Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tuesday Treasuries

Treasuries are showcase collections of Etsy goodies from various shops. They are artfully put together by members of the Etsy community.  I am always very grateful to be included. This week my work has been feautured in a whopping 4 treasuries alongside wonderful art from around the world.

This crisp and clear dark green treasury by Christa of OilpaintingsChrista is so very tempting! Thanks for including my Irish sea glass pendant! For some reason I want a mint tea now.....(ok, I meant a mojito really but we'll go with the tea...)
Wow! A second stunning treasury popped up in my inbox this weekend. Thanks to Gabriella of KnotByThreadAlone  for including my cobalt agate pendant in this classy list, 'Brave, The World for Priya.'

Today I woke up to a burst of colour! Thanks Nancy of Nancenet Designs for this wonderful taste of Summer and for adding in my pastel bracelet in 'A Perfect Irish Summer, So Far.'  Despite the odd rainy spell, it has been amazing, hasn't it? Let's hope it's not over yet.

My green sea glass pendant got another feature today! Thanks again to Christa of Oilpaintings by Christa for including it in this lush treasury, 'Green Gifts.'

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Greenhouse Structures, Inspirations

Last week I posted a few photos of colourful flowers snapped at the National Botanic Gardens, Dublin. You don't need to be an architect to know beauty can equally be found in the non-organic. The greenhouses in the park are cleverly engineered and just as eye catching as a living plant. The lines and form provide plenty of inspiration for wire wrapping designs.

section of greenhouse roof, National Botanic Gardens

greenhouse interior, National Botanic Gardens

Artistic inspiration most often comes from what we see around us, even when we are not aware of the images are brains are storing.

Irish Connemara Marble Pendant. Sterling Silver Celtic Spiral. Optional Sterling Silver Chain. MeadowDenim Blue Pendant. Wire Wrapped Stone. Optional Cotton Chain. Sea & Sky

The above pendants were designed with the Celtic traditions and/or the sea in mind,  but such curls and swirls are commonly seen around Dublin in wrought iron railings, gates and lamp posts. I've no doubt the open style of the spirals was partly influenced by what I see every day in this city. 

No matter where you are, if you are out and about, look up, look around, look down. You might notice something new and inspiring you never realised was there before, even if you walk past it every day.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Drying Herbs

dried mint leaves
Drying herbs the old fashioned way is the easiest thing in the world. All you need to do is to make a bundle, tie twine or thread around the stems and hang the upside down somewhere warm and dry. When we were kids, my mum used to tie all sorts of herbs and flowers and hang them in the attic under the eaves.
big bunch of mint drying
Last week a friend gave me an enormous bunch of mint. Yes, I know it looks like bundle of weeds, but if only we could photograph smells, you'd be yearning for a mojito right now! When drying herbs, I hang them on cute pink hooks off the side of the freezer, where it is nice and warm. In this Summer weather they dry super quickly.
Here's some I dried earlier in the year. I store the aromatic leaves in larger mason jars to keep the moisture out. They make fabulous, digestive tea. Pop 2 or 3 into a mug, add water that has gone off the boil and leave to infuse for a few minutes.
rosemary ice cube
If you have nowhere suitable to dry herbs, or don't like the look of them hanging up, you can freeze them instead. To learn how, please refer to my older post 'Herby Ice Cubes.'

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tuesday Treasuries, July

Treasuries are showcase lists of Etsy goodies from various shops. They are artfully put 
together by members of the Etsy community.  As always,  I am grateful to be  included.

'Beachcombing' by ICAlien shows off all sorts of goodies connected to or found on the Irish beaches. I'm thrilled to see my Irish sea glass keychain in this beautiful treasury. 

I was out searching for beach treasure a couple of weeks ago and this reminded me that the few bits of pottery and sea glass I found are still rinsing in water...time to take them out and see what I've got. I will take photos of anything interesting in there.  If you wish to know how to clean sea glass and sea pottery click HERE

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Riot of Royal Colour, Caught My Eye No.32

Caught My Eye  is a series of blog posts showing scenes I found interesting, odd, curious or beautiful. I am artistic and therefore an observer but I am not a photographer by any description. So if you expect top quality photography I'm afraid you will be disappointed.  But please do enjoy a snap shot glimpse of the world through my creative eyes. 
wild, Irish flowers and NBG, Dublin. Own photo.
I was at the National Botanic Gardens, Dublin, yesterday. My last visit was Autumn 2012 so I was it was about time for a look at the summer blooms. I was met by an amazing riot of colour.
bright summer flowers (own photos)

These stunning mauve artichokes reminded me my Etsy shop could do with a fresh a burst of purple. I've been filling it with nautical blue, Irish greenwarm pink and hot red jewellery. Time for a some royal hues and some summer florals methinks.

