I never quite know what to tell people who ask how my jewelry business is going. Actually, more frequently it’s something like, “Are you still doing that beading thing?” I usually end up saying something like, “It’s going really well, thanks!” and leave out the fact that I managed to nap every afternoon during my first trimester and still managed to crank out a successful spring line (which is now mostly gone, sorry!). I am so thankful for the gals at Simply Charming Boutique in downtown Winchester for doing such a great job of selling my pieces.
You may remember in the fall I switched gears to focus on two new lines, Facets and Elements. They both did really well over Christmas. I expected there to be the typical lull during the winter before working on spring, and considering the crazy metals market (silver doubled in the past year) I figured sales would taper off. But every month (instead of every quarter) I’ve had to restock my collection and I’m finally starting to realize that I don’t get to be the Lazy Jewelry Gal any more. I still get to dabble a little in new techniques (like resin and polymer clay) but gone are the days when I get to chronicle every activity on my blog or upload pictures of my inventory. To my out-of-town readers, I apologize for keeping all my jewelry captive in the Shenandoah Valley, but I guarantee if you come visit you will have a beautiful trip. This summer I am going to try to work ahead a little and build a collection for fall & Christmas, and once that’s underway I will try to post some pictures, but come October I may be off the grid for a while because we’re expecting another baby. !!!
So… I may not get around to posting anything new from my studio, but AnneMade Jewelry doing well and I’m still having fun!
My friend Trice, who sews and will monogram anything that isn’t nailed down (and does a great job), sent me this picture and asked if I could make her one. I could tell it is a copper pendant, most likely etched. In theory I can do copper etching, and I have the bookmarked web pages to prove it, but in reality I had never tried it. Most of my customers want this type of look in silver, so I normally use PMC with a custom texture sheet. (Note to self: write a tutorial for that.)
I wanted to try salt water etching because I aim to be The Lazy Etcher, so I’d prefer to just pour the solution in the sink when I’m finished and “chase it down with plenty of water,” as my organic chem professor used to say. I dragged my husband, whom I met in that o-chem lab, to Radio Shack to obtain a single D cell battery holder and a couple of alligator clips. I noted that The Shack also carries ferric chloride in case this method didn’t work. (Ferric chloride just needs baking soda to neutralize it anyway, not that bad.) I also noted the irony that it’s usually the husband dragging the wife to Radio Shack. Thank you for not being an electronics geek, sweetie.
Which of these does not belong?
Well, they all do in this case. After sanding a piece of 24ga copper with steel wool I cleaned it with acetone (okay, nail polish remover), then alcohol. I freehanded the monogram with a Sharpie, which didn’t look awesome but this was just a test run anyway. I put a spot of nail polish in the margin to note the difference in masking quality. I wrapped the back and edges of the copper in duct tape to keep them from being eaten away, then I cut another piece of copper to be the cathode. A spoonful of salt, a glass of warm water, and some wirework skills to attach the clips to the leads on the battery. Clippy clippy, dunk dunk, battery in, and I was in business. Bubbles started forming on the cathode, which was a good sign. After about 10 minutes brown sludge appeared around the anode side (another good sign). After 20 minutes I still wasn’t seeing much etching going on, so I added more salt.
I let it go for over an hour (instructions found on the web suggested etching for 5-60 minutes), then used acetone to clean off the resist. My design was still shiny while the negative space was matte, which indicated that my resist was working, but there was no cut (nothing was really etched away). Stay tuned for Round 2
I loathe using my jeweler’s saw. I will use cutters or shears as much as I can, and only then I will saw. It just seems so inefficcient! Rrr-rrr-rrr-rrr…. Today I was cutting 10ga wire for soldering into rings, so I wanted the ends to be flush. I waxed the blade and begrudgingly got to work. Wanted to make several rings to save a little efficiency, I made a coil with my ring-forming pliers so I could cut them all at once. “Once” meaning one 5-minute sawing run. (Yawn.)
Some people say they get into a rhythm when sawing, that it’s actually relaxing. Because for once I wasn’t trying to cut something like a heart out of sheet, I actually understood what they meant.
And then I broke my saw blade. Maybe the first time ever, but at least in the past few years. I told you I don’t saw that much, but now it feels like I’m a real jeweler breaking saw blades like the big boys. I’m sure I’d jump even if I broke one every day. (Cheryl, I know you are laughing because you saw as often as you can. Like, don’t you slice carrots with your jeweler’s saw?)
Now if only I could find my spare saw blades. I have moved my studio twice since I needed a new one, so I scrapped the search efforts and finished a ring I’d already cut. Fused ends, hammered a flat surface, stamped with leaves, then stamped, “To thine own self be true” on the other side. Great idea for a grad!