Get Up and Create!

I recently found myself selling my love of craft and the handmade movement to “experts” in the field. I had to explain why I love what I do, why I think the handmade movement is important, and how I try to encourage others to embrace the handmade movement. While doing this, I realized this might be something I have taken advantage of for some time now. Maybe my reality is incorrect, maybe there are people out there who do not appreciate the handmade movement.

 

As an artisan and a hands-on learner, I have trouble understanding the fact that some people do not craft; they do not create. I think most people appreciate fine arts and crafts, but they might not do it. At the same time, there are some people who don’t appreciate it either. All that said, I have an increasing concern that the art of craft is disappearing. In the under-40 age group, there seems to be a decreasing number of artisans. I find myself going to craft shows where I am the youngest artisan by several years, even decades.

 

When they realize that I am under 40, craft show organizers have asked me what to do to get more people of my age group involved in craft shows. The first step is to get them involved in crafts in general. The kicker is, in this economy, crafts and fine arts are put on the back burner by most under 40. Their money is going to raising children and they cannot take on the financial risk of crafts, and they especially can’t take on the risk of doing it as a business.

 

The aging population of craft show vendors has me wondering about the future of craft shows. Will there be enough people to fill the spots as the older artisans retire? Perhaps by that point, the children of the under-40 age group will be grown and those folks will be able to move into the craft show circuit. However, what if we do not get to that point? What if they do not decide to pick up crafts as businesses?

 

It sounds negative, but if we don’t get to that point, then so be it; however, that should not stop anyone from trying a craft or at least appreciating and supporting the artisans who are currently out there. In a world of big-box stores and copy-cat trends, the one surefire way to set yourself apart is to have something handcrafted. Whether it’s jewelry, clothing, or the artwork in your home, it’s important to have some sort of self-expression, even if you are not the one creating it.

 

I grew up in a town where trends were a big deal. Having the best was important, but there was also a cult following for being different. Because of this, I find myself trying to fit into trends, but that can be stressful. Being what every one wants you to be is difficult. That’s why I craft. Yes, there are lots of jewelry artisans and sewers and yarn people out there, but each person’s style is slightly different. I make the things I do because I enjoy the art of self expression. In fact, as I write this, I have an urge to go find a funky fabric and make a unique hobo-style bag. I don’t know why, but that’s how I feel like expressing myself.

 

So I challenge you now. Do you craft? If so, what do you do and is it a feeling of self expression for you? If you do not craft, why not? Don’t tell me you can’t, especially if you haven’t tried. Time is an issue? Do it little by little. Learn something new. You just might surprise yourself.

 

Thanks for stopping by!

The New Look of Silver

One of the things I enjoy about creating jewelry is the fact that there are so many styles and so many ways to create things. There are different metals, different stones, and different techniques to try and expand on. The trouble I have with this is when I get an idea in my head, I have to try it. My most recent idea was oxidizing the sterling silver I work with. Oxidation (the exposure to oxygen) causes silver to tarnish (turn a darker color) and deliberate oxidation can give jewelry a whole new look.

Generally, the reason people wear silver is because they enjoy the bright shiny color of it. Ladies work hard to keep their silver from tarnishing as they polish it regularly and store it in protective bags. However, there is a rising trend in oxidized jewelry. This type of oxidation is not from lack of maintenance though, it is done during the manufacturing process.

Before I get too far, let me clarify one item. Sterling silver is an alloy (blend) of at least 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper (typically). The copper is added to the silver to make the silver strong enough for use in jewelry and flatware. Silver itself is tarnish-resistant, but the copper reacts with oxygen and causes the metal to tarnish. Some of the other things that can cause sterling silver to tarnish are exposure to pollution, salt, sulfur, and other chemicals.

In the jewelry manufacturing process, I have found two ways of oxidizing sterling silver quickly. The first is a chemical called liver of sulfur  The sulfur causes the metal to oxidize quickly and evenly giving it a nice dark color. The jewelry can be left dark, or the high spots can be polished while the low spots are left dark, which adds texture and depth to the piece. The other way I have found is to expose the silver to sulfur in an egg. Using a hard-boiled egg, I put the piece in a container with the egg and the sulfer released by the egg gives the silver a nice dark color. This way seems much safer to me than working with chemicals. And don’t worry…I clean the piece with warm water and a mild soap before calling it done.

With the oxidized silver jewelry, you still have the quality and durability of silver jewelry, but you don’t have to worry about keeping it bright and shiny. I think this gives the pieces a natural feel and allows them to be dressed up or down much more easily than polished silver.

Here are a few pieces I recently created. What do you think?

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Red Jasper Oxidized Bracelet

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Red Jasper Oxidized Earrings

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Red Jasper Oxidized Necklace

If you would like more  information on them or would like to purchase any of them, they are available on my Etsy site through the links listed below the photos.

What are your thoughts on the oxidized metal? I wasn’t sure if I would like it, but now that I have done these three pieces, I am looking forward to creating some more. I have always thought some stones would look better with a darker metal, but I was afraid to move away from silver. This gives me a solution to that problem.

Thanks for stopping by!

Emerald – Color of the Year

If you have read any of my other posts, you are probably fully aware of the fact that I love color. It’s great in clothing, in home decorating, and in jewelry. In spite of my love for it, I don’t wear it nearly as much as I should. I need to work on that.

Before I get off topic, the reason I’m bringing up color is because I wanted to let you know about Pantone’s color of the year in case you haven’t heard about it yet. For a quick background, Pantone is considered the world’s authority on color. They create color systems, dictate color trends throughout the fashion industry and every year they designate a “color of the year.” This year’s color is emerald.

Emerald is typically associated with the gemstone of the same name. Generally, these are thought of as a dark green stone, but looking at the color swatches Pantone has put out for emerald, the hue they chose for color of the year is lighter than I was expecting. As I look through their website, they are indicating that as long as you are in some variation of the green color you will be safe, so it gives you a little space to work with if you want to be on trend in the color world.

Where I am it has been quite cold for some time now and I’m eagerly awaiting spring and warm weather. Looking at Pantone’s site is not helping me. Emerald is a very spring-like color as they are depicting it. Go on over and check it out… Pantone – Emerald

Just in case you still have leftover clothing from last year’s trend of tangerine tango, I don’t think all is lost. I think tangerine and emerald go well together, in moderation of course. (Please note, I’m not advocating changing your wardrobe each year to fit in with each yearly color trend.)

According to Pantone, green has been steadily rising in popularity over the past few years. This is due to the fact that it can complement almost any person, especially if it is the right shade of green. It is a great color for clothing (both men and women), jewelry, and home decorating. This may be because green is considered to be a color of balance. It symbolizes harmony and growth and it is supposed to protect its wearer against fears.

I really like the color green, I especially like this shade of green. It is so spring-like and it somehow gives the impression it would put its wearer in a cheerful mood. Perhaps it would do that because it is spring-like and I am ready for spring. I think I will have to keep an eye out for clothing in this color as the months get warmer. I’ll also have to do some digging for beads in this color. I do have one set I really like, but it’s not quite the right hue. What do you think?

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Do you have anything that fits the emerald color? I’d love to see it! Thanks for stopping by!