23 September 2008

... And Four Minutes Later:

(Read the post below to find out what the heck I'm talking about.)

The Right Tools

Always have the right tools on hand for the job, my Dad tells me, or you're just wasting your time. I've taken this to heart with my jewelry business, though I've had to acquire my tools gradually as I built my business. Moving online added a new demand: taking good pictures, to showcase my creations in an appealing manner to customers who can't just pick them up and look them over, try them on, and so forth. So I have a decent digital camera (though it now has a scratched lens thanks to a recent mountain [mis-]adventure), and I have Photoshop to make my pictures clear, color-corrected, and Web-ready.

But I've known I was missing one important element: a proper shooting environment. Lacking serious studio space and equipment, I improvised with deflected sunlight, but finally I found the perfect solution: a light tent made of special fabric that diffuses light evenly. You can see the difference it makes in these two shots, both un-Photoshopped, taken in the same window at around the same time of day:

I am ecstatic -- I was spending at least 10 to 20 minutes Photoshopping each picture, and this will cut that way down. The second photo just needs lightening up a bit, maybe some sharpening, and it'll be ready to post. And that leaves me more time to spend on my creations....

04 September 2008

More Sonora Sunrise Stones and Jewelry

As promised, here are some more pictures of the Sonora Sunrise stones I've just started working with, along with another finished necklace. The overview above shows most of what I have, and it is beautiful. First, the newly finished necklace of Sonora Sunrise, turquoise, cultured pearls, smoky quartz, and sterling silver:

I just picked up two mostly-red pendants from Dean and Conne; the red is cuprite, and it has awesome depth of hue and texture. I haven't decided what to do with these yet, but I'd better decide soon because red is another HOT color for this fall and winter.

Here are three of Dean and Conne's scraps that I ground and polished myself into freeform stones for wirewrapping:

I'm thinking of putting this ethereal pendant on a necklace of turquoise, onyx, pearls, and coral:

That's all for now.

Purple! Sugilite and Tourmaline, a New Twist on Earthtones

As I ramp up jewelry production again, I've been looking around the Web for fall fashion trends, particularly colors, and was just thrilled to see that purple is HOT this year. This being my favorite color, I have plenty on hand in the form of amethyst (of course), sugilite, charoite, and various glass and crystal beads. I also just got in some tourmaline, another addition to my top-five favorite gemstones (a list that probably numbers in the double digits by now; I'm aware that doesn't make sense) and have created this earthy necklace of tourmaline with pearls, sterling silver, and an exquisite sugilite pendant. I used these large tourmaline chips because their rough texture emphasizes the pendant's earthy nature; I think fancy faceted tourmaline beads might have overshadowed the sugilite a bit, or contrasted too much in style. I love tourmaline's color range and drew upon the full spectrum here to pull out this pendant's more subtle hues while emphasizing the sugilite's inimitable royal purple.

The closeup image shows the gorgeous color -- all natural -- in this handcut slide pendant, which also has some interesting tonal variations in the matrix, even a hint of fire red. (To bring this streak out I was tempted to use natural red coral rather than the tourmaline, but I guess I'm not that bold... I like to think of my choices as generally practical, and wearable.) Discovered in 1944 by Japanese geologist Ken-Ichi Sugi and now found in quantity only in one deep South African mine, sugilite is thought to facilitate healing by dissipating negative energy and enhancing creativity. This stone is rare and expensive, but I'll keep seeking it out because it's gorgeous and it's purple. I see it a lot in modern Native American jewelry, especially as inlay, and love the contrast it makes with more "traditional" stones such as turquoise, lapis, and spiny oyster. Larger pieces such as cabochons display sugilite in all its glory. I hope to find more slide pendants like the one I used for this necklace; I see endless possibilities for this stone, and of course I love working with purple.