Friday, December 4, 2015

Fire & Metal

My jewelry work is taking me into new directions.  My creativity has been totally channeled into organic looking bracelets with semi-precious gemstones in their raw or lightly polished forms.

This polished amethyst called to me ages ago as a healing stone for the bodywork I did for others and myself.  Often I would pick up stones such as this one, but I never ever thought that I would one day be making them into jewelry.  As this piece grew, more were added that are all considered healing stones.  It wasn't planned that way, they just wanted to all be together in one piece.

Not quite finished yet, I have to order polishing disks for the Dremel, but I am loving this so much I had to share today.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Falling for Fall

Since the anniversary celebration, I have been playing catch-up with life.  We had a brief few days exhaling, relaxing and being awed by the still beautiful changing leaves and the mountains in North Carolina. Surrounded by beauty and great food, we were content in our visit.  My Sweetie taught a tai chi class for a friend of ours, we spent hours walking and sampling the fabulous Cajun style food of Mayfel's Bistro in downtown Asheville.  Oh they have wonderful gumbo!  ...And beignettes, and everything on the menu is delectable!

There's my Sweetie as we wait for our order to come in.  It is really a fun place and they had it all decked out for Halloween. 

On our stroll of the old downtown area, I discovered that the iron iron had been yarn-bombed!  That was just too cool!

We also took a tour of the Grove Park Inn, which we had not visited on years.  It is such a wonderful historical site, and a beautiful architectural wonder.  Nearby, we toured the Grovewood Gallery and Antique Car Museum.  Sweetie really enjoyed the cars.  My favorite was the old fire engine.  I had to do the "hot babe with the sports car" pose for the camera. Wouldn't we all like to drive that sweet little auto just once?

The Grovewood Gallery is a haven for artists and I could get lost in there for hours.   Just outside is a forest of metal trees that I suspect come to life in the rain.  They appear to be little cups that would become cascading waterfalls.  Isn't that a delightful idea?

My Fall colors

We came back home to stir the old bones back into action.  Knitting came up again with a new KAL on the Jane Thornley Ravelry group.  We are knitting Fall, and with such a recent and glorious eye feast, I am picking up an old pattern that I have done a few times but love its simplicity and adaptability.  My yarns run the gamut of all those colors I saw in North Carolina.  I am so taken with the golden leaves of Aspens, and since "my colors" are those of Winters, I am using lots of yellow to brighten up my Fall sweater.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

THE Event

I can't believe that it has been so very long since  my last post.  Sorry ...sorry to those of you who find my ramblings informative and perhaps inspiring.  There was a momentous event that I had to give my "all" to and that took every ounce of concentration I could muster.  My Sweetie celebrated his 30th year in business AND his birthday at the end of October with a public demonstration featuring his students kung fu skills.  It was so off the charts amazing and I was busy helping with that and putting together a fifty page commemorative album on the history of the my husband and the school + students to present day.  The South Carolina State Legislature presented him a beautifully framed resolution for his years in business, military career and community contributions.  I thought it would all never end, but it has and I am slowly trying to pull my focus back to being creative with my hands.  Never mind that the holidays are crushing down rapidly!
Master Saleem Alamudeen is presented his Legislative resolution by his students on October 24th 2015.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Finally Done!

Oh yes, I have been "nose-to-the-grindstone" for the past three weeks now.  The DH's kung fu school is about to celebrate its Thirtieth Anniversary(BIG YAY!) in another month, and I have been putting together an album to commemorate the event.  There are always technology challenges when I attempt any project of that sort, so it has been a huge relief to have finally dotted the last I and crossed the last "T."

All that time, I was mostly absent form my jewelry studio.  I longed to take the time to finish the pink Imperial Jasper bracelet that I had started for the store event I wrote about last post, but I knew if I got into it, the book deadline would suffer.  Yesterday, I was able to really have a go at it and finished it up.  Here you see my finished piece....

Monday, September 7, 2015

Wine & Cheese

I have been selling some of my jewelry.  OK,
I stumbled into a fabulous little boutique that specializes in Interior Design and has some wonderful items for the home and features hand-made decor too.  I have often wondered how jewelry fits in ...but why not???  We women love our jewelry.  One for the house and one for me!

A few days ago the store held an open house with wine and cheese tasting and invited customers to come in and meet their artists.  I have never done anything quite like this and I don't do wine or large parties, and not so much cheese, but I am looked forward to enjoying a good time out of the house.  An event like this absolutely requires a "canvas" for showing off my artisan OOAK (one of a kind) jewelry, and I worked against deadline to make something to wear with an outfit I will be wearing for the first time.

