Sunday, January 30, 2011

Blog Carnival: What is your favorite material?

Bottle green sea glass from Key West Florida
Choosing only one favorite material was quite a challenge.  My studio has many treasures and there are not many that I would willingly give up.
I asked myself which of these would I miss the most if I could never use it again.
The answer?

sea glass........
beach glass........
mermaid's tears........
Whatever you call them, these beautiful little jewels of the sea make beach combing a great deal of fun.

Sea glass begins as litter from shipwrecks, dumps, and pleasure boaters as well as refuse from other sources. Broken pieces of glass and pottery are tumble polished by waves, sand and rocks to a smoothly etched surface. These ocean frosted gems wash up on beaches all over the world.

Frosted glass from Long Beach in Rockport Massachesetts
Sea glass is common in green, brown and clear (think beer bottles).

Less common colors are light blue, yellow and pink.

Rare finds are bright red, black, cobalt blue and lavender.

Lavender or lilac glass is most often clear glass from the years 1880-1915. Manganese in the glass made during that time period slowly turns the glass to shades of purple when exposed to the sun and other elements.

The process of making a smoothly opaque piece of beach glass with rounded edges takes between 15 to 60 years.

The FamuLeeJewels love the beach and while walking barefoot in the sand Bonnie always keeps her eyes open for pieces of glass and other beach trash to turn into beautiful jewelry.

Much of our sea glass was collected on the beaches of Rockport Massachusetts, the coast of the DelMarVa Peninsula and the warm sands of Key West Florida. Some of our favorite pieces are from a trip to the Rose Island Lighthouse near Newport and from the Dry Tortuga's near Key West. These remote places provide wonderful hunting ground for beach treasures.

That may be why sea glass is my favorite material. I only use what I gather myself and the gathering places are some of my favorite in the world.

Brown bottle sea glass from the shores of the Rose Island Lighthouse
The topic "What is your favorite material?" was chosen as the Starving Artists Team's Blog Carnival topic for the month of January. Here are the favorite materials of other jewelry artists.



Island Girl


Saturday, January 29, 2011

My Lofty Goal for 2011

I love reading trade magazines. By trade I mean those written about Jewelry art and design.
I pour over the pages in every issue reading the advice, devouring the photographs, and taking in the colors.
I am nerdy enough to read the advertisements, the editorials, and announcements.

A little over a year ago I started having a tickle in the back of my brain that some of my work would look good in those pages. I started writing tutorials, practice for teaching only through the printed word.

Painting a picture with words is an interesting puzzle, one that I am still working on.

I have taken the leap and submitted some of my work for publication.
Wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Game Night! Or how we amuse ourselves when the weather makes us stay indoors.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Happy Valentines Day

Fred's handcrafted wine bottle stops make a wonderful Valentine's gift

A loaf of bread a jug of wine and thou beside me......just don't forget the corkscrew! Let the FamiLee Jewels help you celebrate your love.

Valentine's Day is very special to Fred and I.
It is our wedding anniversary.
He chose the date saying it would help him to never forget our anniversary.
This year we will have been married 35 years, and he never has.

 The FamiLee Jewels is offering a special package in honor of Valentines day and of our anniversary.

The maple used in this wine bottle stopper is left over from from building my brothers staircase
When you purchase one of Fred's hand crafted winestops from The FamiLee Jewels we will package it for you with a pair of wine charms and a gift bag for your bottle. All you have to add is the vintage and the Sweetie.

$29 gift boxed.

Night Fire wood laminate makes a colorful addition to a Valentine's celebration

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Photography: A challenging Work in Progress

I love making  jewelry.
It is a passion.
The design and creation of wearable art is a joyful process.

