Thursday, February 25, 2010

How They Do That

In the past couple of weeks two different people have asked me about the Japanese ring makers that are used to create seamless metal clay rings. I first heard about them on the Yahoo! Metalclay forum when a group of members put together a large order. At the time these tools were only available in Japan. The difference in Japanese & American sizing numbers and the way the cylinders were meant to be used was so confusing that I just read along, not interested in joining in the fascination.

Now Rio Grande is carrying them with English instructions and even this great little video that I found on You Tube. Finally, after two years, my interest is peaked! I'm kind of considered the ring lady by some of my jewelry making friends and I've found a few ways to make ring shanks that I think work well to make strong durable rings. This little gadget seems too easy to me, too "crafty" to be used by a true artist. But that attitude seems like more of the same prejudice that metal clay enthusiasts are used to hearing from the traditional jewelry world about the alleged simplicity of making fine jewelry from clay. Hmphf! Guess I need to put aside my pre conceived ideas and give these little gem makers a try. Have any of you used them? What do you think?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Whazzat Mean?

An interesting historical factoid from a post this morning on Orchid:

"The term 'findings' comes from the practice of jewelry makers digging around in their bin of scrap metal to "find" a piece that could be made into a clasp, jump ring or whatever. Hence the name. 'findings'. Amazing what tid bits surface here and there to further our understanding!"

Nowadays the term refers to components that are commercially manufactured and sold. Clasps et al that you make yourself are generally not considered 'findings'.

Monday, February 22, 2010


I had such a great weekend! Intro class at The Skirball Museum went great! Then dinner with my dear friend Susan Dilger and Michelle at Chin Chin. Yuuuummmm... Need I say more? Well, yes as a matter of fact. I tried on these cool earrings over the mushu pork and curiously they found their way into my collection.

Sunday was the first time I taught at the Palos Verdes Art Center and that was great too! Wonderful facilities, talented and nice students and a fabulous drive home on Pacific Coast Highway looking at deep purple-y blue, menacing storm clouds superimposed over a Maxfield Parrish sky. Perfect.

This coming weekend I'll be down in Tustin for a two day rings workshop at The Beading Place. First time I've done a two day. We'll be learning about 4 (or more) different ring styles including my famous hollow ring. Wanna come? I'd love to see you! Especially after tomorrow's trip to the ophthalmologist for a new prescription (why are there so many letters in that word).

Friday, February 19, 2010

Welcome to the Carnival...

(One of my first fabrication projects. 4 layers of colored aluminum, pierced and riveted. The red and black snakes were supposed to line up exactly - *that* was difficult. You can see I failed miserably. And thank goodness. It's so much better with them offset a bit. This is one of my most favoritest things that I've ever made. It's now a refrigerator magnet.)

Step right this way... Each month a group of jewelry artists use their blogs to get together online and answer the same question - each in their own way. This month the topic is:

"What is the most difficult piece of jewelry you've ever made and why?"

I'm really not sure I've ever made anything that I'd categorize as difficult. Time consuming, yes. Fiddly, certainly. Frustrating, you betcha! Hm - Well, maybe time consuming, fiddly and frustrating pieces *can* be defined as difficult after all.

With metal clay maybe it was my first box form. I made it with no real instruction, hadn't taken a class and just knew a bit about construction from my old friend Bob Villa. I've learned a lot of tricks from This Old House!

Or maybe it was my PMCC Certification Level 3 hinged box. I was going to take the class at Arrowmont, but found that I couldn't make the first day. All Senior Instructors must be certified in all levels before they are "legal" and I still had that one level to finish. But what to do if I couldn't make it to the venue in time! Well, I got the instructions and just figured it out on my own. Since I had two days to work on it - at home, in my pajamas and without the pressure of a class experience and it's time constraints - I must say I did a fabulous job. It's definitely one of my favorites.

I had made hinges before (also self taught with some insight from Bob) so I knew that portion wouldn't be difficult, but the seam kept splitting, my decoration broke three times and had to be repaired, the tubes for the chain had to be drilled out after firing as I hadn't made them wide enough inside to accommodate the chain I wanted to use - fiddly. Annoying even. But not difficult.

With hard metals fabrication - I've made chain caps, a double loop in loop chain, started a box in copper that was too big for my knowledge and experience (and patience level) and scrapped the idea before it went too far, pierced out quite a few intricate designs with a jewelers saw and learned to solder with "a big girl's torch". All considered difficult at the time.

Perhaps making jewelry is a bit like childbirth. They say that as soon as it's over a Mother forgets all the pain of pushing and just revels in the new life. Never having been a Mother myself, I can't attest to that. But I certainly don't remember giving birth to a particularly difficult piece of silver wear. Just lucky? Or just not advanced enough? I think "difficult" is a combination of the fear created by doing a task for the first time and a lack of skill or experience in that particular activity. Meh! Who cares. I love what I do. I find it relatively easy to do the making, the construction. The *design*? Now that's difficult. But that's also another subject and beyond the scope of this post. (I love saying that)

Make sure to stop by the other Carney's blogs to see what they have to say on the matter:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


While re stocking supplies for my students, one of the brand new brushes fell on the floor and the dang bristles popped right out of the ferrule! Bother!

As I picked it up and started to look at the construction - a light bulb went off. What a great element for one of my Ring a Day projects.

Helga Van Leipsig thinks that this view looks like a tribute to The Sex Pistols. : D

I'm in love.

Such a great use of a found object.

