Art Shows


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I apologize for not blogging more often. This past year has been a very busy year for me. Moving back to the US, starting my jewelry business here, website orders, art shows, and  moving into my own apartment has taken up every hour of my life. However, finally having a place of my own is just the best!!.

 Since so much has been going on in my life I really did not know what to blog about, or where to start. Then I thought I would share my art show experience this past summer. I signed up for 10 art shows in hopes of selling some of my art jewelry. I was not able to participate in any art or craft shows when I lived in Italy so this was all new for me. It can be very exciting and very exhausting at the same time, but I am loving it.

My booth set up is always evolving. Obviously I want it to be attractive but also very easy to transport and set up. This was my set up at my last show.




Most of the art shows are outside during the summer therefore I needed to get a tent obviously in case of rain or wind. If there is a lite rain the tent is ok, but if there is a big storm it will leak and have to pack up. I was lucky I only had one rain day where I had to close up shop. 


Another vendor recommended I put noodles in the corners of the tent roof so the rain will roll off and not build up. I would of never dreamed of this but it helped, so now when I leave for a outdoor show I always bring my noodles. There are so many things to take into consideration that did not even cross my mind, like weights for your tent in case of wind. I guess you can tell I am a real newbie in the art show world. I purchased sand bags and filled them with sand from the beach and they wrap around the tent leg. I also use two stakes per tent leg, the wind can be scary on the Cape. I definitely do not want my tent blowing away, I heard many scary stories from other vendors. 



Like I said before my booth set up is always changing. Of course I cannot afford my dream set up quite yet but I always try to make it appealing to the potential customer. However there are a few things I have learned over this summer. Unfortunately I know having the jewelry open on the table there is a possibility of theft. I hate having this fear and I wish I did not have it. Sometimes in today's world we have to be careful. When I started, I kept my more expensive pieces in glass cases, but rarely anyone ever asked to try them on or purchase them. I think customers felt some what inhibited. I decided to overcome my fear of theft and removed the cases, now I have just one which is more just a decorative touch. Once everything was accessible to the customer the higher end pieces sold. Coincidence??? Maybe?? Maybe not. 

I also try to keep it minimal and use neutral colors. I like the wood risers and natural busts which I think make  my jewelry stand out. I want people looking at my jewelry and not at an over whelming or crowded booth display. I also had two large banners made with photos of my jewelry in hopes of grabbing peoples attention when they are walking by. I had a third banner made of photos of me making my jewelry. Sometimes people find it hard to believe that I fabricate my creations so I thought adding a process photo might help. 

Also when I started doing shows I  kept the table close to the opening of the tent. This made it hard for more than two people to stand at my table and browse. I also think it made potential customers feel that they were not welcome to come all the way into the tent. Here I have to give credit to my sister, she recommended to bring the table further inside the tent and set it up at an angle. I have my chair and packaging supplies in the corner behind the table. This created a more welcoming and larger space for potential customers to come into the tent and browse and look at my jewelry. One more tip is also to raise the tables, you do not want your customers to have to hunch over your table while they look art your art work. Some people use bed raisers, I used PVC tubes and slid them on the table legs to make the table higher.

I still have two more shows this fall, and I am sure I will change my set up in some way each time. I guess you never stop tweaking the overall set up.  Every change I made so far has always been for the best and brought in more sales. I am aware that I am a total newbie to the art show world and do not have all the answers. However  I hope some of my pointers will help some one else out there who is new to the art show world like me. And remember, smile!!!

  You can find my show listings here  and these are some some of my new pieces you will find at my shows. However the silver ring on the left is a keeper, can't give that one up, sorry:-)





Last but not least my beloved kiki in our new home..........


Cages


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In the past I have enjoyed making silver cages or hollow forms. I like the idea of only being able to peek at a little treasure hiding inside. You can see one of my older beach glass pendants here, pendant .

With summer finally here I felt the need to incorporate some beach glass and stones in my work again. Of course I instantly wanted to make some cages. I think my favorite part is the challenge of how to enclose the glass or stone inside. I use my torch to solder the components of the cage together, however I then use different cold connecting techniques to hold the beach glass or stone in the cage.



I started with a cage ring with a small piece of blue beach glass, it is so hard to find blue!! As you can see in the photo I used wire rivets to connect the base to the cage. I soldered the ring band to the base and then cold connected it to the round cage.





