Happy Halloween from Little Yellow Couch

Happy Ghosting to all of the BIg and Little Monsters Out There This Evening! 

If you haven't seen the costumes behind our masks, check out our Art & Artists Halloween Party! For more  Day Of The Dead inspiration, you can see our invitesdecor and cocktail from earlier this month!  

xoxo Karen June & Zandra

Costume Party Playlist (Artists and their Art)

The invites have been sent, the dust bunnies banished and  the menu planned. Time to open the door and pour the signature cocktails, right? Not quite… You know what you’re guests will be eating, and are looking forward to seeing what they’re wearing, but what will they be hearing?Party playlists can really add excitement to an evening, but coming up with them can be a challenge. For this month’s post I thought it’d get in on the fun of the Day of the Dead Famous Art and Artists Party by giving you some play list ideas.

Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga – The Lady is a Tramp  Did you know that Tony Bennett is also a painter? His work is marketed and sold under his birth name Anthony Bennetto. I’ve always considered Lady Gaga to be performance artist, so this is a two-fer.

Pablo Aslan – Triunfal - Theme party playlists can be especially tricky, and there is the tendency to be a bit literal. Not all songs have to be about art or artists. What about a genre or performer who inspired a visual artist? Salavadore Dali, Diego Rivera & Frida Kalo were all inspired by a wide variety of musicians and styles, including Gypsy jazz and tango.

The Weepies – Painting By Chagall - This is one of two songs I picked that are about specific artists.  There are hundreds more out there. Just google your favorite artist with the word song and see what pops up. Some of my other favorites are Joni Mitchell’s “Turbulent Indigo” and Tom Waits’ “Night Hawk Postcards”.

Paul Simon - Rene & Georgette Magritte with their Dog After the War - My other pick for artist specific tune. This one is based on a photo taken of the artist and his wife.  If you’re a Magritte fan, John Cale also has a wonderful song “Magritte”.

Miles Davis – So What - Eternally cool, but also another performing artist who moonlighted as a visual artist.

Regina Spektor – US - US is art as musical metaphor, and it’s everywhere.  You can even make it part of your party games. How about matching the famous musician with his or her painting? Or how many songs about art and artists can your guests name in thirty seconds?

As usual, finding songs was not the problem.  Narrowing it down to just a handful of tunes was. This list is meant to be a jumping off point to inspire your ideas. I hope that you’ll add yours in the comment section!

xoxo Wendy

Wendy Lane Bailey is our genius musical consultant and guest blogger.  You can find her own beautiful singing voice on her website, WendyLaneBailey.com

Mexican Hot Chocolate Shots

The cold weather is blowing in and we're sooooo ready for this Mexican Hot Chocolate cocktail! For our Day Of The Dead costume party we had planned on serving Mexican chocolate.  But then the super smart and friendly cashier at Whole Foods told me what we should really do is melt the chocolate with a little milk, pour it into shot glasses and spike it.  Brilliant!  Here's our recipe for a very yummy adult dessert beverage:  


Taza Chocolate Mexicano Cacao Puro (1 package makes 4 servings)
Milk (1/4 cup per serving)
Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur (1/4 cup per serving)


  1. Finely chop 1/2 chocolate disk per serving. 
  2. Add chocolate and 1/4 cup milk per serving to a saucepan.  
  3. Whisk and melt slowly over low heat.  
  4. Pour into a demitasse and add fill remaining cup with Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur.  


Earthy, sensual and meant to be savored, chocolate has been believed to spark passion and creativity for centuries. What better accompaniment than Chavela Vargas whose work inspired Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and countless other artists?

Wendy Lane

Follow Wendy Lane Bailey, Little Yellow Couch's Musical Consultant each month as she infuses a bit of music into each of our themes!

Floral Frame

For our art-based "Off The Wall" theme this month, I decided to make the frame itself the focal point for our floral arrangement.  Instead of, say, framing a still life painting of flowers, I thought maybe the flowers could be the frame.  

