What’s New for the New Year?

I expect to be doing a lot of wire weaving work in the next few months – reason being that it has finally “clicked” for me, and instead of being frustrated by all but the most simple of efforts, I am getting really excited to be making some more elaborate pieces.

Sodalite Semiprecious Gemstone Pendant with Wire Frame

Sodalite Bead Pendant Framed with Copper Woven Wire and Antiqued for a Rich Patina

You can see more images of the work, and purchase if you’d like, through my Etsy shop. This piece was made following a tutorial, but now I feel confident that I can actually branch off on my own and come up with designs without following a step by step process.  In fact, this afternoon I will be working in weaving a frame for a beautiful Fire Agate that I recently purchased.

I’m also making new earrings almost daily, and have been traveling this last month and stopping at bead shops along the way.  Here are a few pieces that have come out of recent bead binges! Click on the images to be directed to the item in my shop.

Swarovski Crystal Pearls with Vintaj Bead Caps

Pearly Beads, from Swarovski, topped with pretty Vintaj bead caps

Another pair of earrings recently made – simple and casual.  A little bit of metal manipulation to halter these pretty Dove Gray Czech Glass beads.

Czech Glass Beaded Drop Earring

Pretty drops of Czech Glass in Dove Gray Sway from Antiqued Brass Rings

Next is another dagger-style drop design, pinched with a delicate bail.  Something a little bit unexpected!

Iridescent Earrings Black Tie Gala Dressing

Iridescent Glass Twists, Suspended from a Delicate Bail


Feel free to browse both my Talisman Too and Talisman Studios Shops, to see what else has been done since your last visit, and “Favorite the shops to see new additions when you log on to your own home page at Etsy!


Purchasing to Repurpose

Earrings with Far East Design

One of my favorite pastimes is browsing through antique and vintage shops, whether online or on the street. Mostly, I justify my use of the time(which can be significant) with the idea that I am searching for vintage buttons that I can use for my collection of ponytail holders at Talisman Studios, but just as often I am enjoying the design and practicality of objects which once were part of someone’s home.

When I saw the necklace that I harvested the beads I created these earrings from, I couldn’t resist buying the piece, and I almost completely forgot to ask the obligatory question(“Do you think you could do better on the price?”), because I wanted to get that beauty home and dismantle it!

I am guessing the necklace was a souvenir purchase someone of my mother’s generation made while traveling in the Middle East or perhaps Asia, The necklace was fairly simple, and not likely to be desired in and of itself, at least at this time. Too clunky for current styles, I thought, as I considered the negative aspects of using the parts instead of keeping it whole. But the beads – so wonderful!

The barrel shaped focal beads are almost certainly Bakelite. Though I have not tested for authenticity, Bakelite is fairly easy to recognize.  It has a certain sumptuous look and a saturated denseness that is pretty unmistakable. However, I decided to leave the question open – I do not think the material matters quite so much, in this case. Bakelite or not – they are just lovely beads; a deep chocolate brown, almost black, color.

But the truly remarkable components are the brass bead caps.  Each one was cut individually. Looking closely, one can see the angled marks of the metal snip used to make them.  The design is inspired by a Lotus Flower motif, which is why I wonder if the necklace wasn’t originally sold in some local bazaar in one of the mountainous regions of the Himalaya. They are delicate, thin sheets of metal, and this makes then precious, in my opinion.

I opted to add a simple round ring to the top of the design, when I made these earrings, and am reminded of a lantern shape. I have enough beads to make a half dozen or so pair of earrings, but I would also like to use some in necklaces.

The earrings have some sort of appeal, as each and every time I wear the pair I am keeping for myself, someone has commented on their beauty. This just doesn’t usually happen to me. So I have to believe that somewhere along the line, these beads were handled by someone with a strong and positive energy.  I think it may have been the artisan who crafted the brass beads, and probably the original necklace.I can imagine a man, crouched into the squatting position of rest one sees of the tribal folks of the East, working on new creations as he spent his time selling to travelers passing through.  I see him as a kind man friendly, interested in his visitors, and accepting. I am grateful to have found the necklace, and am confident that man would smile in knowing the pieces will be finding new wearers ho will appreciate their beauty.

You can find the earrings, available for sale, in my Talisman Too shop.

