Saturday, November 27, 2010

Anniversary Gifts & Still More Birthdays!
Nov 27, 2010

Anniversaries are tough - specially in the jewelry creation world. I mean girls like bling - the husbands not so much. SO how do you create a piece for the wife and something coordinating for the husband that he won't be afraid to show because it's to 'girly'?

Here's my attempt -

My Niece (yes she and her little family are the main focus of my creative world in August and September!!) and her husband have been married for 3 years now. They had a GORGEOUS wedding w/ bright whites, dark reds and well - she's blonde haired, blue-eyed and simply gorgeous (LUCKILY she didn't get the family genes! ;o)) so it had to be beautiful.

To celebrate their Anniversary I contacted one of my favorite lamp-work bead artists and asked her if she could make me a custom bead. I had purchased a big-hole bead from Principessa Glass in the past that was larger than a normal big-hole bead ... this is what I wanted a bigger than normal bead. I asked for a sapphire bead w/ Amethyst and Peridot colors added to it. Sapphire for their wedding month (and her birthday month), Amethyst for his birthday month and Peridot for their daughter's birthday month. This is where my friend Audrey of Principessa Glass knows best - if the blue was the base color the others wouldn't show up well but she did have some shards in her words... "really look cool and have a different look from different angles". And they were plum which actually looks sort of "Amethyst-y" on the beads. So she created 7 beads for me to choose from. One was lighter than the others and I asked to have that one cored in brass (her brass cores look very vintage and cool) and two others I loved and asked to have them cored in sterling silver. B is the one I chose for her necklace, C has lighter dots and I had that cored in brass for me, and A you'll see below...

From those beads I created this necklace - "Anniversary Sparkles" - featuring custom focal big-hole bead cored in sterling silver by Principessa Glass with two of my hand-made, fine silver (.999) big-hole tube beads. I added tiny 3mm Amethyst and Sapphire CZs to the tubes before firing. Fired and tumbled them to a high shine. The beads are hanging on a hand-dyed silk Sapphire ribbon by Jamn Glass. I trimmed the ribbon to approx 20" and created the sterling silver coiled end-caps. It's finished off with a hand-forged sterling "S" hook with a Sapphire blue spacer bead by That Bead Girl (::wink:: part of my That Bead Girl booty!)

As you can see I think I spend too much time thinking about the pieces I make - but then, if I don't love the pieces making them wouldn't be as fun and thinking of how personalized they are and hoping that the reaction of the recipient is positive keeps me creating!

Now for the hubby... What do you create for a husband? Hmmm - how about a key fob? Something he can clip onto his keys and carry with him. Something not to flashy, something that represents them. So here's my attempt - Custom Principessa Glass bead "A" on a piece of hand-woven sterling silver viking knit chain. I coiled sterling silver wire over a thicker guage wire and coiled the whole piece around to make a sort of end-cap. I still really have no idea what I'm doing now... but thought hmmm ok - push the left over wire from the coil up thru the center of the viking knit chain, loop it and make a wrap at the top. BAM! One Anniversary Key Fob. "What do you think?"

Ok so not so sure about that so I'll be adding a gift certificate for both of them with the package when I mail it! ;o)

OCTOBER - Birthday -

I have a new Sister-In-Law ... well, relatively new - she married my brother last year on Halloween. Now think about it - kinda bizarre eh? Getting married on Halloween? I mean ... oi - never mind! ;o) Anyway - her birthday is in October. NOT a great month for birthstones in the silver clay world because most opals don't like FIRE. ::sigh:: which means you have to make a bezel and set the opals and it's something I struggle with! YIKES! So what do you make?

In this case I had purchased a set of beads in June from Bastille Bleu Lampwork that made me think of her. She's tiny and feisty and has dark hair and flashing eyes. PERFECT mate for my brother! "Tiger Tails and Leopard Spots" how's that for a name? I love the names that Nikki comes up with - actually all the folks that make lamp-work beads come up with some hum-dingers for names! It's the artist in them, they can't help it - it suits the beads and gets folks like me to buy them! ;o)I also scooped up a big hole bead w/ similar feel that she created later in the summer. I thought if I edge it w/ bronze it will fit in nicely as the focal for the bracelet.

I am rambling again aren't I? Any who... I've also been playing with Prometheus Bronze Clay... and I thought hmmm she's got pretty coloring that would work well with bronze - so I decided to combine the two - beads from "Tiger Tails and Leopard Spots" set and bronze metal beads. The Prometheus Bronze is interesting - different firing times, set-up and temperatures. Even the feel is different. You really have to work it to get it in condition to roll out. But I liked it. And I've not had any really bad firings. My first batch bubbled a little on the top which someone said was too high heat, but when I researched more I found that people who have really tested bronze clay say the bubbles are not from too much heat - they don't know what it's from. The bubbles go away if you hammer it. And let me tell you I hammered it! I beat the livin' crapola out of some chain pieces that I made and those babies held up great!

So I created some hollow tube beads w/ little 3mm Clear CZs on them. Very pleased with how they turned out. The texture I used was wood grain and it came out subtle but good on the little tube beads. I had used some bronze chain that I made on the first go round of the bracelet and although I liked it - it was too beginner/chunky for this bracelet. My next try was thinner and perfectly smooth! So I redesigned and restrung. It was also my attempt at an asymmetrical design... didn't quite sit right in my mind SO ... I created this lovely instead. The beads as I wrote above are by Bastille Bleu Lampwork and LOVE them! :o) (Luckily have a few left over from the set!) I added some of my hand-made bronze findings - big ole end-caps, the tube beads with clear CZs, the clasp bronze and wire - and then created some 2x2 chain using vintage bronze wire. Yep got all crazy on this one and cut, cut, cut, cut, cut and then connected, connected, connected, connected the chain together each little jump ring! LOL! I really enjoyed it actually and like how it feels. The little green spacers and bronzey/brown colored beads are all lampwork from my That Bead Girl booty! ;o) I really love this piece - it's the first piece I've done in bronze w/ no silver and I'm excited to see what she thinks.

