Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Jack Handey Quote of the Week

"The old pool shooter had won many a game in his life. But now it was time to hang up the cue. When he did, all the other cues came crashing to the floor. "Sorry," he said with a smile."

Make and Tell Challenge, Day 120

It's finished! Don't you just love how those colors came alive?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Make and Tell Challenge, Day 119

I'm baby-stepping this one, having completed the second coat on only the nursing paraphernalia and not the background. But tomorrow's another day (or night, in my case).

Featured Artist: Lori Citsay of Lori Citsay Jewelry

This week’s featured artist is EtsyNJ member Lori Citsay of Lori Citsay Jewelry. Lori is an accomplished jewelry maker and metal smith specializing in “handmade sterling silver jewelry that’s personal” (catch a glimpse here!). Necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and rings abound in Lori’s shop, each one delightfully distinctive. So, if you’re in need of a gift for a jewelry lover or are in the market for something for yourself, then stop on by!

1. The Tote Trove (TTT): How did you become interested in making jewelry? Did you learn your craft from someone, or are you more self-taught?

Lori Citsay (LC): After I retired from 25 years of teaching elementary school, I dabbled in a few things to keep me busy --refinishing furniture a la ”shabby chic” and hand painting furniture a la “Mackenzie-Childs.” I even built some children’s table and chair sets that I then hand painted. I sold them in a co-op space, but it was frustrating to overhear potential customers say they really liked the pieces but had no room for them, or that the vibrant designs didn’t go with their decor. Then about four years ago, I started volunteering in a local art gallery, arranging the pieces in the gift shop. They had lots of beaded jewelry in their cases that I found quite beautiful. I thought, “How hard could it be?” So, my power tools and pile of lumber joined my sewing machine, knitting needles, and paints gathering dust in my basement. I began beading with a vengeance! It was a natural progression for me to move on to sawing, forging, and soldering -- I’m a “tool freak” at heart. That having been said, I’m mostly a self-taught jewelry artist. Like every other craft that I’ve been drawn to, I felt like, “I can do that.” Unfortunately, with every craft I’ve abandoned, it was obvious that I couldn’t really master it all on my own. So, a couple of summers ago I took a ten-week Metals 101 class at the Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia. Those ten classes were invaluable. I’d planned to take the next course, but when the economy took a dramatic downturn it was no longer in my budget. Since then I’ve gone back to what I always do -- search out information in books, magazines, and online. One great source for me has been a series of videos on You Tube by Argentinean metal smith Luis F. Moreno. None of the videos include speaking; all instructions are visual, which is universal. Although some of Moreno’s techniques are a bit unorthodox, I think they've taken my craft to the next level.

2. TTT: How did you decide to turn your passion for making jewelry into a business?

LC: There’s only so much jewelry I can make for myself or give away. The raw materials are expensive, so to continue doing this thing that I love, I had to find a way for it to at least pay for itself.

3. TTT: Your Etsy shop features lovely metal jewelry, including your Beach Beans collection. What aspect of metal work intrigues you? What was your inspiration for the Beach Beans collection?

LC: Right now I’m intrigued with stone setting. Whether it’s a gemstone or a beach stone, I love the contrast of metal with the color, texture, and shape of stones. I was inspired to begin my Beach Beans collection when my husband and I spent a couple of days in Cape May. We were walking on the beach, and a woman was collecting stones. She showed me which ones, when tumbled for a very long time, would become clear like the Cape May “diamonds.” Since I already had a tumbler at home, I thought I’d try tumbling the more colorful stones, which I preferred.

4. TTT: What is your favorite item in your shop?

LC: At the moment it’s the newer Beach Bean pieces that are highly oxidized and have semiprecious gemstones worked into the design. I looked at the Fall/Winter Fashion Color Forecast from Patone for the color combinations.

5. TTT: What items, if any, would you like to add to your shop?

LC: More earrings. I don’t know why I’ve ignored earrings for so long. I’m currently making little post styles that are hand stamped and compliment my “Initial Impressions” line.

6. TTT: Describe your creative process. Do you follow a routine, create when inspiration strikes, or a little bit of both?

LC: I wish I followed a routine! Unfortunately, I have ADD and do things as they hit me.

