Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Summertime!

In the Winter, I never really get cabin fever. I can sit for hours to think about and make jewelry.

When Summer hits, I find it very hard to stay focused on jewelry. I have been having a very, very hard time making myself sit and make something. First, I hurt my hands, then I began to get fishing fever. But, even worse, I have camping fever. I have sat down to make something so many times and wasn't able. Until, that is, I made reservations for our favorite spot in the mountains. After I made the reservations, I felt wonderful and ready to jewel!!!

It wasn't like loosing the muse. I just didn't feel like making anything. It is very strange for me because I usually make something -anything- at least once a day. I almost felt like packing my things away. I just lost all interest. But, now with the promise of almost a week in the mountains, I already feel rejuvenated. It can rain all week and I won't care!!

Camping is a family tradition for me. I've camped all my life and in more states than I can remember. Something about it really works to refresh me. I love to get out in nature and enjoy all the sights and sounds. I'll be camping next to a cold mountain stream and I can't wait to be lulled asleep by it. I'll do a little hiking. I'll do a lot of relaxing with my husband. We'll bring scrabble and a hammock. I'll bring a notebook and sketch ideas. I've already started packing. :)

We leave next week. After that, we will do some more camping closer to where we live. I love Summer!

Here's a few pieces I made just after making the reservations. 

Leopardskin Jasper from Peru
Sonoran Sunrise with chrysocolla and cuprite. I was going for a tribal look and envision a warrior with shield and spear. This is a big, beautiful stone with an outstanding polish and cut.

Monday, June 20, 2011

From the Vault: Mohawkite


I am always on the look out for something new and different. When I saw this stone, I knew it had to be in my collection. This stone will be finished with silver, no doubt!

There is a mine in Mohawk, Michigan, USA that is appropriately called the Mohawk Mine. That is where this rare stone comes from. This is Mohawkite. These stones are only found in Mohawk, MI. For the specific "ingredients" of this stone, see this link to Mindat, a great place for stone info.

The look is like a silver metallic web on top of a white quartz base. When the light is direct, it is very reflective. When the light is not direct, the web looks slate gray.

I am waiting for the special design to speak to me to finish this and I am in no hurry. I don't mind waiting, but I do like looking at it. :)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Listen to Your Body

I've been out of commission. On Saturday, I was working some 14g wire and I ignored the little twinges of pain. By Sunday morning, I was regretting that oversight.

About 5 years ago, I had a nerve induction study done (I forget what it's called) and found that I have moderate carpel tunnel syndrome in both wrists. It was part of a larger group of tests I was having done that didn't relate to CTS, but I wasn't a bit surprised.

The first time it bothered me was when I was pregnant, many moons ago. It dissipated after my daughter was born and I didn't think of it again for years.

I took a part time, seasonable job about 20 years ago. Within days of using a pallet jack, I had full blown, painful symptoms. I saw a doc for it, who knew right away what it was. After talking about it to some people at work, I learned it was common to many people, mostly with the women I spoke with, though. It seemed it was really popular to get the surgery for it. Well, I'm not fond of surgery, especially the thought of having a mistake made on my hands, so I looked into other things.

The doc recommended exercises which really helped. But, what helped the most was a wrist brace that he gave me to wear at night. Whenever the CTS bothers me, I sleep with the brace for several nights and the symptoms begin to dissipate. I was told that the body is real good at healing itself given the chance and that the brace allowed that to happen while I was sleeping. It really works for me and I still have and use that same brace when needed.

I've have never had to use the brace while working. I try to be careful and listen to my body. I am usually pretty good about it- except for when I work with large gauge wire. For some reason, maybe because I get creative tunnel vision, I seldom pay attention to the rare times when wire work bothers me.


When I am working, I take breaks to flex my hands and I usually stop if my hands get sore. But, on rare occasions when I'm in the zone and ignoring it, I pay the price, as I did Saturday.  I didn't touch any wire till Wednesday and I wear the brace at night. I'm on the mend now.

I know for some people, CTS is much worse and can be devastating. I count myself lucky that I only have moderate nerve damage, which is still considerable, yet, manageable.

I had intended for this blog post to be very informative, but I'm not a doctor and if you have CTS then there isn't much I can tell you that you can't find online already. So, maybe this is just an excuse for my being absent. :)

On the plus side, I went hiking on Monday and didn't think about wire. On Tuesday, I also evaded wire and the temptation and spent the day with my grandson and his school graduation ceremony. By yesterday, I managed a few easy pieces. Wonder what I'll get done today? Whatever it is, it won't be involving 14g wire!

