Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Nearly finished...

Very happy with this necklace - which is just about finished.  I just need to figure out an adjustable slider so the necklace can be worn at several lengths.

This next piece can be worn as either a bracelet which wraps several times or as a necklace.  

I have so much on my workbench to complete for Friday.  I hope that the creative juices keep flowing and that they flow quickly and that I manage to stay on task. Grasshopper mind and all that!

Monday, November 19, 2012

What's on my work bench...

Semi precious stones and sterling silver

Just a hint of what is on my work bench at the moment.  Earrings waiting to be completed and a necklace which is nearly finished. Have lots of things that need to be finished off - I have completion anxiety! Too funny - I crack myself up! 

Sterling silver heart that I cast and semi precious stones and crystal faceted beads

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A cautionary tale...

OK - this post is not for the faint of heart or if you are squeamish.  But, I thought that I would post this so I could possibly prevent this happening to someone else.  Last Sunday after breakfast and whilst still in my jim jams I decided that it would be a great idea to saw some tiny rivets before getting myself ready to go to the Anthropologie Holiday Workshop.  I had been on the wait list and they called the night before to say they had a space - so I was excited!  The plan was to quickly saw 6 rivets - that was the plan!  As I did not have a huge amount of time, I held the handy dandy tube cutting jig in my hand - 6 tiny rivets, no problem - was my thought.  What happened was my saw blade snapped and embedded itself into my finger.  Initially, I could not work out whether I had completely sawn down into my finger and it took me a few deep breathing moments to work out what had happened.  I was still attached to my saw frame at this point!  After my hubby released me I decided that it would be a "good" idea for him to hold onto the end and pull it out - he did ask me if I wanted something to bite down on!  After two unsuccessful tries - ouch - I realised that we would be off to Urgent Care to get it removed. By the way, it's really hard to undress and dress with a saw blade sticking out of the end of your finger. Just saying!

You cannot really tell from the photo but it is down to my knuckle!  So, 3 x-rays, 1 tetanus shot and 3 injections in my finger to numb it later and a discussion whether it would be best to pull or push - went with the pull even though the blade would saw through my finger as it was pulled out as the Doctor was worried about the blade snapping in my finger - it was out! Yeah. so one more x-ray to check there was nothing left behind and I was on my way home!

So back to the rest of my day - I called Anthropolgie and they very kindly moved me to a later class and I dashed over there only to realise that I couldn't take part as my finger was still totally numb and I was probably not safe to use the glue gun!  Actually I am not safe to use a glue gun at the best of times!  I think that the humble glue gun could be quiet easily be used as an instrument of torture.

So after 1 week on yucky antibiotics and a pain in my arm from the tetanus I have learnt my lesson.  Always clamp!  Always, always, always - no exceptions! You have been warned!

This was the piece that I was working on - hmmm...!

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Halloween Grinch...

My birthday falls on Halloween - which, when I lived in England was not a problem. But, Halloween is so huge in the United States that I think that like people born on Christmas Day (other than Jesus!) I must start to have a half birthday. Or be more like my brother who always has a birthday week!

O.K. enough of my moaning - as a family we actually had a fantastic Halloween.  The community where we live is one of the best places for kids to trick or treat safely and my daughter a.k.a. Cat Vampire Girl had a blast.  On the Sunday before Halloween we had a Pumpkin Patch at school, on Monday I did a craft party with my daughter and five of her friends, on Halloween during the day we had a party at school, we carved pumpkins in the afternoon and then we trick or treated until 9:00pm.  

Don't you just love these cupcakes - Frankenweenies! As you can probably tell despite my Grinchiness that I really do throw myself into the Halloween spirit. So until next year - "I am Dracula, blah, blah, blah!" 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Today I am listening to this...

I was reading a lovely blog - a well traveled woman by Becka, a very inspirational young woman. 
It was here that I came across Matt Corby's music. I am loving this. Oh, I am working - really!

Disclaimer - should mention that there is a rather bad swear word in the lyrics - but I guess sometimes only a bad swear word will do! Anyway, you have been warned! Enjoy!  

I think the the acoustic version of this is even better.  Brilliant.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Good intentions...

Wow - well there went summer and all my good intentions! Thank you for those of you that continued to check my blog - that was very kind and very patient of you and I will do my best not to be so utterly rubbish ever again! Promise! 

A British Summer and my daughter's rainy day activity.

Summer was so busy - a visit to England - for 3 weeks and it rained every day except one - which was boiling hot! I had packed for summer - wasn't thinking - obviously! - and we were feeling a little damp.  But, we made the best of it and had a great time - it was lovely to see our family and friends. 

The summer flew by and we had lots of sunny days once we were back in California.  
We took lots of walks and spent a lot of time at the pool cooling down.

