Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Color Conundrum by Karen McGovern

There is a wealth of information available online and in print about coloring metals.  Patinas come in every form and color, from simple homemade recipes (used cat litter and salt/vinegar potato chips—SERIOUSLY!) to specialized chemical and dye patinas (sculptnouveau.com).  The choices are endless.
Then there is heat patina, or flame painting, which is a wonderful way to easily color copper and brass with a torch.  I’ve been following a few threads online about this subject, and it seems that the Achilles heel regarding this method of coloring is how to seal and protect the metal AND retain the original intensity of color.  Hmmmm….again, 1000 suggestions out there but no definitive EUREKA solution.
Here’s my take.  There is no perfect answer or product out there that will forever keep heat colored copper and brass true.  Sorry.  The opinion I give here is based on working with copper for several years while living in South Florida.  Copper reacts very quickly when exposed to heat and humidity.  Natural patina, for me, is pretty easy to achieve simply by leaving copper sheet in my garage for a week or so.  I’ll get the beginning of some amazing verdigris greens courtesy of 98 degrees and 70% humidity.  We’ll come back to that later.

 A lovely flame colored copper cuff by Delia Stone.
Coloring copper with a torch is great and you get AMAZING purples, reds, pinks, blues and more.  There are several coatings available that are specially designed to seal and protect patinas, my favorite is Everbrite ProtectaClear.  The spray and dip versions offered are really wonderful and, in my experience, will not dull the colors instantly upon application like so many other coatings.  That is the biggest challenge—finding a product that doesn’t instantly change the colors of the metal the second you apply.  So, Everbrite works for me and I use it all the time.
BUT, and this is a BIG BUT, that is not the end solution.  No matter what, the colors in your heat patina designs are going to change over time.  PERIOD.  Why?  Because the design will be in contact with human skin and body temp, AND be exposed to heat and humidity in general. These things affect copper and brass no matter what you coat it with.  I have test driven many designs and actually have a simple way to decide if a design will hold its color.  I wear it on a hot day for several hours on my skin.  Brass holds torch color better, but the side that touches skin turns chocolate brown pretty quickly.  Even if coated several times.  Body temp affects metals, folks!  SCIENCE!  Copper changes even quicker.  Skin PH also plays a factor.  I have low PH, which is why I can’t wear perfume.  An hour on me and it all smells like cat pee.  SO LUCKY, RIGHT???  Copper and brass are affected by this as well.  Coating the metals helps tremendously for folks whose skin reacts badly to base metals, and I feel completely comfortable saying that the coatings I use will prevent dreaded green lines or rashes on sensitive skin, but I do not ever guarantee that heat patinas will remain the same color forever.  THEY USUALLY DON’T. 
Universal patinas by Sculpt Nouveau
 Which is why I use chemical patinas instead.  I have found that the line from Sculpt Nouveau is fantastic.  Endless color choices and formulas.  You can literally paint on metal like it is a canvas, and get intense and beautiful results that will hold up over time.  Check out their YouTube channel, full of ideas and tutorials.  Chemical patinas react with the metals and physically change the metal itself.  It’s not just a coating.  You still have to seal the metals, and Sculpt Nouveau has a line of sealers to go with their patinas.  I have found Everbrite works extremely well here and have decided to stick to that brand alone.  Dries quickly and will not change the colors as you spray.  I LOVE EVERBRITE!  Also, amazing customer service, shipping, everything.  In case you didn’t notice—I RECOMMEND THIS PRODUCT.

A copper cuff I made using layers of chemical patinas.  Sealed with Everbrite. 
A pendant created from a layer of painted patina copper on aluminum.
So, there are many factors to consider beyond initial sealing when working with flame colored metals.  Understanding how the metals react to heat and moisture over time is very important.  Because I have seen first-hand how heat colored metals change over time when worn next to skin, I no longer create torch colored designs for sale.  I use chemical patinas only.  For copper and brass cuffs, I color them first with liver of sulfur to get a nice, dark base.  Then go nuts with chemical color, let sit for 24 hours, then coat twice with Everbrite spray.  For those of you who live in cool, dry climates, you may argue that you have no problems with heat patina.  BUT, if you sell to a client living anywhere warm and moist I bet the design will be a different color in less than a year.
So, I recommend exploring chemical patinas.  They are fun, endless and offer so many choices and colors.  I am linking to an artist here that I think is one of the best I’ve come across coloring copper and brass with chemical patinas, SSD Jewelry.  AREN’T THESE CUFFS GORGEOUS????  They are pretty enough to EAT! 
As always, we’d love to see your creations and hear your opinions on the subject.  As I said before, there is no one answer and what I’ve printed here is based on my experiences alone.  Have you found the holy grail of sealants?  IF SO, PLEASE SHARE!!!!!!

