Sunday, June 28, 2009

Lydia's Filly - new website supports a great cause!

One of my facebook/blog/etsy friends, Michelle of Lydia's Filly has just designed her own website. She makes and beautiful jewelry, but another wonderful part of her business is that she donates a portion of her profits to a great cause. She is supporting Operation Mend, an organization that helps wounded military get the reconstructive surgery they need. She sells her jewelry through her etsy shop.

She also has an Artist Spotlight on her website and has put my etsy shop in that category right now. Like Michelle, I donate the profits from some of my jewelry (the Awareness Collection line) to a worthy cause, breast cancer research, to the American Cancer Society's "Making Strides Against Breast Cancer" walk. The earrings pictured to the left are part of my Awareness Collection line.

I think it's wonderful when artists use their talents to help support their favorite cause. There is so much need out there and I truly believe we all need to do our part in helping whenever we can.

Thank you, Michelle for including my shop on your site and for your thoughtfullness and caring for others. Be sure to visit and support Michelle's etsy shop and her website, Lydia's Filly today!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

What should it be? Tell me, please!

Another interesting day in metalsmithing class today. I'll start with the picture on the left. I wanted more practice cutting small curves, so I cut this design out of copper. I tried to solder it onto the sterling back, but was not successful. Ugh. So, I chose to rivet it onto the base instead. I did however, get a lot of practice with pickle, cleaning, sanding, polishing and buffing today! So tell me, what should the item in the photo be when it's finished? A broach? A pendant? Should it be worn vertically or horizontally? Angled? And, what does it remind you of? The original photo was a free flowing, curvy, spirally design. Now when held vertically, it reminds me vaguely of the old Dave Mathews CD cover logo from "Stand Up" (2005). The one with a woman dancing, arms outstretched. When I hold it horizontally, it reminds me of a bird with a curved beak and wings flapping. One of the rivets looks like an eye. I think there's a little seahorse vibe to it also. I'd love to know what it reminds you of and if I should hang it as a pendant or attach a pin to the back for a broach. Either will require a solder - yikes!
I won't say much about my soldering today; only that I tried and failed many times. I signed up for a class in August devoted just to soldering. I need that class.
In all, this week's class was fun, challenging and tiring but I tried new things and learned a lot. I'm looking forward to having out of town guests staying with me this next week and taking a little break from making jewelry. After 4 days of seemingly non-stop jewelry challenges, I could use the break.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A finished bezel set ring!

My first bezel set ring is finished! It was another fun day in class. I finished setting the stone and polishing the ring. It's actually shinier than the photo appears. I also learned to make hollow metal beads that were soldered around a center seam; of course mine didn't fully solder around the entire seam though. I still need more practice with that technique. I also pierced and sawed a little more in preparation for a pendant. And I learned some different techniques for riveting!

My bench neighbor made a beautiful opal ring, but she ran into quite a few problems during the process. She spent the whole day patiently working on the ring, eventually with great success. But, at the end of the day she was so tired and discouraged that she wasn't sure she liked it any more. Sometimes we get so emotionally invested in our pieces that if a piece was a huge challenge, the finished product can either be resented or be loved all the more - as a labor of love. Her dad cut the opal stone himself, so I hope that when she sees the ring again tomorrow, she falls in love with it. After all, she and her dad put a lot of themselves into it.

More tomorrow. Four consecutive days of class is a lot of information to process!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Finally, some success with soldering today!

My class today went so much better than yesterday, thank goodness! I struggled again early this morning with soldering a ring shank, but after 3 tries, my instructor showed me a different way to place the solder on my projects (place it before heating the flux rather than after) and it's been pretty smooth sailing with 4 easily successful solders after that! My main struggle previously was picking up a hot solder piece and placing it correctly, then getting it to come off the titanium pick. Placing it at the start works much better for me, even though I know I may have to quickly adjust the solder if it moves while the flux is heating. A simple change in my procedure and now my soldering is going so much easier.

The day was soooo enjoyable. Our "only" project today (8 hours) was to make a bezel set ring. The photo above shows what I have completed today. I'm not done yet, though. It needs to be polished with several grades of polishing compounds and disks and then finally, the stone needs to be set. I picked a simple jasper stone, fully expecting it to be ruined by the end of the project, but now I have hope that all will turn out well and I'll have a wearable ring. It's by no means perfect, but I think it will turn out to be quite good, for a first try piece.

