Sunday, November 30, 2014

November Component of the Month Reveal!

I always look forward to reveal day but I am super excited to see what everyone has made with my components!

I do not have a reveal as while I was finishing it a surprising thing happened that I can not reveal at this time!

Here is the list of participants...

Cindy Martin Shaw
Shai Williams
Karen Martinez

Linda Landig
Caroline Dewison
Francesca Watson
Jenny Davies-Reazor
Lindsay Starr
Jennifer Cameron

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Re-Runs are fun!

Hello dear readers!  I hope all you Stateside friends had a very Happy Thanksgiving and you international ones are having a wonderful weekend!  I, myself, had a very low-key day with my little family, enjoying fabulous food and family time.  Some of our favorite things to do as a family is watch old re-runs of movies or tv shows.  For today's post, I decided to stay low-key and share a favorite  "re-run" tutorial of mine...double headpins.  By the way, did you know you can find all our amazing AJE tutorials at one place?  There is a tab at the top of our page called "Tutorials and Favorite Pages"...just click on it to find this wealth of information!


For today's installment of Saturday Share, I decided to write up a quick and easy tutorial for the double headpins (for lack of a better name) that I use in connecting components, such as layered pieces or discs.  I have had several folks ask how certain pieces are connected and I thought this would be a good forum to share!

After struggling with balled headpins in connecting layered pieces and discs, I had a brainstorm one day.  What if, instead of balling up the end of 1 piece of wire, I somehow melted/fused 2 pieces so that I could use both "tails" to better stabilize my components to the base?  Imagine my surprise, that after twisting the wire together and sticking it in the torch, just like normal torched headpins, it worked!

Here is my method...start with a piece of copper wire.  I like 22 or 20 gauge.  Fold it in half, press together and twist until you have about an inch twisted.  Torch until you have the size ball you  want, quench, and untwist! Simple, huh!

It really is!  Things to watch for...make sure the wire is touching throughout your twist. Any segments that do not fully come into contact with the other wire will melt through, leaving you with a single pin, or worse, will cause the balled-end to fall off.  If you are using scrap wire, you don't have to loop at the end, just twist the 2 together, but make sure the very tips are touching. 

If you want to enamel the ball, do so as you would with regular torched pins, before you quench.

I thought this would only work with copper or fine silver, due to their fusing capabilities, but decided to try sterling silver and it works!  It also works with brass/bronze.

Layer your components in your desired configuration...thread double headpin through the holes and make sure you have a good fit.

With these 1-holed components, I wrapped the tails around my base form...usually in the opposite direction for a stronger and closer connection.

When I use a flat base to connect to, like these earrings, I like to punch 2 holes, like a button, and thread each tail through their respective holes, then on the back, flatten them and tightly coil them.  Since the ends are exposed with this method, you have to make sure any sharp edges or burs are filed.  I squeeze with my nylon-jawed pliers to work harden, then I usually tumble to strengthen as well.

There you have it!! I am sure that I am not the 1st one to figure this out!!  It is a really versatile technique and can be used in all sorts of ways!  I want to try fusing several strands together and do some wire weaving, but that's another day!

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ is a pair of earrings where I connected the center bead with a headpin that I created by fusing 5(!) strands of wire.  I used 26 gauge wire so that all strands would fit through the bead, the spread each strand apart to wrap around the five petals of the flower.

P.S.  Don't forget about the wonderful online sales that several AJE team members have going on this weekend.  Sue compiled the shop links and coupon codes here!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Freeform Friday - Fade to Black

Happy Thanksgiving to you all! 
Turkey leftovers, anyone? 

I write this from my home office, in my Pj's (still) savoring a cup of coffee. Clearly I do not subscribe to the Black Friday sale madness that takes hold of many... I may take advantage of sales today - online though, from the comfort of my home! I often go out for Small Business Saturday, stroll my town's Main Street, and support the independent businesses there. And I have a local show this Sunday - so I hope people are shopping local!

Earlier this week Sue posted about AJE members having sales. Please feel free to support your favorite small business artists and designers. And there is the Beads of Courage Charm auction too - great hand made pieces to use in your handmade gifts this holiday season. 

I make many of the gifts each year for my friends and family. That's no surprise - I'm a full time artist, its my job! But this holds true I am sure for my AJE teammates as well. Ceramic pottery, hand knit creations, baked goods, artwork... I know we are a diversely talented bunch. My sisters and I tried to go completely handmade a few years back. Easy for me... my older sister sews and embroiders. She also tried her hand at homemade body scrubs and bath salts. ( I didn't get any. She wouldn't ship them from NM to DE). My younger sister, the full time lawyer with small children? She ROCKED homemade! Baked dog biscuits, homemade vanilla extract, and the best cloth shopping bags from vintage teeshirts! Often the most memorable isn't high in price, just highly personal... 

Here is a great article that Anne of Gardanne beads shared on FB: "My anti-retail Christmas". I think I may go hit some thrift stores and antique stores this weekend for treasures to redo/embellish/rejuvenate! What kinds of hand made gifts are YOU doing this year? 

If you are shopping for supplies for a handmade Holiday - here are a few sales I noticed in my in-box: 
Caroline's NEW shop - The Artisan Bead Company - 20% code MERRYCHRISTMAS20 - sale markdowns
Fusion Beads - 20% off code: TURKEY
Silver Crow Creations ( collage, ephemera, found objects) 30% code THANKS
Dakota Stones ( wholesale only) markdowns on site

THIS JUST IN: Beadfest workshops discounted! ( Santa Fe and Spring/Philly) Just use the code BLACKFRI14 when registering for any workshop and you can take:
$40 off 2-day workshops
$25 off 6-hour workshops (Why YES - I have a polymer mixed media class on the books!) 
$15 off 3- and 4-hour workshops

Have a great weekend whether you are in or out, at work or play!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Testing, testing...

