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Feed Your Creative Side: Zipper Jewelry

23 Apr

As we’ve mentioned before, Communal Table is a place where we want to share the things we love, the things that inspire us, and the wonderful things that we come across, be it food-related or beyond.

One of my very first posts on this blog was about my obsession with handmade things, jewelry in particular, where I mentioned the zipper necklaces that I had fallen in love with from a shop on Etsy. Since then, I see that almost every day we get traffic to the blog from people searching for ‘zipper jewelry’. It’s great to know that there are people out there who are as excited as I am about interesting, arty pieces.

And because my obsession with these particular zipper pieces and the lovely artist behind them has grown so strong, I thought I would take this opportunity to properly introduce you to the woman behind the art.

Marigold Pascual’s zipper jewelry speaks to me. Each piece flows so beautifully and is crafted so well. I now have a good personal collection of her statement pieces and every time I wear one, without fail, I get stopped on the street, in coffee shops, at work – everyone wants to know what it is, where it came from and if they can touch it.

Canals of Venice Zipper Necklace

Well, Marigold has generously offered a special 15% discount to our readers, so we can spread the love to others who want to ‘wear your art’. You can visit both of her Etsy shops and use the discount code COMMUNALTABLE by clicking on ‘apply shop coupon code’ on checkout. The discount is for 15% off the entire purchase (not including shipping) for both of her shops.

Through getting to know her art and communicating with her through Etsy, I feel that I’ve gotten to know Marigold as well, and she’s one awesome and talented lady. Read on to find out for yourself…

Name: Marigold Pascual
Company Name: Love, Marigold
Location: New Orleans
Etsy Shops: – zipper pieces & other accessories – hair accessories & headdresses 

Has living in New Orleans influenced your work?
New Orleans has definitely influenced my work – in my shop I have hand-painted purses with images of the marshland, and palmetto bugs, and also have bracelets that I’ve made out of my photography of Mardi Gras Indians.  It’s my love for New Orleans, and the beauty of this city and its people that puts these particular images in my work.  Some of my zipper pieces remind me of specific memories, and of the various experiences I’ve been lucky to have.

There are many great things about being an artist in New Orleans; it has such a thriving artist community – be it music, theatre, performance, literary or traditional and non-traditional art. This is a community that nurtures its artists, and I think that is part of the reason that we have so much creativity here. The wonderful thing about living in New Orleans is that there are a lot of people who “get” it, and the work I do. It’s satisfying when someone buys a piece that I make, because that person is saying that they appreciate your work so much that they cannot be without it. What better compliment is there?

Why zippers? What attracted you to working with them?
Years ago I saw something made out of zippers – I think they were zipper flowers or something – that someone had made, and I thought it was really cool.  People have been doing innovative things with fabrics and ribbons for hundreds of years, and this was just another twist on the notion.  I remember thinking I might want to buy something like that, but then looked at the [expensive] price for this really small thing and thought, what?!  I can make that. And just like any form of free form sculpture, it becomes what you put into it.  I’ve never been able to make zipper rosettes, although I think I may have tried once, but I’m much more interested in the other shapes that zippers can take, and the winding roads it has taken me down.

Masquerade Zipper Necklace

How do you come up with all the fun, creative names for your pieces?
I used to be a writer.  And then when I started writing for a living, I no longer wanted to be a writer!  Which is why I still love to write when given the chance. As far as my zipper pieces, I just look at it and think about what it reminds me of, and what might be interesting to someone who looks at it to help them relate to the piece.

Evil Eye Protector Zipper Necklace
Splendors of the Sea Zipper Necklace

How do you get the zippers to flow so perfectly in each piece? 
I can’t say that my zipper pieces flow perfectly, nor do I try for perfection – if I did, I would probably be disappointed!  I just try to follow what I think the piece wants to do.  If I’m doing something that involves different sized circles and spirals, I start swirling and twirling several loops in different sizes, then lay them out in front of me.  Like a kid playing around with toys, I play around with the design to see how I want it all to play out.  When I get close to what I want, I assemble, then look at it to see if I think it needs something more.  If I’m doing swirls and ripples, I just start winding everything back and forth, and see where the piece takes me.

