LBD #3

Remember those headpins I made a few days ago?  120 shiny silver pins, with so many possibilities.

Bunches and bunches of headpins...120 to be exact!

Just waiting to be discovered.

A few years ago, I made a series of bracelets that I called “Little Black Dress” – LBD.  I’d only gotten to LBD #2, but I knew I wanted to make more bracelets like those.  I decided these headpins would be perfect for a new LBD design.  The design was a pretty silver chainmaille bracelet, with clusters of sparkling Swarovski crystals.

I was short on black Swaro’s, so I decided this LBD would have a little color infused in it.  I had some gorgeous Siam crystals, which are a dark shade of red, and I thought they would work nicely with a few black, clear, and golden ones.

First, I made the bracelet and lined up the crystals.  The clear ones are teeny – 2mm!

Ready for wrapping...

Ready for wrapping…

Now, I just had to put each crystal on a headpin, and then wrap it.  When I started counting, I thought “Six crystals, nine links…that’s only 56 wraps!  I’ll be done in no time.”  Math has never been my strong suit, so I neglected to add in that I was doing 56 crystals TIMES TWO – both sides of the bracelet!

It took me a couple of days to do it.  Rex came into the studio to help me today, and while he doesn’t have opposable thumbs and therefore is useless when it comes to handling pliers, he would come over and give me an encouraging look from time to time.

An hour or so in the tumbler after I finally finished shined up the silver nicely, and I was pretty happy with the result…a gorgeous sterling silver bracelet LOADED with shiny, sparkling crystals.

Meet LBD #3:

Little Black Dress #3

Little Black Dress #3

What do you think?



Fired up

I love making headpins.

I mean I REALLY love making headpins.  There’s something about firing up that little torch, holding metal to the flame, and seeing it transform that just makes me happy.

Headpins are those little sticks of metal that beads are generally strung on for dangly things.  Like earrings, or bracelets, or necklaces.  You can buy them, but the way I see it, why not just make them since they’re so fun to make?  Here’s how I do it….

First, I cut a whole lot of fine silver (that’s 99.9 % pure silver) sticks.  This is 20 gauge wire, and each one is about 2 1/2″ long.

2 1/2" lengths of fine silver wire

2 1/2″ lengths of fine silver wire

I always cut them in groups of 10 and keep them in their little group until they are fired.  I’m kind of goofy that way, I have to make lots of 10, can’t end on an odd number for some reason.

Next, I fire up my little Butane torch.  I pick up a batch of 10 wires, and one at a time, hold one end in the very tip of the blue flame (that’s where it’s hottest!).  When it starts to glow, I flip it up quickly, or the whole thing will be a melted mess on my soldering brick!

Look at how hot that's getting!!

Look at how hot that’s getting!!

You can’t see my pliers, but the ones I use for headpin making (and anything else that requires potentially ruining my pliers) are an old pair of crummy ones with a long nose so I don’t burn my fingers.  After I flip the wire up, it starts to ball up at the bottom.  Pretty soon (like instantly) I’ve got to get it out of the flame so it doesn’t all melt away.

Nice little silver ball on the tip of the wire!

Nice little silver ball on the tip of the wire!


Still hot, but no longer in danger of falling off!


To finish it off, I drop it in a small bowl of water that I keep right next to the soldering block…technically, it’s called quenching.  Since these are made from fine silver, not sterling, I don’t need to remove any firescale or tarnish, which form when high heat from the flame interacts with the alloys in sterling.

Bunches and bunches of headpins...120 to be exact!

Bunches and bunches of headpins…120 to be exact!

Now they are all ready to be used for wrapping beads.  I’m thinking about making something along the lines of this piece, which was called “Little Black Dress #2”.

Little Black Dress #2

Little Black Dress #2

Can’t wait to get to the studio on Saturday to work on it!



Studio Saturday

I think I’m going to love my weekends.

This morning, I ran a couple of errands, then headed up to the Hot Shops to work for the day.  Quite a few visitors on the third floor, including one lady who purchased a lovely Lapis and sterling silver bracelet.  w00t w00t for sales!

Lapis and Sterling Silver bracelet

Lapis and Sterling Silver bracelet


I’d forgotten that I had a photo of the bracelet, it’s a stunner, Lapis is one of my favorite stones!

The morning and early afternoon was spent arranging, unpacking, and rearranging.  I was up on a ladder messing with track lights at one point…not recommended to do in flip flops.  Next time I have to climb a ladder, I really should wear some tennies!!

My studio mate, Darcy Horn (The Jade Dog) has fabulous displays, including some wall art that really pops her side of the studio.


