30 December 2008

Pippi's infamous Chocolate Chunk cookies

I baked up a batch of cookies this morning, and posted a comment on my Facebook page. Soon, I had over 12 comments from my friends asking me to send them some, save them some, make more, etc. My husband is a cookie monster, and so I end up baking cookies a lot. His favorites (and mine) are my chocolate chunk cookies. I adapted a couple of recipes to come up with a cookie I never get tired of eating, and so many of my friends have asked for the recipe, I thought I'd share it with all of you, as well. I always try to use organic ingredients in my cooking, not only to lighten my carbon foot print, but because I think organic foods taste better, and I know they are better for me. (I worked for 13 years for an organic farm in Oregon, too.)

So, here is my recipe. If you try it, let me know how they turned out!


Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a large bowl, cream together thoroughly:

1 c. softened organic butter (salted)
3/4 - 1 c. organic cane sugar (to taste - I usually use 3/4 unless the chocolate is unsweetened)

Mix in:

1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs

Sift together and add to the butter/sugar/egg mixture, mixing thoroughly:

2 c. flour (I use 1c. OG whole wheat pastry flour and 1 c. OG unbleached white flour)
1-1/2 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg (optional)

After the dough is mixed, add the following ingredients, one at a time, mixing well after each addition:

1 c. OG oats
1 c. finely chopped pecans
4.5 - 5 oz. (1/2 bar) of finely chopped Scharffenberger bittersweet or unsweetened chocolate

Spoon the dough onto greased cookie sheets (I grease mine with a little bit of OG olive oil) and bake for 12-15 minutes. Makes 24-30 cookies

26 December 2008

Into the new year...

It is hard to believe that this year is almost over already! I hope you all had a joyous holiday season! The snows in the Pacific northwest wreaked havoc with our holiday plans, and our daughter was not able to make it here for the holiday, which saddened us all. We did, however, have a very white Christmas. We got over 2 feet of snow in one day! I spent a couple of hours yesterday shoveling out our driveway, and today, my husband and I went skiing.

After we returned home, tired but happy, I spent some time in my studio, finishing up a few projects, and assessing what I want to get done before the new year. I have several pieces in the works that I would like to have done before 2009 arrives, so I can start with a clean workbench. The first project on my list to finish is the bracelet my younger daughter requested I make. The second is the partner to a very ornate, tribal-inspired hoop earring I made, and a necklace I am working on using a silver Ganesha pendant I traded for with another Etsy seller. I also need to make the second of a pair of earrings based on a Roman gold earring with pearls that was recently found in a dig in Jerusalem. You can read about the original earring and see a picture here: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27643317/

I love it when pieces of jewelry from thousands of years ago are found. Much of my work is inspired by these beautiful, ancient works. When I was a little girl, I used to pour through National Geographic articles about ancient jewelry. I remember thinking then that I wanted to be able to make such beautiful things, and now that I have realized this dream, I smile to think that one day, centuries from now, someone may find a piece I made, and be inspired by its beauty. Of all the art I have made over the years, none is as durable as my jewelry. My quilts and cloth dolls will eventually decay, as will the things I have crocheted. My paintings may last a bit longer, but they, too, are subject to the elements. Metal and gemstones, however, can withstand time and the elements far better, so there is a chance it could happen. This is something I think about with every piece I make. It will, more than likely, out live me, and if it is found far in the future, I want the people who find it to be amazed by it!

So, here's to an amazing new year! Let yourself shine!
All the best,

12 December 2008

Demystifying Gold

This is an article I wrote for JewelryLessons.com

Gold is a popular metal for jewelry making, but there are many different colors, alloys,etc, which can sometimes be confusing for people when they trying to decide which to use for their work, so I have written this article to shed some light on this beautiful metal.

Gold has been used for ornamentation since prehistoric times throughout the world. Ancient Egyptians described it in hieroglyphics more than 2000 years BC, it is frequently mentioned in the Old Testament, and was used for coins in China as early as the 5th or 6th centuries BC. Early, primitive methods for mining gold included fire-setting; where fires were set against the rocks, then quickly doused with water, causing the stones to crack open, and making it easier to extract from the surrounding rock. The Romans developed large scale extraction techniques using large volumes of water to dislodge rocks and sediment. The exploration of the Americas was fueled by reports of golden ornaments worn by the peoples of Central America, Ecuador, Peru and Colombia.

