Monday, May 31, 2010

Pendants for the Kids

I took a fun little break this afternoon while both my kids were at school. While sipping coffee and listening to Susan Boyle, I created these little pendants. My daughter adores anything reptilian, especially lizards, and my son cannot get enough of frogs. I hand shaped them out of polymer clay and will set them on leather cord for the kids, although they will probably come off and be used as toys.
I've been trying to find my way with this new medium lately, and so far have been unable to come up with anything elegant enough for a piece of adult jewelry, so I decided to have some fun with it.
Now I'll get to present my kids with cute, little presents after school and I get to enjoy the benefits of having had a fun, creative, and really quite relaxing afternoon.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Sterling and Agate

There really is not too much I can say about this piece. The agate pendant is an incredibly stunning piece that speaks for itself. It was really quite by accident that this necklace came to be. Sometime ago, I picked up the little agate beads, and wasn't quite sure what I was going to do with them, but they were too beautiful to leave alone. Then, a week or so ago, while visiting Edmonton for a dentist appointment, my husband surprised me with a little side trip to Bead World. I've never seen so many beads and pendants in my whole life. I could have spent hours in there, browsing and designing, but I didn't have hours, I had about 15 minutes. Feeling completely overwhelmed, I wasn't going to buy anything, and then this blue agate caught my eye. Like the small beads before it, I really didn't know what I would do with it, but I had to have it.
Now I had forgotten about the little blue agate beads, so when I went looking for something to compliment the large pendant, I was very surprised to find them. I have never worked with sterling silver wire before, but felt that such fine stones required the precious metal, and although a bit nervous, I set to work. I decided to keep the chain relatively simple, with cute little tri-loop links and the small agate bead links to join them. The result is a stunning necklace that could be worn with everything from blue jeans to a gown.
I considered just finding a permanent home for it in my own jewelry box, and not listing this piece, but that piece of agate came on a strand of six. There are 5 more gorgeous slices to eventually work with, each stunning in its own unique way.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Cha-Cha

There was little to no thought put into this bracelet. I picked up some lovely glass beads, grabbed some wire, and a few tools, and went to sit on my deck with an espresso and the sunshine for motivation. I got started by creating all the links for the base chain, and then I went to work on the 'charms'. I just turned and twisted and played with beads and wire until I ended up with something I liked. I worked like this until it was time to make supper, and realized that I wasn't even 1/4 of the way finished. I put everything together into a bowl, and kept the project nearby, where I could pick it up at any time I had a few moments. So over the next 3 or 4 days, with the time adding up to several hours, I had a finished bracelet. I love this piece because it is unique and has a lot of character. It is fun to wear because it is heavy, and makes a wonderful sound with the slightest movement. It is fun to look at because of the variety of beads, the depth in some of the beads, and all the interesting curves of the wire. So without any direction, I created one of my favorite pieces.
This afternoon, I sat down with a great idea for what I wanted to create. After hours of trying to put it together, I had nothing to show for it. The creative process remains a mystery to me, the only thing I can honestly say about it is, you cannot force it.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Chocolate and Lavender

When I'm looking for a little comfort, a bit of indulgence, I turn to chocolate or lavender, and sometimes both. Chocolate in the form of 85 to 90 percent cocoa, and lavender in the form of essential oil, added to a bath or spritzed on a blanket before I sit down to read. This sounds simple, but for me it is like having had a vacation. All I need is a few minutes, and I can completely clear my head and get to a calm place, where I am once again centered and ready to go on with the day. Even the colours are effective in setting the tone for my mood. My bedding was completely inspired by these two comforts. The sheets are a bamboo and cotton blend in an earthy, lavender, and my duvet is a dark, chocolate brown. I find the combination both soothing and beautiful. I've grown lavender in my garden and this year I have started it from seed in my greenhouse and intend to harvest it to make little sachets for my drawers and closets. It is barely an inch high, and it already gives off a heavenly scent. If I could grow chocolate, I would, but as it is, I always have 85 to 90 percent in my pantry, and almost always visit a Bernard Callebaut shop when I visit the city. I haven't found another since, but when I visited Ucluelet on Vancouver island a couple of years ago, I experienced a dark chocolate flavoured with lavender. It was absolutely divine.
My 'Oh Canada' teammates and their wide variety of shops have provided all the items in the above collection. The talent and creativity we have access to on Etsy never ceases to amaze me. With over 400,000 active sellers worldwide, you're sure to find something wonderfully unique for yourself or someone dear.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Greenhouse

