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· The Weekend Blogger: Happy 4th of July!
· The Weekend Blogger: Bit of hauling
· The Weekend Blogger: Mixed bag
· The Weekend Blogger: A bit of randomness
· The Weekend Blogger: This, that and the other
· Fashion Notes: Trekking through Etsy
· Fashion Notes: A Mom pendant
· Fashion Notes: Labradorite necklace
· Just Notes: What I've been into, lately
· Fashion Notes: Earring synergy
· Fashion Notes: Something I've been fiddling around with
· Fashion Notes: Development of a jewelry stash
· Fashion Notes: Happy Valentine's Day!
· Just Notes: This that and the other
· Fashion Notes: Green amethyst and emerald earrings
· Fashion Notes: Labradorite necklace
· Beauty Notes: What I've been into, lately #2
· Fashion Notes: Sterling and sapphire earrings
· Ava Luxe: new blog
· Fashion Notes: If I didn't make jewelry, I would buy it here.
· Beauty & Fashion Notes: Ruminations on aging, and finding that perfect pair of pearl earrings
· Beauty Notes: Serenity
· Shiana silver, part 2
· Beauty & Fashion Notes: this 'n' that
· Double strand freshwater pearl necklace
· Prehnite and peridot earrings on Argentium sterling silver wire
· Fashion Notes: Metal sensitivities (earrings)
· Inexpensive jewelry cleaner?
· Keishi pearl necklace
· Fashion Notes: making your own jewelry
· These are good...

· July 5, 2008 4:18 AM by Blogger Perfumeshrine
· July 8, 2008 11:34 AM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· June 29, 2008 12:08 AM by Blogger Dain
· June 29, 2008 2:20 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· June 22, 2008 8:38 PM by Blogger Dain
· March 24, 2008 9:25 PM by Blogger Carol
· March 24, 2008 9:51 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· March 19, 2008 10:34 PM by Blogger Dain
· March 20, 2008 2:18 AM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· March 17, 2008 11:12 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· March 19, 2008 2:38 PM by Blogger Duygu
· March 19, 2008 6:51 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· March 14, 2008 10:02 PM by Blogger Dain
· March 14, 2008 11:38 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· March 15, 2008 7:42 AM by Blogger Dain
· March 15, 2008 7:43 AM by Blogger Dain
· March 15, 2008 1:48 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· March 15, 2008 2:20 PM by Blogger Dain
· March 15, 2008 8:27 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· March 15, 2008 9:14 PM by Blogger Dain
· March 16, 2008 11:27 PM by Blogger Dain
· March 17, 2008 11:21 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· March 12, 2008 6:52 PM by Blogger Dain
· March 12, 2008 9:26 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· March 14, 2008 1:08 AM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· February 15, 2008 8:50 PM by Blogger Dain
· February 16, 2008 3:25 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· February 16, 2008 3:56 PM by Blogger Dain
· February 17, 2008 9:56 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· February 19, 2008 8:08 AM by Blogger Carol
· February 19, 2008 11:18 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· February 21, 2008 11:02 AM by Blogger Dain
· February 12, 2008 6:22 AM by Blogger Kenny Surtani
· February 12, 2008 12:27 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· February 12, 2008 6:38 PM by Blogger Dain
· February 12, 2008 11:10 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· February 2, 2008 8:02 PM by Blogger Dain
· February 2, 2008 9:48 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· February 2, 2008 11:42 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· February 3, 2008 2:28 PM by Blogger Dain
· February 3, 2008 2:56 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· January 27, 2008 10:28 PM by Blogger Dain
· January 18, 2008 4:31 PM by Blogger Dain
· January 18, 2008 4:57 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· January 18, 2008 8:54 PM by Blogger Dain
· January 19, 2008 3:28 PM by Blogger Dain
· January 20, 2008 1:53 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· January 14, 2008 2:54 PM by Blogger Dain
· January 14, 2008 5:21 PM by Blogger Dain
· January 15, 2008 1:11 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· December 8, 2007 8:53 AM by Blogger Chez Moi
· December 9, 2007 6:51 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· October 21, 2007 6:30 PM by Blogger Dain
· October 21, 2007 7:31 PM by Blogger Dain
· October 21, 2007 8:20 PM by Blogger Dain
· October 21, 2007 8:21 PM by Blogger Dain
· October 22, 2007 2:10 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· October 22, 2007 3:02 PM by Blogger Dain
· October 20, 2007 12:25 PM by Blogger Dain
· October 20, 2007 10:57 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· September 29, 2007 8:36 PM by Blogger Dain
· September 29, 2007 9:37 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· August 21, 2007 12:52 AM by Blogger Dain
· August 21, 2007 1:28 AM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi

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The Lipstick Page Forums Beauty & Fashion Blog

The Weekend Blogger: Happy 4th of July!
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Friday, July 04, 2008 10:04 PM (Eastern)

You'll really like this song.

Now that I've rejoined the 9-to-5 culture, I can admit this holiday has become, well, okay, a paid holiday, yet it is still Independence Day of course, and let it ever remain the magnificent celebration it is.
  • Jewelry. Today we did what we do every year; we went to the Fourth of July Fair. I don't buy readymade jewelry that much anymore, but I always find something at this fair (I have for years). Particularly rings, since these cannot be made without metalworking. People have made lovely rings with wire, and I've made them too, but it's not the same.

    I got a ring of heavy silver set with a rough ruby. I like this style; they also use rough emeralds. By "rough" I mean a fairly low-grade stone, translucent at best, but somehow, I just like it. I also got a spectrolite ring and a blue topaz ring, both for my daughter.

  • More jewelry thoughts. Making jewelry has now become almost too easy. lol! Okay it's not actually easy, but I've become better at it. For one thing, I've gotten accustomed to the idea that even a simple piece of jewelry can take all day, two days, or longer to make.

    And the same piece usually has to be redone several times. Unless you're copying an existing design, there are quite a few variables at play, and no hard and fast rules about anything. You have to go with the materials at hand (I've long given up the romantic notion of having everything you need at hand, because that never happens), so you need to be versatile enough to bend half-hard wire as easily as soft, and use whatever gauges you have.

    Tried my hand today at making post earrings. Not intentionally--I had the idea of making a hammered silver spiral to cover the ear lobe, and hanging something underneath it. I've felt in a rut; most of my earrings are french wires or hoops. I have tried my hand at making kidney wires (and should make more), and have used argentium silver leverbacks, but anyway...I made the spiral, and realized it would never sit right unless it had a post back, rather than the french wire style I had originally.

    It was a matter of cutting the french wire and straightening it, and digging up some earring backs, and getting them to fit the wire (I used a piece of stiff heavy wire to enlarge the earring backs slightly).

    For the spirals, I couldn't use too-heavy wire (this works for necklaces but not for earrings, where you need more delicacy and less weight). But I decided to hang teardrop-shaped hoops from the spirals, and these should be heavy wire. I used 18 gauge but would have been happier with 16 (as I say, you have to use what's at hand, otherwise you'll never make anything, but I have plans to try thicker wire later on).

    It's a sort of...gestalt (I'm envisioning dudes with elbow patches and pipes, bear with me). The spirals would be wrong without the post, or made in heavier wire (or lighter for that matter). The hoops would be wrong without the spirals (I've tried many times to make heavy wire hoops, to no avail). The shape of the hoops can't be too perfect (which would make them appear prefabricated), nor too crude (making them look amateurish, by someone who can't intimately bend wire, with tools including fingernails, mandrels, the handle of the chasing hammer). It's crossed my mind I love nothing so much as working with metal. It's my dream to do metalworking someday (silversmithing is more attractive to me than goldsmithing, though the latter would be more lucrative). It's the sheer physics of it.

  • Face. The Zia pressed powder I bought last It's not as good as MAC Blot pressed powder, for all-day oil blotting goodness. Yet it's not bad enough that I'd toss it and head out to the MAC counter, either. It's a decent pressed powder, better than a Dior one I have in ability to suck up oil. More coverage than MAC Blot pressed (not something I look for in powder though). I got the "Smoky Quartz" shade; it's definitely darker than my MAC Blot "Medium," but then Medium was getting too light anyway. (The "Quartz" shade might be more similar.)

    I'm not likely to repurchase it, but have decided to use it up.

  • Clothes. One of my favorite dress shops bit the dust, just like that.

    I was in the neighborhood and decided to drop in and look around. Cripe! They used to have two solid aisles of dresses, each aisle comprised of stands, each stand with four kinds of dresses...and yet more dresses, further in. All they kept was the aisle bordering the display windows, and this aisle was sparse, buddy, it was sparse. I used to grab ten dresses at a pop to try on, and walk out with two or four. This time there was one that looked nice (sheer layer with a print, over a solid layer of the same print; the interplay was interesting), but I hesitated, as it was similar to dresses I already own. But that's it. One dress in the "tempting to try on" category.

    To replace the dresses, they'd put separates...crappy separates (this shop never had good separates, only good dresses).

I hate to finish on a sour note, but I've run out of things to say.

Have a great holiday!

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Colleen Shirazi continues to blog here: Life of Colleen
2 comment(s)  
July 5, 2008 4:18 AM, Blogger Perfumeshrine said...

Happy 4th to you!

It was very interesting reading about making jewellery: I love the finished product although I haven't much invested in actually trying to replicate. You make it sound fun though :-)
And enjoy your new found little trinkets!

July 8, 2008 11:34 AM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...


There's a point where making jewelry becomes insanely fun. As soon as you can make one kind, you want to make something more difficult. It takes time to get where you want to's a long term project...but at least you always have something cool to wear in the meantime. :D

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The Weekend Blogger: Bit of hauling
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Saturday, June 28, 2008 11:47 PM (Eastern)

I shop rather strategically now; long gone are the days of carefree middle-class browsing. An item is either astronomically expensive, requiring months, even years, of planning to acquire, or else it tends to be junk, worth less than the space it occupies. It's truly an art to figure out where to shop, and to emerge with something of value, without blowing half a week's paycheck over it.

