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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Mother of Pearl Silver Jewelry History

Mother of Pearl Silver Jewelry History
By []David-John Turner


Reflecting the rainbows of the ocean beds, iridescent Mother of Pearl is the Opal of the sea. Like Amber, Mother of Pearl is organic, but unlike any other gemstone it forms locked away within its creator: the mollusk.

15th Century Europeans, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, gave Mother of Pearl its name. However the beauty of Mother of Pearl, birthstone of June, has been used in the decoration of precious jewels and ornaments as far back as 3000 years before the birth of Christ.


Mother of Pearl: Crystals of calcium carbonate and conchiolin, secreted by the living organism within a mollusk, which build up and solidify coating the inner surface of the shell. Also known as Nacre (na.ker): from the Arabic word ‘Naqqarah’ meaning shell.

Mother Of Pearl In Mesopotamia

In the 1920s, a series of tombs were excavated to the east of the site of Babylon in the Middle East.

The tombs were of Sumerian royalty from ancient Mesopotamia and yielded a treasure trove of amulets, rings and necklaces made of gold, silver, ivory, amethyst, carnelian, lapis and other semi-precious gemstones. However, it was the unearthing of several beautiful wooden ornaments and musical instruments inlaid with Mother of Pearl, that illustrated just how sophisticated this ancient culture actually was.

The Silver lyre of Ur, found in one of the graves in the Royal Cemetery, dates back to between 2600 and 2400 B.C. The Silver lyre, ancestor to the modern harp, was found in the Great Death Pit accompanied by 70 men and women who had been buried with their Queen. Miraculously well persevered, the lyre was entirely covered in sheet silver and inlaid with Mother of Pearl. The silver cow's head decorating the front has inlaid eyes of shell and lapis lazuli, and the edges, borders and plaques of the sound box are inlaid with Mother of Pearl. Such instruments were important parts of rituals in the royal courts and temples. There are more representations of lyre players inlaid in Mother of Pearl on the infamous Standard of Ur, a wooden box believed to recount the story of Ur.

The method the Sumerian artisans used to decorate wooden objects was to cut a design from the shell, cut the same form out of the wooden setting, and to fill the spaces and setting of the engraving with bitumen, which after acting as glue hardened forming the background. Animal scenes, inlayed with Mother of Pearl shell and colored gemstones such as lapis or carnelian, were particularly popular motifs used in such decoration. This method of inlay was popular throughout Asia and Asia-Minor up to the time of the Ottoman Empire, and although refined the same method is still practiced by the artisans of Turkey and Egypt today.

Mother Of Pearl In Asia

In Asia, centuries before the birth of Christ, the Chinese learned that beads or tiny figures of deities slipped between the soft mantle and the shell of a living mollusk soon became coated with Mother of Pearl. These beads and carvings were then taken to the temples and offered to the gods in the hope that they would bestow good luck upon the donor. Mother of Pearl, like jade, soon held a position of high status in Chinese society and became interlinked with stories of gods and mythical creatures.

One such story is the tale told in the Tao classic The History of The Great Light, written by Huai-Nan-Tzu during the Han dynasty at the beginning of the first millennia A.D. In the book there are eight stories of eight mortals who, through their good deeds, were rewarded with everlasting life. The eighth of these stories tells the tale of Ho-Hsien-Ku, who was instructed in a vision that if she ate Mother of Pearl she would gradually become immortal. She did as the vision instructed, living in the mountains and eventually dispensing with mortal food. Ho-Hsien-Ku started to float from peak to peak becoming more and more ethereal, finally attaining her quest she was renamed The Immortal Maiden symbolized in the Tao philosophy by the lotus flower.

During the Confuciusan Tang dynasty, as Buddhism spread to Korea and Japan, China absorbed and unified a vast territory that had formerly been divided into North and South China. The Tang dynasty, lasting from 600 A.D. to 900 A.D., was a period of widespread prosperity and trade that stretched from inner Asia to the archipelagos of South East Asia. With the promise of great wealth, many mariners and merchants from all over the Pacific were attracted to China, bringing with them precious cargos of Pearls, Mother of Pearl and many other precious and semi-precious gemstones.

