Mittens and Rings

Well, believe it or not it has gotten a little chilly here in Tucson.  In fact there was a layer of frost on the chaise lounge this morning.  And I think we might even have a freeze as temps are predicted to fall to the high 20’s at night this week.

Which brings me to “Mittens and Rings”.


I knitted these!!!!

I love fingerless mittens because they allow me to wear my rings, show them off and still stay warm.

This pair was a kit from Knit-Purl in Portland Oregon.

They are cashmere and really luxurious.


The ring is turquoise and silver. 

From this collection last January…


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Stacking Rings

stacking rings

I love the look of stacking rings.  They also help you make the statement you want to make.  One day wear one and another day three. They offer great flexibility to express your style the way you want to.  I made these anticlastic rings awhile back.  I recently have been working on another stackable set.  Do you like stackable rings?  Leave me a comment.

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




Glass Cabochons

Cabochon – what is it?

A cabochon, from the Middle French word caboche (meaning “head”), is a gemstone which has been shaped and polished as opposed to faceted. The resulting form is usually an ellipsed dome with a flat bottom.  The procedure is to cut a slab of rough rock with a slab saw, and next to stencil a shape from a template. The slab is then trimmed to near the marked line using a diamond blade saw—called a trim saw ad then ground down with diamond saws.  The art of cutting stones is called lapidary.

Glass Cabochons

If you follow my work in glass, you know that I make my glass beads by a process called lampworking or flame working. You wind hot glass on a stainless steel mandrel in a torch resulting in a glass form with a hole – hence a bead.  I also like to make glass cabochons – glass pieces that are not beads because there is no hole and are reminiscent of cut gemstones.  So how do you work in the flame to get that shape?  The technique is called “off mandrel”  where you manipulate the glass directly in the flame with just the rods of glass.  I make some of my cabochons with the off mandrel technique.  I also use special mandrels made specifically for cabochon forming.

cabochon mandrel photo

Some finished glass cabochons

glass cabochons

Jewelry using cabochons

So why do I want glass cabochons?  Even though bead jewelry is wonderful on it’s own, sometimes I like to set stones in silver.  And to distinguish my pieces I like to make glass cabochons which express my story. Along with classic metalsmithing techniques the resulting piece is unique.

glass cabochon rings

Rings with glass cabochons – plus a beautiful natural amber ring (got the amber in Poland)

creating the desert in glass and metal

Another Saddle Ring

Saddle Ring for Barb

Saddle Ring – with the help of an online class

If you follow my blog you know that I have been making rings.  So when I saw an online class with Leslie Kail Villareal on making her Boho Ring – I signed up.  And I am so glad I did.  I am mainly a self taught metalsmith.  I see something I like, and I read and try to figure out how to accomplish it.  With Leslie’s class I watched her video which made the whole process seem so simple.  It was very challenging and I learned several techniques and improved on some I already had learned.  The ring above is a simple design commissioned by a friend.  She wanted a hammered ring with minimal embellishments.

Saddle ring - boho style

This ring mimicked Leslie’s design more closely.  The silver was etched.  The stone was set on curve.  Lots of embellishments were added.  It is quite the statement ring.

I also made this ring and the etching is the focal point

Inca saddle ring

I have another in the tumbler right now!

creating the desert in glass and metal


Saddle Rings

Everybody knows that a saddle is a supportive structure for a rider, fastened to an animal’s back.  It is an iconic symbol of the west.



Interpreting the West in Jewelry

Saddle rings are an interpretation of this western icon and many saddle rings are set with turquoise and have even been dubbed the “Western cocktail ring”.  (photo from internet)

saddle ring with turquoise


My Saddle Ring

I have just finished reorganizing my metals studio, and it is a pleasure to work in again without all the clutter.  Here is a saddle ring that I just finished.  It has 2 pieces of textured metal with a circle of twisted wire separating them.  The band was created separately and soldered on.  I plan to create the next ring as one piece.

saddle ring by Louise Little

The 2 pieces of metal were sweat soldered together.  I love taking online classes to help me perfect techniques.  And I just finished a course with Connie Fox on sweat soldering.  The course helped me to finesse my execution of some simple sweat soldering joins.  The class is on Craft University if you want to check it out.

Can’t wait to make another.

creating the desert in glass and metal


ring classLook at what I have been up to!

February in Tucson means the Gem and Jewelry Shows are in town!

And of course I did some shopping.

But I also took 3 ring classes with Richard Salley and Jessica Papke  aka Rosy Revolver.

Can’t wait to make more