My name is Amber Bryce-owner, designer, and soul creator of Blue Scarab Jewelry. Jewelry, to me, is an extension of oneself-your personality, your being, your soul.
From a very young age I had an intense interest for art of all kinds. I always enjoyed creating-anything I could get my hands into I would put my own spin on it. As I grew older I found myself dabbling in many different artistic medias, from drawing and writing to clays and mosaics. But creating Jewelry has always been what I come back to, because I feel such a strong connection with each piece I make. So much of myself is poured into each piece, because my creations are spawned from such a deep inspiration. I find inspiration in the moldings of old buildings, victorian dresses, fabrics, textiles, and most importantly Mother Nature herself. Moods, textures and even music spawn my creativity, constantly etching designs and images in my mind.
When I create jewelry, I don’t like to limit myself to any one technique. My repertoire of skills as an artist is ever growing-I love learning new techniques, all the while mastering old ones. Craftsmanship is very important to me-I want my customers to feel good knowing that I take great pride in providing them with an heirloom quality piece of jewelry that they can wear and pass down for many years.
I don’t have a green thumb (by any stretch of the imagination), but last year’s tomato crop was so dismal that I barely harvested enough fruit for a caprese salad, never mind a batch of marinara sauce. This year, however, is looking much, much more promising. With the first “early girl” turning red as we speak (and plenty more on the vine), I am beginning to see a bowl (if not multiple bowls) of pico de gallo in our near future. Of course, that will have to wait until we have ourselves a real harvest, because the first one is going to be sliced and eaten with nothing but a sprinkle of crunchy fleur de sel. If I can hold off long enough to slice it, that is.
Bolstered by my tomato victory, I am already getting organized and planning next year’s garden. At the risk of getting cocky, in addition to the varieties available at my local garden centre, I think I might try my hand at some heirloom varieties. I have always been attracted to heirloom varieties, partly because of their funny names and unusual appearance, but also partly due to their nostalgia and historical significance. This repurposed organizer (above) by Red Truck Designs is the perfect catch-all for seed packets, sketches, clippings and photographs. The piece’s designer, Susan, has even attached strong magnets to the vintage forks (included) so that you can hold even *more* ephemera and inspiration.
I don’t know where I got the idea that have heirloom varieties would be hard to grow, but I have kept away from them for just that reason. After doing a little bit of research, though, I have discovered that I couldn’t have been more wrong. Other than getting them started, I’ve been assured that they’ll be no more difficult than my usual tomato plants. And, with a little luck and a lot of sunshine, by this time next year I could be sitting down to a salad of Cherokee Purples, Yellow Brandywines, Striped Romans and Black Krims grown from seed by The Bear Foot Shaman. My mouth is watering just at the thought of it! After all, rather than being grown for the perfect appearance and long shelf-life of modern varieties, heirlooms are known for their TASTE.
No smell is more evocative of gardening to me than that of the tomato plant itself. Sometimes, on a hot summer’s day, even if I am not working in the garden I find myself running my hands through the leaves and over the stalks of my tomato plants just to pick up the lush and pungent scent. I swear; it’s better than any perfume. The Dirty Housewife Soap Co. has captured that scent in this vibrant, verdant soap (pictured above). Containing Chlorella, a single-celled algae touted as a true “superfood”, each 5oz ruffled bar will leave your skin soft and smelling of summer all year-round.
Of course, it’s not enough for tomatoes to just taste and smell good. They have to up the ante by being good for you, too. Thanks to a certain ketchup company’s marketing, we have all heard of lycopene, a powerful phytochemical found in, you guessed it, tomatoes. Responsible for giving tomatoes their vibrant red hue, lycopene is an efficient anti-oxidant compound that attacks damaging free-radicals in the body and promotes healthy cell-growth. Although it is best known as a preventative measure for prostate cancer, lycopene is beneficial for both sexes. Maybe we should change that old adage to “A tomato a day keeps the doctor away!” Let these cute little earrings by Mouse Market (pictured above) remind you to eat your tomatoes and get your daily dose of the good stuff, because the less time you spend in doctors’ waiting rooms, the more time you can spend in the garden!
Brooke B. Art: I’m a self-taught collage artist in Northern Idaho. I generally create large-scale art (even up to 8 feet square), as I have a massive supply of paper (including sheet music and maps) I acquired through various outlets. I can’t throw anything away, so collage/mixed media was a good career decision for me. :)
I have a husband and a one-year-old daughter. My husband cuts all my art panels for me, preps and paints them, and secures the hardware. We’re a good team. My daughter is adept at tearing up books and magazines, so I expect she’ll be able to help me do the prep-work for tearing the paper I need very soon.
