Welcome to Briarly Hill!

These are the musings and ponderings of the Artist from Briarly Designs, an online store of unique, handmade, sterling silver jewelry. I invite you to check out some of the pieces I've made and let me know what you think. Go to: www.briarlydesigns.com


P.S. - A lot of people come here looking for the whimsical "Shipping & Returns" policy my husband wrote. If you don't see it below, you'll find it in the archives under July 5, 2007.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, just doesn't seem to cover it this week. I am so cold and very grateful for my little propane stove in my studio. I did a show earlier in the month, JMU artisans fair. Over half of the booths were jewelry. All in all i did remarkably well, which made my heart happy! I can't wait until January so i can get back to playing, (preparing for my girls right now). Warm thoughts!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Even the birds are recycling

Last week we had some fairly strong winds. Strong enough that a sizable branch came down from the maple in our front yard. My son, Kabob inspector general discovered a nest in amongst the leaves. We marveled at the workmanship that one of God's winged avians had so brilliantly constructed.

Upon closer look we discovered that the bird had haphazardly woven in a plastic bag. Maybe he was helping us recycle or maybe he was just trying to waterproof the nest


Thursday, September 30, 2010


During the early 1900's and through the Great Depression my grandfather, Fredrick McQueston was a machinist by trade. Later he became a farmer then when he moved to Arizona he became a lapidarist. I was fortunate to inherit so many of his beautiful gemstones, cabochons and jewelry. I recently dragged out the tub of earrings and pawed through the masses to find a few to show tomorrow night when i display at First Fridays, downtown Harrisonburg. Most of them were clip-on earrings so I updated them to pierced. Thank you grandpa for sharing your talent with us.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Two new necklaces!

I have a habit of not finishing projects for one reason or another; bored, not the right materials, design flaw, you name it. Last week i decided to grab a couple of necklaces i have been putting off finishing because i just couldn't come up the right chain to go with either one. Not bad if i do say so myself!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


"penguins don't have disposable thumbs"... really, does anyone? My teenagers make me laugh! I think that at almost 15 it is a good thing that our youngest daughter D is back in school. And what are disposable thumbs anywho?

Monday, August 23, 2010

School Daze

My youngest daughter started high school today, while her older brother already a pro at the sport and a senior starts tomorrow at another HS clear across town. Open enrollment, oh no it couldn't be that easy,then they would be at the same HS. You see we had to move in December do to problems with the house we were leasing. We tried to find a house in the school district but to no avail. So now here I am with two HS students in two different HS. NOT FAIR!! Different days off, different starting times and ending times and my son no longer qualifies for bus service so we have to take and pick him up everyday. ARGH To top it off my daughter knows a whopping 4 people at the HS. It is a good thing that she is a flamboyant red head who is outgoing. It may prove to be what pulls her through. I on the other hand need chocolate.

Friday, August 20, 2010

What's in a name?

Changed the name of my blog today... I don't know what that means just yet, but it felt good so I did it.

Monday, May 3, 2010

I am an artist

It is a beautiful morning here in north-western Virginia, the early morning rain has left the lush green fresh and vibrant.
I am astounded that over the last month or so i have explored more fibre art forms than i have in the past several years. Silk, alpaca, purses and grocery bags. It felt good. My studio bulged with fabric, fibre and frustration as I realized that it all can't fit in my studio as it exists now. I also realized that in throwing my energy and time into fibre i have not explored jewelry or silver at all. This has led to reflective thinking on my part. I need balance. Knowing this, i have decided to be more haphazard in my flow of creativity, today silver lids for vintage glass bottles, tomorrow... spinning? I am empowered that I have choices, I can be creative every day!

Friday, April 9, 2010

50 Things to do before I'm 50

For the record i am not a day over 29, but i thought this might be fun. Anywho, I learned some important things about this little exercise.
a) It was really hard coming up with 50 things.
b) I am very conservative. (Yes, I would like to put going to Ireland on my list but lets face it, financially it's not going to happen and i want only things on my list that are doable.)
c) 52 weeks is not a lot of time to do 50 things...I might have to double up.

Here is a sampling; five of my 50.

1. Try 50 new recipes that are not all deserts.
2. Learn how to make a hinge on a piece of jewelry.
3. Create a dragon mask.
4. Learn 10 words in Gaelic. (i am hoping Breezyboo will help me with this!.)
5. Wear something pink for a day. (you have no idea how hard this is for me!)

So, there you have a sampling of my list. I still have four more to come up with and with any luck I will be successful!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Goat pee

I dyed last week. No, i did not misspell nor am I speaking from the grave. You see in my alternate life i am a fibre artist. (Yes, i prefer the European spelling, as in theatre and fairie) I bought some fresh mohair from Tralfarm and anxiously brought it home. Stuck at home do to transportation constraints I decided to dye. I had never dyed mohair before, and given the freedom to save time and dye "in the grease" (not washing first) I dove in. Here are several things i learned :
1. Do not dye fresh mohair on a rainy day when you can't open the windows.
2. No number of candles can cover the ripeness of goat in your house.
3. Watching your 17 yr old son run from the house holding his nose while screaming "what smells like goat pee?"...priceless!
Now i have beautiful colored mohair, ready to spin and a house thankfully that has been aired out.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Blog with fail sauce

Blog with fail sauce...
Or, fail sauce on my biscuit as my son Kabob would say.
I have been meaning to write something epic since January. I am not a writer, daughter Breezy Boo is. But, now that she is in Happy Valley going to college I have no one to edit my atrocious grammar. So, I have to do this all on my own. Spell check I love you!
We had to move in December, not my favorite thing to do, or to do in a snow storm… make that blizzard. The upside is I have a bigger space for my studio; the down side is it is in the basement and is a throw-back from the 70’s, I guess for that matter so am I.
So, I have begun the gutting of the studio. Ripping out the grungy carpet, plastering the brown paneled walls and giving the 1960’s asphalt tile found under the said grungy carpet a face-lift. Slow process given that I have a quick start personality. If I can’t complete a project in short amount of time I lose focus and interest. (My husband hates this; he is a one project at a time guy.) I find I have this same problem in jewelry making. I usually have no less than five projects going at one time. With so many projects going at once, I can work on any piece I choose whenever it suits my fancy. It all works out until I have non-jewelry projects like fixing the studio, spinning, felting and sewing taking over my studio space. Alpaca flying, beads and paint everywhere. When all this chaos hits in the very thick of things, what happens? You guessed it… I usually get an idea for a new jewelry piece.