Buy Iowa Online

Why BuyIowaOnline?


Well, because I’ve got work there, naturally!


More items to be listed this week. In the meantime, I’m adding a few things to my Etsy shop today.  If you see something you like, but don’t want to join Etsy, give me  a shout at


C-My Designs on Etsy

No more production!

June and July were show months.  Five shows in as many weeks (three out of town), and I’m ready for a short break.  My next show will be a small local one (hosted by our arts council) in August, and then sometime in the month of August, I’ll become a grandmother for the first time.  🙂  We’re VERY excited for this event, and I can’t wait to see my daughter next weekend!!


While mowing this morning, I decided what I’ve been missing over the last few months (and maybe even the first half of the year) is that creative spark.  I’ve seen glimmers, but got stuck in doing “production” pieces in preparation for all those shows…basic chain bracelets in various metals and basic earring sets.  They’re very popular at shows, but not so much for my artistic development.


So for the remainder of July, I’m declaring myself “production-free”.  Of course, if someone orders a basic item that I need to make up for them, I’ll be all over it.  But in the meantime, I’m going to use the next couple of weeks to create some (I hope!) fabulous one-of-a-kind pieces that will help me grow and push me to another level.


Let’s see what the rest of this hot July brings, shall we?

Summer Colors – Get ’em while they’re HOT!!

It’s going to be hot, hot, hot here this weekend.  Aside from checking out a potential pet therapy location in Council Bluffs, dropping some custom orders in the mail, and visiting a cool movie theatre to see the final Harry Potter movie, I’m thinking lots of studio time is in order.


I’ve avoided using niobium rings for a few years – they are pretty hard on the hands, and I just didn’t like working with them.  A few weeks ago, however, I dug out an old stash and created a couple of pieces using the niobium and copper.

Fiona's Wrap

I loved the way this set turned out, and while the niobium WAS a little harder to work with than the copper, the pretty color was worth it.  So, in a moment of retail therapy weakness, I ordered rings in a dozen colors.  Not many of each, just .5 oz, but enough to see if I’d like working with niobium after all.


Yesterday, I sorted rings and played around with the niobium ones a bit.  After several starts and stops, I decided on a Japanese weave combined with a Byzantine Lace for the effect of flowers with leaves/vines.   I’m pretty pleased with the results, and even hubby commented that he liked it a lot.

Summer Violets


Because the center flower is heavier than the clasp, I added an amethyst and green Swarovski crystal dangle to the end link as a counter-weight.  If you’ve ever ordered one of my bracelets, I usually have some kind of counter-weight or tag on the end…it’s a nice extra touch, and adds a little personality to the piece.


The bracelet and coordinating earrings will be listed in my Etsy shop later today as a set…but if you’re in a hurry and want to just nab this OAK piece before it’s listed feel free to drop me a line. 😉  $95 will put it in the mail or deliver in the Omalot metro.

IWCC Fall Classes

After surviving the Attack of the Killer Insects (ticks, mosquitoes, and wasps, OH MY!), I’m back on the job today.  One of the tasks on my to-do list is to figure out what to teach this fall at Iowa Western Community College – Denise has contacted me and would like some jewelry Continuing Education Classes this fall.

I’m thinking about a basic chain class, and maybe something else more complicated.  I know I have some former students on my Facebook page, so I’ll cross post there.  With the cost of silver these days, I’ll either be using copper or Artistic Wire, and I’d like your input on that as well.

Here are some initial thoughts:

Egyptian Coils Bracelet

Egyptian Coils Bracelet

Copper Washer Bracelet

Interrupted Euro 4:1
























If you are interested in classes, please let me know which of these projects (or something else!) you’d like to see on the roster!

