Sunday, August 31, 2008


As I was getting dressed the other morning a design for a pair of earrings floated into my conscious brain, fully formed. When I was finished making them, I knew immediately what to name them, Heartache. I don't know where this came from because, on that day, I wasn't experiencing any particular emotional pain. But I remember so well what it feels like. There is always plenty of secondhand heartache to be felt for those around me who are suffering, as I seem to have an over-developed sense of empathy for other people's sadness. My heart can feel heavy just listening to the evening news, to say nothing of how I react to the pain that those I love are dealing with. But it's a different level of heartache when it's your very own.

I have not forgotten nor am I f
inished experiencing what firsthand heartache feels like: that pinprick of pain when the hurt first strikes (the single red crystal), that burdensome weight in my chest that never seems to lighten (the dark patina on the silver), the lethargy, the sense that I can't inhale enough oxygen when I breathe (the white pearls). I know it all so well.

On that day, however, I was reminded how wonderful the absence of heartache feels. I was having to remember what it felt like rather than being able to reach in and access it at that very moment. I learn so much during the difficult times of my life, though, which doesn't exactly give me something to look forward to, but it gives heartache a real purpose in my life. It's also when I allow God a chance to fully be my God. That can't be a Bad Thing.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Photographing Jewelry: Summed Up In One Word

ARRRGGGHHH! That would be the word.

I think most amateur photographers like mys
elf would agree that it is a pain to take decent pictures of small shiny objects like jewelry. Since I'm endeavoring to sell my jewelry online, taking decent pictures (forget great pictures) is really a minimum requirement and sometimes achieving even that makes me a little crazy -- okay, a lot crazy. (For proof of encroaching insanity just look at the whole of my blog!)

The laws of human nature are such that

a. Most people won't spend their money on an item sight unseen.

b. Most people won't spend their money on an item only slightly seen.

c. Most people get really mad if they buy
something only to find that it isn't what they thought based on looking at the pictures.

My photography equipment includes a light box that I point very hot lights at, with considerable effort made to keep the bulbs from touching the oh-so-flammable material. Sitting on a teeny tiny stool at the foot of this setup, I aim my little camera at the piece of jewelry I've ever so artistically arranged in the light box, and start snapping. I constantly check and reset my camera settings: program mode, aperture priority mode, ISO speed up, ISO speed down, adjust my white balance, check for shadows, check for bright spots, shoot at a left angle, right angle, side, go low, go high, get the whole piece in the shot, get just an edge in the shot, zoom in close, pan out wide, go team go!

Seventy pictures later, when every conceivable angle and technique I know has been used, I can finally download my pictures, and voila! I've got four or five decent shots if I'm lucky. Wow. This is when I do some soul searching. Just how bad are the pictures, really? Can I bear to sit on that hard little stool with my arms hanging in the air in order to retake some shots? Do I wait to post my listing until tomorrow when my arms have stopped shaking? Or do I just throw myself into another round of picture taking?

Fortunately, the above scenario isn't always
the case. Some jewelry, because of the colors of the components used, can be much easier to photograph than others. Light colors mixed with shiny sterling silver make good photos especially difficult to achieve -- for me anyway. I know there are a lot of people out there who have mastered the art of jewelry photography, and with equipment similar to what I've got. I'm getting marginally better as time goes by.

I think, however, that I will buy a cushion
for my stool. It's a business expense, right?

sterling silver,handmade,jewelry,camera,photography,beadyize,online sales,pictures,light box
(I was wishing I could get rid of the black spot that showed up in the middle of each of these shiny sterling silver rounds in this photo. When I looked closer, I realized that the black spot was actually a reflection of my camera with my fingers surrounding the lens. I was quite pleased with the effect once I realized what I'd captured, even if it was accidental.)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Not Lucky, But Blessed, Fortunate, Favored, Happy

I don't believe in luck. Luck is too random. Sometimes I hear myself wishing someone "good luck!" then think, I've got to come up with a better exit line than that. "Bonne chance" sounds more exotic, but it's still bestowing a blessing of luck. Maybe "God bless you" is what I should get in the habit of bidding someone. It reflects what I do believe in.

I looked "luck" up in my little thesaurus to see what they would list as synonyms. The words in the title of this post include a few of the ones I identify with at this stage of my life, which is that of Grandma-in-waiting (that's me on the right, patiently in-waiting).

My daughter, my only child, is pregnant for the first time! Even though I also don't believe a person can jinx things, I've found myself somewhat hesitant to talk about it because it seems too good to be true. We were concerned for a couple of years that pregnancy for my daughter would be difficult at best, impossible at worst. But God in His heaven had plans, and Lily Joy is on her way, due in December! And she's beautiful!

I am Grandma Lynne already to one lovely, loving granddaughter, and two grandsons that constantly crack me up. These grandkids are thanks to my husband's children, so Lily will be the first to sprout directly off my twig of the family tree.

There are millions of grandmas in the world, and I get to be one of them! And I hope each one feels as blessed, fortunate and favored as I do. This is what the other side of child rearing is all about, isn't it?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Of a Wednesday

Today was a fairly productive day, which is not a claim I can make too often. I got my hair "done" (great euphemism, isn't it?), which took almost two hours out of my day, but still managed to make a couple of pairs of earrings, check in on the forums on Etsy a few times, update my Etsy shop, talk to my mother on the phone, and finish the laundry.

