Friday, October 29, 2010

Peach Moonstone Earrings

Just when I think I've completely run out of new ideas for earring designs, something happens.  Rick comes back in from his studio/shop (it's a building separate from the house and I only let him back in the house at lunch or after 5pm -- I run a tight ship) with a bag of sterling silver ovals that I asked him to solder closed for me.

Here, I must digress to tell you why these ovals were cut in the first place.  I make these very popular and good selling bracelets of mixed chains.

As you can see, half of the bracelet is large link chain that I purchase in bulk, by the spool.  Yes, it's very expensive because it's heavy.  Those of you that work with chain know that every time you cut a link, you lose a link.  This is not so painful when working with small cable chain, but this big stuff really hurts!  Each link is about an inch long.  I had a big bag full of them and .... continued ...

So, I'm staring at these now solid links and I start scheming.  This is the result:

Voila!  A new earring design is born.  Needless to say, I made a whole series of similar earrings with a variety of stones.  They are longer than many of my designs and will (hopefully) appeal to a different set of shoppers.

I only have one show left this season and for that I am grateful.  It's the "lightest" show season I have had since 1997 and it feels good.  If you live in Southcentral Alaska, please visit me at the Bad Girls of the North craft show at the Millennium Hotel, Nov 5 & 6.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A New Hat - Just for Me!

Remember this post?  If you don't, I'll refresh your memory with this photo of some wonderful yarns.

The yummy green yarn (79% wool, 21% linen) is now this cute hat:

Yes, I cropped out my face.  Why, you ask?  Because it was cold and I had an extremely goofy look on my face. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Road Trip!

Over the weekend, we took a little drive to Girdwood, about 40 miles south of Anchorage.  It's a beautiful area, known for skiing and all sorts of winter activities.  Since there is still no snow, the drive was pleasant and the views outstanding.  We had a nice lunch at Chair 5, a local hangout.

While there, I paid a visit to Shelbi Lynn, owner of Babes in the Woods, one of the stores I consign with.  I had never actually been in the store before and was pleased with how nice the store is.  It's cozy and full of all sorts of handmade goodness.  I bought a really nice handmade journal with a vintage feel to it.

Of course, I forgot to take any pictures, but I found a couple online that epitomize the town of Girdwood.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Lemon Layer Cake

Last week was Rick's birthday -- I'm married to an old geezer -- he turned 60! --  and he requested a lemon cake.  I scoured my recipe collection, as activity I thoroughly enjoy.  As a matter of fact, I think I enjoy that more than the actual baking.  Anyway, I found a recipe for an orange cake that looked exactly like what I was looking for, except it was orange flavored instead of lemon.

I knew I would probably need to add some additional sugar, because lemon juice is much more tart than orange juice.  Bottom line: I didn't add enough extra sugar.  Rick loved this cake, but it was a tad too tart for me.

I baked two layers and split them.  The filling (the part that needed a bit more sugar) is similar to the filling you would find in a lemon meringue pie.  I used it between each of the layers and on top.  The frosting, which was only applied to the outside, is a simple lemon enhanced butter cream.

It was definitely a pretty cake!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Carnivale Necklace

No, I was not experimenting with hallucinogenic drugs the day I made this necklace.  I realize that the color combination is a bit wild for me, but I LOVE IT!

Hot pink chalcedony, golden honey colored chalcedony and bright orange carnelian.  It looks like candy at a carnival!  Click the photo to go directly to the listing in my etsy shop.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Peek Into My Work Area

I spent all of yesterday morning making pairs of briolettes and beads in preparation for an earring making marathon.  I really enjoy the pair-making.  It lets me reacquaint myself with my beads (why, hello HUGE garnets!) and take stock of what's still left in my inventory.

Sometimes it can be frustrating as well.  Like when you have many (like 20+) large, beautiful iolite briolettes remaining, yet can't find a pair among them.  Makes me want to growl and say lots of bad words.  I think I did the last part ... a lot.

Close up of the right end.  And yes, those are some deliciously large marquis cut citrine briolettes.

And look!  There's another pair on the left side.   I never put pairs of the same stone next to each other, lest I get confused and pair up the wrong 2!

And lastly, this little baggie of multi colored tourmaline briolettes that I have yet to cut.  But I will.  Soon.  (They're not from Rio Grande -- that's the baggie of beadcaps behind them.)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

SALE in my etsy shop!

I've decided to run a nice little sale in my etsy shop.  Between now and end of day, Friday, October 22, I'm offering 20% off your entire order!  This sale is only open to my newsletter subscribers and blog readers.

I will refund the appropriate amount to your paypal account after you have completed your purchase.

Don't miss the "back pages" of my shop -- most of those items will be expiring soon and will not be renewed

Happy shopping!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Alaska Bead Society

This past weekend was the 14th annual Alaska Bead Society "Bead Arts Gala", held at the Anchorage Museum.  This show is always fun, even though sales are usually pretty mediocre.  This year was no exception.  Imagine trying to sell bead jewelry in a venue with about 50 other artists selling bead jewelry.  It's a delight (or a nightmare!) for the shoppers.

