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red agateJust perfect for your Halloween creations -- these Red Agate Evil Eye beads are of stone that was formed from layers of silica from volcanic cavities. Agate is named after the Achates River (now known as the Dirillo River) on the island of Sicily, Italy, whose upper waters were an ancient source of this gemstone. Each strand offered here has 16 round faceted beads, with colors ranging from red to amber, as shown. Each bead is approx. 10 mm. with an approx. 2 mm. hole. Each strand is $10, but for a limited time, take 10% off with the code HALLOWEEN at checkout.

 

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bloodstoneI know not many folks design men’s jewelry, maybe because during our time, so many men haven't worn it. But our experience has been that the guys who are interested will take great care in seeking out the things that appeal to them, so we thought we’d share some tips in case you want to try your hand at this angle.

One thing to think about before you start is the fact that you may not know what guys would want in a necklace or bracelet. You can ask your guy friends and just start experimenting, but you still might not feel confident about the approach. One big piece of advice is to always remember that for men, some of the most important elements are color, material, scale and style.

• Scale – Men are generally bigger than women. So design their jewelry that way! Thick, chunky and simple are usually better than delicate or elaborate.
• Color – Usually the best bet is with darker, more subdued colors. If you introduce something lighter/brighter, keep it subtle rather than letting it have center stage.
• Materials – Consider ‘guy’ materials – dark-grained woods, natural stone, antiqued bone, horn, shell; with gemstones, look for hematite, onyx, obsidian, bloodstone, amber, jasper, turquoise, lapis lazuli, amethyst, labradorite, sardonyx, and malachite.
• Shapes – Look for natural/raw nuggets, heishi, chip beads and squares

Why launch into this realm? For one thing, there isn’t a lot of competition – certainly not like with women’s jewelry! And you know that generally a man is very discerning about what jewelry he chooses to wear. Lots of guys rule out wearing any type of jewelry that’s handmade – but those who wear it can be very interesting! They may be young, a rebel, generally unconventional, or have some special ‘story’ or ‘image’ to express through their jewelry. They might be interested in a slim necklace with a small pendant, like a star of David, or a zodiac sign -- or a beaded necklace that looks great on the beach or with casual clothing. You can still find articles seriously debating whether or not men ‘should’ wear jewelry. But except for the most serious, business-oriented magazines and articles, the consensus seems to be this—

It’s fine for men to wear jewelry. Our society is now liberal enough to not think twice about it. They are generally ‘pressured’ to wear it only in moderation – and to be more conservative than women. But if they keep it simple, wear it in good taste, and avoid ostentation, most folks believe it can help a man look good rather than outlandish.

wedge 3Some of our most admired beads and pendants ever came out of JoAnn Wedge's kiln. I've never gotten around to interviewing her before -- but now's the time! (BTW, please let us know if you are a bead/jewelry artisan and want to be featured -- we love to discover new talent! Especially within the ranks of our subscribers!!) So here goes about JoAnn --

Sheila: How did you get started in the business of bead-making, and why?

JoAnn: Well, as I was learning to do fused glass in pottery kilns and making large items, they were expensive and hard to sell. So as I started doing smaller and smaller items, I finally got into jewelry (mostly to use up scraps) and learned how to make glass beads for watches and bracelets. They got attention, sold and that encouraged me to stick with the smaller stuff. I finally sold the pottery kilns (7 cu. ft. size!!) and went to smaller kilns so turnaround was much quicker and less expensive!!

Sheila: How did you learn?

yellow glassJoAnn: Had one girlfriend in Merritt Island, a stained glass worker that started doing fusing and spent a day with her, made a fused glass bowl and was hooked on glass. After I bought $750 worth of equipment and tools (and glass), I took it back to Colorado where I lived at the time, and started experimenting. Mostly I taught myself. There were very few books on the subject 20 years ago. But the curiosity about the medium and playing with the infinite possibilities of the craft, I kept going until I finally gave up pottery and devoted all my time to glass -- mostly jewelry --embellishing it with beads, crystals, and silver. That was 11 years ago.

Sheila: What would you call your style?

