Westervin Shop

Shop Update: Beaded Necklaces

Palmdale Necklace /// Westervin

Palmdale Necklace 

I like to visit bead shops when we travel. On our latest vacation, we spent a few nights at a great AirBnB in Nashville, and I made Brian go with me to a snazzy little bead shop in town. With his help, I was able to exercise restraint and only brought home a small bag of pretty beads. But even those few additions to be bead collection made me realize I had more than I needed. So on a bit of a whim, I woke up yesterday and, with coffee in hand, set about whipping up some one-of-a-kind necklaces while the morning sun lit my work table. 

Coeur D'Alene Necklace /// Westervin

Coeur D’Alene Necklace

It felt wonderful to finally make something again after a long creative-draught. Before I knew it, the afternoon rolled by and I’d created 8 necklaces, using some copper wire and leather cord I had. Piecing together the beads for each piece — from hand-painted glass beads to glazed ceramic ones to carved pieces of coral and marble — felt like a puzzle. I’m pretty happy with how they turned out; I ended up with 8 pieces, each one a special statement necklace.

Petaluma Necklace /// Westervin

Petaluma Necklace 

But! I couldn’t just add 8 new necklaces to my jewelry box. I just Kondoed it, remember? So, thinking of my poor little Etsy shop, alone and all but ignored these past few months, I spent the rest of the afternoon photographing the necklaces and listing them in the Westervin Shop. I shocked myself at how quickly it all came together. It’s as if each little bead was meant to find its way to me, be paired with other little bead friends and transformed into a special adornment, and eventually wind up in my shop, awaiting a new home. Will yours be the forever home of one of these necklaces? See them all here.

Hindsdale Necklace /// Westervin

Hindsdale Necklace 

Honey Hills Necklace /// Westervin

Honey Hills Necklace 

Mendota Necklace /// Westervin

Mendota Necklace 

Shopping Sherpa

Top 10 Christmas Tree Ornaments

Westervin's Top 10 Christmas Ornaments - fun, handmade, and non-traditional, of course

What’s the best thing to give anyone and everyone on your list this year? (Assuming, of course, that your Christmas list doesn’t include any of those holiday-hating heathen folk who don’t bother putting up a tree.) Answer: ornaments!  They’re small and cute and come in every animal-shape and eye-blinding-color. So, to help you out, Brian and I have rounded up the indisputable top 10 Christmas tree ornaments for holiday gift giving and decorating this year. These are the best of the best, including mostly handmade and truly unique branch baubles with just the right amount of irreverence.

10. Stuffed Shark

Handmade Stuffed Shark Christmas Tree Ornament

Image above: Stuffed Shark Ornament handmade by Broderpress $16.00/ea. 

Ah, the fierce and majestic shark. This plush ornament is not for the faint of heart or the bland of tree.

9. Popsicles

Popsicle Ornaments

Image above: Clay Popsicle Ornaments handmade by Sugar + Frost $8.05/ea.

What’s more wonderful than a popsicle, I ask you? Well, two popsicles. Also, three popsicles, And four. Should I keep going…?

8. Palmistry

Palmistry Wooden Hand Ornament

Image above: Good Fortune Palmistry Hand Wood Ornament made in the USA $10.00/ea. 

Whether you’re gifted with a connection to the spiritual world or are just really into this “hand” trend I’m seeing everywhere, you’ll love this laser-engraved birch wood ornament.

7. Monster Friend

Handmade Clay Monster Friend Ornament

Image above: Ceramic Monster Ornament handmade by DragonStarArt $40.00 (only one available!)

Just look at that sweet squiggly smile! This odd fella would add some real interest to any quirky tree.

6. Mini Weavings

Woven Loom Ornaments

Image above: Woven Loom Ornaments handmade by All Roads Design $14.00/ea.

Anthropologie has ALL THE PRETTY THINGS! Case-in-point, these little loom weavings. They’re so tiny! Gimme.

5. Deviled Eggs

Deviled Eggs Ornament

Image above: Deviled Eggs Glass Ornament handmade in Poland $13.96/ea.

Did you know that the deviled egg dates as far back as ancient Rome? That means this platter of deviled eggs is probably the classiest ornament you could have.

Don’t question it.

4. Christmas Pickles

Westervin_Blog_Top_Ten_Holiday_Ornaments15

Image above: Jar of Pickles Ornament Set hand-blown in Poland $8.00 for 9

If you don’t partake in the Christmas pickle tradition every year, stop reading this blog post and don’t come back until you’ve bought a pickle ornament and committed yourself to this beautiful custom. I’m making it a requirement of all Westervin readers. Seriously, get out of here.

