Tuesday, December 20, 2011


I can now reveal the Elements by Dawn necklace that is featured in the January edition of Bead Trends Magazine.....(drum roll, please)

Love Letter Necklace

Monday, December 5, 2011

Happy Holidays!

The Holidays are fast approaching! 

If you're still on the hunt for the perfect gift of handcrafted jewelry, check out Elements by Dawn on Etsy and use Coupon Code EbDFreeShip2011 for FREE domestic USPS Priority Shipping!!

Offer ends December 24th.

Friday, September 9, 2011


Keum Boo is the Korean art of bonding pure gold onto pure silver.  I have always admired the art and have finally included Keum Boo in my newest jewelry line.


Keum Boo, 24Kt Gold and Fine Silver

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Product Photography

I recently decided to outsource some product photography.  I did this primarily for three reasons. 

Reason #1 - I am not skilled enough to photograph shiny silver jewelry on a stark white background. 

Reason #2 - I do not have the patience to learn how to photograph shiny silver jewelry on a stark white background.

Reason #3 - I do not know any professional models.

I have left the task of product photography up to a fellow indie businesswoman, Brooke Becker, professional small product and stock photographer.  In the next few weeks I should have my 2012 Jewelry Line photographed and ready to reveal!

For a second photography project, I hired fashion photographer Jillian Milam.  She will be photographing my 2012 Jewelry Line on two beautiful models.

Both sets of photographs will be used in my website, product catalog and Etsy shop.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Bead Trends Magazine

I am very excited to announce that one of Elements by Dawn's new designs will be published in the January 2012 edition of Bead Trends Magazine!  Be sure to look for it at a newstand near you!

P.S. I'd love to give you a sneak-peek of the design, however, the publishers have asked to keep everything under wraps until the magazine comes out. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


I've recently returned from our annual family vacation. This year we traveled to the Black Hills of South Dakota with an overnight stay in the Badlands. 

This was one of the most beautiful, inspiring, and relaxing vacations our family has taken in a very long time.

We stayed in Custer State Park on Sylvan Lake.  We were surrounded by Ponderosa Pines, bold mountain formations, wildlife of all sorts, and peace and quiet.  We cooked over a campfire almost every night and enjoyed some S'mores too.

Cell phone and internet were non-existant.  We couldn't use them even if we tried.  The best part was, we didn't really miss them either...except once.

Enjoy the photos.....

Sylvan Lake

Mount Rushmore

Wild Bison Herd

Monday, July 4, 2011

Special 4th of July DISCOUNT

Elements by Dawn on Etsy is offering FREE Domestic and International shipping on all orders through July 5th, midnight CST. Use Coupon Code "Fireworks2011" to activate the discount when checking-out!!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

HOW it's done.

Fine Silver Imperfect Circle Necklace

Over the next several days, I'll be putting together a tutorial for my Imperfect Ring fine silver necklace. 

If you'd like to create a pendant along with me, here is your tools and materials list:

  1. Fine silver wire, 10 gauge, about 6".
  2. Neckchain of your choice, hand fabricated or conventional.
  3. Small beads, gemstones, or crystals (optional).
  4. 22 gauge Argentium sterling silver wire, about 6".
  5. 2 sturdy Argentium sterling silver headpins, 2" long.
  6. Clasp of your choice, hand fabricated or conventional.

  1. Torch
  2. Heat-proof surface (solderite pad, charcoal brick, etc.)
  3. Cross-lock tweezers
  4. Small quenching bowl
  5. Jeweler's saw with blades
  6. Bench pin (optional)
  7. Wooden dowel (optional)
  8. Steel ring mandrel
  9. Vise
  10. Flush cutters
  11. Planishing or ball pein hammer
  12. Bee's wax or Burr Life
  13. Rotary tumbler with 1LB mixed shot
  14. Blue Dawn dishwashing liquid
  15. Assorted hand files
  16. Center punch
  17. Flexshaft or Dremel-like tool
  18. Texturing wheel (optional)
  19. Assorted drill bits
  20. Steel bench block
  21. Rawhide hammer
  22. Safety glasses

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


I haven't shared any new recipes in a while...so ready your apron, mixing bowl, and favorite dinner guests!

