Sunday, February 27, 2011

Things I want but cannot have...

  Yesterday Matt and I took off on an adventure. We started by visiting the Pops 66 store/restaurant in Arcadia (just north and east of the city (OKC) on Historic Route 66). I learned about the building while reading a magazine at a doctors appointment a few months ago. The article was about the  nationally known architect Rand Elliott and his designs including the Pops 66 store. I was excited to finally have a day off to go and explore this "ultra modern landmark."

Rendering of the design of the building.

Soda bottles line the glass walls of the building.

The view above us as we ate lunch.

Matt graciously smiling for the camera at our table.

The sodas lining the glass front, also right beside our table.
   We got there right at lunch time (somehow, without planning we do this ALL the time) and the wait was long... or so they said. We actually got in quicker than the hostess estimated. The menu is full of burgers and sandwiches and fried side items. I  opted for one of the salad options yesterday because I knew the "foodie" in me would steal a bite of Matt's burger. It was 7 layers of lettuce, bacon, chicken, bleu cheese, cucumber, tomato and I guess the dressing made the 7th layer. It was YUM! If you are ever in the area this is a wonderful point of interest for people of any age.
  From there we headed east a bit and then worked our way back west, all on back roads... It was pretty interesting to see some of Oklahoma's countryside. We saw crop land that is being prepared to be planted, a huge mansion (I estimated it cost a billion dollars to build and Matt thought I was ridiculous so I re-estimated it at 3 million dollars), lots of horses and cows, a honky tonk in what I thought was "the middle of nowhere," it was hoppin on a Sunday afternoon. We didn't go inside, I am pretty sure if we did the music would have stopped... it was that kind of place. No windows either = sketchy!
  We finally made it back out into a more populated land and hit I-35 which took us to Guthrie. Guthrie, Oklahoma was actually the first capitol of Oklahoma. 

"Our community was born as a result of the excitement of America's
1889 pioneers as they settled here after the Land Run, and, as she
was then, we are now, a city alive with unique shops, businesses
and professionals making a difference for Guthrie's future in the
21st Century."
-From Guthries official website. 

  The town is amazing from an architectural standpoint. It is full of old brick buildings and some of the street paved with brick have been preserved as well. There are a bunch of antique stores! From fine antiques with high prices to antique malls with fair prices and a mixture of antiques and junk.  
  I am lucky that Matt shares an interested in my need to dig and prowl for "stuff." He mainly sticks to digging through books and vinyl records while I search for aesthetically pleasing furniture, pottery, paintings, jewelry etc. Yesterday was full of interesting items. But, I have to put the breaks on sometimes. We have a pretty full house and too much stuff stresses me out! I photographed all the things that I would like to have purchased but talked myself out of. If I am still thinking of them in a few days perhaps it was mean to be and I will find the time to go back and collect the items that I can't live with out. Until them, I have pictures to remind me of what they look like.

A Fox print, I learned to appreciate Fox's artwork from my Mother, she is a collector herself. Wouldn't it be nice to walk through that garden?!

Set of 4 pink bowls... not sure who made them or the age of them... I do know that they are sweet and the perfect addition to a vintage inspired kitchen. But, I have bowls and they serve their purpose just fine and until they all break, I probably don't need new bowls.

I loved this print. It was only $12.

Same here, loved the print but kept thinking... do we have anywhere to hang another painting?

Beaded hand bag... this store was really proud of it's merchandise, as it should be, they had a beautiful collection. I have always wanted a vintage/antique beaded purse collection... maybe someday

I didn't really want this I just thought is was a neat design for a cabinet. The tag said it was a "Slaves Cabinet" dating back to 1850... and it was very expensive, $465.

Shop cat. This store was closed. I couldn't resist snapping a photo of this cat. He was not interested in smiling for the camera.

Alas, the one thing I did buy. An Owl planter. He was a bargain for $8. Now I just have to find the perfect place for him in our house.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Studio Contest

  This past weekend I photographed my studio and submitted the photos to a contest on the Nina Designs blog.
  Not only does the winner of the contest receive a prize but two people that vote on their favorite studio will be in a drawing for some really cool jewelry from Nina Designs.  Check it out for yourself and leave a vote for your favorite studio! Hopefully you'll vote for Brandy's : )
I have also decided to do a giveaway for a Bella Vita original Wire Wrapped Ring made from a vintage button. Leave a comment on this blog and let me know you voted and I will enter your name in the drawing.  Share the contest with your friends and I will enter your name twice, just make sure you let me know how you shared it. 
  The contest is open to Bella Vita's facebook fans too.
The Studio Contest is over February 27th and my contest will end on February 28th.
  Thanks for participating and check out more photos of my studio below.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentine's Day: a spoiled surprise... by me.

