Sunday, March 31, 2013

Earring Challenge Reveal 6 (weeks 11-12/52) and a chance to join the Pinterest team

Happy Easter and welcome to the 6th installment of the earring challenge reveal. If you've been keeping up with the pace of a pair of earrings each week, you are my hero. I am not a fan of making earrings. I think I have what's called "2nd earring syndrome". Once I've made an earring, I don't want to make a 2nd one.

Did you make earrings using hand made art components this week? Link up at the end of this post so we can see what you made!

Also, now that we have gotten through the first quarter of 2013 (shocking, I know!), we are going to open up the Pinterest board to more pinners. So if you want to make a pair of earrings each week using at least one quality hand crafted component, leave a link to your pinterest home page in the comments. If you are already on the Pinterest team and want to continue, do nothing.  

We will continue to feature a few pairs of earrings every other Sunday. The best way to get your earrings featured here is to make great earrings using handmade art components, and to take gorgeous photos. 

With today being Easter, I decided to showcase a few pairs of earrings from the Pinterest board that remind me of spring.

First up, Claire Lockwood used lampwork dahlias by Ciel Creations, and lampwork headpins by Earthshine beads:

Megan Martin created these darling hand forged silver and riveted earrings with her own two hands and maybe a tool or two:

Kumi Fisher used these adorable owls by Rebekah Payne (Tree Wings Studio) in her earrings:

Remember to link your earrings from the last couple weeks below. 

Our next reveal is in two weeks on Sunday April 14th. Keep creating!

-Jen Cameron


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Springtime Finds

It's been such a long drear winter here in Virginia and even though we've already passed the first day of Spring, the color and new growth aren't coming fast enough for me! I love watching the seasons change and even in all its greyness Winter is so beautiful, but I do have to admit that after a while it really does get drab. I'm so ready for the new green and the bright blooms of Spring!

So in my longing (and impatience!) I plopped myself down in front of my computer with a cup of lemon tea and my favorite solo piano music and wandered through the unfading Spring beads blooming on Etsy. Ahh! Bliss! Now I just need the bundles of money to buy them all!

Here are some of my favorites from my searching:

1. Humblebeads 2.SlateStudiosSupply  3.daisychainextra  4.suburbangirlbeads   5.2CoolBeads   6.suebeads

1.TesoriTrovati 2.HoneyBearBeads 3.daisychainextra 4.MenagerieStudio 5.THEAtoo 6.tooaquarius 7. TheGlassBunny

And when Virginia's Spring does finally make its appearance, it will be well worth the wait.

And of course no Spring would be complete without little bunnies hopping around munching clover!

Happy Easter everyone! I hope Spring has brought bright new colors to wherever you are… and lots of good time with family!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Jewelry Museum ~ Oaxaca, Mexico

My husband and I spent 5 weeks in Mexico last fall.  We rented a small house, in the beautiful colonial city of Oaxaca, for 4 of those weeks.  I could talk for hours about our experiences there, but for today, I'd like to share our visit to the Belber Jimenez Museum. 

Belber Jimenez Museum

 This museum has an extensive collection of Mexican jewelry from pre-Colombian times through the early 20th century.  The museum is based on the jewelry and craft collection of an internationally known Oaxacan jeweler, Belbar Jimenez; who now resides in the United States.

Unfortunately for me, all of the signage was in Spanish.  My Spanish ability is pretty sketchy, but I will do my best to share the bits I understood.

The first pieces of jewelry I will share, were found in the nearby archaeological ruins of Monte Alban.  My husband and I visited this amazing site.   Its sheer size is almost unfathomable.  Archaeologists are still at work in Monte Alban and they continue to excavate temples and other ceremonial buildings.

Beautiful jewelry was discovered at Monte Alban and it is treasured both for its artistry, as well as its value as a cultural heritage.  (A bit of a disclaimer here:  All the jewelry was behind glass and the lighting was often quite dim.  Therefore picture quality is poorer than I wish it were.)

Monte Alban jewelry

The picture below is of Monte Alban reproduction jewelry, (from a different museum).  Monte Alban jewelry has such cultural value that not just anyone is authorized to reproduce it.  You have to get a government license to do so and only the very finest jewelers will qualify.

