Friday, December 30, 2005

"Champagne Bubbles" - My New Year's set

"Champagne Bubbles" is the name of the jewelry set I'll be wearing to the New Years "Eve Eve" party at the Dickson Gallery of Fine Art here in Jackson, TN tonight. If you're in or around Jackson, stop by the gallery from 7-9 tonight and say hello!

Click on the photo to see a larger version or go here to my website page which highlights these pieces.

This set is also the subject in my first jewelry tutorial, released this morning! Click here to to read about the Single Cell Cloisonne tutorial and learn how to make this type of jewelry design yourself!


Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Free Bluebird Demonstration!

Over the past 24 hours, I've been working on getting the "Lessons" section set up on my website. Some of you have seen this bluebird demonstration in HTML format before, but I have now turned it into a PDF format and have uploaded it this morning into my Lessons category as a FREE download in order that visitors can see the format of the lessons I'll be offering for sale.

You are welcome to go here and download this demonstration. It's not a "full" tutorial with a pattern(s) as the paid lessons will be, but you still might find this demo helpful and I've included a couple of TIPS in this download you might find useful. :)


Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Diamond Cross, Cloisonne Art Pendant

"Diamond Cross" is my latest creation. This art pendant features 4 sections of wire embedded into the design, and all are filled with bright colors and then offset by the background which I created in black. Despite the fact I was interrupted by the thought of a potential house fire (see post below) while I was working on this piece, it still came out okay and I think I'll wear this to the New Year's Eve Eve party (Dec 30) at the Dickson Gallery here in Jackson.

I've also been doing some thinking over the Christmas holiday. Many of my polymer clay associates as well as my jewelry making friends have been asking me for another ebook on how to make the type of pieces I'm creating now. (My previous ebook is on creating miniature paintings in polymer, which can be applied to jewelry items...but I've been asked numerous times for more ebooks/tutorials on making specific jewelry items).

I have good news! This year, I've decided to create numerous tutorials on how to create specific jewelry items using my techniques in polymer. Each tutorial will focus on the creation of one specific type of jewel, and of course, students can alter the colors and embellishments to suit their own desires.

All tutorials will be available for download in PDF format and will be only $7 each. Each tutorial will include step by step photos and detailed instructions, as well as suggestions and tips for alterations to the piece should the student decide to make several items with different looks from the base lesson. Patterns will also be included with the tutorials.

As soon as I finish putting together the first lesson, I'll have it up in a special section in my gallery titled "Lessons". I hope to produce a variety of lessons this year, giving students a host of beautiful, unique jewelry they can make using polymer and other simple, easy to use supplies and materials.

So that's one new thing on the agenda for 2006, in addition to creating the many one of a kind art jewels I love to make! :)



Last night, I'm down in the studio working away on my latest pendant. I have the music on, everything's going smoothly. Life just couldn't get any better.

My daughter comes downstairs - I thought she was just coming down to check out my work, as she often does. She says "Mom, I smell something like a burning smell." I figured she was just smelling a hint of the polymer - as it does put off a little odor sometimes when it's being fired. She becomes insistent though, so I get up from the table and follow her up the stairs. As I reached the top of the stairs, I smell it too!

The first room I enter is the laundry room, and the dryer had just been running. So I check that out - no signs of anything burning, yet I still smell this unpleasant scent. I walk through the kitchen, into the living room, and head straight for the Christmas tree. It smells stronger over there. I shut the tree off, and check things out. Still no sign of anything unusual.

I head down the hall toward the bedrooms - the smell seems to intensify and at this point, I feel my heart slide from my chest into the pit of my stomach and then my nerves begin to get really frazzled! A quick look into all 4 rooms reveals nothing, so I grab the attic pulldown string and tell my son to get a flashlight, quick!

I pulled down the stairs and head up into the attic - it's cold up there and as I look around, I don't see anything, and then I realize I don't smell anything up there. So I head back down, closing the attic door, and as soon as I get back on the hall floor, I smell the scent strong again. "Where is this coming from?" I'm saying to the kids as we all move through the house.

At this point, I'm beginning to get REALLY scared - the thought of a potential fire is terrifying enough, but the thought that I can't FIND IT was even more frightening! I decided to breeze through the house one more time before heading outside, thinking maybe it's something on fire outside. As I get into the kitchen, the smell is worse and then I heard a hissing...a popping, crackling sound. I freeze and I put my hand out behind me to get the kids to stand still and I quiet them.

