Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Say hello to my father
After my father passed away, I began associating his presence with butterflies. No, he wasn’t dainty or flighty. It comes from a story my sister told me. My parents lived on an island along the eastern coast where golf carts are seen as frequently as cars or bikes. She and my father used to go for rides past a heavily wooded area we refer to as the Jungle.
The ground is thickly covered in green and lizards and long, leafy vines entwined with spanish moss drape tirelessly over the trees. The area, by nature, is dark and not especially welcoming. At the same time, it is mysterious and intriguing. One can’t help but wonder who or what its inhabitants are, especially when squawks, screeches, and wailing erupt from the tree branches without warning.
My father used to joke that it was home to a family of royal leopards and that the squawking and screeching was simply a formality. The leopards had to be announced wherever they went, much like in the old days with brightly dressed men and long, golden horns. If you hear them, they must be close!
My sister went for a jog past the jungle shortly after he died. A butterfly with leopard spots shot out of the jungle and danced circles around her head. It was so extraordinary, so very unusual. The moth’s appearance was so odd that she knew immediately it was my father joining her. The next day, the very same thing happened.
Since then, whenever she sees a butterfly she says hello. If she’s fortunate enough to have a camera, she takes his photograph. If it flits around too much, she asks him to settle for the picture. He always does.
The same is true for me. Every time I see a butterfly, no matter what his coloring, I welcome him and ask him to let me take his picture. Much to the surprise of others, he always does. He came this morning and allowed me to photograph him.
Say hello to my father …
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Here are a few items I've recently listed in both my Etsy and Artfire stores. I think both are perfect for the holidays. I have so much more to make, but the summer is almost gone! I'm sure it will be another hectic season, but I wouldn't have it any other way!
Sunday, July 26, 2009
The world we share:
I want to be greener because I love the environment. Well, most of the time anyway. I don’t love it when pollen blankets my town, which sadly is more often than not. I’m one of the unlucky ones. Every season is allergy season.
Still, I can’t help but marvel at what is outside my windows. The world around me is beautiful and I believe in taking care of it, not just for me or my children. I want to save it for their children’s children, so I’m making little changes.
I recycle all my plastic, glass, and cans. I never, ever litter. I’ve switched from aerosol sprays to pumps and my bad hair days prove it. I try to buy organic when it’s locally produced and understand that buying organic from afar is bad. After all, the truck that hauls the organic bananas is leaving quite a smoggy footprint.
I wash in cold water—most of the time. I don’t use the dishwasher until it’s fully loaded and I faithfully turn off or unplug anything not in use. I do all of this to help my grandchildren’s inheritance, their grandchildren’s inheritance. I don’t know what kind of world they will end up with. I can only hope it’s at least as beautiful as the one I wake up to now.
Recently, I was told a newer version of an old story about making small changes. It’s about doing little things to make big differences. The latest version was about a little girl walking along a beach just as hundreds of newly hatched baby turtles struggled to reach the sea. As they made their way, crabs darted from sandy holes, dragging the turtles beneath the surface. Those who made it to the water’s edge were often pushed back by the incoming waves. The girl watched in sadness as the turtles faced one obstacle after another, knowing that even in the water they faced danger. She couldn’t protect them there, but she could do something.
Two by two, she gently picked up the turtles and tossed them as far as she could into the ocean … two by two … two by two. An old woman sat watching. Shaking her head she said, “You know, it doesn’t matter what you do here. You won’t make much difference. Most of these turtles are gonna die anyway.”
The little girl threw two more turtles into the sea and said, “I just made a difference to those two.”
When things seem overwhelming, try to remember that little changes can make big differences. You can’t stop global warming on your own, nor can you clean the earth’s water. What you can do is join the millions of others doing little things to make big changes.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
The Ruby Christmas Tree, however, is my favorite. One reason is that I love Rubies, but I love the simple clean lines of the Tree. This is my last Christmas Tree necklace Charm. I don't plan to order more unless I get a request for them. Previously, I put other colors on top. Some people preferred green while others wanted a Citrine or Crystal. All of them were lovely!
I have these and more at my Artfire Store: http://www.Maggiemcmanedesigns.artfire.com
Friday, July 3, 2009
It’s Christmas in July on Artfire, where many sellers are having special sales all in order to help you save time and money! If you are like me, you like to get a handle on Christmas as early as possible. For me, the season is one of great faith and joy. It is also a busy time filling jewelry orders, decorating, traveling to Charleston for a weekend, making Christmas cookies for friends, and taking care of sick kids.