Friday, August 15, 2014

On the go again.....

MaryAnn Carroll

I hate to say that I am in a rush because I feel like I am always saying that. I am writing quickly because we are heading out to set up for Pottery Fair in Cazenovia, NY this weekend.  My husband and I do shows together, which are mainly his pottery, but I include a small section of jewelry as well. For this particular show, I only include my ceramic jewelry.

In between getting ready for shows, we have been giving our house a much needed makeover. Fortunately, we have had my son and step daughter helping so we have been able to accomplish the updates in a much shorter period of time.


On a completely different note, I am also making some special jewelry to support the defense for Charles Erickson. Many of you 48 Hour and Dateline junkies may have heard the story of Ryan Ferguson and Charles Erickson. They were two 19 year old boys that were wrongly convicted in 2004 (a travesty, that is unfortunately, not uncommon in the United States) for the murder of Sports Editor Kent Heitholt. Ryan Ferguson is free and for reasons too complex to write about here, Charlie is not.

If you are interested in learning more, you can read more about this case by going to Free Charles Erickson on the web.

I am offering jewelry (currently earrings) for sale. All of the money collected will be donated to the defense of Charlie.

If you are interested in helping Charlie's defense, please visit http://artisanbeadsplus.com

Thank-you and I am sorry for any typos as I am writing this on my iPad while heading to set up for the show!http://artisanbeadsplus.com


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Pulling It Together

A week before Bead Fest, end of the summer here in the US (which means for most of us, kids are heading back to school), and there are always lots of things going on in everyday life to juggle.

I don't know about you, but when stress like this settles in, and my brain has no more room for one ounce of though - I am thankful for little things in technology that actually help pull things together through "social media" instead of spreading things thin and making one feel like "I give up. I have no time for figuring this out".

So here are two things that I think will be helpful:
1. If you have a shop on Etsy and are selling your work in a booth there, you can add your information HERE on their Etsy Local page:
Screen shot of Etsy Local Page for Bead Fest Philadelphia August 2014
If you want to check your "local" area for Etsy sellers and events, click HERE.
You can always add an event that you are participating in or join an event if someone else has already created it. It's a great marketing tool!

2. For those of you going to Bead Fest Philly Summer 2014 and you want to know who else from our handmade jewelry beading online community is going to go and possibly meet up with them to say Hi:

Hope to see you at Bead Fest in just about a week!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Bead Show Prep: The Madness

by Staci Louise Smith

It is that time of year again, Bead Fest is right around the corner.  I know I am not alone in this preparation hurricane.  If you make your own beads and components, and you are getting ready to do a big show.....now matter how much you plan, or prep ahead of time, you are making beads for weeks straight.  It is just how it is.

I love it and hate it.  I love the intense bead making, I love the last minute creativity that floods my brain, but I hate that my body doesn't always co-operate.  Oh well, this is 40.  I must listen to my body when it says NO MORE BEADS....lol

I have been snapping pictures, meaning to post, and share updates on how things are coming along, but I have hardly posted any at all.  So here is a glimpse into my world right now. (in no particular order, just to try to capture the chaos that is my home)

 antiqued bronze just rinsed on top, in liver of sulfur below
 kits being put together for class
a tray of bronze waiting for liver of sulfur
 my helper working off some debt!!! lol
 carved beads
 more carved beads
 organic metal clay shapes

black carved beads
 metal clay components for class
 class table stuff
 naked beads
 piles of junk
 sari ribbon
 sea glass for sale- drill bits and sea glass, and just sea glass packets
 figuring out the layout
sugar skulls riveted- still need a liver of sulfur bath and sealing
 the "still need to be riveted pile"

 the sound of a tumbler running non stop in my studio while the metal clay was beind made.  This double barrel tumbler from Harbor Freight totally saved me though- its awesome, and can hold an entire kiln load of bronze and copper in one shot.

So there you have it.  I am on track, so, hopefully all goes well and I complete everything in time.

Next phase is painting the polymer.  After they are done, its pricing and packing.  
 just a few to paint

Now, add all this to "three kids and end of the summer stuff, like Bible school, youth camp, and pre-school preparation" throw in some dental appointments and some asthma and allergy appointments, and I am going to be pretty busy.  Wish me luck, I can't wait to be there!

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