Tag Archives: brass

Art is never finished, only abandoned…

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brass pendent

Time Flies

I’ve been working on this piece well over a year. I looked at the date when I first uploaded the picture and it was February 2, 2012. I admit that I was fairly happy with it at the time. I really loved the rustic aeronautical look. I debated what type of chain I would use and ultimately decided to go with leather cord. I was satisfied with my decision, took pictures and put it up on my etsy site.
brass pendent

Time Flies

A few weeks ago, I pulled it out my jewelry box and as I was looking it over, I decided I didn’t like the look of the leather cord and the weight seemed all wrong. I cut off the leather and started experimenting with chain. I altered the top of the pendent and how it was connected to the cord and added jump rings and beads. I believe the heavier chain looks better and the toggle clasp has more purpose.
brass pendent and necklace

Time Flies Revamp

Ultimately, I don’t know…I may just abandon it a while longer or maybe I will destroy it and start completely over.

close of of brass pendent

Time Flies Close Up

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Brace Yourself

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Close-up of Peasant bracelet

Life has changed dramatically. I left my permanent job, I’m working with my spouse in real estate, I’m studying to become an agent, and I have more time to work on jewelry. The last part I’m really excited about. It’s been chaotic since I left my job. I still haven’t worked out my routine and I must have a routine. I want next week to have more structure…I know, an artist who wants structure.

With a little more creative time on my hands, I’ve made 2 bracelets and I’m delighted with the outcome. Two principals of design, movement and scale have been the focus of my pieces. Bracelets seem to be the prefect art form for my experiments. They are always moving around the wrist. I’ve found that by using more than one type of chain, I can achieve more motion, play with the scale, and I get the added benefits of dimension and texture.

Close-up of Rouge bracelet

Rouge is typical of my style but with a twist. It’s monochromatic and small and it jingles. I found the bells at BEAD IT! and I had no idea what I would do what them. They just caught my eye. I used three types of brass chain for the base of the bracelet. I added red glass hearts, glass squares, brass colored glass hears and red crystals in groups of 3’s along with the bells. I love the rich, lush color of the bracelet and the added bonus is that it makes a beautiful sound.

Rouge, charm bracelet

I created Peasant from a kooky vintage belt that I found at a garage sale. I love the wooden rings and I added turquoise, vintage brass buttons and green glass beads that I acquired from a vintage pair of chandelier earrings. The bracelet is large but very light weight because of the wooden rings. Honestly, this one is out of my wheelhouse but a divine example of texture and scale. I’ve learned that I don’t have to make beautiful pieces I would wear, I have to make beautiful pieces.

Peasant, charm bracelet

I believe you have to challenge yourself and get out of your creative pigeon hole. You always learn from it, and brace yourself, you could create something that you didn’t know existed within your realm. I’ll leave you with this.

I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it. — Pablo Picasso

Focus

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Focal Swap Clasp

Focus, a condition in which something can be clearly apprehended or perceived. I for one tend to get easily distracted with all that I have going on, work, family, and house chores. Lately, my days have been a blurry haze of the daily grind that is my life.

This changed with my family suffering a surprising loss this past week. Loss makes you realize how short life is and that you have to make the most of every day you have on this earth. In my funk of the last month or so, this poignant moment gave me clarity. I gave notice at my job and registered for real estate classes. I decided to pay more attention to my creative endeavors. This is what makes me feel alive and gives me a purpose.

The red beads with the clasp, brass button and a brass dragonfly charm

I was fortunate enough to sign up for a Vocal Focal Swap. I felt like this would energize and motivate me to create. My swap partner Bonnie, sent me this beautiful clasp created by Melinda Orr. I’ve never really created pieces in which the clasp is the focal point of a necklace so this was an excellent challenge for me. I journeyed to Bead It! one of my favorite local bead shops and found some beautiful red beads.

