Sunday, October 23, 2016

No Interviews

My heartfelt apologies that the blog has come to an abrupt end. I suppose it is more due to the late start that I got, ad that I am not as organized this year. I have had little luck in having returned interviews, and I'm quite sad.

The wonderful artist, Desiree Rager Cook, will be my only interview during this series. So I will advertise her post more and more. I do appreciate that she was very willing to answer my questions in a very timely manner, and I cannot say how much that helps when you are on a schedule.

So... here is a quick view of her work again...
 What a wonderful Egyptian inspired collar by Desiree Rager Cook. It is done in turquoise, red and white beads, with a focal of
 Who doesn't love dragons? This is one of Ms Cook's cute bead sculptures, it could be a large pendant?
One of Desiree Rager Cook's specialties is body jewelry!
This piece is a spider on a web, just perfect for the The upcoming holiday!

This red dragon is wonderful, it took over 10,000 beads, and was made over the course of 9 weeks.

Please go to Ms Cook's website to see more work

or her Pinterest page:

Or her Facebook page:

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Manufacturing Jewelry--One of a Kind Pieces (OOAK) What is Your Opinion?

When we think about jewelry, we don't think about how it is made, not usually at least. Unless it says hand made, or One of a Kind, maybe we do, but for the most part, no one really considers how something is made today...
Is it someone in a back room, churning out one by one a collection of hand made items, or is it an artisan who is turning out real, one of a kind, no two alike, one item only?

Handmade, The only one like it... but not really OoaK
Sometimes, the OoaK name is kind of confusing... because it can be attached to an item that is actually being mass produced, but since it is different than the last one... made by hand, but still mass produced... it can be a bit tricky to find out the truth.
Now, this is one of a kind!

There is creating a true one of a kind, and then there is churning out one after another of the same, slightly different, handmade-but-half-not so much hand made... pieces...

Is using a die or a punch changing the scape of jewelry making for individuals?  Should it matter that someone uses a mechanical object to turn out a piece of jewelry?

Last year, I asked a number of people to answer the question about what they consider metalwork...
Unique, but not really one of a kind
Overwhelmingly, most people did not consider any type of wire work to be metalwork... nor did they change their minds when the question was more narrowed to: If the person melts their own silver, pours it themselves, pulls their own wire, and uses it to create a piece of jewelry... are they considered metalworkers.... And the answer was overwhelmingly, NO.

Why is that?
One of a kind? Yes, and no...

I also asked the question to a group: Is using a mold actually being a metalworker?

Overwhelmingly... the answer was NO.

Why is that?
Narrow the question down to ... if the person carves their own wax, creates their own mold, melts their own silver/gold, pours the metal into the mold, takes it out and cleans it.... are they metal workers?
Overwhelmingly... the people that were opposed in the first place still said ... NO.
What is the reason behind this notion?

No one could really put their finger on the reason... but one person answered that the wax wasn't even real wax... and that they were just mass producing.

OK, so... where does it stop?
I mean, when does creating a one of a kind object become NOT one of a kind?

mold by Penny Jo Couch, not one of a kind by me...
The Year of Jewelry project taught me that I can make one of a kind items if I really try hard, but even at that, I used a mold made by Penny Jo Couch to make a few items... I made hummingbird brooches.  Each one was one of a kind, each with different coloration, each with a bit of

manipulation here and there... but...
They weren't one of a kind.

I make a lot of brooches, each one cut by hand, each one etched seperately, each one finished by hand, nothing but a polishing wheel on the flex shaft... in my little hand, cleaning it up and polishing it up... maybe a torch to give some color, or enamel, or maybe even ink?

So, I'm not creating one of a kind really then, am I?

But each is different, each has personality of it's own, and I love the way each has a variance in color or cleanness.

Truly one of a kind... cuff bracelet
How do you feel about the one of a kind idea? Do you create any two pieces alike?

 Someone who has sat at a bench for many years is bound to have made more than one of any assortment of rings, pendants, etc...

Though all are handmade. Each piece is crafted to be unique.

What do you say?

