Monday, 1 April 2013

AJE MarchComponent of the Month Reveal

Hello and welcome to the Art Jewelry Elements component of the month reveal for March!

March CoM blog hop button.jpg

I have been very lucky with thee AJE component of the month draws and this is my second one I have participated in.  Back in December I got my hands on a wonderful labyrinth pendants, and this month I received a rather smashing copper hollow bead from the very talented Joanne Tinley of Daisy Chain Designs.  I love her components - they have a sharp clean contemporary edge with a lovely touch of whimsy thrown in for good measure.

I decide to try knotting with waked linen cord for this piece.  I purchased some cord in a selection of colours from The Curious Bead Shop a while ago as I love pieces I have seen using this medium - especially those made by Rebecca Anderson of Songbeads, who also curates the Curious Bead Shop.

Sad to say, but knotting is not a strong point for me it seems!  But then I literally have no clue what I'm doing and a little research will probably help me out.  My bracelt turned out a little bit wonky and sdaly, despite the extra day the moved reveal date has given me, I haven't had a chance to re-do it.  I'm moving next weekend and am no-where near done packing!!

I will probably snip this apart and re-do it at some point as I love the overall design and look of the piece, but a few beads need moving about and I need to get my knots straighter.  The joys of being a n00b!  It is great fun knotting the beads together though and I love the fact it is a lot faster than making individual wire wrapped links!

Apart from the lovely hollow bead, this bracelet includes a mixture of jasper, czech glass and lampwork spacers by The Fyre Faerie.  The pretty little daisy clasp is also by Joanne Tinley - I absolutely adore her clasps :)

Thanks for visiting me as part of this lovely blog hop.  Please enjoy the other participants no doubt super creations whilst I go and shove stuff in boxes!

Jess Green
Niky Sayers            

Sunday, 24 March 2013

I Gots Me a Saw!

OK, I actually got a sway a while ago... I takes me a while to get myself worked up to trying something new - but now I love it!  I have also tried oxidising my pieces for the first time.  I've made so many pieces that would look better antiqued, so I got myself some LOS gel and some steel wool.  I doubt I will ever not antique jewellery again!

Showing these pieces is a tad embarrassing as some of them are a bit wonky, but what can I expect when I am trying something new??  This is the first thing I have ever sawed out of a sheet of copper:

It's so wonky!  And this is actually the back of the piece - my hammering on the front is so awful that I ended up preferring this side!
I love this shape, though I feel I ruined it by adding too many dangle to the bottom which obfuscates the curve.  Also the hole in the middle is a bit smushed - though this is partially due to my rubbish hammering skills!  I'm proud of it though - and due to its slightly more 'rustic' than intended nature I will get to keep it as a reminder of how I started out on the sawing path - it can only get better!

Here I attempted an ivy leaf - I love leaves and I think you will see a lot of leaf shapes from me.  Again it is a bit wonky - but getting better!  I need to sort out the chain on this though - the idea is there but I'm not quite happy with it.

Next I tried out a shape I really love the look of - a crescent   I've seen plenty of jewellery I really admire using this kind of shape as a base, so I though I would give it a go -

And I loved it!  So much so in fact that I spent several hours sawing crescents out of copper sheet.  I made another necklace, with denser dangles as I felt the one above looked a little spare.  Sorry for the fuzzy photo, it was taken in a bit of a hurry and a master of photography I am NOT!  The distinct lack of sunlight recently doesn't help either...

