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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Making Twisted Wire, My First Silver Saddle Ring, and a Plain Twisted Wire Ring

I made this ring the other day...

... and I was explaining how I intended to use beaded wire around the cabochon, but I couldn't find it.  So I quickly twisted some silver wire and made this.  Which I think ended up looking better anyway.

I also ended up making a quick and dirty YouTube video showing how I "quickly make" twisted wire.  I think it can really add a nice touch as an embellishment (above) or even be cool just as a plain ring (below).

Here's the video...

But now I need to go put the other links on my website since I say "see my website for more jewelry making tips".  Ha ha ha!

If you feel like leaving a quick comment on my YouTube video, here's the link.  Thanks!

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Cost of Destash

I was going to bid on something in a Facebook destash group the other day.  It was a $5 item.  I was ready to place my bid and then I checked shipping.

It was $3.50.

I know that the actual postage for that item would be $2.54.

Something inside of me balks at paying an extra dollar to ship something that is an inexpensive destash item.  I hear lots of destash sellers bemoan that they still have handling costs and need to be recouped.  I'm going to disagree (mind you, this is all personal opinion, nothing more).
  • It's destash so the packaging doesn't have to be fancy.  When I ship my own jewelry, I do use nice new jewelry boxes, ribbons, tissue, bubble wrap, etc.  But destash items can usually be shipped with bubble wrap and/or recycled bubble wrap, recycled jewelry boxes, folded cardboard taped closed, etc.
  • You just aren't going to get me to pay 70% of the item's price for shipping/handling.
  • The other day I shared my sources for low cost new supplies (again, you can go recycled for about zero cost).  My total for brand new bubble mailer and brand new cardboard 3x3 jewelry box is $0.42 (see below for my sources).  
  • My logic as a seller of destash items says: "I'd rather suck up the $0.42 postage on every single transaction and make 100 times the transactions as some of my fellow destashers."  After talking with many destash buyers, I see a lot of them agree with me that shipping costs above the bare minimum often dissuade them from initiating a transaction.  In other words, if they see you tacking on $1-2 dollars in "handling" costs, they walk on by.  These are generally really low-priced items we're talking about... most can't justify paying $4 to ship a $2 item.
In the end we all have to do business the way that works best for us.  And through experience, I have learned that I'm much better off selling 95% of my destash and making less profit per transaction than selling 40% of my destash with a little profit padding. 

BTW, if you do want to keep some new shipping supplies on hand for when you run out of recycled packaging, here are my sources.  The costs shown include shipping.

I have Amazon Prime so these bubble mailers come out to $0.12 each:

As for the boxes, at first glance these seem like a super low price, but these guys add big shipping charges. Interestingly enough, however, even with the shipping charges, it’s lower than anyone else I could find. I order two lots of 100 each and they come to $0.30 per box including their shipping charges: http://www.storesupply.com/pc-13187-1007-cotton-filled-jewelry-boxes-kraft-87403.aspx

Both these items shipped really quickly. Bonus.
If you're interested in seeing what destash group I'm talking about, here's the link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/SRAJDdestash/ 

We destash everything related to jewelry making (tools, beads, findings, books, displays, etc). I pretty much list my destash items at garage sale prices. After all, I'm trying to get rid of things so I can get more things. :-)

Monday, March 7, 2016

Etsy Metal Blog Carnival: What Inspires Me Outside of Jewelry

It’s time for the monthly EtsyMetal Blog Carnival. This month team members are sharing information about non-jewelry inspiration.

This blog carnival is a great way to get to know some of the EtsyMetal team members. Please click on blog link at the bottom of this post to see the other entry for this month.
I love this subject.  I collect all kinds of things, both virtual and material, that inspire me.

Just thinking for a second... do they "inspire me" or do I just "like them"?  Is there a difference?  As an artist or a creator of jewelry, maybe there is.  Maybe some things that I like actually do INSPIRE me to create.  And maybe other things I like are just nice to look at and make me happy.

So let me explore some of the things that excite and inspire me.

Philosophical musings inspire me.  I love diving into a dilemma and hashing it out.  I did a series of jewelry based on some of my thoughts about things like "the paradox of the heap" (look it up... it's definitely food for thought).

My upcoming collection is based on my fascination with space and/or the cosmos... and our place in it.  Reading about the universe from a scientific standpoint is truly inspiring for me.

Other than concepts, some of my non-jewelry inspirations include:
  •  Artists like RenĂ© Lalique, Vilmos Zsolnay, and M.C. Escher


  • Concepts combined with art, like Kintsugi

It's fun to mentally collect things that inspire me and add elements of my musings into my own creations.

There are so many, many things that inspire me I could probably write a weekly blog post about it.

Check out the other EtsyMetal team member who blogged about the subject of non-jewelry inspiration: Andrea Ring http://amuckdesign.blogspot.com/

My First Experiments Etching on Silver with Nitric Acid

Those of you following my work know that one of my latest projects is making saddle rings (large, boho-style rings usually with a lot of decoration).

So I'm ready to start on my silver saddle ring.  First step is selecting a graphic to etch onto the base part.

You wanna guess how long it takes to find something I want?  I'll let you know when I get there.

Are there a million patterns that would look great on this ring?  Yes.  But apparently I want something special... something with meaning (well, meaning to me, anyway).

I have to decide if this is one of those times when I'm "overthinking" it.  Perhaps.

I settle on some nouveau style graphics.  I create two patterns.  One with bolder lines; it's a bit flowery.  The other seems more my style.

I can't show you my work in progress for my first rings because I'm using a purchased template and am respecting the seller's request not to show images of it. 

But when I switch to the other template, I'll include pics.

In the meantime, if you're curious to try saddle rings for yourself, Nancy Hamilton has some free basic templates on her website.

