Thursday, December 30, 2010

Peering ahead: Not-Resolutions for 2011

I really don't like the practice of making New Year's resolutions.

They're too big, usually made with a lot of self-directed frustration, and mostly expected to fail--but to cause angst and guilt when they fail. Bleh.

So why would I write a post about 2011 now, when people are making New Year's resolutions next and right? Well, I've got so many ideas in my head for gently shifting my life and my art in a better direction, and I'm tired of keeping them in. But these aren't resolutions, I swear.

I've got a redesign in my head for want to turn the site inside-out. Rather than a portfolio site with a blog inside one section, I want the blog to be the focus, with a portfolio off to the side. I'm hoping to install Wordpress or something similar. It'll be awesome. I'm planning this because I think that I'll want to talk more about what I'm working on. I've got a phone that takes better pictures now, so showing as well as telling is going to be even easier.

In the past few months, I've been working on the whole work/art/life-balance thing. And while I'm not there yet, I can see a better sleep schedule--which means a better work schedule--which means more sanity and time for working with metal--shaping up on the horizon. I can't wait to get there :)

I've found a bunch of convention art shows and vending rooms to bring shiny things to during the first few months of 2011. And if I can get through my hangups about producing shiny things "just" to sell them--if I can be OK making things using skills I'm already comfortable using, in styles I know look good, rather than holding myself to the expectation to make something new at every turn--I think I'll be able to bring really amazing, beautiful artifacts to a lot of people. This is simultaneously scary and exciting, but I'm focusing on the exciting for now!

One of the most exciting things I'm looking forward to working on this upcoming month is making jewelry themed around the collection "Steam-Powered", a lesbian steampunk anthology coming out at the end of January! I have a digital ARC and it's full of awesome stories of copper and quartz and romance :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Not finishing NaNoCraftMo

Unfortunately, I got sick with a fever and a cold after I was already behind on my self-imposed goal--there's no way I can catch up now that November's almost over. I'm going to just move on now--to making awesome stuff, but without worrying about how what I make fits into my categories and goals! It sounds kind of freeing, actually :) I can't wait to play with foldforming more.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

November, Week 2

Well, here's my NaNoCraftMo progress so far: 5 pairs of foldformed earrings.
"Fell from the stars and shattered"
(You can see pictures of the rest of the pairs here on Flickr.)
At 11/30 days, I'm at 5/28 pieces, and haven't done any "reach" ones yet... so I'm a bit behind. But I can feel my creative drive charging up, and I'm hoping to sprint ahead soon!

In the meantime, I'm going to give you guys a tour of my workspace! It's a little crazy, but it's the perfect kind of space for me to work--everything's in arm's reach, and since I don't share the space with anybody, I always know where something is. It's certainly changed since I first set it up in April.

Here's an overview of the space, from the basement stairs:
You can see that there's a window for ventilation when I open it, and I've put in a bunch of lighting (very good for both morale and ability to see detailed bits of metal).

Starting at the rightmost part of the work area, here's my awesome old sewing machine:
I use this for making silk necklace cords and gift bags.

Next is the newest addition to the space, a rectangular table with storage space underneath:

The table surface is sometimes a workspace for light-duty stuff like wirework, and sometimes a place for photographing new things. Right now the components of my lightbox are not in use:

Moving to the left, here's the soldering area:
It's a very sturdy wooden table. The surface is protected from my torch by the combination of a metal tray and a fireproof ceramic tile. The crockpot is for warming a solution of vinegar and salt called a pickle, which is used to clean oxides and flux from recently-soldered pieces.

Next is the workbench:
The workbench was in the basement when my housemate bought the building--lucky for me! It's quite sturdy, and I do my hammering, drilling, stonesetting, and polishing here. Since this area has so many functions, it's the most cluttered area.

Here's a view of the drawers under the workbench:
You can see a little shelf with my beads, stones, and a few books, and sturdy wooden drawers above that. In theory, my hammers and pliers and other miscellaneous tools and supplies mostly belong in here.

But instead, they're usually found within arm's reach on my workbench instead :)

This tour is part of the Aspiring Metalsmiths blog carnival. Here are some other great workspace tours:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


I'm participating in NaNoCraftMo starting in just a few days! The idea is to do something with your craft that's akin to NaNoWriMo--something far-reaching and challenging. Setting a specific goal is up to the crafter, since different crafts work so differently. So I've put a lot of thought into my goal and come up with something that I think is ambitious, but doable if I work at it.

I am going to make a series of pieces themed around my as-yet-unnamed spacefaring alchemists universe. (Hopefully it'll have a name by the end of the month!)

My goal is to make 28 pieces, broken down by difficulty:
4 boundary-stretching journeyman pieces
8 moderately-difficult
16 either easy or prototype (pieces where I try a new technique--they still need to be functional/wearable and not scrap)

If I wind up making more difficult pieces and fewer easy ones, that would still count towards my goal; making fewer difficult pieces and more easy ones would not.

The numbers work out nicely to have a 1/2/4-piece weekly subgoal, and I'm planning to blog at least weekly about my progress. Wish me luck once November starts!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Exciting and new things

I've made a bunch of stuff lately that I'm proud of! Hooray! I had a bit of a lull, but I feel like I've gotten my mojo back now, which is always good.

Firebird pendant:
Final firebird pendant, a bit closer up
The idea for this all came to me in a flash on Saturday, and I ended up making all of the pendant part right away. Made the cord last night and tonight.

Something purple and shiny for myself:
Purple shiny mixed metals necklace for me
I've since re-hung this from a purple silk cord, since the neckwire was a bit small for me and the silk looks nicer. This is using that new-to-me style of stonesetting. I only wish I'd cut the border of the copper circle with some kind of interesting pattern or something.

