Tuesday, June 26, 2012

In the Works

It's late...I've been in the studio nearly twelve hours today. The husband is traveling so I took advantage of the extra time...

And I am headed upstairs to some ibuprofen, a heating pad, and some sleep...but I am so excited about some of the new pieces that I couldn't wait to give you a quick look, even though they're not finished yet.

An asymmetrical stone that looked like it needed an asymmetrical setting. I added a wire embellishment and drilled a hole. Care to guess what stone is going in here? It's one of my regulars, if that helps.  :)

Little more complex, this one...as you'll hopefully see later in the week. Also a little asymmetrical with some embellishments and it, too, will house one of my go-to stones.  :)

Now, off to bed!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Roller Coaster..woo hoo hoo :)

I spent Wednesday working in my studio, beginning the game plan for the four day, Michigan show next month. I just found out that I will be exhibiting (I had been on the wait list), and I'm feeling simultaneously excited and maybe a little panicked. I need a lot of inventory. The first three days the show is open from 10-9 (uh, YEAH, you read that right) and the last day, 10-6. It's grueling and I need to have quite a bit of jewelry. So I hit the bench hard. My plan is to make the "tough" stuff - cab work and one of a kinds - early on, then switch to the less demanding items as the show date gets closer. Also, I am planning to use July and August to revamp my design aesthetic and push myself more to create more exciting jewelry...not that what I'm doing now isn't exciting. But I am really wanting to create some fabulous metalworked items.

So I spent seven hours in the studio Wednesday, ruined two pieces, redid one, and one was redone on Thursday. Right now I have a total of two earring designs and three pendant designs. Two of the pendants are not finished yet - no bails, no embellishments, and one earring had to be remade. It doesn't seem like quite enough...they all have to be cleaned up and polished and the stones set as well...!

Somewhere deep inside me the panic rumbles. 

I would have worked for at least another hour on Wednesday but my hands, neck, and shoulders hurt. By 6 pm they hurt enough that I knew to stop for the night. And then I couldn't sleep. Just laid in bed, simultaneously exhilarated and exhausted. Wanting to push, wanting to run, but knowing it would have to wait.

Quick snap of the pieces from Wednesday. Upper row are two pendants. Bottom row are two earrings (not a pair, just one of each) and another pendant. 

Thursday was an afternoon full of appointments and errands, so I knocked off two hours worth of work in the early morning. Redid the ruined earring, added embellishments and a bail to one pendant. Now to figure out what embellishments I want on the third pendant. I had a plan, but as often seems to happen, it shifts in the time between sketch and fabrication work. And a new plan takes time to develop.

Here are the stones as well - upper level left to right, Pietersite and Larimar. Lower level Peruvian opal, ocean jasper, and a yummy boulder turquoise. 

Now it's Friday afternoon and I had jewelry class this morning (I signed up for another ten weeks at the Spruill Center, so I'm working through a few hours this afternoon. I really enjoy the jewelry classes but each week they cut one of my work days in half, so I have to manage my time well when I'm taking classes.

The week's schedule and studio time:

Monday - got home from Nashville at 1:30 a.m. Slept in until about nine, napped on the couch, dinked around the house a bit. NOT a work day. But after nearly three weeks straight of work and travel, I don't feel guilty about it.  :)

Tuesday - exercise. Unload car. Two loads of laundry. A couple of hours with the sketchbook and my stones, detailing out designs. Online research. Grocery store run.

Wednesday - exercise. Then all studio, all day.

Thursday - exercise. Two hours in studio. Ran errands and had meetings in afternoon. Dinner out with husband.

Friday - jewelry class. So far, almost two hours in studio and a few more to go before an evening appointment tonight.

Saturday...yeah, I'll probably be working a bit tomorrow. My husband has a BIG golf day planned, so I can steal a little of our "couple time" since he isn't here for it anyway. And I need the studio hours, as this week's hours so far are a measly 11.5 (probably 14 hours by the end of today). That's not much!

Life seems simultaneously exciting and a bit stressful. If I had time, I'd put some Yoga on the schedule (and yes, I know how kind of oxymoronic that last statement is).  :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Last weekend was a milestone for me. I exhibited at a festival in Nashville, TN....as a full-on metal girl. Though I've been fabricating / metalsmithing regularly since late 2009, I have been straddling the fence. I still brought my suede lariats, my less expensive bead-y creations, with me to festivals. But this was the first show I juried into with my new photos - all metalwork - and I felt obligated to show up with nothing less than...just my metal work.

(down and dirty cellphone shot of my booth in Nashville). I had a lot of room because the people to the right of me never showed and the people to left of me skedaddled on Saturday night.

And I learned a LOT from this:

- First, I barely had enough inventory. I have been selling through my previous cast work because I want to go in a new direction, but don't have new cast pieces yet. So I was pretty low on production stock. And because the stone-set items take longer, and I'd just been through the Virginia-Highlands show in Atlanta, and then off to Chicago to help a friend with her show..I was a bit light on my one of a kind pieces.

- Second, it was surprising and impressive to watch the customer behavior when I didn't have the lower-priced bead-y pieces...I ended up selling more of the higher priced work. At this festival I sold six cabochon items, where at previous shows this year I sold maybe one or two. It was like I'd bumped myself up in the customer's expectations and they weren't looking for lower priced items from me. And that felt very, very validating.

- Third, I'd better get my butt in gear because I want to do more of this going forward! But I think it will be impossible to do as many festivals as I do with only one of a kind pieces. The design time, the fabrication time, the finishing time all take longer. And there's only one me to get it all done (at least right now). So I need to work on new stone designs AND really get the new cast masters created and in the production process. My next show is a month away and that's not a lot of time!

Here are the pieces that sold this weekend:

The "To the Top" charoite pendant (to a gentleman who actually knew what charoite was just by looking at it) and this new piece:

of Russian lacquerwork. Both sold to the same customer and his wife. They loved the Russian connection.  :)


"Uncharted Island", a larimar pendant. To a sweet couple on Sunday.  ;)


My second pair of earrings, also Peruvian opal. I think I should have bought more of these earring-sized stones!

And both of my contrast-y pieces:

Peruvian opal (top) and turquoise

What I loved is that each person really connected with the pieces...even when they didn't know the story behind the designs. I have been wanting to do this kind of work since I began jewelry design...and it was very rewarding to feel like I am (finally!) getting there. Mwah! Nashville, you made my weekend! I look forward to seeing you all again next year!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Earrings...a Whole New World

My first pair of earrings was completed - and sold - last week. A pair of gorgeous Peruvian opals, I set them simply:

in a "rimless" bezel and a minimal twisted wire circle embellishment on top. Rimless means of course that there is no rim - the back plate and the bezel meet each other exactly with no overlap. Going rimless was a new process for me, but I rather liked it and this week I'm working on a couple of other rimless pieces. It makes sense for earrings as it's necessary to keep the weight down,  and they hang differently than pendants.

I love the color in these stones - such a gorgeous ocean blue shading into deep green at the bottom. And of course I had to texture the back:

with my new hammer.  Can you tell that I'm having fun??  :)