Saturday, January 31, 2009

Love of My Life

dog bouvier black
No, not Rick. I'm talking about Xena. She's my beautiful Bouvier. Xena is the perfect dog: undemanding, a little lazy, a little snuggly and very quiet. But best of all, she's positively adorable.

This first photo was taken shortly (2-3 weeks) after a trip to the groomer. She's at her cutest when her hair has started to grow back.

This next photo was taken in the middle of winter. She had been enjoying the fresh snowfall in the backyard when I called her to come back to the house. This is Xena saying "no, I'm not ready".

Recently, I took this photo of Xena in her usual position -- horizontal in one of her 3 beds. I love her to pieces.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Today It's All About Me

It's my birthday. It's not a milestone type birthday. It's just my day.

Rick comes up with the most ingenious packaging for his gifts to me. This morning I woke up to a small box wrapped with the grocery store ad from the newspaper. Instead of ribbon, he decorated the package with the twirly things that are left after you drill something. (I wonder if those have a name?). These were from some steel and some lovely blue plastic. The package was quite festive, actually.

The card - he makes the best cards - is made from copper that he heat treated to alter the color. Here's the best part -- he used fold-forming techniques so that it actually opens, like a card! It's really beautiful.

Oh yeah, there was a present too! The earrings are mokume gane domed discs with that wonderful patina he uses to turn the copper parts blue. Just yummy.

My day has started out perfectly.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Blues Trio . Necklace

Here's a pretty simple necklace that I just listed in my etsy shop. It's an easy to wear, goes with everything sort of necklace. Its clasps in the front and it's several shades of blue. It would look great with jeans --I wear jeans nearly everyday, so I assume everyone else does too!

The blue trio is composed of a stick pearl, a pale blue faceted quartz briolette and a teardrop of indigo blue tourmaline. Yum.

Click the photo to go directly to the listing!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


I've never been interested much in poetry ... until recently.

While at Artfest in the spring of 2007, I was was busy with workshops that resulted in finished products. I hammered, I bent and twisted wire, I glued, I cut, I bound a book, I applied patina and I set rivets.

While I was busy creating tangible objects, my friend Chelline attended a poetry workshop. In the evenings, we sat around sharing stories of our days. I was intrigued by the poems Chelline wrote. She read them out loud. One of them made me cry, others brought a smile to my face. The instructor of her workshop was Susan Wooldridge.

It's taken almost two years, but last week I purchased Susan's book Poemcrazy. This book was the foundation for the worshop Chelline attended. I'm loving the practice exercises in the book.

During my walk with Xena this morning, I said words aloud ... random words, words describing things I saw, things I felt, words that sprung forth from other words. What a liberating experience.

I'll keep you posted on my poetic journey ...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I'm Part Packrat ... bet you didn't know that

Yes, I'm afraid it's true. But I've decided to start parting with some of the glorious finds I've collected over the years. I adore vintage stuff, but most of it has been packed away, rarely seen or enjoyed. NO, I will NOT part with any of the vintage jewelry, so don't even ask about that!

I've recently listed 2 items in my other etsy shop, A Peaceful Life, that fall into the vintage category. I'm hoping that someone else can appreciated them and show them more love than I've been able to.This first item is a 1943 calendar made by the Everready Calendar Company. They still make desk calendars today! This one is softened with age and has some notes regarding the weather distributed throughout.The next item is a box of very old crayons. I couldn't find out very much about the company that manufactured them, but this box is amazingly well preserved. The crayons inside show a bit more wear.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Golden Citrine

jewelry earrings sterling silver citrine peridot iolite
The citrine briolettes featured in these earrings were purchased at the Bead Shack in Anchorage. They are incredibly clear and smooth. I'm usually attracted to faceted gemstones, but these just spoke to me.

I've suspended them from a short length of sterling silver chain. From each link, I've added a gemstone, alternating iolite rondelles and peridot briolettes.

This color combination is regal and also makes me think of spring!

