Saturday, February 28, 2009

Bright New And Old

It's been a blustery, cold day. No snow, at least not yet. Bundled up in the studio, with hot tea beside the workbench, I've been starting in on some of the big batch of resin charms I showed earlier. I wanted them to look ancient and weathered, with lots of character.

Apparently, no matter how careful I am or how many pairs of gloves I remember to put on, I eventually end up with something all over my hands. These are components that will be added to other pieces, to make one focal or parts of a design. Not sure exactly how they'll go together yet.

They are all handmade, and I applied my faux-tique technique to the resin, to make them look like artifacts from an ancient archeological site. And also applied some antiquing to my thumb while I was at the process.

I wanted to get some glass in the kiln today, too, but the day got away from me. I'd like to fuse some more faux gems for some of the pieces in the works right now. Maybe tomorrow I'll get the glass cut and into the kiln for fusing. And maybe it'll be a bit warmer, too.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Color of Easter Eggs

It's been a really, really hard week at the day job. Lots of hard soul slogging things that have to be done, many deadlines. Rushing around, trying to do things so quickly and seeing the days go flying by, hectic. I need some time with the jewelry pliers in my hands. I need to WHAP some wire - REALLY HARD!

I mentioned that I had a bag of ceramic beads, with lovely colors and assorted shapes, that I got from Gaea. I've been dipping into the bag lately, the colors are so rich and sweet. Put together with brass and copper filigree, I made this pendant with a long metallic-looking dangle.

I made the square focal pendant, letting the colors in the ornate garden gate looking bead help me choose the beads. I found the oval, egg-shaped bead among the ones from Gaea, and it's a perfect match. The wire is annealed copper with a dark patina, and the rosy color of the copper goes really well with the salmon and rust colors in the square pendant.

The thing that brought it all together for me was the filigree, it brought all the pieces together like they were wrapped in a lace doily, delicate and brass colored framing.

It's listed in the Etsy shop, if you want to see more photos. Thanks, Gaea!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Framing Thoughts

I showed this little seashell framed specimen in an earlier post and it was unfinished, I had to figure out how to finish it and complete the hanging part.

I have been hoarding some of Gaea's ceramic beads from a bead mix she sent me a while back, so I encased a round one in some oversized filigree and used it to finish off this dangle. The resin shell is framed and sits on top of a resin cabochon - if you look through it there's a transparent golden glow through to the back.

The golden ruddy shell looks like part of a collection from a victorian showcase, especially with the black ornate frame on the back.

Or like a slide for an antique projector, the kind they used back then in showing glass slides. Maybe of an expedition to the Amazon in South America, brought back by ship to show to their countrymen. Hanging up, it looks very old and well-worn. Check out more photos at the Etsy shop.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Here's the third necklace I finished over the last couple of days. I'm working on several, sometimes all at one time. I like using the matte black beads with the faceted and shiny ones.

I've been playing with shapes for beads, this is a hollow tubular bead with three holes in it. I wasn't sure how I might use it until I saw a design by Lorelei Eurto. I hadn't seen her necklace before I made the bead, so it was a fun moment when I thought her idea could inspire me. Her brass tube focal doesn't have three holes, but I loved how she used the two holes with wire to suspend dangles below the focal bead.

I planned to list just the bead, but decided I wanted to try designing with it myself. The colors, tone and shape of the necklace is different from Lorelei's but it caused me to think about the bead in a new way.

I used a double link chain for the dangle below the tubular bead. The bead itself has lots of interesting design and color areas, it reminds me of batik fabric designs, so the warm copper tones seemed to work really well with the color. That's one of my hand dyed costume pearls at the top as an ornament for the bead.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Small World As the Wing Flies

That Lovebird Bead, being used so succesfully in a design by Deryn Mentock, is in her class at Art and Soul 2009 in Portland . She's also in the Jewelry ZINE that Catherine Witherell collaborated to create, and a co-organizer with Catherine. Such a lot of creativity flowing out there, it's amazing. I knew about the design, but I didn't know it was going to become part of her class, it was a nice surprise.