My sister so generously gave me another blue beach glass and I used it to make this tear drop pendant. I used a different technique for this one, no rivets. Inside the tear drop cage I soldered a step bezel, the backing sits on the edge of the step bezel and then I pushed over the side prongs.

For the beach stones I usually prefer to set them in a bezel. I love how smooth they are, great for a simple design.




My last cage doesn't have a summer feel, maybe more of a Autumn style, but I still love it. For this pendant I put red felt on the inside of the box. I also used the step bezel on the inside like the tear drop pendant.




My next step is I want to make a box with a hinge so you can change the little treasure inside. Now I need to learn how to make a hinge, with metal work you never stop learning.  The creative possibilities are endless with every new technique I learn, just too fun!!!!

Summer Sale!!!!


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Having a summer sale in my etsy shop. With just a minimum purchase of 50.00 you can receive a 25% discount at checkout. All you have to do is use the coupon code summerfun25 at checkout. The sale starts today June 2, 2014 and ends June 15 2014. Enjoy!!

LjBjewelry

Casting


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As I promised last time I wanted to do a blog post on my casting experience. Sorry it has taken so long but sometimes life can get in the way of the creative process. I have been wanting to cast for a very long time, so I thought I would dive in and see if I could make something. I started with a delft clay kit which was pretty reasonable in price and is great for beginners.

It comes with this red clay which is reusable and an aluminum mold. To the left is a photo of the first silver blob I made. My intentions where to make a silver heart like the one on the right, which I used to create the mold. Well I just kept getting blobs. I was becoming very frustrated needless to say, but I was going to cast something by the end of the day no matter what!!!  Some may know that I am part of the Etsy Metal Team, there are many experienced and fabulous casters on the team who helped me with my casting dilemma.







Their main recommendations are that the silver must be hot, hot, hot hot and you need to pour fast.  As you can see in the heart photo the silver would cool to fast and therefore stop flowing. After studying the situation,  I made some of my own adjustments. The first time the pouring hole was in the middle of the aluminum circle, then I moved it closer to the edge of the aluminum circle this way the pouring distance was shorter. I also made the pouring hole in the shorter end of the aluminum circle. I hope the photos that follow will make things easier to understand. 

First, using a ruler make sure your delft clay is soft to the touch, somewhat like when you are chopping vegetables with a knife. Them pack the clay into the circle using you chasing hammer with the rim of the circle facing down. This way you do not damage the rim with your hammer.


It needs to be packed down nice and tight, then smooth out the surface with the edge of the ruler. 


I wanted to cast some antique buttons so I pushed the button in and then you must add some baby powder and brush of the excess. This way, the two sides won't stick together. 


Line up the two marks and fill in the other half of the aluminum circle nice and tightly. Then carefully open the two sides to remove in this case the button and make the pouring holes.


I used clay carving tools, drill points and dapping punches to create the holes. The pouring hole should be at least 4mm wide when you are first starting out. As you go along and get better at pouring then you can reduce the size of the pouring hole. I am still at 4 mm, I need a lot of practice. 



I used the drill bit to make the hole and the dapping punch to smooth it out. Remember to line up the marks on the outside of the aluminum circle  when you close the two halves again. 




Gather some silver scrap and add a pinch of borax. Your crucible should also be coated with borax before you start to use it. Put some borax inside the crucible and torch away, a clear film will start to form on the inside of the crucible. This will help prevent the silver from sticking to your crucible, and it is normal that it will turn red.


HOT AND MOLTEN



Pour fasts and keep the flame on the silver when pouring.


After many trials I have a few buttons. I also made a silver sheet which I rolled out in the rolling mill down to a 20 gauge sheet so I can reuse it in some of my projects. I used the silver buttons as charms on some of my bangles. 




Here is a delft clay tutorial I found very helpful on youtube, I am sure you will find it helpful. I also want to inform you it is VERY addicting. Now I want to cast everything!!, next casting experiment will be a ring band, hope I do not get any more silver blobs. 



















Easter


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Hope everyone has a wonderful Easter!!

Spring Sale!!!!


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The desire for spring is great. Here on the Cape it is still cold but hopefully the warm weather is just around the corner. I am having a little spring sale in my etsy shop. With a minimum purchase of 50.00 you can receive a 20% discount at checkout. Just use coupon code "spring20" Sale ends Aprile 13, 2013.

