Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas 2012

As February approaches, so does the particular occasion where we express our (undying?) love and devotion to that special someone in our lives…[Even if that special someone is yourself…]

Yes, I’m talking Valentine’s Day!

Okay – I’ll admit – obviously we should be showing our love and appreciation on any given day of the year, but I think it’s fun to do something romantic or sweet and silly for Valentine’s Day.  Don’t have a certain special someone? Why not do something for your best friend instead!

While my own Valentine’s Day tradition always involves some kind of homemade chocolate indulgence (a must!,) I thought I’d share a little compilation of fun Valentine’s gift ideas for those of you shopping for something unique. Here are some of my personal favorites:

Fun Valentine's Day Ideas 2012

Items shown:

1. Do You Like Me? Check Yes or No – Sweetheart Cuff Bracelet – $25 (I have 3 different styles of these available, but the check-boxes version is really a classic!)

2.  Valentine Card – 3D Hearts $4 (Yes, this is indeed awesome. You can write your own personal 3D message inside too!)

3. Greeting Card – Just The Way I Am $4 (For those with a sense of humor!)

4. Sterling Silver and Pink Pearl Drop Earrings $27 (One of my favorite earring styles, with vintage sterling silver and freshwater pearls. Available in other colors if pink isn’t your recipient’s style.)

5. Custom Couples’ Portrait Hand Carved Stamp $70 (A usable work of art! You can stamp your faces everywhere! :) This would be a really great idea to use on wedding invites or Thank You cards.)

6. Hand Blown Glass Anatomical Heart In a Jar $95 (Another work of art. A really unique and interesting piece!)

7. Fleur de Sel Swirl Marshmallows $10 (Having eaten both marshmallows and caramel from this shop, I can attest to the fact that their sweets are AMAZINGLY delicious! Super friendly shop owners, too. Definitely a great gift!)

8. Dark Chocolate Raspberry Truffles $12.95 (I haven’t tried these yet but I’m pretty sure they are delicious just by the photo alone! You really can’t go wrong with a chocolate/raspberry combo.)

Clearly I could make a list of dozens of gift ideas, but I thought I’d spare you this time. All of these gifts can be found on Etsy following the links. Enjoy!

Have any Valentine’s gift ideas you’d like to share? Maybe a favorite dessert recipe? Let me know in the comments!

Fine Silver Rose Earrings

Happy 2012! I’ve been using my new kiln for the past month, and wanted to share one of my new (sort of!) designs. “New,” referring to the medium more-so than the design. If you’ve visited my website or Etsy storefront, you’re probably familiar with my clay roses. I’ve recently returned to working with precious metal clay, and decided what better to use to start off with than the roses?

For those that aren’t familiar with precious metal clay, let me give you a brief explanation: precious metal clay is composed of microscopic particles of precious metal, held together with an organic binder. Although the working properties of this clay are slightly different than other clays (for example, it dries out much faster) it can be cut/shaped/molded/carved in a similar fashion. The clay is then dried, fired (heated/cured,) then burnished (hardened,) polished and buffed. The organic binder is burned off in the firing process, leaving just the metal behind! Pretty neat, huh?

Precious metal clay is available in fine silver, copper, bronze, gold (22k) and most recently sterling silver.  I’m using fine silver right now, since I’m already familiar with it, and will be using the copper next! (Note: Fine silver is higher quality and does contain more silver than sterling silver: .999 instead of .925.)

I thought I’d share a few photos from the process involved in making my fine silver rose earrings. It takes a long time to complete each rose (and earring) but the finished result is beautiful and well worth the effort.

Victoria Camp Designs - fine silver rose earrings

(A finished pair of fine silver rose earrings.)

First and foremost, I shape the clay. I make the fine silver roses by hand, petal by petal – the same process used in my polymer clay roses. (No molds are ever used for my roses – each one is unique!) I sand and smooth the clay, then let them dry.. sometimes overnight, sometimes in the kiln.

Next, I fire the roses in my kiln. The temperature I use ranges from 1200-1500F degrees, depending on the design. (Yes, that is HOT!)

Victoria Camp Designs - kiln

Once the roses are fired and have cooled down, I take them out of the kiln. They appear “white.” This is a crystallized layer that must be burnished to remove. You can use a tumbler or a burnishing tool.

Victoria Camp Designs - fine silver rose1

I use a hand burnishing tool for these, since I need to get in between all of the little creases and crevices of the petals. You can see on the top right petal, burnishing also makes it shiny! (It helps harden the metal, too.) The rose must be burnished on all sides, top to bottom, around every edge.

Victoria Camp Designs - fine silver rose2

Once burnished, the rose looks shiny. As you can see, the final product is in fact a solid metal piece. This one is fine silver, which contains more silver (.999) than sterling silver (.925.)

Victoria Camp Designs - fine silver rose3

“Shiny” silver is nice, but I want a little more depth in this rose design. My next step is to oxidize the silver. Both fine silver and sterling silver will naturally oxidize over time (this happens with exposure to air, water, etc.) but I use a chemical solution to speed up the process. Here you can see that the roses have oxidized, and look dark gray/black. I actually like how these look oxidized, but will keep going..

