Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Heat is On....

Metal that is!!

Now that I have all of these lovely cut out bits in copper and bronze, it's time to add color them. I've played with alchol inks and paint before, but today I wanted to experiment with heat patinas. About half my bits are brass, and half are copper. The copper colored wonderfully... by the time I got to the last few bits I think I got the hang of it.. it doesn't take long to get a great purply-red and almost no time to loose it to an inky black. However black has it's place also.. but my point is it takes very little direct flame to color the copper.

The brass didn't color as well. That's OK, I'll do some more experiments on them.. I think maybe I need more flame, but the results are not consistent enough to be sure.. I'll do some research and try again. The top pic is brass, and the picture doesn't capture it well, but it has a very light pinkish shine in places.
None of the pictures capture the colors as bright as they are in person... I'll have to work on that as well!
Here is a group shot of all the copper I played with today.
Gorgeous color!!
only inky black! but I cleaned it off everything but the recesses and wow, it looks great! It turned the copper a darker color overall, I really like how it looks!
great hues from purple to green on this one!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

This has been a good day!

Here's a peek at what I am working on right now!

Got up, got out of bed, ran a comb across my head....

OK, this isn't a Beatles song, but it's been a very good day, busy, productive and all around feel good kind of day.

Today was my Annual book treat outing to my Mom.

Every year for Christmas I buy my mom a gift card to Half-Price Books. That's only half of the present though, cause we make a day of it, hitting the book store, hitting Nan's Nummies for fudge ( and cookie for me!) and then out to eat somewhere. That's at a minimum.

We both look forward to our afternoon together, especially as we share a huge love of books. Mom got to reminiscing in the car this time around, and I learned that she still has a school friend who lives in Des Moines ( they both grew up in another state and moved to Iowa at different times)

They were friends from at least 5Th grade on, which means they have been friends for 70 years. They used to walk to school together.


That's just so amazing!

I was suppose to pick up with Mom around 1pm, and since I got up early I putzed around the house, goofed on the computer and still had time to kill.

So I started working on something that's been teasing my brain for the last week or so... you can see a sneak peek at the top. I figured I could get it started, see if it would work or not... and after an hour of work I just couldn't stop.. I called Mom and she graciously agreed to a later pick up. Now I'm working with metal... cuting, bending, pounding, filing, and polishing. After almost 4 hours solid working with metals my both my hands hurt! I don't regret working on my new projects --- I'm very excited about them!! --- but maybe next time I'll chunk it out alittle and take a bunch of breaks to give my hands a rest.

I just wanted to get it finished so I could get to my Mom! I finally got all the pieces to the point where I could run them in the tumbler ( the photo is the load for the tumbler.. not everything pictured is for my current piece) and Left to pick Mom up.

I also set up the kiln to run a glass load while I was gone... I'm keeping fingers crossed that it turns out ... I'll have to check it either late tonight or tomorrow morning, it's still alittle hot right now.

It's almost 9pm now, I'm thinking I will just settle in and read one of the new books I have ( I scored a Georgette Heyer!! I haven't snagged a new Georgette in almost 2 months) and let my hands settle down ... and tomorrow I'll go to work again.

So great day... family, metalwork, fused glass, bakery goods and books. Woot!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

who cares about chores????

I have so MANY things that need to be done right now... household chores, researching art shows, filling out apps, doing bills, finishing up a commission, etc etc etc.

But I don't care!!

I order almost 2 lbs of mixed brass stampings, vintage glass cabs, vintage odds and ends, and it came in the mail today.

I'm going to sort, fondle, organize, and dream about what I'll make with my new goodies. I'm gonna put them in piles that make sense only to me, and store them in plastic bags. I'm going to count them and get some idea of what they cost me per piece. Some I'll put aside to sell on etsy, out with but most will be lovingly away in my stash. I might even make something tonight with them.

But I"m taking the night off and enjoying my treasure hunt!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Fake it til you make it

I started this months ago!! It's one of my fused glass cabs wrapped in Vintaj filigree. I got this far then stopped.. because I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with it.

I am still not sure, but I've added chain and crystals and it will do for now.. if I get a better idea I'll just pull it apart and redo it.

