jeweelry_editor's blog

A Rose named Pye

This is a painting that I did of a rose that struck my fancy. And, hopefully, you enjoy it. The rose bloomed last year and wishing that the roses were blooming this year, I decided to paint one.

You know about my designing and making jewelry. And now you know that in addition to Jewelry I draw and paint. Many very close friends and family have been getting paintings and drawings from me for years. So, it seems right that they are also shared with you.

One may notice that this painting is signed, Pye 10. That is my artistic name and the year the work was done in. You may ask about the name Pye, it is from one of my favorite books, "One" by Richard Bach.

So, from time to time pictures and drawings of mine may be shared here as well as my jewelry designs.

Hope you are all having a great summer.



Wire Weaving

Wire Weaving is a skill that takes lots of practice. And some time ago I mentioned in a blog entry that learning and perfecting Wire Weaving is a goal of mine.

Often in the jewelry designing and making world there is quite a bit of advice and sharing that goes on. We jewelry designers love to see each others creations and bounce ideas off of one another. With that in mind often one artist will help another develop a skill.

With the help of Nancy Wickman I would like to share with you a wire weave pendant that I made yesterday. Nancy has perfected the art of wire weaving and is so kind to help those of us learning. A give a big thank you and credit to Nancy Wickman for her great help in my learning wire weaving.



First Forget me not

Spring and summer are in full swing here in Alaska. Although both seasons are short lived here, we enjoy the sweetness of the seasons as fully as possible.

I wanted to share with your the first forget me not to open in my gardens. The forget me not is the state flower of Alaska. And as many state flowers is protected and grows wild in the state.

The forget me not is a very small very light blue with a yellow center. It is sentimental in reminding one of fond memories of the past. And at the same time brightly looking at the present.

As our daylight hours increase this season there will be time to enjoy the midnight sun here. Yes, it is daylight here at midnight in the summer. Once again I plan to enjoy daylight at midnight. It really is quite enchanting.

Hopefully you are having a wonderful spring and summer.


Catherine Waterhouse Interview Part 3

And we end our interview with Catherine Waterhouse by asking these last two questions.

Why do you make jewelry?

I think we all have the need to create something beautiful, whether it's through painting, textiles, painting, gardening , etc. Am delirious to have found my niche, combining my love for stones with making something that people will (hopefully) buy. I smile when I think about that I'm another link in a long chain of jewelry makers starting with that first ancient person who picked up a rock or bone, wove some grass into a cord and wore that first piece of adornment :)

When do you know a creation is done or finished?

This is a hard question! Some pieces I just know. But others are a lot more finicky. My process with those is to make the piece and then walk away for an hour or two or even overnight and then come back to it. Sometimes the piece says "finished"; sometimes not. There have been pieces that have taken several weeks of adding things, re-arranging things, taking out things, before they say "enough!" and I'm happy with the look. Sometimes I have several pieces in various stages of this process.

Thank you, Catherine. I am sure that everyone has enjoyed getting to know you through these interviews.

Catherine Waterhouse, Jewlery Designer, Artist Part 2

As promised, here is part 2 of our interview with Catherine Waterhouse.

Is there a type of bead you prefer to design with--gemstone, glass, clay...

I prefer using gemstones highlighted with sterling, argentium or fine silver, but have recently started incorporating lampwork beads and copper into my designs. My designs tend to be on the simple, classic side but I have been experimenting with wire-wrapping and color lately. Have also hammered some copper into a pendant and a pair of earrings, although I do need A LOT more practice with that. Also love to hand-knot pearls and other beautiful gemstones. A favorite piece made lately is a necklace hand-knotted with red creek jasper and yellow silk. Of all the stones, my favorites tend to be the jaspers because of all the amazing patterns and colors. A goal is to make a piece of jewelry from each type of jasper, but since more is being discovered all the time, that goal won't be reached - which is a good thing! Love any jasper that has a "landscape" in it. The artistry of Nature is awe inspiring! And turquoise is a real favorite of mine. There is just something very peaceful and healing about the stone. I can see why it is held sacred to many Native Americans.

I also have a real weakness for Thai Hill Tribes silver. The way the pendants and beads are made is so interesting and inspiring. Since I'm a real nature geek, I love the nature theme of many of the beads and pendants. Also the fine silver has a beautiful glow to it, much prettier, in my opinion than sterling silver. Since Thai Hill Tribe silver has been "discovered" by designers, I've read that more younger people are staying in the villages to learn the techniques of silversmithing since they can make a living from it. Like to think I'm giving a bit back to their culture.

