Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Removed my resin bracelets from my store

I made the discovery that resin bracelets made with Easy Cast Epoxy resin become really soft in the sun so it's back to the drawing board. I plan to figure out a way to make the ones I have already made more sturdy, which will be a challenge. Really, nothing beats glass for shine, transparency and durability. Resin is great for figurines to be displayed indoors I guess, but in this context, in my opinion, is not suitable for jewelry unless maybe poured into a rigid bezel.
I re-opened my store today but no resin bracelets will be featured unless I include a disclaimer that they soften in the sun, which to me renders them unsuitable.

Friday, July 17, 2009

My Latest Labour of Love

I had a wonderful time designing the necklace in the above photos. It too is based on one of April's lovely sets of beads and this time I went for the bling and was generous with the sterling silver both in the heavy 18 gauge .999 silver S links and the other embellishments. These beads, like all of my previous sets, can be used in designs using very little else in the way of decoration but I wanted to pull out the stops anyway and feel that the embellishments in this case don't conflict with the detail on the beads. I used black high quality faux pearls in the pendant detail and was pleased with the black on the silver. This will be my newest addition to my collection of designs based on April's exquisite lampwork beads, to be added to my Etsy store.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

New Necklace Listed Just the Way I Made It

I ended up not changing anything on the lovely necklace using the black crystals and the plunged lampwork beads. I started adding embellishments and, in the end I kept it simple yet elegant. Sometimes less is more and in this case I found it to be true. It is the second necklace in the photos below. The one using the set with the .999 silver decorations is one I had planned for myself from the first, and I'm totally pleased with the result. In the future I will probably design one much like this for my Etsy shop too, because, much to my delight April does custom work and I could re-order this set in the future. I still have one more set to make up into a piece for my shop so it won't be long before I have another original piece of art jewelry designed around stunning original lampwork beads.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

New Lampwork Necklaces, One for me One for Etsy

I just finished two new pieces, one for me and one designated for my Etsy store. The necklace I made for myself was built on the foundation of an absolutely lovely set of beads I knew I had to have,the first time I visited April's Etsy shop. I'm really happy with it too. The lampwork beads are so detailed and elegant that they need little else in the way of embellisments. You will see that this evident in the following photos. The one with the S links in mine with the cool little dots of fine silver adorning both the focal and two of the other beads.
The second necklace which I plan to list soon, was planned around the lovely green tinted lampwork beads sporting facinating depth in the plunged circles with the little entrapped bubbles. I love that effect which is seen in encased florals as well. This necklace was designed for everyday wear or more formal wear. It's simple enough to look great with denim but would also look great in an office setting.
I love the black crystals with the lovely lampwork, one of the few times I felt I could include crystals in the necklace portion without it fighting with the exquisite detail on the beads, and it worked. I may add a couple more little decorations near the pendant portion before I list it that's why I'm waiting until tomorrow to make sure I'm totally happy with it as it is. The beads are from Sharpline Designs, the name of April's shop. I just couldn't wait to take the shots and post my results so far. I forgot to shoot the copper prototype I had created, but it is quite busy, takes yards of sterling silver and might be too much for the beads.

Another thing I found out just lately is that seven feet of silver doesn't make a very long chainmaille piece, as in the project I had described in a previous post. I got another one and a half inch link and saw immediately that I would have to make quite a few more rings to complete just one other length like the first one. Wow lots of silver. But I probably will go for it eventually because the weight, drape, shine, and feel are totally elegant and I want one. A heavy silver choker. Then I'll make one to sell sometime. These take many hours to construct so a necklace of sterling in chainmaille like that would command a premium price. The thing I love about the pieces I create is that they are all made of very good to excellent materials, and won't wear out, fall apart, or irritate the skin. I have sensitive skin, (like all redheads) and get a rash from any cheap metal. I can wear copper, therefore I sell it with a clear conscience. The photos above show both necklaces as they are right now.

Cool Stormy Weather Good for Staying Inside

I've been off my computer for most of yesterday afternoon and evening because of steady thunderstorms. Power failure is rare but I'd hate to be at my computer doing something important and have a hard shut down due to a power failure. I need an UPS which has batteries and stores a charge in case of power failure, so a proper shut down can be done.
Good weather for designing jewelry though, and I have one of my pieces ready. Once the rest are ready, which will be soon, I'll post pictures and include one of my copper prototypes that I make when planning a design in silver.
It's still stormy today so I won't be at my computer as much, but that will give me the time to complete my next projects. If it clears up I'll be back on tonight and post my photos, if not it will be tomorrow.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Lovely Lampwork and Sterling Silver Redesigned

