Saturday, June 30, 2012

Wire wrapped bracelet daisy flowers in blue, turquoise and aqua

Yuck, it's so hot out today in New York City! It's supposed to reach a sizzling 98 degrees so I'm hiding out inside where we can crank up the A/C. I'm also trying to think of cooling thoughts ... like snow-covered mountains and the North Pole.

A great way to "think cool," too is to envision cool colors, like blues and greens. So here is one of my recent designs, this wire wrapped daisy flower bracelet in blue, turquoise and aqua:

Once upon a time, purple was my favorite color, but as an adult it's all shades of blue. I think it's because blue reminds me of the ocean and I love the water. That probably has something to do with my birth sign being Aquarius.

From a distance, this wire wrapped pattern looks almost as if it were knit, but that's all wire. It still amazes me sometimes that I can take a strand of wire and turn it into a complex object, like a daisy. I like making as many parts of my pieces as I can from scratch and working with wire allows me to do just that.

To purchase my jewelry, head to Naomi's Designs. To purchase my children's jewelry, head to MayaGirl Creations.

Wire wrapped rings in hot pink fuchsia

I haven't been working with colored wire for very long, but it's always a thrill to come upon a new color that I haven't yet used. It reminds me of when I was a kid and would draw with crayons or sculpt things with Play-Doh. Probably the best part was when I first removed that crayon or clay from its package and I could admire the color, all perfect and shiny and pristine. That's how I feel when I get a brand-new coil of colorful wire. Or maybe I'm just attracted to shiny objects...

I recently got this hot pink wire. It's so bright and fun ... and makes me think back to my youth in the '80s when I was obsessed with neon clothing. I have no idea if neon is back in style, but I had a good time playing with this color wire and made these two rings:

This is a neon pink version of my wire wrapped heart ring for girls:

And then this is a new style that I came up with, hot pink kissing lips!

I love being creative and having fun when I make pieces. Having cool, new colors to play with is a surefire way to keep me happy!

To purchase my jewelry, head to Naomi's Designs. To purchase my children's jewelry, head to MayaGirl Creations.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Silver and copper bezel stacked rings

My last metalsmithing class was on Tuesday. I've never been so happy to have a "fun" experience end.

I know now after taking metalsmithing classes for the past five months that I just don't care that much for that art. I certainly respect it and now know what goes into making rings and chains, etc., and I defintely came away with some new skills. But I just couldn't get into it.

Part of this is because I don't seem to have any natural abilities when it comes to doing metalsmith work. I could never figure out how to properly solder items and was constantly over or underheating items. Most of my items weren't successfully soldered together or melted under my watch. The only times I "succeeded" was when I had help from my teachers -- and both seemed to realize how untalented I am at this. My last teacher was just plain frustrated with me. This last one was very kind and patient, but even she sort of gave up on me in the end and just did all of my work for me. I just didn't look forward to the class and always felt like an idiot.

I think another reason that I dislike metalsmithing is because it's a very technical art. Granted, making any type of jewelry requires certain skills. However, hen I work with wire, clay or enamel, I can get lost in a project. With metalsmithing, you constantly have to file and fire things and time things ... there's a lot of labor and work that requires you to be on your toes. I just couldn't lose myself and be creative with it.

I haven't fully given up on metalsmithing. One of my jewelry class friends suggested that I get a soldering gun and practice on my own. This way, I won't be under the pressure of getting a project done in time or have to worry about a teacher evaluating my skills. I also won't have any teachers jump in to finish projects for me.

Anyway, I managed to make these silver and gold stacking rings with bezel set stones in my class. I had *a lot* of help, but I did at least 80 percent of the work and they do look cool:

On a funny note, I made up a little song as I used the easy solder (which melts at a lower temperature than hard or medium solder) to attach the bezels. To the tune of Phil Collins "Easy Lover," I sang, "This is easy solder. It'll fuse your ring, believe it. It'll meld your jewelry. Your piece finally will be complete." Hey, I had to find some way to enjoy myself!

