Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ruby-in-Fuchsite and the Process of 'Incubation'

I’ve said before, when it comes to jewelry design, I always have the vision -- even though the execution can be problematic.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a new design experience: I had the material – faceted ruby-in-fuchsite* briolettes -- and I was eager to work with it. But alas, no vision. A bit of panic set in. I spent 5-6 frustrating hours playing around with the material and various findings before finally dismantling and putting all the pieces away. Still no vision.

A little more panic. Maybe I was losing ‘it.’

(Opaque ruby is found in two different minerals that can look very much alike one another. One is zoisite, an opaque stone that provides an deep emerald green color while ruby provides the pink and red. The other is fuchsite, a light green variety of muscovite, its color the result of chromium impurities).

Then, several days ago, I woke up, the design dancing in my head; as I started working with the materials, it just flowed. Like normal. Sweet relief. I realized that my experience illustrates a phenomenon known as 'incubation' that I first learned about in psych class in college. It’s the process we experience when we try to think of a person’s name that totally escapes us and hours or days later, voila! there it is. Or we suddenly find a solution to a problem that’s hovering in the back of our minds for days.

So all’s well that ends well.

*A heart chakra stone, fuchsite is said to link the intellect of the mind with the heart, enhancing knowledge and aiding decision making. Considered one of the most powerful gems in the universe, ruby is said to bring contentment and peace.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Jewelry Design: To Trend or Not To Trend

Whoa! That’s an easy one: I pretty much wouldn’t know a trend if it bit me in the butt. Well, I take that back – I’ve recognized a trend from time to time. But that’s usually because its run its course and anything vaguely having to do with it is on sale or at EBay.

So, never having been “cutting-edge” anything, I choose to create by inspiration and intuition, leaving the trends to those who can do them well.

But regardless of whether you are investing in an Elle Schroeder piece or a Glimmerdream piece, all my designs share the same attributes:

  • intrinsic beauty: a natural flow and superb color combinations
  • originality: non-derivative designs found no where else
  • quality: high-end precious and semi-precious gems and high carat precious metals
  • value: ageless beauty (not just this year‘s trendy look)
  • perfection: exquisite attention to detail
  • generosity: longer lengths and lavish use of materials
  • versatility: can be dressed up or worn casually
  • exclusivity: one-of-a-kind designs & limited editions

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Spring Into Summer: 2009 Fashion Colors

Blue & purple lead the top 10 hues for spring '09, rounded out by lush greens which evoke a sense of renewal and a fresh start. Sophisticated neutrals ground the overall palette, providing visual stability in an economic climate that is anything.
"New York's fashion designers encourage hopeful attitudes with lively colors, while sophisticated, grounded hues address the need for stability in times of economic uncertainty,"
explains Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. 

(To the right: Glimmerdream's 'Royal' drop earrings from the Holiday Collection) Colors tend to evolve from season to season, and the blues which dominated Fall 2008 are now being expressed as spring's Palace Blue, a 
navy with some added sparkle which pairs easily with the entire palette; fall's rich purple has morphed into Lavender...lighter, more summery, and even a touch mystical.






(To the left: Glimmerdream's 'Lemonessence' setThe fun, optimistic characteristics of yellow continue to make it an important hue, especially as tangy & luminous Super Lemon which is not only eyecatching, but cheery. 

Subtle, summery orange'ish  Salmon Rose is not only friendly and approachable, but also flatters most complexions, and blue-toned Fuchsia Red adds classic,
sensual elegance both to clothing and cosmetics - like lipstick and nail polish. (To the right: Glimmerdream's 'You're Hot' set from the Fleur Collection)

Subtle rose tones result in a sexy, dimensional ne
utral in Rose Beige, while cool Slate Gray has bluish-green undertones which creates a nuanced neutral for the other 9 colors.  (To the left: Glimmerdream's 'Dominique' danglers from the Chanteuse Collection)

(To the right: Glimmerdream's Jade Buddha bracelet) Green perpetuates freshness and renewal in the form of Vibrant Green, a quintessential spring shade; calm and somewhat serious Dark Citron; and Reflective Lucite Green for a dash of clean, subtle shimmer.

Jewelry Spotter: Glimmerdream Review

A friend recently steered me to a Marjorie Miller blog (Jewelry Spotter) reviewing Glimmerdream. Marjorie and I have never spoken or exchanged email (although I left her a BIG ‘thank you’ when I discovered the review). Her blog starts with:

“I am always on the lookout for the next great thing in jewelry. It could be yours. (Actually, it should be mine, but you know me….)