The following examples are what I was able to accomplish yesterday. They were pretty easy on the hands. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Copper Wire Jewelers Issue 5

Here's a treat full of tips and eye candy. Lois, the wonderful artist and supporter of copper jewelry publishes the beautiful, quarterly magazine, "Copper Wire Jewelers". It is named after the website she runs. I am proud to say I am a member of her community of wire artists. With her generous permission, I post this here for you to enjoy. :) Check out her site, too, if you haven't already. :)


Saturday, June 11, 2011

FREE Whimsical Wire People PDF now available

For those who would like to get a free downloadable pdf version of the Whimsical Wire People , you can now get it at JewelryLessons . You need to be a registered member, but registering is free.

This is no longer available at JL.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Boots, Socks or Oreo

I just call him Cat.

A few years ago, while I was taking my grandson to the school bus stop, I remember there was this little cat that all the kids called Oreo. He was the friendliest little thing. He diplomatically took turns greeting each new arrival to the corner. He would prance over, throw himself on the ground for a tummy scratch and then pop up to rub on the new arrival's legs. You could hear him purr a mile away. Cat was thin, but healthy and quick as a shot. I have seen him catch more than one squirrel.

I asked around about Cat. According to the neighbors he was a stray. My grandson nagged me every day to take him home. Soon his mother nagged me, too. But, after being entertained by him at the bus stop and nagged for half a school year, I no longer saw him and he went from my mind.

I had an old girl at home, you see. Her name was Jasmine, Jazz for short. She had adopted us from the SPCA 20 years earlier at the ripe age of 5. Yes, she was my 25 year old kitty. She deserved her peace and quiet. She had shared her home with a few other cats in her time and I sensed she just wanted the solitary, quiet life. There was no telling what a rambunctious, preteen kitty would do to upset her throne.

Jazz and I had a very close relationship. She was a calico with regal personality. She was an ambassador for cats. I had met more than one person that just hated cats, except for her, of course.

Last year, my beloved kitty passed away. I was devastated. "That's it," I thought, "no more pets."

Months later, in the dead of a cold winter, we started to notice this cat hanging around our block. It didn't take long for us to figure out that it was Cat, all grown up. How he evaded Animal Control, I'll never figure out.

Well, he began to work his charms on my husband, who had never met him before. Soon, he, too, was begging me to take him in.

It was cold out, real cold. I wondered how he managed. Turned out, he was semi living with the elderly neighbor man. There was my out. We couldn't take him in. He belonged to someone. Or, did he; could he?

As days and weeks passed, I found out that my husband had been secretly feeding him. He began to follow my husband into the house. At first, I yelled. But, by then, Cat had started working his charms on me, too.

To make this long story shorter. I talked to the neighbor, who denied owning him. And, Cat must like our food better because he chooses to stay here now. In fact, I can't really get him to go out. We checked him over and found that at some point someone had neutered him. (YAY!!!) We also found he was in need of flea medicine. He has a few nibbles to his ears, too. Other than that he is none the worse for wear. He is now ours and he is still called Cat. Though everyone else in the family has a different name for him.

You may be asking yourself what this has to do with wire. I ask you, "Have you ever tried to bead or work long wires with a cat around?" Need I say more? :)

Cat

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The new tute is now LIVE at JewelryLessons!

After so much work, I am pleased to report that the tute that took 2 1/2 days to finish, is now available. Shhhheeewww! (wiping forehead)

The tutorial, named Arched Pendant, can be found here at JL.

This is the piece that the tute is actually written about.
The following pictures are pieces done in the same design.


The next few pieces are pieces that are done using a technique taught in this tutorial. I can't show these pieces at JL with the tutorial because it is thought that it might be misleading, which I agree with, but this is my blog and I am telling you that the tute DOES NOT teach these designs, but uses the same main technique taught in the tute. (How was that for a run on sentence, LOL??!!)

Old stock Parrot Wing Chrysocolla






Gem Silica, Malachite, Sagenite
Now, I am off to take a shopping break with my daughter for birthday presents. :)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

YAY! It's done!

It has taken two days to finish, but I am 99.9% finished with my new tutorial. This one isn't for the blog, it will be for sale at JL. I do have some ideas for another mini tute on the blog, though. :)

Writing a tutorial is a lot of work. If you have never done it, you may not be aware of how much time it takes to do a decent job. If you enjoy working from tutes, this may add some appreciation for your favorite artist/teacher, who ever she/he may be.

I spent the first day working out a few practice pieces and then very slowly working the final piece. I took pictures of every thing I did. I had to check the pictures on the computer each time I made a move to ensure a good shot before proceeding to the next step. I made mental and written notes about different aspects of the piece that I wanted to remember to include in the written section. Taking the pictures is probably the most time consuming part, but only by a hair.

After the piece is finished, it has to be completed like any other piece. It has to be tumbled, washed, LOS'ed, polished, finished with a necklace and photographed again.