Click on the photo to be taken directly to the listing in my etsy shop.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Creative Muse

sterling silver earrings large pearls white cluster keshi
My creative muse was here for an extended visit last week and I shamelessly took advantage of her presence. I made a series of earrings that I'm exceptionally pleased with. The more difficult part was the photo shoot, but that went surprisingly well also.

If you read my previous post, you can see that the view from my work area this time of year is composed of much white -- ice and snow. This pair of earrings exemplifies what I was feeling as I gazed out that window.

You all know that I have a serious problem with collecting pearls. These are probably the most luxurious ones I've ever purchased. They measure a generous 11 mm across. The luster is spectacular and there is a hint of pink when the light hits them from a certain angle.


Friday, January 23, 2009

Welcome to my Mess ...

To the untrained eye, to the casual observer ... my studio is a mess. But it's my mess and I know where everything is. Well, almost. I reluctantly share this photo with you of my primary work area.

It is a big teak desk, completely overloaded with compartment boxes full of pearls and gemstones. There are more of these boxes stacked behind me. Oh, and glass beads live in an old printers cabinet. See, I actually do know where stuff is. While I don't do much stringing anymore, I still work on a traditional bead board. It keeps the beads from rolling where they're not supposed to roll. Now, if only I could figure out how to stop dropping every piece on the floor at least once!

I recently did a small rearrangement in my studio and I'm still getting used to looking directly out the window while working. It can be an inspiration or a distraction, depending on my mood.

All along the windowsill are little bowls and small art pieces. These are definitely inspiration. I love little containers, most especially when they're full of beads. This is how I "store" my lampwork collection. They're always ready to be fondled or jsut stared at. Maybe they're more of a distraction than I'm willing to admit.
I have another table (not pictured -- it's just too scary) where I do some torch work and forging. When not in use, that table becomes the staging area for whatever else is going on. I also use it for packing orders. Wish I needed it more often for that purpose!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Smoky Quartz ... Two Ways

This cut of smoky quartz has tremendous appeal. It' s large, it's twisted and it's faceted. What more could a girl ask for? These beads are perfect for earrings.

The first pair of earrings is brand new. Here, I've topped them with a loose cluster of tourmaline rondelles in various shades of green. They sit below sterling silver leverback earwires. The combination is both earthy and elegant. Click the photo to see the earrings from some different angles.earrings smoky quartz sterling silver oxidized faceted Too formal, too dressy, you say? How about these? The same beautiful smoky quartz beads, but with a completely different look. These earrings are much more casual. The circles are fine silver, which I fused from 16 ga wire. I handcrafted the earwires. In this case, oxidizing the silver adds to the casual look of these earrings.The takeaway message? Just because a gemstone is highly faceted and super sparkly, doesn't mean it can only be used for formal, dressy pieces of jewelry. Experiment with combinations and you might surprise yourself and your customers!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Love Affair ... with Labradorite

handcrafted earrings sterling silver labradorite briolettes oxidized
Yes, I'm featuring labradorite yet again. Maybe it's the gray skies we've been having lately that have driven me to my labradorite stash. Whatever the cause, my love of labradorite continues, especially when I find such lovely stones as these plump briolettes.

I purchased them from my friend Deb in Hong Kong. She has 2 etsy shops -- visit them both! They will give you a small insight into the kind of gem hoarder she really is.

Back to the stones. You can see that these labs are HUGE, as far as labs go. Here, I simply wrapped them with some sterling silver wire and suspended them from leverback earwires. They really don't need much more adornment. I love these stones so much that I kept the the first pair of these earrings that I made. It was several months before I could even think about using another pair of the labs to make earrings to sell!

You all know that I'm not a photographer, so I can't explain why these earrings look so different when photographed on a white background. The white certainly shows the blue flash much more distinctly. It probably makes no sense, but both of these photos are truly representative of these earrings.
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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Pleated Paper - Notecards

This technique, found on CD#6 from Technique Junkies is super easy, but results in a nice, polished looking card.

