Mimi and her girls

Mimi and her girls
Mimi and her girls

Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays !!!!!

I wanted to be sure to say a huge thank you to all my customers and friends for a super holiday season and to say Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas,  Happy Hanukkah and Happy Kwanza. Whatever or however you celebrate the season be safe, enjoy friends and family and take time to relax and enjoy.

My shop http://www.etsy.com/shop/PPennee is still showing goodies for sale, but I am officially on vacation for a few days until December 26th. I had such a lovely holiday season, with wonderful understanding customers and packages that all seemed to arrive at their proper destination. (Heaves a big sigh of relief over that). I made a few new things just for the holidays and did some custom items I thought turned out just great. Check out the gold stack ring set- ordered by an engaged couple for his mom and her future mother-in-law
 I also had a special request to do a spoon ring- of all things it seems these are very popular still

 But best of all, I got an early Christmas present, my new granddaughter Alexandra Rose born on December 8. Ally is very happy to be loved by many but is especially enthralled with her big sister Olivia who sings to her and tells her stories.

I am looking forward to a full week of time spent with my family (off from the full time job too!!!!) and getting back to the bench after the holidays.

Wishing you all a fantastic holiday!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I Have A Winner!!!

I am excited to announce the winner of my very first blog give away! Congratulations to Lauren S who is the winner of my sterling floral pattern bangle. Lauren's name was chosen from using a random drawing program on random.org. I have made this drawing entrant accessible so anyone who entered can verify their participation but not see the names of the other entrants. Any entrant can go to http://www.random.org/draws/details/?draw=8009 and check to make sure I didn't miss their entry.  I had a total of 60 entries!!!

I have e-mailed Lauren this morning to notify her . Lauren has 3 days to get back to me to accept her prize. If I don't hear from her, the second name from the drawing will be posted here on my blog and on my facebook business page  https://www.facebook.com/AllWiredUpJewelryDesigns

I appreciate all who took time to enter my give away and to visit my new website http://www.allwiredupjewelrydesigns.com/ . I do hope some or all of you will come back to shop or visit to see new items as I add them.  Gift giving season is upon us - it always gets here so fast!!!!

Thank you all for participating!!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

My Very First Blog Give Away

I know, I know- I am really bad about chatting here on my blog. I am promising myself to do better after my daughter presents me with my new grand baby in December. In the meantime, I'm still working full time, trying to create new jewelry and just keep up with the daily grind. But- I have finally got my website http://www.allwiredupjewelrydesigns.com looking pretty much the way I want. Now all I need is for people to find me on a regular basis. So I'm going to do a give away- a lovely piece of jewelry made by me just for you, the WINNER!

First and foremost - what you will win is one of my favorite and most popular bangles the Floral Pattern Bangle.  I will make this in your size and shape in round or oval, your choice and finish in shiny as shown or oxidized to bring out the detail of this lovely pattern.  I am choosing this bangle because the company I purchase the wire from has discontinued it- there won't be any more of these made when my supply is gone. This makes this just a little more special because no one anywhere can make one like it!
  If you'd like to read the details about the bangles and see the options you can take a look on my site by clicking this link: http://shop.allwiredupjewelrydesigns.com/Sterling-Floral-Pattern-Bangle-95.htm

Since my blog isn't updated as often as I'd like, I will be posting my giveaway on Facebook and Tweeting about it also.  Giveaway starts today, Oct 8 and ends at midnight Halloween - Oct 31. I will draw the winner on November 1 and announce the winner here on my blog!

How To Enter The Giveaway

Giveaway is open worldwide to entrants at least 18 years old. I will be pulling a number from my random.org top hat after 11:59pm EST on November 1, 2011, and the corresponding commenter will win! Pennee will contact that lucky soul for a mailing address. If she doesn't hear back from the winner within 3 days, a new number will be drawn.

Mandatory Entry: Gaze around All Wired Up Jewelry Designs website shop then comment on this post with your favorite handmade item and a way to contact you, preferably an email or facebook user name. If e-mail is used, this is a secure site and no e-mail addresses are shared or otherwise used. Random.org deletes all e-mail addresses entered at the completion of the drawing.

Extra Entries: Don't forget the mandatory comment before moving on to these! Please leave a separate comment for each extra entry to count.