I had some ideas for my necklace, but I wasn’t excited about any of them. I played with chain and beads and nothing sparked my imagination. I put it all away for a while and decided to marinate on my plan for the clasp. I tried to work on it last week but it seemed selfish to think about anything other than my family and the loss of a loved one.

Finally, the time came to shut down the “stuff” that has clouded my mind for weeks and concentrate on jewelry and completing my swap. Emphasizing the clasp was tough but it changed the way I approach creating and assembling a necklace. It forced me to get out of my design box and ultimately, motivated me to work, even when life is chaotic.

Contemplation, the finished necklace

There are aspects in life over which you have no control. We are human and death seems to be the one thing that makes us contemplate our existence and focus on what is important. My pondering has led me to appreciate life, celebrate my creativity and keep the focus.

Buttons, Bye Gone

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Buttons Bygone, brass charm bracelet



It’s finished! The bracelet that took forever is finally finished and listed on etsy. This project was really tough for me. It required a lot of planning and executing. There are 25 individual pieces on it. Nine are hand-crafted findings. Creating those findings took quite a bit of experimentation to get the look and length I wanted.

I’m not complaining by any means. I know it takes time and effort to accomplish your goal. I’ve learned that time and time again with running and weight lifting. You can not make your objectives happen over night. There is no amount of hoping and praying that will work. You must put in the time and dedicate yourself to the task at hand.

Buttons Bygone is a piece that I’m really proud of. I’m thrilled with how it turned out and I’m super excited to do it again. Attaching the charms to the chain will be less time-consuming now that I know the proper way to do it. There is a method. I’m inspired. I can’t wait to go out this weekend and look for charms and items I can make into charms.

I have to admit, I am a little sad about giving up the buttons. I have a bad habit of getting attached to certain objects. The look or feel of an item will appeal to me. Sometimes it’s because I bought it at an estate sale and I feel like I know the person who used to own it. They kept for a reason and although I don’t know their reason, it makes it special to me. Other objects come from a thrift or antique store. I’ve made friends with the owners so I think of them when I see the objects and that gives them meaning.

Brass Buttons

Maybe I’m just a sentimental person, but I think that describes most artists and in particular jewelry artists. You are making pieces for people to adorn their body. Most jewelry is given for a reason or sentiment. It only makes sense that jewelry pieces have meaning.

Ultimately, I’m glad I was able to finish because now I’m ready for a new challenge. Like any good race, you savor the ecstasy of the moment you finished. You enjoy bragging rights for day or two. Then it’s back to work. It’s the same for artists.

So bye-bye buttons….Be gone! Bring on the next challenge…

Buttons Bygone, a labor of love and learning...

The Pinnacle Moment

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Black n Blue cluster ring

Sometimes as an artist you find yourself where and when you least expect it. You work and work and make a lot unique pieces. You explore different materials, styles and genres trying to figure out what you and your work are about. Then there’s a day when something you created provides you with divine insight and you understand who you to the core. It’s profound.

I began retailing my jewelry on Friday. The salon where I have my hair done also carries a variety of accessories. My stylist suggested that I bring some to her to sell. I had my hair done that day and took 10 pieces with me to sell.

I’ve learned that I’m not ready for retail, especially the display part of the business. I made my cards and tied and taped my jewelry on to them with hand-written descriptions. Hopefully the jewelry will speak for itself. Removing almost half of my pieces from my etsy shop left it quite empty. I also sold a piece on Thursday to a friend. YEA!!!

Leaf and Tiger Dangles, earrings

This created a situation in which I had to pump out the pieces. I completed 4 rings on Saturday with some new black coated copper wire that I bought from Sea of Beads. I really like the way they look and I especially love the back in black ring.

Back in Black ring

Sunday was earring day. I began by cleaning my desk and organizing tools, beads, buttons, keys and wire. I found two navy blue buttons in the back of my top desk drawer. The feel and color of the buttons caught my attention, so I made a mental note. I also organized my loose chain. This is like trying to pull apart live snakes, maybe not as dangerous, but just as frustrating. I separated this beautiful brass chain that I had bought because the chain was rustic and looked hand hammered. The horrid large blue pendent was obviously a later addition.

