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The Joy and Healing of Writing

The Joy and Healing of Writing by Yol SwanLately, I have been focusing my energy and attention on creative writing more than jewelry making. My life has taken quite a turn, with my 13-year marriage reaching an end a couple months ago, and writing has proven to be one of the most gratifying and therapeutic things I’ve ever done (excluding meditation).

I had previously written about what I thought the purpose of making jewelry was (aside from the obvious creative outlet it provides) on my post Why Am I a Jewelry Designer? Just as life had been pounding and shaping me through many trials over the last few years, I was actually expressing that in my jewelry making. You know, as within, so without.

Now the Universe seems to be orchestrating a new phase in my life, with jewelry making slowing down considerably, and the drive and need to write proportionately increasing. Aside from my Spiritual Poetry & Other Self-Reflections blog, which I invite you to visit, I am focusing on a self-help book I have been working on (on and off) for a few months now.

Interestingly enough (just in case you don’t believe in synchronicity), the book is about the self-healing tools I have learned over 27 years, which have helped me to face my life’s obstacles and pain, to grow both emotionally and spiritually. Now they are been put to the test through my current circumstances, and have proven—once again— to be amazingly effective. I just love when life gives me the opportunity to see how much I have grown by challenging me with events I have to overcome! I certainly am, now more than ever, ready to share what I have been gifted with, to help others grow and find more inner peace, including my abilities as an Intuitive Spiritual Counselor and Life & Business Coach. To check what I am up to, visit:

Yol Swan: Intuitive Spiritual Counselor, Life & Business Coach

Happy Holidays!

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Marshall Handmade Market Arts & Crafts Show

Peace, Fine Silver Pendant by Sacred Jewelry & Yoga DesignsI was finally able to take some pictures of my new silver jewelry designs I am bringing to the Marshall Handmade Market, which is happening this Saturday, November 20th, from 10 to 5, at the Marshal High Studios in Blannahasset (Blannerhasset?) Island, NC. This is a place I had never been to before. I went today to start setting up and was very inspired by all the studios there. The building is an old school that was renovated for this purpose, and the place is just beautiful. It is nested in the mountains and to get there you drive along the French Broad River. It feels so peaceful and full of energy!

Many Blessings, Silver Pendant by Sacred Jewelry & Yoga DesignsAs I got into downtown Marshal I saw a sign that said something like, ”Marshall: the jewel of the Blue Ridge Mountains.“ I couldn’t agree more. The town is so quaint and gorgeous! There are cozy little cafés, galleries, beautiful architecture (such as the building that holds the Court House), and friendly people everywhere you go. Anyway, I hope you can make it tomorrow to the Arts & Crafts Show. There will be good music, good food, and about 30 artists selling their handmade creations.

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Between Jewelry and Writing…

My personal life seems to be going through some big changes right now, and I find myself spending more time writing than making jewelry. Perhaps it is also that winter is approaching and I tend to become more of a hermit than usual. In any case, I have some new designs for my last show of the year, in Marshall, NC, and I will post them as soon as I get to photograph them (or at least some). Stay tuned!

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Fundraiser Craft Show at Asheville’s Biltmore Mall

Wisdom Fox by Sacred Jewelry & Yoga DesignsI will be setting up shop with my handmade jewelry designs this Saturday, November 6th, from 10 to 8, and Sunday, November 7th, from 12 to 6, inside the Biltmore Mall in Asheville, NC, to support a fund raising event for the Fire Department. I know there will be a raffle, but I am not sure what else will be happening, other than many artists showing their creations for you to purchase. So if you happen to be in town, stop by and support the cause!

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Asheville Art in the Park Shows

After a little break from making jewelry and all business related activities to devote some time to family and writing, as well as resolving some connectivity issues with my internet provider, I am back, now getting ready for the upcoming Asheville Art in the Park shows, this Saturday, October 9th, and next Saturday, October 16th, in downtown Asheville, NC, from 10 to 5. Looks like the weather is going to be nice, so spread the word and stop by to say hi!

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Ready for Art in Autumn Arts and Crafts Festival

Sacred Jewelry & Yoga Designs at Asheville Art in the Park

I have been dealing with tooth pain and dentists lately, which has prevented me from following my regular schedule and writing on my blogs, but things seem to be getting better now, and boy, am I grateful for that!

Not only because tooth pain is one of the worst things I’ve ever experienced (yes, much worse than childbirth), but also because I need to get all my jewelry and booth display ready for the Art in Autumn Arts & Crafts Festival this coming Saturday, September 18th, on Main Street in Weaverville, NC.

