Just recently I had a previous bridal client come back to me for a birthday gift for her mom. She had a rough idea of what she wanted, a ring with a swirl that incorporated an opal.
So when I first started out, I made tons of stacking rings. I was working primarily in silver and doing a lot of birth stone stacking rings for moms and grandmas. It was fun and I was just grateful that anyone was buying anything from me. It was right in the middle of the great recession and contrary to all of my pessimism I was actually making a living doing my jewelry thing. It was shocking and to be honest I sometimes still don't believe it 8 years later.
This is just a small sample of the stacks I worked on during that first year or two. There are a lot of people out there with topaz as their birthstone. Or perhaps my sample isn't representative. LOL. I feel like that period was endless ring stacks. SO MANY STACKING RINGS.
But while I was tirelessly tapping out the stacks, I also had a chance to make some different pieces and experiment. It's so strange when you first start making jewelry, the number of things that you've made is just so limited. I think when I opened my etsy shop I had made like 10 rings total, in my life. Crazy.
I was just searching through my Etsy sales record to find some of these photos and it was a real walk down memory lane. So weird. (On an unrelated note, I find the relatively recent change to human life, where everything you've ever done is photographed and follows you around for all of eternity to be both convenient and disquieting. Thoughts?) But as I look at some of these, I'm reminded of that Janis Joplin song...."freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose". And that is really what it felt like. I had just started making jewelry and it was sort of a fun side thing, though I was actually doing it full time and it was my "job". I hadn't yet become a jeweler or jewelry designer in my head. So I really had nothing attached to it mentally and I had the space to just experiment. I think I'm actually back in that space right now, after 5 years doing mostly bridal and having all of my spare processing power taken up by these two cuties:
But that will have to wait for another blog post!
I find that the more ideas I put down on paper the more ideas I will have. So I have been challenging myself to come up with (at least) one new earring design per day. Sometimes it, the design, will feel like a dead end, and sometimes it it will open a path to many variations. I think that is what I like most about this little exercise, the branchings off of multiple variations. I sometimes feel I could come up with endless variety. It's super fun to see where things lead.
If you have followed my blog at all (or just had a quick glance around this website) you probably already know that I have a thing for solid, structural jewelry. But I've been trying out some new things recently and playing around with lighter more airy pieces. When I took sculpture in college I had a wonderful teacher who introduced me to herring on toast with a little mayonnaise and sliced onion (try it!)! But more relevantly, she was very strict about viewing a piece of sculpture in its entirety and from all angles, rather than getting caught up in the pretty view from one side. These recent experiments are feeling a bit flat and more like drawings to me. I like them, but I want to bring some depth to to this idea. Jewelry has innate limitations (and I'm talking about wearable jewelry, not art jewelry) that I find satisfying sometimes. It helps me to focus. Limitations are good! But I think I need to relax a bit with these and push the limit of wearability a little bit. It's late (8:59! I'm officially an old!) and I'm just ruminating I guess. But the next one of these is going to have some depth.
Hello everyone, I know it has been a thousand years since I last blogged (or maybe just a year and a half? Instagram is sooooooooo easy!). But I'm back and I'm now blogging on my own website. Last year was busy, with twin 3 year olds everything always seems busy 100% of the time. :-)
But here is a little visual year in review:
I've been a little bit seduced away from my blog by Instagram. I'll admit it. It's so easy.
Pretty little custom ring for a lovely lady in Vermont.
More tomatoes than I knew what to do with. (I made sauce.)
More cushions. Cushions cushions cushions. Next I think I will tackle
I kept these.
Birthday gift as a favor for my sister in law.
Is there anything more fun than a tire swing?
Happy Halloween! It dumped buckets that night, so we didn't get many
trick or treaters. But we never do, really. I think the houses in my
neighborhood are a little too far apart.
Platinum is becoming my new favorite.
Pumpkin picking this year. Zinnias are the best.
