Athena Magazine

Fashion, lifestyle, passions

A new shopping mall for indie booty November 17, 2008

logo_sp1Posted by Marjorie Cunningham, broken china jewelry designer at Marjorie’s Cracked Plate Jewelry.  She also has a new shop at 1000 Markets.

A new marketplace has opened on the net and it promises to be an exciting one.  1000 Markets opened its doors a few days ago and already independent artisans for filling it up with one-of-a-kind shops.

1000 Markets has some aspects of Etsy in that it is restricted to handcrafted items (though Etsy also carries vintage items which 1000 Markets does not), Facebook in that customers can write on the seller’s Wall and leave comments as to particular products and sellers can create and join groups and communities and WordPress in that sellers can maintain a personal blog in their shop so customers can learn about them.

This new website also is in the process of creating markets, where groups of artisans’ shops will be located according to theme, like food or arts, or region or just a group of friends have gathered together to sell their products.  The site promises many developments in the very near future, but already it’s off to a great start.

So as you’re doing your holiday shopping in the coming weeks, stroll through the shops at 1000 Markets to find unique gifts for your special persons and chat with the merchants there.


Indie Jewelry: Sea Glass, Jewels of the Ocean November 16, 2008

Posted by Marjorie Cunningham, broken china jewelry designer at Marjorie’s Cracked Plate Jewelry.

Sea glass—also known as beach glass, mermaid tears, lucky tears, sea gems, drift glass—is the only man-made litter that makes its way into the ocean and turns into a valued item.  The glass is naturally tumbled by the movement of water and sand and is transformed from broken bottles and jars into beautiful smooth frosted glass. Most of the sea glass found on today’s beaches went into the ocean in the late 1800’s to 1960’s. Sea glass is becoming harder to find due to the fact that we are more conscious of what is thrown into the ocean these days and also because manufacturers are replacing glass bottles and jars with plastic.

Many collectors search our shores to see what the tide has brought in.  Mostly kelly green, brown and clear sea glass is found.  Less common are jade and forest and lime green.  It’s rare to find purple or cornflower blue sea glass. To find pink, black, yellow, red or orange is to find quite a treasure.

Artists and creative folks use sea glass and broken china to create all kinds of mosaics.  Birdhouses, chairs, mirrors, vases and even floors are transformed with their beauty. Here’s a look at the numerous ways sea glass is used to create glorious jewelry straight from the sea.

Some jewelry artists leave the natural beauty of sea glass to stand out by itself without embellishment. This rare blue piece from the North Sea is simple yet so lovely.

Rare blue sea glass pendant

Rare blue sea glass pendant

Other artists drill through the center of the sea glass and use the glass like beads, creating a beautiful look like in the following piece.

Sea glass bracelet

Sea glass bracelet

This is a unique piece where the artist used the sea glass in a mosaic-type setting.

Sea glass mossaic pendant

Sea glass mossaic pendant

Sea glass can also be set into bezels, just like gemstones, like this rare red sea glass ring.

red sea glass ring

Red sea glass ring

Sea glass is also wire wrapped by artists

Wire wrapped sea glass pendant

Wire wrapped sea glass pendant

and used in wire crochet creations.

Rare blue wire crochet sea glass necklace

Rare blue wire crochet sea glass necklace

These gifts from the sea can be used in jewelry in the same way as any cabochon or gemstone.  The look of sea glass is timeless and is always in style.

But beware—all sea glass on today’s market is not naturally formed. Tumbled glass looks very similar but is not as valued by either collectors or jewelry customers.

Click on the photos to find out more about each of these sea glass jewelry designs.


The Little Black Box November 12, 2008

Excerpted from Adventures in Vintage, a blog by Athena contributor Heather Lewis

The Little Black Box: What a great idea!

Many of you who are crafters are probably aware of The Little Black Box. Kimberlee Keane is the mastermind behind the glorious The Little Black Box.

I found The Little Black Box about a month ago as I was researching different indie sites to promote my own handcrafted site Mattie Reid Chicago. I contacted Kimberlee and asked if she had any additional spots open for her November box (this was pretty close to the deadline for submissions). She replied and said she still had a few spots left. I submitted 150 samples of vintage buttons rings like this one:vintage button ring, mattie reid chicago

Not only did I donate samples for the November box, but I also became a customer. I subscribed to her blog and received an email from her a few days ago saying that all October boxes were on sale for $15. I went straight to her site and purchased a box. I love sales, especially sales on indie designer stuff!

My box arrived today. I opened the box and this is what I found:
Tons of cute samples including soaps, bookmarkers, a pair of earrings, magnets-all sorts of cute things.

There were two cute little soaps by Sweet Lollipop Shop. Here’s one of their soaps:
Katherine Quinn included this really cute little magnet and notecard:
Under Glass included this cute lil’ snowflake pendant:
Lastly, one of my most favorite things in the box was this lavender mint soap by Rebecca’s Soap Delicatessen: It smells sooooo good!

