31 December 2008

A Tale of Two Hearts

The most recent issue of Art Jewelry Magazine contained a small teaser for the next issue, which will feature a simple wirework heart pin by Sharilyn Miller. I don't usually recreate any magazine projects, but I HAD to make this pin. And I had to make it for Christmas! As usual, I used the photo as a guide and made my own version with no further instruction.

I wanted to post these photos when I finished making the pin on the 24th, but didn't want to ruin the surprise just in case the intended recipient decided to read my blog on Christmas eve (Hi Mary!). I am sure I'll make another (or three or four) when the March issue comes out.

Posted by Jan Raven on http://wovenwire.blogspot.com.
If you are seeing this on MakingWireJewelryBlog.com, know that this content is being lifted without permission or attribution to the real author (me!). Unethical at best and possibly a violation of copyright and of U.S. law (the Digital Millennium Copyright Act). If you really want to learn how to make wire jewelry, please go to JewelryLessons.com and support actual artists!

17 December 2008

My First Rivets

The title for this post sounds like the title for a children's book, which I think is appropriate since my first project made me jump up and down with child-like glee. I couldn't bear to wait for my new tools to arrive, so I rummaged around to see what I could do with what I had. Basically, I have a lot of wire and a lot of construction materials.

I found a scrap of thin wood, drew a somewhat random pattern, and cut out the rough shape using a coping saw. I dragged out my new and unused Dremel with a flexshaft attachment, added a sanding drum, and had a blast refining the wood shape. I wanted to try putting some flush rivets of copper in the wood base, but decided I better just start with an ordinary rivet with mushroom heads.

My woodworking dowels have an interesting spiral groove (for holding glue). I resisted the urge to lay in some wire (too obvious for now), and decided to rivet this to my wood base after flattening the bottom on sandpaper first. I had issues attaching the dowel to the base. I wanted to use 14 gauge copper wire (that is all I have) with a balled head on top of the bare wood, but I could not get the copper to ball up. I switched to Argentium wire (balls up just fine), then decided the color contrast with copper would be nice, meaning making copper "washers," and why use plain copper when heat-treated copper yields such nice red-pick colors? So my washers are randomly shaped pieces of heat-treated 28 gauge copper sheet. They kind of look like leather.

My drill bit died, so I couldn't drill holes in the copper, but I managed to make holes by using an awl to deform the sheet, file down the bulge, push out again with the awl, file again. This worked extremely well! I love creative problem-solving!! The part of the project that made me jump up and down was the tube rivet at the top. This was just the coolest thing ever! I think these will start showing up in my work.

I have been "absorbing" information about riveting for several months now, but I have to thank three sources for finally pushing me to actually try it: craftcast.com, Robert Dancik, and Janice Fowler. Craftcast.com hosted the live online workshop with Robert Dancik that I wrote about yesterday, and last week I bought a very nice tutorial on tube rivets from metalsmith, Janice Fowler. All great sources!!

16 December 2008

Online workshop with Robert Dancik

Last night I "attended" a live online workshop with jewelry artist Robert Dancik on making cold connections (wire rivets, tube rivets, making tabs, countersinking rivets). It was inspiring, informative, and a blast to attend (even though my browser froze twice and I had to force quit and restart). I have tried to teach myself these techniques before, but never quite "got it." Robert's oversize models were brilliant, and cleared up the questions I didn't even know I had! His teaching style is very laid-back, which I enjoyed immensely. You kind of had to have a laid-back attitude about the whole event, since the computer and phone connections were acting up for various people all evening. There were people attending from all over the world, which I still find absolutely fascinating. The class was hosted by Alison at craftcast.com, and she did a great job trying to keep everyone together and dealing with issues of connection as they were "voiced" in the chat room. I feel lucky to have attended, since I didn't even find out about this workshop until Sunday! I just happened to catch a post about it on the Daily Art Muse (my favorite blog!). I am now full of ideas, and only lack some of the tools needed to bring those ideas to life. Today I will order some tools (bench pin, jeweler's saw and blades, super small drill bits), and in the meantime will just practice the techniques. Hopefully, I will have some new work to post in a few days!!