This time I went to a b & m bead shop, something I don't do often anymore. But sometimes it's worth the markup to be able to choose individual beads, particularly for earrings. I got some carnelian and some jade beads. I had this odd impulse to make red earrings, and I've wanted for some time to use green jade for something.

On to our local health food store, where I repurchased Dr. Hauschka Cleansing Cream. Normally the price would have been a tad appalling, but I tried this out first as a sample, loved it, bought a full sized tube, found it lasted five months and noticeably improved my acne-prone skin. I felt it was a good purchase.

On a bit of an impulse, I also bought a Zia pressed powder compact. I'm almost out of my traditional MAC Blot pressed, and was planning on the trek out to the MAC counter to repurchase it, but if this stuff works, I'd rather buy it instead. I've long fallen out of love with MAC in general, so the Back to MAC isn't much of an incentive to me anymore, plus the customer service at our local MAC Counter isn't much of an encouragement to go there. The first two ingredients listed are mica and cornstarch. I've used Zia liquid foundation for years, to make tinted sunscreen, so I'm fairly optimistic about the powder prospect.

Finally, I picked up Avalon Organics Lavender shampoo, since I had run out of their Lemon Clarifying one. The Lavender is more moisturizing, but then I often use two shampoos anyway--a little tea tree oil shampoo on my scalp (Giovanni, but I'm thinking of trying the Paul Mitchell one when that runs out), and a different one on the rest of my hair (it's not as complicated as it sounds, just slap on a bit of one and a bit of the other, and lather).

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Colleen Shirazi continues to blog here: Life of Colleen
2 comment(s)  
June 29, 2008 12:08 AM, Blogger Dain said...

I want to try those Avalon Organics now. I really need to get myself to a Whole Foods soon, and root around the products section.

June 29, 2008 2:20 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

There's a lot of bath & body at health food stores...and some of it is really good. Some of it is bad--Jason shampoos are terrible, imo, and Kiss My Face is only eh.

Avalon, Alba Hawaiian, Giovanni, Nature's Gate Organics...all good. There's one I always look at called Desert Essence. It costs a bit more but it smells stupendous.

I rotate shampoos, since I wash my hair every day. Otherwise there's no way to prevent buildup. I like to have three shampoos in the shower at a given time, and two conditioners. :D

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The Weekend Blogger: Mixed bag
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Sunday, June 22, 2008 2:38 AM (Eastern)

A photo tour of Iran...the music is killer

I suspect I have nothing cohesive to say, so have elected to use a bullet list.

  • Skin. Finally used the last squeeze of Dr. Hauschka's Cleansing Cream. The tube lasted about five months, used once per day (I use the Cleansing Milk at night). I tried going without it for several days to see what would happen, and have decided my skin was better off with it. I was going to repurchase it today, then got caught up finishing some earrings I'd been fiddling around with for weeks, so I'll probably shoot for tomorrow, but it's a keeper.

  • Clothes. Here's a tip I got from the administrative assistant at my job. You can get rid of static cling by spinning your clothes in the dryer--no heat--with a dryer sheet. These are clothes you have to line dry, so line-dry them first, but it really does work.

    While I was at it, I tossed in some clothes I'd normally have to iron. If they're not super wrinkly, you may not need to iron them.

  • Perfume. Debating between Patou's Joy and Sublime as my next perfume (after I've used up Etro's Heliotrope). I've been wearing Sublime as a's a tad too sweet worn alone, but so what, so is Montale's Aoud Blossom. It's a sentimental choice, as would be Joy, but Sublime is the more significant of the two to me.

    Sublime is about Washington State in the early 1990's, when Kurt Cobain was still alive, and Nordstrom still had superior customer service (okay, they probably still do in Washington State, but it's lousy here). I was a starving student and loved passing by the perfume counter at Nordies, and this was one of the fragrances I coveted most.

  • Shoes. I've been okay with the shoes I got. They're not my dream shoes, which would be Cydwoq, Jim Barnier or Taryn Rose (in that order). Something more beautiful, more durable.

    I'm not really against high heels, I just don't wear them. I can see the point; they are a sculpture. For something like a party or occasion, I would consider wearing them...I had some when I was fifteen or so, that were genuine stiletto heels (not super high, but actual heel-heels).

    My gripe is finding shoes that look the way I want them to look, yet allow me to walk eight city blocks in half an hour, or break into a run to catch a bus, and the like. I hate feeling constrained in shoes. In that regard, the ones I have are not it either. "It" starts at $300, so, my shoes should last until I feel like paying that much. :D

    I can admit I like them all the same. The strappy ones are good for hot weather; your feet don't get sweaty. I'm still stretching out the pump toeboxes, off and on, when I have nothing better to do.

  • Jewelry. I've made some good earrings lately. I keep hoping to take pictures, but jewelry is one of the hardest things to photograph. You'd need a small area reserved just for taking pictures of it, or a whole lotta time.

    I can describe them, but, eh. One is three lengths of oxidized textured silver chain, with the shortest length on the outside and the longest on the inside. I hung three colors of tourmaline faceted "hearts" (the "pear" is the flat teardrop shape, while the "heart" is the fat bottomed flat teardrop)--deep pink, green, and lavender, one at the end of each chain.

    The next was my first attempt at a theme: a simulation of falling rain. So I used lengths of silver flat cable chain (the flat surfaces catch the light when they move), small green amethyst faceted pears, and small aquamarine faceted drops. (It's funny, you always think to buy the bigger stones, but earrings often require small ones).

    The third pair I finished today. Were they a pain to make! I'm already planning to solder soon...I've heard you can buy a soldering iron at the dollar shop; the real cost is the solder and flux, both of which I now own.

    These are hammered golden hoops, and I wanted to hang a bar across the center. Hanging the bar is relatively easy, but without soldering, you have to devise a means of keeping the bar stable. Squashing or hammering the bar on the hoop doesn't do it.

    I came up with two ideas. One is to use a crimp bead--a tiny round seamless metal bead--you thread two beads on the hoop when you're making it. You use crimping pliers (as they sound, special pliers to neatly press and fold the crimps) to crimp a bead under each end of your horizontal bar. I've done this with crimp tubes because I had no crimp beads on hand, and it works well, but the crimp beads would look nicer than the tubes.

    The other involves wrapping fine-gauge wire on the sides of the hoops above either end of the horizontal bar. The idea is to block either end of the bar from moving up the side of the hoop. This also works, and the fineness of the wire makes it unobtrusive. on each horizontal bar, I have a metal fringe, made of pieces of make a loop on one end of each piece of wire, hammer out the other end flat, then file the edges of the hammered end to make them smooth and rounded.

    I'm trying out some wire-intensive ideas, because I'm thinking of getting karat gold wire. You have to be sure of your design because you can't make mistakes with the spendy stuff. Not sure if this design is "karat-worthy" yet. It's nice...the swinging golden fringe sparkles like fanciful sun rays. But the construction turned out to be more involved than I'd thought. I like the fringe and hoop; perhaps I could come up with a simpler version, or even just start out with a plain heavy hammered hoop.

  • Reading. Technical manuals, such as "Lasso for Dummies" (just kidding, I think the only book written on Lasso is the manual the Lasso people publish). Lasso is a scripting language. I don't think I'll ever read anything but technical manuals until Dain publishes her book, then I'll be happy to read that. I haven't heard of anything tempting to read lately, at any rate.

Have a good one!

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Colleen Shirazi continues to blog here: Life of Colleen
1 comment(s)  
June 22, 2008 8:38 PM, Blogger Dain said...

That's sweet. I haven't really started work on it yet, though. Shhhh. The blogging gets in the way, so I guess I'll just have to stop once we do CoC.

That video's pretty awesome. Iran seems sad, though.

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The Weekend Blogger: A bit of randomness
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Sunday, June 08, 2008 11:55 PM (Eastern)

Sitting here in my newly Foot Petal'd shoes--the model at the bottom:


I ended up using both the Heavenly Heelz and Haute Heelz for this pair (the other two didn't need 'Petaling nearly as much). I'm glad I didn't stick the Haute Heelz, because for one shoe (apparently my feet aren't exactly the same), the Heavenly Heelz wouldn't have done it. The Haute Heel lifts your heel up a bit, which is good when you have a rubbing-at-back-of-heel thing...but I pushed the Haute Heel back more in this shoe, so it not only lifts slightly, but also covers the entire back-of-heel area (I jacked the Haute Heel up right under the Heavenly Heel).

I'm saving the Tip Toes...I could cut them up and use them for the other shoes--there's a slight heel issue with those...but the issue is not bandaid-worthy, so I have it in mind to try higher heels later on, and use the Tip Toes then.

Got to make some earrings and a pendant. The pendant is a carved lotus in a light green, slightly yellow stone (I don't remember now if it's prehnite or "green gold"). I made a bail for it on the jump-ring principle--jump rings use tension to work--my next phase will definitely involve soldering.

The earrings...I had the notion of making earrings to look like falling rain. So these use lengths of silver chain, watery green amethyst briolettes, and small faceted aquamarine drops.

Otherwise...mmm...I added another snap to my dress that had shrunk in the wash. The idea was to have at least two snaps placed horizontally, so the inner snap could take most of the stress, while the outer one functioned to cover the inner one. Still it's not a perfect solution, you're still working on an area where there isn't enough fabric (there isn't much extra in the side seams either, so that's out). Eventually it occurred to me to find the most minimizing bra in the closet and go with that. It looks to work, i.e., having a minimizing bra on hand isn't a bad idea.

I'll try to take photos of some of these things later on (I haven't photographed any of my newer jewelry).

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The Weekend Blogger: This, that and the other
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Saturday, May 31, 2008 2:51 PM (Eastern)

I'm here at home, playing Simon and Garfunkel for my daughter. Home, where my love lies waiting silently for me... Subtly, their songs have entwined my memories more than, say, those of The Beatles (as much as I was crazy about John Lennon when I was a kid). Likely it's the American-ness of their music. Unlike many of my fellow citizens, who swim within the sheer breadth of our country, I've always had the ability to see the U.S. from the outside in. It's never been perfect, but the music is to die for.

