Friday, February 5, 2016

Seeking Closure

by Sherri Stokey

Have you ever had one of those pieces that just won't come together like you want?  I'm always thinking "outside the box" which translates into "always running into snags".  It's an occupational hazard, I think.  My latest conundrum was finding a closure for this micro macrame cuff bracelet:

Micro macrame cuff in progress.

I have a favorite button (doesn't everyone?) that is copper with a dragon on it and wouldn't you know since I love it the most, they discontinued manufacture of it a couple years ago.  I bought up all I could find and have a tiny stash of them I hoard jealously and use only on piece deemed worthy.  I really wanted to use one on this cuff, but I also wanted to use copper bars on the ends.  I didn't want to just do a button and loop closure, I wanted to make an actual clasp that would have the button on top of it.  I started messing with wire and the button and ended up with this:

Micro macrame cuff with dragon button closure.

It doesn't look too bad, do you think?  Until you fasten it, and then it does this: 

Micro macrame cuff with dragon button closure.

Well, pooh.  That's not exactly what I had pictured in my head.  I wanted the hook under the button like that, but hadn't anticipated the gap the hook would create, and that fact that it would put the button off center.  The hook part of the closure and the loop it went through just stuck out too far.  If I'd added an extra big loop on the other side to offset it, it would have made the bracelet too large.

Button with hook.

Then I thought maybe I could do a sort of "S" clasp instead of just the hook.  That would make both sides equal.  I just had to make sure to keep it as small as possible so it wouldn't add length to the overall bracelet.

S clasp with button.

It seemed like this might work, until the main wire of the hook started slipping back and forth within the wire wrapping.

S clasp with button.

Well, shoot.  And by now my work area looked like a bomb went off:

Jewelry making mess.

I asked for some advice from someone who knows more about wire work than I do (I don't even pretend to be an expert on that subject) and after a lot of back and forth, came up with this:

Plan B.

It was late and this was a prototype - please don't judge me.  I figured I could refine the design later and make it neater.  It did at least put the button in the center of the closure.

Centered, but with extra spaces.

But when I was testing it out, this happened:

Another problem.

The whole closure wanted to sit sideways in the piece!  By this time I was using language my grandmother would not approve of.  Oh, who are we kidding here - I was using language that would make sailors blush.  How could it possibly be this complicated to use a button as a closure without just using a loop around it?  So I put the whole thing aside (threw it aside might be more accurate) and left it sit.  For a long time - like a couple of weeks.  And when I came back to it today, this happened:

Button and loop closure.

Yes, after all that, I went back to the button and loop.  And guess what?  The button sits off center again!

Micro macrame cuff with dragon button closure.

So what's the moral of this story?  I'm not sure I know.  Maybe I'm just supposed to learn patience.  Meanwhile, I've decided to leave the loop closure.  And market the bracelet like this:

Micro macrame cuff by Sherri Stokey.

So, tell me - do all your ideas work out like you planned?  Or do you have a not-so-perfect ending you're willing to share and make me feel better?

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Stardust: A David Bowie Blog Hop

by Staci Louise Smith

Stars burn, and eventually die, but we can see their light for hundreds of years after they have gone.  They shine on.

This is the legacy David Bowie has left us as well.

No matter what your taste in music, as an artist, you have to admire David Bowie as one of the all time great artists, in many mediums.  He was theatrical, musical and actor as well.  He was a rebel, a fashion icon, and she shone like the star he was, from early on.

We here at LMAJ have decided to do a blog hop to honor his memory, to honor his boldness, and to honor his art.

It is pretty open to interpretation.  You can make a piece based on one of his songs- interpreting it to jewelry.  You can use just one line of a song if you wish.  

Here is a link to some of his top songs

You can make a piece based on a picture of him, something, anything that inspires you.

Whatever you decide, may it be wild, and full of heart, and passion and boldness, just like he was.  He was our rebel, our star man, and he will shine for years and years.

To participate, please create a piece of jewelry, and blog about your inspiration, your piece, and /or any techniques you want to share.
In your blog, make sure to link to ours so anyone reading your blog can hop along as well.

  On March 10th we will have the blog hop.  You will be able to link your blog here on LMAJ that day.  We encourage that if you participate, to please hop along.  Leave comments on the other blogs, meet new designers and network.  Blog hops are not only fun for the creative challenge, but it is a great chance to expand your creative network.  I have met many creative friends through blog hops and challenges.

