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?

The Fastest Shortcut of All

This is a exerpt from the latest WGG newsletter. I like it so much that I keep it on my desk to read on a daily basis.

"The fastest way to do anything is to do it right the first time. Building jewelry should not be a race against time, but a journey toward quality. So slow down, check your work right from the start and all along the way, and remember: What is most important is that every piece you make represents your very best efforts." -Alan Revere

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

New Ring

I had my grandmother in mind when I designed this. I wear her old pendant often (she wore it so many days). I just need to finish up a little work on it before I list it but I was so excited to get some photos of the new next to the old. I was thinking of keeping it and luckily it doesn't fit my largest finger. Little more bezel refining and shining up and then I'll list it. This has taken about 2 sittings to complete, so I guess it will take 3 sittings considering it's not done to my satisfaction yet :-)

I miss my grandmother all the time, she was so lovely. (hi it's me Care)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Mosaic Earrings done this week

This was a busy week and I only managed to get these one pair of earrings made. I started by randomly cutting a length of 14 gauge square wire, then I measured it carefully and cut it exactly in half. I then soldered the ends of each together, and started forming one loop into this modified-teardrop shape. I really didn't know what I'd get until I started working on it. Everything was design-as-you-go. After I was happy with one shape, I manipulated the other one to exactly mirror the first. I finished up the soldering by soldering on a backplate, trimming it, then soldered on the back a wire which had 3 loops in the bottom and extended past the top and became the earwire. I knew I wanted to dangle some beads, not sure which, but it turned out to be a large teardrop so I knew I didn't want to add any bezel-set stones, because of the size and weight limitations earrings impose. I then decided on the rubies and decided on a color scheme by grouping containers of seed beads together until I liked the combination of colors. Then I dove in and created the border of the mosaic, then filled it in, one line at a time, one earring after the other, until it was filled. I decided on a brown grout, and wired the beads on, and it was done. Pretty random, but I'm happy with how they turned out. Sometimes when I make things, I have a plan, sometimes I leave it up to do-it-as-you-go.

How do the rest of you design a piece?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Made Another Piece This Week

This was originally going to be a pair of earrings, but the stones seemed too heavy and I came up with a very simple high seated stone ring.
This is Sugilite, has anyone else worked wih it? I love it. Just did a little research on Wikipedia and found out the G is pronounced silent, named after a Japanese man who discovered this stone in the 1940's

Here's my ring (it's me Care!)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Lovely Earrings

These were made 2 days ago, and finished this morning at around 3am when I couldn't go back to sleep. I'm falling hard for these agate cabachons lately. These are from Turkey...the wait for delivery was well worth it. I gave them a simple setting, they are not exactly the same, I imagine they were hard to cut to get the same exact edging? Either way  I love them. The cabs were sold and bought as a pair and I did manage to pull them off as earrings. I love the depth of plume and colors inside each. (it's me, Care, hi!)