Happy Halloween

October 31, 2009

Here are my witches and Power Rangers this Halloween.  Hope yours was a good one!

Charm Bracelet-Making Diva's Go-To Jewelry-Making Website of the Day

October 30, 2009

This week's Go-to Jewelry-Making website is Fire Mountain Gems and Beads or www.firemountaingemsandbeads.com.   I already blogged about their Video Tutorials. Now I want to comment on the site in general and what it has to offer:
  • Jewelry Maker's Library
  • Jewelry-Making Techniques
  • EncycloBEADia
The resources provided here are tremendous -- both from a product standpoint and an informational standpoint.  The Jewelry-Maker's Library is comprised of free beading instructions and techniques.  Its EncycloBEADia has charts, articles, a dictionary of beading terms, gemstone information and jewelry-making Q&A.  

They carry, like, a gazillion beads.  And their other products run the gamut from clay to findings to adhesives to stringing material.  The list is endless.  Free huge catalog, $5.00 FedEx Stuff the Box shipping and competitive pricing.  Need I say more? Go there. Now.        

"Life is what we make it.  Always has been. Always will."
- Grandma Moses

I Do Believe in Fairies

October 28, 2009

"I Do believe in fairies!"  This is by far my most favorite line from the movie Peter Pan.  I'm not a big fan of Tinker Bell, per se, but I do believe that the idea of fairies is a nice one.  For it is said that fairy dust can make you fly, if only you believe.

I've created some Fairy Dust Necklaces for those of us who believe we can fly, if only in our dreams.

My Fairy Dust Necklaces are made with various types of cord, ranging in length from 18" to 24", and they are adorned with various types of  fairy charms.  The dust bottle is approximately 1 and 1/4" long, with a cute cork closure. Two types of dust are available -- either gold glitter or glow-in-the-dark.  The glow-in-the-dark fairy dust is pretty cool.  I've had some trouble finding nice fairy charms.  If anyone has any ideas, please coment and let me know. 

TIme to put the kids to bed.  Gotta make sure they rest up before the big night!  Ciao for now. 

"If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there'd be a shortage of fishing poles."
-Doug Larson

Jewelry Making Video Library Review

October 27, 2009

Okay, so the spider is not from a jewelry-making video.  But it IS the craft for my son's Kindergarten Halloween party this Friday.  I was pretty proud of myself -- the eyes really glow because there's a battery-operated votive candle inside it.  We'll see how it goes trying to create it with a bunch of five-year-olds!

Today's video review comes to us through retailer Fire Mountain Gems and Beads.  Their website www.firemountaingems.com is a great resource for a lot of things jewelry-related.  Right now I'm just going to talk about their Free Jewelry-Making Video Tutorials.  Currently there are 113 of them!

The tutorials cover a number of novice jewelry maker's questions, i.e., How to Use Crimp Covers or How to Use Molding Compound. There was even a tutorial entitled How to Buy, Restore and Modernize Grandma's Jewelry.  The other tutorials set forth the how-to's for a number of jewelry designs.  The nice thing is that each design comes with the video tutorial, complete written instructions and a materials list.  Later in the week I'm going to blog about Fire Mountain Gems' actual products and the website's other resource offerings.  

Only 3 more days till Halloween! Our house is very excited for the day to arrive.  Tonight is pumpkin carving.  Ciao. 

"Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation."
-Brian Tracey

Charm Bracelet Diva's Word of the Week : Pave'

October 26, 2009

Pave': pronounced pa-vay, is French for "pavement", a technique whereby the suraface of the jewelry is covered, or paved, with stones. The technique displays an illusionary bigger look because its multiple gemstones are usually combined with other types of gemstone settings to add more effect and beauty. The stones are set so closely together that no metal shows. The pave' setting is best for round, oval, princess, emerald, square and baguette cut gemstones.  Go to www.viridiangold.com/jewelry-information-10.html and  www.en.mimi..hu/jewelry/pave.html for some more info about pave' jewelry.

