Friday 28 December 2012

Documenting creativity...

...and the lack thereof on my part. Since I am in a profound creative slump at the moment with only one picture to post here (due largely in part to two and a half days spent watching seasons four and five of Madmen back to back) I thought I'd send you over to check out Joanne Nelson's step-by-step documentation of creative decision-making in action while creating her mother's birthday gift, a garnet and citrine necklace. It does NOT come easily or quickly.

While you're there, stock up on some great beads! Valentine's Day and Mother's Day are both lurking just around the corner, then there will be all the spring and summer craft shows -- and in six months the smart people will be well into their Christmas 2013 production lines.

Maybe gold wire is the key to some of my own design dilemmas. Maybe turning off the teebeeeeee and the computer would be even more key, d'ya think?

This is all I managed to accomplish this Christmas:

And there they languish still this morning... If I could just figure out where I hid my earwires. Lynn is coming today to help me clean up and organise some more. She'll find 'em!

Yep, those are real emeralds underneath the pliers. When I saw these at The Bead Boutique in Kitchener, I pounced. They along with blue topaz and blue sapphire will become part of my series of birthstone earrings. Funny, it was drilled emeralds that I thought would be the stone most difficult to find. Stay tuned...

Thanks for looking!

Sunday 16 December 2012

Silly snowman earrings...

For the past four years, I'd make Christmas-themed earrings and they'd just sit there. Occasionally through the year someone might buy a pair. This year for the first time I got several inquiries if I had any Christmas earrings? No... But then during the week I'd make a few pair. This year for some reason I sold several pairs almost as soon as I put them out, but usually before I photographed them.

Here are three of the four snowperson earrings I made. I guess I should have started earlier this year.

Made with white jadeite rounds that I got from Nelson Gemstones, and which actually look kind of snowbally -- they have a bit of a granular solidity/translucency to them, Swarovski rondelles and matte jet heishi top hats; Bali silver daisy spacer "toes" to keep the head pins from sliding through the rounds, and finished with sterling earwires.

People really love the different semi-precious earrings with the Bali daisy spacers (those are hawk's eye up there beside the snowpersons) and I've sold several pairs already. I'm on the hunt now for a complete selection of 6mm and/or 8mm birthstone rounds.

The market was really good yesterday. I usually do better after Christmas, when people have their Christmas gift money to buy exactly what they want, so this was a most pleasant surprise. Given that I have such a broad range of items, I'm always fascinated by what people choose and why and for whom.

One more Saturday to go, and I hope it's good for all of us! What constitutes a successful show or market is vastly different for everyone, but I'm very pleased how this Christmas selling season has gone for me. How have your Christmas shows and markets been this season? Do you think this presages good sales in the spring and summer of 2013?

Thanks for looking.

Friday 14 December 2012

Little detour, big earrings...

I got distracted when I was halfway through making something or other (happens to me ALL the time), had a blinding flash and made these earrings. Found the handmade sterling, turquoise and copper bead earwires in my market office box which I had taken off another pair of earrings to lessen the price who knows how long ago. But they work perfectly here. Nice little pure copper dangles on the headpins... or maybe these would be called dangle pins.

This second photo is pretty close in colour to the Kingman turquoise:

I've finally found a good spot to rig up my ring mandrel. I'd had it C-clamped to my big plastic folding table, but was forever impaling myself getting up or sitting down, not to mention the mandrel was always breaking free of the clamp, nor did I really have room to wrap the wire as the clamp was at a forward angle along the front of the table instead of -- drum roll, please -- along the other edge of the table. Sigh... this has only taken me six months to figure out.

I guess I could actually move the mandrel forward, too. I'll see how it goes on the first ring. The grey mark on the paper sleeve has size 10 marked on it -- the size I mainly work around when making guy rings. For those who've never tried making rings, it's wire-wrapping around the ring itself that makes the ring smaller. You don't want to try to make a ring the exact size you need right off the bat. Make it a bit smaller than you need -- because if it ends up larger than you want, you can't make it smaller. Then use a hide mallet on the steel mandrel with the ring sizes on it to gently bash the ring down the mandrel to get the exact size you need.

While poking around looking for those Kingman rondelles, I found my copper clasps and pewter birds that I've been looking for all week in the first two places I looked just now. I guess that's the secret to finding lost things if retracing your steps doesn't work: look for something entirely different.

Okay -- now to make some rings, and then... clean up? Pack up? Go to bed early for once? 3:30 a.m. will come faster than fast. Eyes crossed it's a good market tomorrow!

Thanks for looking.

10 pairs of earrings almost complete & many short beaded chains later

I've been spending waaaaay too much time on Pinterest and obsessively, mindlessly, longingly (WHY???), clicking on pictures of pristine studios with beautiful storage and display features. Who can possibly create in these zen oases of calm and emptiness, let alone find anything once it's put away? Not meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee...

