Friday, July 31, 2009

To polish or not to polish... and photographing only once a week is a drag

The quilted pendant sold today. Yay! I feel good about that because that is definitely on the "greener" side of my going green jewelry.

Here's something interesting. All but one of the bronze metal clay jewelry we've sold so far has been polished. In light of the fact that we're told patina from the kiln doesn't last, I find that heartening.

I'm thinking of making an identical set of charms as in this bracelet, but polishing them.

Here's the latest from the kiln. Notice I only buffed one of the charms so far.

But now I have to make some of those decisions. Do I leave them au natural or do I buff them? Do I use them in something or try to sell them as components?

From the same kiln batch, I did get those tubes that I made earrings with. Maybe tonight or tomorrow I get to my weekly photo session and then I can show you those as well as all the jewelry I made in my spare minutes here and there.

I got out my box of cords (silk ribbon, suede, etc) and made one necklace (that I like) ready for a pendant. I was thinking of putting one of those electroplated leaves on it, but then I wanted to add a green bead to the pendant and in looking through my box of green gemstone beads I grabbed some for project #2… which was a simple but eye-catching necklace.

I really need to start digging into my gemstone boxes. I have a ton of beads I've been wanting to use.

I am sketching out an idea for something that's probably over my head, but I'm going to have a go at it nonetheless. I'm making something inspired by one of Tiffany's stained glass creations. I'll try to get photos along the way… it won't be a one-day project. Actually, I have to put some "ahead of time" thought into certain parts of it so I'm not left… without the right configuration(s). Some of it will be tricky… and I will need things to "lay" a certain way in order for it to look right in the end. Well, I'll keep you posted.

Comment from Alex: I admired your restraint at the show today, you followed through with your vow and didn't cave...good on ya!

And it IS a real gift, and a sentimental one which makes it that much more special to me. I remember helping you pick out the stamps...we had a great time that day!

Thanks! That day will also always remind me of my self-indulgent back massager. Ha ha ha! I love it!!!

And yeah, it really was hard not buying any beads at the gem show, but I really want to give this project a good go. Was Anil there?

Comment from Beth Boal: Definitely looking forward to that "why" installment...

Hi Beth! I certainly hope the "why" didn't disappoint. Wish me luck!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Bead Show and a Small Gift

First super big test today… went to a bead/gem show. There were lots of beads I felt I “had” to have, but that’s just being greedy, I guess. I mean, I already have a ton of beautiful beads at home. I’m not against having things around you because you find them pretty and they make you happy, but I think over-doing it (for me, anyway) is not a good thing.

I was thinking, today, about other ways, no matter how small, that I am taking responsibility for reducing my carbon footprint.

I think it’s important to realize that all steps, no matter how little, count and matter. After all, a bucket full of water is nothing more than millions of little drops of water, and a bucket of water can put out a fire (or other things… I was just trying to make a visual analogy… sorry, it kinda sucked).

Our new apartment is 1½ miles from where I work, so I gave up my parking spot (that’s a ka-ching savings too!) and now I walk to work. Good for me (three miles a day) and good for the environment.

We recycle at home. Maybe not as much as we could, but there’s more recycling than garbage. I will try to be more diligent about washing out more of the boxes and cans in order to add them to the recycle bin.

Except on the rare occasion, we don’t buy water in those disposable plastic bottles. I’m better at that than the kids are, but I need to be a bit firmer with them… help them along.

Okay, back to jewelry. Got some bronze things out of the kiln last night. Made a pair of earrings with one set of tubes, not sure yet what I’m going to do with the other things… mostly charms.

I finally added the patina (the darkness into the recesses) to the piece I wanted to give Alex. It’s more of a sentimental piece than a real gift. Alex and I went shopping one day and I had a really nice time with her. She’s good people. Anyway, she helped me decide on some stamps I wanted to use for bronze clay so I made a pendant using one of the stamps.

I forgot to take a picture before I met her for lunch today, so I snapped a quick pic with my phone….

Well, it’s 9:30 and tomorrow’s a work day (aren’t they all?), so I’m going to clean up a bit and think about getting into bed.

I’ll try to get some pics of the other clay items as soon as possible. TTYL!

My first "green" pieces and an upcoming temptation

So, here’s the first batch of jewelry made using my current stash of beads…

These are all (except one bracelet that already sold) available at BrackenDesigns.

I have one more piece to list. It’s one where I actually made the component (the pendant)…

... also, the clasp is a refurbished earring. I didn't have any brass or copper clasps (or wire), so I took an old earring, cannibalized it, and tada!

In a couple hours, I’ll be at a large bead/gem show in Santa Clara… There will be some suffering (a bead ho unable to buy beads), but I will stick to my purpose. I must not be a bead glutton merely out of desire. I’m going for two reasons. One, I meeting up with my good friend, Alex. Love spending time with her! And two, I’m looking for a particular kind of bead for a friend who can’t get them where she is.

At Hadar’s Friday night, I made some tube beads. They didn’t all come out of the kiln the way I wanted (y’know… perfect), but two of them are pretty cool so I took those two, buffed ‘em up a bit, and am making them into earrings. I hope to have photos to show you later.

I also patina’d the recesses of a pendant I wanted to give Alex, but I just realized… it’s bronze… bronze has copper in it. If she’s allergic to copper, she probably can’t wear bronze either. We’ll she can hang it in her workshop as a decoration maybe.

Okay, Bear’s giving me the evil eye so I’d better take him out for his morning walk. I’ll report back later about how the bead show was. TTYL!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Day 2... or 364 to go...

Okay, where was I? Oh yeah, you want to know why.

