Monday, December 27, 2010

Mirrors (finally)

So, of the mirrors I did for class, here are the 3 most spectacular.

"Fairest":  Chased Copper Knotwork Frame
This one is meant to have a 4"x6" oval mirror in the center eventually.  Modeled on fairy tale "magic mirrors".

"Creature of Air" Cloisonne Enameled Copper Hand Mirror
Putting this one together gave me fits, since the front is another formed piece.  The enamel went beautifully, though, and putting the face in the cloud was one of those decisions that was made just as I was starting to lay out the wire.  There is a 3" round mirror on the other side, and I used this one to do my makeup just before my presentation. 

"Earthly Concerns" Cloisonne Enamel Pressed Powder Compact
This whole design flowed from the stone, which reminded me of nothing more than a tree trunk.  I'd also been wanting to do a compact since I started enameling last summer.  I think I need to work on function a bit more.  Inside is a 3" round mirror and a place for a pressed powder pan.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

I am a horrible person.

I don't have a prepared blog subject today.  I don't even have the promised pictures of my school work.  Due to getting ready to leave on 5 days of vacation at stupid-o'clock Monday morning, many things have fallen by the wayside.  I've taken the pics, but not cropped/edited yet, so I should be able to get them sorted out during my 8 hrs of airplane/airport while in transit tomorrow, and post tomorrow night.

Monday, December 13, 2010

All school, all the time (until next quarter)

The Final Critique in my 4th jewelry design class is Wednesday, and I was really concentrating far more on business than school at the beginning of the quarter, so now I'm making up for it by putting all of my energy into school.  I promise I'll post pictures of everything afterward.  As a teaser, I've been doing mirrors/mirror frames all quarter, and specifically looking at mirrors as scrying tools.  At least one of them is going to end up being kept for my own altar.

In business news, I'm starting to post some leaves on Etsy, but I don't have many available at the moment.  Some have sold, and a bunch are off at Blowing Sands, and I haven't had the time to cut out any more.  I've been looking at finding a fabrication facility to cut custom enameling blanks for me, but that's turning out to be quite expensive.  I have found what look like acceptable blanks for various leaf types available commercially, though.  I'll be ordering some to try it out. 
Also, I'm thinking about maybe starting to do some shows this coming year.  I'm looking at maybe a regular craft fair or two, but I'm mostly looking at sci-fi/fantasy type conventions and the like, as my enamels seem to be tending to the fantastic and whimsical, especially with the leaves.  If I manage to sort out a live appearance somewhere, y'all will be the first to know.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Wow, what a week.

Did *very* well at the silent Auction.  Sold about a third of what I brought and have managed to pay my studio rent again!

Also, I now have a small case on display at the gallery at Blowing Sands Studio!  If you're in the area, stop by and pick something up.

Finals are nearing, and I've been putting so much energy into the business that I'm massively behind on my schoolwork.  So, this coming week probably won't be terribly exciting.  Next week is finals, and after that, I'll have a whole new body of work to talk about!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

ups and downs

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving.  Mine was reasonable.

So the display case at Wayward is a no-go.  The smoke shop next door caught fire on Monday night, and Wayward has a bunch of smoke damage, as well as some questions about the structural integrity of the building.  They are closed for the foreseeable future, until further notice.  I'm going to see if I can get Balderdash Books & Art to take the case out of sympathy.
I have yet to hear back from that boutique further up the Ridge that I was talking consignment with.  I will be pinging them again soon.

UP:  Wow, I'm ridiculously busy.  Silent Auction is on Tuesday.  I've received all my cases, and now need to get them arranged and labeled, and the bid sheets made out.  I think (hope) I'll do well there.  Also, the Leaves should be debuting on Etsy and Artfire tonight or tomorrow, along with some more planets, as soon as I finish them off and get pictures.

The Holiday Season has begun, and I need to make the most of it despite my slow start.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sales Outlets and General Design

***all apologies!  I wrote this on Saturday with the intent of posting it on Sunday, and then completely spaced it.***

Firstly, a plug for the Silent Art Auction at North Seattle Community College.  It will be on Tuesday, Nov. 30 from 10am-6pm on the ground floor of the College Center building.  If you're in the vicinity, please stop by.  I will have a lot of things for sale, along with all the other fantastic artists among the students, faculty, and staff of NSCC.

