Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Random Thoughts.....

Lookie! I'm in a treasury on Etsy!! It's my Sock Monkey Earrings, woot!
You can see the treasury here and my etsy listing for these guys here



Today postal rates changed for the United States Postal office.  Domestic rates increased by just pinch.. heck if you ship your items via online printing, they hardly went up at all.  ( 3oz or less package on the Internet yesterday cost $1.64, today costs $1.69)

Where it hurts is international.  Most international rates doubled or more... even to Canada!! 

This means I have to raise my postage rates on international shipments dramatically.  I didn't get many international orders before and now I expect I'll get zero........ and on my destash site I"m going to restrict the heaviest items to US only.  I hate to do that, but I doubt anyone is going to want to pay the new rates on heavy shipments anyway. 


And it means I have to spend a couple of hours updating my Etsy listings to reflect the higher rates.  ugh.  I so would rather work on my jewelry projects.  Even dishes might out-rank this process.....

My Lady's Weekend Out is coming up.. unless something changes (see below) I'm going down Feb 13th through 17th.  I can't wait!! I can't wait!! I can't wait!!   I get to visit my best buddies Sue & Cathie (and their posse ) for a couple of days of beady goodness-- shopping, pj's in the studio, eating too much ( but it's a vacation, so it's OK) maybe even a drinkie-poo or 2.  We always have a blast, and laugh our heads off and catch up and just have a grand old time.  Oh, and we make stuff. 


Course I might have to!  (here is that "something")  Though it's for the best of reasons... my daughter, the budding Thespian, is going to state level of competition for IHSSA.  (it's speech, with lots of theatre arts added in )

If they win at state, they go to All-State, which is the Sat of my trip.  I want her to win... if she does then we have to reschedule the weekend... but again it's such a good reason!!   So keeping fingers crossed... and if she doesn't go to the next level, I'm so darn proud of her going to state I could SQUEEE! . 

Hey!! Lori Anderson's bead soup blog hop is on!! I signed up.. hopefully you have already, I believe the sign ups are closed now...

This changing postage rates on almost 300 listings ( between my 2 shops) is taking forever!! 

I really feel for the Canadians.  I have no idea why they had to double the rates to Canada, other than they can.  ugh.

I wonder if rates to the us from international parts is going to go up as much? I don't buy much overseas, so I  guess I'll deal with that when it comes up.

My Hubby came up with the loveliest thing the other day.  He was telling his co-workers ( He's working part-time in retail while going back to school) he was married before me, and said that his first wife was merely pretty, while I'm all wonderful.  I'm feelin' kind of misty eyed and newly-wed ... and it's been 18 years.  Not that he didn't know he would get major brownie points for telling me about this.. what else is 18 years of marriage experience good for, but to know what 's gonna fly on the home front?? (He really is a good guy!)

I sent in jewelry to my photographer last week to get new jury photos made up.  I picked out items from my newest trend of upcycle/recycle, salvage, etc.  I'm keeping fingers crossed ... as soon as I get these bad boys in my hot little hands I need to double time signing up for shows.  I'm running behind but I want to get these photos first.

I had other stray thoughts, but my eyes are crossing from fixing all of my listings. 



Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Industrial chic? steampunk? I need better words!

The beyond kewl swirl thingies are from a 1935 royal typewriter. Any of the jewelry on my blog is available for sale.  These earrings are on etsy right now!

The meaning of life and everything.. the numbers come from a NCR built between 1950 to 1968. 

This is the paper guild from a 1935 royal typewriter.  I very carefully shaped it around a mandrel after I cut, filed and sanded the edges.  It's so simple but I love it!
Can I still use the word chic,and be kewl?    These pieces are not exactly steampunk.. but they are recycle/ upcycle / salvage / green whatever you want to call them.  I'm going to have to figure out what I want to call my stuff... I can't decide.  But whatever I call it, it's darn fun!   I'm working on a series of faces now from old machine parts... I'll blog that soon... I want to get more of them done first.  Here are 3 pieces I've made since the start of the year.

