Ring... Take Two

After my first silversmithing class at Brookfield Craft Center where I created a bezel set ring, I was so excited to get back in the jewelry studio that I signed up for another class. This time was with a different instructor and a slightly different project. We were still creating a ring (and hopefully additional projects if there was time) but this time we were using different methods. Not to mention, just taking a class with a different instructor, I knew I was sure to learn different techniques for accomplishing some of the same tasks. I always think it’s great to learn from a variety of people. You take what you want from each person, find what works for you, and then make it your own. I knew this was a chance to improve upon what I already learned - and most importantly to get more “torch time”!!! Once you get the hang of soldering, it just very well may be the most exciting part of making jewelry… or maybe it’s pulling your piece out of the tumbler all shiny and bright. 

Finished Ring

Anyways, it turned out that the techniques used to make this ring were very different than the first. Instead of a thick and simple metal band cut from pre-shaped metal wire, we got to design the width, shape and texture of this one. In addition, on my first ring, I actually made the bezel setting versus this ring where I used a pre-made bezel setting. I decided to create a wide band and did some hammering. I then cut, filed and soldered it together, shaped it on the mandral, etc. After that, I soldered the pre-made bezel setting onto the band and then set the stone. I’ll admit, I can definitely use more practice in setting stones - it’s way harder than it seems. In any case… by using the pre-made bezel setting, and already having some experience with the tools and torch, I was quite efficient with my time and was able to go on to create a finished pendant as well (future post!!!)… and another pendant, which hopefully one day I’ll get around to finishing - unfortunately it still needs some fine tune sanding and another round in the tumbler.

After soldering and shaping on mandrel (Left); After filing to smooth soldered seam (Center); Bezel setting soldered on before setting stone (Right).  

Full Circle

I love those moments in life when you can look back and realize that you were meant to meet a specific person at some very specific moment in time… and know that through meeting that person, your life took a course that it may not have otherwise. And not only that but they were a bigger puzzle piece of your life than they maybe even realize. It’s interesting how we may never know how we touch another person’s life. And, if we don’t keep our eyes and hearts open, we may not realize how much someone else has impacted our own life.

A few years ago, Justin, Myla and I, headed downtown to a Summerfest celebration where there were various vendors, activities for the kids and sidewalk sales. I had spent some time looking at this one vendor’s handmade, custom jewelry - her name is Erin De Luca. It was all so beautiful. After a few minutes, we decided to make our way down to one of the kid activites taking place and the whole time I sat there, I told Justin that I was curious where she learned her craft because I really wanted to learn some of what she was able to do. I knew of a nearby craft school called Brookfield Craft Center - and even had some friends take classes there in years past. I had even looked into their classes a few times, but I found out that they didn’t receive enough funding to keep the school going and were in a holding pattern until things turned around.

Through talking about Erin’s jewelry with Justin (who was urging me to go back and ask her about her educational background) I told him I was thinking about a little “M” pendant I saw at her table and I knew I had to go back and get it - to represent Myla so I could always keep her close to my heart. I did go back to buy the pendant, but for some reason I couldn’t bring myself to start asking her a bunch of questions. I sort of felt like a weirdo if I did and as I’ve mentioned before, I can be pretty awkward sometimes.

A few months after Summerfest is when we lost our baby and if you read my post back then, you will know that I had a special pendant created. I had kept Erin’s business card and reached out to her about making it. We met at a local coffee shop to go over the design - she was truly so sweet and was happy to be working on this special piece. Even by then, I still hadn’t worked up the nerve to ask her anything that I had been curious about concerning silversmithing and jewelry making.

Fast forward another few months, I get notified that Brookfield Craft is holding an Open House to view some of the instructors practicing their craft - everything from wood turning, blacksmithing, silversmithing, weaving, glass fusing, pottery, etc. The school was working on a new schedule of classes and I was so excited to go check it out. It turned out that Erin was one of the instructors showcasing some silversmithing techniques that day in the jewelry studio. It was a pretty awesome feeling to walk in and say hello and also to share the news with her that I was pregnant (with Maddox). We talked that day about me taking a class with her and we kept in touch up until class started to figure out the safety precautions I should take (including what breathing ventilation mask and filters that I should wear) to protect the baby. She was so helpful both before and during the class - and very inspiring. In an odd way, taking the silversmithing class with her was also a part of my healing process and I felt it brought me full circle back to a place of being OK and being inspired to do “more” again. 

