Friday, April 24, 2015

LAST DAY!

It's super busy around here so I'm gonna post and run but I just wanted to let you know that TODAY,
April 24, 2015 is the LAST DAY to order Mama Bird Stackers and have them arrive by Mother's Day! It's too late for the Bird on a Wire Necklaces as I simply can't get them made and shipped by Mother's Day.
 

Also, my new Rise Above Solid Band Rings are in the shop!
 

I really like the idea of these as graduation gifts.
They are made to order in any of the sizes I have available.
 

Please visit my website for more information and to read the story behind these newest rings:
 
Sorry for the post and run but I'm on dinner duty!!
Have a great one y'all!
 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Spring Cleaning



Spring has sprung around here and we are truly enjoying the longer days, warmer weather and plenty of time spent with face to the sun.
 
And just as the freshness of Spring brings on the marathon house cleaning sessions, I'm finding my mind doing a little house cleaning as well.
 
It's far too often that my mind hurls me into this whirlwind of self-doubt and questioning of my abilities when the work of my hands isn't as productive as the work of someone else's.
 
"What's she got that I don't?"
"Why are her designs so much more popular than mine?"
It's a beyond vicious cycle that really puts you into a free-fall spin.
 
The result is this "design-to-sell" mentality that doesn't have place in the mind of someone whose goal is to be an artist. If my goal is to make money, it doesn't take a genius to do a little market research (i.e. scan the Etsy Jewelry page) and figure out what the trends are.
But is that really me?
 
Do I want to simply pour resources and time into creating a mini production house or do I want to reach for something way higher?
Am I content with my skill set or do I want to add to my cache of knowledge, challenging my hands and heart to stretch their capabilities to leave behind me a body of work that my children will one day consider hidden treasures and not antiquated trends?
 
It's sad to me that I would even begin to equate my level of talent with the money that it generates (or doesn't).
Ridiculous.
Also ridiculous that in my work I'm essentially exchanging a precious metal which has shown to hold its value over time for a fiat currency that hasn't.
 
This is the kind of Spring Cleaning I'm talking about, a sweeping out of the junk that clutters the creative mind and allowing that space to be filled with the beauty of what I'm seeing day to day.
A baby growing into a girl, a bush that was just branches suddenly alive with color, a nest full of eggs destined to be a flock of birdies, and even the growth of my fully grown sisters into kind and confident women.
 
I'm also learning about my craft, immersing my self in stone and silver, studying gems and their birthplaces, but also the traditions of silversmiths going back generations whose work allows our work to be possible. Trying to suck every ounce of productivity out of the precious moments when I'm not needed by anyone else but my bench.
 
These latest designs are mine. They feel like me, and they come from a place that is really very real to me. They are made to order in my shop, which may collide with my desire to not do production work, but is it production if each whack of the hammer and stroke of the saw produce the real work of my hands and heart?
No.
To me, that feels like sharing. Each bangle, each charm, each band is my way to share with others the work of my hands and heart, the design dictated not by the fleeting trend of a celebrity or the say-so of a fashion mag.
 
The closest I've come is my stacking rings, though I feel like Mama Bird is the center of my stacks and the other bands and stones were made to complement her.  
 
Here is the work of my hands this week:
Each of these items is in the shop as a Made to Order item.
 
The first are my Feather Bearer Bangles. I currently have copper in the shop, but am working on a silver version. Each feather is hand stamped, the bangle is cut from the surrounding sheet (by my own two hands and gigantic saw) and the final version given this lovely dark patina so the feathers just jump off the bangle.
 
 
These little Solito Rings were made to complement my Mama Bird, but I've had some requests for them on their own, so they are also in the shop, and I'm currently offering them in the same stones as my birthstone rings.
 

 
Finally, my Pluma Rings.
Sterling Silver Feathers jingle and jangle with a turquoise drop from a 5mm band.
 
 


 
The best part about prototyping is that I get to keep the finished product and this little guy hasn't left my thumb since I made him and my most loyal customer (my sis) has already ordered one.
 
