Saturday, February 23, 2013

Sorry hands, sorry faces, I'm apparently ear obsessed

Don't know exactly why, but I seem to be a bit ear obsessed lately.  Giving the hand and face obsession a rest, possibly?  Naw, I have that covered all over the place on Pinterest. 
I'm still on an earring kick, though.  I think it's because you can make earrings in a little bitty workspace.  You know, like when you still haven't finished unpacking your studio because you're back to making actual jewelry.  Like that.  So in that tiny little spot of used-to-be-organized-for-one-minute-before-I-started-making-a-mess-again, this is what has been accomplished...
I have had a fun request for some custom bracelets that I've been working on.  Not finished with those yet so I'll share them with you another day.  This is what I've been up to since last time....

A custom order  entitled
Sparkling Stars in the Midnight Rose Garden
 here's the full on view
These fit the bill for her request. 
 Turquoise.  Large. Lightweight. Sparkly. Romantic. Roses.
I'm so pleased with how they turned out.
Thank you Tracy!  Your roses saved the day!
A few more pairs in my Turkoman Goes Modern series;
Ferns Unfurled Against the Golden Sky
A Letter to my Sweetheart
and these...
Fog Over the Moors
just one more......
Rubies in the Rough
And another custom order.......
Very similar to a pair I shared previously,  which sold in a fast minute.
These have another style of Petra's lizard scale drops.
They are the coolest drops!
If she makes more, grab them fast because stuff flies out of her shop!
I liked those earrings so much that I also made these...
with Petra's ceramic nails.
These remind me of ancient swords with the fancy handpieces.
For those of you who might be new to my blog,
it's  Scorched Earth on Etsy where you can find these great ceramic bits.
Deep in the Tropical Rain Forest
Recycled tin paired with Numinosity Beads headpins and
Scorched Earth ceramic drops with vintage beads.
I'm loving the interplay of colors and textures in these.
the most amazing thing about this,
what?......... yes, you heard right!!
in my shop, as we speak!
Will wonders never cease?!
Nope, not around here, they won't!
and last but not least...
These are not listed, because I just might keep them....
still deciding.
text permanently embedded onto the metal,
adorned with lampwork headpins by Havana Beads.
You know I can't resist black and white,
And text.
and black and white headpins.
and scalloped edge metal.
and crosshatching
might need to keep these!
We haven't had any adventures to share lately,
 but we did have a bit of excitement.
We were unpacking some more out in the garage,
yes, we are STILL unpacking...ugh...
anyway,  I look and just over the ridge is this...
no, not a bigfoot...
or a hovercraft...
or a cloud that looked like a penguin
but this....
a 4 alarm fire very close by!
 You've heard about the draught conditions here in Texas, right?
Well, that day, they said on the news that we had high fire risk because of the winds.
I'm thinking "why does wind increase fire risk?"
hmmm, now I understand exactly what that means.
Sparks from a passing train on a windy day in Texas equals "YIKES"!
That's the roof of our car in the foreground of the picture. 
I know, blurry...because in my haste, I forgot to turn macro off.  hahahahaha
I forget how to take pictures of anything except jewelry.
You guys understand that, right?
and then there's this exciting little tidbit to share with you.
(because you all know that you read this blog for the excitement factor)
 what the second most interesting man in the world likes to do in his down time.
a man of many talents, that one.
he's eating ice cream with chopsticks.
who does that?!
That's all folks!
Short and sweet.
hmmm now what picture to leave you with?......
Something scary?
Something adorable?
Something thought-provoking?
lemme see.....
How about all three?
yup, that's scary!
Yes, that's adorable!
and this is definately thought-provoking.....
tot zo
("see you soon" - Dutch)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Make Do Tools

Hello all.

Some of you have been coping with crazy amounts of snowfall, others with devastating twisters, and yet others with fires, record warmth and rains.  Sincere hopes that you've all fared well through it all.

You know how much I enjoy your delightfully witty and kind comments.   I wasn't able to respond individually to each of you this last time, but thank you all for taking the time to share your thoughts!

I'd like to extend a warm welcome to our new commenters.  First, welcome Star of the East.  I've long been a fan. 
And welcome to Laura.  Thanks for inquiring about The Key to My Heart earrings.  They were listed last week and have already sold.  I tried to contact you to let you know they were being listed.  Sorry, but I wasn't able to locate contact info for you.

Lucie- you're too funny!  As long as no one shaves the bears in your area, you're safe!

And Petra...really?  Shaved bears were the original bearded ladies?!  Who knew?  Well, besides you, that is.
The things I learn from you guys....always fascinating.

I was contacted by a lovely lady,  new to jewelry making who had a few questions about tools, etc.   I offered to do a blog post on some of the things newcomers may have on hand and can try.  These are a few of the make do tools that I share with my students when teaching a class.  Not all of these are unique or original to me as many people have discovered effective alternative "cheats" to use instead of the high priced specialty jewelry tools. 

I do recommend buying the best tools you can afford when making the investment into high grade tools IF and here's the point, if you will be using them frequently or they need to have sufficient strength to hold up to the type of use you will be subjecting them to.  Otherwise, make do's work just fine.

