I recently prepared another tutorial for www.artisanjewelrytimes.com, this time for a pair or earrings that I came up with some time ago, wanting to surprise a friend with a piece that was made just for her. And so the earrings say so.
This follows the first tutorial I prepared for the magazine back in July, which was featured on the cover and the Focus on Fabulous article - you can see it in my last post.
Working on the tutorials holds special meaning for me. I'll explain.
Paying it forward
The magazine caters to the jewelry artist at the beginner level; those who are hungry for knowledge and to expand their skills. I recognize the feeling.
Back when I first started making jewelry, and living in a country where no classes were available, no jewelry books could be found or ordered by mail, and internet was so slow that downloading a video was but a dream, purchasing tutorials from other artists was my main source to acquire the knowledge I craved and satisfy my curiosity of the workings behind the pieces I aspired to do.
I usually did not replicate the pieces, but rather just learnt the techniques that I couldn't figure out on my own.
I have moved on quite a bit since then. Still learning, still exploring, but I have acquired enough knowledge to allow me to work a lot out on my own and not rely so much on others.
But I remember well.
And so it is particularly satisfying to me, this sort of "paying it forward", of carefully preparing the instructions, taking and editing all of the photos, thinking of what I would like to know about making a piece if I was learning from scratch, and making sure to provide all the information that student might need.
I do hope I am helping someone I don't even know; someone who is perhaps on the other side of the world; someone who shares this passion about manipulating materials and using tools, of feeling creative and accomplished at the end.
If you are that person, if you use my tutorial, I hope it helps you not only to create this piece but to expand your skills and open up other ideas and possibilities. Enjoy it as much as I enjoyed preparing it for you.
Plus I love seeing my name in the cover of magazines!
Introvert quote of the day:
“Quiet people have the loudest minds.” Stephen Hawking
Wow! Am I enjoying July or what!?
I have celebrated my birthday, my wedding anniversary, I traveled to beautiful Cape Town in South Africa, Portugal won the Euro soccer championship on the very day of my birthday, and Artisan Jewelry Times, a great online jewelry magazine, selected one of my necklaces, which I called Orbits, to feature on their cover.
They also included an article on me and my work in their Focus on Fabulous feature...
And they asked me to produce a step-by-step tutorial with detailed photos, which is also included in their July issue!
The tutorial was a lot of work of actually making the piece, taking various photos of every step, selecting the best... with almost 40 steps accompanied by photos, there were at least 3 times that number of photos taken.
But I thoroughly enjoyed the process and it made me think that it's something I might like to do more of in the future!
Here's the link to the magazine. It's full of useful info for jewelry makers, beautiful photos, and it's totally worth subscribing to.
July rocks! And it's not even the middle of the month...
Introvert quote of the day:
“Beware of those who seek constant crowds; they are nothing alone.” ~Charles Bukowski
For you, jewelry-making and resin-working gals, I thought I’d share some of the tools or materials that I find really helpful and can make your life easier while you indulge in your dreamy, manicure-ruining, zen-inducing hobby or business.
Let’s start with the most obvious, expensive, and mind-blowing tool:
The Foredom flex shaft!
It was a challenge to learn how to use this tool by myself. There isn’t a one-stop shop where you can learn all about the various tasks it can accomplish and the uses for its various bits, so I used a combination of resources to slowly build up my knowledge and make the most use of it. I’m still a long way to using my flex shaft to its full advantage, but here are some examples of tasks that are made easy by this tool:
Some of the resources you can use to learn more about the flex shaft are:
1 - www.ganoksin.com/
If you’re not a member yet, do yourself a favor and become one. It’s a wonderful community, sharing knowledge on anything from tips and materials to the business aspect of your jewelry making and selling. You can ask questions, and you're almost guaranteed to get generous information from knowledgeable jewelers.
2 – The book The Flexible Shaft Machine – Jewelry Techniques, by Harold O’Connor. It’s a black and white book, and the pictures are sometimes not very clear, but it’s still the resource I found with more info about the flex shaft bits in one place.
