Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Shell Cameos

European carved shell cameo set in 14k yellow gold. Love the flower in her hair and at her shoulder! So beautiful when held to the light!

Cameos tend to be one of the most collected categories of jewelry - and in my opnion, one of the most confusing categories of jewelry collecting! I will be the first to admit I know very little about cameos. I think they are beautiful, and I can admire the workmanship that went into them. I am able to tell the difference between a costume cameo and a real cameo. But beyond that? Well, it gets a little hairy. There are so many things to consider when evaluating a cameo; not the least of which: what is it made from? Cameos were made from a wide variety of materials: abalone, wood, coral, agate, bone, glass, shell, hardstone, plastic and resin to name a few. This post will focus on carved shell cameos.

The earliest known use of shell for carving cameos was during the Renaissance in the 15th and 16th Centuries. These cameos were typically white on gray and were carved from the shell of a mussel. In the mid-18th Century, explorations revealed new shell varieties which led to an increase in shell cameos. Conch shells tend to be soft and carve very well. Shell cameos are carved from a single piece of shell.

The Virgin Mary. Carved Shell set in 800 Silver with marcasites. Pin or pendant. Note the halo detail around her head - just lovely!

Shell cameos are usually 2 colors and have a thin, concave back with the exception of abalone and mother of pearl as they tend to be thicker. (information in this paragraph taken from ezine article "All About Cameos" and from Wikipedia). I have been trolling around on Ruby Lane and eBay recently for unusual cameos and have found several I really like. I sense a new collection. SOMEBODY STOP ME. SERIOUSLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Same cameo from above shown without back-lighting.

Both of these cameos are available on Ruby Lane!

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Along a dusty road in India there sat a beggar who sold cocoons. A young boy watched him, day after day, and the beggar finally beckoned to him. "Do you know what beauty lies within this chrysalis? I will give you one so you might see for yourself. But you must be careful not to handle the cocoon until the butterfly comes out."

The boy was enchanted with the gift and hurried home to await the butterfly. He laid the cocoon on the floor and became aware of a curious thing. The butterfly was beating its fragile wings against the hard walls of the chrysalis until it appeared it would surely perish, before it could break the unyielding prison. Wanting only to help, the boy swiftly pried the cocoon open.

Out flopped a wet, brown ugly thing which quickly died. When the beggar discovered what had happened he explained to the boy "In order for the butterfly wings to grow strong enough to support him, it is necessary that he beat them against the walls of his cocoon. Only by this struggle can his wings become beautiful and durable. When you denied him that struggle, you took away from him his only chance of survival."

May the walls of your cocoon be just thick enough to allow you to struggle just long enough to emerge the beautiful person I already know you to be.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Ever Had One of Those Days? I Mean Weeks? I Mean Years?

The title, the picture and this sentence and that last word are my entire post.


Rare Roaring Lion Pin by Erwin Pearl. Available at Ruby Lane.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Waiting for Spring!

I always used to think of myself as a cold weather kind of girl. I didn't mind the cold, preferred my winter wardrobe to my summer wardrobe and looked forward to snow. Of course, I was about 15 years younger. These days? Eh....not so much. I am cold all the time...I have the worst time keeping my feet warm and have taken to actually wearing bedroom shoes. My winter wardrobe makes me feel frumpy. And snow? Forget it. I live in a city that literally grinds to a halt (ok..."grinds" is putting it nicely....its more like "comes to a screeching halt") at the mere mention of snow. If it actually DOES snow....man oh man. Utter meltdown. A few weeks ago the forecast was calling for 3-6 inches and there were over 100 wrecks BEFORE IT EVEN BEGAN SNOWING. Like, 6 hours before it began snowing. Its like people around here hear the word "snow" and decide to rush out (gotta get that bread and milk), get behind the wheel of a car and tear around town at 100 miles an hour. "OMG - its gonna snow!" *Crash* "Dude - it's gonna snow!" *Crash, crash* *Sigh*. But I digress. While I am not a fan of 100 degree weather and the heaviest humidity known to man (this IS the South, after all...), it is better than walking around like a frumpy snowman itching to get into my car, in the snow and ice, and see how well my Honda can tear it up ;)
As you may be able to tell, I LOVE SPRING. Renewal! Hope! Baby birds and bunnies! Jonquils and tulips! Sunshine and moderate temperatures! That first time of the year rolling down the sunroof and feeling the sun pour into the car and a light breeze as you drive. Ahhhh! The whole point of my rambling today is actually to share with you all some photos I took of my kitchen windowsill. My plants are in bloom!

Bunny hiding in my Christmas Cactus!

And I think there may be a bunny or two as well!

Christmas Cactus Bloom

My "Christmas Cactus" has been blooming for almost a month and my clover for almost 3 weeks!

Clover blooms....I love how the clover opens during the day and closes up at night....

The weeping pussy-willow is a new addition to my windowsill family.

The Weeping Pussy-Willow Blooms....

I have always love weeping willows, but found it a tad impractical to put one in the kitchen window - darn it all anyway. So when I ran across these weeping pussy-willows at Trader Joes I was SOOOO excited! They also call this little tree the "Tree of Enchantment" and an insert instructs the new owner to tie a loose knot on one of the more flexible limbs and make a wish. When your wish comes true, untie the knot and thank your tree!

Up-Close Shot of the Weeping Pussy-Willow Bloom. Amazing, huh?

As another sign of impending Spring, we have 2 birds that appear to have taken a keen interest in my dining room window. (or maybe they are interested in the hustle and bustle of my household? They are probably laughing at me as I scurry around picking up and cleaning up...they probably think I need to sit down and put my feet up. Smart birds...) They come to "visit" quite a bit and tap at the window pane with their beaks.

Our New Addition to the Family....