Saturday, February 26, 2011

Denise and Terry

This is something I've been wanting to do for a long time. I love getting photos of my beautiful happy couples. Denise and Terry were so wonderful to work with and really touched my heart and I could just feel the love and joy radiating from them - so I wanted to share some photos they sent me and send a special thank you to them for making my "job" so meaningful!

With the deepest gratitude, wishing you both all the very best.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A New Blog - what ever am I thinking...

Just a little note to say I've started a new blog, - a place my for fictional writings. I'm hoping to post once a month or so, maybe more or less. Right now I'll be continuing a story I started here.... oh, about a year and half ago! As well as a second story I have developing. It is something I've been wanting to do for awhile and I thought started a blog devoted only to writing would help with the motivation, as well as organizing it away from jewelry type stuff.

Please follow along if you're interested.
Thanks thanks!!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

New Texture has a name: Sands of Time

There is a certain level of enjoyment and anxiety about 'naming' a new ring design or texture. Some names were kind of a given, like my tree bark rings - they were "just" rings before they were wedding rings, so I didn't have any particular wedding thought in mind when naming them. Unlike the "Love Rocks" and the "Tooled w/ Love" rings. Then there is "Subtlety" who is in danger of having their name changed. I feel like it fits the rings, but is so irritating to type - and then I had a customer who even commented on it too! It's a mouthful and complicated - the exact opposite of what the rings are. I'm thinking I should just change the name to "Comfy Cozy" but not sure that would be the best either! haha!

For these new rings, an idea popped in to my head pretty quickly as to what the texture reminded me of. Maybe it was the fact the first ones I did were in yellow gold. Combined with a strong hint of ancient Egypt - and lots of sand. At first I was a bit against the idea of sand because it might make some people think the texture is from being sandblasted, which it isn't. But then someone commented that it did remind them of dirt or sand, which confirmed my thought, so I decided it would be fine.

When I was a kid my mom sometimes watched soap operas and I remember one "Days of our Lives" and the slogan was something to the effect of "Like sands through the hour glass, so these are the days of our lives" (in a deep throaty voice while the image of a big hour glass was on screen - think... early 90's soap opera cheese).

And I really liked the sentimentality of giant hourglass and the sand representing a couples life together, the grains being days or special memories shared together over the many years of their lives... thus... the name Sands of Time. Sweet huh? Little bit of ancient Egypt, loads of sand and a soap opera memory from childhood! And I'm totally in love with this texture. I hope loving couples are too - as this texture is SO fun to create!

And I also did a diamond prototype, for either an engagement ring or for a wedding band w/ a diamond (or a ring that someone wants to wear um, for whatever) It is a 4mm band w/ a 2mm diamond - super subtle and almost blends right in w/ the texture. I love it!

oh and did you notice the sandstone as my nature prop? clever huh? :)

The first listing is up and available here.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Blog-o-sphere Think Tank - #1 - Feb. Edition - What is your favorite winter meal/recipe?

(since I don't have a photo - you can listen to this song! haha!)

My dear friend Andes has started a new blogging group "Blog-o-sphere think tank" - for a fun blogging monthly topic - non-jewelry related!

This month's topic is:
What is your favorite winter meal/recipe?

I wish I had a photograph, but well, I'm not used to photographing my food. And.. well... I don't actually use recipes much either. But, I can kind of make one up!

Being vegan, I've learned to adapt all kinds of "normal" food to being delicious in a vegan way. This winter a favorite of mine was 'chicken' and rice soup.

so for my made up recipe:
olive oil
maybe mushrooms if you have them
brown rice
tvp - Textured Vegetable Protein (you could also use tofu or some sort of fake chicken substitute... or er.. real chicken if you're a meat eater)
seasoning (HA! how vague) I'll give more details in a bit...

As far as measurements - it depends on how much you want to make - and I season everything to taste, and never really know how much I add...

so, to start out - you need to cook the brown rice. this recipe is great if you already have left over rice in the fridge, but of course, you can make some fresh too.

Next - prepare the tvp - if you don't know what tvp is, you can read a bit here:
There are different kinds - we get one that has no real flavor, so it means it needs to be flavored on it's own, as well as reconstituted since it's dry.

For this recipe I like using a fake chicken flavored bullion cube, mixing boiling water w/ it, as well as poultry season which is usually something like parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme (you know, like the song) - sage is my favorite, so I usually add a bit extra and some garlic. The bullion generally is prettttty salty, so if you use that you probably won't need extra salt, but if you are mixing up your own broth or just using boiling water w/ the seasoning, you will definitely need salt.
So mix all that up and let the tvp sit and soak up all the flavor and water - you may need to add a bit more water after a bit if it has soaked it all up.

