Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Good Old Fashioned Halloween

File:Happy Halloween!.jpg
Photo Courtesy of Cindy
Are you planning to carve up a Jack-O-Lantern this year? It just isn't halloween without the glowing pumpkin, or at least that's the way it used to be... Today the stores are chock full of readymade halloween decorations including plastic, porcelain and yes even felted copies of the original; not to mention the other assorted ghosties and monster characters to keep the trick-or-treat crowd amazed.  But for the traditionalist, nothing will replace the pumpkin carving planning: what kind of face will it be this year: happy or mean and scary? Nothing can out-do the icky squishy feeling of the first fist full of pumpkin pulp and seeds that need to be carefully separated from each other. And finally, who can resist placing the pumpkin outside on the front porch, lighting the candle, replacing the lid and catching the wafting fragrance of toasted pumpkin around the neighborhood.

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Photo Courtesy of Cindy
Save the seeds! Set the oven at 250 and spread the seeds out onto a one inch lipped cookie pan. Cover the seeds in water and sprinkle heavily with cinnamon and sugar. Place the pan in the oven, let the water evaporate and turn the seeds over.  Add more water to the pan covering the seeds again and sprinkle with more cinnamon and sugar. Let the water evaporate once again until the seeds dry out but are not too burnt. Sit back, answer the door, admire the costumes and enjoy.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Fluorite and Silver Bead Bracelet

O.K. so I could not resist. Had to show you what I did with a few of those fluorite beads pictured in my last article. They have been combined with some hollow silver beads I made and are now a part of this lovely bracelet.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Fluorite Beads... Here's the Mineral Info:

Fluorite can be made into beautiful beads and focals for handcrafted jewelry. It is a clear to semi-translucent mineral and can be found in a great variety of colors including: purple, blue, green, yellow, brown, pink, black and red-orange. Sometimes a single specimens will contain more than one color. Fluorite can also be fluorescent meaning that it glows in a different color when exposed to certain types of light. In other cases it is phosphorescent, or glowing with its own light. It is found all over the world including North America and the U.S., (Arizona, Connecticut, and North Carolina) in addition to areas of Canada and Mexico.

 Rob Lavinsky, – CC-BY-SA-3.0
As a mineral it is considered soft having a hardness of 4.  Fluorite was used by the ancient Egyptians for carvings such as scarabs. It has also been used by the Chinese as a carving material for many hundreds of years.  Fluorite has important industrial uses as a flux in producing steel. It also can be found in various applications for pottery, optics and plastic.  The mineral has been used by healers to help cure ulcers and to aid respiratory tract ailments. When used in meditation, it has been said that fluorite helps to energize the body and raise concentration.

What an amazing mineral! Fluorite was even named the official mineral for the state of Illinois. Have you seen it in a jewelry design or do you have some interesting facts to share? Please add your comments.

For more information you can start at this site:

Friday, October 14, 2011

It's Great to Recycle! Make Beautiful Jewelry From Leftover Silver Scrap

Artist Profile - Denise Paradis, Diamond K Studio

Denise Paradis, Artist and owner of Diamond K Studio creates one of kind jewelry pieces from fine silver, copper and glass. She is also an art instructor at Creative U located in Carefree Arizona. Denise has been an artist all her life and recalls early experiences of crafting ornaments with her grandmother and mother. Through the years she has worked with many techniques including painting, etched glass and various embellishments for clothing. In 2006 she began to make jewelry and has never looked back.

Her jewelry piece featured in this article is called “Graffiti” and was made by artfully placing sterling silver scraps from previous jewelry projects and fusing them together with a propane torch.

It’s amazing to think what one can do with leftover materials.  Denise teaches the techniques for working with silver scrap along with other introductory to intermediate jewelry metal working classes at Creative U. 

Denise is for the most part a self-taught artist and spent many years refining her techniques. She doesn’t feel strongly influenced by any particular artist; rather it comes from her own unique interests and a supportive family background.  When asked what are the more difficult aspects of an artistic pursuit she states that defining your own style can take time, particularly if you enjoy working in different mediums such as PMC, traditional metalsmithing and glass.  She draws much inspiration from working with clients in the creative and supportive environment of the studio that defines her workplace.  You can find her work available for sale at her website:  Her jewelry is also on display at the gallery of Creative U and sold at Roxie’s Boutique in Cave Creek, Arizona.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Sneak Peak at Holiday Give-Aways...

Here is a sneak peak at the first 2 pairs of earrings I made for a few give-aways coming up in November and December.  My plan is to make 50-100 pair of holiday earrings and have challenged myself with making no two pair alike. Will do my best to stick to red, green, gold and silver colors. All earring wires will be hypoallergenic either niobium or gold over stainless steel. Wherever am I going to come up with 98 more designs?? Your suggestions are appreciated.  Let me know, Thanks!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Ancient Sinagua Designs

I had an opportunity to visit ancient Sinagua Indian cliff dwellings today at two different sites in north central Arizona.  Our first stop was Montezuma's Castle. It's interesting to note that though Montezuma was never known to travel this far north, the area was given the name by early discoverers. The Sinaguan building ruins are spectacular and built very high into the stone terraces. They can only be seen from a distance. 

The visitor's center displays a number preserved artifacts including stone tools, grass weavings, pottery and textiles.  This decorative arrowhead (?) shape was made with turquoise inlayed over wood, 1100-1400 A.D.
Our next stop was Walnut Canyon, north of Flagstaff.  Here we were able to take a short but steep hike directly to the building ruins. The rock walls of the dwellings are still blackened by smoke from cooking fires. There are a fair number of separate cliff dwellings and you can look out across the small canyon and see more on the other side of the chasm. What an amazing experience!...just like looking out across an ancient high rise apartment complex.