Tuesday, 22 April 2014

More Progress as of Monday afternoon...

As of mid-yesterday afternoon, the nest had gotten taller. There's a swampy area in the back of the property that looks to be the source of building materials. This is the first time I've ever been able to watch a nest being built. It's absolutely fascinating. Every so often, she flies down to the ground and eats a worm.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Morning 2...

Immense progress has been made on the new home. Seems like this nest-building is all happening early each morning as none of this had been done as of 6 or 7 p.m. last night.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

New neighbours...

Glorious day today. Went outside while brushing my hair and to think about what to rake up next...

Looks like the new neighbours have been busy moving in. I don't remember seeing this yesterday, and for sure it wasn't here two days ago.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Hand-cut Afghanistan Jade & Tinned Copper Earrings...

First use of the tinned copper paddle dangles and circle findings with 8mm Afghanistan jade beads:

Need to work on the dangleability of the beads: the way they got wrapped, the bead on the left is a little too tight to sway freely. As you can see, the beads are not precisely round, and they are a gorgeous pale milky, mottled green, slightly lighter than in this photo, which was taken at the market under fluorescent lighting.

I finished them off with Argentium sterling earwires with nuts.

Thanks for looking!

Friday, 4 April 2014

Always Make Detailed Notes of What You Make...

Even two days later, I need to refer to them. Last night's set of paddles were made with 16 gauge wire, and 18 gauge wire for the figure-8s with a twist. For comparison, the figure-8 chain above and on the table below were made with 16 gauge wire.

Last night's Netflix and hammered wire output:

These are quite small -- 1/2" and 5/8" paddles and 3/8" twisted figure 8 connectors. I'll play with them tomorrow at the market, stringing them with a bead soup of miscellaneous beads. Stay tuned for more photos.

Now to get my notes along with representative samples compiled into a notebook or binder. That is my downfall -- keeping track of my notes in one logical place... and labelled.

Thanks for looking!

Monday, 31 March 2014

Hammered Tinned Copper Paddles...

No idea what I'm going to do with these yet, but I had fun watching Crossing Lines on Netflix and pounding the snot out of little bits of wire. I find I get caught up in making a pile of components and then figuring out later what to do with them. Makes for a lot of waste, I know.

It's also a sad commentary on movies and TV shows that I am able to not focus on the show a half to two-thirds of the time and still follow the action -- or more accurately, not really care if I've missed anything -- although I did like this show better than most. Love the locations, and love the mix of languages mostly without subtitles, the assumption being that most people watching (Crossing Lines is a European production) will understand. The one thing I delighted in while living in Italy was the seamless switching between languages that so many people I met were capable of. Not me, though. Alas, I am a linguistic dolt.

My Sunday afternoon/evening production:

I used 16 gauge tinned copper wire cut at 1/8" intervals starting at 3/4". The maximum length using 16 gauge wire is 1-1/2" before the paddles get too flimsy to be used for anything. After hammering, once I made the loop, the overall length was about the same as when I cut it. The single long paddle on the right I did as a "bone". Today I want to make copper paddles, but will also make tinned copper bones, but, as noted below, I'll be using 14 gauge rather than 16.

Close-up of the shorter wires as they will look strung on cord:

The short paddles on the top left I did in 14 gauge and I recommend that as the better gauge to make these in.

I really like the way the copper starts to bleed through at the ends. The blackish gunge will come off with a polishing cloth.

I cut the wires to length with memory wire cutters to get a good squared end. Flush cutters cut at an angle and when hammering the ends get super flimsy and sharp which will mean taking a lot of extra time to file them off. Always check the ends for sharp pickies, anyway. The last thing you want to have happen is some irate customer coming back demanding you replace their shirt or sweater, or worse, complaining that they cut themselves while wearing something you've made.

Another note is that I don't hammer on the same table my computer or phone is on. There is also plenty of cushioning underneath the anvil/bench block. I use a folded tea towel. Here is my multitasking setup, although when I'm hammering, I keep the table bare of anything that will jump around and fall on the floor:

Further notes about the wire I'm using here. I love tinned copper for its pewtery and tribalish looks, that it's relatively inexpensive and that it is NOT coated. This wire is from Artistic Wire. Note that you canNOT use "non-tarnish" wire. Non-tarnish means there is a clear plasticky type of coating on the wire, which will crack and fray when it's hammered. You need bare wire. I get 14 gauge copper wire at the hardware store in the electrical department where I can buy it by the foot off a big roll. It comes as seven wires twisted together and I think I remember the guy telling me it's used for wiring stoves.

