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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Busy Week Behind Me...

Happy Saturday everyone.  It has been a busy week at my house.  I took Justice to the vet to have her thyroid levels monitored and the thyroid medicine she had been on had over corrected taking her levels to 6.6.  Normal for a dog is between 1 and 4.  When Justice was first tested last December, her level was 1.9.  We were advised at that time to wait six months and retest.  In June when we retested, it had fallen to 1.3 and along with the fact that she had high cholesterol, Dr. Deam and I decided to put her on levothyroxin.  Having too much thyroid can cause other problems like damage to organs, high blood pressure, etc., but at least we know the medicine is working.  I have cut her dose drastically and will retest in 30 days.  Like in people, sometimes, it takes some tweeking to get the right dose, but I continue to be optimistic and thrilled that we have at least identified the problem and are working to correct it so that Justice can maintain optimal health as long as possible.

I have also been busy, busy making jewelry.  Stringing Magazine's deadline for Spring 2013 submissions is September 29 (by e-mail) and two weeks later for their office.  So, I make something, e-mail it and then it goes in one or two piles.  Send It In or Don't Send It In.  So far the Send It In pile is bigger than the Don't Send It In pile, but not by much.  The important thing to me, however, is that I'm having fun.

I have managed to make a couple of other pieces this week that I can show you now.  When I am working on pieces to submit to a magazine, I really go through my stash in a thorough fashion looking for inspiration and often I will make something not to submit but something that just needs to be made.  At least I think it does.

This first piece is a necklace I made using Ingrid Mueller's Blue Iris Pendant.  I had these beautiful deep blue beads and I also liked the contrast of the flower beads.  They are peach and pear and I arranged them so that they begin at the bottom with a lot of peach and fade to more pear as they go up the neckstrap.  I am not sure about this necklace.  What do you all think about it?  Is there too much contrast and not enough transition in it?

Since I have been making ball headpins, I have found all kinds of cool ways to use them.  On this piece, I balled one end - strung two beads and balled the other end.  Then I used the distance between the beads to twist them at the top.  Unlike making dangles, they stay in place and hold the orientation that you want them to hold.  Pretty cool, huh!

I also made a cuff bracelet using one of
Ingrid's horse cuffs.  It is a remake of a
previous piece that sold rather quickly.

Again, I used my double balled headpin thingy to add a couple of turquoise beads with a twist.

I made a lariat necklace using one of Alison Crenshaw's polymer clay owls and egg beads and one of Ingrid's brown porcelain beads.  These are a gorgeous topaz/turquoise bead mix that I ordered wholesale.  I received 2.2 lbs. of them (a kilo) so you will probably be seeing a lot of those in the future.

Oh my goodness, are those more twisty beads below the owl.  I think they might be.

Finally for today, another lariat using Cindy Dolezal's ceramic pink bird, Nan Emmett's faceted blue bead, Alison's blue egg, and a mix of wood rounds, jasper and another wholesale order of Czech aged striped beads.  I now have lots of those too so will not be so stingy with them.  If you have been following this type of bead, you know they are very, very expensive.

I hope everyone has a great weekend.  In Kansas City, it has turned a bit cooler, so I would also like to get some yard work done this weekend.  Maybe that will happen and maybe not.  We'll see.


Monday, September 17, 2012

The Winner of the Barbara Hanselman $50 Gift Certificate Is........

#5 Mary Shannon Hicks.

Mary, please contact Barbara directly to redeem your prize.  CONGRATULATIONS!  I am green with envy......but with a little concealer I'm dealing with it!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Barbara Hanselman Structural Pendant Challenge Reveal Day

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen.  This is going to be a long one so make sure you have a nice fresh cup of coffee and prepare to be awed.

Today is the reveal day for the Barbara Hanselman Structural Pendant Challenge and Giveaway.  This whole thing started when Barbara included one of her structural pendants in my order as a gift with a little note challenging me to see what I could come up with.  You can read about the original challenge post by clicking here. 

