Monday, April 28, 2008

Wind Resistance!

A quarter-inch of Plexiglas mounted with screws on the back of a riser will protect the earring racks from wind from the back. I'm hoping that gusts from the sides won't catch enough to lift anything so that I can get away with not taping the cards down. But you can bet I'll have a roll of masking tape just in case!

Riser with Wind Break

The pendant board has been wind-proofed with a 1x2 board as an outrigger on the front, C clamps at the bottom of the board, and a bungee cord hooking over the top and then passing through the easel hinge.

I have decorative glass bits to weight down my business card and next-show fliers.

My new table cloths (bright-colored sheets) are coming this week, and a friend who sews is going to put weights in the hems.

Bring it on!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Booth Shot!

The camera has been located! Here I am a couple hours into the show. Hat hair already! (That rainbow feathery object hanging from the rafters is the offending headpiece.)

I've just finished a couple of nice summery necklaces -- I'll get pictures tomorrow when the sun comes back. My car has a flat tire (grumble) so I can't go into the office (yay!). Having a car for which no garage stocks tires is a mixed blessing.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Craft Show Outtage

My first real craft show was Saturday! I spent every evening last week frantically getting things ready, then arrived to find that the situation was not what I'd expected. I'd signed up for a small show in the back room of the local cooperative cafe where you got one small table, but the cafe had been closed for renovations that day, so they'd tacked the craft show into an outdoor musical festival two weeks later.

I'd been thinking that we'd get the same amount of space outside that we'd had inside, but it turned out to be a free-for-all. We were told that we could set up anywhere within a giant amount of space on one side of a plaza. I arrived at 10am to find the area already hot and in full sun, and the fellow jewelry maker I'd met at the previous small, unadvertised back-room show urged me to go get my Tent. I waffled a bit, having received the Tent in the mail only a few weeks before and not even taken it out of the box as I didn't expect it to use it until May 4th. "How long will you last in the sun?" she asked. "I'm ready to pack up and go home now," I replied, having only gotten my table out of the car.

This was deemed an untenable situation, so I scurried home for the Tent. It's an EZ-UP, which -- if you have one and recall your first interaction with it -- is a misnomer. The directions are not altogether helpful, but with much hemming and hawing and the assistance of a bystander, it was erected. This was a great boon, as the day proceeded to be Wretchedly Hot.

There were more Exciting Incidents involving all of my earring racks and then a big bulletin board on an easel loaded with fused glass pendants going over in the wind. I may have uttered certain bad words went the easel went over, but none of the pendants broke when they hit the concrete. Littering the ground around my booth with broken glass would have been a catastrophe! Much masking tape was applied, and plans are afoot for easel outriggers and a windbreak for the earring racks.

I learned a lot. Much of it was regarding wind (are those my business cards blowing away AGAIN?!). I filled a couple of pages in a notebook with notes on what to do differently next time. Fun! I'll have a photo of the booth when the photographer finds his camera.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Design-a-Day: Hill Tribes Silver and Cobalt Briolette Pendant

I think I've just finished a custom order (it's out to the customer for review at the moment). This completes the earring/bracelet/pendant set I mentioned in my byzantine weave post. The rings I got from The Ring Lord worked really well in the bracelet:

I used some new thicker rings in the earrings, too:

We went through a couple iterations of the pendant. I made an orange one with agate teardrops first to complement the customer's intended bright blue outfit, but it turned out that we weren't on the same wavelength regarding the quantity of orange that was desired, so I located a set of cobalt blue briolettes that I think will match her dress perfectly.

If you'd like a piece or a set of custom jewelry, please don't hesitate to !

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Design-a-Day: Dichroic Earrings

I do not have the promised "after" pictures of yesterday's pendants. Bad Karen! I was on a packaging tear today, manufacturing earring and pendant cards and mounting finished pieces for the show I'm going to next Saturday (come visit me! Saturday, April 19th in Greenbelt, MD -- visit my show list for directions). I used the scrapbooking paper border idea from Barb Macy's fabulous tutorial, and they look pretty nice.

As a consolation, I have a "before" photo of today's first kiln load: dichroic earrings. I don't have a saw, so my earrings always turn out blobby, so I avoid making them. Today, though, inspired by the pine-tree-shaped pendant from yesterday's pendant run, I made a bunch of tiny versions. I put them in in the morning, so they finished annealing and cooling in time for me to design another load of pendants that's cooking now.

The earrings turned out great, but they're so delicate that I have no idea how to put them on something that can be attached to ear wires! The traditional dangly earring hardware used for attaching glass is very chunky, and these, with their wee little points on top, don't cover up the backing. The best idea I've come up with is tiny drop charms. There are itty-bitty diamond-coated drill bits for this purpose, but I don't have any. It might be time!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Design-a-Day: Tack-Fused Glass Pendants

I have a bunch of little glass balls that I made from snipping up the glass rods that bead makers use for flameworking. Put the chunks through your kiln on a full fuse, and they pull up into balls. Fun! I made them last week, and tonight I decided to employ them.

