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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Preparing for a Better Me

I posted something on Facebook today for people who tend to over commit. 

  1. "Thanks, but I'll have to pass on that."
  2. "I really appreciate your asking, but my time is already committed."
  3. "I wish I could, but it's just not convenient."
  4. "I promised my kids (my husband, my wife, etc) that I wouldn't take on any more commitments without consulting them first."
  5. "I'd be happy to do that for you, but this month is quite hectic. Can we talk about this project sometime in the future?"
  6. "I don't have the time, but (name of someone else) would probably be the better person to ask."

Sadly, I don’t recall where I got these brilliant examples of saying “no”.  I’d love to give the original author credit.  Maybe I’ll find it again someday. 

Anyway, the reason I’m mentioning it here is because I noticed that a lot of my friends were “sharing” this status on their own timelines.  This leads me to believe there are many of us who struggle with over-committing and/or being able to say “no” graciously (I can’t do it graciously or non-graciously).

So let’s take a moment before the new year starts and think about what our time is worth and about how it won’t make us bad people if we can’t help everyone who asks. 

This kind of reminds me of that quote that was falsely attributed to Meryl Streep, but is in fact from José Micard Teixeira, a Portuguese self-help author and life coach (and regardless who said it, I think it is worth sharing):

“I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism and demands of any nature. I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me.

I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate. I decided not to coexist anymore with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cheap praise. I do not tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance. I do not adjust either to popular gossiping. I hate conflict and comparisons. I believe in a world of opposites and that’s why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities. In friendship I dislike the lack of loyalty and betrayal. I do not get along with those who do not know how to give a compliment or a word of encouragement. Exaggerations bore me and I have difficulty accepting those who do not like animals. And on top of everything I have no patience for anyone who does not deserve my patience.”

How many of us know how we want to live, know what actions we want to perform, but still fall into the traps we’ve fallen in to all our lives?  Habits are hard to break. 

They say taking one thing at a time works best.  And the first step is to be making it conscious.  That is, btw, one reason I like making “reminder jewelry”.  These are pieces that to the outside world look just ordinary jewelry, but the wearer knows about the secret (and sometimes not so secret) message contained within.

There’s no shortage of “message” jewelry on Etsy, that’s for sure.  So it’s a concept people are embracing by the thousands. 

I think the idea of wearing a secret reminder gives more strength and power to the issue you’re trying to resolve.

Let’s take one for example.  You could have a simple necklace pendant with a beautiful bezel set stone on the front and stamped on the back is one word “BE”.  So as your wear this lovely piece of jewelry, no one’s going to question you about the back of it, but throughout the day, you fiddle with it, place your fingers on it, move it around on the chain… and each time you touch it there’s a reminder for you.  Be in the moment.

Be mindfully aware of what is going on around you.  Be immersed in the situation at hand.  For that moment you stop worrying about the test you have to take tomorrow or the yelling at you got from your boss yesterday.  You’re not planning out your grocery list or thinking about whose birthday you missed.  You are in the moment.  Whatever you are doing is taking your full attention and you are feeling the emotions of only that moment.

Sometimes it helps to break a habit if you can (temporarily or permanently) replace the habit with another action.

Say for example you’re a chronic worrier.  Each time you become conscious of yourself worrying about something, you acknowledge it and replace it with something not harmful to you… taking a deep breath, saying a mantra or quote, bringing a positive memory to mind, etc.  If you touch your jewelry, every time you use the replacement action, the jewelry soon becomes a catalyst for the replacement. 

It’s like performing an action while practicing deep muscle relaxation.  Soon, performing the action can bring about the same calm state of DMR (deep muscle relaxation) because your body associates one with the other. 

So don’t be surprised if you see a few “messages” heading out the door with Laura Bracken jewelry in 2015. 

People are ready, willing, and able to change the things in their lives that have control over.  Things that will bring more positivity and peace to them on a daily basis.

The new year seems like as good a time as any for new beginnings.  What one thing would you like to change and what steps are you taking to change it?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Why Buy Handmade and the Benefits to Buying Directly From the Artist

I'm dedicating today's blog post to the First SRAJD Holiday Gift Guide and the mention of some reasons for buying from SRAJD members.

