Cancer sucks!

May 04 2017

A friend of mine was diagnosed with colorectal cancer that had metastasized to her liver causing her to have a colon resection and a liver resection were she lost the entire right lobe of her liver. She is a young single mom and we were all stunned with her diagnosis. 

I tend to withdraw from the public goings on in an emotional situation so this morning as she was going in for her liver surgery I was down in my shop. Kerry works for the Vermont Association for the Blind and Visually impaired so I thought I would make her a braille pendant that says love. After several failed attempts trying to fuse fine silver in the necessary arrangement I finally thought "...what if I use enamel?" That way I can keep the silver from moving perhaps but it still ended up a blob of fine silver as some of them completely fused down. At last I ended up with something I could give to her. Her favorite color (at least it was this winter) is a soft, baby blue. I used seed beads in the pattern I needed with only one small's really hard to keep those things still during firing. I hope she likes it.

Working on it got me through her surgery and now I am a puddle of tears after hearing she is out of surgery and it went well...tears of joy and relief.

Filed Under: Mental Health,Fashion & Jewelry
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I've enjoyed the journey

Apr 05 2017

Well, here it is. There are only 3 days remaining for the brick and mortar gallery on Main Street in Windsor, Vermont.

I would like to thank all of you who purchased my jewelry from Arabella Gallery & Gifts  the past and this month! I had a whopping $2300.00 in sales in April alone, normally a very slow month at the gallery. It has been a very successful outlet for my jewelry for the past 3 years being the top selling artist all 3 years! In a gallery with over 30 artists and artisans, I'd say that's pretty good. I hope I can find another location who does as well.

I've been asked if I'll be doing any of the local shows and/or events. I don't plan on it. I'm getting a little too old to be schlepping the tents and tables around. Besides, I am looking forward to having more time for family  and workshops! There are TONS I want to take! I can always be found here and plan to search out other local venues in a month or so. The gallery has kept me very busy the past 3 years so I am a bit spoiled not having to market my designs. 

See you all very soon with some new designs!


Filed Under: Fashion & Jewelry
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What does March Madness have to do with jewelry?

Mar 28 2017

My husband only watches NCAA basketball during the month of March when March Madness, or The Big Dance is being played. This college playoff series has become one of the most famous annual sporting events in the U.S. 

Not much of a basketball fan myself, and trying to figure out what was going to pop up next on my bench, naturally hoops came to mind. I just happened to have some silver and copper wire so the next few hours were spent making hoops a few different ways until I worked up a couple I was happy with.

Inspiration comes to me when and from where I least expect it. How about you?

Filed Under: Fashion & Jewelry
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Do you love Peyote Stitch?

Mar 15 2017

Do you love peyote stitch? If you do and are looking for some patterns, I have great news! 

Although I have changed my focus from beading to metalwork, I still have my Peyote Stitch patterns in my Etsy shop. My patterns give you both he word chart and the pattern in large format so it is easy to follow. In addition to the pattern, I give you a free tutorial for two different clasp types and a free earring tutorial!

There are many different patterns to choose from...abstract, geometric and themed so if you're a beading enthusiast you'll love the Etsy shop!

Filed Under: Beading and beaded jewelry
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What to do in a snowstorm?

Mar 15 2017

Normally Tuesdays would find me a the gallery but this week Stella came to town and brought with her 16 inches of white, fluffy snow. The gallery was closed and I was at home in my studio, yea!

After cutting out and sanding the edges of the discs smooth, I annealed them and then put them in the acid bath. Because the metal has to be very clean, after giving them a bit of a dome I sanded and buffed them up. First I put a coat of white enamel on followed by the I have shown you the black/red and blue. I did some more, but since I am once again at the gallery and forgot my phone and camera, those photos will have to wait.

After applying the enamel, back into the pickle they go and then to the bench for more sanding and my 6 stage polishing for the back. The next step is Renaissance wax to protect the finish. Now it's time to wire up some stones to make the drops, make the ear wires et voila!

Make sure you sign up on the email list to see the new work before it gets published!