For both of these cards, I started with lightweight patterned paper. I think the weight of the paper made this technique even easier. I like the effect of sponging a darker color on each of the pleats. It helps to accentuate those folds. Of course, the folds are more visible in person.

The first card features a stamp from Stampin Up that I use often. It contains a a bunch of positive words that are appropriate for many occasions. The second card is an all purpose thank you card, again featuring stamps from Stampin Up.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Nostalgic Necklace

necklace brass antique key escutcheon blue vintage glass bead
Ready for a little romance and nostalgia? Have a look at this necklace. It's more of an assemblage than a pendant. I love incorporating an assortment of materials into a necklace such as this one.

The rich warmth of the brass elements is nicely offset by the cool blues of the beads. That dotted bead is a treasured one from my (vast) collection of vintage glass beads. I'm not sure how I convinced myself to actually use it!

I've been collecting skeleton keys for quite some time and this necklace features a really nice one. the heart beads? Well, they just seemed to want to be part of this necklace.

It is for sale in my etsy shop. Click on the photo to go directly to the listing.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Soft Colors ... Redux

sterling silver earrings prasiolite green amethyst pink tourmaline
I'm really taken by the softness conveyed by certain gemstones. For these earrings, I paired pale green with shades of pink.

At the bottom of this cascade of gemstones is a faceted cube of prasiolite (green amethyst). Above it are another prasiolite, some pink tourmaline rounds and a light green tourmaline barrel.

I choose not to oxidized the silver on earrings such as these, as I feel the bright silver best shows the beauty of the stones.

See some different photos of these earrings by clicking on the photo.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Completion of My Metal Book

I wasn't sure it would be possible for me to finish this project, but alas, I have completed the book. While I'm happy with the results, this book does not have the finished, polished look of the book I made in class.

The coptic binding was easier that I was expecting, thanks to the detailed notes I had. After my class at Volcano Arts, my classmate Shari and I decided to write down detailed instructions on how to do that binding. Without those instructions, it would have been far more difficult.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Lovely Labradorite

jewelry earrings labradorite briolettes sterling silver
I finally found the long slim labradorite briolettes I've been searching for. These stones are just beautiful -- full of subtle color and lots of flash. I found these stones from JenniferLoveBeads on etsy. She has a wonderful selection of fine gemstones.

As many of you know, photography is not my forte and labradorite poses its own unique challenges. These photos are as good as I could get.

The sterling silver leverback earwires and wire for wrapping was oxidized, followed by a little hand sanding to highlight a small amount of the shiny silver.

These earrings are for sale in my etsy shop. Or, you can click on either of the photos to go directly to the listing.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Metal Book Project

Remember the metal covered book I made at the fabulous class I took at Volcano Arts last spring? I decided to make another one ... all by myself ... without the instructor telling me what to do every step of the way.

I didn't think to take pictures early in the process, but here's one photo of all of the parts, ready to assemble. The copper covers have been cut, sanded and patinated. The decorative brass elements have been similarly prepped, but have no patina on them. I etched a fern pattern on the small nickel silver component. When these pieces and parts were all ready, I took them out to Rick's shop to use his drill press. (I think I want one of those) While in his shop, I used his torch to make ball headpins from 14 ga copper. My little torch would barely make that gauge of wire hot!I keep this work table covered with unprinted newsprint (purchased in rolls from the ADN), unless I'm using a torch, of course! The paper is great for making quick notes and writing down measurments. In the far background you can see the original book that I made in class. Next to it is a set of radial bristle discs for polishing the metals. In front of that are the six signatures for the text block. You can also see the vise and nail-set that I will use to set the copper headpins. When set , they will be the rivets that hold the parts together.
This is the same bunch of stuff, just a different anlge. Off to set those rivets!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Snippet of a Map....

brass mixed media necklace jewelry kingsbridge
It's been quite a while since I listed a mixed media piece in my etsy shop, so I decided to do so yesterday. The techniques for this piece (and all of the mixed media pieces in my shop) were inspired by a class I took with Linda and Opie O'Brien at Artfest 2007. That class was an eye-opener for me. I learned that I didn't need a whole studio full of new and expensive tools to do some basic metal work. Just a few simple tools would work just fine.

