Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday Favorites!

Sooooooo, I'm leaving for vacation tomorrow - we must ALL know that vacation is a FAVORITE thing. :) I am going to Ocean City MD - we go every year. This year we are staying 2 weeks, which is new. We always stay at the same place so its like going home. I won't stay the whole 2 weeks, I'll come back up for work for a couple of days, but then I"ll go back down - so I still get over a week of relaxation. YAY!

I was thinking of other favorites on my drive to work this morning. There wasn't anything that was really sticking out to me, sad to say. Other than a bunch of philosophical stuff. But I had in mind more tangible things when I started this weekly feature so I don't want to get all esoteric.

Hmm, faves......what is a fave of mine? Hmmmm. ok, I have one. Nothing exciting, but this DID come to mind this morning for some reason and its come to mind again so here it is...

paste flux.

I like it.

I used liquid, prips I think, when I very first learned to solder. Sprayed it on, painted it on....used it, never thought much of it til someone recommended paste. Uhh, yeaaaaaaaaa. LOVE it. :) I am not sure what brand I use - only that it comes in a big tub and I've been using it for quite a long while and its still a quarter full. And it would be more full if I didn't constantly leave the durn lid off of it. Then reconstitute, leave the lid off, reconsistute - you get the idea. There is also a lot of weird stuff floating around in there - its a quagmire really. And its a rather disconcerting shade of grey now because I got some burnt toothpick in there....yea, its delightful to look at. NOT. But it works. And works well.

I like it.

What do you use?

Paste or liquid or something else? (firescoff anyone??)

I may or may not check in while I am at the oshun. Oh, thats how you say ocean in Bawlmorese.

oh, Bawlmore? Thats how you say Baltimore if you're REALLY a Bawlteemoron -- which I'm not really...but I like the nomenclature that surrounds the city.....

Honfest anyone?

Think "Hairspray"......

Oh, and what do you think about the new colors? Yes? No? Make em go????

I wanted to lighten up a bit.....


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Doxa-what? Doxa-WHO? What's up with that?

I caught a bit of a blogpost today that was an update of sorts on the author of the blog. Citing the fact that the 'about me' page hasn't changed in a while, nor does it necessarily fully capture who he is, he put together a little update.

I thought it was a neat idea, so I'm adopting it, adapting it, and encouraging you to do the same. :) I read some of you a lot, but don't necessarily know how you got to be where you are or whatever, so, give it some thought and maybe clue us all in a little bit sometime soon.

Behind " A Metalsmith's Journey" or "Doxallo Designs", Part I

Let's start with.........some questions I get:

What's with the name?
"A metalsmith's journey" - that's pretty self explanatory and since I didn't know exactly where I might go with this whole thing I thought I chose to be decidedly vague. ;)

"Doxallo Designs" - I really didn't know what to use as a 'business name'. Some advise not to use one's own name as you can never divest yourself of it....its always gonna be with you. I have always like the word "Doxa" - greek for glory. Not that I think I'm some great glory mind you - but I like the idea that something 'glorious' can come from raw materials...and that the things I chose to work with - stones from the earth, to me, point to God's glory. The glory of His creation turned into my creations (now THATs what I call teamwork! haha).

Anyway, I combined that word with 'llo' which I shortened from "Mr. Cellophane" from the song in the movie Chicago. I love the song, the skit, and I can appreciate that Mr. Cellophane felt 'invisible', hidden from sight ("'Cause you can look right through me, Walk right by me, And never know I'm there!") , and I appreciate that the rocks I use are hidden from sight, under our feet, in the earth, til someone digs them up, cuts and polishes them; and they make it to me for use in jewelry. So its a revelation - of a hidden glory. Hence, "Doxallo" means 'hidden glory'.

It also encompases part of my life philosophy, how I try to go through life - looking for the glory in all things. Hidden glory perhaps, but still there. In 'things', in 'moments', and in people.

How'd you get your start?

