Wednesday, December 21, 2016

12.26.16 Auld Lang Syne

As I sat down to write my last post for this year, 
I looked back at my final entry for 2015 - I was surprised at how much it still resonates:

The last few weeks have been difficult – just watching what is going on here at home and around the world – and more than I expected it to be, the blog and jewelry making have been a source of beauty and comfort for me.  There is something so affirming about being able to work with my hands and make art – and it has given me a way to escape reality for a few hours at a time.

Now, perhaps more than ever, art matters...both as a way to bring beauty into the world, and as a means of seeing things through a critical lens.

Go out and find the artists in your community - get to know them, support them, and perhaps even join them.

Until next time.

PS - I'm going to take the first couple of weeks of January off, while my daughter is home from college, but I'll be back.


Monday, December 19, 2016

12.19.16 SCORE! (Ippolita trunk show follow up)

Last week I suggested that if you were in Austin and had time, you should swing by Russell Korman for the Ippolita trunk show...and here's one of the reasons why...when jewelry reps travel for these shows, they often bring "hidden gems" (ha, ha, ha) with them that you won't find in regular store stock or online.

I told my husband I was going - and he said "oh, good - make sure I buy you something really nice for Hanukkah and our anniversary".  Only too happy to oblige, when I spotted these silver and diamond linear drops I knew right away that they were going to be mine.  They have clean lines, classic styling and great movement (all the things I love in a piece of jewelry).

I got home and went to the Ippolita website, in search of a picture (better than one I could take) to post - and couldn't find them.  I typed in the style number written on my receipt, and got an error message that read "SORRY THERE ARE NO RESULTS FOR THAT ITEM NUMBER".

Well, I knew that wasn't true - because I bought them.  So I searched a little more with keywords...

I found these...
Photo credit: IPPOLITA

and these...
Photo credit: IPPOLITA

but not the ones I purchased.

So I called Ippolita, and asked...turns out that they take samples and one of kind pieces to trunk shows - and that's the only place you can find them.

I am thrilled!  Not only do a I have great new pair of earrings - that look fabulous with my lost wax pendant - but they are unique, which makes them extra special.

I encourage you, any time you can, to attend trunk shows - you can talk to the jewelry artist or their representative, learn more about the brand, and often find something really special for yourself or a gift.

There's still a week until Hanukkah and Christmas - I hope, if you are still shopping, you will seek out local holiday fairs and trunk shows at your favorite independent jeweler.

Whatever your celebration over the next few days - I hope it is full of sparkle.

Until next time. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

12.12.16 Ip, ip, ip...IPPOLITA!

Photo credit: IPPOLITA
(and you thought I was going to say 'ooray!)

I'm having a really busy holiday season - so this post will be short.  But I didn't want to miss a week so close to the end of the year - and I am absolutely going to find time to go to Russell Korman for their Ippolita trunk show on Wednesday (December 14).

As fine jewelry companies go, Ippolita - founded in 1999 by Italian artist and designer Ippolita Rostagno - is a relative newcomer.  Her contemporary pieces featuring precious metals and gemstones are some of my favorites - and they transition beautifully from casual to dressy wear.

Photo credit: IPPOLITA
I have several pairs of her earrings - and I love mixing her high end dangles with some of my most "low end" necklaces. 

I wrote one of my first posts about wearing these blue "Rock Candy" doublet earrings with a $20 necklace of glass beads strung on waxed cotton.

There are a lot of things I really like about Ippolita in addition to the clean, simple shapes - it is one of the most colorful lines of fine jewelry I've ever seen. Additionally, because she works in silver as well gold, many of her pieces are very affordable (making it easier for me to justify buying a pair of earrings almost annually!).

Recently, I've been wearing my oval diamond "Stella" drops with a pendant I made from a piece of reclaimed surfboard resin. I love the bright colors, and decided that it needed something whimsical on the reverse - so I gave it a fat tabby cat. I had so much fun making this one I decided to keep it.

