Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Best-Selling Earrings

"For me, the exciting thing about designing and making jewelry is that the creation process doesn't end when a piece leaves my worktable; instead, the process continues every time someone wears my jewelry to enhance their unique wardrobe and style."
Read more about me and my jewelry here: My Etsy Profile
Check out the earrings here: Industrial Chic Hex Nut Earrings

Monday, August 13, 2012

Sometimes Life Just Hands You The Awesome

Not one, but TWO good looking, muscular, genuine Scottish guys in kilts, snuggled right up to me.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

A Quick Note To My Liebster Nominees

If you don't want to play along, that's okay!  I was only kidding about the plague of frogs.  There isn't one headed your way.  You also don't have to worry about boils, locusts, or rivers running with blood.  Your firstborn is perfectly safe.

I understand that time is at a premium for everyone and that you may be busy getting kids ready to go back to school, writing the great American novel, or saving whales.  (Or maybe all three, in which case you're an over-achiever and you should slack off a little because you're making the rest of us look bad.)

Really.  If you've got other things to do, it's okay to walk on by. :)

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

I'd Like To Thank The Academy

I guess it's what I get for having a "sporadically updated" blog, because I was tagged a week ago by Juneli of Fashionably Yours for the Liebster Award and I didn't even know it until yesterday!
The Liebster Blog Award is given to upcoming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. The Meaning: Liebster is German and means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcoming. Thanks, Juneli! You're as sweet as you are adorable!

The rules for receiving this award:
1. Each person must post 11 things about themselves.
2. Answer the questions the tagger has set for you.
3. Choose 11 people and link them in your post.
4. Create 11 questions for the people you've tagged to answer.
5. Go to their page and tell them.
6. Remember, no tag backs!

So here goes. 11 Things About Me:
1. My favorite food is popcorn. That's right, popcorn. If I were stranded on a desert island, I'd bring a bag of popcorn. And a popper. And a kick-ass cabana with a kitchen where I could plug the popper in. And a cabana boy to pop it for me.
2. I almost never watch a movie made after 1965. On the rare occasions when I do, the film usually has the word "princess" in the title or it's a costume drama set in the 19th century.
3. I belt out show tunes at the drop of a hat. I am not a good singer. Some people don't enjoy my singing but I don't worry about it because Big Bird said not to.
4. I believe it's never too late to have a happy childhood.
5. I am a devoted aunt to 6 smart, talented, beautiful girls and two smart, talented, handsome boys. I talk about them almost as much as I talk about my cat, which is saying a lot.
6. I'm taller than I sound on the telephone.
7. Although I tend to be blunt, I try not to be unkind -- unfortunately, sometimes I'm a little unclear on where the line is.
8. I am likely to spend the last $20 in my pocket on a book. In fact, I have.
9. I am most happy when I'm making something, whether I'm drawing, writing, sewing, cooking, or making jewelry.
10. I love the sound of rain.
11. A friend called while I was writing this list and he said to tell you that I'm a "good friend who is willing to share her experiences, both good and bad, to help her friends and give them hope." Isn't he sweet?

My Answers to Juneli's Questions:
1.In which place would you like to buy/own your dream home?
In the mountains of northern West Virginia.
2.What kind of music do you enjoy?
~ My tastes change and evolve as my interests change; currently, I'm listening to a lot of classical music and old standards.
3.What is your favorite pastime?
~ Reading.  I didn't even have to think about that one. :)
4.What is your idea of a perfect vacation?
~ Relaxation and getting away from my usual routine, seeing new places and having new experiences.
5.Which aspect of blogging do you find most interesting?
~ I'm always interested in what my fellow bloggers are up to, and I learn a lot from reading other blogs.
6. If you are a book worm or a couch potato, what is your all time favorite movie/TV show/book?
~ It's hard to choose a favorite book, but if I have to it would be Right Ho, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse.  It's some of the funniest stuff I've ever read.
7.What would you wear on a first date?
~ Probably a skirt and top or a cute dress.  Something girly but with just a little bit of an edge.
8.Name a few of your favorite fashion brands.
~ I don't tend to shop by brands in my actual price range, so I'm going to dream here and say that I'd love to wear Chanel, Dior, Lanvin, and Alice+Olivia. 
9.Love, work, family, friends- how do you prioritize them?
~ I try make this my motto: People first, principles second, material things last.  If  do that, it's pretty easy to make my choices from there.
10.How would you describe your style of dressing? For eg, girly, edgy, lady like, Bohemian, casual, sporty, elegant etc.
~ Updated classics, but often a little girly, a little edgy, or a little bohemian depending on my mood and where I'm going.
11. Sunshine or snow-flakes?
~ Both.