Newest, oldest cushion design. I had this ring cast a few years ago
and then never finished it for some reason. I love it now.
Chubby little cushion cut engagement ring. So cute.
New 10 stone scatter ring. I have an eternity ring that is totally stones
all the way around, but I have the worst cold right now and can't even
contemplate all that stone setting. :-(
So excited for Hanukkah this year. The twins are finally old enough to participate.
Of course, all of our birthdays always fall right in or around the holiday, so it is a busy couple of weeks.
Daniel Tiger themed party for the sweeties. I have a fondant cake topper of Daniel and Margaret
coming from Etsy, and the Shop Monkey got two little red zip up hoodies and Trolley patches. So excited for them!
Wonderful little project for a lovely couple in Florida. I love the
matching rings with the little details that make them different.
Dual tone custom ring with a lovely yellow tinged cushion and a sharply oval
diamond ring. (Not the same order. Although who wouldn't a giant stack
of gold and diamonds?)
Well, I am most likely not going to post again before the new year. So Happy New Year! I really hope 2016 is better than 2015. It's been a good year for me personally, but the world certainly seems like it is going to hell in a hand basket, doesn't it? I have to keep reminding myself that the world probably perpetually feels like it is turning into a soup sandwich, and that I would much prefer to be living in this time than during the bubonic plague (WWI, WWII, the Cultural Revolution, Stalinist Russia, etc etc etc), even if there are such things as ISIS and Donald Trump. (Even if the news does makes me feel like I would prefer to live in an Anthony Trollope novel or climb inside Debussy's Suite Bergamasque.)
I'm so much better at posting on Instagram. So if you would prefer to see pictures of shiny things more often than bi-annually feel free to find me there @j.yaffa. :-)
I'm really getting into the cushion cut stones. They're harder to work with than round but I'm enjoying the challenge. I have a wide band engagement ring with a square shaped (rather than rectangular) cushion cut diamond in the works. Super excited for that to be finished.
Summer has certainly started here. It's been crazy hot the last couple of days. We took the twins to a splash pad this weekend. Super fun. Can't wait to try out some others around town.
So I'm now sporting a pretty sweet pixie cut. And I don't even have to brush it. Best 20 bucks I've ever spent.
Spring is getting away from me. I want to be out on a nice run in the sunshine, but I'm here blogging instead. So this will be a short little visit (not like last time. I'm still loving my hair by the way, but I'm thinking I need to go even shorter. Really short!).
Just finished this lovely dual tone cushion cut ring. And, man, and I'm glad that it is finished. Some projects just make me nervous when I'm working on them, even when everything goes smoothly. This was one of those times. I don't know why. I just felt like I was going to screw it all up. I need to stop drinking so much coffee. And this diamond was so lovely in person, hard to capture in a photo. It is just a scintillating cup of crushed ice. So much sparkle. I hope she loves it.
....when the young man's fancy turns to love.
And the frantic (and inexperienced) gardener contemplates when she will have the time to plant all of the things she dreams of planting. (Look at my little coral bells! They bloomed this year! And I'm going to have SO MANY DAISIES!)