Thank you for stopping by to read this and I hope you're having a lovely Spring!




Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Full Mother's Day Collection

Once I find an idea, I have to run with it, see where it takes me and how it leads.
Often, it takes me where it wants to go, and I'm really just along for the ride.
I felt this way with this collection.
 
It started with the stacking rings, and I'm enjoying wearing my own set that I created and have been so honored and humbled by the response I've gotten for them.
 

 
But this is the crown of the collection if you will.
This Birds on a Branch Pendant.
 
I created this pendant to represent, not the babies, but the mamas, at each point in their lives carrying their babies. Each bird, a different form, a different shape and at a different point along the branch.

 
This particular one was created for a Mama with four babies, but I've already had orders for fewer babies and am willing to customize your pendant the way you need it even down to one little birdie.

 
These feel extra special to me, I don't know why and I can't explain it, my sister and I have remarked how sometimes birthstones can clash when you bundle them together, but this gives each stone life to me. The birdies aren't meant to be the same, just like the babies aren't the same (that was indeed the reasoning behind my decision to offer a mix of faceted and smooth stones).
 
However, together like this, they just feel like they belong.

 
If you would like more information about these necklaces or the rings, please visit my website.
Also, please remember the deadline of April 15th! I don't want anyone to miss out, but this is a one-woman show here and I also can't stretch myself too thin!
 
I hope you have a wonderful Spring and are enjoying the (slightly) warmer air!
Thank you also to those of you who have commented on these pieces, the encouragement goes straight to my heart and is indeed a great push to become better.
Thank you.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

For the Mothers

I had the opportunity this week to spend some time really touching and admiring super high end jewelry. I was in awe of the skill and craftsmanship, but driving home I looked at my freshly polished Mama bird stacker and new instantly that this was the kind of jewelry I want to make. The kind that is accessible to the average woman.
 
I want the Mamas who wear these rings to be reminded every time they look at them of that first glimpse they had of their little one, of the night feedings, and afternoons at the park, the baseball games and late night test crams. I want to make jewelry that touches the soul and today it's the Mama soul.
 
 
 
 
 
Each Mama bird is hand cut by me from sturdy sterling silver and each stone is set by hand. I form and fabricate every band and finish it off with a lightly hammered texture and dark patina.

The stones are shown in the final photo and when choosing stones for these sets of rings, my initial thought was to choose just the shiny faceted stones, but children aren't all the same, are they? So, the stones will reflect that, some faceted with a few extra cuts and some smooth with a softness of color to celebrate the differences that are these little ones we love so much.
 
 
 
These are in my shop now and are limited edition, I will only keep the listings open until April 15th and then they will be closed. They are in both my webstore and Etsy. Thank you to those who have already contacted me and I'm honored to be a part of the way you've chosen to honor the Mothers in your life. If you know you won't be able to make complete payment by then, please contact me, I would love to work with you!
 
I also created this double Feather Bearer ring with this amazing Spring Green Gaspeite and Plume Agate Doublet. This ring is hefty and gorgeous and I also think perfect for Mother's Day. If you missed my story of the feather bearer, please jump back a couple of posts. It has inspired this small series of rings.
 


Friday, March 13, 2015

The Feather Bearer


"This is a thankless task," thought Galea. She straightened the basket slung on her hip and adjusted the wide leather strap on her shoulder. She was tired, and though her burden was not heavy, she was not accustomed to so much walking. She was also weary of the strange looks she was receiving from the townsfolk. They had looked at Andea like this, whispering that she was seeking favors of the Council, or even that she was crazy. It was different when Galea was merely her companion, but now that it was she with the basket, the stares and pointed fingers seemed more unbearable. She had walked over an hour to reach the Hall of Words and now arriving at the bottom of the steps, she hoped that they would at least offer her water for her troubles.