That's one the the aspects of making jewelry that so appeals to me. I always try to make things that I'm proud of, but sometimes I have a hard time feeling "proud" of anything in my life. Everything I make (or do) looks crappy to my eyes, and everything just feels wrong. I become frozen in place, afraid of any move I make cause nothing I do will be right anyway.

So sometimes you just have to make it, and trust in your abilities and good taste, even if you aren't feeling it right then. Cause if you decide ( when you are feeling saner!!) that you can do it better, well, then you can do it better.

Sometimes you just have to put one foot in front of the other, even if you don't know where you are going, because moving is better than not moving.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Mental Health Weekend....

Blues & purple, with dichro

I took Friday off from work as a mental health day. I finally got everything put away from my show last weekend, cleaned my studio ( and actually touch base in general house cleaning, as it's been neglected long enough to bother even my high threshold for dirty house!) and finally, finally got to play with glass. The nice thing is I"m pretty much free from household chores for the rest of the weekend cause I got most of it done Friday! WOOT!

I have 2 glass runs ready to go. I'm trying to make a artsy, net-like candle holder, so these 2 pictures show the glass ready to melt in the kiln. I put the top picture load in last night, and I'll run the blue/green load in tonight. My kiln will be cool enough soon so I 'll see what it looks like.. can't wait!!

Once I have the glass cleaned up, I'll run them trough the kiln again on the mold to slump them into shape.

Blues and Greens

Here's what my glass desk looks right right now... I'm setting up a pendant batch right now.
I went to the beady garage sale at Artistic Bead this morning... some really yummy stuff!
This crystal is to die for!!!
I got some yummy crystals, odd and ends, brass bits, metal clay tools, and a run of Art Jewelry from 2007. After the sale went out to eat at Maxie's for lunch with a friend. They really do have great onion rings!

And I stop by Nan's Nummies and got treats for this afternoon.

The only way this weekend would be better is if I get my package today.. but it's OK if I don't. With the garage sale stuff I've got hours of fun already.

Still, it's been an excellent weekend so far, I feel much more mentally healthy!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Random chores

Last batch of glass almost a month ago... urrrrrr!

I can't wait to get back to glass this weekend!!! I have 1 commission, and then I can do whatever I want this weekend in the studio!!

Well, actually I"ll probably clean it. Getting ready for that show last weekend I've not really put anything away, just stirred stuff on my desk around.

But I"m dyin' to get back to glass.

And I need to clean the house.. at least alittle. Or they will take away my Wife and Mom licence for making my family live in a substandard way. Damn.

This weekend is the Beady Garage Sale at the local shop.. I always look forward to that!
( I need to remember to buy black matte seeds in 6 or 8 or both.. almost out.....)

I'm working on a big order with some friends.. got to get that done too.

And I need to keep working on getting my jewelry transferred from Artfire to Etsy.

OH, and my daughter state play competition starts this weekend.. and I promised my mom to take her to the book store....

OH CRAP! I have 2 weeks to do my end of year taxes for the business and pay sales tax for 3-4 states.

I need to pull my Bead Soup Blog goodie bag for my partner Silver Parrot (OK, that's more of a pleasure than a duty!!)

ugh. Maybe I won't get to glass this weekend after all.... rats

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

artfire? etsy? artfire? etsy? something else????

Online selling. ugh.

Short story long, I've been trying to sell my jewelry online for over 5 years.

Now don't get me wrong, I totally understand with my time constraints It's never going to be a steady income stream.

I work full time, I'm a wife, a mom, a so-so house keeper and I don't get enough sleep as it is. Somewhere in all of those roles, I have to find time to make art. Finding time to sell it too is HARD.

I do 20-25 shows each year, and time is a serious issue.

I tried for 2 years to sell jewelry directly on my website -- I had a sales cart set up and everything.

I never sold anything that way. No traffic to speak of... and it's very hard to set up and maintain a shopping cart.

So I scaled down my website, deleted the cart and just linked to Etsy. I sold something maybe every 3-4 months on average.

Not quite 2 years ago I learned about Artfire, and last year went "pro" on it, and moved most of my jewelry to it.

I haven't hardly sold anything since that move.

I opened a new Etsy shop in July to sell destash items (mkpdestash) and I'm selling something almost every week.