That's it for this week - like I said, short and sweet (but it still counts, right?).

Don't miss your chance to shop locally for this great jewelry line in Austin - the staff and IPPOLITA reps will be there from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday (the jewelry is always there) - so swing on by, perhaps I'll see you.  If not, tell them Deb sent you!

In case you've forgotten, you can find Russell Korman at 5011 Burnet Road.

Until next time.

Monday, December 5, 2016

12.05.16 Visions of Sugarplums...reprise

Ballet Austin Nutcracker Cast 2013 - my daughter's last show
Last week I visited the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired - as I have done for many years - to share music and stories about the Nutcracker with the students there, before they attend a Ballet Austin school show performance.

I'm reprising this post from last year, because it really captures how I feel about the Nutcracker, and the gift that the TSBVI students give to me, by letting me visit with them each year as the holiday season approaches.

When my daughter was 3 years old, we were invited to a mother-daughter event to see Ballet Austin's production of Cinderella.  For more than 2 hours, she sat on the edge of her seat, and when the curtain went down and the lights went up, she said to me "Mommy, I'm going to be a ballerina".

My response was "of course you are" - because all 3 year old girls want to be ballerinas.

However, my girl really DID go on to be a ballerina; for 14 years she danced at the Ballet Austin Academy, and for 10 of those years she was part of the annual cast of the Nutcracker (she STILL dances for fun and exercise).

Charms - all the roles
My daughter was so excited to be cast as an angel her first year, and I bought her a James Avery angel charm, and had the date engraved on the back, as a keepsake.  The next two years, she danced as a mouse in the battle scene, so I bought mouse charms, and by her fourth year, it occurred to me that maybe instead of putting these charms on her regular charm bracelet, they needed to be own their it was...that over the course of those 10 years we created a shiny record of all of her performances.

I confess, I tired of the schlep to rehearsals and the theater, and saw the production more times than I can count...but I got involved in my own way.  I became a docent - going into schools in the Austin area to talk to elementary school students about ballet and what they will see when they attend the performance.
Backs - all the dates

Being a docent is hands down my favorite part of the Nutcracker.  There is something so special and fulfilling about the opportunity to bring an art form I love to students, who often, have never seen a live performance.  For most of my presentations I rely on the wonderful materials provided Ballet Austin Community Education staff.  In addition to the presentation itself, each docent receives a bag chock full of props including, of course, a Nutcracker. For the past several years I’ve also been the docent for a particularly special group of children – the students at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired - and I was excited to see them again last week.

When I was first asked to do the presentation for TSBVI, I was already an experienced docent.  I said “yes” without a full appreciation of what I was taking on.  I knew the students would have little or no sight, but what I did not know what the range of other special needs the residential school serves.  Some students are sight impaired, but very high functioning in other areas, and some have much more severe disabilities and special needs. Fortunately, the school has a wonderful music teacher who gave me great advice on what would spark their interest and be appropriate for her students.
A TSBVI student holds a Nutcracker

Being the docent for TSBVI made me think about ballet in a way that goes beyond the visual.  To bring the Nutcracker alive for these students I focus on their other senses.  Students hear the story through descriptive audio services when they attend the performance at the Long Center, and Tchaikovsky’s fabulous score provides signature phrases for many scenes.

In the first act, there is the ominous music that precedes or indicates the arrival of the Rat King.  At the end of the act, there is snow - which does not fall silently – but as the rhythmic tapping of 32 perfectly timed pointe shoes moving across the stage.  In the second act, each "sweet" has their own musical theme, and as we listen I ask students to imagine the taste and smell of coffee, tea, cinnamon, chocolate, almond and peppermint. 

A TSBVI student tries on a costume
The students also love the costumes. Over the years I’ve made a point of taking well embellished tutus so that students can feel the beading, embroidery and tulle – allowing them to “visualize” the garment in their minds - truly creating visions of sugarplums.

