Etsy Metal Blog Carnival


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It is that time again when etsy metal team members get together to talk about a common topic. This months question is:

How do you get ready for the Holidays?? Do you make special items, have sales, shows?? How do you celebrate the Holidays??

As for the holidays spent with the family I feel like I am a child again. I never made it home for the holidays when I lived in Italy. Now that I have moved back I am enjoying every minute making up for all the holidays I missed in the past. We don't do anything special, we just spend the day together and of course eat!!!

As for my jewelry business I always hope I will be busy working, creating new pieces and filling orders for the holiday shoppers.  I also do a little prepping and organizing before the holidays making sure everything is ready to help reduce the fabrication and shipping times.


In between orders I try to stock up and prepare all the components I will need for the fabrication of my made to order pieces. My bangles seem to be popular so I measure and cut all the wire or sheet I will need for each standard size.

                           

This way I have taken one step out of the process and reduces a little the time for fabrication. For my anticlastic bangles I try to keep a few bangles ready in each size. This is the most time consuming part of this bangle, so keeping them in stock and ready to go is a great help.





In the shipping department I also try to keep everything ready as possible. I use craft boxes for my jewelry and I had a logo stamp made so I could stamp my own boxes. If you are interested I purchased my custom stamp at Standard Stamp Co.  on etsy. They have many designs to choose from or you can send them your own design and they will reproduce it for you. They did a lovely job!!

I also keep large quantity of padded envelopes, ribbons, business cards and tape on hand so there are no last minute running to the store to get them which is a waste of time.





This is also when I start planning next years show schedule and sending in applications for the art shows for 2015. I made my own wall calendar using a bulletin board and I pinned each month of the calendar so I can see everything at once. The picture is not to great, sorry, but each square is a month of 2015. This way I can keep track of when the applications and payments are due, show dates and times. This past year I participated in 10 art shows so it can get a little confusing at times.




My last show of this year will be in Orleans Ma, with the Artisan's Guild of Cape Cod, on November 28-29 2014, 10:00-5:00 daily. The art show will be held at the Orleans Middle School in Orleans. If you are on the Cape for Thanksgiving weekend feel free to come by and say hello.


You can also check out what other etsy metal members are doing on the Holidays:

Hybrid Handmade Jewelry


Node Form


Beth Cyr

Etsy Metal Blog Carnival


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Well now that I am finally settling in my new apartment and the shows are slowing down I am glad to say the Etsy Metal Blog Carnival is back!!.  Hopefully I will be able to find more time for blogging. This blog carnival is where etsymetal team members come together and blog about a common topic.

This months topic is "What are your favorite pieces or creations and what was your inspiration?" All my pieces are my  favorites in one way or another. However the ones that are most challenging are usually my all time favorites. Those are also usually the pieces where I learn something new and take the longest to make. I can't say my inspirations come from nature or a certain design or color. What inspires me the most  is the challenge of creating something I have never made before. Yes I am somewhat competitive mostly with myself. When it comes to jewelry I like pushing myself into metalsmithing territories I would not normally venture.


This ring is one of my latest creations. The ring has a textured hollow form with a spinner band and some gold balls. I truly enjoy making hollow forms and challenging myself with how many different ways I can incorporate them in a jewelry piece.  I don't really sketch out my designs first, they somewhat evolve on the way.  I do however sketch out the fabrication of the piece I am making. What to solder first, how to texture, etc. Needless to say my drawings are not that pretty. This ring took a while, I first made the hollow form and then put it aside so I could think on what path it should take, ring, necklace, bracelet??? 



 On the ring band I also cut out a feather, added some texture and soldered it to the band. My mother tells me that I always want to make the most challenging pieces. I guess that is true, at least for me. I think the desire to challenge myself comes from the beginning when I started making jewelry.  I had so many design I wanted to make flowing around in my head. Unfortunately I could not make them because I did not have all the proper tools.  We all know how expensive the tools are, but now my tool supply has grown and I can take on more complex pieces. Maybe a ring like this isn't challenging for a more experience jewelry maker, but for me it was and I am very pleased with how it came out. I am so pleased that I decided to keep it for myself and not sell it.

My next challenge.......... 


Another hollow form is being fabricated but is still evolving. I want it to be part of a bracelet, but in the end who knows. I do know I want to add some hinges and that is another challenge because it will be my first time making hinges. Can't wait to find some time in between orders and shows to work on it!!

Hope you enjoyed reading my blog post, you can check out the other etsymetal team members and their favorite pieces on the below links:-))


Weekend Art Show


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Just thought I would give you a heads up. I will be selling my jewelry at By the Bay Art Show located in the very cute Lemon Tree Village located in Brewster Ma. on Oct. 4-5. Show times are 10:00-4:00 each day. If you are on Cape Cod for the weekend and would like to see my creations in person come by and say hello!!

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. 



















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