OK so I'm finishing this one even though there is more - yes! So much more! Quick note - for my brother and sister-in-law's wedding anniversary I didn't make jewelry - SHOCKED? Me too! But I found something better! What do you get the couple that has each other therefore has everything? A custom, artisan made, lampwork wine stopper w/ coordinating appetizer forks! What? You didn't think of that? Well neither did I! Until I saw the most awesome stoppers on Amber's site! That Bead Girl is more than just a place for me to get a "bead fix". She has beautiful gifts as well - all made by HER hands!! I loved the wine stopper so much I had to get it and then ordered 10 forks to go with it as a set. She did a fantastic job and if I hadn't shipped them this afternoon I'd run and take a picture right now but I can show you a picture of the wine stopper!

Until next time... I leave you with this thought - Please take time to visit my friends using the links posted above. These gals make all their product by hand - in their work shops, rooms, studios. They are true artisans and I am so proud to present their work in my pieces.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Lordy, Lordy... It's been a while.
Nov 26, 2010

"DANG!" It's been a long time.
Work-work has been crazy. Changes and more changes and yet you know the saying - the more it changes the more it stays the same.

But I've been trying to keep busy on the creative side too - it helps keep my mind clear but sometimes I get caught up in the stressers of work and worrying about getting a piece done and then I step back and remember - this is fun... and try to relax. SO - here's some fun I've been having lately...

Gifts, Gifts ... late gifts!
August starts crazy birthday & anniversary time for our family! And as I indicated at the beginning of this post - it's been awful crazy couple of months so all my birthday and anniversary gifts are late! Yep - late... as in mailing tomorrow late! YIKES! OK enough of that - on to the good stuff!

In August my little great-niece turned two and I created two gifts for her - first is a charm bracelet I call "One to Grow On". It has little mother of pearl beads, Swarovski pearls and some precious hand-made lamp-work beads by Bastille Bleu Lampwork. The Rose is for her name, the cupcake because she loves cupcakes and the color is pretty close to her birthstone. The lady-bug is a nick name she has. The heart was hand-crafted by me from fine silver and stamped with Mom and Dad. The thought is that I can create fine silver charms and send to her and her mom can add them to the charm bracelet for her.

Now, knowing that she's only 2 and this has small pieces I figured that her mom would hold onto it for her for a little while so I created a cutesy little necklace that she can wear now to play dress-up with. Created with lamp-work beads from a number of artists but featuring a bear, ruffled disks and polka dot beads by Bastille Bleu Lampwork. The others are from Blissful Garden. The beads are strung on a piece of pink suede cord and knotted so that it can be shortened or lengthened as the little one desires!

September brings birthdays and anniversaries -

"Baby Love" is for my niece who is a wonderful mom. Her daughter is represented in this necklace. The pendant is hand-crafted completely by me in fine silver (.999). The heart starts on the lower left w/ a lily, curves up to the rose at the top and then curves down to a cz representing the babies birthday - Peridot. The pendant was made in stages w/ firings between each stage. I'm so in love with this pendant. From the little sparkly silver frit and patina in the lily flower to the rose made with individual-shaped rose petals to the leaves wrapped around the heart. It gave me grief but I learned a lot from it!

Now this beautiful (if I do say so myself) pendant hangs from a gorgeous, hand-dyed silk ribbon in chartreuse by Jamn Glass. I trimmed the ribbon to approx 20" and formed the sterling silver coiled end pieces and then hand-forged the sterling hook with a pretty little chartreuse lamp-work spacer by That Bead Girl capped on each end by my own fine silver (.999) hand-made, textured end-caps.

Oh now there's a fun story -
Amber from That Bead Girl makes gorgeous bead, cabochons, and beautiful wine stoppers, appetizer forks, bookmarks, pendants and more all featuring her gorgeous lamp-work pieces. When she creates custom beads she makes extras to be sure her sizing, color, shapes are correct. When she has a large amount of these orphans she puts them together in a lot and posts them to ebay. Wellll let me tell you I scored one of her postings - 355 hand-made lamp-work beads. Spacers like nobodies business! Some focals, some regular beads, discs, mini's, roundels, OMG I was/am in bead heaven!!

So now you know how I ended up with the coordinating chartreuse lamp-work spacer for the hook!!!

OK - enough! Next post will be Anniversaries!! and still MORE birthdays!

Please take time to visit my friends using the links posted above. These gals make all their product by hand - in their work shops, rooms, studios. They are true artisans and I am so proud to present their work in my pieces.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Catching Up -
Ramblings & Musings - Part 2
PLUS Creations!

I spent a few hours with a friend one Wednesday afternoon as she tried her hand at jewelry making - beading. She had expressed interest but was unsure if it was really something she wanted to pursue so I thought wwweeelll... I have a 'crap ton' of beads - natural, lampwork, swaros, etc; a 'crap ton' of beading wire, crimps, crimp covers and tools - so I invited her over for a play day.

She walked into my kitchen where I had moved all my jars of beads onto a huge lazy susan on the table and looked at those and then at the trays of little plastic jars w/ more beads and said "OMGosh I don't know where to begin". I watched her pour over the beads... thinking of a bracelet first for her daughter and thinking purple (what is it with tweens and teens and purple??) and she reached for a Paradise Designs long purple focal that I had always imagined on a necklace and she made THAT the focal for the bracelet. She combined it with some purple spacers that went w/ the focal, some swaros and some shampoo glass spacers and came up with a really pretty bracelet. (And no... I stupidly did not take a photo but I'm going to either get one the next time I see them or ask them to send me one.) Not knowing it was created as a 'necklace' focal she just went with her gut and thought of that bead as I hadn't... as a bracelet focal. She did the EXACT same thing for hers - she reached for a Canyon Echoes focal that to me read necklace all over it, turned it sideways added swaros and lampwork spacers and voila another bracelet that I hadn't 'seen' in the bead.

I learned a lot from her today and it all came back to me when I saw the spoke to the flight attendant about her necklace. (Last post... Work-Work Takes Over - Ramblings & Musings.)

Now for some jewelry -

I've been away for quite a while - work-work has kept me very busy but it seems to be leveling out again. I did managed to squeeze in a few pieces.

