Since the beginning of this year, I have somewhat put my jewelry creations on hold due to a personal situation. However, I recently realized I really miss creating. So on a recent errand run, I stopped into a local bead shop and picked up a new sheet of copper.

I love working with sheet metal because I can create almost anything I can think of. It’s a blank slate to cut, hammer, patina, file and bend. The copper really adds an interesting color. It’s not something you often see, but it’s becoming more popular. I origninally bought a sheet of copper last summer/fall to practice with before I moved onto silver sheets, but I liked the way the pieces looked so much that I had to start working with it in addition to the silver.

While I was in the shop, I saw two different sizes of copper rings and I commented to my husband that they would make pretty earrings. I decided against getting them though because I figured I could come up with enough projects using the copper sheet. I was still thinking about these rings when I got home, so I decided to try to make some. The holes through the middle aren’t as centered as the ones in the store, but that’s okay by me. I enjoy being different. This is how they turned out:

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What do you think? They are 1” diameter with 1/2” diameter holes.

I am not one to throw things away, so the next step was to figure out what to do with the circles which resulted from punching the holes in the center of those earrings. I figured since I had two of them, the easiest thing to do would be to make another pair of earrings. The circles came out pretty smooth so I decided to work with that instead of hammering them. I sanded them lightly for a little texture and I domed them so they reflect the light beautifully. This is the result:

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What do you think?

It amazes me how two completely different pairs of earrings can come from the same base material. That’s what I love about what I do. I can create what I’m in the mood for and no two items are identical. I can be in a constant state of creativity.

This project inspired me to really start to think about making the most of things. In some cases, it would be easy to say the small circles are the waste product of the first pair of earrings and dispose of them. However, with a little creativity, trash can become treasure. I have a few pieces of jewelry which no longer really fit the style of the rest of my pieces so I’m thinking I might pull them apart and try to rework them instead of calling them a lost cause. Perhaps that will be a future blog post!

With the challenging economy many of us are facing, do you find yourself trying to find ways of reusing items or saving your scrap materials to use for a different project? It seems as though this concept is really becoming popular, even though it’s probably something we should have always been doing. If you have a creative reuse project, I would love to see it!

For now, thanks for stopping by!

 

 

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Bumps in the Road

Sometimes we hit bumps in the road and we try desperately to avoid them, but we still hit them. I’ve hit a lot of bumps in my road, I’m sure we all have, and while they hurt, I try to learn from them. I try to learn how to avoid them in the future and how to make myself better because of them.

Recently I hit bump in my road that has ended up being a pretty big bump. I wish I had learned something from it sooner and could have moved on from it months ago, but such is life sometimes. Slowly, I am learning and as I learn I have figured out one thing. I am an artist by natural design.

Over the past six months, I have drastically cut back on my creating in effort to save money. In doing so, I have found myself starting to have an urge to create. At first it didn’t bother me, but the longer I go, the more ideas I get and the more I want to create. The few times I do create, I feel so much better about myself.

So I’m not an artist by the standards of most people. I don’t draw very well and painting comes in spurts. But I am an artist in the form of a creator. I like to play with things and see what happens. I like to take an idea and tweak it. When I don’t have something to play with in this way or a general plan of something to create or work on, I start questioning my purpose. What am I meant to do?

Because of the need to save, my jewelry business has taken a backseat this year, and that’s why the blogs have been becoming more spread out. Since I’m not creating as much, I have been running out of ideas to write about. I know I need to work on this. Come October, I will have the Lititz Artisans’ Porchwalk,which I have mentioned in years past, so I need to build up my inventory for that. I am planning on having almost an entirely new setup this year…new styles, new pieces. In anticipation of this, I plan on placing a supply order soon and getting started with moving forward. I hope you will stick with me through this. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes of it.

Thanks for reading!

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Changing Course

Have you ever felt like throwing everything up in the air and starting all over again? I’m just about to that point, but I think I will try to be a bit more organized about it.

A few weeks ago I had a meeting with a small business coach from a group called SCORE. According to their website, “SCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals through education and mentorship.” I wasn’t quite sure what to think as I went to the meeting, but the two gentlemen I met with gave me a lot to think about. However, some of their ideas have lead me to think I need to back up and start over in some ways.

I must say, it was interesting to talk to two men about a jewelry business. They had no idea on anything jewelry related except for the jewelry their wives wore. However, this provided some interesting insights. One thing they pointed out is that my styles are a bit scattered. I have always prided myself on having a wide variety of styles, but they said that could actually be hurting me. It ends up looking too cluttered and doesn’t have a consistency. This hurts in advertising because I can’t have a set style to tie everything together. I thought this was interesting because I have considered going in one direction, but I wasn’t sure if it would appeal to the masses. After talking to my husband about this, I realized it’s not always what appeals to the masses that’s important. It’s more important for me to enjoy what I do and to create something that appeals to a dedicated group of followers (more or less).

With this all in mind, I have decided to move away from the big, chunky designs and go to simple and elegant designs with some nature inspired themes. This is where I started and this is what I really enjoy. If my crowdfunding project works out, this will be an excellent way to piggy-back onto the American made jewelry concept because those are going to be simple and elegant designs.

Now the challenge is to focus and continue to push myself to pursue my goal(s). I’m enjoying looking at my business in a new light and I’m looking forward to seeing where I can go from here.

