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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas

Hello, I just thought I'd check in and share my newest piece. It sold pretty quickly. It's a blue agate slice, wrapped with reclaimed copper. I'm particularly pleased with the matching clasp.

I feel bad, I was planning to do a little repair work for Christmas  but every time I'd sit down to do it I'd get distracted and make something new.  I guess that's a good problem to have. Merry Christmas everyone, and a Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Believing in the Weaving

I love this necklace and it's going to be very hard to part with.
Lots of work and attention to detail went into this one, And pictures simply do not do justice.

It seems like I'm not getting to the bench as often as I'd like, with a five month old baby and a rambunctious little boy who keeps me on my toes.

Rhodochrosite and Reclaimed Copper Wire pendant on Raw Copper chain. This pendant has a Czech glass bead accent.
Hand woven wire work and forged copper clasps. Tumbled finished for 16 hours for ultimate strength, durability and smoothness.
2" x 2", 17.5" long from end to end
Comes in gift ready box with anti-tarnish paper and Eurotool polishing square.
"Pink Rhodochrosite is a strong stone to aid emotional healing. It encourages you to feel love for yourself... and its energy will assist you in meditation, to reach a state of joy and sublime happiness.
It's energy may stimulate your inner child... and bring a deep childlike happiness and joy into your life. It aids you to bring deep forgotten memories to the surface for healing.
Copper is reclaimed from construction projects, stripped, cleaned, and remade into this intricate wire jewelry. Copper is antimicrobial and is touted for it's healing properties. It may cause harmless discoloration of the skin when worn by certain individuals. This is temporary and usually only happens when the wearer has been sweating. I do not accept returns based on this. Copper also is prone to tarnish, but is easily restored to it's original condition with a few rubs of the polishing square which comes free with purchase. Additional squares can be purchased for 1.50.
89.00 postage paid

If you're interested in purchasing this necklace please email me at

I accept PayPal, Dwolla

Now, moving on... and speaking of that beautiful little five month old baby, I have entered her in a contest for "Cutest BABY!"  If you have a moment please follow the link to the Cutest Baby Contest and vote for Miss Isla Faye.  She is as sweet as she looks. Thank you.
Click on her picture to vote:

Vote for Me, I love life!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Get into the Groove

It's been awhile, huh? I've been busy with my new baby daughter, Isla Faye, along with navigating the new school experience with my Kindergartener. It's hard to make time to create, and I apologize that I have been so non-existent here.  I created another person, so I feel I get a pass.
Finally, the muse called, but not without a small re-adjustment period.

I made my first Tree of Life. I was not pleased with the result. This is an established design, mostly done in the same style, and there is actually a process that works really well. There are a hundred different tutorials on how to make this piece. I'm stubborn though and was determined to figure it out on my own. I wanted to make something with a nice, thick trunk. I wanted mine to be different. I failed in my attempt. Ugh. But, I *might* have sold it. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and if it makes someone happy and they love it, I can't complain too much. I'll call it practice.

The next piece turned out a lot better. I have a beautiful Lapis donut sitting on my bench for a while. I started working on it yesterday, and from start to finish everything flowed really well. 

I love this piece. I haven't completed the endcaps and clasp yet, but I'm hoping I can get those parts done this weekend. (It's Friday.)

Hopefully it won't take me five months to make my next piece. Even with a baby in the house it's important for me to take time to work on my own endeavors. She's still sleeping through the night, but she's also awake a lot during the day. I went without nursing for FOUR HOURS yesterday because my face was buried in the wire. I'm sure as she gets older things will improve. They're only babies for a short time. I intend to enjoy her as much as possible while I can.

UPDATE:  The piece is sold, I made the endcaps and the clasp, and it's all ready to go. I wish I could make and sell a piece of jewelry every day. Man... that would be the life, wouldn't it?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Introducing Isla Faye

Isla Faye Hoffman
Born June 16, 2014 at 12:28 PM7 lbs 4 oz, 20.25" long

One Week Old

I haven't been doing much jewelry making, I've been busy with other stuff.

Daddy Loves his Daughter
Beaming with LOVE!
One Day Old
Born wide eyed and alert
Isla Faye was born on Monday, June 16th, one day after Father's Day and one day before my husband's birthday. I don't know what could possibly top this present.

