Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Rings and Roses and Hammers

I love roses, especially my Moje Hammarberg rugosa rose, which is considered an "antique rose". She isn't fussy at all like the hybrid teas, and smells positively heavenly. I keep her just outside my back door, so I can visit often. I love the old-fashioned look of the blooms, and will probably end up making a million of them in silver and other metals. This is my second one, and I've already got another on the bench, along with some rose-petal pendants, and my Mom wants a pair of earrings, so I'm thinking about those.

I also love hammering metal as I've mentioned many times before. I have added several yummy (yes, hammers can be yummy) Fretz hammers to my collection, and am having such fun using them. I think its interesting that the handles are made from a beautiful type of rosewood - maybe that's why my hammer likes to make roses!

The Fretz hammers just feel divine in your hand, and they even smell good! Now I want some stakes and a stake holder....don't even ask how much they cost!

Something else I'm exploring these days is making some new rings with vines, swirls and various embellishments on the shank.

Here is my first of the series - Renaissance Dream, with a deep cranberry colored garnet. This little ring is headed off to the Local Palette Gallery today, along with one of the roses, not sure which one yet.

So that's it for now. Still haven't finished the labradorite ring I started last week, I keep getting distracted - it's the jewelry-maker's attention deficit disorder popping up again!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sunday Morning Coffee and Etsy - 02/22/09

Well, my plan was to photograph my beautiful crocus patch and wax poetic about the joy of approaching spring for a minute before I started my Etsy shopping this morning. Are you as unimpressed by this morning's photo as I am? Sigh...... Yes, I know it could be worse, but I've been 'globally warmed' for the past few years, and have forgotten how to deal with an actual winter. Okay, I'm done whining now, thank you for listening..... on to the shopping!

I'm in a random kind of mood this morning, so I headed over to the Etsy Treasuries for my search. Treasuries are collections that are put together or 'curated' by Etsy members to showcase items that they have selected for reasons almost as varied as the items themselves. The only real rule is that the items must not be your own. This is such a popular activity on Etsy that it is almost impossible to snag an opportunity to create one without becoming a Treasury "stalker". Here is a great how-to article from Etsy on the ins and outs of capturing a Treasury slot. It's been a while since I've created one, so I'm on the prowl myself for the next opening.

Browsing treasuries is a little different than other Etsy browsing in that only the titles are listed, rather than thumbnail pictures, so an eye-catching title is important.

The treasury title that caught my eye this morning is The Painter's Dream, a collection curated by Fell Painter. Her description of where she is from explains the captivating outdoorsy feel to her work: "I'm from the North of England, known for its dramatic landscape, changeable weather and stoical, tea-drinking inhabitants." she says in her shop profile. I have always loved everything about England, and would probably live there if I could. I've spent many lovely days driving the countryside of Surrey, in the Southeast, and the wild hills of Scotland, but have not yet made it to the fells of Yorkshire. And just what exactly is a fell? Strictly defined, it is: a hill; an upland tract of waste, pasture or moorland. Somehow, I think a painting does the term much more justice!

Fell Painter's work perfectly captures the feel of the countryside of northern England, especially this one titled 'Evening Clouds'. I can just imagine the brisk breeze and a slight cooling in the air as the sun starts sinking toward the horizon. Her work is done in oils on canvas, board or paper, and in petite sizes that make originals very affordable.

One of my favorite paintings from the treasury selections is from the shop of Small Impressions, titled Hillside Barn. Nancy also uses a small format and oils for her paintings, which capture perfectly the beauty of the American countryside. The warm sunny feeling in this painting is the perfect contrast to the cold snow outside today.

One more delight for the senses that I found in this treasury is the silk painting done by Mystic Silks. Her shop name really describes her work well - her paintings do take on a mystical quality from the way the paint takes to the silk fabric.

I'd love to see one of these in person, especially this stunning Monarch butterfly emerging from its chrysalis. The contrast between the crisp clarity of the wings and the dreamy background is mesmerizing.

Her shop also has several paintings on silk pillows, and I particularly love the soft greens with the vibrant orange of the fish in her Aquarium Silk Pillow.

