Saturday, February 27, 2010

A little something for St. Patrick's Day

I really don't get into St. Patrick's day too much these days. Back in the day it was always a good excuse to drink lots of beer and buy cool green attire. Now a days, I make sure the kids have a little something green and usually forget about myself.

I also don't really want a big ol' shirt that says "Kiss me! I'm Irish!!!" either. So this year, I planned ahead and ordered these really pretty Jade briolettes, in the perfect shade of St. Patrick's Day green. And, because I am so original, I made a little shamrock from sterling silver to go with it. Ahhhhhhhh!

So, I had some Jade beads left over, and decided I should make a cute pair of earrings too. So I found these hammered silver links on my mess of a bench that I made eons ago and never did anything with, and wire wrapped the briolettes. I oxidized all the metal and gave it a lovely brushed finish that is my very favorite antiqued finish.

I also tried a little something new when I photographed these. I'm getting tired of the rocks, so I decided to start experimenting with different props to create visual interest in my photos that isn't distracting from the jewelry.

Anyway..... I'm off to list both of these at AmyNicoles on Etsy!

Friday, February 26, 2010

2nd team challenge....

Spring Is Sprung

Spring is sprung,
De grass is riz,
I wonder where dem birdies is?

De little birds is on de wing,
Ain’t dat absurd?
De little wing is on de bird!

This is a nursery rhyme. At least that's what it said when I looked it up online. It's not a nursery rhyme I've ever heard of. I don't really get it to be honest. Is it like a Cajun nursery rhyme or something? With all the de's and the dat and the dem? Or is that a New York accent? I don't know!

Huh? I keep saying it over and over trying to make it click. Trying to get the words to form a picture in my head. It just isn't happening.

Why agonize over a silly nursery rhyme you ask? Well, I have recently joined a new team on Etsy, called Aspiring Metalsmiths. It's really cool to compare notes with other beginners. Of course there are plenty of seasoned metalsmiths too, and their advice is priceless!

Our first challenge was to make a ring. Any ring. Easy enough. The 2nd challenge, make something using this nursery rhyme as your inspiration. Just metalsmith something. I have until the 19th of March to come up with something.

Ok so the last paragraph is what's really getting me. I'm assuming it is a play on words. "De little birds is on de wing" Like, the birds are flying right? And it's absurd because de wing is on de bird? Using "wing" as well, a wing. I guess maybe I do get it and just don't find it amusing. I don't know.....

So, I'll be thinking about de wing of de bird, on de wing, and how absurd it all is.

PS.. I just found this version of the rhyme. Too funny!

Spring has sprung;
The grass has ris.
I wonder where
The birdie is?
There he is
In the sky.
He dropped some
Whitewash in my eye!

I am no sissy;
I won't cry.
I'm just glad
The cows can't fly!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Some of Isabella's art work

This was the first painting she did in September. She had spent the two years previous in classes with an artist whose preferred medium was water color. She stopped doing classes and we had to find a new art teacher. We luckily got an excellent tip about an artist in the neighborhood who did private lessons from her home. Isabella started working with her one on one in September.

Isabella loves owls. It's funny, because there have been owl everything all over Etsy, and people were starting to make fun of them in the forums. But Isa LOVES owls. She has an owl back pack, owl pictures, stuffed owls, owl shirts, she draws owls, and as you can see... she paints owls.

This for me is her masterpiece. I think it is her best piece to date. I absolutely adore this one.

This one she finished last night. It is a piece after Vincent Van Gogh, but I haven't looked up which one it is yet. I'll go on a search for it here in a minute and then update this post. She also informed me last night that Van Gogh was her favorite artist. And then she said , "Wait. He's the one that did Starry Night right?" When I told her that was right, she reaffirmed that he was her favorite.

Then we talked a little about how poor Van Gogh struggled with mental illness, wasn't famous during his lifetime, cut off his own ear and tried to kill himself. (Brutal) Her only comment was that he made really great paintings anyway, and surely that must have made his family famous.

I think it's cool that she loves Starry Night. It is the very painting that spoke to me in my youth, in fact it is one of the only cheesy prints of a famous painting I ever bought and framed. That and the painting of the irises. But that's another story............

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sunflower Earrings

I finished these last night. I think the last photo depicts best how these look in person. Don't they look just like little sunflowers? I love them. And, also my favorite dangly length! (2 1/4" from the top of the ear wire). I oxidized them and gave them a brushed finish.

