Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Silver wire wrapped bracelet with Murano inspired fused dichroic glass beads

Now that I'm getting the hang of working with fused glass, I've been trying to make some different types of jewelry in addition to the pendants and pins. My latest project: this multicolored dichroic bracelet:

My inspiration for this bracelet were Murano beads, which are intricate and colorful. I really like Murano bracelets, which usually consist of several glass beads, each with a different design and color. They're absolutely beautiful and there are so many variations.

I don't know how to make blown glass or lampworked glass, so I stuck with dichroic. I cut several small, uniform pieces of clear glass base and then fused each with a unique dichroic pattern. I made a point to include several solid colors and several patterned samples.

Once I fired the beads and they were fully fused, I had to figure out a way to connect them. Basically, I constructed one of my wire wrapped spiral bracelets... only I glued the beads onto the centers of the spiral. This way, the bracelet is structurally sound, but is also flexible enough to bend around a wrist.

Now that I've made this design, I'd like to create some other bracelets; for instance, I can do one made up of all blue glass or pinks and yellows. Sometimes I'm still surprised to see what color the glass ends up being when it cools, but it's all beautiful!

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

Monday, June 27, 2016

Blue and turquoise enamel earrings with fine silver cloisonne and crystals

I haven't done a post on an enameling project in a while, so enamel-lovers, this one is for you! Tomorrow is our final enameling session for the summer and truthfully, I'm a bit relieved to be taking a break. The dichroic glass has kept me busy, plus I'm in the middle of working on a big project for a customer. And then I'll start my wire wrapping class in a few weeks. So I'm glad to have some time off from enameling, much as I love it.

Still, with only a few classes left this semester, I've been trying to finish some half-done pieces. I recently completed this pair of dangle earrings:

I originally planned to make three of these diamond-shaped links and then turn them into a bracelet, with the enameled pieces alternating with crystals. However, one diamond didn't turn out well, so I repurposed my design and went for earrings instead. Because holes were drilled in the tops and bottoms, I hung crystals from both ends.

The abstract design is made from fine silver cloisonne wire. Actually, it's bezel wire, which is much thicker than cloisonne. I cut it through the center to thin it out somewhat and decided to use it, anyway. I like the thick design! It gives the earrings a three-dimensional look.

Right now, I'm on the fence about signing up for enameling again this fall. I really enjoy the class and have made some great friends, but I haven't made as much money from the enameled pieces as I have from the dichroic glass and wire wrapped. Should I take the class primarily for business reasons or should I take it simply because it's fun? I guess I'll have to see how much I miss it this summer. If I find myself craving an enameling session, I'll sign up. I'm glad to have some time to think about it, though.

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

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Adventures in making fused glass jewelry: silver wire wrapped double dichroic necklace

I've gotten a lot of interesting requests for custom orders, but a friend recently asked me to make her a very special fused glass necklace: she wanted me to design a double pendant with each part representing one of her twin girls.

The babies will be celebrating their first birthday this summer and already have strong personalities. But it's not pink for these girls -- it's purple and yellow. Mom associates these colors with her daughter, one who she says is "fiery" and the other, mellow. That said, she asked me to make her a purple and yellow piece:

I had a few challenges when it came to making this necklace: First up is my friend's allergies to various metals. I usually use silver plated wire because it's sturdy, inexpensive and malleable, making it perfect for wire wrap creations. However, my friend requested sterling silver, which is a bit more delicate and not as easy to shape.

I also had some issues when it came to finding the "perfect" yellow and purple. As I've said before, dichroic glass is made of many colors and those hues often appear after a firing... so glass that I thought would be yellow would look more green, while purple glass would turn out to be blue. I made a few trial pieces, though, and finally came up with two that were just right.

,p> My friend also asked me to make a ring featuring a purple and yellow "wave," where it looks like the two sides are embraced in a hug. Again, it took me several tries to find the right colors. Unfortunately, I could not get this particular batch of sterling silver wire to properly shape into a ring. I ended up going through an entire roll before calling off the project. The last thing I want to do is present an inferior product. This is something I can work on in the future. Sometimes I need to step away from a project and then return to it with a fresh outlook.

Still, my friend is happy with the double pendant, which I connected with a purple crystal. It's simple, but such a cute idea -- and perfect for a new mom of two! This was a tough necklace to make, but seeing my friend actually wear it made the work worth it.

Check out more of my jewelry creations and Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.

