Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Gifts

The work table looked like this most of the pre-Christmas week.
Christmas is over around here....all packed away for another year. The jewelry & keychains I made & gave were very well received, so that was a  warm fuzzy. ;)

Made for a Twilight Fan
Team Edwa
  1. I made two "Team Edward" pieces & the recipient  was wearing both at the same time. I think she liked them. :) One was sterling and the other was made from a pounded penny.
Sterling Pendant. Paloma Picasso has nothing on me. ;) My daughter loved it.

I finally had time to break out the sterling silver wire and try my hand at metalsmithing. Talk about addicting! It was so much fun to forge my first pair of ear wires & connected loops. I can't wait
First metalsmithing project - fun!
to try it again.

Hand made earwires. Sterling Silver
Both pairs of earrings were very fun to make! And I think they were well received. I will use smaller wire for my next try...but I was pleased with how these turned out. (For a first effort anyway.) ;)

I had time for a couple of etching projects. Keychains for the Jeep owners.....
And another small one from a pounded penny. ;)

Jeep! Etched Copper

Pounded Penny Keychain

My Mom loves southwest jewelry & was very pleased with this piece.

One beading project included turquoise, lapis and silver beads.
 The design was influenced by a piece I bought in Monument Valley a couple of years ago.

Etched Pendant on Stainless Steel Chain

I dangled a crystal and tiny antique key from this etched
 piece. I've been mixing a lot of metals lately & like the result. This piece was hung on a stainless steel chain. I actually wrote a short legend about the elements of the design. Fun. :)

Now I'm looking forward to more metal pounding and I've got a new soldering iron & some glass slides I want to play with.

Hope your Christmas was full of peace.


ps - What's up with blogger tonight?!? Took forever to get a half way decent format. Good grief!

Sunday, December 18, 2011


Could this season be any more busy? Hello?! Eyedontinksoh!!

I've had this necklace finished (for the third final time) for several weeks.

I took it apart again after that last post. I finally got around to putting a clasp on it today. In addition to adding a darker patina to the ginko pendant (made from Bronzclay) I added some tiger's eye and labradorite  beads. Plus, I added a few little ties of silk. I'm not planning to take it apart again....(mostly because I'm tired of looking at it. ;)

I've competed five pieces so far for Christmas gifts and I've another two that are half finished. Plus I have ideas for two-three more. I hope they're well received. I'm pleased with them, so that's half the battle. ;)

So how's YOUR week going?! All ready for Christmas? :)

Happy Christmas Week, everyone! Be Safe.


Sunday, November 20, 2011


What is it that makes me start taking things apart?

Isn't the whole idea to put components together?

I'm not alone in this....I hear other jewelry artists talking about the same thing. Or working for hours/days on a piece only to wake up somewhere down the line & look at it and just shake their head....wondering what led them to create such a thing.

Somewhere along the way, we just have to trust ourselves & stop second guessing. I think it's not unlike when I'm working on a painting or collage...and wonder..."is it done?"  There are times when I know it's done. I look forward to the day when that happens with my jewelry designs. ;)

Yesterday I took apart this necklace.  Last night I put the handmade bronze focal on a pair of chains, and added a smooth, wrapped briolette. (I wish I could recall what the stone is!)  I also added a second chain to the mix - and tied some little ribbons to the longest chain. 
Less is More
I think I've improved making these little babies.
Less is more, I think.

And now I'm working on some bead links to be added to the second chain.

I hope I don't take it apart.

I'm trying to be mindful of why I make the choices I I won't have to re-do so many things in the future. I know that I actually lean toward earthy, gritty colors & textures more than delicate, pastel ones. And I think that's what happened here.

However...having said that, I also think the bottom line with this piece might be that I'm not completely happy with the original design of the ginkgo leaf... I think in my mind, the stem is bending too much. I'm not really surprised by that, since at the time I was more obsessed with the process of carving the ginkgo leaf in a lino block as a mold for bronze clay.  Now it looks like I may have to carve another one. ;)


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Carpe Denarius (Seize the Penny!)

Heads up, Peeps! I've got some good news. I found a nice reasonably priced source of copper blanks for jewelry. That's right, it's that jar of pennies you've got stashed somewhere.

 I ran across a blog the other day (sorry I can't find it now) where someone was pounding bronze coins. That led me to wondering about copper coins. Then I discovered this, "If your Lincoln Memorial penny has a date before 1982, it is made of 95% copper. If the date is 1983 or later, it is made of 97.5% zinc and plated with a thin copper coating."

A comparison of size after pounding.
The pounded penney in this shot was not a pre-1982 coin. I forgot to take a shot of it before I pounded it. But for your reference, I've placed it beside another one from my stash. Even though I'm pretty sure the one I pounded was not a pre-1982 coin, even after smashing, it still has a nice copper color. Note the difference in size after pounding.

After pounding, I dipped it in Liver of Sulfer, then buffed it a bit. I put a hole in it so it could be attached to something then used my
Carpe Denarius!
metal stamping tools to add words.  (The Latin word that seemed closest to 'penny' was denarius.) Can anyone enlighten me any differently?

