Happy Holidays from Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations! In honor of this season, here are some red, green, silver, gold and blue handmade wire wrapped and enamel pieces. Have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa and a Wonderful New Year!
Friday, December 20, 2013
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Business has been booming for Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations this holiday season! Obviously, I'm very, very thankful for this and am so happy that people like my work. But there's an added bonus to selling all of this jewelry: I'm getting into shape!
No, I'm not getting a workout from making the jewelry -- though let me tell you, you can work up quite a sweat when you're trying to bend a particularly tough piece of wire. But I am using my jewelry deliveries as an excuse to get out and walk.
I began to track my walks back in September and have been adding more miles as time has gone on. Meanwhile, I usually make at least two trips to the post office each week so I can ship my orders. Rather than simply walking to the post office, which is about a half mile away, I've been taking long, winding routes to get there. Today I completed a four mile walk before I actually made it to the post office!
I'm not yet ready to run any marathons, but all of this walking is beginning to pay off: since September, I've walked over 100 miles; even better, my weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, pulse and blood sugar are all lower. Woo hoo! And this improvement in my health is at least partially connected to my jewelry business.
Realistically, the business boom is going to soon come to an end. The holidays are almost here and I anticipate a lull in the next few weeks. Still, I'm going to continue to make new jewelry -- and to continue with these walks -- even if I don't have a date with the post office.
Monday, December 16, 2013
Believe it or not, we don't often have a white Christmas in New York City. December is usually pretty cold, but it tends to be a drier month. The big snows typically fall from January-March. We're having a very snowy season, though, and the weather keeps getting in the way of my enameling class. I skipped class last week because of the snow and it looks as if we're having another storm tomorrow, which means I'll probably miss it again.
A few inches of snow isn't that big of a deal for us, but I still don't enjoy traveling in it. The streets can get icy and there are often train delays. I'm fortunate in that I work from home so I don't *have* to travel if there's bad weather. When I'm nice and cozy in my warm apartment with my cat by my side, it's much easier to just stay put!
I'm disappointed because tomorrow is our last class of the semester and we won't be meeting again until the end of January. Still, I'm pleased with my progress. I made several interesting pieces this fall and learned a new skill: champleve. I also sold many of my enameled jewelry, so the class isn't just fun for me: it's profitable.
Next semester I'd like to try some new skills. My teacher has suggested that I experiment with sifting techniques; I'd also like to enamel objects that aren't flat, such as a curved piece of jewelry or even a bowl. As long as I continue to learn and have fun, I'll stick with this class. Just hopefully the snow won't keep me away all winter!
Thursday, December 12, 2013
A few months ago, I made an enamel and cloisonne pendant for my mom's birthday. She likes blues, so I created an abstract design that incorporated different shades of blue: aqua, turquoise and nitric blue, which is a deeper version of the hue.
I really liked how this necklace turned out and planned to make another ... and finally designed another version of it. This one doesn't look exactly the same, plus the blues are a little different (I used water blue, aqua and sky blue), but the basic idea is the same:
What's interesting about this newer piece is that I used a bit of silver foil in the design; it's beneath the darker blues. If you look closely, you can see that the color shimmers a bit more than in the other areas.
I also didn't actually use cloisonne wire for this pendant because it's the end of the semester and I ran out. Instead, I improvised and used fine silver bezel wire, which is meant for wrapping cabochons and gems. Bezel wire is a bit thicker than cloisonne wire, so I had to slice it down the center to make it a more suitable length. But fine silver is fine silver and it worked! You just can't use sterling silver when making an enamel piece because it won't heat correctly. As with the other necklace, I made the chain from silver plated wire and added blue crystals.
My plan (among many others) is to do a little series that features these geometric pendants. I have one class left before our winter break. I think I might make another version of this using enamels in purple, yellow and raspberry -- a big change from these cool blues. What do you think?
Most of the people who purchase my jewelry pieces live in different states or even another country. Because of that, I don't often get to actually see anyone wearing my jewelry -- other the friends to whom I've given pieces as gifts. But my friend Isabel has shared this selfie where she's wearing my silver wire wrapped lava stone necklace with Swarovski crystal hearts:
Here's a close-up of the necklace:
One of the advantages of being my friend (or disadvantage in some cases, I suppose) is that you'll eventually be given some of my handmade jewelry. I've made a bunch of pieces for my mom and designed a keychain for my dad. All of my female friends have been given various necklaces, earrings, bracelets, etc. I NEVER pressure my friends to purchase my work, but I have had a couple of friends buy from me. Still, I enjoy giving my work away to my loved ones. What better way to show that you care than to give a gift that was made with that person in mind?
I knew that Isabel would appreciate this necklace because she's an artist herself. She sings, plays several instruments, including piano, guitar and flute, paints and writes poetry. A few years ago, I played flute on her CD Isabel And The Whispers and she played guitar on my CD Flute Path. I don't think she's ever made jewelry, but she still understands the work that went into making this pendant.
Anyway, she makes a great model, don't you think? Seeing her with my piece has made me realize that I need to have more friends model my jewelry for me. This way, everyone can see how my pieces look "in motion" and on an actual person. I have plenty of jewelry projects in store for the new year, but I'll add this to my list!
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
For most of this semester I've been making champleve pieces in my enameling class. However, a few weeks ago, I went back to designing a simple enamel and cloisonne pendant. I hadn't made one in a long time and I wanted to make sure that I didn't forget how to do that particular technique.