This recipe is as delicious to eat as it is to serve. Promise!

Tomato-y Shrimp with Zucchini and Pasta
Serves 4


1 8oz. can tomato sauce (no salt version, if possible)
2 TBS canola oil (divided)
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 bunch fresh basil leaves, chopped (about 1/3 cup)
1 medium-sized zucchini
1 medium-sized yellow summer squash
1 pound raw shrimp (peeled, deveined, tails off)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
Cayenne pepper or Tabasco sauce (to taste)
8oz pasta (orecchiette, bow-tie or campanelle)
  • Combine tomato sauce, chopped basil, 1 TBS canola oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and cayenne. (go light on the cayenne/Tabasco at this point, you can always add more later!)
  • If needed, peel, devein, and remove tails from shrimp. Rinse in cold water and pat dry with paper towels.
  • Add shrimp to the tomato-basil sauce and stir well, making sure all shrimp is nicely coated in sauce.  Set aside to marinate.
  • While the shrimp is marinating, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain when pasta is al dente and set aside for later.
  • While pasta is cooking. wash zucchini and squash. Remove stems. Slice squash lengthwise into quarters. Cut into 1/4" thick slices.
  • In a large skillet or wide-bottom sauce pan, heat the remaining 1TBS canola oil on medium-high heat. 
  • Gently sauté the squash for 1 -2 minutes.
  • Add the shrimp-tomato-basil mixture to the squash. Cook for 3 - 5 minutes, stirring often.
  • Add the pasta to the shrimp-tomato-basil-squash mixture. Stir well to coat the pasta.
  • Cook until all ingredients are hot (1 - 3 minutes more), stirring often.
  • Add more cayenne/Tabasco, if desired.
  • Garnish with whole basil leaf (optional).
Serve with crusty bread and a mixed greens salad.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Variations on a Theme

I know not everyone wants or can afford a necklace dripping with gemstones and precious metal! 

As a jeweler, you have to keep your customers in mind when creating new designs.  Often I'll create variations on a theme.  Similar pieces with varying degrees of extravagance.  Most designs will be quite simple and classic, but a few will kick up the wow factor for those who want something just a little extra special.

A few days ago, I showcased a gorgeous necklace with nearly 140 carats of gemstones.  It definitely has that wow factor!  However, the practical side of me and many of my customers know that it's not something you'd wear everyday while grocery shopping or while lounging at the beach. That's where this piece comes in:

A sleeker version of the "Love Letter" necklace.  It features petite Peridot gemstones and an Argentium Sterling Silver neckchain. Perfect for everyday wear.

Happy Father's Day!

Just wanted to extend a delightful Happy Father's Day to my Dad, Husband, and especially all the other Dad's who are not able to be with their children or families today.

A growing tradition in our family is to celebrate Mother's Day and Father's Day as a weekend event.  Gifts are not generally exchanged, but good food and good company are definitely a must!

Last night we went out to a great little German restaurant so my husband could enjoy some German beer and his favorite German meal (Rouladen) complete with Apple Strudel.

This morning, I'll whip up some blueberry pancakes with sausage. Yum!

As for the rest of the day...it will center around relaxation and good 'ol family time....complete with a game of Monopoly or Clue.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


So, what have I been doing for the past few months??  Well, I've purchased a few new and totally cool tools. I went on a gemstone buying trip and bought some amazing stones.  I've been experimenting with my new tools and gemstones to create a few new designs. 

This is a sneak peek at my latest design. 

This design was created with nearly 140 carats of amazingly beautiful rhodolite garnets and a gorgeous fine silver "love letter" pendant. 

The pendant was created by passing a piece of fine silver sheet through my rolling mill with a section of a low-relief paper pattern.  The rolling mill compresses the pattern onto the fine silver, destroying the original paper pattern in the process.  The pendant is then shaped, drilled, filed, buffed, polished and work-hardened* in my rotary tumbler for about 10 hours.

