Changes

It feels as if I have been going full throttle ever since school started back up in January, and I haven't had time to even breath. It doesn't help that my son left to go back 'over there' which has left me out of sorts and anxious most days and especially nights. This pent up frustration has to go somewhere, so I have been staying really busy and working out consistently for months.  Also, I'm still posting on Love My Art Jewelry, so if you want to see what myself and the ladies have been up to check out the blog here.
 
 Recently, my husband and I purchased a kiln and will be working together on making beads and pendants. 
 

 

 
They will soon be listed on my website, along with some of these sandblasted pendants. Stay tuned!

Jewelry Photography

I just couldn’t take it anymore. You know, those jewelry pictures that leave you wondering how the heck did they get that shot? You know the ones…perfectly composed, clear shot, and with bokeh to die for? Well, I tried EVERYTHING and couldn’t get those results. I even shoot with a Canon Rebel and sometimes with my son’s Canon 7D. It drove me crazy! Even with those great camera bodies and after editing in Photoshop, I couldn’t come up with the results I wanted. Jewelry photography can be a real pain is the butt sometimes.
Recently, I did some serious research into what lens would give me the results I wanted. I found it! It’s the Canon 100mm 2.8L macro lens. This lens will definitely set you back a pretty penny, but it opens up a truly amazing new world. The below photos are of some pretty purple flowers that caught my eye. I was busy so I let my little cousins take the pictures and they took these shots. I have done a little after editing in photoshop to make the colors pop and increased the clarity, but that was all. AMAZING RIGHT? My photography is going to go from ehh, to BOOM! 
This photo looks like a beautiful fairy land to me.

The contrasting greens and purples are so pretty!

The background bokeh is nice and dreamy.
Taking photos of my jewelry is now enjoyable. I’ve also figured out how to tether the camera to my computer so all my shots automatically upload to my computer. Sooo much easier now.
Here are a few shots of my jewelry.

I shoot in a lightbox with reflective material and then do a little bit of after editing in photoshop. What a difference the right lens makes! I’m so much happier with my jewelry photography now. 
The lens is also wonderful for portraiture photography as well. If you are looking for a new lens I would definitely consider this one. Try it out if you can in the store before you buy. You will be amazed at the quality.
Happy shooting!

Parlez-vous français? Do you speak French?

I have a fascination with all things French.  Specifically the L’art Nouveau style.

  1.  Definition: a style of decorative art, architecture, and design prominent in western Europe and the US from about 1890 until World War I and characterized by intricate linear designs and flowing curves based on natural forms.
Tassel House Stairway
Architect Victor Horta
I have been learning to speak French and can finally say “Je parle français, un peu!” (I speak French, a little!) Why am I learning French? I hope to someday travel to France, specifically Paris, and immerse myself in their culture, art, and history. When I studied architecture design in college, L’art Nouveau screamed my name. In fact, all my Interior Design projects were done in this style.

Now that I have transitioned to jewelry design, it makes sense for me to incorporate Art Nouveau into my designs. 
I am working on a new collection called Primal Woods. Here is the first pair of earrings.  
 They embrace the fluid lines of Art Nouveau, but are also a bit edgy, almost primal. I think this influence is from growing up in the Sierra Mountains, so close to nature. I can honestly say these earrings are the most truest to my artistic nature that I have ever made. I look forward to creating more in this collection!
Merci beaucoup pour lisez! (Thank you very much for reading!)

Strength of the human spirit

When we do the best we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another. -Helen Keller

I just finished a 12 week medical treatment for a condition I probably have had my whole life. The fatigue from the medicine was debilitating and had me bedridden most days. The thought of simple daily chores seemed so overwhelming. But…my treatment is over. Once again, I have been given a second chance at life. In a month or so, I should be fully healed and will be able to start working out again.

There are those though, that won’t be able to fully heal. They face debilitating diseases or injuries that will not get better and they have to learn to live with their afflictions. I am amazed at their strength and that of the human spirit. How one can conquer the worst of circumstances and help others find the strength to carry on as well. I am humbled by my experience and will always respect those that face challenging health conditions.

I am grateful to be on the mend. My plan is to become as healthy as possible and maybe in the process I will influence others to do the same.

I was a vendor last weekend at the Barbera Festival. The preparing took a lot out of me but it was well worth it. The day was beautiful and we had a blast meeting new friends and enjoying the event. Afterwards, we drove around checking out all the beautiful vineyards dotting the hillsides.

Amador Wine Country, Young’s Vineyard
Thank you for visiting!

SWEET HAPPENINGS

I submitted a few pieces to Belle Armoire Jewelry because MaryAnn Carroll of Love My Art Jewelry said they would love my work. I never in a million years thought they would accept me. In fact when the email came through and Cynthia wrote “Congrats! I was thinking congrats for what?!? Wow, I love Belle Armoire Jewelry and to see my work on the pages is quite surreal.

Then MaryAnn Carroll asked little ol’ me to be a contributor for Love My Art Jewelry! WHAT!!! The blog has the most talented and sweet group of ladies and I look forward to sharing my creative journey with the readers.  Holy moly, this year is turning out to be simply amazing.

Also, I have been preparing for the Barbera Festival coming up on June 14th. This is a fun event with music, an endless supply of wine and happy customers. What more could a girl ask for?

I recently listed new designs to my website and will no longer be selling on Etsy.  I won’t mention the negatives about Etsy, but I will say I am completely happy with my decision. I look forward to focusing on my website and building a strong customer base.
Thank you for stopping by!

