Thursday, April 10, 2014

Phases: From Rocks to Jewels

I have always been intrigued by the unexposed layers within a piece of art. Only the artist understands the piece's depth, its true content, and the work involved from start to finish.

A painter begins with the base - the background - and adds coats of weight, dimension, shadows, expression.

A friend of mine makes organic paper using flowers, feathers, leaves, and pulp. Her patience amazes me as she harvests plants and collects materials, and then soaks, squeezes and presses the matter through screens into tine, textured sheets.

My mother weaves curtains, tablecloths, bedspreads, napkins - every corner of my parents' home is rich with finely woven work. She chooses color to usher together her indoors with the surrounding picturesque scenery - yellows and greens from the cove and marshes, brown from the freshly tilled soil, light blue from the water and sky. She counts methodically as her feet push pedals, her hands tossing the yarn back and forth through the loom. When a piece is complete, only she knows the labor and love involved.

As an artist, I continuously strive to reveal the many layers that exist within my work, from strolling river banks in search of rocks or inspiration, to the creation of each piece of jewelry. I excessively share pictures of my work on Facebook and Pinterest because I believe that, by sharing my story, I am connecting you to my work. I am giving you insight to the amount of work - and intimacy - involved throughout my process.

So, share away.

Phases: from rocks to jewels.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Homemade Salves: Tutorial

It's a crisp, cool day and my body is spent after yesterday's run, followed by an afternoon of turning garden beds and planting seeds. Wanting to remain somewhat sedentary today, it is a perfect morning to make salve with the extracted wildflower, herb, and cottonwood bed oils I made over the last year.

I spread out What's Happening, prepped tins, and heated together the oils, Derek's refined beeswax and vitamin E. Once thoroughly melted and combined, I poured the liquid into tins.

The salve solidified beautifully.

Today's salves are made with cottonwood buds...


and bee balm.

The color variation depends entirely on the natural plants soaked in oil for the last 6-12 months.

Here is a general tutorial so you can make your own. Otherwise, you can purchase any one of these salves in my shop.



2 cups fresh flowers, leaves, stems of your choice herb or plant
3-4 cups olive oil
1.5 cups beeswax
1 Vitamin E capsule


  1. Place fresh plants in a large glass jar (I use 1/2 gallon Mason jars)
  2. Cover the flowers with olive oil, close container with lid, and place in a shady corner. Let sit for several months, stirring occasionally to avoid mold forming on the surface.
  3. It may be necessary to add more oil, depending on how much the plants soak up.
  4. After 1-2 months, extract the oil by placing a cotton cloth into a strainer and pouring the mixture into the cloth. Squeeze the oil out of the cloth into another glass jar. Let it sit overnight.
  5. Heat the oil and melt beeswax in 2 separate pans.
  6. Once the beeswax has melted, mix the two together. Add Vitamin E and stir.
  7. Pour the mix into tin cans or small glass jars to cool.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Wild Sage: Smudge Sticks

Almost every morning I meander up the hill behind our home through dry grass and wild sage where I spot golden eagles and coyotes. Nowadays the shrub step almost bursts with the song of foraging birds. I brush my fingers against new sage growth to stimulate the musky scent, pinch off a little foliage to stick in my pocket so that I can rub it between my fingers - and smell - as I walk.

Smudge sticks are used in traditional Native American ceremonies to purify people and places. There are similar ceremonies in many cultures where herbs are burned for cleansing. Smudging can be used to counteract depression, anger or bitterness. If you would like to try smudging, it is very easy to make your own sage smudge sticks. They smell wonderful.

Here's how.

Materials Needed:

Western or desert sage
Garden clippers
Sturdy (cotton) string


  1. Cut the sage branches into 7 to 10 inch lengths
  2. Snip a piece of string 2 1/2 times the length of the cut sage branches.
  3. Hold a bundle (1/2" thick) of branches together with the tips pointing down. Begin wrapping the string tightly around the base of the branches.
  4. Wrap firmly, working your way to the tips of the branches. When you reach the tips, switch directions and begin working your way back up to the base of the sage branches. Tie the two ends of the string together when you reach the base.
  5. Trim the edges neatly.
  6. Dry your sage smudge sticks in a flat basket or on a screen for a week.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Natural Inspiration: Grace

What does grace mean to you?

To me it signifies simplicity, elegance, poise. To find inspiration for my jewelry, I often meander along the riverbank near our home. The natural beauty of my surroundings fills me with a sense of calm. I am small, but I am a part of this incredible world.

Today I found grace, and I brought it home.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Zero Waste Jewelry

What does zero waste mean to you? To me, it's an approach to using resources more efficiently through better organization, better education and better design. It’s much more than just recycling. Zero Waste seeks to avoid the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, and to conserve and recover resources.

I'm striving to build and maintain a zero waste jewelry business.

What does a zero waste jewelry business look like exactly?

To start, each piece of furniture in my studio is reclaimed - old doors transformed to tables, shelves made out of old drawers or wooden crates. Storage containers are recycled bottles and tin cans.

Materials and supplies (silver wire, beads, drill bits, etc) usually arrive in plastic zipper bags. Sometimes there are even two bags, one inside the other. I donate every bag to a local art gallery for their packaging use. I reuse all cardboard boxes and packaging material in my own shipping. Leftover leather or linen cord scraps are used as ribbon, and I use recycled paper to print packing slips, invoices and inventory sheets.

Furthermore, after drilling holes in natural rocks and recycled glass shards to create pendants, I use the plugs to make unusual beads. All scrap metal is saved for future use - my next step is to invest in a rolling mill to transform any leftover scraps into metal sheets.

I donate 1% of each jewelry sale to river restoration projects. To learn more about the amazing projects that are happening, check out The Upper Columbia Salmon Recover Board.

As you can imagine, maintaining a zero waste jewelry business is not an easy endeavor, but I'm trying. I'm always open to more suggestions, so feel free to shout out.

Thank you for supporting my jewelry business!

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