Talent from the Handmade Artists Forum!

Seriously, even though I'm a member of the team, I'm not prejudiced here. Check it and see ...

Amber in Autumn

The cooperation and sharing that goes on in the handmade community never ceases to amaze me, and I'm so pleased and proud to have a piece of my jewelry included in this beautiful Etsy Treasury West, entitled Blue Gray Foggy Day. (Item Sold Out)

Funny or Die on Health Care Reform

I'm not sure I know who has the right answers, but it truly is time for change ...

Big Shotz Photography

Extreme talent and amazing photos from the land down under ...

This website holds only a sampling of the beautiful photographs from this extraordinary photographer. 
For further information, or if you would like to see more of Mark Wilson's amazing work, contact me at jewelrybyNaLa@gmail.com 

Honor Flight Chicago

This amazing organization serves to bring Chicagoland's WWII veterans to Washington D.C. to visit their WWII Memorial. My father was on one of their Honor Flight in 2008. The entire amazing day is completely free of charge for the vets, and to say that they are given the royal treatment doesn't even begin to cover it. There aren't enough superlatives to describe how wonderful the Honor Flight Chicago organization is and the attention to detail that goes into each and every one of their special flights.

Please, if you know a WWII veteran, whether in the Chicago area or elsewhere, let them know about Honor Flight.

Handy Tips

Stretchy Cord 
Tie the ends in a square knot and placing a drop of jeweler's glue on the knot. This works best with necklaces that don't have a lot of weight.

Bead Boards 
A bead board makes it easier to see what your finished necklace will look like. Start your design at the bottom (at zero), and work your way up toward the ends. The numbers on the board tell you how long your finished design will be.

Oxidizing with an Egg? 
Yes you can. I thought this was just too cool, and here's how you do it:
Simply place your silver jewelry in a plastic bag (larger pieces work better with this process) and leave it open and ready to transfer the eggs to as soon as they're finished cooking. The size of the bag depends on how much jewelry you're oxidizing (the bag needs to be big enough so pieces don't touch each other in bag). 
Hard boil 3 or 4 eggs depending on how much jewelry you're working with.  Remove the cooked eggs from the boiling water, and place them in the open plastic bag. (It doesn't matter if they touch the jewelry.) 
Now here's the fun part! Close the bag almost all the way and crush the eggs,  (especially the yolks, cuz that's where all the good stuff is), using a utensil or other object to protect your hands from the hot eggs. Close the bag completely when you're done crushing. 
Turn the bag over several times during the oxidation process, making sure jewelry pieces remain separated. This step allows for even oxidation. 
Your jewelry will gradually begin to turn that lovely grayish-black color. Waiting time can be anywhere from minutes to hours to overnight, depending on the look you wish to achieve.
When your ideal level of oxidation has been reached, simply remove jewelry from bag and throw away the mess. No muss, no fuss!
Wash your jewelry using clear water or a mild soap and water solution. Shine your newly oxidized silver using fine (0000) steel wool  or a polishing cloth. Steel wool can create scratches if you're not careful, so if you're worried about that, stick to the polishing cloth. 

Liver of Sulfur 
Liver of sulfur is another way to create an aged look in metal jewelry. Soak your metal jewelry in liver of sulfur and wait until it darkens the surface and settles into the recesses of the piece. After the look you want is achieved, rinse the jewelry and shine with a polishing cloth. 

(Item Sold Out)

Web 2.0

My kingdom to anyone who can explain this to me in real layman's terms. I've been trying like crazy to fling myself into the world of Internet marketing in order to get myself thousands--scratch that, millions--of visitors to my Etsy shop, blog, website, you name it. Of course, those attempts have failed miserably ... maybe I'm just not holding my mouth right. 

I know what tags are, but I don't know how to use them anywhere but on Etsy and Flickr. Keywords, meta tags and wikis? Oh my! How are these used to market a product? How do you use RSS feeds? Why won't my hashmarks on Twitter work anymore? Okay, that last one really didn't have much to do with marketing in general, it's just something I've been struggling with on my own Twitter account. As long as I'm asking why, why doesn't Twitter have a good "Contact Us" feature? Am I the only one asking these questions?

These (aside from the last one) are just a few of the things about Internet marketing that boggle my mind. I swear, if I ever figure this thing out, I'll be more than happy to pass along the secrets, unlike the snooty Internet savvy people I've seen teasing people with their vast knowledge of the ins and outs of Internet marketing. Of course, unless one can come up with cash to unlock the great Web 2.0 mysteries, these types don't fork over much of anything in the way of useful information. I can't watch one more Web 2.0 video on You Tube only to walk away even more frustrated at the end and sure that I'm the only one in the universe who still doesn't "get it." Sigh.

Etsy's Response to the Google Marketplace Problem

The Story Behind the jewelry by NaLa Logo

The rose I use for my jewelry by NaLa brand/logo is actually a rose from our next door neighbor's yard. She presented me with the flower in the photograph for my birthday one year, because she knows how very much I adore that particular rose bush in her yard. Eleanor has had that rose bush for as long as I can remember, and it's taller than I am now (and I'm almost 6' tall). Each year, it produces literally hundreds of the largest, prettiest, most fragrant roses you'll ever see.  The rose she gave me was so beautiful, I took a photo of it to enjoy long after the rose itself was spent.

A while back, Eleanor was beginning to get a little water in her basement during rainstorms and was thinking about having her home waterproofed. The man bidding on the job told her he'd have to move her rose bush to get the job done. Needless to say, the thought of someone digging up her beloved plant wasn't very appealing to Eleanor, and she agonized over the notion. That rose bush is like an old friend to her. Actually, we're all smitten with it and its glorious blooms.

It's the funniest thing, but we haven't seen hide nor hair of that waterproofing guy around these parts after that first day. I have a funny feeling we won't be seeing him again any time soon--at least not if it means moving that rose bush. And if worse comes to worst, we'll all get our mops and buckets and head on over to Eleanor's house the next time it rains. Anything to save that rose ...

Update: The rose bush was eventually--and lovingly--dug up and moved to waterproof the house. It's alive and well in its new location, despite the trimming which was needed to move it, and it continues to amaze and delight us with its glorious blooms.
Made up of beautiful black hematite, crystal glass and metal flower beads, this set positively screams sparkle and shine! The necklace features a 1 1/2" black metal heart shaped pendant hanging from a delicate silver plated chain. The matching hematite and crystal glass earrings are 1 1/2" long and dangle from tarnish resistant, hypoallergenic surgical steel ear wires. Equally perfect for the office or as the finishing touch to add just the right dramatic flair to your favorite outfit!