Gold is dense, soft, shiny, and extremely malleable and ductile, meaning it can be deformed plastically without fracturing. One single gram of gold can be beaten into a sheet one square meter in size, and it can be beaten thin enough to become translucent. These qualities make it highly suitable for jewelry making. Pure gold has a beautiful, bright yellow color. In fact, gold, copper and caesium are the only metals that have a natural color other than gray. Because if its atomic structure, it resists corrosion, and it also readily creates alloys with other metals. The chemical symbol for gold is Au, from its Latin name aurum.

Pure gold is generally too soft to be used for jewelry, so other metals are almost always added to it, and the colored alloys are just as 'real' as yellow gold. Different metals can give the gold different colors. For instance, gold alloyed with mostly copper will give the gold a pink or rose color. Gold alloyed with iron will give a blueish colored gold (though this alloy isn't used much, as it tends to be brittle, and difficult to work). When alloyed with nickel or palladium, it takes on a white color, and green gold is made by alloying it with silver. 24K gold is pure gold. 18K gold is 75% gold and 25% other metals, 14K gold contains 14 parts gold and 10 parts other metal(s), making it 58.3% gold. 12K gold is made from equal parts gold and other metals, making it 50% gold. 10K gold is the minimum karat designation that can be still called gold in the United States, and has 10 parts gold and 14 parts other metals, making it 41.7% gold

Rolled gold, or gold filled, is a laminate of gold sheet (usually between 12K and 18K) which is fused to a base layer (usually brass). The quantity of gold used is sometimes indicated by a fraction, such as 18K 1/5, which would indicate a laminate that is 1/5 18K gold by weight. With gold filled, the gold layer is much thicker than the microscopically thin layer laid down by electroplating, and is, thus, more resistant to wear. Often the layer of gold on gold filled is thick enough that it can be engraved without exposing the base layer. Vermeil, which is sometimes called silver gilt, is sterling silver covered with a coating of gold. The gold content must be at least 10K, and at least 1.5 microns (millionths of a meter) thick for an item to be called vermeil. It is usually produced by fire heating or electrolysis, the latter being the most common today, as fire heating can emit mercury vapors, which are harmful.

Whether you choose to use solid gold or gold filled for your work, know that you are joining countless artisans throughout history in incorporating this beautiful metal in your work. Enjoy!

08 December 2008

Snowflakes and Seahorses

I read the most fascinating article the other day about snowflakes, and how they form. There was also an interview with an artist who is working on a series of mandala paintings of snowflakes as a study in sacred geometry. In the interview, the artist spoke about how the water vapor that becomes snow is part of the God Mind, and forms into six-sided crystals as an expression of sacred geometry. It made me think about my artwork, and how all the ideas for pieces I have floating around in my Mind crystallize as they fall through the atmosphere of my hands to become a solid form in this world, sparkling and beautiful like snowflakes!

My dreams have been full of my seahorses lately, both those I have made, and those still waiting to be born. I decided to look up the symbolic meaning of seahorses. Here is an excerpt of what I found:

The symbolic meaning of seahorse is quite intricate and diverse as this little creature itself is full of surprises.

The seahorse is quite a unique creature, and thought to have mystical significance among the Ancient Greeks, European (alchemists) and Asians.

The Ancient Greeks and Romans believed the seahorse was an attribute of the sea god Neptune/Poseidon and as such, the seahorse was considered a symbol of strength and power.

Further, the ancient Europeans believed that the seahorse carried the souls of deceased sailors to the underworld - giving them safe passage and protection until the met their soul’s destination.

Chinese cultures believed that the seahorse was a type of sea dragon, and as such they were revered for their power and thought to be symbols of good luck.

Sailors have long viewed the seahorse as a good luck charm too.

Symbolic meaning of Seahorses carry the following significances:

  • Patience
  • Friendliness
  • Protection
  • Inflexibility
  • Perspective
  • Generosity/Sharing
  • High-Perception
  • Persistence
  • Contentment
Sounds good to me!

wishing you winter wonder!

27 November 2008

Seahorse Rings!

A few days ago, I woke from the most vivid dream! In it, I was making a wire wrapped seahorse ring. I knew I would have to try my hand at making one, but I can never stop at just one, especially when it comes to my seahorses! I've already made four so far, and the others are lining up just inside my head, waiting to swim out! These tiny seahorses are constructed like my other seahorses (they are 3 -dimensional), but in miniature. They measure a scant 1 inch, and their tails wrapped around the shank of the ring, just like real seahorses wrap their tails around plants so they don't float away. And it is so fun to look down and see them on your hand. :D

More where these came from!

22 November 2008

My Seahorses

When I was a little girl, my oldest sister bought a "Live Seahorse Family!" from an ad in the back of a comic book. Since this was in the 1970's, the seahorses were most certainly wild caught. (Wild caught seahorses usually die within weeks because they are cut off from their natural food supply; they usually starve to death.) All but two were dead when my sister got them, and the rest died within days. She dried them out and kept them, and I secretly wanted them myself, though I was sad at their death. I dreamed of wearing seahorses for jewelry!