3 – You Yube videos
There are various, just search for "flex shaft". Nancy Hamilton has some pretty humorous and informative videos, including one on the use of this tool:
You can purchase different handpieces for your flex shaft depending on your intended use. The photo below shows you the two I use: No. 1 is the H.20 Quick-Change handpiece. I loooooove it because a quick flick of the lever allows for a speedy change to a different bit when you’re handling different jobs. It is the one I use most often. One drawback is that the collet only takes bits with a 3/32 shank, so you are somewhat limited in the type of bits you can use. I found that diamond drills, for example, used to drill or enlarge holes in stones or pearls, do not come in this shank size.
Which brings me to my No. 2 handpiece: the H.30 Key Type Chuck handpiece. It will take whatever size shank you need! However, it is a bit more cumbersome to change bits, you have to use a chuck key to release and tighten them, and it adds time to your process. But it allows you maximum flexibility in terms of the variety and number of bits you can use. And mine is PINK! How cool is that?
Circle divider template
I use it all the time to mark the spots for holes in circular shapes (works for others as well). So easy to use! Just align your metal circles with the circle lines on the template, and use the diagonal lines to mark the spots where you’ll drill holes with a Sharpie pen.
I got my circle divider template from another very useful and worth-every-penny book:
Joanna Golberg’s Making Metal Jewelry. I just made a few copies of the template on the book, covered them with self-adhesive contact paper and always have them around.
Thingy to hold pieces flat while resin cures
Call it what you like – it’s a spongy-plasticky square that came with some gadget I bought. While making resin earrings, all the soldering needs to be finished before I work the resin into them. When I have post earrings, I need to stick the resin into something that will ensure the earrings will be completely flat and the resin does not pour out – it’s what I used, for example, for the earrings below. I’m sure you have equivalent spongy stuff around that you can use – think outside the box!
Yep. I go through lots of them. I use them to clean bits of glue when I’m gluing pearls, to remove resin from my hands while I’m working it, and to swipe spills away from the pieces while the resin is still wet.
And if like me you are the mother of a son or daughter who stopped needing baby wipes many years ago, the scent will remind you of that wonderful time when you were his/her whole world…
Not quite for jewelry making but part of the process – it’s great to prop pieces for photographing! Like the purple earrings!
Like we say in Mozambique, “fica bem” – stay well (enjoy yourself, have a great time, be healthy, all into one!)
Introvert quote of the day:
Thunder is good; thunder is impressive. But it’s lightning that does the work. Mark Twain
A few things are especially fiendish to your silver jewelry, and with a bit of care and not much time, you can keep your pieces in good shape and cleaner for longer.
Jump in the pool naked
Ok, so I don't mean without your bikini/bathing suit, but I do mean without your jewelry. I know all us girls like to adorn ourselves a little, especially when the only things keeping our modesty in public are three triangles of fabric, so who among us is not guilty of wearing silver earrings or necklaces, rings, etc. at the pool? Well, the chlorine and other chemicals in the water love to oxidize your silver, so you're not doing it any favors by bathing it in that cocktail. So consider not wearing any jewelry next time you jump in the water.
(and I must remember to follow my own advice).
Brush your teeth, not your necklaces
Brushing silver with a toothbrush and some toothpaste is a popular tip for cleaning silver, and I myself have done this in the past. The truth is, silver is very soft, and the toothbrush may scratch it, making it lose some of its shine. If you must do this, then be sure to chose a toothbrush with really soft bristles, like a child's brush.
A better trick is cleaning your silver with some baking soda, following these steps:
1 - Line a container with aluminum foil.
2 - Place the jewelry on top, spread evenly.
3 - Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of baking soda and cover with 1 cup of boiling water.
4 - Swirl the jewelry and watch it shine!
You can find videos on YouTube for this if you're more of a visual kind of gal.
Part with only a few dollars
Pro-polish polishing pads are my favorite of all things for quickly cleaning silver (and other metals as well). The pads have permanently bonded micro-abrasives that wipe away the dirt and oxidation with a light touch and you can get 50 for less than $10! You can use them until they are completely black so they last a long time too. I usually get them at www.riogrande.com/
Silver does not need a moisturizer
This is for those of you who are mildly OCD like me and wash their hands a thousand and one times a day, and then proceed to moisturize their hands e-v-e-r-y time... Well, guess what? your silver does not like those lotions and potions, so remove your rings and bracelets and let those creams absorb thoroughly before you put them back on. It'll take you another 5 seconds, if that, and your silver will thank you for it.
The same goes for perfume. Wait until perfume dries on your skin before you wear your bling.
Don't throw your jewelry on the floor
Well, I don't actually know anyone who does this, but I do know people who throw the jewelry they remove at the end of the day into a box with all of their other stash. This would be the equivalent of dropping your clothes on the floor, and I'm sure there aren't that many women who do this, so why treat jewelry differently?
Besides, there are little mischievous fairies at work in those boxes, who use contortionist moves to entangle your necklaces, bracelets and chains. You'll spend more time fixing that mess without breaking anything than dedicating some careful thought into wiping your jewelry with a soft cloth to remove any dirt and storing it properly.
A quick search on Pinterest for "jewelry storage solutions" will give you plenty of ideas - one of them will be the right one for you.
The humidity in the country where I live is extremely high, which speeds up the oxidation process, so I store my pieces individually in anti-tarnish bags. They keep the metal cleaner and shinier longer.
Of course, I usually prefer my silver oxidized - intentionally that is, using liver of sulphur. Like in the piece below.
What about you? Do you have any cleaning or storage tips? Do share!
Introvert tip of the day:
"Silence is only frightening to people who are compulsively verbalizing." ~ William S. Boroughs
Let me start by saying I am grateful to many bloggers and others who shared knowledge and tips about how to build your own website, photo tips, and general helpful information about being online. Shout out to http://www.websitetooltester.com/ - their review of website builders and helpful ebook led me to finally choose Weebly and build a simple website easily.
But I can't take any more lists. You know the ones.
"the 10 mistakes you're making on social media!"
"327 ways to gain 17 million followers on your blog!"
"100 ways to perfect the flat lay on Instagram!" (this one always makes me laugh - perhaps I just have a dirty mind).
Apparently for Instagram, it's very important that your feed is uniform and that it has a consistent image.
Well, doesn't that sound incredibly uni dimensional to you? All your photos will have the same feel, portray the same sanitized image of you. Yes, the overall image may be attractive, but it doesn't strike a connection with me. I won't remember any single one of those photos.
Perhaps I'm nuts, but I've always looked for the imperfection in things. It's what makes them unique. I will remember the quirky ones, those that will make me laugh, feel, and show the human behind the image.
"But Carla, you won't have XXXX (insert appropriate number) of people following you!" Oh shock, horror!
I understand having 17 million followers may be financially rewarding and boost your ego. I wish I had 17 million people buying my jewelry! I love every one of my FB, Instagram, etc., followers and love when they take the time to engage with me.
But the truth is, I got into this because I wanted to make jewelry. I wanted to be a metalsmith, a jewelry designer. I like photography, travelling, writing. And I like sharing what I find interesting. If you like it too, great! If you like it enough to follow me, amazing! Let's connect - show me your awesome imperfection.
And you know what? Even if I didn't have a single follower, a travelling, photographing, writing, cooking jewelry designer is still who I am! I'll still go into my studio and torture metal to submission, or swirl resin into amazing colors!
Oh, I forgot about blog posting - it needs to be consistent. Daily even. Same time every day. Riiiight... I won't be doing that.
I'll finish with a photo of me and my last tool purchase. No, not Dr. Dre headphones (or whatever doctor that's designing headphones these days... ha!), but rather my noise-cancelling protection gear for my hammering times - now I just need to get a pair for hubby, son, all the neighbors down the street...
Hi, I'm Carla
I love making jewelry, travelling, taking photographs, reading, cooking, experimenting new things, living in Africa,finding leopards and eating roasted marrow bones. Oh, and making the jewelry that celebrates your uniqueness!