And now I'm going to veer off the jewelry track EVEN MORE and talk (at length) about my hair. So if that doesn't interest you, please see yourself out. I got a new haircut! And I'm really digging the mad-scientist effect. I think I'm moving closer to being at peace with having curly hair. Growing up, as anyone with curly hair can probably understand, I HATED HAVING CURLY HAIR. I HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATED IT. It always felt messy, it never felt styled. It always felt unkempt. So I cut it extremely short in the 2nd grade, and I kept it short for last 28 years or so. I would occasionally have longer hair, but I would always end up HATING IT, and I would cut it off. Then I somehow got it into my head that I NEEDED to have long hair. That is was a shame that I'd never had long hair in my life. That if I got my hair long, it would suddenly stop being my hair and be the tousled waves of someone who says they have curly hair when really their hair has a slight wave (yes, I want to punch those people in the mouth. YOUR HAIR IS NOT CURLY! I want to shout, while shaking them till their teeth clack together. YOUR HAIR IS NOT CURLY! IT WON'T FORM DREDS IF YOU DON'T COMB IT FOR A DAY!) That long hair would be the answers to all of my problems. That long hair would make me glamorous and teach me how to be stylish, and finally when I had long hair I would know how to dress myself and I would suddenly be chic. Obviously, I was deluding myself. And effing Instagram wasn't helping. I cannot imagine how terrible Instagram would have been for me if it had been around when I was tween/teen. My 35 year old, fairly grounded psyche can barely handle the onslaught of FOMO (fear of missing out) and evil, evil soul sucking comparison now. I would have shriveled into a wisp of envy or turned into a soulless self-promotion robot doing duck lips and posing (artfully) with a mixed drink/ice cream cone/latte.
Since I've had the twins, I've been STRUGGLING to get my sense of style back (not that it was ever very highly developed), struggling to even just look like myself. And the long hair (which I've never had in my life) was not helping. I didn't know what to do with it, and I didn't look like myself with it. And as always, I HATED IT. I hated managing it. I hated the amount of conditioner I needed to use. The time it would take to even get it to the point where I COULD PULL IT BACK. That was my measure of success....did it look presentable when I managed to pull it back? Such a low bar. So I finally woke up and shouted "WHY ARE YOU TORTURING YOURSELF?!?!?!?!?!?!?" Just give it up. Some people are not meant to have long hair, and the hair growing out of your head is not meant to be long. LOVE THE ONE YOU'RE WITH. FOR CHRIST'S SAKE. LOVE THE ONE YOU'RE WITH.
And so I made an appointment with an awesome lady at The Parlour in St. John's who specializes in curly hair and had it cut off. And I like it.
(Why, yes, I did retouch the hyper-pigmentation on my forehead, thanks for asking.)
The red lipstick is to prevent me from feeling like a soccer mom with a bob. It helps.
Lol! They must have screen grabbed it from the banner I used to use on my blog. Just makes me super irritated. But there isn't much I can do. I scrolled through their ebay shop and they had a bunch of rings I recognized from Etsy. Assholes. I don't care if you copy things, it's not like the ring above was a super unique painting or anything, but to be so lazy that you just take the photos too? On the off chance that someone will buy it and save you the trouble of making your own to photograph, I guess? I don't know. I love the internet, but at the same time I HATE IT WITH A BURNING PASSION.
I'm trying to figure out how to calculate how many years I've been in business. I opened in February of 2009. So does that make it 5 years? Or 6? 5 full years? But technically 6? Am I just mathematically challenged? Has it been too long since elementary school? You know what is really sad? I've been in business for 5 years (at least) and I've had business cards once. As in, I had some made when I first opened, and I haven't had any since. Years. Years.
Anyhoo. It's another year, and now that my babies are a little bit older, I'm ready to move out my holding pattern and make some changes. On the list:
1) Learn how to do 3D modeling. I would love to be able to design components on the computer. Things that I can't make by carving in wax. And that means a new computer. I bought a refurbished one in 2009 and it is finally time to retire it. (I updated the software to Yosemite and I now regret it with all of my heart.)
2) Get a bead blaster. I've wanted one forever. Not sure why I've been dragging my feet.
3) Start selling in actual brick and mortar shops. Not quite sure what direction I'm heading with this one, but I think that is where I want to be.
4) Get business cards and other paper frippery to upgrade my packaging. I would love to get custom jewelry boxes, but I'm not sure where to go for those. I'm also in need of a new logo to go with J.Yaffa. I had one for singleB that I really liked, but I don't think it meshes with the new business name. What to do? What to do?
5) Take a specialty stone setting class. I really want to brush up on setting square and emerald cut stones.
6) Earrings, necklaces, bracelets/bangles. I'm too ring heavy.