The worst thing is I'm running out of the things to MAKE stuff with, like earwires and whatnot,
no time to make them and less time to order any.
Along the bottom, kyanite, lapis, Kingman turquoise & quartz chains; white jadeite, melon-cut quartz, hawk's eye, kyanite, black tourmaline, garnet, high cut amethyst, high cut citrine & amethyst earrings,
all with Bali silver spacers and awaiting sterling earwires to finish them off.
Every flat or near flat surface eventually will be piled high with something...
...eventually with Max
Et voila
This must get cleaned up SOON...
Lynn, my organising genius pal, is coming on Monday... But for now, back to work to finish off the earrings and putting some necklaces together with my new beaded chains. Right now -- at 1:56 p.m., eleven days and two Saturday markets before Christmas -- I am about where I wanted to be in September.

Thanks for looking!

Sunday 9 December 2012

High cut citrine & amethyst earrings & large cube Swarovski earrings

I've been typing like a mad fiend for the past two weeks. It's been so busy I couldn't get to Toronto as I had hoped, but was able to make a last-minute order to my supplier to bring in emergency supplies of Bali daisy spacers, odd stones and Swarovskis... because a customer asked me last week to make her some plain large cube crystal Swarovski earrings which she'd seen on someone who she said was casually and neutrally dressed, but these large square earrings she was wearing upped the style ante unbelievably. I happened to have some AB crystal cubes handy that I showed her, but she said it was the clear crystal that was so stunning.

This is what I came up with. I never would have thought these would work but I have to say I am impressed. The fire and spark is unbelievable. I am only barely capturing the effect in these photos.

Photo taken square on
Photo taken from an angle -- the way the cubes are oriented to the earwires if you're wearing them

The reason why I included the two top photos is notice how they're angled. If you set them square to the earwire, then that's all you get: what looks like a cube of glass. But if you angle them so the front corner is aligned with the front of the earwire, then you'll have maximum sparkle. I point this out because I'm an old-school draftsperson. I like verticals and horizontals and things to line up; diagonals tend to bug me.

I wish I'd ordered more packages of these, but I didn't... next time!

I've also been getting a lot of requests for anything amethyst or citrine, so I ordered a half-string each of high cut citrines and amethysts. This is the first time I've come across this designation. I think "high cut" refers to twice the price for half the number of stones... No? It doesn't? Well, expensive (to me) or not, these are equally strikingly beautiful while having distinctively different personalities. Not to mention, being able to buy half-strings of more expensive stones is a relatively painless investment to make in order to move one's jewellery into the higher end, especially in gift-giving season.

The amethysts are a deep purple, facetted into a kind of soft rectangle-y-squarish/cube-ish shape, the stones are clear and you can see the colour ebbing and flowing, deepening and intensifying in places -- I hope this is an indication that these are not heat-treated or dyed amethysts. The colour is gorgeous, deep and velvety purple.

The citrines have been cut with random angular faceting, so I've had to go through the string to try and match up the pairs -- again, though, with beautiful colour. When you rotate them in the light, they flash iridescence along the internal planes. I've never ever seen anything like this. Please, someone tell me these are real and not treated or dyed!

The same lighting, but taken at a different angle from the following two photos

As always, these are for sale, but email me first for price and availability; postage and shipping extra.

Thanks for looking!

Friday 30 November 2012

Bead Corner & 12 Semi-Precious & Bali Silver Earrings for Christmas

A little progress on cleaning up around here -- several boxes have been filled to go off to the consignment store, and several more to the thrift store... and a bag thrown out. I got the second baker's shelf cleared off and moved to the front room. It's now almost full -- but I present it here in its pristine state...

Yet again, the large table in this room and the kitchen table were almost completely cleared off, and yet again just four days later they are both a foot deep in stuff. We don't want to look at that. Trust me.

On a more positive and/or productive front, I did get one dozen assorted semi-precious and Bali silver earrings made and boxed up... whereupon I promptly ran out of the most important component to these earrings -- the Bali daisy spacers. I hope I can get to Toronto this week, otherwise it will be another mail order... which actually might not be a bad idea. Then I'd have them by Wednesday, Thursday for sure -- and I wouldn't have to get out of my pyjamas. What on earth did we do before the Internet?

Chalcedony, Freshwater Pearl, Citrine, Citrine, Garnet
Enhanced Peruvian Opal, Lepidolite, White Jadeite, Black Tourmaline, Tiger Eye
Enhanced Peruvian Opal, Lepidolite, White Jadeite
Citrine, Citrine, Garnet
Tomorrow is December 1st. Yikes. Four more market days until Christmas. Thanks again to Joanne at Nelson Jewelry & Gemstones for her wonderful beads. Most of these came from her selection. She's got an eBay store now, too. Check it out

Thanks for looking!

