Sunday, February 27, 2011

"The Ivy Green" Necklaces

THE IVY GREEN by Charles Dickens

"Oh, a dainty plant is the Ivy green,
That creepeth o'er ruins old!
Of right choice food are his meals, I ween,
In his cell so lone and cold.
The wall must be crumbled, the stone decayed,
To pleasure his dainty whim:
And the mouldering dust that years have made
Is a merry meal for him.
Creeping where no life is seen,
A rare old plant is the Ivy green. ..."

I've always liked Charles Dickens' poem "The Ivy Green" with its images of the verdant leaves creeping over dilapidated ruins.  Watching Dylan try to swing, like Tarzan, on our ivy in the backyard reminded me of these large leaf elements that I've had for some time.

Click here to purchase the necklace with the sterling silver leaf.

Click here to purchase the necklace with the carved jade leaf.

Fruity Inspiration

When Jake came in with a handful of blood oranges from his tree, I was inspired by the bright colors, both sanguine and sunny.  Gorgeous.  I forbade him from slicing all of them until I could photograph a necklace that matched them. 

"Where's the necklace?" he queried.

"In my head," I admitted.

He groan, "Oh, brother."

"No, seriously, give me an hour." 

And he did...just.  As soon as I photographed the pieces, this last orange was sliced and devoured.

I used magenta and orange druzy agate nuggets, recycled red and orange glass, orange turquoise, and garnet rounds to create this one-of-a-kind necklace.  For the focal point, I opted for a small sterling silver flower that reminded me of delicate orange blossom.

A New Necklace with Every Outfit

Okay, I'm not quite that bad - a new necklace with every outfit - but I am pretty bad.  I have necklaces in every color of the rainbow and then some; and I have necklaces to go with all of our crazy themed-parties.  I began selling my pieces to justify the expense of my jewelry habit!

This weekend I finished two pieces for myself and two to sell.  And I have a few more that are almost finished for the website.  That's better than a 1:2 ratio.  Not too selfish, right?

I came across this sterling silver gnome charm, pairing it with a mushroom-shaped agate druzy to form a large pendant. 

I made it specifically for Jake's birthday dinner in April - I'm hosting 'A Fungi Feast for My Fun Guy!' - but I love the warm, earthy tones of the druzy and will be wearing it tons before and after the event.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Photo Props and Noticeable Flaws

When I was at the grocery store, I found a little watermelon and thought: I need to reshoot my watermelon tourmaline necklace with a prop.  Much better!  BUT in the sunlight I noticed a crack/chip/flaw in the stone that I hadn't noticed before.  Argh.  So I discounted the necklace by twenty-percent.  Bummer!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Luscious Watermelon Tourmaline Necklace

A couple of weeks ago, I purchased two watermelon tourmaline briolettes and excitedly waited for some time to create something with them.  But one of the briolettes had a massive inclusion that had not been noted in the description; thankfully the gem-monger let me exchange it for something else.  So, in the end, I only had one piece if watermelon tourmaline to use. 

One of the things that so appealed to me about this gem: it is two-toned, rich green and lucscious magenta.  When I agonzied over which color to use - either pink, red, or green - I decided that I wanted to use both red and green to create this one-of-a-kind piece.

I handwired the watermelon tourmaline with textured sterling silver beads that reminded me of the striped fruit, garnet rondelles, garnet rounds, garnet ovals, and green aventurine rounds with sterling silver and incorporated some repurposed oxidized sterling silver chain.  The necklace closes in the rear with a sterling silver lobster clasp.

To purchase this necklace, click here.

Oh, sugar. Oh, honey, honey!

I bought these gorgeous druzy agate nuggets and that song by, The Archies, immediately popped into my head: "Oh, sugar. Oh, honey, honey!" 

The nuggets have pale veins running through the warm, golden stones that reminded me of honeycomb.  Then the dusting of druzy crystals, like sugar, sealed the inspiration.  I created this one-of-a-kind neckace with one large honeycomb druzy agate nugget handwired with recycled glass in two shades of yellow, Dangling below that is a pale calcite teardrop with a sterling silver bee charm.

Drusy, Druzy, Druse...

Drusy, druzy, druse.  These are all different spellings for the same phenomenon: tiny quartz crystals that formed within or on the surface of other stones. 

How it's formed:  When ground water carrying dissolved silica is forced into a porous area of a rock, rapid cooling often occurs, causing the formation of tiny crystals on the surfaces or in cavities of the rock. The clear crystals often form on top of previously deposited minerals.

What it means to me as a jewelry-maker:   I love the texture.  It's like a dusting of sugar.  I tend to purchase druzy nuggets, big and luscious, and use them as focal points for my pieces.  I just picked up some druzy agate in shades of orange.