Victoria Camp Designs - fine silver rose4

After oxidizing, I polish the outer edges and petals of the roses (as well as the earring posts) to return certain areas to a pretty shine. I use a polishing pad and polish each rose by hand. You can see that I have left some of the oxidization on the inner portion of the petals, to create some texture and depth.

Victoria Camp Designs - fine silver rose5

A close-up of the rose.. doesn’t that look pretty? I definitely prefer the oxidized details over the previously completely shiny rose.

Victoria Camp Designs - fine silver rose6

Here’s a photo of the roses in various stages.. Starting from the left, the two light gray roses are fine silver clay that has been sculpted and dried. They are ready to go in the kiln, but haven’t been fired yet. The shiny silver rose to the right of them has been fired and also burnished. The two small roses to the right of that have been fired, burnished, oxidized, and polished. The earring I am holding has also gone through the complete process as well, from creating to firing to finishing.

Victoria Camp Designs - fine silver roses

 

The item listing for the petite fine silver rose earrings can be found here:

http://www.etsy.com/listing/91118038/petite-fine-silver-rose-earrings-on

Earrings Sale!

It’s time for the next “category” sale in my store! This weekend, all earrings in the Everyday Collection are on sale. Use code EARRINGS during checkout to receive 10% off your earrings purchase.  The sale runs through tomorrow evening (10/30/11.)

A few favorites..

Sterling Silver Peacock Pearl Drop Earrings

Sterling Silver Peacock Pearl Drop Earrings

 

Dark Teal Rose and Vintage Glass Earrings on Sterling

Dark Teal Rose and Vintage Glass Earrings on Sterling

 

Tiny Silver Bow and Orange Garnet Drop Earrings

Tiny Silver Bow and Orange Garnet Drop Earrings

Project Green Challenge

I’ve had the opportunity to include my map locket necklaces in the Project Green Challenge this month! This project was put together to help teens learn about living an eco-friendly/green lifestyle, including small changes they can make in their everyday life that add up to a big difference overall. One section of the challenge includes a look book, with 30 different looks (one for each day of the month) incorporating eco-friendly and/or green products – from clothing to shoes and accessories!

My necklaces are included in the outfits for days 2, 5, and 12.

Day 2

Day 5

Day 12

You can check out these styles and the rest of the look book here: http://projectgreenchallenge.com/look.php The look book was curated and styled by my talented friend Megan.

$20 Map Cuff Bracelet Sale

I’ve been thinking about the holidays. I’m guessing that after reading that sentence, you either:

A. Wondered why it took me so long to bring it up, since you started your shopping in July..

B. Aren’t ready to admit that it’s already October and will begin your shopping on December 22nd, all the while questioning my sanity..

or, C. Might be somewhere in between. You know it’s coming, but you’re not quite ready to prepare because you don’t find it as thrilling as the A group!

I think I fall into the A group. I’m a planner. I plan things, and I plan EARLY. This drives some of my close friends and family pretty crazy, inevitably, but it’s who I am and I surely would not be happy any other way!

Thinking about the holidays leads me to think about my business, a LOT. More than usual, which is already pretty much every waking second of the day. So, I thought to myself, rather than do some crazy entire shop sale free-for-all in December to cater to all of the procrastinators (and quite possibly make myself crazy in the process) I decided I’d put certain sections on sale, one at a time.. throughout October and November. I’ll save something else, something special, for December. There’s some ideas I have in the works to express my gratitude for my customers and support I have received thus far, but that will come later.

The first sale I’m holding will feature the map cuff bracelets. I really love these! They’re the first map jewelry item I designed, and have been one of my best selling items in the long run. I’ve been wearing my own map cuff for years! The sale runs now through tomorrow (Saturday) evening. You can purchase any in-stock map cuff for just $20! These would be great as gifts for best friends and favorite family members. Here’s some of my personal picks:

Victoria Camp Designs - Fenway Park Map Cuff Bracelet

Victoria Camp Designs - Fenway Park Map Cuff Bracelet

Growing up on the east coast, I will forever remain a Red Sox fan!

Victoria Camp Designs - New York Map Cuff Bracelet

Victoria Camp Designs - New York Map Cuff Bracelet

This one was made with a really great vintage New York map. So fun!

Victoria Camp Designs - Oakland Map Cuff Bracelet

Victoria Camp Designs - Oakland Map Cuff Bracelet

Clearly, this post wouldn’t be complete without representing my current city!

There’s over three dozen different map cuff bracelets currently in stock. Check them out for yourself here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/vsc83?section_id=5585826

Winter Bridal 2012 Photoshoot Sneak Preview

Wow – it’s been a busy September! I’ve been gearing up for the photo shoot for my Winter 2011/2012 Bridal line. I am SO very excited about this one!

The shoot will be held in the gorgeous lobby of the Hotel Shattuck Plaza in Berkeley, CA. I won’t give away all of the details for the shoot and collection (I love the element of surprise!) but I thought I’d give you a little sneak preview of what has been keeping me so busy the past 4-6 weeks.

