This is the personal blog of Michelle Cali, creator of Wine Coutures and John8eight. Here she plans to get overly personal with you by giving details of her creative process along with rants and raves about her two favorite subjects- alcohol and weddings. She will write often, (not sure if that's a promise or a threat), so please visit as much as you can tolerate. Enjoy!

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Letter

As many of you may be aware, a while back I applied to my first juried art show. It is call the One of a Kind Show, and is held in Chicago and Canada every year. I had never planned to apply because the entry fee was so high for those who got accepted, ($2,000+). But through a partnership with, the One of a Kind Show was allowing a few unknown designers in for the incredibly low price of just $500. So, with encouragement from my hubby, I applied to the show in Chicago.

Last week I opened my email to find this lovely letter waiting for me from the One of a Kind Show:

Dear 2009 Etsy Artist Pavilion Applicant,

Thank you very much for applying to the 2009 One of a Kind Show & Sale® – Etsy Artist Pavilion.

Over the last few weeks, the jury committee viewed all images and information submitted by each applicant. The applications were judged by category, quality and diversity of the work as well as on the professional experience each artist had in their specific field.

Unfortunately, we are not able to accept your application this year. While we would like to take every artist into the show, space and category limitations prevent us from having the ability to do so.

We thank you for applying to this year’s pavilion, and we encourage you to check our website in January of 2010 for future application postings

Thank you very much for your participation in the application process.

Best Regards,

Kim Runner
Director of Sales Chicago

Yup, my first rejection letter. I'd be lying if I told you I didn't cry. Not that I was conceded enough to think they would just be wowed by my work, but I did hope they would like it enough to count me in. Ray, ever the caring husband, called the judges all sorts of creative names and came to the conclusion that they are all idiots at that show and will regret not selecting my work.

So, I dust off my little ego and get back to work. Lesson learned- if at first you don't succeed, continue your plans for world domination and add the One of a Kind Show to my every growing list of people to enslave first when I become ruler of the world!

Punk Rock Brides

As some of you may remember, I am a member of BridalTweet, a huge bridal community. Since I joined, I have been meeting some truly awesome people who are changing the face of the bridal industry. I'm all about artist going against tradition and alternative styles.

One such person I've met recently is Jessica Warrick. She is the owner of Jessica's Custom Invitations, She is also the writer behind a great new blog called Punk Rock Brides,

The blog is still fairly new, but I'm already a fan. She is a voice to watch out for. Don't be surprised if soon you'll be hearing her name as a professional in the field of punk/retro weddings.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Style. Substance. Soul. - Article Feature

Another unexpected feature occurred today from a wonderful growing site that I have been a part of for some time now. The site is called Style. Substance. Soul. This mention of my company was presented in their E-newsletter that is sent out to thousands of their subscribers.

The cool thing is that my company is mentioned in an article inspired by Coco Chanel. I am so totally honored for such a mention.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Wait

Well, I've sent in my application for consideration into the One of a Kind Show through Etsy. Here is a picture of the mock-up both display that I made. Not too bad for an amateur!
And now we wait.
This is the hardest part for me. Not knowing who is reviewing my aaplication. If I submitted everything correctly. Have they already trashed my application or has it been placed in the 'maybe' pile. (I'm not arrogant enough to think that the judges are wowed by my work.)
There is of course still the problem of where on earth I'm going to get the money for my booth, if I'm accepted, and how the hell am I going to get to Chicago from here. But I just have to stop and keep reminding myself that I will cross that bridge when I get to get. (Something tells me I may be asking for an early Christmas present from everyone in the form of cash.)
In the meantime, I'm heading back into my studio to start work on a new line of charms that has started forming in my little head.
Wish me luck!

Finding An Old Friend

It just amazes me how quickly the world has shrunk since the creation of Facebook. People you though were lost are just a few key strokes away from being found.

One such person I found recently is an old schoolmate of mine. Cisily Elcan.