My daughter is in college now, and we attend a performance every year when she is home.  But it is my time with these special children that really helps me to "see" the beauty of this "holiday gem".

Until next time.

Monday, November 28, 2016

11.28.16 Thankful

My mother in law's beautiful Thanksgiving table
Thanksgiving was wonderful.  We spent it at my mother in law's with all three of our children, and both our sons brought their girlfriends for the weekend.  It reminded me of all I have to be grateful for...

Let's start with my husband, who has supported and encouraged me for nearly 25 years.  Without him there would be no blog, no jewelry, no opportunity for me to make art and support the work of others.

My children, my daughter who will turn 21 in just a few days and my (step) sons, I've written about them before - I call them my "gift with purchase" for marrying their dad.  They are the source of limitless joy and pride, and have grown into some of the finest adults I know.

My mother in law, boy did I hit the jackpot.  Not only is she the best Mimi any kid could ask for, but she has been there for me - especially in the years since my own mother died.  She also puts out an amazing holiday meal year after year.

My friends, old and new, real life and virtual.  You have cheered me on, read my blog (almost 10,000 times), and bought my jewelry.

Creative Side - the staff, teachers and my fellow students and benchmates.  I learn something new every time I walk through the doors - and look forward to being at the bench for a long, long time.

I try to get up and count my blessings - which are so many - every day.  It seemed appropriate to take a moment and share my gratitude with all of you.

Until next time.

Monday, November 21, 2016

11.21.16 Shop Local upDATE - Holiday Art Fairs 2016

If this post looks a little familiar, it's because I wrote about my three favorite local holiday art fairs around this time last year - and I thought you all might like updated information on dates and locations (especially if you didn't see last year's post).

Blue Genie Art Bazaar – November 25 – December 24
Cherrywood Art Fair, December 10 and 11
Armadillo Christmas Bazaar – December 14 – 24

Photo credit: CHULA

While it’s the smallest of the three, the Cherrywood Art Fair is nearest and dearest to my heart.  Started in 2002 as a way to support neighborhood artists and elementary school art programs, it has grown into a very big deal.  In 2003 it moved to Maplewood Elementary school (our neighborhood school), where it is now one of the most anticipated events of the holiday season.  With over one hundred artists, musical performances and food vendors, it is great way to spend a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

Not only can you support these great artists through your purchases, a portion of the proceeds from the event goes to support the Little Artist BIG ARTIST program.

Since 2007, Little Artist BIG ARTIST has provided an opportunity for fifth-graders from East Austin elementary schools to work with BIG ARTISTS to create their own art.  BIG ARTISTS provide their time and professional experience as working artists to guide their Little Artists to envision, plan, and create at least two pieces of artwork during their 10 week one-on-one collaboration.  The artwork is part of a silent auction each year at the Cherrywood Art Fair.

Photo credit: Blue Genie Art Bazaar
Just up the road a piece - in their new location at 6100 Airport Boulevard - and open for nearly a month starting the day after Thanksgiving, is the Blue Genie Art Bazaar.

What started as some creative people deciding to have a little holiday fun has become one of my favorite must shop Austin holiday traditions.

According to the history on their website - "The first Blue Genie Art Bazaar was held in 2001 at the Blue Genie Art Industries (BGA) shop, where we mostly sold items made by Blue Genie employees. Without putting much thought into it, we built a few walls, hung up some clip lights, and swept the floor — and then we opened the doors. It was quickly apparent that we had something exciting on our hands. Now, the bazaar features the handmade, unique work of over 130 artists, whom we select from a talented pool of more than 300 applicants. We have spent over a decade refining the bazaar, and we’re quite proud of what it has grown into."

I ALWAYS find something at Blue Genie, sometimes it's even something for me!

