Hello and Welcome

Thanks for stopping by.

Over the next several months I have the enviable task of getting to play with some of my favorite things as I participate in the 2017 Build A Line Challenge.  The challenge is to design and create a unified line of jewelry on a theme of our choosing. This kind of focus is especially hard for someone whose mind works sideways, hardly ever in a straight line.  I like to think of it as zigzagging my way through life.

The one constant in my life since I was a child, though, is books, so I know that my journey will include lots of those.  I’ve been thinking a lot lately about seeing, creating, and reading and how for me those things are all tied together.  I’ll share what I’m reading and why it intrigues me or doesn’t.  Here is where I’ll share what I’ve learned, what I don’t know, and what I want to know.

Our journey will start here – down the street at the Lake.   It’s my favorite place to cogitate.


Shopping Local

Love Your Locals

The weather outside may be getting frightful, but thanks to the internet, shopping for locally made items can be easy from home. Take a few moments during the next several weeks to discover the talents of some of our local makers, creators, and artisans in Northeast Ohio and just a bit beyond.  To whet your appetite for locally made and designed items, here’s a list of a few of your creative neighbors.

Places to Put Things

Ken Moran of Mentor has created an Etsy shop, Places To Put Things, which showcases his love of antiques and woodworking. Lidded containersHe scours the markets for vintage glass treasures and then hand crafts a lid for each, creating unique and useful storage containers. From colorful Depression glass sugars and creamers, to drinking glasses made from vintage soda bottles, you’ll be sure to find something you can’t live without at his shop. For the next few weeks, shipping for purchases to Lake or Cuyahoga counties will be only $2.50.

Sweet Bean Candies

sweet bean
Ready to pop one into your mouth?

Kristin Barnes and Bob Barnes make chocolates, and not just any chocolates.  Kristin hand-paints filled chocolate bonbons, and Bob is responsible for the bean to bar creations. We eat with our eyes first, and these small batch creations are as lovely to look at as they are to eat. Sound tempting? Drool over their creations on Instagram then visit their website at sweetbeancandies.com to order. You can email Sweet Bean at sweetbean@outlook.com

Find Sweet Bean Candies this holiday season at the following markets:

30th Annual ArtCraft Studio Show

December 2 and 3

Artcraft Building, 2570 Superior Avenue, Cleveland OH

Cleveland Bazaar Holiday at 78th Street Studios

December 10 and 11, 2017

78th Street Studios, 1300 W. 78th Street, Cleveland OH


Book Arts and Ephemera

Handmade Books
Handmade blank books

Looking for unusual handmade blank books, journals, and paper ephemera for your mixed media projects? Then visit Book Arts and Ephemera an Etsy shop owned by Marianne Monaghan of Euclid. Handmade blank books and journals are covered with specialty papers  such as those featuring traditional Japanese kimono patterns. The hand-sewn bindings are available in several styles. The paper items are the real thing, not photocopies, and are perfect additions to your mixed media, altered book, collage, scrapbooking, visual, or book arts creations.

The Merry Monk

Copy of Brown Gingerbread Christmas Ideas Photo Collage(1)
Biblio Bling and Wearable Art Glass Jewelry

Browse The Merry Monk, another shop from Euclid, to find handmade jewelry and other treasures that make life merrier.  Marianne’s handmade jewelry is formed from found, reclaimed, and new components such as vintage glass, game pieces, paper ephemera, metal bits and bobs, and repurposed costume jewelry.  Biblio Bling is where you’ll  find literary-themed jewelry or head over to the Wearable Art Glass for jewelry crafted from vintage glassware.  Bento-style project bags, progress keepers, and stitch counters for knitting and other needlecrafts can be found in the  Knitting Accessories category.

SOHI River Art

Susan Shoby of Eastlake is the creative genius behind SOHI River Art. Susan uses old techniques to create stunning electric, stained-glass lanterns many of which are influenced by Arts and Craft design elements. She also designs infinity and other styles of scarves for men, women, and children ages 4-6 using a combination of fabrics and embellishments. Creative blank cards can be customized for your business. Contact Sue through text, voice mail at 440-567-9226 or through email at sohiriverart@gmail.com You can also find her on Facebook.

