Monday, October 30, 2017

10.30.17 Shameless Self Promotion

For quite a while - even before I was making them - I was posting my earrings of the day on Instagram with the hashtag #todaysearrings.  A few weeks ago I got the bright idea that if I had a similar pair of earrings - or other piece of jewelry - in my Etsy shop, I should post that, too.

Lo and behold - I woke up the next morning - and one of the pairs of fluorite earrings I'd posted the day before had sold!

One of the most amusing things about Etsy is that when you make a sale, the app notifies you with a "cha-ching" sound, like an old cash register.  Nothing like a little positive reinforcement to encourage me to keep posting pictures of what's for sale right next to what I'm wearing each day.

So, after two years of writing posts encouraging you to shop local - either in Austin, your own community, or online - this year I'm going plug my work.

I'm really excited about the upcoming holiday season - and would love if it if one of my pieces made it's way on to your gift list (either to give or receive)...and I'm really trying to have a few things at every price point. Choosing a piece of handmade jewelry (or other art) as a gift says "I care about you".

All of my rings and earrings are under $100.  Now, I know $100 can be a lot of money for some folks - and I understand that - but when you are buying handmade (from me or someone else) you are getting a one of a kind piece, and demonstrating that you value art and creativity.

Pendants are more expensive - starting at $125 - because the stones are larger, there's more silver in them, and they just require more time to create.

My sawing has become faster and cleaner over time, so there is less filing required to complete the backs - but each one is cut by hand (by me) and then I put the pieces together, set the stone and give it all a final polish.

It takes 4-5 hours from start to finish to make a single pendant, but it doesn't feel like work - and the final results make me really happy.

There's still time (although not a lot) for custom orders, if I have a stone in stock, or can get one from a lapidary vendor (I know and work with several who are fabulous).  If you have something special in mind - let's talk.

I want to have a well stocked shop for the holidays - so it's back to the bench.

Until next time.

Friday, October 13, 2017

10.16.17 A Thousand Flowers

Murrine frits (pieces)
Photo credit - TahitiNights on Etsy

The term millefiori means "a thousand flowers" - and describes a particular type of glass made in an ancient tradition.

Millefiori is created using murrine - canes of glass which show intricate patterns when they are cut through.  There is evidence of murrine use as far back as 4,000 years ago - and it has been incorporated into the work of Venetian glassmakers for over 500 years.

The pieces - called frit - can be combined in a number of ways to create either finished pieces (such as paperweights or other decorative glass), cabochons to be used in jewelery, or slabs - which can then be cut by a lapidary artist.

When I made my first Texas Wildflower pendant with a millefiori glass heart, I knew I was on to something...but I had no idea how wildly popular these pendants would be.

I've made several, and they've been flying off the bench - with people claiming them even before they are finished...which is fine with me (because I can't keep everything - and I have to pay for my materials somehow!). Eventually, I do hope to keep one.

However, because they are so popular, I have been going on regular Etsy scavenger hunts trying to find more glass. So far I've been successful - I currently have about a dozen hearts.

As I've said before - I would love to try my hand at glass work - and creating fused millefiori cabochons might be a good place to start.

In the mean time, I'm working with what I can find for sale.  Most recently, I sold three small hearts - all to the same customer - as part of my effort to help with the hurricane Harvey recovery in south Texas.

If you are interested in seeing how millefiori glass is created, take a look at this 5 minute video from "How It's Made".

Until next time.

Monday, October 2, 2017

10.02.17 The White Rose

Perhaps it was inevitable (given my 30 year career in and around government) that policy and politics would find their way into my jewelry blog - that has certainly been the case over the past few months.  Since January, the world has become a different place - and not (in my humble opinion) for the better. The events of this year have had an impact on me, my blog and my jewelry.

Pearl earrings - Rehoboth Art League
I've written about the importance of art in troubled times, the Women's March, and most recently Charlottesville. When I was finally able to return to the studio (after vacation then hurricane Harvey) it felt like therapy...and I decided that the first piece I made would be for me (in part because if I made mistakes because I was out of practice, it wouldn't matter).

I knew exactly which stone I wanted to use. I won a lovely piece of white Howlite in a raffle, and wanted to create a pendant that would go well with the earrings I bought while I was on vacation.
I started thinking about what to put on the back of the pendant, and decided that a rose bud template I hadn't used yet would be perfect. Not only did the design echo the earrings - but I could wear it as a way to remind myself of the importance of daily resistance in the face of hate and injustice.

You see, during Hilter's rise to power there was a group of student resisters who called themselves the "White Rose Movement". Although it certainly was not their original intent, they sacrificed their lives standing up for for the rights and dignity of others.

As a soldier on the eastern front, Hans Scholl had seen firsthand the mistreatment of Jews working as forced labor for German army, and heard of the deportation of others to concentration camps.

When he returned to Munich as a medical student Hans, along with his sister Sophie and fellow students Christoph Probst, Willi Graf, and Alexander Schmorell, founded the movement to speak out against the rise of the Nazi party.  The students secretly distributed leaflets that encouraged others to object to the war - but were turned in to the Gestapo by a member of the university community - and subsequently executed.

As Americans, we like to think (and say) "it could never happen here" - but in fact - it did, when more than 100,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated in camps during WWII...and it could happen again.  Proposals to ban Muslims or deport young people who were brought to this country as children sound just a little too much like rounding up people simply because they are different.

History can be ugly and painful - but it is also full of examples of individuals who chose not to look the other way, not to be silent, and to do these things as considerable personal risk.  These good people - ordinary people doing extraordinary things - walk among us every day.  I want to be one of them - and on the days when that is hard, I will wear this necklace.

Until next time.