Adventures in making fused glass jewelry: fused glass pins and brooches

Well, it looks like my wire wrapping class is set to begin on July 12. I'm so looking forward to this. I just hope that people actually show up for it. If all goes well, I'd like to teach classes at the other homes where I perform. I'd also love to teach a more "mainstream" class at a local Y or art store. I'm not qualified to teach at the 92nd Street Y, where I do my enameling -- the instructors there have Master's degrees in art -- but I'd still like to share my jewelry-making know-how on a smaller scale.

I'm still working on my own projects, too... including these fused glass dichroic pins:

As you know, I took a glass-making class at the start of this year. I enjoyed the class, but came away with a bunch of disappointing "pendants." To me, they were too big and too bulky to be worn around the neck. I also thought they were kind of odd looking. However, when I showed them to a few friends, they were like, "Oh, those are so cool!" They actually liked the strange texture and shape of these pieces. My friend Judy especially likes the orange, yellow and brown one, which she's named "Fancy Candy Corn." Heh.

I still didn't want to turn them into pendants and instead attached pin backings to the pieces... and voila! I now had a set of pins. Or brooches. Is there a difference -- and if so, what is it? I guess "brooch" brings to mind the fancy cameos that my grandmother would wear, while "pin" makes me think of something more simple. Perhaps these are in-between.

I don't wear many pins, but I put one on for the Broadway songs performance I did a few weeks ago. I paired a blue and white pin with my blue and white outfit and the piece received some compliments from the seniors. I then set about designing some true brooches, made from dichroic glass. My kiln is tiny so these pieces juuuusssst fit in there. They also need a bit more time to fuse since they are larger. I've been firing them for my standard three minutes and then adding on more time in 15 second intervals. This way, I can allow them to fuse properly without burning.

I think my favorite pin, so far, is the small black one with that "fire" pattern on it. I was trying to make a mosaic tulip, but it came out looking more like a rainbow-colored flame. Though Judy says it looks more like a paw to her. What do you think?

Check out more of my handmade wire wrapped and glass jewelry at Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

A Tale Of Two Pendants: Wire wrapped fused glass pendants with crystals

Before I get into the story of these pendants, I first have some great news to share! I'm officially signed on to teach a jewelry-making class!

I'm going to be teaching wire wrapping to the seniors at The Homestead, which is one of the homes where I play. I've never taught adults before -- only kids -- but I'm really excited. I've been wanting to teach a class for a while and am glad I'm being given the chance. Hopefully, I'll be able to teach at a couple of the other homes where I play, as well. I love performing for the seniors, but making jewelry is a much more hands-on experience for them.

I, of course, had to celebrate by making some new jewelry. I had this beautiful pink-tinted clear glass, so I decided to see how it would look against a clear base and a black base. Here is the result:

The green is the one made with the black base and the yellow is the one on the clear. It's amazing how one piece of glass can turn such different colors. Once the pieces fused, I wire wrapped them and added a couple of crystals.

"Golden Girl" seemed like the obvious name for the yellow pendant, but I was stuck on naming the green piece. I polled my Facebook friends and Instagram followers and got some great ideas. One person came up with "Green Goddess," while another suggested "Mermaid" and a third liked "Water Serenade." An Instagram follower then suggested "Emerald Empress." My friend Alexander said I should call it "Envious Girl" because it's green with envy from being photographed next to Golden Girl. Ha ha, funny, Alexander. I'm leaning toward Green Goddess as the winner.

I have to credit my friend Judy for coming up with the name idea. A while back, she told me about her other jewelry-making friend who got a lot of attention by asking her FB friends to help her name her pieces. I decided to try this tactic and it's working! For some reason, people are really getting into the idea of coming up with appropriate names for my fused glass. It's been a lot of fun. I think people mainly like seeing some lighthearted posts online.

I have plenty of dichroic glass to go through, so stay tuned for more pieces -- and more names! Check out the rest of my jewellery at Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Photo Gallery: Handmade fused dichroic glass and wire wrapped jewelry designs

I haven't posted a photo gallery of my work in a long time, so here are some pictures of my favorite fused dichroic glass and glass/wire wrapped jewelry designs! Enjoy!

In other news, I'm speaking with a couple of the senior home recreation directors about me possibly teaching jewelry classes. Not sure it'll work out, but I'm hoping. Fingers crossed!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Weird tales from the craft fair: selling my handmade fused glass jewelry

Yesterday was my vendor sale at at Atria. It was also my first time selling my fused dichroic glass pieces in person. Happily, the day went well.

