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LooLoo's Box Handcrafted Jewelry: Artisan Jewelry, from Sterling to Steampunk

Saturday, November 12, 2011

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

If you could hear me sing, you would be thankful that I am not about to start channeling Julie Andrews.

No, I am talking about my #1 favorite source for the bits and pieces I need to feed my addiction... to making jewelry.  My favorite supplier is B'Sue Boutiques, at www.bsueboutiques.com.  Brenda Sue not only offers the best quality American made and finished brass stampings on the market (and other cool vintage stuff) but she also is a Mentor, an inspiration, a teacher; she and her establishment are class acts all the way.

At the moment I am in love with her wonderful floral components, like this one in Old Rose Ox and this one, in Chocolate Ox.  Why?
Because with those pieces (and a few other bits, of course) I made this set, which found a new home last night.

They look vintage because the dies used to make the stampings are vintage, but it is new brass, made right here in America.  I like that.

She also supplied the centerpiece for this necklace, which I wore last night.
B'Sue Boutiques isn't my only supplier, of course... but it's where I look first for the types of products she carries.

Full disclosure:  Brenda Sue at B'Sue Boutiques is having a contest; you can read about it here. However, that's not why I am blogging about her shop.  It may be why I am doing it today, but I would have anyway.  I did a private event last night, and the majority of what I sold contained components from B'Sue Boutiques.  If I hadn't found Brenda Sue's shop my art would not have branched out in this particular direction, or at least not in quite this way... and I really, really like this direction.  I am blogging about Brenda Sue and B'Sue Boutiques because I am grateful... and because she deserves it.

Thank you, Brenda Sue!

With Gratitude,

Robin Delargy
Looloo's Box

2011 - a Year of Growth through Change

It's been quite a while since I added to my blog here; quite honestly, I've just had too much on my plate.  2011 has been a year of great change; some of it has been really hard, some of it is STILL really hard, and some has been completely wonderful... but still contributes to the pile. It's all been just a bit overwhelming. As the year winds down I find myself in a contemplative frame of mind... when I have time to think, that is.

Without getting into too many specifics, here's my Year of Change in review... and what I've learned in the process.

January 2011

What Happened:  Neal got in a car accident; his car (2008 Honda Fit) was totaled, but he was relatively unscathed, although he did need chiropractic and some physical therapy.

What We Learned:  That the 2010 Honda Fit is even better.  And that dealing with insurance companies sucks, which we actually already knew.

~ * ~

March 2011

What Happened: My best friend and business partner decided to end our relationship, both personal and professional.  Our friendship couldn't withstand that much togetherness; she walked away from our business, leaving me with all the inventory and supplies, as well as all the debt.  Fair enough. This came as an incredible shock to me, and on the emotional side it felt very much like a divorce I didn't see coming.  We have not spoken since.

What I Learned: It turns out I am happiest as a solo; my creativity functions best when it flies free of others.  I just am not cut out to be in a creative partnership.  I also learned that at some point the relationship had stopped being good for me as well; I was (and still am) surprised to find that I don't really miss her.  Whatever she is up to, I do wish her well... but my life is better now.  I hope hers is, too.  I was also pleasantly surprised to find other friends filling the vacuum, our friendships growing. I have not once suffered for want of a good friend.

~ * ~

April 2011

What Happened:  My husband quit his job of 10 years to go to work for a competitor.  The pressure that his former employer was putting on its employees had become untenable, and his health and happiness were crumbling.  He stayed there far longer than he probably should have only because of the pay; changing jobs would be financially hazardous.  Guess what, though?  Money only matters to a point.  With my blessing and encouragement, he changed jobs.

What I (we) Learned: Money isn't everything, which I already knew.  Let's just say that we have traded our good credit rating for less stress, and it is worth it.  His income will improve with time, and we aren't in danger of homelessness or starvation.  We have each other, and that's the main thing.  We will be just fine.

~ * ~


This year I did every art show I could, and have thrown myself whole heartedly into making LooLoo's Box viable. It's been exciting, exhilarating, and wonderful... but also exasperating, exhausting and consuming.  I have learned that I need to balance it with the rest of my life... but I haven't figured out how to do that yet.

~ * ~

October 2011

My only child, the youngest of our three, moved out.  We became 'Empty Nesters'.  It was hard.  However, I now have a dedicated workroom, and am reclaiming our dining room for, well, dining.  It's been a long time.

