First of all, I wanted to thank Paulette for her kind words, and Vicky for following me!
This post is really about how I spend a typical week. My friend Brooke Bock of Artistic Endeavors 101 is a true inspiration to me in so many ways. She has this fabulous thing she does every Wednesday. She calls it "Workbench Wednesday," and she shows all the things she has on her workbench for the week.
Here's a link to her wonderful blog:
I asked Brooke if she would mind if I adopted this practice, and in true Brooke Bock fashion, she encouraged me to take up her practice. So this is it... my first official Workbench Wednesday, a glimpse into what I've been working on this week.
First of all, here's the jewelry I made. The first piece is a stamped solder bracelet with faceted vintage crystals. I have to admit, the stamping does not always go smoothly. It takes lots of torching, cooling, and re-torching to get it to work out. This one took four separate torching and stamping sessions. When I was finally finished, I dipped it in Jax Pewter Black, used 0000 steel wool on the surface, touched a bit of gold Gilders Paste to the high spots, and then finally sealed it with Dorland's Wax.
I have a bunch of other stamped pieces ready to go now too. I started working on one, and found that the focal piece just didn't work. That happens sometimes. The bracelet really wanted to be finished differently than I had envisioned, so I ended up with this:
I have always liked the look of a cross worn sideways on a bracelet, and I wanted to make my own version. I used nylon-jawed bracelet-forming pliers to bend the vintage Italian crucifix. The chain is handmade... silver plated copper wire and faux vintage pearls. I dipped this chain in Jax Pewter Black too. I'm a little bit of a Jax junkie.
The two bracelets look nice when worn together.
The other thing that happened this week is that Stampington's Holidays & Celebrations magazine came out, at least I got my advanced contributor's copy. The issue should hit the news stands on September 1st. It's a really pretty issue. I feel fortunate to have my ornaments in there. Here's what they look like:
I used vintage flat-backed chandelier crystals and Grachic 45 paper to give them a really vintage feel.
It sounds strange, but I was oddly inspired by my own article. They always make my work look so much better than I ever could. Anyway this week I decided to make a few more ornaments, this time with a pinecone motif.:
I found the image in an old book about identifying trees. Mr. Bees was a forestry major in collage, and I knew he would have something like that hanging around the house. Of course his first words to me were, "You're not going to cut it up are you?" Nope. I photocopied it. Next I used a watered down solution of Ranger "Vintage Photo" Distress Ink on the paper, and then used Mod Podge to adhere the image to the crystal.
For a change of pace, I also made some melt-and-pour soap this week. I made my own silicone molds, using silicone caulk and dish soap. I colored the soap with food coloring and clay (yep, real clay, the kind I use in my kiln.) The results were really rustic.
The clay settled at the bottom of the molds, highlighting the details. I love surprises like that.
I write articles for a lot of Stampington publications. I love Stampington. I fell in love with the magazines years ago. I began with a few articles in Belle Armoire Jewelry, and since then I've been in Jewelry Affaire, GreenCraft, Holidays & Celebrations, and Somerset Studio. A few months ago I bought my first copy of Willow & Sage. If you are not familiar with this magazine, it is the most fabulous DIY homemade bath and body publication you could even imagine. My first thought was, "Well why not make some bath products too? Three words apply here: Can of worms.
Now I'm hooked on making bath products. I have two articles that will be appearing in the upcoming issue of Willow & Sage, and I am making several experimental batches of crockpot soap every week. Here's a batch of hot process Beeswax Honey soap I made over the weekend. I have it drying in my dining room.
I got the honeycomb effect by putting bubble wrap on top of the mold as the bars cured.
Now that I have tried using homemade crockpot soap, I will never be able to go back to using store-bought soap again.
I would be remiss if I didn't show you what I am currently struggling with. A few weeks ago I soldered some copper hearts. I then spray painted them white. The idea was that I would fill them with flower petals. I should also say that I grew the flowers from seeds, pressed the petals, and then sealed them with spray sealant. The idea was to preserve them in Ice Resin. Normally I use blue painter's tape on the backs of open bezels, but I decided to cut corners and use clear mailing tape. It didn't work, and I had a nasty runny resin mess all over everything. I flipped the bezels over and taped the tops, wiping the excess resin off the sides of the bezels. I have to figure out how to finish them. Some will get resin and some will get polymer clay. Here's their current state:
They are completely fixable, but need a little work. I look at it this way... if everything is going completely smoothly, I'm not pushing myself. If I'm hitting snags, then I'm still learning, which is such a good thing.
Well, looking back, this week was about Christmas ornaments, new jewelry processes, fixing mistakes, and making my first batches of soap. Next week, who knows!
Leaving you with this quote:
"Good judgement comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgement."
-Rita Mae Brown