Where did the summer go?

So, my favorite time of year has arrived.  The time of year when huge, horribly scary spiders invade the studio.  Have I mentioned how much I hate spiders?  I don't actually hate them hate them.  I just hate the ginormous ones that make me shiver and get goosebumps.  There was a gorgeous pink and white spider that was living in my roses.  It was lovely.  I didn't hate it at all.  But there was a monkey sized one living in this pile of wood that I moved off of the patio earlier this summer and I kid you not, it made the leaves rustle as it scuttled away from me.  I think I probably squeaked a little fear squeak.  Ugh ugh ugh.  And THOSE are the ones that invade.  Not the pink and white spiders.  The huger hairy monkey spiders that probably hunt the pugs.

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.

My first inside out quilt.  I really like the bindingless finish.  It was my first tumbler quilt too.  

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.

 And this looked lovely until spider mites (??) destroyed the plant with purple flowers.  :-(  I had to pull it out/.  The delphiniums still look good.  I think I might move them into the flower garden and use that planter for annuals.  Maybe zinnias?

 The flower garden really recovered nicely from the hail storm.  I think I've learned a lot and will be able to plan better for next year.

I got this futon cushion and made these pillows for the squids room to make a little reading nook.  They're all about it.  I also plan on stenciling the alphabet above the "couch"

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 think one of my favorite things

is making jewelry for people I know.  I just finished a set today for a girl I knew back in my Navy days.  It was super fun to create wedding rings and to actually know the person it was going to.  I think I've only done it once before and that was awesome too.

I can hear my babies squeaking at each other over the baby monitor, so I have to run inside.  But best wishes to you, Michelle!  I know you read my blog, so this will give you a sneak peak at what is coming in the mail. :-)

I am so excited!

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!


Although my first foray into jewelry making in middle school was beaded necklaces (I was very fond of Czech glass beads....I think I still have a necklace stashed away somewhere, I'll get a photo), my true love was earrings.  I can still remember the back of my mom's bedroom door, covered in cool earrings.  She had this wooden rack with tiny holes that you put the ear wires through.  Full, just full, of awesome earrings.  She would buy some of them at the Saturday Market.  Which, if you are from Eugene or Portland, you know is a craft market held outdoors during the warmer months.  The Eugene one is better than the Portland one, which sort of sucks.  Anyhoo.  I think my favorites were the beaded ones, with quills.  (I want a pair and I've been looking on Etsy.)

And I've been a busy little bee myself, in the earring making department, and I've added a few new pieces to my shop.  And I'm keeping the prototypes!

Summer is in full swing here.  It's been hot!  My new cucumbers are doing really well, after I replanted because of that epic hail storm.  We ate the first artichoke from the plants I put in this year!

And of course, baby sweeties:

I would love a set of these.

(But in yellow gold!)

And one of these.  haha.

And one of these!  Probably the only one of the above that I am likely to get. (At least for 18 years.)

Nature: "I hate you, pitiful human scum"

So, haha, I blogged about how nice my gardening was coming this year, and then that same afternoon, about 2 hours after I hit publish, this happened:

 This was a coreopsis that I had sown from seed.

 The pitiful remnants of my japanese cucumber plants.

 This was a mint plant.

 And my lovely hostas.  Shredded and ragged.  And I now have to live
with them like that for the rest of the season.  Nothing is more unattractive than 
raggedy hostas.

Plant Armageddon aftermath.

:(    :\    :[  :{  :O!!!!!!!

I've never seen a hail storm like it.  Our gardens are totally effed.  Man.  My heart just broke.  You should see our tomato and fava plants.  Just destroyed. My artichokes are shredded like the hostas.  I guess I will just have to wait and see what will survive.  Having a nice garden this year is pretty much out now, unless we want to buy a bunch of expensive starts, which, needless to say, I don't.  My blueberries look okay, and the three fruit trees we put in this spring look like they pulled through.  The apple was the worst, but the fig and plum look okay.

I'm a little down right now, but soldiering on.  


One step, two steps, three steps, four

Man, sometimes I get so frustrated at the pace of my life.  It seems so creeping, crawling slow.  I think I want to live in fast forward.  And then I think, what am I rushing towards?  Death?  I'm really trying to slow down and enjoy the ride, rather than being rushed and goal oriented.  I think I'm too goal oriented and it makes me unhappy sometimes.