I felt it would be best to only tack fuse them to pendants, as they'd melt into the base glass on a full fuse. Since I hate waiting, I didn't want to make a set of fully-fused pendants and then tack fuse the balls onto them, so I designed a load of pendants that I will only tack fuse. Come tomorrow morning, when I see the finished product, I may find that patience is a virtue!

Below, my kiln-load of pendants, pre-firing. You can find more of my pendants in my store.

And the disaster that is my workbench after a pendant session! This one's fairly controlled by my standards.

Stay tuned tomorrow for a post-kiln photo!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Design-a-Day: Lucite and Hill Tribes Silver Pendant

I've fallen in love with Hill Tribes silver -- and not just because we share a name. The Karen tribe in Thailand makes beautiful silver beads and focal pieces using historical techniques, resulting in an organic feel and funky, ethnic styling. It's very different from the polished, ornamental Rajasthani silver of India.

Tonight, I was eying a stack of large vintage lucite beads that I got at the Baltimore Bead Show in January. These sea green beads were rescued from a Rhode Island factory that closed the 1960s, and they have a very cool crackle pattern sealed under a smooth outer coating. I also wanted to dig into the shipment of Hill Tribes silver that arrived last week!

When I design, I often start with one piece and then go through everything else I have, holding things up together and muttering a lot. In this case, though, as soon as I'd picked the big piece of lucite, I knew exactly what the next piece would be -- a particular Hill Tribes silver flower. A good start, but the composition was bare. I didn't want to detract from the flower with beads, so I tried some twists of hammered wire. All of my hammered wire wraps are textured using locally-available resources (which is to say -- my kitchen floor).

I toyed with combinations of pearls, shells and hematite chips for the necklace portion, but, feeling that a beaded necklace would detract from the coolness of the pendant itself, I chose to hang it on chain instead. A plain chain also seemed bare, so I accented it with hematite rings and tiny bits of turquoise.

I often get ideas for other pieces while implementing a design. I frequently make one earring and then run off and make some completely different before coming back to finish the other half of the pair. Sometimes I end up with three non-matching earrings and the beginning of a necklace at the end of an evening! While I was assembling the hematite and turquoise accents, I found myself shaking them and thinking how pleasantly dangly they were. A matching set of earrings seemed like the natural vehicle for this dangliness, and so the Creeping Vines Pendant and Earrings Set was born!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Design-a-Day: Dragonfly Cluster Earrings

Lately, I've been overjoyed by cluster earrings. I can't stop making them -- they're just so darn simultaneously fun and elegant. They feel nice swinging from ears, and they make soft tinkly sounds when you turn your head. I'm sorely tempted to keep every pair I make!

Clusters are small but time-consuming to make, as each bead must be individually wound and wired into the cluster by hand. There's a temptation to make big, bountiful clusters, but I take the weight of the finished piece into account and try to hold back.

I went on a cluster earring tear one day last week and made them out of agate pebbles, agate donuts, and orange mother of pearl.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Byzantine Weave

Several weeks ago, bored with my bead collection, I went looking for something more interesting than chain to put between beads. I found a great tutorial (which I have since lost) on byzantine weave, which is a pattern for attaching jump rings together to make nifty 3D chains with a nice medieval luxury look to them. I promptly made a turquoise necklace (no photo yet) and some dangly earrings with lapis-colored howllite (pictured below - you can find a bigger photo on the product listing).

I happened to mention my weaving foray to the lovely Sharon Henry of Mana Moon Studios, who I'd just met through Flickr. She pointed me to The Ring Lord, a supplier of rings for chain mail. It turns out that these weaves require a particular ratio of wire diameter to ring diameter, lest the links just sag into a mess of disorganized rings when you lay the piece down. It doesn't matter so much for earrings since they're constantly under tension, but for a necklace or bracelet, having the right ratio counts. It's called "aspect ratio" by chain mail suppliers, and The Ring Lord lists the optimal aspect ratios for many weaves and provides a search feature for finding rings of a particular aspect ratio. At the time, I didn't understand this aspect ratio business yet, so I just stared at the vast array of rings and then fled in terror.

A few weeks later, though, I received a request for a bracelet to go with the Byzantine Pool earrings. Fulfilling someone else's jewelry desire is always a great motivator to me -- this is why I like doing custom orders. With the impetus to do a proper weave, I tore off to The Ring Lord to puzzle out this aspect ratio business. Once I understood, it was straightforward to select some fine silver rings of the prescribed aspect ratio. I chose 18 gauge fine silver rings with a 5/32" inner diameter. The company is in Canada, so the rings took two weeks to arrive, but they came on Saturday, and they worked fabulously! The links are nice and tight. If you're looking for these rings, products on The Ring Lord website don't have their own URLs, which is silly, but searching for "SXSFN18532" (the item number) will locate them.

I'll have photos of the bracelet once I get some daylight.