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Sculpting with Goldie Bronze Metal Clay

Sculpting with Goldie Bronze Metal Clay

Last year, I tried out Hadar’s Brilliant Bronze clay (read about it here), and even though I was happy with it, I’m always checking out different materials. So I picked up a couple jars of Goldie Bronze clay. Goldie Bronze has a Soft recipe and a Hard one, so I was interested to see the differences between them, and the difference from Hadar’s.

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Goldie Bronze straight out of the jar

Both start as a powder, and need to be spritzed and mixed with water.

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Mixed and ready to use!

My little patty of clay is ready to go! I almost didn’t need to use my Slik (Cool Tools’ non-stick balm) to keep it from sticking to my hands. It’s very buttery. I did need to use it on my plastic surface though. The clay didn’t want to stick to my skin, but it didn’t want to let go of the plastic.

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I penciled in the design, and carved them out with my needle tool.

It’s been amazing to work with! I found I prefer the Hard recipe. It’s much easier to carve when dry, and holds its form very nicely. I can move shapes from the plastic to my polymer clay drying forms without having to worry as much about distortion.

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Bone dry, and ready to fire. I tweaked the design a little once I saw the size.

Firing was 2 part, just like any base metal clay. First segment was at 662°F for 40 minutes on a layer of carbon (not buried) in a stainless steel container (no lid). Although the instructions say that 30 min is good, I’ve had better luck extending the firing times on both segments. The second segment was 1508°F for an 1 hr buried in carbon with the stainless steel lid on (40 min in instructions, but again, I’ve had better luck holding longer). Don’t try to pick up or move the piece between firings! It’s super delicate and will crumble if handled the wrong way. And there’s no telling what the wrong way is until it’s too late.

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GORGEOUS kiln patina! Too bad I couldn’t preserve it.

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Polished up and the purple tourmaline cab is set.

The bezel was a little stiff when I was setting the purple tourmaline, so perhaps I should have made it out of Soft Goldie Bronze instead of Hard. Not sure if there’s a difference once they’re fired, but that’s a test for another day.

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! Time for some resolutions! Or at least some introspection.

So I’ve been seeing Shroeder Jone’s awesome cartoon on understanding introverts a lot lately. It’s all over my Tumblr feed, my Facebook feed, all the feeds. And it is SPOT ON. I even used it to explain to my mom why it takes a lot for me to do a jewelry show. It’s not the set up and the driving and the hours of frantic preparation that scare me, it’s the face time. The idea of getting out there and talking to people for hours at a time is daunting.

But once I manage to make it past the anxiety and actually get to the show, I’m pretty ok. Typically, people don’t crowd at  tables, so I get quality time with people. I get to make friends. And next time I do a show and see familiar faces, I feel a little more at ease. One of my business resolutions is to try and do more shows this year.

And it’s not that I don’t like people, it’s just that I feel so awkward. Like that kid who tells a joke, and everyone just stares. I even have to ask for help on social protocols on Facebook. For example, is it pretentious to Like it when someone shares your post? Does that read as, “Thank you for sharing my work, I really appreciate it!” or does it come off as, “That’s right. I’m awesome.” Help. What is Twitter for? I don’t post what I’m doing, or anything witty, or anything under 140 characters. What do I say….Help.

But social media is the way of the future! It’s how a random anybody can become a successful entrepreneur! All it takes is networking. So say all the books I’ve read, anyway. Blogging and posting are just as daunting as shows. Most of the things that I’d write about are very off topic. Like today, for example. I made jewelry and wondered about ducks. How do ducks’ legs not get cold? I see them swimming in our lake, and I know they have nerve endings in their legs, but do they just not mind cold? Their bodies have down, but what about the legs?

I’m going to try my best to be more active online instead of just lurking for another year, so please bear with the awkward and off topic that you see.

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Arts and Crafts Festival in Wilmington

On Saturday the 14th of December we had a table at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Wilmington Holiday Festival. It was so much fun! There were 23 artist vendors, not only selling wares appropriate to the season, but also supporting various causes. They served up snacks and soft drinks made by members and sold by the youth group to support their programs. One member sold many of her excess holiday decorations and donated all of the proceeds to the youth program. I decided to donate 10% of my sales to the Good Friends of Wilmington, an organization I only recently heard about.

This girl is awesome!

This girl is awesome!

 Among the very interesting people I met there was a fellow polymer clay artist who works in the steampunk genre. I am a big steampunk fan, so we shared a moment on that topic which quickly moved into technical issues we face and our love of clay working. Cyndi Buell creates the most wonderful one of a kind creations, so keep an eye on her Facebook for all the new critters! Watch her. Do it. Best of all, we are arranging a “clay date” for early next year. Who knows what weird and wonderful things can come out of our mixing styles.