I have always like being creative although I think I surpressed it for many years...or just got too busy or something. Life took over well, my life. ;-)

But I've drawn - I used to use pastels (chalk) when I was MUCH younger - pre-teen, and I've attempted tons of other hobby things - candle making, fabric painting, working with dried flowers, string art, I can't recall what all I've bought supplies for over the years thinking that 'this will be fun!'. Then never taking the time to really learn to make something of quality. I recently took up painting, acrylics, with my son, but thats done very minimally although I enjoy it a lot.

So, how did I get into jewelry?
Well, someone gave my daughter a wire jewelry kit. She never even really opened the box and it sat and sat and sat, collecting dust. For YEARS. I pulled it out once and looked at it but it wasn't appealing to me and back under the sofa it went. (for real) Until I pulled it out once again when I was cleaning. Wanting a break from cleaning (yea, who doesn't want THAT? a break from cleaning that is...)

I sat down and leafed through the book. Hmm, kind of interesting. I picked up the wire and a small pair of pliers and fiddled a bit. Cute. But thats it. Cute. Nothing I would wear. Why not? Because it was very thin metal, and base metal, who knows what kind. It just didn't appeal to me.

This is one of the first things EVER that I made - is on that hard springy wire - whats it called?? Dang, can't think of it -- ohhhhhh memory wire. Now there's a memory I'd like to forget.

I then used some base metal in the box for things like these earrings.

These are with brass or some other wire that came in the box, I know not what it was, but they are kind of cute.

I now had another tool though - the internet. I don't really recall if I went in search of or if I just happend on it, but I found some info on wire jewelry. Connie Fox is one of the most prominently known that I came across. Now THIS interested me. I like her work. I bought some sterling wire and some beads and I've never looked back. I was instantly hooked.

This is my first use of sterling wire. Loops and 's' links and a very basic little clasp. And you can see my first "Connie Fox" bangle as well.

I went online further and found others working in wire and I learned and grew and was really enjoying it as a hobby, both creatively and socially.

About a year or two into it I began adding in some sheet, using cold connections I made pieces like these earrings.

Then I bought a little plumbers torch to make headpins.

The sheet quickly began taking over my designs and I stamped and punched and used heat to reticulate. and then....

I learned to solder.

This is my first soldered piece. A simple ring band.

Soldering changed things DRASTICALLY. I learned to make my own settings and forms and its just taken off from there.

You can see where I am now....pretty far from where I began. Its been ohhhh, right about 5 years total I think.

I am mostly self guided in my learning. I haven't been able to enroll in a metals program but I've learned from books, and friends online, and other online sources, and I've had the benefit of a few weekend workshops. Slowly, and sometimes painfully, I have learned new skills. Its been a lot of fun. :)

Why aren't you selling more of your work?
I have JUST recently begun selling. There are a few reasons I've been somewhat hesitant to sell. First and foremost, I have very exacting standards. I don't want work going out that I can't comfortably stand behind 100%. So I've continued perfecting. I'm not unrealistic (well mostly) - I'm not aiming for an unreasonable or unattainable standard, but I've had a sort of circular pattern working against me. Since I had the mindset, in the beginning, of this being a hobby I have allowed myself to be very myopic; only seeing the one part of a project that I was learning at the time. Sometimes this meant the backside of a piece wasn't addressed at all. Or that I rushed through one part just to get to the part which used the technique I wanted to learn at the time. At times I didn't even finish a piece, just went on to the next. I am blessed that I could afford to approach this strictly as a hobby. But the whole "I'm not selling, so it doesn't matter" began working against me as it gave me permission to CONTINUE working that way even after I had the skils to properly finish something.

The other factor has been time. I haven't had the time to take selling seriously. Business plan, tax ID, packaging....and on and on and on...I am only now beginning to organize some of those things. So, I'm starting. But its slow going. :) And thats ok with me.

I'll stop there. Don't want to bore you all in one day. ;-)

Have a question you'd like me to answer? About myself, or my work, or whatever..? List it in the comments, or drop me an email (janiceihg AT hotmail DOT com) and I'll answer it in Part II, or III, or IV....

And seriously, consider answering some of your most FAQs on your blog. I bet your readers are interested in learning more about you, how you got your start, what makes you tick, what inspires you, etc etc etc. I know I am. I'll be reading......


