Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Silver wire wrapped fused dichroic glass bracelets

The Ridgewood Market Night Bazaar is this Saturday! I'm looking forward to this event, especially since my good friends Scott and Christopher will be there. They'll be representing the Lewis Oliver Farm Animal Sanctuary and will be selling food, paintings, books and other educational materials. They've been huge supporters of Naomi's Designs as my business has grown, so it'll be great having them there with me.

Of course, I also hope to sell many items. I've been working literally round the clock as I finish my final rounds of jewelry. I've made dozens of fused glass pendants, of all shapes and sizes. I also made this collection of dichroic link bracelets:

I'm particularly fond of the crystal Rainbow Swirl bracelets that match my Rainbow Swirl rings. I think the prism glass resembles moonstone, but my friend Diana says it looks more like opal. What do you think? Either way, I love the colors! I've managed to clock the exact firing time for these so they form perfect circles.

I also like the color block bracelet, which is simple, but so pretty. Honestly, I don't wear much of my own jewelry -- terrible for business, I know, I know -- but I actually plan to make one of these for myself.

Along with the bracelets and pendants, I also made enough rings to fill all 36 slots in my ring box:

When I sell rings on Etsy, they're usually made to order so I can size them correctly for the customer. In this case, I couldn't do that, so I made the rings in a variety of sizes. The ones toward the front are small, ranging from a 5-6.5 US. The largest ones are toward the back of the box, going up to about a 7.5-8 US. I figure that these rings will fit the fingers of MOST people -- and if they don't, that person can always order a custom piece from me.

Ridgewood Market advises their vendors to have an interesting table set-up, so I purchased a few new display items. I have that ring box, as well as black velvet leveled columns. My plan is to lay a few glass pendants on each column so they can be seen at a distance. I usually just spread everything out flat on the table, but I'm trying to spice up my booth. These tables are going to be 9-feet, which is much bigger than the spaces I've been given at other events. I've almost always had to leave items off the table for lack of room, but that won't be an issue here. In fact, I'm hoping I'll have enough inventory to fill the entire table.

The rest of this week will be spent getting ready for the fair. Here's hoping that all of my hard work is appreciated!

You can check out my jewelry at Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Silver wire wrapped spiral glass decal rings!

The Ridgewood Market is in less than two weeks and I've been working like crazy to make new pieces for the event. I'm particularly excited about my new line of fused dichroic glass decal rings:

I've made a couple of other glass rings, but they've been heavy and bulky, so I came up a design that's light and fun to wear. Basically, I took my decal pendants and condensed them into tiny ring-sized pieces. I then fired the smallest decals onto the glass. I recently purchased a sample set of dichroic solids, so I could use a variety of colors for background.

The other challenge was coming up with a ring that would work as a base. I adapted my spiral backing design into ring form; these rings are made of 18 gauge silver plated wire. I create the spiral, loop the band around a ring mandrel to size it and then kind of knot the band around the spiral to secure it in place. The flat spiral gives me a surface to glue when I attach the pieces together -- and voila! I have a ring.

You'll notice that I also have a few pearl-looking rings in the mix. I call those my Rainbow Swirl rings because they're made of clear prism glass. I got the rounded shape by fusing two squares at separate angles rather than placing them in the same direction. The bottom square was vertical and the top square was horizontal. When placed like that, the glass melts and fills out the space, and fuses into a round cabochon.

In the photos, that glass looks whitish, but you can see various colors when you hold it up to the light. Because it's transparent, the spiral backing shows right through and it looks like a swirl is running through the glass -- hence then name "Rainbow Swirl."

These aren't difficult to make, but are time consuming because I have to cut the glass and fire it, apply the decals and fire them, make the rings and then attach everything. The good news is that I can put several pieces into the kiln at once since they're so small. I really like these rings, though. I have a ring box that holds 36 pieces, so my goal is to fill it with rings of various sizes. I'm up to 24, so I'm getting there!

I never know what will sell at craft fairs. It's always a crap shoot. Still, I have a good feeling about these rings. They're so cute and colorful -- how could anyone resist? :-)

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

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Handmade jewelry art: Making art at Maple Grove Cemetery

Now that I've taught a few jewelry making classes at Maple Grove Cemetery, I decided to take one as a student. I love teaching, but wanted to see what it would be like to relax and be on the other side of the table, so to speak.

