Mona Does Concrete – Time to Rethink Concrete

When you think “concrete,” you probably think of sidewalks, industrial floors, etc.  When Mona Patel thinks concrete, she thinks kitchen ware, wall art, and even jewelry.  Prepare to see concrete transformed into elegant merchandise that beautifies and offers a refreshing aesthetic when you browse Mona Does Concrete.

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These petite geometric planters beg to be placed in a sunny window, or would be perfect to cheer up a desk.

When Mona met her husband Mike, a jack-of-all-trades, she was introduced to several skills from building to carpentry, but she took a special interest in his work with concrete.  Mike used concrete to make polished kitchen counter-tops, but Mona saw an opportunity to take this diverse material and make items that were smaller, more affordable, and useful in the home.

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Mona certainly thinks outside the box when it comes to concrete, and her products are unexpected, chic, and fun.

People are often surprised with the kind of items that can be made of concrete, and often mistake Mona’s products as stoneware.  This is because of Mona’s special process in forming and finishing her products, particularly her kitchenware, to make it both smooth and food-safe.  Mona uses a beeswax seal on her concrete wares that not only makes the items kitchen-friendly, but also gives them a smooth finish–very different from bumpy sidewalk!

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Mona stains her cheese boards with tumeric, giving the concrete that beautiful amber streak.

Mona loves the unique advantages of using concrete, one of them being the immense diversity of the material.  According to Mona, if you can make a mold, you can make almost anything with concrete.  The key, though, is making a mold that can be removed from the final product without shattering, thus allowing the mold to be reused. For her standard items, Mona likes using rubber molds, though she’s always willing to experiment for the sake of creating something unexpected.

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Ever considered concrete jewelry? Mona has lots of beautiful concrete necklaces, and says people are surprised to find that the pieces are no heavier than normal pendants.

For concrete kitchenware, you’ll want to hand wash in order to preserve the beeswax seal, but otherwise concrete products are very durable.  Mona likes to tell her customers to expect the concrete to change colors over time, much like leather taking on a patina.  Each product adopts an individual character over time and no two items are exactly the same. Check out Mona Does Concrete on Etsy or follow her Instagram!

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Stylish, whimsical pieces for the home or to wear–clearly concrete is a medium worth noticing!

Good Juju Herbal — Mindful Skincare

Natural skincare is a trend that is quickly catching on, and for good reason.  As people do research into what is in their commercialized skincare (and the side effects all those chemicals bring), you see more folks turning to natural options.  For Judith Jones, the need was even more urgent: born with eczema, Judith already struggled with sensitive skin, but at 19 she began to develop dramatic allergies to some of the most commonly used chemicals in commercial products.

Judith

Judith’s compassion shows through in her warm smile and bubbly voice.  You can tell she cares about the people who use her products! [PC: Three Regions Photography]

Even in dermatologist-recommended skincare lines and products advertised as “natural,” Judith repeatedly found the artificial ingredients and chemicals that she was allergic to.  As a result, Judith began making her own products.  What started out as soap for her own use rapidly caught on with friends and family, until soon folks began insisting she make her products available for purchase.

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Judith’s soaps are simple in their ingredients, but dramatic in the way they nourish your skin.  

Today, two years later, Judith is running Good Juju Herbal as a full-time business, with a hopping Etsy shop as well as partnering with West Elm and other North Carolina-based businesses. Judith quickly found that natural skincare–we’re talking 100% natural, with no complicated chemicals–was not only popular, but much-needed for many people.

When asked about her favorite product, Judith admits that she’s tremendously proud of her soap.  While you’ll find lots of other artisan soap makers at on Etsy, Judith is one of the only ones that doesn’t fiddle with artificial colors, fragrances, and chemicals.  But that doesn’t mean her soaps are boring–while some are purposefully unscented, many have a bright, natural scent that comes from essential oils, spices, and flower petals.

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Not only are Judith’s products all natural, but ethical as well.  She is conscientious about the packaging she uses, and regularly donates a portion of her proceeds to charity.

Because of her passion for helping others, Judith initially had intentions to become a nurse, but through Good Juju Herbal she’s found an entirely different way to practice healing.  Judith spent months crafting her own skincare line that includes a facial soap, toner, and moisturizer.  Judith finds the skincare line most rewarding to make because she receives dozens of testimonials from customers who have been rid of conditions ranging from acne to dryness.  Judith painstakingly developed this skincare routine to not only be friendly to sensitive skin, but also to suit a wide variety of skin types and issues.