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An Historic Small Business

Small Business Saturday Harkens Back to an Every Day Lifestyle for Many

Brinegar Cabin Blue Ridge Parkway

On Saturday, November 28th, American Express will sponsor it’s sixth annual Small Business Saturday. As an entrepreneur with several online ventures, I have been planning my strategy for the day and intend to include the promotion of many other small businesses as part of my campaign.

I grew up “small business.” My father owned an independent propane gas service company, which his father had sold to him when he married. Grandpa Marcoe, a small businessman himself, divided his holdings amongst his children when they wed. The heating oil portion went to the husband of his youngest daughter, and the bar/bowling alley called Van Dyne Lanes to the oldest daughter’s husband(yes, in days back, the daughter’s husband got set up, with the expectation he would manage her welfare wisely). He kept his gasoline dealership for himself.  It was not a gas station as we think of today – instead he delivered gasoline to other garages, gas stations and private individuals who had a gas pump at their farm or residence(as did my father, who had to lock it up tight once his children began getting old enough to drive!).

On my mother’s side, her father was a milk delivery driver, who began his career with a horse-drawn wagon. She loved to make the joke “My daddy was the milkman!”

As a youngster, I was already in the minority by having a father that worked for himself in a small business venture. By the 1970’s, factory jobs were the norm for most in my community and there were several prominent one, such as Giddings and Lewis, Tobin Tool and Die, Mercury Marine and Speedqueen. Amazingly, all these companies are still operating, but I do recall the winnowing years as they pared down to survive as the Great Wave of Importing began washing upon our shores. It was tough for my father as a sole proprietor, but at least he had some semblance of control over his operations.  The factory workers were at the mercy of middle managers and factors beyond their comprehension, much less their ability to manage.

Currently, I am traveling for the winter months, as I do each year when it gets too cold to live in my woodland cabin in upstate New York. I decided to drive down the east side of the Appalachian Mountains, and in particular go through Shenandoah National Park and go the length of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Yesterday, I stopped to visit an historic homestead along the route, the Brinegar Family Cabin. I couldn’t help but to compare my more modern way of living, despite the fact I do live in a log cabin(albeit made from a kit) without plumbing or electricity. Whereas they had fireplaces in both rooms of the house to heat during cold months, I use a portable propane heater to warm things up before heading to bed and when waking up.  But unlike the Brinegars, I abandon ship once the weather actually begins to turn cold!

The Brinegars built a root cellar and spring house to keep their perishable foods, and though I refuse to purchase ice for my cooler, I am able to make trips to town easily enough that I need only keep food for a few days. The Brinegars used an outhouse and bathed in the cold spring, and I – well, some things don’t change!

But the thing that touched me during my visit to the Brinegar Farm, was to find out that Mister Brinegar, along with farming his 125 acres, made shoes for neighbors and nearby townsfolk, as well as acted as a notary public.

Brinegar FamilyBrenigar Family InformationBrenigar Family Information

Even in a lifestyle where so very much was done on one’s own, there remained some things one wanted or needed money for. Shoemaking obviously helped Mister Brinegar to bring in those funds. In that respect, he operated a small business. It may not have been as formally organized as our small businesses of today, but no doubt he fulfilled the needs of those who sought him out and did his best to satisfy them – hallmarks of any small businessperson with a desire to succeed.

On the other hand, maybe he just found joy in making shoes! I can certainly understand that.  It’s why, after four years and with sales not yet reached $1000, I keep buying beads to work on things for my Talisman Too shop! Part of having a small business is the ability to keep blowing oxygen at the coals, hoping at some point for ignition. For me, that would mean that I could count on the business to sustain me economically.  Until then, I have other ventures, including working at the Mohonk Preserve half year, to keep me fed and clothed…and buying beads like these below, which I found at Strand Beads in Boone, NC.

Czech Glass Beads to be Made into Earrings and Bracelets for Talisman Too CollectionsHere’s one pair of earrings I put together with some of the beads yesterday.

Czech Glass Earrings in Nature Tones Boho StyleI know I ramble as I type, but am told that this sort of wandering is part of the charms of my writing. The thing I am trying to convey is that small business has been a part of our world’s culture long before the age of industrialization.  I wonder just when it was that the first small businesses came into being?

So – to wrap things up – here’s my wishes for a strong Small Business Saturday to entrepreneurs in the US this year. Do you have a small business?  Feel completely free to post a link in the comments, along with a promotional bit!


