Sep 28, 2013

Focusing on Life: Week 39 - Your Best Shot!

Okay - so has anyone else been singing Pat Benatar's
"Hit Me With Your Best Shot"
this entire week or is it just me? 
 
I will not put you though the You Tube version of this 1980's classic just in case you're in the free and clear!
 
(You're Welcome!)
 
Sally's prompt this week for the
 
Week 39:  Your BEST Shot
"This week get snap happy!  Give us YOUR best shot!"

 
 
I snapped lots of photos of jewelry this week in hopes of getting them edited in time for Stringing Magazine's Spring 2014 issue deadline of the 26th and was going to use one of those (a sneak peak anyway) for this week's prompt.
 
But that didn't happen because my pics turned out pretty bad (crappy is a much better word to describe them actually!).  So needless to say, you won't be seeing those and I didn't send them via email to Stringing either (yes, they were that awful!!).  I was pretty upset with myself to say the least! 
 
And let's see, I failed to capture the pretty sunrise the other day, I spaced out trying to get a pic of a friend who popped into town from Georgia to have dinner with us Thursday night and the pics I took of my son before he left for Homecoming to pick up his girlfriend turned our poorly too because I tried to take them with my iPhone,...and we all know how many times I've successfully used THAT as a camera!
 
Oh, and of course the pic that I had the waitress take of my friend Michael from St. Croix (whom I hadn't seen in years, and yes, it was his father's funeral I attended this week) and Jackie and I at breakfast last Saturday came out blurry, too (I guess I'm not the only one who can't use my iPhone camera properly!). 
 
So, despite all the friends I reconnected with this week and the positive things that did happen recently, I was in an ugly 'funk' late Thursday night. Just one of those weeks, I guess.
 
But, I got up today (Friday) and decided to shrug off the icky-ness and adopt a positive mind-set and get on with things! 
 
I didn't touch my camera because I didn't want to jinx anything, so I'm giving you a photo that I consider one of my "Best" shots ever.



I know, you were expecting a picture of Italy, weren't you!   Or pearls, or flowers,...or Door Porn!!  Yep, I love this one. He's just hanging out,....unaware of everything else around him.
And yes, he was orange - not red, like most. I like that about him. Showin' his true colors! :-)
 
 
It reminds me of happy times up in the mountains, taking nice walks (snapping pics that actually turn out) enjoying nature, relaxing, being present and living in the moment and not stressing myself out over stupid things that really aren't going to matter or even be running through my head when I'm laying on my death bed!
 
Hopefully everyone else had a productive and happy week and was able to capture some great photos!
 
I'm going to hop on over now to The Studio Sublime and enjoy all the other BEST shots!  Join me? 
 
Until Next Time,
Peace, Love and Letting Things Go, Taking Stuff In, and Getting Back To 'ME' At My BEST!
Cheers,
~Shel~
 
 
 

Sep 21, 2013

Focus on Life: Week 38 - A Quiet Moment

I'm not quite sure if we're on week 38 or 39,....I think last week was week 37, but I could be mistaken - Lord knows I can't keep track of things very well any more, but either way - this week's prompt from Sally over at The Studio Sublime was one of those that really made me take notice of things around me!
 
 
 
Our prompt this week was:
 
A Quiet Moment.  A moment of calm, peacefulness, self-reflection. Quiet little moments through the day where you pause, listen to your heart and breath. This week, capture a quiet moment.
 
 
Well, this week was just as hectic around our house as last week, but in a totally different direction, so I was completely stumped for what to photograph - again! 
 
I love it though, because it really makes me think and observe things.
 
So, the hubs and I sat outside the night before the Full Moon, and enjoyed a glass of wine together and talked about all the stuff going on in our lives this week.
 
I tried to capture the moon as we sat outside - but as  you can see, or rather as you can't see - I was unable to capture it.
 
 
Yes, there really is a 'Moon-Rising' in this photo.
I know, it almost looks like the sun, but it's the best I could do w/my phone!
 
 
It really is right there,.....just up over those houses.
 