*Fine silver is 99.9% pure silver and is a very soft metal that must be properly work-hardened to make the metal more durable and less prone to bending and warping.

The Poor Deserted Blog

Has it really been over 2 months since I posted.  Well, I guess the Blog doesn't lie.  April was my last entry.

Well, let's get back into the swing of things!

Monday, April 4, 2011


Celebrate my 100th sale with a special promotion....FREE domestic shipping through April 30th!! Use Coupon Code "EbDFreeShip2011"

Visit my Shop and take a peek.  I'll be adding new items in the coming weeks, so if you don't see your must-have piece, check back soon.  Or contact me for a custom handmade piece of jewelry!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Happy Spring!

Oh bother!  It's that time of year when working in my one window studio makes me not want to be in the studio. 

The sun is shining, the grass is getting greener everyday, and folks are coming out of hibernation.  Kids are zooming by on bicycles and scooters.  Even my own kids asked for a frisbee the other day.  Of course, the really funny thing is that the weather is still barely above freezing most days!!  I suppose 34*F feels like a heat wave compared to -20*F though. 

I can't wait for the trees to start budding and flowes to bloom.  Ah, spring!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Inspiration can come from ANYWHERE

Sometimes in life beauty just hits you square in the face and you just have to take notice!  Enjoy.

P.S. This is a piece of Tiffany Stained Glass from the Stained Glass Museum at Navy Pier, Chicago, IL.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

On the BENCH

A few NEW designs are in the works.  Most of my creations tend to be very bright, traditional and perfectly symmetrical.  However, these new designs are more organic. Created in fine silver (99.9% pure silver) the circles aren't quite round and the sizes vary slightly from piece to piece.

Here is the inspiration behind the new designs:

The circle is symbolic of purity and the cycle of life.  I don't believe the cycle of life is completely smooth!  There are rough times and smooth times in everyone's life. Some people have a larger or longer cycle, others may have a smaller or shorter cycle. Every individual has their own unique life cycle.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

TEX - MEX Casserole

I thought I would start out my recipe sharing with some nice comfort food,  "The casserole."

Tex - Mex Casserole

4 large flour or wheat tortillas
1 15oz. can of fat-free refried beans
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded Monterrey jack cheese
1 cup chunky salsa, plus 1/2 cup
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbs ground cumin
1 Tsp ground coriander
1/2 Tbs lime juice (optional)
1/2 cup corn (optional)
1/4 cup sliced black olives (optional)
Shredded lettuce, guacamole, diced tomato

I made this recipe using a square 8" x 8" Pyrex pan.  But, if you happen to have an 8" round tall-sided pan, that would work too!
  • Mix refried beans, salsa, onion, garlic, cumin, coriander, corn, lime juice and olives (if using). Blend in 1/2 of the cheeses (1/4 cup of each) and 1/4 cup of the sour cream.
  • Trim the tortillas to fit inside your pan. (To do this, I placed my pan on top of the tortilla and used a pizza cutter to trim off the excess.)
  • Spray pan with non-stick spray
  • Spread 1/4 cup salsa on the bottom of pan
  • Place a tortilla on top of salsa
  • Layer about 1/3 of the bean mixture on top of tortilla
  • Place tortilla on top of bean mixture
  • Repeat bean layer and tortilla layer
  • Top final tortilla with the remaining cheeses
Bake 20 - 30 minutes in preheated oven at 350 degrees. Let cool 2 -3 minutes before serving. Serve with sour cream, guacamole, salsa, shredded lettuce and/or diced tomatoes. Enjoy!

Bonus points for making your own refried beans, tortillas, guacamole, lime juice and/or salsa!!  :)

Thursday, February 3, 2011


I've never referred to myself as a foodie, but I suppose I am one.  I'm always on the hunt for new and delicious meals and recipes. I dabble in presentation. Mix a few cocktails. I even tried napkin folding....once.