So it seems like a good time to try Etsy again for jewelry on my old Etsy site MKPjewelry . Now I know selling jewelry vs. selling supplies is a much different thing, but Etsy seems to have much more traffic than Artfire overall, and they have made changes the last year that I really like. (And Artfire has made changes I don't!)

But I want to do it right.. I'm tired of the categories of "bracelets" and "necklaces". I've been trying to focus my jewelry over the last year more into "lines" so I'm working on getting all of the artfire listings transferred to Etsy and categorized by line instead of function.

I'll be talking more about this in the coming weeks ( months? remember my time issues!) for for example, the necklace pictured today would fall under my "Romantic Fancies" line. This line is where I use brass stampings, vintage jewelry bits, crystals, stones, found items, glass etc. to make a wide range of jewelry with a vintage flair but modern aesthetics. The piece above has modern brass stampings made with vintage tooling, vintage & modern glass leaves and flowers, crystals and chain.

I'll keep both sites up for a couple of months, and see how it goes. Then one or the other is going to get closed down... I just don't have the time or energy to market 2 different jewelry sites to sell on.

So take a look at both of them... Artfire , and then the Etsy.

Let me know which one you like. Or let me know if there is something in peculiar you like about the sites.. I want to know.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Well it's the 3rd day of the show........

and while I don't believe I"ll choose to do a gym meet in the future, it's been a pleasant experience so far. Just not profitable, at least in economic terms.

First for those of you in Des Moines it's being held at Vet's, and it now has floors. Serious!! They were not kidding about renovations. I mean, they added actual levels to the building!! It now has 4 floors and a Mezzo.

For those not in Des Moines and have no clue what I'm talking about, Vets is (was) a old fashion stadium, as in one big giant huge 3 story tall box of a room, to hold basketball games, concerts etc.

But now it has floors! It floored me! (hehehehe)

And they are very nice floors! We are on the Mezzo, with carpeting and really lovely bathrooms ( again, for those who know DSM, that isn't something that has ever been said about the bathrooms at Vet's before)

All my fellow vendors and the nice show volunteers are just super -- friendly, fun to talk to, and just down right nice as peaches.

The event has over 800 girls participating, with attendant family, friends, coaches etc. So I would guess 2000-3000 people have walked by my booth so far this weekend.

So the venue is super nice.

It's just that I'm not selling much. January is never a stellar month for jewelry anyway, coming on the heels of Christmas and large credit card bills, and I had no idea how well I would do at a large gymnastics meet, so I'm not crushed or anything; I view it as a learning experience. I can cross off doing this kind of thing from my list, though if it wasn't 4 very long days ( 8am to 9pm) you never know. ( say, 4 hours, on a weekend and free.. probably give it a go! )

I think the biggest factor is jewelry is mostly an impulse buy, and most of the adults are so focused on their kids right now, and aren't thinking impulsively. (and I think that's great on every level but the money one!! )

Still I've sold a few things (including my chain experiment necklace !! ) and had some great chats with vendors / customers/ browsers / etc.

and I've been very productive!! I've made several pieces while at the show -- here are some of them...

Rainbow chainmail!
These are mine!!!! the keys have a cat on them!

Here's a view of the dragonfly necklace I made, it has 3 strands on 1 side and 1 strand on the other... I"m really getting into this asymmetrical stuff!
close up of the pendant part.. the dragonfly is wrapped/ draped around the crystals.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Grand Tour: blanks and browns

I'm taking a grand tour of my jewelry making stash, box by box. Some of the adventures I 'll be sharing here on my blog
This one is all about wanting to play with my new toys. I finally got my hands on the new Vintaj embossing /etching plates and had to experiment. Now mind, this was in November, I'm running a few blog entries behind. So I had all of these lovely art metal pieces featuring owls, so of course I needed to make something with them!

I have so many browns and yellows, and most of them are vintage glass

I am so into chain right now, but I wanted something else to make the pieces pop. Owls like many birds have gorgeous coloration, including very striking black and brown markings. That made me think of some vintage brown beads I have that are called "tortoise shell" because they are this great swirly mix of browns, creams and blacks. Perfect for owls!!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Grand Tour : Rhinestones

I'm taking a grand tour of my jewelry making stash, box by box. Some of the adventures I 'll be sharing here on my blog

I love these images... someone took old paintings, added new backgrounds and cat kids to make new art, which I purchased for resin projects.

