The crafted object : ArtKvarta {jewellery}

Yulia grew up in a small town in the Ukraine, with few opportunities and conservative attitudes towards art, but she always loved making things with her hands. She never wanted to work in an office for someone else, and just wanted to make a living doing something that she loved. It was a struggle, and her parents were against her pursuing that life.


artkvarta - red eyelash earrings

artkvarta – red eyelash earrings


artkvarta - autumn earrings

artkvarta – autumn earrings


But she was obstinate. She moved to Lviv when she was 20, and studied at the Academy of Arts. When she graduated, she bought herself some tools and started making some work to sell. “And I got it! I’ve always tried to do my jewelry better and neater. Constantly invent new forms and styles.”

“Over time, I had so much work that I could no longer work alone. I am looking for someone to help and found my husband Eduard. Now we are working together and this is our family business now.”


artkvarta - greens suns - necklace

artkvarta – greens suns – necklace


artkvarta - fish skeleton earrings

artkvarta – fish skeleton earrings


Inspired principally by Tiffany glass, there are also hints of mid-century modern style, surrealism, Victoriana, and popular culture. The resulting jewellery is rustic yet elegant, defined by its rich colours and its blackened copper lines. Yu loves glass because it never loses its colour, and always looks different in different lights.

The husband and wife team regularly participate in markets and festivals around their region, and Yu says it’s one of the things that she loves about her work – talking with other folk is fun, and is also helpful in understanding what customers want.


artkvarta - orange and black flower brooch

artkvarta – orange and black flower brooch


artkvarta - little green pocket mirror

artkvarta – little green pocket mirror


She describes Lviv as a very beautiful old city, but is thinking that it’s time to move on. “Now my husband and I are looking for a better place for ourselves and our business, because our country is good to visit, but bad to live here. We want to live in a place where there is less corruption and more opportunities for development.”


artkvarta - workspace

artkvarta – workspace


artkvarta - yu & Ed

ArtKvarta – Yu & Ed


With regards to living the life that you want, she doesn’t think you should worry about finding the answers first, but just keep on moving: “The thoughts will materialize, so think about the possibilities and do what you love.”


You can find more of Yulia’s jewellery in their Etsy shop, ArtKvarta.


Meet the Sponsors – October


Seriously, where does the time go? Here I am at the end of October, and haven’t said thanks to my sponsors yet? Well, thanks! I really do like having you here 🙂

So nice to welcome back some old friends, and so lovely to see some new ones!

Welcome back to my good friend Jemima from My Liefie. Jemima bush-dyes her easy-wear leggings, tops and skirts, all in wonderful natural fabrics such as silk, and silky merino. The dyeing process uses a variety of native plants with shibori techniques, resulting a wide range of earthy colours in wonderful patterns. You can find her in her Etsy shop, MyLiefie.

my liefie

my liefie


You should all know about *Bespoke* magazine by now – it’s a wonderful read! Recipes, illustration, vintage-inspired goodness… so much packed into a small space. Gorgeous stuff! You can get the latest issue in either digital or paper here And read the blog too!

bespoke - winter/spring issue

bespoke – winter/spring issue


SO excited to be working with Libby at the moment – she is helping me with a fresh blog makeover! Sneak peeks so far reveal a very clean and wonderfully responsive site, with some extra clever bits – I’m very impressed, and can’t wait to share! Libby can do all sorts of techy stuff with html and css to make your site look great AND easy to use. She’s got WordPress themes, social media icons and more. You can find her at

crimson pear - wordpress themes & design

crimson pear – wordpress themes & design


Welcome again to Fiona Parry-Jones, an interior colour consultant working out of Melbourne. Fiona holds regular workshops which go through the process of analysing your colour requirements and teaches you how to get exactly the colour result you’re looking for in your home. Her next workshop is on Saturday, November 16th 2013. You can find out more details on her website,

von haus - colour workshop

von haus – colour workshop


A very special welcome to my new sponsor Ruthie, from The Silver Forge! Ruthie does all sorts of beautiful rings, pendants and earrings, and specialises in one of a kind jewellery – and if you want a custom order, she is more than happy to help! She’s got a fab collection of gemstones to choose from and is always ready to find you something special if you need it. And this month, she is donating 10% of her sales to the Queensland Rural Fire Brigades Association – SUCH a worthwhile organisation! Well done. You can find Ruthie at

silver forge october 13

silver forge october 13


Thank you again. I truly appreciate the support of my sponsors, and I would love it you could support them.