Something I need to work on…I need more art on my side!!  I did add some lights and a grid by my tables, but I’m not 100% happy with this set up.  I’ll continue to play with it.


What I AM happy with is my work space.  I have a few aluminum Byzantine bracelets to finish up from orders earlier this year.  Here’s a peek at my “cold” work space today.  Tomorrow I’m planning on finishing up a pink bracelet, then moving over to the “hot” bench and making up a bunch of head pins for an idea I have brewing.

My "cold" bench.

My “cold” bench.


We’re working on some fun ideas for our front door and our Open House in October. 🙂  But for now, just glad to have all the moving pretty much done!

Studio 3 (dot) 14 :)

Studio 3 (dot) 14 🙂



Getting settled

Last weekend, I started bringing tubs and boxes into the studio.  With the help of my son and a friend of his, and my handy dandy trailer, it didn’t take long to get all of my studio-worldly possessions hauled up to the third floor.

Piles of stuff...what's in all those tubs?

Piles of stuff…what’s in all those tubs?

You can’t see the rest of it, it’s around the corner.  But there was a LOT of stuff to be hauled, unpacked and arranged.  I think I counted a dozen big Rubbermaid tubs, plus 6 or so big boxes of stuff.  That didn’t include the boxes I’d already unpacked on the shelf already!!

But first, I needed something other than folding table to work on.  My husband had gotten these great work benches for me a few years ago…he got them at an auction for a steal.  They were too big for my space at the house, so they’d been sitting in the garage (and his Man Cave) until I was ready to claim them.


Aren’t they great?!  He’s still going to shore up the light on the one on the right, and hook up the extension cord, but I’m really happy with them.  Dan and Jeremy hauled them up to the studio on Wednesday this week; all it cost me was to buy them dinner at Subway.

So I was itching to get in and start unpacking those tubs and boxes….spent Saturday opening boxes and discovering stuff I’d forgotten about.
(Including a sock with a shoe polish tin in it, a box full of old pictures of the kids, and an assortment of fishing hooks. o-O  )

The WiFi in the studio works great – I’d downloaded the IHeartRadio app earlier in the week so I could listen to some tunes while I worked.  I’ve got a lot of tunes on my iPad, but it was nice to have some variety.

Getting there!

Getting there!

Still some arranging to be done, and I’ll likely change things up a bit after I actually start working.  I’ll have my “hot” silversmithing work on the bench on the right (kiln, bench pin, pickle pot, torch, Foredom) and my “cold” work on the left hand bench (wire work, maille, tumbler, beading).

The desk area is set up…I have an offer for a bigger desk, but I’m not quite sure if it’s going to fit or not.

Still some stuff to unpack here as well, but it's getting there.

Still some stuff to unpack here as well, but it’s getting there.

And my studio mate’s mom made the observation that our studio number aligns with, well….



I think I know what we should serve up at our Open House in October.  😉

Until next time…..

Time for a re-boot!

I’ve been on hold for a while…I’d packed up much of my studio last year and have done a few projects, but my muse has been on vacation for the most part due to a number of factors.

But there’s big news…as announced on Facebook, I’m in the process of opening a studio in the Omaha Hot Shops art center this fall!  I’m so excited to have this opportunity.  I’ll be sharing studio space with a fellow jewelry artist, Darcy Horn of The Jade Dog.  We’re still working on details, but it looks like the move will take place in early/mid September.

Much more to come…look for news of an open house this fall, and I will definitely be participating in The Hot Shops December Open House!


Omaha’s Hot Shops Art Center, located just north of TD Ameritrade ball park

See you in September!

Got a call today that I’ve been lifted from the wait list for the Rockbrook Village Art Show September 10-11 and have been accepted!  I’m very excited, this was a great show for me last year, and I’m looking forward to seeing all of you there!


Tonite was a fun event in Council Bluffs – the Bluffs Arts Council hosted their third Savor the Flavor, featuring fantastic beverages, food, and local artists.  I was thrilled to be placed at one of CB’s newest hot spots – the Sweet Spot!  Most excellent red wine cupcakes and rum balls (mmmmm….one of my favorites) along with I80 Liquors serving up “Root Beer Floats” and “Orange Julius” drinks.  Mix a little Pinnacle Whipped Cream Vodka with root beer or orange juice, and you’ve got yourself one tasty cocktail.


Thanks to everyone who attended the party, it was a great time!!  My next show will be Rockbrook…booth info to be posted as soon as I receive it.

Summer breeze, makes me feel fine…

One of my all-time favorite songs, and I’m thinking about it right now.  There’s a gentle breeze blowing, the sun is shining, and I have a new wind chime hanging in my garden that I made ALL BY MYSELF.


Copper and Jasper Wind Chime

I love wind chimes.  This one’s a prototype – it really doesn’t have a nice tone to it, but I love the light and delicate swingy-ness of it.  I also love that it’s made from all recycled copper, along with some stones that I had sitting around the studio.  It was fun to make, while it looks pretty simple, I had to

  • cut out the discs and clean them
  • drill a hole in the center of the “umbrella” discs and holes at the tops (and bottoms) of the connectors
  • solder wire to the discs
  • make loops on each section of wire
  • connect everything.

It took a couple of days of planning, plotting, and working to get it to a state I was happy with.  I’d get one section done and step aside to think through how I’d do the next.  Quite a different process from what I usually do, especially with maille, which is very repetitive and pattern based!

But I’m happy with my little wind chime.  And I’ll make more.  They’ll all be unique works of art, because I don’t want to do the same thing more than once.  Maybe they’ll be a sales “fail”, but if so, I know a garden that will welcome them.

Busman’s Holiday – Okoboji Iowa’s Art in the Park

I didn’t book many shows for August this year…the grandson should be arriving any day, and I want my weekends open to be able to go down and smush little cheeks!!

So I’m in SERIOUS art show withdrawal.  It’s hard to describe, but when I’m used to setting up my traveling boutique week after week and go for a while without it, I kind of get the shakes.

Well, not really…but I needed an art show fix.  So last Thursday, I sent my friend Cathy a message and asked if she’d like to drive 3+ hours one way to go check out the Okoboji Art in the Park show.  She thought it sounded like a fine idea, so we got up early on Saturday and trekked on up to northern Iowa.

I’d never been to Okoboji before, and the Garmin was not cooperating with finding the exact address that the web site listed for the show.  However, how hard can it be to find an art show?  There should be signs everywhere, right?

WRONG.  And that’s the first strike against the Pearson Lakes Art Center “Art in the Park”.  There were no signs anywhere – fortunately, the park is located just off the main drag of town, and we spotted white tents (they were down a hill and could have been easily missed).   The only signage I saw advertising an art show was on the path going from the parking lot to the beach.  At that point, if you didn’t SEE the rows of canopies, you had bigger problems or concerns than we did.  So…unless you were going to the beach, or planning on going to the art show, you didn’t know it was there.

Onward to the show.  Now, after driving for over three hours, and consuming one diet Mountain Dew and a V8, I needed to find the little girl’s room.  Scanned the show area for porta potties, which are not my first choice, but will do in a pinch.  Scanned the area for public restrooms.  You’d think, if there are 100+ artists, several thousand art patrons, and a beach right across the walk way that there would be ample facilities.

WRONG.  Strike two…the only restrooms I could find were located in a hot dog stand (they were nice, but I felt a little guilty at using them without buying a hot dog and the line was ridiculous) that was up a hill and quite a trek from the art show set up.  Not a good situation for artists OR patrons!

So after finding the show, finding the restrooms, and deciding we wanted some good art show grub, we looked around for a food stand.  There was one…hamburgers and cheeseburgers fresh off the grill.  It was good, inexpensive, but the only choice.  Annoying, but not a deal breaker.  Cathy and I grabbed our burgers, and started walking the show.

The booths were set up in a nice, orderly manner.  It was easy to walk from booth to booth, scan or step inside and look at the offerings.   I saw jewelry (LOTS of jewelry…mostly strung work, but a few glass and one silversmith), 2D, 3D, some cool sculpture and yard art.  I was surprised to see two photographers with the “letter” art (buildings, railings, etc., that look like A B C and are arranged to spell out HOPE or LOVE or whatever you desire).  Lots of pottery, including one of my favorites – Braunschweig Pottery.

Almost forgot strike three…no trash containers!  I walked the entire show with the refuse from my cheeseburger in my hand.  I couldn’t believe that in a nice park, there was not a trash container in sight.  I saw several instances of trash laying on the ground, which is probably due to the fact that there was no where else to put it!

I did buy a few things, but I was one of the few that I saw buying.  My impression was that while there was some nice, quality art available, folks were there to see the art and then hit the beach or lake, not necessarily to buy art.  Lots of lookers (some of the booths were hard to get into because there were people crowded in them!) but I didn’t see or hear about many sales.

So a mixed bag…we enjoyed the trip (and the shakes at Dukes, a local stand), but it’s not a show I think I’ll attend as an artist.  Nothing like a busman’s holiday, however!!

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?