I usually don't discuss current events on this blog, but in honor of it being Gay Pride Month -- and in honor of today's important Supreme Court decisions -- here are a few of my favorite rainbow-colored wire wrapped and enamel jewelry pieces. Check out the rest of my collection at Naomi's Designs or MayaGirl Creations.
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Monday, June 24, 2013
I was so inspired by that customer who sent me a photo of my amethyst earrings matching the necklace that her late husband gave her that I decided to make a different type of wire wrapped amethyst piece. These earrings use smaller amethyst chunks and have a much more intricate series of spirals:
For each earring, I used two pieces of amethyst. Though these are faceted gemstones, they still have a very "raw," organic look in the way they're cut. They're also a very striking shade of purple. I know that most people associate amethyst with purple, but this stone can actually take on a pinkish or even green hue. But for this particular creation, I wanted a deep purple, which is what I got.
Doing a wire wrapped pattern on an odd-shape stone can be a challenge, but my wraps came out pretty even. I think you have enough of the wrap for the design to take center stage, but it doesn't completely cover the amethyst. The elements work well together, which is how jewelry should be. I need to try this with a different type of stone -- maybe quartz? What do you think?
Summer is here, which means it's time for one of my favorite activities: swimming!
I absolutely love water. I love to walk by the ocean, take boat rides, hang out by a lake or even just lounge around the pool. Water is gorgeous, relaxing to be near ... and kind of scary, too, because it's probably the most powerful force in nature.
When it comes to my jewelry, water is also an inspiration. I often work with the color blue or make pieces that remind me of ocean waves. Here are a few of my favorites, from my shell-shaped silver wire wrapped spiral necklace with Swarovski crystals to my wire wrapped swimming fish rings to my ocean blue enamel necklaces. Enjoy -- and be sure to check out my shops Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations!
Sunday, June 23, 2013
I make my jewelry because I enjoy the process of designing and love to create beautiful pieces. However, sometimes a piece will "speak" to a person for whatever reason beyond it simply being attractive. This happened recently with my silver wire wrapped amethyst earrings.
Amethyst is my favorite stone because it's my birthstone and these are one of the first earrings I made when I got into jewelry. I purchased large, natural-looking chunks of amethyst and then wire wrapped them. The photo is terrible, but you get the idea.
To be honest, these earrings haven't gotten that many views. They hadn't really gotten a lot of notice at craft fairs, either, as people tended to gravitate toward my colorful geometric jewelry. I kind of forgot I even had them. That said, I was kind of surprised when they were purchased last week.
I wasn't thrilled with my initial wire wrap design so I removed the wire and redid the earrings from scratch. I've become much more skilled at wire wrapping so I was able to create much better-looking earrings -- and I wanted this woman to get her money's worth. I then sent them out, hoping, as always, that she'd like the final product.
A few days later, I heard from her. She not only liked the earrings, but explained that she'd purchased them because they matched an amethyst necklace that her late husband had given her. She'd been looking for a way to complete the set and my earrings worked. She sent me a photo of the pieces and she was right; my earrings were a perfect match for her husband's gift.
I'm always pleased when my customers like their purchases and, of course, enjoy getting compliments on my work, but her note moved me to tears. I feel as if she were meant to have these earrings and this was the reason why it took so long for me to sell them. I'm honored that she'll be wearing my jewelry along with this precious, sentimental reminder of her loved one.
I don't have any delusions that my jewelry will change the world. My earrings and bracelets won't bring world peace or fix the environment, or cure cancer -- but I'm glad that I can bring at least a little bit of happiness to my customers and can help them create some new memories.
So far, 2013 hasn't been a good year for craft fairs. One was rained out. At the next, I did well, but not many people showed up -- which was a bummer since it was for charity. This morning's fair was hot, humid ... and kind of horrifying.
I signed up to sell my jewelry at a local church flea market that's not too far from my home. I'd passed the site many times and it looked as if they got a good crowd. The registration was inexpensive so I thought, "Why not?" and arranged to be there this morning at 7 a.m.
I had no problems with getting up so early on a Sunday, but it's pretty hot today in NYC -- about 90 or so. It doesn't feel too bad if you're out walking around or are in the shade, but it feels as if it's a furnace if you're sitting right in the sun. Since this was my first time doing this fair, I was given one of the worst spots, which had no shade at all. I should've brought an umbrella, but didn't.
The customers arrived early for this fair, probably because there are regulars who stop by every Sunday, and the crowd was pretty large. I could tell, though, that I was selling my goods in the wrong venue. Most of the other booths contained garage sale-type items (used clothes, worn jewelry, old kitchen ware) that were being sold for dollar-store prices. Not that there's anything wrong with this (hey, I love a good garage sale), but this was not an artisan market. People were looking to pay $1 for an old shirt, not spend $20 on handmade earrings.