As the earring making frenzy started, I remembered the little blue beaded bracelet I found on Saturday at a sale. I bought it with several other pieces and added it to the pile. On closer investigation, I realized that the bracelet was a hodge podge of vintage blue glass beads on brass wire rigged together with the icky plastic sun charm. I love it when you uncover something really special.

Black and White Dangles, earrings

I created 5 pair of earrings before I was mentally exhausted. The silver pairs are nice, well thought-out designs, executed to the best of my ability. The brass earrings with the red crystal leaves and tiger crystals are another example. The beads were purchased at various bead stores because they appealed to me. The chain and jump rings were obtained in a similar fashion.

Hematite Dangles, earrings

I find myself drawn to the brass chain earrings with the buttons and the beaded chain earrings. It’s a gut reaction that words can’t describe. I used the items I most adored and that had a history to them. The thought process while creating them was completely different. I didn’t analyze or fuss with the design. What I discovered is that these two pair of earrings are true expressions of me. They encompass the materials I love to use, the way I love to work, my philosophy of re-purposing and a deep appreciation of things that have history.

Blue Button Dangles, earrings

It’s the pinnacle moment when you say to yourself DAMN! This is what I’m about.

I realize that this is just a moment. Ten years from now, I may be influenced and inspired by different materials and objects. As an artist you always want to be growing and progressing. I know that I will take this moment with me and it will make me a better artist, not just because I had it, but because I took the time to realize it. Keep working for your pinnacle moment. It’s humbling and exciting at the same time. I just wanted to share mine.Blue Bead Dangles, earrings

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

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In my garage sale and estate sale adventures, I’ve gained quite a bit of knowledge. I garage sale/estate sale to get about 80% -90% of the items I use in my jewelry making, painting, sculpture and crafting. I would like to share some of my finds and the lessons I’ve learned.

There is an art to getting good stuff at a good price…Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

This past weekend, I bought approximately, 30 tubes of acrylic paint, including some of the larger tubes for $5.00. The seller wanted 25 cents per tube. I took the time to count them all, let him know the total and asked for a bulk discount. I got 33% off and a nice rubbermate container to take them away. Someone’s craft gone bad turned into my painting booty. SCORE!

Acrylic Paints

Lesson: Buy in bulk or bundle. The more you buy, the less the seller has to carry back into their house. When buying 5 or more items, always ask for a price break. On more than one occasion, after I paid for my purchase, the seller would remember another 1 or 2 items that went with what I was buying, find it for me, and give it to me.

A couple of weekends ago, I came across a honeyhole of jewelry. Unfortunately, the seller had lost his Mother and he was selling off all of the items the family did not want. I gathered several sterling charms, chains and complete necklaces along with some quality costume jewelry pieces. I asked him how much for everything and just when I was about to say a price, he said $3. OKAY!!! I was going to offer $5 and go up a bit if I had to.

Broken copper necklace

Broken copper necklace


Lesson: Let the seller offer the first price. You can always negotiate to get the price lower or accept the offer. By speaking first, you put a price in the seller’s head and worse, let them know how much it’s worth to you.

At a flea market, I picked up several necklaces and asked the seller how much? She quoted me anywhere from $5 – $10. I passed on them because all I really wanted was the chain. I kept searching and I came across a gorgeous brass linked chain, no pendent or findings. When I inquired about it, the seller said $1. That was the one piece I bought. I found a beautiful cooper chain with and ugly purse charm at another booth. The chain was broke. I asked the seller how much and when he noticed it was broke, he offered to give it to me. I gave him a quarter for the piece. I was just happy to get it. SMILE!

Brass chain

Lesson: Look for quality items that are broke and or missing a piece. Sellers will always make a deal on them or even give them to you. They feel a little guilty about broken items or items missing parts and this is your advantage. I ALWAYS buy single earrings. Most of the time, they will give it to me because there’s no match. If happens to be sterling or gold, I get it for fifty cents or less.

Sterling single earrings

I bought a perfect, unused wine bottle opener for ten cents last weekend. It was a garage/estate sale and the family members who were running the sale, had everything priced to go. Various candles and glass vases were 5 or 10 cents each.

Lesson: Carry change with you including dimes and nickles. People use the garage sale stickers and those packages includes 5 and 10 cent stickers. If you only have quarters, you are asking the seller to break a quarter or keep the change. The bad is that you buy additional items to use the entire quarter. It’s also good go carry ones and fives so that you can give exact change. It’s just bad karma to give someone a ten to pay when you bargained them down to seven. Twenties suck because you take all of the sellers change, making later sales harder when they have no ones or fives. Again, it’s a karma thing. DO NOT give someone a twenty when your purchase is less than $5.

Rule of Thumb: When you walk up to a sale in which clothing is on hangers and hung from sleeveless to long sleeves, every item including pencil erasers have tags on them, and items are organized on tables according to type and kind…BEWARE. This will be the sale with the highest prices (99% of time). You are buying their beloved items that they have decided to part with and are allowing you to have. There is a surcharge for them being so anal and taking the time to sort and price each perfectly intact individual item. This doesn’t mean there isn’t a deal, but it won’t be easy, proceed with caution.

Estate Sales: Put yourself on their mailing list so you know when they are happening. You also get to preview the items before the sale opens to the public. Keep a mental note of the items you are interested in when you do the walk-thru and only buy the ones you think are super duper special. Go the last day of the sale when everything is 50% – 75% off. That’s the deal day.

Chained, new earrings with brass, garnet and crystals

I wish you much luck and lots of fun when you go out and find your treasures. It doesn’t hurt to have a shopping list so you don’t get distracted by all of the deals you could make. When the sales aren’t all that great, don’t force it and buy something you may regret. Go to your local art supply, jewelry supply or craft store and check out what’s on sale. Window shop and gain inspiration to fuel your next g-sale outing!

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon!

Sprint to the Finish

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This is the time in the race when you get tired and your head is telling your body you’re not going to finish. This is the point where most hit the wall and stop running and begin walking or worse, quit completely. The one thing I know about the last 1-2 miles of a long race is that this is where you turn off your mind and let the training you’ve done for this event kick in!

Envy, glass beads and turquoise

I’ve been on a high getting my etsy shop up and my blog posts consistent. I’ve been creating about 6 new pieces a week and I’ve also honed in some new skills to get a better finished product. Creating a new jewelry piece is similar to a run. Your mind is always working, analyzing and taking notes. What are you doing, how are you doing, it it working? In essence, I’ve been practicing a lot rhe last few weeks.

Love Rules, glass beads and garnet

If you’ve ever done anything long enough to become good at it, you know that practice makes perfect. You also know that it is the most important part of being prepared when the time comes to perform. Easier said than done of course. The truth is training and practicing are boring. No one is watching and cheering you on. No one knows how long you’ve been doing it, or how much longer you have left. No medals, trophies or ribbons are awarded at the end of a practice session. Sayings such as “No pain, no gain” or “No one ever drowned in their own sweat.” become mantras. Honestly, my personal mantra is, “I am iron” or “I am steel” (It depends whether it’s a street run or trail run and how gritty and grimy I’m feeling.) Hey whatever works!

Now I find myself a little perplexed as to what to do next. My work ethic has always been strong and I don’t mind hard work and getting dirty. I know in my heart I’m doing what I’m supposed to be and the inspiration and the motivation to create are at a all time high. It’s hard to keeping going forward when you don’t see the rewards of your effort.

The tired feeling is looming and my head is trying to take over. The first of the walls is rising. I don’t want to start walking and I definitely don’t want to quit. Practice and training are in check and my body will do what it knows how to do. I will sprint to the finish and rock this new endeavor!

Old Fashion, glass beads and brass