Then, just today (Friday) as I sat in his office and we were writing and reading emails that were going back and forth between us and our son's teacher and guidance counselor (it's all good, baby!!), I looked down to see these,....my hubby's feet.
 
 
 
There they were all propped up on the little foot stool thingy I gave him this week for our 19th Wedding Anniversary (we're not that into gifts, can you tell! LOL!!) and realized that even when things are hectic and seem to be going a mile a minute around you, there's still time to 'put your feet up' and just chill. Even if you are reading and writing tons of emails, answering phones, working on data review and building new classes, like he was doing all this week. 
 
And then, as I was looking at some pics this week trying to find some family stuff - I found these.
 
 
Quiet Moments Through the Years,.....
 
 
Yep, this one, although he rides his motorbike with his 'hair on fire' like I've told you all before, he definitely knows how to take a 'Quiet Moment'.
 
So thank you Sally, for once again prompting us to take the time to realize that 'Taking a Quiet Moment' (or finding one to capture with my camera!) can be nice and come when you least expect it!
 
Now, Hop on over to The Studio Sublime and check out all the "Quiet Moments" that everyone else had this week, won't you?
 
Until Next Time,
Peace, Love and Stealing a Quiet Moment!
Cheers,
~Shel~ 

Sep 14, 2013

Good Girls Wear Pearls!

And so do some 'Knotty Girls', some 'Cool Metal Chicks' and 'Wild Wire Women', too!

Welcome to the Pearls! Pearls!! Pearls!!! Blog Hop Reveal!



(Click on any of the highlighted words (Links) through out this post
to be taken to articles and/or videos about Pearls!)
 
 There are so many pearl quotes, but one of my all time favorites is this one:
 
The Pearl is the Queen of Gems and the Gem of Queens! ~Author Unknown~
 
I do believe the Pearl is the Queen of Gems and I don't think I'm alone in this belief.
 
Both the Romans and Egyptians cherished pearls for their mesmerizing beauty and it's recorded that pearls were used as adornment in the 5th Century BC, with even earlier mention of them being documented by the Chinese.

The Pearl has been regarded as the ultimate symbol of wealth and social status in certain areas (and eras) and has been (and still is) closely associated with love, marriage and the feminine/female aspect through out history. 

In today's modern world, pearls have waxed and waned in the fashion spotlight, often being regarded as stuffy, prim and proper; strictly for the more 'mature' crowd (Gasp!!). 
 
Fact is, pearls are never out of style. Nor are they 'stuffy'!


Click on any photo to enlarge it :-)


Their pure versatility and timeless beauty allows them to go with anything (from jeans to wedding gowns), with any person, for any reason, during every season.
(In my opinion, anyway!)
  
In recent years pearls have emerged once again, making a strong comeback not only in jewelry and accessories, but finding their way in/on just about everything we touch.

So, what better way to celebrate the beloved and appealing Pearl, than with a design challenge blog hop?

The rules were simple. Design something, anything, using pearls in the design. Real pearls or imitation ones, as many or as little as you'd like - the choice was yours.

Then I asked that you share where you purchased or received your pearls (preferable with a shop name and/or link) so we could all go shopping for more pearls after the hop!



Faceted Pearl and Copper Earrings
Lovely Green Faceted Pearls: Majestic Pearl
Super Cool Copper Components: Kristi Bowman Designs
Copper Ear Wires - MiShel Designs :-)
 
I've been in love with pearls since I was a little girl and in 2006 I earned my Pearls Diploma from the
Gemological Institute of America (GIA).

From the beautiful pearly whites of the Akoya, to the soft, creamy South Sea Pearls, to the various natural and dyed colors of today's freshwater pearls, I love them all, but the ones that take my breath away and will forever have my heart are Tahitian Pearls!
 
To me, their beauty is like no other on the planet and although I generally cannot afford to use them in my designs, I get my fix by adding dyed, freshwater cultured pearls in 'Tahitian' colors as much as I possibly can. 
I use pearls in many of my jewelry designs and "There isn't a pearl I've met that I haven't fallen in love with!" 


