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Simple Holiday Jewelry Gifts

Hanukkah ends in a few days and Christmas and Kwanzaa is around the corner. I’ve been busy making jewelry for friends all over.

This year is all about personalization and making each piece unique and one-of-a-kind. I do not mass produce my jewelry. However, recently I was asked to mass produce a few pieces. I thought long and hard about it, but decided not to…not now. Some may say it’s not a smart business move on my part, but I’m not ready to give up on my personal touches. For me, the enjoyment comes from personal contact with my clients. So, for now…..I will continue creating giving each piece with love and individuality.

I sound like a Hallmark card. I am not sappy or overly sentimental. I just know what I need and want in my life right now.

I like making my pieces special for each person; it’s about fitting style with personality. It’s a piece of artwork. Some like small, dainty and subtle, others

seek bold and “here I am” pieces. When wearing my jewelry, you are wearing a unique one-of-kind piece that I made to fit your personality.




I wish everyone a peaceful and loving Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.





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From Clay to PURE SILVER – how to make a beautiful pendant.

FinishedPendantThere is one tool  I love more than a miter saw and that is my Paragon kiln for firing metal clay into pure solid silver. Who ever came up with the idea of turning clay into a solid mass of pure silver?? Brilliant. My close friends know that I’ve been making jewelry for years, actually longer than my kids have been alive and they are 14 and 12. As the years have evolved so has my jewelry. I make jewelry for my friends, sell it at  boutiques, but have always wanted to teach others how to make simple creations.  My goal is to inspire the everyday hobbyist  and show them how easy it is to make beautiful pieces of jewelry out of silver clay. I must mention that while I love a good bargain, this project is not cheap! However, you can easily substitute  other types of clay for half the price. For example, bronze or copper clay is just as effective, but not as expensive. Also,  I use a lot of house hold tools to get the job done. Read on to find out how? Read on:


A few items you will need to get started:


Deck of playing cards

olive oil or non stick spray to prevent sticking

SILVER CLAY – Art Clay Silver or Precious Metal Clay. or

Water to keep clay moist

Cookie Cutters

Roller to roll clay flat (small piece of PVC piping works super well and is dirt cheap)

Various tools to cut clay (i.e tissue blade, Needle Point tool, Xacto knife works too)

Sanding Sponges to polish (3M has great options ranging from a 100 grit up to a 1500 grit)

Wire Brush to brush off the matte white finish post firing

Firing Method of our choice -The clay can be fired with a handheld gas torch, on a kitchen or camping gas hob, or with a kiln, depending on size, shape and which clay you have used. (you can buy a butane handheld torch at the hardware store for under $30)


Roll your clay out to your desired thickness. I use playing cards to ensure an even thickness. For pendants, I typically stack 5 playing cards on each side. Spray your roller and center card with a little olive oil. Place a small amount of clay in the center of your card and roll out. See photos below:





Ball of SILVER clay







Chose what you want to “imprint” into the clay.  You can find something in your house, like a button or go outside and find a cool looking leaf. I chose to use a Fleur De Lis from a template I already had. I sprayed the template with a small amount of olive oil to prevent it from sticking to the clay. I then gently pressed it into the clay.







Next cut to the shape you want. I wanted my Fleur De Lis to be a circle. I took a round cookie cutter and made a circle around my Fleur De Lis. After, take your tool of choice and discard the extra clay.

IMG_2250IMG_2251 IMG_2252 IMG_2254








You will want to wrap your left over clay in plastic wrap. Place clay the middle of the plastic wrap and mist with water. Wrap until you are ready to use it again.







Take a tooth pick or a small needle and poke a hole at the top of your piece.

IMG_2256 IMG_2257






Let your piece dry!! The finished piece needs to be dried out before firing to avoid any damage. Either leave it in a warm spot for a day or more, or, use a kitchen oven, dehydrator, hot plate, hair dryer or heat gun to speed it up. I placed mine on a hot plate for 15 minutes.