7) OMG. Finish my new website. I've been "working" on it for a year.
NON JEWELRY RELATED GOALS:
1) Start drawing and illustrating again. Get a wacom tablet to use with the new computer in Adobe Illustrator. (Create my own line of stationery?)
2) Do a self-portrait, or a portrait of my husband/son/daughter every month.
3) Start running again. Work up to 5 miles.
4) Yoga. Arm balances.
5) Read/write every day. I've got the reading part of that goal down cold. Haha.
6) Love these baby sweeties with my whole heart and soul. DONE!
Take this morning for a perfect example. Lately I have been getting up at 5:45-6a.m. (what a blessing a programmable coffee maker is, I would never be able to accomplish getting out of bed early without the knowledge that there is a hot cup of coffee waiting for me if I do) to read, write letters, and journal. And I mostly just pretend that I'm alone. (Does that make me a bad wife/mom? I don't think so. Sometimes you just need 20 feet of clear air.) It has been so good for my mental health. It's been fabulous. But this morning I brought my iphone out to the living room with me, and what did I do? I farted around on Facebook, Instagram, and the Etsy app. I think I even opened Twitter. I answered a couple of emails etc. Did I read any poetry? Did I write in my journal? Of course not. Why would I, when the heavy gravitronic pull of the black abyss that is my iphone was sitting on the arm of the couch, not 2ft from my head? Who can focus on higher (HA!) things when the mental equivalent of a glass of cold beer is waiting with just the swipe of a finger? Not me, apparently. AND I DON'T EVEN HAVE THE ACTUAL INTERNET ENABLED ON MY PHONE. (Mainly because I can't handle it responsibly and I have my husband lock it up under the restrictions with a passcode that I don't know. I had to delete pinterest, because I figured out a way to access the internet through it. It was like having cake in the house. I couldn't not eat it.)
Why expose yourself to temptation like that, if you have such a problem, you might ask? Because I have a business! And a business needs tending and social promotion (I guess). I was so reluctant to join any of these things, and now I have Instagram, Twitter, and a Facebook page for my business (all in a day). Perhaps I'm revealing how (willfully) ignorant I am about this stuff? Are there things I don't even know about that I should be doing instead? Is Twitter old and musty? I know I'm a bit late to the party, but has it already moved to another location? Tell me, please, you people who are hipper than me! Please. Honestly, I don't really see the point of Twitter, but I'm following the herd and playing along. I did follow a few things the other day that I think I will like, but will it be more enriching than a well chosen book? (Do I sound like an old lady maiden aunt who has no sense of humor? I like Vines, okay? I like them!) Maybe I shouldn't compare. But there are opportunity costs, and every minute I spend perusing my Twitter feed is a minute that I'm not reading Mary Oliver.
But here I am, taking the plunge with all of this, and most of it is easiest to use on a smart phone rather than a computer. I don't think you can even really use instagram from the computer, correct me if I'm wrong. So what am I to do? Cultivate more self-control? Set myself a time limit? Put myself on a schedule? AM I THE ONLY PERSON WHO HAS TROUBLE WITH THE INTERNET AND ASSOCIATED FLIM FLAMMERING APPS? I can't be. But no one talks about it.
Anyway. I wanted to use this platform to tell everyone about my new instagramming, twittering, facebooking exploits. I guess I shouldn't accompany it with a screed about how much I hate it all and how much it kills my brain. But I'm so conflicted about it that I can't help myself. This is how I feel about it: necessary evil. Not because it is evil, but because it is not great for me personally. It would be like getting a job in a pastry shop. Nothing is wrong with pastries, quite the opposite. But for me it would be a fat and sugar filled orgiastic disaster.
So here I am, reluctantly socially connecting:
It is all under my new business name, because I've decided to just quit dithering and go with it. I might change my blog too, but when I tried it didn't redirect from the old name to the new.
