Archives for January 2017

Hobo Nickel – Have you heard of them?

hobo nickel

Hobo Nickel – a great find at the gem shows

Aside from shopping for things at the gem shows that I will use in my jewelry creations, I like to browse for inspiration.  And every now and then I find something that speaks to me personally and of course it’s hard not to purchase.  Yesterday I went to the first gem show of 2017… JOGS which stands for Jewelry and Organic Gem Show.  And I purchased the pendant you see above – FOR ME.

It is a Hobo Nickel….

The hobo nickel is a sculptural art form involving the creative modification of small-denomination coins, essentially resulting in miniature bas reliefs. The US nickel coin was favored because of its size, thickness and relative softness. However, the term hobo nickel is generic, as carvings have been made from many different denominations.

Due to its low cost and portability, this medium was particularly popular among hobos, hence the name.

The altering of coins dates to the 18th century or earlier. Beginning in the 1850s, the most common form of coin alteration was the “potty coin”, engraved on United States Seated Liberty coin which modified Liberty into a figure sitting on a chamber pot. This time period was also the heyday of the love token, which was made by machine-smoothing a coin (usually silver) on one or both sides, then engraving it with initials, monograms, names, scenes, often with an ornate border. Hundreds of thousands of coins were altered in this manner. They were often mounted on pins or incorporated into bracelets and necklaces. The love token fad faded out in the early 20th century; love tokens engraved on buffalo nickels are rare.

When the Indian Head, or Buffalo nickel, was introduced in 1913, it became popular among coin engravers. The big Native American head was a radical departure from previous designs and would not be seen on any subsequent coins. The large, thick profile gave the artists a larger template to work on and allowed for finer detail.

Many talented coin engravers, as well as newcomers, started creating hobo nickels in 1913, when the Buffalo nickel entered circulation. This accounts for the quality and variety of engraving styles found on carved 1913 nickels. More classic old hobo nickels were made from 1913-dated nickels than any other pre-1930s date.

Many artists made hobo nickels in the 1910s and 1920s, with new artists joining in as the years went by. The 1930s saw many talented artists adopting the medium. Bertram Wiegand, known almost exclusively as Bert, began carving nickels in the teens, and his student George Washington Hughes, known as Bo, began carving in the late teens (and up to 1980). During this period, Buffalo nickels were the most common nickels in circulation.

The hobo nickel pendant I just purchased is a 1936 coin and was probably carved in the 1940’s.  It is exquisite and I love it.  Definitely a piece I will layer with my jewelry.  I think I will make a hand made chain as it deserves something special.

creating the desert in glass and metal

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

Tucson Gem and Jewelry Shows

It’s the Most wonderful time of the year

No – not Christmas; even though that’s pretty good too.  

The Tucson Gem and Jewelry shows start next week 

As one person put it – just throw a rock in the air and somebody will want to buy it.

These shows have been ongoing since 1955

It’s not one show but around 50 shows

Each show with hundreds of vendors

And each show has it’s own flavor so depending on what you want to see and buy you pick the flavor show you want

I used to show my beads at the gem shows but haven’t done so in quite a few years.

Now I spend the time taking classes and shopping.

This year I am taking a class from the talented April Bower

I am going to learn how to reticulate silver

and will be making this ring

Gem and Jewelry Shows

Very much my style…

As far as shopping goes I probably don’t need much but I love to walk around and get inspired

Plus I always pick up a cabochon or 2 …  well, probably more than that

Plus it’s so much fun seeing my jewelry friends

Leave me a comment if you are coming to Tucson for the shows

 creating the desert in glass and metal




That happened to me…..  

I started my journey to health January 2016 and today I am 42 pounds thinner, limit sugar in my diet, and am in the best shape ever

I hate the word diet.  It seems that I have been on a diet most of my life but never lost the weight I wanted.  And people would always say “oh you don’t need to lose weight; you look great”  But I didn’t feel great.

But all that changed last January.  I woke up one day in the middle of the month and decided I needed to get healthy- that included exercise, losing some weight and taking control over food.