So why wait? Why not start now? Make a list of family members and friends you give gifts to. Figure out at least three items for each person. Three things they would really like to have. Three things you would like to give them. If you need to save money now is not too late to start a Christmas account at your local bank or labeling a money jar for under your bed. Whatever works.
If you have the money now, start your search at Artfire.com from the comfort of your home or work if it’s allowed. Maggie McMane Designs is now having a store wide 20% off sale. Shipping is free for purchases over $100, so please visit if jewelry is on your list. http://www.maggiemcmanedesigns.artfire.com/
Don’t stop there. You can find a huge selection of soaps, candles, make up, clothing, scarves, dog outfits, photographs, paintings and more. You will find the Christmas In July Sale by searching for “CIJS” at www.artfire.com!
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Beautiful Blue Iolite Freshwater Pearl Sterling Silver Flower Necklace,
Remember, all my jewelry is boxed and gift wrapped for gift giving. Please visit my store for even more fabulous Sterling Silver and 14k Gold Filled Jewelry!
Monday, June 22, 2009
The birds nesting in our grill wasn’t what I would have chosen for them. After all, I happen to love grilling in the summer. Mama Bird must have found this to be the only available home and so we let her and her chicks stay. We also bought a new grill for Father’s Day. Hopefully, the cousins won’t arrive to nest next year.
Finally, the Japanese Beetles…. I despise it! It has wreaked havoc on the majority of my plants. All I can do is pick them off, one by one, three times a day and hope that I can contain the damage until they leave. I’m not quite sure when that will be, but it can’t be soon enough. I have done some research and discovered they give off some sort of hormone that encourages others to join them. If you have four munching away on a rose bloom, you will find more in an hour. It’s kind of like a party hormone. Put out some chips and dip out and you’ll end up with six people chatting by the bowls. I can’t wait until they leave!!
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Making jewelry is only a part of having a jewelry store. There is so much more involved in putting a necklace like one of the above in my stores. It begins with stones, findings, chain, tools, etc. I cull listings of my favorite suppliers and then do a Google search for anything I particularly want like faceted Pink Topaz, the perfect Coin Pearl, a small Sterling Saint Anne medal or a tool for filing soldered metal.
When my packages arrive, it's like a birthday present. I can't wait to see what I've gotten and I'm rarely disappointed. I've only had three sellers pack their wares so poorly pieces were delivered broken. I can tell you exactly what items they were and who shipped them, but there's no point in that.
I usually have a design in my head. Most times I have a dozen designs in my head. I try to write them down when they pop up, but they come at odd moments and who has a pen and pad ready while reclining in a dental chair saying "Yes, I can feel that!"
Once the design is there and the stones are on my table, I search for the most appropriate findings: the Sterling Bail, the Textured Three Ring Connector, the Large Forged Circles, or the Thai Karen Heart that looks so pretty with pearls. They all wait patiently for me to pull one from the group. When the pendant style and pieces are selected, I choose my wiring and view the gauges. Most times, I prefer the larger gauges of 24 or 26, which are among the thinner wires and perfect for briolettes. The lower the gauge number, the thicker the wire.
I decide on the chain or cord, once the stones are wrapped in wire. I love the heavy wrapping, or what some people call the messy wrapping to the flatter, precise wiring, because I think it gives the briolettes a richer look and feel. Still, I do a variety of them to appeal to as many people as possible.
Most of my necklaces are 16 inches extending to 18 inches, but I’ve had so many requests for shorter and longer necklaces I try to accommodate everyone. Layered necklaces are still huge and I've made some as short as 13 inches. They are meant to be the first tier in set or are what I consider "your statement necklace." This is often the piece you never remove, unless you're swimming or doing something that could break it.
I've made a ton with Crosses or Crucifixes. I do a lot with pearls and a lot with a combination of Sterling Silver and Gold so that you can layer it with either metal.
I've also made necklaces with leather, silk, or waxed cotton. I have a customer who often asks for a long, beaded leather necklace which she wraps around her neck three times. I have another regular customer who loves my leather necklaces, but requests the cord be changed to Sterling Silver Figure 8 chain.
Whatever the style, the customer has her preference and I do my best to oblige her … or him. After all, I love jewelry. I think each piece is like music and has the ability to speak to others or simply, to direct your mood. It's what you want to say and what you want to feel, so you should have you want. And what you want should feel great!
