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Maker Crush Monday!

Maker Crush Monday!

I’ve decided to do something a little different for 2016. I’m trying to be a bit more consistent about posting, and I thought, “What if I write about some of my favorite makers?”

There are so many incredible makers out there, in so many different mediums, and I would love to share some of them with you!

My first Maker Crush was easy for me to pick. Wanaree Tanner is one of the most accomplished metal clay artists in the world, having won the 2013 Saul Bell Award in the metal clay category for this piece.

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She’s done a few tutorials for Metal Clay Magazine, and I watch them incessantly. I also love to watch her videos behind the scenes creating her gorgeous pieces. Click here to watch her creating “The Gate” based on a gate she saw at the Garden of the Gods in Thailand.

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Everything she creates has such incredible levels of detail. Every piece seems to have a secret. Or two. I just love it! She is such an inspiration to me.

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Check out her blog for many more beautiful works of art!

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Flourish and Thrive’s 20 Sales in 20 Days Challenge

I don’t usually do challenges, but I figured it was about time I push myself out of my comfort zone a bit. I also figured I’d have time! HA!
Things have gotten insanely busy! I really couldn’t be happier though; more hours at my part time job means more funds towards getting a new and better torch, and the other busy part is custom work. I absolutely love throwing my heart and soul into a custom piece for someone. Getting to know them and connect with them on that level is amazing.

Just got the prototype for a custom ring in from Shapeways! She lost an earring, so we're turning the remaining one into a new, beautiful ring!

Just got the prototype for a custom ring in from Shapeways! She lost an earring, so we’re turning the remaining one into a new, beautiful ring!

Anyway, back to the challenge. Day 1 is about making a “special of the day.” I decided to do a flash sale, since I’ve never really done one before. I always allow about a week for my coupon codes, but this one is a one day only! Using the coupon code NIGHTOWL at melissadawndesigns.com, you can get $15 off your purchase of $100 or more, so today is the day to grab something for you, your friends, and your mom, all at the same time!

Go to MelissaDawnDesigns and use coupon code NIGHTOWL for $15 off a $100 purchase! Oct 12-Oct 13 only!

Go to MelissaDawnDesigns and use coupon code NIGHTOWL for $15 off a $100 purchase! Oct 12-Oct 13 only!

I shop for other people all the time, but rarely for myself, so this offer was my little way of trying to get you to treat yourself, while still mostly shopping for gifts. The gift you give, you give yourself!

Happy Anniversary!

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Tomorrow marks one year of marriage for my husband and me. One year of being a wife. Honestly, I can say that things haven’t really changed at all, and I love it! We are still best friends, still madly in love, still on the same page. Sure, jobs changed and we redecorated a bit. But as far as our love goes, it’s strong and only growing stronger. We have so much respect for each other, and that allows to understand the other’s quirks. I’m really fortunate to have found someone who loves and accepts me for who l am and doesn’t judge me when I’m socially anxious or a complete workaholic.

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Every challenge we’ve faced so far, we’ve handled like Amy and Rory I “Together, or not at all.” He and I are constantly changing, but we always grow together. Happy Anniversary, and may we always love who the other becomes!0293_www.BlueBoxWeddings.com_IMG_5389

The (Finally) Finished Arkenstone! (Pic Heavy)

The (Finally) Finished Arkenstone! (Pic Heavy)

This stone has quite a history for me. It’s not exactly a rare find or anything. It’s just a simple 10mm 5 ct mystic topaz. Mystic topaz are treated to give them their rainbow look. Anyway! I found this one at a stall in the Philippines while visiting my mom. Most of the stalls just had pearls, but this one had a lovely array of faceted stones, and I couldn’t resist. I brought home quite a few, including this one.

The Arkenstone, my 5 ct mystic topaz.

The Arkenstone, my 5 ct mystic topaz.

I grew up loving Tolkien, and still do, so as soon as I saw it, I thought it would be a great Arkenstone. I bought it knowing exactly what I wanted it to be, but no idea how to do it. I’ve been trying to come up with a design for the past 3 years, and have finally come up with something I liked!

The templates are ready and cut out using the Cricut Explore.

The templates are ready and cut out using the Cricut Explore.

So many times I tried to come up with a setting and couldn’t think of a thing. So many scrapped drawings. But it’s finally done! I made the templates in Illustrator, and cut them out with the Cricut Explore. I used a medium grade cardstock so that it would be a bit sturdier and not warp as much when it’s on the metal clay.

I prefer Goldie Bronze Clay Hard, but I’ve been trying out the 50/50 mix of hard and soft to see if that captures better detail. Since I do most of my carving when the clay is dry, I think I’ll stick to just hard. The dry clay tends to be more flexible when it’s got soft in it, so I always feel like I’m about to snap the piece.

Here's the underside of the setting, before I decided it was way too plain.

Here’s the underside of the setting, before I decided it was way too plain.

The prongs are all on, and the knot work is carved and secured.

The prongs are all on, and the knot work is carved and secured.

Remember how I said the back was too plain? I fixed it with more knots.

Remember how I said the back was too plain? I fixed it with more knots.

Working on the bail now.

