Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Keep Your Eyes Open...

When one door of happiness closes another opens,
but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which is opened before us.
~Helen Keller

Monday, March 30, 2009

Photographing Jewelry Outside

Wow...I don't think there is a better argument for taking pictures outside, in natural light!

The color and detail are so obvious in this photo and would never have been so true inside...even with my light box.

Now that the weather should be getting better - grab some props, your camera and your creations and head outside.

It can make taking clear, detailed jewelry photos so much easier...especially with natural stones that might show reflections of artificial lights.

I know...lugging your stuff can be a pain...so plan to do several pieces in each shoot.

I am no photo expert but try not to photograph in direct sunlight...a sunny day with a little shade is great...and always use a tripod.

Happy Spring!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Brought Back To Life

Salvaged from an extremely "dated" piece of jewelry...

This pretty, hand made glass sculpture was given new life.

There was something so ethereal about this piece when I found it...it reminded me of the ocean and I knew I needed to rescue it!

I held on to it for a while...not really sure what I wanted to do with it.
Then I found these iridescent beads and that was it.

I knew I wanted to keep it simple and not distract from the beauty of the pendant. I think these beads did the job perfectly. They highlight the colors and have the same watery feeling. They are delicate without being to flimsy looking for the weight of the pendant.

It brings me joy to have been able to give new life to the wonderful artwork of a fellow artist!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Your Outlook...

There are only two ways to live your life.
One is as though nothing is a miracle.
The other is as if everything is.

~Albert Einstein

Friday, March 27, 2009

Ethnic "Tornado" Earrings

I have had these small sterling silver and amethyst charms for a long time.

I purchased them online with other items and just wasn't inspired when I actually got them. The were pretty but much smaller than I thought they would be and consequently have been sitting in one of my drawers since.

Then, while I was playing around with some wire I made these little "egg-nests" in gold and silver...a ha! I had an idea...I covered the traditional and uninspiring loop on top of the little charms with the tornado of multi-colored wire and bingo...delicate, interesting...current hand made earrings!

I finished the look with hand made sterling silver ear wires.

I really enjoy mixing things up...industrial with delicate...vintage with sleek...ethnic with machine-made, etc...

As I have said before, I am inspired by real life...and in real life stuff is mixed! That is definitely part of my artistic style.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Happy Photo Accident!

Sometimes I find photographing simple pieces really difficult.

I think when there aren't a lot of details the clean design can get lost in a photo.

This is the perfect example of that...

I had the hardest time photographing this collection...necklaces, bracelets and earrings featuring skinny leather lacing with Swaorvski Crystal accents...but then this picture happened and I saw things in a new light.

I think the way the necklace is laying looks like a heart...which was a complete accident.
I like the shadow showing too...I think it makes it look a little graphic.

This showed me that in a photo, the simple shape of the piece can be visually pleasing and that might be enough.

I have been having fun learning about photographing jewelry...this was just another of many lessons!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Useful Studio Tool - Button Storage

I often use buttons for creating textures in my PMC designs but I was so tired of hunting for the right button as they laid face down on my desk or tossed in a bin...especially when I would be in the middle of working - trying not to have the PMC dry out.

Then...inspired by Styrofoam packaging for electronics, I devised a workable solution.

I purchased a shallow, clear, hinged-topped box and cut a piece of Styrofoam to fit snugly inside. With the back of a paintbrush I made indentations at regular intervals...like little wells for the button shanks. With buttons in many shapes and sizes, figuring out the right spacing was a little tricky and my first attempt was hidden by turning the piece of Styrofoam over in the container and trying again!

The covered box keeps the buttons dust free - but as I have said many times before...for me, with my tools and supplies, out of sight, out of mind...so that is why I chose a clear box.

The buttons lay face up...unless I knock the box over...which I have done.

I find that knowing what I have allows for creative freedom...and helps me not to purchase duplicate supplies!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Don't Forget About Yourself...

You yourself,
as much as anybody in the entire universe,
deserve your love and affection.