JoAnn:  I don't know. I love detail and intricate designs (as my pottery showed), so many if not all of my pieces are very detailed. Recently, I've been embellishing with flatback Swarovski crystals, small pearls and tiny beads. I refer to it as "bead-embellished fused glass". I think it is very elegant, almost Victorian in looks. With a high level of "flair", these are statement pieces and stand alone as a focal in any design.

Sheila: Do you make jewelry?

JoAnn: Yes, lots of it. Many (almost all) of my pieces are featured on my Facebook page "Wedge Fused Glass". I use that venue to document, record, and promote new pieces. I also sell from that site if people PM me for more info. 

spiral pot janieWe recently had a delightful time at the annual Folk & Bluegrass Festival in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. In addition to the amazing music, divine summer weather, and forest setting, there are always the most fun vendors – including handmade jewelry vendors – in the tents on the grounds.

This time I met JanieK Terrel, who works in a lovely combination of clay, beads, leather and stone – and one other unique element – oil! She makes and sells these great little aromatherapy necklaces. Tiny artisan pots to hold an infinite variety of therapeutic oils are strung on genuine leather and adorned with Japanese and Czech glass beads, beautiful metal findings, and semi-precious gemstones; each is unique and one of a kind.

We love the way you can see the ancient beauty of the high mountains and red deserts of the New Mexico wildlands where Janie was born. An old stone carver who has transitioned into a potter of tiny clay vessels, she now lives and works in Ruidoso, New Mexico. The necklace I chose to take home is a soft blue and brown, with a sacred spiral – a similar theme in many of Janie’s pieces. But she works in many themes, ranging from ancient symbols and designs, to simple boho, southwestern, and spiritual. The colors tend to be soft, earthy and glimmering – and in conversation with Janie I could tell she enjoys the process of seeing what unexpected things the glazes will do during the firing process – almost always a joy for experienced and creative potters.

The fact that these beautiful creations hold therapeutic and life-enhancing oils is a great bonus! Anyone who has explored the use of such oils in their life knows what a treat – and sometimes essential therapy – these oils can be. Whether you want an alternative to pricey and synthetic perfumes and colognes, or something to infuse your life with a palpable meditation aid – a healing substance – or just to enjoy – oils are a great way to go. There are lots of options, but JanieK and I especially recommend edensgarden.com for very high quality, pure oils, at wholesale prices -- with free shipping and no memberships required.

ruby necklace 1Many cultures have long considered ruby a stone of kings. Ruby symbolism and lore have been associated with power, wealth, the protection of these assets. Possessing a ruby supposedly benefited and protected the owner’s holdings and assisted in the accumulation of wealth, including the acquisition of more gems!

When worn as a talisman, ruby’s mystical properties extended to personal protection. People believed if they wore the stone on the left, the heart side, they would live peacefully. No-one could rob them of their land or rank. The special blood-colored stone would save them from all perils.

The blood-like color of the ruby no doubt encouraged associations with this life-sustaining fluid. Those who risked their lives were believed to have a special connection to the gem. The ancient Burmese prized the ruby as the stone of soldiers. They believed it bestowed invulnerability. However, wearing it on the left was not sufficient. Only those who had rubies physically inserted into their flesh would gain this benefit; then would they be safe from wounds from spears, swords, or guns. It was also believed rubies could remedy bleeding and inflammation, and increase the warmth of the body.

The ruby’s inner glow seems to hint that it contains an inner fire. This visual effect may have inspired some curious beliefs -- such as -- "A ruby placed in water can bring it to a boil," or "If hidden in a wrapping, the gem can shine through and reveal its presence." Stories are told of rubies that emit their own light. One was even described as “shining like a torch.”

All varieties of rubies were thought to hold similar properties. In addition to their protective powers, they were said to control evil thoughts, dispel anger, and resolve disputes. However, darker rubies were considered “male” and lighter gems “female.” When people in the Middle Ages encountered gems with carved images, they believed these were found this way in nature. Although these stones were carved in ancient times, they didn’t think humans crafted them into such shapes. They believed these discoveries to possess special powers. For example, in the 13th century CE work, The Book of Wings, Ragiel writes:

The beautiful and terrible figure of a dragon. If this is found on a ruby or any other stone of similar nature and virtue, it has the power to augment the goods of this world and makes the wearer joyous and healthy.

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