The Art of Photography

Taking photos seems to be a challenge for most of us that haven’t been schooled in the art of photography.  Getting the right balance of  light and controlling reflections has always been one of my biggest challenges when photographing my jewelry.  I can always count on sunshine most days of the year  living in the southwest and up until a few months ago I did all of my photography outdoors.  I thought about it and decided that I really didn’t want to have to fair the cold weather this year to take photographs so I purchased a photo tent a few months ago.

 My Photo Tent

It has been quite a challenge to learn how to get the light just right with photographing indoors.  It was like learning how to photograph from scratch all over again.  I had to learn how to control the  light source all over again and get the photograph staged just right.

I guess I have to count my lucky start for digital photography; otherwise I would have wasted countless rolls of photo film.  Just one of the advantages of modern photography, I guess.

Practice, Practice, Practice…..

Here is a look at some of my latest photos, certainly much better than when I first started using the photo tent.

 Red Agate and Malachite Bracelet

Green Aventurine and Amethyst Bracelet

Carnelian and Fire Agate Bracelet

Red Creek Jasper and Copper Link Bracelet

Have you had any similar experiences with your photography?  Please share you stories.

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Bead Addiction

I have been working on getting a couple of mobile jewelry cases together so I can carry some of my pieces with me all the time.  I needed some stringed tags, so I stopped in one of my local suppliers to pick up some tags. 

Now keep in mind, I only stopped in for jewelry tags, I should have been in and out and should have cost me less than $5.  Well an hour an half  later, I walked out with a bag full of bead strands – I am starting to understand my husband allure to the hardware store now.  And of course I had to stop by the clearance table, there I found a few shell beads, don’t usually work with shell much but I’m sure I will find something to do with them.  In the bag there was Indian jasper, carnelian, malachite, lapis, and amethyst just to mention a few.    And it was definitely more than just a $5 total.

Yep, I am a bead addict!!  I could certainly have muxh worse vices than gemstones and beads…….

Yep! More Than just jewelry tag...

Much more than Jewelry tags

5 Reasons To Have a Pro Studio on Artfire

Artfire Group Deal

I  just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Artfire.  It is such a great online marketplace for selling and buying handmade goods and I am very proud to be a member of the Artfire community.  Thier latest promotion will knock your socks off – just another reason I LOVE ArtFire.  If you have an Artfire account and are thinking of upgrading to a Pro studio – now is the time.

Why should you have a Pro account on Artfire?

  1. Your goods are exposed to millions of shoppers around the globe through their SEO policies and the use of the Google search engine. 
  2. The internet traffic on Artfire only continues to grow and gets your studio more exposure.
  3. Pro accounts are given prefrence in the searches and listings.  The Pro studios account for 85% of the  total sales on Artfire.
  4. The tools offered for the Pro accounts are absolutely phenominal.  There are a wide range of account tools to help manage and promote your studio.
  5. Last, and certainly not least, You will not find another place that has such an outstanding support staff – they totally ROCK!!  They are quick to respond and helpful in so many ways.  Where else can you find a staff that  shows you how to create an online presence, take photographs, write SEO descriptions and give thier Artisans all the tools to be successful.

 And and right now ArtFire is offering a Group Deal to upgrade your account to Pro status…….

Over 4,000 artisans have already opted-in so far.  Join them today!  You won’t regret it.

Certified Handmade

Artfire Handmade Artifact

Yeah! My Artfire design studio has been certified handmade.

At ArtFire thier is a program to help their artisans promote their individual creativity and recognize their contributions to the ArtFire community.  It is called the Artifact Program .

Just another of the many reasons why I love Artfire!  They try and do so much for their Artisans.

In mid July they started accepting applications for the Handmade Artifact.  This artifact is a certification that an Artisan has made a choice to only place handcrafted items in their studio.  All of the items have to be handmade and not factory crafted or reproduced.   In the application I had to describe my craft, the design and creation process I use, demonstrate work in progress, and display the workspace that was used to  for the creations.  I am proud that My Twised Stone Designs studio displays the Handmade artifact.

