October 17, 2009

Recently, I took part in a discussion about sea glass and it’s use in jewelry. As well as the immense difficulty it is to find real sea glass to use if you happen to not live anywhere near a coast.

I was honestly surprised at how many people said ‘Why not throw some glass in a tumbler with sand and water?’. That repeated response set my mind spinning. Not about how to make my own sea glass, but.. moral integrity.

The more I thought about this, the more it bothered me a bit. I know personally, I could not ‘toss glass in a tumbler’ and then market it as sea glass. I would be obligated to called it ‘man made sea glass’, and honestly I don’t see it faring too well sales wise. In my mind, a person wants sea glass because it has a history behind it. From beginning as a simple bottle, or piece of clear glass all thru it’s journey to become a precious milky colored piece of prettiness.

My mind then shifted gears to ‘To I have too high standards and expectations for my business?’. I decided after about 5 minutes on this thought train that.. no, I do not. I want to offer high quality, genuine materials and craftsmanship in my jewelry. I scrutinize every stone, pearl, piece of metal before I even consider using it in a piece I make. I realize that this ends up increasing the price of a finished piece of jewelry, but I want to offer something better than a big box store. And that’s the way I will keep on doing it!

More Family Business Insights

October 4, 2009


This afternoon, I was using the amazing powers of the internet to hunt down some ideas for future supply purchases. My 3 year old daughter was nearby, as usual and came to see what I was looking at (because I am a crazy lady and talk to the computer monitor). She wormed her way up on to my lap, asking me a million questions while settling herself in. ‘What are you doing?’ ‘Why?’ ‘Why do you need more stones?’ ‘Can we make jewelry tomorrow?’, the typical 3 year old line of questioning. As I settled back into the searching and note taking her attention shifted to the computer monitor. ‘What is that?’ ‘Click on that pink one, mommy!’ ‘That’s labradorite, you have some of that mommy.’

Her intense interest caught me a little off guard. Normally toddlers bounce from like to like in a fashion similar to grasshoppers. And yet, the child knew that they grey stone which hints of pretty blue-green was Labradorite, that the pale, milky pink stone was Rose Quartz. And she caught on quickly with others. Black Onyx, Rutilated Quartz, briolettes, rondelles.

Perhaps this early budding interesting in jewelry making and gemology may be an interest that stick with her for life. The idea of getting her an assortment of large glass and wooden beads, thick cording and plated pewter beads for Christmas is sounding more and more like a very good idea.

It’s a Family business.. really.

September 20, 2009

Recently, my 3 year old daughter has taken a large interest in my jewelry making. On several occasions now, she’s stated that when she grows up she wants to make jewelry like I do. So, being the encouraging mother that I am, I allowed her to start hanging out with me while I work on the simpler pieces.

Last week, I made her dreams come true. I have a large Ziplock baggie of my reject beads. You know.. the ones that have badly drilled holes, chips, cracks, badly dyed pearls, pearls missing nacre. It’s really a little treasure trove contained in a plastic bag. Many of these beads feature gigantic holes too, so.. I cut a 20” length of some 49 strand Soft Flex that I never use. I popped a bead stopper on the end of it, sat Francesca down with the baggie and told her to design a necklace.

Here we are, a week later and she will string, tear it apart and restring her beads. She informed me that she wants bigger pearls, because most of the reject ones are small. She also came in to me today as I was listing some new items on Etsy and let me know that she was going to help sell mommy’s jewelry and maybe sell her own.

The jewelry bug has bitten, and bitten her hard. I think for Christmas I will order some of the funky bead mixes that Fire Mountain Gems offers and see how that goes over with her.

It's Monday. Cue the Boomtown Rats.

May 11, 2009

What a weekend it was, full of good thing, happiness and creativity!

My youngest sister graduated from Indiana University this weekend for starters. I am so very proud of her and the hard work she has done. She is a stellar example to her nieces and nephews. She's off to grad school next, specifically.. law school. So her adventure continues for another few years.