7. TTT: Who is most (emotionally) supportive of your business?

LC: My husband is my greatest champion. He has supported me 100% in everything I‘ve ever undertaken. There's a downside to that, though. He’s not at all objective; he thinks every piece I create is gorgeous! My two daughters, on the other hand, give me their honest opinions and are a source of valuable feedback. My older daughter is a graphic designer and has created my banner, avatar, business cards, etc. My younger daughter is a fashion marketing student at the Art Institute of Philadelphia. She hasn’t helped me with marketing yet, but she has a strong sense of style, and I trust her judgment in that area.

8. TTT: Are there any new artistic/creative skills you’d like to learn?

LC: I would love to take more jewelry courses to learn about gems and stone setting.

9. TTT: Tell us about life outside of Lori Citsay Jewelry. Do you have a job in addition to your business? Hobbies? Family? Pets?

LC: As I mentioned, I’m retired and no longer have a job outside of making my jewelry. My family is the center of everything for me. I love to spend time with them. There are so many things that interest me -- cooking, decorating, sewing, travel, politics, and all different areas of art. I wish I had the time to pursue each in depth.

10. TTT: What are your hopes for Lori Citsay Jewelry in the future?

LC: I donate a portion of all my sales to our local Catholic school for their tuition relief fund. I would love to sell enough jewelry for my donations to really make a positive impact there.

11. TTT: BONUS QUESTION. Just for fun, if you were stranded on a deserted island and had to eat the same thing every day, what would it be? You can pick a drink and a dessert, too. (I find that dreaming up a whole meal makes this game more entertaining!)

LC: An ice cream sundae (vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup, coconut, whipped cream, and chocolate jimmies) with a vanilla milkshake on the side and some gelato for dessert. Ice cream is my favorite food group ;)

Thanks for visiting with us and learning about Lori and Lori Citsay Jewelry! For more Beach Beans and other precious metals, find Lori Citsay Jewelry on 1000 Markets and Twitter.

Monday, December 28, 2009

We Bid Adieu . . . To My Shoes

It's always a sad thing when I have to toss a pair of shoes. I had an especially hard time getting rid of this pair. The basic black made them my go-to pumps that went with everything, but the white piping and bows made them more special than the usual dependable pair. I got tons of compliments on them, even in the supermarket, and they were high enough to wear with my skinny jeans. But a few weeks ago I took them off after work -- it was a Friday -- only to discover that the heels were so worn that the metal was showing through. I've never worn out a pair of shoes so badly. I wore them for more than a year and paid only $16.99 for them at Marshalls, so I suppose that it was time. Still, it was with regret that I retired them to the garbage.

Of course, there was an upside. Without my black pumps I was in need of a new pair. So the search began. I didn't want something too plain, and I didn't want to spend too much money. So, I hunted in Marshalls and JCPenney. But it wasn't until my trip to Kohl's today that I found them: black Candie's faux snakeskin round-toed pumps encrusted with studs and beads at the toe. Tough but glam, they would serve as a stunning wardrobe staple, punching up work outfits and adding edge to street wear. They were on sale for $33 -- not a steal exactly, but not bad for shoes I actually needed.

I look forward to breaking them in.

Make and Tell Challenge, Day 118

I added this green background to the tote I'm making for the bf's sister because it reminds me of scrubs. Plus, it's a nice contrast for the red and white.

I think it would be fun to make a whole line of occupation-themed totes. Like, for a hairdresser I could do a big collage-like design featuring a hairdryer, curlers, brushes, combs, and one of those mirrors outlined by fancy light bulbs. For a chef I could paint a smorgasbord of food, including items both familiar and exotic, and a smattering of utensils and appliances. Or, for a science teacher I could paint an amoeba, a half-full beaker, a brain, a few bubbling test tubes, and maybe even a skull. (Okay, so maybe there wouldn't be a big demand for that last one. But it looks so cool in my head.) We'll see.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Make and Tell Challenge, Day 117: Another Gift Tote, Bold Bracelets, and a Few Flicks

Today I finally got around to beginning the bf's sister's tote. She's a nurse, and the bf thought it would be good to run with that. Next I finished decoupaging yesterday's bangle, then started another. I went over the first bangle with an overall coat of Mod Podge (that's in addition to the layer I applied to each candy wrapper) but still think the whole thing can stand another type of sealer. Maybe Elmer's glue. While working I watched bits of National Lampoon's Vegas Vacation and The Ex. Vegas is always a little unsettling -- yet still strangely entertaining. As for The Ex, I wish I could have seen it in its entirety, because it seemed interesting. Jason Bateman always plays such a weirdo. Speaking of which, the bf and I went to see Up in the Air tonight. I was a little disappointed. Not because it was bad, exactly, but maybe because there was so much hype. It wasn't the absence of plot that bothered me -- I like indie flicks and novels that center on character -- there just seemed to be something missing. There was a character that reminded me of myself, though. It was George Clooney's character's trainee, this young, uptight, overachieving girl who seems cold but is really this emotional mess of a person always trying to get everything right. I hated that she reminded me of me, but on the way out the bf mentioned it before I did, so it must be true. So much for my illusions of being a free-wheeling artist.

