Welcome to my "Happy Things" blog. Here I post any new jewelry items I've made
and share some of the 'happy things' I appreciate in daily life.
I hope you find something that brings a smile and please visit my online handmade jewelry shop
where my pieces are available:


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Starfish Dreams: Earth and the Sea

I'm quite smitten with the most recent addition to my online shop!

Toward the end of last summer, I found myself entering the starfish craze. Since Ohio is not near the ocean, I've never been one to go crazy over the "ocean" or "beach" themed things. Sure, I love them as much as the next person, and absolutely wear them while on vacation at the beach, but had been missing the sweetness a tiny touch of the sandy beach can bring to everyday life, even here in Ohio. It's no secret that I love "earthy" ... and I find it's quite delightful to use little bits of the beach, with some of the more rustic, textural elements. 

I've had this selection of stones for some time in my stash. I've always appreciated them ... so much so, that I was afraid I would "under-use" them in a design. I wanted to make sure they were utilized in such a way to bring out the wonderful texture and earthy shades prominently enough to do them justice. I've also always loved this ivory lampwork glass design. Originally, I had full sets of it in different shapes and sizes and enjoyed using every single piece! I'm down to the last few rounds and thought one was just perfect for a special touch in this design. 

While I love the theme and detail in the beautiful elements, my favorite aspect of this piece is probably how "rich and luxurious" the finished design is. Clean ivories, mixed with a depth of earth, crowned with warm and shiny mixed metals. Ooh la la! 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Special Little Surprise Sale - maybe a bit of sunshine?!

I've had a lot of people visiting my shop and taking a peek at these two items lately! Admiring, re-visiting ... mulling the decision over whether to purchase or not, whether the price is right, whether the time is right. I know that feeling of visiting and re-visiting something you would like to have, but for one reason or another, just aren't sure you can get right now! 

Well, I thought I'd surprise some of the "visitors" with a little price break. I've taken 15% off both of these items for a short time, just in case it helps someone say "Yes!". I thought it would be a nice surprise for someone when they come back to the shop next time, to find a little good news & sunshine waiting for them.   :)  I know I would love that!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

On the way ...

A quickie post today ... just to share a few fabulous new pendants I just ordered from Heather Powers at HumbleBeads!

I saw these last night and just haven't been able to take my mind off of them! I was thinking of purchasing just two of them, but loved all three. I justified splurging for the 3rd, because I'll probably keep one and that will take me back down to my original "two" I intended to purchase, to design something for the shop or a show with. [How many times have I said, "I'm going to keep one for myself" ?! All the time - and I never end up keeping one! I guess that's better than the other way around - saying I'll sell them and then keeping them for myself. ;) ha-ha! ]

I love blues and greens, and I'm expecting some new lampwork to arrive in these shades soon. My favorite combination ... ceramics and lampwork glass, I can't wait to receive them and get started! Yum!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Hoarding - the confession

Hoarding ... this is literally what I've been doing with a wonderful stash of beach stones, for a year now! I've always loved the "river rock", "beach stone" thing ... and had dreamed of creating jewelry with some. Perfect designs, that are versatile and can easily be worn with many different things. Pieces that bring a unique touch to your look, definitely custom, and wonderfully neutral, yet interesting. Love them, love them, love them! Last year, I was able to shop for some in person, and was BEYOND delighted! 

The whole purchase experience should've given me a hint of what was to come. I almost broke out in a sweat, looking over all these wonderful organically shaped stones ... trying to decide what and how many to get. I had an idea for every single thing I saw. I loved every single one I saw. I wanted singles. I wanted coordinating groups. I almost had a meltdown! I couldn't even get my mind focused to decide how much I should spend on them at one time. I finally settled down enough to select a handful of tiny pebbles for bracelets, some matching pairs for earrings, as well as a few nicely sized focals. It pains me even now, to think back about the others I left there ... I should've known I would not be able to let them go!

I admire them weekly, thinking about how great it will be when I can wear them. But for a year, they've sat. You see, I have a real problem making jewelry for myself. Every time I finish a piece that would be perfect for me, or one that I'm really in love with for one reason or another ... I can't let myself keep it. I keep thinking, "If I love it this much, then surely someone else will love it too ... and that would be one more sale ... so I really need to let it go". It's like I would be wasting it if it stayed with me. -I know, it's a little nutsy. After all, a woman who designs this much jewelry, should be able to wear a piece or two of it herself! Although I couldn't bring myself to keep them, I also couldn't bring myself to let them go! And so the hoarding was in full swing.