Triple Strand Pearl and Bali Silver Bracelet
Pearls: Bead World, Ayla's Originals and King's Ransom/Betty Sue King/Pearl Goddess
Clasp: Star's Clasps, Bali Spacer Beads: Ands Silver


This being so, and since I can't crochet, knit or sew, and I don't do much in the way of mixed media, I chose to create jewelry using pearls for this blog hop. 
(Surprise, Surprise!) 



Gorgeous Honkin' Ringed Pearls - Evergreen Trading Co. - 626-279-2723
Pretty Baroque Pearls - Beads Galore (there website was down - this is their facebook page)
Turquoise - Rincon Trading Co.
Beautiful Silver Button and Little Silver Star/Heart Charm on bracelet - Untamed Spirit Studios / Kim Hatzold
Leather Cord: Leather Cord USA
Waxed Jewelry Cord - Knotty Do-It-All / Sandra Younger

I've designed so many different pieces of jewelry using pearls in some way or another over the years and because I've been showing a lot of them here lately on my blog, I was hard pressed to come up with something new and refreshing to create and post for this challenge.
(Not to mention I had to go in for a root canal on Wednesday, too!!)




Knotted Freshwater Cultured Pearl and Sleeping Beauty Turquoise Bracelet
Pretty Baroque Large Hole Pearls - Beads Galore (there website was down - this is their facebook page)
Turquoise - Rincon Trading Co.
Beautiful Silver Button and Little Silver Star/Heart Charm - Untamed Spirit Studios / Kim Hatzold
Leather: Leather Cord USA
Waxed Jewelry Cord - Knotty Do-It-All / Sandra Younger

 
But, I did get a few things finished just in time.
(Nothing like waiting until the last minute, right?) 




Leather Knotted Pearl Choker / Double Wrap Bracelet
Super Honkin' Large Ringed White Pearls - Evergreen Trading Co. - 626-279-2723
Leather: Leather Cord USA
Button - JoAnn Fabrics
 
I've included links through out this post to various websites, tutorials, videos and/or articles on such pearl topics as the history of pearls, pearl farming, how to hand knot pearls, the care and storing of your pearls, Pearl Facts / Folklore, and more.

 ENJOY!!

(Just click on any of the highlighted words to be taken to something wonderful in the Pearl World!)


Leather Cord Charm Necklace and Complimentary Earrings
Cool Little Heart Charm - Untamed Spirit Studios / Kim Hatzold
Ear Wires and .999 Fine Silver Hammered Circle Links - MiShel Designs


You can click on the PEARLS page (up top) here on my blog anytime to browse the links I have to suppliers, articles, videos and more.


Men's "Christopher Columbus" Cross Arm-Wear
"Christopher Columbus" Hand Poured, Recycled Pewter Cross - Mike Buettner - (aka - The Hubs!)
Awesome, Big-Ass Tahitian Colored Freshwater Cultured Pearls - Majestic Pearl
Leather: Leather Cord USA, Button - JoAnn's
Waxed Jewelry Cord - Knotty Do-It-All / Sandra Younger


Plus, you can click here to go to the post I did earlier this week where I answered questions some of the participants asked and also provided links to more websites and videos as well.



"The Queen Mary"
Pearls: Majestic Pearl, Ayla's Originals, Evergreen Trading Co., Jennifer Gems, Kings Ransom/Betty Sue  King,
Pearl Paradise, Pearl Concepts, and Lucky  Gems
Faceted Smokey Quartz, Black Onyx - Designer's Own - (Sorry - I have forgotten where I got these stones!)
Swarovski Crystals, Czech Glass - Artbeads, Fusion Beads



 

I want to thank all the participants, some of whom mentioned their 'fear of pearls', but jumped in on this blog challenge anyway, for taking the time to create various types of handcrafted art using one of history's most beautiful and alluring gems!
 
So, grab a cup of black pearl tea, settle in and hop around to the participants below and check out all the wonderful ways they've used their glorious pearls!  
 