I Guess it was Tasty . . .

. . . because we ate most of it! Christmas morning my mom made this baked egg casserole with three eggs (I've made it also for the bf; it's most decadent). I brought over my baked pineapple casserole. The bf and I were supposed to eat it for dessert with vanilla ice cream on Christmas Eve but were too stuffed from our too-large dinner. I apologize for taking the pictures after we dug in, but Christmas morning being what it is, it couldn't be avoided. Anyway, here are the recipes if you're interested. I think both of them came from one of the Hammonton Kessler Hospital cookbooks (Cooking on Call maybe? Not sure.)

Baked Eggs With Three Cheeses


7 eggs
1 cup milk
2 tsp sugar
1 lb shredded cheddar
4 oz cream cheese (cubed)
1 lb small curd cottage cheese
2/3 cup butter (melted)
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder


Beat eggs, milk, and sugar. Add cheeses and melted butter and mix. Add flour and baking powder and pour into greased 9" x 9" Pyrex pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes.

Baked Pineapple


1 large can crushed pineapple
1 cup sugar
2 tbs cornstarch
2 beaten eggs
3 slices bread torn into very small pieces
cinnamon (to taste - I use McCormick's cinnamon and sugar mix)
butter (to taste)


Mix crushed pineapple with sugar and cornstarch. Beat eggs and add to pineapple mixture. Mix in bread pieces. Place in greased 9" x 9" Pyrex dish. Sprinkle with cinnamon, dot with butter, and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until set.

Nothing Says Merry Christmas Like An Ugly Sweater (er, Tee Shirt)

My sister and her bf hosted an ugly Christmas sweater party last weekend, but we couldn't go due to the snow. So, the bf decided to wear his ugly sweater, or rather ugly tee shirt, to my parents' house for Christmas dinner instead. Every time I looked at him that day I laughed; I mean, it's a faux sweater vest! The "stitching" is what makes it.

I too bought an ugly sweater tee shirt. But is was a men's XL! (That was all Target had left by the time I got around to it.) It was a baby blue faux cardigan emblazoned with snowmen over a dress shirt and tie. Although I was prepared to wear it to the party (belted, over leggings), I didn't want to wear it Christmas day. We gave it to the bf's dad as a joke.

P. S. If you look closely, then you'll see that I'm wearing one of my Christmas eraser necklaces. :)

Book Report: (Some More Words about) How I Became A Famous Novelist by Steve Hely

Some time ago I posted that I was reading How I Became a Famous Novelist, by Steve Hely. I finished it yesterday. To recap, the book is about a twenty-something kid, Pete Tarslow, who writes college entrance essays for a living. He finds out that his college girlfriend, Polly, a. k. a. "the one who got away," is getting married and is so heartbroken that he decides to write a best-selling novel to upstage her at her own wedding. Shortly after hatching this plan he's laid off from his job and starts working on the book in earnest. But he doesn't want to tell a good story. He wants to make money. And possibly become a professor so he can get paid to do nothing and date students. So, he writes a list of rules for ensuring this happens. Here are a few of them: "Rule 2: Write a popular book. Do not waste energy making it a good book" (Hely 46), "Rule 3: Include nothing from my own life" (Hely 49), "Rule 9: At dull points include descriptions of delicious meals" (Hely 53), "Rule 10: Main character is miraculously liberated from a lousy job" (Hely 53), and "Rule 12: Give readers versions of themselves, infused with extra awesomeness" (Hely 54). As a writer, I thought this was nuts. I usually just get an idea and start scribbling. But then again, (as with my art), I rarely stop to worry about whether people will like it or not. Which may be my problem. I was reading all of this, thinking Pete Tarslow was a deplorable idiot. Then I read the outline for his proposed novel, The Tornado Ashes Club:

"After a murder at the Las Vegas hotel where he works, Silas Quilter is accused of a crime he didn't commit and is forced to turn to the only person he has left - his grandmother. She makes him a bargain - she'll help him stay ahead of the law if he'll help her on a mysterious mission to bring a soul to the afterlife. Together they embark on a quest along America's highways, drawn along the way by the haunting sounds of a beautiful country singer. As they dodge bounty hunters, we hear the tale that brought them together, a story of lost love that begins in the hobo camps of the Depression and on mud-stained college football fields, crisscrossing through the fury of World War II France to the islands of the Mediterranean and the kitchens and vineyards of Peru, a saga who heartbreaking but uplifting end can only come in the swirl of a tornado, sweeping across the milkweed and the bluestem of the prairie on a Christmas morning.

A stunning literary debut, told with lyrical prose, gentle humor, and an artist's eye, The Tornado Ashes Club is a novel for anyone who's had love or lost it, learned a wise lesson or a dark secret, or felt the magic of the story that is America."

After reading this, I didn't know what to think. It sounded exactly like the back cover of a book I'd pick up and then immediately buy. Words like "saga," "haunting," "heartbreaking," and "sweeping," would scream sensitive literary book at me, sucking me in. I would think that the book was special and noncommercial, the work of a serious artist instead of a top-selling bodice ripper or mystery by armies of ghost writers. Not that I didn't enjoy reading stuff like that sometimes. But I never expected as much from it. I couldn't help but wonder if this meant that every "good" book I read was really a piece of junk cobbled together by a charlatan trying to make money. Or that books weren't "the only place anyone could really be honest" (see my previous post tagged How I Became a Famous Novelist for more on this) after all, but just another product crafted to lure consumers. Or maybe it just meant that I was gullible and writers like Pete Tarslow knew exactly what they were doing.

I read on as Pete and his book became noticed, praised, ignored, defamed, debated, and so forth. Pete does not become immediately or hugely famous as the book's title would suggest. What really puts him on the map is a TV interview in which he admits that his book is a fraud and cites one of America's best-loved novelists as an even bigger fraud. After that, blogs explode with commentary over whether Pete's scum or some sort of genius or maybe just a guy manipulated by the system. Finally, he's invited to be on a panel with the writer he ripped apart. The whole thing is a train wreck, with the audience siding with the other guy. It seems like it's over for Pete. But then an unconventional lit professor who teaches only "popular" books seeks him out and persuades him to write a memoir capitalizing on his notoriety, which he does with spectacular results. He ends up making tons of money.

So it seems like he gets what he wanted. And that there really is a method, a trick, to writing stuff that sells and that that's what writers should do. I would've finished it thinking just that if it weren't for this closing sentence describing Pete's reaction after reading a critically acclaimed but unpopular novel:

"I can't even describe it right. And I won't bother excerpting it here. Go find it. I wish I'd written something that good" (Hely 322).

The entire book is turned on its head. It seemed to push the commercial envelope, to laugh at people who were trying to write something real. Yet all along it was using Pete as a kind of symbol. You're not supposed to root for him. You're supposed to feel sorry for him and read his exploits as a cautionary tale. This was a comfort to me, the lover of truth and books. Even so, a few things continued to niggle.

Like, even though Pete was a jerk, his antics put him on the map. So, if he wanted to change his ways and write and publish a "good" book, he'd have the connections to do so. In a weird way I admired Pete for at least wanting to do something. Sure, he was dishonest and went about writing ass-backwards. But at least he wasn't just sitting on a couch watching his life pass him by. That's the kind of guy he was when he was dating Polly. His lack of motivation, in fact, was the reason she left him. But her getting married catapulted him into action, however misled. It changed his life. If he hadn't written an awful book, then maybe he would never have discovered that he wanted to write a good one.

Or maybe I'm being a sap again and giving this guy way too much credit. Either way, it's something to think about.

Make and Tell Challenge, Day 116: Dallying with Decoupage

With the Christmas rush mostly behind me, I was antsy to begin decorating the bangle bracelets I'd recently bought at A. C. Moore. This thick bangle was perfect for a decoupage experiment, so I delved into my ever-growing box of candy wrappers and uncapped the Mod Podge. I covered most of the bangle and hope to patch up the last few bits tomorrow. Then I'll add another layer -- or perhaps two -- of the Mod Podge for maximum durability and a nice glossy finish. So far, I'm loving the bangle's colorful and graphicy pop culture appeal and can see myself piling a row of them on my arm.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Make and Tell Challenge, Day 114: Merry Christmas Eve!