The Delicate Beauty of Arabesque Beads

Arabesque Bead Earrings Teardrop Shape

While visiting the A Rolling Stone bead store in Redlands, CA, I found a display case of beads different than what I had been used to seeing. Labeled as “double dipped copper beads,” I instantly fell in love with the delicate filigree construction. Expensive they were, but I could not resist.  I bought what I could afford – but two sets of two beads; enough to make two pair of earrings. I hoped that I would be able to reorder more when needed.

Once I got home and had some time, I began scouring the internet in search for suppliers.  The bead store I had visited wasn’t really set up well for ecomm, and I admit – I was hoping to locate a source selling at below retail cost.

At first I had difficulty finding the beads, but this was due to my searching under the term the beads had been labeled. Once I did some brainstorming, I easily found several sellers of these wonderful beads which are made in India. Unfortunately, I also found that the retail-priced beads that had hooked me in the first place were actually inexpensive, comparatively!

Nonetheless, I went forward with a purchase from one supplier, and added a few new designs to my shop.  First was a pair of earrings made from exquisite pillow beads in a trapezoid shape. The intricate work in this arabesque design in so pretty, I had a hard time not keeping them for my own. I’ve paired them with Caribbean Blue faceted beads of Czech glass.

Trapezoid Pillow Shaped Arabesque Bead Earrings

Another bead design I could not resist were round in shape, reminding me of our sun, or that of an antique clock set atop a street post in a European town. The stylized flower design, to me, could be inspired by the flares of the sun, and perhaps that is what made the connection for me. I accented these antiqued gold beauties with amethyst purple glass beads, along with metal bead caps to balance the design.

Arabesque Beads in Orb shape with Flowere Design

I had located the original teardrop beads in silver color(the bead is made of copper with a coating of silver), and with this design, I tried hand hammering metal for the headpins. I chose a sickle shaped motif, which I envisioned as a stylized variation of the star and crescent element, so important in ancient eastern design, and nowadays associated with Islam.

Arabesque Teardop Bed Earrings in SilverI hope to add more designs that incorporate these beautiful metal beads, but for now these will have to suffice, The old saying may be that one has to spend money to make money, and I have certainly done my share of spending! Now I need to make some money to justify spending more.  Well, at least until I fall prey to my propensity to visit bead stores and online catalogs…..

MetalWorking, Here I Come!

Handmade Silver Hoop Earrings


Not so bad for my first try, I think!

A while ago I decided that I would like to begin learning some new techniques, to expand the possibilities for my jewelry line. I have a good feel for composition, and people adore my pieces, but the fact remains that what I am doing is simply combining components, That won’t get me noticed by people looking for something special, such as those who make decisions on juried shows.

If I want to further myself, I need to grow past the stage I am in and find ways to make my work more special. Wire wrapping and weaving “seemed” to be the best place to start.

Easier said than done of course.  I purchased some copper and silver wire in 18 and 28 gauge, only to quickly understand I need more than these two weight options. Sigh….I told myself to “learn” with what I have and make purchases later. This is also an attempt to force me away from avoiding practice because I am “waiting for new materials” to arrive.

So I had my wire and then I needed to form it.  “I need a hammer!” I thought. So – yeah, I DID buy one.  And because my friend Sonya, from StoneMetal Design, had once mentioned how she found it important to have a good hammer, I bought  a Fretz. Yes, it was costly, but I just feel so good handling it.  I purchased from Firefly Studios and recommend them highly. The seller helped me decide on my hammer and then quickly shipped once my order was in hand. What a surprise to find out how much lighter a jewelery making hammer is compared to the carpenter’s claw hammer I beat the headpins down with on the earrings below – hahah

Sodalite Earrings with Hand Hammered AccentsI have made a few more pair of the hoop earrings in the first image, and will offer them in three sizes(the ones shown are the larger, at 1 3/4 inches in diameter), and in antiqued copper.  That means my next experiment will be in using Liver of Sulphur(also purchased from Firefly Studios), to add the darkened patina to the metal.

Also I have been busying myself drawing up ideas for new designs. I have tried following tutorials, but I often don’t like the actual designs offered, and just can’t enjoy making an item that I don’t feel is something I would want to sell. Instead, I read the instructions and then incorporate the techniques in my own designs.  It is frustrating,for sure, but it is more often that my design needed a tweak and not an issue with the technique employed.

It’s slow-going, I am finding.  But fun!