Friday, August 31, 2007

Caring for Silver Jewelry

I learn something new every day. Just the other day I discovered that you're not actually supposed to wear silver jewelry in the pool! Really? Well, I don't have that many opportunities to go swimming in pools or hot tubs. But even if I had those opportunities, I would've probably worn my silver jewelry. Apparently that's a no no. The chemicals can react with the metal and turn it an icky ugly dark black that is difficult, if not impossible, to remove.

While I didn't know that...I do know a few other things about silver jewelry. So I thought I'd share.

Did you know that there's a big difference between Sterling Silver and Fine Silver? Well, if you consider 7.5% a big difference. Sterling is 92.5% silver and 7.5% 'other' metal. That metal can be just about anything from nickel to copper to other base metals. It is these metals that tarnish and depending on which base metals are used the tarnishing rate will vary.

Fine silver, however, is pure silver...well, 99.9% pure. Therefore it is softer and isn't used as often by many jewelers. I LOVE fine silver and use it almost exclusively to create my pieces. I can "fuse" it instead of soldering (which I don't enjoy nearly as much) and I can play with PMC (Precious Metal Clay) which becomes fine silver after firing. Fine silver can discolor - becoming a sort of yellow-ish hew - if not cared for properly.

So how do you care for your silver jewelry?

Keep all silver jewelry in a jewelry box or even a zip lock bag. Making sure your jewelry doesn't come in contact with air will help reduce tarnishing.

Do not wear your silver jewelry in the pool, hot tub, or shower. I didn't know. But now I do!

Remove silver jewelry when sleeping. If you're a "mover" when you sleep, your movements can damage your jewelry.

A great way to clean your jewelry? I snuck this tidbit from my jewelry friend Misty from Silver Mist Studios.

A great way to clean your jewelry is to get an aluminum pan, like the disposable ones. Add really hot water, not boiling, but very hot. Add 2 teaspoons of baking soda and 1 tsp. of salt. Stir a bit. Add jewelry and let soak for 10min. Rinse and dry thoroughly. Viola’ just like new. This will remove tarnish, and also is safe for all jewelry components including swarovski’s and pearls.Proper sterling silver jewelry care ensures you will enjoy your jewelry for years to come.

I haven't tried it, and I honestly don't know about using it with pearls (especially dyed pearls) but for silver jewelry it seems like a great, easy, and efficient way to do it yourself! Thanks, Misty!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Sweet Tooth!

I am having one of those days where I am craving sweets. Good sweets. Fudge. Brownies. Cookies. Cupcakes. Oh my!

So I'm torturing myself by browsing around Etsy and finding all these delectable goodies. If only they could transport them directly to me right this second!

Cupcakes in a Jar! What a great idea by Fat Daddy Bake Shop. Gimme one now!!!
And I loooooovvvvveeeeee Fudge! Why make it myself when The Country Baker has done all the work for me?

And I'm fighting myself to not order this amazing looking chocolate fudge pie!

There's always these yummy looking vegan Chocolate Peanutbutter Fudge Balls from Vegan Honey. I'm not a vegan...can you cook stuff like this without milk or eggs? I have no idea and I think I'm willing to try these out to "test" them. :)

*sigh* Did I mention that I was trying to drop some poundage? These photos aren't helping me!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

My Husband Kicks So Much Butt!

Sometimes my husband's "cop" attitude drives me nuts, but other times it comes in really really handy. I'm sitting on the couch and I have a perfect view of my neighbor's front yard. Tomorrow is recycling and garbage day and she took our her stuff about an hour ago (yes, I've sadly been sitting here that long!). A young kid walked by, leaned over and picked a bottle out of the recycle bin, and THREW it into her yard!


Seriously...what the hell! Okay...yes, he's an immature kid. But it totally ticked me off. This poor little old lady lives by herself and is already paranoid about people doing things to her house. So I yell for hubby and he runs out (barefoot) and screams "HEY!" "YO!" and man can he yell in a scary, piss your pants, sort of way. I'm trying not to laugh as he gets the kids attention and makes him pick up the bottle and put it back in the bin.

I am laughing hysterically!!! Way to go Hubby!!! :)

Edited to Add: Did I mention that he was with his parental figure?!?!? What kind of pathetic parent lets her son do this?!?! Bad parent!

It's Going to be One of Those Days

I know it's going to be a long day when I realize I have no cold soda for my caffeine intake. Well, it actually started with me waking up 30 minutes early and not being able to sleep. Stupid bladder. So I got up early and ended up at work 30 minutes ahead of schedule. Which isn't that great since it's a slow time right now. Maybe I'll luck out and get to duck out a few minutes early today.