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When Judith calls her skincare line “Skin Food,” she’s not joking–that stuff’s jam packed with nutrients to make your skin happy!

There’s no shortage of products at Good JuJu Herbal, and no end to the goodness Judith’s creations provide.  A couple months ago I ordered one of her gift sets (which includes a bar of soap, lip moisturizer, a cedar soap dish, and felted soap) and fell in love with her products.  Whether you have sensitive skin or not, once you try Judith’s soap you can never go back to liquid pump soap; her products are deeply moisturizing, luxurious, and tastefully scented.  Especially if you suffer from acne, eczema, or other difficult skin issues, Good Juju Herbal is an essential to try out.

Small Businesses in the Big Day

Ever since receiving our wedding photos a couple months ago, I find myself looking through the album every so often, reliving what had been a preciously happy day.  Then it occurred to me that we had incorporated the products and services of several small businesses in the wedding, and we were so pleased with each and every one of them.  So whether you’re planning a wedding or party yourself, or just like discovering what’s local, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to some top-notch small businesses in the area that we used for our wedding.

Ginia Worrell Photography

I would be remiss if I didn’t start off singing the praises of our photographer, Ginia Worrell.  Ginia is such a warm person, and she did a great job capturing not just the physical details but the happiness of everyone that day.  She did an excellent job putting everyone at ease, and knew just how to both provide direction while also letting us be ourselves.  She was both speedy and thorough–the ideal combination in a photographer!  We have been so pleased with her photos and how she captured all the little details and sweet moments of our day.

View More: http://giniaworrellphotography.pass.us/lawyerwedding

I love this detail shot, and Ginia really helped us to feel natural and relaxed while she worked.

The Bleckley Inn (Anderson, SC)

This was our venue for both our wedding and our reception.  With portions of the original inn over 100 years old, the Bleckley had beautiful charm and character that won us over immediately.  The staff were all very accommodating and helpful, and their wedding package was wonderful, including rentals, 4 suites, and multiple spaces throughout the inn.  We were nothing but pleased and delighted with our choice of venue!

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We used the walled-in courtyard for our ceremony.  The area is beautifully landscaped (and check out those amazing old doors!)

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The carriage house served our reception needs perfectly.  It was spacious, bright, and had plenty of that old-age charm with the exposed brick, wood beams, and original stucco.

Sullivan’s Metropolitan Grill (caterer)

Planted literally across the road from the Bleckley Inn, Sullivan’s Metropolitan Grill has a reputation in Anderson as THE restaurant in town.  Because of this, I was initially intimidated by taking them on as our caterer, but we found out early on that Sullivan’s was amazing to work with and worked easily within our budget.  The food was outstanding, and people still come up to me and talk about it, particularly their bacon-wrapped quail and the exquisite desserts.  You can’t do better than Sullivan’s if you’re looking for a top-notch caterer in the Upstate!

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Sullivan’s knocked our socks off with their food. Shown here is their blackberry-lemon cheesecake–and it’s every bit as good as it looks!

Solid Gold (jewelers)

I bought Benjamin’s wedding band here, and he also used Solid Gold to resize my rings (both my band and diamond first belonged to my grandmother).  We were really pleased with the prices they offered and their service was quick and very satisfactory.

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Even though my diamond and band are over 60 years old, Solid Gold was able to offer us a men’s band that matched my set beautifully.

Emerald Road (live band)

I love Celtic music, so we brought in Emerald Road, a local Celtic band, to play for our wedding and reception.  They brought new life to the music we selected, and made the reception lively and fun.  Each of the musicians have a lot of talent and play so well together.

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We had a cellist, violinist, and guitarist at our wedding, but different members of Emerald Road play multiple instruments.

Bridesmaids Gifts

For my bridesmaids, I ordered them each a cuff from A Gilded Line with a line from their favorite hymn stamped onto it.  I chose this because, more than being a drift from the current trends in bridesmaids gifts, it was personalized and meaningful.  Alongside the cuffs I also gave them a bunch of pampering goodies, among them a bath bomb from Tiny House, Big Farm.  I got texts from the girls a week or two later saying how fun and luxurious the bombs were–always a nice component to a girly gift.

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Check out the blog post I wrote on A Gilded Line here.

