Sunday, December 27, 2009

Finishing Up Old Projects and Clearing Out Inventory in a Most Fun Way

In an attempt to use up what I have before bringing in new stuff, I am going through my drawer (and it’s a big drawer) of WIP (aka Works in Progress). Y’know… things I started and for some reason never finished.

Some of them excite me: “Oh man, I forgot all about that… that is such a cool (fill in the blank). I can’t wait to finish it.”

While others are: “Wow, I have no motivation to finish that… wonder if I should give it away (speak up now if you wanna see the list of things I’m willing to give away) or if that would just be an embarrassment to my reputation.”

Anyway, there was one pair of earrings that are probably something along the lines of “only a mother could love”, but BEING that mother (as it were)… I do like them. :-) So I am trying to finish them (they needed a coating of polyurethane) and will list them. What the heck. Maybe there’s someone else out there with similar taste to mine.

I’ll show you them when I get a photo… right now still waiting for coat #1 to dry… ugh!

I’m having a big sale on the website right now. Six pieces are already gone. Here are some that are left (wait until you see the prices… you won’t believe your eyes). Keep in mind, the Lampwork you see in our creations is never mass-produced imports. They are all fully annealed and cleaned, lovingly made glass art by people we know and trust.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

My First Torched Enamel Pieces

Had a fabulous class today. Torch Enameling by Steven James.

Here’s what I made in this half day class:

Considering this is the first time I've used enamels like this, I think the results are okay. This is a skill I plan to continue working on to improve. I really like it.

Learned a lot this weekend that will help me in my attempt to minimalize by studio set-up as well as continue in a greener direction with everything. I’ll touch on these things in future posts.

On Nov 13th's blog post, Melanie-Pearl commented: L.O.V.E. the colors! WOW!!!!!!!!!!! you know what's funny about that riveted jump ring---i just paid $100 for link-lock jump rings yesterday. i'm going to use them on some custom orders i'm putting together. i figured the expense was worth it because i don't won't to be repairing these orders for life. (they have enamelling on them so i don't want to solder them shut.) i can hardly imagine setting a hundred tiny rivets in tiny jump rings. did you need a microscope? :)

Ha! Thanks for the compliment, Melanie. I, too, love the colors, but I don’t think I can sell any of these creations until I do a LOT of testing… the first thing we were told in class is that these colors are temporary. Hmph! They won’t FADE, but they will eventually WEAR. I want to define “eventually” a little more… and I want to test out a variety of coatings in an attempt to make the longevity of the jewelry a bit more.

Wow… that’s a lot of link-locks you bought, but they sure look like they’d come in handy. I hope you bought them at somewhere like OttoFrei ‘cause I just saw some somewhere else for $4.55 each. Eek!

Too funny about the microscope. :-) It wasn’t as dreadful to do as it looks. The jumpring is actually 19mm, so it’s pretty big. I might try making a few for a more industrial-type necklace. We’ll see.

BTW, I love the rings in your blog today. You rock!


Friday, November 13, 2009

What I made in color and patina class

Had a “Color and Patina” class at B.A.B.E. today. Here’s what I made…

That last thing is a cold-riveted jumpring (which I liked so much I’m using it as a pinky ring!).

Tomorrow is torch enameling.

I have more to talk about regarding green and stuff… but right now I’m exhausted and heading to bed.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Some new listings using old beads

Thanks Tina, for posting a comment about the size of photos on monitors!

Okay, let's see… what green things have I done lately? I haven't done too much of anything, green or not, because hockey has occupied me for many days in a row. But I should have some time this weekend to work on more projects.

And I have a package from Thompson Enamel at the leasing office… hope I remember to pick it up after my walk home (I'll be listening to the Sharks game on the radio). I don't really remember what I ordered, but I'm sure it will be fun. I also need to find my actual enamels.

Well, at least I got the "Large Handcrafted Bronze Textured Earrings" listed.

And then drawing from my bead stash, here are other new listings...

Faceted Amethyst and Citrine Large Beads Necklace with Sterling Silver

Turquoise and Sterling Silver One of a Kind Necklace

Bracelet of SRA Boro Lampwork Beads in Green with Blue Accents and Swarovski Crystals

Bold SRA Lampwork Glass Art Beads Bracelet in Red and Black with Bali Sterling Silver

And I got started on the listings for my new idea.

