Monday, September 26, 2016

09.26.16 Single Ladies

...if you wanted it you shoulda put a ring on it...oh, oh, oh... I started writing this post, I began to hear Single Ladies playing in my head...

There was a time when, if my daughter wanted to annoy me a little bit while we were spending some quality time in the car, she would begin to sing the chorus of Single Ladies (if she wanted to annoy me A LOT she would begin to hum Nutcracker music).  I do miss my daughter, but honestly, I don't miss all those hours driving the mom bus afterschool, evenings and weekends (now I spend that time at the jewelry studio).

Over the past several months of buying larger stones for my pendants, I have accumulated quite a nice collection of "littles" that the lapidary artists have included as extras with my purchases.  As I spread them out and looked at them recently, I thought "I should put a ring on that" (ok, what I really thought was "I should put that on a ring..."). The thing is - I hadn't made a ring since I took Fabrication 101, and I'd never put a bezel on a ring shank.


I had some wire odds and ends - small pieces of bezel and a length of 12 gauge round - so I started playing around with them and decided to take a day or two off from pendants, and try my hand at rings (pun intended).

Despite all the hours I've spent at the bench over the past few months, I actually approached this simple project with a little bit of trepidation.  The only rings I wear are my wedding and anniversary bands, so I hadn't had much interest in - or given much thought to - making any other ones.

I was pleasantly surprised at just how quickly and easily I could create some simple stacking rings.  There are some things that require special attention - like making sure not to melt the much smaller bezels, and lining up the ring shank with the backplate to make sure the stone sits in the right place.

Over the course of the afternoon, I worked up the beginnings of a nice little collection - and was limited only by the length of wire I had to make the bands.  I got three nice pieces assembled and I've ordered more wire to go with the rest of the small stones.

Not only do the rings go together relatively quickly - especially compared to the large pendants with the cut outs on the back - they require a lot less silver.  The pendants are large, complex and expensive, and it will be really nice to be have some pieces in my Etsy shop at a price below $50.

So - if you like what you see, hop on over to the shop - and put a ring on it.

Until next time.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

09.19.16 Ooooh....pretty!

In case it's not obvious (or you haven't read some of my previous posts) - making jewelry has not diminished my appreciation for the work of others, nor has it improved my impulse control.

Photo credit: Lea Smith Designs
Earlier this summer I was sitting at the bench next to fellow Creative Side member Lea Smith, who was just getting started on a pair of earrings, made with great black and tan stones (which I later learned are petrified palm wood).

As she was sketching, I asked her "are those sold?"  When she said "no" I said I wanted them - she was happy to oblige (I paid for them, of course).

Photo credit: Lea Smith Designs

My earrings are a variation on one of her styles called "Sun Burst".  While mine are one of a kind, you can find an all silver pair of earring jackets with a similar "fringe" on her website.

I love them - and I've been wearing them a lot!  They are perfect with my favorite "neutral but never boring" transitional dress and clutch, which is in regular rotation right now when the calendar says "fall" but the weather still says "summer".

Dress: J Jill. Bag: Clare Vivier
Photo credit: Jewelry by Cari/
About the same time I snapped up Lea's earrings, another favorite jeweler - Cari Streeter - introduced a number of new pieces in her Jewelry by Cari line.

...and because you can NEVER have too many diamonds...I ordered this pair from Russell Korman.  I mean - what's better than new diamond earrings and being able to support two of my favorite jewelry business at one time!

They're only about an inch long and great everyday earrings...comfortable to wear with just a little bit of sparkle!

These two pairs, along with the glass poppies from Lunacy Glass, makes three in the past month or so - as is frequently the case.  I don't know why it happens that way,  but it does, I'll go months without buying anything, then all of a sudden...I see things I want and all my self control evaporates!

Earrings are my biggest weakness, but they don't go bad, take up much space, have no calories and they do make me really I keep adding to my collection. 

I hope you find things that make you happy, too.

Until next time.

Monday, September 12, 2016

09.12.16 Hi ho, hi ho...

it's off to work I the studio, that is.

Yep, as of September 1, I am a full time member/renter at Creative Side Jewelry, with my own key!  Back in February I put my first piece up in my Etsy store - and since then I've sold about a piece a month - which is very exciting.

I've also made some decisions - big and small - that brought me here.

The big decision was committing to more time at the bench.   I've done a lot of talking with my husband - who has been my biggest supporter and encouraged me throughout this journey.  In fact he's the one who suggested I not wait until the start of 2017 to rent a bench, but to go ahead and do it now, so that I can create some inventory in advance of the holidays.

