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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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An Inspiring Wine Date

On a recent wine tasting date with my sweetheart, I had the opportunity to enjoy some (absolutely magnificent) wines at Terra Blanca Winery. While I generally worry it’s in poor taste to pull out my pocket sketchbook at the winery while tasting, I freely admit I was fighting the impulse. Their wines are AMAZING! As soon as we got out the car, after tasting, I pulled out my sketchbook and started putting my visual representations of their HEAVENLY wines on paper for future jewelry designs.

 

Now, I’d be hard-pressed to choose my favorite wine (I need to go for several more tastings before I have any kind of firm opinion on the matter) from their collection, but I can tell you… I now have two pages in my pocket sketchbook of designs inspired by (just) their wines (necklaces, bracelets and earrings). They even have a chardonnay I really wanted to take home with me (shocking, as I have always favored the reds).

 

One of the things I love about Terra Blanca’s wines is the complexity of the layers and flavors. Each sip is an experience in and of itself. I feel like I’m sitting down and having an intimate conversation with the wine, getting to know a soon-to-be best friend.  Truly, they have mastered the art form that is the creation of wine…. And theirs is very worthy of every tribute.

 

Here is a picture of the first design, now part of the Tendrils of the Vine Collection, inspired by one of their red wines….

These "Tangled Vine" earrings, a new addition to Butterfly Sundries' original Tendrils of the Vine Collection, was inspired by a Terra Blanca wine!
These “Tangled Vine” earrings, a new addition to Butterfly Sundries’ original Tendrils of the Vine Collection, was inspired by a Terra Blanca wine!

 

Find this and many more designs inspired by Washington wines on Etsy!

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Designing Dancing Women (and Men)!

Women, in all their forms, are beautiful and celebration-worthy.
Women, in all their forms, are beautiful and celebration-worthy.

I’ve been having a great time designing new pieces for Butterfly Sundries’ Dancing Women Collection, several of which will be unveiled soon. But, it’s also been a very mind-bending experience. I started the collection knowing I wanted to feature diverse representations of beauty, including women with visible disabilities and a wide range of body types. I never expected that to be the easiest part of the design process.

The challenging part of the process, as it turns out, is choosing powerful dance representations and postures for the designs. As I began designing I realized that so many of the dance positions I learned as a child and can draw at the drop of the hat make women appear graceful… but somehow smaller. Many of them are overtly sexual (and while sexuality and sensuality are both good things, these things are not part of the focus of this collection). They make us take up less space. My quest has been to find and choose artistic representations which are fluid, graceful and still empowering. I want a woman to feel encouraged to fill the space she occupies with her own power and beauty.

The first Dancing Women Etched Cuff sold within less than 2 weeks!
The first Dancing Women Etched Cuff sold within less than 2 weeks!

By contrast, it’s also been an interesting process considering the possibility of exploring a customer’s request for expansion in the direction of Dancing Men designs. I never realized how little I’ve thought of what men look like when they’re dancing. Imagining them in body postures similar to the ones in the Dancing Women Cuff bracelet is counter-intuitive to me (I am embarrassed to admit that my first conceptualization was of men of all sizes and shapes in various body building poses- which then led me to question my own preconceptions and biases; my second thought was of a scene from the movie Hitch).

It’s amazing to me how the simple process of creating a line of socially-conscious jewelry which seeks to combat the bias of media depictions of beauty can be so enriching to me personally. I never realized that I’d adopted gender-role constructs surrounding dance, but- now that I recognize how I’ve internalized some of our cultural values- I look forward to the process of creating and adopting new, healthier, and more empowering constructs!

Meanwhile, you can kind find these designs- and many more- in Butterfly Sundries’ shop on Etsy!

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Inspired by Artist Lydia Makepeace

One of my Etsy friends and shop owners, Lydia Makepeace, has gone through a remarkable evolution in the expression of her creative voice. I first became familiar with her work when she sold (primarily) jewelry; in fact, her acorn necklace was so beautiful that it inspired my very first Etsy Treasury: “Squirreling Around… Awh Nuts!” Over time, I’ve continued to be amazed by her work as she’s given her primary focus to her paintings.

 

I have found, while our mediums are different, I never cease to find inspiration in her work. Her use of colors and textures always give me ideas for new jewelry expressions in my own work. And, her willingness to always challenge herself to new heights reminds me to strive to add new skills to my repertoire (rather than becoming too comfortable in what has become “easy”).

 

One of Lydia’s recent paintings caught my imagination; as soon as I saw it, I wanted to create an etched pendant inspired by it. Of course, I don’t want to steal her work or fail to give credit- so I tossed the idea aside and set about focusing on other projects…. until I remembered she had a birthday. Finally, an excuse!

 

Sometimes, as artists, it can be easy to wonder whether or not anyone appreciates our work. Compelled to create, but separated from those who appreciate and purchase our work, sometimes we can feel like our creations get lost in the abyss. We put all of our heart and soul into something, it sells (sometimes after a long while), and then we often won’t hear anything about the piece ever again; we simply hope that it found a home in which it will be appreciated.

