Sunday 30 June 2013

Let's Eat Cake all dressed up & only one place to gooooooooo...

From this... nothing in 10 seconds flat.

Sliced strawberries marinated in a titch of sugar and lashings of organic lemon juice overnight in the fridge on top of and drowing -- lots of juice! -- 1/4 piece of Let's Eat Cake strawberry cake.

Thanks for drooling... I mean, looking!

Saturday 29 June 2013

Summer in a Jar: My Version of Strawberry Freezer Jam...

Scored honking huge SWEEEEEEEEEEEEEET strawberries again today at the market. These come from around Tilsonburg, courtesy of Adam the Apple Guy at the market. They are the best strawberries I've had in a long, long time -- and two weeks in a row, no less. We won't talk about the disappointing strawberries from three weeks ago. Ahem. Needed maybe a day or two more in the fields bagging some rays.

These beauties... I mean, look at the SIZE of them! You'd think they'd be dry, woody and tasteless and they are so not.

...became this... with a few put aside to marinate in a titch of sugar and lots of lemon juice in the fridge overnight, thence to slosh, slither and soak their way into the remains of Rene's cake tomorrow...

...ecco là: Summer in a Jar, once they've frozen and thawed.

That organic lemon juice is my secret weapon... I mean, ingredient. (I've been reading too many spy books -- check out Dana Haynes, btw -- holy patootie, the guy can write!) But I digress. Realemon juice is okay, but I find Santa Cruz to be way more lemony and worth the price.

It says on the pectin packet that this jam can be eaten right away. I find it far too gluey. After it's frozen and thawed, though, the gluiness (think cheap pie filling) disappears and the jammy flavour develops beautifully.

I am diabetic and this jam I can eat. After trying the various Certo types and other brands I tried the Club House brand that comes in a paper envelope. I use only 2 tablespoons of sugar in 4 cups of fruit, plus copious lashings of lemon juice (my improvement) and which is a whole lot better than the 1-1/2 to 2 cups the freezer jam recipe calls for -- which is waaaaay better than the SEVEN cups of sugar called for to make four cups of regular cooked jam. That's almost 2 cups of sugar per jar of jam -- versus my 1/2 tablespoon per jar of jam. Decreasing the amount of sugar so drastically does not affect any properties of the jam that I have discovered including fridge life (3 weeks -- if you can make it last that long).

For the past several years, as the summer progresses I've made black raspberry, rhubarb, strawberry, peach, wild blueberry, sour cherry, cranberry and seedless Concord grape jams (which makes wonderful jam and beats Welches all to hell) all with 2 - 3 tablespoons of sugar and lemon juice, even the super sour rhubarb, cherry and cranberry.

Thanks for looking!

Green Vintage Button Necklace & Kingman Turquoise Bracelets & More Market Necklaces...

Well, my green vintage button necklace was a hit. My customer was extremely pleased. She certainly looks happy!

My two new -- finally! -- Kingman turquoise nugget bracelets. The beauty of the large clasps is they hold the bracelet in place, i.e. if there is a focal bead, it will remain on top of your wrist where it can be seen.

My favourite of the two -- the bird is free to move, a bonus for fidgety people who like to play with things.

And a pile of necklaces, the front bits designed by Nancy, tweaked and finished by me and ready for sale.

Thanks for looking!

Thursday 27 June 2013

Deep green vintage button necklace...

I just spent most of the morning and afternoon on this "challenge" from one of my regular customers who is always testing me. She handed me a bag of 21 green vintage buttons and about 1-1/2 yards of twine and ordered me to, "Do something. I don't care what. Surprise me." In the end, I substituted a finer hemp cord and cut it a bit longer, except I didn't allow for having to trim the constantly fraying ends of the hemp so I could get them through the bead holes. Lost about 12 inches doing that.

I have to say, I'm not particularly a fan of button jewellery per se, but the shape/orientation got me thinking. I think what throws me is that buttons have two holes - and I am a fan of symmetry.

Here is what I spent about four hours on today, stringing, taking apart, restringing, taking apart, respacing and restringing...

21 buttons, hemp & seed beads, first idea... but ixnay on the all-matte black

When I thought I would have lots of beads, I thought about doubling them up,
still with the symmetry and bean -- I mean -- bead counting, but that twist is interesting

Because I'm limited to the length of hemp, and my customer is quite tall and slender, I decided to go to a single long strand that could be worn this way or doubled, but I saw I would have to space the beads out much more or I was going to run out of green buttons before the string ran out.

Beautiful colours, eh!?