Julie x

The crafted object : Jibby and Juna {polymer clay jewellery}

When she was tiny, Genevieve Williamson used to play with her imaginary friends, Jibby and Juna.  It is the perfect name for her polymer clay jewellery. “In my mind they still epitomize childhood, freedom, imagination and most importantly, play.”


jibby and juna - fragment ring in ivory

jibby and juna – fragment ring in ivory


Originally studying art at university with a concentration in crafts and metal, she came to polymer quite by accident in 2007. “Someone gifted me all of their old supplies – all the basics, everything to get me started.  I had trained as a metal smith but didn’t have space for a studio at the time and found that polymer wonderfully filled a creative niche for me. I 2008 I opened my Etsy shop.”

Experience with ceramics, wood and textiles during her time as a craft major, in addition to her metal experience, has all fed into her work now: “Some bit of knowledge from each of these disciplines can be applied to polymer clay.”


jibby and juna - fragment drop earrings in black and white

jibby and juna – fragment drop earrings in black and white


“Inspiration can come from anywhere, or maybe I should say everywhere. Despite the simplicity of a lot of my work, to me it feels like a combination of things I’ve seen or heard or learned coming together as  visual ideas.  I do a lot general sketching, just shapes, forms, lines, just sort of thinking with a pencil.  Then I play around with clay, I form and cut shapes, I add texture.  I make components and let them sit on my work table so I can manipulate them and play with them until I figure out what my next step toward a completed piece will be.”

“I love that quote by Picasso,

‘Inspiration exists but it has to find us working.’ “


jibby and juna - sediment 1 bracelet

jibby and juna – sediment 1 bracelet


jibby and juna - bubble earrings in inky blue

jibby and juna – bubble earrings in inky blue


She has always been inspired by great art. Her father was a high school art teacher and painter so she was taken to galleries and museums often.”I have very early memories of some specific artists…Alexander Calder, Henri Matisse, Paul Klee, Miro.

“My Mom said I once stood in front of a Mondrian and did a little jig. I must have only been about three. She said I told her the shapes made me happy.”


“What interests me has expanded as I’ve gotten older but I’m still really drawn to strong graphics, bold shapes and asymmetric design.”


jibby and juna - The Tide earrings in blue

jibby and juna – The Tide earrings in blue


jibby and juna - black sheep necklace

jibby and juna – black sheep necklace


After almost six years with her business, Genevieve’s worst experience happened quite early on. “One of my earliest pieces of jewelry broke soon after the customer got it in the mail. She sent me photos but I couldn’t tell if she did something to it intentionally or if the error was mine. She wouldn’t send the piece back for me to examine but I refunded her money anyway and then I threw myself into learning more baking/curing process for polymer.  I purchased a probe thermometer with a timer and my husband and I ran tests on at least 6 different ovens. The experience was really upsetting but it taught me to pay very strict attention to the curing process.”


jibby and juna - on the workbench

jibby and juna – on the workbench


“The best piece of advice I’ve ever gotten was to carefully observe. I clearly remember my Dad telling me when I was learning to draw from observation that I should be looking more at the thing I was drawing than at my own drawing. Its good advice for drawing and good advice for life. Pay attention, look for detail, really strive to see what’s there and don’t be overly consumed with yourself.”


You can find more of Jibby and Juna in their Etsy shop, jibbyandjuna, and on Genevieve’s own site, (which includes her blog, full of luscious photos.)

