Still Getting my Mojo Back

It’s been a couple weeks since I got to light my torch and I’ve been blowing out the cobwebs since then. I made a set, posted it, got no love, got discouraged, rinse, repeat. Yeah, I’m not getting any love in the Facebook groups. Lots of hearts but no love, so to speak.

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Wanna buy me? No? Sigh.

I sold those hearts a couple weeks ago so I decided to make more hearts. They are loveless also.

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How about these? No? You are not alone.

In the midst of all these non sales, I totally forgot about Mother’s Day.  Luckily my sister reminded me in time to make some beads and get a necklace together because I think my mom already has a strawberry necklace.

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Mom’s new Jenny Elisabeth piece. Shhh.  Don’t tell.

So far, I haven’t done anything other than the hearts and strawberries  I’m still scared to use my fancy glass or big presses.  It’s cool though.  No pressure.  Just slowly getting my mojo back.

 

One Last Summer Show

We’ve had such a great Summer, doing two successful craft shows and we have one more to do. We’ll be at the Sacramento Old City Association Annual Home Tour and Street Faire on September 15. We’ve done this event twice before and it’s always been fun. We skipped it last year, so we’re looking forward to returning. Hubby will have some of his butcher block cutting boards, bird houses and squirrel feeders. My sister will be joining us with her eclectic switch plate covers and door blessings. And I’ll have jewelry, coasters, and maybe some lamps and cut bottle glasses.

The free street fair will be in the parking lot of the old Clarion Hotel across the street from the Governor’s Mansion at 16th and H. And did I mention that it was free? Check out this link for more info.

Crafter’s Log – July 22, 2013

When I last checked in, I mentioned that I would be taking a little break from crafting for about three weeks following my first craft show of the year.  I didn’t stop making things completely, but I didn’t touch my torch for two weeks.  I even managed to get a little bit organized.  A very little bit.

is key.

When organizing, descriptive labels are key.

I was hoping that during that time, I’d get my new oxygen concentrator so I could hook up my new torch.  Plus, I was giving my left hand a chance to rest.

Is it a bead, or a paperweight? Largest bead I’ve ever made.  I couldn’t grip anything for two days afterward.

My poor hand…  Ever since I started testing the limits of my Cricket by making larger beads, my mandrel-holding/spinning hand has become swollen and achy.  According to WebMD, I most likely am suffering from DeQuervain’s Syndrome**.  It’s also called, “mommy thumb,” “washerwoman’s sprain” and “gamer’s thumb.” I think it’s time to add “lampworker’s thumb.”  Or maybe “bead maker’s thumb.”

That reminds me…  While taking some time off from crafting, I did some searching for new craft fair venues.  I came across a Craigslist ad asking for craft vendors and telling them to contact them via email for an application.  So, I did telling them that I was a lampwork artist and jewelry maker.  I got a response back that said, “We’ve already got enough jewelry vendors, but we could use your lamp artistry.” /facepalm

Sigh.  Yet another person who thinks “lampwork” means making lamps.  What is a girl to do?  Oh, yeah.  MAKE LAMPS.  So, I did, though not with my torch.  I used my bottle cutting “artistry” to turn a Skyy Vodka bottle into a hanging swag lamp.  Of course, I had some help from my hubby when it came to actually wiring the lamp, (and when I say “help” I mean that he wired the whole damn thing before I could even snap pictures to use as reference,) and it turned out pretty nice.

Skyy Vodka makes a nice lamp.

Skyy Vodka makes a nice lamp.

The awesome thing about bottle cutting/lamp making is that it can be done inside my air-conditioned house, rather than the garage.  OMG, it’s been so hot lately that I really have to go out to torch by 6:00am just to get a couple hours in before it gets too hot to work out there.  It’s been too hot to work out there, even when just etching the copper for earrings…

Etched 5 pair of earrings, including these dragonfly pride earrings.

…Which makes me really glad that I found (yet) another thing I can do in the house during inclement weather – beading.   It was brought to my attention that all of my jewelry (bracelets, specifically) were very breakable, being that they were made from glass.  A young girl at the Summer Stroll in Yuba City asked me if I had any bracelets that just tied on.  I didn’t, but I started looking at stuff on the internet and learned that macramé is making a big comeback.

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Triple wrap, 4 stitch bracelet with one of my lampwork beads as a closure. Let’s see a 12 year old do that!

Other than some embroidery floss “friendship” bracelets I made when I was a kid, I never learned how to macramé.  I watched some video tutorials, dug deep into my bin full of stringing materials, and tried my hand at making some macramé bracelets.  I imagine that a twelve year old at a summer camp is probably accomplishing the same thing right now, but still.  I was pretty proud of myself.  I grabbed a few of my “almost” orphan beads (which means that there are only 2 or 3 matching beads) and strung up a few on some cord that I had.  But, I can’t truly feel like it something new unless I buy a bunch of stuff from a craft store or two.

