More Mother's Day Gift Ideas

by mary April 29, 2014

Mother's Day is now just a little over a week away, so I thought I'd share more ideas for Mother's Day gifts -- this time from Beaverdale Books (2629 Beaver Ave., #1, Des Moines, IA), my favorite bookstore & one of Des Moines' only independent bookstores!  Alice has a great variety of books that would make a perfect gift for just about any mother, as well as a small selection of jewelry & other gifts . . .

One option that I thought looked interesting would be a journal -- 2 that caught my eye in particular were "Mom's One Line a Day Diary" for busy moms that don't have time to write a novel or even a short story about their day, or "Mom - A Mother's Journal" that includes prompts to make it easy to think about what to write.

Or, if you're looking for something for your little one to give his/her mother, there are several especially cute books to choose from, including "Mommy's Best Kisses", "The Best Mama in the World" & "Mommy Hugs".

Another fun option for the little ones is "Just Me & Mom", which is full of activities that they can do with Mom!

There's even something for those who are looking for a gift for a grandmother . . . "The Little Big Book for Grandmothers"!

Or, how about a cookbook for the mom that loves to cook, but doesn't have a lot of time -- "The Busy Mom's Cookbook"!

Two others that looked really interesting to me were "She: A Celebration of the Greatness of Every Woman" (short essays) & "Well-Read Women - Fiction's Most Beloved Heroines" (quotes).  Both include great illustrations & would be a great gift for any woman, whether she is a mother or not!

Or, if what your mother really likes to read is fiction, what about Amy Tan's "The Bonesetter's Daughter" or Kimberly McCreight's "Reconstructing Amelia".

And, finally, you might want to check out one of my hand-crafted necklaces or charm bracelets that the shop carries . . .

To learn more about what's going on at Beaverdale Books, go to or  To see more of my jewelry, go to

Thanks for reading & supporting small businesses, & have a Happy Mother's Day!


Filed Under: Gift Ideas

Introducing Charlotte

by mary April 26, 2014

I met Charlotte about a year ago at Funky Finds in Des Moines, although she wasn't Charlotte at the time.  (In fact, she wasn't Charlotte until I decided last night that that was the name that suited her).

At the time, I bought her thinking she would be a great way to display earrings or necklaces at shows.  When I got her home, though, I realized that my idea wasn't going to work -- there really wasn't any way to secure earrings or earring cards to her "ribs", you couldn't really see necklaces against her wicker body, & jewelry got tangled up in her "wickerness".

So, for a time, she sat on the cedar chest in our bedroom dressed on one of my vintage bed jackets & a vintage hat -- a nice addition to my other vintage ladies, but not what I originally envisioned.

Yesterday, I got another idea when I was looking at several pieces of vintage lingerie at Dorothea's Closet Vintage (also here in Des Moines) -- what if I dressed her in Victorian lace?  Just for fun, I brought home a 1920s chemise, an Edwardian sleeveless lace bodice, a Victorian corset cover, & a Victorian long sleeve lace bodice -- & then dressed her in layers.

I thought she looked lovely & very Victorian.  It was then I realized her name had to be Charlotte (after Charlotte Bronte)!

Here she is with 3 of my hand-crafted necklaces strung around her neck!  Now I can't wait to take her to a show


Filed Under: Meet My Models

Mothers Day Gift Ideas

by mary April 24, 2014

With Mothers Day just a little over 2 weeks away, I thought I would share ideas for Mothers Day gifts that are available from some of the shops that carry my jewelry.  Today's focus is on Dorothea's Closet Vintage Clothing.  The shop carries a full range of vintage clothing & accessories -- purses, scarves, hats, lingerie, shoes, etc..  Today I'm going to focus exclusively on some of my favorite jewelry -- both vintage & some of my own -- something just about any mother would enjoy!

The first piece is a fun red & white "polka-dot" necklace from the 1930s ($38) that I have been eyeing for several months now.  I think it would look perfect with a nice summer dress or a top & pair of shorts.  If no one buys it in the next month or so, it will probably go home with me!

The next piece is a really cool gold & green eggplant bakelite brooch with pave set rhinestones from the 1960s ($40) that would look great on just about any sweater or coat.  It has a hook so it can also be worn as a necklace.  I've always been fond of bakelite & think this is a really lovely statement piece.

The third piece is a pair of screw-back thermoset earrings from the 1960s ($27).  I just love the shade & shape of the blue thermoset pieces -- these would look great with a blue or white dress or blouse!

The final piece of vintage jewelry is a dress/fur clip from the 1940s with blue & clear glass cabochons ($28).  I think this piece would really look lovely on a coat collar or suit jacket!

I'll finish up with 2 pieces of my own jewelry that are available at the shop -- first, a necklace that features a vintage silver-tone woman's portrait for the pendant, as well as faux perals, black agate gemstone beads, rhinestones & other elements salvaged from broken jewelry ($35).

And, second, a gold-tone bracelet with vintage white charms ($30) that was inspired by the hundreds of pelicans my husband & I saw last spring at Water Works Park here in Des Moines.  This would look great with summer whites!

For more Mothers Day gift ideas, stop by Dorothea's Closet at 1733 Grand Ave. in Des Moines (open Wednesday through Saturday, noon to 5 pm), or check out the shop's website at or my website at

Thanks for reading & for supporting small businesses!


Filed Under: Gift Ideas

introducing Marx campus cuties!

by mary April 21, 2014

I'd like you to meet 2 of my favorite models -- Lazy Afternoon & Nitey Nite!  Both were made by the Marx Toy Company in 1964.  After bringing out a line of 6 inch plastic army men in 1963, Marx introduced the "Campus Cuties" series in 1964 in order to appeal to girls.  Marx produced 2 series of Campus Cuties, with 8 figures in each series.  Lazy Afternoon & Nitey Nite are from the first series.  I picked up both at a flea market that's held monthly at our State Fair grounds.