Monday 19 November 2012

Designing Men's Adjustable Leather Chokers & New Beads from the London Gem & Mineral Show

This is what I put together on Saturday at the market... again, variations on a theme which is my only way of determining which combinations of beads look better or more interesting together. I make as many as I can and the client then chooses the ones he likes. The rest go on the table. These may look fairly simple, but I am constrained by my client's budget as well as the fact that few beads come with large holes and I have to keep these masculine-looking, so matte beads work better, no facetting, darker beads, more handmade style findings, etc. Doing frilly/girly/fancy is easy. But masculine? Uh... no. Now that I've done all the cliches (arrowheads, skulls, that type of thing) plus umpteen variations on those, it's become harder and harder to come up with new ideas.

The three silver-plated pendants here were supplied by my client. They are finely crafted and tiny, so I needed beads that wouldn't overpower them. I lovelovelove the look of the copper tubing with the tiny Tibet-styled pewter beads. My problem is remembering where on earth I bought the copper tubing -- and why oh why didn't I buy more!?!?!? Using multiple jump rings together is also another of this client's favourite looks, especially when they start to darken and tarnish.

This is just one small part of my new stash acquired from the London Gem & Mineral Show held at the fairgrounds in London, Ontario, this past weekend. (I say "part of" because my stooopid camera batteries are being recharged as I write this.) I went with my pal Nancy, and we both had such a good time there talking with vendors. Learned a lot. Nancy found almost all the crystals on her list -- she was super-pleased with the prices and selection, and picked up cards to email dealers with her wish list -- and I got some new stones and pendants for the market.

The next local gem & mineral show is in Paris, Ontario, at the end of March/beginning of April, but there are also gem & mineral shows in and around Toronto over the next little while. For the most part, rock & mineral shows are all-age and interest but especially kid-friendly venues with lots of interesting stones and dinosaur bones to pore over, as well as kid-centric events -- stuff for them to do versus "don't touch!" and "stop grabbing!"

Also, don't forget, The Gem Expo is on for three days over this coming weekend in Toronto at the Hyatt Regency in Toronto, so November 23th, 24th and 25th. I'm going to try to go on Sunday if anyone wants to carpool -- anyone from the Woodstock/Brantford area or Kitchener/Guelph, meet up at Clappison's Corners and drive in together? Email me if interested.

More pix coming later today. Thanks for looking!

Friday 16 November 2012

Bali Silver Butterfly Earrings...

These Bali silver butterflies are exquisite. I wish I'd bought more. Here is the first pair, made with 2.5mm and 4mm Swarovski bicones, and sterling wires. Nothing fancy about these, but they are beautiful -- they quiver suspended from the earwires. I think whoever buys these will be very, very happy. $45, email me for shipping -- and availability!

Now to go away and make two more pair for the market tomorrow. Thanks for looking!

Kingman Turquoise & 3D Moonshell Birds Necklace

FINALLY I have some free hours to spend making jewellery. I was up at 4:00 a.m. to finish typing and proofing a job and handed it in at 9:04. Done and goneroonies. Such a relief. Whew! It's been months since I've been in this situation and not immediately heading for horizontal.

I've started playing with my big batch of Kingman turquoise mini-mini nuggets. These are tiny, tumbled, soft-edged and bluuuuue. These particular strings are $10 each. Grab 'em before I use them all up!

Here is the first necklace I was playing with this afternoon, adding three carved moonshell birds along the one side. The necklace is about 23" long, with a silver-plated lobster clasp and findings. $35, email me for availability or to customise with other fetishes. I can also remake it with sterling or pewter clasps and findings. Stay tuned for more variations on this. 


Don't forget! The big London Gem & Mineral Show in London, Ontario, is happening this weekend at the London Fairgrounds, 9-5 Saturday, November 17th, and 10-5 Sunday, November 18th. I'll be leaving here around 8:45 a.m. on Sunday if anyone lives between Paris and London along Highway 2 wants a ride.

Now back to my increasingly messy kitchen table heaped with beads to make more good stuff (see it all at the Woodstock Farmer's Market tomorrow morning), and thanks for looking!

Friday 9 November 2012

Coming up with a classic &/or signature design

I've been making jewellery now for almost six years and I think it's this weekend that will be my fifth anniversary selling at the Woodstock Farmer's Market. Without consciously directing myself (if for no other reason that I had/still have no clue what I was/am doing) I've come to some realisations about jewellery, one of which is the need to come up with one or more classic, easily replicable best-sellers, rather than constantly trying to reinvent the wheel. Yes, there is a place for completly original, one-off designs, but ya gotta think bread and butter.

