Sunday, January 31, 2010

Pen Pals, From Far Away

Remember a while back when Esther in Provence, France sent me the package full of goodies? Inside along with some lovely medallions were a pair of antique calligraphy pen nibs.

I've got a collection of old antique pen nibs myself, so I was especially thrilled.

Since I only had two, I wondered how I could get more so I could use them for charms and a pair of earrings.

They were so dainty I wasn't sure I could cast them, but I tried just to see how they would look.

These are the results.

I'm tickled with them, I think they look grand.

Now I can use them without guilt or feeling that I'm drilling a hole in something antique and special - I made these with holes for jump rings.

You can still see the writing on the side of the pen.

Maybe as a charm on a bracelet as a symbol of writing a love letter - or the old saw about "the pen is mightier than the sword" for a dangle on a necklace - my mind started racing about how they could be used. If I drilled a center hole it could be a toggle for a clasp ... Do you have more ideas?

Thank you again, Esther. These are so fun, and it wouldn't have been possible without your generosity!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Shielding Resting Hearts of Friends

I created the design a while back, made it in polymer clay. That one was a dark black, with a slightly rusty look, like cast iron. I hadn't made more, sometimes I play with a design and then go back to it much later, to try something new.

This time a friend, Lorelei Eurto, asked me if I could make the design again but this time in pewter.

So I gave it a try, to see how it would turn out. I re-made the original shape and took the cast off it.

I had to try several times, I wasn't happy with the proportions and I wanted it to be lightweight.

But this is the final result. It's a slightly battered heart, ruby coppery red, with its wings folded. Just resting a bit, before going on.

And it sits on a shield medallion shape. Like the heraldic shields with their hares, foxes and deer, but this one has the folded wings of a flying heart, resting on it.

I sent some off to Lorelei, can't wait to see what she creates. And listed one in the Etsy shop, in case you'd like to play with them. Sometimes folks have me make special designs just for them as an exclusive, but I checked, Lorelei didn't mind.

I could see them as a non-sentimental but meaningful valentine gift or charm, for yourself or for a loved one.

Let my heart rest, just for a bit, while it's shielded. Then onward.

Friday, January 29, 2010


I crashed last night.

The day job took a toll, and three late nights and early mornings in a row.

When I got home, I could hardly keep my eyes open. I decided that operating power tools or extremely hot studio items was not a good idea with my eyes closed.

Possibly, if I had gone downstairs anyway I would have gotten a second wind. But I decided to give in to the sandman instead.

Today, Friday, if I have a late night catching up on things, I can sleep in tomorrow. All the way to 8:00 am or some crazy idea like that.

But at some point, I guess it's best to allow the body to have some downtime. So I did.

What did I do instead? I crocheted some tiny lace medallions and some longer lace bands.

I used a few of my hand dyed costume pearls, and some strands of my hand dyed silk threads from the stash for a couple of them.

I have an idea about putting them together with the resin or stitching pewter emblems to them. And I don't like to crochet when my hands are darkened with metal dust and patina residue, or coated with paint. It might get all over the thin, wispy cotton and silk threads.

So last night was the perfect time for it. My hands were clean. The rythmic actions of the crochet lulled me. And the heating pad on my back didn't hurt things a bit either.

Tonight I may have another marathon session in the studio. But last night, I took the night off.

As much as I ever do, anyway.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Pretty Shiny

I have to admit, I'm susceptible to shiny, glitzty bling.

I like things that look old and have some shiny stones or faceted beads.

So I took a couple of the pewter pieces and checked on my stash of shiny, glittery things. To see if anything would fit.

And guess what?

These two pretty little round faux gems were just the right size.

I really like the way they combine with the pewter. I think they'd be beautiful as earrings. Maybe with a pearl at the top, or a faceted glass bead.

Because you can never have too much glitz.

I have to dig deeper in my stash of bling, and see what else I've got in there. Maybe some more colors, wouldn't a light blue faux gem be pretty. Umm hmmm, love that shiny, pretty.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


A while back, I did some experimenting to figure out how to get the look of enameled metal or glazed ceramic in my polymer clay work.

I had a hard time getting the colors I wanted, but finally the elusive baby blue, robin's egg blue, was identified.

Last weekend I made these two little houses. To me they look like light colored clay, fired with a very translucent glaze. The sheen and shine comes from much sanding, buffing and polishing, it's the natural sheen of the polymer clay.

Polymer clay is the medium I turn to when I need things with a look that's organic or natural, like bone or shell. Mother of pearl emblems, jet jewelry. Things like that.

I'm starting to make some of the little hearts I had last year at this time - they were very popular for February. So if you liked them, there will be some in the ExpeditionD Etsy shop soon.

It's funny, some days I run around the studio mixing the media.

Cut the glass, put in the kiln, set for firing. Turn to creating something in polymer clay, put in the polymer-dedicated toaster oven, set the timer. Turn on the crucible to heat some metal, cut some paper for soldered glass. Pour some pewter castings, let them cool, take out the polymer clay from the oven. Round and around.