The gathering had taken longer this year than last. Andea had become ill two weeks ago, and this year Galea had spent two days gathering the feathers rather than just the one. The Wind Ravens had also been late, passing over the isle a full week later than their normal migration, but the harvest had been rich. Each feather plucked from the forest had been of the highest quality and Galea hoped they might show up late again next year, perhaps the warmer weather had affected their molting.  She may tire of the work, but she never tired of the feathers. Even now, she was running one through her fingers, the deep turquoise of the quill, and the barbs of the feather closest to it gave way eventually to a midnight blue, the deepest inkiest navy she had ever seen. She tucked it into the back of her braid, and began climbing the stairs to the top of the Hall.

She was surprised to see the heavy oak doors begin to swing open. When she reached the top of the stairs, a man was standing in the doorway. His ivory tunic marked him as a Wordkeeper. He bowed slightly to Galea.

"You are not she who brought the feathers last year," He did not seem upset, but curious.

"No. Andea has been ill and the gathering became my responsibility this year. She told me to simply knock and someone would take the feathers."

"My name is Ondil. You look weary, may I get you something?" He extended his hand to usher her in.

"Well, actually, I am very tired, and I wasn't exactly sure who I would meet when I arrived. The walk back is also very long. Yes. I would very much like a drink of water."

Ondil led her into a wide hall with ceilings that seemed to go on and on. The back of the hall was all windows giving so much light to the room. But what immediately caught her eye was the staircase. It was the most beautiful ivory stone she had ever seen and the banister, instead of being made of individual rails was one long sheet of stone that had been carved to resemble an unrolled manuscript. The roll started at the top of the stairs and descended all the way to the bottom with verse after verse of some kind of poem written in the Old Tongue traveling the length of the stairs. Galea realized someone was handing her a glass of water. She took it and murmured her thanks, unable to take her eye off the staircase.

"Galea," Ondil was reaching for her elbow, "do you know how important this work is to us?"

Galea was drawn back into the moment and her eyes met his, "how do you know my name?"

"Please come with me." Ondil took the glass from her hands and set it on a nearby table. She took his arm and they began to walk up the grand staircase. She couldn't help but run her hands along the stone banister as they walked. At the top of the stairs, Ondil let her toward another set of large oak doors. He put his finger to his lips directing her to be quiet and pushed on the door. It swung open slowly, but without making a sound. Inside were rows and rows of rich wooden desks and along the inner walls, shelves and shelves of books thick and thin. The outer wall that ran along the outside of the building was nothing but windows which lit the desks and made the tiny candleholders seem unnecessary. There were only three men working and as soon as they entered, the men put down their pens and left, exiting through the door at the opposite end of the room.

Galea couldn't help but catch a glance at the work stations as Ondil led her down the aisle of desks. At each station was an open and empty book, and there, sitting beside the inkpot, a worn and well used feather. The turquoise and navy had started to fade, but the markings of the Wind Raven were unmistakable and Galea's hands began to shake a bit as Ondil sat down at one of the desks.

"Do you know what we do here, Galea?"

She shook her head.

"Everyone knows of the Wordspeech, the Old Tongue, the words that give power to everything the Wordworkers do. It allows them to affect the weather, to heal, to calm the beasts, to control fire and even control the minds of men when used for ill. But, what most people don't know is that the written word has ten times the power of the spoken word. That is why a protection spell chiseled in stone and placed above the door has ten times the power of a Wordworker simply whispering the spell into the dark. The written word is permanent. It is given life when put to paper, and it is from this life that all the power of the Wordworker is drawn. We write the words, stories, and spells into being here, in this room and we found hundreds of years ago that when written with the quill from a Wind Raven, these words were given wings as well as life. That the power in them could travel long distances and the Wordworkers could call the wind to aid them in moving this power."