Last year, I made a pair of earrings that everyone told me reminded them of seahorses, and I thought, "Hmmm...Seahorses!" I should make jeweled seahorses! I poured through hundreds of pictures to make sure I had the shape right before I began. The design is my own original from sketches I did. Each of my larger seahorses have 10-12 feet of wire in them and hundreds of tiny beads. I use Sterling silver for the frames and fine silver for the wrapping. The tiny silver beads are fair-trade Thai silver, and I hand pick the gemstone beads and briolettes for the dorsal fin and belly. Since the plight of my sister's seahorses has always stayed with me, I donate 10% of the selling price of all of my seahorses to organizations working to protect and conserve these lovely creatures. Now, I have my own jeweled seahorse, and help the living ones stay living. Nice! :D


19 November 2008

Pippi's Fairy Crown - Part 1 The Beginning

I have been wanting a crown ever since I was a little girl. But not a cheap plastic or base metal one, a REAL one. I knew that(since I'm not a real princess) one day I would have to make one for myself. I'm not sure what prompted me to start, but soon I was pouring through Google images looking for ideas (wire crown, ancient crown, fairy crown, English, French, Danish, Swedish, German...). I was surprised at how few really nice wire crowns are out there! You would think with all the women making wire jewelry, surely one or two would have made one by now! (If they did, I couldn't find pictures online.) I did find one woman who has made some beautiful ones, but not the full on crown like I want, so I sat with a pencil and paper for a few hours drawing different designs until I came up with a shape I liked.

About three hours into it now. I have the base and the points wired together, and I have more of the coiling holding the points together, and the support pieces cut and bent, ready to wire into place. Now that I can physically see this much, it helps me to be able to see the rest in my head a little better (I'm making this up as I go along). I sat last night and watched a program with my husband, with my crown (what I have so far) sitting on top of my head. It feels quite nice! I have a lot of coiling to do on it yet, and lots of jewels to add (I think I will put pearls on the top of each point), but I can tell already, it will be great! I will post updates from time to time with pictures of it in progress, so check back later!

Thanks for stopping in!

06 November 2008

My computer broke!

...And I haven't been able to access any of my pictures or other stuff on my computer. I have been limping along this past week on a borrowed machine, but should be back up and running next week. I have been taking advantage of the extra time by making pieces for my new winter collection.

Thanks for stopping in! Sorry there is no eye candy this time!

19 October 2008

A day of rest?

I took a day off from making jewelry today to go on a mountain bike ride with my husband. We rode up Democrat Gulch, a canyon a couple of miles down the road from our house. There are tons of old mining roads that wind through the hills around here. Silver and lead mining brought the first major settlement to the valley, and though most of the mines are long since defunct, you can still find the remains scattered throughout the surrounding hills in the form of the old two-track roads, slag heaps dotting the hills, abandoned mine shaft, and the occasional old piece of equipment.

We stopped near the top of the road, to take in the view and snap a few pictures. The aspen tress are all turning glorious gold, and the cooler fall temps make the climbs a bit less sweaty. All in all, it was a lovely way to spend the afternoon. Thanks for stopping in!

18 October 2008

Little Jeweled Lizard

I have had an idea of making one of these little guys floating around in my head for a while now, and after watching a movie about the Galapagos Islands last night (so many lizards!) I decided to have a go at it. I sat in a sunny chair in the living room all afternoon, carefully coiling away!

I have two particular memories of lizards that went through my head as I created this little jeweled replica:

The first was when I was 11 years old. My family was driving to Wyoming to visit my grandmother, and we stopped by the Platte river in Ogalla, Nebraska for a lunch break. My oldest brother caught a tiny little lizard along the banks of the river. It was the most incredible thing I'd ever seen! It was smaller than the one I made.

The second was when I was in high school. I had worked after school for over a year to save the money so I could go on the school trip to France. We were touring the gardens at Villandry, in the Loire Valley, and I spotted a little lizard perched on a sunny wall in the garden. I managed to snap a picture of it. Lovely!

This lizard is a kind of 3-D snapshot. He is made of several meters of fine silver wire wrapped with hundreds of Thai silver, tourmaline and ruby faceted beads over an aperture of hammered sterling silver wire. His eyes are tiny faceted rubies, and he has spots of multi-colored tourmalines on his back. I used Thai silver cube beads for his belly, to give it that smooth scaly look like a real lizard. He has a wire loop tongue, so he can be worn as a pendant.