But I really like it that way. Making maximum use of the downtime in each process, or maybe only driving myself dotty. I just have to be sure I don't forget anything that's in the works. That's where the timer helps. Every time it goes off I have to get up, stretch, move around the studio.

Seems like the best plan for me, right now. Mixing it up...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


These soaring birds are headed out to their new homes in all different directions, but while I had them all together I couldn't resist taking a picture.

They look to me like they're headed north for spring. Wishful thinking, maybe?

They're detailed and shiny, swooping and soaring.

I saw a robin in the back yard on Sunday. Maybe the worst of the cold weather is past.

I hope so. At least the days are getting longer again!
So much for spring wishes, it snowed here this morning. Not a lot, and it didn't stick everywhere, but it was snowing on me as I drove in to the day job.

I'm feeling pressured, lots of requests and things I need to be doing. The only thing to do to get caught up is to keep on going, making and finishing and shipping.

If you're waiting on me for something special, I'm working hard on things that have been requested, and I'll get things out and my Etsy Feedback caught up just as soon as I can... really, I will.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Shadows and Mystery Tell The Story

I had a flash yesterday. I really don't know where it came from. But I'm happy the idea department of the cosmos dropped something off yesterday.

I've been playing again with polymer clay, and was thinking about how to combine it with the pewter and other things I've been creating lately.

In fiddling with some clay, I made a hole offcenter in a rectangular piece I'd been messing with, and I finished it all the way off with sanding and buffing and adding a patina, but with no real idea of what I'd use it for. The clay had a floral and leaves pattern in it, and a dark mahogany looking patina on it, buffed and polished to a translucent sheen finish.

Then yesterday I put it between two thin pieces of glass, with some images of a clock face and part of some vintage paper labels. And created a matchbox looking shadowbox.

I wish I could say I had this plan in mind all along, I was going to make this bezel this way, but it really was just making something with my hands with no real final destination for it.

And I just love how it turned out.

It's lightweight, and can be turned any direction and it still works. Horizontally, vertically. The artwork on the back side has directionality, but it's on the back, right?

And at the end I held it up to a light and realized that - it's translucent. The clock face opening lights up from the rear when held to a window or light.

I love this part about it. It just flowed through my fingers and practically made itself.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Asian Right Side UP Hoping So

I love the look of asian characters, but I'm always wondering if I have them going the right way around. And I also worry that in their native language they say something silly like "buy dog food" instead of something meaningful about life or the cosmos.

I put this asian writing pendant together, and put the Pagoda style pewter charm next to it. My hands are itching to put together some jewelry with these glass pendants but so far I've been good and listed them, so if you want to play with them you can get to them.

I always know I can make more for myself later. The problem seems to be getting later to actually happen.

I'm thinking of setting Friday nights aside for play time in the studio. And setting a time limit, no more all-nighters!

Cuts into my Saturday morning time too much when I stay up so late.

But it was FUN!!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Paper Path, Scissors Surf

Does it count as sleeping in when you stay up until 2:00 am making things and don't get up until 8:00 the next morning?

On the weekends I usually jump up and run to the studio by 6:00 am. Not this morning, though.

So if you've been anxiously waiting to find out about the giveaway, that's why I'm just now on the scene again this morning. I'm a lazybones!

I had an itch last night to use some glass and paper to create some connectors and pendants. After dinner I went down to the studio, and the rest is just being engrossed in what I was doing.

I had a stack of broken china crockery and I wanted to turn some pieces of it into little connectors also. Right in the middle of things when I was handling it I nicked my knuckle and the silly thing wouldn't stop bleeding - I applied a bandaid onto it and soldiered on. Who says making jewelry isn't dangerous sometimes. Especially when I'm tired, I get clumsy.

These are the results of that late night work. Old paper ephemera with lovely antique images, between glass and surrounded by swirls and loops of wire. I got started making the round ones and then decided to make some other shapes.

Here are the fronts of some of them.

And here are the backs of them. They're reversible!

I had decided to let myself play on Friday night, even though I had orders and requests to work on, I let myself do anything I wanted, just to play around at will. Apparently I wanted to do a lot, and I didn't want to quit.

Today I'll get myself focused back on orders and things I need to send out. But it was sure fun playing last night ... and early, early this morning. Happy Saturday!

Do you think these little glass soldered connectors are fun?


I really appreciate all the feedback about the way ahead in 2010. Some folks make New Year resolutions, I make decisions about the focus and energy, and you helped. There was a lot of great feedback about the pewter. I'm so happy you like it! Especially because I love-love-love making it. I know it won't be the only thing I make, I like to have things to use with the pewter and sometimes I want some color, too.

Anyway, the winner of the Pea Leaf Giveaway is Sue at Suebeads, thanks so much for your feedback. Click on the icon with "EMAIL THE RINGLEADER OF LLYYNN" and send me the shipping information and I'll get it out to you. I hope you like it!

And as I sometimes do, if you posted a comment on the Giveaway post on Monday, you get a 10% discount on anything in either Etsy shop - just put "PEA LEAF" in the comments to the seller and I'll send you the savings!