Now I have to admit, we were far from being BFF's in grammar school. She was the popular girl with a great clique of cool friends. She excelled in every subject and she was always the girl every boy in class wanted to date.

I, on the other hand, could have choked on an apple seed, did a Oscar-winning death scene ending in a dramatic fall upon the teacher's desk and it still would have been a couple of weeks before anyone noticed I was dead. I was the strange little geek who barely talked, and when I did, was rarely understood.

Yet, I admired Cisily and for some reason, for all these years, she has stayed on my mind. So, I decided to do what most people do when looking for someone you haven't seen or spoken to since 7th grade- I looked her up on Facebook!

Cisily is making her mark as an artist of words and a connoisseur of great music. Besides past teachers and homework, it seems that Cisily and I have something else that we share- a love of poetry.

So, if you get a chance, please check out her blog of the written word. Show her some love. She is a great emerging artist.

You can also hear her words spoken at

Monday, August 31, 2009

Liver Life Walk

As you know, I am walking in this years American Liver Foundation Liver Walk. If you would like to join my team, donate money to a worthy cause, or participate in a walk near you then please check out my team's page at:

I hope to see you at the walk.

I've Been Blogged About, Again

Yes, once again I have been blogged about on someone's blog site. Women-Prenuergalore has posted a wonderful interview and product review about my little company. Please check it out at:

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I Just Could Not Resist

The devil made me do it and I found it truly funny when I did it. I posted a new listing of a wine glass charm that I've tried to avoid listing due to it's name. Go ahead and check it out to see what I mean:

Wish Me Luck

So, I've been having an online affair for some time now. No, not with a man, and not with a woman either, you sick perverted person, you. It's been with a website. to be exact. For some time now I have been visiting the site of the One of a Kind Show, wishing that one day I could be able to show my work at one of the biggest holiday shopping events in the United States. Again, this year I let the application deadline come and go as there was just no way I would be able to afford the almost $2,000 booth price even if I was to be accepted into the show. *sigh*

But, now a second opportunity has come along that may give me a chance at my dream. Etsy has teamed up with the One of a Kind Show to showcase some new artist. Their application deadline is this September and the price for a both, if accepted, is only $500.00. I still don't know where I will be able to get the money for the show or the airline tickets to go, (or where to stay for that matter). But like my hubby reminded me, let's see if I am even accepted before I jump the gun.

So, this week I am filling out my application and turning it in. Wish me luck!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

My First Blog Review

So, I have to start off by saying that being a part of BridalTweet has really paid off for me. If you do anything dealing with weddings, I strongly suggest you join the community.

One such lady from the BridalTweet community is Susan A. Shapiro. She has a site called "BravoBride is an online marketplace for new, discounted and pre-owned wedding items." They have just launched their BravoBride Boutiques for vendors to list their items that are either on sale or below normal retail value.

Susan contacted me about the opportunity to join their new boutique. Even though at this time I feel it would be better for me to stay with Etsy as my main selling outlet, I thanked her for noticing my work and even considering me a candidate for BravoBride.

Well, she wrote me back letting me know that her company just blogged about my wine charms on their site. (***Sweet!***) I am the entry for August 20th. So here is the link to the site, please feel free to check it out:

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Meaningful Statement

I was cleaning out some boxes and going through some paperwork the other day when stumbled upon a sketch book that I thought I had lost. I had bought the book back in 2002 and was trying to use it to come up with my next great business plan. At the time I wanted to go into fashion, creating my own clothing line using recycled clothes, (even then I was into the whole recycling thing).

Within the pages of the book I found a statement that I had written about being a designer. I still feel strongly about what I wrote and would like to share it with you now:

This entry was dated August 14, 2003

"I will be a happy designer. I'm tired of seeing all these fashion designers on TV interviews looking like they would rather be having their teeth pulled with no pain killers then to talk about their collection. I just hate depressed, unimpressed designers. There are thousands of aspiring young designers that would kill to trade places with these top designers. Yet too many designers look as if someone is holding a gun to their head and forcing them to design. It's a gift and blessing to do what you love. When God favors you to give you such a life you should show your appreciation for it. What God has given, he can take away just as quickly. I will show my thankfulness to God if he allows me to become a designer. I will not take his gift to me for granted. I will be a happy designer."

