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Friday, 28 February 2014

Bead talk and other things.

Hi Everyone
I'm still working hard with bead finishing. I had a few other commitments yesterday and found myself very little time for work. So, today my main focus will be on the beads which I will turn into earrings. I need to spend some time developing a packaging card for my earrings - I want to keep it simple and (at the moment) I'd like a brown board look. I also have a vague idea of creating a simple painting to get the colours of the beads incorporated - something like this but with more colours :

Somehow, I'd like to merge a simple background with some bead colours into my packaging. This background needs to be cardboard brown and the letters need to be the colours. I will try out making the dots different colours to pick out the beads. I'd like each one to be a bit different so will hand finish. Will share when I get there.

The beads that have some attention are here :

Still more work needed but I quite like the beads. Ive also just noticed that I don't have a blue bead in there. Need to do something about that !

I also mentioned I wanted to add a little something to the houses in Genervieve (my current painting). After much 'looking' (at quiet moments) throughout the day, I decided to add some simple white windows to link all the houses together.

The windows represent different sides of each house each allowing a bigger or smaller view on the world of Genervieve. There is a story to Genervieve !

Have a great weekend.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

New clay beads

Hi Everyone
Yesterday, was a much improved day !. I produced a new batch of clay beads and am on track for a day of 'finishing'. I think, I like the texture which is going on in each bead - some more than others. I'm hoping to highlight the texture and make it a key feature of the bead.
This photo is the batch prior to curing. I'm experimenting with surface design and will find a core number to specialise patterns.

Ive got a plan for this batch and will stick with it and then review.

The next photo shows the first stage after curing the clay. A thin layer of acrylic paint has been added and rubbed off immediately and then buffed by hand. See the before and after bead below. The left hand bead is formed from a slightly sparkly clay and it shows through the paint. I need to add some polish and turn it into a soft sheen. The thin scratch lines are what I'm after. It's a delicate pattern but I like it.

I want to add a silver post and embed it into the back - will do this when Ive finished all the polishing from the batch.

My favourites (as they are now) are these two pairs below. I'm sure they will change when I apply the finish - so, I may change my mind. I will add a green paint to the pale colour and a light colour to the green.

I'm also hoping to find a little time for Genervieve (the painting) later in the day. I'd like to develop the little houses in the painting. I'd had an idea to incorporate some metal into the piece - not sure what but I like the idea. Let's see what happens. Here is a sample of the houses at the moment.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

I need ZEN (in my life)

Hi Everyone
It's mid week already - not sure where the week has gone ? I had a very challenging day yesterday - one of those days where everything did not go to plan ! All the very small mundanes things (spilling washing liquid everywhere but in the machine !) seemed such a problem to me. I should have gone back to bed mid morning and waited for today.
I have high hopes for today.

Almost in a response to the trials of yesterday Ive joined another self help initiative Take a look here. The idea is called ZEN AND THE ART OF DOING WHAT YOU LOVE. There are resources to help guide you to taking a balanced approach to things. I'm totally into it.

Amongst all the angst of yesterday, I managed to come up with a few new earrings or rather half a pair of two. Ive been experimenting with silver and have made myself a couple of lovely small items. They need cleaning but here they are at the moment :

I will clean and polish and shape the ear wires later.

I also had another eureka moment - late last night. Ive been spending ages (for a few weeks) messing around with some clay bead batches - originally destined for a collection of approximately 30 pieces of jewellery. I'd semi prepared earrings, bracelets, broaches and a couple of necklaces. Having spent lots of hours trying to make the items fit my quality standards, I finally admitted they were all sub standard and have thrown them (all) in the bin. I feel the 'binning' to be cathartic and I'm free ! I have a new plan to produce a new collection which will start today. I know that Ive learned loads from the process so that's a positive. My new collection is clear (in my head) and will be well designed and created with quality in mind.

Just wanted to share an update from yesterday, here is a peak at the progress of my Make Art Monday item for this week - it's prompted by the word PEACE (from the project).

A couple of pairs of my earrings are starring in this drawing. I have actually drawn them in (I want to wear the earrings). I will add some more words to the piece later today to explain my take on PEACE and ....... it's already stuck into my new book/album.

That's it for today.
Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Make Art Monday !