So, as for the project I worked on… I created a bezel set ring. I took many pictures along the way as I felt the process was truly amazing. To take straight pieces of wire, flat sheets of silver and a stone - and work to cut, saw, anneal, bend, hammer, solder, pickle, file, set, polish - it’s just such an exciting process and a huge jump from the beading projects I was so into. Creating pieces completely from scratch allowed for so many more possibilities. 

Here are some pics I took of the process. I missed some steps but it’s so cool to look at how rough pieces of metal can be worked into something beautiful… and with my own two hands.

(Top Left) Ring I made from straight silver wire - soldered, filed, sanded and then shaped on mandrel. (Top Middle) The beginning of the bezel setting that wraps around the stone made from fine silver, thin metal strips. (Top Right) The soldered bezel ring sitting on a flat sheet of silver, soon to be soldered together. (Middle Row) Process of creating bezel setting once soldered and then sawed and then filed smooth. (Bottom Left) You can see how smooth it is after filing and sanding. (Bottom Middle) View of crescent moon shapes I sawed into bottom of bezel. (Bottom Right) View of ring band from top left image soldered onto bezel setting. 

View of completed ring once stone was set in bezel.

For My Friends

It’s been weeks since I’ve shared my last project, but trust me it’s been for good reason. I’ll share the big project I’ve been hard at work on soon. But for now, I just want to talk about friends, and for how grateful I am for the ones I’m surrounded with.

Almost 7 months ago I dealt with what was quite possibly the hardest thing I’ve ever have to deal with in my life. It’s something I continue to struggle with and think about on a daily, if not, hourly basis. I’ve come to terms with the fact that it is something I will NEVER forget - And that’s ok, as it’s something I don’t want to forget. Many people sent me thoughtful words and I appreciate them all. But, if it wasn’t for seven particular, absolutely wonderful, ladies, (and of course my hubby and family too) I’m not sure I would have accepted what happened as quickly as I have and ultimately be in such a good place today.

These seven ladies reached out and opened the way for me to talk with them about what happened. Talking was something I soon realized I really had to do, and do often, to whoever wanted to listen BUT ALSO who was willing to really hear me. 

One friend checked in on almost a daily basis asking how I was feeling “today” - I walked her through my daily ups and downs, which soon turned into weekly ups and downs. Eventually I was able to say “today, I’m doing good” and carry on the conversation about other things in life. One thing I learned from this experience, was that I needed people to invite me to talk. Not only this friend, but others asked each time they saw me, or more importantly, consistently reached out or called me. There’s not a bigger invite to talk about something than a phone call or face-to-face where someone says, “I’m here, I’m listening, now talk to me”.  

A couple of other friends brought me small gifts (magazines, chocolate, tea) - they told me to take some time out for myself. This became another lesson learned. Sometimes, it was best for me to just hide out for a bit and allow myself to feel and grieve. Being told to do this, let me know it was OK to just step away from the daily grind for awhile and not feel guilty. 

These friends and a few more shared personal stories of similar situations. They made me feel like I wasn’t alone, helped me sort out of my feelings, and let me know what I was feeling was normal and OK… and that it WOULD get easier, but also, that I would NEVER forget. “Never forgetting” - another lesson learned and important thing to remember many times throughout life. Knowing you will never forget can help you accept what has happened and give you the strength to move forward.

As a way to say “thank you” to them, I made them each a jasper pendant necklace. Last year at the Oyster Festival in Norwalk, CT, I met a jewelry maker who used jasper stones in his pieces which inspired me to create these necklaces. Each stone varies from a beautiful and simple blue to deep blue with lots of dramatic brown/tan veining as pictured below. I made two styles (large rectangle and small oval) and chose the style and pattern for each friend based on their personality, as each of them is unique and I wanted their necklaces to be as well. 

So, to you ladies: Thank you and I love you. You’ve helped me heal and your words and actions, both big, small and in-between have touched me in a way that I will never forget. And, I most certainly will NEVER forget YOU. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I hope the necklaces I have given you will serve as a reminder that small actions can have huge and lasting impacts. I hope to one day do for someone else, what you've all done for me. Hugs to you all!

Long Necklace, Short Rant

This week I’ve been dabbling back in my jewelry after taking quite a long break while I worked on other types of projects for our home and Myla. I haven’t quite created anything yet as I’ve been a tad bit busy this week. I’ve basically just been laying out beads in different patterns, playing with wire, and deciding what other components I need to search out - that’s if and when I get little snippets of “me” time. 

