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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Thai Silver Beads



Many of the jewelry designs that I create are composed of Thai silver beads and findings. You may ask” What are Thai silver beads, and are they as good as sterling silver beads?” Well…yes actually a bit better as the silver content is usually between 95% and 99%, which is higher than sterling silver at 92.9% silver content. The high silver content makes it soft, and therefore easy to hammer and form into interesting shapes. Thai silver beads are beautifully handcrafted and made by skilled artisans of the Karen Hill tribes of Northern Thailand. These tribes live in villages in the forested, mountain areas near the borders of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar. I find that Thai silver beads have a soft, mellow, satiny silver color, slightly different from sterling silver, and work wonderfully with modern funky designs as well as in pieces that have an earthy organic feel. These beads, charms, bead caps, clasps and pendants usually depict beautiful flowers, insects and small sea creatures, such as fish, turtles and sea stars, as well as traditional elements such as spirals. Pin It

Monday, September 29, 2008

Music Monday

So you have probably all heard of Wordless Wednesday, and I have seen Thirteen Thursday, and there are probably other themed week days, so I thought.... "How about Music Monday?" So to go along with the Hot Rocks music theme, every Monday I will feature a favourite music video. Today I am starting with one of my favourite, an extremely talented musician and fabulous guitar player....Lindsey Buckingham. His new CD came out on Sept. 16, and mine is in the mail...can't wait to listen to it. In the meantime here he is playing one of my favourite songs from his last CD, Under the Skin.


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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Wire techniques-Book Review



One of my favourite books that I refer to over and over again is the book by Sharilyn Miller, called Bead on a Wire. She is also an artist who's work I admire very much.I would love to attend some of her workshops...but they are usually only offered in the USA, so I will have to settle for her books and DVDs instead! This very informative book shows the reader many techniques in making wire based jewelry. Sharilyn, lists and explains all the basic tools and materials required , and has simple step by step instructions and fantastic pictures ( very important to a visual learner like myself) to go along with each lesson. The book covers how to make, basic spirals, coils, and eye pins to more complicated double-coiled bead wraps, and clasps. There are also some great projects that you can do, or be inspired to create your own designs as I did, from learning these techniques. I highly recommend this book for anyone thinking of starting to make wire based jewelry, as well as to more experienced designers. It is a wealth of information, that you will use time after time. I have included here some pictures of my own designs that used some of the techniques described in this book.
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Friday, September 26, 2008

Hot Rocks featured on World Artisan Gems

I am thrilled and honoured to be included with the amazing artisans on the website World Artisan Gems , which features the talents of jewelry artists, bead makers, and glass artists from around the world. Please check out this wonderful site, to see the vast array of artisans and their very unique creations. There are many breathtaking designs and lots of inspiration on this site. You can read the interview with yours truly by clicking on the badge in the right handside column. Enjoy! Pin It

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Scorching Sale at Hot Rocks!





It's sale time at Hot Rocks! Check out the Scorching Sales section in my Etsy store for reductions on selected hot summer styles!!

On sale now:

Like a Virgin- necklace

Tenderness- Necklace

Endless Summer-bracelet

Ice Cream Man- necklace

Modern Love- bracelet

I Wanna be Sedated- bracelet

Holiday-bracelet

Another Day in Paradise-bracelet

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Rapture





"Rapture", named after the classic Blondie song, is a necklace that I made awhile back, that is currently for sale in my Etsy shop. If you are a lover of vintage beads, as I am, this one is for you! I am passionate about vintage beads, and absolutely adore vintage Swarovski crystals! You can read more about vintage Swarovski crystals from one of my posts back in May.The sparkle, that they give off is incredible and certainly cannot be captured in these photos. The focal of this pretty necklace, is a sapphire and topaz colored flower combining two spectacular vintage Swarovski crystals from the 1950's. The remainder of the piece is made up of a combination of vintage ivory glass pearl leaves, more stunning Swarovski crystals, again from the 50's, contemporary Swarovski glass pearls in a soft buttery yellow, and gold beads. Portions of this necklace have gold wire coils running throughout the beads..hence the title "Rapture". I always picture Marilyn Monroe wearing this!!
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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ugandan Beads



