Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Stages of a Hammered Silver Cuff

On a piece of sheet silver, I draw out the design with an ultra fine sharpie. I have some old machinists rulers that I use. Then I lube up my saw blade and get to work. Magnifying lenses are so necessary in this task. The sheet silver is put upon the bench pin and I saw just outside the line drawn. This takes some time. The teeth on the saw blade are so tiny they can't be seen by the naked eye. Well, not mine anyways. :)

After sawing, I take a rough rasp and file down the larger highs and round the corners slightly. I count as I do the corners so they are more uniform. Then I take a finer file and do it all over again. Once more with a diamond file. Then rough sandpaper, then finer and finer grits until the surface is smooth. Looks pretty when done.

Then I move to the bench block and begin hammering the divots. Thousands of them. I always mean to count, but lose track. Hammering does bend the metal and begins to harden it.

When done, I carefully hand bend it a bit to straighten it out. Then I move to my oval bracelet mandrel. It's a heavy hunk of metal. Using my oh-so-cool rawhide mallet, I start to form the shape of the bracelet around the mandrel. At intervals, I make certain the edges are in line. I actually begin at a much smaller size when shaping then, move up to the actual size needed. I've found this is necessary to convince the metal to move.

When done with this, I check the edges for roughness and sand as needed, then steel wool it for a subtle sheen. If a higher shine is desired, a tumble is a good start and then onto rouges. But that's for another post.

Voila! Takes a bit of time, but very satisfying!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Wow! 10,000 Forum Topics I've Posted In. (Etsy)

Friday, December 14th marked 10,000 Forum Topics Posted in for me. Yikes! My first post was 10-7-06 and the first question I tried to answer was 10-13-07.

This milestone has made me pensive about the Forums and Etsy in general. Most of what I love about Etsy is its community. The people here have been kind and helpful. There are so many Etsians that are willing to answer questions. Sometimes it seems a contest to see who can answer first!

I'm amazed at how generous people are with their wisdom - artistic and business. I can't imagine how long it would have taken me to feel as confident as I do without Etsy. When I went to my first craft fair, I found myself better prepared than some others who had been doing fairs for a while. When I needed to purchase jewelry displays, many people divulged their sources for good suppliers.

So, this wisdom that I've learned I try to share with others. I've captured many screens and have a document with the most asked questions, so I'm quickly prepared to help out. In my real-world jobs, I've been called a mediator, a service-oriented person and a troubleshooter. These skills all help me to help others.

Mostly it feels like I'm hangin' with my coworkers, helping the newbies, sharing knowledge, discussing personal or wordly issue or just playing games. :)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Size Difference Between Mini and Medium Earrings

Even I got confused when I tried to visualize the difference between the sizes while looking at my Etsy listings. When I have them in my hand, the variance is quite evident. So, here photo, to clearly show the difference. Mini size on the left, Medium size on the right. :-)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Ah... finally.

I feel whole. Like two pieces of me, apart all of my life, are now fused together. Heh heh. Finally, I began to use "the flame" in these Fine Silver babies.

Fine silver is indeed easier to work with than Sterling. I plan on moving over to Argentium after this. It has the hardness and the tarnish resistance. A bit more work than the fine silver. Fine silver costs more, the sterling mixes take more time - both end up probably equal in the end. We'll see where it falls out. Truth is, it probably won't end up anywhere, as I'll keep on learning and growing as an artist.

But dang, this was fun! :)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Woo Hoo! Flame Cometh!

Finally! A torch! I bought and received one but the solder did not come - backorder. Sheesh! So, very soon, these trees will be seamless. The cold connection used is very adequate, but I'll be happy to be just a bit neater. Stay tuned!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Things We Can’t Have. A Ponder.

Beyond our reach, like a sunset, so beautiful. Running toward it, taking in its glory. Though we know it won’t last forever, we enjoy it, breathe it in, savor it and when it's gone, still smile.

Like the smell of brownies when on a diet. Is it better to be able to smell their deliciousness or keep the smell at bay? Is it better to have just a crumb, or none at all, knowing you can never have it all?

A walk in a park. Rejuvenating. A temporary joy. Unlikely to be able to live in such a place, yet a pleasure during visit. A fast flowing river, foaming waterfall, mist soaring the spirit. Ah. I leave with a peace and a certainty I will enjoy it again.

A beautiful soul, not fully available. One who causes a part of your soul to ache for what you know could be wonderful. Is it better to enjoy just a part of this beauty, painful as it also is? Euphoria and pain at once.

Why do some temporary joys include only joy, while others have a pain as well? This currently perplexes me. Again.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Age of Etsians

I've been kinda having fun with charting the age of Etsians from data accumulated in an Etsy Forums thread.
So, it's been know that the average age is 34, but the graph is even more revealing.

I wonder about the age merely in its relation to how integrated computers are into our lives. I don't think it is a good view of who's crafting and selling. It was 20 years ago when I got my first computer and it only had a dos prompt ( C:\). The younger generation grew up with it as an appendage.

What do you think about it?

--> The most current graph.
--> The Forums Thread.

Friday, September 14, 2007

New Work Table! Woot!

Yay! I got a new worktable. There are two areas in which I work, one for sawing, filing, drilling, big hammering, another for clean assembly, the finishing touches and photography. In the dirty area I was using a workmate and every time I hammered, things would jiggle to the floor. Now I can use the workmate only for the hammering. Sweet. This was greatly in preparation for beginning to use heat. I was going to get a jeweler's specific workbench, but I prefer a bigger work area. So this is it.

Flame should be coming soon! :-)

Want to see comments about what's on it? See here...

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Etsians Say The Darnest Things!

Cool! I found out I was blogged about on "Etsians Say The Darnest Things".
How sweet! Thanks to Abitabite!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Weekly Markets!