All right, now for some pretty photos, if you managed to slog through all of the above. I hope you just scrolled down as quickly as you could:
Fast forward two years and one baby climbed up and then fell headfirst into the other crib (they were pushed together in an L shape). I guess we were lucky she didn't climb out over the side that faced the floor! Seeing that our days of easy bedtimes were at an end, we felt like we had to prevent further dangerous escape attempts by giving them a safe exit route.
So we decided to create a toddler style bed by creating a climb through side. We bought a piece of wood (I believe it was a 1x12) and used a router saw to create little curved openings. (By the way, a router saw is an amazing device and not expensive! I'm not sure why it took us this long to get one.) I sanded everything to make soft edges everywhere, slapped some white paint on it, and screwed it in to the crib sides. I love the way it looks and it works great to keep them from falling out. But it doesn't do much to help them fall asleep easily, alas.
I found these awesome wooden round frames at the local thrift shop, and I'm now working on portraits of my family to fill them. I think they will look fun grouped on a wall, and my house is woefully lacking in artwork right now.
Sometimes you get a job that you just really love. I recently finished the ring pictured above, and it was GORGEOUS. This stone was just so crisp and alive. Beee-you-teee-full. I know that it featured prominently in a happy engagement just last weekend. I love thinking about something that I made with my own two hands being a part of such a happy event. Without getting too hippy-dippy (although, I did grow up in Eugene), I feel like since I started this job in 2009 my life has become lighter and happier, and I think maybe a bit of all of those good feelings flowing into the universe are coming my way? (Of course, the love between two people can also cause heartbreak, so maybe in a few years that will be coming my way as well. Haha. I hope not.)
Oh man. I LOVE fabric. (Almost as much as I hate giant pug eating spiders.) All I want to do is quilt right now. It sort of gets in the way of being a mom and doing my job. My younger sister had a squeezable baby girl recently and the quilt above is the one I made for that little sweetie.
I promised myself that I would finish the squids quilts before they turned two. I'm proud to say that I completed them both waaaaaay before the deadline.
The quilt I gave my sister for her birthday a few years ago. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. It will probably be a 50th birthday present. I didn't really know what I was getting into with HST that are 3 inches square. Man.
A patio set we got off of craigslist and painted. It was coated in a terrible gooey black paint and the seats were this hideous green and blue plaid plastic. So I sanded it down and spray painted everything. Even the seat "cushions". I plan on making tie on quilted seat covers.
My wildflower patch! They really turned out well. But I didn't thin them, so now at the end of the season they look a little messy. But they were glorious when everything was blooming. I plan on planting them again and putting them in front of my studio as well.
Love these little flowers. My favorite types of flowers the ones with skinny stems with flowers on top.
Aven loves clipping clips, so I bought a grip of plastic clips and made this little stuffed toy. It was my first attempt at sewing anything besides quilts and napkins. I think it turned out well, considering.
Haha. The babies hiding behind the couch, communing with Pandora on the ipad. It's locked, so they can't get into it to play, but they like watching the album covers change.
Where is the jewelry related content you ask? Coming? Maybe.
I've been dying to start using other shapes of stones, but I wasn't feeling like my brain was up to it until lately (double baby brain!). But I finally gave it a go the other day and this is my second practice stone. The first turned out okay too, but this one is better. I think because I took the time to solder it to a band so I could hold it better. The other one I just tried to hold the setting. Why would I be that stupid? I know that the key to making nice jewelry is holding something securely. So I don't know why I tortured myself with a jiggly loose setting, rather than taking the 2 minutes to create a "handle". LAZY. (Even if it is wonky as all get out....look at the slant the setting has to the band. LOL! But that wasn't the point, I just needed something to clamp.) I have a couple of pear shaped cz and I'm going to get some princess and marquis shaped stones and just practice my little heart out. I think the real test will be to carve the settings myself. I'm getting much more confident lately, so we'll see. But I'm pleased as punch with the setting job I did! Yay!