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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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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!

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Gifts of Inspiration from the Vine

With the warmer days and increased sunshine of spring, I’m starting to think of the beautiful vineyards of Washington. I recently had the opportunity to see some of the new growth of 2014 out at White Heron Cellars and I have to tell you, I’m already getting ideas! I think the texture of the vines will translate really well to some upcoming etched designs! I’ve also gotten some inspiration from the vineyards for some new original jewelry display options for some of my winery consignment locations!

 

But meanwhile…. think this beautiful cat might be able (and willing) to share some of the wine it’s guarding?

 

This beautiful cat caught my eye and agreed to be photographed at White Heron Cellars!
This beautiful cat caught my eye and agreed to be photographed at White Heron Cellars!