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Since Fall

Hi again!  It has been a while since I updated this so thanks for your patience.  It’s not because all my free time is spent on Pinterest, I promise.

Starting in September I rented studio space downtown close to where my kids go to preschool.  It was glorious being able to drop them off and then walk to work, making jewelry for hours on end without the distraction of the computer or housework (ahem) until my alarm told me to go back and pick the kids up.  I showed you a little of my Sedona line, and after that I did a grouping with Swarovski-set components (like this focal) as part of my Facets collection.

I am still working with colored stone briolettes for my Facets collection as well, and I hated to see this pair of cluster earrings go…
Purple, pink, and orange!
Also I can’t get enough of those big honkin’ Chinese crystals, so I did some long necklaces and wire rings featuring those for the holiday season.
But after Christmas change was in the air.  The pedestrian mall was torn up for an infrastructure upgrade and facelift, and it has been interesting to watch all the work going on just outside my studio.
Cutting down “my” tree, piece by piece


Along my commute
I decided not to renew my lease downtown after my spring collection was delivered to the shop, but instead move my tools back home again (for now).

Goodbye, studio

It actually isn’t because of the construction. This is the time of year when I get to focus on other things!  For example, my jewelry friend Judy and I recently played with CopprClay, a copper version of PMC that will likely be paired with turquoise in my Sedona collection in the fall.

I love the torched patina on the left one
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Wire Button Bail

Hi, gang.  I have been sqeezing in studio time here and there, working on a grouping for the shop downtown.  When my son was born in October he slept all the time, so I was able to keep making jewelry for the Christmas season. 

My newest studio helper

But as Bowen has gotten older his naps don’t usually coincide with Olivia’s naps, so now my bench time is that much more precious.  I apologize if I don’t update my blog a whole lot; it’s just something I’ve had to cut out along with listing jewelry for sale online. 

A while ago I found some old steel cut buttons in an antique store.  They were from the estate of a button collector, lovingly arranged on a card.  I took one off to give to a friend who loves romantic-vintage stuff like that.  The second one came off the card today when I was creating this sampler necklace inspired by another that sold right after I made it. 

The floral centerpiece is a PMC piece I made, and the dangles include freshwater pearls, vintage crystals, sterling silver beads, quartz, and an antique button from my precious stash.  If you’ve ever tried to dangle a shank button without having it tip forward or altering the shank, you know my challenge for today’s studio time.  Now I’m sharing my tricks with you.  Here is the bail I created as a solution.

Reverse side
Forming the loops after putting the wire through the shank is harder than it looks, especially when using half-hard wire.  Once I did that, though, I squeezed the loops tight around the shank so the bail wouldn’t jiggle.  Then I pressed the top of the bail forward so it would sit close to the top of the button (the center of gravity) to prevent the whole thing from tipping forward.

I did something similar with a big, orphan bead cap that has been laying on my bench for awhile.  Rather than capping a huge bead, I wanted to frame a small pearl but I didn’t want it to hang face-down.
I threaded the pearl, bead cap, and a small sterling bead onto a headpin, which I then bent sharply so it would stay put.  I bent the headpin to follow the contour of the bead cap, through a hole in the cap’s edge, and into a hanging loop.

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Spring is here

Hi, gang!  It’s been a busy spring here in my studio, on account of the miserable weather we’ve had.  A new collection of pieces is looking happy at the shop downtown

I’ve also been able to work on some other projects like…

…the PMC Round Box Pendant tutorial!  It is a pretty simple and straightforward design, but I take you through step-by-step with little tips on things to look out for along the way.  I also show you how to modify the design to make your own resin blanks. 

This is a snippet from a map of Gothenburg, Sweden, in case you’re wondering.

More tutorials are in the works!  See that pair of flower bud earrings up there?  Hint, hint.

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Playing with Polymer

People often ask me how long I’ve been making jewelry, which usually requires a follow-up question like, “How long have I been making jewelry like I make now?” 

You see, when I was a kid my parents wouldn’t let me get my ears pierced, so naturally I was fixated on what I couldn’t have. Using my dad’s tools I would bend telephone wire, gleaned from a construction site, into little clip-on earrings.  I had turquoise ones and yellow ones and I didn’t care how ugly or dirty they were.  Later I found some kidney-wire earrings at a craft store and clipped them upside-down to my lobes because it looked like the end of the wire was going into my ear like a real earring.  Hot stuff!  Add to the mix my great aunt, who mined and polished her own stones and got me interested in rock tumbling, and I was a full-on jewelry nerd.  I got really good at wire-wrapping those slippery tumbled stones to make pendants, though, so now wrapping sea glass is second nature. My friend Jenny, whom I’ve known since 6th grade, recently asked me to wire-wrap this piece of larimar, and (kindly) noted that I’ve come a long way since my rock tumbling days. 