I pick through my baggies of parts ( I'm trying to keep them labeled so I know what came from what.. I've already got a small bag of pieces that I've lost track of where they came from) clean them, seal them when necessary, and then lay them out and think about them.  Sometimes I sketch out an idea.  I've had the bracelet idea in the last picture for 2 months.. since Jerry and Dan took the typewriter apart.  We've since acquired a few more typewriters, so I can make a couple of more.  It amazes me how different each typewriter's guts are, even among the same brands.  If I ever trip over another 1935 royal typewriter I  want it! assuming it was the same style that is.. We have a royal typewriter from the same era ( it's early 1930's but I don't have an exact date for it... the serial # data base doesn't list them just dates when it was made) but it's considerably different in style.

I'm having a blast!! Jerry is having a blast!!! the customer's are having a blast!! I think this is the most exciting chapter of my jewelry making passion yet!

Monday, January 21, 2013

what's new that I'm excited about....

These are old.. but do they look old? (plastic icky gear is from the 1950-1968 NCR cash register we got this summer, old key was a gift from a friend)
Now we're talking!! I use bronze coating, with Tiffany green patina
More of the plastic cogs/gears after a "treatment"

Side by side comparison 


 Today I want to gab about one of the newer products I'm really excited about.  It's called Swellegant, it's a line of metal paints, patinas and oxides to patina and colorize, well, just about anything.

When I say "metal paint" I don't mean just that they are formulated to stick to metal.. I mean they are metal.  Each metal paint has tiny flakes of the real thing suspended in a resin like liquid.  I think it's helpful to think in terms of "plating" instead of mere "painting" . (yes, yes I know, plating is a very specific term for a electro-chemical process but work with me here)

You literally paint or sponge 2-4 coats of the metal paint of your choice on whatever object you wish ( the metal coatings are copper, bronze, iron, silver, and brass) and then add 1 more coat with the patina of your choice ( darkening, gold/green and Tiffany green/rust) or the oxides (13 colors at the moment)(the patinas work best on a damp piece, so you usually apply it before that last coating is dry)

Now, the magic ingredient to Swellegant?  You are going to hate this ( I know I hate this) ...........................


PATIENCE

Yep, every time you coat the piece, you have to wait to let it dry.  Each coat ( and it will take more than one to fully cover something) should have around 30 minutes to air dry.. at least to the touch.  Then before you seal it you should let it dry thoroughly ( they recommend overnight, since the studio is so cold right now I'm giving it a couple of nights) and then you have to give the sealer 72 hours before completely dry/cured.  And if you are doing a 3D piece ( such as the key and cog) you have to do each side one at a time.  This past week whenever I had 5 minutes I would add a layer to whatever side's turn it was than then hit the other side an hour or so later.  In some ways, since I have so little time in the studio during the work week, this works well.  I would paint for 5 minutes, wash my brushes and then work on whatever project is on my desk at the moment. 

A note on the patinas... they work on regular metal too, not just the metal coatings.  the Darkening solution is one of the best I've every worked with!! It's super fast on copper.  The other 2 patinas take more time to develop, and it helps if you keep it moist.




That means you will spending a week making a piece up, before you can use it. 

I did buy 2 oxides to play with, and I plan to buy the rest shortly.  I got all the patinas and metal coatings and the sealer.

Swellegant isn't widely available yet, if you wish to try it I suggest B'Sues store .  She also got tuts and videos on it's use ( as well as many other tuts and videos on jewelry making)  

There is also a great overall how to use PDF from the makers of Swellegant.




