Do What You Love With Passion!

It's been said that if we do what we love, it stops being a job and becomes a passion. I love to write as much as I love to design jewelry. With this blog, I will share both with you!

Monday, January 21, 2013

CREATING HANDMADE VALENTINES

Each of our American holidays is unique for its meaning, food classics and color palette. With Valentine's Day just around the corner it has been fun creating new designs in earrings and bracelets. I will share some of my favorites with you today.

I received a comment from a gal who said she loves my earrings but prefers to wear short ones. There are days when I just want a pair of huggie earrings and I am out the door.  The majority of the time? Give me three to five inch earrings that dangle and catch the light and I am a happy girl!

Basically, I don't enjoy designing without several inches of freedom to be creative and colorful. Is this a weakness or strength? Actually, I am not concerned. (psst...it's a strength!) I adore lampwork glass beads and Czech glass beads. I love to wire wrap, too. Wire wrapping means I cut a length of wire about six to seven inches in length and construct the earrings in one length from bottom to top. I may add one or multiple drops at the end if I choose to, as well. What I do is allow the materials to talk to me. With a background in floral design I am always pulling elements of design from that basic knowledge.

The first photo is an example of lampwork in pink and white reversible heart shapes with a small floral motif in pink with green dots.  Because it is my focal bead, all other beads will be the same width or narrower. In this photo you can see I have added a "drop" at the bottom made of pink faceted crystal with green briolette crystal. The earrings are balanced in weight and symmetry, both in size and colors of beads. Crystals catch the light easily and the drops add extra movement. These are techniques to bring color, light and interest to one's face. (Men love earrings with movement!)







Here is an example of a shorter earring, possible because the lampwork bead, red roses, happen to be very small. I believe these are very sweet and appropriate for offices with wardrobe rules.







In this same theme, here are pink roses with silver hearts and pale pink bicone beads. Once again, sweet, simple, shorter:






One will never see herself "coming or going" in identical jewelry, as artisan crafted jewelry is created as either one-of-a-kind or in very small lots.  Once made, designers enjoy moving on to their next design rather than making hundreds of the same item.

This next example of heart shaped lampwork brings in a touch of blue florals and the playfulness of polka dots! This earring does not "say" Valentine and can be easily worn year round. I love the fun of the polka dots, another example of lampwork. In this pair of earrings, I have emphasized green and white. Clear crystals complete a look of elegance and pazazz. There are no rules anymore - these will be beautiful with a dress or a pair of jeans and white top.





  
This next Valentine is a one-of-a-kind bracelet and earring set named "Passionate Hearts". The earrings are wire wrapped with tarnish free copper wire and the bracelet has a leaf motif clasp strung on flexible copper wire and copper beads and spacers.  This set includes two styles of lampwork beads with faceted green crystals.






Are you a Pink Girl? You know if you are! The stunning lampwork used in these earrings have a black base surrounded with clear glass and dimensional pink flowers with black centers around the outside. They are paired with deep rose faceted beads and pink crackle glass with silver swirls. These year-round earrings are strung on gunmetal wire with a crackle glass bead drop at the end with pale pink bicone crystals on either side.






I hope you enjoyed this tour of handmade Valentines available in my shop.




Thank you for reading, and have a great day! 






Monday, January 14, 2013

LOVE AND LOSS CUT THROUGH ONE'S HEART, DEEPLY

Sometimes the anniversaries of those I have lost come and go without notice.  I could be looking at the calendar and the current date will suddenly shock me into recognition that another year has come, that I am a year older, that memories of someone have grown more distant.

Not always. Sometimes, like today, my emotions don't feel very grounded. This is when I feel the loss the greatest because I am vulnerable. In a fraction of a moment, time hurdles me backwards and I am reminded again of someone loved and lost. Life is cruel at times, yes. Do I rise above it? Yes, as often as I can.

My blog today is in honor and tribute to someone I dearly loved. He was not my first boyfriend, but he was the first of many things. I met him one evening when I was living in an apartment building in downtown Portland, OR and working as a medical assistant.

The date was January 31, 1969.  As I rode up the elevator to the fourth floor, a gal next to me introduced herself. She lived down the hall from me and invited me to come in, listen to music and get acquainted.

I was enjoying our visit when the phone rang. She said the call was from her brother who was in the lobby downstairs stopping by for a visit. She hoped I didn't mind and I said no problem.

A few moments later and a knock upon the door, her brother Larry entered and Judy introduced us. Believe me when I say that time can freeze, for it did! He looked at me and I looked at him, we said hello and something softly electric happened in the space between his eyes and mine. Judy didn't have a clue, of course, but kept up friendly patter while we settled back into sofa and chairs. When it was time to say goodbye, he walked me to my door by the elevator and asked me for a date. That's how he and I began.