So, that was a couple weeks ago and there has been an evolution from hemp cord macramé to leather mosaic wrap bracelets.  I watched a video tutorial and fell in love with these bracelets.  They are comfortable to wear, fun to make and apparently, pretty trendy.  Four trips to the bead shop and $100 later…  It never ends.

Leather mosaic wrap bracelets - Craft du Jour

Leather mosaic wrap bracelets – Craft du Jour

My next sale will be Sunday, August 11th, 8:00am – 3:00 pm, in Placerville.  I’m going to be partnering with Susan Lopez of Patsy Emporium again.  Come say hi!

** Either I have this De Quervain’s Syndrome or osteoarthritis which sounds like something that someone of a more advanced age would have.  I’m going to go with “Gamer’s thumb.”

Crafter’s Log – May 9, 2013

I’ve decided to change things up a bit since the normal weekly updates just aren’t working for me (obviously since it’s been over a month since my last post).  Between crafting and writing about crafting, I just have no time to actually have a life.  So, I’m just going to do sporadic updates when I feel like it.  Hey, guess what?  I feel like it today.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been a very busy little bee.  I made a bunch of beads, mostly random, but some with an intended purpose.  I tried out a couple tutorials for the first time with varying degrees of success.  The first one was from Jacqueline Parkes’ My Secret Garden, which is awesome.  There’s a special tool required, but I was able to pick itup locally and very inexpensively, which is like a first for my special lampworking tools.

Not my first effort.  That one lives somewhere in my "never see light of day" pile.

Not my first effort. That one lives somewhere in my “never see light of day” pile.

My first effort was passable.  I used the same glass as what is used in the tutorial but it came out just meh.  I’m too conservative sometimes, I think.  Anyway, the big learning curve to this tutorial has to do with timing and placement of the components.  Anytime I have to pull components first, it usually doesn’t go well, but this time, I had minimal shrapnel.  One flower made and I decided to tackle another one since that had gone pretty well.  This time, I tried pink – the same pink I hadn’t been able to make the rose petals with.  Yeah…  It didn’t go well, but I don’t think it was all my fault.  Sitting in front of the torch, pink rod in hand, creating my gather, I noticed it.  A bubble formed at the end of the rod, then blew out.  There is a small hole down the length of the rod. $#@!

I think that most of my newer dark pink glass has this hole, which really ticks me off since that glass is not cheap.  Grr…

Getting better with the flowers.

Getting better with the flowers.

The other tutorial I tried was the Kerri Fuhr Raven.  It went pretty well.  The background I tried was one from her tapestry tutorial.  Now, I’ve tried this tutorial before and frankly, I really suck at it.  Stringer work has never been my strong point and neither is raking, both of which you really need to do this successfully.  I’m getting better though, but since I had already messed up the tapestry bead, I figured, “I’ll put a bird on it.”

The raven came out pretty good!  It’s nearly impossible for me to photograph without setting up my light tent, but yeah.  I’m happy.

If you totally ignore the background, this one isn't too bad.

If you totally ignore the background, this one isn’t too bad.

In other news, I have a new hobby.  I need another hobby like I need a hole in the head, but I’m weak in the face of learning something new that is both fun, functional and marketable.  What is this thing?, you ask…  glass bottle cutting.  Someone on Lampwork Etc. had posted some picture of wine bottle glasses – basically just the bottom of the bottle cut to the length of a drinking glass.  They posted a link to a YouTube video and I was off.  It’s so easy.  At least, I think it’s easy because I haven’t actually tried it yet.  My cutting contraption is on its way from Amazon right now.

Then, I started looking through the forums and saw a few threads on making beads from bottles.  I’ve thought about this before, but it always seemed kind of difficult.  But now, I think I’m OK to tackle this.  I have a kiln now, which I didn’t have when I first thought about it.  Also, with recycled glass, you really can’t mix it.  Bottles don’t come with the co-efficient of the glass stamped on them.  This is important because you can’t mix different COEs because one glass will cool much faster than the other which will cause it to shatter.  No bueno.  You really have to not mix the glass.  Even say, beer bottles from the same 6-pack might have different COEs so you really need to keep the reclaimed glass separate.

But really, what’s the fun in making a bead that is only a single color with no decoration?  Not much, at least not for me.  The ONLY time I do this is when I’m making simple spacers.  Boring.  Enter a new tool/idea to my life…  Stamping it with leather stamps.  I picked up a couple of cute designs – flower and butterfly – so I can make some beads with some dimension and interest, even though they are all one color.