The Glamorous Life of the Vagabond Artist

A couple of times a month, I pack up my vehicle and trailer, and head out to work for the weekend.  Work (yes, doubters, it really is work!) is also known as Art Show, Art Fair, Art Fest, or one of the many other names promoters and organizers come up with for their event.  My tent is really a “temporary boutique”…a shop in a new town every week!
I know it sounds glamorous, traveling to all sorts of wonderful places, meeting all kinds of interesting people, hanging out with other artists all day.  Sometimes things go smoothly and fabulously!  Sometimes, not so much.  Here’s a peek into my glamorous life last weekend.

Day 1: Saturday.  One day show scheduled for Sunday about 180 miles from home.  According to the organizer, we can’t set up until 7 p.m.  on Saturday night.  I am meeting two jewelry artist friends at our hotel at 6 p.m.  I plan to leave the house at 2:30 (mapquest says it’s a 3-hour trip), but of course, I’m a little late getting out.

Saturday 3:00 p.m .   On the road with a full tank of fuel.  Hubby wants me to try out a new truck to pull my trailer.  I’m not thrilled, but it’s got more power than my car.  I make it through Omaha and Lincoln traffic with little trouble, and am on my way west!  I sing my little song – Art Fair, Art Fair, we’re going to the Art Fair! – for luck.

Saturday 4:30 p.m.  Big ugly noise from behind my truck.  I look back and see flying pieces of tire.  Pull over on the side of I-80 and get out.  The tire on the passenger side of my trailer is SHREDDED.  Not flat, not falling apart, it looks like some sort of black alien jellyfish.  It takes me a few minutes of shock and disbelief before I realize the fender on that side of the trailer is MIA too.  Call my friends Jan and Lynn, they are just a few miles behind me and will be right along.  I begin jacking up the trailer.  Did I mention the temp is hovering just over 90?

Saturday 6:30 p.m.  I won’t bore you with the details…but three women, with the right tools, CAN change a tire on the shoulder of the interstate whilst semis, cars, trucks, and buses whiz by at 75+ MPH.  It’s not fun, but it can be done.

Safe & sound at home.

Trailer damage

Saturday 6:40 p.m.  I pick two ticks out of my hair.  This is in addition to the four Jan picked off my jeans while we were changing tires.  I am not amused, I find ticks to be the most vile creatures on earth.  Yes, birds eat them, but birds can eat other things.  TICKS SERVE NO PURPOSE.  I am hot, sweaty, and feel like there are ticks crawling all over me.

Saturday 7:00 p.m.  Wal-Mart in York, NE has the most awesome tire & lube department ever.  I am out with a brand new spare tire, all the tires aired up, and $80 poorer in a matter of minutes.   I sing “On the Road Again”, things are going well!

Saturday 8:30 p.m.  Arrive at the destination, we decide yes, we will go to the park, set up tents quickly, grab a bite to eat and go to bed semi-early.  How hard is it to set up three tents, after all?  We are pros!!

Saturday 8:45 p.m.  Arrive at the park where the art show will be.  Find our spaces, split up to unload vehicles.   “Art Fair, Art Fair, we’re going to the Art Fair!”  Jan and Lynn are in great spots, and I’m in what will be a nice shady place under a tree.  Only problem is, the tree encroaches my space.   A huge branch, about 8′ off the ground, will be smack dab where the top of my tent should be.  This isn’t going to work.

Saturday 10:03 p.m.  After calling many numbers (one disconnected, one nice guy named Doyle who didn’t know anything but was sure willing to help) and getting no answers, I get permission from Doyle to put my tent in a location near the center of the park and by a sidewalk.  Hot, sweaty (it’s still nearly 90 and probably 90% humidity), tired, hungry to the point of shakes, and mosquito-bite ridden, I head back toward the hotel in search of food.

Saturday 10:13 p.m.  Arrive at hotel in crew cab truck with trailer.  See Taco Bell next to hotel, decide to park truck/trailer and walk over.  The door to Taco Bell is locked (they close at 10?!) but the drive thru window is open.  There is a pretty long line of cars, but I really don’t want to get back in my truck and try to find something else.  Besides, I am beyond soaking wet with sweat, hungry to the point that if I don’t eat soon I will be sick, and dead tired.  Working outside in the heat and humidity is really taking it’s toll.

