Tuesday, November 25, 2008

For the Man in Your Life

If there's one thing I've learned in my 24 years making jewelry, it's that men are far pickier about their jewelry than women. Some men won't wear jewelry at all (my husband is one--although I've got him wearing a simple wedding band, he doesn't even wear a watch). Those that do wear jewelry are very particular about the style they like.

If your man is one who does wear jewelry, and he likes a bold ring, you might consider a holiday gift of a cool, handcrafted wire-wrapped ring. They are available in your choice of more than 20 different gemstones, in gold or silver wire, and in any size up to 14. You can see the rings on the Rings page, and the available gemstones on the Stone Samples page of my website. I'll need orders by no later than December 10th to be guaranteed delivery in time for Christmas. Feel free to call me toll free at 1-877-731-GEMS (4367) to discuss your needs!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

From Found Items to Fancy Accessories

I have a customer from New York--Liz--who comes to Florida to visit friends two or three times a year. And each time she brings me something she's "found" for me to make into something "fancy". She frequents antique stores and estate dealers because she loves discovering old stuff that can be recycled into something new and cool. This last time it was a strand of garnet beads and a pair of vintage crystal clip-on earrings, which she had me combine and upcycle into the necklace pictured above. She has a pair of dangle earrings that I made awhile back, with garnet and crystal beads and liquid gold heishi--the necklace is constructed to match the earrings.

The other thing she brought me was the turquoise-blue scarab. It used to be a pin, but the pin back had broken off. Her antique dealer had it in a box of stuff that he considered "useless". Needless to say, that's Liz's favorite place to look! She had in mind a fancy scrollwork pendant with a double bail, something that would have an "Egyptian" feel. She even provided me with a little sketch of the general idea. Helpful, but not really necessary--it seems Liz and I are on the same wavelength most of the time. She's had me make several pieces over the years, and has yet to be disappointed!


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What I Made Yesterday, 11-18-08

Nothing. That's right--not a thing. Tuesday is my day off, so I didn't even set foot in my shop. After I dropped my son off at school, I went home and worked online awhile, so it wasn't a totally "wasted" day. I have several online venues where I sell my jewelry, so I've got to keep up with them. My Contemporary Concepts website, and Etsy, and Ruby Lane, and eBay (some great bargains there!). All need a little "love" most every day. Plus there are the social networking sites that have to be maintained. Facebook, Indiepublic, Flickr (although I have to admit I'm not very good about keeping up with all of them!) I did take a nap yesterday afternoon, and I didn't get the dishes done, so I guess I was a little bit worthless.

That's probably because yesterday will likely be my last day off until the holidays. I usually start my holiday hours Thanksgiving week. No Tuesdays off, open until 7:00 p.m. on Thursdays, and until 8:00 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. I'm always open noon to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday. If you're in the neighborhood, stop by! Even with all those online venues, there's no way I could post pictures of every single thing I make! Plus it's fun to fondle everything in person, isn't it?


Monday, November 17, 2008

What I Made Yesterday, 11-16-08

My "sea glass ladies" are due to start arriving next month. They are a group of women from all over the country who come to Florida with their husbands and families as "snowbirds" to enjoy the winter months in relative warmth. Some of them arrive in December, others in January, and they stay for 3 or 4 months. They first found me two years ago, and I have become a "hot spot" on their lists of activities to enjoy while they're here!

They tend to clean me out of whatever sea glass jewelry I have made, so I spend the late summer and early fall making as much sea glass stuff as I can. I did these six pendants yesterday.

They also go out walking the beach and find sea glass of their own, which they bring to me to set. And one day last spring they invited me down to their little community center to set up for the day and make and sell sea glass pieces. That was fun--they're a great group of ladies! I already have an invitation for the coming spring, but we haven't yet set a date.

In the meantime, I'll keep whipping up a few sea glass pieces whenever I get a chance! Mostly pendants, but also some bracelets and earrings. You can see some of my available pieces in my Etsy shop.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

What I Made Yesterday, 11-15-08

For awhile I was trying to do a "What I Made Today" post every few days, but I discovered that it was more difficult than I anticipated. It's not that I don't make things nearly every day, it's more that by the time I get something made, photographed, edited, and uploaded, it's too late to write a coherent post before I have to run out the door. So I just wouldn't post. Then it became too many days between posts! So now I've decided a "What I Made Yesterday" post would be more productive.

Yesterday it was a few sterling bracelets. I find I sell a lot of bracelets around the holidays--they make great gifts. I have more than 100 styles to choose from, and I customize the size and color. You can see all available styles on my website. You'll also want to check out the far-right column on the page, where you'll find a list of gemstone beads. Just roll your cursor over the gemstone name and you'll see a pop-up of the bead color. And for further gemstone research, you can check my Stone Samples page.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

God Bless Our Veterans

God bless this country's veterans.