He turned out better than I had hoped, and now I want to make more! So fun!

Thanks for coming to visit! Enjoy!

14 October 2008

My coolest ring yet!

I have been making a lot of new pieces lately. I try to make at least one thing each day. I figure, this is my job, I should go to work every day. (I'm SO lucky!) Each piece I make seems to be more and more intricate. I have been trying out a new technique coiling rolo chain into my designs, and have been really pleased with what I can do with it.
I made the band for this ring last night, not sure where it was going, but really liking the look! I wanted to keep the clean lines, and needed a small, simple but striking, cabochon stone to set against the smooth part of the band. I bought this 2.1 carat black star sapphire a while ago, not knowing where it would be used, but it was too cool to pass up! Instead of the usual 6-pointed star that most star sapphires show, this one has a twelve-ray star! I set the stone in a coiled basket bezel, and continued the top of the bezel into two tightly coiled spirals along each side of the setting. There are 12 feet of fine silver wire coiled around the ring's sterling frame! I'm so pleased with the way it turned out! I oxidized the ring, then polished it to bring out the intricate wire work, and to give it the feel of an ancient treasure. The ring is a size 7-1/4.

As always, thanks for dropping in!
All the best,

13 October 2008

Tibetan Coin Earrings for a Cause

I found these old Tibetan coins, and was drawn to their interesting shape and the designs stamped in them, thinking they would make a neat pair of earrings. I used turquoise and coral with the coins, these being popular stones in Tibetan jewelry, and wrapped them with sterling silver wire. I didn't want to cash in on the Tibetan culture by using their media popularity to sell my work, though, and came up with this solution. I am donating half of the proceeds to the Tibetan Healing Fund (the other half covers materials). They have a childrens fund, which helps supply books written in the Tibetan language, school improvements and health and maternal wellness care for rural Tibetans.


If you are interested in these earrings, you can find them on my Etsy shop. Just click on the link at the bottom of this page. Thanks for stopping by! ~Pippi

12 October 2008

The Power of Two

I bought a couple of 1918 2 Annas coins from India on ebay, with the thought of making them into jewelry. I was looking through the pictures in my book of Croatian national jewelry, noticing how turning coins into jewelry has been a common idea in many ancient cultures through to modern times. I have always had a fascination with coins from other countries. I love the different shapes and the history behind the coins. These coins bear the image of King George V of England, Emperor of India on the reverse side. I chose to highlight the twos, as they play such a common theme in my life. (My birthday is 2 February, and if you add up the numbers in the year I was born, they also add up to 2.)

I used tourmalines to make this TWO bracelet. There are 4 (2x2) chains of faceted tourmaline beads in blues, greens, and golden browns (with one or two watermelon tourmalines thrown in for good measure). Each chain is 8 (2x2x2) stones long. There are two coiled and beaded hearts linking the body of the bracelet to the clasp. Each heart is joined to the bracelet by two linked tourmalines. A 2.5 carat green tourmaline briolette hangs from the chain. I love the way this one turned out! It is by far the most comfortable bracelet I've made yet!

After finishing this bracelet, my husband and I went out to eat, and on the way home, the (almost) full moon rising over the snow-dusted hills was beautiful! I ran inside to get my camera, so I could snap this shot. Lovely! Thanks for visiting! ~Pippi

10 October 2008

Welcome to my new blog!

Thanks for stopping by!
I'll be posting here regularly, so stop back often to find out what's new in my life.

The sum of alphabetical order of letters p, i, p, p, i in PİPPİ is 66:
Some words from the dictionary with the same aritmetic sum of 66 are:

sociable, demure, happy, only, whiz, zany, careful, tender, vivid

Pears and Skulls

Today was our first snow of the season (just a dusting), and the days are going to be cold here from now until spring. I can hardly wait for ski season to start! I love the snow!

I went to bed the night before last after reading the weather report saying it was going to get down to the low 20's (F), and just as I was almost asleep, I realized that if it got that cold, all the pears still on my pear trees would be ruined! I hopped out of bed, pulled on my fluffy robe, and went out and shook the pear trees, collecting as much of the fruit as I could. I saved four big bowls plus two grocery bags full of pears, and I am now in the process of preserving them. I have the food dryer going, and I'm making pear pie today. I plan to can a bunch, too. Somehow, though, I will still find time to make some jewelry today, too! :D

I am so pleased with the way my Day of the Dead bracelet turned out yesterday! I took it with me to the bead store to show the owner what I'd done with the bead. She said she got more of these turquoise skull beads at the last gem show she went to, and will just sell them to me! I can hardly wait to start making more pieces with them!