So why haven’t I had much “me” time recently? Not only has Myla been fighting naps (which she clearly still needs), but the other day SHE DECIDED she wanted to start potty training. I was planning on holding off until the warmer weather came (play outside and let the accidents happen where they are easier to clean up). Over the past several weeks, maybe even months by now, she has insisted on wearing panties. But since I wasn’t ready, I would always convince her to put a diaper back on after a few hours. Well, that didn’t work this time. After taking about 10 pairs of panties to bed with her Monday night (on top of the 10 stuffed animals and 10 books she insists on sleeping with) she woke up proclaiming she was wearing panties now. I've tried offering up diapers several times... nope. Well, alright then Miss Myla - we’re gonna give it a go. So far, she has amazed me. But, I’m still not sure how all this is going to work out since if I ever suggest ANYTHING, let alone trying the potty before leaving the house, I get a resounding “NO” in return. Just HOW DO YOU get a strong-willed toddler to believe it’s THEIR idea to TRY going potty before leaving the house, or taking a nap, etc?

Potty training rant over.

So, while I don’t have a recent jewelry creation to share with you, here is a necklace I made a while back. I was inspired by a friend’s necklace I saw which was very, very long - and I thought, how cool… It could be be worn doubled up, tripled up, or even as one very long, single strand necklace (which would end past the waistline). And well, I wanted one too. I still had plenty of green pearls to use on this piece as I only used two on the last vintage inspired necklace I had made. I also had some very light green/silver pearls as well as a string of blue to yellow hued, green-toned stones. I created beaded links and joined them with long lengths of chain in between. A long, sparkly necklace like this looks great with a simple tunic or shirt. It can take a very casual piece of clothing and dress it up much better than most shorter necklaces.

All Good Things…

...must come to an end. No, no... I'm not ending my blog. Although, honestly, sometimes finding the time these days is difficult. I'm certainly not one of those moms who pretends like she has it all together. I'm quite the opposite. Myla's naps are shortening and her bedtime is becoming later. Between taking care of the house and a very demanding toddler, I'm left with little energy at the end of the day. My brain keeps spinning, but my body can't keep up. I suppose it's better to have a body that won't keep up than a brain that won't keep up. Ha.

Anyways, back to this project. Being on such a roll creating vintage-inspired jewelry like the tiered, amber glass bead set and multi-strand, coral necklace with pearl brooches… AND ABSOLUTELY LOVING the pearl set with offset antique gold flower I made, I decided to make one last necklace with some vintage appeal.  

I wanted to incorporate antique gold flowers again like the one I used on the pearl set. However, this time I tried for a symmetrical look. I used two smaller flowers and added small green pearls to the centers. Then strung green, glass seed beads for the multiple strands which are slightly tiered. I thought the chain worked wonderfully as its wider size gives it some substance. But, because of the thinness of the wire, it also has an airy feel which complements the delicate seed beads. I finished it off with an elegant and detailed hook closure.

Sadly, this was my last necklace that was vintage-inspired - for now anyways. I’ve still been making jewelry, but with inspiration pulled from elsewhere. So it’s not really the end, right? 

What Every Lady Should Own

Yes! Another jewelry post BUT I know some ladies will LOVE this one. This is also a continuation of my vintage-inspired designs after this necklace/earring set and this necklace/brooch set. After working to make the pearl brooches, I decided that I should make myself a pearl necklace and earring set. After all, there are some firm believers who say “every lady should own pearls” - and until now, I didn’t own any.

Perfectly round pearls are gorgeous - it’s true. But they are also the most thought of when thinking of pearls - and I’m typically not one to go with the grain. Every pearl is like a fingerprint, each one completely unique, and what better way to show that than using slightly odd-shaped pearls. For this necklace I decided to use potato pearls. Each of these pearls has a lot of character and reflect a luster all its own.

To create a pearl necklace with a vintage appeal, I found the antique gold flower which I felt would beautifully offset a tiered necklace and become a subtle focal point. Then I bought matching findings in the same finish. I also did a bit of searching to find the perfect clasp and earring hooks which add just enough extra detail to consider this a really special set - which has truly become my favorite.

A Return to Vintage Appeal

Two weeks ago I shared my Vintage Appeal post featuring a Multi-Strand, Beaded-Link and Chain Necklace and Earring Set I made. This was the start of my little venture into vintage style inspired jewelry. The next pieces I created led way for me to experiment a little. I wanted to create a statement necklace using several strands of coral/coral-like beads and accent the piece with silver - BUT I also wanted to add a removable brooch made of pearls. I had never even thought about making brooches before this idea came to mind - nevertheless figure out how to attach one to a necklace if so desired.

