Monday, October 29, 2007

Mother of Pearl, Labradorite, and Lampwork

It's a miracle I have any new pictures to post: besides doing custom work and packing like crazy, we have been remodeling our home (new floors in 3 downstairs rooms, a new upstairs bathroom, and downstairs bathroom as well as some cosmetic changes and painting the den). The workers are finally finished and my work has just begun. All the furniture in the rooms we changed had to be moved and while the workers moved the furniture back (my whole closet had to be emptied - shelving and all!) this is a wonderful opportunity to clean, clear out old clothes and all the junk we seem to have collected over the years. Of course, we still have to get a lot of decorating done. Fun, but whew! time-consuming and tiring!
A couple of nights I stayed very late at the studio, and the result is what you see on this post today.
When I started out, I didn't mean to work with mother-of-pearl, but like so many times, these funny silver mother of pearl pieces were on the workbench where I kept looking at them until I had to pick them up and play with them. The result: earrings and a bracelet made with silver mother-of-pearl with an Aurora Borealis coating added and Swarovski crystals in Silver Shadow.
Of course, I love labradorite and work with it any chance I get, so the natural thing to do when I realized I needed to replenish the abalone jewelry stock was to mix abalone and labradorite together with sterling silver and some of my favorite lampwork beads from Robin Weber. It's a combination that I've used before, but one I don't think that I will tire of anytime soon.
The last lampwork bracelet is one of the prettiest bracelets I've ever made. Unfortunately, the picture is one of the worst that I've ever taken. I think that the soft almost opalescent pink on the beads is so subtle that it just doesn't show up well. The lampwork beads are made by Lynn Nurge of Laffingull (she's the beadmaker who makes smaller scale beads that are perfect for bracelets). I've mixed the lampwork with good gem quality peridot and sterling silver. The second strand of the bracelet is a very large linked sterling chain with the tiniest little sterling daisy charms hanging from the links (these don't show up very well either).
To my readers in the Scandinavia and Estonia, I'm sure that you're beginning to snuggle in and get cozy while to those of you in Hawaii (you know who you are), once again, I am so jealous of your climate. Meanwhile, I can see that a fire in our fireplace is in the near future.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Opal: The October Birthstone (One of Them)

Here it is almost the middle of October and I haven't really posted anything about the October birthstone. The traditional birthstone for October was the pink tourmaline, but more and more people are turning to the modern alternative, the opal - perhaps because of price and availability. If you think of opal as only those wonderful white- looking stones with a fiery play of colour, then you've missed out on the many varities of opal that are available in the jewelry world today.
First, one of my personal favorites is yellow opal. Gem quality yellow opal has the look of rich melted butter - a deep translucent yellow. The first yellow opal bracelet is made with such gem quality yellow opal and the smallest lampwork beads that I've ever used in a jewelry design. The whole time I was making it the phrase "like buttah" was going through my mind.
Next is a pink Peruvian opal necklace made with smallish pink Peruvian opals. Like yellow opals, pink Peruvian opals don't have the fire one finds in the Australian opals, but the luminous quality of good pink opals and the beautiful pink colours make up for it! I also love getting pink opals that have black inclusions because of the way they blend with lampwork beads. The opal bracelet below is made of some very good quality pink opals that are mixed with aquamarine beads.
Blue Peruvian opals are precious to me also. Good blue Peruvian opals with translucence are my favorites although they range from having a jelly-like look to being completely opaque. Their colors range from a beautiful clear blue to aqua topale green to white. Their inclusions range from by favorite black to a tan to a light ochre. I've mixed the blue opals in the bracelet above with lampwork beads by Robin Weber and natural genuine emeralds. Notice the tan/ochre inclusions on the faceted ovals and the clearer colours touched with black on the faceted nuggets.
Opals are fairly soft and do crack easily, so it's important to store them away from your other jewelry, to protect them when you are travelling, and to avoid banging them against objects when you are wearing your jewelry.