So I went out to the Etsy store to refresh my memory on the ones I've made, and I think I need to make up some more. These are a matched pair of little bronze colored love birds. I think I made them in the autumn.

This is a light peach rosey colored version that looks very spring-y and Easter seasonal, don't you think? The hole on them goes through the center, top to bottom. I've used them in some designs as a dangle or focal bead.

And this minty, grass green version. I definitely need to make some more of these, they were fun and it's almost spring again, definitely time for lovebirds in the air. I saw a robin in the yard!


In other news updates, I went to the post office last night and had a bonanza! My copy of the Spring 2009 Belle Armoire Jewelry Magazine with my article in it has arrived, and there's lots of good company in it. Deryn Mentock has an article, and so does Gaea! So if you get a chance run down to the booksellers and pick up a copy, it's full of great information and beautiful photography on jewelry techniques and inspirations. If anything, I think it's thicker and has more pages this time. It goes on sale March 1, but sometimes you can find it a day or two early in the periodicals section.

I also had a package from Catherine Witherell, the Jewelry ZINE arrived, and I was lost in it for hours last night. It's full of good information, it's beautiful - go to Catherine's blog and get the information on how to get a copy, you'll be happy you did!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Winged Words

Here's the second necklace I finished in the last few days. I showed the crowned, winged face focal bead a while back, and decided to add the word 'W-I-N-G-S' as a dangle. When I started putting it together I wasn't thinking about Mardi Gras, with Fat Tuesday coming up. But the vintage freshwater pearls and the brass prayer box started me down a path of expressing emblems for the spring spiritual season.

The main focal piece reminds of of old cast iron decorations on the fronts of buildings, that get painted and weatherworn, with the dark metal showing through the worn-off color. The hook is handmade brass, attached to a bead that looks like a piece broken from a cathedral stone trim.

The image reminds me of some of the cemetary stones I saw in Ireland and Scotland, with the wings and crowns on them. The feeling of being out in the weather and worn, and probably touched by many hands over time.

This special little necklace is in the Etsy shop, if you want to see more photos.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Slow but Hopefully Sure

I've been so busy making beads that I haven't slowed down long enough to make some jewelry with them. I don't know if this happens to you, but after a while I begin to think that I'm not sure where to start.

I made this hollow tube bead with ancient-looking writing on it. It has areas that are crackled, and it looks really old and worn. I wanted to make something with it, something wearable, instead of just listing the bead on its own. So I started getting out vintage style chain, claps and bead caps. It began to go together with copper and brass touches.

A while back at a collaboration creativity gathering, some test beads were made using frit on copper tubing. I wanted to make something special with the beads, the enameled copper drops. They have large openings, so I used bead caps at both ends, and they took on a really vintage, antique look.

That's when I noticed that the colors of frit on the copper went really well with the colors on the hollow tubes. I used it to make a long dangle bead on the bottom, using a brass headpin with a flat paddle end.

I must be the slowest jewelry maker / designer around. I do admire those who can make several pieces in a few minutes, like magic. I have to try things out, adjust. Lengthen, shorten and try things on.

I do like how it turned out. I just wish I was faster - so I could make more pieces in the time I have available.

If you want to see more photos, I've listed it in the Etsy shop.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Cyan Blue Too

There is a difference between mixing pigment and mixing light. I have this discussion with my hubby sometimes, as he was in theater and knows about mixing light.

When I talk about how I'm mixing pigment to get colors, tints and shades, he and I talk about the difference between mixing light and mixing opaque or translucent pigments. Cyan is a blue color, halfway between blue and green on the color wheel. Along with yellow and another mixed color, magenta, it's one of the three main colors of ink in injet printers. In the printing industry there are color tone numbers that identify colors specifically, Pantone colors.

Cyan is a secondary color of light. The primary colors of light are blue, red and green, and cyan is made by mixing green light and blue light. Cyan resembles the color of water in a swimming pools, and is a restful and relaxing color. It's close to turquoise and aquamarine. Blue shades are thought of as restful and relaxing, like the color of water in tropical lagoons, that shimmery light blue-green color.