You can check to see if your piece is dry by doing what is called a “mirror test”.  You put your piece on a mirror, leave for 20 seconds, and if you see a “cloud” on the mirror when you remove the piece, it is still wet. One time while I was teaching someone how to make a pendant, I didn’t let it dry all the way. I guess I was too excited to show her the final result. Bad idea!  It literally exploded while firing. Flames and all. I think I stressed my point here on making sure it is bone dry.


When bone dry, you can carefully shape, file, and sand your piece so all edges are smooth and all little burrs or nicks are removed. These would be very uncomfortable against the skin after becoming metal hard. And they will be much harder to remove after fired. The clay is brittle at this stage, so be careful to not put too much pressure on it, and support the piece well

IMG_2289 IMG_2290 IMG_2293  A supporting rubber block is extremely handy for this. I use a nail file and gently file the edges.
This is one of the most important stages in working with metal clay if you want to produce a professional looking piece.  50253-1I also use a drill bit to drill a perfect hole into the center. Since I already made a small hole with my toothpick, it’s even easier to drill into the hole. It gives it a more professional, even look. Lastly, I take my needle tool and trace around my Fleur De Lis. You can also engrave your piece. Personalize it by adding a name to the back.IMG_2296

Take a small paint brush and brush away any clay remaining. I place a post-it note under my rubber block and collect all my clay remainings. Put all your remainings into a small jar and save for later.IMG_2291






Time to FIRE your bone dry piece. This is where the MAGIC occurs. For the purpose of this tutorial, I will strictly talk about using a handheld butane torch for firing your metal pieces. I started this way and eventually invested in a kiln where I fire all my pieces.

Most handheld, or creme brulee, torches are perfect for metal clay, just make sure it has a nice large-ish, quite bushy, flame. These run on butane which you get from your local hardware store.  Fire in a dim room so you can see the glow. Put your piece on a ceramic fiber brick, which is a fireproof surface.butanetorch firing
Move the flame over the piece, holding the torch an inch or two away from the item being fired. It is very important to keep the flame moving so that the object is heated evenly. If you can see it, keep the blue cone about an inch away from the object. As the piece heats up, some smoke will be released.Butane Red GlowButaneTorchFireFlame

The piece will begin to glow orange (most visible in a darkened area). Keep the flame  over the item for 2-5 minutes.

DO NOT OVERFIRE the piece. If you see the silver turning shiny, you need to hold the torch further away from the piece and move it around more. Ideally, the Silver Clay will just reach the fusing point of the silver particles and the surface will have a white matte finish.

If the silver has a shiny surface, the surface has reached the melting point. This often results in small holes in the work piece. If you heat it even more, the work piece will fold in on itself and eventually ball up. If you want to, you can practice on a small piece of rolled out dried clay to get a feel for the proper firing and melting technique.

Your final piece will have a white matte finish.IMG_1430 You will take your wire brush and brush off the white matte finish. Ta’ Da’ you are left with  a beautiful piece of solid silver. IMG_1431



Time to finish your piece. You can use your 3M sponges to buff it or use a burnisher on the raised edges to bring it to life. You don’t have to invest in a burnisher. Instead, use the edge of a spoon. Gently rub agaisnt the edges .IMG_1440




Try antiquing your piece if you want. I used a patina gel to achieve an aged look. IMG_1437Most patina gels can be purchased online or at your local jewelry store. After you patina your piece, run under cool water and let dry. Polish again.




Attach your new pure silver pendant to the necklace of your choice. Stay tuned for the finished necklace. It’s a work in process. I’m thinking of stringing large pearls and adding a sterling silver chain to create a hip looking necklace.

You now made a unique, one of a kind piece of jewelry. Congratulations.

