Friday, August 23, 2013

Adventures in Jewelry: Double Knotting

I posted this a while back, and it's still a pretty good tutorial.

Now, once the kids are back in school I hope to do some more as we head into the holidays.  But for now -- here is how to do a double pearl knot -- sturdy, and perfectly uniform knots for pearls, gemstones, or really any kind of bead. 

Adventures in Jewelry: Double Knotting: Pearl Knotting is tedious sometimes--we do it for the elegant look as well as security and strength--and sometimes it extends out 16 inch st...

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Two Weeks... Just Two Weeks

Am I the only one going just a little crazy getting ready for back to school?  Sometimes it feels like that.

From the sports physicals to shots, to finding the best back to school supply deals, to figuring out when the heck my high-schooler gets on the bus, I am like WHOA!  Stop the world, I want off!

But seriously, it's pretty hairy.  And the bummer is, normally at this time of year there is a late August jewelry show up here in Tacoma or Seattle -- sometimes both.  But this year, it's neither, so I can't even spend a day forgetting about it all.  Of course I would use the excuse with the family:  But, I need to do this for the shop.  Seriously, they buy it every-single-time.

But this year I must wait until November.  So I catch myself often looking longingly at bead shops on Etsy.  Wow -- beautiful small quantities on there.  It's like Christmas whenever I find myself looking. I am just in awe of the perfectly faceted gemstones, and the wire.  There is this one shop in New Orleans that makes fabulous wire -- my mother got me some Rose Gold wire from there, so I have been having a little fun.

You did hear Rose Gold is super big this year? Like amazingly big.  Like, how do I get noticed for having it in my shop big.

These are Emerald Green Onyx (Color of the Year) finished in 14k Rose Gold Filled.

Stunning Mozambique Garnet with a pinkish hue finished in 14k Rose Gold Filled.  My mother adores these.

So you know those "Alina Jolie" Earrings?  The Emerald ones no one can get enough of? These are fashioned after those -- The are  perfect Emerald Quartz finished in 14k Rose Gold Filled.  Oh Wow -- two birds, one stone.

And don't forget there are only a few days left of the wonderful Birthstone "Peridot" -- it's a lovely green, and there are many items in the shop.

Up next month is the amazingly versatile Sapphire.  Ohh La La.

But for now -- it's time to start pulling my hair out again on the couponing blogs to find the best back to school deals.  You know that's right.  I've heard it both ways.

Yeah, I love Psych.  By the Way -- anyone watching "The White Queen?"  Lovely Jewelry ideas.  It's on Starz -- but the books are better.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Change in Course

Last Spring, I had a few very choice experiences that dominated my personal life. They are generally pretty private -- but I decided to drop my Thesis class and write it this Autumn quarter instead.

In case you don't know, I have to write my thesis for my Master's Degree in Communication and Leadership from Gonzaga University.  Shortly after dropping said course (over half way finished with my thesis I may add) I had come to the conclusion that I just wasn't that into it anymore.

I know, I know -- I decided at my Thesis (the final aspect of finishing the degree fully) that I "just wasn't into it?"  What was I thinking?

Photo Credit:

Well, I was thinking I had spent so long researching and building a thesis around how the DoD, and especially the Department of the Army communicates impacting hiring decisions -- that I HAD to continue focusing on that. 

Heavy stuff.  Even heavier if you are unemployed from DA (like me) and have been for nearly 2 years (like  me) and you watch personnel get hired for virtues such as being a man, being a 'yes' man, and being a retired service member.  (I didn't retire, I did six years honorably).  It made the final process just untenable for me.  It's a tough situation to realize that even following all the rules they say will help you (such as serving, and getting a degree, then an advanced degree) it just doesn't matter. 

So over the course of the late spring and early summer, I chose to just focus on making the Shop a full time gig -- something that would work for me and the kids.  It's been difficult -- and through it all I have been getting emails and phone calls to sign up for my Thesis class again.   I wasn't going to do it.

But then I ran into something absolutely fascinating -- how the VA communicates.  How they communicate with people like me, the veteran.  How they communicate with the public via blogs and their VA (dot) gov website.  And how the morning reports they put out each Monday on how they are doing with claims adjudicating and the back log doesn't mesh with what they tell congress and me as a caller.

An example:  The VA wrote me in April asking if they wanted me to have them reconsider my claim.  That was a tough day -- so I wire wrapped some necklaces.  It was a touch few weeks -- so I wire wrapped some earrings.  It's been a brutal few months -- so I perfected my timing on FB posts so I wouldn't have to wonder if I needed to "pay" to be seen through Facebook's weird algorithms.  But the issue at hand is this:  when I call the call center, the VA says it takes on average 15 months to decide a claim -- but when I look at the morning reports, it says it takes between 232 and 335 days at my local regional office.

Now, I'm no math wiz, but when I asked my teenage son, he verified that neither 232 or 335 days are 15 months.  Kinda makes you wonder, right?
Photo Credit:

But under all the designing I was doing to not face what was going on -- I was of course, in my OCD manner, researching what was going on with the VA.  (I know what you're thinking: this has very little to do with jewelry, but trust me -- it's a catalyst that sent me to almost 300 items in the shop). And in a moment of clarity, after the dozenth email and phone call, I decided to change my course and sign up again for the Thesis.

I begin again in September -- and will be heavily structuring my time during autumn and the holiday season.