Photo credit: Armadillo Christmas Bazaar
Art by Aly Winningham

The Armadillo Christmas Bazaar is the oldest and longest running of the fairs.  If you REALLY want to make a day of it - get tickets to Ballet Austin's Nutcracker (which runs through December 23, right next door at the Long Center for the Performing Arts), then stroll over to the Palmer Events Center for a different kind of Texas culture.

With artists from all over the country, it's not just a great place to shop for gifts - but a wonderful way to entertaining out of town friends and family wandering from booth to booth while hearing great Texas music.

In case you can't one or more of these events - or aren't fortunate enough to get to Austin at all - here are links to a few of the Austin-based jewelry artists I've shopped with over the years:

adaptive reUse - Christine Terrell uses vintage tins to make one of a kind earrings, necklaces, belt buckles and cufflinks.
Dish it Out Jewelry - Holli Brown brakes vintage plates - and turns them into wonderful earrings, pendants and bracelets.
Fail Jewelry - Christine Fail works in gold, silver, brass and gemstones to create beautiful contemporary wearable art
Lisa Crowder Jewelry - Lisa Crowder creates distinctive floral and geometric jewelry in silver, gold and enamel.
Metalsgirl - Lisa Gibson combines stones and silver in wonderful, colorful, wearable works of art.
Poppy & Fern - Rachel Pruitt creates tiny embroidered works of art to wear on a chain or hang on the wall.
Steve Kriechbaum Goldsmith - Steve Kriechbaum is a master bench jeweler working in precious metals and gemstones.  Fun fact - he and his associate Nora McMullen are also instructors at Creative Side Jewelry Academy.
Stones Throw Studio -  Kyle Goss works primarily with silver and stones to make jewelry with an organic look and feel.

Happy shopping - and stay tuned for at least one more "shop local" post.

Until next time.

Monday, November 14, 2016

11.14.16 Holding it together... feels like that's what a lot of us our trying to do right now.  In the few days since the US Presidential election, we are trying to hold ourselves, our communities and our country together...and we're doing it with safety pins.

Such a simple thing, the safety pin.  I always have a few of them in my handbag - most moms I know do, too.

A few years ago, when a friend of mine got married, the bustle on her gown wouldn't stay buttoned up during the reception.  "Do you have a safety pin?" she asked.  I did, and so did a few other guests;  we pinned up the hem and bustle of her dress and danced with her.  It was a beautiful wedding and a lovely memory.

Photo credit - adaptive reuse

You may start to see more safety pins over the next few weeks - for reasons much darker than my wedding memory.  People have begun wearing them to hold together the fabric of our nation.

It took almost no time after the election ended for acts of violence to begin -  directed at women, people of color, religious and ethnic minorities and members of the LBGTQ community.  As are most of the people I know - regardless of political inclination - I am saddened to see just how deeply divided we are as a country,  and desperately wanted to do something, ANYTHING, to outwardly demonstrate my objection to this kind of behavior.  I am an ally, and I want everyone who is fearful to know that.

Photo credit: JenniferHeartsArt
Then I started to see the posts about safety pins.  It started in Britain, after the Brexit vote - so similar to our own election - which spurred violent outbreaks.  Over the past few days, it has come across the pond to America, people are wearing them, and the hashtag #safetypin has reappeared on social media. 

Some Austin artists have started making safety pin jewelry.  One is making safety pin necklaces, with the proceeds going to SafePlace, a non-profit organization that serves the survivors of abuse and neglect, sexual assault and exploitation, and domestic violence. Another is making small upcycled solidarity hearts to be worn on the pins.

Photo credit: BuzzFeed

It's a good thing, a small thing, you can do easily - BUT DON'T DO IT WITHOUT A PLAN.  Wearing a safety pin is not about making you - the wearer - feel better, it is about sending a visual message to someone being harassed or bullied that you are a safe person and willing to help them.

BuzzFeed has a great video based on this illustration - and this technique can be used when any type of harassment is taking place. If you witness this kind of behavior, you can report it to the Southern Poverty Law Center. SPLC is tracking hate crimes in the wake of the election.