Spring Blossoms

“April’s air stirs in 
Willow-leaves…a butterfly
Floats and balances” 
April 2008 is when I discovered the magic of Cherry blossoms. Meandering through Japan’s most loved streets and well worn paths in Kyoto, a sereneness enveloped me. The cherry blossoms and hillsides beckoned us to explore their hidden treasures and antiquities. We were lucky to do just that for a whole day. Kyoto is serene and ancient with it’s rock gardens and zen temples. During cherry blossom viewing it is simply breathtaking. 
I finished these earrings today and will soon list to my website.
Thank you for visiting!

Transcend

Better is the enemy of good – Voltaire
Confession time. I sometimes can be a perfectionist to the point of driving myself and my loved ones crazy. I think it comes from needing to control this out of control world around me. Did I fold that towel perfectly? Or polish the sink until it shines? Did I run enough time on the treadmill? I can’t stop. I have tried. I’m guilty of beating myself up or listening to negative people.

My studio allows me to escape though. When I am there designing I can embrace the beauty of imperfection. I am free of the chaos around me and I am allowed to just let my creative juices flow. It feels so liberating at times and I am grateful for every moment.

This necklace was created in one of those special moments. I love dragonflies because they remind me of the ever constant state of change. We all have the option to grow and become better individuals or to continue to be stuck in fear. Dragonflies remind us to live with joy and lightness of being. A beautiful dragonfly visited me while making this necklace. It reminded me to be adaptable and always look for ways to change and grow.

My Transcend necklace is currently being showcased at Harris Center Art Gallery.

Thank you so much for visiting!

Doing more of what makes me happy

I know I have been radio silent of late. I am still here. Learning more techniques and making more jewelry. This is one of my latest creations. The necklace is made with a copper backing, a frame of bronze and set in a fine silver bezel. The stone is a kaleidoscope jasper and the cabochon is handmade by me.

I wanted to learn the art of lapidary and about stone properties so I joined the El Dorado County Mineral and Gem Society.
Here are the basic steps. Start with a rock. Clamp the rock inside a slab saw. The saw has a diamond blade and cuts very slowly. 
Here is the rock cut open. How cool right??
Now you keep the rock in the slab saw and just move it over with a hand crank to cut a slab. Here is an example of one I purchased at a gem show. It’s called Lavic siding jasper.
Now once you have your slab ready, you use a template and a permanent sharpie to draw your shape. In this picture I have already drawn the shape, cut the stone with a trim saw and attached it to a dop stick.
 I have also started rounding it with an arbor. The wheels of the arbor have different diamond grits, and you keep going up in grits like sandpaper.
Here you see a pro at work. Tony is finishing up a turquoise cab and getting it ready to be polished.
Some more of my finished cabs.
This weekend we are going on a field trip to hunt for smokey quartz crystals! 
Oh no. It’s official, I have turned into my mom! Whatever, who cares when you are having this much fun right?

My first ring!

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I want to wish everyone a happy new year! 
For the past few weeks I have been busy in the studio creating new jewelry. One piece I wanted to share is a new ring design. I love the way the black onyx contrasts with the sterling silver.

This Lotus ring is a talisman for me to the changes I wish to make this year. Over the next few weeks I will be listing new designs to my website. I will also be converting my Etsy store to sandblasted supplies, including sandblasted new cabochons. I’m looking forward to this year!

Thank you for reading!

Cedar wall for booth display & New designs

UPDATE: I recently did a tutorial on Love My Art Jewelry on how to make this wall here: TUTORIAL

I wanted to share our new cedar wall for craft fairs and also new jewelry designs. When doing craft fairs I had two tables opposite each other in my 10′ tent and I noticed it was very crowded and people would just walk by my tent and not enter. I wanted to make my tent more inviting, cozy and have more room to display jewelry.

The cedar wall is in three pieces and because cedar is so light they are easy to move around. I want to do a tutorial on how we did it BUT I am still sketchy about it’s construction. My hubby reassures me that it’s not going anywhere and he is probably right but it still freaks me out when the wind blows and my whole booth rocks back and forth. We are scheduled in December for another craft fair so I will see how that goes. If it still stands and doesn’t knock over other booths or worse, crush a customer (haha) I will post a tutorial.
I sure do love this wall though! The mirror with the shutters was a magnet for customers and I sold so many earrings I couldn’t keep it full. I had maybe two or three left when the fair was over! The doors open and close and my tags have the prices on the back so customers just look behind the door for prices. The wall was a success too because customers were able to move around better and I think that helped with sales. It’s still not exactly how I want it (of course), but I have learned a lot about booth design and selling at craft fairs. IT IS NOT EASY for sure! Your have to contend with flies, heat, cold, grumpy customers, grumpy vendors (me sometimes). Overall though, I really do enjoy meeting new people, making new friends, and getting good feedback on my jewelry and booth display. Here is a picture of the other side.
It is still a work in progress. I would like a large carved wooden leaf laying on the table to put jewelry in but I yet to find one that I really like. Here is the overall floorplan that I work from. 
Now for new jewelry! I have been taking a metalsmith class at my local community college and have created some very interesting pieces! I wanted to learn how to set my sandblasted stones in bezels and I have one design where I did just that. I am very proud of this piece! A cherry creek jasper stone is sandblasted with my grape leaves design and then set is a bezel made of fine silver and bronze. I will be making more designs like this and they will be part of a new product line I will be offering!
This is my very first cabochon setting. The stone is a ribbon turquoise and made by a local artisan. I love how it has a yin yang symbol in the stone and I tried to accentuate it by sawing out a scroll leaf pattern in the metal. I am still learning this technique too!
The soldering has been my biggest challenge because I have a hard time figuring out the amount of flux to heat, blah blah blah. I am still struggling but I hope to master the technique someday! Here are some other designs utilizing techniques learned in class.

 Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and have a wonderful day!