Wednesday, December 24, 2008

It's Christmas time!

I have been a busy bee lately creating all my Christmas gifts for my friends and family. The only thing that is left to do is the wrapping! For the last couple years, we have bought rolls of brown recycled paper and decorated it up with non-toxic paint for our wrapping paper. The only problem is when it comes time to wrap, I haven't been able to find recyclable tape, so after the excitement of gifts on Christmas morning, I end up meticulously peeling off all the tape to recycle the used paper!!

Yesterday, I came across this video. I am definitely going to file this one away for next year's gifts, but I thought I should share it for all of you who are scrambling to do last minute wrapping today!


Furoshiki gift wrapping from RecycleNow on Vimeo

Have a happy holiday from ecocessories!

Friday, December 19, 2008

ecocessories Online

I have recently spread the ecocessories story a bit further across the web, and wanted to let you know some other places you can find me online! This is just a way to expand ecocessories presence on the web.

I will be using "twitter" to post small updates about ecocessories as they happen. Join me on twitter to follow my updates! What is twitter? Find out more here.

I will be using "flickr" to post photos of ecocessories jewelry and happenings in my studio. Join me on flickr to be updated when I post new photos and see how my designs are created from start to finish! You probably also noticed the slideshow of my flickr photos embedded right into this blog.

Finally, I have created an ecocessories Facebook page! This page is all about having a convenient presence where my friends and customers spend a lot of their time online. Show your support by becoming a fan. Become a fan by January 31, 2009 and be entered to win a free necklace and earrings set ($80 value)!

Website update: My new programmers anticipate the RElaunch of my e-commerce website to happen mid January. Stay tuned for a Valentine's Day shopping extravaganza!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Christmas Recycling Idea

Last year I saved all of our Christmas cards and tucked them away in the box of decorations. I was pleasantly surprised to find them in there when we got festive this season! I saved the cards so that I could recycle them into new handmade cards this year!

It is so easy to do. This year, save all your cards with your Christmas tree decorations when you pack up for the season. There are tons of fun images that you can cut out of the wide array of Christmas cards out there, and lots of fun sayings can be salvaged from the inside!

With a little bit of heavy stock computer paper, and some Modge Podge, Allan and I crafted our way to a group of very unique and handmade cards. Maybe one will show up in your mailbox this December!

See the entire process on my Flickr photo album: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ecocessories

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Handmade Holiday Cards & Tags

This video is an adorable demonstration of how simple it is for each one of us to add that "handmade" touch to our holiday gifts this year! I hope it inspires you too:



And this video is just pure love and warmth for the holiday season. Enjoy!

Sleepy Sheep Sustainable Bedding

To be creative, a good night's sleep is essential and I trust the wool bedding from Sleepy Sheep to keep me cozy, healthy, and relaxed night after night.


Sleepy Sheep is actually operated by the programmers who have developed ecocessories.ca. Sleepy Sheep sells wool bedding and bedding made from organic cotton and bamboo. I have experienced the luxury of their incredible products and bedding is an amazing Christmas gift for both men and women! Go check it out. They even have gift certificates!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Ready, Set, Launch!

I am very excited and proud to announce that it's here. My website a.k.a. my main storefront has swung its doors WIDE open and invites you in! The shop is fully functional, and check back often as I will be adding stock daily as I create.

The payments are completely secure - I use PayPal Pro which is safe and easy, using a widely known secure server. No, you don't need a PayPal account to pay! You can pay with any ol' debit or credit card.

I ship using Canada Post and rates are listed on the site. This is a timely, safe and reliable method of shipping as it comes with insurance, a tracking number, and arrives in 2 days to most urban centers across Canada.

I am so excited!! Please send me your thoughts - I really would love some feedback from users. I know I like it, but do you? Is it easy to navigate? Do you like the layout? Am I missing any FAQ's?

Also check out my friend Tara's blog - she was the diva behind the design and layout of the site! Sparks and Co. is her company and she has tons of inspirational and creative ideas!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Silversmithing In My Studio

I spent the evening yesterday forming clasps, jump rings, and different sized and shaped rings to incorporate into my jewelry. I had Allan take some pictures of the process so you could have a peek at all the fun steps that go into forming the one of a kind findings that are combined with recycled beads to complete the ecocessories jewelry I sell!


I've formed a bunch of hoops, and now I want them soldered shut! I start by painting the seam with flux, which protects the silver when heating. It also helps hold the tiny piece of silver solder in place! Using tweezers, I place a tiny rectangle of sheet solder on the seam.


I sneak up on the hoop - if you move too quickly, the tiny piece of solder jumps off! It's very annoying. Moving the flame from my torch around the solder on both sides distributes heat along the ring and when it reaches it's melting point, the solder flows. Then, I dip the ring into cold water to quench it - a very important step! The metal is now extremely hot, and it is tempting to eagerly want to pick up the soldered piece right away.


