Sunday, August 30, 2015

08.31.15 Treasures of the sea(shore)

We had a wicked good time on Cape Cod, followed by a short but successful stay in the Boston area to move my daughter in to her dorm for her sophomore year of college.

I am home and back at my desk, but happily in possession of both some wonderful memories and a few trinkets from our trip to the seashore.

We stayed at a small, family owned lodge called the Hyannis Holiday Motel.  It was straight out of a 1960's movie set - complete with the "return to" information on the key!  It was quirky (in a good way), convenient, and our kids thought it was way cooler than your average Hilton property.

Although we hung out primarily in Hyannis, we started our va-Cape-tion in Chatham (on the recommendation of very good friends who spend a couple of weeks there every summer).  After visiting the beach and the lighthouse, the guys found some bar seats at The Squire - a local pub - while my daughter and I ventured in and out of the shops along Main Street.
It didn't take me long to find a pair of  souvenir earrings. Longtime Chatham jewelers - Forest Beach Designer-Goldsmiths - have a lovely shop filled with work created by the owners, and other local artisans. 

My eyes landed pretty quickly on a pair of sparkly silver drops.  At first glance I thought they were covered with micro pave sized diamonds - but to my happy surprise - they are simply textured to create the sparkle (making them incredibly affordable)!  When I saw them, I said to my daughter, "these are going to be perfect with my lost wax pendant." I was absolutely right!

Hyannis Harbor Artist Shantis
After Chatham, we returned to Hyannis, where I found more local galleries and artists (and opportunities to shop!). Across from our hotel, along the harbor front, there are several small buildings - called Artist Shantis - where local artisans can rent space throughout the year.

In one of the buildings, sisters Christine Esperson and Jean Esperson-Golden, were selling their jewelry and accessories.  As I looked around, I visited with Christine about her travels, her jewelry-making and what drives creativity.  I knew I wouldn't be able to leave without a pair of her earrings, and settled on denim blue druzy drops, bezel set in an oxidized silver.  I expect, that much like blue jeans (with which the earrings share their color) these are going to be a pair that are easy to wear a lot because they will go with everything.

Photo credit: Dune Jewelry
A walk up the hill and into town led again to Main Street (every small Massachusetts town has one) where I was able to find the work of a jeweler I had learned about before our trip.  Cape Cod native, Holly Christensen,  makes jewelry from silver and sand.  Her company, Dune Jewelry, has grown from a hobby into a full fledged company - creating jewelry with sands from all over the world.  I had my eye on a pair of her "Sandbar" earrings before I ever left Austin, and found them - along with a lot of other beautiful things - at SoHo Arts.

Lest you think I'm the only one who went home with goodies - let me assure you - my daughter, sons and husband found things too, just not jewelry.

We visited two breweries - where the guys picked up tee shirts, glassware and some beverages to enjoy back at the hotel.  My daughter chose seaglass - but instead of jewelry, she decided on a sweet piece of 3D art for her dorm room.

We are now all back to our regular grinds - working or studying - but we had a wonderful time, and each have our own special memories and tangible treasures.

Until next time.

Monday, August 24, 2015

08.24.15 All for Naut[ical] the sea no less.  After a very busy summer, and two long months of Texas heat, I am off to Cape Cod for four and a half fabulous days with my husband and all three kids. As I wrote earlier this summer, getting five us all in one place at the same time requires organizational skills that approach superpower status. 
Photo credit: Coach

I owe more than a little of my inherited talent in this realm to my late mother.  Long before online booking services and Google calendar, she put together wonderful family trips year after year.  My father was a theoretical physicist and often, but not always, our summer travel was tied to my father's work destinations.

When he had a project at Los Alamos National Labs in New Mexico, we visited Albuquerque and Santa Fe, and took the tram to the top of Sandia mountain. We toured Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco while he attended meetings at Lawrence Livermore National Labs; or viewed the city from the top of the Sears Tower in Chicago while he supervised an experiment at the Fermi Lab.

Photo credit: JewelMint
As kids, my brother and I saw a lot of landmarks and visited places all across this country...and now, only as parent myself, do I truly appreciate just how much love and effort went into scheduling all those opportunities to make memories. 

Instead of traveling for business as my dad did, technology often results in our jobs following us.  So when I plan our family vacations, I really want us all to be able to leave work behind and focus on the fun.  Last week when I was finalizing all the details, my mind was already at the beach as I chose jewelry to take with me. Although I love to buy jewelry as souvenirs, I don't like to travel with keepsake pieces. I had a near-miss experience several years ago that cured me of taking anything irreplaceable on a trip.

That said, I do like to have some variety...I was definitely thinking nautical and preppy as I packed.  Since it was a short trip I chose three pairs of earrings, a go with everything necklace and my very nautical striped Coach boyfriend watch (because no one wants to miss a plane!)

I chose my interlocking monogram necklace - I mean - what's preppier or more classic than that, right?  For earrings I decided to keep it simple - hoops - a large mixed metal pair from JewelMint, and my fringe hoops from Stella & Dot, plus a pair of simple drops, with a "D" engraved on them.

L to R: LeSportsac, Stella & Dot, Lands' End.

With my clothes and accessories assembled, I am ready to go enjoy cool breezes, fresh seafood, and maybe even a little souvenir shopping for a future post!

Until next time.

