Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Design This – Carnelian n Pearl Bracelet

A couple of months ago, in another “Design This” post, I mentioned that my customer also had a bracelet project for herself in mind after I finished with her daughter’s jade and pearl necklace. During our discussions about the necklace, a few directions emerged for the custom bracelet order. My customer liked the tigers’ eye beads that she had seen, wanted to use some of her leftover pearls, liked carnelian and wanted the bracelet to be double stranded with an ornate clasp and gold plated findings.

Before I began a design, I took a photo of some of my carnelian and tigers' eye beads with a couple of pearls for size comparison so that my customer could let me know which ones she liked or disliked. (see photo #1) Next, I put together three different patterns with the beads that made the cut, along with the tigers’ eye beads and leftover pearls. (see photo #2)

While we were exchanging design ideas, I needed to locate a clasp and spacers for a double strand bracelet. Since I hadn’t made one before, I didn’t have these supplies on hand. I appreciate my customer having faith in my ability to tackle a new form. (I found the double strand bracelet to be a little more challenging to finish off than a single strand, due to the proximity of the second strand. I also had to be careful as the natural components had to be matched for size to keep both strands the same length. Other than that the process was essentially the same.)

When my supply order arrived, I strung up a design based on my customer’s feedback and sent a photo of it before finishing off the other end in case any adjustments to the design or length were needed. (see photo #3) The reply I received back was, “I really love it, can't wait to wear it.” With that, I finished off the other end so that I could get the finished bracelet off to my customer as soon as possible. (see photo #4)

Custom work is really gratifying when my customers are so thrilled with their orders. I also have to admit that this was the first custom piece that I was sorry that I hadn’t designed for myself, so I’m glad it was well received. Contact me if you are interested in discussing a custom design project.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Fellow Etsian Sightings – DivaDea & ItsMeCheri

Ok, so I wasn’t actually “out and about” when I sighted these items from two great Etsy artists. Their items are actually hanging on my Christmas tree. My family always wonders how I am going to find places on my tree each year for all of my ornaments, and I must admit that I pass up many more than I buy now because I’m starting to see their point. These two were just too adorable to pass up and I wanted to share how wonderful they look on my tree.

I giggle every time I look at the penguin tangled up in Christmas lights. DivaDea has a whole line of endearing penguins. She makes penguins that represent many different holidays, occassions and vocations. You will also find wonderful polymer clay beads, jewelry, home décor and more at DivaDea’s shop on Etsy.

This past summer ItsMeCheri created a cute collection of Lil HeartBirds. The blue one reminded me of a bluebird of happiness that needed to fly over and perch on my Christmas tree. ItsMeCheri is another very talented polymer clay artist with a shop on Etsy.

I hope you and yours are enjoying this holiday season and I wish you the best for the new year.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Winter Garden Clean Up

If a killing freeze has turned sections of your garden from vibrant to drab, you need to do a little “winter cleaning” for the look and health of your garden. Annuals that have turned brown need to be taken out and perennials that go dormant over the winter need to be clipped back. Not only will this maintenance make your garden look better, but it can improve the health of your garden by removing hiding places for pests to spend the winter in. This is especially true for beds of asparagus.

After pulling out the dead annuals and clipping back the dormant perennials, you may discover some winter weeds that need to be pulled. Once you have completed these tasks, it is a great time to freshen your mulch. It is easiest to do now, when there are no plants to mulch around. If you are in a part of the country with mild winters, you may even want to put in some pansies or snapdragons.

The photos accompanying this article are of a portion of one of my front beds. Annual cosmos predominates in shades of yellow and orange during the summer, right up to the first freeze. After the freeze, the now brown plants were taken out and the ripened seeds scattered back into the garden for next year. I added a layer of no float cypress mulch before putting out my polar bear holiday decoration. I will put in some cold hardy annuals along the edge of the walk after the holidays.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

In Memory

On November 24, 2009, I lost my mom to cancer. My friends in high school never really understood when I said she was my best friend. (Parents weren’t supposed to be your best friend at that point in your life.) She was always there to listen if I had a problem, needed to bounce an idea off someone or just talk. She was also very supportive and interested in the various projects I have undertaken in my life, from work to volunteering to hobbies. She often likened me to Johnny Appleseed with the way her garden and many others bloomed with plants that I divided and shared from my own gardens.

