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Since Fall

Hi again!  It has been a while since I updated this so thanks for your patience.  It’s not because all my free time is spent on Pinterest, I promise.

Starting in September I rented studio space downtown close to where my kids go to preschool.  It was glorious being able to drop them off and then walk to work, making jewelry for hours on end without the distraction of the computer or housework (ahem) until my alarm told me to go back and pick the kids up.  I showed you a little of my Sedona line, and after that I did a grouping with Swarovski-set components (like this focal) as part of my Facets collection.

I am still working with colored stone briolettes for my Facets collection as well, and I hated to see this pair of cluster earrings go…
Purple, pink, and orange!
Also I can’t get enough of those big honkin’ Chinese crystals, so I did some long necklaces and wire rings featuring those for the holiday season.
But after Christmas change was in the air.  The pedestrian mall was torn up for an infrastructure upgrade and facelift, and it has been interesting to watch all the work going on just outside my studio.
Cutting down “my” tree, piece by piece

 

Along my commute
I decided not to renew my lease downtown after my spring collection was delivered to the shop, but instead move my tools back home again (for now).

Goodbye, studio

It actually isn’t because of the construction. This is the time of year when I get to focus on other things!  For example, my jewelry friend Judy and I recently played with CopprClay, a copper version of PMC that will likely be paired with turquoise in my Sedona collection in the fall.

I love the torched patina on the left one
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Color inspiration

Do you ever get in a rut with color?  For me I get stuck on robin-egg blue for spring, and burnt orange in fall.  The color wheel is just not that inspiring for me, so if you told me to use a triadic color scheme I wouldn’t get much beyond this.

Bright orange, purple, and green.

Sometimes I just have to see just the colors in question together to get excited about it, and sometimes it takes a version of the color to inspire me, like coral instead of bright orange.  Today (ahem, during the sermon at church) I couldn’t stop staring at my paisley belt.  I never would have put plum, olive, sage, salmon, and orchid together but it totally worked.  And look!  It’s almost the same triadic combination, but a springy fresh version of it.

And then I was thinking about how the jewelry version of the belt would be something from Laura Gibson.

Brandi Hussey is a whiz with color and has written a tutorial on how to use a picture to create a color palette in Photoshop.  So I tried it.

When you’re looking for new color combinations, take your camera to a store that sells fabric or fine stationery.

Notecard from PaperSource

Or find a fine art image, like the monthly challenge over on Art Bead Scene.

And then make a palette from it, even if you just do it in your head.  And then make jewelry that incorporates colors from that palette.  Mix some colors and don’t worry about the rules!

Update:  Molly has a great suggestion down in the comments (Thanks!):
May I also suggest using this amazing tool from Sherman Williams for creating a color pallet from any image. It’s called Chip It! And you can add it to your tool bar just like the Pinterest “Pin It” button. You can check it out here: http://letschipit.com  It is a designers dream!!

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Bargain hunting with gold and gemstones

Last week I took a grouping of my Facets collection to the shop downtown, and in looking back over the pictures a few thoughts occurred to me.  High-karat gold and rich, faceted gemstones are really popular right now, even in the tough economic times and sky-high metals market.  But I’m too much of a bargain hunter to settle for jewelry designs that cost “a million dollars.” (That’s my phrase for when something is ridiculously expensive.)  Last year I introduced gold-filled (a heavy layer of gold over base metal) components as a price-savvy alternative to solid karat gold, and this past year with the gold market even higher I have found even more economical-yet-fashionable solutions. 

I buy stones according to color because my customers are more concerned with the look (Will this match my sweater?) than the pedigree (Is this garnet A-grade?).  For this necklace I could pay top dollar for flawless, earthy green briolettes (A-grade peridot, for example) but I chose cubic zirconia to go with the fall mix of citrine, rhodolite garnet, and smoky quartz.  And if a stone has a small inclusion it’s not like the Gem Police are going to be up in your grill examining as one might, say, an engagement solitaire.  So while this may not be a necklace passed down for generations, it does have the color and wear of real gold and the weight of real stones.  (Ever have the full-on Monet experience at big retailers?  It looks beautiful until you hold it and realize the beads are plastic.)
I have previously drawn the line at gold-plated components because they’re generally cheap looking anyway, and because of the thin layer of gold they’ll tarnish much sooner.  But lately I’ve put a lot of work sourcing components to get the look of high-karat gold without the pedigree, as with this laurel wreath.  It is matte 16K gold-plated brass and, while I know it’s not going to wear as tough as gold-fill, it’s in a low-traffic setting (pendant) and a heckuva lot less expensive than solid 18K gold.  And that sweet little bee in the necklace above is vermeil — 18K over sterling silver — so it also has intrinsic value without the price tag of solid gold.  Again, these may not become estate pieces, but that also means you don’t have to love them forever.  (I love yummy soft leather handbags but I never buy them because then I’d feel obligated to carry/repair/love the same bag until I’m 60, and I’m too fickle for that.)  So for $39 you get the actual color of high-karat gold along with real citrine and garnet in rich tones for fall on a gold-filled chain.

These pieces (N791, N806) are used for illustrative purposes, but may still be available at Simply Charming Boutique.

