Sunday, February 27, 2011

Keum Boo Earrings

I made these earrings (a tad under 1" wide) in part to demonstrate keum-boo to my students at the Lorton Workhouse. They loved the technique and I liked how the earrings came out. The ovals were traced onto sterling sheet from a plastic template (of which I have a dozen or more- very helpful for getting 2 earrings EXACTLY the same size) and then I edged them in brass square wire (to pick up the gold color from the keum-boo foil) and with a sterling round wire inset. I like the detail this framing gives them. I used some small but fiery opals- one cracked as I set it because it was so thin- yikes! Fortunately I had more! I like the earwire attachments, and they oxidized in liver of sulfur nicely too. The earring on the left I screwed up a bit on- I layered 3 triangles of gold foil in the center, but one got misplaced as I set it and stuck instantly as the earring was already laying on the hot plate (note to self- set the foil BEFORE setting piece on hot plate). So you can see especially on the bottom how there are 2 points. Ah well- handmade, right? ;) Dana

Friday, February 25, 2011

Gold Bangle for Customer

Just finished this custom piece. Melted old gold and shaped into 12 gauge wire (that took a long time), made the bezels, and set the pink tourmalines. I'm pleased with the look and know my customer will be also. She is very specific about what she wants and is a great designer. I've made about 6 other pieces for her during the past couple of years. A fun and challenging project!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Staying Busy

and keeping the color alive in my home studio during these cold days...these are all at different areas of progression...
(it's me Care)

I'm enjoying the feel of  the saw as it easily makes its way through metal, and around bends and curves...must be a tactile thing.

Friday, February 18, 2011

New Earrings Done

These long earrings took me 3 sessions to complete. I got the idea from some curtains in my house! I like how they turned out. I had to re-do one of the prehnite bezels because when I was soldering on the goldfilled hook, the bezel melted- oops! The bezels for the opals took a while to make and put some gouges in my fingertips- so small! I like the small detailed work against the smooth expanse of the stones. I also like the mixed-metal look. They're long- 2-1/4" without earwire, and weigh 8 grams each (a nickel is 5 grams). I'd had the stones for over a year and finally thought of a way to put them to good use.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Earring Challenge

I am loving these design challenges! here's the latest:

Each of us was given an 8" strip of off-white, 1" wide aluminum (e.g. Levelor) window blinds. Like the second of the above photos.

The assignment: make a pair of earrings, using all of the material. Other metals, plastic, and color were permissible additions but nothing else. I decided to add sterling silver spacers and earwires but no color (I could use some white earrings) and no plastic. The first photo (above) is what I came up with.

Made this Yesterday

it's funny how life gets in the way of work, just getting photos of it this morning and listing it later...what do you ladies think  of it sitting atop a druzy which is on a vintage map? I think it might be too much...(yes real opinions please) Going to list it, but not on the druzy, but oh if you could hold and see how brilliant the purple druzy is you'd put a fresh made ring on top too! (I think you would) Lately I've been craving color, so I've been making more stone set items and less kinetic ones.
(it's me, Care) :-)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Inexpensive tabletop lights

I've been trolling around the Internet looking for inexpensive lights like the ones Dana brought to the Ladysmiths meeting last week. She has a nice set of tabletop tripod lamps with wide shades that accommodate daylight-balance fluorescent trumpet bulbs, but she couldn't remember where she got them. I found a good source: CowboyStudio. Their products get good reviews and their prices are terrific. You can go to their website, but the prices there are more expensive than the prices at their Amazon store. I just ordered a 2-light kit (2 30-watt 5000K daylight CFL bulbs, 2 mini light stands, and 2 aluminum reflectors with sockets) for $39.49 plus $7.99 shipping (on their site, $49.63 plus shipping). At that price, it's a great accessory for your homemade light box.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Lightbox/Photography Get-Together

February's meeting was at Caroline's house and we started by laying some pictures of our work on a table and talking briefly about some issues we were currently having with photography. We then moved right in to setting up a prototype PVC lightbox frame and making a bunch of them at our own desired sizes.