15 December 2008

Winter Dance Out

Last Saturday, December 13th, was largely devoted to dancing with friends. Several of the local winter dance groups got together to tour in Northfield, MN, with a wonderful final stop at The Contented Cow, an English-style pub, where they had very, very good pasties! The teams on this tours were Shortsword (the rapper sword team I dance with), Great Northern Border, Crosby Lake Clatterers (Lancashire clog), Guyz With Tiez (longsword), and the host team, Wild Rose (longsword). Somehow, I managed to get photos only of Great Northern, Crosby Lake, and the Guyz. If someone sends me photos of Wild Rose and Shortsword, I'll post them later. We'll all be touring again in about a month when Shortsword hosts a pub crawl in downtown St. Paul.

06 December 2008

Tutorial for Viking Knitting

After the crazy show schedule of November (three four-day shows in a row is exhausting), I thought that my life would slow down. Silly me! After I returned home from Chicago, I had to readjust to being home, which meant grocery shopping, cleaning the house (both abandoned in early October), and retrieving my pets from their gracious hosts (Thank you Darcy, Paul, and Audrey!). Then came Thanksgiving cooking! Strange to think that was only last week! Since last Friday I have spent about 70 hours working on the computer, updating the website, writing a tutorial, taking photos, uploading photos, editing photos in Photoshop, continuing to work on the tutorial, updating the website again, taking and editing more photos, and preparing a portfolio for a professional art consultation. It really does feel like the past week has lasted an entire month.

The tutorial on which I have been working so hard is on the Viking knit technique. I have been wanting to put this together since last August, but well, if you've read this far you know why it hasn't been done. I finally got it done, however, and I must say that I think I succeeded in making it the most detailed and comprehensive tutorial on the technique in existence. The document has nearly 80 photos of every (EVERY) step, including how to get started, various stitch patterns, dealing with mistakes, how to maintain an even distribution of stitches, two ways to finish chains, and a short project (hoop earrings) that can be worked up quickly. It is the next best thing to actually taking a class from me. You can find the tutorial (for $10) at either JewelryLessons.com or on my website. Way cheaper than a class! If you have been intrigued by Viking knitting, I invite you to check it out. If you have taken a class already, but didn't have much success with the technique, this tutorial may help you succeed. I have been working extensively with the Viking knit technique for nearly seven years, and feel my years of experience and experimentation make me qualified to present this tutorial. Check out my website and see if you don't agree!

Posted by Jan Raven on http://wovenwire.blogspot.com. If you are seeing this on MakingWireJewelryBlog.com, know that this content is being lifted without permission or attribution to the real author (me!). Unethical at best and possibly a violation of copyright and of U.S. law (the Digital Millennium Copyright Act). If you really want to learn how to make wire jewelry, please go to JewelryLessons.com and support actual artists!

19 November 2008

A Brief Note - I am Published!

Ok, the first time I was published was in a scientific journal. This time it is a tutorial for my Viking Knit bead caps in the December 2009 issue of Step-by-Step Wire. Page 36. Check it out.

Now I have 10 minutes left this morning to load the truck and leave for the craft show in Chicago. Later!!

18 November 2008

Too busy

It may sound strange, but I feel like I have been too busy to even post about being too busy! In mid-October I went to The War Eagle Fair in NW Arkansas, which was a tremendous success. Sales were excellent and people seemed very appreciative of my work. I camped in the open field provided for artists, as is usual for me, but I have to admit that next year I may consider getting a motel room. Nights can be cold and are very, VERY damp! By itself, this isn't really a problem, but it does get old after four nights.

Anyway, sales were so good that I had to work like crazy once I got home to get ready for the three four-day shows that I had scheduled in November. All three are put on by Huffman Productions, and have a reputation for high sales. I only had 10 days to resupply! I went to the first show in Omaha, hoping I would be able to get through the three shows with the inventory I had. Unfortunately, it now turns out that I have enough inventory. Way more than enough. Omaha was disappointing and the big show I just finished in Shakopee (MN) was downright awful. The only thing different from previous years is the economy. Many artists and crafters I talked to commented on how dramatically sales have decreased. I have one more to do (Chicago), and then after that....nothing. I had planned on taking most of December off to recover (my hands, wrists, and forearms need a break!) and then using January through March to develop new work and to begin to build my inventory for the spring shows. I still need the break, but now I am beginning to look at getting the season started in March instead of April. More later next week.