I finally placed an order for Foot Petals. Didn't get the black ones; one of the Foot Petals reviews stated Foot Petals had turned the reviewer's pantyhose black. I don't know if it was the black Foot Petals what did it (she didn't say), but why take the chance? I got one set each of Tip Toes, Heavenly Heelz, and Haute Heelz. They look as if you could trim them to fit, so I'm endeavoring to find the most economical way to do it.

Still tinkering around with this piece:

chalcedony necklace

Most of my jewelry has, admittedly a bit surprisingly, worked, at work. This doesn't; the back chalcedony stones are too high to show enough, and the front might lie better with the wire component here:

turquoise and labradorite necklace

Planning to do the "tinkering around" part of the weekend today and the laundry part tomorrow (the weather should be sunny on Sunday).

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Fashion Notes: Trekking through Etsy
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Monday, March 24, 2008 8:23 PM (Eastern)

Back when I was fiddling around with these:

prehnite and peridot silver earrings wasn't the norm to make earring frames. Standard practice was to buy readymade frames, attach stones and call it a day.

Lately however there's been a bit of innovation in handmade earring frames. I was scrolling through Etsy last night, looking for ideas for spiral earrings, since I had it in mind to make some.

One of the nicest merchants I stumbled across was the Nina Rossi Jewelry site:

Part of the fun here is "How did she do it?" but I'm seeing a lot of square wire, with fine-gauge wire "soldering" the pieces together. Really dig her combination of herringbone weave and beaded bezel techniques to frame the black garnets.

On to the Natural Jewels shop:

These examples have a slightly more rustic flavor (though she has pieces on the site which defy gravity). I love how she used graduated shades of hessonite to produce a vivid, yet also subtle, line of color.

Kelly Lyn Raspa:

Got a bit sidetracked here, but what a killer heart pendant. She has hammered skull earrings breathing fresh air into the skull motif, a ship necklace, and much more.

Finally, the spiral design I was seeking, at Jewelry by Natsuko:

Mind you, I'm not going to duplicate these exactly. But they are the perfect spiral, balanced off by longer "stems."

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Colleen Shirazi continues to blog here: Life of Colleen
2 comment(s)  
March 24, 2008 9:25 PM, Blogger Carol said...

How do you wear those last ones?
'Cause those are pretty sweet looking!

March 24, 2008 9:51 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

Hey, how are ya?

I just made a pair based on this spiral, though they're quite different from Natsuko's. I didn't oxidize them, so they don't have that blackened look (it's not hard to oxidize silver, you can use a hard-boiled egg to darken it, then you can use silver polish to brighten the areas you want to highlight).

Mine are hammered but not chased, so they're flat and shiny in places, and hard (hammering hardens wire) but not textured.

You just take the straight side and put it in your ear lobe. The stem balances the spiral so the earrings hang straight rather than leaning forward.

I put three little moonstones on daughter did some of the wrapped wire on a couple of them. I had to laugh when she did it, because it took me years to do a good wrapped loop.

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Fashion Notes: A Mom pendant
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Wednesday, March 19, 2008 7:32 PM (Eastern)

mom pendant

This is difficult to photograph. It won't stay still when it's on, which is the point of it (lots of movement, catches the light).

This is one of the few odd sentimental pieces I've made; each stone has a meaning. I have my kids' birthstones on top, and small stones to signify the years I've spent with them. The tiny sapphire heart is for the blue sky, the smooth citrine coin is for the sun, the moonstone is for cloudy days (I have some with blue flash but didn't use it here), and the aquamarine is for the sea. These are all symbols of my happiest memories with them.

It actually has two tiny chains at the end, not one. I'm sort of debating about the chains; one is old, from a shop I no longer go to, and one is new. It seemed a bit trite to cut the chain off altogether from the end, so I cut it and reattached it, and added the small piece of old chain.

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Colleen Shirazi continues to blog here: Life of Colleen
2 comment(s)  
March 19, 2008 10:34 PM, Blogger Dain said...

What if you made a chain with the significant stones, that way you could have something close and sentimental with you always, and just switch the pendant around for fun?

March 20, 2008 2:18 AM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

That would be very interesting, since the stones don't really "match." I'll have to give it some thought. I had the idea first to make one of those small hoop pendants with the stuff hanging from it, but there's no reason why the elements can't be on the chain itself.

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Fashion Notes: Labradorite necklace
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Monday, March 17, 2008 7:52 PM (Eastern)

handmade labradorite necklace

I had to lean at a funny angle to take this pic, because I wanted to capture the "schiller," or "flash" in the stones (which did sort of work). Otherwise the stones do hang properly. This is more accurate:

handmade labradorite necklace, different angle

I'm still fiddling around with this, though I like it on this chain.

It's occurred to me I gravitate toward Indian stones. Not just the stones, but the Indian cut. There are several different types of cuts; most of them more precise than Indian, but that's why I like it.

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March 17, 2008 11:12 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

This isn't something I'd wear every day, it's for something rather specific. IRL it does have a lot of flash.

March 19, 2008 2:38 PM, Blogger Duygu said...

I make jewelry..This seems pretty easy to make and looks so cute.

March 19, 2008 6:51 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

Thanks! You do? Do you have a site?

Yeah, it's pretty straightforward. I saw a similar one on Etsy for $400+...they did theirs on silver with some ruby rondelles. Still I like mine better. :) The stones were so nice, I didn't want to detract from them too much.

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Just Notes: What I've been into, lately
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Friday, March 14, 2008 4:54 PM (Eastern)

norfolk, virginia skyline
Norfolk, Virginia1

Once in a while I'll get sentimental, and start googling for pictures of my home town. I haven't actually been there since the mid-1980's, and can't for the life of me recognize it anymore, save for this:

waterside, norfolk, virginia

...which is genuinely nice; they built it right before I left. There's a long walkway in front of the Elizabeth River, and lots of little shops and restaurants in the blue-roofed structure facing it.

But this is what caught my eye: it's divine!

uss wisconsin, norfolk, virginia
The U.S.S. Wisconsin3

The Nauticus Museum didn't exist until I'd already gone, and I'm drawing a blank as to what was there before (I want to say ships and tugboats, the kind of tugboats those bad kids used to jump on and explore coughs). Now they have this, and the battleship U.S.S. Wisconsin. Now I feel like buying a ticket. I'd love to see the inside of that ship.

Oh well...further hoop development:

blue-green sapphire hoop earrings

These are a rougher grade of sapphires. You'll note the double loop at the top; it's much better that way. Compare this earlier incarnation of the same hoop:

blue sapphire hoop earrings

With the single loop, I had to hammer the wrap. Though it's not an area of great stress, the thought of the short wire popping out...ugh.

1. Norfolk skyline by Thestearninator.

2. The Waterside, a small shopping and entertainment facility in Norfolk, Virginia. Photo taken March 11, 2003 by Ben Schumin.

3. Although there are no active battleships in any navy as of 1992, the United States Navy still maintained for a decade and a half two mothballed battleships--Iowa and Wisconsin--(berthed at Nauticus National Maritime Center in Norfolk, VA) and could recommission one or both of them if needed. Since the 1950s the United States battle doctrine has called for air superiority, which clearly favors the aircraft carrier, but other weapons such as guided missile ships and destroyers also play a significant role. In May, 2006, Wisconsin and Iowa were stricken from the Naval Vessels Registar and placed on donation hold for use as museum ships.

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March 14, 2008 10:02 PM, Blogger Dain said...

Those are great! I think the lower grade stones can still be very useful. Sometimes the translucence has a hard time "showing up" without a setting, and the slight inclusions perhaps suit the handmade look better.

March 14, 2008 11:38 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

Yeah, after trying out A grade tiny stones, and B grade bigger stones, I'll have to say it can be better to buy B grade. It depends on the stone...for less expensive stones, A grade can be noticeably better.

I think I'll redo the blue sapphire hoops...for one thing, it's not a good idea to use tiny beads on the ends. They tend to migrate up the sides of the hoop. I might also try the center loop idea and hang something there (probably a "big tiny" sapphire).

Here is another gem site: Beads of Cambay Someone posted it on a beading forum I go to. I believe she had bought from them at shows rather than online, but it's still a rec.

I haven't looked at it closely yet, the prices look higher than the Earth Bazaar sale prices but sometimes it's a matter of selection.

I'm dying to see the inside of that ship now! I really can't recognize the skyline anymore, except the Waterside building. Even when I was there, they were knocking down the old buildings. It looks as if they redid the entire waterfront. It's too bad in a way, I liked it the way it was.

March 15, 2008 7:42 AM, Blogger Dain said...

This post has been removed by the author.

March 15, 2008 7:43 AM, Blogger Dain said...

Hehehe... I forgot the closing tag on the last one. Found . It's a variation of the wrap design but they took advantage of the homemade look.

March 15, 2008 1:48 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

Thanks...I will have to study it more closely. What they did was bring both ends of the wire up and twist them...and I think the rest of the wrap is the same, the two wires twisted.

March 15, 2008 2:20 PM, Blogger Dain said...

Wah... fucked it again.

March 15, 2008 8:27 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...


March 15, 2008 9:14 PM, Blogger Dain said...

I think it's just me. I should get regular sleep.

March 16, 2008 11:27 PM, Blogger Dain said...

I was looking at a pair of earrings today, and they had the large hoop have two little loops at the end, to connect to the main hoop, and had the main drop attached similar-wise. Er, if that makes sense.

March 17, 2008 11:21 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

Sort of. :D

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Fashion Notes: Earring synergy
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Wednesday, March 12, 2008 2:51 PM (Eastern)

citrine and labradorite earrings

A venture into one of Dain's ideas of combining two contrasting stones. Here is citrine and labradorite, utilizing Eni Oken's herringbone weave (based on "french beaded flower techniques" and basketry).