Many things in nature are that blue-green color, like bird's eggs, a twilight shade in the sky, certain butterflies. That may be the reason why that light blue-green is one of the seven most popular colors for painting and decorating rooms in homes and restaurants.

Sometimes I wonder if we are so attracted to certain colors because they spark our creative imagination, provoking ideas about things that are that color. If I make a bead or pendant with lots of light blue glass beads, does that create an image of the sky, flowers, bird's eggs and butterfly wings in nature?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Jewelry Exchange - The Great Finish!

Gaea sponsored a jewelry exchange, kind of a round robin where each artist adds something to the finished piece. It was fun to watch its progress and see what each participant added as it grew and took on its personality. I was fortunate to be involved, and here is a photo of the final jewelry piece. What a great clasp and beautiful colors, don't you think?

This is what it looked like when I sent it off to Stephanie, for her to forward to Gaea for the final touches.

The participants were Lorelei Eurto, Joelle Murray, Mary Harding, Jennifer Stumpf, Stef and me!

Gaea is going to auction it off for a charity, so watch her blog for details about when that will happen. Having seen it in person I can tell you, it's beautiful and will be supporting a worthy cause, if you want to bid for being its very happy owner.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Classic Yet Faceless Beauty

Last December, right before New Year's, I posted a tutorial on making a draping form, just the bust portion. But I didn't show her all decked out, with crochet lace trim, a leafy corsage and strands of costume pearls.

I used unbleached muslin for the drapery but anything would work, if you preferred it bleached white or even with a print on it. Or for more fun, you could put designs on the fabric before draping using fabric paints or stitching, so she'd have a mixed media look.

If you are a quilter or like to do patchwork, that type of fabric could be used too, but a lighter weight fabric would probably look best.

I made her so I could put my necklaces around her neck and show how they look when worn for the Etsy shop photography. Now I just need to get busy and make some necklaces for her to wear!

Follow the tutorial here if you want to see the process. If you make one let me know, I'd love to see what you come up with! And warmer weather will help yours dry faster! So let's all wish for an early spring.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Anneal Me - Tuesday Tips Checking In

I started the series for Tuesday Tips and Hints because the Poll I ran at the beginning of the year showed there was interest in tutorials and tips. But I'm not sure how much it's hitting the points, and before I go on making up the tips for Tuesdays posts, let me know if I'm on track.

So leave me a comment or reply and let me know - either way! I won't mind if you tell me - Take Away Tuesday Tips! Begone!
A few things I learned over the weekend.

It's much, much easier to make a rivet using wire if the wire is already softened by annealing.

It's also easier to finish off the rivet if the hole for it is very snug and grips it tightly.

It's a good idea to anneal copper disks before using in the dapping block, the copper bows out much more easily.

I learned that my small microtorch that uses butane does get hot enough to anneal copper disks and copper wire.

Now I'm investigating how to take a roll of copper wire and anneal all of it in the kiln. If you know of reliable sources for that information, post a reply. It would be a lot quicker and more convenient, for sure!

More about annealing in another Tuesday Tips post later.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Red Rover, Let Joy Come Over

I remember as a child in the playground the old game of Red Rover, where you lined up in two groups and called out to each other, trying to run through the line and break through. I don't know if children still play that game or not. Maybe no one plays jacks, jump rope or marbles anymore.

Anyway, this little girl with her arms outstretched and her red maroon color brought back that memory for some reason.

She's got the word 'J-O-Y' in her skirt hem, and two holes for dangles. Maybe someone will give her some legs, or hang some fun pearls or something.

She's in the Etsy shop, just something fun and colorful. Could be a bookmark charm, or a red friend for a cellphone. A red dancing girl with eyes in her apron and joy in her hem.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Zen of ZINE and Ink for Paper

Catherine Witherell is putting together a Jewelry ZINE for Artfest 2009. She graciously asked me if I'd contribute a couple of pages. I was thrilled!

She's in the process of assembling it. What a trooper! I thought there would be just a few contributors, but there are 44 artists in it. She's shooting for getting them in the mail really soon to the contributors first.

AND - one of her beautiful precious metal clay medallions was on the front page of Etsy in this Treasury.

Life is good!

