Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Flights of Filigree

I have stepped out and ventured into the gloriously beautiful world of Filigree! I saw my first piece of incredible filigree jewelry in person when I went to a large artisan show in Lancaster PA and discovered by chance the work of Lisa Gallagher. Such tiny beautiful pieces w/ such tiny little pieces of twisted, shaped metal inside. I was, no I am... in awe.

That was 2 years ago... After buying books 
and looking at pieces and dreaming about trying it I finally said -  "Loug, just do it!" so this past weekend I made my first attempt.

The thought was that it would be an initial pin for my sister-in-law of a scarf. Although pleased that I was able to solder the pieces and get them to hold, it didn't come out as I imagined. Then I read some more of the Silver Threads book by Jeanne Rhodes-Moen... and realized that I should have used square wire (I used 18g round sterling) and I should have used Filigree wire (I used twisted 24g round sterling). I could have pounded out the twisted wire to more closely work like filigree wire but I kinda-sorta didn't read that indepth. So I decided... Let's try it again.

Here is attempt #2 a set of sterling silver leaf-shaped earrings with 6mm light blue (fabricated) cat's eye and 4mm moonstone cabochons. I chose the light blue Cat's Eye because I know she had asked for a pair of blue Chalcedony earrings last year for Christmas - and I chose the Moonstones because they are a pretty grey color and dark grey is her favorite color. I initially intended to make them "post" earrings so I pulled out some pre-made bezels for the stones and a pair of pre-made posts - all sterling silver.

This time I smartly hammered out about 14" of 24g twisted sterling silver to a nice flat piece of wire that has 'ribs' on the top and bottom. After doing that I needed to anneal it and that meant putting fire to it to soften it up again. After that - Pickle... that would become my mantra... shape, position, flux, solder, pickle... shape, position, flux, solder, pickle... ;o)

I designed the earrings - because
I use a leaf with my logo on it as my jewelry tag I used that same shape for the earrings. It's a familiar feel I thought it would help me ease into the project. I worked in the stones - behind the blue stone was where I imagined the post would be for the earrings. Not heavily filigree'd but enough to get my feet wet and be pretty. I tend to start my designs in my design book and then move to my computer to work out some details. (Yes I have visions of owning one of the HP design pads that they use on Project Runway!).

Next step was to cut the 18g square sterling silver wire and shape it to form the outside of the leaf and the center "vein". The outside is one piece bent, formed and curved to fit the design... the "vein" is a single piece also formed and curved to fit. I trimmed the pieces so that the Cat's Eye bezels would fit right into the top of the leaf.

Now for the tricky part - well, to me. Snipping and shaping the inside "filigree" pieces that form the curls and twirls of
the earrings center design. These little pieces are interesting to work with. The flattened twisted wire sometimes gave me "fits" but I have to say it was very fun to do. The top twirled piece on both earrings is actually in the form of a stylized up-side down heart. The Moonstone bezel will fit right into one of the twirls of the heart.

Now... step 6 which I don't have a picture for - soldering. I
used my soldering block, small butane torch, easy and medium wire solder and flux. I am a klutz so to take a photo of the set-up w/ a torch ... nope wasn't happening. I thought about putting my tripod up but the 4-legged helpers were awake and that would cause interest in what I was doing more than they already had. (Here is a picture of my Sissy far enough away to be out of the way but close-enough to satisfy her need to be next to me.)

However I do have a picture of my NEW FAVORITE TOOL! My
pickle pot is a small (dip size) crock pot that holds my pickling solution (I use Silver Prep as it's kinder to the environment) ... it is used to remove  
oxidation on the wire that comes from being heated by the torch. Apparently you need to remove the oxidation each time you solder. Well - walking the 10' to the kitchen each time I solder a piece was getting old so I thought hmmm I can get a small dish to put some in and put it on my mug warmer on my work station... My friend Beth reminded me to cover it so the "helpers" don't get into it by mistake. I thought ... cool - I have a tea cup from Hong Kong with a cover... and then I stopped in my tracks .. I HAVE A TEA CUP WITH A COVER *AND* A STRAINER! Now... if you don't do this you have no idea how cool this is... when you put small pieces into a pickle pot the hardest thing to do is get them back out of the pot... with the porcelain strainer your pieces sit in the pickle and are easier to get access too!! Too cool! My new favorite tool!!