If you live near the Twin Cities of Minnesota, come visit me.
I am outside at the Midtown Farmers Market every Saturday, through October.

I can be found indoors at the Midtown Global Market Tuesdays and Thursdays, until further notice.
They've both been good for me and are great environments. I can't just *sit* there, so I bring work along. I prepare things ahead of time that I can finish off or polish there.

Come visit me and pick up some fresh local veggies while you're at it. :-)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Wow! I feel like I'm finally "there".

Tonight I find myself in three Treasuries. Though all three of them are wonderful, one in particular caught my attention.

--> I'm in with people I never thought I'd be sided with.
Some truly amazing metalsmiths! Wow! Me? Really? Cool!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Yes, I'm still alive!

Amazing. That's the word I'd used to describe my experience at my last craft fair, Craftstravaganza. It was indoors in the Fine Arts Building on the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. A perfect venue! There were big windows of light in addition to the available spotlights. I had a table a little off the beaten path and I'm glad. The fair was so well organized and promoted that the attendance nearly tripled from the year before. There were 200 people in line waiting for the doors to open. It was elbow to elbow people the whole time.

The crowd and the vendors were so nice. Etsy was there, with Vanessa promoting and greeting. It was nice to put a real face to a name.

This was only my second craft fair and I consider it a great success. I more than doubled the money I made at my first one. I had made a LOT of mazes in different metals and sold every single one. Everyone "wow"ed about them. Made me feel good. One older woman pulled me to the side and said, "You're not a crafter. You're more of an artist." How sweet! If I learned anything, it's to bring more stock.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Sterling Wire Pearl Cages with Galvanized Metal

Yes, it's the stuff that heating ducts are made out of. :-) They have a unique look and feel and are light weight on the ear. I used Argentium Sterling Silver wire due to the nature of the cage. (See post below about Argentium.) It would be a bear to try to polish regular sterling and this will maintain its shine!

The pearl and cage have an opposite feel. The gentleness of the pearl versus the stoic wire. Or is the wire protecting the pearl?

Not sure how many more of these I will make as the galvanized metal is really hard on my tools. It dulls them so quickly. This pair currently exists in my Etsy store.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Reversible Circles Pendant

This simple pendant took a couple of prototypes to make. It's reversible, with copper dominating one side and aluminum, as pictured, dominating the other. I punched out and shaped the circles, hand drilled the holes, then sawed copper wire to hammer into rivets. Takes a bit of time, but with each one I am faster.

As simple as it appears, it holds great meaning for me. It is symbolic of an internal healing circle I have been developing. The circle has three parts: Nurturing, Protective, Spiritual. You decide which part is the largest for you... I've sold several of these. Each of them holds a bit of me.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Maze of Options

Somewhere in my psyche is a maze of ideas about, well, mazes. Or cages. To play with wire, metals and natural materials in such a way that it creates unique dimensions. Think air, suspension, three dimensions, light, surprise. Wire and metal may capture, suspend, hide or highlight natural materials in unexpected ways.

This Copper Mabe Maze is one such idea. I've also made it in a smooth aluminum and plan on making more. I constantly see out unusual focal pieces to use in these ideas.

When you think of this, what do you envision?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Using Argentium Silver

Sterling silver. No more tarnish. No more buying special polishing cloths to clean with. No more blackened fingers. Can you imagine? It can be true with Argentium Sterling Silver as it is highly tarnish-resistant. How? Well, "regular" sterling silver is 92.5% silver with copper as the additional 7.5% alloy. With Argentium silver, part of the copper is replaced with germanium. Voila!

In my newer jewelry pieces you will find Argentium Sterling silver. I think it's worth the slight extra cost. The piece in my previous post and this one are both made with Argentium. Especially where I use wire that is hard to access and polish, I think it's important.

Fine Silver: 99.9% Silver. Will tarnish, but more slowly. Not very hard, so not good for earwires.
Argentium Sterling Silver. 92/5% Silver, with 7.5% alloy and a touch of germanium to make it tarnish resistant.
Sterling Silver: 92/5% Silver, with 7.5% alloy. Alloy is typically copper and is added for strength, but is also what causes it to tarnish more quickly.
Silver filled: Has 100x more silver than silver plated. There are currently no laws governing what this means, so it can differ by manufacturer. Gold-filled does have rules regarding it, though. Filled should mean that it is not likely to chip or wear off. Can be a good alternative to the cost of solid sterling and a higher quality choice than plated.
Silver plated: Typically copper or brass, with a coating of silver. (Not sterling silver.) Cheaper alternative, but can wear or chip off.
Silver toned: Has no silver in it at all. Cheapest choice. Could be any kind of silver metal.
As you go up the list above, the likelihood for having an allergic reaction to the metal decreases.
I typically use Argentium, Solid Sterling Silver, Fine Silver and sometimes Silver Plated. I always specify.

Monday, March 12, 2007

New To Blogging!

Hello and welcome to my blog! For the longest time I thought I was too old for this. But I just decided it would be a good motivator for my jewelry making/metal work as well as my business in general.

A little about me...
I live in Minneapolis Minnesota with my little long haired Dachshund Lillie (nickname Stinky) and little grey farm kitty Lucy. We live and studio in the second floor of an old stucco house. It's warm, safe and a good place to work. My day job is as a Technical Analyst, but that's not very creative. Creating my jewelry has been a wonderful outlet for me.

I love to work with my hands where there is a mix of creative and technical. I prefer metal in my work as well as semi-precious or precious gemstones. Other types of materials do find their way into my pieces as they develop. My intellect plays little part in my creations, as they often just develop as I'm working. The inspiration comes from elsewhere. It's fascinating at times to me.