The first brooch I made (pictured lower left) was quite heavy as I used headpins to attach each bead to a perforated disc. For the next brooch, I tried a different approach using smaller pearls and wire which I “sewed” through the perforated disc. It turned out slightly less heavy than the first. Each disc was finished with a pin back. The pin back actually fits around two strands of the necklace. Although, honestly, it still doesn’t sit as well as I had hoped - perhaps I need to twist the strands of the necklace to get it all to hold in place better. In any case, the brooches turned out better than I had hoped and still look amazing with the necklace or on their own. I’ve been thinking of pairing them together (but separately) by trying the brooch on a small belt of a dress while wearing the necklace as is. Now I just need a reason to get dressed up. 

Vintage Appeal

If you saw my Back to Earthy post about the Wooden Pendant Necklace and Earring Set I created, then you might have seen me mention that I took a new design direction with my jewelry after finishing that set. Not sure what originally inspired this next piece. It might have been me thinking about the Blue Cluster Beaded Necklace I made for my sister-in-law (which I would have loved for myself too) or perhaps it had to do with the amber color glass beads I bought (just because I liked them) which reminded me of my grandmother's necklace. In either case, I started designing jewelry with a vintage appeal.

Since I was drawn to these glass amber color beads, I just bought them figuring I would think of something to do with them in the future. After much debating about what color findings would work best (silver - no, gold - no, black - maybe) and what style necklace would look best (funky strung beads, delicate wire linked), I bought some copper chain, clasps, jump rings, earring wires and eye pins. I created the beaded links using a clear seed bead on each side of the amber color bead. Making each strand of beads slightly longer than the next and adding strings of chain between, I gathered each side with a jump ring and used a small length of chain to connect to the lobster clasp. 

To complement the necklace, I made the earrings with a small length of chain, amber bead, and seed bead on a copper earring wire. I absolutely love this set - just wish I had more clothes to wear it with. Somehow my wardrobe has turned slowly into jeans and simple t-shirts since my days of staying at home. And although this does look beautiful with a heathered-brown tee that I have, it just doesn’t do it justice. Time for a shopping spree? Yes, please!

Back to Earthy

This week’s post will be short. I’m actually looking into preschools for Myla… yes, preschool, which has consumed a good portion of my free time this past week. I know it feels strange for most moms to be looking so soon but preschools are holding open houses this month and registration fills up before summer. Yikes! It’s even stranger to feel like you JUST celebrated your child’s second birthday - and in Myla’s case, we pretty much just did. Gotta love those late birthdays.

Anyways, a few days ago I took a little break from the preschool research madness and drew during Myla’s nap. I ended up drawing trees… No matter how far off I stray in any designerly direction, I always find myself centering back on earthy subjects which reminded me of this necklace. I created it after working a lot with beaded wire links and making what I consider “fancier” jewelry. After completing this necklace, I took a whole new design direction for jewelry which you’ll see in the coming weeks.

Made of a large wooden pendant, carved wood and green glass beads, and finished with tiny silver spacers and a silver magnetic clasp (great for chunky necklaces and for toddlers who like to pull on jewelry) this pretty much screams earthy, peace, and tranquility. Paired with simple green glass bead earrings.

Getting Back to "Me"

This post will be short and sweet… between the roller coaster of emotions these past few weeks, the craziness of the holidays upon us, the fact that we took away Myla’s pacifier (cold turkey) a week and half ago making it difficult for her (or is it difficult for me?) to go down for a nap and at night, I’ve decided to let her just stay up today to see what happens. I’m just going to throw all the rules about toddlers and naps out the window today. Perhaps I’ll put a movie on shortly and close my own eyes for bit with the hope of her closing hers. 

Anyways, although the holidays are exciting they will still be difficult this year. I hate to admit it, but a part of me is looking forward to getting back to a simpler life - no party planning, no holiday planning, and no gift shopping. I’m really looking forward to getting back to doing something just for me… like making jewelry (and painting too - I’ve been beyond moved to start painting again). Between all the projects for Myla over the past number of weeks (can’t forget about moving into a new house too), I’ve really neglected my jewelry - although I’m inspired and can’t wait to get creating again.

So in the meantime, here’s a necklace and earring set I created earlier this year. I was still working with wire and experimenting with creating beaded links. I also tried something new with the long eyepins for the earrings, letting the wire serve as part of the design, while just using a few beads on the end.

Consequences of Sharing

My daughter has so generously shared her latest cold with me through lots of snuggles and sloppy kisses… leaving me with lots of sniffles and headaches and little energy to do anything… such as blogging. Hence, the shortened post this week. I had a few fall projects I was hoping to get to and hoping to share with everyone, but between moving and getting settled (which is taking a whole lot longer than I anticipated) and now being sick, it's all just going to have to wait. Sigh. It's funny how before kids I felt like a super hero, hardly ever catching a cold and never even thinking about getting the flu shot. Funny how priorities change. 