What took up most of the time this summer was adjusting to having a new puppy! She is super cute but we really underestimated how time consuming and restrictive a new puppy would be!  She has totally turned our life upside down. We are over the worst I think (hope!) and spending a lot of time trying to 
convince her  that she is a Golden Retriever - not a sled dog! 

Now it is back down to work - lots of making to do...

Friday, June 22, 2012

I am seeing stars!

This is what I cast this week - it was like holding a handful of pirate treasure. This photo was taken as I was starting to clean them up - I really could do with minions. I gave myself a disastrous manicure with the buffing machine!

This weekend John will put up the second of the Berlin pendants from 17th and Riggs. We also took delivery of our ten new dining chairs. They are the Navy chairs from Emeco. It was very exciting to get home after a day at the studio and have 5 big boxes so beautifully packaged waiting for me. We just have to get a dining table made now - it has to be narrower and longer than our current table. I really wanted to get a burnt orange formica table made, very mid century modern - but they have discontinued the colour that I like.  So maybe it will just have to be white, which will be fine.

I thought I would share how my day progressed yesterday. Although, I have my bench set up, 
I don't have a clean space yet to complete my pieces. But that's what dining tables are for - right?

This is what it looked like just a short while later and below is a photo of the chaos at its peak!

Anyway, I got a lot done and below are the fruits of my labour. 
It is a little more conservative than my usual larger pieces but not everyone likes big! 

Star pendant with turquoise beads and fresh water pearl

Star bracelets with aqua marine beads and a freshwater pearl.
Flower bracelet with African glass trade beads, turquoise and a fresh water pearl.


This pendant is a work in progress and I am just working on how to space the dangles 
so that you see them all once the piece is being worn. 

Sterling silver, turquoise, aqua marine and fresh water pearl.

Colored copper with textured copper discs and sterling ear wires.

All in all a productive week. I am off to England next week and will do my best to post when I can and will keep you updated with my travels.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Is it a dress or a shower curtain?

I went for lunch today at the Gypsy Den at The LAB - the antimall in Costa Mesa. I love it there!  This is what they say about themselves - "The LAB, recycled from a night vision goggle factory, began its journey to combat retail monotony almost 20 years ago. In the midst of Orange County’s suburbia and perfectly planted palm trees, we recognized a need for a homey, indoor-outdoor hang out with shops and restaurants geared for the young at heart, and not offered in every mall on every corner. The “LAB” stands for “Little American Business” and that’s what we are, and what we continue to support." Yeah, The LAB!  While I was there I came across this fab little book.  How super is this book -  I surely must be able to do two things a day!

This is so me!
My photo didn't work - but this it what the LAB looks like.
So, woke up today and I had a mission. Last night I decided to make a new dress - out of a shower curtain - as you do!  I was unable to find my pattern (my garage really needs to be on the list) so I cut around one I had made earlier.  I was a bit scared as I have a love/hate relationship with sewing machine - if it is behaving, happy days - but it just randomly misbehaves and drives me crazy.

When I was in Santa Monica last week I picked up a shower curtain from West Elm. It was in the sale for $14.99, although I just checked their website and online it was $49 reduced to $24.99. Bargain!

So, hurray!  I achieved one thing off my list today. I found it a little tricky trying to make the bias binding - it really challenges my mind trying to piece it all together.  So forget those brain training games - just cut up fabric and make long lengths of bias binding.  So, guess what I am wearing tomorrow? And I guess that clearing the dining table goes back on the list tomorrow!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Something old...

This is one of my older pieces that I thought would be nice to share as I am working on a new flower pendant at the moment.  I had a "great" idea that I would make stands for all my jewelry and they would live on the stand and be displayed like a piece of art whilst not being worn.  This piece is a silver and amethyst ring.  I say that it was a "great" idea because it actually took me longer to make the flower stand than it did to make the piece - doh! - back to the drawing board.  I think that the concept is a good one - but I just need to refine it.

I had a wonderful time last Friday at the Contemporary Crafts Market in Santa Monica. It is a show that I would like to sell at in the future and thought it would be a good idea to check it out.

I got to meet one of my jewelry heroes - Kit Carson. I have admired his work for a long time and it was a real honour to talk with him.  OK, I admit it - I was a little starstruck! But, hopefully more of this later.
I have lots of pieces all in various stages of completion and will post them as soon as I have photos.  Seem to be staying on task at the moment - which is a miracle!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The ring of fire!

