Posts tagged handcrafted jewelry
You Are Invited To My Annual Studio Sale

It seems like forever since I have posted on The Pickled Pearl. The summer just got away from me this year. I have been very busy with markets and family for the last few months.

And now my annual studio sale is just a few days away. It is the one day every year that I make a special point of really showing my appreciation for my customers and all those who have helped me believe in myself and my craft.

My studio sale and open house will be this Tuesday, November 24th from 1:00 to 9:00 p.m. My entire inventory of handcrafted sterling silver jewelry will be 15% off. I will have some finger food and beverages for all. Even if you don't need to buy a little something as a Christmas gift, stop by to say hello. I would love to see everyone.

For the first time ever, I will be giving away a few door prizes to those who subscribe to The Pickled Pearl. Just to show you how grateful I am for your encouragement.

I hope to see you on Tuesday! 



November 24th
1:00 - 9:00 p.m.

10201 Hollymount Drive
Richmond, BC

Message me on Facebook at The Pickled Pearl if you need directions or have questions.






Another Day

Today is my 50th birthday. I have had a hard time with this one. My 40s were amazing, the best decade of my life. Turning 50 has made me feel remorseful. It isn't just the getting older part that I am struggling with.

I often feel like I am at the beginning of my journey. That I am where I should have been twenty years ago.  These sentiments are related to my craft, silversmithing. I am at a point where my technical skills are catching up with my vision. I am developing my own voice. Underneath everything, there is the fear that I started down this path too late in life. And that I am crazy for thinking I can do something with it.


I am inspired by people like Lisa Congdon, who took her first art class at 31 and is now a successful painter and illustrator. She has written about getting older (we are about the same age), determination, and perseverance.



In one blog post, I felt like Lisa was speaking to me personally when she wrote:

That painting class changed my life. Not in a big explosive way. And not overnight. But it set me on a trajectory that led to what I do today. Fifteen years later, I am a working artist. At first it was a hobby — a hobby that gained momentum and grew exponentially as I grew artistically and as I began to share my work on the Internet, which was relatively new at the time. Then several years later, in 2007, I left my job and began my self-employed life.

Along the way, there was no guidebook for me. I was self taught, and I'd never gone to art school. I was intimidated by the art world and had no clue about the worlds of illustration or licensing. Even selling my work on a platform like Etsy (also new back then) felt overwhelming. But over the course of time, I asked a lot of questions to whoever would listen and I read as much as I could. I tried new things. I kept a blog. As awkward as it felt, I began to spread the word about what I was making through all the ways that were available to me — in hopes that people would buy it, or want to hire me for an illustration job, or ask me to be in a gallery show.

And for a few years, all that effort felt frustrating. Stuff happened (the sales, the illustration jobs, the shows), but it came slowly. My income didn't add up to as much as I wanted or needed. But the art-making part was so fulfilling to me (in a way I had never experienced) that I kept at it, with the hope that some day I would hit a tipping point and begin to make a regular, full time income as an artist. I was determined.



I have been thinking about and planning my birthday for some time. I told Roger that I didn't want a party or a big to-do. All I really wanted was to be someplace else. I envisioned taking our little trailer to a remote lake and spending a couple of weeks camping with our dogs.



Things often don't work out the way you think they will. As it turned out, we had to change our plans and see my family. So Roger and I drove to North Idaho, with the dogs, and trailer in tow. While it hasn't been the trip I pictured, it has been lovely. We are situated on ten acres of beautiful forested land not far from the Canadian border. The dogs spend their days playing or basking in the sun. Roger and I spend our days quietly- cooking and doing a few chores. In the afternoon, I work in the little outdoor studio I have set up.

Cutting links for a bracelet

Cutting links for a bracelet

A frown of concentration as I try to solder in the wind

A frown of concentration as I try to solder in the wind

Khai loving the morning sun

Khai loving the morning sun

Kagan is always happy when there is a ball involved.

Kagan is always happy when there is a ball involved.


In the evening, we sit on the deck and watch the hummingbirds take turns at the feeder. They have such fierce hearts for such tiny, delicate creatures. Hummingbirds will even take on crows and hawks to defend their territory. I marvel at their spirit and determination.


 I look towards the next decade. I know where I want to go, but am not sure how I am going to get there.  The path will be full of hills and valleys, a few bends, and likely some brambles and thorns.

 I believe the key is determination paired with daily work. I aspire to have the heart of a hummingbird.

 50 will come and go. I will work in my studio today. And tomorrow. And the day after that.

 Roger and I will have a lovely dinner tonight with candles and champagne, set outside on this exquisite piece of land.

 One more day will pass.  The dishes still need to be done and the dogs have to be fed. There is joy in that simplicity.

On my 50th birthday. Unedited, unretouched. Just me.

On my 50th birthday. Unedited, unretouched. Just me.


In The Beginning, or the Zuni Ring
Me at 11 or 12 years old.

Me at 11 or 12 years old.


I have always been a silver girl.

Gold just never did it for me.

I think sterling silver reminded me of the moon. And of the magic and mysteries concealed by the night. It was the feminine counterpart to the masculine sun.

Or maybe I just read too much Greek mythology as a kid.

A Navajo silver and turquoise ring that was given to me by my great aunt. It was most likely made in the 1930's or 40's.

A Navajo silver and turquoise ring that was given to me by my great aunt. It was most likely made in the 1930's or 40's.


One of my earliest jewelry memories is from when I was about 11 years old. We were living in the tiny town of Overgaard, Arizona. Everyone always sees of the arid desert of Pheonix and Tuscon when they imagine Arizona, but a large part of the state is mountainous with a high elevation plateau. 

Overgaard is situated up in the mountains on the Mogollon Rim, 144 miles from Phoenix. It sits in the Eastern part of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. The population at the time was in the neighborhood of 400 people. There wasn’t much to the town. A couple of taverns and a corner store were about all Overgaard had to offer.