I also experienced a touching gesture on the part of one of my apparent new fans. Chrystal and I had a long, wonderful conversation, and she bought a pair of my Infinity Twists, which she immediately put on to wear. Later she left the festival and went home. Still later, there she was again, to purchase another pair of twists and a ring. It warms my heart when someone so loves my work. As they say, actions speak louder than words.

My thanks to Sharon Moore, whose professionalism in arranging this festival was outstanding. Thanks also to my fiance, Elliot and my dad, Marvin, for their moral support (as well as fetching refreshments and helping with set up and take down).

Carving, carving, carving

Carving, carving, carving

As you can probably tell, I work mostly in 3D. The closest I get to 2D in my jewelry is surface embellishment in my polymer clay, and even that is built in a 3D way through caning.

I do like to doodle though!

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Since I want to start experimenting more with metal clay textures instead of my sculpting comfort zone, I decided to create my own texture plates based on my doodles.
I have an ImagePak stampmaker, but since my designs have so many tiny areas, the skinny ridges and dots came off while cleaning the stamp. That left me with one option: carve it myself.

My carving skills are very basic. I’ve carved lines on a rubber block, but ended up investing in the stamp maker for any real drawing. I took a piece of polymer clay and baked it, then pulled out my needle tool, Speedball and Dockyard carvers, and Sharpie, and went to town.

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About 2 hrs in! (I was making up the doodle as I went along.)

Luckily, my fiancee had the day off work, so I just sat next to him on the couch watching him play Arkham Asylum (which is pretty awesome, even if I’m not a Batman fan. I’m more of a Marvel girl than DC) and carving away.

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6 hrs in! I only stopped because a friend invited us to a cookout.

I (reluctantly) stopped for dinner and had a great time with our friends, but by 10, I was itching to get back to my doodle.

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Here we are at 2 am! Finally finished!

Finished! And then I realized that since this was what I wanted the texture to look like, I needed to make an inverse of it. So, another layer of polymer and baking using this as a mold, and voila!

Now that I’ve made the tool, I can get to work on the pieces!

My Hobby- Freshwater Fishkeeping

Since I have a lovely camera, and two lovely fish tanks, I decided to document my hobby! I’m always looking for more aquatic plants, and saving up for new (better!) equipment. Right now, my wish list is a high output light fixture for my 20 gal long tank, and maybe a pressurized CO2 system for my 20 as well so I can quit doing my yeast thing. And plants. MORE PLANTS!

Planted 20 gal long, DIY CO2, many baby guppies, 2 German Blue Rams, 2 Oto catfish. I'm saving up for better lighting!

Planted 20 gal long, DIY CO2, many baby guppies, 2 German Blue Rams, 2 Oto catfish. I’m saving up for better lighting!

This is one of my new German Blue Rams. Not fully colored yet, so I think it's a juvenile?

This is one of my new German Blue Rams. Not fully colored yet, so I think it’s a juvenile?

One of my two tiny Oto catfish! He's new, so I'm hoping he figures out that the zucchini is food. Luckily, there's a bunch of algae in the tank!

One of my two tiny Oto catfish! He’s new, so I’m hoping he figures out that the zucchini is food. Luckily, there’s a bunch of algae in the tank!

Full view of my 20 gal long. I have a DIY Co2 system, dwarf hairgrass, dwarf baby tears, kyoto grass, an amazon sword (out of the pic) and a mystery tall plant (jungle val maybe? Or spiralis? HELP!)

Full view of my 20 gal long. I have a DIY Co2 system, dwarf hairgrass, dwarf baby tears, kyoto grass, an amazon sword (out of the pic) and a mystery tall plant (jungle val maybe? Or spiralis? HELP!)

My shy German Blue Ram. She has tons of hiding spots, but this is the only one I could photograph her in.

My shy German Blue Ram. She has tons of hiding spots, but this is the only one I could photograph her in.

Full view of my 10 gal! No CO2, lightly planted, with 2 guppies, 4 harlequin rasboras, and a pleco. Bi weekly water changes because of the  pleco.

Full view of my 10 gal! No CO2, lightly planted, with 2 guppies, 4 harlequin rasboras, and a pleco. Bi weekly water changes because of the pleco.

 

10 gal planted- My amazon swords LOVE it. I've had this bunch for over a year, and I keep having to split it off. I have three other bunches that came from it, and it's still enough to hid the Pleco. (Don't worry! I change the water a lot, so the pleco isn't overwhelming the tank.)