Therefore, due to my lack of energy, I'm sharing this jewelry project I created for myself. I took a break from the chains and wires I had been experimenting with and created a slip-on (non-clasp) necklace out of dyed mother-of-pearl beads strung with metallic crystals, glass beads and tiny silver spacers. Plus, of course, I had to make matching earrings. This set looks nice with dressier outfits and also works great dressing up a basic tee.

Now it's time for this momma to rest. 

Finding Time

Sometimes I'm asked how I have time to craft and blog. Honestly, I'm not sure seeing that I stay at home with a very demanding toddler. And yes, I know that ALL toddlers are demanding. I once read that the average toddler needs their mother approximately once every 4 minutes. In Myla's case, it seems to be much more and at a different level. I used to look at other mothers enviously as their child would hang out in a pack 'n play, or sit quietly in a shopping cart, or entertain themselves for long periods of time at home (or at least what's considered "long" in baby/toddler time) just so the mother can get a few errands or chores done. But not Myla… she's high energy and very intense. Even after talking with our pediatrician, he said her personality is more typical of what you see in a second child, not a first… and that a child like her is difficult to parent - she's just extremely strong-willed. He never quite said the words, but I've recently discovered information about the "Spirited Child" which is what I'm pretty sure he meant. I'll share more about that in a future post but what you should know for now is that Myla only recently became a good napper... approximately 3 months ago. Before that, she napped anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour tops - that pretty much gave me enough time to eat lunch, clean up and organize my thoughts. And since she rarely ever let me prepare dinner before Justin came home, it meant we started dinner late and ate late… cutting into whatever free time I had in the evening. Therefore, I had to find time and still do.

"Finding time" to me means having to break out of normal routines. It means giving up an evening of unwinding in front of the TV to work on my projects… and not that I don't want to craft or do artsy things, but it's so easy to fall into that routine of laying down on the couch and zoning out. It means giving up Candy Crush and cutting down on Facebook. Although, Myla's new napping habits have been extremely helpful in me recharging my batteries, getting some chores done and working on my blog or a project… but being a mom, even to an easy-going kid, means always having to find time. It's deciding to do the things that enrich your life or your child's life (or even the lives of others) and spending less time on those things that won't truly make a difference in anyone's life... which I know isn't always so easy. For me, it's a hard, conscience decision, always having to give myself a little kick in the butt to get moving.

Anyways, at this very moment, I need to find time. I've got lots of fun projects on my list which I've already begun but need to work on before Myla wakes from her nap. And, until they are ready to share with all of you, I will share another jewelry project instead. This project brings me back to last week's post, where I learned a lot about making and working with chains. Combine that with some inspiration from a similar style necklace I had seen in a magazine, here is one of my favorite necklace and earrings set. What I love about this piece, besides it being a calming blue (which boy do I need sometimes), is that it's not symmetrical but rather follows a pattern. When worn, there's no particular way it needs to sit and gives a unique look as there's no real focal point.

On a side note: Don't get me wrong when I talk about Myla being a lot to handle. Sure, she's intense and high energy making me physically and mentally exhausted each day… but I also love those things about her. It's those exact characteristics that I hope she learns to mold as she ages. It's her determination and strong-mindedness that I hope she uses to her advantage to get everything she wants out of life.

Changes and Chains

I took a little break from posting last week as life was a little hectic. To bring you up to speed if you don't talk with me on a daily basis: we sold our old house, bought a new one, moved in on a Saturday, and then headed out west just a few days later (Tuesday) to Las Vegas for a friend's wedding… without Myla. As if packing and moving isn't stressful enough, why not throw a mini-vaca on top of that, right? What probably made it even more stressful is that we were leaving Myla for the longest time yet, plus leaving her in a new house that she wasn't familiar with, PLUS leaving her with her Grammie that she doesn't see frequently. We had to unpack as much stuff as possible so the new house would be livable and pack what we needed for Las Vegas and the wedding. I tried connecting to wifi while out there, but after some frustrations with what the hotel actually considered their "free" wifi - I decided I needed a break and would hold off on posting. So anyways, you're probably wondering how Myla did without us and in the new house. Apparently, she's quite adaptable and had just about no issues. I swear, sometimes this whole parenting thing throws me for a loop - things I thought would be difficult (like this) aren't, and other things like diaper changes or getting into a carseat (things we do several times a day) have proven to be some of the biggest challenges of parenting for me. Sigh.