 

So, for my dear friend, I decided to give her the gift of a reminder. I made for her a two-sided etched copper pendant. The front has an etched botanical pattern, inspired by one of her paintings. It’s my hope that she will always remember that her work, her voice, is appreciated.

LM Pendant

The back of the pendant has the word “inspire” with a few decorative “splotches” of paint. This side is a “thank you” for all the times she has inspired me, and the expression of my hope that she will never stop painting (or inspiring).

Back of LM Pendant

On a personal note, I can’t recommend Lydia’s shop enough; I am an enthusiastic follower of both her Etsy shop and her Facebook page! Her birthday pendant is now on its way; help me give her an even bigger gift by checking out her shop and following her on Facebook!

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Custom Hair Barrette

This beautiful 80mm etched copper hair clip was created as a custom order for one of my clients.
This beautiful 80mm etched copper hair clip was created as a custom order for one of my clients.

In general, I’m very particular about which custom orders I’m willing to add on to my schedule. After years of making jewelry and accessories, I’ve learned there are qualities that have to exist in the relationship between myself and a potential client before it’s worth the effort. Recently I accepted a custom order and remembered all the reasons I enjoy doing custom work (in the best-case scenarios).

This original Butterfly Sundries hair clip, currently available on Etsy, was the starting point for a client's custom order request.
This original Butterfly Sundries hair clip, currently available on Etsy, was the starting point for a client’s custom order request.

I received an inquiry from a client about a hair clip which is available in Butterfly Sundries’ shop on Etsy; she liked the design, but wanted a larger barrette and a different size copper plate. Reworking a design, which was made to fit a wider plate, to be attractive with smaller (width) and longer dimensions is a challenge.

 

Because the design was a modification of the existing design, and something I could translate to new designs, I waived my usual artist design fee. But, I still had to pick out the key design features of the original and modify them to be attractive on a smaller scale. I drew up three initial modified designs using the measurement guidelines given to me by my client. Once completed, I sent the sketches to my client so she could tell me which she liked best and give feedback.

I did three initial design sketches, using some of the primary design elements from the original hair clip design.
I did three initial design sketches, using some of the primary design elements from the original hair clip design.

 

When my client responded with her preferences (she liked designs 1 & 2). I combined those two designs and moved them to the copper plate for etching. Using tape to protect the edges and the back of the copper, and my favorite resist to protect the areas I didn’t want etched, I sent a picture to my client for any last minute feedback of changes she might want before etching.

 

This photo was sent to my client before etching for any last-minute feedback before etching.
This photo was sent to my client, before etching, for any last-minute feedback or changes.

 

Once etched, the remaining solution on the plate had to be neutralized and the plate needed to be cleaned. After applying a patina to provide an “antiqued” appearance, a wax was applied to protect the surface.

 

After neutralizing the etching solution, applying the patina, and some initial clean-up, it's finally possible to get a real idea of how the design will look as a hair clip!
After neutralizing the etching solution, applying the patina, and a little cleaning, it’s finally possible to get a real idea of how the design will look as a hair clip!

 

A little shaping, drilling and riveting… Voila! A brand new custom hair clip is done and on its way to a new owner!

 

It's done! This gorgeous etched copper barrette was a fun custom order... and thanks to the inspiration of my client, some new (different) hair clip designs will be coming to Butterfly Sundries soon!
It’s done! This gorgeous etched copper barrette was a fun custom order… and thanks to the inspiration of my client, some new (different) hair clip designs will be coming to Butterfly Sundries soon!
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Jewelry Art- For Blessings & Prosperity

When I first received a collection antique silver coins, I felt so inspired by the beauty of the Arabic calligraphy on them. The smooth sweeping lines- I wish my writing were so beautiful. The coins made me think of beauty, blessings and prosperity. I decided to make a special design to represent those ideas- with the hope that it will also inspire its future owner.

The design you see etched into the copper pendant is the word “Bless,” written in Arabic calligraphy. With the initial blessing, I chose to add two kinds of stones (hematite and garnet) which are traditionally associated with manifesting dreams into reality… to symbolize all my hope for its wearer, along with three authentic antique silver coins for prosperity. This pendant is one of my favorite items available in my Etsy shop; I like the idea of blessings in physical form.

A note about the coins: These genuine silver coins come from one of the batches I acquired of tentatively identified 17th-18th Century silver coins, from Turkey and Egypt. They came to me with the holes already in them. No work whatsoever- aside from putting wire through the already existing hole(s)- has been done to these coins. They are as I obtained them. Even the patina has been preserved, as it often enhances both the character and the value of the coins.

If you like old coins, you might want to check out my Historical Coin Collection!

This beautiful pendant, a Butterfly Sundries' original design, features the word "Bless" in Arabic calligraphy, along with three antique silver Arabic coins.
This beautiful pendant, a Butterfly Sundries’ original design, features the word “Bless” in Arabic calligraphy, along with three antique silver Arabic coins.