I Have No Reason To Complain…

fallleavesWow-we are supposed to have Autumn here in New England USA, but it has felt like anything but!  With temperatures today near 80 degrees, it has felt more like August than Fall!  I have no reason to complain.

As I contemplate the change in seasons, I have a mixture of emotions. I live in this part of the country because I do enjoy the change in seasons, however, I mourn over the passing of the previous season.  I love summertime, with all of the beautiful birds, sunshine, long lazy days, and even the heat.  I love having the sunshine late into the evening, and early in the morning.  I love that you see your neighbors out and about, and you hear the children playing outdoors.  I have no reason to complain.

Now that Autumn is here, all but a few of the birds have migrated south, the vegetable garden is finished, and the leaves are dropping from the trees.  Because of our dry weather this year, the leaves are not turning as bright as usual, so our color change will not be as spectacular as last year.  The oddly warm weather makes you still think of summer, but the shorter days are at odds with this feeling.  I have no reason to complain.

And yes–it is busy season!  I work in a school as a music therapist and my jewelry making time has been limited.  The issue with this, is that it is also my busy show season!  I have had to plan ahead, and be sure that I spent my summer freedom wisely, creating enough inventory for the crazy holiday season.  I have no reason to complain!

I am extremely lucky this year, however.  I do not live in an area that has been devastated by hurricanes and other natural disasters.  Some colleagues have no school to go back to work in, and fellow jewelers have lost their entire studios, their tools, and their inventory to these disasters.  I HAVE NO REASON TO COMPLAIN!  

To all the people whose work has been affected by the terrible disasters this year, I wish you healing, I wish for your speedy recovery back to “normal” and I hope you are up and running better than ever very soon.

If you would like to help a jeweler who has been affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma–and also the wildfires out West, A GoFundMe page has been set up to accept donations.  They are halfway to their goal!  Please consider helping!

 

Author: Lynne Patnode

Lynne Patnode is the artist-owner of SilverSpiral Creations–Nature Inspired Jewelry with Beautiful Stones.

So You Want Me to Make You Custom Jewelry?

Amethyst Stone

Amethyst Teardrop Stone

What an Honor! And I am Frightened!

A few months ago, A friend and coworker approached me with three amethyst gems that she has had in her bureau drawer for 19 years.

 

She wanted me to make her something special, as these gems were sentimental and special to her. She went on to say she wanted the big one to be a bracelet, and one of the smaller ones into a ring.  The third stone could become anything–so I suggested perhaps a small pendant.

I don’t know about you, but I get a little bit nervous when creating a custom piece of jewelry, especially when your customer entrusts you with a very important stone or gem that means a lot to them.  All sorts of scenarios go through my head such as–what happens if the stone breaks?  What if I go through all the work and expense of designing and creating a piece, and they hate it?  What if I lose the gem?  What if, what if, what if?

Larimar Ring

Custom Larimar Ring-Stone provided by Customer

So where do I start when someone asks for a custom order?  In many cases, my customer knows what s/he is looking for, and will actually rough sketch a design idea.  This makes things easier, however, there are some instances where the idea won’t work in real life. For example, a very big heavy pair of stones will not work well as dangle earrings, because of the weight. Another example would be that a certain setting style won’t work with a stone that is not flat on the bottom.  And of course, the hardness, shape and size of a stone that would fit into a bracelet (Bracelets have a high probability of getting “banged up” so a stone should have a reasonable hardness to it).

Rose Quartz Custom Bracelet

Custom Bracelet made as a gift for a young woman fighting cancer

So my job is very clear in these cases–I modify the design to make it “function”  as close as possible to what my customer asked for–and I do it in a sketch BEFORE fabricating the piece. Usually, we make a few more modifications, and the design is born.  This technique has so far worked very well for both the customer and me.

Sometimes, a customer will give me a stone, and tell me “You are the artist, surprise me!”  Boy–does that scare me.  In these cases, I do try to elicit a little more information—so I might ask them to send me a picture of their favorite piece of jewelry.  With today’s cell phones, sending a photo is easy–and most people love to do it.

This at least gives me a sense of what style they like.  I will certainly get wrist sizes, necklace lengths, and ring sizes before making a piece.  I will often sketch an idea and ask the customer to approve it.Custom Nautilus Earrings

Back to the Amethysts.  My friend and customer wanted me to just design something for her.  So I hung on to those stones for quite some time (she wasn’t in a hurry, after all she has had the stones for 19 years), until the right inspiration struck me.  This is the perfect case, because there was no pressure.  And when the inspiration struck, I created the bracelet!  I still have the ring and pendant to make–but stylistically, I know what I want to do now.  Incidentally–she LOVES the bracelet!  Amethyst Custom Bracelet

But what happens if something goes wrong?  I have a friend who is a jeweler, who told me that she received a special stone from someone who said it was given to her by her mother who had since passed away.  My jeweler friend rendered the design with approval from the customer, and as she was making it, the stone broke in the setting. What a nightmare!  In this case the customer was forgiving, but these things do happen.  You cannot replace someone’s sentimental stone. So I am very aware of the responsibility being given to me.