Friday, July 18, 2014

G is for Glass & Green, ABC of Jewellery

As we continue with the ABC of Jewellery, we've reached part 2 of the letter G. This is a not-too comprehensive guide to jewellery techniques and materials I use as well as design styles and inspirations. A few days ago I posted about Gemstones, including Garnets. Part 2 looks at Glass and the colour Green.

Glass in its many forms is very popular in jewellery. I don't use every type of glass bead available so I'm going to concentrate on those I do; sea glass, crystals, Czech glass, ceramic and seed beads. 
https://www.etsy.com/ie/listing/168874285/irish-fairy-ornament-sea-glass?ref=listing-4      https://www.etsy.com/ie/listing/194921587/irish-sea-glass-necklace-seafoam-beach?ref=listing-3
White sea glass angel ornament     Wire wrapped sea glass pendant

My favourite is sea glass.That is glass that has been naturally smoothed and frosted over a long period of time while tumbling in the ocean. The salt water leeches minerals, notably sodium and potassium, from the glass. This gives it a semi opaque and icy appearance. 
Spot the difference? With a tiny bit of practice, you can spot a fake that has been artificially tumbled as it will be very smooth and evenly frosted. The piece on the right is naturally frosted by the ocean. The difference is clear....or not!
Irish sea glass pendant (sold)
Genuine sea glass will have c-shaped dimples or pitting in the frosting and/or a crusty appearance. The more obvious the pitting, the longer the piece has been in the water. A heavily frosted piece could have been rolling in the sea for as much as 100 years.
'club sauce' sea glass bottle stoppers
Half the fun of working with sea glass is collecting it on the beach. The best time to find sea treasure is after a storm. It can be back breaking but it's worth it when you spot a real beauty like these bottle stoppers. To learn how to clean sea glass and sea pottery CLICK HERE

https://www.etsy.com/ie/listing/192922235/rainbow-crystal-earrings-swarovski?ref=listing-shop-header-0   Connemara Marble Earrings. Rare Irish Stone & Swarovski Crystals. Emerald Lighthouses
                                      Swarovski revoli crystal          Swarovski emerald
                                                                                   (with Connemara marble)

Rhinestones and crystals are also a type of glass. I don't work with the former, but do occasionally like to use European crystal. Crystal are a high quality of glass that give off a beautiful sparkle. Swarovski crystals from Austria are a superior brand famous for their quality and uniformity of size. You may see them described as having AB shine. This stands for aurora borealis, a type of highly reflective, sheen finish. The Swarovksi revoli cyrstals seen above have a rainbow-like effect.

Czech crystal beads are also considered of good quality and can look like gemstones. The blue  Czech crystals in 'Yours Truly' earrings look very similar in structure to the tiny topaz gemstones and reflect the light even better than the little stones do.


Ceramic & faceted glass bracelet       Pink crystal fairy                       
 Pink Heart Ornament for Girl's Bedroom, Baptism Gift, Rear View Mirror Charm, ValentinesBlue Fairy Butterfly Angel. Rear View Mirror Charm, Purse Charm OR Pendant

Ceramic and Czech crystal heart        Blue Czech glass butterfly fairy

I  very occasionally use other forms of glass beads including ceramic and faceted Czech glass, which is not as sparkly as crystal but still reflects the light. Glass in any form can lend lightness and colour to any piece of jewellery.

blue and rust seed bead eyeglass chain 
Glass seed beads are tiny, usually 2mm to 4mm and are great fun though a little pesky to bead with. I use them as spacers between gemstones, but as they are available in a vast array of shades you can use them for all sorts of beading projects, including embroidery. Tiny glass seed beads are often easier to string, wire up or sew than tiny stones as the hole is usually a tad wider and more uniform. That reminds me G is also for Glasses and you can hold on to yours with a beaded eyeglass chain like this one!
close up of Connemara marble
Green is a colour that is usually abundant in my shop because I use a lot of Irish Connemara marble.  I've written a few previous posts about this rare, indigenous stone:
About Connemara Marble
Bright Connemara Marble
Up Close and Personal with Connemara Marble
Connemara marble samples
This increasingly scarce marble really does come in 40 shades of green, usually with several tones in the same small piece.

Irish Connemara Marble Pendant. Sterling Silver Celtic Spiral. Optional Sterling Silver Chain. MeadowConnemara Marble Pendant. Handmade in Ireland. Inis
Connemara Marble Earrings. Rare Irish Stone Teardrops. Wild HeatherIrish Made Connemara Marble Earrings. Long Teardrops. Meadow
Connemara Marble Irish Ornament. Christmas Tree or Pub DecorationConnemara Marble Pendant or Ornament with Copper, Celtic Spiral. Optional Cotton Chain

The green serpentine streaks in the limestone marble are caused by the presence of various minerals.
some varieties of green sea glass
Sea glass also comes in several shades of green. I will leave the letter G here and refer to a  previous post on the various shades found and their frequency of occurance: Shades of Green Sea Glass.