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

TFT - tiny details are sometimes really BIG

metalsmithingSo I wanted to do some more tension setting last night, only I forgot one tiny detail. I don't have a slotted or grooved ring mandrel. Makes it a little hard to work on faceted stones like that. Only I didn't recall that tiny detail, which made a BIG deal to me. I was quite frustrated when I had my 8ga ring shank soaking in the pickle only to realize my mandrel is one big shiny mass of metal. No groove. I'm grooveless. Hmm, maybe I should have called this post "How Janice got her groove back on.." Except, well, I'm still grooveless.

tension set ring, garnet, sterling silver
I rattled around a bit, really kind of thrown off track. I finally ended up doing another tension setting with some halfround wire that I could shape quickly.

garnet tenstion set ring sterling silver
I filed it away in a sort of reverse mirror of the stone and then popped the stone in from the back (with some serious finagling). Gave the shank a scratch finish and away we go!

I have been doing a little more piercing lately - mostly on the backs sterling, pierced ring, opalof pieces just to add some interest. Combine that, with the fact that I keep looking at the hinged pendant up there in my banner - the one with the rhodocro. in it, and I've been itching to do MORE piercing - its like a subliminal message......brewing in my subconsicous.

You can see what I did to the back of the opal ring that I posted recently.

So last night I did a little tiny pierced pendant, intending to set a 5mm stone in a sterling, pierced, pendant, flush set citrinetube setting, but I ended up piercing more than I thought, then added some chased I had no room for what now seemed a really LARGE 5mm stone.

Instead I decided to flush set a 2mm citrine. Keep in mind my previous attempts at flush setting have been REALLY hit or miss. After much effort, gritting of teeth, huffing and puffing and near hissy fit (oh, and almost resorting to bead setting the darn thing) I got it flush set.


Thus ends another Tales from Tuesdayyyyyyyyyy.weeee-ewwwwww-woooooo-ooooooo.



Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tutorial Tuesday & I have met my match

I have a great tutorial for today. This one just takes the cake and I want to know if you try this.

I like to call this one - "how its done - old school" - they call it "Our Way", so I invite you to take a gander- "Our Way" by Studio Arete
(view as a full window - not full screen mind you - and simply hover your mouse over each step which will bring that step to the top of the view, and sort of hover your way through)

For shizzle my izzle you should try it. When I grow big enough, umm, you-know-whats, I'll try it too. ;-)

Now on to a recap of my little road trip on Sunday. I drove up to PA to meet up with Rina in her studio - Mike and Lisa came too.

You must know first though that Rina has a FAB-O studio space that she shares with two other metalsmiths. Their names escape me, but I met one last time and one this time - I think this time it was Kristen (??sorry if I'm wrong!). Their studio is a large comfy room with floor to ceiling windows (more or less) that let in TONS of light. The center of the room is filled with a hugeass table (yes, that is the technical term, you'd know it if you saw it) that was a former stage for a band that previously rented the space. The stage has been liften onto legs and serves as a lovely workspace. The edges of the room have various countertops (i.e, soldering station) and shelves and tables for various 'stations' - a flexshaft station, rolling mill station, etc.

You'd think with this lovely studio we'd have gotten more WORK done. Nice thought.

But we did something even better.

We talked.

And we laughed.

And a couple of us drank some nice bourbon. (Gary and Lisa!!!)

And we talked some more.

Well, when we could get a word in LISA. ;-) I truly never thought I'd meet someone who could out talk me. I have met my match. I luv her dearly.

When I first got there, I tossed my stuff down and immediately began oohing and ahhhhing over all the show and tell the studio mates left out for us. A real treat. I love seeing what other people are working on. From Kristen's heavy hammered pieces, to the lovely leafed pendant on the other workspace, to Rina's keum-bo...I just kept grabbing one after another and exclaiming "Oh WOW" and "ahhh, look at THIS!" - it was really inspiring.

Lisa and Gary arrived shortly thereafter and it was more hugs all the way around and oohing and ahhhing and catching up, and talking, and laughing, and eating, and sharing, and talking, and ohhh, MORE talking but now over the soldering station as one of us was more moving conversation than working. But is was soooooooo great.

