Wednesday, June 26, 2013

440 Brannan...

...Is a beautiful clothing design studio tucked in a unique location in the SOMA district of San Francisco. I first heard about the place when I was working at my old corporate job - from a colleague whom always wore smart and beautiful clothing. As I am slowly rebuilding my list of boutiques to sell my jewelry out of, I am super excited to have Hsu-Lee Designs jewelry featured at 440 Brannan.

They are doing a "Meet the Designer" event tonight and I will be there. For those in the San Francisco area, DO check out the gallery. Surprisingly (or maybe not..), there are many awesome pieces for men. And yes, you can find something other than skinny jeans there!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Not in San Francisco. I'm gazing out at a January sky right now. With a matching cold.

But all is well when a grandma gets to pick her apricots.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The San Francisco Affair.

I have a complicated relationship with San Francisco. I grew up in the bay area - primarily Palo Alto and San Mateo. It wasn't even until 2006-2007 that I decided that I really loved "the city" and wanted to live in it. I wish I had more photos of my first city-apartment. That was after the first bubble burst and  before this current stage of housing-madness. It was great - in the middle of my favorite 'hood and although parking was usually a nightmare - it was a such a cool, little place.

Then I moved in with the boy - into his tiny, 1-bedroom and then finally, in 2010, to our current FABULOUS rental. It was a lot of movement in a short period of time but now, I feel like I've been in SF for the longest time. When the parking/congestion/general rudeness of people/filth get me down: I hate living here. When the weather is amazing/fabulous meal/farmer's market/art scene buoys me: I love this city. Maybe it's my temperamental artist's temperament, but my feelings for this place vacillates through-out the day.

However, I will never regret having this amazing opportunity to live here. I am super grateful for all the things I've learned here.

Here, is where it all begins.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Grandma's Stamp of Approval

I was raised by my paternal grandmother - an amazing woman who is a dizzying mix of traditional and non-traditional values. One of the many things she's instilled in me is a deep sense of responsibility and reliability.

So how did that girl, who got a degree in Biotechnology in three years and worked for a large pharmaceutical company for 10 years end up being a jewelry artist?

And just as important - how did GRAMS respond to this big change in career and fortune?

I have to admit something. I was a coward in the beginning. I told all my friends and of course, co-workers when I gave my notice. But I couldn't find the words to tell my Grams, much less the rest of the family. For 8 MONTHS. I'm not terribly close with the rest of the family, but I adore my Grams and abhor the thought of her being upset with anything I did. Eventually, I found out that the job I had quit was gotten rid of. But still, 8 MONTHS.

Eventually Grams and the rest of the family knew. And even though I received a damp-ering response from my Grams at the beginning, things started sorting out. Life started sorting out.

And just a few weeks ago, who showed up to see my jewelry table at the EVE! show? Grams. My darling, 85-year-old grandmother. And she liked what I was doing, my creations and goals. Of course, her old-world mentality still issues a lot of dire-warnings about my career, I think she understands. She even likes to critique my work and provide me with suggestions and ideas. (Of course, where do you think some of my artistic talent comes from???).

She even loved this piece from my M.I.S. collaboration line.

Huge *sigh* of happiness.

M.I.S Deer Pendant - painstakingly sawed out shapes
Bails are soldered on and the pieces are being pickled
A stack of finished pendants.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Post EVE!

The past weekend I was participating in the EVE! Spring Fashion event at New Coast Studios in Palo Alto, CA. The first thing everyone wanted to know post-event, is how "successful" it was.

In terms of sales, it was not so great... But it ended up being a very fun and positive experience. I met some amazing women artists - the type of people that share a love of hand-made and the bravery to take the leap into the world of art. The relationships gained are priceless, seriously! And who doesn't love a work event that involves some seriously good shopping???

I have to say too, that I am not a fan of doing shows. I really admire people who have the patience to cart their stuff all over the place, set up and man their booth with the endurance of a marathon runner!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Another Ring for a Boy

These were actually made before the one pictured in my previous post. This octagon ring is simple, could-be-classic and wonderfully unisex. For my hubby, I made a "think" one of about 4mm wide and 3mm thick. I'm planning on doing a bunch in super thin gauges so that they will stack beautifully. And of course, some gold-plated ones, oxidized ones, brass, etc., etc. The ideas are flowing and endless!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Because Real Men Wear Jewelry Too!