Saturday, January 19, 2013

cleaning out my 2012 pictures

Made this in early October, it sold at the first show I had it at.
50-60's adding machine

old sewing machine parts and accessories.

yet another old adding machine, this one was made in Italy!  and ended up in a antique store in Des Moines, go figure

gorgeous cogs from the Italian Adding Machine
OK, that cleans out my file.  I really like the bat bracelet, and I bought another one but I don't want to make exactly the same bracelet of course.  The random pics of old appliances we bought I wanted to show because that's where my jewelry seems to be shifting more and more too... salvage, reuse, upcycle, recycle, etc.  I got a good bargain on the adding machines.. we both both of them at the same place.  They are both now ripped up and I have the parts.. waiting on inspiration..  thought I've made some earrings using the most adorable ( can I use that word when talking about cogs??? ) cogs you ever saw, little thick ones.  They are like the popcorn shrimp of the reuse world... you can never have enough of them!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

clearning out my 2012 picture files

I did this etched plate and used some of it for the bead soup blog hop last year   I thought I worked fabulously so I wanted to make another.  I use the glass cab to figure out what pattern I wanted as the background....

Then a sharpie marker to trace my shape out.  Don't worry.. a little rubbing alcohol takes the marker right off.

Since it's only 24 GA I used shears to cut it out.  I"m somewhat ( I'm afraid to admit) sawing impaired.  it's on my wish list this winter-break to use the saw more.

Then I filed, sanded, cleaned, patina'd , polished and assembled the pieces.  I originally planned on a large necklace with multiple etched brass pieces but I couldn't ever make it look right.  I finally settled on just making it a pendant necklace.  I still have large chunks of that etched brass plate to play with -- yum!
I still have a few pics in the files from last year that I want to blog about, and then we will get to the new stuff! woot!  Back in February of last year, I participated in the Bead Soup Blog Hop  and had a blast!  I made a glass cab, then mounted it on brass etched plate.  I liked how it looked so much I set up a second one at the same time for me to play with later.  Well, later was much later... It got shifted around from this pile of projects to that pile of projects.. I guess I didn't really want to work on it because I'd lost my vision of it.  I had plans to make a very large, segmented collar necklace with multiple brass pieces .. I even cut out 4 of links.  But when I tried to put it together it just didn't look right.. certainly not like the idea in my head.  So the poor thing got politely ignored until this fall, when I finally gave up the collar idea and just made it a pendant necklace.  I like it better this way.. I think the collar idea wasn't working because there was too much going on.. you were not sure if the main thrust of the necklace was the glass cab or the etched brass.  Now it feels much more married in the design, just keeping it simple.  On Project runway, they call this "editing" .  ( I love that show!)

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Family that eats Chocolate together.....

Baby Bear...

Papa Bear

Momma Bear
Stays together!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Custom work challenges

a "vibrant" crayon cuff approx 5-3/8th inches
I love doing customer requests!  Some of the best pieces of jewelry I've ever made is because a customer has an idea and needs me to translate it for them.  It's both a challenge and a privilege to help someone Else's  vision to fruition.  Most of my customer jobs though, are much simpler -- they want THIS! but can I do it in blue?, or they need the size adjusted.   That last one is usually the easiest.. when Jerry and I  travel to do shows, I always bring tools and extra stuff just so I can do sizing changes on the spot.

I always make my jewelry in a range of sizes, but I do tend to make things longer or bigger than average, just because in most cases it's much easier to make adjustments downward, instead of adding to something.  (though I do both tasks with a smile on my face!)

I'm fond of telling folks while I adjust stuff that if we were all the same, this would be the most boring job ever, instead of one of the best!

The vast majority of my jewelry is easy to adjust... there are exceptions to the rule of course.  One of those exceptions is my popular "crayon cuff" design.  I have a few easy options if someone wants them slightly  bigger than I've made them.. but if they need it smaller? that requires that I make a brand new bracelet sized just for them.   I never ever mind doing this.. any excuse to make jewelry is a good one!  When it's at shows, I can measure the wrist and mail it later.  But what if the customer is ordering through Etsy?

After much trial and error over the years, I've finally come up with a method that works most of the time.





I took the measurements the customer gave me and make a template in my sketchpad, allowing room for the clasp



My cuffs tend to be pretty thick... so I ask the customer to cut a piece of paper approx 1/4 to 1/2th inch wider than the bracelet I'm making. (the adjustment is for how thick the bracelet actually is.. the thicker it is, the more you need to adjust the width of the paper for the customer.)  They wrap it around their wrist so it sits comfortably, mark it, lay it flat and measure that.  I take that measurement to make the bracelet.  It's not fool proof..but it gives a pretty good picture of the size most of the time. 

