Friday, October 25, 2013

Sunny Yellow Enamel Bangle and Matching Pendant

Following up on my first batch of enameled bangles, I spent some time yesterday wrapping more steel bangles for enameling. After all the wrapping, I only had time to enamel one; it takes me about 45 minutes in the torch to get all the layers applied and fused!

I did wrap a few smaller circles, and had enameled them the same day I did the first set of bangles - here is the matching yellow one:

I know it's hard to tell from the pic - it looks the same as the bangle! But it is much smaller; try this:

Can't you just see this, tied to some leather, or some sari ribbon, with a simple lark's head knot? Or something more complicated - a beadwoven rope, a beaded necklace - ooh! A multistrand necklace, with this as a connector on one side, bringing all the strands together!

I made 4 of these, in different colors, and slightly different sizes. They are all available in my Etsy Supply Shop.

And the bangles are over in my Zibbet shop!

More sizes and colors of bangles to come!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Enameled Bangles - I love these!

I was playing around with steel wire, and decided to see if I could make some enameled bangles, and by golly, I did! And I love them!

Enameled bangles, available (separately) on Etsy

I started out with a trial run of four - I didn't want to invest too much time, wire, and enamel in this venture if it wasn't going to work!

They don't photograph as well as I'd like - they are very shiny! Bits of the steel wire show through, which gives a wonderful rustic look.

These are all medium bangles - their inner diameter is 2.75 inches, and their inner circumference is 8.25 inches. Since a bangle has to fit over your hand, it is the size of your HAND, not the size of your wrist, which determines your bangle size.

To more accurately determine your bangle size, you can measure your hand: put your thumb and 5th finger together. Wrap a soft tape measure around the widest part of your hand, and record the measurement. This will give you the inner circumference measurement for your bangle.

I've been walking around wearing them stacked - probably not the greatest idea, since they are GLASS, after all, but they are holding up fine. And they make a lovely clanking sound! But I don't really recommend stacking them, or banging them around on hard surfaces. They have been properly annealed, but they ARE glass.

They are all available in my Etsy shop.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Holiday Chainmaille Kits - these Christmas Trees are fast and fun gifts!

I have listed some chainmaille kits in my supply shop. Each kit can be assembled into 1 Christmas Tree pendant, with either multicolored "ornaments" or red ones:

An example of one of the multicolored kits is on the left, and the assembled pendant on the right. These pendants are almost 2 inches tall (1-7/8").

In addition to the enameled copper jumprings (which I cut and polished), each kit contains pictorial instructions for assembly - anyone familiar with Japanese maille will have no problem creating this pendant. (The instructions aren't intended to teach chainmaille techniques - just the pattern for this particular J-maille tree).

These can be assembled quickly, and make terrific teacher gifts, hostess gifts; just hang them from some ribbon, chain, leather - whatever! Anyone who appreciates festive holiday jewelry will love these!

The kits are available here.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

New Picasso Glass Items Listed

I've been busily listing items over in my Etsy Supply Shop, including these pieces of Picasso-style dichroic glass:

I used a cabochon from this same glass slab to create this copper bracelet:

and this pendant:

This one has a very generous bail attached, so it's ready to hang from ribbon, leather, chain, etc. - these pieces are so vibrant and colorful that they easily stand alone!

I'll be posting more glass cabs and pendants soon; in the meantime, anyone have any tips on how to take better pics of dichroic glass? It's so pretty, but hard to photograph because the colors shift as the light changes and moves - I can never capture its true beauty! Open to suggestions, here - thanks in advance!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

New Enamel Components

Yesterday I finished a set of 10 matching pink and purple square enamel components, with copper embellishments:

These components/connectors are 3/4 inch square, with holes in each corner. They have been fired multiple times, and for the last firing, I embedded little scraps of copper wire from my workbench in the last layer of enamel. Since these are all handmade, my embellishing and color patterns differ a little from piece to piece, but they all look like a set, right? They remind me of confetti and party favors!

even the backs are pretty!

A few years ago, I made a set of these in blue and green, and then assembled them into a bracelet (and matching earrings:

These purple and pink connectors/components are available individually on Etsy!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

I'm having a sad day

After the big storm last night, I was worried about my emerging butterflies.

I rushed out this morning to check on them, still in my pajamas.

This one was the closest to the back door; he's the one that was not quite as far along in the emergence:

He looks a little damp and weather-beaten, but intact.

Unfortunately, the other one didn't fare as well:

His attachment to the siding was all that remained intact - so I started to hunt for the rest of his chrysalis.

I found this after a little searching, a few feet away from the attachment.

Then I found a piece of wing and some more chrysalis

A few more feet away, I found the rest of the butterfly.

I flipped it over to take another photo.

So, I'm already sad, but then I arrive at the bead shop, and as I'm taking Bailey for his first walk of the day, I find this, a few doors down from my shop:

Someone stepped on my grasshopper nymph.

Now I'm going to be sad all day.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Shop updates

I'm still busy, stocking my Etsy supply shop with handmade supplies. It takes a long time from start to finish, including the photography and listing process!

Right now, my supply shop has 65 listings, which represent well over 200 items, now that the "listings variations" option allows us to create one listing with multiple variations (such as size, quantity, color, # of holes, etc.)

