Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Wishing all a safe and loving holiday. I'm here at home thinking how grateful I am for our Savior, my husband, children, home, and health.

May your day be filled with blessings and peace.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Get Ready, Get Set, GO!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Yes, Virginia, the Holidays are Upon Us

(The Graphics Fairy LLC)

Just like that the calendar flipped a page and the holidays officially began.  Of course, there are still a few weeks of quiet before the bustle of menu preparations, party invitations, travel plans, Thanksgiving shopping, and meal preparation.

All the same, this is the quiet before the storm.  I am taking advantage of this calm to prepare.  Lately my focus has been on gift wrap and package embellishments.  I love a beautifully wrapped gift and it is wonderful to give a lovely gift wrapped with creativity.

Every year I have a color theme for the gift wrapping.  One year it was blue and silver; another burgandy; green yet another and so on.  Having a color theme, for me, keeps everything on track.  I get so distracted with all the cute possibilities my gifts can quickly look like a mish mash of victorian, french, childish, and retro. 

Some gift wrapping ideas are very simple, inexpensive, and done easily with items at home.  To me these are the best ideas -- clever re-use of common items to create something lovely.

Many of my favorite ideas involve kids helping.  One year we made hand stamped gift tags using rubber stamps, ink, and glittler glue.  It was fun to customize the gift tags to match the color theme that year (I think we stamped blue snowflakes and reindeers).
(photo courtesy of seesawdesigns.blogspot.com)

I also love the look of white craft paper and waxed twine.  It is easy to embellish the white craft paper with stampings, burlap, saved ribbon from past gifts, or thrifty finds from the store.  My children have decorated craft paper with cut outs from old Christmas cards.

I am so excited because this year I am making my own gift tags using free (always make sure it is free) clip art.  I found lovely French and Victorian scripts courtesy of The Graphics Fairy LLC (http://www.thegraphicsfairy.blogspot.com).  I have downloaded them (similar to the graphic at the top of the page) and I will print several on a page, cut them out, punch a hole, and tie with a ribbon.  I think they are perfectly unique.  Fabulous!!

Let your imagination take hold.  Gather inspiration from the sites below and create a uniquely lovely gift for your loved one this year.

(The Graphics Fairy LLC)

My favorite places for great ideas and inspiration; sources for great information:

The Graphics Fairy LLC   http://graphicsfairy.blogspot.com/

Seesaw Designs   http://seesawdesigns.blogspot.com/2010/11/holiday-gift-wrap-diy.html

The Gifted Blog    http://www.thegiftedblog.com/

Martha Stewart, as always, has clever ideas to make a beautiful gift.  http://www.marthastewart.com/274678/gift-wrapping-ideas/@center/307035/santas-workshop

Pinterest (of course!)    http://pinterest.com/shesabetty/holiday-gifts-wrapping-ideas/

Creature Comforts Blog    http://www.creaturecomfortsblog.com/home/2011/12/21/holiday-roundup-20-great-gift-wrapping-ideas.html

(The Graphics Fairy LLC)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Funky Monkey: French Robin Designs: Antique Silver Branch Neckl...

The Funky Monkey: French Robin Designs: Antique Silver Branch Neckl...: French Robin Designs believes that jewelry should speak to you in a personal way.  It should also make a statement, change an outfit or give your look that extra special something that no one else has. Bottom line, your jewelry should be an expression of who you are. And French Robin Designs wants you to express yourself with their handmade pieces inspired by fashion, nature and color.

FREE GIVEAWAY CONTEST!  Yes, I said FREE!  The Funky Monkey blog is currently featuring French Robin Designs Etsy shop.  I was so excited I decided why not give away a beautiful sterling silver branch necklace!

Check out the blog to enter the contest.  You may be the lucky winner of a stunning necklace.  You deserve a little treat!


