Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Gettin' Close

Last week it was all about earrings. This week I'm making all of my already fired bits and pieces into necklaces. I've had some of them sitting on my bench for years! To get ready for my show June 11, 12 and 13 I'm turning every single fired thing I have into jewelry. That or sending it to Rio to become raw materials for some other jeweler (refining scrap).

These are just some of the necklaces I've been assembling. The reticulated box is from a metals class I took at Santa Monica College two years ago. After I'm done with the assemblages, I'm hoping to have still more time to make a few new pieces. Including a larger Specimen Container to be a wowzer in the middle of my table.

Isn't this photo by Drew Davidson great?

And speaking of Specimen Container's... did you see my tutorial on Tonya's blog? I think she did a great job with the synopsis. And if you'd like to learn how to make something like it in person, come out to The Beading Place in Tustin this weekend for a two day workshop! We're gonna have so much fun. I think there are 4 or 5 spots open - so make that call and come on down.

Friday, May 21, 2010


I've been making things for my upcoming show at the Contemporary Crafts Market (June 11-13 at the Santa Monica Civic) and I realized that I need to make a bunch of earrings. Fast. So I've given in to mass production. Not a lot of mass, but not one off's either.

I always try to stress to students that if you're using a commercial tool, you want to think of a way to make it unique to you. Use more than one texture maker on a single slab of clay, cut a shape with a cookie cutter and then cut it again with another to change the shape... Things like that. And I do it myself. But even using cookie cutters in an inventive way can take time. So I came up with the brilliant idea to make my own shape templates. Why did it take me so long to figure out that little shortcut? Doh!

I used rubber cement to glue the paper to the copper
This bench pin is great. It raises the height of the pin to what it would be if I were using a jeweler's bench instead of a desk.
I drew three designs that I liked, cut them into manageable sizes and glued them to a piece of 24g copper sheet. Then I pierced out the shape with a jeweler's saw and used them to cut multiple earring pieces.

Fired 'em up, soldered some 20g wire on to 'em, patinated, polished and put 'em together to document for you! I'm very happy! Not quite sure about the little amphora shapes, but I'll put 'em on the table and see if they get any bites. Not sure if any of them deserve to be pendants either, but I'll think on it. Loove them all as earrings. And I got so much done in two days. I might like this production thing after all.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Best Laid Plans

I did get all the earrings done yesterday! Hurray! And I learned exactly why people make sketches, create production lines and basically think first.

Anyone else see Daisy Duck's feet in these earrings?

I had all the components and a vague idea of what to do with them. But reality is so different. One element that I was sure would be fabulous - wasn't. But another I hadn't even though of was! I made an earring wire design that I'd never done before and ruined some sterling wire trying to get it right. Then I got the bright idea to experiment with copper wire first. Duh.

I'm happy with these and might actually make more, now that I know how they'll turn out. But I also think I'm going to do some drawing this afternoon.

This morning I wanted to get the ring done so I can have it photographed for the Annual. One would think it would be easy. I've made a million of 'em. Okay. Slight exaggeration, but you get my drift. The hole in the coral flower was larger than 20g though, so I wasn't able to fall back on my old trick of using earring posts for the wire. This was my first time just using a simple butt end cut wire. And it was much easier than I thought. What was I afraid of before???

The only real tricky part was figuring out how to set it up. I ended up using Chris' Soldering Tool to hold the ring in place (assisted by a groove dug into my board) and a third hand to hold the wire onto the ring, which I always do with the earring post. Worked perfectly.

Later I remembered that I could have drilled a little hole in the top of the ring to fit the wire into. That might have made a better solder join. But I think this one will be fine. I set the flower onto the post with resin. I usually use 2 part epoxy, but the resin was out and I thought I'd try it. Anyone know a reason for me to take it off and set it with the epoxy instead? (edit) Well, the resin didn't cure of course. How did I think the light would get up into the hole? I re set it with 2 part, 5 minute epoxy and it's great.

Trying to solder a post into the cavity did not work! At least with this set up. I think it might have worked had I placed the piece on a trivet and torched from underneath. As it is I ended up drawing a ball on the end of the wire and the solder refused to flow.

I had the resin out to set another flower into the cavity of a bead I made as a class sample. I turned it into a brooch by soldering a wire catch and a fine silver tube to hold the pin stem. It was all going so well until after I cured the flower/uv resin I was using. I put the steel wire into the tube and tried to bend it when suddenly the tube broke in half! I think it was too short and wouldn't take the torque from the bending (steel wire is realllly hard to bend). I had also scratched the tube somehow and had polished the scratch out. Maybe I took away too much material.