Finished necklace

Pretty true colours, photo taken outside

Beaded loop closing around end button

The funny thing is, I when I sat down here to format the photos, I took a quick look at Pinterest -- and saw this at the top of the page:

Ifa priest's necklace "odigba ifa" from the Yoruba people of Nigeria

This is spectacular compared to my initial two-strand wimpy effort. But probably similar beads -- the coloured beads I've used are handmade, recycled glass beads, albeit from Indonesia, and the matte black filler beads are Czech 6/0 seed beads. Since my necklace is 60 inches long and I hadn't really cleared with my customer exactly how much she wanted to spend on the "extras", I had to play it safe and stick to a single strand of beads.

Thanks for looking!

Tuesday 25 June 2013

A Morning Visitor...

...a doe that had obviously taken a wrong turn and come upriver into town. Two properties up from us is the northern limit of river flood plain on this side of the river. There is floodplain/woodland lining the river to the south of us but houses abutting that all the way downriver maybe a mile or so until woodland/farmland starts and that pretty much goes all the way down to Brantford, the only town of any size that straddles the river on the way to Lake Erie. About five years ago, I was walking Max just upriver from here on the dike by the dam on New Year's Day and saw a bald eagle riding the thermals in the middle of the river at our height. It was an absolutely breathtaking sight. There's been a massive effort to clean up the Grand River and it's working as all kinds of wildlife are coming back, including nesting pairs of bald eagles along the river. It's a beautiful river to hike, bike or canoe along.

My landlady spotted her when she was out doing some gardening, and even after returning with the garden hose, the deer still stood there calmly watching her. Susan came down here to tell me, I took a look, I went back and got my stupidPhone (sickening, eh? But definitely very handy), took some pictures and through all the thumping back and forth across the wooden porch, our whispering and movement, dogs in the house barking, the doe stood motionless watching us and looking around. Then she began carefully picking her way up towards the road. We went around that way but couldn't see any sign of her. Our fear was that the doe might get up to the road, but there are steep stairs and/or high fieldstone banks topped with fences blocking access, at least here and next door.

Now back to the real business of the day -- Pinterest! NOOOOO, stop pinning other people's jewellery and start making your own!!! Um... first, more coffee.

Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday 22 June 2013

Riffing on pink & white & Tibetan crystal quartz...

Throw in a handful of amethyst and lavender Swarovski bicones, some zinc/silvertone/pewter spacers and glass seedbeads. Nancy came up with the first one -- note the magical assymetry that she is so good at.

No market would be complete without a complement of new skull, bone, horn and claw chokers to round out the morning and add to the table.

Thanks for looking!

Sunday 16 June 2013

Are jewellery sets becoming more popular?

My blue sponge coral necklace sold yesterday at the market after only two weeks out on the table. Whoo hoo! I'm so pleased. Now to make more.

The buyer asked if there was a matching bracelet, but all I had was an adjustable leather bracelet that included the smaller, carved agate bead. They were happy with that. They particularly commented on the large pewter heart clasps that I've used all all my necklaces.

Earlier in the morning I sold a summer-casual white pearl and dyed bright blue agate necklace to an older gentleman for his wife's birthday and we also spent several minutes looking through my earring racks for similar pearl earrings to make up a set. He was very definite about his wife's taste and mentioned that she loved jewellery -- I got the sense he'd bought a lot of it for her through the years. 

Have any of you been asked for sets, or at least similar earrings/bracelet/necklace to make up a set? Is this the new trend, or is it confined mostly to gifts, for greater effect?

It's raining all day today, a good day to be sitting here typing most of the day. It's the Grand River Bead Society meeting, garage sale and par-day tomorrow evening in Guelph -- maybe see some of you there! I'll be bringing turquoise and matte lapis, as well as destash items. I'll be handing in my application form for the GRBS bead show coming up on October 5th and 6th. Mark your calendars for that. It gets bigger and better every year with a variety of great vendors.  

Thanks for looking!

Thursday 13 June 2013

2 Aqua Terra/Impression Jasper Necklaces...

This is the fun part of making jewellery for me, how the same stones can look so very, very different, depending on a slight colour variation, cut and/or the addition of just one other colour.

(L) Deep blue aqua terra/impression jasper with brass & silver-coloured zinc/pewter beads
& a pewter fish clasp, 22", $59
(R) Bermuda blue aqua terra/impression jasper & crab fire agate beads with silver-coloured zinc/pewter beads
& a pewter fish clasp, 21", $49

Thanks for looking!

Wednesday 12 June 2013

Impression Jasper Necklace

A slow start today, but a start nonetheless... sunny today, too, after days of cold rain. The deck hidden below the ferns beckons... cappuccino and new library book are singing their siren song.