The crafted object : Margaux Lange ~ jeweller

I heart Margaux Lange’s work. I love how it uses repetition of forms to create new textures and shapes. I love how it extracts elements and puts them into new contexts. I love how it uses juxtaposition to create conversations, to question ideas and to inject a sense of the subversive into the mainstream. I love its sense of fun.

I love that it dismembers an icon. And that it does it with beauty and respect.

margaux lange - hearrings

margaux lange – hearrings


Margaux Lange has made a career out of cutting up Barbies and making them into wearable jewellery. These are not just any Barbies though; part of their identity is that they have had another life in the hands of a child before they are reused in one of her pieces. She likes the idea that they are saved from landfill, but having had another life also adds to their mystique and the depth of their stories – what child had this? What imaginings has this doll already lived and loved within?

Barbie has always been a part of Margaux’s life; she admits to being obsessed with them as a child. “I would spend hours crafting precious details for her and the miniature world in which she existed. Barbie dolls played a pivotal role in my childhood development. I used the dolls as a tool for exploring human relationships in my own life, as well as my imagined fantasy lives. I would lose myself for hours within the world I created.” She says that having complete control over scenarios, and the creativity and exploration they allow in this way can be a great source of empowerment for a child. “My experience with Barbie was uniquely positive in this way.”


margaux lange - smile earrings

margaux lange – smile earrings


margaux lange - smile brooch in red

margaux lange – smile brooch in red


Even as a teenager, Barbie was never too far away. She made a reappearance in Margaux’s high school drawings and sculptures, and again at college (she completed her BFA in 2001 at the The Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore). Deciding to focus on using found objects in her work at college, she naturally fell again to Barbie, and the beginnings of The Plastic Body Series was born.

Now, Margaux spends a lot of time sketching in her sketchbook, but also spends time taking a bunch of snaps on her phone, checking out different configurations of body parts. Her methods of design and making vary with whatever it is she is working on. Sometimes she works within a concept, conveying a particular message, and other times it all comes down to creating textures and forms with the various parts.


margaux lange - pop smile necklaces

margaux lange – pop smile necklaces


There are always detractors; people who complain about the unhealthy body image of Barbie, and question Margaux’s use of her. “Despite my obsession with Barbie as a child, I do not have any recollection of ever wanting to look like her. In my opinion, there are far more damaging pop-culture icons and celebrities that children and teens try to emulate –made of flesh and bone and not plastic. That is not to say that Barbie is insignificant in shaping a child’s self image; however I believe Barbie’s influence is much too complex an issue to simply condemn as destructive. Each child’s experience with her is unique and therein lies the value.”

“I’ve heard every possible reaction you can imagine. I started a blog with
some of the comments about my work that I’ve come across on the internet. It’s called
Creepy but Cool. It was my way of managing and sharing some of the comments my
work has received, both positive and negative {}.”


margaux lange - the kiss in black and white

margaux lange – the kiss in black and white


But overwhelmingly, there are a wide range of people who love it – art jewellery collectors, Barbie nostalgics, and “bold individuals who aren’t afraid to wear jewelry that sparks a conversation.”

“Some people respond to its humor and think it’s clever and fun, or it feeds a sense of nostalgia for them. Some wear it as a feminist statement and others simply appreciate it because it’s unique and beautifully hand-crafted. I encourage all responses. As long as people are reacting and talking about it, that’s a good thing.”


margaux lange - busted heart pendant - photo (c) quad graphics

margaux lange – busted heart pendant – photo (c) quad graphics


“I explore many concepts but I prefer that people read into the works what they will. My
hope is that they will recognize the work’s humor and wit just as much as its layered
conceptuality. There are various dimensions one can read into any given piece in the
series and that’s part of the fun. Art is meant to engage and I believe it can also be
humorous and irreverent.”

Well, that it is.


margaux lange - queen e pendant - photo (c) r desantis

margaux lange – queen e pendant – photo (c) r desantis


You can find Margaux’s pieces in numerous galleries in the US and around the world, and you can also check more of her work on her own website,, and purchase it in her Etsy store.