Monday, October 10, 2016

Interview with ~Desiree Rager Cook~ Bead Artist

Yesterday, I wrote a very brief article about body jewelry, I love the idea of covering more than just the wrist, the neck, a bit of the ear… in jewelry.

I wanted to lead up to featuring this wonderful jewelry artist, Desiree Rager Cook. Her work is venturing into large body jewelry that is captivating.

Originally from Niagara Falls, NY, Ms. Cook moved to Alabama and attended High School and College there.

Beginning in 2006, Cook had a storefront in Birmingham, Jewel Tones Beads and an Etsy shop.  She has recently moved to Irvine, California.

Cook, who is a self-taught bead worker, began creating beadwork to relieve stress. Her earlier work is not jewelry, but she was taught how to make peyote stitch, and from there, her creativity took off. She learned how to start making jewelry.The results have been marvelous.
The work she has been working on is more on the larger scale,  she says that she likes to make things that are bold.

Ms Cook says she enjoys making Body Jewelry, those pieces that cover not only the neck, but the shoulders, chest, back and shoulders.  The jewelry is not standard but challenges her creatively. 

Other than making bead weaving, she  has also begun making bead embroidery which is elegant and intriguing. Her One of a Kind pieces include figures and she also uses bead weaving to make tapestries out of tiny seed beads, incorporating lace, metal and other objects. 

Pieces of her work have been shown in the Cathedral Square Gallery in Mobile, Alabama as well as having shown at the Hogansville Hummingbird Festival and other fairs in adjacent states. 

Since moving to California, she is starting over again, but it should be a wonderful new adventure!
Recently, she has worked with a professional photographer for a project she is working on with larger jewelry/costume pieces. I can't wait to see what is in store!

To find more of her work, there are several places to look, her website is at Jewel Tones.  Another site is on Instagram @jewel_tones  and on Facebook at Jewel Tones Beads

I asked her if she has any advice for someone just starting out in her area of work, and she replied...
"Keep working! If something doesn't turn out right, learn from it and keep working"

This is wonderful advice for everyday life, isn't it? This is how you work to perfection!

Cardinal by Desiree Rager

My website -
Instagram - @jewel_tones

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Body Jewelry

Body Jewelry... not something you think about often is it?  Most of us don't think about wearing something that will cover much of our body... maybe a large necklace... but how about a necklace from neck to navel? 
How about a bracelet that connects to your finger... or a hair comb that connects to your earring then to your nosering? Our guest tomorrow, Desiree Rager Cook,  shows that you can wear a necklace that covers more than just your neck, maybe your shoulder and back as well?

Or a necklace/belt combination?  I watched a lot of wedding videos while I was writing about Eastern jewelry, and so many of the Indian brides wear stunning, large, necklaces... but what really intrigued me was the chains and gems that are worn that attach from hair to ear to necklace...

Watching one bride have her jewelry applied... or attached if you will... made me think how difficult it would be to turn your head... or if someone came up to give you a hug and got their hair-sprayed coif caught in your beads... ouch! bye bye ear.

As a teen, I was enamored with slave bracelets. They were very exotic to me, and I had no idea of the reason they were called by that name. I'm still not sure, since they are not shackled to anything but your ring finger and your wrist... but I am sure there is a reason.

I suppose the belt/necklace is of the same idea...

Not a good example of body  jewelry
If you love jewelry, you will probably love the idea of wearing a huge necklace. Many times, large statement necklaces are not as out of place as people would think. The oversized jewelry can fit in with jeans as well as formal wear if it is chosen wisely.

A solid color such as a large gold or silver necklace would be wearable with jeans and a tshirt as well as a nice black dress.  Many people like bright colors as well to wear with casual wear. It is a matter of taste and no set rules as what can be worn. 

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Bracelets and Bangles

So much to be said about bracelets, but the truth of the matter is... there isn't enough time in the day for me to write everything down. So I've compacted what I know and what I love down into this page full of bracelets and bangles that I submit for your perusal.

Bracelets have been worn by women and men from before Ancient Egypt was born... there are archaeological excavations that are unearthing jewelry ranging from 3000 BCE. Bracelets happen to be among those pieces...

So what can I tell you that is new? Not much, but I can show some cool designs and share some interesting sites where you can see some of the beautiful ancient jewelry.

