Thursday, December 1, 2011

Celebrate December Birthdays with Sapphire Blue Glass Jewelry

December is here and it's all about Christmas!  But I don't want to neglect all those people who have birthdays in December and get overlooked because of the Holiday madness.  So this post is dedicated to my jewelry designs made with sapphire blue beads and stones...sapphire is December's birthstone.

Art Deco Choker Necklace

Victorian Blue Glass Necklace

Close-up View Victorian Blue Glass Necklace

Victorian Blue Glass Teardrop Necklace

Blue Glass Art Deco Earrings

Art Nouveau Blue Glass Teardrop Earrings

Blue Glass Art Nouveau Earrings

Be sure to visit my Etsy shop to see these and other vintage style designs!
If you like to make your own jewelry, I found many of the beads, stones and stampings in these designs at

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Origin of Christmas Colors and The Christmas Tree

Ever wonder why the colors of red, green and gold are used at Christmas?  And how the Christmas tree became such a part of the Christmas tradition?  Well, following is a brief summary of the origins of these practices.

The Origins of Green and Red as Christmas Colors:
During the 4th century, the Church adopted the practice of celebrating December 25 as the birth date of Jesus Christ.  Christians were already accustomed to hanging wreaths of holly in their homes during this time to celebrate the winter solstice, and they eventually began leaving the wreaths up during Christmas.  This lead to the association of green with Christmas.  The circular shape of the wreath became associated with the eternal of life of Jesus Christ as well as representing the crown of thorns placed on his head during his crucifixion.  The red holly berries represented the blood shed by Christ.

The Origins of the Christmas Tree Tradition:
The color green became a permanent part of the Christmas tradition over the next few centuries.  More specifically, the evergreen tree was associated by early Christians with eternal life.

The production of Miracle Plays by the Church during the 14th century led to the tradition of Christmas trees. The purpose of Miracle Plays was to educate the mostly illiterate public about Christianity.  One such play called The Paradise Play, traditionally performed each year on December 24, told the story of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden.  Since there were no apple trees available that time of year, apples were hung on a pine tree to represent the Tree of Good and Evil.  

Eventually churches began using pine trees decorated with apples as part of their Christmas celebrations.  Families soon adopted the practice putting pine trees with apple decorations in their own homes at Christmas.

Thus was born the tradition of using the colors green and red at Christmas, as well as the use of evergreens as part of the Christmas celebration.

How Did the Color Gold Become Associated with Christmas?
Over the course of time, the color of gold was added as a Christmas color to represent the Gift of Gold from one of the Three Kings.

This post is meant to be only a very brief summary of the origins these Christmas colors and traditions.  There are many other events and pieces of information that can be linked to our current Christmas customs and rituals.  Here are some helpful informational links I used in writing this post:

The Origin of Christmas Colors
The Colors of Christmas: Red, Green and Gold
Christmas Wreaths (Its Meaning, History and Types)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

2011 Christmas and Holiday Wine Charm Collection

With the upcoming Holidays, it is time to start thinking about parties, gifts and celebration.  This time of year, I always enjoy making wine glass charms.  They are fun to design and are traditionally some of my top selling Christmas and Holiday items.  So I thought I would share some of my 2011 Holiday Wine Charm Collection - available now in my Etsy shop's Wine Charm section.

If you are interested in making your own wine charms, be sure to check out my Tutorial for Making Beaded Wine Charms post from October 2010.  This is a great step-by-step set of instructions!

And be sure to stop by my Etsy shop and check out my beaded Wine Charm section to see all my wine charm designs!

DJAjewels 2011 Holiday Wine Charm Collection:
Santa Claus Wine Charms

Christmas Wine Charms with Clay Charms

Christmas Ornament Bell Wine Charms

Cloisonne Bell Wine Charms

Antique Gold Christmas Wine Charms

Antique Silver Christmas Wine Charms

Swarovski Crystal Antique Silver Wine Charms

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Helping Uganda - Paper Beaded Necklace Design

In one of my earlier posts, I wrote about "My Gift From Uganda" - a necklace beaded with handmade paper beads from Uganda.  Well, I ordered some of the beads and have beaded my first jewelry design - this necklace pictured here.  I used a combination of red and purple beads accented with a few clear Czech glass crystals and antique silver beads.

