header info

To see what jewelry creations are currently available Click here!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Work Focus, Virtual Kitty Time, June Jewelry Unveiling

Work Focus

Are you focused?

In your artwork, I mean.

Do you feel scattered, leaping from one design/project/idea/theme/technique to another or do you focus on one thing and work and work at it until it is, if not mastered, at least not amateur?

I kind of joke about it saying I have ADD of Jewelry Making, but the truth is, I'm just trying to find myself.  And now it's time to start focusing.

Next week, I put aside my one of a kind designs and anything else that is something I want to do "for fun".  Play time ends, just temporarily, while I get down to work.

My website looks too scattered and I want to bring it back to cohesion.

My second goal is to have identifiable designs. My first goal is to have cohesion.

So I've made a list of pieces of jewelry of mine that have sold well in the past.  I want to put them into production (my version of production is rather loose compared with others but it's more than what I'm used to).

The list includes:
  • Minimalist enamel earrings and pendants (including sgraffito)
  • Hammered silver message ring bands
  • Fairy rings
  • Hammered silver links bracelet
  • Hammered silver stacker rings
  • Spinner rings
I will sneak in work time for one of a kind projects, but I'd really like to concentrate on stocking my shop with the above listed items as soon as possible.

Doing all this work, for hours on end will strengthen my technical skills.  It's a win-win.

Virtually Playing with Cats

In case your "time wasted at the computer" hasn't met its quota yet, you may want to check out this awesome humane society in Utah.  They have set up a system so people around the globe can take turns playing with actual cats in real time by remotely controlling some toys in their shelter.

Here's the info on it.

And here's the link to play with the cats.

What's Next at Bracken Designs?

New jewelry launches Monday, June 1st at 9am PDT!

Here's a sneak peek at some of the pieces...




See you there!

And don't forget to sign up for my newsletter for the 10% off coupon code.

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.