Hi Everyone
This morning, we have a lovely, calm and peaceful start to the day here. Looking out of the window - it could be mid summer ! until you go outside and it's freezing. Still, I can dream ..... in a few months it will be warm again.

I forgot to mention a new initiative in my life from yesterday - it's this : Make Art Monday. The idea is literally that - each Sunday I receive a prompt which gives me a little time to be inspired and then on Monday I produce a piece of Art. This week the inspiration is PEACE and has prompted a very simple, quick and stress free idea for making something metal to be a part of a painting. I know it sounds like a big idea but amazingly, I found the whole thing very 'peaceful' to create. I didn't have a plan as such. I just wanted to try something.

My aim for this initiative is to keep me producing ART as a regular routine activity. I have my current larger painting (Genervieve) as an ongoing thing but I thought this idea would allow some experimenting on a small scale. Read about the idea and join in. My first attempt is linked to making some metal jewellery as part of my response. I took a very small part of my day - probably about an hour (at about 9pm - split into several mini sessions while I did necessary chores) in total to make my earrings and make them part of a little piece of art. I wanted to somehow blend the earrings into the piece. I have a little more to add this morning but I quite like what Ive done so far. I didn't think much about it. I simply dipped into a little tray of materials and used whatever I saw. I will add another something - not sure what ? Perhaps some colour ? Here are few photos of the earrings and the mini piece of not quite finished art.
The earrings are very simple and just a little experiment. I like how they have turned out.

The whole thing started out from the piece of copper wire - I cut it in half and added a piece of hammered/balled sterling silver wire to form the earring bead and then bent the wire to form the hook. I polished a bit and will probably polish some more.

I couldn't decide which side should be the outside but I like the ball on the outside. The other way around would be a more sophisticated finish.

Here is my little painting, I will keep the perforated edge - this adds to my ideas for this piece. I aim to keep my Make Art Monday pieces in one book - will purchase it today. I will date each piece and write a little about each one. The PEACE word has prompted this simple response. My current vision of PEACE must be this image !

There will be more to describe my response. I will analyse later, for now, I'm happy that this came out.

I want the piece to be minimal - to allow the earrings to be prominent. I think, I will transfer the image to make a little card for future earring packaging. The actual earrings will not be a permanent feature - I want to wear them. I will get an image and do something to integrate the image into the painting. Will share when I finish it.

Thanks for reading, bye for today.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Keep trying ......

Hi Everyone
Another new week is looming - full of plans ! I'm hugely relieved to know the problems with last weeks soldering were all to do with the solder paste and not me. A new batch of paste arrived and I had some success immediately. I was impatient to try out the new stuff and just soldered two bits of wire - it worked as planned, so .......... all things are now possible !

Here is my initial test solder. Ive made it into an earring shape. The item needs cleaning but Ive left is here to show where the join is soldered on the front. I like the idea of using solder in the design.

As usual with earrings, making a second earring is a challenge ! I know it's just a test but I quite like the end product and will try a second one.

I must get my current clay batch completed this week. I need some concentrated production. Sounds like a good plan - no other distractions needed.

We had an exciting day last Saturday, we (all four of our little family) went to a watercolour painting course. We planned this before Christmas and the class was a Christmas present. I'm not quite comfortable with watercolour painting so I wasn't sure how it would turn out. The boys were also a little apprehensive (prior to the day). However, the whole experience was brilliant. Our teacher had a very relaxed style and the other folk in the class made the day a very positive experience. Our painting subject was puffins on rocks. We plan to display our finished paintings together. Not sure how this will be done but I'm working on some frame plans. Here is a quick peak at the 4 paintings as they are now.

They are all brilliant (apart from mine, bottom right - I should have done better and will add some more detail) but the best thing was doing the class together, as a family. I was very proud of how the boys managed themselves throughout the day. I think they enjoyed the experience and each produced a great piece of work. I think they will look great displayed in a line ? Will work on some options.

Must get going.
Thanks for reading.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Third metal design here

Hi Everyone
Yesterday (as predicted) did not produce much to report. We had a great day with friends - we visited a local country house, had lunch and talked all day - lovely !

I wanted an idea for my third metal earring design from yesterday and have found one. See my other two designs earlier this week. My new idea is very simple and I need the new solder to finish it. Here is my initial sketch. The piece will have 4 short lengths of copper to form a sort of 'fence' with a silver 'balled' and flattened ear wire - soldered onto the back.

