Tabs Are It!

Today I’m teaching a new class that I have looked forward to for some time. Tabs Are It!

This technique has something for multiple levels of participants. It can work for someone who has never previously walloped a piece of metal or for the more advanced metal worker. For the former, we are simply cutting the tabs with shears. The tab plate can then be riveted to a back plate if desired.

Tabs - no saw For the latter, sawing can be simple or intricate.

Tabs-saw

I’ve been excited about the variety of looks this technique produces and think it’s just right for those who do not want to solder.

Look for more pieces done in this style.

Bubble Bracelets

 

This is the “tween” time of the year when it’s still cold outside, but the stores have Spring showing on the inside. I’m supposed to be designing Spring/Summer jewelry, but my mind-set for this is out of whack. I’m hoping for warm weather soon!

In the meantime, I’ve been working on bracelets that will fit most any season. I saw some earrings on Pintrest that gave me the idea for the bracelet construction shown below and have enjoyed putting them together. I like the bracelets best, but have also used the technique for earrings and a necklace.

Faux bracel

Each bead is on a separate headpin and I like making my own with the torch. I’ve also made wire squiggles for the end of some of the pieces. I used simple closed loops to connect some of the headpins and wrapped loops on other bracelets. This varies the look somewhat.

Faux bracelets

The amethyst bracelet shown directly above also sports a few extra dangles at the ends of some of the beads.

Faux earrings

I enjoyed showing the 20 people who came to our Faux jewelry makers group how to make these last week. We had some nice pieces made.

I’ve had such a good time with these that I finally had to make myself move on to the next project. . . . but then, a gal can never have too many bracelets!

Published! String Earrings

Many of you have seen my earrings designs that are published in the current Step By Step Wire Jewelry magazine. It’s pretty cool to see it in the corner of the cover and my tutorial is inside if you want to create them yourself.

Step by Step earrings

These earrings are based on string art like many of us did in mathematics in school. There are several other versions of this design which are not in the publication.

Meador Earrings 15

I had forgotten about these other versions since I created them last summer. I may need to revisit them. How about you?

Retreat

Retreat . . . How would you define it? The dictionary offers several ways including “movement back” and “withdrawal from position”. Neither of these describe the upcoming weekend event.

The Hill Country Bead Society is having a RETREAT this weekend at the Old Quilt Ranch in Wimberley and I’ll be teaching two classes. This is the group’s fifth year and they always provide good food, fun and camaraderie. What more could you want – except good classes.     

The pictures below shows just a few of the possibilities students can make in the “Hot Earrings” class. I designed this class so students who have taken the beginning soldering class can practice their skills. Some students may choose to enlarge an earring design and create a pendant as shown in the second photo.

Hot Earrings2

 

Elisa-silver

The other class is Torch Enameling II. We’re working with sgraffito, making and using enamel shards and using transparent enamels for the first time. It’s always fun to see what participants come up with as I encourage them to do their own designs rather than copying mine.

enameling new earrings

Looking farther into the definition of “retreat”, I found “quiet time” and “quiet place”; yet, neither of these describe the upcoming weekend. I’m thinking retreat can also mean “to get away from the usual, leaving regular chores behind in order to relax, renew vision and gather with like minded people.” It sounds good to me. Now I’m off to pack supplies.

Opportunity Leads Learning–A Teaching Philosophy

Do you push yourself to learn new things, experiment with ideas even if they don’t usually work out or seek opportunities to do things that are likely too hard for you? I do! Often, I look for things to create that are just beyond my level of expertise in jewelry design.

I was struck by this philosophy as I cleaned my studio last week. I have numerous “dog bone” trays full of little things that didn’t work. There’s a tray of wire doodles, a larger tray of metal pieces and one or two of bezels, wire wrapped stones and partially strung necklaces. I would suspect that anyone who “makes things”, whether they are large pieces welded at the barn or small things soldered in a jewelry studio, has a container of things that didn’t work out as expected. It was neat to look through my piles and see that things that I couldn’t do months ago are now no longer a challenge. My prong settings are working well now . . .

goddess . . . as evidenced by the double stone piece shone here. This type setting certainly propelled by stone work forward and now I’m finally confident in trying all sorts of new styles. The first prong that I attempt were not so good!