There's a lot of pewter in the Etsy shop right now, and some of the glass connectors, so you can hopefully find something you like there.

Friday, January 22, 2010

All In The Details

Also part of learning how to cast the pewter has been learning how best to take the impressions, make the molds and finish them.

To get the detail I want, but make them sturdy yet light.

Hard to get all three. I'm still learning. I really enjoy the research and development part of the creative process.

I just created new molds for these lovebirds, to get the words in french at the bottom more legible.

And so you can see their wings and the pretty little flowers at the bottom.

Words are especially difficult to get the details and sometimes show up only faintly.

And to get a better detail in the profile on this medal. The lettering is clearer, too.

I love the look of it, and wanted to get a clearer impression, to see more of the lovely face and head.

It's still an ongoing learning process. I try new things, figure out what works and what I especially like.

And what's easier for me to cast accurately. So maybe by this time next year, I'll know twice as much as I do now, hopefully.

That's my goal, anyway. To keep testing, working and learning.
PS - don't forget about the giveaway from Monday's post, if you still haven't de-lurked and posted a comment there's time today before I post the winning name tomorrow! Oh, and I really am seeking the feedback on directions, so as much info as possible is terribly useful to me (hint, hint) as you post your reply.
PPS - Today is the birthday of Beth at Hint - pop over and wish her best returns of the day. Happy Birthday, Beth!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Pairs of Lightness

I've been working with the pewter now since last May, mostly self-taught. Doing a lot of research, trying things.

I'm sure I could have learned all this faster if I had a teacher, but I didn't have one, so I just kept trying things and keeping what worked for me.

I love working with the metal, and the look of the finished pieces.

At first I stuck to making larger pieces, they're easier to work with and finish.

But as I've slowly gotten used to the metal and its strengths, how it needs to be supported and worked, through trial and error, I've gradually started making smaller pieces.

I'm happy now that I can make these small pairs of charms, light enough for earrings.

Pewter can be a dense alloy metal, so getting pieces thin and light enough to comfortably wear on your ears and strong enough to hold up to wear has been one of my self-challenges.

I know there are lots of charms available, mass produced. But part of the reason I started casting the pewter was to make charms that looked authentically old and handmade. Not mass produced, each one slightly different. As though they really were antiques made long-long ago.

A little worn, a bit battered, like the real ones I've seen that have been around for a long time and worn, with a history in them.

I'm very pleased with these pairs of tiny charms. Now I am itching to create some earrings with them.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Gifted Artfriends

As you might already know, I'm one of several editors on the Art Bead Scene blog, and another editor is Melanie Brooks at Earthenwood Studio. I've admired her work for a long time, and I've been hoarding a pair of her clockwork beads for some time.

She and I did an exchange, I sent her some of my pewter headpins, the ones with bow ties on them, along with a few other fun goodies, and she sent me some of her fantastic beads.

It's been like Christmas all over again here, I've been admiring them and thinking about how to use them.

I didn't know she glazed the backs of all her beads too, In that way they are even reversible, if I decided to use with a collage soldered piece the reverse would also be visible. Neat!

I can't wait to see what she makes with the pewter. She was too generous with the beads, there are wonderful little hearts and locks, those will be fun with some of my pewter keys and keyhole pieces.

And a dragonfly bead in a gorgeous oxblood color. I really love ceramics! And Melanie's packaging is so gorgeous I didn't want to open them at first - but I got over that pretty quickly.

Thanks, Melanie! I can't wait to start adding these beauties to some pewter and making some lovelies.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Play Date and Giveaway

Yesterday I went to my friend Cindy's house for a creativity play date. We haven't had one in quite a while, and I was glad I could go, it's good to get out of the studio sometimes and meet up with other people who love to create, too. The ideas were flying!

Cindy is very talented in many different areas, she is a lampwork beadmaker and many other things too, including having written a pivotal book on lampwork beadmaking. She had just come back from taking classes in Dayton Beach, we all wanted to see what she had created in class.

We balled up copper wire with a torch and heat patinaed copper sheet metal. All of us made one of these beauties, it's a pea leaf with tendrils and vines. I even made a black bead and copper wire necklace for mine, with a simple hook and loop clasp on it.

To me it resembles the leaves in fall, with the bright red berries left from the last of summer and the leaves that have turned colors, a tribute to nature. Maybe it reminds you of something else, who knows?

I thought some of you might enjoy having this piece, so I'm going to do a giveaway, the first one in 2010. Okay you lurkers out there in blog-land, here's your chance to get in the running and have me send you a piece of jewelry! Post on this one, won't you?

If you'd like to be in the running to have me send this fall necklace, post a reply here to this question:

What would you rather see me make more of in 2010, and why?

Finished jewelry? Clasps and Toggles? Bezels? Focal beads? Earrings? Resin? Cast Pewter? Fused Silver Links? Fused Glass Faux Gemstones? Or you pick the item from your past favorites ... and tell me why you chose that selection.

I'd really like the feedback, and thanks in advance, I'll announce the winner next Saturday - so post away!