Friday, November 18, 2011

Etching Workshop

Today was an awesome etching workshop at Caroline's studio in Falls Church:

Thanks to (l to r): Sharon, Ellen, Caroline, Sandra and Odaybea for coming!! (and me, Dana!)

Odaybea etched her sterling silver cuff using a couple of PNP images which she ironed on, then she painted on a layer using an oil-based paint pen, and carved out some text. A scribe or the end of a file work great for carving out the resist.

Here is a progress shot of Odaybea's cuff.

Sandra created a sheet of images, with several layers of etched images- here 1/2 is done, 1/2 is in progress. Nail polish also makes a great resist. She used Rio Grande's new silver/brass bimetal- also known as silver filled. The possibility exists to etch through one side, revealing the alternate material. Gotta try that!

Ellen's etched pieces were created with PNP paper with the exception of the bottom right starburst which was created with a paint pen resist.

Ellen's Greek Gods turned out awesome.

Sharon's pieces were created with PNP paper. Can't you see some soldered-on stone settings in their future??

Dana's top right piece was created by utilizing nail stamps, bottom. The above left piece is a work-in-progress.

Dana's pieces using nail stamps and PNP paper.

Some recent work came in too! Here's a peek at Ellen's beautiful pieces- some still in progress.

Sharon's recent pieces are about to make their debut appearance in her NEW etsy shop- best of luck Sharon!!

I missed taking Caroline's etchings! Maybe we'll post them once they're all done- everyone send me photos of these pieces once you've used/finished them!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Meeting at the Ratner Museum

This is a pic of the Ratner Museum in Bethesda Maryland. Very nice! Ellen K's family owns this beautiful gem and we were lucky to get an "inside" tour!

Here we are in front: Mimi, Sharon, Bodil, Sandra, Karen, and Ellen K. (plus me, Dana)

Another great shot of us!

Ellen treated us to a overview of dentistry tools she uses in her profession but also in her metalsmithing!

Here we are meeting in the carriage house of the Ratner Museum.

The first floor of the Ratner Museum. A large square area that showcases 4 artists per month. The upper level is the work of Phillip Ratner.

Friday, June 10, 2011

June Meeting; Calendar Ideas

Dana, Ellen Y., and Jowita, with calendar pics all over the floor! (this and next 4 pics by Karen)

Caroline, Ellen, Sharon, Bodil and Dana.

Thanks so much to Karen for offering up her lovely home so we could gather, chat, eat and discuss ideas!Ellen K., Karen, Caroline, Ellen Y., Jowita, Bodil and Sharon (and me, Dana!) chatting and comparing jewelry pics...

Laying out photos of our work to see what we got.

Discussing monthly "themes" for our first calendar. Hopefully not our last! (Karen, Caroline, and Ellen K.)

Ellen Y. and Jowita.

Sharon and Bodil.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Jewelry as an excuse

When I'm not making jewelry (or raising a child or doing chores or hiding behind a book), I like to go antiquing. It's a bit of a sickness, actually. I feel antsy if I haven't done it in awhile. Pathetic, right? So I decided to come up with a good excuse to go out antiquing every now and then: using antiques in jewelry. I specifically like old signs, graphics and advertisements, so I'm often drawn to old packaging and tins. I have a decent stash of items now, including these guys:

Currently, I'm figuring out how to use them in my work. I obviously mean for most of these pieces to be fun and tongue-in-cheek -- anti-midge cream! -- but I think it's possible for jewelry that incorporates these tins to be lovely. Exhibit A:

I found two old orange juice cans that have wonderful color and graphics. I've already cut one apart and started marking it up with my Sharpie. I have a rectangle and oval or two in there, but as you can see I've mostly marked circles. Yes, that means the dapping block is coming out. I saw a pair of earrings that gave me my first idea on how to use the cut-up juice tins, dapped to a concave shape, in a "pretty" way. I'll post them when I finish.

Do any of you marry another love with metalsmithing? I'd like to hear about it. Especially since I'm already plotting how to involve yet another love of mine: letterpress printing.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

On the "Drawing Board"- What's on Yours??

