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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 Perfumeshrine
· July 8, 2008 11:34 AM by Colleen Shirazi
· June 29, 2008 12:08 AM by Dain
· June 29, 2008 2:20 PM by Colleen Shirazi
· June 22, 2008 8:38 PM by Dain
· March 24, 2008 9:25 PM by Carol
· March 24, 2008 9:51 PM by Colleen Shirazi
· March 19, 2008 10:34 PM by Dain
· March 20, 2008 2:18 AM by Colleen Shirazi
· March 17, 2008 11:12 PM by Colleen Shirazi
· March 19, 2008 2:38 PM by Duygu
· March 19, 2008 6:51 PM by Colleen Shirazi
· March 14, 2008 10:02 PM by Dain
· March 14, 2008 11:38 PM by Colleen Shirazi
· March 15, 2008 7:42 AM by Dain
· March 15, 2008 7:43 AM by Dain
· March 15, 2008 1:48 PM by Colleen Shirazi
· March 15, 2008 2:20 PM by Dain
· March 15, 2008 8:27 PM by Colleen Shirazi
· March 15, 2008 9:14 PM by Dain
· March 16, 2008 11:27 PM by Dain
· March 17, 2008 11:21 PM by Colleen Shirazi
· March 12, 2008 6:52 PM by Dain
· March 12, 2008 9:26 PM by Colleen Shirazi
· March 14, 2008 1:08 AM by Colleen Shirazi
· February 15, 2008 8:50 PM by Dain
· February 16, 2008 3:25 PM by Colleen Shirazi
· February 16, 2008 3:56 PM by Dain
· February 17, 2008 9:56 PM by Colleen Shirazi
· February 19, 2008 8:08 AM by Carol
· February 19, 2008 11:18 PM by Colleen Shirazi
· February 21, 2008 11:02 AM by Dain
· February 12, 2008 6:22 AM by Kenny Surtani
· February 12, 2008 12:27 PM by Colleen Shirazi
· February 12, 2008 6:38 PM by Dain
· February 12, 2008 11:10 PM by Colleen Shirazi
· February 2, 2008 8:02 PM by Dain
· February 2, 2008 9:48 PM by Colleen Shirazi
· February 2, 2008 11:42 PM by Colleen Shirazi
· February 3, 2008 2:28 PM by Dain
· February 3, 2008 2:56 PM by Colleen Shirazi
· January 27, 2008 10:28 PM by Dain
· January 18, 2008 4:31 PM by Dain
· January 18, 2008 4:57 PM by Colleen Shirazi
· January 18, 2008 8:54 PM by Dain
· January 19, 2008 3:28 PM by Dain
· January 20, 2008 1:53 PM by Colleen Shirazi
· January 14, 2008 2:54 PM by Dain
· January 14, 2008 5:21 PM by Dain
· January 15, 2008 1:11 PM by Colleen Shirazi
· December 8, 2007 8:53 AM by Chez Moi
· December 9, 2007 6:51 PM by Colleen Shirazi
· October 21, 2007 6:30 PM by Dain
· October 21, 2007 7:31 PM by Dain
· October 21, 2007 8:20 PM by Dain
· October 21, 2007 8:21 PM by Dain
· October 22, 2007 2:10 PM by Colleen Shirazi
· October 22, 2007 3:02 PM by Dain
· October 20, 2007 12:25 PM by Dain
· October 20, 2007 10:57 PM by Colleen Shirazi
· September 29, 2007 8:36 PM by Dain
· September 29, 2007 9:37 PM by Colleen Shirazi
· August 21, 2007 12:52 AM by Dain
· August 21, 2007 1:28 AM by Colleen Shirazi
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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.
I hate to finish on a sour note, but I've run out of things to say.
Have a great holiday!
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).
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.
Have a good one!
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).
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:
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:
Planning to do the "tinkering around" part of the weekend today and the laundry part tomorrow (the weather should be sunny on Sunday).
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:
...it 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:
Fleur de Lis chandeliers spiral amethyst brio earrings
Gizelle Swarovski . Black garnet 14k gf hoops earrings
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."
Fashion Notes: A Mom pendant
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Wednesday, March 19, 2008 7:32 PM (Eastern)
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.
Fashion Notes: Labradorite necklace
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Monday, March 17, 2008 7:52 PM (Eastern)
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:
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.
Just Notes: What I've been into, lately
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Friday, March 14, 2008 4:54 PM (Eastern)
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:
...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!
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:
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:
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.
Fashion Notes: Earring synergy
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Wednesday, March 12, 2008 2:51 PM (Eastern)
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:
...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.
Fashion Notes: Something I've been fiddling around with
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Tuesday, March 04, 2008 1:08 AM (Eastern)
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.
Fashion Notes: Development of a jewelry stash
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Thursday, February 28, 2008 2:08 AM (Eastern)
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.
Fashion Notes: Happy Valentine's Day!
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Friday, February 15, 2008 4:22 PM (Eastern)
Okay, I didn't get to photograph this until today. This was my Valentine's Day present to my daughter, using her Shiana.com 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).
Just Notes: This that and the other
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Monday, February 11, 2008 9:09 PM (Eastern)
Wearing this 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.
Fashion Notes: Green amethyst and emerald earrings
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Saturday, February 02, 2008 6:49 PM (Eastern)
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
Fashion Notes: Labradorite necklace
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Sunday, January 27, 2008 7:44 PM (Eastern)
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.
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
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...
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:
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, 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.
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!
Fashion Notes: Sterling and sapphire earrings
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Monday, January 14, 2008 2:49 PM (Eastern)
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.
Ava Luxe: new blog
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Saturday, January 12, 2008 12:26 AM (Eastern)
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 etsy.com
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.
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 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.
I love the Hecate necklace ($70); it's sheer genius. You get the look of a lariat, without the annoying strangly or loose feeling.
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 etsy.com
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:
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 things...it 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 AVALUXE.etsy.com, www.midorijewelry.com, SkyDreams.etsy.com
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)
Cool, 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 face...eh...
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.
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.
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 flowers...it 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
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 aedes.com
Shiana silver, part 2
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Sunday, October 21, 2007 5:26 PM (Eastern)
(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.
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:
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:
...and some odd Bali sterling components. It's a bit tricky to design with fine silver because of the weight actually...my 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:
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 shiana.com, parfumsraffy.com
Double strand freshwater pearl necklace
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Saturday, September 29, 2007 7:30 PM (Eastern)
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.
Prehnite and peridot earrings on Argentium sterling silver wire
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Thursday, September 13, 2007 12:21 PM (Eastern)
I'm getting more into silver now, thanks to the Argentium alloy. Before this, I would have had only a few choices:
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.
Fashion Notes: Metal sensitivities (earrings)
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Wednesday, August 29, 2007 10:43 PM (Eastern)
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 Jewelrymaking.about.com 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.
Inexpensive jewelry cleaner?
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Monday, August 20, 2007 10:45 PM (Eastern)
This 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.
Keishi pearl necklace
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Monday, August 06, 2007 3:32 PM (Eastern)
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.
Fashion Notes: making your own jewelry
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Tuesday, July 31, 2007 3:44 PM (Eastern)
I 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 example...it'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 - thebroadroom.net
These are good...
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Wednesday, July 25, 2007 11:56 PM (Eastern)
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.