Saturday, May 30, 2009

Blue Topaz . Necklace

handcrafted jewelry necklace sterling silver blue topaz oxidized
This is a gorgeous slice of the clearest Blue Topaz. It was part of a strand of mixed gemstone slices, so they were all one of a kind stones.

With such a special stone, simplicity is the best approach for me. I wrapped it with oxidized sterling silver wire and suspended it from sterling chain that has been similarly oxidized.

This necklace is for sale in my etsy shop.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Palest Pink Stone - Morganite

The strand of Morganite briolettes that I purchased in Tucson was a real splurge for me. But I figured I would only use them one at a time, thereby making any finished necklace quite affordable. What I didn't count on, was how very difficult it would be to photograph the stone!

Morganite is such a pale pink that it fades on a white background and provides a bit too much contrast on the black background you see here. I spent a loooong time photographing this necklace and finally had to stop and "call it good enough".

I paired the Morganite with a small garnet and suspended them both from an oxidized sterling silver chain.

It is available in my etsy shop. You can click on the photo to go directly to the listing.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Xena and a Stick

I may have mentioned in the past that Xena is quite a lazy dog and enjoys lots of sleep time every day. Well, I finally caught her doing something dog-like the other day. She was chewing on a stick!

And here, she makes it look fun.

Let's rip off some of the bark.

Distracted by a bird. Done with stick.

It's a dog's life.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Series of Textured Metal Pendants

I completed a good sized batch of metal pendants last week. Starting with copper and brass sheet, I set up a little assembly line type operation: cut shapes, file, sand w/280, sand w/360, sand w/600, texture, patina, assemble. See, I really can work efficiently when I put my mind to it!

The only really fun parts were the texture and assemble steps of the above list. The remainder of the process was quite tedious.

I used two different patinas: liver of sulfur and an antiquing solution which works only on base metals like copper and brass. Lightly sanding with 400 grit polishing paper after applying a patina provides a great contrast, as it leaves the low spots dark, while effectively erasing the patina from the high spots.

It was interesting to see how the antiquing solution gave such different results on the copper and brass. I also practiced my letter stamping on a few pieces. I think I need much more practice with that stop.

Assembling and adding beads was quite a bit of fun. Trying to match the mood of the metal pendant to appropriate beads and charms took quite a bit of time.

And my favorite piece is the brass panel embossed (with the rolling mill) with a leaf pattern, and embellished with a brass dragonfly element. I may just keep this one.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

More Citrine!

handcrafted jewelry necklace sterling silver citrine marquis
The cut on this stone is fabulous! It's a fancy cut marquis citrine. A marquis like this has four vertical lines and faceting all around.

And the color is like the deepest golden honey you've ever seen. This stone is so beautiful on its own, that I decided it didn't need any other elements. You will notice several new necklaces in my shop along these same lines of simplicity.

Click on the photo to learn more about the necklace.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Currants Appear

It's time for an update on the currant situation. You may remember this post, when I showed you the currant blossoms. Things grow quickly when we get over 18 hours of daylight. That will continue to increase until the solstice --- June 21. Since moving to Alaska, I have developed a love/hate relationship with that day. It's the longest day of the year, so I love it. It also marks the beginning of the days getting shorter, so I hate it. Does that make sense? It just seems like we peak too early in the summer! But I digress.

Back to the currants. There was a little breeze, so it was impossible to take a clear photo. The branches would not be still! If you look closely, you can see the beginnings of the berries. They are currently (ha!) a lime green color. When ripe, they will turn a gorgeous deep red color.

Stay tuned and I'll keep you posted on the progress of the currants.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Spicy Carnelian . Earrings

handcrafted jewelry earrings sterling silver carnelian orange red
These rounds of carnelian have been in my inventory for quite some time --- I don't even remember where I bought them! I think they're beautiful, but carnelian is NOT a color I work well with. That's why these earrings feature the carnelian and no other stones.

These beads are 10mm in diameter and are super smooth and glossy. They are the color of ketchup ... well maybe a little more orange-y than red.