I've been really trying to get new designs produced, but with about 18hrs of so or work time a week, it is hard to.  I have two pairs of earrings I need to photograph and add, but I can't seem to get it done.  (Maybe because I wear them too much?  haha.  I also have a necklace with a lovely pink rose cut sapphire that is languishing away in my safe.)

These are two new designs that I've had molded and will cast in the next couple of weeks. I'm thinking palladium for the square/cushion, and 18kt yellow for the round.  I think I'm going to get a highly included but colorless diamond for the round and see what I think of that.  Once it has been cast I can carve a band to fit the curves.

New around the house:

 Well, these aren't new.  But they are really looking great this year.  I wish hostas didn't die back in the fall.  If they were evergreen I would have them everywhere around the place.

So my little flower garden is actually coming along pretty good.  It isn't as full as I would like, but I think that will take several years.  So I'm working on enjoying it as it is.  After all, when it is all full and "finished" where will I be then?  I do think that the joy of projects is in the doing, I just need to not want to do it fast(er).

Finally! We painted the door! I had been wanting to paint it forever.  I love the way the red looks.  Still need to work on the landscaping, but the red was really such a huge improvement.  The door is old. Probably original to the house (1930ish), and it looked pretty beat.

I have more "content", but I think I will save it for another post, lest my few readers be overwhelmed with photos of gardening and home improvement projects.  I finished a lovely (!!!) oval diamond ring that I want to share as well, so maybe later this week.

The sun is shining (finally)

yet, I'm in a slight funk.  I never seem to have enough time to do anything.  And, even worse, I can't seem to concentrate on anything long enough to get it done.  Not at work, obviously, because I HAVE to finish things at work.  I mean in my other life.  My life that needs gardening and quilt making and home decorating and baking and cooking.  And as much as those, it needs drawing and painting.  I haven't drawn or painted since before the babies.  Maybe I need to give up coffee.  It seems to scatter me.  I know I need to give up the internet.  It drains me.  What is the use of reading about lovely things on Apartment Therapy, when my own house needs my attention?  What good does it do me to spend my free time on Jezebel, when I would be happier writing a letter or drawing a picture instead of wasting my time away reading bits and pieces of useless news?  Ugh.  I hate the internet. (And yes, I see the irony of this.)

On a lighter and more cheerful note!  My flower garden in flourishing!  And the veggie garden is getting on like a house on fire:

It's even fuller now!  Look at that strawberry barrel in the middle!  The Shop Monkey worked so hard on it.  Drilling those holes in that thick wood was terribly irritating.

We had the craziest heat-snap (new word?), and I took advantage of the 90 degree weather to let my sweeties run around without clothes.  Is there anything cuter than a baby running around in a diaper?  Maybe two babies?  Two babies dripping with homemade yogurt and fruit popsicles?

I'm making a real effort to grow houseplants.  See my success below:

Alas, I'm not trying as hard as the babies are trying to climb onto the table.

No, I didn't pose him there (but he does make a nice tchotchke).  I was reading to his sister when I looked over and saw him climbing up.

What is this sketch?  It is me and the Shop Monkey playing darts in the basement after the babies go to bed.  We're drinking champagne because it's a Wednesday.  

And yes, I did win!! Haha!

I love this sweetie.

I bought this sofa at auction and I plan on recovering it in a deep blue velvet?  Green?  Turquoise?  Help!  Does it need tufting?

I repainted my side table.  It was kelly green.

And my little sweetie sweetie. <3 nbsp="">

5 stone ring

I've finally photographed my new 5 stone ring.  I was waiting for the weather to cooperate, and it really has for the last week.  So sunny!  It is gorgeous.  My poor little flower garden is struggling, but I won't depress you with my tales of gardening woe.  The vegetable garden is doing great though!  You should see my garbanzo bean plants. So excited for hummus from fresh beans.

So, this new ring has a tapering shank, that has an angled concave surface.  I really like it.  I wish I had a photo from the side so you could see the band.  The stones also taper in size towards the sides, does that make sense?  For some reason I can't think of another way to say it.  Haha.  MORE COFFEE.