I’m a big believer in intuition… following it, that is. Sometimes I feel the intuition before I understand it, though.

For a while now (years, actually), I’ve had a little feeling in the back of my creative spirit that I wasn’t following the exact right path. Close, but not exact.

But you know how it is… if you don’t know what it is you’re supposed to be doing, how can you do it?

I have huge respect for beaders. I laugh at those who think beaded jewelry is synonymous with assembly jewelry. Beading requires the ability to recognize quality components, to design visually appealing creations, and to craft a long-lasting, comfortable, balanced piece of jewelry.

I love beading. I truly enjoy it with a deep passion and enthusiasm. But over the past few years I’ve begun to feel dissatisfied with my direction. Something seemed to be lacking in the process of buying beads (even if by other self-representing artists) and stringing them into artistic creations.

I had my first hint of a solution to this gnawing dissatisfaction when I realized how much happier I was if “I” had made the components in the piece of jewelry. Although I haven’t taken making my own components to an extreme (yet), I knew it was important but it wasn’t quite all.

I continued to think about many things, but it wasn’t until recently that one of those things “clicked”… felt right… felt like it’s something I’m supposed to be doing.

I’m not sure I can put it into exact words, though. But I can at least say it has something to do with recycling… or reusing… or otherwise trying to decrease my carbon footprint.

Sometimes when a problem is overwhelming, it’s easy to have the idea that whatever you do, it won’t be enough… it won’t make one bit of difference. We all know that’s wrong thinking in pretty much every instance, but I think big things tend to overwhelm individual human beings. We don’t think collectively. We are groomed to think ego-centrically. “If I can’t fix the whole problem, I don’t want to even try.”

But I am going to think collectively. I’m going to think that if I can do a little to help reduce waste, then I’m helping rather than causing more problem. I am responsible for myself.

I’m not big on bandwagon-jumping, but this is a trend I’m not only embracing… I’m also promoting.

I know I’m not the first, won’t be the last and I’ll never be the best… but I can do MY PART to reduce the carbon footprint.

A couple weeks ago, I caught an episode of one of those cooking, reality shows where chefs’ creations are judged by a panel of experts. Prior to the tasting, each chef was to give a little spiel about the dish they had prepared and served. When one chef talked about the “healthy” aspects of her meal there was much frowning. The experts said (paraphrasing), “Don’t tell me how nutritious this is for me as though that’s the selling point. The selling point should be what I think as I taste it, the flavors of the food. If the dish happens to be healthy, and that’s something that interests me, then that’s a bonus, but it’s NOT the selling point.”

I want to make jewelry the way I feel I must, but I don’t people to buy or be interested in it BECAUSE it’s an attempt to reduce my carbon footprint. I want people to be attracted to my creations as art, first and foremost. And for the record, when I say “art”, I don’t mean it in any kind of hugely important or esoteric way. Just art… like all creations. Not “artiste”… just artist.

Aside from thinking about working with recycled components, aside from thinking about the quality and strength of my piece, aside from thinking about how balanced my piece will be on the neck or wrist, aside from all of that, I MUST remember that art is art and if my creations don’t speak to others on some level then it’s all for nothing.

Can a beader go for a year without buying any beads? How would I make jewelry?

1) I can work my way through my gluttonous, already existent stash
2) I can make beads and components from polymer clay that I have and I would continue to buy Hadar’s metal clays
3) I can use recycled components from around the house, including jewelry from my extensive personal collection

While I was thinking about this, I saw a new beading component in a magazine and I thought to myself, “Oh, I should stock up on this before I begin my adventure”. Then I realized that would be like “starting my diet tomorrow”. There is no tomorrow. There is only now. I am starting now.

I even went to a bead store today… didn’t buy one single bead (even though Rubies were 30% off… Aaaaaaaaaa!!!). I bought liver of sulfur.

I haven’t made any jewelry since this started (yesterday), so I have nothing to show you yet… but I’m doubting it’ll be anything too weird to start with. Like I said, I have a ton of beads here.

Okay, talk to you later!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Welcome to "Going Green Jewelry"

I'm actually kind of tired tonight (long day), so this won't be a very auspicious first post.

The bare bones of what I'm doing here is the following project: I, notorious beader and ho of all things bead-related, am going to try to go for one year without purchasing any beads.

Now, before you think I may end up in a loony bin from the effects of withdrawal, let me assure you there are several ways to get my hands on beads without purchasing any.

1) I have a stash. Maybe not huge, but one that definitely needs whittling down.

2) I will continue to trade and barter (I often trade finished jewelry for lampwork).

3) I can make beads (some anyway).

4) I am allowing myself to buy the supplies I may need to make my own beads (wire, metal or polymer clay, etc.)

I'm thinking I may allow myself spacer beads... ONLY. No decorate beads... just my usual "staple" spacer beads.

Clasps, I'm unsure about. I will post my thoughts on clasps at a later date, but I'm leaning toward... not buying.

The only beads I will purchase in the coming 12 months are Swarovski beads for a custom order I do on a monthly basis for someone. I've been doing this for years and see no reason to stop. I will not use any of THOSE beads in my own work for sale. I have a stash I can take from for that.... and if my stash doesn't last the year, c'est la vie.

Things I will definitely not buy include:
Lampwork beads
Polymer Clay beads
Metal Clay beads
Gemstone beads
Swarovski beads (for my own use)
Glass beads
Wooden beads
Seed beads
Other beads

Wow... really?


If you want to know the "why" of this project, stay tuned. I'll be back (maybe tomorrow) with the reasoning that led me to this decision.

Pretty risky for someone with bills to pay and mouths to feed, but apparently it's something I feel strongly about.

Wish me luck!