Monday, November 7, 2011

I Got Some New Stuff!!!

 I know, I know...... I go from not posting in almost a year to posting twice in one day!  

UPS left a package at the door for me today from Otto Frei.  I've got a birthday coming up in a few weeks, so Mike told me that I should order some tools that I want as a birthday present.  I am a tool junkie, and always have a wish list of things that I'd like, so I went to the Otto Frei website and honed in on the Fretz hammers and stake sets.

I got the Fretz Miniature Stake Set, along with the Fretz Double Ended Insert Hammer with 9 different tips.  I also recently got both of Bill Fretz's DVD's: "Metalsmith Essentials: Basic Jewelry Hammering and Forming, Vol. 1," and "Metalsmith Essentials: Hammering and Forming Jewelry, Volume 2."   I watched a good portion of the first
DVD already, and can't wait to start working with the different stakes.  Hmm...he makes forming  cuffs look so easy on the dvd's....  I also got a round bracelet mandrel.  I already had an oval one, but from what I've viewed on the dvd so far, he always uses a round one.  And finally, I got another barrette file.  This one is a little coarser than the other barrette files that I always use.  Guess you can never have too many files...

Remember the Components I was Making?....

Remember that pile of components that I was making?  Well, I started turning them into jewelry pieces. 

I finished up these earrings last night.  They're made from fluted brass tubing, sterling silver wire, and brass drops.

My inspiration for these earrings came from Thomas Mann's "Big Links" workshop that I had taken a few years ago.  He showed us how to make components which are very similar to the structure of these earrings.

I wish I had a better torch to use when I solder metal...  I still haven't broken down and bought myself an oxy/acetylene torch yet.  For some reason, I have this inner fear about them.  I think I'm afraid that I'll burn down the house with it, or that I won't have it hooked up correctly.  So instead, I use either my propane torch or mapp gas torch, both of which were bought at Home Depot.

I've also been working on a ring, but I'm having a hard time deciding on the direction I want to go with its design, so it has been  just sitting on my workbench.   I pick up the parts for it that I have already made and stare at them for awhile, and then put them back down again.  I'd rather wait for inspiration rather than totally ruin what I've already gotten done with it.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

I'm In Thomas Mann's New Book!!!

I just got my copy of Thomas Mann's new book, "Metal Artist's Workbench: Demystifying The Jeweler's Saw" in yesterday's mail, and I'm thrilled to say that I have a piece in it!!!

I was sooo honored that Tom asked me to create a piece to be included in his book. He told me to make something which involved a lot of piercing, so that's exactly what I did...

I wanted to make something really special for Tom's book, but I didn't want to make a piece of jewelry for it. So instead, I made this handbound book. I etched and cut the cover piece from brass sheet and gave it the title, "De Ligno Vitae," which means "Tree of Life." All of the intriquite piercing took me 20 hours to cut out with a jeweler's saw! After I was finished with that portion of the piece, I felt that the area on either side of the tree trunk needed something to finish it off. I spent hours searching for a quote which would tie the whole piece together. I finally came across a quote which I felt was perfect for the piece, "All are but parts of one stupendeous whole, Whose body nature is, and God soul" by Alexander Pope. I figured out how I would space the quote so it fit the spaces on either side of the trunk, and etched it onto copper sheet and layered it underneath the brass.
I then designed two closure clasps from brass, and handbound the book using heavy watercolor paper for the pages. The book is close to 2 inches thick.   I kept track of how many hours I put into this piece, and from start to finish it took me 40 hours!  I'm very proud of how it turned out.

This book is absolutely wonderful!  It is full of tips, techniques, wonderful projects, and pictures which will inspire you to start creating!!!!

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Beautiful Fall Afternoon at the Marsh

The weather has been so warm and sunny during the past week.  This really has been a beautiful Fall!  Yesterday afternoon, Mike and I went to the Sheboygan Marsh to enjoy the beautiful Fall colors before the trees lose their leaves.  This is the observation tower at the Marsh.  At 80 feet, it's the tallest observation tower in the state of Wisconsin.  Even though I'm afraid of heights, I had no problem climbing up the tower because the steps are all solid wood... you can't see through them.  I cannot climb up very high if I can look down at the ground below me through steps.  It makes my stomach do flip-flops and my legs turn to rubber!
The view from the top of the tower is spectacular!  You can see for miles and miles!  These are a few photographs I took while we were there.
I zoomed my camera in to take this picture.  I love how you can see the steeple of a church along with some farms that are nestled in among the beautiful fall colors.
And in this picture, you can get a better idea of what a breathtaking view you can see when you're on top of the tower.

Aren't the fall colors amazing??!!
A nice woman offered to take a picture of Mike and myself while we were at the top of the tower.  I'm glad we came here when we did, because I'm sure that by the upcoming weekend, many of the trees will be losing their leaves. The temperature is supposed to be a lot cooler too.

This was a wonderful way to spend our Sunday afternoon!!!

Making Components...