I do love me some dangly bits :)
I bought myself a nice big selection of Czech glass beads at the beginning of the month and I am very much smitten by them - they are cropping up all over the place! My poor gemstone bead stash is probably feeling a little bit jealous.  The little fire polish beads above were actually free samples - and I do love things that are free :)

Carrying on with the crescent theme I made these earrings which will be a gift for a friend.  She loves big dangly earrings and I was struggling to come up with a design I liked before the idea for these surfaced in my minds eye.  They are basically just like the first necklace above, but on a smaller scale -

The two bases aren't actually different colours - that's just my pooey photography skills at play again...
One last one before I go, another leaf shape to take a break from all those crescents.  This is probably my favourite piece of them all, despite including pink which is not my colour at all.  The chain was originally designed with another pendant in mind, but just didn't fit in the end.  Such good luck that I happen to have plenty of sawed out pendanty bits lying around then!  This oak leaf seemed to fit the best, though I may saw out a new flower shaped piece that will better suit the pinky, springy colour scheme:

Do excuse my mucky yucky windowsill...
I'm very happy with what I have accomplished, but still have a long way to go before I master the saw.  It is both easier and harder than I originally thought it would be.  I'm very happy with the results so far, but need to figure out something more to so with the shapes I make.  A hammered finish is all very well but there is so much more I know can be done!  I think the next step may be riveting, or perhaps figuring out what other finishes I can use.  Salt and vinegar crisps maybe?  I do love the look of 'natural' patinas on copper and brass.

Anyway, here's to starting the long and wondrous path to metalworking!  And to managing not to saw my fingers off!

Thursday, 21 March 2013

On Pricing and the Emotional Turmoil It Brings!

A haven't blogged in a while - I have been busy, working, playing and most importantly for our purposes making plenty of jewellery :)

Mrs Owl is Waiting for Spring - I don't understand why all owl beads are referred to as 'Mr'.  After all, if there are no Mrs Owl's, where do cute, fluffy little baby owls come from?  The beautiful copper owl clasp is from Jo at Daisy Chain Extra.
I am trying to build up a shop inventory, enough pieces to open a shop on Etsy that doesn't look rather bare!   I'm finding it hard to decide just how many pieces are enough.  I'm aiming for about 20 necklaces and bracelets at the moment, and about 15 pairs of earrings on top of that (I never get around to making earrings though).

It's difficult, 'cos when I make a piece I fall in love with, I have to remember that I'm not gonna get to keep it.   A part of me is tempted to say 'hey, in a month or so after I've stopped inventory building, I can make myself another one', but in a way I feel that would be unfair to my potential customers who are paying to receive a unique one of a kind piece.

Now the thing is, preparing to open an Etsy store has forced me to face the pricing issue.  From reading various blogs I have long since sussed that pricing is an object of aggravation for many people.  It is really rather difficult!  I read somewhere that we as artisans are often tempted to under value our work.  We put our pieces through the pricing machine and come up with a total that just can't possibly be right surely!!

Mother Earth is Waking Up - a simple beaded chain for my Mum on Mother's Day - I didn't bother pricing this one as it was a gift :)
I have had exactly that problem!  I spent a day going through my bead stash and taking inventory of everything - tracking down receipts and paypal invoices so I could update the nifty bead spreadsheet I set up a few years ago when I last seriously considered selling jewellery.  I then started calculating prices for all the pieces I am going to sell.  Despite all the advice I had read on several sites I was still quite honestly shocked!

The owl bracelet above?  That came out at £38.  It can't be worth that much surely??  It didn't help when I took it in to work the next day and asked a colleague of mine who also made jewellery how much she thought is was worth.  She said she would charge £15-£20, but she wasn't really sure as she doesn't usually make such complex pieces.  I found that just a wee bit disheartening.  My other colleagues didn't do much to boost my ego - they were too polite to say but it was clear they would not pay so much!

I have been through this before though, the last time I tried calculating prices I was so astounded that I was put off jewellery making all together!  For about a year!  Why is that?  When I browse through Etsy and look at other Artisan made jewellery the price seems quite reasonable.  In fact it could even be a little on the low side.  When you compare the market, £33 for a necklace like the following is perfectly acceptable:

Leaves Burn Beneath the Water - Ceramic leaf pendant by Teresa of Bo Hulley Beads
My mother says the problem is probably due to my chronic lack of self worth.  Which is possibly partially true.  It's hard to think that something I have done is worth that much of someone elses money!  But there is another level to this too - I know exactly how much all the materials that go in to these pieces cost me (very precisely in fact, 'cos I spent ages figuring out the value of each little bead).  I umm-ed and aah-ed for quite a while over how much I would charge for my time - after all it does seem cheeky to charge someone for doing what I love to do.

