After what seems like a long hiatus due to traveling and a cold, I find I am itching to get back to my blog but more importantly, to creating.  Yesterday was largely devoted to knitting whilst watching HGTV, which I will most likely blog about at a later date if the project I’m working on turns out all right.  On the jewelry front I am finally able to put some energy into my new line which I hope to blog about in the coming days and weeks.

So, in absence of any new work to show, I was looking through my jewelry photographs and found some photos of my PMC work completed in the last year or so.

Leather Bead Bracelet


This leather bracelet is comprised of a single PMC bead and “clasp.”  The clasp is actually more of a button–this technique could easily be modified to use a button in fact.  Good thing I raided my grandma’s vintage button collection when I was last in Oregon. 

 

Geometric PMC Earrings

These earrings are a combination of PMC and sterling silver.
 
The large shapes are made of PMC of course, but they could almost as easily be fabricated in sterling silver sheet.

Flower Pendant

This pendant was sculpted in PMC, fired, then oxidized and polished.  I sold it quite awhile ago, but it remains a favorite piece.

See living room and kitchen before/afters here.

I’m a little sad because the most dramatic transformation in the Oregon house took place in the bathroom, which was hideous when we bought the place.  Mick did so much work in there, re-tiling the floor and adding heating to it, re-tiling the bath/shower area, replacing the toilet and vanity.  The only thing I did was cut tiles and paint.

Mick, of course, was proud of his handiwork and took loads of pictures of the finished product which for some reason we can’t find.  So I’ll have to do a more detailed before/after of the bathroom when we go back and get more photos.

In the mean time, here are a couple of photos of the transformation:

Before:

During:

A little progress:

After:

My initial thought when I saw the bathroom in this house was gut it. The yellow bathtub really didn’t seem to leave much of an alternative.  But there were practical considerations of course, the first of which being cost.   Then there was labor–removing a bathtub can be an arduous process, sometimes requiring the removal of walls.  My next thought was resurfacing or a liner.  There are companies that take molds of your bath/shower and then create a liner to fit over the existing tub and surround.  We did meet with someone and almost decided to do it, but Mick thought it was too expensive and it was going to take many weeks for the order to be fulfilled.  Plus, it was rather generic looking and for me didn’t have a lot of design appeal.

Awhile back I’d seen an HGTV program which involved a bathroom re-do.  In it, the bathroom had a lot of tile work that was outdated but still in good condition and not cost efficient to replace.  The designers decided to incorporate the tiling in the design as if they’d chosen it.  The overall result was not necessarily to my taste, but the idea stuck with me and I decided to use it in this bathroom design.  Pretend I’d chosen the horrible yellow tub and work the design around it to minimize it’s impact while allowing it to harmonize with the rest of the room. 

One of the best features of the bathroom is the natural slate floor with heating underneath.  Here is a look at the old, ugly, floor:

And here is a photo of the slate (which doesn’t give much of a look–sorry):


The master bedroom is probably my favorite room of all.  When we first moved in, I decided to paint it a kind of aqua blue color to coordinate with some pillow I bought, so some of the before photos show me painting it blue:

Unfortunately, Mick and I spent one night in the painted room and decided it wasn’t going to work.  So we repainted it a soft white color:

The biggest change in the room was the glass sliding door.  We replaced it with a single door with panels on each side that open.  It has a french-door look but isn’t as wide.

This, of course, is the bed with the new headboard, which we completed the last time we were there:
Another change in this room was the closet, which we had replaced with mirrored doors.  It really opened up the room:


Finally, here is the guest bedroom, which also functions as Mick’s office when we’re there:

This isn’t the greatest "after" picture, but it does give you an idea of the changes we made:
This is a photo of our neighbors.  Yes folks, a grave yard lies right behind our backyard fence.  I actually kind of dig it (tee hee, get it, dig it)?  It’s fun to explore.

A lot of you know we bought a second house in Oregon last year so I could spend more time with my grandparents:

I have had lots of fun re-decorating it, and I thought I should post some before and after photos to show what we’ve done.

When we first got the house, it had some pretty horrible carpeting and needed a paint job.  The first thing we did was paint the living room, kitchen, dining area, and master bedroom.  Then we had the carpeting replaced throughout the house with laminate flooring.

Here is a view of the living room (from the kitchen) before:


and after:

We actually liked this sofa so much that we ended up buying the exact same one for our Santa Monica house.

Another view of this area before:


And after:

This is the dining area before:

After:


In the kitchen, we replaced the counter tops (with the Lowes equivalent of Corian, which I can’t remember the name of), sink, and appliances.