Saturday 10:18 p.m.  Taco Bell voice on the drive-thru speaker informs me “WE DON’T TAKE WALK UPS”.  I politely say that my large truck and trailer are parked at the hotel and I just want some food.  I place my order and wait.  No response.  I ask after a few minutes if they got my order and am told once again “WE DON’T TAKE WALKUPS”.

Now, I know I do not look or smell all that attractive right now, but I have a purse (with money) and really need food badly.  After the day I’ve had, I crack and start to choke up, walking away from Taco Bell with tears in my eyes and cursing at the 17-year-old that has the unfortunate timing of opening the back door to take out trash as the sweaty, exhausted, and hungry crazy lady takes the Walk of Shame.  (I’m not proud of yelling at her, but I was pretty upset at this point…just take my money and give me a taco, FCOL!!)

Saturday 11:00 p.m.  Food from Wendy’s (also next to the hotel, I was so tired I didn’t even see it).  Drank 1/2 of a large iced tea in a matter of seconds (I felt like that Gatorade commercial where the athlete replenishes their body fluids).  In bed, attempting to sleep.  Sometime later, Jan calls the front desk to ask if they can request that the party next door (screaming, laughing, pounding on walls) will quiet down so we can sleep.

Sunday 6:30 a.m.  Up, showered (again), dressed in decent clothes for the day’s festivities.  I’m still singing the Art Fair song, it’s a new day.   I arrive at the location and begin taking down the sides of my tent in anticipation of 90+ degree temps with high humidity again.

Sunday 6:40 a.m.  A man comes up to me and tells me I’m in the wrong place and need to move my tent to the proper place.  I try to tell him about the tree branch and my discussions with Doyle, but he doesn’t care.  He goes to get Dan, the organizer.  Dan arrives, and nicely but firmly tells me I can’t have my tent in that spot – it will interfere with his traffic flow.  This is BS, it won’t, and later in the day, I see he puts the artist check in and info table in this exact spot.  :sigh:  He offers up another spot, which is fine, but means I have to move my tent for the third time, along with all my stuff.

Sunday 9:00 a.m.  Show time!  I’m set up, sweaty (again) but hydrated and have eaten.  The kid next to me has “interesting” paintings; he and his friends say “dude” a lot, play music and burn incense all day.  They are nice neighbors.  It’s hot, and as the day progresses, there is no amount of shade, handheld fans or ice-water cooled towels that will beat the heat.  I like hot weather, but 98 plus high humidity is just sort of stupid.

I keep smiling and laughing, joking about the heat and telling customers to think about us poor artists when they return to their air-conditioned homes.  We all drink lots of water, try to stay semi-cool and at 5:00 are glad to tear down and pack up.  The crowds were pretty good, especially in the morning.  Dan (the organizer) stops by a couple of times to be sure my (third) location is suitable.  During the course of the day, I met a lot of interesting people and made contacts in an area that I haven’t been to before.  It takes me an hour to tear down (jewelry and displays packed, table coverings folded, tables folded, four 60 lb weights removed from the tent corners, tent folded) and re-pack everything in the trailer.

Sunday 6:04 p.m.  Ready to roll.  I call my husband and let him know I’m on my way.   I brace him for the trailer damage and ask him to put a bottle of wine in the fridge, stop at Burger King for a gourmet dinner (to be eaten on the road) and take off.  By 9:30 p.m., I’m home without further drama (thank goodness!), showered, changed, and sipping a small glass of Moscato.

Art Fair, Art Fair, we’re going to the Art Fair!  Anyone want to join me on my next trip? 😉

Words to live by!

Looking In

Two years ago, my daughter Bree married her sweetheart Nick.  The reception was at a barn.  Yes, that’s right…a beautifully renovated and restored barn.  One of my favorite photos from the event was taken through the window pane…while I don’t see the wedding party (other than one of the flower girls on the left in the white dress), I love this picture.