I didn't have soft wire in this gauge on hand, and didn't feel like waiting to get some (with six or more gauges, two commonly-used tempers and two or three metals involved, I feel fortunate if I do have the exact wire on hand), so went ahead using "half hard." Hence the appearance is less basket-y--the soft temper would enable more exact placement of the wire--and more like the sloppy bun I happened to be wearing in the pic. :D

These, and some previous earring endeavors:

madeira citrine earrings
green amethyst and emerald earrings

...mark my first conscious attempts to make earrings that work with a specific hair color.

Earrings are generally regarded as a "facial accessory," and often the advice is to choose pieces which work with your face shape, and possibly your hair style and length...but the cosmetic aspect, the idea of earrings as a form of makeup, is a bit underplayed in my opinion. It's well to try earrings on in front of a full-length mirror, in the same way you would model a jacket, as well as using a customary hand mirror; it's as much about what the composition can do for you, as it is about the composition itself.

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March 12, 2008 6:52 PM, Blogger Dain said...

Hm, that citrine looks a bit too watery, but it may be the light.

I was thinking about why I automatically thought, "Colleen might like this" when I sniffed Bellodgia. I think it's because it really smells like the flower. Sure, there are other notes, but the flower really shines through, which is the case for the Montales and Joy. I'm gonna have to mail you this one. I have Normandie coming, and that's my carnation.

March 12, 2008 9:26 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

I tried it out with a deeper citrine...the thing is, the hair. The deeper citrine imo competed with my hair color, where this gives a sort of silvery pale golden look. For a pendant, a more golden citrine would be more striking, that's for sure.

Then there's a bead show I'm hoping to hit this weekend...I'll see what they have.

I dunno, carnation? I don't think I've ever smelled a carnation perfume.

March 14, 2008 1:08 AM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

My daughter wants to go to the bead show...that decides it! I'll see what they have.

I'm also going to try the weave out with soft wire...but that will have to wait until I can buy wire (it's much cheaper to buy it in bulk).

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Fashion Notes: Something I've been fiddling around with
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Tuesday, March 04, 2008 1:08 AM (Eastern)

handmade london blue topaz necklace

So I bought three smooth London Blue topaz "pears." And a sample of oxidized sterling silver chain.

(London Blue is just a loose classification for "deep" blue topaz. Swiss Blue is lighter, Sky Blue the lightest of the three. These colors typically are produced by heat-treating topaz. Oxidized silver uses chemicals to darken "bright" silver; usually areas of the piece are then polished to highlight them, though it's trendy now to leave more of the piece dark.)

The block of four photos:

Upper left: The first version involved cutting the chain into four pieces and joining them by passing a sterling wire through each pear and wrapping it to the section of chain. I've seen this done many times and somehow thought it would be a snap. Not so; one of the pears proved to have a very small drill-hole. Though it is possible to ream out the hole to make it bigger, I don't own a bead reamer (and there are several kinds of these), and I'm not sure of the risks of reaming out such a stone to begin with. What if you chipped the hole?

Hence, the wire I used for that stone was quite thin. Wrapping the stone directly to the chain...the link needs to be reasonably strong. Plus, there was a level of stress on the wire where it joined the stone. Bend it back and forth a few times and the wire would break.

Upper right: Back to the drawing board. Decided to join the chain using heavy gauge sterling wire, which is very strong. My daughter decreed this design to resemble "three people with garnet hair and blue faces" or "vases with flowers in them." Interesting, but a bit too much frou-frou here.

Lower left: Elected to try constructing a long drop in front with the garnets. Not bad, kind of eccentric really, but ultimately I felt the garnets were too much.

Lower right: Tried shortening the drop.

Top center pic: Finally, it occurred to me to revisit the original concept of three blue stones. What's satisfying here is the sheer strength of the construction; even with the thin wire, the wrap is pretty sturdy (the new style with two loops at the top).

Is this the final design? Only time will tell. It's rather like eyeshadow in the sense, what looks great in the pan is not always the shadow you end up wearing day by day, and the shadow which strikes you as ordinary, or hard to wear, can end up a staple. It takes months sometimes to determine the usefulness of something you make. It's quite different from making something to sell, where the priority is the sale.

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Fashion Notes: Development of a jewelry stash
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Thursday, February 28, 2008 2:08 AM (Eastern)

jewelry stash psd

This is a "Photoshop document" or "psd"--the file format used when you wish to preserve the layers in a document (same concept as this perfume psd). There's no reason for me to keep versions of the psd; it's a single file. All I do is take snapshots of it by saving it periodically as a jpg image.

The point here is "stash at a glance"...I've taken the items that have worked and put them together. What do the items have in common? What's missing?

You'll note I have no bracelets up; that's because I haven't made any good ones. Some of the pieces need to be redone--I've started to use better materials, which must be used sparingly, for designs that already work. I've changed some of my techniques. It's subtle. When I look at a piece of handmade jewelry in this vein, I can immediately tell how far along the learning curve the jewelry-maker is.

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Fashion Notes: Happy Valentine's Day!
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Friday, February 15, 2008 4:22 PM (Eastern)

handmade rose quartz necklace with hill tribe fine silver pendant

Okay, I didn't get to photograph this until today. This was my Valentine's Day present to my daughter, using her fine silver Sakura pendant, grade A round faceted rose quartz, and a gradeless (probably C, but nicely done) oval faceted rose quartz I got well over a year ago. The toggle is also Shiana hill tribe fine silver.

Debated some whether to string on colored beading wire, though the dull silver color of the Softflex used is unobtrusive in real life. Something lighter might end up looking dirty quickly. There is a new sterling silver Softflex beading wire out...if I do decide to restring, it will be on that (a trade-off; I've heard the sterling Softflex is stiffer than the regular one).

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February 15, 2008 8:50 PM, Blogger Dain said...

Wow, what a great present! I like how the strands twist around each other. I imagine there are some uses for lower grade gems. Sometimes the occlusions give a nice texture to the look.

February 16, 2008 3:25 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

Yup...well, I do want to make better pieces this year. There's a surprising amount of complexity to it. It's a bit like programming in the sense, people look at the surface of an application; sometimes they can be very impressed with appearances. But I'm always thinking, what's behind it?

I went through two different handmade silver hook closures (and have two silver hooks lying there as a result), as well as a larger silver toggle. The balance has to be just right.

Sometimes you want a sort of rough look. I have some rough-looking freshwater pearls that look better than smoother ones. Or say you have an oxidized chain, you might want slightly flawed stones to go with that.

I'm still a bit fuddled what to do with your pearls. They're nice pearls, I'm just...fuddled.

Thinking of ordering some chain...for example, the oxidized silver chain. There's a big trend now for the oxidized look, and it's mostly just that, trendy, but I would like to do a bit of it. It can look nice.

Then thinking of a more textured goldfilled chain. I'm skipping the big-link chain trend. Next year you won't see it.

February 16, 2008 3:56 PM, Blogger Dain said...

I like the colors here. I find the combination of purpley blue, soft rose, and the creamy pearls particularly resonant in this gold setting. I'm not sure which stones, or which cuts would work best in an earring. But there's no rush, my ears aren't even pieced.

February 17, 2008 9:56 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

You're right. There is something special about pairing a rich gold with an intense color such as purple or blue.

February 19, 2008 8:08 AM, Blogger Carol said...

That is beautiful!
Lucky girl!

February 19, 2008 11:18 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...


February 21, 2008 11:02 AM, Blogger Dain said...

I bet you when other girls exclaim, she's like, yeah, my MOM made it. And all the other girls squirm in jealousy. ; )

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Just Notes: This that and the other
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Monday, February 11, 2008 9:09 PM (Eastern)

Wearing this necklace:

handmade prasiolite and prehnite necklacehandmade prasiolite and prehnite necklace

Though I photographed it with the earrings, no way would I wear them together. One of my (infinite) future projects is to design a pair of 14KT gold earrings, without paying 14KT gold prices. Thinking of covering goldfilled wire hoops with karat gold beads, which are relatively inexpensive. For the hoops pictured, I now use a double loop design at the top (keeps the little end from popping out, without massive hammering).

Listening to this:

So far so good. It's time-consuming of course, since the only real way to test it out is to listen to it from a certain point forward (some of the songs "stick" too much for my taste). And you're limited to the songs you can find. Early U2, for example, is in short supply. I had to laugh when I heard the Peaches collaboration version of "Kiss Kiss Kiss"--it was so tame compared to the original. Yet spare and catchy, and ultimately likable.

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February 12, 2008 6:22 AM, Blogger Kenny Surtani said...

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We are a company based in Hong Kong and have been providing custom made suits & shirts since 1997. With representatives in major cities around the globe we can arrange to show you the fabric samples and take your measurements, or you can also place your orders online with the help of our measuring guide. There are over 2000 fabrics to choose from along with all the latest styles.

All our suits and shirts are produced by highly skilled Shanghainese tailors in Hong Kong and delivered in about 4 weeks, express delivery can be made in 2 weeks at a minor extra cost. In case you are not able to find what you are looking for then please let us know your requirement may it be in words or by a photograph and we could arrange it for you.

We also have an outlet at the Hotel Intercontinental Budapest where you are most welcome to visit us. Though we are not located in streets like Savile Row (London), we have still been able to offer made to measure suits to many VIP’s from around the world.

Experience an easier way of shopping for bespoke suits & shirts at Euro Tailors

Kenny Surtani

February 12, 2008 12:27 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

Normally I'd zap this comment right off the blog; it's pure advertising. SO PLEASE DON'T ADD ANY MORE COMMENTS LIKE IT.

Still...Shanghainese tailers in Hong Kong? Four weeks' turnover time? It is kind of cool.

February 12, 2008 6:38 PM, Blogger Dain said...

