make something new every day - a 30 day challenge

***updated daily***

Every day during June 2017, I'm challenging myself to make a new, one of a kind, piece of jewelry. I'm sharing my process on my instagram, but I also wanted to track how I was feeling during it all, so below is a quick recap of the day's work and my thoughts. All designs will be available in the shop after the challenge. Posts will be updated with the final product photo. 

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First, a little bit of backstory

At the beginning of the year, I planned out my first 6 months, and gave myself themes for each month. I decided June would be about "defying norms," and it was all about doing things differently. Thinking about my business in a different way, and seeing what happens. Then in April I decided to pivot and focus 100% on my jewelry, where before I was splitting my time between 2 digital goods (because it's hard to get off the passive income bandwagon).

I decided to double down again on jewelry. It's were my real passion is. It's the reason I quit making home decor. It's what I want to be known for. But in trying to meet some imaginary revenue number, I was focusing on the "easy" digital stuff (even though it's totally NOT easy). I ignored the fun creative stuff.

So, to get back to my roots in a big way, I decided to spend June focusing on making things. Making new things. Making a lot of new things.

Day 0

I'm lumping all my pre-making into a single day, but this is the stuff I worked on the weeks leading up to the challenge.

Usually when I'm working on jewelry, I sketch out a series of designs that are a family of sorts. The sketches come first, and they don't get their names until I'm done. The name usually comes to me sometime when I'm polishing them or photographing them. But it's usually pretty effortless. 

For the challenge I'm doing it backwards. My first step was to come up with a series of names or concepts, and that would guide my designs.

I did it this way for a few reasons: It let me think of all the names ahead of time and tailor my sketches to that word. Plus, I wanted an opportunity to engage with people. Doing it this way, allows someone to suggest a word, and if I like it, I can work it in. The opportunity for engagement is so important for me. I want to interact with my followers in a deep way, and show them how I work.

I brainstormed my concepts and tentatively scheduled them for the month.

Then I started sketching out ideas for the first 2 weeks or so, so I wouldn't have to worry about being "inspired" to work every day, and so I had a rough game-plan moving through the first few days of the challenge. 

Then I got to work!

Day 1: ALTER

The idea for the Alter necklace came from the meaning for the word "alter/altar". It started as a straight forward and literal depiction of a table or surface. It then morphed into a perspective on a table. It ended with an altered view on a cube, and became an experiment on depth and using my materials in new ways. 

Day 2: BEYOND

The Beyond necklace's inspiration was a shooting star, and all the things beyond this earth and beyond our knowledge. I got pretty abstract with it, and to me it's become a symbol of all the knowledge we seek. I also got to experiment with using my drill to make holes in the copper to string it on, rather than adding a wire loop that would muddy the straight forward design.

Day 3: CHANCE

Chance was pretty simple. The idea of a coin, and a 50/50 chance to make a change. It led to a simple circle, cut in half. I also used my drill to add holes in the copper, which makes this design super clean and a bit more sculptural. I can't wait to see how elegant this one turns out!

Day 4: DEFY

Defy actually took me a while to get my thoughts in order. My original sketch for defy was an X with some square wire in a simple round frame. I didn't love it, but it was abstract, and I'm big on abstract.

Outside of this challenge, I had an idea floating around for a "wire drawing" of a fist, set in a simple frame. It wasn't until I sat down to make this piece that I realized I really disliked the design I had for the X.

Defy is one of my words for 2017, it means a lot to me, and I didn't want it being a negative design. 

It took me a while to work through the geometry and get it translated into square wire, but I think the result is simple, elegant, and powerful. 

I'm going to keep this one for myself, so it won't be in the shop with the others, but I've already had a lot of interest in it, so after the challenge I'll probably sit down and make more.

Maybe I'll offer it all year. I'm not sure yet. But it could be interesting having a 2017 design that's available all year. 95% of my stuff is one of a kind, but having one design connect all of 2017 is pretty exciting. Stay tuned to find out what I do.

Day 5: EXPAND

Another one of my words for 2017. The concept behind the Expand necklace is to push your boundaries and expand your community. It's all about moving out of your comfort zone. I wanted to make this one a little more dramatic than usual, so I was playing around with sizes, and I think it came out perfectly! There is a lot of copper in this one, which helps make it extra flashy. It took a lot longer than usual to solder everything together. I think I was having problems with everything being flush, but it worked in the end. This one is similar to 2 and 3 in that there are holes in the copper for the leather string, making it a very clean final design.