So while the rice is cooking and the tvp soaking - time to start the veg!

Chop up the carrot, celery and onion (and mushroom if you like) - saute in the olive oil until they're cooked down. I go ahead and add some seasoning to the veg -
poultry seasoning
extra sage

Sometimes de-glazing w/ white wine is fun if you have some, or you can use just a little broth maybe, I don't know, 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup or so? Not too much.

Then I add the rice - maybe about 1/2 cup of cooked rice if you're making a big batch for 2 people.

From here, I kind of treat it like risotto for a few minutes - let it start to simmer, soak up the liquid and stir it, letting the rice start to break down. I like making risotto, so this is fun for me, but you can totally skip this step and just toss the rice in.

Add broth - you can either make up more w/ bullion, or whatever veggie broth you use. Probably in the 2 - 3 cup range? again, it would depend on how much you're wanting to make. It's good to have extra as the rice will expand even more.

Tasting the tvp before you add it is good, just to make sure that it has some flavor - it will also soak in flavor from the broth and veggies, but better not to put it in too bland to begin with.

*if you want to use tofu, but don't cook tofu often - you can treat it similarly to the tvp - marinating it in the seasons and you can even saute the tofu separately to give it a better texture that will stand up in the soup.

Once everything is added - I taste it again and add more seasoning if needed. It usually does b/c I tend to be one of those people that adds a little bit several times.

Then you just let it cook for awhile. The longer the better - the rice will break down more and add a wonderful thickness to the soup, making something a bit more like porridge - yummy stick to your ribs goodness.

So that's it! My vegan chicken and rice soup - so yummy.

Make sure to check out other fabulous posts for this month's Blog-o-sphere Think Tank:

Andes Cruz

Stephanie Nocito Clark

Kirsten Skiles

Natsuko Hanks

Shaun Young

Brad Severtson

Wendy Kelly

Kathleen Krucoff

Kathryn Cole

Monday, February 14, 2011

Handmade Division's Talk about blog - Feb. Edition - What’s the most romantic piece you’ve ever made and why?

Happy Valentine's Day!!!

For this month's installment of the talk about blog - the topic is of course Valentine's related!
The question is:
What’s the most romantic piece you’ve ever made and why?

I am in the fortunate position to have made many many romantic pieces - people often tell me wonderful stories of their loved ones that they are getting engaged or married to. And many 'regular' pieces have amazingly loving stories as well. So really it tends not to be so much about the piece as it is about the people and the story.

I think one of my favorites was Liz - who was traveling to Alaska from New Zealand to meet up with her soon to be fiance who was going to propose to her under the northern lights. Just imagining it was so wonderful - it really stood out in my mind.

and to continue the fun - make sure to checkout the other participants for this month's theme:
Rickson Jewellery
andes cruz
Jewelry by Natsuko
Barbara Donovan

Thursday, February 10, 2011

New Year, New Policy, New Design

I love the new year (i know we're already well in to it, but my working year started late). I love reevaluating and making changes. I love trying out new things and finding what is most efficient. So I've come up with a new "policy" that is written out in my announcement. I realize I get so easily caught up in answering questions and convos and emails every morning - it takes me literally hours and hours. depending on the question, I can spend an hour working on just ONE convo - looking up stones, figuring up prices of different metals, etc. I like to be thorough, but this takes time. I also realize that in doing this, I am actually putting that person 'above' customers who have already placed orders and are waiting for me to make and finish their ring. Granted, there is balance in everything, but if I spend 4 hours on the computer in the morning, that drastically shortens my day in the studio. So I've started limiting my time on the computer and not answering everyone right away. In some ways it seems like it is good customer service to answer quickly, but to what end? That I am taking more time away from working in the studio? Would someone prefer I answer them immediately or that I finish their ring more quickly?

Does this seem reasonable? Here's what I wrote for my new announcement. I do want to make sure it sounds nice and for people to know that customer service is important to me. And I want my 'paying' customers to know that I am putting them first. sooo... whatcha think?