I have a pile of patterned papers that I constantly scan for interesting segments. I use the small piece of acrylic as a "lens" for viewing these patterned papers. The colors found in this little snippet of a map appealed to me and I thought they would look good on a brass background.

Using some skeleton leaves, I textured the brass in my rolling mill. I then patinated and sanded the brass to accentuate the pattern. After gluing the image to the back of the acrylic panel, I used tiny eyelets to attach the acrylic panel to the brass. Add a few beaded dangles and some lovely brass chain and voila! A fun and whimsical necklace.

By the way, Kingsbridge is in Devon, in the southern part of the UK.

This necklace is for sale in my etsy shop. You can click on the image to go directly to the listing.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Fun Color Combinations

Years ago, before I created jewelry, I was very closed-minded about combining certain colors. I would never have worn red and purple together, for example. Those limitations I imposed upon myself slowly disappeared as my jewelry making became a major part of my life.

Here are a few examples of color combinations that I now love and don't even think twice about! I now think that all colors are meant to be together.

This first pair of earrings features turquoise and olive green serpentine. The next pair pairs a chartreuse green glass bead and deep purple glass. The contrast is wonderful. In the last pair, you see pink quartz and deep, dark green tourmaline.

All of these color combinations are somewhat eclectic, yet they work. One of my favorite reference books for working with color is Colorworks by Deb Menz. Not only is it a great technical resource, but it's inspiring as well. I get lost in the pages of this book and always walk away from it with fresh ideas and swirls of color in my head.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Iolite and Keshi Pearl Necklace

jewelry necklace iolite sterling silver keshi pearls
I just listed this brand new necklace in my etsy shop. I love the simplicity of it. The blue colors -- think jeans -- make this a necklace you can wear everyday.

Faceted rondelles and faceted rectangles of pale blue iolite are joined by peacock keshi pearls to form the cluster. This is suspended from a circle that I fused from fine silver wire. The chain is sterling silver. I oxidized all of the silver and then tumbled it for that shiny steel gay finish.

Click on the photo to go directly to the listing and see more photos of this necklace. Or, click here to go to my etsy shop.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Palest of Pinks

jewelry earrings pink quartz white keshi pearls leverback
A tight cluster of tiny white keshi pearls sits atop a magnificent faceted teardrop of pink quartz. These teardrops are such a pale pink that they only look good with other pale colors or white. Any dark additions just overwhelm these little beauties.

These soft, feminine earrings would be perfect for a special Valentine's Day. They are available in my etsy shop. Click the photo to go directly to the listing!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

We Have a Winner!

The winner for my card giveaway is GeckoJewelry. I have contacted her and will send her notecards on Monday.

Meanwhile, here in Chugiak, the temperature remains an unbearable -20. I think I'll stay indoors today and play with some beads.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Twisted Tapestry Double - and a Giveaway!

I finally made some time to try the rubber stamping techniques found on CD#6 from Technique Junkies. These 2 cards feature the Twisted Tapestry Double technique. What's great about this is that you get 2 distinctly different background papers from the one technique.

The technique calls for Mica Magic or Brilliance reinkers. I don't have either of those, but I do have Opalite reinkers (in every color), so I decided to try it with those. The resulting colors are more subtle because Opalites are interference colors, but beautiful nevertheless. The downside is that these inks took about 2 days to dry!

The technique also calls for black glossy cardstock, which I used, but I will try it with matte cardstock next time ... and there will be a next time.

Leave me a comment on this post and your'e automatically entered to receive these 2 cards ... for free! I will select a winner using a random number generator. Be sure to include your email address so I can get in touch with you.

Be sure to sign up for my etsy shop newsletter to receive special offers. The sign up form is to the right.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Enough Already!

I've lost track of how many days my outdoor thermometer has been stuck on this number. Enough is enough. We get the idea. It's Alaska. It's winter. It's cold. Let's move on.