I arranged the cloisonne into a classic flower design. It may look pretty simple, but setting the flower petals turned out to be trickier than I imagined because cloisonne wire sometimes moves a bit when the piece is fired in the kiln. With abstract pieces this isn't that big of a deal, but it can be a pain when you need the cloisonne to be in an exact position -- like with a flower. I solved the problem, though, by firing a bit of the cloisonne at a time. This way, the remaining pieces of wire could lean against the already-fired cloisonne and would stay in place.
To get this particular shade of blue, I did some color combining and mixed water blue enamel with nitric blue. Just to be clear, you can't really mix enamels when the glass is in the dry powder stage -- but you can layer colors to get some shading. So I fired the water blue first and then layered the nitric blue on top of it to get this rich hue.
The flower's color is called raspberry. I love it because it's such a deep shade of pink and it really stands out against the blue. In its powdered form, it doesn't look like the raspberry will be very bright -- in fact, it's kind of pale -- but it looks a lot different once its fired and glossy. This is the case with a lot of enamels, actually; they look different once fired and cooled, which is why it's important to make a test strip of colors.
My finish for the necklace is pretty simple: I made a silver wire wrapped chain and added a few blue crystals... but I think the end result makes a nice showpiece. This is the kind of necklace that you wear for special occasions because it's so eye-catching, though it works with casual outfits, too. And flowers will always be fashionable in some way; they're a very classic design.
Monday, December 9, 2013
Most of the customers whom I've dealt with on Etsy have been really nice. The people who shop on Etsy truly appreciate the fact that my items are handmade and recognize the work that goes into them. I think it's a great site and love that artists have a place to sell their goods online.
Now that the holiday season is upon us, things have gotten pretty busy at Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations. I'm not complaining!!!!! I'm honored that people plan to give my jewelry as gifts to their girlfriends, daughters, friends, etc. And I think it's cool that customers who live as far as Australia are ordering from me.
Still, this time a year can be a blessing and a curse. I think that most shop owners (on Etsy and otherwise) see a bump in sales. However, I feel somewhat like Santa in that I HAVE to get the gifts to everyone on time -- and that adds a whole lot of pressure.
I pride myself on shipping items quickly. On my site, my policies state that customers can expect items to be shipped within 3-5 business days, though I usually mail them out before then. When it comes to the holidays, though, I often get requests for rush orders so people can have their gifts in time for whatever celebration is on the horizon. I do my best to get them out by the requested date, but unfortunately, I also have to depend on USPS ... and the holidays can sometimes slow them down. Hence the stress.
I could send my packages via FedEx or UPS, but that costs a lot more money, especially if I overnight the parcels. I'm already shipping for free at the moment, so I'm losing a little money, anyway. It's worth it to me to add in that touch of great service; I like to give "extras," such as holiday specials. I just hate feeling like I'm out of control. I've been constantly checking the USPS site to make sure that my orders are en route... and it's frustrating when not much information is given about packages on the way to Australia, for example. Tracking in the US is a lot easier to do, obviously, but there still have been some delays.
I don't mind the hard work and I appreciate the holiday sales ... but I'll be relieved when I can relax and not have to keep such a tight eye on USPS.
Friday, December 6, 2013
This semester of enameling is almost over, but it's been a good one! I've gotten better at making champleve pieces and am much more comfortable when it comes to improvising enameling techniques. For instance, I'm currently working on a cloisonne pendant and had run out of cloisonne wire; I ended up using silver bezel wire instead. The wire was twice as thick and I had to cut it down the middle to thin it out, but it worked!
Last Tuesday, the Y held a jewelry fair where members of the various jewelry classes could sell their work. I considered signing up, but decided not to because vendors had to submit an entrance fee AND give back half of their profits to the Y. Still, I purchased an etched metal bracelet from a friend and enjoyed seeing what others had to sell. It was nice to be able to just leisurely wander around a craft fair, for once.
We have some really talented artists at the Y. Most of the pieces being sold were amazing -- and kind of put me to shame. I think that I'm a decent jewelry designer, but most of these people are incredible. I only hope to be that good one day. That said, many of the pieces were extremely expensive. I think that everyone raised their prices so they could actually make a profit, but I thought that many of the pieces were priced too high for what they were. Little beaded bracelets should not be $70. Just sayin'. But the money did go to a good cause as the Y offers many wonderful classes, in jewelry, music and other fields.
Though I'm feeling a little inferior compared to some of these artists, I'm still wondering if I should set up a booth at the next fair. The friend from whom I purchased the bracelet only had about a dozen items on his table... and he managed to sell out. I could bring in only about 10-15 of my high-end pieces and then charge higher prices like everyone else was doing. It seemed like this fair was a success and I didn't see any other wire artists.
Speaking of my enameling class, I'm happy to report that I recently sold two of the items I made at the Y: my enamel cat and my enamel hamsa pendant:
I spent weeks on each piece and am thrilled that they were finally purchased! I hope that the wearers enjoy them. Though the class is fun, I put a lot of work into each item and am glad that it's literally paying off. It's cool to know that there are people out there who are wearing my one-of-a-kind necklaces.
With this session winding down, I'm just working on a couple of simple pieces, but I have some wild ideas for next semester. I'm already eager to get to work! To purchase my jewellery, head to Naomi's Designs or MayaGirl Creations.