Now for the bloggers I'm nominating:
1. Jacqueline at Blether.  She writes about food, cooking, and life in general.  She's also an inspiration because she maintains a fabulous attitude in the face of significant health issues.
2. Louise at Eat Thru The Pain.  Reading her blog makes me spew tea out of my nose on a regular basis.  She's hilarious.
3. Vivienne at Thrifted Shift.  She writes about fashion, books, and thrift shopping.  And she has a cute dog.  What's not to like?
4. Mod Mom Beyond IndieDom.  She's a mom and a rocker.  I aspire to be as cool as she is, but alas, it's not looking good for me.
5. Wendy at Salt and Wine.  She writes about all kinds of interesting stuff like food, thrifting, and DIY projects.
6. Veronica at Pret A Penser.  She blogs about food and fashion in two languages (English and Italian) and posts amazing photos. Honestly, she had me at the name of the blog.
7. Rita at Nana's Memories.  Her blog, which is "a place of recollection and reminiscence" is as sweet as she is.
OK, I'm stopping at 7. Yes, I know it's like not following through on a chain letter and God will smite with with plagues of frogs and things, but a lot of blogs don't have their number of followers listed on them.  And if I have to spend any more time comparing myself to people who have tons of followers without, so far as I can tell, having passed middle school English, I'll start doing tequila shots -- and nobody wants that.

The lovely ladies I have tagged, however, are all talented, relatively new to blogging, and quickly gaining traction.  You should totally follow them.

My 11 questions for the blog award:
1. What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?
2. Who is your celebrity boyfriend or girlfriend?  (You can have either or both, and they don't have to be currently living.  Also, I am assuming they don't know about it, but if they do, WE NEED DETAILS.)
3. What are you reading these days?
4. In the kitchen, what can you make better than anyone else?
5. What would (or will) be the title of your memoirs?
6. If you could dive into any book or movie and live there, what book or movie would it be?
7. Name one thing on your bucket list.
8. Are you a cat person, a dog person, or some other kind of person?
9. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
10. Picture it: you're in the car, listening to the radio. A new song starts, you shriek with horror and punch at the radio buttons to make it stop.  Who's playing?
11. What do you collect?

Ye Gods, that is the longest blog post I've ever written, and if you read this far you're a rock star.  I don't know about you, but I'm exhausted.  I'm setting this to post in the morning and going to bed. 

Monday, July 09, 2012

This Week at Sow's Ear Jewelry

This industrial chic hardware bracelet is by far the most popular piece in my Etsy shop.  It's also, oddly enough, one of the first pieces I ever designed.  The original was created a couple of years ago for my niece Katie, who is a photographer, an artist, and an all-around cool chick.  She loved it. 

Last fall, I made one for myself and found I wore it all the time because it was super-comfortable and flexible, and it added a touch of subtle edginess to even my most tailored outfits.  It also looks great stacked with other chain or beaded bracelets.  I get tons of compliments on it -- especially from guys, which surprised me.  When do guys look at jewelry?  I guess when it's something they can picture themselves wearing, they do.

I've sold more of this bracelet than any other single item I've made.  It also gets more pageviews and "favorite" clicks than any other piece.  Recently, it was featured in an Etsy Treasury with other upcycled and recycled items, and the same person posted her treasury on her design blog.

It also got pinned on Pinterest, but I have no idea how to find it on the site, so I can't show you.  But it did, honest.  Not bad for a piece of jewelry that began with the question "What would Katie love to wear?"  I'm beginning to understand why designers are advised to have a customer in mind before they begin the design process.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Words of Wisdom: Marcia Lacher

Hands tell so much. Mine are overworked and give away my age more than anything else, but they also show how much I work with them in my craft, garden and kitchen. They are my best most coveted tools, and even if they are vintage, they were custom made for me.

