Monday, December 28, 2015

My Feature In Jewelry Affaire

A few months ago Natalie Way, the lovely editor of Jewelry Affaire magazine, contacted me about doing a feature article for them. I happily agreed, and sent them a small collection of my work. The pieces were based a trip to France I took with my brother Wynn. This work is going to be featured in the Winter 2016 issue. It hits the news stands on January 1st.

Can I admit that I got a little choked up when I saw the article? It's such a huge honor and I am so grateful to Natalie and Christen, and to Stampington in general. I love writing for them.

Bracelet made with 5 strands of vintage chain

There's something magical about vintage components. I don't know exactly what it is.
It might be the fact that they have lived other lives and have been treasured by other people.

I inherited a rather large collection of metal stampings from my brother. 
I am always reluctant to use them. Most of the time I keep the pieces I make with them. 
I am so glad they used this piece for the article.

The hand was cast in solder, a technique I learned from the talented Janet Loomis of Anvil Artifacts. Her tutorial is called "The Easiest Metal Casting You Will Ever Do."
It truly was. Here's the link to her tutorial:

I used Tiffany Green Swellegant Patina directly on the focal bezel for this piece. 
You can buy the patina from Christi Friesen here:

They made the article look so beautiful. The whole magazine is, as always. I feel so happy and grateful when I see my work in Jewelry Affaire.

Since my last post I have been very busy, mostly with the holidays. I came up with more ways to use vintage filigree stampings. One fun experiment began by pressing the stampings into polymer clay to make these pieces:

I ran the clay through the pasta machine on the smallest setting and pushed stampings into the fronts.The images were made using my Microsoft Works program. It's such an easy way to do it. 
The images were covered with epoxy dots and the whole thing went into the dedicated clay oven. 
They were then finished with several coats of Swellegant Iron Paint:

I finished them with Tiffany Green/Rust Patina, which you can find again here:

The product is green when used on some metals. When used with the iron coating it turns a lovely shade of rust. I love the effects I am getting with Christi's Swellegant products!

Here's the back of one of the pieces. I used E6000 to attach the filigree piece. 
I brushed the highlights and parts of the back with a little copper Gilders Paste.

I was on a roll with the filigree, and then Christmas took my attention away for a little while. I decided to make another Christmas tree this year.

This Year's Christmas Tree

There are two different trees on the table. The one in the back is made from parts of a tree that blew down in a windstorm a few years ago. The new one is in front. It's made from a small plant stand, covered by a tomato cage, and is topped with a tree-shaped metal candle holder. The whole thing is covered in ornaments. 

After the new tree was up and decorated, I made some things to submit to Willow & Sage.

Mountain Pepper Salt Soaks
The vines are made with hemp rope, paper leaves, and mulberry flowers. 
The mountain pepper, or May Chang plant, smells like lemons

I hand-stamped the labels, using my 1/4" metal stamps and a black Stazon Pad.
I used Mod Podge to adhere the stamped paper to a piece of vintage dictionary paper,
then a little more to adhere the whole thing to a scrap paper background.

The peppermint salt bars were given packaging made from freezer paper,
tea-stained seam binding, and Tim Holtz word bands.

Then I made a strawberry lemonade milk bath recipe.
I decided it needed shabby chic retro packaging. 
I bought the essential and fragrance oils from Brambleberry. They have wonderful scents.
Seriously. This stuff smells heavenly.

After hand-stamping all of those little tags, I decided it was time to bite the bullet and invest in a vintage typewriter. I've always wanted one. I looked on eBay and found one I loved... a Smith-Corona Silent model from the 1940's. I put it on my "watch" list, but they were asking over $300, which was more than I wanted to spend. As luck would have it, I found the exact model in a nearby antique store with a $55 price tag, so I bought it! 

My new typewriter

The ribbon even works. I put it to good use immediately. Instead of making batches of Christmas cookies this year, I made batches of easy melt-and-pour soaps. I wrapped them in freezer paper, tied them with string, and typed a label for each bar.

Tray of Christmas soap, instead of Christmas cookies!

I think it was a hit... everyone in the family seemed to find at least one scent they liked. I made hot cocoa peppermint, pineapple cilantro, grapefruit, lemon, orange spice, and chipotle caramel. My personal favorite was the clementine cupcake with cream cheese frosting, made in my handmade molds.

I seem to approach bath and body products with the same attitude I have when I am making jewelry. While everyone else is trying to make things as perfect as they possibly can, I am trying to make everything look rustic, even melt-and-pour soaps. 

Now that Christmas is over it's time to clean and reorganize my studio again. I've started with my beads. I'll post photos as I make progress.

The beads in the front are faux amber, made by Leslie Aja. 
I want to use them to make something really special.