Yeah... my friend Cathy, who spent a year in HK, says that women take the fat issue of Vogue, go straight to these tailors, and knock an entire wardrobe off. ; )

February 12, 2008 11:10 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...


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Fashion Notes: Green amethyst and emerald earrings
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Saturday, February 02, 2008 6:49 PM (Eastern)

green amethyst and emerald earrings

These are some earrings I've been fiddling around with over the past few days. They began their brief life as prehnite earrings: two prehnite briolettes wrapped at the top, sort of like these (only step-cut): Jennifer Evelyn Artisan Jewelry: Prehnite, gold fill earrings. I had them mounted on golden hoops rather than on leverbacks. My prehnites weren't big enough though; they looked fine, but vanished once you put the earrings on.

Day two: made smaller hoops, with the prehnites done with a lighter wrap. Instead of bringing the wire down to make a bead-cap-looking thing at the top, I did a small wrap to let more of the stone show. Added tiny gold beads to space things out, and three goldfilled chains hanging in nested loops.

This looked better, but again with the disappearing prehnites. That's when I started stringing these infinitesimal emeralds, the ones at the ends of my graduated strand. I made them into a U-shape around each prehnite.

Better, but eh...

Day three: where's Jack Bauer? Will these earrings ever work? Got some green amethysts in the mail. Really nice, probably Indian stones. Decided perhaps the prehnites just didn't work in this design. Ruminated on some cosmetic concepts such as making stones "pop." Perhaps a more blue-toned green stone was in order, to contrast with the yellow gold color. (Prehnite is a watery yellow-toned green, where green amethyst is watery, but blue-toned.)

Got rid of the prehnites, as well as the emeralds. Now I had a vision. The two smallest, flattest green amethysts (weight is extremely important when making earrings), surrounded by a frame of the emeralds (which are so tiny, you have to lay them flat when stringing them). Got rid of one of the hanging chains.

These are finished now; my son has already approved them. nods

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February 2, 2008 8:02 PM, Blogger Dain said...

Hm, I know you're done with these, but, some color pairings (mostly drawn from looking at too many eyeshadows). Since the prehnite is such a delicate color, perhaps a very delicate contrast? I've always noticed, for example, that the perfect contrast works better than a near match. It seems crazy, I know, but perhaps you are not getting the color resonance you desire because the greens are similar, but in their very similarity, compete.

The prehnite might work better set against opals, or sort of watery raspberry, or a smoky grey, something with very cold fire, because anything truly strong will, as you noted, make them disappear. Even the gold might be competitive. Whereas the emeralds might resonate better with warmer, stronger colors: coral, amber, ruby, amethyst... um... yeah, what do I know?

February 2, 2008 9:48 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

Actually I think you'd be great at designing jewelry. You have excellent design and color senses. I've thought it would be neat to go into a partnership...where you come up with the designs, and I make the stuff. It's not practical now...and I haven't even gotten into metalworking, which is the Mecca of jewelry-making. Once you can do metalworking, you can make any kind of jewelry. I'm not sure when I would be able to do that...but I haven't ruled out the concept.

I'm better with prosaic designs, like...I need a pair of green earrings. That's about as far as that gets.

I've concluded that the prehnites I was trying to use were too small for earrings. I have seven of them and was planning to make a necklace. I'll probably go back to that idea...I have something similar, it's just seven or so stones on a chain.

February 2, 2008 11:42 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

Argh, I fixed that tiny bend in one of them. It's good photographing jewelry for that reason--anything wrong with it is gonna show.

February 3, 2008 2:28 PM, Blogger Dain said...

It's interesting how there are new challenges with every piece. When you first got into this, I was like, ok, hm, odd hobby but who am I to talk? But ever since you sent me those sites, I've been looking at each piece and thinking, now how did they do that? And it's sometimes amazing how it's all put together.

February 3, 2008 2:56 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

The craft itself has evolved a great deal over the past few years. It sort of exploded at one point...there were tons of people getting into it, people like myself, who had never crafted sweet fanny in their lives. And other people who were already crafty of course.

The market became saturated, and many people dropped out. Basically they went into it to make money, and it's incredibly difficult to make money making jewelry in a saturated market.

It reminds me a bit of programming, that is how it was. A massive explosion, tons of people jumping in on the promise of making money. The "market" for programmers was never saturated, could never be saturated; what happened was, once the people here had developed the software field, it could then be shipped elsewhere. You'll note any real software innovation is still happening here.

The similarity continues in the sense of people dropping out, and the people who really like doing it, remaining, and turning it into something ever improving.

You have to be willing to start at the bottom--that is like programming, where you start with DOS command-line programs. No one is impressed by these: to the non-programmer, programming means fancy animated GUI-based programs. To the programmer there is no difference. One looks different, but the mechanics either work or they don't. The prettiest program that

Over the next few years, we should see ever-improving materials for handmade jewelry. The people who remained in it are switching to better stuff. And because there are fewer of them, they all sort of "know" each other, so they influence each other.

Goldsmithing is really the thing. Or silversmithing. sighs If I were rich, I'd build a small factory.

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Fashion Notes: Labradorite necklace
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Sunday, January 27, 2008 7:44 PM (Eastern)

labradorite necklace

labradorite necklace clasp detail

labradorite necklace pendant detail

Working on this piece today. So far, I've switched the clasp from one side to the other. It has to do with the pendant, getting it so it doesn't flip easily.

The idea of putting anything in the back has to do with the weight of the pendant. These are vermeiled Bali sterling beads; they don't look like much (in fact they're hollow) but so far, the counterweight seems to be working.

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January 27, 2008 10:28 PM, Blogger Dain said...

That looks really good, as nice as some of the stuff in novelty shops, if you ask me. Simple but elegant.

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Beauty Notes: What I've been into, lately #2
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Friday, January 18, 2008 3:14 PM (Eastern)

I think we need a label for this, somehow...a blend of favorite things and Jack Bauer and Tony Almeida at a Drive-Thru.

Anyhow. Shall we commence?

Ava Luxe Voyage earrings

ava luxe earrings

I'm not affiliated with Ava Luxe, I should mention. I just like her stuff. Here I thought this was beautiful, a binary combination of kyanite and labradorite, strung on karat gold. Sometime I will do something similarly binary...I can't wear 14KT gold earrings, but I'm hoping someone will come up with a wearable golden leverback cheaper than 18KT gold. mumbles...

handmade sapphire earrings

Here is my own stuff. Less spectacular for sure, but keep in mind, there can be a difference between making something to wear, and making something to sell. With the emphasis on "can be."

It's been on my mind lately, because I tend to acquire less for the sake of owning something beautiful, and more for that of owning something useful. Sometimes the twain meet, oh, take this for example:

nars eyeshadow duos

I've gotten the most mileage from Island Fever (far right). In the pan: a gorgeous shimmery sea blue shade, plus a medium shimmery iridescent grey. It should be pretty, but useless; something you bought on a whim because it looked nice. But it isn't useless by far. The blue shade, applied very lightly, is the most natural, unobtrusive shadow I own. It shouldn't work but it does.

Hence, the Ava Luxe earrings could well correspond to this concept. Bright and pretty, but potentially utile as well.

My little hoops (these are the most conservative earrings I've made thus far) would be more like this:

nars mambo eye pencil

Nars Mambo, the unsung eyepencil. I paid $19 for you at Sephora, and momentarily felt a complete idiot; you can buy a perfectly decent deep brown eyepencil at Longs Drugs for four bucks. Then I started using you.

Mambo is deep brown, yet possesses hints of purple and red--making it subtly ideal for green or blue eyes, and making it go with everything. Thereby replacing brown, purple, and bronze pencils for me. No, you don't swatch particularly well, but on, you are a minor genius.


The Scented Salamander follows up on the Bond No. 9/Liz Zorn Perfumes story:

Trademark Questions Over The Use Of The Word "Peace" / Q & A with Laurice Rahme of Bond No.9, Liz Zorn of Liz Zorn Perfumes, & Sarah Horowitz -Thran of Creative Scentualization

Dwelling in lawyer-infested California, I suspect the entire thing was less of a shock to me. And I found some people seemed to turn it into a girl-on-girl fight--not good for business, for either party. Oh well. I see Zorn has some samples on her site; you might want to check them out.

aspirin mask screenshot

And finally, for your perusal--Michelle Phan, aka RiceBunny, demos the aspirin mask (here with honey): RiceBunny's Xanga Site - Aspirin = Beautiful Skin

No, I'm not into this myself. I'm far too lazy. But the idea of using aspirin and honey as a mask makes perfect logical sense. You are exfoliating. Exfoliating is good.

Have a great weekend!

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January 18, 2008 4:31 PM, Blogger Dain said...

I've been trying "just notes" for random things, but I'm not sure how it might work.

I like labradorite; from a design perspective, it would go with so many things. Pearls, watery green amethysts, mm... it's just pretty to look at.

I think the reason why the blue might work is the fact that it may be a perfect contrast. A perfect contrast works better than a near match. Someone with brown hair, for example, might do well with green.

Hm, it's interesting that she was able to get an interview with Laurice Rahme. I don't really buy it, though, it is insincere. But I'm tired of the issue, and I still think Bond is a silly brand, just from a purely aesthetic standpoint. It is really the sort of thing that could go back and forth forever, and I think it was very wise for Liz Zorn to drop it.

January 18, 2008 4:57 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

Yeah...I just didn't want to leave it hanging. There was a big splash about it, then nothing. From the article, it would appear this sort of thing happens fairly regularly...and from what I've seen of lawyers, I wouldn't be too surprised.

Every few months in California, you get something in the mail informing you there is a class-action lawsuit you might be able to participate in. At first I thought hey, great...then I read the thing. Usually it boils down to, you sign a form and mail it back. By signing, you agree the settlement is final, yadda yadda...and if the suit is successful, you are entitled to a $15 voucher toward, say, renewing your contract with your wireless phone company for another year...or $50 toward the purchase of a new stove.