Finally, I put the soldered hoop into a crock pot that contains heated lemon salt and water, which removes the discolouration that occurs from the flame. The silver piece will come out with a matte finish, and to create a shiny finish it then gets tumbled for a few hours.

It is a lot of steps, but I love every minute of working with metal and giving my jewelry that much more of a handmade touch!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Comment on my blog and win FREE jewelry!

One of the best parts about having a blog is that I get to communicate with my readers. But I feel like I'm doing more talking than listening these days!

As an incentive I am having a contest. Everyone who comments on ANY blog post before December 15th, 2008 gets entered in a draw to win a free necklace!

To make this work, you will have to email me at jessica@ecocessories.ca if you make a comment. This way you can still be anonymous with your comment on the blog if you want, but I need to have your email address to contact the winner! Simply email me and put "Blog Comment" in the subject!

I want to hear if you agree or disagree on my article about fair trade, what you think about handmade clasps, and really anything that pops in your head when visiting my site!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Human Dignity Initiative

Today I volunteered for an incredible organization called the Human Dignity Initiative. There was a conference of a group of visionary university students who are recipients of the Millennium Scholarship, and they were participating in a weekend of networking and thought-provoking workshops. I was the facilitator of a brainstorming session on different marketing initiatives HDI could consider when getting the message out!

The first project that HDI is undertaking is bringing solar power to war torn countries. This will be accomplished by bringing solar powered flashlights to communities that currently don't have light. This is awesome because it will empower the women and children, who spend the most time at home, to extend their working hours beyond daylight. Women who are striving to support their families through economic projects, including artisan crafts, will now have light to do their work by!


This amazes me. I honestly can say that I take light for granted, and when I think about not having light to make my ecocessories jewelry by, it is pretty unimaginable. However, this is the daily struggle of very many women! These flashlights will be durable, and easy to use. They will provide 360 degree light to fill a room, and will be a sustainable and healthy alternative. Currently kerosene lanterns and fires are used for lighting which both produce harmful air pollutants and cause injuries. In fact, 2.5 million people are burned every year in India from overturned lamps. Also, the World Bank estimates that 780 million women and children breathe in kerosene lantern fumes with the harmful equivalent to 2 pack of cigarettes a day!

All of this is staggering, and I am just happy to be getting involved in something that I can relate so easily to. I love running a creative business, and the tools that I use to operate are so valuable to me, but honestly none of it would matter without having the light to work by!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Hand Formed Earring Wires

I've been practicing making all my own findings for my jewelry now! Everything that I sell from now on will be made using hand formed earring wires, jump rings, and clasps. Once I start selling again that is - if you've noticed, I am kind of on hiatus until my belated site gets launched. We are still working through details, details, DETAILS!! At least it will be perfect when it does launch, so I hope you are being patient with me!

Anyway, forming my own findings just makes the jewelry I sell that much better. It is higher quality because these findings have been meticulously formed, filed to precision, and in some cases soldered for maximum strength. They make each piece of ecocessories jewelry that much more unique, handmade and one of a kind!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fairness For All

This issue of fairness, in regards to design, came up recently in my office lunchroom, when a group of us were admiring some handmade knits, made by a local Vancouver designer, in a magazine. We all drooled over the chunky brown shawl, and coveted it for our own, but when the $160 price tag was mentioned, it was quickly deemed ‘ridiculous!’ to be asked, as the consumer, to pay so much. At first I was nodding my head in agreement – I mean I can knit too, right? How dare she deem her knitting more valuable than mine? Until I realized, this designer is right.

Why shouldn’t she be asking for so much? Sure, wool isn’t that expensive, but there is her time to consider, overhead business costs, not to mention that the design is her art. Now how can you place a value on the passion, devotion and creativity that went into designing each handmade item? From afar that scarf may look like the one you saw at the mall last week, but trust me – it’s not. And as a jewelry designer myself, I felt ashamed for having discounted the value of this designer’s work. When I put myself in her shoes, I realize that is exactly how much she should ask for. Why? Because it’s fair.

Now trust me – I love a bargain. And I am definitely not advocating price gouging my customers! I just think that with all things considered in these poor economic conditions, we need to put our dollars in the right places. Victoria business owner, Trish Tacoma - owner of Smoking Lily - says it right: “It’s training your customers to understand that no, you’re not gonna get that $10 T-shirt because there’s no possible way that you can produce that $10 T-shirt ethically. It’s just not gonna happen. It’s training people to see that the sewers and printers are worth paying a decent wage too,” she says. “But I think people appreciate that the person buying the same groceries at the grocery store has made the dress they’re wearing. I think people really like that . . . buying local keeps the local economy going and keeps the money in the community.”