3. Banana Bunch

Bunch of Bananas Ornament

Image above: Banana Bunch Wood Ornament handmade by Alice Oehr & Rittle $13.00

Brian doesn’t actually enjoy eating bananas, and I just can’t understand that. They’re sweet, have a bright, happy color, and are fun to mush around in your mouth as if you’re a baby monkey learning to eat. And they have an interesting history. Bananas are wonderful, I say, and perfect for any Christmas tree!

2. Fancy Flamingo

Flamingo in a Top Hat Ornament

Image above: Fancy Flamingo Paper Mache Ornament $19.95

This guy is too fabulous for any old tree, and he knows it. Just look at that cheeky side-eye.

1. Cheerful Cactus

Handmade Plaid Wool & Velvet Cactus Ornament

Image above: Plaid & Velvet Cactus Ornament handmade by Dotter Studio $18.00

And finally, topping the list is this one-of-a-kind cactus ornament made with salvaged vintage velvet and plaid wool. Because nothing says, “white Christmas is so last year,” like a desert dwelling succulent.

Featured, Out & About

Dollymoon: Louisville

21 C Hotel in Lousville, Kentucky

We’ve been dragging out our Dollymoon recaps for awhile, but now it’s time for our final look back. After taking in the fine sights, smells, and tastes of Woodford Reserve distillery, we headed further west to Louisville to spend two days dining, relaxing, and exploring the so-called “Austin of Kentucky.”

infinity mirror in 21 C

We decided to stay at the 21c Museum Hotel, which is part art gallery, part hotel located right downtown. It sounds a little strange, but it was definitely cool to be living in a place surrounded by art installations for a few days (like the infinity bulbs in the elevator, pictured above).

21 C Hotel room

Our room was minimalistic and modern with smart and whimsical touches throughout like the rubber ducky in the shower.

exposed brick in a 21 C Hotel room

bird art in Proof on Main in Louisville, Kentucky

We ate at Proof on Main the first night, which is a fairly fancy restaurant located within 21c. It tends to get pretty good reviews, but we were a bit disappointed. The food just didn’t quite meet our expectations.

Brian West and Sarah Ervin in Proof on Main in Louisville, Kentucky

bison burger from Proof on Main

Louisville Slugger manufacturing building

Downtown Louisville is also home to the Louisville Slugger factory, which you can peer into from the street. If you are having trouble locating the factory, just look for the really large replica of Babe Ruth’s bat outside!

Louisville Slugger and golden David statues in Kentucky

There was full moon on our walk…

Brian West falls in love with a red penguin from Louisville's 21 C hotel

And Brian met a friendly penguin.

Hillbilly Tea in Louisville, Kentucky

Our final full Kentucky day started out at Hillbilly Tea, which had an incredibly charming aesthetic and some great food and…well, tea. The iced mint green tea was just perfect for the weather.

Louisville's Hillbilly Tea

vegan pancake breakfast from Hillbilly Tea in Louisville, Kentucky

Next up was a stop at Glassworks for a walk-in glassmaking workshop, which turned out to be a major highlight for Sarah. After just a few minutes of instruction, we were on our way to making a little Arkansas shaped magnet and a ring for Sarah. Talk about honeymoon keepsakes!

making glass magnets at Louisville's Glassworks

Glassworks studio in Louisville, Kentucky

The whole process was surprisingly simple and fun.

blue, green, and red glass fragments at Louisville's Glasswords

glass owls

Within the Glassworks building was also the Flame Run gallery filled with colorful glass creations, including the owl bobbleheads above. That’s right–their little owl heads bobbled!

handmade glass ornaments and vases

Flame Run glass studio

We even got to see some glassblowers in action!

glass artwork at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft in Louisville

Next we walked down to the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft to see their current exhibit, 50 Years of Studio Glass. Their were some beautiful glass pieces, and some fun glass pieces, and some downright weird glass pieces.

tacos from Louisville's Taco Punk

All that craft and culture made us hungry, so we headed to Taco Punk in Butchertown for some radically scrumptious tacos and guac.

