Monday, August 30, 2010

Big News: Opening New Etsy Shops

Hi to anyone who might read this!  I've decided after much thinking that it is time to open other Etsy shops so my items form a more cohesive whole.  Currently in my ScrapMetal shop on Etsy I sell my handcrafted jewelry and my digitally produced scrapbooks.  Though my shop name, ScrapMetal, melds these two crafts together, the reality is that my scrapbooks seem glaringly out of place amidst the baubles.  This, I've taken the plunge as others have done and opened a second Etsy shop:  ScrapMetal Memories

Time will tell if it is a good decision or not, but since my scrapbooks have not been selling in my jewelry store, it seems to be a good move. They were not getting the attention they deserved;  now maybe they will!

Also in the works:  another new Etsy shop of mine called Scrapmetal Statements  will be launched soon, within the next couple of weeks.  This shop takes my love of jewelry and digital design to a new level.  In this shop I will sell ID lanyards with a twist.  Those of us who have to wear ID badges to work have to sacrifice style over function.  So I have created a line of beaded necklace lanyards.  The lanyards will be strung with semiprecious beads and have the swivel hook at the bottom for the ID badge.  But that's not all.  The best part about these necklace lanyards is that along the side you can attach your favorite ScrapMetal Statements pendant.  Each pendant has a digital image of a retro woman uttering some sassy saying.  I make the pendants using Photoshop Elements, brass bezel cups, and epoxy resin.  And what's even better is the necklace lanyards have spring clasps so you can switch out your favorite pendant depending on your mood.  You can also purchase multiple necklaces to match your outfits.   I will let you know when I'm opening the ScrapMetal Statements store.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Etsy Jewelry Shop of the Week- ChristineBossler

christinebossler is a wonderful Etsy artisan.  She is a metalsmith concentrating on jewelry that features some interesting and painstaking techniques.  Granulation, the process of fusing tiny round balls of metal onto your pieces, is one of her specialties. See the example below:
I love the look of granulation, it has a long history in goldsmithing, but it is not an easy technique to do, let alone master, as Christine has done.

This necklace is my favorite from her shop.  Of course, I love illusion style necklaces using freshwater pearls, and I've made a few myself, but none as intricate as this.  And check out the clasp!
There are also some spiky pieces in her shop like this one.  I cannot imagine how she solders on each spike. She can't just use gravity to keep the spike on there!!  Maybe I can ask her what the secret is.
Another piece that uses an interesting technique are these repoussed earrings.  Repousse is another old technique used to emboss metal by supporting it in a soft substance, like pitch, then using metal tools to incise designs.  Again, not a technique for the amateur like me!!

Now here's a cool item:  earrings made with silicone and manipulated hair extensions, part of a series on what makes beauty in our culture.  Pretty cool, but I didn't know hair extensions came in that vibrant shade of red!!

Come check out this shop.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

My favorite piece in my Etsy shop

 I made this necklace for the Mad Scientists of Etsy August challenge on endosymbionts. So what is an endosymbiont, you might ask?  The science teacher in me now gets to explain.  An endosymbiont is any organism that lives within the body or cells of another organism. For example, it has been theorized that various cell parts like chloroplasts and mitochondria were at one time in the very distant past free-living cells, but were incorporated into other cells and became part of the cell.  This pendant tries to capture the idea of a cell and its endosymbiotic parts. I've used some artistic license here. It's an abstract representation, an actual cell does not look exactly like this.  OK, 'nuff science talk!!!

On to the main attraction: I hand fabricated this pendant out of sterling silver. Then I created the cells "parts":  a sterling disc was dapped into a dome, another dapped into a saucer that I crimped to create a ruffled texture.  I soldered the sterling dome and  wavy saucer on to the backplate, then embellished the saucer with freshwater pearls and textured the dome.  I bezel set an aventurine cabochon for added interest.   A heavy gauge sterling silver "flagellum" extends from the end. (For the non-science folk out there, a flagellum is a whip-like "tail" that allows some cells to propel themselves, think sperm, for example.)