On a positive note, the sky has been beautiful. The mornings bring on a glowing shade of pink that is known as Alpenglow. It is truly indescribable. Yesterday evening, on the way into Eagle River for a celebratory anniversary dinner, the sky was in layers of teal, blue and finally, black. Absolutely gorgeous.

I tried to recreate it using the colourlovers website and this is as close as I could get:

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Asymmetry in Motion

jewelry necklace asymmetrical green pearls oxidized
For a long time, all of my jewelry designs were symmetrical, controlled and orderly. Then I took some classes where I learned that designs needn't be symmetrical to be beautiful. Hey, I'll attribute this symmetry obsession to my engineering background.

Here's a necklace with a bit of asymmetry that works wonderfully. The big olive green pearl at the bottom reminds me of an irregular egg.

The pearl is suspended from a fused circle of fine silver. Trailing up one side of the chain is a line of smaller pearls. The other side is pure chain. All of the silver has been oxidized and tumbled for that shiny steel gray finish I love.

This necklace is for sale in my etsy shop. If you haven't signed up for my newsletter yet, you can do so by filling in the form at the right.

Monday, January 5, 2009

If I Can't be at the Beach ...

freeform bead weaving mother of pearl seed beads pin brooch pendant
... I'll share a piece of jewelry that reminds me of the beach! This brooch/pendant base is a disk of super lustrous mother of pearl. I drilled a few holes in it to help secure the freeform beadwork.

The beadwork is composed of ocean-y colors -- aqua, teal, green, seafoam, turquoise and little bronze. The large bead in the center is a Peruvian Opal and the diamond shaped bead is Fluorite. The remainder of the beads are glass seed beads in various sizes.

Here's a peek at the back of the pin. I glued on a finding that will allow this to be worn as either a pin or a pendant.

This lovely piece is for sale and ON SALE in my etsy shop!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Vintage Image Notecards

These vintage images were created from rubber stamps from The Stampsmith. Estelle has a wonderful selection of photo image stamps of flappers, celebrities and regular folks. They are great for collages and notecards.

I used dark brown ink on glossy cardstock to stamp these images. The best way to ink these stamps is to use a brayer. The detail is so fine, that a brayer is the only way I've found that results in full and even coverage.

The background that I created using the Gesso Batik technique from the Technique Junkies Newsletter had a very vintage feel to it. The background is the same on both cards, but I chose slightly different color schemes for each card. I also chose different surface embellisments for the two cards.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Aqua Blues . The Necklace

sterling silver jewelry wire wrapped aqua blue chrysocolla amazonite turquoise abaloneThese colors are so reminiscent of the ocean and all things tropical. I enjoy making these free-form wire wrapped elements, but the real fun is in composing the collection of drops.

Here, I've used a large rondelle of chrysocolla, an abalone rectangle, a faceted amazonite rectangle, little teal coin pearls and a beautiful glass leaf. You see an assortment of other little goodies as well -- turquoise, sterling silver beads and a crystal.

All of the silver has been oxidized and hand sanded to reveal just a bit of the shiny silver. This necklace is for sale in my etsy shop.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Two New Pairs of Earrings

Faceted briolettes and keshi pearls ... there's something about the combination that works well for me. This first pair features longish amethyst briolettes that I have topped with a cluster of peacock colored keshi pearls. I like to put these types of earrings on leverback earwires for the security offered by such findings.

The second pair of earrings has a more delicate look. I started with shorter and plumper gray quartz briolettes, which are actually a very blue gray. Topping these is a loose cluster of very small white keshi pearls.

Recently, I changed the background color for some of my photographs. I had been using handmade papers, then for a short time switched to a very white background. Those photos seemed boring to me. Now, I'm trying out this charcoal gray colored paper. I quite like the look.

Don't forget to sign up for my etsy shop newsletter to be informed about specials and sales. The sign up form is to the right.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

Rick & I had a quiet New Year's Eve watching movies and sipping champagne. We had to calm Xena every time some fireworks exploded nearby. All in all though, it was a pleasant evening.

Happy New Year to all!