This week, I finally put my mad skillz to the test and created a piece that captures just a wee bit of what I see when I look at this picture.  Since I prefer to work in smaller scale, I didn’t put in a lot of detail…just a glimpse of a bouquet of flowers.

Looking In


I know it doesn’t look very miniature in this photo, but trust me…it’s less than an inch high!  Copper and sterling silver, I drew and etched the flowers, cut out the frame and soldered the “cross pieces” in place, textured the frame to make it look a little more rustic, and riveted the two pieces of metal together.  The back has a tube bail to insert a simple chain into.  After a good polishing, the copper back was sealed.


I’m quite pleased with the concept, and think Looking In will be the first in a series.   I have a couple of other ideas bouncing around in my mind already.

Diving in.

There’s an idea for a pendant that’s been running around in my head for a long time that I FINALLY acted on today.  Couple of changes to my original idea, but essentially it’s going to be pretty much what I envisioned.


Copper, silver, etching, rivets, sawing, filing, soldering, texturing….have I left anything out?  😀


I’m planning to do a series…this first piece will be called “Looking In”.  I’ll leave it at that for now!

Some day, we’ll find it…

…the rainbow connection…

the lovers,

the dreamers,

and me!

~Kermit The Frog

I couldn’t help but hum this song (actually written by Paul Williams and Kenneth Ascher) as I worked on a series of rainbow Byzantine weave bracelets today.  The bracelets (and coordinating earrings) are staples for my art show booth…I can’t keep them in stock!

Enjoy a little Roy G. Biv (redorangeyellowgreenblueindigoviolet) with me, won’t you?  And don’t forget to hum along.

Calendar’s Up!

Originally (okay, YESTERDAY), I’d planned to just use this blog to post witty extensions of my Facebook musings.  However, after playing around a bit, I am seriously considering replacing my current (unfriendly to update) website with this one.  Wordpress seems pretty intuitive, and I’m finding it fairly easy to add stuff without tearing my hair out.


Like a Calendar that lists all my shows and events.


If there’s anything on the other site that you find incredibly compelling, let me know.  I’ll likely move the images to a Flickr gallery or some other such online place.


A few years ago, I had a request from a long-time customer to make a bunch of stone pendants for her employees.  She wanted various types of stones, but all similar styles…AND the finished necklaces had to be uni-sex.

I had a boatload of polished agates from Dad, and some of them were perfect for wire wrapping.  The problem was, the customer wanted them to be fairly low-priced – no sterling silver!

Wire wrapping stones or cabs can be tricky.  One of the easiest ways to do it is with square wire.  Do you think I could find square non-sterling wire at that time?  NO!  So I made my own.

Using a drawplate, I pulled yards of round copper wire down until it was square and ready to use in wrapping.  I’ll never forget running into my house one summer evening squealing about my wire to my husband and son, who likely thought I’d lost my mind.  I’d made round wire square for crying out loud…didn’t they see the magic????

Problem was, it was also full-hard from drawing, so I had to anneal it.   :sigh:  For those who aren’t metal-workers, annealing wire (to make it easy to work with again) isnt’ all that hard, but it’s yet another step.  And then it’s all dirty and oxidized and has to be cleaned.  :double sigh:

Zip forward to last week.  I had to place a few orders, including wire…and one of my suppliers had…take a deep breath….SQUARE COPPER WIRE.

I did my usual “hit the payment button and begin stomping feet impatiently waiting for the UPS delivery” dance.  Today, my SQUARE COPPER WIRE arrived, and I began playing with it immediately.

It works GREAT.  I paired it with some half-round sterling to wrap around a couple of cabachons (which need an LOS bath and some quality time in the tumbler, quit nagging me already)…and I’m drooling to make some rings and work some chainmaille magic yet this week.

Square.  It’s the new round.