Monday, February 26, 2007

Flower Power & Earthbound Joy

I made a bunch of rings this morning and put this "Flower Weave" bracelet together after the rings had tumbled for a few hours. I got a little carried away, as I often do when I'm weaving rings, and made it a little bigger than I had intended. Too big for my little wrists, but at 7.5" it'll be fine for the average wrist. I make tidy little earrings to go with this weave .. they're up for Tuesday. They're made up of two sets of those three-ring "flower" segments and two sets of the double rings that connect them. I hang them from a simple French wire.

While I was waiting for the rings to tumble, I walked the dog and made a couple of these bracelets. Sometimes the name for a piece comes to me while I'm assembling the stones .. other times the piece sets on my bench for a while before a name will occur to me. Other times I get impatient, as I did with this piece, and open a Healing with Crystals book that a friend gave to me. Usually, just looking up the properties of any given stone will start the cogs turnin'. Smoky quartz (and these faceted stones are a particularly dark and rich example) has the quality of helping to focus energy internally. "Smoky quartz , with its quiet, calming energy is an effective grounding stone." Who knew. And when I turned to the page on Turquoise, right at the top of the page in bold letters is "Joy and the immune system." It goes on to explain that "Activating and strengthening the body's own defences (sic) naturally improves quality of life, bringing an increased sense of optimism and happiness. Both turquoise and aquamarine can be used for this purpose." So ... grounding + happiness = Earthbound Joy!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

A couple PMC pieces ..

These are two of the items I posted earlier as unfinished clay pieces .. the leaf was molded from an actual leaf I picked in the three-acre field where we allow the dog to run free (and hopefully "run down"). When I first oxidized it, it showed the most spectacular rainbow of colors .. I'm lead to believe that this is due to the minerals in our tap water. I made the mistake of trying to shine it up a bit, and the rainbow went away. That's the way of rainbows, I guess.

The earrings are three-way .. the fine silver centerpiece has a hole through the center. That 4mm ball with the aqua briolette hanging from it is actually a separate post earring that fits through the center hole. You can wear the fine silver piece as is, without the post, or wear the post solo. They're suspended from a handmade French wire.

We're in!

Well, there's still some work to be done, but this is the basic set-up after we finished on Wed., the 21st. That's me, smack dab in the middle! Not my idea, my associates suggested it. The light hits it midday so that the jewelry in the case just lights up!

We have plans to put a small carpet in there as well as a rustic chair or bench. We also intend to replace the black lattice "walls", that separate our space with those on either side, with hanging burlap. And our resident artist, who at one time owned her own gallery, will add some of her work as well as a more experienced touch with the overall look.

We've made arrangements with the gallery owner for an official "Grand Opening" on May 20 .. we thought we'd wait till the weather was nicer. As many of us who can, will, be there that day. I'll most likely post a reminder as the Grand Opening nears.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Gallery Display Case

Well, it looks a whole lot better on my laptop monitor, but you get the idea. I cleaned and tagged it all last night and hope to add a couple of those Precious Metal Clay pieces .. if I can get them cleaned up and finished today.

The case is an inexpensive pine box; and I was afraid it LOOKED cheap. But the addition of the linen covered carpet remnant on which everything sets helped a great deal. Though when I glued the remaining linen fabric onto floral foam segments, it made it all look so much more three dimensional.

I have some small pine cones and some dried flower segments I thought I might add in here and there. Or maybe not. We'll see how it goes and what the rest of our area looks like before I go crazy with additional extras. It may be fine just the way it is (sometimes less really is more).

Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Shops at 25 West

I seem to be on a roll today .. no sooner finished the last post and an email arrived asking about this gallery in Little Falls. It's actually called The Shops at 25 West, and it's all housed in an 1855 Stone Mill building on the edge of the Mohawk River. The entire first floor is occupied by antique dealers; the second floor contains about 30 spaces for individual shops. The pic above is what our space looks like at the moment. This was taken last fall when four of us took a trip down to see what the place looked like. We were courted by the owner, Linda Vincent (standing by the window), last summer when she saw our website. Her goal is to fill the spaces on the second floor with high quality, hand crafted artisan crafts (of which we all provide fine examples, thank you). I'm behind the camera here, but the other three who went down that day are on the right (excluding the woman in the pink outfit), Lisa Nortz (silversmith), Lis Barsuglia-Madsen (weaver) and Marcia Waligory (Adirondack pack baskets).

The display devices currently residing in the space are available for our use .. we may or may not need them. When we head down on the 21st, we'll have a van and pick-up truck to carry all our own display devices and inventory. I don't know if we'll be able to complete set up on the 21st, but if it looks halfway decent, I'll take another pic for ya .. at the very least, I'll take a shot of MY little table top display! I joke, but I feel very fortunate to be one among such a talented group. Each and every one is a stickler for perfection. A group after my own heart.

