Sunday, July 31, 2011

Why I love making Jewelry

I often get asked what exactly it is that I love so much about making jewelry. And the answer is both hard and simple.

Partially I love it because I'm good at it. My whole life I've been drawn to creative pursuits. I've tried drawing, painting, calligraphy, clay, sewing, flower arranging, knitting, crochet, singing, dancing, piano, hand bells, writing, acting, all manner of crafts, etc etc etc. And some things I was good at, some things I wasn't so good at. Somethings I was good at if I worked VERY hard at it. But nothing was completely natural. And most things I was only good at parroting other peoples good ideas. I can play a beautiful piece of music well on the piano but I could never create my own no matter how hard I tried. I've seen people who can't even read music, sit down to a piano and the notes seem to just flow from their hands into beautiful melodies.

And it frustrated me. I was decent at most of the visual arts, but nothing ever came close to the picture in my head. And that too was frustrating. I can sing moderately well but I've never had the voice to do the music justice. And I am rarely capable of writing lyrics that don't suck.

It was frustrating. I had the soul of an artist with none of the talent.

I love jewelry. I've always loved jewelry. I have been all about the sparkly objects for as long as I can remember. Even as a little girl I was all about my bling.

And then I was on my mission in 2003 and went with an investigator to an activity where I was taught how to make a bracelet. It was just a simple stringing job but it was beautiful and so much fun. And it was an absolute revelation. After that I had a hard time buying jewelry from the stores b/c I'd look at how it was made and go "I can SO make that!".

So when the opportunity presented itself to join Kathleen and Lynn and I finally got to sit and just CREATE, the experience was life changing. For the first time ever my art finally matched the picture in my head. In fact it was often even better than the image in my mind. The delight was tangible. I could so do this and it was EASY. It just flows.

I can make beautiful, wearable art and I relish every minute of it.

And I've always been a kudos person. I will work like a squirrel after the last nut on earth to get kudos from other people. Jewelry gets me LOTS of kudos which is just the icing on the cake for me. I've had so many problems with low self esteem in my life that having something that gives me amazing levels of positives is just... wonderful.

Even if I can't make jewelry as a profession I will make jewelry for the rest of my life b/c I love it. Its a passion, obsession, love affair and a real joy.

On one other level, I like jewelry b/c I don't get bored with it. There are always new techniques to learn. I can geek out learning all the properties and applications of a new material we're using. I learn the compositions of the metals, their different qualities and why they are alloyed the way they are. I get a new idea and make version 1. Usually while I"m making version 1, I get ideas for alternate versions and I make 3 or 4 more (or more) until I've tried every possible combination and I get bored. Then I move on to my next design. And the possibilities are endless. I get bored VERY easily which is why this is such a big deal for me.

So I'm good at it, I dont' have to fight for it, it just flows naturally and gets my creative mojo out. I get lots of kudos. And I can't get bored. What is NOT to love about this?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

I lack FOCUS

I swear I have the attention span of a caffeinated squirrel. Maybe even a caffeinated squirrel that has just discovered speed.

I just have SO many things that I want to do and get done (many of them fun, some not so much) that its really hard to prioritize and not just go w/ what I feel like doing at the moment - although that is what winds up happening a lot of the time and can be good b/c I tend to be VERY productive when I do what I WANT to do.

So just to give you an idea of the things I want to do (with some notes on why I can or cannot proceed):

1. I want to paint the hallway (but I need to unbury my dining room post living room painting).

2. I want to paint the dining room (need paint. already spent paint money on hall/living room paint). I also want to refinish all the cabinets in my entire house but I lack the tools (and the money to buy the tools and materials) to do so.

3. I want to finish redecorating the living room. (budget issues there too, also I need to move a few thousand photos over to the other computer b/c my poor lappy is getting old and starting to wheeze. And I'm kinda on a photo editing strike atm).

4. I NEED to finish editing photos, take MORE photos and edit those and get all of them up on Etsy. But I'm REALLY tired of photo editing right now. I've done several hundred and don't want to do more for a little bit.

