the Shaman

What is a Shaman?

Hi everyone, I want to talk a little mysticism today.  So I want to delve into a discussion of what exactly is a shaman.

Webster defines a shaman as a priest or priestess who uses magic for the purpose of curing the sick, divining the hidden, and controlling events.  

I’m pretty sure when you hear the word “shamanism,” you might picture feather headdresses, buffalo hides, medicine wheels and dream-catchers—all images associated with Native American cultures. But contrary to popular opinion, a “shaman” is not an Indian medicine man, and “shamanism” is not a Native American religion. In fact, many Native Americans find the terms “shaman” and “shamanism” offensive. The word “shaman” actually originates among the natives of Siberia, where it describes a specialized type of holy person. The shamans of Siberia interact with deities and spirits not only with prayer, ritual and offerings, but also through direct contact with the spirits themselves.

Wow, I’m glad to research this as I didn’t know that.

I was using the word shaman to indicate a symbol used by a medicine man or healer in the Native American culture.  In fact there are several symbols used in Native American spirituality. but calling them shaman is not correct. 


A Kachina is a spirit being in western Pueblo beliefs. Kachinas are believed to reside with the tribe for half of each year. They will allow themselves to be seen by a community if its men properly perform a traditional ritual while wearing kachina masks and other regalia. The spirit-being depicted on the mask is thought to be actually present with or within the performer, temporarily transforming him.  

Kachinas are also depicted in small, heavily ornamented carved-wood dolls, which are traditionally made by the men of a tribe and presented to girls (boys receive bows and arrows). These wooden dolls are used to teach the identities of the kachinas and the symbolism of their regalia. The identity of the spirit is depicted not by the form of the doll’s body, which is usually simple and flat, but primarily by the applied color and elaborate feather, leather, and, occasionally, fabric ornamentation of its mask.

There are many types of kachinas – for instance bean kachina is used for making crops grow.  And buffalo kachina assures that there will be plentiful food in the winter.

A Kachina in my work

Awhile back I made this piece which I love to wear on special occasions.  I am glad to know that it would be considered a Kachina.  I have designated it blue sky kachina.  Wear it and all your days will have blue skys.

First I made the pendant.

Then the necklace

shaman kachina

carnelian and turquoise….

I designed it so you can wear it with or without the pendant

the pendant will slide on the necklace


kachina shaman

kachina shaman

I consider this a prototype…  

definitely more kachinas to come

So the rebranding is progressing

new wesite

new shop

stay tuned  for September

and if you want I’ll keep you posted


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creating the desert in glass and metal


Desert Inspiration

It’s springtime in the desert and all of the plants are really showing off this year…..  and blooming early.

Inspiration on my side porch

We have a small porch off of our bedroom and when I first moved into the house in Tucson I nicknamed it the Margarita Porch.  It faces west so I thought sitting on that porch watching the sunset with a margarita would be absolutely nirvana.  But as it would happen sipping the margaritas from the pool or hot tub became the place instead.

So this little porch has sat unadorned until a few weeks ago my husband thought it would be a good idea to create some container gardens….

For the first one we got some cactus and succulent plants and this is what happened this week.

desert inspiration



desert inspiration


The plant is called Echinopsis.

It’s nickname is Easter Lily Cactus

the flowers … they are extraordinary. Often 4″, 5″ or even 6″ in diameter

and frequently much larger than the cactus that produced them. 

Such a shame the flowers only last a day after opening,

but I am thankful to have captured its beauty

Echin” comes from the Greek word “Ekihnos,” which meant both sea urchin and hedgehog.

The “opsis” at the end of Echinopsis is another Greek word, one which means “resembling” or “appearance.” 

And it is definitely desert inspiration for some art jewelry.

creating the desert in glass and metal

Have a superb weekend!!


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



Walking For Exercise

Last February I started a walking regimen to get myself in better shape.  I like to walk on the treadmill for about 30 minutes four times a week.  I start with a low incline and do a 15 minute mile.  The machine tells me that I am burning about 170 calories.  And I feel really good since I have implemented this routine.

Walking For Enjoyment

On Sundays my husband and I and our dog Homer like to take a longer leisure walk.  Now that it’s winter it is sometimes dark in the morning when we start out.  The bonus is seeing the sunrise over the mountains by our house. Awesome!

walking at sunrise

Definitely inspiration!

creating the desert in glass and metal

Mesa Necklace with Hollow Bead

Mesa Necklace with hollow bead

This necklace has a sterling silver pendant etched with a hand drawn image inspired by the mesas of Arizona.  I added an amber hollow bead.

