Saturday, November 24, 2018


by Patti Vanderbloemen

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday.  As I sit here and type this blog post on my PC, I am reminded how easy it is to edit nowadays. Yes, I learned how to type on a MANUAL TYPEWRITER. In fact, I took a class in 9th grade. So while I type, delete, type delete, I realize that there are so many colloquialism's that just were not around in the 1970's. Cyber Monday in 1976? I don't think so as cyber had a whole different meaning back then....
Okay...maybe not this "Manual" hehe
Photo Credit: Grandinroad
Actually, Black Friday could have been around in those days. But we - as a rule - never even stepped foot in a store the day after Thanksgiving.  That was reserved for decorating the house for Christmas. Now, hitting the stores for massive deals The Day After Christmas, well...that's a whole different story!

Personally, I hate shopping - in stores, that is. My mother and sister will attest to this fact. Except for the grocery store, and a few local shops around town, I just don't do it. Now, shopping online is a Whole Different Story! It's magical - it's available 24 hours a day for goodness sake! No driving on I-95 (or any other over-congested-and-filled-with-road-rage-warriors-streets in Northern Virginia), no need to grab the umbrella during inclement weather, no waiting for stores to open, etc. But the best reason...I can shop in my jammies if I want to.  And I want to.

My postal carrier, UPS, and FedEx drivers personally know my face, especially during this time of year. In fact, our UPS driver is so nice that I can be driving down the road and he will be waving at me - no lie!

Photo Credit
In this little business of mine, I buy a lot of handmade goods from small businesses. Why? First off - quality control. Their good name is on the line - one bad review can be a death sentence, albeit temporary, until the problem is fixed. And if there is a problem, it will get fixed (Try that with a purchase made from stores that shall remain nameless). But, more importantly, when I can find what I need from a Small Business Owner, I know that I am receiving, oftentimes, one of a kind art. But an even more significant little factoid, is that I am helping them pay their mortgage, groceries, car payments, insurance, etc...maybe I am supporting a stay-at-home-mom who cannot afford day care, so she works from home while caring for her family. That is why I support Small Business.

Photo Credit

For every single jewelry purchase made from my small business, I like to include a little gift. I don't advertise that I do this - I just do it. For the past couple of years, I have included a sample size of soap, lotion, lip balm, or solid lotion melt, made by Catherine Pruitt of The Bathing Goddess. I have been using her products for some time now - and they are A.M.A.Z.I.N.G! I want everyone to experience the myriad of softness and scents that come from her handmade products! Cat is a mom of 5 (five!!!), and has recently returned to school to earn her nursing degree. Though she is nearly 20 years younger than me, I know for a fact that I could not accomplish in a week what she accomplishes in one day. I know she does that little "jig" every time someone purchases goods from her shop. (I'd like to see her dance that little jig in person one day) :)

The Bathing Goddess

Many of the jewelry supplies I purchase ( the middle of the night sometimes), are from small business, as well. The necklace below features gorgeous handmade artisan glass beads by Jody Brimhall (her shop can be found here). Many of her beads remind me of gemstones - so beautiful.

Artisan Glass, Wood, and Jade Necklace and Earrings
I have highlighted the uniqueness of Vincent and Nooma Cav's pewter work before on this little blog of mine.  I think it bears repeating. Vincent's shop, Inviciti, can be found here.

Amethyst Nuggets and Artisan Pewter Cross Necklace and Earrings

Each mold is carved by hand - I am particularly smitten with any of their components containing a cross.

In my book, Julie Burgard, of Outwest, is the Queen of disc shaped beads. She has a keen eye for colors and texture - but the shapes - truly perfection!

Artisan Glass Pale Blue and Sterling Silver Earrings
I would be remiss if I left out one of my favorite lampwork artists for glass cabochons, Mikelene Reusse of Growing Edge Glass. Her colors are vibrant - and there is usually a focal color or swirl that brings the eye right into the glass. Not only is she an impressive lampwork artist, but she is an incomparable silver smith - I adore her clean, modern style.

