Monday, May 28, 2012

Hoarding - but not quite buried alive

So I've been hoarding handmade beads from fellow artists that I found through my blog hopping.

Here's some shots of my growing stash:

There's ceramic components, polymer clay beads, lampwork beads, wood tiles...

I love using these beautiful pieces in my work - but just as one part of the whole picture. I still want most of the components to be either made by me, and incorporate mainly gemstones; it's part of wanting the pieces to represent me. Although the other artist's pieces were selected by me among the thousands on offer, so I guess in a way they still represent who I am.

Take these earrings for example. Very pretty, heh? Made with Kristi Bowman triangles and Radiant Mind lampwork beads. Yes, but what's mine about them? I just took some commercial earwires and wrapped it all together. Although of course I'm still the one chosing which pieces to use for the final result, in the end who's to say they are "Quimera" earrings?

But with this necklace I'm using the beautiful components the way I want to: integrating them into my vision for the final piece. There's a house charm from Menagerie Studio, flower bead caps and bead from ChelleV2 and a ceramic flower from Captured Moment. Hope this one takes the wearer to her happy place when she needs it.
Now the downside of this: Africa, I love you, but you have a serious post problem. I currently have 4 packages missing - 2 from December, 2 from January. Yes, I have waived them bye-bye, don't expect to see them around this parts ever. Which is a serious dent in my budget. Plus they were pieces I really loved and was so looking forward to using.

I only contacted one of the artists of the missing packages to see if there was a way to track it. There wasn't. And although I didn't expect her to replace the items or take responsibility for it, I also didn't expect the cold shoulder I got. Lesson learnt: do not order from that artist again.

Ok, off to make more stuff with the items that did make it across the Atlantic, the african continent and landed on this patch beside the Indian Ocean.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Letting go of fear

Sometime early last year, I purchased a tool that I knew would open up many new possibilities in my work. As I usually do, I purchased the best one I could - I really don't like purchasing cheap tools just for learning thinking I'll upgrade once I'm more proficient in using the tools. The whole point of the best tools is actually making your job easier, so why start with something of lesser quality? (if you can afford to, of course)

The tool arrived, I inspected it - and I stashed it away in a box. Until now.
I'm talking about a jeweler's saw. I tend to read a lot and research before going into a new technique, so I had read extensively about how you brake numerous blades as you start, and how it's the sort of technique that you're better off learning formally. In a class. With someone who knows what they're doing.

So it remained stashed away. As I mentioned before, around here, there are no classes, no teachers, no supplies, zero, nada, zilch (is that a word?).

But there comes a day when a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. So I got my beautiful jeweler's saw out (it's red too, one of my faves), and got to it.

Well, I'm happy to report it's been easy peesy... I can even saw round shapes, and turning corners is apparently the most difficult thing to master. Not to yours truly! And not a saw blade was broken. Woohooo!!!

Here's a few things I've made:

Sterling silver strip with riveted copper round, wire wrapped amethyst briolette

A triangular shape sawed from a copper sheet with a riveted flower makes my "Enchanted" piece

The copper heart in my "Home is Where the Heart Is" was also sawn.

And while I was at it, why not teach myself to set a stone with tabs? Well, I learnt that more difficult than sawing is measuring very accurately so your stone fits inside the tabs and all the rivets are where they should be. This was the biggest pain - when I finished, I hadn't left enough space in the top layer around the stone, and it didn't fit inside. So I had to wrestle the tabs back and forth - luckily I didn't break them - until I could finally set the stone.

I find that working with metal takes so much longer than other techniques I tried before - sawing takes time, and then there's all the filing... but I also find it very fullfiling. I like to make each individual component, I like that I can see how much I worked on a piece.

Lately I have been using some handmade beads from other artists in my work, and I love to do that, but I really don't want my work to be just a nice sum, well-put together, of components others have made. I really want to sweat over my pieces. The process is 90% of the fun for me. So I guess I'm in a long term relationship with my jeweler's saw.

Now where did I put the soldering supplies I bought last year?...