A little late with this post – but still in the game

I’ve joined my friend Lisa (Beadsoul) in her challenge to make one new thing each day in July. And while I’ve been busy (with real work – the kind that pays the bills), I have been working on some new jewelry pieces here and there. (Some has already gone into the shop in Ambler, PA that sells my stuff). So I’m playing a little catch-up here. A few samples of what I’ve done lately….

First up – (and they haven’t seen these yet – so shhhhhhh!) I made hand-stamped name necklaces for my two nieces with the names of my great-niece and great-nephew on them.

Copper Name Necklace

Copper Name Necklace

Dazzling lime green quartz earrings

Dazzling lime green quartz earrings

Then I found these incredible almost-neon bright lime green quartz crystals, and wrapped them in silver plated wire that I studded with teeny tiny dichroic seed beads and finished with handmade sterling silver ear wires.

Adjustable Sterling Silver hammered bangle bracelet

Adjustable Sterling Silver hammered bangle bracelet

This sweet little sterling silver bangle bracelet is somewhat adjustable – you can squeeze it to make it tighter on your wrist.

And finally, another pair of dangle earrings. What makes these a little different from the rest is that I “decorated” the handmade silver ear wires with tiny beads. You like?

Blue Lampwork Earrings With "decorated" Sterling Silver ear wires.

Blue Lampwork Earrings With “decorated” Sterling Silver ear wires.

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Hammered Sterling Silver Earrings - Double spirals with perky polka dot lampwork beads

The Challenge Goes On….and On

I’ve taken up the challenge from my friend (the talented jewelry maker Lisa at Beadsoul) to make one new item every day during July.

The thought being, it will give us both a good hear start on pre-holiday stuff.

So….here’s my next installment on that plan:
Double spiral hammered  sterling silver earrings with perky little black and white polka dot lampwork beads

(I purchased from the artist who made them…i didn’t make them).

I soldered one sterling silver spiral…and the other one ends in a loop that attaches to the soldered spiral. Ear wires are handmade sterling silver as well (yes, by me.)

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Amazonite Earrings

What Kind Of Stone Is That? My Take On Turquoise, Amazonite and Howlite

As my jewelry has been evolving, so has my taste in materials. I am having fun mixing metals, soldering, riveting and the like. I’ve also changed many of my “splashes of color” from handmade artisan beads to gemstones – semi-precious, mostly. I bought myself two guides to identifying gemstones and am actually starting to recognize some at shows I go to.

As I become more interested in using copper in my work, I find myself reaching more for blue or green stones to pair with it. And I have started searching out turquoise, amazonite and howlite.

TURQUOISE natural turquoise is found in many parts of the world. In the U.S., there are (or were) several mines in the Nevada area where the turquoise is highly prized and can be quite pricey. I have several pieces (small) of Number 8 Turquoise from Eureka County, Nevada. This mine has no longer producing turquoise, but there is a reserve of it that is slowly being sold. Once this is gone, that’s it for this beautiful stone celebrated for the golden brown to black distinctive spider web matrix and its vivid blue color. Another mine – the Sleeping Beauty mine in Nevada – also produces highly collectible turquoise. Kingman Turquoise, from Arizona, has a deep, intense blue color. Dry Creek Turquoise is very rare – it is the palest turquoise in the world. In many cultures, turquoise is a holy stone, a bringer of good fortune or a talisman.

Something to keep in mind – there is a lot of man-made turquoise out there. Generally, a stone with a uniform color is not natural turquoise. Also – there is no such thing as purple turquoise. That is a stone that has been dyed or treated.

AMAZONITE  is found in the United States, Brazil, Zimbabwe, Russia, Australia, Namibia. It is usually light green to blue-green, mottled and sometimes contains light striations. It is sometimes confused with turquoise, but I find the green to be very distinctive. The more you see of it, I think you’ll agree. It reminds me of a color I might see in the Caribbean.

Amazonite Ring by fat dog beads

Top: Number 8 Turquoise
Center: Dyed Howlite
Bottom: Amazonite

According to legend, Amazonite is said to enhance creative expression and improve self-worth. Amazonite is considered a soothing stone that offers confidence is called the “hope stone” because it inspires confidence and hope. One source says it is useful to activate lazy teenagers. Not sure about that one!