While the piece is in the tumbler, I begin my editing. Every picture, and there could be 100 and more, has to be carefully cropped, color and light corrected, copywritten and saved for web. Very, very time consuming. 

By the second day, I am finishing up the necklace and those photos and finishing up the editing. I begin the writing and wrestling with the formatting. The writing is where I get into the details of describing the moves. It can be hard to find the best way to describe something and to have it make the most sense. My language has to be clear and concise.

Each of about 60 moves in this tute is accompanied by a photo and description of the move. Tips are woven in along the way and some optional suggestions are offered. Finally, some pictures of the finished piece are included along with other examples of the same design.

This is the third day. It is morning. After working on the tute for 2 full days, I had to spend the night and morning not thinking about it or looking at it, so I can give it a fresh read for the semi final proofread. After that, I'll have a few other people read it. When I am satisfied with it- sometime early evening, hopefully- I will get it ready to submit.

I hope I didn't bore you with my short description of the long task of writing a tutorial. That was just a thumbnail sketch. I didn't mention the hair pulling parts. :)

Tomorrow, I'll upload some pictures of the design.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Time to Work

I haven't been in a real jewelry mood lately. I had a few disappointments in real life.

My grandson was supposed to come for the Summer, but that was put off till next Summer. Bummer. I was really looking forward to having him. And, our always dependable car is no longer dependable. Well, we've gotten almost 300,000 miles out of her, so I can't complain too much. We do need another car, though. :(

I have wanted to do some jewelry to take my mind off things. I started working on a design that has perplexed and frustrated me to no end. I put it aside and concluded that I need to try that wrap with a different stone- one I don't have.

Yesterday, I picked up an older design and thought it was about time I did a tutorial for it. So, today, I will WORK at jewelry.

Working at jewelry is not as fun as playing at jewelry, but can be just as rewarding and it does satisfy that itch to create. Writing tutes is a lot of work, but it is a challenge that I like to take. I like just about any challenge.

So, I'm off to work and will hopefully have fun doing it. :)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Mizuhiki

Mizuhiki  (mizz oo hee' kee?) is a form of ornamental Japanese paper cord. It is usually used to make ornate knots to decorate packages and notes, but it can also be used for jewelry.

 

Here is a YouTube of the cord and a brief look at how it is made. It is very durable and was traditionally used to tie back the hair of Japanese warriors.

 

These cords come in many metallic colors with combinations of effects from iridescent to striped. 

 



The major manufacturer is Yasutomo in Japan, but you can find it sold in many craft places especially online. I picked some up for cheap on eBay, just wait for a bargain to pop up.

The length is typically 36" per cord, but I have gotten some at 18". The diameter, while it varies somewhat, seems to be between a 20 and an 18 g wire. I make my own French wire to fit it for clasps. I make it on an 18g wire with 28g wire.

These cords are quite strong. I have used crimps on them with no problem. I have used half round wire on it for binding, too. I have used glue to space beads on it. I wouldn't say that you could create heirloom lasting jewelry with it and I wouldn't hang a heavy pendant on it- only because of the wear, not the weight- but I do use it for fun fashion jewelry.

I have worn it in the summer and it seems to be ok with the heat and sweat. Most cords have a mylar coating which is water proof, however, I wouldn't wear it in the shower.

I'm no expert and I am still playing with this myself, but I feel confident about using it for fashion jewelry. In fact, I am making lightweight, glittery metallic looking earrings right now. I will be posting some of the pieces I make and I may even accomplish a few fancy knots.

As some of you know, I don't make bracelets, but I think these cords would be fun to try in a bracelet, too especially with a big fancy knot in the middle. :) For those of you making paper beads, these are the perfect necklace to wear your beads on. Actually, I am planning to try some paper beads for this cord myself.

EDIT:
I just finished up these earrings and thought I would share my first attempt at any fancy knot. Artistic wire, #4 crimp, seed beads and Mizuhiki cord. These have a great metallic sparkle that doesn't show and they are very light, so they will have lots of light catching movement.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Paper Necklaces

A few posts back, I hinted at an eco friendly necklace- one that is inexpensive, durable, shiny, colorful, versatile and beautiful. Well, here it is:  Paper necklaces.

Metallic Pink Cord
Stone, glass and metal beads
Sterling Silver findings

The pink one pictured above was just made a few days ago. The following were made about 4 years ago and are still holding up after being worn many times.

Artistic Wire and Glass bead with pale pink to green color shift cord
Art Glass beads with color shift metallic bronze to gold cord
More bronze to gold cord and a large smoky quartz
Lime metallic cord with jasper and glass beads
Tomorrow I will discuss these in more detail.