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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Artist Leslie from Elbows Designs

Leslie Bowes of Elbows Designs

When Leslie from Elbows Designs sits down at her worktable in Littleton, Colorado she fulfills a lifelong need for creativity and self-expression. Early on she expressed herself with mismatched socks and a wild sense of style. Through the years this was cultivated into artistic endeavors including hand painted wedding cards and elaborately decorated mud pies. Leslie has an unrelenting desire to create and to connect with other people. These desires fuel her jewelry designs.

When I first saw Leslie’s jewelry designs on her Etsy shop I was taken aback at the bold colors and funky shapes. I was smitten with an idea (which I had never had before); jewelry could be fun and that I could wear something with a sense of abandonment and humor! Leslie’s style will inspire you to have fun with your accessory choices, to embrace a sense of whimsy, and to live with enthusiasm.


LAJ: How did you get started in Jewelry?

Leslie: I suppose the combination of being an avid jewelry wearer and inherently creative person pretty much always had me fiddling with jewelry making, even as a child. I created mostly beaded things, then I went through a hemp macramé phase in high school... but it wasn't until I randomly found some wire in my messy supply box that I really connected with a material. I just loved that a simple strand could take any turn, with the freedom to become anything my imagination produced. When I discovered how many colors wire comes in, that was the end - totally hooked!     

LAJ: What inspires your jewelry designs?

Leslie: I've actually never given this a thought... but I certainly feel inspired! It must be things within me that drive my design process; aspects of my personality, like the concept of unbridled joy balanced with the peace of organization... I ran across a quote once that describes this dichotomy perfectly: "I adore spontaneity, providing it is carefully planned". I could identify with that immediately, and I think it's present in my wild yet harnessed jewelry as well - thus my tagline "quirky-chic". My inspirations are definitely abstract things, though - nothing concrete (except for that time I was so inspired by a homegrown crookneck squash that I had to whip up a silly little wire version as an ode to its beauty). 

LAJ: What kinds of tools do you use?

Leslie: The vast majority of my pieces are formed with just my 2 hands. I find that even with my lettering, a more freeform/organic style is more appealing to me than precision and perfection would be.

I do have a friendly arsenal of pliers to form the opening and closing loops of each piece, or when attaching hardware. My favorite tool is a silly 99-cent slotted knuckle ring that makes opening and closing jump rings a breeze...Best. Purchase. Ever. 

LAJ: What is the process for you from the start of a design until it ships?

Leslie: The easy and fun part is forming my vision for a piece into reality, but sometimes it takes a few drafts to get it right (especially when I'm trying to match earrings!).

Then on to photography - this involves laying the piece on a large swath of poster board at my desk and shooting away, trying my best to be artsy but also conveying the needed information to the customer. When our schedules allow, I also do shoots with my modeling friend, Lexi.

We always have a blast, and somehow through the silliness we manage to get some usable shots, haha!

Then it's over to my laptop for photo editing - usually with PicMonkey. (On that note, I seriously look forward to getting my first "real" camera soon so I'm not as frustrated during shooting and editing - yay!) Once the piece is listed, I do my promoting via Etsy, Pinterest, and I've recently started to explore Instagram. Once it sells, I enjoy adding in a couple personal touches while assembling the order to let my customers know how much I appreciate them.  

LAJ: Etsy is a great community of artists and art lovers. How has Etsy positively impacted your business? Are there any negatives of having your business on Etsy?

Leslie: Etsy has given me the platform I needed to be able to reach people anywhere - not just the people who happen to see me, or my friends, wearing my jewelry. Yes, it is quite difficult to be "found" in the vast sea of jewelers, but I genuinely enjoy the Etsy experience - getting to "hang out" with fellow artists and enjoying their creations is both fun and inspiring to me. Overall I feel like it's a relatively easy and flexible way to sell things that I'd likely be creating anyway.

LAJ: What advice would you give yourself of 5 years ago?

Leslie: Get a shop on Etsy and start learning how to best use it (I've only had my shop for 3 years). Bite the bullet and get a better camera - it will save you SO much time and frustration. And list items regularly - every day if possible!

LAJ: What do you hope that people see/get from your jewelry designs?

Leslie: I hope people see the whimsy of my personality and the joy that went into creating each piece. And if I could inspire a spark of creativity in someone else to express themselves - whether it be through art, music, dance, or even just speech - that would be wonderful!


I don’t know about you, but I feel inspired to mismatch my socks, wear bold funky jewelry, and feel fabulous!

To shop Leslie’s Jewelry Designs go to her Etsy Shop:

Follow Leslie on Istagram: @elbowsdesigns

Follow Leslie on Pinterest:

Leann Burns
Love Actually Jewelry

Sunday, July 27, 2014


Organization is always one of the most challenging aspects But with jewelry and beads it is imperative to have a system that fosters creativity rather than hinders it. Nothing is worse then knowing what bead you need to finish a project and having to spend 20 minutes searching for it.