In ancient China Mother of Pearl, apart from finding its way into rings and necklaces, was used in profusion as a decorative inlay in ornaments such as vanity mirrors and brushes, and in later centuries would feature heavily as an inlay in Chinese and Korean furniture. Interestingly, the Chinese also used Mother of Pearl in medicine, prescribing it for over a thousand years as an aid to reduce heart palpitations, dizziness, and high blood pressure.

Mother Of Pearl In Mesoamerica

In 8th Century Mesoamerica there existed an ancient civilization called the Toltecs. Ancestors to the Aztecs, they were feared and revered respectively for their military prowess and artistic culture. The Toltec had widespread influences from the Mayan populations in Guatemala to the Anasazi Indians in Arizona. Archeological excavations as far inland as Chaco Canyon, land marked by the towering Fajada Butte and its mysterious Sun Dagger rock carvings, have revealed Toltec treasures of ornamental jewelry and sculptures inlaid with Mother of Pearl from as far away as the Pacific Rim.

Still to this day the descendants of the Toltecs, the Yaqui Indians of Mexico immortalized in the shamanic tales of Carlos Castaneda, wear a necklace called the Hoporosim. The necklace is made of Mother of Pearl and is believed to provide the wearer with protection from evil.

In America’s Southwest of today, Navajo, Pueblo, and Hopi native American silversmiths, trained in age-old lapidary techniques fuse the ancient into contemporary designs using sterling silver, gold, lapis lazuli, pearl, fire opal, coral and of course Mother of Pearl.

Mother Of Pearl In The Pacific

By the 1500s Europe’s growing demand for Mother of Pearl used in gold and silver rings, necklaces, brooches and buttons had all but depleted the supplies of Mother of Pearl in the Persian Gulf. However the nobility of Europe were already taken with a new species of pearl producing oyster heralding from the Pacific: Pinctada Margaritifera, renowned for its spectacular gray to black color and large size it surpassed the beauty of any of its counterparts found in the Persian Gulf. And with the opening of new trade routes throughout the world, particularly to Asia, the Pacific witnessed a rush of European traders and explorers eager to profit from its wealth of Mother of Pearl.

In 1568 the Solomon Islands, known as The Pearl of the Pacific, were discovered by the Spanish explorer, Alvaro de Mendana. On discovering the Islands rich bounty of gold and Mother of Pearl he gave the archipelago its current name, believing that he had found the mythical source of King Solomon's mines. However, it was in fact the Austronesians, a Neolithic people from South-East Asia, who had first settled the Solomon Islands more than 4000 years prior to Mendana’s arrival. Evidence of their great wealth of Mother of Pearl can be seen in the inlay appearing in many of their tribal shields and statues of gods and spirits.

From Tahiti to Bora Bora the Polynesian archipelago stretches out to the size of Western Europe. The Islands were first discovered by the European Magellan, and again in 1595 by Mendana. But long before their arrival Mother of Pearl and Pearl had already attained a god-like status.

In Polynesian lore, the iridescence of Mother of Pearl is attributed to the spirits of coral and sand, Okana and Uaro, who as legend has it adorned the Tahitian oysters in glistening cloaks covered in all the colors of the fish of the ocean. It is also said that Oro, the Polynesian god of peace and fertility, came down to earth and offered a special pearl called Te Ufi, the black pearl, to the beautiful princess of Bora Bora as a sign of his love. But by the middle of the 18th Century with Europe’s lust for Mother of Pearl the Pacific Islands had been practically stripped bear of its oysters, and with its disappearance the stories passed into legend.

However, in 1880 France gained control of Tahiti, what is now called French Polynesia, and actions were taken to restrict the plundering of the seabed. Other countries followed suite and by the 1900s, with the spread of western civilization, restrictions were imposed on the fishing industry throughout the Pacific, and the world had to look elsewhere in their search for Mother of Pearl.

European exploration of the Pacific Islands in search of Mother of Pearl continued, and in the 1920s it was discovered for the last time on a remote Island of the New Hebrides. But when explorers Sperry and Evans stumbled upon the use of Mother of Pearl, it was far from what they expected. They wrote, In the opposite corner of the central hut a line of mummies were placed like a barricade…Bushy mops of hair still clung to the heads, and their faces wore masks of clay, with huge eyes of Mother of Pearl that shone through the gloom staring at us with an uncanny effect. In fact the mummies weren’t ancestral members of the tribe, but were the bodies of a rival tribe…of cannibals!