My mom is the reason that I got into designing and making jewelry. That is something she had done for many years and I had admired her creations. (I had made a few things with my son for gifts, but really hadn’t done much with jewelry until my mom helped me with a special project.)

A few years ago, my husband gave me an amber pin/pendant that I wanted to be able to wear both as a pin and as a pendant on a beaded necklace. My mom helped me look for beads that would compliment the piece and I found a bail that allowed me to remove the pendant without disturbing the rest of the necklace. After we had gathered a good variety of beads, she helped put together the design and walked me through stringing up the necklace. After that, she encouraged me to try my hand at designing a couple of pieces to put in her booth at an antique/craft mall. A necklace and earring set of mine sold and I was hooked.

Unfortunately, this was also about the time that the economy went south. My mom closed up her space and I discovered Etsy. We decided to open a shop on Etsy together and EDCCollective was created in February of 2009. My mom always enjoyed collecting and had been the proprietor of different shops over her lifetime, so she had a great store of vintage collectibles to contribute, as well as some of her own jewelry designs. My first listing was actually a pair of cute coyote vintage earrings, but I quickly added listings for my handcrafted jewelry items as well as photographic art. My mom listed a variety of her vintage treasures as well as a couple of her handmade pieces. Later, I expanded my offerings to include note cards and bookmarks based on my photographic art as well as some hand crafted wood items.

We worked hard to get our little shop noticed. Sales began to trickle in. October was shaping up to be our best month yet when my mom began experiencing health problems. Towards the end of the month she was diagnosed with a very aggressive late stage cancer. Still, she managed to keep her spirits remarkably high and continued to put her efforts into building our shop. On November 11, she mentioned how pretty the front page of our shop looked. I decided to capture this with several screen shots, not knowing then what I would do with the resulting image. Now I do.

I would like to end this post with the view of our shop that my mom liked so much, as a memorial to her. (Click on the image to enlarge it.) Her journey was much too short in the eyes of the people that knew and loved her, but I am very grateful that she was my friend in high school and beyond. She is very much missed but I know will never be forgotten.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

EART Team Scavenger Hunt

The Eclectic Artisans Team (EART) has a new team shop. Check it out! To celebrate our new shop and the beginning of the holiday season, we held a scavenger hunt.

The winners visited the participating etsy shops and searched their items for this photo:

When they found it, they sent the shop owner an Etsy convo letting them know they had found it and where. Each shop owner randomly drew one winner at the end of the hunt. Congratulations to the following winners!

Matrix0258, texasmonkeyboutique, lsshepler, sassygirliegirl, khollich, alainndesigns, TimRachel, MadeInCanarias, kssm, apamperedprincess and Corkycrafts

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Fellow Etsian Sightings – SkepticZone

Ok, I must admit that Richard was not an Etsian when I had the opportunity to sit across from him at a conference this past summer. He opened his Etsy shop (SkepticZone) shortly thereafter though, so I think it should count. Richard does really marvelous origami that you have to see to believe.

I actually had met Richard the previous year and marveled at his pierced earring origami creations. I don’t have pierced ears however, so I just window shopped. This year, I decided to look a little closer and realized that they would be easy to convert to clip earrings. The tiny, precise folds of his creatures are amazing. I found a pair of cranes that I just had to have. Now just two changes and they would be ready for me to wear. One, was the aforementioned conversion to clip earrings. I replaced the ear wires with hinged screw backs. I also wanted to find something to dangle from the loops under the cranes. Upon looking through my supplies, I found some small freshwater seed pearls that worked perfectly.

Richard’s origami skills are not limited to cranes however. He also creates flamingos, elephants, dinosaurs and more. (Oh my!) He treats the paper creatures so that the earrings will be durable. Currently his affordable earrings include free shipping anywhere from Australia.

