Thursday, March 30, 2006

Sunstone, Swarovski, Boro and Vermeil

I am a huge fan of gold, even though I know that sterling silver is the rage (but gold is coming back "in" as a fashion must). I had to post this bracelet because I was so happy with the way that it turned out. Wonderful borosilicate beads are alternated with the new copper coloured Swarovski rondelles; the gemstone beads are sunstone, a pale sunstone, but still with the telltale sparkle that makes sunstone such a beauty. The turquoise beads are lampwork and the gold is vermeil. Many people are unsure what vermeil is (pronounced vair - may). The base of vermeil is actually sterling silver; then the sterling is plated with 24 karat (usually, it can be a lower karat) gold. In the world of handcrafted jewelry, vermeil is often the alternative to using actual gold or base metal plated findings. First, the choice of findings in, say, 14 karat gold is extremely limited and prohibitively expensive. Even gold filled items, though a good choice, are hard to find. Vermeil, perhaps because its base is sterling presents a choice for quality, yet affordable, gold findings. With care (don't go swimming in it, take a shower in it, wear it non-stop for days) and proper storage (actually a baggy is great), it will look great for years and years.
This bracelet is up for auction on Ebay this week: check for Cluny Grey or user id: chloemarie99.

Cluny Grey Jewelry

Monday, March 27, 2006

The Art of the Bracelet

I have no special theme for this blog; I just got some different lampwork beads in from a bead artist I haven't used before, and it drove me to create. These beads were really not in sets the way so many usually are although some have similar colours. Just one lampwork bead is in the first bracelet, and it has a strong yellow, green, and an orangey-red with a touch of yellow, too. I decided to go crazy and used yellow agate, carved brecciated jasper, yellow calcite, and an Indian agate oval. I used a light chain for a second strand with a few little cubes of yellow calcite dangling from it in three places.
I'm still using some Indian agate here, and some fancy jasper. The two lampwork beads are different but still in the same strong colour families. This time I used larger links and used just a half strand after finishing the first one. The charms are Indian agate and Karen Hill Tribes' sterling silver.
I love to work with purple (always - even though I don't wear purple clothes really). The large floral encased lampwork bead on the left is from James Derrick Reeves, and the lentil on the right is one of the new beads (and one I really like). I was going to add charms, but now I'm not sure. The chain has patterned oval links and I have fastened it in 2 places so that it has a scalloped effect. I've used fluorite, a purple fancy jasper rectangle, amethyst nuggets, and a purple crazy lace agate rondelle.
I am fond of mixing the chain with the bracelets having gemstones and lampwork combined. It gives a certain je ne sais quoi that I especially like.

Cluny Grey Jewelry

Monday, March 20, 2006

Lampwork and Gemstones and Silver, Oh My!

I have got to stop buying lampwork beads or I am going to be broke. But they are so enticing, even on an internet page. I like them best when they are combined with gemstones although later this week I'm going to start doing a few with just lampwork and Swarovski crystals.
One of my favorite lampworkers is James Derrick Reeves; I use his beads all the time, and I have used them in the bracelet above. I love his colour combinations. This particular set had turquoise with 2 tones of purple - a very pinkish purple or almost magenta, and a true purple. I used some of the beads in the set with some fantastic amazonite that I'd bought recently - amazonite that is a very nice clear turquoise colour (I'm having a difficult time finding pretty amazonite lately). I added a couple of purple crazy lace agate faceted rondelles and a charoite barrel. I favored the Thai sterling silver from the Karen Hill Tribes: an intricate rose charm, a pretty toggle clasp, and a great cap that I inserted amazonite into to look like a flower bud charm. Spring is practically here!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Another stone for me to fall in love with! This time it's muscovite: a relatively soft stone but with great sparkle! And sparkle does it for me! In the bracelet above (if you're not familiar with the gemstone) the muscovite is the purplish stone with flecks; there are ovals and rectangles - all smooth. Oh, but that sparkle, like little pieces of glitter stuck beneath the surface! The colour of muscovite reminds me of biting inside a ripe plum (the colour - I'm not chewing on the muscovite). I really like this bracelet, and not just because of the muscovite. I like the faceted Cape amethyst nuggets, the half strand made of opal-lined glass beads, the little rectangular charm from the Karen Hill Tribes that hangs from it, and of course the lampwork beads: the larger by James Derrick Reeves and the smaller by Burt Gumeson (my 2 favorite lampworkers). If it doesn't sell (it's up for auction on Ebay this week), I'm thinking about keeping it for myself.

