Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Metal Clay and Jewelry

So I finally got my metal clay (it's actually called Art Clay 650).  I'm glad I waited until today to write about my experience with it because if I wrote about it on Friday night, I would have had a lot of bad things to say.  It dries up extremely fast so when I attempted to make my first piece of jewelry (a ring) I couldn't roll the clay out with my hands quick enough to get it wrapped around the ring sizer without seeing a zillion little cracks throughout it.  I gave up on that task after about 15 minutes because I noticed that even the pack of clay I had wrapped in cellophane was drying up almost too much to work with.  Instead of giving up on the idea of this clay that I had so highly built myself up on I forced myself to make a simple charm:


I was happy with this and LOVED the way the metal looks after it's fired with a torch (which is my favorite part of the process of creating things with this clay).  It's shiny and gorgeous and holds whatever texture was in the charm when it was just dried clay.  I have always loved sterling silver jewelry and am ecstatic that I found a way to create fine silver jewelry of my own (it's .999 whereas sterling is .925, so the fine silver is a purer form of it).

I then tried out the molding compound I recently purchased and created a turtle charm:


This was made from a mold of a gold turtle charm I had.  

These two projects kept me up until 2 am Friday night (which isn't the smartest thing to do when you have an 11 month old who doesn't normally sleep past 7:30).  Since I'm a mom, I'm used to working at almost 100% on not enough sleep so Saturday I made a pair of earrings:


And a calla lily that was a request from a friend in Louisiana:



I made it to bed around midnight that night.  

Sunday I decided to try again with the ring making.  The few video tutorials I found online and received with my kit showed people rolling the clay with two flat and clear acrylic boards.  I didn't have these and couldn't figure out where to buy them so I improvised by using two plastic picture frames you can get at Joann Fabric for a dollar.  This did the trick, I was able to roll the clay and get it long enough on my first try to wrap it around the ring sizer and make my first ever silver ring:


It's one of those two ideas I had when I blogged about this clay previously.  It's a 'breastfeeding reminder ring' and the arrow indicates which side I should nurse my baby on next.  I made one out of polymer clay (a much flimsier and in my opinion more childish looking clay) and it helped me a great deal until it broke after a few days.  THIS ring has been perfect and I never have a problem remembering to flip it over after each nursing session with Jane.  The silver seems much stronger than I anticipated after reading that fine silver isn't as strong as other metals.

I also made a couple of other charms on Sunday that I haven't taken photos of yet.

On Monday night I made two other breastfeeding reminder rings, one for a friend in Denver who is breastfeeding (Donna) and the other for a cousin in law who is just starting out with breastfeeding her baby girl (she's finally past the 6 week mark so I really hope it starts getting easier for her).  I posted all three on Etsy as custom orders for other people to purchase since I want to make sure I can create a new ring for whoever might purchase one with the correct size.  Sizing is actually pretty difficult because this clay shrinks about 10% while it's being fired.  

So the first 20 grams of art clay (I always feel like I'm talking about drugs when I talk about the amounts I can purchase of this stuff) got me a semi-decent amount of jewelry.  I ordered my second 20 grams this morning.  I really hope it makes it here before Labor Day Weekend!  Now I just need to stop neglecting my classes that also started this week!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Metal Clay...come on FedEx

The metal clay kit should be here tomorrow.  I'm nervous that I'm going to be horrible at it.

I have been obsessively pouring over youtube videos and I can't wait to get started.  I'm a little sad because I think I'm overestimating how much I can make with one 20 gram pack of clay.  The latest tutorial I watched said only about 5 or 6 charms.  So I want to make at least 3 rings with this pack and maybe one charm.  Ideally I would have liked to make more but with the clay costing $45 before shipping, per 20 gram pack, I don't see me being able to do too much with this stuff.  I'll have to save up.  None of the first things I'm making will even go up for sale on my shop so hopefully I can save a little clay for something small to sell.  With a little profit I'll feel less bad about buying another pack or two of the stuff.

I wish I could just win the lottery.  But don't we all?

