Tuesday, September 25, 2012

What I've been working on

Still no finished pieces to share, but I've been working hard. I guess I did finish a bracelet for myself on Sunday but I didn't take a picture, maybe I'll will later this week. Anyway, I'm still working on a big batch of copper pieces. I like to create in batches because I feel like its a lot faster to use the assembly line method - I'm all about efficiency.
I've got these pieces very close to being done - cut, designed, textured/stamped, riveted (for the most part), and tumbled. Now they need some patina and to be sealed. There are a few things that I will rivet after the patina because I only want one of the pieces patinated.
Yesterday, Liam and I worked on these together. He requested a bracelet and necklace for himself along with a special necklace for my cousin's daughter (I don't know, his second cousin removed?) who is about to have her 4th birthday. Liam really enjoyed helping me stamp the letters and getting to decide what each pendant would say. He requested that we write "Mom" on his necklace. Such a sweet boy! Here they are so far...

Friday, September 21, 2012

Random Friday

Well, I don't have any jewelry to show this week. I haven't been slacking off, but I haven't created any finished pieces this week just more fold formed and riveted components that still need finishing. I've also been working on some double triple secret stuff, not really but I can't talk about it until its all official.
I've been spending lots of time with two of my favorite people - you guessed it, Henry & Liam! Henry has learned to say "this" and Liam is making up words like "peppasoura" (a rare dinosaur). Here they are:

Monday, September 17, 2012

Birthdays Galore!

Another birthday! My sister, Tara, is turning 30 next week, but her party was Saturday night. So, Friday afternoon she texted me a picture of her party outfit and said, "Need mod jewels to go with this for tomorrow!" "Oh tomorrow, okay then I better get to work," was exactly what I was thinking.

I decided I wanted to do something in copper and bronze. I also wanted it to be amazing - something that was cooler than anything else I'd ever made. In Tara's words it had to be "coolerster". She's a riot.

Anyway, I've been playing with some fold forming techniques and was totally inspired by Stacie Florer's recent blogpost about her Elemental Bracelets and how each piece of metal is it's own canvas. I decided to make my own Elemental Bracelet along with another somewhat personalized bracelet and a pair of big, bold, statement earrings.  Keep in mind I only had one day to do all of this and two little boys who always needed to be taken care of - thank God for an understanding husband and dedicated father!

I started by fold forming some bronze.

I then determined the shape I wanted the pieces for the earrings to be, cut them out and wrapped each one in very thin copper. Next I had to cut and texture all the copper pieces for the bracelets. I riveted pieces of fold formed metal, a handcut flower (textured using a method Keirsten Giles shared here), and a textured silver filled piece to the copper. Earrings and bracelet #1 were ready for the tumbler. Whew!

For bracelet #2 I cut a piece of copper and stamped a rustic, tribal looking arrow and hand-stamped the word "seredipity" on it. I let Tara pick the word since she's the one who will be wearing it all the time. This bracelet was a lot less work than the first one but still "coolerster".

After tumbling all the pieces, I oxidized it all with liver of sulphur and then roughed it up a bit with steel wool. I was so happy with how everything was turning out. Then I came to my big dilema, which I had already realized would happen, how the heck was I going to seal this stuff? I love Clear Guard, but that needs to sit for 24 hours and then a coat of Renaissance Wax put over the top, wait another 24 hours and then it's safe to use the piece. I did not have time for all that! So, I decided to go with Vintaj's new glaze patina sealer. I'm not really sure if it's supposed to be used to seal LOS but I didn't really have any other options. (I did send Vintaj a message so I'll let you know if I get a response from them.)

The pieces turned out beautifully! I sat and marvelled at them for I while when I was finished. I was so excited to show my sister. Honestly, these pieces are the most skilled jewelry I've ever made. I can't believe how far I've come in the last 2 1/2 years. I just had to thank God for giving me the ability to do this. I know my work still has a long way to go, but I'm excited about the direction I'm heading in and can't wait to learn more and experiment more with metals. Here are the finished pieces:
My sister loved them all! Mission accomplished. Now the rest of the family wants some...

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Rusty Crusties

I made some polymer clay beads yesterday and I really like them! I call them Rusty Crusties! I really like the name too.

I was inspired by a photo Shannon Levart (missficklemedia) posted on her Facebook page of some ceramic beads. She suggested someone make them from polymer clay. I gladly took on that challenge!

A quick run to Hobby Lobby and we were good to go. I say we because whenever I work on a clay project Liam also gets to play with clay. This time I bought him his own molding clay and together we made a lion, but first my rusty crusties:

Shannon suggested a more palatable name - Golden Pomegranates. Hmmm, that does sound a lot better, but I still like Rusty Crusties because it's just my style. I'll have to think about it. 
And now for the most important creation... Liam's lion
It actually had a body and a tail at one point but this is all that's left. Liam just saw it on the computer screen and said, "Wow, that is so cool!" He's so funny!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Wire Wrapped Projects

About a year ago my sister-in-law asked me about making some detailed wire wrapped earrings and I said no way, I can't do that! A couple weeks ago a customer asked if I could recreate one of her mom's favorite earrings because she lost one. I didn't know if I could do it because it was all that same wire wrapping, but I said I would try.