But I had no caffeine!!! I'm two hours late in getting my drug of choice this morning. ARG! And I have a really chatty co-worker who won't stop talking!!! Then someone came by in a panic looking for my boss who wasn't in yet. As if he's supposed to know that they sent a meeting request last night for an 8 a.m. meeting. Oy Vey.

I hope it gets better as the day goes on because so far it's been a little too off schedule. And I need a regular schedule to stay sane! :)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

More than a Sale

When someone buys my work, I'm not sure they realize how much it means to me. It's more than just a monetary transaction. It's about more than 'selling' my work. It may sound cliche but it truly is like selling a piece of myself.

I take such great pride in each and every piece I create and offer for sale to others. When someone decides that they need to have a piece, created by my hands, my heart swells with astonishment and thanks.

Each and every sale is a unique and special interaction for me and I hope for the person receiving my work.

Monday, August 27, 2007

My Grandpa's Legacy - Part II

My grandfather is so incredibly talented. I never realized exactly how talented until recently when I started to appreciate his previous work with gemstones. I took several dozen photos when I was last visiting and will share them in stages.

Part I can be viewed Here

One of the most beautiful stones when found in good quality - and this is GOOD quality stone!

Rutilated Quartz
Cut cabachon amidst some uncut rough. I'd never even seen uncut rutilated quartz before.
Another gorgeous pink stone that I love when it has black matrix because it adds a lot more interesting character. :)

Stay tuned for more lovelies made by my grandparents.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

I'm Back!

Well, for some reason blogger won't let me access my old blog so I went ahead and started a brand new one! And why not? Might as well start fresh.

Luckily my old blog can be viewed HERE. There are some interesting tidbits there I suppose. :)

I'll be posting lots of information that I've compiled over the last few months on my other blog and thankfully Blogger lets me back date things. So have patience while I get my new blog cleaned up with links and old posts.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Happy Anniversary To Me!

For the first time in our five years of marriage I have remembered today! It is our five year anniversary today. It seems like no time has passed but that all the time has passed. It hasn't been blissful the whole time, even from day one. But I knew that going in. We are both very stubborn and strong willed. He is a cop after all and used to having people obey his commands - which I don't...ever. LOL

But I am as much in love with him today as I was five years ago. In fact I think I was in love with him from our first date eight years ago. We met at an apartment complex. We both lived there and I was working in the office to get some money off my rent. He was attending the police Academy and having his mail forwarded to the office during the week. So one weekend he came in and asked for his mail...from me. I was dating a total loser at the time and this tall, strong, handsome man walks in and I am all atwitter.

A couple of months go by and one of the other girls in the office calls me at home one day and says, "do you remember that guy having his mail held at the office...he wants your phone number." Boy...he moves fast doesn't he? ROFL I've since learned that it takes him a LONG time to make any important decision. And of course I told her to give it to him. He called. We set a date. And we went to dinner.

The rest, as they say, is history! Several weeks later I invited him to come with me to Thanksgiving dinner with my family. His entire family was on the East Coast and he was by himself. Taking him to meet his family was a risk, I admit. My family is a bit nuts...the nut doesn't fall far from the tree as they say. But he took it all in stride and seriously impressed my family. He was the first real "adult" I'd ever brought home. I choices in guys previously hadn't been the best.

It took him awhile to admit that he loved me, but I knew it all along. We were meant to be and he'd see that eventually. He graduated from the academy and was transferred north to a city 1 1/2 away from me. I was not happy about that. Thankfully we were both so in love that we made it work. I convinced him to get a transfer after his year long probationary period and my family helped him move down to my city.

Two days before Christmas, 2001, he stuck out both his hands and said "Pick a hand" ... I don't remember if I picked the right hand or not...either way, I got a ring! I showed my mom while we were driving somewhere and she almost crashed the car. HAHAHAHAHA! [I miss that was stolen!] And less than one year later we were joined together in holy matrimony for all time. No divorce for me ever...he couldn't get rid of me if he tried (as I remind him all the time!).

And even though we fight like cats and dogs sometimes, lots of times actually, we truly love and respect each other. We understand each other. He puts up with a lot of things from me - as you may be aware - I have some issues. And I put up with a lot from him because he's not as perfect as he wants me to believe.

Here's to the last five years and to 55 more! =D

Playdough for Adults

What was more fun growing up than playing with Playdough?!?! Until it dried out of course. But when you got a brand new fresh cup of the good stuff - the possibilities were endless.

The same is true of Precious Metal Clay (also Art Clay - different brand name with slightly different characteristics). PMC is more fun than a barrel of monkies. . . or some other appropriate phrase. I started playing with PMC nearly two years ago. I was too scared to just try it out by myself so I took a class from Rio Grande when I was in Tucson for the annual bead, gem, and rock show. It was a fabulous class and I enjoyed myself to no end. We made very simple items - a "mask" pin and a pendant. I managed to finish two full pieces. I didn't come to it naturally though - it was hard work for me and there are things that I've learned since that would really have helped me out.