On a plus note, a local coffee shop said I can put cards up somewhere in their business.  I'm hoping they'll actually let me display some jewelry too.  It's called JavaJoey and has great coffee.  It's one of the only places I like to go around here to spend some time just relaxing.


    http://www.javajoeydubois.com/

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Ideas for Precious Metal Clay

I have two really exciting (to me) ideas for when I receive this fine silver making kit

(which should be here on 8/26



..just in time to get a good weekend out of it before school starts).

I am trying to hold back on talking about these ideas until I can see how I actually do with them but I am terrible at holding back, so I'm at least going to talk about the second idea I came up with.  The first idea is simple and easy to talk about but I want to make one for a friend and not have her know exactly what it is before she gets it in the mail next week or the week after...and she's the only one who follows my blog.

So the SECOND idea...which I'm more psyched about because it took a lot more planning and spawned from me wanting this for myself anyway.

I'm going to find some molding clay at a local craft store.  With the molding clay I'm going to stick my beautiful baby's index finger in it and get a good impression of it.  Then I'll bake that batch of clay.  When it's hardened with Jane's finger print, I'll press more mold clay again so I have her impression almost as if she's touching the silver clay (bake it again) and then I'll press that onto the silver clay.  I can easily just put her actual index finger on the silver clay but I want to see how this works considering I hope to be doing this over Etsy and I can't very well drive out to Oklahoma to get someone's baby's fingerprint...um..if anyone has any better ideas of getting an impression into the clay please let me know. Because after a lot of thinking, this is the best I could come up with so far.

If you search for this on Etsy you will see that this has been done before.  A lot.  But my idea is to then make the finger print the back of the charm (they're meaningful and precious but not very pretty).  The front will have a raised up fun design, possibly with the child's initial in the center and off to the bottom right of the circular charm will be the child's birthstone (synthetic because only the lab created gems can withstand the torching I'll be putting them through while turning the silver clay into a real silver charm).

I can't wait to do this simply because I want one of my own so I can have Jane's fingerprint around my neck.  That will be the one I'll post on Etsy so people see what they're going to get but with their own child's fingerprint and birthstone.

I'm going to get the birthstones from Fire Mountain Gems:


They are the only seller that I could find a chart and a choice of synthetic for each month.  Apparently I'm not supposed to be able to torch Emeralds though, even if they are synthetic, so I'll have to figure something else out for that month.

Okay, I've chased my baby around enough trying to prevent her from eating every piece of dried leaf she finds on the floor...time to go play some games with her!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Weather.

I requested today off from work since everyone has been vacationing and I was dying of jealousy.  My plan: take the baby to the daycare, sit and read, pump around 11:30 then head to the pool for the rest of the day.  Today started out beautiful, not a cloud in the sky.  Now, of course, we have a thunderstorm almost here and a whole bunch of them apparently popping up around 2 pm.  All week they were just calling for scattered storms today with only 30% chances.

I love my child with my entire heart and then some but I just wanted an afternoon to relax by the pool, shut my eyes, enjoy the warm summer weather, etc.  It's not happening.  And my husband works constantly and a little bit here and there on each weekend so he's probably not going to be much help in watching the baby during the day tomorrow (when the weather is supposed to be nice).  I didn't think I'd mind so much if it rained today and I didn't get this wish, but it turns out, I mind very much.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Precious Metal Clay

I am ecstatic.  Tonight I ordered this kit:

http://www.firemountaingems.com/details.asp?PN=H203256TL


Unfortunately, I ordered it from Amazon, where for some unknown reason it is $40 more expensive than it is on Fire Mountain Gems and about $11 more in shipping (I looked on the Fire Mountain Gems site and couldn't find it until after I ordered it on Amazon).

Either way, I'm going to try and return it to the seller on Amazon to get it at the lower price.  I'm hoping the seller responds to my numerous emails and phone calls and either reduces their price or cancels the order.  

I couldn't believe there was actually a clay that could be fired with a torch and turned into a silver charm/ring/whatever my heart desires.  It's made up of a substance that creates the clay consistency and then after being brought under a great amount of heat the substance melts away and the silver fuses leaving just pure precious metal.  I can even use 22 karat gold.  

It can be polished and have lab created gems added to it (natural stones break from the heat but I assume I can add them if I glue them after the product is fired and cooled).  