Saturday, August 15, 2009

My First Public Speech About My Transplant

I was asked to give a speech on August 12, at the Kick-Off event for the San Francisco Liver Walk. This was the first time I had ever publicly told my story in my own words. Although my husband and I have been interviewed before about the events surrounding my transplant, this telling of my story was not in front of a camera or recorded on a tape recorder and put into print with correct grammer. This time it was live and I had to tell the story without the help of my husband.

Scared as hell would be an understatement. My whole body was shaking from the moment I stood up until it was time for us to head home. I'm not sure what all I said, but everyone told me I did a good job and that I was a very powerful speaker.

At the event, both before it started and right after it ended, the people at the ALF Northern California chapter could not stop talking about my wine bottle necklaces and wine glass charms that I had sent them for the Flavors event. If I could blush I would have been bright red from all the talk. I have never gotten such genuine positive response from so many at once about my work. Talk about a wonderful ego booster!

I am truly looking forward to my continued work with the ALF.

The Donated Wine Bottle Necklaces

So, finally I have pictures to show you of the wine bottle necklaces that were up for auction at this year's Flavors Event. They are a very nice collection if I do say so myself.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

To Sell, You Must Learn To Fish

So, after months of posting pictures, making connections and adding to my collection, all the hard work has finally paid off!

I was well informed not to expect quick mass sales when I first joined Esty. It takes a while for customers to get to know you and trust you before they buy. Every week I would just read selling tips provided by Etsy, be inspired by their 'Quit You Day Job' series and continue to make and list more charms in my store. I would work on my product tags and even joined an Etsy team. And most importantly, I waited. And waited.

I think the waiting is the part that separates armatures from professionals. Most people don't have the stamina to be patient for a sale. They want to see immediate feedback in the form of profit. If not, they pull in the 'open' sign and close up shop, thinking no one wants to buy what they offer- even when they know they have a good product.

The truth is, they do want to buy what you make, they just need some time to find you and know that you will be there when they get to you. It's sort of like fishing. You know a good part of water that is full of fish, but just because you throw your line in doesn't mean 100 fish are going to suddenly fight over each other to get to your lure. You have to wait. You may not get a bite that day or that week, for that matter. But patience always pays off. Just when you think the spot you picked is dead and the fish just won't bite, that is when you start getting back to back catches! That is the same for selling. Patience. And lots of it.

However, while you wait you need to still do some work. Yes, waiting takes work. You take more and better pictures of your work. You build up your inventory. Start or update your blog. Get business cards. Study your competition. Enter contest. Submit your work to magazines or blogs of interest. Give positive feedback to other artist you admire. Join forum or groups and make sure you are an active member. Stop worrying about selling and just relish in the idea of being an artist/crafter. Above all, don't doubt yourself and don't quit. And then suddenly on a boring Thursday afternoon you log into your email account to see that you've had three sales from 1 am that morning!

Now, here comes the part that can make or break a seller's future- be grateful! Thank your customers for their purchase, no matter how small. Leave positive feedback. Send a thank you card out with each purchase. Then spread the love. Give a few extra dollars when the offering plate comes around. Take your niece out to that movie she really wants to see. Fix your parent's
back gate that's been squeaking for years. Positive grows positive.

Then watch as you fall into a comfortable cycle of the work of waiting, the reward of patience and the spread of love. I must tell you, it is a nice cycle to live in.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Charmed For A Cause

So, for those of you who don't know, each year the American Liver Foundation hosts an event called Flavors. This event usually takes place in every state that an ALF chapter is located. The Flavors event is a culinary experience that includes foods specially prepared by top chefs in the area along with a silent auction. It is a very high-class event and one that every person should try to attend at least once in their life.

