Friday, April 3, 2009

An afternoon at Kaz's and a day of sales

A friend of mine recently ordered my lovely green aventurine set, Grace, that she'd spotted on my blog. The condition was I went to her place for a drink and a good catch up. She hasn't been very well lately, so I offered to bring lunch or dinner and feed her. I'm quite well known throughout my circle of friends for my culinary skills, so she didn't say no. We organised a lunch date and that was that.

A couple of days later she phoned me to ask if I worked in gold at all. I said I did, but didn't generally keep a huge stock of gold and asked her what she had in mind. She wanted to purchase a pair of earrings for a friend as a gift. In gold and something "either in browns or greens" were the instructions. Great. Brown or green with gold. Nothing more than that, but she said she liked my work and trusted my judgement and left the rest up to me.

Now that sort of thing is a bit of a challenge, so I really had to trust my instincts. I started preparing by making two pairs of 9 carat gold ear wires, both slightly different.

I then went to one of my local bead suppliers who I knew to sell single semi-precious stones and set about choosing the ideal stones for the brown or green earrings. After an hour or so comparing stones and combinations, the mission was accomplished.

Because I wanted to keep the cost reasonable I also made the decision to use some gold-filled components.

After spending the best part of a day out shopping for what I hoped would be the right thing, I returned to my home studio and the next morning set to work.

The brown ones are red rainbow jasper - although there are so many variations in jasper and I'm not overly familiar with the stone, I'm only going by what I've found out. I love the variations in the patterns, especially on the lower stone. The top stone is a deep, rich browny-red.

Next I made these lovely chrysocola and green garnet dangles. Once again, I love the patterned oval chrysocola disc, and the green garnet just sets it off perfectly.

The little rondelles perched on top of the garnets are 9 carat as well.

In addition to these, I made a couple of simple kambaba jasper drops I could have swapped onto one of these pairs of earwires if she'd preferred those (only having the two pairs of handmade wires, it was the only way to go).

The verdict

Yesterday was unveiling day.

As I was driving to her place she phoned to let me know she'd be home a couple of minutes after I arrived and to let myself in. She had also invited another girlfriend.

I was quite pleased about this, as I'd taken the majority of my jewellery along for show-and-tell and who can resist the opportunity to show one's work to others as well.

I'd made some lovely veggie burgers and salads for lunch, which I set about finishing off while the jewellery was perused. Kaz, being a non-meat eater later called them the best veggie burgers in the world. She co-owns the Famous Blue Raincoat Cafe and they may even end up on the menu!

Kaz opened her little box and was delighted with what she saw, then rushed off to put the new jewellery on. It looked great on her! I'd also made her an extra pair of earrings as a little gift, which she really liked as well.

All in all I sold both pairs of gold earrings (Kaz taking the jasper discs for her friend), my Morphed in Red coral nugget necklace and Pixie earrings. I also have an order for some kambaba jasper oblong earrings for Kaz and possibly a set for an upcoming 17 year old's formal outfit.

It was fantastic getting such positive feedback and having my work appreciated. I've spent the last few years preparing for this, refining designs, finding my style and ensuring my finishes are excellent. I appreciate quality work and I won't sell anything I'm not happy with myself.

This little experience also goes a long way to explaining the internet and its unknown quantity - purchasing jewellery over the net can be a risk, but once people see, hold and wear my work, they realise it is something special. And best of all, it's all theirs.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Sunday driving

On Sunday Tony and I went for a drive through some of Victoria's bushfire ravaged landscape so we could gauge first-hand what happened out there. We headed to Kinglake - a horrendously affected town - via St Andrews.

We both had a strange sense of anticipation about the whole thing, not knowing what to expect. Much of that feeling was due to the huge media beat up, especially around the sense of loss and deep emotion throughout the scarred communities.

Just after St Andrews the impact of the fires hit us. Prior to that, we'd noticed some burnt bush here and there, especially as we drove through St Andrews, but not much. That is, until we came up over a rise and an endless landscape of black, burnt trees and bare dirt was before us. It was suddenly like being on a different planet.

Then the flattened houses started to appear. Just totally nuked. Perhaps the odd chimney, but nothing else. I didn't photograph them.

