Saturday, February 28, 2009

Lovely Kyanite

One of my favorite purchases at the Tucson Gem Shows this year was a strand of beautifully smooth kyanite briolettes. When using this this past week, I decided to keep the design simple. I used some oxidized sterling silver wire and chain and a pair of my hand forged earwires. This necklace and these earrings are perfect for dressing up an outfit of jeans and a crisp white shirt.

jewelry earrings necklace kyanite blue denim sterling silver oxidizedBoth are available in my etsy shop.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Catie's Blue - Jewelry Inspired by Color

Today I'm featuring one of teammates on the Artisan Beaders Street Team, the very talented Brandi of Catie's Blue. I'm thrilled to have a good reason to stalk her shop! I do it everyday anyway, just to see what's new. Brandi is one of the sweetest, smartest and helpful people I have met on etsy and I'm proud to call her friend as well as teammate.

Brandi's use of color and materials is incomparable. Have a look at this gorgeous necklace. The artful combination of natural stones, artisan lampwork and precious metals is impressive.

These earrings also feature lampwork and gemstones that complement each other perfectly.When you are in need of a jewelry fix, please be sure to visit Caties Blue on etsy. You will NOT be disappointed! Brandi has also opened a shop on Artfire.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


On our walk to the inlet this morning, I was trying to find inspiration (see yesterday's post). At first glance, everything I looked at was a shade of white, black, gray or some shade of brown. This is typical for this time of year.

Then I looked more closely at my surroundings. A long since frozen high-bush cranberry glistened in the sun. It was a muted scarlet color -- just lovely. Next, I noticed a bit of moss on the side of a tree that was the most wonderful shade of green. It was somewhere between lime, chartreuse and fresh grass. Several trees later, I saw a deep russet color on the bark. I then realized that what I had earlier seen as brown, was actually much richer and more complex.

I just had to look closer.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Inspiration and a Bouquet of One

Whatever your art supplies may be -- beads, paints, paper, fabric, all of the above -- on some days they just look boring. You've seen them all before. You love them like the dear friends they are, but they aren't providing the necessary inspiration. What to do?

Go for a walk. With your dog. We walk everyday, on one of two routes: to the inlet or around the Birchwood ariport. While this can seem quite boring to me, Xena never tires of it. Each day she finds something new to sniff, a new rock to climb on, a new leaf to paw and new dirt to scratch at.
necklace keshi pearls amethyst purple handcrafted inspiration flower
Inspired by Xena's view of the world, I looked at my beads with new vision. I've had these petal pearls for years, and the amethyst, well, I've had a bunch of these since 2000! I never looked at them together before. Then the length of wire was in my hands and the wrapping began.

I searched through the little ziploc of completed, but unused fine silver elements and these 2 irregular pieces surfaced. This flower was meant to be created that day.

Look at your art supplies with a new perspective. Maybe another flower will be born, or maybe you will create something even more fabulous than you can imagine.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

London Blue Topaz

As usual, my photography does not do justice to the beauty of these stones. The teardrops are London Blue Topaz of the clearest aqua blue with a multitude of facets to ensure sparkle from every direction.

You may have noticed that I'm very into clusters and this pair sports it's very own special cluster. Atop the teardrops are rondelles of apatite in dark aqua, light aqua and a greenish color. I've also added some golden green tourmaline rondelles.

This color palette always reminds me of the reefs of the Caribbean, where part of my heart will remain forever. Sigh.

Click on the photo to go directly to this listing in my etsy shop.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Green Sweater Nears Completion

Remember this post? Well, the sweater has been progressing at a slow but steady pace. It's almost complete. All I have left is the placket.

This yarn has been super easy to work with. it is a blend of 50% Pima wool and 50% tencel. It feels silky and smooth, but it knits into a fabric without much firm structure. I'm hoping it "tightens up" a bit when I block it. It wouldn't hurt if it shrunk a bit too, as it is quite loose on me.

I thought I was having a serious problem with the second sleeve but I took the project into The Tangled Skein - a wonderful yarn shop in Eagle River, Alaska - and Roberta helped me see that there was no problem. I had been out of town for 10 days in between sleeve #1 and sleeve #2. That was the source of the imagined problem.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Xena Speaks

Xena heard through the grapevine that there exists a blogging goat name Pricilla and she insists on having her say today. I can't be responsible for what Xena might say. I just hope she doesn't offend anyone. Here goes.