Please note that making dinner is not included among my list of accomplishments. I do my part though. When my husband calls and asks what he can bring home for dinner, because of my dedication to watching the food channel on TV, I'm usually ready with an answer. Don't tell me I'm not domestic!

Just to prove my point, I decided to include a recipe in today's posting, which, unlike the recipe I posted yesterday for removing tarnish, is actually edible. Just call me Betty.

Chinese Salad

1 large Napa or Chinese cabbage
6 green onions, chopped
(I leave these out)
1 package chicken ramen soup
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sesame seeds
4 oz slivered almonds

Melt butter and add seasoning packet. Smash noodles and brown in butter along with almonds and sesame seeds. Set aside to cool.

Wash and chop cabbage. Put in large bowl.

1 Tbls soy sauce
1/4 cup oil
splash of toasted sesame oil is good too if you've got it
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
salt & pepper to taste

Toss everything together right before serving. Plop some shredded chicken on top and you've got a complete meal.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I Love It When Things Actually Work

I decided to give one of the homemade "recipes" for removing tarnish a try. I sell my jewelry at a friend's custom clothing design shop here in Sacramento, as well as on Etsy. For some reason, the sterling silver jewelry I display in the shop tarnishes at warp speed compared to any other place I've had it. I don't know if it's the chemicals certain fabrics emit, the fluorescent lights, or even the humidity in the air that causes this. Most likely it's a combination of all of these things.

My friend's clientele includes a lot of brides, so many of the pieces I display for sale in her shop are made with pearls. When jewelry gets tarnished and the components include pearls, I never use a tarnish removing dip because that would ruin the luster on the pearls. Using a polishing cloth is safer, but it never works to remove all of the tarnish since the cloths only clean the areas you can actually wipe with the cloth, so chains and tiny jump rings can't possibly get completely shiny again. So I decided to give a home remedy a test on some pearl and sterling silver jewelry I recently brought home from the shop because they were getting so darkened with tarnish.

I lined a shallow dish with tin foil, shiny side up, then dissolved 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp baking soda in two cups of warm (not hot) water. I placed the jewelry on top of the foil, and poured the warm water solution over it, completely submerging it.

After 10-20 minutes, I was really pleased with the results (on right).

The most dramatic result, however, was on a pair of earrings that I had made using two different kinds of jump rings. Depending on the alloy used, sterling silver will tarnish at differing rates of speed. The twisted wire rings on these earrings possibly have more copper in the sterling silver than the plain smooth rings. The earring on the left is the untreated one. The earring on the right is the shining result of soaking it in the above-mentioned solution for 20 minutes.

I'm really pleased to find that this particular home remedy actually works and is safe enough to use on delicate pearls.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Wandering Puppy

jewelry,handmade,handcraft,beadyize(This is my daughter's sweet little wandering puppy that I get to dog-sit every now and then.)

I've been thinking about style lately. Specifically, my style; how to define it, how to reinforce it. For some, I wonder if this process comes easily. Personally, I've felt like a puppy: nose to the ground or in the air, tracking first one scent, then another. Whatever happens to draw my attention at any given moment is what I'm focused on.

I posted a while back about not wanting to restrict myself to designing any one type of jewelry, which is still the case. However, I've come to realize that there is a certain amount of frustration associated with not feeling like my jewelry represents "me". It's that part in quotes that's really got me going. What do I see as "me"?

I've never been a goal-oriented person. I don't know why. I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up, unless wanting to be a teenager, when I was 5, counts as a goal (and, by the way, I reached that particular goal). The jobs I've had throughout my life were ones I sort of fell into, although I know God's hand has been guiding me even though events appeared haphazard.

So I've taken time these past few weeks to step back and try to look at my work objectively, if that's at all possible. What do I see emerging as a "look"? What techniques do I love doing the most? What materials do I love working with the most? What pieces do I feel the proudest of? And, just as importantly, what pieces have I made that I don't really care for that I should remove from my inventory?

In the coming days, I'm going to practice tough love on myself (remember that?). I'm going to cull through my jewelry and delete all those pieces that I dislike. I'm going to write down some specific objectives where new projects are concerned, and I'm going to focus primarily on making those pieces that I see as being "me". I want to really concentrate on developing my style without sacrificing enjoyment in what I do or being overly rigid. No requirements, just more focus.

At 54, I've finally got a real goal! I feel so grown up!

Friday, August 1, 2008

This Never Gets Old!

bracelet,jewelry,sterling silver,apatite,gemstone,silver,beadyize I seem to have a real appetite for apatite lately! The beautiful aqua colored stone is definitely a favorite of mine, and I love the name: apatite. (Reminds me it's time for a snack!) I made the bracelet on the left the other day and oxidized all the sterling silver components because I just love the contrast of the dark, gun metal gray with the bright aqua of the apatite.

Another huge favorite of mine is sapphire. The earrings on the right (also made with oxidized sterling silver) fade from light to dark, and are more heavily clustered at the top thearrings,jewelry,sapphire,saphire,blue,cobalt,fade,sterling silver, silver,beadyizean at the bottom, so they fade visually in both respects. Sapphire is a little more costly than some other gemstones, and having just a small supply to work with makes the process of creating even more of a joy.

The sapphires in these earrings are tiny, too, only about 2.5m. They are like little droplets of water in my hands while I'm wrapping the wire on each one.
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