This week I'm trying to make a couple of things, since I went to the gem show this weekend and bought some new goodies. I have a lot of stones. I don't need anymore for a while. But, it's nice to have new things.This will be a pair of post earrings featuring a matched set of amazonite stones and the last of some square fire opal. I love using things up and thus clearing out space for something new in my stone box. Square stones are killer when it comes to creating bezels- not my favorite. Probably that's why I've had them for a few years! But if I get all the bezels made today, then tomorrow I can solder, set and polish. We'll see....!

And here are the finished earrings:

What's on your "drawing board?"

Friday, May 20, 2011

May Meeting

Here we all are in our gorgeousness (l to r): Karen, Ellen, Sharon, Mimi, Jovita, and Bodil (and me, Dana, taking the pic!)

Today's meeting was great- sitting around the kitchen table at Bodil's house eating, drinking and chatting! AND looking at everyone's jewelry! We talked about creating a calendar for us Ladysmiths of our work- a portfolio of sorts, and it will be created for our own use or to give away. Fun!

See everyone next time!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Next Get-Together

See everyone at Bodil's house next Friday for a meeting to chat, look at recent work, and hang out. Hope you can make it! Email me for more info...

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mokume Gane Ring

This is a ring I made today for my mom, to give to her on Sunday for Mother's Day. Her birthstone is sapphire, and this is a 7 mm stone I'd bought last year for this purpose. She likes jewelry that is small and delicate, whereas I prefer bolder jewelry. I hope mom will like it! This was as small and delicate as I like to go!

The construction was straightforward, but since I was using a piece of 20 ga. mokume gane ("woodgrain" in Korean) of silver and copper, I was sure to make a template of my piece in copper first to make sure of the pattern I wanted. Mokume gane is a bit pricey, but you use small amounts of it at a time so it's not so bad. After sawing out the shape, I soldered the ends of the ring together. This is where things got funky! When I began soldering the seam closed, the seam actually opened up the hotter it got. Then when it cooled back down, the seam came together again. WEIRD! I figured it was part of the properties of this mixed metal. I actually had to use 2 sets of tweezers to hold the seam together, with the torch free-standing and the solder snippet carefully balanced on top of the seam. That "seamed" to work and when I soldered on the setting for the stone, nothing unusual happened.

I used liver of sulfur (LOS) to give the piece a patina. The problem with LOS is that it also darkens the silver. There is a solution called Baldwin's Patina (sold by Rio) that I need to buy! It only reacts with the copper and darkens that part. Once my mom tries it on, I will see if I need to re-size it, and if so then I will bang the back on a mandrel to stretch out the metal. I will also re-patina it with Baldwin's. That will really bring out the pattern and it will not look so funky as it does now.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Poor Man's Julie Shaw

This is a necklace I put together this week using a pendant I'd made. I've always liked the way opals and peacock grey pearls look together. I made an s-clasp and put on a length of chain so it could be adjustable.

It was inspired by a ring by Julie Shaw (see below right). I love how she uses the mixture of stones, gold, and liver of sulfur on silver, to bring out the most amazing colors. You could say mine is a poor man's version! I used a silver-copper sandwich slice instead of gold, and textured the other side of the setting with punches, much as she does. I did use liver of sulfur, but I dulled it a bit because I didn't want it to blend in too much with the color of the pearls.

You can find more of her beautiful designs at

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Student Work

This was a project completed by one of my students, Barbara, at the Lorton Workhouse. She is an artist-type, dabbling in this 'n that. She thought she'd try traditional metalsmithing, as she had just taken an enjoyable seminar or two with Carol Hamilton, also at the Workhouse, learning about metal clay.

She started to lose her hearing in her 30's, and hence now wears hearing aids. She wanted to create a pair of hearing aid guards, so when she went outside on windy days, her aids would not be howling from the onslaught of wind and air. They were to be functional, but also beautiful. She worked on creating templates of the earpiece, and then cut out, filed, sanded, and domed the sheet silver. Next she created coils in silver twist-wire, and after many soldering operations, soldered on these coils to the sheet silver. They are reminiscent of the ear, aren't they? She used a brass brush (leftover from her silver clay class) to burnish them, and then folded the wire around her ear; one left long enough to attach back up the front of the earguard.