The sound was coming from the dishwasher (which had been running). I gently pull open the dishwasher door and we were bowled over by this burning smell - yet STILL no smoke or sign of fire. As I shine the flashlight in there and look around, I am very puzzled. There's no sign of anything, yet we hear the popping and crackling and smell that awful scent. My son yells out "It's electrical!" and he runs to the other side of the kitchen.

I bend down low, and shine the flashlight UNDER the dishes on the bottom rack and then I spot the culprit. My nerves immediately eased as I stood up and said "I've found the problem and it's not a fire." The kids, wide-eyed and standing back, ask what it is.

"It's a plastic measuring cup sitting on the dishwasher element, and it's melting," I explain. "I can't get it out until the element cools, so just leave it open and let it cool." Of course by now, the smell had REALLY permeated the house since the dishwasher was open. I don't believe I've ever smelled burning plastic before - and let me tell you, it's not pleasant. But I'd rather smell that and deal with that than a real fire!

The paranoia which soared through my system during this event was unreal...I've never experienced anything like that, and the thought of a house fire was horrible! I'm grateful it wasn't a real fire. I can certainly relate now to the fear which can occur with a real fire and the whole ordeal made me think over our fire escape plan for our family in the event it should ever be necessary.


Monday, December 26, 2005

Christmas Blessings

What a wonderful year full of blessings we've had. I am so grateful to all the friends and family who have supported me this year.

Our family had a lovely Christmas. My son and daughter were thrilled to get some of the things they asked for this year, and we were excited to have a wonderful family was all quite different from last year and I'm glad we've been able to recover from some hard times which seemed unbearable.

One of the things my daughter received this year was a basic digital camera. Now this camera is nothing fancy (2.1 megapixel), but for someone just learning, it's perfect! She was practicing taking photos and I wanted to share this one she took today - I believe we may have yet another fabulous photographer in the family! Take a look at this beautiful shot:

First of all, from what I've seen of this camera's pictures, I'm shocked this came out of it! LOL Second of all, I think she picked a terrific color shot here with this - she said the sky was so blue - which it was today - and it "looked neat behind the tree". Cool. Not bad for 12 years old! She's looking forward to taking photos of the horses at the stables and to having me take shots of her riding.

My son received some neat little remote control cars called "Zip Zaps". They are so adorable, and go SO FAST! He also got several accessories and a carrying case - so hopefully everything will stay in one place! LOL

All in all, it was a terrific day and it was great to see the smiles on their faces.

Today I've gotten back to work with a new cross pendant design I've been working on. I have 2 new cross pendants I'm designing, and these will be able to be "repeated" designs as far as the base, but colors and layers in each will be different. The first pendant is firing now and I can hardly wait to see it after it's done. I think I'll wear it to the New Years Eve bash at the gallery this weekend.


Friday, December 23, 2005

"His Majesty", Designer Cloisonne Lion Necklace

My brother often sends me photos of "big cats", as he knows I love them. Being a Leo, the lion is my favorite, but I also like all the other big cats and you'll often find them appearing in my jewelry designs. Well, Scott sent me this photo he shot of a lion profile recently, and I decided to design a cloisonne pendant using this lion profile as the basis for my design, which is below:

The lion pendant was extremely fun to work on for me. Each individual wire was hand formed to create the profile design. I had already decided on a blue background, knowing it would look good with his amber and terra cotta colors. At the last minute, I decided to add a tiny gold lion pawprint into my design, so it's right in the center of the blue, adding just that extra amount of rich detail I was looking for.

I created spiral wires which are embedded directly into the pendant. Then I made a brass wire frame for the pendant, and utilized this side spirals to insert the wires through. I wasn't quite sure how that was going to work out, but it turned out beautifully!

For the chain, I hand fashioned individual links using some rare vintage lampwork and crystal beads I had been saving for a special project. To soften things, I added tiny glass based simulated pearls.

All in all, I am thrilled with how this one of a kind design turned out! To read more about "His Majesty", please click here.

Hope you like him! Comments welcome!


Tuesday, December 20, 2005


With the holiday time here, it's certainly appropriate to be thinking of times past. In "Memories", I've created the cool look of winter offset by rich red, representative to me of "heartfelt memories". In this pendant, I've used some aurora borealis - I love the sparkle of it and was actually thinking about New Years Eve while I was working on this, and the sparkle and joy of holiday parties. And I don't know about you, but when I look at the finished design, I see the slight pattern of a tuxedo - though that was not my intention when designing the jewel! It's interesting how these pieces can take on a life of their own and become what the eye wants them to...:)

All weekend, I spent thinking of what I've done in 2005 and where I want to go in 2006. You might notice my banner at the top of the page is different - that's because I'm changing my look and my designs for 2006, and I'm preparing my website now.

