Thursday, 30 August 2007

Nuturing talent in our children

Getting ready for spring shows makes my life so busy - filled with all the little things that need to be done after creating a piece - entering items in the stock book, photographing, tagging and so on which takes up a lot of hours - plus thinking ahead for 'what ifs' - what if this happens, what if I run out of this, what if, what if, what if. Of course the couple of days immediately before the show is pretty hectic too with packing and checking and making up boxes.....

But sometimes we have to remember that work is only one part of our lives. An important one - be it for monetary reasons or fulfilment of a creative need - but there is a huge part of our lives that involve family and loved ones and we really can't lose sight of that, although we all too often do. Reading this post on the She Essence blog rung a rather loud bell with me! Only a few days ago my son, age 9, stated that I was no 'fun' anymore - I didn't have 'time' to have 'fun'. Hello. Wake up call.

One thing I can do with my children, apart from the normal 'mum' things - looking after their needs and wants and keeping the home comfortable and welcoming for them, as well as instilling a sense of what is right and wrong, is to nuture their creative sides. Not everyone is creative in the same way but all my children love to draw and make things. They often see me sketching designs and so copy me, drawing their own designs. They always want to make a necklace or a bracelet and with skills they have learned from watching me at my bench, have made a ton of jewellery for themselves and their friends ... its almost a little scary when I look at their jewellery 'tree' (a commercial jewellery hanger/display that is almost as tall as them! - well as tall as my 6 year old girls, at any rate!).

Recently, my son really wanted to make a necklace out of some quite pricey stones. I was resistant at first, but he went off and drew a design which looked quite nice. He got some of my 'stone soup' stones (offcasts) and showed me what he wanted. So I agreed - I would do the actual 'making', but he got artistic input ;)

The piece pictured above is the result - it is made with smoky quartz and amethyst faceted nuggets. (I picked out the actual stones, but he 'approved' their placement/order). The stones are linked together with sterling silver forming a section of gemstone 'chain'. This section is in turn connected to sterling silver long and short chain (selected by the designer) with a plain sterling clasp at the back. He even chose the length. We even agreed on the name together. He really got a kick out of seeing his design come to reality and being part of my work.

I must admit I was pretty impressed with his work - we made a pact that he would get a percentage of the sale when it sells - so of course he is keen to make a sale!!! I think he may even have a future as a designer - what do you think?

Now, if I can work on organising myself a bit more so that I have more available time when the children are home, I may be on the way to achieving a good balance of home and work - meeting my needs (which as mum's we often overlook) and raising well adjusted children who still have fun with their parents!

Sunday, 26 August 2007

Confetti coloured pearls and some great Aussie shopping sites

I just realised that its father's day next weekend - eeek. And that I haven't got my father anything, so I'll be late, AGAIN. *insert much guilt icon here ;) * In desperation I hit the 'net trying to find something for him. He's not the easiest person to buy for - he is elderly now and can hardly see or get around. He used to love reading but is now confined to hearing-books and he pretty much needs round the clock care. Not easy, huh?
So, in my desperate search I found some brilliant sites after floudering around for a few hours....and most of them came from the wonderful shopping blog . I saw this site in its infancy when, in fact, I was featured on it. But haven't looked at it closely since. Well, what a great surprise when I looked further! Amongst the huge amount of sites there, one really appealed to me.... - the best gadgets/novelty items/gifts for someone who is quirky/has it all/is difficult to buy for. Things like a LED lit compact mirror, leather bound notebooks, wind up racing grannies and fighting grandpas, air powered water rockets, and even a tool kit in PINK! Needless to say, my dad is getting those wind up racing grannies- he'll get a giggle out of them! The other great site I found via mynewshinyshoes was . Obviously a babywear store but I fell in love with a beaut little bib with animals all over it that is really cute and unusual - and perfect for a new baby gift that I need to buy. I am also keeping in mind the riverstones that can be engraved with whatever you like. There are some in the picture saying 'hope', 'love', 'peace', 'trust', 'truth' and so on which really struck a chord with my mellow side. And finally there was - for something really unusual - like a ride in an ex-military jet! Cool!!!