~ * ~


We have an immediate family member who has been making a lot of unhealthy life choices.  This situation is ongoing.  It was overshadowing everything in our lives, wondering when more ugly drama would seek entry or if/when we would get a painful ultimate phone call.  Attempts to intervene have been unsuccessful.

What I (We) Learned:  This was sucking the sunshine from our lives only because we allowed it to. We have had to come to terms with the fact that we can't help someone who doesn't want it; we can't force change.  However, we can choose to not be around it.  We choose to no longer enable, not even through passivity. We can love the person while rejecting the behavior. We can choose to reclaim our personal power over, and the responsibility for, our own life. We are done overlooking the obvious and wishful thinking; the negativity is no longer welcome.  Leave it at the door or don't come around at all. Our life, our choice. We choose sunshine.

~ * ~

The Holidays. Family obligations. See above. 'Nuff said.

Early Menopause.  Beginning to have hot flashes and other fun physical stuff.  I'll be 49 on 12/1. Sigh...

On top of the rest, our house was broken into TWICE - both times, my ID or my entire purse was taken.

There are several more shows scheduled through the end of the year, which is wholly positive by any measure... but I am tired. I enjoy them, and I learn so much every time, but I am looking forward to being able to focus on my Etsy shop, to put my tent away until Spring.  To relax into the Winter routine, canning turkey (bought when super-Holiday-cheap), making sausage (a cool weather activity), spending quality time with my husband, who is my best friend in the world, and at my workbench, without deadlines.

2011 has been a year of trials, frustration, worry, fear, triumph, learning, stretching... a year of change.  It has also been a year of enormous personal and artistic growth. You know what? It's been worth it. 

Yesterday was 11/11/11.  At 11:11 P.M. I made a wish from the bottom of my heart.  I wished for... serenity.  I'll get there yet.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Catchin' Up - LOTS of new items!

I've been so very busy lately!  Not only do I have the Yule Boutique holiday show at PLU on 11/19, but a LooLoo's Box Wine Experience party on 11/11/11 (love it!), one on 12/2 and another on 12/3.  I am bustin' my hump making inventory.

I wish I could say I am working my ass off, but that is patently untrue.

What's new, you ask?

I'm on Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/listing/83178898/beaded-earrings-lapis-lazuli-green

On Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/listing/83178475/beaded-earrings-lapis-lazuli-gold-plated

On Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/listing/83175598/scarab-gemstone-necklace-lapis-lazuli

Hand forged .999 fine silver large-link chain.

On Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/listing/83093282/steampunk-ring-watch-parts-forged-silver

On Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/listing/83093653/steampunk-ring-watch-parts-forged-brass

On Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/listing/83169406/steampunk-bracelet-cuff-floral-flower

On Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/listing/83095567/flower-ring-floral-gold-silver-green

On Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/listing/83096564/filigree-gemstone-ring-red-garnet-floral

I've been a busy girl!  I have more projects in the works, too; today I completed the first 4 inches of riveted & hammered brass chain. I may possibly finish it before the Holidays.  Or not.

It's wonderful being me.  :-)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Steampunk Plays Dress Up, plus lots of rings!

Sunday my Neal the Patient and Tolerant took me to Shipwreck Beads, supposedly one of the biggest bead stores in the world.  I believe it - it's HUGE!  We were there for three hours, which is unlike me - I am NOT a recreational shopper. I came home with carnelian beads,  some tigerseye, a little bit of super fancy Czech fire polished sparklers, some metal beads, a string of 10mm burgundy freshwater pearls, a roll of awesome gunmetal chain (below)  and lots of hematite.  For some reason I have been lusting after hematite.  Here's what I made today:

A huge Hamilton pocket watch face plate, silver fill wire, hematite beads, silver plated beads & caps, gunmetal chain

It was difficult to photograph well, so I left the image file big for the close-up potential.  I think it turned out pretty awesome - what do you think?

Today was a photo day: More proof that I am NOT a hand model:

I cast the steampunk cabochon myself.  :-)

Completely hand made by me, cabochon and brass band!

This is a huge 18mm foil backed cab from the 1930's Germany.

Cast into a stainless watch back.

A very nice Swiss watch movement with a prong set Swarovski rhinestone

Ingredients: 12 gauge copper wire & hand tools
Lots more in the pipeline, so stay tuned!