12 October 2008

Hammered Hearts Earrings

I subscribe to two magazines that contain jewelry projects, Step-by-Step Wire and Art Jewelry Magazine, and I while I study the articles, I rarely do any of them. Here is an exception. The Summer Preview 2008 issue of Step-by-Step Wire had a nice project by Sharilyn Miller that I finally played with this week. I found immediately that I didn't like the way the heart shape as she made it flowed into the earring hook portion, so I substituted my current method for making fibula pins. I also did a lot more hammering of the heart shape.

The leaf background shows the strange way my sugar maple is turning this year. I have never seen this pattern of green/yellow/orange/red in a single leaf before. These beautiful leaves are dropping from a single branch of my tree; the rest of the tree is still dark green. Go figure!

Posted by Jan Raven on http://wovenwire.blogspot.com. If you are seeing this on MakingWireJewelryBlog.com, know that this content is being lifted without permission or attribution to the real author (me!). Unethical at best and possibly a violation of copyright and of U.S. law (the Digital Millennium Copyright Act). If you really want to learn how to make wire jewelry, please go to JewelryLessons.com and support actual artists!

08 October 2008

Explorations in Foldforming

Here is my latest new book, Foldforming, by Charles Lewton-Brain.

An example project from the book was recently published in Art Jewelry Magazine, and while I didn't pay much attention to it on my first pass, a subsequent reading of that issue had me intrigued. Book in hand, I used the tools (20 oz. carpenter's hammer) and materials (28 gauge copper sheet) I had on hand for my first try at the "Romero fold." The resulting leaf shape has some interesting texture, but there were some issues. First, a carpenter's hammer is most definitely NOT the right tool for the job. Second, properly forming the copper requires that it is annealed, which my sheet was not, after the first few hammer blows. I had never done any annealing, so didn't really think about it.

After I ordered and received the proper hammer for the job, I tried again, this time annealing the copper periodically. I made a few ruffles (one of which I am making into an experimental pin), and more interestingly, a Rueger fold. That last one was fun! I successfully applied flux to the copper to prevent firescale, and successfully annealed the copper several times, allowing the copper to begin curling and flaring with successive hammer blows.

07 October 2008

A Birthday Present!

About two weeks ago I found a wonderful new blog (Daily Art Muse) that instantly became a favorite of mine, so much so that I put it on my Bookmarks Bar immediately. This blog is full, FULL of little introductions to some amazing artists, in all genres. I try to visit every day, to check on new posts, and to troll through the previous two years of posts. This always eats a fair amount of time, because I am compelled to visit the various artist websites that are referenced in the posts. Anyway, last Sunday I checked in and found that the Daily Art Muse was celebrating a birthday, and that Susan (Da Muse, herself) was going to give six art books to a random person chosen from amongst those who commented on the blog post. Well, who wouldn't post a comment with that kind of incentive? Turns out, there were 92 comments, so Susan used an online random number generator to pick the winner, who turned out to be me! I am so thrilled about this! I feel like I am a sponge right now, soaking up inspiration, techniques, books, tools, magazines, web links, and more inspiration. If you have read some of my posts from earlier in the summer, you'll know what I am talking about!

Next week I am off to northwest Arkansas to attend the War Eagle Fair, so when I return I can look forward to a Birthday Present to unpack and dream over.....

06 October 2008

Yearly Drug Fix

Autumn is my favorite time of year, but it seems to be the shortest of all the seasons, at least here in central Minnesota, so I have to take in as much as I can while the leaves are around. Last Saturday was a beautiful sunny day that turned surprisingly warm. The outlook for the upcoming week looked rainy, so I took most of the day to go hiking with Morgan in the woods. On a whim, I drove over an hour north just to go walking for three hours. I don't drive much during the week, so I figured I could splurge on the gas. We went to Banning State Park and had a great time. Well, I did. I am sure Morgan would have preferred to be off-leash, but this was a State Park, not a National Forest! As you can see, I compromise with a thirty foot line (not kidding!).