Don't stop with a a safety pin, because it is a short term solution. Our national fabric is ripped in so many places - and mending will require vast amounts time, energy and standing up for each other. 

Until next time.

Monday, November 7, 2016

11.07.16 Shop Local: Lea Smith Designs

Halloween is over.  Merchants, if they haven't already, are pulling out the winter holiday decorations, and folks are starting to think about gift giving!  To be honest, I think about it pretty much all year - because I have two kiddos with December birthdays, and eight nights of Hanukkah for all three of them - so if I waited, just wouldn't be pretty.

Last year I wrote about the wonderful, creative people I have gotten to know and work with at Creative Side (follow the link and read about them again), and this year, I'd like to add my fellow CSJA member and frequent benchmate, Lea - of Lea Smith Designs.

Lea and I are at opposite ends of the "mom-ing" adventure, my kiddos are all out of the house, and hers are little - but her "leap" into jewelry is motivated by the same things that lead me to set up my consulting business nearly twenty years ago...she wanted more flexibility and control over her own time.   She started her business just two years ago, and between developing her "modern bohemian" designs and doing custom work, she's up and running - and following her dream.

I've already shared the story of the petrified palm earrings I bought from Lea, before she'd even finished them - but I'd like to tell you a little more about her - and give you the chance to shop for yourselves!

I love her work - she uses great stones, and has a real eye for putting together pieces that catch your attention without being overwhelming.  This one of a kind bracelet - which she calls "Modern Magic" is a wonderful example of how she mixes complementary stones - in this case labradorite and amazonite - together.   The look great with the Zebra feather earrings, too.

Lea also designs beautiful necklaces and pendants that can be dressed up or down.  Her necklaces, such as the Omicient (shown above) or the Ocean Bell, (shown below) can be layered or worn on their own.

This post is just a small sample of the great stuff that Lea has on her website - and I encourage you spend some time perusing all her work with your shopping list in hand.

Until next time - remember to shop local!

Monday, October 31, 2016

10.31.16 On my own with the clay...

When I started down this path of taking classes and making jewelry - the primary objective was to LEARN and make jewelry that I would want to wear.  The expansion in to creating gifts for family and friends, much less pieces for sale, was so far off on the horizon that I could never have imagined being here in just under two years.

I realized early on in my adventure in metalsmithing that this is a physical endeavor - and just being in a class, taking notes and creating one or two class projects is not enough to cement a technique (at least for me).  Between my 101 and 201 Fabrication classes, I made a point of getting to open studio almost every week to work on my skill - having more jewelry was just a happy byproduct.  Now that I've finished my second metal clay class - and have all of the nifty components to work with - I decided to spend some time doing just that.

My original vision for the small Texas charms was earrings - simple ones with a jump ring at the top of the panhandle.  However, the charms are so thin and delicate, that there is really no good way to attach the ring securely - so I'm going with Plan B - making Texas "Posey Pendants".

I started playing around with ideas similar to the pendant I made in class on my kitchen table, and then went back to the studio with a plan.

Back at the bench, I decided to make two more pendants with metal clay components.  Another "posey" pendant, and the Heart of Texas and got to work.

I went ahead and fused down two twisted wire frames, and decided to work on the Texas pendant first.  I had played around with leaves on either side of the stone, but decided to use small flowers instead.  For the posey pendant I used one of the "cinnamon roll" roses in the center, and put medium sized flowers and leaves around it.

I thought that I had everything fused down solidly - but lost a couple of granules along the way (they're so tiny - you'd think they'd be the easiest to fuse - but they are not) - so had to go back and reattach them - but overall, I was happy with my work.
I opted use lapis cabochons - rather than moonstones - to add some color, and because for the Texas one, I wanted to invoke the state flower - bluebonnets.

