Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Spring Clean Your Jewellery Box

You've packed away the Winter woolies and you've been cleaning and oganising around your home, but your jewellery box is easily overlooked. However, now that the weather is warming up and there are exposed necks and wrists to decorate, it's the perfect time to sort through your jewels. Make a cup of tea, grab your jewellery box, lay the contents out on your bed, then take note of these tips as you look over each item.

With care, jewellery can last for generations. Like our cars and homes, some servicing and maintenance may be required to keep our much loved pieces looking their best. Many of us have experienced the heartbreak of loosing a piece of jewellery, but we can minimise the risk of lost items by ensuring they are in good repair. As a jeweller I have seen and repaired my fair share of broken jewellery and I know the following advice will help you repair, clean and organise your jewellery. 


Clasps - Open and close clasps a few times to check that they are strong and are closing all the way, with no gap that the jump ring could slip through. If the spring inside a clasp breaks, this can not be repaired. If there is a gap where the clasp meets this can often be squeezed shut with a pair of pliers. Claps will wear over time and may need building up (with more metal and solder) or replacing.  

Jump Rings - Jump rings are the round links that connect your clasps and chains to your jewellery. Often when a piece of jewellery gets pulled, if the jump ring has not been soldered shut it will open a little. This can be enough for a chain or clasp to slip through. You can tighten a jump ring yourself with a gentle squeeze with some flat pliers. Jump rings also wear over time and eventually need building up or replacing. 

Links - The links on gold jewellery in particular may stretch over time. That bracelet which used to fit you may now be too big. A jeweller can easily remove these extra links to get your bracelet fitting properly again. Links are susceptible to wear as well, so check over them for any thin or worn spots where they may be weak and break if pulled. 

Missing or loose gemstones - Check over each piece and look for any holes where gemstones have fallen out. To discover if any gemstones are loose, hold the piece of jewellery to your ear and tap it. A rattle indicates a loose stone and you may need a jeweller to tighten it. Check large round stones in a claw setting by gently trying to twist the stone around in the setting. If it moves it may need tightening.

Claws - Over time claws get worn and broken. Have a close look at the claws holding in your gemstones and if you identify any missing, broken or lifted claws these will need attention. If a claw has started catching at fabric, this is a good sign that it needs to be pushed back down.

Pearls and beads - It is recommended that pearls and beads that are worn regularly are re-threaded every 1 - 2 years. Telltale signs that it's time to re-thread them include frayed thread, build up of product on thread (particularly near the clasp), or stretched thread - where there are gaps between the pearl and the knots. Stands of pearls should be knotted between each pearl to prevent loss should the strand break. My rule with pearls is 'last thing on, first thing off' - so put your make up and perfume on first.

White gold - In order to keep white gold rings looking their best, they need to be re-rhodium plated from time to time. Jewellers remove the old rhodium, polish the piece, check the stones and settings and then re-rhodium plate.

Knots and breaks - Knots in fine chains are best removed with a pin and patience. While broken chains will need to be soldered back together again.


Commercial jewellery cleaning dips, gels and impregnated cloths can be used to clean silver and gold. There are also some great DIY, environmentally friendly, jewellery cleaning recipes available online, like this one for silver. Caution needs to be taken with gemstones though. Opals, pearls, turquoise, amber, coral and emeralds in particular are sensitive to chemicals and heat, and often need only a damp, soft cloth wiped over them, or a mild soap can be used to remove build ups of oil, cosmetics etc. Diamonds may be cleaned with a mild liquid detergent and a soft brush or old toothbrush. Many jewellers offer free or inexpensive jewellery cleaning, so take advantage of this when you can, as nothing gets a piece clean like a professional polish and ultrasonic.


Now is a good time to sort out any pieces you no longer wear and think about remodeling them or melting them down to make in to something else, or perhaps selling them. Single earrings, broken chains and ex-boyfriends gifts can be melted down and made in to new pieces, like solid bangles or hammered rings

Think about the way you are storing your pieces too. Costume jewellery can be hung on hooks - there are some great storage and display ideas on Pinterest. Pearls should be stored wrapped in tissue paper or in drawstring pouches, to prevent them being scratched by other pieces of jewellery. Putting pairs of earrings together on buttons is a great way to keep them together. If you don't have room to store items in the boxes they came in, drawstring pouches can be purchased at variety stores or online.

