Sunday, December 18, 2011

jewelry Open Studio and Christmas Sale

I had an open studio last spring that I actually wrote about here, and foolish me, I decided that I needed to do another one. I had forgotten how much work is involved.  It has taken me at least a day and 1/2 to get everything out.  I've sent out 3 emails with pictures and for techno tard me, that's a big job.

My house keeper (John, my husband) has been cleaning for 2 days and has dish pan hands and on top of that, I made him take me out for a late lunch/early dinner, because there was no where to eat, let alone cook.  Every counter top and table is weighted down with jewelry.  I have to admit, it looks great, but I won't know til tomorrow if anyone is coming - it could be a whole lot of work, down the old draino - I hope not, but for something like this, you don't know until your door bell rings.

I have tried everything to get the post before this one with the same title removed - Once again, a technological problem has me stumped.  So it's going to stay there as a testament to my techno-tard status..because I have no other choice in the matter and I will continue what I started here! ! 

Okay -back to my open studio.  This one was not as busy as the one that I held in the spring, but there has been continuing business from it.  I had the sale on Wednesday  and today is Sunday and I had another sale today. I used all of my dining room, most of my kitchen and parts of my great room to display it's a great activity if you claim part of your home as business space.
As you can see - it's really nice to have unlimited space to display your product.  I have allot of product   cuz I am way too prolific and I never know when to stop when I get a good idea and one thing leads to another - and I'm not happy unless I follow those shots all the way to the end and make everything along the way.

I will definitely do another one of these - all my sales are in boutiques about 50 miles from my home, so it is nice that my neighbors in my subdivision know what I do and what is available to them that I can supply.  Since we live in Arizona and many people go north for the summer, I will do an open studio in March before everyone leaves and this one that is closer to Christmas will be earlier.  There's allot of stuff going on now most of which was not on the community calendar.  I think that I will do it as soon after Thanksgiving weekend as I am able to and I may get a few more people wandering in.

Both of these Open Studios have been good for me.  I have sold enough to make it very worthwhile - more than any single show I ever did when I was doing shows.  I have met new people that like my work and reconnected with old customers.  All in all, it has been worth the effort - it would be fantastic if I didn't have to get everything out and then put  it all                away again :)

If any of this product, catches your eye - it is all available in my shop - Come visit.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Global Warming - Not in Arizona! !

Okay - I've had it - This is the fourth day in a row that I have had to wear one of my "northern" winter fleeces.  We live in the Phoenix area - the "Valley of the Sun" as it is also is supposed to be hot here in the summer and comfortably warm in the winter...and it most definitely isn't - warm that is.

We spent Thanksgiving in Chicago and other than being with our children, I was most thankful for the fact that it wasn't freezing and snowing. I get back to Arizona and it precedes to snow in didn't snow in Chicago....Why here ????

I am no longer a winter fan - did you pick that feeling up??? I would much rather deal with 120 degrees here in the summer than have to lift one shovel of snow in a northern winter.  I grew up in New England and then lived in Northern Ohio for 30 something years and I  figuered that I had done my wintery penance.  We had a home in Colorado for skiing, so I really did enjoy the winter scene for quite some time....BUT, I am totally over those feelings now and I no longer want to have to wear my long green wool coat, gloves, boots, scarfs, all that stuff that you need just to walk down the driveway to get your mail.  I have no problem with long pants and long sleeves for winter in Arizona, but that's as far as I am willing to go without complaining about it. Needing my fleeces, indoors even, is almost more than I can bear.

You hear all this craziness about global warming - well it sure as h..l isn't happening here.  I can see snow on all the mountain tops around our home - the only good thing about it is that we are severely short on rain this year. So maybe this will help the water table.

We were driving home from northern Arizona last week, and it had snowed up there that day.  The snow was all the way down to Wikieup, "the rattlesnake capitol of the world".  Those snakes better have had their winter dens deep, or they won't be doing much rattling next year.  I must admit that that doesn't bother me a whole lot though.

Time to get back to work - think I'll make some snowflake earrings or an icicle necklace - look for them in my shop....Have a great day and I sincerely hope that it is warm where you are! ! !

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Resin Jewelry and Do These RESINate With You???

I am a jewelry artisan.  I love to make jewelry and I use pricey stones, pearls and metals to achieve my goals.  Because of the time, effort and the cost of my materials, I am very serious about what I make.  I spend allot of time planning my piece and putting it together exactly right....But once in a while we have to jump out of our rut - and I did that today, and boy, did I have fun! ! !

My jewelry is in a marvelous little boutique in the artisan section of Phoenix, called Made Art Boutique, and it is certainly worth your while to do some browsing there if you are in the area of Roosevelt and 7th.  This shop is very different from most of the boutiques that I am in and the demographics especially are quite different from my other shops.  They have many college students and people with limited pocketbooks shopping there, but the owner likes my work and I like her shop - so we work at finding the right things at the right price for her.

I found these great pieces of resin at one of the web stores that I buy from and the owner of Made liked them as much as I I ordered them and today I created earrings...all for $40.00 or less.  I am very excited about them and think that they came our great.  Some have Swarovski crystals and all of them have silver filled ear wires so I didn't cut too many corners.  The majority of them are 3 to 4 inches long so they really make a statement and if I could wear earrings that are that long, I would wear them in a heartbeat.

I must admit - I had allot of fun today.  It's fun to do something different.  It's fun to work with bright colors.  It's fun to do things that I consider retro, like the pink and black that I used allot of.

It was also fun to use a material, resin, that I hardly ever use - it's light, very reasonably priced and takes great colors and I will definitely be using it again...It would be a great way to cut the weight on a heavy stone necklace.  I'd also like to try a really long necklace in resin because it would not be too heavy - but that's for another day and another blog.