Sea Treasures Necklace...
Sea Treasures was created from a focal of varnished sand dollar with piece of cobalt colored sea glass by Northern Sea Glass (they have awesome antique Japanese & Korean Fishing Floats too!) and a fine silver star fish with a 4mm ruby cz in the middle that I made. The glass beads are hollow lampwork beads by That Bead Girl and it is interspersed with shampoo glass spacers. A fine silver artist mark and hand forged sterling silver pendant bail finish the piece.

Bracelets have become my new favorite things to wear and make!

I purchased these two lovelies from Sea & Sand Designs (floral bracelet) and Lune Designs (plum colored beaded bracelet) for myself sometimes I just have to splurge - and I love supporting the artisans I've come to know. I love these pieces and encourage you to visit their shops for beautiful pieces. AND Keirsten (Lune Designs) has a terrific sense of humor... check out her blog... The Cerebral Dilettante!

I MADE the next few ...

Rose Garden (I never promised you...) was done for a wonderful lady who welcomed me into her project group and became like family to me over the 2 years we worked together. She recently re-evaluated her goals and decided to go back to her love - teaching - and to continue her education to gain her teaching certificate and teach History in Canada. She's a terrific mentor, project leader, and friend and I know that she will bring History to life for the lucky students who get her as a teacher.

The bracelet is made from beautiful rose garden 'chintz' lampwork beads by Bastille Bleu Lampwork. It contains small fine silver lentil beads textured with a carnation texture and made by me. It also contains Swarovski crystals and is held together with a magnetic clasp. I hope she enjoys wearing it as much as I have enjoyed finding just the right beads and creating the piece for her.

Beach Dreamin'... I made this for my god-mother. When I was growing up we use to go to her parents cottage (my great aunt and uncle) and to my other great aunt and uncle's cottage) in York Beach Maine. I LOVE Maine, I love the beaches there - sandy and rocky... COLD... and hot all at the same time.
My god-mother now owns her parents' cottage and has created a beautiful summer home for herself. The focal point of York Beach lies between Long Sand and Short Sand ... "Nubble Light" Light House. This picturesque lighthouse is known by anyone who has gone to York, traveled the Maine coast line or seen a book of light houses. It's picture graces calendars, note cards, and I imagine millions and millions of envelopes, boxes and albums of photos by the people who have visited.

When I think of the beach (besides the sand in your bathing suit that makes you crazy) I think of cozy, relaxing, Martha Steward meets Shabby Chic. And when my friend Nikki of Bastille Bleu Lampwork showed this set of blue chintz beads I immediately thought of the beach cottage. (The fact that I had missed my god-mother's birthday might have helped that thought along but still! it's the thought that counts! ;o) )

The bracelet has Bastille Bleu Lampwork blue chintz beads, a focal bead made by me of fine silver - big hole style with urchin texture created from a texture mold I made of an urchin shell - and green translucent enamel. It also has a sand dollar fine silver lentil bead and a carnation fine silver lentil bead. A fine silver star fish charm w/ green enamel and a sea shell charm also made from fine silver. To memorialize the "Nubble" as us 'locals' call it - I made a line drawing from one of my many photos of the light house, created a PPP (photo polymer plate) and then stamped it onto the clay. I added texture to the area where the rocks are by hand and then fired it. When it was done I tumbled it to bring out the shine and then added Liver of Sulfer to the piece to give it an antique look. I was able to obtain pinks and greens and blues along with the darker normal antique color of LOS. When you look at the charm it looks like the sun is setting an the colors are reflecting off the wet rocks along the base of the light house. I'm very pleased with the effect and the charm as a whole. This bracelet too is finished off with a magnetic closure.

Tweens... in one of my other blogs I asked "what is it with tweens and teenagers and their love of purple?"... I made this Peaceful Purple bracelet for a tween 'belonging' to a co-worker. Her mom said she loved purple and was into peace signs. My initial thought was to make the closure a peace sign but it got a little out of focus as I worked on it and so the peace sign because a charm.

The focal is a lampwork bead pillow by Bastille Bleu Lampwork and the purple dot beads and green spacers are also from hers. The purple spacers are by That Bead Girl and the cute little heart is by Principessa Glass. It has pale blue Czech spacers as well as lavender purple Swarovski beads and olive green pearlized Swarovski pearls.

The chain is a safety precaution in case it unhooks and it also will allow her to wear the bracelet for a long time by moving the hook she uses to close it to one of the jump rings added onto the chain. The s-hook closure is hand forged sterling silver wire. The end caps on the green spacers are fine silver stamped with a carnation floral stamp and dapped to form the slightly domed shape needed to fit over the spacer. I also added a fine silver leaf that has my artist mark on it and the peace sign charm also made from fine silver is the same carnation texture as the leaf and bead caps.

Alicia's Frog...
This little necklace was made for a friend for her August birthday. She loves frogs - yah I don't get it but she does!! AND I happen to have seen a frog bead on Bastille Bleu Lampworks etsy site and knew I had to have it. I created a "A" pendant w/ a fine silver artist mark leaf. The "A" pendant is highlighted w/ LOS patina.

And finally:

Desert Oasis ... this piece was spur of the moment and I LOVE IT!!
A turquoise/teal big hole bead w/ ivoried silver on it from Bastille Bleu Lampwork creates the focal point. Then I've added beautiful mushroom colored lampwork beads w/ silver as well as butter cream lampwork beads also with silver both from Canyon Echoes. The blue spacers are from That Bead Girl and the 8 little white-ish looking beads are river stone. The bracelet started out w/ a magnetic closure but she opted to have an S-hook attachment instead so I removed a couple of the river stone on each side to allow for the piece to close correctly. I adore how this came out and how I was able to "go shopping" in my bead hoard... ahh I mean bead supplies and find pieces from three different artisan's that work together so well in a piece!

ALMOST caught up... more later! :o)

Work-Work takes over...
Ramblings & Musings

OK so - Work-Work (another way of saying the work I do that pays the bills) has taken over. They've changed my role (yep again) and it's still computer based nothing creative so thank goodness for my jewelry obsession... which brings the reason for the big delay in blog posts AND why I'm typing this at 30,000 feet on Delta heading for Lancaster PA.

I have three diseases...