More than anything, it is great to be able to share with these people. They know schtuff about me and my life that I keep bottled up. And thats a good thing - to be able to share. And for it to be with people who 'get' my metalsmithing passion and can change direction on a dime to go from cutting a seat for a sapphire to commiserating about our children or aging or whatever else is going on at the moment. And then back just as quickly to how am I going to set this !($&^! raw diamond (you're not Lisa, just send the damn thing back)...and all of this amidst two different bands practicing in the background - or foreground?....

I really could not have asked for a better day. I had such a good time, I forgot to call home when I got there to let them know I arrived safely and it wasn't until I was 10 minutes on the road towards home that I realized I hadn't even taken my camera out of the bag. I damn near turned around and went back.

But remember, I did do my first ever tension setting - thanks to Gary.

That brings me to something else about these folks - They are some of the sharingyest people I know. No airs or snobbery. No secrets.

Down to earth, one for all and all for one, we're all in it together - lets share, lets succeed, kind of people.

MY kind of people.

I'm already wondering when we can get together again.

THANK YOU RINA! (and studio mates) for opening up your studio yet again to us. I miss you guys already!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! There is always the retreat in October ya know........still a couple of spots left....


Monday, July 20, 2009

Tension, not always a bad thing

Tension, sawblade, 'twang!!!' - not a bad thing.

Tension, headache, ow - bad thing.

Tension, sapphire, sterling - not a bad thing.

Yep, my first tension setting. What a sweet little baby.

Maybe something only this mother will cherish, looking past any newborn oddness, bumps, or weirdness -- bless your haaaaaaaaaart little one, you're all mine.

This was made yesterday when I got together with 3 other metalsmiths in PA. We converged AGAIN upon Rina - in her awesome studio. Lisa, Gary, and I all arrived before noon and stayed until at least 8pm. I was the first to arrive and the first to leave. And I had a blast. We hardly made anything, in fact, I was the only one that actually made anything although Lisa and Gary started a project very late into the day, and partway into a bottle of bourbon. They never finished. The ring that is. (actually they didn't finish the bourbon either - it was a HUGE bottle!) But they had fun anyway. ;-) Gary helped walk me through my first tension setting and I think I'm hooked. Can't wait to try another. And can't wait to get together with my pals again! Rina's studio is central for all of us - it took me less than 2 hours to get there, Lisa comes from the furthest but was there in just about 2 hours. Besides the yearly retreat in NC, this is the only time I really get benchtime with others. Can't say how much I enjoy it. :)

On Saturday I had some rare free time so I made a couple of rings, with my trademark shank.

This one is opal in sterling.

The other ring was damaged during polishing, I need to remake the setting. :(

I decided I needed to make something other than rings for a change, so I made this sweet little pair of sterling and garnet earrings.

I am leaving for vacation on Saturday but hope to get some bench time this week in addition to my Tuesday night tomorrow night. I am having a renewed 'fun' creating lately. )

It was a busy weekend and will be a busy week, but I hope to have a few more intersting things to post this week. STAY TUNED!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Friday Fave & Friday Five - a twofer!

So today's Friday Fave is also going to be a Friday FIVE. yay! ;-)

I want to share 5 new Favorite Etsy shops.

Mary Judy - I stumbled onto her shop and was immediately mezmerized - the colors and patterns just made me so happy. So today I bought this:
as a little birthday pressie to myself. :) YAY!

OnaRoll - there is just something so cozy about her items, oh crap - they ARE cozies. But you know what I mean...well, maybe you do. I think as I grow older I appreciate softness....-which I know seems in stark contrast to the bright WOW colors in the first I'm a gal with lots of facets - want to make something of it? hmmm, I thought not. ;-) I love that her items bring a little gentleness into one's day - on your ipod or on your cofee cup - ooooooooooh, I know why I like it. I'm tactile. Texture girl, remember? uhh-huh. I want one.

UnderthePlanet - lush, fabulous handbags. Need I say more?

Amy Giacomelli - Fabulous bright paintings....

