Thursday, December 12, 2013

Contrasts Make the World Go Round . . .

Where Would We Be without Contrasts?

Adjust the contrast too much on your computer photos 
and they either fade into a cloud of whiteness 
or are gobbled up by the darkness. 

Finding the right amount of contrast, somewhere between too dark and too light is perfect! So it is with more than photographs, too.

One element that makes jewelry look pleasing is the use of contrasts. But it is more complex in a three-dimensional world than in a photograph! Colors can contrast with each other, the bright and the dim, the bold and the reticent. In jewelry, shapes can play into this concept in many ways: large and small, smooth and rough, natural and manmade, round and square, etc. Too much of one characteristic without a balance is unpleasant — yes, this also applies to politics!

Here's the story behind one particular necklace. 

It started with this beautiful paintbrush jasper stone that caught my eye. (There are more and better images at the link above the image.) The light and dark colors that make up this gemstone are so evenly divided that there is no way to think of it as light on dark or dark on light — both are equally prominent and yet earthy in a random sort of way. I found that fascinating. At 1.5 inches in diameter it was destined to be a large pendant. 

At first a plain cord necklace seemed right. It would not distract from the beauty of the stone. But the result was too stark and made the stone seem like an abandoned creature, plunked on string. What kind of beads would show off this pendant and work with it? Nothing seemed right. So it sat for a few months.

Quite by chance I ordered a supply of various beads and discovered Czech glass faceted beads in a color called mossy green with cream and brown highlights. These man-made beads are all different shades and color combinations and remind me of labradorite with its interesting glow. I love these beads! The lights and darks of the beads match the paintbrush jasper colors. So it was back to creating again.

Placing the Czech beads side by side was overpowering and didn't display the variety of their colors well. What happened, in terms of contrast, was that the dark shades were too much and the light too few. Balance was askew. Adding light was needed. One tiny gold bead between larger beads was a step in the right direction, but not enough. Adding two tiny beads put enough bright color in the necklace to balance the darks — and the pendant. 

A few dabs of gold, in the large, tooled, bail and the toggle clasp make this earthy pendant seem like a treasure rather than an orphan. In November this item was the most viewed of any in my shop. It is still looking for a good home.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Necklace for a Bold Woman

What Came First?
The Woman or the Necklace . . . 

Does wearing a bold necklace make a person bolder? Or does a bold person pick an unforgettable necklace?

This is something I think about because most of the neck jewelry I make is not very subtle. This conundrum is not like the chicken and egg one. We know the human was first!

Let me give you an example. I was reading about some old Celtic myths and found reference to women priestesses who were guardians of the tree of life. This tree is common in myths of many cultures and is considered the source of all life. According to what I read, in an ancient time there was a class of people who were the spiritual leaders, scholars, healers, etc. and they could be male or female. (How'd we lose that?) Some of these female priestesses were guardians of the "tree of life." 

I imagined these superior beings and what jewelry they might wear. 

Precious, earthy, bold, rustic, contrasty, elegant, and lush are some of the ideas that ran in my brain. 

This is an emerald green and gold double-strand necklace. The unusual focal pendant is fancy jasper. There are also segments of fancy jasper chips to add a rustic and earthy tinge to the necklace. These gals must have loved earthy green gemstones!

Several gold-plated diamond-shaped beads with Celtic symbols twinkle amid the lush green strands. Somewhat hidden, emerald green bicone crystals add some sparkle. Square kambaba jasper gemstones and small round moss agate gemstone beads, in various shades of green, and at regular intervals,  add order and symmetry in contrast to the rugged and various-shaped chips. All these shades of green combine for a vibrant effect. A gold-plated toggle clasp seems to add an ancient feel to this piece. 

Spiritual sage, healer, guardian, scholar . . . I believe she would have loved this!

People today love it! This item is one-of-a-kind and has the most "views" of any of my items. The question remains: does a bold woman choose this necklace or does the necklace create a bold woman?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Observing the Extremes of Opposites

Noticing Those
Funny Extremes

It is my opinion that many things in day-to-day circumstances are like scenes from a comedy show!

Here I am, for instance, trying to promote my jewelry and art creations and being oh so diligent. But the things that seem to sell are the silly ones. Take this for instance:

This ornament is one people just love. You have to admit we all can relate to it, even if only a secret admission! This is a photo of a real hippo and he lives in Florida! I love to visit him and watch him enjoying the attention of his daily visitors. Sometimes he seems to be an entertainer and other times he is just like this image, collapsed! We're not that different from him!  But I work so hard to promote my "serious" jewelry! These sell, I think there is a joke here.

Cooking Is Fun
Well, Maybe Not

Cooking is not one of my favorite things. Probably because it takes a lot of practice to do well, plan ahead, and schedule the whole process. And then there is the mess to clean up! Bah Humbug!

