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December 07, 2012

Opals - Real or Imitation?

My friends love to pick up shiny things that they find they think are a good deal.  In this case, my Mom bought me small bag of what appear to be opals at the swap meet.  I'm not very familiar with how to tell a real opal from an imitation- so I'm posting them here so someone can give an opinion.  One thing I am pretty sure of - they don't appear to be doublets since there is no seam on the edge.  They are also not very big - ranging in size from about 3 mm to maybe 9 mm.

For the most part, they are pretty fiery - as you can see in the picture.  The fire does range in color with a lot of green and pink - but also some blues.  There are also a few that seem dull - like the finish has worn away somehow.

Some of the stones were obviously part of something - since you can see glue lines on the backs of some of the stones.  That is the one indicator that makes me think they may not be real -  like they were part of a costume maybe?

So, does anyone have any tips on how to tell if they are real?  I'm willing to sacrifice one if I have to (only the ugly dull one though!)  I've got my fingers crossed that they are - they are so darn pretty!

December 02, 2012

Handcrafted Donations to Support Charitable Causes

One of the biggest challenges having a handcrafted business is getting the word out about your business.  Whether you sell online, through home parties or in boutiques, you need to find your customers - the people who love what you make.
One of the ways I do that is by donating my handcrafted jewelry or my jewelry making skills to local charity organizations.  For me, most of the organizations I support are local schools.  When my children were younger, I used to donate jewelry making parties for up to 8 children.  I would provide all the beads to make a bracelet, necklace or set.  These were very popular, but they were a lot of work!  It helped people know that I made jewelry - but honestly, they weren't seeing my best work.  After all, I don't think I've ever sold anything with pony beads or buttons in it - and it is rare that I make a stretch bracelet.  So, while this helped people know my name and what I did - I don't think it was the best advertising.

Now that my children are older, I donate finished pieces of jewelry, gift certificates to my etsy shop or jewelry parties with a bonus hostess incentive.  It can be challenging to find the right donation for the cause.  You want to find something that represents your business, but also something that will make money for the organization you are trying to support.  I usually try to find things that are reasonably priced, but represent my jewelry style well.  

The pictures in this post are of jewelry that I donated  this month to a local middle school.  They are relatively simple pieces - and represent my love of gemstones very well.  They were not very expensive to make, but I expect they may bring $100 or more to the school.

One thing that is an absolute necessity when you donate items, is to make sure you include your business information on the tags, the charity website, or anywhere else that your items will be seen.  It doesn't do anything for your business if people don't know how to contact you for future orders.  Well, I guess that's not entirely true - there's always the tax deduction! 

I don't believe donating to local charities gives me a huge boost in my business - and I don't think it helped right away.  It takes time.  Now that I have done it for about 8 years - I believe it really has paid off.  People at local organizations - school and religious organizations mainly - invite me to their craft sales and also recommend me to their members for jewelry parties or even weddings.  It is nice to be known locally for what I do - especially since this is not my full time job.

During this holiday season - or any time of the year - remember that donating your handcrafts can help local organizations, your business and make you feel good!

November 27, 2012

My New Craft Workshop (Woman Cave)

Let the men have their man caves!

I have been busy the past 3 weeks or so carving out my own little workshop space in our garage.  I have recently become absolutely overcome by the vast amount of beads and craft supplies - and they needed to start moving out of the house.  Or at least out of the main living area!  I also needed my dining room table for Thanksgiving (and Christmas is around the corner).  And dare I even mention that the garage has been accumulating stuff for the past 15 years!

It has been quite a task.  There was no lighting, it was disorganized, the black widow spiders had made nests in a few corners - I don't even like to think about it.

 I wish I had a better picture - but here is one of my freshly pained workbench.  It is still pretty disorganized - but I am continuing to work on it.  It is nice to have a place to call my own - finally!

I have also been busy with some home jewelry parties and donating items for various auctions.  I should have time to post some pictures of the jewelry I have been working on tomorrow.

November 08, 2012

Custom Wire Wrapped Earwires with Gemstones

Copper  custom made earwires with garnet gemstones

I make a lot of earrings lately.  It used to be my nemesis.  I could never seem to make them look the same - they weren't the same length or stones that I thought matched weren't really the same color, shape or size.  I have many pendants that resulted from this learning curve.

