Monday, July 28, 2014

DLPom Featured on Entrepreneur Site

I have been truly honored today with a feature by  They tell the stories of hardworking, inventive, and "gritty" entrepreneurs, featuring a new story each Monday, Wednesday, & Friday.  Read it -- you'll probably learn something new about me, and be inspired by other entrepreneurs across the globe!

Friday, July 25, 2014

DLPom Jewelry Giveaway: Trio of Interchangeable Leverback Earrings

There is nothing ordinary about this jewelry giveaway!

A pair of interchangeable leverbacks can sport my purple amethyst lotus drops, Bali sterling silver diamonds, or the ring drop freshwater pearls. Three pairs in one! All sterling silver findings.

This giveaway is hosted by my Etsy shop, DLPom Handcrafted Expressions.

This giveaway is open to adult, U.S. residents only. It ends on Monday, August 11 at 11:59 P.M. Central Time.  Be sure to check back daily for the most chances to win!

Just enter through Rafflecopter below.

TIP: Try refreshing your screen if the Rafflecopter box does not show.

Best of luck!

Thanks for participating!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, July 11, 2014

Fitness Friday: Now I Need the Recipes

My path to better health led me to the purchase of a NutriBullet this week. I've heard nothing but rave reviews from friends who are hooked on "green" smoothies. Now, I just need some tasty recipes to transform the notion of a "green" smoothie into something just a little more appealing and appetizing!  If you have a recipe or link, please share in the comments below!

~Dana Website

How to Choose the Best Oils for Cold Process, Handcrafted Soap: Teach Me Thursday

A batch of soap, not quite ready to pour
First of all, I hope you are buying cold process soaps for your skin rather than the melt 'n pour or typical store bought soap. That could be a whole different blog post! Then, once you are completely hooked on the superior goodness of cold process soap, what ingredients should you look for? And yes, all soap should be labeled with ingredients, beginning with the oil name that has the highest percentage in the recipe.

I prefer to use the common names for all of my oils on the ingredient labels, which makes the label reading much easier for the soap customer. For example, I will use "olive oil" rather than the Latin, species name Olea europaea. I'm guessing that not that many people will recognize Olea europaea as plain old olive oil. It gets even more complicated with the other oil names.

A good place to start for the first two ingredients in any handcrafted soap are olive oil and/or palm oil. Olive oil, especially, is very high in oleic fatty acids which produces a soap that has excellent conditioning properties for the skin. Palm oil is also high in palmitic fatty acids which helps produce a hard bar with lather that is stable.

Then, you might look for some ingredients that add a little "bubbliness" to the lather. Castor, coconut, and palm kernel oils do this job very well.

Keeping warm in the oven to start the curing process
While soap can be made with only olive oil (known as castile soap), you will probably want to find a soap that has at least 3-4 ingredients to give the bar some interesting and dimensional properties. But, be mindful of any skin sensitivities that you may have.

To take the soap "over the top," look for these additional oils toward the end of the ingredient list: sweet almond, avocado, cocoa, jojoba, sesame, shea, and evening primrose. These oils add additional conditioning properties to the soap - the "oh, so good for you skin" component! I often superfat my soaps with these oils so some of the oil molecules are left behind after the soap cures - going straight to your skin when the soap is used!

So there you have it - soap oils 101. If you have any questions, please ask!

~Dana @ SoapSense

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Fourth of July: Cherry Pie!

Grilled turkey burgers, potato salad, and cherry pie are on the menu at my house today.  Clearly, "Fitness Friday" will return next week!  Enjoy your holiday, and be safe!


Thursday, July 3, 2014

How to Tell the Difference Between Argentium & Sterling Silver: Teach Me Thursday

And the answer is....{drumroll}....sometimes, you can't.  But that is not the end of the story!  Let's start at the beginning.  What do you need to know as a jewelry buyer to tell the difference between sterling silver and argentium?

Sterling silver is 92.5% fine silver and 7.5% copper.  The copper is what causes all sterling silver to tarnish over time from exposure to sulfides in the air, perspiration, etc.  Argentium is 92.5% fine silver, with the remaining 7.5% being an alloy called germanium and then less copper.  Argentium® Sterling silver is a registered trademark.

There are a number of differences for a silversmith working with one or the other.  Sterling silver often develops firescale during the soldering process - which has to be sanded away.  Argentium does not develop firescale and actually fuses to itself.  There are also some annealing and hardening differences between the two.  As a silversmith, I have to be very organized with my stock.  If a tag label falls off a coil of wire, or if sheet metal gets mixed up, I'll have a quandary on my hands to sort it out!

But for the buyer, the greatest advantage to a piece of jewelry made from Argentium is that it will often have a more brilliant shine, that is almost tarnish resistant over a long period of time.  Additionally, some people with sterling silver allergies can actually tolerate Argentium.

Argentium sterling can be hallmarked .925 or "sterling silver" since Argentium sterling is sterling silver.  Special "Argentium" hallmarks have been developed, but the stamps are usually pricey enough to cause a silversmith pause before making such a purchase.  In other words, you may not be able to tell which metal your jewelry is made from by the stamp alone.

Bottom Line:  The only way to tell the difference between traditional sterling silver and Argentium is through abrasion and/or heat analysis - which would likely ruin the jewelry!  Your safest bet is to purchase from a reputable artisan who keeps their silver stock well labeled and organized so they can tell you which product you are buying.  Jewelry designs from Argentium are often a little higher priced.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Join the Jewelry Giveaway: Mixed Metal Pearl Earrings

I purchased some copper washers awhile ago and wanted to make some mixed metal link earrings.  This pair is what resulted!  I added an ivory, cultured pearl drop as a striking contrast to soften the look of the hard, textured metals. 

