Tuesday, 24 May 2011

New Items, Photos, Stained Glass Stars

An album of my stained glass stars, most for sale at my Etsy shop.  (Click on the image below to see the whole album.)  I'll hopefully be posting more of these albums, although this one took about three hours to put together!

Picasa Album: Stained Glass Stars

In other news...

You may have noticed (I hope you noticed) that I managed to list a new item in my shop. This was no small feat--I always forget how long it takes just to list one item. Between taking the photos and getting enough good ones during the course of one often-four-hour session outdoors, then cleaning up the photos to make them presentable (and perfectly square, since Etsy seems to balk at anything else), then describing it in detail and listing the components, coming up with appropriate and attention-getting tags, trying to determine prices whilst shutting out the voice of guilt at asking for money...it was several hours from the time I started the listing until it was finished. But it's up, and I'm glad, because I'm quite happy with how the set turned out:

An amusing anecdote about these photos: I think I did a relatively good job of cleaning it up, but I was only able to use one of the photos of me wearing the necklace and none of the ones of me wearing the earrings.  If you look very closely at my neck in the fourth photo you might detect several hundred little bits of cut hair...I'd gotten a haircut a few hours earlier, and I guess it didn't occur to me that they might show up in the photo.  So when I took it off the hard drive and opened it, all I saw was hair all over my neck and chest.  (I think I find this funnier than anyone else I've tried to explain it to...maybe you had to be there.)  Perhaps it's fortunate that we were only able to get these photos before we had to pack it in; no sooner had we set up the tripod and the backdrops than it began spitting rain, complete with blue cloudless sky.  Ahh, England. :)

Should the weather and my health decide to cooperate simultaneously, I'm hoping to have some more new photographs soon. I have five new amazing pieces finished that I'm dying to get up in my shop:

  • tourminalated quartz briolette with garnet clusters and 14KGF/vermeil necklace and earrings set
  • long celestite drop and white seed pearl cluster sterling rose post earrings (necklace in progress)
  • carved rock crystal quartz flower briolette (so pretty!) and oxidized sterling silver necklace and earrings set
  • deep blue-green apatite ovals with brushed vermeil and 14KGF double-stranded necklace and earrings set
  • white keishi pearl cluster and 14KGF/vermeil long drop earrings

And there may be more, depending on how productive I am this week--I have a button that I've been dying to work around, a nice big detailed vintage cut steel, which I'm experimenting with using Swarovski CAL2x beads, Bali granulated beads, and textured oxidized sterling chain (waiting for supplies to arrive), as well as a larkivite and mystic black spinel cluster sterling bracelet that is close to finished (again, waiting on supplies). Also a mystic pink topaz and rainbow moonstone briolette festoon-type necklace on large round link chain (guess what? awaiting supplies)...but I'm getting ahead of myself for a change. Must be patient, one thing at a time and all that. I'm quite excited to get these up, though, or at least to get photos. Not to mention the wine glasses I'm painting…

Does anyone want to sign my petition for adding more hours to the day?

Soon, I hope ~

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Etsy Favourites of the Week: Give to Me Your Lace

Hello all!

To my eye there are few things more lovely than lace.  I've always been inspired by it in my own work, which is why I love filigree so much.  There's just something about lace that I find exquisitely romantic without being over-the-top--if it's done right, of course.  For all my love of lace, I'd always wished it were somehow incorporable into jewelry in some way.

Lace Pendant Necklace - Rosalie Style in Black, $30

For those of you who follow my Facebook page, this necklace from Topiary Designs probably looks familiar--it was one of my Etsy Favourites last week.  Often my Facebook favourites posts inspire my blog weekly favourites post, and this necklace was the inspiration for this blog--I simply wanted to feature it.  But there is not a single thing in this shop that doesn't strike my fancy. 

Lace Necklace - Harp Style in Ivory, $26

It was the necklaces that caught my attention initially, but after a thorough browsing, I've decided that my favourites are the earrings. She chooses the most perfect bits of lace, giving you a wide variety of colours from which to choose.  Not only can you choose the lace colour but also the metal--the ear wires are brass by default, but she offers sterling and gold filled as well.  (I can't help thinking that these would make incredible bridal jewelry.  How perfectly they would match a wedding dress!)