You simply drill holes into the front of your frame for the stems.  (You'll have to be willing to sacrifice it for the cause, so I made sure to use an inexpensive thrift store frame which I spray painted gold for the project).  Since we're in October and the air is crisp with the beginning of Fall, I chose flowers that are at their peak this time of year.  The millet, seeded eucalyptus and the goldenrod  can survive without water and still look good as they dry.  If you'd like to have this arrangement around for several weeks, you could fill the entire frame with these workhorses.   

But to give the frame some punch, I added the saturated colors of dahlias and a single chartreuse hydrangea.  I'd go with this option if you're creating the frame for a special event...a fall wedding, shower or party...because these flowers will only last a day out of water but they sure do look spectacular!  

We hope you're enjoying the beauty of this season and consider making a still life of your own with a floral frame!

xoxo Zandra

P.S.  Be sure to drill on the diagonal so that your stems are going down or across the back of the frame on an angle.  Otherwise, your flowers will be sticking straight out rather than sitting up against the frame.  I also used extra thin floral wire to help hold them upright.  

Monogram Art

I love art books and calendars.  When I was in college, I would tear out pages (gasp!) and hang them in my room after trekking to museums in New York.  The reproductions were little mementos of how I felt when seeing the real thing in person.  I don't hang art posters or calendars anymore but I still have a fondness for incorporating the work of The Masters into my decor.  For this project, I wanted to upgrade my tear sheets and use a reproduction to cover a letter "Z", thinking it would be a nice addition to my typography collection.  

I knew I wanted a woman's face to fill the upper left hand corner of the "Z" and I wanted to love whatever portrait I chose.  Other than that, I had no idea what I would use.  I borrowed a dozen books from my painter friend, Ruth Scotch, and flipped through images by Modigliani, Da Vinci, Hopper...and finally settled on "Lorette With Turban And Yellow Jacket" by Henri Matisse.  (Ultimately my choice had to be based on a reproduction that fit size of the letter!). 

I bought a galvanized metal letter at Michaels (I'm having trouble finding this item on their website but I think they're new so you'll probably have luck if you go to the store in person.  You could also use one of those ubiquitous cardboard letters).  First I traced the front of the letter directly on the image, making sure I placed it right where I wanted it.  I then traced the sides and top of the letter adjacent to the trace lines I made for the front so that when I cut the paper, the image would wrap around the letter.    I then used standard decoupage techniques: apply Mod Podge to the metal; lay paper on top; use a bone folder or the edge of a credit card to push out any air bubbles: let dry and apply one or two coats of Mod Podge on top of the paper to seal.  Ta-da!  You've got one nifty monogram for your mantel!  

xoxo Zandra

Costume Party: Famous Painters & Paintings

Earlier this week, we showed you our invites and decor for our Day Of The Dead party.  Now we want to show you how it all turned out.  We asked all of our guests to come dressed as a famous painting or iconic, famous painter.  Not only is it the season for Halloween and costume parties, we're also focused on the theme of ART this month: discovering it, collecting it, creating it and displaying it!   So Karen June dressed as her favorite painter, Frida Kahlo and we set the scene, as we imaged Frida would do, to celebrate the Mexican holiday, Day Of The Dead.  Here we all are, next to the originals... 


The Painters

Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera

Andy Warhol

Jackson Pollock

Salvador Dali

The Paintings

"Girl With A Pearl Earring" by JohannesVermeer

Oil Painting, 19th Century, from the Turkish School, (artist unknown)

"Oh Jeff..." by Roy Lichtenstein

"Son Of Man" by Rene Magritte

"Madam X" (with cast) by John Singer Sargent 

We had a blast with this party!  If you're in need of a costume this Halloween, consider using one of these ideas, and if you choose one that's a little less well known, you could always print the original, pop it in a frame and carry it as a prop.  That way, you won't have to answer the annoying question, "who are you supposed to be?" all night long.  And you'll have the satisfaction of being the best educated art historian in the room.  


Karen June & Zandra

How (and Why) To Buy Art

Welcome to art month!  For all of October, our theme is "OFF THE WALL," and we're going to be talking, seeing, making and maybe even buying art!  Karen June and I thought it would be a good idea for our first post to let you know why we think art is important and how to start collecting it.  My husband and I stumbled into collecting on our honeymoon when we bought a large, brightly painted wooden fish, for no good reason other than we liked it.  The next trip we took, we happened upon another piece.  And then, it snowballed and now we're total addicts. We take vacations based on whether or not there are enough galleries in the area.  

