Friday, January 29, 2010

Fab Finds Friday: Silk Brocade Clutch by Puck513

Ever since my years of travel abroad to China and Taiwan for work, I have had an affinity towards items made with embroidered silk brocade.  The textures and vibrancy of the fabrics are enchanting.

One day on Etsy, I came across the lovely items by Puck513.  Her shop features wraps and clutches made with lovely fabrics.  It was hard to choose which one to get, because I wanted them all!  I finally ended up selecting the red and gold Chrysanthemum clutch.

When it arrived, I was so excited to just hold it and admire the wonderful craftsmanship.  When I placed it on my shelf to admire from afar, I realized the motif was closely related to a vintage painting I have as well as a necklace I was working on…no wonder I was particularly drawn to this bag. 

If you are in need of a lovely wrap or clutch for a special event or just because, I suggest you check out Puck513…you won’t regret it!  You can also find my floral necklace for sale in my Etsy shop Luster!  Many of the photos will feature the lovely clutch as a backdrop.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ask “Why?” Wednesday…

Inspired by my pre-schooler and his incessant ability to ask the question “Why?”, I figured I would dedicate a blog day just to questions I have. And so I chose Wednesday as a way to contradict the often found “Wordless Wednesday” by many bloggers. So here are my questions today inspired by one of my least favorite chores…

1. Why is it that the cat litter all of a sudden smells so foul just before company comes over?

2. Why is it that a sleeping baby always wakes up just as I start to change the cat litter?

3. Why is it that the cats are lined up to test out the clean cat litter before I even get the lid back on?

4. Why does the dog look longingly at the disposed of cat litter as if I am disposing a bag of snacks?

5. Why don’t they make cat food that is dye free? So now onto the next clean-up chore…


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Search Term Tuesday!

Welcome back to this weekly installment of Search Term Tuesday! This is when I take some time to explore my shops Google Analytics with you and share some of the fascinating ways people have come across my shop. All of the search terms selected were from visitors that found my shop and stayed to browse for at minimum 5 mins.

This weeks common theme is “Vintage” search strings. I LOVE vintage items and I have the desire to use more in my work, maybe these will serve as inspiration to me.

vintage style plastic glasses

I first looked at this search term and thought obviously it must be eye glasses. I do love vintage eyewear and really think that a lot can be learned stylistically by studying vintage glasses…eye glasses

Then I put the phrase in Etsy’s search and it came up with a lot of drinking glasses as well. It really goes to show how important it is to think about the words you use to describe an item!

Glass cups

vintage vinyl record cases

I have great memories of all the old vinyl records my parents had and the special furniture pieces that were dedicated to their storage. I often wish we still had the old record cabinets from my youth because it would make a great storage cabinet for my coils of silver and copper and other raw materials I have now. I did a quick search to see what items would come up with this string, and I found this lovely record tote.

There is a interior shot of it and if you look carefully, you will find that it has “American Jewelry” written on it. How Ironic! Hmmm….maybe it will be a future purchase for me…record case tote

vintage save the date

I really enjoy seeing this search term. In today's era of e-vites and electronic communications. It is great to see that some people still send out a tangible note to let you know that your presence is requested at an event. And even more sweet is the thoughtful sending of a Save the Date card so that people can plan, well in advance, to attend your event. This not only helps with time management to schedule vacation time to attend, but also allows you to save money to pay of attending the event. Depending on what stage of life you are in, you may have a jam packed season of weddings to attend, and that can get a bit pricy!


I hope you enjoyed this installment of Search Term Tuesday.

Just remember that no matter how you found me, I am glad you did!

ps...The images in this post are not mine. If you click on the photo, it will take you to the Etsy Listing for the item shown.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Copper.Org Feature Article!

Recently I was contacted by Rebecca Troutman, a writer of feature articles for  She told me I was selected to be one of the artists featured in the January 2010 Copper in the Arts online news article!  You can imagine my delight to that news.   