Artisan Glass Cabochon and Sterling Tension Bangle

See how she formed a rose with glass (!)  in this cabochon? Swoon-worthy!

Artisan Glass with Garnet Sterling Silver Necklace
My sometimes middle-of-the-night purchases also include gemstones. I first "met" (online of course!) Janie Mills of Jewel Suppliers through an online class. Many times, her offerings are quite unique, as she travels often!

Turquoise Spiny Oyster and Sterling Post Style Earrings
I bought those 10 mm Turquoise Spiny Oyster gemstones not too long ago, as I had a coordinating, focal size gemstone in my stash and I knew it would go perfectly! 

Turquoise Spiny Oyster Mixed Metal Pendant Necklace

If you have stuck with me this long, I thank you.  Please...during this Holiday Season (and also, whenever possible), please support the Handmade and/or Small Business community.  

I do not take the time to blog nearly as much as I want - I am gearing up for our move from Northern Virginia to Florida in February 2019.  To that end, I will be closing up my shop at the end of 2018 so that I can properly attack the massive amount of packing and associated inventory that needs to be done prior to my exit.  Sigh.

Thank you ever so much for stopping by! 


Friday, October 26, 2018 has been a while!

by Patti Vanderbloemen

I have not written a post in this blog space of mine for nearly 2 years. Frankly, I am not sure that many people actually read my posts, as it appears that Social Media has taken over the "communication stratosphere".  But, I wanted to share something that is just too verbose to put on a Face Book post.

For the past 6 months, my little family and I have been toying with the idea of moving to Florida. After several scouting trips South, we narrowed down the location to the Tampa area, as my folks lived there for over 25 years and I quite liked it! We closed on our last (I SWEAR-NOT DOING THIS ANYMORE!!) forever home last month, and we will be heading South for good sometime in February 2019.

The good news is that we will be moving less than 15 minutes away from Mom's "old neighborhood" and I am hoping there will be more interactions for her with some of her old friends!

African Turquoise and Carnelian 
It's has been very stressful, to say the least - and the move has not even begun! We have a few more trips planned (including one this upcoming week) - all related to prepping the house for final move-in.  So, my creative time in the studio these days has been extremely limited.

Hammered Copper and Silver Hoops
I am simply peppering this post with some of my latest designs - all favorites!

Patterned Sterling Silver and Blue Chalcedony

Royston Turquoise and Sterling Silver Ring
The administrative details to moving out of state are overwhelming to me - I won't bore you with the details. I have a bit of organizational OCD though, so, what is easy for some, is not for me!
Hammered Sterling Silver Hoops
In moving over 900 miles from here, I am leaving my immediate family members: sister and brother in law, nieces and their spouses, great nieces and nephews, brother and sister in law, etc. THIS has made the decision so hard. But, my in-laws also live in Florida - albeit the East Coast - and it is important to be less than 3 hours away from them now. This constant flying back and forth is a life only for the birds these days.  Life is a balancing act...

Photo Credit via Pinterest 

When we moved into our current home less than 5 years ago, I was blessed to have the studio of my dreams! I even made sure to have a sink in this space! Prior to that, my space was in my unfinished basement-definitely an upgrade.  In my new home, it will be in the garage. However, the garage is actually quite suited to metalsmithing and I will have a/c so I won't faint from the Florida heat! :) Frankly, the heat in Virginia is not much better!

In preparing to move, The Purge has begun...big time. When it comes to my studio and all my materials, I have been separating items that I just don't use anymore: lots, and lots of beads, findings,  a few tools, etc.  I don't know if I should have some sort of destash event on Face book - or just box up the whole lot and give it away to a charitable organization who may benefit from these treasured goodies.  Anyone have a suggestion? Would anyone be interested in a destash event - or - know of a place where I send these goodies off where they will actually be used?  I would appreciate any and all feed back!

There will obviously be a lag time from when I close down my online shop while I move and set up. I hope I still have customers and followers when that time scares me a bit! (Honestly, it scares me more than just a bit)

But, in the end, this will be my new view from my kitchen....I am hoping it will all be worth it when the dust finally settles!

My best to all who took the time to read this - thanks for stopping by!