Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Article in BAJ

I realized that I haven't shown the cover of the Summer Belle Armoire Jewelry Magazine, it's lovely.

And there are a lot of great articles inside, I'm still re-reading my copy.

This brooch is in the article, it's about how to get a faux amber look with resin.

This pin is in the Etsy shop - I haven't had time to photograph and list the others.

If you don't have your copy yet, go grab it! There are fantastic things inside!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Friends Far Away

Beverly Herman gave me a shout-out - she was a recent winner of pewter charms in my giveaway post.

She makes the most gorgeous beaded items, I don't know how she creates such lovely things with such tiny beads! I'd be half-blind after about an hour or less...

She's a lovely lady. Thanks, Beverly.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

CALDER Then and Now - Creativity and Growth

I thought I'd feature again some of my LEGENDARY JEWELRYMAKER series from this timeframe a year or so ago, in case you might have missed them the first time.

Alexander Calder is probably best known for his large outdoor sculptural 'Stabiles' and his hanging 'Mobiles' - it's facinating to learn that he also made special jewelry using steel and wire.

There's a
virtual tour of the standing Calder exhibit at the National Gallery of Art site, if you want to check it out, and here's an article with lots of fabulous photos of the jewelry. Keep in mind, he was working in the 1930's, 1940's and 1950's, but the jewelry looks so contemporary and modern! (photo credit - Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida) The Miami Herald has a Gallery of the pieces on their site.

He made over 1800 pieces of jewelry, beginning in 1930, using only wire, string and what we now think of as found objects. NPR has photos of the pieces on their site, along with the Susan Stamberg story from this morning's radio show.

The pieces were on view at the Philadephia Museum of Art for the 110th anniversary of his birth, and New York at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

Have you switched or enlarged your creative areas of expression? If so, when, how and why?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Decisions and Quandries

I'm preparing to travel, and debating whether to put the Etsy shops on "vacation mode" or just leave up the notes I posted that say there'll be a delay in shipping.

I've always left them open, and shipped any orders when I returned from my travels.

I see also that the little poll on the sidebar has completed its time and the results are that most of you understand about waiting for custom orders.

But I also see that a few prefer that things be available for shipping right at the time of purchase.

I will try to keep a mix of both in the shop, and put a note in the listings that are "on spec" that are cast at the time of the order.

I've also decided to turn on Comment Moderation on the blog.

I learned that it has hit 52,500 hits, and is listed on one of the search blogs as #9 for jewelry blogs, for whatever that means, and that may be attracting some of the spam posts I'm getting.

Rather than have them inconvenience you, and annoy me, I've turned on Comment Moderation, so I don't have to be the Comment Police on my own blog.

If I see that the number of comments goes way down, or if you post here and let me know it really, really bothers you, I'll think about it some more.

Hope you're having a terrific summer day, in preparation for a wonderful summer weekend!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Jeans Blues

Usually, during the work week at the day job, I'm dressed in what is called "business casual" but occasionally there is a Friday when it's a Jeans Day.

Today is Jeans Day, Hooray!
These two little faces remind me of denim, the color and the worn look.

This one reminds me of stone-washed jeans, remember those? Or your favorite pair that you've worn until the blue is faded and the white threads are showing through?

I don't know why it's such a secret pleasure to wear jeans when it usually isn't the place for them, but it is!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


It's that time of year when the days are nice and long and the weather is warm, I like to spend time in the studio trying out new things.

In the wintertime the studio is very, very chilly, it's hard to stay motivated.

But in the summertime the outdoors is luring me, I want to spend an evening just sipping iced sweet tea and watching the sunset.

I guess spring and fall have their special allures, too.

I don't have any results to show for the weekend's experiments, but at least I gave myself the time.

This little two-hole component says it all - Artists and Students of Art.

I wish I had time to be one full-time, but for now, I'll take what I can get and enjoy every minute!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Longest Day

Today is June 21, the longest day of the year.

The days start early and the evenings stay light for a long time.

I spent part of the weekend cleaning up the studio. I don't know how it gets so messy so quickly.

I worked on this special little medallion. The original is enamel with bright red color, I may try to reproduce that look. I like playing with it, to make it wearable.

It's a nice time of year, a good time for homemade ice cream outdoors.