To purchase my jewelry, head to Naomi's Designs. To purchase my children's jewelry, head to MayaGirl Creations.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Funky fine silver earrings made of pmc

I had so much fun in my precious metal clay class! Working with this material is just so relaxing and you can do so much with it. The class was tiny (only four people), but our teacher was great and the other students were interesting.

I managed to make so many pieces during the six week semester and was admittedly very business-minded. I wasn't too experimental; I made many pendants and earrings, things that people would actually wear and that I could sell. The other students, however, made some crazy stuff! One woman made a small pmc basket and then filled it with little baby figurines (which she attached using resin). And just because it wasn't creepy enough, she filled their eyes with cubic zirconias. Meanwhile, the guy in our class had this plan to make a piece with doll eyes (what is it with creepy doll parts?), but ended up making pmc thistles and peanuts. He did so by covering the items with thick coats of pmc slurry; then when you bake them, the items burn out and the precious metal clay cast of the item is left over. Neat!

I felt a little boring making my pretty earrings, but I just wasn't up for making pmc clown heads or something. I wanted something a bit more ... mainstream. Still, I did joke about my items. They had to be dried before they could be put in the kiln so we'd stick our pieces in a toaster for a few minutes. So I'd say things like, "Time to bake the butterflies," or "Time to cook the cat heads." I think we all had a macabre sense of humor!

Here are some of the fine silver earrings I made in this class, all of which I listed at MayaGirl Creations:

I definitely plan to take another pmc class come October when the Y resumes classes. I don't understand why it isn't more popular, but hey, more equipment for me!

To purchase my children's jewelry, head to MayaGirl Creations. To purchase my grownup jewelry, head to Naomi's Designs.

Colorful rainbow wire wrapped bracelets

Great news! I made my first sales at MayaGirl Creations -- and in under a week. Yay! Plus, the woman who's hosting that charity event at which I'll be selling my children's jewelry told me that the kids and their moms loved my sample piece.

But I'm not letting it get to my head. I have so much work to do to make my latest shop a place worth checking out. And as always, I'm trying to create fun and unique items.

My latest designs are these colorful wire wrapped bracelets:

I've made both design before: the daisy links and the filigree clovers. But I had a good time using the colored wire and arranging the links like a rainbow. I'm imagining my future stand at craft fairs and just envisioning an explosion of color. I mean, when you were a kid, weren't you drawn to colorful things? Heck, I still am!

When it comes to kids, I'm also thinking in terms of safety, so I'm using ready-made hypoallergenic ear wires and am double checking pieces to make sure that there are no sharp edges. It's a new kind of challenge, but as you know, I always welcome that when it comes to doing something creative.

To purchase my children's jewelry, head to MayaGirl Creations. To purchase my grownup jewelry, head to Naomi's Designs.

Colorful abstract geometric enamel cloisonne art pendant

Tuesday marked my last enameling class at the 92nd Street Y. Though I was disappointed for it to end, I begin my new enameling class in Brooklyn on Monday.

I absolutely love enameling. As frustrated as metalsmithing makes me, enameling makes me happy. I love the whole process and that satisfied feeling you get when you pull a "baked" piece from the kiln and see your colors turned to beautiful glass.

It generally takes me about three hours to do a small piece, so I had just enough time to finish one more art pendant in class:

Once again, I was very obviously inspired by my love of modern art. But though the blocks of color look randomly set up, I took a lot of time to arrange the cloisonne wire in the exact pattern that I wanted. I think that's part of why I enjoy this art; because using cloisonne is a bit like wire wrapping. You have to shape and arrange the wire in the way that you want it to appear. However, instead of actually wrapping the wire, the cloisonne fuses to the enamel when fired. And there's no soldering involved -- woo hoo!

In my last piece, I felt that I hadn't added quite enough black enamel onto the pendant so I made sure to apply enough coats this time around. I like the glossy, smooth finish of the colors. I was afraid that the oval shape would make this look like an Easter egg, so I avoided using too much pink or yellow -- and I've been assured that the pendant doesn't look egg-like!

To finish the piece, I made a chunky chain out of 16 gauge fine silver wire. Overall, the piece involved a lot of labor and material, but I had a great time making it. I'm anxious for Monday to arrive!

