Friday, December 6, 2013


I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We went over to our neighbors' house for Thanksgiving dinner, which was fun. Then we made a "second Thanksgiving" meal (turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans - the works!) on Black Friday because as fun as visiting someone else for Thanksgiving is, we really wanted turkey leftovers! We didn't go Black Friday shopping because crowds just push all my buttons, and the most strenuous thing we did was put of Christmas decorations. All in all, a wonderful holiday weekend!

First things first - an couple announcements! I will be at Studio 54 Furniture and Fine Art Gallery in Enumclaw, WA on December 14th from noon to 6 PM for with the gallery's two other jewelry artists for a trunk show. All of us will have our jewelry for sale and be giving demonstrations of how we create our pieces. The gallery will even wrap any jewelry purchased, perfect for Christmas!

And second announcement - the final day for U.S.-bound holiday orders from Miscellanea Etcetera is December 18th. Orders made after that date will be shipped out after Christmas.

As to what I've been up to, jewelry-wise, I've been busy making and packing up orders that came in over the holiday weekend, but I managed to finish a few new items as well.

It's not a great picture, and it needs a bit more polishing as well, but here is a Cherry Creek Jasper pendant I just finished.The stone is such a pretty pink color!

I also made a prototype spinner ring with three spinners, yellow and rose gold-fill and sterling. I think I'll probably keep it for myself for a while just to make sure I actually like the way the spinners work. I also made a very thick sterling silver ring that I am going to practice flush setting small faceted stones with.

Back to more stacking ring orders over the weekend, and hopefully a few "arty" pieces that I can take with me to the gallery trunk show!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Gift Guide: Handmade Stocking Stuffers

I also contributed to the latest Gift Guide on Team Handmade's Hand In Handmade site. Check it out for a ton of great ideas for small gifts that are all totally handmade by great Team Handmade artisans!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

So do you think the model had to have her hand propped up on something?

Cause that's quite a rock! It's the 59.6 carat "Pink Star" diamond, and it just sold at auction for a record breaking almost $74 million. To put that in perspective, most women's engagement rings are 1 carat or below and even with all the buzz about it, Kim Kardashian's latest big ol' hunk of rock is only 15 carats.

But as the saying goes, it's not just size that matters with diamonds. Pink is a rare color for diamonds and this diamond has an exceptionally intense color.

In any case, if you would like to see other pretty giant sparkly gems, take a look at this slideshow from MSNBC.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

What's new...

I spent this past Monday making a whole rainbow of gemstone stud earrings. I just love all the different colors of stones out there! I've been restraining myself from confiscating the sky blue topaz pair for myself.

There also seems to be a lot of stuff that I made in the last few months that I haven't shared here. Part of it was that I was hoarding all of it for my November craft show and didn't get around to taking great pictures of it.

Here's a labradorite ring that just recently sold. The buyer was giving it as a gift to someone who apparently loves labradorite almost as much as me!

Here's a close-up picture the big fossil coral and viking knit necklace:

I was a bit sad when this bracelet sold at the craft fair. I kinda wanted to keep it a little longer just to admire it! I'm just going to have to make a couple more with different colored stones!

And a sort of vaguely steampunk-ish amethyst pendant. I have to confess that the gear-like overlay came about because I accidentally messed up and cut too big of a hole in the first disc I tried to use. I was originally going to decorate it with more of a filigree design made from twisted wire, but I hate wasting silver, so I cut a gear pattern in the messed up disc and domed it to fit over the (correctly cut) bottom disc. Happy accidents, right?

And just tonight, I made a prototype ring out of copper. I had an ugly goldstone (I think?) cabochon that I keep knocking off my desk and new copper solder that I wanted to try out. I like how the design turned out and it was a good color test of the new solder. (Much better than silver solder!) I think I'll make something similar in silver (with a nicer stone!)

I'm also very excited! After my last "learn all the things" post, I found an Intro to Casting class in Tacoma and decided to sign up! I probably won't be doing any casting at home in the near future because flinging molten metal around is both slightly scary and expensive. But I have always wanted to know how to do it and this is my chance!