Filed Under: Fashion & Jewelry
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Tips on caring for your jewelry

Mar 08 2017

Regardless if you're buying plated jewelry or the real deal, there are ways to care for your jewelry so they last. Naturally, plated materials are going to wear over time and end up in the landfill, but there are still ways to give it a longer life. 

I choose to create my jewelry with sterling silver, fine, silver, 14K GF, and copper so that makes it really easy. I highly recommend Sunshine Polishing cloths. This cloth safely cleans, removes tarnish and polishes gold, silver, brass, copper and other metals, glass, mirrors, wood and more, leaving a deep, long-lasting luster. Since it will work on brass as well, it's a good all around polishing cloth. It's my go to cloth for the bench and I carry one in my purse too!

If you have plated jewelry, you must be gentle. First I suggest not wearing it daily. If it's a ring or bracelet, remove it before housework, doing dishes or using any tools. Don't wear it in the pool or the ocean! In fact, plated jewelry should really not be exposed to water if possible so take it off before washing your hands or bathing. If it's earrings or a necklace you have, they are going to last longer as they are not exposed to as much wear...unless you have the habit of playing with your jewelry...a no-no for plated. 

A soft cotton ball and a gentle hand is key. Stay away from commercial jewelry cleaners...and yes, even jewelry cloths as they usually contain a mild abrasive. If you must, a mild liquid soap and warm water, but only if you must.

Pure metals are really easy and a lot more durable of course since the metal goes all the way through. One word though...NEVER, EVER, EVER use Tarn-X. It will pit your metals and destroy pearls. 

Pearls are very soft and need special care. You should never use anything to clean pearls aside from a mild liquid soap. Take care though, if you are cleaning pearls that have been strung on silk cord (which is traditional) the water will compromise the cord. A damp soft cloth is all that you really should need. You should also store your pearls in a soft bag of some sort, not tossed in the jewelry box with other jewelry. 

Opals are another delicate stone and here's the thing. Most opals these days are doublets or triplets. The lower, larger piece of the stone is actually glass or some inexpensive stone and a thin slice of opal is adhered to the top. These should NEVER be immersed or soaked. You may clean them with a damp, soft cloth. A solid opal may be cleaned with a mild detergent and warm water and if needed, a soft toothbrush. Stay away from commercial jewelry cleaners. 


Do you have jewelry that has a patina? If so, you'll need to know if they have been waxed or sealed to preserve the finish. If so, You should really not have to do anything to them. If they get dirty, a soft cloth is all you need...and a gentle touch.  The wax will wear off in time if exposed to chemicals or salt water. I use Renaissance Wax®, a microcrystalline wax used in antique restoration and museum curation. This wax prevents tarnish and corrosion, and is highly moisture-resistant, forming a lustrous, durable, protective coating that highlights rather than obscures fine detail. The coating also creates a barrier against fingerprints and lifts away oil and dirt as well as the accumulated murky build-up left by other polishes. I also frequently use this on my silver. Another sealer I use (particularly on Jeweler's Brass) is ProtectaClear by Everbrite. ProtectaClear has an impermeable finish that provides outstanding protection against damage caused by corrosion, salt water, salt air, acid rain, pollution, mildew, bird droppings, bleach, etc.  ProtectaClear also reduces maintenance and cleaning.

I hope this answers any questions you may have on the care and cleaning of your jewelry. Feel free to contact me at if you have any other questions.

Filed Under: Fashion & Jewelry
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Should I even share this?

Mar 01 2017

As I sat here sobbing with my heart breaking for these children and women and wanting to share, I thought to myself "Should I share this when it is only going to make peeople sad?" The thing is, I didn't even know this was happening. Did you? How can I just scroll past hoping it will wash away with the day. I knew it wouldn't and I think we should become more aware of the pricetag associated with our cell ohnes and laptops. 

As I decided to do a little research, it turns out there are things we can do to help that does not mean giving up our modern technology. In digging a little deeper, I discovered that Apple is invested in begin more responsible in purchasing the valuable minerals to powere their phones and computers. That's good news but it only came about when people begin to become aware of the problem. You can help too. 

