Strega Jewellry's Blog

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Build a Line Challenge: School’s Out!



Three months ago, I saw this badge while reading Brenda Lansdowne’s blog and determined to enter this challenge.  Little did I know just how much I would learn and how many cool ladies I would meet!  Over 50 of us entered this class, most with only a small idea of what we would accomplish.   There was much banging of heads, gnashing of teeth but lots of laughs and plenty of learning.

The class was free this time as it was the first time that Brenda Sue Lansdowne, of B’Sue Boutiques has offered such a challenge.  The only condition was that we use visible pieces from her shop, not an unreasonable condition at all.

The challenge was to complete 5 pieces of a cohesive line by the end of the 3 month period.   Sounded very simple, I mean, who could not do 5 pieces in 3 months?

Every time Brenda gave us  class notes, there were tons of questions and plenty of lively discussion.  We learned to research trends and styles even though we thought we were not fashion conscious ourselves, it was important to know what is trending.  We talked about color and its importance, about branding, about developing a cohesive “look” so that anyone who sees our work can tell that we made it.  We talked about pricing pyramids and everything under the sun.  To quote directly from Brenda herself  some of what we covered was

trends, color, using color to compliment customers, the selling pyramid, the diff between a hobby maker and a jewelry designer, the things that are necessary to become a jewelry designer, when lines become collections, pricing, quality components, how to manage manufacturing inventory so you don’t run out, how to pay attention to customer requests to learn how to design future lines….and how to concentrate on keeping looks together so that your style and brand remain cohesive

This was a very real challenge for me.  I had never made jewelry for men before.  I had never done assemblage before like most of the others.  I had never worked with lumiere paints (and they are so much fun I am now addicted).  I had only made OOAK pieces and had a great fear of being bored by reproducing the same pieces over and over.

While I had ordered from B’Sue before, almost none of what I ordered would fit into my line (or so I thought) and I had the challege of deciding what would work.  I ordered things I didn’t need and didn’t order things I could have used.  Most of all, I learned to FOCUS!  I think that was my hardest thing.  I am so easily distracted!  Now that I have focused, I can see many “series” in my lines and uses for so many more B’Sue items.

I learned about the difference between a collection, a line and a series.   What I have is Strega Jewellry’s Men’s Collection. It is called PHOPP and I felt it needed  its own shop and blog and “brand”

Here is my signage for shop, blog, FB page,  website (coming soon) and will be used on my business cards and tags.  Consistancy is important for a cohesive look that is uniquely mine. (I learned that in class)  I also needed a “catch phrase” that would tell something about my line.  I waivered between “gentlemen of esteam” and “esteamed gentlemen”, wanting to point out that this is not fashion/trendy jewelry but for cosplay.  I’m still not decided which is best and would like some thoughts on this.   I have chosen “gentlemanly” colors for “branding” of burgundy and jade green with creamy tans.  Their are reasons for those colors bit I won’t discuss them here.

For lack of any better names at present, I am calling my lines the Brass Line, the Copper Line and the Silver Line.  Each will have a series. Most chains will be hand made and all chains will be convertable. This stamps the look as MINE.  The focals will be mixed metals, interchangeable within the metals “lines”.   Some focals will be OOAK.

Although I originally intended this to be men’s jewelry only, I believe that many of the pieces will be unisex.  I do know that the collection itself will cater to folks who love cosplay.  I know this is a limited subculture but I am happy doing it right now.

I know……you want pictures.   I have the most done for the Brass Line.  I have other pieces on my table but need minor details before they are finished.  Here is where what we learned about “lead time” came in handy.  My stickpins bases have not arrived nor my cufflink bases, SIGH.   Here is a collage of the Faux Pearls series which includes a chain, focal, cufflinks and cravat pin.  The chain converts to a bracelet and shorter chain.  Chains will be my base pieces and toward the higher end because they are hand made.  Focals will fall into higher end and mid levels on the tier.  Bracelets will be mid level.  The cravat pins and cufflinks will be my lower tier products.


Also offered are a cravat pin (not shown) and a leather bracelet.


This bracelet blank from B’Sue is great for a men’s piece.  I’m not sure if you can see the little beetle under the goggles and leaves but he is there.  Blank, clock face, bug, rhinestone chain and leaves all come from B’Sue.

This focal can also go in the Brass line, the series of Order of the Kraken.  (I’d been reading  the Kraken King right before this challenge)


I fell in love with these Victorian button tops from B’Sue and used them for cufflinks in the Order of the Kraken series.  Aren’t they gorgeous?  So simple but so cool!  I could make dozens of these and not get tired of them!  I saw some other button tops on her site that will work well.


