Sunday, November 20, 2011

Online Exploring Handmade Holiday Shopping for handmade with your holiday purchases!

While checking your list and planning your purchases for the holidays, you'll be missing out if you don't head over to Designs by Debi's Exploring Handmade Online Holiday Shopping Event. Currently in Day 5 of a parade of incredibly talented artisans in a variety of crafts and handmade businesses, you will be treated to a nice, well-rounded offering of what's available as an alternative to big box stores, and impersonal gift offerings. Like me, the artisans represented put heart and soul as well as intense thought and design into everything they make, and most often can also personalize or customize for your intended recipient. Buying handmade shows that you value the cottage industry of artisans worldwide, and votes for that value by placing your gifting budget with those who benefit directly from your thoughtful purchases! So, please...take a look and brace yourself for an eye-opening experience. Gift yourself! Vote for Main Street this Holiday season! Make sure you check out each day of the event, and glance back at the previous days. You won't be disappointed in the talent and accomplishment displayed!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Facelifts and advertising...

I need a facelift. No, not cosmetic surgery, but my blog and brand need a facelift. As time has come along, my style has changed a little, I've acquired new skills, and my jewelry has taken on a new daring. I'm not afraid to go big. and bold. and chunky. Well, that just suits my personality (and, I'm afraid, my figure!). So with all the wonderful photography being done of my pieces recently by awesome photographers like Araceli Diaz, Sarah Dial, and others, it's pretty much time to give my business a facelift. One that note, please enjoy the following photos, from my recent photo shoots, and model photography... and the new stuff will filter into my online image in the next few weeks! Thanks to the great photogs and models who make it all happen! I appreciate you!
Top photo -- by Araceli Diaz, model is Danyelle...Shell flower and copper wire scrollwork necklace, inspired by the CCC group (Color Combo Challenge) on Facebook. Second photo by Sarah Dial at Dial Photography, model is Heather Portferfield. Third, photo by Appleseed Photography (

Friday, September 2, 2011

Medusa...of the sea creature kind...

color combo challenge facebook laurastaley.etsy.comI'm rocking along with the weekly color challenge! Week 38 brought colors reminiscent of the sea shore, and, since it's late in the summer, this seemed most appropriate. I started musing about the materials I wanted to use, and my first thought was sea glass.

Now, I purchased a lot of sea glass from a lady who lives and combs the beaches in Scotland. When I first joined Etsy, I was looking for some for a project, and it's so beautiful I've only used it sparingly since then. The glass is really old, from a glass company that was located on a bluff near where she picks up the sea glass, and was in business from the 17th to the 19th centuries. So THAT, I thought, was really cool. But I wanted to use more than one piece, being the over-the-top optimist that I am, and then my stash of recycled glass beads sparked an idea. Pulling from a suggestion from a friend of mine, I decided to create a jellyfish pendant, and call it Medusa.

In mythology, Medusa was an evil character whose visage turned people into stone. I wasn't fond of that connotation, but the jellyfish is a different story. Our family trips to various aquariums (especially the one in Atlanta) and the beach have given us plenty of exposure to these gracefully swimming mysterious wonders. Have you ever seen one swimming? Gorgeous! I thought the idea was perfect for my challenge piece.

medusa jellyfish facebook or creativejewelrydesignsbylaurastaley on facebook
My "Medusa" is made from recycled "sea glass" beads. Glass is taken, shaped, drilled and tumbled or etched with chemicals, then left in it's frosted and unpolished state, resembling sea glass. The colors of glass used also suggest sea glass that would be gathered on a trip to the beach. I used copper wire and made the frame for the jelly, along with tentacle elements that would suggest the tangle of the tendrils falling from the underside of the actual jellyfish. The pendant was finished, and I chose sea foam green faceted barrels and small white faceted rondelles for the strands suspending the pendant, and added a hand forged clasp with extender chain to make it adjustable. After the necklace was all assembled, the shiny copper frame and "arms" needed a patina.