Richard is the author of several origami books if you need some guidance in order to try your hand at this craft. You can also find some of his “how to” videos online, such as this one on the somersaulting horse. These step by step videos could get you hooked on paper folding in no time.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Etsy Front Page – Bringing People and Goods Together

I had a “pinch me, I must be dreaming” moment last week when I discovered that another one of EDCCollective’s items was featured on Etsy’s front page. Last Friday, my vintage cloisonné butterfly belt was picked by Etsy for a front page treasury that was posted at 12:30pm EST. You can click on the treasury to enlarge it.
And even better than the increase in views and hearts that I received from the exposure on the front page, is the sale that resulted! Thanks Etsy. I found out from my customer that she had had a similar belt many years ago that she loved and jumped at the chance to purchase mine when she spied it on the front page. Sometimes when people go to Etsy, they know exactly what they are looking for and sometimes things like Etsy’s front page treasuries will let them discover things that they didn’t know could be searched for. I think it is really cool that Etsy brought this customer and my item together like that.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Design This – Upcycled Jade n Pearl Necklace

What do you do with material from broken or outdated jewelry? You can recycle, repurpose and upcycle it into “new” fashionable jewelry that fits your current needs. This is exactly the charge that I was given by a recent customer.

My customer had some loose pearls from her mother’s necklace and an outdated double strand jade necklace. (See inset customer's photo in photo #1.) My instructions were to design a fashionable necklace for her daughter from these materials and any others that I thought would give the necklace a more contemporary look. The only other must have was to use 19 of the pearls in the design.

As with my other custom design orders, I took a photo of some possible designs and materials for my customer to give me feedback on. (See photo #1.) The feedback was to just use the jade and pearls that she had sent and surprise her with the design. She also mentioned that she loved the tiger’s eye beads and suggested that I might be able to use them in the bracelet that she wanted me to make for her. (I’ll share this project with you later.)

As I laid out the necklace, I took care to match the color and shape of the jade beads that would be across from each other. At first glance, they may look alike, but they varied by how the holes were drilled, their shape and length and color just enough that attention to these details would make a difference in the look of the finished necklace.

After I was happy with the design, I took a photo with all of the materials laid out, ready to string up the necklace if my customer liked it. (See photo #2.) I got the go ahead, so I assembled the materials into a “new”, upcycled necklace. (See photo #3) I had also had enough jade from one strand of the original double strand jade necklace for this project, that I was able to return it as an updated single strand necklace. At this point I still had some pearls and loose jade beads left. Since the daughter was going to have two new necklaces, I asked if she would like some earrings to go with them. Again, I gave a couple of design options to my customer and then assembled the winning one for a new set of earrings. (See inset in photo #3.)

So don’t rashly throw out that broken bracelet or dated necklace. Think about your current likes and see if they can become a new piece of recycled, repurposed and upcycled jewelry that you can cherish for years to come.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Etsy Front Page EDC Sighting

What’s even more exciting than being chosen by your peers to be in a treasury on Etsy? That’s being picked to be in a treasury by Etsy for the front page. EDCCollective was honored to have its Rustic Tealight Candle Holders included in a treasury featured on Etsy’s front page at 5:30am EST on Thursday, October 8, 2009. Below is a screen shot of that treasury. You can click on the photo to enlarge it.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Fellow Etsian Sightings – EverythingDear

Whether by getting to know fellow Etsy team members, browsing through Etsy or hearting your favorites, one is bound to get to know at least some of the artisans’ unique styles. If you have done this, you may one day stumble across one of your recognized artisans in a brick and mortar establishment like I did recently.

My husband and I were invited to a large gathering of friends for lunch in Spring, Texas outside of Houston. Since we live in the DFW metroplex, this meant dedicating most of a Saturday to this sojourn. The organizer of our lunch didn’t realize that that particular Saturday was one of the busiest weekends for Old Town “downtown” Spring. It turns out it was their annual classic car show. The place was packed. We were lucky to find parking since the street that Google maps directed us to take was blocked and we didn’t know our way around.

