Sunday, January 31, 2010

We have a little boutique near us that sells really adorable jewelry and knick-knacks.  I especially like visiting it because they have candy that I used to have when I was a kid.   They have things like candy buttons on rolls of paper, wax bottles filled with sweet colored liquid, wax lips,  Skybars which have 4 flavors (vanilla, chocolate, fudge and peanut butter - I would never eat the vanilla).  They have Razzles which are halfway between candy and gum (which meant they weren't really good candy and they were a pretty poor substitute for gum), and Fizzies, which you can put into milk and turn it into different flavors (entertaining, but pretty yucky as I recall)!

Of course back then, candy used to cost a nickel or a dime. These now cost just a little bit more.

My daughter could probably spend hours deciding over the candy but she also loves the jewelry they have.  Probably because they look like the candy and sweet treats that the shop sells!  But I just found an Etsy seller, Robin's Jewelry Box, that has similar cute items that are really affordable.

Look at that little cupcake necklace!  It really looks good enough to eat!  But that ring is really adorable.  I don't usually buy jewelry since I make it myself, but I don't make things like this!

I think Emma would like that cupcake necklace.

[Follow-up, Sunday evening:  nope, Emma wanted the matching Peanut Butter and Jelly Necklaces.  She's keeping one for herself, and giving one to her best friend. ]



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Friday, January 29, 2010

Silver Spiral Earrings

When I was little, one summer my mother took me to Eastern Europe to visit relatives who lived on farmlands there.

It was very strange and incredibly backwards to me. I dealt with no TV, no friends, odd surroundings, strange people who spoke a foreign language, homesickness, and OUTHOUSES!

Now that I look back on it, I had a wonderful time.

I remember wandering alone near a barnyard one day and, finding a long piece of copper wire in the dirt, I began playing with it. Eventually, inspired by my surroundings, it gained shape and became a horse.

Although it was long ago, I remember this vividly. Afterwards, my relatives were amazed and made a fuss that, out of boredom, I had created a piece of art out of rusty trash that I found on the ground.

That wasn't the last time that I created something from wire or dabbled in the arts. But over the years I got older, went to school, got a job, and had a family. Somehow I made time to have hobbies and create, but it was stolen time.

A few years ago I started making jewelry. Stringing beads evolved into using wire and metals which evolved into metalwork, which I am very happy with right now.

Above are a new pair of earrings I made this weekend by playing with a bit of scrap wire.


It all comes around, doesn't it.



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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Can you tell that I've been busy in my workshop lately? I spent many fun hours there over the Christmas break but I hadn't really gotten a chance to take photos until recently. So I have a lot of new work to share with you.

This cabochon is just extraordinary. It's a Prudent Man Plume Agate that was cut by Gemcutter, an artisan on Etsy. Layers of greens, golds,blues and whites form a perfect landscape. It looks as though you are peering down a forest into a fog-enveloped valley.

The mountain valley scene inspired me to create a woodland-themed pendant. On one side of this pendant, the focus is entirely on the beautiful cab. On the other, I cut the silver in the shape of a leaf and allowed the stone to shine through.

(And I only broke 6 saw blades cutting out the leaf!!!!)

A hand cut and stamped sterling leaf adds a little extra interest on both sides of this pendant so you can wear it either way. Or if the pendant flips around when you're wearing it, you never have to worry about it because it looks great either way!

I'm not sure which side is my favorite. While I like the cut-out leaf, that agate is just gorgeous on it's own.

If you want to see a few more photos of this pendant, they can be found here.




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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

graveyard-plume-agate-ring-sterlingA few weeks ago I decided that it was time for this plume agate, which I've had for a while, to embark on a new life as a ring.


Lately I've found that I have a block of time on Saturday afternoons when I spend a few relatively uninterupted hours in my workshop. ( "....mommy, mommy, can you make me some lunch"..."can you pick up my friend and take us to the mall"... "woof, woof...")

I sketched out a few designs, trying to incorporate the stone's plumes in the pattern. Visualizing it in my head, I went ahead and began to saw out some silver sheet and create the setting.

Remember that I've said that sometimes the designs seem to create themselves. THIS TIME it wasn't the case.

Several hours later and a couple of ruined bezels, I gave up. The solder didn't want to flow, the bezels wanted to melt, and the design wasn't right.

Let me tell you, I wasn't happy. But I was also stubborn. I WAS going to get it right, even if it took me forever.

