Sunday, May 24, 2015

Amazon's Handmade Marketplace, The Truth About Art Shows, Visual Explanation of Camera Settings

Last post I showed you what I'd made during my stint as a student at my local community college (taking jewelry making).

Here's the final piece I made in class (last Monday was the official last day of class).

 

Been doing a lot (A LOT!) of yard and otherwise house work... not housework like dishes and dusting, but housework like replacing water filter housings, installing curtain rods, and fixing toilets (yes, again).

I was taking photos this morning for my next  unveiling of the new stuff (Monday, June 1st) but the camera battery died so I figured while I was charging that up I may as well get a bit of orchard work in.

Here's our helper finding the shady spot (after getting underfoot, climbing trees I was pruning, and hiding in the leaf pulling tarp).



Another Handmade Selling Place?

So, have you heard about Amazon's upcoming handmade selling venture?  They sent invitations to apply to select Etsy sellers, but you can apply here too.

Here's an article about it (sort of).


Sad Truth Video

If you've ever done an art or craft show, you may enjoy this YouTube video.  Funny, but sadly accurate.  (Thanks for finding this one, Katherine!)



ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture

Here's a great visual for those who would like a little help understanding some of their camera's settings and how to better get what they want out of a photo.

And that's it for now... off to start the sprinklers again and then heading into the workshop.

Now that I've set the date of June 1st for my next reveal, I'd better make sure I can meet that deadline.



Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Jewelry for My Final for Jewelry Making Class

There is almost always something to learn everywhere.

People questioned why someone who's been making jewelry for 15 years would want to take a Jewelry Making class at the local community college.  Man, a ton of reasons.
  • I got to try techniques I hadn't tried before.
  • I got to test out machinery I'd never used before.
  • I met some amazing people who are nice and artistic and inspiring.
  • I learned many, many things that would be considered "tricks of the trade" where people do things just a bit different that you've been doing them and it's fun to learn new ways of doing things and little tips along the way.
We had our final today.  Next week's class is kind of a party day.  I'm sad to see the class come to an end and we aren't allowed to repeat the class.

But let me show you some of what I learned and/or did.

The first day we learned wire-wrapping.  I have to admit I find this necklace to be the most uninspiring piece of the bunch (that's my fault).  I was so uninspired I stopped the wire-wrapping and just added chain to finish it up.


It was really weird using not my tools, not my beads, not my focal.... mostly the "not my tools" part.  My three Lindstrom staples (cutters, chain nose, round nose) are like finger extensions I'm so used to them.  Anyway, there it is.

I made a second piece to atone for how I felt about the first piece.  Here is it.


Do you recognize some vintage Alex beads

We got two homework assignments the first day.  One was to make a piece of jewelry from found or alternative materials (non traditional jewelry making supplies).

I made a "kitchen" necklace from Home Depot tubing filled with cut up old recipes and spices, then I made a bracelet from washers from Home Depot, then I added a pair of earrings made from vintage Bingo game pieces.



The second assignment was to make several designs of our initials in 1.5" squares or circles and bring the designs in the next week.  At which point we learned the basics of saw pierce work.  I call this my super hero necklace.


I was having fun with saw piercing.  Although I'd done it in the past (but only like twice), I felt like I understood the process better now.  So I cut out this deer (inspired by a cave painting in Utah) and it sat around for awhile until we covered rolling mill and rivets.


The following week we learned about carving wax for casting.  Here's a ring I carved with some koi on it but ended up not casting it.


And here's the bronze ring I did cast... yes, it's super beefy.



I learned I don't really enjoy carving wax.  I also don't enjoy cleaning jewelry after it's been cast.  Shrug.

We made scarf pins...


And formed bracelets (that I attempted to be artistic with by fusing/soldering a bunch of copper and silver scraps to)...

 


Practiced soldering some more, this time with a plain silver band that I'd stamped a msg inside...


We formed torque necklaces.  I embellished mine with a copper do-dad and another Alex bead...


Practiced with the rolling mill to complete some cuff bracelets and a pair of earrings...

 

We moved on to bezel setting...

 
 

We played around with enamels...

 
 

During enamel time, I took advantage of the array of colors (particularly transparents since my own collection of transparents is sorely lacking) and made sample color charts.

For two of the sets I compared the transparents directly on copper with the same transparents over a white base...




We practiced with texturing and forming...


And the one thing I didn't even have an interest in trying, I ended up rather enjoying... repoussé...


I have one more round to go with my repoussé and chasing tools, then I have to decide how to turn this into a piece of jewelry.

And speaking of tools, we ended up making our own.

First I got this inexpensive set of pin punches from Harbor Freight...



Then I use a large grinder to shape the ends...



Then used the belt sander to remove the razor edge top and to slightly round the corners...



And last, I buffed each piece with tripoli...



Tada!  My own set of chasing tools!



Our finals were yesterday and next Monday is the last day of class.  I will miss everyone and working together to explore new techniques and ideas.

Oh, yesterday I did try the one thing I'd not done before... reticulation.  I had a very hard time seeing what was going on under the torch so had to do more of a "feel the force" kind of thing than actually seeing what I was doing.  Some of the pieces came out okay.  I'll add photos when I get my binder back from being graded.

