Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Simple Basket Setting

This Oro Verde Citrine is 10.5 cts and pretty big. I love big gemstone pendants. I don't love it when the culet sits on the skin or clothes, though. When the back point is not not lifted up, the light and color is really diminished.

I am always trying to find ways to make a basket type setting with wire. After I made the opal setting, I realized that with a few changes it could work for gemstones. So, I tried it- over and over again. Finally, I was happy with this nice simple setting that lifts the stone.

Some Luscious Projects To Be

While I am still working on getting the bugs out of  two designs, I thought I'd share a couple of stones with you. As much as I love jewelry and making it, my first love is for the stones and I can't go too long without picking up a new one. :)

A new acquisition of  kyanite with a wonderful adularescence. This will make a nice ring.

Another new one I picked up. This is a large cab of natural Sugilite from Africa.

I finally picked up some Mojave Turquoise! This stuff is even prettier in person. Wow! Love the bronze veins. As much as I love copper and think it will go well with the bronze, this might be a candidate for silver. 

I just got this and paid more than I usually do for a stone, but I really wanted a class act African Pietersite. I could photograph this all day and never do it justice!

I picked up some beads a while back that I thought would go great with this Apatite and London Blue Topaz piece. I'm having second thoughts about the tiny, polished pebbles, but the colors of these Apatite and Aquamarine beads are perfect. You can read more about this project here.

Here's a big Seraphinite that I plan to wrap the same way as the Apatite. Just waiting for the perfect 8mm gem to go with it. This will go in silver, too. Silver is so right for the silver feathers in the green.

Monday, August 29, 2011

I Love Electricity

Well, we made it through another storm. We had a lot of wind and pelting rain, but nothing like what was forecasted. Luckily.

We spent the night Fri. and Sat. at my daughter's house who doesn't have trees in her yard. Sat. afternoon she lost power. That really wasn't a problem except that it was so hot and muggy.  Thank goodness for battery operated fans or I wouldn't have slept at all on Sat. night. After one hurricane, we lost power for almost 2 weeks. I learned then the importance of a fan.

Sat. evening the storm was thought to be winding down, but the winds started picking up worse than before. We heard on the radio around 2 in the morning that the storm had strengthened again after it was over warm water. So, we got clobbered again by the back side of the storm. 

As soon as we were up on Sun. morning, we headed back to our place. We had to beat the traffic and rubber neckers (aka sightseers). A lot of big branches were in the road along with powerlines. Many traffic lights were out. Several people were already killed in accidents. As we wove down the road avoiding as much standing water and debris as possible, we prepared ourselves for the worst.

Our neighborhood sometimes floods. Not the like river or tidal flooding, but slow drainage problems. We have a 60 year old oak in the front yard that is probably 80-100 feet tall. It's a beautiful tree and I am absolutely in love with it. It's very healthy but my neighbors tree isn't and is the same size and close proximity. That's the tree that worries me the most.

Each big storm that comes through, the neighbor's tree loses a bough. Not just a branch, but a whole section of tree. It has been trimmed and such, but it is just not all that symmetrical or healthy. A few days before Irene, a thunderstorm rolled through and, sure enough, a big branch came through the neighbor's porch. So, I was quite nervous about this tree, which if it came down would hit my place, as well.

We pulled into the neighborhood and saw the many branches and debris in the road. There was so much that you couldn't see the road. But, people were already out talking and cleaning up. Good sign. We went by my brother's place first. He has pine trees near him which snap in a good storm. He had some utility lines on his place, but his trees were ok, thank goodness. We approached our place from the back way, surveying the damage in the neighborhood, which seemed to be minimal. It looked terrible with all the stuff on the road, but everyone seemed to be ok. That was heartening. Then we pulled up to our place. The neighbor's tree was ok!!! There were a couple big branches down on the ground, but they seemed to miss any structure. Our front porch was covered in small branches and leaves making it look terrible, but once we moved those and had a good look, we realized that nothing big hit us. 

The best part we learned before we even got out of the car. A neighbor yelled to us that we never lost power. He was one of the diehards that stayed. It was sooooooo nice to come in and crank the a/c and start a pot of coffee before unpacking. I say "best part" in jest. Really, I'm just happy to still have a home.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hurricanes and Earthquakes

Every year we go through the ritual of watching, with baited breath, the track of the many East Coast hurricanes. This year is no different. I was working on the opal wrap and trying different things with it when I kept getting distracted. First by a rather freaky earthquake and then by the track of hurricane Irene. So far, we are still on track to get hit by something, just don't know how bad, yet.