My oldest daughter lives in Iowa with her father, she moved up there last summer. I was so happy on Friday when I checked the mail and there was a Mother's Day card from her. To make it even sweeter, she called me yesterday morning and wished me a happy Mother's day as well. I look forward to picking her up in a few weeks for her summer vacation. My partner and I have been planning a long weekend in Chicago with the kids. We're planning on a day at the Brookfield Zoo, a day at the Shedd Aquarium and a trip to the Field Museum. A little of something for everyone, and before it gets too warm out to really enjoy it all.

I got to be creative this weekend as well. I tried out a few new things and was pleased with the results. One of which is very rough, but has so much potential. I was looking at some chain stores jewelry offerings and noticed a trend towards adjustable bangles. They looked to be pretty simple, with 2-4 little charms dangling from them. Dangly little charms are no problem, but the bracelet itself... that is another matter. After a bit of study time, I decided that I could in fact do it. I broke out my 16g copper wire and got to work. The piece is rough. It has plier marks. It's not perfectly round. It has room for some improvement. But I did it. See!

I also fabricated some ear wires that turned out ok. I need to scale them down size wise, but they are pretty cute.

Finally, I got my Etsy shop opened and I actually have pieces listed there!! This is really exciting for me, because of the amount of traffic that Etsy sees on a monthly basis. I was really nervous, and researched myself into a corner there for a bit, but I finally took the plug. I will be adding a link to the Etsy shop here soon. In the meantime feel free to visit it!

Iced Adornments Jewelry on Etsy

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What a crazy week!

May 5, 2009

Last week was just a little hectic. Along with the normal small child insanity, I had extended family chaos on top of it. Not that I minded one bit, I love my whole family. The curveballs life is throwing just make me a stronger, better person.

I got a text from my mother Weds afternoon after I had gotten home from her house. My grandmother had called and needed outpatient surgery on Thursday. I called my partner at work and told him to find some coverage, I had to go out of town. I was not going to let my mother go deal with it on her own. I managed to pack and wind up a bunch of rings for chainmaille, plus write out detailed instructions for the kids before I had to leave. Thursday morning, I was forced to call the Dr's office because the littlest was coughing. The littlest has asthma, so when he starts coughing we get him in fast so it doesn't move to bronchitis. The awesome ladies at our Dr's office managed to get him in that morning.  I informed my partner of this just as my dad was pulling up to pick me up.

The drive to my grandmother's was uneventful. I was surprised to see a large wind farm between Peoria and Lincoln. It was impressive to see so many wind turbines dotting the landscape, even if the weather was grey and rainy. My grandmother lives north of here, in a small town called Galva. I spent a good portion of my teen years in this small community and it had been a few years since I had been back there. I was surprised to see the town's pool buildings had been painted a boring taupe. The decay of a small town that is slowing dying was a little painful to deal with. So many homes and businesses were missing or in dangerous disrepair.

Grandma's procedure went well. It took a lot longer then we intially expected due to the case before hers. She was scheduled to go in at 12:30pm but didn't go back til 3pm. We got her home safe and sound and parked her in the sunroom, as she was still a bit unsteady from the sedation. Friday, my mother and I ran some errands for grandma which made us chuckle a little bit. Then we popped over to see my great aunt Maxine at the independent living facility she lives at. I feel awful that Auntie Mac has never met my youngest, and she hasn't seen my 3 year old since she was 6 months old. But while she's a little more frail looking, she sill wears her nylons and blue eye shadow. She was happy to see us. Then we popped over to Bishop Hill for some lunch. My mother is addicted to Swedish Meatballs. I had to partake in them as well, and they were very good. The bread pudding was amazing! We hit a few shops and it was nap time.

I took a whole bunch of jumprings with me to keep me occupied during the downtimes in Galva. I had intended to work on a Jens Pind necklace, but discovered I made 3mm rings instead of the 2.5, so I started on a byzantine piece. My grandmother became interested in what I was doing and decided she wanted it for her own. My 81 year old grandmother, wearing maille!

Busy Busy here. New things are coming, left and right and I am excited about it all.

