Thursday, October 30, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Above is another shot from my modest studio. A pic of a drawer with engravers, scrapers, burnishers, and steel square, a drawing plate, a ring vise, and other yummy steel things housed in boxes.
If I can get my old, sick body is gear tomorrow, I'll be listing this ring and a couple other pieces in my Etsy shop. The 'bigger than big' ring is hollow, saucer shaped nickel silver with a spessartite (orange garnet).
OK, off to cozy up to some hot tea!
Sunday, October 26, 2008
A loyal follower of my blog asked to see more studio pics. After drying the tears of laughter from my sister and mother's eyes, I decided to oblige. Yes, I KNOW ladies, I work in the freaking cold basement with barren concrete floors and walls and I can hardly call it a "real" studio, but it beats saying "Hey babe, I'm going down into the cellar/basement/laundry room/storage area/sump pump corner..." So, I'll post a picture of my ~ahem~ workspace everyday this week.
My husband and I are in agreement that this working area needs to change. Eventually (and I SO wish I could say "before the snow flies"..ha!) I should have a proper studio with daylight and heat and white walls and a real floor and a play space for Annabelle. For now, this space will do just fine, thank you!
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Above is an Alexander Calder piece. I believe it was a gift to either his wife or a daughter. A group of mini mobiles with cigar box storage. I dig Calder's lust and energy for balancing whimsy and function. In my opinion, he was one of the greatest 20th century sculptors. I would give my left arm (gladly if my fingers don't start thawing soon) to hang out with him in his studio/workshop, making functional objects that mask as sculptures.
Off to work I go. In parting here's 5 things I can't live without:
1. Wool socks, preferably Smart Wool.
2. My scribe/ burnisher from Germany.
3. Coffee in the morning (how I DID live without it when I was pregnant is a mystery).
4. A hair dryer and hair gel...I'm not vain. I have fine, straight hair.
5. My Canon A530
Monday, October 20, 2008
OK, I was saying...this was a collection that I was happy to call mine, from start to finish. It is all hand constructed. I have several pieces packed away. I'm wondering if I should list these items in my Etsy shop OR set up another shop featuring these higher end, one-of-a-kind pieces. Any thoughts? I'm worried that the two collections listed together in the same shop will look disjointed.
The necklace above is also part of that collection. I made a group of pendants/necklaces that I refer as the Amulet collection. Since making these amulet pendants, I have noticed many design houses and jewelers creating "amulet" pieces of their own (in No way am I claiming the birth right to this design....PA-LEASE!). I am considering doing an off-shoot of my Vintage collection to incorporate the buttons and the amulets. I think it would be a great merge.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
I've been thinking a bunch about the holiday season peeking above the horizon. Sort of the old eggs in the basket deal. Do I continue to make work for my Esty shop, OR do I make work for my Etsy shop and a trunk show, or do I make work for Etsy and a craft fair? I wish I could only live in the moment, but my pragmatic Capricorn self will not have any of THAT gibberish. So, I look forward, hoping to choose the right path. And, if you don't mind, please send metalsmithing elves my way to help with all the bench work.
Friday, October 17, 2008
My Etsy Maine Team mate, Jen, from Whimsidoodle (http://www.whimsidoodle.etsy.com/) selected my long, simple 3 button pendant as part of her treasury (unsure what this treasury thing is? Go to http://www.etsy.com/ and click treasury). In an email correspondence, she mentioned this, I checked it out, did a happy dance in the kitchen, and emailed everyone. BUT, it gets better...I logged in later in the day, and there's my pendant...home page of Etsy!!!!! No one has bought the pendant (grr), but it was viewed 299 times. Very exciting stuff !
My darling daughter, as I mentioned above, worked with me in my studio today. She was so well behaved and focused on her painting. I love kids' art. I taught k-5 art in Maine and was a teacher's assistant in college for youth art. I'm all for celebrating youth art. Below are some of our girl's drawings and paintings. These frames are from a large chain that begins with "W". I'm not proud that I shop there occasionally, but these frames are only $4.00!!! Deal.
Here's the pendant, fixed and finished. I found a vintage shell button that had off-center holes...perfect for this piece! I omitted the gold rivets as the sterling rivets worked with the brown button. I'm happy with the necklace. I'm listing this tonight on Etsy.
To end my happy day, my husband did the grocery shopping and I had a nice crisp walk with my sister. Happy Friday, everyone!
Thursday, October 16, 2008
However, I just finished this necklace 20 minutes ago, now that dinner is done, she's in bed, and all is quiet. I should be jumping for joy, right? If I had only waited until tomorrow: awake, freshly showered, and a mug of hot coffee for fuel. This lovely necklace's center piece button is unquestionably OFF center! I thought it looked centered (did I mention that I DID NOT have my glasses on? duh), marked the spots, and drilled. I even made 18k gold rivets! In the morning, I'll have to drill out the rivets, and fix this somehow. geez...
This bracelet above was a commission from this past summer. I thought this design would be a nice addition to the Vintage collection, so I have 3 ready to list next week on Etsy. I could try to work on them tonight, but with the above disaster (ok, not quite a 'disaster') looming over me like a dark cloud, I think that they can wait.