Well, this year the ALF Northern California chapter has asked me to donate some of my wine glass charms and bottle necklaces for their auction. They will compliment the wines that they have up for auction. I am so honored to be asked to do this.

I'll ask if it is possible to get some pictures of my wine glass charms at the event. Iwill be posting some pictures of the bottle necklaces as soon as I am finished working on them.

To find out more check them out at

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tea Party Update

Wanted to let you know that the Mad Hatter Tea Party on Saturday was a wonderful success! I had a really good time sharing stories and swapping parenting advice over hot cups of tea and delicious delicacies.

My table display at the silent auction table

Not a bad starting bid on the sets

This was just one of 5 tables set up with goods to bid on.

Monday, May 11, 2009

I'm With The Eco's, Of Course!

Okay, I have to make a confession here. You know those 'in' groups in grammar school and high school? The group all the girls wanted to be a part of? Well, I was never one of those girls. I despised all things that felt like a clique. I was always the odd girl out. Even in college as a Theatre major I was still the loner chick among theatre freaks! No sororities. Not even in the Honor Society. So, what on earth compelled me to try to join an Etsy team?!

If you don't know what an Etsy team is, here is the description taken from the Etsy website:

"Etsy Teams are groups of organized Etsy members who network, share skills, and promote their shops and Etsy together. A Team forms around a shared location, crafting medium, or another interest."

These teams are like their own sororities- promoting and encouraging each other; sharing pictures and stories; exchange gifts; participating in fun activities. Basically doing everything together except having a sleep over and braiding each other's hair. ( Which I'm not completely sure this isn't going on in one of the groups.)

So, here I am in the middle of the night browsing through teams. I had applied to a couple before with unsurprising rejections. So, for apparently some deep rooted sadomasochistic tendency that I have yet to unearth in my therapy sessions, I submitted another request. This time it was to join the EcoEtsy team. This group is about using recycled materials in all they do and promoting a eco-friendly lifestyle.

Holy cow! Just imagine my shock when I got an email the next day with a formal invitation inviting me to join the EcoEtsy team. *Squeal* I'm accepted! They like me! They really like me! Yes, even in my 30's it still feels good to be a part of the 'in' crowd.

So now I want you all to go visit the EcoEtsy website to see just how cool they really are. You can find them at or click on the link on the right hand side of my blog.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Her Comes The Bride!

No, I'm not getting married, (my hubby already married me twice and swore he won't be doing it again). What I did do is I joined this new online community called Bridal Tweet. It is all about weddings- from vendors to brides to people who just can't get enough of weddings. The community just launched in April of this year and already it is gathering a large following.

I think Bridal Tweet is on its way to becoming a 'hot spot' for many brides to visit during their wedding planning. Check it out for yourself-

Coffee, Tea, or Me?

This Saturday, the Willow Glen Baptist Church will be having a Mad Hatter Tea Party to raise funds to send our youth to Hume Lake this summer.

There will be a silent auction which will include among other things, three sets of Wine Coutures wine charms!

I was so excited and honored to be asked to donate some of my wine charms for this event. I'll be attending the event and hopefully will be able to put my bid in for a few items.
I'll be sure to let you know how the event went. If I can remember, I will try to take some pictures as well.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

In The Beginning....

So, how did this all start? No, I'm not talking about the start of mankind. I'm talking about Wine Coutures. Just how did all these wine charms come about?

Well, I'm glad you asked. Let me tell you...

It all started back in October of 2005. That is when me and my hubby got married. We had planned our honeymoon for Cancun, Mexico. Unfortunately, Hurricane Wilma had other plans that month. So, a day before we were suppose to leave we were able to change our entire honeymoon to the California wine country. We stayed in Santa Rosa and made trips to San Francisco and Napa Valley.