To purchase my jewelry, head to Naomi's Designs. To purchase my children's jewelry, head to MayaGirl Creations.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Funky Wire Wrapped Heart Earrings

Often an idea for a jewelry piece comes to me simply based on the materials I have on hand. These days in particular, I'm trying to be more frugal when it comes to purchasing jewelry making products. I still buy new things if necessary, but I'm trying to refrain from stockpiling beads and crystals.

I had some leftover colorful wire and I still have about a million billion Swarovski crystal hearts in every color imaginable, so I created some earrings that used both materials ... and came up with these wire wrapped heart earrings with dangling Swarovski hearts.

Here they are in pink:

And in purple

I plan to eventually make similar heart earrings in red, blue, black, green ... all of the colors of the rainbow. Since I'm now designing a line for kids, I have to think in terms of bright colors -- and in terms of collections. I remember that when I was a kid, I liked to have entire sets of things, so if someone made heart earrings in various colors, I would've wanted them all.

As a random side note, I'm finding that it's very hard to photograph purple jewelry. It tends to look black on screen, even if the light's good. One of my bracelets had purple and black links placed next to one another and I had to move them around because they just would not photograph well. I've solved the problem by photographing purple against a black backdrop, but it's a weird problem that I never expected to encounter. I have a reputation for being a horrible photographer (and even worse videographer) in my family; I even get made fun of for my awful photos. But I'm practicing and am learning how to make my Etsy pics look at least well, decent, if not great. It's funny how many skills you actually need to know to successfully run an Etsy store -- writing, business, knowing keywords, photography... it really is a lot of work, but so far, it's been worth it.

To purchase my jewelry, head to Naomi's Designs. And to purchase my children's jewelry, head to MayaGirl Creations.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Etsy Mini Of My Latest Jewelry Designs

Here's a gallery view of my latest jewelry pieces at MayaGirl Creations:

And here's the Etsy Mini for Naomi's Designs:

Funky rainbow multicolored wire wrapped bracelet with filigree design

This rainbow filigree bracelet is one of the first items I made for my new Etsy shop, MayaGirl Creations. I've been invited to sell my jewelry at an upcoming charity event, but the woman in charge asked me to make children's pieces. So I took my basic wire wrapped filigree bracelet design and used pink, blue and purple to create this multicolored version of it:

I made this using 18 gauge plated copper wire, which was a little difficult to work with, especially since I was trying to make smaller versions of the filigree clovers. I find that the colored wire is tough, so I ordered some in 20 gauge. I think the slightly softer wire will have more flexibility for creating this type of looped design. Still, I like the colors in this bracelet.

Yesterday, I gave a bracelet and two rings to the charity organizer so she'd have some samples of my work to show around. I hope that the kids (and their parents) like my stuff and will be interested in buying my pieces when the time comes. I guess I'll hear of their reactions when I next see the organizer at the bus stop on Tuesday. But for now, I'm having fun making bright, colorful children's jewelry designs.

To purchase my children's jewelry, head to MayaGirl Creations. And to purchase my grownup jewelry, head to Naomi's Designs.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

My New Store On Etsy!!!!

Big news! I've opened a second shop on Etsy. In this one I specifically sell children's jewelry. I'm calling it MayaGirl Creations (Maya is my cat, FYI).

I got the idea for this shop on Tuesday when I was chatting with a friend at the bus stop that morning. She invited me to sell my jewelry at an upcoming charity event that she's hosting for Autism Speaks. However, she asked if I could rework my designs for kids since she's already secured a vendor who makes adult jewelry. She even plans to have a fashion show with the girls modeling my stuff! One of the girls is a real model who's appeared in commercials and print ads, so this is very exciting!

Anyway, I created a few sample pieces for her and thought that as long as I'm making this stuff, I should try my hand at a children's jewelry store. I already had all of that bright colored wire and I have all of those Swarovski crystal hearts so I have plenty of materials to get started. It'll also be interesting to see how well I do in a narrower market as there are far fewer children's jewelry vendors out there -- at least on Etsy. Yet the demand still seems to be pretty high because most popular retail outlets devote a section to kids' jewelry.

So far, I've only made a few pieces, but I ordered some more wire so I can create colorful things. Here is a peek at some of the pieces I've listed so far:

Pink daisy earrings:

Shooting star earrings:

Rainbow spiral bracelet:

Pink heart ring:

To purchase my children's jewelry, head to MayaGirl Creations. And to purchase my grownup jewelry, head to Naomi's Designs.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Abstract enamel pendant necklace with geometric rainbow cloisonne design

This afternoon I finished my second enamel pendant! I also tried my hand at making a cloisonne design:

While my last enamel piece consisted of cool colors -- blues and purples -- I went for bright, bold rainbow colors for this, and set them against the black background for good measure. I love modern art so I wanted to do something that was very colorful and geometric. My teacher said that it made her think of clowns. Uh ... I don't know if that's a good thing because clowns are a little scary and I was going for something classier than that, but I was aiming to make something that's fun.

We had kind of a frustrating enamel class otherwise. Something was wrong with the kilns so it took them 90 minutes to heat up to the necessary 1500 degrees F. In that time, I definitely could've started another piece. Still, the process of applying the cloisonne wire was interesting. You apply and heat the base coat, then add the wire so that it "sinks" into the enamel. You can then paint in between the lines of the cloisonne. I've always liked cloisonne jewelry and even visited a factory in China where they made cloisonne pieces. So it was fun to be able to make my own cloisonne stuff.

In other news, I'm all set for the next enamel class, which I'm taking with Fitzgerald Jewelery. I have to schlep to Brooklyn -- at night, no less -- but if it's a good class it'll be worth it. Plus, I'm happy to have six more weeks of enamel class right after this one ends. I actually feel like I'm good at this particular craft (unlike soldering) and want to keep up the momentum.

To purchase my jewelry, head to Naomi's Designs. To purchase my children's jewelry, head to MayaGirl Creations.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Driving Traffic To Your Etsy Shop With A Blog

This feels a little meta posting this here, but I think it's valuable information for anyone who's looking to make money online in some way. This is an article I wrote for HubPages about using a blog to drive traffic to an Etsy store.

Making money online -- whether it's through writing, opening a shop on Etsy, or whatever -- is a complicated business. And yes, it's a business. When I began writing online about three years ago, I knew NOTHING. I thought that I could post some articles and people would automatically find my site. Same goes for Etsy; though I wasn't quite as naive when I opened my shop, I still did many things wrong. In both cases, I had to learn about search engine optimization (SEO), backlinks, rss feeds and all of these other new, unfamiliar words. It was like learning a new language and a new culture ... all so I could make a few extra bucks.

I've been fairly successful with online marketing and feel confident enough to share my expertise with the rest of the world. When I began, I looked for articles that catered to people like me -- people who really didn't know too much about using computers to make money. I'm hoping that my easy-to-understand approach will assist those who want to get started and don't know how.

I won't lie. Making money online is NOT easy. I've put a lot of time into marketing my writing and my jewelry, and while I've done pretty well, I'm still not nearly as successful as I'd like to be. I'm still learning. I hope that my words make this learning just a little easier for someone else.

To purchase my jewelry, head to Naomi's Designs.

New Enameling Class!

There are only two more enameling classes at the 92nd Street Y this semester and then the Y shuts down until October ... which leaves several months open for me.

I have to do *something* over the summer that involves seeing other people. Yes, running my own business is satisfying, but it can get a little lonely, too. I originally planned to take a writing course, but then came upon an enamel jewelry class that's being offered at a jewelry store in Brooklyn. It got great reviews and begins only a few days after my class at the Y ends ... and so I plan to sign up. I'm just waiting for the store owner to get back to me so I can secure my payment and my slot in the class.

I love the Y, but after taking four classes there it'll be interesting to see what another jewelry school is like. This enamel class sounds a little more advanced than the one I'm currently enrolled in so I hope to learn some new, cool techniques. I have all of these ideas for pieces in my head and I want to create them!