Dyed Howlite Copper Pronged Ring by fat dog beads

HOWLITE is a soft, light mineral with a chalky white color that is very porous, and therefore easily dyed. In most cases, it is dyed light blue to resemble turquoise. It has been found in large quantities in California, and is reasonably priced.

According to some meditation forms that use crystals as focus points, undyed howlite can be an excellent means of concentration. Some believe it is highly stress relieving and is recommended as a means of quieting insomnia. Some crystal users suggest that the mineral helps balance calcium levels in the body, and acts as an absorbent for negative energy. It is also said to correspond with the Zodiac sign Gemini. Another source says, “place a howlite stone in your pocket to absorb your own anger – or another’s anger that is directed toward you. It helps to overcome critical or selfish behaviour.” All good stuff, right?

NOTE: be aware that some not-so-honest gemstone dealers DO try to palm off dyed Howlite as Turquoise.

Have you worked with any of these stones? Would love to see what you’ve created! Send pics!

Bling, Rings & Other Things – Bad Blogger Chronicles Are Back!

So – how was your summer? I:

(1) went on a few trips – nothing big, but loads of fun.

(2) went to Beadfest in August and have been trying lots of new things (jewelry-wise) since then

Dance More Mixed Metal Message Bangle Bracelet

Dance More – a mixed metal message bangle bracelet

(3) need to start spending more time on my real job (freelance copywriter with a little bitty ad agency) so I can pay for all the fun I had this summer

(4) set up a “studio B” in my almost-cleaned-out garage so my torch, LOS solution and pickle, and rolling mill have a home. (And boy is it easier to just run out there and do something quickly than to have to clear a space and set everything up!

(5) I rejoined Artfire for a few months. They have a special 3-month deal going. Want to see if I can sell anything from there. Etsy keeps changing things (and not that I’m opposed to change) it just seems to be a constant struggle – and so time-consuming – to try to get noticed there.

(6) Cutting back substantially on Tophatter. They have significantly raised their fees – and now charge even more fees. Honestly, I was maybe breaking even before – selling most of my stuff at a huge discount. But with the fees – I am definitely losing money. So as much as I enjoyed the instant gratification, I just can’t afford to “play” there anymore.

(7) Realize that I am too late for some of the bigger, better december holiday craft fairs in my area. Have to start looking into them by Sept 1st at the latest.

So here’s what I have been working on lately….and also what seems to be my biggest sellers.

wire wrapped Swarovski rose gold earrings

Stunning Swarovski Rosaline Gold Earrings

More Rings….

Amazonite and copper ring

Amazonite and copper ring I made for daughter Emily

 

Bad Blogger Chronicles: 4 Frenetic Days Spent at BeadFest Philly Spring

I overindulged again at Beadfest Philly. Too  many classes. Too much money spent on impulse buys. Too  much information for my little brain to process. And yet, there’s a smile on my face…my worktable is overflowing with lovely new shiny beads and stones. Have to clean out my tool drawer to make room for newcomers. And I am already starting to think about what classes I want to take in August.

THE GOOD:

• Really, really liked all four instructors. All very talented crafts(wo)men. All wonderfully patient and freely sharing jewelry making tips and favorite places to get great tools, supplies at great prices. Had only taken a previous class from one instructor – so the others were new. Would certainly recommend them and/or take another class from them in the future.

• Vendor area was smaller than in August – and it was easier to re-trace my steps to find the same vendor again if I wanted more of something, or had questions. (note to self: when you buy any sort of gemstone, bead, etc. make sure you write down WHAT it is. Had to go back to two booths the day after I bought some stuff because I couldn’t remember what kind of stone it was. No way I’d remember months from now when I go to pick it up and actually make something with it.)

Gorgeous - but pricey - Quartz Briolettes

Gorgeous - but pricey - Quartz Briolettes

• Saw more chairs on the floor this year. And there was a package check (which I didn’t need to use, since my stuff was in a classroom most days). Both good ideas. Lots of older folks walking around. Chairs were helpful.