It was in Napa Valley that we became members of the V. Sattui wine of the month club. This was my first real introduction to wine and from the very first sip I knew it would become a life long passion of mine.

Forward the clock to September 2007, where are family is unpacking boxes after being stationed in California for my hubby's shore duty. Being that we were still wine club members and enjoyed wine tastings, we started making frequent trips not only to Napa Valley, but other wineries in the surrounding area. One day, as we are browsing through a winery gift shop, my hubby happens upon a package of wine glass charms.

"Honey, look at these. They are so cheap looking. I can't believe they are asking $20 for these things. See, you should make stuff like this. You can totally do a better job then whoever made these".

My hubby has a way of coming up with bright ideas. And history has shown that the ideas my man comes up with tend to prosper if followed. Whether it was too much wine in my system that day, or maybe the thrill of having an excuse not to do house work- I don't know. But that night I pulled out some old jewelry and my old pliers and in a couple of hours I had made several cool miniature necklaces that fit perfectly around our wine glasses. I was hooked. And the dishes still lay dirty in the sink.

From that moment it would take another year before Wine Coutures got its name and a life on the web. In the meantime, I just kept creating more wine glass charms.
The name came about during my time watching pictures from New York Fashion Week online. I realized that my charms didn't fit the mold and pattern of all the other wine charms currently being sold. I felt that mine were a bit above the norm. Taking a cue from the fashion world I used a word normally associated with high fashion- couture. (I added the 's' at the end because when I started my website, was already taken and I wasn't about to pay some crazy price to buy the domain name from some greedy nerd. So, being the cheap chick that I am, I just simply added an 's' at the end and it all worked out.)

So, that is how it all started. And now it continues to grow from a simple idea to a growing interest with a following of admirers eager to see what I create next.

Recycle, Reuse, Renew

There has always been a small group of artist on the fringe who have done work involving recycled materials long before recycling became cool.

There are now stores that specialize in saving items that with usually in up in a landfill and instead selling them at dirt cheap prices for artist and teachers to use in their art work.

Check out the following article about such a store. There are also some great links at the bottom of the article that are work checking out:

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Star Is (Re)Born

Some people have asked, even fewer have cared, but for the sake of feeling important I am going to allow you to glimpse inside my creative world! Prepare to be amazed as I reveal to you how I create a wine glass charm. *sounds of 'ooh' and 'aw' coming from the audience*

Yes, only here can you witness the remarkable journey of a lonely, discarded and unloved necklace as it is magically transformed into a sexy and highly desirable wine glass charm. (Sexiness may not be available in all areas. Some restrictions apply.)

So, prepare to be wowed and amazed! . . . . . .
The magic all starts with a simple, unsuspecting necklace. Once living a life of glamore and intrigue, this necklace has now found itself abandoned and fallen from grace- a mere shadow of its former self.
Yet, within the darkness of despair shines a small glimmer of hope. Hope for a better life beyond the gutter that it now finds itself in.
Realizing that in order to move forward it must let go of the past, this necklace took the brave step of getting rid of those things that it no longer needed.
With a renewed sense of self worth this necklace began to surround itself with those things that would be beneficial in rebuilding a new life for itself. (chain, shell disk and small pearl are also pieces from former jewelry)
Slowly, but surely, the pieces started to come together and for the first time in a long time it seemed that there was finally light at the end of the tunnel.

Now people can hardly believe that this is the same necklace that everyone said was ruined and had lost its glory. No longer hiding in the shadows of the past, this baby has made a comeback performance that people will be talking about for years to come. "Don't hate me because I'm recycled. Hate me because you're not!"

Friday, April 24, 2009

Belly Dancer, Snake Charmer

After learning of and recovering from my liver transplant, I created a 'bucket list' of things that I wanted to do but was always afraid of doing before. The first on my list was to open my own store, which I've now done and can't believe I waited so long to do it! Another thing on my list was to learn belly dancing. I'm loving the moves and the introduction to Middle Eastern music. What I didn't expect was my sudden love for tribal jewelry.