I will prepare the new metal design today and clean up all the bits that have failed. I can then complete the pieces in one session. I also have a batch of clay stuff to work on, so plenty to do today.

Ive also had lots of new ideas for developing designs and will start preparing a bead for a new necklace. I want to choose a chain and use the shape of the links to draw a pattern onto a flattish piece of light coloured clay. The design is inspired by this print by Francesca Lancisi.

I especially like the stone on the top left line. I want to produce a similar pattern using the chain links shape and size to produce the pattern. I'm limited by the chains I have (at the moment) making a chain is a big job and that will come later when I improve my skills. I will probably have something to share early next week.

Well, yet another week gone. Have a great weekend.
Thanks for reading. Bye for now.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Solder Issues

Hi Everyone
I'm not sure if I moved on or not ? I had such another frustrating day yesterday. The solder issue keeps causing me problems. Ive come to the conclusion that the solder paste is faulty. I know it's easy to blame your tools but Ive explored every possible reason (on my part) and come to the final conclusion - it's not me. Ive ordered another batch of solder and hopefully I can move on with my designs.
From yesterday's failure, Ive come up with a new design and better. My original design involved soldering the ear wire onto the main earring structure. When the solder did not work I came up,with another solution and I think it's a big improvement.
The first photo is the new design, showing the ear wire looped around the earring shape.

The next photo shows the original design and would have the long wire bent over to form the hook.

I quite like both design but the first design allows the earring to move which looks good.

My next new design is this one.

The ear wires this time will fix to the bar and will not move. I like these too but the first design is my favourite. The soldering is not secure - I will need to clean up the metal and redo when the new stuff arrives.
I'm not sure what will happen today re work, we are having a day out with friends - so not much time for anything. I will try some stuff out later this evening and need a third shape for my earring - I'm hoping I can find some inspiration while I'm out and about

Thanks for reading.
Bye for now.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Is this success ?

Hi Everyone
I'm hoping for a slightly more successful day today. I spent all my spare time, yesterday, trying to solder my little bits of metal onto the much planned earring shapes. I had limited success and ended the day feeling very frustrated and a little confused as to why I repeatably failed. I'm aware that trying to solder different size wire and different metals is not straightforward but ....... ? I feel unable to explain 'the problem(s)' KEY to finding a solution !
Ive decided to go back to basics and when all else fails - buy a book about it.

However, back to the here and now, this is what I ended up with :

It looks OK but I need to check the strength of the wire attachment. I ended up making a wire with a flattened, balled end. I thought this would give me a good area for soldering. The next photo shows the 'bead' part after many, many attempts at fixing the extra bar. I'd abandoned the silver thinner bars by this stage. This bar is another copper piece.

I'm not sure which side I like ? - the attach side or the other. I will keep looking at it. I'm favouring the 'other' at the moment.

If the piece is strong - I will be thrilled. I will do some cleaning up but I do like some of the fire patina and will be careful I don't loose it all.

All I need to do now, is make another to match !

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

New metal designs

Hi Everyone
A bit of a lazy start to my day today. Ive tried hard to get organised but without much success !I'm distracted by the Winter Olympics ! Their are some fantastic 'not to be missed' events going on throughout the day so, I will be dipping in and out.

Ive have spent a little time experimenting with some copper and silver and eventually managed to 'ball' a little piece of silver. I need to finish a piece to be completely satisfied with progress ... but I'm pleased with my confidence levels while working with metal.
Here are a few samples of the work for today. Ive cut some copper and added a few silver pieces and will add a stud to the design.

I cut a few lengths of copper and tried out two shapes for the design. I like the cross over version and will keep it simple with a single ear post.

This is how I started with the round wire. I'm not sure how thick this is ? But it's quite chunky. I shaped the wire and hammered the shapes. I like the way the metal shapes are slightly organic. I'm keen to develop a necklace and perhaps a broach with this design.

This is the second stage after hammering. The right hand shape is hammered and shows how much the shape has stretched.

I hope to finish a pair of earrings or even two.
Here's a quick look at my 'balled' silver. Not sure why ? but I'm so pleased with myself for making this.

Not sure what else I'm going to achieve today. My day is rapidly disappearing. Although, I need to sort some pickling out to clean up my metal finish.