The necklace is long without a clasp – great for layering on a fall sweater

The necklace measures 28 inches

The silver pendant and bead add another  3 inches

The pendant measures 3/4 inch by 2 inches

The lampworked bead measures 14mm by 20mm

mesa hollow

mesa hollow

mesa hollow

mesa hollow

mesa hollow

It’s in my Etsy shop now

creating the desert in glass and metal

Four Corners – a new series

New Project – Four Corners

I am currently starting to work on a new series – the Four Corners – so I thought I would take you along on the journey from beginning to end.  So first is the inspiration.  Something pops into my mind that I want to explore.  This time its the Four Corners.  The Four Corners is a region of the United States consisting of the southwestern corner of Colorado, southeastern corner of Utah, northeastern corner of Arizona, and northwestern corner of New Mexico.  It is the only location in the United States where four states meet. Most of the Four Corners region belongs to semi-autonomous Native American nations, the largest of which is the Navajo Nation, followed by Hopi, Ute, and Zuni tribal reserves and nations. The Four Corners region is part of a larger region known as the Colorado Plateau and is mostly rural, rugged, and arid. In addition to the monument, commonly visited areas within Four Corners include Monument Valley, Mesa Verde National Park, Chaco Canyon, and Canyon de Chelly National Monument. The most populous city in the Four Corners region is Farmington, New Mexico, followed by Durango, Colorado.

Four Corners

I decided that the first piece of jewelry I wanted to create is a ring.  I also decided that I wanted this ring design to be adjustable because they are easier for clients to purchase than a fixed size ring.  I plan to wear this ring on my middle finger which I know its a size 7 – ish so the ring shank has to be about 58mm.  The ring would not have much of an opening for a size 7 but could be adjusted wider up to maybe an 8.5 where there would be a little space in the band where it met on the backside of the finger.  Then I decided I wanted this ring to be one piece instead of a shank and a top.  In order to get a template I like to design in Adobe Illustrator.  By no means am I an expert on this software, but I can get some simple designs sketched this way and then they are easily printed off so I can reproduce the design without having to start drawing from scratch.

four corners design

I then print the design and cut the shape out and try it on to make sure it is what I had in mind.

four corners template

I have decided that I am going to add wire embellishments along the shank and from top to bottom which will define the four quadrants.  And I drew in 4 dots where I am contemplating adding 4 stones using a gypsy setting.  I have done a gypsy setting only a few times and not in awhile so this will be a little challenge for me.  Also forming this syle ring takes a little patience and strength.  But it will be fun.

four corners

Yep… just what I wanted..

creating the desert in glass and metal

Asymmetry – design technique

Asymmetry – a design style

Asymmetry means without symmetry.  No mirror image.  But it’s a design technique where you still have to achieve balance.  I feel it’s an attention grabbing technique, and most of my designs are asymmetrical.  But you have to plan.  So I usually sketch my design first even though I know I might not always follow that design. You can create balance by offsetting elements with space, creating emphasis with motion, understanding weight, adding focus with color and using a grid for alignment and organization.

I wanted to show off the pendant that matches the earrings from my last post.  So I am going to show you a necklace which is still a work in progress.

I wanted to use chain on one side and some wonderful matte ruby beads on the other side.  I think the ruby beads really compliment the pendant colors.  But the chain side needs another element or two to create the balance I am looking for.  But you will get the idea.. and I will show you the final rendition later on.





creating the desert in glass and metal


Desert Inspiration

Desert Inspiration at my house

I love early spring in the desert.  Cool evenings, warm days (but not too hot).  And life begins to bloom….  Just wanted to share some images

Winter Collection

I have been working on a few of my best selling designs and making them with lampworked beads from the Nevada Silver and Silvered Midnight series.  These beads are from a neutral palette and work well now into spring.  I have started to update my Esty shop with these designs.  Hope you enjoy ….

winter collection

It’s a rainy week in Tucson

Lot’s of rain predicted for Tucson this week.  I think this weather is a result of El Nino.  We get the rain after it leaves California.  We need the rain so I’m not complaining.  Plus it means more time in the studio.  And it’s good for the plants plus I shut my drip system off.

I’m busy “focusing”   – my word to guide me through 2016.   One of the things I am focusing on is health.  So I am easing into some exercising starting with stretching and a little yoga in the morning.  I suffer with sciatic nerve pain every now and then and I have found some great yoga stretches for that.  Feeling good!

I’m pushing myself to get my basic collection finished so I can stock my shops.  Need to focus….  But I am also enrolled in an online class to learn some new metalsmithing techniques.  Waiting on some supplies before I tackle that but the project is really awesome.

Lately I have been making some glass cabochons.  Glass without the hole!!!!  These cabochons are great to use in all sorts of projects.  You can bezel set them with beads for some really cool bead embroidery.  I like to bezel set them in silver.  That means the shape probably has to be perfected with some cold working.  Luckily my jool tool is perfect for this.

As you are shaping the glass you need to leave a small, vertical area on the sides before it begins to taper in. And I like to sand a very small bevel on the lower edge.  The bevel prevents the edge from chipping and it also leaves a small area for solder from the bezel.

Cabs are usually placed in a bezel setting. The bezel, a thin strip of metal, is soldered to the main piece. Hence, you need a little room for the solder. To hold the gem securely, the bezel needs to be bent inward, over the curvature of the stone. The vertical area on the side offers support, without having to bend the bezel too far in. When finished, you want to see mostly the stone. You do not want the bezel to come so far over the edges that it distracts from the gem.

Enough with the words…  picture please…

This is a piece I just finished.  The “stone” in the bezel is a glass cabochon from my silvered obsidian series.  I am calling this piece “Desert Bloom” because it reminds me of a prickly pear pad with bloom….  The camera didn’t capture it but there is some swirled goldstone in the glass…..  love it!


prickly pear

creating the desert in glass and metal