-- Etsy seller Marcia Lacher at TheMillineryShop, commenting on the Etsy blog

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Lightbulb Moment

Gentle Readers, although you may not have noticed it I have taken a month or so off from blogging. I needed time to think, to regroup, to decide where to focus my energy.

A fortuitous opportunity to spend some time in airport bookstores and watching a little reality TV with my sister finally made me realize something: pastimes in our culture are aspirational. The things most people watch and read are about who they think they are or who they wish they were. We may laugh at the Real Housewives of Wherever, but they are setting trends and selling products and people can't get enough of them.

And let's face it, my friends, nobody aspires to the life of an old maid with a cat. In fact, most younger people probably laugh at my exploits, but laugh in that uncomfortable "Dear God, don't let that be me someday" kind of way. People my own age tend to pity me, and to make suggestions about how I could be more successful or date more if only I changed everything about myself.

People have been asking me since I was a teenager (usually with a degree of irritation) why I'm so hell-bent on being myself and I have no answer for that. In fact, I have a hard time understanding why anyone would want to be anything but him- or herself, why they would spend a lifetime searching for that mythological something outside themselves that is supposed to make them feel like they are okay. Whenever I've tried that, the results were very bad indeed.

All of which is the long way of explaining why I'm not updating here very often. There isn't much of a readership for an old maid with a cat, even if the old maid has a wicked sense of humor and still gets hit on by men young enough to be her sons.

I'll continue updating regularly over at My Life In Food: A Culinary "Art" Journal, but focusing it more on the silly pictures I enjoy drawing (one of which was recently published in the online food magazine Pork and Gin) and less on trying to make it into a Food Blog.  Maybe I'll draw some cartoons for this blog, too.  We shall see.

I'm just an ordinary person whose ambition is to be as kind, as creative, and as happy as I can be on any given day. It's not aspirational, but it works for me.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


A recent conversation:

Maria: My guy friends don't really understand shopping.
The Fisherman: What do you mean?  I do shopping!  I'm good at shopping!
Maria: Maybe it would be fun to spend an afternoon shopping with you.
The Fisherman: A WHOLE AFTERNOON???  Are you crazy?  You go in a store, you buy what you need, and then you head down the street to Ruby Tuesdays for a cold one.
Maria: That's not "shopping," that's "buying."
The Fisherman: OK, then what's shopping?
Maria: Well, this is kind of my point...

Monday, May 07, 2012

What I'm Watching: Metropolis

I'll never be a film critic, Gentle Readers, partly because my preferences are for movies like The Princess Bride and not movies like Apocalypse Now.  I've experienced enough fear and violence to last me a lifetime; violence on the silver screen holds no glamour for me even if it is art.

But the major reason I can never be a film critic (or an art or theater critic) is because visual experiences enter my brain on a non-verbal level and then it's very difficult for me to talk or write about them.  The more moved I am by a piece of art or theater or cinema, the harder it is to discuss.

Which is exactly how I felt about the restored version of 1927 German film Metropolis.  It's an incredible, fully realized piece of art made all the more incredible because it is a silent film and the special effects are made out of sculpted models and incandescent lightbulbs.  And yet, the whole thing works beautifully.

Metropolis is a dystopian nightmare in which a few privileged people live and frolic in a futuristic industrial complex envisioned and overseen by one man while the rest of the population lives underground and works to keep the machinery of progress going in 10-hour shifts around the clock.

The filmmakers depict a deep suspicion of the idea of progress regardless of the human cost.  Replacing people with machines that have no heart or feelings only makes matters worse.  One human-like robot is introduced to the city and chaos ensues.

I'm not going to lie to you -- there's some disturbing imagery in this movie.  Audiences in 1927 would have recognized the Moloch Machine (2nd picture, above) as a metaphor for something requiring incessant and costly sacrifice; as a modern viewer, I thought of something entirely different (and all too real) as people marched to their fiery deaths.  I almost couldn't look at the children dressed essentially in prison garb reaching for salvation as the possibility of death loomed.  The writer and director could not have foreseen what would happen in their own country less than a generation later.  To modern eyes it's as horrifying as it is riveting.