DAy 6: forge

Ok, ok, the last 3 designs were inspired by my words for 2017. Forge is about transforming yourself, creating something different, and change. This shape was inspired by a set of twisted earrings I made myself earlier this year. For the necklace it became something simple and elegant, with extra textured copper that grabs the light. It's a long pedant, 3 inches total, and I'm so excited to see how it hangs on a long leather cord.  

day 7: grow

Originally inspired by a leaf, I took an abstract turn, as I usually do. Grow is about planting roots and reaching for more. It's about digging in, doing the work, and the slow burn. It might take you years to get there, but once you do, you'll stand for ages. 

I don't think I've ever gotten as close as I had to my original sketch. I surprised myself with this one. It's elegant and balanced. Another one I can't wait to finish. 

day 8: Home

Inspired by the front door on my childhood house: home is a feeling of familiarity and safety. Starting out with an abstraction, this pendant became an experiment in using copper in 3 dimensions and adding texture. 

day 9: idol

I had just done a twisted piece for day 6, but I was really interested in the hammered finish and wanted to play around with it more. This was a total experiment and ended up nothing like my sketches. Also, I had to actually do this on day 10. I went home for my dad's birthday and didn't make it back in time to get to the studio. 

day 10: journey

This is how I expected most of this challenge pieces to go: A simple frame shape with some wire decoration. I'm glad that didn't pan out because it would be so boring! Fitting that the Journey necklace is where I realize that my projected path for the challenge has changed. This whole year has been a Journey in finding paths that aren't right. It's exciting to just keep experimenting!

Day 11: Keep

I had no idea what was going to happen with this one. My original designs were all over the place and I couldn't decide what "keep" should stand for. I guess the wedding I was at this weekend was still in my mind, because the final design ended up being a pretty convincing cross/religious symbol, which was unintentional, but now I can't un-see it... I guess is stands for "keep loving".

day 12: link

I wanted to see if I could make a big dramatic chain. Turns out I can, but it's a pain in the ass. The proportions are not what I had in mind, but I don't hate it... I'm going to polish it some more and see if that helps. The chain just looks so busy, and I'd like to smooth out more of the tool marks on the links. I'm extremely happy that so many of these challenge designs are complete experiments! 

Day 13: Moment

This was an experiment to see if I could bend the copper tube I use before I hammered it flat, to get a flat shape. Turns out I can! But this is about as small as I can make it, in terms of circumference. I really liked the original sketch, and the final didn't turn out exactly how I pictured. My biggest "error" was that I textured the ring before I attached the frame, so a lot of solder seeped out through the sides and I doubt I'll be able to get it all off. I might add more solder to at least make it look intentional... I do like how the two metal colors play together, I just didn't plan it.

The overall design was inspired by one big moment that radiates out through time, and through the rest of your life. Or maybe one small moment that you didn't realize at the time, that would turn out to be a big moment. 

Day 14: Nonsense

I HAVE NEVER LOVED ANYTHING MORE THAN THIS! It's playful, it's fun, it's got personality, and I just adore it! I am definitely going to make more of these after the challenge is over (and might keep this one for myself)! Besides having over a foot of copper in the frame, this one was a joy to make! The pieces just fell together, and it was surprisingly quick and rewarding soldering it all. I just want to hooold it! Once I fill it with concrete, it's going to have the most perfect weight to it too. EEEeeeeee!

Design inspired by a scribble. Simple nonsense. The stuff our lives are filled with.

Day 15: OPen

A simple over-sized reminder to bring goodness into your life. Conceptually, it's about being open to new ideas, new opportunities, and new adventures (even if they don't look like adventures at the start).

I've been making bigger and bigger things lately. This one will have so much concrete texture, I won't be able to stand it! It was a pretty simple design/build. It's kind of funny how day 14 and day 15 ended up being so perfectly opposite. 

Day 16: Prowl

This just feels like a slinky, sneaky, design. I think of like, a panther on the prowl late at night. This is the first design I've ever done where I left a piece of tube un-smashed. (top center) I make all my frames with copper tube I hammer flat then form into shapes. I like hammering it because the edges are slightly irregular and I think it gives it a better, more imperfect feel. I'm going to wrap leather around this one to hang it, but I've never done it, so let's see how it turns out!