These casual earrings have several articulation points for maximum movement.  They will twist and turn to catch the light.  Even though the repeating pattern is one of circles, the earrings are quite long and linear, too.  They measure about 2-1/4 inches from the top bend of the earwire.  All sterling silver and copper!  If left unpolished the copper will age to a warm patina over time.

This is a limited edition of just 5 pair - so you will not see anyone else wearing these!  The pair for the giveaway is No. 1.  They are hand engraved by the artist (me) and numbered on the back side.  The other pairs will be for sale in my Etsy shop, Coil and Flame...just in case you fall in love with these and don't win them!

This giveaway is open to adult U.S. residents only, and ends on Monday, July 14th.  Be sure to check back daily for the most chances to win!  Just enter through Rafflecopter below.

TIP:  Try refreshing your screen if the Rafflecopter box does not show.

Best of luck!

Thanks for participating!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, June 27, 2014

Fitness Friday: 5 Small Ways to Get Started with Light Exercise June 27, 2014
As I have been on my own fitness journey (the last 2 years), I often reflect back on how hard it was to get started.  At the beginning, every little bit of extra activity helped so that my body became used to being more active.  The body is by nature, homeostatic - maintaining balance to resist change.  So, you do have to coax yourself along and keep changing things up to make forward progress. 

Here are 5 small ways to get started on your own fitness journey:
  1. Take the stairs - 3 or 4 flights, even better!
  2. Park your car farther away to get a little extra walk back and forth.
  3. Do a little of your own yard work/gardening.
  4. Make a point to have one healthy meal a day - nothing fried and no sugar!
  5. Take a walk or bicycle ride around your neighborhood or local park.
The objective is to be just a little more consciously aware of being more active and fueling your body appropriately.  Every new journey starts with one small step, and then another.

Feel free to share your experiences in the comments.  What has been your best fitness success?

~Dana @ DLPom

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Join the Giveaway: 3 Bars of Handcrafted Soap from Soap Sense

It doesn't get any better than this!  To launch my new soap packaging, I'm giving away 3 bars of luscious, handcrafted soap:  Seaside Spa, Lemonade, & Gardenia Goat's Milk.  Seaside Spa and Gardenia Goat's Milk are two of my best sellers...Lemonade is a BRAND NEW bar in my Etsy Shop, Soap Sense.

This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only, and ends on Monday, July 7th.  Be sure to check back daily for the most chances to win!  Just enter through Rafflecopter below. 

TIP:  Try refreshing your screen if the Rafflecopter box does not show.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, June 20, 2014

Get Your Chainmaille On: Celtic Knot Necklace and Matching Earrings

Chainmaille was historically more than just jewelry -- yes, it was actually worn during the Middle Ages as body armor mesh for battlefield protection.  And it was extremely heavy.  I prefer the translation of maille patterns for decorative purposes, in other words, jewelry!

This is the Celtic Knot pattern in a matching necklace and pair of earrings in argentium.  Certainly more civilized!

The necklace took HOURS to make, each link individually attached to those before it.  I can't imagine how long it might have taken to make an entire vest.

Dana @ Coil and Flame

Shop for the Necklace
Shop for the Earrings

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Streamlining the Packaging Process: Soap Wrapping 101, an Evolution

When you are a one-woman-show running a small business with three different branches, you begin to realize how important it is to save time at every step of the process. 

Several years ago, when I began packaging my soap to sell, I created handmade paper sleeves to individually wrap each bar, cigar-band style.  Yes, I made the paper from pulp!  Well, you can imagine after a hundred bars or so, I couldn't even keep up making the paper, much less the soap!

So, the handmade paper sleeve fell by the wayside.  It was replaced by the printed paper sleeve, which I designed and scored/tore by hand to give it a deckle edge.  I continued to use a cello bag and raffia tie to complete the packaging.

After several hundred bars of soap, I realized the inordinate amount of time that the packaging was taking me.  But I was really struggling with this notion that a handmade bar of soap had to have numerous handmade components in the final presentation in order to be authentic.

Then it occurred to me that I should really be focusing on the handmade soap (my actual product), and minimize the effort to create a nice presentation in the packaging.  And my packaging has recently evolved again, into much easier and less time consuming steps.

There is a little upfront work each time you tweak your image and have to recreate from scratch -- banners, labels, etc.  But from here on out, I'll be folding a box, slapping on a couple of labels, and in the soap goes.  By comparison, even with folding the box, it is a breeze. 

Hopefully, the look and feel of a handmade product has not been lost in the new packaging.

What do you think, and how have you streamlined your packaging process? 

~ Dana @ Soap Sense

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

White Topaz Bezel Set Solitaire Ring: Blinded by the Brilliance!

Fit for a princess -- maybe even the queen!

A brilliant, 8 mm white topaz sits atop a high bezel setting, surrounded by dots of bead wire.  Mostly a matte finish to backdrop the highly polished bezel rim.

The ring prototype, you ask?  I'm keeping it for myself.  It just so happens to fit!  But I can make another just as gorgeous for you...

~Dana @ Coil and Flame

Shop for this Ring

Monday, June 9, 2014

Hand Stamped Initial Pendant, Mixed Metal Jewelry on Etsy

A new item in my Etsy shop, Coil and Flame, that resulted from a custom order that I decided needed to stay as a custom listing.

This three dimensional pendant has a flat, textured, copper backdrop with a domed, sterling silver hammered center that is hand stamped with one initial. 

Even cuter, a tiny heart is soldered to the backside.  Each piece is hand engraved by me.

The whole pendant is oxidized, rebuffed, and tumble polished to give it a rustic, aged appeal and to highlight the metal around the stamped initial.

These work well on a medium, short chain...or, a longer, heavier chain. They make wonderful, personalized gifts!
~Dana @ Coil and Flame

Shop for this Pendant