Alas, my second cup is finished, and I must get on with the day, so that's all for now. I am planning on finishing and photoing some new work today (finally, it's been on the bench all week, am I slow or what?) so I might have a few new pictures to share later today or tomorrow. See you all later!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Saturday Night at the Market - 02/21/09

Greetings Saturday Night Shoppers!! I really do have fun doing these each week - I just never know what will turn up. Last week I decided to feature a different technique each week, and today's technique is bookbinding. Earlier this year while looking for a journal with unlined pages, I discovered that there are amazing people out there who actually bind real hardcover books just like the ones you buy. I had no idea this was even possible without fancy machines! I strolled on over to the Papercraft Market tonight to see what kind of books I could find.

I fell in love with the 2 beautiful cottage-y 'Mom's Bouquet' handbound journals I found in Lady Artisan's shop. She has one with a suede spine, and one with a golden leather spine.

These lovelies are filled with 64 pages of hand-torn, bright yellow Canson Mi Teintes paper, and the end papers have a pretty pink basketweave design. The pages are hand-sewn onto tapes, and then cased in with the cover. The attached bookmark that is made from floral crochet trim is the perfect finishing touch.

Another talented book-maker is mixed media artist, AJ's Designs. Found here are two stunning Asian-inspired handbound journals that are suitable for sketching or watercolors as well as writing.

The first journal is adorned with a collage of bamboo, gingko, a butterfly, and an Asian coin with skeleton leaves added for more dimension. Spine dangles of ribbon and beads can also be used as an attached bookmark.

The second journal features a collage of skeleton leaves, micro beads, tissue papers, skrim, embossing powders, miniture dominoes, gold leaf embellishing a pretty geisha with a parasol.

Browsing through another lovely shop, Short Fuse, taught me that there are many different techniques for binding a book. This shop (in addition to some really fabulous stained glass jewelry) has beautiful examples of coptic binding, flatback binding, and Japanese stab binding.

My favorite is the refreshing blue and green marbled blank journal that uses the coptic binding method. As described by Short Fuse: "This type of binding offers a more flexible spine, allowing the pages to lay completely flat when open (great for lefties!)" As a lefty myself, this sounds great!

I also love the little chocolate brown notebook that was bound with the Japanese stab binding stitch. This little gem would fit perfectly in my purse!

And if you'd like to know more about how binding works, here's a link on how to do a simple (so they say, I'm not so sure!) hardbound book, and here is a link explaining the Japanese method. For an inspiring look at more gorgeous handbound books check out Lark's 500 Handmade Books: Inspiring Interpretations of a Timeless Form

One more thing of course, the weekly 1000 Markets Search Engine Find. I've got the beginnings of spring fever already, so this week's search term was 'Tulip', and resulted in 64 great tulip-y things. My favorite was this great tulip fan lamp from Chauncey Design's shop full of glass goodies.

A close second was this stunning tulip photo from Eye Shutter to Think. What an eye for a great shot she has!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Dean's Beans, Ganoksin , Giant Crystals and my torch

I'm sitting here finishing my cup of tea, reading the morning's email....and craving some good coffee. I periodically quit coffee because it gives me heart palpitations (even decaf does this). But, invariably I start craving it again - I miss the ritual of grinding and the heavenly smell. I've decided to order up an interesting new blend from my favorite organic, fair trade coffee vendor - Dean's Beans which promises to be a 'peaceful yet empowering' blend that will help me achieve 'universal harmony' - what more could I ask, ha ha.... I learned about Dean's from donating to LinkTV - their company was one of the giveaway sponsors. (If you have satellite, check out LinkTV - fascinating documentaries, and great international music)

One of the things I look forward to the most in each day's email are the posts from the Orchid forum at Ganoksin. Ganoksin is a positive wealth of information for not only metalsmiths, but anyone who has a jewelry business or hobby. I have learned so much from lurking there (I have never posted). They had a great discussion on sawing technique a while back that was really helpful to me, and are now talking about how to formulate a business plan - very timely info for me since I'm actually doing that now. (yes, I know, I should have done this long ago...)

A Ganoksin article also guided me through setting up my acetylene torch by myself without blowing anything up - something I am eternally grateful for!

Here's my torch today, a little over a year later. Now the big question is how long before it is out of acetylene and I have to go get a new tank? It was on 1600 (outer number dial) when it was full, got down to 400 in mid-December, and here's where it is this morning.

My question is, will it run out on a weekend in the middle of a big project, ha ha....this is kind of like a new car where you don't know exactly where empty really is on the gas gauge.

