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LooLoo's Box Handcrafted Jewelry: Artisan Jewelry, from Sterling to Steampunk

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Everything's Coming Up Roses, Part One

Crepuscule rose
'Crepuscule' (1904), front arbor;
Click to view in all her glory
My blog post for yesterday's blog hop generated a lot of comments about my garden.  I grow over 200 varieties of roses, from merely 'old' to truly ancient.  I grow some roses that predate Christianity.  I love everything about them, but mostly their rich history.  They have stories.  And they smell really really REALLY good.  :-)

It's early yet for garden pics, so I thought I'd share some of my favorite rose garden photos, this time looking at it through my artist's eye. Inspiration strikes when it chooses, but it certainly helps to invite it in.  

I've posted my reference diagram for those who like this sort of thing. Most of these photos were taken in June of 2009, with a few from 2007. There have been a few changes since then; roses added, some deaths, some moved, but the overall effect is the same.  When first flush (May - July) is on you can smell my garden from blocks away, and everybody under the sun walks their dogs past my house.  I feel honored every time someone stops to smell the roses.

In the interest of loading times, I am splitting this tour into two blog posts - Front and Back.

We begin in the front, including the front parking strip and corner and down the sides - in short, everything that is outside of the fenced back yard.

Largely accurate, with a few additions, deaths and relocations.
I really need to update this.
The best shot I have, although it is older, before the new paint.
Those upper windows are my workroom.
From the kitty-corner neighbor's yard
Down the side; that second story window is our bedroom
'Mutabilis' dominates the corner
Closeup of 'Mutabilis', aka 'The Butterfly Rose'.
'Aloha' and 'Abraham Darby' against the front porch
'Aloha' & 'Abraham Darby' against porch; 'Golden Wings' front R.
The red was in a pot; I think it is 'Zulu Queen'.
Between the house and the front sidewalk, left side.
'Graham Thomas' (yellow), with 'Coupe d'Hebe' (pink) to the right
Front parking strip; 'Pat Austin'
Between front porch and sidewalk
To the left of the front steps; 'Eden' (aka 'Pierre de Ronsard')
Front arbor; 'Crepuscule' (foreground) & 'Jaune Desprez'

Front arbor: 'Crepuscule' on left, 'Jaune Desprez' on the right.
Front parking strip, Golden Chain tree in full bloom
Golden Chain tree
Headed down the side - the pink rose is 'Bewitched'
The side patch in 2005 - the red climber is 'Don Juan'
The same bed in 2009.  Yikes!!!
The pink rose is 'Zepherine Drouhin'
An old musk rose propagated from a cutting I snitched from
a historical garden in Port Townsend, WA (The Rothschild House).
'Roseraie de l'Hay', my most ambitious rose rescue to date.  It's a great story and I took lots of photos; perhaps I'll blog about it one day.

My next blog post, in a day or two, will be of the back garden retreat.  We eat out there as often as not during the summer; food and wine are even better when enveloped in the heady aroma of heirloom roses.

Until next time,

Robin Delargy
LooLoos Box

Friday, April 27, 2012

It's a Messy Workshop Blog Hop!

Messy WorkshopOne of my favorite suppliers, B'Sue Boutiques, has coordinated this fun Blog hop where a bunch of us jewelry artists 'come clean' (pun intended) and show just how messy our workshops can be; it's your chance to get a behind-the-scenes look at where I and my fellow artists make our magic by hopping from blog to blog and seeing the pictures, videos and stories we have shared. At the bottom is the list of all the participants with the link to their blog; simply click on the one below mine to hop to the next, and so on. Please feel free to leave comments on our blogs; just don't be too hard on us, OK?

Myself, I create in the eye of a hurricane and it shows.  When the rubble gets so bad I cannot carve out a square foot of clear space, I stop working and start putting things away.  However, what usually happens is that in handling my bits & pieces something will spark an idea and I'm off and running, and once again 'making' instead of 'cleaning'.  My workshop is rarely ever really 'clean'.

So without further ado, here's a tour of my Messy Workshop! Click to enlarge the photos... if you dare.  ;-)

From the street one would never imagine the chaos within.

The house was built in 1912; we're throwing it a birthday party this summer.
Those upper front windows are my workroom.

Or would you?  That's a pretty unruly garden, with over 200 varieties of old and antique roses; I am not the 'lawn & shrubberies' type.

My workroom is on the second floor, but let's start downstairs where I have (yet again) taken over the dining room.

Dining Room BEFORE
Yes, it really morphed into THIS.
Sigh... this is what happens when Neal and I decide to play with my stuff; it all starts to gravitate downstairs.  It will probably stay there until we have a dinner party and need the table back.

Time to head upstairs.  Now before we enter my workroom, I have to warn you to prepare your eyes for extreme ugliness.  The wallpaper was old and decrepit when I bought the house 22 years ago, and it has been the domicile for two teenage boys (stepson and my son, in turn).  Both picked at the wallpaper.  The house is 100 years old and the walls are the original lathe & plaster - both boys tried to hang pictures by hammering nails into the walls... which broke the plaster.  As a result, this room looks like a French bordello that has been bombed by the Nazis.  Don't say I didn't I warn you.