Have a look at the shops within these pages, each ad representing an artist who sells directly to the customer.

The benefits of buying handmade and particularly buying directly from the artist are many.

Buying directly from the artist, you can have all your questions answered by the exact person who made or is making your jewelry. The person with the knowledge of the materials and techniques used, the proper wear and care for this piece, and the person to turn to for special requests or if problems arise.

Customer service and support is unparalleled when the only two people involved are the customer and the creator of the jewelry.

Working directly with the artist allows for special requests as well as being able to communicate design decisions clearly between customer and artist.

While handmade and quality will always cost more than mass-produced imports, when you purchase your jewelry directly from the artist you cut out the middle man and the price increase that usually accompanies the use of a middle man.

Many if not the majority of SRAJD members care about the environment and take proactive measures to keep their designs in line with repurposing, recycling, and sustainability.

Independent artists also care more about how well their products are made and what materials they're made of. So buying handmade directly from the artist almost always ensures higher quality, longer lasing jewelry.

There's usually a story to tell, too. Buying a bracelet that came off a factory assembly line won't garner you as much conversation with admirers as being able to retell how the artist carved this charm from a nut that grows in Hawaii and how the artist used a saw to cut the design in this piece of copper, how this piece was made by firing powdered glass in a kiln, or that this piece was inspired by the artist's childhood memory of going to the Grand Canyon.

There are so many more reasons, and when all is said and done you also may feel a little joy knowing that you're helping small business and independent artists. We are certainly grateful of your business and do our utmost to deserve your consideration.

Thanks and happy holidays!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Some More of my Challenge Pieces and Another Free Photo-Editing Tool

Went to BABE (Bay Area Bead Extravaganza) in Oakland last Saturday. Mostly to see my good buddy, but it was a nice treat to see all the lampwork beads in person I usually only get to drool over on the internet.

JC Herrel never ceases to amaze me and continues to move forward with innovative and breathtaking work. Have a look

I have some vintage JC beads… hope to update my collection soon.

I don’t think I showed you the piece I made for the weekly challenge that had a post-apocalyptic Road Warrior theme. 


Oh and here’s a silver ring I made for the Lord of the Rings challenge (sort of fairy or elfish). 

And I made this Edwardian style necklace for the Downton Abbey challenge. 


Did I already show you this? This Russian photography makes fairy tale scenes. Yes, when I was a kid (and then some), I was obsessed with fairy tales. In retrospect I think to my detriment, but not sure that’s material for a blog post.

Anyway, these photos are breathtakingly beautiful… have a look


And for my metal clay friends… how about this for a little inspiration… the PMC Master’s Registry’s Pinterest board



On the lookout for a free photo-editing program?  Give Pixlr a try (https://pixlr.com/)... nothing to download!

According to this review: “Pixlr is also free to use, with an impressive feature set for an online image editor. It supports many of the most common features that are found in regular software editors. Layers, shapes, airbrushes, scaling, gradients, color adjustments and a number of filters on top of that.”

And wiki: “Pixlr is a cloud-based set of image tools and utilities, including a number of photo editors, a screen grabber browser extension, and a photo sharing service. The suite was intended for non-professionals, however the apps range from simple to advanced photo editing. It can be used on PCs, and onsmartphones or tablets using a mobile app. Time put Pixlr on its list of the top 50 websites of 2013.”

While this didn’t fill me with confidence… 

… we all make mistakes and I’ve read enough to be more than interested in trying it out. I wonder how it compares to GIMP.  And remember, since it’s cloud-based, that means you don’t have to download it… love that. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

New Earrings, Kitty Help Replacing Kiln Coil, and all about Jo-Ann Fabric Coupons

Got some new earrings listed this week… 


Along with finally listing the charm bracelet I made for the Picasso challenge a few months back… 


Replaced the coil in my kiln… 

… with assistance that doubled my working time.

Had an idea for a product that may be useful to other metal clay artists (I’ll announce it when I get it listed). Just putting it out there so I’m more apt to not forget about it.

This website seems to have a lot of useful info for jewelry makers: http://jewelrymonk.com/

Got a text yesterday from Jo-Ann… a 60% off coupon for one regularly priced item in the store. Since my friend and I had planned to go out today anyway, we decided to include Jo-Ann's and by the afternoon had a brilliant idea what we wanted to use our coupons on.

