Monday, August 31, 2009

Random Acts of Bead Giving

I went to the post office on Friday morning, happy that it was finally the end of the week. I was expecting probably some junk mail, and most likely some bills wanting to be paid.

I got excited when I peeked inside the box and I could see a package. Packages are always fun, especially surprise packages.

I had to go to work at the office then and couldn't pry open the package right away. What a hard thing to do, waiting all day for the chance to open that envelope. And inside ... an organza bag in a pretty color with something jingling inside.

The package is from Sue Kennedy at SueBeads. She sent me a whole slew of handmade lampwork beads. I had marked some as favorites in her Etsy shop and she sent me some of them. Oh, my. My, my, my. They are so beautiful. I want to drop everything and make something with them right now!

I can see earrings, and bracelets and a really special necklace. I can't wait! I just love the light blue ones especially. And the matte ones. And the shiny ones...

I'm a lucky one, aren't I?

Thanks so much, Sue! Your generosity is unbelievable! Be sure to check out her website and Etsy shop, she's got some fabulous things. Take my word for it!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Mailbox Goodness

A few beadmakers got together recently on a beach themed bead swap. I'll be unveiling the goodies inside the organza bags at the Art Bead Scene so you can see what we all came up with. Fun Stuff!

They are a talented group of folks who participated, and the insides are just beautiful.

And shipped out in these handmade boxes ...

More soon about additional mailbox goodies!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

First Feet, Years Apart

This picture is the tiny newborn foot of my grandbaby girl. The picture taken by her proud mom after coming home from the hospital. The days were followed by a hurricane that hit, spending days and nights without electricity while the winds howled and the trees groaned and moaned outside. It was steamy hot, there were long dark nights by candlelight.

It's almost funny now to think back a year and remember what we were doing and where we were. And to look at this recent photo of those same baby feet, now taking their first walking steps.

Time and memories. Happy Grandbaby Girl Birthday!

Friday, August 28, 2009

New Secrets, Fresh Path

More of the resin pieces. Can you tell I'm having a really good time with them?

I just hope I'm not the only one who likes them. This one would be fun with a double strand of heishi beads or shells, with a funny seashell dangle at the bottom or something like that.

I like the very vintage, seashore look of these.

They have seashell images inside. One is multi-purpose, it can be worn as a brooch with the pinback on the reverse side, or attached to a chain with jump rings to wear as a necklace focal. And the wire top reminds me of driftwood or seaweed, winding around.

I guess I have the end of summer on my mind. Strolling the sandy beaches, picking up seashells. Walking fresh paths, making new secrets.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Matchbook Art

When I travel I try to remember to grab some matchbooks to keep as mementos.

I have a basket with old matchbooks in it, from places I've lived. Or restaurants I've enjoyed. Sometimes the matchbook outlives the restaurant.

I have matchbooks from Ireland and Scotland, from the visits there.

These pendants are made using artwork from vintage matchbooks.

You can tell by the lettering and patterns some are from far away places.

They have colorful and fun designs on them. I love the bright distinctive colors.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Victoriana Timeless

The look and beauty of old styles of jewelry inspire me. I admire the streamlined, sleek look of modern jewelry, but I really love making and wearing pieces have lots of details and sentimental effects on them.

The victorian period jewelry has a lot of symbolism in the designs. Figures of acorns and thistles, cameos and hair ornaments.

Beautiful rhinestone and crystal pieces, I can imagine them worn over handmade lace and deep colors of velvet. These prints of vintage Victorian jewelry are from the 1850's, they are illustrations created for an exhibitition.

I plan to make some hair ornaments like decorative combs, bobby pins and barrettes, and these images are inspiring me. Seems as though having something like these in your hair would make you feel like a princess!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Words From The Heart

I've been making word groups and pouring resin a lot lately. No real plans or focus, just sort of free-form word creations.

This focal bead says "BREATHE PEACE" and it's very clear and sparkly, with a faint misty image of the Eiffel Tower in the background.

I made some small oval charms, too. I could see them as part of a bracelet, or even as earrings.