PMC Progress

A couple friends have asked about the process I go through when making a piece with Precious Metal Clay (PMC), so I took a shot of a few pieces on which I'm currently working. The three sets of items on the left are made with Standard PMC (also called Original) .. it's water content is a bit higher than PMC+ or PMC3; and so once fired, these pieces will shrink about 28% (which makes my head spin when I'm trying to think about how large or small I want the piece to be once fired). I've been working on these items with files and consecutively finer sanding papers, which is why they look a little more "finished". I had to repair a break in the leaf, and so have a bit more sanding to do on it before putting them all in the kiln. Original PMC gets to bake at 1650 degrees for a couple hours. The two sets of items at the top will be earrings, the leaf a pendant.

The rougher-looking pieces on the right are impressed with a design and then hand cut from PMC3. I haven't yet done anything to them but impress and cut them. I have a warming plate on which just-cut pieces set to dry .. doesn't take very long this way. If there's any moisture left in a piece when put in the kiln, it will crack. Occasionally, I'll just let them dry naturally for a day or two. If you don't keep an eye on them while they're drying on the warming plate, they may curl up on you. A problem that can be fixed in a couple different ways .. but it's better not to have the problem.

The PMC3 pieces are slated for a bracelet. The piece with an additional hole in the center will be one part of a toggle clasp. I haven't yet cut the bar that will go through it. Since PMC3 has less water content, it dries out a lot faster while you're working with it .. you really have to know exactly what you're going to do, have all your tools and devices out and ready to grab, and get down to it .. quickly. I just wasn't quick enough to get that last piece cut .. as it was, the remaining PMC3 scraps were beginning to crack. I added some moisture to the mass of scrap, massaged it a bit between a piece of plastic wrap, and shut it up tight in it's original zip bag (and then put THAT into a glass jar with the lid on tight). Hope to get back to it today .. the PMC3 scraps should be a bit more pliable now after a day or so of "moisture management".

Additionally, I'll have to enlarge the holes a bit .. wasn't thinking when I made them. If the holes are not large enough, the 20 or 18 gauge wire with which I hope to connect the segments won't fit through. Easier to enlarge holes in this stage, when they're still just dried clay. I could also do it once the pieces are fired, but it's a lot more work to enlarge holes in fine silver than in dried clay! I'll also need to tidy up all the edges .. you can also see from the pic that a couple of the pieces did indeed curl up a little on the corners. I'll have to address that once they're fired. It won't be too much work to straighten them out with a rawhide hammer .. fine silver is usually pretty soft. It's difficult to see from the pic (I set up the camera real quick), but the impression came from a rubber stamp full of musical staves and notes. Upon reflection (hind sight is a wonderful thing), I probably should have cut the pieces on the diagonal .. for more visual interest. But it'll be fine ... next time perhaps. Maybe for a matching pendant!!

Sparkle on

I finally sat down and pounded out nine new versions of Sparkle .. from top to bottom: Dark gray pearls with Cantaloupe color-changing crystals (depending upon the light source, they'll change from peach to melon green to a soft gray lavender; Tahitian pearl with Satin Aqua crystals; Bronze pearl with peach crystals; Green pearls with Satin Jonquil crystals; and Dark brown pearls witih Lt. Colorado Topaz crystals.

I and several of my Artisan Guild friends (see links) are renting space at a gallery in Little Falls (25 West), and several of these bracelets are heading down on Wednesday the 21st, along with a fair selection of other pieces.

We're tenants officially on March first, but we have a lot of work to do in setting up our area. Since we're the Adirondack Artisans Guild, we were planning on suspending a branch or two from the ceiling .. and I imagine there will be a few pine cones scattered about. I know I found a few over in the area where we let the dog romp that are the perfect size for the 2' square table top display case I'll be using there (as the case is only three inches high, I had to find really small examples). One of our group used to own a gallery and will be our guiding force with regard to the space's overall look. With so many "cooks in the pot", she's got her work cut out for her!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Beaded Band

I always get comments when I wear one of these, and I would love to be able to make a bunch of them. However, it's been difficult finding the components without going to wholesale bead shows and picking them out by hand. For some weary reason, most vendors have their own idea about the actual size of a millimeter .. or maybe the problem is more about measuring the bead. But ordering online from a picture has almost always been a disappointing adventure. The problem is compounded by the fact that these beads are hand made, the Bali portion anyway, not so much the seamless round beads in the center. So you may find something close the next time you go looking, but it's rare to find the exact same bead .. even from the same vendor!

While a bit awkward to put together and complete, it's an awesome piece. It has a wonder heft to it. I always do well with mix-metal pieces, too, because then the wearer (who might not otherwise) has *permission* to layer both sterling and gold pieces together. The sterling box clasp I use has a little safety catch on the side and is very well made. (By the way, this clasp has doubled in price since I last purchased them in 2004! Silver closed at $13.83 on Friday .. it was about $4/ounce when I began this venture as a business in 2002).

I haven't yet counted beads, but now that I've completed this one, I'll see if I've got enough left to make one more. If not, maybe I can get back to a wholesale beadshow this spring or summer and stock up on the components used in this elegant item .. one can only hope!