• Beadfest organizers actually provided some snacks/water to some of the classrooms. Very nice touch And very welcome.

• The people – whether in class, or on the floor, everyone I met was friendly and helpful.

THE NOT-SO-GOOD:

• Once again (actually – happened twice) – I was in such a hurry to clean up my work areas and leave at the end of class, I left things there. First time, I actually threw out the two pairs of earrings I had made. Luckily, I had the instructor’s cell number. Was able to get her to pull the trash so it wouldn’t be emptied, and I planned on going through it the next day. Lucky for me, one of her very kind assistants went through and found my earrings (YAY!).

Second time – we were making a bracelet with about 7 pieces plus jump rings. Placed all the pieces in the liver of sulfur solution. Pulled them out and started cleaning them. Tossed them in a plastic bag to finish at home, and realized later (much later) that I left two pieces there.

In both cases however, I was able to recreate what I learned in class. So even if earrings hadn’t been found…it would be okay. (Bracelet pieces – they’re gone.) So let’s chalk this experience up to lack of concentration and focus on my part. (When will I ever learn???)

• Four classes in four days is too much. Two of the classes were all day – from 8 am to 4:30 pm. I was glassy-eyed by the end. It was information overload.

• One class was a disappointment only because I already knew at least 3/4’s of what was being taught.  (Note to self: read the course description better next time). I take these courses to learn new techniques, play with new tools, learn better ways to do things.

• I am too easily distracted by shiny things. Need to get better control over my impulse buying.

WHAT I BOUGHT:

• Biggest indulgence: a Freitz hammer. It is sooooooooo sexy (yeah. if you have one, you know what I mean.) This is NOT the hammer that will be used to bang in a loose board on my IKEA bureau. I may end up looking at this hammer more than using it.

• Most expensive purchase: I bought a sterling silver handmade bracelet from my instructor – Kim St. Jean.  It is just friggin’ gorgeous!

Kim St. Jean Bracelet Watch

Kim St. Jean Bracelet Watch

• Most questionable purchase: (after the Freitz hammer) – very high quality blue, sea foam and pink quartz briolettes. The crystal ones I found sparkle almost as much for a lot less.

• What I didn’t buy and I wish I did: gorgeous handmade, hand-dyed silk ribbons. I didn’t buy because of the cost. Could buy a sterling silver chain for what the ribbons cost. Hard to justify the cost if I planned on selling the finished project.

WHAT SURPRISED ME THE MOST:

• Lots of men walking around at the show. Most with a female companion (not all looked happy to be there). And one man in one of my classes. Not saying men can’t make jewelry. Just surprised to see them in class. (My husband says that is discriminatory.)

• Too many of the same vendors – and was really surprised by the number who didn’t have websites.

WHAT I DID THAT I VOWED I WOULDN’T:
• Buy more Swarovski crystals. I have sooooooo many. But oh! how they shimmer and shine at that Mega-Gems (Mega-Jewels?) booth.

Swarovski Crystals

Swarovski Crystals

• Start looking at the August list of classes. Can’t believe I’m about to sign up to do all over again.

Beat The Blahs! Private Jewelry Sale Thru end of February!

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                                                                                                February Newsletter #2

Bobbi Helms • 4031 La France Rd. • Lafayette Hill, PA 19444 • bobbihelms@yahoo.com

Blah Days mean SALE DAYS!
il_570xN.300895822Hi all! 

I”ll be the first to admit it. I am not a big February fan. It”s usually a pretty gray, drab dreary time of the year. A good time to take stock of what has been sitting in my work space – taking up space – and do something to get it moving!  I think it”s time for a SALE!  A whopping-limited-time-till end-of-February

25% OFF SALE!
(can I hear a big
“woo-hoo!”)

(example: the  bracelet shown here WAS $65.00.  NOW: $48.75)
Please note: 
this is a PRIVATE SALE! Only those who get this newsletter will know about the sale. You must use the coupon code PRIVATE if you are purchasing through etsy. Or, you can browse the etsy shop – deduct 25% from the price and just send me a check.)
Please visit my etsy shop HERE

EVERYTHING WILL BE ON SALE UNTIL FEBRUARY 29th! EVERYTHING!!!!!

