Author: Eli-Makes-Things

Magazine Feature

Magazine Feature

225 Magazine based here in Baton Rouge interviewed me and took some photos of my studio for a feature in their September 2017 issue!

Here are some of my favorite excerpts:

While most people don’t give [concrete] a first thought, much less a second, she studies it. […] Baton Rouge makers craft jewelry out of leather, metal, wood and even oyster shells. But Rusbar may be the first to have turned concrete into a style statement. To her, concrete has everything she wants for making jewelry: beauty, complexity and ubiquity.

“It’s the perfect shade of gray. It’s fantastic,” she says, gushing about the material. […] “There’s a lot of character involved in it, if you look at it.”

She starts with a sketchbook, drawing out design concepts and shapes for her jewelry. Once she has an idea, she doesn’t cast a mold. Instead, she takes copper tubing and hammers the material into shape piece by piece—this way, no shape is ever perfect, and each one is different from the other. The last step is pouring in the concrete mixture. To her, the individualized production method offers concrete the extra texture it deserves.

 Photography by Collin Richie
Photography by Collin Richie
#30DayChallenge – Making Jewelry

#30DayChallenge – Making Jewelry

Every day during June 2017, I challenged myself to make a new, one of a kind, piece of jewelry. I shared my process on my instagram, but I also wanted to track how I was feeling during it all, so below is a quick recap of the day’s work and my thoughts. All designs will be available in the shop after the challenge. Posts are updated with the final product photo. 

First, a little bit of backstory

At the beginning of the year, I planned out my first 6 months, and gave myself themes for each month. I decided June would be about “defying norms,” and it was all about doing things differently. Thinking about my business in a different way, and seeing what happens. Then in April I decided to pivot and focus 100% on my jewelry, where before I was splitting my time between 2 digital goods (because it’s hard to get off the passive income bandwagon).

I decided to double down again on jewelry. It’s were my real passion is. It’s the reason I quit making home decor. It’s what I want to be known for. But in trying to meet some imaginary revenue number, I was focusing on the “easy” digital stuff (even though it’s totally NOT easy). I ignored the fun creative stuff.

So, to get back to my roots in a big way, I decided to spend June focusing on making things. Making new things. Making a lot of new things.

Day 0

I’m lumping all my pre-making into a single day, but this is the stuff I worked on the weeks leading up to the challenge.

Usually when I’m working on jewelry, I sketch out a series of designs that are a family of sorts. The sketches come first, and they don’t get their names until I’m done. The name usually comes to me sometime when I’m polishing them or photographing them. But it’s usually pretty effortless. 

For the challenge I’m doing it backwards. My first step was to come up with a series of names or concepts, and that would guide my designs.

I did it this way for a few reasons: It let me think of all the names ahead of time and tailor my sketches to that word. Plus, I wanted an opportunity to engage with people. Doing it this way, allows someone to suggest a word, and if I like it, I can work it in. The opportunity for engagement is so important for me. I want to interact with my followers in a deep way, and show them how I work.

I brainstormed my concepts and tentatively scheduled them for the month.

Then I started sketching out ideas for the first 2 weeks or so, so I wouldn’t have to worry about being “inspired” to work every day, and so I had a rough game-plan moving through the first few days of the challenge. 

Then I got to work!

Day 1: ALTER

The idea for the Alter necklace came from the meaning for the word “alter/altar”. It started as a straight forward and literal depiction of a table or surface. It then morphed into a perspective on a table. It ended with an altered view on a cube, and became an experiment on depth and using my materials in new ways. 


The Beyond necklace’s inspiration was a shooting star, and all the things beyond this earth and beyond our knowledge. I got pretty abstract with it, and to me it’s become a symbol of all the knowledge we seek. I also got to experiment with using my drill to make holes in the copper to string it on, rather than adding a wire loop that would muddy the straight forward design.


Chance was pretty simple. The idea of a coin, and a 50/50 chance to make a change. It led to a simple circle, cut in half. I also used my drill to add holes in the copper, which makes this design super clean and a bit more sculptural. I can’t wait to see how elegant this one turns out!

Day 4: DEFY

Defy actually took me a while to get my thoughts in order. My original sketch for defy was an X with some square wire in a simple round frame. I didn’t love it, but it was abstract, and I’m big on abstract.

Outside of this challenge, I had an idea floating around for a “wire drawing” of a fist, set in a simple frame. It wasn’t until I sat down to make this piece that I realized I really disliked the design I had for the X.

Defy is one of my words for 2017, it means a lot to me, and I didn’t want it being a negative design. 

It took me a while to work through the geometry and get it translated into square wire, but I think the result is simple, elegant, and powerful. 

I’m going to keep this one for myself, so it won’t be in the shop with the others, but I’ve already had a lot of interest in it, so after the challenge I’ll probably sit down and make more.

Maybe I’ll offer it all year. I’m not sure yet. But it could be interesting having a 2017 design that’s available all year. 95% of my stuff is one of a kind, but having one design connect all of 2017 is pretty exciting. Stay tuned to find out what I do.


