A morose T.S. Eliot said that April is the cruelest month. Ok, so there’s April Fool’s Day and tax time and rain. But after a long, cold, drab Nebraska winter, I’m more inclined toward the celebratory perspective. We slalom through days that are bright but too blustery, or damply gray and chilly, as we chase days warm and sunny enough to put those tomato plants in the ground, go for a long bike ride, or pick the first bouquets of the year. Taking a spin around the back yard to see what’s coming up in the garden while being serenaded by our many avian inhabitants is a simple pleasure that makes enduring winter worth it all.

Looking toward the studio from my back door.

Addicted to opals

What we all love about boulder opals beyond their twinkling, mysterious play of color, is that they are each unique. Looking for just the right opals at the right price is a true treasure hunt at a gem show. Here are a few I’ve been having fun with in the studio. The opals say so much on their own, I feel that a simple presentation of the stone is the best way to show them off.

Blue Horizon necklace: matched boulder opals and aquamarines.

An unusual boulder opal that suggests an ocean with sunlit clouds above.

Petrified wood boulder opal with little emeralds.

Giraffe spots? honeycomb? I’ve never come across an opal with this pattern, and I’ll wager there’s not another like it. Amazing, right?

About that walk on the beach…

Offshore morning sunlight like a line of mercury on the horizon. Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, courtesy of Star Sosa and Spectrum Gallery. Last weekend I was in Wilmington, NC, for a trunk show at Spectrum Fine Jewelry. It was a lovely visit, and the staff did a beautiful job displaying my jewelry in the store.

Here is Star, the owner, and my host at the beach. I always enjoy seeing the stores where my jewelry is sold, and have fun getting to know the staff. Thanks to Star and her all-star team for a great weekend!

Nesting seabirds in their protected sanctuary at the tip of the island. These are either skimmers or terns, sorry to be ornithologically under-informed!

Star’s collection of shells washed up by storms.

Current show at Freehand Gallery, Los Angeles

Advertisement in Ornament Magazine for Freehand’s annual invitational jewelry show. One of my Beach Series necklaces appears in the upper left corner.

The real thing (one last seashell reference)

In Star’s shell collection was a lefthanded whelk, the inspiration for my tattoo!

I’ll be at the SNAG Conference in May

The focus of this year’s conference of the Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG), will be less on academia, more about practical information related to making one’s living as a jeweler. I’m honored to have been invited to give a presentation on my own experiences, and share some– hopefully–useful advice as a veteran in the field.

My talk will be “33 Years as a DIY Jeweler: One Way to Do It.” This is a career for which there is absolutely no template, so hearing talks by jewelers with a variety of experiences and perspectives will be quite interesting. Dates are May 18-22, Asheville, North Carolina. Registration is still open.

Spring Pea Soup with Coconut and Ginger

A fresh, light springtime soup with flavors from the garden.

2 T butter
1 T coconut oil (or olive oil)
1 leek, washed and sliced thinly, crosswise
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T freshly grated ginger root
1 bay leaf
1 cup fresh peas ( I used the sugar snap peas I had on hand)
1-2 cups additional mixed spring vegetables such as asparagus, zucchini, broccoli or whatever sounds good to you.
1 can coconut milk
4 cups chicken broth, preferably home made
Chopped mint, parsley, cilantro
Lemon zest and olive oil

1. Melt butter and coconut oil in large stock pot; add leek, shallot and garlic. Sauté for about 10 minutes until soft.
2. Add ginger, bay leaf, peas and other vegetables. Sauté for 3 minutes.
3. Remove half of the vegetables from the pot and reserve.
4. Add stock and coconut milk to the pot; bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes.
5. Remove bay leaf and puree with either a hand-held blender or in a regular blender.
6. Return pureed soup to the pot, and add the reserved vegetables. Reheat if necessary.
7. To serve, put in bowls and drizzle a bit of extra virgin olive oil on top. Sprinkle with minced herbs and lemon zest.
8. Take your bowl of soup out to the patio, and savor while enjoying the garden.

A moment of personal Zen

While spring cleaning the studio this week, I dusted off these old photos of Nora as a very little person. Not exactly the traditional framed family photos on the cubicle desk, but it works fine for me, propping them up near eye level on my workbench. Happy Mother’s Day to all of you who are, or who still have, mothers!

So that about wraps it up for April. May brings preparations for another wholesale show in Las Vegas, and as much bike riding as weather and time permit as I prepare for another Tour de Nebraska later in June. If you’re not into gardening get out for a walk and enjoy your neighbors’ flowers!

–Sydney

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