Outrunning the Wind

Ok, I will admit right at the start that this is a shameless plug for my husband, Pete Ladouceur’s book – Outrunning The Wind – which he has just published on Amazon for Kindle.  I am very proud of him and wanted to share my excitement over this accomplishment with everyone who will listen!Tara & Pete 2008

This book is a collection of short stories based on his experiences as a young Metis boy growing up in Canada’s far north.

The community he grew up in was so isolated you could only get to it by flying from Fort McMurray, Alberta to the Village of Fort Chipewyan, Alberta and then taking either a boat or a dog team (during the winter months) across 26 miles of open water or frozen ice on Lake Athabasca.

Pete spoke only Michif Cree until he was 7 years old and his family moved from their trapline into the Village of Fort Chipewyan so he and his older siblings could attend school.  Because English is NOT his mother tongue, he still unconsciously translates from Cree to English in his head while speaking, and this gives his speech a lovely, lilting and poetic cadence.

His book mirrors that way of thinking and speaking, and you can almost hear him telling you the stories himself in his soft, deep voice, with just a hint of laughter or sometimes tears.

If you want to know what it was like to grow up as a young Aboriginal boy in northern Canada in the 1940’s, then check out his book here:  Outrunning The Wind – by Peter George Ladouceur

boy-running-Ken-Douglas

Water Is Life, Right?

Many don’t realize it, because in our humble Canadian way we don’t really promote it, but we have our own “Standing Rock” activists equivalent and our own #NODAPL right here in Alberta.

The group is call the “Keepers Of The Athabasca” and their mission, to quote, is

“To unite the peoples of the Athabasca River and Lake Watershed to secure and protect water and watershed lands for ecological, social, cultural and community health and well being”

This watershed is directly impacted by the Alberta oilsands projects, and it is showing the effects of cumulative pollution.  My own husband and his ancestors once made their living by trapping and commercial fishing Lake Athabasca in northern Alberta, and have seen first hand the changes since first the Bennett Dam and then the oil sands production have wreaked upon their traditional way of life.  Here is an except from my husbands book “Outrunning The Wind” in which he talks about his life as a young Metis boy living on the trapline:

“It is unfortunate that today the Athabasca Delta has been destroyed by the effects of the Bennett Dam in British Columbia, and also, to some degree from industrial pollution from southern oil sands operators.  Trappers who years ago drank the waters from the Athabasca river and lake now must buy bottled water distilled in France.  As they say “water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink”.  How true this saying is for the trappers and residents of the Athabasca Delta.”

This is my brother-in-law, Ray Ladouceur speaking with the Edmonton Journal regarding how this has impacted the area downstream from the Alberta oilsands:

My newest jewelry collection “Water is Life” will be available April 1st, 2017 featuring pieces that fit every budget from simple wooden pieces to Malachite, pearls and diamonds, with turtles being the focal of each piece.

10% of all sales from this collection will be donated to the Keepers of the Athabasca to help support the important work they do and bring attention to what is happening in our own backyard!

You can find out more about the Keepers Of The Athabasca and their sister groups by visiting their website here:  Keepers Of The Athabasca

Why The Price Difference???

As a handcrafted jewelry maker, I constantly run into people who ask why my pieces are higher than so-and-so’s, after all, they make the same kind of jewelry, right?

Wrong!  Sadly, the reputation of handcrafted jewelry has been tarnished (no pun intended) by the do-it-yourselfer who goes to Walmart of Hobby Lobby and buys some components and glass beads cheaply made in factories overseas and then tries to garner the same prices for their work as true Artisan jewelry.  I am so tired of seeing this, so I have created a basic checklist for you, the customer, for just one of the components – SILVER

One of the first, and most noticeable differences is in the quality of their chain, wire and closures.  Most claim to be “silver”, but there is a HUGE difference in the quality and pricing of silver coloured components.

