Saturday, December 12, 2009

Perusing Pins....

In both my personal and business arena, I have discovered brooches. I suppose I always associated them with older women, but now that I am 50+, they suddenly seem like a whole new jewelry option for me. My fascination really was sparked by the former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, and her book, Read My Pins, in which she talks about her pin collection.

Suddenly, I was going through my old jewelry box (and even my mother's), canvasing antique stores for vintage brooches, and designing pins in my head as I tried to fall asleep at night. Now that I have found the high-quality findings I had been looking for, I have created three fine silver pins - all from leaves I have picked on my walks with the dogs.

I even have several pins that my father gave my mother which I will, now, wear with great pride and lots of memories.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Want to be an Angel?

A cause near and dear to my heart is Soldiers’ Angels In essence, you are adopting a soldier while they are serving and “each Angel who adopts a soldier commits to sending at least one letter a week and at least one care package a month.” I had the pleasure of adopting a young woman in the Navy – what a treat it was to receive her emails and updates of what she was doing to serve our country. The website has many ways you can show your support of these young men and women who are fighting for us overseas if “adopting” does not appeal to you.

In addition, there is a woman here in Charlottesville who works tirelessly to aid our soldiers in combat situations. Her website is

OR you can simply send a veteran an e-card and let them know that they are not forgotten.

So many of our troops will need assistance once they have finished their tour of duty; helps with that process.

I feel guilty because I do not have a loved one serving and I cannot imagine how difficult it must be for those families. I do know several young men who are my sons' contemporaries who are overseas and I am eternally grateful for their service.

These are just a few of the many, many ways we can give back to these soldiers who have sacrificed so much for this country.

“May no soldier go unloved”....

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sparkle for the Holidays….

My new weakness is vintage rhinestones. As in a lot of my designs, I love to use antique findings – whether they are beads or clasps or pendants. The craftsmanship is unusually good and, for the most part, they are one-of-a-kind. The rhinestones give a subtle glitz to my jewelry …. just enough to make a sparkling, and affordable, statement.

It has always been my goal to, whenever possible, use a clasp that is a focal point. This is a vintage rhinestone clasp; you can’t even see where it closes.

Here are a pair of earrings that I bought to dismantle and use in several other pieces, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. They are perfect just as they are. I simply put them on sterling silver levers so that they couldn’t be lost.

Here’s another clasp – the coloring coordinated perfectly with these delicate creamy pearls…simply elegant.

I wanted to create distinctive look with this vintage necklace so I paired it with my favorite little egg-shell colored pearls. The antique coloring of the pearls suited the shimmering rhinestones so well. It is my goal to give my customers the most value possible and, in this case, here are three different “looks” – wearing them together or each separately. I am so pleased with how it turned out.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Virginia Rose Kane

I have thoroughly enjoyed the people I have “met” or “reconnected with” on this journey I have embarked on as I try to market my jewelry. Creating a LinkedIn page and a Facebook entry and a blog are a few avenues I have tried to follow in an attempt to gain exposure. The icing on the proverbial chocolate cake has been these great connections I have made as a result.

One such person has been Virginia Rose Kane. Her blog,, so inspires me that I wanted to share it. I’d think I’d died and gone to heaven to visit a place like The Smithsonian’s Naturalist Center
featured in her blog. We are kindred spirits, I believe…

Ever since I was little, I have been collecting treasures I found outside – a part of a robin’s egg, a really cool piece of drift wood on Manchester Beach, or a snail’s shell. My collection has grown thanks to the wonderful things my sons have given me over the years. I now have a great collection of birds’ nests and sea shells and feathers which I display in tables in my living room. This love of nature has translated itself into my jewelry – especially my PMC work. Spring can’t come soon enough so that I can gather new leaves to “paint” with the PMC paste or new flowers to mold so that I can string them with great pearls. My goal is to “immortalize” them before they wither away. I have so many plans to incorporate feathers and twigs into my pieces; I’ve already made a pure silver heart that was textured from a piece of bark.

In December, I visited the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History and I just wanted to hide in the Gem and Mineral exhibit after closing time so I could take my time and relish all those magnificent specimens. I am determined to find a way to incorporate such treasures into my creations; that steers me in another direction. I took my kids, when they were little, to a mine outside of Richmond (That’s the trouble with getting older…you forget names like that.) It was such fun as we “pan handled” our day away; we came back with buckets of rocks. I still have them and can just see the potential!

Virginia’s wonderful botanical creations are mind-blowing. Look at the detail – I love the hidden intricacies of it all. I even saw a shell stamp on one of her crocus creations that is part of my personal selection. Stamp collecting is a topic for another time…..

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Why buy handmade?

The more I am involved in creating jewelry, the more I am humbled by the artisans I come across every day. I have worked at the Barn Swallow for years and am honored to be a member of the Artisans Center of Virginia, so I have been exposed to the highest quality of craftsmanship possible. I know the struggles of trying to sell one's "art," not just financially but also emotionally, so I made a pledge to buy as much as I can that is "hand made" and I urge you to do the same. The site,, does a great job explaining why you should.

The Etsy Showcase is another very imaginative site with many, many pages dedicated solely to hand-crafted treasures. Several of us who show our work at the Barn Swallow also sell through Etsy. It is there that I read "a connection to the creator is part of the reward of buying handmade. Mass-produced pieces of art don’t have any meaning ." If you are giving your purchase as a gift, what better way to show your thoughtfulness than to give a one-of-a-kind piece of art (that IS what it is...a piece of art.) There is so much value in it for what you spend and you are helping to promote such an important way of life. I have several of my favorite "artists" featured on my "Links" page; take a minute to look at that - you might just find the source for the perfect gift - for yourself or that lucky recipient.

Bronze Clay

Ancient Greeks and Romans and Chinese used bronze for its durability and its beauty. Bronze clay enables me to do the same. As in my silver work, I am compelled by the simplicity and uniqueness of nature. I take great pride in the fact that each one of my pieces is one-of-a-kind; just like the flowers and shells that inspire me.

The snowflake blossom I used was one I picked along the path leading to the Barn Swallow last spring. I found the shell in the sand on Topsail Island in May and the "beach daisy"grew outside our beach house. See my bronze pieces at

I am amazed by the detail the bronze clay allows me to reflect – every vein, each petal, all that makes it true to life. The rich, lustrous, gleaming finish gives my bronze jewelry the elegance and extravagance of gold without the expense. I have worked in silver for so long that I am excited about the new color scheme that bronze leads me to.

I hope you will keep coming back to see what I have created with this new medium.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Marketing Struggles...

As an artisan, I struggle with how to market and sell my work. I don't think I am very good at it and try to read everything I can get my hands on to learn more about cutting edge ideas. Entrepreneur Magazine is a great source of information and inspiring ideas. Several people, whose opinion I value, have suggested that I not only create a Facebook page, but also place some videos about my work on YouTube. I am still working on those, but here is a draft of first video. Tell me what you think.....