I was digging through my stash the other day, amidst a driven intention to use materials that have been around for a while, and came across some great lampwork glass. Some were tiny - perfect for earrings, other pieces were more medium-focal sized. I instantly had visions of some great beach-themed jewelry, that was neutral enough to be worn in a  "non-beachy" way. I made myself pull out the stones and had THE BEST time working with them as I brought my visions to life!

I'm really happy with the way the pieces I've completed so far, have turned out. I think each piece nicely complements both the stone and lampwork components of the designs. I believe I was able to successfully get past the hoarding, because in the back of my mind I kept thinking ... "since they're kind of beachy and I'm posting them online, I'm sure they'll be around for a while - so I can still enjoy them". That's the problem with making almost entirely one-of-a-kind jewelry designs ... once they're gone, they're gone! 

I'm not sure if this is a confession, or something to make myself feel better by getting it "out", since I'm letting them go! It's funny how we can create emotional stress for ourselves in our minds - I'm the queen of it! Thanks for stopping by & have a great day!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Decisions, decisions!

Drooling, I scurried to open the package of these wonderfully earthy, picasso beads when the mail arrived the other day. My mind had been racing since I placed the order for the special bead mix, but mostly I wanted to see the warm, earthy colors for myself and hold them in my own hands. (jewelry is so wonderfully tactile!)

Two designs were on my mind ... a necklace and a bracelet. The eclectic mix of shapes, earth hues and texture were calling me to find the perfect ceramic pendant, or maybe a great rustic metal focal, to create a warm and wonderful necklace.

I could also see a great bracelet, one that was warm and mixed with metals ... one that you wear because you love the feeling it gives you when you look at it - whether it matches your outfit or not! I let a day or two pass to mull over my design ideas now that I had the wonderful materials in my hands ... and was surprised by what I actually did with them!

As wonderful as the necklace and bracelet would have been, I was drawn in the end to create four sets of earrings! Warm, rustic, rich and slightly sophisticated in that chic "JJill kind of way" ... each pair could be worn with so many different things. I felt that each design set, came out with a style that could be subtle and muted, while making a great statement in a quiet, intriguing sort of way. The kind of earrings that once people notice, they take a second look to appreciate the detail.

I photographed them in the "new look" (discussed in my last post) and I'm hoping they show online okay. They're in my shop ... so hopefully someone will fall in love with the earthy, rustic look, like I did! As always, thanks for stopping by!!

Online Shop:  MyHappyThings.etsy.com

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Trying something different

Selling your jewelry designs online can be much more difficult than one might think. It's very difficult to convey all the qualities of your design in photographs ... especially if you're not a skilled photographer! It's a challenge to make people comfortable enough with what they see online, to go ahead and make the purchase. So many people who have looked at my jewelry online tell me, "Your jewelry is beautiful online, but it's GORGEOUS in person! You can't pass them up once you've seen them!". While it's very complimentary, it's also frustrating. What's the magic formula, to make my specific jewelry style work online??!!

I have always known that I want to convey the style & feel of my jewelry in the photos I post online. I've been using a natural wood for my background since opening my shop, as it gives a touch of the "Coldwater Creek, JJill, Chico's, Silpada" style that I've always loved. I think my designs have a touch of this style, and so I felt the background was well-suited for presenting and conveying my pieces. While fans of my designs tell me they like the presentation, I still have been dissatisfied with the blandness and lack of color and crispness, in my photos. It was just missing something. While I was very appreciative of a very successful holiday sales season overall, I couldn't help but have the feeling that people struggled with knowing whether my jewelry was "very nice", or "nice enough" from my online photos. I started designing jewelry from a budget-friendly perspective, and am still at the point in my career where I need to sell, sell, sell! So the price doesn't always indicate the quality.

I've been searching and searching to find what it is my photos have been missing; what it might take to "upgrade" them, to more appropriately convey the quality of my designs. I think I've come to the conclusion that the wood must go, and something that provides a little more sophistication, without being too stark or shiny, must replace it. 