How often do you find yourself doing things because you think that’s what others want? Do you usually keep doing it or do you find yourself eventually going in the direction you want to go?

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” -Albert Schweitzer

Thanks for stopping by!

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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!

Jewelry Humor

It’s a drizzly day where I am for what I think is the third or fourth day (at least) in a week, so I thought some jewelry humor would be a nice change.
I found this on a local jewelry shop’s Facebook page and I just had to share it with you. I thought this was great.

I hope you have a wonderful day whether you’re in the drizzle like I am or enjoying the sunshine elsewhere.

Thanks for stopping by!

Dreaming…

I hope you all had a relaxing holiday! I can’t believe we have now passed Labor Day…

 

As I look back over this past summer, I am trying to focus on the things I accomplished and not worry about the things I did not accomplished. That can be a challenge. For those of you who follow me regularly, you know I’m a big fan of learning from events in life. It’s basically the concept of finding something positive in every situation.

 

Something I learned this summer is if you want something badly enough, you can usually accomplish it as long as you are physically able and willing to put a little time, effort, and (possibly) money into it. Oh…and patience. Patience is important.

 

In my business, I have decided to move forward with some things that once seemed like dreams. I was concerned about spending the money, but I believe it will pay off in the long run. I will never know if they will work or not unless I try.

 

I have wanted a white canopy (EZ-UP) for some time now. This is considered a standard for craft shows and is often required for higher-end juried shows. I finally went out and purchased one yesterday. I was going to put it off until this winter or next spring, but my husband reminded me about end-of-season sales and the fact that it will be harder to find a canopy after cookout season is over.

 

Yesterday I also decided to purchase some silver to make the all-silver jewelry I’ve been dreaming about for months. Again, I was concerned about spending the money, but I think the timing was best. I have been watching silver prices very closely for the past few months and I think I’d be investing more money into it if I waited much longer. In July, silver was around $26 per ounce. Last week, it was around $30 per ounce. Yesterday, it was around $32 per ounce. Awhile back it was $40 per ounce and it did come back down, but they don’t think that will happen again for a long time, if ever.

 

Please note, this silver isn’t just any silver. It’s USA-made silver, which goes with another one of my dreams. As I have previously written, I love the idea of USA-made items created with USA-made components. It’s going to be awhile until I get my entire jewelry line to that point, but I have to start somewhere, so why not now?

 

The other dream I started to aim for is the completion of a certification I’m working on. I have been working on achieving my Accredited Jewelry Professional (AJP) certification through the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) for a little over a year now. It’s a 3-course certification and I finally started the third and final course yesterday. While this certification might not pay off for me right away, I think it will pay off in the long run. If nothing else, it is building my understanding of metals, gemstones, and the jewelry industry.

 

Speaking of my jewelry-making dreams, I felt inspired by an image I saw yesterday and I decided to make a pair of earrings based on that inspiration. I can’t remember what the design I saw was, but I made some changes and this is what I ended up with:

What do you think? I love them! These are created with sterling silver and cultured freshwater pearls. They are not listed on Etsy yet, but they should be up soon. I will let you know when I post them!

 

So with a little bit of patience, a little bit of determination, and a little bit of money I have accomplished one of my business dreams and started on two more. As hard as it is for me to remember, if I get knocked down when I’m in the heat of the fight, I must get up, brush off the dirt, and move forward.

 

Thanks for stopping by!

Latest and Greatest in Wire

If you follow my blog regularly, you know I’m aiming toward creating more solid metal jewelry for my collection. Part of this incorporates the use of sterling silver wire. I have felt inspired to play with some wire lately and came up with a few pairs of simply elegant earrings. Please excuse me while I show them off…

 

This pair was created after I created a pair just like them on a whim as a gift. After I gave the first pair away, I realized I had not taken a photo of them! I had to make another pair just so I could get a photo…and also because I think they are really pretty! The thin lines lengthen the face and the delicate design goes perfectly with anything and on anyone!

 

If you are interested in this pair of earrings, they can be found here: Sterling Silver Curved Wire Earrings

 

The next pair I created by accident. I was hoping for a completely different design than what I ended up with and I’m glad they worked out the way they did. The initial creation left me with two earrings that did not look similar enough for my liking, so I cut parts off, hammered other parts for texture, bent and curled and the result is as follows:

I wish I could show these in motion. They move with such grace!  Again, the solid silver design allows these earrings to go anywhere.

 

If you are interested in this pair of earrings, they can be found here: Sterling Silver Semi-Circle Earrings

 

This last pair was just for fun. I had an idea and ran with it; luckily, it turned out nicely. At first glance, these earrings are a bit funky, but I think you could really dress them up or wear them for a day at the mall. The sleek silver lines give them a simple elegance with a modern twist.

If you are interested in this pair of earrings, they can be found here: Sterling Silver Zigzag Earrings

It’s funny how you can take something as simple as a single strand of wire and come up with something that has such a “wow” effect. I really enjoyed making these, and I think I’m on the right track as I am moving forward with doing more solid metal designs.
Have you let your imagination run wild lately? Go ahead, release your creativity. It might give you a boost of confidence or least give you a few moments of fun. Just try something new!

Thanks for stopping by!