I’d like to start off today’s post by wishing all our U.S. readers a Happy Thanksgiving day! I hope you have a wonderful celebration!

I’ve had a pretty hectic couple of weeks with not much time for making, but I have slowly been working on some new ideas here and there in-between jobs. I hope it won’t be too boring to share some of what I’ve been doing with you today! 

I wrote a post a few weeks ago about my tests with masking glazes in raku firings and have been continuing with these as well as trying to introduce some colour in to my work. I’d read somewhere that you can use just about any glaze for raku firing, so I started off with some of my earthenware glazes. I glazed, fired and cooled them and eagerly scrubbed the muck off them to see what wonders I’d created… they all looked dreadful! Different colours seemed to work at different temperatures, although they all fire together in a standard earthenware glaze firing. There is no sense to ceramic work sometimes! 

So undeterred, I decided to try another approach. Using underglazes. These are by Chrysanthos and fire to a matt finish. The colours are stable from cone 06 to cone 6, so have a wide range with good consistency. I had an idea that I might be able to use these for the colour and cover them with a clear crackle varnish which would make them glossy, and more importantly produce a uniform finish that could be controlled with mixed firings.

With my various tests in masking, I found that wax resist worked really well, the only down side was that the smoke wouldn’t penetrate where the resist had burned out to colour the clay. So I mixed some black underglaze into the resist and painted my lines with that. 

As the wax is waterproof you can paint right over the top of it with your glazes which will be repelled, (good if you're a messy painter like me!) but as the wax burns away, you will still be left with a nice dark line from the underglaze after firing and the same recess and edge between the glazes.

The different areas were painted

The whole thing was given a coat of clear crackle glaze.

And fired…

My favourite of the batch...

I’m fairly pleased with how these have turned out, I think the colours need a little more blending to tone them down a touch. I added a colour reference in to this firing, so in principle, I should be able to mix any colour I want!

I also decided to have a try at colouring one of my new design of figures… Mr Fox.

I’m really pleased with how he turned out, so today, I’ll be making him some friends!

Thanks for reading,

Enjoy the rest of your day!


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Get in on the art charm action

The art charm swap and Beads of Courage charity auction is an annual event that spans 3 months every autumn. It starts with an invitation to sign up the first week of September. Every participant that signs up agrees to make 10 charms to swap, and one charm to donate for the auction.

Charm by Michelle McCarthy

After everyone has signed up, they get to work coming up with a design that will fit the theme. The theme for 2014 was "soar."

Charms are due to me by mid-October. Once I have them, they are spread out, sorted, packed up, and shipped to their new homes. 

This was my project for the week. Sorting more than 400 art charms and shipping them all over the United States plus England, Canada, Australia, and Slovenia.

Once that job is complete, I start photographing and editing the photos for the auction. The auction runs before/concurrent with the Thanksgiving holiday so that these miniature pieces of art can be given as a gift, made into an ornament, or into wine glass markers. Or simply worn on a chain.

Charm by Mallory Hoffman

After the auction is over, I get to package up the charms and send them to their new homes.

Charm by Niky Sayers

Charm by Jenny Davies Reazor

Why do I go to all this time and trouble? I've been doing swaps like this for years. I have always  enjoyed what came out of it. A few years ago I decided I wanted an extra element...something to make it more wonderful than it already was (because what could be better than getting charms from fellow creatives?) That's when I had the inspiration to add the charity auction. And Beads of Courage is an organization I think any bead lover and/or person who loves children will readily support.

Charm by Lesley Watt

Charm by Sue Kennedy

Unfortunately I was unable to participate in the swap this year. I did, however, make a single hot air ballon charm for the auction.

Charm by me (Jen Cameron)
The auction is a culmination of hours of hard work, and I absolutely believe we're going to break our previous fundraising efforts. Last year it was $1500. You can be rest assured that 100% goes to Beads of Courage. So bid high and bid often. It goes to a great cause. And in case you've missed the subtle hints to visit the auction page, here's the link: AUCTION 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Holiday Savings from AJE To You!

In appreciation of all our wonderful customers and readers, many AJE contributors are running Thanksgiving/Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday sales!  Here's a list of who's running sales and the coupon codes and links all set up for you! All you have to do is click to shop - and remember to enter the coupon codes for substantial savings!

Lesley Watt is offering 25% off in both of her etsy stores - TheaElements and TheaJewellery - with the coupon code SANTA25 from November 28 - December 1.

Diana Ptaszynski is offering 20% off in her Suburban Girl Studio etsy store with the coupon code TURKEY14 from November 28 - December 1.

Linda Landig is offering 20% off in her Linda Landig Jewelry etsy store with the coupon code TURKEY14 from November 27 - December 1.

Susan Kennedy is offering 25% off in her SueBeads etsy store with the coupon code TURKEY14 from November 27 - December 1.

Rebekah Payne is offering 20% off in her Tree Wings Studio etsy store with the coupon code THANKYOU2014 from November 27 - December 1.

Kristi Bowman-Gruel is offering 20% off on and her EtsyShop with coupon code THANKYOU20 from November 27 - December 1.

Melissa Meman is offering 20% off in her Melismatic Art Jewelry shop with coupon code TURKEY14 from November 27 - December 1.

Karen Totten is offering a 25% discount in her Starry Road Studio shops (at both IndieMade
and Etsy) with code TURKEY25.

Please take advantage of these sales and remember to shop small businesses and artisans this holiday season!