I also made these two loop earrings with words inside. When I'm working with them, I start to tell stories in my mind about what the words are about, the history and all that. These say "MERCY" and "HOPE" inside.

It's all very fun. And I hope whoever takes them to work with will give them their story, too.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Look Up, Drop Down, Fly Away

In the evenings, after dinner and when the studio is closed down, I've been sitting out on the deck under the trees, reading a book until the twilight falls and I go indoors.

This time of year the walnut trees in the back yard are putting the finishing touches on their walnuts, then dropping them to the ground. On some days, the one that overhangs the deck makes it feel like bombs are dropping, as the walnut hulls fall, bounce and make me jump a foot!

Last evening I found evidence that the squirrels are enjoying the bounty. In fact, I suspect that some of the bombs are coming from the squirrels dropping the walnut hulls in hopes they will land heavily and pop open! I'll be lucky if I don't have one dropped right on my head! BONK!

I'm taking a break this afternoon from pouring resin and casting pewter to show a couple of the pieces I've made the last few days. I'm really enjoying the look of the resin, the way I've got it going now, and I just carved some decorative bezels so I can cast them in pewter.

Fingers crossed!

This medallion with the words "FLY UP" between two cast pewter wings is dual-purpose. It has loops at the end of the wings, for attaching to a necklace, and it has a pin back attached, for wearing as a brooch. I love multi-purpose jewelry.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Rejuvenation Inspiration Book Review

In 2007 Stampington published an article in Belle Armoire March/April Issue of the Magazine, and at the end of the article they issued a challenge to send in related jewelry pieces.

The article featured the work of Amy Hanna and her Rejuvenated Jewels. Quite a few pages of her work combining vintage jewelry pieces to create updated jewelry.

That article and the issued BAJ challenge is what started this adventure for me. I put together some pieces for the challenge and submitted a proposed article, and instead of it being in Belle Armoire the monthly magazine, the article appeared in the 2008 Spring Quarterly issue of Belle Armoire Jewelry, the special magazine for jewelry inspiration.

That jump-started this adventure for me, issuing myself the challenge to create Invented Vintage and Faux-tique components - to see that I could replicate the actual antique and vintage pieces I loved but hesitated to use. Starting there I challenged myself to learn how to make chain, replicate scrimshaw and ivory, cast pewter medallions and icons, and create the faux fused beveled glass gemstones, in the spirit of the true antique and vintage pieces Amy Hanna often uses.

When I saw Amy Hanna's book at the bookstore, I had to rush right over and take a look. She discusses how to get started, using cameos and tintypes, and the book is chock full of gorgeous photos of her designs using the true antique pieces she collects.

I sure wish I could have chance for her to work with some of my own handcrafted replicas, I can just imagine the beautiful designs she'd create with them. That's my Make-A-Wish for the week, I guess!

If you like an inspiration and a challenge too, check out her book. If you're like me and admire the beautiful rhinestone and pearl necklaces and bracelets from ages past, you'll love this book.

And you can use her book as a springboard to begin your own challenge to create in that style! I still sometimes refer to ideas in it when dreaming of new components to create from scratch and my imagination.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Souvenirs of Armchair Travels

Last weekend I ground the edges and fire polished some faux gemstones in the kiln, to combine with some cast pewter emblems. I wanted the results to look like travel souvenirs from long, long ago.

Back before the turn of the century, the well-to-do of America and Europe went on tours, either with a travel scheduling company or with a well-worn travel guidebook in hand.

In those times travel was much slower, with steam ships and trains making the most of the travel along with carriages, camels and mules.

There are many well-written memoirs of those ladies and gentlemen and postcards sent back to friends from places that seemed exotic and foreign.

These two glass and pewter pieces are meant to resemble things that may have been brought back from such a travel tour. The ancient-looking celtic cross sits on top of a beautiful shimmery golden dichroic glass stone that glistens and changes color in the light. The celtic cross looks worn and old, possibly from some Irish monastery or treasuretrove.

The french Eiffel Tower charm sits beside a beautiful blue-green dichroic fused glass stone. It reminds me of the souvenirs available during the Paris World's Fair when the Eiffel Tower was opened, it has that Art Deco kind of feeling with the round settings.