Home baked loaves of bread, made into toast with honey.

Watching fireflies in the twilight.

Listening to the night sounds.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Tisket Tasket Basket

In the goody box of old originals that Deryn Mentock sent me was this basket of flowers. I decided to make a connector out of it, with a hole at top and bottom.

I must be feeling sentimental.

I've been watching the storms form, pass over and go on by all day today.

No rain yet, but I did hear some thunder.

This pendant has the words "GOOD PATH" inside, with a little curly-top girl in a wagon behind. I think the image is from an antique valentine card.

I like the wheels with daisies on them.

Today has been a slow day, easy going. I got all my orders done early today, so I will have time tomorrow to experiment with new things.

Don't forget about the poll on the left sidebar, if you have an opinion. There's only a couple more days to vote.

I think it's time to go upstairs and cook something simple, just right for a summer's day.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Blinz of Bling

I think I'm part magpie!
I do love the glitz and shiny things.

So I added a dark smoky rhinestone to this venus scroll bead.


It might be a little too large for making a pair of earrings - unless you had just the right party to go to, I guess.

I've learned something new in the casting, there's always a new thing to try, to get my pieces thinner yet still sturdy. I'm so pleased, it means less clean up after casting.

I keep experimenting, maybe one day I'll figure this thing out!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

First Few

I mentioned a few days ago that I'm taking molds and casts off the beautiful antique buttons that Deryn Mentock sent me, to see if I can give them a second life.

These are the first few I've gotten finished.

The buttons themselves are a little worn, with some signs of age and having been in water. When I cast them in pewter, all their delicate details come back to life.

It's very exciting! I sent these to Deryn so she can see them, and figure out how she would like to use them.

These are truly little bits of sculpture, with scenes of windmills and lovely stately homes in the trees. I hope to have some available on Etsy soon. You can see on some I put one hole at the top, like a charm or pendant, and on others I put two holes, for a bracelet maybe, or to add a dangle.

They look like they might have been someone's speccial button collection, that were lost during the Galveston hurricane, and found their way to Deryn and now to me.

To give them another use, another possibility for ornamenting special things in the future.

I took one button with a very distinctive face on it, and put it together with one of my cast bezels, to create this pendant.

At first I thought it had an art nouveau look, but with the dark coppery-bronze patina it started to hve a southwestern look to it, like a New Mexico square cross, with the round sun in the front. Do you see it?

So I'll keep playing with these designs, enjoying the feeling of restoring them to be loved and used again, in a new and different way.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Happy Happy Today

Today is my birthday! I had a nice breakfast, and I've spent the rest of the day in the studio, messing up my fingernails! They look like I've been working on heavy machinery.

But really I've been working on some different closures.

Like this medal with a large loop at the top, it says "VALEUR ET DISTINCTION" in french. It was cast from an original french antique.

I combined it with an old skeleton key, with the number "6" at the top, putting a loop on the back to make it into a toggle.

My hubby went to the bookstore and picked up a copy of the Summer 2010 Issue of Belle Armoire Jewelry. I'm excited to spend part of this evening reading through it.

The article on the Faux Amber turned out well, I think. And Deryn Mentock and Nancy Schindler have articles in there, too.

I'll spend some quiet indoor time this evening looking at the whole thing, can't wait.

We're having a Boef Bourguignon tonight, yum. That won't require any VALEUR but it will be a dinner with DISTINCTION, for sure.

With some fresh french bread and Missouri vineyard red wine.

Happy Birthday to Me! A nice day, enjoyable and memorable.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Long Time Gone, Just Now Back

Last year, around Labor Day 2009, I took extra days of vacation from the day job, and spent a week creating pieces for a proposed article in Belle Armoire Jewelry magazine.

The current Summer 2010 issue has the article published! Thanks to all of you who have noticed and seen the article and let me know - I didn't get my complimentary copy so I must go find a copy so I can see it myself.

The pieces of jewelry have just come back from the photographer, it's been almost a year since I last saw them.

The fun thing is that I still like them, just as much as I did when I first created them.

I was experimenting with making a kind of faux amber.

I love real amber, the warmth, translucency and color of it. It's hard to reproduce that look well, but I thought that using resin for its transparent quality might get close. I wanted it to look more interesting than just a solid color, so I embedded antique photographs and some words inside.