Here's an example of one of my listings for enameled beads:

These are some antiqued hammered copper washers:

And here are some etched sand dollars:

I also got all my enamels out, got my enameling station set up to go on Saturday - did everything except actually fire up the torch. That will happen tomorrow! So look for more enameled beads, headpins, and other components in my shop in the days and weeks to come.

I hope if you're looking for handmade components for your designs, you'll take a look at my supply shop!

And as far as my jewelry shops go, I haven't had much time for jewelry design, what with trying to get supplies made, and teaching classes at the shop, but, after a blog post by (and subsequent private convo with) my friend Christine, I decided to revisit the issue of "pendant vs. necklace". I enjoy making pendants, and figured that designers would want to buy them "as is," so that they would have all their creative options wide open when working with the pendant. In the bead shop, my pendants sell well, but on Etsy, not so much. I have heard this discussion so many times before - pendants don't sell well, you need to turn them into necklaces, folks don't know what to do with them, yada yada yada. But I held firm, and left them as pendants.

On Saturday, I decided to take 3 of them, and turn them into necklaces, list them, and just see what happens.

Here are my finished necklaces:

So that's the status of my online shops.

Looking forward to some torch work tomorrow; I also have a full run ready for the kiln as soon as I walk in the door, so that's my first order of business, then the torch. I'm a little nervous about the torch; it's been about a year since I did any torch work, and I dread starting the learning curve over again! I just want to get in there and be perfect! No Mistakes! Is that asking too much???

Back to Nature

It's been a couple of weeks since I wrote about the butterfly chrysalises that are covering the back of my house.

At the time, I speculated about how long the chrysalis stage lasts; I could have looked it up, but I didn't.

A trip out on the deck this weekend proved my speculation wrong. Seems like after several weeks in the chrysalis, the butterfly starts to slowly emerge:

Emerging Gulf Fritillary butterfly, October 3, 2013

I discovered this one on October 2 in the evening; I rushed home from work with the camera on October 3, figuring it would be long gone, but it essentially looked the same. Every so often, it wiggled its antennae at me. 

Here's the same chrysalis from another angle:
Emerging Gulf Fritillary butterfly, October 3, 2013

At first, I thought this emergence must happen fairly quickly, because the butterfly seems so vulnerable like this, and must be hungry, right? So I'd race out to check it in the morning, then race home to check in the evening. But the process must take way longer than I thought, because here is the same chrysalis this morning:

Emerging Gulf Fritillary butterfly, October 7, 2013

Here is another emerging butterfly:
Emerging Gulf Fritillary butterfly, October 7, 2013

This one isn't quite as far along; it's antennae aren't out yet, and only a small amount of wing is visible.

Here is an empty chrysalis, showing the split down the middle where the butterfly emerged:
Empty Gulf Frittilary Chrysalis

Here is a chrysalis that hasn't started to open yet:
 Chrysalis ready for emergence

And here are some caterpillars that I think died sometime during pupation; I can see where the chrysalis just started to form, but then the process stopped, and now, several weeks later, the caterpillars are just hanging there, dessicating:

And this is a mystery visitor that surprised me when I opened the back door this morning:

This is about 6 inches above my head, right as I open my back door - that's the outside on the left of the door frame, and the kitchen on the right.

This big black and white butterfly really startled me; he was slowly flapping his wings, and just hanging onto that chrysalis. At first, my brain processed it as a freshly emerged butterfly; his wings were even wet! But then I realized that a) he's not orange. Not a gulf fritillary at all. And b) the chrysalis he's hanging onto is still maturing, and not ready to open yet.

This pretty visitor ignored me and Bailey as we went in and out, opening and closing the door, and flew away after about an hour.

This is a weed that randomly decided to grow in a pot of ivy on my deck:
 Pretty deck weed

It has 2 different colors of flowers - pink and purple, and they remind me of Gloxinia, although that is certainly not what this is:

Purple deck weed flower

Pink deck weed flower

more purple deck weed flowers

And here is a visitor outside the bead shop last week:

All 3 pics are the same guy - he's at least 3 inches long, and a beautiful grass green (as in the first photo), and some sort of grasshopper. My best guess is that he's actually a grasshopper nymph, the immature form that develops from the egg, before multiple molts occur, resulting in the mature adult grasshopper. But I'm just guessing, based on the smoothness of the body and the lack of features I normally associate with adult forms.

He hung around for a couple of days. During the first day, I actually caught him and carried him down to the hedges, away from all the stores and people, because I know how some folks like to squash bugs. But he was back the next day, so I decided to leave him alone.

It's still in the upper 80s here, but the weathermen (at least on our local ABC station) are calling the forecast for tomorrow "Cold", as it will only be in the 60's. Yay! Can't wait. Tired of the hot and muggies! I know you guys north of here are really feeling us, with our "cold snap" heading in tomorrow. The weather dude even suggested we take a jacket with us tomorrow. Yeah, that'll happen. Thanks, weather dude!

edited 8:40 PM, 10/7/13
The cold front is moving through, and it is absolutely pouring buckets and buckets of rain. So hard. With loud booming thunder, which is freaking Bailey out. I am worried that all this hard rain, sluicing down the aides of the house, will damage all my butterfly chrysalises! Though I imagine eons of evolution has made them able to withstand storms. But I'm still worried, and can't wait to check on them in the morning.