Archive for June, 2010

thank you everyone!

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

I’ve just finished up my last convo of the evening and I just wanted to plant a wet beery kiss upon everyone who took time out of their lives to not only look at my work, but send me messages telling me how much they liked it! I’m totally overcome, I tell ya. Anyway, thank you all so much. You all seriously made my last couple of days!

(If you don’t know what I’m talking about: dude. My moment of fame.)

etsy featured seller: ME!

Monday, June 28th, 2010

This is so freaking exciting! My two days to shine are happening as we speak and I’m on Etsy’s front page with a featured seller photo (dork!), shop links, and interview and everything.

Of course, I spent hours and days obsessing over my interview questions and then suddenly the deadline was upon me and I freaked, quickly made sure I didn’t have any grotesque spelling errors, and just sent it in. Now I’m all, ohmygod: I forgot to say this, I should have said that, and I totally sound like a spazz!

Anyway, I’m very excited and also a bit nervous. Will anyone even read it? Will people actually go look at the things I make because of this? I have no idea what to expect.

ps – I would have put a pretty picture at the top if my computer hard drive didn’t die. And Joshua’s computer’s power supply not give out. Or my studio computer’s monitor go bad. All in this past week. I’m running linux now off a bootable disk. Anyway, you’ll have to be content with some krazee kapital letters and excitable punctuation in the header.

mimi’s ring

Saturday, June 26th, 2010

18 white gold and diamond hand-carved ring

[18K white gold and diamond ring.]

My grandmother “Mimi” died a number of years ago and though we never lived geographically close, we were close in the way that grandmothers and their granddaughters are. I idolized her and thought everything about her was mysterious and magical.

Mostly I have all those homey odd memories about her that I collected over my childhood. She had curly white hair and wore enormous bifocals. Her house always looked exactly the same, year after year. Her bathroom was all porcelain and tile and felt wonderful on your feet as you walked in off the carpeting. She was a master knitter and all her knit things (we always got something hand-knit for Christmas) smelled a certain way—Woolite, my mother told me it was, which she hand-washed all her knits in. Her cooking was heavy on the baked goods (as a grandmother’s should be); she made these wonderful cookies every Christmas (Mexican wedding cookies) that were always just OUT on a table for anyone to snack on throughout the holiday but they contained nuts and as desperate as I was to eat them all, I actually disliked walnuts so much that I only ever managed to get through one or two. She lived in Tucson, AZ, and drove a car that had over the years all but disintegrated from the UV exposure. She loved the song by Stevie Wonder that went, “I just called, to say, I love you. I just called, to say how much I care…” and when I was in sixth grade it played on the radio all the time. We’d turn it up in the car and she’d sing along in her warbly voice.

It’s funny how when you are a child, you have no concept of other people ever having been young. Or that they once had a different life other than the role you know them in, namely, “grandmother.” I always thought it odd that my mother was so testy around her.

I only know snippets of her life now. She was born in a town in the midwest and spoke only German; she didn’t learn English until she was sent to school. She worked as a nanny when she was very young. She married an abusive alcoholic (my grandfather, a man I never knew, but who was a very well-respected lawyer) who was much older than she was. She never had a job after marrying until after he died, when she suddenly had, like, four—and she did a lot of volunteer work. And her hair was actually not naturally curly; she had it permed.

After she died, my mother (the only daughter) was given her wedding ring. It was old and worn and bent so she sent it to me to make something with, using the diamond.

Berdina Beerman-Bowden

This was a photo of her from her first communion, I think it was. Anyway, I had never seen a photo of her in her youth. Old photos are always so interesting—the people with their rigid expressions and fantastic outfits. When they are of your own grandmother in her early teens, well, I was pretty fascinated.

The whole feeling of that old photo of her inspired my design for this ring, from the ruffles of her dress and the off-tint color, to the art deco era. My mother now wears Mimi’s ring.

Berdina Beerman-Bowden

Now I understand it was only a small piece of her that I knew. A fragment. I don’t find it sad or think it’s a bad thing though; her life was her own and I’m grateful to have participated in the parts that I did.


Saturday, June 12th, 2010

Mostly I do rings. But, I have a soft spot for necklaces. And pearls. Pearls and necks make a great combination.

