Year of Jewelry 2015 Week 16: Made of Thick Wire

If you've looked through my website, you'll know I don't typically do a lot of metal stamping.  However, a childhood friend asked me to make her a sterling cuff with a movie quote on it years ago.  (You don't want to know how much sterling I wasted trying to get the entire thing stamped straight.)  I decided to keep it simple.  One word on a solid, very sturdy sterling wire.  
Yes, I know happiness is spelled with an "i."  :)
Any guesses as to which movie inspired her to ask for this piece?

Year of Jewelry 2015 Week 15: Story of Me

The double infinity bracelet is my all time best seller, and its success is what gave me the confidence to take my hobby and make it into a business.  It has also been copied dozens upon dozens of times, which discouraged me from sharing my ideas for a time.  In the end, I took a lesson from Elsa and "let it go."  My style is evolving away from simple wire shapes and I don't make many of these anymore. 
When I first started out, I tried anything and everything.  Now that I have some experience, I am more confident of my "artistic identity."  Through my journey, I've met some extremely talented jewelry artists.  They are my mentors and friends, not my competition.  If you have a particular concept for custom design, please let me know.  There are many, many different techniques- more than any one person can master in a lifetime.  If it's not something in my "wheel house," I am more than happy to refer you to another highly skilled artist!

Year of Jewelry 2015 Week 5: Squares

This week's theme was "squares."  I don't typically use squares, as I prefer to design around freeform shapes.  However, I did have this fabulous, square shaped labradorite with lots of flash BEGGING to be made into something.  :)

Bonus- since this stone is a lot larger than most pieces of sea glass, the backplate is large enough to try some fancy cut out work.   What do you think- does it look like a mermaid?

Year of Jewelry 2015 Week 4: Hammer It!

This week's theme was to "hammer it."  I use a hammer to texture most of my designs because it adds dimension to the piece and also work hardens the metal.  :)  Most of my earring designs are understated, but adding a small hoop looks great on women with longer hair and balances the face without being trashy. 

Whereas the narrow, dangly earrings elongate your neck, hoop earrings (or anything that is heavier at the bottom) draws the eye to the bottom of your face and gives a more youthful appearance.  (Think about it... the facial features of children and cute animals are all concentrated at the lower part of the face.)

So while you may not want to wear hoops to a corporate meeting, they are great for wine tasting with the bff's or a day at the ball park.

Year of Jewelry 2015 Week 3: Try a Tutorial

It took me a few a while to get through Week 2's project.  Week 3's theme was "Try a Tutorial."  There are tons of jewelry making tutorials on the web. I get a lot of "brain pickers" at art shows- people who are either "competitors" (their perspective, not mine) or do-it-yourselfers.  For some things, I gladly refer them to You Tube or various websites.  When it comes to metal work, however, I highly encourage people to pay for live instruction.  You really should have experienced supervision when starting out with torches and power tools.

Ok, so now that I've advised caution to anyone who might be a complete newbie, here's the tutorial I selected for this week's project:  Inside Out Pearl Ring (Part I and Part II) by Soham Harrison.  Mr. Harrison has dozens of terrific video tutorials on his You Tube Channel that don't require really expensive, high end equipment.  (I suppose "expensive" is a relative term.  Traditional jewelers like you'd find in a store typically have access to things like laser welders, high end computerized engravers, etc.  Handmade jewelry artists can still easily spend thousands of dollars on hammers, saws, punches, pliers, mandrels, etc.)

This particular piece was made using half round sterling wire, sterling sheet and a freshwater pearl.  I didn't follow the exact directions, but love the result!  It reminds me of a lotus seed pod.  I love lotus blossoms for a number of reasons, but mostly because they start out in mud, then grow their way to the surface, where they bloom magnificently! 

What's your favorite flower and why?

Year of Jewelry Week 2: January's Birthstone, Garnet

If you're familiar with my work, you'd probably be surprised to learn that my favorite color is red.  Garnets are one of my favorite stones, and for many years, my signature stone was a Tsavorite garnet (which is green, but I digress).  Since I work primarily with sea glass, and red sea glass is extremely rare, I tend to stick to a cooler pallet.  However, it's the weekly theme for YOJ and a great excuse to work with something in the hue of the Pantone Color of the Year, Masala.

Garnet is said to balance, strengthen, protect and ground the wearer.  When paired with pearls, they are said to attract love.  From a more practical standpoint, garnets are a terrific choice for rings because they have a Mohs hardness of approximately 7, which is pretty tough.  They also come in a wide range of colors including reds, pinks, browns, greens, and everything in between.  Some have blended colors (where two or more different types are found together) and some types of garnets even change colors! 

I've had some great garnets sitting in my stash for a while.  Look for a few more pieces to make their way into the collection this year!

Year of Jewelry 2015 Week 1: Talisman

Haouli Makahiki Hou!  (Happy New Year!)  If you follow me on Instagram (@simplyleilanijewelry), you already know I spent the holidays in Hawaii.  It was a great time, but it's also nice to be back in Virginia Beach... This year I decided to participate in a project called Year of Jewelry (YOJ).  Essentially, jewelry artists are encouraged to finish and post one piece of jewelry per week for 52 weeks.  There are themes for every week, but they're really suggestions to get you started if you're having trouble getting started.  Good thing, as I'm actually starting a week behind, jet lag is killing me and my youngest decided she wanted to have a play date today.  The little ones interrupted me about every 5 minutes.  I burned through my first bezel attempt and accidentally stamped a letter 90 degrees off on the first back plate, so I really made this piece 1.5 times.  :)

The featured stone is kyanite, which purportedly opens all chakras, enhances psychic abilities, encourages fair treatment of others and helps you to communicate clearly, among other things.  Personally, I don't believe that inanimate objects give you particular traits; however, I do think that jewelry can serve as a reminder to focus on the things you wish to work on, and that can bring about change.  As the theme for the week was talisman, I decided to hand stamp an inspirational quote on the back plate.  I chose a lyric from Van Morrison's song, "Into the Mystic."  I thought it complemented kyanite's symbolic meaning.  For those who are unfamiliar with the song, the lyric goes: 

Hark, now hear the sailors cry
Smell the sea and feel the sky
Let your soul and spirit fly
Into the mystic

When I sat down to write this, I thought it was ironic that this is what I created today.  My self-appointed mantra for 2015 was supposed to be FOCUS.  Rather than keep spinning all the plates, I wanted to focus on one task at a time to wrap up a bunch of unfinished projects I just couldn't finish in 2014.  After having some time to reflect upon this piece, I realized that some of the changes ahead of us will happen no matter how I prepare for them and others don't really need to be achieved in the timeline I originally imagined.  In the long run, I will serve and be better served by focusing on meaningful relationships, not abstract concepts of achievement.  As a result, I will likely do fewer shows this year.

What are you working toward in 2015?