I do highly recommend stopping by Kimberlee’s Little Black Box site and ordering a November box. There’s supposed to be Spoonfudge by Glutenada in quite a few boxes. I went to their site and all of their goodies look so yummy and they’re all gluten free!


Indie Jewelry: Jonara Blu Maui November 10, 2008

Posted by Marjorie Cunningham, broken china jewelry designer at Marjorie’s Cracked Plate Jewelry.

One of the nicest things about entering the world of jewelry design for me has been meeting so many wonderful artists. Learning from them and being inspired by them has been invaluable to me.  One of the most helpful and inspirational artists I have met is Jamee Jones of Maui, Hawaii, whose jewelry line is known as Jonara Blu Maui. Jamee is a wonderfully talented jewelry artist specializing in beach wedding jewelry. She’s gaining quite a reputation for creating jewelry of exceptional quality and beauty. Here’s one elegant example of her work.


Jamee has two online stores—one at Ruby Lane and one at Etsy. In addition to her lovely beach wedding jewelry, Jamee is known for her “fresh and funky beaded jewelry with an island twist”.   Look at the glorious colors of the beads she uses in this one.
















And of course, being in Maui, she creates jewelry that’s inspired by the ocean, like this fabulous necklace.



Jamee’s busy life includes being a dedicated wife and a mother. She home-schools her son Cameron. And she’s the bookkeeper for the family business. She mentions on her blog that she and her family have been on Maui since 1992, and although they do miss friends and family back on the mainland, they will never leave their beautiful island home.  Who could blame her for that?!

Jamee is also a moderator of the Beadingaholics Yahoo Group where she gives advice and encouragement to other jewelry designers on a daily basis.  I know I’m not the only one who benefits from her help and example.


Indie Jewelry: Simply Sarah’s November 3, 2008

Posted by Marjorie Cunningham, broken china jewelry designer at Marjorie’s Cracked Plate Jewelry.

Sarah Skeen is the owner of the delightful Etsy shop Simply Sarah’s.  You’ll find fabulous jewelry, bags, scarves and more, all lovingly handcrafted by Sarah in her Catskills Mountain home.

Sarah has a unique style and she is quite inventive in her designs.  She’s used antique glass buttons in these earrings, along with vintage frosted glass beads.  

Here she’s used Picasso finished Czech glass beads with an ozidized brass ring.

I asked Sarah what inspires her jewelry creations.  “Inspiration? Well, I browse Etsy as much as possible and I draw a lot of inspiration from some of the amazing designers there. Nature is also a huge inspiration for me. I like to incorporate nature as much as possible even if it’s just a little charm or something. It may not always work out to have an element of nature, but I try.”

Sarah is also a wonderful photographer, and her work can be found in Flickr.  I was curious to know which artistic endeavor she enjoyed more and whether she had any other artistic talents. “I have so many things that I love, and I love them all for different reasons, but I think that photography is my number one. I love my macro lens the most because I get to capture little things that most people would never notice and walk right by.  Jewelry design is my number two. It’s like therapy for me. I sit in the quiet and create, and I love that time of my day. I have also just recently taught myself to crochet and have fallen in love with it. And before I was a mommy I was a baker so that is another artistic outlet of mine.”

Sarah has recently added hand crocheted items to her Etsy shop.  When I asked if she had a dream project she’d like to accomplish someday, she said that she’d like to learn how to make an afghan … a really BIG one!

Sarah has a beautiful little girl named Lily.  I asked her how she structured her work time around caring for a small child.  “Well, I try to incorporate my daughter into whatever I am doing. If I decide to work on a piece of jewelry during the day, I give her string and beads and she loves it.  She loves to “help” mommy. Most of my crafting takes place at night though. That is my quiet, personal time that I treasure.”

And here’s Sarah’s advice for jewelry designers just starting out.  “My two pieces of advice are:

1.  Network! Get your shop’s name out there by joining myspace, facebook, flickr and any other forums that you know of.  Getting to know other Etsy sellers is a great way to get your name out there.

2.  Browse Etsy a lot!  I get tons of inspiration there and learn quite a bit from the Etsy forums.”

Sarah posts often in her blog which she has entitled Wake Up and Live—you’re sure to enjoy getting to know more about her life and her designs there. Click her to visit her Esty store.


Indie Jewelry: ChezChani Jewelry October 28, 2008

Posted by Marjorie Cunningham, broken china jewelry designer at Marjorie’s Cracked Plate Jewelry

ChezChani, an independent jewelry business located in Las Vegas, NV, consists of the mother/daughter team of Roz and Elayne. ChezChani is pronounced Shay Sh-Ann-ee and their jewelry is quite unique.