This was the prototype I constructed at home and brought to the meeting. (See link for instructions to make your own PVC lightbox) I bought a cheap pillowcase and cut it so it opened to be a long skinny piece of fabric to diffuse the lights. ** Make sure you use daylight spectrum bulbs. Incandescent bulbs are too yellow. Lights should be positioned in front and on the sides of the object. A third light could be used on top. Photographing silver can be problematic due to it's inherent mirror-like quality. Sometimes using less light is better! Opals can also be tricky- I've found less light is best, with a smaller less-intense light in the front to bring out the fire.

In order to hang earrings on a rod, use 2 equal lengths of chain hung on the frame and then insert a dowel (I painted it black in the center with a Sharpie!) between them. Voila! To hang a necklace, adapt this to possibly include clips or some other attachment/hanging device.

This ring was photographed in the PVC lightbox, above. Any camera with a macro lens will work. Odaybea's camera was SO NICE (see last posting) and took much better pictures than my cheapie camera! But good results can be had with any camera! See link for background paper sources. The smaller graduated paper can be used for a smaller lightbox. Larger pieces for larger lightboxes- ideal for large necklaces that need to be laid out. This background paper (grey to black) is very matte and absorbs light, so there's no distracting reflections. Be on the lookout for dust.

This is Sandra's lightbox frame (upside down) after cutting pipe lengths and inserting connectors. Notice the T-shaped connectors are all facing inwards, then the corner connectors attach into the ends of the T's. It's best to construct it upside down, doing the top first, before adding the legs.

This is a close-up of Sharon's ring taken in the lightbox at Caroline's house with my cheapie camera. Good detail and diffused light quality. Sometimes placing your hand in an appropriate position can help eliminate "hot-spots" (as seen on upper right of ring). Using a camera tripod can free up your hands to do the appropriate amount of "blocking" necessary.

Sandra's fold-formed leaf earrings hung on a dowel rod in the lightbox.

Next meeting- how to get from photo shoot to Photoshop!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Trumpet light bulbs

Here is a link to where you can buy the trumpet light bulbs...

Photos from Friday

It was wonderful to meet all of you! As promised, here are the photos I took...

"Secret" scone recipe

Good Morning,
I had a really nice morning with all of you at Carolyn's yesterday...and as always..learned a lot of great new stuff!! Several of you mentioned that you enjoyed the scones and requested the recipe. As I had said they were "semi-homemade"....aka: I baked them...I will share with you all my secret resource for delicious baked goods made quick > Sticky Fingers Bakery > they are all natural mixes, no preservatives, artificial anything or trans fat. I have made both the Apple-cinnamon (we had yesterday) and the pumpkin-cranberry is delicious as well. I purchase at Tastefully Yours in Occoquan town, but you can purchase from this site as well. They are good to keep in the pantry :)
Hope to see you all again next month!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Fun with Enamel

I'm taking Abby's Enameling class at the Art League this term, and have been having a blast. We're learning cloisonne techniques which is really interesting, but I'm also just having fun and laying some color down on metal to see what happens. Even the simplest things are making me giddy, and every week I have to fight down the urge to order a KILN!

I have done torch fired enameling from time to time, which is really fun and easy -- with the added benefit of instant gratification. I've always had in my mind a picture of a series of enamel tiles like quilt squares, and I took this class as the opportunity to explore this concept.

I started with a simple sketch of how I might want my finished piece to look. I chose a pinwheel pattern, which is also the first kind of quilt (and ONLY kind of quilt!) I've ever made. Next up, blank copper piece, cleaned it well and drilled in holes for easy hanging as a pendant later. Then I laid down a base color on both sides.

Next, I cut my thin fine silver cloisonne wires and laid them in the pattern. I didn't bother any measuring, so my pendant is not nearly so rigidly squarish -- already going astray from my sketch, which was fine by me!

Then I started laying in the colored enamels. The red is opaque, and I just piled it in willy nilly. The other areas, in between the reds are transparents - gray near the middle, bluish turquoise near the outside. These I brushed on little by little, firing in between each application.

This is how far my pendant has come - I'll be working on it some more next week!

I've also been fiddling around a lot - just playing and experimenting.

I can't remember the name for this, but it is a really cool word. A layer of enamel goes down (usually counter, or leftover enamel because the color doesn't matter). Then you pile on some scrap silver, and fire the heck out of it all. As far as I understand (and I may be getting this all wrong) the oxides from the base copper come up through the enamel, the sterling mixes with the oxides and the enamel, and it all turns into this lovely messy disorganized awesomeness. Seriously, it looks like the terrain of a strange new planet. After it does it's magic in the kiln, it needs a quick buff with a brass wheel to bring out the gloss and green tinge.