I ordered my beads from Outreach Uganda.  This non-profit organization's mission is to help Ugandans, particularly women, overcome poverty by empowering them through education and promotion of self-sufficiency.  There are three beader groups, all run like small businesses and all following fair trade practices.  Each group decides how to allocate their group monies including giving small loans to members within the group.

The organization's online shop offers items such as beads, finished jewelry designs, purses and scarves.  According to their website, money from sales is allocated as follows:

  • 40% to the actual beader
  • 30% for special products of the beader groups
  • 15% shipping
  • 15% direct selling costs
The necklace I designed this week is now on sale in my Etsy shop.  I am happy to have helped this worthy organization through purchase of these beads.  When this necklace sells, I will also donate 50% of the sale price to help buy three textbooks for a beader's child.  

Donating is easy.  Several a la carte options are offered in their store ranging from $10 to help buy one textbook for a child, to $250 to buy a small plot of land for a beader to build a home on.

I look forward to designing more unique jewelry designs using these interesting and colorful beads!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Personalized and Handstamped Jewelry - An Increasingly Popular Trend

Personalized Initial Necklace - Red Patina
There is no doubt about the increasing popularity of personalized jewelry.  Hand stamped jewelry designs are one of the most popular trends today and likely to become a major Christmas and Holiday favorite this year.

This week I have introduced my first Etsy shop designs in my Handstamped and Personalized Collection.  These pieces are so much fun to create, and they have such endless possibilities!  One's imagination is really the only limit.

My personal favorite so far is the Personalized Initial Necklace with Red Patina pictured above.   I used antiqued brass charms which I personalized with an initial.  Then I added a deep red patina using Gilder's Paste and textured them with a hammer.  (For more about using Gilder's Paste, read my earlier post on Antiquing Jewelry with Gilder's Paste.)  The color is then sealed with a glossy glaze.  I love the rustic antiqued appearance that results from this process.  Gilder's Paste comes in an array of colors so the patina can be individualized and customized.

Below are a few of my first designs, but more are to follow.  So be sure to check back in the Handstamped Personalized section of my Etsy shop from time to time!

Simple Initial Necklace

Double Heart Brass and Silver Necklace

Hand Stamped Awareness Necklace

Hand Stamped Bronze Sun Necklace 

Monday, September 26, 2011

How to Make Upcycled Washer Earrings

Distressed Brass Washer Earrings
Designing and creating jewelry is so much fun.  But I also enjoy shopping for my jewelry components and findings.  Most of my components are found from various sites on-line - and I have just about as much fun choosing what to order as making the items once they are here!  I actually can get "lost" on a site imagining all the beautiful things that could be made with a particular bead, stamping, or other component.  This week, though, I decided to challenge myself a bit and try using some non-conventional components.  So while I was in my local Lowe's Home Improvement store, I visited the hardware department and picked up some round brass and zinc washers to see what I could do with them.

For these earrings, I used the following items:
Gilder's Paste is a wonderful medium that I have only recently discovered.  It can be used to change, enhance and highlight the color of many materials.  See my previous post for more about this incredible paste!

Here are the brass washers as they appeared right out of the package:

Raw Brass Washers (Before Hammering and Glazing)
Instructions for preparing the washers:

1.  Hammer the brass washings to give them texture - I used a checkered head hammer to add texture, but you can use a plain household hammer over something like plain concrete to give texture.  If you are hammering inside, use a sturdy table or surface.  I used a wood chopping block which I set on top of a kitchen counter top.  I textured both sides, but you can choose to only do one side if you like.
2.  Apply Gilder's Paste to brass washings (I used a combination of "Verdigras," Penitage," and "Antique Bronze."  Simply rub the paste onto both sides of the washer using a soft cloth - a cotton T-shirt works very well, or use an old washcloth.
3.  Let the paste dry about 10 minutes.  
4.  Then rub again with the cloth to remove excess.  Sand the surface and sides of the washer with either fine sandpaper or a nail file - I used a four sided file that had different levels of courseness and did not use the most course side.
5.  Polish with a polishing cloth - I used an unused pad from a makeup powder compact.
6.  Seal with Diamond Glaze or a lacquer sealant for metal.  (I used         )  I sealed one side and let dry about one hour, then glazed the other side.

Here is a picture of the washers after hammering and coloring, then sealing with the glaze:

Textured and Glazed Washers
To make the earrings, use any design of your choosing.  I used antiqued brass chain to loop and stack the washers together onto the earring wires. Here is a picture of my finished design:

Finished Upcycled Earrings
You could put together any variation of your choosing - add some Swarovski crystals or other beads if you like, or add different colors and sizes of washers.  The possibilities are endless!