Also in today's email I finally learned what the name Ganoksin means, something I have always wondered. Dr. E. Aspler, who started Orchid with Charles Lewton-Brain, and known to Orchidians as Hanuman, posted an interesting collection of facts this morning about the Ganoksin project. Here is his explanation of the name: "Ganoksin is a Thai word. In Thai Ganok means pure gold, Sin means art, and together they can be thought of as meaning 'The Art of Gold'." Now I know! Here's the entire post if you want to know more. Or, you can read the whole story of Orchid and Ganoksin here.

I also learned about a cave of giant crystals down in Chihuahua, Mexico - completely amazing! Check out this video if you'd like an interesting little diversion. The photo here is from this National Geographic article about the same discovery.

And now I had better get going - lots of things on the bench to finish today, and a missing international order to track down. See ya later....

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Lovin' my Labradorite

I've blogged about this before, but I just can't help help myself! I've loved labradorite since the first day I saw it. (yes, my addiction to labradorite and moonstone is almost as bad as the pottery addiction) I was in our local bead shop, Jane's Fiber and Beads, and had picked up a funny little gray bead I didn't recognize. They said it was labradorite, and that sometimes the stone had flashes of blue in it. This one didn't, but oh how I wanted to see one that did. The search was on!

I found some gorgeous little round beads and made myself a bracelet. Shortly after I found some bigger beads and made myself another bracelet. I still wear these two bracelets, and I'm happy to say that I can actually bring myself to sell some of my labradorite stash now. (It's hard, but I force myself, ha ha).

I've had this fabulous gem-quality strand since last fall's wholesale gem show, and am finally ready to start letting them go. I made earrings and a pendant yesterday with some of these stones, and posted them in my Etsy shop.

I'm thinking about a bracelet that would use most of the rest of the stones - of course, I'd want to keep that (I'm sooo bad), so maybe I'll just stick to the pendants and earrings.

Something I hadn't seen before - deep blue labradorite - caught my eye at the January gemshow, and this little pendant was made from one of the faceted teardrop I bought. I think these would look great with pearls, too, so I'm going to go up and check out what's in my beading studio. I've been so distracted with metalwork lately that I haven't been making any bead pieces at all. I need to get back to some of that, as I really do love it. Ha, and it's a whole lot warmer and nicer up there than in the basement, that's for sure!

I have some beautiful flashy cabochons that are perfect for rings, too, and am currently working on a big ring with the largest of the ovals I have.

I think I'm going to accent it with a garnet - I love the way garnets and rubies look with labradorite. Hope to finish this one today while I'm working on a custom ring order. (That's you, Jen!)

Then I'll be starting on a design for the 3 small ovals that I have. I'll be posting that one with the extra cabochons for custom sized orders. Since I've got three of these cabs, I am making one for me, too. Well, it's definitely time to get off the computer and down to the studio now - talk to you later!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sunday Morning Coffee, Etsy and an Anniversary

Yesterday was my 1 year anniversary of opening my Etsy shop, and I'm especially happy today as I think back over the last year and how much I have learned and grown because of my experience at Etsy. My business continues to grow and evolve, and I couldn't do it without Etsy - both the good and the bad (mostly good, though!)

However, Sunday mornings are all about shopping, so without further ado, let's get started.....or, shall we say, continue with the celebration - because today's finds are all about celebrating!

The delightful cake plate you see in the photo above is from a shop that is new on Etsy - Magic Markings Art. I am completely in love with her whimsical artwork, and what a bonus to find it on pieces of pottery - yay!! (we all know about my pottery addiction).

I just fell in love with everything when I visited her Etsy shop. I'm totally sure the Girls Night Out 8" square plate will be making its way to my house.

In fact, I'm going to invite my fellow Martini-loving friend over (with her yummy apple martini makings) and we'll have a little celebration. And what really makes these fun is the personalized back of the perfect for a gift!

And oh, my - here's another shop full of unique delights - Fancy Picnic, and one of the lovliest textile collar necklaces I've ever seen.

When describing this beauty she says, "Célèbre la Nuit Collar is perfect for adding a little bit of sparkle and ruffled romance to your little black dress." How right she is! I want to go get dressed up to go out this very minute!!

Or perhaps you're not a collar person? Well, then, keep the mood of celebration with these over the top red earrings inspired by a period travelling circus. Fancy Picnic's description is perfect - "The Showtime earrings evoke the timeworn glamour of the ringmaster's regalia - rich red, old gold, burnished bronze and a smattering of sequins and decorative beads". What little black dress wouldn't love to be seen with these?

