Athena Magazine

Fashion, lifestyle, passions

A Second Chance – Unique Fiber Arts May 21, 2009

Submitted by Marjorie Cunningham, owner of Marjorie’s Cracked Plate Jewelry and manager of the Reclaimed to Fame Market on 1000 Markets.

Introducing another of our fabulous merchants in the Reclaimed to Fame Market on 1000 Markets, Jess of A Second Chance, who has shared her story with us:

“Just to let you know who I am… I’m an internationally touring teaching artist. What? One who travels 250+ days out of the year to perform (theatre, dance, music), teach those skills to others (pre K – professional), and produce/write music (3 cds to date, hear them at


“I’m co-founder of an educational physical theatre company, Creatively Independent, as well as co-founder of an Americana Indie music label, RoadWorm Music.

“A Second Chance is an extension of all that inspires me.  I find expressive, abandoned/discarded sweaters and imagine their lives.  I imagine what they can now become and who might be drawn to it.  My different arts have common threads: improvise, enjoy the moment, listen, see the big picture and soak in the details.

“Recycling, re-crafting and supporting charity stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army is how I try and make a difference.  While on the road so much, I come across some great vintage pieces that don’t fit me… so why not spread the love?  Plus, 10% of all sales are donated to  See who’s benefited already!

“I spend most of my time teaching others how to find and express their personal voice.  Now, I’m helping these pieces do the same for you.”

A Second Chance


Almost Dressed May 20, 2009

pPOLO2-5664466_lifestyle_v330I’m a sucker for a shopping blog. Just tell me what to wear, and I’ll follow you anywhere. It’s an affliction that strikes me at the onset of spring and fall Lately, I have a new favorite place to gather endless shopping advice: Almost Dressed. They do it all: high fashion, low fashion, and all the eclectic stuff in between. And then you click a button to buy it! Along with Almost Dressed, you’ll find Almost Heeled, Almost Packed, Almost Pretty, and Almost Abode.


Journey to the Noguchi Museum May 19, 2009

Noguchi light sculptures

Noguchi's Akari light sculptures

For the last year, my husband and I have been restoring and renovating a mid-century ranch house, and while we’ve opened up the kitchen and vaulted the ceiling to create a great room, we have maintained the curved walls and original oak floors. To give a nod to mid-century modern, a friend suggested I purchase a Noguchi Akari light sculpture (about $125-$300) from the Noguchi Museum in Long Island City. So last Saturday, I made my first foray into this artsy part of Queens. What a haven the museum is: the rock sculpture garden is one of the most peaceful places in the city, followed only by the Egyptian room at the Met. Learn more or order your Noguchi Akari light sculpture here.


Quilting Pretty: Amy Butler Fat Quarters Kit May 18, 2009

amyfats21I’m a huge fan of Amy Butler: her books, her fabrics, whatever she does to revive the wonderful arts of quilting and sewing. Recently I found a site that sells a kit of Amy Butler fat quarters for just $25. Just looking at these fabrics makes me happy. Buy your fat quarters here.


Tatted Tales: Unique lace jewelry May 17, 2009

cameoround_galleryPersonal fashion is that right blend of unique personality and social convention. You want to stand out and blend in, and you want to do it with grace—and affordably. A few weeks ago, I came across the perfect accessory: tatted jewelry. Without a second thought, I ordered a set of earrings shaped like tiny pink roses with green leaves, made from fine thread and the finest beads. I have never seen such unique, delicate, outstandingly pretty jewelry. I was amazed to find that people still tat. When I was a child, I had seen someone tat, but I had never known anyone since then who actually tatted doilies or lace. I began reading about tatting and asking questions of the talented artist who made my earrings.

tigereye_galleryElizabeth Zipay has been designing and making tatted jewelry for eighteen years, since her grandmother taught her to tat. Although she had learned many other crafts, tatting caught her full attention because it is a dying art, and yet it is not difficult to learn and its products are simply beautiful. It’s portable, too. I used to carry knitting with me, but I have to admit it required a large bag and a certain amount of fuss. Tatting can fit into a Ziploc baggie in your purse. Most tatters carry the thread wound on a shuttle; its pointed ends have openings to allow the thread to slip out as needed. The lace may use one or two shuttles (each a few inches long), and there is no other equipment.

Tatted lace, like macramé, is made from a series of knots along a thread. The art lies in arranging the types of knots and loops of thread so that it forms rings, arches, and tiny “picot” loops like dew drops. Pieces can be small and simple, like the earrings, or large and complicated. Tatting was developed in the 19th century, perhaps as an offshoot of the sailors’ art of knot-tying. It quickly caught on with Victorians who needed lace to line their handkerchiefs, sleeves, and baby bonnets. In the century between the Civil War and World War II, American ladies turned out miles of tatted lace. Mass-market patterns in the 20s and 30s often featured tatted doilies and edgings. But as machine-production replaced all kinds of handmade lace, tatting lost its popularity. Although many girls still learned to crochet and knit, few learned to tat, and the art appeared to be dying. Enter the internet. Tatters like Elizabeth, taught by their grandmothers, created networks to share photos and patterns, and discuss how to improve the craft. You can find videos showing basic tatting technique on YouTube, and there are blogs that outline beginning lessons.

Elizabeth’s skill and speed allow her to make the simplest earrings in under an hour, while longer pieces like necklaces or cameos take days. The patterns are adapted from antique magazines, and she also designs her own images using the basic tatting figures. She has designed a butterfly and hummingbird, for example. My rose earrings could be matched with a large rose pendant or an entire necklace in which the chain, too, is tatted.