I do need to give credit to where credit is due though. The use of findings in metalsmithing is all over Etsy right now. I don't know for certain who was the first to use them, but I do know the first person I saw use them. It was an amazing artist known to the jewelry world as RosyRevolver. You must check out her shop and her work. Unbelievably amazing. She is my jewelry hero!

I'll be listing Sunflowers in the shop this evening!

My daughter the artist...

This is my oldest daughter. She won first place in her school's Reflections contest for visual arts in her age category. Reflections is a competition in different art forms. Visual Arts, musical composition, literary, movie production, ( I think that's all the categories).

She did a picture of a gorgeous parrot in oil pastels. I'm so proud of her. It is the 3rd competition she has placed in, and she's only 7! I really hope to encourage her to continue. She's been saying she wants to be an artist since she was in pre-school. I wish I knew what I had wanted to be from an early age.

She takes private lessons every week from a wonderful artist and person that lives very close to us. My daughter loves the one on one instruction and the work she comes out of there with is very impressive.

I really need to take the time to take some pictures of her other pieces to show you.

Here she is with her trophy. It was her first trophy, and she is so proud. And so am I. Can you tell? :)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Eating crow, or humble pie if you will.....

I posted a bit of a rant against ArtFire not too long ago here on my blog. It was basically me debating on whether I wanted to go to a Pro account over there. And, then, I might have said a few not so nice things about the visual aesthetics of their site.

I always regret anything negative that I put out into the world. There is something about the written word that is worse though because it is irrefutable proof that it was said.

So, ArtiFire, I'm sorry for saying you were only the anti-Etsy and your front page was a visual assault to the eyes. In my defense, that post came on a day that I was thoroughly disgusted with some of the people posting on the AF forums. It was unfair to judge the whole place by their clientele. I have to remember that it literally takes all kinds to make up a community. Some ok, some not so ok.

Not like it's any different at Etsy. They have their fair share of nutters as well. But, I digress. This is supposed to be an apology and a positive post. :)

I guess this apology is being fueled by the fact that last night I pushed that button on ArtFire. You know the one that says "Upgrade to Pro"? So, after all that, I did go pro at AmyNicole on ArtFire.

I don't know if it was the right move or not. We'll see, I figure the extra exposure can't hurt, and Etsy's fees are eating my lunch. Not that I would ever leave Etsy. I love that place. But ArtFire really has some cool features.

The one I love best is that customers don't need to have an ArtFire account to purchase from you. They can just purchase directly off the site, pay and that's it. A lot of people don't want the hassle of setting up an account at Etsy just to buy a pair of earrings. The other really great thing is that for some reason the listings at AF show up in Google searches much better than the Etsy Listings. I have had a ton of hits on my Be Still My Heart necklace from people searching for custom birthstone jewelry.

So, going forward, I am going to take each on-line market place for what it is and enjoy the things I like about each of them. Complaining about it isn't going to change anything. I just need to make it work for me!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Bella Flor - Blue Chalcedony and Sterling Silver

A little something new. Square faceted cuts of Blue Chalcedony in an antique inspired setting.

Bella Flor, beautiful flower, I love these earrings. Feminine, romantic, and the loveliest shade of blue. They even look good with jeans. :)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Forever Blooming.....

Yes, I've changed my blog around again. And I haven't gotten a chance to add my name to the banner on the blog. I bought Adobe Photoshop Elements for Mac last week, but haven't found the time to mess around with it yet. I'm hoping it will allow me to add text to my photos, and other cool stuff. We'll see.

I am so darned excited to show off this necklace that I just couldn't wait.

I am THRILLED with the way it turned out. When I showed it to my husband, he looked at it for awhile and said "you're getting better aren't you?" Thanks. I think.......

The stones are Amethyst. The necklace measures 16" in length, but I've added an extender and it can be worn up to 18". The asymmetry of the stones on the chain is new for me. I'm usually the type that needs things to be symmetrical, but I really love how it looks on.

I've really been on a major floral kick recently. I think it must be the feeling that Spring is just around the corner.

Forever Blooming will be in the shop this evening!

Monday, February 15, 2010

A new feature!

Being a beginner at metalsmithing, I am bound to make some mistakes huh? I am learning so much just by jumping in and making jewelry. Take these two rings for example. They are both beautiful, and they are good enough to wear! They don't need to be stuffed in the back of the drawer somewhere. But, they each have a little flaw that will not allow the perfectionist in me to try to sell them as 100% perfect.

