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November 17, 2013

Once again it has been far too long since this blog has been attended to.  If it were my garden, the soil would be littered with shrivel-y little yellow tomatoes and crunchy brown leaves, and the air thick with white flies.  At least there would most likely be one powerful swiss chard plant that no wild change of temperature fluctuations or neglect can kill.  If you can’t tell from the detail, that metaphor is based on recent experience.  Part of the reason its been 4 months with no updates is that I was back in Florence, Italy taking another intensive metalsmithing course at Li Arte Orafe jewelry academy.  So far I have taken 3 intensives with them; hand-engraving, granulation, and the stone setting intensive this past September.  I improved my technical abilities immensely, practicing old-world pave and bead-setting techniques all day, 5 days a week with an international group of THE MOST fun, creative gals I have ever binge-eaten gelato with.

Peggy Lisa and Margaret eating gelato at Piazza della Signoria, Florence, Italy.

Peggy Lisa and Margaret eating gelato at Piazza della Signoria, Florence, Italy.

Since returning, I’ve been applying my freshly honed stone setting skills with a number of custom projects, particularly engagement rings.  Bridal projects are always so exciting! I have never meet an indifferent couple who is just like “meh, these rings don’t matter that much…. just do like whatever.”  They are always really energetic and engaged (pun!) with the design process. Along side the engagement ring projects, I’m working on a whole bridal collection.  The intro pieces will be unveiled at the One of a Kind Show this coming December 5-8.  At One of a Kind I will be showing several experimental collections, nearly all truly one of a kind pieces. Rather than whipping out dozens of one design, I have been working on special mini collections entirely comprised of one of a kind pieces implementing my freshly-sharpened skills. (Work in progress.) In addition, I’ve created new versions of some old favorites, like the Adjustable Neuron Branch ring.  It was a best-seller until my mold broke, so thought I’d bring it back for the holiday as an affordable gift option. I am also offering my carnation pink silver anatomical heart at a special price, and will have my Original Anatomical Heart Locket and Anatomical Lung Locket on hand, along with some interesting one-of-a-kind anatomical compliments to those pieces.  Keep an eye on my Pinterest page for progress photos between now and the show!

Many of the one of a kind pieces and mini collections are instigated by a particularly compelling stone. I still have some incredible, multi-colored opals, fire agates and opalescent ammonite fossils that are inviting new designs.  Usually the super fiery stones seem to want to be set in tentacle designs. I love thinking of the special properties cephalopods have in their skin- the photophores that enable them to change color, pattern, fluorescence, etc.  When an iridescent stone comes my way, I immediately think TENTACLES!

3 Mexican fire opals, small black opal, green Ethiopian opal.

3 Mexican fire opals, small black opal, green Ethiopian opal.

So expect to see new offerings from my Tentacle, Anatomical, Snake and Fungi collections as well as some entirely new, textural, hand-forged and engraved work instigated by long walks in the Minnesota woods near my dad’s house.  Follow on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for occasional discounts and progress shots!

And one last thing!  I have a new, freshly soft-launched side project to funnel my non-jewelry designs and collaborative projects through, STELLA HOME, your source for an ever-changing selection of limited-edition, beautiful, durable, high quality furniture, sustainably produced from selectively harvested wood in Wisconsin.

Spalted Maple Humidor

Spalted Maple Lazy Susan


The furniture is designed and produced in collaboration with Wisconsin artisans, including my mom’s Amish neighbors.  I own a pair of young Amos’ pants from when he was 12, as evidenced in this silly photo. As you can see, Amish pants have no zippers because obviously zippers represent an evil-level of modern convenience. The pants are sturdy yet extremely unflattering.


John Henry and Amos’ sisters all think I’m ridiculous for wearing pants, and for some reason it was big news that day- like to the extent that word spread by horseback into the nearby town of LaCrosse, and after I had acquired the pants, someone in La Crosse (an hour away) had heard the rumor about my amish pants not 2 hours after I had gotten them, all without telephones.

Stella Home will not offer pants, but we will offer very well-made and beautiful essentials, like our Standing computer desk, which in addition to being an ergonomic miracle, folds completely flat for storage. My back was getting really sore between sitting at my bench and sitting at my desk all day, so we designed a taller desk that allows you to stand while you work at the computer.

Folding computer desk

It also doubles as great extra counter space in the kitchen when we need it!  There is a standard and a double-wide version, and both fold flat for storage.  We are also thinking of making a TV tray style that is shorter.  In addition, we have gorgeous wooden and stained glass boxes and humidors, each one of a kind, and some lovely, useful lazy susan turntables for gaming and convenience at meal time. The wood we have chosen is so beautiful, some very painterly and other pieces look like iridescent stone. All of our new offerings from Stella Home will be available in a corner of my One of a Kind booth and are already up on Etsy just in time for the holidays. Please Follow on Facebook to see what’s around the corner.  In the spring we will be introducing a little-known kitchen essential from central Italy called a Madia, lovely mobiles made by yours truly, and some contemporary barn wood shelving and frames. Think of Stella as your affordable, sustainable, stylish and durable Ikea alternative.  I wanted furniture that was made by happy workers, out of non-poisonous materials that will LAST, and am relatively certain other people want that too… and Stella Home was born.

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