Monday, April 3, 2017

Offering Vessels, Alter Bowls........something a little different

by Staci Louise Smith

It has been a long time since any of us have blogged on here.  This year has been taxing for many of us, and life is just busier with more important things at the moment (family always comes first!!!).  

I have taken some time this year to play and lightend up my schedule.  I am not doing spring and summer shows, so that I have time to work on other things and spend more time with the family. 

I took some time on our beautiful spring day yesterday to get out my ceramic clay.  

I have been wanting to make something bigger than beads with my  clay, so I thought I would make offering bowls.  I don't do anything formal as far as alters or offerings, but I do have little "alters" to nature of sorts all over my house.  I love little dishes full of natures treasures in all parts of my home.

This one is a polymer clay dish I made, on top of a huge slab of petrified wood.  In it are bones and skulls that my youngest son has collected on our travels.

This bowl is a piece of natural driftwood, to which I added an awesome stone that is very round, and a piece of arragonite.

This cool bowl is actually a rock I found in upstate PA.  It has a natural concave shape, as if it were part of a large hollow form.  Inside is little sea treasures we have found in NJ, including the horse tooth.

I made this large ceramic bowl with Kristie the owner of Artisan Clay.  (so many years ago.......)  It has since been filled with my favorite beach treasures.  (are you beginning to see why I need more bowls?)

I have also been collecting some really cool crystals, and would like a place to show them off.  

This specimen is tourmalated quartz (aka rutilated quartz).  It is one of my favorite stones to use in jewlery.  So it was REALLY cool to see this- which is tourmaline, in the middle of being encrusted into the quartz.  I am so fascinated by stones.

This little guy is a most heavenly blue- and its called celestitie.

And how could I resist this labradorite?
(I have a rock shop near me, its not good

Anyhow, I had so much fun making bowls yesterday, I plan to do another batch today.  I cannot wait until these are dry and can be fired.  I plan to try some different things on the surface too, since I haven't gotten into glazing my pottery (yet)

I put little legs on some of the bowls, because I really like how it looks.  It lifts up whatever you want to display on it.

I made a couple of larger pieces, like this one.  I didn't add any feet to them, and I think I love the feel of them the best.  They turned out very organic.

I did some stamping on some as well, and then went in with hand embellishing them further.

 You can see how they are raised up just a bit.  I really hope it all fires well.  Been a long time since I did ceramics.  I think it's like riding a bike though.................

Of course, this is my favorite.  I plan to keep it, but I will make more similar bowls today.  I love the organic feel of it.  I used a cool shell and fossil to make the imprints, and then added my own touch with the spiral center and designs around the edges.  
I simply cannot resist things that look as if they were dug up from the earth.  There is something about a piece with history that gets me every time.

I cannot express how fun it is to dabble in a new medium now and again.  My daughter joined me and she made some bowls too.  It has been equally wonderful to be able to spend so much more time with the kids.  I really missed that and didn't realized how much I worked until I didn't.  I still need to keep $$ coming in though, so, I am still producing, and some of these will be for sale as well.  So stay tuned.  You can follow my facebook page for updates to see when they are available.

Do you have "collections" of items around your home?  Do you arrange your art and findings into little alters in your home?  Share your hoards of collections with us on the Love My Art Jewelry Facebook!!! page!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Handmade Beads has been quite some time since I have blogged here! It feels good to be back! :)

Personally, I have an affinity towards handmade beads - all mediums. I don't know about you, but I cannot count the number of "subscribed lists" I have signed up for to arrive in my email inbox, but I do at least glance at each and every "blog type" email that pops up in my mailbox feed -- always on the lookout for inspiration.. One of my favorite's is the Interweave Blog.

A couple of weeks ago, Tammy Jones had a post related to 1-hour rings.  In this post was a quick, down and dirty tutorial to make a sterling silver ring that resembled bamboo (if interested, here is the link to that blog post). The tutorial (by artist Elizabeth Ann Tokoly) starts with a sterling silver ring already soldered and formed. After reading through the steps involved, I felt a thick gauge wire would work best - so I grabbed 6 gauge.

I will say, the making of this ring took me 1 hour and 45 minutes - but that included forming the ring from such heavy stock - I had to anneal the metal several times just to get it formed for soldering. And then anneal several more times AFTER the soldering to get it round and to the correct size (why didn't I just grab 8 gauge?) :) Also, it is a bit cumbersome to saw the score lines around the ring - but it can be done.

 Anyway, it is a COOL ring, which I have gifted to a friend. (Forgive the picture quality - I just took a quick picture for reference purposes only).

This technique would be AWESOME for a bangle - which I will try in the future. In the meantime, I thought I would try making a little bead using this technique. For this bead, I grabbed some thick-walled sterling tubing.

I roughly measured the bead length to 3/4".

Cut the tubing to size using my tube cutting jig and jeweler's saw.

I made two little "end caps" for the bead by using my disc cutter and some scrap silver sheet - it's 18 gauge sheet, so it is thick.

I used medium silver solder paste to attach the first end cap to the tube - this is my set up.

After pickling - you can see that the excess overhang of the disc needs filing.

I used my ring clamp to stabilize the bead against my bench pin while I quickly filed away the excess silver.

The picture below is a bit blurry, but I filed the disc / end cap to be flush with the tubing.

Never EVER solder a hollow bead without first making a hole to allow steam to escape when soldering. Though I have not done it myself, I have read where nasty accidents can happen if the escape hole is not in place before closing up this hollow form. I simply put my bead in my vice and drilled a hole.

Second disc/end cap solder set up.

Pickled, then filed the second end cap / disc flush to the tubing/bead, and drilled the final hole.