Selling and marketing jewelry is an entirely different story.
I have no business background. I am a Registered nurse by profession. TheFamiLeeJewels opened on Etsy  in 2007 and has been growing slowly since. I am learning how to run it by trial and error. One of the biggest challenges along the way has been getting good quality photographs that represent the items accurately.
Photographing small items like jewelry is an art and for me a work in progress. 
The first item I sold on etsy in 2007 was a copper wrapped piece of picture jasper.
 The necklace pictured above was my very first etsy sale. I was so so pleased with the picture at the time. It was clear and the color was true. When I look at it now I only see the too dark background. I have since started using an off white textured piece of photo paper to place the jewelry against.

Along the way I experimented with props, but found most of them too distracting. They took the attention from what I was trying to have be the focal point of the picture.
Props make a nice background but be careful that they are not too distracting.

Today I still take a lot of pictures to get 5 that I consider good enough to sell  jewelry online. I prefer to shoot them outdoors when the weather permits. I have found  the truest color and detail appear outdoors on a sunny day but in the shade. In the winter I use an inexpensive light tent and some cone lights from Home Depot with true color bulbs in them. It's not ideal but better than incandescent light.

The camera is a simple point and shoot 12.1 Megapixel Canon Powershot. I haven't been able to convince myself that my skill level warrants anything more elaborate.
There are a few lessons that I have learned along the way.
1. Never use flash. It washes out the color of the stones and causes distracting hot spots in the picture.
2. program the camera for macro.
3. use the cloudy day setting.
4. take the picture with the highest resolution your camera allows.
5. I am thankful everyday for digital camera technology. Developing film to represent these items would have bankrupted me long ago.

Every so often I get a picture that I am really proud of.

One of my favorite jewelry photographs. Everything was going well this day.
There are many more examples in my Flickr Photostream.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Luxurious Leather Treasury

I was looking for leather goods on etsy this week. These are some of the beautiful items for sale there. I love that red jacket but alas my skeleton would not fit a size 4!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

My Go To Earrings

Dark wash jeans.
Pleated white blouse.
Black cashmere sweater.
Textured copper cuff.
Sterling silver thumb ring.
Chocolate brown boots.
Chain maille necklace.
Tan suede sandals.

These are some of the staples from my closet and the pieces that I reach for most frequently.  I call them my "go to" wardrobe. They are comfortable friends and are very versatile, blending with many different ensembles. When I reach for one of these treasures it is to create an overall appearance rather than match a  color or style.

Some of my jewelry customers like to pair their pieces. I am frequently asked "What kind of earrings go with this Necklace?" or "What should I wear with this bracelet?"
I have developed 2 pair of earrings that I consider "Go to" jewelry. They are simple in design and will complement any of our Salvage jewelry. They also look great alone.

The first pair are made of copper. They are a traditional handcrafted love knot design, strung onto copper ear wires and oxidized to give them a wonderful patina. The love knots are 5/8 inch in diameter.   They hang 3/4 inch from the hook of the ear wire.
They are also available in a mixed metal design of sterling silver or nobium and copper for those whose ears are sensitive to base metals.
I wear a pair of earrings in this design at least once a week to go to a meeting, to go out to a movie, or even to go to work in my scrubs.

The latter pair are my personal favorites. The ear wires are long arches made of Vintaj natural brass which is nickle free for those with sensitive ears. The  black circle is polished wood making an earring that is  comfortable and  lightweight. The ear wires are 1 3/4 inches in length.   The wood circles are 5/8 inch in diameter. That makes the total length 2 3/4 inch from the top of the ear wire to the bottom of the disk.
These are a great pair of earrings when you would like a little dangle. They have great movement when worn them but are subtle rather than glam for everyday use.

What are the "go to" garments in your wardrobe?
What do you wear them with?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Something New in the Studio

The Salvaged purse that sparked the idea for the project
 I am an avid salvage shopper.

Basketweave pattern will make
 a fabulous cuff.
 Anyone that reads the blog knows how  frequently I haunt garage sales, flea markets, thrift stores,salvage yards and antique stores looking for little bits of the past that can be incorporated into jewelry designs.  It is a pleasurable ongoing treasure hunt.

