Sometimes I have a morning when I just don’t want to get out the door and go to work. Just tired or unenergetic. Today was one of those. But I got up, out the door and biked to work with my dog running alongside me. It’s cold out; autumn is in full swing and that means frosty mornings, white capped peaks and crispy leaves.
Almost immediately after opening, I had one of my friendly customers drop in to buy a gift. And while she was here another friendly face walked in to ask a jewelry question. And then a happy third joined in. Everyone was cheerful, chatting and smiling and I thought….I am so grateful for these wonderful customers. They make my work totally worth it.
Lately I have been cutting jade to use in my jewelry, working on custom elk ivory projects, and making carnelian and mookaite jewelry for the shop’s inventory. I also just hosted a really fun artist reception for Bailey Russel and Ryan Parker, two contemporary photographers working in the antique wet-plate collodian process. Their work will be up for the month. Online, I have been working on an etsy outlet for my jewelry (isabeljewelry) because so many people like to shop on etsy so I figure it might be good to have a presence both here and there; there may be variation in what’s on each site.
On a painting note, I have been painting quite a bit this year with gouache on paper and you can find my recent work here. I’m exploring the light spectrum, gems and minerals in this new work that is an evolution from sketches and paintings for the public sculpture I installed last year.
I hope everyone is having a nice autumn!
Pictured above: Bailey Russel photos on wall of gallery, jade jewelry on the workbench, jade earrings, above Fremont Lake in October.
Pictured at the top of this post: carnelian bracelets and necklaces.
A wonderful aspect of my job is that I get the opportunity to see people filled with joy when they purchase or receive a piece of my jewelry. I can’t understate how rewarding this is. I’ve made jewelry for many of life’s occasions and I’ve come to further understand how special we hold our jewelry.
I was introduced to the personal story of jewelry by my mother who always let my sister and me go through her box and discuss each piece in detail (and try to put dibs on each one). Some of her pieces are from 1970’s craft fairs, some newly bought, some inexpensive travel souvenirs, and others are family heirlooms. Like any jewelry lover her collection is a fun story of her, her travels and family history.
Happiness is something I find through owning, wearing and creating new jewelry. With my deep connection to jewelry and the happiness that it can bring me I was thinking that I would like to tell my customers: “I want you to be happy.” But that sentence sounded too demanding. Obviously I do want happiness for my customers but stating my “want” in relation to their emotions seemed overbearing. I started turning the statement over in my head and eventually found the lighter feeling: “I hope that you are joyous.”
And so with each piece of jewelry that leaves my hands and enters another person’s: I wish them joy in life, its journey and future.
November is here and I’m starting to ramp up for the holiday season which means building up my inventory in the shop. I’ve been using some beautiful Wyoming sourced jade. In the center of the state there is a nephrite jade deposit and the colors range from an apple green to black with all shades of green in between. One of the unique specimans to Wyoming is the “snowflake” green which has little white crystals mixed into the green. The rock hounds find it in the center of the state, in the sagebrush desert between Lander and Casper; it is usually above ground so they walk all over with their eyes glued to the ground looking for the rocks and hoping for the big million dollar boulder. A lot of people are unaware that gemstone quality jade is found in Wyoming.
I bought some Wyoming jade from a local guy this past summer and have begun using it in my jewelry. And since jade is the toughest gemstone available, it makes for a great jewelry stone and can be worn with confidence in rings.
(This is my husband looking over the rough although we bought all cut stones. We hope to learn the art of lapidary someday.)
Some of the stones show a whole different color when they are held up to a light, for example the pendant below shows a mossy medium green when held up to a light and is a forest green when held against my hand.
The pendants above show the variety of greens found in Wyoming jade, from an apple green to a dark forest green and even a grey-green.
I am super excited to have a localy sourced gemstone available for everyone and will be offerening more designs as quickly as I can get them made and uploaded to the website.
I just returned from Tucson, Arizona where I was taking gemology courses and visiting some of the gem shows. There are about 40 gem, rock, fossil and mineral shows going on during a two-week period each February and the offerings go from $1 pebbles to super high dollar gemstones, not to mention a T-Rex skeleton!
Currently I am working on becoming a graduate gemologist through GIA (Gemological Institute of America). In Tucson I took a Colored Gems Lab and a Pearl Grading Lab.
The Colored Gems Lab was three days and covered all the details for grading colored gemstones. We learned about describing their color in very specific way that includes hue, tone and saturation. We identified good and symmetric cuts as well as polish, amazing what you see once you really start looking. Finally we were taught to use a gemological microscope to seek out all of the inclusions inside of the stones. What a universe each little gem holds inside. Who knew?! There are little markings from when the crystal was growing, lines, bubbles, ‘needles’, ‘fingerprints’, ‘clouds’. And there are various fractures and cracks. The inclusions can affect the clarity of the stone but some are so tiny that you would never know they were there. It’s like the stone’s personality, each one is totally different.
And then the pearls…oh the pearls. So pretty. We were able to study pearls from white to black and all colors between. It can be pretty hard to get the hang of describing pearls’ colors since they are so muted. Greenish-blue or Blueish-green? Orangeish-yellow or Yellowish-orange? Slight variations make the differences. And then there are the overtones that can be a totally different color like pink. I’ve always loved the iridescent Tahitian grey and black pearls so I was happy to examine some up close. I hadn’t known too much about the yellow and orange South Seas pearls found in Australia and Indonesia and enjoyed those too. We examined cultured freshwater pearls from China and the cultured Akoya pearls from Japan (the classic white round pearls).
Both of these labs are in conjunction with distance learning I’m doing online and it was really good to get the hands on training. I’ll be using my new knowledge to expand what I offer online and in my shop. Soon I will be introducing colored gemstone engagement rings (well…you don’t have to be getting engaged to buy yourself one) and I’m really excited about this. My gemology courses have really been helping my knowledge and I will be loving the chance to share that with my customers.
The jewelry store is packed with jewelry and artwork. Each year this time I like to have a large amount of jewelry for people to choose from. I tend to experiment with colors and shapes and gemstones so I find that there is a good variety of thoughts going on.
I just hung up 18 calligraphy paintings by a local artist Charmian McLellan on Monday. We’ll be having a reception for her on Saturday 5-8, Dec. 14, 2013.
Hope everyone has a wonderful season and good winter and happy new year!