Monday, April 28, 2008


After being here in Kansas City for a little over a year, our family has decided to move back to the West Coast. I am very excited to get back to our little town, our church and friends as well as my family in nearby Vancouver, Canada. We have enjoyed our time here being closer to my husband's family and seeing all that Kansas has to offer but we find the West Coast calling us back!

This is one of my favorite pictures (make sure you click on it to get a full view). It was taken at the Mt. Erie lookout point - the highest elevated point on Fidalgo Island. Are you wondering where on earth is Fidalgo Island ? It is an island connected by bridge west of the Skagit Valley in the upper Northwest corner of Washington state. The island contains the city of Anacortes and is known as the "Gateway to the San Juans". On a clear day, (here's proof they do happen in Washington!) this spectacular view allows you to see Mt. Baker, the nearby Whidbey Island Naval Air Station and the islands that make up the San Juans.

When I opened my Etsy store, beadinbythesea, we were in the midst of trying to get back to the West Coast but still being here in Kansas I went ahead with the name. Now there will be no more confusion, I really will be Beadin By the Sea!

To find out more about this beautiful place you can click here for the Anacortes Chamber of Commerce.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


I took a class a couple of months ago at my local bead shop to learn about making fine silver jewelry pieces out of PMC (which stands for precious metal clay) and I must say I'm really enjoying learning more about this amazing medium. I love the creative process of shaping something out of clay, refining and sanding it to take out its imperfections, firing it, finishing and then making it into jewelry. It is quite a process and I thought I'd share a few of the steps. I'm sorry it's not totally complete, since I've missed out some of the steps, for example firing with a torch. It's a little challenging to hold a camera and use a butane torch with a 1600 degree flame at the same time but if I can talk my husband into taking a picture soon I'll add to this post or begin a whole new one!
In a nutshell, Precious Metal Clay is a substance originally developed in Japan in the 1990's. It is a clay made up of very fine silver particles, an organic binder and water. It can be shaped, rolled, or put in molds and then left to dry. The form is sanded and then fired with a torch or kiln to burn off the binders leaving you with a pure 99.9% silver piece that is a dense, strong metal.

This picture above shows a ball of clay in the plastic (so it doesn't dry out) and a link I rolled and cut into circles, then stamped with a swirl design.

The picture to the right shows the pieces after firing. They have been scrubbed with a brass brush to give it a satin finish and then burnished with an agate tip to have a very shiny reflective surface.If I had a tumbler this would be much easier but all in good time! I will have to wait for a few more sales in my shop for that one!
The next step is to give the pieces a "patina" or an aged look. This is done with "liver of sulphur" which is sulfurized potash. It's pretty smelly stuff but does a great job with the silver. It's a little sad to purposely tarnish the silver with all the effort we take to try and keep it looking shiny but it really does bring out the details in any design that is stamped on the surface.

Here are all the things I need to apply the patina in the picture above.

The silver pieces on the right have been "patinized"and are ready for the final polish.
And here is the finished product on the left. A pair of earrings that I listed in my Etsy shop recently! If you're interested in this or other fine silver jewelry click here.

I am by no means an expert or claim to be but I hope you enjoyed this simple explanation of PMC! There are many books on the subject and bead shops that are offering classes to get you started!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


This isn’t what I was going to write about today but after going to Super Target this morning I had to share my latest reusable grocery bag episode. I try to do my part to reuse and recycle so I bought these eco-friendly bags at the grocery store and have been using them for a couple of months now and I love them! I’m sure you’ve noticed them where you live. It always seems that when I shop at Target I get a not-so-nice greeting from the checker because I have these bags. So finally today, I got up the nerve to say “You guys really don’t like these reusable bags, do you?” And the gal said “Well they do kind of slow us down.” I have found that they welcome these bags at the grocery store and in fact give you a small refund for doing so. Don’t get me wrong, I love Target and spend loads of money there, I guess they just aren’t reusable bag friendly! My point here is to encourage you to use those reusable bags even if they slow the checker down! The benefits definitely outweigh the inconvenience! Here is some information I found on the web:
One bag is designed to:
- replace 2 paper bags or up to 4 plastic bags each time it is used.
- be used weekly for two years or more.
- replace up to 416 plastic bags over its entire lifetime.

That’s a lot of plastic we can replace just by using 1 “green bag” every time we shop. Imagine if we all do this with 4 or 6 bags for our entire grocery order. So in honor of Earth Day (sorry I’m a little late) say Reuse instead or Paper or Plastic! Oh, and, don’t forget to take them with you. They won’t do any good sitting in the back of your car! Hey, not that I haven’t done it!

Monday, April 21, 2008


Spring has finally sprung!
I took my own advice and took some time this weekend to look at what’s happening in the garden. I love these daffodils with the orange center and yellow petal. Simply stunning! When I lived on the west coast my favorite season was summer because the temperatures were pleasant and not too hot, but here in the Midwest it’s definitely Spring that gets me excited. Around March I get so tired of brown grass here because I'm used to Washington where the grass stays green year round (except people who don't water in the summer!) In fact here’s a picture showing our front lawn in the middle of March and now eveything is gloriously green and I mean bright green! Have a great day and enjoy all the Spring colors!

Saturday, April 19, 2008


I must say that having a cat brings me many memorable photographic moments! This morning our cat Ace was lying in a most unusual position and I had to grab my camera. Lately I've been so busy trying to get my new Etsy business started that I haven't taken much time to notice things around me. Sometimes I wish I could be more like Ace and just savor a moment to relax. With Spring here, I'm going to take more time to look around and see the beauty around me. Hopefully you'll think about Ace and do the same.
Click here to check out my new Etsy jewelry shop Beadinbythesea!