Here's a picture of Barbara modeling her hearing aid guards. I was so struck by how elegant, personal and meaningful this project was to her. This was not an easy project- it took her many hours of forming, soldering, melting (oops) re-doing, etc... before she "got it", but she didn't give up. They're so chic, industrial, organic, and eye-catching, aren't they??

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

More tips on photographing work

I like to flip through Metal Clay Artist Magazine -- despite never having worked in metal clay -- because I get some good ideas from it. The current issue (Vol. 2, Issue #2) has an extra goody, a long article on jewelry photography. It made me realize that depth of field might be the cause of my focus issues. The article's not just about the camera; it gets into jewelry placement, backgrounds and props, etc. It's worth checking out if a bookstore near you carries it.


Friday, April 15, 2011

New Technique

I got this pretty oval-shaped Mexican opal from the Tucson shows this year- it's quite high and I was brainstorming what to do about the setting. I decided to make a masonite die for my newish hydraulic press by using a jeweler's saw to cut out appropriate sized-ovals. The interior oval needed to remain flat and large enough in order to have the stone's bezel soldered to it. The outer oval I sized aesthetically and then glued the pieces of 1/2" masonite to a larger thinner piece of masonite with epoxy. I let it cure overnight. I pressed the form in silver, cut it out, and then soldered a plain bezel around it to create the look of it being thick; in reality it's hollow with another piece of sheet at the bottom. I soldered on the stone bezel, and the ring shank, and did a lot of hand finishing and then shined it up on my electric polishing arbor with tripoli. I need to do some experimenting with polishing compounds, but that's another post... I think it has a bit of an old Mexican vintage feel to it- perfect with the opal. I'm going to try some more pieces using handmade dies in the press- it was exciting to try something new.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Big benefits from social networking

I know, I know --the phrase "social networking" sets your teeth on edge. But before you dismiss this post, hear me out. I'm a semi-Luddite. I own a little pay-as-you-go cell phone that gets turned on maybe once a week. I'm typing this on a computer that only has a dual 512K processor. I don't embrace technology unless it REALLY does something for me. But over the past two weeks, I've gotten two commissions and made two sales via Facebook. Considering that I don't have an Etsy store (or even an actual business) to advertise yet, I think that's pretty good.

So why am I on Facebook? In my pre-child life, I was a newspaper editor. Journalists tend to move a lot and be friends mostly with other journalists (thanks to weird hours), so I have friends scattered all over the world. We've found that Facebook is the best way to stay in touch -- everyone knows what revolution you've been sent to cover with one quick post. And we share all the other life news there, too. So as I learned metalsmithing last year, I posted pictures there. I'd get positive comments with each picture. But this year, something changed. Maybe it's my skill level, maybe people are feeling more secure financially, but suddenly requests are coming at me. High school friends, former colleagues, old friends of my husband that I've never met -- all have requested or bought jewelry from me this year.

I'm pleased with the advertising my Facebook page has been doing for me. I'm no longer worried that my Etsy store will just sit there, ignored, when I do open it. The one problem I have is that I'm not getting to said store because I'm doing so much request work. Which I'm OK with right now -- at least Facebook isn't charging me for each post and sale. So if you aren't on Facebook -- or Flickr, or Ibibo, or whatever else has cropped up in the last two minutes -- I recommend it. It's one more way to get your work out there. (And feel free to friend me on Facebook, fellow Ladysmiths: I'm Sharon Olson Moores in Woodbridge.)