And yet, in the middle of the nightmare there are some breathtakingly beautiful scenes -- like this one, in which Hel, the woman made from a machine, is an erotic dancer presented like a jewel in a Lalique crystal box.

Part of the beauty of this amazing film is that in the end, we are left with hope: belief in the strength of the human heart to overcome adversity.  The message is as true and important today as it was 85 years ago.

To read full reviews of this landmark film, click on the image links above and also here.  To go to the official site for the film, click here.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Words of Wisdom: Riley

Image: listal.com

I think I've seen every movie with the word princess in the title.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Here's the thing about creativity: if you want the Muse to show up for work every day (and I do), sometimes you've got to give her the afternoon off.  Let her sit in the back yard looking at pretty books or drawing silly things that are never intended to see the light of day.  My ancestors would call it "lollygagging;" however, I've learned that if you demand daily effort from the Muse without feeding her anything or letting her rest, she eventually coughs, coughs again, and keels over.

That's why I was delighted to find  Paris Flea Market: World Design by Herbert Ypma.  It's full of eye candy, pretty colors, and unusual collections.  Even though it was written in 1996, the homes featured in it are so unique and so quintessentially Parisian that they still look fresh and interesting today.  Let's face it -- the French are way ahead of us in the style department.

I'm also having a great time with Julie Nutting's Collage Couture.  The book shows you how to draw fashion figures and then create their clothing using collage techniques.  There are lots of mixed-media projects to try.  You know me: I'll probably learn a couple of techniques and then go off on my own and do what I want with them -- which pretty much explains in a nutshell why I got on my teachers' nerves when I was in school -- but it's a lot of fun.  It's like playing with paper dolls all over again.

There are also a couple of blogs that never fail to inspire me to be more creative and try new things.  One of them is Rhinestone Armadillo, written by Laura who is the wife of a totally hot guy, the mother of an adorable little girl (with another on the way), and she's a super-talented artist.  She's also gorgeous.  Wait a minute, why do I like her again?  (Ha.  I kid.)  She's always posting delicious looking meals, pictures of sewing and art projects, cute pictures of her daughter, and things that interest her.  I always leave her blog feeling inspired to live more creatively.

Photo: Hivenn

Another blog that always inspires me is by Elizabeth over at Hivenn.  She takes photos with actual film and then converts them to a digital format for her blog, so you already know she's a lot more patient and clever than I am.  Elizabeth is a lovely young woman living near London in the UK, and she always chooses the most interesting places to photograph.  She also takes lots photos of herself and her friends in all kinds of great outfits and with amazing makeup effects.  Her photos always inspire me to look more closely at the beauty of the world around me.

And finally, I can always count on Street Art Utopia to provide creative inspiration along with a big dose of humor (check out the Hipster Trap).  This website features photos of street art of all different styles from all over the world.

These are some of the things that help me when the Muse gets that tired, overworked feeling.  What inspires you?

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Oh, how I wish I'd been the creative person to come up with this idea.  Crafting with Cat Hair is exactly what it sounds like: a book about making felted and handsewn crafts out of cat hair.  I'm not saying I want to make any of these things; rather, I wish I were the person who wrote this book and is marketing it to a cat-loving public.  Think it's not selling?  Think again.  I found it featured prominently on the New Nonfiction shelf at my local library.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Kitschy Vintage Style

I found this little gem at a Kiwanis yard sale in Sandwich, MA on the way back from visiting Mosees in Barnstable, the shop that carries my handmade jewelry.  It was selling for $2 and I couldn't resist its kitschy vintage style.

There is something about the word authentic followed by Bermuda limbo dancers in quotation marks that makes me laugh.  Obviously its authenticity made it much more valuable as a souvenir.

The hallmark on the back is from Weatherby Hanley, a British pottery that according to my online research was founded in 1891 and closed in 2000.  They did a big souvenir and commemorative business in their heyday, so there are lots of vintage Weatherby Hanley giftware items with Queen Elizabeth's face on them available on Ebay and Etsy.