I worked the placement and the soldering of the filigree wires and the Moonstone bezel and then after polling my FB fans (calDesign Naturals) I decided to forgo the posts and make ear wires instead. I soldered a 3" piece of 20g sterling silver onto the back of the Cat's Eye bezel to form into an earring wire later.

ere I laid the soldered pieces on the original design to see how close I got... not bad I think, not bad! I'm also looking to see if they are close to being similar left and right earrings.
The closer they are to the design the better off they will be when being worn.

A quick look at the back - I wanted to check the solder points. You want to be sure that they were smooth and would not catch on anything. I used a file to smooth these areas, double checked the ear wire placement and prepared to form the ear wires.

Forming Ear Wires... A couple bends with flat nose pliers, a twirl onto a pair of bail pliers and POOF I have some ear wires. They were about 1/2" to long so I trimmed then down, bent up the ends a little and - ear wires! :o)

Next is to put these in the tumbler. A tumbler will shine up the pieces as well as work-harden the pieces. Each time it is soldered, the heat will soften the wire. Work-hardening it will toughen the wire up so that it's not flimsy bend-able soft. And the "spahkle" it giv
es is wonderful!!

Last step is to put the stones in, shoot, package and send! A beautiful pair of earrings for my sister-in-law.

I hope she enjoys wearing them as much as I enjoyed
creating them. And I can tell you I will DEFINITELY do this again. I love what I was able to create and want to do it again and try and work filigree into my metal clay designs!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Awareness, Studio Update & New Studio Kitties!

Hope, Love & Golf
Hope, Love & Golf...

On August 16, my sister and some of her friends participated in a Rally for the Cure golf tournament in Concord, NH. They were selling "spots" to play and looking for donations for the raffle table - so you know where I fell in those choices! ;o)

I created an artisan-crafted bracelet which features my own custom designed Heart & Awareness Ribbon. Crafted from Fine Silver (.999) it was customized for the Rally with a tiny golf ball. I added color to the charm by hand-enameling the ribbon with a light pink Japanese enamel and the heart was patina’d to bring out the details.

The 2-1 hand-crafted chain is sterling silver (.925) interspersed with beautiful made in the USA artisan-crafted lampwork beads by Canyon Echoes Artisan Beads flanked by vintage Swarovski Clear AB crystals. The lampwork beads look like pink ice cubes. So beautiful combined with the charm. The bracelet measured approx 7”-7.25” long.

I heard from my sister later that day that one lady really wanted the bracelet and bought a number of tickets. Apparently you bought tickets and the numbered order in which your name was drawn indicated the number of the prize you won... The lady that wanted it had her name drawn FOR that piece. It was a little miracle all of it's own - I'm SO PLEASED that she loved it enough to buy tickets and then was the lucky winner!

Thank you to my sister for the opportunity to be part of such a worthy cause!!

Studio Update!!

Studio Layout
DONE!!! Cleaned up, cleaned out, and re-organized!! I love my studio - it's walls are Hydrangea Blue (an Eddie Bauer paint color from Lowes), the woodwork is an off white and the floors are honey brown. Add in my display credenzas for books, display and now packaging area; a small drafting table with storage on top, child's desk with incredible work space, a computer armoir again with incredible work space that can be closed up, toss in a 6' Aruba Cat Condo and a "Pent House" kitty bed on top of the armoire and you have my absolute favorite room in the house!!

An earlier blog showed my shame at the condition the Studio was in during the summer. It's no wonder I struggled to create. NOW let's see it as I SEE IT every day.

Storage, Display and Packaging Credenza's
Welcome to my Studio... we are going to stand in the center of the room (more or less) and rotate clock wise around to each of the areas. 

Credenza & Display Hutches with books, magazines, shipping supplies, display pieces, storage drawers for my finished jewelry, packing station and display area for some of my favorite things.

