Monday, January 31, 2011

What's on my desk this week....

This started out a a bracelet, and somewhere along the way I decided that just wouldn't do. So now I"m making it into a necklace. I'm using these great unused vintage brass stampings for the back of the necklace.
I had 4 of these findings, so I've made one set into earrings. I'm hoping to finish this up maybe tomorrow, because I have a commission to work on, need to do my "homework" for my class Wednesday and I need to pack for my annual South Dakota Trip next week! WOOT!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

And now for something not completely different....

I had a great time at my Art Center class yesterday!! And what would this jewelry artist take at the Art Center? In the past I've taken a bezel class, lampworking and a reactive metals class. This time It's not a jewelry class, though I have no doubt I will be able to apply some of it to jewelry making. I'm taking a stain glass class. It's a shorter class ( only 5 weeks for me, as I'm out of town for one of them) but I already love the teacher! He's a retired high school art teacher named Jerry who has a fantastic dry sense of humor! He's very flexible, and he's like I'm showing you how I cut glass, lay out designs etc, but you do what works for you. I love teachers like that! I've taken one class where the teacher wasn't so generous on different styles, and well, that didn't work for me. I always seem to take that path less traveled, for good or ill.

The first class he walked us though a simple project from start to finish: design the pattern, how to transfer the pattern ( or cartoon in stain glass lingo) to glass, how to cut the glass, how to finish the ends of the glass, foiling the glass, adding flux and then soldering it all together. He would do the first couple pieces at each stage ( the pattern only had 6 pieces of glass in it in - 6 different colors) and then he would announce he was "tired" and needed a rest and invited us students to try our hand at it. It took to the grinding stage for most of the students to figure out he wasn't really tired, he was trying to help us all work through our fears of failure! He did all of the soldering but only because we were running out of time.

It was utterly fascinating how different soldering stain glass is compared to silver soldering!

Next glass he will demonstrate leaded stain glass soldering and we will work on our first project, a stain glass cement stepping stone. This isn't stain glass per say (it's not soldered) , but it's made using stain glass pieces, and it's excellent practice on cutting glass, which judging from my fellow class mates is the "scary" part of working w/ stain glass. Since I've been cutting glass for over a year, not so much a problem for me.. but still , watching him cut glass gave me some ideas to try to improve my cutting.

We have homework.. make our pattern (cartoon) for the stepping stone...

I can't wait til Next Weds!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Lori Anderson's contest!

oh man! I am so in serious tool lust here!! Lori Anderson at Pretty Things is running a contest to win a great set of new stamps from PJ Tool & Supply. go to her blog to get the details!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

What's on my mind today

Most of you know I have a day job like most artists, to take care of everyday needs like food and mortgage.

I'm feeling very weird, as my office building caught on fire on Sat. We are getting relocated to the other downtown location for now. Still Monday is going to be strange. My brain, which doesn't seem to shut off anyway, keeps coming up with more and more questions about work.

Will we even be able to work on Monday? .. we are talking about 90 or so people just from my floor alone, having to be transplanted in just under 72 hours to another building. Nothing so far can be transferred from my old building, due to smoke/water/fire damage, at least at this time. Just getting all that office equipment -- desks, computers, chairs, office supplies etc etc etc, pulled together and up and running for that many people, without being able to use the old stuff.... My boss says yes, but this will be quite a feat. They also have to be able to transfer the other floor's workers too.. the whole building will be abandoned for now, as they sort out the issues caused by the fire. Not even sure at this point if the building will remain, it's all up in the air right now.

And of course all of my associated mundane personal issues. I didn't keep anything "valuable" at work, but that doesn't mean I don't have treasures that I may or may not get back. I have several drawings done my beloved daughter that I would hate to lose. I had a whole collection of cartoon toys decorating my desk, and of course pictures of my family. I had a clock that my Dad made me with his own two hands.

And of course to do my job I had manuals and cheat sheets, which at this time we cannot pull from the old building. Most of this stuff is online on the company intranet, but there is a reason you make manuals and cheat sheets, because for some things it's just more efficient to briefly glance at the info on paper, instead of searching for it in company documentation. I had stickies going around my computer screen with the top codes / bits of info I needed for my job. (Will they have pens, scratch paper, stickies ready for Monday?)

I fortunately took my ipod home on Fri, but not the headset. Jerry is going to buy me a new one to use for now. I know it's silly, but that hurts alittle. I just got this headset at Christmas from him, as an extra Christmas present after the fact. We were browsing at Office Max and he came up with it in his hand, because he remembered I "mentioned" a month or so b4 that my old one was wearing out. (the old one was in my desk at work also) It was so wonderful that he remember what was more or less a throw away remark!! ( I love being married to this man!!)