From the left of the door, clockwise:

This lovely wallpaper is flocked... as if the red & gold weren't bad enough.

The door leads to a walk-in closet; that just a bunch of random crap on the old daybed.

Chain hangs on the back and end of these little shelves.
Yes, that is a clamp-on shop light at the top of a 2x4. The ceiling fixture is broken.

There's always at least one coffee cup.  Hmmm... I see I was working on this!
L to R: Wire & Chain, stones & beads, shipping envelopes & gift boxes in the dresser, metal beads, filigrees, etc. and door into photo room
My small photo tent; there's a larger on on a big metal desk to the right.
I see I was photographing an ArachneMachina 'Pectus' spider pin.
At least I have lots of space and when we are done it will be an efficient workroom, with work surface on all four walls and dedicated areas for tasks like resin work & soldering.  Most will be set up to work standing, to save my back (with seated areas for a few tasks) with storage beneath and pegboard on the walls to hang tools, chain, spools of wire and such.


Despite the chaos, there is an underlying organization and I am able to create beautiful things here.  I work in the eye of the storm, where it is calm.  When I am creating, I couldn't care less about peeling wallpaper; the vision in my mind's eye is all I can see.  And I am OK with that.  :-)

Here's a few of my latest creations!

ArachneMachina 'Jugulus' RoboSpider Necklace
'The Dark Heart of Steampunk' (I made this one for myself)
ArachneMachina 'Auris' Steampunk Spider Earrings Sold, but there's more...
Flora & Fauna Brooch - Sold
Flora & Fauna Cuff - On Etsy

 Yes, lots of bugs.  I'm going through a phase that I hope never ends.  :-)

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Messy Workshop Blog Hop Links

Brenda Sue Lansdowne, B'sue Boutiques

Robin Delargy, LooLoo's Box <------ You are here

Kim at CianciBlue

Jennifer Jazwick-Smith, Hudathots

Mary Shannon Hicks

Tracy Swartz

Jacqueline Marchant

Lynnea Perry Bennett

Terry Matusyk

Laurel Steven

Dr. Brassy Steamington

Pamela Takeshige

Kris Lanae Binsfeld

Outre Art

Linzi Alford

Deb Davis

Tamara Jones

Harry Wood

Gerry Nickerson

Elizabeth Owens-Dwy

Georgene Lockwood

Charisa Sloper

Jennifer Justman


Mary Deis

Cheri Reed

Sondra Kolner

Sonya Ingersoll-Stille

Lori Anderson

Sandra McGriff

Shelly Joyce

Joan Williams

Kashmira Patel

Deb Beechy

Ginger Bishop

Kelli Jacobson

Natalie McKenna

Andrew Thornton

Mary Govaars

Kate Mulligan

Lisa Lodge

Tami Luchini

Monique Lula

Lee Koopman

Jayne Capps

Susan Lloyd

Cynthia Wainscott

Stephanie Amanti

Alicia Marinache

Sam Hamp

Lennis Carrier

The Milo, my ever-present Workshop Assistant

Friday, April 20, 2012


The most amazing thing happened today!  For those of you who are just meeting me, my husband Neal is a CSW - Certified Specialist of Wine - and works for a wine wholesaler.  He went into a new restaurant account, and it turned out to be someone he has known professionally for years. It's a small world.  Once they had concluded their business, the conversation went something like this:

Buyer: "Are you still married?"

Neal:  "Oh yes, Robin and I are still going strong."

Buyer:  "What does Robin do?"

Neal: "She makes jewelry." Buyer seemed interested, so Neal proceeded to tell her LooLoo's Story.

Buyer:  "Oh my god, I've heard of LooLoo's Box; I KNOW the logo - the cat butt!  A customer was wearing this cool necklace; I complimented it and the customer said 'it's from LooLoo's Box, right here in town.'  She then dug in her purse, found the card and gave it to me.  I didn't realize this was your wife; I'm going to go check out her Etsy site!"

The extraordinary thing is that not only did the customer who had purchased one of my pieces keep my card and carry it with her, but Neal's buyer liked the logo and kept the card as well, intending to check out my jewelry. Ripples.

And the really amazing part?  She told Neal that she's "not really a 'cat person', but the logo makes me smile."

This isn't the first time I've heard someone I know say they talked to someone who recognized my business name / logo (more ripples), but Neal's the most credible source.

When I designed my logo I wanted something very simple, striking and memorable; obviously, I succeeded.  People remember my logo, and the story reinforces it.  Ripples.

I started selling my jewelry at the end of 2009.  In 2010 I did two shows.  In 2011 I did 9 shows, and at the two I'd done the prior year, customers from the previous year came and looked for me.  This year should be very interesting!

I'm hoping for a tidal wave.