I do not have these earrings in my Artfire shop, but I do have the materials to make them.  If anyone is interested in purchasing them...please go to my shop and contact me.  I will send more pictures of the ones that you are interested in and the cost. Here's a few more of today's creations...and remember, to keep yourself and your creative muse fresh...try something utterly different once in a while.

Edited to add - Have no idea why that one image is so large and even less of an idea of how to correct it - please see other blogs about my techno-tardness

Monday, November 14, 2011

Silver Filled in Jewelry Making

I decided several months ago to try a fairly new product, silver filled.  It is made in basically the same way that gold filled is made and should last indefinitely.  As we all know, plated metal materials not only often look differently, they are not meant to last.  I work too hard on my metal jewelry to use a material that is not going to last and yet, sterling had gotten to a price point that was beyond me, and most important, beyond what my clients were willing to pay.

As you can see, when I use metals - it is allot. The first bracelet uses quite a bit of 24 g wire and there is a huge difference between SF at $0.22 per foot and sterling at almost a dollar a foot.  I have about 20 feet of 24g wire in the first bracelet which translate to $4.40 as opposed to $20.00. For the final pricing, i.e. retail, that can mean the difference in the price of the bracelet of $17.00 or $80.00.  There is even a big difference in the 16 g that I use as the frame.  I have about 18 inches that I use - SF is priced at about $3.00, whereas, sterling would be about $9.00. If you double your price of materials for a wholesale price and then double again for retail, these get to be really big numbers.  In SF, I have $7.40 in materials, but in sterling, I would have $29.00.  I would love to be making these in sterling, but they are very time consuming and the final price would have to reflect that and it would put them out of the ball park. The second bracelet is the same as the first except that I use thicker wire for the decorative part. I don't use much more than 10 feet, but SF for 20g is $0.76 and for sterling it is $2.30 per foot. So once again, in the thinner wire alone, we see a monetary difference of more than $15.00. These are huge numbers when you are figuring your final price.

The only real difference I have found between the two types is that I feel that the SF work hardens much faster than sterling.  For that reason, I only buy full soft wires.  I think that it must be the interior brass in the wire, because brass has always seemed much harder to me than copper or sterling.  I have oxidized SF numerous times and have the same results that I had with sterling.  You do have to be a little more careful handling it during working so it's not gouged - the one time  
that I slipped and really gouged it, I was very pleasantly surprised when I grabbed my trusty Dremel to polish it and see what I could do about the brass showing - and somehow, the silver migrated to the polished part and no more brass showed.  My husband, a retired dentist, says that that can happen occassionally with precious metals... so I don't know if this was a one time occurrence or something that I can count on to happen again. It is recommended that all polishing be done in the tumbler and with a cloth, not to use mechanical polishers.

I have always used sterling earwires and I recently switched to SF for most of my earrings and have been very pleased.  The least expensive sterling that I used was $3.00/pair, and I can purchase SF for $.40 a pair. Once again the cost differential of $2.60, or $10.40 makes a big difference in the retail price. These earwires can be seen on my website, but I have not gotten the bracelets on there yet.

It seems that every day there are new products arriving on the market made in SF, and I for one am very happy about it. There is chain, and sheet, and all kinds of findings.  If you have hesitated to try SF, give it a try, I think that you will be very happy with it, I know that I have been.

Like all my metals, I am very careful where I purchase them.  I have stuck with Rio and Fire Mountain and I'm sure any of the other large, well established metal places would do fine.  There are two types out there. One with 20% sterling and one with only 10%, and I have stuck with the 20%.

If you have hesitated to use silver filled materials, I think that it is worth a try. I know that I have been very happy with the product and I would hope that you would be too.

Friday, September 23, 2011


I have never copied an email as a blog - but this is too funny not to share. If you are the least bit squeamish about medical procedures, it may not seem funny to you...but I laughed till I cried and I thought that I was going to have to give my husband here it is...