Friday, April 24, 2015

First Bezel Set Ring, Breaking Out the Sterling Silver, Jewelry Makers Reference Page, Torch Enameling



Why yes, it has been awhile.  My apologies.

Let me think about what I’ve been doing since I last posted. 

Lots of house and yard repairs. 

Someone spotted a tweet by Barbara Niven the other day where Teryl Rothery is wearing my earrings again and the caption is “Just finished shooting a fun scene…” so fingers crossed the earrings will be on a third episode of Cedar Cove.  Whoohoo!
https://www.etsy.com/listing/200930641/as-seen-on-cedar-cove-bohemian-folded
(That's a photo from last season, btw)

Made my first bezel set ring.  Not sure if I want to list it.  I’d probably have a pretty low price on it since the top is slightly crooked from the ring.  This is a man’s size most likely.  The Tiger’s Eye is frikkin’ awesome!


If any of my readers are interested in making me an offer, just contact me here.  I’m undecided if I want to list it.  I get the whole “it’s not SUPPOSED to look machine made” thing and while it’s structurally wonderful, the bottom line is it’s still crooked.  Ha ha ha!

Got a bunch of new things listed.  Here’s a tiny look.  If you want to see more and/or larger photos, click here.  Or if you prefer to shop on Etsy, here.  A couple of these items are already sold out but I plan to make more in the not too distant future.

http://www.brackendesigns.com/

Had fun finishing this new piece today.  Copper and Sterling Silver.

http://www.brackendesigns.com/

Then worked on some little fiddly soldering stuff which was an exercise in frustration.  Ha ha ha!  I think I’m more of a tomboy jewelry maker than a delicate, intricate jewelry maker.  That should surprise no one who knows me in person.

I just need to practice soldering small pieces that melt easily.  It would probably be easier with an acetylene torch rather than a kitchen or plumber's torch, but c'est la vie.
 
Here’s a link I want to share with my friends.  It’s from Contenti’s website.  Just a page with helpful reference PDFs (Saw Blade and Drill Size, Sheet and Wire Weights, Choosing the Right Bur, etc).

Had some friends over last Saturday.  We had a grand time... long day.  Did tons of stuff, one of which was I showed them how easy torch enameling is.  They managed to squeeze these beauties in between all our other activities.  Pretty cool, huh?


Watched The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug last night… again.  I adore Martin Freeman… well, and the whole Hobbit story as well.  It was a little weird hearing the proper pronunciation of Smaug as “smowg” rather than how I’d been saying it in my head “smog”, but I’ll get over it.

Reminded me of when I read the Harry Potter books to my kids way back as they were being published.  Hermione was “her-mee-own”.  Blew me away when I heard the proper “her-my-oh-nee”.  Ha ha ha!

 (This is funny enough for me to ignore the missing the apostrophe)



Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Solder Filled Sterling Silver Wire, Check Your Website for Mobile Readiness, and Copper Cuff Bracelets

The good news is, I got a new product and tested it out and rather like it (one caveat I'm still trying to determine the importance of).

But the bad news is that I forgot who mentioned this product and got me excited to try it.  I "feel" like it was one of my metal clay buddies, but oh my gosh my memory is a sad, sad thing.

Anyway, the product is solder-filled sterling silver wire.  What they've done is taken fine silver (.999 pure) and given it a solder-filled core, so that the make up of the metal still equals .925 pure silver and hence is absolutely technically still sterling silver.

The thing *I* am testing, however, is its malleability.  There are a lot of things I don't make out of fine silver because it's just too soft a metal.  The prototype of my Fairy Ring is a perfect example.


BTW, I have since started making these in sterling silver, but I'm still working on polishing them up.

And guess what... next comes a tutorial on the project!  Whoohoo!

Oh, where was I?



Ah yes, soldering this.  Since I only got 18 gauge to start with, I was worried I'd fry right through my first attempt to solder the wire.  I made a ring-sized loop in the wire, cut it, and filed the sides.  Then I laid it on my soldering block.

I recalled reading an article or tip in a magazine that talked about instead of heating the whole piece, just aim the flame onto the soldering block right in front of the join.  So my pick is pointing to where I'm going to aim the flame.


Here you can see where the flame is in relation to the join.


Within seconds I saw the join flash. I removed the heat, quenched, and it was good to go... no pickling.

But even after hammering (work hardening), it still felt like 18 gauge fine silver (even though it's technically sterling silver).  Too soft for anything but earring components.  I will, however, see if I can order heavier gauge and we'll see how that goes.


Are you mobile friendly?

How "mobile-friendly" is your website?  Test it out here.



How's school coming along?

Had fun making these copper cuff bracelets yesterday.  I decided to give them different patinas... both liver of sulfur only, though.


And the garden?

Apparently we're growing cats this year.


This is the view from outside my workshop window.  Normally, it's a vegetable garden, but mom cleared almost everything out for the winter... leaving just the right spot for Tennie.

And remember, no matter how awesome it is to have your alone time, also schedule together time with someone at some time this week.  It's important.