I've been slowly building a small collection of jewelry pieces to add to my Etsy shop. Most of them I had professionally-photographed, so that took a little extra time. But I'm happy to say nine pieces were listed today!

Sept-Shop-Update-Pieces-sm

(FYI - all the ones shown, with the exception of the copper chain bracelet and necklace, were captured by Leah Judway Photography. There is a huge difference between her photos and mine. She makes my jewelry look beautiful; I try and make it look beautiful. ;))

It's fun to see my work progress. From etching silver to forging chain to trying a design in a different metal, each of these pieces evolved from an existing design. And in some cases, it improved on the previous one. More ideas have sprung from these, so I'm anxious to get started on the next batch of designs.

Fall is in full-swing and this is going to be an extraordinarily busy season for me, in addition to the usual increase in holiday orders. But, I'm trying to remember to take it one day at a time and just enjoy each day that I'm given. And above all, to be *grateful* for the life I have. I hope the same for you.

~ Christina

It's easy to get frustrated when a design doesn't go as planned, but if you push through, it almost always works itself out. I began these mixed metal teardrops with a completely different vision for the teardrop shape (I didn't plan on a teardrop at all), but I think the end result turned out even better. They are after a stacking ring I introduced early on with a similar copper accent. I may need to bring that ring design back; the one I wear still catches attention!

Mixed Metal Teardrops

I haven't worked with hand-formed chain too much before now, but I really enjoy the rich texture of hammered wire. When a thick gauge is used, it has a nice weight to it.

These are a couple variations of the "Pebble" theme. Made from copper and sterling silver, I go back to mixed metal jewelry time after time.

Pebble Necklace Mixed Metal Jewelry

Pebble Post Earrings Mixed Metal Jewelry

It's funny how you can read or hear a specific Scripture verse dozens of times, and suddenly it sinks in more deeply. This morning it was Psalm 119:105 - "Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path." I love the imagery of light piercing the darkness, of a warm glow straight ahead of me, directing the way. But the phrase that resonates in my mind is "your word".

It's God's word that lights our paths. Not our calendars. Not our work-schedules. Not our to-do lists. Not our hopes and fears. Not our ambitions. Not what is trending on Facebook. All of those solutions require us to do something, or be something, to navigate this often-times messy life. But God says all we need is His word. That's freeing, isn't it?

One of the best ways to experience this for yourself is to spend a few minutes, in the quiet of the morning, reading Scripture. This discipline builds a firm foundation for the rest of the day. Looking at that Psalm again, if we are in God's word it will light our paths. We will have assurance we are going the right way and can tackle whatever may come.

If you need direction I suggest using a daily devotional to help focus your thoughts. Lately, I have been reading Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence. At the bottom of each entry are Scripture references that you can look up in your Bible, on an app such as YouVersion, or a website like BibleGateway. If you are choosing a Bible for the first time, I recommend a translation that you can easily understand; my favorite is the New International Version (NIV). If this sounds like a lot, don't worry! Daily devotionals are typically short and only take a few minutes of time. If you can work through the struggle of getting started and make it a habit, you'll be glad you did.

In Job 11 it says if we devote our hearts to God, "life will be brighter than noonday, and darkness will become like morning." (v. 17).

Light.

It's what God promises.

It's just for you.

Light

 

While I think all of my pieces can be considered "art jewelry", polymer clay jewelry especially feels that way to me. It can take on any shape or form, and be any color desired. There are no artistic limitations with this medium.

When I began work on these earrings I had a specific idea in mind, but they turned into something entirely different. I experimented with various texturing tools (borrowed from my metalsmith collection no doubt) and then stumbled across the clay's desire to turn and bend and be more than just a flat piece of clay. So I went with it. The result was these organic pod-like, or even shell-like, forms. Made from white clay, they were given a cool gray-blue contrasting color.

I can see these in a larger size as well.

Polymer Clay Jewelry

Purchase these earrings right here in my online shop.

~ Christina

Since my recent drawing spree, I had been itching to break out my polymer clay stash just so I could play with color. I also had to break out my books on polymer for a refresher, but it didn't take long to remember how to work with it. I ended up with these textured earrings in light green turquoise and dark brown hues, my ode to summer. When Chad saw them his initial reaction was "mint chocolate chip", and I had to agree. So here are "ode to summer, mint chocolate chip" polymer clay earrings with handmade sterling silver ear wires.

Polymer Clay Earrings Mint Chocolate Chip sm

Polymer Clay Earrings Mint Chocolate Chip 3 smPolymer Clay Earrings Mint Chocolate Chip 2 sm

These earrings are currently available for purchase in my online shop here.

Mint chocolate chip ice cream anyone?

~Christina

Did you know that as a general rule, you have to know how to draw from life (i.e. keep it real!) in order to make simple, authentic drawings? It sounds counter-intuitive, but if an artwork looks simple to draw, it probably isn't quite so simple.