Beginning next week I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite recipes. Try them if you'd like.  Comment if you want.  But most importantly, enjoy the process of cooking!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Special Blog Reader DISCOUNT

I know I love a discount!  Don't you?

Beginning February 1st, now you can use the coupon code "ElementsBlog" for a 10% discount at my Etsy Shop.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

AMETHYST - February's Birthstone

Lucky February babies are bestowed with amethyst as their birthstone.  Traditionally a deep shade of purple, amethyst played an important role in ancient times. Ancient Europeans believed amethyst could defend its wearer in battle and the ancient Greeks believed amethyst would protect against drunkeness.  Until the discovery of vast amethyst deposits in Brazil, the gemstone was considered to be precious, and enjoyed the company of similar precious gemstones such as rubies, sapphires, emeralds, and diamonds.

In a way, I am glad amethyst was discovered in Brazil. Now, this gorgeous gemstone is easily affordable to most individuals. Sure, it may not be the status symbol it once was, but one look at a beautiful stone and I know you'll be thinking....."Where can I get one?!"

This will be the first of many musings about the history and folklore surrounding birthstones and other colored gemstones.

What is your favorite gemstone(s)?


Not only am I a tool nerd, but I'm also a paper junkie.  I LOVE paper. I really, really, love paper!

My paper addiction started in late elementary school when I attended  a Girl Scout summer camp.  To keep us girls occupied we did various crafting and athletic activities. One day we would canoe, another day we would do some leather tooling.  It was fun.  But not nearly as exciting as the day I made handmade paper! I can barely remember the specifics of the process we used to create the paper pulp...some water, paper bits, blades of grass, and a few flower petals, all moshed together into a weird soup.  We dumped out the paper soup onto drying racks, squeezed out some water, and waited.  And waited.

But then the magic happened....all that weird soup became beautifully textured paper! It was wonderful to touch!  It was....magical.

Ever since then I have had an addiction to paper. Especially textured papers, Japanese papers, and cotton paper. There is just something special about the feel of these types of papers (oh and I love the look of Japanese papers too). I am definitely a tactile person.

I have been pondering and experimenting with combining paper with my silver jewelry.  I mean, why not combine two of my favorites loves together to create a unique jewelry line? However, I'm a stickler for creating pieces that last, are durable, and wear well.  Paper has been challenging in that it is often quite fragile.  I've looked at various types of sealant for the paper, but haven't quite found one that passes my quality standards.  Yet.

What's your 'junkie' habit?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sterling Silver-filled?

I stumbled upon another "silver" term just today, "Sterling Silver-filled." 

"Fire Mountain Gems and Beads worked for over two years with one of the largest precious metal fabricators in the world to offer customers a tremendous value. Sterling Silver-Filled wire and findings bridge the gap between silver-plated and sterling silver. Both wire and findings have a durable outer layer of sterling silver (.925/20) surrounding a copper-alloy core. The findings have additional silver plating for uniformity. The fabrication of the wire and findings is completed with an anti-tarnish coating to preserve the beauty.

Top jewelry makers and resellers benefit from:
•High perceived value
•A fraction of the cost of sterling silver"

My initial thought was, "Oh no. Another product to confuse consumers!"  I also have a real problem with the benefit "high perceived value!"  To me, that translates to artificial value. 

Granted, there is a place for every type of maker.  Heck, I've seen some really beautiful works of art created from telephone wire and bottle caps!

Back to the issue at hand.....sterling silver-filled metals.  My only real plea is for EVERY maker to fully disclose the materials they are working in.  Do not deceive the public (intentionally or not!), do not misrepresent your craft or yourself! Please.

Monday, January 10, 2011

I thought SILVER was SILVER. Right?

Silver.  One of the Earth's elements.  But what is it? Or more precisely, why does there seem to be so many types of silver?