 
 
 
Until Next Time,
Peace, Love and Pearls, Baby!!
Cheers,

Ears To You Reveal

*If you're looking for the Focus on Life: 52  Photos Challenge
for Week 37 - Click Here!*

Amy over at Copper Diem is hosting another
 "Ears To You" Blog Hop and today's the reveal!
 
Amy's always making tons of super cool earrings for charity and doing such good things for other people and I first heard of the Ears To You organization through her blog, Copper Diem, that I follow.
 
Ears To You is a wonderful organization with a mission to provide earrings to lift the spirits of women who are undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer.  
 
Amy explained that Ears To You has expanded their organization to include children's hospitals - including the Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital and BASE Camp Children's Cancer Foundation in Florida - and to help Ears to You with their work in these children's hospitals, Amy's blog hop will be focused on earrings for teen and 'tween girls this time around.
 
We were to make 3 to 5 pairs of teen/tween style earrings for the Ears To You organization and then post them on our own blogs and then link up to the blog hop over on her blog, Copper Diem.
 
So, here's my tween/teen earring donation for the
Ears To You organization:


  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Smaller versions of my own handcrafted, sterling silver ear wires  - for those tween/teen ears  - and little delicate pearls and Swarovski crystals of various shapes and colors.



And then of course I had to do some little Sleeping Beauty Turquoise earrings, too.  It's an Arizona thing! :-)
 
Once we created the earrings, we were to mail them off to Ears To You. Mine are being shipped out this week and I truly hope the girls who receive these like them!
 
Here's the Ears To You website link so that you can get involved too if you're so inclined!
 
Now, hop on over to Copper Diem and check out the other teen/tween earrings that were created for this super cause! 
 
And thanks Amy, for hosting this hop and for introducing more people to the Ears To You organization!

 
 
Until Next Time,
Peace, Love and Earrings for Precious People!
Cheers,
~Shel~

Focus on Life: Week 37 - In Motion

*If you're looking for the Ears To You Reveal - Click Here!*

It's week 37 for the Focusing On Life Photography Challenge hosted by Sally over at The Studio Sublime and this week's prompt was:
 
 
 
In Motion
 
This week I was 'In Motion' pretty much constantly, trying to play 'catch up' and get things ready for my Pearls Blog Hop tomorrow but I failed miserably at getting a photo of any of my motions, or anyone else's motions for that matter.
 
So, I remembered my butterfly pics I took a couple of weekends ago while at my sister's cabin for "Girlfriends Weekend" and there was my shot! 
 
 
 
He's so pretty!  And he even stayed put right there after I walked away and continued up the path back to the cabin.
 
Then, my friend Ginny comes rushing in just gushing about the gorgeous butterfly that stayed on the path over by the creek and how still he sat while she captured tons of pics. We both turned on our cameras and saw we had taken photos of the same butterfly.  We started laughing because it had to have been at least 10 minutes between when I returned up that path and when she returned.
 
Guess, he wasn't really that 'into motion' after all. But he sure was exercising his beautiful wings for us!
 
Hop on over to The Studio Sublime and see what every one else has captured "In Motion" this week!
 
Until Next Time,
Peace, Love and Moving Right Along,....
Cheers,
~Shel~

Sep 9, 2013

Can I Dip My Pearls in a Liver of Sulfur Solution and Other Questions,...

 
 
 
The Pearls! Pearls!! Pearls!!! Blog Hop is coming up this Sunday, September 15th and I’ve had a few questions from people who are participating, so I wanted to get some answers out to everyone and also give you some helpful hints and places to go for information. 




*Clicking on the highlighted links through out this post 
will take you to other sites/videos with helpful information.

Plus, I will have a 'Link List' at the bottom of this post with websites and video links full of helpful information for you!





Okay, here we go - one question I received was:

“Can I liver of sulfur my finished wire work piece with my pearls, or do I have to oxidize my metal first and then create my piece?”   

 
Great question!  And, safety first here, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on any solution(s) you are using whether it’s Liver of Sulfur, Silver Black, etc. and always wear protective eye gear.  
 