Here are some of my fav's;

I have and use often, a rawhide mallet, but if you don't, try a rawhide dog bone.  The large kind with the knot on the end.  Look for one that has a flat portion in the knot that can act as a  hammer.

On the left are two pairs of jewelers shears.  My preference are those to the far left. 
For cutting tin, I prefer the Fiskars shears. 
They are readily available at fabric and craft stores. 
Another effective choice are the Joyce Chen kitchen shears.
These will work on thin-medium thickness sheet metals
and are a joy to use.

I love using my Fretz mini stakes,
my sinosoidal stake and other jewelers stakes.
Of course they weren't in my tool box when I first started working with metals.
Most of the above stakes are from Harbor Freight. 
 Their intended use is for automotive repairs.
They lack the mirror polish found on jewelers stakes,
but work just fine for shaping metals.
The meat tenderizer makes a great metal texturizer.
It was a gift from a very dear friend who thought it might just
make interesting textures on metal.  She was right. 
That shows how useful it is to look at all sorts of non traditional items
when collecting tools for yourself.
The brass pieces are intended to be used for scientific experiments,
but I like using them to shape metal, by hammering the metal around their form. 
All of these are an inexpensive way to see if you like metal forming before you invest in more expensive forming tools, such as these.

Below are my jewelers grade bracelet, ring and bezel mandrels.

Baseball bats, rolling pins, pieces of pvc pipe, soup cans, etc
can be used as bracelet mandrels.
Lengths of dowels can be used instead of ring or bezel making mandrels.
Below is an example of the sets the second most interesting man in the world
makes for student use during my classes.
I always keep a set handy because he's considerately
marked the sizes on each dowel section.
Makes it easy to quickly match sizes as needed while I'm working.


On the left you see mandrels intended to form wire or soft, thin metals.
On the right are some cheats.
Knitting and crochet needles, etc.

These are traditional steel bench blocks in the lower half of the photo,
and a small jewelers anvil
along with a sad iron in the upper right corner.
Sad irons are perfect for using as bench blocks and easy to find at antique stores. 
There is a rubber block and a jewelers sandbag pictured as well.
These are used under the bench blocks to absorb the bounce
 when hammering on them.

A section of railroad tie makes an excellent anvil.
I love the rough texture this imparts to the metal when I use it. 

This is an anvil from Harbor Freight.
Works just fine.
Sitting on a large jewelers sandbag.

I often use a thick piece of leather when hammering on this anvil
 to protect the metal from the rough surface texture.

The piece of aluminum on the left has been run through my rolling mill.
If you don't have access to a rolling mill,
you can place on a bench block or anvil;
the item you want to use for texture,
 then a piece of thin, annealed metal on top of the texture item. 
Use a flat faced hammer and hammer away.
Tape the metal to the item if you need to keep it in place
while hammering.
This is what you'll end up with...

This method limits you as to what type of textures you can achieve,
 but it's an effective alternative.

On the left is a diamond tipped scribe.
This is my tool of choice when applying linear designs into metal.
However, anything with a sharp point can be used to scribe or
scratch a design into metal.  The sharper the point,
the thinner the line made.

These are also effective for scribing.
A paper piercer and assorted dental tools.

On the left you see jewelers burnishers,  bezel pushers, bone folders and an agate burnisher.
The handle of a disposable plastic razor or
the rounded end of a wooden clothes pin holder can also be used as a bezel pusher.
They are soft enough that they won't usually scratch the stone cabachon as you set it.
A flat polished agate cabachon, as pictured on the right,
 can be used instead of an agate burnisher.

The screen installing roller pictured at the top of this picture can be used
to make leaf veins in thin metal if you don't have a hammer with a thin linear face. 

Empty Bic pen cases are a perfect way to store or transport saw blades.

Easy to access the blades as needed.

Well those are the make do tools that I use frequently.
Hope this info might be helpful to some of you.
I did get a few new things made since my last post.
While I'm still on an earring kick, I did get a bracelet and necklace finished up as well....
Names for these new pieces?
Nope, not a one!

Small Apatite nuggets, small faceted pyrite beads and
large pyrite nuggets combined with turned wooden shapes
that remind me of inverted Russian buildings.
Another view....
Because I love the way they look hanging from Daniel's sculpture.
Thought you might too.
An additional reason for two views?
stay tuned......

A bit of text and aging for mystery all hanging from an arc of wire.
They go nicely with this fold formed necklace.....

Apatite nuggets, both large and small with matte agate and
matte amazonite beads.
A faceted amazonite teardrop bead provides the final bit
of delicate color as it adorns the back of your neck.

I love how this turned out.

This bracelet features a rock that I partially polished on my lap machine.
I cut grooves into the back of it for the purpose of wire wrapping.
A modern day tin type of an adorable baby sporting a mohawk
graces the front of the stone.
Attached to an adjustable soldered wire cuff , for an unusual,
one of a kind bracelet.

A new version of Rose Red.
Black tourmaline nuggets, frosted polka dot lampwork beads by Nadin Art Glass,
black stone teardrops combine with vintage black glass teardrops
in these romantic yet not too sweet earrings.

