Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Last Day of September

Time to Meet One More Talented Artist

Today is the final day of The Handmade Forum's Spa Day Challenge. The idea was that each of the participants could take a day off from the endless task of trying to get their etsy shop seen because the rest of us would spread the word for them. It has been fun and, on my spa day, the number of views of my shop and items soared to dizzying heights.

Today is the final spa day and the artist who gets to relax is Suzanne of Stella Ziganti Designs. Her sense of color and design is quite wonderful.
Here is her shop <https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/StellaZiganti?ref=shopsection_shophome_leftnav>

Suzanne creates her jewelry using silver, copper and colored stones — and she is a real master of color.

Visit her shop to see a brilliant array of necklaces, earrings and bracelets.

What Perfect Use of Color

I absolutely love the way she has graduated the tones in these earrings of Hessonite garnets. Just slip those beauties onto your ears and make that little black dress sing!

Letting the Stones Speak

Suzanne arranged the Tiger Eye beads that make up this necklace on a simple but elegant chain of sterling silver. No embellishment is needed to show off these lovely stones.

Anyone would wear this with pride.

My Personal Favorite

Some many months ago, wanting something to combine with lapis in a pair of earrings, I came across some iolite stones. I have been quite entranced by them ever since. This necklace of natural iolite does a perfect job of displaying their rich, deep blues.

Do visit Suzanne's shop. I'm pretty sure she will have something in a color that suits you to a "T".

Monday, 29 September 2014

September 29

Jewelry Display - Some of Lisa's: Some of Mine

First, let me introduce you to Lisa Prus, whose etsy shop <https://www.etsy.com/shop/insomniactreasures> ships worldwide from La Mesas, California.

If you happen to live near Lisa, you may be able to inspect her lovely creations in person at a local craft market. On November 15, she will be at the Mission Hills Church in San Marcos.

I think some of her prettiest items are the Tree of Life Pendants like this one.

Beautiful Beads

The beads in this are of tourmaline, garnet, rose quartz and labradorite. I love how the colors work together. If you want to know the stones' meanings, read her listing here: <https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/155309003/tourmaline-wire-wrapped-tree-of-life?ref=shop_home_feat_3>

Any woman could wear this with pride.

Unisex Shopping?

If you are in the market for a unisex gift this year, try one of Lisa's Unisex Bracelets. The one below is of rough-polished garnet (January's birthstone, you know).

And, if you need something for a Halloween party — these are so darned cute!

Hot Off the Bench

What with cleaning out the vegetable garden and planting and tending our future lawn, I have had all too little time for my own creativity  but I did get this pair of earrings made, photographed and listed in my shop. Sometimes a rainy day is a good thing!
Soft-sided squares of round wire hanging from soft-sided square studs — great look for the office but just fine for parties, too.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Fun for Friday

Fun, Cute and Slightly Creepy

That pretty much sums up what you will find when you cyber-wander into SammysJewels  <https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/SammysJewels>.  This etsy shop features Kawaii jewelry, charms, hair accessories and more, all created with resins.

If you have never heard of Kawaii, I will let Sammy explain: "Kawaii is the Japanese word for cute. I am inspired by Japanese street fashion. Some of my favorite fashions are sweet lolita, fairy kei, and decora."
Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here are some examples of Sammy's work .

So Darned Cute - Aplaca Love

This pastel alpaca sports a lavender bow and heart. The sweet charm is attached to a 20-inch matching plastic chain so you can wear it the moment it arrives in your mail box.

Fairy Kei Kawaii Alpaca - All Blue & Glitter

Fairy Kei is one of Japan's street fashions and draws on 1980s and 90s western toy lines like My Little Pony, Care Bears and Strawberry Shortcake among others.

No denying how adorable this little guy is.

Here Comes Halloween

Not all of Sammy's jewels are cute pastels. Sammy also has a dark side. Her Halloween-themed items show that off perfectly. To explore these accessories, visit >https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/SammysJewels?section_id=15737407&ref=shopsection_leftnav_6>

Wearable Cross Stitch - Dainty Accessories

Creating resin jewelry fulfills Sammy's creative impulses but it is a far from portable endeavor. Seeking something that can be done anywhere, Sammy took up cross stitch and now offers small cross stitch broochs you can wear. A tiny, multi-colored pin to highlight your outfit. Lovely.