After stamping, I coated the entire piece with permanent black marker making sure to get it down inside the letters - then buffed the whole piece with a polishing cloth.  I love the textured surface from all the pounding on a cement floor. Just try to imagine how incredible my muscles will be after all this pounding!

Pennies cost more to produce, at 1.4 cents a piece, than they are worth. According to Jeff Gore, an MIT physicist, people spend 72 minutes each year "fiddling with pennies."

Pennies have long been thought to be good luck pieces. Ever put one in your shoe?  :)

Carpe Denarius
Seize the Penny!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Etching Copper with Ferric Chloride

When I discovered that artists were etching designs into metals, I also discovered there is more than one way it can be done. One such way is with electricity - and the tools I found for that were quite expensive.

After contacting a couple of other jewelry artists I found out I could use Ferric Chloride.  And the ferric chloride I decided to use was in a product from Radio Shack called "PCB Etchant Solution."  It's about $10. a bottle (currently an opaque white plastic) and clearly labeled. Don't be surprised if you ask for it and the sales clerk gets a dazed look on his face & replies that they don't have anything like that. I had that happen in two stores & found it my own self. ;) Yes, they have it...unfortunately sometimes they just don't know they have it.

First Etching on Copper
You can find the instructions for using the etchant solution...several places around the blog-O-sphere. I found one of the best on the Etsy Metal Blog.  It's a great tutorial that I think you'll like if you're ready to try etching.

Here are the first two pieces I etched. On the first, simply hand wrote some words...on the second, I put a quote by Goethe.

I couldn't believe how easy it was. I found that a paint pen works great...but you can also use a permanent marker to add words and/or designs. Anyplace you add ink will protect the copper from being etched.

Second Etching on Copper
Fish Pendant Etching on Copper
Navajo Yeii Etching
After the initial tests, I moved on to designs...and started with the Fish Pendant. Oxidizing with Liver of Sulfur adds a nice dimension to the pieces.  I looked further for design inspiration and settled on the Navajo Yeii symbol. The Yeii spirit is regarded by Navajos as being a mediator between humans and their creator, the Great Spirit. Yeiis are able to control natural forces in and on the earth, such as day and night, wind, rain, sun and other conditions. All of the smaller rectangle pendants are about 1 inch x 2 inches.

My newest etching and largest to date was inspired by a wind chime that's been hanging in my garden for several years. It had a rusty hand hanging on it...a few weeks ago I found all the pieces of the chime laying on the ground. Apparently the material holding it together had finally succumbed to the elements. I saved all the parts - knowing I'd be doing something with that rusty hand. I used the hand for a pattern...cut it out of a piece of copper...put a Gandhi quote on it - added some original, freehand designs and etched away.  As mentioned, it's a large piece...measuring 4.5 inches tall by 3.5 inches wide. I rather like how it turned out & can't wait to see how I manage to turn it into a piece of jewelry. ;)
Etched Copper Hand

The Gandhi quote on the hand says, "happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do...are in harmony."

If  you've been thinking of trying etching, dive in! It's incredibly fun and satisfying. Just a reminder, pay heed to the safety cautions on the etchant solution!


Sunday, November 13, 2011


Surfing around in the jewelry blog-O-sphere can be a dangerous thing. I started seeing so many cool ideas! One such thing that got me going was etching.  I couldn't believe how gorgeous it was...but it looked so difficult & overwhelming...requiring expensive materials.  As it turned out...not so!

More on etching the meantime, here are a few bracelets I put together in between more time consuming projects.

Red Creek Jasper Focal

Another Red Creek Jasper Focal (Love that Jasper!)
Stretchy Bracelet with Neutrals

As it turned out, these two seemed to be made for each other!

Beach Theme with Sea Glass Beads, Pearls & Sterling Charm

Detail - Sterling Nautilus Charm on Beach Bracelet

Thanks for looking! :)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Bronze Clay

Bronze Clay:  BRONZclay™ consists of 11% tin, 89% copper, water and non-toxic binding materials. The binding materials vaporize completely during the kiln-firing process, leaving a solid bronze piece with a density 90% that of cast bronze. could it have taken so long for me to discover this stuff.  And if you prefer other metals, there's also copper and silver clay. Genius.
Of course silver is very expensive right now, but I still want to try it at some point. 

And as defined on the BRONZclay website, "BRONZclay can be pinched, rolled, sculpted and manipulated. In its dried state, it's still highly flexible and easy to carve—an ideal canvas for applying details and finishing touches prior to firing. When fired in a kiln (as outlined on this website), the binder vaporizes, leaving a solid, pure bronze object that can be sawn, shaped, drilled, sanded, patinaed or soldered using traditional jewelry tools and techniques. This exciting medium offers a new world of possibilities for jewelry makers, artists and sculptors."

