Thursday, June 23, 2016

It takes a Village

by Staci Louise Smith

Thanks in advance for listening to my ramble.  I had a bad show the other weekend, one of many.  I was feeling pretty down about it.  I know, I know, I know all the things I tell everyone (obviously not the show for me, its not my work, ect ect), but it doesn't help how you feel when you pour yourself into your art and it doesn't sell.

And so, I reached out online, and MAN, I really felt the love and support of my friends and fellow artists when I was feeling down and unsure about the shows.  It had me really thinking about these people, and I just had to share some of those thoughts.  More than that, it made me realize just how much everyone is there for me, all the time.  In so many different ways.

I have always considered myself a "self taught" artist.  I don't have formal training in jewelry.  Though I certainly did have help.  I read books, and watched You Tube videos.  I had friends show me how to do certain techniques (thank you Page MB- I will be forever grateful for our solder day at your place).  I most certainly did not do this all on my own.  Self taught doesn't really feel right...........

The longer I get to do this as a career, the more I realize how important the art community is.  Not only are connections good for networking, but you build ties and bonds and make friends.  Friends who come and stay with you the night before your first class (thank you Jenny Davies-Reazor).  Friends who tell you the next show will be better (too many to name).  Friends who are honest when something doesn't look right (I can always count on Diana of Suburban Girl Studio's for honest advice).  Friends who give advice as to what is worth your time and what isn't, who share their stories, and what they have learned.  Friends who cross promote- and not out of duty or for $$$$, but because you both genuinely LOVE, respect and admire each others work.

 Marsha Neal and Kathleen Klik

My faithful  booth sitter (who is more organized then me at selling my wares!)
 Amanda of Brassy Peacock Designs

Linda Landig, who has the BEST laugh and GREAT taste in beads too

It takes a village to be successful.  If you try to go it alone, its a hard hard road.  I cannot imagine taking this journey without a village.  My village is always changing and growing- and I love that.  I am so thankful for each and every person I have met along the way.  Whether we have bead shopped together, created jewelry kits together, chatted about dreams and ideas, or have only chatted online, you are all dear to me. 

Diana Ptaszynski, Barb Bechtel, Jan Onipenco

We all have strengths and weakness'.  For example, I have learned to market over the years, but my brain didn't naturally work that way.  There were friends like Marsha Neal, who were more then happy to share marketing ideas with me.  It helped me to think about the bigger picture and how things work out there in the bead world and online.  I will be forever thankful for Melinda Orr for arranging so many meet and greets at Beadfest, and making sure everyone met each other.  I would be lost without Ginger DAvis Allman of Blue Bottle Tree, who is always finding out the "what is what and what is NOT" in polymer clay.  She has a scientists mind and does the most thorough testing and blogs out there in the clay world.
I literally cannot mention all the beady people whom I adore, and whom have been part of my business through advice and hands on help.

Melinda Orr and Eva Sherman

Everyone has a strength.  And together we are strongest.

It is tough to make it in the arts.  Everyone who is in this "art world" knows that.  We all understand, and I think that is one of the things that gives us all such a strong bond.  So many people are happy to pay it forward, because another artist did that for them.  If you open yourself up, it can be a very beautiful community.

So, my advice is this- be kind to your fellow artists.  Let them into your life.  They are your village.  And it takes a village.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Hardware Store Finds

Right about this time last year, Karen shared a great post/tutorial on using copper tubing in jewelry (here is the link). I vividly remember reading the post and dashing out the door to Home Depot to pick up some tubing of my own. While sitting at my bench the other day, I turned my head and realized I still had quite a bit of tubing left over...begging to be used in something new.

So, I set out to make some Big Hole Beads. Many artists use these beads with leather and thick cording, but I had other ideas. Here is a quick synopsis via photos of how I made the beads.

I used 1/4" copper tubing, found at Home Depot.

I wanted to try dapping the ends of the tubing, so I did not want the beads to be too big (long).  I used my $7.00 tube cutter, also from Home Depot, to cut the tubing to length.

This "bead" is about 3/8" long. Now, when a tube cutter is used, the cut portion is not perfectly flat.

So, a couple of swipes with my flat file was in order.

Anneal the bead until red hot. I was going to attempt to add texture to the bead AND dap the ends, so I knew that I would have to anneal the metal several times. I let the red-hot copper air-cool instead of immediately quenching in water. Multiple annealing and quenching can make the metal brittle. Don't ask me how I know this....

To add texture, I slipped the bead on a thin center punch that I have sitting on my bench. A regular old nail would work, as well, Anything round and metal will work (my dapping punches were too thick). By slipping the bead onto a round metal "mandrel", it helps it maintain its round shape when adding texture. I just used the edge of my riveting hammer for this example.

If the bead becomes out of round from texturing, just anneal, air-cool, and slip it back on your round mandrel of choice. I had my plastic hammer ready - but just putting the softened/annealed bead on the mandrel and squeezing it down put the bead back in the round. A nail would have been perfect here, as my center punch is tapered, so I had to keep flipping the bead  - just like when forming a ring on a ring mandrel.

To form a little anticlastic curve on either end of the bead, I simply found a dapping punch approximately the same size as the hole in the bead and gave it a few GENTLE whacks on my bench block (turn the bead often and be gentle with the hammer)!

I rather like this organic shape - slightly wonky but still round. Kinda rustic.

My intent is to use the Large Hole Beads on a bangle, as seen below (not yet polished or antiqued).