First, I would like to thank Pricilla for paving the way for pet blogging. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have thought of it if not for her.

No, on to my current gripe: brushing and grooming in general. Make . Her . Stop . There, I said it. My mommy thinks this needs to be done. I wholeheartedly disagree. It really doesn't feel good. Mommy says that's because we've let my fur get too long. Again, I disagree. We're in Alaska after all, and I need all this fur for warmth.
bouvier des flanders
Here are the evil tools She insists on using. On the right is the Bouvier rake (as if I need a rake) and the thing on the left actually cuts the hair as it brushes. This one is a little better.

While She brushes me -- about 5 looooong minutes a day! -- I hear her muttering words like "matted" and "stinky", interspersed with "soft and fluffy". She is sending some very mixed messages. Am I stinky or am I soft?

Somethimes I think mommy would prefer a sweet-smelling little toy poodle (ick), but she insists this isn't true. I'd like to believe her. I'm a dog and I want to smell like a dog.

Auntie Carol was here the other day with Bluebelle. Bluebelle is a poodle, but she's pretty cool. She's what they call a standard poodle, which means that all the other kinds must be sub-standard. Auntie Carol said I look huge and I took that as a compliment. Then she laughed at the appearance of my feet. I still don't get it.

I accept the inevitability of a trip to the groomer sometime this spring, but the longer we put it off, the better. She made an appointment for me for this coming Friday (!) but rumor has it she's going to cancel. I heard mommy and daddy arguing about this the other day and daddy won. YAY daddy! I know he loves me in his own special way. My odors don't bother him at all. Hmmmm. Wonder why.Thanks again to Pricilla for introducing me to the world of blogging. I've never met a goat, but I think I would like you Pricilla.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Bracelet is Complete!

I have finished the custom bracelet I was working on. I think it turned out lovely and very bridal. Oh, I recently learned that my customer will wear this bracelet and the earrings on her wedding day. They are having a beach wedding at a secluded resort in Vietnam. The love story that envelops this couple is truly amazing and I'm honored to be part of their special day.

I think this bracelet will look fabulous with the earrings!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Double Garnet Earrings

sterling silver earrings garnets briolette faceted red burgundy
I love garnets. I mean who doesn't? They are my birthstone and I never realized how many shapes they could come in until I started creating jewelry 12 years ago.

These earrings feature small diamond shaped briolettes topped with a rondelle. The two faceted stones are separated by a sterling silver bead.

The red in these garnets is of the deepest burgundy with a hint of plum.

Simple and elegant. With just the right amount of sparkle.

They are for sale in my etsy shop. Click on the photo to go directly to the listing.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Pink Chalcedony . Earrings

pink chalcedony sterling silver earringsI just listed these earrings in my etsy shop a couple of days ago. The pink of the chalcedony briolettes is bordering on lavender, but when I added the pink pearls, the stones appeared more pink. That's the nature of a translucent stone such as chalcedony.

The pearls are in a loose cluster atop the chalcedony and will swing freely. They hang on sterling silver leverback earwires for maximum security.

They are for sale in my etsy shop. Click on the photo to go directly to the listing.

I sent out my latest newsletter yesterday. If you would like to be added to my mailing list, please fill out the form to the right.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Broken Teepee Designs - Handcrafted Gemstone Jewelry. Made in Montana

This blog post is all about my friend and extraordinarily talented teammate, Patty of Broken Teepee Designs.

We are both members of the Artisan Beaders Street Team on Etsy. I have come to know Patty and consider her a dear friend. Her jewelry designs are outstanding. She has mastered the use of color by choosing and combining the highest quality gemstones.

One of my favorite pieces of Patty's is her necklace (actually 2 necklaces!) entitled Eastern Spice, seen on the right. The earthy colors Patty selected are both warm and exotic at the same jewelry necklace citrine golden earth tone green garnet sapphiretime. Beautiful citrines, green garnets and sapphires are brought together in Patty's talented hands to create the gorgeous focal point of the main necklace.

The second necklace is simpler, but is a perfect complement to the complexity of the one above. This photo shows both pieces and how they nest together to form an elegant and truly special jewelry set. Be sure to visit Patty's Etsy shop to see more of her unique jewelry. Plan on visiting her often, as she updates her shop frequently. You don't want to miss a single pice of Patty's handcrafted gemstone jewelry, made in Montana

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Progress on the Bracelet

Now that I've completed the base of the bracelet (see yesterday's post), it's time to consider the surface embellishment.