Moreover, the customers were relentless in driving the vendors down to the lowest cent possible. I'm fine with bargaining, but I've never seen anything like this. One guy tried to buy a vinyl bag from the vendor next to me and was haggling with her over $2. Finally she said, "Forget it, it's not for sale," but he wouldn't leave her alone! He wandered behind her table and for literally 45 minutes kept going, "Madame, Madame, gimme, gimme, I want to buy!" She kept shooing him away and he kept coming back, going so far as to interrupt her discussions with other customers. I wondered if I should call the cops on him because he seemed to be a little unhinged. Eventually he bought the bag at the price asked, but wow....
On the other side of me, a man was selling fake pearl jewelry for $2. People were trying to bargain him down to $1. I was basically ignored since my stuff was way overpriced for this place -- and I charge really low prices for handmade, high quality items.
As the day wore on, it got hotter and hotter and I began to feel nauseated. A few people stopped by my stand, but none bought; one even yelled at me for trying to make small talk. I then did something I almost never do and left the fair early. I could see that I wasn't going to sell anything and I was just soooo uncomfortable sitting there in the heat. I hate giving up like that, but I couldn't deal -- and I knew that this wasn't the place for me. I would've stuck it out had it not been so hot outside.
I don't know why I've had such bad luck with fairs this year. Last year was productive, especially during the fall. I hope to find some venues that are a better fit than this one.
Meanwhile, I've decided that what I really want to do with my jewelry career is teach. I love taking classes and would like to pass along that knowledge. I think that learning an art can be very beneficial; not only is it practical (if you make your own jewelry, you can save money), but it can be relaxing and a great way to relieve stress. Right now, I'm still learning new skills and am not even sure what it takes to open a studio. But this is how I see my future. I'm tired of sitting around at fairs, waiting for people to show up. I want to do something that will be fun and will make a difference in other's lives.
Friday, June 21, 2013
It's no secret that I adore the color blue. It reminds me of so many pleasant and relaxing things: looking up at the sky on a clear day, swimming in the ocean, staring out into the Mediterranean when we visited Greece. I could go on and on, but the point it, I love blue hues. To honor my infatuation, I made this silver wire wrapped bangle bracelet using 8mm square crystals in dark blue, turquoise and aqua:
I've made a lot of these bracelets, mainly because they sell very well at craft fairs. They're simple, but elegant, and because they're made of wire are lightweight and comfortable to wear. I haven't sold too many online, but they always catch people's attention when I sell them in person.
At the last fair I did, I'd made a few bracelets that were too small. People would go to try them on and would be disappointed when they turned out to be child sized. This comes from me designing stuff for MayaGirl Creations! But this one measured out perfectly, at about 7 1/2 inches. It fits tightly on my wrist -- and I have a wide wrist -- which means it'll fit an average-sized adult woman.
One of my best-selling items at MayaGirl Creations have been my wire wrapped daisy flower earrings. In honor of it being my store's first anniversary, I designed a variation on this popular piece: double daisy dangle earrings:
As you can see, these earrings have two daisies instead of just one! They still have the colorful flowers in purple, hot pink, pink and aqua blue, but they're adorned by a smaller silver daisy.
I initially thought about mixing colors -- purple and blue, for example -- and still might do that, but I like how the silver looks with each. It's fun and colorful, but elegant. I also had to make these daisies a bit smaller than the single-design ones because I don't want them to hang too long in children's ears. I like the result, though, and think they're a fun addition to my shop! Check it out, as well as my other store, Naomi's Designs.
Part of the reason why I haven't blogged much lately is because I've been studying a new enameling technique (well, new to me, anyway, since the technique itself goes back to ancient times): champleve.
With champleve, you carve out a design or groove into a piece of metal and then fill that depression with enamel. The piece then looks as if it's been inlaid with the glass and the design has a lot of depth and texture.
There are many ways in which you can carve the piece: you can engrave it, cut out an opening in one piece of metal and then solder it onto a backing (and then have subsequent pieces cast), or, as I'm doing, you can burn the metal with an acid.
Different types of metals require different acids to burn. I've been using copper so ferric chloride is my substance of choice. Silver uses nitric acid, but this substance is extremely dangerous to use, which is why I'm avoiding it. Eventually, I'll have some copper pieces cast in silver or silver plated.
To actually burn out the design is pretty easy. I start with a thick piece of copper -- 16 or 18 gauge -- and apply a resist to all of the areas that I DON'T want to burn. This means that if you want to have a triangle-shaped depression, you cover all of the areas of the metal EXCEPT for that triangle. You can use many things as a resist, but I like nailpolish because it's sticky and stays on for a long time without breaking up. The downside is that it's difficult to draw fine lines with it. A paint pen might be a better choice if you want to create a more exact, detailed design. I make sure to paint all of the necessary areas, including the sides of the metal, with the polish and then cover the back of the metal with some contact paper. I then place the metal FACE DOWN into the acid. Also important: I don't just plop the metal into the acid. I keep it suspended on some flat sponges, which I cut into strips. Whenever I remove my pieces, I use copper tongs -- and I always wear goggles, a surgical mask and latex gloves. Most pieces take at least three hours to get a nice, deep groove.
As I'm sure you've guessed, working with acid is DANGEROUS. Kids, do NOT try this at home. Actually, do not try this at all!!!!! Adults, do not try this without proper safety gear and without first learning the basics. I'm still nervous whenever I have to work with the acid. One wrong spill and you can get seriously hurt.
