Goodness In The Cosmos

Sharing Goodness through Music, Jewelry and Food

Sifting for Quality in Jewelry Design, 8 Tips Towards Beading Perfection

Sterling Silver Kokopelli Charm bracelet, with Ocean Jasper, Turqouise and Red Jasper by
Sterling Silver Kokopelli Charm bracelet, with Ocean Jasper, Turquoise and Red Jasper by

Sometimes I am gifted with a charm or some precious stone/bead form a loved one. On those occasions like this one, I choose to use that gift opportunity to design something from my ‘odd’ bead pile for myself.

What exactly is an odd bead pile, and why should every prodigious bead jeweler have one?  When buying stock for your shop, you will usually come across beads included in your order that don’t quite fit the project you are working on, or have too many ‘character flaws’ to be useful.

A gemstone or bead character flaw that contributes to its addition to the ‘odd bead’ pile is as follows:

1. Not the same size or finish as the rest of the beads in the lot. This makes that ‘odd’ bead stick out all the more.

2. Too many natural inclusions or pock marks in the stone. This can make the stone photograph poorly. Even if it is a sturdy stone, a picture could make it look as if it will break at any moment. Or, in the case of large pockets of rough pits on the stone, most likely will break.

3. Not enough of the main stone material clearly displayed in the stone. For example in the above bracelet I used faceted round red jasper beads that have too much clear quartz in them to be used as ‘red jasper’. They are mostly colorless with only a small spot of the red jasper color. This is my ‘personal’ quality control. I feel if a buyer is entrusting me as a seller to deliver a specific stone, it really needs to be that stone, and a good show of the stone as well. Certainly if every seller did this, I wouldn’t have such a large amount of unsalable stones.

4. Mis-shaped bead. If you are matching this is an issue.

5. Wrong bead hole size for current project. Sadly this happens a lot and something every beader needs to really watch out for.

6. Misplaced bead hole. Especially when working with natural gemstone beads, some bead holes will not be drilled in the optimum location or angle. This can make the bead lay awkwardly or even worse, breakable and destroy your metalwire, string, line, or make the actual bead very susceptible to breakage. Gemstone chips, or any cut other than round can be notorious for this.

7. Entirely wrong gemstone. Just because you ordered Green aventurine beads, doesn’t mean that’s what you’ll get on the whole string. Anything else could be included. And I mean anything depending on the quality of your distributor. Know your stones! This will help immensely.

8. Lastly, all those extra solo beads that didn’t make it into whatever project they were initially designed or purchased for, due to such reasons as jewelry sizing or odd counts of symmetry.

In all honesty, some of the most interesting beads end up in that ‘odd bead’ stash. Personally I love the character that those odd beads show, and as a jeweler who can fix anything that doesn’t hold up to the durability test, I don’t mind taking those chances on myself.

In the shop however, is not the place to make those risks. Bead sorting is an essential component to extend your reputation as a reliable jeweler and shop owner. Like my previous post on the importance of testing your pieces, this is also an integrity as a designer and seller issue.

So who is Kokopelli anyways?- “flute player, mythical Hopi symbol of fertility,replenishment, music, dance, and mischief” Seems a pretty perfect totem for this gal, and along with those ‘interesting character filled odd beads’… an OOAK design fit to be worn 🙂

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Passing The Test: The Importance of Wearing New Designs

Protection/anti negativity earrings, using gemstones of black tourmaline, garnet, pyrite and black spinel, set in sterling silver, special order from
Protection/anti negativity earrings, using gemstones of black tourmaline, garnet, pyrite and black spinel, set in sterling silver, special order from

Rummaging through my gemstone beads, I came across some unexpected pebbled garnets that were mixed into a string of garnet chips. They were the size, shape and look of those special garnets that one might discover ‘in the wild’, in rivers, or ground. And so my inspiration was peaked. I snagged these six stones from my chips stock and began working on a new design.

Artist’s go through all sorts of processes once the inspiration spark is lit. Personally, when I am working with gemstones, cut, size, color, wearability, are all important factors, but often take secondary importance to gemstone significance. I want everything I make to have a reason, a purpose, a point to be. Because in my mind, if there is no point or purpose, well then I have no reason to make it.