1) ID Disease
2) Promotional Product Disease
3) Jewelry Disease

Strange? Well yes, lest you forget - this is me thinking here!

I walk into the airport and my eyes automatically scan around and notice... TSA people are wearing their IDs on imprinted lanyards, baggage handlers and outside folks are displaying their ID in armband badge holders. Stewardess... ahhh flight attendants rather - are wearing theirs w/ a mix... lanyards, badge reels, beaded lanyards. THAT is ID Disease.

For instance you may not have noticed but - I believe it was Season 2 of "24" (I didn't see Season 1) they all used STRAP CLIPS to display their badges. Season 3 they switched to badge reels... some had translucent blue, others had solid black. Did you know that on "Rock of Love" with Brett Michaels his "VIP pass" that he gave out to the ho.. ummm 'ladies' on the show were 3/8" black break-away lanyards w/ white break-aways and white universal slide attachment holding an NPS swivel hook? I'm tellin ya, it's a freakin disease!! Once you start to work for an "ID" company you develop "ID Disease".

Promotional Product Disease - do YOU notice how many people are wearing 'branded' lanyards? From businesses using them for their employees (this mixes in w/ ID Disease) to bands selling them w/ holders for their show tickets (I guess Brett's budget was to cheap for Rock of Love lanyards!) Then there are the pens, the cups, the travel mugs, the bags. Actually, from where I'm sitting I can see Delta imprinted STYROFOAM CUPS and napkins (upgrades are gooood). I have an ipod w/ our company logo on it... and more bags than you can shake a stick at. This is the disease you get when you work for a promotional products company (and no... these diseases don't go away!)

On to the one that matters most right now... JEWELRY (do you spell it Jewelry or Jewelery???) Disease. Since starting on my journey into precious metal clay 13 months ago - yes it's been over a year now - I've started paying attention to what people are wearing. Sitting in first class is a great way to scope out what's popular, fun or different. (Like I said upgrades are good.) I've notice necklaces are smaller - ladies are wearing petite pendants on their necklaces - although don't get me wrong there was some serious BLING boarding the plane, but for the most part I've noticed a reduction in size on the 'basic' chain & pendant. "Big Hole" bead bracelets are becoming more and more popular with the regular folk. I can't tell a Pandora from a Troll (although in my head when I type troll I'm seeing the creepy little guy that lives under the bridge and bugs the billy goat) so I can't say which they are but it seems more and more folks are sporting big hole bead bracelets... which brings me to the reason that I decided I needed to type about my diseases...

The flight attendant today had on a simple black pleather cord folded in half worn lariat style w/ beads on the ends and little gold stoppers of some sort to keep the beads from falling off. To my bleary eyes (I was trying to nap when she came by and I was able to get a good look) they looked like lampwork. The next time she came by I had to as.. "Lampwork beads?" no - Pandora. Hmmm this made me INSTANTLY think of my friend Audrey at Principessa Glass and the cool new way she's been creating necklaces with big hole beads. (This link goes to her jewelry pieces the other link goes to her lampwork bead store.) Which leads me to think - what other techniques do we automatically think of when creating jewelry that could be done differently?

(The necklace above is by my friend Audrey. I LOVE how she's been using big hole beads lately - it's different and fun and well - see for yourself by clicking here!)

PS... TSA agents in Philadelphia International Airport were sporting Strap Clips today...

(It's a disease!!)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Bracelets & Bling...
July 17, 2010

I have gotten in to the swing of things and started stringing TWO bracelets tonight with another still in the creative mode. I have made silver lentils, silver beads, textured silver discs that I have started dapping into bead caps. I'm having a blast!

Here's a sneak peak...

The bottom one (blue) is right now, my favorite - I was loving the pink til I started the blue!! And then when my new BLING! arrived (swaros... lovely, lovely swaros!) I love these Chintz Lampwork Beads from Bastille Bleu and Swarovski Crystals!! I couldn't resist using the Montana rounds.

I played with the silver tube beads and I just adore the urchin texture and how it came out. I planned to use transparent enamels on that bead so you can see the color, the texture and ... well, I'm just excited!
There are two charms that will be added to this - more later.

The pink one will have the tiny little pink rose as a charm from the closure. I adore the silver lentil bead focal w/ the carnation texture. I can't wait to make more of these little beauties!

While I was working I 'NEEDED' a 5/8" round cutter to complete the sand dollar lentil for the blue bracelet so I ran to Hobby Lobby. MISTAKE! :o) I found some wooden pegs that to me say "LENTIL SHAPER!"
I was so excited. Then I came home and said how in hecks name am I going to keep these upright with two little 4-legged boys who like to "help" and often leap to the top of the studio to sleep on the bed up there?

POLYMER CLAY! Voila - my new Lentil Shaper Peg Caddies! (Isn't it interesting that when I make something from polymer clay that won't be a part of a piece of jewelry I do NOT burn it? ::grumble::)

Wanted to share :o)
Ok... back to the table! :o)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Creativity Flows
July 5, 2010

NOW... creativity is flowing! I've finished the Charms for Charity and become what one of my friends calls a 'bead hoard'. I saw a set created by Bastille Bleu Lampwork Beads and the juices started. It was a blue 'chintz' set that made me think of my grandmother's house, my two great aunt's cottages on the beach in Maine and shabby chic all rolled into one.
I'm pretty bad at remembering people's birthdays... correction - I REMEMBER I just don't always get the gifts/cards, etc out in time and this set made me think of my god mother and the fact that her birthday was in May and yes, I still hadn't sent anything.

She has a cottage in Maine and I thought ohhhh this would be pretty for her! So the ideas started flowing. Definitely a bracelet. I just finished one for a friend to give to her friend and I love how it came out. I need to make more!

Problem! How could there be a problem? Some other lucky soul picked up the Bastille Bleu Lampwork Beads before I did!! Yikes! So I sent a note to Nikki and said - next set has my name on it. She convo'd me back and sight unseen I became the owner of a pink set.