And since I'm asthmatic, even if I get this stuff back, there is a good chance I won't be able to be around it. It's heart breaking to think I can get my stuff back relatively unharmed but will still have to throw it away because of lingering smoke smell.

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure it will be fine ( if Chaotic) at work this coming week.. and they will iron out all the issues quickly and I have a great manager who's probably not sleeping right now trying to get everything ready. And boy I"m so glad I have a job to report to on Monday, even if it's going to be strange and completely different.

But I hate feeling so out of control of my own fate. I think I will go upstairs in the studio and reorganize my blue beads or something, just to feel like I can control something.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Part III: the necklace and philosophical meanderings

I really love how this necklace turned out. The metal piece is silver plated brass, and then I used pearls, sterling, crystals and pewter drops to flesh it out. Again it's got a great vintage vibe to it, something I'm really into right now.

OK I've always been into vintage, but the last few months it's gotten to be a serious creative branch in my tree of thinking. One of my goals for this year is to steer my creative impulses into more or less defined "lines" of jewelry. This is actually kind of scary, as I've always just made whatever I want with a few bread and butter pieces on the side. When a person looks at my jewelry booth or even my artfire store it's a crazy mix of mediums and styles. While this is a strength (I'm really versatile), it's also a weakness (it's crazy). If you look around my booth, it's hard to lock on to a peculator piece of jewelry, because it's a riot of color and types. They always say to "group" your jewelry, by price color etc, so it's easier for the customer to find items.

When jewelry makers talk about lines or collections they usually mean just 2-3, and they stick to that. I know I can't do that, that's too confining for me. But what if I have 8-10 "lines" or broad groupings for my jewelry? I have the perfect displays now for such an adventures, when my Husband and I bought the shelves for the booth last year. I figure each shelf can be it's own "line" or "collection". We tested that in the 2ND half of the show season, and it seemed to be working. That way folks who like pearl jewelry just went to the pearl shelf, and those who like stone focused on that shelf. I'm just expending that idea this year, and really going to focus on that idea. So far I don't feel limited or stressed at all. Right now I'm just making what I feel like, and then in April or so I'll figure out what "collections" I have, and try to fill in the blanks from there. I also figure I can have more than 8 collections if I want- Since at the start of show season I usually have enough jewelry to fill 2 jewelry booths, I can always just hold a collection or 2 back, and rotate them at shows. That will certainly keep my booth fresh through the year!
Matching earrings of course.
The humble beginnings

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Brass leaf necklace

OK, with the second piece I used a brass stamping that's been colored black. It's hard to tell from the starting photo, but the leaf is really thin, and it has wonderful texture on one side. I made it the centerpiece of a pendant, adding black crystals, white pearls and some vintage beads. I used 3 chains for the necklace.. again it's good this great vintage feel going on, yet with the black color, it's got a modern edge to it. I'm actually working on a whole line of jewelry for this year mixing the vintage with a dash of modern. It's great fun to play around with findings that could have been made 100 years ago, and making them modern with the flirty vibe of vintage.

Monday, January 17, 2011

What's on my desk....

I had a busy weekend, unfortunately very little of it was in the studio making happy crazy creative stuff!! Don't get me wrong, I had a very good time.. Saturday was Game Day for the hubby and friends, my daughter had friends over and I took my mom shopping and fudge, and Sunday got together with my sis-in-law Karla for a belated birthday treat for her... we all saw the Green Hornet ( It was OK, but it was 2 boy-centric. saying more than that will only spoil the plot, such as it was, so I'll stop there) Between all of that I did household chores, finished up on business paperwork for 2010 and worked on apps for shows this summer.
Still I found some time to create.. the top pictures shows the great findings/beads that I've been wanting to play with. This week I'll show you what I make with them. Of the four, I've made 3 things, and first up is a great pair of brass stampings which are silver-plated. they have a lovely trailing design on them, but I found I liked them better from the back. So I gently hammered them flat, and wired them so the back shows instead of the front. I dangled them from pearls and sterling. By switching the back to the front, I think they have a great vintage vibe. I think they make great drop earrings this way, and I am seriously tempted to just keep them!
Tomorrow I'll show you another one.. and I'm hoping to have time maybe Weds to work on the last project !

Saturday, January 15, 2011


My brain won't shut up. Morning, noon, night.... it's always got at least 1 main conversation going on, and at least 4 side ones.

The river of thoughts

brain bobs along the surface

not reaching the shore

Monday, January 10, 2011

Kat's Little Helper....

This evening trying to take jewelry photos for my Artfire Studio store.. And one of my little mischief makers decided to help me!

I especially like this photo.. remember in Fantasia where the thunder god is throwin' down the bolts??
The traditional let's lick the camera to make sure I can't eat it photo...

inside the photo area... checking out which background would compliment his fur...
fortunately Kass was just passing through...