Another one of my words for 2017. The concept behind the Expand necklace is to push your boundaries and expand your community. It’s all about moving out of your comfort zone. I wanted to make this one a little more dramatic than usual, so I was playing around with sizes, and I think it came out perfectly! There is a lot of copper in this one, which helps make it extra flashy. It took a lot longer than usual to solder everything together. I think I was having problems with everything being flush, but it worked in the end. This one is similar to 2 and 3 in that there are holes in the copper for the leather string, making it a very clean final design.

DAy 6: forge

Ok, ok, the last 3 designs were inspired by my words for 2017. Forge is about transforming yourself, creating something different, and change. This shape was inspired by a set of twisted earrings I made myself earlier this year. For the necklace it became something simple and elegant, with extra textured copper that grabs the light. It’s a long pedant, 3 inches total, and I’m so excited to see how it hangs on a long leather cord.  

day 7: grow

Originally inspired by a leaf, I took an abstract turn, as I usually do. Grow is about planting roots and reaching for more. It’s about digging in, doing the work, and the slow burn. It might take you years to get there, but once you do, you’ll stand for ages. 

I don’t think I’ve ever gotten as close as I had to my original sketch. I surprised myself with this one. It’s elegant and balanced. Another one I can’t wait to finish. 

day 8: Home

Inspired by the front door on my childhood house: home is a feeling of familiarity and safety. Starting out with an abstraction, this pendant became an experiment in using copper in 3 dimensions and adding texture. 

day 9: idol

I had just done a twisted piece for day 6, but I was really interested in the hammered finish and wanted to play around with it more. This was a total experiment and ended up nothing like my sketches. Also, I had to actually do this on day 10. I went home for my dad’s birthday and didn’t make it back in time to get to the studio. 

day 10: journey

This is how I expected most of this challenge pieces to go: A simple frame shape with some wire decoration. I’m glad that didn’t pan out because it would be so boring! Fitting that the Journey necklace is where I realize that my projected path for the challenge has changed. This whole year has been a Journey in finding paths that aren’t right. It’s exciting to just keep experimenting!

Day 11: Keep

I had no idea what was going to happen with this one. My original designs were all over the place and I couldn’t decide what “keep” should stand for. I guess the wedding I was at this weekend was still in my mind, because the final design ended up being a pretty convincing cross/religious symbol, which was unintentional, but now I can’t un-see it… I guess is stands for “keep loving”.

day 12: link

I wanted to see if I could make a big dramatic chain. Turns out I can, but it’s a pain in the ass. The proportions are not what I had in mind, but I don’t hate it… I’m going to polish it some more and see if that helps. The chain just looks so busy, and I’d like to smooth out more of the tool marks on the links. I’m extremely happy that so many of these challenge designs are complete experiments! 

Day 13: Moment

This was an experiment to see if I could bend the copper tube I use before I hammered it flat, to get a flat shape. Turns out I can! But this is about as small as I can make it, in terms of circumference. I really liked the original sketch, and the final didn’t turn out exactly how I pictured. My biggest “error” was that I textured the ring before I attached the frame, so a lot of solder seeped out through the sides and I doubt I’ll be able to get it all off. I might add more solder to at least make it look intentional… I do like how the two metal colors play together, I just didn’t plan it.

The overall design was inspired by one big moment that radiates out through time, and through the rest of your life. Or maybe one small moment that you didn’t realize at the time, that would turn out to be a big moment. 

** After the challenge was over, I re-attempted this design. It came out way better and I’m so much happier with it. **

Day 14: Nonsense

I HAVE NEVER LOVED ANYTHING MORE THAN THIS! It’s playful, it’s fun, it’s got personality, and I just adore it! I am definitely going to make more of these after the challenge is over (and might keep this one for myself)! Besides having over a foot of copper in the frame, this one was a joy to make! The pieces just fell together, and it was surprisingly quick and rewarding soldering it all. I just want to hooold it! Once I fill it with concrete, it’s going to have the most perfect weight to it too. EEEeeeeee!

Design inspired by a scribble. Simple nonsense. The stuff our lives are filled with.

Day 15: OPen

A simple over-sized reminder to bring goodness into your life. Conceptually, it’s about being open to new ideas, new opportunities, and new adventures (even if they don’t look like adventures at the start).

I’ve been making bigger and bigger things lately. This one will have so much concrete texture, I won’t be able to stand it! It was a pretty simple design/build. It’s kind of funny how day 14 and day 15 ended up being so perfectly opposite. 

Day 16: Prowl

This just feels like a slinky, sneaky, design. I think of like, a panther on the prowl late at night. This is the first design I’ve ever done where I left a piece of tube un-smashed. (top center) I make all my frames with copper tube I hammer flat then form into shapes. I like hammering it because the edges are slightly irregular and I think it gives it a better, more imperfect feel. I’m going to wrap leather around this one to hang it, but I’ve never done it, so let’s see how it turns out!

Day 17: Queue

This has become one of my favorites so far! It’s so much copper! I really wanted to make a long pendant. It will have just a bit of concrete at the bottom, and it will add a perfect weight to the piece. I just think this one is graceful and I like it, not much else to say about it.