  Matt had the best of intentions of catching me off guard and bringing me my Valentine early on Saturday. He was supposed to be working all weekend at a debate tournament here in town... supposed to be gone ALL day! 

  I took full advantage of my alone time and worked all weekend at the house. Saturday, around noon, I decided to take Arlo for a walk because the weather was beautiful and he was starting to get antsy. We head out the door and down the street... minding our own business... we make it about 400ft and look up to see my car coming down the street... (Matt took my car that day)... then my car turns... then I raise my hands and mouth "what are you doing?" Then the car turns around... then it pulls up beside me and I realize I am ruining my surprise...
  Matt was going to leave my gift on the doorstep and ring the door bell and run around the house. Well, obviously that didn't happen. It was pretty funny nonetheles, both of us had the giggles from it all.
My gifts were a lovely new plant and a delicious chocolate heart cake from my favorite little bakery, La Baguette. La Baguette is the bakery by our house and I frequently go there on Saturday morning to enjoy quiche and coffee and to catch up on reading. I had been there earlier on Saturday morning ooh-ing and awe-ing over all the sweet treats in the bakery cases. It really reminds me a lot of The Little Bread Company in Fayetteville, I swear their ham and cheese croissants look exactly the same as the LBC's. 

Regardless, I am pretty notorious for foiling surprises! Guess it's a gift : )

Perfect pink color...

YUM! this didn't last long! It was sooo perfect.


   This weekend I worked really hard to finish unpacking and organizing all my new purchases from my trip. I also had to reorganize my space a bit to make a more cohesive work area around my work table. I guess it is the 'interior designer" in me that has to constantly move the furniture and bead trays in my studio. In my mind there is always a better way for things to work in here...
   I snapped a lot of pictures because of all the custom work I did this past week. In doing so,  I found some pretty colorful and inspiring photos and thought I'd share them.

If you have ever bought a strand of precious/semi precious stones you know that they come with tassels on each end of the strand of beads. This is my collection of tassels. I am determined to something grand with them someday... until then they sit on my desk and look pretty!
And for a little more color inspiration... a tassel spill....

My new agate slices, I have been searching for a collection of these for about a year now. I finally found them and have them all neatly organized in their own wooden tray. Aren't they fantastic?!

This yarn still makes me happy. I purchased it last Spring from Erin Jepson of Woolyhands. I found her at the Fayetteville Farmer's Market on the opening day and couldn't resist the bag of yarn. I don't knit, although I have tried, I thought I might incorporate it into my jewelry designs but I haven't... it just sits in this beautiful fused glass bowl by another local artist, Babalu.
This was the original picture I took of the yarn last Spring... so inspirational and happy! I used it as my desktop image for about a year.

My new printers tray, almost full of beads. I have been wanting some of these large printers trays to put all of my beads in. I would just die if I ever found a cabinet full of the trays. I am so proud of it.

Ah, my beautiful friend JeanAnne on her wedding day. I have been searching for pictures of my custom work for my new website and couldn't resist throwing this one in. The colors are amazing as is the bride. (I made her necklace).

Finally, I had to part with this necklace on Thursday. This is one of my favorite Vintage Redux pieces. I even blogged about the process of how I made it.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Custom Orders of Interest

This necklace is for Amber. Amber wanted a personalized necklace that incorporated her family and her love of yoga. I stamped her daughter's name, Jordan, and added her birthstone to her charm. The date is the date of her and her husbands anniversary. Then I embellished with "earthy" colored stones (new tourmaline drops and new turquoise) and yoga charms. Her reaction, "Oh my gosh...I Love it!  So pretty and perfect!"

These earrings are for Barb. She actually ordered a pair of gold and sapphire earrings with a lotus charm on them and then decided she needed another pair to match a smashing new dress she will be wearing on an upcoming trip to Peurto Rico! So I used some new amethyst with a mystic finish on it and the double vermeil marquis hoops. Barb also wanted something flashy and a bit larger than she would normally wear. Her reaction, "I LOVE them, Brandy!  So excited about getting TWO new
pairs of Brandy earrings!"

This is my new "Man's" necklace. It is for Rex of Glass Eye Studios. He is the wonderful photographer that I work with from time to time to make Bella Vita look amazing! He does awesome work and I can't wait to see what we come up with in the future. Anyway, about the necklace: Rex wanted something with turquoise and then he also sent me images of found object jewelry that he liked. So, I dug through my old keys and he selected this one with the lion, which was good because it is the one I wanted to use. Then I embellished with a vintage turquoise drop and a gold toned religious medal that pulls out the brown tones in the turquoise.  His reaction was, "For real, that is perfectly ME. I LOVE it!"

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Tucson, heading home...

