Thursday, December 10, 2009
The jewels shown here are from my new jewelry company TornadoGems.Com. I'm creating a line of jewelry in keeping with the tornado style I so enjoy. When I first started making my tornado beads, I felt I was locked into beads. By opening up my mind and heart to the idea, I've since discovered many other gems can be created using the same technique!
For instance, the Tornado Gems cross pendant as seen here. This pendant is shown in silver with citrine gemstones. But it can be created in any metal color, with any gemstone, pearl or crystal accents.
The neat thing is, even though I make each pendant the same way, they turn out looking slightly different each time, since I allow the wire to "go with the flow", so to speak. :)
Each Tornado Gems cross pendant is custom created according to the order received and the customer's preferences for metal color and accents. So even though the overall design and size is the same, each ends up being a one of a kind creation. Two customers could order the same exact cross, yet each will appear different due to the hand-fashioning of the pendants.
Another fun design I've created is the Tornado Gems heart pendant. Once again, this can be created in any metal color with any accents the customer chooses - gemstones, crystals or pearls.
This week I'm working on a dangle earring design (I already have a simple drop earring design on the website) and a hanging charm design (which will be similar to the slide bead charms on the website).
I'm also pondering an oval or circular wreath shape design for a pendant.
Some other fun things added to the site this past week....you now have the ability to WIN a free Tornado Gem Slide Bead Charm or pair of drop earrings! Each month in 2010, we're giving away the winner's choice.
We've also set up an Authorized Dealer program, and a Virtual Jewelry Sales Representative program for those who aren't ready for the Authorized Dealer program, but who'd still like to earn money by helping us get our new jewelry out to the public. :)
And somewhere in the middle of all of this, I should be getting ready for Christmas! I haven't done a thing yet. Although I am making a slide bead necklace for a family member...and I have started that process, in between orders from customers. Nothing like waiting until the last minute to do the "holiday stuff" - though I have a feeling I'm not the only one out there who does this!
Monday, November 30, 2009
The gemstone slide beads are available with any gemstone, (pearls too!) and are created in a small size (approx. 5/8") and a large size (approx. 1"). Each slide bead charm is handmade and is interchangeable.
Each charm is handmade, one at a time. The viking knit chains are also handmade and are very labor intensive, but well worth it when complete!
The photos I've shown here are of a grouping I made with a Christmas theme - garnet gems (red), genuine emeralds (green) and pearl.
There's also a Christmas sale you can take advantage of until December 15...you can save $50 on a set! Click here for the details.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
And yes! Another new tutorial makes it's way out of the studio and into the jewelry tool boxes of many. :)
This lesson teaches you how to make a fun and easy "O" Ring...using a simple hardware component you might not have thought of. And if you or your better half is a "toolie"...you probably have hundreds of these laying around. :)
Read more about the O Ring Tutorial here and check out my rings page on my website for some finished rings.
We've also added a newsletter signup to the new website - each month, one lucky subscriber will win a free piece of handmade jewelry!
And because site traffic is expanding daily, we've added a way for you to advertise your website on our site as well - for a very inexpensive rate! Check out our advertising details here.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
This lesson teaches you how to make a unique and powerful woven wire sword pendant. In this tutorial, I will demonstrate the making of the sword pendant in the center photo.
The sword developed from the dagger, when the construction of longer blades became possible, from the late 3rd millennium BC. Swords are very powerful and are symbolic of solidarity, defense, clarity, honor and force. The sword is mostly known for its symbolism of protection, with honor and justice embodied in the blade. Metaphysically speaking, the sword symbolizes the power of the mind, and encourages the wielding of trained intellect to bring about the results we seek in our life. I’ve always been attracted to the sword, and tend to be drawn to artwork which includes a sword. The sword is often seen in the work of many of my favorite fantasy artists.
Once you have completed the tutorial, you’ll have a unique design you can add to your wire jewelry offerings. The design can be adapted to include different types of bails (this tutorial shows you how to make a tornado bail topper for the sword), various beads and gemstones, and a mix of wire colors, making each one unique.