I hang out at Land of Odds and you can reach me there anytime. Point my nose in the right direction — jewelry on-line that people will want to talk about. And, darling, you better believe this is my real nose. The jewelry ain’t fake either.

Let me take your hand, and guide your eye to see the treasures I have found below….”

Her review in part:

“Lin White-Schroeder’s [Elle's] website is perfect. She designs her perfect “playfully opulent” jewelry with all the perfect gemstones and perfect pearls etc. Lin’s[Elle's] perfect philosophy plays perfectly with her perfect presentation of the history, mythology and other associations of gemstones. My g*d Lin [Elle] is the perfect jewelry designer. I thought that was my job. Yikes Lin [Elle] borrowed my ambition.”

You can read the entire review at Jewelry Spotter.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Design - More Than a Bump in the Road

Every jewelry designer has their own way of expressing the creative process with regard to design. I really like what jewelry designer Warren S. Feld has to say about design in his posting DESIGN – MORE THAN A BUMP IN THE ROAD. Warren is a featured blogger (Rogue Elephant and Tips and Tricks) at Land of Odds, an on-line store where I purchase some of my non-gem components. Here’s an excerpt:

“Design doesn’t suddenly drape itself around you because you’ve visited every bead store between here and there. It doesn’t become a part of you because you’ve attended X-number of bead shows and taken Y-number of jewelry making workshops. Design is something more.

Design means having some intention in life (italics mine). It means screaming Here I Am without having to scream. It means interpreting the inner you for the outer them. To Design with Beads makes this process wondrous. It means capturing light and shifting shadows within colors and shapes and sizes and materials, front, left, center, curve and crevice, inside-out and outside-in. Design doesn’t get any better than designing with beads.

But there is a self-awareness factor. As an artist. A creator. Someone who esteems themselves. With courage. And direction. And meaning. With curiosity. Attention.   And detail.”

Amen.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

My Life as a Screenwriter

Nearly every morning, my husband tells me I should "go to Hollywood and be a screenwriter." Why? Because I've just relayed my latest dream, many of which are movie-like with a beginning, middle and end, a plot line and interesting characters. So I sometimes Tweet the best ones.

So, for those of you who don't Tweet...

For those of us who do, Twitter is a very interesting medium as one is allowed only 140 characters with which to say something meaningful (or not), so it's sort of haiku-like. Here's my favorite:
"I am newly married, a sister-wife, one of eighteen. We live in North Dakota and have Early American furniture. I can’ stop weeping."
Am I watching too much Big Love?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The ‘Career Path’ Myth

One of the things I disliked most in my 20 off-and-on years of corporate life was the dreaded Interview Question: where do you see yourself in 2 years? In 5 years? 

How to answer a question like that when the world today is not what it was yesterday…or what it will be tomorrow? 

“Not answering stupid questions like this” is what I longed to say. Or, “Doing something wildly interesting whose job description probably doesn’t even exist today.” Or, “working for myself.” (Even if at the time I had no vision of what that would be; I knew I would one day.)

But no, one had to play the game. If, for instance, you were looking for a marketing-related job, you had to act like you had thoughtfully mapped out the appropriate zigzags throughout the marketing functions from entry level to some management pinnacle -- even when you had no designs on ever being a manager. (Some might think a good description of hell is being a first line manager, squeezed between the people you are charged with leading and developing -- and your manager who follows the commands of those who are now so far removed from where the rubber hits the road that they have lost any semblance of real world understanding.)

I once had a manager’s manager say in front of a large group of people that I (yes, the “I” refers to me) was a manager’s worst nightmare: someone who had been known to just ‘up and leave’ one day, to pursue my own interests

So now do I know what I’ll be doing 5 years from now? Hell, I don’t even know what I’m doing today sometimes – until an errant muse hits and I’m off and running…

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Queen of Pictavia

Irish Wolfounds the size of small tractors bound out of the backroom of a Santa Barbara storefront on State Street near Hwy 101. My eyes are the size of saucers; I’ve never seen one in person before. Standing up at the gate, knowing they are going home, they dwarf all 5’ 7” of me. Named after their purpose – wolf hunting – not their appearance, Irish Wolfhounds are, on average, the tallest dogs on earth. (I must have had a really scary ‘big dog’ experience as a child because any time I see a big dog my first impulse is to throw up my hands.) However Irish Wolfhounds are known to be sweet-tempered, patient, generous, thoughtful and trustworthy with children.

Presiding over them is the world famous Queen of Pictavia, tattoo artist Pat Fish. The minute I first saw her earlier in the day, I realized – having seen photos on her web site www.luckyfish.com -- that she has lost a lot of weight since those pictures were taken. I see a face with fabulous bone structure – the kind models have.