Secondly, I'm definitely going to have a small case of various enamels at Wayward Coffee for at least the holiday season, hopefully longer.  It will, for starters, be mostly leaves and a couple of Different Worlds pieces.

Thirdly, I love design.  All design.  I also love it when an organization, particularly a non-profit, turns out to have a deep, honest, ingrained, expansive sense of humor.  If you take these 2 things and put them in a blender, you get 826, a coalition of non-profits dedicated to helping kids become better, more enthusiastic writers.  One of the ways they help support themselves (ans also have bases of operation) is by having physical storefronts selling humorously surreal products.  Some time ago, I followed some links to Echo Park Time Travel Mart, but thought it was just some temporary art installation project.  I walk by Greenwood Space Travel Supply several times a week, and noticed that they were connected to some non-profit having to do with writing, but didn't think much further on it.  Today I followed a link on Etsy to The Museum Of Unnatural History, and in a scramble to find out where the hell I could get some of those posters, I finally put all the 826s together.  There are a number of stores on unique themes scattered throughout the country, and now I want to travel around to all of them and bring home awesome things.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Always test before distributing

Pretty much the first of anything I make is reserved for my personal use, so I can see how it holds up to wear, and if there are any further engineering/durability problems that need solving.  I've been wearing the leaf comb for a week now, and have come to the conclusion that the plastic comb I had the leaves mounted to was an utter piece of crap.  I started out with 7 tines, and now I'm down to 3.  I've ordered some metal combs that will hopefully hold up better.  Also, I made them of slightly-too-thin metal, so the enamel has some cracks in it.  I'm bumping them up to 22-gauge for the next set.

In somewhat cautiously positive news, I think I've found some retail outlets for my work.  1) A boutique up on Phinney Ridge, near the zoo, has expressed interest in trying the leaves on consignment (Yay!), and I think that the focus on hand-mades there will do well for my stuff. 2) My favorite coffee shop (Wayward in Greenwood) also shows/sells art, but it's mostly 2-d hangable stuff, so I didn't really think about it as a venue. Apparently I was wrong, as when I was in there on Friday, the owner expressed enthusiastic interest in my stuff.  Also, I know the clientele there, and it would put some of my more geeky work in front of more geeky people (folks like me!).  The practical upshot of all this is that I need to get a *LOT* of production done this week with the new engineering, as I want to have enough pieces to start negotiating with by Friday.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Technical difficulties

This has been a week of technical difficulties, interspersed with moments of spectacular pure stupidity on my part.  Lessons learned thus far include: 1) never mix enamels, even when they're supposed to be the same thing, 2) the simplest solution is often the best, 3) Hotter is not necessarily better, 4) never use a hammer anywhere near enamels, 5) never underestimate the power of a good adhesive, 6) never underestimate the power of a well-cut stencil, 7) never underestimate how long it takes to cut a stencil well, and last but not least, 8) when dealing with pitch , never, never, never forget the mineral oil.

As you can guess, I've had some enamel contamination problems.  My best clear is coming out speckled white now.  I've made the best of it on the project in question.

 This is what they were supposed to be:

and the finished, assembled piece in my hair:
I'm going to be doing more leaves, probably holly and other none too complex things.

I've made some decisions about setting the different worlds pendants, and enamels in general.  Just needed to modify the original idea and lower the firing temps.
As for the pitch, that was just a hard lesson.

Monday, November 1, 2010

All Hallows ate my brain

Apologies again for the late posting. All Hallows is a big deal in my household so I spent the day on prep and festivities-hosting.
Anyway, I've given up on the moon phase choker for now. I'll probably revisit the idea in a little while when I'm not so frustrated with it in general and bezels in particular.
In more successful news, I'm friends with the folks in charge of this game publisher, and I've been trying on and off to do something with their logo (I once submitted a cuttlebone cast silver piece as a suggestion for the logo design). I finally succeeded with an enamel badge of the logo they went with.

 Pic does not do justice.  the letters actually float above their background while the dunes in front of them are very definitely foreground.  Nonetheless, it's about 1/2" X 2", and it's not bad, but I'm not absolutely thrilled either.  I'd like to get sharper lines, but without resorting to cloisonne wire.  I only used the stuff for the dune curves because the boundary between white and transparent was absolutely crucial to the look.  I suppose super-sharp logo lines will have to be my next technological innovation.
Also: a picture of my pieces in the miniatures display case at school.  I didn't realize until looking at the picture just now that they misspelled my last name. 


