Sunday, August 31, 2008

Do you hear the people sing?

Yesterday I went to see Les Miz, my sixth (or is it seventh?) time. However, be it first or seventh time, hearing the opening strains still brought me chills, as the curtain rose on Jean Valjean and the chain gang in 1815 France. And first or seventh, the songs still have the power to stir me to the soul, and the wedding scene still makes me sad because it means the story is almost over.

The last time I saw Les Miz was on Broadway when I went with my sis on a cold weekend in February. This time it was performed on an outdoor ampitheater, and I was surprised to see that many of the cast came from the Broadway production. The only two things I had a beef about with this production were, one, the stage was on the smaller side so the barricades looked a little puny, and, more importantly, there was no turntable on which the barricades rested. The turntable is a major component of Les Miz. It lost something without it. And since it was an outdoor matinee, the sunlight competed with the stage lights so we didn't get the full, dramatic effect.

But all in all, still a great performance! And still my all-time favorite musical ever.

Some pictures of the ampitheater - on a perfect, and perfectly hot, late summer afternoon.

It was a wonderful way to end the summer...

Friday, August 29, 2008

New in the shop

The Nicole earrings, named after one of my style icons, Nicole Richie. You know it! She is similar to the Audrey earrings but adorned with very pretty green quartz brios. Now available!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

On their way to Philly

The big order of the "Leslie" earrings are finished, packed, shipped, and are currently on their way to Philadelphia and to the ears of their new owners. I had a very tight turnaround time on these babies so I am relieved to usher them on their way. Thanks again to Jennifer for supporting my shop, and I hope you have a gorgeous wedding!

I have several projects currently on my plate awaiting attention. If you're one of my customers waiting for a piece of Hazel Designs bling, it should be coming your way soon!

Monday, August 25, 2008

First Blogoversary!

First, my most recent sales!

Second, today is my first blogoversary! Whoo hoo! I was looking at my very first post that I wrote a year ago today and marveling at how far I've come in a year. Most telling in my growth? My photography skills - just compare the awful, awful photos I took during those first few months of blogging and you'll know what I mean.

The goal when I started my blog was, first, to motivate me to keep producing so I would be able to open my Etsy store. The second was to catalog my progress through pictures and descriptions. The third was to promote my work and store. Blogs are a great marketing tool, apparently. And along the way, I wanted to keep a log of the other adventures that came along for the ride.

So to all of my readers, customers, family and friends, thanks as always for your support!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Hard at work

These are for the wedding in Philadelphia. I'm halfway there - four more pairs to go!

Friday, August 22, 2008

New business cards

My new business cards have arrived! They are so pretty. I was running low on the old ones and found out upon trying to re-order that they have been discontinued. So I got these instead! The back has a different full-length photo per card, while the front has all the information.

These photos are a great touch because every time I handed out the old cards to someone their first question would inevitably be, "What kind of jewelry do you make?" This way, they can see it instantly without having to go online. Variety and efficiency.

The pictures are very clear, crisp, the colors true and bright, almost glowing. And the paper is heavy - laminated and everything. I love them!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Up to my elbows

I'm currently very busy with custom orders.

In addition to my friend Camille's bridesmaids' jewelry, I've just finished a necklace commissioned by a good friend's mom. It turned out to be quite pretty and I will be posting photos soon. I'm also waiting on materials for a blue bracelet made of kyanite, which was ordered by someone as a surprise gift. And, last week I received an Etsy convo from a bride in Philadelphia who ordered six pairs of the ever-popular Leslie earrings, as well as an additional three similar, but smaller, pairs for her flower girls and a junior bridesmaid.

I feel so privileged that she picked me! She is now my second bride to commission pieces and I'm really excited about it.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Venetian mysteries

This summer I've immersed myself in Venice. Specifically, in the wonderful Commisario Guido Brunetti mystery series by the extremely talented author Donna Leon. I can't get enough of these books.

Set in modern day Venice, they star the astute, sophisticated, yet sensitive and oddly humble police detective Guido Brunetti, who loves art, architecture, good food, wine, and books about ancient wars. Though the mysteries themselves are exciting whodunits, I read these books mainly for the evocative setting.