The fun actually began last weekend when I performed a Memorial Day concert at the Atria. I was joined by my friend and Atria staffer, Judith, who sings and plays guitar. We put on a Broadway program for the residents. Judy and I both wore necklace I'd designed, and I brought in a few other pins and pendants to display.

They loved it! There was singing and dancing, and a lot of laughter. What was also nice was the my husband, Jon, was able to join us. He's usually working when I do these gigs, but this one was on a Sunday.

I need to backtrack for a moment and explain how I got into playing music at senior homes. I've been playing flute since I was 9 -- and piano since I was 3, though flute is my main instrument. Music has always been a huge part of my life, but was put on the backburner as I tried to build up my jewelry business and writing career. Plus, the leader of the band I played with moved to another state. So for most of 2014, I didn't touch my flute, which was a shame. I missed it.

That December, my friend Amy asked me to play holiday songs at a party she was hosting. She lives in a building complex called Southbridge that has a senior program and decided to hold a "Senior/Toddler Mixer." To be honest, the kids and seniors didn't really mix; the kids ran around while the seniors sat listening to me play. But I was surprised by how much they enjoyed my music. I'd warned Amy that I was rusty -- and I really was -- but they didn't care. They were all singing along and told me afterward that they'd had a great time.

I had a chat with the program's director and asked if she'd like me to come in again for a Valentine's Day performance. This time, I played classic love songs and we printed out lyrics so the seniors could sing all of the words. Again, the program was a success.

I realized how healing music can be, both for myself and the seniors. I'd been disappointed and disillusioned with my writing career, but music helped me deal with the loss. I love making jewelry, but needed a different kind of creative outlet. Music was it.

I then called several other senior homes in the area and asked if they would be interested in having me play for the residents. Most said yes! The Atria happens to be right around the corner from us. I'd passed it a million times and would always say to Jon, "I should give them a call and see if they want me to perform." I finally got up the nerve and am so glad I did.

These days, I perform in five different places, but most of my work is with the Atria. I've made some good friends, but have also made some jewelry sales through these connections. Judy, my musical co-conspirator, purchased two glass pieces from me and is constantly advertising my work. It's through her help that I got this sale set up.

Onto the sale itself! When I arrived at the home in the morning, it was chaotic. They were moving furniture and the lobby was filled with various pieces, crates and boxes. They weren't sure where they were going to put me, but finally set me up in the parlor. About an hour later, they moved me back into the main lobby.

A few seniors recognized me from my flute performances and got a kick out of seeing my "other personality." "You're confusing me," one lady said with a laugh. "I confuse myself," I told her.

People were intrigued with the glass, though many didn't understand what it is. A few called the pendants "stones" and thought they were ready-made. I had to explain how I cut sheets of glass and fuse them together, and then shape them.

I didn't make that many sales, though I did sell a few of my glass pieces, as well as some bracelets. I also have a couple of requests in for custom orders. However, I did get to spend time with the residents, which isn't something I normally do. Yes, I am there often, but I'm playing music. Then when my gig is over, it's time for whatever their next program is, so I leave. I do chat with them before and after my shows, but I only have a few minutes.

I ended up talking with one resident for over an hour. We first spoke about our mutual love for cats, but she then asked if I'd ever be interested in teaching a class. I told her I would! She explained that she's on the home's council and has a background working in Wall Street. She then came up with an idea for me to bring ready-made wire and glass pieces to the class so the seniors can simply put together a necklace or bracelet. She asked if I could bring in my little kiln, but I explained how I've had some minor accidents and wouldn't want to put anyone in danger. She noted that I could simply fire their pieces at home and then return them a few days later since I live so close. I love it! This woman is a true problem solver and very creative. I don't know if this class will actually happen, but I've made a new friend.

There were a few funny things that happened throughout the day. One lady came by and asked if I sell pants. I guess they've had some all-purpose vendors who sell jewelry and clothing items, but the question took me by surprise. I was also taken aback when I heard a loud meow in the lobby. To my delight, there was a cat! One of the residents has a kitty named Schmedrick, who was big, gray and oh-so-handsome. I, of course, had to say hello. I love his name, too. It's fun to say.

I didn't make a lot of money at this sale, but I'm happy with how the day turned out. I love how my music and jewelry are combining, and leading to some interesting opportunities! Here are a couple of photos of my table:

Check out more of my handmade jewellery at Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.