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New Designs for May – Memorial Pet Jewelry

In memory of Hemingway gone too son at 10.5 months
In memory of Hemingway gone too son at 10.5 months

It’s been too painful until now but I finally designed a Memorial piece for our dear Hemingway cat who passed away suddenly from feline g.i. eosinophilic sclerosing fibroplasia back in February. I’m finally at a place where I want honor him and move forward, although not a day goes by that I don’t think of him and remember how he feels. I know it’s “just a cat” to so many people – but to me, he was so much more. We will have more cats join our family in the future but he will never be forgotten.

I tried several options before realizing that the simplest design is the best. I tried adding in a birthstone, & pearls, different chain – but just the sterling silver angel cat charm and a small 10.5mm charm that I engraved with his initial spoke to me the most.

I think that is one thing people don’t grasp when it comes to creating jewelry. Even though I am not manufacturing components, it takes time to come up with the right combination. I know it looks simple: but it took much careful consideration and trial and error to get the ideas from my head to paper and eventually to the final product. I have mad respect for jewelers who design every component from start to finish! I don’t have that kind of attention span – so I am happy to source out the right supplies (this takes time too!) to come up with the final product that is satisfying to me.

Dog Angel memorial pet jewelry choose a sterling silver necklace or clasp
Dog Angel Pet memorial jewelry choose a sterling silver necklace or clasp

Since I was making a Cat Angel Necklace I decided to expand on the memorial pet jewelry and make a dog version as well. I hope to have more options in the future as I find the perfect sterling silver charms. The dog angel charms read ” good boy” and price out cheaper than the cat angel charms, I assume due to the size and amount of sterling used. I also had the idea to offer the piece as a necklace or clip on charm set. These 13mm sterling silver lobster clasps are a large size making them appropriate to clip to a purse, bag, keychain, zipper pull or an existing bracelet. I like how this clip on option turned out so much, I will probably offer this option with some of my other personalized necklaces.

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Mother-Daughter Half a Heart Charms & April’s New Items

Personalized mother-daughter necklaces. This charm has special meaning to me
Personalized mother-daughter necklaces. This charm has special meaning to me

April is my birthday month – Earth Day – which seems to fit me perfectly (green washing aside!) being someone who pulls all my inspiration from nature and personal experiences. Truthfully, I often feel not of this earth even though many of my friends and family see me as the “grounding” person in their lives – the voice of reason per se. If only I could apply that sensibility to my own life. I am constantly in a state of buzz, worry, self-doubt and what ifs when it comes to my own circumstance. It’s easier to see clearly what one must do when one is not experiencing it first hand.

All that analogy aside, when brainstorming for April’s new products I wanted to have items with some personal meaning to me. Everything I make has meaning in one way or another, but this month I wanted to go one step further for items that represent me or something that is special in my life.

I keep a sample of all the charms I own in a binder with plastic inserts you would use for baseball or hockey trading cards. A look book for charms so to speak. I often will flip through it for inspiration. This month one charm caught my eye: the mother-daughter charm. This sterling silver charm comes as one heart that I have to carefully separate into two. The significance of this charm goes farther than my own mother-daughter experience: my mother is buried with her half.

I bought one of these charms originally for bracelets I was working on for my wedding jewelry.

left my mother wearing her bracelet on my wedding day; right is my wedding charm bracelet. See the mother-daughter half hearts?
left: my mother wearing her bracelet on my wedding day; right: is my wedding charm bracelet. See the mother-daughter half hearts?

My mother passed quite unexpectedly just 2 years later. I remember my father asking if I wanted her engagement ring as a keepsake, and feeling pretty wrong about it. Then I had this strong sense: yes, I will take the ring, but I wanted her to be buried with the bracelet from my wedding. My dad said if I could find it, he would give it to the funeral home. It was in plain sight in her jewelry box. Today I cherish my decision – at peace knowing she was buried with something that ties us together but also being able to keep a keepsake to pass on to my girls one day.

Woodland fairy with a faceted crystal for your spiritual side
Woodland fairy with a faceted crystal for your spiritual side

The second item is a woodland fairy necklace – personalized with a monogram charm and paired with a faceted crystal. Clear quartz crystal is a birthstone for April – not all of us can afford diamonds. πŸ˜‰ I find crystal quartz to be a powerful mystical stone nonetheless – if you think of looking through a crystal ball or the mystery of the crystal skulls. It seemed highly appropriate to pair with a woodland fairy particularly for an Earth Day birthday.

inspiration for your knitting
inspiration for your knitting

Lastly, if you are a knitter here is some inspiration to keep your project going forward positively. Knitting and spinning for me is a meditative process so adding a few inspirational words into the mix should help keep things peaceful and positive. I also thought this set would be nice to gift one each to 8 of your knitting friends, and spread the positivity. The little things really do matter, particularly in the tumultuous world we live.

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P.S. don’t forget to check out April’s newsletter and my Facebook page in order to enter for a chance to win April’s giveaway. I’m giving away a personalized bunny necklace this month.Β 

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Culinary Grade Pewter Charms – More Info

Many of the charms I use in my theme name necklaces are culinary grade pewter (AKA Britannia pewter alloy – you can drink or eat off cutlery or cups made from this form of pewter). The charms have been FDA certified lead free. I love these charms: they are made in the USA and have an amazing, beautiful detail. Plus since they are an electroplated pewter they are a fraction of the cost of sterling silver cast charms. My pieces that contain sterling silver cast charms can be double the price simply because of supply price.

Even though these charms are pewter you can polish them much the same way as you would sterling silver or gold-filled items. This is because the charms are electroplated with pure silver (AKA .999 silver or fine silver) or 22kt gold plate. The silver charms can be polished with a polishing cloth or liquid cleaner but it is not recommended that you bench polish them, or use abrasive paste polishes as vigorous friction may “burn off” the electroplated layer. The gold charms will not tarnish. You can shine them up with a soft cloth to remove dirt and oils when needed.

Don’t let the fact that these charms are electroplated turn you off. Unlike ordinary plated items that we are all accustomed to, electroplating leaves a thicker and more durable surface area. Regular wear and tear will not harm these charms. You will also find the pure silver tarnish to be more subtle than sterling silver. From my experience it will start to cast a pinkish hue. It is easily removed with a jeweler’s cloth, which is my recommended product for cleaning this type of jewelry, although a mild liquid dip cleaner works as well.

For more information, please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

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You are the Apple of My Eye Necklace and Teacher’s Gift

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I recently found these sweet epoxy apple charms. I love the pop of red color and they were just begging to be made into a necklace. I present you: The Apple of My Eye Keepsake Necklace – or Teacher’s Gift.
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I couldn’t decide which way to go with this when I first set out to do the engraving. I ended up liking both ideas so much I just kept it that way. I love the script letter paired with the apple. I also thought an engraved “TEACH” along with a heart was a nice touch.
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These would make wonderful, affordable teacher’s gifts as well as a sweet message to a loved one: “You are the apple of my eye”.
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I currently have a limited number of charms as at the time my supplier only had a few available. I’ll see how popular this item is before ordering more (in order to get the best possible price I need to order several hundred dollars worth of goods from my supplier. So I don’t like to do that too many times in the run of a year).

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Mini Faceted Gemstone Earrings – are back!

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January always means a time of renewal, growth & reflection for me. So it’s good that it is also the slowest month of the year for me sale wise. I tend to go through old designs to decide whether or not I want to keep them or finally put them to rest for good in January. I have a bin of “for more consideration” jewelry pieces in various stages of design. Something just does not feel “right” about them so I set them aside until I can examine it more throughly. I think many people assume that all I have to do is assemble a few beads together and list them online, but it is a more involved – sometimes even cathartic – process for me. If something feels “off” I simply will not share it with the world. Maybe it is an issue with the flow, overall look or just with the pricing or placement. It seems awfully involved for my designs that these days are very simple and streamlined, but I create not to encourage others to spend money. Creating means so much more than that to me.

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In the case ofΒ these simple gemstone earrings they were offered a few years back when I only had an Etsy shop. Then the price of silver went up significantly and the price point bothered me. I designed these earrings with add-on, event or “thinking of you” in mind. Something inexpensive you could buy in bulk to give as shower gifts or to your wedding party – or even in gift bags/party favor. Maybe you want a small gift for a colleague or just need an inexpensive “thinking of you” gift. When they started to get over the $20 mark, I simply lost interest in offering them.

I recently got these really nice stainless steel french ear hooks in stock. They have a wonderful detailing and are a fraction of the cost of sterling silver. So I plugged the pricing into my spreadsheet and the material cost was significantly less.

I’m currently offering these cuties at the price of $13 a pair! They currently come in 8 different stones and if you buy multiples, I can give a wholesale discount. Drop me a line to discuss.

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New Product: Dark Angel Necklace in Tourmaline

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A dear friend of mine requested the “dark angel” necklace in tourmaline for her daughter. I was surprised how hard it was to find faceted rondelles the right size for this piece, I was finding only teeny tiny beads. I know tourmaline can run on the expensive side compared to other gemstone beads but sometimes I get frustrated trying to find supplies in this country. I finally found a supplier in the US thanks to help from my jewelry group. Although these rondelles run smaller than the beads featured in the other necklaces (these are from 6 – 7mm in size) I still think it works just fine.

DPP_3939I absolutely love tourmaline and I’m happy to finally add it to my complement of beads.

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BRIDGET Earrings: – Sparkly. Elegant. Classy. – Officially Relaunched

BRIDGET earrings in ruby red
BRIDGET earrings in ruby red

I am bringing back an older design – just in time for holiday parties. The “Bridget” earringsΒ are named for their original recipient, and are now available in a selection of colors. Currently, I am offering these in the 12 birthstone colors, as I am guaranteed to stock these Swarovski crystals. You may also request a particular color for your event, but please allow some time as I will have to order in the color. I’m also offering discounts for bulk orders (starting at 5 or more), making these great gifts for your bridal party, prom friends or party favors.

Bridget earrings in sapphire Swarovski crystal and 14kt gold filled
Bridget earrings in sapphire Swarovski crystal and 14kt gold filled

This product is now available in 14kt gold filled as well as the original sterling silver.

The original BRIDGET earrings
The original BRIDGET earrings

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New Chain on Child’s Flower Necklaces

I got a chain order the other day, and with it I had a design epiphany, about my child’s flower necklaces. The epiphany was: what I found off putting about it, was the style of chain.

I am notorious for over analyzing my work. I have to tell myself to put much of what I do away and revisit it, when I can be less emotionally invested in the design. This was a little different, because I always liked this piece, just something was…off for me.

Originally because I designed this piece just for kids, I attached the only 14 inch chain I had in stock, which happened to be a sterling silver box chain. And thus it remained for no other reason but convenience. I also had the undesirable task looming of putting up my price for this piece, because I have officially ran out of my original wholesale lot of chain, that I acquired years ago at better prices. So I either ordered more of this chain at a higher price and therefore a higher price for my customers, or find an alternative.

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With this new chain, which is for both for a good quality silver plated and gold plated rolo chain, the necklace just looks right to me. It’s not something I can explain. It is a feeling – the energy – of the entire piece. I think I find this chain more youthful than the box chain. Seems like a lot of thinking just about style of chain, but that is what you can expect out of handmade work. We put a lot of heart & soul in everything we create, whatever it may be!

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Switching this chain out means I don’t have to raise my prices on an item that is in a limited run. In fact – I was able to put the price of the gold version down $2 to match the silver! It also comes in 30 inch length for silver, and 26 inch length for gold. That means I can offer customers any chain length they desire under that maximum length, making the child’s flower piece suitable for teens, young adults or the young at heart. πŸ˜‰

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“Wings” Tribute piece: Personalized Memorial Necklace

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5 years ago to this day, my mother passed away suddenly at the age of 54. I would like to say *unexpectedly*, but I had a prophetic dream a week prior of her death, & although I was somewhat prepared, it was certainly a trauma nonetheless. We had an at times difficult – albeit honest – relationship, and I developed the “Wings” memorial necklace in her tribute, as a constant reminder that she still walks beside me despite having many moments where I feel motherless.

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I was on the fence about releasing this piece to customers, as it was so personal to me, but I decided by not sharing it I was missing an opportunity to help others heal & honor their loved one as I did. Since releasing “Wings” earlier this year for customizing, it has hands down become my best selling piece. I have had the honor of engraving these with the initials of loved ones for people I had never exchanged words with, yet I felt a connection to all the same. The most difficult request, was for infant loss, and I grieved for this mother even though she never knew of me or that she would be receiving this keepsake.

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Now I cannot believe I ever considered never sharing this piece. It is such a good example of why I create. It keeps me human. It keeps me connected. It gives me a sense of purpose in a world that some days makes no sense.

Love to you, mama: where ever thy soul shall roam…

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Have you been healed by creativity? I am looking for examples to be featured here on the creativity inspired blog of how art/creativity helped you overcome loss/hardship/illness. Did you paint a picture? Get a tattoo? Plant a garden in honor of a person or event? I want to hear every & all examples of how an outward expression aided you in your process. It is my hope that others will find comfort in these inspirational stories. Please contact me directly in order to be featured, or leave me a comment below. My only requirement is that you have one picture of the finished product to share with readers. Namaste!

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OM Pendant Necklace & Yummy Gemstones…

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This is a fairly new piece I designed…now finally up for sale. I have had these OM pendants in silver & gold culinary grade pewter for at least a couple of years. I knew They would make an absolutely stunning necklace, & when paired with faceted rondelle gemstones the final product is truly fantastic!

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It’s a toss up for me between lavender amethyst or moonstone as my fave stone. I also have pink amethyst, citrine, labradorite, lemon quartz & smoky lemon quartz…I will add more as I obtain more. Any gemstone suggestions/requests welcome…I am always up to add more! πŸ™‚

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Little Girl’s Necklaces

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Today I added charms to my girls’ necklaces, something that anyone can do with their order by browsing the add-onsΒ section. I’m sure my girls don’t appreciate the fact that not all mommies have the charm stash that theirs does. So this is what they chose to add to their necklaces with their names engraved…

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A note about the Hello Kitty charm: this was a birthday giftΒ for my oldest a couple years ago…I set the image in resin on the picture charm. For copyright reasons I do not offer this for sale. But if you have your own special image you would like to have made into a charm I’d love to talk to you about it! πŸ™‚

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A Custom Necklace…for my Daughter…

September means one thing in my household – my oldest’s birthday. She will be 4 this year, and for the past several months she has been pretty clear with what she wants: a “Hello Kitty” Necklace (just recently she also added a pink stroller for her doll but she is still pretty adamant on the Hello Kitty necklace :)).

My children have no idea what Sanrio even is. All they know is that Hello Kitty is a girl and is a cat – seeing that we have 3 cats at home, it was a natural gravitation to the Hello Kitty character. And it’s all my fault that they have any interest. I was introduced to Sanrio when I was about 11 or so by my Asian pen pals…so I couldn’t resist pointing out Sanrio merchandise on shopping trips for my own nostalgia…not to mention they inherited my Sanrio stationary from back in the day! (My favorite was actually kerokerokeroppi but we don’t live with any frogs so I guess he’s just not as appealing. ;)).

So to humor myself I did do some looking around different BBS and jewelry stores to see what exactly is on the market for Hello Kitty necklaces. What I found was not surprisingly disappointing. Either cheap materials for too much money or…well, let’s just say I am not buying anything encrusted with pink diamonds for my 4 year old! πŸ˜‰

This creative mama knew she could make it work, and personalized at that. I started looking at official licensed merchandise. The charms were much too big and not what I was looking for at all. I knew I was going to have to make my own charm. I had these small pewter flower picture frames that I knew would be perfect. Now where to get an image that is essentially 8mm in diameter? I didn’t want to print an image as I planned to set it in resin and I was dubious I could get a good image on our ink jet. So I thought stickers…still couldn’t find stickers small enough. Then it hit me: nail art stickers! One trip to Sephora and I was in business….

The nail sticker is set into the frame with a UV resin. Just 20 min. under a UV light (or set out in sunlight, which takes longer) and voila! Done! I added a 4mm ruby Swarovski crystal bead and an engraved silver plated disk with my daughter’s name. Since she is starting to take interest in the alphabet, particularly her name and her sister’s name, I thought plain text would be best rather than a fancy initial.

I finished the piece with a 14 inch sterling silver chain. I am quite pleased with the overall size…perfect for tiny necks. πŸ™‚

This was actually the first image I set in resin. I liked it better because the sticker was metallic so I thought it would look more like jewelry. However, once it set it was obvious that there was not enough contrast between the image and the metal of the photo charm. So my 2 year old will get this necklace…at that age she will care not that the image isn’t as strong as her sister’s, she will just be honored to have one as well. πŸ™‚

I will not be reproducing these necklaces for sale due to the copyrighted material. However if you have your own personal image you would like set in resin feel free to contact me. I have photo charms and pendants in several different sizes. πŸ™‚

 

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Personalized Necklaces – My latest Custom Engraving Order

I just shared this custom order on my Facebook page…and I mentioned there that I normally do not share custom requests. Normally the pieces I do are very personal in nature & I just don’t feel comfortable putting them out there.

This particular order, was a request by a business for their employees. I engraved the names, and added a pearl charm. And since the company is kickboxing – I found these adorable boxing glove charms. I really love the final product, and with prices of sterling going through the roof, happy to offer the engraving blank in a silver plated steel.

If you are from the Calgary area, why not check out this company run by women, for women? Kick butt and get in shape! Foxykickboxing.ca.

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Jewelry Inspired: Getting Started with Gemstones

Back when I started jewelry making, the thought of using actual gemstone beads in my designs seemed unattainable. I was unemployed, and I had to decide between jewelry making supplies or food much of the time.

Then one day while browsing ebay I stumbled upon chip beads. Long, 18 to 21 inch strands of stone chips with a hole drilled in each – and if you think of how many beads you get per strand, that makes them more affordable than machine cut glass beads.

I must admit in the beginning I had a hard time using these irregular shaped gems in designs. But soon I grew to appreciate the raw feel of the stone. It also was a good practice in judging detail. For example, if I were to make a pair of earrings with chip beads it is important to try & find beads that are similar in shape & size so that both the earrings in the pair appear balanced.

I still have quite a few chip beads from “back in the day”- and will even pick up a strand or two here and there at a Gem Show if they catch my eye. My only word of caution is, they can be soft & fragile due to their irregular shape thickness, so if wrapped too tightly they can break.

Here’s some examples of jewelry I have made with gemstone chips:

Malachite

Mookaite

Howlite (dyed)

Turritella agate

Red tiger eye

Lapis lazuli

emeralds

turquoise

amethyst

garnet

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Come Tour My Jewelry Box: Pearls from the Philippines

I attended a very dear friend’s wedding today, so I thought blogging about my pearls tonight would be fitting.

During my own wedding a few years ago, my mother’s dear friend whom she had known back in the Philippines traveled all the way from Switzerland to attend. That was an honour in itself, and then she gave me the gift of a string of pearls. What made them particularly special to me, is that they were hand picked from the Philippines. She gave me her blessing to go ahead and restring them.

So I decided to pair them up with some sparkly Swarovski crystal rondelles and add a sterling silver extender chain so that I would have the freedom to wear them at different lengths.

If I have never mentioned it before I will mention it now: I. Hate. Stringing. Pearls. I’ll do it, but I do not enjoy it. I admire anyone who can do it well and quickly: that just ain’t me. πŸ˜‰

I put two pearls aside to make matching earrings; coupled with silver-gray freshwater pearls for contrast.

Oddly enough, I didn’t wear this set today. πŸ™‚

I cherish having a classic set of pearls which hold such meaning for me.

Check out my fossil/slab necklaces also from my jewelry box. πŸ™‚

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Orphan Beads/Leftover Supply Project 5: Beaded Rings

I have been making rings like mad lately.

I don’t know why I never thought of this before, but what a great way to use up leftover beads: make some funky little cocktail-style rings with them! There are many affordable add-a-bead type ring bases on the market that you can purchase. These are silver-plated with an adjustable base. I love that they work up quickly and the end result is very cool!

It is a lot of fun to see what patterns emerge when you mix and match different beads. Wrapping them tightly in wire to finish them off makes a nice solid design…the shape is somewhat of a mystery until you finish wrapping.

I especially enjoy using different shapes. The end result is even more intriguing than your usual round bead.

Using up the mishmash of chip beads is by far my favourite material. The beads lay together tightly once wrapped & the colours of the stones blend together very well.

In fact the chip bead rings inspired a new limited edition collection I will be unveiling really soon…:)

Check out my orphan bead project: zipper pulls. πŸ™‚

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Come Tour My Jewelry Box: Fossils & Slabs

It’s no secret, to anyone who knows me, I love rocks. I was ecstatic to find out my now-husband likes rocks too. Between buying beads, minerals and specimens we can do some major damage at a Gem & Mineral Show. Eventually we both want to get into rock hounding & lapidary. For now we leave that to the experts and simply admire.

These pieces from my jewelry box, are what I call my homage to the Gem Show: Slabs. πŸ™‚

Above is an orthoceras, a common fossil. Both this slab & the one below were set into pendants by a Nova Scotian artist. These were purchased at the Parrsboro Gem & Mineral Show about 7 years ago. Paired with fossil beads (dyed black) and snowflake obsidian chip beads.

The above slab pendant, by the same artist, is paired with bull’s eye agate & flower jade beads, as well as milky quartz chip beads.

This pendant was from the LBS (local bead store). I loved the patterning of the agate & felt it went well with my collection. So I added this to the jewelry box a couple of years ago. πŸ™‚

My style ranges from the big & bold to the sweet & dainty. But everything has meaning. πŸ™‚

Check out my girls’ toddler bracelets also from my jewelry box.

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Come Tour My Jewelry Box: Grow-With-Me Toddler Bracelets

The next items I wanted to share from my jewelry box, are actually not for me at all, but for my two little ones.

I designed ID bracelets for them that could be adjusted as they grow (currently my girls are 16 months and almost 3 years). Now as they are very young they wear their bracelets as anklets. The bracelet is one continuous chain. I simply slip the piece over their foot & clasp where comfortable. When they grow large enough that I cannot slip it over their foot anymore, they can continue to wear them as bracelets (I can easily slip the 8 inches of chain over my hand to fit my wrist).

I thought of making them baby bracelets and then as they grow designing larger ones however I like the value of being able to use the same object for as long as possible. My jewelry philosophy is to make something that lasts, so why not make an item for growing children that grows with them.

Both bracelets are constructed out of sterling silver chain. The alphabet beads are culinary grade lead free pewter. Both contain their birthstones in Swarovski crystals & a small charm. I added two small freshwater pearls to Sophie’s design.

See more items from my personal jewelry box. Check out my Wedding Jewelry in this post. πŸ™‚

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Orphan Beads/Leftover Supply Project 1: Hair Accessories

After 12+ years of jewelry making, I have a lot of beads without a home. Meaning, they are leftovers from past projects – from one to a handful – that I just don’t know what to do with. So when I opened my Etsy Shop, I decided to challenge myself to come up with designs using just the orphans & leftovers. πŸ™‚

I am starting a blog series of quick & easy projects that can be done with leftover beads. I hope this helps kick start your creativity and for you beaders, gives you some inspiration as to what to do with those excess supplies.

