Saturday, December 31, 2011

A series of changes

Mixed Metal Earrings
Most of the jewels that we make are unique, one of a kind pieces, or, like the earrings pictured above,
created in a series that develops and changes with each piece. Sometimes a series will go on for years, one jewel at a time, until it's course is run. I can hear my inner voice talking to me, saying, "that one is nice, what else can I do, how can I change it, what variables can I play with to make it better or different than it's predecessors"? This is one of the games that I play that has helped to keep me interested in making jewelry for well over 40 years. This particular series started in late October and each pair was well received and sold fairly quickly so the series will certainly continue throughout this upcoming year that is about to kick off in a little over an hour and a half from now. Happy New Year by the way.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mixed Metal Beads

Mixed Metal Beads
This is our 6th day at the Bah! Humbug Festival in Chico. We are doing well although not quite as good as last year. We expect to be economically
happy by the end of the show though.

It’s warmer and drier than usual which is nice for the show and our comfort but hopefully winter rains will start in the not too distant future.

As is my habit each year, after the weekend, I started going out each morning to the thrift stores around Chico to harvest books for my Caspar Bookster business and for my first book sale of 2012 in Caspar on January 22nd, at the Caspar Community Center’s 4th Sunday, country gourmet, fund raising breakfast. Check out more of my life with books at

I’ve been making mixed metal beads for about 12 years. This series, bead
N bead, started about 8 or 9 years ago and I’ve probably done maybe 30 of
them in that time. I like how you can look inside of them and see other textures and forms. I never have more then one at a time, the one at the upper left is my most recent and is in one of my cases at the Chico fair. Its about 3/4’s of an inch side to side. In the past, many of this series were significantly larger, the one at the bottom right was 1 1’8 inches side to side. Larger beads are just not selling at this time as overall taste preferences have shifted to smaller objects. Tastes in size, color, chain lengths etc go through changes, go through cycles, some of which I’ve observed several times in the 40 plus years I’ve been making and selling jewels. I’m not a slave to this phenomenon but have learned that paying attention to it and responding to it sometimes is helpful for my pocketbook.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

New Bracelets

This is our 3rd day at the Bah! Humbug Festival in Chico. We are doing very well, Friday, our first day, was one our best first days in all the years that we’ve done this show. A lot of our Chico long time customers paid us a visit and acquired new jewels. We expect to have a great show.

I’m very excited about the bracelets pictured here, I had two of them on Friday and they both sold very quickly. I’m happy about that except now I don’t get to show them to people although I do have photographs of them to share. I’ve made 6 variations of this bracelet over about a 4 year period but I plan to make a lot of them in a great variety of designs in 2012.

In the images at the right, the top one is the first one that I made and have been wearing for about 4 years. I wanted to personally check the dependability of the catch to make sure it wouldn’t come loose at unexpected times. As part of the process of making these, the
bottom part is hammered to harden it and make it springy so that the catch system will work and be secure. The hinge pins are 14k gold because it is stronger than sterling silver and also because I like the color contrast.

The series got started when a longtime Sacramento area customer retired and her
co-workers gave her a gift certificate for our jewelry which they knew she loved. She wanted
a clip bracelet like this with inlaid turquoise, sugilite and black onyx. I don’t do very
many special orders any more but because of the uniqueness of the situation, I decided
to take on this one. I made my bracelet as a model to get the technique down and then
made hers. I’m still kicking myself for not getting a picture of it and hope to rectify that
situation next year. After I started wearing mine at fairs, I got a lot of interest in it and
could have sold it off my wrist countless times and have a number of people on a waiting
list who are waiting for one. I thought I would continue making them but somehow just
never got around to it. Although they look fairly simple, they are really quite a lot of
work. Earlier this year, a good Bay Area customer was looking at  bangles that I had made
and really liked one that had a pattern similar to the center  bracelet pictured here. She
decided though that she didn’t want  a bangle but instead wanted a bracelet like mine
that incorporated the bangle’s pattern. I reluctantly said I would try to make one
sometime. It took me 8 months to get around to it, I only mailed it just before coming to
Chico Thursday. I wore it at a Sacramento show I did recently and one of my best Davis
customers wanted one and I just mailed that one also. I had one more of that design and
Friday at the Bah! Humbug,, one of the first people who looked at it bought it. Not very
long after that another customer bought the other, the one pictured at the bottom. OK,
I get the message, people really want this bracelet design and I’m going to make and
sell a lot of them and have a great time doing it and developing new variations and
designs. I should add that this year at shows I’ve had more people ask about  bracelets,
both men and women than I can remember in my long jewelry making career. So, I
guess it must be time to make some. If you have some thoughts on this and design ideas,
send me an email or make a comment on the blog.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Hearts on Either Side

It's interesting sometimes how one of my jewelry designs come about, the path to the finished piece is often circuitous and complex and full of accidents and happenstance. The pieces pictured, double sided heart pendants are a case in point. The two images on the left are of one side, and on the right the opposite side. These were both made during the last month, the top one first. The puffy heart shape at the upper left was an example I made to show visitors to the open studio I host at the jewelry building of the Mendocino Art Center how to make raised pillow forms utilizing a die cut out of a piece of 1/4 inch plexiglas and urethane plastic on the hydraulic press. I made several as examples with different textured sheets of copper I had roller printed. Several people were very interested in the process so in the week before the next open studio I decided to make a jewelry piece incorporating it. Top left picture is the first idea I had. As I was fabricating this part I had the thought that I should put some little something on the back as I do with pieces sometime. Well, as you can see in the upper right picture, the back became more complex than I had originally thought, actually more interesting to me than the old front. It was obvious to me then that I needed to construct it so that It could be worn either way. A few days later I took it to the Sacramento Arts Festival at the Convention Center there and really enjoyed showing it to people and talking about the process that led to the design. It sold fairly quickly and I felt a sense of loss because I couldn't tell the story any more. I made the one pictured at the bottom soon after returning home, making a few changes in my never ending search for variation. A couple of weeks later at the Davis Art Center Holiday Fair, the first person that looked at it bought it so I didn't get to tell my story very much. I am now making number 3 in this series and I'm excited about it and looking forward to showing it at the Chico Bah! Humbug Festival of Crafts at which we will start showing our work this Friday, the 16th at 10am. I think I'll make a little picture book so I can still tell people the story even after I sell the piece.