Get your copy of my woven wire sword jewelry tutorial here.
You can get a copy of my woven peapod jewelry tutorial here.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
This lesson shows how to make a Peruvian Weave Pendant using wire, with a stone encased inside the weave. It also shows you how to make an easy, attractive woven bail for the top of the pendant. Once you have completed the tutorial, you’ll have a basic and very versatile design you can add to your wire jewelry offerings. The pendants are easy to create, are quick sellers, and make fabulous gifts. The design can be adapted to include different types of bails, added beads and gemstones, a mix of wire colors and different shapes of stones, making each one unique, yet if you need to make the same design over again, it can easily be done. In addition to pendants, you can use this technique to make earrings, a bracelet centerpiece, and even rings and brooches!
PDF Download • 49 Pages • 94 Photos
36.25” of 22 gauge Soft Wire
6 feet of 28 gauge Soft Wire
One 30x22mm flattened oval bead or cabochon
One 3mm round bead
Chain nose pliers
Round nose pliers
Flat nose pliers
1/16” mandrel/steel rod, coiling gizmo, or clothes hanger wire to coil around
In this tutorial you will learn how to make the pendant with the moss green Jasper center stone - center photo in the image. Other pendants shown are variations using the same technique.
Purchase the Peruvian Weave Encased Stone Pendant Tutorial Now
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Thanks to a 15-year old bar of herbal soap…
Granted, I spent about three times as much for this bar of soap when I purchased it from a local crafter at our flea market 15 years ago. The soap was $3.00 per bar, as opposed to the 75 cent bar I might have picked up at Wal-Mart. Yet I haven’t had to buy any kind of “smell good” for my dressing area since.
This is just one of the few benefits of buying a handcrafted item – quality. It’s good. It’s better than good. It’s made by someone’s HANDS, rather than by a machine. It’s tested by a real human being, individually, with careful thought and attention to the littlest detail.
This little bar of soap has personality. It’s different. From the special packaging to the scent, it reeks of uniqueness. (no pun intended)
It offers a fond memory, this little bar of soap with its spicy, tantalizing scent. I’ll never forget my trip down that flea market aisle. One booth had tons of remainder and slightly damaged health and beauty items…the stuff you see in every major chain store in the country…and at discounted prices. But the alluring scent from five booths away is what grabbed my attention away from the bland and familiar and made my legs keep on moving.
I sauntered past the discount booth. I stopped when I found the incredible scent, coming from a booth full of large, rectangular bars of rough-looking soap, each bar wrapped like a miniature gift in a colorful piece of tissue paper. And that’s when I met Julia and her husband. They explained the process each bar of soap goes through before it appears in its final form. They told me about the various herbs they use, why they used them, and what each herb does for yourself and your environment.
Soon I left with five bars of soap and an education on herbs and their properties. I was on a budget, and at $3 a bar, that’s all I could afford that day. I could have left with 15 bars from the other booth. But I wouldn’t have had near the sensual experience as I had with those five bars from Julia.
So here I am, 15 years later. All but one of the bars of soap have been used (and all lasted 4 times longer than chain store bought soaps). I saved the fifth bar, because the next time I attended the flea market, Julia was gone…her booth replaced by someone selling slightly damaged big-box store items. I saved the bar because I wanted to remember Julia and my experience at her booth that day. I wanted to recall my mini-lesson on soap making. I wanted to remember her joy, her passion.
I also saved the bar because I wanted to prove a point. Being an artisan myself, I know handmade items are far superior over the mass-produced things offered in the majority of our stores today. But I wanted to prove it to myself another way. So I saved the soap. It’s labeled “Workers Soap”. It still has its spicy scent to this day. After 15 years, I can open the drawer the purple-wrapped bar resides in and be taken back to my day at the flea market when I met Julia. In an instant, I can go back 15 years, and smile.
What a memory. What a product!