The main key to these projects is making sure you have an excess of supplies that can be paired with your beads. So I always have on hand inexpensive ring bases, bead caps, hair pins, etc. that can be adorned with beads.

For idea #1, I give you the hairpin/barrette.

Having two little girls – who both were born with a lot of hair – is my inspiration for this project. I started decorating hair pins and barrettes for Sophie when she was 5 months old. She had quite a bit of hair to begin with, and the bangs were growing fast! I found these were a great way to use up the small lots of leftover beads.

I found out one day, that these hair pins also make great bookmarks! I needed to mark my page in a book, and one just happened to be lying around close by. And voila: dual purposed hair pin/bookmark. πŸ™‚

Besides the hair pins I also like to acquire some of the long metal barrettes to bead on:

Other ideas: bead head bands, hair elastics & hair combs. Hair accessories are an affordable supply to keep around for such projects. They are available practically everywhere. I am always picking them up on sale at local department stores or pharmacies. They are even sold these days at you local Dollar Store. πŸ™‚

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Come Tour My Jewelry Box: My Wedding Jewelry Then & Now

After my last post about my prophetic charm bracelet – it gave me the idea to start a series on my personal jewelry collection. Over the past couple of years I have really been pairing down the collection to just a few dear pieces. Here’s the rest of my wedding jewelry, then & now. πŸ™‚

I’m not exactly sure why I picked sapphire blue to be my corresponding wedding colour. I know that I wanted something different than the usual creams and lilacs and lavenders – & I was really into blue. I still find it an amazing “coincidence” that sapphire just happens to be Sophie’s birthstone…another major milestone in my life. πŸ™‚

The earrings, then. Sapphire Swarovski crystals and crystal clear Swarovski drops, on sterling silver components.

The earrings, today. The sterling silver wire has a nice patina now that matches the frame.

The necklace was made up of 4mm Swarovski bicone beads & Swarovski briolettes.

The necklace today:

I wasn’t sure if I would make a headpiece, as it was not something I had a lot of experience with. But after seeing my options on the market, I knew I had to make one. I wanted something really simple & understated rather than the usual bling that is out there for wedding head dress. So, not having much experience with wire, I just let it flow adding a few Swarovski crystal beads here and there.

I made it so that I could be worn as a choker necklace ter the big day.

The “tiara” today: you know I have only worn it as a necklace once since! πŸ™‚

The final piece was a last minute addition, & in the excitement of it all I didn’t get a “then” photo. But here it is “now”, my wedding anklet. πŸ™‚

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Jewelry Inspired: My Prophetic Charm Bracelet

If you are familiar with my work, or have ever picked up my business card, you may recognize this bracelet. It is the official logo for heavenlyflower.com.

This bracelet has a lot of significance beyond just being something pretty to use as a logo. This piece represents many facets of my life, and it is ever changing.

I designed this bracelet as part of my bridal jewelry. At the time, I wanted something that represented my wedding colours, and a few inspirational charms to serve as good luck for the big day. It wasn’t until after the wedding was long over that I realized that the bracelet held potential to become an ever-evolving keepsake of memories & symbolism.

The bracelet originally was made up of sapphire & clear Swarovski crystals, a few inspirational word charms (“celebrate”, ” honor”, “trust”, “wisdom”, “joy”), symbols (paw print charm for my love of animals, St. Francis of Assisi medal), and an “L” and “R” for our first initials. I also had a mother daughter charm (I will get to that one, shortly…). I used a magnetic clasp because I didn’t want to be fumbling with clasps on the big day! πŸ™‚

Fast forward 16 months after our wedding, and the birth of our first daughter. I started thinking about the bracelet again, and wanting to add elements to it that symbolized me now as a parent.

When I took the bracelet out of the jewelry box, I was astonished to realize that the two types of crystals used symbolized both my birthstone and my daughter’s (Sapphire for September – when Sophie was born, and April is diamonds – signified by clear Swarovski crystals). Sophie was supposed to be born in October – but was 2.5 weeks early. To me, this was fairly significant.

These past couple of years, I have added new elements. An ” S” for my daughter’s fist name, baby feet charm, and a ” Mom” charm. A ” teach” and “patience” charm when I needed to be reminded! Just recently I added an “A” for my second daughter, and updated the clasp to a sterling silver flower clasp.

I mentioned the mother-daughter charm earlier. I have half a heart that says “daughter” – I made a bracelet for my mother for my wedding, and it has the other half of the heart, that says “Mother”. Her bracelet contained the birthstones (symbolized with Swarovski crystals) for myself and two siblings.

