Wednesday, December 30, 2009

How To Care For Your Sparkle Studio Cone Incense Burner

*About the design:
Antique coastal town souvenirs, shellwork "sailor's valentines," devotional shrines, "tramp art" of the 1920s and 30s as well as European grottoes have all served as inspiration for these original Sparkle Studio creations. All are comprised of a pair of large scallop shells and a mix of smaller shells with accents of glittered sand, loose rhinestones and gold leafing. Each one measures approximately 4 1/2 inches across at the base and 4 1/2" across the back, and each one also incorporates a 1 inch square of ceramic tile on which the cone is placed after it is lit.

*About the cones:

With your purchase of a Sparkle Studio handmade burner you will receive one free dozen incense cones to get you started. The cones are wrapped in packs of three, so you may choose up to 4 packs of any scent to equal one dozen. This is a list of the scents we currently carry:
-English Rose
-Nag Champa

*How to light and place cones:
Standard incense cones such as the ones we offer with purchase measure approximately one inch. The best way to light them is to hold the base of the cone in the tips of your fingers and light the top of the cone, letting it burn for approximately 15 seconds before blowing out the flame and carefully setting the cone on the tile square.

*How to handle & clean the burner:
Although the scallop shells are securely attached to each other, please use caution when handling your incense burner. Hold it under the base when lifting or moving it. All we recommend for cleaning the ash after each burn is a clean inexpensive paintbrush to carefully dispose of ashes in a safe receptacle.

*Where to order more cones:
Incense cones are readily available wherever incense sticks are. However, if you find that you particularly enjoy this method of burning incense, search the internet for the keywords "incense cones." There are many online incense & fragrance companies carrying incense cones that you would be able to order at a more affordable price, and some may offer up to 100 different scents! We recommend the 1" sized cone for these burners, as they burn for approximately 20 minutes, leaving the area of the burner with a wonderful aroma to enjoy! Thank you from Sparkle Studio.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Probably not a real word. In any case, I've switched into "pillow mode" this past week in order to get some thoughtfully planned ones for Sparkle Studio made. This is still a bit of a production since most of the "good stuff" - the French 19th century fabrics, 1940s damasks and vintage/antique trims are in storage bins. Instinctively I pulled a French 1930s cherub print and a coordinating pinstriped red velour, an amazing graphic floral 1960s print also from France that will either become pillows or maybe a couple differently shaped handbags. Tune in to see what becomes of my selections.

First up is a beautiful piece of Fortuny that I have been saving up for a special occasion. As mentioned previously, Fortuny fabrics are extremely collectible and very well documented. Because some of the higher end silk velvets can retail for up to $600 per yard, vintage Fortuny is highly desirable. This particular print is called "Fiori" that was produced in the 1940s and 50s, and is a beautiful floral design in pink and silver printed on cotton. Because my collection of vintage Fortuny is small, I have waited for the right combination of backing fabrics and trims in order to go ahead in the design and construction of anything with it. Also in very limited supply is my collection of antique French metallic trims, such as this 2" silver fringe that I will be incorporating into the 2 pillows i have planned for this piece of Fiori!

Join us on facebook as well!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Sparkle Studio hits facebook!

One of our tasks on our Multitasking List has been achieved: get Sparkle Studio on facebook! Now as the launch of our site is within sight (haha), we will be taking full advantage of various arenas to spread the word about, which of course will take just as much time as making new products for This is the one time I wish at least my arms could be cloned in order to get everything done! Become a fan of Sparkle Studio on facebook, see you there! Oh and by the way, I can officially reveal/unveil our logo here!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sparkle Studio Chromo Collage Greeting Cards

Over the years I found that I had an affinity for making different kinds of greeting cards. I tried as often as i could to send out handmade cards for the holidays and for birthdays. Working with antique fabrics and trims for as long as I have, I incorporated textile fragments that were too small to make anything else out of, and these even sold fairly well in our antique shop. Because most of what we carried in our shop was of a French origin, I became familiar and knowledgable with chromolithography. This was a technique of art reproduction used widely in 19th c. France among other places that allowed a larger number of reproductions to be made with out the tedious element of handcoloring. Artists who traveled abroad to document other people, botanicals, animals etc., were able to share images of their journeys with a wider number of people. Also, figures and flowers were reproduced to be used by young girls as sort of paper dolls, for them to create their own fantasy world.

