Manny Beads: I’m Manny and I live in beautiful Vermont where the colors of Summer in bloom, and Fall happening inspire me. Some years ago I found myself really wanting to breath some fresh air into my creative lungs. I learned how to knit, took some pottery courses and dove into making jewelry. I had been creating jewelry for myself and others for many years, drawn to the challenge of making a reality what my imagination cooks up.
I have a passion for unrefined stones and other elements that inspire me to create jewelry that is designed with an organic feeling to it: a bit unrefined, beautifully irregular and suggestive of the spiritual. Some of the elements I am most drawn to are organic and unrefined stones, ancient pieces, vintage buttons, Tibetan mala beads, and ethnic additions. I prefer to use creative elements that are not too many steps removed from the earth…imperfectly perfect. The stones and beads are often hand-cut and unrefined, left to speak for themselves, reminding us that they are of the Earth.
What is your craft / art / creative endeavor?
I am a jewelry designer and creator with a passion for unrefined stones and other elements that inspire me to create jewelry that is designed with an organic feeling to it: a bit unrefined, beautifully irregular and suggestive of the spiritual. Some of the elements I am most drawn to are organic and unrefined stones, vintage buttons, Tibetan mala beads, and ethnic additions.
How did you get started? Have you worked in other creative areas before the kind of work you’re doing now?
Some years ago I found myself really wanting to breath some fresh air into my creative lungs. I learned how to knit, took some pottery courses and dove into making jewelry. I had been creating jewelry for myself and others for many years but suddenly found myself spotting stones and beads everywhere! I’d collect them up and notice that there were some stones that just felt compelled to share the same future in an earring or necklace design!
Is there a story behind the name of your shop?
Certainly not an interesting one! I was eager to open my first shop at Etsy and needed to create a name so I impulsively picked ‘Mannybeads’ thinking I could change it in the next few weeks without confusing buyers…but at Etsy once you’ve got a name it’s yours for life! And…I’ve settled right into it quite nicely.
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?
Well, my day job is not jewelry making so I feel privileged to be able to create without the pressures of paying the mortgage. That truly frees me up to follow the ebb and flow of creative energy and excitement without getting in the way. Creating jewelry is very much a part of having a life for me…I’m a bit of an introvert so working alone when I feel inspired and energized is very meditative and so satisfying…
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 participate in just a few seasonal shows and really enjoy that. I think if I participated in more I’m afraid it might start to feel tedious! The preparation and set up is quite something and I really admire folks who do it full time.
Hmmm…favorite venue…I must say 1000Markets is a beautiful site. Just first rate. In terms of exposure and sales I’d have to say Etsy continues to be the Gold Standard for me.
Do you have any favorite handmade shops or sellers?
I do! I have many so these three represent, perhaps hundreds! but here they are…
Desert Talismans (crazy-beautiful, inspired work…)
Artsy (my favorite in assemblage art)
Artquirk (just love this artist and the beautiful rendering of place and time…)
What inspires and motivates you?
I am most inspired by stones and beads that are very earthy, organic and natural in feel. The stone or bead leads me in design rather than having a design in mind that I’m then looking for just the right stones to complete it.
It’s a bit like finding a treasure that you just can’t keep to yourself…and waiting to find the design or arrangement that best supports the essential nature of each stone.
I am also very passionate about working with Tibetan Mala beads. The ones that I am most drawn to are very hard to find so I treasure them when they find their way to me.
Thanks Manny! And if you would like to be interviewed next, just stop by DIY Interview.
Andrea D’Ambrosia knows what she likes. As the designer behind her ever-evolving creative business, she knows that Washington, DC is the right place for her, and the right place for her designs. “DC style works for me,” she says. “Understated elegance, but with an element of drama.”
Andrea has always been creative, and grew up in a family of makers. Her father built motorcycles, her brother built radios, and she started sewing and knitting with her grandmother at age five. She was the “weird dresser” in high school who made her own clothes instead of flocking to the mall spots the other girls liked.
So when she decided to start her jewelry business full-time in 2006, she knew exactly the type of pieces she wanted to make: elegant items that were versatile and beautiful, but also completely functional.
Andrea’s favorite materials are semi-precious stones like jade, onyx, lapis, and turquoise. She especially loves to combine pearls with turquoise. She uses her favorites, along with whatever she finds that inspires her, to create jewelry that is timeless and sophisticated, never “crafty-craft” or trendy.
Her line is always evolving, because when inspiration strikes, she just goes with it. Andrea finds herself being inspired by fashion, art, music, and the personal style of her own customers. A customer once came to Andrea with a problem. She had an unusual, vintage jaguar pin that she loved, but didn’t want to just stick it on her lapel. She wanted a more modern way to wear it, and Andrea was struck with an idea.
Andrea created a necklace, using the jaguar pin as inspiration for its color and style…but also as the removable clasp of the necklace. This created a one-of-a-kind, versatile look that was really three looks in one! Her customer was delighted, and Andrea was inspired.
In addition to her usual favorite sources for new and vintage beads and stones, Andrea began collecting vintage brooches as well. This is the style that caught my eye and made me pay attention to Andrea’s work. I love the combination of new and old, and that such a simple piece can still be so dramatic, and so versatile.
The vintage brooch items are especially popular with brides, who are often looking for ways to incorporate family jewelry into their wedding looks. Andrea loves the fact that her necklace or bracelet is often the only item from the bride’s wedding day outfit that ever gets worn again!