I've used them a few times, but lurking back in my heart was the idea of medieval miniatures or cameos using these images.

So when I saw these bezels on Etsy, I had to have them. They have that delightful old world feel with the swoops and details. they require rhinestones, so fortunately I have a stash of them, vintage and otherwise.

I really want these to feel old, not just look good, so before I applied the glass bubble top, I added a couple of layers of mica to give it that sepia tone. I also crinkled up one of the layers, to complete the more "aged" look to the "painting"

It's hard to capture by my camera, but you get some idea of the finished product here.. it really does look like a old painted portrait of a grand feline lady!

I haven't decided yet if I"m making these into necklaces or if I'll leave them as pendants.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Random Thoughs & Flea Market Finds

I just signed up for the Bead Soup Blog Party and I hope I get in!

Went to the flea market today at the Des Moines Fair Grounds. I found a couple of worthy things:

Yummy Crystals!

close up, old chandelier part. it's 2-3/4 inches long, and it sparkles like crazy! I only spend a $1.00 on it, and I'm wishing she had more this size. (well she had one other but it wasn't in good shape) The rest were way too big.

The necklace is vintage crystals in volcano, rose, and medium vitriol. I will be taking this apart for, well, parts! ( there are cool brass frames around the crystals)

I didn't make resolutions this year, either personally or for my business. However, in the current economic climate, I think it's important to be open to new opportunities. With that in mind, when I got invited to a unique selling venue I jumped at it.

The show starts this Thursday and runs through Sunday night. I don't believe the venue is open to the public, but it's at the old vet's building during a gymnastics competition.

Since there will be hundreds of little girls there I've been busy making thing specifically for kids, at friendly kid pricing. I'll be featuring my normal line of yummy jewelry as well of course.

Since the show involves long hours and possible down times during active events, I'm planning on taking lots of stuff to play with... chainmaile, brass bits, wire etc.

If nothing else I'll get lots of inventory made for Spring shows!!

And I'm looking forward to the positive energy that several hundred bright, smart and active girls will generate -!

My family and I will be taking a 7 day cruise this summer! can't wait!!!!! Since this will probably be the last big family trip while little bit is a kid ( she's 15 now!!!) I want it to be extra special.. we booked a suite on the boat. I know that makes it more expensive but I figure you have to live once in a while. That means the room its much bigger, and we get a private balcony.

I'm also trying to get another week off of work, either before the cruise or after, and if I can, we spend a few days in New Orleans, and maybe hit St. Louis for a day or 2. I'm not planning that part of the trip in case I can't get the time off. Keep your fingers crossed!!

I've found another romance writer that I'm nutty about .. Barbara Metzger. So far I've only read 4 of her books, but I've liked them all, especially Father Christmas and Christmas Wishes. I laughed out loud so much reading these 2 books I got Jerry interested (until he figured out I was reading my romances again) Wishes especially is a hoot and holler. If you like Georgette (Heyer) you will like Barbara!

Monday, January 2, 2012

My New Toy...

Here's what I can do with my new squasher! these are all brass or copper...
I had a great holiday!!! What did you get for Christmas?? I bet I can beat whatever it is... My brother (with help from his bro-in-law) made me a 12 ton hydraulic press for jewelry making!!!! woot!!! wooo hooo!!!!! yippeee!!!!! (wild, enthusiastic clapping with a wolf whistle thrown in ) The press is the black and red thingie on the right side of the picture.

Now my hubby needs to drill a couple of holes and bolt it to the table so it won't fall on my toes when I use it ( it weights 48 lbs) but that hasn't stop me playing with it!
This shows how pancake dies work.. they "pinch" the shape out of the metal.
Here is a pancake die between 2 plastic boards in full squash mode in the press.

I can also use if I'm careful sizzix dies. There are lots of stuff you can do with a press, for now I"m mostly going to be making my own blanks for jewelry.. Jerry wants to squash a watch in it, that might actually make an interesting piece of jewelry!!