Now I have to get out the Attack, remove the resin and flower, torch off the patina and re solder another tube. Ah well. Such is the life of a jewelry maker. Nothing is easy.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


This is what I'm working on today. And dang it all if it isn't all finished jewelry by the end of the day! Maybe if I document my tasks, they'll actually get done.

Should the round hollow thing be a pendant or a brooch? I can't decide.

I'm listening to a Pandora station based on Minor Swing from the movie Chocolat with Johnny Depp and Natalie Portman. I'm in love. Saw it on Saturday night and can't get it out of my head. It's a gray overcast day. A perfect one for chai tea, enjoying the lounging kitties and jewelry making.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Deadlines and Determinations

Hello. My name is Lora and I have a problem. Unfortunately there are no 12 step programs to help. I am a perpetual procrastinator. Not sure when I developed this nasty habit, but I do remember my Mother forcing me to stay up all night to finish a report when I was in elementary school. Not sure I had even started on the project. I was planning on getting up early in the morning to do it (procrastination to the unth power), but nooooooo..... I think I finally put my head on the pillow at about 3 am. Poor little girl.

A MUSEing Tease

I've been socked away in my studiolo for the past week completing my next Master Muse tutorial. And I looove it. So sad I had to send it away. So relieved to have it done and in Tonya's capable hands. So nice to do absolutely nothing yesterday. So glad I taped "Spotless Sunshine of the Eternal Mind" to watch when I had time. It was great.

But my misery is not at an end! I have a big show the first week in June. What is that? Two weeks away? And I only have about 5 things to put on my table! So the next two weeks will be jam packed with making, firing, assembling, polishing and pricing. Just like a real jewelry artist. Arrrggghhh! At least I do have a couple of concepts for what I'll be creating. I'm excited to have them leave the dark confines of my imagination and burst fully formed into the light of day.

I'd like to think that perhaps this truly last minute mess I've gotten myself into will help me to change my ways, but I fear that this old habit is too ingrained to allow me to just say no. Le sigh.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Re View

I hate it when I get on lists that I didn't sign up for. Whether it be jewelry, grocery or just plain spam related. And I have to admit to feeling an amount of annoyance when I received 3 books from Lark in the mail accompanied by a letter which asked to be notified of any reviews or blog postings. I have no experience with beading, which is what two of the books focused on, the third was Yvonne Padillo's new bronze clay book (an interesting read which I've donated to Catherine Davies Paetz's giveaway). I wrote to Lark to say that I thought I should be taken off their list as I don't usually do reviews on my blog. Then in the next two days, I received another two books. More annoyance. Until I looked at them.

Metalworking 101 for Beaders by Candie Cooper is a great book with a title that's too limiting. This is a wonderful introduction to traditional metalworking that would be more than useful for metal clayers, found object artists or anyone else who makes their own jewelry components. Metalworking 101 covers basic techniques such as stamping and marking; sawing, forming, finishes and polishing; a bit about soldering and even how to construct a simple loop in loop chain. It also has 29 classic projects that are easy to complete with basic tools, and make a big impact. I'm keeping this one in my own library.

I was also pleased to open an envelope that included Mixed Metal Jewelry Workshop by Mary Hettmansperger. There are quite a few projects that include metal clay - both silver and copper, many which relate how to fire metal clay with sheet metals or wire mesh. And of course there are also the wire wrap or rivet connected designs which are a staple in Mary Hett's repertoire. She covers hard metal techniques such as annealing metal, balling wire, using a rolling mill and forging. This one would be a valuable addition to your book wish list.

So, I guess the moral of this post is "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth"! You never know what a ride he'll take you on. Thanks after all Lark!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Weekend Eye Candy - RAD Early May Edition

I've been a busy bee this week. Getting ready for a great class called Allegory and Artifacts at The Beading Place in Tustin next weekend, writing the text to my next Master Muse tutorial and spending two happy days with my friend Amery Carriere in her studio.

She thought she was hiring me to help her out putting together a couple of large orders for her wholesale jewelry line, but really I was pumping her for information on how she runs her business! It was a win, win situation. Both of the wins were mine. I scored some nice pocket money and took a trip around the inside track. ;D And I got a cute idea for a pendant. Amery makes her jewels with the lost wax process and this is a wax design. Not that I couldn't do it in metal clay, but I'm stretching folks.

Have a nice weekend!