Andrea loves to work with individual customers on unique looks for them. She has found that she is particularly good at understanding a client’s personal style, and translating that into wearable jewelry that is dramatic and elegant. One of her current projects really intrigued me: combining a customer’s antique cameo collection and a copper chain to create a one-of-a-kind necklace.
Necklaces and bracelets aren’t the only accessories that Andrea likes to make. She credits her professional background in engineering with her emphasis on functionality. Placing function on the same level as form and style naturally translates into a love of all accessories. What other way to make practical dressing exciting and interesting, if not with unusual accessories?
Her obi belts made from men’s neckties were born when she found a particular tie that she liked so much she wanted to wear it herself. She played with the concept for a while until she came up with the current design, just in time for wide belts to come back in style.
Will she continue to branch out into fabric accessories, or make more jewelry? “Who can say what will inspire me next?” she says. There are always ideas for elegant and versatile accessories floating around in her head. You can find Andrea’s work in her Etsy store and at local juried craft shows. You can also contact her for a private appointment or consulation.
Life is funny. I was thinking about local sellers in Hawaii today because I thought it would be nice to give a shout out to the birthplace of our Prez. I know he’s been getting a lot of flack, but I personally still have total confidence in him. Especially now that the health care bill is finally in place. Millions of people are now going to have basic health care. Sounds pretty good to me. Hawaii is of course the birthplace of President Obama. He was raised by his single mother, and seems like she did pretty much all she could to give him a great life. So this Shop Local column is not only dedicated to Mr. President, but also to all of the local ladies in Hawaii who are making things, and making things happen.
Huladesigns is not just a mom, but also a daughter who share this site that features their handmade brocade clutches. This creative duo live on Maui, and make designs which feature repurposed brooches and other cast-off jewels. The results are just the right size for a few essentials for a night out on the town.
Like many crafters out there, I started making clothes for my dolls when I was big enough to use a needle and thread. I was really into my dolls, and created a virtual world for them replete with furniture, houses, and all the trappings of doll-dom. As you may know today’s doll-obsession is the American Girl, which is more expensive that the Madame Alexander’s I coveted. So when I found alohagirldollclothes who makes pretty dresses for the American Dolls, it made me happy and brought me back to a simpler time when making clothes was just a part of life.
I can’t resist a butterfly, let alone this butterfly necklace by Oahu’s wavejewelry. Julie Kirby has been making jewelry for thirty years and finds her inspiration in all of the natural elements found in her beautiful surroundings. I am so impressed with the composition of this piece, and the colors of the stones–ruby-zoisite, and black onyx, with sterling silver. She says the stones for this piece sat in her work room for a year before inspiration struck. I know exactly how she feels. Sometimes waiting for inspiration, or even that sense that “this is what you should do” takes awhile to come along. I think what I like most about President Obama is that he has a quiet confidence that all of the best leaders have, and when he feels something is right, he goes after it with determination. Like a butterfly that sits and sits and sits, and then with a flutter it’s off. Mahalo a hui hou (Peace until we meet again).
A couple of years ago, a one of my mother’s friends took me aside at a family event and told me, “Your mom would move mountains for you, Rebecca. Remember that.” At the time, I took as an off-hand comment, but it was actually a prophecy of sorts. Just 6 months later, when I called my mom to tell her that I was planning to leave the West Coast and move back to the Prairies, she said, without skipping a beat, “Great. Rent a truck. I’ll drive.”
A few short weeks later, with Vancouver in the rear-view mirror of my Jetta and my mom at the helm of a packed U-haul, I headed home. It took us 3 days to make the 2000+ kilometre trip. My mom was Thelma, I was Louise, and the gas-guzzling U-haul was called “Piggy”. A lot of laughs, a few tears, and a couple slightly-sketchy hotel rooms were shared as we made our way across 3 1/2 provinces. At the end of our trip, when my belongings and I were safely in Winnipeg, my mom asked for nothing in return. She just gave me a huge hug, told me to behave, and hopped on a flight back to BC.
Someday, I hope I get the chance to pay it forward and do something like that for my own kid. (Except I’ll probably make him drive the U-haul.) In the meantime, since my mom is my rock, I have gathered up this collection of stone-cold awesomeness in her honour…and just in time for Mother’s Day!
According to Lindsay, unlike children, air plants require minimal nurturing to keep them alive. They don’t even need soil; just a sunny spot and a twice-weekly bath. This Tillandsia makes his home in a sandstone pebble planter, which has a lovely modern, organic design. Check out Lindsay’s shop of all sorts of unique and beautiful gifts for mothers (and others.)
Dean & Sue of British Columbia carve words and designs into stones that have been polished by the Pacific Ocean, using a sandblasting technique. They will carve all sorts of words and images into the stones, but I think these sweet little baby feet would be perfect for a new mom. The pendant pictured above, from the Monkeys Jewels shop, hangs from a silver bail and comes on a black leather cord with a silver clasp.
I love how these felted pebbles fool the eye. At a glance, they appear smooth and hard; but in the hand they are warm, soft and touchable. Taking her inspiration from nature’s organic forms and textures, Delica creates her tromp l’oeil rocks by felting natural merino wool. The set pictured above is made up of nine grey pebbles; each as unique as their stone counterparts would be in nature.
And, finally, some rocks of a different kind – the edible kind! These decadent mini rocky road cheesecakes (pictured above with the peanut butter cup cheesecake) from the Bakesalery are topped with loads of vegan marshmallows, ganache and chopped almonds on a chocolate cookie crust. The best part, though, is that they come in pairs; perfect for sharing with mom.
Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 9th, 2010.