Sunday, November 6, 2011

Holiday Sneak Peek!

Somehow my life never seems to slow down.  As I head to the "busy" season, I hope that I am able to manage all that is thrown my way.  I usually do, but not without a freak out or two.

As part of the Blog Carnival with my fellow EtsyMetal team mates, we are all showing off what we have "in store" (pun intended) for the holidays!  Here are a few things I have ready to list in my Etsy shop:


 New Full Moon Hoops

 Moonstone 18K and Sterling Ring

Moonstone 18K & Sterling Silver Ring
Ruby 18K & Sterling Silver Ring

Diamond & 14K White Gold Ring

Clam Pearl Ring

Flower Saucer Slide Pendant

Cherry Creek Jasper Pendant

Zen Amethyst Branch Flower Pearl Necklace

Zen Pod Ring
 Zen Prehenite Ring

In addition to many more finished pieces that are awaiting to be photographed, I am working on some new things carved in wax.  I am enjoying utilizing the knowledge I gained at Kate Wolf's Workshop.  My mind swirls around with ideas constantly, but I am trying to focus on a few at once as to not scatter myself and lose focus on the complete idea.  I hope to develop more skill as I go to fully articulate these ideas that follow me wherever I go.  Current obsession is Mesoamerica symbols and developing my own system that reflects the language of these ancient civilizations.

Scallop Circle

Totem side 1

Totem side 2


Be sure to check out all our bloggers out there!

1. Michele Grady Designs:
2. Erin Austin:
3. Cynthia Del Giudice:
4. 2Roses:
5. Nodeform:
6. Rebecca Bogan:
7. Kate Jones:
8. Evelyn Markasky
9. Beth Cyr

Be sure to visit our shops for your Holiday Shopping!!  Buy Handmade this year!

Visit for a complete list of the many talents of our team.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Wax Carving Workshop with Kate Wolf

 Carving from a tube of wax using layout techniques.  Pear shaped Green Beryl faceted gemstone.
 Carved detailing on side of wax for Green Beryl faceted gemstone.
 Lathe turned tiny vessel with matching lid for cabochon gemstone.
 All the projects worked on through Thursday of class.  Pear shaped ring is still looking like a block of wax tube.
The EtsyMetal crew with Kate Wolf. (l-r)Clare Stoker-Ring, Kate Wolf, Renee Ford (me,) Danielle Miller-Gilliam.

After a wonderful week spent in beautiful Portland, Maine, I am finally getting around to posting some pictures from my adventure.  I longed to take a class from Kate Wolf for several years.  I finally decided that the only way I was going to get any better at carving wax was to go learn technique versus hacking at a block and not accomplishing much.  

What an amazing experience it was to learn from Kate.  I was fortunate to have two great EtsyMetal companions, Danielle Miller-Gilliam  and Clare Stoker-Ring to share my wax carving experience.  Techniques were presented fast and furious, lots to try and use immediately.  Kate instructed with effortless ease, patience and attention to detail.  There were so many little tricks learned during the week that make daunting tasks happen with ease.   Kate has an ingenious and determined mind to finding solutions that make the process seem  so simple.  Tools are adapted on a regular basis to fit the needs of the project or the technique. In my opinion, there are no other wax carving tools on the market that even come close to comparing to Kate Wolf tools.

I feel so fortunate to have taken this class and had the opportunity to hang with some wonderfully talented people.  I know this class will lead me to push myself to new levels and bring my work to a more sculptural, three dimensional feel that I have longed for in my designs.  Keep watching to see what comes next!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Food! Food! Marvelous Food!

Very simply put, I love food.  Yea, I know, we all do.  The memories a certain meal can bring to mind is very powerful.  I read somewhere once that our sense of smell has the best recall memory.  I must have a pretty good sniffer.  I always associate smells to certain points in my life.  It often recalls a great family gathering, shared meal with close friends, or traveling somewhere exotic. Memories of cooking with my grandparents and mother all immediately surface with a whiff... Ahhhhhh....

I am often squeezed for time since I have my studio attached to my home and can't seem to pull myself away from the bench.  While I love to cook, I often find that there is not enough time to plan, prepare and make a 4 course meal every night.  I've come to love my pressure cooker and crock pot.  Both are able to serve up delicious meals that taste like I spent all day cooking. 

I'd like to share a recipe that has proven to be tried and true for a yummy home cooked meal (or two!)

Boeuf Bourguignonne (Beef Burgandy)
I make this in my pressure cooker, but it can be adapted to a dutch oven or crock pot. The name makes me giggle.  I go around saying "Boeuf" all day in funny voices. I do try to use my best Julia Child voice but it often comes out a bit like Betty Rubble instead.  Go ahead, say it out loud.  "BOOF."  It's funny, isn't it?