For me my first classic design and five years of bread and butter were and still are my pure silver Precious Metal Clay lily of the valley earrings made with either Swarovski crystals or pearls, of which I figure I've sold over 100 pair to date. That's a whole lot of teensy-tiny flowers that I've made.

There have been minor variations and tweaks along the way: I've experimented with coloured Swarovskis, which some people love and some people want nothing to do with. Mostly, people prefer crystal AB Swarovskis, but the earring versions with pearls have sold well. I've tried various combinations of Swarovski crystal shapes and sizes, and either made or used store-bought sterling earwires.

What sparked this particular blog entry today was reading my online pal Lisa's blog today about how her herringbone weave copper earrings came to be. Go check out Lisa Yang's classic design. Her Etsy shop is Nota Mona.

Shameless plug: I sell these pure silver lilies of the valley by the each or in bags of 2, 5 or 7 or larger quantities. Please email me for prices/availability. I also make and sell Solomon's Seal flowers in three sizes as finished jewellery or by the each. For a further description of how the flowers are made, go poke around on my website.

What's your classic? How did it (or they) evolve?

Thanks for looking!

PS to Joanne: Note the dog hair, just for you! I can't believe it. The hair made it through editing the photo and I didn't see it until just now.

Tuesday 6 November 2012

More Cleaning Up, Organisation & Storage -- & LAPIS!

Lynn McLean came again yesterday morning to organise me and help me with cleaning. I should have taken before shots, but oooooh, boy, nasty. The kitchen table was piled a foot deep with the detritus of pricing and restringing beads for the show -- gee, a week and a half ago. I was and still am typing like a mad fiend since and hadn't touched the table. Here are pictures of my (temporarily, I assure you) tidier place.

Yeah, yeah, a plug for Royal Canin -- Max developed massive hair loss all over his back and sides in an extremely bizarre pattern in the spring, and instead of plunking down several hundred more dollars for a second round of blood tests, the vet suggested changing his food first. Now, I had noticed that my previous dog food company had changed their bag designs, deleting the particular dog food version entirely that I had been buying and feeding Max with no problems for, oh, ten years maybe? After the bag change, he started losing his hair. Maybe they also changed the formulation, d'ya think? I shudder to think where the ingredients came from and I wonder if Max was the only one to suffer this type of hair loss. In the meantime, I had had him shaved for the summer so it was very easy to see that within a few weeks of starting him on the Royal Canin his hair was starting to grow in and now there is only one tiny half-baldish spot remaining. I am amazed.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, my almost pristine table at 5:42 a.m. this morning...

Doesn't take long, does it? 8:15 a.m. after photographing lapis beads...

My somewhat cleaned up bedroom. No before picture. It was grotty to the Max... Poor Max, gets blamed for everything. Silly I guess to have a white duvet with a mostly black dog living in the country, no paving, just mud as far as the eye can see. The little staircase I'd bought at a flea market, and were stairs for the owner's late dog to get up onto their bed. Alas, Max is too gimped up for them, so I keep my mattress on the floor and now the stairs make for even better bedside storage, far more useful than the table I had there previously.

Now we're back to normal. This table had been almost completely clear about three weeks ago.

But this is still pretty tidy and working well for me. Note there are ever-more bins...

Oh, all right, just a couple of lapis pictures. This is pretty much the true colour of all the lapis here in this first picture. As with my turquoise pictures, I'm finding it almost impossible to get the blue right. It is a true dark ultramarine with plenty of pyrite.

And Max again, just 'cause he's so beautiful...

Thanks for looking!

Thursday 1 November 2012

Cake Jewellery for Let's Eat Cake

I finally took pictures today of some of the cake jewellery in situ - on top of the cakes -- which I have been making for Rene Hoelscher, owner of Let's Eat Cake in Woodstock, Ontario.

We think these skulls are soooo cool!

People are now buying the cake jewellery "stems" individually to put in with their flower bouquets. For this purpose, we will be happy to provide the stems in any length with pretty much any colour of glass, semi-precious stone or metal bead or Swarovski crystal -- just let us know -- but they're usually made with Swarovskis. We usually use silver-plated wire or copper wire; sterling silver is also available. Various stem colours and styles are always available at the bakery individually or in 3- or 5-packs so you can spark up your own dinner party dessert, and shorter cupcake picks are now available, as well. Wash and dry them well, store in an airtight plastic bag and they'll last a long, long time.

We have a bazillion ideas for formal cakes, themed and classic wedding cakes, birthday cakes for all ages... come and talk to us! Order your custom cake jewellery through Rene.

Thanks for looking!