When Hobbies Collide

As those of you who have a hobby knows, there is no such thing as having one hobby. Most of us dabble in 2, 3 or more creative pursuits.

In addition to creating jewelry, I like to crochet/knit, make greeting cards/invitations with rubber stamps, ribbon & decorative papers, sew, cake decorating and making “chocolate” candy. It always starts with the intention of “making things to sell.”

We hobbyists continually accumulate the necessary “tools of the trade” whether or not we have a particular project in mind. As a friend of mine justifies this by saying, “if you don’t have it, you can’t use it.”

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In my case, last weekend I attended Vogue Knitting Live, an annual 2-day smorgasbord for those addicted to the needle. Knitting needles and crochet hooks that is.

There were close to 100 vendors selling everything one needs (or not) to satisfy their craving and classes to learn new techniques including a relatively new obsession called arm knitting.

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It makes me happy that this art form has gained so much popularity since the beginning of this century. Sadly, when I was a kid and was interested in this, it was considered very uncool. I didn’t know anyone who knew how to knit/crochet or was interested in learning how.

The coolest thing I saw was “knitted” glass objects by Carol Milne. I found this particularly interesting because she uses a jewelry making technique called “lost wax casting” to make these objects. I love that she was able to combine techniques from completely different disciplines to create unique art.  Please visit her website and see her process.

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How It All Began

My mom used to call me “gypsy” when I was a little girl because I loved to adorn myself with as many scarves and as much of her costume jewelry as my little body could handle and dance around our apartment.

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On trips to visit my Grandma Lillie, I would ask her to please “take down” her jewelry box from the top of her closet. It was large white vinyl covered box trimmed with gold accents. Most of the items were costume jewelry, but opening the box with the shiny baubles inside was like entering Ft. Knox to me. I will always treasure those moments we spent together trying on different pieces of her jewelry. Coupled with wearing her fur stole, I pretended to be a famous movie star. It was always a little sad when it was time to put everything away and resume our ordinary lives.

I got my ears pierced for my 8th birthday. I was so nervous, I almost passed out from the loud sound of the piercing gun. That was the beginning of my earring obsession. When I was a teenager, I began to buy earrings almost every weekend at our local flea market. At one point I had a wall in my room covered with earrings hanging on a fish net. For years, I took that fish net and earrings everywhere I moved. Each morning, it was a fun ritual to pick out jewelry for the day. Because I didn’t have many outfits, changing my jewelry every day, made the clothes I did have feel fresh and new. You see, I was overweight for most of my life and accessories were a way to make me feel pretty even though I didn’t have an extensive wardrobe.

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My vintage jewelry collection

On one fortuitous day, I was chatting with a co-worker and she mentioned she made beaded jewelry and showed me some of her beading magazines. She also told me where to buy supplies. The first time I stepped into a bead store, it was like nirvana. I started making earrings in every color of the rainbow. But of course it didn’t stop there, I had to have a necklace to match too!

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I grew up with a poodle named Fifi. I keep these to honor her memory.

Unfortunately, I no longer have any of the pieces I made back then, but I can share a photo of a pair of earrings that once adorned the “earring wall”.