I'm going to bet, most of you have heard of Sterling Silver.  But do you know what that is?  Sterling silver is an alloy.  A blend of metals, if you will.  I'm not going to detail the entire history of sterling, but in modern times, sterling silver is a term for an alloy of silver (pure) and copper (pure).  The traditional recipe is 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper by weight.

Some other "silver" terms include:
Fine Silver
Argentium Silver
German Silver
Thai Silver
Nickel Silver
Alpacca or Alpaca Silver
Tibetan Silver
Hill Tribe Silver or Karen Hill Tribe Silver

These are just a few of the more common "silver" terms!  Are you wondering why I keep putting "silver" in quotes?  Because some of these "silver" terms actually contain 0% elemental silver!  That's right.  They're not silver at all!

Alpaca Silver, Nickel Silver, and German Silver is an alloy of copper, nickel and zinc.
Tibetan silver is an alloy of copper, nickel and/or tin.

Thai Silver is generally silver with a purity between sterling (92.5% pure silver) and fine silver (99.9% pure silver). Thai silver, as the name implies, is handmade in Thailand by small groups of silversmiths and craftsmen and each group may use a different alloy recipe.

Hill Tribe Silver or Karen Hill Tribe Silver is also made in Thailand.  However, these silver pieces are handmade specifically by the Karen Hill Tribe people. Most, if not all, Hill Tribe Silver is 99.9% pure silver.

Fine Silver is 99.9% pure silver.  Be weary of individuals who use the the term "fine silver" to mean attractive or very thin. When in doubt, ask for clarification!

Argentium Silver is a relatively new silver alloy comprised of silver, copper, and germanium.  The exact alloy recipe is a trade secret. However, according to the Argentium silver website, Argentium silver comes in 93.5% pure silver and 96% pure silver alloys. This new silver alloy is highly tarnish resistant.

I hope you have learned a little about the various terms used to describe silver colored metals.  Just keep in mind, just because the word "silver" is used doesn't necessarily mean it contains elemental silver.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Like most artists and crafters, I live in a constant state of creative chaos.  I don't know why my brain loves the messiness, but somehow it's inspiring.  I often find a beautiful gemstone and will leave it on the corner of the workbench, just waiting for it to speak to me.  Waiting for it to tell me how it wants to be presented to the world.  And there it will stay, until I can hear it's request.  I suppose my workbench wouldn't be such a mess if I only had one gemstone just lying about.  But, I must have ten or more gemstones, a dozen or more crystals, bits of silver in every size and shape, just sitting there, silent.  Oh, and let's not forget the five or six works-in-progress. 

However, the chaos need to be calmed.  Just a little.

And, since I have a few new and incredibly awesome tools arriving for the studio tomorrow, I must clean.  All those bits of silver, miscellaneous beads and gemstones will need to be put back in their proper place.  The scattered tools will need to be put back too.  Finally, the workbench will get a good cleaning with a damp cloth.

A clean slate.  Well, a temporarily clean slate anyhow.  It will be just a day or two before the bench will look like it's pre-cleaning self.  Perhaps with a new gemstone waiting on the corner, getting ready to speak.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Splitting my TIME

According to a survey conducted in 2009 by LINC, 66% of artists hold at least one additional job outside of their creative business.  I fit into this statistic.

I typically work at my studio 3 to 4 days a week.  The other days I am a Substitute Teacher.  I spend my non-studio days in elementary schools and high schools, teaching what ever subject is needed for that day.  Some days I am really out of my element, like when I taught a sewing class (I've never sewn anything in my life!). But other days I get to teach children about creative writing, 80s pop culture, or why the movie Titanic isn't exactly 100% historically accurate.

There are also days when the children teach me something.  Often, in the younger grades I am reminded how dreadfully important fairness is or how quickly a friend can become an enemy then a friend again, all within the same hour. In the higher grades I am reminded of how important it is to express yourself and to be heard, understood, accepted or acknowledged. 

These kids inspire me. They bring me back to the innocence and wonderment of childhood. 

While writing this post, I find myself reflecting on the plethora of special moments I've experienced in the classroom.  These moments have sparked me develop a new jewelry line based on the purity and wonderment of childhood.  More to follow......

