Saturday, April 30, 2016

Popular Necklace Revisited

 And continuing from where previously left off....
the newly resettled labradorite cabochon
 became the featured pendant in today's new necklace from my workbench.
The textured bezel
 was soldered on to a piece of copper that I had etched a few weeks ago.
Holes were drilled for necessary connections
and the chain was fabricated by wire wrapping handmade copper links with segments of chain, crystals and faceted labradorite beads.
Maybe the disappointed customer who missed out on the fraternal twin will like this option.
Maybe not...
but I'm thinking that this necklace will find a new home soon.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Popular Necklace

I received a message from the Manager of one of the shops that carries my jewelry.
The labradorite necklace that I had delivered last month caught the attention of numerous customers.
One of those customers left the shop, 
regretted not buying the necklace and returned a few days later only to find that someone else also found it irresistible and went ahead and made the purchase.
Yay necklace!
The disappointed customer wanted to know if there was another one available.
Lucky for her...
the initial necklace was made with one of the 5 labradorite cabochons that I had purchased at one of last year's bead shows.
As is typical,
I must ponder ad nauseam over special materials before comitting them to a project
and still had 4 labradorite cabochons on my workbench.
I said that I would definitely make another necklace and that it would be similar to, but not a copy of the original piece.

Work began and I was thankful to have my new tripod as I soldered the bezel on to an etched base.
The soldering went beautifully...
the solder flowed, making full contact between the two pieces.
Then came time to set the stone.
I made my own bezel wire out of copper that had been textured with one of my steel stamps.
It was perfectly sized...
all right, maybe it could have been a tiny bit larger.
The bezel had been annealed, but it quickly work-hardened as I persuaded it into shape with my bezel roller.
I soon found myself with a couple of bezel bumps that I could not smooth out....
not acceptable.
It was time to admit defeat and remove the stone so that I could start over.
Easier said than done!
Removing a stone from a super snug setting required careful finess.
it was more like copper carnage.
I basically shredded the bezel and was able to remove the labradorite while keeping it unblemished.

For my second attempt,
I ran the copper through my rolling mill to achieve a thinner gauge...
which would be easier to manipulate with the bezel roller.
The mill warped the strip of copper...
but I was able to use my metal guillotine to cut parallel edges.

The bezel was shaped again
and successfully soldered onto the base...
and this time,
was properly persuaded to hug the labradorite in its new resting place.
Now I can work on assembling the necklace.

And now for something completly different...
my two favorite pliers decided to break their springs within days of each other.
What the heck?!
I have nice (code for expensive) jeweler's pliers that I use for particular tasks,
but these Ace Hardware pliers are my go-to tools 
that I prefer when I need to do some serious metal manipulation.
I love the design...
they feel perfect in my hands
but not so perfect when the spring is broken.
Fisher's Ace Hardware was awesome...
they replaced the newer set of now-springless pliers for free.
I bought a second set and I'm now back in business with a couple of my favorite pliers to help me make this new labradorite necklace.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Clementine Necklace

BeadFest was in town last week, and I went to purchase materials...
some that I needed 
and some that I just wanted.

I recently came to realize that I really did need a 
soldering tripod...
to help me avoid some of my workbench disasters.
The tripod will let me focus an acetylene flame on the bottom of a piece of metal to which I'm soldering a more fragile bezel.
In theory, the solder will be drawn downward, toward the heat and I won't melt my bezel,
as I have been known to do.
A new tripod is at my soldering statio,
waiting to be tested.

I move through BeadFest very quickly to avoid expensive temptation.
I have an abundance of supplies at my workbench,
so I don't really need more beads, stones or cabochons.

something caught my eye as I passed one of the vendors who had multiple table tops covered with thousands of beads.
One strand of large, orange ceramic beads made me stop.
At 1 1/4" diameter, these beads reminded me of luscious, juicy clementines.
they had to come home with me.

Fresh off my workbench...
my first clementine project
featuring handmade, etched beadcaps,
clasp and links made from recycled copper wire,
and wire wrapped citrine, flourite and vintage glass beads.

Monday, April 11, 2016

In Bloom

While I love that I chose a few years ago to explore painting as one of my creative outlets, the process of getting from an idea to a finished product is often a real struggle for me.

This particular struggle began a few months ago when I bought flowers for my dining room table and did the typical photo documenting for my file "Things I Might Want to Paint Someday".
It's not the best photo...taken in my kitchen with late afternoon sun coming in through the window and some haphazard white poster boards propped up for background and light reflection....
but, I kind of liked the balance of the composition.
This might have stayed in my file for months, maybe years if not for the prospectus that one of the local art centers distributed for an upcoming show titled
'In Bloom'.
Since I made the resolution that 2016 would be My Year,
I'm entering everything that I can to increase visibility of my paintings and jewelry.
I thought,
"Oh yeah...I'm definitely painting that somewhat OK photo of those dining room flowers."

As part of my ongoing commitment to austerity,
I recently bought a painting at one of the local thrift stores.
The painting was pretty dreadful, but the canvas was quite lovely.
I liked the somewhat unusual 18" x 18" size
and the perfect price of $3.00.
I started to block out my flowers directly on top of  the previous painting, appreciating the fact that some of the previous brush strokes would become part of my work.

With the general mass laid out,
I began to give more definition to shapes and colors.

The color palette was developed further as I considered shadows and depth.
At this point I asked for some advice and got a blistering critique.
Those inner voices that constantly tell me,
"You suck at this!"
felt smugly validated,
but I knew that I could learn from my areas of weakness.

Brights and darks were developed...
the jar grew to be more believable,
but what was I thinking with that purple blend in the background?

The unfortunate purple was toned down...
highlights were added to the foliage and to the jar.

Calling it done 
just in time to be delivered to Wayne Art Center later this week.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Bracelet Redo Part Two

I had an amusing Part Two to 
that I wrote about last year.

I had made two bracelets at the same time, 
using parts of a photo that was included in a flea market find...
a treasure trove of vintage black & white photographs.

The photo in question looked like it could have been from the Dustbowl Era of the 1930's
with a small group of people gathered at the stoop of a dilapidated house.
I was drawn to the image because of the somber suggestion of perseverence.

One shop had a bracelet with the image a man who I thought of as a hybrid of James Dean and Tom Joad.
After too many people commented on how creepy they found the image,
I was asked to do a redesign....
which I did.

When I made last week's delivery to another shop,
a favor was asked.
I had forgotten that this second shop had the second bracelet, featuring the female from the photo who I think of as
Grim Grandma.
the bracelet was still there because their customers also found the image to be a bit creepy. 
Just like before, I was asked if I could swap out the resin-set image for a bezel-set stone.
I like to keep the shops happy, so I said,
"No problem."
The bracelet came home with me,
but when I brought it to my workbench,
I realized that I didn't really want to make the change.
There's a genuine kinship I feel with this woman.
Her image suggests to me that no matter what hardship life presents,
it can be faced
and life will continue.

I contacted the shop and asked if we could do an even swap with another bracelet.
They agreed. 
An alternative was sent out 
Grim Grandma is now part of my permanent, personal collection.