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Category Archives: Musings

Chakra Resolution

About a million years ago, when I was working out the gemstone combinations for my Focus line, I drew this Chakra necklace idea:

Chakra Necklace

Today I turned it into this!

Chakra Necklace

Top to bottom… Amethyst, Iolite, Aquamarine, Seraphinite, Amber, Carnelian, Garnet, and Onyx

Chakra Necklace

Fun so far!

On Creativity & Collaboration

I was lucky enough to be in attendance at the first day of the first annual Growing a Creative Economy conference, hosted by the Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design, earlier this week. The first day had several excellent speakers, and I came away with an actionable list of things I can do to help my customers really see my jewellery, and be able to visualize any one of them working within their existing wardrobe. I was given a completely free consultation on my displays (we actually dragged her right to the store!) and I’m already working on adjusting them. I got info on trends and innovation and collaboration and using the media and I’m tingling with ideas! It pushed me into the website update I just completed, and a new way to use existing materials appeared fully realized in my head right in the middle of a talk!

In addition to the actual content of the talks, I also found myself surrounded by creative types… every one of them tingling too… and it was like the vibration in the room churned up my imagination so that I’m brimming with ideas.

I wasn’t able to attend the final two days (oh day job, you pay the bills but why are you so mean?) and I regret it fully – friends have called it life-changing. But just that one day has sparked me enormously and made me feel lucky to live in this inspiring art community. I’m grateful to CBCCD and the folks who came to the conference; and you can bet that I’ll be doing the WHOLE conference next year!

Finally, I am hoping to pull together a group of creative folks to meet, say, once a month, to bounce ideas off each other in a pub. Interested?

Holiday Spirit… Got Yours?

Guess what? There’s a craft market this weekend! It’s always worth a look so I thought I’d give you the heads up. This year I got ALL of my shopping done at Cape Breton Centre for Craft & Design on Charlotte St. … no, really! It was so easy, and affordable too, and I know all of my presents are one of a kind.

Now you can see the best handmade gifts around, maybe do some shopping, and meet the artisans too! Including, y’know, me! :)

322 Charlotte St., Sydney, 3rd floor (Elevator available!)
Saturday 10am-6pm
Sunday 12noon-5pm

Admission: Possibly free? No more than $2 I think. I can’t find it for some reason.

My favourite thing to do is buy an ornament from each vendor. Usually less than $10, I can make my tree the prettiest and unique-est every year!

Here are some of the images I could find of my fellow artisans’ work:
cbccd

Irene MacKinnon, Peter Bauer, Katherine Scott, Needleit, Shari MacLeod, and Yours Truly!

Full list of participating artisans:

  • Katherine Scott (paper)
  • Irene McKinnon (polymer clay jewellery)
  • Barbara Kelly-Landry (textile)
  • Sandra Kay and Peter Bauer (metal jewellery)
  • Bob Evans (wood)
  • Gayle Bird (wire jewellery)
  • Shari Macleod (basket weaving and needle felting)
  • Linda Wright (clay)
  • Virginia Donovan (wood, visual art)
  • Gillian Lake Thompson (textile)
  • Lynn Pascoe and Lester Wood (textile)
  • Joan MacKenzie- Needle It (textile)
  • Virginia McCoy (visual art)
  • Barbara Longva (clothing, hats)
  • Whitney MacEachern (visual art)
  • Lynda Lou & Caitlyn Purcell (metal jewellery)

HOLIDAY SPIRIT FUNDRAISER
There is a special event on Friday night preceding the craft market. I will be the fanciest Mrs. Fancy Pants for the evening, and there are plenty of great things happening throughout the night. If you care to attend and help support the arts in your community, here is more info:

Cape Breton Centre for Craft & Design will host our grand finale fundraiser Holiday Spirit on Friday November 30th to round off our ambitious 40 Years of Hands-on Creativity campaign. A campaign that set out to raise $40,000, host 40 events and gain 40 new members, all in 40 weeks. Holiday Spirit will be our 40th event and we are looking for your support to end our campaign with a bang and to help us meet our goals!

The Centre will host a special fundraising event on Friday, November 30 from 5-9pm. Holiday Spirit is the Centre’s signature fundraiser which helps us provide wonderful programs and services in our Cape Breton community, such as kids’ workshops, exciting exhibitions and many other special arts events. Holiday Spirit is a “private shopping” evening, where guests get the first opportunity to buy those one-of-a-kind pieces of fine craft and artwork while experiencing fine food, “Craftinis” and great entertainment.

Tickets for Holiday Spirit are $40 and can be purchased by contacting Jessica by phone (902) 539-7491 ext. 117 or by email jessica@capebretoncraft.com.

Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/events/276506062469593/

Holiday Spirit fundraiser: November 30th 5-9pm, $40

Here is some of the work I’ve been putting together to prep for the show:
Check out THESE enormous babies!

BUTTONS.

Only some of the gorgeous lampworked earrings to be available at the Holiday Spirit this weekend!

Hope to see you there!

Double Focus

I had a moment of clarity yesterday that has helped me narrow down and organize the types of  jewellery I’m making. I was able to group my work into collections and break the collections down into types, which allowed me to see where I’m wasting energy and where I’m missing out. The exercise helped me focus.

And, interestingly enough, one of the collections where I was able to easily see an addition was my Focus line. Tonight I put my expansion plan into action with the creation of a new, fun little line of earrings!

A fun new line of little "Focus" earrings! Left to right: Courage (Tiger Eye), Relaxation (Aquamarine), Creativity (Labradorite), Tiger eye again, Passion (Garnet), Clarity (Amethyst), Protection (Carnelian) and, not shown, Gentle Love (Rose Quartz).

Left to right: Courage (Tiger Eye), Relaxation (Aquamarine), Creativity (Labradorite), Tiger eye again, Passion (Garnet), Clarity (Amethyst), Protection (Carnelian) and, not shown, Gentle Love (Rose Quartz).

I LOVE how adorable these little things are, I’m delighted to be able to get back to my gemstone roots, and I am feeling happy about how they round out my Focus Collection.

Twelve Days…

I’m getting married! In twelve days!

Here’s what I’m working on to wear that day :)

120723Wedding (1)

120723Wedding (2)

It’s not exactly finished yet, I don’t think… but maybe it is? I’m not sure! I feel like it needs more metal.

That large centrepiece is a pair of bracelets pulled onto the hand-made neckwire using flat aluminum wire, the middle flower is a pre-made thingum I found at Michael’s, and the other flowers I built from hand-painted vintage flowers I get from another artist.

Oh, and yes, my dress is teal and my shoes are red :)

I think I know where my love of colour comes from…

My blanky!

My mom was cleaning out their basement – which used to be my grandparents’ basement – and found a trunk (possibly more than one?) of things from when we were babies. There are a few entirely adorable bits of clothing that almost (but not quite) make me want to have kids just so I can have someone to give them to.

But meanwhile, at the bottom of this fun little pile was this incredibly colourful and delightful crib blanket that my paternal grandmother had made for me. I am so very enchanted with this blanket. I can’t quite take my eyes off it!

Blanky!

Meanwhile – do the colours look familiar?! Check out my website & logo… or my custom purses:
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(Both from splatgirl)

Or my choice in jewellery components:
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(From sleepingdogstudio)

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(From amy houston)

Now check out that blanky again:

120424Blanky3

I KNOW, RIGHT?!

I just thought that was so nifty.

I’m looking for a suitable place for it in my home but I’m not sure yet!

Also, it gave me the emotional comfort I needed to allow me to toss out this chair that’s been getting really, really gross in my basement. My grandparents covered this chair and somewhere there’s an adorable photo of me reading in it, when I was teeny tiny. I really wanted to keep it and fix it up.

But now it’s just sad and smelly.

Poor sad chair!

Before I lose the chair forever I just HAD to get a photo of the vintage fabric covering it. How delicious is that?!

Chair fabric!

Chair Fabric

Home to Roost

More birds A bunch of super-talented local artisans and I are working on a gallery exhibition that opens in about a month. It’s all about birds and there are a LOT of great ideas flying around our intermittent meetings. Working with such creative minds is exhilarating… staring down a deadline, a little less so ;) Here’s a tiny little update on what I’ve been working on. Eyeballs by Sarah Beck! Home to Roost Home to Roost More birds Home to Roost More birds

Busy as a Bee

My Arts North end-of-season inventory is back, and I’m pleased to discover that I now have twice as many rings as I thought I had, and nearly twice as many earrings. Phew! This is good, because I woke up this morning realizing this is my last full weekend of production, and before I’d gotten out of bed I had organized my whole day. Except now it’s 11am and all I’ve done so far is poach some eggs! It’s OK though because I got some much-needed sleep.

Today I need to figure out the final say on my ornament design… I ran out of beads from the very successful ornament from last year, so I had to order new ones but they’re too small for the old design. I posted a new design on my Facebook page, but private and public opinion was that it wasn’t right. So it’s back to the drawing board! I might make a smaller version of last year’s design; I haven’t decided yet.

I DID decide that I will be making a small batch of Christmas earrings, and they will be my Show Special at only $15! I’m pretty excited about that… I was playing with the new beads to come up with the new ornament and have a bunch of too-small-for-the-tree pieces that will be perfect for earrings.