I had a tear in my eye after viewing a sad dog video when the table started swooning beneath my elbows. I say swooning because that's what it felt like. I wasn't convinced that it wasn't me. I thought I was having some weird emotional reaction to the video. But, the swooning became outright swaying. I stood up and realized we were having an earthquake, of all things. I was about to go outside when it stopped. How weird is that??? I have lived in Virginia for a long time and have never experienced THAT before. Well, actually a Navy F-14 jet went down near my home about 30 years ago and that really shook the place, but never an earthquake.  So, I cracked open a couple of beers and waited for another. So far, no more rockers.

I'm tracking hurricane Irene, now. She seems to be on course to play havoc with my coastal city just north of the NC/VA border. That means battery runs, grocery and water runs. I've dragged out the hurricane preparedness tote, too.

If we have to pack up and leave, which we'll determine today or tonight, then I won't be doing any jewelry or blogging until the storm passes and if I still have a place to live in. I'm not horribly worried, just prudent. We live with this threat like Californians live with earthquakes. We'll just play wait and see.

If any of you reading this are in the danger cone, don't play around. This one probably isn't a candidate for a righteous hurricane party. Y'all in hurricane alley know what I mean.  I love a good hurricane party, but this time, I think I'll pass.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Busted Out the Silver

I've been collecting gems of all kinds for longer than I care to admit (to my husband). I love opals of all kinds. Many years back, I bought an opal lot that contained numerous beauties. Some of them were tiny, but so incredibly bright that I couldn't part with them even though I had not idea how to set them. I mean, I have done tiny border wraps. That gets old.

I pulled some of those tiny ones out this morning and started planning different ways to wrap them. I did one in copper that looked so nice that I decided to bust out the silver and do another. I picked a stunning, Australian, crystal opal from Lightning Ridge with blinding color in any light, at any angle and proceeded to wrap. Although the wrap looks hard to do, it works up pretty quick with the help of some improvised tools.

When you view the pictures, keep in mind that these are extreme close ups in light that is typically less favorable to opals. The glass opalite rondelle bead in one of the pictures is 8mm. In person, you really can't even see the individual wires or wrapping just a little sparkle coming from all the highlights of the wire. You just get a sense of textured silver. I wish you could see this in person. The bright opal and glimmering silver are perfect together. The wrap holds securely, while protecting the stone.

Now, I finally have a way of setting some of those tiny opals. I'll be playing with this wrap some more tomorrow because I think it is going to work well for faceted gems, too. Oh, and I have some bigger opals to wrap, too. :) Did I mention, I love opals?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Thunderstorms and Bails

 I couldn't stay away from cabs for too long! I just picked up a few nice ones and was eager to wrap one up.

I was working on doing some weaving and wondered if I could do this or not. After a test piece, I figured it was a go. :) I combined a few things together with this. I haven't seen this wrap before, but if you have- let me know.

I used a nice piece of sugilite and copper wire. When I was done, I wished I had used silver. I don't know, I just think silver with a nice patina would look better with the sugilite.

This took quite a while to do. I was finished up to the point of the bail when a hellacious thunderstorm blew through and we lost power. It was ok though because I needed to take a break before deciding what to do for a bail. By the time we got power back, I knew what I wanted to do. I had a lot of wires to work with!

Am I the only one that stresses over bails? It's the last thing to do and usually the hardest- mostly because I'm always afraid that that's where I'll end up messing up. This bail could have been neater, but I'm happy enough with it. I don't typically do woven bails because I opt for a more simple approach- one that is less conspicuous, but this really called for a woven bail, I think. 

Friday, August 19, 2011


I won an item on eBay a few months ago and got more than I bid for. The seller was kind enough to send along these unusual little azurite blueberries.

These stone berries sat on my table and tried to become earrings so many times. Each time they came close, I cut them up. I was trying desperately to reinvent the wheel, when all these beauties really called for was a very simple wrap.

I have never seen any of these before. I went online and tried to find some good info and believe it or not, the best info came from a photographer at Deviantart.

My blueberries are a good match and are about 13mm round, though they come larger and smaller. The texture is what really sells me about these. They are like little blue, stucco balls. Anyway, I just thought I would share these because they are so unusual. If you can find some, they usually don't cost much.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


The random word for inspiration was so much fun, I thought I would do it again. This time, I picked the word macle. Never heard of it? Me either. I learned something new today. Funny that this word is actually jewelry related- sort of.

My word:  macle (ma·cle noun \ˈma-kəl\). After reading the definition, I wasn't sure how to visualize it, so I did a Google image search. So, I know that it relates to natural crystals, or more specifically- twinned crystals. But, the word has roots in French and German, too- meaning a kind of net or mesh.

I have never been fond of crystals. (I'm addicted to cabs.) But, in the spirit of the game and in my new quest for trying new things, I decided to wrap a crystal, something I have never done. The only problem was, I wanted to work fast and didn't have a crystal unless I stole the one and only one I had, back away from my grandson. Um, no. He'd freak out!

