Monday, April 13, 2015

Spring's Freshness Meets Jewelry

Picture Courtesy of Astrum Studios

This month, I am playing with spring themes in my gemstone jewelry. The new theme has inspired more wire crochet gem pendants, an increase in detailed designs, and incorporating more translucent gemstones like flourite or blue chalcedony (pictured above). It also has led to a playful style between mixed metals.

On the philosophical artistic note, the concept of freshness and renewal has always been important to me. It represents hope and looking forward when darkness surrounds. It shows itself through simpler moments, like a flower blooming or an open laugh. Lastly, it creates a crisp feeling that almost always leads to a smile.

Going back to the gemstone art, even quartz and some glass beads can create a delicate, almost elven, handmade piece that reminds us of Spring. Simple detail and line represents a beginning, the same beginning that a bud slowly emerging from the ground illustrates. In short, simplicity leading to detail is what spring is, and spring is freshness

(Thank you for reading this post. Please click here to see more intricate gemstone designs with lighter themes. My Etsy store also holds different designs, which can be seen here ).

Friday, March 13, 2015

It is All a Matter of Perspective

Often with this blog, I try to write work that directly connects to my art. This time I will write about what connects to my person- philosophical ramblings and daily miracles.

Lets start this post with a scenario: You wake-up at 7:30 AM after 5 hours of sleep. Your night's slumber included coughing, tossing, turning, and having a cat do a "siren meow." (If you have never heard one, count yourself lucky. It involves a wailing that can be heard down the apartment hallway.) You try to fall back asleep for the next hour and a half without success. Your day sounds pretty rough so far, yes?

The answer is no. Here are the parts that are missing from the scenario above. Your husband, or partner, makes sure to kiss you before he/she leaves. Seeing you are awake, they bring you a glass of water before walking out the door. While not falling back asleep, you figure out answers to two situations that have been difficult the last couple of days. Upon raising from your comfy bed, you decide to treat yourself to a coffee only to see numerous small kindnesses during the trip (including a very cute flirtation from one man to a kind barista who knows how to be polite when not interested). You enjoy the walk home in the fresh, spring morning and come home to that same cat, now a bit incensed that you bought yourself an egg sandwich and will not share, which gives you a bit of quid-pro-quo satisfaction.

All that changed during your day was noticing the small things. One morning, that can easily be seen as an extremely rough start, can become very enjoyable from noticing such small events as birds chirping in the fresh sunlight. It is really up to you, or in this case me, to create the day you wish for. Noticing small beauties alters gloomy to cheery.

And thus, it is all a matter of perspective.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Metal and Crochet- An Interesting Mixture

For over a year, my godmother has been asking me to start a Ravelry, an amazing knitting and crocheting community forum, information database, shop resource, and more. I had always avoided it feeling that my wire crochet was not a true fiberworks art. (Fiberworks are crocheting and knitting with yearn.) Well, as time would have it, I bit the bullet today and decided to sign-up--- and started getting ideas! Why not try to use metal to create a standalone art piece using a typically yarn-based crochet pattern?

My semi-epiphany may seem logical, but once you have tried crocheting with metal, you will see why I had avoided it. Metal, unlike yarn, does not supply a "give" making it easier to work with and shape. While one can undo a yarn based stitch, one cannot undo a metal based stitch without likely breaking the metal. This situation leads to the need for extreme exactness and being able to find creative measures to hide "mistakes." It also causes wire crochet artists to typically start with making cuff bracelets or braided necklaces, as can be seen below.

Both these pieces use relatively simple stitches, yet look beautiful when done. (Granted, I put teeny, weeny seed beads on them, making the stringing take over an hour, but it is worth it.) However, when trying to applying crochet techniques to more difficult ideas, it took over a year to develop my skills. The next two pieces show my relatively current skills; the ones that I feel can now move to the next level.

And what is the next level? Either this pattern from Pie in the Sky Crochet, or a variant of it. Now, upon reading this pattern, my head has gone "BOOM," but with patience and time, it could be an excellent necklace or bracelet. I just have to use different size hooks and get the hang of working the next level in wire. 

So, in short, wish me luck! I will try to do a semi-documentation of making this piece in pure copper core wire...

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Gemstones, Teaching, and Sharing Knowledge

This last weekend, I taught my first official workshop about the Healing Properties of Gems hosted by the wonderful Nicole of Balanced Body Mind Spirit, an alternative holistic healing practice specializing in personal coaching, reiki, and mediation practices. (Here is Balanced Body Mind Spirit's website in case you live in the Toronto/ Newmarket area in Ontario.)  Officially called "Combining Crystals to Relieve Physical, Emotional, Mental, & Energetic Maladies," this course offered basic crystal knowledge, connecting crystals to their appropriate chakras, and learning how to use one's own intuition to develop their own healing abilities. In short, I had to structure my knowledge learnt over decades into a nice, understandable package; an exercise that incorporated patience, forethought, and the teaching skills ten years of classroom teaching had imbued me with.