Anyway, on to the piece for today! (A good match for the necklace the "flavour of summer" just the right, isn't it.....) Now pearls are a perennial favourite with almost everyone. I love their sheen and glow and the flattering light they cast onto your face. Perfection in the production of freshwater pearls from China and the resulting increase in such production, means that pearls are a lot more affordable and to make them even more appealing, they are treated into the most amazing variety of colours. The pearls are treated by either irradiation, dyed or bleached. Most freshwater pearls are treated in someway - the white ones are bleached, the coloured are dyed or irradiated, the natural coloured ones are soft peachy-lilac-apricot tones which are gorgeous too. The treatment is permanent and I wash all my pearls just in case, although from memory only one strand has ever had excess colour come from it.
The difference between freshwater pearls and 'cultured' pearls is that freshwater pearls, as the name implies, come from mussels that grow in freshwater and cultured come from oysters in salt water. The process of culturing however is much the same. Note that the treatment of coloured pearls does not apply to 'cultured' or naturally occurring saltwater pearls eg. black pearls do happen naturally.
The pair of earrings pictured above won't last long. They haven't been seen by anyone yet, so I can enjoy looking at them for a week or so before their first outing! I have made these by selecting a variety of bright, confetti colours in a variety of shapes and sizes. The bottom pearls are top drilled, so hang like briolette drops, and then each pearl above that has been wrapped securely with sterling silver to a delicate sterling silver chain. They will swing deliciously when worn and are such girly-girl colours that many people will be disappointed that they can't also have a pair! They take a surprising amount of time to make actually, so I'm glad I didn't decide to make more than one pair!!

Saturday, 25 August 2007

Malachite and an interview

Its still pretty chilly here with winter still hanging on, but there are some warmer moments (and flies!! already!!!) but a more springlike air is noticeable and this goes hand in hand with a renewed interest in jewellery by my clients.

I was interviewed by Indie Entrepreneur recently and the interview has just been published online. Check it out at . :) This is a great site with regular useful business tips and a weekly interview with an indie business/designer - which gives great insight into how we all work and design.

Today's piece is malachite, sterling silver and rock crystal quartz - a pretty combination isn't it? Malachite is a gorgeous stone - the wonderful orbicular patterns just scream to be admired. However it is a difficult stone to match other stones with - the rich, verdant green clashes with a lot of other colours until you think nothing is ever going to match it. But silver looks great with it and rock crystal quartz is such a complimentary stone that it does go with malachite, brilliantly.
Malachite is a relatively soft stone with a hardness of 3.5 to 4, so I confine my use as necklaces where it is unlikely to sustain knocks or rub against harder things that might scratch it over time. It has been used as decoration in jewellery and amulets by many cultures including ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman societies. As was the case with Lapis Lazuli, malachite was used a paint pigment and also ground up as eyeshadow.
Found in various localities, including Zaire, Australia, Chile, Namimbia, Zimbabwe and the USA. The Urals in Russia was the most important site for malachite at one period in history, with blocks over 20 tons being mined.
Metaphysically, malachite is considered a powerful stone that heals and protects. It encourages risk taking and change, draws out deep feelings and releases inhibitions. Also called the 'midwife stone' it facilitates childbirth and enhances the immune system.

Monday, 20 August 2007

New flyers and a bit of a ramble.

Woohoo! Today I received the flyers for Craftfest - the show I am participating in during October. Don't they look great! A bracelet of mine is pictured behind the 'c' :D. Thats two years in a row that I have had a picture on the flyer which means either a) my photography skills are up to par or b) I make nice jewellery that they just HAVE to feature ;)

I fell victim to the dreaded flu that is going around this part of the world at the moment so creativity has been a bit low for the last week or so. I have however got a few pieces done - a lovely necklace with holly blue chalcedony that has some druzy visible; a fun, bright mixed piece including calcite, coral, amethyst, angelite, onyx and rose quartz; a couple of real stunners in the more traditional jewellery style - one with blue topaz and one with amethyst.

Since I am getting ready for show 'season' I have made a gazillion pewter bookmarks - well it felt that many, but I think it was about 40 actually! Plus I have made some rather classy phone charms/handbag charms/zipper pulls, with a gemstone focal and a little sparkle provided by some Swarovski crystals. The bookmarks are a perennial favourite for a little gift that is a bit different and I usually sell a few of these at each show. I am hoping the charms will help fill that void a bit further and keep up interest being something a little different to the usual thing you see.

I was surfing around some local sites today and found one on Mudgee Wine Events ( . Mudgee is about 100km from me and my nearest 'big' town. I have quite a few clients from Mudgee - its a very pretty town that has grown a lot in recent years but has retained its rural roots. It is also a well known wine area and gets a lot of tourist trade. Anyway... I was perusing their site and was both excited and disappointed to see an Art & Craft Expo - advertised as an exhibition for local artists. OK, now I know I'm not IN Mudgee, but this is the first I have heard of this exhibition that is less than a month away. Living in a relatively small community you would think it would have received a bit of advertising, but alas no. We have virtually no venues for local artists and artisans, apart from single artist exhibitions at assorted galleries. To think a combined expo like this is happening and no-one knows about it is terribly disappointing. I wonder how many local artists and artisans don't know about it either? Definitely a case for improving communications don't you think?