Bracelets are made from just about any material that you can lay your hands on, from wood, plastic, fiber/fabric, metal, to stone... there is nothing new under the sun that hasn't been turned into a wearable piece of arm jewelry.

I love making bracelets and cuffs out of vinyl records, those old scratched beyond using or broken records that I've collected over the years. Vinyl is easy to cut, easy to shape, and very sturdy, considering my records ended up broken... after manipulating the material, it seems to gain strength.

Red Bakelite bracelet
In the heyday of Bakelite jewelry, many bracelets of bright colors were made. I have a couple of examples of nice Bakelite, and some nice knockoffs. Acrylic has been a wonderful addition to material for bracelet making as well. Acrylic can be very sturdy and quite fashionable.

Silver twist bangle
metal of course has been used to make bangles and bracelets for eons it seems... the earliest forms of jewelry that survive are made of gold and have survived for thousands of years. Unless it is heated above 1948ºF it will not degrade the same as other metals, so the examples made in gold are still as beautiful as the day they were made. 

beadwork bracelets are a favorite of mine, and many are being made today that are fun to wear, or very fashionable.. even dare I say Chic?  made of glass beads mixed with crystals, semi precious jewels, and sometimes silk... they can be absolutely beautiful.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Recycled/Found Objects, and Oddity Jewelry

Using found objects in jewelry has become all the rage. October 8, 2015 I featured a prominent artist, Richard Salley, who uses found objects in his work.  His work is amazing and beautiful. It is a wonderful example of thinking out of the box when it comes to design.

Some of the items he uses are lunch boxes, jar lids, and odds and ends you might find out on a walk. I made the bracelet to the right at one of his classes, which was fun and interesting. I loved that there were no set rules... except for measuring, cutting and drilling... the rest was up to you to decide what you wanted to add.

cuff bracelet inspired by Richard Salley
 For my piece, I used a vintage button for the focal... held in place with a bezel of a baby food jar lid, there is also some wire, some acrylic flowers, rhinestone head pins, and the clasp is something I found in the scrapbook section at Michael's...

 The piece is clunky, funky and fun to wear. I think that is a lot of what jewelry should be. Especially the fun to wear part.

pendant from Kim St Jean class
The craving for something that is handmade, maybe one of a kind, and fun to wear is what has spurred the business of jewelry making in the past few years. Bead & Button shows and Beadfest events are drawing crowds of faithful followers who create their own pieces and crave more classes to learn new skills.

I have attended some of the events, at first just as a lark, I just wanted to see what they were doing... I got hooked! The jewelry you can make ranges from beaded to some pretty intense stone setting and sawwork. 

I created a few pieces over the years that were directly inspired by the work of some of the teachers, like Kim St. Jean, Jeff
Fulkerson, and
vinyl brooch
  Gwen Fuller Youngblood.  They inspired me to explore using different types of metals, and not simply believing that you had to use conventional methods to achieve your goal.

brass, polymer clay, and glass beads

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Rings: Diamonds or Otherwise.

Still on types of jewelry... today is rings... something we don't think about.  Not really think about anyway.

I mean, we all love rings, you don't have to be male or female... a ring is one of those pieces of jewelry that is gender-less and forever popular.

So many rings, so little time... I won't bore you with 20 pages of ring history, but I want to get to a few types of rings that are worn by both genders that are very popular, and a few that aren't..

Rings throughout history are symbols of faithfulness, unity, eternity, and so forth. The unending circle is such a strong symbol, most religions use it to exemplify unity.

There is such an emotional attachment when rings are exchanged. That made me think back to an article I read a while back, called "What is a Diamond Worth?-Piggybacking Value on Emotion, by Hitesh Khandelwal on LinkedIn, July 26, 2014.   
Very nice article about the sentimentality of a piece of jewelry... It doesn't have to be just the diamond that the value is piggybacked to the value of any ring.