What were we talking about?  Oh yeah, polymer clay.  Also during my middle school years I got a sampler pack of Cernit clay at a train show (my Dad is into model trains).  Soon I got into polymer clay (sounds like I’m dabbling in drugs) and would read Nan Roche’s The New Clay like it was my job.  I worked with polymer clay on into high school and thought it was really cool to make earrings as miniature versions of the designs in special outfits.  That’s when I got started with beads, too, back before internet shopping.  So when I say I’ve been making jewelry since I was a kid, my products back then are not what I consider lovely today.  I haven’t any examples to show you, although my mother still wears her vintage AnneMade Jewelry to my chagrin.
These days (meaning now that I have a jewelry business) after I have a chance to recover from the holiday season of making and selling jewelry and all our Christmas festivities, it’s usually the dead of winter and I get a yearning for spring.  I do have to work ahead of the season, so it’s not unusual for me to use delicate pastels and beachy brights at this time of year.  I’ve been itching to play with polymer clay again and make some pendants for spring.  And I love that my original sampler pack of Sculpey is still as good as it was 20 years ago.  Polymer clay has come a long way since then, including the development  stronger formulas, liquid clay, and surface techniques like mica shift.  I have always been too cheap to invest in a pasta machine, but today I realized that hand-kneading clay takes forever. 
(I think it’s funny that my clay turned out the same color as the shopping list I created while kneading it. Love this color!)  So yesterday I printed out a Michael’s coupon and headed there as soon as Olivia woke up from her nap. I also found treasures in the stamping aisle (alcohol inks to color liquid Sculpey, dye ink pads for rubber stamping, clear stamps so you can see what you’re doing).  And what a difference the pasta machine makes!  It’s like a mini rolling mill, in fact I could run texture through with the clay.  Once I knead the clay to get it soft, mixing colors on the machine is so easy.  And after working with PMC so much, it’s so great not to have to worry about a piece drying out on me.  If I don’t like it I just ball it up and try again.  I do have to worry about foreign particles, though, because I’m not firing this clay in a kiln like PMC.  (Side note: PMC people, if you’re looking for Teflon paper to use as a work surface, Michaels has it in the stamp/ink aisle.)

Another creative chapter in my past is painting.  If you come to my house I may not point them out, but several of the pictures on our walls are watercolors and drawings I did in high school.  And if you’ve ever worked with oil paint (or acrylic) you’ll know the concept of color saturation.  A tiny dab of alizarin crimson or titanium white is all it takes to affect the whole glob of paint because those colors are so saturated.  Same goes with certain colors of polymer clay, so if you’re just starting out remember to mix in only a little bit of a new color at a time.
I view the Pantone season forecast a little like I view the Farmer’s Almanac.  Does anyone ever look back and grade them on how accurate they were, or do we just trust them?  I live in a small town out in the country, so we’re a little behind the style trends anyway, so I tend to just use what I like.  Right now it’s orchid.

Did it again! This ballet pink pendant matched another Post-It. Maybe I need to get my fashion forecast from 3M.

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Tattoo Pendant

I like to share about custom orders that have a story behind them. A few years ago my friend Josh suggested I make jewelry from tattoo images.  I pshaw-ed him at the time, picturing skulls and dragons, until I discovered henna tattoos.  I never did anything with that (the idea is still filed away for a rainy day!) but I was recently contacted to design a piece for a woman whose husband’s tribal-style tattoo bears the initials of their children: K, G, and W.  Their friend who commissioned the piece sent me this picture of the tattoo to use.  No problem, right?

After playing around with the image in Photoshop I created a Custom Texture Sheet (tutorial here) and rolled my PMC over the top.  Bada bing, bada boom:

If you want to hear more “Behind the Jewelry” stories, click here or on the “Custom” label below. 

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Two New Tutorials

Custom Texture Sheets for Metal Clay or Polymer Clay

Remember this custom pendant I created from a wedding invitation?  Now you can make your own raised monograms, or you can type out a phrase in a pretty font to use again and again instead of stamping each letter individually.  Like this.
Vertebraid Bangle
This is a square/round (as opposed to flat) braid created with doubled strands of fine-gauge wire.  It makes an interesting base for sliders or Pandora beads.  Click here for the tutorial.
I had this braid sitting on my desk all summer; I’d pick it up and work on it when my computer was busy processing so I don’t really know how long it took me to braid. I think it takes less time than Viking Weave, but then again it depends on your proficiency at each.
Enjoy these new projects!
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Salt Water Etching

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.
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Wedding Invitation Pendant

When I get a really cool custom order, I like to share the story.  I was asked by a wedding guest to take the scrollwork from the invitation and make it into a pendant with the bride and groom’s monogram and a bead drop to match the wedding color.
Some of the scrollwork ran off the page, so I had to do a little Photoshopping before I had an image I liked.  Originally the customer wanted me to stamp block letters into the pendant for the monogram, but because I’m working in Photoshop I can use whatever font I want.  Customer liked the chiseled monogram.
From that image I created a custom texture sheet to use with silver clay (PMC) to create the pendant.  How?  Special polymer, transparency film, UV light, and a toothbrush.  Got that?  Sounds like MacGyver?  Perhaps a tutorial is in order. 
I love coming up with the logistics to create a piece, but I have to give credit to my customer for coming up with such a beautiful and meaningful idea. 
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New pieces

Wow, the summer is flying by! I’ve been a busy bee, so that probably has something to do with it.

If you’re looking for new AnneMade jewelry, I hope you live nearby because Simply Charming Boutique has all my newest pieces for fall. And I know this is a good thing, but they have been selling before I can get pictures! Here’s a few I did capture…

Several of these pendants are simple designs made from PMC and accented with faceted stones, pearls, and Swarovski crystals. If you see something you like and you’re in Timbuktu and not the DC area, shoot me an email and I can check on the piece.
Enjoy the rest of your summer!
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Love logo

I’m still here, working hard in my workshop to finalize Christmas orders without the help of elves and with the baby’s due date looming on the horizon. But sometimes I get such creative requests for custom orders that I just have to tell you about them. A gentleman in Oslo found me on the internet and inquired about having custom jewelry made from a heart design he has created using his girlfriend’s initials (VB). After reviewing the options he commissioned me to make two different pendants out of his love logo.I made the first pendant from PMC using a custom texture sheet. Having a tile shape for a background and a rustic finish, it is kind of a casual look so we decided to put it on a chocolate brown leather cord.
For the next pendant I cut three pieces of sterling silver wire, beveled and filed the ends, and soldered them together. Then I hung it slider-style on a box chain for a more delicate look. These pieces are on their way to Norway and hopefully VB doesn’t read my blog before Christmas. I think my client should pitch the logo to the Beckhams now.