- Buddha

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Loving Gift - A Crafty Husband

After rummaging through one of my drawers filled with vintage pendants, my husband selected this gold toned Pisces pendant as the inspiration for a special surprise treat for me!
He said he had been watching me make jewelry and picked materials that he thought I would like. He was so proud of using the crimp beads correctly! (no easy task for a novice)
It was a wonderful surprise...the most thoughtful gesture.I love wearing it. It reminds me of how much I am loved by him and what a wonderful man he is.
Regardless of the sentimental value it is actually a very pretty creation and I get lots of complements when I wear it. He might have a new career option when he returns from Afghanistan!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Feel Free to Play With This Wire!

I really wanted to play with wire but was intimidated by the high cost of sterling or gold filled wire.

Sometimes, to me, costly materials can kill creative freedom.

At a jewelry show I stumbled on a company called Para Wire. They had a huge display of shiny, colorful wires in a variety of gauges. Their wire is coated, tarnish-free, plated and is so much fun to use.

Because of the lower cost their is no pressure when using a lot of wire or making mistakes...I felt free to experiment. It also helped with the final cost of my jewelry creations when I was able to incorporate it in my designs.

It is available in the traditional finishes as well as an array of beautiful, bright colors. The wire can be worked like regular wire...hammered, bent, formed, etc...which was great for making hand made hooks and clasps.

I don't have their contact information right now but I am sure if you google the name you will find a supplier.
Have fun experimenting!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Be Yourself...

To be yourself -in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you like everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight,
and never stop fighting.

~E.E. Cummings

Friday, March 20, 2009

Happy Spring!

Today Spring begins...

and it is everywhere.

I am feeling so inspired by all of the beautiful colors and patterns in the stores right now.
Maybe a trip to your local mall might spark some color combinations or styles for your upcoming creations.

While I do find a lot of inspiration in nature, I also find inspiration in other peoples designs.
Shopping to see what's out there helps keep me current and might even make me think of designs I might not have thought of on my own!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Useful Studio Tools - No More Loose Threads!

Fibers, cords, exotic yarns and pretty ribbons make excellent jewelry embellishments!
...ok, but what do you do about finishing the ends?
Of course they sell lots of findings for that purpose but there might be times when you don't want to introduce another element into your design...or add to your materials cost.
That is where "Fray Check" comes in.
It can be purchased at most fabric shops and even at art stores in the sewing notions department. It only costs a few dollars which is helpful in keeping the cost of your creations down.
I love this stuff!
It has a thin nozzle and you just run a bead of the liquid along the cut edge you want to finish. I usually place something underneath to protect my table surface...you can use a scrap of tin foil, plastic wrap, etc...but be careful using paper as it can stick. The liquid seeps trough the fibers, dries clear and seals the ends.
Let it dry and then if necessary you can clean up any loose treads with a simple snip!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

An Inspiring Read...

This special little book fell into my hands in an odd way.

It was included in a gift basket I won at the silent auction fundraiser for my son's school last year.

At the time, feeling a little stuck creatively, the title intrigued me.
I am not a big reader but I couldn't put the book down!

I highly recommend it for anyone that just wants to get closer to being their true authentic self...and that might not be happy with the course their life is on right now.

Perfect for a winter day stuck in the house...or in a few months...for the beach!

Monday, March 16, 2009


...and then the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

~Anais Nin

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Visual Thinking...A Useful Studio Tool

I keep a small spiral bound notebook on my jewelry table...

but the funny thing is, I often forget it's there.
Then I go to look for a scrap of paper to make a note or sketch something and I have to hunt.

For me...out of sight is out of mind...with "things". I am not sure why but if it isn't right in front of me I can completely forget about it.

I know a notebook is a great tool...and when I do remember it's there I LOVE using it...but if I keep it tucked in with just the spiral binding showing...I will forget!

Not really sure what the solution is...as I can't leave everything flat on the table in front of me.

I guess maybe it's a tool that I will have to get use to using...if I remember!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Earth Shell Necklace

I like mixing natural and synthetic elements...

I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with this large shell pendant. It is bold and needed something that could support the scale without overpowering it.