It was about 11:30 PM on Sunday night, June 15th that I was having trouble falling asleep.  I was having a flare of heartburn, I was tossing and turning, and I couldn't get comfortable.  For the past couple of weeks I had been having a lot of false labor contractions, some of which were coming at regular intervals. I was constantly on edge, thinking that I was starting labor. I even had gone to the hospital a few days previous because I was having regular contractions that were increasingly stronger. So, when the real thing started I thought it was anything but the real thing.  I kept feeling like I had to go to the bathroom, but nothing was happening.  At about 5:00 AM it finally dawned on me that I could be going into labor.  I got up, got online, and that's when I got my first light contraction followed a few minutes later by another, and then a few minutes later by another. I woke up my husband and called the midwife.
  At 7:00 AM we got to the hospital where it was confirmed that I was in the throes of labor.  The contractions were gaining strength and were coming quickly.  We were admitted into a room where I labored for about five hours before I was dilated and ready to push. But, Isla had different plans. She was reluctant to make her entrance. She hadn't descended into the birth canal, and her heart rate was rapidly falling.  The midwife and nursing staff had me turn over into different positions to try to arouse a response from her, but nothing seemed to be working.  They told me that they were going to call in a doctor for a cesarean if I couldn't move the baby down. The last thing I wanted was to be cut open.
  With the first contraction after that the midwife told me to push as hard as I could to try to move her down.  And, with the second contraction I pushed again and she crowned, but she also had her first BM inside of me, which is called meconium. It is very dangerous for a baby to have their first BM this way. The neonatal intensive care nurses were standing by with gloves on, ready to whisk her away. They told me they might have to take her before I could hold her.  The doctor was also standing by.  With the third contraction I pushed with all of my might, and she made her entrance into the world, pink, wiggly, and crying.  The NICU staffed stepped back, and the midwife placed the baby on my chest where she settled down nicely. And, in spite of the meconium and the low heart rate her one minute apgar score was a 9. Incredible.
  Isla was wide eyed and alert shortly after being born. She actually stayed awake for quite a while, taking it all in.  The nurse said she had never seen such a gorgeous baby.  And, I believe her.

My Children

So far Isla has been a really good baby.  She's exclusively breastfed and gaining weight. Since her second day home she has slept through the night (I'm writing this as she is three weeks old) and I have to wake her to nurse. She nurses and goes right back to sleep without a problem. She cries a lot during the day right now, but at least she doesn't cry at night.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Waiting for Her Arrival...

As I write this blog I sit through uncomfortable contractions, coming every 3-5 minutes. I was sent home from the hospital last night, I'm not making much progress in my labor, even though my contractions are nice and regular. I'm going to wait things out. (Yeow!!!) I finished a new piece a few days ago, and I thought I'd share.

This piece started off as inspiration from some incredible wire weaving I saw on one of the wire wrapping groups I belong to on Facebook. I showed my husband, and kiddingly (that's not a word) told him that I didn't make the piece.  He said "I can tell, it's slightly better than what you can do."  I agreed. I certainly recognize talent when it exceeds my own. And, that was motivation!

I ended up using the weave for the bail, which is what I usually end up doing. Originally I wanted to wrap it around a stone, but instead I poked the tail wires through a piece of thick gauge wire that I had chased down flat and drilled some holes into several weeks ago. I admit, I had no idea what I was doing, or where that decision was going to take me, but one thing led to another and it started to take a very interesting shape.  I had a very elaborate bail, but I couldn't figure out how make it work with a stone.
And, sitting on the bench, taunting me were some earrings that a customer had requested I'd make to match a necklace that she said she was interested in buying. That never came to fruition, but the dangles from the earrings seemed to be the perfect solution.

The lesson here is not to throw away those old, unfinished or unsold pieces or even pieces of pieces that were experiments gone wrong. Scraps can turn into to something really special, and it's just another way you can recycle.

On a side note, I have a really HARD TIME placing pictures on this blog.
If anyone knows of a better way than dragging them across the page and resizing them just so in hopes that they'll fit together PLEASE let me know in comments. Is there a Blogger editor?

Hopefully by this time tomorrow I'll be holding my beautiful baby girl.

Monday, May 12, 2014

I Still Love Wire Wrapping

Just because I've been dabbling in some metal work doesn't mean I don't still love wire wrapping.
This weekend, I finished this beauty:

The stone is called Blue Sky Jasper. The metal is raw copper.