(That little stool... it's an idea I have to make my work area at the Botanic Garden classes higher... we'll see how it works next weekend for the Copper Enameling class!)

Studio Kitty Condo & Toy Area
The all important Studio Kitty Condo area. I have had this Aruba Cat condo for years... probably going on 14 or 15. It has served me well. 6 kitties have played on, laid on, slept on, and scratched on this condo (as you can see from the lower legs) and they have all loved it.

I originally took this and realized there were no Studio Helpers in it! Needless to say when they wandered back in I re-shot. (Shadow is lump on top, Sissy is under the beading station (lower right) and Hanna is laying on top of my pink and brown rolling bag (lower left).) Nubbles was being smart and sleeping in the bedroom!

Bead & Wire Work Area
Bead & Wire Center...
This is the drafting table that I started with in the closet of the guest room. It fit perfectly in there and now fits perfectly between the white "post" and the window. Like it was made for those spots. 
The white storage piece sitting ON the table is actually upside down! I flipped it so that I could use the "poles" going across for wire storage instead of ribbons as originally intended by the creator. Little "canning jar-esq" glass bottles hold semi-precious beads on the rest of the shelves. I got creative and added a bar across the front of one of the bead shelves to hold my tools. (they use to be in stands on top of this storage unit but it meant up and down while working on projects. Project boxes, a dapping set, my Ultralite kiln "just incase", soldering tools are also on this table and YES there is still plenty of room to work. One of my favorite areas in this corner is where I keep my bead hoarding umm I mean bead STORAGE area ::cough:: All those drawers have little
Computer, Extra Work, Sculpting, Molding
plastic bottles of beading goodness (lampwork, Swaros, small semi-precious stones, more wire, more tools, chains, and so much more. The black drawers are my cabs... oooooh yes my cabs and my crystals. ::sigh:: love this area. ;o)

Now a quick turn to the right and you see the 1/3 wall between the Studio and the Living Room (yes, this was supposed to be a dining room - WHO NEEDS A DINING ROOM? ;o) and you see my wonderful score - a CHILD'S desk (really - it's huge, I KNOW) that is tall! it has a large work space, a HUGE pull out area that, when used with a wireless mouse and keyboard gives me even MORE work space.

I use this for my computer work, design work, extra beading and wire work and I've been using it as an area to make my

Studio Kitty Pent House Access
molds and do polymer clay sculpting. This desk is perfect - enough space to put my computer, some display pieces, a laser printer (another bargain!!) my fan... such a wonderful piece.

The 1/3 wall is how the boys get up to the Pent House on top of the Armoire. At some point they discovered they could jump diagonally from the short wall to the top of the armoire. They have even gotten so that they can do it if the door is not fully pushed up against the side. Very coordinated they are!! :o) (this shot shows the jumping angle.

Metal Clay Armoire and Studio Kitty Pent House...
Here is where I make the metal clay magic happen. I love this piece! (who am I

Metal Clay Armoire - partially open
kidding I  love ALL the pieces in this room). It allows me large amount of work space, two pull out areas that have enough space between them and the
work area above to allow pieces to be pushed safely away without being moved! When fully opened you can see all the storage, drawers, shelves, I added peg board on the inside and that allows for added wire storage baskets and hooks. Plastic drawers, metal shelf risers, plastic photo holders and more allow me to store everything I need close at hand. You will notice that there is no trim on top of this piece - it should have a piece across the front and side to match the credenza. I was so excited to get it up and filled that I never added the trim... THANK GOODNESS! I later discovered that Nubbles got so comfy up on top in the Pent House that he ROLLED OFF three times in prob 9 months.
Metal Clay Armoire - fully open
The walls are angled so it doesn't fit snugly against the wall - he rolled off the BACK! I pulled the large trim piece that should be on the front and leaned it against the angled walls behind and POOF instant kitty bunk bed bar! No more rolling off!

I hope you enjoyed my tour of the Studio!! Wait... what?? what is missing? The Kiln? OHH YES! The kiln! I have a separate area - you access it just to the right of the Metal Clay Armoire and around the corner to the door to the garage. In the garage I have two work stations for my kiln, torch work, polymer clay oven, and photo booth with lights.  Thank you for visiting my Studio!!

