Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Dyed and Ready Rolling

Bath of Burgundy Currents Color
Mentioned previously that an experiment with the dye for the pearls was being tried out on the bicone faux crystal beads. First thought, originally intended to try just the loose faux crystal bicone beads in the dye, loose like the pearls are dyed.

Remembered this piece to the left, a partial bit of wirework with pearls and faux crystal bicone beads that was being made up during waiting room downtime, grabbed it instead and put into the dyepot.

Took it out, rinsed and dried.
And the results are in.
It works.
It looks great.
Need to make some more pieces like this.
See the dyed results to the right.

Which do you prefer, plain or colored? (be honest)

Still haven't had a chance to try the dye mix with polymer clay.
Definitely like this chain though, the effects are subtle between the small, medium and oblong pearls and the bicone beads, but the colors harmonize with each other. Every pearl and bicone are a lightly different color, just the way vintage would be, with the wear and aging.

The wirework process to make the links of this style of chain are very, very slow but the results are dramatic and possibly worth it.

Had some 8mm dyed pearls, the cocoa chanel (did anyone catch the joke - cocoa color, get it?) pearls pictured in an earlier post, wired rosary wrapped with red-tone metal, combined those with the brass sparrow in flight and added this small bit of chain horizontally between the links. This one is definitely going somewhere with me today.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Etching Metal - Safety FIRST

Here's my focus on the results of some safety research done about using muriatic acid and hydrogen peroxide to make a substitue for ferric chloride, the PCB etchant no longer available from Radio Shack for etching computer PCB circuit boards.

- First, let me say that I used to make my own soap using hot sodium chloride (lye) and hot oils to create the soap molecules, am not afraid of toxic or dangerous materials and understand that safety is foremost and substances can be respected and still be used.

- Second, safety is top of the list with me, when using machinery, drills, extremely high temperature kilns and torches. But it doesn't stop me from using things that might injure me if I don't pay appropriate attention to safety concerns.

I am seeing sites recommending using the muriatic acid plus hydrogen peroxide mixture, without a lot of safety information. In Europe, chlorine bleach is treated as a toxic substance while in America it can be purchased at the grocery store. All that taken into account, here is a list of safety and must-follow ideas if you plan to use muriatic acid and hydrogen peroxide to etch copper, brass or nickel items.

Safety is always the highest priority. Your hands, eyes and lungs are important and should always be protected. Your children, pets and plumbing are also important.

USE EXTREME CAUTION with etching solution, be focused on what you are doing and never leave it and walk away for any reason - this method of etching demands more respect than using ferric chloride, the etchant no longer available through Radio Shack, but which is still available at Rio Grande supplies (see link below). This etchant is much more agressive and dangerous to skin and eyes. Muriatic acid will eat through clothing and skin, even as a mist or tiny droplets. Always wear protective equipment, goggles and gloves, and keep a box of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) handy to neutralize any spills and to put on your skin, to wipe down the work area - any foaming shows where the acid has spilled.

1 FIRST locate and keep available Baking Soda (Bicarbonate) at all times for neutralizing acid and etchant spills
3 Don't use a metal container.
4 Do not use in your kitchen and keep away from food and beverages
5 Keep away from stainless steel - sinks, appliances
6 NEVER put down the drain or flush in the toilet - will eat pipes and very bad for septic tanks - copper ions very bad for fish in streams
7 Muriatic acid creates fumes - only use outdoors and do not inhale fumes
8 Wear safety goggles, latex or nitrile gloves, long sleeves, no open toed shoes - ABSOLUTELY necessary at all times
9 Wear leather or vinyl apron over clothes
10 Have a fan blowing fumes AWAY from you (yes, even outdoors) for ventilation
11 Keep the garden hose handy at all times to flush any splashes or spills
12 Don't use anything made of nylon in the etching bath, it will turn to sticky mush
13 Stainless steel tools (tongs, tweezers, burnishers, etc) will be instantly etched and dulled by the etching solution - use plastic or bamboo only
14 TOSS the gloves you use and rinse the vinyl apron well and hang to drip dry - the etching solution concentrates as it dries

Have a large container of cold water nearby to place etched metal in when degree of etching is obtained, then place into container with baking soda water and (still wearing gloves) sprinkle more baking soda on etched metal to completely neutralize it

Do NOT store in an open container as it will continue to give off corrosive fumes and vapors
Do NOT store in bottles, jars or containers that look like they might contain food or have food or drink labels on them
Recommend putting POISON-DO NOT DRINK OR SPILL labels on plastic lidded container