1. Like that same item on your facebook page and include the link when commenting. Don't forget to use @allwiredupjewelrydesigns so I can see!!!!

2. Buy anything from my All Wired Up Jewelry Designs Website! Use coupon code NewSite15 at checkout to receive 15% off your order $20 and over (before coupon). Make sure to comment on my blog for anything you purchase, every $20 you spend is an extra entry! Please leave me  message when you check out!

3. Like this giveaway on facebook by using the like button on the right side bar of this post OR share it on your facebook page and comment with the link.

4. Like All Wired Up Jewelry Designs page on facebook for one extra entry.

5. Follow Ppenne on twitter. 1 entry

6. Tweet ONCE about the giveaway using the one below or a variation of your own. Leave a comment with the link.

Enter @all wired up jewelry designs #handmade #Halloween #giveaway to #win Floral Pattern Bangle

7. Spread the word! Pin this giveaway  to Pinterest. Click to share this giveaway on Stumble Upon, Technorati, Digg, or Del.icio.us. I'll honor one entry for every networking website you share it on, just make sure to leave separate comments for each.

8. Follow my blog!!!!

Please don't forget- I need a comment for each thing you do and an e-mail address or username so I can put you in random.org for this drawing!!!!

I am very excited about doing this give away. If for some reason you are not a bangle wearer and you win- we can certainly work out something so you get something you love for the same value!!!!!

Can't wait to see who wins!!

Monday, July 25, 2011

What I'm Working On

Here it is almost another month and with all the crazy things that happen in life, no time to blog! My Aspiring Metals Team makes me get off my duff periodically with Project Blogroll which is the teams way of saying- write something about what's going on in your shop! This month we have an exciting bunch of posts (links below) of what some of my aspiring teammates are up to in their shops - what are they working on!!! Loads of fun things- please browse through and see some amazing art and the steps it takes to get a finished piece of fine jewelry.

Hopefully, many of the items I am working on will be found in my shop http://www.etsy.com/shop/PPennee very soon! At least that's my hope.

My big news this month is that I finally bought a kiln so I could do more work in Precious Metal Clay - having the kiln should make my life a lot easier and I should get a much more consistent product. In order to create with metal clay, many people use templates, stamps, texture plates. Some sculpt and hand carve every piece. I love making molds with Sculpty Clay. I see a cool leaf, a sea shell or even a twig, I mold it- never know when it might come in handy . I also love to use leftover clay from filing and just dry pieces that inevitably appear. I make a slip with the dry particles and then coat real leaves from my garden which I will then fire to create jewelry. Below are some of my molds and also a picture of some leaves in the process of being coated with slip. It always amazes me that when fired, you can see every single vein in a leaf!

The hen scratched mold at the top is my own hand creation of a cherry blossom branch, to the right is part of a nautilus shell, a coleus leaf and a ginkho leaf. All will eventually be pendants or earrings, some set with stones, some just pretty silver!

Love the leaves- learned a trick on my Metal Clay Heads team that it you tape the leaf to something when you start coating it with the silver slip- it won't curl up on you and crack! Cracked silver is not a good thing at all! The top two heart shaped leaves are from a redbud tree from this spring, the small one and much longer one are from a verbena plant and the last one is from a tree I walked by and liked the leaf- not quite sure what it is!

I also have a series of pendants that have been on the bench way too long waiting for me to have a day to decide how I want to finish each one and put the finishing touches on. The series will all have a different textured back plate to complement the stone and or the design of the final project. For starters I chose a pear shaped labradorite decorated with trim that I think makes it look like a birds tail feathers. So my plan is to oxidize the back plate, the dangle some oxidized chains from a hole I will drill in the bottom center feather then add some tiny moonstone, labradorite and aquamarine briolettes to make a really interesting pendant.  The ocean jasper with it's great little orbs of color will have a pretty gemstone on the bail I create for it and the oval labradorite still hasn't told me what it wants to be!

I always enjoy making rings and I'm am way low on labradorite rings in my shop so here's a few in process.

