Green with Love

A few months ago I received a call from my friend Liam, saying he was going to ask his lady to be his wife. It wasn't until 15 minutes later -- after I peppered him non-stop with questions about how, when and where he was planning to pop the question -- that he was able to state the reason for his call. Aside from sharing the good news, he wanted me to make The Ring.

Can you say panic at the disco?

Liam is one of my best friends from way back, and his lady, Chi, is just a sweetheart. I was beyond honored, very thrilled and more than a little nervous about making The Ring and, most importantly, getting it right.

Chi's family is from Nigeria, so I thought it would be nice to reference that in some way with the ring's materials as well as in the design. Some of the oldest jewelry discovered in Nigeria featured coils of brass. So I updated the idea for the occasion with 14kt gold and seven emeralds for luck and love.

The green of the emerald is the color of life and of the springtime, which comes round again and again, representing renewal But it has also, for centuries, been the colour of beauty and of constant love. While in modern times we've come to associate red with love, in ancient Rome green was the colour of Venus, the goddess of beauty and love.

And while I can't really claim credit for the outcome, I do like to think the ring brought Liam a little extra bit of that luck of the Irish which already runs in his family. She said yes.


Coming Full Circle

One of the reasons I love making jewelry is that adornment is such a personal expression of the individual wearer. There isn't really an outward logic to it. While a certain outfit may look better with a certain kind of a jewelry, or certain looks are "in", why women choose the precise pieces they do, and how wearing those earrings or that necklace makes them feel good, is an entirely internal process.

My job as a designer is to create jewelry that speaks to that internal process; to create pieces that feel as if they were made for the woman who choses them. I know a piece is finished when I am in love with it and can imagine the woman who would wear it -- including me.

I thought you might be interested in my latest love affair.

I'm in love with this necklace. I've been working on it for the past four weeks. It's unlike anything I've made before. It is both armor and art, inspired by the fierceness of Joan of Arc and the drama of classic Baroque, with a modern twist.

Each of the 67 plexiglas discs featured in this necklace was cut and finished -- sanded, polished and set -- by hand on a complex web of handcrafted sterling silver chain mail.

I love the contrast between the commonness of the plexiglas -- polished as if it were a gem -- and the specialness of the silver, and how it warms to the body's temperature. I love the weight of it, like a breastplate, though it is not heavy, and I love the sound it makes when I move. It is a show piece, a statement, a work of wearable art.

I have no idea where I'm going to wear this, but wherever I'm going, I'm definitely Going Gorgeous.


Sweet Enough to Eat

Don't know what it was about that tea and toast yesterday, but it sparked a whole afternoon of domestic activity - I cleaned the kitchen, organized the linen closet and...made cookies.

Here's how it started:

The kitchen looked so bright and sparkly after I wrestled the dishes into submission that I felt inspired to cook. I thought, oh, wouldn't something sweet be yummy right now? A little treat to reward myself for actually completing a few household chores...I should go to the store and get some cookie dough.

Now maybe that thought doesn't stop anyone reading this in their tracks, but it sure stopped me. When I was growing up, we never bought pre-made stuff like cookie dough or cake mix. My mom made everything from scratch. Mostly cause it's not difficult to do AND you know exactly what's in it! Have you read the ingredients on the commercially prepared refrigerator cookie dough lately? Not so heart-healthy.

I figure if I'm going to have something fattening and sweet, I might as well make it the good kind of fattening and sweet.

So I made chocolate-chip pecan cookies. From scratch. With real ingredients (no partially hydrogenated anything). Hot, gooey, chocolately goodness fresh out of the oven = Mmmmmm. Plus, I figured out that if you eat two, and give the rest away, no diet laws have been broken.

It was so good, I didn't even mind doing more dishes.

Here's the recipe:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Beat together until creamy 1 stick of butter, 1/3 cup of granulated sugar, 1/2 cup of brown sugar (pack it in there!), and 1 tsp of vanilla extract (none of that vanillan stuff).
  3. Add 1 egg to the mixture.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift together 1 cup + 2 tbs of flour, 1 tsp of baking powder and a pinch of salt (pinch = 1/2 tsp). The salt is important as it adds a nice counter to the sweet.
  5. Gradually beat the flour mixture into the butter mixture.
  6. Fold in anywhere from 1 cup to 1&1/2 cups of chocolate chips (depending on how chocolately you want it). You may also add about 1/2 a cup of chopped nuts. Actually you can add anything you want that you think will taste good -- sometimes I add cinnamon or dried cranberries.
  7. Drop spoonfuls on an UNGREASED baking sheet (I like to use parchment paper to line my cookie sheet - easy cleanup).
  8. Bake for about 10 minutes. You'll know the cookies are done cause they smell good! Also the edges and bottom get all goldeny-brown. Just don't forget to let them cool before taking a bite -- otherwise you'll burn your tongue.
  9. Enjoy!


Nothing Better

It's been a cranky, congested week and a half for me recovering from the flu. Happy happy joy joy, as we used to say.

The good news is that I'm feeling better, having switched to softer tissue so my nose doesn't feel like sandpaper anymore and, as I sit here on the couch with my cat in my lap, drinking tea and eating toast, it suddenly dawned on me that I am inhabiting a perfect moment, and how lovely it is.

Sometimes there's nothing better than tea and toast.

Yes, I know. The plate is filled with more crumbs than toast. What can I say? It was good.

Also, notice the tools next to the plate? I've been working on a new jewelry project -- so excited! Will be posting pictures tomorrow...


In Like A Lion...

March has put us all on notice that our friend the lamb is still a ways down the road. It has been FREEZING in my neck of the woods. And yet, and yet, there are signs...

Today's gorgeous blue sky, swabbed with cotton ball clouds, made me feel that spring may not be so far behind.

A friend of mine in Peru sent me these gorgeous milky opals awhile back. The unique crystal structure of the opal -- it contains microscopic spheres of silica -- refracts light as it passes through the gemstone, resulting in a bewitching play of color from within. When coupled with a sky blue topaz, it reminds me of day like today -- brilliant flashes of blue sky, full of the promise of spring.

Go Gorgeous!