1 T olive oil
3 strips bacon, coarsely chopped
3 pounds beef bottom round, cut into 1 1/2" pieces square
1/2 t salt
1/4 t fresh ground pepper
1 pound button mushrooms, quartered
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch lengths
1/2 c chopped shallots
2 garlic cloves
1 c hearty red wine, I use Pinot Nior
2 c beef stock
2 T tomato paste
4 T butter
1/4 c all purpose flour

In 5-7 quart pressure cooker, heat oil. Add bacon, cook until browned, scoop out onto paper towels to drain, saving bacon fat. Reserve bacon fat in bowl.  Add 1T back to pan. Now brown the beef in batches in the pan, not overlapping as to evenly brown each cube on all four sides.  About 4-5 minutes, just to brown not cook through.  Transfer browned beef to plate or bowl.  Season beef with the salt and pepper.  Add 1T of reserved grease back into pan.  If all used up, just use more olive oil.  Reduce heat to medium add mushrooms, garlic, shallots and carrots.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are slightly soft and the shallots and garlic become slightly translucent. Add the wine.  Have a glass :)  Bring to boil, scraping any bits left on the bottom.  Stir in broth and tomato paste.  Return beef to cooker with any juices that have leached out.  Now you begin pressure cooking, high heat for 15-25 minutes.  My pressure cooker takes 20 minutes after it reaches full pressure.  It is a newer model (7 years old.)  I must admit, the thing scares me.  I always have visions of everything exploding.  After 20 minutes, I quick release the top and release pressure.  Add the bacon.  Stir.  Remove veggies, and meat from cooker leaving the liquid behind.  Skim any fat then bring to low boil.  In a medium bowl, using a rubber spatula, make a roux by combining the flour and room temperature butter together until smooth.  Gradually whisk 1 cup of the liquid into the flour mixture to make a paste.  Briskly whisk into the roux into the boiling liquid in the cooker.  Stir for about 5 min until it has not raw flour taste.  Season to taste with more salt and pepper.  Pour over meat and veggies. Serve with warm crusty bread and over noodles or rice if you like.  I usually do not use rice or noodles but my family often requests them to savor all the flavored gravy!  Enjoy!

Please visit my fellow metalsmiths with have blogged about their favorite food experiences today on our Blog Carnival*!

* Blog Carnival is a group activity of EtsyMetal, an international collective of jewelry artists. Each month the group selects a topic and members link their writings on that topic, giving readers a broader range on the same topic.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Some Gortex Thread and silver beads...

The past few days have been spent with my adorable children while my hubby went off to play with some old navy buddies.  Since I have been participating in the Ring a Day Challenge, I have managed to get a ring made each day.  I knew I'd be away from the studio with the kiddos so I had a new challenge on my hands.  Making a ring without my precious tools.   I grabbed my gortex thread, some beads, pliers (only tool used besides my crochet hook) & went to work!

"Ring Around the Rosey" on right, "Pocket Full of Poseies" on left.

I kinda like this thinking outside the box.  I will revisit this later for further exploration (in all my spare time.)

Monday, January 18, 2010

I Love Playdates!

My precious daughter Ruby, I love with all my heart.  BUT, she is a handful.  Very curious, extremely creative.  She can make anything a toy.  We joke that she would be happy with a box of paperclips & rubber bands versus the money spent on the latest toy.  I needed to get into the studio for a bit to work on a custom cufflink & tuxedo stud set during my weekend alone with the kids.  I stocked up popcorn, movies, Kid Cuisine, chocolate, toys and got ready to go to the studio with the kiddies.  Hopeful that I would survive at least four hours, I got a phone call that Ruby's classmate would like her over for a playdate.  While I am not a great host for playdates, I am grateful that other parents like to have them.  Perfect timing!  Ruby off to her playdate, Max stocked up on movies & snacks, I was ready to go.  Between firings and drying time during enameling, I was able to create this ring.

 "Maltese Cross Relic," 14 karat gold, sterling silver, 17/365.

It's one of my favorites so far.  I keep making all of them in my size so I can photograph them on a finger.   At least that's what I keep telling myself.  I love the subtle texture of the band.  Wanna keep up on the rest of the participants? Check them out here on Flickr!

A Pretty One for the Masses

I tend to want to create jewelry rich with texture.  Ok, I don't tend, I make jewelry rich with texture.  I have a huge collection of hammers & I always am on the look out for more.  A girl can never have enough hammers!   One of my favorite ways to display these textures is to put an oxidation patina with brushed or matte surface on the piece.  While I am extremely attracted to things with this type of finish, I find that not everyone is.  People generally respond to shiny bright things more positively than the "dirty" looking (as my mom calls the look I strive to capture!)  So, for you magpies out there, here is one for the masses:

Ring a Day Challenge, "Sangria," 15/365, 14 karat yellow & white gold, 1.37ct oval Rubellite Tourmaline.

All of the amazing artists participating in the Ring a Day Challenge can be seen on Flickr.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Tiny Bubbles

Thinking creatively everyday is something I like to do.  Some days are more successful than others.  I have been enjoying the Ring a Day Challenge so far and have been able to keep up with the challenge.  It gets my brain moving in the right direction.  I wanted to devote only a portion of my day working on this project but today got the better of me and I had to finish ring #14.  I am glad I put forth the effort and got 'er done!  I really like how it turned out.

Even the back is fun!!