FinishedPendant* I made the bail using the same method described above.


photo 1

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Using Vaseline to Distress Aged Aqua Cabinet

From Drab to Fab:

photo 2



This is one of my favorite knockoffs. I fell in love with Ethan Allen’s Ming Media console. However, I didn’t love the  $1800 price tag. I went to Ana White’s website and found a similar plan. Ana has over a 1,000 free D.I.Y plans. Here is the plan I modified: I also collaborated with the best designer in town, Tanya Padgett who helped me come up with “right” dimensions for my space. You can check out her fabulous”ness” on her Facebook page:

Ana showcased my DIY aged aqua cabinet on her site. Since then, I’ve had a lot of questions asking how I finished this piece. So, I thought I would explain how I achieved my aged aqua look with vaseline. Yep, vaseline. It was easy, cheap and fun! Read on.




Chalk Paint

Clear and Dark wax


120, 150, 220 grit paper

Steel Wool #3,

Minwax Pre-Stain Conditioner

Minwax stain Provincial







I sanded the entire cabinet with my handy palm sander. I started with 120 grit, then sanded it again using a 220 grit.  Take a damp rag and wipe away sanding residual.


Pre stain your wood to help stain penetrate wood evenly.  I used Minwax’s pre stained wood conditioner. I am sure any wood conditioner would work as well. Brush on with a foam brush and let sit for 20 minutes. Wipe away any excess with a cloth.



Stain your wood with the color of your choice.  I just happen to LOVE Minwax’s Provincial right now.  I didn’t stain the entire cabinet        ($$ saving tip).  I only stained the areas I planned on distressing. Ask yourself where normal wear and tear would occur. For example, the corners, edges, raised areas and doors.  I applied the stain using a sponge brush. Brush on, let it sit for a few minutes and then wipe off. I let it sit and dry (about 30 minutes).


Lightly sand it again using 220 grit. Get a small amount of vaseline and place on the areas you want to distress, ie….the areas you want the stain to show through. Keep in mind that you want to dab it in areas where natural distressing occurs (like I mentioned above in step 3). The vaseline makes the top coat of paint practically fall off with ease so apply it wherever you want to distress the piece later.  You can almost wipe it off with a rag so you have to be careful where you put it. Don’t overdo it though.  The vaseline smears easily and can leave you with larger exposed areas after distressing that you may not want.





Next, begin painting. This is where I chose to have fun. I never settle on 1 paint color. I love to mix different colors to get a new shade. I take a paper plate and drop a teaspoon of each paint color onto the plate. I mix and keep tweaking until I get the color I like. I used THREE different paint colors for my aged teal cabinet.


mixed paint

I purchased all my paint from  Home Depot, even the chalk paint (TIP: one stop shopping makes life easier). Here are the colors I used:

Behr; Song Bird

Ralph Lauren; Reservoir Blue

 Americana Decor Chalk Paint in Tresor.

After I mixed the three (about a 1:1: ratio), I settled on this lovely teal color. Start painting. I put 2 coats on. Let fully dry between each coat. Tick…tock…tick…tock. I am not patient, so waiting was very hard, but very necessary.



After your paint has dried you are ready to begin distressing.  I used my Ryobi corner cat sander with a 150 grit. I also used course steel wool  (#3) to get into the areas my sander wouldn’t. You can use what works for you.  I focused on the front of the dresser (sides, doors, etc…) for a heavier distressing. Begin on the places you applied vaseline.  The paint in these areas will easily peel off.  Add other distress marks as desired. You can distress as much or as little as you want. I didn’t want a lot of distressing, so I chose to go light on the sanding. (TIP: there are no mistakes that can’t be fixed. If you distress too much in one area, start at step 4 above and re do the area). Make sure to clean off any sanding debris that remains.



Watch the magic come alive.  I used Annie Sloan clear and dark wax all over. I’ve used Americana Decor wax in clear and dark in the past and it works just as well (TIP: Americana Decor is cheaper than Annie Sloan). I just happened to have Annie Sloan’s waxes on hand and her stuff is amazing. Apply the clear wax first. I used a 2.5″ Purdy bristle brush from Home Depot.  For more information on how to apply Annie Sloan waxes, please refer to her website: Annie recommends applying a lot of wax, but then taking loads of it off! She says that we need to spread it all over making certain it really soaks into the paint and crevices. However, it costs a small fortune and I didn’t want to waste any wax (or $$). I applied a small amount all over with light brush strokes. After applying it, wipe it off pressing into the paint so it absorbs in. I usually apply it with a brush and then wipe it off with a rag. Now, after you have applied a layer of clear wax, brush your dark wax either all over or in the areas you want to give an aged effect. I chose to brush it all over.  Then take a rag and remove any excess dark wax.  (TIP: Always apply dark wax over clear wax. This will have better control over your toning layer or antiquing effect.).