First I created all the focal pieces. There were more than just the ones pictured in the article. Then I pulled out all my charms and extra goodies, to see if I could tell a story with the pewter and faux amber pieces.

This one has the words "TRUE STORY" inside, it's a brooch pin, but it also has loops so a necklace chain could be attached - multi-purpose. I had the deck of cards charm from a flea market find, and the image of the cowboy with those words seemed to tell a tall tale, of a lucky win at the card table.

I'm going to start listing these faux amber pieces
in the Etsy shop, in case some of you have a particular favorite you'd like to have for yourself.

They are DEFINITELY one of a kind, and they are the actual pieces from the Belle Armoire Jewelry issue, if you've seen one that you fell in love with.

Later on, I'll post about the chains that I created for them - made by hand - and the step-by-step photos that I don't think were used in the publication. I need to get a copy of the magazine and see if they're included or not.

It's interesting to see these pieces again. In some ways I see changes and improvements in how I'm using the cast pewter. And yet, I still like them just as much as I did when I first made them.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Weekend to Plan and Dream

Did you notice the poll at the left sidebar, about whether you prefer the Etsy shop to have only the made-up ready to ship items, custom items or whether you're okay with me listing photos of things I'll make up when you order?

I ask for your vote on the poll because by mid-week, my plans have always been to list several things that you could purchase that I would make up over the weekend, to ship early the next week.

Since I only have limited creativity time during the week to make things in the studio it helps guide my time on the weekends if I have pending orders, that way I know I'm creating something that's needed and hopefully using my time wisely.

The things in the photo are items I made early this week for a special need for a friend, I turned the resting heart wings pendant into a 3-way connector for a rosary.

This coming weekend I plan to start working on the Galveston Buttons, seeing what I can create with them to give their beautiful designs a second life in your hands as designers, to be worn and enjoyed in the future.

It makes me feel I'm extending their life, and that makes me smile.
Speaking of plans, I guess I should let you know ahead of time that I'll be traveling again at the end of the month to visit family, and things won't ship from the shop until after the first week of July - so if you will be needing a component or something from the shop, let me know as early as you can so I can get it to you before then.

So if you have an opinion on the poll - can you vote so I know what you think?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Lot of Heat, No Kidding

At Artfest I took two classes that involved enameling copper. I've been wanting to add some enamel color to the pewter pieces.

Finally the weather was warm and dry, and I could set up the glass topped table outdoors and play around with enamels.

I had all the supplies, but after reading a lot of safety information about using enamels, I decided not to use them inside the house, so I had to wait for all the rain to stop. Saturday was the day.

I cut some small strips of extra copper, so I could do tests with the four colors of enamels I bought a while back. I didn't know what the colors would look like. They're called Spring Green and Mocha Brown, Opaque White and Yellow Flax.

I want to get some Oriental Red, but I need to get a few more funds in the PayPal account before I do an order of enamels.

So these test strips are the colors I tried out first, so I'd know what they would look like. Before I cut some round copper and domed them, to try to make charms.

One thing I learned is that the torch is very, very hot and can burn up the copper. No kidding, that torch is super hot. I burned up this first set of domed rounds.

But hey, that's how you learn, right? You push to see where the limits are. How many times could I re-fire the copper, if I wanted to add layers to the color?

How far away from the soldering stand did I need to keep the torch?

How close did it need to be, and how many seconds, to get the enamel totally melted?

That's what I was experimenting to find out. Hope you don't mind seeing the failures, the ones that showed me how far NOT to go when using the torch.

Finally, after I kept trying, I got these two little sugar cherry domes, they remind me of candies. I balled up the ends of copper wires to make ruby colored balls and wire-wrapped them to make loops.

I know if I keep working with it I'll get better.

I went ahead and listed these drops in the Etsy shop, to test and see if any of you are interested in the enameled copper drops?

I think they'd be really sweet as earrings.

So - should I keep forging ahead with enameling?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Blue Birds

I showed earlier how I put a mirror in a bezel and covered it with a swinging lid. That reminded me of a medallion I created a while back with lovebirds on it.

I wanted to put some color into it, a bright blue that looks like bird's eggs.