Why buy art? 
At Little Yellow Couch, we're all about developing and expressing your personal style.  Aesthetic is important to us because it represents who we are at the core: what we're attracted to, what is meaningful, where we've been and what we've seen.  Finding and hanging art is one of the biggest impacts you can have when cultivating your style because it's so personal.  There is no "right" or "wrong" when choosing what you love.  But it's that last word, "love," that's important.  You gotta really love it to hang it.  Otherwise, you're missing the mark and your home still won't quite feel like you.  Here is what I've learned from purposely collecting art over the past 16 years.    

"Ennui" by Megan Howland.  Print from Oil Painting, $120 through Tappan Collective.

"Ennui" by Megan Howland.  Print from Oil Painting, $120 through Tappan Collective.

Go look at some art.  In person.  
One of the most pleasurable aspects of starting an art collection is the simple act of looking. Really looking, from close up to far away, in different light and from the sides.  When you enter a gallery, you can start by going straight to whatever immediately catches your eye.  Or you can be methodical and give a quick look to each piece and then go back to your favorites.  Either way, start to take notice of what you're drawn to.  Abstracts?  Still Lifes?  Landscapes? Photographs?  My husband and I love a heavy hand in oils where you can really see a lot of pallet knife or brush work.  We are also drawn to still lifes, trompe l'oeil, abstracts, saturated color and images of single houses.  (The house thing is oddly particular, I know.  What I can I say?  We know what we like). 

"Coffee Pot" by Maria Yakovleva.  Oil, $350 through UGallery.

"Coffee Pot" by Maria Yakovleva.  Oil, $350 through UGallery.

Some say art is everywhere.  We say, sure, except not at Home Goods.
No offense to Home Goods.  Really!  I shop there, too.  But not for art.  Home Goods sells stuff for your walls that is meant to match your furniture.  I've never known an artist to create a piece based on what your ottoman looks like.  Buying art to match something in a room is like buying a piece of cheese to match your sandwich.  Buy what you love.  In all things.  Furniture, rugs, lamps, coasters, art.  If you love these things, then by definition, the combination of what you love is your style.  And everything will work together.  I promise. 

"Oakland Hotel," by Deanna Fainelli.  Mixed Media, $1,100 through Zatista.

"Oakland Hotel," by Deanna Fainelli.  Mixed Media, $1,100 through Zatista.

You have every right to be in a gallery.
If you're not used to going into galleries, they can feel intimidating.  Trust me, your yearly family income is not tatooted on your forehead.  No one knows whether or not you can afford a piece of art and most owners have learned not to make assumptions.  Or maybe you're worried that you'll be trapped by an overbearing salesperson after you realize every single thing looks hideously ugly to you and you can't imagine why on earth anyone would pay good money for what you're looking at.  My remedy for this is to put on my "gallery face."  I don't make eye contact when I say hello.  As I look around, I don't show emotion.  I give either yes or no answers to the owner, without ever looking up.  They'll get the idea that you want to enjoy browsing and not be bothered.  Of course, all of this goes out the window if I see something I truly love.  Then I turn into a giddy little girl at a candy store and let everyone know it by gushing about the piece and pulling at my husband's sleeve and introducing myself to the owner, the owner's assistant, the other guy looking at the painting and the owner's dog.  But in the beginning, I'm an enigma.

"Book Shelter," by Jeremy Miranda.  Acrylic, $400 through Sebastian Foster.

"Book Shelter," by Jeremy Miranda.  Acrylic, $400 through Sebastian Foster.

Talk to the owners.  They're bored.
Unless you're at an opening, these people have nothing else to do.  (Ok, I know that's not true at all.  But if you think it's true, you'll be more likely to ask a question).  Most gallery owners are in it because they love art.  And they like to geek out on composition, materials, style, subtext... They want to talk about this stuff and they are usually quite knowledgable.  If you find someone you click with, you can learn a lot about art, from experts, for free!  Plus, you'll start to feel like a real collector when you're having cocktails with friends and start a sentence with "I was talking with Simon over at White Swan Gallery and..." 