I had just finished a few new pieces of jewelry that I love, love, love! Not only are they TOTALLY "me" ... but they're crafted with unique, artisan, quality elements. After packaging and shipping the designs I was sending with my lampwork glass artist friend to this weekend's show, I turned to the new earrings and necklace and decided now was the time to try the change. So this is what I've come up with. I like that it's still neutral, but has a bit of warmth - like my designs - but is not too distracting. I like the stones, and that I could use other items as subtle hints of the feel or theme of the piece, without distracting or vastly changing the look of my photos, keeping them cohesive. I think the photos in this setting give the designs some prominence, and set them apart a bit ... letting you know they're special, and [hopefully] conveying handcrafted, artisan quality. 

... but I'm not sure ... !!!

I thought I'd try these and let them "sit" for a while. Feel free to let me know what you think, if you have an opinion! You're welcome to leave a comment, or email me at: MyHappyThingsHi@aol.com

So glad you stopped by, thank you very much!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

What? Ahead of schedule?

I design jewelry for a lampwork artist. When she takes her lampwork glass beads to bead & jewelry shows, she finds that she sells more beads when she has jewelry displayed. The more jewelry she has displayed, the more ideas people get and the more likely they are to purchase some beads, and quite often, a few different sets. At first, this baffled me. The beads are gorgeous all by themselves. I always tell her that if I don't have an idea off the top of my head for a bead or bead set, then I can lay her bead down on the table and just 'spend time with it ... and it talks to me'. Now - I'm not a voo-doo kind of person, nor one who listens to spirits or anything. I just really love thinking creatively about things that I think are pretty, or have some qualities I like ... and envisioning what they could become. It's kind of like I close my eyes and see what I'm thinking the piece "feels like". Then I try to turn that "feeling" into a vision, by attaching colors, shapes and sizes to the feeling's vision. Next of course, is identifying, recognizing and choosing the materials that fill that vision and bring a tactile element to the vision.

After she told me how much my jewelry helps to sell the beads, I started to notice how I also often am drawn to samples in stores or online, to jumpstart the creativity, or provide some frame of reference for a new material. And so our relationship goes where I use her beads in whatever designs I can dream up, and they are displayed at her shows and are for sale as well. I am grateful for the opportunity for the sales (and the fun to free-design!), because my boys are still a bit young for me to be able to get away to do shows myself very often. 2-3 local one day fall shows are all I manage right now in person.

In typical "Susan style", I'm usually last minute getting my designs together for her. I'm down to the wire finishing up projects, or thinking up a design for one last bead, with just enough time to price it, pack it all up and ship it, in time for her to receive it before she leaves for her next show. I think some of what I design for her is my best work, because I'm not as worried about finding someone to buy it ... I feel more free to just "do whatever" and follow my creativity. But due to my "last minute" nature, I rarely get to offer these pieces in my online shop. Most of the time, the designs will sell at the shows and I'm continually making up something new to send (last minute, of course!). Well for some reason, I have two necklaces done early this time! Of course, that may be because they just missed my shipping deadline for the show she's at this weekend ... but I'm going to go ahead and call these "done early" anyway! ;) 

In the blue piece, I love how the ceramic's dark teal blues have a shimmery quality to them, in a somewhat whimsical design. I think it relates wonderfully to the presentation of the same colors in the lampwork glass bead. I love how the bead is an organic shape, so it's a bit more "free form" like the whimsical swirls, but yet the measured dots across the center offer some uniformity. I think it makes for a nice balance, but is still fun and intriguing. The satin cord kumihimo braid takes the piece in an aquatic, "aquarius" kind of direction in my eye.

The brown necklace has a wonderful sense of warmth. Earthy, natural, woody, it offers open arms for a nice hug. The natural imprints of leaves on my artist friend Helen O'Donnell's pendant, along with the wonderful caramel-y woody colors she used in her glazes, leads naturally to a mish-mash of natural woods and stone. The interestingly shaped Kazuri bead stops the eye, to take notice of the wonderful, surprising flashes of blues and greens across the surface of the lampwork glass round. I love the opportunity to add something special at the transition to chain on one side ... and in this instance, I felt a little cluster of wood, stone & crystal, hinting at the colors from the rest of the piece were just perfect. I love that this piece can be worn at varying lengths. I'm big on sweaters in the winters here in Ohio, and I love to have a substantial, earthy piece to add something special to a sweater and jeans. By being able to adjust the length, you can find the perfect placement with your cardigan, heavy wool sweater, turtleneck or even open neck blouse or tee. 

