Monday, January 31, 2011

Varscite Ring

 I recently joined a group on Flickr called 'Ring a Week' and the challenge is to make 1 ring a week for a year. It is a personal challenge and 'there are no rules'. I thought it would be fun to join, but was worried that a ring a week would be unrealistic for me personally.

So I was happy to read that you can still participate in the group, you just use different tags (RAW2011 instead of RAW52) in your photo. Funny thing is that in January I've already made new 4 rings, and here I am posting about another!

Back in December I made a stop to my local bead shop to see what was new. I found a stone I wasn't too familiar with called Varscite. I was immediately drawn to it's earthiness, pretty blues, greens, and browns. It reminds me of turquoise in that way.

There were three pieces available, and because I'm greedy I bought all three!

I am considering doing some kind of combination of the larger and smaller piece in a necklace, but so far I haven't found a way to make them flow just right in a design. In the mean time, I've made this lovely ring;
It is a statement piece for sure, a nice big 'ol cocktail ring. The back features an open band, I heated each end to form balls, hammered them flat and soldered them to the base. The front pebbles were also hammered flat and patina is used to add a little more character.
I love it, but unfortunately it is a smidge to big for me. So, I'm hoping it will find a happy home else where.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Valentines Sweetheart

It's that time of year when we remind the ones we cherish of our love for them.

I don't usually have holiday themes in mind as an artist. In fact, lately I have been avoiding very literal representations of things in my work (ex. love as hearts). But this years Valentines was different mostly because I happened upon a broken bracelet my girlfriend Laura gave me while back.

Side note: although this might not be my typical route to designing jewelry I find value in doing things 'not me'. It is kind of like playing, experimenting if you never know what you might find out about yourself.

I was in my studio one late evening and the ideas started coming all at once....
1. Slice the silver hearts from the broken bracelet in half (they seemed thick enough to make 2 from 1)
2. Contrast the silver by soldering it to copper
3. Solder hearts on silver and use patina to add depth and character

First I started a copper pendant...I'd soldered the heart on and as I was filling away it immediately dawned on me that it would be great to make a similar ring.
Even though I don't wear rings a lot (I wear gloves at work), I like making them. This one in particular I liked, not only for it's modern feel but because the open ring allows for slight size adjustment.
I wanted to use the same idea in this ring. Similar in style to the pendant, I kept the tilt in the heart and the width of the copper similar for this ring.
Lastly, playing with a patina to make the silver pop. I wanted to make either a pendant or a ring. Since I have to restock my chain, I went for a ring. But also I have really been loving this ring, and I thought I'd do something similar here.
This whole style is a bit on the 'cutie' side, so I thought I'd call them 'sweet heart'. It was fun to pursue these, but in the end I don't find them very...'me'...I suppose because the hearts. I did like using the patina, I'm still getting the hang of its application and effects.

What do you think, was it worth the experimentation? Tell me your thoughts in the the comments below...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Craft Supply Swap!

Mark your calenders and spread the word - Blue House is having a craft supply swap!

WHEN: Saturday February 12th
TIME: 1:00-2:30 
Check out the events page for details.
I am tentatively planning to come with many sewing leftovers and can't see what will be there!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Valentines Shop Promo

Sstarting February 1st I am having a 10% off sale in my Etsy Shop. All you have to do is enter the coupon code "valentines" and you will get 10% off your order automatically!

Spread the word!

New items for Valentines comming soon, I just need to take photos (this weekend)!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Jasper Necklace

Over break I managed to make this piece as well, just hadn't taken photos of it till now. I made it with the intention of donating it to the annual Greenhills School fundraiser. But, it has become one of my favorites lately.
There is something haunting and familiar about it.
The familiar feeling comes from the jasper's watery blues, hints of green,  and sandy browns. The colors conjure memories of trips to Lake Michigan beaches. It doesn't help that lately I am obsessed with grays and blues.
Side and Back Views
I have a bit of time to cherish it and make the final decision...there are other pieces I might donate. For now I have used a nice sparkly chain, but it feels slightly too big. Alas, I need to restock my supplies, so until then this is what I've got. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Etching Addict

For some time I've wanted to do some decorative glass etching and when I saw this project in the Oct/Nov issue I finally bought the supplies. Of course I didn't get around to using it until after the holidays, big surprise!

I had to buy the etching stuff on-line since it wasn't available in stores (at least near me).

I wanted to make some custom storage and organization dohicky's for my studio. This was a perfect opportunity to upcycle glass jars. In some instances, I didn't want to be restricted by labels so instead I used decorative shapes.
For others, I used labels. My local craft spots did not have vinyl letters specificly used for etching. I took a $5 gamble and bought some crafting stickers that looked like they might work. I lucked out!
I was immediately addicted to etching, so I decided I would decorate kitchen jars. We 'grind as you go' when it comes to coffee, but the grinder works best with more beans. I store the left overs in a small glass featuring the phrase 'wake up'.
Of course I also have a french press, the grinds for which are more course. To mix it up, I decorated with an organic design I found on one of my favorite blogs. This design convinced me that I need to buy a single hole punch. I was using an office hole punch that is for 3-ring binders and it was kinda a pain.
As you can see, my love for anything crafty seems to be ever expanding!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Kissing Procrastination Good-Bye!!