Now, earrings are one of my favorite things to make.  I consider them instant gratification jewelry making.  Of course, I had to overcome the hurdles I just described - but what they say is true - with the right tools you can conquer anything!!

OK - I meant "Practice makes perfect", but it's so cliche.  And the thing that really did help is having the right tools.  I wrote an article about the tools you need to make gemstone earrings that match every time on Rena Klingenberg's Jewelry Making Journal site.

Antique copper earwires with faceted moonstone.
One of the things that can really differentiate your earrings is the earwires you use.  The basic french hooks and leverbacks are great for most things - but I love when my earwires are part of the jewelry.  Recently, I have been making lots of earrings - and therefore lots of earwires.  In fact, I've made so many earwires and drops, I've probably gone a little off the deep end!

I particularly like the style in these pictures.  I can use almost any stone and then I add dangles (one or many) to the earwires.  It really lets people recognize that I make one of a kind handcrafted jewelry.    Right now, I've made so many of these earwires, that I've listed some in my etsy shop (including all of the ones pictures here).

My favorite!  Antique copper with citrine custom ear wires!
I also make them in silver with gemstones or wrap the gemstones to lever back ear wires.  I will post them another day.

November 01, 2012

Making Copper Ball Headpins

I make a lot of the findings I use to make jewelry.  That includes using my torch to make silver headpins with the round ball on the end.  If you've never made these, there are plenty of resources on the web, including videos, that show you how to make them.  I highly suggest you try it out.

Today, my quest was to see if I could use the same tools and process to make copper headpins.  If you've been reading my blog, you'll know that after shunning copper for most of my jewelry making career, I have recently decided it is one of the best materials on earth for wire wrapping.

I haven't seen anyone on the blogs or forums I read saying they make copper headpins, and searching the web gave me mixed information, so I decided to just give it a try.

October 26, 2012

Kumihimo Braid Color Planning Tool

Kumihimo still looms in the back of my mind (no pun intended), but I haven't been actively learning it or practicing braiding lately.  However, that doesn't mean that I don't continue to collect bits of information that will be useful when I do pick it up again.

Today is one of those days.  I happened upon this super cool Kumihimo Braid Color Planner for 8 strand round braids.  It will help you plan what color cords to use in which positions to get your desired results.  Wow!!  I love this!!

Click on the image above to go to the tool or visit Lytha Studios for this tool and several other cool tutorials and supplies.  If you are interested in kumihimo, then you may also like this tutorial for using end caps to finish kumihimo braids.

Happy braiding!

October 24, 2012

Making Flower Shapes with Gemstone Beads and Wire

This isn't my first time making gemstone flowers.  I've also made a gemstone flower ring and two different pairs of earrings with gemstone flowers:  earrings 1 and earrings 2.  And while I was looking for those - I realized I also made a flower gemstone pendant!  I guess we could say that I enjoy making gemstone flowers!  The funny thing is that when I look at all of these flowers, each one uses a slightly different technique.

In any event, here are yesterday's flowers - which are not quite in their end state - since I haven't decided if they will be pendants, connectors or earrings yet.  The picture below uses some fabulous faceted dark blue lapis lazuli rondelles surrounded with coated labradorite rondelles.  The coated labradorite is similar to having an AB coating on glass beads - it just enhances the flash of the bead - and makes it more white than blue.  The beads are ultra-sparkly.  I think I was hoping these two would be for earrings, but they are slightly different lengths and I'm not sure there is anything I can do about that (except compensate with the ear wires?).

I also made a gemstone flower using a faceted black onyx center with the same coated labradorite beads and one that uses a rounder center bead of faceted opaque red garnet.  It looks a bit like a low grade ruby in this picture - but it is garnet.  It is surrounded by hematite rondelles.  

All of the flowers use a technique that is based on the herringbone weave.  The first wrap around the stone is used to frame the stone and the second holds the beads.  Ending the wires is a little tricky though - and on the two flowers above - you may not be able to tell that I folded the base wire up behind the flower to hold the wraps in place and end the flower neatly.  It is less of a problem with the ones that have the wrap loop finish - like in the first picture.