Here's a photo of my booth.  This show is so limiting for me because we are each only allowed one table.

My neighbor was the ever-friendly and cheerful Jeanne Wooderson.  Here's her booth/table.

The good news is that I probably don't have to make very much jewelry to be ready for my next show,  Bad Girls of the North in Anchorage!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Artist Spotlight :: Maggie Hallam

In an attempt to "freshen up" the Bad Girls of the North craft show in Fairbanks in 2009, I search etsy by location and was pleasantly surprised when I found Maggie's shop.   I was so impressed with her handmade boxes.  I contacted her about the show and she agreed to becoming a vendor.  This year, she came back and sold not only her fabulous boxes, but her line of rubber stamps and note cards as well.

Maggie's work is meticulous and her selection of papers is delightful.  She uses traditional book making techniques to cover the heavy book board that she makes the boxes with.

Maggie also designs some really great rubber stamps. I purchased a few of them myself.  This wild iris is one of my favorites.

So, have a visit to Maggie's etsy shop and you may just find that perfect box to store your treasures!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Fun and Unique Etsy Purchase

It's no secret that I like to cook and bake.  It's also no secret that I have a thing for antique kitchen ware.  Imagine how excited I was to see this item on etsy.  If I remember correctly, it was in the etsy finds email a while back.  It is from New Dominion Blues.  I'm not sure I'll actually bake in it, but if I do, it will make really cute corn muffins!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Alaska Bead Society

The annual Bead Arts Gala organized by the Alaska Bead Society is fast approaching.  It will be held at the Anchorage Museum of History and Art this coming Saturday and Sunday.  The hours are 10am to 6pm on Saturday and noon to 5pm on Sunday.  Here's a photo of my booth from last year, when the show was held at the Conoco-Phillips Atrium.

I think I'll just use one of those shelf units and make a longer riser for the earring racks, but it will be basically the same this year.  With all new jewelry, of course!  I'll take some photos and share them with you next week.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Artbeads for Autumn ... Focus on Botswana Agate

If you remember from this post, I had a strand of Botswana Agate briolettes that I had not yet decided how to use.  Well, I've been busy matching them up into pairs for earrings.  The color and pattern differences proved difficult to work with, but I like a good bead-y challenge.  I managed to find several pairs of briolettes for this selection of earrings.  These Botswana Agates can be found on Artbeads website, in the Gemstone category.

This pair features a set of circles I fused from fine silver wire, then textured.  The earwires are handmade by me.  I kind of like the way the stripes in the beads are going different ways.

I found some large barrel shaped Botswana Agate beads in my stash that complemented the briolettes from Artbeads beautifully for this next pair.

For this pair, I suspended a short section of chain from the earwires and added a moonstone rondelle dangle from each link.  The peach and gray of the moonstone seemed to match this pair of agates perfectly.

This last pair is similar to the first pair, but the earwires, which I made, are a very different style.

Now I am left with a bunch of unmatched briolettes that will be part of necklaces such as this one, where the agate has been teamed with a peach moonstone briolette and a peachy coin pearl.

I really enjoyed working with these stones.  The holes were generous in size and I found enough pairs to make several pairs of earrings.  This is always more tricky than it looks when you first get a strand of any gemstone briolettes.  I actually enjoy the task of making pairs.  It allows me to fondle beads :)

Disclosure: Artbeads invited me to join their blogging community. I receive these products free of charge in return for honest reviews. I have not been paid for doing this.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Purple and Gold

I don't often work with gold filled, mainly because of the expense.  But this trio of stones seemed to need gold, as opposed to silver.  The three stones are:  a marquis shaped briolette of deep, dark purple, a crystal quartz briolette of unmatched clarity and a wonderfully mottled moss amethyst.

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

Friday, October 8, 2010

Asiatic Lilies

The other day Rick returned from some errands with a wonderful surprise for me.  A beautiful bunch of yellow Asiatic Lilies!

Another one has opened up since I took this photo.  The vase is one of my favorites.  I purchased it several years ago at Orient & Flume in Chico, California.  It was blown by one of Rick's college buddies, Scott, who is one of the primary artists at that studio.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


No, I'm not talking about me ... or my husband, silly.  I'm talking about real homemade fruitcake.  I know what you're thinking -- nobody really likes fruitcake.  Well, this one is the exception.  It's moist, tasty and full of chunky goodness.  This recipe comes from my (first) mother-in-law, who was a fabulous cook and baker.