Really hard to see in this picture, but I scored two parallel lines close to the ends of each bead, using my jeweler's saw - again using my ring clamp to hold the bead while sawing.

Now - this next step is the reason I used thick walled tubing. I used my tiny half round file to make four slight indentations around the middle of the bead.

I cleaned up the the bead with a pumice wheel on my flex shaft. (These are the pumice wheels I use).

Patina added (I use Midas Black Max - link here), buffed with steel wool, and tumbled. Liver of Sulfur works just as well, but Black Max is quicker and does not stink.  :) Always a plus!

One more tiny tip  (and of course, I forgot to take a picture). Before you tumble the bead, add the bead to a piece of wire (copper - it's cheap) and loop the ends. This will keep the shards of shot from getting stuck inside the bead while tumbling (this I have done...takes forever to release that shot!)

Now, this is not a perfect bead, but I rather like the organic look to this shape - would look great as a single bead on a bracelet, two beads for earrings, or even an entire chain if you have lots of time on your hands to create! Total time to make this bead for me (not including tumbling) was about 30 minutes.  So, while this technique is a bit time consuming, it is handmade and definitely not made in China! 

Anyway, the making of this bead was the bit of inspiration I need to kick off this brand new year. I wish you all a very Happy New Year!

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Drum-roll Please......

Happy Holidays!!! I hope each and every one of you had a lovely weekend filled with family, friends and fellowship. I bring you Holiday greetings from Ninita, our deaf pygmy marmoset. As you can see, she got just what she wanted...candy.

Now, on to the giveaway! As promised, I put all the names of those who left Christmas memory comments on my last week's post in a random name generator program (thank you Google). I want to thank all that shared a memory here, I loved reading each post. The holidays are such an emotional time...we all become little kids again. Thank you for your comments. AND NOW....The winner of my Beautiful Beast copper bangle is.....


Congratulations, Terry! I'll be tracking you down as soon as possible. Hope you like the Beast!

Thanks to all of our followers and supporters. I wish us all a fabulous new year full of creativity! See you next year!!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Ornaments and a Product Review

by Staci Louise Smith

Every year I make ornaments from polymer clay.  This year I was sorely behind.  I just couldn't figure out what I wanted to do.  Last year I made my usual styles into ornaments, and did a run of Blue Moons to commemorate the blue moon that occurred in December.

This year, nothing was coming to me.  I thought, how can I commemorate this year?  Its been quite a year, with the election and all the great singer songwriter poets we have lost.
And then it hit me.

I wanted to make some ornaments to embrace peace, love, and acceptance.  

First I decided to honor Leonard Cohen, and make something inspired by his song Anthem.  I love the line, "there is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in".  The other part of that inspiration was Karen's post that included a picture of this sculpture by Paige Bradley, which I LOVE.

So I decided to make a heart, with gold shimmer in the cracks, and wire wings.
I added the lyrics and dated them as well

Then I made some star ornaments, to honor David Bowie, aka Ziggy Stardust, aka Starman

On the back I wrote "turn and face the strange" because I think it really fits for every single day of our lives. They are also dated.

 I also wanted to make something to do with Peace.  This election has caused so much chaos.  So I made a new design, a peace sign, with wooden textured parts.  It was really fun to make.  On the back, trying to stick with lyrics, I wrote, "Imagine all the people living life in peace".

So, my ornaments are finally done and listed in my destash group. (How my destash group workds: just click that link, ask to join if you are not a member, and then claim items in comments.  I invoice you for them and ship)  
Better late then never, right?  (on top of the normal holiday rush and business, I have had sick kids.  I am so behind).

Anyhow...................since I made a new ornament, I had to make a mold for it!  Thus, the review portion of this blog....

I have been wanting to try that molding plastic, the one that you put in warm water and mold it.  I thought it may capture detail better, or yet, last longer then my typical two part silicone molds.

I purchased this brand, InstaMorph, from Amazon.
I followed the instructions carefully. 

I used water that was 150 degrees as directed and poured in some of the little white plastic balls.  They are supposed to congeal into one piece.

But they never lost their ball shape textures.  So I started again, because the cool thing is, you can re use this product over and over again

 I heated the water again, this time making it between 160-170 degrees

These looked a bit more transparent this time and congealed.

 So I smooshed them together and tried to make it as smooth as possible, but it was hard to get the ball texture out of them

I went ahead and covered my peace sign anyway, hoping that it would smooth out by applying pressure

 While that was setting, I tried again and went a tad hotter.  It did get much more moldable- however, the work time is quick, by the time it cools enough to handle it, and you begin to work it smooth, it begins to harden.

When the plastic was cool, I tried to remove my mold.  it stuck to the polymer a bit, and it did NOT make a smooth mold at all.  As you can see- it never lost that ball like texture- and the sample I did in polymer on the lower right side is terrible

 So, even though I think this is a cool product, and it is amazingly strong, not a fan of it for molds.  I will find a use for it, but it was way more trouble then it was worth.  I ended using my good old trust two part silicone molds.

I actually have an article in the current issue of Belle Armoire Jewelry on making molds with two part silicone.  
(I am also honored to be the Designer Collection in the current issue).  So grab it if you want to have a copy of my mold article- or take a peek at the issue because I was so happy with the pieces they picked to be showcased in the
Designer Collection (12 pages of my jewelry!  squeeee!).

You can pick up the current issue of Belle Armoire Jewelry here, or at some local art and craft stores as well as Barnes and Noble.

I know I haven't been blogging much lately, so I hope you don't mind that I crammed like 3 blogs into one!!!!

Christmas is in 3 days, and I know everyone is just mad busy!  I truly hope you enjoy your holiday, no matter what you celebrate, may it be filled with love, and family and friends, peace and wellness.  

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