Yesterday, I joined my friend Helen's jewelry art class. Helen put together frames with velvet backgrounds; we then glued old pieces of jewelry into designs. Here is my masterpiece, which is supposed to be a vase filled with flowers. Not my finest work, but I had a good time making it!

I always enjoy exploring the administration building because it's filled with so many interesting old items and is like a museum. At this workshop, we got a chance to sift through the bags and bags -- and bags!!! -- of jewelry. It was overwhelming! There were cabochons of every size and color, pearls, beads, gold pieces, decorative hearts, filigree pendants... you name it, it was there.

A few of the other women had done this project before, so they had great ideas. One made a giant shamrock filled with green beads. Another made a sailboat out of shells. And one woman made a silver and turquoise Southwestern-style cross for her ill friend. She actually brought her own beads to the class; they were from a broken rosary. Her design was so clever and turned out beautifully.

It took a few hours to complete our pieces, but I really enjoyed the company. I chatted with the other ladies, but no one bothered me during the times when I needed to zone out and concentrate. One of my issues with the enameling class was that the conversations always turned to stressful topics. I like to use art as an escape and don't want to spend that particular time thinking about politics or personal problems. I certainly don't want to block out reality altogether, but I need my art to be a refuge. In the Maple Grove class, it was the escape I was looking for.

In the early afternoon, we broke for lunch, where we were served our delicious meal of polenta and rice on hundred-year-old plates. As we ate, we were told tales about the cemetery's residents by our other host and local historian, Carl. According to him, Maple Grove includes the grave of George W. Johnson, a famous African-American singer from the late 1800s, who was known for "The Laughing Song," as well as the tomb of Count Joannes -- an actor who was so brilliant that thieves attempted to steal his brain from his plot.

I was especially pleased to see a couple of my students at this class -- and a few of them were wearing the pendants they'd made in my workshop. They were eager for me to host another class, which was really nice. I plan to have them make earrings during the next session.

I'm so happy that I discovered Maple Grove last year. It's a wonderful place and an important part of my town's history. I'm also grateful to have made some new friends.

Check out my jewelry at Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Handmade wire wrapped jewelry: wire wrapped dichroic glass pendants with glass decals

It may only be February, but I'm already thinking ahead for Spring. Specifically, I'm planning for the two big markets I have coming up: the Ridgewood Night Bazaar on March 4 and the Readers Studio Tarot convention at the end of April.

Lately, I've been experimenting with more decals. I really like working with them because they're cute, but also target specific audiences. I'm hoping that an owl pendant will call to any bird lovers or that my fairy pieces will attract those who are interested in spiritual matters.

I've gone a little crazy in purchasing the decals because there are so many to choose from! Out of all, I think my favorite are the colorful butterflies. I first fired a red one onto a red pendant, but that didn't work so well because the reds were too similar. The butterfly kind of "sank" into the glass and you couldn't really see it.

Next, I tried firing them onto black pedants, thinking that the bright colors would pop against the dark background. They... didn't. You can see the butterflies, but they're dull. I added some other decals and crystals to brighten them, but they didn't turn out like I'd hoped.

I finally tried them against lighter backgrounds, gray and white. I LOVE them against the gray. That silvery color is one of my favorite dichros because it goes on so smoothly and looks good with every type of decal or crystal. It also works so well with the blue and orangey decals.

I like the white butterfly piece, but it was a bit plain, so I added that spiral on top.

The owl is interesting because it began as a pink-colored decal and fired white. I'd made that triple layer pendant without a decal in mind, but the green and black swirls reminded me of a forest. I thought the owl would fit right in and would look as if he were flying through the woods or maybe sitting on a branch.

What's great about these decals is you can mix and match sets to create new pieces. I love working with straight-up glass, but these add a fun and kitschy element to my work. We'll see if customers like them in a few weeks!

Check out my jewelry at Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Teaching handmade jewelry making: my fused glass heart class at the cemetery!