I'm thrilled I have them ready with enough time to share them in my shop. Enjoy!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Ready for Valentine's Day

On Tuesday 1/3, I wrote about some new ceramic hearts and plans to create something for Valentine's Day this year (for a change!). Well, here's the finished product ... a warm, earthy and sweet ceramic bracelet! I really like how this piece looks soft, while being chunky and earthy at the same time. I put together this mix of Kazuri beads (I mentioned previously this week that I needed a Kazuri fix - so here they make another appearance!) and I love the qualities each bead color offers. The pinks are a soft, muted shade of almost muddy pink. The ivory rounds have earthy dots that give it an "oatmeal" appearance ... so cool to be crisp & clean ivory, but in an earthy way! One set of brown rounds are smooth and almost matte - reminding you of the surface of a Milk Dud ... but finished with a softly shimmery coating. The last set of rounds are a brown metallic, which were just the right touch to throw in the mix. In my eye, the repeated shape of the rounds ties them to the others, but the metallic finish brings a pop and differentiates. Opposite the heart, I used an egg-shaped Bulgarian ceramic bead that is a perfect, gorgeous brown background with the cutest white polka dots across the surface. I felt like this piece not only balanced the heart across the circle of the bracelet, but also provided another element of "cute" and "sweet" to the design, to support the heart. A few dots of silver and a Tierracast lock & key toggle clasp to insinuate the "key to your heart", were perfect to finish the design. And of course, a little dainty silver heart charm, for a special little "extra". I make most of my bracelets in the 7-8" size range. But when I aligned this design and was satisfied with it, it measured a little smaller than usual. I went ahead and left it at a 6.75" fit, because I do have people with smaller wrist sizes inquire about shortening some of my pieces. So hopefully, this will find its way to someone who will enjoy it. I certainly enjoyed creating it!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Stop for the details

I found this gorgeous, macro photography piece in an artist's shop called 
"Smokin Mud Production" on Etsy. 
The reflection of the tree can be seen in the water droplet, delicately hanging on for the last few seconds, to a frail branch. This amazes me. I'm amazed that the tiny water droplet is capable of providing a reflection like this. I'm amazed that the photographer was still enough, detailed enough and observant enough to notice it. I'm amazed that the camera lens is capable of picking up this detail so clearly, and that the camera and media can capture the image, then relay it for us so crystal clearly. Amazing. 

I love to discover something special like this. I'm not a quiet, nor a still person. I'm a last minute, run here, run there, grab this, dump that, kind of person. But since having children, I've found that at different stages and seasons, I've been required to slow down, sit down and be still. Watch someone else. Listen. Pay attention to everything. Notice little things, watch out for things and be patient. Much of this has come while sitting and watching the boys play outside. Although we live in a somewhat country, private setting, we're still overly protective about the boys playing outside and their safety. So my lawn chair has gotten quite  a bit of sit-time over the past few years, as the boys have grown through various stages of needing supervision and help. 

I usually have my camera with me, since I'm a scrapbooker. (at least I used to be, before jewelry took over much of my free time!) I started to notice little details in nature, that are right outside my front door, or in the side yard. And how the same branch, grass, tree bark, etc. can look so different across the seasons ... and how various elements of nature can bring exciting and breathtaking characteristics and views, in everyday things. One fall evening a year or two ago, as the sun was setting I was sitting on my front steps while the boys played in the last bit of the sun's warmth for that day. I looked over to a small, unassuming bush beside my front porch, and the sun was hitting this one single leaf beautifully. It was one of only 3 leaves left on the bush. I gazed at it through my camera, and found that what the camera lens saw, was even more detailed and beautiful than my eye was seeing! This was when I first started to appreciate "the camera's eye" and what photography is all about. 

 I'm not a technical enough person, to stay focused through a photography course, or I'd definitely spend some time taking classes. I'm amazed by great photography. And it's the pictures of "practically nothing" or " a little thing" that I love the most. While I realize I'm no photographer, nor does my photo even begin to compare to the fascinating raindrop photo above ... I still think it's really beautiful, and I'm amazed that I captured it so successfully! Everytime I see this picture, I'm reminded to slow down, look, listen and focus outside myself. Then wonder in amazement at how what I see, hear and come to learn, can be absorbed to enrich my life. And of course it reinforces my love for appreciating the details ... because there's so much around us that we're missing!