I start with some headpins to help me figure out what the "short stacks" (aka surface embellishment) should look like. Keeping the earrings close by for reference, I experiment with different combinations of beads, including the keshi pearls and the textured silver beads found in the earring clusters. I work from a small flat bowl to keep those pesky seed beads contained!

I finally decided to use some silver lined crystal rainbow and beige lined crystal seed beads, both size 11. The combination of these most closely matches the creamy ivory color of the large pearls in the earrings. This close up photo shows the final results of the embellishment decision. I will use size 15 white seed beads as the topper for the 3 different stacks. Also included are some 2 mm sterling silver round beads, which look just like the ball ends of the head pins used in the earrings. I'm happy with the continuity.I hook the loop end of the clasp to the gizmo Rick made for me many years ago. It makes working on the bracelet so much easier than working on a flat surface.This last photo shows the resulting texture on the surface of the bracelet from adding the "short stacks".

Monday, February 16, 2009

Custom Bracelet

I started on a custom order today for a woven bracelet. The lovely customer wants to purchase these earrings. She ordered a bracelet to match. After several convos between us, she decided on a bracelet of the style shown below, utilizing the keshi pearls and some of the silver beads.

I chose a vintage mother-of-pearl button for the closure, as I felt that would be a nice complement to the pearls in the earrings.
The base of the bracelet is modified right-angle-weave. The photo on the left shows a simple right-angle-weave using pearly white glass seed beads. The photo on the right shows the variation on the stitch. This variation provides for a wider base upon which to attach the many short fringe elements that will come next.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Tucson Gem Purchases

Now that I've finished logging all of my purchases from the Tucson Gem Shows, it's time to share with you what I came home with.

This first photo starts (at the top) with some lemon quartz that are the same cut (yes Deb, the same cut!) as the labradorite beads I purchased from my friend Deb. I searched for this cut in any gemstone, but these were the only ones I found. I discovered that it is called a marquis cut. Continuing south, you can see smooth ruby briolettes, moss aquamarine, citrine and something called hydro-quartz in a deep green. Since returning home, and doing some research, I've found out that anything called hydro-quartz is most likely not quartz at all. More likely, it is lab created cubic zirconia. The color did look a little too good to be true. It's still a beautiful "stone" and the price was right. No regrets.
gemstones quartz iolite labradorite citrine amethyst moonstone kyanite prehnite black spinel aquamarine ruby
This next photo starts with smooth flat iolite briolettes followed by labradorite, citrine, rutilated quartz (love this) and peach moonstone.

Very special citrine briolettes (they are quite washed out in this photo) are at the top of this last photo. Next is some lovely kyanite, smooth amethyst, prehnite and long tapered and faceted black spinel.

Of course, there are more gems, but I'm running out of patience with this photography stuff. I want to play!

One of the "new" stones to be found all over the gem shows was green cat's eye. It was a pretty shade of green, but it was outrageously expensive. And I'm not quite sure what "new" means in the world of gemstones. Maybe a new mine was discovered.

After attending these shows for about 10 years, I've come away with some insights all my own regarding gemstones and marketing. The emergence of what I call the Alcoholic Quartzes (champagne, whiskey, beer, cognac) several years ago got me thinking. Here's the scenario as I envision it:

Miners are hard at work digging up amethyst (quartz) with plans of heat treating it to make citrine. This is the case with most citrine on the market today, as naturally occuring citrine is quite rare.
They find some low grade amethyst and send it off to the scientists in the lab. It emerges from the heat treatment process in all sorts of wacky golden yellows, not anything like the citrine they were expecting.
A brilliant gemologist declares "it's pretty enough, let's just give it a new name". Voila, the alcoholic quartzes are born.

The world according to Vicki.

Friday, February 13, 2009

I'm Home

Going away on a fun trip is great for the soul. But coming home is even better.

We were gone for 10 days. The first 4 days were spent in Tucson, buying beads and other jewelry making supplies. The gem shows had a different feel this year, probably because of the economy. Many vendors did not show up, but worse, there were vendors who did not bring any new merchandise. I think that was a poor business decision on their part, because many of us are still buying and want to create pieces with new beads and gems. As a result, I purchased from some sellers who I have never purchased from before. Many of them were smaller businesses, who were happy to have a new customer. This experience will definitely affect my purchase decisions in the future. The lesson I've learned from this for my business, is to KEEP IT FRESH!