The Handmade Forum

Like the other etsy artisans I have introduced you to, Sammy is a proud member of The Handmade Forum <http://thehandmadeforum.boards.net/>, a group dedicated to the ethos of all handmade. The forum grew out of concern that recent changes in etsy policy removed the emphasis on truly handmade creations. This is Sammy's badge.
 Do visit her fascinating shop and do support the handmade movement.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

It's September 24

Only Three Months Till Christmas Eve

Now that is a scary thought — but I can offer a couple of ideas that might make it less frightening. I'm going to introduce you to two more members of The Handmade Forum. Items in their etsy shops may be just the thing for under that tree.

Her Jewelry Makes Wood Rock

First up is Miran, whose Brooklyn-based shop HueWood <https://www.etsy.com/shop/huewood> is your source for abstract, geometric, painted wood jewelry. Take your pick from among Miran's necklaces, rings, earrings and key rings. Here are a few samples.

I love the patterns she paints on these and really adore the color palette, too.  Stop by her shop. I bet you will find something for that fashionista friend.

And, On a Softer Note

My other find is Make Mine Patchwork <https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/MakeMinePatchwork?ref=search_shop_redirect> where fabulous fabric creations flow from the talented fingers of Karen Relf of Birmingham, AL. Karen ships world-wide.

Karen says of her shop, "Here you will find all things patchwork... comfy quilts, baby blankets, toys, purses, pillows, holiday and home decor, handmade gifts for the young and the ageless. 

Stylish Baby

Her baby bibs are beautifully made and just too adorable for words. 

This one really makes me smile.  Other options, equally charming, are portraits of mice, elephants and bunny rabbits. Each bib is made of poly cotton blend fabric with a terry cloth inner liner. This one fastens with plastic snaps; others have ties.

Karen also makes wonderfully colorful soft sensory toys for the little ones. Here is an example

The plastic ring lets mommy attach the toy to a stroller when baby is not enjoying the colors, the feel of the fabric and the sound of the (securely encased) rattle.

And, because Christmas is coming, you might want a personalized patchwork stocking to hang on the mantle.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Start to Fall

A Quick Tour of the etsy World

I am still visiting members of The Handmade Forum shops and have found a couple of really great ones lately.

Spell it Jewellery or Jewelry, It’s All Beautiful

Katie Joy’s Uniquely You Jewellery https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/UniquelyUJewellery is based in the Netherlands (I do love the world-wide element of etsy) and makes wooden, decoupage, glass and metal jewellery (jewelry for my American friends).
I especially love her wooden bangles. These are two of my favorites. I cannot decide which I like best.

I really like the geometric pattern and the
contrast she achieved with the black and white one above (and I am a sucker for black and white) but there is something very appealing about that dramatic gold bangle. What attention that would draw if you placed it on your wrist.

And now for something completely different.

The other shop I have been wandering around is Debbie Flaherty’s etsy-emporium stocked with natural, organic skin care and beauty products. Drop by the About page on her shop https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/FlahertyNaturals/about?ref=shopinfo_about_leftnav to learn about her products and her devotion to all-natural ingredients.

Among Debbie’s oh-so-tempting products for women is this luscious lavender lip balm. What a great thing to tuck into someone’s Christmas stocking! Organic lavender essential oils, shea butter and aloe vera make this a perfect lip balm for the rough days of winter that lie ahead. Stock up, ladies.

And, speaking of gifts

Guys get gifted, too. Check out this great shaving soap. As Deb says, “once you’ve tried a handmade vegan shaving soap, you’ll never go back to those harmful canned shaving creams. 

“As a vegan shaving soap, its natural ingredients pamper his skin with moisturizing Cocoa and Shea butters and Coconut Oil, and the Bentonite clay gives a silky glide to his razor and hopefully will help prevent nicks and cuts.”

If you want to shop for the holidays, Deb's shop says she ships only to the USA from North Carolina (but I think it worth your while to convo her if you want to arrange to get some of this great stuff shipped to you elsewhere!).