I am itching to try out a few simple tatting moves, since it’s one of the few thread-crafts I’ve never learned. But for now, I am going to enjoy dressing up even the plainest outfits with earrings that always seem special. If you want to see more of Elizabeth’s work, you can check out her 1000 Markets listing or her own website.


The most practical bejeweled sandals May 16, 2009

Best all around sandal, for just $50.

Best all around sandal, for just $50.

I was up at Bergdorf’s on Fifth Avenue drooling over the $2000 Oscar de la Renta dresses. (Apparently, no one told these customers about the recession.) Of course, since I’m getting my haute couture certificate, I was surreptitiously turning garments inside out to inspect the techniques. It’s my favorite kind of covert shopping and the sort that fills you up with sumptuousness without spending anything at all.

Next I dawdled my way down to the second floor shoe store, where I found something truly obscene: $500 sandals! Now there are many items I can envision spending $500 on, but little nothing wisps of barely there designer sandals that look like they couldn’t survive one outing to a Hamptons farmer’s market are not it. Much better is this new pair of faux jeweled Birkenstock-knockoffs that I found at Aerosoles, perfect for hoofing it around town. For some reason, I can’t wear the real Birkenstocks; they kill my feet. Nor, in spite of spirited efforts, are Birkenstocks as girly as I like. But these bronze beauties with big rhinestone-studded circles are perfect and the $50 on sale pricetag is easy on the wallet. Best of all, they have arch support, always desirable. Pretty, practical and durable: what more could you want from a sandal? With a little draped Grecian-style mini dress, they are downright sexy. Take that, you Christian Louboutin flip-flops. Get your summerstock sandal here.


Love these fabrics! May 15, 2009

2Chez Ami and Chez Belle is a kid’s clothing company that appears to cater to pampered southern children. Everyone looks so squeaky clean, well-fed, and well-off, like “Where’s the pool party?” It’s the sort of childhood I aspired to, but couldn’t quite pull off with my hip, feminist, Ms.-magazine-reading, ’70s mom. The clothes are darling, but even better are the fabrics. Yes, they offer fabrics for those southern sewing moms to whip cute sun dresses and swimming trunks. (I don’t have kids, but I could use a party-frock apron or a throw pillow or one of those bows!) And best of all, they’re having a sale. Check out Chez etc. here.



THE WIFE: The Chanel Ballet Flats Saga (cont.) May 14, 2009

Filed under: Athena at Home,Practical Fashionista — rebmas03 @ 1:37 am
Tags: , , , ,

taryntitleWhat working girl doesn’t occasionally wish that she could lapse into the fantasy life of just being a WIFE? You know, run the house; decorate; manage the menus and nannies; plan the entertaining; do charity work; stock the closet and so forth. Since almost all of us gals, single or no, are working these days, this is definitely a fantasy.

chanel2At the risk of being terribly politically incorrect, I want to point you to a new blog: THE WIFE, where you get all sorts of practical advice on how to be a classic and elegant housewife. And of course, my favorite post is on the Chanel ballet flat and its indispensability in every housewife’s closet.  So like the supposed impossibility of marrying after 40 and winning the lottery, we may never be WIVES, but preparation is key. Because, hey, you never know. Study being a WIFE here.


My Spring-Fling Budget Wardrobe May 13, 2009

Spring always gets me itching to get a new wardrobe, and I gotta get me some of the pretty, feminine looks so big this year. But my wallet is mighty thin, being neck-deep in home renovations. Here are a few budget-minded items that work as an outfit or can mix into my last year’s wardrobe.Pair this girly blouse with yellow voile skirt below.

Pair this $19 girly blouse from Forever 21 with yellow voile skirt.

Floral prints are all the rage this season, and this $19 blouse from Sears is a top alternative.

Floral prints are all the rage this season, and this $19 blouse from Sears is a top alternative.

Yellow is right on this spring and this $50 Victoria's Secret skirt hits the spot.

Yellow is right on this spring and this $50 Victoria's Secret skirt hits the spot.

I take the subway, so comfort is a must. These Born Crete shoes, $100, add a touch of tough and I know I'll wear them all summer long. (Virtually sold out on Born site, but available on other shoe sites.)

I take the subway, so comfort is a must. These Born Crete shoes, $100, add a touch of tough and I know I'll wear them all summer long. (Virtually sold out on Born site, but available on other shoe sites.)

This little cropped sweater, just $12 from Newport News, completes the ensemble and wards of spring chill.

This little cropped platinum sweater, just $12 from Newport News, completes the ensemble and wards off spring chill.


This week on Initiative Radio: The Professional Do-Gooder May 12, 2009

Angela Mckenzie, host of Initiative Radio

Angela Mckenzie, host of Initiative Radio

Cathy Lanyard is a self-described, “Professional Do-Gooder.” Having grown up in a privileged New Jersey suburb, her mother’s inability to “give-back” inspired her to do just the opposite.

Cathy’s first foray into philanthropy begun when she rallied members of her community to build a playground for the local public school. Later on she became a Washington lobbyist and eventually she left that position to become a fundraiser for an organization whose goal is to encourage pluralism in Israel. 

Today, Cathy is the Executive Director of The American Friends of ALYN Hospital In Tel Aviv, Israel. This round-the-clock rehabilitation facility, serves children of ALL ethnic and religious backgrounds using innovative techniques, designed to improve the quality of their lives, regardless of the severity of their injuries and illnesses.

In this position, Cathy is able to promote her two most beloved causes – children and Israel. To listen to the show: