Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Are We Better Off?

Fashions in the 1920s and 30s are some of my all time favorites. Close seconds are 1940s and 50s. I think I was born in the wrong time period.

This article, posted on Etsy, gives a brief history of women's fashions and the pricing changes over the last hundred years or so. I found it fascinating.

I adore the green and blue dress on the right hand side of this picture. Womens' fashions were spectacular prior to the 1960s and 70s and have gone downhill ever since.  

Especially the fact that the average woman in 1930 had nine outfits and today the average woman buys 60 pieces a YEAR. I can totally relate to that. Although I doubt I bought that many pieces last year, this year I could be in the running.

And as the article says, I shop for "...value with an impulse-buy standard of quality..." when buying clothes. It's why I opened a Kohl's charge card - great discounts and sales.

On the other hand I can absolutely appreciate the value of a high quality, high price, staple piece. I just can't always afford a $200 pair of pants. So I go with a $15 pair I find on the clearance rack and use my coupons. I am pretty good at making those clearance pants last a while though. I have a pair that have been with me now for over 5 years. They're looking a little worn, but they're still in my closet.

I think the same observation she's made about clothing can also be said about jewelry. Instead of a few more expensive, classic, staple pieces of jewelry women are encouraged to buy a different piece for every outfit. To do that, the pieces have to be cheap. Even "costume" jewelry from the "old" days was made really well. My great-grandma had some pieces that were handed down to me that aren't expensive or made with any sort of "real" stone, pearl, or metal, but they were made well and have lasted all this time.

My target market for jewelry is probably not going to be the people shopping the sale rack at Walmart or Target, or even Macy's where you can get a cheap pearl necklace for $20 on sale.

Maybe I'll have to think a little harder before hitting the Kohls 80% off racks. If a shirt is $3, do I really need it and is it even going to last me through the year? 

While I'm not a freak about mass produced stuff (I do buy it after all), I do think it is important to support local and artisan created items - even clothing - whenever possible.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sticker Shock

While I knew on some level the price of silver and gold had been rising over the last two years I was not quite ready for how truly high the price had gotten.

I've designed several new pieces in the past few days and I'm super excited about them. Unfortunately, after pricing them out I'm a lot less sure that they are "good enough" for the price they have to be due to current silver prices.

Of course, I'm pricing based on the current cost of other words, what it would cost me today to replace the materials I used in each piece. Even though I did not pay $40+ an ounce for silver two years ago I realize I have to be able to replace my supplies. It's a painful process.

The same piece I may have priced at $50 two years ago may need to be up toward the $75 or $80 mark now, if not higher.

I can understand why there are so many people no longer using silver as a foundation of their jewelry. They can't afford to buy the metal and people can't afford to pay a fair price for their work. If I put $40 worth of silver into one piece I have to charge at least $120 ... and realistically $150 or more to account for wholesale pricing. That $40 in silver does not include my time and I've decided I deserve to get paid more than minimum wage at this point. And it does not include any other extra things like accent beads. And yes, I have used a full ounce of silver in a couple of pieces. It's not hard to do when using thicker gauges and PMC.

My hope is that I'll be able to combine a combination of hand forged metals, PMC, and beads to have affordable price points for everyone. I have a feeling though with my own expensive taste in materials that my jewelry may reach a price that even my mom will find too steep.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day

Sunday's church service focused on honoring those who served and paid the ultimate sacrifice. This isn't just a three day weekend. This is when the country should remember that our freedom was bought with the blood of our fighting men and women.

Thank you to all who have served.

Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard

And all those families affected by those who serve.

God Bless.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Finally - New Jewelry

I made new jewelry this week. Three pieces actually.

Of course, I haven't had time to photograph any of it yet, but that's okay because two pieces are gifts. One has already been gifted so no pictures there. The other will be gifted soon. And the last one will probably be photographed eventually.

It feels SO wonderful to get back into gear making jewelry. My mind is spinning with new ideas and designs that I want to try. It really has been almost two years since I stopped...whether I was not inspired because of being too tired from taking care of Marshal, a new job, hubby, the house...or ...  yeah, that's probably what it was.

For some reason, I feel like I'm getting a better handle on things. Not sure why that would be because my life is absolutely as crazy as ever, but I don't feel as overwhelmed.

Maybe it's the working out...or the prioritizing of my work load.

All I know is I am excited to finish getting the garage organized so I'll have my clean creative space in the kitchen and a work bench in the garage to play and take photographs.

Everyone have a super fabulous Memorial day weekend. Stay safe!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Cord Blood Registry (CBR) Participates in New Study

I'm sure somewhere on this blog, way back when, I wrote about having Marshal's cord blood stored when he was born. Since my family history with cancer and just knowing all the horrible things that can happen I wanted to be on the safe side.

We picked Cord Blood Registry as the company to guard our son's stems cells. They keep up regular communication with us and recently sent an e-mail out about a new study they are participating in.
"...the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston...launched an FDA-regulated trial looking at cord blood stem cells in the treatment of pediatric traumatic brain injury (TBI). ...

Ten children, ages 18 months to 17 years, who have access to their own cord blood stem cells at CBR and who have suffered a recent TBI (within the last 6-18 months) will be enrolled in the study."
This is very exciting. It amazes me how technology and medicine advances and makes me feel a little less worried about the future. Marshal has access to his stem cells now and into his adult years in case he needs them.

If you know someone who is having a baby, I highly recommend looking into cord blood storage.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Lot of Stuff

Our kitchen remodel is very nearly done. The granite was installed last Friday so now I am beginning the process of putting things back in the kitchen...including my jewelry making supplies.

Hubby isn't thrilled, but I cannot create in the garage. Sorry. Just ain't gonna happen.

I have my own little desk tucked away in the kitchen and my goal is to keep everything put away and organized. We have plenty of drawers and cabinets now so I should have no real excuses...except I have a LOT of stuff.

Starting Saturday I began going through things...first wire and chain. I have a lot of wire. Thankfully I bought it all way back when silver was under $20 an ounce. I shudder to think about buying silver or gold now. I'll have to sell a lot more jewelry to even be able to afford new stuff.

I may be able to send in a shipment to Midwest Refineries* though...that may pay for a couple ounces of new silver. My scrap pile has gotten pretty large. Mostly because all those little tiny scraps that have been lying around for years were swept up into one pile together when we moved everything into the garage. Now that I can go through things I can let go of the little pieces that I know I'll never actually use for anything.

Oh, and screw up pieces. *sigh* I hate giving those up, but there's really no way to save any of them. Might as well get some cash for them.'s going to be a multi-day, possibly multi-week, process to go through all of my supplies. It's good to get a feel for what I have, but I really want to be able to start creating again. One step at a time I suppose.

* I've used Midwest Refineries several times...long before all these crazy "buy your gold" companies popped up. They have been fair and honest in every encounter I've had. If you want to sell some gold or silver I highly recommend them. And I was not reimbursed for this opinion. :)

Monday, May 23, 2011


My boss recently brought to my attention his perception of some of my jewelry. We do not generally share similar tastes but I was truly surprised by his comments.

The biggest surprise to me was his comment that some of the chain I used looked "cheap". I always thought the thin chain I used looked delicate and pretty.

He is a big guy and did buy his wife one of the larger linked Tiffany's necklaces. But still, I was genuinely surprised that he thought the chain looked cheap.

Can't things that are dainty and small be high in value? Do things have to be large to be viewed as "expensive" looking? The chain I used for the pendant above is not inexpensive and it's deceptively strong.

Now I'm looking at my selection in materials slightly differently...perhaps what I perceived as delicate others see as cheap.


Friday, May 20, 2011

Capturing Laughter

Marshal has the cutest, most infectious laugh I've ever heard. Of course, I could be completely biased...seeing as he is my son.

Kids and dogs make for great entertainment, and mine did not disappoint. Timber has always loved water. When we'd put out a sprinkler we'd have to keep him inside or he'd "play" with it so much he'd destroy it. He loves to try to 'eat' the water coming directly from the hose. It's hilarious.

But add Marshal into the mix - now it's even better. Daddy was washing the truck so he had the hose out front with Timber tied up (he'd run away...being tied out is a must if Timber goes in the front yard) and for some reason Marshal and daddy ended up spraying the water for Timber. It was hard to video and not crack up laughing.

Is there anything more precious than a child's laugh? I wish I could bottle it for times when I'm feeling sad. It's impossible not to smile while listening to a truly carefree laugh.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Getting in Shape

I joined the gym. Again.

When I was pregnant with Marshal I went there for the Water Aerobics class but now that I can move outside of water I decided it was time to lose some weight and get in shape. I was getting winded doing the simplest things. The first two weeks were the hardest but I'm really getting back into cardio. 

I've taken Zumba classes too...those are intense workouts. And my trainer is my own little slice of hell. I've decided to start calling those sessions my 30 minutes of hell. But in a good way.

My goal is to be able to keep up with Marshal without needing oxygen. And it's actually nice to be able to go to the gym, put my ear phones in, and read while doing cardio. It's "me" time. 

Maybe this whole kitchen remodel thing has inspired me to redo more than just our house. 

Marshal and me after my exhausting workout this afternoon. He's chillin'. I can barely hold the book up.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What's My Style?

In going through my jewelry photos from the last few years, it's clear to me that I have no style. And by "no style" I just mean that there's no one defining theme among the different pieces I've designed over the years. There are so many types of pieces I like to create that I've never settled on one ... well, style.

Some people focus on creating with lampwork beads. Which I use.

Others focus only on Swarovski crystals. Which I also use.

Some love pearls...which I definitely do.

Others only work in metal. Again...I love to work with metals.

So where is my niche?

I think the next few months will be seeing if I actually have one. :) Maybe it's the Bipolar Disorder talking, but I really think that being eclectic is something I need to embrace. If I work with Lucite one day and freshwater pearls the next, maybe that's okay. And who says Lucite and Freshwater pearls can't go together?

One thing I know...making jewelry is obviously in my blood. Because if it were just a passing phase (like my card making and scrap booking) I wouldn't be so drawn to it after such a long time away.