Pave' jewelry is quite trendy these days.  Lucky Magazine's November issue showcases some spectacular pave' pieces in its Fall Jewelry Guide.  (More on that in a later post.)  They came up with pave' pieces for all budgets.  My favorite is the goldtone "Fireball" necklace, $30.00 from Grayce by Molly Sims, www.hsn.com.

I would love to see a gorgeous pave' bracelet.  If you have a photo, please send it on.  Ciao for now.

"it ain't no sin to be glad you're alive."
-Bruce Springsteen

Charm Bracelet Diva's Go-to Jewelry Website of the Week

October 24, 2009

I loved www.stelladot.com, a.k.a. Stella and Dot.  One nice feature they offer is personalized necklaces, bracelets and earrings. You pick the base piece or pieces (i.e., 30 inch gold vermeil chain for $54.00) and then you can add removable charms.  Charm categories include birthstone briolette charms, initial charms, relationship charms, inspirational charms and symbol charms.  Charm prices range somewhere between $11.00 and $39.00 each.  I'm partial to the birthstone briolette and initial charms.  Bracelet-wise there's not much to choose from -- just a silver or gold bangle.  And I'm not sure how the charms would look hanging from the hoop earrings.  I'd probably stick with the necklace.

Their general bracelet collection, however, is full of great charm bracelets.  My faves are:
 Sofia Cluster Bracelet, made up of freshwater pearls and glass baubles, $79.00 
  • Grace Pearl Bauble Bracelet $89.00
  • Bloom Charm Bracelet $39.00
  • Sophie Bracelet-Black $59.00
The last one is really cute and I'd say SO easy to make.  I give it a 3 on the jewelry making difficulty scale.  
These websites are great for gleaning sytle ideas.  Some are easy, some not so easy.  But they're a great source of inspiration just the same.  For days when your muse is nowhere to be seen, check out a few of the sites I've reviewed on this blog and get your groove back.

Time to tend to my family --H1N1 flu has hit my house with a vengeance this week.  Hope you are avoiding it. Ciao.

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Vintage Owl Jewelry

October 23, 2009

I never thought I'd ever be writing about vintage owl jewelry, but here I am.  I found this vintage owl pendant at a church barn sale and thought it was pretty cute and probably vintage. It's goldplated with faux diamond gems for eyes. Then I went online to investigate and found more information about vintage owl jewelry than I  ever imagined existed.  Who knew?

It was kind of neat, though, to sift through photos and try to find my little guy.  I was hoping to determine its age and anything else that might be known about it.  I ended up at www.flickr.com/groups/860499@N23.  This flickr group posts photos of their vintage owls.  From there I ended up at www.picasaweb.google.com/dwvanardsdale.  This site consists of quite a collection of photos depicting a ton of vintage owls.  And my guy was there.  It didn't give an age but it did say that this particular owl was "common."  Oh well.  It was still fun to research the possibilities.  And I still think that it looks great on my pretty gold chain.     

Time to get dinner going and hunker down for a windy, rainy, fall night.  It's one of my favorite kinds.  Ciao.

"Self-discipline is when your conscience tells you to do something and you don't talk back."
 -W.K. Hope 

Thursday's Jewelry Website Review

October 22, 2009

I want to talk about a great site I found called www.thevirtualtouch.com.  It's a great place to find pewter and sterling silver charms.  And there's no minimum purchase requirement!  I'm getting tired of finding great jewelry sources only to find out that I have to spend a minimum of $100.00 if I want them to accept my order.  The assortment of charms is eclectic to say the least, which is good.  Perfect for making that one-of-a-kind charm bracelet, or necklace or earrings.  They also carry beads and watch faces.  Best of all their prices are reasonable!  
  •  www.thevirtualtouch.com
  • large eclectic collection of pewter and sterling silver charms
  • beads and watch faces
  • reasonable prices
  • no minimum purchase requirement
Check them out and let me know what you think.  Ciao.

"If you always do what interests you, at least one person is pleased." Katharine Hepburn 

Would You Restyle My Stuff?

