has it really been 4 years?

Wow-  It didn't seem like that long.

Sometime not long after that last entry, I just "fell" and couldn't get up again.  Coinciding with an outrageous bout of depression, and not coincidentally, returning to full-time work outside the home, I just lost my creative mojo.

I remember giving myself permission to not worry about it- and I spent my down time pretty much reading.  The girls were a lot littler 4 years ago- my baby would have been only 3 so I guess that had something to do with it too. 

My workspace played a part too- I had set up a corner of the basement/garage for my "workshop" but really every time I tried to get down there it was either too cold, or a small person wanted to "help".  It's all a bit of a blur but I gave it up as a bad joke.

Fast forward about 2 years.  I started looking at online art classes again- I found the Will Kemp Art School and did his basic drawing course, and a couple of his acrylic painting courses.  Drawing and painting were off-limits to me psychologically til then, thanks to my upbringing (another post for another day, maybe).  I was pleased and surprised to discover that while I wasn't what you'd call TALENTED- I could learn and improve, like anyone else.  With the help of the Wet Canvas community forums I have done a couple of acrylic paintings that even I liked enough to frame and hang.

That was probably over a year ago.  Again, lack of workspace, lack of just fell by the wayside.

Recently, I was googling to see if Stephanie Lee had written a follow-up to Semiprecious Salvage, one of the most inspiring art books I have ever seen.  Amazon had her new Plaster Studio book.  I downloaded it and couldn't wait to try!  It's a good book but me being me, I needed to SEE STUFF DONE to really get it.  BEHOLD THE EBOOK- in this case not an ebook as in Kindle ebook, but a whole other thing- an online workshop with step by step videos and things.  It's fabulous and worth every cent.

This is getting long- suffice it to say that the techniques in this book/workshop filled the gap for several ideas I've had for a while but didn't have the means to execute.  I'll fill in the blanks in future posts.

Best of all, I rearranged available space in the main area of the house and came up with a viable workspace for myself!  Hopefully this will be the first post of many, as I get my legs back and eventually get my Etsy shop back up and running too.



The Rules.

I wanted to share this: found it on Boing Boing I think a couple of years ago, and I love it.  

Today Rule 6  and Rule 4 are keeping me from kicking something!


dichroic glass / sterling silver forged earrings

These little earrings are slightly asymmetrical and 'fraternal' in their pair-ness.  Hammered 925 sterling silver with bezel set dichroic fused glass cabochons.  Ear wires 925 sterling.

I like the hammer marks- they are a lot less noticeable in real life, but I do like them.



Book report: Beyond the Bead

When I fell down the jewelry-making rabbit hole, it was with a specific series of projects in mind.  How to bring the idea into reality was beyond me.  I've been lucky, because in the quest to find methods that might work, I've gotten to dabble in a bunch of different mixed-media techniques that have previously been completely unknown to me.  The need to dabble has given me permission to acquire quite a few new guidebooks (what?!  It has!) to this unfamiliar terrain.  'Beyond the Bead' by Margot Potter was one of the first- a gift from a friend (who may not want to be publically associated with anything I've created recently!).

Subtitled "Making Jewelry with Unexpected Finds", this isn't really a book about incorporating found objects into your art, so much as about how to use everyday art and scrapbooking supplies in unexpected ways.  If it's found objects you love, I'd be heading for "Semiprecious Salvage" by Stephanie Lee or "Amulets and Talismans" By Robert Dancik; or Michael de Meng's "Secrets of Rusty Things" if you want to make more sculptural pieces (I'm going to try to write each of these great books up in coming weeks).  That said- "Beyond the Bead" is an inspiring cookbook for using objects you find in your existing craft and ephemera stashes.

Many of the projects in "Beyond the Bead" use materials from the Ranger product line.  Normally I'd find this product placement offputting, but you can substitute generic equivalents in most cases (things like glitter or epoxy resin) , and in fact I've enjoyed learning about some of the fun branded products that I guess the scrapbookers were keeping secret all this time.  Alcohol inks, for example!  Awe. Some. And UTEE?  Pretty cool stuff.

So, let's look inside.  The book kicks off with the standard section on basic techniques that most bead-jewelry books seem to have. Wire loops, ear wires conditioning polymer clay, crimping, jump ring wrangling, using a drill.

The body of 'Beyond the Bead' is divided into sections, based on the technique taught by the projects. 

First, we have glass.  A microscope slide pendant from an old sewing pattern graphic; embossing onto glass, etching glass, soldering a frame onto a glass pendant, and using archival ink as a resist to alcohol ink (love it!). 

Summarised like that you can see what is great about this book- techniques.  There are 4 projects there that could be followed exactly- but better are the infinite combinations you can come up with yourself!

The section on plastic covers shrinky-dinks (!); the fact that alcohol inks can be used to paint on plastic baubles;  those plastic domino blanks as a base for a collaged pendant; and molding your own plastic beads out of UTEE from an original (You could use polymer clay for the mold and resin or more polymer clay for the bead, too).

plastic domino pendantPaper images are covered in the sections on ephemera and digital imagery- several projects illustrate ways to incorporate words, photographs, numbers into your art.

There's a section specifically on using your scrapbooking stash- my favourite project is in here, the faux enamel earrings and pendant.  Since I don't have any scrapbooking stash to raid, I'm going to have to go pick up a few things, I think.

In clay, there are three nice polymer clay projects, each technique again adaptable to many other applications.  I had never even heard of paper clay- but using it to make a lightweight replica of a heavy metal original to then be incorporated into jewelry is really intriguing.  I also really like this little polymer clay project, which uses several techniques I would not have thought to put together to get the look:

The final chapter is on metal, and shows several ways to use  metal blanks, hardware store finds, wire and specialist items like sticky-backed copper foil sheets (wish I had some of that) to make jewelry.  The "alchemy" bracelet is my favourite from this section- and alcohol inks combined with metal is really interesting to me in general.

copper foil/alcohol inks- 'alchemy' bracelet

'Beyond the Bead' is a book I'd recommend if you are new to mixed-media, like me.  The projects themselves may or may not be to your taste, but the list of basic techniques that you can take away from this book is really impressive and quite useful.  I've had this book for months, and keep returning to browse it again and again.


Part 3 etching tutorial: resources

I originally offered to post "all the resources" for etching- but honestly that seems a bit silly now.

Stephanie Lee's tutorial, which got me interested in etching.

Articles from the Ganoskin archive which are written by serious, very knowledgeable people.

From the Etsy Metal street team nice detailed tutorial.

from I read this early on.

There are loads of tutorials out there- if one of these doesn't work for you, let me google it for you!.



Stephanie Lee's "Semiprecious Salvage" covers etching- but I have never gotten her paper-acetone-transfer to work.  I hope to one day because it would be so much easier!  This is a fab book, no matter what.  Because this book really focuses on working with base metals, it's more relevant to this tutorial than a lot of other material that more or less sneers at working with anything less than sterling silver.

Tim McCreight's "Complete Metalsmith"  touches on etching copper, brass etc.