Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wednesday Worktable

Here is this morning's Worktable:
4 projects, which I'll show larger pics of below. And my iPad, streaming a Netflix movie. Couldn't make it through the day with some video entertainment! And speaking of making it through the day, there is my ubiquitous Diet Coke - this particular one is number 2 so far today.

So, from left to right, here's what I'm working on:
A blue and silver dragonscale (chainmaille) bracelet - almost done; about 3/4 inch to go!

A beaded cabochon - the beading itself is finished, but I need to glue the ultrasuede to the back and finish the edges.

More repairs, or as I now call them (thanks, Maggie!): Do Over Jewelry! I don't get good color when I take photos at my workbench, because the necklace on the left is made with beautiful, stop sign-red bamboo coral, yet it looks Halloween orange here. And the triple-strand necklace on the left is made with huge chunks of rose quartz (and freshwater pearls and Czech glass), and was simply too heavy for what it was originally strung on (as was the bamboo coral necklace, for that matter).

Once the Do Overs are dispatched, I can move on to my own projects.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Books, Magical Thinking, and My Two Cents

I confess, I love reference books. Almost any reference book. I hoard reference books, purchasing them (often on a whim) and carefully stowing them away --- but for what?

I am guilty of magical thinking when it comes to books. I want the book, I crave the book and the knowledge it contains, and I get a wonderful glowy feeling when the book arrives. My purchasing can be triggered by an online review, or an ad in a magazine, or a recommendation from a friend. It is a sickness, I tell you.

Why is it a sickness? Because of the magical thinking - I might briefly look at the book when it arrives, but by and large it goes straight to my shelf, where it selfishly hoards its contents, while I mistakenly believe that merely owning the book means I now possess all its knowledge. Which, I kind of do, but not in any meaningful or functional way!

For instance, I probably own 35 books on metalsmithing, and last week I wanted to read one particular tip I remembered seeing in one of them on the day the book arrived from Amazon 2 years ago, and I had to page through all of my metal texts (and I confess, I was skimming quickly, so I actually had to go through most of them twice) searching for this tidbit. So frustrating - there must be a better way!

Let's look at my Jewelry Reference Library:

This is most of my jewelry books. Not all.

They are crammed in there - and pretty soon I am going to have to find alternative storage for the few other, non-book items in there, since I just ordered 5 more jewelry books last week (shhh!), and am barely able to sit still, waiting for the mailman!

Let's look at those other items in the cabinet:

Arrow #1: Jumprings left over from various chainmaille projects. All different sizes, shapes, colors, metals. This started as one lone plastic compartmented storage box, and is now simply ridiculous.

Arrow #2: 3 Jewelry DVDs - THREE of them - 2 on chainmaille, one on silversmithing. All three still in their shrinkwrap. Crazy. And a lot of those books contain unwatched DVDs, too. Craziness.

Arrow #3: My bead soup, in a gorgeous glass star-and-moon (former) margarita mix bottle.

Moving on. I resolved, sometime last year, to take home 2 books every weekend and actually read them, putting sticky bookmarks on the projects and tips I wanted to be able to find later. Until this past weekend, I was successful at toting the books home, but never, ever opened a single one. And about 4 months ago I just quit fooling myself, and just left them in their cabinet (The Library).

Frustrated by my inability to easily locate the information I wanted last week, I took home 2 books this weekend, one of which contained an (unopened) DVD, and I read the books cover-to-cover, and watched the DVD.

And this is where my two cents comes in:  As a jewelry instructor myself, after watching the DVD, which shall go unnamed, I want to share some of MY teaching philosophy when it comes to jewelry design and fabrication:

1) There are no Bead Police. This is true whether we are talking about actual design OR technique. To wit:

2) When it comes to technique, there is NEVER only one "right" way to do something. There are usually at least 2, if not more, ways to get from Point A to Point B, and beyond, no matter what it is you are trying to do, from crimping to soldering - so one person may advocate one way, and others will favor other ways, but the only way to decide which way is "best" is to try them all, and see what your own results are. The "best" way is the way that works best for you, and doesn't take away from the value of other methods!

And that is all I am going to say about that.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Red, Black, and Gold

I bought a new shirt, with a vibrant, busy pattern in black, red, and gold against a white background. Despite the busy pattern, it needed a bit of jewelry - know what I mean?

I kept it fairly simple because of the busy pattern in the shirt (those who know me well would say I kept it extremely simple!), using a few large bamboo coral rondelles, bookended by some onyx, and suspended from gold chain. And since I can't be too simple, I added a second, shorter length of a different gold chain, creating a double-stranded necklace.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Long Kazuri Necklace

I bought some black and white Kazuri beads (hand-painted ceramic beads from Kenya) at a bead show about 4 years ago and squirreled them away in my stash . . . and hoarded them, and hoarded them, and finally decided what to do with them!

The Kazuri beads have nice-sized holes, so I created a multistrand necklace with thousands of size 11 black seed beads, and a few 3 mm cube-shaped onyx beads. I hand-strung all the seed beads, 'cause that's the way I roll. This probably would have been the perfect project for one of those bead spinner thingies, but I don't have one, and it really didn't take too terribly long to get all these beads strung.

I used 5 different Kazuri beads - 4 have black and white patterns, and one is solid black. I like the symmetrical asymmetry (that's a thing, right?) The necklace is a delicious 44 inches long, and I've worn it long, but it can also be doubled up, like on the mannequin above, so it's very versatile, and goes with a lot of stuff.

I don't often string this many seed beads - I am a beadweaver at heart, sewing each little seed bead individually into intricate patterns, so I'll probably never invest in a Bead Spinner. Anyone out there have experience with one?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Bricks and Pearls

I call this necklace "Bricks and Pearls" because the handmade lampwork beads at the front of the necklace were called "Canyon Bricks" by the talented lampwork artisan who created them. They really do remind me of the walls of the Grand Canyon, too, with their beautiful colored horizontal striations, just like the various strata of rocks that line the Canyon walls.

I paired them with olive green keishe pearls, and am really happy with how this design turned out! It's available on Etsy, too...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Another look at the past

On Tuesday, I showed you the very first cab I ever beaded a bezel for.

Here is the second - made about a year later:

This was also made from one of my own pieces of dichroic glass, and I really love the colors.

Still working on the black and white jasper cab from yesterday...stitch, stitch....

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Worktable Wednesday

Here's what's on the workbench today:

On the left: a 3-strand necklace repair I just completed for a customer - it is just waiting for me to call her to come pick it up. This one was a toughie - it had been originally strung on thread, which had broken. What I thought were size 15 seed beads (making up 2 of the 3 strands) were actually even smaller than 15s, and were seamed beads. The slightest pressure on these seamed beads, such as merely sliding them off the worn thread, caused the seams to pop open - so I have my fears for the longevity of this necklace. The equivalent of about 6 inches of these beads were lost due to this fragility, since once they popped open, they would no longer stay on any beading material.

On the right: a rectangular cab I am creating a beaded bezel for. I have never done anything other than an oval, so this will be a new challenge. Black and white is a favorite combo for me, and this stone is gorgeous. It is a deep snow white (opaque) and a deep opaque black, and I have absolutely no idea what the gemstone is. I'd love to know, if anyone has ideas. It is definitely not snowflake obsidian. It looks very similar to this picture I found on the www - called "black and white jasper." I am not familiar with this name, and wonder if perhaps there is another name for it. Any gemologists or geologists or gemstone wizards out there?

I am champing at the bit for a new issue of Bead & Button to arrive, so I can start a brand new weaving project - I really have a case of beadweaving fever right now!

What are you guys working on today?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Beaded Dichroic Glass Cab

I'm taking a bit of a stroll down memory lane this morning - I have never blogged this before, but I am so into beading bezels for cabs lately that I wanted to show you the very first one I ever did - way back in 2008.

The cabochon is a piece of my own dichroic glass, to which I added various delicas, and light sapphire AB Czech firepolish beads. I then beaded a peyote rope with the gold delicas.

The sentimental part of me wanted to hang on to this, but someone actually bought it right off my neck! Can't beat that!

Monday, February 20, 2012

The matching earrings...

I also made some matching earrings for my BSBP ensemble, to go with my new bracelet.

These earrings are made with faceted aventurine and Vintaj Natural Brass findings.

Sometimes it takes me awhile to get a project completed, since something always seems to be interfering with my jewelry designing - but I eventually get there!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Matching Bracelet for my long ago BSBP necklace

Remember all the way back to last year's BSBP (Bead Soup Blog Party)?

This is the necklace I created with my bead soup:

I like this necklace, but I almost feel naked if I don't wear bracelets, so I finally got around to making a bracelet to go with this piece:

This bracelet has the keishe pearls and glass from the necklace, button pearls, more faceted aventurine plus some faceted green fire agate, some brown freshwater pearls, and more of the turquoise-colored seed beads from the bead soup. I used Vintaj Natural Brass findings, chain, etc. and wound some green sari ribbon through the larger chain. I love this bracelet!

I hand-forged the toggle from Vintaj Natural Brass wire.

And that's not all I made to go with the necklace....

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Amethyst and Pearl Multistrand Necklace: Hot off the Worktable!

The fruits of this week's labor, started Tuesday afternoon.

I have steadily worked on this one all week, and just finished it about 30 minutes ago. I got it photographed, and listed on Etsy, too!

In addition to the beadwoven endpieces, created from Jet AB2x cubes, there are graduated strands of gemstone chips (in amethyst, ametrine, citrine, and quartz), several large dark amethyst nuggets, and gold freshwater pearls. I used a Swarovski cosmic ring for the toggle closure (with a beadwoven toggle bar). Sari ribbon finishes off the back of the necklace.

Friday, February 17, 2012

This Revolution is NOT all about me

I am devoting some time today to the new ABC show, The Revolution. Tagline: The Revolution, It's all about you.

left to right: Dr. Jennifer Ashton, Tim Gunn, Ty PenningtonDr. Tiffanie Davis Henry, Harley Pasternak

I loved the concept of this show, and I wanted to love this show, after all, it stars Tim Gunn!

Unfortunately, this Revolution isn't all about me, and isn't for me.

I watched every day for 4 1/2 weeks, and watched my last episode on Wednesday, February 15. Over time, I found myself fast forwarding through more and more content, and here's why:

The Revolution is infotainment, I get that. However...

Despite the fact that ABC chooses to bill Ty Pennington as the star of this show (I'm guessing because they believe he is the best known, coming from ABC's own Extreme Makeover Home Edition - nepotism, much?), I am going to start with the BEST part of The Revolution, Tim Gunn. Who in my opinion is also the best known of the 5 hosts. After all, Project Runway has a huge following, ABC.

I love his segments, enthusiasm, and tips (despite the corny name they have given his "Timterventions" - cringe). Tim is the feel-good part of this show, and as I said, the best part of the show, in my opinion. Of course, I may be a little biased with my Tim-love, but this is how I see it. That being said, I have my bones to pick with Tim, too.

For example, Tim occasionally references certain wardrobe items he considers essential to every woman, and even devoted an entire segment to this recently. But Tim's closet essentials just don't match my lifestyle, and I can't be the only woman in America for whom this is true.

One of Tim's closet essentials: the little black dress. Per Tim: "every woman must have one," "a staple in every woman's wardrobe."

At least, in the recent segment devoted to the little black dress, when he showed his pick - which was a sleeveless black mid-thigh length dress - he clarified that his pick was universally flattering to MOST women. This dress was too short for me, and I would never, ever wear a sleeveless dress. I'll say it: I do NOT have the legs or arms for a sleeveless, above-the-knee dress.That said, in general, I liked the way Tim styled this particular dress, though I didn't care for the red velvet jacket with it (I don't like blazers/jackets period, and these are yet another of Tim's top closet staples). But to speak to Tim's larger point, that every woman simply must have a little black dress, I say not true. Not every woman is a 20- or 30-something, club-hopping, cocktail-party goer. And I have the ability, with items currently in my own closet, to dress up a pair of black pants for almost any occasion that a little black dress would cover!

I used to have a job that required far less than casual dress everyday, and I usually wore dresses with heels. When I left the corporate world 5 years ago I sold or donated every dress and skirt, and almost every pair of dress pants, I owned, and have never looked back. Jeans and khakis are so much more comfortable, not to mention more practical, for my current occupation. I don't have occasion to attend any functions where I can't wear pants, and don't ever plan to go back to dresses. I still have a lot of my heels (I love heels!) but haven't worn them in 5 years, either. I feel like I must wear heels if I wear dresses or skirts, but they are so bad for my neck, my back, and my plantar fasciitis.

And speaking of my neck: I quit carrying a handbag 5 years ago, too. And no, Tim, I don't wear a fanny pack! I keep my cell phone and a credit card, and a little cash, in one pocket, and my car key in the other. And I carry my iPad. And that's it. The makeup I start the day with is what I end the day with. I don't carry tissues, makeup, rings of keys, and whatever else women claim to need a purse for. (That craziness that Dr. Jen displayed in her 10-lb handbag was ridiculous!)

So - Tim's top 3 closet essentials (from his list of 10) are: 1) Little Black Dress 2) Classic Blazer 3) Classic Button-down White Shirt. I am not ashamed to say, I have none of this in my closet. Forgive me, Tim! Hell, for that matter, I don't think I have any of the rest of his top 10. Let's see: 4) Trench coat - well, yes - I have one. 5) Classic Dress Pants - oooh - I have 2 of the essentials! 6) Skirt - nope. 7) Day dress - nope. 8) Cashmere sweater - nope. Furthermore, I'm allergic to wool, and isn't cashmere wool? 9) Jeans - check, and check! 10) alternative to sweats - nope, again - but I have sweats! I know that doesn't count. I need a Timtervention.

And to mention just one more of Tim's segments - the "muffin top makeover". I enjoyed this segment, and thought his restyling of the brave women from the audience was wonderful, except for one thing. None of those women would have looked nearly so wonderful if they had simply sat down while modeling their new styles - their muffin tops would have been on full display. Show us these wardrobe makeovers in both a standing and seated position (lots of us spent the majority of the workday - not to mention dates, where we are seated at restaurants, movies, etc - seated) and you'll win me over!

My favorite part of The Revolution? Tim's honest self-revelations - about his last relationship, his inability to use a treadmill (overcome!) - or whatever...he is unflinchingly open and honest. And endearing.

So, I love Tim, but respectfully disagree with him on some topics. Which is as it should be - I just wish he didn't so often speak in sweeping generalities (though as I mentioned, he does sometimes modify his generalizations). But I never fast-forward through Tim!

I like Harley's segments, but he needs to quit letting Ty trivialize his exercise demos. I can't really take Harley seriously when Ty is dropping chairs on his own face, and making sexual innuendo about chest exercises. More about this later. But suffice to say, I have started fast-forwarding through much of Harley's stuff just because Ty is so annoying.

On to Dr. Jen. As a physician myself, I personally don't get anything from Dr. Jen's segments, though in general she does an excellent job making medical information accessible to the lay person. As a viewer, I have to say that find Dr. Jen's white coat off-putting and pretentious. They don't make Ty wear a tool belt, or Harley wear workout gear, or Tim drape a tape measure around his neck. We know Jen's a doctor; dispense with the prop. Hopefully, Dr. Jen's coat isn't used to distinguish her from Dr. Tiffanie, who isn't a "real doctor". And don't get me started on how silly it is to address a professional by their first name, with "Doctor" in front of it. It feels like Romper Room, like a first grader addressing their teacher as "Miss Anne". An honorific goes with the last name, not the first name. Listening to Tim and Harley call these women "Dr. Jen" and "Dr. Tiffanie" is infantalizing. It seems OK for Ty, though. LOL, not really. Stop it. Fast-forward factor for the Dr. Jen segments? 100%.

Dr. Tifannie is OK, and I like her segments in general, but I just find her a little too touchy-feely. For instance, I was really put off by her tears during the plane crash survivor's final reveal. She was moved, I get it. But the line was blurred for me; is she the objective therapist, or the new best friend? I expect health care professionals to be a little more dispassionate, and I felt no therapist would be openly weeping upon hearing that "journey". Even Dr. Jen was getting a little teary, which obviously bothered me, too. Especially since both women had known this woman for months, and heard the story over and over - so the tears just didn't seem authentic from any standpoint. Fast-forward factor - about 50%, depending on the topic.

So, just as Tim is the best part of The Revolution, there is a worst part, and that brings me to Ty.

Ty is inappropriate, an immature doofus, the class clown, with his constant attention-seeking behavior. He's Like everybody's skeevy uncle nightmare, wearing last decade's soul patch. Always quick with the quips, which are usually sexist or full of sexual innuendo/double entendres.

As I said earlier, ABC fronts Ty as the star of The Revolution: he is front and center in the promo pics and on their website, and he leads off the show: After just 1 week of watching, I started playing a little game with myself and my DVR when watching the show, trying to see if I could fast forward completely through Ty's opening screech "Welcome to The Revvvvolution!!" (picture him screeching that in his best "Goooood Morrrrrrrrrrrning, Hapless Fammmily!!!" voice.)

Almost 5 weeks into watching, and I'm still not sure why he is on this show. He just doesn't mesh with the rest of the format.

Ty has occasional little design segments, and home improvement segments. I literally cringed when he revealed the makeover of the sisters' living room in week one with that hideous tree, with photos slapped on it.

And then there was the segment on your home's front door - he discussed re-painting your door, and hanging a decoration, like a door knocker or wreath, on it, and then leered at the poor woman whose door he was making over: "Who doesn't love Big knockers?" She giggled, nervously.

But his worst offense is the mockery he makes of Harley's nutrition and exercise segments. During one episode, Harley was explaining how to use a wooden chair from your home as resistance for certain exercises, while Ty demonstrated. During the last exercise, a crunch with bent knees, Ty placed wooden chair on his legs after specifically being told not to by Harley. Gravity kicked in, and the chair promptly fell on Ty's face, as the camera quickly cut away. I wish I had a screencap! And this is not a lone example - Ty routinely uses poor form when demonstrating Harley's exercises, and is never, ever corrected. So if you don't know much about exercising, you may not get that Ty is screwing up, and you may be learning incorrect and/or unsafe ways to exercise.

During nutrition and health eating segments? They'll have an entire plate of cookies out as a prop, and Ty will just shovel cookies into his face while Harley and Dr. Jen discuss how high in fat and calories the cookies are.

And here is a tidbit from Monday, February 13's episode, where Dr. Jen was discussing how to get the most, hormonally, from a hug:

Dr. Jen: a hug should last 20 seconds
Tim: 20 seconds? That's a lifetime! A hug is about getting in and getting out.
Ty: that's a whole different kinda love. [Smirk]

Fast-forward factor for Ty? 100%. I think I could actually benefit from his home improvement segments, but I can't put up with him long enough to watch them.
So - I bid farewell to The Revolution. And cross my fingers that Tim will return for the next season of Project Runway (and you, too, Heidi!) We sure miss him on Project Runway AllStars!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Geometric Peyote Bracelet

As I said yesterday, I allowed myself to start a new project Tuesday afternoon only because I finished this peyote cuff earlier that day - I try to not start a new project until I finish another design because I already have almost 100 partially completed projects, and I have to put some limits on myself, or I'll never finish anything! Why is it that starting new projects is so much more exciting than finishing them?

So anyway, this is the original pattern I designed for this cuff:
There was an earlier iteration in 3 shades of blue-green, which just didn't have enough contrast between them to do the pattern justice, despite photographic evidence to the contrary:

This particular attempt already shows some deviation from the original pattern, because I decided I wanted to make the bracelet a little wider than the pattern.

So basically, I have been working on this bracelet for 3 weeks. Sort of. What you don't know is that I actually created the pattern 2 years ago, printed it off, and stuck it in my project cabinet, finally hauling it out 2 months ago and choosing beads, and then actually starting it 3 weeks ago, as part of my quest to finish uncompleted projects! But it sounds really bad to say it took me over 2 years to finish a peyote bracelet. I guess I can live with it taking me 3 weeks. (And in my defense, I did actually get a lot of other stuff done during that 3 weeks...)

Here is the geometric cuff:

I deviated again from the pattern, making it a little wider than the blue-green version, and I decided to hide the button closure underneath the bracelet, so that the full geometric design shows.

So, there she is. I like it!

The oil light started coming on intermittently in my car last night, my car that hit 150,000 miles last weekend. So I'm off to (hopefully) get the car successfully serviced before my shop opens this morning - and maybe even squeeze in a visit to Hobby Lobby with my 40% off coupon ..... fingers crossed!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Worktable Wednesday

Yesterday afternoon I assembled the beads and started stitching a necklace idea that popped into my head on Saturday, so this is what is on my workbench this morning:

Some amethyst nuggets, some amethyst and ametrine chips, and some gold freshwater pearls. And I stitched up 2 brick stitch connectors for the design, in Jet AB 4mm cubes (I know, what other color would I choose, right?)
Stay tuned tomorrow to find out why I allowed myself to start a new project! (Gosh, I hope you can sleep tonight lol)

So, for a little personal digression, here:

We are having a stunningly gorgeous day today - it is 65 degrees, the sun is shining, birds are singing - beautiful! Other than having a slight headache while driving to work, a great day! So I decided to allow myself a treat, and I pulled through the Chic-Fil-A drive thru to get a fountain Diet Coke - YUM! I stuck the cup in the car's cupholder, and continued across the street to the shop (yes, I am right across the street from Chic-Fil-A), and lifted the cup to take a long gulp, and discovered they had given me Coke. Not my delicious Diet Coke, but nasty sweet Coke. I know my friend, Sonya, understands how this can ruin a mood!

So, of course, I had to get rid of it - I don't like the taste anyway, but I could never drink all that sugar (though I could certainly consume 10 times as much sugar in the form of Krispy Kreme chocolate iced cream-filled donuts, but that's different. That's the Breakfast of Champions!)

So now I am settling for a canned Caffeine-Free Diet Coke, and blogging while listening to The View. Where "the ladies" (and good grief, do I use that term loosely) are having a big, loud, rant, led by Whoopi, about Whitney Houston, Drew Pinksy, and Nancy Grace. With Elisabeth chiming in her 42 cents. It's a "View-ha-ha"! I crack myself up!

Have a great day!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Little Chocolate, Please

A widget over there on the right sidebar of my blog generated this random "Cheeky Quote" today, which I feel is perfect for today (and everyday!!)

More chocolate! Now!!

Monday, February 13, 2012

This again?

I was cruising the web Saturday morning, reading news items, and found myself on the Atlantic Wire's page - reading about the yummy John Stamos.

As I scrolled down the article, the word "Facebook" in blaring red font catches my eye, so I glance over, to find this:

I can't really articulate why this bothers me so much, but it centers around my total lack of interest in my "friends'" web activities PLUS the fact that I don't feel like anyone else needs to know what I'm reading.. Good grief.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Girls' Night Out

Have y'all seen this feisty gal in my Etsy shop?

Her body is a polymer clay bead, her "feet" are a Swarovski crystal, her arms are 16g sterling silver wire, her head is a polymer clay bead (yay! Red curls just like me!), she wears a sterling silver daisy necklace, and she is hoisting a strawberry margarita. She is my idea of Girls' Night Out!!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Bright Red Shiny Metal Heart

This is yet another piece I created in the metal studio on our playdate last Sunday - I guess I had a really productive day - there are still some earrings I haven't even shown you yet!

This copper heart was cut using a template (I have no drawing abilities whatsoever, sadly); I sanded and smoothed all the edges, sawed a smaller heart in the middle, and then started enameling. One side was enameled bright shiny red, and the other side took 2 coats of clear enamel, revealing the beautiful natural copper color. I then freehand painted some red squigglies on that side, trying for a paisley look. Only you can be the judge of how successful I was, but I like the result!

The pendant hangs on bright red satin cording, with a lobster claw clasp.

I know it is a little late for Valentine's Day, but I love hearts, and think they are perfect year round!

And this one is now available in my Etsy shop!

Friday, February 10, 2012

New Copper and Swarovski Pendant

This is another piece I created in the metal studio last Sunday:

 Here is how the copper looked after all the cutting, drilling, and sanding, in preparation for adding the frame and crystals:

This pendant actually was inspired by a distressed, rust-colored frame that I found in the scrapbooking section of Michael's. Love the scrapbooking section! So many inspiring objects and fascinating tools and ingredients there!

I noticed how the frame matched a 20 mm Red Magma Swarovski Cosmic Square I had, both in color and in shape, and started designing the pendant on paper. Once everything fit and worked on the paper model, I cut the copper and did all the smoothing, sawing, and drilling.

Next, I textured the bail, then annealed it and rolled it into placed, then grommeted it to secure it. (The rivet is hidden in the front by the frame.)

Next, I placed the Swarovski Cosmic Square in the center, and then I attached the frame to the pendant. My initial plan had been to rivet the frame to the pendant, but the frame itself was way to thick for me to pierce, so I decided to do a little free-form wiring instead, adding Swarovski crystals (in Crystal Padparadscha) as I went. I love a little bling with my pendants!

So this is the back of the finished pendant, everything all tucked away and smooth!

And the pendant is available in my Etsy shop!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

"Raku" Copper Earrings

A few days ago we had our monthly metal studio playdate, where I experimented with an enameling technique which simulates raku.

I initially wound up with 5 pairs of similar earrings, even though I had used 4 different colors of enamel and left the 5th pair with NO color - just clear:
I love the way these turned out - but I learned that the process of exposure to the flaming, smoldering paper basically negates any efforts to add color to the copper, as the 5 different colors that went into the kiln all came out the same. I love what came out, but it would have been interesting to be able to influence the colors somewhat.

So, since I didn't really want 5 basically identical pairs of earrings, I decided to take 3 pairs and re-treat them with enamels, using a very light coating of a different color of transparent green on each pair:

It's subtle, but the pair on the left was colored with beryl green, the middle pair with turquoise, and the right side pair with sea green.

These are not bad, but I still like the original-flavor raku coloration the best:
I have 2 pairs of these, and so I stashed one away from myself, and will be offering the other up on Etsy later this week. Gotta take Etsy-worthy photos, you know. I'll slip back in here and drop the link when I get them listed.

So there are my raku earrings - lots of fun!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Worktable Wednesday

Here's what's on the workbench today:

This is the peyote bracelet I started last week. It is slowly progressing; I have lots of stuff pop up that interrupts me, and I decided not to take it home last weekend, so I have only spent a couple of days on it since last week. It is now just over halfway stitched. Patterns like this involve lots of counting, so I tend to take frequent breaks - it tires my poor old eyes out!
I hope to finish the stitching of the bracelet itself by tomorrow, and then start stitching the clasp. Fingers crossed! Unless the shop gets real busy - which would be terrific, too!

This is a custom necklace I need to work on today; a customer who frequently requests custom work brought in 2 of her necklaces, and a brass pendant from a 3rd necklace, and asked me to combine all these pieces and beads into one necklace. There's some coral, some onyx, and some brass beads to play with here.