On the baby front, my little sweeties aren't quite talking, but they're so close.  Addy "answers" questions with the cutest sounds.  Right now they are chasing each other back and forth around the kitchen/dining/hallway loop.  They sort of go back and forth peek-a-booing around the corners.  I hope they are best friends, but I suppose you can't force it.

Busy busy


I've been a bit busy, but I'm now getting back into the swing of things.  My schedule is changing a bit, I've decided that I would rather work 3 longer days, rather than two short days and two long days.  I hope that helps me to be more efficient.  Changing the schedule gives me a whole day with my sweeties, which I kind of like! (Yesterday was the first day, and they took a 3 hour nap, so check back with me in a few weeks, haha.)  It gives me a little taste of what being a SAHM would be like.

Spring is springing here, so I've been working like crazy in the garden(s).  We have a large raised bed vegetable garden, and this year I decided to create a flower garden as well.  We had this big gravel area with a fire pit that we just didn't use and it was terrible trying to weed in the gravel.  So I removed all of the gravel and tilled it and amended the soil.  I've been starting flowers (I hope I'm successful!) and planting some seed.



Now.  We just never used the gravel firepit, it just took up a prime location.

I have these lovely clumps of peonies.  They gorgeous.  I will be separating them this fall, but for now I'm just looking forward to blossoms.  There are rose bushes as well, which we (over) pruned this winter.  But I think that most will be better for it.  I'm planning on a little table or bench on the little gravel spot to the left.  Wish me luck!  I'll post pictures if I ever get it to look all crazy country garden.  It might take a few years.  I think that is the hardest part about this for me.  The hardest and probably the most beneficial.  I am a planner by nature, but I'm also someone who likes instant gratification.  Being forced to let go of my own agenda and proceed according to a different timeline has been very informative.  I'm trying to relax into, and let go of being in control.  Since I can't FORCE the flowers to grow, all I could do is make myself go crazy.

Growing list:

Indian Prince Calendula
Korean hyssop
Shasta crazy daisy
English red tip daisy (habanera)
New York Aster
Blue and white balloon flower (fingers crossed)
Blue fescue
german chamomile
Two types of poppies (not sure if those will come up...)
chabaud carnation
red lighthouse salvia

and for instant gratification, cosmos and zinnias (annuals).  There is also a hosta in one corner and a hydrangea that I will probably have to move. 

And I have a spot along the driveway that I'm going to plant a shade wildflower mix.  I hope that works out too.  I'll plant it now, and then seed it again in the fall.

And I've planted a wormwood bush!  And A little square of elven thyme.  And I'm planning on getting some dahlia bulbs.  But I won't be planting those until late April. And then I'm going to plant anenome bulbs in the fall.  I love windflowers.

Well, I hope you skipped past all of that gardening business, if it bores you. :-)

So much for posting weekly, ha ha

I just can't seem to manage it.  I think, with me, blogging takes copious amounts of free time in order to allow my brain the freedom to come up with things to post about.  When I'm busy or preoccupied I tend to clench up and nothing but what needs doing gets free.  I'm also a compulsive perfectionist, so if something isn't 1000% finished I hesitate to share.  But!  I'm going to take a leap and just put it out there.

Ive decided to change my business name!  For real this time!  

I've been holding off on telling anyone about it until it was complete.  But really, I don't know when that will be.  I've been working away at it, a bit here a bit there, but it's still pretty bare.  I haven't really had a chance to add things for sale yet.  But I'm going to make that a priority this weekend.  (When I'm not busy rototilling my new flower garden!!! OMG!  So excited! About everything!)

And finally finished that new ring I posted about earlier.  It's pictured below.  Guess which one it is? And I have new earrings and a new 5 stone ring too, but no pictures of those just yet.

Not the best of photos.  But it is gloomy like an Alaskan winter morning here these days.  I find that when it is overcast outside I can't get dynamic photos.  They just look a bit dead to me.  Maybe I need to blast the exposure?

Hmm, still nothing.  And it's really unfortunate, since I have to ship those to rings on the far right today, so I won't get another chance to photograph a group.

And my tiny sweeties are still tiny and still sweet.

She's soooo sleepy here.  Right after I took this photo I took a video of her nodding off.  Adorable.

 Fresh new haircut!  And seaweed snack.