So in this piece, I went with the protective, grounding energies of garnet, and matched the rest of the stones based on that purpose. The final design I came up with used: 1 black tourmaline at the base, followed by three garnet pebbles, sparkly yet extremely fragile stabilized pyrite and finished with three faceted black spinel stones, per earring post. The choice of stones gave me a fairly long and heavy earring, which is not really what I like to show in something that will be hanging from my dainty ears. I knew i might have to make some modifications with this one from my initial ideal version. because let’s face it, sometimes the greatness of our plans does not align with the practicality of our result, which is being able to wear a fabulous comfortable piece of jewelry.

With the gem design being pretty important, I knew I wanted to keep all or most of the design initially planned.  Some modifications that I took in account to keep the weight down , I used a very thin gauge solid sterling silver head pin for the gems to be on. By using a lighter metal, I was not going to get the durability, but because of the weight of the stones, this helped to keep the stones strait and in place. What I mean by durability here, is that sometimes a thinner gauge wire will bend out of shape easily. Since I wanted a nice strait piece, the weight of the stones compensated for what would usually be a deal breaker in design.

Because of the thinner gauge of the choice of headpin, I also lost a bit of length capabilities and had to take out one of the stones. Originally I had planned on two black tourmaline stones for the bottom. not only was this impractical from the view of gauge capabilities, but it didn’t look right when put together. Sometimes a design will look better on the board than it does on the wire (or thread). Another great reason to test before settling.

Keeping in mind the weight of the stones, in my first version I used a heavier gauge ear wire. Notice I said first version, I’ll get back to that in a bit. But here is why I initially chose a heavier gauge earwire, logically to support a heavy material, you would assume using a heavier metal support would be ideal. This is where wear testing a piece is essential. because that perfectly created visual first version which looked spectacular, did not wear that way. If I never had the piece wear tested (by yourself or a trusted friend), I wouldn’t have realized they were uncomfortable and unwearable design.

Wear testing new designs is a great way to work out the ‘bugs’ or problems in a piece before they get associated with your name and reputation as an artist. After wear testing you might find that a piece is too heavy to be worn comfortably, as in this case.

Some other issues wear testing helps us jewelers avoid: too clunky, does not move well, moves to much, snags on something, has a sharp spot, needs more filing, stone not set properly, too small, colors not as imagined, balance is off on a necklace, does not lay right, clasp not workable, ring is too thick, stone used too large or small, etc. Basically all those little ‘details’ that you personally notice when you buy and wear jewelry, others will notice while wearing your jewelry and judge you and your jewelry on.

Be a professional in your workmanship. Whether jewelry design is your hobby, profession or solely artistry, it is always best to test your jewelry designs before selling or giving away as gifts.

So getting back to my story, what did I do in version 2 of the design to make it a success? I changed the ear wire gauge to a lighter gauge. Sometimes reality defies logic. In actuality the lighter gauge in metals matching was more important than the bulkiness of the stones matching the bulkiness of the metal gauge.

Wear testing also helps us more efficiently make our creations. What was a problem in the past, becomes easily avoidable in the future.

I hope this has inspired you to get out there, create, don’t be afraid to get messy and fail, then fix your mistakes. 🙂

Support a Vegan Artist, visit my handmade jewelry webstore at :

Christmas Jewelry Rocks! Giving the Gift of Handmade, Goodness In The Cosmos Jewelry

IMG_8177 seed beaded Christmas earrings, gifts. Wreaths and Snowflakes in Sterling Silver

What’s better than an ugly Christmas Sweater? Classy and elegant Christmas Jewelry that’s what! Shown above some seed beaded glass earrings I’ve finished up. This week is special gift making time. Seed beading is such a precious gift. Tiny colors of glass all woven together with bits of thread, and this is what you get! Handmade Earrings,with lots of time, energy, intention and love becomes art on your ears. Seed beading is the best jewelry gift I can give to anyone, truly. A very meticulous art of love. And with earrings, you get all that goodness twice.