I know of other stories where a customer provided a special stone, only to hate the design when it was finished.  This has not happened to me (yet), but there IS a chance that a jeweler’s intuition for a design is not in line with what the customer had in mind.   This is why communication is so important.  But let’s face it–a rough sketch has many issues.  You can’t always get the idea of “scale” (size) from a sketch.  That pair of earrings may be way longer than the customer thought, or that pendant was so much bigger than what they wanted.  That wide band ring might not fit over the knuckles.  These are all considerations and things that can go so very wrong.

Guitar Pic Locket

A custom locket made for a customer who wanted to store guitar pics while he performed. This customer wanted to put in their own jewels—this was quite the project!

Locket#2b

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So I am honored when someone trusts me with a custom order.  I am also nervous and scared that it won’t go as planned.  But I also know that through good communication, continuous updates, and perseverance will help both me and my customer get exactly the piece of jewelry they want.

 

Here are 6 things to consider when asking a jeweler to make you a custom piece with a special gem or stone:

 

  • Provide the jeweler with the stone (either in person, or online) before discussing the design.
  • Make sure you communicate clearly what you want to have designed for you, including the design you want.  Provide a rough sketch if possible.
  • Discuss with your jeweler the feasibility of the design in protecting your precious stone.
  • Provide a generous amount of time for the jeweler to get your piece finished.  Pressure on a jeweler can be a recipe for a less than inspired design, or for mistakes to be made. If you do have a deadline, be very specific, and allow time for mailing if necessary.
  • Ask the jeweler about policies for deposits on custom work.  Are they refundable?  What if the stone is broken, what is the restitution for that?  Ask up front about lost or broken stones the customer provides.
  • Provide the jeweler with your best way to communicate–phone, text, email or messenger? Which one will you check the most to provide a quick answer to a jeweler’s question. When a jeweler is in creation mode, you want to be able to answer his/her questions quickly.
  • Tell the jeweler specifics about your needs.  For example, if ordering a wide-band ring–do you have large knuckles? Are you sure about your ring size?  Many stone rings cannot be easily re-sized once completed.  Do you have issues with heavy earrings?  Do you know what chain length you want for your necklace?  Do you have trouble opening and closing clasps?  What is your wrist size for a bracelet?

 

Lynne Patnode of SilverSpiral Creations makes original custom jewelry upon request.  If you would like to order a custom piece, please feel free to make your request here

If you would like to view one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces that are available for sale, you can visit her ETSY Store

 

 

 

 

 

Clean Living and Renewal

Winery in France

Winery in Sessel, France

Sometimes-you have to go away and do something really different.

I am lucky enough to have friends who live in the French Alps.  They live in a remote village of 60 or so people many who have grown and lived there all of their lives.  This village is one of many in the region, separated by rich farmland and vineyards with tiny winerys attached to them.

The charm of these villages is unsurpassed.  Everywhere you turn, there is a nook and cranny that is interesting, with ancient hardware, giant wooden doors, old classic vehicles long abandoned with flowers growing around them, and gardens everywhere. featured-blog-france1

They don’t believe in using chemicals of any kind on their gardens or lawns, yet the vegetables are beautiful, and do not have many issues with disease or mold.  If a problem does come up with the garden,  they use organic means to combat the problem.  YellowSpider

Very little English is spoken here.  I never studied French in school, so I worked hard on my own before coming to France—studying the language to be able to carry on short conversations, to understand, and be understood.  I have to admit, I was only partially successful.  I was naive in thinking that the people on the French Language tapes sounded like the people in a region with a strong Bugey accent.  But we got on!

 

I found the people more than welcoming here.  The clean living, beautiful views, fabulous wine, and quiet lifestyle are a real contrast to the fast pace and busy-ness of the Northeast United States.  There is no choice here except to slow down.LAC1

Yesterday, I found myself in a beautiful garden with Gil, who quickly became a good friend.  Even with my very poor French, we got on, discussing the vegetables while picking string beans together.  She took me down a wooded path where she explained that as a child, she walked to school—literally over the river and through the woods.  The water in the stream was so clean and clear.  Lily Pad in France

Then I realized as we walked that we were not bothered by flying insects! No mosquitos, gnats, or black flies or ticks.  It was actually a pleasure to walk through these woods.  There are no screens on the windows in the gite we stayed in—no need.