With the help of Brian and Jim, I now have an 8'x2' equipment bench. Last time I showed you my humble work space. This is the first major change made in my space, and hopefully just the beginning.
Getting started...
These boys jammed it out over the weekend and I couldn't be more grateful for their work. The bench includes two much-needed storage shelves. Down the road I'd like to put in one or two shelves above the bench for less frequently used items.
More pics along the way....
The best part is that we used almost all recycled wood. The 2x4's were from the wall that once exsisted upstairs, and the sturdy 4x4 legs were remnants from the outside fence posts. The particle board we had around (I'm thinking it was from the climing wall build). Not once did we have to stop at the hardware store.
Not too long ago I also made myself a shop apron using recycled fabric my brother gave me. Believe it or not this was once a curtain panel...
I haven't worked in my studio (besides clean up and organization), so I might still rearrange things a bit. I need to get a sense of the work space flow before I'm totally settled. But now I REALLY look forward to working here.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

11 Goals for 2011

At first I thought it would be challenging to set out 11 goals, but it turns out I could add to this list pretty easily. The first 3 may look familiar (from my '3 things for 30 post'), but my deadline for those is April. I still have another 8 months of time to be productive and grow.

1. Organize Studio (all things jewelry and related equipment)

2. Organize Craft Room (sewing, paper craft, knitting)

3. Business Design- making/designing business cards and promotional materials (post cards, buttons, flyer's...they are all on the list)

4. File taxes- the first time is always the worst, right? I officially registered Three Birds Jewelry as an LLC in 2010, so that's why taxes will be a bit more complicated. (This goal could include purchasing software to track business transactions...but for now excel will do!)

5. Learn to Cast- this will require taking a class at the Ann Arbor Art center since I do not have the equipment.

6. Learn to Acid Etch- this will be a DIY for me from books...and trial and error I'm sure!

7. Make a Safer Work Environment- I really need to get a better air filtration system in place. I've done most the research I need to do for this, it is more a matter of purchasing.

8. Expand Equipment- I still need to figure out what I need/want most, but in terms of big purchases having a roller press would be awesome. A roller press can be used to texture metal in many ways, creative options are almost endless!

9. Consistent, Good Photos- My photos need improvement. Mostly consistency in lighting and background so my Etsy shop has a more uniform feel. This goal includes re-taking pictures of my currently listed items (ugg).

10. Social Networking (in two ways)-

       ONE- on-line: it can be a time suck, but I need to network on-line so people know what I'm about. I am not looking forward to this one :) Also, any advice on how to do this effectively is appreciated. I would LOVE to hear what you've done to get yourself out there!

       TWO- locally: I have started to connect with my local crafting community through Blue House and it has been a great experience. I would like to meet more locals and indie artists in the Ann Arbor/Yspi area. This includes making a better effort to visit indie craft shows.

11. Sell Locally- I am considering putting some work in a local shop or participating in an indie fair. I have been hesitant in the past for various reasons. One, it can be costly (many shops want 50% of the sale, and both fees at fairs can mean $$). Second, I still have not completely found 'my voice' as an artist. Putting my jewelry in a shop prematurely might not be a good idea. So, I guess you could say goal #11 includes finding my voice.

Most important of all when attempting these goals will be to have fun! Relish the journey.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Blogger Love

Last month, Hivennn blogger Jazzy contacted me because she planned to have a birthday giveaway this month. Check out the giveaway featuring one of my necklaces.
Blog love is the best!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Silver, your price is killing me!

These days, it is hard to bite the bullet and buy much needed silver supplies. Why, you might ask?

Well, in the summer of 2010 I made a small order and I thought that the price was steep at about $18/oz. Today it rests at $30.9/oz. YIKES! Curious, I looked into the 10 year prices. It seemed to stick near $5/oz until 2006 when it started a gradual increase.

Looking at the 34 year prices I saw that in 1981 silver hit an all time high around $50/oz. But, over all it was a sharp increase up and down...these days the prices seem to be steadily increasing.
So now I'm in a I wait to buy and see if prices go down? Or do I resupply now and risk paying at a peak. What are your thoughts? Anyone know anything about precious metal markets?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Petoskey Pleasure

Over the holiday break I spent some time in my studio, albeit not as much as I wanted. But it was productive nonetheless!

I snagged this Petoskey cabochon way back in 2006 (when I got the dino bone fossil). So I guess lately I've been crankin' out a few pieces from the past. This was a relatively straightforward construction. The trickiest part was doing the cutout on the back since it is essentially a 'blind' cut.
This stone really is just too pretty to hide the back! (Please ignore my careless fingerprint - der!)

I wanted to leave the pendant with a matte finish (I'm really not a huge fan of high-shine all the time) BUT the only chain I have is super I'm still debating how to finish it just yet...maybe I will make some custom chain.

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