I put some feelers out to my friends and co-workers about saving their glass bottles for me, so hopefully I’ll get a good amount of free glass to try this stuff out on.  Luckily, a lot of my friends drink a lot, which I guess is why they are my friends.   What I’m hearing a lot from them is “I only buy the really big bottles.” That’s cool with me because I can make vases and candle holders.

Time Warp…

I actually wrote this a couple weeks ago but never posted it because…  Yeah, I have no excuse.  I just didn’t post it.  Moving on…

The bottle cutter arrived and I excitedly tried to cut a couple beer bottles.  Miserable failure is how I would classify it.  I thought, maybe the beer bottle glass is too thin, so I tried an old wine bottle.  Again, miserable failure.  But the wine bottle was green, so I took it out to the garage and whacked it with a hammer.  That was satisfying.  Then I turned on the torch and melted it down.

Recycled/upcycled/reclaimed glass beads

Recycled/upcycled/reclaimed glass beads

Melting the glass down and pulling it into rods was pretty fun.  I used a new press to make the sweet little flowers, then I dug out my old presses to do the other things.  I actually love the leaf press for this reclaimed glass.  I’m going to try it with some brown/amber beer bottles soon.

Success!  Tumblers.

Success! Tumblers.

I finally had some success cutting the bottles down to “tumbler” size glasses, so I grabbed a pretty Skyy Vodka bottle my sister gave me and tried that…  Yeah – NO!  The bottle didn’t cooperate, so…

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Bwaa ha ha!  Let it be known… This is what happens to naughty bottles in my house, bitches!

Weekend Update – Jan. 27, 2013

After work on Friday, I went to buy the stuff for my new etchent. I started at the pool supply place and picked up two gallons of hydrochloric acid. Yeah, I didn’t need two, but that’s the only way to get it. Grr.

After that, we trekked across the street to Rite Aid for hydrogen peroxide, nail polish remover and ice cream (mint chip, FTW). With that, I had all the things I needed to mix up my new etchent, toner transfer trials and dessert!

Saturday morning it was time to go to work. I fired up the torch and made plain spacer beads. I wasn’t feeling up to anything complicated but I did melt some glass that I’ve had for a while and hadn’t used because it was expensive. See, that’s what happens when I torch every week for a few weeks in a row. I gain crazy confidence.

Unfortunately, the glass gods didn’t get the message and the raku glass is just brown and the super fancy Double Helix Kalypso glass is just meh. Ah well. Can’t win them all. I was still going to use the Kalypso beads with the etched copper. No sense in letting it go to waste.

And speaking of the etched copper… On Friday night, I figured out the toner transfer. Every thing I saw on the web said that you had to iron the transparency for three minutes. WTF. I’m not sure what transparencies they’re using, but the ones I have shriveled up like Shrinky-Dinks after about 30 seconds leaving a black smudge on my copper. That’s where the nail polish remover comes in. I cleaned the same 4 pieces of copper probably 5 times. Wipe, wipe, wipe. Scrub, scrub, scrub. Rinse, repeat.

In the end, the thing that worked for me was heating the copper with the iron, then gently laying the transparency on it and very lightly burnishing it for about 10 seconds before lifting it off. I was worried a little because you could plainly see toner left on the transparency, but I decided that I was just going to see what happened. I was pretty tired of messing with it.

Disks all tonered up and ready for the acid bath.

Disks all tonered up and ready for the acid bath.

So after the torching session and a quick trip to In N Out for breakfast (don’t judge) I mixed up the new solution and grabbed six copper disks from the night before. It was amazeballs! The solution turned a lovely green and the etch was quick and clean. It took about 20 minutes to get a deeper etch than I was getting after an hour in the ferric chloride.

Acid and peroxide bath

The green means it’s working!

Once the copper was cleaned up, I got everything lined up for the painting. I got some new paints from Metal Me This on Etsy that I was anxious to try. You’d think that between the sample six pack of those and the entire Vintaj patina collection that I would have just about every color covered. Not so!

I really wanted a true red to use on the Year of the Snake earrings. I ended up using the burgundy color from Metal Me This. It’s nice, just not what I had envisioned for this particular project.

Snakes!

Snakes!

So, Saturday was good. Sunday, not so much. My new toner process was hit or miss with more “miss” than “hit.” I’d do one or two just fine, then the next three would be crap. I took the five good ones and headed out to the garage for the acid bath.

I knew things weren’t going as well as yesterday when, after 30 minutes, they looked barely etched. It probably had something to do with the liquid being so much colder. So, back in they went. Then I noticed it… Little black pieces floating on the surface. I peaked at the disks and sure enough, the freaking toner was coming off the peacocks. Shit!

All painted and domed and looking like they didn't give me any trouble.