This is one of the funniest things I have ever read.   
ABOUT THE WRITER: Dave Barry is a Pulitzer Prize-winning humor columnist for the Miami Herald. 
Colonoscopy Journal: 
I called my friend Andy Sable, a gastroenterologist, to make an appointment for a colonoscopy. 
A few days later, in his office, Andy showed me a color diagram of the colon, a lengthy organ that appears to go all over the place, at one point passing briefly through Minneapolis . 
Then Andy explained the colonoscopy procedure to me in a thorough, reassuring and patient manner. 
I nodded thoughtfully, but I didn't really hear anything he said, because my brain was shrieking, 'HE'S GOING TO STICK A TUBE 17,000 FEET UP YOUR BEHIND!' 
I left Andy's office with some written instructions, and a prescription for a product called 'MoviPrep,' which comes in a box large enough to hold a microwave oven.  I will discuss MoviPrep in detail later; for now suffice it to say that we must never allow it to fall into the hands of America 's enemies.  
I spent the next several days productively sitting around being nervous. 
Then, on the day before my colonoscopy, I began my preparation. In accordance with my instructions, I didn't eat any solid food that day; all I had was chicken broth, which is basically water, only with less flavor. 
Then, in the evening, I took the MoviPrep.  You mix two packets of powder together in a one-liter plastic jug, then you fill it with lukewarm water. (For those unfamiliar with the metric system, a liter is about 32 gallons). Then you have to drink the whole jug. This takes about an hour, because MoviPrep tastes - and here I am being kind - like a mixture of goat spit and urinal cleanser, with just a hint of lemon... 
The instructions for MoviPrep, clearly written by somebody with a great sense of humor, state that after you drink it, 'a loose, watery bowel movement may result.' 
This is kind of like saying that after you jump off your roof, you may experience contact with the ground. 
MoviPrep is a nuclear laxative. I don't want to be too graphic here, but,  have you ever seen a space-shuttle launch?  This is pretty much the MoviPrep experience, with you as the shuttle. There are times when you wish the commode had a seat belt.  You spend several hours pretty much confined to the bathroom, spurting violently.  You eliminate everything.  And then, when you figure you must be totally empty, you have to drink another liter of MoviPrep, at which point, as far as I can tell, your bowels travel into the future and start eliminating food that you have not even eaten yet. 
After an action-packed evening, I finally got to sleep. 
The next morning my wife drove me to the clinic. I was very nervous.  Not only was I worried about the procedure, but I had been experiencing occasional return bouts of MoviPrep spurtage.  I was thinking, 'What if I spurt on Andy?'  How do you apologize to a friend for something like that? Flowers would not be enough. 
At the clinic I had to sign many forms acknowledging that I understood and totally agreed with whatever the heck the forms said. Then they led me to a room full of other colonoscopy people, where I went inside a little curtained space and took off my clothes and put on one of those hospital garments designed by sadist perverts, the kind that, when you put it on, makes you feel even more naked than when you are actually naked. 
Then a nurse named Eddie put a little needle in a vein in my left hand. Ordinarily I would have fainted, but Eddie was very good, and I was 
already lying down.  Eddie also told me that some people put vodka in their MoviPrep. 
At first I was ticked off that I hadn't thought of this, but then I pondered what would happen if you got yourself too tipsy to make it to the bathroom, so you were staggering around in full Fire Hose Mode.  You would have no choice but to burn your house. 
When everything was ready, Eddie wheeled me into the procedure room, where Andy was waiting with a nurse and an anesthesiologist.  I 
did not see the 17,000-foot tube, but I knew Andy had it hidden around there somewhere.  I was seriously nervous at this point. 
Andy had me roll over on my left side, and the anesthesiologist began hooking something up to the needle in my hand. 
There was music playing in the room, and I realized that the song  was 'Dancing Queen' by ABBA.  I remarked to Andy that, of all the songs that could be playing during this particular procedure, 'Dancing Queen' had to be the least appropriate. 
'You want me to turn it up?' said Andy, from somewhere behind me. 
'Ha ha,' I said.  And then it was time, the moment I had been dreading for more than a decade.  If you are squeamish, prepare yourself, because I am going to tell you, in explicit detail, exactly what it was like. 
I have no idea.  Really.  I slept through it.  One moment, ABBA was yelling 'Dancing Queen, feel the beat of the tambourine,' and the next moment, I was back in the other room, waking up in a very mellow mood. 
Andy was looking down at me and asking me how I felt.  I felt excellent.  I felt even more excellent when Andy told me that It was all over, and that my colon had passed with flying colors. I have never been prouder of an internal organ. 
On the subject of Colonoscopies... 
Colonoscopies are no joke, but these comments during the exam were quite humorous! A physician claimed that the following are actual comments made by his patients (predominately male) while he was performing their colonoscopies: 
1. 'Take it easy, Doc. You're boldly going where no man has gone before!' 
2. 'Find Amelia Earhart yet?' 
3. 'Can you hear me NOW?' 
4. 'Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?' 
5. 'You know, in Arkansas, we're now legally married.' 
6. 'Any sign of the trapped miners, Chief?' 
7. 'You put your left hand in, you take your left hand out...' 
8. 'Hey! Now I know how a Muppet feels!' 
9. 'If your hand doesn't fit, you must quit!' 
10. 'Hey Doc, let me know if you find my dignity.' 
11. 'You used to be an executive at Enron, didn't you?' 
12. 'God, now I know why I am not gay.' 
And the best one of all: 
13. 'Could you write a note for my wife saying that my head is not up there?' 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Hoarders United with Jewelry Supplies

I have been using my blog to admit to a number of problems - my techno-tardness, my messy studio, etc., etc...and I have a new character flaw that I must admit to - I am a hoarder. I buy fantastic things to make jewelry with, but if I really fall in love with the piece or pieces, I tend to stick them away because I know that very soon, I will find the PERFECT something to go with the perfect something that I am hoarding.  Does anyone else have this problem?  I think that we should form a group called Hoarders United or something equally inane and if we share what we're hoarding, maybe we'll  find what we are missing and can use the hoarded piece up and that would go a long way to cleaning up our studios.

This is not something that just appeared in my personality, it has been festering for years in the background, but jewelry making has made it much worse.  I used to save new clothes that I really liked for the PERFECT occassion ...and would sometimes find them much later with the tags still on. I would hide a really good snack because my husband is a snacker - and then forget about it til I was cleaning closets, and then I'd feel really dumb.   I still have some great yarn from when I was knitting that I was "saving" for the perfect idea, I haven't picked up a needle since I acquired this bead addiction.

It is now September in Phoenix.  As usual, it has been a slow summer and the snowbirds have not returned to my shops yet, so I am trying to be really good about not buying supplies....but my shops are gearing up for their busy period, so they want product. So I have been going through my supply drawers - I have 25 small bureau size, 18 bin type, 90 very small drawers and one small chest with 3 small the space under 2 large tables.  I have allot of storage space and there's lots of gold in them, thar hills, I found out this week.  Sometimes it pays to have a character flaw, like hoarding. I found some great stuff from Tucson, some A+ quartz rondelles, and a bunch of cut stones that I put away "for later" - and forgot that I had. I had plenty of copper wire and I have been bending up a storm!! Made some fantastic bracelets and necklaces that I'll take pictures of soon and insert in here.

I've come to the conclusion that it's okay to be a hoarder - you just have to learn to check your stash every so often...otherwise something fantastic could get lost in the shuffle.  And if you're getting older like I am, you might find that your memory is not quite what it once was, so it pays to check all your drawers, especially the back corners.  I hope that if you have the same problem as I do that you will find equally good stuff when you search your storage...have fun!  !  !