"Dusk in Verona," by Whitney Reynolds Orr.  Acrylic, $890 through Zatista.

"Dusk in Verona," by Whitney Reynolds Orr.  Acrylic, $890 through Zatista.

Walk away.
It's perfectly fine to walk out of a gallery without buying anything.  Even if you've just spent a half an hour having an in-depth conversation with the owner.  They're used to that.  It's not like you're at the grocery store where the whole purpose is to walk out with a cart full of purchases.  Unless you're about to be shipped off the island with no chance of returning in the next ten years, let the idea of a piece marinate before you go back and buy it.  Since my husband and I buy art together, we relish the time we take to talk about what we've seen, what we liked and didn't like, what is starting to feel like we couldn't live without...preferably over a delicious meal.  I mean, how much more luxurious could life get?  White tablecloths, succulent food and wine, and a discussion on which (if any) art we should add to our collection???  When did we get so fancy?  

"Yellow Dots," by Stephen Poling.  Acrylic, $1700 through U Gallery.

"Yellow Dots," by Stephen Poling.  Acrylic, $1700 through U Gallery.

Buying Art Online
I have to admit, I don't have much experience with this, specifically because buying art is a group activity for me, my group consisting of me and my husband.  We're in it for the experience of going to galleries, drinking the free wine at openings and getting up close and personal with a painting or two.  But there are several excellent online sources that are meticulously curated for the beginning art collector and definitely worth your time.  Below are the ones I recommend. They all have useful search tools to help you identify your style and some even offer free consultations with guest curators.  

Happy Art Hunting!  Let us know what you find!

xoxo Zandra

U Gallery


Sebastian Foster

Tappan Collective

Art Abandonment Project

We've spent September focused on all of the ways in which our style and aesthetic are expressed through found objects.  Like many of you, we think the best way to spend a sunny day is sifting through the stalls of an antiques fair.  Nothing beats the feeling of scoring a one-of-a-kind piece.  And to finish off our "Found" theme this month, we're joining the Art Abandonment Project so that someone else can score something of ours!  


Started in 2012 by Michael DeMeng, the Art Abandonment Project is about making some kind of art (the definition is open to interpretation) and then leaving it behind for someone else to find. You can share photos of your art on the Facebook group, as well as any response you might get from the finder.  There's a logo you can use to attach a note explaining the project along with your email address if you so choose.  Click here to see the complete instructions...and it's open to anyone!  If you'd like to see some videos of "abadoneers" in action, check out this page on the Artists Network.  

We decided to leave a bouquet of yarn flowers behind.  For us, this is also the perfect project to take us into October.  Starting Wednesday, our new theme will be "Off The Wall," and we'll be exploring ART!   From how to buy art, to incorporating art into your decor to throwing our wildest party yet.  Stay tuned!  

xoxo Karen June & Zandra

P.S.  After dropping off our art project and strolling around a bit, Karen June told me she spied a little girl in a pick tutu showing her parents the flowers and happily spinning around with them.  I can just picture the huge smile on Karen's face as she secretly watched the scene.  And I know how happy she was for the rest of the day.  You should really try this out yourselves!  --Zandra

The Art Abandonment Project: Create and Share Random Acts of Art
By Andrea Matus deMeng, Michael deMeng

How To Host a Jewelry Workshop

Earlier this week we shared our ideas on how to use a collection of found vintage jewelry to create a new statement necklace in preparation for our Little Yellow Couch Found Jewelry Workshop.  If you are inclined to follow suit,  we highly recommend making your accessories with a group of friends and a couple of bottles of Prosecco!

The best part of getting ready for a jewelry making workshop is that you'll have an excuse to do lots of thrifting and antiquing to stock up on vintage baubles to work with...

To set up, we covered the table in black paper and used a white pencil to outline the various tools we'd be using, including an outline of a ruler for measuring chain lengths.

Add a piece of felt to a tray to keep your beads from rolling off the table.  And don't forget to mark a place for water and a champagne glass!