The following piece is what I made with her generous gift and challenge.  You see, I have found in the last few years of making jewelry, that a challenge is a good thing, at least in this context.  It takes us down paths we would not have otherwise gone and that is a good thing. At least I know that has proven to be true for me.  And, I suspect you are no different and it is also true for you.

But this post is not about me.  It is first about all the wonderful creative talent of Barbara Hanselman.  I want to first give you links to Barbara's Etsy Store and to Barbara's Website so that you can learn more about Barbara and the inspiration for her work.  I encourage you to spend some time in both places.

Barbara has a long, long resume in the arts, but I asked her to tell us a bit about how her background led her to where we are today - this challenge.  This is what Barbara had to say.

"Sculptural focals are not new to me. When I first started hand building with clay, I would save all the 'trimmings' from my pots and make clay pins from these leftover cuts. They looked so sculptural, that I mounted the pieces (with their pin backs) in frames for hanging when they were not being worn. (Designing a mounting for them was a little tricky but well worth the effort.) The idea of "wearing art" came out of this and even today when I fabricate a total necklace, I tend to display & offer it for sale in a custom made frame... handmade ART should be constantly on display!

Recently when I returned to making sculptural clay pieces as focals, I became aware of the CHALLENGE they were to many jewelry artists, so when Jean decided to feature them on her blog, I was thrilled. I believe they ask the creator of a finished neck piece to think more like an artist. They encourage us to go beyond being makers of well-crafted jewelry and become more visionary. I can't wait to see all the museum quality pieces which have been fashioned using my focals!

Barbara calls this piece "Tire Tracks". She specifically designed it to be reversible.

She wire wrapped the four corners with 22 gauge copper wire to a frame of 12 gauge hammered copper wire.  She oxidized the wire.

She hand formed the chain from 12 g wire and her clay center-hole stoneware discs are wrapped with 14 g copper to form connecting links. 

By making it in this fashion, Barbara virtually made it two necklaces in one.

The earrings are made with niobium ear wires.

My first piece for this challenge.  I used the same technique as I did on the first pendant by putting beads in the large holes; however, this time I backed them with domed copper caps and I added a soft leather ribbon at the top.  I recently made a wholesale order for some wonderful rustic aged Czech glass beads and was anxious to use those.  I thought they complimented the pendant perfectly.
I made coiled copper ends for the 3mm leather strand and made a special clasp with a lightning shape to match the lightning shapes I added to the wire on the pendant.

Barbara further challenged me to make it this second piece reversible.  She had made the pendant with a gorgeous design on each side.  I originally pictured this pendant with a plain wide leather neck strap, but I tried several different things, but I couldn't figure out how to attach it so that it would lay flat.  As an alternative design, I went with very dainty small macrame using .5mm aged leather.  It is worked with the rustic etched lampwork beads of Julie Burgard of Outwest.  Doing the macrame gave me the wide leather look that I wanted and it lays correctly.

I used more of the aged striped Czech beads that I recently received, along with red, black and blond horn rice beads and a nice silver Buddha charm that I recently purchased from Happy Mango Beads which also was reversible on both sides.  Well that was the key.  I tied it to the top of the pendant with the same aged leather and now you can just flip the Buddha to one side or the other making this one truly reversible.

Now, for our challengers.  One lucky winner will be drawn by Random Generator to be the recipient of a $50.00 Gift Certificate from Barbara's Shop.  Wow, what a thrill it would be to win that!

 I have listed the following participants in the order that they provided me with pictures of their finished pieces.  Just so you know, I have disqualified myself from winning the gift certificate, well because, that's just the kind of gal I am.  

NUMBER 1.  The first challenger is Julie Thelen.  She has been designing jewelry since before 2008.  She is a proud member of the international organization for the Self-Representing Artist in Jewelry Design -- SRAJD 2335. You can see more of her work at Julie Thelen's Jewels by Jules.  All of Julie's work is beautiful, but Julie makes some beautiful handmade belt buckles.  They are like nothing I have ever seen.  If you have not seen them before, you should take a few minutes and look at them. 