Life is about choices, and that includes the choices we make as consumers. I think it is so important to be armed with information about your buying choices, because there isn’t a single product or service out there without someone’s livelihood being on the line behind it. A conscious consumer should be aware of the difference between a bargain, and a steal.

Buying handmade is like buying a piece of art. You can guarantee that the designer has put a lot of thought, care, and attention into every single detail. The product has been produced under favourable and fair working conditions and quality is guaranteed. Most designers, including myself, have a lot of pride for their work and are happy to do repairs at any point in the item's life.

Luckily, resources like Ethical Consumer (an online directory of ethical Canadian businesses) make it easy to stay connected and informed about businesses in your community that do make a difference. This holiday season, more than other years, will be about making every dollar count in the most meaningful way. Buying handmade, while supporting fair trade business is the reason this season.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pretty, yet Practical!

I spent the weekend creating a project that I've had in my head for awhile. Using a 2'x4' sheet of pegboard, I fancied myself a bulletin board/tool organizer that is both functional and adorable!

I started by heading out to Home Depot and getting my materials. Now I must be completely honest and tell you that I was ashamed of myself, as most of these things would have been available at my local recycling center. I urge you to go this route if you are inspired to make your own board, as it would be a lot cheaper and more eco-friendly! Since I am now a pedestrian in this world, my choices were limited to what was available along the Translink bus route!

Materials:
1 sheet pegboard
1.5m of fabric
Cotton batting (sold in rolls at any fabric store)
Framing (I used uncut trim)
Package of various pegs
Pushpins

Tools:
Staple Gun
Saw
Sandpaper
Ruler
Protractor
Anchors
Electric Screwdriver

1. I layout my batting and fabric on the top 1/2 of the board. I flip the board over, staple first the batting, and then the fabric and I trim it all once it is stapled. Now really, it did not happen this simply, so to save you my mistakes - staple before trimming, and don't underestimate the length of staple that you need. I didn't take into account the wad of fabric/batting before the staple sinks into the board and cheaped out on the small staples! Staple the batting first, doing each side, the top, and finally the middle, pulling it taut each time before stapling. When you do the fabric on the front, pull it over the batting, even though you will cover the whole middle seam with a length of trim.

2. I cut 5 pieces of trim. 4 to frame the entire board, and one to cover the seam between the bulletin and tool boards. The frame pieces are measured to the length of the board and (after cutting) I used my protractor to measure and cut 45 degree angles at the corners. Okay, actually I realized I'm not smarter than a 5th Grader, and asked my lovely fiancé how does one make angles again? Being so resourceful, he printed a protractor off the Internet for me (?!!) and did the measuring for me!

3. I hammered the frame to the board. Here, I got a bit hasty and the nails were longer than expected. They went through the frame, through the board and halted abruptly at the tile floors. I would highly recommend accurately estimating the length of your nails, or maybe drilling small nuts attached with a bolt?

4. I lay out four spots on the wall where my board will be secured, which line up evenly and exactly to holes in the pegboard. Anchors are drilled into the wall and the board is screwed into the anchors, seamlessly and pleasantly. After we spent a frustrating hour attempting to attach wood beams to the wall, to which we would secure the board, only to learn we purchased faulty screws/anchors. But all was well in the end attaching directly to the wall, and as any home do-it-yourselfer can tell you, these hiccups are just the joy of D.I.Y!!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Make a Necklace Organizer from a Cutlery Tray

I am always keeping an eye out for fun and creative DIY projects around the house! Sure it takes a bit more time and some creativity, but when people ask where you got that super cool (fill in the blank as it could be anything!) - you can say, "oh this, you ask? I made it!". Trust me, it is a much better conversation starter than, "I got it at Ikea."

I get my ideas from checking out what other creative bloggers are doing, or reading magazines such as Craft or Do It Yourself magazine. Even better is that these projects usually start by recycling something! In this case, I found a project for turning a wooden cutlery tray in a necklace organizer - perfect for storing your ecocessories jewelry!

See the instructions here at Laughing Daisies.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

An Eco Halloween

Halloween is fast approaching and I got into the spooky spirit last night with my fiancé by carving a pumpkin! All those pumpkin guts got me thinking about the spirit of Halloween, and if there is anything we can do as participants to make the fun a bit more environmentally friendly.

Sure enough, I found this wicked video from Threadbanger that teaches you how to make your own eco-friendly Halloween make-up! If you aren't into that, it also suggests some great places to buy organic make-up. Because let's face it - our skin absorbs 60% of the ingredients put on it into the bloodstream in 15 minutes... AND commercial make-up contains over 1500 carcinogenic ingredients!! How's that for scary...



