Tin Cup and Tea

January 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

At the close of 2010 I enjoyed making tin cup necklaces. Not too difficult, they are enjoyable to make in the morning over coffee or over tea in the evening. Even nicer…spending time with my husband or one of our kids while I make them.

For my mother, I’d created a tiger’s eye tin cup with plated gold chain. While I’m not a big fan of plating, there are places where it has merit. The tiger’s eye tin cup necklace (posting a pic tomorrow if possible) used nice sized beads. Too heavy for karat gold chain, not too heavy for 14k gold plated.

With a nod to financial recovery and tightened purse strings, we’ve decided to offer plated gold as a metal option for our customers.

Tin Cup necklaces are called that for a reason. It was a necklace form worn in the movie “Tin Cup”. I make them 18 and 20 inches roughly. Some are several strands, or single strands that can be worn together. Pearls are beautiful with the right chain, but I favor a wide variety of stones and beads. Even Swarovsky beads work well. I like gold chain for this, and I am learning to appreciate argentium sterling…it doesn’t tarnish the way typical sterling silver. Especially in our humid climate.

Let me know how you like your tin cup necklace.

And before the next semester begins I’ll be spending more time on a project or two. One is a labor of love (dino bone cab set for our 8 year old), and the other is more labor intensive…including moving parts. Here’s hoping for success!


My Grandmother’s Pearls

September 5, 2010 § 1 Comment

Last year my Grandmother brought some of her pearls for me. She wanted them cleaned and restrung; because of her arthritis, my grandmother wanted me to make them easier for her to put on and take off.

First I looked at the pearls. I brought them to my old jewelry instructor, as well. The pearls weren’t real. I called and let her know right away. She didn’t mind that they weren’t real. They didn’t have to be; the pearls were special to her.

The pearls didn’t need cleaning, but I carefully wiped the pearls with a soft, damp cloth as I unstrung them. Restringing them required thought though. Because my Grandmother’s arthritis in her hands is bad, she needs something large and easy to clasp and unclasp. I couldn’t find anything that would work for her. Magnets weren’t suitable, either too weak to hold up to regular wear, or too strong for my grandmother to pull apart. The only idea I had was stretchy stringing material. It stretched enough that I could string her pearls on it and she could slip it over her head. She loved them! With the stretch she doesn’t have to manage a clasp, but I attached one anyway. The clasp wasn’t necessary, but it really completed the piece.

Working with stretch material can be problematic. Learning to secure the piece requires a surgeon’s knot and the tiniest dab of glue. A small dab of adhesive inside the center of the surgeons knot. I’ve used the adhesive cement sometimes used to secure pearls to post. I’ve also used 2 part epoxy. Both work well, but have a pin (or needle) to apply the glue inside the knot.

Just a few reminders about pearls:

Do not do anything to our with pearls unless you know what you’re doing and what you’re working on. Know what you have. There are a lot of fake pearls out there, and a lot of methods and materials used to make the pearls seem real. I don’t recommend cleaning pearls on your own. With real pearls, careful cleaning and handling is required. They are likely knotted and on silk thread (which stretches when wet).

Fake pearls need careful care as well.They can be made of a variety of materials. Some can be very well made. Some of my grandmother’s, for example, were made very well, to look and feel much like real pearls. Others, not as much. People may or may not know the pearls they have are fake. Cleaning them, even carefully, might ruin them–and your customer will want their pearls back, in the same condition they gave them to you.

When in doubt (and even when not in doubt), leave the cleaning to a professional with experience and a working knowledge of pearls.

Bottle Your Gemstones!

September 2, 2010 § Leave a comment

I’ve loved tanzanite from the first time I saw the beautiful, rich color. Tanzanite is easily damaged, and my life is a little to rough for this gemstones…which is why I haven’t made any jewelry with it. And tanzanite isn’t alone. There are many gemstones that won’t hold up to active wear. I’ve found a neat option. I’ve bottled some small tanzanite gemstones. I wear my bottled tanzanite on a silver chain. And, much to my amazement, the necklace has held up well inspite of my grandson’s constant need to see my gemstones.

I’ll try to post a picture this weekend, as well as a list of gemstones you might consider for bottled gemstones of your own.