Joshua Craig art - metal bowls -- really really NICE metal bowls. :)

There you have it - ENJOY! :)



That's what we say whenever we go over a speed bump - "BUMP-a-LUMP". Don't ask me why. Its one of those things that predates any possibility of meaningful explanation, and it just 'is'. We have lots of those things in our family - I am sure you do too. :)

The phrase came to mind as I was playing with texturing some copper to use in enamelling. I wanted something bumpy that would have some relief to hold color with some high spots that could be knocked off to show the copper. Although I fried those enamel pieces, I really liked the preceeding forms and wondered what they would look like in sterling.
So, on bench night I made a couple of quick samples - and I do mean quick.
These are hand formed, no press, although I wonder if I could do something similar in the press and have exacting reproducible shapes. I like that these are all a little different though. I'm not sure what gauge I did these in, but they are VERY lightweight -almost too light. I am going to try again in a heavier gauge but these are perfectly wearable - I will clean them up a bit and oxidize them and probably suspend them from leather cord. In addition to thinking 'bump-a-limp' I also think 'sea slug'. What about you? What comes to mind when seeing these weird forms?
Thinking sea slug reminds me of another favorite phrase of my LG and I - 'say hello to my little friend'. Used in a variety of capacities and situations - from, "Here comes a snowball directly at your head!" to "look at this cool bug I just found".
Today I'd like you to say hello to a friend of mine - Stevie B. He makes cool stuff and is tremendously witty. Its a lovely combination. :) Go see him - do it now.
I didn't get back to the bench last night - LG's arm is ok, just badly bruised. He's not a 'suck it up' kinda guy, but he was fine by the time I got home from work so I knew it was no big deal. STill he took th enight off from swimteam, we had a relaxed evening and I did some computer stuff. Messed around with some 'social site' stuff - Facebook mostly. What I should be doing is updating my website. That has GOT to be a focus. I also have two more tutorials in mind, just need to do some process photos and take care of the write ups, format them, and upload. I think I am going to do a third one as well - a freebie. I hope to have them all done by Sunday evening.
Back to work for me - Ciao' all!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Thats WorkS in Progress today. :)

I had a GREAT time at the bench last night - even though it was one of those exploratory kind of nights. I can NEVER seem to just leave well enough alone and do what I know, or repeat what is 'safe'. So lat night I got into a struggle with a 12 ga piece of sterling wire. I haven't really worked with any large gauge wire for a while, I tend to forget what a bear it can be.

But, out of my struggle - came this WIP

This is 12 gauge sterling with an 8mm lab sapphire....and a smaller gauge wire for the top part.
I plan on adding chain to each side to complete the piece (after I clean it up some more, polish it, and set the stone!)

I made 3 ring shanks - like this one - got them all soldered and now need to make just the right settings for them!

That's the fun part - looking at all my yummy stones!
I like the shank - its simple, lightweight, but different...makes a statement (almost) without really trying. Ya know?

I re-took some photos last night - am going to be adding a new photo with each online listing for a ring - it will show the ring on a mandrel - for sizing purposes. This one has a split view because the shank is a stirrup shape and I wanted to show how it sits up a bit making sizing difficult.

The next one is just a repolished ring - love the polisher!

This ring looks SO much better with a higher polish.
What else - ohhhhhhhhh, I have two little sterling pendants - warty little things - I totally forgot about them. I had made something similar in copper to enamel on and then thought - why not silver? They are different, quirky, I need to oxidize them and polish or tumble - but I'll snap photos tonight, even if I don't work on them.
I guess that's all.
My LG fell today and wacked his elbow but good. Got a call from camp - he wanted to stay even though it was a good knock. Got another call from camp - increased swelling, numbness....they put him in a sling. My Dad was good enough to go get him - took him to the doc for me - they just called on their way home - no x-ray, just rest and ibuprofen and see how it is tomorrow. Poor LG.
I guess he wont' be going to swim practice tonight. hmmmmmmmmm, that means I might have a bit of extra time tonight.....
Is that my bench calling? ;-)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Wonderful wacky weekend

I would have added busy crazy tired...but that goes without saying I think! I can't even recall what I did Friday night....maybe worked on some jewelry..? Not sure, seems like SO long ago.