My hubby has in the past year or so started to wear jewelry - other than his wedding ring. He sticks with rings, mostly; interesting, cool and unique sterling silver pieces. We've collected a sweet, little assortment of interesting rings - from our travels all over. A couple from Germany, NYC, China, SF, Provincetown, etc. When people meet us and ask what we do and discover that I make jewelry, they always do the "look" to see what wares I'm displaying. They'll also check our my hubby's ring-of-the-day

And sadly, until now, I've always had to say that the rings he's got aren't mine.

Men like jewelry, too. I made this ring this past weekend - you know, when you have things you are supposed to do but would rather play. But, it turned out great! I love it! And better yet, hubby loves it!

Argentium sterling silver - hammered and annealed, several times over. I fused the ends overlapping a bit - for something different. I left most of the oxidation on - it seems to accent the texture of the ring better. The band is about 3/4" wide - which is pretty wide. But the entire piece is still light-weight and comfortable to wear.

Friday, March 8, 2013

The New Kids on the Block..

Some new items posted to my Etsy shop. Come check it out! Treat yourself to a little, Friday jewel.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

That's Right, It's Awesome!

Do many of you face self-doubt? I feel pretty certain that it is more common than is acknowledged. I am sure that it happens with artists, scientists, engineers, politicians (maybe not so much...), etc.

I have weird moments of self-doubt that can be about anything from my designs, to the making of my pieces, to how I write my blog. There have been some good discussions with my hubby though - and we both agree; self-doubt is NOT a good use of time + energy. As I am gearing up to participate in the EVE! event, I am reminding myself, yes, my work is awesome. I love it. And I am searching for other who will love it as well. And not everyone will - and that's okay. Because hey, it's all this diversity in life that makes it so exciting, don't you think?

All my pieces are inventoried and tagged - over 170 items, ready to find a happy home. Not it's time to pull together my table display and some confidence, to boot. That's right - my jewelry is awesome!

Monday, March 4, 2013

EVE! Spring Fashion Event 2013

A few weeks ago, I got an email inviting me to participate in a local fashion event. Yay! And here it is:

Hope to see you all there...


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

All That Glitters...

There really is so much that other cultures can offer us in regard to jewelry + history. Everything we know now and enjoy about jewelry all had its roots in the past. While gold isn't generally a metal that I have an affinity to, I appreciate its history and place in so many cultures around the world.

This place seems amazing - I think I would very much love to see this some day... The Dubai gold souk - amazing! Beautiful! 
Roland Wich

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Over the Hundred Mark and Now What?

One of my goals for my Etsy shop was to reach at least 100 listings (don't ask me why - it's kind of arbitrary, isn't it?). I have over 100 listings - now people, please, shop!

I've also decided to be brave and just go with the (my) flow. Listen to my creativity instead of trying to control it.

On a random note: how many of you love the smell of a Sharpie? I do. I can never have enough of these pens lying around the studio. My favorite color is blue. What's yours?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Happiness is...

... when you get a shipment of goodies in the mail and you're ready to play!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Happy 2013...

Is it really already February 8th? I am still coming to terms with it being 2013...

What's been happening... Sadly, two more of my retail stores are closing. Absurdly high rent increases in a couple of locations in San Francisco is forcing out small businesses. On the other hand, I have been working on doing more business on my Etsy site. I'm also doing a collaboration with a good friend and an artist. I was approached by a local gallery last week and this week, got an invite to participate in a fashion trunk show event! Yay! 2013 is going to be THE year! Yes!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

This Shouldn't Have Happened

But it did. And we now have an obligation - to challenge the current thinking in this country, that aids and abets these shootings to occur.

And we also have a duty to keep our calm faces on.  Personally, I want to cry and scream and rage.  I have cried, but other than that, I need to remember that this tragedy isn't about me.  It's about those children and the women who died trying to protect them.  It's about community and this amazing country and the children and people who make it good.  So, I am going to channel my anger and sadness into whatever good I can.  Because that is the right way to remember and honor those who lives were taken.

Jason DeCrow/AP Photo

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

From the Vault...