We did enjoy looking at the classic cars on our way to meet our friends for lunch and noted that there were many interesting specialty shops in this area. After lunch some of us did a little shopping and looked at more of the cars. My husband and I turned out to be the only ones parked on the other side of this quaint shopping district, so after the others headed to their cars, we continued to browse some shops on the way to our car.

When we stepped into Mason's Art Gallery, the proprietor invited us to look around and let us know that her shop contained items from a wide variety of Texas artisans. As we wandered toward the back of the gallery, I noticed some prints that looked very familiar. Upon closer inspection, I realized they were the work of fellow Etsian, EverythingDear. This is a seller that is a member of one of the teams I belong to, TexasEtsyCrafters, and a seller that I have hearted. I told my husband that if we ever need a gift for a friend that is really into cats, we need to buy from this seller. Her work is every bit as good in person as it looks online.

EverythingDear’s photographic art is at its best, in my opinion, in her cat prints. They look like watercolors instead of photographs. There are also wonderful prints of flowers and butterflies. EverythingDear’s profile lists some other galleries where her work can be found. So if you are near one of these brick and mortar shops, you can get to see EverythingDear’s wonderful work in person instead of just admiring it online. (Photos in this article are from Everything Dear’s Etsy shop.)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Autumn Themed Etsy Treasuries

There have been some wonderful autumn and Halloween themed treasuries recently on Etsy. I would like to share some that my items have been included in. Click on the images to see enlarged views.

My Autumn Glass Earrings were featured in "Bourbon on the Rocks".

Treasury curators seen to really love my Autumn Beauty Feather Pendant. It has been featured in three treasuries; "Persimmons and Plums", "autumn orange from EART!" and "There's no such thing". Will you be the customer that loves it as much as the curators and add this lovely accessory to your collection?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

See EDC at a Local Craft Show

I’m going to “get my feet wet” and participate in a local craft fair. If you have wondered what my handmade items look like in person and/or if you want to give me some moral support and you are local to the DFW Metroplex, I would love to have you stop by.

Saturday, October 3, from 9am – 4pm, I will be set up at Arlington Parks and Recreation’s 39th annual Fall Craft Fair. It will be held in the Senior Recreation Center at 1000 Eunice St. in Arlington, TX. View Map. Admission and parking are free. Their flyer states, “Come shop for handmade crafts and special gifts and win door prizes!”

I have been adding to my inventory and tagging my items in preparation. I have set up a display in my living room to get an idea of how to arrange/display my items. (You can click on the images in this post to enlarge them.) There will be several items at the craft fair that are not listed in my shop, as well as all of my handmade items that are currently listed and don’t sell before the craft fair.

EDC (Eclectic Design Choices) will be sharing table B-20 with Earlene Moore of Breads & Moore. Please stop by and say hi.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Waterfall Leak – Part 2 – The Repair

In order to repair our broken waterfall seal, we had some more disassembling to do. We took off a few layers of rocks directly below the spillway. This gave us access to the screws, or I should say what was left of them, that held the pond liner in place. The liner was sandwiched between the waterfall container and the molded, heavy black plastic spillway piece. Most of the screws, as well as about half of the metal sleeves that they screwed into, had corroded over the years. Once we managed to free all of the pieces, we were able to tell that the root came from the tree at the base of the berm and not the rosemary at the top of the berm as I had initially surmised.

We clipped the root and had to remove the bags of lava rock from the waterfall container to get it all out. This prompted some needed maintenance, as much sludge had accumulated in the container over the years. We hosed off the three mesh bags full of lava rocks and the three large fiber filters at the bottom of the container. That wasn’t the end of the sludge however. Luckily we have a wonderful Oase pond vacuum that we used to remove the rest of it along with hundreds of empty pond snail shells.