In amongst the remains of homes, there were burnt out cars, piles of flattened metal and bricks. Completely decimated homes and sheds. It was strange seeing what we'd heard so much about - a burnt down house between two that remained virtually untouched. There is no explanation, just a sense of sadness for the people dealing with the one that had gone. A bit further on, a melted road sign.

We arrived in Kinglake, but didn't stay long, just used the bathroom at the pub (the one featured on so much television footage), and read about the owners' experience saving their hotel, livelihood and lives. What a harrowing experience.

We didn't quite know what to do - whether to stay a while and have lunch or move on. We decided to move on.

From Kinglake we headed to Healesville. A bit past Kinglake the fire had missed much of that road, but there were sort of lines of burnt bush, where wind had swept it through, up over a hillside, with unburnt bush all around.

It was during that section of the drive I realised what made the worst of the firestorm areas so stark and desolate. Not only the blackened trees, but the lack of saplings and any form of undergrowth at all. No density in the bush, just trunks and bare earth. Quite strange.

Just out of Healesville we stopped by a couple of wineries and started chatting to the people there. The woman at Long Gully Estate said that they had no idea that the fire was on its way on that black Saturday. It was upon them before they could do much at all. She said the wind was so strong the fire was being pushed up the south side of the hills, then just skipping the north side - so all the south sides are burnt, but the north faces are untouched.

She's concerned it's another disaster waiting to happen next year if it's still as dry as it is now and there's fire again with the wind in a different direction. It could hit them all over again. Doesn't bear thinking about, really. But they're preparing already. Increasing the size of their water tanks, ensuring they're not reliant on grid electricity to run pumps or water.

At another winery we spoke to an owner, a lovely woman. They had lost 90 percent of their property to fire - vines, stock, tractors and other equipment. Thankfully they saved their house, their wine stock and the cellar door. I said "you're lucky you still have your livelihood". But it's not that rosy.

She explained: their vines are already reshooting, which they shouldn't be doing until later this year. That means they're all out of sync and there'll be a low yield next year, so not much wine to make. Then that wine has to sit for time in barrels before being bottled. It'll take two years for the vines to recover and bear at full capacity. She said it'd be four years before they had a worthy vintage to sell again, and they'd just have to survive in the meantime.

It was a strange day. I'm glad we went for that drive, but the reality of those walls of fire and darkness and smoke and fear and adrenalin still remain as surreal images from the television screen during that awful week of heat and wind in February.

All that remains is a moonscape with some touches of green where nature is healing. It's quite haunting.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The child within - featuring Tummy Mountain

I clicked into an artist's site on Etsy recently that really made the child in me feel all gooey and warm.

The images on Tummy Mountain are unique, each exuding a little story of childhood play, happiness and innocence.

The colours in this are so summery and warm - I love the golden sky and the pink watermelon, with that big grin of the little one as she peeks out behind this oversized piece of happy summer fruit.

What Cake
Can't you imagine the childish conspiracy behind these two cheeky kids?

Mum or Dad issuing the instruction not to eat the chocolate cake - freshly iced and ready for afternoon tea. But who can resist just a little taste? I bet they promised not to tell too.

Getting caught in the rain is quite an adventure! But so is the delight at finding something just right to shelter under, especially when you're with your friends.

I love the looks on their faces - just a little bit stuck. For now.

When my daughter was a little girl I always read bedtime stories to her at night. In fact, bedtime was something she looked forward to and I never suffered the endless tantrums and hours of teary wakefulness I've witnessed since.

Sometimes a book wasn't enough though, so I'd sit with the lights out, holding her hand and tell stories of all sorts of wonderful things. Her favourite was one about a magic apple tree, which would take her gently to the land of nod.

The Milky Way
This is just the sort of picture that could conjure up a million children's stories, stimulating their imagination and taking them to all sorts of happy places in their dreams. But don't forget the cat!

The many prints and paintings on Tummy Mountain are inspired little vignettes and deserve to adorn the walls of children's rooms everywhere. Or in print - what perfect illustrations for a hundred books or more. I adore them.

Thank you to the artist for permission to reproduce the images. The hardest thing has been to choose just a few!