Monday, March 29, 2010


This weekend I participated in a lively discussion about color.
Green was my answer when asked my favorite.
"Why?" they queried. The wheels started turning.........I wasn't really certain, you see, where this preference, this bias toward green comes from.
I love being outdoors. Raised in the South but having lived all of my adult life in the Northeastern United States I appreciate the first glimmers of warm weather. We gravitate outdoors as soon as it is warm enough haunting the garden checking the teal of new shoots and the chartreuse of new budding leaves. Green is the color of renewal.
My favorite color is ever present in the hot Summer days that follow. Floating fern lily pads in the shaded stream we kayak through , moss on
the North side of a rock, the jungle color of a frogs back. Green is the color of Life.

The first piece of grown up jewelry that I remember is a beautiful jade pendant that belonged to my mother. It seemed so elegant and sophisticated to that young me, especially when she wore it with it's matching ring and earrings all dressed up for a special occasion.
Fred gifted me with a beautiful emerald necklace and earrings early in our marriage. it is one of my favorite gifts from him. The deep clear green of the stones in their glamorous setting make me feel very special.
Green is associated with the 4Th, the heart chakra. The color green balances our energies. It promotes love, compassion and empathy. It is a color of good fortune.

Green gemstones include amazonite, chrysoprase, emerald, aventurine, jasper, jade, malachite and peridot.

"Green is the prime color of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises." -- Pedro Calderon de la Barca

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Chain Maille (no not that kind, the jewelry kind)!

Chain maille is an ancient Art form. Originally used for making armour it is a system of linking small rings of metal in specific patterns to make protective garments. These armoured suits have been found in grave sites that date back to the 4Th century BC.

Maille armour provided effective protection against the swords and arrows of the day but were less effective against blunt force injury and head trauma. It was heavy for the combatants to wear and even more so for the horses that carried them. Imagine them getting caught in a rain storm.

Maille garments have practical applications in today's world. Meat cutters wear a maille glove on the hand not wielding the cleaver to protect themselves. Divers in shark infected waters also wear maille suits for protection.

Chain maille is also worn as costuming at Renaissance Fairs and other venues that feature historical reenactments.

The ancient patterns used to make armour are used today to make not only garments but jewelry and other decorative items.

The FamiLee Jewels enjoy incorporating chain maille into our designs. The weaving of small rings into chin is an interesting and rhythmic process. Those of you that knit or crochet can easily understand the repetition required to create a whole piece. I have included some recent examples of chain maille used in our jewelry.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Defining a Style

I have been challenged in recent weeks about the style of jewelry that I create using vintage and antique hardware, salvaged scraps of costume jewelry and found objects.

"Is this Steampunk?"

"You don't look like a Steampunk kind of person."

"What do you call this?"
It is time to define my style.

Steampunk is an amazing marriage of technology and fantasy. Here you will find hot air balloons, trains, and dirigibles. There are world travelers and time travelers. There are fanciful machines and the inventors that imagined them. It is all topped off with costuming that finds its roots in the romantic Victorian era and is influenced by the Industrial Revolution. Steam engines with their gears and bright brass tubes feature prominently.

Picture Jules Verne's Around the World in 80 Days, old episodes of the TV series Wild, Wild West and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. My favorite current example is SyFy's original series Warehouse 13.

Steampunk is fashion, fiction, fantasy and to some a cultural lifestyle.

Steampunk fashion accessories have function. Goggles, magnifiers, communicators, compasses and time travel devices are created with imagination and flair.

My jewelry uses tiny pieces of machinery made possible by the Industrial revolution. Watch gears, plumbing fixtures, clock parts, wire bushings, and machined cabinet hardware are combined with mid 20Th century costume jewelry, brass wire and Victorian findings to create a wearable collage.

These pieces are put together with an eye to their intrinsic beauty. They are not meant to function as anything other than art and ornament. It gives me great pleasure to salvage these bits of our past, to repurpose and recycle them. Their beauty should not be wasted. I call my work Salvaged Style, made from little bits of history.


Yes, and so much more.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Spotlight on Mountain Home Pottery

Liz Gamelin of Mountain Home Pottery found her passion for working in clay after being a florist for many years. Her home and her source of inspiration is the beautiful Ozark region of Arkansas. She makes dipping dishes, bowls and baskets that resemble the trees of her mountain home.
The earthy pallette of her work speaks of the natural world.

Liz says of her work "It is very exciting to take a piece of clay and work it and shape it. In this process the clay responds in its own way, and my idea and the clay's inclination, have merged into something even better than the original intent. Add to that the application of glazes and firing the piece. Adding the fire to the equation allows beautiful, unexpected things to happen. That is why each piece I make is unique. They will relate to each other in similar shape and colors, but no two are the same."

Visit Mountain Home Pottery at their Mountain Home, Arkansas store, on Etsy, or at Mountain Home Floral.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

March Babies get Aquamarine

What could be more perfect for March's birthstone than the soft Springlike watery blues and greens of aquamarine?
Aquamarine is a beautiful pale green to dark blue gemstone that is valued for it's tough hardness, exquisite color , and inclusion free clarity.
The more intense the color of an aquamarine the higher its value.
It is as popular as ruby or emerald but because it is more common it is also more affordable. Aquamarine is a member of the beryl family which also includes emerald.
It has a hardness of 7.5-8 on the Moh's scale and a wonderful shine.
Iron is the substance which gives aquamarine it's color.
Aquamarine literally means "water of the sea".
It is mined primarily in Brazil, Africa, and Madagascar with lesser sources in Russia, China and The United States. It's lovely blue colors inspires such names as Santa Maria, Espirito Santo, and Martha Rocha to differentiate the sources. Many aquamarines are greenish or pale blue when mined and cut. Those gemstones are heat treated to provide a purer blue color. Most aquamarines on the market today are heat treated. Heat treatment is permanent so these stones do not require additional care.
Aquamarine is the traditional birth stone for March.
It is associated with the zodiac sign Pisces and the planet Neptune.
It is said to be the best stone for the throat chakra.
Legends claim that Aquamarine is the treasure of mermaids and that it has the power to keep sailors safe at sea.
People in the middle ages believed that aquamarine could overcome the effects of poison.
Aquamarine is said to heightened awareness, enhance creativity, encourage insight and relax your mind. It enhances intellectual abilities.
Because of it's strength aquamarines do not require special care. They may be cleaned with a soft cloth or mild soap and water.
The FamiLee Jewels will be featuring aquamarine jewelry in our Etsy shop and at our weekend storefront At The Warehouse 20 Learned Street Albany NY Weekends 10-3.
Not Aquamarie but sharing that perfect color is this piece of beach glass found on the shores of the Rose Island Lighthouse.