Monday, June 8, 2015

Spring started out with a bang!

 I've been a bit like that chicken.  The one that had an unfortunate encounter with an ax?  But things have calmed down a little bit in the last month, which is good since I have a quilt to finish for a new baby that is expected next month!  Yay!  Tiny sweeties are the best.  (Just to be clear, I'm not expecting the baby.  It will be a new niece or nephew. Lol!)

I feel like I've been pretty lucky with my projects recently.  They've mostly been a little bit different from my normal work.  I'm really loving the wide band engagement rings that I've had the pleasure of making lately.  My personal taste certainly swings towards the nuclear bunker side of things, rather than towards the gossamer spider lace side of things.  Maybe because the really delicate things are actually harder to make?  Maybe they're not, but I certainly don't know how to do filigree or engraving.  Perhaps I should take a class?

I'm really getting into the cushion cut stones.  They're harder to work with than round but I'm enjoying the challenge.  I have a wide band engagement ring with a square shaped (rather than rectangular) cushion cut diamond in the works.  Super excited for that to be finished.

Summer has certainly started here.  It's been crazy hot the last couple of days.  We took the twins to a splash pad this weekend.  Super fun.  Can't wait to try out some others around town.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Congrats M and S!!!

A palladium and diamond knot ring I designed for my younger brother.  He proposed at Disneyland! (Have I mentioned how much I love Disneyland?  Oh, Disneyland.)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

I NEED to upgrade to larger diamond!  No! Yes! No! Yes! YES! NO! YES YES! NO! NO!

Sometimes it is hard to have lovely pieces of jewelry passing through and out of one's life all the time.  Makes being satisfied with my boring old jewelry difficult.  It's probably a good thing I'm (ironically) not really a jewelry person.

Recent conversation I had:

Barber: Hello.  Um, what can I do for you?
Me: I would like a haircut.
Barber: We don't do styling...
Me: I want a short, dude haircut.
Barber: Okay....we don't blow dry....
Me: Neither do I.
Barber: Okay. No crying in the chair....
Me: Trust me, I've shaved my own head with clippers.  I'll be fine.

So I'm now sporting a pretty sweet pixie cut.  And I don't even have to brush it.  Best 20 bucks I've ever spent.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Custom, custom orders

Spring is getting away from me.  I want to be out on a nice run in the sunshine, but I'm here blogging instead.  So this will be a short little visit (not like last time.  I'm still loving my hair by the way, but I'm thinking I need to go even shorter.  Really short!).

Just finished this lovely dual tone cushion cut ring.  And, man, and I'm glad that it is finished.  Some projects just make me nervous when I'm working on them, even when everything goes smoothly.  This was one of those times.  I don't know why.  I just felt like I was going to screw it all up.  I need to stop drinking so much coffee.  And this diamond was so lovely in person, hard to capture in a photo.  It is just a scintillating cup of crushed ice.  So much sparkle.  I hope she loves it.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

oh, spring....

....when the young man's fancy turns to love.  

And the frantic (and inexperienced) gardener contemplates when she will have the time to plant all of the things she dreams of planting.   (Look at my little coral bells!  They bloomed this year!  And I'm going to have SO MANY DAISIES!)

And now I'm going to veer off the jewelry track EVEN MORE and talk (at length) about my hair.  So if that doesn't interest you, please see yourself out.

I wouldn't normally post selfies since it just seems like a weird thing to do (weirder and weirder as I get older?  I don't know.  I just feel way more self-conscious now about posting "pretty" pictures of myself than when I was in my 20's  I know what I think of people who have tons of artful, flattering photos of themselves on their social media accounts.  And it's nothing good.).  But I got a new haircut!  And I'm really digging the mad-scientist effect.  I think I'm moving closer to being at peace with having curly hair. Growing up, as anyone with curly hair can probably understand, I HATED HAVING CURLY HAIR.  I HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATED IT.  It always felt messy, it never felt styled.  It always felt unkempt.  So I cut it extremely short in the 2nd grade, and I kept it short for last 28 years or so.  I would occasionally have longer hair, but I would always end up HATING IT, and I would cut it off.  Then I somehow got it into my head that I NEEDED to have long hair.  That is was a shame that I'd never had long hair in my life.  That if I got my hair long, it would suddenly stop being my hair and be the tousled waves of someone who says they have curly hair when really their hair has a slight wave (yes, I want to punch those people in the mouth.  YOUR HAIR IS NOT CURLY! I want to shout, while shaking them till their teeth clack together.  YOUR HAIR IS NOT CURLY!  IT WON'T FORM DREDS IF YOU DON'T COMB IT FOR A DAY!) That long hair would be the answers to all of my problems.  That long hair would make me glamorous and teach me how to be stylish, and finally when I had long hair I would know how to dress myself and I would suddenly be chic. Obviously, I was deluding myself. And effing Instagram wasn't helping.  I cannot imagine how terrible Instagram would have been for me if it had been around when I was tween/teen.  My 35 year old, fairly grounded psyche can barely handle the onslaught of FOMO (fear of missing out) and evil, evil soul sucking comparison now.  I would have shriveled into a wisp of envy or turned into a soulless self-promotion robot doing duck lips and posing (artfully) with a mixed drink/ice cream cone/latte.

