Sunday, July 19, 2020


2020 has insisted on changing everyone's routine.

Now, as teachers and providers of music, we are working every day to discover new ways to encourage and educate our students. At the same time, we are researching new ways to bring live art and music to our audiences. 

As instructors and creatives, we will not give up. We know how important access to the arts is to individuals of all ages, especially in challenging times. 

Fortunately, we have a means of continuing to educate our students through the internet. And we have found that it has been a special blessing for some. 

For students who have sensory perception struggles, online lessons have been a wonderful thing. Those students remain in a surrounding where nothing is changing. The space is in their home and is consistent. The piano is theirs.  The lighting, sound, and surfaces are all familiar to them. They can focus on a screen that is a small part of the world that surrounds them. They can look into this screen to learn and they feel safe and have more control of their learning environment. And that is a positive. 

Students working with Dolly Paul are now learning music in new ways:
  • over the phone with only audio access 
  • through the mail for those who are continuing exclusively with theoretical work, and 
  • through the internet with live time one-to-one lessons.
We want you to grow musically in a safe way. So lessons will be continuing on alternative teaching platforms, including online lessons, even when it is safe to come back together. There are more choices now. 

I care about you. Keep practicing. Keep sharing. Be kind to yourself and others. 🎵Dolly.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Natural Amber Resin or Imitation?

It happened again. Another show where customers told me my Lithuanian Amber pieces were too expensive because the guy a few booths down sold them a beautiful piece of amber for just $ xx.xx. When I lightly mention it to the other seller they always say, "Hey, it is a 'buyer beware' market and I expect that all my customers are educated individuals. Anyway, the color is amber (turquoise, jade, etc.) so I am not lying about the piece." 

Now let me take a minute here to tell you that a number of jewelers use a play on words when selling their goods because the US does not have a standard assaying process for jewelers. So, you really do have to trust your jeweler if you don't do your own research. Baltic Amber is a natural resin : However, the imitation resin that is sold as amber is a chemical mixture which is poured and fixed. So you see how they can use the word resin and not be lying to the customer. There are natural resins that form in nature, and there are chemical man made resins. Also, just as with any stone or metal jewelry, a piece of jewelry can be sold by its color and not its material. (Amber, Turquoise, Gold, Ruby, Silver...)  Do you understand this?

It does bother me that customers think they can get Baltic Amber, old Jade, and solid American Turquoise pieces for a low pricetag. And it also bothers me that customers think I am gouging them when I ask over $100.00 for pieces of true Natural Amber or Solid Natural Stone. So I am doing a little educational post today just to make myself feel better. 

Today's post will be on Natural Amber Resin vs. Imitation Resin. After this, if a customer wants to pay for imitation amber from a store or festival vendor, perhaps I will feel a little less upset. I am doing my part to aide the customer who chooses to be an educated buyer.

I am starting with Amber because of all the baby necklaces I see on children. I can usually spot an imitation resin or plastic necklace a mile away. And the parent will always announce how proud they are that they got such a good price on the necklace. Inside, I cry for the baby who would benefit if it were true Amber. 

What follows are photos I took this morning. I made a mixture of saltwater using a lot of table salt and warm tap water. 

The first photos are from a piece that a "reputable" dealer sold me which had already been set. I didn't have the privacy or the ability to clean the item so I could "taste test" it for a bitter imitation resin taste. And I have purchased stones from this person before that were true - so I trusted him. But when I got home and had the opportunity to look closer at the piece, I realized it was not natural amber resin. I took a hammer to it and broke it out of its setting for this example.

You will notice in all of these photos that the imitation resin sinks to the bottom of the container when placed in salt water. Fake resins and plastics are heavy and will always sink to the bottom of a saltwater mixture. 

Next, I strained the same water into an identical container, removing most of the imitation resin particles.

Here you can see the strained resin and the original salt water in a new container.

Next I added my true Natural Baltic Amber beads to the saltwater.

And this is the proof. AMBER FLOATS. This is usually how Amber is found on the Baltic seashore. It floats to the top of the ocean when it breaks off from its host. And then it is washed ashore. Amber is a light naturally formed resin and it floats on saltwater. It will not sink to the bottom of a saltwater mixture like heavier commercial resins or plastics. 

So, without taking your baby's necklace apart, simply break off one of the stones and see if it floats in saltwater. This will not work if the amber is attached to anything. The weight of string, etc. will pull the amber down. It has to be a free piece of amber. 

You are welcome.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Winning Entry

This was my 2014 Jewelry Division winner with the Folly Art Guild. It is sterling with etched copper. A beautiful work that was purchased for a Michigan collection. (sold) 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Sunday, May 19, 2013

How To Measure Original Art

How do I list the measurements of my artwork? This is a common question that I am asked, by students and, by other artists. It is also an important question that needs to be answered for the collector who is looking for a piece to add to their home, office, or private collection gallery. 

The confusion we encounter in measuring original art comes to us because common measurements - of hardware products, general store items, and yes, even frames that we purchase for our prints - are all listed in the standard US form of length x width x height. 

Art is listed by its: Height x Width x Depth (HxWxD). 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Liquid Detergent

I have been getting emails asking about a liquid detergent instead of powdered. I don't like the mess of liquid but some folks believe it does a better job of dissolving and washing cold water loads. So here it is. I would love your feedback.


2 gallons of hot water
1 bar of soap (I prefer Ivory)
2 cups baking soda


1. Melt bar soap in a pan with just enough boiling water to cover. Stir until the soap is completely melted. Do this on a low setting.

2. In a large pail or bucket pour in 2 gallons of hot water. Add the melted soap to this and gently stir.

3. Add in the baking soda and stir well.

Use 1/2 cup per average load. Use more of your detergent mix for over average or heavily soiled loads of laundry.

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Make-It-Yourself: Laundry Detergent

I have already had four people ask me how I make my own laundry soap this year, and we are still in January. So "Making It Yourself" entries are going to find a place in this blog. Low Country Studios is about making lives better with the arts and natural approaches to daily life - so, a "make-it-yourself" addition  makes sense.  

This laundry soap recipe is easy to make. I find that it works wonderfully - especially for my massage linens. You can customize the scent yourself, and it is less expensive than major brands. Also, if you don't like my recipe, there are many, many other sites on the Internet that offer liquid recipes and other dry combination recipes.

Step One: Gathering

1 box of Borax (I use 20 mule Team Borax because that's what my mother used.)
1 box of Washing Soap (I like Arm & Hammer - again the brand doesn't matter.)
1 cake of Soap (I find that Ivory works best for me because of scent sensitivities.)
1 good size, Close-able Container in glass or plastic (A large Shedd's Spread butter container or large sour cream container will work well. I happened to have had this large rectangle container around the house and chose it for this purpose.)
Wooden Spoon or Plastic/Rubber Spatula for stirring (From too many chemistry classes I have learned to avoid metal spoons when I am mixing anything other than food. Metal can act as a catalyst and alter, mostly weakening, your products.)
Grater If you don't have a grater, you can use a mandoline and then chop the thin slices with a knife.
Large Mixing Bowl

Step Two:

Carefully grate your soap into your mixing bowl or, if this is your first batch, your container.

Step Three:

Add in one (1) cup of Borax. Sometimes my Borax is clumpy. I use the end of my wooden spoon to de-clump it before pouring it out of the box.

Step Four: Add one (1) cup of Wash Soda

Step Five: Stir, a lot, until you have an even dry mixture.

Step Five: If you want to add another batch to your laundry wash container, make the new batch in a separate bowl before adding it to previously made batches.

Step Six:  Label what you have made clearly. This is especially important for make-it-yourself products because you are recycling already used containers.

To Use: I add one (1) to two (two) tablespoons, of my homemade dry laundry detergent, to the wash tub as it is filling with water. It is important to know that this is not a high suds product that you have made. And, that it will rinse more easily because of its low suds action. I have been told, by high efficiency machine sales persons at Sears, that this homemade product is safe to use in their high efficiency washers because of it's low suds action.

I like to add a couple drops of essential oil to my laundry. For extra sanitizing I use tea tree essential oil. I always add tea tree essential oil to my massage linens. It is also nice to add if someone has been sick, or has a skin concern within the family. For a nice feminine scent, you can add a drop or two of lavender essential oil - which also acts as a disinfectant. There are other essential oils that you can select from your local health food store.  Remember, a drop goes a very long way with essential oils! Experiment and have fun with your homemade laundry detergent. 
Your comments are welcome. Thank you.
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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Thank you Golf Digest and Matt Ginella!

It is always nice to be recognized for one's work. Imagine my surprise when a colleague told me that I had been acknowledged for my massage skills in Golf Digest!

In Detroit my clientele included members of the Detroit Tigers, Pistons, Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Michigan Opera Theater.  After moving to Charleston my focus has been on expanding my work to Golf and Tennis Pros.  Finding my name in Golf Digest made my day.  My thanks to Matt Ginella who mentioned my work at the Sanctuary Spa in Golf Digest July 2011.
What a nice surprise to be recognized for my work by Matt Ginella in Golf Digest July 2011. Thank you Matt! You made my day!

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Making Monotypes at Redux

I use oil on glass or plexiglass for my mono prints and monotypes. I also etch copper plates. Here I am creating monoprints at Redux on the French Etching Press. 

me working the french etching press

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Welcome to the Low Country Studios Blog

When I arrived in Charleston I received a greeting from a utility man who said, "Welcome to the Low Country, Miss Dolly." I remember saying to myself, "Low Country Studios. That would be a nice name for an arts focused business." (Why plural? I hope to open a number of studios for others to show, perform, teach, and create on the Southeastern shoreline.) The Charleston studio was born that day in 2004! 

A special thank-you goes out to Louise, from the Charleston City office. She patiently walked me through the steps I needed to get my City Market license and to open a business in Charleston and the State of South Carolina.  Low Country Studios is a Ltd. Co. within the State of South Carolina. 

Along with Music and Arts postings, I will also be sharing information on folk healing methods and body therapy information, which has been an interest for over 20 years. I have incorporated body awareness tools for visual and performing artists in private studio lessons since 1983.

I hope you find encouragement here and will feel welcome to share your thoughts on my posts. Thank you for visiting!