I had been showing Dawn examples (from the internet) of colored pencil on metal. Here’s an screen shot from an image search: 

So we get all excited about trying this technique and think about using our Jo-Ann coupons on Prismacolor pencils.

We determine the set we could afford was 24 pencils. 

Normally priced at $40, the 60% off coupon would make them $16 per set. The computer tells us that there are 2 left in stock at our local Jo-Ann’s so I call to find out if I can order them online and pick them up from the store. No. Will they hold them for us, then? Yes, but they look and say there are none left.
We can use the coupon to order online, but $7 shipping and it would be two separate orders so that we could each use the coupon.

I decide to check Amazon and what do I see… Prismacolor Premier pencil set of 24 for $15.79 and free shipping.

Yay! Okay, it’s not instant gratification, but there’s plenty of other things we have to occupy ourselves in the three days until our pencils arrive.

There were two other products we need in order to try this colored pencils on metal thing… gesso and fixative.

So we start the scavenger hunt in my workshop. Man, I have A LOT of stuff! In no time I find a bottle of gesso… it says clear. Before I have much of a chance to debate if I want this clear or if I’d rather try using white gesso, I… yeah, find a bottle of white gesso too.

Fixatives, no problem. I have a choice of about 3-4. The two we end up selecting to compare are
Krylon Workable Fixative and Winsor & Newton All Purpose Varnish (matt). 

So now we can use our Jo-Ann coupons on other things. I wonder what the odds are that they not only carry Alcohol Inks, but that they have the one color I want (watermelon). After experimenting with a few things, I’ve decided I want alcohol inks on my folding screen for project #2 of my welding class. Now I just have to pick a design I want… still experimenting there, but Dawn gave me lots of good ideas yesterday and she spent most of the afternoon playing around with the alcohol inks and scrap steel pieces. 

In regards to Jo-Ann's price matching, I wonder if Amazon counts as a "club"...

Q: What is Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores Price Match Pledge?

A: Joann.com® does offer a price match policy. Seasonal items do not qualify for price adjustments. Patterns on Joann.com® are not eligible for price match with a Jo-Ann Store price. Please note that pricing may be different between the web site and Jo-Ann Stores for many reasons, including the timing of promotional events and product source. The Price Match Pledge will be honored on Joann.com® in U.S. Dollars (USD). Please see your local Jo-Ann Store location for their posted Price Match Pledge. Joann.com® will match prices when the following conditions are met:
  • Applies to identical, in-stock item only
  • Price to match must have been advertised within the past 7 days
  • Includes ads for competitors
  • Requires proof of lower price via original/current ad or print-out of online price
  • Excludes special buys, liquidations, doorbusters and club purchase

BTW, if you haven't already, you may want to sign up to get these weekly coupons from Jo-Ann Fabrics (and Micheal's almost always honors Jo-Ann coupons).
Print: http://www.joann.com/coupon/
Phone app: http://www.joann.com/mobile/
Text: text the word BEADS to 56266 (then don't forget to reply "y" to confirm your subscription to weekly text coupons).

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Etsy Search Engine and Relevancy... Getting Your Etsy Listings Higher in the Search Rankings

But first... I mentioned on Facebook that Hadar’s latest book included six of my pieces. A couple people asked me to show them which pieces so this seemed like the easiest place. 

If you’re interested in the new book (filled with awesome projects), here’s the link to purchasing it.

Making Etsy's Search Engine Work For You

Then I mentioned on Facebook about a little experimenting that I was doing while listing some items last night and I thought I’d come here and give some more in-depth details.

So around 6pm, I listed a couple pair of earrings on Etsy. I came back an hour or two later (giving them time to get into Etsy’s search engine... which actually seems to be more like 15 minutes for new items) and decided to see where they “ranked”. After all, who wants to be on the 20th page of any given search, eh?

The key is to pick words to search on that are generic enough so as not to really isolate/target my own listing. Like if I searched on “Laura Bracken pearl earrings", I have little doubt that my listings would show up on the first page.