Recently, as part of my push to build my Etsy site and following, I've decided to decorate my shop with some items from "the vault." Over the years of collecting and playing with pretty stones and beads and silver, I've created a big box of one-of-a-kind pieces that I am now selling on my Etsy site! I love these items and I am sure they will love finding a new home with you! How are you doing with your holiday shopping? Stop by my shop to take a look at these very personal and unique items!

Monday, December 10, 2012

My Own Portlandia...

I've never watched the show Portlandia, but I did get to experience my own wonderful version of this fabulous city.  Hubby needed just a few more miles to maintain some version of "status" with United for 2013 so we found so great flight and hotel rates for this past weekend and jetted off last Thursday and returned last night.  It was an epic, good time!

After getting in late Thursday night, we headed over to the Teardrop Cocktail Lounge for a couple of fantastic and delish cocktails over a shared charcuterie plate and a split veggie wrap.

On Friday morning, we proceeded to break-fast at Mother's.  DO go there.  DO get their french-press coffee (featuring Stumptown, which sadly, we did not go visit..).  DO get their biscuits and sausage gravy.  If you like that sort of savory, heavenly, delectable, buttery goodness.

After a random stop and credit charge at The Fossil Cartel, we got out of dodge and drove out to the Willamette Valley for some wine tasting.  At the recommendation of a friend's husband, our first stop was The Carlton Winemaker's Studio where we got to experience some top-notch Oregon pinot noir as this brilliant collective of brilliant winemakers.  Right next door, we checked out Cana's Feast where they poured some equally fabulous non-pinot wines.  Wes at Cana's Feast gave us to amazing recommendations - Seven of Hearts for more amazing pinot noir and Recipe for a top-ten (and that's a big deal) memorably delicious dinner.  And here's a tip from wine tasting that day from me: Honest Chocolates run by the talented chocolatier wife of the man behind Seven of Hearts.  The amount of talent here is absurd.

So after an epic day of wine-tasting, we drove back to the city and met a friend for some drinks at Kask back in downtown Portland.  Then it was bedtime.  Saturday morning, repeat: brekkie at Mother's (we couldn't help it - the place is SO, SO good and in walking distance).  Then randomly - Nordstrom to get me a warm, puffy coat.  After I was warm we proceeded to Boedecker Cellars to get toasty.  Then we moved onto a cool neighborhood across the river from downtown Portland to meet the man who introduced us to good places (which begat other good places) that we visited.

Bruce owns Vino Buys in Portland.  He does tastings at the store every Friday and Saturday and his great, little shop is filled with amazing wine finds.  He knows his stuff from around the world, so if you want a little respite from all that amazing Oregon pinot, he'll steer you in the right direction.

While driving around the neighborhood, we just happened, so luckily and fortuitously, to see a sign for a Trixie Whitley performance at the Doug Fir Lounge.  Seriously???  We wanted to see her solo show in San Francisco, but sadly it had conflicted with another music performance we'd already bought tickets for.  Hubby whipped out his phone, bought us two tickets online and we were set!  Holy cow - this trip just gets better and better!

We went to Tabla Bistro - amazing, amazing, amazing!  Moved our car after dinner near the show venue and then walked over to the Rum Club for a couple of more amazing drinks.  Got back to the Doug Fir at 10pm for Trixie Whitley.  Had a spiritual-music experience.  Drove back to downtown and finished the night with a burger and barrel-aged negroni at Clyde Common.

Sunday morning, sadly, was the final day of our whirlwind Portland trip.  We drove back out the the Burnside neighborhood area and waited for nearly TWO hours to get brunch at Screen Door.  We never do that.  On principle, we never do that.  However, I have to admit - it was kind of worth it.  Amazing biscuits and gravy and even more amazing fried chicken and waffles.  GIANT portions (we had enough chicken leftover for dinner-for-two back in SF that night).

Food, drinks, drinks, food, shopping, drinks, food, drinks.  Portland has it all!

The end.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Monday's Meow-Mix: After the Rain...

...all it makes me want to do is to take a nap!

But I'm super grateful for this little reprieve from the rain.  Time to get busy!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Rain, Rain and More Rain..

photo by Carlos Avila Gonzales

The San Francisco bay area has been getting a good dose of rain this past week.  It's both a good and a bad thing.  For starters, people in the bay are are not very good drivers.  And in poor weather, it sure does get crazy out there.  Shall I just say that there is never a reasonable reason to go barreling down a residential street that's slick with rain and oil under conditions including poor visibility and high wind?  Duh!

