Simple Pleasures

Tourmaline Rock on a Rope

Yesterday was a great day.

Hui.2 decided to take an early nap and Hui.1 woke up late.  So we started our day around 10:30am, had breakfast, then ventured into the studio where we watched Teddy Ruxpin, cuddled, and I actually got to sit at my workbench.  Hui.2 was still fast asleep (I kept checking on him because I was paranoid) and after flipping through my stone book, I decided I needed to make myself a Rock on a Rope with a ruby for some extra vitality.  I wanted to add some morganite to it for some Divine Love, but how could I make them work together?  My favorite design didn’t fit my needs at the moment.  I wanted a single, solitary stone, but I also wanted to reap the rewards of both stones.  Hmm.

Morganite and Aquamarine

It’s still a Rock on a Rope, even though I added a single morganite bead to the end of the extender chain!  Ding ding ding!  And of course, I felt the need to make it in rose gold.  Perfect!  I haven’t made anything for myself lately, so this was a nice treat.  I also added a solitary, faceted rose quartz to hang out with the morganite.  Divine Love, romantic love, and vitality is a powerful concoction.  This strand of rubies is very special and I’ve only taken 2 beads so far, with very specific intentions.  The first one I made as a tester bracelet with some Chinese Knots and chain.  Again, a very simple design with the knots framing the stone (like most things, I need to make more and take photos).  I wore it for a day before feeling the urge to give it to my sister.  My intuition was saying the ruby did its job, and it was time to pass it on to her.

As soon as Hui.1 went down for a nap, Hui.2 woke up from his 3-4 hour nap.  So we nursed in the studio, nicely curled up in my La-Z-Boy recliner (best investment I ever made for this new baby), streaming more Dawson’s Creek on Netflix (in my defense, I’m waiting for last season’s Grey’s Anatomy and Once Upon a Time to be on Netflix so I can catch up).  It was perfect to have some much needed quality time with both boys individually, as well as having some time to truly spend in the studio.  It’s simple pleasures like these that wards off postpartum depression and gives me hope that life with two kids two years apart won’t always be so chaotic.

My new Rock on a Rope

Jewelry Equations

 

Watermelon Tourmaline Chinese Knot Lariat in 14kt Rose Gold Filled

I’m an engineer by default, so when my brain recognizes a pattern, I translate that into the perfect jewelry equation so production takes up less time and brain power (when you’re a mom, saving brain power is awesome).  For instance, I figured out the perfect equation for making lariats.  No matter what, you use the same amount of beads and/or chainmaille bits, no ifs, ands, or buts.  Same with the chains in between because most of my lariats are basically long station necklaces.  I also just figured out the perfect equation for a new Grace Bead bracelet design for the standard wrist size of 7.5″ (my wrists are above average size, so it was a challenge).  All this uniformity makes me very happy.  Sometimes it’s nice to create order out of chaos.  Too much chaos isn’t good for anyone.

Shopping Local and Handmade

Photo by Jessica Rice of Beer and Baking

Anyone who knows me knows there are 3 distinctive elements to my style:

  1. Comfort
  2. Functionality
  3. Uniqueness

Let’s face it; I’m an artist.  You can see it whether I’m at my local Starbucks, dressed in my staple bellydance-esque cotton ruffle capris and basic black tank top (sometimes a nursing top-in-disguise) or while I’m running around town with Jesse and Hui.1, sporting my favorite, frilly flyaway cardigan from XCVI.  And of course, I’m usually sporting a Harveys Seatbeltbag.  Like XCVI, Harveys designs and manufactures their bags right here in the heart of Southern California.  They also put on several in-store events to encourage fans to socialize and become a community.  That’s how I’ve met some of my nearest and dearest friends over the past 4 years.  The photo above was taken at their Mother’s Day event at their Chino Hills location.  One thing I love about Harveys is their sense of community and family.  You’re welcomed with open arms, tasty snacks and refreshments, and personable people.

There’s something magical, or perhaps something old-fashioned, about being able to shop in a brick-and-mortar store.  There’s the possibility of making new friends with fellow customers as well as creating a relationship with the sales associates.  I have a love-hate relationship with our digital age.  While I’ve been able to make new friends by bonding over Seatbeltbags, there’s a huge disconnect when shopping online.  We lose that sense of local community and I’ve decided to start an on-going blog series about the small businesses I love and frequent the most, as well as hidden treasures that need to be known to the rest of the world.

But there’s more to just shopping local and supporting small businesses.  As consumers, we need to know where the stuff we buy is made.  Even though we’re supporting a local business, they may be getting their merchandise from an overseas sweat shop.  It’s true that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.  But let’s be aware of where our consumer goods come from and make a decision from there.  If you’re buying jewelry, look for a local artist instead of heading to the department store, even if it’s for fine jewelry.  There are a bunch of local fine jewelers out there.  You just need to browse through the Internet like we all do these days.

Here’s hoping to bring back our humanity that’s lost amongst the digital and consumer age.

Supplier Spotlight: Grace Beads

Click the photo to shop!