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My 2012 Show Schedule:

June 29th thru July 1st: Taste of Tacoma's Art a la Carte - Point Defiance Park, Tacoma WA
July 15th: Art on the Ave - 6th Avenue Business District, Tacoma WA
August 4th: Proctor Arts Fest - Proctor Business District, Tacoma WA
Oct 26 thru 29th : SteamCon - Bellevue Hyatt Regency, Bellevue WA (unconfirmed)
November ???: Yule Boutique - Pacific Lutheran University, Parkland WA 

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Pack of Weirdos

This is a transcription of an actual Facebook conversation between me, my Step-mom, my little sister and my Dad (using my step-mom's Facebook account instead of his own).  They all live in another state.
Other than changing the names, and removing one stray comment, I have not altered the conversation in any way.  Honestly, I couldn’t make up something this nutty.
This is why I love my family.
-------------------- * ~ * --------------------
Step-mom:  Remember the sick deer last winter that laid under our picnic table? I found her body today :(
Me:  Aw dang. :-(
Little Sis:  Where was it?
Stepmom:  Just over the hill in the back yard. Bones looked like they were laid on a hairy mat, skull about 6' away. :(
Little Sis:  Thanks for the description because my next question was what did it look like :) But that's pretty sad, sorry for your loss, I know how much you liked her, you should make (Little Bro) bury it or something
Step-mom:  It would probably end up next to the coon, which by the way, I feel lucky not to have stumbled upon.
Me:  Or add the skull to your collection. :-)
Step-mom:  Do you want it?
Me:  Me? If it could be mailed to me, then heck yeah!
Step-mom:  Should I bleach it first? Do you also want mouse bones?
Little Sis:  Ok, this is getting weird guys...
Step-mom:  I'll also send you the bear skull. Wish I would have given it to you when you were here.
Little Sis:  Why do we have a bear skull?
Step-mom:  Ask Robin. It's above the TV in the living room.
Little Sis:  Robin, I feel like I don't want to know this...but why do we have a bear skull in our living room? More importantly, why have I never noticed it before?
Step-mom: My guess is that they have always just been there. I remember moving from our house in California with a box that said "skulls and stuff".
Dad (on Step-mom FB Account):  This is Dad-doesn't everyone have a bear skull?
Dad:  Robin-this is Dad again-she cant mail you the bear skull because then the mountain goat skull would get lonely.
Dad:  Robin=me again-I told her she can't send you the bear skull until its part of my estate.
Me:  Seriously, Dad? No bear skull? I got all excited for a minute. Sis, years ago when I was a kid I found a young dead black bear up at HiHium (a fishing camp in British Columbia). It was mostly decomposed, but I drug the head and paws back to camp. The caretakers gave me a camp stove and an old pot and I boiled the last of the flesh off. Dad got the skull, I don't know where all the claws went. I have a thing for animal bones and skulls, always have. And yes, I would love a mouse skeleton. ANYTHING like that. As for the deer skull, if it is clean (not stinky) then no, don't bleach it.

And Dad - will me the dang bear skull, please? :-)
Step-mom's Sister:  Good read guys :)
Little Sis:  I've learned a lot about my family through this...Dad is way too protective of his bear skulls, Robin likes skeletons, and my parents still can't use their own Facebook accounts right...
Me:  ‎Sis, you're just now figuring out that your family is a pack o' weirdoes? Really??? I mean, c'mon... Karl (my brother, who lives near them). 'Nuff said. ;-)
Dad: Careful about who is calling who weird - Dad

Conquering Arachnophobia, One Piece at a Time

I admit it; I have always, for nearly my entire 49 years, been a terrible sissy when it comes to spiders.  Nothing else in this world has the power to turn me into a shrieking, jumping, quivering and, on one truly nightmare-inducing occasion, fainting wreck than arachnids.  They just creep me the heck out.  Now I have improved somewhat over the years - gardening, especially, has helped me to learn tolerance - but any spider that crosses my threshold will meet The Boot.  No exceptions.

So, imagine my surprise when I found myself making these????

Tack Pin, on Etsy
ArachnaMachina 'Carpus' and her prey
ArachneMachina 'Auris' RoboSpider Earrings

These are the new line I am working on.  I call this line of Steampunk Spider jewelry 'ArachneMachina®', and I am in the process of securing the appropriate patents and trademarks.  Their abdomens are cast (by me) from Ice Resin that is choc full of bits and pieces from defunct mechanical watches; their thorax' (what's the plural for 'thorax', anyway?) are rhinestones, at least so far; I can definitely see gemstones in the near future.  The strange thing is that I am enjoying working with these!  They aren't creeping me out a bit, but the reactions of those who see the finished jewelry is ranging form "WANT IT!!!" to "EEEEEKKKKK!!!!!"  I sold my first wto pairs of earrings before they ever had a chance to hit my online store. I'm totally going to wear one of these pins on the back of my shirt, top of the shoulder blade, crawling towards my neck... to the mall.  That should be fun, bwahahaha!

Do you think this could be a case of 'know thy enemy'?  Could I be becoming inured?  Somehow I don't think so.  These things have an up to nearly two inch leg span; a real spider this size would likely have me raising the roof.  I hope I never find out.