In Progress

April 24, 2009

Boy do I have a lot of little projects going on right now! I am excited about all of them, and can not wait to see them all finished up. I've got that sneak peek necklace I am working on, that I just found some great new beads that just totally make it a new and dramatic piece. I have some earrings in the work, using some of my very precious sterling silver. The earrings will all feature pearls too. I really love using pearls in my jewelry. I also have a personal bracelet I am planning on restringing and using a new clasp on. I will post a pic of it when finished in case someone might happen to want one similar.

A trip to my local bead store proved to be very inspiring for me yesterday. They have a gorgeous selection of stones, both fine and plain. A few of the agates and jaspers really spoke to me. However, my goal is to get some sales to I can go back and by the graduated strand of sapphire briolettes. While they were tiny and delicate, they were also absolutely gorgeous. There was a strand of ruby brios that was hollaring at me as well. I stumbled on a darling strand of the neatest cut garnet I have ever seen. They were thin squares, with a beveled edge and quite funky and different. My trip there lit a fire under me to get some nicer pieces finished and listed on Artfire so I can go back and make those pretty gems mine!

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Sunshine Sunshine!

April 17, 2009

The sun is shining away outside. That always seems to get the creative juices flowing in me. It's a welcome change to the grey, wet, dreariness the rest of the week held. At some point today, I will set the little ones loose in the back yard and let them run themselves exhausted. Perhaps then I can get some much needed work done. I'm still working on the whole balancing act of being a mother and trying to make my love of making jewelry into a living. It's a rather precarious balancing act, especially with children so young, as they flipflop in their moods and schedules.

So, on to the things I am working on. I even have visual aides!
We'll begin with a little bit of a failure. Not totally a failure tho. The frame I made for a piece of seaglass was just a hint too large. My initial goal was to wirewrap and net bezel it in ala Eni Oken style, however, I have to rebuild the frame. The old frame is going to be used as a funky little freeform pendant tho. Never fear!

The Seaglass piece is a neat little thing. I have a friend who lives on the Outer Banks in NC, and she sent me a lovely selection of seaglass she and her daughters had collected. This piece was one of them. It's shaped like a little spoon, or a tongue. I have intentions of dangling a little pearl in the bowl of it once I rebuild the frame.

Next on the list of working project is, my foray into chain making. Not Chainmailling (we'll get into that shortly), but actually making the chain itself. This is a long project for me, as I have to make the links, rings and wrapped beads. I plan on it being a long necklace that can be wrapped two or three times for a delicious layered look. The stones are flower jade, the metal is copper. They marry well and I can not wait to finish it up and show it off. Again, visual aides!

Also on the list of to-do projects that never ends, setting up shop on Etsy! Wish me luck I'm going to need it. Have a great weekend, and I will work on a chainmaille post on Sunday, since the SO is off and I can work on it this weekend.

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This, That and the Other.

April 10, 2009

It's been a very busy week here at Iced Adornments, in respect to the family portion of life. It's Spring Break time here for school, throwing everyone off balance a little bit. My three year old daughter was initially confused as to why she could not go to school on Tuesday like she normally does. The youngest was totally thrown from the nap schedule due to his sister not disappearing for 2 hours on her school days. Next week, we are thankfully back to the norm and I should be able to accomplish some things jewelry wise.

I made up my mind earlier this week that I would also open a store on Etsy to compliment my Artfire store. I have a dear, good friend working on a lovely banner for me to use. Who knew picking fonts was so overwhelming lol! I am still cramming my noggin full of the do's and don'ts of successful Etsy selling. My goal is to have some items stocked in the store by mid week. Along with the little Glass Tile pendants I've made, I will be introducing some long necklaces I have done. And by the end of the week, some earrings as well.

In totally different news, we added a new member to our family this week as well.