In 19th Century America, where Mother of Pearl had been previously used as an inlay in furniture it found a new use in fashion, as buttons. Iowa became the center of the trade, shipping billions of iridescent fasteners until World War II, when newly invented plastics undercut the prices of Mother of Pearl buttons, all but driving them out of the market. The majority of Americas Mother of Pearl was sourced from the Gulf of California’s Abalone oysters. But these sources, like others throughout the world, were almost depleted and it wasn’t until the discovery of new-cultured farming techniques in Japan that the world’s Mother of Pearl producing oysters saw a return in numbers.

Copyright © SilverShake Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

This article was written for the Silvershake website, an online retailer of []sterling silver jewelry at wholesale prices. See 1000’s of []mother of pearl silver jewelry items at prices 80% below normal retail prices. Make one purchase per month and receive []silver jewelry worth up to $60...Absolutely free, everytime!

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Making Polymer Clay Beads

Image by Desiree McCrorey.
Making Polymer Clay Beads - A Fun New Craft Idea the Whole Family Can Enjoy
By []Jamie Jefferson

With an infinite range of design options available, it's no wonder homemade polymer clay beads are getting so much attention in the crafting world. Suitable for both adults and children (ages 8 and up), working with polymer clay beads can give you a whole new way of having fun with your kids, too.

What are polymer clay beads?
Polymer clay beads are beads fashioned out of polymer clay, which is sometimes known simply as "Fimo." (Fimo is the brand name for a particular type of this clay, manufactured by Eberhard Faber.)

This polymer clay can be molded into a variety of different creations. Then you simply bake the clay in your home oven to create a hard, durable material that you can drill, slice, sand, and paint to achieve even more creative effects.

Because polymer clay is so easy to work with, it has become a popular way to make your own beads for jewelry making.

Making Polymer Clay Beads

The process of making the beads is simple. Just pinch off a bit of the clay, knead it in your hands and shape it into the form you like.

You can make polymer clay beads in a variety of different shapes, using a variety of techniques and tools. There's no real limit except your imagination, and you can work with the clay over and over again (until it has been baked.)

Molding the clay requires firm pressure, but it keeps its shape well once fixed. It is easiest to work with when it's slightly warm, so if you are having trouble getting it to cooperate, you may want to move to a warmer work area or warm up your hands a bit.

Rounded beads are simplest for the beginner but you can soon learn how to make beads that are square, star shaped, heart shaped or designed to look like tiny animals. Flower shaped beads are also very popular.

To make the beads in different colors, start by choosing from the numerous colors of polymer clay that are commercially available. You can achieve a marbled effect by working with multiple colors at once. Once your creations have been baked, you can paint them with acrylics or even fingernail polish to give them extra gloss and sparkle.

It's easy to make holes in Fimo beads, so you can thread them together into bracelets or necklaces or sew them onto clothes. You can drill holes in the hard beads, once they have been baked. Or you can make holes in the soft clay before you bake your beads.

A toothpick is perfect for piercing holes through Fimo clay once the beads have been shaped. Wiggle the toothpick around to make sure that the sides of the holes are smooth and bits won't fall down to clog them during baking.

You can also use a wooden skewer to make holes in your beads. Carefully push a skewer through the center of your finished bead, being careful not to change its shape. Fill the skewer with beads (being careful that they don't touch each other). Then support the skewer on a baking rack or other oven-proof container so the beads don't change shape during baking. Bake the beads directly on the skewer.

Baking Your Beads

You'll need to bake all your clay creations to make them hard and shiny and to ensure that they keep their shape. You can do this in an ordinary oven on a baking sheet, but follow the instructions on each packet of the product to make sure you get the temperature just right. (If the polymer clay is baked at too high of a temperature, it can emit dangerous gases.) Your beads will be hard and ready to string together into jewelry once the clay is baked and cooled.

The manufacturer recommends this type of polymer modeling compound for ages 8 and up, with adult supervision, because the use of an oven is required, and the product should not be ingested.

