Friday, February 16, 2018

02.19.18 Girl Power

 When I took Marlene Richey's jewelry business class last year, one of the things she recommended was becoming a member of the local chapter of the Women's Jewelry Association. Recently I did just that - and attended my first meeting. It was wonderful not only to get to know the women behind so many of the brands and stores I have shopped for years, but to be in a room full of smart, creative, empowered women.

That's what WJA does - it brings together women in the jewelry industry (which, like so many things, has been traditionally male dominated) and provides opportunities for networking, mentoring, business development and training.

The Austin chapter is relatively new - and I'm excited to be a part of it.

It was fun to visit with Sara Dominguez and Elizabeth Gibson of Eliza Page - where I have shopped for years - most recently for this sweet Hamsa ring that was one of my daughter's Hanukkah gifts.

Photo credit:
Jodi Rae Designs
I also met Leigh Navarro, whose line, Leighelena I first purchased years ago at Blue Genie, and Jodi Rae Brownstein' whose bright colored druzies and bold stones have always caught my eye!

I met some new folks, too...

Me, Jodi and Amanda
Amanda Deer, whose East Austin studio is home to both her store front and work space. Not too long ago, I stopped by her charming shop. Her jewelry is fun and delicate - and I see her pieces in my daughter's future!

Haley LeBeuf, whose architectural jewelry has found it's way into my heart and on to my ears - because as I've said so many times before - there are NEVER too many earrings.

Haley was wearing these included crystal drops from her new "Violet Crown" line at the WJA event - and I have since added a pair to my own collection.

Photo credit: Haley LeBeuf
A couple of weekends after the meeting, Jodi held a "Tiny Tucson in Austin" gem sale. I went and had a wonderful time!  I bought some beautiful cabochons, pearls for the birthstone series I am doing with my wind chime earrings, and got to visit with other Austin jewelers.

In addition to all the pretties for sale - Jodi had an amazing cake - which was as delicious as it was beautiful.

So far, 2018 is off to a really good start - and I look forward to sharing more of my jewelry adventures with you!

Until next time.

Monday, February 5, 2018

02.04.18 Bird Watching

Gentle readers - I know some of you like winter, but at this point, I'm just hunkered down and waiting for spring.

Over the holidays we spent some quality time with our kiddos at my mother in law's house.  Because we are in Texas, she has birds in her yard all year long - and it was on a previous visit to her house that I was inspired to put a hummingbird on the back of one of my pieces.

No sooner did I post a photo of this chrysocolla pendant than I had a message from someone asking if it was already sold (it was not).

So...I started thinking more about birds.

When I was visiting my college roommate this past summer, we spent several wonderful hours sitting out her lovely deck watching all varieties of feathered friends came to dine at her well stocked bird feeders.

There is a pair of cardinals who make their home in one of her big trees and they appeared every evening, almost like clockwork, for their evening meal.

Thinking about this pair - and the folklore that surrounds cardinals (some people say when one visits, it is the spirit of a loved one who has passed) - I decided that it would be perfect for the back of this wonderful piece of vintage red glass.  I named it "The Visitor" - and it is available in my Etsy shop.

I did another hummingbird pendant, this one a labradorite - and again - it got snapped up as soon as I posted a photo of the piece in progress.

Then there's the "Happy Bird Day" pendant.  When I first posted a photo of this fabulous rainbow fluorite, a friend of mine went crazy over it...she wrote "LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this shape and stone"...and I thought, well - I know what she's getting for her birthday!  I especially like the way a shadow of the cut out is visible through the translucent stone.

My most recent bird may be my favorite.  It's a speckled hen. As soon as this dendritic opal arrived, all I could see were black and white feathers and I knew that I had to put a chicken on the back.

I realize that chickens don't fly - so they aren't like the other birds in this group - but it's my blog so I can put it in here if I want to.

Even though most people don't see them, the backs really are my favorite part of my pendants and cutting them out is the part of the process I enjoy the most.

If you have a favorite bird, let me know - I'd love to tell your story.

Until next time.

Monday, January 22, 2018

01.22.18 Hacked

Jewelry hack kit
Late last year I got the following message from a friend -

One day towards the end of 2017, two women went for a walk... And we talked. A lot. We realized that we each knew how to do certain things to make our lives a touch easier and joked that we should have a Life Hacks Party to find out all of the things our friends know, too.

That joke is turning into a real thing.

Join us for a Saturday of idea-sharing to help make 2018 a bit more manageable!

