Thursday, February 6, 2014

Tales from Enameling Class: Hot Topic

We had a little excitement in my enameling class this week: one of the new students almost set the studio on fire! As she removed her piece from the kiln, she somehow dropped the red-hot trivet onto a wood burnishing tool... and the tool burst into flames. Luckily, my teacher managed to extinguish the fire quickly and no one was hurt.

The woman was pretty embarrassed and kept apologizing, but we told her that in enameling, there are mostly "happy accidents." We've all had stories of overheating pieces or dropping things, or in my case, stupidly grabbing a still-hot-trivet and burning myself. I've never actually set anything on fire -- yet -- but it's easy to do something kind of careless when you're working with kilns, torches and other dangerous equipment. I've been making jewelry long enough that I feel comfortable with the tools, but this incident reminded me that as skilled as someone is, we still have to be careful. As I pointed out to the woman, my teacher keeps an aloe plant in the class, just in case someone gets injured. I told her to consider this incident a "right of passage." She'll get the hang of it -- and she'll be making beautiful pieces in no time.

Other than that, the class was business as usual. I brought in some munchkins to celebrate my birthday and began work on a new sgraffito pendant. I didn't have any new copper pieces with me, so I took an old "failed" project and layered enamel on top of it. I'd tried to make a champleve heart, but the depression wasn't deep enough so half of the enamel was peeling off. I scraped out as much as I could then covered that side of the metal with about five layers of deep blue glass. On the other side, I put down a light blue base and a dark blue topcoat; I then carved out a swirly design in the dark blue enamel so that you can see the light blue enamel beneath. I'll eventually post a photo when the necklace is complete, but my teacher said that it looks Moorish. Then she realized how many coats of enamel I used and was like, "But why is it so thick?"

I have this idea for a sgraffito bib necklace that I plan to work on. I want to use copper squares as the main part of the necklace and then attach long, thin strips of copper for the "bib." All of them will have a similar sgraffito design. It's going to take me weeks to make this, but I think it'll look really nice. I'm just trying to figure out what colors to use. I'm leaning toward the light/dark blue combo, but red and black might work, too.

Meantime, this has been a productive semester of enameling so far, despite the snow! To see more of my work, including my wire wrapped jewelry and enamel pieces, head to Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Photo Gallery: My Top 40 Wire Wrapped And Enamel Jewelry Pieces, Part IV

... And here are my very favorite 10 pieces from my Top 40 Birthday Collection! Be sure to check out Part 1, Part II and Part III, as well as my shops Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.

That silver ring with the cut-outs is the first thing I ever made in my metalsmithing class. Honestly, I didn't care for the class all that much, but I do like the ring. The metal necklaces -- the copper and silver squares, the copper heart and the copper squiggle with turquoise beads -- are important to me because I made them in my husband's office on the day that I was let go from my job at the magazine. I wasn't sure what the future held for me, but making these pieces calmed my nerves and made me feel a bit better about my life. Once I sold them, I felt as if my choice to go into jewelry making full time were validated.

The silver wire wrapped chandelier earrings with blue crystals are a favorite of mine because they remind me of the jewelry I saw when I was in Egypt many years ago. Meanwhile, I'm proud of the complex enamel pieces that I made: the cat (who's based on my cat, Maya), the hamsa pendant and the champleve fish necklace with turquoise beads. That hamsa pendant took forever to make, but was finally sold. The champleve necklace represents me learning a new enameling technique.

By far, my favorite piece of all is the copper wire wrapped necklace and earring set, Nefertitit's Kiss. This took me weeks to make, but it was worth it. It was a finalist in the 2012 Firemountain Gems And Beads Jewelry Making Competition and was featured on the poster for a local art fair last fall. I've also sold a few -- always a bonus!

Thank you for celebrating my 40th birthday with me! It's easy to feel younger when you have a passion -- and making jewelry is one of mine.

Photo Gallery: My Top 40 Wire Wrapped And Enamel Jewelry Pieces, Part III

This week, in honor of my 40th birthday, I'm posting my picks for my top 40 wire wrapped, enamel and anodized aluminum jewelry pieces. Below is my photo gallery for Part III. Be sure to check out Part I and Part II. Almost everything can be purchased at Naomi's Designs or MayaGirl Creations.

You probably recognize my rainbow "Happy Heart" earrings from the main photo on this blog. I love the bright, fun colors -- and apparently other people do, too, which is why these silver wire wrapped earrings remain one of my most popular items. I also like the purple chandelier heart earrings. I took my basic filigree design and expanded on it to come up with these funky statement earrings.