Monday, July 25, 2011

How to Patina your Metals for Jewelry

I was asked to do a tutorial on using Liver of Sulfur, and why anyone would ask me is beyond me - but they did, so here I am.  First of all, I need to tell you that not only am I a self taught metallurgist, but my husband, a retired dentist, also lays claim to that title for my business,  Linda Sudimack, artisan.  Since my college degree was in Chemistry, we constantly bicker over who has more claim to that title. I am also a compulsive reader - I will even read a cereal box occasionally if I am desperate I have read every little thing that I have been able to find about how to patina your metals without using a torch.

I have to say here that I love copper - I love working with it - I love it's consistency when bending it - I love the price as compared to sterling....but I am not an orange person.  I do not like the color of copper, but I do love it with a patina. The first jewelry that I made was with copper wire and it was patineed, not very well, but even then, I knew what I wanted!

The product itself, Liver of Sulfur, comes in both liquid and rock form and although I have purchased the liquid form, we have so far only used the rock form.  There are also some other products out there, Rio has one and  Jodi Bombardier mentions in her book that she uses because it doesn't smell as bad as LOS...but she urges you to take it outside, so we have stuck with LOS, because I really don't need another product to cope with.

I think that every one who writes a book, has their own recipe for the LOS mixture, the more anal ones actually measure their water, John would never do that and he does all my oxidizing for me.  Just to be a little technical - that is actually what you are doing - you are oxidizing (or tarnishing) - the metal that you hope to darken.  Again, lots of opinions on water temperature, we have settled on very hot tap water because the rock melts quickly here. John is a natural conservationist ( he's cheap) so he adds as little LOS as he can get away with. You want your liquid to be darkish brown and it does stink like rotten eggs.  We add 2 to 3 drops of household ammonia to this for better colors. We purchased a plastic rectangular bowl at Bed, Bath, and Beyond, that is only used for LOS and it has it's own lid, it is about 4" x 10" x 5" deep and it works for everything I've done so far.  They say that you must use glass or plastic, not a metal pan and that makes sense to me.

I purchased a flat ladle thingie with holes for fast dipping small things - I also made a similar one from wire that is much smaller.  I also bought a wooden toast lifter (tongs) from B,B, and Beyond which is much cheaper than bamboo tongs for jewelers. We use this to hold the things that are being dipped and to pick fallen goodies off the bottom.

After your piece is oxidized to your liking, you will want two bowls with cold water to stop the process.  We use 2 large cottage cheese containers both filled with cold water.  The first dipping is into the cold water that has a couple of tablespoons of baking soda in it and then they go into plain cold water. The baking soda halts the oxidation process by neutralizing the acid.

Now comes the hard part - taking off what you have just worked so hard to put on - but done artistically, of course.  I use one of two products, either 0000 steel wool, from your local hardware shop, or a 3 M product that I buy at Rio.  I think that I prefer the steel wool, but it does leave little threads on your work that are hard to remove, even in the tumbler. The 3 M product does a great job, but I think that it is more work, they are like sanding pads in 4 grits that are rubbery on one side.  I often use a brass brush, from Rio, to scrub the interior of my pieces. I don't like to tumble after oxidizing because it usually takes off too much.

You can cover your LOS solution and as long as it has color it will work.  It is non toxic, although odiferous, and can be disposed of in a garage sink.  You could put it down your kitchen drain too, if you want a good reason for eating out for the next few nights.

That's about it - we tend to wait until we have several pieces to do, and spend the morning on the patio...oxidizing, and cleaning and cleaning and cleaning.  This is truly a labor of love so don't attempt it unless you really, really want to do it.  I don't oxidize allot of sterling, I spent too much time over the years cleaning my silver, so intentionally tarnishing it is mentally very hard for me to do.  I have read that if you are doing both metals to do your silver first and then do your copper.  I have also read that you can get some great colors like with a torch by putting the copper in a 300 degree oven for a few hours.  Haven't tried that yet, but I will. I do not use a torch - I have this vision of me, in the garage, torch in hand...and the house in flames...I don't even flame creme brulee, so my copper is going to have to wait.

I think that I have tried every lacquer on the market and have not been happy with the results - I've even gone the renaisannce wax route and John bougth a product that was quaranteed for like 27 years on outside cupola's - that other than costing allot did not do the job.  I was using nothing for a while and then I tried  an artist's fixative....meanwhile, I read about a new product in an article by Connie Fox which the jury is still out on...but I will let you know if it works as well as I hope. If the product is half as good as the company is in it's attention to detail, it will be a winner.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Beam Me Up, Scotty

Okay, I think it's a pretty well established fact here that I am definitely a techno tard - I try, I really do, but it just ain't there.  A few weeks ago, I got a new computer, because my husband's had crashed and since I am now the one with the business, I got the new puter.  I love it and getting it up and going was tougher than I would have liked, but basically I got there, between me and the geek squad ( God bless them).

I elected to not have them make my recovery disks - it was a $90.00 charge that I didn't want to pay after all the new stuff and softwear and backup, etc., etc., etc., that  I needed for the puter.  During one of the numerous trips that we made to Best Buy - my personal geek told me that I really needed to do something about recovery disks - that if my baby crashed, I would basically be up old sh...t creek without them.  So on my next trip I told the geek, Jason, who was helping me that I thought I needed to do something about recovery disks - and he said, no big deal, I'll sell you the disks - it's easy, just go into the program menu and it will be under the section on your computer --- just click on the part about "recovery disks".  He said that it was time consuming, but easy.