Also, in my last post about Antiquing Jewelry with Gilder's Paste, I showed how I made a pretty carved rose pendant using Gilder's Paste.  Here is the finished design:

Carved Rose Necklace (View 1)

Carved Rose Necklace (View 2)

Be sure to visit my Etsy shop to see these designs and more!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

How to Antique Jewelry With Gilder's Paste

I have just begun experimenting with Gilder's Paste.  What an incredible material for antiquing and enhancing jewelry!  Gilder's Paste is a wax based medium that can be applied to jewelry and other crafts to create unique colors and patinas.  I bought mine from in several colors:  Antique Gold, German Silver, Verdigris, and Pinotage.

I am still experimenting with it but have started on a few pieces.  The first is a pendant I created using an antiqued silver stamping and a rose station carved from white bamboo coral. The silver stamping is from, and the carved rose is from

Antique Silver Setting

Carved Rose Station
I used E-6000 glue to bond these two components together and let dry for 24 hours.  E-6000 glue can be purchased at any craft store.

The result was rather plain, so I decided to embellish these pieces with some Gilder's Paste.  I applied a combination of Pinotage and Antique Gold colors to create a rosy, golden highlighted patina.

To apply Gilder's Paste, use a soft cloth (I like to use an old cotton T-shirt because it is lint free.)  Rub the paste onto the surface and let dry about 10 minutes.  Then rub again to remove excess and lightly sand - I used a manicure buffing block with medium to fine sanding surfaces.  Next, polish with a polishing cloth or use what I did - an unused pad from a cosmetic powder compact.

Finally seal the paste with a glaze such as Diamond Glaze - I substituted a glass and craft glaze from SunAndMoonCraftKits on Etsy - it is less expensive than Diamond Glaze and works just as well!  Let dry for 24 hours before handling.

Here is the finished pendant:

Finished Rose Pendant
I will post pics of my finished necklace design soon, so be sure to check back to see the finished piece!

Sunday, September 18, 2011


VICTORIAN VINTAGE IMAGES | Vintage Clip Art Vintage Ephemera Vintage Scrapbooking

I just found this great site for downloadable victorian images. These images are great for making vintage style jewelry and crafts, labels, scrapbooking and more. Images are reasonably priced at about $1.00 per download or you can subscribe for a full year at $36.00 and receive unlimited downloads.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Learning to Use My New Hips

I am now 12 days post-op from hip surgery.  I have two new hips now which I am slowly getting used to.  I cannot deny it has been hard to rehab - and I still have a long way to go!  But progress is being made daily.  I will need to use my walker for about two more weeks until I see my orthopedist - can hopefully advance then to a cane.  I can drive after six weeks.  Just went up the stairs in my house for the first time yesterday - with the help of my physical therapist - scary but I did it!

Re-training my muscles to walk with a normal gait after having such an abnormal gait for so long due to the arthritis is proving to be a true challenge.  But I am intent on doing it!  I am receiving in-home physical therapy for now and will progress to more agressive outpatient therapy after seeing my orthopedist in two weeks.

Just re-opened my Etsy and ArtFire shops after having them on "vacation mode" for the past 12 days.  It is truly good to be involved with my shops again.  For now, I have not added any new designs, but will be doing so soon!

Updates to follow.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Preparing For My Surgery

Busy day today!  Getting ready for some long awaited surgery.  Tomorrow, I undergo bilateral hip replacement.  I am admittedly nervous but ready to proceed.

It seems a million things need to be done.  Of course, getting my pre-operative medications filled - have already done.  Making sure all the bills are paid up as I am the one that manages the bills in our household.  Stocking groceries as I will be unable to drive for six weeks.  Of course, my husband will be around to help, but I feel I need to have things as organized as possible while our routine is disrupted a bit.

One of the hardest things is putting my jewelry business on hold for a short while.  I just placed my Etsy and ArtFire shops on "vacation mode" with messages that I will be unavailable for, hopefully, no more than a week.  If all goes well, which it should, I will be able to at least be back on the computer and able to manage e-mails, etc by the end of a week.  Still, I will miss this daily interaction with Facebook friends, customers, etc.