Saturday we woke early for a swim meet - had to be there at 7am but thankfully it was a 'home' meet so it was a SHORT drive. We left the house at about 10 minutes til 7. :) I worked as a Stroke and Turn judge so I was there from start til finish, on my feet, the entire time - standing at pools edge, water glinting, watching swimmers work so hard to win their races. It is such a bad feeling to disqualify someone, but...well, its part of the schtick and a learning experience for the swimmer. Our team did well and it was a simply stunning day.. not too hot, not too cool, not too bright, it was all 'just right'. Yes, goldilocks, it really was.

We only have one swim meet left, then the HoCo Invitational - which they let ANYONE swim in. Well guess what? I'm an 'anyone'. So I think, maybe, I just might swim. Here's a little known tidbit. I used to be QUITE the swimmer.

I swam for YEARS - and I was good. As a matter of fact, I swam in an upper level league and trained with Murray Stephens of NBAC. . . that's where Michael Phelps swims. Only I was *cough* *cough* a few years before him. And I was young and dumb and quit when I was about 13. But that's another story for another day (or not) I was thinking of swimming. I'm just not sure I have the cardio to do it. We shall see. :)

Anyway - Saturday afternoon I went and visited my daughter while my son went to a friend's do what? Swim in his pool of course. As if that child hadn't had enough water for one day!! Picked him up around 5 and came home and made dinner - a rare thing, a FRIED dinner. MMMM, thin pork chops, coated with flour and crushed honey corn flakes. MMMMMMM. So good. A big green salad on the side and we were set. I touched up a ring and took some photos and went to bed around midnight I think. Oh yea, caught a few minuted of Saturday Night Live, so it was probably a bit before midnight when I went up.

Today was church and then Little Guy had a friend over - we actually went bowling. We were quite surprised to find out that its Cosmic Bowling all day on the weekends. So that was a nice treat. We played tow games and then came back here for a while before taking LG's friend back home. Dinner was a quicky, and another rare one. Hot dogs. Nathans. Oh. My. Gosh. were they ever good. Fresh corn on the cob and a fruit salad -- mmmmmmmm, it rivaled the meal from last night.

I added another 'storage' solution to my bench recently -- you can see it to the left - solid wood 'riser' -- or shoe rack. Picked it up on sale somewhere for $15.00!! What a bargain!

And it gives me two shelves plus I can still use the benchtop underneath. YAY! Now I just need to clean up all the MESS!

In the meantime, here's a ring I finished - well, I think its finished, I don't know - I think it may need to be oxidized -

PLEASE let me know what you think.....oxidize it or no?

I really like the way this ring turned out and I'd LOVE to keep it - but I think its going to go up for sale in a day or two - I just need to decide if its 'done' or not.

So please, give me your thoughts - would you oxidize this or leave it shiny? (and it is shiny - really really shiny - LOVE the new polisher!!)

I think I have a busy week at work this week -- but, soon....... in just two weeks......vacation.

Blissful, long, lovely days at the beach.

AND, this year - two weeks! Not that I'll stay the entire time, I'll scoot back, check in at work, make sure things are going well, but then I'll go back down. The rest of the family will make do without me. AND, I'll have a couple of nights HERE, with no one you know what THAT means!?? BENCH time!! Whoot! Whoot!

Doesn't take much, does it? ;-) (to excite me that is...)


Friday, July 10, 2009


I was wondering how many acronyms I could put in the title. Not really, but it struck me as funny - there's one, two, three...ha!

OK, sorry, I am quite easily amused.

TGIF - Its Friday, and I should probably be cheerier, but for some reason I just feel a bit blah. I'm tired and wish I could go home and climb in bed and pull a blanket up to my chin and snuggle down with my eyes closed drifting off into a deep sleep. I adore naps and don't get to enjoy them nearly often enough. But 'TGIF' anyway! Slap a smile on and call it good. And it will be. :)

MIA - yea, I've been a little MIA here on blogland lately. Just haven't been inspired to write or felt like I had anything worthwhile to contribute to the blogsphere. Of course, I've been reading everyone else and I've commented here and there, so its not like I've been TOTALLY gone. I've just been all up in my head.

