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Bronze and CZ Ring Fun!

Bronze and CZ Ring Fun!

I have had so much fun doing these rings! I’ve been obsessed with Dragon Age: Inquisition lately.

Besides doing what I LOVE doing, I also work part time retail, and drive for deliveries. And sometimes do transcription work. And study HTML, CSS, and Java. Those are so awesome!

So, the point is, Dragon Age has been an awesome get away from reality. Every choice I make is acted on, and all the characters just want me to succeed. And if they don’t feel that way, they have a health bar, and I can kill them. It’s awesome.

The more I play, the more Cassandra grows on me. She’s just awesome! Of course, I needed to make a ring.  I decided to get a little fancy with it, and go for a two part ring that stacks, and looks awesome one part at a time. Here’s my original sketch:

IMG_20160127_130709721.jpg

I had to change a few little things as I went, because I knew the look, but I forgot to think about the way the stones would actually fit. Whoops. Turns out, it wasn’t a huge deal.

I started with the bottom ring, the one with the sunburst, sort of like the Inquisition eye. The bottom ring was really supposed to be more of her shield. It’s a little chunkier than the top ring, and it’s definitely got more of an armor feel to it.

I forgot to take pictures of making the little sunburst, but basically I rolled out a few snakes, let them dry to leather-hard, then wet down the ring, and put the snakes where they needed to go. Since I dried them flat, I wet down the whole thing with my water pen, and pressed lightly until the snakes formed to the ring. I added snakes to the edges, and sanded down until they were flat on top instead of rounded.

Second ring! I made the top ring, and then cut out the hollow where the bottom stone fits in. I got really into it at this point, and forgot to take more pictures. Sorry! Basically, I added the stone, added snakes to match the trim on the bottom ring, and made little divots for the design.

All fired! I’m always blown away by the kiln colors. They did no disappoint! Look at those amazing rainbows! I’m sad, because every time I try to preserve the colors, they dull. But I guess they’re more beautiful because they won’t last.

All polished up and ready to go! I was so nervous that they wouldn’t fit nicely after they went through the kiln. There’s always shrinkage. But they all shrunk the same amount, and everything looks awesome!

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.

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. 😀

Story Time Again! A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Story Time Again! A Midsummer Night’s Dream

I’ve always loved Shakespeare. When I was a kid, my parents used to bring me to see Shakespeare on the Sound. Every summer, they’d preform a different play. The first one I can remember was “The Taming of the Shrew.” I had NO idea what it was about. Love and gender roles and courtship were way over my head at that age, and I remember trying to catch fireflies without leaving the picnic blanket.

“In this same interlude it doth befall That I, one Snout by name, present a wall. And such a wall, as I would have you think, That it had a crannied hole, or chink,” -A Midsummer Night's Dream

“In this same interlude it doth befall
That I, one Snout by name, present a wall.
And such a wall, as I would have you think,
That it had a crannied hole, or chink,”
-A Midsummer Night’s Dream

But one year, it was A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I was hooked. Puck was my mischievous idol for years, and I dreamed of having a bed like Titania’s bower. I have to say though, one of my absolute favorite parts of the play was Bottom’s theatrical troupe. And Snout! His bumbling role as the Wall still makes me laugh. A Midsummer Night's Dream Wall So, I simply had to make a Wall. Even if no one but me gets it, I will wear my Wall proudly on days when I need a good laugh.

You can find it on Etsy, or my website!

My Solution to Symmetry

Typically my sketches are more “guidelines” than actual blueprints, but lately I’ve had to be much more accurate with my drawings. When I’m working in metal clay, I make my own templates out of paper and tape. (I laminate the paper with tape so that the clay doesn’t get my template too soggy.) Usually I’ll make things symmetrical and get the dimensions perfect in Illustrator. It makes it easy to size up and account for shrinkage depending on what kind of clay I’ll be using.

Right now, my printer is completely broken, which means no printed templates, unless I take a 15 minute drive out to Kinkos. That’s 30 minutes I could be spending sketching! So, I’m doing my templates the old fashioned way. Lots of measuring, multiplying, and then sketching one perfect half.

TemplateMaking

Then I x-acto out that half, fold it over on the midline, and trace it on the other side! Then cut again, and I have the outside template. From there, I just keep folding and cutting as I build it up in clay, until I have a finished metal piece, and a pile of paper scraps.

Life is ALMOST Normal!

I realized that I haven’t blogged much at all since the “craziness” started. Apologies! I was juggling jewelry tine, house-buying, wedding planning, and a part time job to help pay for it all. I know, we probably should have only done ONE huge life change at a time, but sitting here in our new home (with a real dining room and back yard!) and chatting with my husband, it’s all worth it.

Now I have no excuse! I made this blog to share works in progress, the stories behind some of my jewelry, and some random things that I find interesting, and now that the dust has settled, I’ve got to start sharing more.

I get inspiration from a lot of different sources, and honestly, most of them need explanation. I draw a lot of ideas from books, TV shows, and video games, so I like to give backstory when I can. My hope is that my designs can be appreciated without the explanation, but be even more special once you know the “why.” And if it inspires you to read the book, watch the show, or play the game, let me know! We can geek out together!
I’ve got a couple designs in various stages of work right now, including new armor pieces, some flame jewelry that’s carved and ready to become metal, and a whole new set of drawings for a Supernatural themed set. Some work in progress shots are up on my Instagram, so check out the link on my sidebar!

So, that’s about it for today, but keep checking in for stories! Also, if you see any jewelry on my website that you’d love to know more about, just let me know in the comments, and I’ll do a post about it!

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!