Monday, April 11, 2011

Was in my Studio Zone today

Made these two rings both from start to felt great to work so hard and enjoy the sun while taking photos...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Call for Entries

Call for entries- non-precious materials- check it out:

Started and finished today...more ring action

Poppy Ring in Sterling Silver with 18k Yellow Gold granules
I started this from scratch this morning and really zoned out of all of my stress and into the beauty of creating this ring.
(yes Sandra, I used LOS, I can't go to the gym unless I shower!)
I took around 100 photos and am happy with the few I chose for my etsy shop display.
What's everyone up to? (I think this weather is crazy...almost as crazy as congress!)
it's me...Care--- Hi!!!!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Trickier than it looks

I finally finished a new piece -- a massive lava stone ring. It looks like a very simple setting, but I decided to jazz it up two ways. First, I perforated the ring band to mimic the lava. I thought it'd be easy, but it took some work to make sure several of the holes didn't look like perfect circles. Second, I decided to cut out part of the backplate so you can see through some of the lava holes. However, I needed to leave enough support for the wide shank. After thinking it through a little, I ended up with a speedometer-shaped cutout. That shape allowed me to expose the best through-holes, but also left room for the shank.

Left picture shows the shank and cutout; right one shows how the cutout works with the holes:

I love making work more difficult for myself! :-)


Monday, April 4, 2011

Work In Progress

I'm getting my Latin on...feeling my muse...
(it's me, Care)HI!!!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Photoshop Get-Together

This was our small group gathered today for a Photoshop free-for-all: l to r: Ellen, Mimi, Peggy and Ellen. (and myself as photographer, Dana) (and yes, I did photoshop this image....)

We met in Ellen's GORGEOUS art-filled home and were treated to juice, coffee, bagels and gingerbread cake. Yum. We went over the basics of Adobe Photoshop- just the basics: cropping, color balance, sharpening, eyedropper/fill to eliminate support pieces or background noise. Feel free to download a copy for free, for 30 days, from

See everyone next time! Thanks again, Ellen!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Hope everyone can come to the meeting on Thursday at Ellen's house in Alexandria (directions will be sent later today....)

Be sure to email me some photos to get "photoshopped"!!

:) Dana

Monday, March 21, 2011

Working on photography

Yesterday, my husband showed me how to use the goodies -- timer, manual settings -- on our point-and-shoot. I decided to play with it and the lightbox today to see if I took better pictures after his tutorial and our last meeting. Based on my old photos, there's improvement. I don't have Photoshop or the like, so these pictures haven't been manipulated.

Old necklace photo on left; new necklace photo on right:

I obviously still need to work on glare, but I successfully cut down on it in the new photo. The silver isn't blown out this time. I also need to work on focusing better. It looks like the granulation at the bottom of the opal pendant is a bit blurry in the new picture. Focus also is an issue in the next series:

Old ring photo on left; new ring photo on right:

Better focus, but not perfect. So I'll work on that. (Do I need to pull back some? Am I abusing the macro setting?) I seem to have tamed the glare much better in the new photo. I have to admit I'm not sure what exactly I did with the lights. I was constantly fiddling with them -- moving them, tilting them, draping things over them to diffuse the light more. Taking notes after every single picture seemed laborious and I didn't do it. However, maybe I should reconsider until I have the process down.

Photography is a complete mystery to me, so I'm glad I see progress. Getting tools like a lightbox has helped. I need to learn more about the camera itself to deal with some of my issues. But I'm pleased so far. I wouldn't be embarrassed to post these new photos on Etsy, and that's my main photographic goal.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Experimental Ring

Busy week again- only got this one project done. I did get some stones cut and polished this week, though. Early in the week I cut/polished this Australian opal from rough I have had around for a while. It has some pretty green-ish fiery stripes. I fabricated the round tube it sits on, plus soldered in a round wire seat. I also soldered on a back plate to make soldering the mesh shank on easier.

The experimental part was the "prongs". I had made a sandwich of 24 gauge copper and sterling silver sheet a number of years ago. I sawed a slice of it, cut that in half, and soldered each piece to each side of the setting. Then I tightly clamped them down to hold the stone. The stone was still a bit loose, so I rotated it a bit and that did the trick. Experimental because I don't know how it will age and wear. Only 2 prongs, but they are wide. I didn't want to use any glue.

I don't have a lot of experience with prong settings- I much prefer bezels. Anyone out there who has a lot of experience with prongs and knows what they're doing?