First, some good news! My work has been accepted at Ridgewood Market's Nighttime Bazaar. Ridgewood Market is a monthly indoor market in Queens, NY and I've been trying to get in for a while. It's juried and is supposed to be a great place to sell handmade crafts.

Then on Friday, my birthday, I heard back from a store that wants to carry my pieces! I haven't yet hammered out the details of the deal, so I don't want to name the place just yet. But it's a really cute shop in upstate NY. This was the best present I could've asked for.

Yesterday I taught another glass fusing class at Maple Grove Cemetery. Since Valentine's Day is right around the corner, I had my students make mosaic glass heart pendants. Joining the class was my oldest friend, Lani, whom I've known literally since I was a baby and is like a sister to me. Here she is, showing off her work:

Lani loves Victorian history and old cemeteries, so we took a walk around Maple Grove before the class. She was intrigued with the historic graves and noticed that many people died in 1909. We'll have to do some research and find out what was going on during that year. The Spanish Flu came later and it was before WWI.

I knew that Lani would enjoy touring the administration building so I made sure we had plenty of time to look around. She had a blast going through the costumes and jewelry, and even wants to return to play a character in the annual "Spirits Alive" event. She also got a kick out of meeting Sky, the cemetery's canine mascot.

Soon, my students arrived and we got started. This group was a bit livelier than the last and I wished I had three hands to keep up. Firing the hearts was a bit tricky because I needed to make sure that they didn't overfire and turn into shapeless blobs. Also, a few students ended up making two pieces. So the firing process took longer than last time. Happily, everyone finished at least one piece.

Well, except for Lani. I'd warned her beforehand that if I didn't get to her piece, I'd just finish it at home since she was staying over. Sure enough, this was the case. I put her heart in the smaller kiln with another woman's but ended up taking out Lani's because I didn't want the hearts to fuse together. Unfortunately, the pieces came unglued and I suggested she re-do them so she could fire it again later on.

Lani was NOT happy. She's sitting right here as I write this, so I can say this to her face as I type it in this blog: she was being a big, ol' pain in the ass. She kept on whining about her messed-up piece as I kept on apologizing, and I tried my best to stay professional. She then complained that she couldn't glue her pieces back on, so the ladies started loudly chanting, "Glue it! Glue it! Glue it!"

Lani later explained that she couldn't glue the pieces because the women were shaking the table. Instead, she took a break and had lunch... and that seemed to calm her down. Lani likes free food!

A couple of the other hearts didn't turn out perfectly. One woman's was a little overfused and needed to file the top of the heart to get a deeper V in the center. Another lady's was underfired and asked me to give it some more time in the kiln. However, the rest turned out well and everyone said they had a great time -- even Lani.

Right after the class, I had to rush home, grab my flute and then hurry back up the hill to do a performance at a nearby coffeehouse. I've played there a few times, but since this is my birthday weekend, I'd prepared a special program: I performed all '80s songs, including hits from Bon Jovi, Queen, Debbie Gibson, A-Ha and Tears For Fears, among others. I probably shouldn't have scheduled the gig so close to my class, but I wanted Lani to see me play. I got a nice surprise when some college friends showed up for the gig. They don't live nearby and had spent all day at a teachers' workshop -- and they still came out for me. It was very sweet. A few other friends came, too, including the rec director at one of the homes where I play and my music partner, Judith.

I had a great crowd, a great playlist and was all set to go... and my speakers wouldn't work. I tried playing with my laptop at regular volume, but couldn't hear the backing track and butchered my version of "Baker Street." It was humiliating and I apologized to my friends for the technical difficulties.

They were understanding and the manager had a speaker on hand. Hooray! I was able to successfully finish the show and even managed to hit the highest note -- a fourth octave E -- in Whitney Houston's "Saving All My Love For You." Whew! At least my friends hadn't come out for nothing.

It was a busy birthday weekend, but I had a great time. I got to do my favorite things and spend time with my favorite people. Oh, and Lani did finish her necklace after we came home from dinner. She even wore it out to lunch today.

For the record, Lani is a wonderful person and a great friend. There's a reason why we've stayed close for 43 years. She's a pain in my butt, but wouldn't be herself if she weren't. She's already planning to terrorize -- ahem, I mean "attend" -- my next class.

Check out the rest of my work at Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.