January 30, 2011

seaside finds

my imperfect but interesting beach finds!
I have several blog posts in mind to write the last couple weeks, but it has been so crazy busy, going places and taking care of things. I am hoping the next week is normal and I can be at home more, getting things done in the studio! At least some of the activities have been good ones. Last Thursday I went with one of my sons to a spelling bee. And the week before, we took a couple days away for ourselves. My husband and I spent two nights in the coastal town of Seaside, Oregon while the boys visited my parents near Astoria. It was a Christmas present to ourselves (I have to credit my husband completely for the idea and planning). This was the first time we have gone away somewhere by ourselves without the kids.

It was a welcome break from everyday life. Seaside is great to visit in the winter. Some shops weren't open in the middle of the week, but the trade-off for no crowds was worth it. And the weather couldn't have been better for January! It was cold, but sunny and not particularly windy. We walked on the beach several times, including one morning when the sand was still crunchy and frozen. We browsed in shops we hadn't been in before, rode the carousel, ate some good food (had the best bacon and cheese omelets at Pig N Pancake both mornings, breakfast is definitely their thing!), and watched the sun dip low over the ocean from the outdoor hot tub.

We enjoyed taking our time wandering through art galleries, both in Seaside and Cannon Beach. Lots of inspiration. I saw a fair amount of what appeared to be metal clay silver jewelry in the galleries, and it was all very different and wonderful!  Reminded me I have just barely scratched the surface of what can be done with it. We also visited Creative Beginnings, where my husband relaxed on the couch while I found some neat beads (I thank him for indulging me!). I love picking up some special beads on trips, as I can remember the trip when I use them later, and every shop has a different selection. I picked up just a few individual beads (not strands), that will become part of future sales pieces, such as Amazonite, Aquamarine, Red Tigereye, Pietersite, and a couple lovely faceted Cubic Zirconia teardrops in bright poppy red and olive green. If you visit Seaside, this is a great shop! I love the atmosphere, and is focused mainly on knitting/crocheting (lots of great yarns/fibers), jewelry, and scrapbooking/rubber stamping, plus a few other crafts.

Of course one of my favorite things about going to Seaside was the ocean. Being near it feels peaceful, refreshing, exciting, and powerful all at once. Here are a few photos I took while there.

This trip was also the inspiration for my latest treasury on Etsy. I wanted to put together a collection of items from my fellow Salem Etsy Team members, and I picked according to a beach theme. Enjoy!

January 14, 2011

it's all about the heart

It's that time of year, gearing up for Valentine's gift-giving, hearts are everywhere! And I can't resist creating some myself. I made some heart earrings earlier this week, after being inspired one evening. I came up with a couple ways to form hearts from wire. The hammered-wire circle I made for a recent horse necklace (see photo in this post) gave me the idea to make some of my silver hearts and surround them with shaped and hammered wire also. But before I could make some solid hearts to use, I decided to go with just the wire shape and make some lightweight earrings. They are accented with lovely red crystal drops.

I occasionally like to venture into wire work beyond connecting parts of jewelry. And hammering is a good way to get out a little frustration. (Like being upset that your child broke off a good portion of a permanent tooth. I try so hard to keep my boys in one piece!) And it makes a nice texture that has a subtle sparkle. First, I used the flat end of the jewelry hammer to flatten out the sides of the heart, then used the small round end to create the almost faceted-looking texture. They're not perfect, but then that's part of the charm of handmade. At least that's what I tell myself when I start to fret over teeny things, being the perfectionist that I am!

And this is a good time to remind my readers that if you would like to order a custom heart charm with a couple's initials, please do so within the next few weeks. Silver pieces go through many steps from start to finish, and I want to get them shipped in time for Valentine's Day for you. The studio is stocked with chain and metal clay, so I'm ready! Click on the image for all custom heart charm listings in my Etsy shop.You can get one as a necklace, or as a charm only (great for adding to your own chain or keepsake charm bracelet). Also great for wedding or anniversary gifts. If you want to order more than one, just let me know!

Have a great weekend!

January 12, 2011

new thoughts, new options

My first sale of 2011 was this necklace featuring my image of an Andalusian performing the advanced dressage movement piaffe (a trot in place). It was a semi-custom order. The buyer knew which design she wanted (and it was something I was making more of), and then chose a stone dangle to accent it. She settled on a natural Amethyst stone bead (this one has some intriguing white banding, I love it).

This process worked out well, and inspired me to offer some options on certain jewelry pieces in the future. In coming months, watch for listings in my Etsy shop for similar necklaces with options to add various stone, crystal, or pearl accents. Several different designs will have this option. I will show choices I think would work well with the piece, and the buyer will choose one (or none, if they prefer). I believe this will be a good addition to my jewelry line. And isn't it fun, as a buyer, to have some input into the finished piece?

Before I go today, I want to share a photo of a recent sunrise. I am reluctantly up before the sun in the winter, and occasionally I'm blessed with a colorful view as I prepare breakfast. This one happens to be from the morning of my husband's birthday last week.

January 3, 2011

a bright new year

heart necklace (will be for sale)

It was a beautiful, sunny winter day today. The shadows were long, the air crisp, and the sky an intense bright blue. The day felt bright and hopeful, like 2011 is getting off to a good start. January can feel like the gloomy doldrums between Christmas and spring, but not today!

The kids went back in school. I did assorted things that have needed to get done. I stayed on-task instead of getting sort of lost as I sometimes do during the day, which was a great feeling. I unzipped and organized some digital scrapbooking files while relaxing after the morning rush. Repaired some stuffed animals. Finished up a batch of the soft flannel pockets and pouches I ship most my jewelry in. Edited some photos. Listed a new version of my custom heart charms featuring a clasp for clip-on ease. Ate lunch. Then I headed outside to take advantage of the bright sun and take photos of some new jewelry. My hands and toes were cold by the time I was done, but it was so good to get outside! I filled up a memory card. (well, that's not hard with this old camera) Then I took my camera with me as I picked up my boys from school. We live close enough to their school that we can walk, so we often do when the weather is nice. Took some more photos on the way home. Talked with the kids about their good first day back at school. Loaded photos onto computer. Chose which of the hundreds I will use. I hope I can keep the momentum up all week (or how about all year?!), I have many more projects awaiting my attention!

Happy New Year!

walking home from school in the winter sunshine (a nice change!)

bare winter tree next door
(some of my leaf jewelry was based on leaves from this tree)

horse head in circle necklace
(to be added to my Etsy shop)

leaves with moss agates and fancy jasper necklace
(to be added to my Etsy shop)