I'm certainly going to make more of these - they are fun - and still have a LOT of small metal clay components.  I haven't decided if I'll put them in the shop, or hang on to them to give as gifts...but I'm probably going to look for some other stones to add some variety to the finished pieces.

So watch this space for more adventures in metal clay (I'm hoping I can talk the Creative Side folks into some "open studio" type clay sessions, since I don't have the tools for this, either)...and be sure to check out Vickie Hallmark's beautiful work - her pieces inspire me to be a better jeweler.

Until next time.

Monday, October 17, 2016

10.24.16 Argentium, revisited

On Sunday morning, we returned to the studio to find all our clay pieces turned to silver (even if I know how it happened - it's still kind of magical).  Now it was time to start putting all those little shiny pieces together and MAKE SOMETHING!

After taking a week long argentium class with Ronda Coryell, and working almost exclusively with the metal for the past several months, my comfort level was much higher for the second day of class.

Like Ronda, Vickie really likes argentium for its ability to fuse, and its low tarnish properties.  Because argentium melts - or flows - at a lower temperature than fine silver, the two can be used together, and the argentium will flow to fill in and hold the metal clay pieces when they are placed on wire or sheet (and you add heat with a torch).

Vickie said the best part of working with the clay, is that once it is all fired you can "play around with the pieces" and the possibilities are almost endless.  I knew I had far more components that I could use in one day at the bench - so I focused on completing at least a couple of surprise...earrings.

I had made the little Erlenmeyer flasks with my daughter in mind - and I made two sets, because I figured that worst case (if I melted something), I'd at least get one pair of earrings for case, we'd both have a pair.

I started playing around with adding small jump rings and granules on and around the flasks to create "bubbles".  My final design included 3 sets of  bubbles for each flask - which would be fused down on to argentium sheet.

The process of fusing down all the parts was very much like making Ronda's granulation earrings (which I liked so much, that I did a one off in turquoise - and I've worn them all summer)

I've gotten pretty good at controlling the torch, and while working with the components made from metal clay is different from just fusing argentium, I was able to watch the metal and successfully build four earring charms - no melting!

I also wanted to create earrings from the Heart of Texas charms - but fusing - or even soldering - small jump rings to the Panhandle proved to be beyond rather than melt one of them, I just set them aside for the time being.  I'm sure I'll come up with a way to put them to good use.

After the earrings, I decided to work on a more complex project - a pendant - with several small metal clay components, not just one.  Again - the trick is managing the heat and getting the argentium and metal clay to fuse together.

Using two of the small flowers, and two leaves, I began building a floral pendant with a bezel set stone.  I was able to get back to the bench just a couple of days after the end of class and finish the pendant.

I made a jump ring out of twisted wire, to match the pendant, then followed Vickie's instructions for finishing. I used liver of sulfur to get the patina, then carefully removed it from the flowers, granules and the twisted wire with a fine silicone polishing tip.

I'm really pleased with the end result - and hope to incorporate metal clay embellishments into some of my work going forward.

Until next time.

10.17.16 Hallmark Greetings

Photo credit: Vickie Hallmark
I first encountered Vickie Hallmark, and her beautiful jewelry, in a wonderful Facebook group called Aspiring Metalsmiths - which describes itself as "a friendly and supportive place to talk metal, share business and technical advice, show off your work, and have fun."  I have found that to be completely the case!

Last March she posted a picture (on the group page) of these fabulous mountain laurel earrings, made with precious metal clay and argentium wire and sheet.  About that time, these bushes - with their deep purple flowers - were beginning bloom and to fill the air with their fragrance (which smells a lot like grape Kool Aid), a sure sign of the arrival of spring in Texas. 

As I am want to do, I sent her a message and said "are those for sale?".  She replied yes - and after a discussion about size (she's tall, and prefers longer earrings; I'm short and, well...) I bought the small pair, with lovely rose cut amethysts.

Fast forward 6 months, and I've had the opportunity to take a class with Vickie and learn how she combines fine silver metal clay and argentium in her fabulous creations.