Blue Jade Gold Lotus Flower Dangle Earrings, Stocking stuffer, Christmas, Gift, Hostess, Wedding
Black Agate Pearl Fan Statement Necklace, Brown, Gray, Silver

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Goal: 200 Pieces

Oh my goodness!  The last few weeks of summer have been a whirlwind of activity.  My kids all returned to school mid-August which required school shopping, orientations, readiness faires, school supplies, shoes, lunch food, and on and on and on! 

(Two bracelets my 8 year old daughter made -- she wants into the business!)

Now that the kids are settled I can get back to creating jewelry.  A local fellow Etsy artisan contacted me about partnering for bay area craft fairs.  Well, I never had any intention of really participating in a craft fair.  My partner is sweet, intelligent, and talented.  The more we talked over coffee the more excited I became at the prospect of a craft show. 

After our meeting I started researching craft shows.  I came away with so many ideas and one lofty goal -- to stock my part of the booth with 200 pieces of jewelry.  Keep in mind I only have about 60 pieces now. 

The last several weeks have been planning how many necklaces, pairs of earrings, and bracelets to make.  I've been consumed with creating pieces at various price points and artistic perspectives.  A considerable amount of time has been spent sourcing products, stones, and components.

In addition to creating products I must design a craft booth display that is unique and reflects my shop's style.  Countless searches of the internet have been conducted for craft show examples perfect display pieces. 

Of course, I always think about what I can make or use something I already own as display material.  The result is more thinking, planning, and designing.  I tell myself it is good mental exercise!

Despite the amount of work I know the craft shows will pay off in experience and education; if not sales!  I am pushing myself to be more creative with my designs, go out of my comfort zone, and stay true to myself.

Isn't that what design is about?  And having fun!!

Check out my fabulous craft show partner.  She is an incredibly talented artist and photographer.  I am extremely exicted to partner with her.  http://www.etsy.com/shop/wildinspirationart

Wild Inspiration Art

Cheers -- T

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Vacation, Get Away, Vacation

Fresh back from vacation and I'm ready to get back to work.  I did find time while gone to work on some custom bridal pieces.  I must say being away allowed time to think, create, and process.  It was so good to hit the "reset" button.  How can anything negative be said about sleeping in, eating out, watching movies, and playing board games?  We were lucky to stay at the beach so, of course, sand castles, kite flying, and hot tub time was in order. 

I must say the ocean is my favorite place to be.  I enjoy the sounds of the surf, waves crashing, smells, and fog.  I find something soothing about the functions of the water.  The only drawback to the Northern California surf is it is trecherous and cold.  No body surfing for this lady!  But that is the only negative to what I find to be a perfect place on earth.

Here is evidence of the greatness of the Pacific Ocean.

So after playing in the sand, playing a couple rounds of "Fact or Crap" with the kids (yes, it is a real game - lol), I finished a custom wedding project. 

All around it was a great week of vacation, work, and relaxation.  We can't wait to go again.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Joy and Happiness on a Chain

Lately I've been obsessed with tropical, exotic locations.  I can't seem to get them out of my head.  Dreams and thoughts always drift to white, sandy beaches; crystal clear blue water; warm breezes; peace and quite.  Perhaps it is because I have 4 children, 2 cats, a dog, husband, and two businesses.

I may not be able to physically escape to my fantasy world but I did try to recreate it.  In an earlier post I commented about a dress I purchased and how much it reminded me of Rio.  Using that fabric, pictures of Rio, and my imagination I created a stunning necklace.  Yes, I did say my creation is stunning because I absolutely love it.  I used the colors of Rio - bright purple, aqua, silver-lined blues, golds, and reds.  The strands of beads are connected to a chunky, sophisticated gold link chain which gives the multiple colors in the necklace a neutral to contrast against.  To finish the piece off, and one of my favorite elements, a large focal teardrop stone in turquoise color magnesite.

Yum.  This necklace shimmers, shines, and sparkles.  It also makes me happy every time I look at it.  It is impossible to not feel happiness when wearing joy around your neck!


Monday, July 9, 2012

Now That You Own It How Do You Care For It?