I got in the mood to make components this week.  I'm not sure what this pile is going to turn into yet, but I'm leaning toward a few necklaces.  I'll post pictures when I get this project finished.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Latest Addition to the Family

"How much is that doggie in the window? (Bark! Bark!)
The one with the waggely tail
How much is the doggie in the window? (Bark! Bark!)
I do hope that doggie's for sale."
We've got a new member of the family, and his name is Oscar.  We really weren't planning on getting yet another dog to add to the mix, but it happened anyway.....
It actually happened about a month ago, when my friend Cindy called me.  She knew we had pugs, and knew of a 7 month-old male pug who needed a home.  Her co-worker was fostering him for a humane society which was an hour away from here, and because she was going on vacation for a few days, she really didn't want to have to take him back to the shelter.  Cindy knew how I love pugs, and thought that if we would be interested in having another little guy to add to the pack, perhaps I could contact the shelter and adopt him.  Unfortunately, I was also going to be out of town during that time, so I told her that I couldn't take him, but that I'd maybe be interested in adopting him once I was back home. 
I kind of brought up the subject to Mike before I left, but I really had my doubts that he'd want yet another pug in the house.  But to my surprise, he actually warmed up to the idea!  So, the following week I contacted the shelter to find out if I could possibly adopt the pug, but found out that he just got adopted, and was going to his new home that afternoon.  When I told Mike that we weren't going to be able to adopt him, he really felt rather let-down.  He really was looking forward to having another little pug running around the house.  What I didn't realize at the time, was that he really had his heart set on a young puppy.....
So I started searching the internet for pug puppies.  I just couldn't find any that were close to here.  Then I went on eBay Classifieds, and low and behold, there he was.....

He was only 8 weeks old and was the last one left from a litter of 4 fawn pugs.  And he was only an hour away from here!  I told Mike about him and warned him about what it's like to have a little puppy in the house... Chew, Chew, Chew, and Piddle, Piddle, Piddle.  But he wanted him anyways, so off I went to pick up the pup.

What a little sweetie!  He weighed just under 4 lbs., and was sooo cute and tiny!   He seemed to adjust to the new surroundings of our house easily, and quickly started playing, biting, and chasing after Popeye and Junior.  Popeye is really tolerant of Oscar always nipping at him and chasing around after him.  He actually acts like a papa pug to him.  Junior, on the other hand, is a different story.
Junior was always the 'baby' here, and he didn't take too kindly to the new kid on the block.  If he's on my lap and I have Oscar on my lap also, he'll jump right off if Oscar even touches him.  But I think he's slowly accepting the fact that Oscar is now part of the family too.

I found this little 'Bad Dog' costume when I was out shopping this past week.  I thought it was perfect for Oscar, since he's always either chewing on something, or doing a little piddle on the floor.  He's lucky he's so cute.....

Friday, August 26, 2011

Fine Line Creative Arts Studio

Last week, I had the privilege of once again assisting Thomas Mann with three workshops being offered at Fine Line Creative Art Studio in St. Charles, Illinois. I have to confess that I had never heard of Fine Line, so I really didn't know what to expect. But as I was pulling into the driveway, I could see what a beautiful setting it was. There were beds of wildflowers landscaped all around the buildings, with a large manicured yard behind them. It's a wonderful, relaxing setting, which really sparks your creativity.There are several buildings on-site, and they are well-equipped for every type of art medium. In one of the buildings, there was a room which housed many large weaving looms. I also noticed that there were a group of people at an out-building away from the main buildings who were blacksmithing. I also saw an area outside where there were kilns for ceramics.
The workshops began on Thursday morning with "Learn to Saw." I think there were 20 women all ready to learn the proper way to use a jeweler's saw. Tom really knows his stuff, and not only shows people how to use a saw, but teaches all the components and explains the 'hows and whys' of what is going on as you saw into your material.
In the afternoon he taught the second workshop, "Fastenation." This workshop focused on cold-connections, tube rivets, wire rivets, and wire-wrapping techniques.
Due to the number of students who attended, the workshops had to be held in two separate classrooms. Needless to say, everyone was going from one room to the other, depending on what stage of their project they were working on. It really worked out well, though.
This is Ellen, who was one of the students that I had the pleasure of helping. She is wearing the pin that she created in the "Found Object Sandwich" workshop which was held on Friday and Saturday.
And these are some of the pins that the students created in the workshop...
I love the soldered brass frames around some of the faces on this one.
Kathy's Pin
This gal made hers into a standing piece...

...and I loved her idea of using cutout shape as the easel in the back.
Robin's Pin
Gale's Pin
Leah's Pin
I like the embellishments on this one

One person even made little sculptural pieces!

Everyone did a fantastic job on their pieces!

I drove back home on Sunday morning. Shortly after I got over the border to Wisconsin, I noticed an antique mall in a town I was driving through. And it was open! So... of course, I had to check it out. It was a pretty good sized shop, and its always fun to snoop around a shop that you've never been in before.
I didn't leave there empty-handed, either. Here's what I bought...
This really cool little wooden cash drawer with a metal change-maker mounted on top.
And I'm always a sucker for small wooden cabinets to stash my stuff in. This one has nice solid-bottomed small drawers, a couple slots for putting metal sheet on, and on the upper-right side it has a door that opens to reveal a nice-sized cubby. Not only does that door have a lock on it, but it even came with the key!
I also found a few old wooden folding rulers, and three wooden cigar boxes.
When I finally arrived back home, I was welcomed by my two little boyz, all fluffy and fresh from getting bathed and groomed while I was away. Junior was even wearing a little bow!
And my sweet husband had a beautiful card and three dozen long-stemmed red roses waiting for me!
I had a great time at Fine Line, and look forward to returning there again next year!