Back to my workshop I went the next morning. Several MORE hours later, a design finally started to emerge. No, it wasn't what I started out with. But it seemed to flow with the aura of the stone.

Some leaves, a fern frond, and it worked. FINALLY.

More pictures can be found here. (Oh and yes, you'll find a dragonfly on the underside of the setting!)




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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sonoma Sunrise Ring

I'm really drawn to both red and blue stones. I understand why I like red stones because I wear a lot of red. But I don't wear much blue - and the brighter hues don't suit me at all. But I love it none the less- possibly because it's such an uncommon color for stones.

This is the reason why I've become fascinated with Sonoma Sunrise. Sonora Sunrise stones are made up of Chrysocolla, which is a beautiful blue, and Cuprite, which can have some wonderfully vibrant reds in the better stones.

Whenever I can find them, I try to snap these stones up. I probably have half a dozen of cabs waiting to be made into jewelry, but when I saw this particular one, I couldn't help myself.

The colors are so bright, the pattern so lovely, and the rectangular cut so unique. I just had to have it. And as soon as it arrived in the post, the stone and I had a date in my workshop immediately.

And in my mind, from the first instance I saw it, I knew this stone was going to be a ring.

Unlike necklaces or pendants, I think rings are a personal joy. When you wear a necklace, it's only seen by others, but when you wear a ring, you can enjoy seeing it on your hand all day.

This particular cabochon is quite hefty. Most of the rings I've made are quite a bit smaller, but what the heck! I don't want to be boring and do the same thing all the time!

Oh and I ended up adding a little dragonfly to the underside of the setting AGAIN! (Yes, I love that stamp.)

More pictures of this ring can be found here.





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Monday, January 25, 2010

MooShu learned the hard way that you should never go to bed with wet hair.
And he doesn't look too happy about having his picture taken looking like this!

But a few quick swipes of the brush made him feel better about himself, and now he's ready for anything!

Yes, he may look innocent now, but if you're not careful, he'd steal the sock right off your your foot. (Which he's doing right now, as I type!)


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Wednesday, January 20, 2010


I wrote about this pendant and cab just last week. ( More photos of this Ocean Jasper can be found here.) It's one that I'd been working on for over a month. But considering that I finished the pendant a few weeks ago, and I only had to add the chain and make the clasp, it took me long enough!

My problem has been that I've gotten sidetracked. I've been buying quite a few gorgeous cabs (including this one) recently. Now that I have all these cabs, I just want to play with them all! So I've started so many projects and then left them partially completed while I've started others.

I also have quite a few completed projects that I still have to photograph or list in my shop or post on this blog.

Oh and life and my regular job get in the way. For example, today I'm off for a quick business trip to North Carolina. But I've got my computer with recent photos on it, and I hope to do some photoediting in my spare time.

I'll definitely be blogging about some more new jewelry this week.



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Monday, January 18, 2010

I just received a late Christmas present from a friend of mine:

Yes, the wonderfully useful, Squirrel Underpants.

If you are tired of nasty little squirrels flaunting their nuts in your backyard, or having to hide your children's eyes every time one of the furry little buggers streaks across your yard, then this is the gift for you!

(I am absolutely sure that next Christmas's recipient of this marvelous gift will appreciate it as much as I did.)

I opened the plastic and found the squirrel underpants to be quite small. Size XXXXS appears to correspond to a 3 inch waist measurement.

Disappointingly, there was no opening for the tail.

Nonetheless, only one question went through my mind when I opened the package of Squirrel Underpants: Would they fit MooShu?

Unfortunately, due to the numerous treats that tended to fall onto our kitchen floor over the holidays, MooShu has gained some weight and is now tipping the scales at a rotund 4 lbs. So it was possible - even likely! - that the Squirrel Underpants might not fit his once-svelte body.

When they were dangled in front of him, the tighty-whities appeared to intimidate MooShu and we had to chase him around the house for a while before we were able to capture him.

Once captured, even after sniffing the underwear (probably to assure himself that they had not been previously worn), he remained unimpressed and did not want to put them on.

We, however, pressed him and eventually got the squirrel underpants on him.

And here is a photo of MooShu wearing the Squirrel Underpants:










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Friday, January 15, 2010

Cherry Creek Jasper Ring

cherry creek picasso jasper ring
I bought this Cherry Creek Jasper cabochon about a year ago. The muted colors are just gorgeous and I couldn't resist it. It was one of a matched pair of stones meant to be set as earrings but I always knew it was destined to become a ring.