Floral Bouquets

I’ve had several people ask me who did our bouquets–well, I did!  I follow SO many talented florists on Instagram and would have loved to use any number of them…but as a bride you have to choose how you portion your budget.  We ordered blooms (primarily roses) from Ingles and picked the majority of the greenery from blueberry bushes and ivy in our backyard.

So, while this isn’t a small business promotion, I hope it’s a tip that can help another thrifty bride.  However, if fresh flowers are one of the most important things to you for your wedding, there are lots of highly talented florists in the area (message me for references!)

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I really enjoyed assembling our bouquets (floral arranging is one of the few crafty things I can actually do).

There are a TON of amazing venues, caterers, shops and products in the area that you can incorporate into a wedding to make it special, but these were the ones that we chose, and we were so pleased.  Everyone worked graciously with our budget and provided excellent service and quality.  Our wedding could have been bare-bones and I still would have been on cloud 9, but all the details and special touches made it absolutely beautiful.  I hope you’ll take advantage of the talent in this area and use them, too!

View More: http://giniaworrellphotography.pass.us/lawyerwedding

A happy, happy day!

Lauren Sumner Pottery – Imaginative Accents for the Home

Something I so enjoy about running this blog is seeing a medium or craft interpreted in drastically different ways by each different artist.  I follow several different ceramics shops, each with their own unique style, but Lauren Sumner Pottery has stood out again and again, which is why I’m so tickled that I had the chance to interview her about her beautiful ceramics.

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Lauren has so many fun shapes and details in her pottery, and I love the high gloss finish.

Lauren and ceramics have a history that goes back twenty years, though it was only in 2011 that she opened her Etsy shop.  In 2015, Lauren took the plunge to run her ceramics business full-time, and has been creating like crazy ever since.  Her origins as a graphic designer definitely translate in the polish and precision of her work–another feature that makes her ceramics stand out.

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It’s amazing the transformation that pottery undergoes, from the initial shaping and carving to the final touches.

Like any artist, Lauren had to experiment with different techniques, shapes, and ideas in order to find her own recognizable style.  Early on, she developed the idea for her Montsera leaf bowl–a signature that has stayed in the shop ever since and has set the tone for much of her work.  Lauren’s technique is time consuming in order to produce this stunning piece; by using a real Montsera leaf, Lauren molds her clay into a bowl shape and painstakingly carves out the unique leaf details.

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Lauren’s teardrop wall hangings are an eye-catching alternative to traditional frames or paintings.

The eye-popping glazes Lauren uses are as distinctive as her unique shapes.  Drawn towards deep greens, teals, and aquas, Lauren’s work definitely promotes a serene, almost tropical feel.  You won’t find anything plain-Jane at Lauren Sumner Pottery–along with her bright colors, Lauren is drawn toward fun details, such as her cat-shaped ring dishes or lace-patterned bowls and wall hangings.

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Lauren’s signature Montsera leaf look, made miniature for these darling ceramic necklaces.

When asked what her favorite piece is, Lauren had a true artist’s answer: “Whatever is newest!”  I love that answer, because I think it expresses the universal passion of a creative: we are always enamored by whatever is new, fresh, and expressive.  For Lauren, this means that she is particularly excited by the ceramic necklaces new to her shop.

Follow Lauren on Instagram and Facebook, and be sure to also check out her website and Etsy shop.  Whether you’re looking for a wall hanging, dish, or necklace, Lauren will definitely have something unique, beautiful, and stylish to offer.

 

January Jewelry – Starting from Scratch

It’s not often that I meet an artist who says they truly make their product from scratch.  Especially in the jewelry business, most artists manage to make beautiful accessories by pulling together different pre-bought elements, which still creates a lovely product.  But Melissa Giglio from January Jewelry is about hand-made from the very beginning–and as a trained metal-smith, she has the skills to do just that.

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The fact that Melissa hand-crafts every detail of her pieces is mind-boggling.

Melissa graduated from East Carolina University and spent five years teaching art, but she kept thinking back to the classes she took during college that introduced her to different crafts.   She loves working with her hands, whether it’s woodworking, tinkering, or experimenting with different elements.  Melissa has a bright, energetic personality, and somehow I imagine she’s the kind of person who never sits still for long.

Which is why, when Melissa and her husband moved to Columbia, SC in the middle of a school year, Melissa took the plunge to step away from teaching and begin her jewelry making business full-throttle.  Melissa knew right off the bat that she wanted to make every component of her creations–an ambitious goal, but one that she’s executed brilliantly.  Every part of Melissa’s jewelry–yes, even the delicate necklace chains–are made by hand.