Where do you source your zippers from?
I get a good portion of them at a fabric and supply store here in New Orleans, because they always have interesting colors and close outs.  I sometimes buy lots on EBay and order from a zipper manufacturer in Philly.

English Rose Zipper Necklace

Is making zipper jewelry (and other accessories) your full-time gig?
Yes!  While I have been crafting and selling pieces for ten years now, in the last year or so, it has become my full time gig.  As much as I liked my day job, it had become really stressful.  And while there are many times that I miss the big paycheck, I am so much happier now.  I haven’t gotten to where I can really take my business to the next level, but I’m giving it a shot.  A good friend of mine got me a few resource books for Christmas on how to turn your craft into a business and the handmade marketplace.  I have a background in marketing and communications, so you would think it would be easier for me to take my own advice on what to do, but sometimes when you keep your own schedule, you can get lazy. I’m working on it though!

What keeps you going?
I have to make art, and I have to create things. It’s a Zen for me. I make art to relax, or when I’m feeling inspired, or when I simply want to feel productive.  I break out my supplies and create until the wee hours of the morning. I truly love what I do. I love taking raw materials and then turning it into something wonderful.

We love your catch phrase ‘Wear your art’ – is that how you see each piece, as a work of wearable art?
I do see each piece as a work of art.  We hang art on our walls, and place art on the shelves, put sculptures on pedestals, and that’s where many pieces stay. I don’t think that art should be limited to those constraints, and my goal is to create art for our bodies – so that each day we can partake in making ourselves artful, and each day we expose others to art.

Ripples in the Sand of Time Zipper Necklace

What do you say to people who love your pieces but don’t think they can pull them off?
I’ve had people come up to me and tell me that they love my work, but it’s not really for them. Then they try on a necklace, or they try on a headdress, and they somehow transform. I see them take on a different light – like they could become someone or something else if they wanted. I guess that is what I’m trying to communicate with my art – it’s okay to be proud, it’s okay to stand out, it’s okay to embrace wanting to be different. It’s okay to be exactly who you are, and it’s okay to want to be someone else every once it a while. Just feel good about it!

Bling Bling Zipper Necklace – a gift I bought for my hip grandma! She loves it.

Who are your customers? Who is attracted to your statement pieces?
My demographic is actually quite far reaching, which is fantastic. A variety of ages and occupations and personal styles. There are artists and other creative types who have purchased my items, as well as professionals.  I recently got an email from the Dean of a NY university, who received a zipper necklace as a gift from her daughter and adores it.  A visual artist wears one of my necklaces regularly. One of the shops in New Orleans who carries my zipper pieces says that she gets the most comments and purchases from the wealthy “ladies who lunch”!  My pieces look different on the different people who wear it, quite simply because they make it their own.

Egyptian Princess Zipper Necklace – my latest gift to myself.

What do you love most about having a shop on Etsy?
I like being able to reach a worldwide audience who appreciates the value of handmade goods.

What other creative outlets do you have?
Fashion, because I like putting together different outfits and costumes.  Cooking, because you get to eat the end result and explore different cultures without leaving your house!  Decorating, because I like to surround myself with beautiful and bright things that make me smile, make me feel warm, and make others feel welcome.

We couldn’t resist asking a few food-related Q’s – What’s your fave food or dish to cook at home?
Whenever I cook food, it’s usually some sort of Asian dish.  Being Filipina, I make Filipino food often as that’s my comfort food.  My partner has no natural instinct for ethnic cooking, so he makes a lot of New Orleans seafood dishes, and other things he has grown up with.  It’s a nice balance of East meets West at my house.

Fave New Orleans restaurants?
New Orleans has so many amazing places to eat!  My tops are Boucherie, Brigtsen’s & Jacque Imo’s.

Fave indulgence?
Chocolate anything.  And shoes.

Anything else you want to share?
I started crafting a little over ten years ago, and started making fabric purses.  I started playing around with it – seeing what worked and what didn’t – and really liked the therapeutic and creative outlet that crafting gave to me.  Making things, making art, is a release for me. Even though right now I’m making zipper necklaces and cuffs, I may move on to something else at any time…that’s the beauty of creation.  The same with my hair accessories – I went from making a quick barrette, to headbands, to full blown headdresses.  Once I start creating something, it seems I just can’t stop.  People sometimes tell me that they can’t imagine making things because they aren’t creative, or crafty.  I think that you should just try doing something – you’ll be surprised at what comes out of you.  I often am!

