Category Archives: gifts

Pass It On . . . and On . . . and On

It’s not a surprise to anyone who knows me that I like to teach. I tend to grab most any “teachable moment” whether you want me to or not. With adults, I try to curb my appetite for devouring those moments, but little children need to beware!

I’ve truly enjoyed the two jewelry classes that I taught last week, one in Wimberley, TX and the other in San Marcos. I worked with seven women as they learned to make a wrap bracelet in Wimberley and then four more who worked on wrapping cabachons. I enjoyed hearing from the first group about who some of them planned to pass their bracelet to as a gift. I regret not getting a photo of that group, but note the happy intensity on the faces of the second.

cabs girls

It’s common for someone to ask a designer ideas come from. I have no doubt that many of mine come during preparation for teaching. I think that is why it takes me so long to get ready to teach a class. There’s something about this pre-planning that gets my creative juices flowing. I used to fight this urge, trying to stay on task, but now I just go with it. I do, however, have to resist my propensity to want to teach the new idea instead of that which was designated for the class. I just keep wanting to pass it on.

As an example, a couple of gals came over for a little assistance in starting their journey into soldering with a torch. They hardly got off the ranch before I was cutting and planning the piece below. Yes, I know it’s a bit bird-like, but it wasn’t planned that way – oh well, it’s definitely different!


I’ve also done a new soldered design that someone on Facebook suggested is Bohemian. The legs on this piece are soldered to the bottom half of the arc and then wire wrapped. I was tickled that the very first sale of this went to my good friend who often calls and says “is the Dreamcatcher Designs shop open?”  (Of course you know I don’t have a shop!) Sometimes she just runs out to the ranch and gets what she needs. This piece was gifted from her to a co-friend of ours and I’m pleased for her to have it. Do you think you can wear “Bohemian” at the Lutheran Church?


As you read, many things, both concrete and ideational, were passed on last week. From teacher to student, student to teach and friend to friend. I think life was very productive.

I Know Who Moved My Cheese


I’m preparing for a few art/craft shows in the Fall and thought I would get a jump on making some small, inexpensive items that could be stocking stuffers. Last year, I made a healthy number of wire bookmarks. There were wire cats. dogs and rabbits. This year I had visions of other wire animals hanging from the shepherd’s hook bookmarks. I was happily working on these when I happened to glance across and see my husband who was reading. Then it hit me. Someone moved my cheese!

If you are not familiar with this phrase, it is derived from the title of the 1998 book by Kenneth Blanchard  Who Moved My Cheese? ( Companies and educational groups bought this book by the dozens and used it to make employees cognizant of the fact that times are changing and we need to be prepared to learn new skills and to problem solve. Many of us who were “encouraged” to read the book felt we could have gotten the idea with a simple memo, but hopefully it made a difference to others. The full-day workshops on the topic were a bit much.

My “cheese” realization” came when I noted that my husband was engrossed in a book on his IPAD II and no longer needed a bookmark. With the onslaught of electronic readers, I had to rethink the number of bookmarks I might need this year. Many of my friends and customers who are readers no longer need bookmarks.

It was fortuitous that I realized I might not need so many bookmarks this year before I made a hoard of them. I garnered my bookmark energy and set out to find something else small that I could offer at the art shows. I’m currently working on a few very small pendants/charms that could go on a chain, bracelet or a BOOKMARK.  (Surely, that cheese didn’t all move away.) Unfortunately, these little things take a bit longer to make, but I’m sure I will get faster as I make more and more.

tags The charms with a religious theme might work well combined on a bracelet or simply as a single charm attached to a beaded bracelet. Surely something will hatch before long.

In the meantime, I’ll be making just a few new bookmarks and trying to pay close attention to any other cheese that has been moved since last season. Of course, it would certainly be exciting if I had a clue what customers want ahead of time. But where would be the fun in that??? I’ve just got to follow the cheese, but in the meantime it’s important just to realize that it moved.

Commissioned Pieces

I recently had the fortunate experience of making some special jewelry as a gift. Although the request came from someone I do not know well, the gift was for someone I do know well. This made it much easier. The unique thing about this commissioned work was that the only parameters were to create something the recipient would like within the price range given. Since I know which pieces of my jewelry the person receiving the gift already has, I was able to make something she would not have seen before. It was also fortunate that the giver trusted me and there was no need to email preliminary photos back and forth. Below is a picture of the recipient wearing her new sterling silver and rodochrosite jewelry.

cynthia I regret the photographer didn’t show her pretty face with the pieces, so you’ll just have to trust me that she’s a pretty lady. She doesn’t wear many bracelets, possibly because she is a musician and choral director. We wouldn’t want some bracelet to go flying into the choir as she makes a grand motion. That’s why this bracelet has a firm clasp. You can also see that she has a relatively small wrist and custom pieces for her size are a necessity. It was good that I knew all this information prior to making her pieces; otherwise I might have made a dangling bracelet that could have gone flying as she directed.

I guess that what I’m trying to say is that it’s a really good idea to find out all you can if you are asked to make a special piece. Along with inquiring about what colors, stones and metals the person likes, the person’s style, size and even occupation and hobbies might be important. I’m pleased that the recipient of these pieces is happy with them.

Everything’s Comin’ Up . . .

