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Hot off the bench block

I really have a range of things to show you today! There are three new leather cuffs. The third one is 1-1/2 inches wide.

I have some earrings with the most adorable owls.

I liked them so much, I made them available as individual charms to wear, also.

The major piece I’ve been working on for a while now is the Glentaisie necklace. It’s a stunner. It’s a Wedgewood Agate and faceted smoky quartz and LOTS of sterling in chainmaille and Viking knit chain. It looks fabulous at the collarbones with an open neckline but has an extension chain if you’d rather wear it over a sweater or the like. I definitely intend to make another one with different stones, maybe with colored niobium rings in the chainmaille.

And with that, I’m heading back to the shop to play with my new wax pen and make new pretties…

No room at the faire

I’ve been applying to Ren Faires in addition to art shows and the like because I think my jewels would be a fitting addition, but I appear to be running into the same issue. The vendor spots have been filled for years, and unless someone drops out, there’s no room for anyone new. It reminds me of buying a house in southern California during a hot real estate market. There simply weren’t houses for sale unless someone died. I think I make interesting sparkly things. I want to show off what I do. I get good traffic at the shows and on the website afterward and positive feedback. People would rather see things in person to pick it up, feel the weight of it, try it on. But where do I go from here when the physical market seems packed, even when those same vendors tell me that sales are not as good as they expect?

Rawr.

I do love doing custom work. 🙂

Components

After many hours of mind-numbing tedium to make, I’m enjoying looking at this 7 feet of sterling Viking knit chain and whipping it around like Wonder Woman’s back-up lariat. It’s destined to be simply a component in a necklace that will take a fair bit more planning from here on out. As soon as I finish holiday commissions, this will be the next project. If it turns out as fabulous as I think it will, I’ll make a few with different colored stones. I can’t wait to sort it out and show it to you!

Experiments and new partners

Here’s something new for me. My blog partner, Rings and Things, sent me a package of goodies to try out. I got some glass tiles and bezels along with some base metal bails in various finishes. What first?

The resin pieces that are part of my regular stock are made by soldering sterling bezel cups to sheet, then filling the cup with resin. I started doing it that way after discovering that resin would find any possible microscopic opening to leak from, and the bezel cups prevented this. Rings and Things sent a few glass bezels to play with. They have much thicker walls than my metal bezels but the same basic idea. Being clear, they just disappear in the finished piece. I also like making something interesting for the back. They’re also deep enough to embed just about anything you might want to drop inside. The little metal rose here is completely submerged. I found that if the resin has any drips down the glass walls outside the domed surface, a light hand on a buffing wheel after full cure will clean that right up. The glue-on bails make these a snap to hang. I used a 2-part epoxy.

The glass tiles were a bit more of a puzzle to me. I’ve seen these for sale but never looked too hard into how to make them myself. The Rings and Things description page says to “attach an image to the back,” then attach a bail. What’s the best way to do that exactly? Epoxy? Mod Podge? Spray mount? White glue? I tried all of those, by the way. I painted these images on watercolor paper, but I think next time I’ll use something a little less textured. I liked the spray mount because it didn’t smudge the paint I used like a liquid glue did. Acrylic paint would prevent that, I’m sure, but I used a highly saturated, glittery watercolor paint for the bright colors and sparkle.

Now that the image was attached, I wanted to seal the back. I’m in Florida, after all, and it rains daily in the summer. Paper backed by glue isn’t going to last long here. I floated a thin layer of resin over the back, which worked pretty well once I got the hang of how much to use. Again, the buffing wheel helped clean up any cured resin that didn’t stay precisely where I put it. (If you’ve ever worked with resin, you know how it tends to creep slowly.)

Then I got to thinking, what else can I do with these? Would it be possible to fuse metal clay to them? I think it’s a possibility, but I ran out of time to experiment much before posting this. I fired some of the tiles with syringe designs on the top, and I planned to paint on the back between the silver designs. It appeared to work after a 30-minute firing at 1150. I tossed them into the tumbler, where the silver slid right off the tiles. Perhaps it would work if fired to 1450 and the glass started to slump, trapping the metal into the surface? I’ll give a shot later, and if anyone reading this has tried it, I’d be curious as to your results.

Overall impressions on the glass bezels and tiles is that they’re very handy and easy to use. I’ll be watching for more sizes and shapes to come out in the bezels. As for the tiles, I’m not sure if I was doing it right to end up with a durable product. If I knew what I was doing, however, I’d be all over them. They certainly do have a sturdier, more substantial feel than the thinner ones I’ve seen elsewhere. I’ll have to play more with them to see if metal clay can be used to come up with an interesting look. Thank you, Rings and Things, for giving me a reason to experiment!

Symbols and Lines

For a while, I’ve been meaning to make some interchangeable links for bracelets and earrings, and I finally came up with a couple of sets. First up is a stylized line drawing of a stand of trees with garnets. It’s over an ounce of silver and hangs nice and stable with those double links. There are sweet earrings to match.

  

I also made an elemental set with pictographs of earth, water, fire, and air, bound by spirit. A full ounce of sterling, similar design as the trees above, so it’s really comfortable to wear. With links that are 7/8″ tall, it will be noticed! I made two earring options, but of course, since everything is made by me, in my shop, I can make whatever you like. Alternating links of water and fire? Sure thing, just ask. I’ll need some time to get it done, though, so keep that in mind if you have a date to keep. I’m so delighted with how these came out that I’ll likely be making more groups in the same vein. I’ve had a lot of requests for owls after I posted the custom pendant, so maybe a set with them?

     

And the custom piece with opals and aquamarine:

Feedback

Thank you, everybody who ventured out across the railroad tracks to visit us in Melbourne! Even with fewer people than I had hoped who realized we were down there, I got some great feedback from the weekend. I’ll be making some of the leather cuff bracelets in black, and in 1-1/2″ widths for the guys. I want to make some square bracelet links with the same kind of design as little currency pendants; swirly, textured, alien plant looking. I might do some similar silver cuffs. The double leather bracelets with phrases got a lot of attention, also. I’ll also be posting all the older beaded jewelry half-off to clear it out. Please let me know if there’s something you’d like, and I’ll tell you how low I can drop the price! It was a fun beginning, but I won’t be continuing that path. I plan on experimenting with pewter, also. My hypersensitive self can wear it. Does anyone have an allergy to it? Oh! And we got so many comments on a mirror I use on the table and my copper, brass, silver, and amber Garden Gate pin/necklace that I’m thinking of going larger scale, layered, and sculptural, and making mirrors or frames. What do you think?