Here's Lazy Afternoon sporting a charm bracelet with an Island theme that I made with vintage celluloid charms & vintage wooden beads!


And, here's Nitey Nite, all dolled up in a charm bracelet made with old Cracker Jack/Gumball scottie dog charms and red crystal beads that I picked up at a local bead show.  I'm especially fond of the little gray scottie with the rhinestone-studded collar!


I think these old Campus Cuties make especially good models for bracelets!

Thanks for reading!


Filed Under: Meet My Models

A spurt of organizing!

by mary April 15, 2014

I love making jewelry, but not so much cleaning up afterward or organizing my work space.  As a result, my work station can get out of hand at times!  Most recently, I've been busy working on several custom orders as well as new pieces for the website, plus have picked up some fun lots of chain broken jewelry.  After having trouble locating the tools & supplies I needed, I decided yesterday that it had finally gotten to the point where I had to get serious about putting things away & organizing!  Here's a look at the "before" picture . . . not so pretty . . .


After several hours yesterday & another hour or so this morning, here a look at the "after" -- I can actually see my work bench & have my most frequently used tools back where they are supposed to be for easy accessibility!

And a great side benefit was that, as I was putting things away, I found several cool pieces that are just begging to be made into necklaces, bracelets & earrings!

Now, if I can just keep my work space this organized for awhile!


Filed Under: My Studio -- Tools & Techniques

Why Pauline's Jewelry Box?

by mary April 13, 2014

When people see that I've called my jewelry "Pauline's Jewelry Box", they often ask if my name is Pauline, so I thought I'd introduce the real Pauline -- my mother, Pauline Louise Kuphall Nelson.  She was born on February 2, 1910, the youngest of 11 children. 

Here she is with her parents & most of her brothers & sisters. 

And, here she is at her confirmation, with her brother Bill.

She married my father on May 29, 1950 -- Here they are the day they got married. 

And, here they are on their 10th anniversary (that's me in the middle -- I would have been about 7 1/2 at the time).


My mother was a constant source of love & support; she & my dad made me who I am & inspire me still.  I chose to call my jewelry "Pauline's Jewelry Box" to honor her & her memory. 


Filed Under: Inspiration

Anyone for a good game of Rooster, Canasta or Sheepshead?

by mary April 10, 2014

Making these Cracker Jack/Gumball charm playing card earrings brought back fond memories of card games I played when I was younger.

"Rooster" was a game my Aunt Ola played with me when I was very little & would stay overnight with her while my parents were out for the evening.  As I remember, you spread the cards face down on the table & tried to find matched pairs -- e.g., 2 red Queens or 2 black 8's.  I can't remember if the winner was the "Rooster" or if that was the loser, but I do remember loving it when my Aunt would suggest we play!

"Canasta" was a game my mother & her friends played when they had "card club".  They would start by watching "As the World Turns" over lunch, & then bring out the cards to play Canasta.  Sometimes, I was allowed to play with them.  You played with 2 decks, & as I remember, the red Queens were worth 300 points each as long as you were able to open before someone went out.  I remember feeling very competitive playing it at times, & some especially tense moments when someone would "freeze" the discard pile.

"Sheepshead" (Schafkopf in German was the game my parents would play when they got together with other couples, often my aunts & uncles.  For some reason, the women only played it when the men were around.  They played for 1, 2 or 3 cents a point (sometimes for 5, 10 or 15 cents), but even so, I can remember them getting quite animated at times, with long discussions on how the hand would have turned out differently if their partner had played a different card.  When I was in high school, I was finally good enough at it that I was allowed to play sometimes.  One of the most interesting things I remember about Sheepshead is that it's a very local game -- once you get outside Wisconsin (in particular, the Milwaukee area), few people have even heard of the game.

One of the things I like most about working with vintage charms, jewelry & other objects is the memories they evoke.  I often wonder what memories others have when they see or wear the pieces I make.

To see more of my jewelry, see my website at  And thanks for reading!


Filed Under: Memories

Charm bracelet for "flower child of the 60's"

by mary April 6, 2014

Custom work represents both challenges & rewards.  It's been my experience that the rewards far outweigh the challenges.

I made this custom charm bracelet for a retirement gift.  The recipient was a "flower child" of the 60s, so the group wanted some of the charms to reflect that period of her life.  She was also very interested in natural healing & T'ai chi, so they wanted the bracelet to reflect that as well.

The challenges, then, in this piece were (1) finding charms & gemstones to represent the themes they'd requested, & (2) creating something that had a coherent feel & was visually pleasing.

I suggested the bracelet include gemstones that symbolized the 5 natural elements & the 7 chakras to represent her interest in natural healing & T'ai chi; I also suggested one charm for good luck since retiring would be a new phase in her life journey.

With those criteria to guide me, I dug through my vintage charms & gemstones, & laid out a design.  Once approved, I created the bracelet you see here.

Designing this charm bracelet brought several rewards - (1) it gave me a window into the recipient's past & passions, (2) it gave me an opportunity to learn more about the 5 natural elements & 7 chakras, & (3) the final product pleased both the givers & the retiree.

For more about ordering a custom piece of jewelry -- made either with your treasures or mine -- see my website at


Filed Under: Custom Work

About the author

Pauline's Jewelry Box was founded by Mary Nelson in 2012 in Des Moines, Iowa.  I chose the name Pauline's Jewelry Box because my mother's name was Pauline & I have many fond memories of looking through jewelry box & playing with her jewelry

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