So, I have decided to offer my slightly flawed pieces here on my blog for the price of materials only. I am hoping to give some of you out there a chance to own a piece of artisan jewelry made with quality material, and give myself the opportunity to make beautiful new pieces and hopefully less mistakes!

Even though these pieces are being sold as is, I will not try to sell anything that I think will fall apart, or the stone will come out. I just feel that they are big enough problems that they need to disclosed.

So, to the right of this post, you will find these two rings listed. If you click on the photos, you will be directed to Flickr to view more photos. If you decide to purchase, just click on the "Buy Now" button.

Thank you for your continued support! My customers mean the world to me!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

I feel like the luckiest girl in the world today. This is my Valentine's Day gift from the kids and my husband. A 1 lb box of Almond Squares from See's Candy.
Have you seen a more beautiful sight? (let's have that one more time up close, shall we? :) )

Oh yeah, and they are MINE. Allllllllll mine!!!!! I'm going to eat Almond squares until my jaw hurts and there is so much caramel stuck in my teeth I actually start to think I will never get it all out. I want to eat Almond Squares while cuddling my box and rocking back and forth with a silly grin on my face. I love these things.

What did you get for Valentine's day?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A few new items this week......

Flower studs in solid sterling silver

Carnelian and Sterliing Necklace

Sapphire and Sterling Necklace

I have an amethyst and sterling necklace in the works, and a mixed metals pendant. After that I'm feeling another ring design is in order.......

Thursday, February 11, 2010

It's snowing!

I'm sure everyone else in the DFW metroplex thinks I am crazy, but I kinda like all the snow. I grew up in a part of the country that had snow for a minimum of 4 months out of the year. Now that, I don't miss. But to be lucky enough to see snow twice so far in the past few months here in Texas has been wonderous. There is something about the way the snow blankets everything, and clings to the bare branches of the trees that makes me feel light and happy to be breathing in the cold air.

The streets are a slushy mess right now, and late tonight and tomorrow morning the roads will be treacherous with ice build up. I am anticipating there will be no school tomorrow. Luckily the snow for us is a rarity, so we can stand it for a few days.

My husband is in sunny LA right now where the temperature is about 70 degrees. He is due to fly home tonight, I hope the airport will be open!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sometimes when I need a good laugh....

I visit Etsy's Alchemy. Don't get me wrong, there are several legitimate requests on there. I have gotten several commissions that way. But seriously, the audacity of some people. My favorites are the links to other artists work on Etsy who charge $ 60 + dollars for an item but they only want to pay $ 20 for you to re-create it. And they are sellers on Etsy too! How happy would they be to see an alchemy request with a link to one of their items stating they'd be willing to pay a third to have it made? Unreal.

Since I deal in jewelry related items, I am always most interested in these. There are always a lot of requests for hand stamped discs. That they only want to pay .50 a piece for. Hello!!!! The sterling silver alone will be $ 4.00. And you don't think someone deserves to be paid for the time they spent cutting the disc, sanding, stamping, etc, etc, etc. That their time and skill is worth nothing?

Ok, some of them genuinely have no idea how much something they are requesting costs. But then there are the ones trying to get over by having another artist copy a design. I really only look at the jewelry related ones, but I'm sure all the other categories get hit the same way.

I don't know about you, but when I made a conscious effort to support the hand made community, I knew in all likelihood I would be paying MORE for items that were hand made not LESS. People who hand craft items are putting not only their well honed skills to work, they are putting their hearts and souls into their work. They aren't sitting in a factory mass producing costume jewelry that will be sold at some discount department store, and will be worn by every other discount shopper in the world. Sheesh.

Sorry for the rant. It started out as a good laugh that quickly descended into a mad cackle! Ok, I'm done now....

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I've been doing some metalsmithing.....

This is my 2nd fully metalsmithed ring. The stone is dumorterite. It is a dark blue with black flecks in it. My husband and daughter both said they didn't think the stone was very pretty. But I like it. I liked it when I first bought the stone, and I still like it now. I have always loved navy blue, and the darkness of this stone drew me in right away.

Anyone recognize the setting? Yep, Bali style daisy spacers. I gotta say that I have been inspired by JJ of RosyRevolver on Etsy and Tess of NovaofSweden on Etsy. I am really new to metalsmithing, but these ladies use of commercial findings in metalsmithing have opened up my mind to the uses of the materials I have on hand. I actually had these in the destash pile to sell in my supply shop, but like I said, these ladies have inspired me to think of other uses for beads and bead caps in other ways.