Below is a copy of my feature article.  Some the article is has bits of flourish, but in general is is very well written.  And as a Materials Engineer, it is quite the honor to be written about on THE source for copper!    I hope you enjoy… 

Luster Metal Works: Transforming Metal

By Rebecca Troutman

Luster Metal Works

Copper bracelets by Luster Metal Works

Photograph courtesy of Susan Harbourt

In rural Illinois, population 500, the farmers’ plows regularly unearth the phone wires beneath the corn fields—disrupting the locals’ communications. Throughout the planting season and its undependable communication service there sat a sagging Edwardian house. The original antique electric system was installed during the Rural Electrification of the 1930s and is comprised mostly of raw copper material. Over a hundred years old with miles of copper wire within its walls, the home’s new owner/fixer-upper, Susan Harbourt, felt a tick of inspiration.

After pulling miles of glinty sand dune heaps of copper wire onto her basement floor, Harbourt became eager to mold the raw old material into a lustrous treasure. Soon after, she founded a line of sterling silver and copper artisan jewelry named aptly, Luster Metal Works. Pounded out in a shop shared by her husband’s antique car restorations, Harbourt has accomplished hundreds of custom designs, forming classic messages of love, commitment, and philanthropy.

Her parents have both influenced her aesthetic: Harbourt’s father a successful aerospace engineer and her mother an English major, she finds the design spectrum sparring within her as she creates her work. “I have both of them warring inside of me,” she says of her parents, “artist and engineer… trying to get out.”

As a young woman, Harbourt’s training in materials engineering taught her to see all the possibilities in metal. While attending Virginia Tech on scholarship, her skills led her toward a successful career in product development. But she soon left that world for motherhood and a chance to design her own products, and has been designing jewelry ever since.

luster metal worksCustom designs made by antique hammers

Photograph courtesy of Susan Harbourt

The first piece she ever made was her husband’s wedding ring. It became the first of many symbolic commitment ceremonies for which she would craft custom jewelry. Her beloved’s ring was designed, re-designed and re-designed again in wax, copper, and sterling silver with symbolic waves, signifying his connection to the water. “The waves represented [his surfing hobby,] a part of his character that was fun,” Susan reflects, “but also the love that we had for each being wide and deep like an ocean.”

Today Harbourt admits she needs to shuffle her husband’s projects to the side in order to find her work space beneath old carburetors and dismantled car engines, but is content when playing with the “luster” in her jewelry materials. “Copper is such a wonderful metal that transcends almost all areas of everyday life… It is in our money, our jewelry, our houses, our art, our cook wear, our body, it has medical and even antimicrobial benefits,” she says passionately. “It is an amazing metal that responds so beautifully to artistic manipulation and was revered in the ancient world.”

Harbourt’s alliance is not only to ancient metals, but antique tools as well. She reveres handmade hammers, which she scores from thrift stores, shops and local yard sales. ”When anyone stops by to see me they can often hear me melodically hammering away; tink, tink, tink,” she says.

One can tell the hammermarks are part of Harbourt’s trademark. Her bracelet and ring designs often bear the mark of one of her antique hammers, roughly chipped into a circular glitz. They often come in similar shapes with different stories, materials, and colors attach to them—which makes a nicely chosen accessory.

“I think jewelry often reflects the phase of life one is in,” she suggests. “When you are engaged, you celebrate that with a diamond ring, when you marry you seal that with a ring. When I was a young professional I wore jewelry that was vibrant, trendy, and made a statement. Now that I am a little older, I prefer jewelry that is classic and can be worn with jeans and a t-shirt as well as a cocktail dress.”

Harbourt’s interest is in transmogrifying old materials to new, often using old resources around her. Her process often involves several well-planned steps. After concept sketches, she creates her prototypes in copper because of its ability to be shaped and hand-tweaked. Though she often goes on to cast those pieces in silver, she admits she often saves the copper trials as her own. “Part of the reason is to work out the design concept with an economical and forgiving metal, but the real reason is because I love copper and tend to keep the prototype for my own collection.”

Looking toward the next decade, Harbourt looks forward to incorporating gold, palladium and other materials into her designs, focusing specifically on phase diagrams and crystal growth in metals.

She looks forward to furthering her designs for philanthropic foundations and has a special affinity for commitment ceremonies. “It is an honor to be asked to make such an intimate item as the token that represents the commitment and love shared between a couple,” Harbourt says. “It is also a little amazing to think of all the memories and events that ring will bear witness to in that couples lives.”


