Compass Rose Design Jewelry

Valentine's Day Sale

Need something for your Valentine? Save 15% on your order through 2/5 with code: SWEETHEART

 We have a beautiful selection of scarlet red Czech glass button necklaces in the Valentines Day Collection

vintage czech glass button necklace in scarlet red

Your guy will love our typewriter XO cuff links - made with genuine vintage typewriter keys.

Valentines Day vintage XO typewriter cuff links


Written by L.C. Van Houten — January 24, 2015

Holiday Sale!

Save 20% in our online shop through Tuesday 12/1 with code: SHOPSMALL

Written by L.C. Van Houten — November 30, 2015

Custom Project 31 - Shoe Buckle, Bracelet, Broken Watch, Key

We finished up some custom work for one of our regular customers that was one of my favorite projects so far! This project was a classic case of transforming things languishing in a drawer into wearable, usable heirloom designs to be worn and enjoyed!


The customer wanted to add the watch to the bracelet and to come out with a few pieces to share with her daughter. I found a similar watch with crystal embellishment and added the extra bracelet gemstone as an accent to make a complete set. For the shoe buckle, I added two matching vintage watch bands and the effect is stunning.

The key was a simple celebration of U of M - an old key kept for years transformed into something wearable. Industrial but elegant.

So happy with the results!!

Do you have a family treasure you'd like to make wearable?

Contact us about custom projects!

or Shop Now!

Written by L.C. Van Houten — May 04, 2015

Summer Limeade with mint

This is my favorite summer refresher to make with my nephews. Nothing beats fresh cool citrus with a touch of mint! While waiting for more of the lemons to ripen in the backyard, I used limes and it was delightful! Also goes well with sparkling water and can easily be made into a cocktail!

Summer Lemonade or Limeade with Mint
(makes about six servings)

5 lemons or limes, juiced
4 - 5 tablespoons sugar  
2 cups mint leaves, densely packed
1 quart (4 cups) water
A few extra lime slices and mint leaves, for garnish
1.     Put all ingredients, except for the water, in a pitcher or large Mason jar.
2.     Muddle the sugar, mint and lime juice together until the mint leaves have been reduced by half and the sugar has blended well with the lime juice.
3.     Add the water.
4.     Taste, and adjust ingredients as needed, adding more lime or more sugar or more water to taste.
5.     Let the mixture cool in the fridge for at least an hour.
6.     Strain the mint leaves out.
7.     Pour into glasses of ice and enjoy!

Written by L.C. Van Houten — May 01, 2013

DIY Vintage Watch Photo Locket Bracelets

Learn how to make vintage photo locket bracelets with old wrist watches and your favorite antique photos. I love old photos - they offer passage to a past world and a view into a moment frozen in time. Look at the small details - the shoes, the hands, the detailing on the dresses for clues into the daily lives of the sitter.  Making a vintage photo locket bracelet takes just a few materials is a wonderful way to make a memorable keepsake or a vintage fashion accessory.


But here's the thing. I'm not using these photos in my bracelet project - they're too historical and valuable and I just can't bring myself cut them up! There is also a practical reason, that cutting the photo to fit the watch case is not always an exact science, and it would be rather tragic to cut the photo and not be able to use it. It's also really special to use photos of family members for remembrance - I made one with my grandmothers engagement photo that I was able to resize from an 8x10 to a keepsake bracelet. 

Simple solution: use printouts! Simply scan and print the photos you want to use. 300 dpi works well and I do mine in the original color to preserve the sepia, rather than using straight black and white. You also have the advantage of adjusting size with a basic photo editor. Measure the watch case and make sure your photos are the right size - with the central image usually about .75-1 wide and tall. 

Before cutting, I trace the watch case as a guide then cut the shape slightly inside the line. Just prior to inserting the photo, I add a dab or tacky glue or glue stick to help the photo stay put. Then gently insert the photo - it's ok if the edges of the paper bend a tiny bit on the way in. Use your fingernail or a clean pencil eraser to press the edges flat and then snap the case closed. 


Written by L.C. Van Houten — February 16, 2015

Custom Project 29 - Upcycling Mom's broken watches

We were recently approached by one of our regular customers who had a plastic sandwich bag full of broken jewelry from her mother, including several lovely but broken watches and some other pieces. Her mother was still alive and she was looking to make custom projects for three generations in the family, grandmother, herself and her college-aged daughter. 


She remembered her mom wearing these timepieces, but none of them worked. We added two more movements to make a lovely watch bracelet, still one of my favorite designs.