Home again, home again, jiggity jig.

Well, that was definitely an experience.  The flight there wasn't the greatest, but the flight back was quite okay.  The weather wasn't fabulous, but it was great hanging out with family.

She is such a little funny-bunny!  She cracks me up.  


Thank goodness for this hot tub.  We spent a lot of time in it.

Something new!  I think this is the first time that I've worked with a champagne diamond.  I really like them!  There is so much depth I feel.  I like colorless diamonds too, but I must admit that I prefer the more colorful diamonds, and I like inclusions.  I like the idea of a totally unique diamond.  It makes it more special to me.  My diamond doesn't have any (that I can see), but I wish it did.

oi! where did January go?!?

Well, dearies, I'm off on a well deserved vacation tomorrow morning.  Please wish me luck on my long plane ride with two 13 month old babies.  (!!!!!)  I hope it is relaxing. (hahahah.  I just re-read that, and was like, the vacation, obviously.  Not the plane ride with two young toddlers!)  I have so many ideas, I almost feel like it would be more of a vacation to remove my computer from my studio and just work on new projects for a week. Oh the bliss!  Someday.

And I have another project going too!  Besides new things.  I am working on my own website.  And I've decided to change my business name.  Or, rather, start a new business, and change the direction of my old one.  I think.  But I'll save that for later.

(p.s. I've decided that to motivate me to make new things I'm going to keep the prototype for myself! Haha!  I've already had a new pair of earrings cast, I just need to finish them.)

Merry Holidays!

I've been extremely busy.  Which is good.  But I think it is causing me to go bald.  So I suppose me and the Shop Monkey will be a matched pair.  I recently made this platinum version of the sunken treasure ring (haha, I always think of this as my wedding ring), using an old cut stone that a customer provided.  I really like the way it turned out.  And you have no idea how heavy this thing is.  WANT!

I thought I might share some scenes from this holiday season!  When I was growing up my family didn't celebrate holidays, so this was really my first time decorating etc.  I really enjoyed it, and I think it will just become more fun as things become traditions.  (I actually have a little notebook that I'm writing it all down in,  that way I can remember what to do next year.  Starting from scratch is a bit hard!)

Not specifically a holiday photo, but her face is so awesome that I had to share it.  Even if it is a bit blurry.  Hehe!

I had these little tiles made by a really cool ceramics artist on Etsy.  Her shop is called Art-Craft-Home, and Stephanie, the owner/artist, was so helpful and awesome.  The tiles are so nice and unique.  You can't see it from here, but the chanukiah and dreidel are raised up from the back ground.  I can't wait to display them next year!

Every year (two years running!) I make a big batch of Gløg.  Which is basically just a very strong mulled wine.  Here is my recipe.  But don't use all of the port or brandy, and if you use all of the sugar, use two bottles of wine.  If you make it the way it is written (use as much port and brandy as you like, I don't really think you can overdo it, haha), keep it in a jug and cut it with regular red wine.  It's like a mulled wine concentrate this way!   (And I know, I spelled Hanukkah wrong!  In my traditions book.  Haha.  Maybe I had had too much gloooooog?)  

Aquavit night!  Every Thursday night during the winter, we have a fire and Popcorn Dinner®.  Dark beer and a little bit of Aquavit!  And then we watch shows on the computer.  It's funny how having children makes the most prosaic things fun.  I really look forward to aquavit night.  (Poor Dieter.  The pugs are still sort of exiled into the outer darkness....except for all of the dropped baby food they scavenge, beggars.)

LOOT! And my sweet, sweet husband bought be this antique drexel sideboard for our anniversary.

And I made this triangle bunting out of scrap fabric I had.  I really like the way it turned out.  It also doubles as birthday bunting!  The little felt ball bunting was another Etsy purchase.  I wish I had just bought a big bag of the felt balls and made my own instead.  You win some, you lose some.

And fun LED lights!  I love twinkle lights.  I know it is usually associated with Christmas, but how would I know that?  Not ever really having celebrated either Hanukkah or Christmas?  That's what I tell myself anyway.  (Ha!  I also have twinkle lights around my front door. )

And sweet, adorable sweetie babies.  They've started giving kisses.  It's probably the best thing I've ever experienced.

