Throw a Bowl with Workaday Handmade

Say “hey” to some clay.

You know what’s magical about hand-thrown clay wares? It’s impossible to make pieces that are exactly the same. Just ask Forrest Lewinger of Workaday Handmade: He looks at each one of the 200 tumblers he created for Of a Kind as an individual, saying, “It’s interesting to look back and see how different they all are. They each have their own personality.” Get a peek into his process as he turns a blob into a bowl. —jackie varriano

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“First you need to wedge your clay to get all the air bubbles out. Wedging is a lot like kneading dough.”

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“Then you want to shape it into a ball, like so!”

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“Next, when the wheel is still, you want to slam your clay down on to the wheel so it’s stuck and won’t slide off the wheel head. This is where throwing gets its name.”

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“Now the trickiest part: centering. In order to have control over your ball of clay, you need to compress it so that it is spinning smoothly on the wheel’s axis. This is the one that takes the most practice. Once you get centering, everything else gets a lot easier.”

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“Throwing is a combination of applying firmness and strength and being guided by the movement of the clay. Once it’s centered, with your elbows anchored on your hips, push your thumbs into the middle of the centered clay, and try to keep it from wobbling.”

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“For bowls, you want to widen the hole in the clay you just made with you thumbs by slowly pulling it outward.”

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“Now for the fun! By compressing the clay between your left and right hands, slowly guide the clay upward. You want to keep one arm anchored into your body to keep everything steady.”

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“Once you’ve gotten a shape you like, you need to let it dry for the trimming process.”

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“Once the bowl is dry enough to hold its own shape, you put it back on the wheel to trim. Trimming is about finessing the shape. I’ve been liking clean, simple shapes lately.”

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“Trimming is also about making a foot. And making your mark.”

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“Bam!”

See what else Forrest can make out of clay—like this rad tumbler set. 

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Watch Steven Shein Make a Diamond Ring Look All Fresh and Cool

Say sayonara to the solitaire.

How do you turn a diamond ring—a piece of jewelry about as classic as they come—into something exciting? Steven Shein, the totally badass L.A.-based designer, has an answer. “What’s cool about the process is that we’re using cutting-edge, modern technology—3D printing and modeling—and age-old techniques—specifically, lost wax casting,” he explains. Here, dive into everything it took to create his brand-spankin’-new, seriously slick black diamond ring. —alisha prakash

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“I wanted to riff on the classic diamond ring. I thought about how I could make something by reducing it as much as possible to its most functional state—no decoration, no ornamentation—and from that reduction, maximize it. I imagined these thin, tubular posts coming off of a circular form with the same tubular profile, and I wanted to set the diamonds into their tips, like some beautiful bulbs in tiny flashlights.”

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“This is an image of the 3D model, which I created using Rhino, a 3D modeling program. The model is then exported as an STL file, which is a type of file that a 3D printer can read.”

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“This is the piece that was printed by the 3D printer. Basically, it’s an object that the printer builds up layer by layer in a process known as additive manufacturing. I believe this is some kind of plastic wax composite, which is designed to be directly cast to create the master.”

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“This image shows the master. The master is a metal object created from the 3D-printed object using the lost wax casting technique.”

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“Here is an image of the freshly cut open mold with the master still sitting in it. The mold is created by heating a specialized rubber around the master. Once cooled, the master is removed.”

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“This image shows a wax model that was cast using the rubber mold. It is made when the jeweler shoots liquid wax into the rubber mold, which will cool into a solid object that will then be used to create our metal casts using the lost wax casting technique. The rubber is flexible so the wax can be removed from the mold relatively easily. Using the rubber mold, the jeweler will produce as many waxes as required. They’ll attach these to what is known as a “tree” (or little pole). It will then be encased in a flask that plaster is poured into. This will go into an oven and be heated up so the plaster hardens and the waxes melt out, leaving negative spaces—or volumes—into which liquefied metal is poured to create the final casts.”

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“This is the finished piece. To achieve this, the metal piece from the mold is cleaned and polished. The stones are set; the ring is polished again to a high shine, and cleaned by an ultrasonic cleaner to remove any debris or polishing wax. The piece is then electroplated with a clear-coat, which will protect the metal against tarnishing—so it will retain its color and shine.”

Get your own one of these rad rings right this way.

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Watch the K/LLER Gals Craft Their (Diamond!) Of a Kind Edition

Don’t worry: It still has plenty of fierceness.