Here is a YouTube video showing the work of some jewelers creating Monte Alban reproductions.

Moving onward to the colonial period, the Spanish introduced filigree jewelry, which they, in turn, learned from  Byzantine goldsmiths' work.

There was also a nice collection of jewelry from the early 1900's through the 1920's.  Apparently there was quite a  renaissance in Mexican jewelry during that time.  I believe that the next two pieces are from the early 1900's, but I am not certain.

This necklace was created in the 1920's, but the motif is based on an ancient Zapotec fishing story.

I can't remember the date for this next necklace.  It looks to me like something from the 40's or 50's maybe.

There is one more picture that I wish I could share.  It is  jewelry that Frida Kahlo was wearing when she died - jewelry that was a gift from Diego Rivera.  However before I could take that picture, a museum employee told me that I wasn't allowed to take any pictures in the museum.  Luckily he did not make me erase the pictures I had taken so far, which is why I can share this jewelry with you today.  I hope you have enjoyed this little jewelry museum tour!

Linda Landig
Linda Landig Jewelry

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Change Is As Good...

My much discussed bead show is a little over a week away now and apart from a small pile of finishing my inventory is almost complete and it's just as well because frankly, I've had enough. I'm tired...bone weary tired with painful hands and probably worse - I'm beginning to get bored.

Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't love what I do or appreciate the opportunity to meet customers face to face, but I usually only make small numbers of any item and I just don't do well with repetitive tasks - never have and never will. But it's easy enough to remedy and this week I've taken a few hours out just to do something a bit different and on a smaller, more joint friendly level.

A few weeks ago I started paying around with some ideas for combining enamel with Bronze Clay and made these flower pendants...

I've been wanting to progress with this idea some more and decided to try the process out with frit - the lovely crushed glass mixes that lampworkers use to decorate their beads. I have tried this once before and the results were a bit muddy so this time I set the frit on the base of white enamel and got a much clearer and brighter result...

I was really pleased with the effects I got here but wanted to do something other than flowers. The pieces need to have enough depth for the frit to pool in and this took me back to something else I've been wanting to develop more - these lovely shell sections.

And I have to say I'm really quite pleased with the results... the shell imprints create a kind of natural Cloisonne framework and I love the vibrancy of the colours within that.

This is definitely something I will be taking further and will be on the look out for interesting objects to create frames from - do let me know if you have any ideas.

So while I have to grit my teeth and return to completing my repetitive show tasks for a few more days, I hope you all have a wonderful Easter and don't overdo it on the eggs.

The Gossiping Goddess

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Jumping the hurdles

So many times in our lives we are forced into or decide to start new paths.  It is one of the scariest things we do.  When we decide to make a change or try a new thing it can be overwhelming and I think one of those reasons is that we tend to be self-doubting.  We look for reassurance from friends and family but the most challanging part of it is our own lack of confidence and the "what if's" that tend to clog our minds.  Sometimes we need the push to do it and other times the motivation just takes on a life of it's own.

As artists we need to hear from others that we are on the right path.

This happened to me recently and I thought you may like to hear how a new path has opened for me.  Just like many of you I submitted pictures and pattern ideas only to hear "It is beautiful but....."  with reasons like it is not what they are looking for, they do not have enough room, it doesn't fit with their scheme.  I was taking all of them very personally.  Friends say "submit somewhere else"  or try again with something different but in the back of my mind there is always that "well they just don't like you".  Let me tell you something.  Until you hit that moment of realization that these people do not know you personally so it can't possibly be personal, you may be caught in the same rut.  A couple months ago I hit that moment and took the leap.  I submitted a design and it was accepted!  OMG now what?  Time to put my money where my mouth is right?  I had written on tutorial already and put that in my shop with limited success.  
There is the next hurdle I had to jump.  My first thought was "who am I to think I can make a magazine worthy tutorial?"  Well that is the next thing you need to get out of your head.  You designed the piece and they like it.  You CAN do this!!!  

I can not share this piece with you but I can tell  you that once I overcame this group of hurdles it was such a relief that I decided to sit down and design another piece and put it in my shop.

I am sure I will still have to keep fighting the initial self defeating thoughts but I now am perfectly aware that I can follow through with this new path and find myself wondering what the next hurdles are.