Here’s my answer:  You should not place your pearls or other porous gemstones (such as turquoise, etc.) or fragile beads (painted, AB coated crystals, etc.) into a solution of Liver of Sulfur.  
 
Technically, you should oxidize your metal (silver, copper, etc.) prior to working with or assembling your piece.
  
Now, have I ever placed my finished piece along with my pearls into a solution of Liver of Sulfur – yes.  
 
Should I have? No, not really.  
 
Why did I do it? Because I was lazy (just stating the truth here folks!) and I wanted to see what would happen to my pearls. (Granted, I didn’t do this with my ‘super-good’ pearls!!)
 
 
So, what happened? 
 
Well, my pearls came out just fine after about a 30 second dip in some LOS. Absolutely perfect. Not a problem at all. 
 

See?

 
Pearl, Turquoise and Sterling Silver Wire
Wrapped Pendant "Freya"
Before and After an LOS Solution Dip

 
 
Although, another time, when I left my pearls in some LOS solution for a couple of minutes, one of them had a dullness to their nacre that wasn’t there prior to the LOS dip and one time it even turned a white pearl a rather dull, gray color. It was hard to see right off the bat, but in certain lights you could tell it had lost its original white color and that something was a bit ‘off’. 



It's a bit hard to see here in this photo, but the pearl on the right has lost
a bit of it's beautiful luster. If I had a before and after pic, it would
probably be a lot easier to tell the difference.
 
So, if you have poor quality pearls with extremely thin nacre or chipped nacre (think large hole pearls that have chips around their holes, etc.) you will want to LOS your metal prior to assembling your jewelry if at all possible. If not, then a quick ‘dunk’ might be okay – but then it might not. So, ‘dunk’ at your own risk,…or well, at your pearl’s risk! 
 
A great alternative if you cannot oxidize your piece until it’s finished and you have stones in your design that you are afraid may be affected by a Liver of Sulfur solution is the eco-friendly, boiled egg method! 

*The highlighted link above takes you to
Rena Klingenberg's site and also has a video!*

 
Yes, you can boil an egg, peel it, cut it in half and pop it in a seal-able plastic bag or plastic Tupperware type bowl, seal it up, and the sulfur in the egg yolks will eventually oxidize/blacken your piece without harming your stones/beads.  Now, this does take time,…20 minutes to 2 hours or more, it just depends on the eggs.  So, this is not for the impatient crafter, but it is a great alternative that doesn’t harm your beads/stones (at least none that I know of so far anyway). 
 
*One word of caution if you use Silver Black to blacken your work: don’t let it touch any of your pearls/beads/stones.  Or anything else for that matter – clothes, fingers, your desk, etc. - I’ve had it turn mine black,….well, dark gray/brownish. It wasn’t pretty. So if you’re just using a dab of Silver Black to blacken some stampings you’ve done on metal and you’re just touching it to one small area, that’s fine, just make sure you avoid all of your pearls, stones, beads, etc.  




If you're interested in further info on darkening your metals (silver copper, brass, etc.), hop on over to the Artisan Whimsy site and watch a little video by Cool Tools that Linda Younkman posted about their Patina Gel.
Okay, some other questions people have asked me recently in regards to my pearls are: 
 
Q: What cord do you use to hand knot your pearls? 


 
A: It really depends on my project(s) but I use Griffin Silk or Griffin Nylon in various sizes to hand knot most of my regular strands of pearls or to string vintage and antique strands that clients give me to re-string/repair and preserve.   


 
I love using C-lon (my pref!) or Superlon nylon thread/cording  (oh the colors of both!) for my ‘tin-cup’ style of hand knotted necklaces and I’ve used both C-lon and S-lon along with different sizes of tuff cord for my beaded wrap (Chan Lu Style) bracelets, too. 

 
 



All of these products work fine with little to no stretch or color fading and it’s a personal preference and usually depends on the stones I’m working with and the flexibility or stiffness I need/want with each project. 

 


 
 This past year, I’ve become a major fan of the waxed jewelry cord that Sandra over at “The Knotty  Do It All”  has to offer vs. the waxed linen or cotton I’ve found every where else (Etsy and more).  There’s three major reasons why I like the waxed jewelry cord that Sandra offers over other cords. 