It sold immediately. Yay!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Solder On...

 If you follow my blog/jewelry design journey you'll know that I have a really awful time with following instructions.  But, I really want to learn how to solder. Soldering will open up a whole lot of doors for me, and help me make things I wouldn't be able to make with cold connections.  I watched a few videos on YouTube, but I just can't figure things out until I can do them myself.  So, I headed to Iowa Jeweler's Supply, picked up some supplies, and got started.

The thing about soldering is that it's more like baking than cooking. Wire wrapping and cold connections, even some metal work is like cooking in that there's a lot of leeway for your own personal touches, and a lot of techniques work to achieve a delicious result.  A pinch of salt, a hint of garlic, add in some basil, or if you're out of basil oregano will do.  Don't like onions? No problem.  But, with soldering you have to follow the recipe or it just won't turn out.  And, I am terrible at baking.

I had a customer who wanted a ring for his girlfriend, so I decided to hone my soldering skills by working on that ring. And, I know I'm crazy to have started my first official soldering project with 3mm bezels.  Yes, that's right.  3mm bezels.

Here is what I came up with:

I really like the design of the ring. But, I have a lot to learn.
I winged it.  Sure, I watched videos, but I had no idea what the instructors were talking about.

 I was able to fit the flattened wire together to make a bezel, and I was able to successfully solder the bezels onto the shank of the ring. But, I wasn't able to keep the crystals inside of the bezel without a little help. I used a bit of steel reinforced epoxy to hold the stones in the bezel, which is a HUGE faux pas in jewelry design.

It may be a good idea for me to take a class... but I have a feeling that I'll get frustrated.  Perhaps a one on one session with a metal worker would be better for me?

Last week I made a Bold Swirl Ring for a customer, and I used a bit of copper solder to fuse together the wires that formed the shank. That made for a much more comfortable fit. So, it's not an entirely lost cause... not yet, anyway.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A New Toy!

You might have noticed that I've been incorporating some metalwork into my wire wrapping.  Now that I have started using a torch I can easily manipulate thicker pieces of metal, I can use a hammer to flatten those pieces of metal and give different dimensions to my work.  And, now I have a new tool, a nifty little pair of pliers that punches a hole in the metal. So far, I've only made rings, but I just love how they've turned out.

So far I've made four of these rings.

If you're interested in purchasing a ring like this the copper is 28.00, the silver is 38.00.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Leah's Chicken Salad

I'm posting a recipe on my jewelry blog because I wanted to share it with my readers. I love to cook!  If this goes over well I may post other recipes in the future.  Let me know if this is something you'd be interested in seeing.

Leah's Chicken Salad

1 whole rotisserie chicken, meat pulled from the bones and chopped coarsely (you can eat the wings and maybe a leg if you're hungry)
1 to 1½ cups mayonnaise (not "Miracle" Whip)
½ cup sour cream
1 small apple, coarsely chopped
5 stalks of celery, chopped into small pieces
1 small to medium red onion, chopped
¼ cup "Craisins" (add in a little more, they're yummy)
¼ cup chopped nuts, like pecans, sliced almonds or walnuts (not peanuts, eww)
2 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon tarragon
a dash of seasoned salt
a dash of pepper

First mix chopped veggies, fruits and nuts in a big container.  Then add chicken, lemon juice, mayonnaise, sour cream and spices.
Stir well.
Let sit in the fridge at least 4 hours (overnight is better)
Serve on croissants or on hearty multi-grain bread.  Makes enough for at least three days lunch for each of you, and possible some between meal snacking.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Taking Off the Veil: Revealing the Magician's Secrets

Okay, maybe the title of this blog entry is a bit melodramatic, but I thought it fit what I'm about to do. I decided to reveal some of my tricks.

I think I take pretty good pictures of my jewelry. One of my biggest pet peeves, one thing that I actually see a lot in the jewelry designing community are blurry pictures. You can't tell what's going on in them. Some pictures are so dark and fuzzy that I'm not even sure it IS jewelry. I take pride in the fact that in my photos you can see all of the detail of my pieces, right down to the tool marks and imperfections that I'd rather you not notice.  What really bothers me is that sometimes these blurry, poorly lit pictures get more sales and "likes" on Facebook than I ever get, but that's a whole other topic.