Happy Holidays!  And a Merry New Year!

Congrats S and J!

How much do we all love that nail polish?  I know I do.  And that's a girl after my own heart.  I could totally drink a beer right now, I just spent 30 minutes waiting in line at the post office.  Nothing makes me want to step in front of a train more than people who package their things up at the counter.  OMG. Do that at home!  So inconsiderate.

And, my sweet little devil squids turned one yesterday!

Happy birthday, my little sweeties!

My sister is closer to 40 than to 30. HAHAHA. (wait, I'm only two years behind!)

Sometimes the things I like the most are the pieces that I throw together from scrap metal that I have lying around.  No planning, just working with existing pieces and some strict limitations.  I sometimes feel that constraints and limitations help me get to where I would like to be, rather than leaving me frustrated by too much freedom.

I haven't done a whole lot of fabrication in a while, most of my stuff now is lost wax casting.  But I used to do all fabrication, and I had some 12 gauge 18kt yellow wire gathering dust.  It was in the form of two fat jump rings and a bit that was left straight.  I really like what I came up with, it was super hard to let them go.  I might have to make myself a pair.  They just seemed so wearable.  I would wear them every day!  (I hope they get as much love as I would have given them in their new home.  If you have doubts about that, send them back to me posthaste.  You know who you are.)

I sort of felt my way along as I was making them.  Went oval with the rings, instead of round.  I hammered and flattened the straight pieces.  Then I added a file finish, then florentine, and then a super heavy matte.  I soldered the ear wires directly to the earring, I wanted them to just slip on and stay on without a lot of movement (plus, I didn't have tiny jump rings or the wire to make them!  I love it when design decisions are made easy for me, haha).

And of course, I didn't take a photo before I shipped them out.  I was a little rushed for time.  Which seems to be my new state of being.  But my sister took some lovely photos of them and sent them along.

Isn't she lovely?


Q) Where do you work?

A) I work in a small studio in my backyard (haha...or as I would like to describe it: a vaulted, light filled atelier, situated on an expansive country estate, with a stunning view of the beautiful kitchen potager from one of the massive windows.  It's always summer here and pugs and small children can be viewed gamboling (quietly) amongst the profusion of rose and lavender bushes. Hahahahaha!).

Q) Can I come to your studio to try on jewelry?

A) No, I'm sorry, you can't.  I work from home and I'm honestly not comfortable having strangers come here.  I don't keep jewelry "in stock", since it is all custom order, so there is nothing for you to try on.  I'm also usually smudged with dust and cranky during the studio work day, so I would prefer not to meet strangers in that state.  I'm a bit of a socially awkward, introverted hermit to boot.  Trust me! I'm much better over email or over the phone!  Email is really the best since it leaves a "paper trail" which makes it easier for me to keep track of details and special requests.

Q) Hmmm...well then, is there somewhere that I can go to see your stuff in person?  Do you sell in shops?

A) Not at the moment. Shops generally want to take a large percentage of the sale and that would make my jewelry more expensive, so I have decided not to offer my jewelry in shops at the moment.  If you are willing to pay at least 30% more for what I make I would be glad to have pieces in a shop, but that would make my jewelery unaffordable and that really isn't what I am going for.  I would rather a wider audience be able to afford my things, rather than just those who are lucky enough to be able to afford to shop in boutique jewelry stores.  My pieces and process are also rather time consuming, so it really wouldn't be possible for me to mass produce (even at a very small scale) unless I were to hire people.  Which is a possibility in the future...once I have these twins and get things settled on the home front.

Q) Do you do custom work?

A) Yes, custom work is some of my favorite!  But I do not do custom work in silver, and I only work with customer provided stones on a case by case basis (generally, only round heirloom stones that are in good shape and have been removed from their current setting and inspected by a jeweler other than myself). Keeping that in mind, if you would like me to work with you on something special I would probably be glad to.  

A few more (honest) caveats:

I'm not really interested in making something from a design you've created, to be perfectly frank.  There are plenty of jewelers out there who love to do that and even specialize in it, but I am not one of them.  The only reason I do what I do is to make things from my own head, I don't want to spend my life making others' ideas.  So please take a look at the things that I make, and if you want something that is a variation on what I do I would be glad to accommodate you, but if what you are searching for looks nothing like what I do, I'm probably not going to be able to help you.