She brought in two trays full of examples (it took more than a little willpower not to add to my ever expanding earring collection) - which were truly inspiring.

Vickie's jewelry is unique - she works in BOTH clay and argentium.  She forms small, detailed components from clay, then combines and layers them together before fusing them to argentium to make finished pieces. She spent a fair amount of time on the first morning talking about the properties of metal clay and demonstrating a variety of techniques for working with it.

At the bench - there was a detailed handout and a complete set of tools for both clay and metalwork.  As I always do, I took a photo of the bench set up  - because it's always helpful to be able to go back and reference the tools I used for a class.

I was glad for the review - because it had been over a year since I too my first metal clay class with Lorena Angulo. Turns out - I remembered more than I expected to (or maybe I am just more familiar with the whole jewelry making process) - but the result was that I felt much more confident working with the clay this time.

Vickie encouraged us to "make as many pieces and components as possible" so that we could use them both for creating pieces on the second day of class, and in our future projects.  In an effort to be a good student - and because I don't have the set up to work with metal clay outside the studio - I used up my entire 25 gram packet making Erlenmeyer flasks and Texas charms along with lots of tiny hearts and flowers!

At the end of the day, all of our clay pieces went into the kiln - to be fired at 1640F for two hours.  The firing burns away the organic binder and leaves behind solid, fine silver (99%) components.

Until next time...when I'll tell you how the pieces turned out - and all about the second day of class.

Monday, October 10, 2016

10.10.16 Shop Local: Dian Malouf Trunk Show at Russell Korman on October 14

I had so much fun doing the series of "Shop Local" blogs last year in advance of the holidays that I have decided to do them (at least some) again.  I know it SEEMS early - but - it's October people, and it's even cooling off a little bit here in Central Texas.   The first show on my radar is coming up this week - Dian Malouf at Russell Korman Jewelers from 10 am - 6 pm this Friday.

Photo courtesy of Dian Malouf
According to her bio, Dian Malouf began "looking for a large (really large) sterling silver and gold ring, she never found one. So she designed one for herself."  A woman after my own heart!  She is a 4th generation Texan who has been designing jewelry - and manufacturing it in the USA - for three decades.  Her website says that her jewelry is made "one piece at a time" (just like mine ;-) from silver, gold and precious stones.

Photo courtesy of Dian Malouf

This week she is bringing her gorgeous, sculptural jewelry to Russell Korman in Austin for a one day trunk show.  I love her use of stones with silver - and I am particularly partial to her heart shaped pieces - like the ones shown here with blue lace agate.

Photo courtesy of Dian Malouf

Her rings and bracelets are clearly designed for mixing, matching and stacking; and these mother of pearl bracelets can be customized with the beads of your choice.

While many of her pieces run into the hundreds of dollars, her "Go Girl" rings (which she regards perhaps her most rewarding personal experience) start at a very affordable $80.00.
Photo courtesy of Dian Malouf

These rings are designed to help women to "hang in there" regardless of circumstances. The "Go Girl" ring has raised thousands of dollars for breast cancer research, and has become a comfort to many breast cancer survivors and others who have hit a bump or two in the road of life.  Each ring also comes with a personal note from Dian.

So - if you are looking for jewelry that really makes a statement - for yourself, or as a gift - I encourage you to go visit my good friends at Russell Korman Jewelers and take advantage of this opportunity to shop for some wonderful, unique pieces.

Until next time.

Monday, October 3, 2016

10.03.16 She was organized to the end...

Here at my house we have a dark, and somewhat twisted sense of humor - I attribute that largely to the influence of my mother.  I also inherited her deep desire for order and organization.

My family likes to joke that when I leave them, my epitaph will read:

Beloved wife, mother, (and grandmother, I hope - if my children are reading this).
She was organized to the end.

Initially, I tried to argue and threatened to cut them off as my heirs if they did this - but on the advice of multiple lawyer friends, I've given up that fight.