It's a joke! The settlement "terms" are invariably next to worthless. It's clear to me that lawyers simply file these "class-action lawsuits" against major corporations...the corporations probably settle (cheaper than taking it to court)...whoever bothered to sign the form gets their $15 gift certificate. And the lawyers collect a fat percentage of the settlement. If I were cynical, I'd say they split the take with the lawyers for the major corporation, but I'd like to think they're far too honest for that. lol

January 18, 2008 8:54 PM, Blogger Dain said...

It seemed absurd to me at the time because in cosmetics, people copy each other all the time, and it's not something trifling like names, it's like, NARS makes a gold-pink-peach blush with a clever title, and everyone from Chanel to Milani has something like a year later. It seems like copycatting in this business is a given.

Oddly enough, it has come up in fashion, too. I was just reading an article on Marc Jacobs' derivativeness in W today. Apparently, it caused quite the furor, and all things considered, it must have been far nastier. Fashion is bitcher than even Hollywood.

January 19, 2008 3:28 PM, Blogger Dain said...

I think that gold-and-sapphire earring is especially rich. The colors kind of resonate with each other in a way that the silver doesn't. If it doesn't get too heavy, some vivid green drops at the bottom would add some extra intensity.

January 20, 2008 1:53 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

Mmmm...the gold ones did come out prettier. I got some 14KT gold beads to try usual, the cost per bead is relatively low, but they go so fast. Suddenly every piece "could use some of those." rolls eyes

I've found it's entirely different buying jewelry, and making it. If you're buying, then I can see jewelry minimalism. That's when you would want to get the most impact out of your pieces, because you have to pay the markup.

If you're making it, there's no point to minimalism. That's when you want to experiment and develop your own designs--which tend to be specific to you. When I'm making anything, I don't tend to lay it out, I tend to put it on. I'll try it on as I'm making it.

Now if you're selling it...that's when the design itself would take precedence. Because you have no idea who's going to wear it.

I have some tiny emeralds actually, I got them at the same time as the sapphires. It's amazing how tiny these things are. Imagine cutting and drilling them.

I was going to make something similar to these hoops using emeralds...but also thinking of combining the stones somehow.

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Fashion Notes: Sterling and sapphire earrings
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Monday, January 14, 2008 2:49 PM (Eastern)

sterling silver and sapphire earrings

Here is my weekend project...and part of the idea I had for this year, that I would make fewer...few, even...better pieces. (My next step is metalworking, but that isn't going to be this year.)

I used the Midori Jewelry hoop design, with a slight twist. When I did these hoops, for some reason the wrap at the top wasn't tight. If I grabbed the short end and tried to pull it out, it pulled out. I went through all the niceties of pressing the wrap with my pliers, nothing worked...finally, figuring I had nothing to lose, I put it on the block and started hammering the wrap with a metal hammer. Voilà!

For the sapphires, I went with grade over size, so these stones are really quite small, but translucent, with areas of transparency. Most precious stones you see in handmade jewelry are opaque, for obvious cost reasons. In the sense I had to use a lot of them to make an impact, but I think it was a good decision. The color in the finished piece is unmistakably sapphire blue.

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January 14, 2008 2:54 PM, Blogger Dain said...

I'm mired in a project too, though not as much fun. I'm tailoring my skirt to fit properly, and velvet is not happy about being sewn.

And hey, those hoops on the bottom will you give you more places to attach stones, should you want it, so I'd say it's a good design if you ask me.

January 14, 2008 5:21 PM, Blogger Dain said...

Poo, "I'd say" and "if you ask me" are redundant. Too bad you can't edit comments.

I had a (very) small brain wave. If there was some way to add a horizontal bar across the big hoop, across which you could hang the little ones? That way, you'd have them more evenly spaced since they're hanging vertical, and they'd be inside the bigger circle. You'd still have a similar effect, but you'd have much more control over the placement of the stones.

January 15, 2008 1:11 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

On this design, no...the hoops are too small to do anything inside them. I tend to make bigger earrings, but these were deliberately small. The challenge was to get the stones to show up on small earrings, and have them show with the "hair factor"...hence, the idea of putting the stones on the bottom.

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Ava Luxe: new blog
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Saturday, January 12, 2008 12:26 AM (Eastern)

Ava Luxe

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Fashion Notes: If I didn't make jewelry, I would buy it here.
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Tuesday, December 11, 2007 7:19 PM (Eastern)

It takes two to three years to make jewelry, even from a non-metalsmithing perspective. Sounds like a trifling period, but you need dedication to start from nothing and continue on for upwards of three years.

After the first two years, you undergo a transformation. No longer are materials and methods an issue. You know exactly what to use--which temper and gauge of wire, where to buy it, how much to buy, what tools to use, what techniques to employ. Now it is far more a matter of what you wish to convey, which is a variation on the concept of design. Mass-produced jewelry tends to be all about selling a pretty design, and I'm not knocking it, but handmade jewelry tends to be one-of-a-kind and far more intellectually conceived.

It's also an easy way to buy American. The best form of charity, after all, is not charitable: you give someone the opportunity to work, to produce. Our decline in major production...the United States was once at the forefront of manufacturing...has spawned cottage industries such as jewelry-making, independent clothing houses, perfumery, and so forth, at an ever-increasing level of quality. So if you're looking for baubles this year, you might try some of these sites first.

Ava Luxe on

I first encountered the hands, heart and soul of Ava Luxe when I tried some of her perfume oils. I had mentioned a copy of Chanel No. 5, which I love but am allergic to, and was amazed she had replicated it perfectly. Another scent I loved was Ingenue, a resurrection of the long-discontinued Deneuve fragrance (yes, Catherine Deneuve once had a celebrity scent).

Ava Luxe was on sabbatical recently; a small selection of the perfumes are available now on the Etsy site. Her recently-added jewelry really strikes me though, as having jumped forward into that intimate, almost spiritual zone.

ava luxe golden lotus necklace

The Golden Lotus Necklace ($99) just looks sweet, from its long-and-short golden chain to its (Hill Tribe?) vermeil lotus bead, delicate pink topaz accents and limpid rose quartz drop.

There's more, of course, from a wicked good pair of fine silver earrings to an ethereal elf bracelet and beyond.

Midori Jewelry

Midori Jewelry is my personal jewelry-making hero. There is a quality of peace in her pieces, a languor, a leisure in her careful selection of exactly what to put in each. I feel Midori Jewelry has been widely copied (in fact I borrowed one of her handmade hoop designs, it was so good) yet there's nothing quite like the original.

midori jewelry hecate necklace

I love the Hecate necklace ($70); it's sheer genius. You get the look of a lariat, without the annoying strangly or loose feeling.

midori jewelry plum blossoms necklace

The Plum Blossoms necklace ($70), with its hand-etched sterling silver dog tag pendant, bequeaths a gentle touch of Spring to your mood.

There are several "water" pieces on the site that are truly lovely as well.

SkyDreams on

Sky Dreams' pieces are opulent and gem-oriented (she also has a "Sky Dreams Light" site on Etsy for less expensive jewelry).

What's been on my mind is this piece:

sky dreams peridot, amethyst necklace

This Peridot, Amethyst Sterling Silver Necklace ($159) is not something I'd normally consider. It's, well, a whole lot o' gems, but its thoughtfully-chosen spring green color, popped by purple, of all works. It makes me think of a lush green meadow with a touch of violets.

There's a close-up of the wrapping detail on the site; each green briolette has been worked into the chain by hand.

images courtesy,,

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Beauty & Fashion Notes: Ruminations on aging, and finding that perfect pair of pearl earrings
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Friday, December 07, 2007 4:36 PM (Eastern)

handmade freshwater pearl and argentium sterling silver earringsCool, eh? After fiddling around with pearl earrings for years, these just sort of emerged. They're not even chased, just hammered flat. The hoops are more of a bugger to make than it would appear (it's surprisingly easy to fluff the wrap at the top) yet, once made, they are beautifully round, and, well, tight. There's no way the wire could bend or pop loose; the entire hoop becomes quite solid.

I've given some thought to aging, as our culture becomes more and more engrossed with cosmetic surgery. A few years ago, I would have dismissed anti-aging procedures as simply too invasive. Or perhaps a bit too Dorian Gray.

Intuitively, I didn't feel aging, in the cosmetic sense, could be all negative. What I studied in college was logic, and I am likely the world's worst Catholic; I've never been that interested in theory, or in what you are supposed to believe. Does it work? Are we all doomed to cosmetic procedures (lucrative, if that's your field; an amazing drain on finances if not)?

Then I got older, and found out for myself. No, I don't think we are all going to get Botox and plastic surgery. Some people will do it. And it will become more and more common, certainly more acceptable. But there will always be a substantial group that doesn't, either for monetary reason (as the pressure to open your wallet and let the money flow toward plastic surgeons increases), or from plain old cussedness...a belief, on whatever level, that God created you as a spectacular work of engineering. Paying the lesser engineers to fiddle with your

The part that no one tells you is that you can feel more beautiful as you age. shhhhh... When you're young, it is much easier to be beautiful, and in fact you should make yourself beautiful, since you have only one youth. When you're old, it's no longer theory as to what you'll look like when you get old. If you can remain attractive for your age, it is akin to a naked body as opposed to one that is fully clothed. The concealed body may contain any number of surprises, where, with the naked one, what you see is what you get.

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December 8, 2007 8:53 AM, Blogger Chez Moi said...

"Paying the lesser engineers to fiddle with your"
HeHe,love that line!

The closer I get to 40, the less and less "Looks" obsessed I get. I've noticed that the people closest to me also could care less about aging. I did have a few folks in my life who are obsessed with getting older and losing their youthfulness, but I just don't have the patience anymore to have people like that in my life. Its just far to "high school" for me. Plus, a 35 year old woman wearing tons of makeup, bleached out hair and dressing out of the juniors department just looks pathetic. Not me, a "friend" of mine. I just don't get it. She is married, has a nice husband, a beautiful 2 year old baby boy and she's just crazy-obsessed with wanting to attract men's attention. I've tried telling her that she is worth so much more than that, but she is just totally deaf to it. She's smart, she works hard, she is not an unattractive gal. But all she cares about is having guys (preferably young, hot ones) hitting on her. I've given up on the friendship with her and it's just sad.