Excitement bubbles over as you open the anticipated package.  Inside is the beautiful gold necklace and earrings you purchased.  They are lovelier than the photos suggested.  You couldn't be happier with you choice.

Now that the jewelry arrives and you love it how do you care for it?  You want the pieces to last so they can be enjoyed.  Here are some tips to use for the cleaning and care of your jewelry pieces.  A word of caution -- some stones will scratch easily or react to chemicals.  Use care when cleaning any jewelry with faux pearls, natural gemstones, crystals, or precious stones.

Typical cleaning items:  100% cotton cloth, non-bleach powder laundry detergent, non-bleach or anti-bacterial dishwashing liquid, baking soda, salt, aluminum foil, soft tooth brush, and warm water.

Sterling Silver: 

Sterling silver will natural tarnish over time.  It requires attention to maintain its shine and luster.  The tarnish is caused by contact with pollutants in the air, skin oils, heat, or moisture.  To clean use a soft, smooth 100% cotton cloth or flannel.  Gently rub off any makeup or dirt from the jewelry piece.  Silver is a soft metal to treat it gently.  A cleaning cloth for sterling silver can also be used.  Chemicals or rough cloth can scratch and damage the silver. 

Silver Plate: 

Silver plated jewelry is very delicate and requires care.  Frequent cleanings will help prevent tarnish and rust.  To clean use baking soda, salt, hot and cold water, aluminum foil, soft toothbrush, and a soft 100% cotton cloth.  Mix equal parts baking soda and water to create a thick paste.  Use this paste on the jewelry piece.  Allow it to sit for about an hour.  Using a soft toothbrush gently scrub the jewelry piece.  Rinse the piece thoroughly in warm water and dry with a soft cotton cloth. 

Now for the fun part.  Remember chemistry in high school?  Well we're going to do a little bit of that here.  Place a bit of aluminum foil in a shallow bowl (do not use a metal bowl).  Place 2 tablespoons of baking soda and 1/2 a teaspoon salt on the foil.  Place your silver-plated jewelry on top of the foil.  Ready?  Pour hot water into the bowl to cover the jewelry.  Now cover the bowl and wait 5 minutes.  Remove the jewelry.  All done!

The chemical reaction causes the tarnish to disappear.  Voile! 

Gold Plate aka Gold Vermeil: 

To clean use a soft 100% cotton cloth, water, mild dish soap (not antibacterial), soft toothbrush for filigree elements, and a gold polish cloth.  Gently remove any visible dirt with the wet cotton cloth.  Dissolve soap in a bowl of water -- not hot water.  Soak the jewelry in the soapy water for about 15 minutes.  Use the toothbrush to gently brush away dirt in crevices.  Rinse under warm water.  Dry the piece with a soft, cotton cloth to prevent water stains or mineral deposits.  Finally gently rub the jewelry with a gold polish cloth.

An option to restoring the jewelry is taking it to a trusted jewelry and have the piece re-plated with gold.

Gold Filled: 

To clean use a soft 100% cotton cloth, non-bleach powered laundry detergent, non-bleach or anti-bacterial dishwashing detergent, and ammonia.  Wipe visible dirt from the jewelry piece.  Dissolve a drop of ammonia in a bowl of water.  Dip the cloth in the solution and use to carefully clean crevices on the piece.  Rinse in water and pat dry.  Add a teaspoon of non-bleach powdered laundry detergent in a bowl of warm (not hot water).  Soak the jewelry for a few minutes.  Rinse in warm water and pat dry to avoid water marks or mineral deposits.

Resources:  Ehow.com, 2012.
Jewelry photos: French Robin Designs, 2012.
Cleaning photo:  naturalwaystowhitenteeth

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A thing of beauty is a joy forever; its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness. 
John Keats (http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/topics/topic_beauty.html)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Celebrating the 4th of July

The fourth of July is one of the best parties I've ever been too.  The day is filled with family, friends, food, and fireworks.  What could be better?  I love the 4th of July from the corn on the cob to the red white and blue desserts.