Being a craftsperson, the thought that I helped to support and hopefully further the dream of another hard-working original artist makes me feel really good. I’d like to believe that Julia’s future absence meant she moved onto bigger and better things…perhaps she eventually opened her own store, where quality, uniqueness, and creativity were rewarded, despite the fact a person could get mass-produced soap for a few less pennies in that monstrous building on the hill. I’d like to believe her business, her hard work, and her creativity helped to feed her children and helped to provide a roof over her family’s head.
In reality, Julia probably went out of business due to a lack of support. Her booth certainly wasn’t near as crowded as the other one on that fall day. In reality, most people probably chose to shop at the chain stores where they’d save a buck, but inevitably ended up with goods made by children and older, underpaid workers in sweatshops in Third World countries.
Chain retailers have expanded dramatically over the last twenty years. Home Depot and Lowe's, barely a blip on the radar screen in 1986, now control half of the hardware and building supply market. Barnes & Noble and Borders account for more than half of all bookstore sales. Every sector is now dominated by a couple of chains, and Wal-Mart dominates them all, capturing one of every five retail dollars we spend.
Julia’s not in that picture. She isn’t making soap for Wal-Mart. She couldn’t. It has to be made so cheaply, and in such large quantities, that it’s just not feasible.
As chain stores have exploded, thousands of independent retailers have lost their livelihoods and laid-off hundreds of thousands of employees. One study I read found that every new Wal-Mart store opened actually eliminates many more other retail jobs than it creates.
Studies have shown that on average, 65 to 85 cents of each dollar spent at a chain store leaves the local economy, with a large portion of that money being shifted overseas. The United States is buying $162 billion more from China than we are selling to it. A large percentage of these purchases are made by U.S. companies that build products in China and then ship them to the United States, like Wal-Mart's suppliers.
Despite a well-publicized "Made in the U.S.A." campaign, 85 percent of Wal-Mart’s items are made overseas, often in Third World sweatshops paying 13 to 35 cents per hour with up to 96-hour work weeks.
And that, my friends, leaves people like Julia out of a job, unable to feed her children, and unable to put a roof over her family’s head. Sure, she can get government assistance – food stamps, for instance. Which you and I are paying for via our tax dollars…which seem to keep rising year after year.
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have some great-smelling, long-lasting, high-quality soap I can enjoy, than pay higher taxes due to individuals being put of out business by others making a choice to get more for less.
I’d rather have less stuff, with more meaning, which creates fond memories, and something cool to talk about. I’d rather have something different than the next 20,000 people I run into on the streets. I’d rather have something better quality, something filled with passion and creativity, something with a little love in it – which a machine in a factory just doesn’t possess.
So I ask myself this year, before the holiday shopping season begins, how can I achieve these goals? How can I contribute to a holiday with more meaning, and offer fond memories filled with love this season?
I can stay out of the chain stores, for one. They’re good at enticing…good at manipulation…and good at getting you to buy mass-market produced things - which won’t be appreciated - and will more than likely be thrown away or end up in a Goodwill store or garage sale in under six months. Think “disposable”.
I can seek out original, living, “real” artists online, or in my community at places and events which sell the handiwork of local artisans and craftspeople. By directly supporting the makers of the products I buy, I will be spending my money in an empowering way.
I can visit Etsy.Com. Etsy.com supports local economies by making it possible for artisans to make a living. They have a “Shop Local” link right on their front page – you type in your location, and it brings up artisans in your area.
Whether you uncover a piece of cool pottery, pet toys, handmade clothing, original paintings, herbal soap, baked goods, sculpture, home décor, or artisan jewelry, each artisan creation offers enduring value to be treasured. Each offers personality and uniqueness. Each offers a memory you’ll be able to recapture at any time – even 15 years later.
Jai Johnson is an independent jewelry designer, artist, and photographer living and working in Jackson, TN. Visit her main website at http://www.MicheleJanine.com
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Purchase them in my shop here.
