— whollyKao

Back in January, I took a lapidary class with Michael Boyd, who is a lapidarist and jewelry designer based out of Colorado. It was an intense 5-day workshop (complete with candy breaks!), and I learned so much. For anyone not familiar with the term, lapidary work centers on the cutting and polishing of stones.

Michael brought a whole slew of stones with him, and taught us what to look for with regards to color and inclusions. It’s pretty amazing to see what the rough forms of stones look like – some were pretty ugly! 03 I learned that you have to dip the rough stone in water to get a better idea of what it would look like polished. 04

At the start of class, we all got a basic kit like this (well the safety glasses were my own). 02 We were taught to take one of the screws, superglue the rough stone to the top of it, and then put it in the metal holder. And that’s what you would run through the lapidary equipment. Traditionally, lapidary work is done with the stone attached on a long nail, but the holder we got in our kits was really handy for us newbies. The actual polishing of stones is done on machine that has 6 different sanding wheels with different grits to shape and polish your stone. You start with a coarse grit and work your way to a super fine one; and all this is done under a spray of water, so it gets messy. You essentially spend the whole time with your hands wet and covered in rock silt. So by the end of the workshop, everyone’s hands needed a lot of TLC!

Here are a couple before/after shots of stones that I worked on during the workshop. 0607 The first picture is lapis lazuli, and the second is black jade. Pretty cool, huh?

So…why would you cut your own stones? Well, it’s way cheaper than buying them cut from someone. And you can customize the stone to fit your design. Michael’s view is that if you’re going to spend a lot of time making a-one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry, why use a generic/store bought stone? In his work, he finds ways to make the stone unique. This may mean custom shapes, or it might mean he drills a hole through a big stone and sets a smaller one to fit on top. Or maybe he polishes a stone, carves a divet in it, and then hammers gold wire to create something like these stones (which he then uses for necklaces, rings, etc).

I love how innovative he is with his work, and how he encouraged us to experiment with our own projects. He told us to not be afraid of trying new things or of messing something up. After all, the goof ups sometimes lead us to discover something even better!

01-whollyKao-deodorant A few weeks ago, I made deodorant. I’m not a hippie, but I also don’t like how store bought deodorant contains aluminum and other bad-for-you things in it. I am also someone that truly needs to wear some sort of underarm protection (just ask Jeff, who has a superhuman sense of smell).

I decided to try out one of the recipes on Wellness Mama’s blog. She’s got two recipes, and I used her second one because I had all the ingredients at home, minus the essential oil (I ended up buying a bottle at Whole Foods).

It was really easy to make the deodorant. The recipe says to mash all the ingredients together, but I ended up microwaving the coconut oil so that it would mix more easily with the powders. And at first I had wanted to store it in an old deodorant tube, but ended up storing it in a jar I had lying around (The coconut oil would have also leaked all over the place if I tried to pour it into the tube as a liquid!).

So you’re probably wondering how well it works, right? I’ve been using it for two weeks, and so far it has held up pretty good. I haven’t noticed any weird odors, and I’ve used it for yoga class (in an 85 degree room), a wedding where I wore a formal dress, and walking the dog in 75 degree weather. I can’t say I’ve noticed abnormal amounts of perspiration, but it’s hard to tell since it hasn’t been crazy hot yet. And it hasn’t stained my clothes either. I’m pretty curious to see how it will fare once the summer hits. I guess I’ll just have to see! And in the meantime, hopefully my body will adjust to using the homemade deodorant and will naturally produce less odors. I do know, though, that come summer, I will need to store this in the fridge so it doesn’t melt.

Has anyone else tried to make their own deodorant? How well has it worked for you?

And just a disclaimer: a lot of the reviewers on the Wellness Mama post talk about how their armpits broke out in a rash from using the deodorant (supposedly from the baking soda being irritating to the skin). I was scared I’d be one of those who would break out, but so far my skin has just been normal).

Natural Deodorant
recipe from Wellness Mama

Makes approximately 1/2 cup deodorant

• 6 T coconut oil
• 1/4 cup baking soda
• 1/4 cup cornstarch
• essential oils (I used 20+ drops of Jasmine oil)

Mix baking soda and cornstarch together in a medium sized bowl.
Mash in coconut oil with a fork until well mixed. (**I microwaved mine for 10 seconds at a time until it melted, and then mixed the oil with the baking soda, cornstarch and oil).
Add oils if desired.
Store in small glass jar or old deodorant container for easy use.

01-whollyKao_CrochetedtreeI’m on a crocheting kick. It’s funny, since last year I had no desire to knit or crochet. But this year, I have found myself making lots of mini Christmas trees. I had bought the pattern (and blogged about it!) back in 2011, and thought I’d share it again. We’ve been traveling a lot recently, and this is the perfect size project to take on the road. And each tree only takes an hour to make, which is great. Did I mention they make great little gifts?

The pattern is available for purchase on the Planet June website, and includes instructions on how to make a 5.5″ and a 2.5″ tree, as well as the decorative star that goes on top.

You’ve still got time before Christmas to make a few!