The next day I had hollow form class at the Memphis Botanic Garden with Brandy Boyd (my silver clay deal... ahhh teacher). Instead of the typical class with burn out cores we did lentil beads. How exciting!! I wanted to create a big focal lentil bead and have been thinking about it for months! Now I had a chance to make small ones as a test... AND it clicked something else in me ... HAND MADE SILVER BEADS for the charm bracelet!! Plus... did I mention that she's into antique swarovski beads??? Well, she's got me hooked on those too so I picked up a bunch of square rose swaros, some pretty green and dusty blue bicones and rounds. Woo hoo - creativity flows...

THEN... (you knew there had to be a then right?) my beads came in from Bastille Bleu Lampwork Beads - O M Gosh! they are beautiful! Now I'm on a roll - I read Kate McKinnon's book Sculptural Metal Clay and have come to the conclusion that I HAVE to have a dapping block so that I can make bead caps - yep... bead caps! So off to Harbor Freight I went in search of said dapping block and the metal clay gods were with me... they had two in stock in the store so no waiting for me!

On the way home I swung by BB&B (coffee needed! ;o) ) and Hobby Lobby. Not a safe place either of them but I lucked out and found some AWESOME cutters!!! Larger rounds (they are for biscuits actually!) for my big focal lentil I want to do and some smaller size cutters that will make great shapes for bead caps that I can then carve and add designs to.

I've spent time the past couple of days texturing and cutting pieces of metal clay to be fired into bead caps. I also created a smaller version of my carnation lentil bead to see if it's the correct size for charm bracelets. I also created a little larger one of a sand dollar for the shabby chic bracelet. All that's left now is to fire the pieces "full fire 1650 for 2 hours" as instructed by Kate's book so that I can dome the bead caps with the dapping block.

I know that the beads I've purchased for this bracelet probably will not need (nor work) with bead caps - the cool thing about these beads is they have the bumps on them that people associate with lamp work beads but the location are around the holes in the beads leaving the center decoration visible and lovely! :o) BUT I'll need them for another project also floating around my head! :o)

OK, enough yapping, I'm off to fire the caps and lentils!
Have a great week!!

PS... look at some of the beads I've scored over the past few months... now you'll understand why my friends call me a 'bead hoard'. (These are only the ones I've shot... "Hi my name is Cindy and I'm a bead addict"

Charms for Charity Done
Tickets Still Available - July 5, 2010

My Charms for Charity have been shipped... the hope is that they actually DO hit the PO Box they were sent to tomorrow as expected. The charm bracelet making party at Gage Design is tomorrow (6th) and I hope mine make it there in time.

Some where along the line I thought I read that a 'description' card w/ picture and name to help people identify the charms was required so I made these - I like how they came out so I'm posting them here ... the pics are a bit better than the ones I posted earlier.

This shows the first design with a bit of the second design added in. If you recall the ribbon was going to be plain silver. But you know me.. pretty things that are repeatable must be repeated! LOL So when I saw how lovely the hammered flake and the aquamarine translucent enamel looked I had to use it on these too. I sent 2 of this design in for the bracelets.

This one is the second design. Without the birth stones you can see the words clearer. I really liked how the enamel worked and I expect to do more of it in the near future! (IF ONLY the garage wasn't as hot as it is! ;o) Nothing like running a kiln in a 90 garage!!)

Now that the charms have shipped I simply have to finish selling some more tickets - $5 each or 5 for $20 people! ALL the money goes to the charity of your choice (The American Cancer Society or the Marrow Foundation) AND you get a chance to win a bracelet that has to be worth over $500!! Imagine owning a bracelet with a charm created by some of the best metal artists in the world!! I'm so excited to have a chance for my charms to be included with these great artisans!! You can bet I'm buying a bunch of tickets for me!!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Charms for Charity... Part Deux!


(The good thing is, the charms look better than these not so great pics. I need to ship them on Wednesday and I'm going to try and re-shoot in the a.m. when I'm a little more alert.)


PMC3 - Heart w/ Ribbon, Enamel, plus. I created two PPPs (Photo Polymer Plates) for these charms. The first was the base - the heart with the words in it and the second was the ribbon to go on top. The loop of ribbon forms the area for the jump ring to attach. The FIRST design (as shown on the previous post) was to have the ribbon all silver w/ words imprinted into the heart and birthstones: moon stone for a friend who is winning the battle w/ cancer and aquamarine for my great aunt who sadly lost her battle with cancer.

THEN I started working...
What looks great on paper didn't work so well in clay ... only because I don't feel you can see the words well enough with the birthstones added. SOOO... I adjusted. I added some flake (which I tapped down a bit) on one side of the ribbon to represent "moon stone" and then I added translucent enamel on the other half to represent aquamarine.


The enamel worked like a charm. I have to thank Pam East for her book "Enameling on Metal Clay"! I used it like a recipe book the whole way thru! While doing this I learned that when using the green glasses you aren't looking for COLOR so much as the look of the glass... granulated, orange peel, smooth. It was amazing that I could see the differences in the enamel as it heated. EVEN WITH my lousy eyes!! I have to say though that I FREAKED OUT... When I pulled the first charm off the Ultralite and took the glasses off I saw that the enamel looked LIGHT GREEN NOT LIGHT BLUE! OMG! What the heck?? Then POOF! the Enamel gods heard my dismay and as they cooled, the blue appeared! :o)


I used a fine brush and added some LOS to the words that were imprinted in the hearts. The LOS spread a little more than I wanted... so I did something I wasn't sure I should, I re-tumbled them for about 30 minutes. My hope was that the LOS would come off a bit and that the enamel would NOT scratch. Luck of the charm gods were with me!! Everything came out of the tumbler OK!

All-In-All I'm very excited about the charms. I'm going to send all 7 to Holly and let her decide if she needs/wants the two w/ the stones in them. They aren't perfect, but they are pretty and who knows she may need 2 extras! I know these aren't the professional style, look and technique/quality of many of the other artists, but they represent my design, my friend, my great-aunt, me and my love of this cause!

My charms need to be in by July 6 but I still have tickets available and can sell them thru the 20th (need a couple days to get the money and tickets in before the conference) if you want tickets - please let me know!! :o)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Charms for Charity
May 23, 2010

I'm excited to be participating in the 2010 Charms for Charity this year. Metal Clay artists gather to create charms and charm bracelets to be raffled with donations going to the American Cancer Society and The Marrow Foundation.

