Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gifts: Wired Lotus Free Rolling Mill Tutorial & Flowers From Mom

Fellow jewelry artist and friend, Susan Barzacchini, of Wired Lotus, has begun a wonderful new blog. She launched her new blog with a free gift for everyone interested in the rolling mill. She has created and generously offers a very concise and thorough tutorial on using the economy rolling mill. You can find the free "Flat to Fab: Patterning Metals with the Economy Compact Rolling Mill" here on her blog. What impresses me the most about this tute is the quality of information. I happen to know that she went so far as to have the tutorial reviewed by the experts on the mill before she even released it to you, the public. She walks you through every aspect of using the mill from how to set it up right out of the box to defining terms to using patterns. She provides clear relevant pictures with each step. The tute leaves no question unanswered- however, if you do find that you still have any, then she has generously offered to answer your queries on her blog. This is Susan's first tute and I think only the first of what will be many more outstanding tutorials. Great job, Susan! I know that you generously gave me some credit, but the credit is all yours- I just helped with some of the techno babble. :)  Not to say that I don't appreciate it because I certainly do. Thank you :) and thank you for offering us your expertise.

I have a story of early Christmas to tell. I have to share this because it made me so happy and maybe will touch a few of you also.

Those of us of a certain age have the same sad, shared experience of losing a parent. I have lost both of my parents. This is the tenth anniversary of my mom's passing. My mother was my best friend and if anyone had asked me I would have told them that I could never live without her, but here I am, carrying on. I think of her often, but have not felt her presence as strongly, in a very long time, as I did recently.

Shortly before she passed away, she gave me 2 Christmas cacti. We had a habit of giving plants versus flowers because plants live on. They bloomed magnificently that year. For many years they sat in 2 pots. I did all the things you are supposed to do to get them to bloom. They never did. I planted them together in the same pot and prayed that it wouldn't kill them and it didn't, but still no blooms. The planter has hung in my living room for years. I have never been able to bring myself to get rid of the stubborn plants and have long since given up on getting them to bloom. They are a green reminder, hanging unobtrusively on a hook, for those moments when I glance over and think of Mom.

A few evenings ago, while playing our regular game of darts, I happened to glance over and see something caught in the branches of my cactus. I thought one of the kids had thrown something up in it and made a mental note to chastise them. I went to relieve the branches of the offence when I discovered that it had, in fact, bloomed!! For no good reason that I could tell, it was actually blooming. Immediately, what sprung from my mouth was, "Thank you, Mom!" (Actually, I said "Mommy"- not Mom, but that sounds strange even to me.)  I had a very pronounced feeling that Mom was in the room. I was utterly delighted. What I found most amazing was that I didn't fall into a bundle of melancholy over the "sign", rather; I had a great sense of happiness and warmth. I have had some big changes in my life and have stepped into her matriarchal shoes. I measure myself against her and for the first time, I felt as if she personally approved of the job I've been doing. I can't think of a better Christmas gift. Thank you, Mom. :)

I hope all of you experience some sort of miracle for the Season, as well.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Ahhh, Lovely Lapis

I finished this piece up this morning and thought you might like to see the before and after pictures. Some of you may remember seeing this cab before. It used to be in a necklace made of copper.

Well, I was getting it ready to list for sale in my boutique and I decided that I wanted to see it in silver instead. I had always been on the fence with it. So, I redid it this morning and tweaked the setting a bit.

BIG Bright Blue Solid Lapis Sterling Silver Large Handmade Pendant
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I think the bottom was a little heavier before. This time, the bottom has less wire, but the concept is the same. However, the top has more silver now and the shape created by the bail and weaving echoes back to the bottom. At least, I think it does. I like the contrast between the silver and blue. I liked the copper a lot, but I like the silver better. What do you think?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Peruvian Gel Rhodochrosite

I finished this today. I'm so happy with how it turned out, I wanted to post it right away.

I tried to put this on my Facebook Fanpage. After about an hour, I gave up trying. It seems Friday evening is a bad time to try to upload pictures. I'm still learning the FB ropes. One thing I was told is that if I get 25 likes, I'll get a shorter URL. Will you visit and like me? (I'm smiling while typing this because, really, I sound like I am in kindergarten- I doubt I'll ever get used to FB. :) ) I promise, I'll try to visit everyone and like you, too. I might be slow, but I'll do it. I think I have that much of FB figured out now. Sorry, do I sound frustrated?? LOL! OK, yes, FB frustrates me, but I am learning.