I guess that's it for now... I have a trunk show coming up in December at the gallery I show at (hopefully I'll have info to share on it soon!) so tomorrow I'm going to go digging through my cabochon stash to make some more "arty" pieces.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Learn ALL The Things!

(And buy ALL the tools...)

No, really! I've been reading some jewelry books and magazines lately and I have a very long list of new techniques I want to try. So long that I don't even know where to start! Making my own prong settings for faceted stones? Or maybe enameling? Oooh, wait! Maybe digging out and trying the metal clay I've had in a drawer! Or chasing and repousee? Let's go back to stone setting: flush setting small stones! Or reticulation, or keum-boo, or mokume-gane! Or how about lost-wax casting?!

So when are my lotto winnings going to start rolling in? (Especially for that last dream of learning casting!) Because I think I need a bigger studio for all of the new shiny equipment I would need for all these new techniques. (Which would mean a bigger house! Ha!)

I guess I should pick just one to start... hmmmm... Maybe prong settings... Although there's a kiln online that's been calling my name, and that would be a dual purpose tool: metal clay AND enameling! So many choices!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Craft Show Aftermath...

Ugh... it took me two days to work up the energy to get the remainders of my craft show display containers out of my car. I was just tired of dragging the bins and boxes from one place to another, so I took my jewelry inventory and cash box inside and left the rest covered up in my trunk. Good think I live in a safe neighborhood! I just keep reminding myself that I make probably the most portable crafted item possible - it could be much worse! I could make something heavy or breakable... like pottery or stained glass

Anyway, my latest craft show was a success. It was looking pretty dire about 15 minutes before the show was about to start when the power completely went out in the venue. Luckily it came back on in a minute
and only flickered a few times during the rest of the day. Saturday was unfortunately a super stormy day here in the Seattle area, so some of the surrounding towns completely lost power. I think that kept a lot of people home, so there weren't as many shoppers as there should have been. But it was still a good show overall.

Here's a picture of my table!

I added a sale section of older stock I would like to move and that seemed to be a big draw. And of course, rings. Everybody likes to touch rings! Every craft show I do is a little bit more I learn about what kind of stock I should bring and how I should set up my table. I'm still working my way into having enough inventory to be able to start planning on selling at larger outdoor summer craft fairs. Next year hopefully!

Monday, October 28, 2013

What To Bring To Your Craftshow - A Checklist

I'm working on getting ready for a craft show this upcoming weekend. Between making extra inventory, I have been checking my displays and making sure I have everything organized so I don't end up at the show missing something important (like my jewelry inventory!). Since I make lists to keep myself organized, I thought I would share what I bring with me to craft shows.

Inventory to sell- I keep all my jewelry inventory organized in trays in a gray travel bag