I had high hopes when it came to completing my gift projects. As with most such hopes, I didn't meet them but came close - and am satisfied to even have accomplished that much. So, today's make. I painted these two tiny totes for gift cards I got for my grandmom (they're part of the gift basket of Italian cooking goodness I referred to at some point during this mad and hazy week.). They're bright, they're crisp, they're festive. And they look great in the basket. So, I was happy.

In other breaking news, I won't be seeing the bf's sister until New Year's, so I'll have ample time to paint her a large tote, as planned.

Crafting aside, it's been a lovely Christmas Eve. I wrapped the last of my gifts while watching Christmas reruns of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Home Improvement, did some much-needed house cleaning, and painted my nails (toenails, too!) for the first time in I can't remember how long. Then the bf came home from work and we enjoyed a decadent dinner of grilled steak with mushrooms, asparagus, buttered penne, and shrimp and scallops sautéed in butter and Old Bay. After that we went to church with the bf's mom and grandparents. They had a beautiful candlelight vigil. But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous about dropping my candle on my fake fur coat and setting the whole place ablaze. Apparently my fears were transparent, because on the way out the bf asked if I could've gripped my candle any harder.

Oh, the holidays. I hope yours are entertaining so far.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Featured Artist Series Takes a Holiday -- Literally

I've decided to postpone this week's featured artist interview until next Tuesday, owing to the holiday time crunch. Because if I'm running out of time, wrapping (and making!) presents and whatnot, then I know my readers are probably in the same boat! So, be sure to drop by next Tuesday to read all about Lori City Jewelry. Merry Christmas!

Make and Tell Challenge, Day 112: A Tote With Tunes

I finally finished the bf's mom's tote. Big sigh. Now, if only I could start and finish his sister's . . .

I braved the snow drifts of the A.C. Moore parking lot at lunch today to pick up a picture frame for a print I bought for the bf (from an EtsyNJian!) and some cellophane for my grandmother's gift basket of Italian goodness (if you're wondering what that is, it's a heaping helping of pasta, canned tomatoes, olive oil, and other such staples of grandmotherly Italian cooking.). Anyway, while I was in the store I stumbled upon a bin of bargain bangles (say that five times fast). Naturally I snatched up a ton of them -- some will be rhinestoned and others will be incorporated into pendant necklaces (intriguing, no?). All will soon be available in my Etsy shop -- I can hardly wait to get started!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Make and Tell Challenge, Day 110: What I've Been Up To

Christmas is a hectic time. So hectic, in fact, that I didn't even put up my decorations this year. But I don't mind; in a way, it's strangely freeing not to have to worry about all of that. Anyway, I've been busily making gifts this weekend, and the good news is I can show you because none of the recipients read this blog.

First we have this fierce flowers tote, mimicking the style of those that I have on sale in my Etsy shop. It's for my mom, who told me she wanted one of my bigger bags with the flowers and leopard.

Next we have two extra long pendant necklaces for my grandmother. I made this red and black number by buying four strands of these linked red beds, linking them together, and attaching the toggle clasp and black medallion pendant with wire, which I wrapped. It was fairly easy, and I think the effect is more professional than most of the necklaces I've made so far. So, I may make some to sell. The only thing is, the materials are kind of expensive, so I'd have to charge about $30 per necklace. It occurred to me that I've avoided using pricier materials in my necklaces to keep prices low. But there are probably people out there who would be willing to pay more, especially for something a little more mainstream than my usual candy-colored kitschy pieces. We'll see. I'm also pleased with how this black and gold necklace turned out. It's triple-stranded and was made with black plastic faceted beads, gold glass bugle beads, and this gold metal paisley-looking pendant. It's glitzy yet classic.

Finally, I'm still working on this large music notes tote for the bf's mom. She plays the piano at her church, so he said she would like something music-themed. I like it too and can't help but wonder why I haven't made something like this before.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Make and Tell Challenge, Day 107: A Little More Blooming

I finished the second half of the first coat of this tote tonight (you can tell it's the holiday season, as I break my projects down into ever-smaller daily steps). After that I wrapped 2 of the giveaway packages. I also bought some more jewelry supplies at Michaels; I'm still not pleased with how that necklace for my grandmother turned out, so I'm making her something else. On a completely unrelated note, I sold an item on ArtFire tonight, namely this Calculator Necklace. That made me smile, as many shoppers have commented on it at craft fairs. It's only my second ArtFire sale. I rarely maintain that site and am amazed that anyone finds me there at all.