So getting back to it… Two weeks ago I wrote about the necklace I made for my "other" Mother-in-law. I wished I had more experience making and/or working with chains as I felt I could have made her a necklace that better fit her style. In addition, I bought a new dress last year which I wore to a Christmas party. I borrowed some jewelry from a friend as I didn't have anything that would work with the dress - it needed to be of a longer length and gold-toned, of which I owned nothing even remotely close. I figured this would be a good opportunity for me figure out this chain thing.

Since I didn't know where to start, I purchased a jewelry making kit - sometimes kits are the perfect place to begin when starting something new as they are usually fairly easy and can open your eyes to ideas you haven't thought of yet. The kit I bought included techniques for using pre-made chains in different ways as well as techniques for using eyepins to make chains… and earrings!!! I hadn't really realized at this point that I was only creating necklaces. When I saw how easy it was to make earrings (a million times easier than putting Myla into the carseat) and how much they added to an overall look - I became addicted to making matching earrings… as you'll soon see.

Here is a picture of the pieces I made from the jewelry making kit.

 

Since I now had some gold toned jewelry even though they weren't my "design" - I wanted to make a delicate silver necklace and earring set. I used eyepins and small crystals to create the chain. I then used round headpins to create the cluster of crystals that hang around the drop pendant. The earrings were also made with headpins and eyepins and were so fast and easy to make - it made me want to go back and create earrings for all the necklaces I had made until this point. I'll just add that to my ever-growing crafting to-do list… and get to it, one day.

Sharing Gifts

Store shelves are already stocked up with Halloween goodies. Thanksgiving and Christmas decor will soon follow… and then the onslaught of holiday advertisements, sales and shopping. Ugh! Don't get me wrong, I do look forward to the crisp, chilly air outside and warm, loving atmosphere inside sharing good food, good wine and good conversation with those I love. But holiday shopping, ey ey ey, that gives me anxiety. If I had it my way we'd pass on all that crazy shopping and spend more time gathering together in front of cozy fireplaces, drinking mulled wine. Throw in some chocolate and delicious pies too.

The one type of gift giving I do love though, is using my gift of creativity to make homemade gifts for others. A number of weeks back I wrote my Mommy Mission Statement and shared a Statement Necklace I created. When my mother-in-law was in town for Myla's birthday last year, she commented how much she loved it and at that moment, I knew what I'd be doing for Christmas gifts for the closest, loveliest ladies in my life: my mother, sister, mother-in-law, "other" mother-in-law, and sister-in-law. 

Each of these women have a unique and distinct personality - each whom I love dearly.

My Mother

Besides being my best friend, she's creative, artistic and loves all things earthy. She's into her herbs, making me Elderberry Syrup for the winter months, Nettles Iced Tea to help cleanse and detox the body, Milky Oat Thistle tea to help calm my anxiety (which I have way too much of… anxiety that is), herbal soaps, each with their own meaning and she's always sending me home with a variety of vitamins or herbs. Among many other earthy interests, she's also very in tune with stones and their healing properties which is why when I came across this pendant, I knew I had to have it for my mother. Since she doesn't like shorter necklaces, I decided to make it a longer length and keep with her color of choice: Black (also my choice). I added some silver and sparkly components as well - every lady loves a little bling.  

My Sister

Besides being an amazing aunt to Myla and a very loyal friend, she's the bit-of-an-oddball when it comes to our family - only because I consider my mother and I to be on the further end of the spectrum from normal. She's much more "normal" than my mother and I, but still has her unique style. She's not a high-maintenance girl who must have designer jewelry but she would probably never wear a huge chunk of amber around her neck like me. I guess I'd say she is "subtly different". She can wear silver or gold toned jewelry which is how I came upon this design. The glass pendant has bursts of gold set against black. This focal element strung with black beads, some with gold edging, and the gold-highlighted, clear beads and deep-orangey beads set between silver end caps make a beautiful necklace that can be worn with many outfits. If I'm not mistaken - this is her favorite necklace - so much so that she wants matching earrings which I'll be making her very soon.

My Mother-in-Law

Besides being a true Italian mother - always keeping our bellies stuffed - and being an awesome Grammie to Myla, she's fun and a little crazy like me - always willing to split a bottle of wine or get up and dance with me when there's music. She also certainly loves jewelry. On my wedding day, she brought a huge box of jewelry with her as she didn't know what to wear… it was hysterical watching her try on different things in the limo on our way to the ceremony - guess it helped keep my mind off the fact that I was about to be center-stage. She's the one who loved my multi-strand statement necklace and originally inspired all these gifts. She wears gold well and since she liked the multi-strand necklace, I wanted to make her something similar in style that would play off the colors that I know she would wear so well: gold and dark hues of brown, red, and orange.

