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Thursday, November 21, 2013

New Work

moissanite engagement ring
Forever Brilliant moissanite and recycled 14k yellow gold ring
{ custom order; sold }

semi mount ring
Semi-mount recycled 14k rose gold engagement ring (to fit customer's own stone) with stacking 14k white gold side bands
{ custom order; sold }

ethical engagement ring
Fair trade sapphire, recycled 14k rose gold, and recycled 950 palladium ring
{ custom order; sold }

alexandrite wedding band
Chatham lab-created alexandrite and recycled 14k white gold band
{ custom order; sold }

moissanite wedding ring
Moissanite, recycled 14k yellow gold, and recycled 14k white gold ring

18k gold band
Recycled 18k yellow gold band

recycled wedding bands
Recycled 14k white gold and recycled 14k rose gold bands

moissanite rose gold
Forever Brilliant moissanite and recycled 14k rose gold ring

sapphire rose gold
Fair trade sapphire and recycled 14k rose gold ring

two tone ring
Moissanite, recycled 14k yellow gold, and recycled 950 palladium ring

moissanite engagement ring
Forever Brilliant moissanite and recycled 14k yellow gold ring

ethical wedding rings 
(The same design with two stacking recycled 950 palladium bands.)

palladium engagement ring
Moissanite and recycled 950 palladium ring

green gold ring
Recycled 14k green gold and recycled 950 palladium band
{ available on Etsy }

moissanite rings
Forever Brilliant moissanite and recycled 14k yellow gold ring

sapphire engagement ring
Fair trade sapphire and recycled 18k palladium white gold ring
{ custom order; sold }

... with peekaboo bezel setting ...

Monday, September 30, 2013

Succulent Tutorial - Tiered Hanging Planter Boxes

DIY Succulent Planter 

Here is my latest succulent project - a three-tiered hanging planter! I recently planted the little bed below with succulents, and since they won't grow very tall, I wanted something to add interest to the big blank wall above.

hanging succulent planter

You will need:
  • plants
  • three wood planters* (mine are about 24" x 6" x 6" each)
  • soil suitable for succulents**
  • paper coffee filters (optional)
  • chain (I used about 16' total for my project)
  • 20 eye bolts
  • four ceiling hooks
  • pliers
  • screwdriver
  • drill
  • level (optional)
* You could, of course make the planters yourself, or they should be easy to find at any garden shop. I bought mine on Etsy from RedCedarWoodcraft. An Etsy or Google search for 'wood planter box' or 'wood window box' should yield many results to choose from.

** My preferred mixture for planting succulents is about 50% potting soil, 20% sand, and 30% pumice. At first I couldn't find pumice locally so I used perlite, but the pumice really is nicer. If you have trouble finding it locally like I did (check feed stores; apparently it's sometimes used for drying out horse stalls), you can get it on Amazon or eBay.

Here are my boxes prior to modifying them for my project. I considered sealing them but decided I wanted a weathered look eventually, so I left the wood bare.

Of course you will need a nice assortment of plants to choose from - enough to fill your boxes. 

Here are the eye bolts (1-5/16", it looks like) and the chain I used.

My pots didn't have drain holes, so I drilled three in each planter.

I pre-drilled holes in the corners of each planter prior to inserting the eye bolts. You'll need to drill all four corners, both top and bottom, on two planters, and just the four on top for the third planter.

Get the eye bolts started, tightening them as much as you can comfortably do by hand.

When they start to get hard to turn, use pliers or a screwdriver to turn them.

Tighten those puppies down. Remember, you need eye bolts on the top AND bottom corners of two boxes, but just on the top of the third one.

I like to cover the drain holes with paper coffee filters to keep soil from washing out.

I learned the hard way that it's a lot easier to plant prior to stringing the boxes together, so once you have all your eye bolts installed, go ahead and fill the boxes with soil and start planting!

I had intended to try to have my soil level very close to the top edge of each planter so that my plants (many of which are fairly low-growing) would be as visible as possible over the edge of the boxes. Since succulents need so little water, they don't need a lot of basin area up top for water. I thought I'd done a good job of keeping everything high up, but right after I got my boxes planted, we had a major downpour, and the soil compacted quite a bit from the heavy drenching - so I would recommend lightly watering your soil in prior to planting and final leveling to make sure it's not going to compact on you like mine did.

After your boxes are all planted, figure out how long you want the lengths of chain between the boxes to be (mine were around 9 or 10 inches), and cut eight equal lengths (or use pliers to open the links if you don't have cutters).

Figure out how long you want your top lengths of chain to be, and cut those as well. Since mine were going to hang from underneath an angled roof line, the front two had to be a little shorter than the back two.

Install four ceiling hooks, being sure to space the hooks equal to the measurements of the centers of your eye bolts on the boxes.

Hang your four upper lengths of chain from the ceiling hooks. (Thanks for the help, SuperHubby!)

