Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Pearls just wanna have fun!

Pearls aren't always so serious; they've been known to be whimsical on occasion. These are 6mm oceanic blue/green fresh water pearls hand knotted on silk and attached to sterling silver stars with French wire. (French wire, also known as bullion or gimp, is a very fine coil of silver or gold-filled wire used by jewellers to conceal and/or protect beading wire or silk when attaching to a clasp. Proponents maintain that French wire gives jewelry an elegant, professionally finished look while also protecting and strengthening the ends of the beadwork. I tend to agree. Most of the pearls you find in jewelry stores use French wire.) The hook-in-the-front clasp is a handcrafted "pendant dependent" on which hangs a stunning blue faceted apatite briolette. Pearls, like girls, just wanna have fun.

This piece is headin' out to a silent auction for St. Marguerite D'Youville Academy here in Ogdensburg .. though I have two or three more strands of these pretty blue pearls if you'd like one for your very own. : )

THIS was almost going to the silent auction, but I couldn't quite part with it. This is a Sequential Byzantine chain. The origin of the Byzantine chain is a mystery (trust me, I've looked); but I have seen variations of it in several of the books I've collected for my studio library. One variation on my list of new things to try is called Inca Puno .. it's a similar repetitive sequence of knot formations without the connector pairs in between. I've been making the Byzantine for several years .. but generally only when someone has seen the one I wear and asked for one of their own. They're substantial pieces .. lotta silver. Both of the other jewelers in my Guild make them regularly (out of both silver and gold), so I thought the Inca Puno might be a nice variation to work on instead. I cut enough 16 gauge rings for the Byzantine above to make four or five of them .. and I can whip one out in about an hour and 15 minutes now .. so I made a few for a couple upcoming shows. This one, however, is the only one with an ornate clasp. The others have lobster or toggle clasps. It's a little bigger than the others, as well. I can slide it over my hand with the clasp closed .. just about 1/8th of an inch under 8 inches. A show piece, to be sure.

OK .. gotta make three or four more of those funky copper bracelets and a buncha earrings! I'll try not to stay away so long next time!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Lacy weave

Well, color me pink and call me embarrassed!! I can't believe it's been just a couple days shy of two weeks since I last posted! Time surely does fly by when you're having fun. You'll be pleased to know I haven't been loitering, though. I have been a busy little jewelry elf. And part of the reason I put off posting this particularly elegant piece was because it was to be a gift .. and as it's now been given, I have no fear of giving the surprise away. There are earrings to match - however, surprising as it may seem, they were a little trickier to figure out!! So they've been put on hold while I get some more inventory holes filled in.

If you click on either of the pictures here, you can get a closer look. First time I've done this one, though it's a variation on a European 4 in 1, much like the bracelet a few posts back (Chain Reaction). Took me a good part of a day to do it though. Per usual, the first time is copper .. I haven't figured out what the cost might be for a comparable piece in sterling, but it's only 20 gauge wire, so it might not be too bad. The only downside is that the little bead dangles have to have a hole large enough to accept 20 gauge wire. I really, really wanted to use smoky quartz beads for this one. I thought that as the copper slowly tarnished to a deeper and richer copper color, a pale brown smoky quartz bead would set it off nicely. Couldn't find any in my infinite collection of smoky quartz that fit the bill. And I didn't have the time to ream them to fit. So, what I used instead were some No. 6 Czech glass beads in a pale peach color. They'll provide a nice contrast when the copper darkens.

The next - and newest - problem I had with this one was taking a good photo of it. As it took up a larger amount of space, I could no longer use the macro setting on my digital camera .. not unless I wished to focus on just one particular spot on the piece. So I had to pull back and do a normal focus. I've since created a slightly different set up with my light cube using light gray paper and coming in from the top of the light cube instead of in from the side. I took a couple shots this morning of a new knotted pearl design and a spectacular Byzantine bracelet with a flower clasp.

Unfortunately, the dog is looking up at me with those big sorrowful eyes, indicating that it's time for her first romp of the day. So ... I'll leave you to examine this piece for the moment and try to get back this afternoon for the other two. Ciao for now!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Viking, Adorned!

