Monday, February 28, 2011

Winter Wonderland

The Northeastern United States has been inundated with snow this year. 
I haven't experienced a Winter with this much icy precipitation in a long time.
Many of the city streets that I must navigate to get to work are reduced to one lane.
The snow under the birdfeeders is so deep that the squirrels can reach them by standing on their hind legs.
Local radio stations are having how much are you sick and tired of the snow contests.
We have Cabin fever.

Then....just as I think I can't take another minute of it we have a day like Saturday.
It snowed about another foot of heavy almost Spring snow on Friday.
We grumbled.
We complained.
We shoveled.

Saturday morning came with clear blue skies and temperatures in the high 30's. They turned all that snow into a Winter wonderland that made me happy just to see it and be outside.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

February Blog carnival: What's in a Name?

The strong beautiful women of the FamiLee. Nana on the right, Becky next to her
 and I on the left make up The FamiLee Jewels. My sister Donna is center and our niece Jessica to her left.

The FamiLee Jewels started in 2007. The jewelry that we started making as a hobby was overtaking our homes and we needed and outlet for it.
The discussion to choose a name was a spirited one.
We are a FamiLee of strong women.
My Mom, Ella (Nana to her grandchildren and greatgrandchildren), the matriarch of our group raised 4 children on her own while going to school for an accounting degree to improve her job prospects.  She sets the example for the rest of us to live up too.
We are steel willed and opinionated but kind and compassionate too, having been taught by Nana that we are fortunate to have been born in a country that allows us to influence our own destinies. She has always given back to her community  through volunteerism and  the rest of us were raised to do so. 
We are a family of overachievers with high expectations of ourselves and each other.
We are as my sister Donna says "The glue that holds this family together".
Becky was the one to suggest that our name be The Family Jewels. We chuckled at her recommendation but kept coming back to it.
Isn't each member of our family a precious gem?
Don't we cherish one another more than personal riches?
What could be better?
It turned out only the spelling.

With a last name like Lee we couldn't resist the sybolism of changing the spelling to The FamiLee Jewels.

Our Most Precious Jewels.
Becky is busy raising the next generation.

Follow the links to find out how other business chose their names.


Island Girl


Bead Sophisticate

Northern Girl

Starving Jewelry Artists



Paintin by Faith

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Vacation Memories and Souvenirs

Where do you like to go on Vacation?
Penny press
Are you a warm weather seeker?
A mountain camper?
or a baseball fan?

Do you like museums, historic sites and battlefields?

Are you a theme park junkie with a fondness for roller coasters, animated characters and water rides?

My fondest vacation memories include time spent with family and friends in all of these places.

I like to bring home a little souvenir from each happy place that I visit. Something small to hold in my hand that triggers a wonderful memory.

I have a little jar of sand and shells from Rockport, beach glass from the Rose Island Lighthouse, smooth stones from Lake Ontario, iron pyrite from Atlanta, garnet from the Adirondacks  and a magnet from Sea World in my possession.

Last Spring Fred and i went on a trip to New York and visited the Intrepid Museum. While wandering the huge aircraft carrier I came upon a souvenir penny machine. I pressed several pennies with the dies on the Intrepid and found that they gave me a warm memory of my youth when my father (a Navy man himself) would bring us pennies that had been elongated by the wheels of a jet running over them on the flight deck.

I have become fascinated by these tiny treasures.

Pressed Pennies also known as squished pennies or elongated pennies are fun, inexpensive and interactive. The machines are located in many vacation spots throughout the United States. Each machine has it's own die design to make a unique penny for you.
To make a penny souvenir you will need a penny, 2 quarters and a strong arm.
Some machines offer you a choice of more than one design.
I have discovered that pressed pennies are very collectible. You can purchase tiny albums to store your pennies in or you  can keep them with your photographs.
I have decided to make jewelry out of mine.