For four weeks, I've been drawing almost daily. It's noteworthy, because it's been several *years* since I've had a real fire burning for drawing. And now it's different. One of the reasons I quit drawing is because, creatively, I felt limited. I felt limited to drawing from compositions in photos and making them look realistic. If my only goal was to make a drawing look like a photo, what was the purpose of the drawing? Deep down I wanted to "draw outside the lines", but didn't know how. Working with metal was, and is, a welcome change from feeling stifled in that way. With jewelry I can create any shape and form imaginable, without trying to replicate something that already exists. So when the drawing bug hit again, and I realized I was only limited in my thinking, new doors opened wide. So much can be said through art! And there really is no limit if you know the basics. All that's required is inspiration and a lot of practice.

I went to the library and checked out a few drawing books to get started again...and simplify. These first 5 photos are sketching exercises I completed; some ended up with color, some didn't.

Rose

Pampas Grass

Trees

The sea lion is my favorite. :)

Sea Lion

Grapes

It helps to see how others work through a drawing, but that can only take you so far. It's necessary to explore on your own to find your own artistic voice. Now that I've cleared away the cobwebs, I've begun to do just that. And let me tell you, it feels GREAT to not be confined by a photo! This little illustration is titled "Hope Thrives Even When It Rains", inspired by April showers, and the emotional rain that pours down on all of us every now and then.

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I've been using pencils since I have them on-hand, but soon I'm going to play with watercolor paints again, and maybe even alcohol-based markers.

There is just something special about simplicity.

Lately my small business has been experiencing growing pains. On one hand it's a good thing, because there is growth. On the other hand pain is, well, painful. I'm still learning to navigate the territory that comes with being a business owner and jeweler. Hint: it's extremely rewarding and extremely difficult at the same time.

I have sensed a real shift in my thinking in recent months. It's time to step it up a notch. It's time to push the envelope with my work. It's time to let go of (some) things I don't have time to do myself, and frankly, someone else can do better. I'm ready for these positive changes so my business can continue to grow and serve others in the best way possible.

In a sense, the past few years have been the warm-up act. I have learned an incredible amount about both business ownership and artistry. It has been one of the best and most challenging experiences of my life.

Now it's time for Act 2.

Handmade Sterling Silver JewelryExisting designs reinvented in all sterling silver. One of the changes I'm implementing - more precious metals.

Time at the bench has been limited and precious in recent weeks. I've been traveling, visiting with family, and working on an exciting new business opportunity that I'll share with you soon.

This morning, though, I spent some time in the studio, completing a copper ring order that was due today. As I applied the final finish and packaged it just so, I noticed its masculine beauty. I envisioned receiving the package in the mail, carefully opening it, and seeing its contents for the first time, just as my customer will. How will he respond to receiving this creation made just for him?

Amid a season where creativity feels like it's on the back burner, it was a simple reminder that I love this work that I do. It motivates me to give my best to those who choose to support my work.

It's humbling. It's exhilarating.

I'm grateful.

Copper Rope Ring

When I catch the creative bug for something, I'm all in. I need to know, right then, how it's done and can't wait to try it myself. That happened to me over Christmas with...crochet.

A friend introduced me to crochet years ago and I made a scarf on my own, without a pattern and without someone there to help me correct my mistakes. It seemingly took me 10 years to finish it, and it turned out terriblyI wore it once or twice because of the work I put into it, but it soon disappeared into the back of my closet. Just in case, I held onto the unused yarn and crochet hook I used.

This time, I wanted to actually learn about various crochet stitches and make something I'd enjoy wearing. So I spent a day with a good book, practicing stitches with that old yarn. When I felt confident enough, I downloaded a pattern for a cute slouchy hat, and headed out to buy some new yarn.

It had to be purple.

Red Purple Yarn with Crochet Hook

The contrast between metal and yarn is extreme, something I noticed immediately as I held the cold, hard crochet hook in my hand and tried to get a feel for the soft, billowy yarn. I was all thumbs at first, but the more I stitched, the more familiar it became. And my handmade crochet hat turned out *way* better than that poor old scarf. It's going to get good use this winter.

Finished Slouchy Hat

At this point I thought I'd have the bug out of my system.

I was wrong.

As much as I like the hat, I kept thinking about its knobby texture, typical of crochet, and wondered what it was like to create a knitted fabric, full of soft, interlocking V's and swirling cable stitches. After all, I own knitted hats, sweaters and gloves that I love to wear when it's cold.

Then I downloaded a book that introduced the basics of knitting, the various types of yarn and the needles used. And I was off again to find the basic necessities, including a fun, neutral-colored yarn and bamboo knitting needles. (I really like the way bamboo feels against the yarn!)

Knitting Needles

Knitting is vastly different from crochet especially since two needles are required vs. a single hook, and there is in fact, no hook at all on knitting needles. It took many attempts and the help of YouTube to learn how to cast on, knit stitch, purl stitch, and cast off, but I'm getting the hang of it, slowly but surely.

This piece was just for practice, but those interlocking V's are oh-so-pretty. Soon I'm going to make my first finished piece, probably a cup cozy or another hat, something small that will only take me 5 years instead of 10. ;)

Knitting Stitches Practice

Once again I've found another medium where the creative possibilities are endless. Why this sudden obsession with yarn I'm not sure, but I'm going to go with it for as long as it lasts.

If you're looking for me at the end of the day and can't find me, just follow the trail of yarn.