It started with a question…

August 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

“Can you make a buddhist rosary?” And I didn’t know. So I spent some time learning about what my fellow student referred to as a buddhist rosary; what she asked me about is called a mala. Malas, or japa malas, are a series of beads or knots used in prayer, mantras and/or meditation. The beads are used as a tool to mark the number of prayers or meditations, but they are much more than a simple tool.

There are usually 108 beads in a mala, though there may be other amounts. Some malas have counters to keep track of how many rounds they have made.

I will be making one, after I do a little more research on the pieces. My intention is to create a mala in a respectful way. My plan is to use some beautiful carnelian beads, knotted as with pearls (in place of placer beads); it will look nicer and be sturdier.

Have a great week!

Kim (kim@of-the-earth.org)

The Truth About Tarnish

July 13, 2010 § 2 Comments

Understanding tarnish means knowing the causes of tarnish as well as knowing how those causes are related to your jewelry. Knowing more about sterling silver is important to make sense of the tarnishing that occurs.

Several things cause tarnish on sterling silver: oxygen and sulfur are the two most obvious (and common) agents, though perfumes, make-up, and a host of other products may also cause tarnish or another unwanted patina.

Sterling silver is referred to and stamped as .925. This signifies that the makeup of the metal is .925 (or 92.5%) pure, or “fine” silver. Fine silver doesn’t tarnish, but it is also not strong enough for most uses in jewelry; a different metal is necessary to add strength. The other 7.5% in sterling silver is mostly comprised of copper. Copper adds strength, but is highly reactive. The presence of oxygen or sulfur leads to tarnish. Intentional oxidation adds interest to a piece of jewelry. Unintentional oxidation detracts from the beauty and interest of that piece of jewelry.

Preventing tarnish can be done in several ways.

  • Storing jewelry in sealable bags or containers is the easiest method of slowing down the tarnishing process.
  • Storing your jewelry with chalk will also slow the tarnishing process.
  • Anti-tarnish cloth or anti-tarnish paper or strips can be purchased. You can line your jewelry box with it, or place it in the bag or container you store your jewelry in. (my inexpensive personal jewelry is kept in sealed plastic bags in my jewelry box with strips of anti-tarnish of paper.)
  • Cleaning jewelry gently, rinsing well and drying, can rid your jewelry from the accumulating dirt, dust, makeup etc.
  • Occasional polishing with a polishing cloth can keep your jewelry shining. Polishing clothes can be purchased already charged with polishing compound.

Recently, another variety of sterling silver has come into favor: Argentium sterling silver. In contrast, the 7.5% of Argentium sterling silver is largely made up of germanium. The germanium in Argentium sterling causes this form of sterling to tarnish much more slowly. While it won’t become the new (and only) sterling silver in use, it is becoming more popular. Argentium isn’t tarnish free, but tarnish resistant, meaning it will eventually tarnish, but not so easily or quickly.

The Winner…

July 6, 2010 § 2 Comments

We have a winner of her choice of earrings! Shaiha! Check out her blog at shaihasramblings.blogspot.com or you can look for more information about our winner here. I’m looking forward to getting to know her, and all of you, a little better. She made two suggestions, easily read in the comment section of the blog.

I hope you’re looking forward to hearing about some of the many suggestions I’ve had when I asked what you’d like to hear more about.

Feel free to let me know what you want to hear about, or hold onto it a week or so… I’ve been asked to host another contest already.

Be well and don’t forget to check out Shaiha’s blog!



Enter to win!

June 16, 2010 § 1 Comment

Enter to win your choice of earrings!

To enter, leave a comment or email suggesting a jewelry related topic you’d like to see us cover.

The deadline is June 30, 2010

Sorry it took so long to post the image of the earrings. The shots we have are not great, and I haven’t had a chance to re-shoot the pics yet.

The Spiral earrings are sterling silver, the french hooks are hypoallergenic (stainless steel). Approx. 1.25 inches from hook.

The Flow earrings are sterling silver with swarovsky crystals, also with stainless steel french hooks. Approx. 2.25 inches from hook. Crystal color will be customized.

Your choice of earring pair will come to you with free shipping on insured USPS.

Remember…email me at kim@of-the-earth.org with your topic suggestions. You can also send topic ideas to me via this blog’s comments, facebook (kimpaluch), or twitter (kimpaluch).