  1.  Silver Finish – this is the least expensive and lowest quality.  This can mean anything from a thin layer of real silver over a base metal such as brass to – get this – silver coloured PAINT over base metal.  This will flake off or wear off very quickly and is NOT recommended for people with metal sensitivity.
  2. German Silver/Nickel Silver – The name German silver or nickel silver is misleading since it has no silver con­tent, but is an alloy of 60 per cent copper, 20 per cent nickel and 20 per cent zinc. It resembles silver but instead of the soft white colour it has a yellow-grey tinge. Again it is prone to tarnish on exposure to air and will turn the skin green with prolonged contact.
  3. Silver Plated – This is a thicker layer of real silver that has been applied using heat to a base metal – usually brass or stainless steel.  This will wear much longer and with care will last several years before the base metal starts to show through.
  4. Silver Filled – Silver filled is 1/10 or 10% by weight sterling silver.  Silver filled is hundreds of times thicker than regular silver plate and looks just like solid sterling silver.  Silver filled also tarnishes less than sterling and if it does tarnish, cleans up easier than sterling silver.
  5. Sterling SilverIs an alloy containing 92.5 by weight of silver and 7.5 by weight of copper. The sterling silver standard has a minimum of 925 parts of silver per 1000
  6. Bali or Thai Silver – This is handcrafted sterling silver and is generally only found in beads or charms, not chain or wire.  It is very beautiful and high quality but tarnishes quickly.
  7. Fine Silver – Is defined by its purity. Investment grade fine silver is stamped with a hallmark certifying its purity. Fine silver is reserved for bullion investment products; it is generally considered too soft for industrial, commercial, or jewelry use. If someone tells you their jewelry is made of “fine silver” then RUN!

So, if you are wanting quality silver jewelry that won’t turn your skin green or give you an allergic reaction, you need to stick with silver plated (lower end) to Sterling or Bali Silver at the higher end.  If the person or shop you are purchasing from cannot tell you exactly what type of silver they are using, or if they simply say “silver finish” or “silver” with no clarification of quality, then you need to steer clear.  When in doubt, always ask before parting with your hard earned money.

Sadly it is a case of buyer beware sometimes.  I know from personal experience after confronting a fellow seller on Etsy about a necklace that they were advertising as “turquoise and silver” and selling it for less than half of what I could purchase the stones and silver for wholesale.  They finally had to admit to me that the “turquoise” was actually dyed howlite and the “silver” was silver finish brass.  They justified it by saying that they did not state that it was sterling silver or genuine turquoise, but to me that is simply lying by omission.

As a handcrafted jewelry Artisan, I take pride in the quality of my materials as well as the finished product.  You can find some of my ready to ship pieces in my Etsy shop – Blue World Treasures – but MOST of my work is custom.

amethyst-and-diamond-braceletAmethyst, Diamond & Sterling Silver Bracelet

Anyway, rant over 🙂  I hope this has been helpful.  Stay tuned for my next comparison – “turquoise”  LOL

 

 

Mad Jeweler Skills

We are getting into craft fair season here in Northern Alberta, and I love meeting my customers face to face.

BUT, and it’s a big BUT, I always seem to run into people who dismiss what we as jewelry makers do as “anyone can make those, I have a cousin (sister, aunt, etc.) who makes jewelry” and it hurts to have my work dismissed.  Work I have put a lot more of my heart, soul and time into than just showing up to a 9-5 desk job everyday for the most part.

I am in no way disparaging those of you who work in an office environment, but most will agree that the vast majority of those jobs are routine and boring.  If yours isn’t, then you are one of the lucky ones!

Anyway, I just thought I would share an awesome video that I found on Youtube that shows, step by step, the work involved in a simple boho copper and stone ring.

Now you know why we have to charge more than Walmart for our work!  Enjoy the video and next time you are at a craft show, take a closer look at the time and care put into each and every piece!

electroformed-ring

Electroformed Rings From luxdivine on Etsy

Youtube Video of Electroforming Rings

Tara

Happy New Year!!

January is a month of promise, of new beginnings and of renewals of your jewelry wardrobe as well.

Garnet is the traditional January birthstone and is also the traditional 2nd anniversary gemstone.

Garnet is believed to get its name from Latin for “seed” (granate) due to red garnet’s similarity to a pomegranate seed.

pomegranate-benefits

Garnet is associated primarily with the root chakra, but also with the heart chakra.  It is used to balance, purify, align and remove negative energy from all the chakras and aura.

Here are some beautiful ancient pieces all from the Greek and Etruscan periods:

 

If you would like me to create you a custom piece of jewelry, please contact me to discuss it.  Meanwhile, here is a link to one of my pair of garnet and gold earrings – also perfect for Valentines day gifts, hint, hint!

Extra Long Garnet & Gold Shoulder-duster Earrings

International Day Of Charities (Why I Give)

Today is International Day of Charities – Every year, charities all over the world help to save and improve people’s lives, fighting disease, protecting children, and giving hope to many thousands of people. To honour the important work that these many charities do, in 2012 the United Nations decided to nominate an annual International Day of Charity as an official day of recognition and celebration. The reason the date was chosen is because it is the anniversary of the death of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. This choice commemorates the tireless work that Mother Teresa did by devoting her whole life to charity work.  Mother Teresa was canonized yesterday, Sunday, September 4th in a very moving ceremony at the Vatican.