Studio Kitties...

New Studio Kitties!
I would like to introduce you to our two new Studio Kitties.. Miss Hannah Mae and Miss Magic Sissy. They came home in late July after a visit to the Memphis Animal Shelter. I went to see Miss Hannah after seeing her picture and while waiting to see her I was "selected" by Magic Sissy (we call her Sissy). She was an adorable black kitten in #13 cube. I thought that was kind of funny... black cat, #13.. Well... after Mikito passed away last December our house was missing that little black kitty. And #13 is my lucky number. She didn't have a name just "Unknown". We finally were able to see Miss Hannah and hmmmm now I was sucked in... BOTH girls were adopted that day. They were chipped, had their surgery and came home 3 days later. I can tell you that it was the smoothest introduction I've had. The boys finally took to them, the girls took to the boys and soon I caught Mr Grumpy (ok his name is really Nubbles but he played grumpy when they came home) giving kisses to the kitties and trying to play with them. I knew then that it was going to be OK!

Shadow & Hannah Mae
Hannah Mae
Nubbles & Sissy

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

September 11th... 9/11...
A day we will remember for the rest of our lives

I was preparing to blog this week and I am opting to post something I posted on my facebook page(s) instead of talking about the bracelet, kitties and studio. I hope you stay with me for those posts later this week, but for now...
Where were you on September 11, 2001?

One of my friends asked on her page where we were on 9/11? It's one of those moments in history that everyone who was alive that day remembers where they were. I wrote and wrote... this is what I remember...

(Photo of statue located in
Memphis Botanic Garden that I
felt was appropriate for this post)
"I was on my way to work ... running a tad late, I was listening to the radio and suddenly the DJs said "something hit the World Trade Center in New York City"... I had just entered the parking lot at Dunkin Donuts and paused thinking... huh? so I ran in and got a cup of coffee (how strange that I even remember and can SMELL it as I write this - large hazelnut, cream & sugar) got back in the car and hitailed it to the office (about 3-5 mins away). I ran into the Demo Room where we had a TV for training and a cable connection... we were doing demo work in the office and everything was piled into the Demo room... I was trying to move the stupid shelves that were in the way of plugging in the tv when our NY sales rep ran in to do the same thing (he had been on the phone w/ a dealer and had heard something was going on)... we wordlessly moved it and got the TV plugged in... shortly after we watched the second plane go in.

It was terrifying. My Sister and Dad were military - I worked for a security company that had BADGED the World Trade Center after the bombing a few years before. WHAT WAS GOING ON?

While many businesses sent their employees home, our company opted to keep us at the office with the tv on. We were allowed to watch or not watch. We were not allowed to be alone. They did not want anyone going home to sit and watch the tv showing it over and over alone. We had co-worker with a brother in the tower. We had coworkers that worked with security in the building. We watched the towers fall w/ tears running down our faces filled with disbelief and horror. WHO DID THIS? Plane into the Pentagon. Plane down in a field. WHO?

I remember the silence... My apartment was in the flight line for Hanscom AFB... and not far from Logan airport in Boston. The silence outside was deafening. I was on the deck two nights later looking at the stars and talking to my dad... telling him how quiet it was and suddenly we could hear a plane coming. Honestly... I started to freak. Planes were not flying... yet I was hearing a plane... Dad could hear it and told me it was a military plane. The only planes we heard were military. it was comforting and alarming at the same time.

I drove to Maine three days after 9/11 - I had a meeting with a developer in New Brunswick Canada that weekend. I was going to Bar Harbor, ME to camp and then drive to Canada for the meeting. I needed to go to the meeting. The roads were empty. The skies were empty. Suddenly driving up 95 in Maine headed toward Bangor, I saw a HUGE transport plane flying (it seemed to be incredibly low) over head. It was huge. And it was the only thing. I remember the flags. I have never seen so many USA flags in my life. Everywhere there were flags, tears, and silence.