Today, as I was surfing the net, checking out some of my favourite sites for online bead shopping, I came across Titan Beads and Artisan Studio. Listed for purchase were Ugandan beads..."Ugandan beads, what are those!" I thought to myself. So I read the story about Ugandan beads and about the Acholi women of Uganda, who make these fabulous colorful beads from recycled paper. The women and their families have been forced to flee Northern Uganda due to the terrible war that has ravaged their country, and have resettled into the capital city of Kampala, where they work in dangerous rock quarries crushing stone, earning 65 cents a day. Even some of the children work here to make money so that the families can eat. Titan beads are working with these women to create a fair market for their handmade beads. Every bead purchased goes to support these women and their families in Uganda. These beads come in different sizes and shapes and colors, and I am definately going to be buying some. I hope all of you jewelry artists will take the time to check out Titan Beads, and read the article. Perhaps you can use some Ugandan beads in your designs!
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Friday, September 19, 2008

Two Sweet designs



Hot off the press!!
My two newest bracelets , "Welcome to the Jungle" is the earthy looking triple strand bracelet, combining prehnite, labradorite, crystal quartz, Thai silver, and Swarovski crystals.
"The Candy Man", a song made famous by the late Sammy Davis Jr. is the name for the very colorful and more whimsical bracelet, that looks like jelly beans, gummies and hard candy. But don't eat it, because the jelly beans are really, carnelian, yellow and chartreuse chacedony, fabulous lampwork bead discs by artisan, Blue Healer, look like hard candies or sweets, and vintage apple green lucite beads replicate gummies! Finished with a sterling silver clasp containing a very sweet vintage cabachon! Yum!!
To be listed this week in my Etsy store:
"Welcome to the Jungle" for $130.00 US
"The Candy Man" for only $65.00 US
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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Domestic Diva Martha Stewart


Todays Martha Stewarts' episode was devoted to blogs and blogging! Check out Marthas blog, she has some great tips on her blog for all bloggers! I was lucky enough to get the "heads up", from Dashery Jewelry, when I stopped by her blog this morning to drop my entrecard. So for some of you, you may still be able to catch the episode. What did I learn from watching? Well, your blog may get more attention if you have great pictures...especially if they are of cute animals, or if you have a great recipe for something sweet, or if you blog about the presidential candidates and the upcoming election, or if you are really great about blogging about celebrities...a la Perez Hilton! I love Martha, being the diva of all things domestic that she is, and I love her feature, "Cookie of the Day" ...not that I eat the cookies every day, but I do like the recipes and print them off for future use. The pictures of those cookies always look so darn good, you can probably gain weight just from looking at them! So with regards to what I learned today from watching Martha, I am going to share my recipe for something yummy and sweet, Chocolate Mousse Flan. I made this last week for my daughters' and husbands' birthday celebration and it got rave reviews! Maybe tomorrow I will post a photo of my cat! (But don't hold your breath for any political blogging from yours truly!!)


Chocolate Mousse Flan


1 cup flour

2 tbsp icing sugar

1 oz square of semisweet chocolate

1/2 cup butter at room temp.

1/3 cup whipping cream

5 x 1oz squares of semisweet chocolate

2 tbsp butter

2 eggs separated

1/4 cup white sugar

Coarsely grated or shaved chocolate


Combine flour, icing sugar and 1 oz of chocolate. Cream in 1/2 cup butter until smooth and well mixed...like shortbread dough. Form dough into a ball and then press into the sides and bottom of a 9 and 1/2 inch flan pan with removable sides. Chill for 1 hour, and then bake at 425 F for 10 minutes. Cool completely.


Bring whipping cream to a boil and add the 5 squares of chocolate and 2 tbsp of butter. Turn heat low and stir until chocolate is melted. DO NOT BOIL! Blend in egg yolks, stirring constantly, and remove from heat. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.


Meanwhile, beat egg whites until frothy and then add white sugar. Continue beating until stiff peaks form. Gently fold egg white mixture into chocolate mixture and pour into crust. Chill. Sprinkle on grated chocolate, and serve with whipped cream on the side.


Enjoy!



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Monday, September 15, 2008

How do you display your wares?