Some people store their jewellery in safes, or hide it around them home. While this is a great idea, be careful! I once had an insurance customer whose husband had emptied out their freezer after a trip away, unaware that his wife had hidden all her most precious jewellery in there!

A note on costume jewellery 

As most costume jewellery is gold or silver plated base metal, it can't be soldered. If part of the metal has broken then glue (super glue or araldite) may be your best friend. Broken jump rings or missing gemstones can often be replaced by looking in craft shops or on eBay.

If you have any questions about repairing, cleaning or organising your jewellery, or if there's something you have always wanted to ask a jeweller, feel free to ask me in the comments. 
You can email me a photo of any specific pieces and I will offer my advice!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Opinions Please!

The first home grown mulberries of the season.

We are in the midst of school holidays here, and after two weeks of illness and two types of antibiotics, the children are almost back to themselves again. As a result there hasn't been much bench time. Instead I have been planning and researching when time has allowed, and I would really appreciate your assistance. I've put together a short survey with ten questions which will help me tailor my future business plans to suit you, my ideal customer!

I am ever so appreciative of all my amazing customers and followers and I would love to hear your thoughts. Those that answer the call and share their opinions will receive a code for a 20% discount in my online shop. The survey will only be open for one day, so please pop over now.

Thanks for your kindness and support!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Four months old - Oscar

4 months
4 months
4 months
4 months
4 months
4 months

With each child I have let go of a few more little things. Even with just one child I found it difficult to keep the 'memory book' up to date and fill in exactly how much Cohen weighed each month, what date he got which tooth, or who gave him what each birthday. I thought I would remember each precious moment, but when I came with pen to paper, the memories had no dates attached. I filled in each prompt as best I could, with pangs of guilt that I wouldn't be giving Cohen a perfect baby book record of his first years. By the third child I didn't even purchase a memory book, which at least alleviated that particular Mama guilt.

With Emerson, my sweet little second child, I took photos each month of her first year, accompanied by notes for prosperity. I had intentions of doing the same for Oscar, my dearly loved third child. But the first few months flew by in a blur of new routines, broken sleep, school days and market preparation. And, well, here we are with a few more pangs of mothers guilt motivating me to start documenting now, at four months. I know I will be so pleased that I did. I look back now at the months of photos and words I wrote for Emerson and my heart aches a little at how quickly that time passed and the knowledge that Oscars baby days will pass just as quickly. It all feels that much more bitter sweet for me third time around, knowing that my longed for third baby is our last.

My little moon faced Oscar is such a joy. He was made to be a third child. He is so very at ease and rarely protests or cries. He goes along for the ride, usually in a sling, close to Mama's heart. Nothing equals his love of breastmilk. Though he is the first of my children to love getting dressed. His eyes light up and he smiles with delight at each singlet popped over his head and each onesie his arms are struggled in to. He is patient and observant of his siblings. Fascinated by them and pleased if he manages to grip their fingers and get them in to his mouth. If not their fingers, then it is his own he searches for, not satisfied with a dummy like his siblings were. He naps throughout the day - a morning snooze, a long sleep after lunch, an afternoon snooze. He wakes once, sometimes twice, for a feed in the night. He needs no rocking or calming to go back to sleep, while his brother liked to be patted and his sister would only fall asleep on my chest.

At three months he grew out of his bassinet and I sadly moved it out of our room for the last time. He slept in his cot in the room beside ours from that day on, with no interruption to his sleep. He loves his baths. Cohen and Emerson love him hopping in the bath with them and kicking off against them with his little frog legs in the water. Oscar surprised himself, and me, when he managed to roll from his tummy to his side a few weeks ago. His little double chin is terribly ticklish, and his tummy was made for raspberries. He smiles so wide and purrs in response to such attentions.

I see so much of his brother and sister in him. Here is Emerson at four months old. And yet he is so much his own little person, and such a very loved one at that.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Around Here

Spring has brought with it the magic of the season, as fruit and flowers flourish in my garden.

The Mulberry tree is covered in berries. While I wait for them to ripen I am dreaming about filling baskets with goodness to eat, freeze and cook with. Jam. Pie. Cakes. Overnight oats...

Our strawberry harvest will be less than anticipated this year, thanks to a certain blue eyed, blonde haired two year old, who keeps picking and discarding the green fruit. No amount of logic will dissuade her.

A blue tongue lizard has taken up residence behind our shed, and can occasionally be glimpsed basking in the sun. He rather surprised me the first time I stumbled upon him. But I am quite pleased that he has found a home between the shed and the fence.

The BrisStyle Indie market I attended was lovely. Crafters sure know how to rock a market, and make new comers feel welcomed and supported. I had such positive feed back about my stall, my designs and my skill. I chatted with many sweet folks and enjoyed packing up each piece that went home with it's new owner.

I really admire Lisa Congdon for her art and skill, as well as her honesty about her issues with anxiety. I also love listening to podcasts while I work. Thus my excitement when I discovered double the Lisa Congdon goodness with two recent podcasts - Design Sponge and Raise Your Hand. Say Yes. Well worth checking out!

Sometimes you have to say no to something in order to say yes to something else. This was particularly true last week when I was offered a market table in the second round for the November Brisbane Finders Keepers. I thought hard about it, but turned it down, something I can't even have imagined doing twelve months ago. However, my darling husband surprised me by booking a weekend away for my twin sister and my children at a farm stay the same weekend, as a birthday gift. Fiona is flying up from Canberra, and while she would be only too happy to help me at the market, I was reminded about the importance of finding work - life balance. Instead we shall be drinking tea, collecting eggs, exploring and watching as the cows are milked.

So much has been happening in the workshop, which you may have seen over on Instagram. There's a whole lot more on the go, between custom jobs and new stock. Sign up to my newsletter, or follow me on Instagram, for more behind the scenes peeks and information.

Here's to a creative week!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Of runny noses and golden rings

New in the shop, Elsa Rings

Last week my poor five year old brought a virus home from school, complete with temperatures, coughing and runny nose. And while my big boy spent a few cabin fevered days inside before returning happily to school, the virus has been much harder on the little ones. My poor three month old and two year old have coughed, cried and clung to Mama throughout the last few nights, and fussed throughout the days. I thought I was handling mothering x three well, until illness struck. Though no matter how many children you have, sickness and broken sleep are no great combination.

In spite of this, there have been stolen moments in the studio. Stock taking and tagging my jewellery, playing with my freshly delivered banner, uploading the newly finished fine, gold Elsa Rings to the shop, and working on BrisStyle market prep. It feels good to do at least one little creative thing each day.

Sneaking in a nap feels pretty good too...

I hope you are keeping well, feeling creative and enjoying some beautiful Spring weather.
I would love to see any Brisbane folk at City Hall this Saturday!
Mention my blog to receive 10% off any full priced stock. xx

Friday, September 12, 2014

Weekending - Kitefest

It's a pajamas and rest kind of day today, as my school boy is home sick with a cough and temperature. I hadn't gotten a chance yet to share the photos from our weekend visit to Redcliffe Kitefest. So I shall leave them with you today, as I take charge of the paracetamol and cuddles. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

8 Good Things

1. A napping toddler - with a bed full of cushions, dolls, trains and Octonauts.
2. Home sweet home.
3. Flowers, always flowers, on the dining table.
4. Our rat catcher.
5. My flower covered Camillia, still busting with pink petals.
6. A messy work bench is a busy work bench.
7. The Mulberry tree I got for my 30th birthday was but a stick with a leaf. It is now bigger than our shed and covered in green fruit.
8. Three month old's, who fall asleep like this.

I picked up my camera and walked around the house yesterday, looking at my little world through it's lens, training my eye on the everyday beauty. There was so much to feel grateful for, so much to appreciate. I find I can always do with the reminder.