Crossing into Canada that weekend I expected to be searched... I took everything (EVERYTHING) out of the car with the exception of my notebook, purse, my jack and flash light incase I broke down. I was after all camping... stove fuel, camping stuff would (in my mind) cause concern. I wanted to cause no one any undue issues. Crossing into Canada was easy.. and again - THE FLAGS... for every Canadian flag waving (and there were SOO MANY) there were 5 USA flags. Our sisters and brothers to the North felt our pain and fear. It was again - INCREDIBLE.

This morning, September 11, 2012 - I opened my windows and back door to let some air in. It's a beautiful day in the Mid-South as it was a beautiful day 11 years ago. Suddenly I heard a plane over head - not unheard of for me, I'm on one of the flight lines for Memphis International Airport some days... but I paused. I heard that plane, this morning, 11 years later and I paused. I had to think because I was so surprised to hear it. This morning, of all mornings. It's still with me. It's still with my family and it's still with everyone.

Thank you to all who gave and those who gave all to care for US that day and every day."

My sister read this and posted on my facebook status:
Sis the Military plane your heard over head was what we say in the Military "THE SOUND OF FREEDOM"..."

May we always hear the sound of freedom, may we always remember.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Happy Fall -
Studio, Awareness Bracelet & New Kitties

Even though it's definitely not Fall in the Mid-South (it's 88 in the shade) it's September and to this New England Yankee Girl that means FALL! :o) It has been a crazy summer - between work-work fiscal year ending and trying to clean and re-organize the Studio it's been a bit nuts. Some good has come from it... finished fiscal year with all positives on my "goal" list, Studio is 3/4 reorganized, I have a new brand of bronze clay to try out - "Goldie Bronze" from Poland (guess what I'm doing this weekend? ;o)), I have TWO NEW KITTIES in Paradise and completed a really pretty Rally for the Cure Awareness Bracelet for a golf tournament in NH.
Studio Layout

First... Studio - although it's not completely done (and I promise to share pics later this month) I did do a "not exactly to scale but close enough for this" layout of my in-home Studio.

I believe when the house was built it was intended to be a dining room and it would have been beautiful - two windows allowed some natural light to come in and the fact it has vaulted ceiling and that there is a 1/3 wall that opens it up to the living room  it is very airy and open.

When I moved in it started out as a "Library" (now you have to have read that with a snoootty, upper crust voice) which really means I had a couple of credenza's with display hutches on top to hold display items and books as well as a book case, the cat condo (always necessary) and a rocking chair. HOWEVER, when I discovered my new addiction to making jewelry it slowly (OK who am I kidding) QUICKLY became the Studio. First in was the Metal Clay Armoire... it's big, bulky and most importantly CLOSE-ABLE. It was designed for computer use but that just means wonderful use for metal clay work. It has a pull out work space as well as a pull out keyboard area that allows for storage and a wonderful extended work area. PLUS the pull out work space is about 3" below the main work space which means I can leave a project on the pull out, push it back in and not worry that it will be messed with.

Nubbles in the Pent House

My boys discovered that they could use the 1/3 wall and jump diagonally up to reach the top - you know how Kitty's love to be high. So I put a comfy kitty bed up there and refer to it as the Pent House (PH)... and after Nubbles rolled off the back (due to the angled wall behind it) three times while he was sleeping (he gets so comfy up there he sprawls out and rolls over) the trim that should be on the FRONT of the top edge is now across the back acting like a bunk bed bar to keep him from rolling off the back. It works wonderfully and we have had no accidents since it was installed.

Original Studio area table.
Next came the small drafting table on wheels that I originally started with in my "Closet Studio" That tucked in sweetly between one of the square posts and window to become my Wire & Beading area. I have a Scrapbook Storage unit sitting on top of it upside down. This allows the poles that were designed to hold ribbon can hold wire rolls. I have glass filled bottles of semi-precious stone beads in the shelve space below the wire holders and the lowest little cubes hold my bits, pieces, steel block, third-hand, steel wire, etc. Recently I added a bar across the front to hold my pliers, cutters and such within easy access. Also on this work area is my 10-drawer cabochon cabinet. And yes, there's still room to work!