The photo is  not a particularly good one, but I wanted to show you that it has no disgusting green and red candied cherries in it. :)

Theresa's Fruitcake

1 cup oil
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
4 eggs
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp allspice
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp nutmeg
1 cup orange juice
5 cups mixed fruits (I used i cup each of candied orange peel, candied lemon peel, figs, dates, raisins.  I think dried cranberries would be an interesting addition if you don't like the candied peels)
3 cups chopped nuts (I used 1 cup each of walnuts, pecans and almonds)

Combine oil, eggs and brown sugar.  Beat for 2 minutes until smooth.  Stir in 2 cups of the flour, baking powder and spices (feel free to make substitutions here too -- if you don't like allspice, just omit it) alternately with the orange juice.  Mix remaining flour with the fruits and nuts.  Mix into the batter.

Pour into 2 greased loaf pans.  Place a pan of water on the lower oven rack (I'm not sure what affect this would have, but I did it anyway).  Bake at 275 for 2 1/2 - 3 hours.  Let stand 15 minutes before removing from pans.  Then cool on wire rack. 

At this point, I wrapped one of the loaves in foil for immediate consumption.  The other loaf has been wrapped in cheesecloth that we soaked in Drambuie (because we didn't have any brandy on hand).  Then it was wrapped in foil and refrigerated.  I'll let you know how that one fared sometime in December!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Stampsmith October Challenge

One of the rubber stamping yahoo groups I belong to initiated a 3 month challenge, starting in October.  The requirements for this first phase of the challenge were to use a rubber stamp from The Stampsmith, have a Halloween theme, use a file folder and include some stitching.  Fine, I thought.  I have lots of stamps from the Stampsmith and I have file folders.  But Halloween?  I don't usually do holiday specific projects. And sewing?  I don't sew unless my life depends on it.

I always have trouble with the 'blank canvas', so the first thing I did was spray that file folder with black webbing spray.  Ok, I'm onto something here.  I sponged on some colors -- orange, green and purple.  Then I randomly stamped some leaf images in similar colors.  Next, I looked through my catalog of images from the Stampsmith and decided that Bette Davis looked quite witchy, especially when I can only remember seeing her in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane.   Then I found this great image of the Wicked Witch of the West from The wizard of Oz, and I was just about done.  The BOO! stamp was from the $1 bin at Michael's.  The minimal stitching is fuzzy fiber that I added along the sides of the folder using a simple blanket stitch.  Voila!  I've met all the requirements and I love the results!

(It's hard to see, but under the Bette Davis image are the words "Good Witch".)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Simple White Pearls

I wear earrings every day, even if I know that I'll be home all day.  It helps me feel more "put together".  Some days, I don't want to think too much about which ones to wear.  That's when I reach for earrings like these.

You can't go wrong with pearls and they go well with everything.  Click on the photo to go directly to the listing in my etsy shop.  I also have a similar pair listed in gold filled.  These are a bit more elaborate, with a couple of accent beads added above the pearl.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Yarn Love

Yarn is one of my newest weaknesses -- it's only been going on for about 3 years.  I love natural fibers and rich colors.  I purchased these yarns several months ago and just recently decided it was time to use them.

Half of these are 79% wool and 21% linen.  The other half are 79% wool and 21% bamboo.  Each skein is variegated in color and saturated with color.  There was one more skein in the collection, but it is now a scarf ... a yummy deep purple scarf with a multi-colored ruffled edge.

Now I need to decide what to do with the rest of these yarns!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Artbeads for Autumn

I was invited to be part of Artbeads Autumn Blogging Fun and what fun it is!  This time around, I selected some items that are outside of my usuals.  What better way to challenge myself?

These are some amazingly beautiful Botswana agate briolettes.  I love the swirls of gray, taupe, brown and white.  Finding pairs for earrings may be difficult, but I'll give it my best shot.  These stones are found on Artbeads website in the Gemstone category.  They fit perfectly well with the Pantone color report for fall, as they contain both Oyster Gray and Chocolate Truffle!

I also selected a copper leaf pendant and a brass art deco style pendant.  I found the copper leaf pendant in the category of Pendants, where there is a huge selection of pendants in a wide variety of styles. I think it could be part of the Lipstick Red component of Pantone's fall color report.

I found the brass pendant in the Findings category in the Jewelry Links section. There are some really great items to be found there.

While I have not completed all of the projects I planned for these items, I did finish one necklace.  I used the copper pendant, which has been patinated to a rich coral-ly, raspberry-ish red -- very hard to describe this color!  To set off the bright colors of this pendant, I used a copper jump ring to attach it to a piece of antiqued brass filigree. I think it makes an interesting contrast.  I made a short "chain" with some color coordinated glass beads from my stash and then used hand dyed silk, from Artbeads Stringing Materials section, to complete the necklace.  Not wanting to add any additional hardware or findings, I tied cute little bows on either side, making this necklace completely adjustable.

Stay tuned to see what I decide to do with those Botswana agate briolettes and the copper piece.

Disclosure: Artbeads invited me to join their blogging community. I receive these products free of charge in return for honest reviews. I have not been paid for doing this.