October’s Duel Birthstones

Greetings! This note is long overdue, but between craft shows and storm preparation (and survival) life has been a bit busy. That said, I hope all of you on the East Coast came though the storm at least relatively unscathed. If not, I send positive thoughts your way and hope you get life back on track quickly and easily!

This note might be overdue, but it’s not too late to discuss October’s birthstone. To make this more interesting, October actually has two birthstones. Let’s explore each of them now.

The first birthstone is opal. This is a very soft stone that starts as a silica gel material which hardens through nature’s heating and molding processes. Opals possess a phenomenon known as opalescence, which is what causes the play of colors they are most famous for. What I mean is if you take an opal and turn it from side to side, you will see flashes of various colors which seem to dance within the stone. Sometimes they are large flashes and sometimes they are smaller flashes depending on the makeup of the stone. These flashes determine the value of the stone. According to American Gem Society, “Opals range in color from milky white to black with flashes of yellow, orange, green, red, and blue.”

Australia is the primary source of opals, but they can also be found in Mexico, Brazil, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Japan, and Ireland. In the United States, they can be found in Nevada.

Depending on the time period and location in discussion, opals can have either positive or negative metaphysical properties. Some believed the opal was a symbol of health, while others believed it was a symbol of death and darkness.

October’s other birthstone is tourmaline. This stone comes in a wide variety of colors including yellow, green, red, blue, pink, brown, and black and some are bi-colored.

As I was digging around to find out more about tourmaline, I found that it has an unusual property for a gemstone. When it is warmed or rubbed, it becomes charged with static electricity and can attract small bits of paper and dust.

Tourmaline, which is a fairly hard stone, can be found in Brazil, Afghanistan, East Africa, and the United States.

When it comes to the history and lore that surrounds tourmaline, there is very little compared to other stones because tourmaline is a more recently discovered stone. It is believed to be a calming stone and used to dispel fears. Gemologists are finding that many stones in history were misidentified as rubies, sapphires, and emeralds when they were actually tourmaline.

I did some searching as to why October has two birthstones, and I came up empty-handed. I’m also trying to find out how long its had two birthstones. If you know, please let me know!

Thanks for stopping by!

This image is an opal and shows the flashes of color I discussed. (Image courtesy of Gemological Institute of America. http://www.gia.edu)

 

This image shows the variety of colors in which tourmaline can be found. (Image courtesy of Gemological Institute of America. http://www.gia.edu)

Finding Your Inspiration

Okay, I’ll admit it…I walked through the holiday aisles in Michaels today. I know Christmas is still more than two months away, but I make most of my gifts, so I need to start buying materials in order to give myself enough time to make things. If it’s any help, I ended up buying supplies to make a fall wreath. The beauty of stores putting out their holiday merchandise now means fall merchandise is on sale and I can still use it for a few weeks! The wreath materials cost me all of $5! Here it is:

It’s simple, but it fits the style of our house very well.

As I was walking through Michaels trying to figure out how to make a pretty wreath using the least expensive materials I could find, I got to thinking about something a customer said to me this past Saturday afternoon. As she was looking at my jewelry, she commented, “All of you people are so talented. I wish I had something to call talent.” I replied, “There has to be something you are good at doing,” to which she informed me everything she tries to do ends up in a mess or doesn’t turn out right. I suggested she start with a small project and work on it little by little instead of trying to get the project done all at once. I went on to suggest that maybe crafting isn’t her thing; perhaps cooking or working with people comes to her more naturally. Sadly, she insisted she was not good at anything.

Perhaps this lady and I were raised differently, or perhaps she has had so many things fail on her that she now has trouble imagining something actually working, but I really think every person is good at something, it’s just a matter of finding that something. It might not be anything Earth-shattering, but it’s something.

Far too often we try something and if it doesn’t work the first time, we throw it away and give up hope. Sadly, that’s not going to get us anywhere. I will admit I have my moments when I try to do that, but I am also extremely determined most of the time and I will go back and try to finish what I was working on even if it’s not perfect.

So I was thinking about this customer as I was walking through Michaels, and I couldn’t help but wonder how many people out there feel like her. I know I did until a few years ago and I still do on occasion. I got to thinking about her because I was trying to piece together a wreath without any idea of what I wanted it to look like. I was just picking things out and hoped they would work. Someone might tell me I can do that because I am creative. Maybe I am. I also am willing to play with things and figure them out as I go along. According to my elementary school report cards (yes, I still have those), my teachers worried about my lack of creativity. Determination paid off I suppose.