It also made me think about how long it takes to complete a given design.  I love to make really long beaded chains like the one below (sorry for the awful photo - photographing long necklaces is hard and a massive storm cloud came over and stole the light).  Making over a hundred little links, joining the together and then making sure they are all secure sure takes a looooong time.  This necklace would cost a whopping £52!  Yet the actual materials come in at less than a tenner.

I haven't named this one yet - it is so so long though!  You can't really tell from the photo, but this reaches my navel!
And I am rather tall!
I think these prices seem high because I make the jewellery myself and I know exactly what goes into them - both material costs and effort spent.  This brings into the equation the power of perception - to people who don't make jewellery there is an element of mystery to its creation.  Most people don't have the patience to make a hundred links, or don't have a brain that just loves to play with colour.

Also, I think that when people buy artisan jewellery they are buying a little bit of the artist as well.  They are buying a little bit of your lifestyle - or perhaps rather a bit of the lifestyle they perceive behind the layers of shop fronts and photo props and blurbs.  Whether it's gritty urban priestess or flowing-gowned hippy chick, they are buying a little bit of that lifestyle for themselves.  When you say an admired piece of jewellery you are wearing is artisan handmade you are drawing a little of the mystery of the artisan world to you.  Perhaps that is why my friends and work colleagues shy away from my suggested prices - they know me, and so the mystery is truncated - jewellery made by that nutter in the corner doesn't have quite the same ring to it, does it?

Saturday, 2 March 2013

A quick note to say...

I feel a bit rude as I have not had a chance to sit down and hop through all the other Challenge of Music creations.  Yesterday and today are very busy for me!  I want to be able to sit down and listen to all the music properly while I read your posts.

I'll be visiting you all tomorrow :)

Thursday, 28 February 2013

I Walk in the Forest that was once Seattle - Challenge of Music Reveal!

***Warning***  Very long post - feel free to cut through the waffle :)

Hello and welcome to my reveal for the wonderful Miss Erin of Treasures Found's Challenge of Music, I'm very glad to have you here!

Miss Erin hosts a wonderful selection of challenges, each with a wonderful twist.  I was lucky enough to jump on the jewellery blogging train just in time to join in her Challenge of Colo(u)r blog hop.  It was truly inspiring and such good fun so I jumped straight on the bandwagon as soon as soon as sign-ups opened for the music challenge.  When Erin announced that the extra spice in this challenge would be to draw inspiration from instrumental music, I was laughing!  A lot of the music I listen to is instrumental - from beauteous Classical to dance-driving Psybreaks (I have very wide tastes).  But  the instrumental music I listen to the most is Heavy Metal.

That's right, I'm a Metalhead.  A Metalhead in flowery silks, haha :)

Now I'm not into screamy screechy 'Hail Satan' metal.  To be honest that stuff drives me up the wall.  But progressive metal and post-metal? Right up my street!  Often gently melodic and strewn with powerfully emotive passages, this strain of metal doesn't make my ears want to bleed.  Lyrics, when there are any, cover philosophical, introspective or sociological topics, expanding on human nature and the ways of the world.

When reading the outline of the challenge, I knew instantly the song I was going to create around.  It is called 'Seattle' and is from the album Fade by Cloudkicker.  I am currently obsessed with it and can listen it it on repeat for hours quite happily(I'm a bit strange).

Cloudkicker is the one-man-band project of a chap called Ben Sharp from Columbus, Ohio.  He plays every instrument himself, then sequences and mixes it all too!  A very talented dude.  His earlier stuff was a lot heavier, but Fade, which is his latest album, strikes the chord between heavy and melodic just right for me, though I  know that for a lot of you this song will sound mostly like horrid horrid noise!  