Please witness below how my long hair adventure turned out (but to be fair, I can't really blame my hair for that plaid shirt, haha):

Just a couple examples of the many pictures I've sent to my sister in the last few months.  Moaning and whinging about my hair and how much I hated it.  I'm sure it was awesome to be the recipient of so much hair angst.

Since I've had the twins, I've been STRUGGLING to get my sense of style back (not that it was ever very highly developed), struggling to even just look like myself.  And the long hair (which I've never had in my life) was not helping.  I didn't know what to do with it, and I didn't look like myself with it.  And as always, I HATED IT.  I hated managing it.  I hated the amount of conditioner I needed to use. The time it would take to even get it to the point where I COULD PULL IT BACK.  That was my measure of success....did it look presentable when I managed to pull it back?  Such a low bar.  So I finally woke up and shouted "WHY ARE YOU TORTURING YOURSELF?!?!?!?!?!?!?"  Just give it up.  Some people are not meant to have long hair, and the hair growing out of your head is not meant to be long.  LOVE THE ONE YOU'RE WITH.  FOR CHRIST'S SAKE.  LOVE THE ONE YOU'RE WITH.  

And so I made an appointment with an awesome lady at The Parlour in St. John's who specializes in curly hair and had it cut off. And I like it.
(Why, yes, I did retouch the hyper-pigmentation on my forehead, thanks for asking.)

The red lipstick is to prevent me from feeling like a soccer mom with a bob.  It helps.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

I didn't realize

that I was in the business of selling sterling silver and cubic zirconium rings made in India.  A kindly ebay user from Hungary alerted me to this, she had recognized my photo when shopping on Ebay:

Lol!  They must have screen grabbed it from the banner I used to use on my blog.  Just makes me super irritated.  But there isn't much I can do.  I scrolled through their ebay shop and they had a bunch of rings I recognized from Etsy.  Assholes.  I don't care if you copy things, it's not like the ring above was a super unique painting or anything, but to be so lazy that you just take the photos too?  On the off chance that someone will buy it and save you the trouble of making your own to photograph, I guess?  I don't know.  I love the internet, but at the same time I HATE IT WITH A BURNING PASSION.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Another year

I'm trying to figure out how to calculate how many years I've been in business.  I opened in February of 2009.  So does that make it 5 years?  Or 6?  5 full years? But technically 6?  Am I just mathematically challenged?  Has it been too long since elementary school?  You know what is really sad?  I've been in business for 5 years (at least) and I've had business cards once.  As in, I had some made when I first opened, and I haven't had any since.  Years.  Years.

Anyhoo.  It's another year, and now that my babies are a little bit older, I'm ready to move out my holding pattern and make some changes. On the list:

1) Learn how to do 3D modeling.  I would love to be able to design components on the computer.  Things that I can't make by carving in wax.  And that means a new computer.  I bought a refurbished one in 2009 and it is finally time to retire it. (I updated the software to Yosemite and I now regret it with all of my heart.)

2) Get a bead blaster.  I've wanted one forever.  Not sure why I've been dragging my feet.

3) Start selling in actual brick and mortar shops.  Not quite sure what direction I'm heading with this one, but I think that is where I want to be.

4) Get business cards and other paper frippery to upgrade my packaging.  I would love to get custom jewelry boxes, but I'm not sure where to go for those.  I'm also in need of a new logo to go with J.Yaffa.  I had one for singleB that I really liked, but I don't think it meshes with the new business name.  What to do?  What to do?

5) Take a specialty stone setting class.  I really want to brush up on setting square and emerald cut stones.

6) Earrings, necklaces, bracelets/bangles.  I'm too ring heavy.

7)  OMG.  Finish my new website.  I've been "working" on it for a year.


1) Start drawing and illustrating again.  Get a wacom tablet to use with the new computer in Adobe Illustrator.  (Create my own line of stationery?)

2) Do a self-portrait, or a portrait of my husband/son/daughter every month.

3) Start running again.  Work up to 5 miles.

4) Yoga.  Arm balances.

5) Read/write every day.  I've got the reading part of that goal down cold.  Haha.

