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!


Friday, August 7, 2015

Time sure flies when...

you are busy!  Since my last post - over 3 weeks much has been going on.  I spent a week in Florida - Captiva Island, to be specific.  Several of my family members rented a very nice, very large house that sat smack dab on the Gulf of Mexico.  If you are not familiar Captiva Island, it's located just west of Ft. Myers in Southern Florida.

Map Source

The house was beautiful, complete with requisite palm tress and grasses.

Front of the house, which had a very long secluded driveway
Back of the house, which faced the Gulf of Mexico.  It had a roof top deck too - way too hot for me!
It truly did not matter the time of day...the views were always spectacular!

Down in Florida - well every "vacation" spot I have been to where homes are rented - the houses have names.  The name of this house was appropriately named Paradise.  

Bird of Paradise - poolside!

As I have mentioned before, my folks lived in Florida - just south of Tampa - for 25 years, so I have been to the beaches before.  I will say this, the sand in St. Petersburg is "softer" and much, much whiter.  The sand in Sanibel/Captiva is actually quite rough.  Perhaps it is the abundance of sea shells!  The area is known for its amazing sea shells!  Amazingly, Gavin did not seem to mind the roughness of the sand!

 I, on the other hand, preferred this water...under the umbrella, of course!

As much as I despise the heat, it was very nice to spend extended time with my family.  I was the only one to return home with pasty white skin! :)

I have managed to make a few pieces of jewelry, and am especially smitten with silver bezel setting lately.  Each one I make gets a little bit easier than the last!


Kingman Mine Turquoise
Love this one, too - an agate donut suspended in copper with NO solder! :)

I made this custom necklace for a friend - gorgeous pewter cross from Inviciti - and a hand wrapped, copper chain that took forever ... but it was worth it - I love it!  She must have changed her mind about purchasing, as it is still sitting in my shop.  Hopefully, someone else will claim it and give it some love!

More spinner bangles!  Gosh, these are a blast to make!!

In June of this year, I sent a bunch of jewelry to another horse rescue - B&C Equine.  She has sold quite a few pieces to her supporters right off of her Face Book page - yeah!  A few years ago, B&C Equine assisted Miracle Horse Rescue (MHR) in providing temporary food/shelter/etc. for two special horses acquired by MHR - Bradylynn and Pava.  Brenda took such good care of these ladies until their final transport to MHR.  I will be forever grateful for her efforts!  So this week, I am sending off a few more items with hopes that the proceeds will yield another bale or two of hay.

So - it has been a busy Summer and I am SO LOOKING FORWARD to Fall and Winter - my kinda weather! :)

Thanks so much for stopping by today - enjoy your weekend!!


Friday, July 17, 2015

Book Review!

Today is my day to post over at the Love My Art Jewelry Blog.  A couple of weeks ago, I received my copy of Handcrafted Metal Findings, by Denise Peck and Jane Dickerson.  This is a wonderful book, chock full of ideas for creating the bones of a design: headpins, bezels, bead caps, connectors, etc.

I SO prefer to make my own findings as opposed to using the mass produced ones! I managed to make a few completed designs, utilizing some of these techniques.

Hop on over to the Love My Art Jewelry blog spot for more details!

Have a wonderful weekend...thanks for stopping by today!!


Monday, July 6, 2015

Where have I been???

Oh my, but it has been a while since I have blogged!  Shame on me!

Well, my niece, her husband, baby and their precious pup Griffin moved out of my house and into their new home last week.  Their home is absolutely gorgeous, and I wish them many, many years of happiness in their new digs!

While my blogging has been sparse, I have managed to make a few new things, though, including a few new spinner rings.

The brushed sterling silver, below, is a new favorite texture!

The bracelet below was tough! I was feeling brave and wanted to try and make a sterling silver bangle from 6 gauge wire - the thickest wire I had ever used in the past (silver) was 8 gauge.  Oh my - it was touch and go there for a while - lol!  Lots of annealing was involved in forming this baby.  I thought the hard part was going to be torching - wasn't sure the heat was hot enough with my torch - but the soldering was the easy part!

I wrote a blog post today on the Love My Art Jewelry blog, where I discussed working with copper tubing.  A hollow bangle!  But, the walls of the tubing are not thin nor weak- I had a lot of fun wrangling this into a bangle!

The necklace in the next two photos features a focal made with copper tubing, and a new-to-me technique involving sterling silver cross-pins.  Truth be told, the first few attempts were a complete fail, but I was determined!

I wanted to use that focal piece in a bracelet with wire - but with the cross pins, you cannot put wire through the focal!  So, I had to dig (and I mean DIG) out my beading wire and crimps - a technique I have not used in a long, long, time.  That necklace was 4 different bracelets before it ended up in its final state!

The earrings below are my favorite!  Since the "copper tubes" are not curved and only an inch long, I was able to maneuver the sterling wire around the cross-pins. I also soldered little jump rings to the ends - love this mixed metal look! These remind me of bullet casings.

A few weeks ago, I made a few hollow sterling silver beads - waiting for the "next perfect match" to make a necklace.  Well, they went into this bracelet instead.  Gorgeous purple-hued Ammonite lampwork beads by Sue Kennedy (her shop is here).  My love of "no bead the same in a set" continues! The hollows remind me of clam shells, so I think this is a perfect "Beach" bracelet.

Lastly, one of my favorite new necklaces, featuring lapis, sodalite, sunset dumorlierite, some more hollow beads, and an incredible pewter cross by Vincent Cav (his shop is here). 

I am sure that I have made more jewelry since my last posting, but I don't want to bore you with all those pictures!

Since I usually end my posts discussing the weather (why do I do that??), let's just say it is Summer - Hot, Humid, Sticky...yuck!  We have had an inordinate amount of rain here in Northern Virginia, usually in the form of nasty thunderstorms.  Sarge DOES NOT appreciate this!  Wish I could send this rain to California!

Thank you so much for stopping by today!