Cluny Grey Jewelry

Monday, March 13, 2006

The Challenge of Polymer Clay

Along with making my regular jewelry, I have been playing with polymer clay, a very interesting medium that is fascinating to work with because of the ability to blend or swirl colours. The top pendant was just a colour experiment - I love the metallics, so I always have to introduce the copper, gold, or silver in with it. The next piece is my first attempt at making a rose; I made the rose, and fired it, but haven't yet sanded or smoothed it or coated it with a gloss. Keeping fingerprints and nail prints out of the finished product I see will be a problem already, especially if I can't sand them out. How do others get the finished product to look so perfect?

The next piece is actually two pieces blended into one bracelet. First, I am interested in chain maille, so the chain part of the bracelet was an experiment that ended happily I thought with mixing different rings together. Then I made the stone part of the bracelet in response to another Forum challenge at Art Jewelry magazine: my colours were soft blue, apricot, and lavender. Blue lace agate served for the soft blue, large freshwater pearls and sunstone for the apricot, and Cape amethyst for the lavender. When I combined it with the chain maille, I was quite happy with the result and felt I had risen to the challenge.

The final bracelet is one I made thinking about the crisp navy blues of Spring - especially navy mixed with white. The rainbow moonstone I used has tons of flash, and I adore iolite. I also like double strand bracelets a lot. So i was rather satisfied with this bracelet as well. Not a bad week for jewelry!

  • Cluny Grey Jewelry

    Wednesday, March 08, 2006

    Aquamarine: March's Birthstone

    Aquamarine is a very popular stone named because of its colour (from Latin "water of the sea") which is actually caused by iron. It is a member of the beryl family (like the emerald)with a Moh's hardness of 7 1/2 to 8.
    Sailors often wore amulets or talismans of aquamarine since they believed that it would protect them on ocean journies and repel sea monsters.
    Aquamarine symbolizes friendship and also represents the astrological signs Gemini, Aries and Pisces.
    Some believe that aquamarine will help with breathing problems and eye illnesses, and will cure the hiccups (how it does this I don't know!). Emotionally, aquamarine is believed to ease depression, grief, and rejuvenate love.
    The most important deposits are in Minas Gerais, Brazil. Aquamarine can also be found in china, Australia, Burma, India, Kenya, Madagscar, Mozambique, Nigeria, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and the USA.
    I like mixing aquamarine with lampwork (as you can see above). Aquamarine is also gorgeous with sterling silver.

    I have more aquamarine on my website and Ebay store Studio G and on my website: Cluny Grey Jewelry.

    Cluny Grey Jewelry

    Wednesday, March 01, 2006

    Inspiration and Perspiration or What Is Necessary To Make Jewelry

    If the colours in this bracelet look unusual for me, it's because they were given to me as a challenge by the ART JEWELRY MAGAZINE FORUM (thanks Karlarei!) The bracelet includes lampwork beads, jade, and yellow calcite as well as sterling silver.

    I love these challenges since they wake me up and force me to put things together that I would have shied away from before. If you make jewelry,even casually, but love to do it, try a colour challenge (or some other kind of design challenge) with other jewelrymaking friends - remembering to let them tell you what you must attempt. The results may surprise you!I am still entranced with amazonite and with ocean jasper (found off the coast of Madagascar; hmmm... there is a water theme there) and so I combined them both with some lampwork beads (by James Derrick Reeves, one of my favorite lampworkers). The faceted amazonite and the smooth ocean jasper beads are a delight to work with.

    I've been trying to use up my stock of chrysoprase (so I can buy more, I guess) and green beads in preparation for Saint Patrick's Day. I especially like the way the earrings turned out with the green onyx bezel set at the bottom and the little dangles below. You can't really see them very well in this picture though. One of the charms is a bright sterling silver Karen Hill Tribe orchid - I adore these filigreed flower pendants/charms. Of course, I think that Karen Hill Tribe is some of the best silverwork in the world!

    Before one of the Forum challenges, I hadn't touched my rhodonite for a while although I love working with faceted rectangles, ovals and carved beads and I had all of these in rhodonite. The Forum made me go back to the rhodonite container and check out all the beads. I also love leopardskin jasper - a stone that looks so wonderful you would almost think that someone had painted the pattern on - but it is natural. I put these two together and I like them so much that I am going to have to make a set for myself with gold or vermeil.
    Most of the jewelry here is up for auction on Ebay this week (check cluny grey or user id: chloemarie99). It's also on the Cluny Grey website.

    Cluny Grey Jewelry