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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Have 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–
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.
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?
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!
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.
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? 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?
Let’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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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. She 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.
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.
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?
So 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! This 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!
VOTE! Nutmeg Collective is a wonderful Organization that helps Connecticut Artisans connect as a community in Connecticut. I am lucky enough to be a member. We have applied for a FedEx Grant for small business, and all you have to do is VOTE You can vote once a day! If you are inclined–PLEASE HELP US OUT! You can read about our organization.
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.
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.
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!
This past month, I took a break from social media. I am on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and others. My business is also on Facebook and Instagram. Of course I have a shop on Etsy, and my own website/blog.
So, was it a good idea? As it turns out, maybe yes! These past 2 months, social media was alive with political commentary, news items that were highlighting some of the worst of humanity, and it became too much for my stress level. So I turned it off for awhile–worrying that perhaps it might hurt business.
As it turned out–It hadn’t made any difference–I actually saw an INCREASE in orders! Why? Perhaps it was because I could spend more time on creating new jewelry, adding new pieces to my shop.
I have a feeling that I was not alone in avoiding social media. I would love to see numbers of how many others felt this way, and were not as interactive as usual. How about you?
I would love to know your thoughts on this! Leave me a comment–
I knew this was going to be a journey that would have it’s trials and frustrations. And I made a huge mistake in purchasing my equipment. When I looked at Graver Machines, I found an enormous price range–from $260-$1,850 for those that would be for jewelry engraving. When I initially looked at these machines, it seemed to me that the $260 machine looked very much like the one that was in the $850 range and being on a tight budget, I went for the lower price. It was a machine made in China, called “Graver Helper.” This machine was a problem from the start. First of all, none of the fittings were compatible with our compressor, causing us delays, as we had to find special size hoses and couplings. Second, it came with very few directions, and they were poorly written. We had to “patch” together solutions to make it work. Once I got this machine working, I began to play with engraving. My engravings were very crude. The hand tool vibrated horribly, and controlling the tool was difficult. My hands hurt after 30 minutes. While I gained better control each time I practiced, I found that even though I continuously sharpened my gravers, it was still difficult to get them to engrave smoothly. Air was escaping from the couplings, and I had to constantly turn on the compressor to get the pressure back up.
I began getting discouraged. I am very embarrassed to post this picture of my practice plate on brass, but I want others to know how bad it can be! My hand-piece slipped constantly and the vibrations made control nearly impossible–I thought I invested in all this equipment for nothing…
Then I found an engraving forum that I joined, and saw that there were other beginning engravers who made the same mistakes I did, and struggled with the same issues. Bottom line–I WISH I HAD DONE BETTER RESEARCH! These new engraver folks subsequently purchased the GRS GraverMax G8 and they found they were able to control the hand-pieces and their engraving actually looked great!
So I wasted this money–maybe I will be able to sell the machine to someone, but I don’t know that ethically I would want to. It is a poorly made “copy” of American made gravers. I have now ordered the GRS GraverMax machine, at 4 times the cost–so it is a very significant investment. My machine should arrive early next week.
Even though I have had a terrible beginning, I do think I will enjoy this art form. I downloaded some wonderful designs that I can’t wait to try. In the long run, I think it will make my jewelry more beautiful and unique. I want to combine this art form with the beautiful stones I use in my jewelry.
All I can say is–LIVE and LEARN! (Sometimes in a very expensive way). And thus I will continue my journey into learning how to engrave….
Lynne Patnode is a jewelry artist living in Torrington Connecticut. Her business is SilverSpiral Creations and she creates wearable jewelry art made with sterling silver and nature’s most beautiful stones.