Skip ahead to June 6, 1969 when we were married. Precious Melodee was born in December of 1971, much loved and cherished. I was so grateful to be a stay-at-home mom, doing exactly what I felt led to do. We lived paycheck to paycheck and saving money was nearly impossible, but we were happy in our first home and owned a good car. Life was all about Larry and my girls, because in May of 1974, we were blessed with Cassandra (we called her Cassie), also loved and cherished.

Through those years Larry settled into a good career as a journeyman lift truck mechanic. He had a company truck that he was allowed to drive home each night, giving me the freedom of our car during the week. Life felt rich and complete. We didn't know we had less than two years together as a family.

I know in my heart it is not good to focus on the anniversary death of someone's life, but to remember their entire life and all that it encompassed. My situation was that without warning, without being able to say goodbye, he was killed in an auto accident and the coroner was at my front door trying to lessen my heartache.  I felt traumatized with his loss.

If the driver would have had a tiny measure of compassion for what he did, I believe it would have helped. His own girlfriend, a mother of four, died in his car as a result of his negligence and drunken state. I think his disregard and seeming indifference were covering pain that was going to send him to his own hell one day. I decided it was not drama I needed in my life. I had, thankfully, two sweet little girls who needed me and I was deeply grateful not to be left alone. My faith was my rock and what got me through each exhausting and overwhelming day that followed.

It seems unbelievable at times that thirty-seven years have passed. I look at my girls, who will be 39 and 42 this year, and wonder about time. Yes, it does electrify and freeze the  moment between two people and then has the capacity to lesson emotional pain as it goes by.

Memories of his death hurt less when I have been busy and have not lingered with my thoughts. Because I am down emotionally, emptiness and longing are triggered. I also know that what my step-mom has told me for years is true, "This, too, shall pass." She's right, it does. 

Long, long ago I was able to wake up each day and no longer feel loss stabbing me in the gut like a knife tearing me apart inside. Faith returned focus and control. With it, gentleness, peace and security descended again and I could move forward another day.

No one would wish to live without love. I cannot imagine it, for as human beings, we are meant to be with others. The loss, although it cuts deeply, is a challenge we have no choice but to pick up and carry. I believe the lesson is to see outside of ourselves, to see the greater picture. We live, we die. We have no choice but to accept this. What we do with this knowledge, how we move forward, how we act upon our pain makes us wiser and strengthens us.

Larry gave me two beautiful girls to move on with. He has never been very far from me, for I have only to look at them and see him. They are compassionate, giving adult women with common sense and street smarts. They stand for their beliefs and will get in your face if necessary, if provoked.  They laugh loudly and easily, just as he did. They work hard and have both achieved careers through struggle, aptitude and perseverance. I see him in them more than ever.

When we lose someone we loved dearly, we must find a way to move on and celebrate their life. Only in celebration do we lift the glass of sparkling champagne and say, "You, my beloved, you did well."




Larry Grant Brown
Beloved Husband and Father
May 10, 1946 - January 14, 1976




Surround Yourself with Those
You Love and Celebrate Life!












Thank you for reading and have a great day!
-Laren



additional resources and personal writings
are available to you here:



Friday, January 11, 2013

MEMORIES AND THANKS Blog Hop


January 12, 2013
hosted by
Lori Anderson, Pretty Things 



When Lori suggested the theme for this blog hop, I liked the idea of being true to the memory of her friend, the woman this blog hop was designed around. For this reason, I chose to honor her by creating jewelry using both her love of birds and the color red. 







From among a selection of birds that I had purchased, a solid red lampwork bird was my first choice.  But when the order arrived, the red birds were not as pretty as others. I did love the little lampwork bird that I chose (photo) with a top notch of red and just a touch of red on wing tips. There was humor in the dark red snail shell Czech glass beads, as well, for surely there are birds who love snails! With the dark swirls in the body of the little bird, it was a simple decision to use gunmetal chain for the bracelet with a simple magnetic closure.








My original design had the bird strung with two Czech beads but I shortened that later with black crystals, preferring the way it blended in with the overall design.  I decided against the red crystals that I had originally pulled to use, preferring the black crystals so much more.








The completed bracelet is very soft and fluid on the hand, easy to put on the wrist.  The little bird is now a pretty Memory-Keeper, holding all one's memories, dreams and hopes of the past, present and future. The bracelet feels romantic and a little magical, as if little bird will chirp gentle thoughts to the wearer, forever offering tidings of love within one's blessed memories.