I'll be making 4 different types of jewelry - pendants, necklaces, brooches, and rings. I'm going to focus on the cloisonne style of work this year, because I find it incredibly challenging. The majority of the work I produce will be the pendants, necklace and brooches. Rings are something I am personally passionate about, and plan to make a few of, but the main categories on my site being filled with new jewels will be the pendants, necklaces and brooches.

My brother sent me a beautiful lion portrait photo, and I'll be doing a centerpiece for a necklace design based on that picture. That's my next project after I complete a custom cat pendant I'm working on.

As for Christmas, I'm sort of ready. LOL I'm running a bit behind, but then that's normal for me. I still have a few small packages to get out in the mail this morning before I get down to the studio.

It's turned bitter cold here again, and once again, it's giving me headaches. Someday, I'd love to move to an area where it's warmer year round!

Off to work.....thanks for stopping in and seeing my newest jewel!


Saturday, December 17, 2005


I've titled this newest cloisonne pendant "Thoughts". My 'thinking' when creating this piece was that our thoughts have colors associated with them. I've tried to portray the range of colors in this abstract design using the cloisonne method.

For more information about cloisonne and its history, see my previous post.

To learn more about this jewel, or to purchase the pendant, please click here.


Some Facts About Cloisonne

Some interesting facts about cloisonne, from an article: Cloisonne Primer, History of cloisonne technique
by Woodrow Carpenter

Cloisonne is a French word meaning to be compartmentalized, be cut off from one another, to feel cut off, or shut out

Researchers agree the technique originated in Egypt prior to 1800 B.C.

The word cloisonne is used to identify the technique as well as the finished product. The cloisonne technique does not presuppose the use of enamel.

The reason or function of the wires is an age-old subject for discussion. "Originally, the reason had to do with the goldsmith being accustomed to making sockets for jewels out of upstanding strips of metal soldered on and afterwards bent over the edges of stones to hold them in place. He was in the habit of soldering on cloisons for mosaics of precious stones and glass inlays. And, perhaps the patron would not accept it any other way. Later, the artist would see the value of the metal line and take it into account in the design. The artist continues to do so even though, today, the wire serves no other function."

Shrouded in mystery, cloisonne is considered to be the most intricate and difficult of all jewelry techniques. (which explains why I want to do this type of work.....I love challenges!)

Friday, December 16, 2005

Iris in the Snow

Iris in the Snow, Cloisonne Pendant in Polymer by Jai

Imagine an Iris, its petals full of rich purple sheen while its center glows bright with golden hues, bursting forth through the pearly, pale blue wisps of winter wonderland. Add a dash of green and a square cut amethyst rhinestone embedded in the design, and you have a piece of floral jewelry offering true elegance in its unique, artistic form. Iris in the Snow is made using a cloisonne enamel technique with brass wire and matching bail adorned with two ivory glass simulated pearls. Signed Jai on the back of the polymer pendant, this will make a superb addition to any jewelry collection!

To buy Iris in the Snow for yourself or someone special, please click here.


Thursday, December 15, 2005

My fascination with enamel work has led me to something new!

About three years ago, when researching jewelry, I discovered the beauty of artisan enamels. To the left is a pendant I saved a photo of, and I've looked at it longingly ever since. After my one year of painting solely with polymer, I decided it was time for me to try to replicate this technique using my own methods.

The pendant to the left is priced at just under $700. Many pendants I see like this are priced at close to $1,000. Of course they are made with real gold, and glass, and the process is very labor intensive - therefore the high pricing.

Using my techniques and my polymer, gold leaf, and gold filled materials, I created this "cloisonne enamel" look pendant. I knew when this baby came out of the oven for the first time last night, I was in LOVE with what I've come up with here! Of course, it took numerous "mistakes" along the way to figure out what I was doing wrong and right. Even with this piece, I've noted something I will change with the next piece I do in this manner. But it's minor, and doesn't affect "the look" which will be appearing in my 2006 pieces.

About This Jewel

(click the photo to see a larger picture)

Cloisonné is the oldest method of enamelling. First practiced by the ancient Egyptians, cloisonné enamelling has been embraced by many ancient and modern cultures. Here I've replicated the process of cloisonne enamel work in polymer. First, I created a setting, adorned with genuine gold leaf on the edges. Then I've built a network of "cloisons" (cells or compartments) by forming 14K gold filled bezel wire into a pattern for the center of the pendant. Each "cell" was then painted using tinted polymer, filled gradually until I obtained the shading and coloring I wanted, with multiple firings in between layers. A brass bail accented with freshwater pearls is suitable for any chain, jewelry cord, or ribbon.