 The ring itself is more the thought in  buying it, choosing because it is the 'right' one, Then the emotional, surprised, receiver of the ring, is so very overwhelmed in the act, that immediately there is an attachment to it. 
When I was young and in love, my then boyfriend proposed with a double golden Tiger's Eye set in a silver mounting, along with a necklace, bracelet and earrings to match.
I loved that set, I knew he picked it out for a very specific reason, and it meant a lot to me. I wore it instead of the diamond he bought me for many years. Later on, I added to the collection with other rings and necklaces with that stone,  pieces that complimented the set in some way,  so I have never lost that attachment to the ring.  

Rings aren't just given as a symbol of love, over the centuries, they have been worn as talisman, as reminders of family, as simply a beautiful decoration. Dinner rings fall under that category. They don't have to be expensive to be beautiful and fun to wear. 
Many wear semi-precious stones or quartz of some type and can be mixed with diamonds or cubic zirconia to create the look of lavish taste. The larger the piece, the more fun it is to wear. And don't get me wrong, women aren't the only ones who wear dinner rings. 

Throughout the ages, men have worn lavish rings as well. Kings and courtiers have worn magnificent, large rings to show wealth, later on, performers such as Liberace and Sean Combs, Elvis Presley, DJ Khaled, and even Brad Pitt.

Joe Theisman's rings Washington
It isn't just performers, it's sports idols as well, like Michael Jordan, but that brings us to another type of ring, large and full of bling... The playoff rings that sports top players receive for making it big. Major League Baseball, Basketball, and Football, Hockey, Nascar and Indy racing all give rings for winning the finals in their respective leagues.

No one has done it better than the Dallas Cowboys when it comes to rings.. Charles Haley won three with the Cowboy Team, after winning two with the 49ers.  That makes a total of five (that's 5) rings... so when he wears them... they make some serious bling. 
Neal Dahlen actually holds the record for the most Superbowl rings, at a whopping 7. His were not from playing, but from being on the Staff and as Player Personnel (San Francisco) and as General Manager (Denver). 

Men and women share similar rings from  graduating High School, there are a variety of class rings that may be purchased, or you can have one made by a local jeweler. If you have a personalized ring made by a jeweler, you can have any style possible... there are a number of styles you can choose from  companies, like Balfour that specialize in Class rings. 
  Other companies like  Zales, and even Walmart offer these type rings.

College graduation brings more rings, though more people skip that tradition, maybe because at the end of college you are so broke? Though graduates at some of the top schools in the country are proud to wear the symbol of the University from which they have graduated.

Edward the Confessor and famed ring
Signet rings have been worn for many, many centuries. the word Signet comes from the Latin word Signatus, which means marked, sealed or signed.  Many signet rings were worn by nobility, had engraved on the face, the symbol of that house. 
Thus, when a document was signed and sealed, the ring was set into the wax, to make the print of the ring. Very cleaver when a symbol needed to be issued so everyone would be able to 'read' the document as authentic.  The Signet would have been engraved in reverse so that the imprint would have been shown in the correct way. 

 The Lord Chancellor usually made sure the ring was kept safe, the King would wear it during matters of state, such as treaties and an appointment to an office. 

It is said that the signet was first used by Edward the Confessor, as far back as the mid 1000s. However, recorded use of a seal used by a King was in Daniel, 6:17. 

The Hebrew word Hotam and the Greek word, Sphragis were used interchangably in the ancient world, the definition is: To seal shut, or to seal shut.  

Even further back were the Egyptian Pharoes, who used a signet Even back as far as Genesis 10:10 the tool was mentioned. It is believed that the forerunner of the ring was a cylindrical stamp that came from Uruk, as early as around 3500BC. 

Edward II was known for bring the signet into full use, with every paper had to have a symbol of the great seal or the privy seal. 

Men who had been given the grant to bear heraldic arms in the middle ages, had to have a signet, so that the papers they bore would have the seal of their office. 

The procedure of placing a seal was used for more than 600 years. It grew in favor during the 1600s, the use was changed in the mid 1800s and instead become used for sealing letters and personal papers.




 Pritchard-Barrett, Bella. Signets and Cyphers, The History of Signet Rings.  retrieved October 7, 2016 from:

Scripture Backdrops, Relavant Historical Insights into Scripture, Signet Rings. Retrieved October 7, 2016, from:

The Art of Ancient Egypt, Revised by Robins, 272 Pages, Pub. 2008