Smaller decisions involved buying a few special tools of my own, even though the studios at Creative Side are fully equipped.  

Photo credit:
Joyce Chen scissors.  These things are amazing - they cut through sheet metal (I've used them on 20 gauge silver with no difficulty) and allow you to get really close to an edge.  I learned about using scissors rather than sawing from Ronda Coryell.  Before becoming the guru of argentium, she generally worked with gold; she NEVER saws - because sawing results in lost metal - and gold is expensive.  I don't saw nearly as much because I've learned I don't have to. 

Photo credit: Rio Grande Jewelry Supply

For those tight spots you can't get into with scissors, I love these Lindstrom flush cutters.  They are pricey ($48 from Rio) but like the scissors above, they will cut right through sheet metal, and in the tightest of spots.  They also leave a very clean edge when cutting wire for jumprings or earring findings.

I also purchased a couple of pairs of Euro Tool specialty pliers from Rio - not as expensive as the cutters, but oh, so useful for very specific tasks.

Photo credit: Rio Grande Jewelry Supply
Sometimes before cutting a length of wire, I really want to make it nice and straight - and flat nose pliers with nylon jaws are a dream.  You can pull the wire through (over and over if you want) without kinking or scratching.  They are also great if you need to bend or straighten a piece of sheet - because they won't mar the surface there, either.

While the flat nosed pliers are more general purpose, the other pair I bought is not - but it is ideal from someone who bends a lot of bails and earwires.

Photo credit: Rio Grande Jewelry Supply

These bail shaping pliers have six different graduated sizes for making loops around - and I find them much easier to use - especially for bails (when I am forming them from 20 or 22 gauge sheet) than traditional round nosed pliers.

Photo Credit: Otto Frei

Finally, I bought a Green Lion saw. I'd been using the standard saw frames at the studio - and doing just fine - but I had heard about this saw.  I asked a lot of questions in an online metalsmithing group - and to a person - the answer I got was "if you really want to do advanced piercing work (cut outs on the back of my pendants) - invest in this saw."  So, I did - and I haven't been disappointed.

To tote all these things - plus a few others like pencils, rulers and some less exotic pliers - back and forth to the studio, I bought a wonderful waxed canvas and leather tool roll on Etsy (supporting other independent craftspeople is really important).

Photo credit: TheoHenry on Etsy

I'm really excited about this next step - and look forward to continuing to share what I learn and make with all of you.

Until next time.

Monday, September 5, 2016

09.05.16 Glass in Bloom

I swore up, down and sideways that I wasn't going to buy any souvenirs at the Corning Museum other than my pendant - but their shop is GORGEOUS - and I totally caved.

There were plenty of things that didn't create a blip on my radar - but more than a few items caught my eye.

I resisted this t shirt - although I did take a picture - because I have these Pyrex nested mixing bowls (they were my mother in law's and she gave them to me years ago).   The green one is just the right size for Passover chicken salad, and the yellow one is perfect for letting challah rise overnight in the fridge.

I resisted the market full of blown glass "blooms" in pretty much every color of the rainbow...

but ultimately I could not resist a pair of poppy lamp work earrings and a book about the museum's collection.  I've been enjoying both my purchases since returning home.  I've worn the earrings a lot, and loving the book - which is kind of like a portable version of the 35 Centuries of Glass exhibit.
Photo credit: Lunacy Glass

I fell in love with the bright red flowers - they were in a locked case (of course, because I'm always drawn to the hand crafted - and more expensive - stuff) with a card that gave a little bit of information about the artist, Lucie Kovarova-Weir.

Everything in Lucie's display was red - poppies and strawberries - and I hemmed and hawed before settling on the earrings.

Photo credit: Lunacy Glass

Born in the Czech Republic, she is formally trained in animation, but transitioned to glass as a self taught artist.  She left the Czech Republic for Canada in 2001, and in 2002 she opened Lunacy Glass Studio (I love that name).  

Lucie's website says "Glass artist by day, gardener and a cook by night, living, working and raising family in an Eastern Ontario small town." 

Her work is fabulous - and I am not surprised that she has exhibited throughout North American and Europe - or that she is a featured artist in the Corning Museum shop.  I'm certainly delighted to have discovered her and found her website, Etsy shop and blog...and I imagine this won't be my last piece of Lunacy Glass jewelry.

Until next time.