Then of course I needed storage for my bead hoarding... I mean bead SUPPLIES. There is a plastic multi-drawer unit that holds these supplies, wire, seed beads, beading boards, and all kinds of wonderful tools and supplies - right in front of the square post next to the Wire & Beading area.

What Studio wouldn't be complete without an Aruba Cat condo?? I have had this almost indestructible 6' cat condo with many levels for almost 15 years I believe... it's awesome, heavy as anything and a great spot to allow the Studio Kitties to be close at hand (our desire) and out of the way (my desire). This is settled in the corner with both the windows allowing them to see who's coming to the door and who may be walking (OR FLYING) by outside.

A pic of a part of one of the display
Credenzas before Studio take over
The two Credenza and hutch units still hold books and some display items but one has also become a packaging and shipping station and the other a storage and display area.

The last piece added was intended to be a child's desk however it's wonderful as a work station. it's actually very tall, has another pull out work station - supposed to be a LARGE keyboard area - and a drawer in this pull out. It makes a wonderful computer station and because the work space is so large I use it for beading and wiring space also. it's a great find!!

WAIT... what about the kiln?? What about the MAPP Torch?? What about the Photo booth?? What about the polymer clay?? Well those are all out in the garage - right around the corner from the studio making it not only convenient but also a way to keep the odor's out of the house. 

I promise I will have pictures - I love and adore my Studio and am so happy to share it with you!!

Come back tomorrow when I show you the beautiful piece done for the Rally for the Cure Tournament in Concord NH and introduce you to Hannah Mae & Magic Sissy.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Studio Evolution

Studio Evolution...

"Art Closet
My "Studio" started out as a little work-area in my spare guest room closet. I called it the "Art Closet".  I found a drafting table that slid perfectly into the closet and allowed me to close the doors to contain it from my 4-legged helpers.

When I really discovered Precious Metal Clay I realized I needed a bigger area AND an area that would allow me to SAFELY use a small butane creme brulee torch to fire my fine silver pieces... I had yet to purchase a kiln. And let me tell you - firing with a torch - even that small... in a small closet is not wise!! (DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!)

Section of the Hutch/Book Shelf
I looked around and thought - hmmmm my "Library" which is approx 12' x 12' and supposed to be the dining room of my house might work. BUT it's wide open. No doors. Half wall between it and the living room. I didn't use it as a dining room because the kitchen breakfast area is perfect for my table. (The people before me used it as a music room - it had a piano in it when I saw the house so to me it was never a "dining room".)

It started out w/ some nice bookcases with hutches on top. A rocking chair and the boys Aruba Cat condo. Paint color - gorgeous shade of Hydrangea Blue and Eddie Bauer color from Lowes.

Metal Clay Work Center
It slowly became my Studio...

First I added a metal clay work area - really it's a self enclosed Computer Armoir - purchased to match the book cases and hutches already in there. ... it was perfect - "tons of room", a slide out work area AND a slide our second area where the keyboard is supposed to go. PERFECT... This is what it looked like when I naively thought it would contain all I was going to do for jewelry. >

The bed was added to the top because he kept getting up there. To the left of the open unit is a 1/3 wall between the living room and the "Library/Studio" he would
Sleeping Babies!
jump up there and then jump up to the top. They both (and Mikito did to) spend a lot of time up there. Directly behind me - while sitting at this desk - is the 6' Aruba Cat Condo that has been in our family for many, many years.

I then moved my home computer into this room - one of the "book cases" became a computer center. I moved the small drafting table from the guest room closet into this room too. THEN I purchased a kids computer desk that is really tall - and approx 36" long. It too has a pull out work area and a drawer inside that area.
Beading Area...
I used it as a work center then decided it would be better to have the computer set up there, have room to work on some wire work also and clean up the bookcase area a bit.

NOW we start... the great Studio Reorganization... 

I didn't remember to take photos of the entire room before moving things around but I do have some. Please be warned - these are not PG13.. they are very messy. ;o) The picture below is a wonky, pieced together photo of what is behind me in the room when I sit at the Metal Clay Work Center. Two corner windows w/ the Aruba Cat Condo, my beading area to the immediate right of those, and the packaging section and old computer center in the book cases.