My pictures are taken with my Galaxy SIII smart phone. I use the "Macro" mode, and I never use the flash. I use GIMP (a free, downloadable program) to edit my photos. I also take most of my pictures outside, sometimes in the strangest places. A mossy stump is perfect for showcasing a piece of jewelry.  A rusty part of the back step makes a great backdrop.  I use a lot of the landscaping around the house in nice weather, and a cloudy day in the middle of the afternoon is perfect to get the filtered light I need to capture a striking image.   However, the winter can be a bit more challenging.  I've taken pictures on window sills, I've just braved the cold and taken pictures after clearing away snow from a concrete slab or a part of the driveway, or I've taken pictures in doorways.

You have to have an open mind.

The bracelet you see is a new one that I finished, but this one is not for sale. It's mine. I've been wearing one of my copper Viking Knit bracelets everyday for the past ten months or so, and I thought it was time for an upgrade. I still wear the copper one, but now she has a friend.

Sterling Silver Viking Knit Bracelet with Reclaimed Copper End Caps
Can you guess where I took this picture?

If you answered the threshold of the backdoor, you are correct!

  I also used my torch to make a cool ball on the end of my hook clasp. I haven't melted silver since high school, and I was very surprised at how low its melting point is as opposed to copper.

 I got a new torch. I haven't used it yet, but it was quite an investment. It's a Blazer GB2001 Self Igniting Micro Torch!  I'm really excited to start using it, but I have to wait until the butane in my $9.00 Harbor Freight torch runs out first.  I'll let you know how it goes. Stay tuned!

I'd also like to share another Viking Knit bracelet I made, this time for a man whom I've known since Junior High. I went to school with him. He wasn't too nice to me in school, but he's made up for it. He's a great guy, and he actually happens to be one of my biggest fans/customers.
The last bracelet I made him out of leather and wood, but his dog ate it!  So, he asked me to make a new one. This one is done in copper (which I hope is dog proof?)  He wanted me to incorporate a rune, it symbolizes "heritage."  I put it in the clasp.

I really hope he likes it.  I tried to make it as "manly" as possible.  I love making men's jewelry. It's such a challenge.

I've been doing a lot of metal work in the past few months.  All of the metal from this bracelet started off as round copper electrical wire.  The flat pieces are hammered flat.

And, finally for my "dirty" secret. 

It's what my materials look like when I get them. I don't buy nice, prefab wire from the craft store. My wire comes dirty, grungy, tangled, usually presented to me by my contractor father in law in an old paint bucket.
I strip it, clean it, check the gauge, or I just cut it off the roll as I need it.  It's messy, but I can truly say that my jewelry IS most definitely made from reclaimed, recycled sources.

I hope you enjoyed get the inside info.  If you did, write me a comment and let me know!  And, while you're at it, give me a "like" on Facebook.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Stormy: A Dyed Agate Stone Landscape wrapped in Reclaimed Copper

Yesterday was one of those rare days where everything went  without a hitch. We met friends who were visiting in town at their hotel, the kids swam, and after that we went out to The Ye Olde Spaghetti Factory for an Italian lunch.  My five year old son, who tends to be a bit extremely picky ate every bite on his plate, as well as some of ours.  He and my friends daughters got along so well that he even got a hug from the 8 year old.  When we got home my husband and my son went into our bedroom to rest. I retreated into the basement, and I got to work.

I got this beautiful dyed agate at the gem show in Des Moines last year.  It was my favorite stone, even though it isn't exactly natural.  It's been sitting on my bench for quite a while, and I finally got the inspiration to do something with it.  I wasn't sure that such a detailed wrap was right for such a highly saturated stone.  I'm still not entirely sure.

Because the stone reminded me of a picture of a stormy sky I purposely sanded down a jagged piece of wire going down to signify a lightening bolt. I hope my vision doesn't look more like the mistake of an inexperienced wire artist.  That's one thing I'm worried about in this piece.  So far though, the response on Facebook has been very positive.