Show some winter love by gifting to others. It feels good to give handmade, and hopefully to receive that love too 😉

Beaded Christmas Ornaments, Vintage Style: 3 Simple Tips On Beading a Perfect Stiff Ornament. Hand Beaded Christmas Ornament with Vintage Beads Hand Beaded Christmas Ornament with Vintage Beads

I feel very fortunate to have been passed on Great Grandma’s beads to create with. Even though Gma didn’t invest in quality, she invested in quantity which has come in handy over the years

Gma’s beads are pulled out every Christmas and Advent season. Due to the quantity there is plenty to share. Family and friends, Scout troups and students alike, all enjoy gathering around to create with the large assortment of vintage beads.

I use Gma’s vintage stash of beads to try out hand beading designs and practice innovative and new techniques.  Pictured above is my most recent hand made beaded ornament. Because I wanted a stiffer quality ornament, instead of using the materials which are many beader’s best friend, the very practical needle and thread, this project was made by hand without a needle using clear monofilament (Beadalon).

One advantage of using monofilament cord, besides the obvious advantage of the stiffness, is that a beader only has to go through each row once and can knot in the same row to achieve the desired stabilization that many passes with the N&T achieves. This saves both time and materials.

Even with these advantages, difficulty with the needle free beading technique is not unheard of.  At times the filament could come out at the wrong place or fall within the piece. All you need are a couple extra tools to help.

Tools to Have on Hand

1. A blunt plastic yarn embroidery/sewing needle– Use this to press beads down that you are skipping in the pattern. By pressing the skipped beads down with the needle, this technique will help the filament come through and out of the intended correct bead.

2. Bent nose pliers– This is great for easy grabbing of the filament cord as well as a knotting assistant. My personal favorite are the professional micro-variety bent nose plier with smooth ends.

With these helpful hints and tips you should be good to go 🙂 Victoria

Post a picture of your creations in the comment section, I’d love to see how they turn out. A view form the side of this vintage beaded 3-d Christmas ornament. A view form the side of this vintage beaded 3-d Christmas ornament.

Support a Vegan Artist, Please visit my handmade jewelry webstore

Express Your Creativity, Enhanced Living Through Art Chandelier Earrings, Apatite, Moonstone, Fluorite Sodalite, Sterling Silver Earwire, Custom Order Chandelier Earrings, Apatite, Moonstone, Fluorite Sodalite, Sterling Silver Earwire, Custom Order

I just finished this intricate pair of chandelier earrings. Although quite lovely, it is not a style I usually have time to work with. All that twisting, measuring, shaping, gemstone color,size, and energy property matching, then wrapping, pinching, and weaving the wire…it’s tedious and time consuming labor!

But taking time to be attentive to those unusual extra details, really pausing in the stillness of the moment while creating, is liberating in so many ways. Our lives are enhanced. The creation of art changes us and circles us around to another new awareness.

Whether it is a drawing, sculpture, jewelry making, or even food preparation, gardening or our day to day chores, being in the moment of creation gives us space to become the most beautiful we can be. And what a fantastic moment to capture, potential actualized through art.

When things are too hectic and busy for us to feel like ourselves, take time out of the ordinary routine. Do something hard and tedious in the name of art. It’ll bring the mind’s attention back to the moment, and enhance our lives in ways unforeseen.

Support a Vegan Artist, Visit my handmade jewelry webstore:


Everything appears nicer with a better picture

Treasure! Gemstone finds via Lake Huron

Gemstones rocks, and fossils found on the shores of Lake Huron
Gemstones rocks, and fossils found on the shores of Lake Huron

I had the great fortune and permission to rock hunt on a private beach of the shores of Lake Huron during a vacation of much needed ‘spiritual renewal’. For me this was an experience in treasure hunting. Imagine my delight to see quartz, moonstone (feldspar), jasper, chert, petoskey, various fossilized corals, agate, micah, muscovite, unakite, (I could go on and on) all laying about on the shores.

The first time I saw the beach it had just rained and I followed the rainbow to the lakeside, and there my pot of gold lie, an entire shoreline of perfectly polished shimmering stones. You see the wetness of the storm revealed what the stones could look like in their polished beauty. Without storm and rain, this ‘treasure’ would have been disguised. It would have appeared as washed out beach stone, to be passed by and ignored. But in radiant light, shinning through sunset and double rainbow, the perfected beauty in wetness was revealed.