So what am I trying to say? First, don’t tell me you aren’t good at anything without expecting a debate to ensue. Second, practice makes perfect. Don’t continue trying things and giving up on them right away if they don’t work out. Who knows, maybe you can make the “mess” into something other than what you intended and still have a great finished product. Lastly, I believe everyone has some sort of talent and there are too many people out there who are not achieving their full potential. I understand if finances are stopping you, but perhaps there is some other way to do it, or a cheaper alternative. Whatever it is, work on it. Perfect it. Enjoy it.

Now what are you going to do?

Thanks for stopping by!

PS: If you are in the Lancaster County area this weekend, I invite you to stop by the Manheim Cruisin’ the Square Car and Motorcycle Show on Manheim’s Market Square. I read they are expecting over 200 vehicles! To give the ladies something to do while the men talk cars, I’ll be there with my jewelry. It’s supposed to be a beautiful weekend!

Porchwalk Recap

This past weekend was the Lititz Artisans’ Porchwalk in Lititz, PA. This is generally regarded as a pretty good show and has great attendance. This year was full of high quality artisans but the attendance wasn’t quite what we expected; however, it was still a great show overall.

Here is a photo of my set up:

 

As a returning vendor, I was given the choice between a space inside in the garage and a space outside. I chose the space inside with the thought that I wouldn’t have to worry about setting up my canopy, and I wouldn’t have to worry about wind. These definitely were positive points for the weekend; however, I learned that all positives have a negative or two as well. On Friday it was very breezy and one of the vendors outside had a lot of difficulty keeping her canopy from blowing away. For this reason, I was grateful I was inside. If I had been outside I would have had to lay all of my jewelry down or else it would have blown over in the wind.

On the flip side of the coin, the vendors who were outside were able to experience sunshine for most of the weekend. The garage was quite chilly and damp. On Friday it was chilly in the garage and outside too in spite of the sunshine.

Something else I learned is that even though I didn’t have to contend with the wind, the garage was a little darker than what I would have liked it to be. If I’m in there next year, I will try to hook up some small spotlights to help customers see the jewelry better. I had several customers who had to take pieces out into the sunlight in order to see the colors of the stones more clearly.

It certainly wasn’t a bad weekend. Even at slower shows, I’m able to make connections and talk to people. I love to learn about what people like and don’t like in their jewelry even if they don’t buy anything. It’s fun to know whether I’m on target with other folks interests or if I’m out on my own in my designs.

So I lived a little, learned a little, laughed a little, and loved a little this weekend. For those who came out, I thank you so very much for your support even though it was cold. For others, I hope to see you very soon. If you are in the Lancaster County area, I will be at the Manheim Classic Car Cruise-In this Saturday, October 20, on Market Square in Manheim from 10AM until 2PM. The men can check out the cars and we can have our own ladies corner.

For now, thanks for stopping by!

It’s American Craft Week!

If you have been following along with my blog, you know I’m hooked on the idea of American-made items. In light of this, a few days ago I received an article from my great-aunt about some local American-made artisan shops and it also discussed American Craft Week. I had never heard of this, so I decided to look into it. Here’s what I found:

 

American Craft Week runs from October 5-14, 2012, which just happens to be the same week as the Lititz Artisans’ Porchwalk craft show I’m participating in. You can read more about that here: Lititz Artisans’ Porchwalk Show. At first I thought maybe the Porchwalk was scheduled during this week intentionally, but I can’t find how long American Craft week has been going on, but I know the Porchwalk has been going for 14 years.

 

According to the American Craft Week website (http://www.americancraftweek.com), this is a time to celebrate the artisan talents within this great nation. There are thousands of talented artisans out there who share their creative side with others as they produce hand-made decorative and functional objects every day. However, in our rush-around society, we often overlook the time and talent that goes into each of these items and we find ourselves leaning toward cheaper, and often, imported goods. In reality, these handcrafted items can enrich our lives, our surroundings, our history, and our economy. (I’m not sure which of those is more important some days.)

 

American Craft Week is spearheaded by an organization called Craft Retailers & Artists for Tomorrow (CRAFT). This is an association of galleries, shops, schools, and artists who are dedicated to promoting items which are handmade in America.