It was fun this week to be someone’s mentor… a friend I showed some jewellery techniques to about a decade ago is finally worked up to her first show, and she had questions for me… and I had the answers! I felt like a rockstar for a second there.

After ornaments, my priority this weekend is to make coal pendants and beach glass pendants.

OK. I have got to get to the studio. Have a great one folks!

Where to Buy, Xmas Season 2011

Some folks have been asking where to buy my jewellery this year. Here’s the list!

Flower / Steampunk

Centre 200 Christmas Craft Fair

Friday, November 11: 2pm – 9pm
Saturday, November 12: 10am – 8pm
Sunday, November 13: Noon – 5pm

Holiday Spirit at Cape Breton Centre for Craft & Design

Tentative schedule:

Private Shopping Party, Thursday, December 1: 5pm – 9pm
Friday, December 2: 5pm – 8pm
Saturday, December 3: 10am – 6pm
Sunday, December 4: Noon – 5pm

If you happen to know my avon lady or my future mother-in-law, they’ll be holding private jewellery parties at their homes next month as well.

And of course, my work is available year-round at the Cape Breton Centre for Craft & Design:

CBCCD is open year-round, Mon-Sat.
PO Box 1686,
322 Charlotte Street
Sydney, Nova Scotia B1P 6T7
Tel:  902.539.7491
Fax: 902.539.4807
www.capebretoncraft.com

My Etsy shop is currently empty; once I see what my returning inventory is like after Arts North closes this weekend, I might be able to put up a few items. I’ll keep you in the loop!

Nova Scotia Gem & Mineral Show

DSCF2385

For the first time in 3 years, I got my little behind to the NS Gem & Mineral Show. I went completely bonkers and oh boy am I glad I did! Check out the colour on that aquamarine! The deep blue apatite! the brilliant yellow citrine, the peridot… oh man I’m excited.

I have been planning my Focus series for like a billion years now, and now I have the full complement of what I need. Here are some closeups!

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The most amazing blue AAA kyanite, citrine, and amethyst/citrine points.

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AMETHYST!

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Carnelian. Loving these facets.

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Top row is some rainbow moonstone, nearly invisibly. The rectangles are the kyanite I had before – rough, inconsistent colour, full of matrix. The triple-a stuff is just so much better. The bottom three rows are iolite, iolite, and more kyanite.

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One of the big regrets I had about the last show was not going back for more agate slices. This time, I bought nearly everything they had!

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Including these brilliant tumbled fragments.

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I am completely in love.

Crazy New Vintage Steampunk Flower Birchbark Clocky Things

Steampunk

Hoo boy, I love this batch. I had several new sets of components I had wanted to try – enameled flowers I got from an artist on etsy, lacquered birchbark I’d harvested from a friend’s woodpile, skeleton keys my dad salvaged from his basement, and stamped bronze and copper filigree that I’d coloured and varnished myself. I meant to do four different styles, but somehow they all got mashed up into my steampunk line and turned into something crazy and awesome.

Steampunk

Steampunk

Steampunk

Steampunk

Steampunk

Steampunk

Steampunk

Steampunk

Steampunk

Steampunk

Steampunk

Steampunk

Steampunk

Steampunk

Sneaky Preview

The new materials I’ve got on the bench are blowing my mind. Unfortunately, my vacation totally interrupted my creativity time and I can’t show you anything finished yet!

I can, however, totally tease you :)

Preview

Preview

And ok, you can see some of the half-finished bits in the background. Maybe I jumbled them together on purpose so you can’t make them out. Y’know. Maybe.

Preview

Upcoming Uncommon Beach Glass

Upcoming Uncommon & Rare Beach Glass

These are soooo pretty! My parents brought me most of these (the yellow one was from last week!) and the gray in the bottom left corner was presented to me by a dear friend. I should have put these in the light box so you can get an idea of the real colours…

…but this is what’s on the bench to be wired up this week!

Working With What Ya Got!

Earrings

The other day I finally completed the pile of waiting earrings on the workbench. For some reason they were completely blocking me! I normally work in batches of 100 at a time but these 2 dozen just wouldn’t finish themselves.

But I got ’em all done and reached out for the earwires – to discover only a couple of stray ones at the bottom of a drawer.

Disaster!

I immediately ordered some online, but that takes weeks. I thought about leaving them until the hooks got here and simply working on a different part of the bench, but just couldn’t bear to leave these half-finished earrings on the bench for one more day, staring at me. So, I dug through drawers and boxes and baggies and managed to scrounge up just enough fishhook earwires to match up with what I needed. A sigh of relief – until I realized these were way too long for the tiny little earrings I’d made and they threw off the balance of the design.