Always My Best,


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Robin's Big Brass Bracer, a Steampunk Ring and a Free Lizard

Last night I set out to make a bracelet but wound up with a bracer. Yes, that's right - a bracer.  In other words, a massive metal bracelet.  OK, it isn't armor so it's not technically a bracer, but I made it and so it's a bracer, dangit. Brass, in fact, created from an enormous heavy 5" raw brass stamping from B'Sue Boutiques that has been given an incredible iridescent patina with liver of sulfur (LOS) and then lacquered.  Took some brute force and some serious whacking against my bracelet mandrel to get it bent into shape, with lots of fine tweaks with nylon-jawed plyers.  It was stiff!  But that's good - it won't easily lose it's shape.

The rest of the bracer is made from stamped brass Art Deco connectors, again patina'd in LOS, and raw brass chain that wouldn't cooperate in the LOS (brown is fine, but not for this piece) so I colorized it with African Bronze Gilder's Paste.  Can you believe these colors?!?

I think it looks Elven.

Proof that I am not a hand model.  :-)

Nice dings and scratches, eh?  I'm pretty hard on my hands.

This is a right hand bracer, and was shaped around my 7" wrist.  You can see in the photos how closely it conforms to my wrist. I wouldn't attempt to wear it on a wrist any smaller than 6-1/2" (perhaps 6")  - it'd need an entirely different clasp arrangement; I'll have to make another, smaller one.  It is adjustable to go bigger, though - most adult males would be able to wear it, if they wanted to.  My son is a 6-footer and built like a Viking and it fit him fine.

Isn't it awesome?  I am seriously tempted to keep it.  After all, it fits like it were made for me.  ;-)

~ * ~

Here's my latest steampunk ring; the glue hasn't set yet and it'll need some final cleanup, but I think it looks pretty sweet! That clear AB rhinestone is in a pronged brass setting, which you just don't see done very often.

~ * ~

And finally... I freed that poor lizard. 

There's a filigree hanger on the back - I just need to figure out what sort of necklace would look best with this fella.  Isn't he wonderful?

Until next time,


Friday, September 23, 2011

Lapis Earrings, Floral Locket, and 'Stuck Between a Rock and a Hard Place'

I decided to make some lapis earrings to go with the necklace I made yesterday.  They aren't an exact match, but I think they are completely gorgeous.  What say you?

I'm on Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/listing/82413282/beaded-earrings-lapis-lazuli-gold-silver
Those gorgeous bead caps are from B'Sue Boutiques, in her stunning heavy Silverware Silverplate finish. The embellished ear wires I made myself, by hand; they compliment the dangles quite nicely, I think.  I am super pleased with these.

~ * ~

Remember that locket I showed you yesterday?  Well, here it is:

I tinted the chain and filigree connectors to match, although the green tint is proving elusive to photograph.  It made me use bad words, grrr.....

~ * ~ 

Proof that Robin needs (a) a frontal lobotomy, or (b) a bottle in front of me.

I think I'll go with (b).

(Specifically, a very good Rioja Reserva.)

~ * ~ 

And now to finish up my Wild Victorian Wine Chick necklace, so stay tuned.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Ringa Ding Ding, it's Steampunk Stewie! Plus a Floral Locket, Lapis Lazuli & Steampunk Cabochons

I thought it would be fun to post pics of the three steampunk rings I've made so far.  Imagine my amazement when I downloaded the photos from my camera and saw...

I'm on Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/listing/82395969/steampunk-ring-watch-parts-forged-copper

Evil Steampunk Stewie!!!  I can't be the only one that sees that smirking, simpering little demon child in this ring, am I?  I swear it was not intentional; I didn't even see it until I looked at the photos.  I love life's little surprises.

Two more rings - these aren't possessed, at least not that I've noticed...

I'm on Etsy! http://www.etsy.com/listing/82351203/steampunk-ring-genuine-watch-gears-parts

Here's a large locket I am working on - the center floral is cast resin, from a mold I took off an antique carnelian brooch.  I painted it with Gilder's Paste, and tinted the locket to match.  i like it.  :-)

I finished a necklace this morning; it's lapis, gold plated beads and silver plated beads on jeweler's brass (aka Red Brass, Merlin's Gold) wire. The lapis beads have both gold and silver metallic inclusions so I decided to mix metals, and I am so very glad I did.  I like it!  This one's going to go up on Etsy, too.

I'm on Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/listing/82359593/gemstone-necklace-lapis-lazuli-gold

I also unmolded a whole bunch of cast resin steampunk cabochons, some of which I am especially pleased with. I'm going to have some fun with these!

'Twas a good day in LooLoo's Box!