Meanwhile, in Vancouver, rain has returned to celebrate the arrival of fall later today. I'm good with that. Our grass seed will get its water needs met by Mother Nature while I get back to my studio. I have some new designs to work up.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

September 21

Project Progress

Finished the custom ring yesterday.  With the table ready to go, I shaped the ring shank by soldering the ends and hammering the ring on a steel mandrel to make it round.

File and Sand, File and Sand

Once the shank was round, it was time to get all the surfaces clean and smooth. Here is the ring shank on a half-round file. I use the rounded side to ream out the inside of the ring, removing any rough spots and putting a bevel on the edges so the ring will be comfortable to wear. That counts, right ;-) The flat side of the file give the outside of the ring the same treatment.

In this photo, I have done the bevel but have not filed the outer surface, which is why the edges are so much shinier than the face.

Now It Gets Ugly

With the shank fully formed and cleaned, it was time to attach the table. That is a solder job. First, I sand the center of the back of the table and also a spot on the ring shank. That provides a slightly rough texture so the solder will cling (it hates shiny surfaces). Next, I laid the table, wrong side up, on a charcoal block, painted the area for soldering with flux and placed a couple of tiny pieces of solder on it. A moment with the torch and the solder melted onto the back of the table. Next, with heat-resistant tweezers, I positioned the ring shank and heated both pieces until the solder flowed and joined the parts.

Looks pretty grim, doesn't it? The black is just flecks of charcoal that stuck to the face of the table. Those wash off in a quick water rinse. The dull surface, however, is the result of heating the silver and requires a bath in mild acid to clean it off. After that, the piece goes through some serious polishing.

The Final Result

And, at last, here it is. Cleaned up well, didn't it? 

Friday, 19 September 2014

September 19

Wet Weather Work

I freed up some time yesterday, so I returned to work on that custom order ring. The client likes this one in my etsy shop but needs a different size.

I posted the "Beginnings" here on September 17 — cutting out the ring shank and the "table" that will sit atop it.

With the elements cut out, I set about filing the edges and sanding them smooth.

Building the Table

Yesterday, I went to work on the hammered silver table of the ring. Lots of smoothing of edges came first.

Once the edges and surfaces have been worked with files and five grades of sandpaper, the table is ready for its
decorative treatment. The photo above shows the square on top of my jeweler's anvil (I keep it on that scrap of hardwood flooring to protect the top of my bench). Beside it is the ball peen hammer that produces the dimpled effect on the silver.

Left: the hammered silver ready to mount on the ring (which is the next part of this project. Stay tuned ;-)

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Thoughts on Creativity

I Can Do Anything (Except That)

I think I could be diagnosed as “obsessively creative”. Today, I make jewelry but, over a lifetime, I have tried — and sort of mastered — drawing, painting, cooking, sewing and knitting. I have also encountered utter failure on occasion. One example: crochet. I just cannot do it. Not even that basic square. This is especially embarrassing because my mother could crochet and my grandmother thought nothing of whipping up banquet size tablecloths (one of which I cherish and use every Christmas). I am, therefore, seriously impressed by the work done by Carol (aka Quinny) of Quinnyscrochet https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/QUINNYSCROCHET 

The woman can crochet anything!

From fabulous women's fashions to beautiful baby clothes

And how about this for that proud fisherman's baby boy. Like I said, seriously impressed.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014


Starting on a Custom Order

Drizzle here today — good for the gardens and also for getting to the bench. I laid out the measurements for a custom order ring the other day and today I took that information out to the shop.

Setting Up Parts on Bench Pin

I use the ruler and dividers to transfer straight-line measurements to silver sheet. The scribe lets me deepen the line the dividers make so I won't lose my way when I'm sawing. Jewelers call it piercing, but, really, it is sawing ;-)

In this photo, I have already cut the sterling strip to make the ring shank. The sorta square piece of silver has been marked for a square but still needs to be pierced.

This is the very first fabrication step. It will be followed by a great deal of work with files and sandpaper to true up the shapes, smooth and round the edges and erase any surface flaws. I will also stamp my mark on the inside of the shank at this stage — very hard to do that once the strip becomes a ring  :-)

I'll post more as I progress.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

September 16 Finds

All Pixels All the Time
I spent some time yesterday browsing the shop of another member of The Handmade Forum: PuffyTheSlayer. The owner, Rhi Louise, bills herself as the geek with the creative streak. And creative she certainly is.

