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!


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

New stuff

Do you ever have a hard timing naming, your jewelry, or your blog title?  Sigh...I do.

Anyway, just trudging along here.  I had a sale in my shop last week and one extremely lovely lady purchased 17 items in one fell swoop- talk about shock!  Anyway, Miracle Horse Rescue received a nice big donation last week - thank you to everyone who purchased from me - my best sale ever!

So, I have to fill the shop up!  This is what I have made, the past couple of weeks.

I have been twisting some heavy gauge copper wire lately, just love this look!

This pair features hand cut and textured bead caps, made from scraps, and lovely artisan lampwork.  The artisan beads were gifted to me from Sue Kennedy, though she is not positive of the maker.  Thank you, Sue!

The earrings above are the LONGEST earrings I have ever made, LOL! I soldered some sterling balls to the bottom - which I melted from scrap silver and then textured with my hammer.  Though long, these are incredibly lightweight - so slender, that the length is actually more dramatic than a heavier earring, if that makes any sense!

The pretty Bali Beads I added make for a great mixed-metal look.

These gorgeous turquoise baubles (love that name) from Scorched Earth have been topped with some handmade charms.  I cut some ovals from copper sheet, hand stamped, and then added just the slightest curve - so much more dimension than if the charm was left flat.

More Scorched Earth!  The intensity of the blue is just amazing.  These Czech Glass nuggets matched perfectly, too.

Kristi Bowman makes beautiful components!  Those above are made from white copper clay - so reminiscent of antiqued silver or pewter!

The bracelet above features a gorgeous lampwork focal handmade and donated to me by Mallory Hoffman.  The colors are fantastic for this time of year, too!  I have been making quite a bit of this handmade, mixed metal chain lately.

I made another bracelet with copper tubing - the first one sold.  This time around, it is truly mixed metal, right down to the chain.  See...more of this chain!

The bracelet above features a beautiful focal made by Lea Avorch.  I won this bead from a Facebook Group that was having a giveaway.  My pictures do not do justice to this lovely bead - the silvered ivory base looks like rock, and the green swirls of glass look like gemstones. Flashy!  The two, peridot green lampwork beads on the sides were part of the gift of beads I received from Sue - thanks again, Sue!

Bangles will always be my favorite jewelry item to make - I don't know might be all that banging of the metal!  These bangles feature two twists - so happy I figured out the mathematics for how to do this!

I usually solder the bangles closed, but this time, I tried rivets.  Love, love, love these!  That little rivet brings even more texture to the bangle, and I am always yearning for more texture!

A couple of blog posts ago, I posted pictures of my completed Riveted Circle Link necklace.  Well, I felt confidant yesterday, so I made a sterling silver bracelet.  This time, the bracelet links are much smaller than the necklace links.  I LOVED making the bracelet, but man, it is a lot of work  - and worth it! :)

I even felt brave enough to solder the little jump rings that are attached to the toggle - love how this one turned out!  It is intended for a friend, if I ever get around to putting it in the mail!.

This sterling silver riveted bracelet above is 100% inspired by Deborah of Cold Feet Studio.  OMG - her work is no less than A.M.A.Z.I.N.G, and she also donates all her proceeds from her jewelry sales to Charity.  Recently, she posted this tutorial on her blog, which I did not even see until two or three days after I started the riveted copper necklace.  So inspiring was this post, that I knew I had to attempt the bracelet!

Anyway, this is what I have been up to lately.  Tomorrow, summer returns for hopefully one last hurrah (interpretation: hot and humid), and then the temperatures will DROP.  Yeah!  Sarge and I love Fall weather the best...actually, give me snow and I am happy!  Friday I will be in the dental chair for hours - I broke a 5-tooth bridge two weeks ago, and the Quick Fix by dentist did not work.  Ugh.

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


Monday, September 1, 2014

Thanks to Susan Kennedy, I have the Blues...

Blue beads, that is!  Remember these gorgeous blue beads I ordered from Sue Kennedy of SueBeads?

I finished making my bracelets to be donated to Global Genes/7000 Bracelets for Hope.

The bracelet above features gorgeous beads with an ombre effect - I really love this look!

All of the bracelets are adjustable, with either a lobster clasp, or handmade chain and a toggle.

Ombre again - swoon! :)

The mottled blue in the beads above is so romantic!

Sue made two sets of beads (above and below) with the same gorgeous hues of blue, but one set had round beads, and one set had square beads.  I simply split them up.

