Process

News, Custom Orders, Process

February is Fabulous

Exciting things are happening around here! First, I am pleased to announce that Steinen Jewelry has just been listed as one of ten perfect Valentine's Day gifts on Unlocking Litchfield, a new blog covering food, fashion, fitness, and fun in Litchfield County.

Lora wearing Avellana and Beverly with Craspedia.

Bloggers Lora Warnick and Beverly Canepari stopped by my studio a few weeks back to learn more about my work and to photograph a few of their favorite pieces. It was a nice treat to link up with other creative professionals in the area and to hear about their latest celebrity encounters. They also gave me a quick tutorial on how to use my Instagram account, @steinenjewelry, so I have been trying my hand at tagging and hashtagging. Thank you, ladies!

Gentle reminder: Valentine's Day is only ten days away. Use code VALENTINE at checkout for 15% off all jewels before 2/14. Order by Tuesday to ensure on-time delivery.

A New Year brings new projects while wrapping up the loose ends of a few older ones. Last fall I attended a gem and jewelry show in Marlborough, MA in search of the latest and greatest stones for my holiday jewels. I also had a mission of finding just the right beads to complement an antique Chinese pendant for which a customer wanted a matching opera-length necklace. I found just what I was looking for - small, natural red coral tube-shaped beads and faceted gold-filled beads. After the rush of the holidays, I turned my attention to finishing the custom order. I freshened up the gold-plating with some liquid gilding, strung up the necklace, and mailed it off, but not before snapping a few photos along the way. If you've been thinking about placing a custom order, now is a good time - after the holidays and before the spring arts and crafts fairs.

So that was wrapping up last year, "but what's new in the new year?" you ask. Clasps! I have brushed off my metalsmithing tools and am boning up on knowledge to begin creating my own clasps. It's going to be a bit of a transition before they make it onto new pieces headed out the door, but I wanted to give you all a sneak peak at my progress. They are brushed metal toggles. I'll keep you posted...

Other Natural Materials, Process, New Inventory

Two Peas in a Spiky Pod

Earlier this year I posted about how and why I have begun incorporating natural materials other than stones (e.g. horn, bone, wood, and seeds) into my pieces. I’ve been continuing this trend in recent months and wanted to share with you my love of the nickernut seed.
Also called bugbog seeds, eaglestones, or sea beans, because they float and wash up on beaches, gray nickernuts come from a tropical, leguminous shrub commonly called the warri tree. These dove gray seeds have subtle lines around them similar to wood grain. They are hollow, extremely lightweight, and carry a subtle beauty.

 

My excitement over these little nuggets of goodness goes back a few years to an early spring day when I was traveling along a local highway that winds along a river (Route 8 for you Connecticut folks). As I accelerated up the on-ramp, I noticed the most amazing juxtaposition of colors created by the exposed light gray rock ledge that lined one edge of the roadway and the fresh, verdant flora beginning to show itself in patches along the rocks. I immediately thought, “I want to make a necklace with that!”

When I returned to my studio, the gray stones I had just didn’t look good with the green stones in my inventory. Two other gray stones, cat’s eye and labradorite were both too cool and silvery in hue – leaning toward blue, in the case of labradorite, and green for cat’s eye. I didn’t give up hope but decided to table the idea until the proper color combination revealed itself.

 

Fast-forward to this spring and my search for lightweight, natural materials, and voila! I discovered that the nickernut seed provides exactly the color I've been searching for. When I saw pictures of them perfectly nestled as a pair in that spooky, spiky pod, I was in love. They are downright a.d.o.r.a.b.l.e in their pods!

What about that green and gray necklace?, you ask. It sold quickly, but there is a new incarnation, Clethra, up on the website that incorporates golden horn and keshi pearls to create a perfect triumvirate of color that will complement so many outfits and necklines. A very classic combination.

Vitus, a.k.a. the "highway" necklace, has sold.

Process

Orderly Design

I don't often blog about my jewelry-making process, but as I prepare for an upcoming open studio tour, where the emphasis is on process not product, I find myself reflecting upon and documenting the way I work. I am a very detail-oriented artist, as many of you know, and I hope this is a significant reason why my customers are drawn to my work and keep coming back for more. Here's a little slice of my meticulous world...

I am making ten bracelets for a bride-to-be and her bridesmaids. Several months ago, after she explained the color palette of her wedding and her stylistic interests, I had a strong sense of what I wanted to create for her big day. I researched the stones and emailed her some photos.

I wrote:    "Hola!    I think something with a touch of complimentary color would be gorgeous. These drops are only 7-8mm long - tiny. This pic is of just the beads. Along with some pearls and/or crystals and a simple clasp, I think they would be dainty but beautiful.    I welcome your thoughts…"

I wrote:

"Hola!

I think something with a touch of complimentary color would be gorgeous. These drops are only 7-8mm long - tiny. This pic is of just the beads. Along with some pearls and/or crystals and a simple clasp, I think they would be dainty but beautiful.

I welcome your thoughts…"

I continued:    "This gives you a general idea..."    

I continued:

"This gives you a general idea..."

 

I love the ombre effect of this strand of peach moonstone faceted briolettes.

I love the ombre effect of this strand of peach moonstone faceted briolettes.

The bride was on board, so I went about the business of finding enough lovely peach moonstones to make nine bracelets (the tenth was requested later). I decided upon this strand (right) on Etsy. I counted beads on my computer screen several times to get a good idea of how many briolettes I could expect in the mail and did the math to see what their spacing would need to be to make nine bracelets. I knew I was cutting it close, but I went for it.

I also ordered some Swarovski crystals and noted how many small pearls I had in stock. I ordered some magnetic clasps that really lived up to their name, Crazy Strong Magnetic Clasp, and decided against them when they arrived. To undo the clasp would have risked breaking the bracelet, so I opted for some delicate toggles instead.

 
The "Crazy Strong Magnetic Clasp" - thumbs down

The "Crazy Strong Magnetic Clasp" - thumbs down

Flat braid toggle clasp - thumbs up

Flat braid toggle clasp - thumbs up

I had promised the bride a peek at the first bracelet before I made the remaining eight. Because of the varying shades of peach, and my interests in having all of the bracelets be identical, I had to sort the entire strand of beads by tint (lightness) before I could make the first bracelet. Once I knew exactly how many moonstones would be on each bracelet, I had to recount my pearls because I opted against the cream-colored, of which I had an abundant supply, in favor of peach-colored, of which my supply looked meager.

After several iterations to perfect the length, I added my signature tag, finished off the clasp, and shot a quick photo with my phone to text to the bride for approval.  She loved it!! In fact, she asked for one more....