Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tuesday Showcase

I would love to introduce you to PolishedTwo, a fellow Etsy Texas Crafter. I was turned onto her jewelry when looking for items for a Texas Treasury. For the last ten years, she has enjoyed making one-of-a-kind jewelry in her studio, wonderfully fresh items characterized with citrusy colors and glass tile components.

Chloe necklace

Volcano necklace

Fuschia earrings

Monday, June 29, 2009

New Purchase: Blueberry Cream

I recently got a good deal on a pair of amazonite earrings wrapped in herringbone style. I tend to buy jewelry that I can't make myself or whose materials I can't find or am uninterested in finding. In this case, the wire-wrapping was beyond my still developing skills, and the price was more than reasonable. In my eyes, they're two little pieces of wire art. I'm incredibly pleased with the purchase.

Ms. Blueberry Cream has a number of other classic subdued jewelry pieces that you may be interested in. She is on vacation for a while, but you can still favorite her shop if her previous sales and her blog posts interest you.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sunday Showcase


I recently sold this pair to a coworker, so I made a pair to resell and decided to go ahead and make a pair for myself. I seriously love these beads - they embody everything I want for my "Honeyed" series. They look just like large drops of honey, and they practically glow in the light. I also made a necklace for myself and the shop months ago. If you have any custom ideas for these beads, let me know! I would be happy to further experiment with them.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Clockwork Marriage


Let me tell you what I've been obsessed with lately. It's a marriage between the natural and the technological. The Victorian and the alternate reality. The whimsical and the mechanical. It's breathtakingly beautiful. It's called steampunk.

The style combines floral, fantastic, or generally organically based with the technological beauty of watch movements. A Victorian aesthetic that can be melded with anachronisms. It's inspired by Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, the fathers of the epic technological impossibilities imposing on the natural. There's something tremendously delicate about it - you work with watch gears, which are tiny and thin, or filigree. And jewelry itself needs a more delicate and precise touch, so that intrigues me even more. I've seen gears and metal replacing the abdomen of a real beetle - now that takes delicacy.

I'm not sure what drew me to it at first. I think it may have been Cherie Priest's love for it, and I just wanted to google it to see what the fuss was about. Maybe I saw the word one too many times and just had to find out what it was. Needless to say, I was hooked on the first image search. The jewelry is the best.

It inspired creativity that I knew I had but thought was gone. I've done some painting and pencil drawing in the past, and while I'd like to do that some more, I haven't really made time for it. But I suddenly had this desire to make steampunk jewelry based on some of the items I saw. And boy, do I have ideas.

I began by buying watch movements, although I can't buy the really good ones until I have a decent disposable income. I purchased lockets and other findings. Unfortunately, my limited disposable income also keeps me from moving at a pace I would like. I had to buy a little here, a little there, hoping that they'll work or that they'll sell. I will eventually want a precision drill, which at a price of over $150 seems way out of my price range - the alternative is a less precise hand drill. It's marvelously frustrating to me. I expect that the jewelry will eventually pay itself out, but you need capital in order to profit. Another life lesson I needed to learn, apparently. I know the value of money, but I've never had to have it before - all my hobbies were relatively cheap or I could deal with holiday gifts. Now I have to save, save, save in the middle of developing a fairly expensive hobby. Figures, huh? (I am, I would like to add, saving. I'm quite good at saving.)

On the plus side, my obsession with steampunk jewelry has sparked some other untapped ideas, too, not just in the steampunk area. I've had ideas for recycled/repurposed jewelry that will cost me very little because I can find the components in the trash. Of course, I'll still need the same kinds of tools, but I can work with that. It may even help supplement the more expensive steampunk components.

In the end, I've had to sell most of my watch movements and parts - there was no point in keeping them in a case for years when I was unable to do anything with them. I managed to make two minimalist steampunk pieces that sold pretty quickly, but they did not require much skill. I'd like to be able to do so much more before I dive into the steampunk aesthetic again myself. In the meantime, I've focused my old-fashioned tastes on my gothic romance pieces based on Dracula. However, other people's steampunk work has continued to fascinate me, and I still have ideas brewing in my head for the future.