Thanks for reading.
Bye for today.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Wire Experiments

Hi Everyone
It's a bit late in the day to be announcing that it's half term holidays ! I forgot to mention this last Friday. Usually, life is rather hectic during holidays and I take time off. This week, I'm part time. I've not done any work today, we have been shopping/lunching out !!!

I'm going to paint a little and play a little with metal over the week. My plans also include making some wire based items similar to this design :

However, this evening, I'm going to fiddle with some metal to make some earrings. I shared a project last week about created a clay version of a design I liked. Here it is for reference :

I'm going to try out a copper version. I'm also going to turn the clay version into a silver colour with some silver leaf finishing. Not sure how this will work but the gold clay experiment was not brilliant, I'm hopeful plan B will be better for this design.

Hope to show any progress tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, 14 February 2014

What a week !

Hi Everyone
Another week has flown by and I'm struggling to remember what Ive done this week. Looking back each day - it looks as if Ive had a great week. Ive started developing new packaging, made the long awaited gold clay, found a new wire technique and devised some new beads for about 40 new pieces - wow ! I'm almost impressed. It just shows how reflecting on your own successes can give you a 'lift'

The down side is that Ive still got to finish all these pieces. My weakness is definitely moving over from initial design /production stage to final finishing. Each item is being finished to a high standard using my 'quality list' (22 Jan blog). The finishing takes lots of time and often I come across issues as I go, as a result it's slow progress. However, my skills are improving. Both the practical process but also the design process is affected. It's quite clear to me that design is so important and is influencing production after each new piece.

On a related issue, I came across a great tip on a site called Jewellery Making Daily and specifically this tip Here. It's to do with making ear wires from scratch. It's an obvious approach when you have a go and I'm not sure why this hasn't occurred to me before - take a look - the photos are great. From my own experience, I understand how difficult it is to make two hooks the same and if you get it wrong it's very difficult to right the error. This process takes out the anxiety. I will always use this technique in the future.

Here is my first effort - I need to file the long ends and I notice a little problem with the right hand hook which needs smoothing out. My plan is to try and 'ball up' the short end to hold a bead.

This metal is a non tarnish brass and I'm not sure how this will work out. I'm hopeful it will work well. I will share my results next week.

Another site I often visit is this one Celia Fago Blog. Celia has some amazing work going on. She works with metal - mainly silver (I think).
One item which particularly caught my attention is this small book charm on a necklace. The site goes into great detail about how she works. It's a fascinating insight into her work. Her work has given me an idea of trying out something of my own. It's in the design stage (in my head) at the moment. I will develop my idea on paper and share here when I have something.

Have a great weekend.
Bye for now.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Gold Clay Experiments

Hi Everyone
Well, some progress was made yesterday. I did mix some gold clay as planned. I also managed to produce a sort of version of the metal earrings I shared yesterday. I have more work to do on the initial structure and I'd like to try and find a way of improving the design and adding some findings. The clay has hardened so I will drill some holes. I think, I will add some more wax paint to give more of a shine.

The next few photos show the initial mixed gold clay. The first picture shows gold flakes mixed with plain white Fimo. It's a subtle effect. When the clay is turned into beads, the result is quite good and I do like it. Disappointing, the picture is not showing just how good it is.

The next photo is white clay mixed with gold metalic wax paint. The paint mixes well and gives more of a glow than a deep gold colour. The metallic elements of the paint are peppered all over the tile and dry very quickly into a light dusting powder. This powder does keep mixing into the raw clay and results in a varied way, concentrated in areas. I quite like the effect and again, the beads are pretty and subtle.

Both methods are limited in terms of gold impact, however, I do like the effect overall. Here are a few images of the beads I produced.

The very shiney beads in this photo were gilded and then baked. The second beads (in the same photo) had the wax metallic paint added onto the surface of the raw clay and then baked.

I shaped a range of small, shapes and textured some of them. I also added more paint and gilded some parts.

Gilding direct is my favourite application. I may try more gilding on some of these beads before I decide on how I will use them for specific items of jewellery. My next dilema is what metal to use for findings. I like to use silver but I'm not sure it will work in all cases. I don't have a problem with mixing gold and silver as a rule but I think the right metal needs to be identified for a particular item. I need to work on a few options and experiment.

Thanks for reading.

Bye for today.