Just once I wish what someone told me about computers would be true - unfortunately, it was relatively fast, but not so easy.  I started this travail,because there was nothing about recovery disks in my computer, out by calling Best Buy to talk to the geek squad - and was put on hold. A very annoying voice told me that I was second in line and fool that I am, I decided to wait. Well wait I did, and after about 1/2 hour I was put through and immediately, cut off. I waited about an hour and then called again, this time I was third in line and decided not to wait. A few hours later, I called and got through - unfortunately, the person that I spoke to needed to be fired.  Believe me when I tell you that this man did not finish first in charm school - because he was alone, he would not go look at a computer like mine so he couldn't answer my questions. He told me that I needed to call technical support and I said that all the help my husband and I had received up til now was from this store and this geek squad and that's who my sizable check had gone to.  He proceeded to inform me that I was in this mess because I was too cheap to pay the $90.00 for them to do it, and that the person who had helped me, was not a geek squad member, just someone who answered the phone.  By  this time my patience was wearing  a bit thin - I said something to the effect that this person had on a geek squad shirt with his name on it, and I was supposed to know that he wasn't qualified to do this by ESP???  He'd already given me the next phone number so when he started off again - I did a rude thing, my mother would have frowned at...but it felt good. I told him that he really needed to try and learn some people skills and hung up

I got technical support rather easily - too many thingies to push, but I got there and spoke to a very nice woman named, Civica,...I wondered if this might be an omen that someone was going to treat me politely...and they did, but she had no idea in hell what I was talking about and told me that she was going to connect me to the command deck.  I felt like I was on the starship Enterprize and Capt. Kirk was waiting around the corner to help me.  It was actually Daniel on the first call and Dustin on the second, they filled in for Scotty and Mr. Spock, but they got me where I needed to be and I now have 3 recovery disks if my baby  gets fatally ill.

I have come to the conclusion lately, that nothing is ever easy anymore - and some people take a perverse pleasure in trying to make things worse, but if you can see the funny side (and there usually is, at least one funny side) your life will be allot more enjoyable.  As soon as that picture of the Enterprize entered my head, I knew that I was going to get through this thing, and I thought that it needed sharing and that's what I'm doing...have a good one all and come visit my shop - it's more fun than my computer.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Wire Leads - I Just Follow

My first love, making jewelry, has always been bending wire. I love how capricious it all is.  I love that you can have an idea of where you want to go - and how you can end up in an entirely different destination. This piece started life as a large coil and I really didn't like where we were going - so I started bending and twisting  
and I ended up with this interesting piece, which I then oxidized and polished, added that turquoise bead and the chain, and we had a great necklace.  But, remember where I started - a coil, and the end result is certainly a far cry from a symetrical coil and that's why I love working with wire.

I have been so dissappointed with the majority of the retail shops that carry my work, that even though they "Oh" and "Ah" over my copper and silver work, they want traditional strung jewelry.  They all have different excuses for not carrying it. One tells me that their clients don't like copper. Another says that they don't like it. The only places that seem to be brave enough to carry it are the museum gift shops and the "artsy" shops as opposed to the high end boutiques. I have a new "artsy" shop that almost cleaned me out of copper and silver wire work, so I have been frantically creating as I have to visit one of my museum shops and all she wants is copper. This is a western museum and the director likes copper and silver because they are products of Arizona.  I intentionally created the piece below for her.  I knew that I wanted to combine the two metals,
but I had no idea how, what ,where or when. I started with heavy gauge wire and forged it so it was work hardened but still bendable.  I made a frame and the ends to hold the chain. then I added a couple more pieces of heavy wire and one not so heavy.  This front piece was begging to have silver coiled around it and it did come out very nicely, if I do say so myself.

I wish that metals had not gotten so expensive in the last few months.  I would love to do several of these pieces in sterling silver only, but they would be very expensive for my markets .  I use allot of wire on these puppies and I think that we would be way over $500.00 for an all silver piece.  It used to be that my silver and copper were about the same price because the copper took so much more time for forging, oxidizing and clean up. Silver just always seems to go faster, and shining it up is definitely faster, so the time used to equalize out with the more expensive silver, but not any more.  Silver has been relegated to an accent rather than the main show and I am really sorry that that happened.

As a side note here - this techno-tard is stuck as to why this is working this way when I type. It happened after I added the pictures and I just can't seem to get it fixed, so pardon the centered last lines of my paragraphs.

One of the other things that I love about wire is the colors you can end up with after oxidizing.  I am not a big orange person, so pure copper does not appeal to me...but the possibilities with a little liver of sulfur or heat are amazing and beautiful.  I love the tones on the two necklaces above and they are neutral enough to go with almost anything. You also have the opportunity to take copper to almost black in the background, like in this bracelet, or allot of black like this necklace.

Copper wire, your imagination, some pliers, strong fingers and some liver of sulfur and ammonia can take the artisan to some fantastic places which is only limited by how much wire that you want to use. I have no idea how much wire that I used in the above necklace, but I know that it was hundreds of feet. Just remember that you can't go where the wire doesn't want to go especially if you are working in the heavier gauges.  Have fun with the wire and I think that you will be very pleased with the results.  These pieces or close replicas will be available in my shop in the near future.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Further Adventures of a Techno-tard

Last week my husbands' computer took one last breathe and died.  We mourned appropriately and decided to get along with one computer...however, John, my husband, must have "crash computer" fingers or something. I have never had a problem with the dreaded blue screens that he had when he booted up...but after using my computer for only three days, he managed to get two of those awful screens on my set up.  We decided that it was time for a new technological baby in our house, so we traipsed off to Best Buy to hopefully find a geek that spoke English that we understood.

Why are there never salespeople for techy stuff that are past their twenties?  I always feel so old when I have to buy some techy equipment.  Of course, I am old, but I do hate feeling that way.  There was a woman in the geek squad area and she worked there and she had to be pushing 60, and I thought she got lost from accounting or the steno pool...she really looked out of place. Whoa - slap my face for promoting age discrimination...I do apologize.

