Monday, October 20, 2014

Put a Ring On It

I can honestly state that I have never heard one complete song by Beyonce - I am a Classic Rock and Classic Country Girl.  But, the title lyrics seemed to fit what I have been concentrating on.

I added 8 rings to my shop, in multiple sizes.  I truly, truly was exhilarated while making each and every one of these.  Not my usual stuff.  Expanding the horizons.  All good!  Here are a few closeups:

The spinner ring below was a bugger to photograph - that is a crystal clear Blue Topaz, tiny cabochon, that likes to pick up the colors of every prop in my photos, no matter which way I turned the ring.

I always love the look of mixed metals, and was so pleased with the texture on the ring below.

Love this beaded wire posing as the satellite ring.

I had this Mahogany Obsidian cabochon FOREVER.

These stacking rings are THICK - 10 gauge wire - there was definitely extra annealing of the wire required in order to forge these into rings for soldering.

It's Monday...time to start something new!

Thanks for stopping by - have a wonderful day!  (I love to read your comments!)


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Practice Makes I continue to practice...

Anyone else ever feel like they are in a rut?  You know....same thing...different day?  I have felt that way with my jewelry designs for quite some time.  While I always use beautiful artisan beads, I try to add a new technique often to help me feel like I am expanding my horizons.  I dunno....

Here is an overall picture of what I have made the past couple of days.  Lots of metal, with a few choice art beads added in for good measure.

So, first up is this cuff bracelet.  I needed to make just one more tab setting to make sure it was not a fluke!

I just love how this one turned out.  I riveted the tab setting to the cuff, before setting the tabs on the sterling disc.

I have quite the collection of artisan lampwork cabochons.  First up is this lovely purple ammonnite made by Susan Kennedy of Sue Beads.  

I silver bezel-set this beauty.  It was going to be a pendant, but, I felt adventurous, crossed my fingers,  and instead, made it into a ring.

I intentionally sized this on the small side - it fits perfectly on my mother's index finger....have I mentioned in the past that my mother is obsessed with purple???  Well...she is!  She wore this all day yesterday!

Then, I happened upon this beautiful cab that I purchased from Kerry Bogert a couple of years ago.  She no longer makes lampwork at this time (snif!), so it is special to me!

I soldered the ring ever so slightly off center - again - I wanted it to fit snugly on the index finger.

And it fits exactly how I wanted it to - but it may look like a mistake to the average customer.  So, not sure this will sell. I need a manicure...and some hand lotion!

Anyway, I also made two spinner rings - each with a different hammered texture. Here is a close-up of one of the rings.

I kept the metal with silver on silver - I used a heavy gauge for the base ring and it is substantial -  has quite the spin to it - great when sitting at a red light!

Lastly, I remade a bezel set pendant.  I had this absolutely lovely Laguna Lace Agate cabachon from Lexx Stones.  I originally set it in the most ugly setting possible (unintentional, of course):

I am almost embarrassed to show the picture above!  I have not yet mastered asymmetry design - it's like I have a mental block.  Anyway, I set this monstrosity aside for two months - disgusted with its outcome.  Yesterday, I took it apart and remade the pendant.

Love the gallery wire - what a challenge to work with!  I had done some research before using this particular bezel wire.  It likes to "move" when you barely even touch it with a flame.  So, I used some steel binding wire to "tie it together" while soldering.  The back of a piece is as important as the front - well, at least it is in my eyes.  So, I added a little copper sparkle.

This is going in my jewelry box!

I think a few of these items are good enough to go into my shop....practice..practice..practice.

Thanks for stopping by today - love to read your comments!!


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Rainy, rainy Saturday

Rainy days have ALWAYS been my favorite types of days.  I don't like the sun (I am soooo pale...with freckles), and I hate the heat.  So, I become energized on these days.  So I am hitting the studio all day long - with breaks to look out the window around the corner at the gray skies - and could not be happier!  I know...strange...

