SATeam Blog Carnival – What’s on my workspace?

Life has been pretty crazy and busy at my end, which has left me with little time for leisure.  But it is the end of September and it is time for another SATeam blog carnival.   This month, team members are answering the question “What is on your mat/workspace?”

Until a few weeks ago, my answer to that would have been “nothing”.  This summer was spent re-organizing the house, re-allocating spaces and doing some renovations.  So until Labour Day weekend, I didn’t even have a workspace anymore.  But I now have a new consolidated workspace and have actually been able to sit down and work on a new piece.  I’m not done yet, but even getting started felt good after a summer without any jewelry making.

This is my current work in progress.

2 strand copper and black bracelet 

It will eventually be a double stranded bracelet.  I have 4 more of those twisted black stones to add, and I’m debating about the type of clasp to use.  I’m thinking a toggle clasp will probably be my final choice, but maybe it will be a hook style clasp.  Once this baby is assembled and I’m happy with the length, I will oxidize it so that the copper has that dark, antiqued copper look.  I think the antiqued copper will really look nice with the black stones. 

This piece is definitely chunkier than most of my work, but it seemed to me that those stones were just calling out to be used in a double strand piece.  I might have to make some adjustments to the design if the piece feels to floppy once it is full length, but that is something I will only know once more of it is complete.  Many of my pieces evolve as they are being constructed.  The original idea in my head does not always (often?) match the final result. 

This bracelet is only one item on my workspace.  I actually have 3 work surfaces in my new consolidated studio.  The bracelet is on my table where I work mostly with beads and wire.  I also have an old dresser that serves as my hammering, filing, cutting area.  The third work surface is my soldering table.  At the moment, it features a very different type of project.

Paint samples!  My new space needs some colour on the walls.  I’m under pressure today to make my final colour choice as my husband will be painting my space this week while I’m away.  I’m super sensitive to paint smells (trigger migraines), so most painting in our house is done at times when I am travelling. 

I’m leaning towards the yellows, either the celestial sun or the citron ice.  Or maybe yellow with one purple wall? 

yellow

I love yellow, as it is such a sunny, cheerful colour.  I think it could be the perfect colour for a work space – inspirational and energizing.  What do you think?   

To find out about what is on the workspace of other members of the SATeam, please follow the links below to their blogs.

Bead Sophisticate

BeadSire

The FamiLee Jewels

 

Colour, Glorious Colour!

The topic for this month’s SATeam blog carnival is:  Tell us about colour in your work. 

I love colour!  Colour sometimes reflects my mood, and at other times colour affects my mood.  One of the things that I love most about designing jewelry is the ability to play with colour.  My materials provide me with a full colour palette and I can go in any direction with it.

I love colourful colours much more than neutrals.  And I’m naturally drawn to cool colours, so blue, green and purple make frequent appearances in my work. 

Lapis lazuli and sterling silver necklace

 

Raspberry Blue Necklace - Fossil stones and sterling silver

 

Colourful polymer clay and sterling silver bracelet

 

But selling jewelry has allowed me to dabble with other colours, colours that I don’t usually wear myself, such as orange, brown, and grey. 

Carnelian and sterling silver earrings

At first using these other colours was a challenge.  I started using them because I knew I needed to showcase a wider variety of colours, but now I also find myself drawn to stones that are in more neutral colours, but that have beautiful, interesting patterns.  They are stones with character and personality. 

Zebra jasper and copper necklace

One thing I do know, no matter what I choose – warm or cool, bright or neutral – colour will always be a part of my work.  Colour lifts the mood, adds life, catches the eye. 

So what’s your story with colour?

To read more about colour and to find out what role it plays in the work of other SATeam members, please follow the links below to their blogs.

Island Girl

Bead Sophisticate

J3 Jewelry

BeadSire

The FamiLee Jewels

Origins of a Name

I’ve never been very good at coming up with creative and innovative names for things.  Back in the day when I developed school programs, I thought coming up with the name was the hardest part.  While one of my colleagues developed “Levers and Pulleys and Gears, Oh My!”, I came up with “Bears”. 

A number of years ago, I came across a list of the top 10 most popular names for cats.  Sigh…  my cat’s names were both on it…

When I decided to begin selling my jewelry, I realized I would be faced with the dreaded task of coming up with a name once again.

This month, the Starving Artists Team’s blog carnival topic is:  “Tell us the story behind your business name.”

I really struggled to come up with a name for my jewelry business.  I came up with and discarded several names.  I wanted something that spoke to what I was creating and that would represent me. 

Eventually, I settled on a name and opened up my shop on icraft.ca.  Relief, the dreaded task was over…  After a few months, I started to not be in love with the name I chose.  And about 8 months after I opened my icraft shop I decided to open my etsy shop.  Surprise!  My name was one letter too long to be able to use as a user name on etsy.  I really wanted my user name to match my business name and there was no way that I could shorten the name I had that would still make sense.  So, what to do?  