For over a year now (I have had a very long "To-Do" list) I have planned to incorporate a knit lace edging for an old knit silk camisole.  It's OLD.  Old enough that I didn't mind once that it stopped right at my waist and showed just a little skin.  Now, the horrors of my muffin top would leak out of that gap and I ain't showing no one my muffin!  So, when I came across this gorgeous pink yarn that matched color perfectly I set yarn and top aside.  Now, finally, it is complete and I will be wearing that with my white linen pants and big shirt.  But what jewelry to wear?!!!  ...So off I went to Michael's and struck gold.  Beautiful slabs of pink dyed Imperial Jasper to make a "Pebble and Bam-Bam" style necklace, and bracelet too, but the bracelet didn't get done in time for the event.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Love My Granddaughter

I raised sons.  Although they loved cooking and we had our kitchen fun, they were too bouncy to want to learn other crafts from my experience.  My first home-ec class in junior high had me passionately wanting to learn more, more, more.  I stayed with it and in college I majored in Textiles and Design.  I sewed nearly everything for my family, and made sewing a part-time career.  It was like breathing to me.  Having excellent sewing knowledge and skills, I used to teach classes to pass on what I knew.  Now, my grown-up granddaughter is showing an interest in learning the skill. I am so very proud of her and happy to share  a little of what I know.  My first machine so many years ago was also a Brother.  I do have to admit these completely computerized models make me appreciate my old basic work horse.  ...And the old Brother?  It's still going strong ...whenever my sister has mending to do.

Monday, August 24, 2015


8?  Yes.  I mean to say it is August and that it's nearly gone ALREADY.  Where is the year going?  Time is moving faster than I am and I want it to slow down!  Well, we all know that just won't happen, so I guess the only thing to do is speed me up. 

I have been feeling the pressure to be creating more ...more ...more.  A new design I refer to as "The Abacus" has kept me in the studio these past weeks working on leather cuff bracelets.  Unfortunately, I keep running into problems with new snaps that don't play well with thin leathers. 

Then there are rivets.  Thankfully, they work for me, and look just like the snaps.  ...Whew!!!  ...And rhinestones!  We gals do love us some bling.  

The stones seem to love the design.  More ways to use them pop into my head before I can even get finished with one piece.  

Mother of Pearl cabochons, turquoise and pyrite nuggets, just pretty stones, fresh water pearls and unique ceramics, rustic wood slices I have cut from my Gum tree branches, amonite and other fossils, ...all my beads want to play with galvanized steel, silver-plate and copper metals!

Silvery nuggets want to play in chains ...boldly making statements of their own.

The Basic Abacus

Monday, July 13, 2015

Traveling Again!

It seems that the hubby and I have a bit of wanderlust these days.  Actually, I think things

have been so intense for him with upcoming plans for a 30th year teaching kungfu anniversary that he needs to clear out of town each chance he gets.  This time, we escaped to a favorite spot in the mountains ...good ol' Asheville!  My pockets were kind of empty and so I did almost no hunting for precious bits to add into jewelry, but I couldn't resist a table that was set up in the town park square by the local mineral society.  ...Imagine rough Australian opals in deep purples and turquoises and magenta winking seductively, begging to come home with me.  How could I resist?  Then, imagine me early Sunday morning, wading in ankle deep water, foraging for shiny pebbles in a local creek!  Of course I filled my pockets!  I am so excited about all the raw stones I brought home with me.

My Sweetie scored too, as he made a connection with a long-time acquaintance that lives up there and they are planning to meet frequently and do some training together.  LOL!!!  ...Next time we go, I bring my mesh beach shoes and some more money!

I just finished another piece that was done as a commission.  Another stone lover wanted to wear one in a necklace and impress her grand-babies.  Her beautifully colored stone has a pattern in it that resembles a face.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015


After 7 years, my Sweetie and I were finally able to get away on a real vacation.  We headed out to the San Francisco Bay area for a week and a half of R&R to include shopping Chinatown, eating lots of great Chinese, Mexican, Indian, and bistro food.  My hubby teaches kung fu, and he met with his teacher each day for training.  I so wish I could say that it was our greatest trip ever, but I fell victim to a seriously bad head cold (I get one EVERY time I fly to California!!!) I coined a new descriptive as I lay drowning in post-nasal drip on the hotel bed:  "Fly-squash."   Yup, I felt like fly-squash. 