Thursday, January 6, 2011

I'm such a TOOL nerd.

I love tools.  The more the merrier!  I'll admit, I can spend hours, no, days in a home improvement store or hardware store.  But, I wasn't always like that.

As a child I loathed hardware stores.  How boring.  Just walking around with Dad, surrounded by things I wasn't allowed to touch.  And that weird smell...somewhere between rubber, dirt, and machinery grease.  Yuck.

That all changed the day I picked up my husband's "good" hammer and struck a piece of sterling silver.  Ooooh, the beautiful and reflective dimple it left behind!

I couldn't get enough!  I bought my first set of metalsmithing tools.  A few hammers, a steel block, various pliers, a wireworking jig, tumbler, disc cutter, files, and more.  I was fairly content with my tool collection, but every once in a while itched for more.  Various jewelry making companies would send their yearly catalog and I would drool over the pages and pages of tools!  It's like when you were a child and the Sears Catalog would arrive in the mail and you and your siblings would flip through the pages circling all your Christmas wishes.  Well, I didn't circle things, but I did have a notepad with the item numbers, page numbers and prices tucked into each catalog. 

At one time, I didn't have a dedicated studio space, so some tools were off limits because of the space needed or the "mess" they created.  Hooray to day I got my own studio space!  On the top of the then-forbidden tool list was a flexshaft, torch and rolling mill.  Big tools. Expensive tools.  Messy tools.  I purchased a flexshaft and torch first.  Oh, what a difference they have made in my designs!  The flexshaft saves so much labor and can create textures on metals that were previously impossible.  And the torch allows me to fuse metals and create rings, bangle bracelets and more.  And the rolling mill??  Well, that is on it's way and should arrive at the studio next week!!

My tool fantasies have been filled....for now.  But, I know I'll feel that itch sooner or later and the hunt for more tools will be on again.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

It's BEAUTIFUL! But, how do I keep it looking that way?

Jewelry is beautiful!  However, jewelry needs a little proper care to help it stay beautiful.  Here are some simple tips to help your jewelry investment stay looking brand new:

  • Sterling silver, copper, brass, and other metal alloys will tarnish if the metal isn't sealed (lacquer, wax, paint, etc.).  The metal will tarnish (also called oxidizing) when exposed to the air. To reduce tarnish, store your jewelry in an air tight container, like a zip-top bag, or with an anti-tarnish strip in your jewelry box. 3M Tarni-Shield and Hagerty are popular brands.
  • Before storing your jewelry, take a moment to wipe body oils, lotions, make-up, or other chemicals off your jewelry pieces with a clean soft cloth. This is especially important for delicate gemstones like pearls, opals, and turquoise.
  • Not all metals and gemstones are created equal.  Some metals and gemstones are more durable than others.  I highly recommend storing each piece of jewelry in its own place/space/compartment.  This will eliminate scratches and dings.
  • Despite your best effort, tarnish may still develop.  If this is the case, a commercial silver polish can be used.
  • Finally, what if I want or like the oxidized look?  What if my jewelry is suppose to have an oxidized or "antiqued" finish?  Simple.  Just buff your jewelry with a soft cloth from time-to-time.  The oxidation will remain in the recesses of your jewelry, keeping the antiqued look.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Looking BACK on 2010 and Looking FORWARD to 2011

2010 was a great year for Elements by Dawn!  The new designs were well received and the development of Gift Certificates is proving to be a wonderful addition to the Elements by Dawn Etsy Shop!

My commitment to sourcing eco-friendly precious metals, packaging, and studio materials is growing everyday.  In 2010 I was able to proudly claim all my fine silver pieces were from 100% recycled sources, gift boxes contained 80% recycled paper, and I was able to find more environmentally friendly chemicals for use in the studio.

Be on the lookout for new designs in mixed metals, soft pastels and feminine textures and patterns.  Also, Blogger only Coupon Codes are coming soon!