I knew I didn't want it to be all natural and obvious...but then I found these vintage, faceted, slate colored, plastic beads and it hit me.They look old and a little worn...like maybe they were discovered in some sunken treasure and the color was perfect.

They had an interesting shape and the translucent quality gave them depth.I thought they were big enough to work with the pendant but still looked light and airy.

A nice frame to highlight a natural work of art.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Beauty of Nature

A great source of inspiration...

I think Mother Nature is the most fantastic artist!

Turning to nature is a great way to gain inspiration for color combinations, shapes, textures, patterns, etc...not to mention the actual raw materials that you can incorporate into your creations.

I think there are no mistakes in art...as in nature.

The next time you feel blocked creatively, maybe looking at a beautiful landscape, a colorful flower or a sparkly stone will help you get past it effortlessly.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Playing With PMC - A First Try!

When I first learned how to use PMC (Precious Metal Clay) I was obsessed!

I had the best time exploring and experimenting...trying new techniques.
It was a lot of fun and very rewarding creatively.

PMC opened a whole new world of jewelry making to me.
I could created a piece of art in a precious metal with very few tools, in a short period of time...great when you are someone who needs instant gratification!

Above are some of my first PMC creations.

A little rough - but still an expression of "me".

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Good Thing to Remember...

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”
- Anne Bradstreet

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Jewelry Photo Props - Natural Materials

Natural materials can make wonderful backgrounds for your jewelry photos and the great part is they are usually readily available and free or very inexpensive.
Look in your yard and see what you can find...
stones to lay small items on or to act as riser when stacked,
twigs to suspend earrings from,
dried leaves to lay a necklace on.
Use your imagination and take inspiration from other jewelry artists.
You can also check your local art and craft shop or import store for more exotic options that might not be found where you live.
The picture above is of a bouquet of dried decorator items I purchased at a national art store. It was inexpensive and with the variety of shapes it was a great value.
All I did is cut off the long stems and voila...jewelry props!
If you have children, going for a nature walk is a great way to spend time together and to collect props for your photographs...hey, you never know you might actually find some creative inspiration for new jewelry pieces along the way!

Monday, March 9, 2009

An "Edgy" Cocktail Ring

This is a personal favorite for me...

I found this ring at a resale shop and was completely draw to the sparkle...some of which gets lost in the photo.

The stones are older and have so much life when the light hits them! The marquis shape of the stones remind me of another time...like some fabulous night at a supper club.

The setting and the band looked small and a bit "dated" so when I got it home I decided to embellish it a little...

I wire wrapped the band and around the base of the focal piece.
I wanted it kind of messy and raw looking...the opposite of what the ring was originally intended to be.

I used silver plate wire and hammered it to flatten.

I think it gave the ring a little more weight and interest...so much so that I am keeping it for myself!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Orphan Beads Bin

I often have a variety of left over beads in small quantities.
Pretty beads...interesting beads.

I find that having a small bin or in my case a small drawer right next to my work table is the perfect place to collect all of those treasures.

I love rummaging through my loose bead drawer when I am I need of that one odd focal bead.
They are all sparkly and colorful!

It is a great place to collect beads for smaller projects like earring too.

At one point I tried to separate them into size categories but that was too much work.
Now I just toss them all together and when I need something small I know to dig down to the bottom for sunken treasures!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Slowing Down

There is more to life than increasing it's speed.
- Mahatma Gandhi

Try slowing down creatively with a detailed project...like a mosaic or knitting.

Enjoy the process and soak in the simplicity of the movements. Something repetitive can be very calming and comforting.

Try something new just for the newness of it...let your mind wander.

Friday, March 6, 2009

A Useful Jewelry Tool - Knitting Needles?

When I was in need of a long narrow tube shaped thing for a wire work project I was doing, I raided my knitting box!

I LOVE knitting and I have a bunch of knitting needles in a variety of diameters and materials.

I find them useful for so many jewelry projects.

The obvious one is for wire wrapping...the larger diameter is great for hand made sterling silver ear wires and the thinner ones are good for making coils or jump rings.