Soon I'll be listing the first in my new series of one-of-a-kind, sterling silver, and lampwork bead necklaces in my Etsy shop. I decided to part with this one after redesigning it,by adding a large stamped sterling silver link ( in order to add a trendy feel) and lengthened it as well.
The beautiful lampwork beads, created by April Larson, are what elevate this necklace into the realm of "art jewelry". Each piece is created by hand over a flame or torch using molten glass and having taken a class myself and worked with the medium, I have huge respect for those who have "mastered the glass". Molten glass is very tricky to work with and to achieve geometric precision takes a tremendous amount of skill, talent and experience, and to have found a source for these lovely beads on Etsy is a thrill for me.
I have other sets from April which I will be combining with sterling silver, maybe crystals too, in more one-of-a-kind pieces. I'm eagerly awaiting my latest shipments of silver wire, beads and other cool findings which I plan to use in these creations. Her Etsy shop,( not her only venu) is called http://www.sharplinedesigns.etsy.com/ and I was so pleased to come across it in my search for quality lampwork beads, by a well renowned, talented, and reputable artist. In the photos I took, I deliberately took one with the sun shining in the natural uneven pattern which, in my opinion, captures the sparkle of the beads and shows them off in a wonderful way.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

More about the Chainmaille Lesson to Myself and Tool Shots

I forgot to mention that my mission after creating the jump rings from a specific length of silver, I want to see how many inches of box link chain (in that size link) seven feet of silver gives me. By doing that, in the future I will be able to calculate how much silver I need to do a piece from start to finish. That was the lesson I was referring to yesterday. How many feet of silver per inch of finished chain.
I'm looking forward to seeing how it goes but I'm trying to wait for my new jewelry pliers on the way. I ordered my first pair of "Wubbers" which are new and are advertised as non marring, and also very good for chainmaille weaving. My old faithfuls are getting worn out and I plan to start getting better quality tools. Here's a shot of my present tool box with some of my tools. I included a shot of my combined anvil/jewelry vise too. A very handy tool that is always kept handy.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Chainmaille Lessons, to me and Some Garden Shots

I discovered how to weave chainmaille from a book called "Making Silver Chains" by Glen F. Waszek, which was a Christmas gift from a loving supporter of my craft. The book shows the weaves but calls them by different names than used in the chainmaille community. The chain he calls "Idiot's Delight" is actually two different styles of chainmaille, "Box Link" (I think) and Byzantine link which I know for sure. I'm working on a silver box link chain using 3mm ID jump rings which I cut from 20 gage sterling silver with a jewelr's saw. The box in the photo shows how many 3mm inside diameter jump rings I got from (saw) cutting and coiling about 7 feet of 20 gage silver. I love sterling silver and want to progress to mostly sterling in my chainmaille. It's so worth it in my opinion.

Another quick tangent. I've been looking after my gardens, tying tomatoes. They're finally growing quite well. I saw my first little beefsteak one and showed shots of it and my black plum paste, an heirloom cultivar that I got as a plant one year from my friend and neighbour, and now grow from seed every year. A vigorous plant that actually self seeds here and bears fruit!! A tomato that grows literally like a weed. The fruit is dark purple shot with red and is sweet and meaty. Prolific producers too. I love them!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Latest Garden Shots and Warning About Exotic Mints

It's been kind of cool here but quite sunny and my cool loving plants are doing quite well. I have some shots here of my Dianthus, Pansies, and a plant that looks quite cute but in fact is one of the most aggressive plants I have ever introduced to my garden.

The plant is known as Banana Mint. Yes Banana. It does have a strong banana-mint aroma and flavor and has the potential for interesting teas and jellies. I was intrigued and planted some in one of my gardens because it is only supposed to be hardy to zone 5 and we are zone 2b, a much colder climate so even knowing the invasive nature of our local mints, I planted it. Big mistake. This mint doesn't follow the rules and spread to 5 of my gardens. Just the other day I put down black landscape fabric in a last ditch attempt to remove it. Weeding just encourages it. Where I took the photo is where I have allowed it to grow. It even chokes out quack grass and one day I do plan to try it in jelly.

The moral of the story, mint can't read so even if the written material says it's safe, don't believe it, even in Winnipeg, for anyone here that might read this. When pulling it, the only good thing is that it must be the most heavenly scented invasive plant I have ever introduced, but for every spreading root pulled, three or more sprout in it's place!

After taking a soil science course I was even more against using any kind of poisons in my soil, or even chemical fertlizers so I hope my organic solution will work. By blocking the light the main nutrient will be unavailable to the plants so I hope they die off gracefully and don't cause a problem known as "nitrogen fixation" when decaying plant matter uses up the nitrogen in the soil. I will record my results. Now here's some photos.
The landscape fabric on my three part tomato garden in not quite as ugly in real life as in the photos and I left it bare to help warm up the soil during the day as our nights have still been in the single digits. That's why in my opinion my garden still looks pretty sparse to me. I do have little tomatoes though.