Lately I've been trying to resist the urge to work on just a single piece of jewelry at a time.  It's tough; when I get an idea in my head, I want to see it through from start to finish, right then.  The problem with that, however, is that it's not efficient at all.  There are many steps that go into a finished piece of jewelry, steps that require setup and take-down, from sawing and soldering, to photography of the finished product.

I'm getting better at treating the process more like a production line, especially for the pieces that I've created once before.  For new designs it's more challenging, since I need to completely think the design through before I touch the first tool (hmm...not too different from building software).  But it really helps when I can do certain tasks in batch-mode; it helps me stay focused longer since I don't have to switch gears as often.

So, I wanted to share my two latest creations that were made in tandem.  In a perfect world I'd have 10 pieces complete instead of 2...but, hey, I'm taking baby steps.

First is a modern, sterling silver, red Mooka Jasper gemstone pendant to add a little color to my jewelry line.  Sigh - another piece I want to keep for myself but am being strong. ;)

The other is a pair of silver crescent moon earrings that complement my crescent moon stacking ring.  I like the "handles" from which they hang.

There are still so many new techniques I want to try.  I'm curious to see what my jewelry will look like a year from now.  But in the meantime, I'm enjoying the process of learning and experimenting (and sometimes melting, literally) and turning out beautiful creations on which I'm proud to attach my name.

Enjoy your weekend,

Christina

The past few weeks have been...fabulous.  The decision to not focus on business, in order to get ready for Christmas, was the right one.  Up until the 25th I was a busy bee, still wondering if I'd get everything done in time.  But as it always does, things fell into place and I breathed that sigh of relief, finally and truly letting the meaning of Christmas settle on my heart.  That morning alone was one of the most beautiful I've ever experienced.

To top it off, Chad had a nice, long break away from the office.  We both have been so busy with work lately, spending quality time together was just what we needed.  We laughed a lot; it really is the best medicine!

With the new year ahead of me, I've been reflecting on the past and noting the things I'd like to change moving forward.  I'm not really one to set resolutions, but I have this fire inside to keep momentum growing business-wise and start doing things that are healthy for me, spiritually, emotionally and physically.  (Side note: if you've noticed I haven't talked about running lately, it's because work has taken front-center.  Bad runner, bad!)  I'm truly excited for the year ahead.

Just in case you thought I hadn't done anything in the studio lately, let me set the record straight. ;)  This sterling silver heart pendant is my first creation of the new year...two hearts joined into one.  With it I've introduced a new, handmade clasp: music has always been an important part of my life, so I'm paying homage with a "music note" design.

It feels great to be back.

Raising my glass to you and to 2012,

Christina

Recently I had the privilege of creating jewelry for clients who wanted to give a Christmas gift to a loved one.  It was a lot of fun working through the design process, transforming their ideas and mine into metal.  What resulted was a beautiful silver pendant, etched with a hand-drawn tree and inspirational quote by Gandhi, and accented with a green peridot, the recipient's birthstone.

My biggest takeaway from the experience is that I love creating jewelry with someone specific in mind.  It simply makes me happy to imagine how a piece, that has personal meaning, will be received.  The second is that I have a new way of transferring images onto metal for etching, making it easier to use more complex designs.

"Be the Change You Wish to See in the World"...a positive aspiration for the new year.

A friend of mine described a conversation she had with her toddler son recently and allowed me to share it with you.  It sounded like this:

Boy:     I'm the king of elephants. I protect the elephants.
Mom:  From what?
Boy:     MUD!
Mom:  How do you protect elephants from the mud?
Boy:    By holding the baby elephants.

Now, I'm confident he was talking about actual, larger-than-life elephants.  But sometimes when I hear words out of the mouths of children, I'm convinced they're straight from the heart of God.

Just for a moment, imagine that is true.

God:  I'm the king of elephants, and all things that move and breathe; I gave them life.  To mankind I gave my thumbprint, so they might glorify me.  I love them; I protect them.
Me:    From what?
God:  MUD!  ...dark, sticky mud...the kind that doesn't easily wash off.  They are surrounded by mud everywhere they go.  It disguises itself as envy, jealousy, bitterness, deceit, to name a few.  It makes them loathe others and themselves.  There is nothing they can do on their own to escape it.
Me:    How do you protect them from the mud?
God:  By holding my children up high.  That's why I sent Jesus into the world: to rescue my loved ones from the mud.  I don't care if they're covered from head to toe.  All I ask is that they trust me; trust that Jesus can wash it away.  Then they'll know what it's like to be free, no longer getting their feet stuck with each and every step.  Then they'll know...me.