Ahhhh...the greenhouse. This is my first year with a greenhouse, just a little 'shack' my husband built for me this Spring. I love it. I've started 4 varieties of tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, and pumpkins. There are nasturtiums, zinnias, black-eyed susan vine, morning glories, sunflowers, rain daisies, four o'clocks, nemophila, coleus, pampas grass, hyacinth bean, sweat peas, lavatera, lavender, and parsely. A friend who has maxed out her greenhouse space brought me over 200 plants, a mix of celosia, bacopa and euphorbia. I always loved going to the big greenhouses in the Spring, and would visit several days a week, as soon as they opened. Inevitably, I would end up spending hundreds of dollars on plants. This year, I have yet to set foot in one. I never would have imagined feeling this much satisfaction from starting and tending to my own plants. My husband said that it cost just a little over $120 to build. Little does he know how much money it will save. Not just from buying plants at a commercial greenhouse, but in upcoming years of therapy.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Meet an Indie Designer

Who is the creator behind these two very different, and completely wonderful works of art? Hollie, but who in the world is Hollie? In a world where we are constantly bombarded with violent and negative images, Hollie has taken her place amongst the positive, the free spirited, the dreamers, the people who are going to turn this world into a better place. I 'ran' into Hollie when a teammate on Etsy told us about a blog and the mission to raise money and awareness for SOS - Save Our Seabirds. I was intrigued and went off to discover Mermaids Closet, a fun, uplifting and informative blog about saving ourselves and saving the world. I joined my teammate and Hollie in their mission to do their part for the wonderful seabirds by choosing 3 of my favorite items and offering 25% of their sales to the SOS foundation. Each time an item sells, I will replace it with a new choice. Hollie however, has offered 25% of any of her sales in either of her shops. To visit 'I'm From The Woods', click on the wonderful 'Knitter' illustration, and enjoy unique, beautiful art and decor from this talented young woman. The wonderful, big, black bow is just one of the unique items you'll find in Blueberryshoes, Hollie's second shop. Both shops are sure to raise your spirits, and put a smile on your face...Enjoy!!!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Kreativ Blogger Award

The Kreativ Blogger Award has been passed to me by Little Bear's Mom, a wonderful Etsy teamate on the 'Oh Canada' team and a fantastically, supportive blogger. She goes absolutely out of her way to support not only her teammates but the whole of the Etsy community. She actively participates in the forums, helps with any questions she can, checks out all of our new listings, and takes the time to read many blogs. With all the time spent on the computer, it is a wonder that she has any time at all to create beautiful jewelry for her shop. The bracelet on the left is just one of her gorgeous creations. Clicking on the photo will take you directly to her shop, and you can see for yourself all the wonderful jewelry she has created. Once you have been thoroughly impressed with her creations, get to know her a little better by visiting her blog.

Now I have a few duties as recipient of this fun award, and they are:

1. Post the award on my blogspot.
2. Thank the person who gave it to me.
3. Link to the person who gave this to me. See above!
4. Share a list of 7 things that you probably don't know about me...
5. Choose 7 great bloggers to give the award to.
6. Share a link to their blogs.
7. Leave a comment on their blog.

Seven things you may not know about me:
1. I love chocolate!!! Not any chocolate, but the real chocolate, the 90% cocoa stuff, and not a day goes by that I don't enjoy some.
2. I have intense salt cravings, that can only be satiated by eating directly out of the salt shaker.
3. I am a Star Trek fan.
4. I can listen to Josh Groban and Metallica back to back.
5. Like my music, I also enjoy an eclectic selection of reading material.
6. I am an avid beachcomber. I once spent five days in the Queen Charlotte Islands doing almost nothing but that.
7. I secretly save bugs that enter my house, because I get a strong guilty feeling if I kill them.

Now for the seven bloggers I think deserve to get the award:
1. Mermaids Closet
2. The Eye Fine Art Photography
3. Sixbabygirls
4. Horncat Creations
5. Liz-Anna's Lakeside Studio
6. Farren Square
7. ...From Sleepy Hollow Road

If you haven't already, be sure to check out these wonderful blogs. Create a wonderful community for yourself!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Year of the Tiger

I decided last night that the name of my blog needed to be changed. 'Blue Jeans Jewelry' just is not going to work for all that I would like to write about. The jewelry hobby/business that I have started is only a small part of what I enjoy doing and what I find interesting.
Nearly 13 years have gone by since I developed an interest in cakes. Thanks to my Mother-in-Law, her talent, and her interest in my work, I've done countless cakes over the years for my friends and family. The Chinese New Year cake you see here was done this past February as a celebration of The Year of the Tiger, the sign my husband was born under. Each sign was painstakingly hand-painted in edible ink on fondant. The cake is iced in buttercream, and the tiger is also done in buttercream, but on a separate piece of fondant to give it some height. This July, I will be doing my little sister's wedding cake, and a scrabble cake for a dear friend of mine whose Mother-in-Law will be turning 90. I've often been asked if I had considered going into business with my cakes. The answer is yes, several times, but the commitment needed to do that is huge, and would take all the fun out of my hobby. With the jewelry, I can remain flexible. I can make as many pieces as I want, I have an outlet to sell pieces that requires next to no investment, and I can stop at any time. I have learned that in order to remain creative, I have to remain flexible, open to whatever piques my interest next. If I tie myself down, I get in a rut, I feel cornered and the fun disappears. Once the fun is gone, what is left?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

On Mother's Day...