I bought a cache of smaller sized chromos at a flea market next to Versailles, figurines, flowers & animals, and most seemed to be from the late 19th century. This small collection has been a constant source of inspiration for me, and incorporating them into my greeting card designs was one outlet. As can be seen here, I am currently working on reproducing images from my collection and placing them on backdrops of either real settings for a slightly surreal effect, and placing them on a fabric background. I plan to make them in limited numbers, and they will be available for purchase at Sparkle Studio.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Halloween 2009 in 3-D

It's been a month, and I must apologize to all the followers, present and future, for being absent for a month. We are pressing to get Sparkle Studio up and live online! Hang in there everyone, and keep the creative juices flowing! After watching a pumpkin carving contest on the Food Network, I decided to take a stab at a 3-D pumpkin design to help Keith and myself get into a festive Halloween spirit. We picked out a great white pumpkin, and because of it's exterior color I thought that a great design to start off my adventure would be a skull design. I got a bit of inspiration online, and dove right in. However, I realized that I would need one thing to do this right - a set of clay/sculpting tools! This first attempt at 3-D carving ended up fairly successful, enough so that kids that came by the house to trick or treat were too scared to come to the door for candy! Awww...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Fresh Off The Runway - Viktor & Rolf, Paris Spring 2010 RTW

Thank you, thank you V & R! As an artist i can fully appreciate the depths of creativity, and having the courage to drag it up to the surface and express it. Without fear of criticism, without worry of marketability, without concern for those that will shrug their shoulders and say "I don't get it." My jaw dropped at the site of layers and layers and yards and yards of tulle sheared and shaved into bold, angular, completely over the top shapes. This does not even include the shock of a full length tulle ballgown with huge holes drilled all the way through from the front to the back. To have been in that audience would truly have been an uplifting and inspirational experience, heightened by the runway's live musical performer, Roisin (pronounced ro-SHEEN) Murphy. Bravo!!

Roisin's great video for "You Know Me Better"

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Best Glitter!

The Perfect inspiration for Sparkle Studio! Because I am in the midst of creating greeting cards for our site, I must briefly mention the Ultra Fine glitter from Stampendous. I discovered it once at our nearby art store several years back, and I have to say that I have not found anything else that even comes close to this brand. I cannot, at least for the projects that I have worked on, make use of glitter where you can make out the small square shapes of the glitter itself. I once tried the type of glitter made for soaps and candles, but this type is way too fine, almost to the consistency of eye shadow. The Stampendous brand has been perfect for embellishing the types of cards I have created over the years such as these holiday cards for 2009. They also carry many pastel colors and different types of iridescent glitter. I have been such a happy customer for quite some time, I had to just spread the word!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fresh Off The Runway - Milan Spring 2010 Ready-to-Wear

This week I'm following Milan's fashion week for Spring 2010, and for me there are a few highlights. I liked the graphic prints presented by both Versace and by Prada. Donatella's swirling geometric circles mixed with stylized feather and flower patterns were bold, while Miuccia Prada combined photographic prints of clouds and beach scenes to a serene yet borderline ghostly effect.
For myself, I'm more tuned in to accessories, jewelry & handbags, and it's always inspirational to see what's swinging around the models' necks and from their hands, since often it is each major label's handbags that are the long term bread and butter items. The standout handbag collection for me accessorized the Fendi collection, which offered customers lucite boxes to needlepoint (yes!) satchels to smaller carryalls with changeable outer layers of lace.

Because I often lean towards funky, edgy & offbeat designs, I particularly enjoyed seeing a great mix of denim as part of the Trussardi collection. there was also a lot of black painted denim, leather and suede fringed pieces that had just a little bit of retro without letting you forget about what's going on today.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Learning Leathercraft Techniques

I truly believe that I am ready to own a set of leather craft tools! I already work quite a bit with leather, creating floral corsage pins out of leather remnants and various other fabrics. I also have made an array of handbags, many of which I try to incorporate leather elements wherever possible. It will be a great benefit to learn additional techniques of working with leather such as riveting and tooling. Below is a short video from Leather Craft Studio which beautifully illustrates how to use various tools (swivel knife, beveler, shader & veiner) that, when combined with a steady hand, produce wonderful results.