I also have these lovely faceted Star of David made of labradorite.  They have great flash and I want to be able to list them on my Etsy store.  I decided they would look best with a simple coiled loop that is large enough to slip on any chain.  I am thinking of adding a gemstone beaded chain - but I'm still not sure.  I think the wrapped loop on the one on the right is a little too large - but since I don't know how I'll use it yet - it seems like it would be a waste to re-do it prematurely.  It may just work out.

October 21, 2012

Wire Wrap Earrings: Back to Basics

I went to dinner with a good friend last night.  I was very flattered that she was wearing some jewelry that I made for her several years ago.  I was also surprised how much I liked them.

First, there was a pair of gemstone earrings - golden citrine and red garnet.  I always found that combination to be very striking - especially with the warmth of gold wire.   The necklace was asymmetrical, and I think used the same gemstone combination.

It made me miss the nights that I would spend making wrapped loops - either rosary style necklaces, link bracelets with gemstones or wire wrap earrings.

So, with my memory jogged, I decided to allow myself to take a step backwards and re-visit styles I have made in the past.

For whatever reason, some grossular garnet briolettes were the first gems to call for my attention. They range from a beautiful yellow-green, to the light green you see in the picture, all the way to a honey brown.  I separated them by size and color to find matching gems to make my earrings.

I tried a new technique for wrapping the brios - although I'm still not sure if it is easier or harder than the 'old fashioned way' of making a triangle above the briolette point and wrapping from there.  I think my new method allowed me to make a much shorter 'neck' on the wrap - which I prefer.  The longer brio in the center of the picture above was wrapped the usual method.  The two shorter ones on the side were done by making a wrapped loop on a piece of wire, inserting the wire into the brio, forming the triangle above the brio like you normally would, and then wrapping the remaining end under the wrapped loop.  It wasn't as easy to hold - but I like the shorter wrap - so I will probably try this method again in order to perfect it.

To match the grossular garnets - I happened across some hessonite garnet rondelles - which are a variety of grossular garnets that are primarily honey, brown and reddish pink colored.  The strand I have also has some grey garnets.  Together, the grossular and hessonite garnets seemed to capture the season of Fall - so I made a couple of pairs or earrings with this combination.

I like to make ear wires to match my earrings - because I think it really makes them more distinctive.  These are pretty simple - with a red garnet  surrounded by wimple wraps.  I oxidized them to make them more rustic looking.

I may continue to play with my 'old style' for a little while.

October 13, 2012

Free Tutorial: Hoops with Loops Earring Finding

My first tutorial EVER.  I'd love your feedback on it!

I decided this design was simple enough to do with just pictures.  It is to make the frames for the copper moonstone earrings I made last week.

The wire that I used to make the 'loop' part is a small skewer that is used to sew turkeys closed at Thanksgiving - but any smooth, straight, rigid item of the appropriate size will work.

You will also see one of the mandrels that  I purchase from the hardware store pipe section.  I like to have these in a variety of sizes since they are lighter to take with me than my steel ring mandrel.  Anything round of the right size will work.  My pipe fitting is 3/4" inside diameter so it makes 1" hoops.

Last, but not least, the earring frame is 20g wire and the wraps are 24g, but I think there is room to change it a little.

I hope you enjoy it!  I found this design really simple and fun to make.  There is also more information, if you scroll to earlier posts - about work hardening and tumbling these (which help alot!)

I recommend you mouse over the picture, right click on the picture  and select open in new tab. Then you can zoom in on the picture by clicking on it.  This worked for me with Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome browsers.

October 12, 2012

Copper Herringbone Hoop Earrings

I made two different versions of copper hoops this past weekend.  Both pairs incorporate some gorgeous, but dark, faceted garnet rounds that I have several strands of.

The first pair has a simple wrap around the stone to highlight it and keep it in place.  They are more oval than round.  Very simple and more petite than the hoops I made earlier in the week.

Once I made those, I had to make another pair with herringbone wraps.  I love the way a couple of rounds of herringbone weave highlights a stone.  So simple and so pretty.