I’m so glad I could take time out to gather, collect, and contemplate through this experience. The ritual of gathering helped me reflect, and meditate.  It helped me think of all the ‘ordinary’ beauty and goodness in my everyday life that I could be passing by and ignoring. In light of every color, hearing sounds of gentle waves, I physically bent over to pick up stones, while my body reached a meditative awareness, a prayer state of consciousness. Each gem discovered sparked another affirmation of goodness revealed.

Ritual is one way to transcend the regular and reach a cognizant level of appreciation and awareness. What rituals can you incorporate into your daily life to help you find the ‘treasure’ that might otherwise be overlooked? Are you too tired and stuck in the trials of storm to transition to the new awareness avaiable after life’s storms, an after which may lead to following rainbows, rest, and a new perspective?

Gemstones rocks, and fossils found on the shores of Lake Huron
Gemstones rocks, and fossils found on the shores of Lake Huron

On another level, this is my favorite way to acquire gems and supplies for my art of jewelry making. I feel that the loving meditative energy I held while collecting my materials is reflected in my art, design and work. I hope my patrons can feel that when they wear my creations.

Thanks for reading my blog. Support a vegan artist, visit my webstore for handmade gemstone jewelry:

How to Harvest Basil, over and over again, The best way to cut basil

So you took the ‘basil’ challenge from last week and planted basil in your garden, and now you need to know how to cut and harvest it.

Basil is one of those plants that loves to be cut. Wherever you cut the basil, it will bush up, branch out and make more basil. Us gardener types love this kind of plant. It’s like the gift that keeps on giving.

Basil should usually be cut before it flowers, well how do you know where a flower is fixing to sprout out? Observe picture:

Basil, just about to flower
Basil, just about to flower

See the top of the basil where the leaves get tinier and tinier, that is where the flower is trying to form. 

Now you have a couple of options.

Option 1. Nip it in the bud.  If you do not have time or need for great quantities of basil at this moment, go ahead and pinch that bud off to the next set lower, of 4 large leaves. This will keep the basil from flowering

Option 2. Harvest time: This is how to harvest basil and plan for future harvests by making a healthy plant. Identify one of the lowest set of healthy leaves on the basil plant, Find that spot and pinch off the stem of the plant just above those leaves

Harvesting Basil
Harvesting Basil

Here is the spot on this particular branch.

Now see what it looks like: (yes I’m pointing to the spot with one of the just pinched off leaves)

Right after harvesting basil
Right after harvesting basil

SEE, There are tiny leaves that will form a whole new portion of basil plant. You did the plant a favor by taking such good care to cut or pinch it off at that spot!

After a while this is what will happen:

Basil re-growing from harvested spot
Basil re-growing from harvested spot

The basil plant will grow new ‘tops’  on the side shoots.

It may even sprout a new shot right from the cut spot in the middle:

New basil growing from the harvested 'cut' spot
New basil growing from the harvested ‘cut’ spot


Finally, you have  a well groomed hedge of basil ready to give you an excellent harvest all summer long 🙂

I hope you like my basil post.  Please visit my other ‘art’ at my handmade jewelry webstore. I hope you love that too 🙂

Perfectly trimmed basil
Perfectly trimmed basil

BASIL, a must plant in the garden

Even if you do not care for the taste or smell of basil (Yes there are plenty of us who don’t) it is one of the essential herbs to plant in the garden.

Basil flowers attract all sort of beneficial insects to the garden.
The odoriferous smell keeps critters away and masks the smell of even tomato pollen.

Another great thing about basil is that there are many varieties to choose from. Basil comes in many shapes, sizes and colors. Some have very strong pungent taste and aroma, and others, like holy basil, smell like sweet honey nectar flowers.

Experiment with planting basil in borders and rows of vegetable gardens. See the difference basil makes in the garden for your self.

Thanks for reading my blog, keep in touch and Visit my handmade jewelry webstore:

Many varieties of basil. Basil Genovese, Basil violetto, Lime basil, Cinnamon basil, Thai basil, Greek Yevani Basil
Many varieties of basil. Basil Genovese, Basil violetto, Lime basil, Cinnamon basil, Thai basil, Greek Yevani Basil

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