 For her piece, Julie used recycled beads and discs from Ghana, carved wooden beads, mykonos Greek beads, chocolate brown leather and beautiful handcarved and handpainted polymer beads from One Urban Tribe on etsy.
She also made a pair of matching earrings.

Julie told me that she had an absolute blast with this challenge and that this piece is one of her favorites.
She said she had fun and learned a lot!

I want to point out that this photograph is the backside of her necklace and in my opinion, Julie has also accomplished the challenge of making it truly a reversible piece.

Number 2.  The second challenger is Maressa Garner of Kiss of Venus.  She considers herself an assemblage artist rather than a jeweler and, boy, can I relate to that.  She loves most things old, organic, ethnic and natural.

In her piece she used a variety of organic materials -- clay, bone, hammered Smokey Quartz, Myrrh resin, pyrite, wood, rough faceted Andalusite, and worn glass.
About her piece, Maressa says, "I love the marriage of gemstones with elemental earthen materials and think it lends an appropriate energy to the rustic, slightly primeval imagery of the Green Man."
"I love to work with symbols, and in particular, those of Celtic origin. Creating a modern work of wearable art with symbols, imagery, and intention which trace back thousands of years is a unique way to merge the past and present. This piece, which I have dubbed 'Cernunnos' recalls the ancient horned god once worshiped by the Celts and other polytheistic religions."

Maressa does beautiful work. I have admired her work for some time, especially her bracelets.  She just has a way with them. 

Number 3.  The third challenger is Lynn Ferro of Yuccabloom.  In Lynn's etsy store profile, she says of her work, "I travel deep into my imagination for my designs which is inspired from all my amazing customer's who can't wait to see each new listing."  I am here to tell you that her imagination is a beautiful place.  If you are not familiar with her work, you owe it to yourself to spend some time in her store.

Lynn's creative journey with this challenge began by just looking at Barbara's store.  Of that journey, Lynn says.....

Well, let’s start with this amazing yet unusual pendant from Barbara. I mean, that’s what got this whole challenge started in the first place!

When I was searching in Barbara’s shop for just the right one, I looked at all of them over and over again, contemplating how to create something amazing from each. Her pictures are dead on for what you receive, but I was concerned about size. I felt safe choosing this one because I thought it would give me a couple of design options. My first impression of this piece was a gate, an old worn fence gate, but then I also saw a contemporary piece with an Asian flare. I think the curves mixed with the straight lines and the swirls brought the Asian appeal to me. All in all, this is how I arrived to my final choice.

When the piece arrived, I examined it for quite some time, like Jean mentioned with her piece, I had to “get acquainted with it”. I turned it on every side to determine what would be the best lay out. The challenge on this one was the loop on the side. I really wanted to use it to hang a bunch of dangly charms from, but because of where it was positioned, it was tough. Then the leather came out and it was clear going forward that I would choose a Western design.

I knew I wanted to hang beads from the rails and the leather gave the pendant a medicine bag-pouch look. The leather took me a couple of tries for the right length and stitching, yes I scrapped a few pieces through this process☺. Once that was complete, the threaded beads were easy. Since there was so much going on with the pendant, I wanted the neckline to be somewhat simple, yet relative. Choosing rustic glass beads mixed with some silver African spacers and leather, I think it completed the piece perfectly.

This was the first “contest” I have participated in. It was a blast and would be thrilled to do it all over again. Thanks Jean for asking me to participate. Without your nudge this creation would not have come to fruition.

~ Lynn Ferro

Number 4.  Emily Cohen of Catfish Studio sent me a picture of a beautiful sterling silver and clay necklace she made from Barbara's work.  She and Barbara have known each other for years and have worked together.  

Emily says of her piece, "I made the fish  from scraps that Barbara had left from a large piece, maybe a cup.  She turned the scraps into small clay "cabochons"  for lack of a better term and this one looked like a fish to me.  I cut the fish shape from sterling sheet, soldered on a bezel, set the body into the piece and put it on a chain.  And there you have Barbara's fish necklace."  "I've really enjoyed seeing your work.  It has inspired me to try new techniques as I am getting back into my jewelry making after spending a year or more packing and moving and neglecting art."