20171028_165619Find SOHI River Art at these Shows:

Holiday Art & Pottery Show

Nov. 18, 2017 from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Willoughby Fine Arts, 38660 Mentor Avenue, Mentor, OH

30th Annual ArtCraft Studio Show

December 2 & 3, 2017

Artcraft Building, 2570 Superior Avenue, Cleveland, OH

Piazza Red Rock

Frank Pietravoia of Euclid designs greeting cards and custom photo prints from photos pink_roses_blank_note_card-r51220cbf5ca946b297c3afb4bfbd8a12_xvua8_8byvr_324he’s taken in Italy, Euclid, and other locations throughout the United States. Choose from blank cards or custom design your own with the wording of your choice at time of purchase. Frank’s cards are available for purchase through his shop on https://www.zazzle.com/piazzaredrock or contact him by email at piazzaredrock@gmail.com


Belle’s Healing Solutions

I caught up with Kathleen McCarthy of Willowick at the Holiday Open House at The Green House in Euclid. Kathleen is the founder of Belle’s Healing Solutions, an all belle's healing balmnatural, vegan-friendly skin care company which started in her kitchen. They use “only select herbs, vitamins and essential oils to provide high-quality healing products” which help ease skin conditions such as eczema and rashes. You can find their products at www.belleshealingsolutions.com or follow them on Facebook.

AP Appeals

ap appealsApril Fleetwood is a specialist when it comes to making colorful, creative wreaths and novelty items for holidays, sports teams, or anything you can think of. April will take your vision and make it come to life. You can find April’s creations on Facebook and Instagram at Ap_Appeals.

Fleming’s ChocolatesFleming's copy

Anyone with special dietary restrictions knows how difficult it can be to find holiday treats that taste good and fit their special needs. Lisa is happy to create specialty treats such as chocolate coffee stirrers, caramels, mints, clusters and more.  Many of these items can be made gluten free. She invites special requests and wraps each order so that it is as beautiful on the outside as the inside. Her tasty treats can be seen on Instagram flemingschocolates, and you can contact her directly at flemingschocolates@gmail.com to order.

Lisa Lee Reflexologylisa lee

In addition to stress and pain management, Lisa sells natural healing products such as shower vapor tablets, warming wraps, and Bliss Vapor Rub Sinus Balm for these cold months ahead. You can contact Lisa at lisalee@llreflexology.com or find her on Facebook to get all the latest news.

And a little further afield…

mrly – High Quality Comfy Clothes for Kids

Trevor Potulski is a 2004 graduate of Euclid High School and is co- creator of the kidswear brand mrly which is located in Columbus, Ohio. At mrly, simple is beautiful. Their clothing lets a child’s personality do the talking. The company makes high-quality, super comfy, everyday clothes in gender neutral colors that are easy to mix and match. You’ll be happy to hand them down to younger siblings or friends. They source the best textiles from Japan and manufacture right here in the USA. Helping families in need is important at mrly, which is why they have partnered with Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio to donate one load of laundry for every item purchased.


Mulligan Stew Jewelry

Kate Mulligan is a jewelry designer located in Southeastern Ohio. mulligan stewHer hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces have been carried in artist galleries and boutiques.    Her statement necklaces, earrings, and bracelets incorporate a wide variety of components and techniques, and each can take several months to complete.  Her attention to detail and workmanship is extraordinary.  The necklace at right was featured in a “Food As Art” event at a local gallery.  Isn’t it tasty?

You can view Mulligan Stew Jewelry on Instagram and follow her on Facebook.


Markets and Fairs

June 3 and 10 at Willoughby Outdoor Market

I’ll be bringing handmade books and bling to the Willoughby Outdoor Market on Saturday, June 3 and June 10, from 8:00 a.m. to Noon.