My mother passed away suddenly on October 25, 2008 at the age of 54. My dad had asked me if I wanted her engagement ring, and at that moment of grief I decided that she should be buried with this bracelet (I wear her engagement ring on my right hand and am glad I decided to keep it).

Over the weekend I decided to add my youngest daughter’s birthstone to the bracelet – and I used Swarovski bicones instead of the round beads. Ava is very angular in features just like a little ram – she is an Aries afterall, and it just seemed to fit better. πŸ™‚

See the rest of my wedding jewelry in the post: Come Tour My Jewelry Box: My Wedding Jewelry Then & Now

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Jewelry Inspired: Custom Engraved Charm Necklace

I have been talking for several months now about my newly acquired manual engravers – AKA pantograph engraver or engravograph as New Hermes likes to call them.

I thought it was about time I finally shared a completed piece of jewelry showcasing their engraving abilities. πŸ™‚

I call this piece a charm necklace because of the size. It is dainty and meant for everyday wear. Above you see the Om symbol engraved onto a 18x11mm sterling silver blank. (Besides the Om, I also have a Celtic knot, mother/child (which you will see in an up-coming post),Β  heart, butterfly, flower, awareness ribbon, cross, as well as several logos of organizations. I can order more shapes and symbols upon request). Above it hangs a 4mm freshwater pearl – symbolizing wisdom, faith, focus & luck.

I then added a birthstone fairy in Swarovski crystal – the birthstone is emerald, for May.

Here’s a view of the back of the engraved charm – “Aurore” – the name of the recipient (this was a birthday gift for a dear friend – the entire piece is inspired by her).

A view of how the piece hangs when worn.

I loved this design, & decided to make one for myself! Here is the back of mine, showing my name engraved in a cursive font.

Just to get an idea of the size. It is small and ideal for everyday wear – I wear mine almost everyday!

So a little background – how does the pantograph engravers work? I’ll do a future blog post illustrating how they work exactly, but essentially they are large tracing machines. You have fonts and logos usually constructed out of the traditional brass, however recently I have also discovered a kind of hard resin that glides like butter in my machine, & it’s a fraction of the price of the brass sets (for example, a new brass font set with a fancy lettering can run you upwards of $800!) One end of the arm traces the font or logo plate while the other end has a diamond bit graver that engraves the image onto the metal. It works in ratios, so if you have it set to a 2:1 ratio – usually the largest size, the engraved image will be half the size of the template….and through approximately 12 different settings (including half sizes), gets smaller from there.

Unlike hand-stamped jewelry, engraving in this manner will give you a near-perfect image since it’s tracing a template. It does take a bit of practice and skill to not slip while tracing and get the even pressure (since this is manual afterall!) necessary. Also, blackening the image via oxidation as is the norm with hand stamping will give an engraved image a dull appearance – it is best to simply let it it remain in the colour of the metal. (I love hand stamping too and is another skill I hope to acquire down the road! It is a totally different look & feel!).

My mind is bursting with ideas…but before I get ahead of myself, the plan moving forward is to use this piece as the test object for mywebsite of custom jewelry. If all goes well with the programming I will add more pieces from there.

Until then, for more info on ordering this piece contact me directly: leilani@heavenlyflower.com

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Jewelry Inspired: What Summer Means to Me

Artbeads offered us bloggers a chance to try out some supplies* & design a summer theme. My first instinct is to gravitate toward blues, yellows, pinks, white: bright colours & pastels. Then I stopped myself. That is my assumption of summertime jewelry. But what does summer mean to me?

I grew up in Nova Scotia, so the ocean was never far away. But I grew up in the Annapolis Valley – so the ocean was not the prominent landscape. Now that I live in QuΓ©bec, I live near a lake. So there is indeed water, but like the muddy banks of the Bay of Fundy, it is not the crystal clear blue/green water you will see in the Caribbean. It has more of an earthy quality.

Thinking of where I spend most of my time in the summer months, I like to be outside in my garden: either working with the dirt or relaxing in the shade when it’s too hot. I like to observe the plant life and insects as they exist in harmony with one another.

In the summer, you will see me in a lot of khakis, earth-toned capris & shorts: tank tops – very simple & casual. If I go out to an event, chances are you will see me in a simple black dress and black thong sandals. So it occurred to me – what summer means to me: spending time connecting with the earth & casual socializing.

After this contemplation, I decided to choose two pendants from Artbeads that I thought most represented me in the summer months.

This 18x25mm onyx pendant is hand painted with a butterfly by a Russian artist. Butterflies are very symbolic for me: they represent beauty in nature, as well as transformation – something I strive to do many times in my life. This pendant would be perfect in a casual outfit or little black dress.