First of NOT be scared of PMC! Yes, it's fairly expensive, but it is actually pretty tough stuff and a little goes a long way. Second, there are three different kinds of PMC - 1) PMC, 2) PMC+, and 3) PMC3. I use PMC+ almost exclusively unless I need something with more strength, in which case I move to PMC3. The difference between the types are too complicated for me to go into here. Feel free to read up on it though. PMC Supply is a great website with lots of information and facts.

They (they who? The experts I guess) say that you should use a new pack of PMC within a month or less of getting it and within days of opening it. Bah! Fooey on the experts. I've managed to keep a pack fresh for more than six months...and that was after being opened.

Keep your clay fresh by sealing it carefully in an air tight (and I do mean AIR TIGHT) container with a wet paper towel. It works wonders. You can also keep syringe PMC fresh - the tip has to be kept wet. That's what zip lock baggies are for! They probably won't show this use on the commercials, but I add some water in one corner of the ziplock baggy and put the syringe tip down into that corner. Then seal up the baggy and put it with the PMC clay in the airtight container. The water shouldn't leak out if you close the baggy properly - all the air should be squeezed out too so that the water stays put.

Have a pack that was once fresh and juicy, but now is kind of lumpy and flaky? In the plastic, add a drop or two of water (I dip my finger in a bowl of water and let the drips come from my finger) and then massage the clay in the plastic. Put it back in the original container and let the water soak in for a few hours up to a day.

What's Slip???

Slip is a wonderful form of PMC - it's a liquid that can be painted onto your work or on cork clay. I have never purchased slip...haven't had to. I messed up enough in the beginning to start my own nice supply of slip. Make your own using dry shavings and any dried pieces that are beyond redemption. For larger dry pieces, make sure to crunch them up into the smallest size possible and add a bit more water into your container. Stir together...I actually like having lumpy slip - it is a great way to add texture to my work.

Got a Spare Deck?

Believe it or not, when rolling out clay, the standard for getting accurate thickness is putting together regular ol' playing cards. A lot of project instructions will reference "4 cards thick" or "5 cards thick" ... that literally is how many playing cards you're using for depth. If you want to add some texture, there are these great texture plates that are unique and offer lots of creative uses for your design.

The sources of PMC knowledge out on the world wide web are limitless. These are some that I find the most interesting...

PMC Guild - Getting Started

Cagey Crafters - Metal Clay

Holly Gage - Amazing Work, Great Tips

For me, taking a class was the only way I could get my nerve up to use such an amazing and versatile material. But I think if you're braver than me you should have no problem learning to play with PMC on your own.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Photographs Make the Jewelry

I am so excited!!! I am waiting on the edge of my seat for my brand new TS Harrington professional photographs. I sent her several pieces of my jewelry to get some really good shots because some of these pieces just have to be photographed on a model. And boy are these models gorgeous!

She's been teasing me with a photo here and a photo's like Chinese Water Torture waiting for the rest. So I will tease you with the amazing photos she's sent me so far

Showing my large links fine silver necklace and twisty earrings.

Gorgeous - my fine silver long links chain necklace with matching bracelet and earrings.

Man-O-Man...I can't wait to see what else she has for me!

Monday, August 13, 2007

My Grandpa's Legacy - Part I

My mom used to wonder where I got my desire to create - not that she isn't capable of creating neat things. I remember her making these really neat porcelain dolls. But she never had a passion for it. Her passion is in gardening - You should see her flowers. She and my husband love gabbing about flowers and Japanese Maples.

The desire to create jewelry must have skipped a generation because my grandma and grandpa used to create the most amazing pieces of jewelry. They found their own rough stones and then cut and polished these into cabachons (cab-ah-shons) or "cabs" to create stunning and award winning jewelry, belt buckles, and bolos.

Grandma is now in full time care and grandpa says he can't create without her (isn't that sweet and sad?!?!). I am hoping that he will create if I am there so he can teach me how to cut stones. The last time I was down there I took over 200 photos of their work. I'll be posting it and showing it off over the next few months - and asking if anyone knows what some of the stones are. He's forgotten some of them - that was grandma's job.

Petrified Dinosaur Bone


Botswana Agate

He has so much uncut stone it's like heaven to go through it all. I'll post the photos I took of some of this rough stone. I know you'll drool just like I did! He got a kick out of how excited I got to see it all and he was impressed that I was able to name most of the stones. I've taught myself quite a bit in the last five years when it comes to different types of stones. What can I say? It must be genetic!