I started thinking about what I knew that would be useful and it dawned on me - many people love their jewelry, but don't know how to do simple repairs or keep it cleaned and polished - but I do!  So I put together some small hack kits - a pair of silicon ear nuts, a square of anti-tarnish paper and a small piece of Sunshine cloth - packed up my hand tools and some earring findings, and off I went.

I also created a "jewelry hack list" on Amazon, so that after the event folks could go buy more of anything they wanted - including some relatively inexpensive tools to do their own simple repairs.

It was an incredibly fun afternoon - I showed folks how to replace an ear wire, keep their jewelry polished and talked about repairs and even recycling old jewelry.

It was wonderful to meet so many smart, talented women - and as a bonus, I walked away with some great recipes, time and money saving tips, and new friends (and even sold a pair of earring!).

I hope your new year is off to a good start!

Until next time.

Monday, January 8, 2018

01.08.18 Rockin' in the New Year

Happy New Year everyone!  Welcome to year four of the blog!

I just dropped my kiddo off at the airport - she's going back for her last semester of college (she's our youngest, so in May we will have fully launched all three of them into adulthood) - and I'm headed back to the studio this week for the first time in a month.

I'm excited to be back at the bench to finish things I started back in December, and I have a whole bunch of new stones to play with...

At the end of the year I was fortunate to find a lot of oval millefiori glass, so I have plans to make as many Texas wildflower pendants as I can sell (and probably keep one for myself this time).

I bought some other wonderful cabs, too (check out my recent posts on Instagram), and I'm excited about the possibilities they hold.

So watch this space - I'll be back every couple of weeks with new stones and new stories for 2018.

Until next time.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

12.25.17 2017, That's a wrap.

It's hard to believe that I've been at this for three years...

- I've written more than 150 posts,

- sold more than 50 pieces of handcrafted jewelry,

- donated over $1,000 in jewelry and proceeds to campaigns, charities and social justice organizations from the sale of Art for Good pendants,

- met many new people,

- and you, dear readers, have visited this blog more than 15,000 times.

Thank you.

I'll be back in 2018 with more stories about my journey. I hope you will continue to travel with me.

Until next time.

Monday, December 11, 2017

12.11.17 Happy Accidents (part 2)

In the same shipment as the turquoise chips, there were several pairs of drilled bars for earrings.  Unfortunately, as sometimes happens in shipping, one of the stones cracked.

I contacted my sellers, who promptly sent me a new pair of stones, but I hated the idea of not being able to do something with the broken one...

I asked a number of folks I know who work with stones if because it was a clean break, I could glue the pieces back together?

I knew I wouldn't be able to sell the earrings, but if it worked - I could keep them.

With information about the type of glue to use (clear drying two part jewelry epoxy) and some good instructions, I put the pieces back together, wrapped them with painters tape and waited to see how it turned out.

Lo, and behold - it worked!  If you hold them close and look very carefully you can still see the seam where the stone was repaired, but you have to know it's there.

There were several other pairs of stones in my order, and they made their way into my shop, but I'm still feeling pretty proud of myself for mending these...

...and I'm really enjoying wearing them.

Until next time.

PS - my time in the booth doing descriptive audio narration for the Nutcracker went really well! Here's a bonus picture of me - with my script and microphone - just before the show!

Monday, November 27, 2017

11.27.17 Happy Accidents (part 1)

I have so much to be thankful for - this season and all year long...

...including the good fortune to have gotten to know some wonderful lapidary artists that I can call on for custom stone orders.  Recently, I ordered a big batch of turquoise from my friends the Allens, and along with the gorgeous cabochons and earring pairs, there was a string of turquoise beads.

I started thinking about what I might be able to do with them...and it occurred to me that they would make great earrings.

I had just finished a second batch of hammered bar earrings with turquoise cabochons, and started thinking about pairing the beads with hammered silver as well.

Furthermore, when I cut the backplates for my pendants, I always end up with pieces of rectangular scrap silver that are almost always too small to use, except maybe for a really small stone or a bail.

So I thought I'd play around with those small pieces and the beads.

I started with long bars - a variation on the theme of my hammered earrings with cabochons. When I had used up all the larger scrap, I cut some small (half inch on a side) squares and decided to see how those looked...

I was surprised how much I liked the diamond I hammer textured and cut up all the scrap I had left to make a few more pairs.  They are available in the Etsy shop.

I'm so pleased with this "happy accident" design that I'm considering some other stones - because I will certainly have more scrap silver.  So watch this space - because there's sure to be more to come.

Until next time.