Maroon Marauder Zipper Necklace
Domino Zipper Cuff
Sound Wave Zipper Necklace

Daily Bread Donation Update + A Winner!

20 Dec

Daily Bread Food Bank

Things have been a little quiet on Communal Table over the past week or so, with Christmas prep slowly but surely taking over our lives. But we’re going to start this week off with some good news posts. Tomorrow, we announce the winner of our final 2010 Holiday Giveaway prize, a one-year subscription to Style at Home magazine. If you haven’t entered, today’s your last chance – click here for more info!

And today, even more exciting news. We began our donation drive for the Daily Bread Food Bank a month ago – armed with a desire to help and a pretty cool prize to give away to one of our readers who made a donation. Since then, we’ve been overwhelmed by the response. Thanks to your generosity, we’ve raised $1,250 to help feed people in need across the GTA. To put that into perspective, $25 allows the Daily Bread Food Bank to deliver an emergency food hamper box for a family of four. For $50, the organization’s Food Services Training Program can prepare enough casseroles to feed 40 people. And $100 allows Daily Bread Food Bank trucks to deliver 55,000 pounds of food. So that $1,250 will go a long way toward feeding GTA area families this Christmas (and beyond).

Anyone still interested in making a donation through Team Communal Table’s online donation page can do so. The page will remain active until the Daily Bread Food Bank’s Holiday Drive ends later this month. But our ‘donate and win’ initiative – where every donor was entered for the chance to win a $200 gift certificate to North 44 Restaurant plus a signed copy of chef Mark McEwan’s cookbook, Great Food at Home – has come to an end. The names of all who donated by midnight on Saturday were entered into our random draw held Sunday. And we have a winner… Congrats to Kelly Wray, whose generous donation ended up winning her a great prize!

Thanks to everyone for your help, and thanks to chef Mark McEwan and his team for such a great giveaway prize. We’re looking forward to our second-annual holiday donation drive next year!

Holiday Giveaway #3: Win a Subscription to Style at Home Magazine

14 Dec

Style at Home

Though Communal Table is primarily a food-focused blog, Neil and I also want to share some of our other passions; the kinds of things we like to discuss over a good meal.

One of those ‘other’ passions for me is design.

I kind of fell into working in design television several years ago and it pulled me in. Though I like to dabble in different genres where work is concerned, in life I’ve become a bit of a design junkie.

I’ve got my favorite design blogs that I check daily (Design Sponge and Making it Lovely are two of them, but the list is long), but what gets me really excited is coming home to find my mailbox spilling open with the gift of a great magazine inside.

Neil and I both have a thing for magazines. Neil is a magazine editor, so he truly understands the value of the printed page. And for me, there’s just something about leafing through those glossy pages, feeling the smooth paper between my fingers and admiring the beautiful things inside. Cozying up with a new issue of a great magazine and reading it cover to cover is one of my guilty pleasures and it really does make me happy.

So, in the spirit of opening up the blog to more of the things in life that we adore, we’re giving away what I consider to be the perfect holiday gift (one that keeps on giving!); a year-long subscription to Canada’s own Style at Home Magazine.

Neil got me a subscription last year and every month I’m still excited when a new issue reaches my door. I’ve given magazine subscriptions as gifts to friends as well, and it makes me happy to know that they’ll have something wonderful to enjoy all year long, and will think of me when each new issue arrives.

Style at Home is a beautiful magazine that’s not only filled with amazing design ideas, but great recipes too. Neil has been known to read over my shoulder from time to time.

I’ve had the great pleasure of working with the magazine’s Editor-in-Chief, Erin McLaughlin and Contributing Design Editor (and HGTV celeb) Samantha Pynn, and I can tell you for certain that these women live and breathe design and truly have a passion for sharing the latest and greatest in style.

To enter for the chance to win a subscription:

  1. Leave a comment below telling us what magazines you love to read and why.
  2. You’ll also get a bonus entry if you tweet this phrase: I entered to win a subscription to @StyleAtHome mag from #CommunalTable. Enter here:

That’s it! The winner can keep the subscription for themselves or give it as a gift to someone else.