Metal is so much fun. Shaping it and bending it to your will can be very satisfying. You can pound it with a hammer, burn it with a torch, or texture and shape it with just about any tool. It can also bring out your inner chemist. After remembering the AC repair guy saying that full-strength bleach was too caustic to put in my AC unit, I thought maybe I should do just that to the copper. I used Tilex Mildew Root remover, because it was the strongest bleach spray I could find )plus I happen to use the product in our bathrooms). Lining a plastic container with folded paper towels, I sprayed the piece with the Tilex, snapped the lid on, and set it out on my porch. Bleach degrades when exposed to sunlight, so I changed the contents every couple days and watched the finish develop. I've used household ammonia with sea salt, and I'm told that MiracleGro works as well. I'm not sure if Tilex needs an additive like salt as a catalyst; it seemed to work fine without it, though it was rather slow. 10 days after I first put the necklace into what I've started calling my patina pot, it was ready to be washed and finished.

Where the "Tropical Storm Warning" necklace (in the "Monkey Business" color combo, week 34) had the ammonia/sea salt patina that is very blue, this patina is a verdigris. Spots of lichen-green scale adorn various points along the wire wrapped portions, and the scrollwork has a pale misty green finish. I'm really happy with the way it turned out!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Keeping yourself inspired in your craft...

Inspiration comes in waves for me. What about you? Sometimes I can be clipping along, jotting down sketches of pieces I want to make, and creating custom orders, but this summer -- no custom orders, so creativity, I was in a genuine slump.

I have a few different techniques that work when I encounter this roadblock to progress. how do you handle it? Here's just a sampling, and then I'll share another technique that's revolutionized my outlook and revitalized my business.

1) Keep a sketchbook handy. Doodles can become masterpieces. Just look at Leonardo da Vinci! You don't have to be an artist to sketch out pieces or crafts you want to create -- your minds-eye will do the rest. But, you DO have to start somewhere. Try sketching shapes that strike you, or textures. Or grab some colored pencils and try some color combos. Try to visualize a focal piece or area, and go from there. Or, make lists. And doodle images of your list points.

2) Set aside time, or a regular period of the day, when you know you're most creative. Hire someone to come do your laundry, or trade housework duties with a friend. Lightening your load may clear your brain.
3) Find music that inspires you. My mood swings back and forth (no, not PMS) between quiet worshipful music, New Age, and classical. I need calming music to clear my mind and let the juices flow. Maybe you need energy and rhythm in your music. Whatever your muse, find it and place the player (or go to and create your own station) in your creating space.

4) Reorganize that mess! If you could see my work space, you'd gasp. Really. It's terrible. I have a photo of my work space about a month ago in my Facebook fan page album. It's hard to create when you can't find your materials, or that ONE thing you bought that came in last week... Now, mind you, it's greatly improved from THAT, but it's a constant battle.

5) Try a new technique. Even if you have to pay for and take a class, this can give you a big shot in the arm. Places like have tutorials. Or your local bead store, which could probably use a boost during this recession, would probably love to show you a few new things.

6) Browse sites with other artists like
yourself. Or pick up some trade magazines when you're out.

AND, the new technique that's really revolutionized my creative flow, join a group that will PUSH you to create. The muse I'm currently JAMMING with is a Facebook group known as CCC Color Combo group. Every week the members vote on a color palette that everyone will use to create a project in their craft. Some choose jewelry, some paint, everybody has the same colors. The photos in this post are the results of recent challenges, and my inspiration from them. Join us, if you'd like!! Such a wonderful group of creative people, and we support each other in our craft. Some of us sell our creations, some do not. Either way, we're having a blast!!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Rings and Things Blog Challenge

Reading through my past posts on my blog, I realized I've been remiss at posting the results of the blog challenge from Rings and Things!
To recap, On March 24th, Rings and Things drew 15 lucky blog partner participants for their design challenge. These winners received a package of copper beads to craft their entries. Then, when the entries were completed, each participant submitted their photos to Rings and Things for judging.