I also don't design on commission. I do custom pieces but I don't sell the design, I sell the piece of jewelry. The design will then belong to me. I hope that makes sense? I can't cut off avenues of design for a single piece, I like to leave my options open in all directions. I didn't even make my own wedding ring as an exclusive piece!

Q)  What are the differences in the white metals you use?

A) Silver is the whitest of the metals that I use, and it will look very white when it is clean and polished. Unfortunately, it tarnishes and isn't terribly durable. Traditional white gold is made with nickel in the alloy, and some people have reactions to the nickle.  I mainly use a white gold alloy that is white because of a palladium in the alloy.  It will never need to be plated, but it is slightly darker and more metallic in appearance than traditional white gold.  I also use 950 palladium and 950 platinum.  Palladium is very much like platinum, it will be a metallic sort of steely white. When it is highly polished is is very brilliant.

14kt palladium white gold is a 14kt gold with palladium in the alloy to make it white. Karat refers to the percentage of pure gold in the alloy (in this case 58%), the other part of this alloy is made up of silver, palladium, and copper.

950 palladium is 95% palladium and 5% other metals (my supplier doesn't say what they are since this alloy is proprietary, i.e. a brand name alloy).

950 palladium will be slightly lighter in both color and weight. Since it is a platinum group metal it also has a higher displacement rate than gold. That means that slightly less metal actually rubs off on the things you touch, instead it displaces over itself. Some people say that this makes it more durable.

But those are the main differences between 14kt palladium white gold and 950 palladium...color (slightly lighter), weight (slightly lighter), and displacement rate.

Q) What different hammer textures are there to choose from?

A) Please see this link, these are the three main textures I use:


Q) Single B seems like an odd name for a company that specializes in wedding jewelry.  Is there an explanation?

A) Yes, there is.  Although my legal name is Justine, I don't think I actually knew that my name was Justine until I was 8 or 9.  My real name is Bean (or Beani), and I feel more like Bean than Justine (I'm a little fonder of my name now, it took many years, though), and so I when I was casting around for a good name for my company, singleB just sort of stuck.

Q) Where did you learn how to do what you do?

A) After I spent two years studying international and comparative law in a masters program in Nanjing, China (ugh...law, not China..China was awesome! (Oh, how I long for a jianbing from a street food cart.)  And it wasn't really even the law.  I love law, I just didn't dig on learning about law in Chinese.  It made my mind into mush), I attended an intensive jewelry making course in San Francisco.  I learned most of what I know there, although I did do some metal smithing in college and I also have a fine arts minor.

Q) What is with the pugs?

A) They are called Gunter and Dieter (Gunter for the Nobel winning author of the Tin Drum, Gunter Grass....Dieter, just because it sounded good with Gunter).  They are the gremlins that inhabit my house. (Or as they would say it:  Vee ahr zee exchange students come from zee fahter-land to study zee Ahmerica coolture, yah.)

Something new

So I have been struggling to find the time to add new things to my shop.  I have a piece that I am working on, it isn't assembled yet and I'm still trying to decide on the stone, but here is a quick shot of it with the setting just sitting on top with a 4mm cz:

The setting is palladium and the bands are 18kt yellow.  I'm thinking of making a matching wedding band in a wide width with the same rumpled wrinkle texture.  Yes, no, maybe so?

And unrelated to jewelry....

This morning while I was sewing napkins and listening to NPR (the double babies were double napping, hallelujah) I heard an interview with the founder of The Life You Can Save.  I give to various charities each month and it is always a struggle for me to find a suitable organization to give to.  Sometimes I'm just so disgusted with humanity in general that I want to give up.  When I feel this way I give to environmental charities.  But most of the time I don't hate everyone, and especially after having my own children it has really made me more empathetic to the suffering of children (and their mothers).  I can't imagine anything more horrible than having children and not being able to care for them because of poverty or some other reason.  I can't imagine not being able to feel joy about one's children because you can't feed them or keep them safe.  Horrible.  Horrible horrible horrible.  The website that I heard about this morning helped me find a charity to give to for October, November, and December.  I chose to combine those funds and give to one charity, the Fistula Foundation.  It is an organization that helps women to get surgeries to repair damage resulting from pregnancy and labor.  It would be such a terrible thing to have a baby (if you're lucky and the baby lives) and then deal with incontinence for the rest of your life.  To me it seems like the most basic of requirements for happiness: the ability to use the toilet when you choose to.  It's not a glamorous cause, there are no fluffy pandas.  But when I think about a new mother trying to take care of her baby and also dealing with her own trouble, perhaps being shunned by other people because of her medical problem, it breaks my heart.  Breaks it right in half.  So I think that next year I will devote half of my charity dollars to this same charity and the other half to Population Services International.  I encourage you all to check out The Life You Can Save website, it's pretty awesome.