October 21, 2009

Here are a few of my finds from barn sales and flea markets -- three pairs of earrings and a pendant.  I love pearls, so the orange and white pearls really spoke to me.  They reminded me of some of my mom's old jewelry.  And the fleur-de-lis pendant earrings are very chic, no?  The gold pendant with a blue cabochon gemstone is very delicate and also has a fleur-de-lis pattern going on.  (So hard to tell in the photo.)  What would you do with these pieces?  Anything at all?  Or maybe nothing?   Comment and let me know, I'd love to hear all about it!             

"Our society is so caught up in winning, we forget that most of the great men and women in history have, at one time or another, failed at something.  Often repeatedly, and discouragingly.  But each failure is nothing more than a brick in the wall that forms the foundation of our success.  We can't forget that." - Carlton Young

Jewelry Making Video Library Review

October 20, 2009

In one of my first posts I mentioned www.jewelrymakingprofessor.com.  Here I'd like to spell out a few of the site's highlights:

  • Free Quick Start Video Guide: Class #1: Tools & Techniques; Class #2: Stringing a Bead Necklace
  • Free online beading and jewelry patterns
  • Videos on Demand, 15 total,  for $7.95 each (today's price)
  • Membership Program for $8.95 a month, cancel anytime
As a beginner, I found the two free Quick Start Video Guide videos to be very informative and helpful.  The founder, Eri Atteberry, is very thorough in her explanations.  And the videos themselves are easy to follow.  If you check out the site please comment back and let me know what you think.  Are there any good videos out there that you want to share?  Bring them on!  I can't wait to hear from you.  Ciao for now.

"Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life."  Confucius

October Magazines' Jewelry Picks

October 18, 2009

Lucky Magazine has done it again.  Their October issue showcases some really fine jewelry.  I've picked out two sites that you can go to and browse to your heart's content.  The first is www.starsandinfinitedarkness.com. I went straight to their bracelets (surprise) and found lots to love.  I have to say that cuff bracelets are very much the trend today.  If you like cuffs, there's one for every taste at this online boutique.       

My faves were the "Squeezed Chain" line of bracelets by wear-and-tear, the "grateful" bracelet by pequitobum (very vintage-inspired, loved it!) and the "mixed media: the bracelet, in passion" by Steel Couture for $60.00.  When I tried to download all of their earrings my computer almost exploded -- they have SO MANY earrings.  Check it out.

Another line of jewelry touted by Lucky as trend-worthy is from the Mark beauty line from Avon at www.meetmark.com.  Their "Peak of Chic" necklace, for only $15.00, is exactly what I love  -- lariat, tassle, whatever you want to call it, it's made up of 3 chunky black chains and a strand of faceted smoky quartz beads.  There's also a few BIG cocktail rings (another trend these days) for only $14.00.  Last but not least there was a true "charm" bracelet, called "Drops of Rocks", which is chock-full-o'black and tortoiseshell beads.  You can snag it for 12 bucks.   

I've tried to no avail to add a photo tonight but my computer's not cooperating.  Guess I'll take that as a sign for me to be done here and relax a bit before it's time to get up and do it again tomorrow.  Ciao for now.

Restyled Vintage

October 17, 2009

So here is another piece of vintage jewelry I received gratis from a friend.  It's actually one half of a pair of dangle earrings.  There are nine "coins" imprinted with the head of Julius Caesar and 11 teardrop-shaped black beads.  Each individual piece is hanging from its own chain.   I saw it more as a necklace, or the beginning of a necklace, anyway, and placed it on a gold chain to get an idea of what it would be like as something other than an earring.  As much as I like it, I feel that it needs something more.  Any ideas?  The good news is that there is yet another earring I can use to create another necklace after this one!  Whether or not they'll be the same I don't know.  But I do know that they have potential.

On another note, the final lot of A Charming Exchange's (www.justsimplycharming.blogspot.com) jewelry has been listed in the ebay auction benefitting Susan G. Komen for the Cure.  Go to the auction site and bid before it's too late! 

Please follow this link to bid: http://shop.ebay.com/english_dixie/m.html?_nkw=&_armrs=1&_from=&_ipg=

There are SO many great and unique pieces to bid on.  And all of the money is going to fund the fight against breast cancer.  Thanks for your support.  Ciao for now.