Teaching has been a love/ hate relationship for the last few years. Before becoming an artist, I was a math and science teacher who specialized with at-risk youth ad gifted & talented classrooms. I adored helping students learn but had severe trouble internally coping with how the public bureaucratic system limited teachers. This limitation ultimately hurt the students' learning and development within and outside the classroom. Extremely aggravated and exasperated, I quit classroom teaching upon moving to Canada. Instead, I focused on evolving my artistic skills and the general business.

This last Saturday, I had the honor to teach a subject that I discovered innately flowed from within. Since I was a small child, gemstones have fascinated and attracted me. My curiosity about these sparkly beauties slowed coalesced into learning a substantial amount of information about the gemstones' energies, histories, and chemical structures. To share this information felt natural and needed no extra thinking. The workshop became a person reminder that I had become a teacher for a reason- that it is an instinctive act for me from a relatively young age.

Needless to say, the workshop flowed smoothly. The participants and myself both learnt, discussed, and expanded our collective knowledge about gemstones and healing. (If you ever meet a teacher, or a guru, who states to possess complete knowledge on any topic, you will be looking into the eyes of a fraud or an idiot; excuse my language.) After the workshop, I had students saying thank you. During the workshop, I was saying thank you. The workshop was filled with learning, laughter, and most importantly, light.

Monday, November 3, 2014

A Creative Custom

Multi-Method Jet Pendant 

Back in July, a wonderful future client met me at a Canada Day show. She was visiting friends in the city from northern Ontario. This amazing woman visited my booth three times. She kept returning to look at my designs and considering a piece I had completed. During her visits, I learnt that she had some very special stones that she wished to be wrapped. I told her that I would love to complete this project for her. Each time she mentioned these stones, I could see how important they were to her, and the significant amount of trust she gave letting me wrap them.

She sent the stones a few weeks later after a phone conversation and email. I immediately saw what I would do for one piece. It was a blue lace agate, believed to have calming properties, and it needed to be made into a pendant that could withstand a four year old boy's playful nature. Immediately, the answer was simple- a wire crochet net pendant placed on a leather cord. The technique would hold the stone extremely secure, and the leather cord would give the needed strength in case the pendant become caught on an object while this woman's son was playing.

Blue Lace Agate Net Pendant without Leather Cord
As for the second pendant, I was at a conundrum. She has sent four dime-sized pieces of jet. I had never worked with stones so small before. A single pendant would look dinky and not artistically developed. The amazing woman, who lets call Lenis, Latin for kindness, told me to take my time. She said she was not in a rush and trusted my artistic abilities. This was the first time that a client had told me to do what I wish with their gemstones as well as take as much time as I needed. I said I think I should be able to devote the time I need to make the piece in October. It was still July.

Through the following months, I did complete her son's piece. I played with what I could do with her jet pieces off and on in-between shows and other custom orders. I just couldn't envision what I was meant to do. Finally, once my last show ended, it came to me. I was going to work with a special number to the client, three, and combine my methods. Once I saw it, I began working on her future creation.

The pendant took over three hours. I had to redo certain parts three times. I had to undo what I did because it did not lay right. After the initial two hours, I had completed a wire crochet net base and a wire wrapped addition. The last bit to do was attach the final piece of jet via epoxy.

For anyone who knows how I work, I have always had a distaste for epoxy. It arose from when I was a child having tried to use it unsuccessfully. As my father about never let me work in areas that involved strong glues or tools, I was scared after my initial failure. It was time for me to conquer this fear.

Multi-Method Jet Pendant from Below
I tentatively pushed the glue's two components together, making sure to mix them thoroughly. Next, I used a q-tip to smear the glue on both the last piece of jet and onto the location I planned to adhere the gemstone to. After having failed twice putting enough glue on the piece, I finally had enough to guarantee a strong hold. The next 45 minutes involved me weighting the final gemstone down and repeatedly checking the piece. At the end of the hour, I walked away telling myself I needed to increase my own patience.
The next day, I was ecstatic. I had did it! I had not only created my first mixed method jewelry piece with wire wrapping and wire crochet, I had included the dreaded epoxy in this creation.  Within a few hours, I had emailed Lenis as well as posted my creation on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to share with the world. Lenis responded as soon as she could saying she loved it.

Throughout this entire creation process, Lenis not once rushed me. She did not wish for a quote, and when I did give one, she said whatever I see she is sure will be beautiful. She essentially gave me a blank check and an infinite timeline to create something special. And due to her patience, kindness, and trust, I did.