We gave each person a set of three different jewelry pliers and Karen made these sweet tool bags adorned with vintage brass stencils we picked up on one of our antiquing sprees.  

We went over the basic steps of how to string beads and cut apart and put together jewelry pieces, either using jump rings or wire for wrapping.  There are so many great how-to videos on You Tube that you can refer to if needed.  We also spent some time talking about how to think about designing a necklace based on what you're going to wear it with, time of year, color, style, etc.  Check out our full post here.

By the end of the afternoon, everyone had come up with a terrific composition for their one-of-a-kind necklace.

The best part of the day was the pleasure and satisfaction everyone felt after creating something so personal with their own hands!  These necklaces will get a lot of wear.  And attention!  Great job, everyone!


Zandra & Karen June

Off The Shelf: Found Item Remakes

Spending time flipping through DIY books is the old-fashioned version of Pinterest.  Just looking at all of the creative ideas gives you a little non-medicated high, even if you don't end up making anything!  (That said, we do encourage you to make something, anything, whenever possible to get an even bigger buzz).  What often happens, though, is that your brain stores away some of these ideas and then when you're out thrifting, your eye is drawn to a particular item, an image from the book pops in your head, and you happen to have a rare free weekend when you can put it all together!  Here are our favorite picks to inspire a found-object-remake:

Designing a Signature Necklace

Building your own necklace from vintage jewelry pieces is a great way to develop a signature style.  At Little Yellow Couch, we're always interested in the question: "What makes me tick?" We approach this by figuring out what  combinations of color, pattern, material and style best reflect our ideas of beauty.  When you wear a piece of jewelry that you've designed, you're sharing a very personal representation of your aesthetic, which in turn, gives you that signature style we're talking about.  For our "Found" theme, we went hunting for vintage brooches, pins, earrings and chains from which we could repurpose several necklaces that illustrate the approach we take to design.  

We started with 5 pieces we thought would compliment each other in terms of color and material.  The two different styles of clip-on earrings shared a saturated coral hue.  Two of the brooches contained pearls while the third was made of white enamel.  All of the pieces had brass or gold bases.  We'll use them in different combinations to create different styles of necklaces.  We chose three different chains to work with, two long and one short.  All of them had visual interest on their own.  



A pendant necklace on a long chain looks great with a number of different tops.  You can wear them over a turtleneck in the winter, with our without a second, shorter necklace if you like a layered look.  Or you can wear one over a plain t-shirt or blouse in the summer.  Because of the long chain, they can work with pretty much any neckline.  For this pendant, we pinned the brooch through two of the loops in the chain and then clipped the earring through the chain onto the center of the brooch.  



Karen and I tend toward asymmetry when it comes to our personal aesthetic, both in our homes and in what we wear.  However, there are times when we crave a little balance and we know plenty of other people find a great deal of beauty in symmetry.  For this necklace, we pinned the leaf and pearl brooch in the center of the chain and two of the clip-on earrings on either side.  The center piece acts as a neutral in-between the pops of color.  Even though the earrings are different, they still give the necklace symmetry because of their shape and color.  We used a shorter chain on this necklace which means it would sit beautifully above the neckline of a top.  It would be particularly lovely over a squared neckline because of the way the center brooch is laying horizontally.  



We admit we're not ones to shy away from making a statement.  No one is going to accuse us of minimalism when it comes to our aesthetic, although we do do a lot of editing whenever we're creating something.  You just might not know it without seeing our first drafts!  Whenever you have multiple pieces coming together, it looks best with a touch of asymmetry so that it looks organic.  So we've put two of the coral color pieces on one side while the other side has one coral and one white.  The upper most piece is actually one brooch and one earring layered on top of each other (just like we did for the pendant).  The overall pattern is white, coral, pearl, coral, coral, pearl, which has a pleasing visual rhythm. You just have to play around with your collection of pieces until you find a composition that works with your own sense of style.  A statement necklace looks fantastic with the classic Little Black Dress or whenever you're feeling your dressiest.  Oh, and most statement necklaces work best when done on a short chain.  You don't want all of that bling bouncing around above your stomach!  