Chinese freshwater stick pearl necklace (peruvian opal clasp)

This is a strand of Chinese freshwater stick pearls knotted on silk; it has a hand-made box-style clasp with a Peruvian opal set into it. Stick pearls are just about the awesomest thing ever. They are so intensely iridescent because they are made entirely of nacre (The Shiny). They are created by inserting a bit of mantle tissue into a freshwater mussel. The mussel begins to coat the irritating invader with nacre in an attempt to neutralize it. The mantle tissue breaks down entirely but the mollusk continues to layer and layer bright shiny nacre over what is now a long skinny pearl. They make the coolest sound when they clink together, a bright watery sound.

Chinese freshwater pink pearl necklace (knotted on silk)

I love Chinese freshwater pearls. Not only are the mussels prolific (and thereby delightfully affordable–you can nucleate a single freshwater mussel with upwards of 30 bits of mantle tissue, thereby creating 30 pearls), but they have a wide range of amazing colors and shapes. Ivory white to pinks are particularly beautiful. The strand above is a range of pinks, from bright orangy coral to dusty rose, and all natural color.

Chinese freshwater "potato" pearl necklace (knotted on silk)

More Chinese freshwater pearls, this time “potato” pearls, so-called because of their oval shape.

Black spinel, coral, and freshwater chinese keshi pearl necklace

This is a double strand (meant to loop twice about the neck at choker length, or be worn long) with Chinese freshwater keshi, faceted black spinel (a naturally occurring color), and tiny faceted pieces of coral. I find the black, red, and white colors striking and intense.

Keshi is interesting in that it is a pearl formed without nucleation. It is about as close to a so-called “natural” pearl that there is nowadays. However, there is a big difference in that instead of Joe Diver happening upon an oyster in the wild, popping it open and LO! a beautiful pearl, they are created in cultivated oysters. Usually, once a freshwater mussel has had all its cultured pearls removed (created by the insertion of mantle tissue), it is popped back in the water. Because the spots in its mantle are still very irritated after having the pearls removed, it continues to produce nacre and in most instances, this nacre sticks together to begin yet another pearl–this time solid nacre. They are beautiful.

It probably goes without saying: Pearls are probably not for vegans or anyone politically vegetarian.

Tourmaline, aquamarine, and freshwater chinese keshi pearl necklace

This is the same style necklace as above but using faceted multi-colored tourmaline and aquamarines with the freshwater keshi. The icy blues and greens really set off the iridescent colors of the pearls.

Chinese freshwater irradiated (bronze) pearl three-strand necklace

These are also Chinese freshwater pearls, but they are not a natural color. Originally, they were probably an undesirable brownish or grayish color, so they irradiated them. Now they are intensely black/bronze with serious iridescence. I think they are awesome. I strung them on sterling silver that has been patinaed a deep steely gray and sprinkled a couple of champagne-colored Austrian crystals here and there.

Chinese turquoise and silver long wrap necklace

Okay, we’re done with pearls for now. Here are a couple of super long strands made from sterling silver and gorgeous Chinese turquoises. This strand can be worn long, wrapped around the neck once or twice or three times, in a long Y-style, etc.

Square Chinese turquoise and silver long wrap necklace

Another super long strand, this time using square turquoise pieces. This can also be looped once or more times about the neck.

I’m working on getting the rest of my photos in order for all of the above pieces. I plan to list these (and a couple of others) in my Etsy shop in the next week or two.

caty and justin’s rings

Sunday, June 6th, 2010

I got a recent commission for a matching pair of wedding bands with perhaps a fish theme (the owners had a sweet story about a minnow). I did a couple of sketches of minnows wrapped around a band. Then it came up that the peacock feather was the design theme of their wedding. Maybe we could work that into the ring…

A fish and a feather. Ooh!

[I may not know how to spell “lacy” but I do know my feather anatomy!]

I really had a fun time carving these rings. A while back I sketched a design for a big ol’ peacock ring (peacocktail ring?) but never got around to actually carving it. Maybe I’ll dig it back out now because I love how the feather motif worked on the ring.

I start out evenly: cut waxes, cut out basic shape with file, scratch in design with something scratchy… Then I go to town. I try to keep continuity by carving on both rings, not getting ahead too far on one or the other, but inevitably at some point I lose myself and focus on one ring until I’m essentially finished.

As usual, I carved the first ring (hers) and looked at my rough scratches on the second ring (his) and said to myself: “Oh bother; how can I make this one as good as the first?” This happens every time. And every time the same thing happens.

I carve the second ring… and I like it even better than the first.

Then I feel bad for the first ring.

But after a short time my feelings equalize and I really find in the end that I don’t know which one turned out “best.”

Because they both turned out perfectly.