Another site I found today via the Switchboards site is This is a great site that sells t-shirts with rock/gem related puns or sayings. Cute idea. Another wonderful thing the site is doing is "UnEarthing Kindness" where a decent % of the profit of sales from now until the end of September will go to earthquake relief in Peru. Way to go!!

Saturday, 11 August 2007

Spring Show Schedule

News on the show front for your diary:

5 August - Nyngan View Club, Workers Club, Nyngan, NSW.

I met some lovely ladies from Nyngan when I was exhibiting at the International Women's Day Luncheon in Dubbo back in February. They kindly invited me out and I am pleased to say I will be showing the ladies of the View Club my jewels! I will be going there with fellow Coolah dweller, Eleanor Cook, who is the current NSW Rural Woman of the Year. So Eleanor will be there to give them lots to think about and I will soothe those thoughts with pretty things ;).

9 August - Private showing, Coolah, NSW.

One of my best clients, Julie Williams, is hosting a private showing for her friends and it should be a great afternoon. I am really looking forward to it!

15 August - Merriwa Show, Showgrounds, Merriwa, NSW.

I will be exhibiting at the Merriwa Show this year. Unfortunately it clashes with the local fair at Coolah where I normally hold a childrens jewellery making stall, but my husband is stepping up to the fray and will be doing this for me (after a few lessons of course!) This will enable me to attend the Show in Merriwa and catch up with all my clients from that area who I haven't seen in almost a year.

28 August - Binnia Street, Coolah.

This is the official opening of the refurbished shire hall in Coolah which now houses a modern library, a community internet portal and a gym. Festivities are being planned and part of those include a street festival and fair. So I will be there with a small display.

19 October to 21 October - Craftfest, Ogishi Craft Centre, Lovedale, (Hunter Valley) NSW.

12 artisans will be presenting their work in a gallery atmosphere for 2 days - the same weekend as the Opera in the Vineyards. Exhibitors will be Alison Green - silkscreened fabrics, Kay Faulkener - handwoven textiles, Lance Hennessy -ceramic sculptures, Robin Phillips - silver, gold and enamel jewellery, Mark Jones - leather bags, Lynne Taylor - collaged fabric garments, Setsuko Ogishi - blown glass (I believe all of the above were exhibitors at the Lovedale Limited Edition Expo I did last year), Laraine Clements - scented items and clothing, Barbara Stephenson - slumped glass, Nicky Coady - studio pottery, Robyn McGain - quilts.
Pics: Middle: At Jazz at the Tops, Coolah, 2007; Bottom: At International Women's Day Luncheon, Dubbo, 2007; Top: At Lovedale Limited Edition Expo, Hunter Valley 2006

Friday, 10 August 2007

Lapis Lazuli & stocking up.

Ahhh, time marches on and I still don't post. Had a bit of a reorganise though and realised I can't have two blogs going since I don't have time to write in one! So this one won although it will be for everything now :)

All has been go, go, go here on the farm - we had rain, so things are green although it IS winter so it is a very short green. But its a good start and for us, at least, the drought is over.

I have been trying to get the spring/summer collection ready as my spring showings start in just under a month. Lots of new pieces featuring pearls, turquoise, fluorite, prehnite, rose quartz, pyrite, obsidian, garnet, coral, muscovite, tourmaline, aquamarine, malachite, lava, moss agate, and a lovely piece with lapis (see above). And of course since I can't resist it a couple of pieces in carnelian and agate/chalcedony/jasper of various types. I still have boxes of stones to make up (yes, been VERY naughty, but I just can't resist those gems!) - finding the time is the hardest part!

Now about the pictured piece.... isn't it just divine? In an earthy, goddess way of course! I have always had an attraction for lapis lazuli and this focal 'slab' has the desirable blue colour with lots of gold flecks of pyrite throughout. It really has an ancient feel so I have matched it to more lapis lazuli and lots of 12ct gold fill balls. Now don't you think an Egyptian queen would have liked it? Given the Egyptian and goddess connotations, it has been named after the ancient Egyptian personfication of the skies and heavens - "Nut".

Lapis Lazuli is actually composed of several minerals and has been used since prehistoric times for jewellery. Well known mining sites include Afghanistan, Russia, Chile, Angola, Myanmar, Canada, Pakistan and USA. The name is Arabic and Latin for "blue stone". Lapis was the source of the colour 'ultramarine' in medieval times (very expensive for paint!) and a powdered form of lapis was reportedly used by Cleopatra as an eyeshadow!

Metaphysically, Lapis has a powerful effect - stimulating enlightenment and enhancing psychic abilities, personal and spiritual power. It releases stress bring peace and serenity as well as honesty and compassion. In healing, Lapis allieviates migraines and headaches, overcomes depression and benefits the respiratory and nervous system, cleansing organs, blood and boosts the immune system. Improves hearing and assists with vertigo. For best metaphysical results it is best to be worn at the throat.


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