Saturday, October 13, 2012

New Bracelets

I forget how much fun I have making these bracelets.

A few years ago, I stopped making bracelets for my inventory because I found that when people bought them, they tended to wear them 24/7, and they just were not made for that kind of hard of wear so I ended up fixing quite a few of them. I am flattered that people want to wear the bracelet all the time, but they need to remember it is a piece of jewelry and needs to be respected.

When I decided to resume making bracelets, I realized I had to make them more sturdy. I am now using heavier gauge wire and not using accent metal beads, which tend to wear on the wire after the bracelet is worn for a long time. The only problem with this is that I have to use bigger hole beads or ream the holes, which is a pain in the you know what. So there is a lot of fiddling with wire and beads when I am in the designing stages to make sure the beads will actually fit on the wire, but the satisfaction when the project is complete is well worth the fiddly bits! It also gives me an excuse to haul out my bead inventory and use up all the bits and pieces I have left over from larger projects.

Here are some pictures of what I have made recently.
Faceted Blue Quartz & Sterling Silver

Blue Quartz rondelles & Sterling Silver

Chalcedony, Faceted Freshwater Pearls & Sterling Silver

Faceted Turquoise, Freshwater Pearls & Sterling Silver

Baroque Freshwater Pearls & Sterling Silver

Black Freshwater Pearls & Sterling Silver

Freshwater Keshi Pearls & Sterling Silver

Faceted lavender Freshwater Pearls & Sterling Silver

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Fabulous Chainmaille

Some more Chainmaille items I have been working on lately.
Lots of fun, but very, very time consuming!

Dragonscale Bracelet- Aluminum
Dragonscale close up
Dragonscale relaxed!

Euro 4-1 Kinged and Mobi'd - Aluminum

Euro 4-1 Kinged and Mobi'd - Aluminum

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Comfort Zones

Comfort Zones
and how important it is to challenge yourself

The first thing you need to know about me is that I don't do well around large groups of people. They exhaust me. My day time job provides me with enough social interaction that when I am off work, I prefer to be home making things or reading, or going for a walk or hike with my hubby. You know, things that don't involve large groups of people. So what I am about to tell you goes against everything I am comfortable with and was the hardest thing I have ever decided to do, and continues to be the most challenging thing I do every year.

Many years ago, I decided I needed to sell some of the treasures that I make in order to be able to justify making more. Also, even though I love everything I make, I needed to find out if anyone else liked my jewelry enough to buy should it be available.

I did a lot of research into galleries (too intimidating), consignment (too iffy), and focused on various art/craft fairs, and found many were too expensive, too far away from home, or just were not the venue for me to participate in, so I finally decided to try out the art fair in my community that I had been attending for years as a buyer and really liked and looked forward to attending every year.

At first, I found out it was not a juried event, even though it was supposed to be limited to artisans only, I still found a lot of imported things for sale. (Gradually, though, throughout the years I am happy to say that the organizers of the event have made it a juried event and have tried vigilantly to weed out the resellers.)

So, I filled out the application and was accepted. Panic attack! What in the world do I know about doing a craft fair? Nothing...but I had attended plenty! The first year, I was too busy making inventory and worrying about a tent, table, etc., to worry about actually having to TALK TO PEOPLE. I'll gloss over the set up (thanks to a very supportive hubby who remains uber supportive to this day!) and get to the meat of doing an arts/craft fair. It is exhausting! Long hours, having to actually talk to people, uncertain weather conditions, few and far between potty breaks, not eating right, etc., but I find the rewards more than make up for the hard parts. Really!

Remember I'm not what anyone would call a people person? Well, I found out, after working though my initial awkwardness at finding myself behind a booth selling things I made, that people respond to someone being nice to them. No secret handshake, no decoder ring needed, just be nice. I had a great time the first year and made enough to go back the next year, and the next, and the next, etc. Now roughly 14 years later, I still show at the same arts fair and have many repeat customers. The location has changed, and the arts fair itself has evolved over the years into a more artist centered event, but the people who attend are still the same.

Over the years I have found it is still challenging to do the event, but not because I stress out over inventory, tents, etc., but because it is still exhausting for me to interact with so many people. So why do I still do it? Positive reinforcement! It is simply because I love having people tell me how beautiful my jewelry is and how they think I have the best jewelry they have seen in the entire show, or over many shows, and when they buy something they are so thrilled to have met the person that actually made it, they go away with a big smile. I have sold jewelry to people from many different countries, and to people from many different states. I have lots of repeat customers and people who just stop to say hi because they saw me the year before.