I was almost ready to think up something else when I remembered a box of rough that I had stashed and hadn't looked at for years. I dug it out from under the bed and blew off the dust. Somewhere in there I HAD to have a crystal! Under the carefully wrapped chunk of ammolite and between 2 sliced geodes was a large, quartz crystal. Not the best example, but a crystal nonetheless. I don't even remember where I got it or when, but by golly- it was wrapping time!

So, I got my crystal, but what to do next? Duh! I had do net it! And, that's just what I did. Now, it really relates to the word. Because of the old roots of the word, I wanted something that had an old feel to it. The crystal itself was rough and had that unpolished look, so I just had to be careful not to gussy it up too much. The only embellishment are some opalescent delicas of creamy off white. They don't show well in the pictures, but add just a little sparkle and interest. The back and front are the same.

My first wrapped crystal:

Monday, August 15, 2011

Beautiful Words

There is a thread started by sbarzacchini aka Susan over at JL about creator's block where the suggestion was made by Glenda to pick a word from a book and design around that. You can follow the thread here, if you are a member of JL. I thought it was a great idea and decided to play along. :)

I picked up my dictionary, let it fall open, closed my eyes and pointed at a word. The word does not conjure up images of jewelery. My husband suggested I pick another, but, no- to be fair, I stuck with it.

My word:  moderate (adj \ˈmä-d(ə-)rət\) Not moderate (verb \ˈmä-də-ˌrāt\)

The very first visual that popped into my head was that of a bell curve. According to Merriam-Webster, I wasn't too far off track. To me, the bell curve beautifully represents moderate, with moderate being in the upper part of the bell. So, I started working on ideas for a bell curve.

I had an idea to do a pendant that looked like and was similar to a toggle clasp. I got some wire and stuff and started laying them out. I was arranging a ring with a bell curve of wire when I noticed an interesting arrangement with the bell curve on the bottom. I decided to stick with that and flesh it out.

What you see pictured, happened really fast. Between the time I picked the word to finishing the piece, only about an hour passed. I was deliberately working fast because I wanted to go with that flow. I have been working hard at trying to be more freestyle and just going with things rather working things out. Most of my designs take a long time just to work out in my head. This was an exercise in letting the subconscious reign.

Overall, I'm quite happy with this and I am going to use the word picking idea again. It was a great exercise and lots of fun! Thanks Susan and Glenda :)

After I was finished with the pendant, I decided this needed some earrings.

The rings are a full hard, heavy gauge of some unknown coppertone metal from the craft store. I love these rings, they sparkle and have lots of texture. The wire I used was 20 and 24g copper. The beads are faceted goldstone. These kinda look Egyptian to me.

Check it out- Renate has posted one at her blog, too. Great job, Renate!

More edit:
All the pieces have now been posted at JL. Have a look, they are all fantastic, beautiful and VERY interesting!
Here is Susan's piece. Her word was sooooo perfect and her piece is beautiful!
Here is Glenda's piece She had a tough word, but came up with a perfect, pretty piece for it!
Here is Christine's piece Her word drove her to break rules and come up with a beauty!
Here is Renate's piece on JL I think she had the toughest word, but pulled off a real winner with an interesting twist!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Tale of Two Pendants

Continuing with my experiments in chaos, I tried another larger nest with more wire. I had a grand idea that bismuth would look real cool in a nest with all its the sharp, metallic angles. My reasoning was that the bright angular bismuth would stand in sharp contrast to the darkened, curled nest of copper. I was wrong. Very wrong.

See for yourself. :) Sometimes, grand ideas just don't work out the way you thought they would.

However, all was not lost because I was able to cut the bismuth out without destroying anything. I was then lucky enough to find a cab of turquoise (reconstituted) that fit perfectly. Now, THAT'S what I call contrast! Much better, now!

A couple more pictures of the bismuth since apparently its not as ugly as I had originally thought. :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Just Playin'

I picked up some wire and determined to do something different- something I haven't tried, yet.

I have always liked the chaotic look of the bird nest pieces, but never liked the whole egg thing. So, I tried something different. This is my first one and I learned a lot while making it. Mostly- just when you think you have enough wire- use some more! (I could have used a lot more wire.)

This is made with a piece of larimar and copper wire.  :)

After I took the pictures, I had one last tweak to make as shown in the last picture. 

After a tweak

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Talisman Two

I spent two days on this, so indulge me while I talk about it. I am still elated and fresh from the experience.

First off, there is a big boo boo on this. Can you see it? I'll post what it is at the end of this.

After the first piece, I had a good idea how I wanted to construct this. However, at the end of day one, I realized that I didn't have enough wire to finish it. I really thought I would have to trash it. But, by morning, I had an idea about what to do and it worked. Saved! Hallelujah!

