Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Step 2: All Charms Completed!

I'm so happy with the way that these charms all turned out! What do you guys think?

I originally brought both shells as well as my casting into Metalliferous to ask for their expert advice on making them all into charms, fully expecting to have to buy more tools and stuff, but it turned out that all I needed was $2 worth of some silver and I was good to go!

I felt guilty spending so little because the employee (owner?) really took the time out to look at each of my items and not only suggested which techniques to use, but also recommended ways to use the tools I had to get the best result -- wow! I'm so glad I asked for help, because I don't think this would have turned out nearly as well as it did if I hadn't. Thank you, Metalliferous!!! I decided on making a bezel fitting
for the tiniest shell because I was afraid of drilling into it and messing it up or risking that it might break when worn.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

my new favicon

Can't seem to figure out how to host this image, so as an experiment, I'm just putting it right here to see if I can link to it:

oooo! That's tiny!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Soldering Book Recommendation: Soldering Made Simple

I don't know if you can tell or not from my more recent photos, but my soldering skills have recently improved dramatically and I just wanted to give credit where credit is due: I've been reading Soldering Made Simple (Easy techniques for the kitchen-table jeweler), by Joe Silvera.

The man's last name is Silvera, after all, so obviously he knows his silver!

This book really is amazing. From the fantastic tutorials and cute design ideas to the detailed and crisp photographs! I would have paid good money to take a class to learn the things I got just from reading this book! I would still consider taking a jewelry class at some point. But now maybe for something a little more difficult... Stone setting perhaps? Maybe advanced stone setting after I finish this book ;)

Step One: the First Casting!

I was so excited to get over to Taba and see how my casting came out! As usual, Taba did an amazing job!!! Here is what the raw casting looks like, straight out of the mold -- a pure silver clone of it's original:

That tube of silver protruding from the bottom of the pine cone is called a "sprue." Sprues are leftover bits of metal that fill up the hole where the metal enters the mold. You just have to saw them off and file down the tiny bump that's left. And here's the finished piece, after it's been sawed, filed, cleaned, soldered, pickled and polished:

Before the pine cone was made into a mold, it needed to be coated with nail polish. The nail polish thickens up some of those paper-thin edges to make for a more successful casting. I also filled in most of the areas where the seeds had fallen out with the nail polish, but it looks like I missed a couple of them, which left the casting with some interesting "holes"; I can't believe how much detail the casting preserved! I'll bet those old seeds would pop right back into place if I still had them...

FYI, Taba only uses certified recycled (eco-friendly!) silver in their castings which I love!!! They have a certificate of authenticity right behind the front counter when you walk in and I smile at it every time I see it...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Dead Man's Bones

Although not the official video for "My Body's a Zombie for You," I thought this made excellent use of Edward Gorey's The Gashlycrumb Tinies so I just had to share it with you guys.

Mr. Gorey would approve, I'm sure.

video credit: JonTheDandy on YouTube

Dead Man's Bones is a surprisingly good band headed up by heartthrob Ryan Gosling (of The Notebook fame... didn't see it? Me neither... but he was in a lot of other stuff, too that I also didn't see, and that doesn't really mean anything; as any follower of my blog would know, I don't exactly watch "normal" American movies -- e.g. I'm currently watching indie nerdfest The Last Lovecraft with my husband, Brad. And I'm really enjoying it.)

The self-titled album features the Silver Lake Conservatory of Music Children's Choir
(founded by Flea!) and utilizes them with such charm and wit, it's really quite amazing. Such adorable creepiness...

"I'm a Z-O-M...B-I-E... ZOMBIE!" Yes, indeed.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Last Thursday...

Last Thursday, I took a day off from crafting and studio renovations to visit with my Bubby and her boyfriend, Jim, in Philadelphia. My Bubby is probably one of the cutest things alive and was most definitely my first style icon growing up. She always looked amazing! My Bubby is my sole remaining grandparent.

I really could kick myself for not bringing my camera. But I did grab a few pieces of sea glass from the Delaware River when my adorable grandmother and her equally adorable boyfriend (both in their eighties!) braved the steep, winding staircase with me, down to the pebble beach by my grandmother's condo.

I think I have only been back there once or twice before, since the passing of my grandfather. Despite the renovations since that time, much of the rooms have remained pretty much the same. My sister and I spent many a weekend there together when we were younger, and being there again brought back so much. So many good memories... Too many to count.

Here is what my Bubby looked like, back in the day:

As you can see from this photo, it's pretty obvious why my Bubby was a big influence on me. She's gorgeous! That outfit! The hair! The one on the left that looks like a prettier version of me is my Mommy, next to her is my Bubby, behind my Bubby is my father, and my grandfather is on the far right sporting his epic, unfaltering comb-over.

When my grandfather ran out of filaments to comb over, he resorted to a toupee that he updated from time-to-time to match his remaining hair as it greyed. He was an amazingly good sport about it, though; when my sister and I were little, we would wait until he dozed off and try to snatch it off of his head while he was sleeping, but he never got mad at us. Someone snapped a picture of one such occasion and he was actually smiling (I think I have that somewhere?!) Then there's another gem of a snapshot of my grandfather wearing a woman's (I was told it may have been my mother's?) wig that presumably either I or my sister put on him... Good times... I miss you Bum-Bum.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Birthday Surprise...

My mother-in-law's birthday is coming up next month and here is a sneak peek at the beginnings of a necklace I'm making for her.

All of these are found objects from the cruise that my in-laws treated me and Brad to back in January. The object in the back is a tropical pine cone! I didn't even think that evergreens existed in tropical locales, but lo and behold! This object is being cast in pure silver and the two shells are going to be made into charms.