Enough waffle now, here is the song.  I don't expect you to listen to the whole 10 minutes, but about 5 will be enough to get what I am on about.

Now, I have Chromesthesia.  If you have read Erin's post on synesthesia you will know that this means that my brain 'interprets' sound as colours and shapes - I can quite literally 'see sound'.  Which is very odd when I think about it, but as I have always perceived things this way to me it is quite normal!  I can remember being quite shocked as a wee child to find out not everyone has this visual accompaniment to sound.  I sometimes feel sorry for non-synesthetes, when I close my eyes and listen to good music, it is like having my own internal visualizer   A downside?  There are times, when I listen to (usually new) powerful music, or I get caught in a great cacophony, I can feel almost blinded and paralysed!   The first time I heard 'Seattle' I felt like I was going to have a fit.  A wonderful, ecstatic, hallucinogenic fit.  It felt like God had reached down and was massaging my brain with fingers the colour of a stormy sky.

Fingers the colour of a stormy sky?  Well, that first deep, driving riff in this song is a deep blue-grey to me, laced with rich brown and the gleaming colour of hematite.  The sound is linear but organic, the shape of it is like walking down a tree lined avenue, the trunks of trees like pillars leaning over you to shade you with their leaves.  And yet the sound is somewhat industrial as well, as though those trees were once the lampposts and skyscrapers of a city, turned to a forest by enchantment.  Huge and ominous yet warm and round and embracing.  Based on this shape I made a 'sketch in wire' using dino-bone links (probably old-hat to most of you, but a new one for me), which I felt mirrored the shape of the sound quite well:

This isn't a real piece of jewellery, it's just a sketch that likes rather like a piece of jewellery.  But you can wear it as if it really were a piece of jewellery, and it makes  a wonderful chiming sound when you do :)
Unfortunately the idea I had that this sketch was based on would never come to be.  I had some beautiful blue tigers eye beads that were the PERFECT colour.  But they were to big for my idea, and my attempts to find smaller blue tiger eye beads to use were met with massive failure.  I took this as a message and decided to work with what I had, and instead made this bracelet:

You can't really see the deep blue of the tiger eye which is a shame (I am rubbish at photography).  The lovely oak leaf clasp is by Natalie McKenna of Grubbi, once I saw it I *had* to have it!  It was just the right colour to go with the tigers eye and i have been planning to use them together somehow for a while, this was the perfect chance!  I made a coiled toggle bar to match the coiled bead cages, which are my stand in for the industrial but organic shape I was after.  Mixed in are some smashing czech picasso flowers and drops in blue, brown and grey.  And nestled in the flowers are little orange Swarovski crystals - betwixt the great grey blue shapes of the song are little bursts of bright orange, like gaudy flowers hanging from the branches of the forest that was once Seattle :)

Now, I love this bracelet, but for me it doesn't encapsulate *all* of the song.  And for that reason you get an extra bonus bracelet from me!  At just before the four minute mark the song transitions into a softer passage, that for me is a vibrant mix of purple and turquoise.  The shapes are smaller, and rounder yet sharper (I'm really can't think of a less oxymoronic way to describe it - it's difficult to describe things that only exist in your head!)  The little 'flowers' or bright colour are denser and now include yellow and deep pink:

I really must sort that sticky-out end at the front, ergh!
Czech glass and turquoise rondelles with copper spacers make up the likes, with copper daisy caps, swarovskis and little shiny seed beads.  I made a little clasp wrapped with sead beads an a tiny czech firepolish bead to finish it off, shame you can't really see it in the picture!

And that is all from me today.  I hope you didn't fall asleep during all that rambling!  Thank you very much for coming and I hope to see you again soon.  Please have a spiffing time goggling at all the other participants stunning creations :)

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Screw You Creative Block!