You have until next Monday evening, December 20, to enter. We’ll draw a name from all entries and we’ll announce the winner here next Tuesday morning.

This time around, our friends at Style at Home have allowed us to open the contest up to both our Canadian and American readers, though American entries will be eligible for a digital subscription, whereas Canadian entries will be eligible for delivery of a print subscription.

Also, don’t forget about Communal Table’s donation drive on behalf of the Daily Bread Food Bank. With the help of our readers, we’ve collected more than $1,100 to help feed people in need. But we’re not done yet! All donations made by midnight on Saturday, December 18 are eligible to win a $200 gift certificate to North 44 Restaurant in Toronto and a signed copy of chef Mark McEwan’s new cookbook, Good Food at Home. Click here for details on how you can donate and win with Communal Table.

Happy holidays everyone! We’ve got lots of exciting content planned for 2011, including some great stories about design of all kinds…

Angéline’s Restaurant & Inn

14 Oct

Neil and I are storytellers by nature. With his journalism background and mine in television, we share a soft spot for a good, inspiring and relatable story. We love talking to people and discovering what makes them tick, and we take personal inspiration from people who are doing amazing things, especially in the food industry.

And so, what was supposed to be a quick overnight visit to Prince Edward County to experience “Taste!” turned into a lovely weekend full of pleasant surprises, both for our palates and the storytellers in us. It felt like everywhere we went, every corner we turned, we found the most interesting people, the most surprisingly delicious food and some real County hospitality.

This was particularly apparent in our experience dining and staying over at Angéline’s restaurant and inn in Bloomfield. It’s a beautiful, quirky (in all the right ways) and charming place where the food itself has just as much of a story as the young owners who have transformed it over the last three years.

At 24 and 21, siblings Alexandre and Melanie Fida may be the youngest people in the county to own a restaurant and inn, but what they’ve managed to accomplish with their new incarnation of Angéline’s is truly amazing.

Alexandre & Melanie

Twenty-three years ago, Alexandre and Melanie’s parents moved to Ontario from Switzerland and searched for a place to open a restaurant. They ended up in Bloomfield and saw the potential that the area had, even though there wasn’t a ton going on there at the time. It was hardly the destination it’s now become. Their chef-father, Willi Fida, wanted to open a high-end restaurant that offered a true culinary experience, even when there wasn’t anything else like it to be found in the area. So, they transformed a run-down Victorian house, using the main level for the restaurant and moving their family into the rooms upstairs. On the property right next to the main house was a small motel with a few cozy rooms, which became the inn. Alexandre and Melanie literally grew up at Angéline’s (whose name is actually taken from the original owner of the property) and watched the area change over time, with their father bringing inspiration to people across the County – especially food producers.

As Alexandre told us, “My dad was really very talented. He stayed true to what he believed in. When we first moved here, he would work with the farmers. No one knew what an endive was, so he talked to them and encouraged them to grow them. With time, the farmers began expanding on the produce they grew; at the time it was very focused on potatoes and carrots. Locally, he’s kind of known as the granddaddy of fine dining in this area.” Pretty impressive, given the reputation the County now has for quality, locally-produced food and wine.

Neil and I spoke to Alexandre for a long time, mesmerized by how intelligent, well spoken and open he was about his story and the history of Angéline’s. He and his sister didn’t originally plan to take over and transform the restaurant and inn at such an early stage in their lives. But when their father suddenly passed away in a tragic car accident in 2007, everything changed for them and they had a decision to make; keep what they knew and had grown up with, or let go and start fresh, breathing new life into a place that their parents had built over two decades.

After the community pulled together to help them get back on their feet, they chose the latter path. They decided to reinvent while still staying true to their father’s legacy. Neither of them have a formal education in hospitality, but they grew up surrounded by it. Their mother, Monika, was a teacher of hospitality in Geneva and had run the place for so many years, so they knew they had a good foundation.

It took them a few years to really make it their own. But they have since transformed the Inn itself as well as the restaurant’s menu, maintaining their father’s core values of using local, fresh ingredients and keeping everything as pure as possible, but also injecting a fresh take and a younger feel.

