Monday, September 26, 2011

20 years in the making

I hope you will find encouragement in your life after reading this.

Yoshitomo Nara, Fountain of Life
Sometimes things are tough and you don't see an end to it. Sometimes our plans go astray and we don't know what went wrong. Sometimes it just seems that the world is not fair to you. But one day you look back and you will realize they probably all happen for a reason. The road is tough but it gets you there.

It has been an eye opening year for me. Somehow it brings me closer to my self. The self I thought I have lost many many years ago.

When I first graduated from college I wanted to take a profession that would be on the creative side. I have always like to work with my hands but the young me lacked patience. At some point in my life back then, I decided that being creative and working craft was probably not right for me. Ironically, that is what I am doing now.

But back then, I did not know. And I took a detour to work in an office job in advertising. It was a tiring job with little appreciation. And after awhile, you realize that you don't really "produce" anything. Everything is everybody else's work and most of the time I was just managing expectations and maintaining a network of people. Just when I felt quite lost with my life, I met my husband on a project that required for me to work overseas in US/Canada temporarily. I decided to start a long distant relationship with him being in NY and me in HK, after spending only 2 weeks with him. After 2 years of being away from each other, I decided to move to NY and see if we could make our relationship work for us for good. And fortunately my ex-boss helped me land a job in NY.
My humble home in NY back in 2005. It was just a studio apartment but it was my first own home. 
Looking back, I would not have known my husband if I were not in advertising doing a job that I found out I did not like. My rabbits were moved to NY safely as well and at that point, I knew this will be home for me for a long long time.

But something was still lacking in my life. I still hated my job, if not more with this new company. But at this job, I found jewelry again.

My mom and I used to make our own jewelry and that was how I started working on jewelry back in HK. My boss, whom I cannot enjoy working with, has great taste in jewelry and she made some of her own beaded jewelry as well. After our office relocated to Madison Ave, I realized that I was just blocks away from the Fashion District and a station away from the Diamond District. The jewelry supplies stores were everywhere and I found a jewelry school that could teach me silversmithing during the weekends.

One day, my Japanese co-worker introduced me to a website where a famous amigurumi artist known in Japan was selling her patterns online. And that was Etsy.

I started my Etsy account in 2008, and a year later I started my first Etsy shop, Bunnies Can Dream.
My first postcard for the shop. The offer does not work now of course!

I got married and I finally decided to resign from the company last year. I took some time off and took on another full time class at the jewelry school. Then I started my second shop, Harlequin&Lionhead just for my silversmith work.

This year I joined a lot of Etsy community groups and started selling in craft markets. And through Etsy groups and selling in markets, I have met a few good friends. Some of them my emotional support, some of them taught me a lot of things that will be useful for years to come in my jewelry making life.

A couple months back, I was quite discouraged because the end of the year is approaching, and I am facing a decision if I should go back to full time work next year or not. This may be inevitable but I am unsure of the timing. Yet my jewelry business is too young to support me financially. I was forced to think that the end of the dream is coming.

I was struggling if I should get into the Union Sq holiday market. I thought if that worked out, I would not have to work in advertising again. But it was too much to invest and I decided to fold it. I have been kicking myself for not taking risk ever since. Then another opportunity came up in Brooklyn. It is a lot lower in price and could be a retail location for me for good. I felt like it is another opportunity and something seems to speak to me that I need to make something it happen for my business this year. But again, the numbers don't really work well for me. Just when I was about to give up again, I was introduced a friend and she brought me a chance to work with others and share the space. I felt like it seemed to be a message from high up that I must try harder and don't give up.

Later on this fell through (again!) I was upset but not as much as I would have been, if not for what happened just a few days before it.

As the single child in the family, growing up I was always alone. When I was bored, I played with everything in the house I could find. And I invented a way to work with my blue tac to create amazing pieces that looked like feather or leaves or just whirls of textures. I discovered recently that I could use Polymer Clay to do the same thing. And better still, the clay could be hardened and I could use it as a basis to build my jewelry models.
One of the first few pieces I created with polymer clay. The wax models using these polymer clay prototype will be then cast into metal and made into wearable jewelry. Read about it here.

When I discovered this new technique, I was so happy not only because I will be able to do something no one can, but because something I made when I was a kid, can now be applied to my business. It feels like there is a circle which I started from a point in my life 20 years ago, and is now completed 20 years later. As if it was meant to be.

One of the new friends I met at Etsy groups and at market introduced me to these amazing mold makers who are now helping me turn my polymer clay molds into real jewelry molds.

And that realization came just a couple days before I received the news that I could not share the retail location in Brooklyn with this group of people I was introduced to. Instead of destroying me, I decided that I will just have to make it happen no matter what. So I applied for weekend market booths at the same location and was accepted. If I cannot sell it there as a lease tenant, I am going to be there just as well!
Dekalb Market will be my new corner this holiday season.