Also, I found a small collection of torch enameled pieces that were pretty awful looking. (no, I won’t be showing a photo of them here!) I had to laugh as I looked at the newer pieces that I’m working on for an upcoming class. I’m glad I stuck with it.

enameling new earrings

My conclusion from this is that trying things that at first seem beyond my capability, actually holds the potential for improving my overall technique. The most important element seems to me that I must not yield to discouragement when things don’t work out, but rather look at them as opportunities for growth.

Promise

It seems that relationships are often based on promises. After all, that word is a big part of traditional wedding ceremonies. “I promise to . . . “. I find myself also using that word quite a bit around children. “Do you promise to put the toys away if I give you five more minutes to play?”

The past week and a half, however, promise sticks in my mind as a noun. This connotation results from the birth of my son and daughter-in-law’s first child, Emmy. It’s hard to look at any newborn’s photo without getting that “ahhh” feeling. We see the sweetness in the child’s face and it often brings memories of other babies we have held and loved. That face symbolizes newness and the continuous cycle of life. It can evoke joy, hope and happiness.

Emmy sleep

This week, this new little face in our family has me singing a song that I used when teaching preschool music. It spells out why I smile when gazing at a newborn.

I am a promise

I am a poss-i-bil-ity

I am a promise

With a capital “P”

I am a great big bunch

of po-tent-iality

I AM A PROMISE!

Yes, you are Emmy – yes you are!

Do You Vary?

I do!

Vary  “. . . To make or cause changes in the characteristics or attributes of; modify or alter “ www.answers.com/topic/vary

A few months ago, I told you that I was fortunate to have one of my bracelet designs on the cover of Step by Step Wire Jewelry magazine.

cover

This week, I’m guiding some of my friends as they make this bracelet at our Faux meetup. I always practice before I teach/lead and this time I decided to “VARY” the bracelet. This is one of my favorite things to do with designs as I employ various creative thinking techniques to change things without completely losing the character of the original designs.  Below is my practice piece which is varied through magnification (enlarging) and combining (adding the beads to the metal strip in unique positions).

brac1

I torch enameled and then sealed a piece of 26g copper sheet before cutting the shape for the bracelet. Then I wove 26g wire over 14g wire and through holes in the metal on both sides. I added the turquoise rounds within the weaving to vary the technique.

This change has initiated more consideration of other possibilities and ways to vary this design.

Yes, I do vary – – – because the opposite would be to “conform” and that’s just not my style!

A Tale of Two Prongs

The last two jewelry making classes that I’ve taught involved working on various types of prong settings. Although I don’t have any more of these scheduled, I’m still intrigued by the unique possibilities that soldered prongs present for jewelry construction.

I think the blue agate piece below might be called “snakes” except that might not be a very appealing title for a customer. I wanted to add a tube setting to this piece and used a 6mm lab grown amethyst. It seems to help bring out the color in the agate.

blue1

There’s always considerable problem solving in jewelry construction even when you’ve made the best of plans. I share my mistakes as a pat on the back for those of you who don’t make them (anyone out there???) as well as encouragement for the rest of us. My mantra seems to be “where there’s a will, there’s a way”. After the entire pendant was complete – soldered, filed, sanded, formed, patinated, etc. – I carefully set the stone and positioned the prongs over it. So far so good. Then I placed the amethyst in the tube bezel and used my new bezel setter to secure it . . . beautiful. But then . . . plop. . . out came the stone. Not to be dismayed, I tried again and again and then . . . I realized that I had soldered the tube bezel onto the back plate upside down! I knew I should start again, remove the agate and go back to the torch station.; but I didn’t. I recently read that a renowned jewelry maker/teacher uses glue in certain situations. THIS was my situation. I got that little E-6000 tube out of the drawer, glued that little stone in the tube bezel and if I hadn’t fessed up, you might never have known.