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State of the Studio

I never quite know what to tell people who ask how my jewelry business is going.  Actually, more frequently it’s something like, “Are you still doing that beading thing?”  I usually end up saying something like, “It’s going really well, thanks!” and leave out the fact that I managed to nap every afternoon during my first trimester and still managed to crank out a successful spring line (which is now mostly gone, sorry!).  I am so thankful for the gals at Simply Charming Boutique in downtown Winchester for doing such a great job of selling my pieces. 
You may remember in the fall I switched gears to focus on two new lines, Facets and Elements.  They both did really well over Christmas.  I expected there to be the typical lull during the winter before working on spring, and considering the crazy metals market (silver doubled in the past year) I figured sales would taper off.  But every month (instead of every quarter) I’ve had to restock my collection and I’m finally starting to realize that I don’t get to be the Lazy Jewelry Gal any more.  I still get to dabble a little in new techniques (like resin and polymer clay) but gone are the days when I get to chronicle every activity on my blog or upload pictures of my inventory.  To my out-of-town readers, I apologize for keeping all my jewelry captive in the Shenandoah Valley, but I guarantee if you come visit you will have a beautiful trip.  This summer I am going to try to work ahead a little and build a collection for fall & Christmas, and once that’s underway I will try to post some pictures, but come October I may be off the grid for a while because we’re expecting another baby.  !!! 

So…  I may not get around to posting anything new from my studio, but AnneMade Jewelry doing well and I’m still having fun! 

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Facets at Simply Charming

I posted photos of the initial members of my Facets line, heading shortly to Simply Charming Boutique.  Once I started working with gold again it made sterling seem kind of boring, so there are more gold pieces than silver.  Maybe it’s because gold is just perfect for fall and I have a hankering for cool weather and crunchy leaves.

The Facets collection includes genuine faceted stones like garnet (grossular green, brown hessonite, traditional almandine, pink rhodolite), citrine (both pale and topaz-y deep), burnt orange carnelian, amethyst, apatite, iolite, smoky quartz, and did I mention gold!

I used a lot of gold-fill components, which is a heavy layer of 12-14K gold over a base metal core.  It has the look and durability of 14 karat gold without the $1,297/oz price tag.  I also used some vermeil (ver-MAY), which is a sterling silver base heavily plated with high-karat (18-22K) gold so it is solid precious metal and has that rich yellow color like museum jewelry.  I love the way it looks with pink, orange, and purple.

Simply Charming Boutique has reopened in its new location (with free parking) and I can’t tell you in words how BEAUTIFUL it is!  My jaw dropped open when I first walked in, partly because it’s an old building with wonderful architectural details, and partly because Brenda has filled it with all kinds of wonderful things.  Go have a look if you’re near Winchester, Virginia!

If you’re not lucky enough to be in the Shenandoah Valley but you want to get details about the pieces, feel free to email me for pricing and availability of any items in the Facets or Elements collections, or you can check out the rest of my jewelry at my Etsy shop.

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Facets Collection

Now that my Elements collection is having fun in its new home my jewelry-making is now geared toward another new collection called Facets. 

Where Elements is rustic, neutral, and casual, Facets is bright, sparkly, and colorful.  I intend for the pieces to work together to make a layered look, or to be worn separately based what you’re wearing.

Pictured here is a 20″ sterling bubble chain with amethyst, peridot, and apatite.  It can be paired with the amethyst solitaire pendant on an 18″ chain and the cluster earrings.  Or if your top has a lot going on you could do just the earrings or solitaire. 

As with the Elements collection, I challenged myself to create pieces that embracing the current economic climate; interesting without breaking the bank.  Just because you see gold and faceted stones, don’t expect to pay a million dollars for them.  I love to bargain hunt, even with beads.

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Color

My Elements collection is well underway, so I’ve moved from production mode to pricing/tagging mode.  Ugh.  Not my favorite part, so the procrastinator in me looks for something fun for distraction.  Another line! 
My Facets collection is next so I’ve been in purchasing mode shopping for faceted stones and chain.  It’s taken me awhile, but I’m embracing gold again.  I’m planning to have both silver and gold and colorful stones like peridot, amethyst, citrine, garnet, and maybe some Swarovski crystal to fill in where nature is either lacking or cost prohibitive.  On Friday I got to visit one of my favorite places, Sparkles Bead Shop in Newark, Delaware.  Connie, the owner and my precious friend, walked me through the new Swarovski colors, and just standing in front of a halogen-lit wall of sparkling facets was so inspiring.

One part of working with color that is not my strong suit is putting different colors together.  When I get dressed in the morning and choose a colorful shirt, I wear neutral pants (or my beloved green capri pants with a neutral shirt).  That’s a color cop-out, especially when I love how other people put bright colors together.  So I’ve learned little tricks that help me out, like looking at a non-jewelry item to get inspiration.  When I go to the fabric store and don’t really need anything, I’ll walk around and look at color combinations used in the fabrics.  Pictured here is pile of picnic blankets I saw in Parents Magazine. (When I joke that I never really leave work, I’m not entirely joking.)     
I do the same in the scrapbooking section because those color combos tend to be a little more contemporary.  Also in that magazine was this ad for lice medication, but here is the part I saw: turquoise, avocado, burnt orange, chocolate, mustard.  I’m drawn to circle motifs, but I’m training myself to be in “color mode” these days.
I’ve had a break and let myself get distracted while still being productive, so now I’ll go back to the grindstone and finish pricing and tagging Elements.  I’m planning to put a gallery page up so people outside the Shenandoah Valley can see what’s new, too.  Will keep you posted!