Enjoy the walk through the park!

30 September 2008

Woven Set

Just showing a set. The earrings are based on some doodling in a sketchbook, the pin followed, and I made a pendant last week. I don't know why I love the earring shape so much, but I do. I also really enjoy this weaving pattern; very mesmerizing.

Charm Swap - "Autumn"

This photo is an overview of the 15 charms I made for a charm swap through the Yahoo group, Wire Wrap Jewelry. Clearly, my charms are not primarily wire-wrapped! I signed up for the swap at about the time I got my two new books, Wrap, Stitch, Fold & Rivet, and Foldforming, so I felt distinctly inspired by those two. The swap theme was "Autumn" and I envisioned forms based on milkweed pods and "sewn" closed with wire, with fluffy seeds, represented by more wire, erupting from them. A few of the first charms I made follow this vision. Then I noticed that some of the pieces began to resemble footballs -- Autumn again! I couldn't bring myself to make the same thing twice, so every charm is unique and represented a chance for me to explore and play with new techniques. Of all the pieces, I am quite taken with the two that have short lengths of silver wire penetrating the copper, balled at each end. I love the look and the fact that the little wires move back and forth. Expect to see more explorations of this technique when I have more time to play in the winter! I have already filled a few pages of my sketchbook with design ideas.

27 September 2008

Fall Colors on the Prairie

Last weekend I took Morgan for a walk at Carleton College's Cowling Arboretum, and the prairie was so magnificent that I had to go back to take pictures. Yesterday was, in all probability, the last day of Indian Summer here in Minnesota, with a high in the mid-80's, and was gorgeous! Morgan ran for about 15 minutes before being overcome with the heat, so she walked nicely on leash for the rest of the outing.

The "Arb," as it is known on campus, stretches along the Cannon River and ranges from floodplain forest to oak savannah to tall-grass prairie. This last area is what interested me the most on this trip. When I was at Carleton 23 years ago the prairie consisted only of a hillside that began to be restored in the 1970's. Work on this area continued, and restoration of nearby areas that were originally oak savannah began in the 80's. I didn't pay much attention to further restoration efforts, so I was amazed and delighted to see that prairie restoration has exploded. When I was there in the mid-80's, Carleton owned a lot of land that was still used for crop production, but apparently not only has the land been taken out of production, but it has been aggressively restored with prairie plants. The scope of restoration, given the small hillside they started with, is breathtaking! And at this time of year, a visual delight! The photos don't really do justice to the riot of color and texture on the landscape. Remember, 20 years ago these were cornfields.

Here are a few macro shots I took of some of the prairie plants. I used to know my plants fairly well, but I have no idea what the last one it! I've never seen it before. Looks like I'll have to ask the Arb Director....

25 September 2008

A Nod to Iza

LinkThis fibula pin was done as a study of Iza Malczyk's work. I love her style and wanted to do make a piece that incorporated some of the techniques she uses. The woven bead cap (second from the right), in particular, is her innovation. I followed the tutorial published in Step-by-Step Wire (Summer 2007), except that I used 28 gauge Argentium silver instead of 30 gauge fine silver for the weaving. Every other aspect of the work consists of common techniques, but I tried to emulate the way she combines shape and texture. Overall, I like how it turned out, except that I feel it is unbalanced; I wish the large loop on the right were smaller. I think this was also the first time I oxidized my silver. As you can see, Argentium may be tarnish resistant, but is certainly not tarnish-proof, and so can certainly be oxidized. The beads in the pin are (from left to right): faceted glass, amethyst, sugilite, and amethyst. I worked on this over the course of about a month in the spring, but only just thought about posting a photo here.

24 September 2008

Tornado Hoops with Turquoise

These are my version of a pair of earrings I admired on JewelryLessons.com. The artist's version is full of color and utterly delicious; I love them. I don't have many small gemstone rounds or rondelles right now, however, so I used some of the smallest turquoise chips that I have. The silver was oxidized then buffed. This is also the first time I have made closed hoops. I have no idea why it has taken me so long!