These lovely necklaces with spring colors are available in my shop, feel free to check them out. Enjoy!!

LjBjewelry


Over Coming Step Bezel Fear


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For some time now I have been wanting to try to make a step bezel but I never got around to it or I was a little to afraid to give it a whirl. However the desire to get this technique under my belt was strong so I forced myself to find the time and dive in. The reason for wanting to add step bezels to my repertoire is because I wanted to make high bezels in hopes of soldering some decorations on the side of the bezels.

Of course as always I have to start with the most difficult.



 I had this little turquoise stone that I had wanted to set in a high bezel. I measured the outer bezel and soldered  it together with hard solder. Then I measured  the inner bezel and solder the seam together also with hard solder. Fit your inner bezel inside the outer one making sure the solder seams are on opposite sides of one another and there are no open spaces in between the two bezels. Place some medium wire solder on the inner ledge of the inside bezel and and solder both bezels together. Move the flame of your torch in circular movements around your step bezel and not directly on it or your little solder wire will fly all over.

                Of course you must also take into consideration the height of your stone and how high you want the outer bezel and calculate accordingly the height of your bezels. You need enough outer bezel to set your stone and enough inner bezel for your stone to sit on.  I wanted the outer bezel to fit perfectly on the curved ring band so I had a lot of sanding to do. You can see in the photo above to the right how it came out after I finished sanding. To create the curve underneath the step bezel I used a circle template.


 First I  had previously soldered with hard solder my ring shank.  Formed it on my ring mandrel, cleaned and sanded the ring band.  I found the hole on my template that match the size of my ring band. The ring band should fit nicely in the hole of the template, just like two puzzle pieces that fit together. Then I put the ring mandrel through the matching hole and marked on the mandrel where the template stopped.

I taped sand paper near the marked area of the mandrel and sanded my step bezel in that area. With a lot of patience the curve will begin to form under the step bezel and will eventually match and sit nicely on your ring band just like the above photo.





Now to solder the step bezel to the ring band. I used binding wire to hold the two pieces together and placed the solder wire around the inside seam.
It did not solder completely the first time so I pickled and cleaned then soldered again.








Here is the ring all soldered and cleaned, not to shabby for a first time. Of course I had to go a little further and solder on some decorative wire and silver balls.



 Here is the ring finished, and I must say I am pretty pleased how it came out. It will be hard to let go of this one. Naturally I went on to try other step bezels. Next I made a carnelian and pearl ring but just with a simple step bezel. The pearl was much higher then the carnelian and I wanted them to be the same height so I added a little step to raise the carnelian.



With the carnelian stone I was able to use the "Formula" to calculate the length of the bezel and step wire needed. Since the carnelian stone is oval, with you calipers measure the width, and add the length, then divide by 2 and you will get the diameter as if it were a round stone. Then take your diameter add the thickness of the sheet bezel and divide by pi (3.14). This will give you the length of your outer bezel. This formula obviously works with round and oval stones but for the above turquoise ring I will admit I had to eye ball it. I haven't found a formula for a rectangle shaped stone yet. For the step wire, take the diameter subtract the thickness of the wire and multiply by pi (3.14) and you will have the length of the step wire needed.



For the last ring I used a prehnite cabochon.  I wanted to solder a leaf to the side of the bezel so I needed a raised bezel. I needed a step wire for the pearl because it has a round bottom instead of a flat one. The step bezel will help it not rock when you set it. However in the end I decided against the pearl and will use it in another project.  I also remembered to take a photo of how I set up the step bezel before soldering. Just place the the solder chips on the ledge of the inner step bezel and move the flame around the step bezel and not directly on it. Obviously I used the above formula on this one to calculate the length of the outer bezel and inner step wire.




Here below is the ring shank and the step bezel soldered to the base with a leaf and silver balls. I used a jeweler's saw to cut out the leaf and hammer textured the edges of the leaf. The leaf however is soldered to the base and leans against the side of the bezel. The silver balls are however soldered to the side of the bezel.







In the end I slightly pushed the leaf over the stone. This one will also be hard to let go of.  I think I have over come the step bezel fear. The next technique I want to learn is casting, ha ha.  I just bought a delft clay kit and I am itching to cast some silver!!! Of course I will do my best to blog about the whole casting adventure, stay tuned..........



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