“We have been asked for awhile if we would ever use diamonds in the collection, and we’ve always been hesitant since neither of us are blingy girls,” says Katie deGuzman, half of the team behind the rad line K/LLER, which just entered the fine-jewelry fold. The solution? Taking a graphic, minimalist approach that doesn’t feel too glitzy. “You still get the tough K/LLER aesthetic with a bit of sparkle—the dark clashing with the sweet,” notes Michael Miller. “Just the way we like it.” And then there’s the name of their first fancified collection: K/LLER Stoned—further proof they aren’t getting too lofty. Here, see how one of their newest pieces—their Of a Kind edition!—came to be. alisha prakash

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“This is a pile of the raw castings of the sterling silver pave earrings before we clean them.”

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First we saw off the sprues, which is an excess piece of metal from the casting process.”

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“We use a variety of different grinding wheels, burs, and polishing wheels to clean the surface of the casting.”

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“The next step is to solder a post to the back of the earring.”

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“Once we have all the castings cleaned and ready to go, they are now prepared for the diamonds!”

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“We work with a wonderful jeweler, Ara, who sets our stones.”

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“We use three different sizes of cognac diamonds in this earring. Each stone is carefully selected and placed in a setting.”

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“A setting bur is then used to push the metal around the stone to secure each one.”

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“Once all the diamonds have been set, the earrings are passed over with a lapping wheel, which removes the marks created during the stone setting process.”

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“They are then polished to a high shine.”

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“Finally, they get a little steam clean to get rid of the polishing compound, and we send them off to get plated in rose gold.”

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“Voila!”

You saw how they made ‘em, now get your hands on these diamond beauties!

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See How Annabel Inganni Makes Color and Pattern Magic

It’s curveball central over here.

“I feel a bit like a mad scientist—I never know exactly how something will turn out,” says Annabel Inganni, who dreams up totally fly color combos and geometric motifs for her home line Wolfum. The pillows, coasters, glassware, and trays are always a little surprising, spicing up any space as a result. Check out the process involved in turning up her consistently unpredictable results. alisha prakash

Pre-Design Prep

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“There is nothing more inspiring then a beautiful book. I collect any and all on fashion, photography, architecture, graphic design, and, of course, pattern and textile history. It’s always important to reference the origins of printing and textiles while simultaneously looking forward at technology and new techniques.”

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“I love looking through magazines. I find the simple pleasure of ripping pages out and making collages satisfying. I can find inspiration for color, a new product or graphic, or just an overall concept. I put it into a book so I can revisit it at any time. I create a story in each few pages and suddenly a concept is defined, a mood articulated.”

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“Lists, lists, lists—I love them. I like the physical action of writing them and then crossing things off. I thrive on organization—and am pretty hyperactive—thus I multitask all the time. I have a bunch of notebooks where I keep my concepts and ideas, in some sort of nonsense order.”

Color and Pattern Concepting

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“I always start with Pantone chips—picking way too many and then narrowing down to a group…and then within that, even smaller groups that I know will be unexpected yet look wonderful together. The colors always look so different on fabric than on the wood once they are processed, so it is imperative to test each color individually so that I can create the right combinations. It becomes a little game of mix-and-match.”

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“I don’t have a true work space, so I often take my laptop to the library or just to the couch, to draw. Working on the computer allows me to easily change up colors or scale. I do all my sketching in Illustrator. I am a control freak and like the organization and discipline of working on the computer. I start with a concept, whether I am playing with a shape or brush stroke. Once I find an element I like, I play with scale and manipulate it a million different ways until I see what it is meant to be.  Sometimes this is a quick process and other times it takes weeks to perfect the print.”

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“These are my fabric color test swatches. I have a hard time deciding what colorway or scale to use in the collection, so it helps to print them out. This way I can arrange and re-arrange to find a perfect balance.”

Finished Products!

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“My napkins reflect the breadth of my graphic work. I love seeing them all stacked together. It reminds me to revisit my past designs and look for fresh elements in my older work.”

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“Since I design each graphic specifically for the item, it’s always a bit of a surprise how the print will come out. With the coasters, each one within the set has an element of the larger image, so when they are put together, they end up being somewhat of an art puzzle for your tabletop. Since I pre-test all my colors on scraps of wood, I design into the colorways I think are most striking and then run several samples. As soon as I see The One, I know it and can build from there.”

Add Annabel’s latest rad pattern to your home now!

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Watch A Question of Eagles Turn a Block of Clay into a Vase

Get down with the glaze.