Now what? Desperate to just make this pile go away, I grabbed my fattest bailmaking pliers and did a test to see if by making the hook fatter, they’d end up shorter… and it worked! Better yet, I like them way better than the basic fishhook earwires! I think they’re much more elegant and make them stand out.

Earrings

It’s more work, but I’m so going to do this to all of my earwires from now on. It just goes to show that a pain in the arse can be turned into something kind of special.

Vintage-y Goodness! Skeleton Keys & Buttons :)

Vintage Button / Skeleton Key Necklaces

An unexpected burst of energy after supper resulted in 3 new pieces for today!

The buttons have been laid out in these colour combinations on the workbench for at least a couple of weeks but I just couldn’t make it work in my head. I added the inverted washers, which was better, but it still wasn’t right…. until I opened a drawer and saw the vintage skeleton keys a locksmith friend had dug out of some tubs of random bits on his garage this past summer and realized they’d be *perfect* bases for what I had in mind.

The keys are fairly hidden behind the buttons but you can mostly see the ends poking out, plus it’s really great just to know they’re in there!

Here they are all together so you can see the necklace part:

Vintage Button / Skeleton Key Necklaces

The orange-ish one has a massive inverted washer in the middle underneath that fabulous terracotta-coloured button. It was exciting to find that they fit together so well! This one also features 3 connected vintage leather flowers that were in a box of my grandmother’s broken jewellery bits.

Vintage Button / Skeleton Key Necklaces

Vintage Button / Skeleton Key Necklaces

I had actually tried with the blue combination last week but felt it was flimsy and didn’t care for it. My success with the keys had me adding a few reinforcement wraps here and there which tightened it up considerably and helped me feel like it was more complete!

Vintage Button / Skeleton Key Necklaces

Vintage Button / Skeleton Key Necklaces

Vintage Button / Skeleton Key Necklaces

I just really loved this purple button. And those inverted washers give me joy!

Christmas Week!

I just love Christmas. People who see me in November probably think I’m a grinch but I just hate EARLY Christmas. It shouldn’t be months-long. But I love it when it’s here! In my family, my brother’s birthday is a week before The Big Day. We usually try to keep them separate – so I don’t get into the mood until about 6 days before. Which is NOW! I had a GREAT weekend – we got a tree, we got some Christmas Meat, had a great time out with Laird, and the neighbours’ house (which I can see from my kitchen window) looks like this:

neighbours

Yesterday I made my customary Christmas chocolates – only this year they weren’t customary at all; I actually managed to temper chocolate this year and so I’m way beyond my basic bark. Plus, I made a huge batch of ganache and used it to create a pile of centers which I then dipped in various ways.

For those who don’t know, this is ganache:

Chocolates 2010

It’s belgian chocolate melted into heavy cream. This is what’s inside truffles. It’s like the inside of a Lindt chocolate… only better. I kind of made way too much so had to come up with ways to use it. For instance:

Chocolates 2010

This is a layer of ganache with a layer of skor and peanut butter bits, coated on one side with tempered dark chocolate and on the other with melted milk wafers.

Chocolates 2010

This one is a layer of ganache, with a layer of melted mint chocolate chips, topped with green chocolate wafers and milk wafers on the other side.

Chocolates 2010

Here we’ve got ganache bottomed with melted peanut butter chips and coated in cocoa powder to keep the ganache from being sticky.

Chocolates 2010

And these? These are the ugliest, most insanely delicious caramels you will ever see, taste, or even hear about. It’s a layer of ganache, a layer of caramel lightly salted with kosher salt, topped and bottomed with milk chocolate wafers. When I cut them they exploded so I had to dip the bottom 3/4 of them in more chocolate to hold it all together… so essentially they’re double-dipped. Holy crap. They’re so good.

Chocolates 2010

Chocolates 2010

On the right above is a layer of ganache embedded with pretzels and skor bits, double-sided with white chocolate. Top left are more caramels.

Chocolates 2010

Chocolates 2010

CARNAGE.

Chocolates 2010

This is the box of edges.. the “ugly” chocolates. I’ll be taking these to work :)

Chocolates 2010

Nom.

T-Minus Not Enough Days Left…

Cape Breton Beach Glass Pendants

It’s been crazy-go-nuts around here for a while now, with the Christmas Loft craft show looming very closely ahead and all.  Hope to see you there if you’re local!

Also, the Etsy shop will be closing down for a few days during the show (Nov 25-28 at least) so I can bring as much inventory as possible with me…. so if you’ve got your eye on something, I suggest you snap it up, because it might sell at the craft fair! The good news is, lots of new things will be up in the shop shortly afterward, and every week all winter as well!