We did manage to do Chinatown one time, but neither of us had a heart for it.  It is high tourist time there, and prices were high and products were very junkie.  Most of our favorite shops have disappeared, with the exception of Vital Leaf Tea.  We stocked up on lots of Puer, a very earthy, aged tea, green and ginseng teas.  It has always been our delight to pause there for tea tasting and enjoy the knowledge and showmanship of the sales personnel.  I found some really good quality old Chinese coins to incorporate into "lucky  coin" jewelry.  I wanted to go back and get more goodies, but fly-squash doesn't fly.

We were happy to see that Sunnyvale downtown has been in a huge revival and is quite the interesting place to find many delicious restaurants with sidewalk seating.  Here I am after a hard day of being touristy at the Winchester Mystery House taking the "Behind the Scenes" and gardens tour, while we wait for a pizza....

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Been Bee-zy!

My mostly anonymous sister, of Wreckorated, was putting lots of bees on her Pinterest boards a while back, and since she is something of a muse to me, I borrowed the idea and made a focal and nature bracelet based on bee.  I was makng it for her, but she informed me she doesn't like to wear copper tones so I get to keep it for me.  I think I will be happy with that.

Bee~zy is now hot off the production line and waiting for a few finishing touches.  I couldn't wait to share.  It features real leather, hand-forged copper, hand-made wooded bead branch slices and hand-made soldered beads.  Metals are copper and steel.

Friday, May 8, 2015


My brain has been going in so many directions recently that I craved a quickie project to just feel accomplished.  So, I made a beaded necklace to layer with the long turquoise necklaces I have been making. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Yard Art

It's Spring!  With all the wild things blooming and joyful. I want to get outside and enjoy it too.  I have been incubating a yard project for months and months, and driving my Sweetie crazy collecting his wine bottles.  His creative vision is very different than my own, and doesn't take up nearly as much space as mine do or require collections of stuff. 

I saw these images on Pinterest a year ago and have been collecting ever since.

I think the path paved with bottles could be hazardously slippery, and after all, who would want to dig in that far to plant bottles or risk broken glass under foot?  I really love the look of the bottles used for edging.  There is just one issue, and that is pesky mosquitoes.  We have a pond a yard away, and in warm weather, I have to spray the yard and we run from house to car or barbeque grill.  My Delicious Sweetie is a gourmet treat for those critters, and he can't get more than a few feet before swarms of them attack. So, what to do about those concave bottoms inviting water to collect and offer breeding spots for more critters?  I then thought of this image that I also love and blogger cathgrace has kindly given us a DIY for.
I am going to try a few before I commit to dozens, so I bought some small hard toy balls at the Dollar Store.  With stones added, they should fit right into the bottoms of the bottles and prevent water build up.  I think I may leave a few without balls, as I have read that small puddles of water this size are attractive to butterflies.  I have no clue how they will do in changing weather, so I am going to keep my fingers crossed on this one.  I also bought a few bags of glass pebbles.  I have adhesive and grout and sealer on hand already.

There is another issue.  My yard has lots of old oak and gum trees.  Our yard is lower than the others and years of rain run-off has left little workable topsoil.  Anywhere I dig is an impenetrable mass of tree roots.  I don't intend to fight nature, so I plan to wabi-sabi and do imperfect edging here and there, wherever I can dig a bottles in.

...Those balls I bought at the Dollar Store!  I had the bag on the floor and the Sweetie happened to bump it with his foot and an amazing thing happened.  Please pardon the blurry photo.....

...So, I examined it more closely and realized it is filled with a liquid that will probably break the ball in freezing weather.  I will have to go back for other balls, but isn't that just the coolest?

Sunday, April 5, 2015

In a Pink Mood

I can't believe I didn't share this with y'all.  About a month ago when it was still cold here in the deep south, I had to find a new winter jacket.  My old one was literally "loved to death."  I found one I liked and the fit was right, but PINK.  I don;t usually do pastel pink, but this wasn't half-bad, marked down and stylish.  So it came home with me.  Without a collar, my sensitive neck was needing a cowl and I do love a cowl.  Just happening to have the perfect yarns and colors to combine, I followed Jane Thornley's Once Upon a Cowl pattern, shortening it up to suit our not-so-frigid temps. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Spring Fever

Hyacinths, daffodils, forsythia, yellow jessamine, honeysuckle, and now the azaleas are all bursting into bloom.  It means our short Spring has arrived.  For the next two weeks, warmer temperatures and that longing to throw windows and doors open has to be ignored.  All the flowers and pine trees are filling the air with clouds of fine yellow pollen that piles up
everywhere, and makes my nose itch and sneeze and I have to bathe my burning eyes several times a day.