The next theme is "Transformation/Metamorphosis".  I already have plans for what I'm going to make for that one, and I will be sure to write my info down more clearly.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

It's been another one of those weeks.  I had my first Etsy sale.  They bought the two best items in my shop, so I've been scrambling all week to replace them.  I don't think I've mentioned previously, but I'm still a student, currently attending 3/4 time (taking 10 hrs this quarter).  So between class and various forms of homework, I only get about 3 days a week in my own studio making things to sell, and things end up taking longer overall. I ended up making 4 new pendants, 2 planets and 2 moons.  One of each is now listed on Etsy, and the others have gone into a "Miniatures" display case that the Art Group at school is putting together for a few weeks.  At least this way more folks will see my stuff.  I'm also going to have quite a few entries in the silent auction at the end of November.

Anyway, back to what I've been up to:
I'm continuing to play around with engineering.  I'm bezel-setting everything right now, and it doesn't look quite as bad as I thought it would, though I'd prefer to go without the frames if I could.  The pieces for the moon-phase bracelet turned out to be scaled wrong, so that one's gong to be a choker/collar instead.  I completely forgot to take an in-process picture yesterday, but I should be able to do so tomorrow or Tuesday and then add it to this post.  I'll probably scale everything down and attempt a more bracelet-sized piece in a couple of weeks.

Business problems I *REALLY* need to work out soon:
What's next after Different Worlds?
What can I do at lower price points?

ETA 10/25/10:
The moon-phase choker in progress.  Hopefully it will be done tomorrow.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Collectors, engineering, and other things

Quote of the week:
"I wouldn't do that today, but at the time, I did, and now it's there."--Klaus Burgel on adding sapphires to a ring.

Firstly, apologies for the late post.  It was a ridiculously busy weekend, what with Seattle Metals Guild Symposium, working in the studio, and trying to not completely lose all contact with friends and acquaintances.

Symposium was interesting, but also a lot more about theory than practice.  An interesting question has been raised about art jewelry collectors and why there don't seem to have been many new ones since the boomer generation.  The discussion included suggestions that there's a current perception that "art"="expensive" and "kept behind glass to show off," so the folks who are collecting (and maybe they're at the $35 earrings stage, rather than the $2000 ring stage, and that's ok) don't think of themselves as collectors, and many of the folks who could start being collectors never go into galleries on the assumption that it will be all $2000 rings and no $35 earrings.  Also, the Boomers still control quite a lot of the money. 

It's been an interesting week in the studio.  I'm working on an 8-piece moon phase enamel bracelet, the linkages on which have been giving me fits.  I think I'm just going to have to suck it up and bezel-set the pieces.  I also made my first Etsy sale!  There are inquiries about clip-back earrings and brooches in the Different Worlds enamels, which brings up thorny technical/engineering problems having to do with moving parts on the backs of these enamels.  The answer here may also end up being "bezel-setting," but I'd really like to avoid the frame if at all possible.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Design and Engineering

So I was catching up on some of the older things I have recorded on the DVR (like, old from last spring).  I tend to record a lot of odd things, and a particular lot of odd things from Ovation, the arts channel.  I was watching a show about trying to re-design the coach-class airline seat, and one of the design team, when inspecting the current state-of-the-art popped out with this line:

"It doesn't seem to have been Designed at all, just Engineered"

I intuitively got what they were saying, and I think it's a great line, but I think it's probably not giving engineers quite enough credit.  Yes, designers come up with concepts an aesthetics, and functions, but engineers are the ones who make the moving parts actually move.  They take your concepts, apply physics, and come up with an actual object.   These are the folks that do the math that brings your sketch into the real world.  Most design professions have some sort of related/associated engineering-type profession to bridge the gap between idea and reality.  Architects have civil engineers, product and industrial designers have materials and mechanical engineers, game designers have software engineers and programmers, and fashion designers have pattern-drafters.

How does this apply to Jewelry?  Well, usually jewelers are designers to some extent, but it seems that when that's ALL someone is the term used is "Jewelry Designer" rather than"Jeweler".  I think that being a "Jeweler" means that you have enough engineering ability to take that fantastic sketch, whether yours or someone else's, and figure out how to make it work in real metal/glass/stones/etc.
The practical upshot is that in small shops the jeweler is both designer and engineer, because really, all the fantastic ideas in the world are not going to do anyone any good if you can't figure out how to implement them.  So appreciate your engineer, or that part of you that does the engineering, because making truly awesome stuff requires both of you.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!