Not sure yet if I'm going to make a longer-length charm necklace or if I'm going to try the lariat style from one of my previous projects... more pix to come as the project unfolds!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Update on Our Tree!!!

We have a hole!!!

Okay, so we've had a hole for a while now, but it pretty much immediately filled up with snow and stayed that way for about a month so there was nothing to photograph. Okay, so the snow melted several weeks ago, but now we have something else filling the hole: dog feces and trash -- yay!

I think we need to put up a little fence. stat.

New Embroideries on the Way!!!

The week and a half off from work went really well, I think. Only a couple of days left of freedom and then it's back to work for me, but I feel very good about what I've accomplished.

I tackled a lot of clutter in my studio (I donated several large bags of clothes Wednesday morning to the Vietnam Veterans -- yay!) and finally got around to prepping the studio doors for paint... something I put off with good reason, so I soon discovered; it took HOURS.
I worked on some new designs and got to think about where I want things to go from here.

I've been brainstorming, taking all of the feedback I've received over the past couple of seasons and trying to make Metal, Cloth & Wood better. I want more options available for my shoppers. More choices price-wise. Hey, what do you guys think of a bobbypin with one of my embroideries on it that goes for $10? Obviously not in sterling silver, though! But I want to do higher pricepoint stuff, too -- something for everyone!

Here is a sneak peek of some of the new embroidery themes (Leif, can you spot the hedgehog?)

For inspirational photographs, I've been using Google images. And I've learned 2 interesting facts: when you type in "bunny photographs" expect to get lots of images of naughty girls (presumably either named Bunny, or possibly betrothed at one point or another to Hugh Hefner) and when you type in "cute ant photographs" expect to get a result that looks like a photo album straight out of
The Jersey Shore (i.e. Ant = Anthony)

More photographs to come!!!

Monday, March 14, 2011

New Design! New Design!

Ok! First project completed; I designed a new bezel cup for my larger pendants. This week I will be continuing in this vein, replacing all other bezel settings for my other designs.

As much as I liked the original design, it wasn't perfect. I really wanted something a little cleaner and more polished and the way I was making the pieces before was a little cost-prohibitive and too time-consuming. So I came up with this little girl and she's #1) prettier #2) more light weight and #3) she'll speed up the construction process! And #'s 2 & 3 solve the cost-prohibitive issue mentioned earlier; less silver + less labor costs = more affordable products!!! I think I just had my "aha!" moment. If I can make this work, I can shave a whopping $10 off of the retail price, taking my $45 pendant down to $35!!!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

New Supplies = New Projects!

So I finally made another trip down to Metalliferous and I'm so excited about all the new stuff I got, I just had to share it with you:

First off, I got more silver to play with, including new bezel wire, hard and medium solder, and some new pendant blanks to play with -- wheeee! Then there's all the cool, new soldering equipment and supplies: a soldering platform, compressed charcoal, solderite tile, and more butane (not so photogenic, as it turns out)

And did I mention my new soldering pick?... My new TITANIUM soldering pick?... I am going to solder like I've never soldered before!

On a completely unrelated note, I just had to post this next clip of an appearance on the Late Show by a band that despite their name and frightening album cover, I just can't hate them. Here's why:

So good, right? If you haven't heard them yet, they're called Deerhunter. And if you're looking at the lead singer and wondering why he looks so distinctive, he actually suffers from the same connective tissue disorder (Marfan Syndrome) that Joey Ramone did. Wonder if there's a connection b/w musical talent and this rare disorder? Hmmm...

Go here and give the rest of their album a listen -- it's pretty darned good!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Unexpected Free Time... and a gratuitous photo of Dexter

Please excuse my lack of creative posts. I took a bit of a creative sabbatical - well, not entirely. I have a couple of leads on some more custom work and I've been mulling over trying a few new designs and techniques that I think are really going to work out well.

But first, I need to go shopping. I need medium and hard sheet solder. I need a soldering platform and
wire mesh. I need beaded wire. I need a titanium pick! And I need a solderite board and a compressed charcoal brick. I'm probably going to give myself a hernia carrying this stuff back from the city. Something called "compressed charcoal" can't possibly weigh less than ten lbs...

I just rcvd word that I have a week and a half to myself. An unpaid vacation of sorts from my freelance gig as a baby clothing designer. But! I have plans; I'm going to make the most out of those free hours. Craft show season is starting back up and I need to grow my inventory. I also have some projects to finish up in my studio. Projects to make it more work-friendly and inviting. I'm always so jealous of seeing pictures of beautiful work studios online. Successful crafters always seem to have a lot of house pride -- something I've always been lacking in for some reason. Maybe there's a connection?...

photo courtesy of Lara Whateley, owner of
Dog Day Afternoon, dog walking service provider for our little Dexter.

Monday, March 7, 2011

In Case You Missed it...

Spotted today on The Sartorialist:

A-DORE-able!!! Click here for more of this lady's amazing outfits (that fur thing excluded, of course -- blenh.) I think someone (meaning me) might be getting brave enough to wear a kerchief on her head soon... MIGHT be.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Oy vey!

John Galliano is currently facing court time for making anti-semitic comments in public -- an offense which holds the threat of jail time and a $30k+ fine in France, where the comments were made. I kept hearing about a video of Galliano making similar comments (not sure if this is the event in question or just one that happened to be caught on tape,) and the glutton for punishment that I am, I had to look it up and watch it for myself. Watch at your own risk -- it's pretty shocking.

I totally agree with the person who left a comment on YouTube stating that he understood Galliano "was drunk but people usually say what they feel when drunk. This man needs serious help." It never ceases to shock and amaze me, how full of venom and bile some people are...