Friday, February 20, 2009

Shop Renewal Clearance Sale- 50% Off

I have a nice selection of bracelets, necklaces and earrings, and sets, made with semiprecious beads and sterling silver beads and findings. I really love finding pretty beads and combining their metaphysical energies to create pieces that are beautiful but with a purpose. I have a real affection for handmade sterling silver beads from Bali, so you will see them in most of my beaded jewelry.

I started making beaded jewelry about 15 years ago. As I have learned more about the stones and beads in my jewelry I have developed new interests in metal work and other styles of jewelry. So I am shifting my focus. And as I do, I am letting go of a lot of the pieces that I have made in my 'beaded period' at incredible prices.

Every piece of beaded jewelry in my shop is now on sale at 50% off. I have never had a sale like this and I'm excited to see what will happen.Here's the link:

I'll be adding more sale items soon, so bookmark my store and check back again.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Customer is Always Right

It is magical, in my opinion, to take an idea and turn it into physical object. As I've said before, I really enjoy making things for people. I love collaborating with a client to create a piece that they will cherish. Most of the time, the design process goes really quickly. I am able to capture the intent of the work relatively quickly, draw up the design and then I'm on to fabrication.

I have had one especially tricky customer. She has such a clear idea of what she wants that it should be simple, but for some reason, it usually isn't. You build a relationship with a person in the process of creating. In this case, the relationship predated the creative process by about 10 years. I guess that has something to do with the added challenge.
This summer, when River and I were going to get married, (again, this time legally, for the time being anyway) I wanted her to have a wedding ring that I made her. (Besides, I lost her last one on our trip to Hawaii.) So I asked her what she wanted.
Of course she had a perfectly clear picture of what she wanted. Something "butch" but also with "bling". She picked out the ring stock, and the stone. I told her, 'there is no way that will look good.' We discussed it further and I decided I would give it a try. (I buckled.) I was sure it was going to be a disaster. She wanted two big thick rings next to each other, but not touching and a great big white topaz on top. It would look heavy and awkward and would be a never-ending embarrassment to me, or at least until death do us part.

The concept was simple but the execution would prove to be rather challenging. The rings were formed on a "finger-shaped" mandrel which is a sort of rounded square. This would add to the already boxy design we had going. If you're going to do it, you might as well go all the way.
So, to attach the rings together, yet not allow them to touch, I used the setting for the stone as the only point of contact. I had a heck of a time getting those rings attached to the setting with proper contact, straight and evenly spaced. It took about 6 tries, soldering, unsoldering and re-soldering, but eventually I got it right.

During the finishing process, I had a lot of cleaning up to do around the setting and that left the bands pretty scratched up. I filed and sanded down any stray solder. Then I brushed the whole ring on a bench grinder. I liked the look. The brushed finish saved me the drama of having to polish it to a perfect shine and I liked the contrast of the brushed metal and the shiny stone. So, I set the stone and showed River. She loved it. I had to admit that I liked it when it was finished. It certainly suits her and she has gotten more compliments on that ring than on the expensive diamond rings we had made for us years ago.
One evening when we were out to dinner a woman approached us as we were leaving the restaurant. She actually grabbed River's hand and said she had been staring at her ring all through her dinner and had to get a closer look before we left. So, I guess River's idea was a good one.

Didn't they use to say, "The customer's always right"?

Yes, Honey, lesson learned.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

It's not an Orange and Purple Snowman...

I love making presents, even if, maybe especially if they are for someone else.
So, at Xmas party a friend saw my jewelry, River's wedding ring, and said she wanted to have me make something for her.
A few weeks later she contacted me and said she wanted me to make a pendant for her friend's birthday. Yeah!
So the process goes like this:
She wants a cabochon that relates to her friend.
I send her pics of all my cabs with recommendations, She decides.
I make a 3 cool sketches with the moonstone cab that she wanted.
Brandy loves the sketches, but remembers that she and her friend already got matching moonstone pendants. (Bummer)
Brandy picks a couple of new stones. So, back to the drawing board. This time with the computer, fewer steps. ( I like the second round of designs better!)
Brandy pics a design and we are off to the races.

So I went into the studio and started fabrication on the piece. I marked up the sheet using the stones as templates. the made bezels for each of the stones. I roughly cut out the sheet backing and soldered the bezel down to the sheet. This sounds a lot easier than it is. The small one went quickly, but the larger one took about 5 tries to get the solder to flow all the way around. I trimed the edges of the backing sheet and shaped them into ovals to match the cabochons. Then, filed, sanded and polished until all the edges were even and smooth. The I shaped the tubing into a curve. (Again easier said than done.) Tubing will collaps when you bend it unless you fill it up with something that will prevent that from happening. Some use pitch, some use ice, some use wire. I decided to combine two things and use bamboo skewer, shaved down to fit into the tube, then for added drama, I soaked it in water and froze it. I bent the tube, and it still kinked. But in the end I think it turned out alright. Maybe I will try pitch next time, (or purchase a piece of bent tubing.) I challenge my self by using the most basic of materials. I am beginning to understand that sometimes shortcuts are more about efficiency than laziness.

So I hope that Brandy and her recipient like the pendant. I am happy with how it turned out. What do you think?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Exquisite Adornments for Extraordinary People

I was featured in the December issue of Moonshine Ink, a local paper in Truckee, CA.

It's always interesting to read what a reporter writes about you after an interview. She did a nice job. And I even like the picture that Court Leve took of me working in my studio!

Here's a link to the article:

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Weatherman's Cufflinks

So, this is a project that is especially special to me. My friend Carlos Faura is a weatherman. He worked at KOLO TV in Reno in the mornings when I met him. I used to watch his weather reports before I went to work. He has always been so complimentary about my jewelry. Every family birthday, when the birthday person passed their presents around, he would take such a close look at the gifts that I would make. He was complimentary, like most people are, but he would also ask questions about the designs and the techniques used to make the pieces. He was sincerely interested in each piece he saw of mine.

Most guys I know don't wear jewelry other than a wedding ring, so I only made jewelry for the girls. But Carlos was a special case. If anyone should have a custom made piece of jewelry it's him. He has a shirt with french cuffs, that is the type you need cufflinks for. So I made these for him. Weatherman cufflinks for my favorite weatherman. Sunny, partly cloudy, showers and thunderstorms.