Day 18: Remind

Based around the times when your mind is wondering and you hear a certain word, and it sets you on a mental tangent and you end up back at a random specific memory. Weird things can put you on a mental journey, and this is a reminder of those reminders.

I’m very into twisting lately. I like the depth it adds to a piece, and the extra shine! I’m glad i went with the larger circle in the middle, it has an appropriate balance to it.

day 19: Stand

Went into the studio with no real sketches in my notebook for today. Stand is such a powerful idea. Stand in the way. Stand up for what you want. Stand even when you stand alone. And I didn’t have any sketches for that kind of power. I flipped through my notebook and found this one hanging around, so I figure I would give it a shot. 

Yeah, it could kind of look like a few things… But to me its about finding the strength to stand alone.

Day 20: Tired

I was totally not feeling the challenge today, but I promised, so I dragged myself into the studio and started smashing some copper. Ironically, today’s word was “tired” which was fitting for my mood. Also, the design was one I was really excited about working on.

Inspired by a really comfortably bed, when you just melt into the mattress. Plus I’ve always wanted to play around with multiple circles in my designs. I have a design for a really big necklace after this challenge is all over. 

While I’m not writing too much every day, I’m still happy I’m writing this. It shows me when I start to lose steam into a project. Hopefully I can use that to better plan moving forward on other big projects I work on.

UPDATE: I don’t know if it was the polishing or the finishing, but somewhere along the way, one of the solder joints in this necklace broke and the second circle from the left opened up. It’s never happened on a finished necklace, so I’m pretty fascinated! I’m going to see if I can fix it while the other 4 are still filled with concrete. Just another one of those times where everything is an experiment! 

day 21: Urge

I actually didn’t have a design in my notebook for today, so I flipped through my inspiration and found this sketch. I actually live streamed the whole thing! It was something I had been thinking about and wanted to try. It was super chill, just hanging out, listening to music, and making jewelry. (A huge thank you to those who joined in!) It was just my first stream, but I like the idea of “just hanging out” with all of you, so I’m going to do it some more before the challenge is over.

day 22: Voice

I attempted a set of open lips, but lips ended up being damn hard. So I made it a small little pendant, and I think it’s better. Your voice may be small, but it is yours. 

day 23: Wonder

Aw dang, I probably could have done something wonder woman related… But I haven’t seen the movie, so maybe not. Anyway! This is for the crooked paths we take, the unknowns we encounter, and the questions we ask along the way.

day 24: X

I’m really trying to use this square wire in a 3 dimensional way and it has just not worked out for me so far. (I attempted a ring earlier and it was NOT good.) So for this, I simplified it. It came out just as I planned, so hopefully it turns out as cool as I imagine it will, after I add concrete. 

Day 25: Yearn

Similar to 24, I used wire for its textural appeal. I actually melted a glob of copper for the center, and I don’t have a mold or anything, but it came out mostly round, so that’s good. I spent a lot of time polishing this one, and it feels so good to run your fingers over.

I’m getting to the point in the challenge, where I feel out of ideas, yet when I sit down at the table, something comes to me. I feel like when they just come to me, I don’t have time to flesh them out fully, or that they feel rushed. Idk how I feel about it. This one turned out pretty cool, but it’s getting to feel forced on my end, and I don’t want the designs to feel bland or uninspired.

Day 26: Zest

Ok, one of my favorite things in life is the professional, Vet-Approved answer: “zest for life” to the question: “why does my cat make so much noise at night?” If only we could all have as much zest as our cats. Inspired by the lemon zest in your favorite cocktail.

I have no idea how I’m going to finish and fill this with concrete. It is a problem I’m hoping resolves itself while I’m busy not thinking about it. 

And so ends the first 26 days of the 30 day challenge, aka, the alphabet portion. Yeah, I did the first 26 words in order. It was just as valid as any other reason. No one mentioned it, but towards the end there, I felt it was pretty obvious.

day 27: Drive

I really want to experiment with more copper and dainty concrete pieces. I really dig the balance and lightness of this design, and I can’t wait to try more after the challenge is over. 

Inspired by whatever that thing is that keeps you going, whether it’s donuts, determination, caffeine, or courage.

day 28: endure

Inspired by a blog post I read yesterday. You might feel little and frail and like a fraud. But instead of giving up and crumbling, you just seem to keep going. Keep doing work. Keep putting yourself out there. You can do it. You keep doing it.

You might feel small but someone thinks you’re a force to be reckoned with, and that someone is me.

DAY 29: Forget

I feel like forget is a really negative word. I wish it wasn’t. There are just times you wish you could forget, just like there are times you wish you could remember. There is forgiveness in forgetting. There are second chances and empathy. Forgetting is filled with new discoveries, fresh memories, and healing.

Design inspired by Day 18: the remind necklace.

Day 30: Guide

Inspired in part by the looseness and overlapping shapes prominent in my name-sake, Amelia Pelaez’s work, I wanted to end on a cumulative note, and to show how I’ve grown over the last 30 days. While it’s not my most advanced design, it starts to feel like my true style emerging. I should be using my materials to their full abilities. 

the end & beyond

So, how do I feel now that I successfully completed this challenge? Really proud. Seeing all these pieces together on my work table… it’s like… I can’t fully describe it. Of course I have favorites, but in so many, I was experimenting. And that feels fabulous. I was using copper in totally new ways. Sure sometimes it was novel, but there are some here that I fully intend on expanding on and further learning from. 

