Lapis Lazuli

Did you know that I keep a list of interesting places based on gemstones? That’s not really surprising, is it? Well, one of these spots is the Water Wave Life Fountain on display in Vienna, Austria. It’s a massive structure carved out of 18.3 tons of Lapis Lazuli from Chile.

The Water Wave Life Fountain. photo by Ted McGrath
Water Wave Life Fountain photo by Ted McGrath

I probably won’t be visiting that spot any time soon (I’d rather check out the original source in Chile anyway), but when I spied a strand of hand-carved Lapis Lazuli oblongs I was immediately reminded of the fountain so I snatched them up. And then I sat on them for about a year. Well, didn’t actually sit on them… I just kept not making jewelry out of them. I did try to make one pendant, but it wasn’t until this month that I felt my skills and designs could do them justice. Because my eight lovely pieces of Lapis were carved to show off the Pyrite and White Calcite in them, each piece is different yet equally beautiful. Energetically, the combination is magical!

Lapis Lazuli necklace with Rainbow Moonstones
ACJ Lapis Lazuli and Rainbow Moonstone necklace

Lapis Lazuli  

Know yourself and stand in your power.

Lapis Lazuli resides in the deeper blues of Serenity blue. It vibrates most frequently at the third eye and throat chakra centers. Lapis Lazuli aids us in our ability to expand our self-awareness. It is a good stone for us to use during meditation where we can achieve a clearer perspective of our abilities as well as our limitations. In this sense, the Serenity comes from tapping into Lapis Lazuli’s assistance with our self-knowledge and self-reflection. Lapis is sometimes accompanied by Pyrite and/or Calcite and both of these gemstone’s energies add highly desirable dimensions to how this gemstone can be called to action.

Lapis Lazuli that contains golden flecks of Pyrite is considered to be the finest grade of the gem. Lapis Lazuli with Pyrite inclusions assists us in putting our expanding self-awareness into action. Pyrite’s vibration is considered masculine energetically. What’s significant about this is that it allows women and those more aligned with feminine energy to tap into a different way of accessing manifestation, willpower, and creativity that we might not normally consider.

ACJ Lapis Lazuli and Labradorite pendant
ACJ Lapis Lazuli and Labradorite pendant

Calcite is an amplifying mineral: it takes the energy of the gemstones or people around it and expands it. Calcite also has the ability to help clear negative energy rather than amplify it, which opens up the way for more positive energy to flow. Lapis Lazuli with white Calcite inclusions is an excellent stone to enlist when dealing with the negative push-back. Calcite can help us to not just refrain from feeding into the negativity but to draw strength and determination from it.

Lapis Lazuli is definitely one gemstone we can all benefit from having in our jewelry collection for its beauty as well as its energetic properties. Think of it this way: If knowledge is power, then self-awareness = knowledge = power.I’ve added these pieces and a few more to my Into The Blue series. I redesigned the pendant with Labradorite to allow more of the Lapis to show. Check them out here.

ACJ, UpcyclePost And A New Marketplace

A few weeks ago, UpcyclePost asked me if I would join the team to beta test their new Marketplace. Let’s see… help a movement that I adore succeed in creating a groundbreaking  platform for artists such as myself to promote and sell their creative works? Uh… yeah!!

UpcyclePost logo

What is upcycling? You’ve heard the phrase “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure”, right? Recycling is an example of that – taking someone’s discarded item and reusing it. Upcycling goes a bit further by taking the best of recycling and adding the creativity of Do-It-Yourself-ing. Upcycling is a vehicle to view and use discarded items in ways that often add more value to the item than it had in its original form. Upcyclers are more likely to say “Trash? What trash? How could you possibly think this is trash? Don’t you see the new shirt/ring/shoes/table/lamp etc. that’s just waiting to be made out of this? It’s beautiful. Here, let me show you…” And they proceed to create the most amazing treasures.

I have always recycled scraps of wire to make elements, and I started purchasing reclaimed wire years ago when a local refinery offered it to jewelry artists.  I also recycle/rescue from vintage and broken jewelry. My first experience with upcycling occurred before I even knew it had a name. My husband was fixing his car and had to

My first upcycled pendant
My first upcycled pendant

replace a ball bearing ring. He cleaned up the old one and challenged me to make something out of it. I made a kinetic meditation pendant with an onyx accent. I wore it until a woman stopped me in a grocery store to ask me about it. Before I finished my shopping list, she approached me again and asked me if she could buy it from me. Cool!

Since then, I’ve kept a small stash of “someday I’m gonna make something out of this” items including a crashed motherboard, coins,

check out my page in the UpcyclePost Marketplace!
check out my page in the UpcyclePost Marketplace!

laundry tokens, and orphan flatware. No, I’m not a hoarder (beads don’t count) and now I have a way to make good on my word. My shop in the UpcyclePost Marketplace is already filling up with the “someday” projects that I’ve completed.

When I had to get a tire repaired, I spent most of my waiting room time drooling over the mechanic’s impressive collection of road detritus that brought customers to him –

Roadside detritus is some  upcycler's dream medium. Note the assortment of nails to the left...yikes!
Roadside detritus is some upcycler’s dream medium. Note the assortment of nails to the left…yikes!

nails, bolts, chunks of glass, antlers. I could see bracelets and earrings and necklaces in just about everything on his shelf, and asked him if he would be willing to part with a few items. He gave me that ‘lady, you’re scaring me’ look but declined to part with his precious.