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Melissa exudes energy and takes true delight in her craft.

It was such a pleasure to speak with a maker who’s not just an artist, but an expert in her craft.  The process of metalworking is labor-intensive but fascinating, and Melissa executes each stage with finesse–from drawing the designs on sheet metal, cutting out the design, sanding the edges smooth, soldering the piece, cleaning the metal, then finishing with special polishes or patinas.

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The enamel pieces are made by taking powdered glass and fusing it to metal–a fascinating process that yields a mesmerizing finish.

The pieces you’ll find at January Jewelry are distinctive in style.  Melissa is drawn to materials that reflect nature as well as sophistication; the turquoise featured in many of her pieces come from top-quality lapidary artists from Arizona and New Mexico, ethically sourced and 100% unique.  Melissa’s jewelry is both feminine and rustic, romantic and full of character.

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There is so much that is unique about January Jewelry pieces, from the hand-cut leaf charms to the individual turquoise stones.

Even though she’s a full-time jewelry artist now, Melissa still has the heart of a teacher, and she loves sharing the metalworking process on her Instagram.  It’s a treat to see a product formed from start to finish, and Melissa has an eye for detail and tremendous design talent.  Follow her on Instagram (@januaryjewelry), explore her website, or order a stunning hand-made piece from her Etsy shop!

Sunny Mullarkey – Monumental Details in Stunning Prints

It takes real talent to fuse together opposite elements in a piece of artwork, but Sunny Mullarkey manages to do just that in her linocut prints.  In Sunny’s art you’ll find mountain ranges and raging rivers, all traced into the delicate pattern of a moth’s wing.  Combining the monumental with the intricate is Sunny Mullarkey’s specialty, and I’m so excited to share her work with you!

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Through her creative outlook Sunny manages to capture both the universal and the minuscule in her prints.

Art has followed Sunny all her life, from attending the Governor’s School for Arts to studying Fine Arts in college.  Through both her education and her own experience, Sunny has explored different mediums and multiple art styles, but nowadays you’ll find her chiseling out prints on linoleum to create her breathtaking pieces.

“I love how [printmaking] is such a physical art form.  The tools make their own kind of mark that makes the print different from a painting or drawing. Being able to see the chisels and texture of the work is something that you can’t recreate in anything else. ” -Sunny Mullarkey

When Sunny moved her artwork out of the privacy of her home and into a studio space in 2013, she knew it was a big step forward that would signify turning a hobby into a career.  As it turns out, the studio space became a huge motivator for Sunny, and she enjoys sharing the space with other creatives who support and inspire her.

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The Station, a studio space used by Sunny and a few fellow creatives, was featured in National Geographic…how cool is that??

The signature look behind Sunny’s prints is the theme of nature: combining the grandeur of a landscape with the fine details of an insect’s wing or a feather.  Sunny’s love for nature and hiking infuses her work and urges the viewer to become a more keen observer, too.

Sunny balances her career as an artist alongside her life as a mother and wife, and speaks passionately about the significance of support from your spouse and community.  Like many of the makers I interview, Sunny emphasizes the importance of finding fellow makers to receive feedback, encouragement, and inspiration.

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It’s so hard to sufficiently describe Sunny’s work–it’s both earthy and modern, elegant and playful, imaginative and controlled.

There is so much charisma in Sunny’s work, both in the details and even in the beautiful textures of the paper she prints on.  Sunny gave me no shortage of striking phrases to quote while discussing the artist’s perspective:

“I want to fill the world with beautiful things.  As artists, that’s our duty.  There’s nothing in this world that wasn’t touched by design. Writers, photographers…we’re all here to use our creative gift to make our world more beautiful.  That’s a wonderful gift to have to give to the world.” -Sunny Mullarkey

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Another example of Sunny’s method of combining landscapes with the creatures that inhabit them–mesmerizing.

Sunny’s passion for both nature and art is captivating and speaks to the mission of all artists, both new and experienced.  I hope you’ll take time to explore her Etsy shop and website, and be sure to follow her on Instagram to keep in touch with her amazing work.

Casting Cares – Weighted Comforts

Today I get the pleasure of telling you  about my favorite maker of all time–my own mama!  For as long as I can remember, my mother Kathy Mabry has been sewing and serving others through her hospitality and compassion, and a couple years back she started her business, Casting Cares, to put her skills to use in a unique way.  At Casting Cares, you’ll find a variety of weighted blankets and other weighted products that all provide comfort, security, and relief from multiple issues such as insomnia, anxiety, depression, chronic pain, Autism, sensory disorders, PTSD, depression, and so much more.