I think I’m most excited about the transformation of my personal style. Going from making 5 similar designs, to these 30 totally unique pieces, changed how I think about my work and how I make it moving forward. 

I want to keep experimenting and developing my style and this challenge was a perfect way to try a lot of things with no pressure. 

Practically, this was also really helpful in tracking my time and materials to get a better cost assesment for my jewelry. While not glamorous, it will be good data moving forward. 

Using Jewelry to Tell A Story

Using Jewelry to Tell A Story

I hate writing product descriptions, so I’ve decided that I don’t write product descriptions.

I write product stories. I write to create an emotional connection between you, and the design. I write to give this little piece of concrete and copper, a special place in your heart.

This time I wrote my stories a little bit differently. This time I wrote a short story, with each necklace being a piece of that story. Each represents a small vignette. A small piece of a good day. A small piece to remind you to enjoy the little things. 

Read their stories in order below. 


Beep. Beep. Beep. Bee… You turn over and raise your hand to your eyes to block the sun. You groan. Your feet on the cold wood floor as you shuffle to the bathroom. A quick shower has you awake, but not yet fully refreshed. While brushing your teeth, you debate even putting on eye-shadow today. The cat joins you on the sink, pawing at the faucet. You leave it dripping for her as you dry your hair. You run your fingers through it, stand up straight, puff out your chest, hands on your hips, and give yourself the most aggressive look you can muster up. The cat mews in approval. Today is a good day.


Coffee drips down the side of the pot as you set it back on the counter. Today is something special. You’re trying out a new blend from that cute little store on your commute home. It’s more expensive, but the associates know how their stuff, and they made you a special blend. Today you need the extra kick. The subtle flavors and spices roll around your tongue as you sip slowly, leaning against the counter. The cat weaves between your ankles. You put some food out for her and ruffle her head fluff a bit. You tell her your plans for the day. She mews in approval. You grab your keys and are out the door. Today is a good day.


There’s a pile of paperwork on your desk. You throw back the last sip of coffee before setting your cup down and getting to work. You get lost in your revisions. Your team is really killing it this quarter. You spend a minute being proud of what you’ve built. Next page, more revisions. You notice the time. You worked through lunch. You didn’t plan to work through lunch. But it happens often when work stops feeling like work. You grab your bag and head downstairs to see what the food trucks have to offer. Hell yeah taco truck. Today is a good day.


You balance your taco sampler on the edge of the truck’s window, reaching for your ringing phone. Just in time, You swipe it open and hold it under your ear with your left shoulder. Tacos in hand, you wave to the attendant and step back from the window, stopping for napkins and a splash of house-made hot sauce, on your way to an empty courtyard table. You brought some pages with you. ‘You are never not an editor’, you tell yourself. The call was a pitch for a new story. You flip over a sheet to the blank side and jot down a quick outline. Fitting in pieces as you move along the timeline in your mind. Balancing creative work and tacos is never an easy task, but damn, is it fulfilling. Today is a good day.


You wrap up today’s revisions and drop them off with the intern to distribute in the morning. Heels clicking across the marble lobby floor, you smile to the doorman as he sends you off. The best part about working late? You miss all the rush hour traffic. Home in record time, you notice a package at the door. Inside, you flip off your shoes, and rip open the box. It’s the album you ordered last week. You scurry to the console and place the needle on your new favorite record. Soft melodies surround you as you melt into the oversized throw pillows. The cat joins you. You ruffle her head fluff. She mews in approval. You are transported into a dreamy realm of magic and music. Today was a good day. 

I hope you remember to seek out small victories. To bask in little perfect moments.

I hope today was a good day.

All necklaces are listed in the shop. Each is one of a kind. Once it’s gone, its gone. 

Photo Journal – Charleston SC

Photo Journal – Charleston SC

I spent the weekend in Charleston, South Carolina for a Bachelorette Party, and I really fell in love with the city way more than I expected too. 

The weather was perfect. High 75, breezy, not too sunny or too cloudy. The perfect spring day. The food was amazing. And then the downtown. Holy shit, so much character and charm. I’ll let you look for yourself.

Downtown Charleston is a lot like New Orleans, but cleaner, and more manicured.

Quit Doing Shit You Hate!

Quit Doing Shit You Hate!

From August 20th until January 14th, I posted to this blog every single Thursday.

Along with half-assly posting to twitter, trying to grow my instagram, sending out too few emails to my wonderful Insiders, and not spending enough time making beautiful things.

Along with weekly check-ins with my fave #ladycreative, monthly meetings to plan our next steps, and still working 40+ hours at a real-ass job.

21 uninterrupted weeks of words from my keyboard.

21 Wednesday nights spent trying to get something out on time.

21 weeks spent dreading the blog post.

Then I took 2 weeks off. And I’m about to take a lot more time off.