Begin my liking their Facebook page Raise Hope 4 Congo. Check out their website and learn more about conflict minerals, how they are mined, transported and sold. Learn who  is in control and how to take away their power. 

It is a sad read, but one you must investigate. See the video to learn more and take action. It will only cost you a little time. Please take a few minutes and look into this and then act.

Filed Under: Human Interest
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Barbara's Bistro and More

Feb 28 2017

Barbara's Bistro is one of the several links I have just added to the "Links" page...make sure and check it out. 

The Upper Vallery in Vermont isn't just beautiful in Autumn! There is a lot to do year-round so make sure and check out the "Links" page for lots of information. I will updating weekly so be sure and come back! 

Filed Under: Food
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I wonder what will happen if...

Feb 21 2017

“Creation and destruction are one, to the eyes who can see beauty." Savitri Devi



As a jewelry designer, I often follow instructions when I am learning a new technique. There comes a point however, when I wonder why when they say "dont'y" or always". It plays on me for a while and then I just have to find out and whoever "they" are well, they're ususally wrong. I suppose if it were my desire to make jewelry that looks like everyone elses, it would all make sense but, at least for now, I prefer to break the rules.

Take the three examples above. The first is a pair of earrings that I held the torch on much longer than I am "supposed to". I could have given them an acid bath and polished them but I chose to leave them torched and polish tham as is. The second is a copper and sterling silver necklace that I all but melted. I followed that with a tumbling and a applied a deep patina. The protruding round object was just screaming for a stone so I set a premium quality Swarovski CZ in a tube setting, attached a patinated sterling silver chain and there you have it. The third was a jumble of copper sheet and wire that I melted and set two 4mm black onyx in, strung it on a black leather cord et voila. This look is not for everyone, but I love the rustic, abstract quality they have. 

In my journey of metalsmithing, I am learning to break the rules, find out "what if" and have some fun creating some contemporary, unusual jewelry. What is interesting to me in all of this is that it is actually harder to work this way. Doing things the way they have always been done is easier, but to me a little boring.

What do you honest!

Filed Under: Fashion & Jewelry
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Masquerading in a beaded mask

Feb 16 2017

Several years ago for her birthday, my daughter asked me to make her a beaded mask for a Mardis Gras themed party. I had never made one before but said yes because  it's really hard to say no to her. She is a wonderful human being, mother and hospice nurse. She is always giving to everyone else. How can you possibly so no to someone like that?!

The entire mask is beaded with seed beads, genuine pearls, onyx and Swarovski crystals to match her outfit. At first, I thought I could use a preformed mask and attach the beads but sewing through that just tore the materials so I ended up having to make my own out of Lucy's StiffStuff. It was an opportunity to learn something new and I figured out pretty quickly that this was only one I was going to make!

Each tiny little seed bead and gem is hand stitched into the mask material.

What do you think?!

Filed Under: Fashion & Jewelry
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Oh great, something else to be passionate about!

Feb 15 2017

Just what I need when I am trying to develop a cohesive collection to offer you....

These are so amazingly unique, mostly because I have very little control over what the final outcome will be. Here's the thing; I can plan the design and variance of shade to an extent,  but the actual color I get depends on several factors, most of which are quite beyond my control. These  are things like room temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure. Even a slight fluctuation will change the outcome. What worked yesterday may not (probably won't) work today. 

First I have to clean and polish the metal, which seems silly I think since I'll just be laying a heavy coat of oxidation on it. If you know me at all, you know I tried it didn't work.

So back to the metal...its hot now and we have to cool it a little, but not too much so no quenching. Pick it up with the tweezers and wave it around a little hoping the little 1500 degree piece of metal doesn't go flying about. Put the small tip in the torch and create a neutral flame...maybe a little toward reduction. Anyway, then I just touch the tip onto the metal in different ways to give me a different design...let it cool a little with the highly technical waving technique again. Repeat until I get something I am happy with. Then it's time to try and repeat the design...there's a challenge! Let them air cool, just a little and while still pretty darn hot apply a  micro-crystalline wax and buff...and buff, more wax, more buffing.

Funny that I'm such a control freak and I absolutely love this technique!