Her pixel art jewelry is both fun and fascinating and, once I got over my envy (she lives in London, for heavens sake!), I found lots of things that might be the perfect holiday or birthday gift for a geek in your family.

I think her Pixelated People fridge magnets are especially cool as is the fact that, if you buy one, it comes with Citizenship in Pixelville.

Do visit her shop — you will have fun and maybe find something just right for you.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Shop Update

Ready to List

Got that Celtic-style bracelet's toggle clasp finished just in time. My shop is now way too warm for soldering. Actually, a bit too warm for anything. It is a very non-Vancouverish 84°F in the shade here at the moment.

I decided I would rather be in the (slightly) cooler house and make use of all that natural light to take photos. Then I settled at my desk to write up the etsy listing for this so I can post it tomorrow morning. I'm quite pleased with how the mix of sterling and gold-filled wire came off. This one is daintier than the last one I made but, with the extra touches of gold, it looks richer.  I kinda hope some lucky lady will find this under her Christmas tree :-)

Not About Me This Time

There is More to Handmade Than Jewlery

When I go browsing around etsy, I never know what I’ll find. The other day I stepped — figuratively speaking — into a shop that specializes in accessories (for you and your dog) — all handmade, of course.

Black Raven Creations https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/BlackRavenCreations?ref=l2-shopheader-name ships from Michigan to locations around the world. This shop is full of beautifully-crafted things I would enjoy having but I think my personal favorites are the Japanese Knot Bags. Made of 100% cotton in a variety of pretty patterns, and reversible, these measure about 6 X 8 inches. One would be just perfect for tucking your knitting or crochet work into. I bet, once you see them, you will think of several more uses.   Here is the link to my personal favorite https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/190855270/japanese-knot-bag-100-cotton-green-tulip?ref=shop_home_feat_1

Stop by Rhonda’s shop. I’m sure you will find something you will love.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

September 14

Copper Crazy?

I have been having lots of fun with copper these days. The very reasonable cost means my Scottish blood is nor horrified by experiments even if they do not work out as I hoped. Before I go off to today's Creative Jewellers Guild meeting, I want to share a couple of my experiments here.

Rock On

This is a piece of jasper I picked up at the BC Gem Show in 2013. I loved the color and the pattern of faint fracture lines that run diagonally across the stone.

Last week, I finished two lengths of the woven copper I have been playing with. I knew the pair would work as two sides of a necklace but was uncertain of what to use as the centerpiece. Poked into my stash of stones and — voila — the perfect thing. The rock is so close to the color of the copper wire that you would think I bought it for this purpose! I still have to clean up the join on the left side -- some of the wire work end is showing! I think I will enjoy wearing this on dome of my fall shirts and sweaters.

Crazy, Right?

My other recent experiment is a bit far out. I have been working on shield shapes lately. Here, I was trying for a Zulu warrior's shield impression. I gave the copper a Raku treatment, including a very dried up laurel leaf in the mix of tree needles. Needing a cold connection to make this wearable, I took a length of copper wire, bent it to a zig-zag and filed slots top and bottom so I could secure it to the shield. At the top, the end of the wire is looped to hold a thong so this can be worn. It's sure not for everyone. The piece is about three inches long. Guess it might fit a real Zulu warrior!

Friday, 5 September 2014

September 5

Working With Wire

Back on August 8, I posted a photo of some copper wire weaving. It got set aside for a bit while I was busy with yard work but I finally got a fair amount done and thought I would share the basic process today. Okay, I also need a reason to avoid more yard work!

Here are three pieces of the woven copper wire. All started out exactly the same. The one in the foreground is how it looks after weaving a length of five loops-through-loops.  It's pretty bulky.

The next one in line, I pulled through the hardwood draw plate three times — and finished it as a bracelet.

The one at the back has been pulled five times. As a result it is much thinner -- and about 50% longer.

The Process

To the right, the chain as it was being pulled through the first hole (only a touch smaller than chain diameter). You can clearly see the interlocking loops in this photo. The Big Guy drilled a set of ever-smaller holes in this piece of hardwood for me. Always nice to have help!

Final Photo

The two longer pieces are now the same diameter and length. I've no idea what, if anything, I will do with them but it is always fun to learn a new technique. I do think I might make a silver bracelet this way one day.