubble Necklaces”

is the same customer who would want one of my beaded pieces

A necklace from the Talisman Too Collection

A necklace from the Talisman Too Collection

but I can see how this affects many others. My beaded jewelry shop would probably suffer more at the hands of these imported goods if my goods could be found in searches, but I am not fooling myself to believe that even the massive influx of these cheap goods is the reason my items don’t rank highly. There are thousands of “blue beaded earrings” on the venue, and a large percentage of them are genuinely designed and constructed in the minds and by the hands of people in their home studios, just like me.

Nonetheless, I’m under no delusion that a move to Amazon will solve my dilemma. In fact, I may be helped by the behemoth, once the disgruntled and starry-eyed Etsyians make their move to the newly launched platform.

A small seller like myself simply won’t be able to jump through the hoops that will be required at Amazon, once they have populated their community with hopeful selling residents. Right now, the vague outlines of their program seem almost comforting to the casual observer. Sellers must have less than twenty employees or be part of a collective with under one hundred members, but many people don’t seem to realize that China abounds with factories employing numbers that are well within the “collective” range, particularly when the products being produced rely on hand work, such as intricately embroidered or crocheted goods.

Amazon promises handmade sellers a respite on fees that can bite deeply into one’s overhead, but I wonder if most sellers aren’t employing their reading comprehension skills. Specifically, the lowered fee structure is only temporary, and this has been stated outright. Suggestions of a more “small-seller friendly” fee structure have been hinted at, but certainly not promised, an important distinction. The statement’s been nicely framed, lulling the gullible into believing that this beastly creature(the definition of an amazon, after all) will nurture their growth like a kind motherly type, saving them from  the cruel feudal hardships they feel they’ve suffered under the reign of Etsy.

The issue, as I see it, is that once a person puts the amount of time needed to build out their shop, develop linkbacks and all the other efforts that go into online selling, they will be heavily invested in the venue, and the idea that they might have to abandon the project will certainly bring on feelings nausea. They will hold on, struggling to work harder, and many will fail, while hungry-for-revenue Amazon swallows and burps. I’ve experienced something like this with my ClimbAddict shop, part of which is housed on the print-on-demand venue CafePress, where the Terms of Use I accepted upon arrival in 2006 have been changed nearly as frequently as one changes their bedsheets. I won’t go into those details, but suffice it to say that many, many sellers who once cheered and supported the company now write venomously about the cut-throat tactics they’ve endured. Why will Amazon, with it’s voracious appetite, behave differently?

I like the idea for Handmade at Amazon, but I believe they are counting on naive entrepreneurs to flock en mass to the cozy nest they have created, partly out of some vindictive desire to claw at Etsy’s foundation. Perhaps it is because some of the factories and importers which have been part of Amazon’s selling base found it lucrative to move to Etsy during the relaxed-guidelines transition?. When the harsh winds of reality blow the loose straws away from the nest, I feel many a former Etsyian will have been devoured and excreted like a compressed owl pellets

September 2015 New In Shop for Talisman Studios

I went on a bit of a buying binge recently.  The stars were aligned and gorgeous antique buttons seemed to show up wherever I looked, from my cache of “buttons in waiting”(pieces I have not gotten around to stringing and photographing) to online shopping venues and a pure “Wow!” moment at a local antiques store.

Here are a few of the new designs, but it’s only a selection! Pop over to Talisman Studios to see everything available.  Hopefully you’ll find just the right ponytail holder to wrap up your hair when you do.

Vintage Black Bakelite Buttons

Gorgeous Chunky Black Bakelite Buttons with Scalloped Edges

Metal Ponytail Holder Tulips Vintage Button Jewelry

Shaped Metal Button from the 1940’s, now an elastic band for your ponytail! Hand-Crafted with Quality Work.

Gunmetal Glass Vintage Button Ponytail Holder

Gunmetal Gray Vintage Glass Czech Buttons, Paired as a Ponytail Wrap

When My Etsy and Real Life Universes Collide

The Colliding Spiral Galaxies of Arp 274

These are galaxies, and not universes, but you get the idea, right? Photo Credit: “The Colliding Spiral Galaxies of Arp 274” from NASA.gov

People often see their online life as an insular experience. They usually don’t know the people whose comments they read in discussion forums, and they don’t expect to ever meet the bloggers behind the stories that appear on their social media feeds. When by chance they find themselves face to face, in real life, with someone they share a common online denominator with, the experience can be accompanied by unexpected feelings. Usually it’s one of pleasant surprise, but on occasion embarrassment, and even shame(if the participants had engaged in acerbic debate online). Almost always there is at least a small element of having made contact with a sentient being from somewhere beyond our world, as if we were a crew member on the starship Enterprise having an interaction with a holographic version of someone via the teleport.

As a rock climber, I have contacted, or been contacted by, other climbers seeking a partner for a day on the rocks. In fact, over the years I have met hundreds of people that way. One climbing friend I have made, Sonya with StoneMetal Designs, also happens to have a shop on Etsy. but I knew her before she opened her shop. So, that’s not the same as when one is going about their day and serendipitously finds themselves talking with someone with whom they tangentially inhabit an online community.