I thought I was going to post this yesterday .. had several other photos of the process all uploaded: the wire knit while it was still on the dowel, the rosewood drawplate, the weave being drawn through - looking down on it from above - so you could see the segment before and after it's pulled through the holes. But just about the time when I finally had all the photos placed just right, and the text that went with them was exactly where it should be, it all just disappeared. Poof. I swear I didn't touch a thing. The great cosmic blogger in the sky just decided it didn't work and took it all away.

So .. I thought I'd try again and keep it simple this time. I'll try the whole show n tell thing another time when I've completed another bracelet. Easier to photograph anyway, as the weave is so much shorter. I actually got a little carried away with the necklace and went just a little bit longer than I should have ... it's a bit big for me; but I know it'll be just right for someone else. Besides, this just means I have to make another one ... or two. Just to have some size variations. I know I should have taken a solo shot of the necklace - the handmade clasp is just a little different - but it's that time of year. Show time. Not so much the schleppin' to shows part, but the jumpin' through hoops part where you have to come up with x number of slides of your work, and one, or more, of your booth, and take out a second mortgage on your house for jury fees, application fees and all the overnight stays in far away places. One show insists that nothing at all will be allowed in a booth that isn't represented on the slides .. and you only get four shots at it! I get a brain cramp reading those kinds of applications. Almost makes me wistful for the wholesale customers who used to ask, "ya got anything else?"

So, I got a little extravagant. Couldn't help myself. Props are us.

Oh .. and I learned something today that I knew, but had forgotten. You know how it is, there's only so much room up there. If ya aren't using it, it gets pushed to the back of the bus. Anyway, found a whole rack of those laminated reference sheets at the UPS Store after mailing a package, and bought the one for PhotoShop. Huge segment on resolution .. the whole pixels or dots per square inch thing .. affects clarity and quality of the image. Important for things like printing ... and blog images. A computer monitor can only represent 72 dpi. This might explain why all my high-resolution images were looking kinda blurry. I have PhotoShop on my laptop; but it's a bit of a resource piggy. You have to shut down virtually all other programs to use it.

But, I'm thinking it might be a good idea to get a grip on tweaking photos with it for that time when I've actually got a real web site and have to put up a professional front .. make visitors think there's a whole crew of folks working in the background making jewelry, posting photos, making coffee for everybody ... when it's just me. Kidding! Well, not about the professional part; but I hope you'll all poke me in the eye if I EVER start speaking about myself in the third person, or refer to The Wild Inside as "us" or "we", or pretend that I actually have a customer service department. I'm the customer service department, I make the coffee, the jewelry and everything. Things could be a whole lot worse though. Did I mention I live on six acres ... on a river, with an adorable dog and a great life companion? It's our anniversary today .. been hanging out together for 30 years. Life is good.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

A Viking Expedition!

Well, here's a little bit of magic .. the Viking Weave in sterling silver. I can scarcely believe I've done this, I'm just so amazed at how well it turned out. The actual weave is done on a wooden dowel then, as I mentioned in my earlier post, drawn through a rosewood drawplate several times to compress the weave. It's not necessary, but I put a wire core through it - which ends as those loops that hold and catch the clasp. It's a dreary rainy day here today, so I think I'll take the time and try a necklace next! A tip of the hat to Andrea for the tips n tricks (and shortening the learning curve dramatically). I probably never would have tried it had I not seen hers. I feel a creative growth spurt! : )

Monday, April 2, 2007

This is a fibula!

Well, it's one kind of fibula .. definitely not the anatomical variety. A fibula, if you didn't see the longer definition at the end of my previous post, is a clasp or brooch, often ornamented, used by the ancient Greeks and Romans.

This is another project I've been aching to get at .. if I had three or four pair of hands, it mighta happened a bit sooner. I like this one so much, I might make a few more, just to have on hand. I know if I wear this one, I'll get inquiries - it's really quite impressive when it's sittin' in front of you. The leaf is from the Karen Hill Tribe .. it's fine silver, not sterling. It's about four inches long and about an inch wide at its widest point. I worked on the business end of the pin with a file and 0000 steel wool long enough to keep it from snagging on even a fine knit sweater; though it's actually meant for a bulky knit or as a shawl pin. I've got some incredible conch shells I intend to try with a slightly different design. Oh, and my sterling bullet ends arrived .. so there will definitely be a sterling Viking weave piece this week! Stay tuned!! : )