For this design, I selected rich colors of cobalt blue, several striking shades of amethyst, and a bit of apple green. In the center circle, I've used three shades of red for the "heart" of the pendant. A glass based simulated pearl accents the bottom.

Using this method, it is possible to create a variety of artwork with the bezel wire. Although my materials are much less expensive than "real" enamel jewels require, the time spent on a pendant like this is very labor intensive. "Heartbeat" has an abstract design - very geometric in nature. But I plan to create actual "pictures" once I get more comfortable with the feel of the bezel wire. Right now I plan on creating some more pieces like this, with a geometric design to them, but plan on adding actual imagery very soon!


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Wire hell!

Yes, you read that right....Wire Hell. There is such a place, and I have been there this morning. UGH.

Normally I use brass wire for my projects. I also use gold-filled, but since that makes my prices about twice as much for what I currently charge for an art jewel, I have recently been sticking with the brass (gold colored wire) for my projects to keep pricing lower for my customers.

Different brands have different looks. I don't know what brand our Hobby Lobby is, but I hate the look of the metal, so I won't use it. Another store here actually carries a brand which has a very nice golden color - but I can only use one of the gauges they carry, then I have to move up to a thicker gauge I don't like.

So I go online to Fire Mountain Gems to order the Colourcraft wire, which is available in the gauge I need. I also love this brand - the gold color is very rich and elegant. So the webpage for the gauge I want shows a SPOOL and says SPOOL in the text. Last time I ordered this gauge of that wire from them, it didn't come in a spool - it came in a ring, clipped with two plastic clips which had to be cut off....and what happens when you clip them off and unravel the wire ends? This "ring" of wire EXPLODES and goes everywhere. Which is why I wanted it on a SPOOL.

I thought maybe that last time was a fluke...I looked carefully to make sure the page said SPOOL - it did. And I need quite a bit of this wire for this year's projects. I was planning on ordering a large quantity - but - remembering my previous experience, I decided to order just one for right now and see if it came on a spool.

Well it didn't, and I opened the package this morning, and within 3 seconds, I was sitting in a pile of wild wire which had exploded - again. I proceeded to spend the next 45 minutes untangling, and then spooling it myself onto an empty spool I had here. What a was truly wire hell!

This is one of those moments I tend to rethink what I'm doing and wonder why do I put myself through this? LOL

The good news is yesterday was productive - I've come up with a bold necklace design I'm pleased with for the 2006 Impressions line. I'm still working out the best way to do the bails on my pendants though. Maybe today I'll figure that one out! Now that I've had my wire emergency today, surely the rest of the day will go would hope!


Monday, December 12, 2005

Nature's Web Brooch/Pendant Combo

As promised, here is my large medallion style brooch/pendant combo featuring my Nature's Web abstract art design. The art cab here is set in a large oval bezel, and the mechanism on the back allows this gorgeous art jewel to be worn as a pin or a pendant. Picture this at the base of the neck on a simple neckwire - what a stunning statement that will make! Better yet, add as a pendant to a beaded necklace design and you'll have a fabulous, bold piece of art on the neck. The only thing different from this art cab compared to the ones below is I've added a splash of royal purple into the design.


Sunday, December 11, 2005

I did it I did it!!!!!

Okay, so I'm just a TAD excited! You don't know HOW LONG I've been striving for a unique ring design which I adore....well I've finally created it! Despite the fact I had another terrible headache when I woke up today, I managed to get very creative and come up with this design.

The pattern on the art cabs shown here is called "Nature's Web". The ring is hand sculpted in brass wire, has a large pear-shaped art cab, prong set, and freshwater pearls for accent. It's a ladies size 7.25.

The pendant to the left features a similar pattern, using the same coloring, yet it's different since each of my pieces are original art and freeform. I created the pendant smaller in order to appeal to someone who likes the more delicate and demure look. Like the ring, it is sculpted in brass and features freshwater pearls for accent.

Also in process is a large, oval medallion style "Nature's Web" brooch/pendant combo jewel. I'll post it later when it's complete. It will be my first brooch in the new Impressions series.

I'm just SO EXCITED I figured out my ring design and it worked! To read more about the ring, go here. To read more about the pendant, go here.


Saturday, December 10, 2005

Lapis Elegance Cuff/Bangle Bracelet & Earrings

Over the past couple of days, I've worked out my bangle/cuff bracelet design I'll be producing in the 2006 Impressions line of art jewelry. I call it a bangle/cuff, because it slides over the hand and onto the wrist like a bangle, yet looks like a cuff bracelet with that large centerpiece. It looks wonderful on the wrist, and I'm very pleased with the design I've come up with. I'm going to make a few more this year with the large center "stone" and some with smaller, more delicate centerpieces as well.

