Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Another Wednesday post!!

It has been a busy week for me - lots of little non-jewelry-related tasks that have to get done.  I keep making lists, and crossing off the tasks, but I always feel like I am playing catch-up!

Anyway, I posted a not-quite-a-tutorial for a new-to-me technique, over at the Love My Art Jewelry blog.  It features a two-tone metal pendant, this time I used brass and sterling.  It was a practice piece (in case it did not work out), and I used a kinda  hum drum Labradorite that was devoid of the gorgeous flash that this stone is known for. So it is now mine! I've worn it twice already!

It was rather time consuming, but now that I have the gist of the steps to take, I will be visiting this technique again.

A very lovely repeat customer of mine quite recently purchased almost all of the sterling silver bangles in my shop.  Still my all time favorite piece of jewelry to create, I made another one.

I used 6 gauge sterling silver wire.  This time, I soldered 3 tiny silver embellishments to the top of the bangle - the center one is made using my shot plate.  I prefer to make the heavier gauge bangles in an oval shape.  They are much easier to put on (for me), and the decorative element is more likely to stay centered on the wrist when the bangle is oval, versus round.  

I also like to texture 3 sides of any bangle I make (I try to, anyway). When I wear bangles, I always tend to bang the bracelet on whatever surface is nearby (perhaps that is why it is called a bang-le???) Anyway, by adding texture, any future potential "dings" that may happen in the metal are disguised by this little bit of texture.  That's my theory, anyway.

I made some more hollow beads for some earrings.  These have sold already, but I have got to make a pair for myself!  They are so lightweight and comfortable!

It was time to add some color to my shop!  I bought these three GORGEOUS lampwork glass beads from Susan Kennedy (her shop is here) LAST YEAR.  I keep a pretty little handmade ceramic bowl on bench FULL of art beads.  I like to stare at their beauty every day - it is inspirational! Well, my bowl is overflowing, and it was time!

In my listing in my shop, I even went into detail as to why I loved these beads!  The ribbon of glass in khaki, navy, and ecru that flows all around the bead; the sterling silver droplets melted into the design; the rectangular shape of the bead; but mostly, it's that translucent deep blue glass! Just gorgeous!

I could not decide on copper or I used both, and made a little mixed metal chain.

My morning routine is cast in stone: I get up, brush my teeth, start the coffee, and turn on my I-Pad and read emails.  I received an Etsy email from a potential customer.  She referenced a pair of Sterling Silver earrings that I have in my shop, which are priced at $55.  She asked if I would sell them for $35.  Almost half of the stated price. I was shocked, and a tiny bit insulted.

Now mind you, my coffee was still brewing (I must have coffee FIRST THING in the morning - I MUST)!  I try very hard to keep my prices affordable.  It is stated in my listings that ALL proceeds are donated to charity.  I mean, I don't just pick a price off the top of my head - it's calculated.

I turned off the I-Pad, drank my coffee, and sat down at my computer. I wrote her back, thanked her very much for her interest.  I told her that my price was firm and fair, and is based upon the materials used in the design, the craftsmanship, and most importantly, the skill set required to create these earrings.

I have not heard back from her, and I am sure I will not.  But, it threw me off a bit!  I have had people try to "barter" with me at craft shows before - that never goes over well, either!

It took me a couple years making jewelry before I even considered selling it.  I am a private person with not the highest self esteem to begin with. Selling one's art is, in a way, like selling a piece of oneself.  Our art is personal - at least mine is.  It took me a while to learn that just because a piece of my jewelry does not sell, it does not mean that design is awful - it's subjective.  So, every once in a while when I receive comments like "why is that so expensive" or "can you reduce the price", I have to remind myself that it's not me - it's them.

If there are any other jewelry designer's reading this blog, I would LOVE it if you would share with me in the comments how YOU would have replied to this inquiry. I can tell that this is going to bug me for a while.

Thanks so much for stopping by today!!! I hope you all have a wonderful rest of the week!


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Wet Wednesday

I still cannot believe the intensity of the rain late yesterday, which came down in buckets.  It has been a long time since I have seen this much rain fall in such a short period of time! There are mounds of mulch in places in my yard that should not have mulch. Apparently, there is more rain to come. Yippee!