In our small town we celebrate the holiday with kids parades, events at the park, and a fantastic fireworks display.  The first time I went to the fireworks show my husband's family brought blankets, coffee, and pie.  My mind was blown away.  It was incredible to me that we sat on our blankets and ate pie waiting for the fireworks show.  I was sold on small-town America.  Not that I didn't come from a small town but the unity of this new town was incredible.

So this year I will be taking the kids swimming, bar-be-queing, and a fireworks show.  We will have brownies and blankets to watch the show.  It will be a night of joy and pride to be part of America.

Happy celebrating!

photo:  http://nickpalmby.typepad.com/buzzly_bee_our_blog/2010/07/happy-4th-of-july.html

Friday, June 29, 2012

Pretty, pretty, pretty

New additions to my ArtFire and Etsy shops. I love them all! I have a love of jewelry; all types of jewelry. These earrings and necklaces typify the beauty of simplicity. The shimmering gold, light glinting off the crystals, a gentle swing of a crystal... they all exemplify beauty. I know, I like to make complicated, full statement pieces too. But lately I've been feeling like less is more. That will change because I'm working on my Rio inspired necklace. Until then, however, I will share with you the beauty of simple. The chic and sophistication of singularity.
Chocolate Crystal and Vermeil Gold Wrapped Necklace http://www.artfire.com/ext/shop/studio/frenchrobindesigns
Pink Quartz and Vermeil Gold Necklace http://www.artfire.com/ext/shop/studio/frenchrobindesigns
Silver Swirl and Blue Earrings http://www.etsy.com/shop/FrenchRobinDesigns?ref=si_shop
Gold Filigree and Pink Bead Earrings http://www.etsy.com/shop/FrenchRobinDesigns?ref=si_shop

Monday, June 25, 2012

Busy Busy Bee


And yet another addition to my ArtFire shop.  I have so many other things to put up!  But... all good things come to those who wait. 

I think I'll add an item a day for the next week.  Then it will be back to creating more beautiful jewelry.  I have something absolutely fabulous in the works.  I can't wait to share it with everyone.

Till then...  cheers!


New Addition

A beautiful, glowing, amber-color stone wrapped in gold wire and hung from a delicaate gold chain.  I love this piece so much.  It is fabulous, beautiful, stunning.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

New collection on ArtFire. "America the Beautiful"

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Officially a Dance Mom

Totally off the jewelry, art, creativity path but I must share the latest triumph for my kids.  We made it through ballet recital season!  Whoot!! 

This year marks the third ballet recital / production my youngest has done.  Always a lot of work, always stressful for mom and kid, always worth it.  This year I decided to do more than prepare my child and sit in the audience to watch.  I decided this was the year to volunteer back stage. 

Now, I don't have the courage or coordination to volunteer to be an extra dancer.  There is no way I can do what my daughter or all of the little 4 year olds do.  But I can chaperone, supervise, and order kids around. 

So, I was assigned the room with the most kids.... 40!  Ages 4 to 11.  Oh, wow.  I brought crayons, coloring pages, activity sheets, stickers.  I even made "My Ballet Books" for the girls to do.  It lasted for about an hour.  Then chaos.  Running, laughing, slidding, falling, crying, pouting. You name it, they did it. 

Fortunately, I had two other moms to help.  We took turns escorting dancers to and from the stage, potty breaks, and calming the crowd.

I have to say, though, it was very exciting to stand off-stage waiting for my group to perform.  I can see why some parents become stage-addicted.  It was exhilirating to participate in some way with the production.

My feet hurt and I was sweaty at the end but I really loved being their for my daughter and participating.  We will do ballet again.  We will be in the production next year.  And I will very likely help out backstage again.

I love the beauty and art of the dancers.  Even if they are 4, dressed like kittens, and purring on stage.  It's too fun to miss out.

I am officially a dance mom.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Firsts are Always the Best!