Does anyone get as confused by the names of stones as I do? I'm currently working on a necklace and it seems like the same bead, depending on who you buy from, has a different name -- aqua terra jasper, impression jasper, imperial jasper. Besides being a gorgeous blue colour conjuring visions of tiny islets lost in impossibly blue seas, they look the same to me.

Impression/aqua terra/imperial jasper slabs & beads, crab fire agate beads, Tibetan-style zinc beads,
awaiting a pewter clasp... photographed on top of one of my many bins of zinc/pewter/silver beads. Love these!

Making necklaces this morning with a view
Rounds from the large and varied selection available at Nelson Gemstones. Can't remember where I got the slabs from.

Thanks for looking!

Friday 7 June 2013

Ethnic/Tribal-Inspired Necklaces...

I'm finally on a roll. There's been no typing for the past few days -- I don't know whether that's good or bad, but it's only the beginning of the month, so maybe I'm entitled to a few days off -- and I've been making necklaces. It's also been raining and cold out so no reason to set foot outside for days here. I have the new store that I hope will take some of these styles, as well as a few other venues I have in mind for which I need to make stock to take in to see if they're interested. Earrings to follow.

Apologies that the pictures are a little out of focus: my camera batteries died so I had to use my cell phone. 

Three days' production... Yay for rain days

Matte black agate saucer beads, zinc & silver-plated Tibetan-style beads, brass spacers strung on
adjustable black Greek leather

Yellow and pinky-orange matte seedbead necklaces with assorted silver-plated and Tibetan-style zinc beads, both necklaces have blue sponge coral beads, the yellow necklace includes aquaterra and brass beads

Matte blue-green seed beads with Tibetan-style zinc beads.
I'm looking at this now and thinking it would look better with a few brass beads. Next iteration. Funny how you see all the mistakes/what-ifs when you take a picture.

My favourite. Matte blue seedbeads (not quite as bright blue as they appear here) zinc and pewter beads. Beautiful pewter bird beads look like they're sitting on nests.

Large Kingman turquoise chip necklace with aquaterra beads and Tibetan-style zinc/silver-plated beads
Large Kingman chip necklace with white seedbeads

Small Kingman chip necklace with matte black glass bugle/tube beads
Amethyst rounds & peridot chips, white clear matte seedbeads, Tibetan-style zinc/silver-plated beads,
pewter heart clasp

Thanks for looking!

Wednesday 5 June 2013

Blue Sponge Coral & Tibetan agate necklace...

I've been wanting to use these blue sponge coral beads for the longest time. I have no idea if they're natural or dyed, although my bet would be that they are dyed. The colour looks a little too even across all the beads on each string, but it's such a pretty blue.

The spotty beads and carved tube beads are agate and the focal bead is dyed agate. The necklace includes copious Tibetan-style zinc and pewter beads and a large pewter clasp for easy on/off. It's about 22" in length. Price is $45, shipping extra. Email me for availability or to discuss a custom design.

Thanks for looking!

Sunday 2 June 2013

New chokers from Saturday's market...

It was busy at the market yesterday. I do need to get outside and take some pictures of how pretty it looks first thing in the morning with the mountains of fruit and vegetables, flowers and bedding plants, honey and baked goods -- and eggs. Lots and lots of eggs.

These are the items I made while at my table. Three of the large howlite skull pendants I posted yesterday sold! One guy picked one up and said to his friend, "It looks like bubble-gum!" I guess he meant jawbreakers. They do, too.

Bat-winged skull pendant with gunmetal noodle spacers, zinc beads, on 1.5mm black Greek leather, sold. This is the first time I've used the gunmetal noodles -- I think they are very effective. I'll be doing variations on those next Saturday for my customer. They'll look stunning with the copper bicones below.
Black bone claw with African Fair Trade pure copper bicones, black matte glass bugle beads, black Greek leather choker, out on approval.

Black Greek leather chokers with side-drilled howlite skulls and zinc spacers; some have sold, anything with pink still available. I used up every single one of these side-drilled skulls that I bought at the bead show last Sunday. Now I wish I'd bought more!

Side-drilled dyed howlite skull rainbow chakra, black Greek leather choker.
Now that I look at it, I think the purple bead has to go at the other end. I'll fix it next Saturday.
 Lovely breezy day here in the treetops, although clouds have moved in. Sure hope the high heat and even higher humidity has gone away for a while. Have a beautiful and leisurely Sunday. Me? I'll be sitting inside here typing all afternoon. Thanks for looking!