Thursday, June 24, 2010

Tips And Tricks and San Diego Gem Faire

If you don't already know, this is a heads up that I am going to be using my Artfire Blog for Tips and Tricks for selling handmade. Nothing fancy or technical, just some things I've noticed and learned, and would have liked to have learned much sooner.

I am also going to be posting articles about specific gemstones, and have chosen Amazonite as the first gem to feature. I may do something similar here and tie it in together somehow. Maybe keep basics on the artfire blog, and use this one for more and different legends, myths, and lore, and link them together.

Lastly, this weekend I am heading to Gem Faire! I am very excited. I have been to a bead show once, but never a gem faire. I love gemstones. I'm going to try to remember to bring my camera, but no promises! I have no idea if I'll buy anything, but I probably will. I really, really don't need more beads. But if I see something super unique or just flat out gorgeous, well, all bets are off. I'm hoping my best friend comes with me.

I've somehow sprained my wrist, so I'll do a longer entry later. Thanks as always.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Something New

Most of you probably don't know this, but I originally intended to go into business selling bath and body items. And I still hope to do so, someday, but for now, I am having plenty of fun with jewelry. However, that doesn't mean that I don't make my own products, because I do. And I'd like to share some simple recipes.

Rosewater is the liquid (known as the hydrosol) left over from making rose essential oil; it is a by-product of steam distillation. It smells like natural roses. If all you've smelled is perfume or scented powders, give rosewater a try; it's amazing how many people think they don't like the smell of roses because they've never smelled real roses. The usage of rosewater goes far back in history to at least the times of the Romans, who enjoyed bathing in rosewater. Rosewater has antiseptic and anti-bacterial properties, which, besides scent, is why people used it to wash their hand with. Rosewater is also used to flavor foods. It's a very interesting taste, but I did not care for the rosewater ice cream I tried. But it's quite a unique flavoring agent! You can order rosewater from a lot of great places online, but you might be able to find it in the ethnic foods aisle in your grocery store.

Rosewater Witch Hazel Toner:
One or Two parts witch hazel*
One part rosewater
Vitamin E, start with a tsp (optional)
1 tsp or so of glycerin (optional)

*If you have oilier skin, use two parts, if it's dry or mature, use one.

I just grab a funnel, stick it in a bottle, pour in all the ingredients, put on the cap, shake it, and use. Shake it before each application. You can either save your empty bottles of rosewater or witch hazel (which is what I do) or you can usually find empty bottles in the aisle with all those travel sized items.

Witch Hazel is a shrub with a wide range of uses. Witch hazel is high in tannins, and that makes it an astringent. Astringents can help dry oil, soothe skin, and tighten pores. It is anti-inflammatory. It is helpful for swelling, bruises, rashes, and bug bites and stings. I use the regular drug store brand, but if you can get fresh or dried witch hazel, definitely experiment with it!

Rosewater is a natural healer, with antiseptic and anti-bacterial properties. It can help reduce wrinkles, fine lines, and inflammation. It helps tighten pores, and is soothing for dry, flaky and/or inflamed skin. The delicate fragrance is refreshing and uplifting.

It seems like everything has vitamin E in it these days, and with good reason: it has anti-aging properties and helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It is soothing to skin and helps the skin maintain its oil balance, and is moisturizing without being oily or heavy.

Glycerin is a humectant, meaning it draws moisture from the air. It has great skin softening and moisturizing properties. It is emollient and gentle (and one of the best reasons to use handmade cold process and/or glycerin soap!). It is also used in tinctures instead of alcohol when you don't want alcohol in the product (such as for children).

The vitamin E and glycerin are optional; if you can find them, great, but they aren't strictly necessary. I only use vegetable glycerin, and though I've never checked, I don't think I've ever seen glycerin for sale in drugstores that was made from animal fats (not saying it's not possible, I've just never seen it). Glycerin is thick, so you don't need a lot. As for vitamin E, it's easy enough to find in drugstores. Adjust the amount to your preference, generally you want to use more for mature skin, very dry or chapped skin, or inflamed skin (from dermatits or acne). But you don't need a lot. Some people say it clogs their pores, everyone is different so there's that possibility, but pretty much any product other than water, alcohol, or similar liquids can theoretically clog pores.

This will save you a lot of money. I have seen bottled rosewater and witch hazel in local health food stores, and while you are more than welcome to buy that instead, they run $8 a bottle. Higher end brands can cost twice that and more. For only the witch hazel and rosewater you will likely not pay more than $6 or $7 and that will make 2 bottles or more, depending on the proportions you use. And the glycerin and vitamin E will cost more, but it will last you a long time and you can use it in a lot of other preparations.

This is just a really simple toner, easy to make but that works as well as other brands. Always patch test new ingredients by applying a dab to the inner elbow.

If you are interested in making more of your own products, there are a few books I really enjoyed that were perfect for beginners:


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Wow Wednesday: Unicorns

I'm hoping to do a Wow Wednesday at least twice a month. An entry devoted to things that made me go "Wow". Most of the items will be handmade, of course.

I love unicorns. Always have. So here is a (very small) sampling of some 'wow' unicorns. All handmade and all unique.

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