Thank you, Lenis.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Playing with Retro

As this blog will be jumping between time periods, it will also be jumping between piece styles. Today's piece arose from a desire to make a vintage-esque pendant for a new store that recently began carrying my work. Located in the semi-retro area of Toronto, The Trap Door Boutique exclusively carries only 20 designers. The owner, Gabrielle, has collected a unique blend of wearable art that ranges from classic dark elegance to retro-loving fun to the rave days of yesteryear. My wire crochet line is also included in this elite team, including collars, earrings, and pendants that have never shown anywhere.

In any case, on with the story!

This little dude is loving called, "a mesh with a hairdue." He started with an idea: to make a fashionable vintage styled piece using the my love of wire crochet. To this point, my art has solely focused around the themes, colors, and shapes found in our green environment. I wanted to expand outside my comfort zone. I wanted to try something that exceptionally contrasted with my own innate passions. Thus, the little vintage fashion ball was conceptualized.

Modern fashion-lovers and hipsters have never been my clientele. I spend my downtime at art shows watching  fellow artists attract these people through their own specialization. Slowly but surely, my viewing deepened my comprehension of the styles that exult man-made creativity.I saw how a little mesh sphere could be seen as a necessary fashion accessory due to its shape and multipurpose use; how old-fashioned ideals led to romanticism represented by a worn necktie. The combination of these ideas led to my eureka moment- why not use wire crochet, a modernized historical skill, on top of those multifunctional fashion spheres to create my own versatile piece? A "mesh with a hairdue" was born.

Creating this piece was another matter. Luckily, most jewelry stores stock these popular little mesh balls that many jewelry artists use. All I had to do was figure out how to make an asymmetrical wire crochet cap, or hair due. Basing this structure of my wire crochet bird's nests, I toyed with the black top's tension and shape until it fit perfectly. What I did not expect was the difficulty attaching the wire crochet top to the mesh ball. Over 1.5 hours and 30 attempts later, I had successfully woven the the piece together. However, my unforeseen Herculean task did win in one aspect: I have to leave one thin black piece of wire showing along the side leaving tears swelling in my inner perfectionist eyes.

In the end, inner mesh, wire crochet hairdue ball boy was created. I had triumphantly left my creative comfort area to form a retro-based fashion piece that could appeal to a contrasting clientele. This piece is currently searching for its ideal audience at Trap Door Boutique where it eagerly awaits its permanent home.

(As always, I can always create a sibling via custom orders. Feel free to adopt one at its Etsy listing.)

Thursday, May 1, 2014


Recently, I was told to write a book concerning my pieces. As I have tried to write a blog repeatedly on this subject, I found the heartfelt recommendation ironically funny. Tonight, at a sleepless 4:15 AM in the morning, I will commence my third, or perhaps fourth attempt at maintaining a blog. However, the focus shall shift from creating stories inspired by my textured work to explaining the inspiration behind to my work.

It is only fitting that the semi-commencing entry to be written about a semi-commencing piece: Ocean Turquoise

This piece arose from my love of turquoise color and my avoidance of the color orange. In early 2013, I decided to combine my opposing color passions in an effort to expand my own ability and artistic flair. (This same choice has occurred numerously since then.) As an artist, I was quite aware that these colors were complimentary and, as such, were extremely visually compatible. However my animosity towards orange remained constant.

Thus began the search towards designing a piece that aligned with my work's underlying theme, to be connected to nature, and integrating orange. Luckily, my mother gave me a little bag of coral the year previously. Its orange color immediately foretold what the theme would be- the ocean. A gorgeous underwater bed with coral and pearl. Yet, my search has not ended completion. I wanted to add a complexity to this piece as it was one of my first ever created. I continued to hunt through my gemstones to discover orange calcite and sand-colored jasper. Hazaa! The secondary theme quickly evolved into the desert, from where my love of turquoise blossomed four years prior in New Mexico. 

Excitedly, I began working, endeavoring to create a piece that represented this wonderful duality. The piece slowly formed, combining two elements that more people have yet to notice, or if so, have not verbally indicated to me. 

The next stage became how to clasp this beauty? People struggle closing toggle clasps when the bracelet is wide and form-fitting. A lobster clasp, no matter the size, would look dinky, or worse, cheap. Thus, I opted for functionality. When I first learned how to make wire crochet bracelets, my instructor had a sumptuous display of dazzling Czech glass buttons that we used for clasps. Following her wisdom behind the button method, I chose to look for vintage buttons that would indirectly respect the historical textile weave. I scoured various shops to discoverer the perfect vintage button that would compliment my themes. A non-intrusive, demure  sand shaded button circa twenty to forty years ago caught my eye. It perfectly connected the two themes as sand is found in both locals, granted one unseen. This button completed my first ever nature-based wire crochet gemstone bracelet, and as such, helped to create an addiction while making any wire crochet work. 

I hope you have enjoyed this story as it is the first in hopefully many to come.