Do not dispose of used etchant by pouring into the environment - the copper ions are bad for fish and wildlife. Dispose as a hazardous substance.
If after reading all this, you prefer to use ferric chloride, a milder etchant that used to be available from Radio Shack, here is one supplier and how you can find it (there are others too):
RIO GRANDE - ETCHING SOLUTION LOCATION (you will need an USERID to log in, or call them on their 800 number)

Here are some links that talk about etching computer boards in copper and etching for model trains and spaceships, that contain much of this information:
Etching Links:


PLEASE be careful and use safe methods when etching metal. Your eyes, hands, plumbing, children, pets, garden and the natural world (not necessarily in this order) are worth protecting. If you have questions or comments please post.

Safety in Storage of Metal Etching Supplies - took a large plastic storage tub, the big one-piece ones with snap on lids, and am storing the etching solutions, potions and supplies in it with the lid on tightly. If anything gets knocked over or accidently spills it will be contained inside the plastic tub. Also those tubs have holes through the handles so a lock can be put on them, may not go that far but if the tub goes to the garage or shed later might do that, with a big sign on the lid describing the contents clearly.
Safety rules for metal etching.
Eye protection - goggles Clothing protection - leather or vinyl apron Skin protection - latex gloves, long sleeved shirt, no open toed shoes No metal containers, plastic only No metal tongs or tweezers, plastic or bamboo only Cover work surface with plastic Have baking soda (neutralizer) mixture handy at all times Don't breathe fumes, only use outdoors Don't pour residue in drains, will eat plumbing and septic tanks Always add acid to water! Avoid splashing Keep away from pets and children - label clearly and keep locked away

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Venus Four Ways

Backlit the glass really shows the enameled image embedded inside, the translucent fused and beveled glass looks a lot like old gemstones. The heavy chain adds weight, as the four glass gems make a large focal pendant. Like the way this came together.

While making it, was thinking of a story of a sailor out on the sea for months, going to exotic places and gathering souvenirs and putting them together into a necklace for his sweetheart back in his hometown, picturing the day he would give it to her and explain all the charms, beads and gems picked up during his time away.

Might not be for everyone, a standout piece, but very unique and special. Have been planning for quite a long time how to use the enameled fused beveled glass pieces, wanted to keep them together in one visual combination.
Later will mix up the metal etching solution if the weather is nice, all the research reading says to do that outdoors and wear lots of protection for hands, eyes and clothing. Would be good to write up the safety rules for metal etching.

Eye protection - goggles
Clothing protection - leather or vinyl apron
Skin protection - latex gloves, long sleeved shirt, no open toed shoes
No metal containers, plastic only
No metal tongs or tweezers, plastic or bamboo only
Cover work surface with plastic
Have baking soda (neutralizer) mixture handy at all times
Don't breathe fumes, only use outdoors
Don't pour residue in drains, will eat plumbing and septic tanks
Always add acid to water! Avoid splashing
Keep away from pets and children - label clearly and keep locked away

Friday, April 25, 2008

Heat and Heartstones

Have been struggling with this piece, really liking the rustic look of the Fleur de Cristos cross with fleur d'lis on the reverse, but having a hard time with all the inside curves and getting the wirework to come together.

Finally got it wired and patinaed, had to indulge in an extra flourish on the top.

Resembles some of the artifacts and crosses seen on the trip to Ireland, very rustic and worn looking. Will be great just with a simple dark chain, or could be really dressed up with rosary wire wrapped dyed pearls.

Also worked up the Venus Rising Fourth glass gems into a really unusual piece. Wanted to use all four glass beveled gems in one piece, and it worked together great, with the smallest gem becoming the dangle off the bottom of the large gem with Venus Rising, and the next smallest attached to the wire wrap at the top. Will post photos, believe it is a stunner!

Bead Batik

Fibre Design Ideas

Surface design is something very enjoyable, whether on fabric, in collage or on beads. Inspired by the patterns in fabric made by wax batik and dye, made a polymer clay cane in the spirit of batik fabric and this chunky bead was created using that cane.

This large-hole bead is usually worn strung on waxed linen or leather, or with a knit cord strung through it. Very simple, not fussy.

Not a large bead, with a matte rather than a polished surface. Appreciate the spirit of batik it resembles when worn.

Ideas for designs can come from many places, just by being open to seeing the possibilities.