The restaurant under Willi Fida was very classic French right down to the way that things were plated. Alexandre and Melanie didn’t want to lose that completely, but they did want the menu to feel more playful and inventive. So they put an ad online looking for a new chef, and in a stroke of fateful luck, Executive Chef Sébastien Schwab “found them”, according to Alexandre. The fact that he was French-trained, and that he liked having fun with presentation and ‘playing’ with food, made him a great fit for their new beginning.

More than just playing with the food, Alexandre took to playing with the design of the space as well. After graduating from Toronto’s Ryerson University in interior design, he saw the inn as the perfect blank slate to put his talents to work. They decided to renovate the rooms in the main house to create two suites which Alexandre carefully decorated with a mix of antiques brought over from Switzerland and modern elements that really give off a homey, comfortable and unique feel. More than that, the walls of the inn and restaurant are filled with art by local artists. Everything’s for sale, is one of a kind, and is always changing. To Alexandre, it was important to support local artists as much as local food producers, and to encourage the younger generation to keep growing and evolving the County in every way.

One of three charming dining areas

The café, where fresh coffee and croissants are served to overnight guests

The mix of old and new and the quirky elements that make the place so unique really spoke to me and our stay there was such a calming and cathartic experience.  It felt special. It felt like a place that had taken a lot of care to build. We stayed in the newly renovated “Champagne Suite” in the main house and had an amazing meal at the restaurant that really embodied everything that Alexandre told us about the new concept for Angéline’s. We could taste the fresh ingredients, and we experienced the quality service and attention to detail, while still being surprised and delighted with the playful presentation of the food and interesting ingredients. The atmosphere was warm instead of stuffy, and everywhere you looked you were surrounded by art and creative elements in the design. Design complementing the food and vice versa, all together creating a full experience.

Lounge area in the Champagne Suite

The serene bathroom – a touch of modern amidst the antique charm

Asking questions about the art actually lead us to a visit down the road to see local artist (and server at Angéline’s!) Tammy Love’s shop, “HandWorks”. More than just her gallery, it’s an eclectic artist’s lair filled to the brim with incredible hand-made finds and stories to go along with each. Tammy will share them all with you as she charms the pants off of anyone who steps through the door, giving them her ‘spiel’ inviting them to touch everything, laugh, scream for help and just play. And that’s how it goes in the County… one story leads to another, one visit to a warm and friendly place leads you right down the road to find more of the same.

What Alexandre and Melanie have done with Angéline’s feels like just the beginning, as the County continues to grow with restaurants, wineries, art galleries and shops. And they plan to continue evolving as well, with their focus shifting to re-designing the rooms in the inn and revamping the café at the front of the restaurant. We feel so lucky to have experienced it for ourselves, but more than that, to have been invited to share in the story of the place and of the wonderful people who have brought it back to life.

Now for the fun stuff – a walk-through of our incredible meal:

Amuse Bouche: Beet Carpaccio with Avocado Oil & local herbs

The amuse of local beet carpaccio w/ avocado oil and local herbs was served with a ground cherry (my new fave!), and paired with Casa-Dea VQA Cuvee 2008, methode cuvee clos – a bubbly glass of heaven.

First Course: Trio of Soups served in a specially-designed holder

Soup #1: The most amazingly fresh corn soup we’ve ever had – it tasted like eating freshly picked corn right from the husk. The simplicity yet intensity of flavor in this soup blew us away. Made with sweet corn from Vader farms.

Soup #2: Spiced Tomato from Vicki’s Veggies. Perfectly spiced, savory and smooth. Delicious!

Soup #3: Zucchini from Hagerman Farms. Clean and simple.

2nd Course: Seared Foie Gras on House-Made Gingerbread

Pan seared foie gras with local apples flambeed in calvados, house-made gingerbread, with balsamic reduction, honey nectar and local sunflower sprouts. Seriously. This was probably even more amazing than it even sounds. It was truly so well prepared and decadent and delicious. We could have stopped after this dish and we would have been very happy. This dish was paired with Huff Estates Chardonnay 2008 VQA


3rd course: Lamb Ravioli with Sweet Pea Emulsion

Local lamb ravioli on sweet pea emulsion with sunflower sprouts and basil from the chef’s garden. This dish was paired with 2008 pinot noir county cuvee from Rosehall Run. It was beautiful and the ravioli were delicious, but the sweet pea emulsion was a little too spicy for some reason. Still, a gorgeous course and the heat didn’t stop us from polishing it off.