If you are ever in Mendocino on a Wednesday evening between 4:30 & 7:30pm, you're invited to drop by the open studio I host, it runs from the the beginning of September, after Labor Day, to the end of May when the summer session of classes starts. It's taking a break now until January 11th.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Getting Ready for Chico

Lapis & Abalone Pendant

We are spending a lot of time in our studio getting ready for our Chico showing, the last of the year. I'm caught in the dilemma of wanting to take the time to make special and unique pieces and the pressure to finish as many pieces as I can with only 6 1/2 days left to work before we have to leave. Added to this is a number of orders and ring sizings and bracelet adjustments I have to do in the next few days. It's an all too familiar challenge. Carlie and I were talking tonight about our desire to make truly special & unique pieces a higher percentage of our output next year. We are both happy when we take the time to play and experiment and reach into new jewelry territory. But there is no doubt that we make more money per hour when we repeat familiar designs and they all sell, and people do enjoy them. We'll hopefully find a balance in there somewhere.

The piece at the right was a piece on which we collaborated. I cut out the copper sun, polished the lapis and created the pattern plate that textured the piece of copper, Carlie did the rest.

The almost full moon is bright here on the edge of the pygmy forest, it looks beautiful through the branches of the juniper and pine trees.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Home from Davis

Bug on Leaf, Pin/Pendant
We just got home From our fair in Davis and we were very happy with how we did. We even had a message on our phone when we got home from someone who wanted a jewel they had seen there but they were unable to get back to the show so I'll mail it to them. All in all very good in the money realm and an easy and enjoyable show to do. It was a pleasant drive home, after stopping at my favorite magazine store in Davis and picking up an interesting British published Crafts magazine that I can find nowhere else along with the latest issue of Ornament which has a somewhat fascinating article about the booming times of the Chinese fresh water pearl industry. I've thought that the Chinese supplied a huge proportion of the world's pearls but was blown away to find out that they supply 99 percent of the world's pearls and they've only been in the business since the 1970's. Wow! We also stopped at three of our favorite thrift stores in Petaluma and Santa Rosa to look for treasures and bargains and for me to harvest books for the other hat that I wear, that of the fellow called the Caspar Bookster. The Bookster's next book sale will be on Sunday, January 22nd of 2012 at the Caspar Community Center during the monthly Country Gourmet fundraising breakfast. To find out more about that side of my personal equation check out the Bookster Blog at

Tomorrow signals a return to the jewelry studio, I have 9 days in which to create some interesting new jewels for our last fair of the year in Chico. I have a lot of ideas bubbling around in my jewelry making mind and am looking forward to getting them down in metal, shell and stone.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A successful Davis Art Center Fair

We were happy with our sales at this weekend's fair at the Davis Art Center, a tiny bit down from last year, but good. Sold a number of our nicest jewels. The fair was pleasant and relatively easy to do. The spaces are a little small but we managed. We were happy with the warmer weather, last year it was very cold. Most of our sales , as at most of our shows, were to people who have bought from us before, but we picked up a few new customers that I think will buy from us again. We are not certain we will do this fair again as we are thinning out our show schedule but we might. We're spending the night in Davis and will do some shopping and book harvesting on our way home tomorrow, then it's back to work in the studio on Tuesday as we get ready for our last showing of the year in Chico, California starting on the 16th.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Back in Davis Again

We've just settled into our motel room in Davis, California, hoping for a good night's sleep before starting set up at 8am for a 3 day show at the Davis Art Center. This is our 3rd year here at this excellent little fair. We have a great clientele here in Davis from our 35 years of participating in the Whole Earth Festival at UC Davis in May and a significant number of our Sacramento customers will come out here for the fair. We expect to do well.

It's hard to believe that the end of the year is almost here again, it seems only a few weeks ago that it was Christmas last year.

This is the time of the year that I start thinking about new directions and designs in my jewelry world. It has the feeling of being a bracelet year upcoming. I'm getting more requests and inquiries about bracelets than I have had in a long time and I've started developing a new design of hinged bracelet with a very easy to use but secure catch that I'm getting a great response to. I'll post some pictures of them soon.

Below are some more new jewels.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Beginning the Blog

I'm creating a blog for Carlie & Jima Abbott's Mixed Metal Jewels to let our friends and customers know what we are up to in our studio and in our jewelry making and selling business. I hope to post updates at least twice a week if not more often. I also plan to post pictures of our designs as they get made and photographed. If you see an image of a piece that you might be interested in, email us and we'll send you more specific details. Also any feedback appreciated. 

We are just now seriously getting back into working after our amazingly successful show November 4-6 at the Sacramento Convention Center and our short but sweet visit with our grandkids this past weekend. We always do pretty good at the Sacramento show but this year was way over the top, 35% better than we had ever done there before and in the top 20 shows we've done in the 42 years we've been doing shows. We certainly hope that this is a trend. 

Below are some of our latest jewel creations. 

Be well