waxdark250Let the wax dry. It has to DRY!! Another moment where I have to exercise patience. (TIP: wax right before you go to bed. When you wake in the morning, it will be ready to buff).


Take a clean, soft rag and buff it. The more you buff, the more shine you get.

STEP 9: ENJOY your new AGED AQUA color



I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Good Luck and let me know if you have any questions. I would love to see your pieces.  😉
27 Knockoffs



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My first Blog post


I finally took the plunge and started a blog. One could say I jumped straight into the deep end, but I would say it happened differently. I took baby steps for the last few years and finally made it into the water today.  For every step forward, I’ve been known to have a  few stumbles backward. I finally figured out that my fear of failing was holding me back & preventing me from starting this blog.  I don’t feel comfortable writing or conveying my feelings. So, why did I start a blog? I’ve asked myself that 27,000 times. Don’t you have to enjoy writing to be a successful blogger? Well, I don’t enjoy writing (yet) , but I do enjoy sharing and inspiring others through my creations. I am stepping out of my comfort zone and making a splash. I will not allow my fear of failure to paralyze me any longer.  However, if you asked me what I’d rather be doing right now, I’d tell you working on my miter saw in the backyard or using my Kreg Jig to  drill pilot holes into reclaimed wood. I  already miss it.

I’ve been asked by many of friends to share my tutorials and my creations.  So, this is for all of you.  I hope to succeed and swim off into the sunset. So much for that idiom.  For now, I hope my tutorials will be beneficial.

As a mother of 3 boys, a dog and a wonderful husband, I thank you in advance for reading my blog.


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Trunk Side Table Tutorial



DIY Trunk Side Table

I’m in the process of upscaling my living area. It all started with my husband buying a new sectional that didn’t match any of our decor. Instead of buying all new furniture, I decided to make a few pieces to help cut costs, and I did I mention how much I love making things? It was the perfect opportunity for me to hone in on my new wood-working skills. I instantly fell in love with Ana White’s Emmerson Changing Table (by: West Elm).  Pen to paper, I scetched my first plan. My idea became a reality in a few days and it was so simple. I love the rustic reclaimed wood appearance. What do you think?



DIY Trunk Table

Dimensions: 18 x 18 x 25 3/4″



5 – 1×2 pine or white wood @ 6′

6 – 1×4 pine or white wood @ 6′

1/4″ plywood cut to 18×18 for base

3 1/2″ Bun Foot Wood Table Legs

Handful of Nail Heads

Hardware of your choice

1 1/4″ pocket hole screws

Wood Glue

1″ & 1 1/4″  nails for nail gun

Minwax Provincial  and Walnut Stain

White paint


Miter Saw

Kreg Jig

Nail gun

Orbital Sander


Measuring Tape


For Front and Back Panels:



4- 1×2’s @ 17 1/2″ (vertical)

4-1×2’s @ 18″ (horizontal)

10 1×4’s @ 15″ (all going horizontal)


For Side Panels:


4- 1×2’s @ 17″  (horizontal)

10- 1×4’s @ 17″ (all going horizontal)



4 – 1×4’s @ 18″ mitered at 45 degree angles (for the top)

2-1X2’S @ 18″ (I screwed these under the lid mitered pieces)

2-1X2’S @ 15″ (I screwed these under the lid mitered pieces) Random pieces to fit in the middle. I used scrap pieces and cut to fit or you could use an 11″x11″ piece of 3/4″ plywood. – See more at:

Cutting Instructions:

Take all your 1X4’s and cut them to size. You will have a total of (10) 1×4’s @ 15″ for your front and back panels and (10) 1×4’s @ 17″ for your side panels. I saved cutting my wood for the lid until the very end. Next, cut your 1×2’s to size. You will have a total of (4) 1×2’s @ 18″ (horizontal) and (4) 1×2’s@ 17 1/2″ (vertical) for the front and back panels. You will have (4) 1×2’s @ 17″ (horizontal) for the side panels.