The Messy Studio. A little wonky based on how
I took the pics and pasted them back together.

The picture below is how full the Metal Clay Work Center is now. As I work on cleaning up the studio I will add to this post.

FULL Metal Clay Center
I can tell you that the section you do not see (where I'm sitting when I rotated around to take the images in the long photo above) is set up with a new slim 20" monitor that allows for plenty of work area in front of it. The Beading area is cleaned up, the bookcases & hutches are cleaned up. I created an "Inspiration Board" of finished pieces I have bought from fellow artisans. It's a wonderful place!!

All that's left now is to clean and reorganize the contents of the Metal Clay Work Center and then clean up the corner of the garage (right around the corner from the Studio) where I have my kilns, enameling set-up and photo booth. Wait til you see it. It is as organized as the pic of the Beading Center above but soooo much better!! It's a great space and I'm so pleased to have it to use.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Angel Wings - Remembering Mom ~ ♥ ~

Rosary for Mom - May 21, 2011
I feel like I have come back around to "me" in my art. These pieces are truly calDESIGN Natural pieces... made from nature, with specific person(s) in mind, and the ability to pour my soul into the pieces.

Last year at this time I was working to finish a Rosary I started for my Mom. I had to keep my hands busy while my mind was spinning at the fact that we were losing her. Tomorrow (May 21, 2012) it will be 1 year to the day that Mom passed away.  

A Fine Silver Painted Leaf
At the end of April 2012 we had a "Create a Fine Silver Leaf" class at the Memphis Botanic Garden. I have done this a number of times but love the camaraderie of the people there so I signed up again. From the selection of leaves that we had to pick from one was called an "Angel Wing" and it hit me. I knew what I wanted to do. My heart was aiming at creating a necklace for my sister and something for my Dad from the Angel Wing leaves as a remembrance of my Mom...

I painted the fine silver metal clay paste in many layers over the two leaves and they fired out to fantastic, completely Fine Silver (.999) versions of the leaf - perfect little Angel Wings.

Angel Wing Begonia

I came home expecting to put them on chains and then it hit me...I have a pair of Mom's birthstone earrings that she use to wear - OFTEN. I took the Topaz stone out of the gold settings and added a fine silver prong setting to the wings, refired, patina'd to bring out the texture even more, tumbled to work harden and shine, and then set Mom's Topaz stones into each leaf.

Add some sterling silver rope chain and a logo leaf to my sister's smaller Angel Wing, some heavier chain (the logo leaf hangs on the back of it ... Dad looks for that logo! ;o)) and a book mark to Dad's Angel Wing and you have two pieces that bring me back to my roots. Creating pieces from nature, for loved ones - with the added benefit of being a remembrance piece I think they will both enjoy.

Angel Wings... Remembering Mom
(Note... if Dad decides he wants to hang his somewhere other than on the book mark, I left the lobster claw on the chain so it could easily be removed.)

~ ♥ ~ We miss you Mom - It's been over a year since we've been able to hear your voice but know that we love you and you will never be forgotten. ~ ♥ ~

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Bronze & Mookaite...
A Learning Experience 1


I've found another aspect of jewelry to become addicted to - cabochons. What kind? Ohh any kind! Pretty... some w/ pits, some w/ "thingies' on them... but mostly any kind. :o) My goal is to work the cabs into my metal clay pieces - to build around them and incorporate them into my designs. Now that I've made this admission ... on to my project.