This one might just be my personal favorite because I'm partial to very obvious asymmetry in design.  And I love the layered look of doubling up the chain into two lengths.  We were able to do this by keeping the chain in place with the leaf and pearl brooch.  Notice the brooch itself is asymmetrical when it's used vertically.  The pop of color and the circular shape of the coral earring give the leaves a starting place.  And the pearls that are spread out along the chain work beautifully to give the whole necklace an energetic flow.  I'd pair this number with a sexy silk blouse and hit the town, day or night.  

We'd love to see anything you've created, be it a necklace, ring, bracelet or some other accessory!  If you have any questions, thoughts, tips or tricks to share regarding using vintage jewelry to make something new, please share in the comments below!

xoxo Zandra & Karen June

See other Fall inspired DIYs on the Inspire Me Monday and Work It Wednesday link parties!

Decorating with Found Objects

Many of us love to go thrifting or antiquing for the thrill of the hunt.  You have no idea what you might uncover.  Instead of looking for something in particular, you can let yourself be drawn to shapes, shades of color or unusual graphics of objects, even if you don't know what on earth you'd do with them!  Sometimes these items have a way of evolving into a collection and then it's even more fun to go hunting.  For our "Found" theme this month, we'd like to share a few ways in which we display our found treasures, incorporating them into our decorating projects throughout our homes.

I'm a sucker for a salon style wall.  When you hang many things close together, you're looking at how the combination comes together as a whole, rather than focusing on a single piece of art.  My collection of vintage paint-by-numbers wouldn't make much of a statement if they were scattered around the house.  But put all together, I've got a colorful, kitschy composition for my guest room.  I've also incorporated a few other pieces to keep the composition from feeling too restricted by the collection.  (Check out our post on how to make a similar silhouette using your favorite books).  

Sometimes collections are more than just decorative objects.  I've been finding and collecting old tins since my father started putting little trinkets in them.  He would present them to me as treasure boxes when I was little and now he does that for his grandchildren.  When they aren't holding mementos, they are the perfect containers for small bouquets.  It's a nice little surprise when you see flowers tucked into a shelf or bookcase where you wouldn't expect them.  Similar to the paint-by-numbers above, amassing a collection of tins is a great way to show off the colors, graphics and typography that make these objects so appealing.  

Finally, an example of how we sometimes incorporate a single found object into a vignette we've already created.  Karen had made several terrariums for her table last Thanksgiving and they're still growing beautifully.  She had them set up near her entryway along with a few other favorite items.  Several weeks ago, we were out antiquing and she found this dusty, strange looking object behind some other old stuff on the floor of the shop.  We had no idea what it was but of course, that's irrelevant.  (Turns out it's an old version of a projector.  The postcard or slide would be lit and projected on a wall.  The two chimneys would allow heat to escape).  Karen loved the shape, material and size of the piece and made a home for it amongst her terrariums.  It's one of those things that you can't explain, but it makes you ridiculously happy.  (If you're Karen.)  If you're me, you're jealous that you didn't find it first.  

Setting an Eclectic Table

For our theme on found objects this month, we decided to see if we could pull out our random dishware that we've collected bit by bit and set a cohesive, appealing table.   The goal was to use only what we had on hand and not buy anything new.  


My tablecloths all have bold patterns and wouldn't work with the mix of place settings we were putting together.  But I realized I did have a sheet with a faint gold pattern on white that seemed muted enough to act as a simple backdrop.  You just tie up the corners so it doesn't drag on the floor and everyone will think you're simply going for a "casual" look.  No one will know it's a sheet, I promise!  

We love a little contrast.  Vintage china can be a bit prim so we found some rough twine and tied up the silverware to change the vibe.   Karen has a few different vintage dinner plates and I have a variety of bread plates, which I normally use for appetizers when friends come over for a glass of wine.  We both collect random, single tea cups and our extra saucers stood in for candleholders.  I have two different styles of green glassware because pieces have broken over time that I wasn't able to replace.  