I may oxidize these too - but the darker stone doesn't cry out for it quite as much as the moonstone in my last pair of hoops did.  I changed the clasp on the earrings so instead of a closed circle, it has a small piece nipped out so you just hook the wire in.  It seems to make it easier to put the earrings on without distorting the hoop shape.

My next version, I will probably do away with the closure on the back altogether and use a straight post with  an earring back.  It seems like they will be easier to put on and keep their shape better.  Hopefully, I will have time this weekend to work on it. (and won't get distracted by something else I want to try - which happens a lot!!)

October 11, 2012

Copper... Why it is Great for Beginning Wire Wrappers

What is old is new again, I guess.  I've used copper before in my wire work, but never really loved it.  It can be very soft and the look is somewhat rustic.  I tend to prefer a more classic or contemporary look.  But, never say never, because on a whim - or perhaps from convenience or financial necessity - I'm not sure which - I purchased some copper wire at the hardware store on Friday.  Two simple rolls from the hardware store in the electrical department in 20g and 24g.  I knew I had earrings in mind.

I can't tell you how happy working with the copper wire has made me this weekend.  I liked the first pair of earrings when I made them - but I have to admit I loved them once I darkened them with Liver of Sulfur and tumbled them.  They haven't left my ears since! 

This weekend I made 3 more variations of those earrings - all hoops and all but one in copper.  I guess I should get to the point of this post - why am I loving copper and why do I think it's great for beginners?
  1. Temper:  Copper wire is soft to wrap with - but work hardens easily.  It's easy to coil, wrap, hammer - you name it.
  2. Cost:  Nothing releases your creativity like knowing your mistakes are not costly.  Copper is one of the best bargains around.
  3. Convenience:  Run on down to the hardware store electrical aisle.  I picked up 20g and 24g there for $3.99 a roll.
  4. Color:  Copper is bright and shiny off the roll, but it still works with patinas like Liver of Sulfur - so you can learn wire wrapping and finishing techniques with it.  
  5. Size:  You can easily find copper wire in all of the standard sizes we use in making jewelry.  20g for earwire, 24g or 26g for wrapping beads - even 16g or 18g for making bracelets or sturdier pieces like chains.
  6. Variety:  Copper is a hardware store staple.  You can find copper washers in a variety of sizes that can be used for stamping blanks, for dapping, or as a base for beading or wrapping.  I love doming copper pennies.  They are the cheapest stamping/dapping copper you can find (pre-1982).
I learned to make jewelry with sterling silver since it was cheap at the time (about $12 an ounce I think!).  In retrospect, I wish I had known about copper.  I learned with half hard wire (mostly) and now working with soft copper is a dream.  

October 10, 2012

Copper Hoop Earrings: Before Patina and After

I have been enjoying playing with copper this week.  I made some new earrings that are a variation on the hoops I made last week that I will post once I get some decent pictures.  I also oxidized the copper and moonstone hoop earrings I made last week to give the copper a warmer tone.

Below is the before and after photos.  I used Liver of Sulfur until the copper was black and then I used some steel wool to lighten it up and put them in the tumbler for about 20 minutes.  I prefer the oxidized pair, but it may be that it is just better with my skin tone.

Of course, there's no going back now, so if I decide I preferred the original pair, I will be making more.

October 05, 2012

Copper and Moonstone Hoop Earrings

Finally set to making some jewelry last night.  I used some of the new moonstone rondelles I received yesterday along with some moonstone briollettes that I received from the same vendor in a previous order.  These earrings were relatively simple to make - especially considering that I am not a big fan of coiling wire.  Normally, I consider it very tedious.

Hmmm.  I was just looking for a picture of the gem order where I got those briolettes, and instead I found a blog post on different gemstone order that had smooth brios.  Now I'm thinking I should have used those ones, since they seem a little smaller - and I love the flash of smooth moonstone too.  I guess I'll try making another pair so I can compare the results.  This is a technique I would like to get better at.

I have two fundamental issues with this design.