Why the change? 

Well, I learned I really loved writing off-the-cuff, bullet style narratives. (Like this one. Ta-da)

I learned I could happily sit down and write vaguely appropriate content about life or my experiences as a creative, but I dreaded writing content just to pitch you my newest thing.

I learned I loved styling my pieces, because I finally started to understand how my jewelry fits into this much larger picture of personal style.

Then it happened, I read this eye-opening piece from Regina. (Are we really surprised here? Regina = Goddess) 

And I was given permission to actually evaluate what I want to do, and how I want to do it.

Read that again.

Evaluate what I want to do, and how I want to do it.

I took Regina’s blogging evaluation, and realized, that NO, I DO NOT:

  • Enjoy researching and writing about topics, concepts, products, or people.
  • Enjoy strategy and planning–you love organizing written materials.
  • Want to express your views online and limiting it to “traditional” social media alone is not enough.

With Regina’s evaluation of why you should blog, I gave myself permission to stop blogging.

When I started this way back when, everyone was blogging. 

I loved reading blogs. And all my favorite people were good at it.

Therefore I must blog. To drive traffic. To get featured. To get exposure.

Hits. Page views. Unique visitors. Sponsorships. Adds. Affiliate links. Click to tweet. Hashtag. Community. Tribe. Opt-ins. 

Buzzword bullshit that is honestly, one big circle-jerk.

Don’t buy-in, if it doesn’t make sense.

I sell jewelry. Just look at it, and if you like it buy it.

I didn’t need to blog.

I didn’t need to drive traffic, or master SEO, or create useless opt-ins to grow my list.

I need to focus on images and story telling.

I need to focus on creating a narrative around my work. People love stories.

People connect with stories.

Not with top 10 lists. Not with 3 things you must to do grow your blah blah blah. 

So, I decided to stop sticking to a blogging schedule.

I would blog when I wanted to.

About the things I wanted to.

No pressure. No judgment. No stress. 

And oh my god, I wanted to scream, to cry, to run around with my hands in the air.

It was such an overwhelming sense of freedom. Pure bliss.

And pure anger, thinking about all the time I invested in writing this blog, and seeing almost nothing in return.

When I could have been working on something else.

When I could have been happier doing anything else.

So I got permission, owned my decision, and took my own advice.

I stopped doing shit I hated.

And I bet there is something in your life you can stop doing too.

I dare you to find it.

(and then tweet it at me cause we are bff’s now and I wanna give you a high-five, fist bump, bear hug!)

Just Learning this Shit as I Go

Welp, today is my 27th birthday. I have no experience to qualify me to be older. I did not apply for it, ask for it, pay for it, or prove my worth to get it, yet here I am, with no control over it, finding myself another year older. 

What a nice number though, 27. It has an evenness to it. A nice balance. Anyway, I like to wait until my birthday to review the year, see what I learned, and see where I’m going. 

If 25 was trans-formative (think: buy a house, get a new job), then 26 was a intro into real life. I did little things around the house, like filling it with more animals. Dealt with losing a few loved ones. Hit up some weddings. Attended my first big craft show. 26 was a glimpse into what life is really about. Ups, downs, sometimes in control, most often not.

26 became about finding a groove, and adapting to what was happening around me. It’s a powerful feeling, going through life, knowing you can handle the next curve in the road, trusting your co-pilot, figuring out life’s turbulence together. 

So here are 26 things that I figured out along the way. In no particular order really:

  1. Not everything is about you. People have a million other things going on in their lives. Live more in yours and less in theirs. 
  2. Don’t put up with bullshit. Mistakes happen. People get busy. But some stuff is bullshit, so don’t waste your time thinking about it.
  3. Make more things with your hands. Take something that was purely an idea and make it real. Then show people.
  4. Don’t mentally masturbate. Either do the thing or don’t. But thinking about the thing will only get you so far.
  5. Eat your veggies. Find one or two you love, figure out how to cook them. And eat up.
  6. Spend money on experiences. And take all the pictures. Make all the memories you can.
  7. Clean up after yourself. You’re really an adult now. This should go without saying. So why is it so difficult. 
  8. Find someone who ”gets” you. No one does anything alone. Find someone who will help you refine your brilliant ideas, and call out your bullshit on the bad ones. 
  9. Pets change your worldview. Have something else that relies on you. Something waiting for you to get home from work. A warm fuzzy body to relax with is so worth the cost of pet food.
  10. Lift more weights. Feel stronger. Feel better. Make time for it. Enjoy it. Make life easier.
  11. Probably drink less diet coke. But whatever. It makes you happy. I’m not here to judge.
  12. Don’t do shit you hate. Seems simple enough, but how many of us suffer through unending bullshit? Stop doing it, just to see what happens. 
  13. Experiment more. Fiddle with things. Smash things together and see what happens. Take notes.
  14. Be god damn nice to people. There’s rarely an excuse to be mean or rude or short. Even if they are shit to you, your positive attitude could turn around their whole day. 
  15. Wear comfortable shoes. Get some gorgeous ones and rock them. 
  16. Buy art you like. It could be $10 from the thrift store or $600 from a local artist’s exhibit. But do it.
  17. Stick with something. Commit something and follow through. You’ll be more upset if you don’t. 
  18. Do extra-curriculars for your career. Find peers in your profession and do shit together. Network without pressure. You’re probably more similar than you think. 
  19. Make more time for your relationship. Date nights are important. Sleeping together is important. Listening is important. Support is important. Being lazy together is important too. 
  20. Pay off debt when you get money unexpectedly. Splurge on one thing, but put the majority into paying off debt or into savings. If not, it just slips away.
  21. Find something you really like doing. And do that thing. Make time for it. Schedule it. Appreciate it. Plan for it. Reward yourself with it. Invest time and money into it. Share it. 
  22. Honestly, one more piece of candy won’t kill you. Make it something you really enjoy, not something that is just convenient. 
  23. Take out the trash. Its like 50ft to the curb. Drag your shit down there. Come on. Really.
  24. Learn to write better. Communication is all we have. Choose your words carefully. Watch out for spelling. Connect with people on a deeper level. Say fuck a lot.
  25. Realize 26 things is a lot of things. Why do people do a thing per year. Maybe don’t do this next year. Realize this is a long list.
  26. Have fun with it! Seriously. You can’t go back. You can’t change it. You can only move forward and choose how you life your life. 