Here's the listing on Etsy
Endosymbiont pendant

Here is the piece on my Handmade Spark Mini-site:

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Etsy Jewelry Site of The Week: JoyfulCrow

Are you ready to drool? If you like stones of all kinds, precious metals, and unique designs you'll adore what Barney at Joyfulcrow has created. Nothing is trite about what he makes, no lazily wrapped peridot briolettes here- this is the real goods!  Plus Barney has a steady supply of fabulous stones because he also does lapidary.  His other store on Etsy (which I have ogled in fascination) is lapidarious, a shop filled with earthly wonders just itching to be set by someone. 

You can also catch of glimpse of how nice this man is by reading some of his forum posts on Etsy, particularly the Aspiring Metalsmiths and the Chatty Metalsmiths threads.  He is so willing to help out with a problem or give advice to one of us fledgling gals.

Here is a sampling of some of Barney's work, all of which is so captivating that I can't say which is my fav!

Which one is your favorite?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Book Review- "Read My Pins" by Madeleine Albright

For the Etsy Team Aspiring Metalsmiths July Challenge, the theme was to create a piece of jewelry for a celebrity.  This seemed a daunting task since many celebrities sport jewelry that's stratospheric  in terms of materials and skill level.  But I did my due diligence using Google and found an interesting inspiration: Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State during the Clinton administration. She distinguished herself diplomatically by wearing pins that made a statement for whatever event, meeting, press conference, or speaking engagement she was involved in.  At first she was just a jewelry collector, specializing in pins because brooches were more comfortable and easier to wear than other types of adornment.  Then in October 1994, with Saddam Hussein nipping at our heels, Secretary Albright made the mistake of criticizing him for not complying with halting his weapons programs.  An anonymous poem was published in the Iraqi press that was  the equivalent of a school child's rant, but one phrase in that poem changed Madeleine's life forever.  The poet called her "an unparalleled serpent," to which most people would probably respond with an equally vicious remark.  But not Madeleine, no, she recalled a serpent brooch in her collection and thought that it would be an interesting piece to wear at a meeting with the Iraqis, but would anyone notice or care?  One press officer did and asked her why she wore that particular pin.  She said it was her way of sending a message.  Thus the legend is born.  From then on, Ms. Albright wore pins as a way of  making wordless statements about a cause she was promoting, a sentiment she had, an honor to a particular person or country, or a symbol of an event. 

The pictures in this book are astonishing- so many beautiful baubles.  When my husband saw the book he asked "How much are those things worth?"  It might surprise you that a woman of such power would have jewelry of very humble origins, but it's true.  Most of her pieces are costume jewelry, worth very little money and made of base metal and imitation stones. Yes she does have some high end pieces, made of gold and precious gems, as well as some handmade artisan pieces. But the value of these pieces goes beyond money- it's about what the shiny trinkets meant that was important.

There are so many examples in the book of the different pins she has worn and why, but I will mention a few here that are the most interesting:

Americana- her most extensive collection, used whenever she wanted to relay her proud feelings as an American (even though she is Czech-born, she became a naturalized citizen).

Turtles- worn when Madeleine was impatient with the slowness of negotiations

Crabs- when she was agitated

Ladybugs- worn when feeling happy

Hot air balloons- when she had high hopes

Owls- worn when wise action was needed

Spiders- when she was feeling devious

Bees- when she wanted to send a sharp message

Mushrooms-  "I have nothing to say at this time."

Pick up this book, based on a touring jewelry exhibition from The Museum of Art and Design in NYC (one of my favorite museums ever), if you love jewelry and what it can reveal about the wearer.  Right now the exhibition in in Washington, DC at the Smithsonian Castle.

Oh, and back to the challenge piece:  here is my pin dedicated to Madeleine Albright.  Sterling silver dove with  peridot eye: