Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Just married!

Last Thursday (Aug 4th) John and I got married. We had originally thought to have a simple ceremony in the city hall of Stockholm but it seemed nice to be away for a few days and in the end we settled on having the wedding on Gotland. We saw this little guy on our way to the wedding:

I'm sure he was a good omen. :)

We had the - very short! - ceremony in this pretty pavilion in the botanical garden of Visby:

The registrar read this poem by Nils Ferlin. Below are both the swedish version and an english translation.

I folkviseton
Nils Ferlin

Kärleken kommer och kärleken går,  
ingen kan tyda dess lagar. 
Men dig vill jag följa i vinter och vår 
och alla min levnads dagar.

Mitt hjärta är ditt, 
ditt hjärta är mitt 
och aldrig jag lämnar det åter.
Min lycka är din
din lycka är min, 
och gråten är min när du gråter.

Kärleken är så förunderligt stark,
kuvas av intet i världen.
Rosor slår ut ur den hårdaste mark,
som sol över mörka gärden.

Mitt hjärta är ditt, 
ditt hjärta är mitt 
och aldrig jag lämnar det åter.
Min lycka är din
din lycka är min, 
och gråten är min när du gråter.

In Folk-song Fashion

Love comes along, love drifts away
No-one can tell us the reasons.
But here by thy side, love, I know I shall stay
through all the passing seasons.

My heart, it is thine; thy heart, it is mine
and mine shall remain till I die.
My happiness, thine; thy happiness, mine
- thy tears, they are mine when thou cryest.

Love is so strong, so wondrously strong
- naught in the world makes it yield.
Roses spring up from the hardest of ground
as sunshine spreads over dark fields.

My heart, it is thine; thy heart, it is mine
and mine shall remain till I die.
My happiness, thine; thy happiness, mine
- thy tears, they are mine when thou cryest.

Monday, July 25, 2011

July Project Blogroll - What are you working on?

This month's blogroll of the Aspiring Metalsmiths Team we're showing what we are currently working on. And there is that word, currently. Are all the half-finished, half-started things on my bench included in this? Or just the items that I have actually touched recently?

I have no idea if my way of working is similar to that of others or not. I sometimes sketch but most often don't. Usually I have bits of silver and stones lying around on my bench and sometimes they align themselves in a pretty way and I have a new pendant. I start things, and then forget about them. I make metal clay findings and then they lie around for a while (a while being between a few days and a year) until I find a use for them.

So my bench looks very much like the two upper pictures below. One thing that I really do work on is of course my wedding jewelry. I finished all the segments of my necklace and I'm working on a way to attach the focal stone without it hanging wonky. Another thing I'm working on - just started today - are matching earrings, but I have no picture of those yet.
Upper left: stones, half finished rings, and PMC stuff in progress
Upper right: my dish with some scrap, findings, solder, small stones
Center below: wedding jewelry in progress
Below is PMC work in progress. I did a big batch of fern earrings and some other stuff yesterday. Today most of that has been fired and the two pendants in the lower pic are still in progress. I touch up some areas with slip, let it dry, forget about it, sand, touch up again, sand, etc. That goes on until I either finish a piece or my cat steps on it and it's ruined. ;) 

Below is a spontaneous project that started after a few etching attempts that didn't really turn out great. I cut off the etched parts and two rectangles were left. Earrings of course! I decided to make a rough texture by banging them against a piece of granite and then I decided I would try and flush set two emeralds at the ends. 
In the pictures below I am 1- about to solder on the posts; 2- about to throw them in the pickle after soldering; 3- showing off flushed set emerald #1 while I still struggle with #2. The match functions as a support while I try and flush set, since the stones stick out slightly at the back. I stick the earring post in a drill hole in my wooden block while I work on setting the stone. 

Below are some miscellaneous things in progress. The blue slag has been on my bench for ages, and recently it's become more clear what I want to do with it. It's to be combined with garnet, a color combination which I love. I sawed out the back plate for the pendant and I'm going to try and set the bezel around it, so I need a perfect fit of back plate and stone.
The PMC leaf and boulder opal have also been on my bench for ages but only recently I started on the bezel. It's tricky to solder on the bezel because of the leaf vein structure. I'm cheating a little with PMC slip - I hope it works!
The pretty agua nueva agates have been set in step bezel wire from Rio, but I can't get the stones to stop wobbling and I'll have to take them apart again (I really don't wanna, so they're just sitting beside my bench right now).
And then there is the prong setting. I made this months ago from a piece of square wire. I intended it for a red spinel. Who knows, it may still end up in that setting!
Upper left: blue slag necklace in progress
Upper right: leaf with boulder opal
Lower left: agua nueva agate earrings - paused
Lower right: home made prong setting
Check out the blogs by my teamies to see what they're working on:

Sunday, July 10, 2011

From berry to ring (and tummy)

The smultron. Or wild strawberry. I had found these occasionally in the Netherlands, where I'm from, but somehow they didn't have that smultron flavor. Only when I came to Sweden, and was prepared not to like them (as opposed to every body else here; saying you don't care for smultron is like blasphemy), I found out what they Could taste like. It's hard to describe the flavor if you haven't tasted it. It has hints of strawberry but is much more aromatic.
There is nothing like picking smultron on a warm summer's day. You stand there in the sun leaning forward and the warm sweet scent washes over you. They are tiny but even so I managed to fill an entire bowl the other day. Doesn't this look great:
John and I divided the harvest and had them with vanilla ice cream. Yummy.

For my jewelry I use a different part of the plant. When a strawberry plant sends out runners, the first leaves that come are these tiny tiny strawberry leaves. Here is a close-up:
I take these and paint several layers f metal clay paste on them, and after drying and firing they are silver leaves. I use them as details on for instance rings, like on this strawberry ring below:

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Production mode

Someone recently contacted me with the request to make about 25 of my willow rings. My first reaction was, I think, some weird combination between 'eek!' and 'yay!'. Yay reflected obviously that a whole group of people apparently liked my rings well enough to order one each, and eek was 'I hope I can do this in time' and 'I hope I don't need to make three rings until I get one ring that is the right size'.

The way I did these rings before is described by me in an earlier blog post. I then started firing them in my kiln, where the rings shrunk more than when torch firing (and became stronger, hence the kiln firing). The sizing was always a big difficult. I roughly knew what size a ring was going to be, but not entirely. And yes, that is annoying when you have to make 25!

So this is what I do now. I still cut out the leaves from the clay as before. But instead of letting them dry as rings, I dry them flat, and fire them flat.
Four willow leaves baking in the kiln
Afterwards I shape them on my ring mandrel until they are the right size, solder, add patina and tumble them. And here is the result:

Now I just need to keep track of which ring is whose...

Friday, May 20, 2011

Thing a Week - Weeks 16-20

This has been a most stressful time! My job keeps getting in the way of my jewelry work. So finally I have another Thing a Week update, this time with six different items. I will show rather than tell this time - all pieces are described in my Etsy shop.

THaW 16 - budding blueberry twig earrings
THaW 17 - strawberry cuff bracelet with ruby
THaW 18 - blue chalcedony ring with matte finish
THaW 19 - moonstone and star sapphire ring
THaW 20 - lady's mantle pendant with tanzanite
THaW 21 - blue lagoon pendant with turquoise

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Etsy front page!

With this beautiful treasury! Thanks treasury curator and thanks Etsy admin :)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The birch season has started!

There is a period in early spring where I keep glancing at birch trees. The time in which they go from having an almost indiscernible green hue to having fully developed leaves is very short. You have to be there at just the right time and pick the leaves when they're the prettiest. This year was extra hard since we had unbelievable hot weather at the end of April. I spent one Friday picking about 40 leaves and painting them with Precious Metal Clay paste. After that first layer they are preserved, and I can use them later on.

Look at the pattern on those leaves. Beautiful!

Rows of leaves like cookies on a baking sheet
And the finished result - a fired birch leaf on a silver ring:
I just listed this ring in my shop and any sizes can now be ordered. Happy spring!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Fern ring on the Etsy FP!

Fern ring on the Etsy front page today!

Thank you Etsy!

If anyone wonders, my fern is busy unfurling its leaves right now. It is still spring in Sweden and while the weather does everything it can, the fern is not among the early risers. I will inform you all when I start making my first fern rings for the season.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Artist feature: Joy Tan

One of her more elaborate
I haven't featured any artists before (other than me, haha) so this is a first. Joy featured one of my items on her blog, somebody spotted it, and I want to use this feature to thank Joy for the sale I got through her. That and I really love her work. She is located in Singapore and is a woman of many talents - she does both painting and jewelry making. She works with metal clay, just like me.

How and when did you start making jewelry?
Haha, my start was in fact not special at all. I was trained as a Fine Arts Artist so making jewelry never came into my mind and I am someone who like to see the sparkles of the jewelry instead of wearing them. About 2 years ago, a friend from England introduced me to Etsy. I was very excited and impressed by the handmade spirit I had seen in that website until I spent hours and nights amazed by the handmade items. After further considerations, I started to borrow related books from the library and bought some materials to make some simple earrings and bracelets. 
An example of Joy's dainty flower
pendants, a dandelion

What do you like best in the jewelry making process?
I enjoyed the process in creating delicate details when making art clay silver pendants. I love the quiet and peaceful moments that I am experiencing during it. I never really attends any jewelry lesson, so creating something new with art clay silver on my own contributes to much achievements and satisfactions.
What inspires you?
God's nature is my very first mean of inspirations. Etsy is a really good place for ideas and references. Joining the Aspiring Metalsmith Team in Etsy really helps me a lot as many of the hardcore metalsmiths there are very very knowledgeable with torches, metals, hammer and many other materials I never know....haha....and mostly gratefully, they are very friendly to share related information. 

Joy has been experimenting with
adding dyed concrete to her designs.
I love the result!
What are the advantages and challenges of having a handmade jewelry business in your location?
What I have created is considered something new and rare in Singapore as the local people have little knowledge of art clay silver, so I will just need more efforts to start this market. On the other hand, due to the great focus on mass production in this country, people are rather focused more on branded items and icons. Little appreciation is given to handmade items as they are not so educated with the efforts that a artisan spends in creating something and resources are limited here too.

How does a design come to you?
I have the habit of looking at any creations around me even if it is small and I will sketch on my small note book with things that are interesting. I will try to depict the idea in different compositions then I'll choose the best one. Sometimes, I will just make the jewelry instinctively. 

Thank you Joy! Those of you who would like to see more of her beautiful jewelry, make sure to check out her Etsy shop.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Thing a Week- Weeks 13-15

Another combined Thing A Week report. So far so good, I haven't yet had a week where I haven't finished something, which is a good sign. I must say that it has been really hard to stay indoors with the wonderful spring weather we've had lately. We'll see if I'm able to keep up the good work..

Week 13
This is my first project in gold. I'm not sure I would have done it if not a colleague had requested these earrings. She had seen similar earrings by me in silver and wanted them in 18K gold.
So I ordered the tiniest amount of supplies possible and got started. And I can now say: I love gold! It was extremely nice to work with, except for the awareness that the gold dust that I can't possibly collect when sawing or filing is a loss that I'll have to accept. And another thing that wasn't so nice is the thought that stays in your brain as long as you work with it: Must. Not. Screw. Up.
The 'phew' feeling when I had polished them and set the stones was pretty big. And oh yes, my colleague bought them.

Week 14
This week I managed to continue doing things I am uncomfortable with. This time it was prongs. I have a few prong projects, some of which are finished, some of which may never get finished. I had tried this particular design before and had a hard time soldering on all the prongs. This time I drilled holes where I wanted the prongs, then hammered a little nail head on a piece of wire and put the wire through the holes with the nail head in the back. Then soldered all of them at the same time. Easy! The stone is a wonderful translucent mint green prehnite, rounded both on the front and in the back.

Week 15
This was another custom order, and again a challenge for me. A colleague (a different one) gave me a stone she had once been given. She didn't know what it was but it looks like quartz or white topaz. The challenge was to set a big (and high) faceted stone in a simple, elegant pendant. I did most of the pendant at my metalsmithing class, and currently I cannot repeat the way that it was done at home - though there are other ways. I made a sterling silver oval ring that matched the stone as prefectly as possible. Then I ground a seat for the stone and made the rest of the pendant with round wire. I used a hammer hand piece for flexshafts to set the stone, and then polished the area around the setting.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Finally, spring!

For winter's rains and ruins are over, 
And all the season of snows and sins; 
The days dividing lover and lover, 
The light that loses, the night that wins; 
And time remembered is grief forgotten, 
And frosts are slain and flowers begotten, 
And in green underwood and cover 
Blossom by blossom the spring begins.

We are lucky this year. The thick layer of snow has melted away fast, and right now we're enjoying some warm days that are almost like summer! Every day new flowers pop up, and you have to make sure you look around every day or you miss most of the fun. Ahh, spring. :)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Thing a Week- Weeks 10-12

I'm getting worse. Now I'm writing one blog post about three entries for my 2011 Thing a Week challenge. Oh well. One blog post is better than none!

So, my week 10 items is a little different in that it's a PMC item. PMC is Precious Metal Clay, and this is the material that made me a jewelry-making-holic. The reason why I haven't had many PMC items in my Thing a Week challenges is that I mostly use PMC in non-challenging ways. If you're too broad with the techniques you use, and you don't have all the time in the world, you have to pick and choose which technique you want to dive deeper into and which technique you want to maintain but not refine. Currently I'm not refining my PMC technique too much, but I got a request for an orchid pendant. Luckily I have two flowering orchids at the moment and I asked one of them if I could have a flower. I interpreted the answer as 'yes, but only if I get nutrition in my water every week while I flower instead of once every two weeks'. Okay, deal! I dissected the flower and used every part to make a silver orchid flower. This is the result:

Week 11 is this ring:
My inspiration for this ring was a beautiful Art Nouveau opal ring, with platinum leaves framing the stone, and tiny diamonds set into the leaves. I have no idea how to even attempt something like that, and the ring I saw may have been cast, but I loved that the leaves formed the setting of the stone. This is my first attempt at such a design, and it's not entirely like what I had in mind, but I will definitely explore this again. I have listed it on Etsy and called it the 'sunny garden ring'. The stone is a beautiful red brown sunstone with multicolored glitters that sparkle in the sun.

Week 12 is a ring with a raw tourmaline crystal. I set it between two H-shaped pieces of silver and folded the corners over. Steady like a rock :) 
The back plate is a piece of reticulated silver I made a while back. For the longest time I didn't really know what I wanted to do with it, so it was on my bench along with a lot of other small pieces of silver. But then I got the tourmaline and it looked rather nice on top of the reticulated silver. 

I love how the stone looks with the sun shining on it!

That's all for now. I have no idea what my next creation will be. :)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Thing a Week- 8 and 9

For these Things a Week I have actually stepped out of my comfort zone. It's not always easy to do so. Like with everything, you need time, a healthy dose of optimism, and a certain disregard for things that can go wrong (especially with the silver price being as high as it is).

Week #8:

These filigree moonstone earrings are made with traditional filigree patterns and thin twisted filigree wire. Making filigree is tricky because of the thin wire and the many soldering points - always a risk for melting. Time will tell if these were a result of beginner's luck or if I have finally learned to control my torch a little.

Week #9:

This little hedgehog has been sculpted in metal clay. I don't sculpt much, but I'd like to do more of it, especially with results like these. I made the sterling silver band of the ring in a wavy pattern, to symbolize the erratic way animals sometimes walk when following  their noses. This little hedgehog will soon appear in my Etsy shop.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

My addiction

Whenever I do fairs and markets I see how children are drawn to polished colorful stones. Sometimes a little girl or boy walks slowly by my table and touches every single stone with one finger. On one market one of the other sellers had a big bowl of 'magic stones'. They were a random mix of tumbled agate, aventurine, tiger eye, quartz, etc. They didn't cost more tha$1 each but to the children they were magic treasures.

I must say, this hasn't changed. Not for me at least. I remember getting my first stone, it was a pyrite crystal. Whatever my father said to me about what it was, to me it was as valuable as solid gold. I put it on my display shelf with other pretty rocks and rinsed it whenever it got too dusty. In the end, however, it ended up in a box and I almost forgot about it.

Then I started working with silver and talking to other metalsmiths on Etsy. They were drooling over stones, licking stones, showing off new purchases.. and through them I discovered the world of cabochons. Beautiful, colorful, smoothly polished stones, made by mother nature and a talented lapidary artist. And now I could buy stones, not just for looking at, but with a Purpose! 

Since I started buying cabs, it has become a small obsession. I have to introduce stone buying moratoria to pace myself. Very few things make me so childishly happy as receiving new stones in the mail.  I have written about my stone collection before (here) where I showed off a small part of my stash. This time I won't show you my entire collection either, simply because it normally looks like this:
Baggies. They contain all vital information, the kind of stone, price, seller or origin, dimensions or carat. The way I have currently divided my stones is heat resistant (can be fired in place in metal clay), faceted, small cabs and big cabs. It's no great system but it's something. I'm open to any storage tips, btw.

So here are a few highlights:
I love purple. These are a few examples of the purple stones I have.
Charoite is a special weakness of mine.

I'm prone to buying stones of similar shades. I'm very fond of blue chalcedony and agates,
gem silica,  labradorite, larimar and Anything that is green

Fossils! I love looking at these and trying to grasp what they once were and
when that was.
These two I call my demon stones:

And this is my beloved cat paw that I will never part with:

I mentioned before that I separated big and small cabs. I love small cabs. I don't know why, but they are just extremely appealing. Don't these look like candy?
I'm not the only one who wrote about my stone collection this month. Have a look at the posts by my Aspiring Metalsmiths teamies and let them tell you about their favorites:

Autumn Bradley -
Clarity @ Scrollwork Designs -
Stacy Low -
Chrissi Lynn Designs -
Sylvia Anderson -
Jessica @ Abella Blue -
Contemporary Jewelry by Beatriz Fortes -
Esmeralda -
Steph Stargell -
Pennee -
Silver Pearl Jewelry and Metalworks -
ArtistiKat -
Claire -

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Thing a Week, week 6 and 7

Thing a Week #6

Is it spring soon? I thought so last week, I even saw catkins in my garden! The rest is buried in snow but catkins! That means spring soon. I was so excited that I made this pendant using metal clay:

It's not that easy to get flower imprints to show well, since petals are so delicate, but in this case it went pretty well. I put a nice ruby cab in the center. I'm happy with how this one turned out, the flower looks real and alive. :)

Thing a Week #7

I'm continuing the red theme. I have made similar earrings like these before, when I didn't know how to pick solder. Now that I can pick solder they are still a challenge! There's a lot of soldering and to make them matched is not that easy either. I left the backs of the stone settings open so the light can come through and you can see the amazing color in the stones.