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Halloween – Before

This is the third Halloween in our house, and each year I am faced with the task of buying the right amount of candy to hand out. The first year, Steve dressed as a mad scientist with a lab coat, crazy hair, goggles, gloves and a cauldron of bubbling potion (thanks to some dry ice he brought home from work). The scene drew throngs of witches and Darth Vaders, so we ran out of candy around 7pm. I raced to the store for another two bags and returned within 8 minutes, but we only got about 10 more trick-or-treaters that evening. Steve and I were not about to let that candy go to waste, so we ate it over the next four days. (I sense Dr. Atkins rolling over in his grave). I don’t remember how much we bought or gave out last year. That was AnneMade Jewelry’s first fall season and I remember being pretty swamped. This year we are starting out with 3 bags (52 pieces), not counting the sample of each kind I ate for the sake of the children; I wouldn’t want to hand out poisoned candy. It is 70 degrees with almost no chance of rain, so I’m thinking this will be the biggest crowd yet. I have a bag of spider rings and some Craisins if I get desperate.

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Almost Famous

The “Spotlight on Small Business” section of our newspaper features local entrepreneurs, and AnneMade Jewelry was featured in October. If you bring me a copy of the article, I might autograph it for you.

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Silver clay

I recently learned to work with fine silver clay (PMC). I’m able to roll it out on different textures, squirt through a syringe, and press into molds I’ve made of everyday objects like buttons. Traditional metalworking seems so time-consuming and limited in comparison! PMC dries quickly, so I’m learning how to keep the excess clay wrapped in plastic while I’m working. After I finish a piece, I let it dry on an electric mug warmer. Then I sand the rough edges with an emery board and fire in a digital kiln at 1260ºF for 10 minutes. The photo shows what the pieces look like when they’re finished firing. You can see the aqua CZ ring at front-left and the wizard ring to its right. Only certain stones can withstand the heat of the kiln, and because CZs are lab-created under high heat and pressure, they are good candidates for firing in place. Other stones can be set after firing, but the settings are less integrated with the design. Rings are tricky because the clay shrinks a little when firing, so I have to do a little math in order to make a specific ring size. The newly-fired pieces are white because the binder has burned away, which leaves the surface of the silver like that of a sponge. I take a steel brush and smooth out the top layer, which results in a matte finish. Finally I oxidize (blacken) the silver to bring out detail, and burnish the high spots to leave them bright and polished.

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Happy Harvest!

Fall is a busy time for me because I’m gearing up for the holiday season. Word got out last year that AnneMade Jewelry makes a great gift. Event after event left me with a depleted stock, so I scurried to make more before the next event. This year I’m trying to be more prepared by stocking up, which is why you haven’t heard from me in a while. Get out there and enjoy the changing leaves and crisp weather for me!

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Bead Mecca

Yesterday I made my annual pilgrimage to Lapidary Journal’s Beadfest in Fort Washington, PA. It is one of the largest jewelry supply trade shows in the country and I never get to see all the booths before it’s time to leave. It never ceases to amaze me how one can fit thousands of dollars worth of beads and tools in a tote bag. Last night I would close my eyes and see beads; I even dreamt of beads. I challenge you to engage me in a conversation topic other than jewelry!

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Lovely Lampwork

Check out these artisan lampwork beads that just came in the mail. So fun! This is a medium with which I am completely fascinated at the time. Right now I have only book knowlege, but I plan to take a lampworking class after the holidays to see if it’s a technique I’d like to pursue.

Lampwork is also called flamework, which is a bit more descriptive. The glass artisan heats rods of glass in a very hot flame (usually an oxy-propane torch), melting it to resemble the consistency of taffy. He or she then winds the molten glass around a thin steel rod called a mandrel. The different-colored layers of glass can be poked, twisted, swirled, or even rolled in colored frit (glass crumbs) to get a speckled appearance. Sometimes the entire colored bead is covered (encased) in clear glass to give the piece depth like a paperweight.

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Bursting the bubble

The forecast for this week shows rain and cool temperatures, two terms Delaware has heard very little this summer. This morning I turned off the air conditioning for the first time since about June. While I love the concept of throwing the windows open and inviting in the fresh air, it’s freaking me out a little. I keep feeling drafts and hearing unusual noises, until I look and realize it’s just a breeze or the typical street noise I don’t usually hear when inside the A/C bubble. My dog, Riley, normally naps throughout the day. Today she is napping with her nose as close to the window as possible so she might smell all those interesting things the fresh air brings.

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“I read your blob.”

Here’s a picture of the Unfinished Church in St. George, Bermuda. So amazing!

My dad called last night to let me know he and Mom had arrived home safely from OH/KY/PA. He said he already knew that we had gotten home safely from Bermuda. “I read your blob,” he said, matter-of-factly. So cute. Apparently my sister-in-law introduced him to the concept of weblogs during their visit. He’s 70, but has really embraced learning about the computer and internet.