Mookaite.. as in Mookaite Jasper
    is an Australian jasper containing shades of pink, red and yellow. It is anurturing stone that supports and sustains during times of stress bringing peace and a feeling of wholeness.Mookaite Jasper encourages versatility and helps you to accept change. It helps you to discover all possibilities in a situation and to choose the right one. Mookaite also grounds and stabilizes the whole body and provides a protective energy that helps to block unwanted outside influences. Mookaite is a very protective stone, and is particularly good as an emotional protector. In the physical realm it stabilizes health and fortifies the immune system. Meditating with this stone takes you into a calm center to wait out any storm, and can assist in contacting souls on other planes. It is an aid for communicating with animals. This flexible and pragmatic stone points out all possibilities and assists in choosing the right one. Mookaite is associated with the lower chakras.
I found the wonderful triangular cab above from Cooper Rocks on Facebook and fell in love - it wasn't just the shape or the color but what really caught my attention were the "specks".. in the photo they looked like the tops of blowing wheat stalks. I had to have the cab! (What this funny little cab didn't know was the minute I saw it I started a design (thank goodness I won it! LOL!))

Initially it was going to be silver and then the more I looked at it the more it was whispering Bronze... Bronze... so I put it on two pieces of fired metal - one fine silver an done bronze and the bronze won hands down - it was simply perfect.

My thought was - syringe. I have never mastered metal clay syringe and this would be a good piece to play with. Only problem is... I can't fire the stone in place so that means making sure it is measured and created w/ the thought of adding the stone after firing. Quite the challenge.

Back plate, bezel, decorative cutting, decorative syringe and hmmm how will it hang? All questions I thought about, doodled on paper, dreamed about in my sleep. Original thought was a full bezel all the way around but once I had it in my hand it felt like it needed breathing room. So I decided on a partial bezel around the bottom. The "wheat fronds" would assist in holding it in place.

Now, I can't fire the stone with the metal so I need a "place holder" I started by making a mold of the stone and then I used some polymer clay to check the size... a tad to large height wise. NOTE I can NOT use a polymer clay "place holder" and fire the piece - BAD BAD BAD!! DO NOT DO! ... my next step was to mix up some "investment" material and create a fake stone that would be able to fire with the piece.

I chose a texture for the "front" of the back plate that simulated the black specs on the Mookaite. I carved out a design so that part of the stone could show thru from behind and created a partial bezel. I textured it with the same texture plate and fired it flat. Once fired I was able to bed the bezel into shape (shown fired and bent in the picture). Now I"m looking at two firings. 1) the bezel and 2) the whole piece.

Syringe... syringe and I have a love-hate relationship. It loves to hate me. I use it like "caulk" to fix things - cracks, spaces, etc. But it can be so much more - design element, a working part of the piece. I was determined. Then my uncertainty took over. IF I use an investment "place holder" for the stone and the bronze is wet when laid on top of it and dries and is fired... will it crack the bronze? I didn't know the answer. SO I opted to create the "fronds" and fire them separate - like the bezel and then add them onto the piece at the same time as the bezel.

I hand cut the "wheat fronds" from rolled out Bronze clay. Then I added the syringe on the top for height. The thought was - fire flat, bend, secure onto the back plate over the investment "place holder" and then fire. I used syringe directly onto the back of the piece to add grasses and more "wheat fronds" to ad a cohesive design aspect - should the piece flip around while being worn.

The bail I was thinking would be an oval that is "folded" over but rounded not hard fold. It would form a "horse-shoe" like shape. I planned a "nub" on the front that would actually sit inside a hole at the top of the triangle back plate and act almost like a pinch bail. The "wheat fronds" fired fine, I added them and the bezel to the back plate. created the hole in the top of the triangle and fired the pendant and the bail (bail flat and separate).

I had problem with the investment on the bronze... it seemed definitely warped - domed - I wasn't sure it was properly fired (the color wasn't right). So I refired it without the investment. While that was firing I bent the bail over one of my tools and it formed a perfect bail.

I used my dapping tools and pounded out the domed area. It flattened nicely. And was ready for cleaning.
I used my dremel and POOF hit one of the fronds and it was fast and the piece too thin and it snapped off and went flying. ::sigh::

Other issues - the bezel lifted a bit when it domed. The bezel was prob 1mm to high up on the back piece so the stone interferes with the bail (or the bail interferes with the stone).

All in all - it was an unsuccessful project but a WONDERFUL learning experience and I will be working on this project again - the Mookaite Cab looks fabulous in this setting and I want it to have a setting. :o) Watch for Learning Experience 2. :o)