Saturday, March 31, 2007

Revisiting the Flower Necklace

I have been working on, but have not finished, the Flower necklace that's about three photos below this post. I decided that the spiraling wire on each side would simply be too hard to clean, so I am looking at a beading alternative. Plain wire just kills the piece, so until I find the right substitute, this necklace remains on the bench. I will find a way!

Galveston Gumbo

I have to thank Matt again for another great name, this time for the bracelet posted here. "Galveston Gumbo" is made from jump ring chain that Rio started selling in its current catalog; we bought both small and large varieties and this is the large one seen here. The jumps are a combination of regular wire jump rings, then flat wire jumps. Not what I expected but I got used to it fast. I made a slew of shells, then picked graduated sizes and attached 7 of them. The pretty hook and eye clasp works fine, but as usual, the shells began slipping down and while the clasp is nice-looking, it's not the centerpiece. So I started looking around the local shops for something interesting and found a very juicy strand of serpentine beads. They are flat and round and have an absolutely intoxicating color. I made a ball head pin from 18-gauge wire, slipped the bead on the bracelet, and that did the trick. Shells remain on top of the wrist--for the most part. All bracelets will slip unless you do something medieval like hook 'em to your fingers (I am not knocking that idea), but overall the weight of the new jade bead works.

Lisa and I were talking about it and agreed that the color of the jade bead reminds us of the color of the Gulf waves, right off the beach. How many times have we peered through that color looking for intact shells and sand dollars, and shark's teeth? The jump ring chain reminds me of seafoam--not the icky kind that gets stuck and dries up on the beach, but the kind that those shallow waves deposit on the shore, when it's wet and starts popping and vanishing, revealing its cargo of new shells and fragments on the sand. Nice--so natually I planned the name "Seafoam" until Matt injected his sense of humor into it, and I couldn't resist that!

Coming soon!

Whoa, blew past my birthday on the 23rd and still didn't get a post up. Things are going on in the personal life--kid stuff, relative stuff, work stuff--as usual. But I am here today because a couple of new items stand to be posted soon--the recent earrings for which I uploaded a drawing, and a new bracelet about which I had no time to post information.

Above are the promised new Texas earrings, which we lovingly call "Texas Bling Earrings" thanks to my clever husband Matt, always full of good ideas. They are a whopping 1.38 inches in width, and for me that is big, but they glorious in this size. You will have to excuse me, but I reserve the right to brag when I am in the blog. And at shows. But I do personally love these earrings. They are fun to wear--not too heavy at all despite the size--and flashy. But even while having the "bling" factor, they are very pretty because of the texture contrast. I used a small grinding bit, and lightly sanded the entire outside area, then polished to a high shine the state of Texas--as promised!! The result is smashing, in my opinion. The blue topaz are very pretty--you can see the star that's cut into them, but not too easily since the stone is small at 3mm. But anything bigger did not appeal to me for some reason. I may change that, because a larger bezel would be easier to work with at least. Bling, bling, bling!

Hopefully the picture will look good on the site. Despite the fact that we have a nice photography setup (we have an EZ Cube and accoutrements), silver is not easy to photograph when it hasn't been oxidized or has large areas of smooth and/or polished texture.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Spring green, pink, blue, yellow, violet....

Spring is here in Friendswood, and my azaleas are bursting buds open daily. Just one of the colors (rose, second row in the middle) in my latest necklace. This is the first one I made so any flaws like horizontal wire that isn't quite straight will be corrected on final versions. I couldn't say initially where the design came from, but after checking my sketchbooks I had been drawing triangular images with curving wire, stars, grids and other elements before the design found itself in just one drawing. Also, the swarovski crystal beads at my bead shop haunt are displayed like candy and I had been pawing through them like pirate treasure, so probably this design came about from the drawings, the crystals, and the new season.

I love the silver pendant because the flower is in high polish, contrasting with the sanded texture of the background. It tones down the shine and blends the pendant well with the pastel colors. The photo doesn't show it well so look for a better one when we put the necklace on the website.

At first I did not have the spiral jumps at the top corners, but after trying the necklace on, I installed them because the pendant was stealing the show. I also changed the chain from a delicate little 1.5mm cable to the larger linked flat cable chain seen in the photo. The flat links reflect more light, and along with the spiral jumps, the top of the little garden popped out. Have you ever tried making wire spiral pairs (of anything) to match? It's h-e-double-hockey-sticks! We are looking for a better way--a wig jig? Any tips?

Look for this new creation at our store soon. And I am still working on the earring bezels!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

New earrings

Be looking for a new pair of Texas-style earrings at the site soon. I have already fired and semi-polished them, have received the order of blue topaz stones, and once my husband lets me off the hook helping him with work and I get my dapping block back from Lisa, I will finish these! I wanted to make something that was kind of flashy. That hasn't been my style in the past, but evolution is a good thing, even darting down and then back up a side road now and then...I want to see if these earrings generate any interest. They are not an outlandish design (some might think a large silver disk isn't adventurous at all!) but the disk is indeed a large one, which is a stretch for me.

After making the model from polymer clay, I formed the mold and then used it to shape the disks using metal clay three cards thick. The earrings fired nicely thin, and they are not too heavy, even with the Texas shape slightly raised. The dapping block will help re-shape one that did not fire perfectly concave. The swirl lines were drawn on the wet clay with a needle tool. I will bezel-set the stones and then polish Texas to a high shine, leaving the semi-polished finish surrounding the state, the finish earlier achieved in the tumbler. I should have re-shaped the out-of-whack disk before tumbling, since it is now work-hardened, but I think it will hammer out just fine.

The picture above was drawn in Adobe Photoshop, one of my other most favorite pastimes. You should see what I did with "American Gothic" lately, for my father-in-law's birthday! Posted only by request!

P.S.-- I got my dapping block left and the earring tapped out perfectly. I will start on the bezels today or tomorrow! Also, I left out a MOST IMPORTANT detail: blue topaz is the Texas state stone! It is mined in Mason County in the Texas hill country.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

It's been a while....

Greetings--just wanted to show off a new clasp we are using on our groovy Silver-on-Leather bracelets. We had been using bayonet clasps, but they are difficult to manage in a bracelet that fits more snugly like these. You can see this button clasp in the photo at right.

The photo also shows two newly available textures: "dimpled" at the top and "diamond-etched" just below it ("organic", currently on the website, is at the bottom). These upper two previously were sold only at our shows and not through the website. Remedied! I love all of these textures. Recently I created my own (seen below) for a Texas Tech bead I made for my oldest son--I apologize for the crummy picture quality; it was one of those quickies I shot off to Lisa for her comments. So-whoa I wanted to re-do this bead and use a texture that is inspired by Lisa's diamond-etched pattern--yep, a texture that makes the letters pop out much better--plus make some other changes too.

I am working on designing a magnetic clasp for this new bracelet, too. It's hard to find magnetic clasps that are not overly-feminine in style or that fit leather this thick (4mm). Don't forget, though--these Silver-on-Leather bracelets are not just for men! In fact, that brings on a whole new slew of ideas....Groovy!