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Kathy has a talent for pairing fabrics, usually coordinating three different patterns for both sides of the blanket as well as the binding.  Each blanket is beautiful and personal to its user!

The concept behind weighted blankets is simple yet effective: beads sewn inside the blankets add a pleasant weight that feels similar to receiving a firm hug, which has been shown to release neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine.  Because of this, the light pressure provided by the weighted blankets increases feelings of security and comfort to its user, which makes weighted blankets an amazing resource for those with any range of anxiety or depression.

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Weighted blankets aren’t just for humans!  Our canine friend Tilman has always been terrified of storms and fireworks, but he was relaxed and calm with his weighted blanket on him.

Weighted blankets are not a tool exclusively meant for those with significant emotional or physical ailments, though.  I’ve been using my own weighted blanket for years; during school,  I found that wrapping my weighted blanket around my shoulders helped me to remain calm and concentrated while working on school, or simply unwinding at the end of a stressful day.  The weight of my blanket also feels extremely comfortable to me when I go to bed, and now I find that I have trouble falling asleep if I don’t have it!

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Beyond the personalized colors and patterns, each blanket can have a customized weight, though most adults (under 200 lbs) find that 7-8 lbs is ideal.

My mother, Kathy, experimented with making a weighted blanket for herself a couple years ago to help her learn to sleep on her back and to relieve her restless leg syndrome.  As she continued to do more and more research, she discovered the huge scope of benefits behind weighted blankets, and several people approached her asking for weighted blankets of their own.  Now, she delights in making a one-of-a-kind, beautifully crafted product for each of her customers, using personalized fabrics and a weight that perfectly suits the needs of the user.

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Several elementary school teachers have taken advantage of Kathy’s Twiddle Pads to occupy fidgety students.  These are helpful for keeping children occupied during church, as well!

Besides weighted blankets, Kathy also makes weighted vests that can be worn by anxious children, “fidget pads” to keep tiny hands busy and to teach fine motor skills (lightly weighed, 1.5 lbs), “twiddle pads” (lightly weighted pads with simple interactive features; these have been useful for dementia patients), as well as mastectomy recovery pillows (non-weighted).  Kathy also frequently accepts custom orders so that she can meet unique needs and requests of those who would benefit from a weighted comfort.

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My darling Mama–she loves to sew, and she loves designing blankets for people.

For me, the mission behind Casting Cares reflects my sweet mama so well: to provide comfort and service for people, whether they suffer from debilitating anxiety or simply want a better night’s rest.  And what’s more, you receive a high-quality, personalized product that not only meets your needs but reflects your personality.  You can shop for your own Casting Cares product either at Kathy’s website, her new Etsy shop, or follow her on Instagram and Facebook!

A Gilded Line – Wearable Truth

As a writer, I’m a long-standing believer that words have a huge impact on humans day in and day out.  What you read and repeat to yourself can drastically shape your attitudes and convictions, which is why Allie Pust’s shop A Gilded Line offers an incredible medium for both truth and beauty.

Allie began stamping bracelets as she helped her eldest daughter raise money for a field trip, but friends and family continued to request personalized cuffs long after the mother-daughter pair had reached their fundraising goal.   It didn’t take long for Allie to recognize the incredible potential of the bracelets to spread truth (namely Scripture) simply by wearing the personalized cuffs.

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I love the variety of widths, colors, and fonts of Allie’s bracelets, and how great they look paired together.  You can even add a trendy tassel to your cuff!

I discovered A Gilded Line when I was searching for bridesmaids gifts for my girls; I wanted to stray from the current fads, yet still present them with something meaningful and personalized.  I had Allie stamp words from my bridesmaids’ favorite hymns on their bracelets, and they turned out beautifully.  Allie has an ever-growing list of customization options, from different metals and widths, as well as a variety of beautiful fonts.  She also makes bookmarks, key chains, and luggage tags that can also be personalized!

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Allie with her “business partner” (aka, eldest daughter Lexie).  Family businesses are definitely my favorite businesses of all!