Tell me, what do you think of the outcome?

Filed Under: Your Colors,Fashion & Jewelry
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What is Bridge Jewelry? It's not about bridges...

Feb 09 2017

Bridge Jewelry

No, Bridge jewelry isn’t jewelry in the shape of bridges. Bridge jewelry refers to jewelry made with sterling silver, pure copper and gold filled metals and semi-precious and other raw minerals. It is more desirable, less dangerous and healthier than costume jewelry made with plated metals…and here’s why.

Plated metals chip, peel and the plating wears off leaving an ugly dull finish, kind of like well circulated nickel. In fact, much of the plated jewelry out there contains nickel and/or cadmium. Lead is pretty much gone but the only people protected from nickel and cadmium poisoning are children…and not even in all states is that true.

Luckily most costume jewelry does not last long enough to hurt you, which…well frankly is not a very good selling point.

Next time you are buying handmade costume jewelry, ask the maker if it contains nickel or cadmium. If it’s store bought and comes from China...beware. There are plated materials out there that do not contain these chemical elements, you just need to be proactive and ask. If they don’t know I would err on the side of safety. There is a ton of information (including lawsuits) available on the internet, but here are a couple of examples:


 Cadmium is a known carcinogen, particularly when it is inhaled in a factory or other workplace. It also can cause serious problems with kidneys and bones, diseases that typically are caused by cadmium that has been ingested in contaminated food or tobacco. The exact risks to adults aren't clear because typically the metal takes long-term exposure to cause the diseases.

Children's jewelry has been of particular concern because kids bite and suck on jewelry - something far less common among adults. Microscopic amounts of cadmium also could be shed onto the hands, and then ingested either by eating or putting a contaminated finger to the mouth.

"Our legal action sends a strong signal to industry that we will not stand by while they play toxic flavor of the month with jewelry," said Michael Green, the group's executive director.

"Cadmium is toxic at any age. There is no excuse for cadmium in any jewelry, and we intend to eliminate this health threat to women and children," he said.


Nickel is one of many carcinogenic metals known to be an environmental and occupational pollutant. The New York University School of Medicine warns that chronic exposure has been connected with increased risk of lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurological deficits, developmental deficits in childhood, and high blood pressure

So why the term Bridge? Because it is the bridge between costume jewelry and fine jewelry. Fine jewelry typically refers to pure gold, platinum and contains precious gemstones like rubies, diamonds, sapphires, etc.

There are times when jewelry made with silver and high quality gemstones can also be considered fine jewelry so it gets a little fuzzy at times.

One of the most positive attributes of Bridge jewelry is that you get a lot for your money. Pure metals don’t crack and peel. So, silver, copper and even 14/20 gold filled will give you a very luxurious and expensive look without spending thousands. It should also last a lifetime. Or more

The jewelry I make is Bridge jewelry. I use Fine silver, sterling silver 14/20 gold filled (not plated), and pure copper. The semi-precious gemstones I use are AA or AAA rated and I also use high quality moonstones, pearls, amethyst, peridot and more. The jaspers and agates I use are cut from raw slabs by lapidary artisans, not mass produced so there will never, ever be another one just like it. I make most of my findings (ear wires, jump rings, etc.) so I know what is in them. Occasionally I will use copper leverbacks which ae plated but contain no lead, nickel or cadmium. So, you see, there is no reason (other than it is cheap) to use those elements in making jewelry. It is worth it to me to spend a little more and be certain that I am not making my customers sick.

Take a look!

Filed Under: Fashion & Jewelry,Health & Jewelry
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Feb 03 2017

Do you have a passion for paws? How about feathers?

Me too!!

When I began working with enamels a short time ago, I had the inspiration of doing a series of work where, from every sale, would include a donation to one of 3 charities.

After doing some research, I am pleased to announce that I have selected:

Lucy McKenzie Humane Society  A local fqavorite

Dogs Deserve Better Rescuing chained and penned dogs, working to change laws to protect dogs from abuce and neglect

Mercy For Animals All animals deserve kindness and respect. Mercy For Animals is giving them hope.


