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Sea glass clusters

I’ve got summer and beaches on the brain.  Steve and I love to comb the sand (on certain beaches) looking for sea glass. I have containers full of pieces waiting to be made into jewelry, so in anticipation of beach season I made up a grouping of these charm cluster pendants.
I love the puns that people use in naming a beach house

Each necklace has a piece of sea glass or chalcedony, a sealife charm, and stamped phrase like “beach babe” or “by the sea.”

I used my newest set of letter stamps which are tiny lowercase letters.  They’re especially hard to stamp perfectly straight, so I am embracing the whimsical look that results.  These are headed to the shop downtown, but feel free to email me if you’d like something similar.  I can customize the phrase I stamp if you prefer your kids’ names or (ahem) the name of *your* beach house.

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Steve and I spent this past week in St. Thomas. It was beautiful and I am so grateful for the time to recharge think about things I had on the back burner. We basked, ate like kings, shopped, visited St. John, and read a stack of books. But if it makes you feel better, I caught a cold and was miserable for a couple days too.
Pictured here is a piece of sea glass I found on our trip and submitted as a pendant for YOJ Week 3. We found only a few pieces of glass, largely because our hotel was located on a hillside overlooking Charlotte Amalie harbor, miles (and a $20 cab ride) from a beach. No real complaint about not going to the beach much; the pool doesn’t leave sand in my hair, and Pedro-the-snack-bar-guy kept us properly outfitted with fruity drinks. For the Vitamin C! An interesting tidbit about Charlotte Amalie: several streets retained their names from Danish occupation, so we were familiar with the words because of our Scandanavian travels.I’ve used twice now and are happy with their service… If you have vacation time and cold toes, check out their “Ends Soon” page (and notice that’s the total price including airfare). Just don’t go to Bermuda at this time of year, no matter how good the bargain!

More pictures…

cruise ship Bluebeard's Castle find the iguana dinner with a different view dinner with a view ferryroom with a view plumeria our pool more shopping StThomas2008Sapphire Beach sailboat night view shopping Louie & Louise when in the Virgin Islands yacht haven view of St John

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Wire wrapping

Thanks to my rock-hound great-aunt Ruth I used to tumble rocks as a kid. I had the plastic toy-version rock tumbler that was so loud we’d keep it shut away in the netherquarters of my parents’ house for weeks as the grit slowly polished the rocks. Then I’d have a bowl full of semi-precious pebbles and no way to show them off. They were polished so well that my glued-on bails wouldn’t stay, so the alternative was to create some sort of setting. I had a bunch of copper wire and I would borrow my dad’s little pliers he bought for working on model trains. Unfortunately I don’t have examples of my early wirework to show you the progression, but learning on rounded, slippery rocks helped me get a feel for what settings would stay on and which rocks were just better left in the bowl.

When we moved to Delaware, Steve and I let our puppy wade in the Delaware River near our house (and then she got a bath, don’t worry!) Meanwhile we started finding sea glass on the beach and quickly had enough to fill a bowl. I think you have to be part monkey to fully enjoy looking for the stuff; after all it is just shards of glass, someone else’s trash, and it’s not always easy to find. (Bright green is pretty common — think Heineken, partly because it shows up well on the sand and a lot of people party on the beach and then throw the bottles in the river). Most collectors put sea glass in a jar by the window, but I wanted to do something more with it. So I tapped into my tumbled-rock-wrapping skills and made it into jewelry. (That was back before AnneMade, so jewelry wasn’t what I thought of every moment of the day. I collected the stuff for several months before doing anything with it). And now I go in spurts where I make a whole bunch of it, and then set it aside for other things. I just posted some pendants and a bracelet on my website (and another one on Etsy) because I figure people might want a souvenir from their beach vacation, something other than a t-shirt from Wings.
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So about that break I was looking forward to… I just spent the last 8 days in Barbados with my friend Cheryl and had a blast! It was a nice mix of relaxing, sightseeing, flipflop hiking, and eating well. Neither of us usually takes the time to read, but we both worked our way through a stack of chick lit. The photo to the left is the view from our room.

My favorite part was collecting sea glass along the western coast of the island. Even at low tide we really had to work for it – pieces of coral and shell look like pale glass in the crystal-clear water, not to mention that we had to be in the water to find it so we were constantly getting tossed and slapped by the waves. Lots of fun, though!

All in all I liked Barbados; it was a lot like Bermuda, but Barbados isn’t as clean or easy to get around (public transportation is crowded, sketchy, and doesn’t go everywhere). I did enjoy local Bajan-made stuff like Earthworks Pottery and Mt. Gay rum, but I’d like to try a different Carribbean island next time and bring Steve along, too!

boat earthworks house Anne pool

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Not much to show you from this past week, but on Thursday I got together with my jewelry pal Cheryl who does silversmithing. I want to get better at bezel-setting sea glass. The photo is the pendant I worked on with her.

Today I cut back the mint that was taking over my baby rhododendron, so I boiled it down with some sugar and water to make simple syrup for iced tea. I’m not a big fan of bourbon, otherwise I would have muddled the mint and made a julep. I may just make one anyway because I have SO MUCH MINT.

Sometimes I wish I had started blogging sooner just to look back and see what I used to do with my time before I had my own business. When we moved to Delaware I stayed home to work on our new old house and chase the puppy around. I found myself poring over decorating magazines and watching HGTV for half the day. Now that the house is pretty much how we want it and I have the jewelry biz, I hardly ever watch TV or read during the day. Laundry gets done when I run out of underwear. I am a piler, so even though it looks messy I know where everything is. I learned this from my mother. One time we cleaned up all the piles in her sewing room and put curtains over the storage shelves to hide the clutter, and almost immediately she said it squelched her creativity (or something) when she couldn’t see everything. My studio is like that so I just close the door.

Steve and I got new cell phones because he needs one for the new job (starts tomorrow) and I am tired of running my battery down because the buttons get pushed in my purse. Turns out new flashy flip fones are free anyway, so I don’t know why I put this off so long. Lord & Taylor is going out of business at our mall, so I spent the afternoon bargain hunting — another thing I used to do and doesn’t interest me anymore. My idea of shopping is to take half a day and go to Ross; by the time I leave the fitting room attendant is tired of seeing me. Then I don’t go back for 6 months. Another thing I used to do is look for deals at the flea market. We don’t have room for any more furniture, so I don’t let myself go anymore unless I’m personal shopping for someone else. One new furniture addition, though, is a card catalog from the local library (they’ve gone digital). I’m going to teach some classes there this summer, so they let me have it for free. I understand these things are hard to find on eBay and shipping is problematic, so that makes this find so much sweeter. I love all the different drawers. Last week I labeled each drawer with a color family and organized my bead strands. As messy as I am, I do enjoy a good clean-up day.

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Signature style

People often ask what my signature design is and I’m usually at a loss. I don’t like to be pigeon-holed into a “label” because I tend to go through phases. I’m I’m not usually gung-ho about any one thing for very long, so for me to still be working within the same genre of creativity is a first for me. One of the things that keeps my job interesting is the variety of materials I have available for designs and all the different techniques. Stringing, wirework, metalsmithing (forming and soldering with a torch), stained glass (cutting, grinding, & soldering with an iron), PMC, lampwork, the list goes on.

That being said, since we moved to Delaware I have used a lot of sea glass in many of my designs. I especially like to use this stuff in the spring and summer because it reminds me of beach vacations. I started out by wrapping it in wire, then learned to bezel-set (which is labor intensive but I’d like to get back to that). Later I figured out how to drill holes in it and now Steve does that for me (sweet man). My favorite colors are Coke bottle green and cobalt blue, but I also like beer bottle green because it’s more common and really stands out against the sand.

One of my favorite designs that I have been doing for a few years is the pavé pendant, a mosaic of beads embroidered across a wire frame. Pavé means “paved” in French and is a traditional stone-setting technique where a surface is covered in small stones.

Another signature of mine is wirework, whether it’s hair-thin wire crocheted into a delicate chain or heavy gauge wire manipulated into swirls and links. I never get tired of learning new things with such a basic medium.

So to answer the question about my signature style, I usually bring up the fact that my designs are each one-of-a-kind on purpose because my style is fluid and always developing.

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Happy Anniversary

I have been making jewelry since I was 6, either giving it away or selling it to my mom’s friends. When we moved to Delaware in 2003 I was really into decorating and sewing and gradually getting into beads again (all my supplies fit into a shoebox at that point). A year later I was having lunch with my pal Debora Haughton and wearing a necklace of brown sea glass wrapped in copper wire to show her what I had been working on. She said, “Cute necklace. You should sell that. I’ll have a party for people to come buy jewelry this summer.” I had sold my jewelry to people who asked, but I had never thought about having a trunk show or selling it to stores (like Debora also encouraged me to do). And that is when/why/how I went pro. I didn’t sit around thinking of how to get rich quick or what jobs I could do from home (the thought of commuting in my socks enamored me). God just dropped that one in my lap and I really feel a peace about what I do. Thank you to all those people who have helped AnneMade Jewelry grow in the past 2 years!