Some silver pendants:
Triskelion pendant with garnet Abstract ammonite with amber
These are notable because I made some things in silver without freaking out about OMG, using SILVER. It was good to just plan them out and execute them. Setting 6mm stones is not my favorite thing, though. I'm hoping to set some bigger stones this upcoming week.

Tried a new-to-me technique involving molten metal!
Salt casting experiment
You put some scrap silver into a hollowed-out chunk of charred wood, and pour it onto salt. Texture ensues. I tried to solder it onto a ring, but it desoldered the ring in the process :( Maybe I can convince someone it's supposed to be split like this? (In reality I'll likely try to resolder it together..)

All of these things are destined for my table at StrowlerCon, with about a 50/50 chance of going in the Quincy store or in my etsy shop if they don't sell at the con.

A part of me wants to do even more elaborate, expensive things between now and then... and part of me is like "dude, you know nobody wants to spend more than like $10 on anything, ever, make tons and tons of the cheapest things possible from your current materials". I hope I have the time and energy to do some of both. I'll probably dig into my bead stash and make some quick things using techniques that are fairly boring to me but should make nice results--and then set some of my magnificent cabochons (rainbow obsidian! labradorite! amethyst!).

Sunday, June 20, 2010

I love having a sewing machine in my jewelry workspace

I was beginning to wonder what kind of packaging I could use at Mass Craft Market... the thought of scouring the local stationary shops for something both reasonably-priced and pretty was not appealing to me. Then I had an idea! I found some large art paper I had lying around, cut it into rectangles, and sewed them together to make purple shiny jewelry envelopes:

If you have any experience using a sewing machine, this is a straightforward project. Remember to keep the needle down when you're turning those 90-degree corners! I took to sewing a pile of them without trimming the threads, then working through the pile doing the trimming--it felt more efficient that way.

I made three sizes--one for earrings, one for pendants, and one for more elaborate necklaces.

To close them when they have jewelry (and a business card) in them, I'll just fold the tops over and secure with tape or a cute sticker.

I like it when I can put my miscellaneous craft knowledge to good use like this. These bags say much more about me than something from a stationary store would have!

I also sewed silk necklace cords for some pendants I'm working on:

Gearing up for Mass Craft Market

My housemate theyellowhobbit and I are going to be sharing a table at Mass Craft Market next Sunday, June 27. I've been busy at work making new things! Some of them I'm keeping under wraps until the craft fair itself, but here's a preview of the kinds of things I have in the works:

I should have more hammered copper shawl pins, some with bezel-set stones:
2010-06-16 23.57.50.jpg

And I've figured out a new method of transferring the shape of gears onto copper:
2010-06-16 23.56.45.jpg

If you're in the Boston area, come check out Mass Craft Market next weekend!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

New tools and new pieces

The MIT Radio Society hosts a monthly swapfest, so I went there this morning to see if I could find any useful metalworking tools. And indeed I did!

My swapfest haul

These tools will be a lot of help to me in forming and texturing metal. And I got them for a great price. It was definitely a worthwhile trip!

I've also finished some more pieces and listed them in the etsy shop, including something shiny and purple (finally!)

Shawl pin with amethyst

Monday, April 12, 2010

Things made in my very own studio!

Hair stick/shawl pin, given as a gift (may make an appearance in the shop as a "one much like this can be made to order" item (yes the gift recipient is ok with it :) ))
The first post earrings I've ever made (currently in the etsy shop)
Earrings made this evening, claimed by Susannah (potentially also going to be a made-to-order Etsy listing)
Made in the basement this evening

I'm so so so excited to be making things in my own space!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

New shiny workspace

Assembled workspace!

I've switched from renting studio space to working in my basement with my own tools! I'm so excited to have my space right downstairs from me. Today I made a pair of earrings, and it went very smoothly.

I'm planning for more regular updates to this blog as I work on new stuff downstairs. Definitely more process photos and descriptions of how I make the things I make. I have fresh batteries in my camera and everything. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

(Mostly) successful time at Arisia!

I say "mostly" because I think I may have come away from the weekend with some kind of con crud (probably a cold). But I did better than I'd expected at the art show, and then made another sale on Etsy as a result of someone viewing my work at the con. I'm planning on transitioning from renting studio space to working in my own basement during the month of February; making these sales means that I'll be able to afford more tools of my own sooner, and hopefully there won't be much downtime while I piece together a metalsmithing setup of my own! This weekend I'm hoping to do at least a preliminary clean of the basement workbench area. I'm planning on posting "workspace in progress" photos as I collect tools and organize my materials so that readers can get a glimpse into how and where I work.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


I'm not entirely sure how to articulate this, but biking home from metalsmithing in the freezing cold last night made me feel fantastically alive.

Carnelian flower I'm learning more and more metalsmithing techniques and concepts and gaining confidence in my abilities to execute them; I'm making things that I see as a fusion of the metalsmithing world and the assembly jewelry I was working on before; watching copper glow bright red from my torch and shift on the flowing solder is a pure, elemental rush. Likewise, I'm immensely proud of myself for bicycling in such extreme cold, and surprised and delighted at the muscles that can suddenly Do The Right Thing when I want them to. After only walking and taking public transit for so long, a bike really gives me a new feeling of freedom-of-place. And it's fun to go so fast!My bike (now with panniers)

I know that at some point my rate of metals-related learning will stop accelerating, my bicycling-related fitness improvements will plateau. But I hope that I'll retain the feeling of hungrily racing forwards, able to smoothly and competently go wherever I can imagine.

I'll be at the Arisia art show this weekend! I can't wait :)