Speaking of design possibilities, check out the interview for Susan of Stonz beads - her work is very cool and it's a neat insight into her design thought process.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Time For Time

Beads Galore
Made a while back, from some canes in polymer clay, with over sized holes for stringing on leather or knit cord. Had them strung and wore them for a while, now waiting for inspiration to strike on how to re-string them. Wonderful thing about beads, they can be re-worked if the mood strikes. Something new made from the same beads, combined in a new way. Always loaded with potential.

Took a day for spring, for flowers and light rain and walking, very nice and inspirational. Now have images of tulips and daffodils and baby tree leaves in mind. Want to make an old-fashioned locket with flowers on it, and maybe pictures of tulips inside.

The images from nature are very inspiring, now to let the mental images down to the fingertips and out into an actual piece of jewelry.

The interesting thing is not that the technique, medium or method is learned, but the expression to be made with it. Not to know how to do something, with polymer clay, metal, glass, wire - just to know the technique - but to have a vision of what to do with the results of the technique. The creative process, of bringing something to existence that wasn't there before, except as a mental picture in the mind of the artist or craftsman. Giving creativity permission to make something from the materials, that wasn't there before.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Silk and Bones

Have some carved bone beads that someone brought me from a trip, want to test the dyeing process to see if they will take the color.

Would like to match this new connector bead, the color is ginger-toned. The loops are darkened flat wire made oval, look a lot like a heavy steel or bronze type look.

Could see the bone beads mixed with costume pearls in the same shades and maybe some dark faceted glass beads for sparkle.

Posted this bead on Etsy in the expeditionD artbead shop. Have two more smaller ones that coordinate, have to finish sanding, polishing and buffing them before they are done.

Like the asian style imagery and the ancient, aged look.

Coffee, Tea or Pearls

Cocoa Chanel Pearls

These dark chocolate-colored pearls came out of the dyeing process last night and the color is very rich, deep and warm.

Putting together notes of the recipes (using the word 'formulas' sounds too scientific) to be able to reproduce the colors, nearly enough. Each pearl is slightly different, variegated, which is great and looks more vintage and natural than the costume pearl white they started.

Making small batches of these 8mm pearls now, these have a definite purpose in store. Can't part with these, want to make a new ID lanyard with them, the one in daily use now has white pearls.

Will use with red-tone wire for the wire wrap and possibly the brass sparrow charms that came last week in my order from Santabarbaradesigns on Etsy - don't know if there are more, these caught my eye because of the unusual shape. Will drill one hole just below the left wing for the lanyard leash to attach, then use the wings to attach the pearl wire rosary wrapped chain links, so the ID will hang down without unnecessary neck rubbing.

Having to wear an ID daily could be more fun with a lanyard leash made with these round cocoa bean pearls, don't you think?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Snazzy Jazzy Color

Took some of the pearls and wire rosary wrapped some, and used beading wire and crimp beads on some.

Really like costume pearls, learning how to get the colors and how to match the dyed pearls to the beads. Nice to be able to have a color palette to use with both.

The far right costume pearls were bright white and have a slight aged tint to them, like using strong tea to tint papers and age them.

The middle pearls are raspberry color, not all are the exact color but they have a nice variation in the color, more natural and aged looking.

The two left are large size (8 mm) gray costume pearls and the varying shades show well on those, nice neutral steel gray color and some with a slight gray-green hint to them.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Buried Treasures

Living on the Gulf Coast for many years, spent time walking beside the water, at jetties and boardwalks. Erosion and subsidence are always present and fill is brought in to raise the levels to preserve the shore.

During demolition and removal of houses the remnants are treated as fill along the shore, and the sand covers them in time, then the water moves and washes them up later at another place.

Walking beside a retaining wall a spot of color, partly embedded in the sand, drew attention, then another. There were tiny wall tiles, most cracked and broken, many abraded from washing in the sand, at the water's edge. Too dirty and broken to be used, it still facinated, like finding buried treasure at water's edge.

Created this little tile, Deco Tile number 2 of a series to be created in different colors, to recall that old ceramic wall tile found washed up in the sand years ago.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Macintosh Style

This is the Macintosh Glasgow bead that reminds me so much of the style in the Glasgow School of Art. The dark, coppery color, the style of the lines.

Not made specifically to be a replica of something from that style. Once it was made, the similarity struck and stuck.

Lightly sanded and buffed, to bring up a natural sheen. Lots of patina and wear marks, to resemble an antique.

Tried to focus in on the detail, the bead itself is small, with the triple loops to act as a connector.

Could see it used in a lariat, or connecting several strands of pearls or copper beads to a long stranded dangle.