If this class is enjoyable, I guess I'll have to decide which school I want to continue at, or if I'll just take different classes at both. I just know that I'm fortunate to live in a city that offers so many different things.

To purchase my jewelry, head to Naomi's Designs. To purchase my children's jewelry, head to MayaGirl Creations.

Funky Wire Wrapped Bangle Bracelets

Lately I've sold a lot of my bangle bracelets. I've sold a few online and a bunch at the craft fairs. It's funny because I've had these bangle bracelets out for a while and they're just starting to catch steam. That seems to be the way things work when you make jewelry or some kind of craft -- things happen in waves.

Here's a peek at some of my wire wrapped bangles:

Making a wire wrapped bangle bracelet is challenging because usually when you work with wire, the object you make -- like a pair of earrings -- is flat. However, bangle bracelets are chunky and have depth to them, so your piece of jewelry needs to be more three dimensional. This means stacking several strands of wire together to make a very thick piece. It involves a lot of measuring and staightening. You then have to actually wrap the wire bundles around the bracelet to hold to strands together -- and that can take some trial and error.

Creating a bangle can take a little work, but they look really cool, especially when you stack them. I love how a single strand of wire can form a substantial bracelet.

To purchase my jewelry, head to Naomi's Designs. To purchase my children's jewelry, head to MayaGirl Creations.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Fine silver pendant necklaces made of precious metal clay

For as much time as it took me to make pieces in metalsmithing, working with precious metal clay means more "instant" gratification. Sure, skill and time are still necessary if you want to complete a nice piece, but the process is so much quicker, which I love. The way precious metal clay works is when you fire it, you burn out the water and binder ... leaving a pure silver piece of jewelry. It's very cool.

I've now made several pieces from pmc. Here is a look at them:

This one has kind of a tribal inspired design. The shape is a little rough and organic looking, but I think it works with the bold swirls.

This is my music lovers' pendant into which I carved a treble clef and music notes. It's simple, but pretty.

Here's my kitty cat pendant necklace. I'm proud to say that I carved the cat freehand -- no stencils or patterns or cutters were used to make him.

These are my favorite so far of my pmc jewelry. These little discs are so simple, but delicate and the little design adds some texture.

I already have ideas for my next few pieces, so stay tuned! To purchase my jewelry, head to Naomi's Designs. To purchase my children's jewelry, head to MayaGirl Creations.

Fine silver necklace with multicolored enamel pendant in blue, turquoise and purple

This is my very first finished piece of enamel jewelry! It was so much fun to make and I'm thrilled with how it turned out.

To make it, I cut a thin piece of copper from a copper sheet. Full disclosure: I was actually trying to make an oval using my teacher's high tech cutting machine, but missed and improvised. Still, I actually really like the long, thin shape of this piece.

Once I had the copper cut and filed, I coated the back with white glass powder (the enamel) and heated it in the 1500 degree F kiln. I then put more white on the front side because I like the way the colors look against the white -- they really pop.

After, I used a technique called wet packing to paint the stripes of purple, turquoise and blue. Basically, wet packing is a bit like water coloring you add a little water to the glass powder and then use a paint brush to dab it onto the metal.

During my first attempt, I made the mistake of letting the glass dry out too much. So when I went to fire my piece, I accidentally tilted it a bit ... and all of the powder ended up on the floor. Oops, who would I be without doing something ridiculously klutzy, right? Thankfully, I had enough glass left over to redo the design. This time, it fired up perfectly and I'm so happy with it. It feels really cool and smooth; it is glass, after all.

That chain it's hanging from is handmade from 16 gauge silver wire. I haven't worked too much with this gauge and it was a little tough compared to 18, but I wanted a nice, chunky chain to complete my piece.

I've already started my second enamel piece, which is going to be an oval pendant. I'm sooo looking forward to class on Tuesday!

To purchase my jewelry, head to Naomi's Designs. To purchase my children's jewelry, head to MayaGirl Creations.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Jewelry Making Toys!