I had a very specific aesthetic in mind in both designing this collection and considering the styling options for the photo shoot. There are a lot of beautiful vintage rhinestone pieces and even more clear vintage glass beads, and I wanted to follow the same path of the vintage meets modern vibe. Admittedly, I have “perfectionist” tendencies, which can be both a blessing and a curse. In other words, I wanted the dress to be perfect for the shoot, too!

What’s a girl to do? Well, this girl happens to have a degree in fashion design and a “DIY” mentality to boot… can you guess where I’m going with this?

I designed and made a dress for the photo shoot! My actual model is built slightly different than the dress form, but we did some test fittings on her and it’s going to fit beautifully. (Despite how it may look on the dress form..)

Here’s a peek..

Bias cut slip dress - Victoria Camp Designs

There’s a low drop in the back, too, but you’ll have to wait for the photo shoot for additional views!

The majority of my Winter Bridal earrings are one of a kind (and I won’t model OOAK earrings on real people) so I made a couple pairs of earrings just for the shoot..

Bridal earrings - Victoria Camp Designs

I also envisioned a certain style of up-do for the model, and made some hair combs for her as well! She will wear either one depending on which necklace is being photographed at the moment. The comb on the bottom is made with a vintage rhinestone brooch, and the one on the top is made with freshwater pearls.

Hair combs - Victoria Camp Designs

Okay, I think that’s enough of a preview for now! Expect the full Winter Bridal line to be ready in early October. I will keep you posted!

Dictionary Lockets for Fall

I’ve been having a lot of fun lately searching through my dictionary cut-outs for seasonal images. Summer themes included all things nautical (lighthouses, mermaids, jellyfish, etc.) and it’s only right that I started finding images for Fall!

Here’s what I have so far:

Dictionary Locket - Belfry

Belfry Dictionary Locket Necklace

http://www.etsy.com/listing/78677470/belfry-web-dictionary-locket-necklace

Dictionary Locket - Raven

Raven Dictionary Locket Necklace

http://www.etsy.com/listing/78627029/raven-dictionary-illustration-vintage

Dictionary Locket - Spider Web

Spider Web Dictionary Locket Necklace

http://www.etsy.com/listing/78674995/spider-web-dictionary-locket-necklace

Dictionary Locket - Vampire Bat

Vampire Bat Dictionary Locket Necklace

 http://www.etsy.com/listing/78622315/vampire-bat-dictionary-illustration

 

I still have another belfry and bat on hand (although the images are different) but the subject matter for these is typically one of a kind.

One of the best parts about these (in my opinion) is the size of the locket! They’re vintage “new old” stock, which means they were manufactured over 20 years ago and not previously used for anything else before I obtained them. Sometimes manufacturers over-produce, or go out of business. Their leftover materials/merchandise ends up sitting around in boxes in a warehouse somewhere until they are discovered and brought to life! The signs of wear/aging are an affect from the environment they were previously stored in. I do polish the lockets a little bit to remove some of the grime, but like to leave some of the tarnish.

The downside? There’s a limited supply of vintage lockets in this size, and once they’re gone.. well, they’re gone!

On Beginnings and Vintage Glass

I’d like to take a moment to introduce myself before I jump right into things.. I’m Victoria, nice to meet you! I’m a full time jewelry designer who also spends a lot of time cooking, baking, taking pictures, designing, and talking about my dog. You’ll likely see all of the above covered here in due time!

This past spring I started designing a line of jewelry specifically for brides, and since then I’ve become passionate about bridal jewelry and pretty much all things wedding related. (Believe me, I resisted this for a while.. I knew once I got started in this direction, it would take over my brain! And it has indeed. The decor! The dresses! The flowers and jewelry and every last small detail accounted for, what’s not to love?)

Last week I finished my bridal collection for Fall 2011. I decided to go against the grain and do something “colorful” for a change. I know most of the wedding decorations are based around a color scheme, but color in bridal jewelry is often overlooked.  So, I took a chance and have designed a collection around the beautiful colors of fall – gold, bronze, chocolate brown, deep orange, olive green and dark teal.

Here’s a peek at one of the necklaces:

Gold Flower and Green Pearls on Cream Ribbon

The collection features freshwater pearls, vintage glass, vintage brooches, and smooth Italian satin ribbons.

The next few weeks I’ll be working on my Winter 2011/2012 collection. Yes.. *gasp*! I said it – Winter! Evil words in the middle of July, aren’t they? Designing these collections involves planning ahead to account for design concepts,  sourcing materials, the actual creation of the pieces, photo shoots, and then some. I’ll need everything ready by September to accommodate for the brides who plan ahead.

One of the main components of the Winter Bridal collection will include vintage glass, which is one of my favorite things on this planet. It’s inexplicably beautiful, each strand of beads cut differently from the next, and the way they reflect light is more brilliant than traditional cut glass beads. Aside from that, I find the idea that they may have had a previous life to be very intriguing. (Just think about what kind of events and occasions they may have been worn to! The possibilities are endless.)

Take a look at this beautiful vintage glass bead.. notice the interesting pattern it was cut into, the way the facets are placed. It’s so pretty, I think it could hold up on its own without anything else to accompany it. Don’t you think so too?

vintage glass bead