Saturday, October 31, 2009

More Vintage Goodies

Here's a set of vintage items that I recently listed in my other etsy shop. Not sure why I stared collecting these boxes of old chalk, but I now think I've owned them long enough. Time for them to go to a new home.

If you have not yet visited my other etsy shop, please have a look. It has quite a wide variety of stuff, including handmade, spiral bound journals, beads, charms, findings and some knitted items. Here's the link: A Peaceful Life

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Color :: Value

You may have noticed that link on the right to the Artisan Beaders Blog. My teammates and I maintain that interesting informative blog. I've been organizing and posting many of the "Technique Tuesday" posts over there. This post was originally published there, but I thought my readers here might enjoy it too.

I own several books on color theory, but my favorite by far is Color Works by Deb Menz. It not only covers the basics, but it goes far beyond that. And, it is specifically written for crafters of all sorts including beaders, quilters, knitters, weavers and spinners.

One of the most important things I've learned from this book is the concept of value. Value is a comparison of a color to a gray scale. One of the many fun interactive tools in the book is aimed at helping determine the value of a color by providing a gray scale like this:

Deb Menz suggests squinting a bit when comparing a color to this gray scale because squinting restricts the part of your eye that sees color. Using this scale may take some practice.

Why is it important to understand the value of a color? Because value is the first characteristic of a piece of art that you will notice, especially when viewed from a distance. Think about how certain colors "pop" when used with certain other colors. Look at this elaborate bead embroidered piece by Deb of Rosevine Design:

The first thing that catches the eye is the yellow, which generally has the lowest value of all colors on the color wheel.

The same color "pop" happens with the orange-yellow flowers on the left side of this fused glass night light from Deronda Designs:

The way I use this information in my jewelry and other art works is to first determine what affect I'm trying to achieve. If I want a soft, muted piece, I limit my color choices to a small range of values. When I want to assure that a certain part of a piece gets noticed, I venture into a very different range of value for that part.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Gold Filled

I don't often work with gold filled, finding that most of my customers prefer sterling silver or my newer line of brass. My gold filled stash of wire was calling my name the other day and I made a small batch of those long, almond shaped earwires that are so eye-catching. I posted about another pair of earrings I made that same day, using those big, bold round silver and brass beads.

I am fond of the way smoky quartz looks with gold filled, so that's what I chose for this pair of earrings. These briolettes are about as flawless as can be. Of course, they are much lovelier in person!

Click on the photo to see some photos at different angles.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Vintage Leather Box

I decided it's time to part with some additional vintage items in my stash. While I love this box, I realized that I would never be able to "alter" it in any way. It's just too cool the way it is. I listed it yesterday afternoon after struggling with the photography.

If you click on the photo, you will go directly to the listing, where there are several other photos from different angles.

Stay tuned for some more vintage goodies in my second etsy shop, A Peaceful Life.

Monday, October 26, 2009

More Fun with Artbeads!

I decided to work with the rest of my Swarovski crystals from Artbeads today. I had 4 different colors of the 11mm flat briolettes to play with. While I stayed within a tight design scope, I let myself have some fun with color.

After wrapping each briolette with sterling silver wire, I chose a sterling bead with a fairly large hole to cover the wrap and topped it with a traditional Swarovski bicone.

Here are the olivine colored briolettes. I paired them with blue zircon colored bicones, for an ocean-y feel.

The ruby colored brios are topped with padparadscha colored bicone. Don't worry, I can't pronounce that color name either. This color combination reminds me of a tropical drink. The kind that comes with an umbrella.

The remaining two pairs are more traditional: crystal golden shadow with crystal copper and crystal silver shade with light sapphire.

Please be sure to visit Artbeads and take advantage of their excellent selection, prices and customer service.

Remember this previous post about Artbeads Swarovski crystals? Well, I sold both of those pairs of earrings at my last show. Yay me!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Big and Bold

I've had these beads for a while. I realize I start with that line quite often, but really, you need to see my bead collection to fully understand that it's possible to "lose track" of my beads. But, I digress.

These beads are sterling silver and brass and remind me of a simple mandala. I suspended them, along with some sterling accent beads, from hand formed gold filled earwires.

A bit heavier than most of my earrings, these are sill quite comfortable to wear and quite eye catching.

They are for sale in my etsy shop.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Rick's Birthday

It was Rick's birthday a couple of days ago. I always bake him whatever he requests for his birthday cake (as if I don't bake for him year round??). This year, he requested a German Chocolate Cake. I love this cake, but must confess that I had never baked one before. Off to Google I went.

The recipe I decided on can be found here. Not only was this cake scrumptious, it was pretty easy to make. The only part I skipped was where you're supposed to drizzle melted chocolate around the edge so that it drips down the side in an attractive manner. I sensed that this wasn't as easy as it looked, so I decided we didn't need that.