As mentioned in my last post, I had a hard time choosing colours for this piece. I just have too many hues of yellow & orange in my vast stash of beads! I ended up going with just a splash of colour with these 4mm jade beads. Too much colour with the black onyx and it would look too halloween-ish or bumble bee-ish! Plus I wanted the beauty of the pendant to take center stage & not get lost in a sea of bright colour. So I used mostly onyx beads (6mm and 4mm), sterling silver chain & bead caps.

When I approached the design for the second pendant, I didn’t have to look far for the perfect matching component. Something about this stoneware pendant reminded me of a particular bead. Was it wood? No. It would have to be a stone, with many different colour layers. Then it hit me: Moukite!

Moukite (or mookaite, “mook jasper”) is a type of jasper found in Australia. I love this stone for it earthy colours & broad patterns – anywhere from reddish-brown, gold, white, or even mauve/pinks! It was the perfect compliment to this pendant, which is made of glazed stoneware clay.

The pendant easily accommodates the 10mm beads. I decided to break up the bulk of the beads & add interest with these 8mm sterling silver twisted rope jump rings, mainly because they reminded me of the pattern of the white flower in the pendant.

I thought I’d share a tip: I wanted the rings to lay flat on the neckline. In order to achieve this, I had to pay close attention to the pattern. I noticed that I had to twist the loop wraps around the single beads (the group of three beads have their loops facing the same direction). I had to make sure that the wrapped loops on the single beads were alternating: meaning, instead of them facing the same direction , I needed to have one facing outward. Here is a picture that hopefully will illustrate what I mean (sorry it’s a bad picture):

I held the loop to the left with my fingers, then gently twisted the loop on the right with my pliers 90 degrees. This variance in the loops means the rings laid flat against my neckline instead of sticking out uncomfortably.


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Adventures in Brass: Part Two ~ The Initial Project

My first piece that I made via the brass oxidizing experiment was really, really crude – but it worked up fast. I know my fellow jewelry makers will appreciate the sentiment of just completing a project so that you gain the experience in working with the material – even of the end result is not up to your standards.

The piece turned into two pieces actually – a pair of earrings and a bracelet.

I cut out t he metal using a pair of shears. Then rounded and filed the corners smooth. With a sharpie, I marked where I wanted to punch holes with the screw punch. (You can see another project there on the left working up…for another day. :)). These pictures are straight from the bench, so you see the creative chaos first hand. Sometimes I need to drop what I am doing to develop another idea before I totally forget it. So there are normally many projects on the go at once!

After the holes are punched, I flattened/work hardened the brass using a brass mallet and leather sand bag. Then, the brass pieces were ready for earring assembly…

The completed earrings, with onyx and gold-filled components.

With the rest of the pieces of brass plate, I decided to punch holes – two on each side – and attach together with jump rings.

Sorry terrible pic – but I laid them out staggering the sizes and lightness/darkness from the two brass trophy plates this once was…(and a peek of yet another project in the top right…;)).

Added a magnetic clasp and…there you have it.

These two pieces will be displayed in my workspace as my first ever metal work pieces. I think that it will be neat to see the progression of skill in a few years time. I wish I had of kept the first piece of beaded jewelry I made over eleven years ago! But, I probably sold it! LOL!

Now that I got this get-a-feel-for-techniques project out of the way, my mind is going a mile a minute with ideas. The other projects I am working on involve incorporating the engraver so I am anxious to get them completed and shared. Let’s see how much life gets in the way of play! Stay tuned!

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Adventures in Brass: Part One ~ Oxidizing

I inherited a lot of trophy brass for my engravers. Besides practicing engraving, I thought I would try my hand at some fun techniques and see what happens. I haven’t had any formal training in metal nor have a worked with it before, other than some crude wire work. I just like to think up an idea and try it out and see what comes of it.

The first thing I did was create patterns on the brass plate using a paper embosser.

Then I needed to rub the surface with a very fine steel wool as trophy plate has a coating to protect it from tarnishing. The steel wool will remove the coating and this is the area that we will oxidize. The effect depends on how much of the coating you remove, but generally, the recessed areas will remain with the coating while the top will not.

The brass oxidizer I have is for the colour black and I got it from an engraving supplier, but is available from many sources including jewelry supply shops. This is an acid so you want to wear gloves and keep out of reach of children.

I used a Q-Tip to apply the solution to my brass plate.

I applied the oxidizer evenly over the surface of the brass plate.

Almost instantly, you will see the brass turn black.

Wipe off the excess…and there you have it. Oxidized, patterned brass. I applied a jewelry wax sealer to the end product.

So what to do with this brass plate? Part two will be the a peek into the projects…