Display Components
  • Table - if not supplied by the venue
  • Tablecloths - I layer a few different colors to make the table look interesting and have my base black fitted tablecloths in 6 and 8 foot sizes so I'm ready for whatever size table the venue gives me.
  • Display racks/components - Luckily jewelry displays are pretty small. I have a mix of store-bought and handmade displays. If you sell other types of items, you may need to get creative about how you make your display. Think vertically, too - everything laid out flat gets boring.
  • Banner/Signs - make sure people know who you are! I haven't gotten a vinyl sign yet but I made a pretty nice one with a 11x14" sheet printed at Kinko's that I mounted to poster board and sealed with acrylic spray. It works just fine for smaller indoor shows but I'll have to upgrade when I graduate to larger shows.
  • Clipboard with sign up sheet for mailing lists
  • Business cards & holder
  • (For outdoor shows) - Canopy & sidewalls
Packaging For Sales
  • Boxes, bags, etc - make sure to put your branding on them! I use clear address labels with my logo and website printed on them.
Business Forms, etc
  • Copy of business license - important, especially at bigger shows where there might be inspectors coming around to check that you have all of your paperwork in order with the state.
  • Extra price tags
  • Extra price stickers
  • Spiral notebook
  • Sales list - make a table that you can write what has sold, for how much, and how much sales tax you collected
  • Custom order forms
  • Extra paper for signs
  • Photo album w/ pictures of past projects, behind the scenes
  • Craft show information sheets - print out or gather up all the flyers and vendor info sheets the venue has sent you
  • Receipt book
  • Ball point pen
Office Supplies - because you never know when you are going to need to McGuyver a part of your display together...
  • Phone charger 
  • Pens (lots) 
  • Pencil 
  • Sales receipt book 
  • Sharpie 
  • Stapler 
  • Twine 
  • Binder clips & paper clips 
  • Scissors 
  • Tape 
  • Glue stick 
  • Box cutter 
  • Lint roller 
Cashbox/Money Bag/Vendor Apron
  • Enough cash for change. The amount varies depending on how much you think you will sell. I aim for $150-$200 in small bills and coins. I guarantee people will pay you with $20 bills, so make sure you have enough $1's. I'm pretty sure the teller at my bank thought I was going to a strip club the last time I got cash for a craft show... 
  • Square and Paypal Here credit card readers - there are so many people who forget to carry cash (me!), or spend all their cash, then fall in love with one of your items and only have plastic to pay for it - so being able to take credit cards will bring you more sales. The transaction fees on both of these are pretty low and they are secure and easy to use. (I bring both because sometimes my Square reader malfunctions) 
Cleaning Supplies
  • Small bag for trash 
  • Wet wipes 
  • Napkins/paper towels 
  • Hand sanitizer 
  • Bottle of water 
  • Granola bars 
  • Other simple snacks/food - go for non-messy, non-staining, non-sticky foods... no meatball subs or Cheetos 
  • Coffee in spill-proof mug
Personal Items
  • Makeup for touch-ups
  • "Feminine items" just in case of emergency
  • A few band-aids
  • Contact solution and case - I got dust under my contact in the first hour of one of my previous shows, and spent the whole day squinting with my eye watering because I didn't have my contact stuff with me. Now it goes everywhere with me.
  • An in-progress project to work on during down time - I usually bring supplies to work on chains. It gives me something mindless to do, is portable, and people usually come over to my table just to see what I'm working on. It also displays that I really do handcraft all of my items.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Why, hello there!

Buried in custom orders and building up inventory for my craft fair, but I though I would share a little bit of what I've been working on lately...

(clockwise from top left: Red Creek Jasper and Copper Collar, Bumblebee Jasper, Peridot, Citrine & Sterling Silver Pendant, Fossil Coral and Sterling Silver Necklace (with viking knit chain), and Turquoise and Sterling Silver Pendant)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Sorry! I Haven't Really Fallen Off the Face of the Earth...

I've just been on vacation. Then recuperating from the massive cold I caught while on vacation... (Thanks Mom & Dad!)

I was in Michigan visiting my parents and the Chicago area visiting a friend, so here's a picture of part of a cool historical fishing town in northern Michigan and a bonus picture of a blowfish in Chicago's Shedd Aquarium.

In addition to helping my husband's little brother settle into junior high (and settling myself into having a teenager in the house!), I'm trying to get back in the swing of things with my shop and also starting to get ready for an upcoming craft fair.

(Which I guess I should start to promote a little bit, so here that goes...)

If you are in the Seattle area and would like to see my shiny things in person, and support the funding for the Northshore School District Special Education Parent/Professional Advisory Council (quite the mouthful, but they support the special education programs in my local school district), come visit the SEPAC Woodinville Holiday Craft Fair on November 2nd from 9-4 at Woodmoor Elementary School (12225 NE 160th, Bothell, WA).

And if you are the type of person to think waaaay ahead for holiday shopping, I will also be participating in a trunk show with Studio 54 Furniture and Fine Art Gallery in Enumclaw, WA on December 14th.  I'll have more information about that in a week or so.