I guess the hardest part of doing this is giving up my sense of control over my life.  Putting one's life under the care of others is a difficult thing.  But, I am certainly doing something that many others before me have done.  And I know it must be done.  After stopping my anti - inflammatory medication last week (because it can increase bleeding during surgery) I have been miserable from an orthopedic standpoint.  Going to the grocery store yesterday was agonizing just walking around the store!  Getting in and out of the car, going up and down stairs - almost impossible.  So, I now intend to focus only on the post-operative aspect.  In another week - it will all be over and I will be rehabilitating and starting life with new hips.  And I know from talking to many others who have undergone the same procedure, I will likely wish I had done it years before.

So, next week I will give an update on my life with new hips - see you then!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Custom Designed Eyeglass Chains

This week I made two custom design eyeglass necklaces for one of my customers.  She wanted something vintage/Victorian style for both pieces.  I love to custom design jewelry for others - the process is very interactive.  This customer lives far away and found my shop on Etsy, so I have never actually met her and all communication was through e-mail

As she told me the kinds of things she liked, I would e-mail pics of specific beads and components which she would then tell me which ones she really liked.  The whole process was quite interactive as the design evolved from sets of loose beads and components to the finished designs.

She specifically wanted to be able to wear both designs with other gold and silver jewelry pieces.  Other requests were for pink and white, cloisonne and heart components.  Here are some pics as these pieces were constructed.

My customer likes pink and white - so I started with this selection for her to view

She also likes cloisonne - so another set for her to choose from

Selection of silver beads to consider

"Rough draft" layout of potential design

Finished design with antiqued silver, cloisonne, pink glass beads and garnets

Initial finished design of second necklace with antiqued silver eyeglass loop

Finished design of second necklace - changed to antiqued brass larger loop to accommodate her extra wide sunglasses  (Gunmetal chain, cloisonne and Czech glass garnet beads, and Swarovski crystal pearls)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

My Gift From Uganda

I received a gift this week that I want to share with you.  It is a necklace hand beaded in Uganda.  The beads are all handmade with paper and painted in bright beautiful colors.   The person who gave me the necklace has a daughter who spent about two years in Uganda, and she brought several pieces of jewelry and other items back with her.  I have learned that Uganda is an extremely poor country.  Many of the women there make beads and jewelry to eke out a living for themselves and their families.

I was so curious about the origins of my new necklace that I went in search of more information.  There are several groups that help these women sell and market their goods.  Outreach Uganda is one such group and is a non-profit organization based in Colorado whose mission is to empower Ugandans and help them rise out of poverty.  Their focus is on education, women's empowerment, and promoting self-sufficiency through job creation.  They have three beader groups and follow fair trade practices.  Each beader group is run much like a small business with the women choosing how to allocate their group monies and making decisions such as giving small loans to members within the group.

Today I ordered some loose beads and am looking forward to creating some beautiful designs with them.  Remember, these beads are all handmade from paper!

Bright Purple Paper Beads

Bright "Red Hat" Paper Beads

Bright Green Paper Beads

I encourage anyone who wants to help with the Ugandan cause to visit Outreach Uganda where you can learn much more than what I have described here.  You can also visit their online store and purchase loose beads as well as finished designs such as necklaces, earrings, eyeglass lanyards, beaded purses and more!

After I receive my beads I will start beading, then post some pictures of my finished designs!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

How Arthritis Helped Me Start a Jewelry Business

In just another month, I am "going under the knife" so to speak - getting both of my hips replaced.  It has been a long four and a half year road arriving to this point, but I am ready both mentally and physically now to do this.  You might ask, "What does bilateral hip replacement have to do with my jewelry blog?"  Well, nothing actually, but the process that brought me here has everything to do with how I ever started making and selling jewelry.

I started having pain in my right hip first about four years ago, but then not long afterward also developed pain in my left hip.  At first, I thought I just had strained my self overdoing.  After all, I have always been extremely active.  I worked out regularly, walked my black labrador retriever "Buddy" three to five miles daily several times per week and did a lot of yard work.  Other than routine soreness, I had never had much trouble.

Well, my pain and soreness this time did not improve as it had in the past, and in fact steadily worsened.  Ironically, my dog Buddy also developed hip problems about the same time and we both became less able to do the things we once so enjoyed.  Buddy died about 2 1/2 years ago, and I along with my family grieved and still miss him.  But, we do have another dog now named Jenny who is an absolute delight.