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

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Long and Slim . Labradorite . Necklace

handcrafted jewelry necklace labradorite briolette
I purchased these wonderful labradorite briolettes several months ago. I've made a few pairs of earrings with them, but today I'm featuring a brand new necklace. Alongside the labradorite, I've added a small bead of blue tourmaline and a small aqua blue cubic zirconia bead. The addition of those beads really brings out the blue flash found in the labradorite.

This necklace is available in my etsy shop.

Friday, May 22, 2009


Yesterday I made a batch of granola. It's my favorite granola recipe. It's my only granola recipe. I copied it out of the newspaper when I was in college at SUNY Buffalo. That was so long ago, that I don't even remember the name of the newspaper. I guess I should be thankful that I remember as much as I do.

4 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
1 TBSP cinnamon
1 cup of chopped nuts (walnuts, almonds, cashews, pepitas -- whatever you prefer. My favorite combo is almonds and cashews.)

1/2 cup oil
2/3 cup honey
1 TBSP vanilla

Mix together all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Place oil and honey in a small saucepan. Heat on low until it is thin and runny. Stir in vanilla.
Pour over the dry ingredients and stir well.
Spread on 2 cookie sheets and bake at 325 for 20-30 minutes. Stir often to prevent burning.
Remove from oven and let cool. Store in airtight containers.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Kaskaad - Beautiful beads, simple designs

Today I'm featuring a team member from the Artisan Beaders Street Team. Ainsley is sweet, beautiful and a talented jewelry designer from the Toronto area. Her etsy shop is Kaskaad, a combination of her initials and those of her friend and jewelry collaborator, Andrea.

I am partial to Ainley's rings and I've purchased a few myself! She uses those large Swarovski rivoli buttons to make some of my favorite ones. This Volcanic Eruption ring is a perfect example.

Here's another ring featuring a vintage button. Again, such clever use of materials!

Ainsley's talent is limited to rings. She also creates bracelets and necklaces, this one being a favorite of mine.Be sure to visit Ainsley's shop on etsy. You might decided you need a ring with some serious bling!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Xena ... my beautiful Bouvier

Just a quick update today about my Xena. It's been about 2 months since her shearing (aka grooming) and she finally allowed me to take some pictures of her. She was embarrassed by her nakedness until her fur grew back a bit. Xena's been enjoying the beautiful weather we've been having, mostly by doing her normal lazing about, but outside.

Once in a while, she'll dig a hole, chew on a stick or do other doggie-like things, but mostly she rests. My kind of girl. She doesn't even bark much. She only barks when a car enters the driveway, which is great, because I don't always hear a car approaching.

She's perfect, don't you think?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Hydro Quartz

handcrafted jewelry earrings sterling silver hydroquartz emerald green
You may remember this post, when I purchased these lovely emerald green briolettes in Tucson. At that time, I wasn't completely informed about Hydro Quartz. Now that I've done some research, I know that this *stone* is man-made, but beautiful nonetheless.

It was difficult to capture the remarkable green color in these briolettes, but trust me, they are deep emerald green. And because they are lab grown, they are perfectly clear.

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

Sunday, May 17, 2009


They're not actually currants yet. They're still little beautiful flowers. Our property is full of them. They're wild and they're scattered all over. They grow in hanging clusters that look a lot like gemstones, only juicier.

Given that they are all over the place, one would think that harvest time would keep me busy. Sadly, this is not the case. Not all of these bright red little beauties mature into an edible berry. Because they are so scattered, I don't do anything to help them or encourage them through the summer. They are completely on their own. I think the birds like them too. I usually gather a cup or two -- just enough to make a yummy sauce to pour over vanilla ice cream and homemade pound cake.

This next photo is interesting because I managed to capture one of last year's cranberries in the upper left corner. These too are scattered all over our property but are incredibly tart. My face gets all scrunched up when I eat them. It's not pretty.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

More Rutilated Quartz ...

hancrafted jewelry sterling silver rutilated quartz ruby red black chain oxidized
... this time with a deliciously smooth Ruby briolette! Black and red is a classic color combination. This necklace captures that, but adds a modern flair.

