Monday, July 30, 2012

North Bay Farmers’ Market ~ 10 Years of Success!

If you are looking for a great place to spend a few hours on a Saturday I’ve the perfect thing for you to do…
Come visit the vendors at the North Bay Farmers’ Market…we are open every Saturday, 8:30 am to 1:00pm, from the long weekend in May to the long weekend in October…rain or shine!  The Market is located in the McIntyre parking lot across from City Hall…always plenty of free parking in the area.

 I’ve been doing the Market for six seasons and I still come across people who, until I tell them about the Market, they aren’t aware it exists!  In a city of approximately 54,000 people this always surprises me…so…I decided to do what I could to put the North Bay Farmers’ Market in the spot light!
I’m somewhat biased but I think we have an amazing venue for the residents of North Bay to enjoy…we have much to tempt your senses from beautiful plants in the spring, rock gardens, potted plants, amazingly fresh produce, herbs, and sweet berries in season from vendors who are local to the area and who work hard to grow their crops for your enjoyment; delicious baking, honey and maple syrup and related products, frozen meats and ready-made foods, great jams, jellies, some sugar-free, the most amazing pickles that make your mouth water, chutneys, barbeque sauce, salsa, and antipasto.   Again all fresh, made with care with you the customer in mind. 

 Then to top it all off we have a wonderful group of local artisans who produce soaps, balms, etc., from natural ingredients, hand carved/crafted wood items, knitting, amazing dish cloths and dish towels made on the old fashion loom, we have blankets, and place mats…I’m sure they will outlive me; there are great tote bags, dog scarves and baby quilts.  We have jewelry designers, who use everything from sterling silver to treasures from the beach in their creations!  If you are looking for a greeting card we even have someone who makes those!  This season we have a booth where you can purchase fresh popcorn, coffee, tea, water, juice and soft drinks to go with it.  

There is always someone to entertain you every Saturday, which lends for a festive atmosphere to the Market…it is amazing the level of talent we have in our city.  If for no other reason you should stop by to hear some great local musicians/singers perform.  These great entertainers are Buskers in the true sense of the word…the Market does not pay them to perform, they rely on the generosity of the crowds for tips.  I applaud them…
Ken Black our talented balloon artist stops by each Saturday to entertain the kids with his amazing balloon creations…I’ve seen monkeys, flowers, swords, hats, faces, and even a vacuum, which was a great hit with the kids!
I was recently contacted by a face painter to participate in the Market…I have to say I was so excited as this is the one idea I had for the kids that I couldn’t follow through on…I’d looked for the past 3 years but wasn’t able to find someone who could come regularly.  I had a young lady by the name of Heidi but she usually had to work on Saturday.   When Melissa is face painting at the Market you won’t miss her as she comes with her face painted…so much fun!  

If you are wondering who will be performing at the Market on any given week, check out the Market Facebook page…
or my personal Facebook page    as I do a post each week with a photo and bio.

FYI…I’m always looking for new entertainers, singers, musicians, dancers, magicians, etc…send me an email if you would be interested in participating!!!

Each season we have a number of Festivals to add to the shopping enjoyment…this is the line up for this season:
May 19th, Opening Market Day 
May 26th, Pancake Festival  
 June 23rd, Strawberry festival  
June 30th, Canada Day 
July 14th, Customer Appreciation Day
August 11th, Corn Festival
September 8th, Garlic Festival
October 6th, Harvest Festival and End of Season Market  
Of course the dates are subject to change; always check the website for verification!

For information, questions or comments regarding the North Bay Farmers’ Market contact:
Nikoline Calcaterra - Communications Director
Soul Sister Creations
A-170 Oak Street West
North Bay, ON P1B 2S7
705-478-9473; 705-840-5630 or
Have I caught your attention…I hope so that was my intention…stop by, visit with the vendors, listen to the entertainer, bring the kids.  You won’t be disappointed…I’m sure it won’t be your one and only visit!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Argentium, sterling & fine silver...what is the difference?

As promised...this post is to inform my customers and viewers what the difference is between argentium, sterling and fine silver...there really is a difference!

As most people know "Sterling Silver" does tarnish after time!  How fast silver tarnishes depend on the makeup, how it is stored, how often it is worn and where you live, as with all silvers.   Sterling silver is 92.5% silver and 7.5% another metal, usually copper; it is copper that contributes to sterling silver tarnishing faster than fine silver.  This is due to the exposure to the sulpher in the air, which is caused by pollution, and other sources of sulfides. During the tarnishing process it starts out as a yellowing effect, eventually going dark.   I've used sterling silver since 2007 and my experience has been some silver products tarnish much faster than others...which is why I consider the possibility that the makeup of some silver has more copper… my silver items are stored in the same place in the same manner!   I've made a point to purchase my sterling silver from one supplier whose product I’ve never been disappointed with.  