We've all been there, "I'm going to put this item here so I'll remember!" Do we ever remember? Well, I don't. So in an effort to be more organized I bought a new jewelry table and I am turning my office upside down and completely re-organizing.

Today I picked up my new jewelry bench and organized all my tools and items that I use for metalwork. Tomorrow I clean out the shelves and closets and the real hurdle will be when I get down to the nitty-gritty and re-organize the beads.

Here is a quick snap of my new bench, I'll try to post my organization as I go so you can kind of see what it looks like.

I bought this table for $199.00. It does not have a catch tray but it came with the peg board and all the hooks for the pegboard, the fluorescent light (which is awesome!) and two drawers. It took me a couple of hours to assemble it, but it was not hard, the directions were very easy to understand. Now all I need is a bench pin and a vice.

How do you stay organized? How did you come up with your system?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Covellite - a new copper mineral that I recently learned about and am officially obsessed with! It is an iridescent midnight blue color with flashes of purple and green, it is truly amazing!

First discovered at Mount Vesuvius by Nicola Covelli (according to Wikipedia). It truly looks like a stone that would come from a volcano.

The cut of this stone is very interesting, a kind of tapered rectangle.

What do you guys think?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Sweat Soldering + Granulation = Hard

So yeah. I finally did the sweat soldering and granulation ring. It was hard!! The first round of soldering only 4 of the granulation balls actually made it. The rest of them were just falsely stuck on by the flux!

After several trial and errors though this is my final product. I think it looks pretty cool and really evokes a feeling of another time and place. The blue color of the lapis is all natural!

What do you all think? I need to keep practicing! Oh, and I got my first ring order. Size 5, the tourmaline ring. It turned out really nicely. My best one yet!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Bezel Setting a Corner Tutorial

Here is the link to the best tutorial for bezel setting a corner. It shows a square cab, but I used this exact same technique on the corner edge of a teardrop shaped cabochon and it came out great (see post below this one).,1738.0.html

Also another online wealth of knowledge is all of the youtube tutorial videos by Soham Harrison. If you haven't seen these, this is the best kind of help. The only thing is he has every tool known to mankind for jewelry making and those of us who are still operating on "bare minimum" in the tool department just have to accommodate for those differences.

Check it out!! You will learn so much.

Last night I watched a tutorial on adding granulation details to pendant, rings, etc. I am going to try it later this week. I'll let you see my progress this time! : ) Here is an example of a ring with granulation but I did not make this.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Two Stone Ring

Well, it's no wonder, but setting two stones together is much more difficult than a single stone! I think I set them pretty well (the bezels are good) but the plate is a bit bland. Next time I will try to dress it up with texturing or a little something extra. No, I did not melt any bezels today.

I found a great tutorial online about setting the corners of square cabochons and tear drop cabochons. I followed the directions exactly and the corner of the bezel on the tear drop cabochon came out great! I was so happy!

In the future I'm going to try to take more pictures of the process.

The other day I also made this simple peach moonstone ring. It turned out fine, it's just small, it only fits my pinky! : )

I need to save up and get some organization systems put in place. Honestly, my work table is so messy.

Well, that's it for now!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Rings and Moonstones

I made another ring tonight. It turned out pretty good. I have a bit more to perfect on the split band. That's tricky, getting each 1/2 of the split to not only be the exact same size but also bend in the exact same way. I would say I was 70% successful. It's not perfect, but it is handmade.

Also the larger the stone is the more important it is that the bezel fits tight. I didn't melt my bezel today! Yay!

Oh, and by the way, natural gemstones are so much better than man made, man enhanced, whatever. My opinion.

So, I picked up these peach moonstones today. I guess I'll be working on this tomorrow before fireworks. Or I may just leave it for Saturday.

Metalsmithing / New items

I decided awhile ago that it would be important to add metalsmithing into my jewelry lines. I have been practicing and working hard (metalsmithing is not easy!). Here are some of my newest creations, I hope that you like them.

Getting the bezels to fit around the stones is challenging and then soldering the bezels is challenging. If the flame isn't hot enough then your solder doesn't actually chemically bond with the silver, if the flame is too hot you can overheat the solder and melt the silver bezel. I think I melted 3 bezels before I ever actually got one right! LOL!

On this one I left the base plate beneath the stone a little larger so it has more presence on the finger. I think it worked out pretty well. The light pink is a bit brighter than the dark peach tourmaline.

I am feeling really proud of these earrings! They were so hard to make!! The silver kept hardening under the pressure of the hammering and so I think I annealed the silver (made it soft again) 4 to 5 times per earring!! I really like how the rainbow patina came out in these too. It's different from the patinas typically showcased on Etsy.

I am working on this crazy custom setting for a beautiful natural Ocean Jasper. I can't wait to share that with you.

Oh, my favorite jewelry artist is back from her month long shopping spree from Beijing China. I am always inspired by her work!

I'm going to participate in Christmas in July this year. Official dates are July 10th through the 20th. I'll be posting more about that after the 4th holiday.