It is always a bittersweet ending when I have to leave Tucson... and deal with the fact that it is now 358 days until next years show... and I am thinking of only going every two years or so... so that means there is no next years show for me... ::insert sad, sad, sad face::: I am sure I will blog about that as the time nears, who knows, maybe Bella Vita will have an amazing year and I will HAVE to go! until then, enjoy my post about previous years.

This was my fourth year to attend the Gem and Mineral Show. The whole experience is so completely overwhelming and visually exhausting!
I remember my friend (and former employer and second mom/big sister depending on what we are agreeing on or disagreeing on) Holly telling me about market and all the cool stuff she would bring back for the store and she would always slip a little something in for me. It was so exciting, then one year she invited me to come with her and her mother. So, I did, it was great! I am pretty sure my budget was $300 and I got so many "new" and "cool" beads I was beside myself. I think I actually still have some of those beads. 
A college degree and a taste of my "first, big, real job after college" and of course, after loosing that job... Bella Vita was born. 
I couldn't think of a better way for my life (or 2-3 years of it) to have worked out. 

I took a break from making jewelry between high school and college and didn't pursue jewelry design in secondary school because I really  thought it was all a phase I was going through. I think I was also really burnt out on "jewelry design." Maybe it was that summer I lived a tourist town and made jewelry all day everyday that didn't help. Don't get me wrong it was an amazing summer where I learned a lot about life and made some of my very best friends, and had an awesome apartment for an 18 year old!
Fast forward 6 years to 2009, I was planning my own trip to Tucson market. My mother and I loaded up the car and drove 19 hours, just the two of us, to our destination. We met Holly and her Mom there, they chose to fly. It was so exciting to arrive in the bright blue skies and the 70 degree temperatures that are common to Tucson this time of year. I think this year my budget was only $1,000, for materials. I remember buying a lot of "stuff" I never used and new "stuff" that took my jewelry designs in a whole new direction.
The second year (last year) it was just my Mom and I and we decided to fly. I am not a big fan of flying but traveling in February is so if-ey and we decided it would be safer than driving in potentially snowy weather.  Flying turned out to be fine, the plane didn't crash, obviously... This time my budget tripled and I bought a lot of new stones and other unique items, quite possibly the most exciting year for "awesome" purchases...
Finally, 2011, my Mom (Kathy), her best friend Kathy, and I drove again. The weather was terrible... we beat the colossal storm of 2011 on our way there but had to be cautious navigating through its wrath on the way home. All in all the drive turned out fine, it was just extremely nerve wracking! 
My budget was quite a bit larger than it was last year and I found myself buying larger quantities than normal. Like I have said before, it is hard to know how much to buy because when I am shopping I am not sure exactly what I am going to make with the materials but I know I like them... I have shared a lot of my purchases in previous blog posts. 
This week I spent counting, cutting strands, sorting, organizing, and pricing my loot. I think my studio is FINALLY where I want it and I can start making new designs next week. I have been slammed with custom orders this week so I haven't had a chance to play with many of my new stones and beads. I did slip in some new stones to a couple of the custom orders I finished this week. Check out tomorrows post to see them ; )

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tucson, shopping day 3

Sorry for the lag in the blog posts about my recent trip to market. 
Here is day threes finds. 
My most unusual buy, Aragonite.

Aragonite, whole strand...

Tourmalated and rutilated quartz and other stones! Probably my favorite buy!

Very top quality Kyanite with a high polish.

Tibetan side drilled quartz crystal.

Funky mixed stones.

Vermeil chain and mixed stones! This should be FUN!

New sterling silver designs from Nina Designs.

What was your favorite thing I purchased???

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tucson, shopping day 1

Shopping, day one: To Bead True Blue
This is one of my favorite shows. It is full of artsy handmade beads, vintage goodies, fine gemstones and imported Chinese "stuff." I found a few new vendors and made some new connections which is always fun!

These are from a new vendor, they are modern glass molded with vintage Czech glass molds. I <3 the Buddhas, think I will be keeping one of these.

Another new vendor, vintage brass goodies!

My fav! African trade beads: Mali brass, Mali wedding beads (actually made in Czech Republic but used for weddings in Mali).

Amethyst, smokey quartz, quartz crystal, labradorite.

Nom, nom, nom, nom! Geode slices, I have been looking for these for months!!! Can't wait to design with these babies.

New fine pewter pendants, so cute!!!
The best part of yesterday was having lunch with my old pals and my Mom and her friend Kathy. 
My friends Holly and Cynthia that used to be the owners of Crescent Moon Beads in Eureka Springs are here as well as Ellie, my boss from Argent Bead in North Little Rock! I couldn't ask for a better group of women to shop with! We all regroup through out the day and have mini show and tells to show off what we have purchased. Then in the evenings before dinner we lay it all out and show off everything... It is sooooo exciting!

Today is a big day... I think we are going to try to hit the Windmill, The Gem Mall and The Kino Veterans Center... better get going!!!