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
I really love how this necklace turned out! I've been so busy taking care of my mother, following her knee replacement surgery, I haven't had time to do a lot of jewelry. This past Saturday, I managed to get some hours to myself and completed quite a few pairs of earrings for both my Etsy and Artfire Stores. I also finished this Iolite Pearl Necklace as well as a Sapphire Briolette necklace to match a pair of earrings in my stores. The above necklace is probably my favorite of all my latest work. I've listed it in my Etsy store: http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=26556172
I caught it, though, with my camera. As I cropped my photos, I couldn’t help but marvel at its strange appearance. I knew I had to discover exactly what kind of hummingbird this was.
Lo and behold, I learned that it is not a hummingbird at all! It’s a moth. Yes, that’s right. It’s called Hemaris Thysbe and it drinks nectar like butterflies and hummingbirds. It hops from flower to flower just like a hummingbird and lives mostly within the Eastern United States.
I was a little disappointed. Okay, a lot disappointed when I first realized my prized hummingbird was no hummingbird at all. Then I thought about all the amazing things I had encountered that were very different from what I originally thought they were. Make sense? It’s like wanting a purebred dog, but getting a mutt instead … a mutt who in turn becomes the greatest pet you’ve ever loved. It’s like having to take a flight instead of a cruise, only to discover that Hurricane Denise is barreling through the Bahamas.
It’s like all the answered prayers you weren’t hoping for--or expecting, but they turned out to be the best for you and yours. This … Hemaris Thysbe or Hummingbird Moth isn’t my Hummingbird. He’s not especially beautiful, nor is he gracefully built, but he was the coolest thing to see and he impressed my kids. He gave me a memory and a good one.
Monday, June 1, 2009
This bracelet was made with Blue Jade, Pink Freshwater Pearls, and Blue Swarovski Crystals. I wrapped the Pearls in heavy Sterling Silver and dangled them from Sterling Silver fish hook ear wires to complete the set. I also made four simple Pink Pearl Bracelets for the junior brides maids. Everything turned out beautifully!
Saturday, April 25, 2009
I was reminded of the fact that just as I had packed these items, they were requested. The timing of it surprised and delighted me. If only that happened with dirty dishes, leaf piles, or my kid's dirty laundry. It occurred to me that this moment, this decision, was a challenge. I don't think that God tests us, but I do think he challenges us in ways we don't always understand.
After previously discussing with my children the concept of "turning the other cheek" I was offered the chance to do just that. By giving this church my products, I was helping all groups of people. I knew the organizations to ultimately receive them didn't discriminate. They help whomever walks through their doors and sadly, there are many. More and more families are displaced from their homes every day. More and more children go hungry each night. More and more elderly go without their medications all for the lack of money or opportunity.
More and more people show up at churches, missions, and wherever they are accepted with a single hope of kindness and dignity. A bar of soap, a toy, a clean shirt or coat can make a huge difference when you have so little. I hope they use what I have given them and in return, I will do my best to give more than I usually do because times are more difficult than they usually are.
Many of the expressions I grew up with served me today. "It's better to give than to receive," "When you give, give without strings," "Accept people for the quality of their character" and "Don't expect to be forgiven when you withhold forgiveness." I feel wiser today. I feel blessed and I am truly grateful to all who responded to my blog post. I might not have done what you would have done, but I did what I felt was best for me. Thank you again for all of your help!
Friday, April 24, 2009
The other day, I found a paper bag hanging on my mail box. Among other things, it asked for shampoo, conditioner, and soap. At first, I thought this was a bit of serendipity. I had just bagged up a ton of shampoo, conditioner, soap, tooth brushes, tooth paste, and lotions for donation. I have so many on hand. A lot are samples I've purchased and never gotten around to using, while others are from hotel stays. The dental products come from the dentist gift bags, of course, and there are the make up gift bags. All of these items are unused, although some might have some shelf wear.
I keep a basket of them in my guest room, much like a hotel keeps them in the bathroom. I've often received thank yous from friends who have forgotten their tooth brush or other items. Lately, from a fury of dental check ups and new product sampling, my cup or basket over floweth!
I thought myself very fortunate that a request had appeared just when I needed one. I can leave the given bag at the end of my driveway with no worries. I looked at the bold lettering on the note that accompanied the brown bag. My donations would be divided up and given to several area charities. They are all nearby, but not in my town. I felt a pang then. Should I donate to my town first? Sort of following the "take care of your own" philosophy. It's possible that people from my community travel these somewhat small distances to receive assistance, so perhaps, I would be helping my town also.