Emily presently lives in Ormond Beach, FL having moved from Ardmore, PA where she lived for 17 years.  You can see more about Emily and her work at her website Catfish Studio.  I took a browse through it and saw some gorgeous things.

Number 5.   Mary Shannon Hicks has been seriously making jewelry, mostly beaded, since 1994.  Her mother was tremendously gifted, could sew and crochet, and even as a child Shannon made crafts with her mother, especially at Christmas.  Mary recalls that one year they made angels out of styrofoam balls, old Reader's Digests and lacy doilies!

The chain is silk wrapped closed with wire, and then between the silk links, it's wire wrapped jump rings.

Of her piece, Shannon says, "Here is my Navette Ladder Necklace for Saturday's Blog Hop.  I made three navettes from a pattern by Diane Fitzgerald, then I made some simple brick stitch components for the other side.  After that, I added some silk and wire wrapped components and Greek ceramic beads (some of my faves.)  Last, I wire wrapped some green navette dangles and hung them from the bottom with silk knots."


You will recall that in the original post about this challenge, I said that this was the piece I was going to buy next - if it didn't sell.  After seeing her necklace, I want you all to know that I have forgiven Shannon for buying the piece that I wanted.  It clearly found its rightful place in Shannon's care.  It's beautiful!




Mary Shannon enjoys making jewelry where most of it becomes the treasured gifts for family and friends.  She does have a blog where she chronicles her work at Falling Into The Sky.  She also has a Pinterest link where she shows some of her work as well at Gypsy Moon Dancer.

In Conclusion:

I hope all of you who have found your way here today have enjoyed this post.  Most importantly, I wanted to honor Barbara Hanselman's work and the work of all the artists who have participated in this challenge.  I wanted to provide an opportunity to share our work which has as its center, one woman's art and to extend her initial challenge to me to other artists who were brave enough to pick up the challenge and do something with it.  Last, but certainly not least, I wanted to have fun and I certainly did that.  It was really nice getting to know you guys - some for the first time.  I want to thank all of you who were touched in any way by this post.  Whether you participated by making something to be revealed today, whether you took the time to leave a comment, or whether you just took the time to read this post.  I hope it touched each and every one of you in a positive and creative way.  And, my heart felt Thank You all for your participation.  I hope you all have had as much fun as I have had.

Now, you say, SHOW ME THE MONEY!  After I did my original "Challenge" post, which I did without first discussing it with Barbara at all, she saw the post and contacted me and made the offer of the $50.00 Gift Certificate to her store.  Wasn't that generous of her!  That's the kind of lady she is!  In my original post I had said that I would not be posting the reveal until Sunday.  I am a day early.  I also said that Barbara would do a random drawing and that we would announce the winner on Wednesday, September 19, 2012.  I don't think it will take her that long but in fairness to anyone that may have been counting on the reveal being tomorrow, I think it best if we wait another day to do the drawing.  I will post the winner on Monay, September 17, 2012 pray, cross your fingers, speak to the universe, meditate about it, or just wish really hard that you see your name posted on Monday.  Good luck to you, Julie, Maressa, Lynn, Emily and Mary Shannon.

(If any of you see anything that I have gotten wrong, please e.mail me at and I will correct it.)


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Reminder! Barbara Hanselman Structural Pendant Challenge

The purpose of this post is to remind you that if you are planning to participate in the Barbara Hanselman Structural Pendant Challenge, that the reveal day is Saturday and I need your submission either today or tomorrow.  Everyone participating will be included in a random drawing for a $50.00 Gift Certificate to Barbara's shop at BHClaysmith.