Look for some pieces soon.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tulip + All Shades of Denim = All Mine

Everyone has seen pink tulips and red tulips, yellow tulips and white tulips; there are even green tulips.  But the only shade of tulip that doesn't seem to exist is blue.  Even tulips with 'blue' in their names - 'Blue Ribbon', 'Blue Champion', 'Blue Parrot' - are more purple than blue or are a deep indigo.

Still I decided that I needed to make a blue tulip necklace to keep for myself and I wanted to use all the shades of denim that I could muster so it would pair nicely with another favorite of mine - comfortable blue jeans.  Here's what I created...

A heavily-plated sterling silver (over brass) tulip bead cap is handwired with faceted iolite rondelles, a denim-colored freshwater pearl, recycled teal glass, hematite rounds, and hefty faceted nuggets of aquamarine to form this one-of-a-kind necklace. It closes in the rear with a sterling silver lobster clasp...and it's mine, all mine!  But if you like these colors, let me know, and I'll happily create a similar piece just for you.

Tulipa 'Burgundy Lace'

'Burgundy Lace' tulips are a rich wine color with magenta highlights.  Fabulous colors.  But my favorite part of this tulip is its delicately fringed petals.  They inspired this piece and I used crystal-encrusted druzy nuggets to add texture to this necklace.

A heavily-plated sterling silver (over brass) tulip bead cap is handwired with magenta jade, cabernet freshwater pearls, recycled deep red glass, garnet rounds, Swarovski crystals and hefty faceted nuggets of burgundy druzy agate to form this one-of-a-kind necklace. It closes in the rear with a sterling silver heart-motif toggle.

Click here to purchase this necklace on

Tulipmania - Tulipa 'Sweetheart'

I have been afflicted with tulipmania since I was a child, lived in Holland, and visited the Keukenhof Garden in Lisse with my parents.  Granted, I had this false vision that tulips were gigantic - skewed by the fact that I was only five-years-old and a petite five-year-old at that - but their elegance and beauty are unmistakable; I have loved them for years.  I love the textures, the colors, even the names:
  • 'Aperitif'

  • 'Apricot Beauty'

  • 'Flaming Parrot'

  • 'Oriental Splendor'

  • 'Pink Diamond'

  • 'Pink Impression'

  • 'Salmon Parrot'

  • 'Scarlet Pimpernel'

  • I've had a bunch of these tulip bead caps for awhile, but was waiting for inspiration to strike. It did. So finally, I went to work, creating these completely unique pieces.

    Here's the first one...
    A heavily-plated sterling silver (over brass) tulip bead cap is handwired with bronze freshwater pearls, chocolate jade, recycled yellow glass, smoky quartz, and citrine chunks to form this one-of-a-kind necklace. It closes in the rear with a sterling silver lobster clasp.

    Click here to purchase this necklace on

    Saturday, February 12, 2011

    Rose, Rose, Rose, Rose...

    "Rose, Rose, Rose, Rose
    Will I ever see thee wed?
    I shall marry thee at thy will, sire
    At thy will

    Rose, Rose, Rose, Rose,
    Wilt thou never marry me?
    Ah, marry that I will,
    If thou but stay."

    I remember this song from a drama class I took through the Lyceum when I was a kid.  Something about this traditional ditty stuck with me and I found myself humming the melody while I made this one-of-a-kind lariat.  Click here to purchase this piece through my etsy site.

    A sterling silver rose charm, recycled red glass, red freshwater pearls, and red jade handwired with sterling silver form this simple lariat, closing in the front by feeding the rose through a sterling silver hoop.

    Happy Valentines' to Me!

    I think it was all my time as a florist in Berkeley, but I truly despised Valentines' Day for many years.  And though I've softened towards the holiday, Jake knows better than to get me red roses and chocolate.  His solution to the Valentine's Day gift quandry: I get to make my own present!

    This year I was inspired by Jake carving our initials into an aspen tree near Blue Lake during a camping trip last summer.  I never knew how cheesy my husband could be - until that afternoon - and, despite my horror at him cutting into a living tree, I decided to commemorate that event with a sterling silver charm from Bonbon Charms - custom sterling charms by Erica Clements out of Eugene, Oregon.

    I recycled some sterling silver toggles from old necklaces that I don't wear anymore and hand-wired the charms with oxidized sterling wire and chain.  Faceted golden pyrite pillows add some warmth to the pieces.

    Happy Valentines' Day to me!

    Sunday, February 6, 2011

    Red Lotus Necklace, Inspired by a Cocktail

    When one of my friends - Jenn Erickson of Rook No. 17 - posted a recipe for a Red Lotus Martini on her blog, I was intrigued.  And I finally knew what to do with a sterling silver lotus blossom charm that I have had in my box of supplies!

    I handwired the sterling silver charm with beads in two shades of red recycled glass and a tiny garnet round to form this one of a kind pendant and suspended it on a simple sterling silver chain.  The necklace closes with a sterling silver lobster clasp.

    I will be listing this necklace on etsy soon.  Until then, here's Jenn's Red Lotus Martini recipe.  Cheers!