As a matter of fact, my listings are the ONLY thing showing up if I search with those keywords. 

So too specific is out of the question. But so is too general. If I just search for “earrings”, the odds that my listings would be on the first page are slim to none (notice almost 2 million listings show up for that search). 

So the keywords have to be specific enough that I should be able to find my item in a search but not so broad that it will be a needle in a haystack.

Here’s the first pair of earrings. 

I try to put myself in the mind of the customer who may be interested in purchasing these earrings. Would they search for “large round disk earrings”? I don’t think so. I feel these earrings might appeal to a person who’d search for “petroglyph earrings”. So that’s what I search on.

And my item is on the first page of “petroglyph earrings”.

Discounting the promotional listings (the paid ads), I’m on the 10th row. Not ideal, but better than being on the second page.

Searching for “petroglyph enamel earrings” puts me on the first row but I feel that search is too specific and unrealistic.

My second pair of earrings is this. 

Since ‘blue earrings” is rather generic, for this one I search on “"blue enamel earrings".

By the way, I also click (over on the left menu) on the word “handmade” since I assume my customers are searching for handmade items. I just hope enough of them know to click that option. 

For the record, clicking on “handmade” makes the difference between my blue enamel earrings being on page 2 (not clicking on handmade) or being on page 1 (clicking on handmade).

So I'm on page one out of 5856 listings for blue enamel earrings.  I'm happy with that.

You’re not going to get every listing on the first page of searches, but getting as many there as you can will definitely help.

I’ve got a pair of pyrite earrings that I can’t seem to get any closer than page 3. 

I tried “pyrite earrings” (a pool of 4751).

If I go as far as “pyrite wire wrap earrings”, I am on the first page (of 973 listings) but I’d love to be found without being that specific.

And I wonder what puts me on page three and others on page one or two.

I look at the first page, thinking maybe I need to have “pyrite earrings” be the first words in my listing title, but no… very few of the first page listings have those words first.

Is it the number of views an item has had? I check mine… 75 views, 8 favorites. I check the listing next to mine. 8 views, 3 favorites. And on the other side of my listing? 156 views, 17 favorites. And next to that? 496 views, 13 favorites. Hm… not much of a pattern evolving.

Maybe it’s to do with how many items a person has in their store? 756, 674, 223… and me? 69.

Is it a combination of tags/titles along with views along with how many items are in your store? I can control my tags and titles. I’m working on number of items in my shop, but I’ll never have 700 so there is a limit there. And views? That’s out of my control, right?

By the way, I’m not saying ANY of these things have to do with how to rank in the Etsy search engine… I’m just shooting in the dark trying to figure out what does. J As a matter of fact, I just read an article that specifically said Etsy’s search algorithm is not based on number of views or how many items you have in your shop. Ha ha ha! But I’m stubborn… and still look for patterns anywhere and everywhere.

I decide to do one more test.  Even though my item was renewed three days ago, I go ahead and renew it again.  Within 15 minutes, it appears on the first page of the search "pyrite earrings".  Too bad that's a change that costs.  And I wonder how long it will remain on the first page.

I have seen my items leap from page 4 or 5 of a search to the first page by just changing a few words here and there.

For me, one of the most important keys is to imagine what my customers would type in if they were looking for THAT item.

I’ve also heard it said that quality of views is more important than quantity of views. As in, getting the RIGHT customers to look at your work is more important than getting a mass amount of the general population to look.

Okay, I’m going to take one more item and show you exactly what I do.

My threshold for searches is page 3. If I’m beyond page 3, I want to fix/change things.  I lie.  I really want to be on the first page of the searches, but I will definitely not allow anything beyond page 3, how's that.

So I take a necklace and start looking it up.

One thing that makes me not happy is to search on “silver snake necklace” and see in the pages proceeding my items all kinds of non handmade non silver snake necklaces… manufactured chains, necklaces having nothing to do with snakes, etc.

I’m wading through pages of listings and way too many of them are not handmade. I’m trying not to get angry as that does me no good and I don’t have all day to “flag” them even if I believed it would result in any kind of action (which I don’t).

All I can do is try to change the things I have control over.

The problem here is that, aside from the manufactured listings showing up, any silver necklace on a snake chain is also showing up.