Catherine, thanks for doing the ZINE, I know how much work it must be. I'm rooting for you! It looks like it's getting close to coming to the contributors, we get the initial set of copies first, if I sit in front of the mailbox will it come faster?

Don't beg Catherine for one yet, she's got lots of print ink ahead of her before she's ready to share them all around. She needs her strength to keep them coming!

UPDATE: The contributor copies are in the mail - and if you want information on how to get your copy go to her blog, the instructions are there!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Dreamer's World at ABS Studio Saturday

Happy V-Day!

Today it's my turn to post a Studio Saturday at the Art Bead Scene blog, where each week one of the contributors posts about what's going on in their studio. If you leave a reply to the question on the Studio Saturday post at ABS, you enter a drawing to win something. This week the giveaway is one of my heart tiles - how appropriate for Valentine's Day!

I'm making word beads. I mentioned before that I've been inspired and challenged with using words in my work. Words have power and meaning, to communicate and to create. By saying something, we issue a new thought of idea into being, both for ourselves and for those who share in the communicating.

I couldn't actually go on the ABS Bead Cruise, some of you may be lucky enough to go, but I did sign up to be a sponsor. I'm making some beads to send as prizes. This little tubular bead isn't quite finished yet, but it has words wrapped around it. Do you see the words 'harbor' - 'dream' - 'stop' and 'sails' - I wanted to have some inspiring nautical words in honor of the cruise.

Enjoy your special day, I'm off to bake some strawberry muffins and make some hot tea for sipping.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Love You, Love Day

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day. Some celebrate it, others don't. I've been making lots of hearts, partly because of the celebration of love and valentine cards and remembrances. And partly because I like the shape itself, and the immediate connection to images embracing affection and sentiment.
 These remind me so much of the colors and designs in batik cloth. I'm itching to get the sewing machine out and make some fun things for summer.

In 2006 I attended the Surface Design Conference in Kansas City, Missouri and created some hand dyed and painted fabrics. I've made a few things with the fabric, but I want to get them out again and make some more. I have a tendency to 'save' the fabric, but it's so much more useful if I make something than as yardage!
The designs on these beads, the color and the way it has 'crackle' areas on it reminds me so much of some of the batiked and indigo fabric I saw and admired there at SDC. If you like hand dyed fabric and get a chance to go, be sure to attend the conference, it's held every other year, so it's this year, May 2009, at the Kansas City Art Institute.
 I want to sew some small gift-type bags and wine carrier bags, maybe these heart tiles would be good on the cords as a decoration for the ends of the drawstrings.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Listen Up, Listen Across

I've been making and choosing words to add to some of the resin tiles. I must be needing reminders about slowing down, listening, all those good things.

This little seashell was made to look like burnished copper, added to a handmade cabochon and enclosed in a copper bezel I made to fit it.
 I can't decide if the word should go up-and-down in the bezel, or if it should go across the bottom.

 It's a little play on words, I'm sure you caught it. Have you ever held a seashell up to your ear? You can hear the ocean, or so the story goes.
 So what do you think about which way the tile should turn? Do you have a preference?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


This bead is as much a reminder to me as anything.
I get so busy and in the whirl of life.

Need to slow down sometimes, take a deep breath. Smell the roses. Sip hot tea, bake homemade bread. Plant spring flowers.
Take time for smiles, for laughter, for joy.

What does it remind you to 'take time' in your busy day, your busy life - to do, or possibly NOT to do?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tuesday Tips - Nuggets of Darkness, Pearls of Wisdom