Fall Frolic

October 16, 2009

Here is the autumn-inspired charm bracelet I mentioned in a blog post weeks ago -- I finally took a picture of it.

For obvious reasons, I loaded the charm bracelet with the quintessential elements of Fall -- acorns and leaves.  I'm wearing it every day now as we're in the middle of Fall big time.

On another (totally different) note, I just finished my first Irish Dance charm bracelet.   

I know the picture leaves much to be desired but I was happy with the bracelet.  I mean, Irish dance charms aren't exactly common or easy to find.  This bracelet has a sterling silver celtic cross, a soft shoe, a claddaugh, an Irish dancer, a horseshoe and a four leaf clover.  I filled it out with green glass beads.  I'll be wearing it to my girls' next feis in McCook, Illinois on Halloween.   I'm hoping to find a few other moms who might be interested as well ....if you're a feisanna mama like me or just someone of the Irish persuasion who likes Irish-themed jewelry, leave me a note.

Time to put the kids to bed.  Looking forward to a fun Fall weekend.  Ciao.   

Moon Over Miami

October 14, 2009

Ok, so I'm dreaming of the beach, again.  I made this one last night.  It's made with gold-plated beachy charms as well as some gold and pearl beads I got from an old pair of barn sale earrings.  It's hard to see the beads in the picture but they worked pretty well.  And yes, I added the sand this time:)  Now, I know you've all been waiting for this.....

WORD OF THE WEEKCan you say "Vermeil?"  I thought I could, but I was wrong.  I thought it was pronounced "ver-meal" but it's actually "ver-MAY."  Very French.  So, what is it?  According to our friends at Wikipedia, they describe vermeil as a French word which came into use in the English language, mostly in America in the 19th century, as an alternative for the term "silver-gilt."  It is a combination of sterling silver, gold and other precious metals.

To be considered vemeil, the gold must be at least 10 carat (42%) and be at least 2.5 micrometres thick.  In the U.S., sterling silver covered with a base metal (such as nickel) and plated with gold cannot be sold as vermeil without disclosing that it contains base metal.

PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS: Vermeil is a more expensive version of gold plated jewelry.  It wears off less than gold plated pieces, but the price is considerably higher.  And be aware that althought the sterling silver layer is covered with gold, it might tarnish and darken the gold layer.

Some cool trivia about vermeil you can amaze your friends with: the White House has a collection of vermeil tableware kept on display (when not in use) in the  -- what else -- the Vermeil Room.

You may have noticed my blog page's facelift.  I'm still struggling with the techno side of blogging but I'll get there.  Bear with me and don't be surprised to find other changes over the next few weeks as I stumble my way through this.  Time for afternoon mom duty -- bus stops, car lines, homework, and dinner followed by  nightly bedtime rituals. As hard as the job is sometimes, it is still the most awesome job in the world.  Ciao. 

Favorite art blog and charity auction for Susan G. Komen for the Cure

October 11, 2009

Fall is here.  At least in Chicago, anyway.  It was 26 degrees this morning!  The wind howls, the rain comes down and the leaves are falling.  I can't wait for our full fall foliage -- it's one of my favorite things.  It'll be here soon enough.

I am very excited to share with you a book and blog I am thrilled to have found.  The book is entitled "A Charming Exchange" by Ruth Rae and Kelly Snelling. Man, do they love charms!  Mixed media, vintage, restyling, bracelets, necklaces.....you have to see it to believe it.  I was in heaven.  Check it out.  Even better, Ruth Rae's blog, http://www.ruthrae.blogspot.com/ showcases Ruth's Mixed Media Jewelry and Fabric Art.  I am in such awe of her talent. 

Most importantly, today I wanted to share with you some information about a charity auction of jewelry from "A Charming Exchange" to raise money for Susan G. Komen for the Cure.  There are currently 10 pieces to bid on, and new pieces will also be added throughout the month of October.  The jewelry is fantastic and your money will go to fight breast cancer and support the brave women who are battling against it. 