I titled these pieces "Lapis Elegance" as my design has the look of lapis lazuli. I added gold leaf in both the bracelet and earrings for more sparkle too. The earrings I created are pierced. I also have another earring design I'm working on which will also be dangles, but will have larger artistic centerpieces in them. So I've got this one bracelet design for the line, I'll have 2 earring designs, and I'm working on my necklace and ring designs as well. Once I get everything worked out, it's time to start making more with abstract art centerpieces in a wide variety.

Here are the earrings. They are SO FUN! :)

A friend of mine showed up this week to visit after a couple month absence. He was very impressed with the new pieces in this new line of 2006 jewelry. But I thought he was going to fall onto the floor when he saw this piece! His comment was:

"Man! That is really something! I knew you were a good artist but I had no idea you could paint like THIS!"

I sure liked hearing that! It almost took away the pain of my headache. :)


Thursday, December 08, 2005

Winter Dance... a splash of festive color!

A couple of weeks ago, at the gallery art party I attended, I met the most beautiful woman who wore a stunning cream colored, feathery-style winter suit and matching fluffy hat. It was a totally smashing outfit - it just needed one thing...a piece of art jewelry to add just a tiny splash of color to the overall look, and bring out the blue in her eyes better. "Winter Dance" was created with that memory in mind.

More details about this one of a kind jewel can be found here.


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Master's Garden

How's this for colorful? :) I think I used every color in my palette in this design! I've titled it "The Master's Garden", after Monet's garden, because of all the colors and patterns.


Fiery Sunset Designer Art Pendant

I have two new pieces coming out of the studio today. This is the first, titled "Fiery Sunset". This abstract design features a vivid display of colors including cardinal red and burnt orange with a deep purple base, emerald green, and golden yellow, in addition to genuine gold leaf. A sensuous royal blue peeking through adds nighttime elegance, as do the faceted black onyx crystal bead accents.

"The Master's Garden" will be uploaded next - I'm waiting on the glaze to completely dry before it's handled. Today I'm working on another one titled "Winter Dance" and I might get that one uploaded before tonight...depends on how things go in the studio!

On a side note, we are supposed to get SNOW today! Yes, in West TN. I guess it's appropriate for me to be working on a winter piece during this kind of weather. Right now, the sun is shining brightly, but it's cold out.


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Forest Splendor, An abstract art pendant with gold leaf

Forest Splendor, the first pendant in my 2006 Impressions line of art jewelry.

I wasn't going to do abstract...I was going to focus on more realistic work because to me, it's more challenging. But after doing this piece, I've changed my mind. :) This particular abstract was just as challenging - everything carefully planned and executed, including the hand-wired setting. I'm very pleased with the design and have decided my pieces in my 2006 Impressions line will be created in this fashion....abstract designs in intricate hand-fashioned settings.

Read the details about this pendant here.


Monday, December 05, 2005

My amethyst angel

This morning I finished up this pendant I've titled "Amethyst Angel". This new way of doing settings is working well! Most wire sculptured work is completed by having a finished stone, and sculpting the wire around that stone. In this case, I pre-made the setting, leaving the top cross wires loose. Then I made my art cab to fit the setting! A little backwards, but it worked well. I never know how much wire I'll need to cut to use on a piece when the stone is already by cutting the wire and forming an acceptable setting first, and THEN forming the cab, I don't have to worry about that issue.

Go here to see more about Amethyst Angel.


Sunday, December 04, 2005

New Work: Christmas Angel, Original Designer Art Pendant

New from the studio! A unique designer Christmas tree art pendant featuring my original painting "Christmas Angel" in polymer on a hand-fashioned translucent polymer cabochon. I've free formed the brass wire tree as a sculpture base for the cab, and added 3 ruby red aurora borealis crystals as dangles, offering a graceful and sparkling movement to the piece. Go here to read the full description or to purchase this one of a kind jewel.


Friday, December 02, 2005

Unique cross pendant

I dreamed this pendant design last night. After completing the butterfly pendant (below), I began thinking more about incorporating my original art cabs into my wire sculpture jewelry work. I'd kind of gotten away from that while I worked on perfecting the process I use to create my pendants and cabs. Well I guess it was heavily on my mind last night and I began working on this first thing this morning! The cab is tiny - only 3/4" x 1/2" in size. That's SMALL for me. It was very tedious work, and I'm just thrilled it turned out and that my pattern for the wire cross worked as well. I plan on doing more of these! This one is in my gallery now.