Evolution of Design

Have you ever wondered how the ring on your finger or charm on your necklace came to be? Designing Jewelry is a detailed multi-step process.  Designers use many different techniques to get the idea from their imagination to the final finished piece.  My process may differ from others, some have additional skills that I have yet to learn.  Currently I am working on a new component to build on my current collection.  As the Lotus pond is always a source of inspiration, I went back to visit and take a few photos.

While I found the Dragonfly appealing I felt unsure about my ability to capture the lightness and magical feeling of the wings.  My next thought was to create a bird, however I felt the size would not be the right scale next to the Lotus flowers I currently have in the collection.  Finally I decided to create a Koi fish, always a popular character in the garden.  Koi are also a symbol of perseverance and overcoming obstacles, both important reminders that resonate with me.  Other characteristics associated with the koi include good fortune, prosperity, courage and ambition.

Once I identify my muse, I work on a few sketches until i'm happy with the shape and detail.  From this two dimensional design, I work with a 3D CAD designer.  This part of the process is a true collaboration requiring patience and clear communication.  After a few rounds a final file is created which is then sent to a 3D printer that produces a plastic model.  This model is used to help determine the size of the final piece and to place the sprues (a channel through which metal is poured into a mold).  The final part of the process involves a mold of the piece which is filled with recycled sterling silver, resulting in the finished piece.

Hope you've found this breakdown of my process interesting.  Would love to hear feedback, and answer any questions in the comments.  To be one of the select few to get first looks at the new creations including the Koi, join the Karma Collective, my monthly email newsletter.

A visit to Lotus Land

Lotus Land-a modern day Wonderland!

Ganna Walska's Lotus Land is a beautiful 37 acre botanical garden located in Montecito (near Santa Barbara), California.  There are approximately 20 distinct gardens featuring 3,000 different plants from around the world.  While this non-profit private garden is open to the public, reservations are required and only available mid February through mid November.  There are two docent led tours provided each day, Wednesday-Saturday only. 

On July 5th I had the pleasure of touring this vast garden for over two hours.  Arriving ten minutes early at the visitors entrance, I joined the other guests lined up in their cars anxiously waiting for the gates to open.  After confirming our reservation at the gate we slowly caravanned to the parking lot adjacent to the welcome area.  Here we were checked in, assigned to a docent and politely suggested to visit the restroom (no other public restrooms available during the tour).  While there were relatively 30-40 visitors, we were separated into several smaller groups of 8-10, this created a more intimate experience and provided more room for discussion with the docent.

As we began our tour the docent provided historical information on the property, pointed out specific flora and fauna, and shared detailed anecdotes.  While I had briefly visited the property a few months earlier as well as visited the website on several occasions, I was not prepared for overwhelming influx of sights, sounds, and smells.  Additionally, the temperature increased and decreased several times during our outing, reflective of the plants and trees around us.  

The docent mentioned early on the reasoning behind the winding path, to provide a sense of surprise around every corner.  Even without this explanation this simple planing in layout of the gardens was evident, provoking awe and wonder.  Although the name Lotus Land evokes a sense that the entire garden would be full of lotus ponds, this couldn't be further from the truth.  We were initially led past a vast row of various Japanese style pagodas, recently displaced from the Japanese Garden currently under renovation.  We meandered thru the Aloe Garden, past a calming reflection pool lined with abalone shell, then circled the Water Garden where the Lotus were beautifully beginning to bloom.  Of course I could have spent the entire day here, taking photos and admiring the source of my inspiration, however there was much more to see. 

A few quick twists and turns landed us in front of the main house on the property, interestingly not the actual residence of Madam Walska as she was said to prefer the more quaint and adjacent artist cottage.  By this time the next several gardens were a respite of shade on this extremely warm summer day.  A large grove of Dracaena, the Fern garden with an ancient California oak, and a temptation of the pool.  Next was the insectary, established to attract butterflies and bees, the orchard, with a lemon covered pergola and a walk thru an alley of olive trees.  

Now that we were sufficiently cooled off, it was back into the baking heat of the cactus garden.  This garden coves three-quarters of an acre, featuring 300 different species of cacti.  Sand covered paths wind around raised beds, leading to an elevated viewing terrace near the center of the garden.  A short distance away is the Topiary Garden which is next to a long and luscious green lawn that extends from the back of the main house.  Here a lovely collection of Bromeliad are displayed as well as featured further along in their own dedicated garden.  The Theatre Garden was explained as a favorite of the elementary students who visit throughout the school year.  After passing through the Shade Palm and Succulent gardens, our tour ended back where we began.  The quaint and impeccably curated gift shop, graciously featuring Charming Little Lotus Jewelry, was our last stop before leaving this wonderland.  

I hope you enjoyed this overview of Lotusland, and that it has inspired you to take a short drive up the coast to visit. In addition to this lovely garden there are several delicious dining options in downtown Montecito, perfect combination for a day trip!

Success! I have live Lotus plants!

Part Three

The hardest part of this process (growing my own lotus plants) has been waiting for them to blossom.  After planting the tubers in April, the plants began to sprout leaves less than 2 weeks later.  So exciting to see these first leaves unfurl but then a little let down as I waited several more weeks for more leaves to appear and grow.     

Finally, close to 8 weeks in to this project a bud appeared.  At this point I began feeding my lotus pond tabs, these small fertilizer pills are easily inserted into the mud at the center of the pot every week.  The second week of June, my very first full bloom!  

In total I was able to grow three buds in one pot, two grew into full flowers and sadly I broke the stem of the third.  While lotus are very strong, during the growth period they can be a bit fragile so take care.  Once fully open each flower lasted approximately 3-4 days, this is typical.  Watching this process has caused me to appreciate and see the beauty in each phase.  

I hope you have enjoyed this series and are inspired to grow your own lotus!  Feel free to leave questions in the comment section or suggestions for the next mini series.  Click here to see my lotus inspire jewelry.

How to plant your Lotus tubers

Part two 

Its best to be prepared for potting before you unpack your tubers.  In addition to a proper pot, you will simply need dirt and water.  Everyday dirt from your garden is fine however if you use store bought dirt do not use potting mix, with peat or pearlite.  There are specific pond soils available labeled as aquatic plant media that can also be purchased.  Now that you have your pots, soil, and most importantly lotus tubers, it's time to start planting!

Once you have planted your lotus place in full sunlight and check back every few days to make sure the mud is fully covering the tubers and submerged under water, adding more water if necessary.  After several days you will begin to see the shoots grow and small leaves which will lay on the water.  iApproximately 2 weeks after planting the first vertical leaf or aerial leaf will appear. Now it’s time to fertilize.  Home improvement stores do not sell the type of fertilizer needed for your lotus, pond tabs are available at Bergen Water Gardens and Nursery which is the supplier I purchased my lotus tubers from.  According to their instructions tabs should be inserted into the mud every 2 weeks for best growing results.  Below are the first four weeks of our lotus life, you may notice that they were moved from the original plastic black pots in the above video and replanted into wide ceramic pots; this move was made because the black plastic pots were not appropriate, the water continuously drained out, again showing the importance of using the correct pot in the beginning.  

I hope you are enjoying this journey as much as I am, if so please "like", "share", and leave a comment.  Check back next month to see if the flowers begin to bud.  Click here to see the Floating Lotus ring, inspired by these early leaves of the lotus plant.