What's on my Desk Today

I've had a couple-3 of commissions the last week, I finished the 2ND to the last one today. Here is a shot of my messy messy desk as I wire wrap.

The customer wanted this special cab wrapped in gold-filled wire. When we had our consultation, we agreed which side was the "face" and orientation.

As I wrapped it, I really started to look at the back side and decided I liked both faces!

So here is the official "back"

and here is the official "front".

I'm hoping the customer will appreciate being able to choose which side she feels like on any given day. I love doing commissions, and this was really fun.. the stone has personal meaning to her, which makes the wrapping extra special!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Just when I thought I had it figured out...

You know how I said my goal is to list 3-5 new items each monday in my Artfire store? This week it's not going to happen.

It's 2 weeks into the new year, and all ready I am messing up my goals! LOL That's ok though, it's in a good cause. And if you are an artist, you have to flexible!

I've been really seriously studying online selling this week, specifically as it pertains to selling on Artfire.

I've concluded that having a few supplies listed (other than ones I forge or fuse) is conflicting with my goals. One of the kewl things on Artfire is a program where your studio can be identified as handmade items only. It's call Certified Handmade Artisan. You get a badge on your studio home page showing you have gone through the process. I feel it's important, especially in these days of buy/sell, to be correctly identified. This helps potential customers know that I really make what I say I make.

Still as a jewelry artist, I often buy items in bulk to save money, or sometimes the only way to buy what I want requires I buy 10 of something, when I only need 3. So I'm always going to have a few items to destash. Cheryl's yearly garage sale at Artistic Beads is a godsend to get rid of some of it, but not all. (If you are in the Des Moines Area, Cheryl's Garage sale is Jan 22th, great fun and a great way to pick up some supplies at a great price!)

So I've decided to open a second Artfire shop to sell my extra supplies: Kats_Destash . That way I keep my art separated from my leftovers. Not sloppy leftovers mind! I just have lots of stuff after doing this for 14 years!

It's going to take some work to get all the listings transferred from my primary studio to the Destash, so listing new items isn't going to work out for Monday. My goal is to get all the items transferred and apply for the program during this week.

I'm also going to keep my Etsy shop open for now. My original plan was to let it fade away, but after some conversation with fellow artists, I think it's important to keep my options open for now. It doesn't hurt to have as much exposure as possible, eh? So I'll be listing new items there 2 or 3 times a week as well. I'm hoping to get back on schedule with all of these plans next week.

My studio on Artfire however will be my primary tool for selling online. It's the one I will be promoting, listing on my website and blog etc.

So how are your goals going for 2011?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Just how old is jewelry anyway???

I love love love beads, jewelry, and making jewelry. I don't expect everyone to share these feelings of course. But I might be on to something, after all beads have been around a really long time. Scientists are discovering it's even longer than they thought, possibly 100,000 years or more! It's extremely probable that jewelry is even older, a reasonable speculation. After all, beads made out of less hardy materials than shells wouldn't survive the years to be found. It's a minor miracle how many have been found at digs as it is.

Scientists love studying pre-historic beads. It shows how early man fashioned purely symbolic objects, which is what makes man, well, man. Thinking, assigning values to something that has no relationship to the object. It's what we humans do!! It's using things that have no value beyond the meaning we subscribe them.

Art is the purest form of this. Art only means what we think it does. That doesn't make art any less real or important.. but it does make it a very interesting part of us. A necessary part I think.

Sometimes jewelry is not counted as art, and it's because it has intrinsic value beyond a pieces' artistic merits. You can wear it. I think this is a bonus, not a detraction! I have no doubt that beyond some caveman's symbolic notions about shells beads, he also thought them pretty.

I'm not saying all jewelry is art, but some of it is. Jewelry certainly deserves our respect - it's been around a long long time. I think it will be around for a long time to come.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

One last picture from 2010

I just had to share this. I had a couple of left over photos of jewelry pieces in my "do a blog about" folder for 2010. I'm cleaning them out tonight, but just had to share this last one. This started out life as a tear drop filigree bead from Vintaj Natural Brass. It's sold, but it's such a good idea I want to make more of them! The filigree beads are "open" so you can carefully pry them apart, and then I folded the horizontal bars and the top vertical just a tad to make the traditional cross shape. Had to add a vintage crystal of course.

I think these would make nice gifts, maybe do them with birthstone colors? Or pearls.. you can't go wrong with pearls. Maybe add a circle id pendant in back, with someone's name. Wouldn't that make a wonderful present for a loved one?

I wonder if I can find smaller versions of the beads to make matching earrings.......

Something to think about!

Tomorrow I start my Artfire Studio plan of listing every week. Hopefully by the time show season starts in May, I will have 150 or more items listed. It's going to be so nice when folks ask me if I sell from my website I can give a straight forward yes! instead of the normal I just don't have time to keep up online explanation.

I hope everyone had a good New Year!!