I’ve driven from San Jose – a four-hour Saturday drive from Santa Barbara – with my husband and ‘partner in adventure’ -- just so I can get my tattoo from the Queen; it is her design. I’ve looked and looked for a couple years -- and Eureka! -- this is ‘the one.’ She’s asked me to arrive 2 hours before our appt. so that I can work with her assistant, Colin – whose face, voice and mannerisms are entirely known to me although I’ve never met him before, at least in this life – to make sure I’m getting ‘my’ iteration of the tat, making any design modifications and that it’s sized properly for me.

Early on Colin and I have the conversation about whether the tat – an armband for my upper right arm – will go all the way around, or will it leave the tender underarm unscathed. The answer? Only girlymen do the half-way thing. My husband and I joke about how many people will see it before someone asks if it goes the whole way around.

Finally I’m on my back on the table; the Queen – who’s been doing this for 25 years – has a light hand. With a low threshold of pain, I consider myself somewhat sissy-ish. But I find it only mildly unpleasant to ‘I’m drifting off into my head’ for minutes at a time; the underarm is more tender but only slightly so.

I love my new tat. And I’m already planning the next one a month or two down the road (literally and figuratively) – with the Queen. Of course.

Oh…! And how many people saw it before THE question? The very first person who saw it, on our trip home. He says “Nice tat. Does it go all the way around?” I say, “Yeah.” He says, “Didn’t it really hurt?” I say, “Nah, not that much.”

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Dharma and ‘Right Work’

A Buddhist-inspired adage says "’right work’ is when all of one's life experiences come together." That is so true for me as a jewelry artist. I can’t think of an experience or learning or skill gathered from my many past employment situations – good and bad -- that isn’t applicable in my current ‘job’ -- many times miraculously so. That's because my ‘right work’ really isn’t about the jewelry, it’s about the human connections I make, both influencing and being influenced by others; jewelry is but the means to accomplish this, not the destination.

Scott Wolfram, a Minneapolis astrologer, puts it this way:

“One’s dharma is supported when one adopts a career, or life’s work that is also one’s ‘right work.’ Right work implies doing both what is rewarding and meaningful to your sense of purpose in life as well as providing some needed service to society.”

Without using the same phrase, I believe Wayne Dyer refers to ‘right work’ in his book Excuses Begone when he says,

Dharma is the calling in your soul that you are to fulfill…. Passion within you is god speaking.
It was a serendipitous experience in 2002 that revealed to me that designing jewelry was to be my new path; I had but to listen and follow. Don’t die without achieving your dharma.

Listen, then follow. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Not All Who Wander Are Lost

"Why are the sun, moon and stars constantly on the move? If you know the purpose of their movement, then move in harmony with them. If you do not know, then move in harmony with them still, for by doing so, one day you will know their purpose."
Gurudev Swami Rama of the Himalayas

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Did Curiosity Really Kill the Cat?

A 2002 study by psychologists at the University at Buffalo suggested that curiosity is very good for people. The study -- related to the field of "positive psychology" --concluded that the degree to which people are curious actively influences their personal growth opportunities.

One of my favorite college professors was Louis Swartz, a young South African √©migr√© who taught my freshman English Lit class. He loved poetry. Intimately acquainted with its layered complexities, he also loved sharing his enthusiasm -- which is how I came to know Alastair Reid’s poem, “Curiosity,” at the age of 17. Although I did not know it at the time, this poem would become the underlying theme of my nomadic adult life.

Curiosity

may have killed the cat; more likely

the cat was just unlucky, or else curious

to see what death was like, having no cause

to go on licking paws, or fathering

litter on litter of kittens, predictably. 


Nevertheless, to be curious

is dangerous enough. To distrust

what is always said, what seems

to ask odd questions, interfere in dreams,

leave home, smell rats, have hunches

do not endear cats to those doggy circles

where well-smelt baskets, suitable wives, good lunches

are the order of things, and where prevails

much wagging of incurious heads and tails. 


Face it. Curiosity

will not cause us to die--

only lack of it will.

Never to want to see

the other side of the hill

or that improbable country

where living is an idyll

(although a probable hell)

would kill us all. 


Only the curious have, if they live, a tale

worth telling at all. 


Dogs say cats love too much, are irresponsible,

are changeable, marry too many wives,

desert their children, chill all dinner tables

with tales of their nine lives. 


Well, they are lucky. Let them be

nine-lived and contradictory,

curious enough to change, prepared to pay

the cat price, which is to die

and die again and again,

each time with no less pain.

A cat minority of one

is all that can be counted on

to tell the truth. And what cats have to tell

on each return from hell

is this: that dying is what the living do,

that dying is what the loving do,

and that dead dogs are those who do not know

that dying is what, to live, each has to do.


Alistair Reid (b. 1926)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Bad Design

To paraphrase Will Rogers,

“Everyone talks about bad design but nobody does anything about it.”

Last Friday, I talked about the process of good design. Today we’ll go in another direction.

Who designed kitchen stove oven controls to have “Broil” right next to “Off”?

So much for the home-grown sun-dried tomatoes slow-drying in a 150 degree oven for 4 hours. Hubby got up at midnight to turn the oven off (what a sweetheart!) and, well, “Off” looked a lot like “Broil” at 12am.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Creativity and RBF (Rhythm, Balance and Flow)

Everyone knows good design when they see it, touch it and/or use it. It simply works -- simply and beautifully. It IS.

In my mind, it has “RBF”: rhythm, balance and flow -- the standards I use to judge my work. (image right: fire opal & peridot in 22K vermeil. SOLD)

Take the first characteristic, rhythm. The most basic and natural flow that we experience in our lives is our own internal natural rhythms. So during the design process, for me there’s a musical quality; I find myself counting -- different cadences for different pieces or portions of pieces. I become conscious of a drumming heartbeat – a deep  connection to my inner intuitive self -- as the design takes on life. Other designers I admire have told me they experience the same thing.

As for balance, I’m a Libra whose most visible element is the scale. The ideal being to have all things in balance, Libra’s function best in a state of equilibrium. However, I’m not talking about design symmetry (although I struggle to create asymmetrical pieces - it doesn’t come naturally) but in coming from a point of equal balance between any powers or influences, including mental and emotional balance. Ergo, I must be experiencing equanimity within myself to achieve a balanced result.

Artist Robin Hopper in his book Functional Pottery says:

“Balance is the point of equilibrium where stimulus, analysis and concern are matched by skill, imagination and understanding. “

(image left: rutilated quartz pendant on hematite with 18K gold) Intimately associated with rhythm is flow. Most obviously, flow is about the  compositional elements – how the eye perceives the parts as a whole; there’s a natural flow, rather than a whirlwind of chaos. But in addition, for me there’s a liquidity factor to the process; I feel like the design is literally pouring out of me through my heart and hands – I am giving birth as a design moves from an invisible internal concept to an external reality.

When these three elements are in sync, I feel like I’m flying; I’m mentally and seemingly physically off the ground, weightless. It doesn’t get better than that.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Stand Out From the Crowd

Given that glass ceilings have been shattering at a record rate throughout the business world, isn’t it about time for smart women to move on from the simple ‘Dress for Success’ credos of the 80’s and 90’s?   

Now that we’ve gotten past all that silliness and women no longer have to mask their gender to appear competent or demonstrate leadership at the highest level, what’s the next frontier, fashion-wise? We’ve learned that femininity is a plus, to make color and fun -- even  fashion forward -- pieces work for us, but are we still wearing the same old ‘safe’ jewelry? 

Without a doubt, the one area in business attire where women have a striking competitive advantage over men is that they can sport drop-dead gorgeous conversation-starting jewelry, the one-of-a-kind pieces you can find at Glimmerdream and Elle Schroeder.

My friend and client, Karen, owns a consulting company that works with top management in Fortune 500 companies to help them achieve breakthrough performance in their organizations. She recently told me that at an East Coast convention last month she met a CEO whose company she had targeted as one who could use her firm’s services. The first thing he commented on as they introduced themselves to one another was her stunning necklace.

Let Elle Schroeder and Glimmerdream start the conversation. You get to finish it.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Chakra Choices

Both my websites, Glimmerdream and Elle Schroeder, celebrate color and its amazing ability to affect our emotions.

Intimately linked with color are the seven invisible energy centers of the body called chakras, a Sanskrit word for "wheel" or "disk." Wheels of subtle spinning bio-energetic activity, the chakras radiate from nerve ganglia (clusters) that start at the base of the spine and continue on to the crown of the head. When the nerve centers are open, energy flows.

Problems of the mind, body or spirit, however, can cause these energy centers to become unbalanced or even closed. Ultimately, the imbalance is noted on the physical/cellular level since each chakra is a "door" to a major nerve plexus and glandular center within the endocrine system. Unless the source of the imbalance is dealt with physical illness will soon manifest itself in some way.