The first thing I did was find my LA Fitness membership pass and decided I would exercise 30 minutes a day 4 times a week.  I started with the treadmill.  Then I added swimming over the summer.  I still like walks outside but that is in addition to working out at the gym.  

It wasn’t easy at first.  But I invested in a pair of bluetooth headphones and I listen to my music and now the 30 minutes flies by.  I even created special playlists for working out.  I am walking a 15 minute mile on a low incline and burn about 200 calories every workout.  I learned its not just the calories burned while working out but the fact that your metabolism becomes more efficient all day if you work out regularly.

Okay – got the exercise started and then thought about food.  I decided I would not go on a diet per se….  yes I would monitor calories, but I would eat the foods I like.  Nothing would be off limits except I knew I needed to cut down on my sugar intake.  I downloaded an app for the iphone called lose-it and set up the program to monitor my calories.  It decided I should be on 1200 calories a day.  The first 3 weeks were the hardest.  I was hungry.  

But I changed the way I dealt with food.  If I wanted pizza I ate it in the amount that would keep me on track for my daily calories and then I would forget about food until the next meal.  It also helped to plan out my calorie intake for the day and decide what foods I would eat.  And some days I would look forward to the ice cream at the end of the day because it was included in the calories I could eat.

The goal was to lose 1 pound a week and by June I was down 20 pounds,  Felt wonderful and decided to lose just a few more.  And by Thanksgiving I was down 20 more pounds.  I went from a size 10-12 to size 4-6.  But more importantly I am healthier.  We always ate healthy – limited red meat, ate whole grains… but now I am really conscious of portion control.  I never limit what I can eat just how much of it.  

Now the lose-it app has me up to 1500 calories a day for maintenance.  And I find that is just fine.

So if I can do it – you can too…..

Go Get healthy!




Tucson Rings

Tucson rings

I call these Tucson rings….  

Fabulous turquoise reminds me of the blue skies

Spiny Oyster reminds me of the sunset

creating the desert in glass and metal



Cabochons – they need to be more than just pretty

A cabochon is a flat stone which will be set in a bezel.  Setting a cabochon stone is one of the first stone setting techniques I learned.  Of course I had purchased many beautiful stones over the years – before I knew how to set them – and of course some of those stones while beautiful were not cut perfectly.  I think I know enough now that I can still set them although it will be more difficult; but now I have learned some things to look for BEFORE buying that beautiful stone.

It goes without saying that knowing the stone cutter and their reputation before hand is a good thing, but if not here are some things to look for

  1. It will be easier to set a stone if it has a perfectly flat back.
  2. Look at the sides of the cabochon.  They should angle up towards the top meaning the bottom is the widest.
  3. Check the stone at eye level.  The angle should be the same all the way around otherwise you have to get creative with the setting.
  4. Check the top of the stone.  Flaws are okay if you like them.
  5. And really good stones have a 45 degree angle at the bottom which will help it the setting is really tight.

I have started to make some glass cabochons and I love them.  It makes my jewelry pieces unique.  My cabochons are created in the flame and are pretty good right away.  But I do have a set up where I can grind the piece and make some angles if necessary.  I haven’t gotten into faceting the glass cabs yet but I would imagine that would really be cool.







First comes the cabochon – then comes the jewelry………………..

Stay Tuned

creating the desert in glass and metal


Sketching My Jewelry Designs

If you read about my Four Corners series you saw that I designed the template on the computer because I wanted symmetry and precision.  Sometimes organic sketching will do.  I am designing a series of rings that will utilize some awesome turquoise cabs that I got at the gem shows last year.  And I want the design to be more organic so I just sketched some possibilities on graph paper.


This turquoise is exquisite and the photo taken with my iphone just doesn’t capture them properly.  I will photograph the rings once they are finished.  By the way the orange stone is spiny oyster.  Also exquisitely cut.

The sketch is necessary to make sure that the stone fits the way I want it to on the backplate.  I usually sketch 1:1 but sometimes if there is detail I will blow up the design so that I can sketch details better.