Is there anything better than waking up to first sales in two of your shops?  If you are me the answer is no, there is nothing better.

Cannot contain the excitement I'm feeling right now.  Sold items in my Etsy and Artfire shops last night. 

Firsts are always the best!  Indeed they are.  Happy Sunday to everyone!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

I'm So Excited!!

My fun, kid-friendly, summer-time activity collection hit the front page on ArtFire.com.  Cannot even say how exciting this is!  I had so much fun gathering kid-fun items created by very talented artists.  Without their creativity the collection would not exist.

Cheers for creation, sharing online finds, and ArtFire.com!

Check it out -- Kids Play by French Robin Designs on ArtFire.com


Tuesday, June 12, 2012


This story begins with me wanting a new summer dress and ends with inspiration for new jewelry pieces.  I wanted something pretty, cool, and chic.  I wanted to feel like a woman.  Not just a mom wearing tan bermuda shorts all summer.  I wanted to feel pretty.  So, off I went to my local department store in search of the perfect maxi dress.  Yes, I wanted to be trendy too.  I was unprepared for how many maxi dresses were out there!  Every color, pattern, shape, adornment thought off was constructed into a maxi dress for my shopping delight.

Fast forward (I'm confident you don't want to hear about the dressing room mishaps) I found a dress that called to me.  It spoke, yelled, even demanded I purchase it.  And it was inexpensive.  Of course, I made it mine.

Now, how does this dress lead to new jewelry to make.  I'll tell you.  All I could think of when I looked at and wore the dress was Rio, Brazil.  I thought of Carnival, music, joy, and life.

Do you see it?  Do you see Rio?  I did.  I was so excited.  Ideas started bursting in my brain.  I thought about color combinations, beads, crystals, feathers, and patterns.  I haven't stop thinking about how to create a piece that expresses the excitement and exuberance of Rio. 

It came to me in a moment of driving (yes, I was paying attention to the road).  Next thing I know I'm at the bead store buying the most beautiful glass beads and stones.  My excitement poured out of me like an electric current.

Now, I need to get to work on this fabulous piece.  It is going to be a statement necklace.  Are you curious, excited, intrigued?  Good.  So am I!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

My Adventures with the Light Box

My wonderful colleagues have given good, honest feedback about my shop photos.  Honestly, I already knew they needed improvement.  Try as I might I could not get the lighting, editing, color, tint, or anything other than focus right.  So incredibly frustrating to have one photo turn out great and the next blue or hazy.

The advice I received was very helpful.  I thought to myself, "These shop owners have experience and know what they are talking about.  I'll give their advice a try."  Many suggested using a more professional photo editing program.  Others suggested different camera settings.  The final group suggested a light box for better lighting. 

I began to play with editing the photos.  I watched tutorials on Youtube and fiddled around with the existing blue-gray photos I had.  There was some success but I think the starting photo was too off to save.  I moved on to the light box.  I quickly discovered they can be quite expensive!  The more inexpensive versions did not rate well so I quickly disqualified them.  That lead me to wonder if I could make a light box.  Searching the internet I found that I can (of course!). 

I printed the instructions for the most promising light box, went to the supply store, and gathered what I needed.  After a couple of hours (feeding the family inbetween) I had a homemade light box. 

Of course, excitment took over.  I chose one of the worst photos, a picture of a lovely boho charm bracelet (found at http://www.etsy.com/shop/frenchrobindesigns.com and http://www.artfire.com/ext/shop/studio/frenchrobindesigns), and proceeded to set up the camera stand, light box, and lamp.  Unfortunately, I didn't check my camera battery life before starting.  The camera was dead.  Really??? 

After charging the battery a bit I finally took some test photos of the bracelet.  Here they are for your comparison.  The first is the original photo with no lightbox.  The second is the light box with Lightroom editing, and the third is using the light box with Picmonkey photo editing. 

Clearly I need to play with the set up more.  However, the new photos are a HUGE improvement over the first one.

I'll have to keep you posted on how my photography skills improve -- hopefully!