First, I did all the coiling before I made the hoop shape - which is what made it reasonably easy to do.  But, after I made the hoop shape, the copper wire is still a little soft.  I hammered the top half so it is work hardened, but I couldn't do the bottom because of the loops where the stones hang.  I don't want them to get smooshed.  As I'm writing this, I think the solution is that I should have tumbled the hoops before I attached the stones - right?  That would have work hardened the entire hoop.  I guess I will definitely make another pair to try that out.

The second design issue may not be so much of an issue as a preference.  Should the brio face front or to the side?  In the picture, it appears as if it is facing to the side, but that is just because of how they are laying.  In fact, if the earrings were hanging, the brio faces front.  I think that is how it should be - since most people look at your earrings from the front framing your face, not the side - but it could be done either way.

In my head, I'm comparing this to putting in a new roll of toilet paper.  You can have the paper hang over the roll or under the roll - there's no right or wrong way, but people absolutely have a preference.  (In the realm of TMI - I'll switch it if it doesn't hang over the roll.  Gosh - I hope that's not just me!)

September 28, 2012

Lessons and Misadventures in Jewelry Making (and blogging?)

Well, it's just been a few of those weeks.  I have dabbled in a few creative bits here and there when I could - but most of it has not turned into anything worth showing.  Unless you like to see that other people have a pile of misadventures too.

Some things that I have learned the hard way:
  • Don't bother using cheap crimp tubes.  I've heard people say they don't hold together and it's worth investing in good ones - but what they heck.  I have them, might as well try - right?  Well, I tried and both bracelets I made with them came apart - after they were completely done.  In some ways, it's my fault.  I didn't give a very vigorous 'pull test' before I trimmed the beading wire ends.  Good sterling silver and gold filled crimps are worth the money in the time they save you from redoing your work.
  • Don't swap jewelry with someone who has a different jewelry style unless you are prepared to be sucked into it.  Yes, I'm talking to you Shelley Gross!  Since we swapped, I have been playing with seed beads and brick stitch.  I really want to (think I can) make something like these Miguel Ases Earrings.  Love them!!  I really like the colors and geometry of seed beads, but my eyes are hating it!  
  • Reading glasses are your friend - and you're not really old if you were them.  It will save you from lots of squint lines and foul language. (I'm chuckling because I originally wrote fowl language and I just knew it couldn't be right! D-oh!)
  • All work and no play makes a boring blog.  I hate not having time to gather my thoughts, create something and chronicle it.  It's such a great habit and brings me joy to be able to page through it now and then.  The lesson here is to find what you love and make time for it - whatever it is!  
Some things I knew, but was reminded of:
  • Friends are always your best customers.  Thanks for the custom ring order Erma!  I hope you enjoy wearing it, cause it looks mah-velous on you!  Here's a link to my blog entry with more information about this ring and the one I made in silver for myself.

September 07, 2012

"Back to School" Ring Swap

My new rings from Shelley!

I Love to Swap Jewelry!

I love participating in swaps and challenges on the various jewelry groups that I belong to.  There are two parts that I really love - getting a lovely surprise piece of jewelry in the mail, and meeting a new friend who also likes to make jewelry.

But a Back to School theme?

Back to School Bling (lol!)
I just finished participating in a Back to School theme ring swap.  This swap was more difficult than most.  For one, rings are just a difficult thing to make.  And then there's the Back to School theme!  I couldn't see anyone wearing a school bus or a pile of books on their hand - but yes, those ideas went through my mind!  In the end, I decided Back to School reminded me of Fall when I was a kid and lived back east.  You always knew it was time for school when the air moved from muggy to crisp and the leaves would start turning right as school was picking up steam.  So, that was my inspiration for my swap ring.
Falling Leaves Cocktail Ring

Please, let my ring turn out great...

My 'bonus' ring to Shelley
I always try a new technique for a swap.  After all, I'm sending it to a fellow jewelry maker.  I figure they'll understand!  Unfortunately, I was a little disappointed with the way my swap ring turned out.  The braided band came out fantastic - but my idea for falling leaves came out a little bigger than I expected and I ended up with a lovely... cocktail ring?!  I know that isn't everyone's style or taste, so I sent a second ring just to be a good swap partner.  The funny thing is - my swap partner did exactly the same thing!  Her original swap piece is the diamond shape with the crystal center.  She decided she didn't like it and rather than pull it apart, she would send it along.  I absolutely LOVE this ring.  It is so simple, yet dramatic on.  I'm so glad she didn't take it apart!