Do you have hurdles to overcome to start something new?


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Book Review: Soldering Made Simple

I've been wanting to read this book since it first came out, at least in part because Joe Silvera, its author, is such an engaging, down-to-earth guy. A few years ago, he and his wife Anat moved their studio to Berkeley, California, to focus on opening and running a jewelry school. Since then, Joe has become an extremely popular instructor at Bead and Button, and this book is - I think - a big part of the reason why.

This is a book that is really and truly written for the home jeweler, starting with a thorough discussion of essential tools and equipment. First up is an overview of soldering boards and blocks and even though I have been soldering for several years, I learned a great deal in just those two pages alone.

Each type has a very specific use, and after reading this section I pulled out every board I had and did some sample soldering just to test out the differences. That new knowledge is going to change the boards I use for different soldering jobs going forward.

There is also a very good explanation of the two main types of butane torches and their safe operation. If you've done any reading about soldering, you may have heard the terms "oxidizing", "neutral", and "reducing" in relation to flame types, and if you're like me, you may have assumed that they were only relevant to the big dual-gas studio torches. Well, not only does this book explain them and how they're used, it also provides close-up photos and instructions about how to obtain them with a butane micro torch.

Joe also gives a high-level review of several basic metalsmithing skills, and I would say that if I have one caution to potential readers, it's that the book assumes certain skills in that area which the reader may not actually have. This is a book about soldering, though, so it's hard to nit-pick. Just be aware that in order to be completely successful with some of the projects, you may need to do some additional homework regarding metalsmithing and metal working tools. And the projects are really fun! There's a squashed hollow bead that I'm dying to try and a gorgeous round box clasp that looks deceptively simple. There's even a ring project that includes some really good information on creating bezels from sheet, determining the proper bezel height, and the proper technique for setting a bezel - all a great bonus in a book about soldering.

There are a couple of minor things to quibble over - for example, Joe demonstrates using shears to cut very small, detailed elements out of metal sheet where I would be inclined to use a jeweler's saw. But that is a matter of preference, not technique. And I found myself wondering what the difference was between "light red" and "pink" when evaluating the color of metal as it is heating - some other point of reference might have been helpful for someone like me who cannot always make nuanced color distinctions. Again, though, these are very minor things and don't impact my recommendation of this book in any way.

So if you are new to soldering, this is a terrific choice for your studio library. It is good, basic instruction written in clear, easy-to-understand language and it will help you equip your home studio properly and safely. As a bonus, working through the 12 included projects will not only leave you with a solid grasp of soldering techniques and how and when to use them, it will also give you an introduction to basic metalworking techniques. What's not to love?

Until next time!

Disclaimer: I came this close to attending a one week metal retreat with Joe the year before he moved his studio to Berkeley, California, to open a jewelry school. We exchanged a few e-mails as I tried to make the decision about whether or not to go, and he was as helpful and encouraging as could be. However, Joe and his publisher Kalmbach Books don't know me from Adam. I purchased this book for my own studio and the opinions expressed here are my own, offered without any hope or promise of compensation. Even the links aren't affiliate links.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Carving Polymer Clay

While I'm still doing my Copper as I always will I'm having fun playing with Polymer Clay which is as of a few weeks ago is new for me.
 Arguably everything I've tried has turned out fairly successful to one degree or another, some more than others of course.
 I want to keep pushing myself so this time I thought I'd try my hand at carving.

Above are some of the Baked Beads I haven't carved yet,
 the carving tools and the remains of the carving I've already done.

It takes some practice to learn how much pressure to put on the carving tool and when it's about to fly off the PC and gouge in to your finger, I have the wounds to prove it but I'm not going to share those here.

Still need practice on getting consistent cuts but I'm getting there.

So much fun to carve in to this little one and see what lies beneath!

One big happy family!
I still need to do some finishing work on these 
and try to decide if I want to leave them as is or try some antiquing.

By the way, Carving was not what I originally set out to do. It was actually another attempt at trying Polymer Clay Imprints, you can see my first attempt HERE
That wasn't successful so I made beads and decided they needed carving.

I just jumped in and went for it but there is lots of great information about carving.
Probably best known for carving is Celie Fago
I think carving texture plats might be pretty high up on my list of things I want to try.