Going out is risky business, so now that I am stuck indoors, and sorta-kinda done with taxes, I took a break and got creative today.  Out came strings of turquoise beads and silvered chains and wire and anything that looked remotely good with turquoise.  I didn't get any serious tools or torches out today and just enjoyed the ease of beading.  This is a long necklace with dyed howlite or magnesite beads, carved turquoise beads, old "silver" trade beads, a sterling Hamsa hand, and a tiny Tibetan prayer box charm.  The tassel is hand-dyed silk.

This next necklace also has turquoise nuggets, tiny carved bone beads and dragon, and antique bronze metal with a hand-dyed silk cord and tassel.  I squeezed that in about three weeks ago.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Shalimar the Muse

The past two weeks you would have found me very busy in the studio.  Diligently working away to get it just the way I want it, it is still only a partially defined idea in my head.  It evolves from day to day just as any creative project does, determined by the process and what I have on hand, and what my feelings are telling me. I try to think something out ahead, then revise and re-think as I go along.  It works for me, but at times it is frustrating because of snags along the way.

Something I decided months ago, was that I needed NEEDED to have a bust to display
jewelry on.   I bought a plastic form at the local flea market for $5!  Can't beat that, but they can be found online for $7 new +shipping.  Originally, the plan was to decoupage old sheet music, floral papers ...??? and use it as a necklace display for photos.  That idea changed drastically when I saw a Pin (sorry, it came and went) that stuck in my head, of an artist's rendition of a goddess.  She had a few strands of curly hair that looked as if they were snatched from a Saint Bernard, and a vintage vamp face with a lace tiara.  I loved that crazy lady and had to try to re-create her for myself.  For a very long time, I have had a Boho/gypsy muse who whispered to me that her name is "Shalimar," a mysterious name that might mean "abode of love" or ...something else.  It is a contrived and decimated Hindi word that apparently would be described as slang in English.   Shalimar dances around a fire of creativity.  In the Chinese Five Elements, Fire represents passion ...having your heart in all you do.  That is exactly what I want for my studio, and I am listening to my muse.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Let There Be Beautiful Light

This week in the studio, I was working away at one project and in typical ADD/ADHD fashion, another idea sideswiped me to set what I was doing aside and do this...

I did this with 3 feet by 12 inches of organza, about 5 feet of brassy beads, and a sheet of floral paper.  The chandelier chain was about 2 feet long.
  1. Tuck the fabric in at the top of the chandelier, perhaps anchoring it with thread or a tiny wire.
  2. Spiral it around evenly and tuck the bottom edge in.
  3. Wrap the beads from the center, going around snugly twice a the top and then crisscrossing them to the bottom where I used a thin piece of wire to clasp together.
  4. I cut the paper into strips and made tubes that fit around the plastic tubes under the lights
Time:  maybe 30 minutes

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Mirror, Mirror On the Wall

It has been since the end of last year that I have been working on creating a studio.  Even though it has been painfully slow, I have been sharing the experience with you.  Now, it suddenly seems to be pulling together.  I have a theme and a direction that was missing before this week.  So far, it has been driven by a desire and thinking process, and once I got more focus, I had direction.  Hooray!  What I wanted was:
  • a fun, playful place to create that made me feel happy and creative just to enter the space.
  • an organized and dedicated space
  • a place that symbolized my most positive feelings and nurtured my spirit
  • a place that I would be happy to spend time every day
  • a work area that took care of my creative and physical needs
  • a small, attractive and exciting space for display, to house jewelry that I make for sale so that customers can look easily and soak up atmosphere and feel the goodness
In order to accomplish all this, what I needed to do was some soul searching and a lot of research.  It is not something that can easily be thrown together, and unless an artisan has been at their craft for years, it is not easy to know all that is required.  I have been moving slowly because I wanted to make sure I purchased wisely and set up the space right the first time.  This is especially important for the walls, which newly faux-painted, will have to hold shelves, display pieces, and other invasive equipment.  If I wasn't careful, they would look like Swiss cheese.

One thing I knew I wanted was a mirror. I had an old one that I don't even know from whence it came.  It was a dark and plain wood frame, so I added decoupage.  I wish I had thought to share that process with you, but I get so ahead of myself at times and there is no slowing me down.  The first thing I did was to paint the beveled edge of the frame nearest the mirror with copper metallic paint (cheap from the craft store) and allowed that to dry thoroughly.  Then, I applied leafing adhesive and added gold leaf.  The next step was the decoupage.  I used a wheel cutter to cut straightedge strips from wrapping paper, wide enough to wrap to the back of the frame.  The top of the frame was painted in manageable sections with wood glue. I got that at  Lowes at $4 for a rather large bottle.  The glue was thinned just a little with water with just enough to flow easily but still be tacky and not runny.  I placed the strips at the beveled edge and smoothed them down on the top.  The next day, the process was repeated for the sides and around the edge of the frame to the back.  This two step process allowed the top to dry and have a strong hold to keep the paper from sliding out of position.
Giving the decoupaged surface yet another day to dry, I then covered the entire surface with a coat of Mod Podge.  Just one coat, because I am not a fan of high gloss surfaces.  I want the room to have a cozy up-cycled artsy vintage feel.  Please pardon the reflected junk on the other side of the room, it will be gone soon, as everything shapes up.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Just a Little Bit Crazy