Anyone who knows me, or reads my blogs, knows how much I not only hate change, but tie that in with something to do with technology and I am not a happy camper.  So this last week has not been a pleasant one in our house, either for me or my husband.  I have been at the screen way too many hours and if he wanted to eat, he had to cook...not his favorite past time.  Right now, he's steaming the floors, please don't anyone tell him that I am having fun writing my blog, not slaving over this d... machine trying to make it do what I want.

Why is it that in making things bigger and better, the creators assume that we know how to bridge the gaps from old to new - or we are willing to discard the old and fully embrace the new?   Hey, I'm almost waxing philosophy here - heavens forbid. In any case, I used AOL...and as most of you must know, only the least geekest among us use that, but, in my defense, I started using that when it was about all that was available and  I am not now changing my email that is printed and stored everywhere and with everyone that I know.  I had a huge contact list, divided into very logical divisions so I could send "sale" mail when I wanted to, contact a couple of groups I belong to, family, different groups of friends, etc. etc. So I go into AOL the other day and they no longer have groups - so all my contacts, probably more than a thousand are all together, and a vast majority I have no idea who they are or where they belong.  There is no fixing something like that - and it not only makes me irrationally angry ( there's a better word, but I hate to be vulgar in my blog) but it really mucks up one of my main means of promoting my jewelry studio. Maybe if I'd know ahead of time, I could have somehow coped with it, going so far as purchasing some softwear where I could have entered these lists and then had them downloaded when my info was brought from the old to the new.

Maybe I am not non techy - maybe I am anti-techy. Something  that is supposed to make our lives simpler and more organized and easier, should not present the problems that it does.  I realize that I am pretty clueless when it comes to this stuff, but how in hell should I know that my groupings were about to dissappear....was this an educational gap? Should I have known this intuitively?  I knew I was going to continue to use AOL for my mail and I assumed my groupings would be along for the ride.  I don't think I would be as upset as I am if I had any idea how to fix it....ah well, it's done, on to the next adventure.

I am now using Chrome for my whatchamacallit instead of Microsoft explorer which I was told that I HAD to do - I am not using AOL as my gateway to the internet - which I am assuming was really lame - so I  guess that I have climbed a few rungs on the techy ladder, but not enough...til next time.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Why Do I Love Being on Artfire?

Why do I love being on Artfire, you ask. Artfire treats me like I would treat people if I owned the web site and since that was the whole basis of our business when we were in business, that is saying allot coming from me. I have had two instances where the COO has actually answered the questions that I was asking and he regularily appears on the forums to help everyone on the site. Not only does Tony, the COO, appear but if someone else at headquarters is better equipped to help us, then they also pop in as the situation dictates.

I also love Artfire because they have helped me to grow and learn.  As any reader here knows, I am an admitted techno-tard and yet I was able to get my shop up and running with minimal pain.  I stopped learning about computers when they stopped printing documentation in the early 90's - I can no longer say that now though, because I have learned so much about computers in the last seven months that even I am impressed with myself...and my husband thinks that I am an absolute genius, and that is always good and doesn't happen very often.

I love Artfire because of the people who are there for me.  I have already mentioned the staff and they are incredible, but the forums alone are worth the price of admission.  There is ALWAYS someone there to help you.  People making jewelry help others who make jewelry, and I find that refreshing especially in the business environment that we are in right now.  People will critique your website, they read your titles and discriptions, they look at your pictures, everything on your site and make fixable, kind suggestions so that you are able to make your site a better selling vehicle.  If one succeeds, we all succeed - pretty amazing, isn't it????

I love Artfire because it made me make my jewelry shop a better place to shop.  I have just redone all the pictures in my shop - not because anyone told me to, but because I learned through looking around Artfire that my pictures were a real detriment to my efforts to sell my jewelry.  Because of Artfire, I have learned about SEO and how to make Google find me easier.  I have learned how important outside links to my shop are and how they increase my visibility and how to find some of them.

Because of Artfire and all of the above, my shop can now easily function in the other venue that I use it as. The majority of my sales is to small boutiques and my web site is my catalogue. I cannot have a "line sheet" because the majority of what I create is OOAK ( one of a kind pieces ) and line sheets do not function well in those situations.  As is my shop, my presentation to my shops is now so much better and professional that I am proud to give out my web site to any retail shop.

So in closing, the above is a small sampling of why I love Artfire and why it might be a place that you also could use to sell whatever you want to.  If you do have an interest please go to
and sign up for a shop, and if you do - we could both benefit financially, because Artfire has come up with another great idea. So please, take a look, you will not be sorry.

Monday, April 11, 2011

I am a Techno-tard

They say that in order to address a problem that you must admit that you have it.  Well, when it comes to the lack of computer knowledge, I have it in spades! ! !   I always said that I was deficient in computerese - or I was technically challenged - or one of those all encompassing phrases that covered my problem....but the other day, I was on the forums on Artfire and someone called herself a "techno-tard" and I fell in love with the term.  Not only does it describe accurately the malady that I suffer from, but it is euphonius to boot. So the world should take notice - I am officially announcing that "I AM A TECHNO-TARD" .  I guess what follows is a day in the life of a techno-tard - or better yet, further adventures of a techno-tard.

Artfire is running a "social media boot camp" right now and I signed up because it seemed to me that I can use all the help I can get.  Our first thing to do was to get a facebook account up and running, with both a personal page and a business page.  And much to my amazement, I was ahead of the curve, I had both. Then they wanted us to shorten the URL on our business page after we got 25 fans, which I I followed the directions and this is the message that I got from facebook -

"To access this page, you'll need to switch from using Facebook as your page to using Facebook as yourself."

I hope this makes as little sense to you, the reader, as it did to me.  One simple sentence and I was totally lost. How could anyone understand what they meant?  I mean, I may be a techno-tard, but I am not stupid, at least I wasn't the last time that I checked.  So my URL is still an ugly long series of letters and numbers, unlike all the other campers, and even with personal help from several kind souls, I have not conquered the URL shortening.  It's depressing - I may have to go back to my cabin and hide under my cot or inside my trunk.