*Please note* I am in the studio most of the day and since my computer is not, my online time is a bit limited. This means that it may take a little while to answer some convos. If it is an easy answer, I can respond quickly, but for a more lengthy response such as custom order price quotes, it may take up to a week to respond. I apologize for any inconvenience. If you are working with a tight deadline, please let me know and I will do the best I can to get back to you quickly. Thanks for understanding :)

In addition to my goal of spending less time on the computer (oh the irony of writing this blog post) I want to be making time to come up w/ new designs. Even if it is just a subtle new texture like these I finished yesterday. So, sorry computer, I will be spending less time with you. I think you can deal w/ just a couple hours a day right?

The new texture is built off of my subtlety bands, so still a nice organic base, w/ this super tiny hammer texture. I haven't come up w/ a name yet... so in addition to feedback on my policy - if you have any ideas for names, or what the texture reminds you of, that would be great! I used a rough diamond for this one b/c I have so many, and I really like them. But will most likely do another version w/ a regular cut diamond.

Hope everyone is finding the balance they need this year :)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Where have I been?! + EtsyMetal Blog Carnival

So I totally missed last month's group blogging efforts. And considering that the 'blog carnivals' and 'talk about blogs' have been pretty much the only blogging I've done in the past few months - well... my blog has been sorely neglected. But I'm back, at least for today! haha! I'll post the blog carnival topic first for those of you that just want to read that - and then a longer update will follow :)

This month's topic is:
Tell us about other kinds of art and craft you do. What other media do you work and play with? How often do you get to create? Does it relate to or inspire your metalworking?

Recently, jewelry has pretty much taken up all my time. There are other things here and there that pop up, but for the most part I haven't been making the time. When I'm not working on jewelry orders, I do those 'adult' things like cleaning the house, paying bills/trying to keep up with my business 'books', showering... you know, the usual things.

I do sometimes knit - but not very seriously. just a scarf here or there. I do some screenprinting - which is really fun, but I don't do it very often now either. I do enjoy photography and will often go out and take a mini nature walk with my camera. Painting is my most missed 'hobby'. It has honestly been a few years since I've actually done any. I use the excuse of not having a space to paint, but maybe it is just laziness. I like using oil paints, so painting in an enclosed space w/ no ventilation is not a great idea. My studio is soooo dirty, that isn't a great idea either. And I like painting BIG. Which is also an issue of space. I did a series of large 4' x 6' paintings when I had my jewelry exit show and that size was just perfect. Smaller is okay, but just not quite as fun or therapeutic. I dream of having a separate painting studio so I can keep things set up all the time and have a little 'escape'. Maybe some day.

The photograph of the painting I posted has an interesting story. I used to work at a local coffee shop and managed the artists each month - about once a year or so I would have my work up. The last month I worked there, I had this painting up and it sold the same morning I turned in my notice. It was a wonderful sign to have a nice big check coming to me right as I was quitting my job! I guess the interesting thing was that I was quitting to make jewelry - and my painting helped me to do that!

So... I guess to answer the other questions... kind of hypothetically since I haven't been painting recently... the painting I've done does totally relate to my jewelry. Very nature themed - particularly lots of trees. Just like my rings. haha!

Anyway, I'm going to wrap this up and send you off to read everyone else's answers to this months' topic. And my update will be below.

kate jones -
kathryn cole -
2Roses -
Twigs and Heather -
Erin Austin -
Thomasin Durgin -
Nodeform -
stacey hansen -
Nina Gibson -
elizabeth scott -
Evelyn Markasky -
Amanda Conley -
Jenny Baughman -
Catherine Chandler -

Now for the update!

Winter is particularly difficult for me. I really want to just hibernate. When nature is asleep it whispers.... "beeetthhhh, gooo to sleeeeeep" The sun isn't up as much - often when it is, it is still cloudy and gray. So it takes most of my energy to try to stay focused on actually working and making things people want. Lots of other things (like blogs and facebook, etc) get put aside until the days grow longer and more sunny and the trees are once again vibrant.


The big news is that I am now officially a yoga teacher! Yay! For two weeks in January I finished up the final session of the Beginner Intergral Yoga Teacher Training. It was an amazing life changing experience with a group of fantastic individuals and incredible teachers. I don't have any specific plans for teaching yet. I'm open to whatever might come along. Right now, I'm mostly trying to get back in to 'work mode' and getting caught up on wedding ring orders. I do have some ideas brewing as far as doing some youtube videos - on the topic of "Yoga for Jewelers". So... we'll see! Stay tuned and I'll try to update a bit more often than once a month. Even though its been about 2 since I last posted!

Hope you have a lovely day! And seriously - go read the other participating bloggers (many may not be posted til later today/tonight)