Trying to get a Main Showcase on Etsy today, supposed to open at noon Eastern Standard Time. So now that daylight savings time is on, how does that work? Is it over, was it missed - or hasn't started yet. A little confusing. If you know - post a reply, not sure what is the answer.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Macintosh Glasgow

These drawings (sketches, really, done very quickly during a guided tour of the Glasgow School of Art) show some of the images of the designs by Charles Rennie Macintosh.

The building was a very unusual design. He was influenced by seamen coming in from exotic places, and the things they saw and brought back with them, hanging about in pubs looking at the sketches they brought back from Japan.
Lamps, building design, signs and staircases had a japanese influence to them.
The typed notes were added when the drawings were scanned, to make it easier to read.

See the signature of the tour guide in the sketch on the right at the bottom of the page.

Traveling with a journal or sketchbook, people will come and talk and ask about the drawings. A very good conversation starter. Sketches were done in permanent fine tip marker without pencil drawings first, very spontaneous and freely.

Photographs were not permitted during the tour, so the sketches captured the visual images. The tour guide didn't mind the sketches and notes.

Everything was designed by Macintosh, from hinges to heating vents to lamps. The beams in the ceilings and the legs of the library tables were carved with designs. Seeing the dark wood, the copper and the steel designs creates style influences even now.

Dover - Inspirations

This new book, 2000 Classic Designs for Jewelry, is available from Dover Publications and it has a wealth of copyright-free images that inspire all sorts of ideas about historical jewelry, bracelets, rings, the works. The images are all royalty-free, something that's very important to me. Eighty pages of ideas, and very inexpensive.

Dover books have been a great source of information for a long time. Lots of out-of-print books that they republish.

Nice things happening - interview on me on the Art Bead Scene website today and interviews of other bead artists and great content.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


One moment while the rummaging for the Scotland journal continues so the pages about Macintosh and the Glasgow School of Art can be scanned - here are some interesting sites.

Broke down and purchased 'SemiPrecious Salvage' book today, haven't even gotten a chance to take a peek. On this site you can see some pages inside the book. And the author, Stephanie Lee, has an Etsy shop and a tutorial on etching metal that comes highly recommended - thanks, Jennifer. ~~Update: Review of book on CraftGossip.com April 14 by Alissa Cyphers - Check it out.

Back to the rummaging. Had a dream about searching for the journal. (**update** the journal is found!)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Roses and Bees

Got these LITTLE BITSY bee charms from Patina Queen on Etsy and had to find something great to combine them with.

Made these matched rose oval beads, and the idea landed that what these flowers needed were a couple of tiny bees.

Put them all onto forged dark patina earwires.

These charms are very tiny, might have gotten lost on a bracelet or necklace, but perfect for these little roses, quaint and just the right touch.

Also posted a connector bead called Macintosh Glasgow, bronze toned that is so like the pieces at the Glasgow School of Art in Scotland from a trip several years ago now, by Charles Rennie Macintosh. When the setting was added and patinaed, it came to mind how much it resembled the style of Macintosh designs. Looks like glazed ceramic or bronze, can think of several ways to use it but posted to Etsy to hopefully inspire someone's creativity.

Will scan some pages from the Scotland travel journal on the tour of the Glasgow School of Art with his designs, and also the Willow Tea Rooms, where he designed all the fittings.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Intentional Creativity

Color Madness
Got some 2-part silicone mold making materials, now nothing is safe from becoming a mold for beads.

Mixed the first batch a little too long, but think there's one good mold coming out. It starts to harden quickly, no wonder the instructions say to chill to get a few more minutes to mold. Got to have the object out and ready, and just go fast.

Big plans to make a bunch of new beads, many thanks to those who have shopped my other beads in the expeditionD Etsy shop.

Here are some in-process photos in the polymer clay studio. See the timer in the photo on the left, a reminder to take things out when it goes off. And the potholder and place to rest the metal tray. Baking on the ceramic tile maintains stable heat under the beads.

Spring must be coming, look at the colors that are coming through.

Still have to patina and age, buff and polish the components and add finishing findings. Probably do that tomorrow in the basement studio, the messy one. Then the photographs. Got about 24 beads going today.

Also need to finish the glass items to ship out for the next magazine article. Lots to do in Studio B finishing off the glass pieces. Just need enough time to get it all in the works.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Scene of Creativity

It's All There Somewhere
A view of one corner of the studio, showing the very messy desktop, the daylight lamp over the desk for working early and late with true colors. The doors conceal storage for even more beads and supplies. It is possible to be so organized that nothing can be found easily. Purchased some vintage skeleton keys, know they are in the room 'somewhere' but can't locate them at the moment. At times, have spent too much time looking for things, sometimes just have to let them emerge on their own later.