Day 17: Queue

This has become one of my favorites so far! It's so much copper! I really wanted to make a long pendant. It will have just a bit of concrete at the bottom, and it will add a perfect weight to the piece. I just think this one is graceful and I like it, not much else to say about it.

Day 18: Remind

Based around the times when your mind is wondering and you hear a certain word, and it sets you on a mental tangent and you end up back at a random specific memory. Weird things can put you on a mental journey, and this is a reminder of those reminders.

I'm very into twisting lately. I like the depth it adds to a piece, and the extra shine! I'm glad i went with the larger circle in the middle, it has an appropriate balance to it.

day 19: Stand

Went into the studio with no real sketches in my notebook for today. Stand is such a powerful idea. Stand in the way. Stand up for what you want. Stand even when you stand alone. And I didn't have any sketches for that kind of power. I flipped through my notebook and found this one hanging around, so I figure I would give it a shot. 

Yeah, it could kind of look like a few things... But to me its about finding the strength to stand alone.

Day 20: Tired

I was totally not feeling the challenge today, but I promised, so I dragged myself into the studio and started smashing some copper. Ironically, today's word was "tired" which was fitting for my mood. Also, the design was one I was really excited about working on.

Inspired by a really comfortably bed, when you just melt into the mattress. Plus I've always wanted to play around with multiple circles in my designs. I have a design for a really big necklace after this challenge is all over. 

While I'm not writing too much every day, I'm still happy I'm writing this. It shows me when I start to lose steam into a project. Hopefully I can use that to better plan moving forward on other big projects I work on.

day 21: Urge

I actually didn't have a design in my notebook for today, so I flipped through my inspiration and found this sketch. I actually live streamed the whole thing! It was something I had been thinking about and wanted to try. It was super chill, just hanging out, listening to music, and making jewelry. (A huge thank you to those who joined in!) It was just my first stream, but I like the idea of "just hanging out" with all of you, so I'm going to do it some more before the challenge is over.


Life, CreateAmelia Rusbar
What do I want to be in 2017?

It's almost 2 months into the new year, and I'm just getting around to writing about my big brainstorming/planning 2017 session.

I have some big plans for this year.

I want to do better, be better, think better.

I want to make changes to how I do business and what I focus on.

I figured talking about my intentions will give you some context.

You may have noticed a transition on my instagram to something more vocal and passionate. 

I'm going to keep doing that.

I wanted to live 2017 by 3 words. Something I saw from The Productivityist and wanted to implement. This is a look behind the curtain of how I got to my 2017 words.

**Stuff in italics is straight from my private journal**

what do I want to be in 2017? 

  • I want to be a better human being. 
  • I want to expand my horizons and understandings
  • I want to empathize with others and grow close meaningful relationships
  • I want to prioritize my health and well being
  • I want to do more good, in my profession, in my community, in the country
  • I want to be unapologetic about what Little Eli is, what it stands for, and what it isn’t
  • I want to stand up more. for myself, for my health, for others
  • I want to realize there is strength in seeing hope fade
  • I want to grow Little Eli as a force for creating the good I want to see in the world
  • I want to make more things.  
  • I don’t want to limit myself
  • I want to redefine what it means to make jewelry 
  • I want to connect with my audience, my peers, and my community
  • I want to forge new connections with people I admire

BIG WORDS

  • Grow
  • Spread
  • Expand
  • Empathize
  • Aspire
  • Defy
  • Validate
  • Create
  • Connect
  • Redefine
  • Forge

I narrowed it down & my three words for 2017 are:

DEFY / EXPAND / FORGE

I wrote them on the front of my Volt Planner so I don't forget.

Next I themed & planned out the first 6 months of 2017.

  • January: Batching Content
  • February: Forging Connections
  • March: Expanding the Hell Yeah Brush Lettering Course
  • April: Building Habits
  • May: Designing Jewelry
  • June: Defying Norms

I worked through the Map Making Guide by Tara Swiger (my favorite planning tool to date), set a big 6 month goal, grouped tasks in the appropriate months, and then scheduled everything with Todoist so I actually move forward. (Todoist is the reason for 85% of my progress so far this year.)

Then I themed my days, which has really helped me stay on top of some important admin/activism stuff, but has let me fall behind on other more creative stuff. 