A little back ground - here's the press release:

Jewelry Artists Charming Their Way to the Cure

In memory of one of their own felled by cancer, jewelry artists who work with Precious Metal Clay and Art Clay Silver have banded together for the second biennial fundraiser for cancer research, Charms for Charity.

Inspired by metal clay artist Robin Whitmore’s uplifting spirit and love of life, the entire community of metal clay artists has banded together to raise money by doing what they do best, making jewelry.

Robin died in 2007 after a courageous battle with cancer, leaving a legacy of courage and charity among her friends and colleagues. Now Metal Clay artists from around the country have decided to honor Robin and their own loved ones who have succumbed to this disease by raising funds to benefit The American Cancer Society and The Marrow Foundation. Individuals and local guilds are donating charms or complete bracelets to be raffled off.

The bracelets will be raffled off at the Precious Metal Clay (PMC) Conference in Perdue, IN, July 30, 2010, but raffle ticket holders do not need to be present to win.

This year, the metal clay artists hope to top the 2008 Charms for Charity donation of $12,270. Raffle tickets are $5.00 each or 5 for $20.00, and multiple winners will receive a sterling silver bracelet with many beautifully crafted charms made by artists from all over the world.

All checks will be made out directly to the organization, either The American Cancer Society or The Marrow Foundation.

Each ticket purchased brings with it the chance for a special piece of fine jewelry but it also brings us one step closer to a cure.

Bracelets & Charms...
The image of the bracelet is only one of many bracelets to be made. With so many charms coming in from so many different artist is it likely that there will be almost no two bracelets alike! :o)

I'm working on a charm that will be in remembrance of my Aunt Rita who passed away after her own struggle with Bone Cancer and in honor of my friend and co-worker Bryan who is currently fighting his own battle.

My hope is that the charms will come out as designed - I'll be working on them during the month of June so cross your fingers.

Any of you who are interested in buying tickets for the raffle can contact me!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Fire in the Hole!
New Paragon SC2 Kiln & Copper

At the beginning of March I decided I WAS going to take the next step in my obsession with metal clay and get a larger kiln. I love my Ultra Lite but it's to small to do anything larger than 2.5" diameter AND I can't do copper in it. SO at the end of March I ordered a Paragon SC2 kiln from Paragon rep Pam East.

How excited was I when less than two weeks later my new kiln arrived? :o) VERY! BUT... fear of the next step creeped in and it took me three weeks to open the box and 2 more weeks to fire it for the first time.

Here's my set-up.
Cleared out the rest of my garage corner and set up a 6' work station for "Blue" (my appropriately named SC2) and my enamel station. It's a bit "hoopty-bo-bo" but it works! Supplies - 1 - metal file cabinet, 1 - 16" x 16" x 2" cement stepping stone, 2 - 18" x 18" x 1/2" Travertine Tiles, 1 6' x 16" heavy-duty metal closet shelf, 5 - 12" x 12" x 1/4" Pinkish Marble Tiles. These, all combined together = one heck of a cool work area. :o) (I also borrow a corner of it to hold my light cube when taking photos... but I'm working on a new area for that.)

TONIGHT I fired up "Blue" for the first time. Did a pre-fire to get all the dust out and burn off any residue from my kiln furniture. Followed the great instructions that Pam sent with the purchase of my new kiln - much easier to understand than the garbly-goop that came w/ the kiln. Successful pre-fire! And yes dad, I had an extinguisher and my cell phone handy! :o)

THEN I heated it up to 1780 because I had a pair of copper earrings waiting to be fired. Of course, they've been waiting to be fired for 2 1/2 months. I purposely created them so that I would HAVE to get over the fear of first fire of "Blue" in order to get them done. They were too big torch fire! I had also done some quickie copper earring pieces from a mold I have so that I could test 'face up, face down' of firing Art Clay Copper on a shelf. See in my head I wondered - if I put it face down will it oxidize LESS or should it be face up.

I positioned the pieces on my small kiln shelf that came with "Blue" (the big one was already in and sitting on 1/2" stilts to allow for air flow and there were 2" stilts laying on their side to make them 1" above the floor waiting for the copper filled shelf to be placed on them) and waited for it to get up to 1780.

Note: I had a copper pod go to pieces after being fired for 30 mins in carbon and then picked, tumbled and refired w/ a torch to fix an 'issue'. I emailed Pam and told her exactly what had been done and asked for help and her recommendation was - if it's fired in carbon it needs to be fired for 3 1/2 hours. If it's done on the shelf - which she recommends for Art Clay Copper it's 30 mins at 1780, direct on the shelf. SO those are the directions I followed.

The kiln hit 1780 and I was ready. I picked up the shelf in some tongs opened the door, slid the shelf in - DANG 1780 is hot! - and then quickly closed the door. I wasn't that quick because it took approx 3 1/2 mins to get back up to 1780. Then the fun started... the binder started to burn off like it does normally - little flame... BUT the cool thing was (and I didn't know this so no pic) because there is limited oxygen the smoke that results swirls and twirls and looks so totally cool in the kiln (Love my window!). Then we wait. (NOTE: Pic is actually "Blue" cooling down after firing.)

30 mins later the kiln starts to beep and it's done. NOW... instructions are - pull the pieces out and immediately put into cold water to get as little oxidation on the pieces as possible and the cold water would help pop what oxidation did form off. WELLL... I didn't realize that the pieces may 'stick' to the shelf. So as I pull the shelf out and tip it over, nothing is falling out so what do I do?
I stuff the whole shelf upside down into the water ... bye, bye shelf! LOL! I had fire paper and why I did not use it I am not sure but next time, to be sure I will!!! (Pic is the remnants of the shelf. Kind of interesting. The pieces that came out had some areas of 'thick' oxidation. But the pieces that 'stuck' left that thick layer behind on the shelf.)

It sounded like pop corn as the oxidized copper popped off the pieces in the water bowl. Here's the results after I pulled them out of the water... Here's a pic of the pieces immediately out of the water.

The right pic shows the four pieces for the 'face-down, face-up' test. Unfortunately I forgot to pay attention to which was which but... here's my guess... the pair on the left were face up - and the back (shown on the lower left) was on the shelf and that is what stuck. The others.. the back (shown lower right) were probably up in the air and the oxidation is still there because there was nothing for it to stick to.