I also love to use other artists' work in my designs, giving them credit on my hang tags. Have used pieces from Hint Jewelry, Alaska Boro Beads and Gabriel Studios to name a few.

Do you prefer to work with a specific color scheme, if so, which one?

I don't really have a favorite color scheme but am very much drawn to earth tone stones like the red creek jasper and landscape jaspers. Turquoise is always a favorite color and I've been drawn to blues lately . . . and greens . . . and corals . . . and . . .

Is there a common thread in your work ie earthy designs, pearls, Wedding jewelry? And if so, what is it and how do you carry that through you work ie earthy designs using natural materials?

Nature is my common thread, I think, mainly because I love working with stones, pearls and pendants that are nature themes. Especially trees. Trees figure hugely into my work. Am always on the lookout for pieces that incorporate trees or leaves, usually as a pendant, but also sometimes stamped onto the bead itself. Have also used wooden beads in some designs and rudraksha seeds which is a favorite because of their organic, gnarly feel and spiritual meaning. And I have just started using some amazing boro beads from Alaska Boro Beads that contain whole galaxies of colors in them. Who knows where these will take me???

How important is it for you to create?

Creating is a major importance in my life. There is a meditative, calming quality about working with the stones. I can spend hours working and not realize that hours have passed! I get grumpy if I don't create :)

What motivates you to design and create?

A hard question . . . Am not sure "motivation" is the correct word, rather there is a deep seeded NEED to create. Sometimes I get an idea and NEED to sit down and transform that idea into something tangible. Of course, ideas are very malleable and sometimes what is created looks nothing like the first idea!

How do you stay inspired and motivated?

Nature is my inspiration. If I hit a wall and the Muses are quiet, our three shadow dogs are leashed up and off we go for a slow, meandering walk down to the marsh or along the tree-vaulted roads, stopping and peering at whatever catches my (our) eyes. This time of the year (Spring) is especially inspiring as the quality of the early morning and late evening light is amazing and the Earth has come back alive. Trees, leaves, flowers and animals.

What kind of jewelry do you make? What types of materials do you prefer?

My style leans towards the updated classic look, with a few outbursts here and there, using mainly semi-precious stones. I want my jewelry to be like old friends, ones that you come back to time and again to wear and admire. Jewels that go with both formal and casual clothing. I also like to think some of my jewels might be passed down from mother to daughter one of these day! I can hope!

What have been some of your favorite jewelry pieces you've created and why?

This one is easy to answer! Definitely jewelry that have trees as the focal. Trees are so important to this Earth and, to me, possess such a cache of wisdom if we could just understand. When you think some trees are 800+ years old, that is mind-boggling. How many 800 year old living things can you go up to and hug (yes! I'm a tree hugger and proud of it!). Some of my favorite pieces have been made with one-of-a-kind polymer clay tree pendants by Gabriel Studios. Also am addicted to Hint Jewelry's fine silver tree charms and other nature-inspired charms.

Do you have hobbies? If so, what are they?

Photography is also very calming for me, especially close-up photography. And cooking - love trying new recipes especially if they are ethnic inspired. My husband and I make a great team in the kitchen. Gardening is also another passion, but until we get our own house, I'm not going to expend a lot of energy and money on a rent house. So container gardening it is for me right now!

Part 3 of this interview to follow.

Catherine Waterhouse, Jewelry Designer/Artist

Often a Jewelry Artist gets many questions about the process of creating and designing jewelry. There are as many different answers to these questions as there are Artists. My hope is that through a series of interviews with my Artistic friends that we will shine a light on our process of creating, art, motivation and much more.

I am honored to share with you the first of a several part interview with a very special person and talented Artist, Catherine Waterhouse. Because the motivation of these interviews is to give people an inside look at creating art and how it feels to be an artist the interview will take the form of question and answer.

Now, here is the first installment of these interviews. I hope you enjoy and learn from the interviews.

What are your personal name, business name, website and location?

My name is Catherine Waterhouse and my business name is Shadow Dog Designs (named after my "shadow dogs" who go everywhere with me).
Web link:
Location: Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Is this a full time job or a hobby for you?

Jewelry making started out as a hobby because I had a full-time "real" job at the beginning. But when we moved from Virginia to Texas 5 years ago, jewelry making has evolved into more than a hobby, so I guess you could call it a full-time job with a very short commute. I like being my own boss :)

How long have you been making jewelry?