This has more parts to it than I originally planned. As I worked, I found room to add the peridot and amethyst, but I left off the lime green mother of pearl.  Putting all the elements together is the funnest part of doing these things.

About the elements:
The main piece is a really nice piece of glowing, Globe Mine, gem silica with a little druzy. I wanted to compliment this color and not use too much more of it so as not to detract from it. What the camera doesn't pick up is the glow. This turned out to be pretty fragile to work with and I chipped it a little on the back. :(

Next is a real sparkly piece of natural, rainbow hematite druzy. This stuff is incredibly delicate, but oh so beautiful. I couldn't capture the very bright and colorful flashiness of it. I have worked with it before as it is one of my favorite stones. It is thee most difficult stone to work with. It's pretty rare and expensive which makes me even more paranoid while working it.  Because this little stone is in here, I had to work real slow and careful and couldn't tumble the piece.

The big rectangle on the left is a super neon, golden lime green Spectrolite. This is another of my favorite stones. Most people love the blues, but I have always favored the bright greens. It is not as directional as most and really flashes.

On the top is a nice patterned piece of tumbled pau shell. It is gorgeous and another flashy piece. At one angle, it shows a lot of the same colors as the hematite. At other angles it shows the colors of the spectrolite and gem silica.

I added a large peridot and a faceted African amethyst bead to pull it all together. You also might see the tiny delicas that fill a small gap. They are AB and flash between the color of the hematite and the color of the gem silica. It doesn't seem like it, but they really added something to this after I got them on.

I'm really happy with the "livliness" of the elements together.  With every move, something is going on to catch attention. This is really quite stunning in person, if I don't say so myself. :)

This was a real challenge. I was terrified the whole time that I would mess up the gem silica and hematite. They are perfectly fine to wear, they just needed to be handled with care in the setting. This is quite flat and sturdy. I wondered about that as I worked it, but it really is strong with all the pieces secure.

Enough talk- here it is:

It isn't too big or too small. Pay no attention to my nails, I didn't wash my hands after finishing this. I was too excited to get pictures done. :)

The colors in this are waaaay nicer in person. The gem silica is especially nicer.

So, did you find the mistake? My greatest fear is always in messing up at the end. That's what I did. The very last turn of the wire was wrong. I made the bail and turned the wire under at the back, but it was supposed to be to the front. Therefore, you can see the wire turned under on the front bottom of the bail. I couldn't fix it after I saw it. ARRRRGGGHHHHHH!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


If you aren't already aware of it, Perri Jackson aka Shaktipaj Designs is having a STUPENDOUS sale.

You can bet that I am taking advantage of it.

You can get ALL 30 of her tutorials at once. BUT, HURRY, it is limited!

If you haven't seen her work before, you are in for a visual treat. :)

OOPS! Meant to say 30 projects and 21 tutorials. (Sorry about that)


I put some nice stones together to see what I can come with, as far as another Tela talisman. I've got a lime green spectrolite, gorgeous gem silica, sparkly rainbow hematite and a fabulous patterned tumble of pau. Throw into the mix the possibility of a lime piece of mother of pearl. Sounds intriguing doesn't it? No photos. I am half way finished and positively stuck. Took me the day yesterday to get as far as I did and will probably be another day of figuring out where to go from here. Here's hoping I won't have to scrap it! LOL!

Just for a visual- here's my cat, Cat. Whenever we play darts, he has to be underfoot- literally. He's an attention hog. (His eyes are the color of the spectrolite. See, it's jewelry related. LOL!)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


I saw a couple nice freestyle talismans on JL and thought I would try one.

You can definitely tell it's my work. I had in my mind the work of Nicholas Kreager of Aether Circuits and Remy Heath of Studio Heath to name a few. This, my first attempt is totally lacking in talismaness. To me, my piece is a perfect fusion of straight forward Tela and the feeling behind the really great talismans.

You can tell I don't much care to coil and weave. I sat down with every intention of doing it. I AM CAPABLE of doing it! LOL! I just don't have the patience for it. I love how this came together, though. Picking the stones and figuring out how to piece them together was fun. All told, I really enjoyed this. I just wish I had the patience to do it right.

After I did this, I went to Studio Heath and saw there were tutes available, so I got one. WOW! Was I waaaay off. My construction is completely different than that of Heath. After reviewing the tute, I have decided that the style doesn't suit me. Far too much weaving. :) I think I prefer my simpler version. It is a good tute, though, if you are interested.

This is a pretty small piece, as these go. It is made with Kingman turquoise, aura quartz, stichtite, blue topaz and pearls.  It's really late, but I wanted to get this posted before errands tomorrow. I'll post pictures of the piece after oxidizing, which I intend to do.

Here it is after LOS.