...I must be.  Somehow, I got it into my head to use some Brown Sheep Cotton Fine that I had purchased a few (?) years back to make a pair of FairIsle socks.  I was doing just great until I hit the heel and then the knitting and life just fell apart on me.  Project was sent to hibernation, and when I tried to get back to it I just couldn't orient myself.  So, Froggie the Ripper pulled it all out.  Then I saw this scrumptious cropped sweater and knew what to do with the skeins of tiny yarn.  No amount of arguing could sway me, and now, here I am deep into tiny stitches and tiny needles, straining my eyes and wrist while setting in thousands of stitches.  I guess it is a little like scratching off those cards to see if you won a prize because I love the way the pattern unfolds.  (Ask me when I am done if I still feel the same way?)

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Hurrier I Go the Behinder I Get

...That is a quote from an old cross stitch pattern I once did.  I often think of it and feel it was made up just for me.  I am a collector of things by my nature.  I collect not only all sorts of physical stuff but mental and emotional stuff as well. Sometimes that makes it very hard to move forward.  I have great hopes that this new year will bring some changes to all that.  When fruit stops ripening, it begins to rot.  Forward progress is essential or the rot begins!

For the past few weeks, I have been working on a new bracelet.  It is for someone who
loves Banksy and I wanted her to know I "had her back."  The Para Rat was actually started early last fall when she took a trip to Hawaii.  I just felt she needed a parachute. (metaphorically)  I was not able to finish the project in time, but it turned out she really did need a "parachute" when the vacation took a serious nosedive.  This ratty is filled with symbolism.  If I was in survival mode, I think I would want money (the dime), and food (the slice of Swiss cheese).  Ratty has a parachute to catch his fall, the blue beads symbolize clear skies ahead, and a hobo-like wrapped pack implies whatever is needed in our bag of tricks to get through the rough times (solder bumps).  Bone beads and the silvered pebble are to show strength and stability, and lastly, lava beads are there to remind the wearer that life is better met with fluidity than a rigid approach to whatever is in our path.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


This year is already getting away from me.  I wasn't even crazy to go off to the hills the weekend before last.  This trip, we had several uninvited guests in our well-known hotel chain room.


...5 of them!  ...Don't think we'll stay there again, even though we have stayed there many times in the past with no issues.  Catching and disposing of stink bugs just grossed me out.

I did enjoy a visit to Beads and Beyond.  Barry (the owner) is always so gracious and thrilled to share his knowledge of beads and jewelry making.  I am excited to know a little more about working with precious metal clay, which I have been wanting to play with.  He gave me the "OK" to torch a project.  I had read somewhere that torched clay was not as durable as kiln fired clay and I wouldn't want to mess it up.

I still need to get my studio straight so I can get to work in it!  This is taking it's own sweet time.  I have found two great plastic storage containers that I wish I had two more of.  They fit perfectly into the dresser drawers and hold so many beads in a 1-1/2 " layer with adjustable partitions.  I got a workshop grade power strip that I have attached to the bench leg.  This will facilitate plugging various tools in.  Really, ...I have had to crawl and reach low on my hands and knees to get to the outlet behind the bench and...

 I assure you it's no fun.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Hit the Ground Running

Into the New Year, there are always a list of tasks that are left-over from the past.  Being caught up all the time is a fantasy that I sometimes dream of, but ya-a-a-h that's is not going to happen here!  My brain dumps loads of ideas every day that I really really really want to make happen.  I would never get caught up even if I lived to be as old as Methuselah.   I suspect that the alternative is a good de-cluttering of the "To~Do" list that I keep.  Really, do I think that making my own potholders is necessary?  Even though I know they would be better looking, better functionally, and last longer, can't I just go buy some some and use my time in other ways?

Lately, I have been knitting up some older stash yarns (same as the cowl I showed you last time) for a scarf for my daughter-in-law.  I thought there was another ball of the foundational orange yarn.  Well, I ran out and so now what's a gal to do?