5. I want to open a new Etsy store selling handmade components. I think this will be a lot of fun to make and will sell well (better than finished pieces). However, this requires sitting down and making more stuff, photographing said stuff, and MORE of the dread photo editting. Hence the delay.

6. I wanna cross stitch. I just found these AMAZING patterns for Tiffany windows that somebody turned into cross stitch patterns and I'm in love. I WANT to do these. I haven't done any cross stitch in a couple years and I've got the itch. I think I want to do a series of them and hang them like on the wall in the dining room or something. But I need something else to suck up time like a hole in my head. BUT maybe I can do it during church to keep my hands busy instead of my usual knit/crochet project? I dunno. But w/ like 50+ colors used in the patterns it ain't gonna be cheap thats for sure. I'll have to think on this one a little more I guess.

7. I want a new knitting project. My only concern is the new pattern I wanna do is a bit more complicated and uses nicer (more expensive) yarn so I'd have to learn how to read upper level knitting patterns (I know crochet it can't be THAT much harder) and afford a chunk of expensive yarn...

8. I wanna spend some time making more pretty jewelry things. Firstly for the therapeutic value, for the creative outlet and stress relief and for the obvious monetary reasons. Downside is the creation of more photos that requires more photo editing.... (are you noting a theme here?)

9. I want to get myself published in a jewelry magazine. This requires hunting down submission requirements (mostly done), coming up w/ submission ideas (some mags want specific things) and creating the submission documents and photos for those need edited etc. Also you need new stuff for like EACH magazine. Can't submit the same thing to every one. And it needs to all be original work (and depending on the type thats easy for my multimedia stuff and not so easy for my wire work stuff b/c I so far have stuck to patterns from other people) so that means I need to sit and get really creative. Its involved. And some have dead lines any time and some only at certain times of the year... We'll see. Either way I need to do more #8 and #4 in order to do this one. Heck I'd even like to write a book but thats like at LEAST 25 magazine submissions plus hunting down a publisher so lets start small shall we?

10. We need cash flow (part of the idea behind #5) so I either need to get #5 off the ground like YESTERDAY or I was thinking of doing some free lance work online. I'll do anything, minor graphics work, databases, heck I'd even do data entry at this point. I just need money and I'd really prefer to not check groceries again ya know? But the free lance thing requires business cards, and a website and portfolio and a LinkedIn profile etc. And thats a whole bunch of brain work I've not been able to wrap my head around b/c my head wants to paint and redecorate and cross stitch.

11. I need to conquer the office. I think I'm at that point. I think the big garbage bag is going to come out and I will show no mercy. But its just so icky in there and will require sorting paper. A job I loath more than photo editing right now. But it has to happen. And sooner rather than later would be good b/c then I can use that space to make big jewelry messes! See there are perks!

12. I wanna quilt. But I really need one of those big cutting mats and thats another 50 bucks I don't have.

13. I want to redecorate my bed room and bathroom. Once again theres the whole money issue.

14. I really wanna DIY some art for the living room. I've discovered Pinterest which is the awesome sauce and I have a bunch of ideas from Etsy and heck right now I'd love to go buy a $600 cutter that is like the Cricut except you can design anything you want on the computer and it can cut it out for you and that would just rock my socks but I need to take on another money/time sucking enterprise like I need a hole in my head.

15. Also I really want to start doing more w/ the kiddo - go to the library, go swimming, meet w/ the play group from church. And I want to start going to the gym regularly (they have an awesome kids area) but the issue I'm having atm is that since I stopped my sleep meds, my sleep deprivation level has been accumulating and is starting to reach zombification levels which is so annoying and means my mojo in the mornings is ZILCH. Which sucks and means I can't make times for things that are non critical. Its dissing my chi.