If it takes two to make a thing go right, husband-and-wife collaborators Jonathan Ballak and Melissa Tolar of A Question of Eagles are getting it so right. And the vase they made for Of a Kind has a certain two-become-one quality of its own. Here, Jonathan breaks down the process of how the magic was made. —jane gauger

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“Making our edition starts with raw clay, which we push through a die to form the basic shapes that we will assemble into the bent top vase. For this piece we will be using two different size circular dies.”

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“Here is a group photo of freshly shaped components of our vases.  It looks like a nice class-reunion photo. Very handsome.”

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“We then start to create each vase. We cut each to the right length, attach a bottom, marry the two cylinder pieces, and begin the finishing and cleaning of the edges. It then goes into the kiln for the first firing.”

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“After the first firing, we are ready to glaze. We’re using a variety of glazing methods on this piece. When it is applied, the cobalt glaze looks pink, but during the final firing, the heat and elements react and transform into blue.”

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“Last step: Firing to over 2300 degrees!”

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“After the final firing, the piece is done and ready to be used.”

The pair’s final product is a vase that will keep your home looking cheery all year long.

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Watch Meg Farrell’s So-Fly Of a Kind Edition Come Together

Calling all leather-lovers…

Meg Farrell crafts every single high-functioning bag in her line Farrell & Co. by hand from her studio in Rockland, Maine. And get this: Each one takes her about five hours to make. Here, see just how she whipped up her Of a Kind edition—a mini backpack! There’s so much TLC that you can almost taste it. —genevieve ang

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“I start off with premium-grade leather from Wicket & Craig, a 120-year-old tannery. The leather is kind of crazy because I buy the entire side—it is a full side of a cow and kind of still looks like an animal.”

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“I cut the pattern out and bevel the edges slightly so it has more of a finished look. I then dye the front and back of the leather.”

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“I fold the leather, rivet the folds together, and attach the hardware pieces, including D-rings for where I attach the straps.”

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“The straps are made separately—that involves using a strap cutter, which is a measuring gauge with a razor blade on it. It can cut leather all the same width. It is tricky to use, but you get the hang of it after a while.”

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“I then measure the straps out, edge and dye them, and punch the holes into the leather. I use snap hooks to attach the straps to the bag.”

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“The front closure is a little screw-in button. I measure where the center of the bag is and make a hole to attach the screw.”

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“Before it goes off into the world, I treat the bag with Obenauf’s, which is a natural oil to protect and restore the leather.”

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“The final product!”

This is one of those backpacks that you don’t want to miss—get it before it’s gone!

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Watch Han Starnes Spin Some Awesome Yarn

Talk about making something from scratch!

Not only does Han Starnes knit crazy-good hats and scarves for her line Josi Faye, but she also spins the material—the yarn—from raw wool in her Nashville loft studio (with its incredible natural light). “You get a yarn that you can’t really buy anywhere,” says Han, who learned the method from a generations-old spinning guild in New Zealand. Watch the amazingness come together below. —serena qiu

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“This is how I get the wool: unspun and cleaned. The white is the natural color of un-dyed sheep’s wool.”

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“Most of the work is made on the wheel. Here, you’re shaping the yarn, deciding what twist you want, and once the bobbin gets full, you take it off into a skein. This wheel is an old-fashioned foot-pedal one that I brought from New Zealand. I brought three back!”

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“That’s what a skein looks like, which we have to wind into this long hank. Fresh off the wheel, yarn is not ready to knit. It needs to be set, so that it relaxes into its new form.”

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“We set yarn by steaming it, or by soaking it in hot water, so it’s felted a little. After it’s set, we have to wind it, and this little wood tool makes it so much easier. I crank it, and it pulls the yarn to make little balls for me.”

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“And then you pop it off, and this is what you get! This is pictured along with some vintage twine I was using to attach tags. And my coffee.”

Han’s finished product is a red scarf that you won’t want to take off.

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See Exactly How Light + Ladder’s Hanging Planters Are Made

This is some pure-white prettiness right here.

Why not use greenery as wall décor? That’s Farrah Sit’s approach—for her line Light + Ladder, she makes straight-up elegant porcelain planters that are just itching to bond with a succulent. Below, she shows us just how she created her leather-accented version. —olivia seely

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“I pour all of the molds for the hanging planter here in my studio. The molds are made of plaster. To create the shape, we pour slip, which is liquid clay, into the plaster mold. You let it sit for 18 minutes to build up the clay walls and then dump it out. You’re left with a layer of clay inside—just like how when you make pancakes and you pour out the batter, some still sticks to the bowl. That’s basically how it works with the clay and, the length of time the slip is left in the plaster mold determines the thickness. After you let it sit, the plaster pulls the water away from the clay, the clay shrinks, and you can just pop it out of the mold. The process is called slipcasting.”