Here's a picture of my mom circa 1942 when she was about 18 years old.  She lived as a breast cancer survivor for 20 years. 

Please follow this link to bid: http://shop.ebay.com/english_dixie/m.html?_nkw=&_armrs=1&_from=&_ipg=

Thank you for your suppport!


Surprise Vintage

October 9, 2009

I love getting packages in the mail (brown paper packages tied up with string......).  I love it even more when the package contains something special.  Today I received a package from a dear friend that blew me away.  She sent me some vintage jewelry pieces that I couldn't have chosen better for myself.  My absolute favorite is highlighted below. 

I'm not sure how old it is but I'm guessing it's in at least the 30 to 40-year-old range.  And the silver filigree ball charms are exactly like what I'm using today for my tassle necklaces!  Wish I could take a better picture so you could really see and appreciate the details.  There are silver wreaths, diamonds, and love bird charms.  I love this charm bracelet!

The rest of the stuff she sent me is chock-full-o' great charms and gems and ideas....we'll see what happens with it all.  I can't wait to find out.  Thanks, friend, for some fabulous finds. 

Comment and let me know what you think of what I'm going to call "Love Birds and Lace".  Ciao. 

Gidget Goes Hawaiian

October 8, 2009

I finished another charm bracelet last night -- I'm calling it "Gidget Goes Hawaiian".  In part it's because I want the bracelet to remind its' wearer of the beach.  But it's also because I think the name is pretty funny:)

The charms are vintage inspired and obviously of the sea.  I added three different colored Mop coins for effect because they remind me of shells that my kids and I collect on the beach.  Jersey shore to be exact --  our perfect vacation.  Anyway, here's one more view.

The pictures are lame, I know.  My daughter had a great idea -- she recommended that I place the bracelet on a bed of sand -- which we have, by the way, from --you guessed it -- the Jersey Shore.  If only I had listened to her.....My next sea-themed bracelet will definitely hit the sand for photos.

My creative juices have been flowing and I'm starting to create more stuff rather than just design it in my head.  It's probably because I REALLY want to start an Etsy site but I need an inventory of jewelry first before I can commit myself to creating the site.  If any of you have an Etsy site please let me know how you got started.  I'm flying by the seat of my pants here.....

Well, it's late and my husband is luring me away with the promise of tonight's Tivo'd Grey's Anatomy.  No brainer.  Ciao for now.


More Sites to See For Ideas and Glam

October 6, 2009

First let me comment on my Christmas charm bracelet I mentioned in yesterday's post.  You'll totally have to forgive the rudimentary (and that's being kind) style of the photos I've been posting.  Techniques for taking good web photos are a whole other can of worms I'll have to open up and suffer through some day soon.  But for now, it is what is it.  Ta da.

It's a vintage inspired silver plated bracelet and charms, along with some epoxy charms which really give it a vintage feel -- Santa and his pack, two little Victorian girls, holly and Santa's sleigh.  Besides the epoxy charms I really love the simple charm with "25" on it in red.  It's a simple design reminiscent of much simpler times.    

OK, now on to some great jewelry sites not only for their design ideas but for the pure fun of it! Janna Conner is a popular designer that I really like.  Her site,  www.Jannaconner.com, currently has four trendy bracelets that I love:  the Gold Plate Biba Bracelet, the Gold Plate Ribbon Bracelet, the Gold Dax bracelet and the Adina bracelet.  The Adina bracelet happens to be the only true charm bracelet in her collection. It's clear from her designs as well as many other artists' designs that multi-strand bracelets are very in right now.  The bracelets I've mentioned have either 3 or 5 strands.  It's a look I really love.  The bracelet prices ranged from $75.00 to $192.00.   A little steep for me, but maybe worth the splurge.  And you know I'll be trying to emulate her style very soon.

In contrast to Janna Conner's prices I stumbled upon a site, www.pinkice.com, which had amazingly reasonable prices for trendy costume jewely.  I loved the multi-layer chained link bracelet for $9.99, the Bold Statement Hang Gem necklace for $19.99 and the Lucky Shoot charm bracelet for $17.99.  Lucky Shoot is 9 inches long with 7 charms and a toggle clasp.  You need to check out these sites and let me know what you think of the designs.