For the most part, since I began working with argentium and fine silver, I use sterling silver for ear wires and wire wrapping…last year when the silver prices were so high I chose to use silver sheet until we saw a bit of a decrease in price, then went back to argentium silver.

"Fine Silver" is 99.9% pure silver, with generally either copper or titanium to give it what strength it has but I find it too soft for large pieces.   It is brighter and shinier than sterling silver and a dream to fuse.  It will tarnish but slower than sterling silver and it will generally be a discoloration rather than a dark tarnish as in the sterling silver, unless it is in an area where there are high pollution and sulpher levels, then it is more likely to be darker.   Thankfully it is usually easier to clean fine silver than sterling silver.  It is a favorite of mine to work with which is why I've been using fine silver since 2009.   When I first began working with fine silver I tried a few solid sheet pendants but unfortunately from my experience, fine silver is truly too soft to use in this manner.   Now I use fine silver all the time to make hammered rings, earrings and circle/irregular pendants...generally I use 16 gauge wire and smaller for these items, once hammered they are nice and hard.  I will often combine it with argentium silver in my pieces.

There are other metals which can be added to silver instead of the copper, such as germanium, zinc and platinum, as well as additives such as boron and silicon.

The germanium is the additive in Argentium Sterling Silver ...this is sterling silver that has some of the copper replaced with a metalloid Germanium. It is the copper in sterling silver that contributes to the tarnish with exposure to air.   Argentium sterling silver is highly tarnish resistant, purer, brighter, and eliminates fire scale when using a torch...a dream come true as most of us dislike the tarnishing aspect of sterling silver!  
 If you would like more information regarding the wonderful Argentium sterling silver check out the website here...

Argentium silver and fine silver are more expensive than sterling silver but I prefer to use these products.  Having said that… I enjoy working with all three silver products and while I prefer one over the other for particular reasons I will always work with all three…now added to the line up is the new silver filled wire that I began using this spring. 

Feel free to ask a question, leave a comment or pass along topics you would like to see discussed regarding jewelry, stones, silver etc.   If I don't have the answer I will do the research and present my findings in a post. 
Watch for a new post every Monday...
NOTE:  this is a remake of a post I did in 2009.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Birthstone for the month of July is the stunning Ruby!!
Along with the sapphire, emerald and diamond, the ruby is considered a precious stone. The ruby and its sister stone the Sapphire are a member of the corundum species...the word corundum means “very hard mineral used as an abrasive”.   You might be surprised to know the only difference between the ruby and the sapphire is the color.  
Rubies are found in Afghanistan, Australia, Cambodia, India, Kenya, Pakistan (Kashmir), Russian, United States, (North Carolina), Greenland and Vietnam, with some of the most important finds in Myanmar (formerly Burma), Tanzania, Thailand, and Sri Lanka. 

Deep Red Natural Ruby Crystal and Natural Faceted Ruby Cut StoneA composite terminated crystal from Madagascar and a Burmese (Myanmar) Faceted Stone, both natural

The ruby ranges in color from pink to blood-red in color.  The most desirable red (Latin – ruber) being blood red with a touch of blue, which is called “pigeon’s blood”.  The presence of chromium provides the red and the presence of iron explains any brown tones.  The color of the ruby will vary within each deposit making it difficult to determine the location where found by looking at the gem. When you hear “Burma ruby” or Siam ruby” more often this is referring to the quality not the source location of the gem.

The color is often uneven with stripes and spots throughout the gem, all natural rubies have imperfections including impurities and inclusions such as the needle like rutile, known as “silk” which the Gemologist uses to determine the real ruby from the synthetic ruby.  Rubies with a 3 or 6-point star are cut into cabochons to show the star effect. The presence of chromium provides the red and the presence of iron explains any brown tones.
Ruby Pyrite Marble Matrix Natural Mineral Specimenfrom Ganesh, Hunza Valley, PakistanThis marble containing corundum (the mineralogical name for ruby and saphhire) runs all the way from Afghanistan to Burma (Myanmar).
The ruby in its rough form is dull and greasy, as are most gems, but it is said once the gem is cut “the luster can approach that of the diamond “.  Since the 1960’s it has become common for the ruby to be treated with heat to improve the color, as a result the cost of a natural untreated Burmese ruby of 10ct would be on par with a natural diamond!    Having said that the ruby is one of the most expensive gems, with large ones worth more than diamonds, which is why they are often used for royalty/wealthy jewelry and insignia.
Ruby in Fuchsite (green mica) Puff Heart CabochonPuff Pillow cabochonBoth sides polishedStone mined and cut in India 
The ruby is hard with only the diamond harder, but it lacks cleavage*, as a result the ruby is brittle therefore, cutting and setting the stone must be done carefully.
Cleavage*: “Crystal can break along the lines of weakness related to the atomic structure (cleavage) in such a way that a flat surface which is called a cleavage plane is left. Where the break is not related to the fracture, the resulting surface will not be flat or smooth.  Fracture may be described as uneven, splintery.  Cleavage and fracture affect the strength of a gemstone as well as how easy it can be worked/cut/shaped”.