Evenheat Kingpin 88 Kiln
After reading about these metal clays and kilns for far too long, I ordered both. The kiln I finally settled on was the Evenheat Kingpin 88.  You'll have to do your own research,  of course, but after 10 firings, I'm very pleased with my choice.  The Kingpin is easy to program and has fired as programmed with no glitches.

Bronze charm, Original Shell & Mold

I also ordered a two part molding material called MegaMold so I could make my own original molds for the BRONZclay.  You can get an idea how much shrinkage there is with the clay, by comparing the shell charm to the original shell & mold.
Trust me, making your own molds is addictive.

Bronze Pieces Ready to Fire

This will give you an idea about what some of the bronze clay looks like before it's fired.  During firing, it takes on a life of its own. And after firing,  the colors can still be changed by adding heat with a torch. Or if it's that shiny, golden color you like, just toss the pieces into a tumbler. I don't care for shiny gold, but some people do & they really shine if tumbled.  I've also used Liver of Sulfur on them and it actually does make a difference on my pieces...even though some say it won't work on bronze clay. It does for me. ;)

Bronze Pieces After Firing
And after firing, the results are always surprising. Where the pieces are in the kiln seems to have an effect on how they turn out. Also whether you let the kiln cool on it's own or open it at 500-600 degrees. Here are the results after one such firing. 

 Here's an example of a bronze sand dollar made from a mold of a real sand dollar. It was then oxidized in Liver of Sulfur.
Bronze Sand Dollar

I've also been experimenting with using metal stamping on the bronze clay pieces...and soon I want to try doing some torch fired enameling on them. I've never tried it, but look forward to the challenge!

Have any of you tried enameling on your own bronze clay pieces?
Please share how that worked, because I just hate talking to myself here. ;)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Metal Stamping

Keep Away from Children
As I briefly touched on during my first post, metal stamping pushed me into my new found career as a jewelry designer.  In fact, it was Lisa Niven Kelley's book, "Stamped Metal Jewelry" that caught my attention at a local bookstore. After seeing that, there was no turning back.  Perusing Etsy, I noted hundreds of such pieces of jewelry - with many having the same sentimental thoughts and quotes. I can be sentimental to a point, but not to the point of gushy.  I couldn't go there. So here I'm sharing a few of my first such attempts. If I can make myself giggle, it's a good day. :D

No Parking on Shoulder
These early attempts seem so light weight and crude now. I think that's because I eventually moved on to bronze clay, which has much more weight. I still like the idea of being able to add words and thoughts to jewelry. But I still can't do gushy. Somewhere out there, there  has to be someone who appreciates my warped sense of humor.

Battery Not Included
And here's another such non-gushy example. I'll probably fall back on these examples in the future, but with some 'weightier' materials...such as bronze, silver or copper clay.

I do like this metal stamping set I got from The thumb grove on the letters is a big saver of mistakes!

Monday, November 7, 2011

How many blades does it take to cut out a copper hand?

This hand is destined to be etched before it graduates to be a focal. I used an old crusty, rusty hand from a windchime for the pattern.  It's good to have old, crusty, rusty things around. They're so inspiring. I keep telling the mister that. ;)

. o O ( I wonder how many saw blades it will take.) Note the broken one in the photo. I think it was blade #3.  Apparently I need more practice sawing.

I can't wait to get to the etching...but there'll be a lot of sanding and filing before that.  Stay tuned for updates. ;)

Sawing a Copper Hand

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Art, Jewelry Design and Blogging

My artistic endeavors have been all over the place because that's how I roll.  You name it, I've probably tried it.  Watercolor & oil painting. Collage. Macrame (yes, I'm that old.) Ceramics. Photography. Basket Weaving. Blah. Blah. Blah. It's not always about the end product, but rather about the process. No? Yes. :)

In this blog, I'll attempt to stay focused on my ventures into jewelry design. Several years ago, I was making and selling jewelry (mostly leather & earthy beads) in a local shop...but eventually something else took my focus. Sometime during the last year, I discovered metal stamping and most recently I've discovered metal clays. Why did I not know metal clays existed? What a genius idea! Plus, more mediums for me to play with. Right? Right.

Cheesy Stamping
So now I've found myself pouring over countless books & online resources regarding metal clays and metalsmithing - combine that with my love of all things beads & I no longer worry about dust in my house. (Okay, maybe I didn't worry about that anyway.) 

And with the new interest in jewelry design and all the possibilities comes the need for lots and lots of new tools. Stamps and blanks for the metal stamping...and letter sets of course. Now I've added a saw and have started cutting my own copper.  And of course I had to have a kiln for that metal clay business.

Kiln for Metal Clays
 So add beads to the mix of metal stamping and metal clays....not to mention collecting odd bits of  flotsam and jetsam for the jewelry designs - just to keep things interesting and surprising.
Bronze Clay Cameo

I had hardly even started on the bronze clay when I discovered etching!

Etching on Copper
So there you have it. Perhaps one day soon I'll feel like I'm ready to open an Etsy shop - not quite yet.  Carpe Diem!