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?

"Think Small"

The Etsy Homefront Team is doing a blog hop about everyone's favorite fall activities.

Let's be honest.  Summer is clearly the best season of the year for those of us who love the beach but live in places with four actual seasons.  With the forecast calling for an unusually cold winter (WTH was LAST winter, then?!?), I am not really all that thrilled that summer is slipping away.

Did you know, most product based businesses bring in the bulk of their income during the months leading up to the holiday season?  In fact, almost all the handmade businesses I know bring in over 50% of their revenue for the year during the fall.  Back to school, holidays, activities, sports, you name it.  Fall is when we're all super busy trying to squeeze it all in!  While shopping at the big box stores may be convenient, there are well-documented reasons to "think small" and support small businesses whenever feasible.  

But most importantly, small business owners are willing to develop a relationship with YOU.  You are not just a faceless number!  

So,THIS FALL, THINK SMALL, and encourage your friends to do the same!!!


September 11, 2014

TBT: The Pre-9/11 Edition (Or why I pay it forward)

 It seems a bit odd that there are people old enough to vote who probably don't remember a whole lot about 9/11, much less what life was like prior to 9/11.  But the short of it (at least, for me) was that just prior to 9/11, I was a single mom on active duty, repaying Uncle Sam for the benefit of four years of hazing leadership training and a college education.  Before reporting to my first ship, I had been told by a man in a position of authority that it was impossible to strike a balance between serving my country and raising my son... along with a whole bunch of other extremely sexist and racist mean and rude things... things that get people fired these days. 

Fortunately, that was not the sentiment of the senior folks on my first ship.  Maybe I lucked out and mentors found me.  Or maybe the universe sent the people I needed.  Or maybe they just decided that something HAD to be done about that totally screwed up Ensign.  Whatever the reason, people with more experience were willing to work with me.  (Don't get me wrong- it was more "tough love," than "touchy-feely.")  So I worked hard. Sometimes I ran around like a chicken with my head cut off, but I ran.  And it turned out to be a pretty great tour.  

So what am I saying here?  Well, first off, there are all kinds of people in this world- the ones who are trying to tear others down, and the ones trying to build others up.  But even if you seem to run into a disproportionate number of the former, and it feels like all your effort is going into merely being, you can still triumph.  Through the Navy and also through making jewelry, I've made friends with people who overcame struggles I can't even begin to imagine.  Homeless and selling jewelry on the street to buy food.  Trapping squirrels for dinner when their dad's disability check ran out.  Running away with mom because dad was in a gang.  There are some truly amazing people in this world.  But none of these changes occur overnight.  Some challenges are so big that it can take years to overcome, and many times, the process is criticized and discouraged- particularly by those who, for whatever reason, chose not to improve their station in life.

There have been many times in my life when another person had the ability to make my life immensely easier or more difficult with a simple action or decision.  I have always been grateful for those that took the extra time to help someone (me) who would likely never be able to repay their kindness.  And so, I try my best to keep an eye out for those around me who might need a little helping hand... to honor those people who took the time to see me and were willing to show some kindness and compassion.  I can only hope that the best way to repay them is to pay it forward.  :)