6) Love these baby sweeties with my whole heart and soul.  DONE!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Rejoining the digital age

Like many of us (I'm assuming?), I have a complicated relationship with technology and how it scatters my attention and makes me incapable of focusing on anything important.  Seriously.  I guess you could say it is less "complicated" and more fraught.  Fraught fraught fraught.
 Take this morning for a perfect example.  Lately I have been getting up at 5:45-6a.m. (what a blessing a programmable coffee maker is, I would never be able to accomplish getting out of bed early without the knowledge that there is a hot cup of coffee waiting for me if I do) to read, write letters, and journal.  And I mostly just pretend that I'm alone.  (Does that make me a bad wife/mom?  I don't think so.  Sometimes you just need 20 feet of clear air.)  It has been so good for my mental health.  It's been fabulous.  But this morning I brought my iphone out to the living room with me, and what did I do?  I farted around on Facebook, Instagram, and the Etsy app.  I think I even opened Twitter.  I answered a couple of emails etc.  Did I read any poetry?  Did I write in my journal?  Of course not.  Why would I, when the heavy gravitronic pull of the black abyss that is my iphone was sitting on the arm of the couch, not 2ft from my head?  Who can focus on higher (HA!) things when the mental equivalent of a glass of cold beer is waiting with just the swipe of a finger?  Not me, apparently.  AND I DON'T EVEN HAVE THE ACTUAL INTERNET ENABLED ON MY PHONE.  (Mainly because I can't handle it responsibly and I have my husband lock it up under the restrictions with a passcode that I don't know.  I had to delete pinterest, because I figured out a way to access the internet through it.  It was like having cake in the house.  I couldn't not eat it.)

Why expose yourself to temptation like that, if you have such a problem, you might ask?  Because I have a business!  And a business needs tending and social promotion (I guess).  I was so reluctant to join any of these things, and now I have Instagram, Twitter, and a Facebook page for my business (all in a day).  Perhaps I'm revealing how (willfully) ignorant I am about this stuff?  Are there things I don't even know about that I should be doing instead?  Is Twitter old and musty?  I know I'm a bit late to the party, but has it already moved to another location?  Tell me, please, you people who are hipper than me!  Please.  Honestly, I don't really see the point of Twitter, but I'm following the herd and playing along.  I did follow a few things the other day that I think I will like, but will it be more enriching than a well chosen book?  (Do I sound like an old lady maiden aunt who has no sense of humor?  I like Vines, okay?  I like them!)  Maybe I shouldn't compare.  But there are opportunity costs, and every minute I spend perusing my Twitter feed is a minute that I'm not reading Mary Oliver.

But here I am, taking the plunge with all of this, and most of it is easiest to use on a smart phone rather than a computer.  I don't think you  can even really use instagram from the computer, correct me if I'm wrong.  So what am I to do?  Cultivate more self-control?  Set myself a time limit?  Put myself on a schedule?  AM I THE ONLY PERSON WHO HAS TROUBLE WITH THE INTERNET AND ASSOCIATED FLIM FLAMMERING APPS?  I can't be.  But no one talks about it.

Anyway.  I wanted to use this platform to tell everyone about my new instagramming, twittering, facebooking exploits.  I guess I shouldn't accompany it with a screed about how much I hate it all and how much it kills my brain.  But I'm so conflicted about it that I can't help myself.  This is how I feel about it:  necessary evil.  Not because it is evil, but because it is not great for me personally. It would be like getting a job in a pastry shop.  Nothing is wrong with pastries, quite the opposite.  But for me it would be a fat and sugar filled orgiastic disaster.

So here I am, reluctantly socially connecting:

Twitter: @JustineYaffa
Instagram: j.yaffa

It is all under my new business name, because I've decided to just quit dithering and go with it.  I might change my blog too, but when I tried it didn't redirect from the old name to the new.

All right, now for some pretty photos, if you managed to slog through all of the above.  I hope you just scrolled down as quickly as you could:

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


When we found out we were having surprise twins almost two years ago we decided to go with the Ikea Sniglar cribs because of the reasonable price (two of everything!) and because of the nice clean look.  I felt that two cribs in the same room was overwhelming enough so I wanted something that was super plain.

Fast forward two years and one baby climbed up and then fell headfirst into the other crib (they were pushed together in an L shape).  I guess we were lucky she didn't climb out over the side that faced the floor!  Seeing that our days of easy bedtimes were at an end, we felt like we had to prevent further dangerous escape attempts by giving them a safe exit route.

The Sniglar has an option to take off one side, but there is no rail to keep a sleeping baby from rolling out.  After finding my daughter sleeping with her head on the crib mattress and the rest of her curled up on the floor.

So we decided to create a toddler style bed by creating a climb through side.  We bought a piece of wood (I believe it was a 1x12) and used a router saw to create  little curved openings.  (By the way, a router saw is an amazing device and not expensive!  I'm not sure why it took us this long to get one.) I sanded everything to make soft edges everywhere, slapped some white paint on it, and screwed it in to the crib sides. I love the way it looks and it works great to keep them from falling out.  But it doesn't do much to help them fall asleep easily, alas.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


I found these awesome wooden round frames at the local thrift shop, and I'm now working on portraits of my family to fill them.  I think they will look fun grouped on a wall, and my house is woefully lacking in artwork right now.