Oh, here are two large silver beads I made… they are sub-par so I'm keeping the bracelet for myself, but I do plan to try this some more. I like big beads.

Okay, I'll be back later with more updates of green stuff. TTYL!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Color Correction in Adobe Photoshop (and/or Elements)

Melanie-Pearl said... oh geez! you have downstairs neighbors? haha. it's a good thing you stick with metal clays! if you get a stump be sure it was cut awhile ago or leave it out to dry for awhile. otherwise it will mold on your floor.

thanks for all of your photos ideas and for sharing your secrets! i would never have known what a difference this stuff makes without seeing it illustrated on your blog. i am still amazed.

as usual, one hobby leads to another...guess I get to learn more about color correcting, etc. now.

Well, I’m glad I have something that I can share with people. I’ve picked up so much from the internet, books, classes, etc.

But wow… that photo on your October 8th blog entry. What a gorgeous creation!

Anyway, here’s a bit of how I do my color correction.

As mentioned in a previous post, I put a small, stark white piece of “something” into the frame of each jewelry photo I take (in the example photo, I used an earring card).

I have done nothing to the above photo other than make it a size that fits here. Otherwise, it’s raw, straight from the camera.

I do CTRL+L, which brings up a “levels” pop-up box. If it’s in the way, you can just grab the top and move it over out of the way.

You can see three eyedroppers on the right-hand side of the pop-up. The left eyedropper represents black, the middle one is gray, and the far right one is for white. White is the one I use most often.

Click on the white (far right) eyedropper, then click on an area in the photo that is supposed to be white. I often try a few different spots, while keeping my eye on the jewelry, reminding myself that what I’m after is for the jewelry to be the same color and shade in the photo as the jewelry that is right there next to me at the computer with a good light (preferably OTT) on it so I can see it clearly and accurately.

The rest is just cropping and adding a watermark, etc.

Here’s what before and after look like together.

The concept behind “color correction” is that you are putting something into the photo that you can tell the photo software exactly what color it is. So instead of having to tell the software exactly what shade of yellow that bead is. You just say, “See that? That is white. Make THAT white and everything else will become properly colored according to it.”

Make sense?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

More Details on My Photo Set-Up

Melanie-Pearl said... Wow! What a remarkable difference! It looks like a totally different bracelet. Did you take that photo on a plain piece of paper---Hope you don't mind me asking--- or is that some effect that makes it look mirrored?

Thanks, Melanie! And no, I don’t mind you asking at all. I love sharing techniques for doing things.

The top photo was taken on my usual gradient paper (which I’ll explain in a second)…

... while the photo underneath it was taken on an actual stand (details to follow).

The thing that impresses me, though, is that the bracelet itself seems to have better focus on the bottom photo.

In this photo, you can see the entire sheet of gradient paper.

So, the details…

I made the gradient paper myself (after months of searching in art supply and craft stores… I probably should have tried photography stores).

Here’s the URL for it if others want to try printing one off quickly.

It may look “weird” on your computer monitor… but I think if you right click on it and save it to your hard drive before printing it… well, I don’t really know… maybe it works either way just fine.

Anyway, I print on glossy photo paper.

The second item I shoot on is a slightly reflective “stand”. Let me go see if I can find the vendor….

Ah… it’s the “silver riser” from Table-Top Studios.

BTW, that’s a great idea in your about the tree stump. I just realized my downstairs neighbors probably have no clue what I’m doing on “hammering nights”. Eek!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Lots of Enameling Questions and Thoughts

So… I wanted to finally try enameling. Not the kind I'd done before (on glass beads), but on metal… like my own metal creations.

So this weekend I made some bronze bases that I will try enameling on. I know copper is more traditional, but is there a REASON bronze wouldn't work just as well? I will research this before trying it. (ETA: So far, the only reason I could come up with for not preferring to enamel on bronze is that the translucent enamels might get cloudy… but I think that was if there's zinc in the alloy… if it's just 90% copper and 10% tin, this might not happen anyway. Now, seeing as how I favor the opaques, I'm going to continue on with my experimenting.

Here, btw, is a photo I took of one pair of earrings that came out of the kiln this morning. The photo is with my phone… I'll take a much better photo before listing these (unless I decided to experiment with them instead of sell them).

It's a small(ish) photo because I was trying to make the picture the same size as the earrings.

But while we're on the subject, I'll ask a question: will a fixed sized photo be the same size on everyone's monitor? Like, if the beads in those earrings are 1¾ inches tall and I make my jpg so that on MY computer, the earring beads in the photo measure 1¾ inches on my monitor… will they ever be NOT 1¾ inches on someone's monitor?

Anyway, back to enameling… I did want to try torch enameling prior to kiln enameling for two reasons. One, I didn't want to ramp my kiln all the way up to 1500 for a few minutes of work at a time… and two, I really need to be able to SEE the enamel so I can get a feel for how long to fire it.

I was happy to see that my Messermeister culinary torch goes up to 2700 degrees. That's what they say, anyway. Shrug. Maybe a little kitchen torch is okay for tiny pieces. We'll see.

Some basic questions I have about enameling probably seem ridiculous to seasoned enamellers, but they are just things I either don't get or want to be sure of.

Like… you do multiple sets of coating/firing. If you're not doing counter-enameling, do you just leave the back side black until after the final firing or do you have to clean it between each firing?

Also, if different enamel colors require different firing times, then I'm assuming you don't put all your colors on and fire them all at once, right? But you also can't do each one separately because when you go to fire color 2, you'll be messing up color 1, won't you?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

More about my do-it-yourself photo cube

Due to the overwhelming positive response to my last entry, tonight I’m going to expound on the photo cube a bit.

Here are two photos of the same bracelet. The first photo was shot with my previous $100 photo cube:

The second with the new cube:

The difference may appear slight, but to me the second shot is MUCH closer to what I’m after. I wasn't happy with the inability to achieve very fine focus with my previous tent... and I think it's because it was so large that the light sources were too far from the object, thus messing up the focusing ability of the camera (I can't use manual focus because of my weird eyesight… don’t ask).

So a clear photo is all I care about, really. The low price of the new photo cube was just a bonus.

Lampshades come in all shapes and sizes; I may pick up a second one for a slightly different effect. The only thing I had to make sure of was that the metal crossbars were flush with the top of the shade...

Like this:

Rather than recessed like this:

Here is one of my shots, without any photo-editing yet... this is just how it comes out of the camera... so you can see my set-up.

The camera is on a tripod and I shoot pretty much straight down into the lamp top.

The piece of paper in there is regular 8x10 inch.

I use something dead white in the shot (you can see it next to the earrings) so that I can color correct.

My camera lens, although set to macro, is still a good 10 or so inches from the earrings.

But because I can get my lights so close to the earrings, here's how the photo turns out...

Monday, September 28, 2009

DIY Photo Cube for $6... and some new Metal Clay pieces

So… did some “green” things (well, in my book anyway).

Aside from the jewelry I made with my current bead stash (see this post from my Laura Bracken blog), I made some jewelry out of metal clay… yay!

Not listed yet…

Traded for beads…

This past weekend, I also gave up on my tent sized photo cube. The light sources were just too far away.

So I went to Ross’ and bought a lampshade for $6.

It had a white liner material and a tan outer material. I removed the tan outer material.

Then I was left with a strong frame with diffusing material on it and the cube is small enough to get my light sources (two Ott lights and a fluorescent photo light) closer to the object.

See the camera on top… shooting straight down into the improvised photo cube?

Anyway, Gabe wants the internet so I’m going to say goodbye. Hope to check in next time without as much time between.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Just a quick update

I think I'm getting closer to what is it that I want to put into or add to my jewelry that will make it distinctly mine. Unfortunately, it won't be anything visually noticeable (I don't think). It has more to do with how a piece FEELS… or how it feels when worn.

Sigh… so hard to describe. But it feels right to me so I'm going with it.

Today's Friday and there's no hockey so I'll be heading over to Hadar's for class (after I check the website to make sure she's in town). I need s'more PMC standard so I can finish my pendant… would like to have finished my leaf necklace before I go. Might be a possibility.

Gem show this weekend. Heh… another big day of temptation (except it's worse this time because I actually HAVE some spending money).

These guys do really nice work on recycled clothing. Check 'em out!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

PMC Silver Leaves in Progress

My big dilemma this weekend is what setting to use on the kiln to fire my PMC standard.

As you may recall, when I followed the “optimal” firing schedule for my first batch of PMC+ (1650 F for two hours), I killed the silver.

I took the other half of what I’d made (but hadn’t yet fired) and fired it at a lower temp (1110 F) for 45 minutes. Pretty drastic change, I know… but once you’ve obliterated half a package of silver metal clay, you become fairly cautious.

If the melting point of Bronze is 1743 and I fire at 1480, that means I’m firing at 263 degrees below the melting point. So if the melting point of fine silver is 1760, I should be able to fire at 1497.

But there’s another way to look at it. If I’m supposed to fire Bronze at 1540, then I’m dialing down by 60 degrees. With that reasoning, I’d want to fire my silver at 1590 (60 degrees below the normally recommended schedule).

I think maybe I’ll test fire a piece before putting my “goodies” in the kiln.

So I made a tiny little snake and put him in at 1590 F for two hours. Wish me luck!

Okay, the snake came out appearing fine. So fine, in fact, I didn’t have the heart to break him open and see if I can recognize a “sintered” versus a “not fully sintered” piece. I took the other thing I’d been working on—a piece of plastic from the throat guard of Monica’s helmet… that broke off when a hard shot came at her earlier this year… and she wanted to keep the piece rather than throw it away… so I filed it down and smoothed it out and drilled a hole in it. I put the snake on top of the plastic pendant and put both onto a sterling silver chain to be worn as a necklace.

I just realized I can’t fire my silver pendant because I need a smidge more clay to finish it and I don’t have a smidge. That will have to wait, then, until I pick up some more PMC Standard. As for the leaves… I drilled my holes (after making a quick decision whether they’d hang or be used as connectors) and stuck ‘em in the kiln.

A few hours later and they’re out. They don’t appear as white as the snake was. They actually seem rather dark gray (like that first, burnt batch), but they seem to have retained their shape. Next is cooling them, then rinsing and burnishing to see what I have.

Then I took one leaf and burnished it.

Then put a patina on it.

Then polished off most of the patina… but I have to clean up now and get ready to photograph ‘cause I have to go to Mon’s scrimmage at six and I’m going to swing by X-Sport first to get her a stick (she broke her only stick during last night’s practice).

Next steps are working on my peacock and putting together my silver leaf necklace.

I have a small set of charms to give away, too… just one Chinese pendant and two leaf charms that could be earrings.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A bunch of Bronze Clay Items and My First Package of PMC Standard

Went to Hadar's last night and used an entire package (20g) of silver clay. How nerve-wracking!

I made a "quilted" pendant and five leaves.

I still need to file, add a tube bail to the pendant, and drill holes in the leaves. Then I'll fire it all and hope for the best.

I have to leave the apartment later this afternoon (to take Monica to hockey), so I really have a lot to do this morning. I hope I have time to finish my silver and get it fired before I have to leave.

The rest of today's post is copied from my Laura Bracken blog, so if you've already read it there, no need to continue.

So here’s a mish-mash of results, in no particular order…

Sorry for the blurry photo. Can’t remember if I mentioned it out loud or not, but I wanted to revisit the charms I made in this bracelet…

… but this time polish them up. Here’s how they are straight from the kiln, except for the top one which I’ve begun to polish…

And here are the tube ribbons out of the kiln (the top two are semi-polished).

I started to run out of some of my dremel bits. I am on my last mini fiber wheel (will have to stock up on those). So I tried a different tool in its place…

… I’m afraid I have no clue what this tool is for. It did absolutely nothing on my metal clay. Ha!

Now here are two bronze bead caps straight out of the kiln.

Then I polished them, one more than the other. I prefer the one on the left (semi-polished), but again I don’t know how long the natural kiln patina will last.

Here’s Mr. Peacock right out of the kiln. His eyeball fell out. I’m guessing that once the cork form burnt out there was nothing to hold the eye in so now it’s mixed in with my charcoal (needle in a haystack).

Here’s Mr. Peacock after a first go-over with a couple dremel bits.

Here’s a leaf pendant. I made this at Hadar’s class last week while I was waiting for my charms to dry.

Here are two charms (I made these when I made Monica’s earrings... did I ever get a photo of those?) straight from the kiln.

I have since polished them up and put them on chains as small pendants. I’ll photo and list them, along with another copper/bronze piece that I’ve apparently forgotten to take a quick photo of.