Now the not-so-fun part begins. I need to log all of my purchases and update my cost spreadsheets. At least I get to fondle those beautiful beads all over again.

After we left Tucson, we headed north and spent a few days in Phoenix and the surrounding area. We found a fabulous art show in north Scottsdale: Celebrate Art. We spent most of the day there, chatting with the artists and watching them work. What an intriguing concept it was -- a 10 week interactive art show. We met many talented artists in all sorts of mediums, from all over the country. It was a great day.

We did some antiquing and I found some lovely pieces to add to my collection of vintage beaded jewelry. More on that at a later date ....

Must get to work now!

Friday, February 6, 2009

It's All Patty's Fault

I really never considered purchasing boulder opal before. That is, until my friend Patty told me how beautiful it is. So, I took a close look and she's right! It has wonderfully rich coloration and lots of lovely matrix and inclusions. I've taken some photos in my hotel room, which explains the poor quality.

And just for fun, here's a photo of the HUGE amethyst brios mentioned in my previous post. Stop drooling Brenda!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

News From Tucson

Let me start off by saying that it was 78 today. I loved it ... Rick, not so much.

Well, I'm a big fat liar. My first purchase today at the GLW show was pearls. OK, it wasn't multitudinous smounts, but it was still pearls. I suddenly remembered that I need plain old 4mm round white pearls. Then, these gorgeous bronze colored seed pearls decided to join them in my basket. Oh well.

At my next stop , Oriental Gemco, I found some lovely HUGE amethyst brios and some green topaz rondelles. I've purchased from this really nice family in the past and they always remember me. That makes me feel special, so I buy more stuff. See what great customer service can do for you? I bought more stuff there, including golden colored hydro-quartz brios and a bunch of faceted rondelles of differnt stones. Can never have enough of those, can we?

We went to about 5 shows today and it's worth noting that there were several empty booths at each event. The crowds were light and the vendors seemed a little bored. The hotel we're staying at has rooms available too. I've stayed at this same place for 4 years, and it's always booked solid during Gem Show Week. Tomorrow, the huge Holidome show opens and it will be interesting to see how the crowds are there.

I'll keep you posted.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Tucson Shopping List

As I prepare for my annual trek to the Tucson Bead/Gem/Rock/Mineral Shows, I'm reminded of those times I went without a shopping list. I spent far too much money. I remember one time when I purchased the same item twice in one day. True, they were gorgeous lemon quartz briolettes, but I really didn't need so many of them.

I'm determined to be more thoughtful about my purchases and use my shopping list as a guide. It's so easy to get caught up in the frenzy while surrounded by an obscene selection of gemstones and pearls. The sheer beauty of a table mounded high with the luster of pearls can be overwhelming.

Here's my list:

1. Tiny white keshi pearls: I just love to use these in my cluster earrings and pendants. The brightness of the white pops and begs the eye to look closer.

2. Tanzanite rondelles: I looked for these last year, but couldn't find them at a price I was willing to pay. They may remain on my list and out of my suitcase if the same thing happens this year. The blue-purple coloring of this stone is unmatchable.

3. Citrine rondelles, large and small: I have purchased many of these in the past, but I seem to run out towards the end of every year. I'm not a huge fan of yellow, but it is the complement of violet. Is that a good enough reason to use so much of it?

4. Iolite: The medium blue (denim?) of iolite is perfect for everyday jewelry and I use tons of it. I'll be looking for rondelles and interesting briolettes.

5. Prehnite: I hope to see more of this pale green and sort of milky stone. The green is soft and easy to wear and my customers have really taken a liking to it. I'll be on the lookout for interesting briolettes.

6. Apatite rondelles: I buy some of these every year, and at the end of the year, I'm always left with a pile of them that won't fit on 26 ga wire. I will not, I repeat, not use 28 ga wire. It's not sturdy enough for me. Even 26 ga feels a little iffy to me sometimes. Ideally, I will find some that fit on 24 ga. A girl can dream, can't she?

7. Sterling silver chain: The best prices and selection can be found in Tucson, sometimes at the smaller shows.

8. Whatever else looks good -- you knew that was coming, didn't you?

Here's what I will not buy:

Multitudinous amounts of pearls - if you could see my current inventory, you would understand this.

Bali Silver - if you could see my current inventory, you would understand this.

Vintage Glass Beads - if you could see my current inventory, you would understand this.

These self-imposed guidelines are just that, guidelines. I maintain the authority to add anything to that list at any time. So there.