Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Review

This has been a big year of ups and downs for Blue Piranha, and I'm looking to make next year even bigger and better. But though 2012 fell short of many of my expectations, it was a bit of a landmark in my career, so I thought I'd do a little recap of the highlights.

I started fabrication class again in January with one goal: bezels. Making them. Soldering them. Setting stones in them. The first few were a mess, but the learning curve was softer than I expected, and I went crazy making bezels for nearly every stone I owned.  :)

First stone-set piece sold: February. It was a pretty simple piece, with a stunning stone. A stone that taught me a big lesson: always, always, always double-check your fit once you've soldered the bezel to the back plate. Once I got this stone ready to set, I realized that the bezel somehow ended up too small and it wouldn't fit. A whole slew of shenanigans ensued to make this necklace happen. And some choice words were bandied about the studio...

I suspect it was the stone, and not my very simple setting, that sold the customer. But it will remain one of my fondest selling memories.

I teared up a little after the customer left (wearing her new pendant proudly, bless her), because I finally felt like I had arrived. It was as if I'd sold my first "real" jewelry creation.  :)

The next notable piece was this one:

A gorgeous Morgan Hill poppy jasper that I almost didn't part with. Something about how the whole design came together made me want to hoard it. Fortunately it was purchased by a good friend and I can see it often.  :)

I spent most of the year working my "clean and simple" designs. They sold regularly, but I felt like there wasn't quite enough to them. I experimented with a dark, oxidized contrast:

Which looks great in the photos, but was ultimately unsatisfactory to my eye. I haven't found an oxidizing chemical I'm completely happy with yet. The problem with these pieces lies in getting to that dark, consistent finish. It takes layers and layers of blackener applied to the piece to make this happen. Achieving this takes lots of time that could be better spent. I just don't have that kind of time (or patience).

I also like the idea of using the bail as a design element, and want to pursue that going forward. But I got sidetracked by another design development.  :)

In August, this happened:

Serendipity struck with using these tiny silver mosaics as accents, a design path I'm still happily exploring.

And then I went BIG:

Which was a whole other learning experience. I learned nearly as much about what not to do as what to do...but it making this piece sort of addicted me to the feel and heft of heavier pieces. Lately I've had no time to pursue any other major designs, but I am itching to sit down and start creating more!

And then, my first seriously irregular setting, Brett's shark tooth pendant:

Which made me feel like I'd never set a stone before. It was quite a battle for control, but finally I wrestled that tooth into submission. And the end result was well worth it.  :)

On task for 2013:

- more irregular stone setting

- making curved bezels for rings and bracelets

- making rings and cuff bracelets

- more statement designs (I have pages and pages in the sketchbook that are ready to jump out and be created)

2012 has been a great year of moving forard, and I can't wait to see what 2013 brings! I hope it's magical for the rest of you as well!  :)

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