So what's going on up there? Oh heavens, a real mish-mosh of stuff. But primarily I've been tangled up contemplating things such as - how much time I spend online, is it really productive (or worthwhile), where I should focus efforts, how do I streamline, am I spread too thin (ok, so that's a rhetorical question), am I just too damn busy at this point in my life to try to contemplate turning my hobby into a business, should I be working on my website, and then things like - how do I teach my son about compassion in a tangible way, what about that guy on the corner, am I making a difference, am I screwing up my son (that one came out of nowhere this week, I really don't know what the hell is going on in my brian lately), is it too much, it is too little, why can't I make myself do the things I know I should, could I simplify, what is the meaning of life (no, not really - just thought I'd throw that one in there).

okaaaaaaaaaaaaaay. Now that I've purged.

On to better things.

FF- Its that day. Time for a favorite.

My favorite this week has GOT to be my new little polisher.

It was a steal for under 70 bucks.

And I lurrrrrrrrrrv it.

It is certainly not without its down sides - such as the freakin' mess. And I need to secure it to the benchtop....its very lightweight and so it moves around. But, I have never worked with a polishing unit before, EVER. So its really really made a big impression on me - I think that's all I've done this week - almost. Just polish stuff. I've dug out old pieces which haven't seen the light of day in so long - and I've polished them and its like they have new life breathed into them! For me, this has been one of those things that you just don't know you're missing until you get one. Then ya' wonder why you didn't do it long ago. Those little buffs on the flexshaft just never did much for me - although I just received some new ones and they are working pretty good - its still not the same as the bench top polisher. And no more running the damn screw into a piece and yelling @!&%! One of these days I'll upgrade to this little guy's big brother, but for now this little guy is perfect for me. I have it in a box with some strategic cut outs and plastic wrap over it and vent holes cut in and that helps with the mess, but I really need a small exhaust of some sort to vent the garbage.

And I have new news.

I have a little secret. Something I've kept close to the vest.

I was made aware of an artist who was liquidating her studio. So I made some purchases. I normally attend a gem show the first weekend in July - always over July 4th weekend - and I drop a fair bit of money on gems and HillTribes and/or sterling beads/spacers, its my big yearly purchase of stones. I made the decision to forgo that and instead invest in some items from this liquidation sale. I purcahsed ALL of her faceted gemstones (*gulp* that was a big ticket item), a AF-99 kiln (YAY!), some enamelling supplies, some sterling chains and a few other misc items.

I set the kiln up right away and had the pleasure of using it already twice to test fire some enamels. There they are. Cute huh? Just kind of messing around seeing what the colors look like. Some of you know that I bought a trinket kiln some time ago for granulation and at that time I also purchased some enamels, "just in case" and just to tinker with. That defines me so well, doesn't it? FOREVER tinkering....with something new. Will I ever grow up and figure out what to make for heaven's sake? Will I ever have a 'signature style' or piece? (refer back to that 'focus' question above)

Believe it or not, the stones have just been sitting, I've hardly had a chance to look at them. Until last night. I finally began pulling some out and thinking about what to do with them. I used two of them last night - one as an accent on one of those pods I made a few weeks back. And one in a new ring. The stones aren't set yet - I need to do a final clean up of the solder areas, hope to pop the stones in tonight. But wow - what stones. They are better grade than I probably would have bought. Since I don't sell that much yet, I purchase mostly affordable mid-grade stones. These are very high grade stones. yay!
We have a swim meet tomorrow morning - but I hope to get some bench time later in the day. So hopefully I will have new pics to show and some new items in my Etsy shop - or my website, depending on if I get time to work on that - the entire website needs updating. So much to do, so little time...........

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

TT - Streeeeeeeeetch

I like to stretch myself and so I'm always trying new things. BUT, I also like when I can take one thing, and 'stretch' it to apply it to something else. That's what the tutorials today are about. Techniques that can be used in fiber or metal and beyond. My hope is that looking into these tutorials will not only provide some new ground in terms of the methods presented 'as is' but will stir the imagination to look for ways to incorporate the techniques across other artforms or by introducing new materials into jewelry making.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Imitation = flattery?