These simple pieces are lower tier focals I will use with the brass line using these way cool dragonflies I  found at B’Sue.  I fell in love with these and wish I had a whole BOX of them!  I honed my lumiere skills painting these.



One last focal from the Entomology Series, a mother of pearl blister with one of Brenda’s fab beetle bugs.


That is more than five pieces for the Brass line, Men’s Collection but I want to add a couple more items.  I do have pieces with natural stones but I am only showing here the pieces that use the most from B’Sue.

Here is a focal that will go in the Silver Line, Aviator Series using one of B’Sue’s balloon charms.  They paint up really nice, I think.  Note:  I used one of her brass gears and keys and the brass shows through on the balloon so this can be also used with the brass line.


The Copper Line, I began in the last blog but I’ll put a collage up here just to refresh your memory.


This, again, is  my own chain but I used Brenda’s steampunk hats and gears on the focal and cufflinks and also have a cravat pin with the small hat.  These hats are the only thing I had in mind when I first planned to enter the challenge.  I found SO much more!  My whole line almost went out of control!

And last:  A huge copper focal that only used my own things I made myself with metal clay and dichroic glass.   I just HAD to have one OOAK piece.   This focal goes in the Order of the Kraken series.  It should have one of B’Sue’s little OK charms on it but I lost my last one somewhere on my worktable mess!  I’m going to need a lot of these.


So there we have it.  My Men’s Collection which will cater to those who love cosplay.   Series within the lines will be

Faux Pearls series which I showed here

Order of the Kraken (OK guys)

Aviator Series (balloons and propellers)

Entomologist Series (bugs and spiders)

Hat’s Off Series

Privateer Series (wait till you see that big clipper ship focal)

SOBS series (Secret Order of Baleful Snipers)

Paladin Series (western and horses)

It’s About Time Series

Mourning Jewelry Series

and, I’ll be making some pieces for those who love popular series or books, like Outlander or Truebloods  (come on with the bats!)   No Twilight, it’s already overdone.   I have seven costumes to make for the family outing to Comic Con this year and will need pirate jewelry for the Dread Pirate Roberts and his crew (my son and his boys are  going to advertise while they have fun).

Brenda, I definitely want to say thanks for this opportunity!    I’ve muddled along for quite a while, trying this and trying that but I think I have found my muse now with much help from you, your pieces and my classmates. I am honored that I was chosen to participate.   I will still keep a small Strega shop but I believe that PHOPP is going to be my main focus.   I can use all my other skills along with the new ones I acquired.  I can satisfy my desire to do original stuff at the same time.  I can be different even when using components that hundreds of others also use. I feel more focused..  AND, I met some fantastic and interesting people

I hope that some will be curious enough to follow along as I develop my presence, you can follow Liam Mac Steamish’s new blog, PHOPP’s Emporium.   Or “friend” Liam on Facebook.   I’ll annouce the opening of my shop both  there and here.

Here is a list of my classmates blogs.  They are doing some amazing things so check them out for yourself.