Friends, that's the heart of the Christmas story: Jesus was born so that we can be pulled out of the mud and held high by God.  His birth was a gift, yours for the taking.  My Christmas wish for you is to simply accept it.  It's the greatest gift you'll ever receive.

"Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord." Luke 2:11

Merry Christmas,

Christina

Last night I was fretting to Chad how there are only 2 weeks until Christmas: 2 weeks full-to-the-brim of social gatherings, Christmas presents to make and buy, (more) decorating, house cleaning, cooking and all of the other activities that occur this time of year.  That, coupled with my jewelry-making mania, sent me into a bit of panic.  I told him the only way I'd be able to accomplish everything I want, is to put my work on the back-burner until after Christmas.

And then in typical Chad-fashion, with words that are meant to help resolve my dilemma, he said: "Well, if you do, you'd be doing for others."  I let his words sit for a moment, first aching over the thought of leaving the studio (again).  When I worked in corporate-world, it was typical for me to take 2 weeks off at the end of the year.  I looked forward to it.  But this time, it's just different.  And then I thought of what it meant to "do for others".  It means to look outside myself, to put others' needs ahead of my own.  Honestly, that doesn't come naturally to me 100% of the time, especially when I'm going full-throttle toward something I'm passionate about.  But as those words sunk in, I knew they were true.  And so I decided that for the next couple of weeks I'm going to shift my focus, letting go of creating new designs and embracing the freedom to pour myself into others.

I feel like a small weight has been lifted off my shoulders; I put pressure on myself to accomplish as much as I can with the time I'm given.  I don't want to spend the Christmas season stressed because I'm trying to accomplish everything under the sun.  I want to do what's most important today, putting off until tomorrow the things that can wait.

I love my husband.

Hi friends,

I hope you had a good, past week.  Mine was productive, adding new pieces to my shop and working on custom orders.  For me it's new territory to balance both: it's exciting and also brings positive stress of sorts.  And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Here's a glimpse of the new pieces added.  First, a set of rich, rustic, copper hammered hoops available here.

Second, a set of modern, sterling silver "pebble" stud earrings available here.  I'm in love with these.  In fact, the pair shown was snatched up within hours of listing them on Etsy (thank you).  It's time to make more to have on-hand.

This week I continue to work on custom orders and hopefully get new designs completed as well (TBD).  One thing I'm anxious to get started on is a new way of etching metal.  If you remember my etched copper, feather earrings, they were etched using an acid called Ferric Chloride.  It's a strong chemical, so you have to use good ventilation and be sure not to get it on your skin.  Another option for etching is a process called "electrolytic" etching, which uses electricity instead of an acid.  From what I've read it's fairly safe to do and doesn't involve harmful chemicals.  I have a feeling it's going to be my method of choice, especially for etching silver.

On a more personal note, the Christmas decorations were finally pulled from the closet. :)  Yesterday we listened to Christmas music while decorating the tree...it's a tradition that, in the moment, totally warms my heart.

Even our miniature schnauzer Hannah took part in the decorating.  Well, she got cozy anyway.

The wreath above the fireplace is one I made many years ago.  We've seen it enough that often I say I'm going to replace it with something else.  But as with all traditions you love, it never loses its beauty.

Thanksgiving was all I hoped it would be, and more.  There was the usual over-eating of all things turkey and pie, an excess of sleep, laughing with my family and playing Christmas music.  I love that feeling of contentment that comes after such a time...I couldn't possibly ask for anything more.

As much as I tried not to work, I did check-in from time to time (darn my smart phone).  Remember the Etsy treasuries I've mentioned before?  I designed one myself in time for Black Friday, full of gorgeous creations belonging to other Etsians as a way to support them (and honestly in hopes it would bring a little notice to my own shop).  Well, on Friday, Etsy featured this treasury list on the front page!  A few of the items even sold...I hope my treasury had a small part in that.  This treasury is just a tiny fraction of the unique handmade items to be found on Etsy.  Cool, right?  I may even do my own shopping on Etsy this Christmas.

On a similar note, I had my first Etsy jewelry sale on Friday. :)  (If my special client is reading this...I can't thank you enough!)  I wish you could see the silly grin on my face, born from gratitude and the thought of heading to the studio (right after this post) to get started.  I'm also designing a custom jewelry piece for another client that I hope to share with you after the holidays.  Friends, I'm in a special place.

It seems like every other day I'm having a sale.  But, it *is* Cyber Monday, so use coupon code CYBERMON today in my shop to receive free shipping within the US!