In the meantime, I have managed to make just a few things for my shop. I had not yet cleaned up my work bench (which I do almost daily, believe it or not, as I am a complete slob when I am working), so my stamps were still sitting right in front of me when I made these earrings.

I soldered on a teeny tiny sterling flower on the bottom, made from my shot plate, and added some hand cut sterling eyelets.  Talk about slim slivers of silver (say that 3 times fast)! But...look at those most awesome lampwork beads by GlassBeadArt!  They have tiny holes melted into them....if they were not the most excellent eggplant shade of purple, you would swear they just landed on the beach straight form the ocean, or were unearthed from some archaeological dig!  

I made another pair of sterling hoops, and while looking for something to dangle in the center, I happened upon the most glorious strand of rough-cut labradorite! When did I buy these?  Why have I not used them yet?  I am a bead-hog....

Most of the labrasdorite I have been able to get my hands on does not have this much flash! 

I posted a picture of a SOLD bracelet on Facebook, and a very nice woman tagged me and asked if I could make one for her.  Although she has seen the pictures, it was just mailed yesterday...I do hope she likes it!.

But, I made a second one at the same time. "They" say that creating in production is more time efficient. may have been efficient, but it was exhausting! I domed the second copper cabochon so it would create a smaller focal, and I changed up the hand made chain. 

 It's the chain that takes so long to make...but, I do love it!

Lastly, I made this bracelet, which features a gorgeous jade cabochon.

I made the sterling bead from heavy, thick patterned sterling silver wire.  I had to anneal that metal several times to forge it into a round bead, but I think it turned out nicely.  

Another new-to-me handmade chain, too.  The links are made from 16 gauge wire...again...lots of annealing...but the weave is substantial, and it is so fluid!

I am going to completely change the subject.  Earlier this year, I spent a long time setting up my own website via Indiemade ( Etsy now allows mass produced merchandise from "who knows where", and it is just not the "handmade" platform that it once was. I have also heard firsthand from several artists where Etsy simply "closed their shop"...for, according to the artist, no reason.  I am not that comfortable with that control feature that Etsy has maintained.  I opened my website in the hopes of closing my Etsy store.  But, I still get a few sales from Etsy, so for now, I am keeping it.

Although my past working career required me to be computer literate (in addition to writing, I worked with a lot of graphics programs), I feel 2 years old sometimes when it comes to "new-to-me" technology.  Setting up the website was cumbersome to me (a normal person probably would have zero issues setting up their site)! Now that it has been up and running for several months, I wonder why it was difficult! Anyway, the beauty is that my website links to Etsy - in other words, if a purchase is made on my website, the item is immediately noted as sold in Etsy - and vice-versa.  Etsy has fees - fees for listing, fees for selling. The fees for my Indiemade site are only monthly and are basically up to me, based upon the Indiemade Level that I choose. No listing fees, and no percentage-of-sale-fees. It is a good fit for me.  

Amazon is about to launch its Handmade at Amazon site.  I applied - it's a juried entry to ensure items sold are truly handmade - and I was accepted to join. I actually was excited to join.  Then came the "Agreement" via email...the Fine Print, as I call it. For the first year, Amazon is waiving the monthly fee (which is quite high, in my opinion, for my tiny little shop),  The per-sale fee is also too rich for my blood. And, Amazon does not allow "watermarks" on any shop photos - or any props in photos, for that matter.  That means we are now talking about retaking lots of photographs. I don't watermark my images now - a watermark is a faint image that is actually embedded into the photo, usually covering part of your, in my case, jewelry design.  I do, however, add my name and a copyright insignia to each photo.  The images basically become the property of Amazon.  Although I am truly not worried about anyone "copying" anything I make, the fact that the picture IS MINE and represents MY WORK, yet I cannot label it as mine, just kinda rubs me the wrong a Red Flag kind of way.  I cannot put my finger on exactly why the entire Handmade at Amazon process is bothering me, but it is.  