The bracelet above was made with heavy gauge, square copper wire that I first twisted.  I try to put a little charm on each bracelet, i.e., hope, believe, etc.  I did not have any copper charms, so I made a tiny disc of copper and stamped it with the word HOPE, then slightly domed the disc.

Several bracelets have mixed metals - a look that I have grown to absolutely adore.

In addition to my favorite blue beads in the bunch (gorgeous swirls of blue and white that remind me of the sky), I added my handmade copper hollow bead to the bracelet above.

The last bracelet, above, was made with red brass.  It takes a liver of sulfur patina quite nicely, unlike "regular" yellow brass.

Thank you again to Sue Kennedy - who made magic with the words "please make me 10 sets of blue beads and use your imagination"!  Never fails!  You can visit Sue's shop on Etsy here .  She also has a website with a HUGE portfolio of gorgeous beads that she will custom make just for YOU - visit her website here.

I noticed that the Global Genes/7000 Bracelets for Hope Blog has not been updated in over a year.  So, I wrote them and asked if they were still taking donations - and they are!  If you would like to send a bracelet or two to be worn by a patient or Mom of a child who has been stricken with a rare disease, they can be sent to the following at any time:

Amy Grover
Global Genes
28 Argonaut, Suite 150
Aliso Viejo, CA 92656

Lastly, I am having a little sale in my shop - no coupon required!

I hope you enjoy the rest of your Labor Day weekend - it was hotter than you-know-what yesterday, and today is not much better - gonna stay in my basement studio until the sun sets!  

Thank you for stopping by!!


Tuesday, August 26, 2014


So, my niece Rachel was due to give birth to her first born son on August 12th - he did not arrive until August 19th at 12:04 am, and in my humble opinion, he was worth the wait!  Welcome to the newest member of my family, Gavin Tyler Morris (8 lbs 12 oz and 22 inches long).

I am a terrible photographer - most of my pictures (other than jewelry) are taken with my I-Phone, and they are not publish-worthy!  Gavin is the spitting image of his father and just ADORABLE!  Love at first site!

On Sunday, Gavin met his only cousins-to-date (on Rachel's side of the family, that is), Ollie and Evie.  They were celebrating their 1 year birthday - I cannot believe one year has passed since these little tiny squirts said hello to the world!

Their Aunt Jacki made them their very own Squash Cakes - and it was their first Sugar Rush!  Evie needed no direction whatsoever (she is half Vanderbloemen, of course!).

Ollie had fun playing with the butter cream icing.  My nieces sure make the most beautiful babies!!!

While waiting for Gavin to arrive last week, I finally finished my riveted chain necklace.  This baby is 30 inches long - the picture below is before I added patina.

It is so lightweight and comfortable!  I can definitely see this layered with another necklace, as well.  Not sure what took longer - making each link or buffing off the patina!

I needed another learning experience to keep me busy, so I went to the Cratsy blog again for inspiration (this post in particular)   Ema Kilroy hit another home run with me with this bracelet.

Each "washer" is is different  - different hole size in the middle, different texture applied to each disc.  This feels so good on the wrist and was so much fun to make!  Thanks, Ema!

A month or so ago, I realized it had been some time that I had made some bracelets to donate to the 7000 Bracelets for Hope Campaign.  The bracelets, sponsored by Global Genes, are donated by artisans and given to either patient or parent advocates of those suffering from rare diseases. - a truly worthy cause!  So, I immediately turned to my all time favorite lampwork bead artist - Sue Kennedy to go bead shopping.  Her beads are ALWAYS consistently beautiful - color, size and shape!  All I had to do was say "please make me 10 sets of blue beads" and of course, she delivered!  Aren't these yummy!

I received these last week and have so far completed 5 of the 10 bracelets.  I will post pictures when I am done!

Last - but not least - I FINALLY tackled a project I have wanted to try for eons.  About a year and a half ago, Jo Tinley wrote a tutorial for making hollow beads (in copper) published on the Art Jewelry Elements blog.  I kept this tutorial in the back of my mind for so long, that I actually tried it this morning.  I am happy to say it was successful! 

I thought for sure I would ruin it - but, there I go thinking again!  I have not added patina yet, as I am going to add this as a design element for one of my blue 7000 Bracelets.  Many thanks to Jo for her tips, and for Art Jewelry Elements for sharing!

I sure hope it works when I try this again! :)

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