Friday, October 24, 2014

Tales From Enameling Class: More enameled Christmas ornaments -- and a Christmas cat tree!

Class was crazy this week! A couple of my classmates blamed the eclipse or the fact that Mercury is in retrograde. I don't know if I believe in that, but everyone was behaving strangely.

People kept losing things, from small pieces of wire to large projects. The handle on the kiln stuck. One student accidentally broke another's piece.

Meanwhile, the newcomers are learning how to navigate the crowded classroom. When shuffling back and forth to the kiln with your items, you have to do a bit of a "dance" in order to weave between the work tables and other students... but these women kept bumping into everyone. I'm trying to be patient because I was new not that long ago, and I know how difficult it can be to adjust. Look at me and soldering!!! Still, the class was chaotic.

The good news is, I finished four more enamel Christmas cat ornaments!

I made a black Santa cat, brown and orange cats in stockings, a ginger tabby angel cat and another gingerbread cat. What's funny is that after I sifted the brown powder onto the gingerbread cut-out, the glass left a brown cat-shaped outline behind. "It looks like a murder scene!" a classmate joked. The orange angel cat had black burn marks on the face. I'm not sure how they got there; perhaps the kiln was a bit too hot? But I covered them with the black tabby stripes.

I purchased a tiny tree for the ornaments and had a good time hanging them. I've never owned a Christmas tree, but think it looks very festive. Maya, our cat, likes it, too; when I was trying to work yesterday, she kept nuzzling the tree and pushing it over. Finally, Jon had to pull her away so I could finish my orders. I've heard stories of cats climbing into trees and got a little taste of that!

My craft fair is in two weeks and I'd like to have at least a dozen ornaments completed by then. My tree is still a little empty and I'd love to fill it up. Meantime, you can check out the rest of my handmade wire wrapped and enamel jewellery at Naomi's Designs or MayaGirl Creations.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Wire wrapped jewellery designs: silver wire wrapped filigree necklace with blue crystals

For the past few years, I've made most of my wire wrapped pendants from only one piece of wire. Lately, I've been experimenting with more complex designs. I love filigree -- the swirling, spiraling patterns -- and wanted to make a filigree pendant.

I've never made a filigree piece using solder, but from what I understand, you don't don't solder each piece individually. You arrange the design and apply heat to the entire thing, and the pieces fuse into place. Since I didn't use solder for this necklace, I had to get creative and attached each section of wire by wrapping it. I tried to work the wraps into the pattern to create this teadrop focal:

I'm pleased with how this turned out for my first try, though I do need some more practice. The most difficult part was keeping the wire from getting tangled; I also didn't want to crush the frame when I tightened the ends of the wraps. I like the blue, but I also think a similar piece would look nice in red or even with clear crystals. I love the teardrop shape, but think an abstract form could be interesting.

I'm still not so great at metalsmithing, but would like to take a traditional filigree class. It's such a beautiful art form and I think it would be worth the time and effort to learn how to do it.

Check out the rest of my handmade wire wrapped and enamel jewelry at Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.

Copper wire wrapped "Pumpkin Spice" bangle bracelet with orange crystals

After making those orange and purple football bracelets for the Clemson fans, I have an entire bag of leftover beads. I don't use orange beads that often in my pieces, but wanted to play around with them.

I ended up making these copper wire wrapped bracelets. I really like the way the orange and copper go together and they're the perfect colors for fall. The leaves are finally beginning to change up here in NY and these bangle bracelets make me think of a crisp October afternoon:

I'm calling these my "Pumpkin Spice" bracelets because the round, orange beads look like little pumpkins! I'm also seeing ads for pumpkin spice products EVERYWHERE, so the term is stuck in my head, LOL. I'm not a huge fan of the flavor, but I guess subliminal advertising does work in some way!

Whenever fall hits, I dig out my yellow, gold, red, orange and brown clothing -- and these bracelets fit right in with my wardrobe. But even if you live in a warmer area, they'll look good paired with jeans or a neutral-colored outfit.

I'm thinking of other ways in which I can use these beads; perhaps some orange and light blue bracelets, or orange and red? After making these pieces, I'm gaining a new respect for this color!

Check out the rest of my handmade wire wrapped and enamel jewellery at Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Tales From Enameling Class: Handmade Enamel Christmas Ornaments!

For the past few weeks, I've been logging extra hours at the Y so I can use the kiln and finish my handmade enamel Christmas ornaments. So far, they're coming along nicely! At this point, I've officially finished and listed three -- and am almost done with five others.