Have been making and selling for over 10 years now with Shadow Dog Designs. But as a young child, I used to re-string my Grandmother's marvelous crystal jewelry when I spent the summers with her. She always had a huge bowl full me to do. Looking back, I think she used to take the necklaces apart before each summer started to keep me busy :)

I remember spending many wonderful hours with her crystals and wondering about the stories that went with them. Sometimes I could even get her to sit down and tell me where she had worn them, were they her mother's, etc. When I was in college, I used to make chokers with leather and African trade beads to sell for extra pocket money.

How did you get into jewelry design?

I have been enamored with stones from a very young age. Was always picking up rocks and putting them in my pockets. Mom used to holler at me because I'd forget to take them out before throwing the pants in the laundry hamper. Needless to say, they weren't very good for the washing machine - although I could never figure out why she didn't check the pockets herself!!! :)

To this day, I bring back a rock or two from my travels. I can tell you where each rock came from, even if it has been with me for 30+ years! With all the moves we have made, the boxes of rocks are heavy, but I refuse to get rid of them! Most people don't realize, as they walk across, the ground, what might be under their feet. I just can't help but be amazed by the beauty that originates in the Earth's crust due to heat, pressure and/or time.

One fateful day, a friend and I wandered into a bead shop that had just opened in Warrenton, Virginia, The Bead Shoppe (unfortunately no longer there) and I was totally blown away by the stone strands hanging on the wall. My friend and I each signed up for a basic jewelry class - and the rest is history. Up until I started making jewelry, I didn't wear much because there wasn't a whole lot I liked, except for Native American turquoise jewelry. Now I could make things I LIKED!!!
After a while, though, I realized that I didn't need a gajillion pairs of earrings and lots of necklaces, so after talking with Nick and Norma (the owners of the bead shop), I approached a local art gallery and they accepted my jewelry. Three galleries carry my jewels now, in Virginia, in Texas and here on island. I also do several shows a year. Even though that's A LOT of hard work, I enjoy talking to potential customers and thrill when a person sees a piece that is perfect for them. Searching out beautiful stones and making jewelry is an addiction!

All of my designs are one-of-a-kind. I sometimes get asked to make a design over, but I tell the customer that I'll try to make something "similar" but it won't be exactly the same. I also do a lot of custom work.

Spring in Alaska

Hopefully, spring has arrived in Alaska. We have had a couple of snows but that is typical for Alaska. The latest snow that we remember is the first of May.

Many of the birds have returned and we do have flowers blooming. The purple crocus you see in the picture with this went through two snows before bursting open.

These yellow crocus waited until after the snows to opened.The yellow of the crocus is so intense it seems as though one could dive right into it.

Also, later this week our first interview with a Jewelry Artist/Designer will be posted.

April 26, 2010

Upcoming Interviews

Have you ever had a question or questions about people that are jewelry artists? You are at luck, because we are going to feature interviews with jewelry artists.

If you have any questions and/or ideas of things that you would like asked of jewelry artists feel free to submit the question. Just email me at: or use the "Contact Us" button to the right of this blog.

Questions should be about the Art or designing and creating jewelry. We will not be covering questions about maintenance of jewelry.


April 13, 2010


In Nature, Turquoise occurs in the whole range of hues from sky blue to grey-green, and it is mostly found in places where there is a high concentration of copper in the soil.

In many cultures of the Old and New Worlds, Turquoise has been esteemed for thousands of years as a bringer of good fortune.

Turquoise matrix can take on different colors, depending on the host rock (sometimes called "the mother rock").

* Black matrix tends to be favored, as it creates a nice contrast. Matrix of this color is often iron pyrite (iron sulfide).

* Yellow matrix is often rhyolite, an igneous, volcanic rock. Since turquoise usually forms in rock with a volcanic origin, the presence of rhyolite should not be surprising.

* Brown matrix usually consists of an iron oxide, of which there are sixteen different types. The best known of the iron oxides is probably hematite.

Colors of Spring

Before the end of next week, April 10th, we should have more new creations photographed and ready to be posted. There will be several necklaces.

Each of the creations utilizes several different gemstones with some new gemstones you have not yet seen here on Alaska Handmade Jewelry. My feeling is that these new postings will be surprise you won't want to miss out on.


April 3, 2010

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