Another Tote Trove Giveaway, Holiday Style -- Results

My holiday giveaway officially closed at 12:00 am last night. I had three participants: Kathi (Fairy Lover), Melissa (Made by Melissa), and Christine (Raspberry Crochet). They shared their stories of gifts gone wrong, the stars of which were a gold jaguar statuette, a penguin sweater (for a guy), and a cactus lamp. Thanks, everyone; these were truly hilarious! As a special thank you, I'm sending each of them a Christmas eraser necklace -- so, everyone's a winner! (Please note that each necklace is slightly different, to keep the one-of-a-kindness going. But all three are equally fabulous!)

Jack Handey Quote of the Week

"Marta says the interesting thing about fly fishing is that it's two lives connected by a thin strand. Come on, Marta. Grow up."

Make and Tell Challenge, Day 106: Roses in Bloom (again)

Day 105 sped past without a single make, but last night I hunkered down and began work on this tote.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Nobody Bakes a Cake as Tasty as a Tastykake

If you're local, then you understand the wonder that is the Tastykake. The other day the bf ran into Wawa to get us a snack and emerged with this Tastykake butterscotch krimpet Christmas tree ornament. (Rest assured; he got the snacks also. It was Krimpets. What else?) I turned the box over in my hands, transfixed by the glittery plastic butterscotch frosting. I'll probably keep this thing dangling from something all year long. And why not? There's nothing Christmasy about a krimpet. If anything, it's the kind of kitschy knickknack made for year-round display. (By the way, why is it that butterscotch is so delicious? I mean, it sounds like it would be disgusting.) The back of the ornament box offered up the origin of the krimpet, a tale so compelling that I can't help but share it here with you now:

"The 1920s roared through America creating optimism and excitement. For Tastykake, this meant a new bakery in Philadelphia's Hunting Park section in 1922 and the birth of a Tastykake icon . . . the Butterscotch Krimpet.

Krimpets came about because Tastykake bakers were very fussy, insisting on using only the freshest ingredients. When held in the middle, the cakes fell apart because they were so fresh! Finally, one baker said, "Why don't we bake the cake so it will be easier to hold? Let's take the baking tin and 'krimp it.'" Thus, in 1927, the Butterscotch Krimpet was born . . . and the rest, as they say, is history."

Cute, huh? You gotta love that plug about using "only the freshest ingredients." But I can't poke too much fun. Now, if only I could get my hands on some tiny krimpets charms to make some jewelry . . .

Featured Artist: Rozelyn DeSagun of Jaydemia

This week’s featured EtsyNJ artist is Rozelyn DeSagun of Jaydemia. Rozelyn fashions elegant, upscale jewelry perfect for all those special occasions, including weddings. (Here’s a sampling of some of her distinctively decorative pieces). So, if you have a need for beads, then add Jaydemia to your Etsy shopping list this holiday. Read on to find out just what makes Rozelyn and Jaydemia shine!

1. The Tote Trove (TTT): Jaydemia features intricate jewelry, including bridal pieces. Do you find yourself drawn to accessories in your own life?

Rozelyn DeSagun (RD): I love jewelry! It’s something I learned from my mom at an early age. For me, jewelry is more than just a fashion accessory. It’s a symbol of my personality and of special events in my life. My parents helped me start my collection by giving me a piece of jewelry to commemorate occassions such as my baptism, birthdays, and graduation.

2. TTT: How would you describe your fashion style?

RD: I’m the timeless type. Although I go for classic pieces, I always want an element of surprise, whether it’s an unexpected color, shape, or something else interesting. I love one-of-a-kind or rare pieces and prefer to have things that are limited if not custom made just for me.

3. TTT: How did you become interested in making jewelry?

RD: Growing up, my mom worked with a goldsmith to design her own jewelry. Sometimes, if she’s not crazy about a piece anymore, then she’ll sell it and design another. Almost all the jewelry I received from my parents was custom made! When I had my daughter, I wanted to continue the tradition. But unlike my mom, I don’t have access to a great goldsmith or a budget for real gold and gems. So when I discovered crystals, I immediately feel in love with them. They give me the sparkle without the big price tag and help me create classic pieces.