Jewelry artist falls off the face of the earth

No, not really. (Although she might want to at times). 

I've just been a bit overwhelmed.  Turns out trying to do full time work in 20 hours a week is a bit hard.  Plus, I've been busy chasing these:

Work life balance is a little hard to achieve.  At least for me.  I don't want to work full time, since my little sweeties are still so small.  Not that small, I guess.  Eleven months old now!  Where did the time go.  Where are my tiny tinies?!  They're walking!  Of course they are.  Walking at 10.5 months!  It seems really early and I can't help wishing that they had stayed babies a bit longer. I probably won't have anymore, so I feel a bit cheated that I won't get a second go around at the sweet tiny baby part pf parenthood.

Well, on the studio front I've just been working away:

And as I am taking the above picture, out in the front yard:

 LOL LOL LOL.  I have two very dramatic babies.  They're hilarious.

And this was a really fun project for a lovely lady in Rhode Island (a place I've never been, but have always wanted to visit):

I really just love the way I attached the palladium bezel.  It makes me want to remake my own ring!

I have a couple of new things that I'm trying to finish and add to the shop, but extra time is a bit thin on the ground here. :-(  I also have a bit of $$ from recycling all of my polishing sweeps for the last 4 years and I'm trying to decided what new equipment to buy.  Maybe a ring stretcher/compressor?  I really want to get a bead blaster, I love that texture.  AND, I got some stuff that will blacken gold, so I am SO EXCITED to try that out.  But I need the time.  TIME TIME, whose got the time!?

Not me, obviously.  I haven't even posted to my blog in a thousand years....  I think I am going to try to post every week.  We'll see how it goes.  haha.

Sometimes you have a project where everything seems to go wrong wrong wrong

Are there any of you out there that experience this?  It seems like certain projects are just cursed, and bad things just keep happening, one thing after another until the project is ruined.  Or finished, after much cursing.  I swear, at least once a year I will have a project that makes me want to throw myself off of a bridge.  I've either miscalculated how much it will cost to make, or underestimated by like a million hours how long it will take to make (or both! which is always fabulous).  Or while I'm in the middle of the project, things will just keep going wrong.  Well, I had the perfect storm of a project and it combined the best elements of all three of these things.  Seriously made me want to just give up and get a desk job.  What a nightmare.  If they hadn't been for a lovely repeat customer who I really like I would have given up and sent a refund (which I have never before done). 

And then I had a couple of pieces of casting not turn out, so I had to remake them.

Giant pit, right in the bezel.  The other one was the same metal and had a giant pit, right in the same spot.  That is where the sprue was.

Things just seem to be going wrong all over the place.  And I'm being attacked by spiders.

This is the THIRD giant terrifying spider that I've found in the studio.  Maybe it was the same one, I did catch the first one and let it go down at the bottom of the yard (and by letting go I mean flinging into the bushes from the jar he was trapped in), perhaps he came back for revenge? (From being rescued from my sink?)  I let this one go too, although I got super shivers from catching it.  I took a video of it moving around, but I don't want to horrify people.  Ugh. I don't mind spiders generally, but when they're this big....

And I finally got a hair cut after a year and it's terrible.  I have triangle hair now, it's horrible.  I feel like I need to go out and buy some acid washed mom jeans with pleats.  The worst part is, it was finally starting to look good and now I have to start over.  And my hair grows SO SLOWLY.  And my stylist is usually awesome, so I don't even know what happened.

I'm really hoping that things will start improving soon.  I'm not sure if I can take being in a deep gray funk already, and it's only September.  How will I make it through the winter?