The left photo here show the back and the front of the larger earrings that have been very patiently waiting for a firing. These were put face down on the shelf BUT the design is raised. I used a stencil of a vine and used copper slip to fill in the stencil so that it is raised off the earrings. Because of this piece would not lay flat on the shelf which is PROBABLY why the oxidation did not stick to the shelf. BUT... I like it on this pair. We'll see how much comes off in pickling.

Right now, the pieces are in the pickle. NOTE... I have been using Silver Prep from Cool Tools to clean silver and copper... I recently bought the natural "Pickle It" recently released by Metal Clay Supply and not very excited about it. I ended up adding some Silver Prep to it and it's working much faster now. Maybe going back to my Silver Prep for future orders.

Cross fingers that the cleaning goes well because I have got some GLORIOUS Lampwork Beads from Bastille Bleu Lampwork Beads that will be used on the larger pair and some really sweet little natural beads for the little pieces.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Here's to healthy boobies!!
May 3, 2010

My creatively funny friend and oooh so terrific artisan Keirsten from the Cerebral Dilettante blog is having a give-away this week! In honor of her first ever mamogram and the "all clear" results she received, she is giving a way a gorgeous pair of hand crafted earrings.

Folks - if you haven't seen her Etsy shop - GO! Run don't walk. Go straight to her etsy site... her pieces are gorgeous. I have a number of favs and bought myself a pretty necklace and earrings w/ gift money from one of my relatives!! Happy Birthday to me!!

You can get in on her simple give-away by going to THIS link:

Don't forget to visit her shop - oh and bookmark the blog - she's seriously funny - some days I find my self honestly laughing out loud to the point of running to the bathroom - yep, some days she's THAT funny! :o)

Happy shopping!! :o)
Cin ~

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Nervous Adventures in
Copper & Lampwork Beads
April 16, 2010

Greetings friends!!

Welcome to my nervous adventures in Copper and Lampwork Beads! I have already admitted my newly acquired addiction to beads... no, not just any beads but HAND-CRAFTED, Made in the USA, Lampwork beads. And not just any - I get mine from some very talented deale... ahhh artisans!

One of these is Canyon Echos - I purchased a couple of sets from her, the first being Desert Dreams. I'm sooo nervous about using these beads! They are so pretty - and professional and... oi! OK so, I saw this set and even though it has silver in it, I thought COPPER! For some reason I kept seeing wood when I look at these organic matte beads. That led me to thinking about bark... branches... you know - wood.

I pulled out my design book back in Feb and kept doodling a bail that is based on a tutorial by Deb Fitz of Paradise Cove. Except my bail kept turning into a piece of wood. Like a cut down branch w/ a thin branch still attached and swirling around to encompass the focal bead.

I have also fallen in love with Viking Knit Chain - and I learned to do this (thanks to one of my other deal... ahh enabler... ahhh artisans Nikki at Bastille Bleu). I kept seeing my chunky bail sliding on the viking knit chain.

That meant I needed end caps to finish off the chain and lead to the rest of my pretty Desert Dreams beads. Finish that off with a copper closure and POOF you have my first 'real' piece of creativity.

I used Art Clay Copper to create the branch, endcaps, and closure pieces. I crafted them and added the texture by hand before they dried. I feel more comfortable right now creating the texture of the bark when the pieces are wet rather than carving when they are dry. I fired the pieces w/ a butane torch, pickled and then tumbled them.

One of my evenings watching Project Runway I wove the Viking Knit chain. I love this chain. I love the fact that you start w/ a dowel and wire and end up with this smooth, silky feeling chain! And depending on how 'thick' you like it you can practically make it fit whatever need you have.

My hope is that the artisan of the Desert Dream bead set approves of the design and craftsmanship of the piece. Did I mention I was nervous? :o)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Blogging at 30,000 feet or...
"Caution... The moving walkway is ending"
March 21, 2010

(started while at 30,000 ft on 3/8 - posted from Cincinnati International Airport 3/21)

OK so maybe not REAL TIME blogging but that's only because the little teeny-tiny plane they rebooked me on this morning doesn't have wifi. Honestly, it's so small I think that there are chipmunks in the bottom of it running and running on a treadmill to keep us in the air!

ANYWAY... it's been a long time and of course I didn't recheck my posts last night to see where I was so - here goes an attempt to catch up.

Copper & Silver...
I love precious metal silver clay. I have now used two types - Art Clay Silver (ACS) and Precious Metal Clay Silver (PMC+). I enjoy the shrinkage rate of the ACS - I find the PMC+ shrinks a little more BUT I enjoy the texture and pliability of the PMC+ when it comes out of the package.

I love the IDEA of quick-fire Copper Clay. I've only tried the Art Clay Copper (ACC) because it's the only one on the market right now that I can fire with a torch. My Ultralite kiln is to low a temp to fire the copper - and regular copper (those released before the December 2, 2009 launch of ACC) require a stainless steel container, charcoal, and a bunch of special things that just won't work in my baby Ultralite.

Combining the two.
I have tried (and you've seen the results if you are one of my 3 followers ;o) ) to combine silver and copper. First try was abysmal to say the least. It's the "Canyons on a Heart" piece that yes, I'm still working on. I made a mold and created the canyon without giving much thought to how it would 'connect' to the silver heart. needless to say, not such a good go-round.

I then tried to connect copper clay piece w/ a hole in the center to a silver piece using the silver clay as a "rivet" to hold them together. 1/2 Success here. I say half because I created two pieces. One I 'forgot' to put the copper piece (it's actually the Pug Paws piece previously posted) onto the silver piece before I dried the silver one. This meant I had to create the rivet by smushing silver clay into the hole in the copper, getting a good contact on to the silver piece on the back and making sure there was enough of a head on the front of the copper to keep it from shrinking up and sliding out the hole in the copper. The second piece I "remember" and smushed (note the technical terms used here) the finished copper paw onto the still wet silver paw. The clay came up through the hole, creating a rivet, and the silver was almost acting like a bezel around the edges of the paw. - OR SO I THOUGHT.

The "forgot" piece worked beautifully. The silver reduced, sintered and formed a pretty secure rivet (hoping my god-child Mary doesn't yank on it to test it). The "remembered" piece was a failure. The rivet snapped when I handled it. The silver had struggled to reduce in size around the copper paw and had done the only thing it could do ... bend backward and get all misshapen. Lesson learned.

I posted my findings and honestly - until I started typing about what happened I had no idea WHY the "remembered" piece had problems. It was as I described it that I realize it shrank away from the copper. However, my loyal Facebook "Art Clay Friends" (more aptly called gifts from the creative god mentors) gave me feedback. Gordon U... advised - "create the copper and let it lead the piece". So back to trying again.

My next test was to go back to the "Canyons on a Heart" piece. This time I worked it out step by step, created the canyon piece with a 'rivet-like' tack on the back of it. The thought was the tack and canyon form one piece. The silver heart is made and shaped AROUND the tack piece. The canyon sits on top of the heart and the cap (or top of the rivet) is on the other side of the silver holding the whole rivet together.

I used ACC and PMC+. I was thinking if I got lucky I could position the fired canyon tack so that there is enough edging of silver around the base and sides of it so that when the silver reduces it will end up with the canyon sitting right where it needs to be - even on the two sides and bottom of the silver heart.

SUCCESS! Well, partial. I can't call it total success because the tack is a little long and the piece doesn't sit perfectly together. It's a bit loose and a little uneven but I'm thinking that if it's sintered properly and not over fired I may be able to hammer it a tad to get the rivet to push down a bit onto itself and form a tighter bond.

To be continued...

Precious Metal Clay Class...

Although I've been addicted to Silver Clay since August of 2009 I have not taken a complete silver clay class. I've had a "how to make a mold" and then create a silver clay piece from that mold class, I've had a paint silver clay "slip" onto a dried cork clay form and create a hollow vessel and beads when they are fired in the kiln class. And I've taken a couple of enameling classes. But no straight from the hip "intro to silver clay" class.

SO - in February Brandy Boyd (aka the silver clay dealer to my addiction) had a beginners class. What fun! I felt good because I had learned quite a bit of what she taught on my own from reading, searching, and just taking a leap to try... but I also learned how to put texture on front and back of a piece (sounds easy but I was just plain doing it wrong!) and I saw how the heat and humidity in a room can change how Liver of Sulfur (LOS) works to patina a silver piece. We had colors I had never seen before - pinks and greens and gorgeous almost turquoise blue! A couple of new comers to the class said, "hmmm don't really like that pink and turquoise, I think I'll remove it all" and it was all I could do not to cry. But I had to forgive them didn't I? After all it was their first time and they simply "didn't understand". :o)

I lucked out and found a cute mold that went along with a vintage piece I had made a mold of in my very first class with Brandy. It is a pretty little piece and she molded well AND I got a pretty decent texture on the back of her (a test). I added a teeeny-tiny little CZ to the very bottom of the piece (I think I could have gone bigger but the teeeny-tiny one looked cute) that hardly shows. My inital thought was that she was going to go on a silver chain w/ pink stones wired to the chain. But my chain skills are not where they need to be and my idea was bigger than my capabilities.

So instead I used some beads I'd bought at the bead shop that we had the class in and tossed in some clear / silver beads I had and created a piece that looks pretty sweet. The picture doesn't show it well enough, but the patina is actually bluer in person and goes well with the blue beads.

Metal Clay Class Missed...
the last weekend of February was supposed to be the class that started my desire to learn more about this craft. Last year in early summer I had seen a class listing on the Memphis Botanic Garden website for making a silver leaf. I had NO IDEA what the product was but - ever distracted by bright, shiny objects - I wanted to take the class because the leaf was pretty!

As luck would have it, I had to go to Boston the week before and was unable to make it back in time for class. BUT - here it was - being repeated in February! woo hoo!

Not so much. I had visitors from the Boston area that weekend and unfortunately one of them has an attention span issue and LOL she wasn't up for sitting through a 6 hour class painting silver clay slip on a leaf and drying it between each layer! ;o) Obviously, although we are sisters, my idea of fun and her idea of fun are on far different edges of the 'fun' spectrum!

SO... instead, because I knew HOW to do it, I just had never actually done it. I stopped in and picked up a couple neat leafs from the class along with Brandy's very descriptive directions and proceeded to do four of them on my own that evening. The results are below...

Back paint vs. Front paint...
Brandy's instructions and other instructions I had seen online and in books & magazines stated to paint the silver clay "slip" onto the BACK of the leaf. Well Two of the leafs I had were cool looking on the front! Why can't I do it on the front? Hmmm. So I decided to try. first one was I THINK a plumeria leaf. It was lumpy and bumpy but not hairy. I thought hmmmm I have transparent enamels on the way and this leaf could be cool w/ enamel in the recesses if I painted it on the front. SO I tried. After about 6 layers the leaf had dried and silently fell off the silver! OH NO!! so I carefully continued the layering process until I had reached about 17. Now, the good thing about this is I was able to see what most people can't see until they fire the piece - what the front would look like. AND I was able to add a little clear CZ and stem design squiggle to the front of the leaf before firing.

The second piece did the same thing - the leaf fell off at about the 6th layer. I carefully did as I had done for the other and completed all 17 layers and then decided to add a red CZ to the front of this one and a curly stem on the back to act as a kind of bail.

The third leaf I did on the back and that piece stayed with the leaf til the firing process where it burned off, and the fourth piece was actually a piece of fungus I had pulled off a log in my back yard. That one - because it was not dry - had a very faint texture. The texture portion, when painted w/ slip became the inside of what looks like an oyster! (Funny thing, someone told me it's "oyster fungus" so maybe that's why it looks like an oyster!) Because I like the way it looked and the blue/grey of the patina added, I adorned it with a little faux pearl and it became a charm as did the third leave that I painted the back of. I'm excited that this is one piece I'm going to keep as my own and keep adding little 'charms' to it as I learn and grow in this wonderful medium.

OH OH - "at this time the use of any electronic equipment must be discontinued as we begin our decent into the Boston Area"... more later!!