Working on the bail. I kept thinking I was going to snap it while carving.

It's all ready to go in the kiln now!

It’s all ready to go in the kiln now!

The patina, fresh out of the kiln! I always take pictures because the colors never last.

The patina, fresh out of the kiln! I always take pictures because the colors never last.

The seat is cut, and the stone is set. After 3 years, it has a home.

The seat is cut, and the stone is set. After 3 years, it has a home.

The back, all polished and bright!

The back, all polished and bright!

And one last finished shot! Now to design the clasp for the chain.

And one last finished shot! Now to design the clasp for the chain.

Studio Streaming

Studio Streaming

I’ve always loved visiting other artist’s studios while they’re working. I don’t really care what the medium is, or what they’re working on, I just love watching them work. One day, I’d love to have a store with studio spaces for artists. There just aren’t many nearby that are comfy and inviting for visitors.

The beginnings of a custom piece! She wanted amethysts, so that's where I started.

The beginnings of a custom piece! She wanted amethysts, so that’s where I started.

Sketches and the armor ear cuff I just made.

Sketches and the armor ear cuff I just made.

I love having people over to my home studio. I love explaining my tools and showing people how I do my work. So, I’ve been toying with the idea of streaming some studio time.

Creating the bezel setting for the tiny purple tourmaline.

Creating the bezel setting for the tiny purple tourmaline.

I’d pretty much just be doing what I always do, bouncing from project to project, listening to my Pandora stations, but I’d also be able to chat with people about whatever they’re seeing. We could share stories, swap tool tips,  laugh at my clumsiness, whatever the day brings.

My gorgeous mortar and pestle! I love how it matches my marble top work bench.

My gorgeous mortar and pestle! I love how it matches my marble top work bench.

It would also give me incentive to clean my space more often, haha!

So, if I streamed it, would you come?

Sketching at Caribou Coffee! Sometimes it's nice to have a change of scenery.

Sketching at Caribou Coffee! Sometimes it’s nice to have a change of scenery.

Tea Time and Quiet Moments

Like most artists, my studio space is a specialized area with many tools, myriad materials, and lots of works in progress. To the untrained eye, it’s a mess.

Honestly, my mind is no different. It jumps from one thing to another with no rhyme, reason, or warning. I make lists daily just to keep myself on task. I try to take time away from work to recenter myself and recharge, but it’s so difficult. Luckily, I’ve discovered tea.

My mom has always loved English tea. Not just the actual teas, but the ritual that goes along with it. The timing, serving, snacks, tiny spoons, everything. As a kid, I never really understood the draw. I just wanted the cucumber sandwiches, and as much sugar as she’d let me put in my cup. Lately though, I found that I really understand. I read a lovely book called “The Book of Tea”  about Japanese tea ceremonies.

It’s not a tutorial type book. It’s more of a documentation of the culture of tea. Every single thing in the ceremony has a reason. It all celebrates subtlety, beauty, peace, and calm; all the things I could really use more of in my life. The precision of preparation and ritual in the tea house demands all your attention, even in its simplicity. There is perfection in simplicity, impossible to achieve when distracted.

Although I can’t have a tea house of my own yet, I’ve started planning a space in the spare room for tea. The room catches the afternoon sun, and there’s a mimosa tree right outside the window frequented by chickadees, sparrows, and cardinals. I have the perfect table, low to the ground, with lots of space for a tea set. I just need to make a sitting pillow for myself.

Losing myself in making the perfect cup of tea is so soothing. I have tea almost every day now. I really look forward to having a time and place just for tea.

Here’s a wonderful list of teas I found! It has tea from all over the world, and how people usually take it. I’m going to try them all one day! I’ve checked off English, South African (thanks to my best friend), and Chinese pu-erh so far.

Exciting News!

Exciting News!

So, July 2 was awesome!

Last week or so, I posted a few of my new pendants, including the improbable sperm whale from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

I love The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I love crazy Zaphod, (who I would never vote for as president, but I would definitely go to all his campaign speeches) I love Arthur, I love Marvin, and I love the Infinite Improbability Drive. Basically, I love it.  So I made a little sperm whale as a token of my affection.

“Another thing that got forgotten was the fact that against all probability a sperm whale had suddenly been called into existence several miles above the surface of an alien planet.” -Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

“Another thing that got forgotten was the fact that against all probability a sperm whale had suddenly been called into existence several miles above the surface of an alien planet.”
-Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

It’s part of my “Towee” collection, which is all based on quotes, and it makes me so happy every time someone orders a piece from that collection, because it means they probably love that book too. Since I’m not always in situations where I get to meet new people, (and I’m not always the best at striking up conversations) Towee is my little way of connecting with people. If they love the same books I do, that must mean they’re awesome people, and I can go about my day happy that there’s someone out there with the same taste as me.

So imagine how thrilled I was when I saw my tiny little whale in a Buzzfeed article!! I love Buzzfeed! It’s part of my morning Facebook routine to check out what’s new, and behold!

Click to see the other 26 awesome gifts in the article!

Click to see the other 26 awesome gifts in the article!

Anyway, things got busy, and it’s taken me days to write about it, but I’m still excited, so it still counts. 😀