Back to my story, though.  X-rays done four years ago when I first became symptomatic showed some mild arthritis in my hips.  I was 50 years old at the time.  Over the next couple of years, my pain increased as my mobility decreased.  My x-rays now show severe osteoarthritis - or degenerative joint disease.  What I now know, is that I have a condition called hip dysplasia - which means my hip sockets are more shallow than they should be.  This condition inevitably leads to arthritis as the too shallow hip sockets lose their cartilage with increased wear and tear.

As I became increasingly unable to be as physcially active as I once was, I began to seek mentally challenging activies.  I started making very simple jewelry designs at first, gradually adding more complex designs as I improved my skills.  I started first selling my jewelry on Ebay in 2007, later moving to Etsy and ArtFire.  I now also sell my designs in a jewelry and art gallery in Charlotte, NC called Ruby's Gift, and will soon be selling in another local store in the town of Clover called Crafty on Main.

Now I do not mean to say I am totally sedentary.  In fact, I still continue to work 36 hours per week in an urgent care facility as a nurse practitioner.  Although there have been days this has been physically depleting for me, I have not missed a single day of work ever during the past four years.  I am glad to have had the chance to continue working, enjoying the sense of camaraderie I have with my co-workers and the opportunity to work and interact with a wide variety of wonderful patients.

During my days off and early in the mornings when I just could not sleep because of pain, I have continued to nurture and develop my jewelry business.  And I must say, it has become a passion for me.  Looking back, I do not think I would ever have started down this path of jewelry design had I not had the need to look for a pastime to fill my time.

So, now in another four weeks, I get my new hips.  My hope is to regain my previous level of activity.   I want to walk my dog Jenny again, get in my yard and do my yard work.  I want to work a full day without going home physically exhausted from suppressing and "tuning out" pain.  I want to be able sleep without pain.  I want to be able to go up stairs easily, get dressed without difficulty and a whole host of other everyday activities that right now require a lot of energy and effort.  I look forward to getting that part of my life back!

But I do not mean to evoke sympathy or pity because I also look forward to continuing on with my jewelry business.  It has now become a part of me that I choose not to give up!  It would honestly be like cutting out a part of me now.  So even though dealing with my hip arthritis has been life altering, I choose to see the positive in it all.  I would not have this fulfilling passion and part of my life now if it had not happened.

My surgery is scheduled for August 29 - I will have turned 55 by then.  I will have to be out of work totally for eight weeks, and then will be allowed to work half days for another four weeks before returning full time to my job as a nurse practitioner.  During that time, I will convalesce and rehab, but also, what else - work on my jewelry!  I look forward to weaving a passion for my jewelry business into a life filled with all my previous physical activities.

Before closing, I want to share some favorite quotes that have inspired me to pursue something that has been very fulfilling for me:

"Show me someone who has done something worthwhile, and I’ll show you someone who has overcome adversity."  By Lou Holtz.

"If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it."  By Mary Engelbreit.

"The difference between stumbling blocks and stepping stones is how you use them."  Unknown.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Taste of Charlotte and Ruby's Gift

Haven't posted in a while, so thought I would give an update.  Since the last post, I have participated in the "Taste of Charlotte" event (June 10-12) in uptown Charlotte, NC.  It was hectic and long with 12 hour+ days.  I shared a booth with another jewelry designer and sold a number of items.  Here is one of the tables with some of our jewelry displayed:

Taste of Charlotte - June 10-12, 2011
Today, I will be adding some inventory to Ruby's Gift in NoDa.  "NoDa" is a historic art district in Charlotte, NC which has been revitalized and is a thriving community filled with artists' shops, galleries and restaurants.  Ruby's Gift is a gallery with an eclectic group of artist vendors and has everything from jewelry to pottery to art.  If you are in the Charlotte area, be sure to visit!  Here are some of the items I will be adding today at Ruby's Gift:

Red Glass Fire Opal Necklace

Red Rose on Black Cameo Necklace

Pink Lampwork Sterling Silver Earrings

Crystal Ball Pendant Necklace

Crystal Pearl/Antiqued Silver Earrings

Dichroic & Czech Glass Beaded Necklace

Swarivski Crystal Heart Necklace

Lampwork & Antiqued Silver Necklace

Chocolate Lampwork Beaded Earrings

Amber Glass & Antiqued Brass Earrings

Sapphire Blue Teardrop Necklace

14K GF & Gold Foil Lampwork Earrings