Step 1:

Start by making your front and back panels. Glue, screw and attach your (5) 1×4 wood planks together. I made pocket holes on all my 1×4’s, but you don’t have to. You can use wood glue and clamps. Repeat this for your back panel.


Step 2 Instructions:

Build your frame for the front and back parts of your trunk. See below. Take your two 1×2’s @ 17 1/2″ long (brown) and drill pilot holes into the ends with your Kreg Jig. Next attach your bottom 1×2 @18″ (green) by using your 1 1/4″ pilot hold screws. Repeat this for your back panel. You will attach your last 1×2 after you add your 5-piece panel of 1 x 4’s.



Step 3 Instructions:

Make your side frames. Add your 17″ piece of wood to the bottom. Attach it by using glue and nails with your nail gun. You cannot use your 1 1/4″ ph screws because they are too long. You could use smaller size pocket hole screws. Do this for the other side too. Remember, you will add your top piece of wood after you insert your 5-layer panel of 1×4’s.


Step 4 Instructions:

Add your 5-layer panels of 1×4’s to all your frames. I started with my front and back panels first. I added some glue and they fit snugly into the frame. You could use a few nails for extra security by using your nail gun.




Step 5 Instructions:

Attach your top piece of 1×2 wood (green) by using a 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws. You already made the pocket holes on the vertical pieces of wood (brown). Do this for the back panel too.


Step 6 Instructions:

Complete your side panels in the same way you just did for your front and back panels.


Step 7 Instructions:

Attach your now complete base to the 1/4″ plywood bottom. You can screw, nail or glue this portion. I used a nail gun and glue to secure both pieces together.

Step 8 Instructions:

Add the legs per manufactorers instructions


Step 9 Instructions:

Make the lid. Use your miter saw to cut the 1×4’s at a 45 degree angle. Attach them together using 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws.

Use scrap pieces of wood to make the center portion of the lid. You can be as creative as you want or simply cut out a piece of wood that measures 11×11. You can use a kreg jig to drill holes and attach the pieces with 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws.

**Optional Step**

I added a “lip” to my lid. I just took some extra 1×2 pieces of wood I had and drilled a screw through them to secure them to the lid. I layed my 1 x2’s flat to the lid (see photo). My lid measured 1″ tall (1/2″ from the 1×4 from the lid & 1/2″ from the side of the 1×2).


Step 10 Instructions:

Decide on whether you want to paint or stain it. I got all my inspiration from Ana White’s Emmerson Changing table. So please visit her site to see the exact way I finished it. I did sand all the wood prior to application.
Add your decorative hardware and hinges. I also attached a handful of nail heads to the bottom piece (I attached them to the 1/4″ piece of plywood that was visible).
hope you enjoy this affordable knockoff as much as I do. Total cost excluding the hardware was $65.00!! What a bargain. Price with hardware put me at $100, but still not bad.

Preparation Instructions:
Fill all holes with wood filler and let dry. Apply additional coats of wood filler as needed. When wood filler is completely dry, sand the project in the direction of the wood grain with 120 grit sandpaper. Vacuum sanded project to remove sanding residue. Remove all sanding residue on work surfaces as well. Wipe project clean with damp cloth. It is always recommended to apply a test coat on a hidden area or scrap piece to ensure color evenness and adhesion. Use primer or wood conditioner as needed.
Finish Used:
To achieve this stain, the entire cabinet was stained a medium stain. Then for the doors, selective boards were sanded down to remove some of the stain, lightening the boards. Other boards were given another layer of darker stain. And for the lighter areas, I taped off areas and sanded all the stain off to give the appearance of a past board to board joint.


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