This is Sasha. A 6 year old Rat Terrier. Her previous owners show Afghans and just started breeding, and felt that they couldn't provide her with the attention she deserves, with puppies coming and show season really kicking into high gear. She's been with us since Monday and intergrated herself seamlessly into our family, getting along great with the kids and the cats. And, she doesn't bark. My 3 year old daughter picked out everything pink for her. Pink bed, pink collar (That says 'Princess'), pink bowls, pink toys. If they made pink food, I'm sure she'd have piked that as well. Who knows, Ms Sasha may inspire me to make a little line of dog jewelry as well!

Prepare for more updates next week in regards to the Etsy shop. And most likely some adventures in chain maille, a frustrating love of mine!

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What Inspires?

March 31, 2009

Every artist gets asked this question hundreds of times in their life. What inspires you and your art? And while all the pieces I have listed in my Artfire store are glass tile pendants, I do love working with metal and gemstones. Those pieces tend to take much longer because I have to balance working with the children and house, but that's another post for another time.

So what inspires me? You might be surprised. My mother hates it and asks me to not talk about it because it makes her uncomfortable. Ha! That's got you wondering, doesn't it? It's really innocent. Space. Yup, space inspires my jewelry design. I have tons of mental sketches and little doodles on paper that have been brought to the surface by images and talk of our great universe. I love to go to The Hubble Heritage Gallery and sites like it. I can spend hours upon hours looking at images of stars, nebula, galaxies and such just getting ideas and waking up the creative juices.

An example. This is a galaxy in the making. A ring of stars around a little (ok it's not little) nucleus. What do I see? A ring of hammered silver, maybe even brushed a bit and suspended in the center via wire wrapping a gold pearl or nice round citrine. It's images like this that make me dig out my wire, stones and pliers and sit down and forget the insanity around me.

So, what inspires you?

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Misadventures in Metalsmithing

March 27, 2009

On Weds, I decided to take advantage of the sunshine and comfortable temps, to attempt making some balled copper headpins. I hauled all my soldering stuff outside and set myself up on the steps leading the the back door. Hopefully by this summer I can get a small table and chair out on the patio, because that was not comfortable at all! I recently purchased a new charcoal block, so I got that all tightened up with some binding wire first. I plucked up my first little headpin to work on, a delicate little wire. I slathered it in flux, stuck it in my 3rd hand, and lit the torch. I began the warming process, watching the flux powder up and moved to the top to make the dainty, darling little ball I longed to have and.... nothing. The copper changed colors and blackened, then began to glow red and... nothing. It took about 4 attempts before I got one, pathetic little ball on the end of some wire. By that time, I was frustrated and needed to step away from it.

Of course, the weather has gone to pot since then so I haven't had the chance to get back out there and try again. Instead, I decided to begin another project. One that does not require melting metal or going outside. I was flipping thru a chain making book and got it in my head to make some little figure 8 links. An hour later I had a nice little pile of tiny 1/4" long copper links. I dug around in my gemstones looking for something that spoke to me, hunting for the sort that was ready to become a piece of jewelry. I stumbled on a few strands of flower jade, and they were perfect. The rich brown tones would compliment the warmth of the copper while the greens would remind on of the patina that metal can develop. The past 2 days have been filled with little links, making flower jade connectors, and I am beginning to assemble now. If the family behaves, it should be up in my shop by Monday (weather permitting)

On the non-jewelry side of things, it's been interesting. My youngest, 2 years old, is teething. So if he's not being your typical tantrum throwing 2 year old he is clinging to me and whining. And sleep?? What's that? You would figure after 12 months of getting new teeth in, he'd be a little more used to the process. We also purchased a chest freezer, something we've talked about for 4 years now and finally got around to doing. To celebrate, I ran to the grocery store and filled it with meat, veggies, ice cream and of course frozen pizzas. My husband also informed me this morning, he was going to take our 3 year old daughter to see Monsters Vs Aliens on Sunday. He has no idea what he's in for!

Be sure to check out the Artfire shop. I loaded it with a bunch of the glass tile pendants. I love making them, each one has it's own little story. Not to mention, they are affordable and cute. I gave all the women in my family pendants for Christmas, as a little woman to woman gift. More things are getting added every few days in the shop, so check it often!

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