Don't miss out on your chance to win such a GREAT prize. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Update on my Girl, Justice Marie the Rottweiler

Several of you have asked me recently how Justice Marie, my 8+ year old Rottweiler is doing.  Back in late spring-early summer, she developed a neck issue that caused her to yelp when she would get up from a laying-on-her-side position.  I took her to our regular vet who said it could be a slipped disc, a ruptured disc, require surgery, etc. and she wanted to put Justice under anesthesia to take x-rays.  She quoted me a minimum of $250.00 and as we all know, the x-rays would not have had any benefit for Justice at all - it would have been solely for the vet's information.   I wasn't against taking x-rays, but I was against putting her under to do it so we tried a couple of weeks of Prevacox to treat the pain in hopes the condition would get better on its own.  It did, but then she developed a hitch or a gimp (not really a full blown limp) on her front left leg.  A couple of different people told me that the leg issue could be related to the neck issue.

After much thinking, pondering, internet surfing, etc. it occurred to me that perhaps she would benefit from a Chiropractor.  My regular vet was no help in that regard and certainly did not encourage me to try that which left me a little dazed.  So I set out to find one on my own.  In the Kansas City, MO area, I found two - one was a people chiropractor that had additional training for animals and the other one was a veterinarian that had additional training for the treatment of animals - in my case dogs.  After having a lengthy conversation with her on the telephone (when was the last time a vet had a lengthy conversation with you on the telephone BEFORE you had become a patient?) I took Justice to her for evaluation and treatment.  I figured I had $250.00 to spend on treatments which would most likely benefit Justice and she only charges $37.00 for each adjustment.

This picture was taken during a four-day trip that we took the first of August to the Lake of the Ozarks area in Missouri.  The dogs had great fun swimming in the Osage River.  Justice is not fond of the water but the other two had great fun in it.  What Justice does like, though, is biscuits and Joe was able to coax her out into pretty deep water using the food.  More than a few times, her rear-end floated upward and she was swimming without even knowing it.  The important thing was that she didn't panic and seemed to enjoy being out in the water with us.  I didn't take any pictures of that because I didn't want to get my iPhone that close to the water - I fell on my keester into the water more than once that trip.

Well, improvement didn't come overnight, but it did come.  I started out by taking Justice in once a week for about a month, then we dropped back to every two weeks.  It has now been a month since her last adjustment and she is moving just fine with no apparent pain of any kind.  But, I am taking her in for another one later this week.  I think it is important to keep having her adjusted on a regular basis.  I see no reason for her to start showing symptoms if I can avoid them in the first place.  Besides, it is time to do blood work to monitor her high cholesterol and her thyroid levels.

Now, I want you all to know about this vet.  Her name is Billie Deam, DVM, she is located in north Kansas City and her phone number is 816-746-1333.  She is now my "regular vet".  The first day that Dr. Deam examined Justice, Justice weighed 99 pounds - way too much even for a Rottweiler.  The weight was hard on her joints which was making any leg or neck issue she had worse, and we were in a non-ending cycle.  Believe me folks when I say that I don't feed Justice all that much.  During Dr. Deam's care of Justice, she has determined that Justice is hypo-thyroid and we have started her on thyroid medicine.  She has lost nine pounds in the last two months without passing on one little dog biscuit.  My other vet had the information in Justice's file that she should have (in my opinion) made the diagnosis - but all she ever did was hound me about her weight.

Also, during Dr. Deam's care of Justice she asked me about Adequan.  I had never heard of it.  Apparently, it is a glucosamine-type of drug (Justice has been on daily glucosamine/chondroitin/MSM since the day I got her) that was developed for horses to protect their joints.  It was so effective that it is now formulated for dogs.  It is given as an injection and Dr. Deam gave her the first one about eight weeks ago at a cost of $78.00 (which I felt was worth it if it would help protect Justice's joints).  I buy the Adequan online from, Dr. Deam provides a prescription and they are at a cost of $20.00 per injection.  I also took my bed apart and am now sleeping on the mattress on the floor so that Justice doesn't have to jump down so far to get out of bed.  I guess I would sleep in the dirt with her if she would benefit from it.

Dr. Deam has been an angel to us.  Her prices are so reasonable, her assistance is above and beyond, and she has actually done Justice some good.  She is open to alternative treatments, takes a common sense approach to treating an animal and I think she was heaven sent.

