Monday, March 29, 2010

In Over My Head?

Now that Abode is stocked up I have lifted my "no distractions" rule for the next several days to work on some personal jewelry projects and other various projects.

For Christmas my mother in law gave me the white gold from Mike's grandmas original wedding set. I want to do something really special with it considering how sentimental it is. One morning in Cancun I woke up with the idea to re-do my wedding set with it.

As much as I love my wedding set (pictured above) there are some practical (and not so practical) reasons I want to re-design it. The most practical reason for re-designing is that the center stone is tension set which is not a secure setting. I am surprised it has not fallen out in the 8+ years I've been wearing it. The jeweler said that the prongs are wearing very thin on the tops (even I can see that with my naked eye) and the stone is "about to fall out". Yikes! Needless to say I won't be wearing the engagement band much any more if that's the case. Some of the not so practical reasons for re-designing are that the setting is yellow gold. Like I mentioned, I chose the ring over 8 years ago, long before I started making jewelry myself. My taste has done a 180 since then. I don't care so much for yellow gold anymore and even though the setting is pretty, it's also pretty common. I want something that is unique and designed by me. Many people who know I make jewelry ask if I designed/made my ring...I want to be able to say "yes, I did".

I made several sketches and got really excited to start looking into it. Since then I have brought two rounds of sketches/ideas to a local jeweler to get some estimates and ask some questions. He has been really helpful, but it seems like no matter what I do it's going to cost a "pretty penny" to have someone else make it for me ($1300-$1500 to have it made, $275-$400 to make it myself, extra gold included). So, I resolved to do it myself. I have experience making wax molds and casting. But I don't have any casting equipment, nor do I know how to flush set princess cut stones (which I hear can be challenging). But I am confident in my skills and know I can do it, with some help and practice. I emailed my high school art teacher to see if he still has casting equipment up at the school...I hope he does and can help me with that. I figure I can always practice with silver and CZs first. And maybe even figure out how to make a mold of the band so I only have to carve it once. We'll see. I'm not in a rush to finish it but am anxious to at least start carving the molds.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Two Post Day

I need to post again for two reasons:
One - Kristi from Silver Sparrow Designs (who, by the way, makes bold and amazingly meaningful jewelry) tagged me in the "Circle of Friends" award. I am supposed to name five things that I love and then tag 5 fellow bloggers. Here goes...
1) I love my husband, for too many reasons to name. But lately I especially love him for his unwavering support, patience, and encouragement.
2) I love that God gave me artistic talents.
3) I love that I've been given an opportunity to pursue an education and develop those talents.
4) I love my puppy. He loves me unconditionally and always puts a smile on my face.
5) I love nature and it's endless supply of inspiration.

I am tagging Carrie Schaffer, "Gina", Kassie Garlock, Emily, and Liberty Cameron. I thoroughly enjoy each of these ladies blogs!

The other reason I wanted to blog again is to a shine a spotlight on my etsy friend Carrie over at Original Hardware. I hope she doesn't mind, but I just have to brag for her. She just got several pieces of her beautiful jewelry accepted into the Sundance Fall catalog!!! This is a huge honor and even bigger accomplishment. Congratulations Carrie! Read her is so full of inspiration and beautiful thoughts. Carrie, you give me hope that my lofty dreams will too one day come true!

Okay - done for the day : )

Somethin' To Show For It

Rings for Abode

It's been a busy couple of weeks. As previously mentioned I placed some distraction restrictions on myself or as I like to call it "code red status" so that I could get some work done for Abode. That meant, or was supposed to mean, no lunches with sisters/friends (okay, so I broke that rule a couple of times), no unnecessary errand running/shopping after work (broke that one once or twice too), and no browsing around online for extended periods of time (guilty again). So I ended up breaking all of my rules. I did manage to get some stuff made. Not as much as I originally planned, but I also decided to focus on the one gallery for now rather than both (plus etsy). So that took some pressure off. I am going to go a completely different direction for Seasons anyway, less rustic more "Springy".

Necklaces for Abode

I am loving the peace symbol pendant. I made two and might just keep one for myself (surprise, surprise).

Earrings for Abode

Bracelets for Abode

I totally slacked on bracelets this time around. I intended to make some cuffs, too. That didn't get done...yet. I will make a few and send them their way. I have a couple of designs I'm really excited about.

So tomorrow I'm picking up Betty (my mother-in-law) and we're taking a trip over to Stockholm, WI to drop off jewelry, poke around in the quaint shops, and possibly enjoy an award winning piece of old-fashioned pie. It will be fantastic!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Business Marketing Makeover

After 4+ years of being in business I finally hired out having my logo, blog, etsy banner, tags, and other promotional materials professionally designed. My friend directed me towards Kassie and she has been an absolute pleasure to work with! She really listens and even asks that you be picky ensuring you love the end product. She works SUPER fast and does such a nice job! 30+ emails later and a couple of fairly long phone conversations I could not be happier with everything she has done. And I am really excited to unveil it all, but it's not finished quite yet. If you're in need of any design projects...head on over to Designs by Kassie, she's a peach!

On the jewelry end of things, I have labeled this week and next as "Code Red". Meaning no lunch dates with friends or sisters, no running errands or shopping after work, no putzing around online for hours...simply NO distractions (that are not directly related to business). I need to get fresh, new jewelry to the galleries by next Friday. My goal is to make 10-12 rings, 12-14 necklaces, 20+ earrings, 4-6 cuffs, and 4-6 bracelets. Then divide it all up between the galleries and etsy. Designing and making the jewelry is just part of the process, I'll also have to photograph/edit, post, price, tag, and make inventory sheets of all the jewelry. I CAN DO IT! I'm already getting there and am proud to say that I've been sticking to my "Code Red" status : ) Now, back to the bench.

