Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! May your new year be filled with all the things you cherish most.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

If you were wondering...

...what the Cosmo Jet Swarovski necklace looked like when it was finished...wonder no longer!

Cosmo Jet Swarovski and Sterling Silver Necklace Set by Laurel Moon Jewelry

Not the world's best photo, sadly. This was a fun piece to make!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Another Etsy treasury!

This time, it's supplies! The lovely wintergarden featured my green rose dome beadcaps in her Carnevale treasury. Thank you SO much, wintergarden!!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Work in progress

I've been putting together a Swarovski Cosmo Jet necklace. I started it yesterday, but ended up working on eBay listings instead, so it's been sitting on my workbench, half-finished.

My workbench, and Swarovski Crystal Cosmo Jet necklace, still in progress

I have just about always worked on this desk. I've never used a towel or mat to keep the beads from rolling; I usually put each kind of bead in its own tin lid. I have a big collection of tin lids at this point in all shapes and sizes.

I put down this piece of white postcard just to make sure I'm getting the colors right. I used to use Lindstrom pliers, but now I use the red and black handle high-end Eurotool pliers; they're terrific and they're a great price. The Lindstroms were great, too, but the insert often popped out, and they're very fine-tipped. I only need that fine a tip for one project in a hundred, so I would much rather use the shorter-tipped Eurotool pliers.

I really like Swarovski's Cosmo Jet beads. They have such a cool look because they're half clear, half jet. I can't wait to see what this necklace looks like when it's finished.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Gifting treasures

One of the fun things about the holidays (at least, for me) is that I get to design jewelry for friends and family. I love giving jewelry as a gift, and if I can tailor something that I know they'll like, then I feel like I've really won the lottery.

This year, I made a necklace for my sister-in-law, and I really love how it turned out. I think the pearls and the Green Girl Studios coral pendant look great together. I might put together another of these for sale, because it just looks so nice. And when she put it on, it really came to life! I like the movement very much.

Coral pendant with pearls, necklace by Laurel Moon Jewelry

I also made her a pair of Steampunk earrings with links from Earthenwood Studio.

I made lots of other jewelry, too. A couple Swarovski bracelets for my mom, and a necklace out of fossil coral for my sister. I'm always excited to see how they'll react. It's a little nerve-wracking, too. I obsess over whether they like it or not.

I also tell them that they can give it back to me if they don't like it and I'll make something else for them. A recycling program, if you will.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays to everyone! I hope you all have lovely holidays, filled with all the things you cherish most.

My Christmas Tree

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Eggs from Serenity Acres!

My family has announced that they are coming over for brunch on Sunday, and so I decided to go get eggs from the best egg place I know...Serenity Acres! My wonderful friend Trase has begun raising chickens, which led to her egg industry.

Now, I am not a fan of eggs, but I have heard that these eggs are tasty indeed. So I wanted to make sure Sunday's brunch was special, and how better to do that than to obtain Serenity Acres eggs?

And voila! I am now the proud owner of a dozen of these lovely beauties.

Eggs from Serenity Acres

I've been hoping to change our eating habits a little, and buy closer to home. I've shopped at the farmer's market a few times, and I've looked into CSAs. It really does help to support local farmers and it's healthier, too!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A purple Etsy treasury!

The lovely Bohemienneivy has added my unicorn necklace and earrings set to their Etsy treasury!! Thanks so much!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Stretching my design muscles

When I first began making beaded jewelry, the Y necklace was the most popular design. I was "hired" by a local bead/jewelry store to make links for these necklaces. Sadly for them, my first loops were like any other beginner's; a bit on the misshapen side. After a couple thousand, though, I was much better, and, more importantly, I was completely addicted to making jewelry.

My first designs were variations on jewelry I had made in classes. Eventually I started making my own pieces, which were mostly seed beads on Soft-Flex wire. Most of them were ugly. My sister delights in wearing a few of my first pieces, and I cringe every time she does, though she claims that it's "vintage Laurel Moon" and I should be proud of it. I always tell her to say someone else made it.

Anyway, up until this point I had been using base metal, and after a while I realized that "base metal" was considered synonymous with "cheap" by a good portion of the jewelry design community, and I started to buy silver instead. Headpins, earring hooks, beads...I replaced my whole inventory of base metal, except for the charms. I invested in lots of Bali silver and obsessed about the price per ounce.