Once you have the basics down, experiment with different varieties and brands of polymer clay, each of which has a different level of malleability. You can also get polymer clay in a variety of effects, such as translucent, iridescent, and glow-in-the-dark, to create beads and jewelry that are truly one-of-a-kind.

The author has compiled the []latest savings on Fimo and polymer clay here. You can also browse []Discount Art Supplies and []Discount Craft Supplies and Coupon Codes.

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Saturday, December 29, 2007

I know, it has nothing to do with Jewelry but...

11 Tips on How to Start a Hand-Crafted Jewelry Business

Hand-Crafted Jewelry - 11 Tips on How to Start a Hand-Crafted Jewelry Business
By []Allen Jesson

If you have tinkered with hand crafted jewelry projects in the past and you think you have the passion and talent for it, you might be ready to go to the next level. Selling your hand crafted jewelry to other people is a decision not to take lightly, but if you have patience and perseverance, future success is an inevitable outcome.

Tip #1

Practice with DIY hand crafted jewelry kits. These give you all the supplies you need together with instructions on how to assemble everything together. Add embellishments reflecting your style to the end product. This will let you further explore your style and determine just what works best for you.

Tip #2

Mix and match. Try making jewelry pieces using different materials. Experiment with beads, gems, crystals, various wires and knots, and other objects. This will increase your experience for working with different items; a necessity in your kind of business since jewelry pieces are dependent on the subjective and varying tastes of clients.

Tip #3

Increase your knowledge about jewelry in general. Learn all the types of precious and semi-precious stones commonly and rarely used in making jewelry pieces today. Learn which of them are considered birthstones. Know the history, myth, and legend associated with each and every stone. Know the physical properties of the materials you will be using and how these would affect your jewelry piece when you start fusing them together.

Know which cords work better with which kind of items. A silk bead cord, for instance, works well with freshwater pearls because they can be easily inserted through smaller holes. Tiger tails are good if you do not wish to use a needle for inserting them through beads.

Acquaint yourself with commonly used terms, abbreviations, figures, and systems used in jewelry making. In plating, GF would mean gold-filled while SC will mean silver color metal. Know that 14K gold would be referred to as .585 in Europe. For wire gauges, you should understand that a smaller wire diameter translates to a larger figure.

Consider educating yourself officially by taking up a jewelry making course. If not this, enroll in a jewelry making workshop or apprentice in a well-known jewelry store. Read books on jewelry.

Tip #4

Participate in all the jewelry-related events in your area. These will include but are not limited to bazaars, art exhibits, and trade shows. You will get to meet a wide variety of individuals there, and many of them will have the means of helping you out with your plans.

Tip #5

Find a supplier. It's not that easy to break into the jewelry industry if you're going to purchase all your supplies from the mall. You need to find a direct way to contact a jewelry supplier and do business with them. It will help you reduce production costs and give you the opportunity to purchase hard-to-find items sooner than others.

Tip #6

Hand crafted jewelry does not mean that you will not be using tools and equipment. You will still have to invest a small amount of money to purchase crimping and handling tools to make your job easier.

Tip #7

Visit jewelry shops online or not, read jewelry magazines, and watch jewelry shows to feed your mind with ideas for your next design. Doing so also keeps you updated with the latest trends in the fashion industry.

Tip #8

Build a website. Whether you are going to sell online or not, a website will provide your customers a shop open 24/7, ready at any time to display your latest works.

Tip #9

Be prepared to repair jewelry pieces. It is unavoidable for any jewelry shop to receive repair requests and in some cases, the costs are yours to shoulder completely. You need to set up a system to ensure efficient and fair service for repair concerns.

Tip #10

If you are going to sell your jewelry pieces to other jewelry shops, dress professionally. Wear your jewelry pieces if possible. And don't accept consignment unless you fully trust the other party.

Tip #11

A hand crafted jewelry business is just like any other business in the sense that you need to perform some basic bookkeeping activities. This will let you know if your newly established business is struggling or earning.

Allen Jesson writes for several sites that specialize in []Vintage Engagement Rings. and []Antique Engagement Rings, Providing you with product reviews, information and guides that are essential when purchasing any type of []Engagement Ring.

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Jewelry Design Ideas

Jewelry Design Ideas - How You Can Wow Them With More Color By Christine Gierer

Imagine injecting your sterling silver with blue, red, or chartreuse. I'm not talking about beads or gemstones (although I looove those too).