Like I've said before, with school starting in less than two weeks I fear I won't get to allot much free time to making jewelry but I am trying not to worry too much about that.

One of the things I feared when I was considering making my own sterling charms/rings was that I have NO clue how to work with real metal.  There would be sawing and soldering and other scary sounding procedures that I have no experience with other than admiring finished pieces.  But with clay I feel extremely experienced.  In high school I had an addiction to making things out of Sculpey (http://www.sculpey.com/).  It doesn't really fit the style of jewelry I'm going for now, which is why I haven't worked with it since I was younger, but I used it for years and have a lot of experience with molding small things out of clay.

So as you can see, I'm pretty excited.  Now comes the compulsive tracking of this kit's shipping status.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Another down time.

So I never really considered how much more vulnerable I would become by 'putting myself out there' so to speak with this Etsy business.  I constantly over think every piece of jewelry I post and then I am constantly personalizing every day that nothing sells (which, if you check out my shop, you'll see is pretty much every day).  When school starts my mind will be more occupied but I'm not looking forward to that. 

I feel like I'm not really looking forward to anything at the moment.  Maybe it's because my baby girl is turning 1 a month from today...I am sad that this year went by so quick (but obviously ecstatic that my baby girl is becoming a little lady).  Maybe it's because I only have two more years in this area before my military husband changes locations.  Or maybe it's just PMS.

Who knows...

Another pair of earrings coming up soon.  I plan on trying to bunch beads together with sterling wire...I'm hoping it goes well.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Babies and Jewelry

Making jewelry with a baby who can crawl is definitely a challenge.  I baby proof the living room (including a quick vacuuming because she has incredibly good eyes and a weird desire to eat every little thing she finds on the floor), put the baby on the floor (with toys scattered around) then sit down and start working on a bracelet (the one I posted today, which was a tedious project that would take a little over an hour....IF I was dedicating the entire hour to it).

I swear, every five minutes this baby somehow manages to find her way into every area of the room I would rather she not go.  One second she's in the middle of the floor chewing on a board book, the next she's in the crack between the bouncy seat and a chair chewing on my breast pump.  How the hell did she get over there?  And she doesn't even actually crawl.  She can get up on all fours but she prefers to drag herself along with her arms (so she's really not that fast).

So needless to say, the bracelet, posting the bracelet on etsy, and writing this blogpost have all had several postponements in order to save the baby from whatever potentially dangerous situation she has so eagerly gotten herself into.

Without further ado, here's the bracelet:

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Another Few Weeks, of confidence and time.

I had my first sale in three weeks yesterday.  A pair of earrings sold in less than twelve hours! (thanks to a coworker!)  It felt really nice to have a bit of confidence again.  Last night I made a necklace out of light and dark blue dyed hemp.  The charm it connects to is a sterling silver twirled up in almost a disc of sterling silver (similar to the earrings I made that sold so quickly http://www.etsy.com/transaction/55057015).  There is also just a solid navy blue glass swarovski hanging bead next to the sterling wire charm and they connect with a toggle clasp (so the necklace itself connects in the front as part of the decorative charm, instead of at the back of the neck).  Whenever I decide to either post it on etsy or do something with it, I'll post a photo of it.  I was really disappointed in the outcome but it took almost an hour to finish it and my idea of what it would look like did not, unfortunately, become a reality.  Maybe tonight I'll take the two charms off the toggle and make it just a regular necklace with the charms just hanging on the hemp cord and the toggle connected in the back as it normally would.  That would be a simple solution.  Then I might actually keep this necklace :) (not that I need anymore necklaces).

In other news, I start school again in 3 weeks.  I'm a half time graduate student at Clarion University in their online program for Master's in Library Science.  I really enjoy my classes every semester but I have such a limited amount of time that I can't help but stress over the fact that I'm starting again so soon.  This will be my 3rd official semester (should be my 4th, but I took a medical withdrawal the semester my baby was born).  I can not wait to have the degree.  But I have another year and a half to go, I think.  I'm confident that it will definitely be worth the stress and lack of time.

Update: I fixed up the necklace and am keeping it for myself :)