When I started selling at shows, I understood even better why some designers used only sterling silver and goldfill metals. Customers came up constantly and asked, "Is this silver?" To be able to answer "Yes" is a very good thing, let me tell you. Sadly, I am a Full Disclosure person and I would often get bogged down in the telling of it by listing all of the parts that were sterling silver, which does tend to make some eyes glaze over. But I digress. Sterling silver became the big Selling Point for a lot of jewelry, and it was definitely what was selling.

Fast forward to a few years ago. At this point, I had started designing less. I went into a local bead store, and there was a tray of these very old-fashioned looking components on the counter. I asked what they were, and the owner said, "They're from a company called Vintaj." To my sterling silver eyes, they looked...well, I hate to say this, honestly, but they looked a little cheap, and I couldn't imagine that they'd sell in such a sterling-silver-obsessed market.

But they did sell. And I noticed design after design pouring into the magazines with darkened brass, copper, and bronze. The market was turning. Sterling silver had become so expensive that people were looking for alternatives. I went online and noticed Etsy shops like Lorelei Eurto's amazing jewelry shop, and I realized that it was here to stay, and worse, I had no idea what to do with these new trends.

So I decided to experiment. I bought a small assortment of Vintaj pieces, along with some beads and chain in copper from a different source, and I started playing. Here's one of my first pieces:

Tourmaline and copper necklace by Laurel Moon Jewelry

I made this for a friend for the holidays. The tourmaline was really yummy and I only had a little handful, so this was perfect. And she likes a minimalist look, so I did a less-is-more design.

I'm still trying to understand things about brass and copper; I don't know if I'm ready to sell it at a show yet, for example. But I'm enjoying breaking out of the sterling silver mold.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The lovely smell of basil

For years, my husband has made a flavored salt known as "epice marie" (pronounced "peace marie").

It's a very simple thing to make. Mince your favorite fresh herbs, mix them with coarse salt, spread it into a thin layer on a dish, and let dry. It absolutely must be fresh herbs, and it should be coarse salt like kosher salt or coarse sea salt. The salt absorbs the moisture from the herbs, and the herbs dry quickly, making a flavorful seasoned salt that will perk up everything from mashed potatoes to grilled vegetables to steak. It's extremely versatile.

Usually my husband uses basil and salt, but sometimes he mixes in rosemary or thyme. It all depends on what's on hand. Traditional epice marie usually contains rosemary, garlic, and thyme, but we've found that we really like the flavor of basil, so that's what he uses.

Yesterday's batch is drying as we speak:

Seasoning salt

It fills the whole house with its scent. I love it. It's a taste of home, and I sometimes take it with me on my travels.

Once it's dry, we usually put it in a small bowl and use a pinch or two at a time. Because we use coarse sea salt, I like to take a pinch in my fingers and crush it a little finer as I'm sprinkling it on my food. We've found that it doesn't work well in a salt mill, because the salt is heavier than the herbs and will travel to the bottom, which is why we put it in a bowl. Alternatively, you can also put it in a salt pig:

Salt Pig

The salt pig is on the right. It keeps the salt covered, and then you can use the spoon to access the salt.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Check out this cute treasury!

Thank you, wimzieprints, for including me in this adorable Etsy treasury!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

More new sets in my Etsy shop!

I've been having a great time stringing new necklaces and making new earrings. The latest:

Unicorn Necklace by Laurel Moon Jewelry

Unicorn! I've had this pendant for ages. It's another wonderful Green Girl design, and I think I'll pop this into the shop tomorrow.

I'm done for tonight. I'm looking forward to the weekend, which will be chock-full of listing and photography and beading and, of course, hot chocolate.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I'm in another treasury!

I've been featured in another treasury! Thank you so much, im2keys!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

New charm earring listings, now with color choices!

I've been really thinking lately about my Etsy jewelry shop. I've been revising things and adding a few new listings. I'm about to start working on some new designs, but in the interim I was thinking about what sort of items I could add to the shop to make it interesting.

Then I remembered: charm earrings. When I first started making jewelry, charm earrings were one of my very first projects, and I really loved them. I wore them all the time. And I've sold many, many pairs of them over the years. I have a few good sources for high-quality charms and I'm always looking for new designs.

I have lots of charms stockpiled, and I thought that it might be nice if I set up listings that were made-to-order. I could just provide a single set of pics for each style of charm, and then have a couple photos that show the different colors to choose from, and then I'd make them to order.