I'm really trying to incorporate other stone shapes into my repertoire, and this is my latest.  I love the soft rectangular shape.  The band is tapered and the stone is left open on the bottom.  Working with non-round stones is more complicated, I think that is why I have been dragging my feet about it for the last few years.  But I'm feeling more confident now, and I hope to do an emerald version of this soon.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Fall on the horizon

Sometimes you get a job that you just really love.  I recently finished the ring pictured above, and it was GORGEOUS.  This stone was just so crisp and alive.  Beee-you-teee-full.  I know that it featured prominently in a happy engagement just last weekend.  I love thinking about something that I made with my own two hands being a part of such a happy event.  Without getting too hippy-dippy (although, I did grow up in Eugene), I feel like since I started this job in 2009 my life has become lighter and happier, and I think maybe a bit of all of those good feelings flowing into the universe are coming my way?  (Of course, the love between two people can also cause heartbreak, so maybe in a few years that will be coming my way as well.  Haha.  I hope not.)

I love these Chatham emeralds.  I have a cushion cut solitaire version in the works.  Just not sure if I should do it yellow or white gold?  Opinions?  My instinct is to go with 18kt yellow.  I think it would look amazing with the emerald green.  But I know I am in the minority with my love of yellow over white.

On the homefront, my sweet sweeties have been sick this week.  Nothing is snottier than a toddler (except maybe two, haha).  We recently got a bike trailer and we took them on a bike ride for the first time last weekend.  It was awesome.  Addy really loved it, Aven wasn't so sure but I think she will come around.  I'm really looking forward to pumpkins and apple cider, but I'm trying to pace myself.  It's still been pretty hot here some days, so I'm waiting for the really gloomy weather to set in before I bust out the fall traditions.  Glüg season is approaching!  Exciting!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Where did the summer go?

So, my favorite time of year has arrived.  The time of year when huge, horribly scary spiders invade the studio.  Have I mentioned how much I hate spiders?  I don't actually hate them hate them.  I just hate the ginormous ones that make me shiver and get goosebumps.  There was a gorgeous pink and white spider that was living in my roses.  It was lovely.  I didn't hate it at all.  But there was a monkey sized one living in this pile of wood that I moved off of the patio earlier this summer and I kid you not, it made the leaves rustle as it scuttled away from me.  I think I probably squeaked a little fear squeak.  Ugh ugh ugh.  And THOSE are the ones that invade.  Not the pink and white spiders.  The huger hairy monkey spiders that probably hunt the pugs.

Oh man.  I LOVE fabric.  (Almost as much as I hate giant pug eating spiders.)  All I want to do is quilt right now.  It sort of gets in the way of being a mom and doing my job.  My younger sister had a squeezable baby girl recently and the quilt above is the one I made for that little sweetie.

I promised myself that I would finish the squids quilts before they turned two.  I'm proud to say that I completed them both waaaaaay before the deadline.

The quilt I gave my sister for her birthday a few years ago.  HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.  It will probably be a 50th birthday present.  I didn't really know what I was getting into with HST that are 3 inches square.  Man.

My first inside out quilt.  I really like the bindingless finish.  It was my first tumbler quilt too.  

A patio set we got off of craigslist and painted.  It was coated in a terrible gooey black paint and the seats were this hideous green and blue plaid plastic.  So I sanded it down and spray painted everything.  Even the seat "cushions".  I plan on making tie on quilted seat covers.

My wildflower patch!  They really turned out well.  But I didn't thin them, so now at the end of the season they look a little messy.  But they were glorious when everything was blooming.  I plan on planting them again and putting them in front of my studio as well.

Love these little flowers.  My favorite types of flowers the ones with skinny stems with flowers on top.

 And this looked lovely until spider mites (??) destroyed the plant with purple flowers.  :-(  I had to pull it out/.  The delphiniums still look good.  I think I might move them into the flower garden and use that planter for annuals.  Maybe zinnias?

 The flower garden really recovered nicely from the hail storm.  I think I've learned a lot and will be able to plan better for next year.

I got this futon cushion and made these pillows for the squids room to make a little reading nook.  They're all about it.  I also plan on stenciling the alphabet above the "couch"

Aven loves clipping clips, so I bought a grip of plastic clips and made this little stuffed toy.  It was my first attempt at sewing anything besides quilts and napkins.  I think it turned out well, considering.

Haha.  The babies hiding behind the couch, communing with Pandora on the ipad.  It's locked, so they can't get into it to play, but they like watching the album covers change.

Where is the jewelry related content you ask?  Coming?  Maybe.