By page 15, my customer realizes the same thing. They’re looking for a silver snake necklace but they’re seeing all kinds of things not relevant to what they’re really searching for. So they change their search to “silver snake pendant”, because in fact that is what they want.

Interestingly enough, it only changed the “items found” from 5666 to 4268. But now, at least, we’re seeing necklaces with snake pendants.

For a few pages, anyway. Then we start getting into the irrelevant stuff again. And this is EXACTLY why I need to move my listing to the first couple of pages.   The further in you go, the less relevant the items.

I could change my search to “fine silver snake pendant” but I don’t think most customers will be that specific. Although doing that would put me on the first page (but out of only 165 listings).

So off to do some editing.

First, I change the title from:

Snake Pendant of Fine Silver on Sterling Silver Chain Unisex Necklace by Laura Bracken
Silver Snake Pendant Necklace Handcrafted of Fine Silver by Laura Bracken

Next I change the first line of my listing from:

I created this 25x15mm snake pendant out of pure silver using the techniques of forming, texturing, firing, sanding, and burnishing.  

I created this fine silver snake pendant (25x15mm) using the techniques of forming, texturing, firing, sanding, and burnishing.

I also add “silver snake pendant” as a tag.

I’ve already got all five photo slots used, so that’s about all I can do for now.

Previous to these word changes outlined above, I wasn’t even on the first 15 pages of the search “silver snake pendant” (in a pool of just under 6000).

After one full hour I check one last time.

Whoa! I’m on page one, third row. Whoohoo!

And that was before I remembered to click on “handmade”. With “handmade” selected, I move up a couple spots.

Just to be sure I know what I’m doing, I’m going to take one more listing.

I test this one out by searching on “square garnet ring”. 

No good as an example, I’m already on the first page, second row.  Yay!

Let’s try this one.

Okay, searching on “lampwork copper necklace”, I’m not even on the first ten pages (1300 items).

Searching on “blue lampwork necklace”, I’m again not on the first ten pages (6000 items).

I look at my item again, trying to determine if those are appropriate search words.  Are these the kinds of words my customer would use if they wanted to find a necklace like this.  Yes, I decide they are so off I go to change things in the listing verbiage.

Checking two hours later, I’m still not in the first ten pages searching on “blue lampwork necklace”.   6000 items is a tough pool to crack.

However searching on “lampwork copper necklace” ( a pool of 1300 items), I’m on the first line of the first page.  That’s pretty good considering previously I wasn’t even on the first ten pages.


My advice is to look at each of your listings and think about how your customer would describe your item in 2-4 words. Those are the words/phrases you want to make sure are in your titles, descriptions, and tags. 

I told one of my friends, "Imagine your jewelry is all piled up on one table and you need to get a complete stranger to hand you a particular piece. Think about the words you'd use to describe the piece so this non-jewelry person could find it fast."

Then you have to use those keywords in your listing (title, description, tags).

And although they say it doesn't matter if the keywords are actually touching, my little bit of experimenting shows that it does make a difference. 

You can have the words "silver" "snake" and "pendant" eight times in your listing, but if someone is searching "silver snake pendant" and you don't have that exact phrase in that exact order, it won't rank as high.  I've tested this.

Until proven otherwise, I'd say whatever keyword string you think is appropriate for your customers to use would be one you'd want to repeat (as is!) a few times within the listing.

Making jewelry isn’t as simple as making jewelry. Well, it is if that’s all you want. But if you want to sell, there’s definitely lots of work that has nothing to do with making.

I’ve mentioned this before, but here again is my work formula. I spend a third of my time making, a third of my time marketing, and a third of my time managing.

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Sealant Testing on Metal -- The First of the Hardcore Experiments

The Sealant Experiments
by Laura Bracken

[Straight off the bat I want to thank those who are providing additional information and suggestions for my testing.  These first two rounds of testing were not definitive in any way and there's still lots of tweaking and more options to try.  

Please note that I did not "heat cure" the ProtectaClear.  I followed the manufacturer's directions.

In order to cover as many bases as I can, I will "heat cure" the ProtectaClear during the next phase of testing as many metal clay users swear by this.