 

There are events going on throughout the nation during American Craft Week. Some are with retailers, some are artisans, and perhaps you can even find some classes. Here is a link to a list of events: American Craft Week Participant List. Just click on your state when you get to the list.

 

I’m not sure which of these excites me more: realizing that artisans are receiving recognition for being an important part of our society and our economy, or looking at the photos on these websites and realizing just how many beautiful handcrafted items are out there. The talent people have amazes me! It really makes me want to see just how much more I can learn and how far I can push my abilities.

 

Speaking of celebrating artisans, we are heading into a great time to do just that. A few days ago I mentioned to my husband that we had three months left until Christmas. He grumbled something to the effect of “Yeah, I saw someone posted something about there being 100 days left until Christmas a few days ago on Facebook.” I kindly informed him that was me. You might think I’m a little crazy for thinking about Christmas this early as well, but that’s okay. However, this holiday season, I encourage you to consider giving handcrafted gifts if you can. For those people who you never know what to get because they have everything, trust me, they can’t possibly have some of the handcrafted items out there. If you need suggestions for people to talk to about various handcrafted items, please let me know because I just might have a connection.

 

Thanks for stopping by!

 

Jewelry Humor

It’s a drizzly day where I am for what I think is the third or fourth day (at least) in a week, so I thought some jewelry humor would be a nice change.
I found this on a local jewelry shop’s Facebook page and I just had to share it with you. I thought this was great.

I hope you have a wonderful day whether you’re in the drizzle like I am or enjoying the sunshine elsewhere.

Thanks for stopping by!

Defining Metaphysical Properties

If you have been following along with my writings, you know that each month this year I have written about that month’s birthstone. With each of these stones, I have mentioned what are called metaphysical properties.  Another way to look at this concept is to call them supernatural properties. They are properties of a stone that are not part of its physical attributes. Examples of this include the ability to bring peace, wellness, or protection to a person who is wearing the stone. This concept goes back in time as far as any records which have been found.

 

I recently received a publication from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) which discusses this concept and it prompted me to write about it here. According to the article, people have believed in the metaphysical properties of stones since at least 4,000 B.C, and perhaps even before then. Many people today believe these ideas are simply folklore and do not follow them anymore, but I have run into some folks who swear by wearing a certain stone for the properties it holds.

 

The article goes on to explain that the Medieval Europeans and Indians believed that certain gemstones cured illnesses, while the Chinese believed that the stones could lengthen the wearer’s life. From what I have read, these concepts were not limited to just a few stones; almost every stone had some type of power.

 

Gemstones were and are usually used for balance and healing of different areas. The three general areas they covered were the mind, the body, and life overall. I have done a little research on these concepts and here are the areas that are affected by metaphysical properties and some stones that influence them:

 

Mind:

Amethyst is thought to be able to dissipate evil thoughts and bring on feelings of calmness to the wearer.

 

Garnet is thought to help with the treatment of depression.

 

Onyx is thought to help its wearer move beyond bad relationships or help him or her to have strength against criticism.

 

Body:

Citrine is thought to relieve back pain and help with digestive system problems in its wearer.

 

Pearls are believed to help the wearer’s hormones to become in balance with lunar cycles.

 

Peridot is thought to ward off nightmares.

 

 

Life:

Amazonite is thought to sooth tense situations and enhance love between people.

 

Emerald is thought to protect lovers from unfaithfulness and also provide optimism in a person’s dreams.

 

Garnet is also thought to be beneficial in providing personal and business success.

 

One note about all of this information: Please do not take any of this as fact or medically researched information. These are simply beliefs that have been passed down through the ages and are not meant to treat medical conditions.

 

While the metaphysical properties of gemstones can be questioned, it is interesting to see what people have come to believe each stone is capable of doing. The only thing I know for sure, is when I wear a piece of beautiful gemstone jewelry, I feel much better about myself and my outlook on the day.

 

I hope you have found this as interesting to read as I found it to research. If you have any thoughts or questions, please let me know!

 

Thanks for stopping by!

 

Sources:

GIA Distance Education Quarterly. Fall 2012: Balance Issue. Balance and the Magic of Gems.

 

Fire Mountain Gems. Encyclobeadia. http://www.firemountaingems.com/encyclobeadia/gemnotes.asp