My entry used the small fluted "seed" beads, the copper heishi, the awesome "Spool" beads that looked like vertebrae, and the oval brushed copper beads. I constructed flowers
with unakite top drilled nuggets from Magpie Gemstones, other unakite beads I picked up elsewhere, and some luscious o
live green beads (I think they're dyed quartz, even though they look like new jade) that I picked up in a de-stash sale on Etsy. I added some nice heavy gauge copper, 14-16 gauge, and hand forged copper findings, and we were off tot he races! Here's the end result -- my submission to the contest.... and another photo as a close-up...

Creating the necklace for this challenge was an interesting journey for me. Once I received the beads, creative sparks started popping like Fourth of July fireworks, and narrowing down the ideas was a real chore! The submission necklace was more about the availability of materials and my opportunity to construct it than a conscious decision on the the best submission to win the contest. Already, though, the necklace has received quite a bit of interest and attention when I've worn it to the various events that I attend. That's the point of it all, anyway, for me. Not the attention, but the opportunity to flew my creative muscle in ways I might not have imagined before. Gemstone flowers are high on my list of creative projects, and I have about 5 of them currently in different stages of production, so hopefully the success of this one will be a catalyst to finish those projects and get them listed in my shop!

And now, for the winner of the competition -- the cutest creation of all of them .... Kym Hunter's felt ring... Congratulations!! Now, if you'd like to see ALL of the deisgns that were posted for the contest, you can do that. Just head over to the Rings & Things blog to take a look.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Concepts and photo shoots and fashion shows, oh MY!

It's been a busy month. Building your own business takes a lot of effort and time, not to mention building technical skills and finding a niche. I've been very pleased to have found a great circle of creative talent, here in Jacksonville! They're very active and pursuing new venues and looks while building their own businesses as well. I'm having such a great time!

My friend Christy at Christy Whitehead Photography invited me to be part of an innovative photo shoot at a new wedding venue just outside of Jacksonville -- with a big red barn, a covered bridge, and lots of farm equipment to boot. What a thrill! This down-the-back piece was designed just for that event. It features genuine chandelier crystals and wire wrapped focals as a stunning exclamation point for an open-backed dress.

Another fun event this month was the Jacksonville "Relay for Life" Fashion show, hosted by Sarah Dial Photography and The Majestic Planner. You can see photos from the fashion show in this album on Facebook. I was paired with designer Robyn Crews of Reused422 and designed necklace sets to go with her super cute rompers and casual fashions. What fun! We had a night of glamorous fashion to raise funds ($1500!) for the Relay for Life drive with the American Cancer Society. I was there remembering my dad, who died in 2006 from aggressive lung cancer that spread throughout his body, and my grandmother, who died of cancer in 2001.

Last but not least, Bethany Walker of Mady Joe Photography asked to use some of my pieces for a Bridal shoot at the Casa Monica Hotel in St. Augustine's historic district. How could I refuse!! Take a look at her beautiful images here , here, and here. I'll try to post some when I get a chance. WHEW!! Now that I have a chance to breathe, I think I'll work on some pieces that I've been ruminating on for a while...

Monday, March 21, 2011

Vintage bling gets a face-lift!

With spring rolling around, several of my photography and makeup artist friends have been itching to get outside, try out new lenses, and capture some of the gorgeous Florida weather for their portfolios. To my GREAT delight, they've asked me to contribute some new pieces to feature on their models. I love it!! Designing for a photo shoot or fashion show is fun because I get to dream up something new and exciting, and a little "out there." Now, I absolutely LOVE doing custom work, and working inside the constraints of budget, and the customer's vision, as well as designing to fit a particular look, but with fashion designing my mind gets to wander a little, or in this case a LOT!

Here's a sneak preview of a new line I'm starting, featuring metals in all their glory, and surprise! Chandelier crystals! This is the first piece. I purchased these vintage crystals from a salvage vendor on Etsy, one of my favorite places to pick up material for design work. The small beads were obviously hand faceted, and were attached to the crystals by their usual brass findings. Separating them helped me to finish out the concept for this piece. The frame is 16 gauge copper, and the crystals are wired on with smaller gauge copper. The chain is also solid copper. The resulting focal area of the piece is about 5 x 5 1/2, which might be called massive by some, but since I'm sort of known for being a little bit of a loudmouth, or at the least too talkative, it's probably no surprise to the people I know and interact with in my business. By the way, please check out my shop on Etsy, or fan my Facebook page to keep up with new creations and listings. This one is going to the photo shoot this week, then will be listed when I get some good photos of it next week.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I Love a Challenge, don't you?