Nice, right? But that means I need to make a sample pair of each kind of charm.

And then it hit me: I already did that!

Yes, two years ago, when I was working on putting together my website, I made a sample pair of earrings for each style. Today I dug out a few bins of beads. I dug through vintage Italian lampwork beads, brass stampings, French glass, silver scraps, and Czech satin glass necklaces, and I finally found a little bag containing the treasure. Earrings!

I photographed the colors of Czech firepolish beads that I purchased for this very thing. I have them all labeled with their color code, and I bought a hank of each, a few years ago, so I have a good supply stashed, and the color will remain consistent through many pairs of earrings. (Sometimes Czech beads do vary slightly from lot to lot.)

Best of all, I can just keep relisting these without having to take a new photo for each listing, which definitely simplifies thing!

Here are my color photos:

Charm earring color choices

Charm earring color choices

I like the way they look. I cut and pasted them together so that I could get eight color choices into two images.

So here goes. I'm going to start stocking my shop with these. They're cute and inexpensive and I love the different charms.

Celtic charm earrings by Laurel Moon Jewelry

Monday, December 13, 2010

Snow, snow, snow

Yesterday it snowed all day.

I actually like snow, as long as I don't have to drive in it. It's pretty, and I do like the winter season. So I was happy to watch the snow fall yesterday, and while it did, my husband and I put up our tree and decorated it.

Our tree is my family tree that is at least thirty years old at this point. It's pretty much your average Charlie Brown tree, if his tree had been plastic. It's skinny and it lists, and the upper part of the tree doesn't fit very well into its socket, which has to be wrapped in napkins. The branches are a bit strange-looking, and the whole effect isn't as much "tree" as it is "vaguely cone-shaped green thing." Still, I love it to bits.

Amusingly enough, when I was little and asked why we had to have a plastic tree, my mom told me it was because my dad was allergic to real trees, and my dad told me it was because my mom was allergic to real trees. That was a little confusing.

After the tree was done, I sat at my jewelry desk and worked on some jewelry. I made a few necklace/earring sets:

Mermaid necklace by Laurel Moon Jewelry

Starfish Necklace by Laurel Moon Jewelry

Tree of Wisdowm Necklace by Laurel Moon Jewelry

I also made a triplet of earrings. No, not a pair, a triplet. I made a left earring, a right earring, and an earring for the furnace duct under my jewelry-making desk. Hope it enjoys looking stylish.

The snow fell, and I kept beading, watching a couple Miami Vice episodes and eating chocolate-covered almonds. Husband made a fantastic dinner and also took care of the driveway, and fixed the generator, so when the power began flickering, I didn't have to panic about how we would keep the house warm.

And this morning, the backyard looks like this:

Snowy pond

I think I'm going to bead a little more today. I've really been enjoying it. And I hope that today is just as nice as yesterday was. I could use more days like that, as could we all, I think!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

What a cool widget!

I love Craft Cult. If you're an Etsy seller, it's a great way to keep track of your items' hearts, views, and if you've been featured on the front page of Etsy or the Storque (Etsy's blog).

But there's something new! Check out their Treasury Widget page. This awesome widget generator is incredibly helpful. You basically put in your Etsy shop name, pick which treasury you want to make into an image, choose sizing options and whether you want the widget to be live or static, and then Craft Cult creates a terrific image of the treasury to add to your blog or a blog entries. It's a clickable image, and it makes it so easy to share when you've been featured in a treasury.

Here's the widget, in all its glory:

Nifty, isn't it? I love it! Can't wait to keep using this in the future.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

More lovely vintage packaging

I almost hate to open old packages of beads. They're so beautiful, in their own way. For example:

Vintage Japanese packaging for beads

This box contains these:

Vintage Japanese blue 2-hole beads

which are one of my favorite beads ever. They're wrapped in yellowed tissue paper, five sets of 30 beads in each box, and then the box is tied shut with twine. I love finding the old boxes. Some of them use staples instead of glue, or beautiful metal pieces that fit over the sides and are kept in place with tiny nails. Every time I open one of these boxes, I get sad. They're such a piece of history.

Still, it's worth it, especially when there are beads this pretty within.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I'm in another Etsy treasury!

I've been featured in Adelaida's "Dive into the Ocean" Etsy Treasury!

Etsy Treasury

Thank you so much, Adelaida! It's a gorgeous treasury.