I always seem to be doing something with flush set (aka gypsy set) gemstones lately. Since I've learned how to do it, I feel like I need to keep doing it so I don't forget how! Silly I know, but practice makes perfect. Below is a heavy band ring with a custom order for a 2mm center hot pink sapphire with two 2mm black diamonds on either side.   This combo would not have been my choice, but the buyer was adamant that she had to have it exactly like this so who am I to argue!  Just waiting for my little diamonds to arrive!
 I hope you've enjoyed seeing a little piece of what's on my bench- there's always something in some stage or another of being created and I love being able to walk to the bench and say- who wants to be finished today? He who squeaks me, me me- gets picked!

I hope you will take some time and read some of the other blogs posted below. You'll see some amazing projects and beautiful artwork from my Aspiring Metals Team!

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Big Prong Ring

Have you ever seen something, anything crafty, that you wanted to do and just didn't quite know how. Then you search and search for directions, not knowing exactly how to word your search, you get tons of stuff you aren't even interested in. Then you land on something that sort of makes the grade! Woohoo- you have a starting place!

That's sort of the story of "The Big Prong Ring". I just love prong settings. I read all the tutorials and books, and in theory, I knew just what to do.  Problem was, every time I tried, I was working on something small and delicate and I would just totally melt things toward the end. I decided prongs just weren't going to be my forte. Then I saw a few rings, rather rustic looking, but with larger prongs, these looked very doable. Before I got around to trying the rustic route, I got my copy of the July 2011 Art Jewelry Magazine- WOW- Joanna Gollberg http://www.joannagollberg.com/, the queen of prong setting, had done a tutorial. I was in heaven. This woman has some of the most beautiful work I have ever seen. totally my taste. I couldn't wait to dive in and read the instructions.

Instructions were great, but I didn't want to be a copy cat, so I had to come up with my own version of her gorgeous ring http://www.artjewelrymag.com/Resources/Contact%20and%20Suppliers/2011/04/Art%20Jewelry%20July%202011.aspx  on the front cover.

I started by pulling out this huge emerald cut rutilated quartz with chlorite inclusions. It was perfect for a big prong ring, set up high on a sturdy band. I got out the biggest wire I could handle and created the frame, cut big heavy half round wire and soldered it in place.
So, now I had to think of something to solder the prongs to- what would make a great looking base, not take away from the great looking rutiles in my stone and not be so big and cumbersome that no one would ever consider wearing it?? I took a trip to my local supplier, Terra Firma in Baltimore, and he had some nice reticulation silver. That's the stuff that's 80% silver and 20% copper. The copper makes it very strong and you heat, cool and pickle the piece about 10 times in order to get fine silver to come to the surface and all the copper stuff to go away. It leaves an awesome pattern on the front and back of your little piece of silver. The best thing is no two pieces of silver ever look the same after reticulation- so this is one of a kind even if someone else made the exact same ring!
Soldering flat bottom prongs to  bumpy surfaced silver is not an easy task! There was one prong just a hair shorter than the rest- even though I measured- so I had to keep bending the silver base up until it touched the prong perfectly with no gap and re-solder that one prong. This took more than one attempt I am not embarrassed to say- this was a first for me, so I learned lots along the way!
Finally finished!! I know you can't see from this picture, so I'll add another, but the setting is elevated above the base. Getting these big prongs to close was nother challenge- OMG, I pushed and pushed and they wouldn't lay down. I finally used a bezel pusher as a punch and tapped down the tops. Who knew you had to be so strong to make jewelry?
Sorry for the little fuzzy on the side, I think my cat, who was very interested in photos, must have been looking to close when I set this on the counter! So now you can see the side with just enough space under to make it interesting.

What was really nice, I had leftover reticulated silver so I made this cute little pendant with leftovers. I feel so self satisfied when I use stuff I already have and don't have to start fresh! And, I got to do those cute little rustic prongs I want to try too!

Hope you enjoyed the little story of my journey into the deep dark secrets of prong setting. Thanks to Art Jewelry magazine and Joanna Gollberg for sharing her wonderful technique!!!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Couple Firsts for Me!

I guess the most important first for me was my granddaughter's first ever dance recital last night! She was such a little trouper, all dressed in her costume, up on stage in front of a full house audience at the high school auditorium, she never got the least bit nervous. Now her mom and I, different story. So, being Mimi first, and jewelry designer second, I have to share a picture of just how cute my little ballerina looked for her (and my) first dance recital!

This was after she was finished, holding her little ballerina bouquet.

My other first this week was to finally bite the bullet and add real gold to my Etsy shop http://www.etsy.com/shop/PPennee and my new website http://www.allwiredupjewelrydesigns.com/. I'm still refining the website so I haven't started directing traffic there yet- but soon, very soon.
I know I have even posted here about the rising cost of sterling silver, which is now at least below $50 and ounce, but still fluctuating between mid and high 30s per ounce. All the trend this year seems to be gold tones. I just didn't want to add yet another metal to my supplies even though brass is very reasonable. It would still mean buying different solder, wire, sheet and jump rings. I already had some things in gold, I love gold, so I finally decided that gold is one of those forever popular precious metals that no matter what, people will love and buy for someone special. Here is my first little stack ring series. 14K gold tapered bezel with a soft brushed glow atop a heavy sterling band.

You can see all the selections of different stones by clicking on this listing in my Etsy shop:  http://www.etsy.com/listing/75759875/14k-gold-and-sterling-gemstone-stack
I'd love to hear anyone's thoughts or comments about the ring, the customizable features I allow the buyer to decide- whatever, please feel free to comment. I will also be offering these in the standard round shiny gold setting, but wanted to offer something just a little different. I hope you'll like my new little rings!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Design Your Own!!!

I know I am not good at blogging on any regular basis, but today I was inspired by the launch of my new website http://shop.allwiredupjewelrydesigns.com/ which allowed me the capability do do something I have always wanted to do... offer Custom Designed Pendants and Rings!

If any of you have ever shopped my Etsy store http://www.ppennee.etsy.com/, you know that I do a lot of made to order gemtone stack rings, fine silver hoop earrings for everday wear and charm necklaces with a variety of gemstones. I have always wanted to be able to just have one listing with a variety of choices to make it easy for a potential customer to just go in and select what they would like to design their own. Just picture a young woman who wants to give a gift of my Lotus Flower Tag Necklace with a gemstone that matches each of her bridemaids dresses.

She sends me a message asking about what color stones I have, I get back with a list and drag out the camera to take pics so she can see colors and shapes, then she gets back again with what she wants, I create a listing and get back to her and so on. I am sure you can see this isn't conducive to the typical shopper who sees what they want and orders it on the spot and expects to get it in short order!!! We are a nation of spontaneous people who love to see it, touch it and then decide on the spot if we want it. Many of my shoppers have looked around a lot, they know what they want and how much they are willing to spend. Unfortunately Etsy doesn't offer drop down boxes to just go ahead and select a gemstone in the color of our choice. I am happy to say my new website does just that very thing!.

Here is my first attempt at a custom Design Your Own Pendant listing on my website. If you want to go play and see how much fun it is to browse these cool drop down menus here is the link to go play : http://shop.allwiredupjewelrydesigns.com/Design-Your-Own-Pendant-Custom-Designer-Cabochons-56.htm  . I have set up two groups of gorgeous cabochon stones, numbered them, fixed a set price for the work, then I am able to increase or decrease the price for each stone if I happen to have gotten some on sale or if I paid a lot for a rare hard to find specimen stone. Lots of options for chain length, bezel type and the customer can always contact me for a price for extras like beaded wire trim, silver granulation, hand cut designs etc..  I have also done a similar listing for ustom Designed Cabochon Rings, unfortunately I have to retake the photos since I didn't think to number the stones and that still needs work!

Maybe its the pride in finally having a site that's all my own, or just the basic need to be able to do things my own way without "Big Brother" restrictions, I'm not sure, but what I am sure of, is I am a picky shopper and I believe todays on line shoppers are no different.  I miss the old days of personalized service I got at a department store. I used to take a few things into a dressing room and then some lovely sales person would go and hunt for a different size, color, matching scarf whatever I wanted! Now I get dressed at least twice to go on the hunt myself- this does not make me want to stay and buy something! I wanted to be able to be just a little bit better at customer service and I just had too many restrictions on Etsy to be able to offer the level I felt my customers were missing.

Yes, I'll still be on Etsy for a while- very few people have "discoverd" my website. But, I am hopeful that very soon I will have someone stumble in, like what they see and how they are treated and send a few friends my way. Wish me luck!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Why Make My Own Website??

I don't think I can express in words the feeling of joy and pride that I have felt the last two days for just finishing and launching my new website  http://www.allwiredupjewelrydesigns.com/.  I have for so long wanted to be able to print my own shop name on my business cards when I mail out a piece of jewelry, now I can!!!
I have always been happy with Etsy and with my shop and friends I have made, that said, I made the mistake of being a buyer first, then opening a shop so I was stuck with my buyer name. Having a shop  http://www.etsy.com/shop/PPennee really doesn't draw anyone to looking for jewelry to my way of thinking, my real shop name All Wired Up Jewelry Designs is a sub-header under my name. I wanted a real jewelry shop!!

Other reasons to want my own website and shopping venue:
Etsy gets a percentage of every sale I make and a small amount for me to list a new item. If I want my items to stay on the first few pages of a search, I pay to re-list the item which costs me again. The Paypal takes a percentage when a customer purchases something. I told myself over the last few years that this was ok and to think of it as part of my meager advertising budget. But now that silver s approaching $40 and ounce, I feel that having my own website will save me all those fees and I'll be able to hold off from raising my prices to buy more silver to continue filling orders and making new things. If I concentrate on Etsy, I would have to raise my prices or just stop making new things. That just wasn't in the plan!

Reason number 2: It's all mine!  I can set my own shipping policies, return policies and refund policies without the hassle of having to ask Etsy to refund any fees and charges I lost. Privacy- big one for me- I am starting to get concerned that Etsy is trying to become the Facebook of jewelry sales. They want me to join teams and circles and unless my customers are savvy and set up their privacy filters, their purchases could be public knowledge. It's no one's business if you want to order a set of custom stack rings for your Mom for Mother's Day now is it??

Third reason: You don't have to "join" my website! You can just come shop and be done with it. I don't want to join a Nordstrom's Club or even Target- why do I need my customers to sign up with Etsy to shop with me?? Their rules, not mine! Sure, you can register on my website if you like, you can bookmark me, make me a favorite or none of the above, but you don't have to!!! I like that.

Number 4- I think websites make customizing so much easier!!!! In the world of Etsy, if I have a necklace with an 18 inch chain and a garnet faceted briolette trimming it, a potential customer has to "convo" me mutiple times to ask about additional chain length if wanted, other gemstone choices and possible additional costs. All easy peasy on my website- it's all about the little drop down box! The choices are all there and you just check the box for what you want to add, put it together just the way you want and head to check out.
This should give you an idea of how it looks- go ahead and play- you never have to really check out unless you want to! http://shop.allwiredupjewelrydesigns.com/Lotus-Sterling-Tag-Gemstone-Necklace-Customize-It-47.htm.

This stack ring is another example! In my shop, you can choose any stone you want in this 5mm size! A separate listing for 4mm and 6mm with every stone I own listed- so much easier than getting skipped over because I don't have the particular stone listed you are looking for. And yes, I still order a stone you want and I don't have!

http://shop.allwiredupjewelrydesigns.com/Artisan-Sterling-Stack-Rings-5mm-Gemstone-Made-to-Order-15.htm  this is my website listing for all the different possibilities for you to create a special ring in the 5mm size.

Setting up the website was so hard for me to do. I am not a big computer geek. I bugged lots of friends and called the poor help desk at the website daily. But that's a whole different blog to write.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Playing with Color