I hope you have a great start to the week and rid your turkey-coma quickly.

Christina

Last week I shared that I was going to work with faceted gemstones.  Well, I did, and it came to an abrupt halt.  I don't have quite the tools I need to set gemstones effectively (it's difficult to see a valiant effort turn into mush!).  I'll get back to them in the near future.

So, I turned my attention to a couple of silver stacking rings.  They're called "stacking rings" because the setting sits on top of the band, allowing the bands of adjacent rings to slide underneath the setting.  You stack them together or wear them alone, a fun way to frequently change the look of your jewelry.

Silver Stacking Ring with Copper Dome and Silver Granule

Silver Crescent Stacking Ring

I was tempted to keep going with the rings (they are addicting) but decided to mix it up with a pair of etched earrings.  I love the way these turned out and wish I had a pair for myself!  They are hand-sawed and etched copper, designed to look like feathers.  I'm sure some of you have noticed that feathers are everywhere this season.  I couldn't resist. :)

Etched Copper Feather Earrings

The rings are made to order and available in my shop, as are the earrings (the exact pair shown).

With Thanksgiving in just a few days, these will probably be the last of my creations until next week.  It pains me, pains me, to walk away from the studio, even for a short amount of time; I'm enjoying this so much.  But you know when you work so hard for something and your body tells you to slow down or else it's not going to be good?  That's where I am.  I need to spend quality time with my family and recharge.  I'll be refreshed next week, inspired with new ideas I'm sure.  Maybe a turkey will end up in one of my designs (JUST kidding).

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, from my family to yours.

Christina

p.s.  Christmas decorations are still in the closet.

Hi friends,

I've been busy thinking about my product packaging and the impression I want to leave with my jewelry customers.  The way a product is packaged can be just as important as the product itself, in my opinion.

I'm part of a local artist association and each year at Christmas time they hold a fundraiser called "Art in a Bag".  They sell bags of art, for $15-25 I believe, where the contents are unknown to the buyer (a great idea for those who like surprises!).  The artists in the association donate a piece of art, whether it's a painting, pottery, jewelry, etc. to fill the bags.  I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to donate a piece of jewelry and decided on my new "butterfly" drop earrings.

Here they are with their packaging: handmade earring cards inside a recycled kraft box with coordinating logo sticker, and pretty bow!  I'm pleased with the result.  What do you think?

This weekend I wore my own pair of the butterfly earrings (of course I had to keep a pair for myself ;)) and I'm in love with the contrast of the rosy copper against the silver.  They looked great paired with the chocolate brown shirt I was wearing.

In other news, it was so nice to awake this morning and find that my copper bangle bracelets were featured in an Etsy treasury.  Treasuries are member-curated lists that help buyers find items they will truly love.  That my bracelets were selected among the thousands of beautiful jewelry items on Etsy is truly an honor!  Click here if you'd like to see it.

Today I start working with sparkly, faceted gemstones.  I can't wait to see what ends up on the bench and share it with you.

Christina

This weekend Chad came back from the store, telling me how shocked he was to hear Christmas music playing throughout the place.  Christmas music...on only the first weekend in November.  And then I couldn't believe the words that came out of my mouth in response.  It was like an out-of-body experience, watching and hearing myself say the words as if I wasn't an active participant: "I finally get it."

I have always been the person who refuses to start decorating for Christmas until after Thanksgiving.  If I hear Christmas music on the radio before then, I turn the station.  I'm in shock when I see Christmas decorations on full display in retail stores...in July.  And if the eggnog hits the shelves too early, I wonder "who is actually going to buy that"?  If I sound anti-Christmas, don't be mistaken.  I love it.  It's just that time goes by so quickly to not enjoy each holiday that comes, especially one where we celebrate by being thankful.

Now to "finally get it"?  I had to think about why that was true.  For the first time in my life, before Thanksgiving, I had the thought that Christmas was only a few short weeks away.  7 to be exact.  I need to only blink, and the day will be here.  Christmas has so much personal meaning to me, I want to enjoy it for as long as I can.  And so I decided the answer is: it's an age thing.  The older I get, the more I view large blocks of time at once, instead of individual days.

I am so sorry Thanksgiving, I love you too, but Christmas has my whole heart.

I confessed to Chad I had thoughts of getting out a few Christmas decorations right after Halloween.  (Seriously, who am I?)  I haven't done it yet.  But I'm thinking about it.  And excuse me while I make a run for my favorite Christmas drink.