Monday, August 17, 2015

08.17.15 Tiny bubbles...

When your father is a theoretical physicist, even something as seemingly simple as a soap bubble becomes a science lesson.  To this day - one of my earliest memories of learning from my dad was blowing bubbles, and his explanation of surface tension.

I still love bubbles - their ephemeral, iridescent beauty - like little floating jewels, always makes me smile.
When my husband and I got married, rather than having our guests toss rice or birdseed, we had them blow bubbles as we left the synagogue.  This picture, with the bubbles in the foreground as we got into our limousine, is probably my favorite out of the hundreds taken than evening.

When my kids were little, we spent countless hours outside blowing bubbles and watching the dog chase them, trying in vain to catch them.

So, you ask - why bubbles this week?  Well, it's summer - so why not - and it turns out bubbles have cropped up in my jewelry lately.

When I took Lorena Angulo's precious metal clay class at Creative Side a few weeks ago, one of the pieces I made was for my daughter; an Erlenmeyer flask pendant.  

Just plain, it wasn't quite right, so I added bubbles...and suddenly it had movement and personality!

Photo credit: Metalicious
I've also had my eye on a fabulous pair of bubble earrings in Stephanie Maslow's etsy shop - metalicious.  As good fortune would have it, Stephanie had a birthday sale, and I snapped up these fabulous earrings at 20% off!  I love them - and I find myself wearing them - a lot - because just putting them on makes me smile.

Sometimes, life moves so fast, we need to be reminded to step back and take a little smell the daisies...or blow some soap bubbles.

Until next time.

Monday, August 10, 2015

08.10.15 Green with....

Peridot specimens
Smithsonian Gem Room thought I was going to say "envy", didn't you? Nope - peridot! August's birthstone.

Green was my mother's favorite color - so it surprises me that none of her jewelry (at least none that made its way to me) contains green stones - either emeralds or peridot.

Peridot is the gem grade form of the mineral "olivine" (for its olive green color).  One of the earth's most abundant minerals, it forms in the mantle and is the only gemstone other than diamonds to form below the crust.  The mineral has also been found in meteorites.

Like diamonds, peridots come towards the earth's surface through volcanic eruption. Unlike diamonds (or other gems) which can come in a variety of colors, peridots are always green.  The color is the result of the high iron content in the mineral - the more iron - the deeper the green.

Photo credit: Smithsonian Institution
The Smithsonian collection (which is well worth visiting) includes this magnificent 46.16 carat precision cut gem.  This piece, from Pakistan, is ideal in color - deep green without any browns or yellows.

Photo credit: Beyond the Rockz
Since I don't have any peridot pieces in my personal collection, I've put together some of my favorites on Pinterest, and thought I'd share a few of them (with shopping links, of course) right here for anyone looking for that perfect gift for an August baby.

This spectacular peridot and white gold ring comes from the design team of Al and Caroline at Beyond the Rockz.  I've long been an admirer of the beautiful rings in this wonderful shop featuring vintage designs and custom pieces, but I don't really have enough fingers for any more rings.  That hasn't stopped me from making other purchases - and favorite personal piece from them is a fluid gold heart, that always garners lots of complements.

Photo credit: Cecile Raley Designs
Very similar to the black diamond necklace I had made for my daughter - this round peridot in Yvonne Raley's signature octagonal setting is another beautiful piece from one of my favorite jewelers.

Photo credit: Metalicious
Last, but far from least, is this scroll pendant with a peridot briolette drop from Stephanie Maslow of Metalicious. She describes the wrought ironwork in the cities of Europe as her inspiration for the infinity link that holds the stone.

Whether or not you have an August birthday, if you are looking to put a pop of springtime green into your jewelry wardrobe, peridot is your go to gem.

Until next time.

Monday, August 3, 2015

08.03.11 Calling all artists - Handcrafted Holidays

Cherrywood Art Fair on Pinterest
It's barely August, we only hit 100 degrees last week here in Austin, and it seems silly to think about year end celebrations...but with eight nights of Hanukkah (times 3 kids - 2 of them with December birthdays), and future blog posts to write, it's not too early for me.

One of the things I have enjoyed most about my blog project has been the opportunity to meet and write about wonderful jewelry artists from all over the country - and introduce these folks and their work to you.

Two of my favorite Austin-based hand crafted holiday art markets are the Cherrywood Art Fair and the Blue Genie Art Bazaar.  For more than a decade, these two events have been my go to places for great gifts.

Blue Genie is currently taking artist applications - through August 24, and Cherrywood applications open on August 11.  If you're an artist in Central Texas and don't know about these events, I encourage you to check them out!

I'll be writing more about these events, the artists, and the wonderful gifts I've bought in past years, as it cools off and we get closer to the holidays - but wanted to put the word out there now!  If you just CAN'T WAIT - or want a sneak peak - take a look at a few of the things available from jewelry artists last year.

Shopping local and hand crafted is important for so many reasons - not the least of which is it shows you really thought about your intended recipients - but also because it supports independent crafts people, keeps money in our local community, and so often represents a second life for materials that might otherwise have ended up in a landfill.

If you are an artist outside Austin, but will be participating in holiday shows or boutiques in your area, please let me know - I'll happily share details here and on twitter!

For now, keep cool and enjoy summer - soon we will fall back, and the holidays will be upon us.

Until next time.

Blue Genie Art Bazaar 2014