Darling Buds Earrings (You Pick the Color), $10

She does quite a bit of lovely work with filigree and stones as well, but it's the lace pieces that make this shop truly unique, and one of my new favourites on Etsy. (Incidentally, you can find her Facebook page here.)

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Frida Textile Bracelet, $236

Ivy Long, a.k.a. EderaJewelry, describes her work as "opulent," and I can't think of a more apt description.  Using old world lacemaking techniques and combining them with more modern touches like gemstones and precious metal, the effect is reminiscent of all the things I love about vintage jewelry and a testament to the value of handmade--truly, they just don't make them like this anymore.

Delos Textile Earrings, $174

Utilizing real precious metal threads (i.e, not metallic fibers or wire, but 14K gold and silver alloy threads) and silk, she crochets each shape individually, then adorns them with everything from vintage rhinestones and gemstone beads, which she stitches into them.  Oh yeah, and it's worth mentioning that in every piece, the back is just as intricately detailed as the front:

Isabeau Dramatic Lace Earrings, $226

It's worth reading the necessarily lengthy descriptions of her pieces just to get an idea of just how much work goes into them.  Her shop is lovely to look at, and her photos capture you immediately, the intensity of colour and ornate detail in her work immediately evident.  But you have to look much more closely to fully appreciate the beauty here--you'll be missing out on something truly amazing if you don't.  You can also find her on Facebook here.

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Paisley Lace Pendant, $44

I came across this listing for this pendant from Inbar Shahak during one of my frequent browsing sessions for filigree, and it caught my attention immediately.  My first impression was that it must be a piece of actual cotton lace, due to the fine detail.  But the colour was so deeply golden that I realized it had to be metal.  Then I assumed it was made with precious metal clay, and that the lace had been stamped into the clay or pressed from a mold; again, the detail of the lace was just so distinct and perfect.  Finally, after visiting her shop and falling in love with several pieces, I got around to reading one of the listings' descriptions.

Lacy Square Bracelet, $78

That's how I discovered that these are not pieces of lace, nor are they made by mold or impression into clay.  They are hand drawn designs, inspired by Victorian lace, Indian batik, and crochet patterns, which are then etched into metal.  By hand
Marquise Metal Crochet Bracelet, $69

Did I mention that this is all by hand?

I can't even comprehend the amount of time and labour that goes into each of these pieces.  If you look closely enough you might be able to imagine it yourself.   As if that weren't enough, she actually has another shop, where she features bridal jewelry, and she has even more listed there.  Even if you aren't in the market for wedding pieces, there is a lot there that is very wearable for other occasions.

When I envision incorporating lace into jewelry, this is the image in my head.  You can find her on Facebook here--she's got new photographs coming next week, and I for one will be watching her page.

Until next time,

Friday, 13 May 2011

ToMAYto, ToMAHto: Stone Identification Help?

So I've had these beads for a few years now, and I liked them so much that I bought about 15 of them.  They're all top drilled marquise shaped with an interesting pattern in them.  Here's a couple of photos of three of them:

When I purchased them I asked the shop owner what they were, and I could have sworn that she said they she thought they were called "sage amethyst".  Having never seen anything like them, I looked up "sage amethyst" to see if I could find out for sure so I could put it in my listing when I made pieces with them.  Except that when I looked up "sage amethyst", I found this:

"Sage Amethyst" from www.beadshopuk.com

And also this:

"Sage Amethyst" from www.dawanda.com, beadsvision's shop


Obviously, neither of these photos look anything like my beads, nor did any of the other images for "sage amethyst" on Google.  Given this, I assumed that the bead shop lady was incorrect, and that there must be another name for my beads.  Only I had no way of figuring out what it was--Google, unfortunately, does not have a reverse image search (alas).  So I put them aside, hoping that one day I would find out what stone they were made from.

