A few days before Valentine's Day, I gave me boyfriend a subtle hint (and by "subtle hint," I mean, "violent threat") that I wanted an awesome necklace I'd found on Etsy.com, and whaddya know, the boy came through.
Ambika over at The Fray (before I go any further, isn't it funny how bloggers always refer to each other as being "over at" whatever blog they write? Is it just me or does this evoke images of a happy little fashion blog shire where all of us live in hobbit holes and pop over to visit each other and borrow clothes from time to time?) first turned me on to Etsy, a site where artists sell their handmade items like clothing, accessories, and art. It's a lot like Ebay, but without auctions or crappy Wal-Mart resale clothes or sellers named ChanelGurl55 (no relation to Chanel over at the Hip Candy hobbit hole, of course) selling "100% AUTHENTIC SERIOUSLY NO JOKE TO SAY THAT THIS BAG IS FAKE IS TO INSULT MY MOTHER AND I VOWED ON HER GRAVE TO ENACT BLOODY VENGEANCE ON ALL WHO WOULD DARE INSULT HER MEMORY FREE SHIPPING" Chanel bags that have "Chanel" spelled wrong on the front. What I'm trying to say is, it's nothing like Ebay. Thank god.
The necklace that I fell in love with and received on Tuesday is this pendant, made from a vintage children's book illustration:
So adorable, right? And only $12 for a one-of-a-kind, handmade necklace!
What's really great about Etsy though, as has been said by many before me, is the personal connection you get with each purchase. Thanks to the artist profiles and messaging option, I know that the jewelry currently hanging around my neck was made by a lovely gal named Susan who actually lives in the city next door to mine and Susan by the way, if you're reading this, why aren't we friends? Come to Portland and let's get coffee! But anyway, my future bff Susan's company is called TV Tray Art Designs, and was named for the time in her life when she was making her crafts on a TV tray. Kind of like if The Gap was named "Sweatshop."
Now, normally I hate the word "whimsical," because it used to be my go-to adjective when I had to think of something nice to say about really crappy paintings in my art classes, by Susan's designs make me wanna bring whimsical back (I swear I didn't mean to make the worst Justin Timberlake joke ever just then) in a good way. Besides that, her pieces are graphic, gorgeous, have a sense of humor, and are almost never more than $20. Here are some of the pendants currently for sale:
This is maybe the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. You put this necklace on with a little black dress, even if it's the totally wrong little black dress for you, like this horrible saggy sheath I tried on the other day when I thought that all little black dresses look great on everyone (that was dumb), and you'll still look amazing. $15.
This one was made out of a fishing lure. As long as you don't normally hang out with hungry bass, this would be a great, funky addition to your jewelry collection. $12.
I think this would work really well as one of the "For Your Boy" gifts that Kristopher over at Kristopher Dukes always features, where you get a cool present for your boyfriend and then take it back for yourself because it's really cool. In this case, I would give it to my boyfriend and say, "You're the king of my heart, baby," and then once he started asking the questions like, "Why did you get me a necklace with a little red heart bead on it? And hey, this doesn't even fit around my neck!" I would say, "Jesus, fine, I'll just keep it then." And then I would. $13.50.
And this, well, this is just perfection. $15.50.
She also sells handmade cards, cuff links, personalized photo pendants, and tons of other unbelievably cute and affordable items. Visit her Etsy shop and buy some things and maybe creepily pressure her into a friendship (actually don't, that's my trademark). This straight-from-the-artist buying experience is really refreshing, so even if these pendants aren't your cup of tea, go check out the million other artists at Etsy. Because let's face it, Nordstrom doesn't give you a handwritten note, J. Crew doesn't wanna hang out, and Chanelgurl55, well, she might kill you.