As a techno-tard, I have several pet peeves concerning computer use.  Why do they have to ask me if I'm "Sure that I want to proceed" or "Sure that I want to delete this" or "Sure that this is what I want to do" - idiots!!! Of course I am not sure - I don't know what I am doing - so they ask this unsure individual and I have to say "NO" - and consequently, nothing gets done.  Why couldn't they give mutiple choices, like if you proceed this will specific thing will happen, or do this and something else will happen?  I'm afraid if I go past these warnings that my computer will crash and I will be lost forever without any access to technology.

Another thing that really annoys me, and it took me forever to get past it, is that dam pop up window that comes up when you visit a web site and it says something about do you want to only see the material that was delivered safely or do you want to see everything and risk infecting and maybe, killing your machine.  Do you remember the scene in the movie Speed  where Kenau Reeves is telling everyone on the bus about the bomb that is on the bus that's gonnal blow if they slow down or anyone gets off the bus - and Sandra Bullock stands up and forcefully says "STOP, you are scaring all these people" ?  Well, I feel like those people whenever I see that dam blue pop up. I just wish that they would leave me in blissful ignorance once in while.
I don't know if there's a 10 step program for techno-tards or if it's a permanent condition.  I know that I have come a long way in my computer knowledge, but I also know that I have a hell of allot further to go than I have come. I think I am going to quit camp - I really was feeling pretty good about my expanding skills, and then one stupid sentence sends me for a loop and qualifies me as a failure at the easiest task that probably will be assigned.  The only thing is - they are going to be discussing Twitter - and that means, maybe, I could send tweats...don't know how much business it could generate, but it just sounds like fun..."don't bother me, I'm tweating"  Of course, with a line like that, my husband might have me committed with a bird fixation...I'll have to think on that one!!!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Getting Rid of the Elephant in Your Studio

I feel like I have spent the last several weeks killing my children! No, I am not a child killer, but I really needed to weed and feed all the jewelry that I have made since the get go and it was really, really hard.  I now have several containers of sterling silver to be recycled and lots of odd beads to think about all over again. With the price of metals today - I may just have made a sizable amount of money, one more bonus involved in this task.

This has been hard, because I really like what I make - if I don't, I rip it apart when I make it and start over, so any finished product has a small place in my heart.  I had pieces from when I  started doing this seriously, but didn't have the slightest idea of what I was doing.  I have some interesting coils, some hellacious wrapped loops, that take allot of imagination to be called either wrapped or looped, lots of clasps made out of way too fine wire - they look okay, but as clasps that don't quite cut it.  My wire ends never seemed to get tucked, because I could never figure out where to tuck it. There are lots of strung things that have bare wire on the closed jumpring and no crimp covers - I was so excited about these pieces when I made them, and now they look bare and unfinished to me.  I thought the other day that I couldn't believe that I sold things like this and that people bought them...I was proud of them and the people were happy. I'm not even going to mention the eye glass leashes that I truly started is honestly a miracle that they have lasted this long and that is all that I am going to say about them, except, they deserve an honorable death.  Ah well  - guess this is where the old "live and learn" adage comes in.

I have about four piles while I am working.  The first one is for pieces that I can still use for donations, either a couple of schools that have auctions or the local woman's shelter. The second pile is things that need to die a fast and easy death - they must be demolished - completely, and hopefully the parts can be reused.  The greenies can finally be proud of me. I do the dirty deed as quickly as possible, so I don't have second thoughts. I have a third pile for things that are functional but need some sort of rehabbing - a new clasp, crimp covers, whatever it takes to make the piece sellable again. Unfortunately, I have a fourth pile and this is for things that I can't deal with just yet - they don't really fit into one of the first three piles, but they definately need something - if only for me to make up my mind.

Until you face this elephant that is growing in your studio, you have no idea how hard this can be.  I think that we all have storage problems and I really couldn't fit much more in my studio, and I needed to dejewelrize (new word) my living room/ dining room. If I take any more space, my husband is going to have to move out, and since we are now down to one car, that could present a whole new set of problems - maybe he could sleep in the car???? In any case, this is hard - we created these pieces - we labored over the designs - we cleaned - oxidized - whatever it took to make them, we did it - and now we have to undo it and it is a difficult task.  We have the ultimate emotional involvement in our jewelry - almost like our kids - and to destroy them really goes against my grain. However, it is a task that will give you a sense of accomplishment when you are done, it'll free up lots of storage space, and last, but by no means least, it needs to be done. 

The quide line that I use is - would I be willing to show this piece of jewelry to one of the boutique owners that carries my jewelry now in their shop??? This really cuts the mustard for me - I am merciless in applying this criteria to my stockpile.  You might have a totally different line of thought - depending on what you do with your jewelry after it is finished, but there should be some devining rod that you can use. Figure out that base criteria that you are going to use, adhere to it, and start cleaning up.

Now I have to admit something to all of you who might read this post - I came into my studio this afternoon with the intention of finishing up my jewelry cleanup - and somehow I found myself sitting at my computer, writing about the task rather than completing the task - I have been at this for about four weeks, in little dibs and dabs, and I probably only have one good afternoon left to finish it up, but what's left are the hardest decisions, and I keep wanting to delay them...Now I have spent enough time that I can put this off for a couple more days, because it's almost dark out and the lighting where I have this set up is just too poor to work in after the sun goes down.  Great excuse, what????

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Terrific Tucson

I am one of the lucky people who lives in Arizona and am about 150 miles from the Gem Show.  I think that the first two weeks of February are nirvanna for jewelry artisans.  I have, so far, spent three days in this gem studded heaven and plan on making one more trip next week.

