Friday, August 13, 2010

Mini Masterchef

I got a call from Daycare the other day saying that as of next week they want to move my son to the pre-kinder room. While we were talking the carer mentioned that he had invited everyone to the blue house (our house) and when asked what they would do there he replied "Bake cookies".

Most fridays I bake something with my son, often it is for a playdate, but other times it's just because. I figure by making our own cookies I have more control over ingredients, additives (the dreaded numbers) and can hide other healthy bits and pieces in them too. And aside from all that, it's a fun activity for both of us!

Today we made oat and coconut crisps. We decided to be a bit decadent and put a dark chocolate bud on each one.

The end result, ok they look like eggs! But they taste delicious!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Chase the sun

Last week I showed you my new frangipani earrings which were a precursor to a special order.

Today I am happy to be able to show you the main event so to speak.

I still find it incredibly difficult to capture the true beauty of such stones, I think they are much more fabulous in real life.

These frangipani earrings with claw set peony pink topaz are already on their way to a good home. But if you are interested in a custom creation of your own don't hesitate to contact me.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Techniques and Technicians - Enameling

I have been nurturing an idea of a series of posts exploring some of my favourite jewellery techniques and technicians.

Techniques: A practical method or art applied to some particular task

Technicians: Someone known for high skill in some intellectual or artistic technique

As a lover of all things colourful I thought a nice place to start would be enameling. Enameling is the art of fusing glass to metal, used in combination with other jewellery techniques the possibilities of enamel seem limitless. One of my favourite books on enamling is The Art of Enameling by Linda Darty.

Three of my fellow jewellery artists on Etsy who also have a love of enamel have kindly shared with me some info about their creative process using enamel.

Jewelry by Natsuko

I began making jewelry over 10 years ago. From bead stringing to pearl knotting, wire wrapping… I tried many different techniques. But it was always with beads that I bought from somewhere. I wanted make beads and focal myself. I wanted my jewelry to be truly *ME* So I took polymer clay class at local art center.

While it was fun to make stuff with polymer clay, I felt it really wasn’t for me. It’s just so hard to make finished product look nice & professional. So I moved onto enameling class and I was hooked! Why? I’d have say that because enameling gives you an instant graphication. And possibility of color combinations is endless.

I never run out of new color combination that I want to try. And because enameling is applied over metal, I can enjoy the shapes & texture of the metal too! Although you can do many things with enameling, my focus is to make jewelry. And now I am taking a metal smith class to seek new ways to incorporate my enamel pieces into jewelry.

The Sour Hour

Inna Peck : The Sour Hour : Reversible Enamel Jewelry

I am from Ukraine, and have a BA in Printmaking and Fiber Art. Having a background in printmaking and an interest in Jewelry and metalworking, I took a screen printing enamel class and the teacher really set me up with a good understanding of how to utilize processes and layering techniques to achieve a range of effects.

I am really new to glass, so I I am still trying to learn its capabilities and limitation through taking flame working and fusing classes. With my jewelry I try to use and layer patterns that reference traditional folk art designs but have a contemporary simplicity. I recently received two separate scholarships, one in engraving , and one in glass. I imagine that both of them will significantly change and improve my approach in the near future.

Currently my work is primarily opaque glass, but in the near future I hope to incorporate more engraving, transparent enamels and more complex shapes.

RMD jewellery

I discovered jewellery making a few years ago when my daughter started school, initially I was self taught in beaded jewellery making with a desire to move into metalworking. In 2008 I started attending workshops and weekend classes on silver smithing. In 2009 I attended a Goldsmith School in Brisbane one night a week and am currently continuing that training one full day at a Goldsmith School in Sydney since we moved here in Dec.

I discovered enamelling in Dec last year when I was looking at ways to add colour to my jewellery without the cost of stones, I was and still am, fairly hesitant to buy and set expensive stones as a beginner. I came across an article on torch firing enamel and found a great Aussie site that sold enamels in small quantities, enough for a trial of torch firing. I spent nearly 4 months testing and trialling torch firing enamels before successfully creating a gorgeously simple pair of drop earrings and from there the obsession began. A few months ago I purchased a microwave kiln which mimics the behaviour of a larger kiln but on a small scale.

I love working with metal and adding colour. Watching the enamels glow when they melt and seeing the lovely effects that can be achieved, each piece is an enigma and no matter how many times you work with a design or a colour, enamels always surprise you with their results. I love that, makes each piece, even the repeated designs, unique in their own way.

Aussie readers can check out Rachel's newer work at Shop Handmade in Canberra and Incub8r in Brisbane.

Thanks to Natsuko, Inna and Rachel for taking the time to share their enamel experiences with me, so that I could share them with you...

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The right light

Since opening my Etsy store I have gradually improved my photo technique using my little Canon point-and-shoot, some indirect natural light and either a sheet of pearly white card left over from making our wedding invitations, or a piece of wood from our wood shed.

But sometimes the light is just not right for photos, and I am so very impatient.

For some time the photos of my orange daisy patch earrings have bugged me. Well forever in fact. I finished them too late on a Sunday, and I just wanted to get them photographed and listed, otherwise it would be days before I'd get another opportunity. However I don't think my haste really did me or my earrings any favours, in fact I think it made the earrings look quite terrible. This is the original listing here:

So last weekend while photographing some new earrings I decided to re-do the orange daisy patch earrings to show them in a "better light". I expected them to come up much better, but even I was shocked by how much a reshoot has improved the whole look of this listing:

Perhaps next time I'll be more patient... But I wouldn't bet on it ;)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Taste of the tropics

I have a custom order for a pair of earrings. The brief was very broad, the customer chose the stones and said "make whatever you think will suit the stones". This sort of free reign is pretty rare, but I guess the reason she asked me to do this in the first place is because she likes my style of jewellery.

The stones in question are two beautiful vibrant peony pink topaz. The colours are warm and summery and made me think of my favourite flowers, the frangipani. So out came the sketch pad, and after a few scribbles a design began to emerge.

I transcribed my frangipani template onto the silver and started to pierce them out by hand. As you can see I am cutting out four frangipanis, two for my custom order and two as a pair of plain frangipanis to list in my store.

I left the 4 joined together at first as a larger piece is easier to work with. I punched guides which I would use for the drill holes, the guide marks guide the drill and stop it from skipping on the surface. As you can see from the photo where I am drilling, having the larger piece to work with is a much safer option, a small individual flower may come loose in my hand and spin up the drill bit or get thrown somewhere.

After drilling the holes I have to insert the saw blade individually into each hole of the template to cut out the inner sections. I am then ready to finish cutting each flower. Some imagination is still required here to envisage the finished earrings. I showed my son and asked if they looked like flowers and he said "nup!"

After smoothing up the edges and giving the surface an emery I stamped each earring 925 for sterling silver. At this point is was also important to invert two of the flowers in order to pair them up. Then I shaped the flowers by forging with a hammer and also tweaking with some tapered round pliers.

Finally it was time to insert the posts, which I had balled up the ends of and solder them in place. The the earrings were carefully cleanned up and annealed and rubbed back lightly with pumice a number of times to achieve a soft pearly white fine silver finish.

The frangipani studs are now available in my Etsy store.

Don't forget to come back next week to see the completed custom order frangipani earrings. And for my customer, I hope you enjoyed your sneak peak!