In order to remove as much tree root as possible, so that this problem didn’t come right back, we moved the three large boulders to the right of the waterfall and the small rocks that rested on them. I dug back as far as I dared in the clay of the berm and clipped the offending root. Now we were finished disassembling and could begin the process of reassembling. I started by compacting the clay back into the hole in the berm that I had created when removing the tree root.

Other than the lava rock bags being heavy, putting the filter system back together in the waterfall was easy. Next we had to figure out how to put everything back together at the spillway to create a good watertight seal. My husband found stainless steel bolts that would screw into the remaining sleeves or fasten with a nut in the holes where the sleeves had disintegrated. Just the compression provided by these screws would not have been enough however. After one false start to create a watertight seal we got the help we needed from Whiz Q Stone, a local stone yard and pond and landscape supply.

From Whiz Q Stone, I bought the seam tape, seam cover tape and primer from Aquascape Designs that I needed to create a watertight seal between the plastic waterfall pieces and the heavy EPDM pond liner. The primer causes the surfaces that you put it on to meld into each other to create a watertight seal. It worked like a charm. If you take on a project like this, make sure you read the label and take appropriate precautions when using these products.

Next, the rocks had to be put back. They never go back exactly like they were before. Part of this is because heavy puzzle pieces are difficult to manipulate and also because there is more than one solution to the puzzle. I filled large voids with black waterfall foam that is available even at your local hardware store.

Almost done now, I just needed to add some water and water conditioner before turning on the pump. Everything worked perfectly and better yet, after several hours there were no wet spots in the garden or bubbles under the liner.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Garden Pond and Waterfall Leak

One day my husband came in and asked if we had had much rain earlier that day. It turns out that when he pulled a couple of weeds near our garden pond and waterfall, he found the ground to be rather wet. We had not had any appreciable rain and as we investigated further, it turned out that there was some standing water in another area of the garden and “bubbles” under the pond liner in the stream section. I had seen these bubbles before, only much worse, shortly after we had had the pond installed. At that time they were caused by an uneven settling of the waterfall filter container that allowed water to pour over a back corner and get under the liner.

We decided to turn the pump (waterfall) off overnight. In the morning there was no standing water and no bubbles. We turned the pump back on in the morning and within a few hours the bubbles and standing water were back. Now we knew that when the waterfall was off, there was no leak. The hunt was on for the source.

Water was flowing properly from the waterfall container and not over a back corner as it had previously. As we traced the wet soil, it continued up the berm towards the waterfall. Finally it looked like the only way to trace the source further was to turn off the pump again and disassemble the waterfall. When we lifted off the fake spillway rock, we found the culprit. A root of a nearby tree had worked its way between the pond liner and the waterfall filter container, breaking the seal and allowing water to seep under the liner.

Now all we had to do was fix the broken seal and we should be back in business. This was easier said than done however. I’ll explain the process in my next installment.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Photo Art Bookmarks

I’m sure you have torn off pieces of paper to mark your place in a book or magazine. I have. I have also had them fall out and litter the ground thereby losing my place. If this has happened to you, you need something better suited to the task. I have a more permanent solution for you, photo art bookmarks.

I am excited about my new offering. These bookmarks are thin enough to be kind to your book while saving your place, yet substantial enough to make it easy to turn to your marked page. Not only are they functional, but they are small pieces of art. I have adapted some of my altered photo wall art offerings and note card designs as well as creating photo art designs just for the bookmarks. The back of each bookmark includes a short saying.

Bring a little art into your life or give these mini art bookmarks as gifts. They come in two sizes. It is only September, however many people are already thinking about Christmas and these bookmarks would make great stocking stuffers.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Summer Jewels for the Garden

A challenge that faces low water usage gardeners during the dog days of summer, where rainfall is sporadic, is how to add color to your garden when your plants want to go dormant throughout these hot, dry days. One solution I have found are rain lilies of the genus Zephyranthes.

These hardy bulbs send up flowers when the weather is hot and a passing summer shower temporarily brings welcome relief from a dry spell. Their flowers range from a larger pink variety to crocus like blooms of peach, yellow and white, with the white ones being the smallest. The pink ones are usually the first to send up buds, followed soon by the others to create a riot of cheery color. This delightful burst of color lasts from a couple of days to a week depending on the weather conditions.