Quick Shout Out... about the Rings and Things Design challenge!!

Aren't these Gorgeous!!

One week from today, on Thursday, March 24th, they'll do a drawing & pick 15 lucky participants. Then they'll send those 15 people a packet of these satin-finish copper beads.

Those 15 will have 1 month to provide photos of the jewelry they make with these beads. Out of all those entries, Rings & Things will pick a Design Challenge winner to receive a surprise pack of our jewelry supplies! What's not to like about THAT?

So, right now, run over the the Rings and Things Blog and enter. You have nothing to lose, but awesome beads to gain! WOohoo!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Of Bridal Shows and Wedding Models, part 2!

Instead of a cheesy Hollywood sequel, today's "Part 2" post continues the bridal show theme, and my recent opportunity to create pieces for the fashion show portion of the Ultimate Bridal Fantasy Show at the Renaissance Resort in St. Augustine's World Golf Village. What a fun show! My friend, Faythe, International Makeup Artist and owner of A Glamour Bride, was over-seeing the affair for the bridal show. I was excited to be working with Bridals and More, a local Mom and Daughter bridal store. Their inventory is GORGEOUS! Check out the photo of the models in part one. Their selection is amazing!

custom bridal jewelry at
cornflake pearls and bridal jewelry at
My first set features cornflake (or "keishi") pearls embracing crystal clear glass beads for sparkle. What's fun about this set is the AB (Aurora Borealis, or rainbow) finish that makes the beads look like soap bubbles! With the warm softness of the cream-colored pearls and the iridescent finish on the glass beads, the necklace has a shimmer that will only (barely) mirror the glow on the bride's face.

Next, two strands of glass pearls are lassoed by
rhinestone spacers, and accented by crystal drops for an elegant collar. Everything about this necklace can be customized, from the color of the pearls, to the metal, gold silver or even copper can be used, and my spacer supplier has 1000s of different styles that we could use as well. The depth of the scallops can also be altered.
custom bridal orders at
The clasp is a fold-over magnetic clasp. It will not come off if, for some reason, Aunt Ethel tackles you with one of her big rib-snapping hugs (you know the one).I'll make matching complementary earrings, of course.

contemporary bridal jewelry
My next creation is more contemporary. Many brides will choose a traditional gown, to please their family, and then add a snazzy necklace set to suit their personality. Whatever floats your boat! It's your day. LIVE IT!
brides and bridesmaids jewelry at
This set has hand-knapped quartz
rectangular beads, and I wanted to accent their roughness with the beauty of flowers.
These little brass beauties are filled with sparkly seed beads, and are framed with gold and silver chain. The scalloped chain is graduated, meeting in the back with two strands ended in crystal.

custom orders always welcome at
Last, and certainly not least, is a custom order I was creating at the same time as all of the other pieces for the Bridal show. A lovely Etsy bride ordered a hair comb from my shop, and hers was my 100th sale during my time on Etsy.
bridal hair accessories at
To celebrate, I made her some matching hair pins as extras for her hair stylist, in case they wanted to use them during her hair trial and on the "big day." It's so much fun to create these bridal hair accessories! Part sculpture and part jewelry, the end effect with an "updo" is stunning, and can be the finishing touch for the bridal look. Can't wait to see her lovely photos.