4th course: Coffee-encrusted Halibut with Parsnip Puree

Coffee-encrusted halibut on parsnip puree with lovage and brunoise of veggies, in a county cider emulsion. This was amazing. It inspired Neil and I to try encrusting fish in coffee sometime. Such inspired flavors! The coffee crunch on the fish was so powerful, yet not overpowering and the parsnip puree was so flavorful and creamy. We loved everything about this dish.


5th course: Trio of House-Made Desserts

Desserts in the trio: Chocolate ganache with a hazelnut feuilletine base, vanilla creme brulee &  local cantaloupe sorbet. Ok, I have to admit, we dug into the dessert before even stopping to take a photo. That explains the half-eaten mess on the plate. Everything was delicious. The ganache in particular tasted very ‘Francais’, especially with the feuilletine crust (which has a finely layered and crispy texture).

Finale: Homemade Nougat

Yes, just when we thought it was all over, they brought over a little dish with pieces of glassy-looking homemade nougat that were soft and chewy and so, so good.

The wine-pairings were  chosen by Alexandre himself (who is very well-versed on the wineries in the county) and each dish was described and explained to us as it came to the table. Check out the current menu for more. Angeline’s will be participating in an event called Countylicious in November where they’ll offer a special prix-fixe menu.

Artfully Obsessed: Charlotte Hosten & Zipper Necklaces

11 May

Everyone who knows me knows about my addiction. It’s something I can’t kick, but everyone needs a vice, right?

I am obsessed with beautiful things. Beautiful handmade things make me swoon; jewelry in particular. And when I get excited about something, everyone hears about it. So this blog will have to serve as an outlet once in a while for my obsessions beyond food and cooking.

I am in LOVE with my new Charlotte Hosten necklace. And the best part is that she’s a designer from my native Montreal.

Her pieces are drop dead, stop-you-in-the-street gorgeous! When I saw the navy collar (pictured above) at Shopgirls (a fabulous Toronto shop that promotes local artists and designers) last week, I gushed and stood in the mirror for way too long admiring myself in it. Then I thought about it and dreamed about it all weekend long, which is a symptom of this crazy addiction of mine, until I convinced myself that I couldn’t live without it. Clearly it had to be mine!

I love the design of this piece, the weight of the glass beads, the sparkle of the little crystals and the fact that the grey flower is removable and can be worn as a brooch. It’s just so well made and well designed.

My husband thinks I’m nuts, but every piece that I fall head over heels in love with is like a little orphaned child that I just need to take home and nurture. And I truly do fall in love. I have such an appreciation and admiration for artists and visionaries who have the talent, creativity and skill to bring beautiful things to life. And I love sharing them with like-minded people even more.

So I’ll share just one more (for now).

A few months ago on one of my Etsy-surfing nights I discovered an artist from New Orleans whose work blew me away. Marigold, aka ‘dreamer76’ is a true artist who takes coiled zippers and turns them into show-stopping pieces of wearable art. The minute I saw her shop I knew I had to have one of her zipper necklaces. Well, maybe two.

I missed my chance to buy an amazing vintage gold zipper necklace she had created so I initially bought a black and silver one and messaged Marigold to see if she’d make me a custom gold necklace. That’s what makes Etsy’s business model so damn awesome. I had instant access to a jewelry designer in New Orleans, who I started emailing with and who kept in touch and kept me in the loop when new designs came out. So when she created this second amazing gold zipper necklace and gave me first dibs at buying it I was thrilled. (She will do custom, by the way!)

Every Etsy item I’ve purchased has come to my door like a true gift. Every artist has included a handwritten note, packaged and wrapped my items in a beautiful and unique way and has included some kind of free gift (like a surprise pair of earrings or a hair clip!). So thoughtful.

So although my bank account may suffer every once in a while from my obsessive behavior, at least the artists can rest assured that their pieces are going to a good home where they’ll continue to be appreciated and loved. There’s nothing like buying a beautiful piece that someone made by hand. I plan to continue giving into my addiction (within reason of course!) and I hope to keep sharing my finds with anyone who will indulge me.

UPDATE: Here’s an updated post all about Marigold Pascual, the artist behind the zipper jewelry. She’s offered a discount to readers of Communal Table – check it out here

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