Living Outside The Box
The Helmrichs are not like any other family you'll ever meet. Ralph, Karen, and their two children, Leah and Byron, ages 18 and 14 live a nomadic lifestyle and own a family business which produces handcrafted jewelry and supplies, mostly specializing in chainmaille, and tools, kits, and supplies for its enthusiasts.
Although they call both Livingston, Texas and Rolla, Missouri home, they spend much of their time traveling around the USA in their RV hitting the show circuits to sell their wares. Traveling with them are two dogs; Ivey, a Doxie, and Hookah, a Basset, and two cats; Triangle, and a new kitten, Whiskey.
The children have always been homeschooled and it's clear that all this extraordinary life experience throughout their formative years complete with the daily love and attention from both parents has resulted in compassionate, insightful, and mature individuals with wisdom beyond their years!
The family belongs to Schooling At Home Etsyians Team.
They have taken the Handmade Pledge and in keeping with this philosophy make all their gifts for one another. They also belong to the Fulltime Etsy Crafters Team .
These are just a few examples of what can be made with some of their unique components!
Ring Made from Japanese Flower Weave
Earrings Created from Mobius Weave
Bracelet made with Inca Puno Weave
Each member of the family has an important role in making the business successful;
Ring Made in European 4 in 1 Weave
Leah handles much of the packing up of orders, preparing them to be shipped to the many happy customers who place their orders online and she creates some of the jewelry you see in the Unkamen Gifts etsy shop and on the independant website; UnkamenGifts.com. She began making basic jewelry in 2005 when a fellow RVing friend introduced her to the craft. She found that she loved this medium and then made pieces for herself and friends, and soon she began selling it locally. Her school studies keep her busy but she maintains her own Etsy shop filled with interesting and colorful designs, Favmoongirl . Last summer she attended a hiking course at NOLS in Alaska, adding to the lower 48 states the family has traveled in.
Most of the tutorials on various chainmaille weaves the family has posted on Youtube feature her. Subscribe to their Youtube channel for all kinds of cool step by step instructions on using your jumprings and other components to transform them into beautiful jewelry!
Necklace in Jens Pind Weave
Byron , her brother,began collecting and learning to polish various stones with his father Ralph's help a few years ago. He started marketing them as "Gratitude Stones" because he recognized that "the root of true happiness is being grateful for everything that you have". He expanded his line to include magnets, pinback buttons and keychains. He also sews little pouches and hand makes all the paper envelopes to be used for packaging every piece that goes to buyers.
Bracelet in Byzantine Weave (Created from Ralph's special square wire jump rings wound with edges pointing outward)
Earrings in Barrel Weave
Karen who was previously an RN, Registered Yoga Instructor and Certified Personal Trainer now works fulltime handling the back-end of the business. She does the bookkeeping, maintains the company's internet locations, photographs most of the items, and does research and development including testing out all the products offered for sale. She also helps come up with many of the jewelry design ideas you see in the online shops and at shows.
Ralph's passion for jewelry began when he presented a necklace he'd made to Karen about 6 years ago. Seeing her wear and enjoy this necklace got the wheels turning in his mind and he was inspired to learn more advanced jewelry-making techniques, and he became really interested in chainmaille in particular. Being an engineer the precise and mathematical principles of the technique really appealed to him. He is semi-retired from his previous line of work and currently does only occasional consulting and trouble-shooting for aerosol manufacturers to supplement his income from Unkamen Gifts/Supplies.
He winds and cuts all the handcrafted jumprings and solders some more elaborate components, and he has some items you can't find elsewhere.
Research has shown that the more support somebody with cancer has the better the odds of a good outcome, so send your good thoughts and prayers his way during this difficult time.
Better still, place an order in one or more of his shops. I am a firm believer that "luck" doesn't happen in a vaccuum and really involves decisive action. Well wishes combined with action is a powerful prescription. Not only can you "wish" good luck you can be good luck for him and his family.
I know from when my mother had cancer that treatment is not only a scary undertaking but expensive, and insurance (especially in this day and age of budget cuts and rising healthcare costs) doesn't cover everything.
I have some beautiful components he made and hope to put in another order when he returns. I can personally vouch for the quality of them. His exacting standards and wonderful customer service make ordering custom components a great experience. He is even creating some findings for me from my own drawing!
To order supplies go to UnkamenSupplies
For finished chainmaille jewelry go to; UnkamenGifts.etsy.com or http://unkamengifts.com/
For Jewelry for Teens and Young Adults go to; FavMoonGirl Creations
For Keychains and Accessories go to; Unkamen Keychains
For Leah's other shop of sterling and gold designs other than chainmaille; Startphyre Designs
Find the Helmrich family on Facebook: www.facebook.com/UnkamenGifts
And follow their blog here; www.unkamengifts.com/blog/