The Market is located in the heart of lovely downtown Willoughby, Ohio.  Local growers will be bringing vegetable and herb plants, flowers, and produce such as honey (the Wildberry Honey is oh so yummy.)  Handmade goods from artisans and makers – including me – will also be available.  Stop by and say hello.

farmers market image for blog

Biblio Bling

Biblio Bling Revealed

It is a joy to hear people talk about their favorite books. Having worked in a library, children’s bookstore, and owned my own bookstore, I’ve seen the way faces light up and grow animated when people talk about books they love. Bibliophiles develop deep, lifelong connections with literature, and we connect with others who share the same love of certain books that we do.

The idea of jewelry based on books has been percolating for a long time. Maybe the idea took root with this pin. book nerd pin I loved it the moment I spotted it in a tiny boutique. There was a bracelet that matched but it wore out ages ago. The seed was planted….book jewelry……I wonder if there is a word for that?

My project for the last few months has been to develop a line of jewelry based on some of my favorite books.  So without further ado, here is the first look at what I’m calling Biblio Bling – welcome to wearable Alice.  You can find the complete collection in my Etsy shop, The Merry Monk.

alice collage page 1alice collage page 3alice collage page 4

Stay tuned for more Biblio Bling.  In production is jewelry based on The Secret Garden and the works of Jane Austen.

Biblio Bling · Exploration

Biblio Bling in the Works

My Etsy shop at The Merry Monk is getting some new additions in the category of Biblio Bling.  Biblio Bling features handmade pieces of wearable art inspired by my favorite books and authors.

The Inspiration

I’ve been a book nerd all my life so wanting to create and wear something that reflects my love of books is a natural for me. My first job was working at a public school library for 25 cents an hour, and I hoarded that meager pay to buy books. Back before libraries caught on to the whole library sale idea, they would burn the books that were removed from circulation. I begged to take some home and swore an oath on a stack of dilapidated books that I would never return them accidentally to the library – a sin close to but not quite as bad as the Original.  My favorite copy of The Wind in the Willows comes from that haul. It’s not a valuable book bound as it is in sturdy library cloth and covered with old stickers, but it has the most glorious, thick paper. I don’t want to read any other; just sniffing the pages takes me back to my youth.

Alice in Wonderland is the first book Im using to inspire this line. My previous post, How Alice in Wonderland Saved my Life, provides some background for that choice.

To whet your whistle, here are a few illustrations that I love from Alice:


The Process

To begin, I brainstormed ideas based on images in the books. To organize all my ideas, I created a mood board so that I could have a visual reference to help me stay focused and to which I could  refer as I shopped for findings and other pieces to use in this collection. I created several mood boards with different colors schemes for different characters. Here is Color Scheme 3 from my Alice collection:

Alice Mood Board Scheme 3


Pattern Curator was the source for the color scheme and floral patterns above. If you don’t know about Pattern Curator, head  over to their website and sign up for their emails.  You’ll love their fabulous print and color inspiration.

The Parts

Because I want to incorporate words as well as images into my pieces, my biggest challenge has been to find a way to do that in the best shape and size. I settled on using metals blanks and dominoes to begin. Here are a few I’ve created so far:


Other components have come from B’Sue Boutiques including the  brass charms you see in the mood board above.

The glass pieces at the bottom of the mood board are supplied by my brother who makes the coolest glass components for jewelry making and other crafts.  Here a few of the non book-related pieces I’ve created with them.

And since I have a “thing” about paper, I know I’ll be using some of my handmade papers as well as text from Alice to create unique components.

Stay tuned for the final reveal of my complete line on April 14 when the Build A Line Challenge comes to a close and we reveal our completed line.

Have a suggestion for a book you’d like to see in Biblio Bling? Leave a comment below. I’m always looking for inspiration.  Just keep in mind that I cannot use any images from Disney, Dr. Who, or other copyrighted materials.

All photographs are the property of The Merry Monk Press and may not be re-used or copied without permission.