The crafted object : blingiebot – 3D printed jewellery


If you ever have the opportunity to go see a 3D printer in action, DO IT. I was lucky enough to catch one in action when the Questacon Science Circus came through town, and it is the most gobsmacking bit of tech I have seen in quite a while. The tech itself has been around for a few years, but it is only relatively recently that they have become cheap enough to be available domestically.

Each object is first designed on screen using a special 3D computer program, before it is sent to the printer. There are few different types of printers, but the one I saw is probably the most common, with a heated print head that feeds out a thin stream of molten plastic. The head moves around parallel to the tabletop, printing one layer of the object at a time before lifting up to print the next layer (kinda like stacking up pancakes – so that if you make smaller and smaller pancakes, your stack will end up resembling a cone shape). You can print pretty much any shape you like – EVEN WORKING PARTS FOR AN ENGINE. Gobsmacking, I tell you!

So I was rather excited to see these very fun rings from blingiebot – a side project of Burt Isenstein, Adjunct Assistant Professor in Contemporary Practices at the School of The Art Institute of Chicago, and also one half of Nancy Gardner & Burt Isenstein Ceramics who I featured a while ago here.


blingiebot - screenshot designs

blingiebot – screenshots of designs


Burt told me a bit about the process. He explained that because the process works in layers, structural support is required to support and stabilize the form, and then the support is removed after printing. Where the support is removed, there is often a bit of compromise in the final surface, and it is for this reason that he usually tries printing the same design in various orientations (eg. completely upright, or tilted side-on as in this image) to see which orientation results in the best print.

“The additive process of printing this way tends to leave fine lines that are visible on the surface.  There are other (very expensive) printers that print smoother objects but I’ve decided to “embrace” the lines as an inherent aspect of the finished object. I find the patterns that are formed by the lines, particularly in the transparent PLA, to be rather beautiful as they refract light.”


blingiebot - 3D printer

blingiebot – 3D printer


I asked Burt about how he came to 3D printing.

“Here’s the story. I’ve been interested in the idea of 3D modeling for a good number of years, but never had enough time to delve into the software and found it to be somewhat unapproachable.

“Our department purchased three Makerbot 3D printers this spring. Our Department chair, in his wisdom, made arrangements for faculty members to take the printers home to get up to speed for the Fall semester.


blingiebot - birthday flower blue

blingiebot – birthday flower blue


blingiebot - blingnut two part ring

blingiebot – blingnut two part ring


“I brought one home and struggled with the machine for a while but was completely captivated by the process, drawing an idea on the computer, printing it, adjusting and tweaking, printing again, etc. My time with the school’s printer was limited and it had to be returned.


“I couldn’t imagine how it would be possible to live without a 3D printer so I placed an order for my own.



blingiebot - blingnut yellow

blingiebot – blingnut yellow


blingiebot - blingnuts

blingiebot – blingnuts


“After generating some organic abstract forms on the computer I played around with some rings and realized that it is the perfect format to for me to work with sculptural ideas and provides me with a definite set of parameters to focus within.

“I’ve long been attracted to contemporary primitive style jewelry and blingiebot is paying homage to that art form. My rings have a lot in common with ideas for ceramic sculpture I’ve made over the years, but the process of designing on the computer and printing my designs is allowing me to work through ideas much more quickly and answer formal questions that were just too hard to get to working in clay .


blingiebot - bunchaballs

blingiebot – bunchaballs


blingiebot - diamond bling - magenta

blingiebot – diamond bling – magenta


“One of the most exciting aspects of blingiebot is that it allows me to make these little sculptures that people can wear but can also afford to buy. My grandfather was a jeweler and my father was in the printing business so in a way printing jewelry seems completely logical.”


blingiebot will be appearing at the Art vs Craft show in Milwaukee, and you can always find them on their very own website, and their Etsy shop, blingiebot.