Here's a pop quiz: What materials can you bond, glue, or drip onto metal to add colour?

I can think of a few intriguing but common materials that you can experiment with. Can you guess what they are?

The first is...

If you can mix glue with a stick, you can use this low-tech material in your work. This relatively inexpensive medium can produce maximum results.

Epoxy is a 2 part mixture: a resin, and a hardener. Once they're mixed, it's only a matter of time it becomes a hard, durable, super glossy clear plastic substance that can be drilled, glued and sanded. It's the equivalent of 50 coats of varnish and dries to a mirror finish.

Where does the colour come in? Here's the really fantastic part - colour it with acrylic paint, gouache, jello powder, makeup powder, spices from your kitchen, or anything else you can think of.

Try layering it, drip it into etched or stamped depressions on sterling or copper sheet, and pour it into bezels. You can even try dipping things into it. Just keep in mind that epoxy is a glue, so somehow suspend any dipped work while waiting for it to cure. You don't want to bond it to anything!

You can buy two-part epoxy from the hardware store in little 2-sided syringes, and from craft and hobby suppliers in larger 2 bottle kits. You might find the larger quantity kits in some hardware stores too.

Things to know about epoxy:
- It cures up fast. Hardware store epoxy usually comes in the 5 and 11 minute varieties, and other epoxies are quick too. Make sure you factor in working time, and only mix up as much as you can use in the 5 or 10 minutes.

- Don't mix it with, or on, anything you ever want to use again. I like to mix up mine on a scrap piece of paper with a popsicle stick.

- Don't inhale it or touch it with your bare skin before it cures. It's nasty for your health. Always take proper precautions when working with chemicals.

The second material is...

What common craft material comes in every colour of the rainbow, translucent and opaque, liquid and solid, is moldable, and can be hardened in a regular oven?
Polymer clay of course! Polymer clay is made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and goes under various brandnames, including FIMO, Sculpey, and Friendly Clay. In case you were wondering, polymer clay usually has no actual "clay" in it.

Polymer clay can be used for more than sculting beads and pendants. Try gluing tiny pieces onto cut metal sheet components to make mosaics. Fill slices of sterling tubing with clay. Experiment with the liquid clays and coloured powders on the market.

Things to know about polymer clay:

- Each manufacturer makes its clay differently and each brand has slightly different qualities and baking temperatures so always read the instructions.

- Polymer clay needs to be "conditioned" before you can work with it. You can condition clay by kneading it with your hands, or running it through a dedicated food processor. Some people like to sit on it for awhile (in a baggie of course! )to warm it before kneading.

- Use dedicated tools with your polymer clay. You don't want to use your polymer clay rolling pin to make cookies with later.

Important notes: Do not attempt to use any of these materials without understanding what you need to do to protect your health and your surroundings. Don't inhale fumes, contaminate your household utensils, or accidentally melt, burn, glue, or set yourself or anything else on fire.

Above all else, always have a sense of fun and be open to lucky accidents! If an experiment flops, it's a learning experience. The best lessons are taught by our "failures".

To read the full version of this article learn about other materials, visit []'s Jewelry Articles page. Christine Gierer is a self-taught jewelry maker, crafter, and stay-at-home-mom who who has written numerous articles on making and marketing handmade jewelry.

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The Complete Bead Guide

Click Here!

Beading and jewelry Making

Click Here!

What Are Seed Beads?

By []Shelley Green

Seed beads are called this as they are so tiny like little seeds. They are produced usually in mass so sold by weight rather than amount. I for one would not want to be counting out little tiny beads one by one! They are about 1mm in size but they do vary. There are different sizes of seed beads.

Seed beads range from under a millimetre to several millimetres in size. The term "seed bead" is a term used for any small bead which is normally round.

Different shops and sources explain that the seed beads are measured per inch, meaning that a size 11/0 would be that 11 beads would measure one inch. This is roughly correct but not exact and this measurement relates to the original glass rod that the beads are made from and not the individual beads.

As a general rule the larger the number, the smaller the bead is going to be.