My husband calls this series of events "coincidences." I don't mind that but just to think that if any of the steps along the way went astray, I may not be here writing this.

Say...if I didn't enter in advertising, I would not have known him. If I pissed off my ex-boss, I would not have found a job in NY and our relationship would have ended 6 years ago. If our company had not moved, I would not have discovered these supplies store and applied for the jewelry school. If I had not known Etsy, I would not have started my own shop. If I had not found my friends on Etsy, I would not have started selling in markets. If I had not been bored at home back then when I was a kid, I would not have been able to design my new line of jewelry today. And if I had not moved to NY, I would not have started my jewelry at all. There are so many of "What Ifs" that could have gone wrong. But they did not.

I thought I made sacrifices in my life to be with a man I love. But I gain not only him, I found a passion I have lost.  And that is why I am here. And I think it could not have been clearer that no matter what I do next year, I will never give up jewelry making.

My first fabric print design. Read it here.

Sometimes a person can only plan as much for one's life, because all we can see is the past and the present. And the future changes all the time. We get worried. We get disappointed. We complained and we doubt ourselves. But maybe all we need to know is that, everything happened for a reason. We just need to look and piece them together to see the path. And that will lead us where we should go forward to.

If you are religious, it could be God helping you. If you are not, it could be fate at work. If you don't believe in anything, then call it luck. But no matter what, don't worry too much and be grateful. It will all work out fine.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My interview on the 5 Boroughs Team

HansMyHedgehog is kind enough to have interviewed me earlier for the 5 Boroughs Team on Etsy and posted it on their blog. Here is the link to the interview. Hope you like it :)

5 Boroughs Team: Interview with Deb of Bunnies Can Dream and Harleq...: This week's featured member interview is with Debbie Liu, owner of two of the 5 Boroughs Team's jewelry shops. Deb comes to NYC via the lov...

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Treasury Update - Aug/Sept

The time of the month to post some treasuries featuring my jewelry along with some amazing pieces from my fellow Etsians. Enjoy the eye candy!

This is created by BrooklynBags

This is created by Raganella

This is created by Astorknot
featuring my Little Peaches 2-in-1 necklace/bracetlet

This is created by HansMyHedgehog
featuring my Shadow of a Tree necklace

This is created by DahliaSoleil

This is created by Jordandene

This is created by HansMyHedgehog

This is created by Jennleajoelle

This is created by Newyorkclocks
featuring my Apple Blossoms II coral earrings

This is created by Sonnedoree

This is created by Candywren

This is created by Imaginepossibilities
featuring my Grapes earrings

Come back next month to check out more interesting treasuries!

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Monday, September 19, 2011

Polymer Clay experiment

If you have read my earlier post about my new polymer clay project, you will know that I started working on this interesting material to create a new line for the shop featuring feather looking pendants. Well, I have decided not only it will be feathers, it will be flowers too.

Last time I worked with Sculpey III, which apparently is not the best medium for me to work with this specific technique. In addition to the green color, the whole thing looked a little like grass. So this time, I have switched to Fimo Soft and I went with white. I was able to create more delicate looking feathers despite the thickness of each piece actually went up in double, and they attach to each other a little better as well. The white color with gloss varnishing makes the piece looks like porcelain.

So I used my old pieces to test coloring options. I can always mix clays to create the right color or even swirls of colors. But I though I'll see how the technique of applying gold foil and paint looks like.

The above shown are all made of the green Sculpey III clay, starting from R to L, original, gold foil and gold paint. None of them really worked. I also tried using sponge to apply the gold color and it just looks a little too "painted" like. I think the best way is probably to use colored clay, or to mix color paint in a white or light color clay.

After the white line I'll try the black color clay - it's X'mas after all, Angles won't mind white or black.  Maybe come spring, I can introduce a pastel color line of flowers. We'll see.

To look at more of the white clay experiment and different shapes to come in the shop, click HERE to my other blog. The white clay versions will be at my Bunnies Can Dream shop, and the metal versions in ring form will be at Harlequin&Lionhead shop.

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Lazy Rice Cake - Poisonous Food Journal #3

Ok, this entry is a little complicated. The ingredient I am working with this time is Japanese Rice Cake.

It is very much like mochi in texture after it is cooked. And there are many ways to eat it. What you see above, is the more popular way I would say...You put the cooked rice cake in soy bean powder, which is not seasoned but smells great with a soy bean aroma. And you drizzle black sugar syrup over it to eat it sweet. You can buy all these ingredients in a Japanese supermarket, or if you are in Taiwan, normal supermarket.

Japanese prepares the rice cake in an interesting way during festive seasons - pan fry. The cake starts off hard like a plastic. And once it is heated, it softens to mochi texture. When pan fry, it crisps up on the outside, and expands like a balloon during heating, and collapses after removal from heat. And it tastes fluffy and crispy at the same time.

