At our house, December 2009 was a blur of working, crafting and traveling. Somehow, in all of the excitement and frenzy of the holidays, the 31 days of 2009’s final month felt more like 13 days. There just never seemed enough time! That must be why, almost a full week into the new year, we are just now getting around to replacing all of the calendars in the house. In past years, I have always grabbed a big, glossy shrink-wrapped calendar from the big-box bookstore, but this year I am looking for something different. Because we are going to have to live with it for the next 12 months, I want something unique, clever and, of course, eco-friendly.
Imagine yourself as the maker, and get your creative juices flowing this fine Friday.
Collage kit by Bluemoose Art.
Vintage Venetian glass beads from Beadbrats.
Hand stamped fabric ribbon trim by Seasonal Delights.
Hand painted animal eyes by Enami Eyes.
Porcelain red hearts by Earthenwood Studio.
Coiled art yarn by Flutterby Fibers.
Handforged silver toggle clasp by tinahdee.
Steph Dempsey and I were neighbors at a craft show this summer, so for three days I got to do one of my favorite things: look at pretty fabric all day long. Steph makes lovely handmade dresses for little girls under the label Yellin’ Moon, and has a wonderful eye for combining fabrics in unexpected ways.
Even though none of the dresses were big enough for me, I had great fun looking through them all, just to see Steph’s pretty and unusual blends of pattern and color.
The mixing and matching makes Yellin’ Moon dresses just as appealing to parents as they are to the young ladies they are intended for. . .I heard enthusiastic squeals of “oooh, lookit the dresses!” from women and girls of all ages that weekend!
Steph loves fabric and color, and you can tell by looking at her creations. She says she is “not a snooty shopper” when it comes to fabric, and finds new goodies for her stash wherever she goes: fashion fabric shops, quilting shops, goodwill and thrift stores, and occasionally her husband’s closet.
The vast variety of her sources, and the fact that she buys in small quantities, means that her fabric stash is ever changing, and with it the inspiration for her dresses. Every single dress is one-of-a-kind, and is created from a happy accident of on-the-spot inspiration from the fabrics themselves, and sometimes input from her daughter, who has her own sharp eye for pattern and color.
Steph’s love for quilting and the attention to detail in vintage clothes comes out in the dresses she makes. “It seems like when you only have one small piece of something, it becomes so much more precious,” she says. Combining small bits of fabric not only makes each dress she makes unique, but also adds complexity to her otherwise uncomplicated designs. Steph keeps the silhouettes of her dresses simple on purpose, to make sure they stay easy to wear and care for.
Steph has been sewing all her life, and started saving up for her first sewing machine at age eleven. She’s always made quilts and clothes for herself, but didn’t think to turn her hobby into a business until after her children were born. The first Yellin’ Moon dress (although she didn’t know it at the time) was a sundress for her first daughter, refashioned from an old muumuu. Her daughter loved wearing it, and soon friends started to ask her to make their children dresses.
Eventually, with encouragement from an entrepreneurial friend, Yellin’ Moon was born. In addition to dresses in a handful of styles for little girls, Steph also makes winter hats and mittens, party hats, pants, skirts, shirts, and bibs. She has plans to expand to little boys’ clothes and perhaps even some items for adults.
Steph sells her pretty clothes at local art and craft shows, and you can find her show schedule on her blog. She is also planning on restocking her online shop this fall, so keep a sharp eye out, because everything is one of a kind!
What is your craft / art / creative endeavor?
I make handmade pendants and wire wrapped jewelry. The pendants I make are all by methods that I have invented myself! The wire wrap jewelry I make is to fulfill my desire to be able to make something beautiful, quickly, since all of my other jewelry takes so long to make!
I make four different types of pendants; micro mosaics, miniature sand painted pendants, fabric pendants, and hand painted embossed pendants.
The micro mosaic pendants are made by hand stretching glass into micro thin rods of glass that I cut down into tiny tiles that are about 2mm in length and 1/2 a mm in thickness. I make the design and then cover the design in resin to protect it. It takes hundreds upon hundreds of these micro tiles to make a pendant and I don’t make too many of them because they are so time consuming!