It turned out the technique wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be. Whew! I was able to make the earrings and a few more things using the se technique. Here are some pictures:

These are available in my etsy shop. here
These will be available soon. Email me if you are interested. seladesigns1 at gmail dot com

Friday, September 7, 2012

Happy Birthday, Mom!

I'm 27 years old and I still need my Mom. I think maybe I need her now even more than I did 10 years ago. My Mom is the type of person that everyone likes - kind, gentle, easy to talk to, loves kids, loves people in general, always believes the best and helps everyone. She's an amazing woman, wife, mom & grandma.

If I were to ask Liam, my 3 year old son, his favorite thing about Grandma, I know he would say, "She tells me stories!" And if Henry could tell us his favorite thing about Grandma, I'm guessing it would be how much she loves him and gets so excited every time she sees him. Now my husband, Bill, would probably mention all the wonderful food and desserts my Mom makes from scratch! You see, it's all the little things that make her so great.

I don't think I can say one thing I love most about my Mom. I love that she knows me so well she can say, "Ashleigh, snap out of it! Get out of the house. Go to Starbucks or go shopping or do something, but get with it!" Sometimes I'm home with little adult interaction and I get a little crazy. I love that my Mom knows little things are important to me and they matter. With one look at me or one word over the phone she knows how I'm feeling.

Have I mentioned that my Mom is kind? She spends her life helping other people, putting everyone else ahead of herself and sacrificing for the good of others. I could tell you countless stories of her generosity - stories you maybe would find hard to believe. The truth is it all boils down to one thing - my Mom loves God and it's so evident in her life. It's because she has found the true love of a perfect Father, Savior and Redeemer that she is able to show His love to those around her. She's a wonderful example of who a Christian woman should be. Thank you, Mom, for all that you do and for teaching so many how to be Christ-like. Happy Birthday! We love you!

And I just realized that we have hardly any pictures of my Mom because she hates getting her picture taken! I'll have to work on that...

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Labor Day Weekend - very productive

We spent Labor Day weekend, well laboring. Bill had big plans to finish putting up all the railings on our new deck, but it turned out to be a lot more work than he thought! He did get half of them done and the other half are started. One more Saturday and the deck will finally be done!

I have a show coming up this Saturday, September 8 - Waukesha Art Fest. Stop by if you are in the area. I would love to see you! Anyway, I wanted to get some new Fall stuff done for the show. I've had a major bracelet and earring addiction lately and really needed to get some necklaces done. I have a bunch of new metal pieces I've been working on so it was about time to put those pieces to use. Here are some of the things I made:

Bright golden brass is not something I do a lot of. I try to have 1 or 2 pieces at shows in case someone really wants it. However, my friend the fashion designer tells me that gold is very trendy right now & that's what I keep reading so here's a little gold for you. I added violet patina to my handmade big ring and sanded it a big so the brass would show through. Then I added pyrite and a green kyanite stick to give it a more boho/tribal vibe, which I love. 

More metal pieces that I recently made. I etched the bottom rectangle and added patina. Both rings were hammered, formed, and patinated by me, myself & I.

Again, I made the metal pieces in this necklace. I added a cool blue kyanite stick & some rough green stone that I don't remember what it is. I should really write these things down, but it looks cool anyway.

I really love the colors on this one. I made all the metal pieces & added patina in a soft coral red and mustard yellow. Another kyanite stick dangles at the bottom. The fabric mustard & navy beads were handmade by youth in Uganda. I love buying beads that are made in Africa and knowing that my purchase really makes a difference. It's so cool! I was pretty thrilled with the idea of wire wrapping the fabric bead on the copper stick. I told Bill I had a stroke of genius!
There is more, but I'll save some for another post. I also worked on some more new components with my torch. I'm waiting for the sealant to dry and then need to add a coat of wax before I can get pictures. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Drilling Ceramics - it can be done!

Well, I bought this amazing fishy pendant from Marti (Marti's etsy shop) because who really could pass this guy up? Not me!
I thought that I could easily drill a hole into this to make a pendant - no big deal, right? Wrong! I asked Marti if there was an easy way to quickly drill into ceramics and she said she had no idea how to do it and didn't really recommend it. Uh oh! As my husband says - "You and your bright ideas!"
Then I had another idea. I decided to glue a bail on the top using E6000. Turns out E6000 doesn't stick to ceramics. Grrrr!
So, I posted a question on my favorite Facebook group page, Creative Bead Chat, to ask all the other designers if they knew what to do. I got little response except that a two-part epoxy could be used to adhere a bail. I didn't have any two-part epoxy and didn't feel like ordering, paying for shipping, waiting for it to arrive and then using some highly toxic stuff in my house.
I did some research & watched a youtube video on drilling ceramic tile and went on a hunt for a diamond tipped drill bit. No store in town had one small enough. So I asked the my wise and knowledgable father what to do (this happens on a regular basis). He suggested a carbide massonary bit. And that my friends, is how I drilled this ceramic fish pendant. I bought the smallest drill bit the hardware store had and here's what happened...
Got out my mini-drill that my father-in-law gave us.
I put the pendant in water to keep it cool while drilling. It takes a while to drill through ceramic so you don't want your piece to heat up and crack. I didn't use a lot of pressure either, just let the drill do the work. I started on low and switched to high once I had a good start on the hole. After about 5 minutes...

Here it is! I nice hole for stringing this guy up. I'm not sure yet if I'm going to use wire, leather, cotton cording or what with him, but I'm excited that he is now usable!