I thought about it for a few days, and realized that I already had a better name, one that felt more comfortable.  Here on my blog, I was using Northern Girl.  I had been using that for a few months by the time I decided to open up my etsy shop, and it felt good.  So, Northern Girl Jewelry was born. 

Why Northern Girl?  I grew up in Northern Ontario and returned to Northern Ontario as an adult.  I loved living in Northern Ontario.  I felt closer to the outside world, had the opportunity to go hiking, camping and exploring so easily.  The landscape of Northern Ontario is something that I love and that calls to me.  It’s wild and wonderful and always has something a little unexpected.  The pace of life there was pretty appealing too.  It’s just a bit slower, with less traffic, less commuting, less stores and more time to focus on the important stuff.  I’m not trying to imply that life in Northern Ontario is idyllic – it’s not, there is a serious economic crisis happening in many communities – but I learnt to value different things when I was living there.

So my business name is more about me than about my product.  But I think that who I am and where I am from influences what I create.  I grew up in a mining community where a love of rocks and minerals was not an unusual thing.  I like to use interesting stones in my work, stones that have character, that resemble landscapes, that tell a story.  And the pieces I design can be worn in many settings.  They can go to work or out for an evening.  But they are not super fancy pieces that get reserved for extra special events only.  There aren’t that many fancy events in my life, so I don’t create for those.   

So all in all, I think the name works.  It’s jewelry brought to you from a girl whose heart is still in Northern Ontario.  What do you think, does it fit?

To learn the stories of the business name of other SATeam members, please follow the links below.

Galadryl Designs

O’Refined

Island Girl

Bead Sophisticate

Paintin By Faith

The FamiLee Jewels

J3 Jewelry

Bead Sire

Blog Carnival – Why did I start making jewelry?

It’s sateam blog carnival time again, and this month’s topic is “Why did you start making jewelry?”

For me, it started out by accident. 

I was living in a small, relatively isolated community in Northwestern Ontario.  One weekend I decided to go to our local craft store to see if it carried polymer clay.  It didn’t, but while I was there, I found some glass beads.  I bought a couple of assorted packages of beads, some stretchy cord, some wire and a couple of clasps and off I went home to play with my new goodies. 

These are 2 of the original things I bought at the craft store that fateful day.

I tried to make a bracelet, but the stretchy cord was a problem for me, because even though the label said “easy knot”, I couldn’t get the knot to stay tight.  This sent me to the internet to google “how to tie knots in stretchy cord”.  One of my search results led me to this page at BeadFX.com.  I explored the site and suddenly the world of making jewelry opened up before me.  This site is more than just a store selling components.  It is full of information and inspiration pieces to help people make jewelry at home.  I discovered that the wire I purchased at the craft store in town was not suited to my needs and I found things that were.  But I never did figure out a way to get the knots in stretchy cord stay knotted (I don’t use glue in my pieces), so stretchy bracelets were just not in my future.

I started surfing the net to find the supplies I needed to make jewelry (beads, wire, clasps, jump rings, etc.) and then started stalking the post office, waiting for my packages to arrive.  Greg was away Friday through Monday every second week, so I had the time to experiment with my new stuff. 

I discovered the joy of creating and the satisfaction of building something concrete with my own two hands and my imagination.  I didn’t wear much jewelry back then, but this activity allowed me to explore the world of colour, texture, shape and balance.  Making jewelry became an outlet for me.  I could put aside the stresses found in daily life and create something new.  It was a gift.     

To find out why other members of the Starving Artists Team started making jewelry, follow these links to their blogs.

Bead Sophisticate

Island Girl

Galadryl Designs

Bead Sire

The FamiLee Jewels

Gemstones

I love gemstones; I have for a very long time.  To read the story of my fascination/obsession with stones, see this post.  When the topic for the Starving Artists team blog carnival was announced for November – a book review – my choice of book was obvious.  I selected The Jeweler’s Directory of Gemstones by Judith Crowe.

The Jeweler's Directory of Gemstones

When I found this book at a local Chapters store I knew I had to have it.  It has beautiful photos and the information is laid out in a logical, easy to follow format.  The copyright is 2006.  It has become a frequently used reference book for me. 

The book is divided into 3 sections:  Creating Gemstones, Types of Gemstones and Designing with Gemstones. 

The first part explains the basics like properties of gemstone material and the different gemstone cuts. 

The third part provides very practical advice for designing using stones. 

The second section really forms the heart of the book.  It goes through the gemstone family tree and for each group (like tourmaline, garnet, peridot, sugilite, turquoise, etc.) the information is broken down into the same sections:  some background about the stone, specifications and sources of the gemstone, treatments and imitations, pricing and working with that gemstone.  The different types of each stone that can exist are also illustrated with great photos and there is a showcase section featuring some gorgeous jewelry made with that particular stone.  Depending on the stone, this information is on one to four pages.  Diamonds and pearls are the exceptions as there is more extensive information about them. 

Although the photos in the book often feature faceted gemstones that are used in different types of settings than what I create, the information is still extremely useful to me.  Many stones that I work with in either cabochon or bead form, such as kyanite, rhodochrosite, fluorite and prehnite, are included in this book.  And I discovered some interesting new stones too, such as kunzite (a type of spodumene), scapolite, and spinel. 