Some Examples Of The Savings You”ll Find:

DSC08898 2$18.00
NOW $13.50
il_75x75.173707221$66.00
NOW $49.50
il_75x75.300895456 2$44.00
NOW $33.00
Remember: you MUST use
the coupon PRIVATE if you are ordering thru etsy.com.
Or – just send me a check and drop me an email letting me know what you want. Now – GO SHOP!

See All The Goodies HERE!

il_75x75.300896408

  $32.00
NOW $24.00
il_75x75.255475528$26.35
NOW $19.50
il_75x75.300896488$15.00
NOW $11.25
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

More Sale Examples:
• Pumpkin Orange Spice Pendant WAS $19. NOW $14.25
• Cobalt Blue Lariat Necklace WAS $44. NOW $33
• Aqua Blue Sparkle Bracelet – Sterling Silver –
WAS $61. NOW $45.75
• Hammered Sterling SIlver Hoop Earrings WAS $20.
NOW $15
No go out there and SHOP!!!!!!

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Bad Blogger Chronicles: Would It Hurt To Try Something New?

 

 

Naaahhhh. New is good. New is different. New can be fun and exciting (and you can always go back to old if you really want to.) So my challenge the week is to focus on doing, trying, attempting something new. Let’s face it – we all live very happily in our comfort zones…all wrapped up in “same ol’, same ol.”  But trust me – taking just a few steps away from what you routinely do/eat/experience can be a very empowering thing.

Case In Point #1 – what’s for dinner?

I started hanging around Pinterest – an impossibly engrossing site where people “pin” or post photos of things in a certain group. Dogs, jewelry, interior decorating, pocketbooks, whatever. I’ve discovered some amazing “lite” type weight watchers recipes that I’ve started to print out and try. My husband is loving it – while he generally will eat anything I put in front of him, it’s nice to see his reaction when I try out new (and hopefully yummy things).

Tried this week:  Spicy Shrimp Fried Rice (excellent!) & Sweet n Sour Turkey Meatloaf (good but needs more seasoning)   Shrimp Fried Rice recipe is from a site called SkinnyTaste.com   Recipe is at end of post.

Case in Point #2 – what else can you do?

As you probably already know, I make jewelry. It is my hobby. It is my stress-relief. It makes me happy. But sometimes, it makes me frustrated. Because I get bored doing the same things over and over again…or I see something someone made that I think I can change in a way to make it even better. So instead of just sitting here and doing NOTHING (something I’ve become quite adept at over the years), I decided to try my hand at doing something I haven’t done before. In this case, I wanted to make a pair of sterling silver earrings – one-piece – no earwire necessary…and add some colorful beads to them too. Here’s what I came up with…

 

 

So how about you? Anything new you’d like to try?

 

Spicy Shrimp Fried Rice
Gina’s Weight Watcher Recipes
Servings: 4 • Size: 1-1/2 cups • Old Points: 6 pts • Points+: 8 pts
Calories: 307.3 • Fat: 7.0 g • Protein: 22.7 g • Carb: 37.4 g • Fiber: 3.5 g

  • 3 cups brown rice cooked
  • 1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined (peeled weight is .75 lb)
  • 2 egg whites, scrambled
  • 1 whole egg, scrambled
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 5 scallions, chopped, whites and greens separated
  • oil spray
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil with cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
  • 4 tsp soy sauce (or more to taste)
  • 1 tsp Asian fish sauce
  • salt and fresh pepper
  • (I added sugar snap peas to this, too)

In a bowl, season shrimp with cayenne pepper, chili powder, paprika, salt, pepper and garlic powder.

Scramble eggs with a drop of water and season with salt and pepper. In a hot wok, spray a little oil and cook the eggs. When cooked, remove from pan and set aside.

Let the wok get really hot. Add sesame oil and saute onions, scallion whites, garlic and hot pepper flakes for about 1-2 minutes. Add shrimp and saute until no longer translucent. Add rice and cooked egg along with soy sauce and fish sauce, mixing well for about 2 minutes. Add greens of the scallions and serve