    Red Lotus Martini
    makes 2 martinis

    Slice of lemon & red sugar for garnish
    Cocktail Shaker
    Handful of ice
    8 oz. Red Lotus Punch*
    2 oz. Vodka
    1 Lychee fruit on a decorative pick for garnish

    Prepare two martini glasses by rubbing the rims with the lemon slice.  Then, dunk rim in a shallow dish filled with the red sugar.  

    In a cocktail shaker, put ice, punch, and vodka.  Cover and shake.  Pour in to prepared martini glasses and garnish with one of the lychees from the punch and a decorative pick.
    *Red Lotus Punch (makes one large pitcher)
    64 oz. Cranberry Cocktail
    1 15 oz. can Lychee Fruit (found in the Asian food section of most markets)
    1 1/4 cups Passion Fruit Juice
    1/3 cup Grenadine (good quality pomegranate based, rather than high fructose based)

    Put all ingredients in a large pitcher, including the fruit & juice from the can of Lychees.  Rest  in the refrigerator for several hours before serving, to allow time for the flavors to marry.

    Friday, February 4, 2011

    Mouth-Watering Watermelon Tourmaline

    Every now and then I come across a gem that just makes me swoon.  For awhile I was enamoured with deep-sea hued kyanite, then it was bright pumpkin-y carnelian. 

    But I recently came across watermelon tourmaline and was instantly smitten. 

    What's not to love?!  Watermelon + Tourmaline. Food and jewelry colliding. My mind immediately began thinking about what I would pair with this succulent gem.  I could go with pink, or green, or a combination of both.  So, naturally, I purchased a couple of pieces and will be making something soon.  Keep your eyes peeled.

    About watermelon tourmaline...
    The watermelon tourmaline is a rare variety that displays three different colors in the same crystal - green (the skin of the watermelon), pink (the sweet fruit) and white (the rind). 

    Thursday, February 3, 2011

    Au revoir!

    Through my etsy store, I had my very first overseas sale today.  So, I am packing up and shipping off my 'Pomegranate Promise' necklace to a buyer in France.  It's somewhat wistful because it's one of my favorite pieces.  Unlike my husband who doesn't like any of his finished paintings, I love all of my jewelry.  I suppose that's why I started this venture in the first place; I had to justify my constant acquiring of beads and baubles. 

    So, I bid au revoir to this piece and hope that the French woman who purchased it will love it as much as I do. 

    One positive thing: it's a sale...and a sale to someone who doesn't know me or isn't somehow connected to me by word of mouth.  It's simply someone who saw this piece online and liked my work.  I'm extremely happy about that.

    Wednesday, February 2, 2011

    A Parliament of Owls

    A friend told me that she was looking for a birthday present for her daughter. 

    The two requirements: owls and bright blue.  Here's what I came up with... sterling silver owl charms handwired with recycled cobalt glass beads and bright blue freshwater pearls. 

    Hope she likes it.

    Healing Words of Honey

    "Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones."
    Proverbs 16:24

    Last September one of my husband's cousins committed suicide.  Twenty-nine years old.  And as hard as it's been on the entire family, two hearts are particularly broken - those of Sam's mom and his sister.  I wanted to create pieces for them that fosters peace and lets them know that they have our thoughts and prayers...always.  Jessica received a rose quartz necklace with a sterling silver prayer box.  But I struggled with what to make for Aunt Chris. 

    So when I read that proverb,  I found a sterling silver bee charm and made this for her.  The sterling silver bee charm is the focal point of this necklace in various shades of honey.  Citrine, calcite, recycled yellow glass, and lemon quartz are all handwired with sterling silver to form this one-of-a-kind necklace.  Nothing can take away the pain of losing a child, but - hopefully - this will remind her that she will heal.

    A Green Ribbon For Leukemia and Lymphoma Awareness

    When a good friend of mine was diagnosed with non-hodgkins lymphoma in his mid-30s,  Leukemia and Lymphoma Awareness became an issue close to my heart.  Another friend is beginning her sixth season of fundraising, through Team in Training, for leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma research.  Binzee is in remission, in large part, to this research! 

    As a thank you to Aimee, I created this lariat and earring set: recycled green glass and green glass are handwired with sterling silver to make this one-of-a-kind necklace and earrings.  Thank you for all you're doing for this cause!

    *Facts and statistics from Leukemia, Lymphoma, Myeloma Facts 2010-2011

    Every 4 minutes one person is diagnosed with a blood cancer.  Every ten minutes, someone dies from a blood cancer. This statistic represents nearly 148 people each day, or more than six people every hour. Leukemia causes more deaths than any other cancer among children and young adults under the age of 20. In general, the likelihood of dying from most types of leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma decreased from 1998 to 2007 (the most recent data available).

    If you would like to donate to Aimee's fundraising efforts, please click here.  She'll thank you and I thank you.