There are paragraphs and pages of Guido wandering the streets of Venice, going up and down its narrow alleyways, stopping for a glass of wine and a mineral water at a cafe, or taking a vaporetto to a palazzo to interview a suspect. I feel privileged to tag along on these tours. This series is just like "Law & Order," except it's not. I love the contrast between the familiar police procedural against the exotic backdrop of Venice, where the police take police boats, or "launches," to crime scenes instead of squad cars, and the vagaries of Italian life are examined in all their wonderful idiosyncratic glory.

And all the descriptions of the food! Fresh pasta with shaved truffles, liver with polenta, lamb with rosemary and red wine. There isn't a chapter that goes by where Leon doesn't offer up loving descriptions of all kinds of delicious dishes, resulting in me raiding the fridge afterwards. These books make me hungry.

At the end, though I've never been, I feel like I now know Venice really, really well. Palazzo Roma, Murano, The Lido, the market at Rialto - they seem like old friends.

Run, don't walk, to Amazon or your nearest local public library. I promise you'll end up gobbling them all in one sitting like I did.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Amethyst ring

Here is an amethyst bezel ring that I finished today. It's very slender and petite, the amethyst measuring at 6mm. I used 16g sterling silver wire for the band. I think it turned out pretty well!

I'm not quite ready to sell this ring yet, though once I do, it will be a custom order since the size will need to be specified for each customer. The sizing is mainly the reason I am not offering this yet. It took me several tries to get the correct size for my finger, even though I did all the things I was supposed to do in order to get accurate measurements. So, I need to practice some more.

But I am looking forward to making more of this!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Hand-stamped metal disc earrings

I am so, so excited about these new earrings. I've been working on them for weeks, but I couldn't get them right. Until, finally!

These incorporate a lot of the skills I learned in my metal class. I didn't get a chance to try out many of the techniques during class because of time constraints, but I had this idea floating around in my head pretty much for the whole month of July. I wasn't sure if I would be skilled enough to make the idea come to fruition just yet, but it all came together.

These LOVE earrings are made of silver discs, hand-cut from 18g sterling silver sheet metal and domed using a dapping block. They are hand-stamped with the word "LOVE" and then soldered onto handmade earwires.

I look at it and think - whoa, I made this - the whole thing - all by myself, by hand!

I am planning a whole series of these, with different words.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Circle pendant necklace

New in the shop! This is the matching "Audrey" necklace, made with a slightly bigger sterling silver pendant. Forged, hammered, soldered, and polished by hand, she hangs from a sterling silver chain approximately 16" long.

Check out Audrey in the shop, and while you're doing that, take note of the dress form pictures. My friends were joking before how they felt like they were being inappropriate looking at the naked dress form, so I put a tank top on her to cover up her choice bits.

Then it made me realize that this is actually another platform for my fashion creativity! The possibilities of the different looks I can put together with different clothes plus different jewelry are endless! Oh, the joy!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Olympic demigod

Mr Hazel and I have been tuning in every night to the Games, riveted as we watch Michael Phelps chase down Mark Spitz's gold medal count. Tonight we watched him twice as he won the 200m butterfly and then, less than an hour later (isn't he exhausted?) the 800m relay, his 11th total gold medal. He needs just three more to beat Mark Spitz's record of seven golds in a single Olympic Games.

In a word, wow.

See his muscles? His shoulders are the length of my whole body. His wing span is probably 8 feet long. His chest is massive, bigger than a boulder. And apparently he eats 10,000 calories per day.

The dude is not human.

Watching all these elite swimmers, I was inspired to tell Mr Hazel that I would also love to be an Olympic swimmer. The only problem is I "swim" with a noodle. So he said the noodle would probably slow me down. So much for breaking world records.

Monday, August 11, 2008


Over the weekend we were at another birthday party for an equally special person, and on the way home, we saw this deer. It ran from the road to the lawn of that house, and, being a city kid, I of course had to take a picture as proof of its existence. But it was too fast for me so all I could get was this tiny rendition of it running away.

Also, being a city kid, I freaked out. Whoa...deer!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Hammered circle earrings

New in the shop - the first of my metalsmithing pieces!

These are "Audrey" from As You Like It (hey, that's a fitting name provenance!) featuring a pair of hand-forged sterling silver circles, subsequently soldered, hammered, and polished.