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
The precision wire work paired with the freeform of the tornado bead wire work is representative of my life. That perfect, woven frame is how I'd like my life to be. Yet it often ends up in a tornado as represented by the top bead. I'm sure some of you can relate. It's tough when things are going along fine, and then they spiral out of control. It's wonderful, though, to take that situation, and turn it into something of beauty...a keepsake...and heirloom to remind us that even though we have tornado moments, beauty can still come from within them. :)
Purchase Divine Harmony here.
Monday, August 31, 2009
I've named this pendant "Risen". The sunshine colored genuine Citrine gemstones reminded me of the dawn of a new day. The beautiful golden and coffee brown colored freshwater pearls remind me of the upcoming fall season. Fall is in the air here in TN.
Because my bail turned out way too small (except for a delicate chain), I made a new bail. The tornado bead/bail is accented with those glowing freshwater pearls. Antiqued, hand woven silver wire pulls it all together into a unique, one of a kind cross pendant. I'm sure whoever the new owner is will enjoy it - it will become a family heirloom. This pendant and others in my new line of art jewelry are available on my newly designed website at http://www.JaisJewels.Com - hope you'll stop by and take a look!
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Then I tackled a cross pendant. I designed my pattern first. This pendant is fairly large, but I can do the same pattern for a smaller pendant simply by decreasing the length of the base wires. I was actually working on another pendant based on an inspiration photo of the Alaskan glaciers. The cross idea kept pounding away, so I finally gave in and made it, with the same components and based on the same photo (shown below).
The cross features labradorite, blue topaz, and freshwater pearls and the base is hand-tinted stained silver wire.
The cross pendant is available here and is titled MIRACULOUS, because those glaciers and their beauty are certainly a natural miracle. I'm waiting to finish the other pendant based on this photo, as the wire I have on hand is too thick for the necklace chain. Until the correct wire arrives, that pendant will wait patiently on my work table. :)
Sunday, August 16, 2009
My favorite is this copper pendant/necklace and matching earrings. While I've worked with wire for years now, I wanted something new and different I could do with it. I decided to try braiding very thin wire to create a "frame" for the stones/beads. This necklace and earrings features turquoise beads and genuine garnet, all secured by hand weaving this thin copper wire. Even the necklace chain/clasp and ear wires are hand made from copper. See more photos of the necklace in my Etsy store and the earrings here.
The pendant above features a peace stone jasper marquis shaped bead in braided brass wire. And the pendant below turned out very elegant...it's a vintage sapphire blue glass stone, also encased in braided brass wire. The pendant is very demure, and measures 1" in size. Perfectly classy! See more photos of the peace stone jasper pendant here and the sapphire pendant here.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Also, my husband is very sick. I would appreciate your prayers and good thoughts. As a result of taking care of him and his needs, I am behind on getting everything up for my show opening March 1 at http://www.artjewelryshow.com. The show will still open on that date with the jewels I currently have ready, but new jewels will be added after the opening. In fact, the show will run through May, with new jewels being added consistently during March-May. If you sign up for the newsletter at the site, you'll be notified and also receive a discount coupon code for newsletter subscribers only.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
it is our soul's duty to pursue that which we are truly passionate about.
I am truly passionate about making jewelry. I love this set. I adore it. It turned out fabulous, and I'm so happy! Each link is hand-fashioned. It took forever, but was well worth it.
The amethyst against the lemon quartz , accented with freshwater pearls, make for such a striking combination. It would be a lovely set for any special occasion.
All three pieces are available in my Etsy shop here.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Thursday, February 05, 2009
Revelation is available for purchase here.
Monday, February 02, 2009
Whenever I think "kiss", I think of the colors I used in this set...red for heat...purple for powerful, and white for innocent and pure, emotions and feelings which can all be present in a single kiss. :)
Kisses of ruby red crystals are suspended among genuine amethyst gemstones, rainbow moonstone, and whispers of freshwater pearls in this necklace and matching earrings. See more photos of the necklace here.
For the earrings I dangled the ruby crystal, to give them a little movement.
The earrings are available here.