So, you ask, why am I sharing this with you? Because honestly, they are right - and I really do embrace my penchant to have a place for everything, and everything in its place - and one of my wonderful blog readers asked about how I organize my jewelry.

Recently, Janet wrote -

I find myself looking forward to your blog posts. They're thoughtful and amusing. I usually learn something and come away with a smile on my face. This made my whole week!  She went on to ask some questions, so I'm going to answer them.

I have been wondering how you organize your earring collection? 
The short answer is with a label maker and lots of small ziploc bags.  Not just earrings, but every piece of jewelry has its own small bag.  Most of my earrings are in 2x2 clear bags, larger things like brooches, necklaces and bracelets are in bigger bags. 

I use my label maker to put the name or an abbreviation for the jeweler plus the item description on each piece, and I place a small tarnish protection square in with each item.
Photo credit:

A few things are in the original pouches from the jeweler - if they provide some protection from tarnishing, but I like the clear bags because it makes it very easy to find what I am looking for.

The bags and little squares can be purchased on Amazon, craft sites like Etsy, or at Rio Grande Jewelry supply.

What do you do when one of a pair of earrings breaks or gets lost?

It depends. Fortunately, I haven't lost too many earrings over the years. 

If it's something like a stone falling out of a setting, or snap bars no longer staying latched, and I like the earrings (and they have value - sentimental or monetary), I will take them to master jeweler Chuck Schaffer at Russell Korman and have them repaired.  Why don't I do it myself? Because I'm NOT an experienced jeweler, and if it's worth repairing, then it's worth having it done right.

If they aren't repair worthy, I might take the beads off of the wire or out of the setting they are in and toss them into my bead box and put the settings (if they are silver) into my recycling scrap.  I do the same thing with inexpensive chain - if the clasp fails, or a link breaks, I assess whether it is worth it to attempt to do the repair myself (I could put on a new clasp with a jump ring), cut the ends off and use the chain elsewhere, or scrap and recycle it.

For a lost earring, there's not a whole lot to do - unless perhaps you could convert the bead or dangle to a charm or pendant if you really like it.  In an effort not to end up with a single earrings, I tend to opt for screw backs on expensive things like diamond studs, leverbacks on gemstone dangles, and make use of lots of silicone nuts on my earwires. I particularly like these 5mm ones from Amazon.  It took me a long time to find them - and now I order them 100 at a time.

How do you part ways with earrings? I find that over the years there are earrings that suited me well, but then 5, 10, or 15 years later, they don't. Does that happen to you, and what do you do?

Honestly, it doesn't happen very often.  Take these glass Donald Duck earrings, for example.  My family went to Walt Disney World in 1978 and there was a person making lampwork beads that looked like all the Disney characters.  The last time I wore them was probably when my (now adult) children were in elementary school - but I keep them nonetheless because they hold fond memories.

Before I started doing metal work, I would go through periods of making beaded earrings - and after a while I just got tired of them - so I offered them up to my friends to make room for new things.

I posted pictures of the ones I no longer wanted on Facebook, and said first to claim them gets them - with only one requirement - the recipient had to post a selfie wearing the earrings.  It was quite a lot of fun - so much so that I did it a several times.  At this point, I don't have any more earrings I want to give away.

I've put a few truly "vintage" pairs up for auction on Etsy, and still others I've disassembled to reuse the beads or findings - especially if there was a really unique earwire.

Other than that - I really don't part with my jewelry.  I've handed off a few things to my daughter, but mostly, I just keep it - which means I've got 40+ years of accumulated baubles, each in their own little bag.  Even if I'm not wearing it, each piece holds memories and occasionally I find that after not wearing something for years, it's suddenly back in style, or just right for a new outfit.

Thanks for the great questions - I hope the answers are useful - or at least entertaining.  It means so much to know that you all are out there reading what I write.

Until next time.