Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Before, During, and After

Ah. The Common Ground Country Fair was excellent! Three days of greeting, chatting, and selling (and eating glorious organic food, LOTS of food!), two mornings for set-up and break down, weather of all sorts (including blustery winds, drizzle, and a frosty start on Saturday) has whooped me into a PJs week. I'll get dressed to run to the market and to Annabelle's pre-school, but lounging at home requires cozy pajamas.

Here's some pic of my Common Ground adventure.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sweet Tooth

After a furious and jovial morning of apple picking last week, I made a big batch of applesauce and this pie. My best pie ever, if I do say so myself. We celebrated our 5th anniversary the same day, so the air vents in the dough reflect our union. The pie is now gone... next time I'll save you a piece, maybe :)

Besides creating in the kitchen, I worked away in the studio for the weekend preparing inventory for the Common Ground Country Fair which begins Friday morning. I wish I knew when to stop making items. It never seems like I'll have enough inventory... not that I will sell out, but I want my booth to look FULL! By tomorrow morning, I should have all pieces completed, priced and packed. Then, onto to some last minute booth changes (adding a drape at the back of the tent, adding more hanging panels for the "walls" of the tent, painting a checkout stand).

Here's rings from the Candy Collection. The top photo are the rings waiting for their vintage buttons. I have a few more almost complete. I adore making rings and most likely have far too many for this show. What doesn't sell will go into my Etsy shop!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Reveal or.... What Not To Do When Making Bezels

The finished product. I fumbled, stumbled, and fouled during the fabrication of this piece. On a scale from 1-100, I'm giving this a 64. When making the bezels, I stretched a few so they were a bit too large and a few were a bit too tall for their buttons. The result: poorly fitting bezels with too much metal to move onto the button. These are all things I know... I could have remade and file these down, but I was racing towards the finish line. Silly, silly woman.

I considered leaving the whole piece in brushed silver. However, the bright silver bezels (read: bumpy, uneven, warped) distracted from the symphony of the buttons. To match the, lets say, "rustic" look, I gave the necklace a nice antiqued patina. Whatcha think?

I think using thin gauge fine silver bezel wire creates a rustic, handcrafted look. When using 26 gauge sterling silver, the bezels retain their clean cylindrical shape. I just may use sterling bezel wire on another neckpiece like this to compare the two looks.

I lost one cluster of 18k loops while setting the buttons. I really didn't notice until I found the cluster in my drawer. I'll save that cluster for the next piece.

My willing model! However, she had on a fushia top, so we pull it off just for a moment to take the photograph.

Perhaps I'm too critical of this piece...we all do that, right? If we didn't, we would never grow as people and artists. Creating this piece was a great lesson, but also got the old creative juices following. I have more ideas, 2 similiar pieces in production, and thousands of buttons waiting for a good home.

One last thing.... this neckpiece needs a name. Any suggestion?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Dear Julia...

I don't read nearly as much as I once did. It is a shame, I know. I read plenty of children's books until I know each page word for word, but adult books have been low on the priority list in the past few years. However, I forced myself to create book time for myself during August (yup, dishes remained dirty for an extra hour or two each day, the computer slipped into sleep mode, and perhaps some soldering was delayed...but the world didn't stop because I read). Guess what? I really, really, really enjoyed getting lost in a good book, again!

The book was My Life in France by Julia Child. She collaborated with her grand-nephew, Alex Prud'homme, in the final stages of her life to put this work together. Reaching back into the 1950s, Julia recalled her time in France and the forces that guided her to cookery. Thanks to her vise-like memory and many old letters between Julia, her husband, family, and friends, the book was full of wonderful descriptions of dinners, moments, and good humor.

After finishing the book, I wondered if letter writing will survive the age of our electronic world. The art of letter writing as a communicative form has boiled down to greeting card pleasantries and proper etiquette. Pure letter writing (where criticisms are doled, partnerships are accepted, hearts are broken, and news is shared) has gone electric. It is far easier to click 'delete' and forever erase words in an email than to throw away a letter or card handwritten by the same person.

Of course, all this reading and thinking got me thinking about stationery and cards. When I was twelve, I received personalized stationery and envelopes from my Gram. Chocolate brown letterpressed script font on an pale mocha, deckle edged paper, this stationery was my most cherished gift, ever. I wrote letters, thank you's, get well's, and condolences on this stationery until my early twenties.

So, I turned to the many amazing craftspeople on Etsy to find some fine examples of handmade stationery and cards. Check out these elegant paper crafts.....


If these lovely items are not inspiration enough to pen a letter to your pal, I don't know what is!
In celebration of letter writing (and letter receiving), I am going to challenge myself to write more letters. But I need letter recipients! So, I turn to my blog readers! If YOU would like to receive a letter from ME, please email your address to: jen@quenchmetalworks.com

Thank you in advance!!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Work in Progress

Welcome to my latest project....a button cluster neckpiece that will look gorgeous on a winter bride. All the buttons are all vintage or antique white mother of pearl with various hues of peach, ivory, cream, and mink.

This is how I work out designs. I like to map all the components (in this case, buttons) onto some sketch paper and label each button's location.

Next step, many, many, many fine silver bezels! Did I mention bezels?

I love to solder....really, I do. If I did not, this piece would still be a mere sketch.

After soldering, I just had to take a picture of the piece on my chest (my plus sized chest, that is...on an average woman, this necklace will look bigger and more grand...my fleshiness dwarfs its actual size). Also, the finished piece will actually sit a tad bit higher.

Ah! Daylight photos!

I wish I had documented the process of tapering this 12 gauge sterling silver wire, but alas, I was too deeply engaged in the process to think of the camera.

The home stretch! To give this piece a bit of richness, I added some 18k gold loops and balls in three spots. After adjusting the neckwire's curvature, I'll bring up the finish and set the buttons. Check back mid week for the "reveal"!

Friday, September 4, 2009

My First Giveaway! and A Winner!

YAY! A giveaway!!!! We all love giveaways, right? In celebration of almost a year blogging and all the folks out there that follow my little blog, I'm offering up a Quench Metalworks' pendant! Special thanks to all my peeps on Facebook who voted for a pendant prize.

This is the prize that I have chosen for my first giveaway. My new circlet pendant in sterling silver....the jump rings that attach the chain to the pendant are 18k gold. Your choice of either oxidized silver or brushed silver. Just leave a comment by 6pm on Sunday, September 6th and you'll have your chance to win. The winner will be posted later that evening. Good luck!
Thank you all for commenting! The winner is..... Cindy from Hellcat Vintage! Congratulations, Cindy!!!