Rain lilies will develop into larger clumps as the bulbs naturally divide. If you let the seed heads mature, they will also propagate from seed. An interesting note, when the pink rain lilies reseed, they produce the smaller bright yellow rain lily. All of the others seem to come up true from seed. Therefore if you want to share your pink rain lilies, you must divide the bulbs.

When rain lilies are not in bloom, their strap like leaves provide a spot of green. If you have a particularly long dry spell, these grassy clumps may almost disappear. The foliage will also disappear with a frost and then reappear as the weather warms in the spring.

Plant Zephyranthes and you will be treated to treasure chests of colorful jewels gracing your garden shortly after you are lucky enough to catch a summer shower.

Friday, August 21, 2009

CraftGawker = Eye Candy

I enjoy going to museums and galleries to look at well designed and executed “art”. I use this term to include everything from furniture to paintings to jewelry and home décor, to name a few categories. This week I came across a reference for an online photo gallery of great objects. No need to drive, find a parking place or buy a ticket. You will find awesome photos of wonderful items in a variety of categories. If you also enjoy window shopping, you’ll enjoy this site.

In addition to being a really fun site to poke around on and look at all the pretty things, you can also submit your own photos of neat things. I have had two of my item photos accepted so far.

CraftGawker is a spin-off from the FoodGawker gallery. If well cooked and well presented food is more your thing, then find a feast for your eyes at this website. Happy browsing.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Design This - Mother - Daughter Jewelry

There is a place on Etsy where you can request a custom item from any talented Etsian that responds to your request. It is called alchemy. As I scanned the alchemy requests one day, I came across an interesting one for “Mother – Daughter Jewelry”. The requester wanted something that both she and her mother could wear to remind each other that they were there for one another in spirit, even when they couldn’t be in person. I had recently made a necklace and earring set that I thought might interest this person.

She saw potential and sent me a convo (Etsy e-mail) to see if I could make the vision that my jewelry set had sparked in her mind as the perfect manifestation of her request. Her explanation of what she wanted can be found in a blog post by PreciousMetals4U. (This shop promptly supplied the custom charms that my customer wanted to have included in the bracelet design.)

I set out to locate crystals in the colors of the birthstones of the five women from her family that were to be represented, as well as the sterling silver chain and findings that were a requested upgrade to my original bid. My customer coordinated having the charms shipped straight to me, as we were on a tight schedule due to her upcoming move to attend graduate school.

When I finally had all of my materials, (Some arrived a day later than I had anticipated!) I gathered them all in one place and began assembling the crystal sections. When those were all finished, I clipped the sterling chain into sections of the needed lengths. The challenge here was to make two different lengths of bracelets look as close to identical as possible. I laid out all of the components for one bracelet at a time on my beading board and then assembled each bracelet.

With the bracelets completed, it was time to take some photographs to send to my customer for approval. She was pleased, so each bracelet was placed in its own gift box and then they were prepared to be sent by priority mail. I’m happy to say that they arrived in the knick of time and the gifts were well received.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Recycled Wood Products

Storms, disease, drought, they all take their toll on our trees. Often when a tree or a portion thereof needs to be removed, it winds up in our landfills. Some communities and tree services have realized that this is a huge waste of resources and have begun chipping this material and composting it for mulch. Unfortunately, many times the chips wind up in landfills too. Much of this wood could be turned into useful items if it could find its way to the right person.

I had a sycamore tree die from a recent drought. It was nice wood, so I’m having the main trunk planked to panel a wall. I had my tree service leave the smaller pieces as well because it seemed a shame to not do something with all of that pretty wood. I have begun to make some home décor items from this sycamore wood.

The first item I made was a wall clock. I cut a ¾ inch slab from a limb and sanded it. I then applied several coats of a clear stain and sealer to bring out the beauty of the wood. Now to add the guts of the clock. Some battery powered clockworks can be a little on the noisy side, however I used a brand that is very quiet. I have used this brand in the past to replace distracting ones. To the clockworks I added decorative hands and numbers for the clock face.