A Gilded Line is a real passion for Allie.  Speaking with her, I was struck by her bubbly and outgoing personality–she loves people and she loves sharing the gospel.  Allie shared that she will approach just about anybody in order to share the love of Christ and often offer to give away whatever bracelet she’s wearing on that day.  I so respect her courage and vivacity as a go-getter, and I believe this combined with God’s grace is what has made A Gilded Line grow exponentially since Allie first opened her Etsy shop last January.

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There are so many options to make each bracelet unique and meaningful at A Gilded Line.

The bracelets are functional and easy to wear; the metal is pliable, so it’s easy to adjust to the width of your wrist.  They’re a perfect vehicle for reminding yourself of important truths–much like looking at a watch, you find yourself glancing at the cuff multiple times a day, which makes it easy to remember whatever special words are printed there.

“I’ve never doubted that it’s an affordable way for people to see a truth daily when they need to stay encouraged.  It’s an awesome way to wear words of truth and tell others about it.  I think it’s a great way to break the ice.  I love seeing people talk about why they’re wearing what they’re wearing.” -Allie Pust

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Whether you’re making a fashion statement or quoting a portion of Scripture: Allie’s got you covered.

One of Allie’s favorite things to do with A Gilded Line is to join forces with those fighting cancer or some other hardship, using the bracelets for a fundraiser.  The cuffs are a wearable way to keep a loved one in mind, a way to spread a slogan, and a reminder to pray for those in need.  Allie hopes that A Gilded Line will continue to grow so that she can do more and more of these fundraisers.

The concept behind A Gilded Line is simple–metal cuffs printed with words–but they have a potent impact, whether its keeping its wearer grounded in truth or spreading support for someone in need.  Check out A Gilded Line on Facebook, Instagram, or Etsy!

Mother’s Day Gifts – Four Unique Ideas

Are you finding yourself running a little behind on purchasing a special gift for good ole’ Mom?  You’re not alone (I’m not just saying that…seriously, I have been putting off Mother’s Day shopping for a solid two weeks now).  I have some awesome, one-of-a-kind gift ideas to show you that come from previous Ivy&Branch featured shops!  Check out these top-notch Mother’s Day products, and be sure to look closely for the promo codes included for each shop!

Mama Bear Necklace by The Artful Sojourn:

Mama Bear necklace

If you use the code “ivyandbranch” on a The Artful Sojourn order over $25, you’ll get $5 off your purchase!

This brass necklace would make the perfect accessory for a mama who wants to be chic yet functional.  I have a soft spot for this piece, as the hand-stamped “Mama Bear” on the bar makes me think of one of my favorite nicknames for my own mother.  Furthermore, you can customize the necklace with birthstone charms that correspond to all your Mama Bear’s children–a sweet and subtle touch that is sure to please your detail-oriented and fashionable Mama Bear.

Each Mama Bear necklace will come beautifully wrapped in a darling drawstring bag–and don’t forget that 20% of ALL The Artful Sojourn products goes directly to Big World Project, an organization that rescues orphaned children in India.  The donation card included with the necklace is sure to be as meaningful to your mother as the necklace itself.

Read my full interview with The Artful Sojourn here!

Mother’s Day print by Grace Under Pressure:

Mother's day print

Use the code “IvyandBranch” in the Grace Under Pressure shop for free shipping on your order!

Does your mom have an eye for art?  For the calligraphy-loving, beauty-seeking, elegance-filled mother, nothing could be more tasteful than this Mother print from Grace Under Pressure.  The print is filled with both touching and playful words associated with motherhood, featuring everything from maternal virtues to fun nicknames.  When placed in a pretty frame and displayed on a desk or beside a favorite reading chair, this would be a well-cherished gift for a thoughtful mother.

Read my full interview with Grace Under Pressure here!

Essential Oil case by Cotton and Cursive:

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For Cotton and Cursive, “IVYANDBRANCH” will give you 10% off your order through all of May!

If your mom has caught the essential oil craze, then she doubtlessly carries a few bottles of her favorite oils with her wherever she goes.  Instead of having the bottles clinking around loose in her purse, give her this precious essential oil bag from Cotton and Cursive.  Not only is this little bag absolutely beautiful, but it’s quilted to protect the essential oil bottles.  These bags can be customized to fit different sizes–this little beauty will fit five essential oil bottles at a 5ml size, but Rachel makes others that fit 15ml bottles and roller-top bottles.  This would make the perfect gift for a mama who loves both fashion and function (and holistic health!)

Read my full interview with Cotton and Cursive here!

