28 August 2007

Rethinking the Clasp

Putting things on leather has challenged my ideas on how to finish a necklace because my usual crimping methods won't work on the leather ends. I've bought a few different kinds of end caps and crimp ends, but I haven't been happy with them, and some have turned out to be entirely unreliable. So, in yet another wire-wrapping experiment, I came up with the above solution... and since it's so interesting and works well with the organic nature of this piece, I decided to put the clasp in front instead of hiding it in back. The best part is that I make the whole end-cap-and-clasp configuration myself -- no purchased ready-made parts -- which makes my pieces just that much more personal.

24 August 2007

Stone, Transformed

I have found The Source. Of the stones I love so much. Here. Dean Crane and Conne Gibson invented the wedge slide shape I've been using so much lately and, amazingly, they live and work here in Magdalena! What are the chances? I have an appointment on Monday to see their studio and their work, and I think I might swoon when I get there. I have no money to spend right now, but it's always nice to look, right?

21 August 2007

Jewels. Fiber. YUM.

I made this necklace in June, a week or so after attending the Albuquerque Fiber Arts Fiesta and just about swooning at all the amazing fiber arts. All the fibers in this necklace, as well as the copper beads, came from vendors at the show, and as I sat down to play with them it took but a few minutes for my mind to envision *something* in turquoise, peridot, copper, and fiber. It took about a week to execute, and it was fun all along the way.

When I put this piece out in my showcase, I hardly expected anyone to snap it up -- it's a labor of love, something to catch people's eyes, and fairly pricey although in fact underpriced given the labor and materials. People gaze at it, exclaim over it, and then buy the $12 pair of earrings or $30 bracelet next to it. But today a gentleman called and asked if I'd hold this necklace for him; his wife "just fell in love" with it and can't seem to stop thinking about it, and he wants to pick it up for her when he's back in town next week. So although I'll be a bit sad to part with it, I'm always happy when someone wears a piece into which I put a lot of thought and creativity.

And I have another one going in purples, and one on the drawing board in autumn colors.... They'll be much different, from this piece and from each other, but I'm pleased to be playing in both fiber and stones, my two favorite media.

30 July 2007

Inspired by...

I have several basketry works in my store by a wonderful artist, Holly Modine, and I'm often awed by her use of natural forms such as deer antlers and cholla cactus skeletons in her pieces. Basket weaving is generally considered a "fiber art," a collection of media recently (and deservedly) elevated from craft to art status among Those Who Know.

Once again, I have found a way bring a seemingly unrequitable obsession to my jewelry and come up with something I love. Eni Oken, a wildly unique and fabulous jewelry designer, has created an essentially new jewelrymaking form by adapting basketry concepts and techniques to wireworking. I made the pendant above using one of her tutorials, adapting it to a front-drilled turquoise slab and using 24-gauge on 20-gauge sterling wire. Eni recommends using 28- or even 30-gauge wire for her intense, fine wirewrapping, and after wrestling with a few pieces I understand why -- but it's hard to find. So I'm on a quest, yet again -- I think I've found it *at a good price* at Artbeads.com, but if anyone knows of other sources, please let me know.

27 July 2007

New stones

My newest batch of gemstone slide pendants is a doozy -- this time I found one in rhodochrosite (the pink banded stone), one in sugilite (purple), and several in black matrix with tantalizing traces of turquoise. Yesterday, a woman from New York bought one of my bluest turquoise slides on black leather and just wore it out of the store. She was wearing white, and it looked fabulous on her -- I can only imagine how unique it will be when she gets back to the city. Seeing someone wear and enjoy my jewelry is immensely gratifying, even more so when I know they won't see anything like it anywhere else.

24 July 2007

"Oh, my 3-year-old could do that!"

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, eh? I adore this necklace that my girl made yesterday -- she asked me for some of my "special string" (beading wire), so I pulled out a piece, finished one end to hold the beads, and handed it over. Here's what she handed back, and dang this mama is proud! All I did was add the pearls at the ends (she couldn't maneuver them onto the wire; the holes are tiny) and finish it off with a magnetic clasp so she can put it on and take it off any time she wants to.

This morning when we got to the store, she insisted I put it in the jewelry showcase. "I made this to sell, mama!" But I don't think *I* can part with my girl's first jewelry creation...