That spiral silver wire wrapped ring is a favorite of mine because it's so simple and elegant. Meanwhile, that copper ring with the Swarovski crystals is one where I was playing around with copper wire and came up with that design. What's interesting about it is that I only used one long piece of wire to make it; it continues to amaze me how a simple piece of wire can be turned into something intricate.

That enamel skull piece is something that I made for my dad -- and is the only thing that I've ever made for a male. I've had some men purchase my items, like the infinity rings, but I mainly market to women and girls. Perhaps I should make more skull items? It's different from my usual style.

That wire wrapped snowflake necklace is something that I put together during a long, dull craft fair. It was a terrible holiday fair where the CD broke and played "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" literally about 200 times. Meanwhile, the fair organizers basically took the vendors' money and ran, so there were almost no customers who came through. While sitting there waiting, I made this necklace ... so something good came from a bad day.

As for that mixed metal triangle necklace, that was a semi-finalist in the Fire Mountain Gems And Beads 2012 jewelry making competition. It didn't go as far as my "Nefertiti's Kiss" necklace, but I was proud of my work.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Photo Gallery: My Top 40 Wire Wrapped And Enamel Jewelry Pieces, Part II

In honor of my 40th birthday, which is tomorrow, I'm posting photos of my favorite 40 wire wrapped and enamel jewelry pieces. Yesterday, I posted Part I. Here is Part II. All can be found at Naomi's Designs or MayaGirl Creations.

This group is really colorful! That round enamel piece with the pastel colors -- the one that looks a bit like an Easter egg -- is important to me because it's the first piece that I made with cloisonne wire. I was so happy that I got the wire to stay put! Even better, my best friend purchased it from me at a charity event. I believe he gave it to his boss.

That rainbow-colored anodized aluminum bracelet took about a million years to make, but I love how bright and cheerful it is. Same goes for those multicolored anodized aluminum earrings.

That silver spiral wire wrapped necklace is one of the first items I made. I couldn't believe that I'd managed to make an entire necklace out of wire. The other silver wire wrapped necklace with the asymmetrical design is a personal favorite of mine. I love how weird and different it is ... though people don't seem to "get" my design. I've had a lot of questions about it. One woman almost broke it at a craft fair because she thought it was a headband. On the other hand, I've received many compliments for the simple teardrop necklace with the Swarovski crystals.

That blue enamel necklace is special to me because I made it for my mom. I made a similar one last year, but hers came out better, I think. And those wire wrapped bubble bracelets are fairly new items that I've created. They're not only fun to make, but I think they look really interesting!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Photo Gallery: My Top 40 Wire Wrapped And Enamel Jewelry Pieces, Part I

This Monday, February 3, is my birthday -- and I will be turning the Big 4-0. Yikes. Honestly, I'm not too upset with getting (a little ) older. I'm happy with where I am in my life and am planning to ring in this new age decade with friends and fun! One of the best things to happen to me throughout my 30s was discovering my love for jewelry making. So in honor of my 40th birthday, here is a photo gallery of my personal Top 40 handmade wire wrapped and enamel jewelry pieces! All are available at Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.

I'm posting these 10 at a time so it will be easier to scroll through the photos. Let me tell you, it was tough to choose only 40 pieces because I've made hundreds at this point -- and they all have value to me. But these stood out for a variety of reasons: The enamel square is one of my favorites because I love the simplicity of it and the bright colors. I was still fairly new to enamel making when I designed this and I was thrilled that I'd managed to get the cloisonne wire to stay put on the first try. The other enamel piece with the multicolored design was a happy accident; I was playing around with colors toward the end of a class and ended up making that funky pattern. Be sure to check out Part II!

The silver wire wrapped infinity birthstone rings are important to me for another reason; truthfully, I like 'em because they've made me money. The infinity rings remain my most popular item -- and I've received some nice notes from customers who've given them to loved ones as gifts.

The gold spiral necklace is cool because I love that particular shape. It looks very organic and natural; again, I like the simplicity. As for the gold earrings, I've worn them and have gotten compliments. The orange bracelet stands out to me because I love the colors. The orange reminds me of fall, my favorite season. It was hard to choose which lava stone necklaces to include, but these designs jumped out at me.

So here are the first 10 of my series. Enjoy -- and thank you for celebrating my birthday with me!