And, this is Justice last night after our walk while they were watching me fix their dinner.  The second picture is all three of them.  Aren't they gorgeous?  I can tell you one thing - the three of them account for a lot of dog! 

That's Justice Marie in front, Sophia Suzanne next and Jebadiah Boone in the back.  This is how they line up almost every night while I fix their supper after they've had their long walks. I took all of these pictures with my fairly new iPhone.  Just today figured out how to get them off my phone into my computer.

For those of you who were wondering, you now know that all three are doing very well, Justice especially so given her joint and neck issues.

Monday, September 10, 2012

What I've Been Making.....

I was very busy last week making jewelry.  But, first I'd like to remind you that this coming Saturday, September 15, 2012, will be reveal day here on my blog for the Barbara Hanselman Pendant Challenge.Barbara Hanselman Pendant Challenge.  I expect about five participants and Barbara and I are even going to join in.  You will also recall that Barbara is going to choose a random winner among the participants for a $50 gift certificate to her shop which is  She makes the most amazing stoneware pottery and jewelry components and her finishes are so unique. It will be amazing so be sure to check back.

Now on to some of the things I've been making.

I made these earrings using Lynda Cogbill's beautiful lampwork beads.  I was using this as an opportunity to hone my skills making my own copper ball headpins with my fire-breathing dragon.

Well, when I got the pair finished and was photographing them, I noticed that I had made one earring with a bottom like the ones above and another with a bottom like the ones below. 

I didn't want to cut off my beautiful gorgeous wonderful hand made ball headpins, so I solved the problem by making another pair and using Julie Burgard's rustic green lampwork beads.  I love these beads and have been hesitant to use them, but I think both pairs are gorgeous on these earrings.

I also cleaned most of the silver finish off of the wonderful bohemian components to reveal the copper underneath.  There is just a tad of silver left.

Of course, I've been working on my challenge pieces for the reveal this Saturday, but you will have to check back to see those.......

I've been making some new yoga jewelry.  Marti Conrad made me two sets of white stoneware Chakra beads and I made a matching necklace and bracelet.  The beads on the necklace are quite small, only about 3/8" diameter, which makes it a very easy necklace to wear all the time, even while working out.

The beads on the bracelet are just a little larger and it is also a very easy to wear piece.  I also used brown beads by Ingrid to represent the root chakra and crystals to represent the crown chakra.

And, I recently received a set of Czech glass beads with a beautiful matte beach glass finish in the colors of the Chakra so I made a less expensive version using the glass rather than the stoneware.

I also met a wood bead maker, Mike Amadeo, who makes the most amazing wood beads I've ever seen.  The quality is out of this world.  I purchased a few of his items and have made a pair of earrings and a necklace. I am going to feature an interview with him shortly and show you some of his gorgeous work.  I will be doing a bigger post about him tomorrow or the next day to introduce him prior to the interview.  In the meantime, here is a taste of what he does.

I think there may have been some confusion here.  I did not make these earrings and this necklace, Mike did.  I just borrowed the picture from him.  Doesn't he do beautiful work? Watch for his interview where you will see things you just won't believe.  In the meantime, check out his etsy shop at Amadeo Beads

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Meet Bella

If you follow this blog, you will recall the recent post saying goodbye to Daisy, Isabelle's sweet English Coon Hound that recently crossed the Rainbow Bridge.  That post also shared a bit about how Daisy acquired Isabelle (yes, I got that right) and shared a bit about their short time together.  If you want to read it, you can find it Here

Well, I am tickled pink to now share that Isabelle has a new best friend named Bella.  (Notice the similarity between their names - Isabelle ponders whether Daisy sent Bella to her).  Bella is a seven year old Australian Shepherd.  Bella moved in to stay right away.  While Isabelle's time has many demands made upon it, right away a support system fell into place that made it possible for Bella to stay.
Isabelle reports that Bella is a calm soul and will actually need some getting her little body into shape. Is that one happy pooch or what?

That is Bella's new daddy rolling on the ground with her.  Yay, Bella.  You go girl!

Thank you Isabelle, and your hubby, for giving yet another sweet dog a forever home.  She is a cutie!