Sunday, 22 November 2009

When It All Comes Together

Some artisans are lucky (or smart) enough to be able to make a sketch, detail what they need and then create a piece of jewelry from their own plan.  Not me.  In this case, it was the sunflower charm that started the journey and the bracelet pretty well grew around it.
I cook like that, too.  My mother laughs at me and says she hopes nobody ever asks me for a recipe because even when I start from a recipe, the finished dish has nothing to do with the original.  A little of this...oh, let's try a little of that...  She calls me the Great Substitutor.
I can always tell when I will be really pleased with a finished piece of jewelry.  It grows quickly and there is no hesitation, even while the "little of this" and "little of that" is going on.  Some pieces sit on my bead board for months because they just don't want to grow in my garden.  And if they're forced, just to get them finished, they don't flourish and take forever to sell, if at all.  This bracelet grew like a weed.

Silver Garden
Three strands of sterling silver chain with swarovski crystal cubes, sterling beads and silver plated charms.  The clasp is sterling silver.

$40 CDN

Monday, 16 November 2009

Magnetic Necklaces and More

Everybody seems to know somebody who sells magnetic jewelry but some of it is no more than decoration.  Does it really work?  Some sellers claim that magnets will cure anything that ails you.  Scientists say that the magnets used in jewelry are too weak to have any effect on blood flow.  Who is right?  The fellows who carry cow magnets in their pockets know for sure that they have a great effect on their credit cards.
I'm not going to make any claims about my magnetic jewelry, other than the fact that it has certainly helped my arthritis.  And it's better made than most of the others you will find.

The hematite:  Magnetic jewelry is traditionally tubular beads and round beads.  The round beads do not have much of a magnetic charge but are necessary to make a necklace, bracelet or anklet drape properly.  My hematite tubes are diamond cut and extra strong and instead of alternating tubular and round, I increase the strength of the piece by using a 1 tubular/1 round, 2 tubular/1 round pattern.  Instead of the traditional fishing line, this jewelry is made using a 19 strand .015" wire, flexible and with a 17 pound test.

The clasp:  Traditional magnetic jewelry has a plastic clasp with magnets, with the line glued inside the clasp.  These comfortable and attractive clasps are  metal with extra-strong magnets. Their exceptional strength makes these some of the most effective pieces of jewelry on the market.  A sterling silver wire guardian keeps the wire from fraying but gives it great flexibility.  Anklet clasps are tubular for more comfort.

All jewelry is guaranteed for workmanship.  Magnetic jewelry should be "rested" for a few days every month or so and some people claim that rest should be on stone or concrete for at least 48 hours.  They can be cleaned with mild soap and water.  Magnetic jewelry should never be worn by people with pacemakers. 
Necklaces - $30
Anklets - $20

The Necklace Efficiency Test:
Clasp your hands in front of you, palms up and hold them about six inches in front of your body.  Have someone push as hard as they can on your clasped hands.  You will lose your balance and step forward.  Put a magnetic necklace on and repeat the whole operation.  If the necklace is a good one, you will be very hard to pull forward, if at all.
This test was told to me by an old fellow who sold really good magnetic jewelry and I couldn't believe what a difference it made!  I've got a lot of upper body strength and it doesn't matter when someone pushes on your hands like that.  You'll step forward.  But with a necklace on, I was like a rock - didn't move!  (Cue the Outer Limits music...)

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

My Kingdom for a Workshop!

You need to eat cheese with this blog post because it's a whine!  I'm grateful for so many things:  being my own boss; living in such a beautiful place; living in a cute little apartment and not having to drive to work...lots more, but I need to get to the whining part.
Being a very visual person, I need my beads and findings out in plain sight to get inspired.  Because the only furniture my dogs don't think is theirs is the kitchen table and chairs, I need the table to eat.  I can keep a little spot clear that's big enough for a plate and water glass but every once in awhile people actually threaten to visit and that requires a mad flurry of cleaning.  Then it looks so good clean, I don't make any jewelry for a while because everything is all neatly filed away in drawers.
And metalwork is calling, along with silver clay, of course.  Copper and bronze clay is calling too, but the only way I could put a kiln in here is to put it where my microwave is, and I'd starve to death if I wasn't able to nuke frozen food.  My kitchen island has the accoutrements of every sophisticated kitchen - tumbler, fire bricks, a butane torch and an anvil. 
Some people dream of kitchen renovations.  I dream of being able to fire clay or anneal copper without setting off the fire alarm and choking the dogs.  The time of year probably has a lot to do with my complaints, because the furnace runs when I open the windows or the door and the only thing I'd like more than a workshop is a furnace that runs on air.  I dream of a nice, warm working area with great ventilation and lots of counters.  Nice, open trays full of gemstones, beads, and pearls, with clear drawers for findings.  I'd build a wooden holder for all of my pliers and cutters, instead of having them in a tacklebox under my table that creeps out and trips me when I'm not paying attention.

Ah well, it's great to dream, but Dewey hates change and he gets very suspicious if I do anything differently.  Better get back to counting my blessings...

Friday, 6 November 2009

Pretty Coral...Is It Worth It?

Coral reefs are home to an abundance of sea life, providing food, shelter, hiding places and areas for reproduction.  When most people think of coral, they think of the little branches in our aquariums, little white sticks, or beautiful red coral beads.  But coral is a living, breathing organism and we are systematically killing it. 

In poorer areas of the world, fish are captured from the reefs both for upscale restaurants in Asia and aquariums in North America.  Some fishermen use dynamite and collect the stunned fish from the surface.  Of course, the reef is not just stunned by the blast, it is destroyed.  Some fishermen pour cyanide in the water and collect the stunned fish that float to the surface.  The fish recover but the reef cannot.  Reefs are bulldozed off the coast of Africa to crush for roads.  And probably the biggest killers of all, pollution and global warming are changing the acidic level of the ocean and killing the reefs.  It's hard to believe, isn't it, that we puny humans can destroy something as big and powerful as an ocean?

I can do my infinitesimal part to save the world by practising the three "rs" and trying to buy local when possible, to support small farms instead of factory farms and to be one less person buying goods that were shipped across the country or continent.  I'm probably not as consistent as I'd like to be because cost is always a factor.  But when it comes to coral, I am now adamant.  As much as I'd like the beautiful red beads, real coral will never be a part of any of my jewelry. 
There are many organizations devoted to saving the reefs and one of the most recognizable jewelers, Tiffanys, has lent their name to a new one called "Too Precious to Wear."  Tiffanys will no longer sell coral jewelry.  A plethora of information and organizations is available if you google "reef destruction" if you would like to learn more about how these beautiful reefs are vital to the health of our oceans and our world.

The Death of Coral Reefs