We wanted a low vase for the centerpiece and Karen's large gravy boat did the trick.  We did cheat a little with the flowers but I spent only $5 on the roses and a few bucks on the cabbage.   The grapes came straight from my fridge since my kids want to inhale them every day.   Moral of the story:  If you find yourself drawn to vintage china while you're thrifting or antiquing, go ahead and start a collection.  Don't worry about getting a complete set...it'll all come together if you simply buy what you love!  

xoxo Zandra 

Twitch and Whiskers

Mei-Ling Uliasz, Found Jewelry Artist:  

An Interview & Giveaway!

Karen and I first met Mei-Ling at a craft show a few years ago when both of us had other businesses making and selling our own handcrafted goods.  Mei-Ling is still spearheading her shop, Twitch & Whiskers, where she creates unbelievable jewelry pieces out of found treasures.  We are huge fans of her work and adore her as a friend.  She's warm and bubbly with loads of creativity to share.  So we're particularly excited to be offering one of her prized necklaces to one of you lucky readers of Little Yellow Couch!  You can enter the drawing below.  But first, let's catch up with Mei-Ling...

Little Yellow Couch: Which came first?  Collecting odds and ends and then one day realizing you could turn them into jewelry?  Or knowing you wanted to make jewelry and then looking for interesting objects?  

Mei-Ling Uliasz:  Many years ago, I took a basic jewelry making class at a local bead shop. I was inspired by wire working techniques but not by the traditional semi-precious bead selection offered at the shop. I went home and tried using the same techniques on my personal collection of vintage odds and ends. That’s when inspiration struck and my definition of jewelry "supplies" changed forever.  I first started using vintage materials that I had around the house but now I go out into the world to seek out vintage goods. When I find a piece at a flea market or consignment shop, I make sure I can visualize the object in a final piece of jewelry before purchasing it.  This helps me to be mindful of my budget, stay focused on design, and keep me off of Hoarders!

LYC:  What are some of your favorite items to use?  

MLU:  Currently, my favorite items to work with are vintage toys because they are colorful, whimsical, and you can play with them. In my work area you can find piles of tin clickers, tin whistles, Cracker Jack prizes, mini pinball games, dexterity puzzles, and Vari Vue lenticular cards. My customers enjoy how they are both interactive and amazing conversation pieces.

LYC:  You also teach full time.  Is it difficult to do both?

MLU:  I feel like it’s an absolute gift to be able to pursue both of my passions. It’s definitely a delicate balancing act doing both during the school year. School work comes first and then I find little snippets of time to create pieces in between sips of coffee in the morning or on the weekends. I find that both jobs actually complement one another.  Being around vivacious seven and eight year olds feeds my imagination and in turn, I can share my creative life with my students. When I was a second grade student, I said I wanted to be a teacher, artist, and Solid Gold dancer when I grew up. Two out of three ain’t too shabby! 

LYC:  We understand sometimes you help kids pursue their creative interests outside of school.  Can you tell us about that?  

MLU:  When I was young, my creativity was nurtured by my family, teachers, and friends and it helped me to become the person I am today. Whenever I meet a child at a craft show with creative interests, I love finding out about their projects and fostering their ideas. Over the years, I have corresponded with some of my customer’s kids and have helped them to explore the world of jewelry. I enjoy sending care packages out to kids and seeing what they come up with. After school, I also run an outreach program where students take on projects to help the community, the environment, and animals. I let the students choose how they want to raise funds and awareness, and oftentimes, these projects have creative bends to them. Students are amazed when they discover that making and selling their handmade goods can help others in the world. My big push is to show kids that there’s room for creativity in every aspect of our lives.

LYC:  You've incorporated vintage guitar knobs into some of your rings.  Is this a nod to your musician husband?  

MLU:  Absolutely! Thom plays in an experimental electronics band called Burnkit2600.  Thom and his bandmate Justin invent their own instruments through a process called circuit bending. They rewire devices like televisions and electronic toys, turning them into musical instruments. Like me, Thom has a unique collection of vintage components that gets repurposed into projects. One day, while I was poking through his box of old radio and guitar knobs, I thought “These would make great rings!” and the idea stuck. I find that we inspire each other all the time.

LYC:  You have an incredibly full schedule of juried, highly curated art and crafts shows. What do you like most about selling directly to customers?  What's the hardest part about doing shows?  