This lifestyle is in such contrast to mine-and I love it.  I feel as if I have gone back in time, yet I have all of the modern amenities of today. (Yes I have internet).

Don’t get me wrong, I love my life in New England, but to go and immerse in a bucolic setting with clean living, clean food, clean water and clean air—THAT is a privilege I have been lucky enough to experience.

To see Nature’s beauty at its finest—to remind myself to slow down, refresh and renew.

And I will tuck this place into my soul for those days when I will need to go back and remember.

Full Moon over Village

What’s in YOUR Jewelry Box?

What's in your jewelry boxHave you looked through your jewelry box lately?  Scary, Isn’t it?   Like most women, I have a lot of old jewelry stored in my jewelry box. Some of it hasn’t seen the light of day in years!

I challenge you to open yours and look through it!  Have you ever thought about the life story your jewelry box tells about you?

 

For example, I have some old chain necklaces that were given to me by my Grandmother–

old jewelry

they are now hopelessly out of style, and not expensive, but each time I pick one of them up, I am transported back to the day she gave it to me–the sights, the scents, the sounds, the colors, and I see her again. And I see me, at a different time and place in my life. For that moment, I have an emotional connection that goes beyond words. My memories are good ones and she was such an important part of my life. So even if I don’t wear them now, I will never give them up.

 

What about those silly pieces of jewelry your children made for you in Scouts, summer camp or the third grade?  Suddenly, I see my children when they are little, and their proud faces as they presented me with their creations, as clear as if it had just happened today.

boy giving jewelry

Smiling child handing over a handmade pasta necklace to be a gift for his mum.

Ah Yes—and then there were the jewelry phases we all went through–usually at a time when we were absolutely broke–we bought bangles that turned our wrists green, earrings that have scary looking metals, and “GEMS” that have scratched, or look so fake, you wonder what the heck you were thinking? At the time, they looked beautiful! But oh–what fun they were back then! I remember how sophisticated I thought we all were with our “fine” trendy jewelry!  Can’t throw them away–those were our younger days, after all. It would be like throwing away your youth.

And then there are the pieces of jewelry your old boyfriends or girlfriends gave you, maybe your first “real” love?

friendship jewelry

Somehow, it is hard to part with those, even when the relationship went so horribly wrong. There is nothing like the feeling of when you first fall in love, so how can you possibly throw away such memories?

 

Of course, you may have your mother’s or grandmother’s jewelry that you inherited. In some cases, the styles are actually coming back, but–oh no! They have those pinch back earrings, and they hurt to wear them! Can they be converted for pierced ears? We must keep them just in case! Not to mention the fact that by throwing them out, you are throwing away a part of your family!

I realize now, that it is NOT just a jewelry box. It is my life, in all of its stages. The good, the bad, and the ugly. The fact that my jewelry box is disorganized is not lost on me. In my creative life, I am messy and somewhat disorganized. So is my jewelry box. AND I AM KEEPING ALL OF IT!

vintage box of jewelry

What’s in YOUR jewelry box?

Lynne Patnode is a jewelry artist who designs and creates art jewelry from Nature’s most beautiful stones and sterling silver.  You can find her pieces in her Etsy Shop.

 

 

Why is Handmade Jewelry So Expensive?

If I can go to the “Department” Store, I can get a piece of nice jewelry for half the price!  Why should I buy something handmade? Poppy Jasper Necklace This is a question that can drive an artist to depression, but maybe it is a matter of changing perception!  So why buy handcrafted or handmade jewelry?

floral plume agateLet’s take a look.  This Floral Plume Agate piece is handmade from start to finish.  The stone was mined in the Turkey.  A miner sold the rough stone to a lapidary artist, who made it into a beautiful cabochon, finding the best part of the stone and creating this beauty.  I come along and purchased this stone from him, and I “dressed” it up using sterling silver.  The silver is purchased, then it is formed using techniques such as rolling, stamping, soldering, shaping and forming.

The silver is designed around this individual stone.  It is a one of a kind stone–not mass produced, and you cannot find the exact shape, color or design of this stone.  Therefore, the silver around it is also unique.  Your jewelry is NOT worn by anyone else.  Opal Ring

At the department store, the jewelry is designed by a jeweler, then most often sent overseas to be created, with stones that are mass produced, and the silver is molded by machine into a form, then filed, sanded and polished by skilled laborers.  No one cares about the jewelry they are making. And they are not making it for “you” a particular customer.

Silver Lace Jasper Necklace
When you purchase something handmade from start to finish, and it is something you like, it is something you can have that came from the soul of the artist.

Rhodochrosite Dangle earrings
It is a connection that youcannot get from a mass produced item.  In the case of my stone jewelry, it is the soul of 2 artists–the one who created the stone, and the one who created the silver dressing around the stone.