I have also used them to braid fibers or leather laces by tying one end on to the needle and holding it in between my knees so that it would keep the strands taught while I braided. The needles with the thick cap on the end keep the strands from sliding off while you are working on them.

I think they are pretty to look at too..I keep mine on my jewelry table sanding up in a pretty cut glass vase. Like a bouquet of metal rods!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Protect Your Tools - Fabric Sheers

While I was in school at The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles, it was pounded in our head to protect your fabric sheers with your life!

Working in that industry, they were one of your most important tools.
You see if your precious sheers are used to cut paper, plastic or heaven forbid cardboard, they will be ruined.
So I have mine hidden from the rest of my family...all of whom don't share the same infatuation with this beautiful tool.
I have also tied colorful ribbon to the handles in case they should accidentally fall into the wrong hands...they will know there is something different!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Silver "Orphan Charm" Bracelet

Not everything comes out the way it is supposed to...

This bracelet is a result of my early education with PMC (Precious Metal Clay).

When I added this medium to my business offerings years ago there was a lot of trial and error but because of the precious nature of the materials I couldn't just part with the cast offs.

After collecting charms for several years, I decided to create a special treat for myself...a sort of tribute to a new learning experience.

I call it my "Orphan Charm" bracelet. It is made up of fingerprint charms and other pieces that might not have been up to my standards, some samples, designs that didn't make the cut, etc...

Separately they have no real value...but together I think they combine to create an intimate and interesting piece of jewelry.

I do have some more charms that I am thinking of making into another bracelet to offer in my etsy shop...keep your eye out for this one of a kind, personal work of art!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Studio Help - Cut Ribbon Storage

I LOVE Ribbon!

Almost as much as I love fabric...but cut ribbon pieces can be a nightmare to store and manage!

I use the cut ribbon pieces for so many things...packaging an order, grouping supplies, labeling items, protecting items in transport, pulling my hair back in my office when I don't have anything else around! It is a smart way to utilize surplus ribbon...too pretty to discard and sometimes at the art store they will even sell a full bag of assorted cut ribbon lengths for $1 to get rid of extra inventory.

A few years ago while surfing online for clever ideas on how to store ribbon...I stumbled on a really useful idea. I don't remember where I found it - so I apologise in advance for that!

Just know it wasn't my idea to begin with...but I did tweak it a bit!

What they did was use a wire hanger (like you get from the dry cleaners) and loop the the lengths of ribbon through the wire like the picture above. The strands of ribbon slide together and hang so that you can always see what you have available!

I think the best part is that you can easily remove or add new lengths one at a time without disturbing the others! No more tangles, creased ribbon...or forgetting what you have.

I hung the hangers on a hook on the back of my door.

Now my newest twist was to buy a multi level hanger...typically used for several pair of pants. This way I was able to have five rungs to hang from in a smaller amount of space! The hanger is coated so it protects more delicate ribbons. I recommend that if you have ribbon that creases easily...loop it very loosely and don't pull it taught.

It is pretty and functional...I actually moved it from behind the door to a wall hook near my desk because I love seeing my colorful ribbons!

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Magnetic Idea

Below are some examples of custom magnets I have had ordered to represent my business.

Readily available at most online printing companies, I think the magnets make a nice gift for special customers.

Inexpensive and useful...a great combination.

The company I order from allows me to upload images and print in full color which helps keep a uniform theme for my business. I can also order in small quantities which is great for using photos of newer items to keep the magnets current.

There are templates on the website that can be used as well...like a year-at-a-glance calendar.

They are light and easy to send...and come in two sizes.

I like to add the inspirational quote from my website because I think it is a good reminder for people that they are important and there "voice" needs to be heard. Maybe providing a little uplift in their day.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

One Special Element - Vintage Bead Bracelet

I loved this carved pendant...

But I knew I didn't want to use it as a pendant.

I think this bracelet illustrates how one special element can make very simple beads more interesting. These icy, crackle, vintage beads were sort of dead on their own...but with a special element I think they look so much more inviting and important.

I like the simplicity of the two colors and think that it makes the detail in the pendant stand out.

Sometimes using a larger piece as a focal item on a bracelet can open up new creative doors!