When I posted the items on Etsy, I wanted to create a holiday feel, so I photographed the ornaments on top of a green cloth and then took some pictures of them hanging from an ivy bush:

At first, my classmates chuckled at me making cat-shaped Christmas ornaments, but after seeing all eight lined up, they were pretty impressed! They then came up with ideas for displaying them. One suggested I make an enamel tree. Another suggested I make an avant garde copper tree. Honestly, both ideas would require a lot of work -- and I wouldn't really be able to sell the trees -- so I'm just going with a store-bought mini tree. But I like that my classmates were getting so into my project and were being so supportive.

As of now, I have a craft fair scheduled for November 7. I'd love to have all 20 ornaments completed by then, but I realize it's a tall order, especially since they're taking longer to make than I'd thought. I want them to look good and don't want to rush the process. I'll be happy if I can have a dozen done, though, and I think that should be doable. A dozen will still look nice on my little tree.

I'm off to saw out some more copper ornament bases so I can continue with my project. Right now, you can purchase my angel cat, Santa cat and gingerbread cat -- all limited edition Christmas decorations. You can also see the rest of my handmade wire wrapped and enamel jewellery at Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Making Jewelry: Felting and other crafting projects

Today is our niece's 7th birthday! This past weekend, my husband and I visited our in-laws in Maine so we could celebrate. Our niece loves painting, drawing, playing with clay, so we always have a great time making things together. During our four-day vacation, I didn't make any real jewelry (I'll explain in a moment), but I did get to try some new crafts.

For the past few years, my niece has had her birthday party in a local art studio that caters to kids. The party guests get to complete several different projects throughout the afternoon and always have a lot of fun. My niece is an avid reader and is currently very interested in Botswana, so her party theme honored the country. The kids got to paint African masks and color cut-outs of animals and Botswana's flag.

All of the other adults sat around and took photos of the kids -- but I jumped right in and joined them, making a mask of my own! The chairs are designed for children so I was practically sitting on the floor, but I squeezed into one and had a blast painting.

Later, the kids enjoyed cupcakes as my niece opened her gifts. She received many artistic presents, including a sketch pad, pottery-making set, bracelet-making kit and a particularly interesting-looking kit called "Felted Friends."

Back home, she immediately checked out all of her presents. The bracelet kit came with four colorful wrist bands on which you place stickers, so she and I each designed two. I wore my "jewelry" to enameling class yesterday and everyone loved it!

However, making the "Felted Friends" turned out to be a much more complicated endeavor. I'd never done any felting; in fact, I didn't even know that felting is a thing, but apparently making items from felt is a very popular craft. Basically, you take a long felting needle and poke and mold the felt into shapes; if you want to add a section -- say, a leg to a felt doll -- you poke at the seam until the sections attach. When you poke at the felt, the fibers tangle, which allows the sections to connect and maintain their shapes.

Anyway, this gift is actually for ages 10 and up and there was no way I was going to let my niece use a sharp needle. Therefore, it was up to me to make a felt cat. My husband tried, but got bored after only a few minutes of felt poking. I was more patient and spent over an hour making this thing. I twice poked myself in the finger and my cat -- which I named "Lopsided" -- looks like a demented blob, but here it is:

No, it's not my finest work, but you know what? Felting is fun. I liked it more than I thought I would and am considering getting myself a grown-up felting kit. I think with some practice I can make something that doesn't look like a rag with ears.

By the way, the real cat in the photo is our kitty, Maya. My niece "gave" me the felt cat (apparently I have to work for my gifts) and wanted me to show it to Maya. I promised my niece I'd take a picture of the cats together. As you can see, Maya was very curious about her new felt friend...

Our vacation is over, though, so it's back to my jewelry! Please check out my handmade wire wrapped and enamel jewellery at Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Tales From Enameling Class: Another One Bites The Dust!

Well, first the bad news: I'm having the worst luck with craft fairs this years! Yesterday, I brought in my application for the holiday fair at the Y... and learned that it's already been sold out. Bummer! Apparently, it sold out on the very first day. Many of the jewelry teachers and students grabbed several tables at once so they could guarantee that their students/classmates would have a slot.

I'm not too upset by this. Live and learn, I guess, and I now know to sign up IMMEDIATELY the next time. But my teacher is furious. She made a list of all of her students who want to be in the fair and promised to speak with the director about getting us a table. She also apologized for not getting us a table herself. I'm not sure they'll have the space to put an extra table, but I really appreciate her going to bat for us. I suggested that since the fair is a three-day event, they simply have different people sell on each day; then they can have way more participants. If that many people are interested, they either need to find a larger space for the event or have it juried. If I were rejected from this fair in a jury situation, I wouldn't object. I'm constantly impressed and humbled by the work of the other Y students.

But now some better news: I'm really making progress on my enamel Christmas ornaments:

I stayed for two hours of studio time last evening so I got a lot done -- and I'm still not completely finished with these four pieces. I have to add a layer of counter (the enamel put on the opposite side) and clean each piece. They're turning out to be a really time-consuming project, much more so than I anticipated. But I'm pleased with how they look. I think they're bright, colorful and fun -- perfect for Christmas! One of my friends said they remind him of Christmas cookies, which is exactly what I'm going for. It does feel a bit like I'm "frosting" the pieces when I add on the designs.