Sometimes yes.

Sometimes no.

I have been contemplating posting about this for some time.

In part due to an interesting recent (and still ongoing) conversation on Orchid about a law suit for copyright infringement. Then in part due to a conversation which was brought up in a thread on Etsy.

Then I scrapped it all because one conversation apparently spilled over into real life and there were hurt feelings and damaged relationships. I guess right now I'm just trying to figure out what I think about all the different nuances I can see, and also to invite others thoughts.

In the conversation that I was part of, I took a vague and overall general approach and simply said:

".........there are relatively few truly 'new ideas'. I go with the idea "there is nothing new under the sun". As ___ said - its how we put it together. I believe we all take in the world around us, some gets filtered out, much of it gets soaked in though.

Apart from those who sit down with a picture of something and set out to mimic it - - - when we create we draw on (from) all of our past experiences, sights, sounds, tastes, smells, emotions, etc. . . there is a shared commonality to humankind - it is no wonder that we then find a similarity in the work we produce.

I do not condone blatant copying, but can appreciate that we have a shared commonality.

Even when I believe there is blatant copying - I try to put a spin on it:'great minds think alike' - it helps me give the benefit of the doubt and keep a positive outlook. ;-) "

I could have said more, but felt that sort of summed it up.

In reality, just recently, I was almost stunned to have seen someone post a new piece they made in their blog and then just a few days to a week later see such a close item listed somewhere else for sale. And this wasn't a typical design, this was something really rather unique in working with resin. I immediately thought - 'copy!' but then just as immediately thought, well, it appears that way anyway. Truth is, I can't know. Not for sure. And who knows if the first person didn't see it somewhere else even? Or the second person may have seen it somewhere else.....who knows?

I have been online for a fair number of years now, definitely all the short time I've been making jewelry, and it never ceases to amaze me that so many 'online artists' seem to think that online is the ONLY place people are making jewelry. Forums, social networks, online galleries and photo storage sites have created this microcosm community that almost begins to think that they are all there is. In reality, there are many many many jewelry artists working in 'obscurity'...or at least with an offline presence in the world. Its a big big world out there people!

I personally would NEVER accuse someone of copying or 'stealing' ideas. I might say, "hey, wow! that looks a lot like so and so's work" and 9 times out of 10 the person will say, "yea, it does!!" and we have a good laugh and/or remind ourselves how pervasive ideas can be, or they will say that they were inspired by that person and take it as a compliment.

I myself have loads of inspiration photos - in books and in binders - some are plastered to the walls of my studio. Some come in the form of jewelry. I don't set out to mimic anyone but I'm not suprised when I can see the influence of others in my work. I'm happy to be inspired by some of the best. ;-) And I'm thrilled when I can inspire someone else.

I believe as artists we need to be true to that distinct inner voice we each have and create as we are led by whats inside. And whats inside is most assuredly influenced by everything around us. I do believe that imitation is a form of flattery.........and if I can inspire anyone then I think my art has spoken its intent. And I hope the inspiration compels others to create new and original works of art. I guess I believe 'art' is just that - new and original. A cheap knockoff is just a replica, a 'work' but not necessarily 'art'.

In the end I think the take home message for myself is this:
Be inspired. Imitate when necessary, but push it forward by listening to that creative voice inside.

When we start out, we are led by teachers, tutorials, lessons, etc. Often we create a project based on those things. Some people don't move beyond that, they have found something they are comfortable with and it works for them. But they are limited. If you are creating from within, you are never really limited.

In addition, I think some people, especially those who are 'self taught' will often look at other works and then replicate them as a method of self directed learning. I find this a lot with close knit groups of artists. Often its a byproduct of the community sharing atmosphere...if they don't have a problem with it amongst themselves, why should anyone else? Again, I have to go back to the idea of not inferring from my limited and outside perspective or jumping to conclusions based on limited information.

"For now we see through a glass but dimly........."

In the end, I don't see imitation as being a horrible thing, when used in a limited and careful way. If someone's actions are actually damaging someone elses livelihood, well, thats another story......for another day.



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