My larger art pieces were recently on display at a fine furniture gallery, Parmer’s, in Redding, CA. I have been a reoccurring artist in Redding’s Second Saturday Art Hop. In October, we relocated to Northern Idaho, where we live nestled in the wooded hills by a lake; the perfect setting for creativity.
Every so often when looking for new artists to feature on this blog, I use Etsy’s pounce feature. This time when it brought up the brand-spankin’ new shop of Tiffany Chou I was immediately drawn in by the amazing photos of her jewelry. The stunning settings just suck you into the sea swept life and you find yourself pining for a lovely gold coral to wear around your neck.
Like most of the artists I’ve featured, Tiffany’s been making things by hand since a young age, 14 to be exact, and has always dreamed of sharing her creations with the world. She got a lot of good feedback on her most recent jewelry collection, so she’s been focusing on getting her online shop up and running, though she has sold a bit on her personal website as well.
The “Here sharky sharky” is my favorite piece, its very delicate and reminds me of the ocean.
As you can clearly see, Tiffany is inspired by the ocean and all it produces. She sells some of her line in a shop in Hawaii as well – a perfect souvenir from paradise, I’d think.
Each piece is inspired by a shell from Tiffany’s large shell collection. She chooses shells she believes will translate well into metal and then casts and plates each piece.
Tiffany’s love of the sea should be no surprise as she grew up in Maui, Hawaii. She went to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and then moved to New York City to pursue her interest in fashion. You can find out more about Tiffany and see some more of her work on her website. If the jewelry wasn’t beautiful enough, it’s even more lovely when you know that 5% of the profits go to Coral Reef Alliance and 5% to Dancing Palette.
Now that we’re all in the habit of recycling our paper goods, we barely have to think about it. As soon as we’re finished with the newspaper, it goes straight to the blue box. Magazines usually stick around a little longer, but they, too, will eventually meet their curbside fate; minus a couple clipped must-try recipes and a picture of so-and-so’s new hairstyle, of course.
We seem to have a little more attachment when it comes to our books, though. Once we’ve read them, they get safely tucked onto a shelf; perhaps to be re-read later or loaned to a friend. If you’re anything like me, you have a little trouble parting with your books. I wouldn’t dream of reading the last few lines of Bridget Jones’ Diary, closing the cover and then calmly tossing the book into the nearest bin. It would be like breaking up with Mark Darcy himself! But, that said, imagine what would happen if you kept every book that you ever read? As an avid reader, I think sometimes that without the occasional purge, I would be living on Paperback Mountain. How, then, can we keep up with our reading, but not end up buried in books?
1) Pass it on – the simplest way to recycle a book that you have enjoyed is to give it to a friend. To make it even more special, include a unique bookmark, like the one pictured above from the Hollywood Hillbilly shop. Holly makes each one by hand with an assortment of paper, beads, vintage findings and, in this case, a naturally-shed porcupine quill.
2) Donate – there are dozens of charities that accept used books; either for re-sale or, as in the case of hospitals and shelters, re-use. It’s best to donate books that are in good-condition, but even damaged books can often find good homes. Check with local arts/crafts groups to see if they can make use of your rejects. Caitlin of Rebound Designs creates these OOAK purses from books found at thrift stores, library sales and, in her words, “the occasional dumpster”. Caitlin has a seemingly-endless supply of books ready to become handbags, or you can contact her to see about getting one from your own library converted to a piece of functional art.
3) Monetize – one of the best ways to contribute to your book budget is to sell your used reading materials. Books can be sold through consignment shops, at garage and yard sales, or online in just a few clicks. Once all of that money starts rolling in, you’ll need somewhere to stash it and what better than one of these wallets, also by Rebound Designs? Each is made from a discarded paperback book and durable clear vinyl.
4) Go digital – I’m not entirely sold on the idea of e-books, but everyone who I know who has tried them, loves them. You may not get the tactile pleasure of turning actual pages, but from an environmental perspective, the benefits are huge. And, while every book may not be available in digital format (yet), there are literally millions of fiction and non-fiction titles available for download. If you have already taken the leap to the personal e-readers, then you will definitely want to protect your investment with a funky cover like the Techee Sleeve pictured above by Rogue Theory. Custom orders are also available – just contact Kim and Christina for more details!
I have to say, making the switch to e-books is pretty tempting, but I don’t think I’m ready to give up my trade paperbacks just yet. It’s a good thing that we traditionalists can pimp our reads, too. These sturdy book covers by Gail at Quilt Sew Cover are a pretty and practical way to protect your books (and your privacy!), while the built-in bookmark holds your place.
On a personal note, I am currently churning through an especially forgettable piece of chick-lit and would love some suggestions for additions to my nightstand library. – please leave a comment below with your recommendations.
I think it is good that books still exist, but they do make me sleepy. – Frank Zappa