It eventually happens to everyone... all of us, at some point in our life, lose someone we love. And then, sooner or later, that special day comes along, a birthday, a special holiday, Mother's day. For myself, Mother's day has become a day full of mixed emotion. Nostalgia, sadness, and joy mix to create a rich experience. On one hand my little boy is greeting me at the head of my bed at 5:30am, with an envelope that he has waited to give for 5 days, (an eternity to a 4 year old), and I am filled with pride and joy. On the other hand, I catch a quick glimpse of the dream I just woke from, having coffee with both my Mother and Grandmother, and I am filled with a longing and a sadness, as this is not possible. My 7 year old girl tells me to close my eyes, and fills my countertop with all sorts of cut-outs and paintings that she just spent the last hour working on, and I feel loved and adored. I wonder how my Mom felt when I gave her my little girl scribbles on a crumpled piece of paper. Then I remember her smiling and putting it up on the fridge, and I know that she was feeling much the way I do now.
When I think of my Mother, jewelry, also comes to mind. The two went hand in hand, and every time I put on a bracelet, a necklace, or a brooch, I think of her. The wonderful, antique and vintage pieces take me all the way back to getting ready for church with my Grandmother. All of my interest in jewelry, the creating of the new, and the collecting of the old, stems from these 2 women. The beautiful set above is available in my Etsy shop as a result of my refining my collection down to my favorites. My favorites are the pieces I choose to wear time and time again over the others. While I may create new pieces with my Mother's and Grandmother's jewelry for inspiration, you will not see any of their jewelry in my shop. Those memories and the spirit those pieces hold is far too valuable to put a price on.
To all the wonderful Mothers who are and have been in my life, I wish you a Mother's day rich with emotion and fulfillment.

Friday, May 7, 2010

For Your Garden

It is finally that time of year again, my favourite time of year. The snow is gone, delphiniums, irises, and lilies are up, and the greenhouses are open!!! I love to plant all kinds of flowers, vegetables and herbs, but I also love to decorate with wonderful little finds like the ones in this treasury I created from several different Etsy shops. I love to take little knick-knacks like the ones you see here, and tuck them away, in a tree, under a plant, in between stones, hide them, if you will. So, unless you're really looking, you will not find them, but if you are, you will get a little surprise. I've even surprised myself in this way several times, especially in the Spring when I first go out to take a good look at the yard and realize who I missed during the Fall clean-up. Often the things I buy for the garden, really 'blend in' with their surroundings, almost like they could have been there naturally, so they are easy to miss. Have fun browsing through the shops on Etsy, perhaps you'll find something you just can't live without, or maybe you'll find some inspiration there to get creative on your own. Either way, go out and enjoy your Spring!!!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Meet Ellie

When you decide to order something online, there is always that little bit of apprehension . Is it going be as good as I thought it would be? Were the pictures true to the product? Just who am I dealing with here? Well, meet Ellie, a wonderfully soft, cuter than cute, little elephant, who just happens to be all she promised to be and more. Extremely well made, from the choice of fabrics, to the hand embroidery, you just know quality when you hold it. Two Stray Cats is the name of the shop on Etsy where I found sweet, little Ellie, and it is obvious she was made with love. And, the love carries on, because 10% of the purchase goes to the charity, 'Etsy for Animals', a group more than 500 strong, all helping to provide relief to animals through various organizations. There is even a section in the Two Stray Cats shop that donates all profits to EFA. So wonderful, a lovely gift for my niece, a donation to an important cause, and a new way to shop on Etsy. Click on the photo to browse through Two Stray Cats, and visit the link below to learn more about what the EFA Artists Helping Animals organization is doing, and to search for shops on Etsy that support them.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Murano Bracelet