I keep old raggedy leather winter gloves to use for straightening wires.

There's also another type of wire in the electrical department with about 5 wires twisted together (has a black rubber-like coating that is easy enough to peel off after slicing down the length of the wires with a box cutter) but what's great  is that one of the wires is around 8 or 10 gauge (the others are around 18 gauge), really useful for making pendants or large focals. Canadian Tire, Home Hardware, Home Depot, Lowe's... there are many places to get copper wire.

Thanks for looking!

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Skull Bracelets & Necklaces

I made these yesterday while watching Downton Abbey.

I had made the skull & noose bracelet, sent a picture to the customer I had in mind, he ordered it in a necklace version. I had in the meantime dug out those patinaed brass tubes that I've had for years and never used, made a skull necklace version for his approval, as well as two long necklaces, one with an asymmetrical wire-wrapped section of 6 mm quartz crystals and one with 6 mm Indian agate (which I got from Nelson Gemstones).

This morning I sent out the necklace picture and got another order for the plain skull bracelet.

Downton Abbey done for now, I've got The Unit cued up and ready to go as soon as I track down some lunch... or maybe it's an early dinner now. Yes -- yikes, it's almost 2:30. Then it's back to making skully things.

Multitasking central:

Hope you're all having a productive week. Thanks for looking!

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Variations on a Teardrop Chain...

After seeing this chain on Pinterest this morning...

Tutorial for a handmade chain, from Lampwork Etc., tutorial available here.

...I was meandering around in my mind as I often do wondering how I could improve on this. Because I tend to not like "open-ended" anything -- if for no other reason than I have long hair that gets caught in everything, not to mention if I'm wearing anything expensive or precious, it's guaranteed gonna get snagged and ruined -- I came up with this variation where the round loop carries to wrap and contain the teardrop end.

I have been making a lot of wire "bone" chains in copper and decided to try this new chain in tinned copper, my other go-to metal since I'm also using a lot of handmade, raw and matte stones, pewter pendants and coin silver anything these days. FYI, I was at Arton Beads in Toronto the other day and noticed that while a bit shiny it's a grey shiny: their white gold plated jump rings actually have a pewterish colour to them, which makes them a bit more blendy than regular silver-plated jump rings with the tinned copper wire.

After a bit of experimenting with the wire and pliers (I arbitrarily picked 20 gauge wire for this, and worked off an 18-24" piece of wire) this is what I came up with. At about 1/2", I found the little ones are too stumpy, although they'd make nice dangles for something with another bead hanging from them. The longer links forming the chain run from 5/8" to 3/4" in length.

This now kinda looks like barbed wire to me... which is interesting, because one of my intentions is to make more guy-ish jewellery and this would make a cool bracelet or choker/necklace for guys and not be that expensive. Looked up barbed wire images on Google and found this...

Bwcollage1 well as all kinds of jewellery with barbs... so I guess I'm a little late to the party. Story of my life.

Pretty simple. Also the hammering isn't that loud. Tinned copper wire is very soft and it only requires a few taps to work-harden the links.

Pix are fairly self-explanatory. Let the wire poke out a bare 1/2", then wrap the wire around your pliers.

Bend wire straight back at a 45 degree angle, and 45 degrees to the plane of the teardrop loop.

Do a regular wrapped loop...

(After you've completed your first link and before completing your wrapping on the second link, don't forget to string the first teardrop to start the chain.)

Wrap three times. Cut the wire so that when you squeeze it in, the cut end will line up between the two parallel wires at the top of the teardrop shape. Try to goosh it down in between the two wires a bit. Use a file to smooth off any rough edges.

Ready to hammer... voila.

Chain in progress & some variations:

I had some 6/0 seed beads handy, so I tried a few links with them. You'll need to straighten out the wires at the top of the teardrop so they're parallel and squash them flat a bit to get them both into the seed bead, then complete the wrap up top. Be careful to wrap firmly but not too tightly or you'll break the bead.