P.S. I got to review my new website live on the internet this week! It TOTALLY rocks, and I am SO excited to launch it. But it still needs some tweaking, so I am hoping possibly by November 1st? I'll be sending out an e-newsletter as soon as the launch date is finalized, so be sure to join!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ethical Consumer

I have been listed with an organization called the Ethical Consumer. The team is putting together a directory of green businesses across Canada, to allow consumers to search within their area for companies that practice sustainable business in their products and/or services!

Check out ecocessories' listing and see what else is listed in your hometown. This is a great resource to find green businesses to support as you start your holiday shopping!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

What's trendy for Fall 2008

I've been studying what's hot for Fall 2008 lately, and finally had a very satisfying shopping trip yesterday to update my fall wardrobe! I also was feeling like a bit of a frump, because I was wearing this great ecocessories jewelery and I just didn't think my fashion lived up to my various pieces!

So what's in this fall? Well jewel tones are the must colours for Fall fashion 2008, adding warmth and a splash of colour to all those greys and blacks from last season. My favourites are peacock blue, plum purple, emerald green and red currant. These colours are best worn in an accessory item, paired with neutral colours, to give a classic, but fashionable look. In a few weeks, when my new website is launched, my fall line, made from recycled jewelry, will be inspired by these colours!

For accessories, the statement necklace is in fashion for Fall 2008. Check out this article from About.com that discusses the trend and when you feel inspired, come back here to find that perfect statement necklace for your Fall 2008 wardrobe!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A few weeks until the new website!

I am getting low on my inventory right now, and if you are here looking for new stuff - it is coming soon! I am currently working on some really special pieces that will be posted for the grand opening of my website in a few weeks.

Until then, I may post a few more necklaces here and there made from 100% recycled parts, so keep an eye! I am also doing lots of custom work. I am given jewelry from others that has very special components, but just isn't exactly the right style.

Charging a $20/hour design fee, I am able to remake these special pieces of jewelry into something that is perfect for the original owner. If I use many additional materials, costs may apply, but they will be included in the original quote for the work. Email me at jessica@ecocessories.ca if you are interested!

AccessoryTimeDesign Fee
Necklaces1.5 - 2 hours
$30 - $40*
Bracelets
1 - 1.5 hours
$20 - $30*
Earrings
0.5 - 1 hour
$10 - $20*

*plus applicable material cost, as determined before work begins

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Rainy Day Work in Progress

Today it was raining, and I can't say I minded too much staying inside... my creative juices have been flowing and I am on a creating frenzy. Some of the work I am doing is custom work that has been building up, and some of it is just from out of the blue!

Today I have been concentrating on making pieces that are most, if not all, recycled parts, including the chain and the clasp. I have some really vintage jewelry parts that people have recycled so it is easy to be inspired! I need a few materials to wrap these projects up, which I am going out to purchase tomorrow. Check out the work in progress, and be sure to check back in a few days for the finished recycled jewelry that will be for sale!

turquise_treasure132teresa's_roses_close132royal_elephant132
make_an_impact132antiquewoman_ofthesea132white_elegance132

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Being a "Green Business"

My dear friend Krisy, organizer of Montreal Shift, and I were talking today about what it means to be a "green business". The way I interpret it is an organization that commits to making their best efforts toward reducing their environmental footprint in every aspect of operations. ecocessories tries to do this by using recycled parts in all its products, buying used office furniture, using paper with recycled content, and, in the future, contributing to charitable organizations with a portion of its profits.

Mission Statement

"ecocessories is committed to reducing waste in the world, and creating a more sustainable lifestyle by reusing existing resources. Hand-crafted jewelry and accessories are created using recycled parts and fair trade materials. ecocessories participates in an overall mission to create a more harmonious planet by slowing down the consumption of the planet's resources and supporting fair trade business."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Favourite Finds

Check out some "favourite finds" from my donations! Each of these items is available to incorporate into a custom piece of jewelry for you! My custom work is $20 an hour (necklaces - 1.5hrs, bracelets - 1hr, earrings - 0.5/hr), plus material costs which are labeled on these fabulous finds. Click on each item for a closer view. Email me at jessica@ecocessories.ca to arrange your custom order!

Don't forget - until Sept. 30th take advantage of FREE shipping in Canada and Buy 1, Get 1 50% Off!

ff-antique_plaster_earrings_75ff-antique_silver_elephant_75ff-apple_of_temptation_75ff-black_indian_perfumevial_75
ff-blue_curtain_pull_75ff-butterfly_brooch_75ff-coin_earring_75ff-gold_wateringcan_75
ff-goldsword_brooch_75ff-green_ballet_slippers_75ff-green_indian_pillbox2_75ff-orange_metal_blossoms_75
ff-red_indian_perfumevial_100ff-screwon_pearlearrings_75ff-strawberry_earrings_75ff-woman_in_mirror_75