MLU:  My favorite part of doing shows is meeting new people. Vintage items are steeped in nostalgia, so when customers walk into my booth, they often share their connections to the pieces. It’s not uncommon to hear, “I used to play with that toy!” or “My mom used to have that brooch.”  I love listening to people’s memories and stories.  The hardest part about doing shows is getting there - schlepping a car full of displays and jewelry thousands of miles every year. Traveling and setting up is tiring at times but in the end, when pieces go home with happy customers and I’ve gotten to hang out with amazing artists all day, it’s more than worth it!

LYC:  Where do you think your business is headed?  What are you excited about making next? 

MLU:  I have tons of ideas brewing all the time. My newest ideas involve making larger scale pieces and creating jewelry making kits for kids. One of my goals is to get Twitch and Whiskers jewelry into more shops and strengthen my online presence. My biggest hope is to collaborate with my husband and make some musical pieces. For the time being, I am getting to know my new second graders and preparing for my 2014 holiday craft show season. Once things settle down a bit in January, we’ll see which ideas rise to the top!

And now for the GIVEAWAY!!!  

We are so excited about this, folks!  You can enter to win this adorable OWL NECKLACE (Retail price: $48) by doing any or all of the following:

This giveaway is also posted on the Home Work blog's giveaway link party.

FOUND: Lost Mad Men Cocktail!

For our "Found" theme this month, we've decided to depart from our usual cocktail post. Typically, Jason is concocting something original or adding his own spin on a traditional drink. This time, we wanted to see if we could find a long forgotten libation from a vintage recipe book and revive it.  In this deliciously Mad Men-esque booklet produced by Calvert Distillers Company in 1960, we found a cocktail called the Souvenir.  Here it is, in all its Mod fabulousness!  


1 Part Calvert Reserve (Whiskey)
1 Part Dry Vermouth
1/2 Part Dubbonet
1/2 Part Orange Juice
1 Slice Orange

Stir well with ice.  Strain into cocktail glass.  

Songs go in and out like hem lines, instead the good ones wait patiently for each generation to find them.  Dream A Little Dream was written in 1938 and has been lost and found several times a decade since. Here for your swilling pleasure is my favorite current incarnation.

Wendy Lane

Follow Wendy Lane Bailey, Little Yellow Couch's Musical Consultant each month as she infuses a bit of music into each of our themes!

Found Music: Street Performers & Pianos

Sometimes I teach master classes for performers and when I do, one of the exercises I use is called “Sending Hearing Out”. Here’s how it works:  Stop what you’re doing, close your eyes, and sit perfectly still for two minutes.  While you’re doing that, listen to every sound in the room, then listen for every sound you can hear outside the room, down the hall, out the window, in the parking lot…Now open your eyes. What did you hear? Did you hear the music? There is music all around us, but how often do we stop to hear it? Even walking down the street.  Especially  walking down the street.  For this month's theme, "Found," I want to share some of the music you can find all over the place.  Just don't forget to stop and listen...

Did you know that Tracy Chapman, Robin Williams, Pierce Brosnan (fire eating), and Benjamin Franklin (singing & reciting original poetry) all started out as street performers?   Above, Portuguese singer Susana Silva performs on a bridge in London.  Finding her music will take your breath away.

If you want to take a more active role in the music there’s English artist Luke Jerram’s Play Me I’m Yours Project. Beginning in 2008, Jerram has worked with local artists in forty five cities around the world (with more coming in 2015) to decorate and place pianos in public spaces. Anyone who happens by can play them. This has resulted in people interacting with each other in a whole new way, spontaneous concerts (often by well known artists) and at least two marriages (http://www.streetpianos.com/stories/ ). This has to be one of my favorite public art projects ever!  Above is Gillian Cosgriff's cover of Pharrell Williams' "Happy."  

So my challenge to you this month is to go out, keep your eyes open and “find” some music. If you’re in a city that has a street piano maybe even make some music that others can find!  We’ll be here waiting to hear all about it!

Wendy Lane

Wendy Lane Bailey is our regular guest columnist on all things musical!  You can hear her on her website: wendylanebailey.com