I also fell in love today with the Foredom Flex-Shaft and all of the brushes, sanding, polishing, drilling it can do - all with a foot pedal speed control! It's next on my list of tools I just have to own. We all looked simply lovely in our dust masks and goggles!

This last picture is the unfinished ring with the stone just laying in it. Just imagine the stone set tightly and the sterling polished to a brilliant shine! That's what the finished ring will look like by late tomorrow. The class schedule tomorrow includes making hollow metal beads, riveting and soldering earwires to earring backs.
In case you're wondering, the 4 soldered areas in this ring are:
1) the ring shank
2) the bezel frame (portion that wraps around the stone)
3) the base of the bezel to the bezel frame
4) soldering the bezel frame and base onto the ring shank.
I hope you all have a great weekend. Wish me luck and fun as I spend the next two days in class!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A full day of metalsmithing class

Whew! Today was the first day of my metalsmithing classes at Pratt Fine Arts Center in Seattle. The copper cuff bracelet pictured here was the easiest thing that we made and pretty much the only thing I was successful at today.
After several tries, I think I'm now somewhat "proficient" at using a jeweler's saw and piercing techniques.
But soldering, well that's an entirely different story. I tried soldering 5 different things and only succeeded on one of them. The rest of the items I ruined, going so far as to melt my metal. Too hot, too close, too long, maybe my metal wasn't clean enough, too much solder, not enough solder mistakes were many. I have never soldered or even watched something be soldered before, so everything about it was new to me. The lingo was new, the tools were new, and I felt way too close to my neighbors to be using an acetylene torch safely. Yes, my mother told me not to play with fire. The class was 8 hours long and by the time we started to solder, I was already tired, overloaded and rushed.
Tomorrow, we'll be soldering rings and bezels and setting stones into the bezels. I suspect it will prove to be another deflating day for me since I've not mastered basic soldering yet. I need to start back at square one tomorrow. I'll try to just focus on mastering the skills, then do some serious practicing at home in the future. Maybe far into the future. I know several really experienced jewelry makers who won't solder anything. But I have so many ideas of things I'd like to make that would require soldering, I refuse to give up on it - yet. The next 3 days of classes will be interesting!
Time for some sleep, so I can concentrate tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Good Day Sunshine - even on a cloudy day!

I just received an email from the Wickedly Chic website to tell me they have included my ring, "Good Day Sunshine" in the Daily Ditties section of their site today! You can see it here! This is such a surprise treat and honor for me!

So, even on a cloudy day in Seattle, it's a Good Day Sunshine. How many old songs does that line make you think of? I can't decide which one to sing first!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Another Treasury Honor and some new items

I'm honored once again today by having my new pendant, Sand Storm, featured in an etsy treasury! It's the one on the bottom right corner. I love this pendant; the lamp work glass bead reminds me of a huge gust of wind and waves blowing up sand on a beach and I love the amulet frame I forged for it and the heavy sterling ball chain. The treasury is titled "Sand... beach dreaming" and was curated by Jill of PuzzleBoBuzzle. It's a beautiful treasury with many wonderful items and artists - be sure to check it out, click on individual items in it and also check out PuzzleBoBuzzle, too!
I've also listed several new items on my etsy site this week, so be sure to check them out here and let me know what you think! fyi, I originally made "Sand Storm" a few weeks ago in a class, but wasn't happy with it (it was crooked in the frame) so I took it apart and remade it into its current form this week :) I'm much happier with it now!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Seattle Summer - an EtsyRain Treasury!

Our local etsy team, Team EtsyRain, had a challenge to create something that reminds the us of a Seattle summer. I love going to farmers markets and picking up fresh fruit; cantaloupe is one of my favorites, so I created a multi-hue orange/peach necklace. Everyone's entries have been combined into this treasury! Take a look and enjoy. Summer is finally here in Seattle!

I also want to give a shout out in praise of Team etsyrain's organizers. They really do a lot to help local etsy sellers. Thanks Kayce for putting this treasury together!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

A few things for my sister

My sister has been visiting me from MN this week. She brought a glass bead that she wanted me to forge a pendant frame for. She also got a first hand look at my mixed metals jewelry line and loved it, so she asked me to make a pendant and earring set for her.
She loves to garden and I really, really hate weeding, so while I've been making her jewelry, she's been weeding my yard and planting flowers for me. It's been a fun, win-win week! She'll head back to MN tomorrow with her new jewelry and my yard looks great! Thanks sis!