I debated using my brand new tumbler that I am dying to try out, but as these are smaller pieces I couldn't justify doing the whole elaborate set-up that is required. I also wanted to practice finishing pieces by hand. So, I will save the tumbling for when I have more pieces completed.

Audrey is now available!

Design fun

This Wordle thing is pretty addictive.

Type in a bunch of words and watch them form into different colors and layouts, or put in a blog's URL and watch it form a word cloud based on that blog's content. These are some of the ones I came up with. The first one kind of reminds me of my wedding invitation.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Late to the party

But I finally got there!

Recently I was perusing the Etsy forums - particularly the thread on how to promote your business - and the general consensus seems to be that sellers should increase both their work's and their store's presence online as much as possible.

To that end, a lot of sellers on Etsy have Flickr accounts as well as accounts on one of the social networking sites.

So, now you can also find Hazel Designs both on Flickr and Facebook! I also added in a nifty Flickr badge on the left-hand sidebar of my blog, featuring photos of my jewelry.

Please come visit me there!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

An afternoon at the park

I tried posting these pictures the other day but Blogger was down, so here they are today.

Last Sunday, we spent a beautiful summer day at the park, attending a birthday party for a very special person. The park was great because they had a lot of things going on, including ballroom dance classes, a children's theater, a beautiful carousel, and crafts.

This funny building is a pottery studio and gallery. Hard to tell from the picture, but it's shaped like a giant mushroom.

Pottery pieces for sale. They had some very creative ones.

I enjoyed looking at these.

A calligraphy studio, complete with an "artist-in-residence." It looked more like a witch's hut to me.

I like this ramshackle, rundown building. Not sure exactly what it was before or what it is now, but it has an interesting air of neglect that I wanted to capture.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


I received notice today that I got accepted into SRAJD (Self-Representing Artist Jewelry Designer). I am officially member # 1878!

SRAJD is a community of artists, as well as an organization for artists, that promotes buying handmade jewelry versus mass-produced jewelry (there's a big difference!).

An SRAJD member sells the jewelry they designed and created. That means you can only place this logo on your own handmade creations - no mass production and no middlemen/women allowed.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Chalcedony earrings

Finally, a new shop item! I've been so preoccupied with my metal stuff lately that I've been neglecting all the wire-working and beads. So to make up for that, I have these new earrings for you.

The other week I was reading something about Emily Dickinson in the paper (I can't remember what it was exactly), but it brought to mind how obsessed I was with her in my teens. She was my absolute favorite poet at the time (I guess to be accurate, it was both her and Lord Tennyson). I couldn't read enough of her work or about how strange and weird her life was. So I decided to name these new earrings Emily, in her honor!

Sky blue chalcedony brios and rice pearls, all dangling from handmade sterling silver earwires. Emily is now available!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Weekend lunch

Blogging is a funny activity because it seems to be more of a lifestyle thing than something you do at the end of the day or when you have a free moment. At least, that's how it has become for me. For instance, I now find myself toting my camera everywhere I go, even if it's just local, in anticipation of finding something cool or interesting to snap a photo of and blog about it afterwards.

Case in point, today we went to an adorable little cafe for lunch and it was so pretty that I was glad I brought the camera along.

We sat outside on the patio.

They had a pretty little garden.

Yummy sandwich.

Afterwards I had a red velvet cupcake - the main reason for coming here to begin with.

And my favorite photo of all: after lunch we stopped by the grocery store, and in the parking lot, saw the most awesome car antenna ever.

And that's what you call...ghetto chic.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Inside my toolbox

I never, ever thought I would get so excited about tools, much less wax poetic about them. Tools.

But almost every day this week, it's been like Christmas with the arrival of a new type of metalsmithing tool on my doorstep, and I haven't been able to contain myself.

Because I'm such a klutz, tools have always scared me. I had visions of breaking my toes or drilling through my fingers (it can still happen, knock on wood) so I never showed much interest in the wrenches and hammers and drills Mr Hazel uses to tinker around the house with.

But now, I'm beguiled by tools. Yes - beguiled. Girly Hazel, who loves manicures and pretty dresses and high heels and sparkly diamonds - loves her new manly man tools.

I keep looking at them and touching each one lovingly, excited at the prospect of what I can make with them.

I think I've gone crazy!

Here is the inside of my toolbox:

My new dapping set!

My letter punches!

My disc cutters!