Today I was doing my usual Etsy browsing and I came across this listing for this cabochon:

Amethyst Sage Dendrite Agate Shield Cabochon, from www.LiciaBeadsVault.etsy.com

Of course, this looks very much like my beads.  So I did another search, this time for "amethyst sage" instead of "sage amethyst".  Just exchanging the two words made a huge difference in my search results, because from this combination I came up with this:

"Amethyst Sage" from Silverhawk's Gemstones

 and also this:

"Amethyst Sage" from gemalchemy.com

And now I couldn't be more confused.

So...is there a stone called "sage amethyst" and a different stone called "amethyst sage"?  or is "amethyst sage" a different name for "sage amethyst agate"?  Is one a type of amethyst (quartz) and another an agate?  What kind of stone are my beads? and why on earth would they give nearly identical names to two very different stones?

Anyone who knows the answer will receive a lifetime subscription to my blog! :)

Happy Friday 13th, y'all. 


Sunday, 1 May 2011

Etsy Favourites of the Week: Vintage Button Jewelry

Vintage Mother-of-Pearl Filigree Button with Silver Scroll Chain, $35

As odd as it may sound, my love affair with jewelry making began with, of all things, buttons.  At an art show where I was exhibiting, I met a woman who was showing her collection of vintage buttons.  I was immediately taken with them--the amount of detail that went into these tiny little pieces of glass and metal still never fails to amaze me.  There was a time when buttons did a lot more than just keep our blouses closed.  They were often practical adornments (perfume buttons, for example, which were layered with fabrics to absorb perfume).  They acted as heirlooms, as storytellers, and of course as fashionable adornments, much the way we wear jewelry nowadays.

My first jewelry making adventures began with button necklaces; my initial thought upon seeing a vintage button was that it would make a great pendant (the jewelry aspect was almost an afterthought).  I learned some of the basics of jewelry making, beading, wire wrapping and other techniques for the sole purpose of incorporating those little beauties into pieces of jewelry.

I sold many of the button necklaces and bracelets on eBay at a time when only collectors were interested in them.  The types of buttons that were considered collectible were Victorian picture buttons, and glass buttons were routinely overlooked as common and non-collectible.  I remember my first purchase on eBay, a gorgeous lot of ten different black glass buttons with gold trim.  I placed my bid thinking that over the ensuing week I would have to duke it out with some other button lover.  I was stunned to win the auction with a winning bid of $0.99 with no other bidders.  Glass buttons were quite literally a dime a dozen back then.

That was over a decade ago.  Czech glass buttons are now sold for anywhere from $3 to $12, depending on size, complexity and age.  Button jewelry has become common enough that you can often find button jewelry mass marketed, in department stores and fashion boutiques.

Black & Gold Glass Button Bracelet, SOLD

As a result of the "Walmartization" of button jewelry, as with every fashion trend, much of it has become cliche.  Not all of it is handmade these days; many of the buttons are not true vintage buttons but reproductions or outright fakes, often made of plastic or plasticized metal as opposed to the brass, glass and cut steels that enchanted me all those years ago.  Luckily there are still those who seem to find the vintage button as fascinating as I do, and button jewelry is still being made by people who appreciate the sense of history and beauty contained within these little treasures.

Art Nouveau Flame, Antique Edwardian Floral Buttons on Sterling, $28

One of my favourite shops on Etsy is Allie's Adornments, whose style of button jewelry is similar to mine.  She keeps her pieces simple and stylish, and the buttons she chooses are some of the most beautiful of the Victorian era.

Victorian Enamel Flower Button Sterling Locket Necklace on Silver Chain, $44

Visiting her shop will give you a fantastic tour of the best in Victorian buttons.  Every one of them possesses the exquisite detail of the buttons from this era.  She mounts them on silver bases or lockets, and sometimes adds beads or other components.  More often than not she allows the buttons to stand on their own, allowing the detail in the buttons to shine through.