So glad to meet you!

My partner was Shelley - and it was a pleasure to meet her.  By coincidence, she lives in a town close to where I sometimes work in Ohio (but I live in California).  Shelley's good friend is Eva Sherman, who owns Grand River Beads, a local bead store in Ohio and writes a jewelry blog that I enjoy reading.  So, we started off on a very 'gee this is a small world' foot.  Shelley is a seed beader - I primarily work with wire wrapping and gemstones.  I love that we have different mediums.  I look forward to my next swap!

September 04, 2012

First Etsy Listing is Listed!

Well, I finally did it!  I posted my first Etsy listing.  I've been wanting to add some items to Etsy for say... 2 years, but I finally did it.  I listed these simple sterling hoop earrings, but I plan to try and list one more item everyday for the next couple of weeks.

Doing the listing wasn't the hard part.  Getting the shop set up with a banner and policies definitely took more time.  I'm still not totally thrilled with my banner, but I have a friend who is helping me update my graphics.  I'm very excited for that!

There's also the pictures of the items.  I'm sure it's just a matter of practice, but if anyone has pointers, let me know.

I haven't been updating my blog as much as I'd like while I am busy getting some of these other projects going.

I did clean up my supplies and work area again over the long weekend.  This time, I purged my magazine collection.  Do I really need all of these beading magazines from the last ten years?  Well, the answer is yes, but at least I pulled out all the duplicates and some miscellaneous publications that I felt I could part with.  I'll post them soon for anyone who wants to swap something for them.  I think there's at least 30 that I was willing to part with.  There are also some jewelry books.  The good news is that when I renewed my subscriptions, this time I added the digital versions.  Hopefully, that will allow me to part with the magazines and get back some of my storage space!

August 22, 2012

Organizing Jewelry Stringing Supplies

Help!  I've lost my jewelry making mojo!  After months of having more ideas than I could possibly keep up with - nothing!  Nada. Zip, Zilch...Cue the crickets!

OK, enough of the drama.  That's not entirely true.  There are some ideas floating around up there - but nothing that is getting executed.  And certainly no where near the artistic flow I was experiencing before my summer travels began.

It's frustrating.  How do you break out of your slump?!

For me, I need to get back in touch with my materials.  I need to see them, touch them, get enthusiastic about them!  And that means... ORGANIZE!!!  

I've already organized a lot of my beads - and the system is working.  I love the Darice containers.  They are a great size, I can see what I have in them and they are very portable.

I have also purchased some new bead organizers Portable Bead & Craft Storage Box With 52 Removable Compartments which have different sized containers - and they are working well to hold my findings, hanks of seed beads, etc.

Organizing Bead Stringing Supplies

Now that I've started dabbling with Kumihimo weaving, it makes sense for me to organize my stringing materials.  I have C-Lon cord and thread for stringing, macrame and kumihimo.  I have stretch magic elastic cord in several sizes that I use mostly for restringing bracelets for friends.  There's also the Beadalon and Soft Flex coated wire.  And spools of copper (there's only one shown below, but I just remembered where the rest is - and the artistic wire too!).  And spools of ribbon that I like to use when I package my jewelry for shipping or for gifts.

The rack I am using is a June Tailor Mini Mega-Rack ll thread holder and is pure genius!  I stand it on the table when I'm working, or hang it on the wall above the bookcase that holds all of my beads and findings.  I love being able to see all of the thread colors and hold them up to the beads to decide what to use.  I am pretty sure I could even put hanks of seed beads or hang strands of beads on it.  But I'll need a separate one for that!!

Most of all, I'll know where everything is!  I hate when I decide I want to make something and spend the first 30 minutes looking for the materials.  That can kill the creative process!

I don't quite have my jewelry making mojo back, but I'm working on it.  I'm hoping to post some new projects soon.  If you have any hints on how you get your creative juices flowing - I'd love to know!  In the meantime, I'll be shopping and organizing.  Oh yeah, and reading.  That always helps inspire me.