One of the watches (not shown above) had lovely crystal inlay design. Even though some of the crystals were missing, it was full of sentiment. I added a coordinating Victorian button to make an eye-catching bracelet. She loved it!

The last piece in the set started as a fairly worn watch, not even of particularly high quality, but a family keepsake. We transformed this from a broken watch with a torn leather band, into an elegant gold and navy blue crystal set for her daughter.

The final product with matching earrings. 

Do you have a family treasure you'd like to make wearable?

Contact us about custom projects!

or Shop Now!

Written by L.C. Van Houten — January 28, 2015

Home Improvement: DIY Repurposed Hanging Pot Racks

We're finally finished with summer shows and have some time to do fall cleaning and some projects around the house. Item one - hanging pot rack to free up some cabinet space in the kitchen. 

A good pot rack is hard to find. I've been researching pot racks online for a while and they seem to fall into 3 main categories:

1. Fancy There are the fancy upscale heavy duty iron behemoths that run $400-1500. If I lived in a chateau or had a giant kitchen and was filthy rich - maybe but probably not. 

2. Generic  Then there's the basic models available at Bed Bath and Beyond, Macys, Target, etc, all made overseas, and all overpriced for the quality at $50-350. Still to expensive for something not that interesting:



3. Etsy  And, then there's etsy, which had lots of great options if you like things that are bulky or made from recycled ladders.  Some were interesting, but too bulky or too industrial or too vintage. 

SO - we decided to head to our local hardware store, which also has a vintage/junk/recycling area, to see if we could find an interesting piece of wood. We spent about half an hour sifting through old banisters and doors and every manner of junk and came out with nothing. There was one last room to check with indoor furniture. I'd previously found a panel from a Victrola phonograph that continues to delight, so we figured it was worth a look. We were rewarded!

First, among the old picture frames and tool boxes and an assortment of lamp bases, was a piece of iron wood crown molding. It's a center cut piece with hand cut front detail and you can still see the tool cuts - at least a century old. Bargain price, $30. Then, hanging on a rack of crummy aluminum levels was an antique wooden level with faded aqua paint. One of the three glass vials was busted but the other two were intact and it had beautiful brass hardware. Bargain price of $3.

We picked out some basic hardware and went to work, well, Johnny went to work. We spaced the eye-hooks about 7 inches apart. 


Final Result: The ironwood crown molding:

and the vintage level:

Two of the glass vials still have bubbles in them - the effect is fantastic. The faded grey blue goes well in the kitchen. 

We're really happy with the result! Functional repurposed items that are not overwhelming. More storage in the cabinets and easy access to the pots and pans we use most. 

Making our space more functional and enjoyable makes me want to be productive! 

...and we're having a September Sale!

Save 20% off your next purchase in September with code SEPTEMBER20



Written by L.C. Van Houten — September 22, 2014

Backstage at Compass Rose Design

We've been traveling every weekend doing shows for the last EIGHT weekends and it's SO nice to be home! Time to recover, rest, clean shop and give some love to our withering garden. Of course - family first! We took the first few days after a great summer season to introduce our nephew to backpacking. He's seven - right at that perfect age where he wants to be a skater but also likes holding hands. His finger puppet squirrel was a constant companion.  

Finally had time to deep clean the studio and really get organized! We're in the camp that celebrates creative organized organic chaos, albeit regulated. See this great article on creative spaces or the PBS American Masters Documentary on Charles and Ray Eames for further evidence that "clean" isn't "better." But it sure is pleasant.

I tend to have several projects going at once, but we separate work spaces by medium - beading, chain and wire, metalwork etc.

We work with a million tiny pieces. We love what we do.

Drills, punches, hammers and protective eyewear - tools of the trade!

ok friends, back to work!

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Written by L.C. Van Houten — August 21, 2014

Summer Road Trips: Renegade LA, Urban Air Market PDX

We've been traveling a lot this summer and loving it. We had a fantastic time in Los Angeles at Renegade Craft Fair. Despite the 90 degree heat and humidity, we completely enjoyed the weekend. 

And of course, since we love beer, we enjoyed visiting a couple local startup breweries including Eagle Rock Brewing and a local gastropub, York

After some catch up in the studio, we headed up to Portland for Urban Air Market. The event was right along the river with fantastic views of downtown and, well, everything.

One of the aspects we love about being on the road is connecting with people. It's been a real joy to see all the kinds of folks who see themselves in our work. 

We continue to delight in the fact that our jewelry helps people feel confident, beautiful and to honor their past relatives and memories. 

check out our events schedule for upcoming shows!

Written by L.C. Van Houten — August 06, 2014