4. TTT: Did you learn your craft from someone, or are you more self-taught?

RD: I’m self-taught. But I love to read about techniques too, although most of the time I don’t end up following them!

5. TTT: What is your favorite item in your shop?

RD: I love my Antonia necklace (first photo displayed). It’s a tribute to my grandmother, whom I loved so much.

6. TTT: What items, if any, would you like to add to your shop?

RD: I just added my “natural” collection, which includes jewelry made from recycled natural materials like wood and shells. The materials used in this collection have a deeper meaning for me. Using them is my way of helping the fishermen and their families who make these beads as an alternate way of making a living.

7. TTT: Describe your creative process. Do you follow a routine, create when inspiration strikes, or a little bit of both?

RD: I have 4 kids under 7 years old, so there’s no routine for me. Whenever I get a chance, even if it’s just 10 minutes, I do something.

8. TTT: What is the best thing about running your own business?

RD: The best thing is I can stay home with my kids. I can work my own hours, and the earning potential is great. The worst thing is trying to finish the work. It can be really stressful.

9. TTT: How did you discover Etsy?

RD: I think I heard about it from one of the crafters I met at a show.

10. TTT: Do you sell your work in venues outside of Etsy (i.e, other sites, craft shows, etc)? If yes, then how does selling online differ from selling in person?

RD: I do craft shows and sell on consignment. I also have a few sales reps. I find selling online to be really challenging. Because my brand is not well known yet, it’s hard to convince buyers to prefer me over established names. Not being able to see and feel the items creates another hurdle. But I’m up for the challenge.

11. TTT: Who is most (emotionally) supportive of your business?

RD: My daughters. Even at a very young age, they never fail to appreciate my work. Don’t make me cry…

12. TTT: On your blog, you write, “For some, having a business is a just a part-time job. For others, it’s a source of extra money for shopping. For the fortunate few, it’s a primary source of income. For my part, though, my jewelry business is my life --- my passion, my choice, my stepping stone.” Tell us what life experiences inspired to you to start your business.

RD: I’ve always been the entrepreneur kind. I love selling and creating things. Since I was a kid, I’ve dreamt of having my own business --- having my own office, being my own boss, and having my own company. I’ve always loved talking to business owners and learning from them. That’s my reason for picking business school over med school. =)

13. TTT: Are there any new artistic/creative skills you’d like to learn?

RD: Sewing, knitting, and crocheting are dream skills for me. My grandmother and mom are both great at those. I just think needles don’t find me interesting. I tried stencil painting once and loved it. I’m also into recycling and try to make things from recycled materials.

14. TTT: Tell us about life outside of Jaydemia. Do you have a job in addition to your business? Hobbies? Family? Pets?

RD: Well, I’m a wife and mom of 4 cuties, ages 6, 4, 2, and 8 months. I’m also active in a Catholic community.

15. TTT: What are your hopes for Jaydemia in the future?

RD: I’m a firm believer in dreaming big, so I’d like Jaydemia to become a known brand of costume jewelry in the future. I’m planning to open a flagship brick and mortar store. Also, I would like to be known as a generous company that gives back to various charities. God willing, I would like Jaydemia to be a company that provides income to those less fortunate families in the Philippines, which was where I was born and raised.

16. TTT: BONUS QUESTION. Just for fun, if you were stranded on a deserted island and had to eat the same thing every day, what would it be? You can pick a drink and a dessert, too. (I find that dreaming up a whole meal makes this game more entertaining!)

RD: Hmmm… This is good --- rice, pork rinds (chicharones), sweetened iced tea, and tiramisu!

Thanks for getting to know Rozelyn and Jaydemia. For all that sparkles, visit her new Web site as well as her Facebook fan page and blog.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Make and Tell Challenge, Day 104: Holiday Peek

I know I said I couldn't post any of the gifts I'm making yet, but since my grandmother doesn't read my blog, I figured this one would be okay. I made her this double-stranded, super long pendant from wire, faux pearls, black plastic beads, a crown pendant, and a toggle clasp. I'm not crazy about it. I think it needs some charms dangling down the entire length or something. The chunky pearl cords seem to demand something more dramatic. I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Nothing Says Christmas Like a Palm Tree

This is our Christmas palm tree. It spends all year in our citrus room, waiting to illuminate our living room or porch, as we see fit, in December. Just wanted to share.