20 July 2007

An Experiment

From my "personal collection" (a.k.a. Not Ready for Prime Time Pieces), here's the woven copper cuff I mentioned the other day. I haven't polished it since I made it six or so months ago, and I wear it almost every day, so it's gradually taking some patina that gives the wirework more depth. When it gets a bit darker I'll buff the highlights to give it nice contrast and shine.

This was a fun piece to make -- pure experiment with only the vaguest notion of what I might end up with. Actually, I was trying for something else but couldn't figure the pattern out, and so I kept going with this and just loved it. Notes to self: don't cut wire down to size until the weaving is complete (the cuff ended up a bit too short, and uneven), and don't hammer the ends till I've scrolled them (scrolling flattened, hardened wire is much harder). That's it for now.

14 July 2007

Speak Your Wisdom: Beads for Prayer or Meditation

Here are a few of my favorite things, made up into "prayer beads" that you can hold in your hand as you meditate, pray, send vibes, or just calm yourself for a few moments. Turquoise and charoite, an exquisite chatoyant (cat's-eye effect) purple gemstone found only in Siberia, make a beautiful combination of both color and meaning: Turquoise is thought to enhance creativity and communication, and charoite brings insight into and resolution of fear and imparts courage and wisdom. I combined high-quality specimens of both these stones with Balinese silver on dyed silk cord and sterling silver chain, and I finished the piece with a silver-plated hand milagro that represents both the physical and spiritual labors that complete our lives.

I'm thinking of turning this into a bracelet, either by simply adding chain or by extending a simple turquoise beaded band from the ends of the silve to leave both the hand and the charms on the other end as loose charms. What do you think?

11 July 2007

Fun with Copper

It all started with a simple suncatcher a few years ago, dangling in a shop window down in Seal Beach, California. Heavy-gauge copper wire, just like you see at the hardware store or on the job site, twisted into swirls and coils with some luscious glass beads dangling just so. I kept thinking about it, so one day I rummaged through my husband's tool boxes for some wire and started twisting -- I can't say I came up with anything artistic, but I had fun and filed that exercise away under "try again someday."

Behold my "someday" bangle, one that I sold a few weeks ago and will definitely make a new version of -- copper is "in" now in the jewelry world, so much so that I saw a whole table of copper findings at my favorite gemstone supplier yesterday, and even before that had managed to scrounge together a respectable collection of headpins, jumprings, earwires, and even crimp covers not to mention some amazing, very earthy-looking copper beads. This malleable metal makes for easy twisting and weaving, and although it's not for everyone, it offers a warm contrast to turquoise's cool blues and veiny matrix. It takes on a patina naturally and quickly but polishes up nicely, too, though I'm experimenting with a woven cuff I made just for me to see how cool a patina I'll end up with if I wear it every day and neglect to polish it.

Copper is showing up in more and more suppliers' inventory, but you can start easily and cheaply by picking some up at your local hardware store.

09 July 2007

Soothing Lavender

My lavender is in full bloom! This heat-loving plant just loves our rocky, alkaline, barely hospitable soil, and it starts blooming just as the summer heat is approaching unbearably hot. These Swarovski crystal briolettes capture lavender's beautiful color perfectly, and the earrings go with just about anything, casual or dressy. I'll be getting more of these briolettes soon in various colors, so if you'd like this style in a different color, just let me know!

In other news, I'm going to Albuquerque tomorrow, and that always means shopping! I'll be stocking up on turquoise -- I always need more, and customers seem to prefer less-than-perfect specimens (more matrix, rougher texture) because they look more "real." Given how much fake turquoise has flooded the market, I can't blame them, so I'm being a lot more careful about what I buy and from whom. This article offers some excellent information about this amazing, highly variable stone, and I'll be posting some new turquoise pieces soon.

08 July 2007

Just About Jewelry

Welcome to my jewelry blog! I'll use this space to show my new pieces and works in progress, ask for feedback and constructive criticism, discuss various aspects of my jewelry business, and link to some of my online favorites who make and sell finished jewelry, supplies, and anything else related to jewelry.

You can find my online jewelry shop at annabella1966.etsy.com -- if you'd prefer not to sign up in order to purchase or commission a piece, just email me and we'll work something out.

Thank you for visiting.