August 07, 2012

Starting out with Kumihimo Braiding

I got a kumihimo starter set in a surprise package from Wired Up Beads this summer.  I spent the last couple of weeks reading about kumihimo and searching the internet for examples and decided this trip would be the perfect time to try it out.

I have made only two braids so far.  The first one was just to get an idea of how the process works - following the directions that came with the Kumihimo Round Disk For Japanese Braiding and Cording.  It is an 8 cord braid.

The second braid is also done with 8 cords and was supposed to have a spiral pattern.  I thought I memorized the sequence correctly, but obviously I didn't.  I'll try that one today if I have time.

Both of the bracelets are pretty thin and could best be compared to friendship style bracelets.  It's a little disappointing since I'm way too old to be wearing a friendship bracelet (even though I am right now because my daughter bought me one in Boston), but I digress...

I am using Super-Lon Cord which I bought for micro-macrame.  It is the only cord that I have in lots of colors.  I also have some thicker 'fancy' cord that came with the starter kit, but I want to get the hang of it before I move on to using that.
My next step is to actually do a spiral braid and add beads.  I found this blog with great instructions for a variety of kumihimo braids.  It is called Life of Linuz and is in English and Norwegian.   Who would imagine I would be learning kumihimo from someone in Norway??  Actually - this is the spiral braid I'm going to try first (the other one is too advanced).  I figured I would leave both links.

The last picture is the view from my house in Cooperstown.  Every morning, the fog covers the valley and slowly burns off as the sun gets higher.  It is my favorite time of the day, for the view, and also because the house is quiet.  I am here with two other families so I relish the quiet time.  I love my housemates too though :)

August 06, 2012

Boston Beads

I'm on the road again.  I had no time to post while I was in Boston, but now that I'm in Cooperstown, NY (and there's nothing to do except for two baseball games a day), I'll be able to add my updates.  Oh yeah - the title is supposed to be a little word play on Boston Beans - but I doubt you would get that, so I figured I'd explain.
Boston was fabulous.  I lived there for 5 years while I went to college (BU), so it was like going home for me.  I'm very encouraged that my daughter loved everything about the city - and will be considering going to college there.  It's also where I fell in love with jewelry and started my journey learning to make it.

I was lucky enough to visit one of my favorite bead stores in Brookline called The Pear Tree.  They used to be a high end handcraft import store focused on jewelry and artifacts 25 years ago, but now they only have beads.  That's a little disappointing since their artwork, tapestries and hand crafts were some of the best around.

I bought a variety of beads that I could never find in California.  They are mostly Tibetan silver and turquoise.  I thought the prices were very reasonable.

I bought two cinnabar focal beads.  These are rather large and very detailed.  I hope they are real cinnabar (not that I'm very sure what that is), but I really like them and have not found anything like this in CA.

Here is a close-up of the Tibetan silver charms.  There are two Ganesh, the elephant headed Hindu diety.   Ganesh is responsible for wisdom, learning, and removing obstacles.  But I bought these because I felt they were unusual and had great patina.  They don't appear to be mass produced, and a lot of the Himalayan silver is headed in that direction.

I also bought some Tibetan turquoise carved fetishes.  Two frogs and a duck.  The duck is my trip souvenir, since as I led my group of 11 tourists around Boston, they called me Mrs. Mallard after the Bronze statue in the Boston Public Garden.

I've always had a thing for frogs too.  I bought the large carved fetishes from another favorite bead and crystal shop in Brookline Village called Horai-San.  Just out of curiousity, I did a quick search on the meaning of Frog Totems.  Interesting.

Brookline is right outside Boston and is a beautiful town (it is where JFK was born).  It used to be very eclectic, but Coolidge Corner (my old stomping grounds) has sold out and is now boring and commercial.  Brookline Village, however, has retained its unique charm and individuality.  Thanks goodness everything has not gone to sh*t.  

One thing that has improved is my old apartment building.  Built in 1898, it was a rent control paradise when I lived there.  The road was gravel and the apartment was big - and cheap.  It has obviously gone condo since rent control went away.  It never looked this nice when I lived there!