blue2

The second prong setting is a green agate. I cut a piece of 22g copper sheet to create the partial bezel and then used a two-legged prong setting at the top. In essence, the bezel simply keep the stone from sliding out the bottom. The prong provides tension from the top and holds the piece against the back plate. I also used a little bit of that E-6000 on the back of the stone so I would feel better. The bezel is a bit of copper tubing soldered on the front and I embellished the pieces by wiring some small glass beads to the prong. By the way, twice I filed and sanded the back of the piece too closely where the prongs come through and had to re-solder them. Oh well, it gave me good practice!

green1   green2

Did I learn anything? I found that self deprecation when something doesn’t go right doesn’t help me in making jewelry. When a prong failed to solder properly, I just said “oh great, now I get to go back down the stairs to the torch room.” (More exercise and more practice can’t be all bad!) Now, if something doesn’t give me a problem, I’m suspicious. Could attitude be 9/10s of the work ethic?

For my soldering students, keep smiling and torch on.

More Fluttering

While the last entry about memories that flit by was quite figural, today I’m thinking of fluttering in a different way. There are things that flutter too.

I’m ready for the fluttering of Spring when the birds and butterflies show their colors and the weather is warmer. I want to see them out my studio window and feel this would help me get in a better humor for creating the Spring jewelry designs. Yet, one has to get started; so I did.

The first photo shows two doves that I torch enameled with multiple layers of blues and white. The bottoms of the doves rest on round beads giving them to illusion of being in flight. The copper wire armature joins with a handmade chain to go around the neck.

doves

I also torch enameled this second piece. It is cloisonné and I used sterling silver wire to mimic the markings of the butterfly wings. Then I wet packed various colors of enamel. It takes many layers and firings to build the enamel up to the top of the sterling wire and the wet packed enamel must dry each time before firing. I had to learn to be patient on this one.  Once complete, I smoothed the surface with an alumdun stone and then added a clear layer of enamel.

butterfly

I’m just hoping that soon these flutterings aren’t just in my mind and on my work bench. I want to see Spring here at the ranch in the very near future.

Flutter By

Sometimes, when you are old, the memories from your past flutter by like butterflies in the Fall. They can be just as difficult to capture unless someone is there to help you.

Mamaw turned 93 a few weeks ago and we have to admit that she has considerable dementia. Yet, if I am with her at just the right moment in time and ask the right questions, occasionally the stories of old, although brief, unfold.

Mama Young

Today, we were talking about why my hair isn’t gray yet. I remembered that my grandmother’s hair was late in turning; so I asked about my great grandmother, Dee Dee, too. Neither of us remembered a time when her hair wasn’t gray. So I guess I’ve been lucky.

I also ask about my great great grandmother. “Mamaw,” I said, “do you remember Dee Dee’s mother?” “Well, of course.” Mamaw replied. I asked her what the woman’s name was and quick as a wink she said “Grammaw.” I said, “no, what is her real name?” She gave me the same answer and told me that Grammaw was all she was ever as called. Mamaw told me that Grammaw lived out on the farm in Oklahoma with her brother, Will, who had a wagon. Of course, I was thinking a little red wagon, but Will’s wagon was the big kind pulled by horses. Once, Mamaw said the family had her go to town with Will. She told me that she hid in the back of the wagon so no one in town would see her. Can’t you just see a little girl doing that?

Next, Mamaw told me that once someone in town died and she was sent out to the farm to tell Grammaw about it. She couldn’t remember how she got out there and with that, this day’s memories fluttered on and left us behind. I’ve learned there is no point in asking more probing questions; this only proves frustrating and, for Mamaw, painful.

Although I learned this years ago from my studies, today it was even more apparent that emotion has a big affect on memory. Whether it’s happiness, sadness, embarrassment or another emotion, feelings at the time of one of life’s episodes help a person retain the memory. It is also apparent that feelings at the time when a person is trying to remember can also affect the story. When Mamaw is upset, weary or frustrated, she answers most questions with “I don’t know; I just don’t know.” At that point, it’s definitely time to stop asking.

Some say emotions are fickle and perhaps that’s true, but when and if they are just right, feelings can help us capture those memories as they flutter by. I just hope I’m around when things are “just right” for Mamaw.

Unique jewelry creatively made with care at The Ranch in San Marcos, Texas