So we hope you will join us and honor this great artist memory through creating.  I think he would have liked that very much.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

My first attempt at Precious Metal Clay..and latest creations

Carol Dekle-Foss
I have always wanted to try precious metal clay, but I was under the impression that I couldn't fire it in my kiln sitter kiln. I was very happy to discover this is not the case! All I have to do is use cone 014. Easy! After I realized this, I immediately bought a pack of  PMC+ 45g to give it a try. So on top of practicing making rings in different sizes, I have also been playing with precious metal clay. Here are my latest creations over the past couple of weeks.

First, I have been obsessed with plain stacking rings and bands and have been wearing this set ever since I made them. 

I then decided to make a ring using the reticulated silver I made a few weeks ago. I tried to make it a size 9 but it ended up being size 10. Oops! Oh well, it's meant for someone! I listed in my Etsy shop here

The crescent moon and pleiades ring was made from precious metal clay and then soldered to a ring shank made from sterling silver crazy-8 half round wire from rio. I love this wire for ring shanks because it's super comfy to wear, sturdy and easy to use.
I was able to get more detail from the metal clay than if I had rolled sterling silver sheet through a rolling mill. The stars and moon are a bit more puffy and show up more after being polished. I learned quite a bit about metal clay making this ring. I also nailed the size as well. Win! I love how it turned out, and will be making more, but I want to set a tiny faceted gemstone in a stepped bezel in the top left hand corner. More techniques I have to learn! 

Here are some more precious metal clay pieces I was able to complete. 

After I finished the below piece I realized it had a tiny air bubble. I tried to fix it by sanding but it just made it worse. It looks like a little crater, and unfortunately it's not part of the design. Lesson learned! Porcelain gets air bubbles too, but at least you can somewhat cover them with glaze. Air bubbles in metal clay can wreck a piece!

These pieces are fired but still need to be brass brushed and tumbled.

Overall, I love working with precious metal clay.  I think the design possibilities are endless and it's fun to work with. What I don't love is the price. Holy moly it can be pricey. I would have to mark up my pieces quite high to make a profit. Hmm. I am still debating on what to do about that. I may give white copper clay or bronze a try, we'll see.

If you want to learn more about metal clay, there are tons of tutorials online and on Youtube. Our very own Staci makes beautiful pieces in metal clay and has done quite a few posts on Love My Art Jewelry. In fact, if you haven't read it yet, she recently tried steel clay and did a post here about her experience. And here's another post from her on white copper clay. Thank you Staci!

Never stop learning and growing!
Thank you for reading. 

Monday, February 1, 2016


I am a hoarder...a tool hoarder. There ... I said it...and I feel so much better!

I find it comical that the definition I found of HOARD references silver....

The problem with collecting all of these goodies is finding a place to store them. January always seems to be the time I get stoked into organizing..and reorganizing. Now, I am blessed that I have an entire room in my basement dedicated to my passion. What I was lacking was storage space. Last year, I opened up this "temporary" 8 foot folding table that I used to use when I worked at craft shows. There is also a small, 3 shelf bookshelf to the immediate right of that table that became a catch-all for just about anything and everything.

Personally - I hated this table - I tripped on those legs every single day! And I found it to be too inviting to just set something down and leave it there. And, what a waste of space beneath the table! While my work space becomes incredibly frazzled while I am working, I have an incessant need to put all tools and supplies away every single night. Otherwise when I return to the studio the next day, I become especially nervous not knowing everything is in its place!

I have been searching for an inexpensive storage bench for some time now - something with drawers. I found this at Harbor Freight - had a 20% coupon - and shipping was $6.95! Final cost before shipping:  $128.00 

Storage Bench by Harbor Freight

I actually enjoy putting things together. And this only took an hour of my time.

Admittedly, the fun part was re-organizing everything. 

The drawers are felt lined - added protection for my precious mandrels and such.

One of the best outcomes of this new storage bench is that I now have space between the left side of my jewelers bench and the new storage bench. I cannot tell you how many times I have dropped things to the left of my bench and could not get down to reach them, as the little chrome 3-shelf unit was in the way.

When I purchased my jeweler's bench, I installed a swing arm attachment on the left hand side, where I store my most used tools. Before, there was no room to swing this arm much better now!

I was inspired to actually clean the studio after the storage bench was complete. Next up, I must attempt to destash some of the beads I have hoarded...way too many beads!

Hoping this brings me new inspiration to start creating again!  Thanks for stopping by!

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