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.)

DSC04472

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!

Hope Strength Necklace

My OOOPS Moment…Plan B Is Looking Better

Yesterday I decided it was time I started working with bezels again. I picked out a gorgeous teardrop shaped moonstone, textured and patterned a piece of copper and got a lovely closed seam on the silver bezel. Then it was time to solder the bezel to the copper. Got a gorgeous seal. Was sooooo excited. Too excited to notice that I had just soldered the bezel upside down and backward.
(sighhhhhhh…..)
Time for Plan B.
I cut out the offending upside down bezel..added some stamped words, a rivet, and folded down part of the copper. Hmmm…taking shape as part of a necklace. What else? Strung it on an antiqued piece of brass wire I was saving for a bracelet, added some copper, brass and silver plated beads, two lovely cobalt lamp work beads, and a little bit of coiled wire.
Here’s what I ended up with – unfinished – but with possibilities. Have to mull a bit as to what, and how, to attach it to to finish it off.
But – Moral of the Story: Mistakes happen. Work with them.

Any finishing off suggestions?

Back from Beadfest 2012

Prong Set Sterling Silver Ring made in Kim St. Jean’s class

So it’s been a while since I’ve blogged (bad, bad blogger!) And I admit I kept deleting the monday morning reminders that said “Write blog.” But I also admit I was busy, busy, busy – working at the “real” job…and also trying to get some new stuff into my etsy shop and prepare for an upcoming Irish festival I’ll be selling at. (Anything you need to know about Celtic symbols or phrases, ask away – I’ve been studying up!)
Anyway….finally something to write about: Beadfest 2012 is over. And of course I spent oodles of time and money during the 5 days it was here.
WHAT WAS NEW:
• seemed like a lot more vendors this year. Too many, IMHO. Got to the point I was just walking up and down the aisles with no idea of where I was or what I was looking for.

more artisans this year – that was really nice. Got to meet Heather Behrendt from HeatherBehrendtGlass. Have been buying beads from her for quite a while. Nice to finally put a face to the artist! Hope she did well at the show.

more classrooms – and therefore, more classes. But for what I was interested in, too many classes were the same from before. We need new stuff Beadfest people!

What I Did That Was Good:

• I came with a list this year.

• I wrote down the names of all the different gemstones I bought so I would remember once I got home.

• I was more aware of my prices – to know what was a good buy, and what wasn’t.

What I Did That Wasn’t:

• Once again, I got way too distracted by shiny, shimmery things. Bought tons of pricey (but IMHO good value) gemstones and lots of inexpensive ones too.

• I didn’t take the time to really, carefully, look at each gemstone on the strand. Some had small imperfections that mean I won’t use them in any jewelry I sell.

• I got sucked into the hype over the beautiful-but-expensive-hammers at the beautiful-but-expensive-hammer booth. (Yup, ordered another one)

What Classes Were Really Worthwhile:

• Took 4 classes with 3 different instructors. Two of the instructors – I’d follow anywhere: Kim St. Jean and Tracy Stanley. They make learning fun…and are really good at SHOWING you how to do something so you can do it yourself. Even when you get stuck (which I always do) they TALK you through doing it yourself rather than do it for you. So you leave their classes not just with knowledge–but with self-confidence. I’ve already re-created several bangles to sell at the upcoming Irish Festival (SLAINTE!). The rings – need more practice on. And need to practice with copper, not sterling silver!! (bad Bobbi….)

Bangles with a Message – Tracy Stanley- I made two to have all 4 of my grandkid’s names on them

What Class I Will Never Take Again:

• A chain-maille type class. Ohmigod! Sitting there for 1 1/2 hours counting out jump rings and putting them together in an intricate pattern is NOT ME!!! After we did the larger practice copper jump ring pattern, we were supposed to start on the smaller, sterling silver jump ring pattern. I left the class early – knowing I would be trying to figure out a way to slit my wrists with those open jumprings if I had to sit there any longer. (Though I did get a neatsy-keen jump ring opener that you wear like a ring on your finger while you worked. That was ALMOST worth taking the class.) Chain maille is much too precise for me. I am definitely a free-form type of girl.

My Favorite Purchases:

• Mystic Topaz, Ametrine and some amazing Labradorite briolettes.

Ametrine, Mystic Topaz & Labradorite

• An awesome butane torch from Kim St. Jean that she says is sold in Costco or BJ’s down south near her.

• Some moonstones – ooooh! love the blue flash in them

• Really cool torched and patina’d copper beads and spacers (but whew! were they pricey!!!)

My Least Favorite Purchases:

• The same mystic topaz beads from above – when I examined them more closely

• The chicken salad wrap from the food court there. (note: strips of chicken with some mayo thrown on top is NOT chicken salad!)

Will I be back next year? Oh yeah……..

Torch Enameling (and Sawing) with Kim St. Jean

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.

Gallery

Bad Blogger Chronicles: Late Again….Here’s Why

This gallery contains 10 photos.