Use pliers to open the end of the bottom-most chain link, hook all four opened links onto the top eye bolts of your upper planter, then close the links shut around the eye bolts. This will be easier with two people!

tiered succulent planter

Work your way down, using the shorter lengths of chain to hang the middle planter from the top one, and finally the lower planter from the middle one, continuing to use the pliers to open and close the end links as needed.

succulent tutorial

Stand back, smile, and enjoy your pretty new planters!

succulent planter

If you have any questions or comments, if anything is unclear, or if you have pictures of your own finished tiered planter project to share, please let me know! I hope you enjoyed this project. Feel free to share wherever you like, linking back to this blog post, and if you are a jewelry lover, please be sure to check out my work!

Assorted handmade fair trade gemstone rings by McFarland Designs.

New Work

sapphire engagement ring
 Fair trade sapphire and recycled 950 palladium stacking engagement and wedding rings

moissanite engagement ring
 Moissanite and recycled 14k palladium white gold ring, polished finish vs. hand-textured

castle cut moissanite
Castle cut Forever Brilliant moissanite, recycled 14k yellow gold, and recycled 950 palladium ring

forever brilliant moissanite
Forever Brilliant moissanite and recycled 14k rose gold ring

fair trade sapphire
Fair trade sapphire and recycled 950 palladium ring

chatham alexandrite ring
Chatham alexandrite and recycled 950 palladium ring

palladium wedding band
Recycled 950 palladium band
{ available by special request }

moissanite wedding ring
Moissanite and recycled 14k white gold

two tone rings
Recycled sterling silver and recycled 14k green gold wedding bands
{ available by special request }

moissanite wedding rings
 Forever Brilliant moissanite and recycled 950 palladium wedding and engagement rings

palladium engagement ring
Moissanite and recycled 950 palladium ring

wave wedding band
Recycled 14k white gold 'wave' band

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Succulent Tutorial - Strawberry Pot

Today I thought I'd do something a little different. I used to post jewelry making tutorials every so often, and over the years, they have proven to be very popular. As the techniques that I employ in my jewelry making evolved and advanced, the type of work I was doing seemed to lend itself less well to tutorials, and to be honest I haven't had much free time for the last several years, so I haven't posted any in a long time. But lately I have a new obsession - working with succulents! Just a hobby, but a fun way to unwind and enjoy the beautiful summer weather we've had this year. I thought I might try to post a succulent tutorial now and then - please let me know if this is something you're interested in seeing more of, or if you'd rather I stick to my day job. :-)

succulent tutorial

I'm going to share a simple project with serious 'wow' power that any beginner can complete, given some simple materials and 30 minutes of free time - a succulent-stuffed strawberry pot.

You will need:
  • Plants
  • Strawberry pot
  • Potting soil
  • Perlite
  • Trowel or small shovel
  • Bucket or other container for mixing soil and perlite
  • Coffee filter or piece of hardware mesh (optional)

You will need a pot (I used this one, but any strawberry pot will do - for size reference, mine is about a foot tall) and some plants, of course. (My plants came from a few different Etsy shops - SteveSuperGardens, ShopSucculents, and SucculentOasis.)

You will also need some good quality potting soil and perlite (or pumice, if you can find it, in place of the perlite). In a bucket, make a 50/50 mix of the soil and perlite.

I keep a supply pre-mixed under my potting table for easy access. If you prefer, you can use cactus soil instead of this mix.

I like to put a paper coffee filter on the bottom of the pot to keep the soil from leaking out of the drain hole. You could also use a piece of hardware mesh, or a rock, in a pinch - or live life on the edge and leave the hole unprotected (gasp!)...

Next, you're going to fill the pot with your soil mixture to the bottom edge of the lowest planting holes in the pot. Gently water the soil in and add more if it settles.

Now the fun begins! Start setting those little plants in the holes. You can do just one plant per hole, or two if you like a really lush look.

This little guy wanted to tip out of the hole, so I weighed his roots down with a rock to keep him in place.

After you've finished the lowest layer, add more soil until it reaches the bottom of the next-lowest opening, add plants, and continue until you are near the top.

If you happen to inadvertently knock any leaves off while handling your plants, don't get rid of them! You can often use those leaves to grow new plants - for free! (Maybe I'll do a tutorial on that once I have a little more experience on the subject - in the meantime, succulent propagation tutorials abound on Pinterest, if you're interested.) Or if you don't want them yourself, mail them to me! :-)

At this point, it is of course time to fill up the top. I like to combine tall and spiky plants with lower and/or cascading ones for visual interest. The tall/spiky one in my arrangement one doesn't look like much at the moment, but look at the blooms it will display later if I manage to keep it alive!

succulent strawberry pot

Once you've filled in the top with plants, all that's left to do is water everything in and clean up your mess.

Try to position your lovely new creation where it can be admired from all sides, and rotate it periodically to give all the plants even exposure to the sun.

If you found this tutorial useful, please leave a comment, or share on Facebook, Pinterest, or wherever you hang out! And if you're a jewelry lover, please take a look at my work. Thanks!

Moissanite and recycled 14k yellow gold rings by McFarland Designs