So yeah, these are just a few things swimming around my head. It would help if I was a person of limited interest. Then maybe I could focus and really achieve in any ONE area. But right now I've got my fingers in so many pies its hard to do anything...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Living Room BEFORE and AFTER

Before I show you the "Before" pictures I must add this disclaimer: This is my idea of survival and function with a toddler, NOT my idea of Decor.


Here's what we did: Painted the ceiling a soft flat white, the walls are Martha Stewart Living "Artesian Well" color matched to Behr Premium Plus Ultra paint which is the paint/primer combo stuff you can scrub. I figured since I was going w/ a flat color in a room with a toddler scrubbable was a good thing. All the trim got at least 2 coats of semi gloss white paint.

 I love this little shelf/ledge under the picture on the right. I'm still hunting the pretty things that are going to go on it. I think I'm gonna DIY me some art... Also we decided to see if Caleb would leave the computer alone if we took down the fence and so far so good! :D

Isn't that just SO much more open? I need to get stuff hung on the walls on this half of the room but I want to redo what I had there so it will take some time and doing. But no big I'm just going to do it one little bit at a time. :) We also ditched our huge coffee table in favor of this cute little chocolate brown faux suede storage ottoman. It holds all the throws and blankets and is the perfect height for Caleb to color at when he's sitting in his little chair. Also works good as an ottoman too. :)
 My next project is this hall way. I've even got the paint for it already. Just need a couple days to whip the rest of the house back in shape (it got scary while my back was turned). And this is Vi, its probably the only time most of you will ever see that cat.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Truth About Platinum

So a few years back when the hub and I were ring shopping I heard all sorts of crazy conflicting reports about Platinum. I had my roommate who had what was once a beautiful platinum class ring that was so scratched up it was hardly identifiable. I had jewelers who told me it was so hard they cussed every time they had to work with it. And other jewelers who said it was so soft that it scratched deeply and every time you buff out the scratches you lose a little metal. Buff 4 or 5 times and poof your super expensive ring is gone.

Needless to say I was confused. At the time I just decided to go with white gold which is not only cheaper, I love that you can replate it repeatedly with rhodium, there by practically eliminating the metal loss problem (ever seen how skinny the bands get on little old ladies rings) and making your ring look brand spanking new every time you do it (sweeeeet).

But I still wondered about Platinum and its apparent case of multiple personality disorder and the further I got into jewelry design and learning about different metals the more I started to understand. So here's the deal:

In the US, like gold, the platinum content of an alloy only has to be 50% platinum to be called platinum. However, gold is a VERY soft metal naturally (2.5 on the mohs scale). People alloy it for the purpose of making it harder (its not good when you can squish your ring on accident).

Platinum on the other hand is naturally a VERY hard metal (4.5 on the mohs scale). That might not sounds like a big jump from 2.5 to 4.5 but for perspective the Mohs scale goes from 1 (talc) to 10 (diamond) so every step on that scale is a BIG step. In our terms its the difference between being able to dent gold with your fingernail and hardly being able to bend it with pliers. Yeahhhh. Big difference.

So if platinum is SO hard why the bizarro rap? Because platinum gets alloyed for 2 main reasons: 1. Its so dang expensive that mixing it with other metals lowers the cost and 2. It makes it soft enough that jewelers can actually work with it.

However, there are all sorts of combinations you can use when making alloys and its pretty safe to assume that everything they're mixing with that platinum is probably softer than it is. So for the most part the lower the platinum percentage, the softer the metal.

Here's the legal terminology (according to the FTC guides):

Platinum = 95% pure or 950 parts per 1000 and should be marked 950Plat.

Traditional Platinum ≥ 85% pure or 850 parts per 1000 and should be marked 850Plat.

50-85% pure = Must disclose full composition including percentages of each metal contained (ie 60% platinum, 35% irridium or 600Plat350Irid).

If it is <50% or 500 parts per 1000 Platinum it MAY NOT be called or identified as Platinum.

My personal verdict: Don't go lower than 850Plat and you should probably be okay. Purer is better (and MUCH more expensive). So if you can't afford the really pure stuff, I'd stick with white gold and save up for your next ring upgrade. ;)

Monday, July 18, 2011

I WON!!!

I just wanted to say, "Thank you SO very much" to everybody who voted for my piece on the Vintaj Monthly Design Challenge. Its SUCH an honor to win, particularly given how amazing some of the competition was.

I am SO frickin' excited I've been doin' a happy dance ALL morning!!

Thank you again!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Reasons I want to lose weight

So part of my step 1 to conquer my eating issues is coming up with a list of all the reasons, good and bad, why I want to lose weight - aka why my eating is negatively affecting my life. B/c even if I'm good all day long, one episode of stress eating can undo all that. So I need motivation to change. This list will probably be a work in progress so it might get updated occasionally.

1. I don't want to be buried young in a square box.
2. I think cankles are ugly (and the ruin the look of my cute shoes).
3. I can wear knee high boots if I slim down my calves.
4. I don't want Caleb to have my problem.
5. I don't want to be a bad influence on my husband.

6. My knees and hips hurt.
7. It irks me when I can't do a yoga pose, not b/c I lack strength or flexibility but b/c my fat is in the way.
8. I want to not feel self conscious in a swim suit.
9. I don't like flabby mom arms.
10. Smaller boobs = less back pain (FTW!).

11. I want to be able to go hiking.
12. I wanna try rock climbing.
13. I wanna be able to keep up with Caleb.
14. I'd like to look like a cute pregnant person.
15. I miss my curves.

16. I do NOT want to wind up with diabetes (that would interfere with my chocolate).
17. Sexier lingerie options.
18. More and kinkier sexual positions.
19. I want to be able to get up and down without pain.
20. Fewer migraines.

21. Lower hormone levels = easier periods.
22. Smaller boobs = perkier boobs.
23. I miss being able to show off my little waist.
24. Smaller legs = less surface area I have to shave/wax.
25. Smaller size = more clothing options especially at discount type places.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Vote for ME!!

Hi Folks!!

So for the first time ever I've entered one of my pieces in a jewelry contest! Vintaj Natural Brass is one of my FAVORITE suppliers and they have a monthly  Design Challenge! Voting is open until Friday so if you would pretty, pretty please go vote for me I would REALLY appreciate it!! And feel free to tell all your friends to go vote too! My piece is #1. 

Thank you so much!

Also if you haven't seen our Etsy shop its rockin' if I do say so myself:

Thursday, July 7, 2011

I want cake

So for years I very firmly believed that my weight problem was because my metabolism sucked so bad (I've even had docs agree with me on this). I hadn't found a single way to eat in a long term liveable fashion that wouldn't cause me to gain weight. Instead I'd try diet after diet, lose a bunch of weight until I couldn't stand whatever the restrictions it had me on were and then I'd go back to my regular life and gain it all back plus 10 pounds.

Super ultra depressing.

So then last year I discovered Christine Avanti's Skinny Chicks eating plan. For the first time in my life I could eat until I was full, every meal, and feel GREAT, and for the first time in my life I had absolutely no sugar cravings. It was almost weird. And best of all I effortlessly dropped weight. It was amazing.

And I did it long enough to lose 27 pounds and prove it absolutely worked.

And then I quit. And I haven't gone back. At first I had great excuses: I was on vacation, it was the holidays, it was my anniversary, my birthday and Valentines. Then Easter.

Now I just plain have NO excuse. And even the best of excuses does not explain the overwhelmingly intense emotional/psychological response I have (usually in the direction of making and eating massive quantities of baked goods) every time I think about going back to eating healthy.

I know that I need to eat better. I know if I don't fix this sooner rather than later I'm going to wind up teaching my kids bad habits and I don't want this for them. I know that if I don't fix it, it will only get worse  until I wind up being buried in a square box at a young age. I know the weight hurts my joints, limits my mobility, and exercise options and increases my risk for migraines.

All of this makes for perfectly logical, rational reasons why I should go back to eating the Skinny Chicks way. But the thing we've discovered is that I've got a bigger problem now. I'm addicted to coping with my stress through baked goods. I have significant levels of anxiety and my top way to deal with those is through food. In particular my favorites are sweet baked goods (cookies, cake, pie, brownies, etc).

This is why I've decided to start a 12 step addiction recovery program. I decided that over a month ago. Today I finally opened the book and read step 1. Now I'm supposed to start journaling answers to their workbook section at the end of each step. And all I can think is "OMG I want cake".

And I'm scared that I'm just going to do what I've done the last half dozen times I've tried to start eating good again- which is: freak out wanting cake. Don't eat cake. Eat something instead of cake. Freak out and binge eat some massive baked good cake alternative. Still want cake. Finally eat cake. Feel depressed so you eat something else sweet. Resolve to do better, freak out wanting cake, rinse, repeat.

101 signs you may have a problem.... *sigh*

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Kitchen/Dining Room Decor

So I have a new obsession. Okay maybe more like a couple of new obsessions but one thing at a time, shall we?

Now that its too fricking hot outside for me to work in the yard at all (tho don't think I've given up plotting projects for the fall) I'm forced to stay indoors and stare at my ugly off white walls (don't forget the hideous peach accents). And so I stare and plot what I want to do to my house. And the biggest thing that has held me up so far (besides the cash) is not knowing EXACTLY what it is I want to do.

Well, thanks to a friend I made the mistake of discovering my new favorite blog (yes I am fickle). Sherry and John are my new Gurus (check them out at And while I don't always love everything they do, I do REALLY like their DIY attitude and ideas.

And I'm really grateful for their advice on how to figure out WHAT you want to do. Namely: go hunt down pictures of what you do like. Then take a look at the pictures to see what the elements are that do it for you and figure out what those pictures have in common (assuming you can't find a pic that is EXACTLY what you've always wanted).

And so I have. I have been STALKING the fricking internet trying to find the things that speak to me. And I've learned a few things, some I already knew (I am SO in love with bright white clean classy trim), and some I didn't. For example: I knew I didn't like plain white walls, but I've discovered I really prefer to keep the wall colors in the creamy dreamy, but still definitely a color, range. I might have over done my wall colors if not for that discovery. I think if I had higher ceilings and more/bigger windows that might be a different story, but here in my 8 foot ceiling - keep the windows as little as possible- house I'm thinking the colors I was contemplating would feel a bit dark. And I LOVE light, airy, open spaces.

So the ideas I'm running with for the kitchen/dining room (its all one big room in my house) look something like this:

(Picture is courtesy of I LOVE that soft beautiful blue. Theres no way in hell I'm going to do white leather chairs with my 3 cats (I can see them stretching their claws from here) but I'm loving the wood floors (yeah thats WAYYYY in the distance), sisal rug, soft blue walls with white trim, and mocha wood table. LOVE love love. I wouldn't do that light fixture (even tho it is cool) b/c I'm all about my ceiling fans (what I'm a hot woman!) and I'm thinking more like one of those square counter height tables than this thing (tho its beautiful). 

This next pictures (also courtesy of what we're really looking at is the cabinets. For those who have seen my cabinets you know that they're ugly (I'll get a picture up here someday). Not only are they peach *shudder* but the doors are just flat plain rectangles. While I'd love all new doors thats SOOOOO not in the budget right now. But I *THINK* I can DIY this to them! I think it might just be reasonably affordable and make for a DRAMATIC improvement in the appearance of my kitchen. I'm DEFINITELY going white with the cabinets and the faux granite counters will have to stay for now (not loving the black counters here tho). 

But if I could do those style cabinets with the hard wood floors from the first picture?? *happy sigh* What can I say? it would ROCK.

So I'm thinking I'm gonna have to take this one step at a time, and that the cabinet doors might have to wait until its cooler outside (me no likey the heat. And I'm not a big fan of saw dust in the kitchen...) but I can definitely get started with painting the walls! I'm plottin and plannin baby!