My "Other" Mother-in-Law

Although she's Justin's "step-mother" and "Meemom" to Myla, she has always treated Justin like her own son and me like her own daughter. From our first Christmas together, she always made sure I had a stocking with my name like Justin and her daughter, Jamie, as well as a new set of pajamas like them too. Anyways, she's very much a classic and traditional type lady when it comes to jewelry. She wears lots of small pendants on chains and likes her pearls. I actually had the hardest time designing her necklace as I hadn't had much experience working with or making chains yet - although you'll see some of that in future blog posts. However, I managed to create this necklace with pearls, fancy silver spacers and a silver pendant. It's a nice cross of two traditional styles with a bit of a unique flair. Hopefully in the near future I'll create a necklace for her that fits her style even better. 

My Sister-in-Law

This was the most fun I had designing a necklace for someone other than myself… probably because she's a bit eccentric like me and certainly has her own unique style - sort of vintage/retro-y. Whenever I see a teal/turquoise color, I think of her. I believe it's her favorite color and she looks great in it. Therefore, when I spotted the blue glass beads, I knew I wanted them for her. I wanted to make a necklace with a vintage influence without totally looking vintage. I felt an offset cluster of beads in the same color family, accented with some silver beads would give just that style I was looking for. Designing this necklace gave me inspiration for vintage type jewelry I wanted to make for myself as you'll see in future posts.

Hopefully these gifts will help get you inspired to create something for those you love this coming holiday season. 

What's Old is New Again

If you've read through some of my other posts, you'll know that years ago my idea of making jewelry was stringing a pendant on to a black leather cord and tying it around my neck. One of those pendants is the shell flower seen below. I think one of the best things about jewelry making is being able to take old necklaces apart, either ones I've made before or vintage finds, and creating something new with them. And, it's so easy to change out clasps or other parts until I have the piece just right. Truthfully, there is still something about this piece that isn't quite right and I'll probably change it somewhere along the way - or take it completely apart. And that's perfectly ok - it's about experimenting. Sometimes the endless possibilities in making jewelry are extremely overwhelming and after finishing a piece, I suddenly have a million other ideas with the same beads I just used.

Anyways, if you've ever thought about getting into jewelry making, I highly encourage you to try. Find some beads you like, buy some wire, crimps and clasps and begin to play. You can always take it all apart and the most you'll lose is the crimps and maybe some wire. Everything else can be used for something new again.

Love You Like I Do - A Mommy Mission Statement

Right around the time Myla was born, there was a Facebook contest taking place for Mothers-to-be. The rules were simple: To write a 5-word inspiring message to your unborn child, on your preggo belly, and photograph it. Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to enter as I was planning to take the photo the day after Thanksgiving - which just so happened to be when Myla decided to make her appearance. If I had the opportunity, my message was going to be: Love You Like I Do 

This message is sort of like a mission statement. Since there are so many other values I'd like to instill into Myla and changes I'd like to see in myself to become a better mother and wife, I decided to create my own Mommy Mission Statement. Here is what I've come up with:

  • I promise to help Myla develop values that will be beneficial to her throughout her life:
  1. To be honest with others as well as herself.
  2. To be humble yet still confident.
  3. To be compassionate with humans and animals alike.
  4. To be happy and spread happiness.
  5. To be strong but know it's okay to cry.
  6. To be outspoken but always be willing to listen.
  7. To dream big but be content with what you have and who you are.
  8. To love herself as I love her.
  • I promise to be a teacher, playmate, dance partner, music maker, healthy chef, and best friend.

  • I promise to give lots of snuggles, cuddles, hugs and kisses every day.

And finally…

  • I promise to take care of myself, to continue to learn and grow, and to always do something for myself, all of which will allow me to better take care of my family.

Please share some of your mission statement ideas - I'd love to hear them.

Speaking of "Statements" - below is a Statement Necklace which I created around the time of Myla's first birthday. After receiving a compliment from my mother-in-law about how much she loved it, I began to think of Christmas gift ideas - I was really getting into "doing something for myself" as well as "bringing happiness to others". I'll share those creations in a future blog post.