I guess Sunday night will be my regular posting time.  It seems to work.

It has been a singularly unproductive week.  I was ill for quite a lot of it, and the change to cloudy weather always takes some getting used to.  So, I only have 3 pieces to show, and a certain amount of trepidation about the business part of the business, which I have to get started on this week.
Silver, garnet, pearl
 Another set of earrings.

Silver and pearl
I'm really liking that sort of lily-type flower shape.  This was based on a set of earrings that I made the week before last.

Silver, iolite
Yet *another* set of earrings, this one in a more contemporary style.

So, I've been making things.  What I haven't been doing is selling them.  I've got a shop on Etsy, and I'm about to launch on ArtFire, but I think what will really help is getting off my butt and shopping my stuff around to local boutiques.  Hopefully some kind owner will take pity on me and tell me whether it's just that I need to tweak what I'm doing a bit, or if my design sense is barking up the wrong tree entirely.

On the up-side, I just listed Entwined on Etsy.  We'll see how that goes.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

This week in the Studio

I give you this week's big learning experience:

Yes, that's a hole in the top of my bench.  The lesson here is that an Ikea hollow-core desktop is not designed to withstand a disc-cutter being pounded directly on the surface.  That's right, kids.  I went straight through the copper and into the desk.  I've got a rubber cutting mat laid in that area now, and the disc-cutter doesn't seem to bother it at all.

Now, to counter that particular crowning moment of oops, I give you this week's crowning moment of awesome.  2 of them, actually, both having to do with my "Different Worlds" series of enamel pieces.
First, I managed to get some weather detail on one of the blue planet pendants.

Stormy Weather #1
Secondly, I've started doing moons, too
Full Moon #2
This one got featured in an Etsy treasury, which was pretty awesome because it meant someone a) saw it, and b) liked it enough to tell others.  Now if only someone would like something enough to buy it...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

In the Beginning...

I know, not a terribly creative title.  Take it as a warning.  Words are not my strong suit, so there will be a lot of pictures here: pictures of finished jewelry pieces (both for sale and not), pictures of work in progress, pictures of inspiring things, pictures of my sketchbook, and probably the occasional picture of things that just made me laugh (or think).  I think we'll start with my studio setup.

This is my studio.  It's in a building run by an outfit called ActivSpace that rents out small craft/hobby/business spaces on a monthly basis.  I'm in a section of the building officially known as "Potter's Alley," but I just call it the "heavy industry district" since these units come with 2 kinds of built in ventilation and 220v electrical outlets.  Most of my neighbors are, in fact, potters, but I know there's at least one screen-printer down the hall.  It's got like 12ft ceilings and a concrete floor, and was a cold white box when I moved in about a month ago.  The lovely cafe au lait color on the walls was something I picked up from the mis-tint section of my favorite paint store for $5 for the gallon.  What you're looking at here is the half of the room containing my bench, solder station to the left of that, the pickle & patina area on the far left (there is a vent fan directly above), and to the right is the great big rolling tool chest with my laptop on top (mostly used as a jukebox, since I don't have internet in the studio yet).  The white patch on the back wall is a piece of clear mylar (that I hadn't pulled the tissue off of yet) that I stuck to the wall to make an instant dry-erase board.
This is the half of the room containing the storage shelves/enamel station and, in the back where you can't really see it, a utility sink.
This is my bench, in it's usual state of disarray.  In my defense, I took this picture midday, and I try to always tidy up before I leave in the evenings.
This is my enamel station.  It's on a set of Ikea Ivar shelves, and the adjustability and solid-wood-ness is wonderful.  I've been doing my enamel sample board of all the colors that came in the complete palette sample pack from Thompson Enamel by doing the sample on copper strips, sticking lightweight magnets on the back, and hanging them on an expanded steel sheet that I've hung from the back of the bench.

So, that's the studio.  Maybe next time I'll talk a little more about myself.  For now, I'll finish up with a pic of something I'd like to sell, but don't know If I ever will.
Hammered sterling silver necklace and post earrings, set with a whole lot of 4mm peridots.