Victorian Antique Blue & Gold Floral Button Silver Bracelet, $42

These buttons are so fantastic, many of them tinted brass (which allows for the blue and golden colours in the bracelet above) with three-dimensional detail.  I've seen many button pieces which feature similar fabulous buttons but weighed down with what I like to refer to as Too Much Stuff.  It's always upsetting to me to see the most exquisite beads or buttons grouped together in clusters, such as charm bracelets, to the point that the detail and the beauty simply get lost in the too-muchness of the piece.  That is one of the things that attracts me to this jewelry, and all jewelry--the most spectacular elements of the piece, in this case the buttons, get the spotlight they so richly deserve.

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Sweet Nostalgia Necklace: Vintage Button on Oxidized Sterling Silver with Pink Amethyst, Spinel & Ruby, $51

One of the positive aspects of the popularisation of button jewelry is when people find new and inventive ways to feature them.  One of my Facebook favourites this week was this necklace (above) from twochickstoo.  In addition to the clever utilization of the holes in the button (something I always avoided in buttons, always preferring to use buttons with back shanks), this lovely necklace embodies one of my favourite aspects of vintage jewelry.  I always love to see the combination of some of the more contemporary trends like gemstones (in this case, pink amethyst, spinel and ruby, which are some of the favourites of jewelry artists right now) and sterling silver bezels with vintage buttons.  Once again, the combination here of two or three elements--the white button, the small cluster of stones, the sterling bezel--create a kind of complexity in simplicity; again, less is more.

Lillian Earrings - Sterling Silver & Vintage Button with Blue Topaz, SOLD

Most of the items for sale currently in this shop are pieces with contemporary gemstones set in sterling (the shop is  worth a visit for them alone).  If you get a moment, peruse the items in the "sold" section, where she has a few more button items.  I hope to see a lot more buttons from her because I really like what she does with them.

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Antique Cut Steel Button Earrings with Cobalt Beads, $29

Wired Vintage is another shop that does lovely things with vintage buttons.  She too often mounts them on silver filigrees and brass components to create pendants and earrings, again allowing the buttons to make their own statements, using the detail in the components to compliment them rather than overwhelm or detract from them.

Everything's Coming Up Roses Antique Cut Steel Button Bracelet, $29

I especially like the way she uses them in bracelets--different than the multi-button bracelet style, featuring a single button as a centrepiece, including one of the most beautiful etched black glass buttons I've ever seen:

Antique Silver Etched Black Glass Button Bracelet with Teal Swarovski, $34

One of the things I learned when selling my button jewelry on eBay was that collectors prefer the buttons intact (i.e., the shanks still on them rather than cut or shaved off).  I never had much luck being able to mount the buttons without removing the shanks, but she makes a point of leaving the shank on so as to preserve the collectible value of the buttons.  I'd actually be interested in finding out how she works around them when mounting them in settings and bezels, because that is a point that is quite important to button collectors, and I'd like to find out how to do it in my own pieces.

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Lily Drop Vintage Glass Button Locket, $24

Envisage probably illustrates the less-is-more aesthetic better than any other.  She uses very few components in her pieces, but she matches them so well that the pieces take on a complexity borne of perfection in detail.

Sunflower Day Locket, $30

Her photos don't do the pieces justice, unfortunately, a problem I've certainly grappled with and am still trying to perfect.  I just love the way she matches the one or two elements within the piece.  She manages to feature the buttons prominently without detracting from the detail, even as she embellishes them with beads and brass components.  Most of them are mounted on lockets, lending them an extra sense of history.

I've moved away from the vintage recently, opting instead to try my hand at some of the more contemporary designs with gemstones and modern precious metal components.  But my first love will always be vintage style, especially buttons.  I've made a few moulds of some of my favourite buttons in my collection (I prefer the glass and smaller metals to the picture buttons), and when I crack open that package of PMC, I suspect that those moulds will see some use rather quickly.

I still have the very first button I ever purchased, from that woman at the art show.  It sits among my collection, a black glass button with a floral detail in silver paint.  As much as I love it, and as beautiful as it would be in a necklace, I can't see ever selling it; it holds a special place in my heart, and in my collection.  Proving, I suppose, that some collectibles truly are priceless.

Until next time,