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
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.
They all have a rich and beautiful blue color, and each has a different meaning behind it. So let’s take a look at these beautiful December Birthstones.
Blue Zircon is very beautiful and desirable. Prices are often fairly reasonable, and the good news is that it comes from many parts of the world, including right here in the USA! This stone has blue-green hues and is fun to cut.
Blue Zircon is thought to protect the wearer from negative energy, and to help change our negative thoughts to positive ones. Blue Zircon is said to be able to improve the quality of lives, and to help a person to achieve happiness. What a good stone to have during the dark days of Winter. I don’t know about you, but the lack of daylight sure affects me!
Another beautiful December birthstone is Tanzanite, a pricey, rare and beautiful deep blue stone. Tanzanite is only found in one part of the world, in Tanzania (go figure) and it is only in a small area of that region. The natural deep blues are the most desirable, and in fact, lower grades of this gem are heated to create that deep blue color.
Tanzanite changes colors when it is viewed from different directions. This shifting of colors has been said to facilitate raising consciousness. The stone is often referred to as the “trust” stone.
It also helps you in realizing your own ideas. The gemstone opens an awareness of the comparison between how one lives and how one could choose to live more consciously. Those who wear it will become aware of their calling. It is a stone for people who have not yet recognized their strength and fearfully close their hearts to it. This creates trust and we gradually open ourselves for further possibilities. On the level of sub consciousness, it helps us to better come to terms with ourselves.
The third stone, and perhaps the most widely known in the USA, is turquoise. Turquoise is one of the oldest protection stones, and was seen as a symbol of wealth in ancient cultures.
Turquoise is one of those stones that you must attune to–rather than the stone attuning to you. The stone will bring you good fortune and protects the wearer from harm. It’s healing properties include helping with rheumatism, gout, viruses and other inflammatory conditions. Those who own turquoise have a special relationship with that piece–whether in jewelry or as a stone. The colors range from bright robin’s egg blue, to green tones. Different mines in the USA have very distinctive turquoise, and many can instantly tell where the turquoise comes from. American turquoise is becoming increasingly rare, and many mines have closed. This turquoise continues to increase in value.
So if you are a December Birthday–which birthstone are you?
If you want to shop for YOUR birthstone or to have a custom piece made, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org with the details of your request.
Back into the Holiday Season. This is a time that can really try our patience, challenge our health, and take us near or over our breaking point. So how do we help ourselves when it feels we are constantly going from 0-60 throughout the day?
Sure, people always say to you “take a breath” or “relax” or “take a chill pill.” I don’t know about you, but when someone says any of those things–I want to shake them and say “ARE YOU FOR REAL??????” When someone says that to me, it implies that I am doing something wrong. And this advice is often coming from a person who has difficulty managing their own stress. Are they in fact really talking to themselves? Perhaps it makes them feel better when they see someone else in distress and they can feel good about offering advice. Although well-intentioned, it has the opposite effect.
But back to the question–how can we feel well for the holidays? I came up with five things you can do to feel better during these times of stress.
The psychology behind these ideas is really about common sense. Sometimes we get so lost in the forest, and we forget about the individual trees within. I hope these ideas will help you, and I want to wish you a wonderful and Happy Holiday Season!
Organizing your like can work in much the same way. Set small goals, and clean up just that “one corner” that has been bugging you. That corner may or may not turn into the whole area–and it is okay if it is just the one corner. Remember, one bite at a time!
And don’t worry about the elephant. It is only a metaphor, after all. Think of it this way—if you don’t eat the elephant, it could stampede and smother you! (Another metaphor for all of the stuff that piles up when we don’t focus on one thing at a time).
These holidays will come with all of the build up, anticipation, and extra work that goes along with it. You will survive them whether or not you worry and stress, or if you don’t. The other thing to remember is that the holidays are quickly forgotten. That gift you agonized over may or may not be a favorite, but chances are as time goes on, the recipient will not even recall who gave them what gift and when.
Enjoy yourself, Love yourself, do yourself a favor. ONE BITE AT A TIME!
Author: Lynne Patnode
Lynne Patnode is the owner and artist at SilverSpiral Creations. The mission of Jewelry at SilverSpiral Creations is to take Nature’s most beautiful stones and make them into wearable jewelry art. You can shop for jewelry art on SilverSpiral Creations Etsy Store
A few years back, I remember when silver went up to nearly $50.00 an ounce and gold at $1900 an ounce, and jewelers abandoned these precious metals for cheaper metals such as copper and brass (me included). Jewelry became way more expensive, and people were selling their old gold and silver for cash. Jewelers were feeling the pinch from both sides, purchasing more expensive supplies, and having to try to sell more pricey jewelry during a recession.
While today’s silver price is still fairly low, (approximately $19), it has shot up by 45 cents within the first hour after the stock market opened today, this first day after the election upset. Will this uncertainty carry on for awhile? Will we continue to see these stocks free-fall?
I am hoping this is a short term increase, and that metal prices will remain somewhat stable. As an Art Jeweler, silver directly effects me in the pocket-book with up-front costs, and with having to increase the price to cover these costs, sometimes means fewer pieces get sold.
Let’s try not to buy into the uncertainty and chaos. Let’s all settle down, keep our hearts and minds open, and live life, no matter who you voted for. It’s all we can do for our own economy, and most of all–our own well-being….
Lynne Patnode is a jewelry artist whose mission is to create beautiful jewelry from Nature’s Beauty. To see what is available for sale, please visit her Etsy Shop
It is later in the day, and the Stock Market has already stabilized–so the price of silver and gold is still pretty good—phew! For now, anyway. But I still think the jewelry economics lesson was worthwhile–helps all of understand the volatility of the metals market and it’s direct effect on you.