  • Monday: Batching
    • Scheduling out content, writing, editing photos, posting in the shop.
  • Tuesday: Connecting
    • Activism stuff, professional stuff, emails mostly.
  • Wednesday: Admin
    • Sending to the shop, packaging orders, customer service stuff.
  • Thursday: Inspiration
    • It's amazing what happens when you set aside time to be inspired and to absorb the world.
  • Friday: Designing
    • Refining sketches done during the inspiration stage.
  • Saturday: Creative Activities
    • Making the stuff I refined on Friday, taking photos & exploring downtown, sketching for sketching's sake.
  • Sunday: Household
    • Making sure my home is running smoothly, taking time for myself to recharge. 

Honestly. I'm falling behind on my big goal. But I recognize that it's the result of trying to do too much at once, so I'm working on managing my time better, and sticking to my themed days better.

If you wanna chat about how you're working on your 2017, message me on instagram. That's where I hang out.

 
 
LifeAmelia Rusbar
The Story Collection

I don't write product descriptions.

I write product stories. I write to create an emotional connection between you, and the design. I write to give this little piece of concrete and copper, a special place in your heart.

This time I wrote my stories a little bit differently. This time I wrote a short story, with each necklace being a piece of that story. Each represents a small vignette. A small piece of a good day. A small piece to remind you to enjoy the little things. 

Read their stories in order below. 


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Start

Beep. Beep. Beep. Bee... You turn over and raise your hand to your eyes to block the sun. You groan. Your feet on the cold wood floor as you shuffle to the bathroom. A quick shower has you awake, but not yet fully refreshed. While brushing your teeth, you debate even putting on eye-shadow today. The cat joins you on the sink, pawing at the faucet. You leave it dripping for her as you dry your hair. You run your fingers through it, stand up straight, puff out your chest, hands on your hips, and give yourself the most aggressive look you can muster up. The cat mews in approval. Today is a good day.

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Drip

Coffee drips down the side of the pot as you set it back on the counter. Today is something special. You're trying out a new blend from that cute little store on your commute home. It's more expensive, but the associates know how their stuff, and they made you a special blend. Today you need the extra kick. The subtle flavors and spices roll around your tongue as you sip slowly, leaning against the counter. The cat weaves between your ankles. You put some food out for her and ruffle her head fluff a bit. You tell her your plans for the day. She mews in approval. You grab your keys and are out the door. Today is a good day.

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Pile

There's a pile of paperwork on your desk. You throw back the last sip of coffee before setting your cup down and getting to work. You get lost in your revisions. Your team is really killing it this quarter. You spend a minute being proud of what you've built. Next page, more revisions. You notice the time. You worked through lunch. You didn't plan to work through lunch. But it happens often when work stops feeling like work. You grab your bag and head downstairs to see what the food trucks have to offer. Hell yeah taco truck. Today is a good day.

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Balance

You balance your taco sampler on the edge of the truck's window, reaching for your ringing phone. Just in time, You swipe it open and hold it under your ear with your left shoulder. Tacos in hand, you wave to the attendant and step back from the window, stopping for napkins and a splash of house-made hot sauce, on your way to an empty courtyard table. You brought some pages with you. 'You are never not an editor', you tell yourself. The call was a pitch for a new story. You flip over a sheet to the blank side and jot down a quick outline. Fitting in pieces as you move along the timeline in your mind. Balancing creative work and tacos is never an easy task, but damn, is it fulfilling. Today is a good day.

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Melt

You wrap up today's revisions and drop them off with the intern to distribute in the morning. Heels clicking across the marble lobby floor, you smile to the doorman as he sends you off. The best part about working late? You miss all the rush hour traffic. Home in record time, you notice a package at the door. Inside, you flip off your shoes, and rip open the box. It's the album you ordered last week. You scurry to the console and place the needle on your new favorite record. Soft melodies surround you as you melt into the oversized throw pillows. The cat joins you. You ruffle her head fluff. She mews in approval. You are transported into a dreamy realm of magic and music. Today was a good day. 


I hope you remember to seek out small victories. To bask in little perfect moments.

I hope today was a good day.

All necklaces are now listed in the shop. Each is one of a kind. Once it's gone, its gone. 

Life, CreateAmelia Rusbar
Color Inspiration from Charleston SC

I spent the weekend in Charleston, South Carolina for a Bachelorette Party, and I really fell in love with the city way more than I expected too. 

The weather was perfect. High 75, breezy, not too sunny or too cloudy. The perfect spring day. The food was amazing. And then the downtown. Holy shit. I'll let you look for yourself.

Downtown Charleston was a lot like New Orleans, but cleaner, and more manicured.

LifeAmelia Rusbar