I've also just been laying down some color - opaque and transparent alike.

This piece started as a dark blue torch fired enamel copper circle. I pulled it out of my little sample bin and started painting more enamel on top. I was thinking of the upcoming spring equinox as I played. The spring equinox (which will be on march 20th this year) marks when the sun comes directly over the equator and there will be equal daylight hours and nighttime hours -- which means the daylight hours will start to become longer as we head out of winter (YAY).

That's it for me - I'll post again with the rest of my enameling progress, so stay tuned :)

Amy from

New Project In Progress

Here is one of my latest projects: a Sea Glass Bracelet. At this point all thirteen pieces have bezels ready. Now I need to solder little loops on each one so they can be joined. This will be a gift for a good friend of mine, who collected every piece from beaches on Martha's Vineyard.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Art A Day

This has me inspired to finsih them...pickle is heating and I've got my lil vintage apron on, slippers, and jammie bottoms rolled up :-) (it's me Care, can't wait till tomorrow)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


I made and finished these...(it's me Care)

Monday, February 7, 2011

here's the missing picture.

So I'm an idiot. Couldn't figure out how to edit the earlier post to include this. here it is.

First Projects with New Stones from Tucson

I couldn't wait to create some new things from my new collection of cabs bought at Tucson:

I bought a few heart-shaped turquoise cabs (just in time for Valentines' Day...) and set one into a ring with rope trim (took forever to form perfectly around the heart) and flexible mesh band. I love all the texture.

I used half-round trim around the edges of these earrings. I like them but I wish I'd gotten the trim a bit tighter to the bezel. Off to start my next project....

Another Design Challenge

This is Gretchen Raber's latest challenge: make a necklace out of a manilla file folder, use all the material and make it 3D. Here's my solution. done in a big rush last night and so very imprecise and definitely WEIRD but I think it has possibilities! (what if I could afford to do it in high karat gold??)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Back from Tucson

Hi Ladies! I don't mean to invoke jealous rages, but I just returned from Tucson and the gem shows and THOROUGHLY enjoyed myself! Of course, spending lots of money will do that! I bought lots of cabochons and some rough for cabbing, but my FAVORITE purchase were these small faceted opal beads from a dealer direct from Australia. I only paid $200, which I thought was a deal, considering Opex Opal was selling something similar for 5 times that price.

They're pretty small, but they have great color and I am looking forward to wearing them! Maybe I'll wear these for a while, sell them in the Fall and then buy myself a BIGGER strand next year??

I'm not spending ANY more money on gems- at least this year! :) Dana

Friday, February 4, 2011


Hi, all. I've only been metalsmithing for a year. I've learned a lot in that time, thanks to Dana's classes and the rest of you in Ladysmiths. Yesterday I finished a ring that my mother-in-law requested -- a copy of the very first ring I made, finished in February 2010. I was amused by the results and took pictures of the two side by side. My mother-in-law's ring is the one on the left; my original ring is the one on the right.

The rings are simple, and perhaps the differences are simple, too. But it made me happy to notice the improvements in the new ring: The cuts and filing are cleaner, the design's shapes are more consistent, and the width is one that will allow the wearer to close her fingers (not easy to do with the original ring). So, yeah, I'm still a novice -- the ring on the left is the second attempt, since I made a sawing mistake on the original sheet of metal and had to put it aside. But it was nice to see a "carbon copy" of my work and literally see that I'm getting cleaner and better. Thanks to all you ladies for inspiring me!

(And, as you can see, I'm eagerly awaiting photographing tips on the 11th. See you then.)


Thursday, February 3, 2011

In The Pickle and Out of the Pickle

and I'm using vinegar this time around, and boy does it stink to high heaven! Maybe I should be diluting it with water?

Got a window open and it's not TOO cold out today...

Started these this morning, taking a little break and praying the other bezel is doing fine in the pickle, no surprises when I remove it, (ya'll know what I mean) (it's me Care...)

Finished product (where isss everyone?)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I Made This Today

What are you ladies doing? (really digging using vintage atlas pages for my background, I like it SO much more than the red I've been using for the past few years...(it's me Care, from AutumnLeavesJewelry) hi hi HI