Irish Jewelry. Sea Glass Pendant. Dark Forest Green. Ocean MoonIrish Sea Glass Jewelry. Kelly Green Pendant. Optional Crochet Chain Necklace. Ocean Jewel

A  B  C  (plus C for Crimping D E F  (plus F for Findings) G, 1

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Irish Postal Rates Increase

Postal (mailing) rates go up here in Ireland as of Monday 21st July. This means a small increase in my shipping rates. However, I do manage to keep my shipping costs low with clever packaging and by using recycled bubble wrap and other materials where possible.

If you are an online seller using An Post postal service you also need to know this so here is the link Postal Rates 2014 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

G is for Gemstones and Garnets. ABC of Jewellery.

Oh Goody, we've landed on the letter G in my ABC of jewellery! This is a not-too-comprehensive guide to materials and techniques I use as well as inspirations and design. G is for Gemstones, Glass, Garnets, and let's not forget Green, a colour usually prevalent in my Etsy shop! Again, I am splitting this article into two. The second part will be published on Thursday coming.
rose quartz, own photo
Gemstones are precious and semi precious stones used for decorative jewellery and accessories. Traditionally, the more valuable 'precious' stones have always been diamond, sapphire, emerald and ruby. However, the boundaries between precious and semi precious stones are becoming a little fudged now with very exclusive garnets, for example, crossing the divide while manufactured diamonds slide down the scale in the opposite direction.
selection of semi precious gemstones, own photo
The family of gems generally accepted as semi precious stones encompasses an extensive list of rocks and minerals (here's a list from Wikipedia.) You are most likely familiar with a lot of them. Most have a long tradition as healing stones and have been attributed special properties and/or are tied to certain beliefs. Many are designated birthstones. Born in February, amethyst is my birthday gem, for example.
  Seafoam Earrings. Amazonite Earrings with Flower Detail. Summer Breeze
Blue flash  labradorite earrings      Seafoam amazonite earrings

The most widely found category of stone found on the planet is feldspar, covering about 60% of the planet's surface. Feldspar is defined as a rock forming mineral, characteristically made up of pale or clear crystals consisting of aluminoscilicates of sodium, calcium and potassium. That's all the science you will get from me. I promise. The word 'feldspar' means 'field stone' in German. Labradorite is a fine example in this family as is amazonite (pictured above.)  
some varieties of the quartz (own photo)
The second largest family is quartz and this breaks down into another long list of minerals including rose quartzamethyst, citrine, clear quartz crystal  (aka rock crystal) and more. Quartz is a very hard mineral and it is found all over the globe.
Newgrange (photo sources on Wikimedia Commons)
In Ireland, it is most famously seen glistening in the Neolithic tombs of Newgrange. Click here to read my previous post about this mystical place and the pendant it inspired me to make.
https://www.etsy.com/ie/listing/193200594/irish-connemara-marble-pendant-sterling?ref=listing-2      https://www.etsy.com/ie/listing/195433907/irish-jewelry-cork-red-marble-pendant?ref=listing-1
Connemara marble  pendant        Cork red marble pendant

Marble is not technically classed as a gemstone. However, the definition fits, so our rare, indigenous Irish stones such as Connemara marble, Cork Red, Kilkenny and Ulster white marbles may be considered as such. All are found only on this island and are in scarce supply. I proudly include these indigenous stones whenever I can get my hands on some decent pieces.

Though we do not have an important gemstone industry and many of the old mines are now closed, Ireland boasts a fair share of minerals. Most famously, a seam of amethyst can be clearly seen in the cliffs at Keem beach, Achill island. Not many Irish people are aware of what other gems lie beneath our feet.  Examples of what can be found include rock crystal in the South West, malachite and smithsonite in the West, beryl and calcite in the North West and pyrite in the midlands.
garnet earrings
Garnets are one of my favourite gemstones. There is something very luxurious about this richly coloured silicate mineral, especially when contrasted with cool silver. It does come in other colours besides claret, green grossular garnet being the most famous after red. 

Garnet is the birthstone for January and like many other gems, has a long tradition as a healing stone and has always been surrounded by myth. Once believed to protect soldiers in battle, the gem is often called 'the warrior stone.' You can read more in my previous post 'Garnets, Birthstone for January.'

Watch this space for part 2 featuring glass and some of it's forms.


More in this series:

A  B  C  (plus C for Crimping D E F  (plus F for Findings)