Nice to have things out and ready when time is available. Sometimes only 30 minutes a day but having things out and visible maximizes the time.

Like working on a tray, makes it easy to move things and take to another room, portable. Have an old (calling it vintage sounds too fancy for this) metal box with a lid that also is portable. To use during waiting room, oil change and other downtimes.

The desk has cabinets and drawers, and the rolling desk at the back has a large bottom drawer for the dremel, buffer and other tools to be stored in.

Lazy susans for tools are great, have two on the desk. One with cubbies for jewelry pliers, scissors, rolls of wire. One flat one with spray bottles, gel medium and things like that. Just reach over and give them a spin when something is needed. Reduces the clutter - at least some of it!

To check out creative workspaces for other artists, look up On-My-Desk blog - people post photos of their work areas, creativity from all over, not just jewelry artists but all kinds of creative folks.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Dawning on Icons

Early morning photography, it lends a certain air of mystery to the pictures. Atmospheric.

Decided that there will not be time enough to make use of the madonna and child copper piece and have posted to Etsy. Hopefully someone can use it to make something wonderful. Have been saving for a while but the time has come to let it go.

Very unusual piece, sort of renaissance but the hammered copper has a kind of machine age feeling to it. Wafer thin, but tall and narrow, with a matte finish speckled with patina. Visually striking and different.

Planned to use in an assemblage or collage, an art piece.

Speaking of art pieces, and combining with knitting, check out the shop at goshdarnknit and see that it is possible to combine knitting, graphics, art and read her blog to learn more. Brings mixed media to a whole new level, doesn't it?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Effects and Sources

Where does inspiration start? Some things are obvious, nature, fine art. Travel brings new ideas and new images. Almost anything can spark a thought of 'what happens when' or 'if this works, then' while pondering. Fleeting and swift. Have to write them down or very quickly they fly away.

Images are from a journal kept during a trip to Ireland, basic supplies of watercolor pencils and graphite pencils.

Good quality paper, the journal was 5" x 7" and folded over, fit in a coat pocket. When ideas or images came, made sketches and drawings.

Usually nothing fancy, most of the time just black-white. This colored image is from a visit to the Library at Trinity College Dublin to see the original Book of Kells.

The pages from the Ireland journal on the left are pencil sketches made at the Ross Castle during a tour.

Spent several days staying at the cottages there, had time to make several pages of drawings and notes.

Just jottings, to capture the image and the ideas.

Some of the fun of the trip was locating new pencils, using them and bringing them back.

Sometimes ideas for jewelry designs would come, and they would be jotted down quickly, to try out later. Some eventually became actual jewelry designs.

Attracted to old things, but have a dislike of marring or destroying the originals. Like to create 'faux-tiques' or 'invented vintage' to get the effect without deconstructing the original.

The sketch is an idea for making faux vintage dice or game pieces, using polymer clay and acrylic paint to imitate the patina and wear marks that old pieces get in use and through time.

The drawing on the left, just jottings of an idea, became the earrings with faux dice pieces on the right.

Have a habit of carrying a spiral bound 3x5 lined notecard min-notebook with a fine point pen hooked into the spiral. The card is heavy enough to take the battering of being in a pocket or purse without being dog-earred, the lines provide a sort of grid. Just jotting down little cryptic marks help preserve the idea.

Have learned the hard way that the ideas are swift and fleeting. It seems that they will be remembered when studio time is available to try them out, but the hard lesson has been that they sometimes fade and leave without backward glances.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

PolyClay Gossip - Who Knew?

Just a big welcome and thanks to Heather Powers, the CraftGossip Polymer Clay Editor, for the mention on the blog and the pointers to the Belle Armoire Jewelry Article for Spring 2008. Just found out about it and was so excited, want to learn more about the group! Do drop me a reply, or send me comments to let me know you were here. Heather has a great tutorial on using her polymer clay beads on her blog, and a fantastic Etsy site called Humblebeads.

So excited about having guests in the blog, feel like tidying up a bit, dusting things off!

In that spirit, here are links to some poly-clay specific blog entries - almost like taking a guest on a tour, please stay for tea and cookies! Make yourselves at home. I can't wait to meet you!

Buffer and Image Transfer Post
Sanding and Polishing Post
Image Transfer Examples
Research on Image Transfer
Polyclay Tools and Studio