Because it was such a small community, we had a lot of freedom. My days were spent exploring the Ponderosa Pine forest, sailing down dirt roads.  My nights were often spent with my sleeping bag at the edge of the forest near our property. 

The elementary school was in the next community, Heber. It was a whole lot bigger with a whopping 2,000 or so people.

A Navajo concho brooch (circa 1930). It was my grandmother's. She gave it to my mother, who later gave it to me. 

A Navajo concho brooch (circa 1930). It was my grandmother's. She gave it to my mother, who later gave it to me. 


I can't remember what the occasion was. Maybe Christmas. Or maybe the end of the school year. Everyone in the class drew another student's name, and we were supposed to give them a gift at the school party. The boy I liked drew my name. I was terribly excited by the prospect of a gift from him.

He was Zuni Indian. I didn't really know him. I had never been to his house and never hung out with him after school. He was kind of shy and didn't say a whole lot. It was a typical early adolescent crush - infatuation without substance.

One of the things I didn't know about him was that he came from a family of silversmiths. Instead of buying me a gift, he made me a diminutive turquoise and silver ring. It was quite simple. A small round piece of aqua colored turquoise, framed in silver, and resting on a silver ring shank,

A ring similar to the one I was given. This one is made by Amy at  Mossy Creek Studio

A ring similar to the one I was given. This one is made by Amy at Mossy Creek Studio


I loved that ring. I was so amazed that he could make something like that. And that he would spend that much time making something for me. It was one of the first pieces of real jewelry I ever owned.

We got to be friends after, that boy and I.  We hung out a little over the summer and had a few adventures in the rural mountains. I have a vague picture of meandering paths and bicycles. Dirt roads and alfalfa fields. There was an old, abandoned travel trailer at the end of one of those dirt roads. It became the summertime hang out for all us kids.

Ponderosa Pine Forest. Photo from

Ponderosa Pine Forest. Photo from

And then one day we had an argument. I am sure it was something trivial. Very juvenile. He demanded that I give the ring back. It had been given as a gift. But that didn't matter. I threw the ring down, and it hit the dusty dirt track with a poof. That was the last time I saw the ring. If he didn't want me to have it, then I didn't want it either.

Dumb me.

Funny. I still think about that ring. But I can't even remember the boy's name. 


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New Pearl Pendants
Silver pendant 1


I spent all day in my studio. There is only a week left before the summer market season begins and I am working hard to get some new pieces finished for opening day.

 Today, I was working on sterling silver and pearl pendants.


Soldering Silver Pendants


Here is a sneak peek.




I hope to see you at the Steveston Farmers and Artisans Market on May 10th. Mention The Pickled Pearl for a special discount of 15% on all of my artisan jewelry.




PS: Don't forget to subscribe so you can hear about new posts and take advantage of special discounts. The link is at the top of the page.

What's in a Name?

You might be wondering where on Earth I came up with a name like The Pickled Pearl. It doesn't make a lick of sense until you know a little about me.


First, I am a silversmith and jewelry artist. I am completely smitten with my craft. Maybe even a little unbalanced. Most people like to get out now and then, see some friends, maybe go for a walk. I actually need to schedule those things in. Otherwise I would never leave my studio.  

My Studio

I used to hate pearls. I mean loathe. I am a June baby and got stuck with the pearl as my birthstone. How BORING. My friends all had cool birthstones like aquamarine, ruby, and sapphire. People gave them gifts with their birthstones, and guess what? They actually liked the gifts. Not me. Can you imagine turning 16 and getting pearl earrings. The kind that everyone's grandma has. You know what I mean. The big, round, plain white pearl with a post sticking out the back. I don't know about you, but believe me, I was not a plain, white pearl kind of girl.   

Making ring shanks.

And now you are probably thinking I am absolutely crazy for naming a blog after an object of derision. Well, one day a few years ago I decided to experiment a little. I wanted to see if I could make pearls a little more modern. Give them an edge. And slowly, I fell in love the with the luminescent little orbs. Their satiny sheen. They are a tiny full moon, captured in a ring. Now, pearls are a common theme in my work. And I am not talking your grandma's staid string of pearls from 1948, but a young reinvented version of the pearl.

That is the pearl part. 

The pickle part is a bit of a triple entendre. 

In silversmithing, the pickle is a mild acid solution that removes oxidation that develops during the soldering. The pickle is something that I use everyday in my studio. 

Soldering a ring.

Then there is my kitchen. It is my second favourite room. I have been known to wake up and make beef bone broth just 'cause. I remember once, there was a whole summer that I was fascinated with jams. I would get up in the morning and say "I feel lazy today. I don't want to do anything. I think I'll make jam". A few hours later, a dozen new jars of jam would be cooling on the counter. I made so much jam that year, I had to give some to everyone I knew. I had no place to store it all. I have to admit that the only pickles I have ever made are pickled beets

I am a little crazy about cooking and canning in general. We even bought an outdoor propane burner so that I could get my pressure canner out of the house, keeping the indoor temperature somewhere south of molten. 

Attaching a post for the pearl.

And the last part of that pickle is me. I really love a glass of red wine, or two, with dinner. I always joke that when I am an old woman, I am going to live on pie, ice cream, and red wine. I know this as surely as I know anything. When the time comes that life is about quality, and no longer about quantity, I can just hear myself... 

"No. That's okay, honey. I'm not really that hungry tonight. I don't really feel like dinner. But I would LOVE a piece of that fresh blueberry pie. Maybe with a little ice cream?  And, oh look! It's six o'clock! Time for a glass of wine." 

And so at the end of it all, I will indeed be the pickled pearl.


Finished pearl solitaire ring.