Compass Rose Design Jewelry

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!

Hey! subscribe to our newsletter!

Find us on Facebook or Shop Now!

 

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

Custom Project #27 - Wedding Charm Bracelet

Last week, I got a thick package in the mail. Inside were a collection of travel tokens collected for a best friend's wedding. The bride and groom love vintage - not faux vintage, but the real thing. They're getting married in an old train station and arriving in a beautiful old Studebaker, restored by the groom himself. I love this couple - even having never met them, I adore them and was honored to work on the project!

We kept it simple - starting with the tokens from Santa Cruz, San Diego, Sacramento, San Mateo and Crescent City, all from significant places in the couple's love story. 

My goal was to make a keepsake bracelet with just the right balance of artifacts and comfort. I added several treasures to balance the bracelet:

- An antique keepsake case key from the Paris flea market
- two Victorian buttons (1860-1920) for a touch of sparkle and story
- a two-sided vintage typewriter charm with the bride and groom's initials
- 1880's inspired clock clasp to celebrate many years together

So happy with how this turned out! 

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 — June 18, 2014

Family Keepsakes - Custom Project #23

Jewelry is infused with sentimentality and memory. Since the inception of adornment, jewelry has been much more than decoration. These wearable keepsakes are at the center of what we care about and why we work with historic objects. We do many custom projects with family heirlooms, but this latest one is perhaps one of the most meaningful.

We recently worked on a project for a dear family friend, more of an auntie, my mom's oldest friend. My mom passed away several years ago at 59 - too young, but she infused me and all the people in her life with a deep sense of loving honesty. My mom had many strong friendships that lasted multiple decades in her life, but Kemay knew her longest. They met in college when one of them got stuck with a roommate she didn't click with and the other had a roommate that had just moved out to get married. They instantly connected and later that night, though my mom usually went to bed early, Kemay came to her door and knocked. My mom was up late writing a paper and they just decided to be friends.

Below, My mom (left) and Kemay (right) at my brother's birthday party in the late 1970s.

My mom (left) and Kemay (right) at my brother's birthday party in the late 1970s.

Johnny and I visited Kemay recently and she gave me a project. In a small weathered paper bag, she had her father's uniform buttons and wanted to make them into a necklace for her. 

I've been doing beadwork for 15 years, though I've tended towards metal for the last several years. The timing of Kemay's necklace was rather wonderful, as I recently started doing more beadwork, like this Greek Revival agate watch fob signet with malachite and onyx.

This custom project awoke my inner beadwork aficionado and I've been beading ever since! I had to do a double strand to stabilize the buttons, a well-known beading technique, and really happy with the results!

and a close - up:

Then I just kept going. This technique allows me to use buttons I have saved for years that don't work with our other designs. 

Interested in a custom project - email us! 

Check out our latest events schedule or shop online.

Have you signed up for our newsletter? What are you waiting for!

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

Santa Fe Road Trip

Santa Fe is one of our favorite places. It is old in a way that swallows you up and reminds you that the Boston Tea Party and the Gold Rush are rather recent. After a great Renegade Craft Faire in Austin, Texas, we headed to Santa Fe to unwind for a few days. 

It's a beautiful old city, where the stubbornness of history perseveres in spite of kitsch and caricature.

The collision of Spanish Empire and indigenous Pueblo cultures and the United States has left a tragic but often beautiful cultural landscape in its wake.

As an unexpected surprise, we ended up having small collections of our work invited into two galleries in Santa Fe!

Gallery Cruz on Canyon Road.

and POP Gallery Downtown on Lincoln St.

After Santa Fe, we visited Petroglyph National Monument on a whim, which was oddly located the sprawling growth of suburban track developments that have enveloped it. But the experience of how recent America really is, in the grand scheme of things, is always humbling to remember. 

And we stopped at the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert. We always enjoy road trips and the unexpected adventures they bring. This trip inspired a great deal of thought and inspiration about the type of creative work we want to do and the vision for our small business.  

and Pecos National Historic Monument

and Billy the Kid's grave, which is sad because of the Fort Sumner history,

but had this fantastic antique phone operator station. 

We OF COURSE did some antiquing along the way - and came back with an assortment of treasures to make into wearable keepsakes!

Check out our latest events schedule or shop online if we're not coming to your area.

Have you signed up for our newsletter? What are you waiting for!

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

Renegade Austin - Top 5 List

We're back from our trip to Austin for Renegade Craft Fair. It's the farthest we've travelled for a show and the first time either Johnny or I had been farther east than Santa Fe. In short - we had an amazing time.  

The people were fantastic and the neighborhoods outside downtown were delightful. We stayed off Southern Congress, which is basically not so different from Portland or Santa Cruz or Eugene.

Some of our favorites things about Austin:

1. Cow Skulls  

They really were everywhere.

Fantastic Yards & Yard Art

I loved that a lot of the houses in neighborhoods outside downtown had art and interesting fixtures with an industrial flair. Some were more artsy and some were refined - all pretty fantastic.  