What do you reflect on in the new year? How you could have been better? Or how you are going to be better? By the things you didn’t do, or the things you did? 

A few things for 27:
Read more.
Cook more.
Play more.
Learn more.

THE END: Top 21 VSCO Cam Presets: The Ultimate Round-Up

THE END: Top 21 VSCO Cam Presets: The Ultimate Round-Up

It’s only fitting that my final review of VSCO Cam Presets goes out on the final day of 2015.

Here we are for the final final installment of the VSCO Cam Guide. It’s been a trip, but there’s finally the light at the end of the tunnel. 

Head to the intro to see the complete 10 Part series, and for a more in-depth look at all the presets. 

For this ranking, I entered every preset into a bracket style, single elimination, head to head showdown. I am happy to present the best of the best, the top 21 VSCO Cam presets!

 The head-to-head bracket. 
The head-to-head bracket. 

I divided them into 5 general categories.
Black and White: All the black and white presets.
Extreme: Those that were on the extreme side of the cool or warm scale.
Cool: Cool filters, with blue or purple over tones.
Warm: Warm filters, with yellow or red over tones.
Neutral: Those that balance both cool and warm tones without being too distracting.

I then narrowed it down to the top 3 B&W, top 3 Extreme, and the top 5 of the Cool, Warm, and Neutral presets. This was mostly done by gut reaction and first impressions. Also, these are my personal favorites, but I tried to include a variety of tastes. Consider this my top 21 of the 100+ presets available (at the time of writing). 

Without further adieu, the 21 Best VSCO Cam Presets!

All pictures can be clicked to expand them.


03: Simply my favorite black and white. Highlights are there, shadows are dark, and there’s a ton of gray in-between. Classic and perfect and neutral. 

Original Review: Similar to 01 except it has an even higher contrast. I like how it brightens skin and evens complexions. It results in very clean, crisp, images that I find visually and graphically interesting

B3: Similar to 03 and probably inspired by it. Less contrast than 03 so more sublte details remain, like in the clouds, and the edge of the water. 

Original Review: Almost no added exposure, Even more true to tone and color. Rounds out a pack of 3 very basic, and dependable black and white filters. 

B4: I loved how dark and graphic this preset gets. I would never actually use it for this image since so many details are lost, but I love how dramatic it is. 

Original Review: Focus on contrast and saturation. You will lose details in the dark shaded areas, but it creates a striking image. Does retail details in the lighter values though.


P1: I love the ‘far away-ness’. It feels so very Polaroid, which makes sense since it’s the first preset of the Instant Collection. Creamy buttery overtones, and soft blue water. It’s too strong for everything, but definitely has it’s place when recreating a memory.

Original Review: An overall warm filter, the least pure yellow of the 3. Another good sunny day attitude filter. 

P4: Cool filters are by definition kind of sad feeling, and this is the most extreme of the cool filters. That being said, I love the atmosphere around this image. It’s very refreshing and crisp, even if it is a touch somber.

Original Review: This is a very icy blue filter that brightens and washes out a little bit. 

C5: Sunny and warm. Similar to P1, but blues are more green/yellow than blue. Love the positive atmosphere surrounding the picture, and the fact that it seems to perfectly capture a hot summer morning.

Original Review: Very similar in effect to C4, except that it is a very warm filter. Makes pictures comforting and cozy, without the flatness of a traditional “sepia” filter. Would make a great go-to warm filter. It’s a little strong, but not in a bad way.


Q4: To me, it’s exactly what you want in a cool filter. Crisp whites, skin still looks like skin, and the whole image feels refreshing without being sterile. 

Original Review:  Hmm, not blue, not yellow, but white it seems. Brightens and heavy contrast. Brings out a few details, but so un-humanizing. Love it for landscapes though. Probably cooler than I would go normally, but the flamingos are wonderful soft little blips on the horizon and I love it. 