Woodburned Spoons by Being Sara Dixon:

spoons

You can get a hefty 20% discount on your Being Sara Dixon order with the code “ivybranch“!

For the culinary mom, these gorgeous woodburnt spoons by Being Sara Dixon are absolutely perfect.  Each spoon is woodburnt by hand with a unique design, so not only are they functional, but they’re a fun way to spice up your mom’s utensil drawer.  Or, better yet, take Sara’s suggestion and display them in a snazzy vase as shown in this photo!  They are simultaneously the perfect kitchen tool as well as an elegant decorative accent–your mom will love them.

Read my full interview with Being Sara Dixon here!

Whatever gift you end up buying for your mother, be sure to make her feel precious and loved.  Pull together a nice meal, round up all your siblings, and create a real tribute to the amazing woman who raises you, sacrifices for you, and is always ready with a piece of advice and a warm hug.  Happy shopping, and happy Mother’s Day!

 

The Artful Sojourn – Jewelry with an Impact

Lisa Gum, founder and designer of The Artful Sojourn, does more than make beautiful jewelry: she’s a visionary with a mission to relieve the suffering of impoverished children in India, and she does this all the way from her home in Virginia.  The story and passion behind Lisa’s business is well worth learning about (and supporting!)

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The Artful Sojourn founder & desinger, Lisa Gum: a lovely creative who makes lovely things (check out the sweet little choker necklace she’s wearing!) Photo credits: Hilary Hyland Photography

I met Lisa two years ago at my (soon-to-be) sister-in-law’s wedding.  My fiance’s family has been close friends with the Gums for many years, and it only took a few minutes with Lisa and her family to feel like I’d known them my whole life, too.  Lisa has a gentle, heartwarming personality that immediately places one at ease, so it made total sense to me when I learned that her jewelry business, The Artful Sojourn, is partnered with Big World Project.

Etsy Favorite Message

Lisa feels a heavy burden to support needy children in India, and she makes a significant contribution through The Artful Sojourn.

Lisa began The Artful Sojourn just before starting college five years ago, making jewelry to raise funds for a mission trip.  Lisa quickly realized how much she enjoyed working with her hands and began to develop The Artful Sojourn as a business, while at the same time searching for a missions-focused charity that she could support with her profits.  One Sunday, the founder of Big World Project came to deliver a sermon at Lisa’s church, and she felt immediately that this was the ministry she wanted to support.

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Geometric shapes are a favorite design element in The Artful Sojourn. Photo credit: Gaudium Photography

The Artful Sojourn’s jewelry style has evolved since its beginning, reflecting Lisa’s taste and lifestyle over the years.  Lisa laughingly describes her style as “a little Bohemian,” but you’ll also find that her pieces are minimalistic, easy to wear, and highlight Lisa’s favorite natural elements like tumbled gemstones and hammered metal.

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This pendant necklace features a stunning coin of marble; a clean, sophisticated look that’s reflective of The Artful Sojourn’s aesthetic. 

As both an artist and a missionary, Lisa shared that she’s about to embark on “living the real sojourner life.”  During the fall of 2016, Lisa began to feel called to make a gutsy move: to buy a van, pack up her shop, and travel nationwide to participate in missions work and expand her range of craft shows.  Though Lisa is still searching for a van, she’s pursuing this vision full of faith, booking craft shows and making plans to leave her much-loved hometown.

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I love the subtle details in Lisa’s work, like the tiny blue gemstone in this knuckle ring. Photo credit: Hilary Hyland Photography

Lisa was able to take on The Artful Sojourn as her full time job back in 2016, so I asked her what she found to be the hardest part about running a small business.  Laughing, Lisa immediately responded that motivation is oftentimes the most difficult aspect.  Beginning a business is full of excitement, but not everything is glamorous, exciting, or immediately rewarding.  But Lisa was quick to add that she absolutely loves what she does, and finds motivation through faith:

“I think the biggest thing is continually remembering that this is not about me.  Every day, I’m giving The Artful Sojourn to the Lord and saying ‘Okay God, this is for you.  Whatever you want to do with this, it’s in your hands.’  That’s the biggest motivator and encourager.” -Lisa Gum

The Artful Sojourn brings an entire new meaning to jewelry that is both beautiful and functional; not only is Lisa’s jewelry conducive to an active lifestyle, but it’s functional in the sense that each piece of jewelry works toward rescuing children in need in India.  Follow her on Facebook and Instagram, and have fun browsing her beautiful jewelry through Etsy or her website!