I had a lot of fun yesterday playing with oxidizing some new pieces I did so I thought I'd share in pictures what I did and talk about what I learned.
First let me say, liver of sulfur stinks! So does ammonia. Unfortunately, in the world of metal and oxidizing, to get pretty color, you have to use one or both in some sort of combination. For many years, dry LOS was the only thing available and it was sold in big containers and came in chunks that you had to break up and add to hot water to dissolve- Phew- the smell- think rotten eggs! And if any moisture got into your supply it turned green and wouldn't work to darken your metal. Luckily someone came up with LOS gel a few years ago and at least the problem of throwing away your ruined supply regularly was solved- it still stinks, but it's very stable and is easy to mix, no punding chunks so it will dissolve.
I don't do huge amounts of jewelry when I play with live of sulfur, mainly because I'm never sure if I'm going to like the results. In hot water LOS will turn sterling or fine silver dark black in about 20-30 seconds. After you get your silver out, you have to dry it and go over it with very fine steel wool to bring up the shine on  the raised areas leaving a very dark background. As you can see from this pendant- it can look very attractive, but it's not for every piece of jewelry.
I've been more and more interested in precious metal clay (PMC) and all the options it allows me to explore. I love anything botanical, flowers, trees, leaves! So I wanted to press some leaves from my garden into my clay and make some earrings and pendants for my shop on Etsy http://www.etsy.com/shop/PPennee. I already had a few pieces I had oxidized with LOS, but they were the dark variety like the pendant below.
I picked some leaves from one of my favorite ground covers, Cranesbill geranium which I love because it gets pretty pink flowers in the spring and summer, but at least where I live in MD, it never really dies back totally. It gets pretty reds and oranges on the leaves in fall and I can still at least see the leaves in winter if the snow isn't too deep. Right now- little green and reddish leaves are popping out all over my plant! I chose to do a round pendant and earrings to match. This is what they looked like after I pressed the leaves, dried and fired and then put them in the tumbler to work harden and shine up a bit.
It always amazes me how much detail you see from a leaf- all the texture, veining, even a little piece of the stem where is picked the leaf from the plant. What I hoped to accomplish was to get some of the color I actually see in the garden and not lose the detail of the leaf.
I knew from previous experiments that hot was not what I wanted, nor was cold. Cold LOS gives you what almost looks like gold- nice, but not what I was aiming for. So I tried luke warm, slightly hotter ( praise for the microwave)- I got a lot of yellow and brown, some red, still not what I wanted. I have lots of team mates on my Aspiring Metals Team on Etsy that work in copper. Many have mentioned using ammonia to get that great green verdigris color that looks so great. So I added a little ammonia, starting with about a teaspoon at a time.
Each time I dipped in my silver it got a little more interesting. Keep in mind, if you don't get what you want, you have to keep cleaning off the piece and taking it back to almost shiny silver to start again! After about 3 tries, medium warm temperature and 3 tsp of ammonia, this is what I got!
I have to say, my leaves aren't blue in the garden, but I was really pleased with the effects I got- and I did get some reds and lavender which i thought looked pretty cool!
  Feel free to comment and let me know what you think. I hope you enjoyed reading a little about playing with color.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Rings and Things - 86 and Counting

It's been too long again since I updated my post early this year on 104 things I wanted to make. So right now I have 86 items to go in the two flickr groups I joined, RAW - ring a week and THAW- thing a week. So here are just a few items I have completed to give you an idea of just how much torching and hammering I've been doing!
This was my first hand made hinge- I got double duty out of this ocean jasper pendant. It was part of THAW and also my entry in the monthy design challenge with the aspiring metals team, this months being Movement. Well, it does move, but I got no where close to winning against architectural structures that spouted water, spinnin g rings and such, but I did learn how to make a hinge and I loved these stones. Ocean jasper always reminds me of colored bubbles kids play with in the tub.

Another THAW entry- again, I got double credit- for myself, because I did a rough prong setting (we all have to start somewhere) and another THAW entry.

Take your breath away? This was sold as fast as I listed it in my Etsy shop. A gorgeous piece of aquamarine rough, again a first for me to set something other than a calibrated cabochon, and this one was a RAW entry.
The last RAW entry I'll show off is what started to be a riveted ring. Rivets are just so versatile  and it's not messy at all to rivet 2 pieces together, unlike soldering with all the flux and pickle and yukky quench water. But, it was not meant to be. No matter what size wire I hammered, I couldn't get the top rivet to be large enough to show that amount of copper I wanted for a pretty contrast. So, I made a copper ball and soldered it onto the sterling wrap ring. Seemed to me that shiny copper just set off the texture perfectly. I did the texture by hammering the silver on the sidewalk before forming. I have this listed in my shop as a made to order item since I think it will be a great casual piece to wear this season.
My last THAW entry- tryng to get more interesting pendants and earrings, I decided on precious metal clay as my medium. I love playing play dough with my granddaughter and this isn't much different- just way more expensive. I made an impression of a pretty dahlia, then used a pmc syringe to create a setting, fired to burn off the clay, which leave almost pure silver (.999 instead of sterling that is .925) and then set a pink CZ in the center.
I just have so many things I want to learn to do with metal and there really is so little time. Hope you enjoyed my little picture update. Wish me luck, I only have 86 more things to make!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Rock On!