HB2: Highlight’s pop while the rest of the image plays along nicely. Brings out the details in the darker areas. Relaxing and peaceful. 

Original Review: I found it was good to skintones, retained and enhances colors, and generally brightens. Similar to A6 but has higher contrast. 

J4: A more muted cool filter with a bit of a fade. Creates a distinct sadness and softness to an image. Also has an all over touch of rose that I appreciate in a cool filter. 

Original Review: A saturated, light preset with yellow undertones with saturated blacks. Actually pretty similar to J1 with a higher exposure. 

E6: Similar to J4, in that it’s a muted cool filter, but E6 retains more of the citrus tones in skin. Love the depth of the water and the softness of the sky.

Original Review: Ok wow, a very cool filter. Skin is left visibly blue in light places, so maybe not the best preset for people. But I do love how it makes the flamingos pop in the landscape image. Colors are left with a blue tint, and it results in pretty “mysterious” imagery.

E3: Very very similar to E6, they are from the same family after all. But E3 over-processes skin tones, and that could be a bit harsh. I love the contrast between the deep blue water and the overly-warm skin though. 

Original Review: A cool filter. I love cool filters so much. May be overly cool for some scenarios, and could leave skin a little sickly. But I find that overall its a well rounded blue filter that adds a “far away/overcast” feel to images. 


S4: I’m just going to say it. THIS is the perfect warm filter. Happy, sunny, bright, not overly saturated, or overly orange. It makes me happy just looking at it. 

Original Review: Washes out and loses some mid-range definition. Probably good for low light outdoor photos. 

Q10: Yay for pink filters! I am having a total obsession with rose hued images right now. And I love how creamy this one is. 

Original Review: So this must be what its like to see through rose colored glasses. Creates a very welcoming image. Similar to Q3 in that it’s easy on the contrast, creating a somewhat flat image. 

Q1: Almost the same at Q10 but without the pink. Color values are almost the same. A nice alternative that doesn’t feel overly processed. 

Original Review: Brightens highlights and mid-tones. Adds a soft golden glow. Creates kind of dreamy landscapes. 

E2: Slightly yellow overtones. Q10, Q1, and E2 could all be the same effects but with different tints. Retains good color depth and variation.

Original Review: A pretty neutral filter. Does add slight, pleasant warmth to skin tones, but leaves landscapes pretty realistic. Nothing too drastic all around, enhances, but minds it own business. Probably the most true to color of all the E series.

P9: Probably should have been on the extreme list, but I like it’s commitment. Creates a distinct atmosphere to the image. Kind of like looking back in a hungover stupor.

Original Review: Another yellow! I really don’t love yellow filters, but for some landscape photography or when people aren’t the subject matter, it adds a very interesting glow and depth to pictures. 


LV1: Damn you guys, I would have never thought the most versatile, best all around preset, would be free. The perfect blend of cool and warm, light and dark, saturation and contrast. 

Original Review: A filter that does what you usually do anyway to edit a photo. Tweaks the exposure, contrast, and saturation. Doesn’t really mess with color hue or temperature. 

C8: Does what it sets out to do. The details are there with a full range of color. Makes an image better, and without too much added personality. 

Original Review: Doesn’t do anything to striking. A good brightness and contrast enhancement. Leaves most colors alone, but over-exaggerates the “blue” in blues and greens. Love that it doesn’t leave skin to sterile.  

K3: You know how much I love this filter. I think it does the most perfect things to the blues and adds rosy tints to the highlights. Best of both worlds. 

Original Review: Blues are bluer while still being a deep, warm overall filter. Doesn’t brighten as much as it enhances contrast and depth. It’s pretty much the only filter I use on the shop Instagram because it’s a great “general” enhancer, and adds just enough personality. 

N3: Faded and yellow/green, the brightest of the neutrals. I like how it feels the tiniest bit exaggerated and immersive. 

Original Review: Warm filter. Pleasantly fades and softens skin tones. Enhances color vibrancy and tone.

E1: Similar to K3 but brighter. Slight purple tint, but overall it adapts to the mood of the image. 

Original Review: A pleasant glow on skin-tones. Deepens shadows and makes subjects pop. I personally really love cool landscapes, so this one is a total win in my book. Doesn’t get too crazy with exposure or contrast.

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Permission to be choosy.

Permission to be choosy.

I’m choosy with my time. I choose who I invest my time with, who I invest my emotions on, and who I invest my money for.  So why are the holidays open season for spending time with people you can’t stand?

I read a really great newsletter from Caroline at Made Vibrant about getting rid of your expectations for the holidays to remove some of the stress. Everyone strives for the ‘perfect’ dinner, the ‘perfect’ gift, the ‘perfect’ pie. When we all know ‘perfect’ is bullshit.

So, why do the holidays turn us into crazy perfection monsters, and how the fuck to we navigate the minefield of family, friends, co-workers, and social obligations?

Why do you get to choose what you do the other 11 months, but come winter its back to tradition, routine, and obligations?

I’m not saying I have all the answers, I’m not even saying I have the right answers. But I do like to ask questions.