Luster Metal Works, Homer, IL

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Search Term Tuesday!

Well Tuesdays seem like a good day to look at odd search terms that brought people to my site. Here are a few of them that I found very interesting. Based on the data in Google Analytics, each of these search terms brought one viewer to my online store and that person spent 5 mins or more viewing my items. Unfortunately, I can't tell if a sale resulted from that view, but I do enjoy looking at what brought people my way so I can better address the needs of my audience.

The first fascinating search term was:

“Handmade jewellery shops in Vancouver, bc”

Well, I am a handmade jewelry shop, but I am neither located in Vancouver, nor am I in British Columbia. I think that Illinois is geographically no where close to that location, but somehow via the cyberspace gods, it is.

The second term that stood out to me was:

“crochet market beach bag”

For sure I do not do any crochet work, nor do I have any bags. But I REALLY would love to go to the beach right about now with my own crochet market beach bag! Anytime I leave my house right now, I have to battle the snow drifts and bitter cold. Burrrrrr.

And the third fascinating search term was:

ferret print”

Okay, well there are no animal prints of any kind in my shop. And to be honest with you I am not sure I am much of a ferret person. Don’t get me wrong, they are cute in a sneaky sorta way, but just not my thing. When I was growing up, we found a domesticated ferret in our trash can one day. I don’t know if he got lost or the owner was trying to “dispose” of him. We lived in a rural area next to a little General Store, so odd things were often appearing in our yard. All I remember about him was he was cute, curious, and stunk to high heaven. We found him a happy home and I haven’t really thought of him until this search term triggered the memory of that surprise find.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Fab Finds Friday: My Carol Hannah Dress

Okay, so I have found so many wonderful artists, many of them on Etsy, that I figured I start to share my finds with you each Friday.

My first find is a dress that I have very excited about. It is a custom order from the designer Carol Hannah Whitfield. Some of you may recognizer her name since she was one of the top 3 finalists on Season 6 of Project Runway. She has 2 shops on Etsy. The first, “Carol Hannah”, showcases her designs that are more daily staples for your closet. The second, “The Wedding Collection”, features dresses for special events.

My dress, called the Gadsden Street Dress, came from the the Wedding collection shop. At the time, I had no clue that the creator of the dress was someone with reality TV connections. I saw it on the front page of Etsy and fell in love with it. My intention was to wear the dress for a Sunday Brunch event I had to attend. Unfortunately due to the mail system being bogged down with holiday shipping, it arrived a day later than the event….boo hoo. And even more sad is that between the time I ordered the dress and when I received it, I actually lost about 10 or more pounds (post baby weight loss), so the dress is a bit big on me. I will need to get it tailored a bit in time for the next event.

Well here it is, my dress that has been handcrafted by the talented Carol Hannah.

It arrived, Yea!


Time to unpack the dress…


Awe, a nice handwritten note was included,

Thanks CH!


Here it is….on my Mannequin. Isn't it gorgeous!

I think I need to name my mannequin, any suggestions?


And a little sneak peak of a Crazy Lace Agate necklace that I will add to my Etsy store soon….I wanted to show both the front and the back since each one displays its own unique personality and color ways of salmon pink, grey and cream.

neck-1 neck-2

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Okay we all make them, but I figured I would share mine with you. Lets see how well I do this year actually keeping them…

1. I will scan and file ALL of my receipts on a weekly basis.

2. I will not obsess over what my shortcomings are both professionally and personally. Instead I will celebrate my accomplishments and work to improve myself in the areas that need a little tweaking.

3. I will take more photos of my family!

4. I will improve my jewelry photography skills with the camera I do have and not dwell on what I could do with the camera I don’t have.

5. I will experiment with new recipes…I feel like we are in a food rut. Maybe if you are lucky, I will share some with you!

6. I will continue on my path of a healthy living lifestyle…not that I am particularly unhealthy, but I can do better.

7. I will re-evaluate my business plan, products, pricing and sales avenues.

8. I will develop new product lines.

9. I will document my work in a more organized manner.

10. I will communicate better…