With the Christmas craft sale season quickly approaching, I am once again pondering my table display. I struggle with this at every craft show that I attend as a vendor. I don't know why this is so hard for me, as during my 11 years in retail sales, I also really enjoyed merchandising and display... and I was quite good at it as well! Perhaps it is the fact that you only get a 6 foot table to work with, and you are competing with many other vendors to get the attention of potential customers. I always try and make my table interesting by using different levels to display my jewelry, the problem I have is when it comes to props, theme, colors, and how to actually place the jewelry onto the table in an effective but non cluttered way. In the past I had my necklaces and bracelets in those long, narrow jewelry boxes, opened up and lined up on the table, with a black table cloth underneath the boxes. The problem with this was that the fluffy inserts from the boxes always got caught on the jewelry, and when a customer pulled out the item to try it on, the long fluffy insert came with it! When I removed the insert, the jewelry just looked lame and flat in the naked boxes. I also have one of those cheap plastic earring spinners, which you hang the earring cards from, but I am not really impressed with it, as it looks cheap. The two items that I do have that I love, are my gals Betty and Lucy...my retro mannequins! These ladies are great for displaying my necklaces, and they are certainly get alot of attention. So I need to build from there with some fresh new display ideas, and I am looking to do something vibrant and exciting,without taking away from the jewelry itself. How do you display your wares at craft sales? I would love to hear your unique ideas on this subject, or if anyone knows of any good websites on the subject, I would be most appreciative if you would pass on the information. I am sure many other crafters and designers must struggle with this also, so perhaps we can all help each other with some great inspirational ideas!
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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Thankyou...thankyou very much!




This afternoon I was visiting some of my favourite blogs, dropping my entrecards, when all of a sudden one of my creations was staring back at me! I was visiting the Art Zoo blog... when there it was my "Gypsy Bracelet" featured front and center! Wow...what a great surprise...Thankyou Art Zoo! There are some fabulous crafters and artisans featured daily on this blog. Check it out!


As well I have to thank Marylou (Time2cre8) and Jo (Unique You) for their wonderful suggestions, and inspiring me to organize my jewelry designing area earlier this week. I wanted it to look like a candy store with the beads being visible in containers, so that I could easily see all of my supplies. It was alot of work, but it looks great and I am now ready for the busy (hopefully!) season ahead. Thankyou ladies...your suggestions were greatly appreciated, and as promised here are the pics.
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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Far Away Friend

Today, I was catching up on some of the blogs that I read regularly, and when I visited Rebecca Werners' blog, also known as Fira Marina, I noticed that she had posted some photos of three of my bracelets that I created incorporating the fabulous beads that she makes! I was so excited, as I am such a fan of her fabulous little works of art, that I felt so honored that she was pleased with the way in which I used her beads in my jewelry designs. Rebeccas' beads are very unique, and have a wonderful organic, yet funky feel to them. I love how she uses color as well. The neatest thing is that she is self taught, her designs are truly creations from her heart and soul. I feel very fortunate to have met Rebecca on line, and although I admire the artist that she is, I also feel that she is a great friend as well...even though we are thousands of miles apart....she is in Louisianna, USA and I am in Alberta, Canada. Thanks Rebecca! Pin It

Monday, September 8, 2008

Bead organizing



Today I have the daunting task of cleaning and organizing my beading studio. It seems that every few weeks I have to clean the growing clutter of beads and supplies off my desk. I always vow that when I am done that it will stay organized...but it NEVER lasts! I try putting off this chore for as long as I can, but eventually I go crazy as it becomes impossible to design anything due to the fact that I cannot FIND anything. I am trying to come up with some better bead storage solutions, but keep running into a brick wall. I have tried the plastic boxes with dividers for my semi precious stones, but find that they end up constantly open on my desk so that I can see what it is that I actually have. I end up with 3 or 4 of these boxes on my desk and then have no room to move! I also have my crystals into tiny plastic tubes, which sit on a flimsy wire shelf, which constantly fall down with the slightest movement of the table. I have supplies in boxes, baskets and drawers, but then I have to go looking to see what I have, because I forget when I cannot see everything. I am a very visual person, and I would love to have all my supplies and beads in glass jars on shelves..like in a candy store, so that I would be able to see everything easily. I would love to hear how other jewelry designers and crafters cope with this dilemma and what works for you.
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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Two new Floral Bracelets-"Dreamer" and "Gypsy"





Today I have two new bracelets to show you that I wired together over the past week. Both are made of sterling silver wire, and combine Thai Hill Tribe silver beads with semi precious stones, artisan lampwork beads and Swarovski crystals. I made my own silver coils that are wrapped around portions of the bracelets, and I also made the silver clasps. Unfortunately I loved the grayish blue one so much that I am keeping it for myself! I named that one after the Supertramp classic....Dreamer.(It also goes with several outfits of mine) However, the red one ("Gypsy") that features Rebecca Werners stunning lampwork beads is up for grabs in my Etsy store. That one will fit a 7 to a 7 and 1/2 inch wrist... which is a pretty average size.
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