All painted and domed and looking like they didn’t give me any trouble.

I got them out of the bath with the intention of sanding them down and starting over since they didn’t look etched at all, but a crazy thing happened when I hit them with the steel wool. They were fine. One peacock had some broken lines, but damn if they didn’t look OK. Actually, all the disks looked OK. I did my thing with them, then worked up some earrings; six pairs in all.

Earrings!

Here they are… Etched copper earrings with lampwork beads.

Sunday is family day, so we went to my parents house for our traditional early dinner. My sister and I headed to the bead shop because I needed to get some clip on earrings for her birthday present. She’s crazy allergic to metal so only clips for her. While we were there, she spotted a lovely pendent in the display case. Since I needed something else to give her for her birthday, I thought, “what the heck.” So… Why buy when you can make, right? I got the stuff to make it (and I bought extras since my luck was crap all day Sunday.) But when I got home… Success on my first try. My first filigree wrapped pendant.

Filigree wrapped pendant

I can put this here since my sister doesn’t read my blog. I’m not bitter.

So, that was my weekend. Hard to believe it’s over all ready. Damn. Tomorrow, it’s back to the grind.

Obsession of the Week -January 25

Copper etching has been the obsession this week. I tasted sweet success last weekend and I want more. I’m still trying to get my process down. I’m looking into an alternative to the Ferric Chloride etchant because I think I’m going to be using a lot of it and it’s not readily available locally. Also, I’m trying to look ahead to disposal of the used etchant and it’s kind of a pain the butt to get rid of responsibly.

I came across an Instructable for using hydrochloric acid and hydrogen peroxide. It seems less expensive and reusable, so better for the environment. Also, (girlie moment) during the process, it turns a lovely shade of green, rather than the black mucky color of the Ferric Chloride. This stuff is a little more hazardous, but I’m OK with that seeing as how I play with fire on a regular basis. I’m hoping to pick the stuff up to try this out tonight.

The other part of my process that needs tweaking is a little more worrisome. Right now, I’m searching the interwebs for a way to get my toner/transparency process to work more reliably. I’ve had only moderate success. Clearly, I’m doing something wrong. Either I don’t get it hot enough and the toner doesn’t stick, or I get it too hot and it’s sliding around, thus leaving an icky, smudgy mess. There’s a fine line there. I just need to find it. So frustrating.

I decided to try some different (non-bird or butterfly) designs and different application techniques so I downloaded a couple different images from the internet. One was a tree of life with swirly, scrolly branches and another was a cool looking Chinese Zodiac deal… 2013 is the Year of the Snake. (Saved you a trip to Google, didn’t I? You’re welcome.)

My intent was to make earrings but only two of the toner transfers worked to my satisfaction (and by “satisfaction” I mean that they weren’t miserable failures and could be sort of saved with painstaking Sharpie application.) Wouldn’t you know it; one was the tree and the other one snake. Pfft. These might be destined to be pendants.

I wish I could pitch the whole toner/transparency thing all together and use rubber stamps and StazOn ink. It is WAY easier and quicker. Unfortunately, it’s also very limiting. You can’t resize it and it’s difficult to find stamps that are small enough to fit on the 1” rounds I’m using. I have a couple stamps, but really, how many pairs of freakin’ butterfly earrings do I need? Not nearly as many as I have at this moment, I can tell you.

Weekend Update

I’d classify this as a very productive weekend. On Saturday, I started with some lampworking. I had oversold a bracelet during the week to my coworkers so I had to get crackin’ on some beads. (Isn’t it weird that you can have stock in your inventory for over a year and nobody is interested then all of a sudden BAM, and you need to hustle to fill demand?). So, I hit the torch early and hard and cranked out everything I needed plus a couple extras for insurance. I also prepped a couple plain spacer beads that I would put to good use later.

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I actually think these are better than the original.

Then the fun started. I broke out my brand-spankin’ new copper etching materials and got jiggy wid it. There were some rough moments with ironing my toner printed image onto the copper disk but I soldiered on. Soon enough, I had my copper disks soaking in a Ferric Chloride bath. Then I waited, then waited some more. I am soooo not a patient person. I checked them every ten minutes despite the fact that I knew they would take at least 45 minutes. Finally, I threw caution to the wind and fished them out of brown muck.

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I put a bird on it! And some etched lampwork spacers.

It wasn’t a deep etch, but it was enough. I slapped some patina on them, buffed them up then dapped them then punched them, then strung them… Wow. Tortured copper. Heh.

They turned out way better than I had hoped and I love them so much that I’m going to keep them, which is way out of the ordinary for me. I’ll eventually get around to putting some in my Etsy store when I get my process nailed down better and get some time to make something other than beads for oversold bracelets.