It's glossy like enameled metal, but it's hand painted, not fused.

The bezel has an egg shape to it, rounded and oval, with the blue background and the sweet nesting birds on it.

I guess it's summertime, with bright blue skies and bird's eggs.

If this one has now found a home somewhere I'll make some more like it. I think it's very fun, I can see it with baby blue pearls in a strand, as a pretty necklace for a summertime party.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Round and Round

I snagged a few hours for creativity, and decided to create some more of these soldered glass connectors.

I like them, especially the ones with things about Paris and very vintage images in them. Snippets from love letters. Old writing.

They have two loops for using in a chain, or I guess as a focal with a dangle.

I could see a bracelet with them, maybe with buttons in between as connector links.

I need to make more of these, they're fun.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

You Tell Me

Sometimes I'm really lucky and friends send me old charms or lovely metal finds, to see if I can take a mold off them to cast some new pieces in pewter from the old ones. I love it when that happens, I can help out a friend who has a special object they want to save but make it possible for them to use the pretty pattern in their designs, too.

When I have the originals I like to think about how to add to them or enhance them, sometimes with a little place for setting some rhinestone BLING and sometimes by combining two things together, to make a pewter charm collage.

This pretty little basket of flowers charm was sent to me by Deryn Mentock, along with some special buttons saved from Galveston. She's written about them on her blog, and I'm thrilled she is letting me see if I can save and restore their designs.

I wanted to make something special with this basket of flowers charm, so I combined it with a decorative medallion I had already cast and it came out as this three-cornered charm, I think it has a real Victorian look to it. It's surprisingly very lightweight!

Sometimes I take the charms and add loops to make them into connectors, or centerpieces for rosary strands. To add my own touch to them, and help make them useable - and unique.

I also made this little charm that I think of as a gazing ball, like the Victorian gardens have for seeing reflections out in nature, except this one is clear and has a loop at the top to be a charm or dangle.

I made this one in clear and I will make some also that are dark black solid in color, through a glass darkly.

I think the two of them would look good together in a design, very antique!

Thank you, Deryn! I will work hard to save and enhance these little button sculptures ...

Take the poll to the left on the sidebar, if you have a moment to spare and a preference in how you like to see things offered in the Etsy shop. Sometimes I have things all made up before I list them, and sometimes I list and make them up special order just when you buy.

I'd love to know what you think about both ... THANKS!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

SkyGlass Looking

I have some news, I was hoping for a great announcement to share, but I want to share my best effort and the results with you.

See the picture? That's a class proposal sample I made for an application to teach next year.

I called it a Skyglass Prism. It has a kaleidescope inside, it's a viewer.

When you hold the end with the small opening up to your eye and look through with your other eye closed, you can see through to the room beyond, but in a kaleidescopic colorful view.

I made two proposals to teach at Artfest 2011, and this was one of the items in the proposals.

Unfortunately, I wasn't accepted, there were lots of proposals and I didn't make it.

This time!

These are fun items I've been thinking about making for a long time, so I decided to make them the focus of the propsal, and to use them as a finished project item for teaching creativity in polymer clay, 3-D sculpture in miniature and using acrylic paints with polymer clay to create colorful aged and antique looks.

This one has a sun-face on the top with wings. I made four of them all together, they're all different colors and images but the design is the same.

I think they're very cool-looking and fun. I was so hopeful they'd be unique and different, and would catch the eye, to give me that opporunity to teach them next year.

But alas, that isn't how it turned out.

But we have to keep trying and doing new things. Don't we?

Now I'm considering whether I should write a proposed article for Belle Armoire on these, how they're made. Not sure how much like jewelry they are? I know I'd wear one as a pendant, but I might not be the usual jewelry wearer!

Here you can see through the prism end to the hole at the other end.

Just because I think they're cool might not mean that anyone else would like them!

So what do you think of them? Would you wear something like them for fun?

I think I'm going to list this one
in the Etsy shop and see if anyone falls in love with it.

And ....

If any of you know of others who are looking for a teacher for a project like this - pass the word along! I'd love to teach how to make these Skyglass Prisms, and I'd love the chance to meet all of you in a fun class somewhere!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Focally Speaking

Last weekend I spent time just letting my fingers make whatever they wanted. Not especially planned, just spur of the moment.