Then I got to thinking... my barbed wire has turned into a noose... This would make a nice earring.

This is the part of making something where things get a little fuzzy: as in, have I started to lose the concept? Does this still read as, say, a stylised barbed wire chain, or a noose design... or is it kind of a nothing now with the skulls included???

I'll send this to one of my guy customers and get his input.

What are you working on these days? Thanks for looking!

Thursday, 20 March 2014

March 2014 GEM EXPO Photos... finally

I've had to take my computer in to have XP wiped and 2007 installed, and forgot to transfer all my edited photos to a thumb drive so I could load them onto my new backup laptop, a refurbished and fully loaded Dell Inspiron that I got for a real deal from Anibal at PC Farm in Toronto. Personally, except for the all-important portability, I've never seen the point of laptops. To see the screen, the computer has to be elevated so high I can't type on it, I have to add a keyboard so I can achieve some blistering speed, not to mention a mouse, which equals even greater speed and accuracy. And there's my footpedal and head phones, and by the end of it, I seriously don't see the point. To lug all this around would require a suitcase on wheels at least.

Blech. But it works.

In the meantime, here are the pictures from the March 2014 iteration of The Gem Expo, which was a total hoot. Many vendors predicted a slow Friday, but attendance was way up and continued all through the weekend. I saw many familiar faces and made new friends and I hope customers for life. I got the sense that we all did well in terms of sales -- I sold out of several styles of beads and quite a few pieces of my jewellery which was truly gratifying.

I stayed again at the Strathcona Hotel on York Street (across the street from the Royal York, which is itself across Front Street from Union Station) and walking distance to the main tourist and sports venues, if anyone is planning a home game weekend). The Strath Pub grub hit the spot each night after a full day on my feet.

To me there is nothing in the world like an icy Alexander Keith's...

Crispy Coconut Shrimp with Thai dipping sauce...

Neither of which lasted long... These are soooooooooooo good!

The shrimp were Friday night. Saturday night I was debating whether to have the lobster quesadilla again, but I finally decided to try out the Strath Hamburger. It was very, very good, with a profound grilled flavour. Yes, I ate the whole thing, I was that hungry.

Also good enough to eat are my beads... On the left is Ruth's mother's homemade chicken and rice soup with cilantro, and shredded vegetables. I ate so healthily at this show thanks to her mom and for which I am profoundly grateful. Anyone who does away shows knows how difficult it is to eat properly. Those luscious blue beauties are ginormous chunks of raw lapis with very clean 2mm holes. Imagine blue chocolate... that's how delicious these look.

I was given the loan of a magazine with an article documenting the lapis lazuli mining process as it is still conducted today. Absolutely mind-boggling. The photo shows a man about to hike a day or more down the mountain with a 100 kilo chunk of lapis on his back. And we complain about how tired we are after a day sitting in front of a computer. Us and our first world problems, eh?

The sense I got when I received these chunky lapis beads from Nelson Gemstones was that I was holding the mountain in my hands. They really are something.

Shots of the table as you would see it coming from three different directions. I was kind of up at the top of the T when you come in the ballroom door...

The layout of the grids was perfect. This is definitely the way to do it. People can get right up to the beads, and there was sufficient lighting, as well. I also used the bed risers on the tables, as well. It also helps to be situated near another vendor who has really good floodlighting -- that glow of light you see on the table coming out from the wall is actually from Rainbow Beads, who in terms of lighting were still a considerable distance along the wall, but that's how powerful their floodlights were.

Shots of some of the beads... this is my loose bead table.

Detailed photos. If there's anything that looks intriguing to you, email me for availability/price.

Thank you again to all my returning and new customers. You really do make the show for me and I look forward to seeing you all again. Email me with any questions and comments.

Thanks for looking and see you at the July 2014 GEM EXPO!

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Wow. Check this out...

I just read this blog post I'm subscribed to on how to reach and connect with potential customers, and for some reason this one has really resonated with me. Funny how that works, eh? Substitute "jewellery" or "furniture" or anything for "art" and it still works.

For some reason, when I'm writing, I think in image, colour and shape, but when I'm drawing, painting or even making jewellery, I'm thinking in words.

Thanks for looking!