I really enjoy working with brides. The joy, anticipation and the thrill of a wedding is contagious. It's like creating the embodiment of their happiness. Tall order, but inspiring nonetheless. To capture the essence of their personality, and their optimism for their new life is pure satisfaction.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Of Bridal Shows and Wedding Models...

wedding jewelry fashions from laurastaley.etsy.comI was recently picked to design the bridal jewelry for the fashion show at The Ultimate Bridal Fantasy Show, held at the convention center in the Renaissance Resort at the World Golf Village. A daunting task, for sure, when I was informed there were nine (9!) models, and no opportunity to see the dresses beforehand to get an idea of the designs I needed to create! Well, as most things do, everything turned out just right.
Here are a few photos of the pieces made for the show, as well as the beautiful models. Photography of the models by Stephie Joy Photography.

pearl wedding necklace with crystals at

First item up for consideration is a piece I started for a bride married last September. When her design needs changed, I liked where this one was going, so I soldiered on. Freshwater pearls and rhinestones accent faceted Swarovski Crystal flowers and pendants, and are held together by an Argentium Silver swirled wirework frame. I balled the ends of the frame with my torch for a more delicate presentation. Meant to sit at the collarbone, the chain is adjustable to fit different shapes and sizes.
pearl and rhinestone hair comb wedding accessory

Next up is a bridal comb that could be a matching piece to the one above, or separate. It's a small comb, but it makes a statement. Rhinestones and crystals and swirls of silver will add a glimmer to your updo, or serve as an anchor for a birdcage veil.

scarlett o'hara reproduction in pearls and crystal wedding jewelry at

My next creation is a reproduction of a reproduction. I've created and produced a reproduction of Scarlett O'Hara's necklace from the Bar-B-Que in Gone With the Wind, and it's available for purchase in my shop. I love the design, so I decided to render it with the same findings, but in pearls, rhinestones, and crystal. Success! The result is as delicate as the original piece, but suitable for a bridal set.

beaded bead wedding jewelry and accessories

Fourth in line is a simple strand of not-so-simple elements. These netted beaded beads are a design from a tutorial by In these beads, I used Moonstone, with a pretty blue flash, teardrop seed beads, czech glass, and silver-lined seed beads. Paired with mother-of-pearl coins and alternated with crystal, this simple necklace is elegant, intricate and graceful. Matching earrings complete the set.

This is Part 1 of my amazing January Bridal journey. Part 2, coming soon! Probably tomorrow...

Monday, November 29, 2010

A medieval tradition among the Troubador poets of Provance equated the hunt of the hart (male deer) with the hunt of the heart(pursuit of the beloved [or love itself] by the lover).

In Medieval times, the hart was a highly respected animal, and had great symbolic and mythological significance. It was often compared to Christ for its suffering; a well-known story tells of how St. Eustace was converted to Christianity by seeing a crucifix between the antlers of a stag while hunting. Images of the stag dominate historical texts, testifying to the prominence of the deer in culture. It signified royalty, and only kings and the aristocracy were allowed to hunt for this magnificent animal.

It's hard to come up with words to describe this necklace. Honey-colored tumbled agate and bold rounds of red agate accent a breathtaking hand-carved stag pendant. The wire wrapping for this piece is in anti-tarnish 18 gauge brass wire, and the individual yellow agate beads are also wrapped with brass wire. The pendant features a stag in flight, bounding over the land, full of grace and power. It is rendered in a medieval style image, and, sadly, the photos do not give it justice. The earrings are matching red agate rounds, with luminous yellow tumbled agate on brass kidney wires. I will be sad to part with it, but it will be a great addition to the wardrobe of just the right lady.

Monday, August 16, 2010

From Concept to Creation....

i love custom orders at laurastaley.etsy.comcustom orders at

My newest creation was a fun collaboration between a beautiful bride and myself. After creating her bridesmaids' necklaces for her September wedding, we started to work on her bridal necklace (still under construction) and a necklace originally for her rehearsal dinner, but now to be worn as a statement piece at a friends wedding.

The color palette includes coral, green, champagne, crystal, pink, and cream. Wired gemstone and glass flowers have been on the top of my list for creating for a while, and with her own hand drawn design concept in hand, plus a nod to her bridesmaid necklaces, I created a handful of flowers, wired them to an anti-tarnish trellis of sorts, and nestled them in between juicy apple-green and other czech glass "leaves". Strawberry quartz is the focal color, with a central flower and "buds" hanging from the crystal leaf vines, and accents of crystal, seed beads, and organza round out the design. I'm really pleased with the result, and, more importantly, so is the bride!