 
First is its ability to be melted/cauterized with a thread zapper or lighter – a great alternative to snipping cord and using glue – woo hoo!!  Even though I’ve had people tell me and I have even seen them use their thread zapper in videos on regular waxed linen, I’ve never really had success with it – just burns it, doesn’t really ‘melt’ it into place -  but with the spools of waxed jewelry cord that Sandra offers, you can ‘zap’ away with success because it’s a synthetic, and not actual linen or cotton.   

 
The second reason is it’s large enough to hold up to some really large hole pearls, yet small enough to fit through some smaller holed ones. And, if you twist it just right, you can pull the strands apart and knot/string with them separately for even tinier holed beads and then join them back together. Awesome!
  
And the third reason is that it comes in a nice array of colors that don’t bleed/fade and it’s just waxy enough, but not overly waxy, which is wonderful.

 
 
 


So, if you’re into waxed linen cord, go check out Sandra’s Knotty Do It All shop – it’s awesome. So’s the Knotty Do It all Board. I’ve had my board for three or more years now. I use it all the time and I LOVE it!  And, she just came out with a smaller, more compact and portable size called the
Little Knotty Do It All board, too – way cool!! 
 

Plus, Sandra's got a bunch of videos showing you how to create various designs using the Knotty  Do It All Board that are just great, too. 
 
Another Q:  Where do you get your larger holed pearls? Do you purchase them from someone or drill them yourself?
 
A: I do have a couple of places I purchase my large hole pearls, but this year, my hubby started drilling them for me and he's starting to become my main 'supplier'.  


 
 
 
 
He drills them with my foredoom flex shaft using a little drill press that I purchased from Connie Fox several years back (If you ever get the chance to take a class from Connie - DO IT - She's Awesome!!).

He uses titanium drill bits (and yes, he goes through a lot of them – so diamond ones would be better I think), and goes very slowly, so as not to burn or chip my pearls, (my babies!!) and makes sure they are moistened with water while drilling. 
 
I asked him to do this for me so I can provide them in my Etsy shop to sell and he said ‘NO WAY’.
(What??!??)

He says it’s too hot in the garage (especially this time of year here in the AZ desert) and that it’s a slow and tedious process that takes patience and he only does it for me because he loves me and I pay him in Beer! LOL!! 

So, sorry, unless I want to start drilling them all myself I probably won’t have any large hole pearls for sale in my Etsy shop.

Or, if I ever do, it will be in extremely limited quantities and possibly only once or twice a year. 

I'll give you a 'heads-up' here on the blog and over on both of my Facebook pages should I ever have some listed.


 
Now, as far as where I purchase my large holed pearls that we don’t drill ourselves,…well, come back on Sunday to the Pearls! Pearls!! Pearls!!! Blog Hop to get a list of my suppliers! 

(or, check out the link list below and browse through a few of those sites and you might spot some!)

Sorry to make you wait, but part of the blog hop is listing our suppliers and where we get our pearls so that afterwards we can all check out new shops and suppliers and shop for more great pearls!  (Fun! Fun!)
I hope this has helped with some of the questions you had about working with pearls in your designs.

For information on how to mix them with various materials in your jewelry designs, if that’s what you’re creating for the blog hop, (but remember, it doesn’t have to be jewelry) you can check out the February 2013 issue of Bead Trends Magazine. I have an article I did for them in their Jewel School Section on using pearls in your handcrafted jewelry designs. 
 
And, feel free to click on over to my ‘gallery’ section here on the blog (button across the top up there under the header) and see some various designs I’ve created using pearls and other materials.

 

 Or you can check out my Pearls! Pearls! Pearls! Pinterest Board for some really cool ideas on using pearls in and on just about everything! 
(Gotta love Pinterest!) 
 
If you’ve got any other questions, feel free to post them here in the comments below or email me (email button at the top right side of the blog) and I’ll answer you as quickly as I can!
 
Until Next Time,
Peace, Love and Pearl Talk!
Cheers,