I keep my acid in a Tupperware container, which obviously will not be reused for food! You can store it and reuse it a few times, though it does eventually lose its effectiveness. You can't just dump it down a drain; I first neutralize it with baking soda. Again, this is serious stuff!!!
Anyway, I've managed to carve out some interesting pieces. Right now, I'm working on a series of heart earrings made on 18 gauge copper:
These aren't yet finished. The enamel needs to be sanded so that it's flush with the metal and the copper needs to be cleaned and polished. But you get the basic idea of how the glass looks against the metal. The toughest part for me, so far, has been figuring out how to apply certain colors. Because the glass is going into a groove, the colors come out much darker than they do when they're simply applied to the copper's surface. I finally figured out that it's best to first apply a coat of white or clear enamel and to then add the layers of color. You also need to heat that first coat for a bit longer than you normally would because again, the enamel is lower down.
Right now, I'm burning a square piece of metal with a square groove that will look sort of like a frame. I'm letting it sit in the acid for longer than usual because I want a very deep depression. I then plan to experiment by working with cloisonne within the groove. Next time, I'll show you a before picture so you can see what the burned-away copper looks like.
A couple of weeks ago, my husband went on a business trip to Seattle. While there, he purchased a little gift for me: a copper and silver wire wrapped name bracelet.
I'll be honest: at first, I didn't quite appreciate the gift because it looks just like something I can make myself. However, when he explained that he wanted to buy me something with my name because I can hardly ever find Naomi name jewelry, I appreciated it a lot more! How sweet was that? I now wear it all the time.
Still, I wondered if I really COULD make a similar bracelet. This one had a simple, but very efficient design; only one piece of 18 gauge copper wire was used. It was folded over onto itself and then given an adjustable band. The name was then wire wrapped into a middle section. Jon said that these were selling like hotcakes on the street and were going for about $20. Not bad for a mostly copper bracelet!
Well, the other day I had some time to kill before my enameling class so I hung out in Jon's office and decided to try my hand at this bracelet. I didn't have 18 gauge copper with me, so I used 18 gauge sterling silver wire. Other than that, though, I used a similar style to the mine. I got it, but know what? It wasn't that easy to make. The hardest part was the name because I needed to twist the letters in a particular way to make them recognizable and functional within the design.
Overall, I'm happy with how it turned out. I like how it looks in solid silver. I also made the name a lot bigger than the name is on mine. I have it up at MayaGirl Creations because it seems like the type of item that a girl would like. I can't take full credit for the idea, but this seems to be the standard design for name bracelets online (of which there are many). So I can't say that this is my most original creation -- but it does have my twist on it.
Jon has suggested that I sell these at my next craft fair, but I don't know if I can make them as quickly as the guy who made mine apparently did. I wish I knew his name so I can give him a shout-out. But, thank you, Seattle artisan for making my bracelet -- and for inspiring me to try my hand at it. I hope you sell many, many more!
Hey there! It's been a really long time since I've written, but life has been busy. I'm back, though, for a special occasion: today is the one-year anniversary of my children's jewelry shop, MayaGirl Creations!
I came up with the idea for a children's jewelry line after a friend requested that I design some kids' pieces for an upcoming show. I then purchased a collection of colorful wires and beads, came up with some fun shapes ... and MayaGirl Creations (named for my cat, Maya, who's sitting on my lap right now) was born!
Designing jewellery for kids is a bit different than making pieces for adults. Kids like bright, fun jewelry so color is key; I use a lot of blues, pinks, reds, etc. Safety is also a very big deal. Of course, it's always important as you don't want to make necklaces that strangle the wearer or bracelets that'll poke someone in the wrist, but I'm extra cautious when it comes to making things for little ones. I blunt the edges of the wire so they won't accidentally poke themselves and use hypoallergenic surgical steel earring wires since most kids' ears can tolerate that material. I also recommend that kids under three don't wear my jewelry -- and that younger kids only wear pieces when an adult is supervising.
Another thing I've had to take into account is size. It should go without saying, but children have tiny hands, wrists and ears! Though my earrings are all dangle style, I try not to make them too long. I've also made a lot of my bracelets with an adjustable chain so that kids can grow into their piece. It still surprises me a bit when I realize just HOW small kids' need their jewelry sized. I feel like Godzilla in comparison!
So far, my most popular items have been my wire wrapped earrings. I've sold many at craft fairs -- to both adults and kids, in fact -- and a bunch online. One person even bought nine pairs from me, which was awesome.
My next most popular item has been my wire wrapped infinity birthstone ring. I've sold several of these to moms giving them to their daughters as gifts. I've also sold a few to adults who stumbled onto this site instead of my grown-up store, Naomi's Designs. I don't really care if they order from this site, though; as long as they give me the proper size, it's fine.
I haven't sold too many bracelets so I haven't made too many. Since earrings seem to be what kids like, I've been concentrating on those, though I do like to shake things up and add in different types of pieces. So far, though, it's been an exciting year and I'm happy with my shop's progress. Be sure to check it out, as well as my other shop, Naomi's Designs!