Because I just got my paw stamp, going forward, $3 from every sale of my Enameled Heart Series will be donated to your choice of 1 from the above charities. If no charity is selected, I will rotate between the 3 listed above. ]

Look for reports at the beginning of each quarter in my blog.

All heart earrings made henceforth will have the paw print stamped on the back.

Here's a picture of my rescue babies...after 6 years I'm still not sure who rescued who.


Filed Under: All things animal,Charitable Contributions ,Fashion & Jewelry
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Gold plated or gold filled, do you know the difference?

Jan 25 2017

So, you are admiring a piece of jewelry, then you see it was made with gold filled materials so you move on thinking it is not worth the cost, and it will look horrible on just a few months. After all, you aren't looking for costume jewelry.

Here's the thing. You're probably confusing gold filled with gold plated so you'll want to know the difference before you make up your mind.

Gold Plated is easy to spot due to its brassy appearance. It is made from base metal, usually nickel, and is applied in a very thin coating to the top of the base metal. It will tarnish fairly rapidly, rub off exposing the base metal. If you try to manipulate gold plated wire it will crack and/ or chip off. Typically is will last about a year, perhaps much less depending on care. The cost makes it a great choice for costume jewelry made with faux gems or stones.

Gold Filled on the other hand does not have a brassy appearance, and has a much higher concentration of gold (1/20 of the entire weight must be gold). It is also applied using  a different technique and is bonded to either copper or silver rather than nickel. You can expect your gold filled jewelry to last anywhere from 5-30 years depending on care. The cost is much less than gold which at the time of this writing is $1195.00 per troy ounce. Gold filled wire can be bent, twisted, manipulated and even soldered (if done carefully) without any cracking, chipping, peeling, etc...

In either case you'll want to steer clear of harsh chemicals. If you're wearing gold plated,  keep it out of water too. 

I don't use much gold n my designs due to the cost of the gold and specialty tools. I do however use gold filled wire for ear wires. The earrings you see here are actually jeweler's brass with gold filled ear wires. They are a great alternative to silver in my warmer designs. 

What's that? Did I hear you say "What the heck in jeweler's brass?"? Well now, that his a topic for a different blogpost! 

Filed Under: Fashion & Jewelry
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Should you wear copper?

Jan 21 2017

You really like copper, but will it look good on you? Does it have any medicinal benefits?

Before we get into the perceived benefits of wearing copper, take a look at your wrist, in natural light if you can. Are your veins blue, purple, or green in color? If they are blue or purple you have cool skin tones and if they are green, you lean more toward the warm tones. Now, remember that skin tone is assocotiated with ethnicity and color has more to do with the environment.  You can have light skin tones and have darker skin color if you live somplace that is warm and sunny. Your skin tone does not change when your tan goes away...althought the color fades. 

Now, the "rules" for what metals and gems you can wear have gone out the window. If you aren't sure and not so audacious that you throw it to the wind and wear what you want, then it goes like this. Those with cool skin tones "look best" iin silver, platinum and white gold, whereas those who have warmer tones look best in rose gold, gold, copper or brass. 

Onto health! The proposed benefits of copper include reduced joint inflamation. and joint pain. When you wear copper, a minimal amount of copper is absorbed by the skin. Enough perhaps to balance out a slight deficinacy but not enough to harm you. Wearing copper jewelry is unlikely to have detrimental side effects and you may be pleasantly surprised...unless you are allergic. To my knowledge there has been no medical substantiation that wearing copper will aid in arthrits, for example; however people have been insisting it does for decades that I know of. I remember my grandmother wearing copper bracelets, swearing it helped alleviate her arthritis symptoms.

Does copper turn your skin green? It's not the copper, it's your diet and maybe you should pay attention!

In Matt Caron's blog he says this 

"Copper reacts naturally with our salty skin, which can be created whenever we sweat. This just means you have to be aware of when you might be working out or in the sun. But copper can also react to acidic environments- and your body acidity is related to your diet. Junk food, processed food, and lots of red meat will make your body acidic.

The more acidic your diet and body, the more likely you are to get sick. "


Filed Under: Your Colors,Fashion & Jewelry,Health & Jewelry
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