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The Wedding is almost HERE! And I’m not ready.

Seriously, where does the time go? It really seems like just yesterday I announced my engagement to this awesome guy. Remember that awesome Mass Effect proposal he did?

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And now the wedding is here. Well, in September anyway. We haven’t even planned our cake yet! We’re having fun getting the music list together though. Neither of us is the most successful dancer, nor even passably graceful, so we’re having karaoke to avoid serious injuries. (Not that either of us are any good at singing. Should be a Youtube worthy wedding!) I’m not sure that the photographer/DJ really understood how offbeat we are. The suggested music list was full of R&B, soulful country ballads, and hiphop. Where were the video game scores and trance music, and who has a wedding without at least one Beatles tune? I’d love to do my walk down the isle to the Spectre Induction from Mass Effect 1. I hope the DJ can get the soundtrack! I would feel so EPIC!

Cover of "Mass Effect Original Game Sound...

Cover of Mass Effect Original Game Soundtrack

I’m still searching around the internet for some shoes. I’m leaning toward Tardis does. 1. I LOVE the Doctor. 2. My bridesmaids are in Tardis blue dresses! Maybe these?

LeadFoodLucy’s Tardis Heels

 

I just hope I’ve got them in the budget, haha! Did I mention that we’re closing on a townhouse in July? Just in time for my man’s birthday! I’m so excited. There’s just something about leaving the apartment life that feels so good. No matter how much personal stuff we have, or how we decorate, living in an apartment always feels transient. Everything can change at any time. I’m looking forward to settling down. (Yes, 12-year-old self, I said settling down. Don’t freak out.)

Anyway, there are still a million decorations to make. I’ve got to make paper flowers, candy for our Honeyduke’s dessert table, wooden signs with things like “Always.” and “Allons-y!” and “Mawwage” and little coin/candy pouches for the favors, and more, but I don’t have my list in front of me. Check out my Pinterest board if you want to see the styles I’m thinking of!

I love this bouquet! I really want to do this, but have some of the flowers be pages from my favorite books. (Copies! I could never bring myself to actually rip up a book.)

Love this bouquet!! Aren’t the colors fantastic?

And we’ve GOT to have a Monster Book of Monsters for our guest book.

Check out this Harry Potter wedding. Talk about a theme!

To all of you on Pinterest, if you find cool geek wedding DIY‘s send those pins my way! I can use all the help I can get!

 

I’m so ready to BE married. To come home to my HUSBAND and call him that all the time! But the wedding itself? So not ready. I just hope I don’t panic when everyone looks at me. And I hope I don’t trip on the way down the isle.

Uncommon Goods

So, I got to the semifinals on my very first jewelry design competition!

As you may remember, I’m so shy when it comes to my work. I like to agonize for days, then post a picture, and run away and hide. I’m constantly concerned with how others will perceive my work, and whether I can really consider myself a designer. From talking with other artists, this is a totally common feeling. That’s good and bad! I’m not alone, but the feeling will probably never fade. I’ll just have to shut it up with chocolates and sushi.

Anyway! I saw Uncommon GoodsJewelry Design contest on the very last day of submissions, and though, “Why not. I’m feeling brave today.” I submitted my Ivy in the Garden ring, inspired by the book The Secret Garden.  It’s always been a favorite of mine, ever since I was a kid. It’s actually created a “life dream” for me. I desperately want a house with ivy climbing the walls. Or the porch. Or the chimney. Or everywhere.

“…she took another long breath, because she could not help it, and she held back the swinging curtain of ivy and pushed back the door which opened slowly-slowly.” -The Secret Garden

“…she took another long breath, because she could not help it, and she held back the swinging curtain of ivy and pushed back the door which opened slowly-slowly.”
-The Secret Garden

Then I got the best email. I got to the semifinals! YES!

But Uncommon Goods has an uncommon way of selecting products for their site. It’s an amazing strategy; I don’t know why more online companies haven’t adopted this! They open up to the community, and let people VOTE on what they want to see on the site. Not enough votes, they don’t purchase it. Lots of votes, they wholesale from the artist, and everyone wins.

I’ve got a shot now! But I need a bit of help. This shy thing that I have isn’t helping me at all, especially with social network building, which in all honesty, is the most important thing any artist can do. I’m doing to use this to push myself out of my comfort zone and evolve from reclusive artist, to confident designer. I hope!

So if you’re seeing this, would you mind going to Uncommon Goods and voting for my ring? I’d really appreciate it!

Flourish & Thrive Academy Multiply Your Profits

I’m excited to be entering the Flourish & Thrive Academy Multiply Your Profits scholarship! Crossing my fingers!

 

As you all know, 2014 is going to be a huge year for me. (Getting married!) This has also caused me to really sit down and reevaluate every part of my life, including my jewelry business. 
I started out with polymer clay, and loved the freedom and versatility it offered, but am moving into more easily replicable designs, like my new bronze rings. 

 

Instead of working in wax, I use metal clay to make the original. Part of that choice is my impatience; since I have a kiln in my studio, I don’t need to wait for casting. So far, it’s made a huge difference in my mentality. Instead of worrying about running out of time, or hand making hundreds of pieces between shows, I can design more freely. I’m also teaching myself 3D rendering.

Unfortunately, I have run into a catch-22. My marketing skills are minimal at best, and I want to focus on designing rather than promoting because I feel uncomfortable putting myself out there. I’d love to be able to hire someone to do marketing for me, so I can really concentrate on what I do best, but because I’m not good at promoting my designs, I don’t consistently have enough to commit to a marketer. I need to learn to share my jewelry without feeling pushy or boastful, so I can get my sales to a place where I can play to my strengths and afford help in those areas where I’m lacking.

One of my favorite parts about designing a new piece is research. I created a small collection, Towee, that is completely based on literary quotes. The thrill for me was analyzing each book, finding the themes, and then taking the perfect quote and turning it into a tiny sculpture. I love to steep myself in inspiration, and find every facet of meaning that I can, while still creating a piece that can simply be beautiful. Armenta is one of my idols because of this. The amount of cultural significance and symbolism in her jewelry is apparent, and yet her designs are still beautiful to people who know nothing of the piece’s heritage.

Ideally, one day I’ll have help to take care of marketing and accounting, so I can spend more time on research, design, and innovation. I’d like to have wholesale accounts with large chains. Hopefully this will give me the sense of security I need in order to take risks with my designs. Playing it safe is salable, but I’d like to have enough of a financial cushion to design some outrageous pieces for the sake of creation, and see them on a runway.

I’d love to move my production to the Philippines, where I have family. My ultimate dream would be to have a facility where employees would be given an opportunity to design, if they wanted. Hopefully by then my brand would be well know enough that featuring their work would help them break into a world they wouldn’t have had the chance at before. It kills me to know that there are geniuses of every field, medicine, design, engineering, who are locked away in poverty. Ideas are nothing without opportunity and means, and I want to give that, if I can.

I know these dreams are years, maybe decades into the future, but I’m willing to push myself however much it takes to get there. I truly hope I get the Flourish and Thrive Academy scholarship so I can take another step.

 

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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!

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