The book also helped me to understand which types of stones belonged to which group.  I found out that amazonite, moonstone and labradorite, stones which I use frequently, are all types of feldspar.  And tanzanite, which is above my current price range, is a type of zoisite.      

The most eye-opening part of this book for me is the “Treatments and imitations” section.  Treatments, such as heat and dye are far more common than I had realized, as are synthetics for some stones. 

After reading this book (and referring back to it frequently) I feel like a better informed consumer than I was previously.  As a result I am better able to share the truth about the stones I use with my buyers.

This book definitely gets thumbs up from me.

To find out what books the other participants in this month’s blog carnival selected and what they think of those books, please follow the links.

The FamiLee Jewels

Danagonia

Galadryl Designs

Bead Sophisticate

Island Girl

Mermaid Tears – How it Came to Be…

Members of the Starving Artists Team are continuing to do a monthly blog carnival.  The topic for October is “how it came to be”.

 

The mermaid, trapped in a fishing net, cried.  And because she is a mermaid, her tears are pearls.  And her tears are trapped in the net with her. 

This thought is the inspiration of this piece.

Freshwater pearl and copper necklace

Mermaid Tears

 

I’m not sure how the thought came to be, but I was thinking of mermaids being trapped when I dreamed up this piece. 

The copper frame, with the thinner woven copper wire, represents the fishing net.  The pearls represent the mermaid, her tears and her sadness. 

Copper and freshwater pearl pendant

the mermaid's tears are trapped...

 

I built a sturdy copper frame from heavy gauge copper wire, and then randomly wove in the smaller wire and added the pearls when it felt right.  The pendant is fairly light and airy because it is so open, so I wanted to create a strand of pearls to give it a bit more substance and elegance. 

Blue and green freshwater pearls - the perfect choice for a mermaid's tears

 

Pairing pearls with copper is not a traditional choice, but I like to use pearls in unexpected ways.  This is definitely not your grandma’s pearl necklace. 

Follow these links to find out the stories of “how it came to be”  from other members of the SATeam.

Island Girl

Galadryl

The FamiLee Jewels

Texture

This month, some members of the Starving Artist Team on Etsy (SATeam) have decided to introduce a “blog carnival”.  What is a blog carnival?  It is when several members of the team write a post about the same topic on the same day.  

Our team’s first topic is “How does texture play into your work?” 

I’m a very tactile person.  I tend to “see” with my hands.  I pick up objects to help me decide of what materials they are made.  Anytime I go somewhere new, I touch and pick up pretty much everything.  I process a lot of info with my hands.  I can identify some tree species based on how their leaves feel (really).  Places with “Don’t touch” signs frustrate me.    

So it shouldn’t be a surprise that I like to incorporate texture into the jewelry I make. 

Some of the texture I add to a piece is subtle, like when I use a silk ribbon, a suede ribbon or a leather cord.  The silk ribbon feels so soft and luxurious around the neck.  Suede ribbons are buttery soft.  And leather cord is smooth.  They all feel very different than a chain does around the neck.    

Borosilicate Glass and Sterling Silver Wire Pendant on a Silk Ribbon

Some texture additions are more noticeable.  I use hammers, pliers and other tools to add texture to copper and sterling silver sheet.  My most prized jewelry tools are a beautiful set of Fretz hammers that are often used to create texture.  

Sterling Silver Ring with Hammered Texture

Copper Ripple Earrings - texture created using pliers

Sometimes I create a variety of textures in a single piece.  The ridges in this fold-formed piece are strong and give the piece character.  And the small pieces of silver peeking out from the edges have a much softer, more subtle texture.  The small amber cabochon is smooth and polished, in direct contrast to the strong ridges.  And to emphasize all of these textures, I oxidized the piece, making it a little darker.  

Copper, Sterling Silver and Amber Pendant

I also use wire to create texture.  One way is to wrap beads.  They can be wrapped to fashion a bead cap, or they can be almost caged or they can even be wrapped in wire in a free-form way.  I love how the wire creates soft ridges that contrast with the smooth, polished feel of the stones or glass.  

I wrapped the top of the carnelian bead with sterling silver wire to create a bead cap with texture, and also created a wire coil for the cord. In contrast, I've hammered the clasp to make it smooth.

I've caged the amazonite beads with wire to give them texture. Even the sterling chain has a textured finish.

Pieces of jewelry with texture allow me to use two of my five senses to connect with the piece.  My eyes are busy scanning the piece, taking it all in.  But my sense of touch is engaged too.  My fingers give me even more information than my eyes.  So a piece with texture has appeal that is two-fold and creates a more lasting memory for me. 

Please visit other blogs participating in the blog carnival to find out how texture plays into their work. 

Danagonia

C My Designs

 The FamiLee Jewels

 Bead Sire

 Nicole Hill

 N Valentine

 Stacie Williams

Galadryl Design