And I think we should be able to pick and choose our holiday events too.

No, I don’t want to go to your office Christmas party where Doug from HR gets too handsy.
Yes, I will meet you to go ice skating under the stars.
No, I don’t have an ugly sweater, and I’m not riffling through 3 thrift shops just for you.
Yes, I will come over and drink with you and your cats, while we play Cards Against Humanity.

And what do you do when the obligations you want to avoid are family? The in-laws? The siblings?

How do you say, “No. Your Christmas is always a drama filled, alcohol induced nightmare, and I choose not to object myself to that this year”? …Well, I guess you could say it like that…

Maybe next year we all just say fuck it and head to the Bahamas for Christmas. 

How do you measure success?

How do you measure success?

So, Renegade Craft Fair came and went.

I spent November in a blur of wood chips, concrete dust, and ink splatters. 

I built a display from scratch. Then a rolling storage unit. Then some signs.

I painted my logo bigger than my face. Twice. 

I bought a new printer, then printed 100+ brochures.  I handed out maybe 10. 

I inked quotes until my fingers were black. Then I kept going. 

I packed my entire booth in my hatchback.

I drove 7 hours in the rain.

I stood in heels for 9 hours. I still can’t feel my toes. 

I sold fucking prints hand over fist. I spent a night making more, then spilled my entire bottle of ink on my black jeans. 

I painted a custom quote that almost made me cry. 

I found people. I found people who my words resonated with. I found my people.

I met some amazing makers. New ones and ones I’ve insta-stalked for ages. 

I barely saw Austin. I spent 90% of my trip at the fair or in my hotel room. I was too exhausted. Too emotionally spent to even attempt to explore the city like I planned. 

I became angry and bitter when we couldn’t decide on a place to eat. I have a man who understands me and did all of the decision making after that.

I went to a restaurant where 50% of the things included fennel for some reason. I walked out of that restaurant. 

I spent an evening at Buffalo Wild Wings because I couldn’t find the LSU bar. I had a really shitty hamburger. Then watched a really emotional football game.

I cried when I thought I had watched my coach’s last game. Then cried again in my hotel room when I learned it wasn’t.

I stood in flats for 9 hours.

I sold prints faster than I could make them.

I heard a British lady say the word c*nt. And it was glorious

I made money. I made the most money I’ve ever made in a weekend. But it didn’t come close to covering my total costs. It didn’t even come close to 4 digits.

I had the best pizza I have ever eaten.

I slept better than I ever have.

I drove 7 hours in the rain.

I’m mixing the highlights and the disappointments because that’s life. That’s how we experience it. Bouncing from awesome adventure to huge let-down and back.

If you asked me today if I would do this trip over again, I honestly don’t know what I would say. Probably? Maybe? Ok sure? 

We put a monetary value on everything because it’s easy. But only because I can’t tell you the value of the gift a grieving daughter will receive from her best friend. I can’t tell you the value of instant customer feedback. I can’t tell you the value of rocking my first out-of-state market. I can’t tell you the value of the best fucking pizza ever. (Actually, it was $9.50)

What I can say, is that monetarily, it was a loss. I spent more than I made. Black and White.

But if I don’t act on all the things I learned. All the progress I’ve made. All the feedback I received. Then, and only then, will it truly be a loss.

Its all about what you do with it.

The Problem with Guilty Pleasures

The Problem with Guilty Pleasures

I like the thing. You like the thing. So why are we afraid to own up to it? Think about the connections we’re missing out on by not being open about what makes us happy.

The internet describes a guilty pleasure as “something, such as a movie, television program, or piece of music, that one enjoys despite feeling that it is not generally held in high regard.”

As someone masquerading as an “adult woman”, I shouldn’t admit that I enjoy listening to The Backstreet Boys, and I certainly shouldn’t brag about driving 5 hours to see them in concert last summer. They are an aging boy band from the 2000s, and real adults listen to easy listening or something. But fuck that. They’re awesome and Brian is my secret lover. BSB stirs up fond memories of singing too loudly in my room, and squealing with my girl friends when we got the newest Teen Bop magazine.

There is something inherently negative about the term “guilty pleasure”. Guilt implies that you’ve done something wrong, but there’s never anything wrong with enjoying life.

Why shouldn’t I own my love of new millennium pop? Why should hide this piece of my personality to make others more comfortable, or out of fear that they will judge me negatively? Who am I to censor my life. Loving pop music doesn’t make me worse at my job. It has no effect on my relationship. It doesn’t make my jewelry any less awesome. What it does, is help me connect with others. And isn’t that really the goal?

I once had a friend tell me her guilty pleasure was listening to Papa Roach, we high-fived, proceeded to rock out to Last Resort, and now I think of her whenever that song comes on. We share that connection.

Another friend hesitates to admit to his coworkers that he plays video games. Even though it has connected him with people all over the world, and made him more involved in his relationship.

So while you might be embarrassed to admit that you play with miniatures, there are thousands of overweight grown men, proud to show off their painted shirtless chests and cheer for other, more athletic grown men. 

My challenge is for you to own your guilty pleasures, like grown men own their team colors.