I think I'm going to use my little "pin dish" as it was intended -- as a spot to plunk my jewelry when I take it off. Yes, I own a jewelry box (two in fact), but somehow a few pieces land on my dresser anyway, especially if I'm tired or talking on the phone when I take them off.  Admit it, you do the same thing.

I've discovered that organizational systems are all well and fine as long as they conform to how I will actually use them.  Sometimes a little creativity is required.  Since I finally faced facts and placed a dish near the door as a spot to drop my keys, I've never had to search for them again.  Not even once.

Friday, April 13, 2012

New This Week at Sow's Ear Jewelry

It's non-stop creativity here at Old Maid HQ, and I've never been so happy to get out of bed in the mornings.

I've got a few new items in the shop this week, plus I've spent some time revamping photos for a few items already in stock. As time goes on, I learn more about photographing jewelry and I get a better idea of how I want the shop to look, so I review older listings to see how I can improve them.

I made one of these bracelets for myself a couple of weeks ago.  I love wearing it and have received lots of compliments, so I made a few styles to put in the shop.  I'm definitely going to make a some more for myself, too.  I really like how they look grouped together.

My sister Rachel bought a pair of these quite some time ago and I'm finally getting some into the shop.  Those are fancy chrome-plated lock washers that are used on motorcycles.  Very shiny!  This pair is 3 inches long from the top of the silvertone ear wire. 

This is the same style in a smaller (2 inch long) size.  Did you know they keep the chrome-plated fasteners under lock and key at the hardware store?  Neither did I, but they do.  I always feel like I'm asking to view the crown jewels when I have the case opened.

This is one of the pairs I've had in the shop for a while but I shot some new photos.  They are the same style and size as the previous earrings, but made from reclaimed zinc washers with a pretty matte patina.  I really like the contrast of the matte and shiny finish.
 Visit Sow's Ear Jewelry on Etsy for more information on these and other great designs!

Monday, April 09, 2012

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

I have some exciting news!  My jewelry is being carried at a shop called Mosees on Main Street in Barnstable, MA!  The owner contacted me after seeing my Etsy shop and asked if I'd like to include my work in her store.  After I finished jumping around the room squealing "Omigod!  Omigod!  Omigod!"  I emailed back that yes, that would be very nice.

I'm cool like that.

My mom and I took a ride to Cape Cod last Saturday to see the shop.  The owner, Maura Hempstead, is just lovely.  Super nice and friendly, she has a great eye and has filled her shop with gorgeous handmade clothing, gifts, and accessories.  She tells me there is lots more to come as the season progresses.

Here is my jewelry with my artist bio on the card above.  I was so excited to see it that I couldn't think straight.  I did refrain from jumping around and squealing "Omigod!" so that's something.

Next time you head to Cape Cod, stop by Mosees at 3261 Main Street in Barnstable.  You can find some really terrific and unique things there.

Friday, April 06, 2012

What I'm Watching: Top Hat

Image: IMDb.com

I've become a little obsessed lately with the movie Top Hat.  I got it from Netflix last week and over the course of three evenings I watched the movie twice along with all the special features. 

Top Hat has a basic movie musical plot: boy meets girl and falls in love at first sight.  Girl thinks he's a little too full of himself.  Boy pursues girl.  There is a case of mistaken identity and shenanigans ensue.  Boy gets girl in the end.  There is lots of singing and dancing along the way.

Top Hat was released in 1935 as a cheerful diversion for movie audiences during the Depression.  Seventy-seven years later, when modern life gets a little too crazy I want to dive into this movie and pull it in after me.

Who wouldn't want to live in a beautiful Art Deco apartment like this one?  Gorgeous clean lines, but not too modern and sparse... I love it.  Never mind that my apartment is like a lab for a creative mad scientist and tends to have things like teddy bears wearing do-rags lying around.  I like the idea of it even if I would mess up the execution.

Wouldn't it be nice to have a gentleman show up at my door dressed like this?  The gentlemen who come to my house generally show up in Timberland boots and drop clumps of mud on my floors.  Not that I'm mentioning any names.

The fashions for the women in this movie are nothing to sneeze at, either.