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Girls Night Out

Oh, the excitement of the much needed girls night out - something I hadn't really appreciated as much before having a baby. I see it as the opportunity to use those nice clothes hanging in the back of the closet, and to wear a nice necklace, knowing a baby or toddler isn't eyeing it up, reaching out, grabbing a hold and tug, tug, tugging… I see it as a chance to immediately pass parenting duties off to my hubby as I get ready to go out. It's my chance to drive the fun car (my husbands) and play any music other than "toddler radio" on pandora really, really loud and sing to my heart's content. It also means not having to listen to the sound machine through the baby monitor as I drink a glass of wine… or two, or three. And of course, my turn to chat it up with some lovely ladies (some being fellow mommies) over some good food.

You may be wondering why a girls night out is so exciting to me. I rarely get away from Myla (which is by no means a bad thing - except maybe a little bad for my sanity)… I don't use a daycare since I'm home with her every day. I don't use sitters, except for my mother - and usually it's after Myla has gone to bed, or occasionally for an hour or so if I have an appointment. I'd say that I'm pretty much with her 24/7 - not sure if that's a good thing for either of us, but it is what it is. I don't really take time away on the weekends and leave her with Justin. Don't get me wrong, I have occasionally when I've gotten a massage or taken the dogs to the vet. And it's not because I feel he's incapable - he's actually quite an amazing father… but, I don't look at the weekend as my turn to have a break. You are probably thinking "well, what about when you and Justin have date night". Honestly, Justin and I don't have many date nights - they usually occur only when other events are happening, like us attending a wedding or perhaps a special occasion like a birthday. Again, it all comes back to me not wanting to leave Myla with anyone but family and me just not wanting to burden them. I have only myself to blame. Therefore, we tend to do a lot of fun dinners at home after Myla has gone to sleep, and we watch movies and drink some delicious wine (while listening to that baby monitor). So, when I see the words Girls Night Out or Mommies Night Out - I see a little bit of freedom and the chance to clear my ears of the sound machine.

This necklace is one of the first "fancy" necklaces I've made - a necklace to get dressed up with for a night out. And in my case… most likely a Girls Night Out.

Balance

My natural tendency to be drawn towards earthy stylings, combined with my new found love of "pretty" things, lead me to create this necklace - a necklace of earthy, "pretty" balance. It is truly one of my favorites as I feel it's totally "me" but more of an "evolved me" - an easy balance to find when making jewelry. Not so easy when finding balance in life… at least for me. And, even more so since becoming a mommy. As I mentioned in an earlier post, someone once gave me some parenting advice - about making sure to do something for myself… so I don't find myself lost one day when Myla has left the nest. For starters, I began this blog which has helped me focus energy into creating, crafting and blogging. And, I try to get to yoga class once a week… which is still a struggle. I know there isn't an answer out there, but I'd love to hear your balance story.

Pretty Things

Let me begin by saying that any mom who says the first few months with a new baby is easy has clearly forgotten or definitely has a warped sense of reality. Sure, I might have had a harder time than some, but just about everyone is faced with the unexpected somewhere along the way and most certainly a lack of sleep. Of course I experienced joy and happiness and pure love - my goodness, Myla is the most amazing little human being on this planet (at least in my eyes). But, I worried so much in the beginning - I never slept or rested and truly wore myself out. I felt like it was never going to get easier. Ah, the crazy things you think when you're so sleep deprived. There are certain things, simple things, that helped me feel better… like taking a shower and putting on some makeup each day (a true accomplishment for any new mom)… and eventually making some pretty things - for me.

Once I actually started venturing out of the house alone with Myla, I visited the bead shop. I had this vision of a necklace with large white beads - somewhat beach-y, "prettier" than what I've made before. I wanted it to be dressed up or down easily (let's face it, I was in no mind set to leave my baby with anyone and get all dolled up to go out). I found the perfect white beads and accented them with tiny champagne-colored glass beads and little silver spacers - I liked how they added that little touch of extra "pretty" to the piece. Soon I realized that I do like "pretty" things, and those pretty things, especially the ones I made, made me feel pretty… and less like a sluggish, spit-up covered, new mom. This piece, and the pretty things yet to come, also gave me something to be proud of and something else to focus on besides being "mommy".

Someone once gave me quite possibly the best "parenting" advice ever: "You don't want to be a stay-at-home mom without doing something for yourself. You don't want to wake up one day when your kids go off to college and find that you have nothing to do."

Wood Beads

I've always been into simple, earthy jewelry: amber, wood beads, and stone pendants on black leather cord. Rarely did I ever wear sparkly, dressy jewelry - as it didn't really match my lifestyle and I owned very little. I found the square wooden beads seen below and fell in love with them. I used the left over round wooden beads from my first necklaces and added some shiny black beads for an accent. This piece has turned into one of my most worn necklaces. It seems to match just about everything with the dark brown/black beads and it's simplicity.