Monday, March 29, 2010

Giveaway Sneak Preview

It's almost that time! In April I will be blogging about Vasculitis and Wegener's Granulomatosis in honor of Vasculitis Awareness Week, April 26th through May 1st. I will also be having a giveaway at the end of the month. More details to come, but here is the prize:

Monday, March 22, 2010

I ♥ Hearts

My Etsy shop has recently reached 200 shop hearts. I am very appreciative of every single heart I get and I wish I could give each person who hearts me a gift, but if I did I would go bankrupt! So I celebrate the milestones.

I decided when I got my 100th heart I would give a small thank you gift to each 100th heart. So here is a thank you to Brookes of Gorgeous Green Mama (who makes the cutest bottleneck necklaces by the way). She has a hard time with earrings, so I decided to make her a double heart pin. It's on its way, Brookes! And thanks, again!

The cute card I attached the pin to was made by Mallory Alisabeth.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

My Newest Project

Ever since I started working with copper clay, I have been wanting to pair it with silver clay pieces. I haven't dared to fire them together yet (although I did buy a book about it), so instead I depended on good old rivets. Here is the result:

The leaves are PMC and the flower is COPPRClay. The flower rivet is Argentium sterling silver and the rest of the rivets are copper. It hangs from large-link Argentium chain and I put an Argentium magnetic clasp on it to be sure it is sturdy.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Coming Up in April

Wow! April will be a busy month for me, for a change. Usually it's one of my slower months as the craft fair season hasn't started yet, but this year I've got some stuff planned:

~I'll be doing The Beads and Baubles Downeast Spring Bead and Jewelry Show on Friday, April 16th (12:00 noon to 6:00 p.m.) and Saturday, April 17th (10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.) on the second floor of the Maine Grind building on Main Street in Ellsworth. I'll have some finished jewelry there, but the focus will be on handcrafted pendants and beads made from metal clay (silver and copper).

~On Tuesday, April 27th I will be teaching a workshop from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon at the Woodlawn Museum (known to locals as the Black House): Making a PMC Pendant. This will be a quick and fun way to make your own jewelry piece to keep or to give for Mother's Day. For more information or to register, you can go to the Woodlawn Museum website.

~Last, but not least, April 25th through May 2nd is Vasculitis Awareness Week. As you know if you have followed my blog for a while, I have Wegener's Granulomatosis, a form of Vasculitis. It's a fairly rare autoimmune disease. While most people have at least heard of the more common autoimmune diseases like Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis, many people have never heard of Wegener's. And so to raise awareness and help raise money for research, I will be donating 10% of my sales through my Etsy shop during the month of April to the Vasculitis Foundation. Also during April, I will be giving small copper Keep Hope Close to Your Heart charms with each purchase.

To bring more awareness to Wegener's and Vasculitis, I will be writing a bit about my experience with Wegener's and I hope to tell others' stories as well. Along with that, I will be doing a giveaway. In order to raise awareness, people have to hear my story (and those of others) and to hear my story, people will need to read my blog. So in order to get more people to follow my blog, I will be giving away a large Keep Hope Close to Your Heart brooch. The design is still in the works and once it is finished I will have photos, as well as more details on how to get a chance to win it.

So, stay tuned for more information. If you or someone you know suffers from any form of Vasculitis, I would love to hear your story and possibly include it in my blog in April.

Friday, March 12, 2010

My (Virtual) Shopping Trip

In my spare time, I look around on Etsy and dream about what I would buy if I had all the money in the world. Actually, if I had all the money in the world, I'd be writing this from a beach in France. So imagining a warm breeze, sand beneath my feet, a glass of wine and a beautiful sunset, I am going to go on a virtual shopping spree. If you want to join along, close your eyes for a moment and imagine the sun, the sand and your favorite drink... (Unless indicated, all of the sellers below are members of the Etsy Maine Team. I like to support local artisans whenever I can.)

I already have a scarf and a shawl from Lizzyoos and I love them! But one can never have too many shawls. You know, for those chilly evenings on the French Riviera! I love the colors of this one. She also has a couple of beautiful summery sleeveless dresses, but, alas, they wouldn't fit me!

I think I'll need a purse on this trip, too. I like this one from Becky Rose. Becky weaves her own fabric and makes the most beautiful things from it!

And while I'm at it, a nice dress would probably be a good idea. Here's a beautiful vintage one from Cinderella Lollipop.

I'm sure I'll want to write home to all my friends and family and what better way to do it than with cards from Cozink (who just happens to be the Maine Team Featured Artist of the Month).

And last, but not least, I can't come home without a souvenir. I love vintage and I love books, so it only makes sense that my souvenir would be a vintage book from La Pomme Vintage, an Etsy shop located in France.

Thank you for coming along on this little trip with me. Until we meet again, au revoir, mes amies!

Monday, March 1, 2010

More Copper Clay Fun

In my last blog post, I discussed my experiments with the two brands of copper clay and their firing schedules. I didn't make anything except pieces for comparison.

This past weekend I experimented some more, this time making pieces to be used in jewelry. I have learned a few things from these experiments, which I will share here. I used ArtClay Copper but fired it using the firing schedule of COPPR Clay, as I have found this to be the best option.

I made several pieces: One pin, one failure, and some charms. The clay was still moist when I opened the package, but it did have a black layer of crud on it. I had expected this, having read it would happen, and simply scraped it off and discarded it. I'm glad this doesn't happen with silver clay! It would kill me to have to throw away as much silver as I did copper.

First on the failure: I have a terracotta cookie stamp with a Celtic looking wreath on it. My idea was to have it as a pendant. It didn't work well and the piece broke into two pieces during firing. It was the last piece I made and I am not sure if it was moist enough when I began working on it. The clay had some cracks in it that I tried to fix with slip. I had read also that anything that can absorb moisture (like wooden stamps, etc.) shouldn't be used with copper clay. I believe that applies to terracotta as well.

Lessons learned:
  1. Slip is not the best choice for fixing large cracks. The repairs did not stand up to the firing process.
  2. Copper clay seems to dry out quicker than silver clay and it's very important to keep it moist.
I feel pretty fortunate that the broken piece was my only major failure. My other pieces went quite well. I like that I can feel free to make thicker, larger and more substantial pieces with copper clay without worrying as much about the ultimate price of the piece. As I said, I made a pin and several smaller charms. Copper clay takes well to silicone molds, as well as rubber stamps. After firing, I played with liver of sulphur to add patinas to the copper. Never having worked with copper before, it was an interesting experiment.

More lessons learned:

  1. Plain old copper wire purchased in the hardware store fires well with copper clay.
  2. Working with dry unfired copper clay is very messy. Everything gets coated with an orangey powder.
  3. Copper doesn't take a patina quite the way silver does. The blues and greens aren't as vibrant and it takes much longer to reach those colors in copper than in silver.
  4. Applying gel liver of sulphur undiluted directly to the copper will turn it black instantly (it's slower with silver), which is great if you want dark crevices, but aren't patient.
  5. Polishing the high spots removes patina well and gives the pieces a wonderful new-penny shine.

I will be working with copper clay more and more, by the looks of it. I am going to experiment with ways to include both copper and silver clay in the same piece.