Mini Cheesecakes

Last week we had our office holiday party, and I signed up to make these mini, fruit-topped cheesecakes. My mom made them every Easter when I was little. More recently, I made them for one of my sister's Fourth of July parties, which was where I met the bf. I remember him gobbling up several and declaring that they were delicious. (Do boys "declare?" Maybe that wasn't the right word. He probably just said they were tasty or something.) Anyway, I figured they'd go over well and withstand sitting out for a couple of hours better then a JELL-O mold. So, without further ado:


2 8-oz packages cream cheese
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon vanilla
32 vanilla wafers
fruit toppings of your choice (I used cherry and blueberry pie fillings and pineapple preserves. Pineapple sundae topping is better, but Acme was all out.)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine ingredients, then beat with an electric mixture. Line two muffin pans with cupcake wrappers, drop a vanilla wafer into each wrapper, and pour batter into each. Bake for 13-15 minutes, depending on your oven. Cheesecakes will be done when knife comes out of the middle clean. Let cool, then top with fruit.

Make and Tell Challenge, Day 103: Puttin' on the Glitz

Remember those pins I started making from a promotional Atlantic City Chiclets box a while back? They'd been staring up at me from my coffee table in their unfinished state for weeks, begging to be glitterized. So I obliged. First came the coat of glitter glue over the water (I'd already used Mod Podge on the cardboard), then I Gem-Taced a trio of rhinestones on each pin for extra glam and kitsch. They ended up looking like the kind of Atlantic City souvenirs you might find in your grandmother's keepsake box or scrapbook. Which was just fine with me.

After finishing these, I made another (mystery!) gift, then took a break from creating. The middle and greater part of my day was spent with my parents. The bf and I and my sister and her bf accompanied them to the Eagle Theater, a chocolate box of a place that's been recently restored in downtown Hammonton. We saw a Christmas play entitled "Santa and the Psychiatrist," and it was fun. Certainly a departure from the movie we talked about seeing. After the show, the cast gave out a little basket of handmade cookies and candy to the person who answered their trivia question correctly. The bf ended up winning (let's just say he knows his G. I. Joe). I also won something (not because I answered anything correctly, though; probably just because they were being nice) - a pocket calculator, perfect for my math-challenged brain. We went out to lunch, then headed back to my parents' house for some Cinnabons. My mom had all five of her trees up, as well as her ever-growing army of nutcrackers. My dad buys her one every year; this year's addition was a mouse perched atop a wedge of cheese.

The bf and I returned home pretty tired. Nevertheless, I still had a few projects left in me. I always have a few projects left it me; whether or not they come out depends on how far I want to push myself. Tonight I decided to decorate some of my plainer bangles with stick-on rhinestones. Now, when I say plainer I mean that the bangles weren't already decked out with beads and jewels. But they were vibrant in their own right, drenched in shades of lime, raspberry, and royal blue. I wondered whether I should reinforce the jewels with Gem-Tac, but it didn't seem necessary (I banged one of the bangles against the coffee table as a test of the rhinestones' adhesiveness - they passed.). I'll wear them this week, perhaps tomorrow. Then I'll really know if I need the glue. Issues of durability aside, I think they're stunning. Catching even a glimpse of anything colorful and/or sparkly sets my imagination on fire. I want to make a mountain of these bangles! I have no idea if anyone else would want to buy them. But I'm not too concerned about that, although as someone trying to sell this stuff I probably should be.

Some Cool Prints I Bought From Another EtsyNJ Artist

Not too long ago I purchased these prints from Art by Sarada. Sarada's work features colorful witches and other fantasy figures, and as a fan of that genre I became instantly hooked. I was particularly struck by Alice Dreaming. I was obsessed with Alice in Wonderland as a kid. (Just ask my sister; I made her watch our recording of the TV miniseries version far too many times.) Anyway, if you like this sort of thing, then you should stop by Sarada's shop.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Make and Tell Challenge, Day 102

I missed days 100 and 101 due to the usual fatigue with a little Christmas chaos mixed in. Today I went out and managed to buy the rest of the gifts, wrappings, decorations, etc. Then I came home and wrapped everything. I've yet to put up any decorations -- or even clean the house -- but the bf did move our Christmas palm tree from the spare room (a.k.a. the Citrus Room, so named for its orange and yellow walls and green trim) to the living room to sit in until we get our real tree.

Anyway, I completed the second coat of this grapevine wine bag for my parents. I also made another gift.