I thought about this a moment, wondering what to do. I assumed it was being collected by the local schools or by the Scouts, as they had been in the past. I was wrong. A city church was hosting this donation drive. The church in question had been involved in a scandal a few years ago. I remember it occurred not long after I moved here. This church was no longer interested in supporting a local mission because it didn't like the other churches involved--especially MY church. Additionally, it didn't approve of some of the people who served meals. I should note that this mission is served by many local churches and religious groups.
After this, there was a huge outcry from the metro area The church offered somewhat of an apology and stated that they were still withholding support. This time they claimed they didn't like a few non Christian servers.
So, I ask you, do I donate to this church's drive even though they clearly discriminate against other religions? Do I find a local charity and give my items to them or do I turn the other cheek and donate, knowing that helping people in need is the important thing?
Thursday, April 23, 2009
As I raked away some pine needles, I notice an extremely large worm. I like worms. My garden likes worms. Worms are wonderful. This, however, coiled and attacked my rake. At first, I screamed like a school girl and then, I attacked. Yes, that's right. I attacked and killed a copperhead snake in my side yard. I tried to do it quickly, but the darn tail kept moving. Worms do this, but I didn't know snakes did.
When I was finally through with my awkward attack, (I really hope my neighbors didn't see my uncoordinated flailing.) I scooped up the body and threw it in the woods. Only later, did I think that I might have take a photo of it to show my kids. This, of course, was the day after Earth Day. Sorry, Mother Earth, but it was really icky.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Today is Earth Day, so created in order to make people stop and smell the roses or plant a tree or lay in cool spring grass and watch the clouds go by. Whatever you plan to do today, make sure you contribute to your Mother and leave her better than you found her.
My daughter wanted jewelry that represented Environmental Peace and reflected her love for Mother Earth. What do you think? They are simple, but bold.
You can find these earrings at both my Artfire.com and Etsy.com stores, but here is a link:
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
You can find it at my Etsy store www.maggiemcmane.com and soon in my artfire store. www.Maggiemcmanedesigns.artfire.com. Here is a direct link to the listing in my Etsy store:http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=23019219
Monday, March 16, 2009
Wow,t hat's a handful! I just listed this necklace in my Etsy shop. I think it's luscious! I really do. I absolutely adore the colors and style of it. I also have matching earrings that are equally fabulous! I used faceted Blue Mystic Briolettes, Faceted Tanzanite Quartz Round Stones, Swarovski Crystals Bicones, Freshwater Pearls and lovely Sterling Silver. Here is the link to the actual necklace: http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=22373723
Friday, March 13, 2009
Thursday, March 12, 2009
What I discovered was that writing, in of itself, is not difficult. It's an act of putting thoughts into words and then, words on to paper. How hard could that be?
Until recently, I thought writing was the easiest thing in the world to do. It was easier than flossing, easier than following recipe directions in a cookbook, easier than making a left hand turn onto a busy road when you are from a state that has banished them in place of jug handles. It's easier than teaching a dog to return the toy in a game of fetch, easier than getting your sister to admit she was wrong for bashing you in the head with a golf club when you were ten years old, easier than getting a teenager to clean up his/her bedroom. It's easier than hearing your doctor offer advice like this when you are only 40 years old, "Well, if you were my mom, I'd tell you ..."
I know differently now. This isn't easy for me anymore. It's not that I don't have things to write about because I surely do. I could write about the UPS man who always leaves his packages right next to the front door in order to torment my dog. I could write about how frustrated I get wasting my time unsubscribing to emails I never actually subscribed to in the first place. (How do they find me???) I could write about the casual friend/enemy who never acknowledges that she has heard what I have said when I explain, "Sorry, we're busy this weekend. We couldn't possibly watch your cat, Skunky. Besides, I'm deathly, horribly, ebola like allergic to cats. I could die ... literally die if your cat even approaches me. Plus, we're going away. We won't be here. We won't even be in the country. Seriously, our plane leaves in like ... like 25 minutes. I'll barely make it to the airport. And, I could die, literally die, if I have to take care of Skunky ONE MORE TIME. Saddest thing of all is that I actually like cats, just not hers --and I'm allergic.
So here goes! I will consider this part of my weekly routine. Perhaps the fairy of all things written will visit me. With any luck, my kids won't swat her and the dog won't swallow her. Instead, she'll douse me with dust that won't make me sneeze and I will feel inspired. We'll see. We'll see.