Elayne, who also works in a Las Vegas casino, creates fabulous peyote stitch designs, including this one-of-a-kind black and cream freeform peyote bracelet with a cameo closure below.

Roz does all of the beautiful glass and wire wrapping work, like this stunning glass leaf pendant cabochon. As they say in their shop, it looks as though this leaf has been frozen in time, encased in a smooth milky white glass.

I asked Elayne how she and Roz became interested in making jewelry and here’s her reply.

“I was an obsessive candlemaker. While at a craft show, we were next to a jewelry booth. Having dabbled in a little beading years earlier, it sparked a fire and suddenly I decided I just had to make some jewelry. After a few months of stringing braclets and necklaces together, I decided to take a class in Peyote at an LBS. The picture of the ring was reminiscent of the Tiffany ring I had always wanted but was too frugal to treat myself to. A new obsession was born and I’ve been doing nothing but Peyote stitch since. I hope to branch out someday but this passion shows no signs of abating.

“Roz was a frustrated crafter all her life, too busy raising an unappreciative family and working to give in to her temptations. Now semi-retired and living in a community that has groups and classes in so many crafts, she has been able to fulfill her desire. She began in ceramics but then a lovely piece of glass caught her eye. Starting with plates and vases, eventually she saw the beauty in smaller pieces of glass as jewelry and this is where her passion now lies.”

I also asked Elayne if she had any advice for jewelry designers who are just starting out in the business.

“The only advice I can give is love what you do. Find the artistic outlet that lights your fire and go from there. If you don’t love it, don’t bother. Also, if you want to eventually make a living at it, don’t get addicted to Peyote. I don’t think you could ever get paid for your time with something that is so slow to make.”

Elayne has a busy schedule, working a full time job in addition to creating jewelry. Here’s how she manages.

“I have a fairly rigid schedule for everything but beading. I work full time and go to the gym or pool 5 days a week. I can only get myself to do this by having a schedule. Every other possible minute is devoted to beading because that’s what I love to do. Because Peyote takes so much time, I don’t need to be creatively inspired all the time. One inspiration for a bracelet and I’ve got hours, days, and weeks of work ahead of me. Some bracelets can take me over a week to finish due to time constraints.”

Elayne works in a small locals casino as a poker supervisor. She’s celebrating her 5-year anniversary Nov. 1. She was living in LA and worked in TV casting for many years. Needing a change, she came to Vegas to stay with her mom, went to poker school, and never went back to LA except to pack and sell her condo. To me, working in LA sounds very exciting. Elayne tells me that it’s a sometimes fun, sometimes hair pulling job. She has to break up fights (he started it, no he did!) and cut off those who’ve had too much to drink. When there is a dealer error or any kind of controversy, she has to make the decision which almost always leaves one person angry. She says it’s a tough time for casinos right now and she’s lucky to have a job. Poker rooms, which make very little money for casinos, have started closing and downsizing.

I also talked to Elayne about how she goes about marketing the jewelry that she and her mother design. They have a shop on Etsy where their jewelry is available for purchase. She also wears her jewelry and talks about it a lot. She shows it to people but in a non-saleslike way—just sort of “Look what I made!” She also tries to work on her jewelry where people can watch her, which sparks people’s curiosity, which gives her an opportunity to answer questions and give out her business card. Because of her schedule, Elayne can’t do craft shows and she doesn’t feel Las Vegas is a great craft town. Roz is able to do a few shows but it’s hard to schedule as she does temp work. They’re also doing some social marketing, blog, twitter, which they’re having fun with.

Elayne is a cat and animal lover and she creates  jewelry for pets too! Here’s an example of her work. It closes with velcro and can be custom ordered with names or initials.

They welcome custom orders. Here’s the link again to their shop on Etsy. And also check out Elayne’s blog where she’ll keep you up-to-date on all that’s happening at ChezChani.


Great Scot: Glass Artist Fiona Macneil October 24, 2008

Floral Glass Pendant by Fiona Macneil

Floral Glass Pendant by Fiona Macneil

By Louise Sleigh, excerpted from her Catwalk Threads blog

Fiona Macneil: Glass Artist

What is your earliest fashion memory?
Wearing the clothes which the band the ‘Bay City Rollers’ made famous in the ’70s.  This involved wearing white flared trousers with tartan up the side, a lilac (yuck) jumper with tartan on the front, and yes a tartan scarf.  Even for a Scots lassie, this was too much tartan.  I haven’t worn tartan since.

What are some of the best things about living in Glasgow?
The museums, art galleries, shops, restaurants, markets, night life but most of all the Glasgow people, they’re unique.

Describe your business:
My business is new and I would describe myself as being a self-employed glass artist.  At the moment I sell fused glass jewellery in my Etsy shop but in the future I hope to be using all the glass skills I learned at college to branch out into other ‘glassy’ areas such as glass panel making, fusing and mosaic work.  I plan to do commissioned work and I would also like to showcase my ‘arty ‘ type glass via exhibitions.