Just a few new things to show you so far since my last post.  I was gifted a set of beads, by the most awesome Catherine Pruitt of BooBeads (go see her beautiful jewelry in her shop right here).  These beads are made by Cindy Gimbrone and have the most lovely hearts!  One of the beads is a large hole bead.  I don't work with fibers, i.e., leather, silk etc., So, I spent some time trying to figure out how to use all the beads from the set in one piece.  

The focal on the bracelet below does just that.  I took about an inch and a half of very heavy silver, added some silver coil, and slipped the large hole bead in between.  I am so excited with this, as the disc bead moves, while everything else remains stationary.

I have begun creating another bracelet, similar to the above, as I have discovered that I have quite a few large hole beads in my stash.

These are my favorite hoops - to date - as hoops will always remain my favorite style.

These are actually tiny - for me!  The hoop is only 3/4 inch in diameter.  I did not antique these this time...the silver spoke to me and said "keep me shiny"!  So I did.

I made one more pair of earrings with the Inviciti Pewter charms.  I have had these rough-cut garnet chunks in my gemstone box for way too long.

Gorgeous aurora borealis (AB) finish that flashes peacock shades of blue, green and gold.  The bracelets below are my FAVORITES!

The one on the top is from a Kerry Bogert tutorial.  The bottom one - I just played with wire.  This one is so cool:

Just a twist of a long length of 12 gauge wire - I am hoping this is not a fluke and I duplicate the design - ha!

Back to work - I hope you all enjoy your weekend!  Thanks for stopping by!

PS - The horses at Miracle Horse Rescue are in desperate need of funds for hay, so having a little mini sale in my shop to help where I can.  Everyone suffers in this rotten economy, especially the non-profits.



Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Lights, Cameras, know the rest!

In my last post, I talked about my revelation in utilizing an 18% Photo Gray Board for taking pictures.  Several people on Facebook messaged me and wanted more information regarding the lights that I use.

In addition to a myriad of backgrounds for my photos, I have tried many different light setups.  Again - my studio has always been in a basement, and natural light is simply not easily accessible.  First off, I use a Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W690 16.1 MP Digital Camera with 10x Optical Zoom - phew...that is a mouthful!  It is available here.  I sadly left my previous Sony Cyber-shot at a friend's 60th birthday party celebration - it was at a hotel, and by the time I realized it was not in my purse (days was a party, people!!), it was too late.  So, I upgraded to my current camera.  It took me a couple of months to become accustomed to the automatic macro setting.  Angles are everything - if I am off just a bit, my subject is blurry in all the wrong places!  But, I am used to it now, and love it as much as my old Sony.

These are the lights that I use.

Yes - they are large BUT they are at all heavy.

I intentionally have them set up this way - one sits horizontal to my table, and the other sits portrait.  I don't know why, but this particular spread of the lights works best for my pictures.  The lights are available here.

No shadows - and true, true colors - so important to someone who is selling jewelry made with beads!

The description on Amazon states that these lights are portable, and technically, they are.  However, there are metal rods inserted into the jacket of the light - it took a bit of time to install these - so, I personally would not want to break these down, carry them with me, and set them up again.  For my stationary-at-all-times purpose, they work wonderful.  

There.  Those are my lights and my camera!

I have made a few things, as well.  Sue Kennedy of SueBeads was selling strands of orphan lampwork beads.  Nothing wrong with these beads, they were simply leftovers.  I ADORE the color green, but I rarely work with it - so I wanted a challenge and bought the strand below.

Yesterday, I made this necklace.

Personally, I love it when the beads don't match.  Typically, when making bracelets  I add a copper or silver bead to a lampwork strand, just to keep the eye moving around the piece.  Anyway, I wanted to make a pendant styled necklace, so I spiced up the design just a tad by making the mixed metal focal.  I soldered a sterling silver disc (stamped and domed first) to a copper backplate and added some eyelets.

Necklaces remain - for me - the hardest thing in the world to photograph - I don't care what kind of lights or backgrounds I use!

Much as I hate photographing necklaces, I made another one, also with Sue's beads - her Chicklets to be exact, in an awesome Black Metallic finish that flashes gold and purple when you turn the beads.