It has also been recommended to heat the metal prior to soaking in mineral oil for greater efficacy.

In the next round, I will also be testing sheet metal along side the metal clay, for comparison.

Thank you all again for your suggestions and support!]

While some of my jewelry is more intricate and would be worn on special or infrequent occasions, a good portion of my designs are daily-wear pieces.  I am very (VERY!) concerned that the daily-wear pieces (in particular) can stand up to daily wear.

I make jewelry from fine and sterling silver, 14k gold-fill, traditional bronze and bronze metal clay, traditional copper and copper metal clay, and traditional steel and steel metal clay.

Steel, in particular, intrigues me, even moreso after taking a welding class at my local college.

However, the steel I use, whether it be sheet or powderized, is not stainless steel and the iron contained therein is subject to rust, leading to corrosion.  So one of my goals is to find ways to reduce the risk of rust showing up in my jewelry.

Additionally, there are times I'd like to protect my silver, copper, and bronze pieces from further oxidation.

So my goals for the sealant testing are to see:

  • What the sealant looks like on the piece (does it make the piece shiny, tacky, dull, etc?)
  • How well does the sealant resist water/air (to avoid rust and/or oxidation  
  • How durable is the sealant (will it last a long time?)
  • How easy is long-term maintenance of the sealant

Since powderized metalurgy (metal clay) produces a more porous end result, I opt for this material for my initial tests.

All of my tests used the same five identical charms.  Between testing I resanded (240 sanding band), cleaned the black and grooves with a radial disk, and repolished (220 sandpaper then 400 sandpaper), cleaned with denatured alcohol and allowed to dry completely.

Backing is Hadar’s Clay Low Shrinkage Steel XT, 6 cards thick, 24mm circle,  
Top is comprised of overlay of three Hadar high, one-phase firing clays
·         Center: White Satin (a steel alloy)
·         Right: Friendly Copper
·         Left : Dark Champagne Bronze

After firing per instruction the manuals, I sanded and polished to 400 grit.  I left the backing unpolished (but I did use a radial disk brush) because sanding and polishing metal clay burnishes the metal making it less porous and not all pieces are polished so I need to know the effect of sealants on unpolished pieces too.

For the liquid sealants, I dipped the entire charm into the solvent.  If I end up liking this sealant, I will try brushing on as sometimes dipping is less than optimal.

For the aerosol sealants, I coated according to the directions on the cans (generally three passes of the spray, 6-8 inches away constituted one coating)

Test #1  

I added a patina to the copper because I often patina my copper metal clay pieces and I need to know how the sealants work/react in real world applications.

One coating of each of the following:
Charm 1 (Protectaclear, dipped)
Charm 2 (Nikolas spray)
Charm 3 (PYM2 spray)
Charm 4 (Sculpt Nouveau Clear Guard, spray)
Charm 5 (W&N, spray)

All photos in this blog will get larger if you click on them (for those who like to see the details).
So here are the photos, before and after (right after… no stress testing yet).

I waited 24 hours for the coatings to cure. 

My first impressions of the finishes were:
Charm 1 (too glossy)
Charm 2 (fine)
Charm 3 (fine)
Charm 4 (fine)
Charm 5 (a bit too matt… lost some of the metal’s natural gloss)

Then I attached the charms to a sterling silver chain and wore the bracelet non-stop for two weeks.

In the above photo, the Windsor & Newton coating almost looks okay but that’s because it was the first one to wear off so at this point, I don’t think it even has any sealant left on it.

My conclusion is that one coating of these products isn’t enough protection.

I'm sure these products work great if a person:
A) doesn't wear the piece day-in and day-out
B) doesn't wear the piece in water
C) possibly stores the piece in a ziploc bag when not in use (this may be unnecessary for pieces with sealant).

But I prefer to know my jewelry can withstand normal wear and tear. I'd rather not sell high-maintenance jewelry at this point.  So more testing.

Test #2

This time I tripled the protection… if liquid, I dipped the charm into the liquid, let it cure/dry completely and repeated that two more times for a total of three coatings… if spray, I made three sweeps of the aerosol, let it cure/dry completely and repeated that two more times for a total of three coatings.