We went down the first day that the show opened so that I could see the vendor/friend that I met last year while she had all her goodies.  She was at HoJo's where I had allot of luck finding things last year - and this year was even better.  My Tibetan lady and her fantastic pendants were back - she smiled when we walked in and said that she remembered us from last year.  Next year, the smile will be even bigger, because I did allot more damage there than last year...but everything that I made from her supplies has sold.  I found a great vendor with natural colored coral that was reasonable and some nice stones and pearls.  We also found the best burrito I have ever had in the food court.

Our next trip was on Monday - it's nice being retired, you can go when other people can't - and we went to the To Bead True Blue show and I was so dissappointed that we left after only an hour.  It was supposed to be wholesale and retail - but the vendors evidently didn't know what wholesale was.  They all wanted me to buy $300.00 to $500.00 worth of their product and then they would give me 10 to 20% off, I said, "Gee, thanks" , and left for the Grant Inn Show.  That was fantastic.  As we were walking down one aisle, I said to my husband to look around - everyone was on their cell phones and everyone was speaking a different language.  I got ostrich egg shell of the first things that man used in jewelry making.  I saw a strand of beads that was made before Christ was born.  I found keishi pearls so my daughter can have her Christmas present.  She'd picked out a triple strand of said pearls, and I sold them and I had no more and they've been back ordered for several months.  Very bad mother, but good business woman.

I wore the new necklace that I made after my trip to my friend on Friday and three vendors went bonkers over it...and they see allot of jewelry, so that made me feel really good.  It has a centerpiece of an antique African pewter bead, big, brown, flat nuts, and beads made from fossilized mammoth is really pretty special and if the sun ever comes out in Arizona again, I will add a picture.  By the time I hit my friends booth again, I thought she was going to make an announcement over the loud speaker about the necklace...but it was fun. I have added the picture - not the best one in the world, but you get the idea.

Tuesday was my downfall.  We went to the Gem Mall and that is composed of two very large tents.  We hit the first tent fairly early and we couldn't have gone more than 50 feet, when I said to my husband, that we had to leave.  For some reason, he wanted to know why, when there was so much that we hadn't seen, and I told him that I had blown my budget and then some.  He tried to give me a lecture on restraint at that point, and I said that I had more than a fair share of restraint, but not when it comes to stones, bones and unique things to put into jewelry.  If I didn't see it - I couldn't buy it.  I tempted him with the promise of another one of those home made burritos - and off we went to HoJo's again so I could check the new shipment of pendants that my Tibetan vendor had gotten.

We are returning one day this week as I have a short list of things that I still need to purchase, hopefully, I will head directly to the booths where they are located and I won't get distracted by something fantastic, either that, or someone will buy 50 necklaces in the next two days, even 10 would do the trick, and I can shop some more, because my cash is gone and my plastic is seriously close to a major meltdown.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Thoughts on Weddings

I am involved in the Artisan Wedding Fair with my shop on Artfire and there is a link on my main page to the blog for the wedding fair that has all the participants...and there are allot of them with beautiful and very useful products.  If you or someone in your close circle is planning a wedding this year, it really would be worth your while to check it out.  We are supposed to blog about weddings, and that is what I am doing here...the only problem is that I don't feel like I have allot to say...but, as usual, I'll give it the old collage try.

My husband, John, and I have been married for almost 46 years - so our wedding is way back where I can hardly remember anymore.  Other than the fact that I was a New England wasp marrying a Slovac Catholic, and all the stress that that created, mostly for my mother, not much is crystal clear.  However, I do remember a few culture clashes - but those should be relegated to the back of my mind where they have been for almost 46 years.

Both of our daughters were married in our back yard in Warren, Ohio.  Warren is a small town with, at that point, no wedding co ordinators.  I have a few points to make to anyone planning a backyard ritual - first of all, think long and hard, because it can and does rain in most parts of this country.  It rained until 5:00 for the 5:30 wedding of one of our daughters, you want to talk about was ugly. Thank goodness, I was wearing a hat for that one, cuz there was not enough time to dress and do my hair.  Both ceremonies turned out beautifully but they were allot of work.

I decided, when I found out about the first wedding that I needed some help.  I knew with everything being at home that when the inevitable crisis happened on the day of the wedding that I needed someone capable of handling it without involving me.  I asked our decorator to give me a hand, because I had done business with her for years and she was organized and anile - just what I needed.  It worked out fantastically...she got people seated before the ceremony...started the music when it had to start for the all the wedding party down the aisle...and best of all, helped me plan and do the decorations. This became a great sideline to her decorating business, other than the fact that she wouldn't charge me, I had no complaints.  She helped with the second wedding too - which if anything was even harder, because we had done such a great job on the first wedding that there didn't seem to be any way to do as good a job, but we did manage. Both of our daughters had beautiful, dry, outdoor weddings.

I remember highlights from both of those special days - Lisa had very specific ideas on the table flowers, we had pictures of how she wanted them to look and the flowers to include to give to the florist.  The flowers arrived with bright orange lilies - lovely flowers, but neither the color nor the flower were on Lisa's list - that was a tearful moment that got worse with each delivery.  I just pulled the offending flowers and threw them out and we solved the problem.  Amanda calling me when her dress came in, in tears, that her dress made her look like a pregnant marshmallow.  Amanda's lovely and slighty weird friends from art school, posing around our yard in yoga poses - neither John, nor his sister knew what was going on. The Scottish bridesmade that had to find a chemist - took me a half hour to figure out she needed a drug store.  The cookies I worked weeks on left in the freezer by the caterer.  I could go on and on, but the best memory is of two beautiful brides, who had the wedding that they wanted, in the yard that they wanted to be married in, and they were both married by my sister.  They were both very special days.

I can only wish that you too have a very special day and that your marriage is long, loving, and joyfull....