I found it very difficult to get a good photo of these stones, so I'll share two photos with you here. The photo on the right shows the beauty of the rutilated quartz. It's full of needle like inclusions of black tourmaline.

This second photo better highlights the depth of color found in the ruby. It's the nicest quality ruby I've ever seen in bead form. It was a real splurge for me to purchase that strand of rubies while in Tucson, so I'm using them very judiciously. Click on either of the photos to go directly to the listing for this necklace in my etsy shop.

I just sent out my May newsletter with a special offer. If you want to be eligible for that offer, use the sign up form on the right and I will send you a copy of newsletter.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Simple Necklaces

Remember this post? How about this post? Well, I decided I like the look of a single drop so much, that I've made some necklaces along the same lines. I made a big batch of them, but so far have only listed this one in my etsy shop.

I chose one of my favorite pearls to feature in this necklace. It's big, it's got lots of luster and it bumpy! What more could I ask for?

handcrafted jewelry necklace chain oxidized sterling silver baroque pearl

Click on the photo to go directly to the listing and see the necklace from some other angles.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Birchwood Airport

This time of year, when the inlet can be very muddy, we take our morning walk around the planes at the Birchwood Airport. It's a small airport that we can walk to and I'm comfortable letting Xena off the leash there. Don't worry, I hook her up if there are any planes moving.

It was such a gorgeous day (again!) that I brought my camera yesterday a snapped a few photos. This first one shows one of the privately owned hangars. Jay is a flight instructor who lives in his own hangar. Alaska is full of flying enthusiasts and has the highest rate of private plane ownership of any state.

This may sound silly, but these small planes look to me like they have faces, mostly with expressions of surprise on them. Just look at this yellow beauty -- see the eyes and the mouth. Makes me want to say hi, have a great day! Sometimes I do just that!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Using the Hammers!

After spending so much time prepping the metal for hammering, I didn't want to hide very much of it. In the spirit of keeping it simple, I used the same copper leaf charm as an embellishment on both necklaces. The charm is from The Beadin' Path, where I always manage to find unique elements to include in my jewelry.

This first necklace is brass -- the same piece from yesterday's blog post. I removed most of the heat patina and started over with Woodfinishers Antiquing Solution, which works wonderfully on base metals such as brass, copper and nickel silver. I sanded it with 400 grit paper to highlight the high spots. The bead is etched black onyx. I used copper chain, which I also patinated and selectively sanded.

This next necklace is copper. I used a different hammer to texture this piece of metal, but the rest of the treatment was the same. I drilled the hole for the chain on the corner, just because. The bead is Czech glass with an iris green metallic finish. I've always liked the way copper looks with green.
There you have it! My first adventure with the new hammers is now complete.

Monday, May 11, 2009


While shopping in Tucson last February, I was intrigued by a demo of some unique hammers. These hammers transferred patterns to metal based on the intricate carvings on the striking face of the hammer. I was sorely tempted to purchase a few of these, but at $40 apiece, I decided against it.

I talked about these hammers with much regret for about a month after returning from Tucson. One day Rick surprised me with 3 custom made hammers. Each one has 2 different striking faces.

Here's a close up of my favorite pattern. It makes a great criss-cross pattern on the metal. You need to swing pretty hard to get good definition on brass, as seen in this photo. After hammering, I applied a heat patina and then sanded with 400 grit polishing paper to highlight the high spots. I'll probably turn this into a pendant.

Yay Rick!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Another Pair of Petite Earrings

In case you haven't guessed, I adore labradorite. The initial impression one gets of labradorite being "just gray", is quickly changed when the light hits it. The little faceted cubes in these earrings are no exception. There's plenty of the characteristic blue flash. Yet because of their size, these earrings are still subtle.