I can't see how the words "thank you" can ever come close to expressing the gratitude we as a nation have for the men and women who have served for us over the years. But it's all I've got.

Thank you!


Monday, November 3, 2008

John's Mojo

I first met John Stancato nearly 20 years ago at a craft fair in a park in Ft. Lauderdale. An older gentleman, he had recently retired and was looking for something to do to fill his time. He thought making wire jewelry looked interesting, but he couldn't get any wire jewelers to talk to him. I wasn't surprised--back then, way prior to the Internet and all the "sharing" that goes on here, wire jewelers were proprietary and paranoid. Anyone who showed any interest without a wad of cash in their hand MUST be stealing ideas! Sad.

Personally, I've always been a believer in karma. What goes around comes around. Plus, I wasn't at all paranoid, and since wire jewelry making had been around for thousands of years, it was ridiculous to harbor any "proprietary" delusions. I was happy to talk to John. He and his wife Eileen were just the most delightful people, laughing a lot, obviously crazy about each other, and genuinely interested in what I had to say. (At that time, I had only been making wire jewelry for a couple of years, and hardly considered myself an expert!)

Thus began many years of an ongoing and fulfilling relationship. I saw them a couple of times when I did shows in the Ft. Lauderdale area, then they moved to Lady Lake, which is northwest of Orlando. I opened my store in 1992, and they would come down occasionally and we'd talk and laugh and share ideas and designs. We spoke on the phone once in awhile. It surprises me to look back now and realize how little physical time we actually spent together, when I know in my heart how close we were.

John became quite successful at wire jewelry making. He would always swear that I taught him, but I beg to differ. I remember showing him a couple of moves, and talking about different techniques, but John was a natural talent. He didn't need any real "teaching". He just "got it". He made jewelry until it overflowed his workshop, then he started giving it away to friends and family. When everyone they knew was adorned to the hilt, John and Eileen decided they needed a different outlet to get rid of the already-made stuff, so John could make more! They tried a couple of craft fairs, but craft fairs aren't easy. They're time-consuming, expensive, and exhausting. (I quit doing them about 4 years ago because they became cost-inefficient, especially for the amount of effort involved. Hey, I'm not 25 any more!)

Fortunately, John and Eileen lived in an area that's kind of "artsy". North Central Florida...Mount Dora, The Villages, smaller towns with quite a few retirees looking for things to spend their money on. John eventually had his pieces in three different galleries, one of which he'd go into a few days a week and make jewelry on the spot. Everyone loved him--he was quick-witted and had the most amazing, infectious laugh. I'll never forget it. Even the thought of that laugh makes me smile!

Sadly, my dear friend John passed away in July 2006. Of course, I wished--and still do--that I'd made more of an effort to see him more often. But I had my store, I had gotten married, had a son...life was busy. I know John understood, and probably didn't think anything of it, but it still makes me sad.

Eileen and I have kept in touch. She calls periodically. I send her a note or a newsletter now and then, sometimes with new pictures of my son Ricky. Then last week she called with an offer. She had all of John's tools and supplies and didn't really think they'd be worth anything at a garage sale, and would I like them?

Would I like them? Are you kidding?! I know Eileen knew exactly how much that offer would mean to me. Wow. John's stuff. John's mojo. I couldn't wait! So Eileen and John's two daughters, Marie and Linda, came down last week with a van full of goodies. I had no idea it would be so much (although looking around at my own work space, I should have had an idea--we wire-workers are a pack-rat bunch!) Eileen and Marie and Linda and I all had lunch at the restaurant next door, and we talked about John and laughed...a lot. It was so great. I got a bit emotional, but what's a few tears among friends?

Then I spent the next four days organizing and putting away all the fantastic stuff I'd inherited. Tools and stones and beads and wire and all kinds of little bits and pieces of really cool stuff! And my favorite thing? See that little white box in the top left corner of the picture above this post? There were a couple of those, they're what I call "leftovers". Beads and bits of wire and stones that sit around on the workbench until you're so sick of the clutter that you scoop everything into a box or a ziploc bag and start fresh. Then you "rediscover" that box or baggie, maybe years later, and have a new infusion of creativity because of these little bits that you'd forgotten all about! I've had these "leftovers" for years, but it never occured to me that other people may have them, too. And now that I think about it, I'd be willing to bet that anyone who does anything crafty has their equivalent of the "leftovers" box buried somewhere in their work space! (Come on, admit it! You're not alone!)

I haven't actually had the opportunity to make much since Eileen brought me this stuff. Like I said, it took me four days to organize and put it all away. Then we had an "event" here in Cocoa Village Saturday night, so I had to be ready for that. But today is the day! I'm digging in to the beads and stones, tapping into the fresh creative juices that have been dying to flow since last Wednesday. And I'm going to use some of John's tools. Maybe a little of John's mojo will rub off on me!