If you're interested in checking out the steampunk jewelry-makers that inspired me, see the following links:
BirdzNbeez's store
Jewels By Nature's store
Clockwork Zero's store

Friday, June 26, 2009

A Sticky Situation

My Fun, Casual Shop
My Soda Rose series

You don't know how much work goes into making jewelry creations until you experience its trials and tribulations yourself. I did, of course, anticipate some effort and experimentation in making roses out of soda cans. But I expected that effort in the realm of creating the shape of the rose itself, making each petal. I did not expect that glue would be my enemy.

I went to Michaels to look in their glue section for glue that worked with metal. Of all the glues that I saw, I chose Aleene's Jewelry and Metal Glue. Makes sense, right? And it worked great when I was putting petals together - it set fast and strong, which was ideal for gluing on a curved surface because I could not clamp it down like I might a cabochon. I had a few incidents when I glued my fingers, but that was to be expected, and I could always hide it by gluing on the next petals. So it was great glue to work with. Sounds like the end of the story. But that would be too easy.

The next day I noticed white, powdery residue on the aluminum, on the paint side and the plain side. Some of it looked like fingerprints. I just figured that the glue I had gotten on my fingers ended up getting all over everything, and I just had to be more careful. So I kept going, being more careful. But that didn't make a difference. After many hours, the powdery fingerprints would come back. I did a google search about what would get glue off of things, and I came up with rubbing alcohol and acetone. I started with rubbing alcohol, but that just made the fingerprints temporarily disappear because they were wet. They came back in seconds. Then I tried the acetone, and that made them disappear for a little while longer. But - you guessed it - the fingerprints came back (they wouldn't stay away, they were sitting on my flowers the very next day - name that song). Turns out that the evaporating fumes from the glue reacted with the oil on my hands - like a CSI episode! - in spite of the fact that the room I was in had adequate ventilation. Not at all practical for me to use for my soda flowers. I had to throw away about fifteen beautiful roses, including a few black roses with red accents that were just so perfect for a gothic necklace or something like that. Time to start over. At least I learned that my technique I came up with in my head to make the roses was a good one.

I searched Etsy forums for what other people used for metals, and the glue that came up over and over again was E6000. So I went back to Michaels and bought two glues: E6000 and hypo-cement. And I planned to use some of the Loctite glue that I had already bought a while back. I got home and I started using the E6000. It seemed to work well at first. Everyone talks about the smell, but I did not mind it at all for some reason. I let the experiments set for a few days, then went out and started pulling on the petals to make sure they had adhered properly, because E6000 seemed to be a little more flexible than I was used to. Unfortunately, the petals pulled off with enough force. I wanted a glue that would hold even when I pulled hard - after all, you want your products to be durable. Threw those experiments away, about five flowers.

So my next experiment was with the hypo-cement and the Loctite. The Loctite was a bust almost immediately because it set too slowly while also being too liquidy. Not a good combination. The hypo-cement was a bother because it was stringy like hot glue and kept getting over everything. But it set faster, so I had to at least try it. Two days later, I pulled on the petals. And they came off. By then, I was very frustrated and nearly had a meltdown in Michaels the next week when I bought super glue and could not find the kinds of beads that I wanted. It was just frustration building up over several weeks, even if it all seemed small.

Then imagine my frustration when I opened the super glue and found that the glue tube had broken inside the package and glued itself in. So I tried to return it at a different store than the one I bought it at, but they would not let me, and I did not want to drive all the way to the other store.

Now, this was the day after Halloween, and I was seriously down about everything. I went to the grocery store for some after-Halloween candy sales and a frozen pizza as comfort food. Then I remembered what a fellow aluminum can artist said about the glue that she used (it was a trade secret, so she did not tell me exactly what glue worked for her), that she found it at a drug store. On a whim, I went to the automotive aisle in the grocery store and picked up an instant liquid adhesive (that's my trade secret *wink*). I brought it home and did some more experimental roses. It seemed very much like the Aleene's in that it set fast and strong, and I was on tenterhooks for the three days I let it set.

Finally, I had my happy ending. The instant adhesive held on one side of the petal, so I just reapplied it on the other side and tested it later on. The petal held - no matter how hard I pulled, it stayed on.

It took over a month to find the right kind of glue, but now I have the right glue for my project, and I'm all content again. I have had a few mishaps gluing my fingers to the petals, and this one time I accidentally poured glue all down one of my fingers. Not good when the glue is skin-bonding. In getting it off, I had to peel off a tiny bit of healthy skin. Yeah. Eep. But in general, I have a good beginning amount of soda roses to work with.