Anyhoos, your article made me think of this quote that I had posted awhile back on my own blog,

"Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art."
Eleanor Roosevelt


December 9, 2007 6:51 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

Hi! Nice to see you. :)

Yeahhhhh...well, some people want to see if they still have it. I've found that doesn't change with age, it doesn't matter what your circumstances are either. I'm not against that, in fact I think it is important to keep up your looks, because it affects your morale.

It's more that you have to draw a line...if you don't draw a line, you're going to be pressured throughout your life to pay for procedures or products that really don't do that much for you. Right now there's a tremendous push for the sort of cure-all for everything. And I think it's bullshit, as a cure-all for everything.

The funny part is actually getting old yourself. You find out so much of what you've been told your entire life is, well, fiction.

The only thing I miss is being able to stay in shape easily. For a very long time I was naturally strong. Now I have to work at it. There are many things you can do to keep strong though, the thing is to keep going.

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Beauty Notes: Serenity
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Wednesday, December 05, 2007 1:36 AM (Eastern)

It's well to find ways to keep your morale and energy up, no matter what's going on. Not that it's easy to do. In fact it's a skill, that should probably be taught in school along with mathematics (the two are not as dissimilar as they may appear).

Serenity & Music

What better way to get everything in alignment than to put on some music? (Do people still say that, or did this expression recede with the vinyl recording?)

alicia bridges - i love the night life COQUIGUATE

This was one of my favorite songs of the disco era. It's subtler than Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive," and as sexy, in its own way, as Grace Jones' "Pull Up to the Bumper."

And speaking of Grace Jones...she was a prominent figure in the tail-end-of-disco, birth-of-New-Wave period, and I miss her. I didn't know until today that LL Cool J's "Doin' It" was sampled from a Grace Jones song:

Grace Jones - My Jamaican Guy (Live)

Serenity & Perfume

Finally got around to trying my sample of Serge Lutens' Fleurs d'Oranger today.

serge lutens fleurs d'oranger

In its own right, it is a highly soothing composition, with waves and billows of honeyed orange blossom, whiffs of the orange itself, smooth white starts out with a small burst of the same bright sweetness of Fracas, in fact...all reminiscent of crisp white cotton shirts, sunny gardens, and general tranquility.

I can never in a million years see buying this, mind you; it's not "me." "You," in your perfume-buying decisions, should be the perfumes that bring you peace. My Montale Aoud Blossom/Boisé Vanillé blend never fails to soothe, nor does Annick Goutal's Passion. I'm mulling over the idea of trying Jean Patou's Sublime again (I haven't smelled it in a decade, easily, and don't want to make the same mistake I made buying Samsara after not having smelled it in about as long.)

Serenity & Jewelry

turquoise, labradorite and keishi pearl necklace

I had the idea of trying to capture the sea around Jamaica, without using obvious maritime symbols such as mermaids or shells. This is American turquoise and labradorite, with a natural pink keishi pearl. In the end I couldn't resist the golden anchor (in real life, it looks more like a fleur-de-lys than an obvious anchor).

Here a great deal of the calming aspect is making the piece itself. It's not unlike knitting, which I've recently thought about taking up (I was a complete screw-up at knitting in my youth), in being able to take the same elements and redo them, with very little waste (okay knitting trumps jewelry making, but if you stick with it long enough, you don't make that many mistakes anymore).

Serenity & Comedy

Springtime for Hitler

Sometimes you really need to laugh. When I saw The Producers originally, it was sometime in the early to mid 1970's, when the horrors of World War II were still relatively fresh. I had to blink to believe what I was seeing, it was that hysterically funny. Likely some of its jibes are less pointed now, but the opening number for Springtime for Hitler is a classic.

image courtesy

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Shiana silver, part 2
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Sunday, October 21, 2007 5:26 PM (Eastern)

shiana silver and lapis set

(more detail here: Beauty & Fashion Notes: this 'n' that)

This is lapis, combined with fine silver and some sterling silver.

I've gotten more into silver lately, after years of being more interested in the color of yellow gold. I still think yellow gold is special, and irreplaceable, and adds the right touch upon occasion, but silver is a material that's more widely worked; there is a far wider pool of hands involved, since more people can work with silver than with gold. The results can be interesting.

A few clicks on the Net reveal silver components from Thailand, Italy, Indonesia, Turkey, Israel, India and the U.S., for a start. But silver jewelry is produced all over the world, throughout the Middle East and Asia, in Spain and Mexico...

If you hate to polish your silver, look for the new Argentium alloy or try fine rather than sterling. Oxidized (blackened through a chemical process, then polished to highlight) silver also requires less polishing than "bright" or "white" (unoxidized) silver, and is currently enjoying a revival in the form of oxidized chains and components.

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October 21, 2007 6:30 PM, Blogger Dain said...

I hope you don't mind a suggestion. Since the pendant is so pretty and dominating, why not simplify the strand? What about delicate links of silver irregularly interrupted by clusters of lapis and some black stone? Black, blue, and and silver go well together. This way, you can make several strands like you wanted, with a lot less weight.

October 21, 2007 7:31 PM, Blogger Dain said...

Or, hm... clusters of a soft jadey green with amber? Like leaves, but only sort of.

October 21, 2007 8:20 PM, Blogger Dain said...

I'm pretty chatty... perhaps you could attach the butterflies to the hoops, too, and it'd be like... butterflies fluttering at your ear, a flower at your breast. A more balanced set, perhaps. Ok, I'm gonna shut up now.

October 21, 2007 8:21 PM, Blogger Dain said...

! I just realized, for the first time, that there's a bracelet. Duh... I was wondering why the butterflies where only on one side.

October 22, 2007 2:10 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

It was a confusing pic; I've changed it.

I'm not looking to change this piece. I've tried it on; it's perfect. It's a disadvantage when you make jewelry for yourself, because you tend to stop when the piece flatters you, or fits exactly what you're looking for. It's entirely different if you're going to sell it, then it has to be something people buy, whether or not they end up wearing it (that is how jewelry sellers think, like anyone else in retail).

October 22, 2007 3:02 PM, Blogger Dain said...

Yah, I made those comments because I thought it was a double-strand necklace. It's very arresting and unique.

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Beauty & Fashion Notes: this 'n' that
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Friday, October 19, 2007 9:37 PM (Eastern)

I have been busy lately...I have to finish up a project involving jewelry. I placed an order with a company I'd been planning to buy from, for...months, possibly even a year or more. It's one of the few jewelry supply companies that is Fair Trade certified, they're based in Thailand, and the majority of their items are fine silver (.999). Only a few items are sterling. They also vermeil and according to them, their vermeil exceeds legal standards.

Aside from this, they have this totally droolworthy site with a glut of stunning items, everything from beads (some solid, which I'm kicking myself I didn't buy), pendants, earring components, chain, charms, all sorts of things. They carry rose gold vermeil as well as yellow, but I find rose gold difficult to work with since most vermeil components, not to mention goldfilled, are yellow. If you'd like to check it out:

When I got the package, I literally had to sit down when I was opening it. The images on the site really do not do the items justice. Part of it is the weight of each item, the soft yet bright silver, the sheer quality of the workmanship. Take this pendant:

silver rose pendant

Here it looks nice enough, you're thinking eh... In person, when you run your fingers over it, there is not a single rough edge. All of the many edges are as smooth as silk. The balance of the pendant is perfect; it's handmade yet the symmetry is also perfect. It's just an amazing piece.

That's what I did today, made a necklace out of that pendant, some lapis, some of these:

silver butterfly beads

...and some odd Bali sterling components. It's a bit tricky to design with fine silver because of the weight first design had two strands of lapis and silver along with the pendant. I loved how it looked, but it was too heavy to wear more than a few hours, so I went back to the drawing board and made it a single strand.

I hope you take advantage of our Parfums Raffy coupon code for 10% off. Parfums Raffy has a diverse selection of perfumes, and the prices are competitive. They have modern mainstream perfumes, classics such as Joy and Fracas, niche brands such as Creed and Montale, Raffy's own original perfumes, and even this:

bill blass nude perfume

This is Nude by Bill Blass. I've never owned it, never even tested it, but let me tell you this. This perfume drove me crazy one day at Trader Joe's.

If you don't have a Trader Joe's, they tend to have relatively small aisles (at least ours do) and to be perpetually crowded. So I was there one day shopping, and I smelled the most wonderful perfume. I mean it was magical. Normally I don't notice perfumes, but this was extraordinary...I kept smelling it, as I made my way through the aisles, but it was so crowded I couldn't pinpoint who was wearing it for the longest time.

Finally I figured out who it was and I asked her what was that perfume, and she said it was Nude by Bill Blass.

Hopefully I'll have some jewelry pics and other features soon.

images courtesy,

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October 20, 2007 12:25 PM, Blogger Dain said...

How pretty. You have my interest piqued in the Bill Blass now. Which Montale did you get?

October 20, 2007 10:57 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

I've never tested Nude, I only smelled it on someone else. I read some reviews on Basenotes, where it was described as "artificial" and "synthetic," yet it did get four thumbs up (out of four reviews).

:D I'll post about what I got when I get it...

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Double strand freshwater pearl necklace
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Saturday, September 29, 2007 7:30 PM (Eastern)

double strand freshwater pearl necklace
double strand freshwater pearl necklace

I wish I had a bust! Hm, that didn't come out right. :D I mean one of those fake necks you hang necklaces on. Before, I thought of fake necks as display tools, or as models to photograph necklaces, but they'd also be handy while you're working on the piece (as simple as this looks, it can be worn four different ways--two right and two wrong--not counting the fact it's reversible).