Another big decision coming up is sizing the rings…  I think this time I will make several size ring shanks but not solder the top on til it is purchased so that the client can get the ring they want in the size they need.  I can do that for online sales but not for rings that go to a gallery.  The stones are one of a kind and will go into one of a kind rings.  

creating the desert in glass and metal


Using Turquoise in My Art Jewelry

The Meaning of Turquoise

Turquoise is perhaps the oldest stone in man’s history, the talisman of kings, shamans, and warriors. It is a stone of protection, strong and opaque, yet soothing to the touch, healing to the eye, as if carved from an azure heaven and slipped to earth.

The name Turquoise is derived from the French, pierre turquoise, meaning “Turkish stone,” because the trade routes that brought Turquoise to Europe from the mines in central Asia went through Turkey, and Venetian merchants often purchased the stone in Turkish bazaars.

For nearly a thousand years, Native Americans have mined and fashioned Turquoise, using it to guard their burial sites.  Indian priests wore it in ceremonies when calling upon the great spirit of the sky. Many honored Turquoise as the universal stone, believing their minds would become one with the universe when wearing it. Because of its ability to change colors, it was used in prophesy or divining. To the prehistoric Indian, Turquoise, worn on the body or used in ceremonies always signified the god of the sky alive in the earth.1

Turquoise Healing Energy

Turquoise is a strengthening stone, good for exhaustion, depression, or panic attacks. It enhances physical and psychic immune systems, supporting the assimilation of nutrients, alleviating pollution and viral infections. It is anti-inflammatory and detoxifying, reducing excess acidity and benefiting gout, rheumatism, and the stomach.  Turquoise is a most efficient healer, providing solace for the spirit and well-being for the body. It benefits the overall mood and emotion by balancing and inducing a sense of serenity and peace. Holding or wearing Turquoise helps restore depleted vitality and lifts sagging spirits. It relieves stress and brings focus back to the center heart.

Turquoise is the traditional birthstone of those born in December.  Turquoise is one of the zodiac stones for those born under the sign, Sagattarius, between November 22 and December 21, the end of harvest season and the beginning of winter. Sagittarians are optimistic, kind, and adventurous, and their outlook on life is extremely positive.

Turquoise Stones

Turquoise from different mines are very different in appearance.  Today I am going to talk about 2 types – Royston and Kingman because I was lucky to acquire some wonderful cabochons last year at the gem and jewelry shows in Tucson.  I’m in the process of making some rings this week.  (I need to use up my stash before I can buy new stones!!!)

Royston Turquoise


Royston is a turquoise mine located within the Royston District near Tonopah, Nevada. The Royston District consists of several mines including Royston, Royal Blue, Oscar Wehrend and Bunker Hill. While Royston is considered an active mine, it is a very small operation. Royston turquoise is known for its beautiful deep green to rich light blue colors. Royston stones are often two-tone, displaying both dark and light green and sometimes blue. Royston has a heavy matrix ranging from dark brown to gold in color. This matrix makes for beautiful combinations with the color variations of the stone. Today, the Royston district is still producing turquoise of high quality, but in limited amounts.

Kingman Turquoise



Copper mining in the Mineral Park Mining District around Kingman has produced a large supply of turquoise through the years. The Kingman mine re-opened in September 2004 after being closed since the 1970’s. About 95% of Kingman is stabilized which makes it very affordable. The remaining 5% of the Kingman turquoise stays in its natural state. High-grade Kingman turquoise is medium to dark blue color and frequently flecked with pyrite and sometimes quarts. In its high-grade form it has always been considered among the top quality turquoise. The best Kingman being produced today is deep blue with black matrix with some being spider web.