I'll bet you thought I was going to talk about music from my title- nope, I'm here to talk about rocks! Big ones, small ones, shiny ones and tall ones! Being part of the Aspiring Metals Team monthly blogroll makes me think about all sorts of fun things that have happened to me since I became a metalsmith. One is an additction to all sorts of rocks. Some talk to me and I know right away what they want to be, a ring, a pendant, part of a bracelet. Some just want me to look at them, they aren't quite ready to speak yet- they are my babies and I can wait patiently until they are ready to say what I need to hear to create something to show their beauty and allow them to go out into the world!

I'll start with big ones and one tall one. These are some of my favorites because I love the colors and movement in them. The big center cherry creek jasper has already spoken- she wants to be a brooch set on a lovely hand stamped piece of silver with vines and hand made cherry blossoms. The poppy jasper in the upper left wants to be a pendant but hasn't mentioned yet what sort of embellishment will suit. The dino bone (yes- real dinosaur bone) is a very reticent stone- refuses to say anything at all. The Botswana agate on the bottom left and the rainforest jasper have started to babble some, but no real direction for me yet!

Next would be the shiny ones. They talk way to much- me, me, me! They all want to be set in a ring all alone so they can sparkle and shine, catch everyone's attention and be adored. It gets really noisy in my studio sometimes as I head to my stone corner looking for a new project. The loudest of these are the apatite- the pretty blue green ones left front- they know they are loved but still must always be first pick!
 Small ones- I love the little guys, shiny and faceted, rough crystals and polished stones. They come to me knowing they will be beautiful rings and sometimes just want to be held and cuddled. They don't have a lot to say, and seem to be very patient to wait until it's their turn. I look for intense defined color in my small stones. Rings are very special and very personal items for the wearer so they must speak to the wearer as well as to me.

Next are just a few of my favorites. I love stones with pictures or that remind me of something I have seen or read. The Bruneau jasper top left reminds me of the book Dune with dark sky and sand everywhere- what's lurking beneath? The Sonioran Sunrise on top is just that- a gorgeous stone that has it's own internal sun that shines all the time. On the botoom right an Owhee Jasper that looks like a big dust storm rolling through the desert and on the left a picture jasper. A lonely outpost in the desert stands sentinel over the cactus and tumbleweed.

So those are just a few of my rocks. I have a bad addiction to rock, so I couldn't possibly show the all or I'd be hogging up way too much blog space. I also want you to have time to visit some of my teammates to see their beautiful stone collections and read their stories, some will really surprise and captivate you!

The Aspiring Metals Team list of stone addicts is below- have fun reading their stories!
Now if you want to see some really exciting collections, check out these links below of the awesome Aspiring Metalsmiths.

Autumn Bradley - http://www.autumnbradley.blogspot.com/
Clarity @ Scrollwork Designs - http://thesquarepegnation.blogspot.com/
Stacy Low - http://www.formandfunktionaccessories.blogspot.com
Chrissi Lynn Designs - http://www.chrissilynn.blogspot.com
Sylvia Anderson - http://www.sylviaanderson.blogspot.com/
Jessica @ Abella Blue - http://www.abellablue.com/blog
Contemporary Jewelry by Beatriz Fortes - http://cjbf.blogspot.com/
Esmeralda - http://jewelry-by-silverblueberry.blogspot.com/
Steph Stargell - http://www.stephstargell.com
Pennee - http://allwiredupjewelrydesigns.blogspot.com/
Silver Pearl Jewelry and Metalworks - http://silverpearlmetalworks.wordpress.com/2011/02/20/show-us-your-stones/#more-4
Claire - brightstar109.blogspot.com/
AristiKat- http://artistikat-scratchingpost.blogspot.com/

Monday, January 24, 2011

How Far Have I Come?

Our Aspiring Metals Team Blog Roll for this month was about showing our early work or even our first work. It made me start to think of how far I have come in such a short time, how much I've learned and how much fun I've had working with metal and creating jewelry that lots of customers own and love.

I think like most metalsmiths, I started with beading then went on to wire wrapping and creating with a combination of stones, gemstones and wire. Well, as much as I thought some of these pieces just rocked, they weren't what I really loved and wanted for myself. Take a look at this- I thought I was the cats meow when I first made this necklace for a New Years party I was attending!