Monday, August 12, 2013

Mystic Jewelry

I was just going over my facebook posts for today and noticed I have a whole lot of "mystic" this and "mystic" that.  Which leads me to say --  what exactly is Mystic?

Well, I would love to think its one of those stones that actually has mystic properties -- but it doesn't, it's generally a heated finish to create an AB or aurora borealus (that's right, northern lights) finish on a stone, glass or I guess whatever they can get the metal (used in the bonding process) to "bond" to.

So -- the nitty gritty.  What is "Mystic"?

They mystic "coating" is bonded to a stone usually using a metal, and most commonly using a clear stone.  That is how one gets "Mystic Topaz" especially.  I know I know it's all shiny and stuff, and it's unfortunate it doesn't actually happen in nature.  I do personally view the process a little different than say heating a stone to change the color.   See below:

Mystic Labradorite Drop Dangle Earrings in Sterling Silver
 This pair of earrings was created with a labradorite roundel that had been given a "mystic' coating -- normally titanium (the metal) bonded through heat to the stone (labradorite) to make it AB shiny  -- like the northern lights.  I know, I know -- why on earth would one do that with a fledspar that normally has actual AB inclusions that makes it shine and shimmer?

(Feldspards are the family of stones that contain Moonstone, Labradorite and Sunstone -- all naturally sparkly and shiny, even the non 'sparkly' regular moonstone).

But, meh, I guess the person who created these stones decided they just needed 'more' -- it's cool, I get it. Kind of.  But, not really.  It's still got that little extra something, you know?
Emerald Green Quartz Earrings in Sterling Silver

These beautiful earrings were treated with heat -- and only heat to bring out this green color.    They are naturally clear crystal quartz -- but in the heating process (usually using gamma radiation heat to bring out other colors -- which is hysterical if you see this became a big pair of green gemstones, like the Hulk becoming giant and green after his exposure to gamma radiation.  Don't worry, you won't become the Hulk from wearing these, but you will look like a million bucks.)  other colors are brought out, in this case "Emerald Green". 

So, why all the "mystic" in my shop then?  I honestly don't know, but I am pretty certain my daughter has something to do with it.   But it sort of is fun to photograph -- just to see if I can bring out those color scapes added to the gemstones in my photography.   Hint:  I am not so good at it.

Pink Mystic Quartz Ring in 14k Gold Filled

Mystic Pink Quartz Cube Drop Dangle Earrings  -- Sterling Silver

Mystic Pink Quartz Post Earrings in Sterling Silver

Friday, August 9, 2013

Magic Happens -- or so the saying goes.

I am going to come out and say it once and for all-- I do believe Magic Happens.   You're probably wondering where I come to this conclusion from, having had a rough month or two -- mostly personal but partly frustration in the shop.

See, in the shop -- summer months are notoriously slow.   Like snails pace -- or more accurately, it takes time for a caterpillar to become a butterfly.  And honestly, who wants to be online shopping when you can be out in the markets, enjoying the sunshine and that one guy selling "Cadillac peaches" who gives free samples?  The juice just drips from your chins, right?  Delish.  It's what summer is all about.

Photo Courtesy the Very Talented Vermont Photographer at Moonshine Designs and Photography.

I have fought the urge to put my shop on vacation mode -- and just go out to enjoy the sun.  Instead, I have just sharply focused when I do things, so that I can spend the summer with the kids, still clean up a bit around the house -- and keep the shop fruitful.

I also made one slight change in the shop that has done a world of good for my psyche.  Usually I have on my listings:  "Ready to Ship in 1 business day."   But, a few weeks ago, I changed that to "Ready to ship in 1-2 business days."

I know, I know, it doesn't seem like much  -- and generally I still get everything in the mail within a 24 hour period -- even on weekends which are technically not business days.

But, in giving myself that little bit of leeway for the summer -- I am now free to have an item sell at say 2 pm, and get it in the mail the next morning without dropping whatever I am doing for the day, but still be within what I promise.  Just knowing I have that takes a load off, I must say.

Granted, when school starts back up, I will most likely return to the "1 day processing time"  -- but the shipping will remain the same -- free and super fast. (I do first class mail for free -- during the holidays, expedited shipping will have a bit of a fee.  First class generally gets across the country in 2-3 business days).

But the one day has left me with some fun in creating -- which means magic for my poor weary soul. 

This Sapphire Necklace is more about technique for me -- plus it is September Birthstone Jewelry, so I had to add it.  I was perfecting my wire wrapping by doing these rosary style dainty necklaces.  So Much Fun.

I am adding this because in addition to being a rare form of apatite -- I love how much fun I had with the photography.  It's a necklace, and individually wire wrapped in sterling silver and this beautiful Green Apatite.

Simple and elegant -- these are the color of the year, and a little bit like Angelina Jolie's famous emerald earrings.  These are Emerald Quartz -- created by heating the clear quartz to bring out the green.  I am not a scientist, so I don't understand all of the techniques -- but I do know they sure are pretty.

I made these as a process piece.  I wanted to perfect the "all in one piece" earrings that these really are.  They are Natural Peridot and Freshwater Pearl, on a one piece "ear wire".

I have made heart hoops before -- but I have not played much with the precious stones on them -- leaving them to showcase the "hoop" more than  the stone.  With these shaded ruby heart hoops -- I played with both the ear wire and the stones to make something very unique.  And I made them in gold because then I wouldn't steal them for my own jewelry box.

I am adding these pearl earrings because I just can't get enough of the color.  Classic and elegant -- the perfect holly red for holiday events.