And this is, you guessed it, my 3rd metalsmithed ring. I wanted to give myself a challenge with this ring. Making a bezel on a curved surface. The stone is Turquoise, mined in my home state of Nevada near Tonapah. I love this stone. The little smattering of matrix in the bottom half looks like a close up on a birds eye view of a peninsula and a string of islands surrounded by the clearest blue green water you've ever seen.

You'll also see in the last photo a little mountain range with the sun rising (or setting?) behind it with my initials stamped below. I am experimenting with a maker's mark. I think I will settle on this for now (get it? Ruby Mountain....Amy Nicole? :)), until I have an extra few hundred lying around to have a custom stamp designed. Yes! They cost that much! It will probably take me forever to decide on a design for one anyway.

I've been busy making ear wires and head pins from copper and brass for RubyMtnBeads. I'm making them in shiny finish, and antiqued. I've been antiquing them a dark brown and then throwing them in the tumbler to give them the loveliest sheen. I'm going to try to get them listed tonight at Etsy and ArtFire. I'm also going to list some bulk wire that I've given that same gorgeous patina for those who would like to use it in wire wrapping, making your own ear wires, head pins, or whatever!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I love step!

I do my best to make it to the gym at least 3 times a week. I don't lift weights, or swim, or do the stairclimber, or treadmill. I take Master Step classes. It is advanced choreographed step aerobics. I love it.

I am quite uncoordinated, and I have fallen at least 4 or 5 times in class, and I am not what you would call graceful in the least, but I love to step. For that hour I can forget everything and pretend that I can actually dance. I started going regularly about 2 1/2 years ago.

Yes, I lost a few pounds since I started, but that isn't really the reason I go. I have found that, for me, cardio makes my life better. I sleep better, my mood is better, my body feels stronger. I still have that nagging feeling that I could be doing more fitness wise, but for now this is good.

My Aunt and my Mom both have problems with their sciatica. Something about nerve damage in the lower back that results in a shooting pain down the leg. My poor Aunt has been on crutches for years, can't stand, sit, or lie down in any one position without excruciating pain. My Mom recently started having problems, about six months ago. When I saw her at Thanksgiving she was having the excruciating pain.

I'm scared that I am heading in the same direction. I've had some periodic numbness in the toes of my left foot off and on for the past few months. I don't know if there is anyway to stop it, or if it is something that is going to come no matter what I do, but my Mom told me that if she had any advice on the subject, it would be to keep moving. So I do, and I notice the numbness is worse when I slack off on going to the gym. It is horribly time consuming. It takes 2 hours out of my day every time I go, but I have to make it a priority.

If anyone is interested, I found a video on You Tube of an advanced step class. Click here to view video If you like what you see, give it a try if they offer a class at your local gym. I will warn you, it takes some time to catch on, but once you do, it is so much fun!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Thinking out loud.

I just recently went pro at ArtFire for my supply shop. While perusing the forums this afternoon, I found a post saying that in March they're going to raise the pro sellers fee to $ 15 a month. It might have even been 15.95, I can't remember.

This gives me food for thought. Do I want to go pro with AmyNicole over there too? I have a basic account right now, that is so dead, I forget it exists. Which could be part of the problem, that I forget it I mean. I don't do any promotion at all over there for my jewelry. I have started promoting RubyMtnBeads a little though. No results yet.

Here is my conundrum. Does ArtFire have potential? Or are they just the anti-Etsy? I'm not trying to be harsh. I'm just trying to look at the place with open eyes. Is this going to be good for my business? I don't know what Etsy was like at the beginning. I just wish I had found them sooner. ArtFire is not really visually appealing. There I said it.

I love the fact that ArtFire is trying to be fair to everyone, ie front page items are rotated at random, searches by relevancy, unchecked forums, etc, etc, whatever. But the front page is a visual assault to the eyes. It is not appealing at all. Just any old thing, photographed any which way is up there. I mean there is plenty of less than pretty items on Etsy too, but you don't see them on the front page.

I've seen complaints in the Etsy forums that the front page is only geared to attracting a certain clientele. Which I do agree with, however, the beauty of the front page makes buyers want to walk in the cyber doors and have a look around the place.

I've seen questions in the AF forum about why AF doesn't have a just sold feed like Etsy does. Could it be because they just aren't making the sales over there? Oh, AF forums. So boring. Except when they're fighting. Don't get me started.

Anyway, after all this, I think I have answered my own question. I just don't think I can justify spending an extra $ 144 a year for AmyNicole on AF. The place just isn't there yet. Who knows when and if it ever will be.