The miniature sand painted pendants that I make are inspired by the Native American art of Sand Painting. I make a design out of silver wire and then inlay the colored sand to the design. Then, I cover my sand paintings in jewelers’ grade resin to protect them and make them waterproof.
The fabric pendants are made by embossing a design into metal and then hand cutting fabric to be inlayed into the design. I also protect these with resin.
Finally, the hand painted pendants are made by embossing metal and using a metal paint to fill in the design and then finish it off by covering it in resin.
How did you get started? Have you worked in other creative areas before the kind of work you’re doing now?
I used to be a nurse, but I have been making jewelry since childhood. I made everything from elaborate friendship bracelets to brick stitched seed bead earrings. I really always wanted to make jewelry for a living but when it was time to go to college a nursing degree seemed more practical. I decided, years later and after having my kids that I didn’t want to be a nurse any more, but to stay at home with them. I soon discovered that as much as I love playing with them, I needed a more creative outlet than playdoh. I decided to finally make the jewelry I have always wanted to make.
I had planned to go back to school to learn how to make jewelry by conventional methods so that I could have a home business, but I just never found time to go. Instead, I just started inventing my own methods to make jewelry in my spare time. I really wanted to make something totally different than other people were doing. The micro mosaic invention took three years to perfect but then the invention of everything else just fell into place fairly quickly. And now, here I am!
Is there a story behind the name of your shop?
My shop name “Twist 21” comes from the idea that I put a twist on past forms of jewelry or art to make them new again. Micro mosaics and sand paintings have been around for a long time, but there are no books (at least that I could find) that could teach me how to make micro mosaics… and as far as I know, no one else has ever made a sand painting into a pendant. So I came up with my own twist on an old idea! The 21 in my shop name is because 21 is my lucky number.
Do you work alone? With a team? Do you engage your family or friends in the work? What is your process? How do you ensure you get your work done yet still have a life?
All of the jewelry is created by me. My husband helps by watching my two kids while I sell at craft shows and over the weekends when I do most of my jewelry creation. Most of my work is done late at night, during nap times for the kids, and over the weekend. I get very little sleep, but I really enjoy having my time with my kids as well as my creative time. Sleep will just have to continue to be on the backburner for a while!
Where do you sell your work? Which venues are your favorites? Do you prefer selling online or in person? Do you attend shows or fairs? Is your work in a gallery or brick-and-mortar store?
I enjoy selling both online and in person. I do find that I sell more in person since people seem to like to try things on and really touch jewelry before they make a decision, but I enjoy being able to sell to people all over the world by selling online. I don’t think I prefer one way of selling over the other.
I’d love to sell my jewelry in actual stores but I haven’t figured out how to make that happen yet!
Do you have any favorite handmade shops or sellers?
What inspires and motivates you?
I am inspired by all forms of art and really enjoy inventing something new out of an old idea. Obviously, I am a fan of antique micro mosaics, and Native American sand paintings. Most of my designs that I use for my pendants are not my own (though some are.) I use royalty free images that I have permission to use so that I have a broad range of styles for my pendants. Having so many different patterns and different types of fabric keeps me motivated and interested so that my craft never gets boring to me.
What do you wish I had asked you?
“When did I start loving art/jewelry?”
My father says as an infant, I was a really calm baby who never really got too excited or upset about anything. (I take this to mean I was pretty boring, but I don’t think that is what he meant!) But at just a few months old, my parents took me into a store in Arizona that was selling Sand Paintings and Native American jewelry and I just lit up. He said I grabbed at everything and was just really excited. He thought at the time that my excitement over jewelry was just a sign that girls are more expensive than boys…but now, it seems clear that I just always liked jewelry and art. I think that making jewelry is just something I was meant to do.
Thank you Danielle! And if you want to be interviewed next, just head over to DIY Interview.
Recycled by Hyena: My work is infused with my ethic and each of my creations is the result of passion and dedication. My clothes are made from scratch but not from new materials. They are made with fabric from clothes I purchased in Goodwill stores and non-profit thrift stores.
I “believe” in the craft revolution and I think it is our future. The handmade and eco-friendly life is the only alternative to the consumerism destroying our planet and the living beings surrounding us.