To end the year on a very bright note, I've recently discovered the most wonderful writer and poet, Victoria Erickson. I'll leave you here with one of her fabulous quotes:

Friday, November 20, 2015

Making Connections

This has been a busy week! Yesterday I received my contributor's copy of Belle Armoire Jewely. This is a particularly beautiful issue, with lots of varied and wonderful work. I have one article in there this time, entitled "All About Color." I always feel so fortunate when they choose my work for Belle Armoire Jewelry. Here are my earrings from this issue:

All About Color Earrings

I taught a class at The Artist's Clubhouse in Conway last Saturday. We made two different kinds of ornaments, using bullet and shotgun shell casings. These are my friend Tracy's ornaments from my class:

Tracy's Ornaments

Last week was about making new things using the forms I like to use... pushing the envelope. This week has been about making wire links and connections. After teaching my class, I spent the rest of the week concentrating on making chains and links. I made four simple sets, each with a different color theme. I made some of the links that are featured in Cindy Wimmer's wonderful book "The Missing Link." The others are just variations of the links and connections I've learned to make over the years. 

While I was going through some unsorted beads, I found a handful of handmade charms, mostly made by me. At first I thought they would look nice on a bracelet, but as I laid them out on the table I decided they would make a nice charm necklace instead.

Charm Necklace

The central chain is from the book "The Missing Link." The soft leather cord is attached to the rings with simple lark's head knots, and then I wire-wrapped the ends and attached a handmade wire clasp. I made all of the charms with the exception of the two enameled sticks. Those were make by Kim from Numinosity Beads. Kim makes wonderful beads.

Here are the sets I made over the course of the week:

Copper Wire Set In Blue

Copper Wire Bracelet

Copper Wire Set In Green

Copper Wire Necklace - Detail

Copper Wire Bracelet In Green

Copper Wire Set In Purple

Copper Wire Necklace - Detail

Copper Wire Bracelet In Purple

Silver Plated Wire Necklace Set - Beach Themed

I used some of those shells I drilled last week. I actually crocheted all of the little white strands, using very fine crochet thread.

Detail - Crocheted Thread And Silver-plated Wire Links

Silver Plated Wire Necklace - Detail

Silver Plated Wire Bracelet

Silver-plated Wire Beach-themed Earrings

My entire week was spent making wire connections, all different kinds. I always want my work to be improving. I find that if I concentrate on one single specific task over the course of an entire week, my skills build, and then I am able to bring those skills forward into the following week. There is always so much to learn.

Next post is going to be all about using vintage filigree in all different ways.

Until next time!

Leaving you with this quote:

"Eventually everything connects - people, ideas, objects. The quality of the connections is the key to quality per se." - Charles Eames

Friday, November 13, 2015

Variations On A Theme

Happy Friday the 13th! It has been 10 days since my last blog post. I finished up last week by making one more Christmas house to add to my nostalgic lineup. This one is orange. I made tape transfers for the windows, so they all have little images in them.

Orange Christmas House

Then I made this necklace:

Ancestors Necklace

Accestors Necklace - focal

The focal on the piece above is a sterling silver earring made by the incomparable Tabra. It was a gift from my friend Jamie. The strange and wonderful bamboo bead on the left side of the chain was a gift from my friend Sue, and the rest of the beads on the chain were also gifts, with the exception of the bone piece at the bottom, which came from Ethiopia, via etsy.

After an entire week of all things "Jaxed and waxed," (with Jax Pewter Black and Dorland's Wax) I thought it was time to lighten things up a bit this week. I made a series of pieces in silver-plated copper, with clear, beachy colors. The first piece in the series is this "Beach Walk" necklace:

Beach Walk Necklace

Beach Walk Necklace - Detail

One of the strands in this two-strand necklace a is crocheted cotton twine. The other is a 3mm silver-plated copper rolo chain from Sun and Moon Craft Kits. The focal is made from a shell, and the beads are glass, stone, and ceramic, all in cool shades of blues and greens. The necklace is very long, as you can tell by the photo of it being modeled by the lovely Lulu. I love obscenely long necklaces. This one reminds me of the years I spent in Florida. Sometimes my sister and I would wake up early in the morning and go beach combing. I ran across a small tin of shells from one of our walks last week. I drilled holes in them yesterday. I'll be using them as focals next week!

Next I made this necklace:

Metal Flower Necklace, modeled by the lovely Lulu

 Metal Flower Necklace - detail

Then I made four bracelets. I love making bracelets, especially these "bits and pieces" braclets. I think they are my favorite things to make.

Harmony bracelet, in turquoise

Milagro Bracelet in silver

Flower Bracelet in green

Milagro Bracelet in blue

...and finally these three necklaces, modeled by the lovely Gertie. She is a small table top mannequin by the way. The necklaces are not particularly big. Gertie is  a handmade reproduction, and I bought her at Shabby Town USA. I love Gloria's props. 

Honey Bee Happy

Silver Belles

The End Of Summer

Making these suede cord necklaces was an exercise in form for me. I wanted to see if I could pare down my usual forms to lighter, more clear and airy ones, while still maintaining the shapes that I love to use. It's hard for me to make cleaner pieces like this. I always want to add beads and dangly bits. I know less is supposed to be more, but for me, more is more! I can't help myself.

So that's it for this week. In retrospect, it was all about variations on a theme... using the same forms in different ways. I like doing that, because I find repetition can lead to discovery. Next week is going to be all about making chains and connections, and also using some of those shells I drilled. 

Until next time!

Leaving you with this quote:

"In skating there is always another jump or another spin variation or another thing to learn, and that's what I liked about it." - Gracie Gold

The same thing is definitely true about making jewelry, and for me, learning is the fun part!