. . . hearts! Many of us have struggled this week to get back in to some semblance of a routine post holiday. While pondering this difficulty, I realized that the stores are beginning to thinking Valentine’s Day. This always sneaks up on me because January is so full of family birthdays. Well, not this year! I’m going to be ready for Valentine’s Day.

I’ve spent some time the last several days making heart earrings. heartplain First they were quite plain, although I tried to give them slightly different shapes.

heartsplus Next, I fancied a few pair by adding beads. Pearls, garnet chips and something red helped these get dressed up.

heartsplotch1Finally, last night I got a bit carried away with the alcohol inks. (No! I wasn’t drinking them.) They adhere nicely to the copper and polka dots seemed to add a little twist here. I also did a pair with double hearts soldered to each other, but that photo refused to work.  Now I’m thinking of all the shapes that could handle these polka dots in various colors. Let’s see there are butterflies and balls and . . .

Several of these could easily be turned into pendants or minified to become charms. I can see a necklace in particular out of the pair in the first picture that has pearl and garnet chips wired across the middle.

I enjoyed working these out in copper and am now considering going for it in sterling silver. We’ll just have to wait and see if anything hatches with that wire. Perhaps there’s more to come.

Charming: Another Word for Sharing

I have previously mentioned a group with which I meet once a month. We get together and share ideas about working with wire and other materials for jewelry design. Although I’m not a “joiner”, I really enjoy this group and we’ve met together for over a year without any big arguments. That’s probably because we are a “faux” society. We have no rules, no officers, no dues and no big events to plan. This is probably why we get along so well.

We decided to exchange charms for Christmas. Rather than the usual exchange by designers where participants bring one thing and leave with someone else’s piece, we brought a charm for each person. I walked away with 12 different charms. Some were wired while others were soldered creating an array of very different looking objects. It was fun to see how each person approached the task of making charms in her own unique way.

I used the charms on the necklace shown here. They hang from copper tubing purchased at the hardware store. The charms are separated in a few places by larger copper tubing cut into small links. Without these pieces and the extra wire wrappings all the charms sat right on top of one another and refused to show their personality.

charm from Faux The tubing hangs from several types of fibers including yarn, silk cord and ribbon. I also attached a small copper chain. These hang down in the back where the closure is a handmade hook and oval. You may have seen something similar to this piece (minus the wonderful charms) in a recent beading magazine.

It’s fun to wear this piece and look down at the charms. I know who made each one and the piece reminds me that we are all so unique; yet, we can come together and make a beautiful whole.

After the experience of sharing with this group and creating this piece, I read about a group where each person contributed to necklaces that traveled around the world. The latest Belle Armoire Jewelry, Winter 2011 shares Around the World: A Necklace Round-Robin starting on page 24. I gleaned from the article that each participant started a necklace, creating several inches, and then mailed it to the next person. Individuals added specified lengths to each necklace when it arrived. The gals also kept a blog or journal about what they were adding and how it was created. In the end, each person received a necklace that had been “around the world” having traveled to several different countries. Pictures of these necklace show them to be as eclectic as mine above.

There are so many ways to share this time of year. Christmas, hopefully, brings out the best in all of us. The simple sharing of your talent is priceless. Whether you share a visual art form, the gift of gab, the sound of your music or a simple glow that makes others feel good, we all seem to feel better when we give and share.

Yesterday, as I left the nursing home where my mother resides, one of the aides waved at me and said he hoped I got everything I wanted for Christmas. You know, I couldn’t think of a thing I really wanted except healthy and happy friends and family. When I told him that, he knowingly smiled and understood. I wish the same for all of you.

Merry Christmas!

Raining Cats and Dogs

We weren’t really expecting a storm last night, but we weren’t in charge of the weather. First the lightening blessed us with enough brightness that sleep was tough. Then the thunder joined it. Consider the auditory experience of thunder followed by one fearful dog outside yelping and another puppy thinking it must be time to play in the middle of the night. These two were then joined by two more who barked simply because they didn’t know why the others were up. I’ll bet you’ve heard this at your house although I hope you have a few less dogs to chime in.

Finally, I let the scared dog in so she would quit barking. This of course caused the others to bark because they also wanted in. Eventually, thinking all was in order with the fearful animal beside the bed, I went back to sleep. Alas, once the dog was comforted, she realized she was hungry and commenced to eat out the bottom of the dog food sack in the laundry room adding a new auditory dimension. Eventually, the dog quieted and the thunder subsided just in time for the rain to begin falling on our tin roof. Are you getting the idea.

As I fussed with my dog in the house, I could only imagine the other folks who were probably doing the same thing. I have at least two friends whose dogs don’t like thunder. Those women probably have bags under their eyes today just as I do. Oh well, we DID need the rain . . . but I wish we’d gotten more than 1/2 inch.

It’s amusing that I spent my design hours last evening making cats and dogs (and the occasional rabbit). Was it a premonition?  Who knows, but I’m not making any tonight because I really need some sleep.

By the way, the critters in the picture are bookmarks. My cousin suggested bookmarks might be a nice item around Christmas. I’ve been making the cats for several weeks, but just figured out the dog and the bunny. The animal fits in the book and the tail hangs over the book spine. I will put them on cards to give as gifts. Let me know if you need any. I can’t seem to get them made fast enough to put in my etsy shop.

Raining cats and dogs . . . let’s have a night of silence on this date or in lieu thereof, could we get a couple of inches? cats and dogs