But seriously, who has 3 layer cake pans, besides Martha Stewart?? So, the message is, this will take a bit longer than the 1 hour estimate stated in the recipe. I would say it was more like 3 -4 hours.

Here's the birthday boy getting ready to cut the cake:

And his friend Jeff joined us for the evening:

What was for dinner, you ask? Chicken and eggplant parmigiana, with a side of spaghetti. Nothing green, in accordance with the wishes of the birthday boy, who is really just an overgrown kid at heart. Before dinner we snacked on smoked salmon spread on rice crackers (mmmm) and libations.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Even More Citrine!

The citrine craze continues. These smooth briolettes are on my signature handmade earwires. The surface of these stones is incredibly glossy -- they remind me of butterscotch candies.

The briolette I used for this necklace is not like any I have ever seen before. It has a checkerboard pattern engraved on the surface.

If your interest in citrine is as great as mine, click here to see everything in my etsy shop containing citrine!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pale Green Pearls

As you may have guessed, I create jewelry year round. During the first half of the year, I experiment with new designs and develop new techniques. I always make plenty of pieces with these new designs then too. It's only after having the designs "out there" that I actually know which ones will be popular, good sellers.

Now that I've had a few shows behind me this season, I know that this style of earwire will continue to be intriguing to my local customers. They are always interested when I tell them that I form them myself from sterling silver wire.

The design is simple, yet quite eye catching. For this particular pair, I chose some pale green freshwater pearls as the single adornment.

If you look through my etsy shop, you will see several pairs using this style of earwire.

The plan for today is to make a pile of these earwires in both sterling and gold filled in preparation for my next two shows!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Double Blue Earrings

You've seen these plump gray-blue quartz briolettes before -- in various pairs of earrings. This time, I've paired them with medium blue freshwater pearls.

The circle that they hang from is fused from fine silver wire and the sterling silver earwires are handmade, by me.

I don't know about you, but I wear jeans nearly every day. These earrings are perfect for jeans!

They are for sale in my etsy shop. Click on the photo to go directly to the listing and see these earrings from some different angles.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Alaska Bead Society Show

This past weekend was the annual show organized by the Alaska Bead Society. After many years of doing this show at the Anchorage Museum, we relocated to a new location. The ConocoPhillips building in downtown Anchorage has a beautiful atrium and they were kind enough to allow us to use this space.

It was bright and spacious. The general consensus was that the space was superior in all ways to the space we used to use at the museum.

Here is a photo (bad photo alert) of my table:

This year, I was fortunate enough to be located next to Jessica Stephens, a completely delightful young woman with extraordinary beading talent. While she did not want her photo taken, I did convince her to allow a photo of her spectacular beaded neck piece "We Are All Connected".

Friday, October 16, 2009

Crystal Quartz

There's something very clean about crystal quartz. I'm sure it has to do with the fact that it's well. crystal clear. At least these beads are. They are actually quite amazing. The uniformity in the strand was a welcome characteristic. Trying to make pairs from an inconsistent strand can be very frustrating. I digress.

Back to the earrings. I wrapped them with sterling silver wire and added a tiny drop of black spinel and more crystal quartz. Perfectly suited for a night on the town, a wedding or black jeans and a t-shirt.

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

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Year Round Begonia

My dear friend Chelline is a very talented artist. She creates amazing works of art on silk. And she does it all freehand. I know this because I've seen her do it.

This past year, she has ventured into metal art too -- as if she didn't have enough to do keeping her gallery stocked with silk scarves and wall hangings. We stopped by her gallery for a visit during the summer and I had to have one of her metal begonias. Chelline cuts the metal and then she pulled out the center of the flower to give it dimension, like a real begonia.

This is one flower I will enjoy year round!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Freshwater Pearls and Andalusite ...

... a creamy and delicious combination!

I started with a circle that I fused from 16ga fine silver. I hammered and textured it and dangled a creamy beige coin pearl from the bottom. Emerging from the top are lengths of sterling silver rolo chain followed by a series of beads. I chose champagne colored pearls and flanked them with andalusite rondelles. Then there is more chain and a sterling lobster clasp.

About andalusite:

Andalusite varies in color from pale yellow-brown to dark green. It can also be a greenish red. The color may look different when viewed from different angles. These particular beads seem to be an orange-cream-green combination!

This necklace is for sale in my etsy shop.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sea of Hope - Artisan Beaders Bracelet Auction!

The Artisan Beaders Street Team I belong to has just begun a new fundraising effort. As a team, we created a sea themed charm bracelet. On our team blog, we are conducting an auction to raise money for an extremely worthy charity: RAINN.

The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network is the nation's largest anti-sexual assault organization. RAINN operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1.800.656.HOPE and the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline at, and publicizes the hotline's free, confidential services; educates the public about sexual assault; and leads national efforts to prevent sexual assault, improve services to victims and ensure that rapists are brought to justice.