This happened to me recently, while I was talking with a visitor at my place of work(no, not my studio where I work on my jewelry – that would be pretty strange, since I don’t have a studio, and do most of the work in the passenger seat of my van!). Somewhere in the conversation, entrepreneurship came up, and I mentioned that I make beaded jewelry. The visitor, Amy from Amy Kohn Designs, exclaimed “Me too! Do you sell on Etsy?”

Viking Knit Bracelet Amy Kohn Designs

Bracelet by Amy Kohn, with Tutorial to make available – just click the image for information!

Of course we went on for several minutes, discussing the commonalities of doing beadwork and selling via the Etsy platform. Once Amy and her friend were on their way, I shook my head at the sense on incredulity I felt at crossing paths with a woman who happened to be visiting with a friend while on vacation from her home Israel and making the “Etsy Connection.”

Rainbow Beaded Ankle Bracelet

Rainbow Beaded Bracelet, from Shimmer Shimmer

It’s almost a no-brainer to assume that people working in bead shops might also sell on Etsy, but the energy one receives at making the connection is still unique. While I was in Flastaff, Arizona, a few years ago, I walked into a local bead shop and met Carrie Ann from “Shimmer Shimmer” and Sarah from “Patience Sister.” We had fun sharing stories of how our work has evolved, what inspires us, and how we market our wares on Etsy.

Robins Egg Blue Earrings

This pair of earrings was purchased from another Etsy seller who I met while visiting the bead shop she worked in.

At another bead store, this one in Colorado Springs, I met the very cool June Indigo from “Rainbow Unicorn.” June was so kind – she asked me to bring in my samples to look at, and not only did she make a purchase, right there in the shop, but so did one another store visitor who just happened to come in while I had my earrings laid out on display! The purchased put nearly a full tank of gas in my gas-drinking van, which was quite helpful on the 3,000 mile cross country trek.I am sure that most folks who sell their handmade goods through online selling platforms share similar stories. Please comment and tell about yours!



Vintage Carved Mother of Pearl Button Ponytail Holders

Oriental Fan Pearl Button Ponytail Holder

Detailed Dye Cut Shape and Carving on MOP button circa 1940’s

In my love for antiques, there are sections and subsections. When I discovered the artistry behind vintage sewing buttons, they quickly became a prominent category in my list of “Antiques I Adore.” Discovering the history and techniques used to create the miniature pieces of art was enthralling; learning about the transition from made by hand to that of using modern(for the late 19th century era in which this occurred) machinery to create the buttons provided me with a feeling of both sadness and awed wonder.

I mourned, for the button-maker, their loss of the exclusive use of non-electric hand tools to make the bone and shell buttons which had been the staple of American button industry since it’s inception. But the use of technology allowed for much more than enormous leaps in productivity. Makers of buttons used the new tools (electric motors powering drills, files and other forming machines) to elevate their artistry to a higher level.

Because shell was one of the most widely used button materials at the time, the switch from “made by hand” to “made by hand with machined support” is most easy to see. Before power tools were in use, a button maker made each decorative mark on a button by use of a hand tool, usually a metal file. As can be imagined, the range of embellishments which could be accomplished was fairly limited. Below are a few examples of the type of work a button-maker could produce with such hand-powered tools.

Vintage Pearl Button Earrings

Vintage Mother of Pearl Buttons, Restyled as Earrings. Note the simplicity of etched design, which was created using hand-powered tools.

Antique Mother of Pearl Button as Ponytail Holder

Notice the variation in markings – depth and shape. This work was all done by hand.

Once machine power came into play, workers could create more embellished pieces in a shorter amount of time than they had previously spent with a more simple design.

Creamy White Antique Mother of Pearl Button

Notice the greater amount af cutwork details which were made in this piece. With the use of machine-power, button artisans were able to dedicate more time to embellishment.

Dye-cut machinery later allowed for decorative shapes to be reproduced quickly, and buttons could take on fanciful shapes. Once the basic design had been cut from the shell, an artisan could use engraving and drilling tools to carve away details, adding more dimension to the designs, as seen in the Asian Fan piece at top and also here:

Dye-Cutting machinery allowed for the creation if intricate shaping as shown on the perimeter of this Hibiscus Flower button from the 1940's

Dye-Cutting machinery allowed for the creation if intricate shaping as shown on the perimeter of this Hibiscus Flower button from the 1940’s

My appreciation for this evolution has made Mother of Pearl and other shell buttons one of those subsections within my Adored Antiques classifications, and I hope that you, too, will come to love the beautiful work button artists from the mid 19th to mid 20th centuries have created. It brings me great pleasure to come across such examples in my never-ending quest for antique buttons. That I have been able to restyle them as ponytail holders, in a way which does not damage the button’s integrity, makes me happy. Buttons which may have stayed cached away in boxes and bins are able to again find purpose – to adorn and pique the interest of admirers – as they were originally intended to do.