I paired Sue's Chicklets with Rachel Bishop's (Puffafish) nuggets - same type of black metallic finish, but a different flash of color.

That's a Cindy Wimmer link connecting all those beautiful beads.

I made the necklace large enough to just slip over the head - no clasp!

I wear a version of these copper hoops almost daily, so I added one to my shop.

The brass bangles below sold almost as soon as I listed them - I love that when that happens (it does not happen often!)  

I also found a new shop on Etsy, courtesy of a shout out by Nikki of Love Root.  Look at these gorgeous, crusty, ancient looking relics!  These are hand made, lead free pewter.  The shop is Inviciti, and I could do some serious damage to my wallet in this shop.

So far, I have only made one pair of earrings with these lovelies, which I topped with a trio of ancient looking Czech Glass beads.

So this is what I have been up to - not sure what I will make next.  I hope you have had a productive week as well!

Thank you for stopping by today - love to read your comments!


Sunday, September 28, 2014

A picture says a thousand words....

Since I began this journey of jewelry making a few years ago, I have struggled with trying to take the perfect picture.  I have tried outdoors in natural light, indoors with a light box, indoors with photo lamps, "white background" images, scrapbook or textured paper background images, books as props, interesting "boards" as props.....the list goes on (and on).  

I have never been happy with the images.  The colors of the beads were always subdued, the metals - especially silver - never appeared true to form.

About a year and a half ago, I purchased a granite stepping stone from my local nursery.  I fell in love with the texture, and I thought it would give a natural "boost" to the images of my jewelry.  Can you see the years of layering on that granite?  Swoon!

After much reading, I decided to try what is called "18% Gray Card" as my background.  It is simply a piece of cardboard with gray at 18 percent saturation. Here is a link to a similar card here - though Amazon carries many types, just shop around.   I actually purchased one months ago, but only used it sparingly.  Here is a picture of the back of the card - You have to click on the image to zoom if you really want to read the fine print!

And this is my current photography setup in my lovely basement studio.

I simply place the jewelry on the "card" and snap away.  I am still using the granite - but only for added height.   I use a Sony Cybershot (this one) that has an automatic macro setting - no zooming required.  I have a tri-pod, but I don't use it.  For some unknown reason, I don't have a problem holding the camera steady.

Personally, I see a HUGE improvement from using Gray Card versus the granite as my background.
Especially on pure metal pieces.

You can actually see the transparency in the glass now in these gorgeous beads by Donna Millard.

The pinks and greens on those beautiful beads were just blah.

I think they pop, now.

Same necklace below - different background.  No more distraction from the granite.

Beads by Kerry Bogert

So, I have spent the last 2-3 weeks retaking photos of every single item in my shop.  Necklaces, in particular, killed me!  I always take 10-15 images of each piece.  The only editing I have had to do is crop once in a while, and resize the image.

I still have a few pair of earrings left to rephotograph. Ugh.

I have made a few new things, too! I recently purchased these beads from Karren Toten of Starry Road Studio.  I was mesmerized by that blue feather!

I wanted to make a long focal, highlighting that feather.  So, I made my very first tab set pendant, something I have wanted to conquer for ages.

I also made the chain links.

Totally in love with how this one turned out!

I also made this bracelet, and I am happy to report that I made another soldered hollow bead and some more riveted chain!  I thought for sure the first time I made that hollow bead it was a fluke!

Beads by Donna Trull

Made a few more bangles, this time I mixed up the metals and added some red brass.  Each bangle has double twists and is riveted, instead of soldered closed.

The earrings below were a test to my patience!  I twisted solid copper and red brass together (not easy - at least for me!), balled the ends, and made slender sticks.  I topped these with some gorgeous mini lampwork beads by Beads and Botanicals.

So, I saunter on, continuing to edit pictures.  It is so beautiful outside - I am sure there is a lawn chair calling my name!

Thanks so much for stopping by today - feel free to leave any photography tips I may have missed!  I LOVE to get new tips and hints!