Monday, April 28, 2008

Fast Walkin' Freddy's

It's Relay Time 2008!!!
Our team this year is called The Fast Walkin' Freddy's in memory of and in honor of our Freds. Great-Great-Grandpa Frederick William was a survivor of laryngeal cancer.. He was one of the first people in the capital region to be successful with esophageal speech after laryngectomy. He passed in the winter of 1979. His son, Great Grandpa Frederick Carlisle, lost his battle with prostate cancer in the spring of 1989. His son, my Fred, Grandpa Frederick Armand, was diagnosed with colon cancer just prior to his fiftieth birthday. Fred celebrated five years of being cancer free last June! He is healthy , loving his retirement, and enjoying the company of our grandson Freddy J. We are working hard to make sure that our littlest Fred will grow up in a world free of Cancer and the devastation it causes.We are walking on June 6Th at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Green Island. Last year Relay events in the Capital District raised $1,423,000!!! This money funded 4 local researchers and gave free screenings for the uninsured and under insured in our communities.We ask for your help and continued support in our efforts to find a cure. As in previous years for every $10 you donate you may dedicate a luminaria bag in honor of or in memory of someone you know that has been diagnosed with cancer. Thank you family and friends. We couldn't do it without you. If you wish to make a donation you may donate directly to our Relay Page .

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Crazy about Chainmaille

Chain maille is a medieval technique of weaving metal rings in specific patterns to make clothing, armor, and decorative items. Today it still has practical applications as protective body armor for surgeons, divers and others who work in fields that expose them to sharp implements.
I prefer its decorative applications and lately have been working on some patterns that allow me to create jewelry. So far I have used the 3 in 2 pattern, spiral, rope and byzantine. I hope to move up to some weaving techniques----would love to do some small purses and maybe some hand flower type designs.
My projects so far have been bracelets, earrings and necklaces. The first image is a necklace made in the butterfly pattern with garnet drops and chain fringe. I oxidized the whole piece and then tumble polished it for a few hours to give it the gunmetal finish.
The second necklace is European 4 in 1 pattern with amethyst drops. It was left shiny sterling silver. I'm glad that I had a picture of it because it flew off the shelf the week after I put it in the store.
The earrings are a Japanese cross pattern and the bracelet is a byzantine pattern done in a mixture of sterling silver and copper.
Becky and I have started finishing off some of our larger pieces with chain maille as it balances the look and weight of the finished product.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Ankle Bracelet Weather

It was 80 degrees here in upstate New York today. That's a rare occurance for us in the month of April. It brought everyone outside in their shorts and capris with sandals to match. At The Warehouse we broke out the ankle bracelets today. Silver ones, beaded ones and ankle bracelets with small jingling bells.

I know the weather won't last but for now we will enjoy each and every moment of sunshine that mother nature will allow us.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A Lesson For Life

The Last Lecture. It sounds a bit final doesn't it? Even a little ominous? The label would not have intrigued me, but hearing the speaker and recognizing his enthusiasm and optimism did.

Randy Pausch, for those of you that have not heard of him or of his Last lecture, is a Carnegie Mellon University professor of computer science that is dying of pancreatic cancer. He is facing his mortality with an amazing spirit and finding in the evaluation of his life that he has not only achieved but surpassed his childhood dreams.

His last lecture is a gift to the rest of us, an instruction manual so to speak, that we may also find what makes us happy. His advice is basic. Work hard, Tell the truth, Be earnest, Focus on others, Don't complain, Find the best in everybody, and most importantly: Lead your life the right way--karma will take care of itself.

His life exemplifies these basic truths. His words strike a chord with me. They make me count my blessings. They remind me to cherish those that I love. They give me permission to follow my dream.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Herkimer Diamonds

Herkimer Diamonds are incredibly beautiful double-terminated water clear quartz crystals which are found mainly in Herkimer County, New York. The crystals themselves are works of nature found in dolomite rock, a type of limestone that dates around 500 million years old. They require no cutting to achieve their sparkling appearance. Some of the crystals contain liquid inclusions or inclusions of a coal-like substance called anthraxolite. I have showcased one in the silver wire necklace shown here.

The beauty of a high grade Herkimer diamond rivals that of a diamond and many people prefer them to the cut stone. They are highly prized by jewelers and mineral collectors.

Herkimer diamonds are also used for their metaphysical properties. They are said to assist with balance on the mental, emotional and physical levels. They are professed to relieve tension and thereby promote peace of mind. Herkimer Diamond is associated with the crown chakra.

You can mine Herkimer diamonds for yourself in Herkimer county New York. There are 2 mines open to the public the Herkimer Diamond Mines and the Ace of Diamonds mine. I have tried this process myself and found it to be very hard work. We did not find any crystals large enough for jewelry on our trip but the small crystal bits that we located gave us an idea of the mining process.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Fossil Jewelry

I love making jewelry out of natural gemstones and pieces of the earth. Having tried the "digging for treasure thing" at the Herkimer diamond mines in upstate New York I don't mind telling you that the process is hot dirty and exhausting. I will leave the mining to others and gladly pay them for their finds.
Gemstones, rocks, shells, sharks teeth and sea glass all find their way into my work but fossils..........Fossils fascinate me. When I can get my hands on these tiny pieces of history they become incorporated into my designs. Ammonites and trilobites are my favorites. Their size and shape allow them to wrapped attractively and worn.

Ammonites are millions of years old---from the Jurassic/Cretaceous period. They are an ancient see creature related to today's squid and snails. They have a nautilus like shape and when sawed in half they present a beautiful swirling surface in a perfect mirror image. The colors vary from brown to gold to green. Some even have crystal formations inside.

Trilobites remind me of horseshoe crabs. The tiny Elrathia Kingi trilobites that I use for jewelry are from the Paleozoic era and are over 300 million years old. Their simplicity is elegant.
There is something wonderful about using materials from the natural world.
Imagine wearing your own little piece of ancient history.