I loved this tumbled beach glass used as gravel.

3. Tex Mex - a different flavor than New Mexico or California! 

Here's a great blog about Austin Street Style during SXSW

4. Cowboy boots and vintage clothing to die for!

Of course we stopped at Allen Boots. Here is where I discovered that my taste far outweighs my budget. 

The SoCo district was full of fantastic vintage shops. 

5. Food Trucks! Torchy's Tacos was totally a favorite and was just a couple blocks from where we stayed so we became fast friends. The food truck scene was way ahead of San Francisco and much closer to Portland in the variety and quality.

Fried Chicken and BBQ, also just as good as we'd hoped! And the craft beer selection was extensive, even at tiny restaurants and holes in the wall. 

In short - if you have the chance to go - do it!!! 

Stay tuned for details about our trip to Santa Fe and the Painted Desert.

 

 

Written by L.C. Van Houten — April 08, 2014

Inspired by the Maker Faire

The East Bay Mini Maker Fair was amazing. The Maker Faire (project of MAKE Magazine) is continuing to grow and capture some of our favorite cultural trends.  You'll find hardcore Silicon Valley scientists and engineers, burning man folks, lego aficionados, renaissance fair and cos play fans in full attire, educators and and their kids. Everyone is making things. Taking things apart. Problem-solving. Cooperating. Innovating. 

Sabrina Merlo / East Bay Mini Maker Faire

(photo by Sabrina Merlo / East Bay Mini Maker Faire)

Johnny and I brought our history-laden jewelry and a BUNCH of maker kits to encourage the next generation of makers. Both Johnny and I started making and disassembling as young people and encouraging kids to MAKE things has become increasingly significant to us. We did not expect to become full time-makers. Both Johnny and I have had an inquiry of "is it ok to be a maker?" Our parents hoped we would have jobs where we wore suits, and we have ended up running a small business recycling tiny antique objects into jewelry. We use our hands and our brains to do soldering and marketing and have found ways to work hard and have a balanced life. As we've realized that the answer is an emphatic YES, we want to encourage young people to cultivate their own skills. You never know where your skills will lead you!

 

Our work is inspired by the history of technology. Yes - the result is wearable sparkly interesting jewelry, but each piece originates at a specific moment in the history of technology and culture. We made a couple of displays for kids and parents to read.

Several weeks after the East Bay Maker Faire, we sent a collection of watches and buttons and historical tidbits to Johnny's sister and her first grade class. They were studying "The Past" so we sent some basic daily objects from the Victorian era that would help them understand how technology and daily life change.

Apparently, it was a big hit. We realized that encouraging young people to have the confidence to make, to see things in a different way, and to engage with history - is important. Understanding the past is important as well. 

With joy in our hearts, starting in 2014, we will be donating a percentage of our profits to the Maker Fair organization in hopes that it continues to grow and inspire young and old makers to discover the joy and necessity of experimenting and innovating and making, which often includes taking things apart. We'll announce the donation when we finish our taxes in April!

Thank you Maker Faire community!

 

 

Written by L.C. Van Houten — January 23, 2014

Victorian Pocket Watch Fob Jewelry

The excavation of ancient sites in Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Egypt in the mid 1700s influenced art, jewelry and fashion from Italy to England. Carved jasper, onyx, carnelian and shell became popular with the revival of Classical themes. 

 

When Napoleon placed ancient Roman cameos on his 1804 coronation crown, he began a trend that has continued to the present day.

Greek, Roman, and Etruscan symbols including serpents, crescents, carved stone signets and mythological gods appeared in jewelry from 1830 - 1900. 
 
At the 1851 Great Exhibition in London, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert received the first mechanical keyless wind watches, making pocket watches and watch fobs popular for both men and women until the mid 20th century. Since watch keys were no longer necessary for pocket watches, decorative fobs became popular for women and men in the Victorian and Edwardian era.
 
see more pocket watch fob jewelry in our ANTIQUITY COLLECTION

 



Written by L.C. Van Houten — October 23, 2013

Bespoke Heirloom Jewelry - 1950s edition

We all have special heirlooms that we keep hidden away in the corners of drawers and small boxes. These tiny objects tell our family story, remind us of a Grandmother's laugh, a mother's scent. We find great joy in rescuing these items from the confines of a drawer and making these memories wearable!

Recently we met a wonderful woman at the Kinetic Carnival who had a box of her husband's high school sports awards from the 1950s. Her sweetheart is gone now and she wanted to take the keepsakes out of the drawer and wear these keepsakes that remind her of her husband.

 

Our goal was to take a heap of awards in a box and make them into a selection of wearable memories.

The main piece was a statement charm necklace with an adjustable chain so the necklace can be worn high or over a turtleneck. 

With so many charms, I made an opera length necklace in silver and brass..

and an elegant pendant worn at the neckline. 

I'm thrilled with the results, but more importantly - so is she!!!!'

 

We love what we do...

 

shop now....

Written by L.C. Van Houten — October 03, 2013