Sometimes I have a specific idea in mind. And other times I just let things go, and wait to see with some surprise what comes. This focal bead, with its partial initial and wire work, reminds me of the kinds of advertising plaques you used to see in old general stores.

For some kind of liquor, or maybe patent medicine.

I'm not sure exactly what it is myself, I guess you can help me write its story.

This focal has an oriental feeling to me, with the round bezel and the peaceful moon face inside.

It's hand polished and buffed to a very worn and natural sheen.

And this one has a french feeling with the ornate decorative fleur de lys pattern on it, in a walnut brown warm tone, with fancy wire scrollwork.

Like something on a garden gate in the deep south, in Louisiana.

Seeing what comes out of working for a couple of days is just as surprising to me as anyone!

Hey, I've been putting some special things on SALE in the Etsy shop - they're going kind of quickly so if you've had your eye on something pop over, it might be a great deal!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Black Heart Urn

I've been meaning to re-make this urn shape for some time. I finally got one made.

I put a little place for a black heart to be set at the bottom.

Like a little gem, not too obvious. Something simple.

It has a sort of dark, gothic look to me. Very romantic.

I can see it with black faceted glass beads, or some very dark pearls.

Maybe a double strand, attached at the top and on each side.


I'm enjoying attaching these faux gemstones to the pewter, for a little color and some bling. I think to myself that they will find their new home quickly, and sometimes they do.

I hope this one does. I like it, I'd like someone to make something stunning with it.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Winners, All Winners

You all are the best, you cheered me up and helped me get a grip!

I want to announce the winner of the bracelet, and the other winners. It was a fun project and it made me so happy to see so many participate, thank you!

The winner of the bracelet is Sandi M for the great list of specifics, I can use every word.

There were so many great participants I decided to give away two more items, a special charm will go to Beverly Herman and another special charm to Alice, thanks for your words of wisdom and for following the blog.

But I also want to extend a special discount to all of you who posted on the Giveaway post - in the shop you'll all have free shipping for the entire month of June and a 50% discount on anything you purchase between now and June 20.

Just put I POSTED THE GIVEAWAY in the note at checkout on any purchase and I'll ajust the invoice in PayPal and send you a new one without shipping charges, and with 50% off your purchase price. Everything listed in the Etsy shop right now is ready to ship, if you need something special send me a Convo about it!

I would send all of you a free charm, but there were 32 of you! So this is the next best thing, you can pick out your own special item.

Alice, Sandi and Beverly, send me your contact information through the email link on the left sidebar and I'll send out your special goodies!
And thank you all very much.

Now, let's all GO MAKE ART!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Making A Difference - For You?

Here's some news about what's going on with me, I'm excited about some new adventures.

My article in Belle Armoire Jewelry for the Summer issue is coming out soon, the article is about faux amber resin.

I just sent out a packet to apply to teach at a fun place, I'll share more details once I find out if my proposal has been accepted. Hard to wait!

I made this focal component to look like one of the old-timey shoe buckles, or a lady's delicate belt buckle. Do you remember those? I used to have one that looked like carved ivory or bone, but sometime in the past I lost track of it. Maybe I'll make a reproduction of that one.  This one is in pewter with a coppery-bronze finish.

It looks very old, worn and has a great patina.

Do you ever get frustrated with custom order requests? I have recently had a situation come up where I was trying to do something nice for someone, and now that person is unhappy with the outcome. I try my best to treat folks the way I want to be treated, that's my standard for how I should act.

I've gotten to the place where I am reluctant to take custom orders. It's so hurtful when they don't work out. Don't get me wrong, when it works out well people are so happy and have such nice communications. You'd think that would make more of a difference, wouldn't you?

Why is it that the bad communications stick out so much more, why wouldn't the nice communciations, the happy words, be the ones that get the most notice? The unhappy person with their CAPS LOCK on when they email does seem to be the one that gets the most focus, somehow.

If you have any words of wisdom I wish you'd share them. It's a real downer to try so very hard to put a smile on someone's face, just to have it turn out to be impossible to do.

If I've ever put a smile on your face, I would sure enjoy thinking that I made a difference for you ...

Thank you in advance for your support as I weather this thunderstorm of personal attack.