Before:

After:

Before:

After:

Before:


After:

My plan is to paint the cabinets white, but Mick is against this, so I’m not sure if I will do it.  As of now we’ve only changed the hardware on the cabinets, which did make a difference.

Tomorrow:  Before/After of bedrooms & bathroom

I was organizing files on my hard drive today and found some photos (albeit not great ones) of pieces that have been commissioned over the past couple of years.

I’m not actually a big fan of doing commissioned work because I feel so much pressure (got to work on that self-confidence) when I do it.  Most of what I do is for friends and family, but occasionally someone will buy a ready-made piece and then request that I do something custom for them.

The first piece is a cocktail ring hand-fabricated in sterling silver and set with Swiss blue topaz, which remains one of my favorite gems because it’s beautiful, yet relatively inexpensive, even for a sizeable stone:


Next, is a pair of earrings I made at the request of my friend Ruth for her mother’s birthday gift:


These are hand-fabricated in 18k yellow gold and set with crystal quartz and chalcedony.

The necklace below was commissioned by a woman who’d bought a similar piece on my website but wanted a second in greens and yellows.  In this case, I used peridot and lemon quartz:

She also requested matching earrings (apologies for the picture quality):


The photo below is of an unfinished earring designed and commissioned by a customer.  She sent me a rough drawing of what she wanted and I hand-fabricated it in sterling silver with a briolette of crystal quartz and cubic zirconia:

The finished earrings were quite large and very striking, with a lot of movement.  I used sterling silver leverbacks for the earwires, but I don’t have a photo of the finished piece.

I have recently finished knitting my first sock ever and I’m well under way on the second:

I had no immediate plans to knit a pair of socks, but I happened upon a Basic Sock Tutorial at Sweaterscapes.com and I decided it might be worth a try.

I suspected it wouldn’t be that difficult since I’d already successfully knitted a pair (or 12) of Knucks.  Not that they’re the same, but some of the principles are similar at least.  Anyway, the socks were easy enough.

I used the bamboo yarn I’d purchased in Japan:

I got about 100g each of 3 colors:  the light blue you see here, a very light beige, and the rust colored brown which I used for the socks.  My intention was to knit a scarf but now I think I will experiment with different sock designs using this same basic pattern.  The bamboo yarn is very soft and while I probably wouldn’t wear the socks with shoes because of the thickness, it does make for a good pair of lounging socks.

Possum Yarn?

My mother-in-law and her friend Marie recently completed a 5-week long trip to New Zealand and stopped at our house on their way back to England.  They mentioned the fantastic array of handcrafted items in New Zealand, and told me about a blend of possum-merino yarn which is apparently fantastically soft and luxurious.

I found a couple of online retailers for it,  so I’m thinking I might have to try it.

Sewing a Re-useable Shopping Bag

The other day I happened upon this tutorial at U-handbag.com:

Reusable Grocery Bag

While I’m all for reusing grocery bags, another very good use of this bag is for travel.  It would make a great fold-up bag to take with you to carry back all those wonderful souvenirs.

There are actually a lot of great handbag tutorials on this site, but my sewing skills are almost non-existent.  I’ve been thinking about taking a sewing class for a long time though, so this might be the perfect excuse.

Occasionally, I get requests from non-profit organizations to paint portraits for their benefit.  Generally they like me to donate custom portraits, where someone can bid on or donate money to the organization, then send me photos of their pet and have me do a custom portrait.  For some reason that’s not my preference though–I like to paint something, send it off, and be done with it.  When I paint for charity, however, I do try to paint portraits that would be attractive to a general audience rather than an individual pet owner.

The portrait below was painted for a cat rescue organization.  I chose a photo of my brother and sister-in-laws cat, Joey:


Joey Sleeps with the Fishes, acrylic on stretched canvas, 2003

I really liked this painting when it was done, and proudly called it "Joey Sleeps with the Fishes."  Unfortunately, the organization I was donating to thought that potential buyers might be offended by the tongue-in-cheek title.  "Sleeps with the fishes" implies a dead cat, afterall.  I reluctantly changed the title to "Joey Dreams of Fish."

In my heart, however, this painting will always be called "Joey Sleeps with the Fishes."  😉

Incidentally, I painted another portrait of Joey the following Christmas, which was intended to be a gift for my brother and his family:

Ball o’ Cat, acrylic on stretched canvas, 2004

Unfortunately, I’d neglected to prepare the canvas properly and when I varnished the completed painting it got completely ruined.   I was very disappointed by that since I really liked the painting.  Thankfully I photographed it before applying the varnish, so at least it still exists in the digital world.

Errr, I mean container garden.

Ahhh, it’s spring, that glorious time of year when I make a trip to the local nursery and buy new  plants for my balcony container garden that will eventually die from neglect. 