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“After you’ve removed the shape from its mold, you use a knife to cut the excess clay off. Then you finish the edges with a damp sponge and smooth the surface with a scraper to get rid of any imperfections and make sure it’s symmetrical. After the finishing work is done, you drill two holes on either side with a hand-held drill bit.”

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“Next you load the kiln and fire it to a bisque state. We created small little mounds of sand at the bottom of the kiln to hold up the shape since otherwise it would collapse on itself during the process.”

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“After the planter has been fired once, you remove it from the kiln, plug up the holes, and glaze the inside. Glaze is really liquid glass, but it’s just as soupy as the clay. We pour in the glaze and then pour it out so that it only leaves a thin layer. Then you reload the kiln and fire again. The glaze inside makes it shiny.”

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“Then you cut the leather—it’s a white hide—into strips with an X-Acto knife and ruler and cut holes in the leather with a hand-punch.”

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“Finally, you use brass screws to attach the leather strap to the porcelain planter.”

You’ve seen how she made it, now get in on Farrah’s rad edition!

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See How Tanner Prep’s Stellar Edition Was Made

Spoiler alert: Those aren’t actually studs.

“I really believe in manufacturing in the city,” says Brooklyn resident Rachel Nasvik. When it came time to start production for her new handbag line Tanner Prep, she didn’t have to do any research: Her business partner Arturo Jinjinian, the son of a shoemaker, grew up working in tanneries and mastering the art of leatherworking, and he now owns an ace factory that makes all of the label’s pieces. Watch their awesome Of a Kind edition came together. —meghana gandhi

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“We fell in love with this leather because it is a slightly different take on the studded trend. At first glance, the gold circles appear to be studs, but looking closer, you see that they are actually embossed—the imprinted pattern is coated with gold foil.”

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“The first step is cutting all the pieces. The Penny is made up of five dies, which are basically like large cookie cutters used to punch out the leather panels.”

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“After the pieces are cut, they are prepped for sewing. Turned edges are taped down and pounded with a mallet to make it easier to sew clean lines. Edges that have to be sewn together are shaved down to ensure that the leather isn’t too thick for the sewing machine.”

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“Filler made from bonded leather is glued to the back of the leather and sandwiched between the lining to give the bag structure and support.”

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“The outer details are sewn together, and the front pocket is completed.”

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“The gusset, which gives the bag depth, is constructed. After the zipper is sewn in, the handle tabs are attached to each side, and the lining is added. Everything comes together as the front and back pieces are sewn to the gusset. The bag is turned right-side-out before it is cleaned and inspected.”

Like what you see? Then sign up for our newsletter to be the first to see Rachel’s new edition tomorrow!

 

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The frieda&nellie Designers Show Us How Their Of a Kind Edition Came Together

Putting some summer-camp skills to serious use.

When you see the kickass jewelry from frieda&nellie designers Stacy Herzog and Sarah Reid, it’s tough not to think of 1) tying a handmade friendship bracelet around your grade-school pal’s wrist, swearing you’ll be bf4eva and 2) rummaging through your grandmother’s jewelry box for chunky cocktail rings and vintage clip-ons. Here, Stacy shows us how they meld those two blasts-from-the-past into one fly Of a Kind bracelet. —olivia seely

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“New York was our inspiration for this bracelet. The city combines the old with the new, and we love the linearity of NYC. We also love the idea of black, white, and clear because it seems so 1920s.”

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“To start, you’ll need to cut the embroidery thread 60 to 65 inches long. You need four strands total, two of each color.”

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“To braid the thread, you should tape it to a table or some kind of surface. We have a little burlap mat that we use to thread. Here are the step-by-step instructions on exactly how to get the Sparkle & Shine braid!”

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“Once you’re done braiding, you need to knot the bottom. It doesn’t matter how much space you leave—the thread isn’t going to unravel. Here we’ve left ourselves some extra room to work with.”

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“Next you weave the friendship bracelet through the vintage rhinestone bracelet.”

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“The final step is to use a jump ring to attach our frieda&nellie heart logo! That’s the same tag that is on all of pieces.”

This bracelet can be yours…really! Get it now! 

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