A note of thanks to Lori Anderson for creating
'Memories and Thanks Blog Hop'.
To follow all artists who participated in this event:

MEMORIES AND THANKS Blog Hop Participants


Your comments are gratefully appreciated.
Thank you for hopping in, and have a great day!




(coupon available through January 15, 2013)

LAREN DEE DESIGNS


Thursday, January 10, 2013

THE INTERVAL IN-BETWEEN

With all the decor from inside and outside homes and businesses tucked away, my design thoughts begin to turn towards February. Yet there is this time in-between, this interval, that needs its own burst of something new and fresh.

In getting ready for the holiday next month, I was sorting through all the beads and metals in my inventory. I began laying out anything heart-shaped or appropriate in pink, red and white colorways.  I have an assortment of very pretty Czech glass beads and lampwork beads arriving within the next week and am excited to receive them, as well.

Going through my stash of beads was also a good time to remind myself of what I do have, that I forget I have when absorbed in specific color palettes (like red and green). January is a month to break free from the preoccupation of last month, before we are all reminded how pretty reds, pinks and whites are!

Dark blue and white dragonfly tiles caught my eye and I decided to do something with them in earrings.  Here is a photo of the resulting design:






I used black wire and strung the beads in wire-wrapped form beginning at the bottom of the earrings. The large bottom loops hold three soldered rings and three dangling beads each. Round blue beads in two sizes and dragonfly tiles are placed next. The dragonfly motif is reversible and can turn easily when hanging from the earlobe. The entire length is finished off with another smaller loop at the top and attached to leverback findings with jump rings.  

If you would enjoy owning these earrings, I have a contest currently running at:





The rules are simple:  Click the LIKE button on my page if you have not previously done so.  Hover over the LIKE button and click the "get notifications" link. Find the photo (as shown above) marked with Game Play and leave a comment that you are entered in the game. That's it! Game closes on Saturday, January 12, 2013 at Noon PST. Winner will be determined by random number generator.  Good luck!


Thank you for reading and have a great day!



Tuesday, January 8, 2013

YES, BY GOLLY, IT IS THE NEW YEAR!



I am one of "those people" who loves the holidays, yes. May I add to that statement, however, by saying that once done, I am done, and more than ready to get the new year revved up and moving.

The outdoor lights hung along the cedar fence and lovely tree on the deck went into storage on Sunday (January 6th).  It was cold outdoors and we had to layer our clothing to keep warm, but it was a job that got done pretty quickly.  Good thing, because it was raining by nightfall and I didn't want to drag this out later into the week.

My daughter gave me her iRobot floor vacuum which has been running around the house and making Springer Cat just a little uncomfortable.  Since I tolerate having to clean my house, it is nice to have something with robot in its name helping.  Now, if I could just get one about four foot tall that was willing to dust, do the dishes, clean the toilets...

Since I closed the door on December my energy for designing jewelry has been energized  again.  Of course, Valentine's is just a month away, so I have ordered heart-shaped pretties in lampwork and Czech glass.  They will be arriving in little packages within the next week and I am very excited for those arrivals!

I should share with you that I am a big fan of the PBS television series, Downton Abbey, now in its third season. My DVD for season three is ordered but won't be shipped until the end of the month. For now, I don't answer the phone on Sunday nights between 9 and 11 PM.  I already own seasons one and two on DVD, both books and the 2013 (there's that new year thing again) daily calendar on my desk.  

I love British history as told through the eyes of Downton Abbey's writer/producer. The house is beautiful and rich with paintings and antiques. This series is as rich for TV watching as Charlotte Bronte's books on British society, manners and classes are to reading.  I love the etiquette, jewelry and gowns of this series. The stories of the family upstairs and servants downstairs have a real depth and draw one in easily.

It is a little difficult to consider that one had to dress for dinner each day. I am afraid I am much more a creature of habit in my sweats and tees. Besides, who would do all that laundry, pray tell - my robot?  But then, that way of life was about filling the day, for the upper classes lived well, but as one of the Downton girls said, life was about tea parties, society and finding a husband.  If you were born a girl into a family of means, you could not inherit the estate. Only by marrying well could a woman achieve influence and power.

With thoughts of British aristocracy and fashion on my mind, I created the bracelet in the following photos. I was inspired and looking for something with a vintage feel that might have been made between 1910 and 1920.







Eight floral motif roses are brass stampings and connected end-to-end to form the body of the bracelet. Lobster clasp and soldered brass ring create a simple closure. Thirty-two tassels are wire wrapped and hang from both sides of the roses, using white Czech glass beads and clear crystals in two sizes.




Okay, I know, it's time for my chores.





Thank you for reading and have a great day!
-Laren