Here is the latest addition to my little shop on Etsy. These are all hand linked glass beads with the cute little murano glass cabochons 'floating' between each link. I had purchased a vintage lot of jewelry making supplies with a real mix of cabochons, stampings, findings, crystals, and beads. While digging through and organizing this treasure, I found these sweet, little cabochons. But, what to do with them? I formed a pretty little loop-de-loop link and used epoxy to attach the cabochon. I waited a day, tested it for sturdiness, it passed with flying colors, so off I went to find more beads to co-ordinate with the murano glass. Because a lot of my beads and things are from recycled pieces, I sometimes find myself in a bind for materials that will work together. This piece was no exception. I was sure I didn't have enough of the blue beads alone, so I tried oranges and reds, blacks and browns, but nothing was working for me. then I came across the green beads, and I thought maybe, just maybe there would be enough. I used every bead I had in those colours, and was extremely relieved when I tried it on. When I stepped back, and realized just how perfectly the materials had come together, and how there was not even one left out to end up in the odds and ends bowl, I had a strong thought..."Well, that was meant to be...". And, here it is, a very cute, serene little bracelet.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Handmade Soap

You may have thought that by the title of the blog and by the previous entries, that this entire site would be strictly about jewelry. Really, it is about the appreciation of anything handmade, and there is currently no better website than Etsy for that. A few weeks ago, shortly after I opened a shop on Etsy, I joined the Alberta team and met Krysta of Carvel Country Soapworks, in the team's forum. A stay-at-home Mom, with an appreciation of all things handmade, she creates a wonderful array of bath and body products, but what really attracted me was the frog-shaped soap. I have a 4 year old little boy whose life currently revolves around frogs, and a little girl who can not stop acting like a lizard. So, naturally I asked Krysta if she could create something that would pertain to my daughter's interest. I couldn't order one child frog soaps without indulging the other with something in the shape of a lizard. Without delay, less than a week, I had in the mail, 2 frog soaps, 2 frog bath bombs, 2 lizard soaps, and 2 lizard bath bombs. Now, usually when I use regular soap on my kids, they cry out, and tell me that it is burning their 'sensitive' parts. Well, not with this soap, and we all loved the scent too. The bath bombs were very entertaining as they fizzed away in their little hands, and somehow, adding character soaps, just makes the world a friendlier place to be. Fantastic!...Two content children, and both birthday and Christmas gifts lined up for this year. What could be better? Well, I'll tell you...I also picked up some lip balm and soap for myself. I have very sensitive skin, constantly dry and itchy, and I generally stay away from anything that lathers, even though I love bath products. I decided to give Krysta's soap a fair trial, and this evening, with no extra moisturizing lotion, my skin feels great. The lip balm is wonderful too, with a fantastic scent, neutral flavour, and a long-lasting, moisturizing effect. I cannot think of anything in this entire transaction that would be even slightly negative. Custom order?...No problem. Fast shipping?...Wow, and how. Fantastic product?...Nothing short of wonderful. Customer appreciation?...There is no doubt. Going back for seconds?...Is the sky blue? Click on the photo, and browse Krysta's shop. Indulge yourself in a product that is not only good for you and your family, but for our environment and local economy as well.

Monday, May 3, 2010

A Cloisonne Delicacy

Cloisonne is both a product and a process, an ancient technique used for decorating metalwork objects. Closed sections are created by either gluing or soldering fine wire to the piece. These sections are then filled with enamel and need to be fired in a kiln. The fine wire remains visible in the piece and becomes part of an often very intricate design. Cloisonne was first developed in jewelry, smaller pieces such as rings and bracelets. This technique, like so many others, is limited only by imagination, and is used for decorating bowls, vases, statues, really just about anything. The beads you see in this little bracelet are small, five by eight millimeters, and are beautifully detailed. Imagine what time it must have taken to individually create each bead. When creating this bracelet, I wanted to compliment the intricacies of the beads, and so I made the link work fine, and a bit complicated. Each beautiful bead is showcased between the links so that it may be appreciated on its own. The next time you come across this beautiful, time consuming art form, take a moment to appreciate what the artist went through in creating something beautiful for us all to enjoy.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Groovy Garden

Look at this wonderful, look at the beads that make up this wonderful bracelet. Now tell me, could you ever get bored wearing this? The creator of these wonderful beads is Melissa, a fellow Albertan, mother of six girls, and a graduate of the Emily Carr College of Art. Although, the lampwork glass beads you see here are the basis for her shop on Etsy, Melissa enjoys art of all kinds and enjoys working with many mediums. I was attracted to this bracelet for several reasons. First of all, it has a lot of my favorite color, blue, in it. The intricate designs, and the uniqueness of each bead, intrigued me. The fact that each bead was handmade and done locally was enough to make me pull out the credit card. Yes, sorry, this particular bracelet is no longer available, but there are many more items in her shop, each unique and beautiful in their own right. As an added bonus, our team, The Alberta Street Team, is having a sale this week on Etsy, and with at least 70 participants, you are bound to find something you adore, and not have to worry about how long it will take to ship. Melissa is offering 20% off everything in her shop, including wonderful jewelry, bookmarks and key chains. Just click on the photo and take a look around, and while you're there, be sure to search 'alberta team', to see all the other wonderful deals from our very creative locals.