My next projects were a set of tealight candle holders, business card holders and pen blanks for wood turners. For the candle holders, I drilled a hole in one end of a length of limb of the proper diameter for a tealight to fit into. I sanded and finished each of the three candle holders of the set as I had the clock. Next, came the business card holders. Earlier this year I attended a conference and needed something to place my business cards in. Again my sycamore wood was used to created pretty, useful items instead of rotting in the landfill.

I have a few other items that I have started as well. I am working on some desk sized business card, pen and pencil holders as well as a rustic wooden vase to hold dried or silk flowers. It’s looking like I may keep the prototype of the vase, I like it so much, so I’ll have to get busy on a second one for my shop.

I have accomplished all of these recycling projects with basic shop saws, a drill and a sander. Next time you see a downed tree, maybe you can take some home to make your own creations or turn a woodworker in your area onto it, so it doesn’t just get hauled off to the landfill. To see what recycled wood home decor items that I currently have for sale, please check out my Feathers, Leather n Wood shop section.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Earring Solution for Metal Allergies - Niobium

For some people, even upgrading to 14K gold does not alleviate their skin sensitivities or allergies to metal, especially nickel. Even in more pure forms, gold and silver are often still alloyed with small amounts of nickel. In the past, someone with severe metal allergies had to purchase expensive titanium or platinum earrings in order to be able to wear them. Today there are also coatings available on the market to buffer your skin from the offending metal. This is not a permanent solution however. For a less expensive, permanent solution try niobium ear wires.

Niobium is so affordable, it isn’t just for people with skin sensitivities. Niobium is a silver gray colored metal. However, it can be anodized with differing thicknesses of niobium to produce an array of exciting colors.

There are many craft wires available that match or compliment the anodized colors of niobium. Some very fun earring combinations are possible when you are not constrained to just silver, gold or copper ear wires. I have just designed my first pair of outrageously colored, fun earrings. (Update: These earrings have been sold, however if you are inspired by the colors of niobium ear wires in the photos and would like for me to design a pair of custom earrings for you, please contact me and let me know what your color preferences are and I’d be happy to design something for you.) You can see my currently listed niobium ear wire earrings in my shop, EDCCollective. (Most earrings in both of my shops can be changed to niobium earrings. Contact me for details.)

Add some color to your ears and be kind to them as well.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Gift of Time – Jewelry Crafting with My Niece

My niece has loved Hello Kitty stuff and the color purple for a very long time. When I tripped across a pair of earrings featuring Charmmy Kitty (Hello Kitty’s cat) with purple bows in TangerineDog’s Etsy shop, I knew that my niece would love them. Only one problem, she doesn’t have pierced ears and rarely if ever wears earrings.

Crafting to the rescue. Instead of just using the Charmmy Kitty charms to make something that my niece might actually like and use, I decided to give her the charms with a promise to have her over and make some jewelry out of them for her to wear.

A couple of weeks later, my niece came over to craft her jewelry. I prepared by pulling out a selection of beads that I thought would go well with her charms. We talked about what kind of jewelry she wanted to make using the Charmmy Kitties and which beads she liked. She decided on making a necklace and a bracelet. We figured out how long the necklace and bracelet should be and began to design them on a beading board. We talked about what colors looked good together and while I guided the design, my niece had the driving vision of what beads she wanted to use and ideas of how to group them together.

When the designs were complete, I helped with the trickier task of finishing off the ends and my niece strung the beads. While we worked, we had a chance to chat about school and whatever else popped into our heads. I enjoyed being able to share some of my crafting skills with the next generation and just spending some quality time. My niece was pleased with being able to help create her jewelry and has a new found appreciation for jewelry making. (It takes time and dexterity to string all of those little beads.)

What skill do you have that you could share with someone as part of a birthday, holiday or just because gift? I hope that you can think of something, since you and the recipient will be enriched beyond the giving of the physical gift. Time is a precious commodity that is wonderful to share.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Vintage Items Featured in Etsy Treasuries Too!