Monday, March 8, 2010

M A R C H * G I V E A W A Y

In honor of Spring and Mother Nature's re-birth I am giving away these sweet little leaf-bud stamped earrings. They are simple and can be easily worn everyday...with just about anything. The front is hand stamped with a tiny leaf and the back is textured to add a little interest from behind. These earrings feature my handmade long sterling earwires to make them more substantial. They hang approximately 1-1/4" long and the charm measures just over 1/4". Enter to win!!!

5 DIFFERENT ways to enter and win:
1) Leave a comment.
click on the "comment" link at the bottom of this entry to do so
2) Leave a comment saying you've signed up to receive my newsletter.
sign up is at the top right of this page
3) Leave a comment telling me you signed up to follow my blog
sign up is at the bottom right of this page
4) Leave a comment telling me what you like most in my etsy shop
5) Leave a comment telling me that you signed up for an etsy account and marked my shop as a "favorite".


The winner will be selected Thursday, April 1st!!!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Cancun Highlights

Ahhhh...the Caribbean. We had a nearly perfect vacation! All but one day was in the mid 80's, it was mostly sunny most of the time, and completely relaxing, romantic, and rejuvenating. Other than the actual traveling part (delays+long lines+red-eye flights=weary travelers) it was pure bliss.

This is a view from our hotel room. Not so bad, huh?

There is a little restaurant just blocks from our hotel (via beach or street) called Natura. We love to go there in the morning and get their 100% natural, made to order juice. One of my favorites is the hibiscus/orange blend. Have you ever had hibiscus juice? I never had until we were down there a couple of years ago. It's like drinking silk.

Me and my honey on the beach. I'm a bit wind blown.

These birds are crazy. You don't dare leave any food or drinks unattended or they'll have their way with it...and it'll all be gone by the time you can count to 3. Nevertheless, they're kind of cute.

Saturday the 26th was the 11th anniversary of our first date (the only reason we remember that is because it's the day before my birthday : ) We were Juniors in high school when we started dating and we celebrate every year because from that point on we were best friends and nearly inseparable. It's so fun to think back to that day. Between the two of us we remember just about every detail (I even remember I was wearing Bonne Bell Passion Fruit lip balm!...that's scary that I remember that). We hung out and watched "Rainman". I just can't believe it's been 11 years!That night we went to a fancy sea food restaurant called Lorenzillo's. It's in the lagoon and very romantic. Gotta love the cuisine! Mike got the coconut shrimp, they had a nice presentation.

Us out and about one night.

This guy was super talented! He makes these amazing paintings using only spray paint and ordinary household objects. This is one of the planets/space. He used a variety of small plates, caps, and thimbles to get the shapes for the planets. Gosh, I have a hard time painting with brushes let alone having any sort of control over spray paint.

You can kind of see where he's going with it. Amazing.

It was about 10pm or so when we were out and there were still ladies out selling their wares with their little kids running around. My heart always breaks when I see the little 3 and 4 year olds out selling bracelets etc. Part of me wonders if it's all part of the game they play down there. They have a very different sales approach in (tourist) Mexico than in the states!

Mariachi band playing in a mall.

A muchacho whipping around his lasso.

There is a story about this ring. When we went down to Cancun last year I found this ring on la isla mujeres. It was early in our trip and I didn't want to get it in case I found something I liked better in the coming week. Big mistake. As soon as we left the island I couldn't stop thinking about it. The rest of that week I scoured shops in Cancun looking for another one. Since every shop literally has multiples of the same things (with a few exceptions) I thought it would be an easy ring to find. I was wrong. There was not a single ring like it in all of Cancun (ok, that's a little dramatic...but still). Through out this past year I'd turn to Mike and say something like, "remember that ring I found on isla mujeres that I didn't get. I should have bought that." With high hopes of finding it this trip the first thing we did when getting to the island was go to that same jewelry shop and look for it. It wasn't there and I wasn't surprised. However...I FOUND IT in a different shop on the island!!!!!!!!!!!! I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw it among all those other rings! It had to be the same one from last year because it was the ONLY one I had seen like it last year AND this year combined. Since most of the shops are connected it's likely that it just got moved around. Happy day : ) Needless to say, I snatched it right up (of course feigning disinterest so that the shop owner would haggle with me). I got a fantastic deal. It was a win-win-win situation : ) Me being the winner of course.

Going to Caribbean Mexico is like dying and going to heaven, in many ways...beautiful stuff to do...and ALL THE SILVER JEWELRY! I am such a dork, I know. But every other shop down there is chock full of gorgeous jewelry. It's pure heaven for me (or any jewelry designer).

Mike gets Husband of the Universe award for patiently going into all of these shops with me to look around. What can I say, he gets me : ) He found himself a pretty cool ring too.

Scenery from la isla mujeres. It was cloudy and a little rainy that day, but still beautiful and tons of fun.

We didn't take very many pictures this year. We captured more with the video camera this time. I am so glad because now we can go back when ever we want (via TV, that is). We were determined to make this trip the best yet and I'd say we succeeded. We are finally unpacked (well, Mike isn't...he had to turn around and drive across the state for some work training just hours after we got home...poor guy) and settled in. As much as I love vacation it's always good to be home. Now I just have to tackle my (looooong) "to do" list.

Later - Janell

Monday, March 1, 2010

Just a Quick Announcement

Hi! We're back from our trip (which was fantastic...details to follow) and as expected it's taking a while to get settled back into the swing of things. I did the drawing for February's give away and the winner is...comment #21. So Char Kruger, you win the sterling hoops!!! Stay tuned for March's give away, I'll be listing it this week sometime as well as pictures and details from our trip to Mexico.