Me, I'm on to more web research and hopefully some hands-on jewelry making before the night is through.  Ciao for now.


What's a charm bracelet-making diva to do?

October 5, 2009

I'm tired but I wanted to share my frustration with you over something I talked about in my very first post: Information overload.  Tonight I have scoured the internet covering such topics as fairy dust (I'll explain later), silver plated versus sterling, wholesale silver sites (gaping hole when it comes to charms) and some commercial websites which allow me to follow the trends in hip jewelry design.  This stuff takes hours at a minimum and even then not all stones have been unturned.  I'm exhausted.  My goal is to narrow it down to a manageable number of valuable internet resources which I can then share with you.  I'll let you know when I get that going for me.   

Now that I'm done with the kvetching (spelling, anyone?), I wanted to share with you a cool site  -- www.shanalogic.com..   I found some trendy inexpensive jewelry there.  My fave was from designer Brigitte Coovert.  Her mini skull cameo necklace is quite trendy and apropos as well --  what with Halloween just around the corner.  I also liked her Fairy's Orb necklace and antique birdcage earrings.  You should check it out and share your views.

Lastly, I've created yet another holiday charm bracelet.  It's a vintage-inspired Christmas charm bracelet.  I love it, but the question remains -- how marketable is holiday jewelry?  I don't know the answer to that yet.  Regardless, I'll continue making holiday-themed (or any-themed for that matter) charm bracelets because it makes me happy.  Tomorrow I hope to share with you a picture of the Christmas bracelet.  Please check back and let me know what you think.  Ciao for now.      

Time to Tassle

October 3, 2009

Ok, so here's the tassle necklace I just finished.  I based the design on a ready-made one I found at Michael's Crafts. The round silver pendant on the left is from Jill MacKay's collection.  I added black and white pearls and black and silver beads to round it out.  It looks kind of bulky in the picture but it's actually quite a light and delicate piece.  I love wearing it with turtlenecks.  It looks great with turtlenecks or any collared shirt for that matter (especially fitted button-down oxfords left open at the top -- the tassle hangs beautifully over the outside of the shirt).  I'm loving wearing it and plan on making quite a few more with other Jill MacKay pendants combined with silver and pearls.

Silver Fantasy?

October 2, 2009

Tonight I found a great site for sterling silver charms- www.silverfantasy.com. They have a varied selection of silver charms at very reasonable prices.  I have to confess that I love it not only for its diversity of charms, but also for the fact that it carries Irish dancer charms, Irish dance soft shoe charms and other celtic-themed pretty cool charms.  I realize that these charms only appeal to a small section of the charm bracelet-making population, but I was psyched to find them.  I'm hoping that there are other feisanna mamas out there who'll be interested in buying an Irish dance charm bracelet.  My girls' next feis is the Mullane-Healy-O'Brien Halloween Feis in Chicago which takes place on (you guessed it) Halloween.  They get to wear costumes!  It's a rare occasion that they are allowed to dance in anything other than their Irish dance dresses.  It should be fun.

Now on to more mainstream topics......There is a jewelry designer I love named Jill MacKay.  She has a collection out there that is distributed by Darice, Inc. and is sold (I believe) exclusively by Michael's.  It's called (surprise) The Jill MacKay Collection.  It consists of sterling silver plated adornments as well as leather look necklaces ripe for adding her signature pendants onto them.  I checked with the Darice website and they only sell her items wholesale -- i.e., to Michael's.  So it looks as though we're limited to buying her designs through retail.  They were inexpensive, costing around $4.00 a piece.

It's too late to add a photo tonight (they haven't been put onto the computer yet).  But I will add a photo tomorrow of a necklace I've designed that is grounded in Jill MacKay's stuff.  It's a tassle necklace (that's what I call it) and I really love it.  Any designers you really love?  Let me know so that I can check them out.  Well, Irish dance class comes early on Saturday mornings.......so ciao for now.              
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