Back to the Rhodo.....

This is a reddish, pink- darker gel rhodochrosite from Peru. Looks way different than the Argentinian variety, doesn't it?? This is much darker and very translucent. I tried my best to get a good picture of the translucency.

I originally tried to do this wrap in stainless steel. I had so much trouble with it that it went in the trash. The bundle is 6 wires thick. That was way too much for my hands with the steel. Too bad, it would have looked nice. Copper saved the day- it's plenty strong enough and gentler on the hands and looks great especially with this color.


Lois featured the Jelly Bean Jasper piece from my last post on her site, Copper Wire Jewelers. :) Thank you, Lois!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Time To Play Catch Up!

Aside from working on the last installment of my stones series (which will be done soon), I have been playing catch up on a bunch of things. Since making the exclusive time to open my boutique, I have gotten behind on everything. Of course, housework would be number one. Yes, there are plenty of people in the house now to share the load, but some things are best done by a woman. Sexist? Well, yes. I learned years ago not to let an adult male touch the washer! Then there is the stack of jewelry that I have had to go through. A lot of things are not going to make it into the store. I have piles- one each for daughters, one for my darling granddaughter, one for repair/refine and one for scrapping altogether. Then there is a stack to go over and get ready for listing. I have learned the hard way to go over each piece with a fine tooth comb before listing it for sale.

In between the catch up chores, I've been able to make a few pieces of jewelry and even had some practice with stainless steel wire, like with this Dumorturite. Stainless steel is tough to work, but I really like the look.

Unisex Slate Blue Exotic African Dumortierite Stainless Steel Handcrafted Pendant
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Yesterday, I put the finishing touches on a new piece with one of the biggest stones I've ever wrapped. What I find interesting, is that my dear husband really likes this piece a lot. He often likes my work and is very encouraging, but this Mexican Jellybean Jasper really caught his eye. He says it seems Italian to him and that the colors remind him of worn alfresco paintings. I love when he is inspired by a rock! :)

BIG Statement Jelly Bean Jasper Sunbaked Colors Handmade Necklace
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After these pictures were taken, I added a nicer clasp of hammered 14g wire with a great patina and made it a little longer. It is 22 inches. The beads are each 16mm worked with 18g to give you an idea of the size of this. The stone is about 60mm long or about 2 1/2 inches. The setting did a good job in minimizing the size a little, I think.

In my recent order from Rio Grande, I got a brass brush that Mary Tucker recommended here on her blog. It made the job of rubbing down the patina on the Jellybean piece a lot easier to do. I was not looking forward to doing all those beads, but the brush made quick work of it and I love the job that it did. I used it on sterling silver, too. I used sterling to finish a stunning pink and purple Tiffany Stone. Because the stone is so incredible, I wanted nothing on the face of it. Instead, I added some detail to the sides with twisted wire and gave it a patina. The brush worked like a charm on the sterling, too.

Gone to a new home :)

To round this post out and bring it to a meandering close, I share with you- Cat- who has been a constant (sometimes irritating) companion. He has had a belly ache for the last few days. When he doesn't feel good, he is a big baby and has to be right next to me so I can hear him moaning and groaning like an old man. Poor guy.... I don't have the heart to move him.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Drum Roll Please........ Store Now Open!

I am quite pleased to announce that my store is now open! Yippeee!

To celebrate, I'm offering FREE SHIPPING for a limited time to the US and Canada and $4.00 International. Have a look at the STORE FAQ for more about shipping.

This was so much work and planning and I had high hopes that this announcement would come sooner, but it is, at last, finally done. For those of you that have been waiting to see it, THANK YOU so very much for your patience.

I am using the free Ecwid store, as a result, I can only list 100 items. If there was something you wanted to see, it will be placed in the store as other things leave. Odds are good that your favorite piece is not sold, just not yet listed. If the store does well, I will upgrade and list more items including exclusive tutorials.

This store will be homebased on the blog, but will also be in several other places. As things sell in one store, they disappear in the others. Store announcements, sales and changes will be made here.

Thanks for your patience everyone :) Now that this is finally done, I can get back to doing what I love to do. Make jewelry and blog about it.