Last weekend I finally decided it was time to create with it. (Yes, I know. It's been a year but sometimes it takes me a while. That's the reason why I have a candy dish full of cabochons waiting to be set!) I sketched out a design that I was pretty pleased with and headed out to my workshop to make a ring.

But something happened along the way. No matter how I tried to replicate the design I drew, something told me to change it. It was almost like the stone was telling me what to do it kept changing the design.

The way this ring turned out is much better than I had planned. I'd never made these little vines before but I really like them! I'm definitely thinking about using them in future works.

Oh, and as an afterthought, I decided to add a dragonfly to the back of the setting! (I'm getting awfully fond of that stamp! It may be showing up on more pieces.)

For more photos of the ring, click here.





Oh, and for all you MooShu fans, MooShu Monday is coming up. And this time he's going to be dressing up for it!



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Thursday, January 14, 2010

In yesterday's post, I featured an Ocean Jasper Pendant with a setting highlighted with asymmetrical flowers. I liked those flowers so much, I thought they would make wonderful little post earrings.

These earrings are quite small - only about 6-8 mm across - which make them great for everyday wear. But what I like best about them is that their symmetrical, whimsical feel. (For some more pictures of them, click here.)


Now excuse me because I'm going to change the subject.

This weekend I was reading a jewelry making magazine with a how-to article I thought would be fun to try. (It explained how to use rivets to make cold connections, a new technique I had been wanting to try for a while.)

The materials list was short and since it used copper, I figured it would be a pretty inexpensive experiment in jewelry making.

But then I noticed there was another list, a list of needed supplies.

For the simple pendant, the supply list was amazingly extensive. I added it up and the supplies totaled more than $500!!!

Just for fun, I decided to add up how much in supplies it cost me to make the post earrings above.

Disc cutters for cutting circles to make the flowers: $130
Metal shears (good ones) for trimming the silver : $60
Dapping block to dome the flowers: $50
A stamp to make the circle inside the flower: $10
Misc tools and supplies to solder the silver and posts (these are the cheapo versions): $70
Jewelry tumbler to harden and shine up the earrings: $100
Misc supplies to finish, oxidize, and polish up the metal: $30

Grand total: $450

Wow. Pretty mind-boggling, isn't it.


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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Ocean Jasper Pendant

ocean jasper pendant sterling

Ocean Jasper is found only one place on earth: the northwest coast of Madagascar. It can only be seen and collected at low tide and only by boat.

Ocean Jasper was named for its location as well how it resembles to the foams of the ocean as it recedes back into the ocean, with its wavy patterns of colors.

I bought this beautiful ocean jasper cabochon from StonesInMotion, a seller on Etsy. It has a sparkly green druzy (sort of like a miniture geode!) in the middle of the stone, which makes it all the more special. And if you look closely at the little orange “eyes” , they're surrounded by green "cogs" making them look like flowers. I wanted to use them as a motif, and tried to replicate them as flowers on the setting. But just like the eyes of the jasper, I didn't make them perfectly symmetrical. I think the assymetry gives them a bit of character.

Too big for a ring (at least for me - I guess I'm not that daring yet), I decided to set the stone as a pendant. It’s still a work-in-progress because I will add a chain when I get the time.

However, I did have time to make some matching earrings, which I'll blog about in tomorrow's post.



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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I really want to make jewelry that's unique - not mass produced - something that can't be purchased on sale at a local department store. By practice and trial, I've learned a lot of things about metalwork over the past year. And I'm trying to put what I've learned into practice.

I made this setting a few weeks ago. The stone is prehnite, one of my favorites. The clean green color always reminds me of sun-drenched water from steams and ponds, and I wanted the setting to reflect that feeling.

I surrounded the stone with cattails. But the pendant was missing something. I thought long and hard about it. And then it came to me - a pond always has some water life around it!

I remembered a dragonfly stamp that I had seen and thought it would be perfect. It took a couple of weeks for me to get it, but I finally got it last night and stamped the design onto the pendant.

To complete the pendant, I offset it with some prehnite beads and a handmade toggle clasp, and finished the entire piece by antiquing it. I'm so happy with the results..

Overall, I think it has somewhat of an art deco look to it!

I have a lot of new pieces I've been working on and will be posting about them in my blog this week. Come back and check them out.