Please be sure to visit the team blog and read
about our efforts and to make a bid on this awesome and meaningful piece of jewelry.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Rutilated Quartz . Mixed Gemstones . Necklace

I listed a brand new and quite delicious necklace in my etsy shop recently. I'd like to share it with you here. You've seen the gorgeous rutilated quartz briolettes featured in these earrings and in this necklace. I do believe I have made all of the "pairs" I'm going to get from this particular strand of briolettes, so the remainder will become necklaces -- no more earrings. This makes me a little sad.

Sad, that is, until, I created this necklace. I topped the briolette with a collection of rondelles in a rainbow of colors. I gathered some citrine, pink tourmaline, aqua blue apatite, amethyst and bright green chrysoprase.

Now I'm happy.

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

Friday, October 9, 2009

Winter Food

As the temperature drops and we find ourselves deep in the throes of autumn, I want to prepare hearty meals that simmer for hours and make the house smell heavenly. Today, I'll share one of my favorite of these recipes.

1 brisket or chuck roast (chuck roast is more readily available here, so that's what I use)
1 onion, cut up
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup lemon juice (I use concentrate -- just try to find decent fresh lemons in Alaska in the winter!)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 can of beer
2 TBSP soy sauce
2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp dry mustard
2 cans tomato sauce

I use an electric frying pan for this dish, but you could definitely do it in a covered pot in the oven, or in a very large dutch oven on the stovetop.

Saute the onion and garlic in a small amount of oil. Add the roast and brown on both sides. Add the rest of the ingredients. Turn down the heat on the electric frying pan, cover and cook for 2 1/2 - 3 hours. Check occasionally and turn the meat so that the top doesn't dry too much. That's it. Really. The meat will be falling apart in a most delicious way.

I serve this over either mashed potatoes or wide noodles.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


I found these lovely textured sterling silver beads in Tucson last winter. The fan pattern is just beautiful. I topped them with a tight cluster of little turquoise nuggets. I think they're perfect for just about any occasion.

There are other stones which would look just as good above these beads. Maybe I'll make a whole series, using garnet, citrine, peridot, amethyst, black spinel, carnelian, white pearls ... someone stop me ...

Our Sea of Hope bracelet auction continues through October 16. Visit HERE to learn how to make a bid for this great cause.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Green Onyx Earrings

I recently purchased these lovely green onyx spear shaped briolettes and I'm in love! This shape really speaks to me for some reason. Maybe it's the sleekness of the bead or the slim silhouette. Whatever it is, I simply can't resist this shape.

For these earrings, I paired them with tiny rondelles of peach moonstone. Together, these beads hang from sterling silver leverback earwires. I oxidized all of the silver and then selectively hand sanded it.

I have plans for some other pairings with these green onyx briolettes. I think they will look good with crystal quartz, labradorite, lapis and maybe even garnet for the holidays! Very festive indeed.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Pearl Mixes

Yesterday was a very productive day for me (imagine that!). Last weekend, I was in Fairbanks for the Bad Girls of the North craft show. When I finish a show, I take a look at my sales and remaining inventory to help determine where I should focus my efforts. I sold 4 of my pearl mix necklaces in Fairbanks. That tells me that that particular style continues to be a perennial favorite with my customers. Today, I replenished that stock for my next show by making 3 more. My plan was to make 4, but I ran out of time.

Clockwise from top left: copper/beige/cream mix, shades of green mix, shades of blue mix. these monotone colorways seem to be quite popular. I also make these in more varied color mixes.

In my etsy shop, I have 3 of these necklaces available for sale:

Pearl Necklace . A Study in Blue

The Elegance of Mixed Pearls . Necklace

Winter White . Pearl Necklace

Friday, October 2, 2009

Rutilated Quartz . with Sapphires . Necklace

Remember this post? Well, here's a variation of the necklaces featured there. Once again, I started with a long briolette of rutilated quartz. It is joined by two small briolettes of watermelon colored sapphires. Just like the other necklaces, I oxidized all of the sterling silver and selectively hand sanded it to reveal just a bit of the shiny. This is a look I really like for its understated elegance.

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

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Swarovski Earrings

In this previous post, I introduced you to some Swarovski crystals I received from Artbeads. Today, I put some of these lovely elements to good use.

This first pair of earrings features the Twisted Coins from Artbeads. I decided to top them with a cluster of creamy beige freshwater pearls. I call these earrings "Tone on Tone". I incorporated a Swarovski bicone crystal in the earwire. It is in the same color family (golden shadow) as the coin.

Next, I made a pair of earrings using the Column Pendant element in Crystal Satin. This color is dreamy and reminds me of the color Black Diamond. It's positively dreamy. I topped it with a large-hole sterling silver bead (to hide the wrap) and a small white freshwater pearl. When you can't afford diamonds, these earrings would be a perfect substitute.

One of the features of this series of Swarovski is that the holes are quite large. This makes them a pleasure to work with. I'm pretty sure that 20 ga wire would fit through these holes, but I used 24 ga for a more delicate look.