One of my classmates was amused at the idea of, as she put it, "A nice Jewish girl making Christmas ornaments," but I do enjoy the holiday season. I help decorate our friends' tree each year, so I'm having a great time making my own line of ornaments.

I'll continue to share photos as I make more of these guys. Meantime, you can purchase the rest of my handmade enamel and wire wrapped jewelry at Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Large silver wire wrapped lapis lazuli pendant with spirals and blue square AB crystals

I've been having the hardest time finding lapis lazuli stones in the size I want! First, I bought two sets of too-small stones... and in my latest purchase, the stones were a bit larger than what I like. I guess Firemountain Gems just doesn't sell them in that old size? Oh well, the large stones are at least big enough to use for pendants and I've been having a good time playing around with them.

This weekend I made a new silver wire wrapped pendant using one of these big stones, which are about 40 mm. Because there was so much room on the stone's "canvas," I was able to include three medium-sized blue square AB crystals:

When it comes to wire wrapping stones, I almost always incorporate some sort of spiral design, but I swear, it's different every time! It's just that to me, the swirling design looks the best when working with a round base. I've tried making pendants with other shapes and straighter lines, but they just aren't as attractive, in my opinion. I find that following the shape of the stone usually works best.

I'm thinking of making another lapis lazuli necklace using one of these huge stones as a focal and then flanking it with two smaller stones, and then two more of the tiniest. I can already see the piece in my head and am liking the idea! But I'm done ordering lapis for now. I have more than enough, thanks to my shopping "mistakes."

Check out the rest of my wire wrapped and enamel jewellery at Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Silver wire wrapped statement bubble necklace with lapis lazuli stones, spirals and Swarovski crystals

When it comes to making jewelry, I try to make mistakes work for me whenever I can. Take these lapis lazuli stones that I'd ordered for a customer. TWICE I purchased the wrong sized stones, with the lapis rounds being too small. But rather than get annoyed, I decided to use the second set of stones for a silver wire wrapped statement necklace:

I haven't made such a complex piece of jewelry in a while. Oh, sure, I've made plenty of necklaces, but most are pendants on a chain or black silk cord. I have a couple of craft fairs coming up, though, and want to have some higher-end pieces -- especially for the event that's being held at the 92nd Street Y. If I'm going to be selling my jewelry at this fair, I'm going to be surrounded by very talented artists. I seriously need to step things up and showcase my best work.

The double-tiered wire wrapped spiral pendant was originally going to be one half of a pair of earrings... but when I tried it on, it was much too heavy on my lobe. That's when I turned it into a necklace. Bubble statement necklaces are trendy so I added a few more of the round lapis stones and did a variation on the spiral and Swarovski crystal pattern. I also have tiny lapis stones so I'll see how those work for a matching wire wrapped earring set.

Meanwhile, the correct sized stones have arrived! I can finally finish my order and ship it out... but I'm glad I "accidentally" purchased the wrong materials. I think it worked out for the best!

Check out the rest of my handmade wire wrapped and enamel jewellery at Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Wire wrapped jewellery designs: silver wire wrapped football bracelets!

A few weeks ago, I received a custom order from a woman who asked me to make a wire wrapped bracelet featuring garnet red and black beads, the colors of the University Of South Carolina's football team, the Gamecocks. I used bronze wire for the bangle and really liked how the gold color worked against the red and black crystals.

Well, the same customer has now asked me to design a similar bracelet using silver wire -- and has also asked me to make a bangle with purple and orange beads, the colors for Clemson University's football team, the Clemson Tigers.

Honestly, I don't watch or like American football. In fact, I barely watch sports at all. If I do, it's usually ice skating or gymnastics, and occasionally swimming or track and field if the Olympics are on.

That said, the idea of making sports bracelets never occurred to me. According to my football-loving friends, though, team-themed jewelry is popular and is apparently a big market I've been missing. Now that I think about it, it makes sense; I mean, I've seen people paint their faces with their team's colors, so why not wear a bracelet with the appropriate hues?

I'll have to see how these sell, but I'm wondering if I should try my hand at making other wire wrapped sports bracelets. I suppose I could design them in honor of basketball teams, hockey, baseball, maybe even soccer (which seems to be getting more popular in the USA). Many teams color combinations are pretty interesting, such as Clemson's purple and orange, so it could be fun to play around with different crystals and beads.

Though I'm not a sports fan, I do respect anyone who has a great passion -- and if it's for a particular team, why not show your love? I hope this customer's friends enjoy their bracelets and that their teams do well this season!

Check out the rest of my handmade wire wrapped and enamel jewelry at Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.