Category Archives: Uncategorized

Sugar Skulls and All Things Frida

Detroit is all a-flutter about the new Diego River and Frida Kahlo in Detroit exhibit at the DIA.  Word is out that the exhibit is extraordinary, and everyone is getting inspired to explore the works of these two important artists and the culture that inspired them.  I call is Frida Fever, and it is everywhere.

Diego and Frida

I’m not immune to the buzz.  This season I’ve introduced several new motifs to the line, including new sugar skulls designed specifically for Divine Iguana as well as adaptations of the popular Mexican fortune telling cards, the Loteria.


La Luna and La Sirena from the Loteria Series

Most of these pieces are already sold, but there is a beautiful selection at Frida, the fabulous boutique inspired by Frida Kahlo located in Downtown Detroit, and I’m making more as quickly as my little fingers will allow.

Full Sugar Skull Bib with cinnabar roses
La Rosa Loteria small bib necklace
Loteria and Sugar Skull charms





Old Things Part 1: Heirlooms

I, like everyone else I know beyond a certain age, have a small box of things that belonged to my mother.  These things have no real monetary value.   They may not have had any real sentimental value to my mother, but I keep them.  I used to open the box every so often to touch them, but as I  get older I find that I open it less and less often.

At some point every present moment fades away into memory.  Some of the present is significant to enough people to become part of the collective memory that we call history.  Memories and history, without artifacts to prove their occurrence, fade into legends or myths or into nothing at all.  The days we spent at the beach, but never wrote about in our diaries… When we are gone no-one will even realize they were events that could have been remembered.  They will be gone, too.

My mother, like most of the mother’s of the people I know, was not a part of history.  She will not appear in text books.  Her life will not be studied by generations of students.  Unlike most mothers she also has no formal burying place, no memorial plaque, no tombstone.  I don’t believe that anyone wrote an obituary.  Maybe we did, but my memory is fading already.  She might never have existed at all, except that I have a small box of things that belonged to her.  This box is my own museum.  These are the artifacts that prove her existence.

The world we live in now is more temporary than the world my mother knew.  The photos we take of our beach vacations and the diary we keep of those sunny days are all stored in digital media, prone to failure and quickly lost to advances in technology.    Family albums carefully preserved on betamax tapes.  Birthday greetings recorded on reel-to-reel tapes.  The thoughtful blog I maintained for all of a year on MySpace.  Hundreds of letters sent through e-mail accounts attached to past jobs, obsolete services, defunct websites.

In my mother in law’s basement there are hundreds of boxes of things.  Papers, VHS tapes, books, tools, stuffed animals… These things may have no real monetary value.  They may have no real sentimental value to my mother in law, but she keeps them.  She fears to throw any of them away, as if  each object is an artifact that proves she not only exists NOW, but has existed all along.

The upstart watch and bicycle company where I live advertises their products as “Heirloom Quality”.

Heirloom Quality for Eternal Life

So buying that $750 quartz movement watch assembled in a struggling urban center gets you not only an overinflated sense of social accountability but something for your own children to place in the box that they keep in the back of their closet when you are gone.  With an overpriced wrist watch, a collectible ornament from the Franklin Mint,  a bracelet encrusted with the birthstones of your grandchildren you can extend your existence past your death.

Heirloom Quality Artifact from the Franklin Mint



Thank you Columbus!

Divine Iguana Show Booth
New Display for a New Year

Just got home from the Ohio Designer Craftsmen Studio Clearance Sale.  I make the trip to Columbus every January, and its always nice to see some of my long standing customers.  This year was the first time I brought a jewelry heavy booth, and I have to thank my Columbus fans for the warm reception for this new work.  You guys are awesome!

And to my fellow artists:

The Ohio Designer Craftsmen put on some of my favorite shows of the season.  If you’re looking to add some new shows into your schedule (this is specifically aimed at you, my Michigan friends) then you should consider applying to Shaker Heights, Winterfair, or at least the Studio Clearance Sale.  You won’t be disappointed!

Divine Iguana Live in the D

I was on the news!

Divine Iguana On the Air
Divine Iguana Set up for the local news
and no…I didn’t get caught doing something naughty.

The Divine Iguana spent a while in our studio with Channel 4, Live in the D’s Michelle Oliver discussing the fine art of making beautiful things from the ‘stuff’ people throw away.

Inside the studio of the Divine Iguana
In Studio peak at the Divine Iguana at work!