I am very fortunate to be born and raised in one of the best countries in the world – Canada – and I believe that our purpose here on earth is to make things better for those less fortunate whenever we can – even if it’s in small ways – small drops of water eventually create an ocean!

Here are links to my 4 favourite charities – not only do I support them personally, but I also donate 10% from all sales in my Etsy shop Blue World Treasures to these 4 charities at year end – splitting the proceeds 4 ways equally as they all are in equal need of support.

  1.  Because I believe Health Care is an undeniable Human Right, Doctors Without Borders is my #1 cause.
  2. Without our beautiful planet Earth, none of us would be alive, so my #2 cause is Greenpeace
  3. Our world is not only OUR home, but that of many, many other species, some of whom we lose EVERY day!  That’s why The World Wildlife Fund is my 3rd favourite cause.
  4. Finally, I believe that we ALL have the right to a productive and dignified life, where we can provide for our families through our own hard work.  That’s why I believe in the work KIVA is doing.  They provide micro loans to people who are just looking for a hand up out of poverty, not a hand out.  I have personally made loans to 90 small business owners in 37 different countries, most of whom were women looking to provide a better living and education for their families.

Even if you are not interested in my 4 pet charities, I urge you to take a look at other ways to help your community, your country and your planet.  Remember, we’re all in this together, and Planet Earth is the only home we have.

yin-yang-earth2

Earth and Ocean In Synch

How I Became A Socialist, Hippie Tree Hugger

Firstly,  let me just preface this by explaining –  I AM CANADIANEH 😊

To me, this is a heritage to not only be proud of,  but to be cherished and nurtured.  In a world of sabre rattling southern neighbors,  we are recognized as the world’s largest and friendliest peace keeping force.  Although, this is not to take anything away from our respected “Vandoos” https://canadaalive.wordpress.com/2013/06/22/the-van-doos/ or “the Princess Pats” http://www.cbc.ca/edmonton/interactive/princess-pats/ as our troops were known during “The Great War” with their get-er-done attitude and indomitable fighting spirit.

It’s just that,  as Canadians we would rather everyone just got along and settled our disagreements over a cold beer and maybe a killer curling game. We’re not afraid to take it outside if we have to, but we would much prefer to come to an amicable solution through thoughtful discussion and persuasive argument. Just chalk it up to our fur trading ancestors who knew you could catch more flies with honey.  Besides,  it just wasn’t good business to kill off your suppliers or customers – our First Nations people.

Plus, in a land where almost everything,  including the weather, could kill you,  it was a smart move to learn the survival methods of the people who had been living, and thriving,  here for thousands of years. So, instead of embarking on a campaign to eradicate the “filthy vermin” as General Custer and his ilk did,  we set out to learn how to best use the medicinal plants and to sustainably harvest and use the vast resources of animal, mineral and vegetable of the “Great White North”

We are envied around the globe for our beautiful lakes, rivers and mountains – pristine and untouched for the most part.  Sure, we have our corporate polluters like every other country, but we consciously work hard towards finding better and more environmentally friendly ways of harvesting our natural resources and doing our best to make them sustainable for our children and grandchildren.  Camping is a sacred right of passage if you are a Canadian, and we teach our children at a young age not to litter. You will find very little garbage in our streets or parks – we just automatically carry it with us until we can dispose of it in garbage cans instead of throwing it at our feet.  Our CO2 emissions are some of the lowest in the world.  For those who think our oil sands projects are “dirty”, they need to check their own back door before pointing fingers. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_dioxide_emissions

Our Women’s rights movement here in Alberta, my home province, was far ahead of our neighbors . Women received the right to vote on April 19, 1916 while our American sisters had to wait another 4 long years to be granted the same rights (August 18, 1920)

We had universal health care as early as 1950 here in Alberta because we believed that good health care is a right for everyone, not a privilege for only the wealthy.

A woman’s right to Abortion has been legal in Canada since 1969, but only 12 abortions per every 1000 women are carried out, while in the USA, which was granted the right 4 years later in 1973, the rates are nearly double at 20 per 1000 women.  We do not abuse the right or use it as a birth control method.  Life is sacred, but we recognize that a woman has the right to decide for herself if she wants to become a mother or not.

We have a Prime Minister who is not afraid to march in PRIDE Parades and a female Premier of Alberta who will take on “the big boys” of industry without flinching, any day of the week!

So yes, I think we all need to be our brothers keepers as we were taught in Sunday school, to be good stewards over His creation and to

respect the beliefs and teachings of each other.  And if that makes me a “commie, socialist tree hugger”, then I proudly accept the title.

1 Peter 4:10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: