Saturday, February 19, 2011

More Pics from My Enamel Vacation...

More photos from my vacation... :o)

First - fine silver pieces created - then the enameling starts. The last pic there... that's my teacher and new friend Pam... watching her work was inspirational.

John C Campbell Folk School...

(Left) View from my dorm;

(Right) Some of the studios (the enamel area is building on left);

Enamel Bead Class...

Friday, February 18, 2011

"Bits 'n Pieces" Branching out!

Recently I noticed a number of jewelry friends buying ceramic buttons to use in their jewelry pieces. (Heck I even bought some from Winchell Clayworks in Maine... ok so maybe I bought them at first because she's from Maine and I love Maine but ... YOU should buy them because HER PIECES ARE DELISH!!)

Ooops I digress...

So I asked one of these terrifically artistic gals what she thought about fine silver, bronze and copper buttons - her words were something along the lines of... "you make them - they will come". It sounded promising. Here's my problem... since I started with my metal clay obsession, folks have asked me "do you have a store?", "do you sell your pieces?" ... my answer was always "No." See, the reason for this is... ::deep breath:: I'm afraid of a number of things - that people don't really like them, that they won't sell and that it will become work ... and this isn't work it's FUN... this is my hobby. (Read between the lines people... I'm a chicken.) I do love making 'components' I use to make the jewelry pieces - almost more than creating the pieces. I love making pieces for people - having a person to create for, knowing that person and making a piece that is totally special and customized for them - but I also like process of making the pieces I use to build the jewelry piece from!

So I decided to take a slow ambling walk toward selling pieces. I thought - let's create some components... some "Bits 'n Pieces" and see how it works. I started the process (sloooowwwwllllyy because ... yup - you know it - I'm a big ole chicken - have I mentioned I LOVE roasted chicken? ;o) and this was a big step) ... I created a FB fan page calDESIGN Naturals an etsy shop, a new banner - NOTICE THE NEW BANNER ON THIS BLOG??. I started putting all my ducks in a row and then I got a little push - my friend Johanna from Canyon Echoes found my etsy site and every so often would send cryptic notes like... "that should be in your shop" or "still empty" LOL her support made me laugh and kept me going. Then another friend Audrey from Principessa Glass found my FB page "found ya" and had a request - make her a pair of heart dangles that she can make earrings from. That was the final push.

Introducing... calDESIGN Naturals "Bits 'n Pieces" -

I started with 2 pair of heart dangles - one flat, one slightly domed, a flat heart pendant dangle and 2 pair of "buttons". All in fine silver (.999) and all scooped up in the first day! OMG - thank you my friends for making me feel welcome! Audrey reserved both pair of dangles and the pendant and two other friends (yes Johanna was one) scooped up a pair of square fine silver textured buttons w/2 holes and a pair of leaf-shaped fine silver textured buttons w/ 2 holes.

After an offer from Canyon Echoes to add my etsy site to her monthly email newsletter I loaded 10 pair of bronze "buttons". These buttons are fantastic! The torch-applied patina is incredible. Square, round, triangular, diamond, rounded triangular...2 and 3 holes ... textured on one side, flat on the other - these "buttons" are fun!!! Average size is approx 5/8" to 3/4". Textures include wood grain, sea foam, floral, flourishes, and more! Such fun to make!!! All have been tumbled for 8 hours to ensure they are work hardened.

It's been a fun trip into the wonderful world of selling what you create - I've had an order for more hearts and have fine silver (.999) and bronze drying as I type. :o) I can't thank my friends enough for the support - from answering 1001 questions to providing moral support to actually purchasing my little "Bits 'n Pieces" and requesting more - I love them and THANK YOU!!! :o) (These earrings are the first pieces made with any of my "Bits 'n Pieces" - Audrey made them for herself - she shined them up a little to knock down some of the patina so they would show a little brighter with her dark hair. LOVE these little babies!!:o) )

Next post - Color Combo Challenge... creating pieces "just because" instead of for someone. It's pushed me to just make and I'm really enjoying it. Come back to see more! :o)

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.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Bronze! I. Love. Bronze!

I love bronze - oh wait, I already said that... but I want to scream it!! It's tough... it takes the not so delicate handling I give it and says "HA! I'll take that and more!" and I love it for that!! The clay works much like silver and copper it's just that it has a different firing method. And the new Prometheus bronze is a shorter firing time (perfect for my muffle kiln) and thanks to a wonderful artist from France - Sabine Alienor - I have been able to get fantastic results with firing using her technique. I have not had any failures in firing the bronze and whether it's simply brushed or tumbled it comes out fantastic. And... can it receive a patina! (I know - it sounded like a question but heck no! It was a statement for sure... It CAN take a patina!) I've used both liquid LOS patina as well as torch applied patina - o m g. The torch applied is my favorite the colors are incredible.

Here are some examples - the earrings you've seen before ...
the bronze holds a terrific texture and plain old squares can be hammered to form hand-forged texture.

My favorite earrings lately are the pair on the left - a delicate floral carnation texture, slightly domed leaf shape dangle on hand-forged vintage bronze ear wires. Peace Stones add a touch of organic color.

The other pair are hand-forged square bronze dangles with turquoise rondelles. Paired with vintage bronze ear wires and coils. Very light, very pretty!!

Cinderella's Pendant...

This piece I adore. I found a little skeleton key with lock in a scrap book store and thought - that looks like a pendant. Like a Cinderella carriage. I molded the lock plate and covered the key-hole area with polymer clay to make a bezel-like area in the pendant. The cabachon is ... polymer clay! Yes I actually made a piece from polymer clay that did not burn on me! The colors came out fabulous but I have to admit - I cheated... I used glossy coating vs all the hours of sanding that my friend Lisa does to get a coating free shine like this.

Below the Cinderella Pendant hangs a bronze key with a Principessa Glass lamp work heart and finishes with a Swarovski Crystal fringe in colors from the cab. The key is made from bronze and is cold connected to the lamp work heart. The cabachon was created to work with this heart! I had so much fun making this necklace. There are two Vintage Aspirin Peridot AB Swarovski Crystals and two small bronze colored lamp work spacers by That Bead Girl. The piece is completed with a hand-dyed silk cord in the PERFECT color by Jamn Glass and a hand-forged bronze "S" hook with another That Bead Girl spacer.

(I made the "S" hook a little on the large size so that it will help keep the necklace centered while wearing.)

I love this pretty necklace. It's approx 22" long.

Serenity Prayer Pendant...
While at Pam East's I found a secret for easily and efficiently cleaning a Photo Polymer Plate (PPP) and let me tell you it works!! I created this Serenity Prayer pendant using a PPP that was created from a design I did on the computer and transfered to the plate and then used like a stamp with the bronze clay.

It worked very nicely. I used some liquid LOS patina to darken up the words a little and then hit it with a torch to bring up some torch-fired patina colors. It hangs on a brown leather cord that knots in the back. It's a fabulous little piece - approx 1 1/4" diameter.

Double Heart Bracelet...

This bracelet is light and very comfortable to wear. The focal is formed with double hearts stacked on a diamond base. The hearts were wire brushed to bring up some shine while the base was left to provide a contrast. I combined the patina'd diamond shape bronze components with hand-made bronze coiled beads and Olive Jade rondelles. The piece comes together with brown suede cord and hand-forged bronze hook. The Olive Jade rondelles are very understated on their own but when combined with the leather, wire work and bronze they pop.

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.

Earrings and Christmas!!

December was a carry over of craziness from November. Conference in San Francisco - return on Thursday - Friday off, Silver Clay class on Saturday, and then to the airport again on Sunday headed for Boston for work and a surprise 95th Birthday party for my great uncle. I was away for another week and a half and started to have withdrawals after all the wonderful fun on vacation.

When Creativity time is minimal what do you do? I decided to make earrings! What better chance to take out some aggravation than hammering wire!! Enjoy!!

A = Made from Sterling Silver hand-forged paddle wires, Purple Spacer Lampwork Beads from That Bead Girl and coiled sterling silver wire - on Sterling Silver Ear Hooks.

B = Made from Sterling Silver hand-forged paddle wires, Green Spacer Lampwork Beads from That Bead Girl and Fine Silver (.999) bead caps - on Sterling Silver Ear Hooks.

C = Made from Sterling Silver hand-forged paddle wires, Blue Translucent Lampwork Beads w/ fine silver by Canyon Echoes and Metalic Blue Lampwork Spacer Beads by That Bead Girl and fine silver (.999) bead caps - on Sterling Silver Ear Hooks.
(These are special for my fav Postal Lady! She takes great care of my incoming beads!!! AND my outgoing packages!!!)

D = Made from Red Spacer Beads by That Bead Girl and fine silver (.999) bead caps - on Sterling Silver Ear Hooks.

Red & Gold "Bead of the Month"
Bead of the month club! That Bead Girl has this and each month it's like a mini little Christmas. I got these a month or so ago - and thought they screamed Earrings!

Made from - Brass, hand-forged wire with brass coils. Dark Red Lampwork Beads w/ Gold Foil on the top beads. Gold spacer bead. Made the wires from Gold-Plated head pins and the worked beautifully.

Lampwork and Sterling
These were the first pair I played with! Took me 4 tries to get the darn hole maker to make the hole in the right place. ::sigh:: of course it was user error vs mechanical error.

Made on Sterling Silver hand-forged paddles with sterling wrap. The pinkish clear spacers are by Firebabies Lampwork and the beautiful center beads are Pinkish-hued Lampwork Beads with fine silver by Canyon Echoes. I love this combo!! They hang on Sterling Ear Hooks.

Ahhh Swarovski Crystals!
How did I get sucked into loving those? THESE beauties are vintage Swaros that I got from Brandy and are paired with a pair of pretty purple bicone Lampwork Beads by Bastille Bleu. Sadly I am having problems catching this purple color correctly. Hang on Sterling Silver wire and Earring Hooks.

Lampwork & Sterling
These earrings were fun - last pair I made and enjoyed making the coiled wire.

Made from - Sterling, hand-forged paddles, gorgeous lamp work beads from That Bead Girl (the color is actually achieved from putting copper on the beads while making them!! Cool huh?), sterling silver coils and silver spacer beads. Hung on Sterling Silver ear wires.

Meteors & Copper
I LOVE THESE EARRINGS! I couldn't resist these lamp work beads when I saw them on That Bead Girls site one day. I had NO idea what I'd do with them. Then poking around while making the earrings I thought - YES!! Try them.

Made from - Copper hand-forged paddles with copper coils and antiqued copper coiled spacers (did not make but love). They hang from rose-gold ear wires which looks perfect with copper but won't turn ears green! :o) I need to make more of these - have an idea for different style - combining a style I learned at The Lancaster Bead Company in Lancaster PA w/ these beads. Yep, got to make more!

Green & Brass
These beads are STUNNING and I had to put them with brass - the goldish hue with the green is gorgeous.

Made on hand-forged brass wire paddles with brass coils and small gold beads. The Green lamp work beads are by That Bead Girl. I made the ear wires from gold plated head pins and poof they worked perfectly.

Here are some additional earrings that I've made over the past few months... copper and bronze - OMG I LOVE BRONZE!! Next post will be about bronze!!

Copper Fern Gully - Copper diamond-shaped dangles with vine design and black alcohol ink. The lamp work beads are by Bastille Bleu Lampwork. I use rose-gold filled ear wires with copper so that they don't cause your ears to be green and the rose-gold blends in perfectly.

Copper - Art Deco Earrings with lamp work beads by Bastille Bleu Lampwork. Copper chain with slight patina and rose-gold filled ear wires.

Bronze (!) Turquoise Squares - created from Prometheus Bronze clay in the same manner as silver clay or copper clay - just has a different firing time. I love this product the color is fantastic, it's easy to use and not complicated to fire. Hand-forged ear wires and coils from antique bronze wire.

I wear these often! Bronze leaf shape is probably 2" on it's own! Textured in a delicate floral (carnation) texture. Hand-forged ear wire with Peace Stone and antique bronze wire.

I was lucky enough to pull my new Sister-In-Law's name in the gift grab and that meant silver jewelry! She asked for something specially for her - and knowing she loves bling I used clear czs in this Pendant/Earring set.

Fine silver (.999) is combined with the clear czs. They were hand patina'd to bring out the detail of the textured areas and tumbled for approx 4 hours to bring out the high shine. They hang from sterling silver wires. The pendant hangs from a sterling silver chain with a Swarovski crystal just above the focal.

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.

Enamel Vacation!

November was a little crazy for me - I did something I've not done in probably 10 years. I went on vacation. Yes, a real vacation - not a vacation where I am traveling for work and go visit my family. A vacation where I did NOT even bring my work laptop with me! It. Was. FANTASTIC.

I traveled to Pam East's GA studio and took one of the most fantastic silver clay classes ever. Champleve Enameling on Silver Clay. The most important thing I learned was do not worry and take your time - there is a lot to be said about the actual finishing of a project. Pam taught 4 of us the ins and outs of silver clay in this two day class helping us open up to having no fear and creating beautiful pieces. We created pieces specifically for Champleve Enameling process. And the second day we enameled. What a blast - completely relaxing, you get into a zone and the pieces seemed to flow. I learned to build the enamel layer by layer creating the shading as you go. And then the finishing - how much I learned about this. When we were done you could run your finger across the top of our Champleve pieces and it felt like they had a layer of smooth, glossy varnish over it - but it was just the finely ground, smooth, beautifully finished silver and enamel. No edges, just smooth. I learned so much!

The second piece we did was at our request - she had a beautiful piece that had what we came to call a "river" of enamel flowing thru it. The silver piece was textured but the "river" was smooth and stood out from the texture. She showed us how and we had a couple of rivers and one heart from this project. I love my little heart on the rounded triangle shaped pendant. (So much that I bought a template of the rounded triangular shape to use at home.) On this piece we didn't carefully grind the enamel down because of the texture but what we did do was add patina using real liver of sulfur - something I had never used before. I have only used the gel form. I was / am very pleased with the colors I got that evening.

Those were two incredible days! Well... that wasn't the end of my vacation - ohhh no! I had found out that after our class Pam was headed to the John C Campbell Folk School in North Carolina - just over the border. So when I found out it was only a 2 hour drive from North Atlanta I signed up. I took Thursday off and relaxed and then checked out of the Hilton and headed north on Friday. The John C Campbell Folk School is an experience in itself. It's a little mini community a campus of buildings comprised of studios and living space. It was fantastic. You share a house (and sometimes a room - I did) with people you probably have never met before. You walk to the main building(s) for meals and gatherings, you walk to the studios for class and let me tell you - the classroom we had was fantastic.

Pam taught Enamel Bead class to 6 of us. Crafty ladies with differing levels of skill but none of us having had real hands-on large head torch experience before so it was great we all learned. I made over 60 beads in 2 days and was crazy happy with the techniques we learned. It wasn't a "making a finished piece of jewelery" class it was a "learning techniques" class. At the end of the weekend Pam gave us the opportunity to purchase our torch heads and other equipment. I came home from that week with the best new tools, techniques and FRIENDS!

OH speaking of new friends - you need to check out these gourd pieces... I met Judy Zeigler of Art of Critter Ridge at JCC in Pam's class. She was there to learn to make the beads to add to her beautiful gourds. I was so impressed I purchased this turquoise colored gourd and it sits proudly in my studio. She hand coils, paints and the inside is lined with hand-crafted papers. Check her out on FB!!

I finally returned home at 9pm on Sunday night to turn around and fly to San Francisco for Dreamforce conference (work) the next morning but let me tell you - that was THE BEST VACATION I have had in many, many, MANY years. Thank you Pam and all the wonderful gals I met!!

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.

Happy New Year!
Ok so I'm really, really behind!

Hi! I'm so behind in my posts I'm trying to decide to I try to catch up or go from here? I think... because I love some of these pieces I'll do a quick photo show and move on from there? Sound good? Excellent! ;o)

Oh hey... like the new banner? More on that to come!!

Earrings for a gal who's not blue but known as Bastille Bleu in the lamp work world. She asked me to make a pair of earrings in the shape of a pair she had seen. I asked if I could design something specifically for her and she agreed. I came up with these! I call them Turquoise Burst.

These are fine silver (.999) with turquoise cabs set inside. The pieces were fired and the cab was tucked in and then the "burst" were formed down around the cab like a bezel. Patina was added and the colors are fantastic. The wires were hand-forged and kiln attached fine-silver wire. They measure approx 2" from top of wire to bottom of 'shield'

Frosty & Polar Bears...

My mom loves (LOVES) kitschy holiday clothing. If it's got a reindeer on it she loves it. When I saw these snowmen and polar bear lampwork beads by Bastille Bleu I knew that Mom would love them as earrings!

To bring them a little more of me - more than just putting them together, I created fine silver (.999) top hats for Frosty. I made them with a little popped up top (like the real Frosty) and added a little 4mm aquamarine cz to the band instead of a flower. Hand applied patina helps bring out the colors in Frosty's scarf. Coordinating Swarovski crystals finish off these cute earrings.

The polar bear earrings "Beary Merry" hang approximately 1 1/2" long from wire to bottom of the Swarovski crystal dangles. I created a hand-crafted fine silver (.999) bow to a a "touch of me" to the earrings. Mom was very happy with them - until she lost one of the Frosty's on Christmas eve at mass and panicked. Luckily Nik had some of the stringer left that she created the scarf with. She created two more Frosty's (hard to match one when you don't have it in your hand) and I'm making a pendant from the original surviving Frosty! Problem solved = Happy Mom!

Alaskan Love Key Fobs...
Created for a really special couple who celebrated their 1 year anniversary with an Alaskan cruise! Two days after I found out they went on a cruise two things happened... 1) Principessa Glass posted a fabulous lamp work heart she called "Glacier" and then 2) that same day a gal I have been buying antique Japanese and Korean glass fishing floats from had ALASKAN BEACH STONES on her site - drilled and everything. Coincidence? I think so! So I snatched up the lamp work heart along with one of similar feel called "Twisted Seas" and ordered the drilled Alaskan Beach Stone from Northern Sea Glass and created these two key fobs. I added some hollow fine silver (.999) beads that I added fine silver flake to before firing, a small Pyrite heart and birth stones in Swarovski Crystals. He got the one with HER birthstone and she got the one with HIS birthstone.

The second piece in what I'm calling my "Antiquities" line "Love" is the Japanese symbol for - well, Love and is done in fine silver (.999). I added 24kt gold to bring out the symbol and a hand-applied patina to bring in some blues. The piece is a comfortable size to wear - approx 1 1/2" long by 3/4" wide in the shape of a dog tag. The pendant hangs from a gold-filled chain.

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.