I usually weave in the crystals while the bracelet is still flat, then gently bend into shape as the last step.
I had the pleasure last week to make a customer a bracelet that is much smaller than normal... she did a great job of measuring her wrist, because she's reported that it fit perfectly and she loves it! (something every jewelry artist loves to hear!)  She also wanted it "vibrant" so I used more crystals, including some of my vintage stash.  So, if anyone out there wants something made just for them, I"m just an email away! 
To the left is the commission, to the right is the bracelet the customer originally saw on Etsy

To give a good idea of the size difference, here is the new cuff inside the old one!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Muse Box II

I really really really have to stop buying things.  I need to spend my money on show entry fees right now and new jury pics, but when B'Sue had another round of Muse boxes, how can I say no? (you can see my first Muse box here) 

It's a lovely bunch of stuff to play with.. and Sue is getting to know me also... amongst the treasures is a vintage watch to tear apart! woot!

There are a bunch of small brass stamping charms in this, including a bunch of the safety pins which I've decided I absolutely adore!!

I've already designed 2 pairs of earrings in my head with just what's in the box. (and yes, one of them will have safety pins in it-- or at least they do in my head)

The Large brass stamping on the outside of the baggie is 5 inches long and 3 inches wide

Really love how this chain looks

Sue really knows me!

Here is the overall shot... lots of fun stuff to keep me busy busy busy!
She also sent what I'm assuming are laser cut wood charms... which I'm seriously thinking about trying the swellegent products on them. ( which is a different blog entry hopefully in the near future)  I am not honestly that thrilled about wood beads... but if I can "plate" them with say, bronze, that might just be the ticket.  Though the kitty moon charms are very sweet.

Anyway, here are a couple of pics to show my booty... will anyone throw things if I make a joke about booty calls?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Books! Books! Books!

I love books! Adore them... admire them.  Even bad books... books are wonderful and lovely and I'm so pleased that my hubby and daughter are book lovers also.  You should see the slush pile to be read ... probably over 100 books piled on the TV waiting their turn.

It's not only fiction that I adore... I love biographies and history books... and of course books on beading and jewelry making.

While I do not believe, other than from a storage viewpoint, one can have too many books... it's that storage viewpoint that wins in the end.  Either that, or you have to buy a bigger house.  Since my house is already ridiculously big for a family of 3 people and 4 cats... well, sometimes the collection has to be pruned.

We did this for our regular books this past summer when we had our first ever ( and possibly only) garage sale.

I occasionally weed out jewelry books in January, and sell them at the great, annual beady garage sale at my local beadshop, Artistic Bead.

This year it's 1/19/13 10-2pm.   How it works is you package and inventory items you no longer want, bring it into the store and for a small cut of the sales, Cheryl sales them for you.  Even the years I don't sell anything I really look forward to checking out what other people no longer want to play with.  I've picked up some great stuff over the years... and at great pricing.  And in turn got rid of stuff I didn't want.

I haven't really gone through my books and magazines thoroughly for some time, so today I started to leaf through books and it struck me how much my jewelry has changed over the years.. especially in the last 2.

When I started, I started with seed beads.  When I started to sell jewelry, I did mostly stringing.  Now I'm working with wire, metal and reclaimed items.  I still do the other stuff, but they are no longer my driving passion.

Several of the books on my shelves are devoted to seed beading.  While I'm going to keep some, I certainly don't need everything I have.

In fact I think I'll be looking with a very critical eye toward my magazine collections.  I stop getting and reading Bead & Button magazine 2 years ago.  To that point, I have every issue... including the impossible to find first year of them.

Do I really need to keep them now?  I haven't decided yet, but  if you had asked me a few weeks ago I wouldn't have considered it.

Back in the 1990's when I started, the big rage in seed beading was Russian.  I  bought every Russian bead book I could get my hands on---- but I went through them today, and nothing really called my name.  I am keeping a couple of them, but the rest are going in the sale pile.  A couple of years after the Russian craze, Japanese books -- very nice slick paper,  mostly designs with crystals and seeds -- hit the scene and again I bought several.  Again I'll probably keep some, but I'm sure some will find their way into the pile.