As most of you know, I've been working for many years to perfect etching on copper.  I even have a couple of tutorials.

Etching on silver is significantly different from how I etch on copper.

For silver, I start with this.  Etching mordant from Rio.

It's a diluted nitric acid.

I haven't used ferric nitrate, but hope to compare the two some day.

While I can't show you all my images from this work in progress, I can show you the non-proprietary ones.

Here's an embellishment for one of the rings.  I decided this was a good starting point for what to etch first. 

Sorry I didn't take a pic before etching.  It would have been nice to show you how crisp and clean my transfer was.

Here's a shot right out of the etch.  Most of the paint pen (stronger than Sharpie) has disappeared (it would be the very dark black around the edges.  Some remains.

I also notice that the nail polish I used as a resist (on the sides and back) seems to have come off.  Notice the "ribbon" of nail polish in the middle of the left side.

I lost a few spots of PNP (probably the strongest resist I use).  Upper left and middle.

Here's a shot after I cleaned off the resist.

Not a clean etch at all, IMO, but it's a starting point I can work with.

Here's the same piece after cleaning it up a bit more and getting it ready to solder onto the ring.

I go to the Rio listing and read the reviews.  Everyone says this etchant works way too fast and removes the resist and must be diluted 50/50 with water.  Truth be told, I did read the reviews prior to trying it out, but I like to see for myself (hey, don't want to believe EVERYTHING you read).

So in this case, my first impression is to agree with the majority.  One caveat... I don't actually recall if the mordant I put in the little glass vial was diluted or not.  Sigh (this is what comes from having months in between my experiments).

Since my etchant does seem too strong anyway, though, I go ahead and dilute it 50/50 with water (yes, adding the acid to the water).

As before, I go out every ten minutes and wipe off any crud that may adhere to the piece.  I'm not using an oscillator/vibrator or any sort... it's just floating in a bowl.  It is upside-down, but still.

So after 30 minutes, I run a fingernail along the top of the second piece and it feels bumpy.  So I pull it out and remove the resist, only to see not a darn thing happened.  Ha!  There was ZERO etch.

Stopped work in order to have breakfast... going back now to start from scratch.

I decide to take this ring blank and roll it through the mill just for variety.

Then I take new etchant and dilute it so I know exactly what I'm working this this time.  Luckily, I don't have to prepare another piece... I already have two more waiting in the wings.

I'll shoot for 60 minutes this time.

And by the way, when I'm done with this etchant, I'll probably switch to ferric nitrate.  I'm not comfortable with any of these, but I would like to etch silver once in awhile.

I check at 60 minutes and we have nothing that I can discern.

I check at 2 hours and 15 minutes and really still see nothing.  Getting a bit frustrated at this point.

Added a bit more acid to my diluted mixture.

It's possible I'm having a slow reaction due to the temperature.  Since I don't have an official venting system, I have the etchant outside.  According to weather.com, it's 58 degrees outside at the moment.  The etchant works best between 70-80 degrees.

At the 3 hour mark, I added more acid to the mix and ordered ferric nitrate.  (Mind you, I'm not really blaming the nitric acid... it's just that I've had time to research a little and I just want to try the third method so I have a good basis for comparison.)

At 3 hours and 40 minutes, my resist started coming off so I removed the piece.  There appears to be an etch, but not deep.  Not what I'm used to with copper (with copper I can achieve a deep etch in under five minutes).

I cleaned the piece and annealed it ready for bending into ring shape so I can solder the shank join.

Then I annealed the rolled shank, readying it for soldering.

My third piece is back in the etchant.  It's been over an hour now.  I've gone out and cleaned it off gently twice.

I admit to getting a little bored of babysitting the etching process, but if I get something useful, that'll be good.  No soldering today.  It's already three, which won't seem late to most people but if my day starts at five or six in the morning, I start to fade in the afternoon.  I do feel like someone who's put in nine-hour day... because I have.  I won't necessarily stop WORKING; I just won't do anything that requires precision.  :-)

So the final piece was in the etchant for about 90 minutes.  There was a total of about 1.5 ounces of mordant and .5 ounce of water by the time I was done.

Here are parts of the etches.

I have some errands to run tomorrow (and it's SRAJD application processing day).  But I hope to get back to working on these rings this week for sure.

3-21-16: Update... here are the two finished rings from the etching that day.

Thanks for tuning in! 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Smithsonian Virtual Tour, Cleaning Your Washer and Dryer, and Sterling Silver Textured Circle Links Bracelet

It's not that I want to procrastinate.  I actually feel really good after accomplishing something, getting a task done, crossing something off my list.

The problem is probably that I just have too much on my plate.  How did I become a type A person?  When did this happen?  I try very hard not to be a type A person.  My inner me is laidback and relaxed... very chill and together.  My outer me is the antithesis of this.   Oh well.

I've always felt my blog was important so I refuse to cross this off the list of things to do.

What have I been up to?  

I've been catching up on custom orders.

Had great fun at my semi-annual flash sale.  The next one will be August 1st.  Make sure you're signed up for my newsletter in order to get the code for that.

Want some inspiration?  Or just a way to kill a few hours?  Do this virtual tour of the Smithsonian: http://www.mnh.si.edu/panoramas/  

Talk about amazing, right?

And now for something random (but useful!).  

I recently ran across this very helpful and easy to understand video on taking care of (cleaning) your washer and dryer.  I'd already known about the dryer stuff but the washing machine stuff was new to me.  I'm excited to try here.  Here's the link: http://www.wimp.com/how-to-clean-washer-and-dryer/

Not a very cohesive blog post, but if I wait for perfection another two months will go by.

I'll leave you with one of my bracelets...

Sterling Silver Textured Circle Links Bracelet