10 gal planted- My amazon swords LOVE it. I’ve had this bunch for over a year, and I keep having to split it off. I have three other bunches that came from it, and it’s still enough to hid the Pleco. (Don’t worry! I change the water a lot, so the pleco isn’t overwhelming the tank.)

The ONLY shot I could get of my two male guppies in the 10 gal. They were born in the 20, but I moved them over so they'd stop making more babies.

The ONLY shot I could get of my two male guppies in the 10 gal. They were born in the 20, but I moved them over so they’d stop making more babies.

Back to the Theatre

Last week I disappeared off to the mountains of North Carolina. Beautiful place. My fiancee and I fell in love with it when we spent a weekend there 3 years ago, and have been aching to go back ever since.

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My pit stop on the drive up the mountain! I got here right at sundown.

This trip however, was less hiking and gem mining, and more work. After graduating with a BFA in Costume Design and Construction, I haven’t worked in a theatre at all. Instead, I’ve been building my jewelry business from home. But after 2 years away from the craziness of backstage, I got a call to help out with costume construction for a week.

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One of the little shopping squares off the street. On the right side is Kilwins!! Mmm, fudge, ice cream, and chocolates…

Obviously, I jumped at it. I left the morning after I got the call and drove the 6 hours across the state and up the mountains to Highlands, NC. What a gorgeous little town! We were so busy making costumes and doing alterations that I only got to see it in the daylight once the whole week.

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If any of you at the Lodge are reading this, those are blackberries outside, and they’re going to be delicious.

But what makes a job like that really great are the people, and these people were top notch. They all made me feel welcome, even if I was just a temp joining their summer stock on the last show.

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Look! No photosynthesis! They’re such cute little plants. They look like Bellsprout.

Now that I’m back home again, I miss it. My apartment seems smaller and quieter and I find myself talking to my dog a lot more than I used to, haha!

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“Bust-Your-Butt” Falls! Beautiful! This is where I stopped on my way down the mountain. Wish I could have jumped in for a bit!

Tips for Traveling with Jewelry

So you’re planning an exotic escape. You want to look your best of course! And while yes, your grandmother’s vintage strand of pearls is your go-to for every occasion, you may not what to pack those. But if not those, what do you pack to show off your style? So here are some questions to think about when picking your portable jewelry box.

1. Is it obviously valuable?

Jewelry should always draw some attention, but when you’re visiting a destination location, it’s not always wise to broadcast value. Jewelry has just as much value to a thief as your wallet does. While you may love the gorgeous diamond you got for your graduation, a passing appraiser doesn’t see the emotional value, just the dollar value they might acquire if you “lost” it. Opt instead for a bold statement piece made of less costly materials, or an intimate, delicate piece that has a story for you. Chose your piece based on the artistry rather than the materials value.

2. How many outfits can you wear it with?

With airlines charging more and more for baggage, packing as lightly as possible is a must. You’re going to packing for many different scenarios depending on where you’re going. If it’s a tropical paradise, you’ll need something that can work for a shopping trip, a beach day, sightseeing, and evening activities. And if you’re wearing different jewelry for each, it gets hard to keep track of everything you brought. Try packing a pair of stud earrings that are great for the shopping, sightseeing, and beach. If you’re into rings, stacking rings are perfect for travel. A set of 5 gives you enough options for weeks.

3. Is it easy to transport?

You may be thinking, “Jewelry is so small! Of course it’s portable!” But consider all those times you’ve almost been late because you can’t get the bracelet untangled from your necklace. If your dangle earrings keep attaching themselves to your beaded bracelet, pack them in separate ziplock baggies so you don’t sacrifice fun time to get ready. Your time is this wonderful new place is limited! If you’ve got a great glass pendant that works well with every outfit, but needs to be kept safe in a hard box, suddenly it’s not as portable.

4.Do you have to worry about it when you’re out and about?

If you have to worry about the safety of your jewelry when out and about, leave it home. Use the time you would have spent checking to see if you’ve lost an earring to take a great photo. Don’t back out of an impromptu hiking trip because you’re wearing something you don’t feel safe climbing with. That glass pendant from the last question isn’t such a good idea when touring an ancient city. Those wonderful quaint cobblestones can kill the glass if you trip. And who’s looking at their footing the first time they turn a corner and see the Colosseum in front of them? It’s always better to remember a place for it’s beauty than because you broke your favorite jewelry there.

Good luck with all your adventures, fellow travelers! Get out there and create amazing memories while looking fantastic!!

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