I switched up some of my sealants this time.  I may revisit this test with the three aerosol sealants from test #1 that I didn’t test this time (PYMII, Nikolas, Winsor & Newton)

Test 2 sealants:
Charm 1 (Protectaclear liquid)
Charm 2 (Mop n Glo liquid)
Charm 3 (Clear Guard spray)
Charm 4 (mineral oil soak, 4 hours)
Charm 5 (Renaissance Wax)

The coatings looked fine, I guess.  I think I’m acquiescing to the idea of coating my metal jewelry (something I’m not fond of) so I’m getting more and more used to the slightly glossy finishes of the sealants.

After allowing the sealants to cure for 24 hours, I put the bracelet into my tumbler with stainless steel shot, distilled water, and two drops of original Dawn. 

After fifteen minutes of tumbling, I noticed no effect so I put the bracelet back in and ran it for another 45 minutes (for a total of one hour).

I was trying to see which coatings would wear out first so was really surprised to see that although all the coatings look fine and intact, I was seeing rust on some of the pieces.  The first three charms all showed signs of rust.  Protectaclear the most, the other two slightly.  The oil soak and the Ren wax charms showed no signs of rust. 

None of the pieces showed signs of wear from the tumbling.  If the sealant wasn’t flaking off, does that mean some of these products allow water/moisture to pass through into the metal?

So those first three products may be fine for sealing copper and bronze from oxidation, but aren’t good enough for sealing steel against moisture. 

But now I needed to test things differently.

Test #3

Since the “tumbling in water” test kind of hit two subjects at once (water resistance AND wear and tear), I decided to break my sealant testing into smaller compartments. 

First, I want to see which coatings seal against water/moisture. 

After that, I want to see which coatings resist flaking for daily-wear type jewelry.

So the water resistance testing began.

I resanded the pieces and re-applied the same coatings as the previous test:
Charm 1 (Protectaclear liquid)
Charm 2 (Mop n Glo liquid)
Charm 3 (Clear Guard spray)
Charm 4 (mineral oil soak, 4 hours)
Charm 5 (Renaissance Wax)

After a day of curing, I put the charm bracelet into a dish of water and let the charms soak for four hours.


Charm 1 (Protectaclear liquid): front looks fine; some areas of rust on the back
Charm 2 (Mop n Glo liquid): for the most part, the front looks fine (the very bottom of the front has some discoloration, but in fairness to the product, when I dip a charm I continue to wipe at the bottom of the charm because of drip build-up, so it’s possible I compromised the results); same thing on the back… there is a little rust directly at the bottom of the charm where I’d been wiping after the charm was dunked into the sealant.

Charm 3 (Clear Guard spray): rust on the front in the recesses between clay types (this makes sense because my sweeping spray motions probably didn’t provide sealant to those recesses); rust also on the back (no recesses there).

Charm 4 (mineral oil soak, 4 hours): absolutely beautiful, no rust on either side and the recesses look good as does the overall evenness of the metal  on the front of the charm.

Charm 5 (Renaissance Wax): no rust on either side, but the recesses look a little funky where the wax got in and wasn’t wiped away.  Also, I think the finish looks duller on this one than on the oil-soaked charm.

Test #3b  

Although ProtectaClear, Mop n Glo, and Clear Guard all failed the water resistance testing, at a later date I can re-test them for how well they seal bronze and copper from oxidation (meaning those products may work fine on pieces that don’t contain steel).

But first I replace those failed three sealants with three other sealants and perform the water-soaking test.

As before I resanded (240 sanding band), cleaned the back and grooves with a radial disk, repolished the top surface (220 sandpaper then 400 sandpaper), cleaned with denatured alcohol and allowed to dry completely.

So now the line-up reads:
Charm 1 (Deft Clear Wood Finish Satin Brushing Lacquer liquid)
Charm 2 (MinWax Fast-Drying Polyurethane Clear Gloss liquid)
Charm 3 (Triangle Crafts’ Sophisticated Finishes Primer and Clear Sealer liquid)
Charm 4 (mineral oil)
Charm 5 (Renaissance Wax)

The Deft and Triangle Crafts liquids dried within a day, but the MinWax was still tacky after 48 hours so I kind of gave up on that one.  Even if it worked great… I’m not taking two weeks to coat each piece of jewelry. 