I also have new fall dates scheduled for classes at Beadworld in Seattle (check out their website for the updated class list) and I also agreed to be available for private lessons through them as well. So I'm going to be one busy girl through the holidays!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

What I've Been Up To - August 5 - 24

I feel like I've been running around crazy busy for the last two weeks, but when I look at my jewelry desk and things that I've finished, there's not much there! I guess I've been crazy busy with other things. My husband's little brother has come from overseas to live with us and we are running around trying to get him ready for junior high.

On the jewelry front, I knitted a long viking knit chain out of 30 feet of 28 gauge sterling silver wire for the fossil coral pendant I finished a while back. It looks great! Sparkly and shiny and flexible. It took a while to finish because I had to put it down every half hour or so to let my fingers and eyesight recover. I'm going to section it into three pieces, add end caps to each section, and separate them with fossil coral beads. I think it's going to be really impressive when I'm done with it (she says, humbly...)

I also took apart a moonstone ring I made a while back... (This one...)

I was never totally happy with it - the stone was a little crooked, the split shank was a little unequal on either side - so I managed to pry the stone out of the setting and I heated it until it the shank de-soldered from the setting. I bent the split shank wires into a nicer shape, turned the setting around so it was horizontal rather than vertical, and soldered it all back together with a handful of silver balls for decoration. 

Much better now! This version will actually get photographed and added to my shop...

I have also been busy making three custom earrings with a customer's own saltwater and freshwater pearls. I just finished them the other day and I'm very pleased. Hopefully she will be too!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Weekly (Really!) Update - 8/4/13

I think my biggest accomplishment this week was cleaning my jewelry desk! You wouldn't know that I cleaned it off by looking at it right now of course, but it was totally clean for at least 15 minutes, I swear... But I got some stacking plastic drawers meant for organizing paper that sorts my silver wire spools and coils perfectly by gauge and shape.

And I also got a nifty little sawblade, file and burr organizer, which is nice because I was starting to get neurotic about losing my setting bits in the mess of my side shelves.

I also ordered a new mini butane torch because I suspect the one I have is on its last legs. Only it's not so much of a mini torch! I'm going to have to be careful about melting stuff with this giant! (Or setting things on fire!)

I also actually made a few jewelry things last week. Stacking rings and earrings for orders, of course. I also finished a fossil coral pendant to match the earrings in my last post. It gave me so much trouble! Getting the bezel, the complicated openwork backing, the decorative circles and tube setting all soldered together wasn't overly difficult. But then I realized that the bezel wall was just a hair too short on one side for me to be sure that the stone would be totally secure, so I decided to add some prongs. And of course by now the piece was just a little to big for my little old microtorch to get heated properly. The prongs seemed to go on just fine, they stuck on through filing and finishing and a trip through the tumbler, but then they started breaking off as soon as I had the faceted CZ set and the bezel pushed around the coral. So I got to pry the coral out and force the CZ out of the tube setting (because apparently CZs can't handle high heat from torches). I'll make an already long story slightly shorter and say that luckily my new giant butane torch showed up in the mail so I blasted the heck out of the setting and got those stupid prongs totally soldered down and put everything back together. And the end result is nice!

After waffling back and forth for a while, I've finally settled on going whole hog on the chain - I'm going to knit a viking knit chain and piece it together in three sections, with fossil coral beads between each section. Of course that means, that I get to make at least six handmade end caps for the viking knit. Since I'm going all out, I'm going to make them out of tube and sheet and solder them to the ends of each chain. Should be fun!

After the fight with the fossil coral, I made a little copper and stone ring. Mostly for practice, since the band is copper and many people can't wear copper rings without skin reactions. It was good practice though and it turned out rather well.

I'm going to be working on the chain for my fossil coral, and I've also got local custom earring order to work on, so I'll be nice and busy in the coming week. But jewelry is the best thing to be busy with!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Reoccurring (Sometimes Weekly) Update - July 28th

So I'm officially an "artist"! Studio 54 Gallery in Enumclaw, WA picked nearly 20 of my jewelry pieces to display (and hopefully sell) at their gallery. Here's a few of what they picked...