If I do say so myself.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Weekend Eye Candy - Marthe Le Van Edition

Marthe Le Van is the editor of Lark Books and joined in the Flickr based Ring A Day challenge when she noticed the postings on FaceBook. The red straw in the third photo was her first creation.

Marthe says: "I am using the last 10 minutes of each work day to make and photograph a ring. All materials come from the trash can in my office, All tools come from desk drawers. As you can no doubt see, I am a book maker NOT a jewelry maker, but this project is too fun to pass up." Her Frozen Series is fabulous. Variations on "rings" made by pouring food coloring (or perhaps Kool-Aid) into fresh snow.

About "Loose Ends" in image 12 she reveals " I shot this image in my office using natural light. The sun comes through my window really strongly at about 4:30 and only lasts about 5 minutes. I always hope to have my ring finished by then! (The ring is on an matte aluminum surface that I think it's some sort of storage box from Ikea.)"

Now, I'm sure Marthe reallllly knows about photography. All about white balance and depth of field. I'm also pretty sure she's using a great camera and not relying on auto focus as I do. But really! In her office using natural light and a storage box? How does she get these super fantabulous images?! Just goes to show what wonderfully creative things one can come up with using a great imagination, thinking out side the proverbial box, found objects and a little knowledge. I look forward to seeing what Ms. Le Van has come up with every day. Her rings are a real inspiration to me.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I thought I could, I thought I could....

I'm rolling happily along with the Ring A Day project. Kind of. I made all of these shanks while at a play date at Michelle's house; later in the week I made and fired all the metal clay components, and finally soldered the rings together later that same afternoon. Finally this morning I patinated them, took photos and posted to Flickr.

Whew! That was a lot of work, but not really in tune with the theme of making an entire ring per day. My goal was to make a silver ring a day in February, but I realize that I was a bit aggressive in my thinking. I want to make things I can actually sell at my show in June and am not that interested in using my meager supply of sterling and metal clay to make 30 one of a kind experiments - no matter how entertaining, elucidating or educational it might be. So I think I'm back to found objects while throwing in an all silver/metal ring every now and then.

As far as the Month of Earrings challenge started by Vickie Hallmark is going... it's not. I did great for the first five days, using components I already had fired and turning them into jewelry - but now I'm stumped again. I think the next play date (Monday) will find me making components again.

And hey - did you know that over 50 rings are being auctioned off on Ebay to benefit the survivors of the Haiti earthquake. One of mine will be too if I ever get off my butt and send it to the organizer. Read more about it!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Weekend Eye Candy - Lila Ruby King Edition

Lila Ruby King a jewelry maker whose work I've definitely taken notice of on Etsy. And when she started a collaboration with another of my fav's, Mitsy of ArtMind Etcetera, I was hooked. Mitsy makes the porcelain elements and Lila turns them into jewelry.

I've been wanting to take a ceramics class myself so I can make some little components and (almost) can't wait till my enamel workshop is over so I can.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Glad to be Dragged!

What is now many moons ago, I was dragged kicking and screaming into the age of the internet. I had no idea what I'd use a computer for. And was equally scared that I'd just waste my life surfing around looking at odd facts and histories. I've been known to get lost in the dictionary (or the encyclopedia back when everyone had a set in the house) for hours after having "just one little thing" to look up.

The first computer I got was an ancient Apple that someone was giving away. It used to take about ten minutes for the page to change. I'm not kidding. I could get up, make lunch and eat it before the site I had wanted appeared.

Now I don't know what I'd do without one. There are definitely times I get lost in the maze of my cyber world. Surfing blogs, going from this one to that one; looking up just one book and spending hours reading about other titles and going back again and again to Facebook to see what folks are up to. But social networks have turned out to be such great addition to my life. Through FB and Flickr and even Etsy I've either met wonderful, new contacts (as they are known) or expanded what were brief relationships with folks I've only interacted with once or twice IRL. Many of my new friends are talented, giving and a fabulous inspiration to me.

Vickie Hallmark is one of those whose cyber friendship I cherish. Talented, smart (sometimes intimidatingly so), supportive and a wealth of information. I'm so proud of her for doing all she does and how well she does it.

Recently Vickie used the internet (that thing I didn't know how I'd benefit from) to produce two fabulous books of her work. And they're gorgeous! So glad I ordered them. "Birdwatching - a metal clay adventure" is a picture book that shares not only stunning photos of her metal clay, glass and copper birdie themed beads and jewelry but also includes some delightful avian quotes from authors such as Emily Dickinson and Langston Hughes. "Copper On, Copper Off" is an in depth tutorial on the process of electroforming, the method of creating a copper surface on virtually any object using chemicals and electricity.

Vickie created the books at Blurb. Another site whose "pages" are easy to get lost in. I've been thinking of making a book of my own work to take to galleries and just to have on hand. Thanks for the introduction Miss Vickie!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Fire Me Up!

Look at my new little dedicated soldering area! I've spent the last two days rearranging my studiolo, moving things around, hanging shelves, organizing... There are still some office things to find a home for, and of course findings and beads to put away - but I can see the floor and the desktop at the same time! It's a miracle. Okay - overstating a bit.

But I was so excited to put my new space to use that when the kitties woke me up way too early I decided to go with the flow and get to work. With components that had been laying about on my bench I made two rings and two pair of earrings! Woo hoo! Now I have to patina and finish - but breakfast first. And I wanted to share my joy with you all so of course I had to blog!