Both the Deft and the Triangle Crafts piece had three coats of sealant… two coats brushed, and the final coat dipped.

When placed into the water bowl for soaking, the Triangle Crafts piece got a milky coating on it. 

After hours of soaking then taken out to air dry, neither piece showed signs of rust (or so I thought… keep reading).  Five days later, still no signs of rust.

By that time, the polyurethane piece was dry, and although it only had one coat I decided to go ahead and water test it while I was there anyway.

No rust.

Now if you look at the close up photos, you’ll see a tiny bit of rust on the Triangle Crafts piece.  That makes sense seeing as how the sealant appeared to dissolve when the charm was put into the bowl of water.



It seems to me, sealants on metal may serve different purposes for different artists and/or for different projects.

I want a sealant that:

  • Keeps rust at bay or any metals containing iron
  • Maintains current patina on copper and bronze
  • Does not flake/wear off easily
  • Is easy to re-apply by customer if necessary
  • Ideally, would keep the super polished shine of bronze

I also want to explore what differences exist for polished metal versus unpolished, porous metal.

As I said, I still need to test these sealants for these other factors, but here’s my chart of how they stand up so far.

3 sealant coats
Rust Protection
Preserve Patina
No Flaking
Customer Maintenance
Mineral oil soak (3+ hrs)


Renaissance wax

Somewhat easy

Deft Clear Wood Finish Satin Brushing Lacquer liquid


MinWax Fast-Drying Polyurethane Clear Gloss liquid*


Triangle Crafts’ Sophisticated Finishes Primer and Clear Sealer liquid


Mop n Glo liquid
Sub par

Somewhat easy

Sculpt Nouveau  Clear Guard aerosol
Sub par

Special handling but easy

ProtectaClear liquid


Winsor & Newton matt varnish aerosol

Special handling but easy

PYMII aerosol

Special handling but easy

Nikolas aerosol

Special handling but easy

 * Only one coat of polyurethane

I will let you know when I update this chart.

All this rust talk being said, however, I'd like to mention a curious thing (although probably not as curious as I first thought).

Let's back up and talk about silver.  I noticed many years ago that when I "wear" a piece of sterling silver jewelry, I have to polish it a lot less often than if I leave it sitting on an open-air shelf in my bedroom.  Meaning, wearing a piece of sterling silver seems to slow down the oxidation of the metal.

This could in part be that through hand-washing and daily showers, the piece is actually getting washed regularly, but I think it also has to do with the metal being in contact with body oils.

My own purposeful "wearing" tests on steel and bronze have yielded odd and at times surprising results.

For example, I have two steel rings that I wear.  These are similar to these.

I don't take them off when I wash my hands, and I even go against the advice I give my customers which is to towel dry any steel jewelry immediately rather than letting it air dry.

Neither of these rings shows any sign of rust.  

I could almost expect that on the inside of the ring where my body oils would be in contact with and therefore distribute onto the metal.  But how does the outside of the ring stay rust free?

The only feeble theory I have at the moment is that these rings are not polished, so being very porous metal (as metal clay is), the oils from my hands distribute throughout the entire metal piece, acting as protection.

I suppose one way to test this theory is to polish up a ring and see how it stands up to the same abuse.

BTW, I will be adding testing with gun blue when I next update this chart.

Regarding bronze, the other day I wore a necklace and a pair of earrings made Friendly Bronze.  I ended up walking for five miles carrying a backpack and two bags.  It was 95 degrees out and I was one sweaty SOB for about four hours.

These bronze pieces had been polished to the brightest golden shine exactly like these pieces.

I was super surprised when I arrived at my destination, took off the jewelry, and saw the state it was in.

That's why I added another item to my list of things I'd like to see if it's possible... preserving the super shiny surface of highly-polished bronze in a practical setting (meaning wearing it not just leaving it on a shelf forever).

I did have another piece that had been polished then oxidized over time and easily polished back up with a Sunshine cloth.  So I'm wondering if the difference was the salt content (my sweat) that made such a devastating dull look to the polished bronze.  Which, btw, did not polish right back up easily with a Sunshine cloth.

Stay tuned for more info always.  :-)