To learn more about pressed pennies visit:
copper bracelet made of baseball themed souvenir pressed pennies
Charm Bracelet made from pennies pressed in Cooperstown, New York

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Stringing it Up Didn't Satisfy Very Long

Bead stringing lead me to the creative process of making jewelry.  I fell in love with beads of all kinds glass, crystal, wood, seed, and gemstones...the gemstones were amazing. Jasper and agate in seemingly infinite varieties each one like a perfect little art piece, sparkling water clear Herkimer diamonds, and glossy dark red garnets are all favorites.
Hunting for gemstone beads is a fantastic and tactile experience. Touching these beautiful pieces of the earth is somehow both soothing and powerful.
I still enjoy my beads and probably have more than I will use in a lifetime because along the way I was disappointed to discover that I don't like bead stringing very much. I do enjoy combining the beads, working out unique color palettes and textures but the process of putting it all together with beading wire or silk thread and crimps and covers and wire guardians is tedious and unappealing.
Wire work on the other hand holds endless fascination...even the repetitious tasks like coiling and viking knit are enjoyable.
Beautiful beads are used as accents for a piece of work that is focused on metal and salvage.
I still get to play with the beads.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Love Forevermore

Eco Friendly Steampunk Collage Necklace by The FamiLee jewels on etsy
Fred and I have been married for 35 years today. Yes we were romantic enough to get married on Valentines Day in 1976. Fred has a heart big enough to embrace the world and I love him more than ever.
We planned a lovely day of Museum exhibits and a late lunch, then off to watch Freddy play hockey at the Civic Center. I will be wearing this creation titled Love Forevermore all day!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

How I fell in Love with Creating

I grew up in a military family. We moved every 2 years during my childhood and I attended 6 different schools. Somehow in all of the moving I don't remember ever taking an art class. I never considered this a problem or felt that I had missed something.  If I thought about creativity at all I didn't think of myself as artistic or creative. 
I wanted to be though, it was the 70's after all!

As a young adult I learned to knit and crochet as well as how use a sewing machine.I took some ceramic classes and asked a favorite Aunt to teach me the basics of decorative painting.

An old key takes on new life as a necklace.
 I enjoyed exploring artistic possibilities. It was fun to follow a pattern and complete a project.
I took a watercolor class and tried to teach myself to draw by following the exercises in a book called Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.  I still find drawing even a simple form a daunting task but while doing these exercises, for the first time in my life I felt like I was letting go and allowing myself to create.
For the first time I felt the focus of artistic pursuit.

In January of 2006 I enrolled in a community sponsored class about jewelry making. The class was fun and the beads were addictive. Google searches lead me to jewelry designers Eni Oken, Preston Reuther and Sharilyn Miller whose work with beads and gemstones showcases them with wire.
My imagination soared. I fell in love with wire wrapping and other cold connections. They allowed me  to use unconventional materials to create jewelry.

I began incorporating small treasures into my pieces.
Beach glass, pretty stones, old coins, vintage hardware, game tokens, fossils and pieces of old Valentines all found their way into my designs. 

Yes, my designs.  I am finally an artist, a person who loves to create. A person who designs jewelry as wearable art because she doesn't know how to stop.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Free Bracelet Giveaway!

Hancrafted copper cuff Leaf  by The FamiLee Jewels
 The FamiLee jewels are giving away one of Bonnie's handcrafted copper cuff bracelets.
This is a $15 value.

Help us to spread the word about The FamiLee jewels. Make a comment on the blog, tweet the giveaway, or post it to your face book page and  I will enter your name into the drawing.

Winner will be announced on February 21st!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What have You Done For Me Lately?

"It is the example of each persons life much more than his or her words that speaks with power.  Even the smallest action done with a loving appreciation of life can profoundly touch other human beings."

I saw this quote by Duane Elgin in a blog post recently.
It stuck with me......hanging in the back of my mind and making me think about the people who inspire me to be a better person with the way they live their lives.

Fred is my husband of 34 years. He is an extremely caring person, so friendly and garrulous in attitude that it makes you happy to be in his company. The dog and cat argue over who gets to sit in his lap and you should see the joy on the faces of our 3 little grandsons when they know that their Pip is coming to see them.  Fred is a colon cancer survivor. Many people would feel angry and bitter about that battle. Fred's appreciation for life was enhanced.  I have learned from him that joys as well as sorrows are better when shared.

My wonderful Mother Ella is the strongest person I know. Her integrity is unwavering and the way she gives of herself makes me wonder if I can ever live up to her example. At 79 she still volunteers her time at a local Nursing home teaching jewelry classes and going on outings with wheelchair bound Seniors who would otherwise not have a chance to leave the facility.  I have learned from her the pleasure of doing things for others.

A Reiki practitioner has taught me the importance of taking care of myself and staying centered.
A former teacher shared with me the rewards of persistance.
An uncle living with unrelenting chronic pain instructs me about living with grace and dignity under difficult circumstances.

So tell me.
Who inspires you in the way they live their life?
What have they taught you lately?

This is a Week for Questions