As my business grows and I become busier and busier making stock for markets and the shop, working on custom pieces, new designs, quotes etc, I have less and less time for other creative pursuits like blogging and knitting. And as my husband and three children occupy the rest of my time, I find there are less moments for relaxing pursuits, like reading and gardening.

What I have come to understand is that I can do everything - just not all at once.

Monday, September 8, 2014

My Online Homes

I've been working on a few online things lately, Spring cleaning and creating new sites. I am now the proud owner of a home page that will take you to all my little homes on the web - bog, shop, portfolio, instagram etc - www.christinalowrydesigns.com I've always wanted just one address on my business cards and so forth, and this is now a reality. Add me to your book marks!

I have also been tidying up my blog, and gone back to self hosting my images, so they can be more easily pinned to Pinterest. And I have been working on updating my portfolio, which has outgrown it's previous blog layout style. It is now coming together over on tumbler - making it easier to scroll through and view a selection of my sold and custom made pieces. I hope to have the rest of the images uploaded and tagged soon. It's been fun going through my past pieces and being reminded of some old favourites. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Design in a Visual Age

Recently I discussed with Carly Hennessy how I stay true to my design vision when there are so many images around. I found this question really interesting, and I believe it is an issue faced by the creative community as a whole, more so than ever before.

For me, the constant stream of visual stimulation available is really exciting. Instagram, Facebook, blogs, Pinterest, there is so much content at your fingertips. Beautiful handcrafts, corners of the world I would not see other wise, behind the scenes glimpses, inspiring details. And with each decision of who you follow and on what platform, you are able to curate that content to your personal taste. No doubt, despite some similarities, your feed and mine would be extremely different, reflecting our individuality. Increasingly it feels that you are what you 'like'.

The downside of this flux of images is that consuming media can be a form of procrastination, rather than inspiration. While comparison and jealousy can be paralysing for an artist. I think we all have these moments of self doubt. But I have learnt that the key is using this stream is to challenge yourself in a positive way. Stop comparing. No one is in the same position as you and vice versa. Accept that jealousy is showing you a clearer vision of your goal - if another's achievement is making you jealous you probably want that for yourself - and keep working towards it. Celebrate the achievements of others in your industry, as it shows you that it is possible for you too. Experiment, explore, collaborate and use the content in your feeds to help you push your boundaries, make new contacts and introduce you to new mediums, processes etc.

One great exercise to use images to hone your style or give you a new direction is to pick five images that really attract you and study them. Try to pin down exactly what it is about them that is drawing your eye, and how you can reflect this in your own work and make it your own. Is it a colour palette? The composition? Is it an interesting mix of materials? Textures? Use this as a jumping off point for your next design. Challenge yourself with a new process or use your tools in a new way. Allow yourself time to 'play' with no expected outcome. This way where you end up is often a lovely surprise.

My designing process usually happens away from that stream of images. I need to step away and put pencil to paper. Looking back at when I have designed recent pieces I have finished I have been sitting on a deck on holidays, laying in bed at night, and mopping the floor! By allowing life to happen, inspiration strikes. I keep a sketchbook within reach most of the time, to record these ideas. Sometimes those sketches will sit in my journal and inform another design, sometimes I will revisit them in the future, yet other times they come out fully formed and I sit down and make them at the bench just as I have seen them - as is the case with the ring in the above photo.

What about you? What do you love or hate about our visually rich social media? How do you stay true to your design vision? 

Monday, September 1, 2014

New in the Shop - Amor Semper

Designed as a memento for the one you love, this beautiful pendant will remind your beloved of your affection each time she feels the warmth of the pearl against her skin.

'Amor Semper' was made by Christina Lowry in 9 ct yellow gold, using handmade and cast elements. This pendant exhibits a beautiful white 11.5 mm oval South Sea Pearl from Broome, Western Australia, and a 0.37 ct Round Brilliant Diamond, J, I2, on a complimentary silver plated chain.

One of a kind and in the shop now.
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