Until next time,


Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Brass, that is... that wonderful toasty gingerbread cookie nearly-copper color that old brass can get when it's indifferently stored.  I scored some old vintage brass recently and decided to play with a few pieces of filigree today.  Here's how it looked before; it was rough feeling and very dark and dull-looking.
Grungy old gingerbread brass filigree
I got out the metal file and elbow grease and went to work smoothing rough edges and then rubbing, rubbing and rubbing some more... then some buffing and polishing, followed by more rubbing.  When I got the metal whipped into shape I wired the two pieces together to make this flower.

After a generous application of elbow grease

Much better, eh?
 It isn't finished, or course; it needs something else in the center, perhaps, and then I need to decide what to do with it, but isn't the metal lovely?  This is what really old brass can look like.

Check out this cool old vintage copper chain I scored, too!  It took a lot of rubbing and polishing to get this into shape, but it was worth the effort!

What do you think that flower should be?  It's large, 2-1/2" in diameter - a pendant?  A brooch?  A hair ornament?  The answer will come to me in time, but I always welcome other people's input.  Sometimes I'm too close to see.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My Big Bodacious BAKED Brass... Seashell. Yeah, I know.

In my last order from B'Sue Boutiques was this 70mm raw brass Victorian sea shell stamping.  This was one of those times when I started out with a vision, so I couldn't wait for my shell to arrive. Oh man, was I chuckling with glee when I saw it - it is so dimensional, so beautifully made, so exactly what I expected.  So deliciously shiny and golden... so of course I proceeded to mess with it, to darken it up, to give it patina.

I used the oven method - soak in salt-saturated cider vinegar for 1/2 hour, bake at 450 for 1/2 hour, dip again, bake again, wash rinse repeat... until it was all roasty-toasty looking.  It looked wonderful... but I wasn't finished.  It wasn't... quite... there yet.  It wasn't bodacious.

Outside (R, Inside (L) after oven patina, before buffing
After giving it a good hand rubbing I gently color-enhanced it with Gilder's Paste; the inside with German Silver & Silver to emulate the pearly light interior of natural shells; the outside with African Bronze to give it a bit of that 'I've been underwater for ages and am hosting a small colony of algae' look.  The coloring really didn't photograph well; it's quite subtle.

After Coloring: Outside (L) Antique Bronze; Inside (R) German Silver & Silver
It is now a Big Bodacious Brass Sea Shell, and now that I have this stage finished I... "Oh, wait", you say; "did you say 'this stage'?  Isn't it finished?"

Oh me, oh my, wipe a tear of laughter from my eye... I've barely begun.  I'll give you a hint as to what's next: I did a Google search for Treasure Maps.

Must call it tonight; more later.

Wild Victorian Wine Chicks

It's cold, dank, gray, gloomy and rather grungy outside today.  Yeah, yeah, it's Tacoma so what else is new, but hey - I still don't have to like it. My Neal is grousing because he is doing yard tasks (nobody's forcing ya, bud) in the grizzle, but me?  I now have no resistance at all to staying in jammies in my slobby work room and playing with my goodies until my fingers bleed.

Neal in the garden, with Milo (the cat) supervising

Today I have a couple things going: first, I am working on putting an oven patina on an enormous fancy raw brass sea shell; I'm also working on a wine-themed necklace centerpiece that I have colored with Baroque Arts' Gilder's Paste, and a few other things.  I will update this posting and add photos throughout the day, so check back often!

While my big bodacious brass seashell is in the oven doing it's thing, I'll introduce you to my Wild Victorian Wine Chicks.  They started out as a silver ox plated stamping from B'Sue Boutiques. Awesome stuff at this site!

Here's the necklace centerpiece with Gilder's Paste applied and dry, but not buffed out yet.  The silver ox piece is what it looked like before; quite a difference, no?

Top: Original Silver Ox-plated stamping
Bottom: Colored w/Gilder's Paste, Un-Buffed
Un-buffed Wild Victorian Wine Chicks
Buffed Wild Victorian Wine Chicks
Aren't my Wine Chicks gorgeous?  They will be the centerpiece for a necklace I plan to wear when Neal & I do LooLoo's Box Wine Experience parties.  Neal's a pro Wine Guy, so we offer home jewelry sales parties (my jewelry, of course) with the extra fun of an educational wine tasting for entertainment.

Oh, and which Gilder's Paste colors did I use? German Silver (faces), Gold (grapes) , Foundry Bronze (grape vines), Celtic Bronze (hair), African Bronze (grape leaves).

I think I'll make my Big Bodacious Brass Seashell project a separate blog post, so I will sign off... for now.