Strega Jewellry's Blog

jewelry, beads, stone lore, music, kids and nature

I AM Organized!

I read a lot of other jewelry blogs and it seems almost everyone had some New Year’s resolutions they posted. Hmmm. I try NOT to make resolutions. It just stresses me out, giving me one more thing to think about and be in charge of. (Bad English there).

I AM organized! I will not resolve to get MORE organized! If I could find everything at the tip of my fingers, I would not have to search through forgotten purchases and I would get no surprises. I found some beads yesterday that I had forgotten about. It just happened that they perfectly matched some new beads that I wanted to work with. How awesome! I got so excited, I immediately set to work and made these Telltale Heart earrings with my new “mood beads” that change color when you wear them and these puffy green hearts.

And, while I was looking, I found some more hearts.  See, I AM organized!   I had all the hearts together!   And I made some heart earrings.

I even took the pictures and listed them in my shop already.  (big grin!)

Another resolution I saw was to “organize workspace”.   Well.   I don’t need that one either!   My workspace is a mess!   It means I’m working on something.   And, I’ll have you know, the latex gloves I use to work on copper clay are NOWHERE NEAR my latex gloves I use to work on Bronz clay.   (grinning like a Cheshire cat!)

Hmmm, you can see the hollow form cuff in bronze that I am working on……….not far away, some butterflies and keys I am painting today for a bracelet (I already have the hearts on it from my heart stash).  Once the charms dry, I’ll put a little gilders paste on them and clear coat them to seal them and they will be ready to use.

Another resolution I saw was to blog more regularly.   SIGH!   Okay, okay, I’ll do it.   I’m always working on something.   I’ve been perfecting my skills with the bronze clay since my workshop/vacation weekend at Zeffers Farm Studio.   I have two plastice storage dishes filled with pieces that are ready to fire.   Bronze clay, copper or silver, they all take lots of time, lots of steps.   The cuff I am working on started out at a piece of cork clay, molded the way I want the bracelet to look.   If you’re not familiar with cork clay, here’s a piece with no bronze on it yet.  It’s a primitive goddess figure.   I’m not really happy with her breasts.  The old primitive stonework has more pendulous breasts, but her belly and legs are ample, like the old stone figures.   She’s on the drying plate along with a clay collar that just needs me to put in the holes for attaching embellishments.

The cuff is two ropes of cork clay, twisted, then painted with 21 coats of bronze clay.   I had some pieces that I broke while putting holes in them and I just put them in  a jar with a bit of distilled water and let them mush to a paste.   Twenty one coats later, I have this to work with.

You can see it needs some fine finishing:   a little smoothing and some sanding and it will be ready to fire.   The cork clay will burn away during the firing and I’ll be left with a hollow bronze core.   I’ll put chains and beads for the rest of the bracelet.   I won’t do this design again.   The crevices are a pain in the buttocks and smoothing it out is also a pain.  But, I work……..I learn.   Mostly, I made it to use up my paste.   I had to use it on something.   I’m wondering if I can simply go over this with water, enough to soften the clay, then use a texture plate to put on a texture.   I’m thinking those crevices would be my downfall and it would take almost as much time as it would to put a smooth finish on.   I’ll think about it.

Anyhow, these are NOT resoltions and I am happy to say,  I don’t need any.


January 8, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Strega’s 2012 Predictions

Christmas has come and gone.  The New Year fast approaches.   What is in store for 2012?  My predictions are based more on watchcraft than witchcraft.  I’ve been watching the stock market quotes, the fashion trends, blogs and news from local stations to Al Jazeera.   Here are my jewelry predictions for the coming year.   (if you don’t like them, call the psychic hotline and see what “Miss Cleo” says).

As jewelry artists, we will be heavily influenced by the prices of metals that we use.   We want to be able to produce pieces that people can afford to buy.   Many of us love silver, not only because it is affordable but because is has the beauty of moonlight in its reflection and glow.   Silver is not only used in jewelry, but in electronics,  batteries, solar panels, paint, water purification, medicine, and, of course, the old fashioned cutlery.

So, what does that mean for us?   Electronic gadgets, many of which run on batteries are becoming more and more in demand.  Fifteen years ago, most of my friends did not have computers and I didn’t know anyone who had a cell phone.

Today, even the smallest child knows what a cell phone is.

Miss Crabby Patti with her dad's phone

You cannot go anywhere without seeing people with a phone in their ear, talking to invisible people.   High school and college students MUST have a computer.  Senior citizens have joined Facebook and have email accounts.   Nooks and Kindles are becoming a rage and soon people will all own books and movies that are part of “the cloud” on an electronic device.   Notebooks and iPads, house phones that speak to you and tell you who is calling, cars that make your decisions for you and GPS devices to keep you on track.   All are becoming an integral part of everyday life.   More and more silver is needed to mauufacture these devices.

In addition, the whole world is talking about “going green” and solar panels are becoming more available.   With a war in progress and natural disasters one following another, gold and silver are more than ever in demand.   The price of gold has skyrocketed out of sight.  Also, because of the poor economy more and more people are wearing silver.

So what, you might say.   What does that have to do with us, the artistes?   Give us some beads and findings and we don’t need the fancy talking cars and electronic game systems.

Well, here is what it means for us.   Silver is a non renewable resource.   As the demand goes up and more and more is used, the supply goes down.   Think back to high school and the old law of supply and demand.   Prices go up when the supply dwindles.   The price of silver is climbing faster than the price of gold.   I’m not saying it will ever reach the limits that gold has attained but percentage wise, the price hike is greater.

I checked a lot of charts and stock market reports.   Some predict the rise of silver to 100 dollars per troy ounce.   The prediction for January, 2012 varies but averages out at about 33 dollars per troy ounce.

We may need to take a look at our inventory and raise some prices to reflect the current market.   We need to take stock of what silver we have on hand and use it wisely and sparingly.   It will be advisable to talk to consumers and point out that purchasing a piece of silver jewelry is an investment in the future.   The value of the piece can only increase with time.

"Elf Shot" pendant made from PMC

As the price of silver rose, copper became popular in jewelry use.  Now copper prices are rising as it also gains popularity.   I predict that we will be using more base metals like bronze and steel in jewelry pieces.    Bronze mimics the look of gold, is more durable and can be beautifully accented with patina.   Steel chains are being substituted now and manufactured so that they are shiny and mimic the look of silver.

Bronze pendant crafted from Bronz Clay

Color is going to become more and more inportant.   The news is full of grim tidings:  natrual disasters, war, crime, heavy drug use, failing stock markets and economic disaster all over the globe.   Pantone has already named the color of the year for 2012.   It’s a bright red orange that is uplifting and energizing to combat the doom and gloom on the news and the everyday blahs.   Even the name, Tangerine Tango makes you want to get up and dance.  Read the article about this color here. 

I predict we will be using more vibrant colors in our work and therefore will have to buy more beads!    Don’t forget, as you shop for beads, this is good for the country’s economy.  You are doing your share!    Sally, at Four Corners USA on Artfire will be glad to help.

mookaite beads

BTW:  A really fun blog for color inspiration is Design Seeds.   Jessica comes up with some simply beautiful palettes from photos of everyday things.   If ever you are at a loss for inspiration, or undecided about what color your new beads should be, check out her blog.

Fashion headlines:

According to Accessories magazine  (Juiced Up, get splashed with bold citrus colors!),

Harper’s (“High-gloss metallic pieces serve up the perfect blend of luxe glamor.”)

In Style magazine (Animal Ringdom “Answer the call of the wild by wrapping a little creature around your finger.”)

I predict I’ll be blogging about some of these things.

Television shows like The Tudors and Rome have created in interest in older styles of jewelry, ornate and rich in stones and color.   I predict we will be using more faux gemstones and more base metals and heavier chains to create pieces that are affordable and still stay in sync with fashion trends.   I predict that I will be blogging about some of these trends and styles.  Watch an episode of The Tudors online and get an idea of the jewelry styles.

Or, check out this site for Tudor style jewelry. 

There is a rising interest in tribal style jewelry.   I predict we will be using more symbols, feathers and chain, maybe more bone and fossils.   I predict that I will be blogging about this trend also.   I already have some pictograph bronze pieces ready to go in the kiln.

Bronz Clay tribal warrior for men's pendant (unfired)

My final prediction has to do with our JCUIN guild.  We have a strong core group with some talented and motivated people.   Some are great at writing blogs.  Others are great at putting together collections.   All of the guild members are innovative and talented in their own ways.   I predict that 2012 will be a year when we finally “mesh” and work together as a unit, producing smashing collections, blogs that get read by more than our guild sisters and that we will come up with some fresh ideas to promote Artfire and our guild members and to challenge ourselves, push our creative talents to the limits.    I wish you all the happiest of New Years………..Bring it on, 2012!!!

Here are some links  to guild blogs


Shadowdog Designs Blog

Pretty Gonzo’s Blog

Epicetera’s Blog

My Personal Oasis’ Blog

December 28, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Bronze work

I haven’t had a lot of time to work on jewelry since my son was hurt.   I try to do some small things to help out with laundry or kids.   I spend the night and watch little Nikolai so his mom can go to work.   By the time I get home in the morning……do what I have to do around the house….it’s almost time to go to work again.   SIGH.

Thanks to some family pitching in, I didn’t have to stay with Nikolai last night and managed to finish up two of the pieces I fired during the Lost Weekend (see prevous blog post).

This copper bracelet is one piece I am going to keep for myself.   I do love copper a lot and I think this piece will attract attention and invite conversation.   I decided not to put a patina on this.   I like the brightness.   I like the shine.   I think I will let it patina itself naturally.

copper bracelet

My wrist is so tiny, I put a double row of coppr chains.   I am wearing it today to work.

I made this bronze piece with a ripply pattern and loved the natural patina after firing.   I added a forged bronze bale and hung it from a velvet cord.   I’d like to keep this one also but………..darn it….I can’t keep everything.   I’ll be listing it in the shop tomorrow.  The pattern has a New Orleans voodoo feel to me.   I have to come up with a “name” for the piece.



Finished piece


I really love working with the bronze and copper clay and plan on making many more pieces …… soon as I get some time.


November 18, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Lost Weekend Macro

I spent a fabulous vacation weekend with my friend, Trish Jeffers Zeh at her home/studio, Zeffers Farm Studiio in Waynesville, Ohio. Trish his is a fantastic artist and instructor in metal clay.   It’s not her only medi however.   She works with porcelain, ceramics, wire, sculpture and so many other things!   She is so versatile and creative and inspiring!   We’ve been friends for many years and I’ve known her since she first got started in metal clay, I guess that is about 15 years.   I’d been having trouble with the bronze clay so Trish, the generous and giving sistah that she is says “come down a weekend and let’s just play with clay”.   So I did.

I had my own apartment downstairs:  bedroom, living room complete with tv (which I never had time to turn on), microwave, refrigerator and bath.   Wow!   Her husband, Jim, who is such a great guy, made me feel so welcome and part of the family!   He cooked great meals, put up with our “shop talk” and giggling and cleaned the house.

We worked on clay all weekend and I learned a lot!   I wnt through two packs of bronze clay and two of copper clay.   I was inspired and kept coming up with great ideas and got a chance to experiment all I wanted!   Here is a picture story!   I love the texture of the bronze clay and the beautiful patina you get from the fired pieces.   I love the way it takes textures and how easy it is to work with.   What I don’t like is the process for firing it.  All my pieces did not get fired this weekend but Trish is going to fire them later on.   I am so tired!   But in a good way.

one end of the studio

the "bronze station" in section one

special rubber stamp I used

Trish's clay hair clip before firing

simple earring component before firing

one of my pendants before firing

prolific work in progress

first layer of the first load9 hours later: OMG, what's inside? Did it break, crack or fire perfectly?

sifting out the pieces

first firing....look at the patina! So pretty!

I am way too tired to take a lot of macros of my finished pieces.   That will have to wait for another blog!

Here is a photo of a collage of some of Trish’s work.

Look her up on Facebook   Check out her work!


If you love macro (close up photos), be sure to check out Stuiod Waterstone who hosts a group of macro photographers.  Follow the link.  I realize there is not a lot of macro this week, but I was too excited about my weekend!

studio waterstone

October 30, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 4 Comments