I've also been busy making some new things, too.

Circle and Dot Earrings and Rings - available in my Etsy shop
Blue Lace Agate Hinged Cuff Bracelet

Fossil Coral Earrings

And straight off the jewelry desk (I finished them last night):

I was a little bit inspired by historical roman and medieval designs for these earrings. The labradorites have a nice blue green flash, too. They are pretty much my favorite stone.

I have a bunch more earrings and pendants planned out, I just need to get downstairs to my desk to start them!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Weekly Update - July 14th

I just want to pop in here really quick and share a couple recent projects!

These are Tanzanian sunstone and silver. I made the ball posts from scratch, too, which was fun.

And this was this weekend's project:

The top picture is my concept drawing and the bracelet after I had cut and soldered everything and fitted it all together. The bottom picture is after I polished everything and set the stones. I'm not sure what the stones are... they are a creamy white with purple and gray veins running through them. I DO know that soldering copper is a pain in the rear, though! I haven't soldered anything but silver in quite a while and I forgot how annoying copper is. I like the end result though! :)

I sprinted through this bracelet project because late last week, a local gallery contacted me and asked if I would be interested in displaying (and hopefully selling) a few pieces with them! I drive down and meet with them next Wednesday and I wanted to have a few more metalwork pieces to show them. I'm hoping to finish another large pendant and set of earrings tomorrow and Tuesday. Might be a little optimistic, but that's what I'll shoot for. 

Wish me luck!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Weekly(ish) update - June 7th - July 7

Well, I went to the gem show I mentioned in my last post. It was a bit of a bust. While it was mostly wholesale finished fine jewelry, it also had a lot of decently priced beads and a lot of expensive (but probably still decently priced) faceted stones. My storage boxes are already overflowing with gemstone beads, so I wasn't really in the market for those and while the sparkly diamonds caught my eye, they certainly weren't in my budget! (Or in my skill set quite yet...) So other than a box of cotton filled jewelry boxes, I walked out empty handed. Oh well... 

I did have a chance to sit down this weekend and make some new earrings. Sometimes I sketch out a design idea and then have to toss the idea completely out the window when I actually try to make it, but with this set of earrings, my drawn design worked out perfectly! Love it when that happens.

Ornate Malachite and Sterling Silver Earrings - available in my Etsy shop!
Isn't that malachite awesome? I think its the perfect color match for the Pantone color of the year (emerald green).

I also made a simpler pair of earrings with some nice London Blue Topaz beads I found.

London Blue Topaz and Sterling Silver Earrings - available in my Etsy shop!
That's about it for what I've been doing at my jewelry desk. It's a bit of a slow period for me, which is good because as I mentioned before my mother-in-law and brother-in-law are staying with us and we have been taking them sight seeing and shopping.

I did just get a package with some pretty new cabochons, so I'll try to keep the updates coming whenever I make something new!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Better late than never? What I've Been Up To Since June 1st

Wow! I've sadly neglected my updates... Very sorry! Here's what I've been doing (obviously not blogging!)

I made matching earrings and necklace from the pretty turquoise I bought during one of our road trips. It's really nice turquoise - probably stabilized but not reconstituted - a very nice typical "turquoise" blue with a nice dark gray/black matrix.

Turquoise and Sterling Silver Pendant For sale in my Etsy shop!

I also finished the jasper pendant I shared the in-progress picture of in my last update. I set it with prongs on both sides so it can be worn with either side facing out (although it does technically have a "front"). It's also in Argentium silver, which doesn't tarnish as quickly as standard sterling silver. I don't have nice pictures yet, and I still need to figure out if I want a cord or chain to hang it from. I'm leaning towards cord...

I have also been playing around with setting faceted stones. I ordered a whole bunch of lab-created rubies and sapphires and different colored CZs to give it a try. I made a ruby ring - probably just for myself since I cut the seat a little too deep in the setting and managed to solder the ring shank just a little off center. It's pretty and sparkly, though and I look forward to making more of these! I also think the 6 mm size stone would work great in simple necklace and earring designs, too.