There are endless possibilities for adorning these little beads. The bead below was not dapped/ curved.  Instead, I very carefully melted some silver scrap into a granule, flattened it with my hammer, sweat soldered a tiny pallet of solder, let it cool, FLATTEN AGAIN with the hammer, and soldered it to the bead.

The "first" bead I made - simply textured and dapped the ends.

I had some silver tubing on hand as well.

For the bead below, I dapped (no texture) the copper bead, soldered (I used paste solder here) just the end of a length of  flattened 22 gauge sterling wire, cooled, "messy wrapped" around the bead, drew a ball on the end of the wire in my flame, and soldered the end down to the rest of the "messy" wrap.

If you use these beads for bangles, remember to slip the bead onto the bangle before you solder the bangle closed.  :)

I actually drool when I mix my metals - love the look!

Ta Da!

Only 45 more feet of copper tubing left to use up!  :) :) 

I hope you found this inspiring! Thanks for stopping by!



Friday, June 17, 2016

Starfish Color Palette Challenge Reveal

by Sherri Stokey

Today's the day and I'm SO excited!  A few weeks ago I issued a challenge to come up with handmade pieces (didn't have to be jewelry) based on the beads and cord I've been working with for a while.  I call it my Starfish palette, thus the Starfish Color Palette Challenge.  I know, I'm clever like that.  Anyway, several talented folks were inspired to play along so without further ado...

Pamela Troutman does amazingly beautiful things with seed beads as demonstrated in her necklace above, wile Emilie Le Ret used nail polish (yes nail polish!!) to create the fun ring and earrings below!

Jessica Green used a special bead she'd been hoarding for a long time and a whole bunch of others to create the necklace above with a shape vaguely reminiscent of a fish.  Linda Landig chose to expand on the color palette in her beachy necklace featuring a glass starfish.

Samantha Wescott knocked it out of the park with a reversible necklace (so cool!) and two different bracelets.  You'll want to check out her blog post for more photos.  A starfish pendant by Michelle McCarthy is the focal in Sarajo Wentling's necklace below featuring soft beautiful color.

Shai Williams used a brass seashell and a whole bunch of other yummy beads in her necklace above while Sheri Gumina used a real starfish in making her detailed silver metal clay pendant below.

I have to admit, Shawn Pippin won a place in my heart working from my Leaves Micro Macrame Bracelet Tutorial for the bracelet above.  And last but not least (I'm not sure there is a "least" with these pieces!), is the necklace below made by Wendi Reamy (Door 44 Jewelry) combining wire wrapping with knotting in her awesome design.

I do have one little problem with all these pieces, though: I want them all!!  It's almost like they all chose my favorite colors or something!  

This challenge was great fun for me and I loved seeing how everyone interpreted my photo and created something beautiful.  I don't know about you, but I think we need a little more beauty in the world lately.

Many thanks to everyone who played along.  Be sure to click the links to visit everyone's blog and/or shops and let them know if you like their work!

Edited to add one more:  Treena Rowan might have been a little late submitting her bracelet, but it's so pretty!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

DIY clay cutter tutorial-REVAMPED

Carol Dekle-Foss
Last year I did a tutorial on how to make your own clay cutters here. After working with them for awhile, I realized I needed to make a few changes. I thought I would share how I made a better clay cutter that will not come unglued, doesn't lose its shape and has a cool handle!
(greenware porcelain pendants)
What you will need:

24 gauge sheet metal (Stronger than 28 gauge. Also, I used brass instead of copper)
Metal scoring tool (I used a divider)
Metal shears
Cratex knife edge wheel
400 grit sandpaper
Split mandrel
Shape pattern
Handy flux
soldering pick

The first few steps are the same as the original tutorial, but with a few updates.

Measure the length of your stamp with a string. Cut the string about 1/4" to 1/2" longer to allow overlap of the metal.

Mark the length with a sharpie. I made my cutter deeper this time, about 3/8".
If you have a straight edge on your metal, you can use a divider to run along the edge to score your metal. 

If not, you will have to measure and mark the depth and use a ruler as a guide for scoring your metal.

Cut your metal with metal shears, or a throatless sheer, and then hammer to flatten. I would anneal your metal after hammering if you have an intricate cutter design.

                                                                                                                                      STEP FOUR
This step requires a bit of finesse to get the shape just right. 

Using different mandrels and pliers, shape your design.

I used flat-round nose pliers. My new favorite tool!
Keep forming until you have the right shape.

Flat nose pliers work great for sharp corners.

 The previous cutters came undone a few times, and I had to reglue. Forget that, let's solder this one instead! I used my go to medium solder, but you can use easy or hard if you like.

Oops, fail. Don't be like me and cut your metal shorter so there is not much to solder, about 1/4". I just resoldered and closed the gap. 

I then formed a piece of metal and soldered on a little handle! This will make it soo much easier to lift after stamping.
Perfect! Now time to clean up all sharp edges.

The next step is important. File the inside edge where the metal comes together so there is no line when stamping the clay.

 If you like, you can use an abrasive wheel to remove firescale and soften the edges of the handle. I used a knife edge cratex wheel. Also, if your clay cutter doesn't sit flush, run it in a figure eight motion over sandpaper, turning every once in awhile so it sands evenly.
With a split mandrel and 400 grit sandpaper, I cleaned up file marks and created a satin finish over the whole cutter.
 This cutter is much more sturdy and can withstand my abuse! Most importantly, every piece I stamp will have a uniform shape.

I use olive oil as a release agent. It works okay, but if you use something better and would like to share, please let me know in the comments!

Thank you for reading,
Carol Dekle-Foss
Terra Rustica Design
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