Used by healing practitioners for centuries, color therapies can be traced far back to Chinese, Indian, Tibetan, Ayurvedic, and Egyptian roots. Based on the theory that each color in the visible light spectrum has its own wavelength and frequency -- producing a specific energy and therefore a specific effect on us -- the conscious use of color can enhance our minds, bodies, and souls.

Shop for Chakra Choices jewelry.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Lapis on the Aegean

Passing several vendors selling souvenirs outside the Basilica of St. John in Ephesus, on present-day Turkey’s west coast, my husband and I stopped to look at some deep blue stone & metal jewelry. The metal work was cheap (silverplate over brass?), but the blue stone was beautiful. I’d read about lapis lazuli -- the exotic blue stone that tiled ancient Egypt’s royal floors and which was also used extensively in their jewelry – but I don’t think I’d ever see it in person.

Ephesus – what’s left of it -- is impressive. At its peak during the first two centuries CE, second in importance and size only to Rome, it was estimated to have 400K-500K inhabitants. However, despite repeated dredges during the city's history its importance as a commercial center declined as the harbor slowly filled with sedimentation from the Cayster River. A visit from the Goths in 263 CE didn’t help the struggling city. Today, the ruins are 5 km inland from the Aegean Sea.

Famed for the Temple of Artemis (one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World), Ephesus is also home to the Library of Celsus (built to store 12,000 scrolls), a grand amphitheater capable of holding 25,000 spectators (still in use today, Sting, Yanni and Elton John are just a few who have performed there) and the Basilica of St. John, built in the 6th century CE under emperor Justinian I.

(left: lapis & 22K vermeil necklace from Glimmerdream.com) Under the fierce Mediterranean sun outside the Basilica, the haggling began. I ended up with a pair of lapis earrings and an impressive lapis necklace (which I eventually gave to a friend who admired it), and my husband with a blue glass "Nazar Boncugu" or "Eye Bead" on a leather cord, worn for protection against the ‘evil eye’ in Turkey.

At the time, I didn’t know that 95% of all the world’s lapis comes from Afghanistan (Chile produces some, but of poor quality), where it’s been mined for 6,000 years.

Turkey and Afghanistan have a long history of friendship. It’s been said that "Turkey is Afghanistan's closest neighbor without common borders." While 12% of Afghanistan's population is ethnic Turkic, and nearly 100% Muslim as is Turkey, historic ties also draw the two nations together.

In the 1920's during the time of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the modern Turkish Republic, and Afghan King Amanullah (r. 1919 to 1929), relations grew tighter and trade flourished. Like Ataturk, Amanullah was reform minded and interested in following the path of secular Turkey. In fact, Afghanistan was the second country after the Soviet Union to recognize Ataturk's government. (Irony…)

Learn more about lapis at Glimmerdream.com

Monday, June 1, 2009

Ametrine, Ametrine, Prettiest Gem…

Ametrine… Ametrine… prettiest gem that I’ve ever seen…” (to the tune of “Abilene”)

Wandering through one of our local weekend swap meets some years ago – before I had an inkling I would someday be designing jewelry -- my husband and I came across a rockhound’s display area. In the midst of polished rock slices, geodes, gem spheres, rough (sometimes just barely out of the ground but hosed off) and objects d’art, one item in particular caught my eye: a semi-transparent tapered obelisk with inclusions, about 3” long, pale amethyst gradually morphing into a pale sunny yellow.

I knew absolutely nothing about gems. Well, a wee bit -- I knew amethyst was purple and citrine was yellow. But this looked like the result of an amethyst-citrine marriage that produced a bi-colored child. I know the seller told me the name of the stone but I didn’t remember it. I only knew what I wanted to do with it: hang it from the brass pot holding the Christmas cactus above my kitchen sink with its window that looks out to the back yard. But how?

(right: ametrine necklace from Glimmerdream.com) At the time, I had a wonderful jeweler, Henk, who hailed from Hong Kong. No matter what the jewelry issue, Henk always came up with an artistic -- and oft times, technical -- solution. He agreed to drill a hole in the slightly rounded top and install an eye screw so the piece could be hung. He told me it was ametrine, a colored quartz. It was only later that I learned that ametrine -- also known as Bolivianite and found only on the Brazilian-Bolivian border -- is a naturally occurring composite of amethyst and citrine.

“Twice powerful,' ametrine is said to embody the properties of both amethyst and citrine, making it a "bridge" that helps balance the spiritual and the material worlds. While amethyst helps one visualize a desired result, citrine helps one manifest the vision into the physical. Learn more about ametrine at Glimmerdream.com.