What does all of this have to do with jewelry? I guess not much. On the other hand, it's kind of the same appreciation I have for jewelry design, and great jewelry materials. The effect an artisan ceramic or lampwork glass piece can have, is amazing. The special sparkle a crystal can give off when the light hits it just right can brighten your day. The glow of a backlit gem or colored glass with a cool metal can warm you, with that cozy, mystical, yet comforting feeling. So I felt inspired to share my thoughts when I found this photo. If nothing else, I hope you enjoy the raindrop phenomena like I do!

Enjoy the day!

Simplify bracelets


Although I am far from a "simple-type" person, when it comes to throwing on a great piece of jewelry, I often times honestly would prefer something fabulous & simple. A great stone, a cool design or material or a favorite color can be just the right touch for your look. I'm finally getting some of my "Simplify" bracelets posted online. 

So popular and never around for long, people love the great look and the affordable price. Stack two or three together to customize your look to complete any outfit.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Shades of Green Kazuri Bracelet

Kazuri beads, are handcrafted by disadvantaged members of society in Kenya. Crafted from clay around the Mt Kenya area, they are a kaleidoscope of African colors and Kenyan art. An opportunity to receive training to hand make and hand paint the ceramic beads, often provides means for an extended Kenyan family of 20 or more. "Kazuri" is Swahili for 'small and beautiful'.

Every so often, I feel the need to seek out some new Kazuri beads. I've designed with plenty over time and have stashed some away, waiting for a special project or idea. They have such a distinctive look, and have wonderful colors and patterns. They're like no other ceramic beads and are as special as the story behind them. 

My latest design is this earthy green and blue bangle bracelet. I've made more "blingy" things than usual due to the holiday season, and I think I needed an "earthy" fix! I was so drawn to the soothing, and fresh but somehow warm, shades of green and blue in these beads. I carefully mulled over the display of Kazuri beads in a local bead store, looking at bead after bead, enjoying every one thoroughly. There were so many wonderful shades of greens and blues, but the elongated diamond paddles (on the sides) caught my eye. Originally, I planned to center a diamond paddle and build out from there. But then I spotted the asymmetric design of the coin, with the peacock-type teal "eye" off-center. It was perfect for the "something different and unexpected" element of the piece and I knew I wanted it to be the focal. 

At my worktable, I laid my design out and reached for the stringing wire. As I began to think about what clasp I would use, I was picturing something asymmetrical and "different". I decided to string the beads onto heavy gauge sterling silver wire as a bangle, then clasp it with some chunky chain links and a handcrafted spiral wire hook. Perfect!

Be happy and enjoy 2012!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Hearts & Valentine's Day

Typically, Valentine's Day sneaks up on me and the day of, or day after I think "Gee, I should've made something themed for Valentine's Day!" I don't know why I'm never thinking ahead about this holiday. Well this year, I'm in front of the 8 ball. I came across these lovely little handcrafted ceramic hearts. I'm always drawn to using ceramic elements in jewelry. The handcrafted artisan element appeals to me, but I also love the qualities ceramics provide. Beautiful irregular shades of color across the piece, texture yet a smooth shine. It has that wonderfully earthy quality, while still bringing us brilliantly subdued mixes and shades of color. When I came across these sweet little earthy hearts, I knew I had to create something for Valentine's Day with them. They're on my design board, ready for some action ... and I hope to get to spend some time on them yet this week!

A necklace in waiting

Just got back from what was supposed to be a "quick trip" to a bead store. Of course I went in to grab 2 items, but once my eyes gazed across all that texture and color, my mind started racing! Amidst a myriad of ideas and inspiration, I decided that a great turquoise necklace for the shop was in order. I put together these beauties and knew this was what I had in mind! Can't wait to start working on it while my little one sleeps this afternoon.  Turquoise stones are a relatively new love of mine. I never was a big turquoise fan before, but lately it seems like the stone is so versatile to me! You can where a great turquoise necklace with just about any color ... and I especially love it with black or gray. Whether a simple turquoise piece that quietly complements what you are wearing, or a powerhouse style that makes a statement with your look ... every girl needs some slammin' turquoise!