Brenda Sue Lansdowne, B’sue Boutiques: Jewelry Making Outside the Box

Marcia Tuzzolino Aurora Designs

Jann Tague: Clever Designs by Jann

Judy King: Apt to Wander Studio

Linzi Alford: Magpie in the Sky, Spoil Heap Tales

Cynthia Wainscott: Exotic Peru

Carole Carlson: Beadsophisticate

Lynn Stinten: Dragonzwench

Marica Zammit: Bead Lovelies

Catherine Shattuck: VRBrose

Michaele Collie: The Vintage Gem

Mary Craig: Jewelry Alchemy

Lee Koopman: Strega Jewelry X You are here

Erin Whitacre: Shattered Time Jewelry

Monica Casady: MJCasady Copper Works

Leila West: Leila Nicole Designs

Cindy Peterson: Howling Dog Jewelry

Leila Belcher: Leila Bee Designs

Gloria Allen: Wings and Beads

Pamela Anger: Novegatti Designs

Tammy Adams: Paisley Lizard

Lynda O’Mara: LOmara Creative

Elizabeth Hildreth: MadScientistsDesigns

Dana Hickey: Wind Dancer Studios

Janet Calardo: Jan Lea Designs

Maria Clark: Sweet Willow Designs

Lori Beekman: B. Accessorized

Jennifer Kroeger: Relic Charm

Amy Jorgensen: Hoarder’s Corner

Robin Reed: Artistry: Handcrafted Bead Designs

Ingrid Anderson: Lilis Gems

Louise O’Shields: Desire Divine Jewels

Susan Killam: Killam Creative

Mary Katherine Deis: The Rose Sword: Artisan and Vintage Collectible Jewelry

Nike Bottalico: Nike Bottalico

Susan Bowerman: Woodside Wireworks

Kristy Le: Kristy Le Trendy Jewelry Designs

Jan Peters: Stylized Vintage

Mitzie Crider: Needful Luxuries Occasional Blog

Gina Hockett: Freestyle Elements

Linda Anderson: From the Bead Board

Alexandra Sefton: Imaginary Jewelry and Altered Art

Melida Boman: The Journey of Pens and Things

Teresa Shurter: TreeZ’s Treasurs

Melissa Latimer: Smithed Up

Renee Hong: Fine and Dandy Jewelry and Art

Nadine Edris: Moondance Jewelry

Lori Meyer: Parisienne Girl

Jennifer Merrill Williams: Artists of All Stripes

Denise Lussier Poirier: Jewelry by Denise

Renee Allen: Small Stuff Design

Autumn Adams: Autumn Dawns

Elizabeth Owens: 1996 Shabby Lane

Kat BarronMiller: Midnight Kat Productions Art Jewelry

Sandra Ballard: Mama San’s Mojo

Coral Law: ab:coraldesign



March 20, 2015 Posted by | challenges, fashion, Jewelry, steampunk | , , , , , , | 64 Comments

B’Sue Build a Line

I’ve discovered a source for components that I really like.  B’Sue Boutiques has fantastic findings in raw brass that I can color, combine and manipulate to enhance my designs.  It’s amazing what a little B’Sue can do.  Here’s a before and after photo of a necklace I made.  Didn’t really like it all that much till I added a bat from B’Sue Boutiques.  The result if worthy of Abby at NCIS.

My beautiful bat necklace

My beautiful bat necklace


Brenda Landsdowne, of B’Sue Boutiques is guiding over 50 designers through a challenge to build a line of jewely.  She will be our fearless guide to creating a new look, a new style, one that is uniquely our own.   For 3 months we will take this class, the first of its kind and hopefully expand our designing horizons, learn a lot and make new friends.


This will be a brand new experience for me.  Those of you who know me also know that I am worse than a little kid when it comes to making jewelry.  I see something, I say “OOOO, I want to learn to make that,” then I learn it and see the next thing and “ooooo, I want to learn that!”  Once I have learned something, I give it my own little twist and its off to the next thing.  I have an ADHD brain that goes flitting from one thing to the next, which makes me a sort of Jack of all trades and master of none.   .

Black Water

Black Water

So how am I going to set myself on a path to make a “line”  and stick to it?   SIGH….I don’t know, but I believe I need that discipline so I am going into this challenge, though I have talked myself out of it twice now   Here is a bead and linked piece with one of my bronze focals.  Below that, a really simple pair of tudor style earrings.   You can see I’m all over the place.



We each had to come up with a theme for our line.  Brenda said think about what we love and what we could get excited about.   I love stories, literature, fantasy and parallel or alternate histories.  I was reading steampunk literature before it was ever called that.  And, I love to embellish stories of my own.   I love Victorian times and histories.  I also love steampunk.

As far as I could see, the world did not need another Steampunk jewelry artisan.  There are masters out there that I could not even begin to compete with!  MASTERS!

Those of you who know me also know that I like to give me reader s bit of “mood music” to listen to while they scroll.  So listen to this steampunk music.  I played this over and over while I thought about my designs.

I looked at lots of Steampunk fashion and poured over steampunk books and what did I see?   Almost NO men’s jewelry!  I’d been toying with the idea of working on men’s jewelry anyhow.  What would be different about Steampunk men’s jewelry?

These fellows wear elaborate costumes and back in the day would have been called dandies or “fops” even.   A “fop” would wear more elaborate styles of jewelry and I could still keep it simple.  *I’m not one for elaborate collage type pieces.)

What would I need for a line of “fop”.  What would Victorian/alternate history types wear?   Cufflinks, cravat pins, vestpins, kilt pins and pins for capes and maybe a “statement piece”, an elaborate necklace just for a man.

I would need leather and chain, not just little wimpy commercial chain but heavy links in brass, copper and gunmetal.  So, I began assembling some links designed to go with suede cord.  Coils are going to be prominent to go with the gears.