There's another fused glass faux gemstone with a bright shimmery blue stone and a fleur de lys that I like in the shop now, too. My mind wanders and my hands follow, and out come these faux artifacts! Both one of a kind ... with a special feeling for travel.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Slow Dance, Just Live

I've been playing around with the resin, and combining it with the cast pewter. I wanted to have some simple words and images, but a little dressy, to look very old and yet wearable.

This square emblem reminds me of the awards that were given a long time ago during dance contests, do you remember hearing about those? This one says "SLOW DANCE" on the front, and it's a brooch. See the word "souvenir" inside it? There's a little medal inscription on the top, and a pinback on the reverse.

It could be a reminder to slow down and enjoy the dance of life, sort of a carpe diem feeling but more subtle.

I also made this decorative resin heart with the words "JUST LIVE" inside.

It has an ornate cast pewter back to finish it. It's almost three-dimensional, but because it's hollow it's still very light.

When I put together this long slender leaf and shell focal, with the words "FOLLOW STREAM" inside it, I just had to make up a necklace out of it. I used a brass green patina dragonfly with it. I suppose if you are a fishing person, this will remind you of the watery fun you enjoy, with a leaf on the top of the resin pendant and another leaf dangling from the fine silver chain links.

I'm having a lot of fun with words, with resin and with the cast metal. When they come together, things sometimes happen in magical ways, especially if you give them your own special meaning.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tuesday Tips Says Alloy, There, Matey!

What's an alloy? It is a combination of two metals that each enhance each others' properties. An example is stainless steel, which is a combination of iron, chromium and nickel metals. So here's some information for your Tuesday Tips on Metal Alloys and why something called "silver" might not have a bit of silver in it!

It can be confusing, talking about metal alloys.

For example, german silver, or nickel silver, which is an alloy of copper, nickel and zinc, doesn't have any silver in it, not at all. Many people who can wear silver but are allergic to nickel should avoid german silver because of its nickel content. Interestingly, musical instruments like the flute and french horn are frequently made of nickel silver.

Pure silver, or fine silver at .999 silver is what I use to create the fused silver chain links in these pictures. It's softer by nature than sterling silver (.925) which is an alloy of silver and copper. Those two metals together give the silver more strength while keeping the beautiful look of the silver metal.

Argentium sterling silver is a sterling silver alloy that replaces some of the copper with germanium, so that it is still 92.5% silver but the germanium give the silver a high resistance to tarnishing and prevents firescale during torch soldering.

Some people swear by argentium silver's properties, if they do a lot of torch soldering and don't want the firescale, or if they want their finished pieces to resist tarnishing.

You'll see lovely jewelry and charms these days made with shibuichi, which is an alloy of silver to copper that's higher in copper content. The word means "one-fourth" in japanese because the formulation of the alloy is one part silver to three parts copper. Because of the added copper, shibuichi will patina to lovely and muted shades of blue or green.

I haven't tried casting the shibuichi silver yet, but I've seen beautiful things made with it.

Many jewelry charms are made from pewter instead of sterling silver. Lead-free pewter is an alloy that's usually between 85 and 99 percent tin, with copper, antimony, bismuth and occasionally silver added in various proportions to the tin. To be a true pewter the alloy should be at least 90% tin. These days pewter is lead-free and nickel-free, and the finest quality English pewter contains at least 94% tin.

Britannia silver is an alloy of silver with 95.84% silver and the rest copper, used to replace sterling silver in England after an act of Parliament in 1697. It's a high-grade alloy of silver, even higher in silver content than sterling silver.

Britannia metal is different again from britannia silver. Britannia metal is a pewter-like alloy that doesn't contain any silver at all. It usually contains 93% tin, 5% antimony and 2% copper, and is often used as the base metal for electroplating with silver to create silver plated items like cutlery.

Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc, while bronze is an alloy of copper and tin. Each has a slightly different look because of the differing metals being used, but they have a warmer color tint than the silver alloys because of the high copper content in them.

So there you are - a list of alloys and their contents. Hope that's helpful and clears away any confusion about metals and mixtures of metals that are alloys.