This is a stuffed panda, and the neck is too fat. When you wear the necklace, substantially more pearls show on the sides.

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September 29, 2007 8:36 PM, Blogger Dain said...

Wow, that looks very snazzy. I particularly like the clasp, and I've always been fond of a strand of pearls. I wonder, instead of a colored stone, if you put a lustrous but rough-cut blue stone instead of that dangling pearl, wouldn't that bring out irregular texture of the freshwater pearls, and perhaps, remind one of the waters whence they came? I have no idea what kind of stone, though. A starry pendant might be cool, too. Just a thought... I don't really know anything about jewelry, even the wearing of the stuff.

That is one glamorous panda... : )

September 29, 2007 9:37 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

A blue stone would be neat!

I'm moving along slowly figuring out this stuff...right now, if I were to substitute anything for the pearl dangle, it would be a black stone (the reasoning is the necklace could then be shlepped over any outfit and still match). But pearls + blue stone sounds beautiful.

I'm kicking myself why I didn't buy more of the pearls. There was a sale, and I was thinking of a single strand design with enough left over to do a bracelet. This turned out to be a pearl-eating necklace. mumbles...

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Prehnite and peridot earrings on Argentium sterling silver wire
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Thursday, September 13, 2007 12:21 PM (Eastern)

prehnite and peridot earrings on argentium sterling silver wire

I'm getting more into silver now, thanks to the Argentium alloy. Before this, I would have had only a few choices:
  1. Use regular sterling silver and unannealed (natural dull silver color) niobium earring wires.
  2. Use regular sterling silver and oxidize it (and use unannealed niobium earring wires). This would produce the now-trendy antiqued look on the silver.
  3. Use fine silver (99.9%), which is not as strong, and, as you would expect, more expensive.
None of these is quite so satisfying as being able to sit down and create the entire earring from tarnish-resistant, hypo-allergenic, durable, inexpensive Argentium sterling silver.

This is the first time I've used prehnite; it's a lovely, light green stone (not as yellowish as peridot). It was something of an impulse buy; when I saw it at the bead store, the inner beauty junkie murmured, "Wouldn't these just make green eyes pop?" lol

I bought two small pieces of grossular garnet as well, and had it in mind to make some instant-gratification earrings, just the garnets and the prehnite, wrapped in a little wire. (Grossular garnet runs from muted green to earthy brown, and has a little sparkle in it.) But then I thought, eh, I can always make those earrings. Why not try something new?

I love the Indian style of earring, yet I often find them heavy. Here the metal construction is all wire, which is lighter than standard metal components.

Premade chandelier components have become quite common; I prefer the handmade ones to the mass-produced variety. They should look a tiny bit rough (it doesn't show much in the pic, but these are chased as well as hammered). The little peridot droplets on the bottom, I've had for months. I've been stringing them into this and that, but they're much nicer wrapped. They're so tiny, they're next to weightless.

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Fashion Notes: Metal sensitivities (earrings)
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Wednesday, August 29, 2007 10:43 PM (Eastern)

argentium sterling silver hoop earrings with swarovski crystals
argentium sterling silver hoop earrings with labradorite
argentium sterling silver hoop earrings with freshwater pearls

I've had earring metal sensitivity for many years; in fact, I had it when I got my ears pierced, about thirty years ago. It's just that people didn't talk about it much back then and I wasn't sure what was wrong.

I remember dunking the earrings in rubbing alcohol, in the vain hope it was simply a matter of sterilizing them better. And I tried many an earring labeled "surgical stainless steel" only to find it just as irritating as the "non-surgical-stainless-steel" variety.

At one point, there was this sort of clear nailpolish-like substance you were to paint on your earring wires to seal off the irritating metal. I tried this too and ended up having to return it.

Later on, I tried Simply Whispers earrings. For what they were, they were expensive, but at last I could wear regular pierced earrings. Some time after that, drugstores started selling Simply Whispers-type earring wires, so I converted all of my earrings to these.

When I started making jewelry, I discovered niobium, which works even better than the Simply Whispers type. There's also titanium (which, like niobium, can be annealed into colors, albeit not as vivid, nor as varied as niobium).

I can wear 18 karat gold earrings, it's more a matter of "oy the price tag" (still have it in mind to make some though).

The latest wearable metal for me, it turns out, is argentium sterling silver (pictured above with Swarovski crystals, Bali sterling beads, labradorite and freshwater pearls). Argentium is a patented alloy of silver, containing the same percentage of silver as standard sterling (92.5%). However, argentium sterling uses less copper and an element called germanium in the alloy.

It's been widely marketed as highly tarnish-resistant, so if sterling seems to turn instantly black on you, this may also be of interest to you. (Folks living in high humidity tend to have their sterling tarnish quickly.) I do believe I was on the forum, someone mentioned argentium, I thought, what the heck, let's try it...

Now I can have nice shiny silver earrings--admittedly, the dull silver color of unannealed niobium isn't quite as pretty.

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Inexpensive jewelry cleaner?
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Monday, August 20, 2007 10:45 PM (Eastern)

queen helene mint julep shampooThis will sound nuts, and I'm not by any means a professional, so take this advice with all due caution...but diluted Queen Helene Mint Julep Shampoo seems to make a good jewelry cleaner.

I tried some out on a whim...before that, I was using my Johnson & Johnson Head to Toe Baby Wash to clean inexpensive jewelry. And I was struggling using Ivory dish soap to clean more expensive jewelry. I tried the Green Queen shampoo out on a few inexpensive pieces...even diluted, you need only a few drops.

Of course you would not use this on softer stones such as amber, pearls, or anything else you wouldn't use detergent on.


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August 21, 2007 12:52 AM, Blogger Dain said...

What if you mix it with baking soda to make a soft scrub?

August 21, 2007 1:28 AM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

That would be a thought... I started out using it for some basic jewelry, where I'd been using the J & J Head to Toe. It struck me that the shampoo cleaned better, and faster, just a few drops of the diluted shampoo.

I tried it out then on a 14KT gold bracelet that was pretty grubby. It worked pretty well...I have a baby's toothbrush for it.

I have a diamond ring that needed cleaning...I read on the Net that you can use rubbing alcohol to clean diamonds. The thing is, the ring has a silver face. If you use rubbing alcohol, it darkens the silver. Whereas, the Queen Helene doesn't, and leaves the silver nice and bright.

So it seems to work on costume or "bridge" jewelry as well as the stuff I tried it on.

I haven't tried soaking anything in it, I'm too chicken to try soaking the ring. Or...? It's just shampoo. I may try soaking it a little bit next time. The bracelet still has some hard-to-reach areas that could do with a soak.

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Keishi pearl necklace
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Monday, August 06, 2007 3:32 PM (Eastern)

keishi pearl necklace

I tried photographing this in all the usual ways: no flash, indirect lighting, yadda yadda...nothing worked, so I finally just had someone else model it and used a flash. At least some of the lustre came out; these are unusually good pearls, I bought them right before the price nearly doubled.


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Fashion Notes: making your own jewelry
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Tuesday, July 31, 2007 3:44 PM (Eastern)

various beadsI haven't done this for a while; every year, since I started in 2005, I've taken a few months off from making jewelry.

The short version is it's an exhausting process. Unless you have the fortune of apprenticing with someone else, it's on you to winnow the vast number of suppliers and supplies (mastering the techniques is easy relative to that).

Even something like wire...there are four kinds of goldfilled wire, generally sold at two tempers, with four widely used gauges (and more gauges than that). Wire labeled "goldfilled" is meaningless, except it means 1/20 of the wire is karat gold of some sort. Silver...could be fine silver, sterling silver, or argentium sterling silver (recommended), with the same range of tempers and gauges.

It's worth the struggle; I've never doubted that. Making something concrete, in the sense of picking up tools and raw materials, exercises a different part of your brain than that used in creating something abstract. Take software, for's largely created on paper. You can type the finished result into a text file really hard, or really softly; slowly or quickly; it's not going to affect how the program runs. It's all brain work, rather than a fusion of brain and hand.

I was rifling youtube (it's truly momentous btw), looking for an example of the "forgotten 80's." (Why 80's? perhaps it's better-documented than prior decades.) What people remember are the neon colors of clothing, makeup, shoes even; the big hair, the overall...daffiness? innocence?

Of course that's not how I remember it, exactly; the better part of the 80's for me was colored by the late 70's. And in fact this video is from a song released in 1979. But keep in mind, whatever was happening in England in 1979, took several years to percolate down to the villages in the States. lol And that's where I was, in the first half of the 80's.

Why this song? I wanted to illustrate the concept of taking nothing...raw materials...and getting up on a stage and producing something. Concerts these days (oh wait, let me get my walker), seem to have come full circle to the Big Production of the mid 70's--which is what the smaller bands rebelled against in the late 70's, and the energy of that period, imo, fueled much of what is remembered as the 80's.

"Concrete Jungle" by The Specials

Beading Blog -

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These are good...
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Wednesday, July 25, 2007 11:56 PM (Eastern)

turquoise and goldfilled wire earrings
American turquoise, Bali vermeil and goldfilled wire earrings

The virtue here is something you don't see: it's the weight. Something about this design is next to weightless. You can wear these all day without feeling them, and the design is wide rather than long and narrow; i.e., it looks like more, without the extra weight.

American turquoise is just that, turquoise mined here. Typically it's undyed, although it's usually treated to make it more durable. The turquoise in these earrings is pretty good; I've been wearing them over the months, and the color hasn't faded (a tendency even in undyed turquoise).

Bali vermeil is what it sounds like, sterling silver plated in 24KT gold, made in Bali. The durability of the plating varies, but then the beads do too; part of the charm is the individual look of each bead.

Goldfilled consists of a base metal core, wrapped in a solid layer of karat gold. Unless otherwise stated, the karat gold layer is 1/20 of the total metal in the piece. There is also a 1/10 type of goldfilled. The karat gold layer is usually 14KT or 12KT gold.


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