This makes me eye my Delica collection.  (for those who don't know, they are incredible precise precision made seed beads from Japan) I've not bought any Delica beads in YEARS... but I haven't used them for that long either.  Yet, I have probably 250+ colors of them neatly stored in my studio.  I know I'd never get my money out of them ( they are hideously expensive) and yet, thinking about them sitting there, unused, it starting to bother me.

should they stay, or should they go?

These are in the sale pile



I know any books I decide to part with will get fabulous new homes and hopefully become some one's treasure.

Meanwhile, I have lust in my heart for the newest enameling book that's out.  Cause you can never, ever have too many books.


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Flea Market Finds 01/05/13

I love going to the flea Market!! I love when I can spend 3-4 hours and go through the booths leisurely and really get to look at things and talk to the vendors -- you can really learn stuff taking time to talk to the vendors ---

But this morning I only had approximately 1-1/2 hours to browse due to time commitments elsewhere.  Still I'm not going to miss the first chance to go in 2 months!!

So I set the clock on my phone and ran through as much of the Flea Market as I could.  Even with the time limit I found some good stuff.  I bought a few books  because I cannot resist cheap paperbacks.

I found very strange but kewl metal stickers ... Stanley's Metal Seals.  the normally come 10 in a box but there are only 4 left..  However I've discovered alot about this company with just a bit of net searching... here is a very nice article here ,  and they are still in business making signs and such here .  Mine are from 1926 and I only paid a quarter for them! woot!

I also picked up a few watch/watch parts and a very interesting handle part.

The necklace is all glass/crystal,and I just love the aqua/blue/green mixes.  I am sure I can come up with a stunning design just using this necklace.

I also bought a whole box of instant camera and gear for $7.00.  I'm going to double check the cameras to make sure I didn't pick up any of the handful of valuable ones.  If not they will eventually go under the knife (OK, more like the hammer and screwdriver) and be reborn in very interesting jewelry.

For those in the Des Moines area, go to the flea market at the state fairgrounds- it runs until 4pm today, and again tomorrow 9-4pm.  It's always fun to walk around and check stuff out, even if you don't want to buy anything.  You just never know what you will find there.

only a couple of watch things this go around.. I didn't have time to really look today like I normally do.

pretty! and I talked him down so it was a deal!

The big camera in the back is the J66 Land camera, from 1961 or 1962. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year! 2013

My Christmas present to the business... a color laser printer.  I've wanted one of these bad boys for years!
Happy New Year everyone!

I don't have much to say today.. I'm too busy finishing up end of year inventory, working on commissions and catching up on several other projects.

I won't have any shows until May ( except for a few home shows) so it's definitely time to catch up business records, updating website/blog/etsy stores --- and hopefully to make new pieces of jewelry.  I love this time of year, because I can afford to take the time to make bigger pieces, and "allow" myself to make mistakes cause that's where some of the best designs come from.  Without the pressure of production, I can learn new techniques and polish ones that take longer than an hour of time.  If a week goes by and I get 2 pieces done, it's all OK.  During show season I need to get 2-4 pieces done a night.  Even if you love what you are doing, that takes a toll.  I haven't made much of anything in the past month, and I'm getting that lovely, itching feeling ... that desire to make stuff again.  I love that feeling-- I'm so very glad it's back!

And I can fire up the Kiln again!   I'm planning on cleaning it thoroughly and start up glass runs this weekend- next weekend at the latest.


And New year resolutions?? Well, I just don't want to go there, except maybe try to stay flexible.  This year will be a great one for changes and I think just being flexible is the best I can do.  I think it's the only one I can make and be honest with myself and actually obtain as a goal.

OH! I know.... keep a sense of humor.  Sort of goes along hand in hand with staying flexible.  If I can still laugh about something, it's all going to be OK in the end.

So ..... flexible and humor.  It's gonna be an interesting year!