Star Pendant

Did you study arts? What was your course, where did you study and for how long?
I studied design, fine art and architectural and decorative glass at the Glasgow Metropolitan College.  I studied for four years, the last two years were spent learning all about glass.

Did you have any work experience in arts and crafts prior to setting up in business?

I’ve always loved art but I didn’t get interested in crafts until I was married though I had been taught how to crochet by my Granny when I was a little girl.  I enjoyed teaching myself various crafts and got really into salt dough modelling and used to sell my creations at craft fairs.  More recently I’ve been working at the local youth club teaching the children arts and crafts.

When did you set up in business and what inspired to you do that?
I set up my business this year after completing my glass course.  The course was geared to teaching students how to set up their own business because of the nature of the work they do.

What advice would you give someone who was thinking about setting up in your type of business?
My advice would be to first of all learn all you can about running a business and research whether there is a market for your glass work or service.  Decide whether you are dedicated enough to cope with the business side of things (and all which that entails) and not just the ‘creating’ side as this could make or break your business.  If you apply all you have learned thoroughly then your business has got a good chance of succeeding.

Leaf Earrings

Where do you get your design inspiration from?
Design inspiration for my jewellery comes from my interest in abstract forms which involves looking at shape, texture and colour. I am also inspired by nature.

Approximately how long does it take to design and make one of your glass pendants?
It depends on which type of pendant I am making.  Cutting the glass and placing abstract pieces is a fairly quick process.  This can take from 10-30 minutes.  The glass has then to go into the kiln to be fired.  With my kiln the process takes approximately one hour.  If I am painting the pendant, waiting for the paint to cure then baking it again this can take a further day and a half.  Further time is spent putting on the bail and making the necklace, this takes one day due to curing time.  So really a pendant can take from 1 -3 days to make.

You are a supporter of work HANDMADE IN SCOTLAND.  Is there a website for this?  How can readers find out more about it?

You know the internet is a big place and Scotland is a very small country.  Small, yet talented. Like all other small countries in the world including our neighbours within the UK …. England, Ireland and Wales I feel strongly that our arts and crafts should be promoted to the rest of the world.

Abstract Fused Glass Pendant by Fiona Macneil

If you are interested in supporting small countries then I suggest using search engines for specific crafting areas which interest you within the country of your choice.  There is also a facility within Etsy which allows you to shop “locally.”  Again, just type in the country of your choice.

Although I do not work for the ‘Scottish Tourist Information’ service … lol … their website can be found on-line at

I am also a member of the only ‘Scottish Team ‘ on Etsy.  It’s called McEtsy … great name!  If you want to find work from Scotland from this group of ladies then just type McEtsy into your search whilst on the Etsy site.

Glass Pendant by Fiona Macneil

Purchase Fiona’s products at


Bold rings, necklaces and bracelets are big this year October 20, 2008

Posted by Marjorie Cunningham of Marjorie’s Cracked Plate Jewelry

Everywhere you look in 2008, you’ll see bigger, bolder jewelry.  While the trend is to wear less jewelry, the jewelry that is being worn is large and more unique.  Celebrities and fashion designers are wearing more statement pieces and large, colorful show stoppers. I’ve picked a few of my favorites to give you some ideas on where you can start with accessorizing jewelry.

One of the biggest trends is chunky cocktail rings.  Look at the size of this ring on Angelina Jolie—and what a gorgeous color!

I particularly like this beautiful coin charm bracelet by Pianegonda, a sterling silver Italian jewelry line. This piece is stunning and yet simple.

Another designer of this year’s big, bold jewelry look is Stephen Webster.   Christina Aguilera is shown here wearing his jewelry.


Now That’s Wicked October 2, 2008

If Athena were all grown up into a real web site, she would want to be just like Updated daily with chief editor Liz Nonnemacher of Chicago at the helm, the site tagline is “Independent Shopping for the Wickedly Fashionable.” Liz is an indie fashion expert, and her mission in life is to get women out of the mall and into the wildly fashionable world of independent designers. As Liz says: “I knew that there had to be others out there like myself who were tired of seeing the same big-box stores in every town in the U.S. We help women whiz through a world of fashion that they never knew existed.” Now that’s wicked.


Ecologically-Sound Baubles October 1, 2008

For the ultimate in green jewelry, check out Italian-born Patrizia Iacino’s cocktail-worthy rings made from the recycled rubberbands off broccoli bunches and glam necklaces fashioned from milkcaps. Trained in Florence as an architect and now a New York City dweller, Iacino began creating recycled jewelry about a year ago. Mixing recycled items with precious metals, stones and pearls, the result is truly stunning. Check out Patrizia’s fab jewelry here.