A New Tool

The great thing about working construction for 13 years was that I got to buy (and use!) power tools. I sure miss that aspect of the work. There is nothing like looking at all the options at the world's best tool store, bringing your choice home, and plugging it in for the first time. After years of use, these tools become as familiar as an old flannel shirt. Now I hardly see them anymore. Sigh. Making jewelry, at least so far, hasn't involved much in the way of tools. Sure, I've spent a fair amount of money on pliers and cutters with comfortable handles, but it just isn't the same. But I'm expanding my techniques, and for that I bought a hammer. A really, really nice hammer! My "hammer-arm" misses the work and is ready! This is a thing of beauty. The handle is silky-smooth and the head has the most fascinating curves. I will be wielding this hammer to whack the hell out of sheets of copper and silver! Be forewarned that I have another new book and intend to play!

18 September 2008

Obtuse Systems

I have been trying to pay my Illinois Sales Tax for almost a week, but their obtuse filing system is testing me! Their webfile system does not allow the user (me) to add locations, which should be dead easy to do! Instead, I have to call an office (multiple times since the line was busy; apparently they haven't figured out call waiting) and request that the location be added. The woman said it may take 24 hours to show up online. That was three days ago! What is the problem? No other state I have dealt with has such a convoluted sales tax system. Plus, I have to file every month, even though so far, I have only had two shows in IL all year. I hope they get with the program and put me on an annual filing status for next year (assuming they even allow that!).

OK. I am done venting now.

15 September 2008

Viking Knit Order

I took some pics of this piece before mailing it off to its proud new owner. This chain is woven with 66 feet of 24 gauge 14kt. gold-fill wire, all single-knit stitch. I usually make my own hooks, but the client specifically requested the lobster claw. This took a long time to weave, but I very much like the impressive "presence" that the finished piece has.

14 September 2008

Tick Check

After a little outpatient surgery on Friday I found these guys all over me. They are for the EKG leads, and I found three of them on my chest once I was home and alert enough to care. They are really soft and quite imperceptible. So much so that after spending a few hours on the couch watching TV, and then napping for a few more hours (laying on my side), I discovered yet another of these attached to my left side. Really couldn't feel it at all! Just like ticks....

12 September 2008

Project Three-Shelf Earrings

I didn't care much for the Shelf Pendant in Wrap, Stitch, Fold & Rivet, but I could see earrings quite clearly, so that is what I did. I love how these turned out! I did a strange thing when applying a heat patina to the copper: I applied the butane torch flame horizontally to the copper sheet (as opposed to perpendicular) and then I quenched the metal in the nearest source of water, my cat's water dish. I suspect the organic material in the water caused the interesting green flashes of color. I don't really know if that is true, but I do know that the coloring on this pair of earrings is more interesting than for Project Two! I could actually read about applying a heat patina, but so far just playing with it is kind of fun!

The silver is Argentium, so no fire scale or need for flux when balling the ends of the wire. The twisted wires at the top are scraps from other projects which I pulled out of the refining bin.

Working through the projects in this book is distracting me from getting ready for my Oct-Nov show schedule! Must pace myself.....but it is so fun to explore new techniques!!!

11 September 2008

Project Two-Folded Earrings

I actually began the Jewelry Challenge with this project, and not the Spinner Pendant. The copper sheet could have been heat-treated to make nice colors a bit more, but I am still learning! Anyone who is a fan of Battlestar Galactica might recognize something familiar about the front flaps....leave me a comment if you know what it is! The pearls (3/earring) were put together on headpins months ago for a design that didn't work out; they've been sitting on my desk ever since, waiting for their moment. I think the space I left inside the fold is a bit too small, but on the other hand, they ARE extremely cute. In fact, I am wearing them right now! I made the earwires a bit more "creatively" than I usually do, and I quite like them.

I have decided that they look like tiny purses with treasure tucked inside.

Project One-Spinner Necklace

A few days ago I said I had some new work to post, and here it is. Last week I got the new book by Mary Hettmansperger, Wrap, Stitch, Fold & Rivet, which is all about using wire, sheet metal, and cold connections. While the work in the book has a very different "feel" from the work I do now, I find it compelling. My work tends to be very orderly, controlled, and symmetrical; I want to push myself to create with a little less order, and to explore new avenues. It just so happens that right after getting the book I stumbled upon Deryn Mentock's blog, and the jewelry challenge she is involved in to work through the projects in Mary's book. Great!! I am thrilled to participate, so here is my first project.

