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Flowers, fireworks and jewelry design

My inspiration comes from everywhere. This flower makes me think of fireworks and mixed-metal pendant and designs.
My inspiration comes from everywhere. This flower makes me think of fireworks and mixed-metal pendant and earring designs.

One of the things I love most about my personal creative process is that I find inspiration from everywhere. The world is my muse. In some respects it makes my life difficult in that it’s almost impossible for me to completely stop working. In other ways it makes me lucky because I am rarely at a loss for ideas (though sometimes my own skills have not yet developed to the point of implementing them).

A few days ago I was feeling a little bored with my current projects so I went through the photographs I took a few years ago when my sweetheart took me to the Butchart Gardens. This photo caught my eye. At first glance it reminds me of my favorite fireworks from the shows I used to in Grand Coulee during my childhood. But on closer inspection it makes me think of design elements for a pendant, earrings and maybe even a cuff design. Mixed metals, perhaps brass (or gold) and silver…

For better or worse, my initial design drawings are outside of my current skill range (and I don’t yet have all the tools I would need to implement those ideas); I’ll get there eventually but for the moment I’m unable to bring them to reality. But, therein lies another challenge. How can I get creative, with the tools and skills at my disposal, to make something else- just as beautiful and with similar characteristics as my original designs?

 

That challenge fuels my creativity. What tools can I make to expand my options? What techniques can I learn to further evolve my art? It’s these questions that keep me making new designs.

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Choosing Veritas Faire…

I recently selected Veritas Medieval Faire as Butterfly Sundries’ newest Featured Charity and I want to tell you why this particular charity event is so very close to my heart. I chose this event because it offers something good, something honorable… and maybe even something compassionate to the residents of Grant County, Washington.

Both Veritas Medieval Faire’s parent non-profit, Kron, and my own business office were victims of multiple thefts during our respective years in Moses Lake, WA; as we shared building space, we both suffered substantial losses simultaneously.

In the case of Kron, the thefts included replica swords used in programming, blunt training weapons used in their educational videos on medieval combat, armour on loan to the organization from their Executive Director, a handcart to make transportation easier, an amp used for the program’s microphone system, a Bluetooth car stereo donated for the org’s vehicle to make long car rides safer and more enjoyable,  and more… items used in the service of others, most of which the organization has still not been able to replace.

In the case of Butterfly Sundries, I lost a smartphone, (all but 4 cups from) my Gramma’s Depression-era china set which I was using to inspire a new jewelry line (some of the few items of hers I was able to keep as most were given to other family members), a laptop computer, memory cards for my camera, a welding/torch set for a jewelry expansion, a CASIO keyboard, and more…. None of which have I been able to replace.

One of only four cups remaining after a theft in Moses Lake claimed the rest of the Depression-era china set I received from my Gramma.
One of only four cups remaining after a theft in Moses Lake claimed the rest of the Depression-era china set I received from my Gramma.

As some of the building space was offered to staff or volunteers for free storage, there were personal losses as well… including childhood collector’s items or toys, DVDs, etc.

The losses were heartbreaking. I still feel violated by the intrusion and have dreams related to it. Despite a number of wonderful people I met in the area, my personal experiences and memories are tainted by the sadness I feel.

It was with a certain amount of surprise I heard that Kron intended, last year, to bring Veritas Medieval Faire to Grant County, Washington. After the crimes they had been victim to in that area I wouldn’t have blamed them if they had written off the area after relocating to Ellensburg, WA. Instead, they decided to respond to their experiences, as well as the crime and gang rates associated with Grant County, by offering an event which centers on the culture of the knight, a warrior in his own time, with the Code of Chivalry as the central focus. They decided to offer an alternative to the crime and gang culture still-associated with that area by bringing engaging educational opportunities and programs to an area which might not otherwise have access to enrichment activities. I want to support them in that quest.

For my part, I want something good to come out of my negative experiences in Moses Lake and Grant County. The crimes to which I fell victim hurt my heart and my business- but if I can take that negativity and turn it into something good, perhaps I can create new meaning from the losses. The thefts made me aware of the horrible problems Grant County still needs to work on, but if my awareness does not move me to action it is valueless. I’m turning it into motivation to help a non-profit do good work in an area I know needs it. If the Code of Chivalry makes a difference in the life of at least one child or helps even one youth reconsider what it can mean to be a warrior and gives them an alternative code to use of character building… I’ll count it as a success and the losses worth it.

 

The life of even just one is worth far more than the material losses I suffered… and I am grateful to Kron for reminding me of that with their Veritas Medieval Faire.

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Intersectional Cuff

Intersectional Cuff with Heat PatinaLately I’ve been reading about “Intersectional Feminism.” And, while it’s a lot more detailed than what I’ll get into here, I love how it approaches things. The basic concept is that it is necessary to look at people/life/situations from a multitude of perspectives in order to understand and address a problem. It fits in well, in my mind, to the holistic approach I learned in graduate school through the diversity classes which were part of my Clinical Psychology training. None of us are “one” thing or identity. Within each of us are representations of an assortment of “identities” including gender, sexual orientation, disability, race, cultural identity (which may not match our ethnic heritage), age, etc. Any time we face a form of privilege or discrimination, it could be a response to any one or combination of these.

 

It is in the huge diversity within humanity and the world that I find beauty. I find joy and inspiration in the “intersectional.” As messy as it can feel to try to understand people and situations through this lens, I love the ways in which it stretches me as a person. It makes me grow into a better human being, even as I struggle against our societal pressure to be “one” thing (a task at which I will- always- fail joyously).