Seed beads have many uses, I would say almost infinite as I am finding new uses and new ideas and ways to use them all of the time. They are used to sew on to garments or material to give a 3D effect and an extra something special. My main use for seed beads is jewellery making, but I think you may have already guessed that by looking at my site!

Seed beads come in all different colours, pretty much any colour that you can imagine. Some of them are matt in colour and some have a shiny look to them. I have some beautiful seed beads that are clear on the outside and have a gold or silver centre, these look very impressive when made into a necklace or other piece of jewellery.

I love working with seed beads, either on their own or mixing them together with tones, or I sometimes use them as smaller spacer beads between other larger beads that I have when making jewellery.

A lot of the more extravagant necklaces and beaded jewellery on my site are made with seed beads but using a pattern. The pattern is similar to a pattern that you may use for cross stitch or knitting. Most bead making patterns have both diagrams and also written instructions to follow. It takes concentration to follow a pattern but the end result is really and truly amazing, as you can see by the jewellery on my site. I use a thread called nemo, which is like cotton by very strong and a needle and literally sew the beads together to make the jewellery. I follow patterns and also make my own patterns an I like to add an individual touch to my jewellery as do my designers.

Shelley Green is the owner of [], a site that specialises in beads and beaded jewellery. This site is for bead lovers everywhere!

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Designing Your Own Jewelry

Designing Your Own Jewelry
By []Nicole Lindsey

Many consumers are catching on to the notion that designing their own jewelry is not such a bad idea after all. There are varying reasons in which consumers may choose to create their own jewelry instead of purchasing it ready made. Some of these reasons include therapy, for sell, gifting, and to cut costs. Depending on the style of jewelry that a buyer is need of, the cost may not be as affordable as one may have expected. Casual, costume, personalized, and Swarovski bridal jewelry are just a few of the many styles of jewelry that can be created in the comforts of your home. Let’s explore the pros and cons of handmade jewelry.


In recent years, researchers have found that designing jewelry has therapeutic properties. This is a great exercise for someone that is looking for a leisure hobby. It is true that in many ways creating your own jewelry can be self-fulfilling and therapeutic, however, for a bride, designing her own Swarovski bridal jewelry may not agree with her time schedule. When it comes to wedding planning, time is of the essence, and the more that a bride can do to decrease her level of stress, the easier her trip down the wedding aisle will be.

For Selling

For those jewelry lovers that are looking for ways to make a little extra money, selling handmade jewelry will give them the best of both worlds. There is nothing more fulfilling than doing something that you enjoy and making money while doing it! When selling handmade jewelry, it is important to consider your competitors. Many consumers, brides in particular, are more apt to shop at a brick and mortar store or a more established online jewelry store. If you plan to sell handmade Swarovski bridal jewelry, then be aware that you have a lot of steep competition ahead of you.


There is nothing more special than the thought behind a special gift. Making jewelry for your loved one is a wonderful gift idea for birthdays, Christmas, and weddings. A bride might consider designing her girlfriends wedding jewelry as a unique bridesmaids gift or she might solicit a dealer that specializes in handmade Swarovski bridal jewelry.

Cut Costs

While there are hundreds of jewelry kits on the market, Swarovski crystals have proven to be among the few that are considered to be of high quality. Not only do everyday consumers enjoy wearing Swarovski jewelry, but also Swarovski bridal jewelry is a number one pick for many brides. Although cutting costs is important for many brides, cutting time is equally as important. In the wedding industry, many jewelry dealers offer discount prices on Swarovski wedding jewelry so that brides will not have to break their banks or spend unnecessary time hand making their own jewelry.

When investing your time and money into making your own jewelry, it is important to consider your motivation for creating your jewelry and whether or not it is cost and time-effective.

Nicole Lindsey writes about fashion, jewelry and weddings for Silverland Jewelry and gifts.

Find a wide selection of []swarovski crystal necklaces and other crystal wedding jewelry

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Silver wire

I just started the site, but adding things daily! Check me out! Also I have a myspace, join me:

More Handmade Designs

All My pieces are handmade. I am self-taught, but I study designs in mags, on the web, and at festivals and outdoor shows. I love working festivals and selling my jewelry with different vehicles because I feel validated as a designer. I usually sell really cheap because I just feel so good that someone likes my work..."They love me, they really love me."

I love this Bead!