I also demonstrate various jewelry making techniques such as chainmaille weaving and using wire and gemstone beads to make jewelry. I love demonstrating, and interesting people enough into stopping and watching me make something, or explain how a piece is made and what goes into the handcrafting of a piece of jewelry. I have my booth set up so it is wheelchair friendly, kid friendly and welcome people to touch everything.
I get huge satisfaction in answering questions from people and kids especially, and seeing a spark of interest in their eyes as they handle the sample of jewelry or chainmaille I give them to feel and they realize that YES I MADE EVERYTHING ON MY TABLES!! The eyes don't meet up with their brain until they hold something and realize it was entirely hand made by me.

You see, it's not all about people buying my jewelry, it's about people knowing that there are artisans out there actually making things with their two hands. I believe people need to see artisans at work making what they love to create and seeing the difference between mass market and artisan made items. I believe in encouraging people to go out and make something, even if it's not perfect at least they tried.

So, while I still find participating in Arts In Action every year outside my comfort zone and exhausting, I always find it very rewarding and worth the effort and I'm glad I participate every year.

2012 Arts In Action
My modest booth set up for Arts In Action- Wired jewelry on the long side and Chainmaille on the short side where I also demonstrate jewelry making techniques.
The short side where I have my Chainmaille jewelry and keychains set up and the tray I use when demonstrating jewelry making techniques...this year I demonstrated various Chainmaille weaves.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Yay, more Chainmaille!

Sterling Silver GSG Weave Bracelet

These are two new weaves I mastered recently.
I am very pleased with how they turned out, they are
so beautiful and elegant. The lacy GSG weave is
a pretty flat weave that hugs your wrist, while the
intricate CCC weave is more like a bangle, but with
substance. Both are made with Sterling Silver
jump rings and have a lovely silky feel to them.

Sterling Silver Candy Cane Cord Bracelet

Sunday, May 20, 2012

After spending the weekend photographing, processing the photographs and listing, I now have nine new listings for necklaces in my Etsy Store! To see more description and pictures, click on the link below the pictures or on my mini store links on the right side of the page. Check it out!

Turquoise, Peridot, Lapis & Sterling Silver
Tanzanite & Sterling Silver
Garnets, Stick Pearls, Freshwater Pearls & Sterling Silver
Garnet, Cranberry Pearls & Sterling Silver
Peridot, Freshwater Pearls & Sterling Silver
Garnet, Faceted Pearl & Sterling Silver Beads
Labradorite & Sterling Silver
Keshi Pearl, Turquoise & Sterling Silver
Amethyst & Sterling Silver

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Such Beautiful Flowering Trees!

This time of year is such an inspiration for me. Spring is here, everything is fresh and new and with all the flowering trees in full bloom, beauty is everywhere you look. The neighborhood flower gardens are looking fabulous with bright drifts of color so even on dull overcast days, there are still many reasons to smile.

These flowering trees remind me of piles of pearl strands. I love pearls! All the different colors and shapes of pearls that are available now are just amazing.
I can't go into a bead shop where there are pearls and not touch them. Well, to be honest, I have to touch all the beads! I love to feel the texture and shape of the pearls and/or gemstones and imagine what beautiful piece of jewelry I can make with them. When I'm holding the strands, I am quickly going through my inventory in my head and figuring out what goes with the strand I'm holding or if I can combine it somehow with my chainmaille weaves. Then the practical side chimes in with the little details like, if they are cut in an unusual shape, is the shape too pointy and will it hurt to wear the piece if I use them. And how many pieces can I make with this one strand, how many beads are really usable on the strand (because there are always some that can't be used for one reason or quality control person is a tough one!) If I need to use the beads for necklaces or can they be used for bracelets too, because some pearls and gemstones just don't work well for bracelets due to hole size and fragility. And last is do I already have something similar, if so, do I really NEED this particular strand.  OK, the last point doesn't really matter, because if the strand passes all the other inspections, by that time I've convinced myself I do need it!

Nature is inspiration!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Banded Agate

Banded Agate Byzantine Bracelet. I love this bracelet! Made with handwoven Byzantine Chainmaille units in Sterling Silver, and absolutely gorgeous Banded Agate rough faceted beads.
The Agate reminds me of all the rock collecting I did as a kid. (And still do!) I always had a pocket full of rocks, from where ever we happend to be. I remember one particular area we used to camp had an abundance of Agate and Jasper and we could always find a few prize Chalcedony Roses. When I look back at all the rocks I collected as a kid, it's funny to realize most of them are now used in jewelry. Who knew?