Guess you've figured out that you get two versions of each piece
when there's so few things to share with you, eh?

Yup, here we go again.

A one an a two.....

These have vintage carved roses. 
Not sure if they are bone or??
Pyrite nuggets and brass stampings in a wire frame.

Smaller than my normal fare.
These delicate roses seemed to need the understated setting.

Faceted Raspberry glass,  white keishi pearls
and grey freshwater pearls combined
with wood and text in wire hoops.

And that folks is the end of the line for new jewels.
Even with two pictures of each, this is a surprisingly short post for me, eh?
Things that make you go hmmmmmm.
Don't ask me, I assure you I don't know what's up with that.
a sweet picture for you this week.
Doesn't get more adorable than this

Kwaheri  (Swahili)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Earbobs for the Little Lady and Stand Still so I can Wrassle that Varmit on your Wrist!

Hello all,

Thanks for stopping by.  Hoping life has been kind to you these last couple of weeks.
It has been a cruel winter for many
and we're all hoping that spring will bring relief to those sorely in need of it.
Bet you were expecting to see pictures of my completely unpacked studio by now.  All organized and inspiring in it's uncluttered state.  Bwahahahahaha.  Nope.
Still relapsing with this nasty bug.  No matter how crummy I feel, I can usually manage to sit quietly and make some jewelry, though.  So this is what has been accomplished as of late.....

Castle on the Mossy Hill Under the Midnight Sky
Hmmmm, blogger wouldn't let me enlarge that first picture. 
So here's another.
Because I know you want to see the detail.  Right?
So you can see the mossy hill for yourself. Right?
And the midnight sky....right? 
Yeah, yeah, I know I could have just deleted that first picture,
but where's the fun in that?
ok, moving on.
Unnamed.  Filigree with Petra's lizard scale drops in bronze.
A bit easier to see the hints of red and green in the lizard scales in this shot.

Feeling oddly colorful.  Also unnamed.  hmmm me, without a plethora of words?  What?
My Love, You Hold the Key to my Heart
and now for your viewing pleasure, the dark background version.
Inscribed on the back of the pictures are the words
"my love".
Yup, there's usually an actual reason that I name my jewelry what I do.
Hoops with Petra's beaters. 
 I really really am tempted to keep these.
Unnamed red upcycled tin hoops with ceramic limpet shells from Petra. 
 Yup, I'm on another Scorched Earth kick. 
Well, because Petra's doodads make
everything look better is why!
Even though these look rather large, you can see that
they really aren't.
So named because I am keeping them.
The suckers on these will go very nicely with my fabulous sucker pod pendant from
So I have to keep them!
Don't want to make the wrists feel left out....
Vintage Coca Cola metal tag, embellished with a vintage metal charm
sporting a cowboy and Indian duking it out. 
Even though I'm not much of a western movie buff,
I just adore these subtle colors and vintage graphics.
I added a vintage horse head in a horseshoe Cracker Jack charm in dusty blue
 to complete the old western theme.
All attached to a soldered wire bracelet band which is
adjustable by gently squeezing or pulling the band.
Oh and the Coke tag, well, I don't drink the stuff myself,
but I'm convinced that Mr. Wonderful would bleed bubbly, caramel, sticky ooze if injured.
He singlehandedly keeps that company solvent.  So in honor of him....
the Coca-Cola tag.
More in tune with my ridiculously romantic side is this one.....
Happily Ever after
Vintage twist pearls, a mop button, vintage rhinestones,
sapphire blue velvet ribbon, a heart locket, a vintage rhinestone wreath,
an embossed metal Vintaj water lily on a soldered wire bracelet form.
But why is it named Happily Ever After you ask?....
because of this.....
The backside of the soldered charm with the tenderly caressing couple.
And what about our lovely hands?
I retook pictures of a couple rings already listed.
I just can't seem to get the angles right when photographing rings.
Though, I am finding that my pictures do look much better when taken
in the afternoon light in front of the north facing window.
Yet another thing I am appreciating about my new studio space.
and this one......
and last but not least, this one that I deactivated in my shop
because the previous pictures were so lacking....

Yes, I am liking this lighting immensely.
that's it for the new jewels but I did promise to show you more of
BeesOnPie's components.
Is there anything she can't do?
Don't think so....
Remember she made these adorable ceramic houses...
And more of her wonderful bits....
A closer view.
Aren't they scrumptious?
I'm thinking miss bees needs to put some of these in her shop.
Changing gears here....
I thought (and hoped) when moving from Illinois that I had left the snow behind,
but no
It does in fact snow in Texas!
The second time there was enough for a sledding hill!
Sort of..... 
ok, I know all of you in the Midwest are snickering at our little Texas snow....
but who's laughing now?
The baby oranges are getting ripe!
Winter on the outside,
summer on the inside.
here is where I really want to say nar-nar-nar-nar.
But since I'm polite, I won't.
Sure am thinking it though.
Hoping you all have a wonderful week ahead!
C'mon, admit it...
you've been missing the creepy animal photos.