Taco Punk in Louisville, Kentucky

Scout in Louisville, Kentucky

Then we perused the eclectic shops in the area, including Scout, a super fun home decor & jewelry boutique. Sarah snagged a handmade necklace and a peanut eraser.

interesting housewares at Louisville's Scout

baby limb figurines at Scout in Louisville, Kentucky

Gifthorse in Louisville, Kentucky

We also found some deals and a tired dog at gifthorse.

fashion and accessories at Louisville's Gifthorse

Dot Fox in Louisville, Kentucky

Before calling it a day, we headed up Bardstown Road and stopped in Dot Fox where we got some fun cards and Sarah snagged some snazzy clothes.

fashion and accessories at Louisville's Dot Fox

cool women's fashions at Louisville's Dot Fox

The final stop on our shopping excursion was Why Louisville for some souvenir T-shirts and a few postcards.

Brian West, the strongman, and Sarah Ervin, the bearded lady

shopping in Louisville, Kentucky

We had to head back to the hotel and take a break (and take inventory), before heading out to dinner at the Blind Pig. If you happened to follow our last trip to Louisville, you might remember this was one of our favorites restaurants. It didn’t let us down this time, either.

The Blind Pig in Louisville, Kentucky

Before saying goodbye to the South and heading back North to Chicago, we took a walk to the Ohio river.

The Ohio River

And said hello to the Belle of Louisville. Maybe we’ll take a boat ride next time. We can’t wait to go back…

The Belle of Louisville riverboat

Maker's Remarks

Arlie Trowbridge of Urban Revisions

Oh man. I’m excited. Why? Because I’m about to share my mini interview with Arlie Trowbridge, the stupidly talented woman behind Urban Revisions. I’ve loved her work for ages now! Arlie was sweet enough to answer a few questions — some silly, some serious — for the latest installment of my Maker’s Remarks series. And the timing couldn’t be better, because she’s just released her Spring/Summer 2012 collection. Oh how these sherbet colored pieces make me wanna run outside and chase an ice cream truck!

handmade glass and leather purses by Urban Revisions

How did Urban Revisions start? Did you have a “quit your day job to start an Etsy shop” sort of moment?

Urban Revisions started in early 2009 by accident. I had just started getting into reading fashion blogs and the DIY shredded t-shirt craze was in full effect. I gave it a try and was immediately addicted to the process of “revising” the most basic article of clothing – a tee. My friend started modeling them in “urban” settings around Richmond, and the Etsy shop was born. Shortly after my first couple of sales, I was awarded a fellowship by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Couldn’t have been better timing. This allowed me to “quit my day job” and really pursue selling my work.

Arlie Trowbridge of Urban Revisions

Your shredded T-shirts are so unique, and it seems like your beautiful glass jewelry requires a lot of skill to create. What’s the inspiration for your pieces and the process for making them?

There’s no doubt that I love things with an organic feel to them. Almost anything that I’ve ever created and really loved came about by accident… there’s something really special about working with glass and distressed fiber. You can melt and shred forever until something amazing comes about. In the end, everything always has this delicate look but in actuality, cotton and glass have really strong qualities.

shredded cotton scarf in orange sherbet

Would you say you’re more of an urbanite or a nature-lover? Or a perfect mixture of both?

Both! I’ve lived in or very close to a city the majority of my life. I need to be near the sound of people’s hustle and bustle but I also need our long camping trips in the middle of no where and our afternoons hanging down by the James River.

shredded cotton t-shirt from Urban Revisions

What’s a typical day in the life of Arlie Trowbridge? Take us through a brief snapshot of your day, from morning to night?

Wake up, stumble to the coffee pot, fill the largest mug available, stumble to the studio and slowly open my eyes over emails and blogs.
Thats the first step, and then it’s either …

a. start shredding
b. start torch working
c. start dyeing
< or >
d. start day dreaming

I’m really all over the place, and it feels awesome.

handmade glass cluster rings from Urban Revisions

Would you rather have the ability to breathe underwater or the ability to fly? Explain.

Breathe underwater!!! In fact, this is something I’ve dreamt about many times. I spent many days at our local pool pretending to be Ariel from The Little Mermaid when I was little. Some people have commented on my cluster rings and leaf earrings, saying they remind them of coral. I love that. Marine life is fascinating.

handmade shredded t-shirt from Urban Revisions

What’s your favorite part of creating & selling your handicrafts?

The people I have had the pleasure to “meet”! The internet is such a powerful tool. Knowing that there are ladies all over the world wearing Urban Revisions is incredible to me.

handmade glass cluster ring from Urban Revisions

BTDubs, if you’ve read through this interview, you’ve got a special treat coming. You can enter Arlie’s giveaway on Facebook to win the spectacular glass cluster ring pictured above. Get on over there and enter!