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Saturday, January 9, 2010


Click for a bigger image

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Ever since I learned how to solder, I've fallen in love in setting cabochons. Rings, pendants, earrings...I just love making them.

As you probably can guess I can buy them faster than I can set them. Therefore, this has resulted in me buying way too many of them. Right now I have a small candy dish full of them.

They're not an inexpensive habit. I probably have several hundred dollars worth. This doesn't quite rival the amount of sterling sheet and wire that I have -which definitely amounts to more than a thousand or so dollars of metal.

(Please note: my husband will probably be reading this, so the figures I quote may be ever so slightly conservative.)

My cabochon stash comes from various sources: I know someone who's cut stones for a hobby for many years... I've discovered several lapidary shops in my local area ... a dealer from Russia frequents a local gem show with some unusual finds...and I scour Etsy for cool stones and great deals.

One day while browsing Etsy I found an unusual stone. It was monochromatic and the pattern was odd. Someone else might have not taken a second look..... but I like odd. And the more I looked at it, the more I liked it.

The problem with buying online, is that what you get is often a surprise in one way or another. Sometimes the size isn't really what you imagined. Sometimes the colors aren't what were pictured in the photo. Sometimes, the item is a true disappointment. But, sometimes, the surprise is amazingly pleasant.

When I opened my package from Etsy, I looked at the cabochon and went "huh".

It wasn't a bad "huh".

It was a just a surprised "huh".

The cabochon was......interesting. The more I looked at it, the more I liked it and the more I saw in it.

It took me a while, but I suddenly realized that this stone reminded me of a shard of old bone china with a vintage pattern of roses. And then I knew how I would have to set it. The setting would have to remind one of an old bouquet.

This was beyond what I had tried before, but I was more than willing to try something new. Surprisingly, the design came quickly. It was like the flowers inside the cabochon really wanted to be arranged!
roses_cabochon_jewelry_pendant_sterling_rose
And this is what I created. I call it, Still Life With Roses.

And many, many thanks to Lost Sierra, for his skills in pulling out a wonderful piece of art from a rock (can you believe it!) and allowing me the opportunity to create.



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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

While I can do a lot of wirework and stringing in a spare room in my house, much of my metalwork and soldering has been delegated to the garage. Living in the midwest, that means it's incredibly hot in the summer and terribly cold in the winter. In the summer I leave the garage door open in the hope of a cooling breeze while I solder. And in the winter, I sometimes work with a coat on. But often, the garage is not too inviting or it's just too much much of a hassle.

Here's a pic of my garage working area. I think you'll see what I mean.

Not a pretty sight, is it. (And I have to work around the car!)

So during the Christmas break, I decided it was time to set up shop in the basement.

First it meant cleaning out years of accumulated boxes in an unfinished storage area. Then it meant cleaning out my garage work area and hauling all my stuff to the basement.

But it was worth it!

After getting everything set up, I spent a lot of time during the holidays working on new designs. In fact, I had so much fun doing that, that I didn't even want to "waste" any time photographing my new jewelry or listing it in my shop.

I have quite a backlog now and lots of new works to post on my blog. So I'm going to try to spend the next week or two showing off some of the things I've been working on and some of the new techniques I've been trying.

Today I'll start with a set of earrings and matching necklace that I made as a gift. A couple posts back, I mentioned that I bought a Pepe disc cutter, and I've been using it a lot. I also bought some metal stamps. (Oops! I should have blogged about those! Maybe later.)

Both these pieces were made using my disc cutter on some sterling sheet which was then stamped, and then domed on my dapping block. (Of course I practiced on some inexpensive copper before I went to silver.) I added some turquoise and antique whiteheart beads for a southwest look.

I'd never made anything like this before and I had fun designing it. I can see modifying this style into something I might offer on my Etsy shop in the future. I have tons of old African Trade Beads and antique Venetian beads and I think they would look great with this type of design.

Stay tuned for my next blog. It'll be about a lovely cabochon I bought from a wonderful seller on Etsy that I incorporated into a pendant.




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Monday, January 4, 2010

My daughter left her sweatshirt on the ground and MooShu found that it was the perfect place to take a nap! Nice and warm, and close to the kitchen where yummy things are often found to fall to the floor.


MooShu's very fond of his toys and likes to bring them with him to bed. Here you can see that he brought over a bright pink sock and one of his favorite toys, a tiny chipmunk. Sometimes he can be found napping with half a dozen or more toys arranged carefully around him!



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