A couple of my handmade items found their way into Etsy Treasuries earlier this year. Since then, three of EDC's vintage items have been featured also. Click on the images below to see enlarged views.

EDC's red enamel earrings were featured in the Black and White and Red All Over treasury.

EDC's vintage wooden toy rocking horse was featured in Accomplices For Your Inner Child.

Most recently, EDC's Santa Monica porcelain squirrel was featured in the Lone Star Spotlight treasury.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Diary 2010 Project

I recently found out about a neat project. This will be its third year. It gives artists free promotion in exchange for helping create a beautiful, artistic diary. I submitted my request to reserve a page and was accepted! You can get a sneak peak of my page below. Click on the image to enlarge it.

I picked images from my work that bring to mind what March has meant to me. Where I have lived, March is a transition month from winter to spring. Flowers and butterflies begin to appear along with the ladybugs. However, a chill can still blow in and make you long for a nice cozy fire to sit next to.

Visit the Diary 2010 Project's main page to find out more information and get ideas for creating your own page. There are still several pages available. The submission date for your completed page is fast approaching however, so check it out today.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Tomato Time in Texas

If you planted tomatoes in your spring vegetable garden in Texas, you probably have been enjoying the fruits of your labor for a while now. However, if you didn’t get any in the ground, it’s not too late to enjoy fresh, homegrown tomatoes from your garden this year.

Between now and the Fourth of July is prime tomato transplant planting time in North Texas for a fall harvest of tasty tomatoes. Just as with spring plantings, and possibly even more important in our summer heat, you should pinch off the lowest set of leaves on your transplants and set the plants deep in the ground, almost up to the next set of leaves. The tomato plant will grow roots along the buried stem. You will have to be attentive to the watering needs of your new transplants, but if you are, you will be amply rewarded.

I have had good success with Celebrity tomato setting fruit even during the heat, but you will get even better fruit set as the weather cools a bit. If your plants are flowering but there is not much wind, you can assist pollination and fruit set by thumping the blossoms. Another good vegetable choice for planting now is eggplant. Last year my Japanese eggplant set a bumper crop of fruits during the heat of the summer. Just remember to mulch to keep the root zone cooler and keep sufficient water on your new transplants. (I use old hay to mulch my veggie garden.)

Whether your tomatoes are home grown or store bought, you want to maximize their storage potential. I discovered an interesting tip for storing tomatoes in a recent America’s Test Kitchen’s “Notes from the Test Kitchen” e-mail. You can read about their tests and results. It’s amazing how something so simple can make such a big difference.

May the tomato fairy be good to you.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Milestone Events

Birthdays that end in zeros, 25th anniversaries, promotions, graduations and many more milestone events are markers along our life’s journey. While these things can all be great accomplishments, they can also bring along a certain amount of stress. Injecting a little humor can be a great stress reliever.

My family just experienced one of these milestone events. My son turned 20. I’m very proud of the young man he is becoming. At the same time I think, “How could my child be 20 already?” It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was. (When you do the math however, it was a long time ago.)

My husband and I injected a little humor by making my son a custom birthday card. In the week before his birthday, a combination of photos that I had previously taken, my husband’s wit and my son’s imminent milestone birthday gelled into a card that he really got a kick out of.

The dog is my son’s greyhound and the headdress just seemed like it would be a perfect portrait prop for her. She has always reminded me of a lioness when she hangs out in the tall grass, so we let some grow for the photo shoot. From there, add a touch of my husband’s humor and my son’s 20th birthday and a card was created.

If you have your own meaningful photo and wording, you too can create a custom card for any milestone event in your life. Most office supply stores now sell packages of note cards that you can print on your printer. I use Adobe Illustrator to set up the card design and print them on my laser printer. If you don’t have the desire to tackle this, I can put together that custom card for you. Also, with my son’s permission, his birthday card is available with customization for your milestone event by custom request through EDCCollective.