I have actually used five different metals for this project. The gold-color discs are brass. The large square has been textured with a ball pein hammer, while the front round has been domed with a dapping block. The silver-color triangle is galvanized steel flashing (I have lots of that from my days in construction!); I will be buying silver sheet later this week. The steel has been textured with an awl. The spacers between the large discs are copper coils, the Bali beads are sterling silver, and finally, the silver coils and the main wire are Argentium silver.

This was fun! You'll notice, however, that I still felt compelled toward bilateral symmetry....

Look What I Found!!

I was rummaging around my cluttered basement last night and found this guy! I made this years and years ago, way before I ever made any jewelry! You see, it all started with just playing around with iron wire. I forgot about this lizard, but now he will sit on top of my computer.

10 September 2008

Some Eye Candy

I keep thinking about posting, but life get so amazingly busy, that it drops off the end of the "to do" list. I have some new work to post, but no photos yet, so in the mean time, enjoy the Eye Candy!! Honestly, the gemstones look like real candy!!

27 August 2008

I love chiropractors

For the past two weeks I have been doing a whole lot of, well, nearly nothing, in an effort to rest my wrists and hands. I had a summer full of shows, and tried very hard to pace myself when it came to restocking inventory and working on special orders. I thought I had managed myself well, but two weeks ago (just before the last of the summer shows) my wrists just went "bad." The onset of symptoms seemed sudden, and I sure hoped it wasn't the beginnings of carpal tunnel. I needed time off anyway, so I tried very hard to do as little as possible, just working on the few orders I had from my last three shows. Unfortunately, it seemed like the less I did, the worse the wrists felt. Yesterday I finally went to my chiropractor. Why, oh why didn't I just go right away? While not "well," my hands feel immensely better. Plus, I understand what is going on in my wrists and I have a strategy for counteracting what the bones in my forearm are doing. Now I just need to get through one show in September, one long show in October, and then the November onslaught.....

While "resting" I got myself to the Minnesota State Fair, which I absolutely love and have missed for the past two years. I spent the entire day and still didn't get to the animal barns, so I will have to go back in the next few days. Darn, looks like I'll have to get the Tom Thumb mini-donuts again! Maybe I will also try two of the new food offerings this year: chocolate-covered key lime pie on-a-stick, and something called "piglickers" which sounds intriguing enough to try (Neuskies smoked bacon covered in super-dark chocolate and sprinkled with a spicy-salt mix). Strangely, not on a stick (I think). I think I gained a few pounds just by writing about that food!

I have also been busy with the camera and the keyboard, writing articles and tutorials for a new website, now out of beta-testing, called JewelryLessons.com. This site was put together and is administered by the well known wire jewelry artist, Eni Oken. I am so grateful to have been included in the beta testing. Go take a look! The offerings are still being fleshed out, so visit frequently to see how it changes. So far I have written a tutorial on the Spiral Earrings, Tumble polishing your work, and articles on doing and finding art fairs. I am working on a photo-dense tutorial for Viking knitting.

13 August 2008

Viking Knit set with green pearls

Here are the Viking knit pieces that won me First in Jewelry at the Amish Acres Arts and Crafts Fair, as I posted earlier. The necklace came first, and I originally intended to have all the smaller, darker green pearls to the outside and the larger, lighter green pearls together in the center of the piece, a graduation in size as I usually do with white pearls. Before I began weaving, however, the pearl strands sat around on my work table and while absentmindedly playing with them I saw the alternating size/color option and decided I might like that better. And I sure do like it better!

The bracelet also represents the first bracelet of this type. I have never liked bracelets made using the Viking weave, mostly because the weave naturally wants to stick out straight at the ends, making it extremely difficult to operate any kind of latch or hook. This open weave is a bit more forgiving, and the large "signature" hooks that I make allow one person (me, as the resident product tester) to hook the bracelet with one hand. It is definitely a bit trickier than my other bracelets, but still doable. These look nice on the arm and -Bonus!- the hook looks cool too so it doesn't really matter which side is showing.