My best friend and her mom came out from the Chicago area a couple weekends ago to visit and see Seattle. I had fun playing tourist with them for a long weekend. We did the Ducks tour (amphibious WWII vehicle driving downtown, then driving right into Lake Union for a short boat tour, with lots of puns and quacking), Pike Place, Space Needle and the Chihuly Museum of Glass. And of course, Mount Rainier. Everybody who visits us gets dragged out to Mount Rainier... Here's some photographic evidence:

My friend is also an artist, (with her own Etsy shop) and drew us portraits of our canaries and chickens while she was here. Love them!

I'm looking forward to taking the bus back into downtown Seattle for a gem show on Friday. Not sure what I'm looking to buy there, but I'll bet that I find something!

After that, my mother-in-law and brother-in-law are flying in to stay with us, so I'll probably be MIA from updating here for a while again. But hopefully not for as long!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

What I've Been Up To - May 26 - June 1

Here's what I've been doing at my jewelry desk for the last week!

Another busy week here! But surprisingly, very few pictures to share... I had gotten a little backed up on orders from the holiday weekend so I spent the week pounding out a whole bunch of stacking rings.

My Mixed Metal Stacking Ring Set actually made it to Etsy's Trending Items page this week, too! (You have to scroll down and click "See More Items" a couple times, but it's there!)

I finally took pictures of a pair of earrings I finished almost a month ago. These are a "sister" pair to the labradorite circle hoops I made previously only these are rose-cut sky blue topaz.

In between all of the stacking rings, I've been slowly working on a new pendant. The cabochon is polished and has a great pattern on both sides, so I'm trying to make the pendant open on both sides with prongs holding the stone. I'm still working out how I want to attach the prongs, but here is the frame.

Then today, I took a short trip up to Everett to a gem show there and brought home a whole bag of new bright, shiny cabochons!

I'm so excited to go make jewelry out of these!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

What I've Been Up To: May 19 - 25

Here's what I've been doing at my jewelry desk for the past week...

I've been swimming in a sea of mixed metal stacking rings! I spent most of my time this week trying to keep up with making custom ring orders. Here's just one (light) day's stack of rings ready to go into the tumbler.

I got to try out a new set of silicone polishing wheels, which definitely speeds up the clean-up time on the brass rings.

I did manage to make a completely new necklace this week, too. I've been holding onto some sterling gallery wire bezel that I've been trying to figure out where to use. I ran across a random pearl cabochon in my stash that was perfect for the gallery wire bezel. I got everything shaped and soldered and then dunked it all in some liver of sulfur solution to darken it and ended up with a rainbow of iridescent blue, green, yellow and red. I kinda wish I knew what I was doing to get these colors, because I always end up with them when I don't want them, but can't figure out how to get them when I try!

In any case, a quick polish brought the colors down to a more subdued gray (with still some green and blue flashes in the chain) and then I set the pearl (which is ridiculously easy with gallery wire, love it!). I still need to get some nicer pictures, but here's a quick shot with my iPhone.

It has kind of a medieval flavor to it and I really like the little handmade S-hook clasp I made with the little pearl dangle. I'm looking into getting some rose cut or plain gemstone cabochons to make some variations on this necklace. I think onyx would be a nice contrast. And of course I'm always partial to amethyst...

My husband and I went for a bit of a drive yesterday across the mountains, just to explore. We ended up in Ellensburg, WA and as soon as we rolled into town, we ran across a rock shop/bead store! Its like it was meant to be. They cut their own cabochons in-house, so I spend quite a while drooling over their rough slabs, wishing I had the space, equipment, and know-how to cut my own cabs, then I picked out a few finished cabochons.

The color isn't great in this picture, but that's a red jasper and three turquoise. I'm going to make the teardrop into a pendant and the pointed ovals into a pair of matching earrings. It's probably better for my wallet that this shop is so far away. My husband had to practically drag me out!

Until next week!