 

In this “Intersectional Cuff” jewelry piece I wanted to create a beautiful artistic representation to remind me of the beauty of intersectional identities and the infinite possibilities they can embody- even within a single person (or piece). I also wanted to capture the rainbow of diversity which intersectional identities create, and so added a rainbow heat patina to the design.

 

In my case, I hold many identities within myself. I am woman, victim, survivor, disabled, multi-racial… and my list goes on. I have been discriminated against during my life for any number of these things in isolation or combination. I have been told to pretend that some of these identities, part of who I am, do not exist…. and yet they all exist, in me, and I would not be the person I am without them or the experiences I have had because of them.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about intersectional feminism, here’s an article from Everyday Feminism to get you started!

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Coming Alive to 2015

While I was taking photographs at The Butchart Gardens, this bee decided to claim a flower for its own.....
While I was taking photographs at The Butchart Gardens, this bee decided to claim a flower for its own…..

I find one of the hardest things about being a business owner, particularly one with disabilities which impact my immune system, is allowing myself the time off to get healthy. It’s especially difficult when I have commitments I need to honor. When I can’t do everything Continue reading Coming Alive to 2015

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In the Heat of Summer…

It’s getting hot (and strangely muggy) in this part of Washington…. So, just as I do every time summer comes around, I’m having serious cravings for white or iced wine. One of my favorite white wines comes from a winery with a tasting room up in Leavenworth, so my goal for the summer is to- at some point- take a day off for a road trip to buy a bottle of wine and bring it back for a wonderful candlelit dinner and some quiet time with my sketchbook….

But, meanwhile, I’ve got thoughts of white wine preoccupying my brain and it’s oh so distracting!

Sorting through a recent bead order, I discovered two Swarovski crystals which were immediately claimed for this new design…

These Tendrils of the Vine Link Earrings feature Swarovski crystals on Argentium silver wire. A perfect pairing for your next wine tasting! ;)
These Tendrils of the Vine Link Earrings feature Swarovski crystals on Argentium silver wire. A perfect pairing for your next wine tasting! 😉

 

They made me fall into a daydream of beautiful summer afternoons with a nice white (maybe an iced) wine! Since I only had enough crystals in this color for a single pair of earrings I had to make them count, so I paired them with one of my personal favorite designs from the Tendrils (of the Vine) Collection. With the Argentium Silver wire leaf swirls, handmade silver head pins and bright crystal colors- I’m having a wine craving just looking at them! These are being saved for next week’s delivery to Ellensburg Canyon Winery/Cox Canyon Vineyards, but you can find the Siam version on Etsy here.

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Cleaning Green – Care Tips for Your Base Metal Jewelry!

Over time base metal jewelry will tarnish. Kept in-check it can add character to your designs... but when it gets out of control there are easy (and green!) cleaning methods you can use to get the maximum enjoyment out of your design.
Over time base metal jewelry will tarnish. Kept in-check it can add character to your designs… but when it gets out of control there are easy (and green!) cleaning methods you can use to get the maximum enjoyment out of your design.

 

Butterfly Sundries’ etched jewelry is treated with a darkener before sealing (and shipping!) to add depth and contrast to the design, but over time other colors can appear on the jewelry. If you look closely in the picture above, you can see green tarnish is beginning to show up between the letters on this Butterfly Sundries’ Shakespearean Insult Cuff.

If things like this have kept you from ordering base metal jewelry, or if you’ve noticed this effect on some of your pieces, this post is for you! First off, don’t worry; tarnishing is a natural process. It can show up in a number of different colors, depending upon metal type, including black and green among others. This process can be reduced, delayed and corrected by following the care instructions listed below.

 

How to care for your etched designs from Butterfly Sundries…

Rule of Thumb:

Whenever you take off your copper or brass jewelry, wipe it down with a clean cloth; this will help to reduce the time that sweat and oils from your skin have access to the copper or brass (it will also prolong the benefits of the wax sealant applied before it was shipped to you).

Cleaning (Go Green!):

Put your copper or brass jewelry item into a bowl and pour in enough of one of the following to fully immerse your piece: lemon juice, white vinegar (you may want to add a little salt), tomato ketchup, or Worcestershire sauce. You can let it stay in the solution for up to 10-20 minutes (no longer!). If the jewelry is especially dirty you may want to change the liquid a couple of times. (If you intend to use a sealant like wax on your piece, put on gloves now!) Use an old toothbrush or soft cloth to “scrub” the design clean (If you use a toothbrush, be careful; the darkener I painted onto your design could be scrubbed off if you clean too deeply into the etched areas!). Run water over the jewelry to rinse. Now use soap and water to thoroughly clean and dry your piece with a clean soft cloth.

Polishing:

Feel free to use a polishing cloth on your etched designs from Butterfly Sundries! This is a good option if you want to keep a certain amount of tarnish in the etched areas for contrast (as I did for the picture above), but want to renew the brightness of the raised areas.

Sealing

After cleaning I recommend using a wax sealant to protect your design. (Important note if you intend to seal your item: once your item is cleaned, I highly recommend using gloves whenever touching your design until after you’ve applied a sealant! You don’t want to seal the oils from your fingertips onto the surface of your design. Trust me- I learned the hard way!) Good options are car wax or Renaissance Wax (what I use). After applying the wax, buff your jewelry with a soft cloth and it’s ready to be worn again!