Monday, February 15, 2010

anticipating spring…

I don’t know about you guys, but when I am learning a new skill, I get so absorbed in practicing the new skill that I forget (temporarily) to make entire pieces of jewelry.  Case in point, torch fired enameling is my obsession of the day, and I am making these little morsels of jewelry, a pendant here, a pair of very simple earrings there, but not anything substantive.  This weekend I made an effort to change that. 


Last week I made this cute little flower.  I cut, filed, domed and then enameled it.  Getting enamel on a concave rather than flat piece of work is quite a challenge, given that you need to enamel the front and back, and I don’t actually have the proper equipment to hold the piece while making it 1000 degrees.  Anyway, I got it done, and it is cute, and I wore it on a copper ball chain for a week as a pendant.  But I like my jewelry to be a little more involved than just hanging something off of a chain.  So I gathered my wits about me, and made this…


I made links of 16 & 14 gauge copper wire that I balled the ends of, and then enameled.  The beads are lizardite rounds on 18 gauge copper.  Looking at it objectively, I think I will make the diameter of the larger links smaller.  As it is now, those links are too big in relation to the focal.  I will just slip them over a smaller mandrel than I used previously, and tighten them up.  I’ll have to add a couple additional links as this will shorten the overall length, but I think it will improve the proportions of the piece.


a detail of the links.

This is my jumping off piece for a show I will be participating in at the ECCOTA gallery this spring, Spring Things. “•Springs Things Exhibit- runs April 30-May 31, 2010 in the ECCOTA Gallery.  A multi media exhibit featuring those things that start emerging with spring.  Two deadlines-  March 2- confirm your participation and April 23 delivery of your work. Contact Abbi Peters 814-772-7051, for more information and confirm your participation.”   I have ordered additional colors of enamel, but I think this will be the focal piece of my display.

While on the subject of new skill sets, I have a question to throw out there.  I find that I am learning new techniques, and then I compartmentalize my skills, and have a hard time utilizing more than one technique in a piece of jewelry.  I love to wire wrap, and I adore my Shrinky Dinks, and I can etch just about anything onto a piece of copper, but I have a hard time integrating more than one of these subsets into one piece of jewelry.  Is this just a “me” thing, or do others of you find that you pigeonhole your skills?

I would also like to share a new fun place on the interwebs to find more out about torch-fired enameling.   Painting with Fire is a new group put together by Barbara Lewis, whose article in Belle Armoire magazine started this whole enameling insanity for me.  Please stop by.  The people are friendly, and you could learn something new, or see pretty pictures of what other people are doing with enamel.

I think that is it for now.

Thanks for checking in….


Monday, February 1, 2010

painting with glass…

jewelry corner:

So, for the last month or so, I have not really spent much time at the workbench that amounted to any finished pieces. I have spent time getting my workspace set up so that I don’t kill myself. I also treated myself to some new supplies, and am teaching myself to torch enamel.

I saw an article in Belle Amour Jewelry (a beautiful magazine, that I usually don’t buy) about how easy it is to enamel copper using your torch. I was immediately enamored with the the whole process. With little extra equipment, you can add color and texture to your copper.


My first order from Frantz Art Glass was only four colors (clockwise from top middle- red orange opaque, transparent bonnet blue (shown over white), white with speckles of the orange red and grey green). Not very smart on my part, when they offer a 40 color sampler pack that was very reasonably priced. So that was my second order, and using additional colors from that order, I created the “buttons” that match the wire wrapped green opal, and then I wanted to check out the difference in the two yellows included in the sampler. So there has been much “playing” until this past weekend, when I actually cut out some pieces of copper in order to create some earrings.

I LOVE color, but am not always successful in how I combine it, so I often take cues from fabrics and designers. I am currently obsessed with Amy Butler, so I wanted to use the colors from a piece of her scrapbooking paper…


not feeling that Amy Butler vibe? Well here, let me make it a little more clear for you…


…how completely off the mark I was. I certainly have some practice before me. This is after approximately three additional firings with transparents over the garish opaques. This picture actually tones down the heinous nature of this color combo- apparently my camera is not interested in accurately recording anything this ugly! So I said to myself- self, why are you trying to run, when you haven’t even finished learning to crawl with this new technique. SO I took some deep breaths, and went all mono-chromatic on myself.


The pendant is pale petal pink with dark petal pink, the earrings are dark petal pink with light orchid. The bail on the pendant is a piece of 16 gauge wire that I torched until the ends balled up, and then I enameled that with moss green. And since the set didn’t make me vomit, I wore them to work today. I hammered a tiny border of texture around all the pieces, and I don’t think I will do that again, It makes it more difficult to get a clean edge of enamel. So, I am very excited to make fun enameled headpins, and you can safely assume for the foreseeable future that everything not nailed down will be enameled until I am happy with my technique.

I will take pictures of my enameling set up, just in case any one is interested in how my mind wants to do things.

food fun:

the last two weeks, I have been inspired to try some new recipes, and with the help of the Epicurious app, on my Itouch, I found some very inspiring Asian recipes to try. (have you tried this app? It is awesome, it is free and it will create shopping lists for you, which as far as I am concerned is the most awesomest part of it.) I made a shrimp with red curry for my brother and his lovely vegetarian wife two weeks ago. Her dietary choices force me to stretch and I LIKE it! I also made a simple stir fry of snap pea tops, that were on special that day at the Asian Food Market. They were quite tasty. This past weekend we entertained my husbands friend Five-Star and his wife. He likes spicy and she does not, so I made chicken with coconut milk and green curry, a marinated flank steak, napa cabbage slaw, a broccoli salad, and a baby bok choy dish. When I set out all the food, I felt silly for making that much food for four people, but I have to say, we made quite a dent! I also am in love with left-overs, and am married to a man who will eat said left-overs, so it was a win-win for my household.


It looks like my hubby and I will be traveling with friends to Ireland in spring of 2011. We are in the early stages of planning this trip, so ideas of things to do and places to see on the Emerald Isle are welcome. Looks like this will be my present to me for my 40th birthday. Did I just type that? gulp. I did.

On that depressing note (the turning 40 part, certainly not the travel part) I will bid you farewell, dear readers. Have a lovely week, and I challenge you to try a new recipe this week. Actually, lets up the ante on that. I challenge you to a meal entirely comprised of new recipes/foods. Yes, visit a new aisle in the market, or go to a grocery store you’ve never been to. I adore going to the Asian Food Market, and walking up and down every aisle, and trying to figure out what stuff is for. If you have a family, you can make it a fun night of some kind of learning- really I am running on fumes now, can you tell?