I’ve said this time and time again, but I adore Grace of Grace Beads.  I use her beads exclusively because I haven’t found a glass bead artist that even comes close to her.  Whenever I see her at the Pasadena Bead and Design Show twice a year, it’s like meeting an old girlfriend as we squee and jump up and down excitedly in between the aisles of bead and jewelry vendors.  I wanted to go to the show in 2008 but I was bogged down with work over the weekend so I couldn’t go.  Instead, I perused through their website to see what vendors had websites I could potentially order from.  Immediately I fell in love with Grace’s beads and it was all downhill from there.  It wasn’t until 2009 when I finally made it to the show to meet her in person.

Using her beads is not an easy feat.  My best necklace to date incorporating her beads is the necklace I was making when Jesse called me for the very first time.  There’s something magical about all of it; the design, the intent, the beads, and finished piece.  Something that still stands out today, which makes it a true Hui Hui Designs piece.  Whenever I get stumped about what to design with her other beads, I take it out to use as a guide.  And if I didn’t already love it enough, it was one of my very first necklaces completely in 14kt Rose Gold Filled.  Back in those days, it was hard to find rings and wire in rose gold, so I bought and used whatever I could get my hands on.  Today, it’s a little bit easier due to the comeback of rose gold in mainstream jewelry.

The Production Process

The Chinese Knot Collection

I’ve already written about my process of design and how to cultivate creative through poking and classical music. So let’s talk about what it takes for a piece of jewelry to make it to production.

Several hours of debate and poking. Part of that poking includes this list of questions:

Is it strong enough by itself to be a statement piece?
What category does it fall under?
Does it meet the requirements of said category?
Can it be “broken” down into several coordinating pieces (i.e. Collection)?

Classic maille is the foundation of my jewelry design and sometimes you need something simple yet makes a strong statement. What’s a bakery without the staple chocolate chip cookie? What kind of engineer didn’t study calculus? Everyone has to start somewhere in order to lay out the foundation. So for me that’s where it all begins.

The next step is analyzing and being able to see a weave that can be broken down into either smaller “bits” or somehow manipulated into being adorned by beads. This particular skill has taken me years to refine and there are days when it’s still a challenge. But it’s all part of the journey, if you really want to get all philosophical about it. Sometimes it’s finding the perfect maille bit for certain beads. Other times it’s about showcasing the maille encrusted with beads.

From the photo above, you can see the versatility of the Chinese Knot Collection between it’s chainmaille foundation and how well it lends itself with the stones.  I really outdid myself with that collection and I have to figure out how to top it.  Now that’s going to be a challenge.

The Single Strand Necklace

I just found Cynthia Sliwa’s new blog after noticing she was MIA from her old blog on JCK Online.  This particular blog post makes me very happy about my new Stepping Stones Collection.  Cynthia is an image consultant I discovered a few years ago and she loves blogging about jewelry.  She actually helps the common folk digest the jewelry trends of the fashion world.  I’m impressed with her archive of old photos from old fashion magazines and how up-to-date she is on the current ones.  It’s not easy trying to assimilate such a wealth of information and shiny photos.

The necklace pictured above is a perfect example of this single strand necklace phenomenon and I’m currently marketing it as a statement necklace instead of a full-blown collection since most of the stones utilized are too soft or delicate for bracelets and sometimes you don’t need a matching pair of earrings.  With that said, I think I’ll dig through my stones and find some that are suitable for a new statement necklace like this one.

Putting Your Best Self Forward

I’ve finally hit that point in my pregnancy where I’m going “la la la”.  My sense of style is at its best and I make the effort to dress my best before I go out into the world.  Even on days when Hui.1 and I are just going to the store to pick up groceries, I make sure I at least have a pair of earrings on.  When we go out with the hubby, I go all out with the jewelry because the best marketing tool is being seen wearing it.  My favorite pieces of late have been the Single Stepping Stones necklace and various pieces from the Chinese Knot Collection.  Doing so has been so much fun and I couldn’t be prouder of either collections.  It also helps that XCVI has finally become more accessible with their pop up shops popping up all over Southern California.  You can read about how I discovered XCVI here.  You can also find a variety of the Chinese Knot Collection at their Fashion Island location if you’re in the Southern California area.

Since I have no control over my body until the end of June, there’s really no use in cursing at my flaws and trying to hide that Mommy pooch some of us know all too well.  I suppose it’s part of the pregnancy glow myth, but for me, I’m still 5 pounds under the weight I started at because of the gestational diabetes.  After this baby arrives, I’ve decided to stick with the diet, because let’s face it, our society eats too much processed food and sugar than we should.  It’ll be an 80/20 ratio… 80% of eating mindfully and 20% of “let’s party” because food needs to be enjoyed and savored instead of being treated like the enemy.  Yesterday I made a conscious decision that I never need to cook white potatoes again.  Give me some artisan bread or a bowl of rice to go with my meat and vegetables and I’m happy as a clam.  An 85° C bakery and cafe just opened a few miles away so we’ve been going once a week to pick up their baked goods because it’s inexpensive and just so darn tasty.  My mom was the one who always went to pick stuff up, so experiencing it on my own was beyond magical.

Putting your best self forward isn’t easy, but we have to show the world just how awesome we are.  Figure out what makes your inner self shine outwardly and the rest is a piece of cake.  Or in my case, a piece of bread.