And after a relaxing martini in your little black dress, perhaps you will retire to this blissful bed from the incredibly talented Attila Design in Finland to drift away in sweet dreams. I think this is the most unbelievable creation in furniture that I've ever seen - I never cease to be amazed at what can be found on Etsy! David Bromstad eat your heart out!!

For now, I'll just have to be happy with this little wooden postcard from Attila's shop to remind me that Any Day is a Good Day for Some Champagne.

Saturday Night at the Market - 02/14/09

Hope everyone had a wonderful Valentine's Day, filled with chocolate and love! Yesterday was gray and rainy here, so I had a lovely cozy day inside. I do spend a lot of time looking out at my garden through the kitchen window (makes doing dishes a whole lot nicer) and my eye is often caught by a pair of bright red cardinals eating seeds from last summer's flowers. An interesting thing about cardinals is that they mate for life, so I was completely delighted when I discovered this adorable little red box by Pasaii Design Studio - how perfect! Her box is this week's 1000 Markets' Search Engine Find. My search terms were 'heart' and 'red', and returned a perfect selection as always. Be sure to check out her shop - it is filled with lovely and original designs!

As I started my market browsing with the 1000 Markets front page yesterday, my eye was caught by these lovely little peyote stitch earrings, aptly named 'A Hint of Passion', and decided to focus on bead woven art this week. In fact, I think I'm going to do a whole series on some of the many incredible techniques and mediums used by the talented artists who have shops at 1000 Markets. I particularly love how the the grey fades into white at the center of these little gems which can be found in the Njema Original Beadwoven Jewelry shop.

The work found in the Njema shop is interesting and varied, sometimes created from her own patterns, and sometimes completely freehand. Another stunning example of her work is the Purple Netted Cuff, which shows off her skill at freehand design, as well as polymer clay beadmaking.

No article about bead weaving would be complete without a piece or two from The Beaded Lily, one of the members of the Wearable Art Market. Her beadwork is amazing and original, and always with an interesting background behind its creation. I especially love her Catkill cuff, with its beautiful cat's eye lampwork bead paired with found bluejay feathers.

Also from The Beaded Lily is the stunning Ocean of Storms cuff, a masterful mix of blues and silver, and perfectly named as well. I love the way she has woven the wonderful silver tube beads in amongst the beads. The remind me of whitecaps on waves.

Another wonderful shop on 1000 Markets is Patricia Vener's Silver Dragon Creations. I met Patricia through the Art Jewelry Collective, another great group that I am a part of. I particularly love the fabulous and colorful earrings that Patricia creates, and these Red Sky earrings just take my breath away.

I hope you've enjoyed this introduction to the wonderful art of bead weaving. If you'd like to see more, check out this great book, by Carol Wilcox Wells - Masters: Beadweaving: Major Works by Leading Artists.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Sunday Morning Coffee and Etsy - 02/08/09

Time for one of my favorite weekly pleasures, browsing for new delights on Etsy. You just never know what will pop up. I'm feeling a bit wild this week, so I thought I'd see just how wild things can get on Etsy..... here we go!

Created by Hannah Rachel, who is also a very talented glass artist, this strange, yet beautiful Yellow Dust Mask is an incredible work of beaded art. The mask tells the story of the infamous uranium mines in New Mexico where Navajo and Hopi tribes were hired to work without protection from dust, radiation, and uranium poisoning.

The next offering is straight out of Mad Max - a true fashion statement in leather - check out Tom Banwell's Leather Steampunk Helmet. And no girl should be without her Raygun Model 81 when venturing out in her new helmet. It seems that Tom is also working on a custom leather holster for this beauty - stay tuned!

Not particularly into leather, guns, or helmets, you say?

Well, then perhaps a hatching dragon is more to your liking. In addition to the enchanting little dragon, Bog Productions' shop has quite a few other lovely and functional pottery pieces, both hand built and wheel thrown.

(Uh, comes my pottery addiction). I love these little tea bag holders. In fact, I *need* these, don't you think???

Ok, back to weird.. No home should be without a knitted lab rat in its very own dissection tray, no? You can buy this one (along with a lot of other slightly more conventional cuddlies) already made from the Crafty Hedgehog's shop, or knit your very own with her pattern. Have fun!