Paper Mache Sculpture by Sacred Jewelry & Yoga DesignsI like to look at my booth setting after every show and see if there is anything that can be improved, both in terms of how to display things as well as how to make it more efficient in terms of space, while keeping it practical and easier to transport, if at all possible. I usually have a booth partner, and that is a wonderful thing to have, but I still want to make things easier for both and to be able to manage on my own for shows I will be doing alone. Since I will be sharing the booth at the Art in Autumn Festival, space is of the essence, so this time I will be adding a couple gridwall panels to add vertical space to my side of the booth. I also made the papier mâché display on the photo shown here as a central piece (and hopefully attention drawer), so I want to make room for all this new stuff on the table without crowding it too much.

Ganesha Bronze Pendant by Sacred Jewelry & Yoga DesignsSome of the displays will now go on the vertical panels, leaving plenty of room for my other jewelry on the table, including fine silver pendants, sterling silver necklaces, and the new bronze jewelry designs (one is shown here as an example, with a handmade sandalwood necklace). I will be sure to post some new photos of the booth to show you what it looks like once it’s all set up.

You can view some of the new fine silver and bronze jewelry designs I already uploaded to the my Handmade Jewelry Shop, but if you happen to be in the area, come visit my booth even just to say hi, while you enjoy the changing colors of Fall in the mountains! The show goes from 10 to 5. Hope to see you there!

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Being a Productive Creative on a Daily Basis

Productivity is a term I don’t use all that often, because I tend to think in terms of creativity rather than productivity. But beyond the semantics of it all, when it comes down to it, creativity without productivity equals procrastination. Yes, like most creatives, I could spend hours thinking about all sorts of designs and ideas. In fact, I tend to spend some time doing just that while falling asleep at night, and I guess that is ok for the most part. It’s during the day, when productivity should be the focus, that creative thinking alone—or anything else that becomes a distraction from being productive—can become a problem. Like Pablo Picasso said, “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”

Life presents many obstacles and distractions on a daily basis, so I decided to make a list of some of my most challenging ones and find solutions to tackle them on a daily basis as well:

1. The E-Mail Trap. Reading email can take hours, especially if you are like me and get work related email and personal message from friends, organizations, blogs, and loops you belong to. A lot of those email messages have links that you click on to read a post, go to a specific web page, fill out a form to support a cause, and so on, which in turn may lead to other pages, so before you know it you can find yourself surfing the web for hours. Yes, there is wonderful information to be found out there, but each minute you spend online is one productive minute you are losing for yourself.

My Solution: Scan your email messages earlier in the day and choose only the ones related to work, those that you need to reply to during business hours. Reply to those and close your email application. In other words, save all the non-work related email for the evening, and forget about it. You can quickly scan only for work related email during a break in your day, but avoid checking your email every 10 minutes!

2. The Facebook Trap. Whether it is to connect with friends and family or to promote a business, Facebook has become this huge social hub that everyone belongs to. Nothing wrong with that, as long as the time you spend on FB doesn’t take away from your productivity.

My Solution: If you have a FB page, visit it only once or twice a day, check if you have any new comments you need to respond to, post something on your wall if you have something to say, and sign out of FB. You can check what your friends are doing and posting about later in the evening.

3. The Blogging Trap. Yes, blogging has also become a big part in a lot of people’s lives, including mine, yet it can also take so much time to do this on a daily basis that it can also become a hindrance to productivity. As part of a marketing campaign, it is fine to spend some time blogging or visiting other people’s blogs, as long as you don’t get lost in the blogosphere, which can happen very easily!

My Solution: Blog in the evening and don’t try to finish a post at once if it is taking too long. In other words, give yourself the time to write the post, but limit it to what feels ok to you in terms of time, and leave it for the following day if it’s not done. Don’t think that you need to finish the post at once, if it’s not flowing smoothly, and take your time, or spread it in installments. Just don’t spend all evening with one post. If blogging is your main business, then this wouldn’t necessarily apply to you, of course.

4. The Self-Sabotage Trap. Well, anything can go in this category, really. We can find a million ways to sabotage productivity—from watching TV and doing house chores to unexplainable reasons to justify why we don’t just go into the studio and work. The important thing here is to identify how we do it, how we sabotage our productivity and utilize the time we should be spending creating something that fulfills us, and redirect that energy toward productivity.

My Solution: Set up a schedule and stick to it. Get things that need to be taken care of (work, house chores, email, FB, marketing, etc.) earlier in the day or later in the evening, depending on what works best for you, and leave a good chunk of the day for productivity and only that. Allow no distractions and no interruptions. Before you start creating, sit for 10-15 minutes in meditation to help you focus, release all stress, and clear your mind of other concerns. Now get to work!