Then I happened to stumble on Tiger Torre, who created the wonderful Monarch butterfly mask below and even posted a tutorial on how to make one just like it. What I will follow from Tiger are techniques on shaping cased (wet) leather, techniques she successfully interprets for us when custom fitting one of her creations to the face.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Gorgeous & Goth - Jewelry Collection for Vera Wang Spring 2010 RTW Runway

The Spring collection that Vera Wang showed in her Mercer Street store in NYC was beautiful, and for me I especially appreciated the somber and austere feeling of the clothes. This was contrasted by the amazing high drama of the jewelry pieces paired with the dresses. Gorgeous crystal spiderwebs hanging from satin ribbons, large black satin ribbon roses encrusted with rhinestones as a bracelet or brooch combined with strands and strands of more crystals. Now I want to make all of the exact same things! But different, of course...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

19th c. Shell Frame

The Houston Museum of Natural Science is celebrating its 100th year in 2009. To commemorate this, the museum's curators have chosen 100 pieces from its collections, which serve to highlight the different areas of the Museum.

As a huge fan of vintage shellwork pieces, I love to study the tedious placement of smaller shells as shown in this beautiful frame. Made in the second half of the 1800s at the same time that sailors to the West Indies were bringing back shellwork souvenirs for their loved ones, what impresses me most about this piece is its dramatic effect achieved by a miniature photo in the center of a much larger shield frame, allowing a proportionately large amount of open space to create a beautifully intricate design with so many tiny shells.

Thanks to Steven, who blogs for the Museum, for his ongoing coverage of each selection throughout the rest of the year.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Grace Jones, the Hurricane Tour & Eiko Ishioka

Talk about the most brilliant and creative collaboration one could ever imagine: Grace Jones and Eiko Ishioka. Grace caused a huge uproar for her brilliant performance at the Hollywood Bowl on July 26, 2009. We were there to witness and worship all that is Grace: her stage presence, her voice, her close relationship to her fans, her longevity, and to celebrate the great new album "Hurricane."

When the reviews came out in the paper, I discovered that Grace has had a very close relationship with the brilliant Eiko Ishioka, and it suddenly all made sense. Academy Award winner Ishioka is the genius costume designer and artist behind the costumes for such films as "The Cell," "Bram Stoker's Dracula" and "The Fall," as well as costumes for operas and even Cirque du Soleil's "Varekai."

Sparkle Studio Cone Incense Burner

Another item that will be available in very limited quantities on the upcoming site will be these cone incense burners as part of the Sparkle Studio brand of products. Each has been handmade entirely of shells, incorporating scallops, umboniums, clams and cockles, and embellished with glittered sand, gilding, ceramic tile and vintage rhinestones. Each burner stands between 5 and 6 inches, and holds one 1" incense cone which sits on the tile square. The first series will include: The Virgin of Guadalupe, The Red Buddha, Jesus, and Botticelli's Venus, and will come with a mix/match selection of 12 cones, which are just as easy to find as the incense sticks.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Sparkle Studio Hair Sticks

I have made a small collection of hairsticks for the upcoming Sparkle Studio site. In Hawai'i, the use of hairsticks is very popular, a veritable staple for anyone with hair long enough to wrap in a bun. The heat and high humidity necessitates getting one's hair off the neck.

Both Chinese and Japanese cultures incorporated the use of hairsticks as ceremonial and costume decoration, and their use of dangling embellishments influenced me as i strung beads, rhinestones and sequins from the ends of mine to create fun and colorful combinations for any time of the day or night. I combined various Japanese lacquered chopsticks with glass pearls and beads, handcut leather flowers, interlocking elements strung on wires and secured them so that they can be used as just a single or crisscrossed to secure a bun to the back of the head and adding a bit of sparkle!