Firstly, two posts in one week! I am even scaring myself! OK, the back story: I have been making jewelry for nearly 10 years and I am a fabricator, which means that I take metal sheet or wire, usually silver but sometimes copper and I do a number of things with it which can include sawing, hammering, soldering, texturing, etc, etc! If it is not a good day that might even include biting it - yes, that's what that texture is! OK, not really, but occasionally I will swear at it! For a long time I have been interested in trying out casting but it is not for the faint of heart. Lost wax centrifugal casting has the potential to be very dangerous and you need a skilled teacher to guide you. I lucked out with the wonderful Sheri Cohen who teaches at the Irvine Fine Arts Center, not only is she a fantastic teacher but she is also an incredible jewelry artist.

The Centrifuge - a.k.a - the ring of fire!
This is the centrifuge where you melt the silver. The idea is that you release the wound up centrifuge which spins the molten silver at an incredible speed, which then shoots into the negative space in the flask - the negative space is where your wax was before being burnt out in a kiln. The scariest part of this is getting the flask from the kiln into the centrifuge. This is not easy and is made even more difficult by the fact that are wearing a leather apron, dark glasses and full face shield. On top of this you have to wear oversized gloves and try to to manoeuvre the incredibly hot flask with a pair of tongues! It is like a party game for masochists!

The protective gloves that you must wear - way to big - but one size fits all!
I imagine that this process gets less stressful the more times that you do it, which is good, as I am sure that my heart couldn't take it!  Anyway, success!  All my pieces cast, and no one was hurt in the making of this jewelry.  Happy days.
Fresh from the kiln, needing a good scrub and polish.
As you can see after the cast pieces are cleaned up, worked over on the grinding wheel - there are lots of sharp edges to knock down - and then buffed, a patina added and then a final polish the pieces are looking pretty good. I am pleased with the results.  I think that knowing how to cast adds an extra tool to my creative toolbox and I am looking forward to more experimentation.

The results - they still need a little refining but looking good! 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Like a kid in a sweet shop...

I had a such a great morning in the Art Supply Warehouse in Westminster today.  It was so much fun to leisurely walk the aisles and peruse all the loveliness on offer.

Handmade paper and so many choices.

Be still my beating heart!

Not one... 

 but two sides of the aisle chock full of paint brushes!

Anyway, I am now armed with the supplies that I needed and it is back to work.  I am working on a technique where you apply color to metal.  I fiddled about with this a few years ago and came across a couple of test samples as I have been slowly (very slowly!) unpacking.  My workshop is coming together, although still not functional, but it is a joy to keep discovering things as I unpack.  

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Mary Poppins or Truly Scrumptious?

At last, after a year of waiting I have a new bike - it is made by Electra and I just love it!  It is so much fun and because of the shape of the bike you really are sat up quiet straight - very much like Mary Poppins or Truly Scrumptious. I didn't stage the flowers - although they do look rather lovely - it is Teacher Appreciation week and I had just raided my mother-in-law's garden! So, what shall I call her - Mary or Truly? Hmmm, big decision! I have a bell, a clip on flower and most importantly of all - a coffee cup holder! What more could a girl want?

I have been working - yippee! Here are two pieces that I am working on. This is going to be a new collection called "Mended" - most of us have had to deal with failed relationship, loss, loneliness and sadness - which at the time may feel as if your heart has been ripped apart or at the very least leaves our hearts a little battered and bruised. Mended means to make whole again - to be complete. I think that our life experiences, although tough to deal with at the time make our hearts stronger and make us more beautiful as a person over time. We have more empathy, understanding and compassion for people that may be living through something similar - it makes you a good friend in someones time of need. What I am trying to convey is that though something has been damaged, it can be repaired and become more beautiful in the process. Hopefully will get these pieces finished over the next few days and over to the lovely Paula Hanson's boutique.

Monday, April 23, 2012

This week I am loving "within the rose" by Matthew and the Atlas

I have just realised that for a jewelry artist and metalsmith I have an extraordinary fascination with paper! Kudos to Neil Coxhill who created this fantastic animation. I am also so in love with Matthew Hegarty's voice! Strange that I move over five thousand miles from the UK to the US only to discover Matthew and the Atlas who are based in London!  All of this I know has nothing to do whatsoever with jewelry!  I am working on some fun stuff at the moment and will show you as soon as I can what I have been up to - I am revisiting an idea I had several years ago and have my fingers crossed - not whilst working! - that it is something special. 

Above is the full length animation of "within the rose" by Matthew and the Atlas 
and below is the music video .

Monday, April 2, 2012

Ooh la la - I'm in Orange Coast Magazine!

A stylist saw one of my rings last month in Paula Hanson's boutique and asked if she could use it in a photo shoot for Orange Coast magazine.  It was very exciting to stand in line at the grocery store today and flick through the magazine and see a piece of my jewelry.   Hmmm - I could get used to this!