I'm now finding myself spending time on the web searching and studying tribal jewelry worn by belly dancers. They are so unique, exotic and almost other-worldly. It is easy to find some of this tribal jewelry now creeping its way into some of my wine charms. Not that I'm saying its a bad thing. :-)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Twilight Tuesdays Challenge 27- Jasper Hale

As if I really needed an excuse to do this challenge.
Jasper Hale is my favorite character in Twilight.

I made this bracelet out of crystals. Crystals are known to absorb negativity and create a sense of peace for the wearer. The light blue crystals also add a calming effect to the piece. It looks like the type of bracelet Jasper would buy for Alice, and one that she would love to wear often!
Since I haven't been able to run into Jasper lately, I keep myself calm by being creative. As long as my hands are at work doing something creative, then my mind is at peace. Knitting, crochet, scrap booking, jewelry making- if it is creative, then I am at peace!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Twilight Bug

It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I've been bitten by the Twilight bug. Now lately, I've been toying with the thought of making a series of wine charms inspired by Twilight. A quick search online and you can find so many beautiful things made by Twilight fans. The books just beg for creative expression.

Now, Twilight is not the only thing getting my creative juices going. I also realized the amazing body of work that can come from my love of all things Harry Potter too! I guess all this inspiration is going to lead me to making several collections based on fantasy books and/or movies. My mind is already coming up with a few ideas for Lord of the Rings. ;-)
I'll keep you posted on how these inspired pieces are coming along. Since these pieces are inspired by certain books I think I will sell them as a set rather then my usual individual pieces. Might also create some coordinating packaging to keep the whole theme going. Hummm....

Saturday, March 28, 2009

My Not So Secret Addiction

Okay, they say that the first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem.
(deep breath)So here I go-

My name is Michelle. And I'm addicted to young British boys. There, I said it. Now you know. It's not that I've ever met a British boy in person, ( Phoenix, Arizona apparently is not on the top of the list of vacationing spots for British families).
No, my fascination is enjoyed from afar.

It all started when Price William grew out of his teenage awkward stage. He stopped looking like a little kid from "Oliver Twist" and started looking like, well, a prince! I was able to suppress my addition for a while and even felt for a moment that I was on the road to recovery. And then they cast the lead part of the first Harry Potter movie to Daniel Radcliffe and I became a full fledged addict!

Something in that accent that just drives me nuts. My hubby refuses to take me to Europe for fear I might confess my undying love to every British male on the plane.
Jamie Oliver, Jamie Cullum. Oh, to be young with enough money to catch a plane to Europe.
Well, compared to most vises, mine is pretty tame. No one is being hurt by my obsession (except for the few occasions when I pounce on my husband after hearing him speak in a British accent), and my bank account is in no way affected by my daily needed fixes. (Twilight wallpaper anyone?)
Harmless, yet incredibly satisfying, this is an addiction I don't mind not recovering from.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The 'Etsy' Bitty Storefront

Yes, I finally did it! No, not that! Please get your mind out of the gutter for a second. I was referring to the fact that I finally opened my store on Etsy. I've been toying with the idea for a while. I thought about it right after I opened my website. It seemed like a good way to attract more business, but as you know, life tends to get in the way of our plans and neat little to-do lists. So the whole thing just got pushed to the back burner until now. (Some 'props to my peeps' goes out to my good friend, Maggie, who confessed her addiction to Etsy to me and gave me that extra little push that I needed to take the plunge).
I have a few items on display right now and will be adding more over the next few weeks. With some unnatural time on my hands right now I am going to take advantage of it by creating some more pieces to add to the store.
I still have my website at You can no longer buy directly from the site, but you can still learn about the company there and see some of my work that has sold in the past. There is also a link on the site that takes you directly to my Etsy store for purchasing current items on sale. My little store can be found at Let me know what you think!