This is custom job #2 I need to complete today - these freshwater pearl crosses belong to a new customer, who'd like them made into 2 bracelets (one white, one brown).

So, once I complete the 2 custom orders, I can move on to my peyote bracelet! Gonna eat some breakfast, and some yummy Diet Coke, first though!

And BTW, I put earwires in all those earrings yesterday, so I'll post pics of the completed pairs tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

"Raku" in the Metal Studio

Sunday was Metal Studio day again - we have such fun playing on these days! I wish we could get together more often.

This time, we decided to tackle an enameling technique known as "Raku;" it bears some similarities to the raku pottery process, as I'll explain below.

I decided to use the process to create several pairs of fold-formed copper earrings. These start off with a large sheet of 24g copper, which I then cut into 1-inch squares.

Next comes the folding - each square is annealed, then placed in the vise and manhandled until folded, with multiple annealings in between each fold to keep the copper soft enough to work with.

Here is one pair of earrings after all the folds are placed and re-opened:
The dark dusky color is firescale from the multiple annealings.

The earrings were then pickled for a long time to remove the firescale;

The acidity of the pickle solution actually removes copper molecules while removing the firescale, leaving a matte finishe, so I then took steel wool to both sides of each earring to get a nice bright shiny surface again (although I certainly could have left them matte!) And this is the point where holes are placed for the earwires - don't forget to do this before firing!

The firing process is next - 2 firings with clear enamel to both sides was first, to get a good base coating.

Then comes the "raku" firing. These are the pieces, ready for firing (the raku color of enamel is in place):

That's my trusty Paragon kiln ramping up in the background - it has to get to around 1500 degrees before we can fire.

Now, more about the actual raku part of the process. Immediately upon removal from the hot hot kiln, the pieces must go into a container (with a lid!) containing shredded paper, so that they will ignite the paper and then smolder under the lid.

Here is the roasting pan we used, filled with shredded paper, ready for the emergence of the earrings from the kiln:

Isn't my nice clean roasting pan pretty?

So, the pieces are yanked from the kiln and unceremoniously dumped into the roasting pan, whereupon flames start shooting skyward (have the fire extinguisher nearby!!) I quickly clamped the lid on the pan, squelching all but a little of the escaping, acrid, stinky smoke, and ran for the door to get this smelly thing outdoors. OMG it stinks.

After about 70 minutes, the smoldering process ends and the roasting pan is cool to the touch, and we can continue.

Opening the lid:
The square burnt up thing is the screen that the trivets were on. Underneath there, buried in the paper, are the trivets and the earrings. And can you see that smoky yellow film on my pretty roasting pan?

My entire roasting pan is now coated in this horribly stinky sticky gunk. Several washings with baking soda and clorox (not together!) eventually removed it.

I fished out the trivets and earrings, and this is what I had:

You can sort of see some interesting, "oil-slick" coloration here, but really not much to look at, huh? Just square brown blobs, in my opinion. Then I started to think (which can be dangerous!) - if that nasty yellow slimy stuff is all over my roasting pan, it might just be on my earrings, too...

So I took the earrings to the sink and scrubbed them with dishwashing liquid, water, and an old toothbrush. And this is what was lurking underneath that film:

Now you can see the reds and blues and irridescent I normally associate with raku!

Each earring looks slightly different, but I could find 2 that closely resembled each other enough to pair them into 6 pairs. And the more I look at them, the more I love them!

This was time and labor intensive (and I had to clean that mess out of the roasting pan!); if I hadn't chosen to fold form the earrings it wouldn't have been nearly so time-consuming and difficult, but I really love the result!

Now the 12 earrings are piled on my work table, waiting for earwires. Sometimes the very last, finishing step (attaching a clasp, anyone?) is the one I procrastinate on. Well, that, plus it was almost 9 PM by the time we finished the firings, and I wasn't hanging around to place earwires - I wanted to go home by then!