Liver of sulphur.
 As part of my series on fusing fine silver links, there's a post about patina and liver of sulphur.
 What is it?
 It's a
patina chemical mixture that works on silver, bronze and copper metals. The metal needs to be very clean with any grease or finger oils removed so the patina will take uniformly.
 The best way to buy it is usually the dry nugget type, which is added to warm or hot water to dissolve it. Keep even the nugget form very dry and out of the light and air, as it will deteriorate and not have as much power when you mix it up. You can buy it already mixed as a liquid, but it will lose strength much more quickly.
 The chemical name is potassium sulfide. It smells like rotten eggs, so use a ventillation fan or take it outdoors. Don't breathe the fumes. You won't want to anyway, this mixture does not smell good at all.
 A little bit goes a long way. Sometimes I leave the mixed liver of sulpher at a cool temperature and instead warm the metal before I put it into the solution. When the liver of sulpher solution isn't heated, it doesn't seem to smell quite so much, either.
 Rinsing between dipping is important, to get good coverage. It's better to go slowly on how dark you go with the patina. Even if you remove it by tumbling, the metal seems to reclaim the same level of color when you re-apply the liver of sulphur solution.
 A weak solution, at a cooler temperature, will sometimes reveal a blue, green, maroon or yellow patina. To preserve the color coat the clean, dry patinaed metal with a clear jeweler's laquer to seal out the air. Otherwise the patina will continue to darken, or may rub off with long wearing and friction.
Don't put wire that already has turquoise stone beads into liver of sulphur, the turquoise often has a lot of copper in the matrix of the stone and liver of sulpher will dull your stone. I don't know of a fix for it, either.

I've also heard that it's not wise to put real pearls into liver of sulpher. It's best if you only put metal into the patina, just a word to the wise, so you don't learn the hard way.
I store my liver of sulphur solution after mixing in a small glass jar (like a baby food jar) with a tight lid, and with no airspace at the top. The air will react with the solution, so fill all the way to the top of the lid and tighten down. I keep it in a dark room out of the sunlight. It lasts a long time for me when stored that way.
It doesn't work well on brass or gold. Most Blick Art Stores will have liver of sulphur, or you can order online from Rio Grande or Volcano Arts suppliers. I have links to both on my sidebar if you need them.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Giving the Key to the Kingdom

I made two word key tiles, one for a special request, and one for this giveaway.

On the one for the special request, a single larger sized hole in the top center was requested. Here's how that turned out. And I said that on the giveaway, the person selected by the Random Number Generator could have the holes the way they preferred.

Here's the breakdown of how all of you suggested you might prefer to have the holes:

1. SummersStudio - 4 holes to rivet onto box or book
2. SueBeads - 2 holes at the top with the key upright for pendant
3. PeacockFairy - centered holes on each end for omni-directional hanging
4. Lisa Martin - 2 holes with key lengthwise and 1 hole at bottom for dangle
5. Carolyn at Fanciful Expressions - 2 holes with key lengthwise and 1 hole at bottom for crystal heart
6. EmandaJ - 2 holes with key lengthwise or one hole at top with key upright
7. Carlene - 2 holes with key lengthwise with 1 hole at bottom for dangles or 2 holes at top with key upright and 1 hole in bottom for dangle
8. Beth at Hint - 1 hole in top with key upright
9. Emily at Artemblogger - 2 holes with key lengthwise with 2 holes in bottom symmetrically
10. Nati at Perlerouge (en francais) - 2 holes at top with key upright
11. Stregata - 1 hole at top with key upright or 2 holes at top corners or 4 holes in each corner
12. Patricia at theColorOfDreams - 2 holes at top with key upright

Here's the breakdown - surprisingly enough there wasn't just one preference that was unanimous, but one particular orientation did get the most notice:
4 holes - preferred by 2
1 hole at top with key upright - preferred by 3
2 holes at top with key upright - preferred by 3
2 holes at top with key upright and 1 hole in bottom - preferred by 3
2 holes at top and bottom centered - preferred by 1
2 holes at top with key lengthwise with one or two holes in bottom - preferred by 4

So I guess I may have to just decide on one myself, or possibly make up the focal pendants several ways, photograph them all and let folks request how they prefer theirs created! I really appreciate all the information, and especially the stories of what the image of a key brings to mind.

Now you want to know who won the giveaway?


#8 - Beth at Hint!
 Beth, click on the picture of the Ringleader of LLYYNN and send me your shipping address and how many holes you'd like, and I'll send the tile to you. I'm a little behind on my shipping, hope you won't mind if it's not out to you by tomorrow!
 Of course, if anyone wants a word key made for you, send me an email, and tell me how many holes and I'll post more on Etsy for you!