This is a blossom from my nectarine tree, which I’ve had for several seasons but have yet to get any nectarines from:

Here is the tree itself.  I love it, and it keeps coming back each year.  The fruit should come in July.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

My reading nook:

The view from the other side of the balcony:
And finally, the real reason for this post, before I got sidetracked by my gardening:


These are my Springtime Stack rings.  They are hand-fabricated in 18k gold and bezel set with pink tourmaline (left), diamond (center) and peridot (right).  While they were made to be worn together as a set, they are pretty on their own as well, especially the diamond.  They are some of the best examples of my work to date.

There is one thing I love better than anything in the world (except Mick, but that doesn’t count), and that’s dogs.  Specifically, my dogs, Kramer and Stuart, although any dog will do in a pinch.

Because I am going through kind of a creative dry spell–that’s not exactly true because while I am feeling very creative, I haven’t had the time to do anything about it–I thought the dogs deserved a post of their very own.

So here we go:


My parents ran the Boston Marathon today, so my morning was spent tracking them on the Boston Marathon website.  I know it looks like I’m forcing him, but really, Stuart wanted to look at their results on the computer.  Honest.


On any give day, at any given time, this is where you will find my dog Kramer, who will be 15 next month.  This is our bed at the Santa Monica house, and it’s pretty high up.  In recent years he’s gotten a little less proficient at jumping up on it, but since he’s on it every time I go in there, I figure he’s doing okay.

This, of course, is Stuart:

“Must lay…on…couch…no matter how…uncomfortable….”


This is Kramer lying on his bed at our Oregon house.  The bed there is much too high for him to jump on–he won’t even try.  He likes to curl himself up into the smallest ball he can sometimes.  Oh, and yes, that is my bra laying on the floor next to him.  I’m too lazy to photoshop it out at the moment.


Can you guess which dog this is?  I’ll give you a hint:  it’s not Kramer.

Stuart the guard dog.  Yeah, right.


Stuart is a cuddle bug.  About 90% of the time, some part of his body has to be touching some part of mine, including when I knit (he’s actually jealous of my knitting needles).  That’s why most of the stuff I knit has little black dog hairs stuck in it here and there.

The dog pictured above is my aunt and uncle’s dog, Buddy.  He’s a big ol’ hound dog mutt, and deliciously kissable.

See?  Very, very smoochable.


Kramer’s Glamour Shot.

I’ll leave you with that one.

I am kind of in the process of developing a line to take into some local jewelry stores.  I say "kind of" because I haven’t decided exactly what I want to do, but I’m leaning in this direction.  Most of my jewelry sales have been online so this is a new and unexplored world for me.

The necklace pictured below is hand-fabricated in sterling silver and hanging on an oxidized and brushed sterling silver bead chain.  This particular work is a bit to rough for my liking, but it is definitely in the direction I want to go.  Lately I am loving brushed silver oxidized jewelry as opposed to my usual highly buffed and shiny work.


In keeping with my usual "jewelry with a message" style, peace, of course, will be the central theme of the line.  However, for various reasons I need to get away from the actual peace sign motif that I’ve been using so I am exploring other ways to express this in my work.  It doesn’t mean I won’t use it any more, it just means that I need to explore new ways to say it.

There are, I believe, different paths to peace and the first and possibly most important path begins with oneself.  To me, freedom of thought is an essential part of having peace of mind, and peace of mind is an essential part of promoting peace in ones own life, and ultimately peace in the world.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out.  I have lots of ideas, but at the moment, not a lot of time to execute them.  Spring/summer is such a fun time to create jewelry though because we are able to bare more skin and what looks better next to skin than beautiful jewelry?

I’ve been wanting to knit this shrug/scarf ever since I saw it.  Somehow I got sidetracked though and forgot about it until I was suffering a "what to knit?" crisis yesterday and pulled out all my knitting books.

This design is by Teva Durham from the book Scarf Style.  If you’ve ever thought scarves were boring to knit, then you haven’t seen this book.  Most of the designs in the book will challenge my modest knitting skills, however this particular design is fairly simple and it’s so cute.  I picture it paired with a tank top, although by the time I finish I’m sure it will be too warm to wear it until fall/winter next year.  That’s okay, it will keep.

The yarn I’m using is rather delicious–it’s Debbie Bliss Chunky Cashmerino in light teal.  I bought quite a lot of it for a sweater project that I haven’t blogged because I’m not sure if I’m going to do anything with it.  I’m not crazy about the finished sweater, though it was the first one I designed and I really should keep it (as opposed to unraveling it and using the yarn for something else).  Still deciding.