I make jewelry as a creative outlet.  I enjoy it - I do not have to do it. I get an intense feeling of satisfaction when I take raw materials and make something beautiful with it, that I hope, brings just a tiny bit of excitement to the new Owner. I feel for artisans who do this to pay their bills - I could not. I put in hours selecting the supplies, designing the item, making the jewelry, finishing the jewelry (the finishing sometimes takes longer than the making!), photographing the piece, listing the item, and don't even start me on marketing that item!  It takes an inordinate number of hours in a day. All told, I work more hours now, creating jewelry, than I did at my last job. But, my art is for charity - I donate my proceeds to  Miracle Horse Rescue (MHR).  It is a win/win for me - I am kept off the streets and out of trouble, and MHR gets to keep the few bucks I make and put the money to good use.

For anyone reading this that has delved into the Handmade at Amazon market, I commend you, as I know the amount of hours involved in setting up the shops. I sincerely wish you all tons and tons of success!

Thanks for stopping by today ....have a wonderful rest of the week!


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

I's been a while.....

Almost a month since I have visited this little spot lately.  I have had a few health issues (no worries), but man, I am getting tired of being poked and prodded.  At one point, both arms had huge black and blue marks from various pricks (I am talking about the needle).  :)  All is well!

I have been working, here and there.  Earlier this week, I wrote quite a detailed tutorial for the Love My Art Jewelry (LMAJ) blog spot (you can view it here).  It includes step-by-step instructions on how I make these hollow sterling silver beads.  In addition to illustrating the technique, I just wanted to show how much work goes into making one these little babies.  I think it is worth it, though. I am actually hosting a giveaway for these two beads, pictured below.  There is still time to enter - just leave a comment on the LMAJ blog to be entered to win.

Sterling Silver Beads offered for Giveaway at Love My Art Jewelry
I made an even smaller pair for these earrings. They are itsy bitsy!

But..I had to make them as I had two lampwork beads left from the set I used to make this bracelet. Gorgeous lampwork by Susan Kennedy of SueBeads.

Yesterday afternoon, and this morning, I concentrated on making a few pairs of earrings.

I seem to be on a trend...make jewelry that is impossible to adequately photograph.   Anyway, these hoops feature tiny little Red Creek Jasper rounds.  It is Autumn now, and the colors on these gemstones remind me of the leaves right outside my window.

This past August, I was playing with my shot plate and made these earrings.  They sold, but I really like this style.  

With the exception of bangle bracelets, I don't like to repeat a design.  So I made these instead.  They started as a soldered hoop...then I just played around with that hoop until I came up with a shape that I liked.

Last year, or so, I made three pair of hoop style earrings with a post.  First, I twisted the silver, but I had a hard time soldering that tiny little post to the center of the wire.  I kept those three "reject" pairs for myself, one of which I grab to wear often.  Happy to say, my soldering has improved a bit and it is dead-on centered!

This last pair of earrings is my FAVORITE!  I belong to several groups on Face Book, a couple that cater to buying hand made stamps.  Well, one of the sets I received of "mini stamps" (by Ryan Lingner) has the cutest little cube shape!

I was so pleased with the stamping!  I was going to name these "Modern Cubist Earrings" when I listed them in my shop, but I don't name my items.  It's too hard!  And, when online searching - whether it is on Etsy, Google, whatever - I don't think anyone would land on my page....I mean really... would you search for "Modern Cubist"  when looking for silver earrings??  In fact, I landed on Pablo Picasso when I did the search! Duh! :)  So...if anything, I still will not be coming up with cute names for my jewelry!

I have gone back and forth with working with my Precious Metal Clay.  The kiln just sits there - taunting me.  I have a very busy Spring/Summer, and did not feel I could allocate the appropriate time to learning this new-to-me technique.  I may actually be putting it off until January now.  I know...shame on me.  I just know "Me". If I start something, and I cannot finish it COMPLETELY...well, the OCD kicks in and stresses me too much.  January.  Yeah -  New Year's Resolution (wait...I don't make resolutions either)!  What a conundrum!

Oh well...thank you for stopping by today!  Wishing you all a wonderful rest of the week!


Monday, August 24, 2015

Hammer on....

Lately, I feel more comfortable using the term "metalsmith" in describing myself.  In my last post, I referenced purchasing a new-to-me-tool (the shot plate - I wrote a quick tutorial on the Love My Art Jewelry blog spot here).  Well, I found a few new ways to use this end result, known as decorative shot beads.

First up are these very cool mixed metals earrings which almost killed me in photographing.  For some reason, I could not get the angle/lighting to is what it is!