What is that worth it to you?

Bridewell stone Necklace

Lynne Patnode is a jewelry artist whose main focus is to bring jewelry from nature to you.  She selects beautiful stone cabochons and sets them into sterling silver, focusing on bringing nature’s beauty into a wearable art jewelry form.  She also uses other materials such as glass, shells, and lab created stones and uses them for nature inspired theme jewelry.  All of her jewelry is handcrafted in her Connecticut art studio, and all pieces are one of a kind.  You can shop for her jewelry in her Etsy Shop.  You can also follow her latest news by liking her SilverSpiral Creations Facebook Page.  Find her on Instagram @SilverSpiral1, and Twitter @SilverSpiral1

SilverSpiral Creations–The Story.

Once upon a time,natural drusy ring jewelry

 

there was a girl who loved pretty stones. She collected them everywhere she went, and often took them out to look at them and admire nature’s beauty. stones jewelryShe lost that collection long ago.  As the girl grew up she lived life, went to college, raised children, and had an eclectic work career. With all of this, it seemed as if her childhood love for collecting stones had disappeared forever.

As she got older, she remembered her beautiful rocks, and began collecting again.  She saw that she could wrap these beauties in wire, and wear them around her neck,  and make them into bracelets or rings. wire wrap stone

Pretty soon, she learned to create with metal–with some classes, but mostly self taught. She collected fancier and fancier stones, and began to create one-of-a-kind jewelry for friends, family, and then the public.floral plume agate

 

 

 

That girl is me. And here is where I must confess that I am an addict. I own over 2000 stone cabochons–and I love looking at them–deciding how to make them wearable. And I love learning new ways to dress them up.

I named my business SilverSpiral Creations and I sell my jewelry on-line at the  SilverSpiral Creations Shop .

I also make custom jewelry for anyone who asks.
Beautiful Stones, Shiny Silver, and Artisan Hands. These are all the ingredients to make great jewelry that connects us to Nature.  And I LOVE what I do!   Can you relate?

SilverSpiral Creations Give Away!

Tiger Iron Pendant in Sterling SilverSo it is time for our monthly jewelry giveaway!  I do this to let you all know about the work that I do here, and in hopes that you will spread the word.

Can you help me with this?  So in order to be entered into this contest, you need to guess a number from 1-3000.  Enter your guess in the comments below–and if you share the post, enter your second guess. The closest person to guess the randomly drawn number without going over will win this beautiful Handcrafted Tiger Iron Pendant!  Tiger Iron Pendant in Sterling SilverThis Contest will end on Thursday March 23rd at 6PM EDT.  Share this post, and you can have a second guess!  Good Luck!

SilverSpiral Creations is a small artisan business, and as part of my online presence, I really need to build my audience. Please consider sharing this post with your friends!

My Name is Artist, And I Have a Problem…

Tool Bench 1

All right, My name is not Artist, but I DO have a problem!  It is TOO MUCH STUFF!  

One of my biggest fears is that I will want to make something–that I HAVE to make something, and I won’t have the items, tools or equipment that I need to make it.  Artists, Crafters, and Makers create by inspiration.  When inspiration strikes, there is a feeling of urgency, before the inspiration goes away.

One of the hallmarks of an artist is that feeling of being driven to create something.  It is almost as if you have OCD–if you DON’T create it, something bad will happen.  This isn’t necessarily rational, but it is real.  There is that fear that if you don’t act on it, you will forget and everything you are will be diminished in some way. Tools8

So when you have that inspiration, you need to have the stuff to create it.  I feel sometimes as if I have an anxiety disorder.  Since I make jewelry with stones, I feel as if I see a very special stone–I MUST buy it–because if I don’t I will miss that opportunity to make something great with it.  Last month, I counted my stone cabochons, and I have over 1300 of them!  YES, 1300!

I also have tools that I have never used.  Many of those are because someday I want to try a new technique, but most of them are “just in case” I might need them.  I also am so afraid I will run out of sterling silver–so I have more supplies than necessary.  Not necessarily good for making a profit for my business.Tools1

So, yes, I have a problem.  I have more tools than my husband. I have a full finished basement where my studio is.  And it is completely filled up with stuff.  I constantly must re-organize, because I get new stuff and I need to find a place for it.  And I can’t throw away old stuff because if I get the inspiration, I must have the STUFF!

Yes, my name is Lynne, and I have a problem! Tools3

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lynne Patnode is the owner and artist at SilverSpiralCreations. She makes Jewelry that is inspired by Nature, using Sterling Silver and Nature’s most beautiful stones.  You can shop for her jewelry at SilverSpiral Creations on Etsy