I troll the toy aisles at the thrift store, craft store, dollar store or flea market for cool, weird toys that I can make into jewelry- thinking crazy to myself; “Can I get a hole through that? How can I attach a bead to that or string wire through it? Will that spray paint cool, will it glue right? What beads can I pair? Are there enough to make a chain?” This all came about quite randomly and I didn’t even realize I was doing it until a week ago, it was always just me being silly and crafty and loving making jewelry out of the unexpected, beads out of something that were never meant to be as such and really, ultimately, just being kind of too cheap to buy beads.
And in the same breath that I realized my obsession with jewelry made from toys, I also realized that my brand is conveniently named “Play” and I remember pondering, some blogs ago, about the idea of a niche, like the people who do that one weird thing, but it’s theirs- like that lady video blogger who paired her love of video games with baking or that reggae band that covers an entire album from another artistic genre in the reggae-style- RadioDread for example- an album cover of Radiohead’s OK Computer.
I can’t help but think that this isn’t an accident, “Play” makes perfect sense and Play happened 5 years ago, so maybe that’s my niche, I guess I’ve become that blogger, designer, DIY-er who makes modern jewelry out of toys.
And in thinking about this recent realization, I couldn’t help but think about my tinkerer father who used to hide his ipod shuffle or jump drive in a hollowed out CatDog or Homer Simpson toy and wear it like a lanyard around his neck, or the shifter on his VW Thing that he covered in a gutted head of Mike from Monsters Inc. Or all the buttons in that Thing- the vintage walkie talkie that he had programed to be the garage door opener, or that weird knob that had a label that read “Fudge Factor” and you would get into this car and turn it up or down to a corresponding 1-10 ratio depending on the “Fudge Factor” of the day, but what the fuck a “Fudge Factor” was no one ever knew, because he didn’t know either, but we all knew it had nothing to do with poop or chocolate, but something else, something like spontaneity and giggles. When it was time to buy Dad a present, I went with a Sponge Bob tie, or ear buds shaped like Stewie or just your classic figurine of John Lennon dressed in Yellow Submarine garb.
My Dad used to take toys and make them into something useful, because he couldn’t very-well be a 60 year-old, grey-haired guy rocking a CatDog figurine around his neck for no good reason, now could he… unless of course he could whip out his next novel on a usb, or plug in the latest track from Santana… now that was cool.
And that my friends, is yet another weird, accidental way I am expressing my “Daddy’s girl” qualities, even after he has been passed for more than seven years.
I wonder to myself what it is that compels this love of toys in me, in my Dad, is it staying forever young, or connected to your inner child-imagination, is it the immature artist sentiment, an abject refusal to grow up, or us just being deathly cheap? Or rather, is it that moment when a grown adult, who has hidden their love of “play” under thick layers of adulthood, realizes that my necklace is not made out of high-end beads, but gold spray painted plastic snakes, or when a colleague of my father’s would press some button on the dash of Dad’s ’71 pearl white, International pick up, named Casper and and it would play “scary” ghost-Halloween sounds?
I think it’s that split second moment we love(d)- that thing he saw, and I see, when in a flash, this person remembers play, remembers that unfettered joy of the toy, the imagination, the child within them and it catches this person off guard and we cherish this momentary reaction, and it is a little gift, a quick glimpse into their vulnerable little self that is still there, buried deep inside.
I did a silly thing after my Dad died, I would buy him toys I knew he would love, grief is strange this way- I knew full well I couldn’t give them to him, but I would buy them and look at them for him, play with them for him and I guess in some way I am still doing that with these pieces I make, like the one on this blog, made almost entirely of vintage Monopoly pieces I made into beads, a game we would play as a family, me with my sights on Broadway, while he was making bank on hotels in Tallahassee and Dad was always the shoe.
The Location: The Contemporary, one of Austin’s only modern art museums turned this old spanish style mansion and its grounds into a sculpture garden on Lake Austin called Laguna Gloria. The sculpture you see in these photos is by far the best piece at the center and is made out of thousands and thousands of feet of rope painted this pearl blue gray color. It reminds me of the ocean with its undulating natural cascade down the amphitheater and thought it the perfect backdrop for Gray.
The Dress: Was donated to the blog post by Miss Mims of Bells and Whistles Productions. It’s an oldish linen Free People dress, but the ombre dye is done by me- my first ever ombre and I am obsessed. I want to ombre everything! It’s super easy once you get the hang of it, I practiced on white sheets and pillow cases first. I filled my washing machine with hot water (or a big bucket if you have it) and a box of Pearl Gray Rit Dye and then just patently dipped, dipped, dipped. Knowing that I wanted a darker color on the bottom and light on the top, I just timed out the dips to make sure that the bottom got more dip, but it has to be pretty continuous motion or you will get lines, which I found from my pillow tests, so it has to be a patient afternoon activity.
The Necklace: Is also a Play by Marly original- vintage monopoly pieces I found on etsy! so easy to make anything into a bead, you just need a little patience and a strong Dremel drill bit- don’t use Dewalt drill bits on metal they snap in half, use Milwaukee instead!
The Purse: Is from my collection of vintage mental mesh Whiting and Davis handbags- you can always find a good piece like it on ebay!
The Cup: Featured here is my new favorite possession of all time- this all-metal Starbucks cup– it’s amazing how good everything tastes out of a metal straw and it keeps everything so freaking cold- I highly recommend you pick one up they are only $20!
The Shoes: are Anne Klein similar
The Nails: are Essie– “Master Plan”
The Curls: Seriously ladies, if you have just a bit of curl in your hair get Pillow Soft Curls at the drug store, it is AMAZEBALLS! Like you know when you put gel on your curls and they get hardish but the curls are great- imagine that without the crispyness, that’s this product- go. buy. it. now. only $20 bucks and lasts forever!