There is a lot of joy in my belly when I wear this when cooking! It brings more pleasure to the chores than the act of eating. Well, almost as much. What is it about proclaiming our attitude to those watching and even to just ourself that makes us happy? This apron is a mental health adjustment tool and people who buy it understand.

Could It Be . . .

That items we create, sell, or purchase, are all made and bought for mental health reasons? Think about that. 

Look around. There is the huge woman at the gym with a water bottle that cost more than her whole outfit. But it affirms her place in the "fitness world" to herself. How many sports cars are owned by retirees? We all know a wealthy person wearing old ratty shoes because they cannot let themselves think they have some money. This is the stuff of comedy skits. It is part of being human. Things are not what they seem and may be the exact opposite!

Perhaps I am just silly and for that reason must make and sell serious jewelry

Many of my ornaments and jewelry designs are on display here where you can follow my Pinterest boards.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Choices in a World of Plenty

The Mystery of Choices

While muddling through a hurricane of choices 
these last few days I pondered the nature of 
choices and how strange they are. 

The instigator of this mental process was the purchase of an iPad. Well, sort of. I have had one for a few years and decided to upgrade. The decision came down to just a few choices: black or white, how much memory, with or without cellular service. Simple decision for me: white, big memory, wi-fi only. Done.

It arrived two weeks ago and still sits in the box. I'm waiting until I get a cover or case for it to prevent scratches. My used equipment, blemish-free, is sold used for decent prices.

Getting a case should be a simple choice. I want a case that covers the back of the unit, not a fancy cover that acts like a tipsy stand. My hunting and buying is mostly done online on Amazon and eBay. I started there and found one case with more than 4000 positive reviews. Wow, that is one to read about. It must be more than great -- perhaps it does miracles too! The most recent reviews are for the case in question but the majority are for earlier versions which are different sizes and shapes. Can these really be all reviewed together?

Some cases were listed at selling prices under $10 and their reviews said they were the same or better than the $79 case from Apple. Other people said these cheap cases broke, came unglued, smelled bad,  aggravated the dog, or worse. Besides, will I feel good with something costing several hundred dollars living in a $6 case made in an overseas sweatshop? Oh, the iPad itself is made overseas in a not-so-sweaty shop.  So . . .

Off to Staples I go with a coupon, but they don't have any cases for the new iPad. Then I trek to Office Depot, nothing for that model either. This is after being assured on both websites that several cases are "in stores." Then to Best Buy. They have plenty according to their website and my eyes glaze over seeing their huge selection. People were grabbing them up like free candy! I scanned the boxes for a back-only cover, not hard plastic. Oh, if said cover is compatible with a front cover it will have one side mostly missing as a place for a hinge. So I want a back cover made to stand alone and be incompatible with a front cover. Oh, I found one!! The only one in this store.

After a few minutes of clenching the precious box, I read the small print and learn it is for an obsolete (wrong size) iPad. Then upon further scrutiny I realize this plethora of cases is 90% for old model iPads! Some people are going to be very unhappy!

Every night the past week has had a vigil of online searching for the case. Hours and hours of searching. I learn that there are: leather cases, PU leather cases in which case PU means pseudo, vegan leather which does not come from an animal, hard plastic, soft plastic, silicon, TPU plastic also called soft rubber, and gummy plastic, yuck! Sometimes the exact same images are used with descriptions referring to any of the above materials. How can that be? How can the same thing be both hard and soft, real leather and PU leather? How can these be sold for $2 or even $6??

I love red, I want a red case! But this iPad has a much thinner border around the working part of the screen and the edges. I'm not sure reading books with a red border around the pages would be eye-friendly. Some red cases have a large border on the front of the iPad covering its beautiful white surface. Nah!

I'm thinking I have to return the iPad. I have spent countless hours looking for a case and am no where. Wait! I'll buy that Apple case that everyone says is hugely overpriced. It comes with a front cover which I do not want. But I cannot justify paying such money for a dumb case. Maybe I have to return the iPad. Why is it impossible to make a choice? Now this is getting to be a fascinating study of the decision process. It is not that there are too many choices, it is that the listings online are misleading and make me feel uninformed. I'm worried about the prices being too low. Why are the reviews supposedly for one item really reviews for several very different items all mixed in?

I can't make a purchase. Another few days of scurrying around the exact same mental crumbs and poorly edited listings for iPad cases that continually refer to iPhones makes me a crippled consumer.

There are not too many choices. There are choices without all the data. Choices with incorrect info and missing item views (what are they hiding!) prices that barely cover shipping costs. It all does not seem logical or practical or wise for any seller. That's what is wrong.

I'm promoting some of my own creations on Pinterest and Twitter. I'm cautious about my listings being accurate and photos showing what needs to be seen. I've edited every listing to eliminate ambiguity if possible.

Here's one listing:
Images: closeup, full length, clasp shown. The text outlines the dimensions, materials, and more. I hope anyone who checks out this listing does not fall into the decision quicksand that gobbled up my purchase of an iPad case.