Now that I have finished boo-hooing my mistakes and time issues, here's 5 things I'm thankful for:
1. My family, awake or napping
2. My glasses on my face, not in the other room on the table
3. A warm home on a cold, rainy night
4. My friends
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Second tool of the day is an under used oval bezel mandrel...I'm guessing at the proper name as I don't have a supply book or metalsmithing manual within reach. I bought this and its cousin, the round bezel mandrel, many ages ago. When a goldsmith/jeweler/metalsmith has fat cash in pockets, one orders tools. Back in the day, I bought tools with the idea "Maybe someday I'll need this". For a long time, I would pull this set out to oil it and then tuck it back away into the "maybe" drawer. Today, I REALLY needed this. I was not making bezels, but oval links for a necklace. A simple rap with a hammer and the misaligned roundish link effortlessly transformed into a lovely, symmetrical oval! What a time saver! My days are peppered with useful tools. Sneaks, steel mandrel sets, this computer, a rake, my camera, a well-sharpened chef's knife, files, a jeweler's saw and sawblades, a solder pick, copper tongs....I can't imagine how I would get through my day without these little inventions. What tools do you rely on daily?
Monday, October 13, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
During a photo shoot a few days ago, I met this little fellow above. He (or she or it?) came off a conch shell that was acting as garden decor. I considered using the conch as a prop and placed it on the table. This little dark fleck caught my eye...a snail! I know, snails are a gardeners nightmare right behind their cousin, the slug, and furry little mammals (squirrels, woodchucks, moles, kids :). Kudos for this little guy surviving and hiding out in the big conch shell. I let him slime around the table a bit and put him back in his cavern.
One last tidbit. I asked fellow Etsy-ers to critiques my shop. Every responder said that I must accept Paypal in order to reach all potential customers. So I signed up with Paypal and it's a go, well...I think it's a go. I need to call their customer service today to confirm that I can accept payments now. I get a wee bit jumpy nervous when electronic payments are concerned. Why? I have no idea. I suppose I'm old-fashioned in some respects.
Have a lovely Sunday!
Thursday, October 9, 2008
After denying myself the pleasure of bench working for several years (due to endless priorities), I plowed into the studio without a plan when my muse whispered to me "Start, NOW!". To make what could be a very long story somewhat short, I cherish the needlecraft arts and the many women in my family who practice or practiced these traditions. Seldom do I sew or embroider...I'm a metalsmith...dirty hands, calloused fingertips and palms, short nails..not the hands of a seamstress. What I can do, is celebrate needlecrafts through jewelry.
So with that renewed spirit and inspiration, I made this pendant. No plan, just a large sheet of metal. Using those buttons from my family's collection, fabric textured sterling sheet, and a dainty, doily-like edge, I thought that this was the coolest pendant EVER. For a little splash, I riveted the buttons on with pink gold. Then, I tried it on...then tried it on my sister...then a friend. Unfortunately, the darn thing looks clumsy around the neck. It kind of reminds me of one of the fancy liquor decanter plaques. NOT the look I was going for. I want my jewelry to enhance the female neck, not make her look like a jug of bourbon.
So, off to the bench we go. I will be deconstructing this piece into several smaller pieces and one large oval, empty center brooch. Once all is said and done, this pendant's vim will live through several other pieces. I'll post some pics when I am finish with the revamping!
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Outside in the chilly morning air, I employed my sister's well-defined ear, long neck, lovely hand, and patience (thanks, Al!) to model all of my finished pieces so I could get some nice 'action' pics for Etsy. During the photo session, we laughed so hard that we forgot about our cold toes and numb fingers. One of those 'you had to be there', dorky sister moments.
With a few of those pictures and some previously shot, I listed my first items on Etsy!! Woo-hoo!!! What I had imagined to be a daunting process was actually fun and quite easy. I brooded over listing for weeks, read and reread the policies, went to the forums...finally I took the plunge. What the heck was I so worried about? With a toddler running around, a dog barking at phantom ducks (the barking starts at 6:30am....it's a mystery, really), and dinner on the stove, I managed to get 2 listings done. More tonight when the family is tucked in and the house is quiet.
Monday, October 6, 2008
Providence is lovely, especially in the fall. Ornamental grasses with their full furry flowers, leaves scattered on the sidewalks, brilliantly painted Greek Revival homes (much like my friend's where we stayed) adorned with pumpkins, mums, and kale. Ahhh...
Before I left for my mini vacation, I introduced my girl to watercolors. She loved the process of wetting her brush and swirling in the paint, wetting the brush again, swirling in the paint again, wetting her brush...you get the idea. Even though very little painting was done, she was still mastering a skill, a tool, that will aid her in the painting to come. She delighted to discover the water changed colors as she swirled and wetted her brush. Of course, I changed the water several times in order to avoid that unavoidable murky gray concoction.
When I sit down at my bench today, rather than cranking out finished pieces one after another, I will choose a technique and work to master and explore that technique. Today will be less about production and more about discovery. What will you discover today?