The good thing about the rain is that the state could always use the water.  So...  we're getting our reservoirs topped off a bit.  And that's good for plants and maybe even the little birds in the air that want to quench their thirst.

Either way, my head is in a cloud of SEO's and Etsy and keywords and social media, etc., etc.  Does anyone else find this all kind of hard and super tedious?  All I want to do is play with some fire and metal in the studio.  But since I want to be grown-up and make my business go somewhere, I need to get serious with all this stuff.  But have the time I'm just wondering if I'm doing things the right way, making the right calls, using the right words, at the right time, in the right place...  Ugh.

Ok.  That's all the whining I will do (for now).  If I can manage to pass a year of organic chemistry, I can figure this stuff out!


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Here's a Shout-Out...

I got listed on ABI's (Arts Business Institute's) 2nd Annual Great Handmade Holiday Gift Guide - $100 and Up!  It's rather a first for me - where I sent an "application" for something and got in.  Not that they made it hard to do.  But it was pretty sweet to have emailed a photo of something I made to an organization with people I do not know at all and have them like it enough to post it on their list!  Yay.

Here's the piece in the spotlight: The Big Bang Pendant

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Studio Time... happening despite a multitude of distractions!  Had a killer work-out with my trainer this morning, laundry (starting to sound like G-T-L and I DID get a tan last week...) and setting up some stuff for little trick-or-treaters tonight.  I don't know why, but I love Halloween.  I think I just like seeing the little kiddies dressed up and so cute and happy before they crash and burn from their sugar-highs.  Annoying, it's been rainy out today.  I hope it holds off until tomorrow.  I haven't dressed up since I was around 10 years old.  But I am wearing cat ears today.  All day.  While I'm working in my studio.  Weird?  Yes.  But that's OK.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Back From Paradise...

... and not exactly loving it.

The hubby and I had a wonderful, warm, sunny and relaxing week in Maui.  This was our "last" trip of the year.  We plan on staying close to the ground.

During the trip to Maui (my first time) - I had several moments of island frenzy.  A part of me wanted to pick up everything and move there.  Maybe I could round up a few friends that I actually really, really like and convince them to go in on buying a parcel of land.  We would build our own separate living spaces, have a community garden and some goats and bees and I will open a little shop somewhere on the island and sell my jewelry.....

Okay.  That's quite a day-dream I've got there.  Perhaps I won't move to the islands - there is a risk of island fever there...  But I am sure ready to plan another trip back there.  Even the coffee read it in our future:

We stayed in a small town called Haiku that was a few miles up the mountain from another small town called Paia.  Paia was a great place for shopping and there is a fabulous little jewelry store/studio called Studio 22K.  Beautiful work and space.  Definitely worth checking out.  I also really loved the laid-back vibe there.  And, some of you may be surprised at this - but the food there was SO FRIGGIN' GOOD.  The handful of restaurants there (we only ate at three of them) all used locally sourced produce, meat and dairy products.  There was a great grocery store that was akin to the infamous Rainbow Grocery in SF and of course, more great, little shops.  I'm gushing about it because I really had a lovely time and am ready to move there return for a visit soon!

Now, it's back to work on the mainland!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Monday's Meow-Mix

Happy Monday (evening)!  I loved today's weather.  It's a beautiful, fall day in San Francisco.  The air is crispy and so is the ground when your feet crunch over fallen leaves.  New England may of course, scoff at California's version of fall colors, but it's still lovely here.

Had a lovely weekend and have been eager to get started on making pretty, new things this week.  11 more days left before hubby and I take off for a long-anticipated week in Maui!  So, I am bent on getting lots of stuff into my stores before we leave.

And, that's it for now!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

An Apple a Day....

We've all heard the old adage of an apple a day.  And that's all good and stuff.  But creating something everyday, is so much better!  I have set the soft goal of creating one new thing, everyday.  It could be a pair of super-simple earrings, or something with those beautiful carved jade pendants that I got in China.  The goal is to keep the creative juices flowing AND create some discipline - in the funnest way I know how.  I've been uploading photos onto my Hsu-Lee Designs Facebook page onto an album titled one-a-day.  I may do just one batch a week on this blog.  Let's see how this evolves, shall we?