I have been collecting leather goods for a while now. The attraction started with the find of a hand tooled leather purse.
 It reminded me of ones that my father made when he was in the US Navy.

salvaged leather belts

Belts are also a great source for nice leather patterns and I have even found thin flexible scraps of leather in several colors.
Santa was very good to me this year, gifting a multi size leather punch and an assortment of eyelets and rivets along with the setter to use both.

Leather cuffs are in the future of The FamiLee Jewels.
I am currently working on Steampunk themed Victorian Industrial elements to embellish them.

I will have photos of the finished product to share on the weekend. Until then take a look at these amazing finds that are providing raw material for the project.

New Leather Punch

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Open Jewelry Class: Earring Clinic

January 16Th Bonnie will be returning to At The Warehouse to teach you the joy of making your own earrings.
Never be without the perfect pair of earrings for your outfit.

Once you learn a few simple techniques you will be able to create 100's of designs.

Class fee is $10.00 per person. You will leave the class with 2 pair of completed earrings.
We will supply all of the beads tools and findings for you to use during class.

Instruction will take approximately 1 hour, and will be continuous. Come in anytime between 10 and 4.

At The Warehouse
20 Learned St
Albany, NY

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Steampunk Style or What to wear with Salvage Jewelry

I have been doing a lot of browsing for clothes lately. I have recently lost a significant amount of weight and by Summer want to do some shopping for some special original pieces that will look great with my Salvage jewelry collection.

Khaki Green Tea Party Coat

I love this design by Attiladesign of etsy.

Handcrafted to order and made in Finland,
the detail in the coat dress is fabulous.
The designer calls it modern urban guerrilla.
 I call it wonderful.

I can picture it worn with a dangling pair of earrings made of watch gears in brushed silver.

Malibu Style another etsy artist has
created a fantastic statement with this
upcycled military parka.
Take a look at the detailed embroidery that turns
a utilitarian coat into a fashionable accessory for
cold weather.
Felicity Huffman owns a similar coat by the
same designer.
I will be in great company.

I will have to wear my fingerless gloves to show off
a sterling silver spoon ring.

Steampunk Ankle Shoebooties
Don't these boots look great. I really like the seaming
that makes them look so up to date. I bet that they are
so comfortable.
They are offered by etsy vintage boutique owner elenamc
of New York.
I think they would look fantastic with copper colored
jewelry and basic black.

I will share more pieces as I find them and welcome suggestions.

What do you wear with your salvage pieces
by The FamiLee Jewels?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Why I Need a Mission in Life and Business

The beginning of a new year is  a time for renewal . Get organized, set goals and chart a course for the next 12 months with hope and  enthusiasm. Optimism reigns and I am sure that all of my wonderful ambitions will be realized if I just stick to the plan.  Unfortunately that same optimism causes me to overestimate my ability to accomplish specific tasks in a timely manner and by March I am stressed and far behind.

Are you doing that on purpose? or can't you make up your mind?
The attempt to conquer too many things at once leaves me feeling foggy and out of control. I run around feeling like L Frank Baums Scarecrow, wishing for a brain. Scarecrow is really quite a clever fellow but  lacks confidence so he hangs in the cornfield, his brain all amuddle, going nowhere, until Dorothy comes along.

I was recently tasked with writing a Mission Statement for The FamiLeeJewels and spent a lot of time thinking about it.
Is it really necessary to have a mission statement for such a small endeavor?
Don't I already know why I am doing this?
Will it made a difference  to write it down?
The answer to all of these is yes.
Thinking about the questions  has given me clarity and the idea to plan a New Year of reasonable goals in bite sized portions that will allow me to enjoy the journey.

Focus and Direction.

Those are my words for planning 2011.
The work begins with a Mission Statement.

The FamiLee Jewels purpose is to create unique and wearable art using vintage, antique and recycled objects; to maintain our joy and passion for the process; and to provide a product that is as durable and comfortable to wear as it is lovely.

They think deep thoughts with no more brains than you have.