My way and most lazy people's way, is to just boil them in hot water. Or even better, to microwave it for no more than 1 minute and it is served.

So why is it complicated for this entry?

First, to qualify into the Poisonous Food Journal, it has to be strange. This is not strange.
Second, it has to be cooked in a lazy way and the microwave treatment is not especially lazy for this particular type of food.

So my Japanese friend introduced me to a unique way of eating the rice cake. Salty.

Apparently, you can wrap the rice cake in Kraft Singles and seaweed, eat it warm and gooey with melting cheese. It is kinda like a sushi for lazy and strange people...Ok, she protests.  But let me just say, if that is not strange enough, I don't know what is.

Well, I thought I'll introduce you a Chinese way of eating a salty rice cake to complete this journal entry. You can replace the Kraft cheese with Taiwanese dried shredded pork (the kind that you usually eat with congee or bread in Taiwan). It absorbs the moisture from the microwaved rice cake, so when you wrap it with seaweed, the exterior remains crunchy and your fingers clean and dry.

I know, another dish worth dying for. 1 min (rice cake cooking time) + 1 min (wrapping time) + 10 mins (eating time) = about 3 hours of satisfaction. Great bargain.

As usual, eat at your own risk!

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Friday, September 9, 2011

New Experiment - Polymer Clay

Very unlike me, I'm uploading a B/W picture because the polymer clay I have at home is only green. And the color distorted the shape into a totally different view. Here in grey you can see what I want to achieve. I want to create a feather cluster piece with a heavy texture that is not feather-light.

Earlier in Manhattan at the Met museum, there was an Alexander McQueen show which you are probably aware of. His show is called Savage Beauty and you can get the collection of pieces shown in a book with the same title. One of the show pieces is called the Horn of Plenty, which is made of black duck feather.

I was very inspired at the show and I have been thinking of ways to execute a ring in metal that would look like feathers forming a shape, without being the traditional wing-shaped rings that you can easily find in the market, looking like a biker ring. Not that I have any issue with biker rings. I love them but it is just not the right type of rings for Harlequin&Lionhead, nor Bunnies Can Dream.

As I am venturing with sheet wax trying to recreate the look in metal for Harlequin&Lionhead, I discovered a different way of doing it for Bunnies Can Dream. And that's why I have made the strange feather looking piece at the top. It's is bits of polymer clay pieced together and because of the material, is obviously quite fragile and won't be fit to wear as a ring. I don't believe in jewelry that you cannot wear everyday. Unless, it is just an art piece for runway show.

So I think I may make it into a necklace instead so it will not easily bump into things and get damaged. I am imagining a white and a black version. What do you think?

And if this first attempt turns out great, I may just do a series featuring more Mcqueen inspired items. Like a piece that celebrate this dress, Voss. It is made of razor-clam shells.

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UPDATE - Comforting strange tofu - Poisonous Food Journal Entry #2

So there you go folks. I just ate it in 2 seconds. This is delicious and after it's made, it does not look so poisonous isn't it?

OK, more to come on the Poisonous Food Journal. Stay tuned.

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Comforting strange tofu - Poisonous Food Journal Entry #2

I wanted to put up something quite scary for the 2nd entry but I feel like something comforting in this sudden chill and rainy day of NY.  So I'm posting my recent favorite - Instant tofu.

Soft tofu is so flexible. You can eat it directly from the box with syrup (or if you are lazy like me, just brown sugar). Or you can dump it into the pot with meat stew and chili pepper sauce to make Ma Po Tofu dish that is warm and savory.  But the challenge to extreme laziness is to make a salty warm tofu dish WITHOUT a stove, pan and meat.

Yes, make it like instant noodles! That's why you are reading this.

3 steps to ultimate laziness:
1. Open package and drain water out. (If you don't, this will really become poisonous) Then cut the tofu inside the box, then dump them into a bowl.
2. Add Japanese rice topping. (it has salty flavor in it and you can choose from a range from plum and seaweed, to fish and sesame. Get them at your local jap grocery stores) Add a little bit of water.
3. Microwave the whole thing for 2 mins on high, take it out, mix and eat.

All can be done in no more than 15 mins hohoho...

Good luck and remember, eat at your own risk!

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Never say enough to bibs!

Macrame Hoop Bib Necklace - Fall
Macrame Hoop Bib Necklace series just got 2 new additions. The above is a color combination made specifically for the coming fall. It is an umbrae of salmon, pumkin, mustard and shell, dressed in copper tone hardware. Not only is it durable (clon threads are water and tear proof), they goes with so many beautiful colors for this coming season.

The one below is called Sunshine. Obviously because of the sunny colors of teal, mandarin and gold. And slightly different from the other bib necklace, this one features wooden wedges adding a 3D spotlight to your neckline. Add a pop of colors in your darkening wardrobe of the fall/winter.
Macrame Hoop Bib Necklace - Sunshine

For more of my jewelry, visit my store Bunnies Can Dream at

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