If you visited my blog for the Inspired by Winter blog hop a few weeks ago you will know that the piece I made was almost forced out under the immense pressure of that enemy of all artistic types; the dreaded  Creative Block.  It had laid its weighty hands upon me for the whole of January, and I didn't make a single thing, what a horridly stifling feeling!

I am glad to say that creative block has now released my little cat shaped muse (my muse is definitely a cat, the fickle thing) from his constrictive grasp and I have been purred back into productivity!

Screw you Creative Block Monster!

The movement began quite small, with a couple of very basic earring I made for a couple of events I was going to:

Not too taxing :)
I then put together a fairly simple earthy necklace as a gift for a friend who is currently living in Germany.  The awesome owl pendant is from Natalie McKenna of Grubbi:

Yes I have a beaten up old anvil labelled 'Smashy Bashy Thing'.
It makes me happy :)
I also completed a gift for my Mum, which she has been waiting for since Christmas!!!  To make up for the delay I'm going to take my new collection of Bo Hulley components to hers later so she can pick one out for her next pressie :)

Wrapping all those little links took foreeeeeeeeeeeeeeever...
I love these lily shaped carnelian beads.
Last but not least here is something new I tried.  I've been admiring pieces on Etsy and Pinterest that are built around a shaped and wrapped 'yoke' made out of heavy gauge wire and adorned with plenty of dangly bits (I love dangly bits :).  So I decided to give it a go.  The results aren't perfect but I'm pretty darn pleased with this, it is very very dangly:

This was actually the second one I made in this style.  Unfortunately I left the first one at a friends house last night!  I'll have to recover it and photograph it at some point soon.

I have a couple of other pieces on the go as well.  I've been experimenting with new wire techniques, and have also purchased some waxed linen cord from The Curious Bead Shop to try my hand at knotting.  I definitely need some new tools, some mandrels (a candle stick does not make a great substitution), some round nose pliers that are actually round and flush cutters that are actually flush would be good start I think.  And then I think I'll try sawing.  And riveting.  And soldering. And stamping.  And any other technique I happen to stumble across in the vastness of the Interweb.

God help my bank balance!

Blooming creativity.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Challenge of Winter Reveal?

Hi all :)

I think today is the day that I am supposed to reveal the piece I made for The Studio Sublime's Inspired by Winter challenge   I'm not 100% sure as I haven't received a second email confirming all the blog addresses of the other participants, and unfortunately I realised too late to do anything about it!

I'm going to put up my piece anyway, and hope I can recover the other blog addresses a bit later (*Edit* This issue has now been resolved!:)

To be honest with you this winter has been well and truly uninspiring to me.  Dull, grey, wet and unfortunately sprinkled with a generous dose of personal problems.  So I haven't been creating much (or doing much at all for that matter) for the last month; as you can see from the blog I haven't had anything to write about!  I literally had to force myself to sit down and get the pliers out, but I'm glad I did, the creative juices seem to be flowing again and I suddenly have plenty of ideas for other pieces.

So here is the necklace I made:

It's not the greatest, but I'm glad I did it!  Those little blue Kyanite chips make me think of shards of ice, or those brilliant blue melt lakes you see in the Arctic.  Or most of all, the dazzling blue sky you sometimes see when the world is covered in snow and ice :)

The lovely snowflake pendant is by Bo Hulley Beads, and I was lucky enough to win it in a giveaway over at Artisan Whimsy.  Mixed in with the Kyanite, some tiny Czech firepolish beads and some random faceted rondelles (I think they are some kind of dyed quartz) I think it makes a nice icy piece. Not awesome, but nice.

So anyway, heres boo-poo to rubbish winters and creative block, and a big yaaaaaaaay for the fact spring is on its way :)  Bring on the lush greens and flower beads!

And thanks to Sally of The Studio Sublime, hopefully if you hop over to her site you can then hop along to see what the other participants have conjured up.


Here are the other blogs, enjoy! :)