Have you found your own way of being (and staying) a productive creative? I’d love to hear it here…

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New Bronze Jewelry Designs with Pro Clay

After my Art Clay Copper experiments (see New Art Clay Copper Experiment and Copper ArtClay Disaster!), I decided to try a different brand of metal clay for copper and bronze pendants. I ordered some of the Prometheus clay made in Turkey (usually referred to as Pro clay), instead of the other brands, simply because it fires quicker and seemed easier to deal with. I was not disappointed at all! The fresh clay was a pleasure to work with, as it is so soft and moist, and very manageable. After they dried, some of the pieces looked like this:

Dried bronze clay pendantDried bronze clay Ganesh pendant

Dried bronze clay face pendant Dried bronze clay devi pendant

So I wrapped them in paper towels and then bundled them up in fiber blanket to get them ready to be fired in the kiln:

Wrapped bronze clay ready to fire

I am not too fond of fiber blanket, but I wanted to try this quick method to see how hard the bronze would come out and how much oxidation it would prevent. Most of the bundles were tight, but I left a lose end on a couple of them (to measure oxidation if I fire them without the blanket). Once fired, the bronze pieces came out wonderfully hard, with a somewhat copper-ish color. As expected, the ones that had more air exposure had more oxidation than the ones completely wrapped in the paper towels and fiber blanket, but nothing excessive, which was pretty nice to see. Below are the pieces after being tumbled. You can still see the copper-ish hue they have (sorry for the bad photo, it was a very quick one with bad light).

Bronze clay pieces just fired

I brushed them with a brass brush and the color changed to more of a usual bronze tone:

Bronze clay devi pendant

I love the feel of these pieces! They’re like little jewelry sculptures… I chose a blue and green patina to finish these designs:

Patinated bronze jewelry designs

I will have better pictures of these for the web site’s Jewelry Shop once I make bronze chains for them, and I will also share more experiments with the new Prometheus copper clay soon. Stay tuned…

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Virtual Jewelry Studio Stroll

As promised, here are some photos of the new studio set up. I cleared some room to have a separate table to set up my mini photo studio, so now I have three 6′ tables to work with for everything else: metal work, metal clay, collage, soldering, polishing, tumbling, keum-boo, and heat patination. Roomy!

Sacred Jewelry & Yoga Designs Studio

A closer look at the metal work and beading area. I placed my little stereo closer, too, so I can reach it as I am working if the phone rings or if I want to change a tune…

Sacred Jewelry & Yoga Designs Studio-2

Then comes the collage and metal clay area. I brought a file cabinet from my home office (to make some more room there too), which serves as an organizer here and still leaves me plenty of room to work with. Below is the area I use mostly for metal clay:

Sacred Jewelry & Yoga Designs Studio-3

Next is the table where I do all the soldering, polishing, patination, and keum-boo, which is a Thai technique for adding layers of gold to fine silver. Here you can also see other tools for tumbling, pickling, and cleaning metals.

Sacred Jewelry & Yoga Designs Studio-4

Since keum-boo and certain type of patination require direct heat, I use a hot plate. Someday I will be able to get a sturdy wooden table to add safety to this station, but for now it has to be plastic. I set the hot plate up on a thick piece of wood to prevent burning the table! Below you can see the hot plate and the bookshelf where I keep patinas and some packaging materials. I don’t use liver of sulphur for patinas here, I do those in the bathroom, where there is running water.

Sacred Jewelry & Yoga Designs Studio: Keum BooSacred Jewelry & Yoga Designs Studio: Patinas

Finally, here is the new mini photo studio. Now I have more room to move around and play with lights. I even have room for all my photo accessories and props. I am loving it!

Sacred Jewelry & Yoga Designs Photo Studio

You can see my metal clay kiln above. I placed it by a brick wall (the fire place), since it seems the safest spot for the amount of heat that kiln can kick.

Thanks for reading this far. Hope you enjoyed my virtual jewelry studio stroll!

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Uncluttering the Studio

I have been busy uncluttering my studio and setting up a new area for my “mini photo studio.” I have to be able to manipulate the lighting better, which obviously entails having more room to move lights, props, camera, and so on. So I created a separate area for this and boy, does it help with other stuff, too! Now I have a whole table for soldering and keum boo work without being afraid to set my light box on fire. Nice! And it’s amazing how inspiring an uncluttered space can be…

I will be posting some pictures of my new set up soon. I am trying to clear and clean the whole space, so it is taking longer than anticipated, because I can’t do it all at once. Plus, the uncluttering has put me to work taking pictures of things I need to sell locally or on eBay to clear the clutter and also purchase a new camera I have my eyes on. The little Olympus I have been using for years has served me well, but I am ready to upgrade and work some more to improve my photographs.

I used to do photography when I was younger (waaay before digital cameras were invented!) and loved to work in my dark room. I don’t think I have utilized those skills fully for my jewelry photos, and I think it’s time to do so. Boy, it’s so easy to forget how many talents we all have, isn’t it? We get caught up in one thing and everything else seems to fade away. For some reason, life is prompting me to blend all my talents together, so I am going with the flow… More on the new set up later.