Well, this dress is the exception.  When Ginger first appeared in this, I wondered why a woman with such a lovely figure would want to look like Big Bird. Until I saw it move.  I stand corrected.

Of course, Ginger gets an amazing Art Deco apartment of her own.  I want that bed.  I need that bed.  I just know the quilted part is a lustrous silver satin.  Don't tell me it's anything different, Gentle Readers.  I hate it when we disagree.

More Art Deco gorgeousness.  I love everything about this picture: the elevator doors, Ginger's metallic dress with a sparkly jacket, and how cute and stylish Fred looks.  Who could resist falling in love with that guy?

In a film series noted for its Big White Sets, this is probably the ultimate -- an Art Deco version of Venice.  Isn't it beautiful?  I know Venice never looked like this.  I don't just want to live in the past, my friends.  I want to live in the fictional past. 

Images: GlamAmor.com  (A really cool vintage style blog.)

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Signs of Spring: 2012 Edition

Upon my return to the Ocean State, I was delighted to discover that spring had sprung.  Trees have flowers on them and the daffodils are dancing happily.  I also found a bird nesting in my mailbox.  I have no idea what kind it is -- it's a tiny buff-and-brown thing that makes a heckuva racket from the tree across the yard if I stand on my front steps too long.  I've only seen him fly out of the mailbox once, but the nest seems to be well-kept and tidy, so I assume he's living there full time.  Or she.

I don't think the mailman likes the new arrangement much, but he'll get over it.

My friends who live in warmer parts of the country might not understand how I can get so excited by green grass and some early spring flowers, but let me tell you: spring in New England can break your heart.  It can be cold and rainy well into June.  Western Rhode Island woke up to a sprinkling of snow this past Sunday.  Snow!  In April -- and no, this is not a belated April Fool's joke.

Thank goodness I live in an area that tends to be a little more temperate than other parts of the state.  If I'd awakened to snow on Sunday morning, I'd have been cranky indeed. And none of us want that.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Dept of Home Economics: Saving Money on Breakfast

When did breakfast cereal -- even the kind you have to make the effort to cook -- get to be so expensive?  That's what I wanted to know the last time I went shopping for steel cut oats.  Find out how I saved big over at My Life In Food: A Culinary "Art" Journal.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Tucson 2012: Pima Air & Space Museum

I said "Give me some sexy hip action," and by golly, she did.

On one of the days during my trip to Tucson, AZ, we visited the Pima Air & Space Museum to see an exhibit featuring airplane parts and other flight-related things that had been decorated by local artists.  The BFF was excited to see a Waco biplane from the 1930s that was very similar to one she flew in with her highschool sweetheart.  She's led a very interesting life.

The Pima Air and Space Museum covers 80 acres, with 5 hangars and a boneyard with over 300 aircraft including John F. Kennedy's Air Force One.  You used to be able to take a tour of it, but the museum had to stop allowing it because people kept breaking off pieces to keep as souvenirs.  For real.

In the Dorothy Finley Space Gallery, you can see the mockup of the interior of the Apollo 13 capsule that was used in the Apollo 13 movie and lots of other cool things.  I enjoyed walking through the gallery and thinking back to when I was a kid in school and the teachers would wheel televisions into the classrooms so we could watch lunar launches and splashdowns.  Yes, Gentle Readers, I am really that old.

For you kids out there, monkeys were sent up in spaceships before people were to find out what the physical effects of space travel would be.  Unfortunately, my research on Wikipedia indicates that most of them died.  This piece honoring the brave monkeys of the early days of space exploration was painted by a local artist and is part of the exhibit in the main hangar.

But on to happier topics.  Isn't this pretty?  I love the finial glued on the top that completely transforms what looks like it might have been a bomb casing.

More cool thingamajigs.  I loved how each piece was unique to the artist who made it. 

This is another section of the same grouping.

Even I know this is the front part of an airplane.  I really loved the layers of print on this one. 

Bonus photo of the cute little Miss Baby Bird!

We ended up seeing only a fraction of what the museum had to offer because we had an infant and a nonagenarian with us.  But honestly, I don't think you can see all 80 acres in one day anyway.  I definitely want to go back the next time I'm in Tucson.