I took at least 25 pictures, all horrible!  Anyway, I twisted two lengths of square copper wire, then balled up both ends in the flame.  To the bottom, I cut some teeny tiny sterling silver discs, and soldered on those tiny decorative beads.  These look so much better in person - they swing beautifully from one's ear!

For the next pair of earrings, I cut two sterling silver discs, sawed and filed out the petals, textured the petals, and dapped them  - sort of like a bead cap - but I turned the petal "outward" just a bit.  I then soldered two of the decorative beads to the centers, making little flowers.  The ear wires have also been soldered to the back of the earrings.

I call these "quasi poppies" - poppies would actually have 3 tiny balls in the center, and they would also have 5 petals.  So, "flowers" fit the bill better than poppy, I suppose.

I took a short break from the decorative shot and whipped up a set of 5 copper stacking bangles. These are hand riveted with sterling silver, and textured on the top and both sides.  

LOVE this texture!

I have wanted to try "air chasing" for-ever.  There are plenty of You-Tube videos out there with great instructions.  The easiest way to make this style cuff is to use wide copper tubing - straight from the hardware store.  Well, my tubing is only 1/4" wide - and I have a ton of it.  Not easy to do....I truly believe a wider cuff would have been easier on me - but boy, I had a blast!  Just look at the craters and pits in the cuff! Texture, baby!!!!

And since my shot plate was just sitting there waiting to be used....I made two little flowers and soldered them to the ends of the cuff.

I do not want to state that the technique is difficult - a better word would be challenging, or even cumbersome!  You tape the ends of the tube to your steel bench block and, using various hammers and dapping tools, you hammer the SIDES of the tubing - not straight down the center.  Well, that metal moves with every blow of the hammer - usually right out from under the mounds of tape!  I used a lot of tape, and I had to anneal the cuff many times to make the copper soft.  

Though I actually like the slim style cuff, the next time I am out and about, I am definitely making a pit stop at the hardware store in search of wider tubing! :)

I have been on this jewelry-making-journey for a long time now, trying to find my niche.  I truly feel comfortable with calling myself a metalsmith, and it feels good!

Thank you so much for stopping by today!  Have a lovely week!


Monday, August 17, 2015


Patti Vanderbloemen

Last week was spent playing with sterling silver-which will always be my favorite metal!

These little hoops are actually quite small.  I reached for some heavier gauge wire, twisted the ends together and then melted them into a ball.  Then, I flattened the ball, did a bit of shaping with my files, and soldered on a tiny little ball of silver.  I really like the organic look of these hoops.

Still thinking of hoops, I made a pair of double hoops.  I soldered the tiny  jump rings for security sake.  I did not add patina to these - just kept them bright and shiny.  These are quite dangly!

Then I got out the copper, added some silver and some tube rivets.  

Those mixed metal tabs, above, were my favorite of the week...until...

I discovered a new-to-me tool a couple of weeks ago.  It took a while for it to arrive, but, it is a shot plate and I used it to make those tiny little center flowers in the hoops above.  In fact, I wrote a blog post at Love My Art Jewelry and demonstrated how I made those little flowers.  Click here if interested in reading about that!

Then, I got really brave and made what started out as a solid sterling silver spinner bracelet.  I have only ever made these with a copper base, as an 8" length of metal is required.  So, I held my breath when I hammered, praying that the solder join would hold!  Well, it did!  BUT, I loved the texture so much on the base bracelet that I did actually CUT OFF the inner spinner bracelet...'cause I wanted to see the texture!

That little satellite/inner spinner bracelet did not go to waste!  I re-soldered and made a couple of sets of stacking bangles, instead.

I also worked on bezel setting a couple of gemstone cabs, but, not liking my results right now.  They are sitting on my bench...staring at me...begging me to make them better.  In time...

Last, but not least, I am having an End of Summer Sale in my shop.  I am hoping that this sale will raise some funds for hay for Miracle Horse Rescue.  Charitable organizations are really taking a hit this past year.  If nothing else, I am hoping that by having this sale, Summer will be over quicker...have I ever mentioned that this is my LEAST FAVORITE season??

Thanks so very much for stopping by today!  Hoping you have a wonderful week!