I admit I was surprised to find the natural, untreated ruby is such a valuable gem.  

Some interesting information:
  • The ruby is used to celebrate the 15th and 40th wedding anniversary.
  • It is used in ancient times for bad health and to protect against misfortune.
  • Placed on building to ensure good fortune to the building.
Don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or requests!

Watch for healing aspects of semi and semi precious stones coming soon…

  • Gemstones of the World, Walter Schumann,Third Addition,Sterling Publishing Co.Inc.
  • The Jeweler's Directory of Gemstones, Judith Crowe, Firefly Books, 2006

Monday, July 9, 2012

What is Silver Filled and why I use it!

This post will explain why I’ve been using “silver filled” metals since May of 2012.
As people know the price of sterling silver fluctuates, it has steadily increased, albeit slowly since January of 2004.  I began working with silver in 2008…at this time the cost per ounce began a more aggressive increase until the prices peaked in September of 2011.   As of the writing of this post silver is still approximately 125% higher per ounce than it was when I made my first purchase in 2008.  This of course is why the public has seen increases in the cost of handmade silver pieces from Artisans.   There will always be those people who will buy silver jewelry regardless of the cost…but… for many people the cost of silver jewelry, while considerably improved is still too expensive.   Retail stores offer silver plated items for much less which makes it understandable why people gravitate to something more affordable.
With the “more affordable” idea in mind I decided this year to give a new product a try…”silver filled” sheet and wire.     In March of 2011 I heard about “silver filled” products from a friend, and briefly mentioned the product on my blog in the spring of 2011.   I purchased wire then stored it away, partly because it was new and I felt I had to wait bit to see how 
it held up.
In November of 2011 I purchased “silver filled sheet and wire”… which I also stored away until this spring when I began preparing for the opening of the North Bay Farmers Market. As this was a new product at the time, they only offered “silver filled” sheet, silver clad on one side…the other side has the brass (90% copper, 10%zinc) exposed, which wasn’t a concern my customers.   Even though I was aware of this product for over a year I wanted to make sure it was something that would stand the test of time before I introduced my customers to it this spring. 
My “silver filled” jewelry has been well received… selling itself…the reason being, it is relatively shiny, can be lightly hammered, stamped, sanded, soldered and tumbled like sterling silver, which allows me to offer earrings and pendants with the same look as the sterling silver  pieces.   It isn’t as sparkling as sterling but it definitely is worth the cost.  I recently purchased the double clad silver filled sheet, which they didn’t have the first time I ordered…(sterling silver on both sides)I must say I’m considering continuing to work with the one side sterling silver sheet, it allows people to tell the difference at a glance.
I explain “silver filled” in the following way to my customers …a layer of brass to which a layer of sterling silver has been permanently bonded…it will not wear off!  Like sterling silver it will tarnish so keep your pieces in a baggie with an anti tarnish tab, or clean gently with a cleaning cloth.  As with silver avoid exposing your pieces to hairspray or other harsh chemicals.  This product gives the look of sterling silver without the cost!

Below is an explanation from Rio Grande which gives the technical description. 

I will always work with sterling, argentium and fine silver as they are my favorite mediums… there are customers who prefer their jewelry made from sterling silver…but… the “silver filled” product fills a niche in the market…one I’m happy to be able to accommodate!

I will be doing a post soon to explain the difference between sterling silver, Argentium silver and fine silver as many of my customers ask me that question on a regular basis.


Posted on Baytoday July 9th, 2012

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Something different!

For the past two years I've had an ad on a local online newspaper, Baytoday and recently I was asked if I would consider doing articles on Baytoday from my blog.   After careful consideration, as this would require one post a week, I agreed to see how it would work out for myself as well as Baytoday.

Every Monday there will be a new post...some you may have seen before along...many new posts.

Below is my introduction article for Baytoday ...

 I would like to take this opportunity to introduce name is Heather Cote, I'm a North Bay artisan who's been creating jewelry since October of 2006.  In the beginning my concentration was beading using semi-precious stones, Swarovski crystals, and pearls; eventually being drawn to sterling, argentium and fine silver wire and sheet, which are my favorite mediums to work with.
I've been a vendor at the North Bay Farmers' Market since 2007, where you can find me Saturday, from the end of May to the end of October, 8:30 to 1:00, rain or shine!  Besides being a vendor I'm the Buskers Coordinator for the Market.  We are booked this season but I can put your name on a cancellation list...or there is always next season!