I needed some particular charms and findings from B’Sue Boutique so I ordered them.


I would also need a “theme”, a story if you will.  And, I TOLD you I love stories and love making up my own.

My line is called PHOPP.   PHOPP is an anagram for the Peculiar Herioc Order of Picaresque Paladins.   It’s a group formed by a philanthropic organization that would like to honor heroes of the fantasy battles written of by a plethora of authors.   The honorifics are military medals for Picaresque (which means rogueish in fiction) Paladins (leaders)…….gentlemen who have read these fantastic tales have participated in the battles through their imagination, whether they fought in the War of the Worlds or with the Kraken King.  It’s a sort of “secret” gentlemen’s club adminstered by a character of my own called Liam MacSteamish.    I am only the chosen designer.  It’s Liam who will have a FB page and his own shop which will be called  PHOPPS Emporium.  He may even end up with his own blog.  Look for Liam on Facebook.  I am his only friend poor fellow.

Liam MacSteamish

Liam MacSteamish

I’ve lots of ideas but have yet to assemble my first piece.   I’ve begun and that is what is important.  Here are some sketches and some polyclay findings I made.  IDEAS are happening!


Here is a list of the other folks in the class.  Hop around and see what they are up to!  And don’t forget to stop by B’Sue Boutiques.  Brenda is lots of fun and has a ton of  tutorials and a shop full of findings, charms and chains.


Brenda Sue Lansdowne, B’sue BoutiquesJewelry Making Outside the Box

Marcia Tuzzolino       Aurora Designs

Jann Tague:    Clever Designs by Jann

Judy King:  Apt to Wander Studio

Linzi Alford:  Magpie in the Sky, Spoil Heap Tales

Cynthia Wainscott:  Exotic Peru

Carole Carlson:  Beadsophisticate

Lynn Stinten:  Dragonzwench

Marica Zammit:  Bead Lovelies

Catherine Shattuck:  VRBrose

Michaele Collie:  The Vintage Gem

Mary Craig:  Jewelry Alchemy

Lee Koopman:  Strega Jewelry          X  You are here

Erin Whitacre:  Shattered Time Jewelry

Monica Casady: MJCasady Copper Works

Leila West:  Leila Nicole Designs

Cindy Peterson:  Howling Dog Jewelry

Leila Belcher:  Leila Bee Designs

Gloria Allen:  Wings and Beads

Pamela Anger:  Novegatti Designs

Tammy Adams:  Paisley Lizard

Lynda O’Mara:  LOmara Creative

Elizabeth Hildreth:  MadScientistsDesigns

Dana Hickey:  Wind Dancer Studios

Janet Calardo:  Jan Lea Designs

Maria Clark:  Sweet Willow Designs

Lori Beekman:  B. Accessorized

Jennifer Kroeger:  Relic Charm

Amy Jorgensen:  Hoarder’s Corner

Robin Reed:  Artistry: Handcrafted Bead Designs

Ingrid Anderson:  Lilis Gems

Louise O’Shields:  Desire Divine Jewels

Susan Killam:  Killam Creative

Mary Katherine Deis:  The Rose Sword: Artisan and Vintage Collectible Jewelry

Nike Bottalico:  Nike Bottalico

Susan Bowerman:  Woodside Wireworks

Kristy Le:  Kristy Le Trendy Jewelry Designs

Jan Peters:  Stylized Vintage

Mitzie Crider:  Needful Luxuries Occasional Blog

Gina Hockett:  Freestyle Elements

Linda Anderson:  From the Bead Board

Alexandra Sefton:  Imaginary Jewelry and Altered Art

Melida Boman:  The Journey of Pens and Things

Teresa Shurter:  TreeZ’s Treasurs

Melissa Latimer:  Smithed Up

Renee Hong:  Fine and Dandy Jewelry and Art

Nadine Edris:  Moondance Jewelry

Lori Meyer:  Parisienne Girl

Jennifer Merrill Williams:  Artists of All Stripes

Denise Lussier Poirier:  Jewelry by Denise

Renee Allen:  Small Stuff Design

Autumn Adams:  Autumn Dawns

Elizabeth Owens:  1996 Shabby Lane

Kat BarronMiller:  Midnight Kat Productions Art Jewelry

Sandra Ballard:  Mama San’s Mojo

Coral Law:  ab:coraldesign

January 23, 2015 Posted by | challenges, fashion, Jewelry | , , , , , , , , , , | 52 Comments