I am proud to be a member of this movement, and I’m always on the lookout for my next creative challenge. And so it goes with most upcyclers: the products we create range from functional to decorative to wearable. Some of my favorite upcyclers are furniture makers and lighting artists. The craftspersonship and creativity of the artists in the UpcyclePost Marketplace is amazing. I hope you check out the site, shop and join the movement.

Jewelry Talk: Custom Jewelry and the Joy in Co-creating

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“Done right, custom jewelry creation is a fun process that ends with a beautiful treasure that you cherish. That’s what I want for you.”

Who wrote that? I did. I was in an email dialog with a client as we started the process of creating her custom piece. Over the years, she had purchased several pieces from my website or at my former shop. This time she wanted something that was uniquely hers, to mark a special occasion. I love creating jewelry that becomes a treasure, and I am especially honored when someone enlists me to create one for them.

We chatted about the colors that she liked to wear, and I told her about all the different gems that coincided with those colors. That lead to a discussion about the energies associated with gemstones. When I made jewelry for my shop, I used to include a little info card describing the gemstone’s lore or attributed energies. My client said she frequently got compliments on those earrings, and she enjoyed telling people about the stones. I include gemstone energy info with to my ACJ pieces too.

When we finished our email chat, I sent her a rough drawing of the piece, along with pictures of the stones we talked about.

amycousinjewelry custom design ideas
gemstone and color ideas for a custom piece

I checked in with my client throughout the creation process, sending pictures of my progress on her treasure.

amycousinjewelry custom jewelry design
creating a gemstone pattern for a custom piece

By the time her treasure was ready to ship, she had ordered a pair of earrings for her best friend as well.

This is the process I will use to create your custom jewelry. There is still time to get a treasure for yourself or for someone special made for the holidays.
Contact me at info@amycousinjewelry.com and let’s start creating!

My Dream Studio vs Reality

In the spirit of sharing more about myself and my process, I have been posting on Instagram. A friend commended me for my effort, saying she was sure customers would like to see “where the magic happens”. I smiled. The magic… what a nice thing to say. So here is a glimpse into my studio, sort of…

To say I have an actual studio, is to stretch the meaning of the word. What I have designated as my “studio” has gone through many changes over the years. When I ran our brick & mortar shop*, I still wanted to make jewelry at home, so I purchased a deluxe Stanley tool box (aka Portable Studio) and lugged it to work every day.ACJ portable studio1  ACJ portable studio3

It was great: sturdy, with enough room for my entire bead, wire and tool inventory, and it had wheels! Aaah, those were the days… But as time went on, my inventory outgrew my trusty old Stanley. I held on to it until the wheels broke off under the weight of my beads. Yes, that happened. That, and the kids began grumbling about child labor laws whenever I asked them to help me pick it up. When we closed the doors of our physical shop, hauling my mammoth portable studio ceased being an issue.

Working from home proved to have its pros and cons. I wandered around the house before finally commandeering the dining room table as my new studio. The plus was the natural light from our large windows. The minus was being so close to the kitchen that I appeared to be on constant chef duty. NO! Chez Ami is closed until further notice!

For the occasions when I had to be away from home base, I created my Waiting Room Studio.

ACJ_WaitingRoom_Studio

I recycled a large hummus container, and packed it with the essential tools and enough supplies to create two or three pieces. My waiting room studio also gave me a new way to connect with people who were interested in (my) jewelry. Having a few extra pairs of ear wires with me allowed me to sell the earrings I was wearing, without the ear wires I was wearing. When the kids and I were extras in a movie that was being filmed in our area, the costume designer saw me making a necklace during a break. She asked me if she could use some of my jewelry for the shoot. The scenes (and my jewelry) were cut, but it was nice to be asked.

Now, I have a space in which I create jewelry, manage the backend biz, and hang out on social media platforms to talk with you. I call it my Tiny Studio, because it is a shared space.

ACJ_TinyDesk_Studio2 ACJ_TinyDesk_Studio3

If you follow me on Pinterest (and I wish you would), you’ve probably noticed that one of my biggest boards is Dream Studio/Office. I frequently turn to Pinterest for gemstone and color inspiration. I call those lost hours research – that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. Invariably, someone who knows my studio porn weakness, pins a photo of an amazing space, and I add it to my collection. Sigh. It’s all there, in my Dream Studio/Office. See what I’ve been up to. Join me, if you dare. You’ve been warned.

While I have yet to achieve my dream studio, I have come to realize that for now, just being able to create, wherever and whenever is something to appreciate on its own. I love what I do, and that won’t ever change. As it turns out, the magic can happen anywhere.

*Time for a shameless plug: While our Sirius Mind and Body brick and mortar shop is no longer, we’re still open on our website. Come visit us! click here

From Design to Tutorial: creating gemstone tassel earrings

Recently, House of Gems asked me to create a tutorial. Talk about great timing! I’ve had this idea for tassel earrings in my head (and in my design journal) for a while, but always ended up putting it aside to make other pieces. Although I like silk tassel earrings, I adore gemstones. At first I thought the gemstones would make the design too heavy, but using simple wrapped loops allows them to be lighter and still deliver stunning.

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amycousinjewelry.com gemstone tassel earrings in carnelians and garnets

I knew my design would require a lot of beads, so I ordered a few strands of beautiful wholesale beads and got to creating. The beads that I used for example earrings are 4mm micro-faceted carnelian rondelles.

I hope you enjoy this tutorial. The techniques are easy, and assume you are familiar with making simple loops. Please let me know what you think!

Click here to go to my Gemstone Tassel Earring Tutorial