This week my blogging is a little spotty because my cousin is in town visiting. I actually didn't know that she existed until this past January when she contacted me on Facebook. She'd found an old letter of my mom's and used that information to find me. So she and my mom did a little family tree work and we're second cousins twice removed or something like that.

Anyway, she's around my age and we've been keeping in touch, and thankfully, she's really cool. And she gave me the best present -- a gift certificate to Fire Mountain Gems!

I have another gift certificate from my birthday so I'm now debating what kinds of jewelry "toys" I want to get. A soldering gun? An enameling kiln? Neither is too expensive and it would be nice to be able to work on more complicated projects at home. Although knowing me, I'll end up buying more pretty crystals or wire!

I love that I have all of these options when it comes to jewelry making. Even adults can have fun playing with stuff!

To purchase my jewelry, head to Naomi's Designs. To purchase my children's jewelry, head to MayaGirl Creations.

I'm Now On Twitter!

I've put off joining Twitter for a long time because frankly, writing 140 character statements seemed a little silly to me. But I've finally joined and you know what? I'm eating my words because it's fun! I'm meeting so many cool jewelry designers online and this is a great way to connect to the community.

So if you're on Twitter, please follow me @NaomiRDesigns and see what I'm up to in my jewelry making life and otherwise!

To purchase my jewelry, head to Naomi's Designs.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Fun With Enameling

I had my third enameling class today and I'm really enjoying this craft. Painting with the glass powder is so relaxing and the pieces look so pretty. Our teacher showed us some of her work and it's amazing.

I spent most of today's class cutting out ovals and other shapes so that I can make some enameled pendants. This required a lot of cutting and filing, and drilling, etc., all of which I feel pretty comfortable doing, but the teacher kind of treated us all as if we'd never done it before. I think she's caught on to the fact that I'm a big, 'ol klutz -- I do have her for two classes, after all -- so she's keep doing stuff for me. I think she's a really great teacher, but I do wish she'd let me handle some more things, even if I do mess up. I guess my ideal teacher is someone who lets us fend for ourselves, but is patient and willing to take questions without making you feel stupid. I'm not sure if this person exists, but this teacher is really cool for the most part.

Anyway, I managed to make three sort of ovals and some long, abstract shapes. As my teacher said, they're "free form." I have some ideas for how I'll enamel them, though, and I think they'll look pretty. The idea is to do a bunch of different techniques so these should take me through the end of the semester. As I complete each piece, I'll post photos.

I got a taste of how hot the 1500 degree kiln is when I very stupidly grabbed the red hot tray right after it came out of the oven. Ouch-y-mama! God damn, did it hurt! Luckily, I had enough sense to immediately drop the tray ("Fire hot! Duh!") and my finger wasn't too badly burned -- just a couple of blisters. My teacher grabbed me a piece of aloe plant and wrapped the soothing leaf around my finger. Now it barely hurts at all. I suppose this kind of accident happens often in enameling if she's keeping an actual aloe plant on hand!

Injury aside, I had a good class and wish it were longer than 2 1/2 hours. I can't wait until next week when I'll get to put more time into my enameled jewelry. I adore making wire jewelry, but enameling could end up being my favorite thing to do.

To purchase my jewelry, head to Naomi's Designs.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Colorful Wire Wrapped Spiral Bracelet

Yesterday, I made this colorful wire wrapped spiral bracelet. I wanted to do something that used all of my colored wire and this turned out to be a fun project.

I realize that it looks like a lot of my other spiral jewelry, but the silver links are made with 16 gauge fine silver dead soft wire. I'd never worked with this gauge before and wasn't sure what to expect. It was a little tough and it took some force to twist it into the spiral, but it wasn't bad. And I like how tough it feels. I've worked with 14 gauge hard wire many times and that's so tough that it's more like dealing with a piece of soft metal than wire. But I was able to bend this 16 gauge stuff into shapes pretty easily, and it felt very strong.

It's funny thinking back to when I first started working with 20 gauge wire and I thought that that was hard to bend! I guess I've gotten stronger? I mean, you get stronger when you lift heavier weights; is it also possible to give your fingers a workout with different gauge wires?

To purchase my jewelry, head to Naomi's Designs.