If you look through my etsy shop, my love affair will be obvious. Follow this link to go directly to all the pieces featuring labradorite.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Rosevine Design - Embellishments toTreasure

Deb, the genius behind Rosevine Design, is another of my teammates on the Artisan Beaders Street Team on etsy. She does amazing things with seed beads. Her attention to detail is unmatched and her sense of style and composition is perfect.

This bracelet is magnificent. It features a huge turquoise cabochon and, dare I say, thousands of glass seed beads, all hand stitched in place. Make a statement by wearing this piece!

This necklace also begins with a large piece of turquoise, but you can see that it is very different indeed. Deb has embellished this necklace with lots and lots of fringe in a creamy color. You can also see the pale coral accents --- what a perfect complement to the turquoise.

Visit Deb's shop on etsy to see all of her gorgeous creations.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Gray Quartz . Tourmaline . Necklace

handcrafted jewelry necklace sterling silver oxidized gray blue quartz green tourmaline
This necklace is a personal favorite of mine. The colors are the ones I would choose for myself. The pale blue-gray of the quartz drop is soft and lovely.

Alongside the quartz is a small bicone of green tourmaline topped with an even smaller rondelle of periwinkle colored mystic topaz.

I've used these two small gemstones to start the chain, which is finished with ready made chain and a lobster clasp.

This necklace is for sale in my etsy shop.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Saying Thank You

Selling my jewelry on etsy is very different than selling it in person at a craft show. At a show, I can engage the customer in some conversation, help her try on a necklace or bracelet and hold the mirror (usually at the wrong height because I'm so short!) for her to see how the necklace looks.

That human touch isn't easily translated to online sales. Emails are nice, but it's hard to convey one's true personality via an email. This is why I've decided to include a hand made thank you note in each order that I send. I've combined my love of stamping with my jewelry making!

I purchase these blank note cards and envelopes from Marco's Paper. The size is perfect: 2" x 3 1/2". I line them up (thanks for that time saving hint Diane!) and stamp away. I like to use floral stamps, flourishes or nice shapes -- nothing too complex. I add a simple thank you stamp (I have several different ones) and I'm done. I always write a handwritten thank you on the inside too.

Here's a sampling of the batch I made yesterday.

Sometimes, these little touches can make a big difference.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Two New Cards

Inspired by the nice weather we've been having, I created a few garden related notecards. They both use recycled papers: one used the newspaper and the other, the yellow pages.

I was getting ready to recycle my old phone book, but before doing so, I scavenged some pages from it for this technique from the Technique Junkies newsletter. I chose the page that contained landscape businesses, which was appropriate for this fern stamp. I used my collage alphabet stamps to add the word garden down the side. These stamps are all from Stampin' Up.

For this next card, I used the weather forecast section of the newspaper. The stamp is one of those big foam ones intended for kids and fabric stamping, I think! Simply mounted on patterned paper, this card gets the point across -- get outside and garden!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Rutilated Quartz . with Sapphires

handcrafted jewelry necklace rutilated quartz sapphires oxidized
Several weeks ago, I added a beautiful necklace to my etsy shop that featured a long briolette of rutilated quartz flanked by 2 colorless sapphires. It didn't last long. When I started to make another one, I discovered that none of my remaining colorless sapphires would fit on 26 ga wire. I don't stock 28 ga wire -- but that's a topic for another day.

What to do, what to do. Turning back to the sapphires, I spotted these raspberry colored beauties. Then I saw some peach, some watermelon and lemony sapphires. Problem solved! They all looked great with the crystal clear and black rutilated quartz. This raspberry adorned one is in my etsy shop.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Walking Around our Property

With camera in hand, Xena & I walked all around our beautiful 2 1/2 acres. Now that the snow is all gone, we've actually been doing this a few times each day. Xena is reacquainting herself with all of the brush piles and sniffing things to her hearts content.

Speaking of hearts, I saw this clump of stuff stuck in some twigs. I saw a heart.

We also found a bird nest on the ground. I certainly hope nobody is homeless now.

Then we waved hello to our neighbor's horses.

Finally, there were several piles of proof that some moose had visited us over the winter.