I’ll post pictures of the rings as soon as they are done.

creating the desert in glass and metal




Flush stone setting

Flush Stone Setting – Learning a New Technique

I enjoy learning new techniques when making jewelry.  So often I will design a project that incorporates a technique I would like to try.  I wrote about my new series called 4 corners and the first piece I designed was a ring.  I decided it needed a little bling and decided it needed a stone.  More specifically it needed a small stone which would be flush set.

flush setting

Flush stone setting is definitely an advanced stone setting technique.  So I really read as many articles about this technique that I could.  I especially liked a video by Nancy Hamilton, and an article on the ganoksin site by Gerald Lewy.  Then I practiced on some copper.  And finally attempted the setting on the ring.  I definitely need a little more practice.  Measurements and drilling need to be very accurate.  And next time I would drill the original hole for the setting before I formed the ring.  I couldn’t finish the hole on the inside of the ring the way it should have been.  But overall I am happy.  I did drill the hole with the stone setting burr just a tad too large and was forced to apply a little chemical bond to make sure the stone stays put.  So this ring will end up in my jewelry stash.  But I am very happy with the design and have more rings in progress on the bench right now.  I also designed the ring with an adjustable band so that it will be easier to fit.  And there is a pendant and bracelet and earrings designed now too.  Hope to have them in my shop mid January.

flush stone setting

flush stone setting

creating the desert in glass and metal




a manner of doing something.

synonyms: manner, way, technique, method, methodology, approach, system, mode, form, modus operandi; More
a distinctive appearance, typically determined by the principles according to which something is designed.

What is style in fashion?

Style is expressing yourself through what you wear.

I love the girl’s “style” in the above picture.

I would like to wear that – then I think … ummmm I’m 69; but I think I could still carry it off.

Style should be ageless.  

One doesn’t stop expressing herself just because of age.

Style is a state of mind

Sassy Seniors with Style

style at any age

sassy senior style




Street Fashion Style

#streetstyle – is a fashion style.   Street fashion is generally associated with youth culture, and is most often seen in major urban centers.  Mainstream fashion often appropriates street fashion trends as influences.  There seem to be an unlimited number of bloggers showing us pictures of what is being worn on the streets today.  That top picture was from a blog about street style.  The blog that started it all was The Sartorialist –  Scott Schuman’s wildly popular site which launched in 2005.  Schuman—who was lauded as one of the Time magazine’s Top 100 Design Influencers—often snaps well-dressed denizens throughout New York and Europe, and posts thoughtful, interesting photos. You won’t bait Schuman by by wearing wild outfits or head to-toe labels—his subjects tend to be rather restrained and organically stylish.

style in white

I love her style!!!!

Phil Ohl is a “street style photographer.  His site is called Street Peeper.  Great photographs of very stylish people.

Face Hunter is another great photograpy site for street fashion

Where Did You Get That is another great site


And the list goes on and on….

My Art Jewelry Style

I think my jewelry style matches my fashion style.  I tend to like eclectic pieces with lots of asymmetry.  I am using copper and silver more in my designs but still like to use my handmade beads along with semi precious stones.  I like bold pieces that are still understated if that is possible.  

This year I plan on concentrating on small series of pieces as I explore more metal techniques.  So I hope you stay tuned.

Tell me …..  what is your style?

What kind of clothes and jewelry do you like to wear?  

What kind of accessories do you like?

Leave me some comments

creating the desert in glass and metal






Looking Ahead to the New Year

Planning and looking ahead to a brand new year

I like to spend the last 2 weeks of December broadly mapping out my personal and business plans for the upcoming new year after reflecting on the past year.  I usually don’t make resolutions, but instead choose a word to guide me. 2016 threw me a curve ball that I wasn’t expecting.    So I lost momentum with my word for last year.  I found it hard to focus.  

So now it’s time to choose a word for the upcoming new year

and I have decided I need 2 words – one for personal and one for my art.

For my personal life the word is 

 build (something) again after it has been damaged or destroyed.
For my art and business the word is
 give new strength or energy to; reinvigorate.
I plan on refreshing some old designs in this new year
And I want to focus on connecting with my online customers
I plan to update my website to add online shopping right there
Today is the beginning of a brand new year
I look forward to it
and want to wish all of you a very Happy New Year
new year
creating the desert in glass and metal