 I called this my Champagne on Ice necklace and boy was I proud of it. Now all I see are mistakes, some messy wire wrapping on some of my stones and definitely not really me!
 But I jumped ahead a bit- my first work was just beading- so string it on, crimp the ends put a clasp on and you've got a necklace or bracelet. Well, it sounds easy, but when I started, my crimps popped off or I didn't know of "crimp covers" that made everything look nice. This is an example of when I conquered crimp covers!

So then I took a fusing class and got totally hooked on playing with the torch. How much fun this was, I could fuse circles, make shapes, bracelets, hammer things, this was great!! But not without pitfalls mind you- lots of melted metal that never fused, lots of bubbles in the metal that made lumpy circles. Ahh- the learning process can be so frustrating. But I finally conquered fusing and did lots of circles, squares, teardrops and ovals!
 This is one of my favorites to this day! This bracelet is fused fine silver which I did solder together. I was already itching to play with more fire!
Then came PMC- metal clay- this is just fine silver in clay form. It really has it's challenges, but so many possibilities. Again- took a class, had a ball- but realized to be really good at this, I would have to take lots more classes and spend an awful lot on a kiln and other supplies. So, I made a few cute charms and a pendant and decided I would put PMC on hold for just a bit. This is my first attempt at a pendant. This was not my design at all- it was made in a class given by Dina Alexander on Etsy  http://www.etsy.com/shop/dinaalexander  and it was her design she allowed me to make since I just oohed and ahhed over how beautiful hers was. And hers is sooo much prettier, but I still loved all the possibilities with texture and dimension.

So now on to my first metal work and the first challenge I ever cried over - I had hearts in mind for earrings. . I was so proud of myself for just being able to make something from scratch. I asked questions, watched you tube videos and made these earrings!
They don't really match- the ear wires would not solder on and stay put- what a mess! At least now I know you saw your earrings out together so they will at least match even if they aren't perfect!!

Now I think I can actually say I make some pretty things but still have a lot of challenges ahead with learning new skills and perfecting those I have under my belt! In fact this is my first attempt at rustic prong setting and I was very pleased with the results!!

I hope you enjoyed taking this little journey with me and I hope if you found my journey interesting at all, you will take a peek and read about some of the others on my team below!
Jessica - http://www.abellablue.com/blog
Clarity - http://www.thesquarepegnation.blogspot.com/
Claire - http://brightstar109.blogspot.com/
Stacy - http://formandfunktionaccessories.blogspot.com/
Pennee - http://allwiredupjewelrydesigns.blogspot.com/
Brandy - http://thefrogspond.wordpress.com/
Gloria - http://gloria-hemlockhollow.blogspot.com/
Joy - http://www.joypeckjoy.blogspot.com/
Autumn - http://www.autumnbradley.blogspot.com/
Gayle - http://www.thisartistsjourney.blogspot.com/
Sylvia - http://www.sylviaanderson.blogspot.com/
Esmeralda - http://jewelry-by-silverblueberry.blogspot.com/

Saturday, January 15, 2011

104 Things I Want To Make This Year

I have lots of goals for my jewelry business and to help me along, I joined to groups this year - RAW and THAW. Sounds nothing like jewelry related organizations, but they are two Flickr groups that have crazy women and men making a Ring A Week or a Thing A Week and posting to the group. Last year someone came up with Ring A Day and I was dumbfounded that anyone could even think of doing this. No way- I have a full time job! But hey, a Ring a week is doable. Then someone on out aspiring metals team said, why not just make a thing a week- not just rings. So, here are the 2 groups - http://www.flickr.com/groups/ringaweek/ for rings and http://www.flickr.com/groups/thaw2011/ for anything and everything else!

My first entry for RAW was one of my favorites to date- a Peruvian pink opal which I have listed in my Etsy shop http://www.etsy.com/listing/65499989/pink-peruvian-opal-ring-size-7-ooak

 So my first THAW entry I had Valentine" Day in mind (as did a ton of other people it seems) so I made  acute little heart necklace with a dainty little pearl.
 And week 2 I submitted this Rainforest Jasper pendant necklace wich has the most amazing colors!
So here I sit now, instead of making my RAW 2 entry, so I have to run, but I hope you'll take time now and then and check out the 2 fun groups and all the great entries!