Bad, bad Blogger Bobbi! Seems I have time for work/play with pups/cooking fabulous Valentine’s Day dinner for hubby (recipe below) /buying bridal shower gift two days before actual shower and making some new jewelry. And that, dear readers, is why … Continue reading

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

 

Bad Blogger Chronicles: A Little Late, But Hey! It’s Here…

So much for my resolution to blog more. Just not happening. Instead, I resolve to blog BETTER. (meaning: write something worth reading. Wouldn’t that be a good thing?) So here goes. Let’s start with what I learned this week.

There’s a little something for everyone here.

For those trying to lose weight:

(1) Eating breakfast for lunch or dinner is a great weight loss tool. (I’m not talking syrupy waffles here, people. But omelets or cereal and fruit)  FYI – here’s a great oatmeal recipe you make in a slow cooker overnight.

(makes 9 servings)

Cranberry Maple Slow Cook Oatmeal

2 – 2 1/2 cups steel cut oats (you cannot use regular oats for this)

3 cups water, about 1 cup lo fat milk

3/4 cup of dried cranberries (can chop them if you want)

ground cinnamon or cinnamon and sugar (about 1 1/2 tbl or to taste)

1/2 cup maple syrup (I used the lite kind)

Throw everything into a slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. You can garnish it when it’s done with slivered almonds. This is actually a recipe from Weight Watchers. Each serving has a points plus value of 6 if that means anything to you.

For those who make things/sell things:

(2) Facebook is having a giveway for facebook ads. Details here:

https://www.facebook.com/smallbusinessboost

If you have a shop on etsy or artfire (and a facebook page) you could get either $50 or $150 worth of free advertising. And they’re going to give away 10 prizes of $10,000 in free advertising too. (Chances of winning that one…ummmm…probably not so good.)

For those with pets:

(3) No matter how many dog toys you buy for a puppy,

maggie mae

My pup, Maggie Mae

they would still either eat your couch, chew on your tupperware or shred your toilet paper.

For those who play words-with-friends:
(4) Chances are, you can’t win if you don’t get the “J”, “Q”, “X” or “Z” – at least one or two of them. And if you have all vowels, don’t be a martyr. Swap some letters.
For those who make jewelry:
(5) Try to develop a signature style. If your stuff looks like everyone else’s – why should anyone buy anything from you?

Heart of Gold Lampwork Wire Wrapped Necklace by fatdogbeads

Shooting Stars Sterling Silver Wire Wrap Bracelet by Fatdogbeads

For those who sell on etsy:
(6) If you don’t have sales, try to get new visitors to your shop. If you don’t have new visitors, you need to put yourself out there. Go to the main page. Click on Treasury. In the search bar at the top, type in BNS or BNR. These are fun places to meet other etsy sellers, introduce them to your shop, learn something about theirs, and quite possibly make a sale or two. Plus, almost everyone participating in these BNS/BNRs posts a discount coupon, so you can pick stuff up for less.
Anyway, that’s it for now. More later. (at some point….)

Evolution of a copper pendant – a work in progress

It was a very self-indulgent week. No, I didn’t have a massage…or a facial….or even a mani/pedi. I treated myself to a crafter’s ultimate indulgence: 3 hours of private lessons with an amazingly talented artisan who has some of her metalwork hanging in the contemporary gallery of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Her workspace is just flat out ridiculous (in a good way) – the large, first floor of a former dye manufacturing plant. Every possible tool and accessory you can imagine for metal working, jewelry making and more is here. My eyes couldn’t get any bigger as I walked in the door.

Parts of a pendant - the stone, copper bezel wire, sample bezel

My private lesson centered on soldering – something I just can’t do, let alone master. I bought some beautiful dichroic beads that I had picked up at a bead show recently. And I wanted to solder a copper bezel around each, and solder them in turn to a piece of copper sheet I had cut out.

Was it worth the $$$ for the private lesson? Oh yes. While I wouldn’t rush out to use the big-friggin’-acetylene torch we used again (I’m happy with my mini-torch!), I learned an entirely new batch of basics that allowed me to actually produce a fairly nice bunch of bezels around my stones. (A feat, I hope, I will be able to repeat at home.)

When I did get my pendant home, I got out my handi-dandi little dremel-wannabe drill/sander/etc and polished it up a bit. Them I played with  my stamps and put a very neat pattern of circles all over it. Then I sanded. The rough cut shape was sort-of what I wanted, but not exactly.  The little sander attachment took care of that.

The Pendant Takes Shape

At this point, I still am not quite sure how to orient the pendant. Should the bead be on the top, the bottom, or on one side? Still playing around with this.

I also decided it was too plain. So I created a spiral out of copper wire and added a teeny-tiny dichroic bead at its center to increase the shine factor. In this picture, I have only placed the spiral on the pendant.

The Pendant Gets Some Bling

Nothing has been attached yet. Still waiting for some inspiration to tell me where to put it.

Oh well…..the pendant saga continues. Opinions gratefully accepted.Next Post: (hopefully) The Finished Pendant