I'm happy with it. I'm happy whenever I get the chance to escape the day to day monotony and mom-challenges and do something creative.  Here is the necklace:

If you're interested, please visit my photo album on Facebook for more details, price and specifications.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Weekend Blitz SALE! (March 8th and 9th)

Click on the picture to go to the clearance gallery
I'm having a BIG SALE!  Head over to my Facebook fan page, and check out the inventory on clearance. I want to make room for new jewelry.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

We are our Own Worst Critics

My newest pendant
 A few months ago I completed a project for my friend Kristy at Veggie Beauty.  (Visit Pumpkin & Poppy Cosmetics for earth friendly, cruelty free vegan cosmetics)  It was a promotional piece for her Game of Thrones inspired collection (available HERE!)

Skip ahead to last week when my friend discovered the picture on my Facebook fan page and shared it on her timeline.  Her fiance took notice, and sent me a private message, asking if I could make the same necklace for her.  The truth is that each of my pieces is unique, and other than my Bold Swirl Ring I cannot replicate a piece. But, I told him that her necklace would be inspired by the original piece.

Let me tell you, it wasn't easy.  I had a gorgeous labradorite stone that I've tried to wrap before and caused me nothing but frustration. The difference is that this is a stone and not a cabochon. A cabochon is flat on the back. This was definitely not flat on the back, so the pendant wouldn't lay flat, and I had to figure out how to position the bail so that the pendant wouldn't turn sideways while being worn. I was happy with the decoration around the bail though, but I made the mistake of asking some opinions of some fellow artists who are in an online group where I post.  Everyone was very positive about the piece. One person did make a suggestion to make some changes, and it happened to be a very renowned artist who writes books and teaches courses.
Game of Thrones Collection from Pumpkin & Poppy
LOOK at how the colors perfectly match the necklace!
  Suddenly, I panicked. I started rearranging things. And, the truth is that I should have left well enough alone; Instead, I overworked the wire.  You may not see the flaws, but I do, and I can't help but beat myself up over what I see.  You see, I'm such a perfectionist and I set a very high standard for myself.
  I don't think the revised version is as good as the original version of the pendant. But, I'm glad to report that the customer's fiancee loved the necklace, which was an incredible relief.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Nipomo Marcasite Agate wrapped in Recycle Copper

Here's my latest weekend project. This one is tiny, the stone isn't even an inch long!  It's always a challenge making dainty jewelry, but this one has a lot of detail. I even made balled details on the end clasps. They're 14 gauge copper, so that took A LOT of heat.

It sold within a few minutes of posting.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Great BALLS of Fire!

There's a certain technique in wire/metal work in which you take a blow torch to the metal, and it melts into a ball. When I was in high school jewelry/metalsmithing class we used to do this with silver. This was back in the early 90s when silver prices were 1/5th of what they are today. I mean, they gave the stuff to high school kids and I'm pretty sure there wasn't a fee to take the class or I wouldn't have been there.  I used to hold the torch until the ball would form, and then solder the balls in clusters onto the shank of a ring. See, jewelry making is something I've been doing for the past twenty years!

I've admired some of the lovely work from some of my favorite artists and peers and their use of balled up metal in their designs.  I knew that this was achieve by the use of a torch, but for some reason I could never figure out exactly how to make it work outside of my high school art class. I would hold the torch on the end of the wire, it would turn bright red, but it would never melt. But, like most of the techniques I've experimented with suddenly I figured it out. I wasn't holding the torch at the right angle. Once I learned how to hit that metal in the right spot it started to ball up, and boy did it happen fast.  Waving the torch back and forth prevented pointed ends.  I was doing it!  And, I needed to incorporate the technique into something new and different.  I had the perfect stone, a gorgeous Labradorite with bright blue flash.

This one is already sold, in fact I sold it within an hour of posting it online. 

I definitely plan to incorporate this technique into future pieces.

Monday, January 20, 2014

That's FINE (Viking Knit Bracelet)

I love Viking Knit. It can be a tedious process, but the end result makes it all worth it. I just finished this gorgeous viking knit bracelet for a customer, I pulled it out of the metal tumbler this morning. I think it's my best viking knit item to date!  What made this one work so well was that I made it with FINE silver instead of sterling. I had no idea how much easier it would be. Fine silver is more malleable, less apt to tangle. Of course I still used sterling silver for the handcrafted end caps and forged hook and eye clasp, but from now on it's FINE silver for Viking Knit.

While you're here, why not give me a "like" on Facebook!
Leah Hoffman Jewelry Design