Ondil then picked up the quill and dipped it into the ink. "This is a spell for strength," he said, glancing at Galea's basket, "it is meant to help travelers who have a long journey ahead of them." He began to write in the Old Tongue, beautiful, curving letters that seemed to glow and dance as he wrote. Galea leaned in closer and squinted at the page. The letters were glowing! They were trembling ever so slightly like wind chimes in the breeze and they glowed a beautiful blue turquoise! When Ondil was finished he placed the feather on the desk, lifted the page and blew across it ever so slightly. The words stilled themselves and the blue faded to the black of the ink! Galea could not believe what she had just seen. She lifted the basket off her shoulder and handed it to Ondil.

"What you have seen today is the burden of the Feather Bearer. You are to share this knowledge with no one. Whether by want or necessity, Andea has passed this to you and it is yours by right from this day forth."

Ondil took her hand in both of his and bent down to press his forehead to the tops of her fingers. She held her breath. This was how the Council was greeted! It was a show of respect and admiration reserved only for those Wordworkers who held the highest power in the land.

Galea's hands really were trembling now and she felt Ondil press his hands around hers tightly to steady her nerves.

"This is a thankless task, Galea, and you alone will know how much thanks you are truly owed," Ondil said no more, but offered her his arm and led her once again down the grand staircase to the massive oak door. She had so many more questions, but Ondil opened the door and Galea walked out. She turned around to see Ondil bowing slightly as he shut the door.

Galea  began to descend the steps her hands still trembling with a feeling of awe in her heart. The long walk home that had seemed so daunting before no longer troubled her and neither did the stares of the passersby. She could feel the sun on her face and as she walked, a light breeze blew around her playing with the little tendrils of hair that had escaped her braid. She tucked the little hairs behind her ear, straightened the feather in her braid, and smiled.
 
The Feather Bearer Rings
For those who often feel burdened with the Thankless Tasks.
Here. 
 



 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

You've been served.

Today in my e-mail I received from Etsy my official notice that they had registered for an IPO with the SEC. I don't trust any of these people as far as I can throw them, and also I'm not a huge fan of this statement that was included in the letter:
"The SEC is the government agency that oversees IPOs. SEC rules require a "quiet period" around IPOs, meaning we are limited in what we can say on the topic, even to Etsy employees and the Etsy community. Most of the time, we'll have to say "no comment" to your questions, and I understand that may not be satisfying.
 
So I took it all as though I'd been handed divorce papers, and after the rocky relationship that Etsy's been having with the rest of the true makers, I say, it's high time this relationship ended.
 
As far as the statement above.....I know, I know, it's the government, yadda yadda...you have to obey the law, yadda yadda...but it all feels wrong to me not to mention I don't think it's in the original spirit of Etsy, so...what did I do?
 
I JUMPED SHIP!
 
I decided that this time I was gonna put my money where my mouth is, and so I did. I've got my own website now! Yup! Here it is:
 
 
 
Crazy, right?! Original, I know. But there it is! I'm slowly working through some of the design kinks and I've already listed a bunch of Made to Order items, but so far I'm very pleased with how it's coming out!
 
I've heard the most horrible things about how Etsy's been handling the reaction to it going public, even so far as to delete entire forum conversations to keep up appearances. I'll be slowly phasing out of Etsy, even moving my digital downloads to my website as soon as I can work through the logistics of that. In the meantime, here is my newest little ring:
 
I'm calling it the Winged Things Ring. A tiny feather perched on your finger. 
 


 
Also in the shop are Made to Order Sterling bands so you can turn your Winged Things ring into a stacker.

 
Tiny Bird on a Wire Stackers.


 
And, some of my Tribal Sliders that have been popular.
These are also Made to Order.


 
Rise Above Bangles in the shop, and you can choose your size. (There's nothing worse than a bangle that doesn't fit.)
 
Oh, and also, anything that you see in copper can be made in silver!
All listed here: www.labellajoya.com

 
I can't thank you guys enough for helping to make this possible. If you've purchased something from me (or even if you haven't), I would greatly appreciate you sharing my website with friends and family to help me get the word out.
 
Also, if you have Instagram, I post new work there constantly @labellajoya.
 
I did a giveaway on IG recently, and will probably work on doing one here very soon.
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
 
Enjoy the rest of your week!