And then  we did a little LIVE followup where I successfully did not pee myself on camera.  We can all thank my friends and coaches at Shadowbox Live for teaching me not to curl up like a pillbug under the lights :)

Rena Live on Channel 4 News
Rena Live on Channel 4 News

Many thanks to Rhonda Walker for letting me highlight the new “Best Friends” earrings that were designed to raise funds for local animal rescue.  We’ve only raised about $50 so far, but the numbers will only rise with time!

Did you catch the story?  Let me know what you thought in the comments below!

Spring Crafting at the Library

What better way to welcome the spring than with a fun new crafting workshop?

20 fun ladies and I spent a pleasant afternoon this past week testing out my newest workshop…CHARM BRACELETS!

bracelet workshop
Some of my new friends adding the finishing touches to their bracelets

As you might know, part of the joy in a Divine Iguana workshop is the freedom to explore materials and possibilities .  Each student’s project is completely unique.  Every member of the workshop can create his or her very own masterpiece,.  These ladies, some of whom had never worked with jewelry before, made some stunning pieces.  I didn’t get to photograph all of them, but here are some of my favorites.

Student Projects

Interested in hosting a Divine Iguana workshop at your home, office or public library?

You can learn more about my available workshops and request more information here!

Happy Crafting!



Enter the Silhouette- My new Silhouette Cameo Machine

The Silhouette Cameo Machine…Stuff of my crafting dreams

Silhouette Cameo
The machine I’ve been dreaming of…

I hate cutting out tiny circles. I hate it. Everyone who has ever offered to help me in studio hates it, too. Cutting tiny circles sucks.

An endless sea of tiny circles…all cut individually. By hand. With scissors.

So when I heard of the Silhouette Cutting machines and imagined a world without tiny circles cut by hand with scissors I thought, “HERE IS MY SALVATION.”

With a lump of financial terror in my throat I bought myself both the Silhouette Cameo and the “Silhouette Connect” software add-on package for Christmas this year.  I thought it was a pretty safe bet that if Santa couldn’t remember to bring me new slippers he wasn’t good for a $300 crafting machine.  That’s a lot of money for a small crafter, and I was worried if I had made a good investment.

The answer in a nutshell?  OMIGOD YES.

Silhouette Cameo Machine
This is my new boyfriend. Don’t judge me. I’m in love.


These little teapot and teacup images?  I didn’t cut them out.  The machine did.

The job that used to take me two hours and cause hand cramps and cursing and sighs of despair?  Done in under five minutes, including peeling the little circles off the mat and putting them in a bag to glue down later.


This things is an angel from above.   It even sings a soothing electronic song as it does my work for me.  Really.  It sounds like a happy little skylark of a machine.  It sounds like a rampaging dinosaur in the video below, but in person its actually quite pleasant.

On the fence about buying one?  DO IT.


Seriously.  This thing is amazing, and I’m only using it to cut out tiny circles.  I haven’t even scratched the surface of its potential!

I am NOT a hoarder–destashing art supplies

How much stuff do I really need?

Probably not as much as I have.  Okay, definitely not as much as I have.  I have A LOT of art supplies and old things.  But you know what I love more than having cool supplies?  Acquiring more cool supplies!  And to do that I have to make room in my (very small) studio.


Destash my Stuff on Etsy
My destash shop on Etsy.   Sadly, far more successful than my art and jewelry shop.


What do I do with crazy bits of paper, watch parts, shells, beach glass, old ribbons, oddball findings etc?  I sell them here.  Usually for a lot less than I paid for them.  I want them to find happy homes in someone else’s studio.  Someone who might use them.

Vintage Watch Mainspring Envelopes
Vintage Watch Mainspring Envelopes

Watch Mainspring Envelopes are super cool.

Antique Watch Parts vials
Antique Watch Parts vials

Antique watch parts vials with well worn labels and cryptic handwriting are even cooler.

Maybe I should just keep this stuff for myself!

Watch Tins
Watch Case Backs
Assorted Steampunk Supplies
Watch Movements

With coffee all things are possible…

Late Nights and Early Mornings

While preparing to move all my supplies into the new studio I discovered that I had been hiding the vastness of my bead and bauble stash from myself.  I discovered great troves of delights tucked away into boxes and small plastic bags, some carefully labeled but far more simply stashed without ceremony.  I don’t remember acquiring all this stuff, but if I saw it at an estate sale tomorrow, I would buy it all over again!

Now that I’m (sort of) settled in, I’m reveling in all this small shiny glory, making lots and lots of one of a kind pieces when I should be working on Holiday wholesale inventory and  illustration work.  I’m months behind on production anyhow, so what’s a few more days of blissful free-form creation before I knuckle down into the pre-holiday grind?   I can do it all, right?  I just need more coffee.