This artifact will help distinguish the handmade artisan goods on Artfire. If you are looking for handmade goods on Artfire look for this artifact in the individual studios.
 

Sterling Silver Bracelet Projects

So on to the final projects.

It was about about 2:oo in the afternoon when we started these last projects.  I was just about worn out from all that hammering from the petal necklace but there was still more to do and I was having such a great time.  🙂  It really made me realize the stamina you would need to be a bench jeweler for 8 or more hours a day.  It gave me a new found appreciation for this artform.

The two final projects were sterling silver bracelets. 

Twist Bracelet

Twist Bracelet Project

The first bracelet was a twist bracelet.

We starting this bracelet with a piece of 10 gage square sterling silver wire.  First we measured the distance on each end of the wire where the twist was going to start.  I set my marks at 1 1/4″ from each end of the wire.  The next step was to place one end of the wire in a vice.  The mark on one end of the wire was place at the edge of the vice.  On the other end, you place the wire in a set of vice grips and twist the wire. 

I thought that would be really easy but I had never used a pair of vice grips before.  I had no idea how to lock down or add tension on a pair of vice grips.  I felt kind of silly asking how to use a piar of vice grips but no question is a dumb question, right?

I twisted the wire 3 full revolutions to get the tight twist on the wire. 

The bracelet was then hammered on each end to get the flat portion of the cuff.  

Now came the most difficult part, acutally shaping the piece of wire into the bracelet.  Using a stepped bracelet mandrel and a rawhide mallet we formed the bracelet around the mandrel.  This took quite a bit of time and a lot of hammering.

The final step was to polish the bracelet with the polishing wheel.

Center-Twist Bracelet

Center-Twist Bracelet Project

The next bracelet was a center-twist bracelet.  This one actually looked really hard to make, but I thought it was one of the easlier pieces to make. 

I started the bracelet with a piece of round 10 gage sterling silver wire.  The wire was flattend on the steel bench block and then I marked 1″ from each end of the bracelet and the center of the piece of wire. 

The wire was flattened on each end up to the 1″ mark and then with ring bending pliers  the wire was clamped at the center point of the wire.  The wire was then bent into a long u-shape.

After the u-shape was formed the wire was hammer flat 1″ from the center of the wire on each side.

The wire was then bent back out straigt leaving the cetner twist in the bracelet. 

The next step was to form the bracelet on the bracelet mandrel with the rawhide mallet.  Using the bracelet mandrel and mallet were a little bit easire this time but it was still difficult. 

The final step was to polish the bracelet.  I think this piece turned out the best from all the pieces I made during the workshop.  This was definitely a great workshop! I left me wanting more.

What I learned from this project:

  • Using a bracelet mandrel and rawhide mallet
  • How to polish with a flex tool and polishing wheel.
  • How to use vice grips.

I know that I am totally hooked on metal now…… 🙂 🙂

Sterling Silver Tapered Petal Necklace Project

 
Tapered Petal Choker
Tapered Petal Choker Project

The next project from my class was a Tapered Petal Choker necklace.  This piece was quite a bit more challenging than the earrings, especially for my current metalsmith capabilities. 

The components for the necklace are 5 pieces of 10 gage round sterling silver wire (1-40mm piece, 2-35mm pieces, and 2-30mm pieces), 16 gage round sterling silver wire about 19″ long,  and 4 10mm glass beads.

The first step was to take the 5 pieces of 10 gage wire and make the tapered petals of the choker.  The instructor made it look so easy in his demonstration but it certainly was not as easy as it looked. 

I started with the center petal. The goal was to flatten half the lenth of the wire using a sweeping hammer motion.  This was a little trickly at first but I eventually got the hang of it.  After the first half was flattened, the petal was turned 90 degrees and the other half was flattend.  One the pice was flattened on both ends.  The piece was filed.  The instructor gave us the choice to file to a blunt straight edge or a round rounded edge.  I decided to to the rounded edge. I thought it would give it a more finished look.  After it was filed, a hole was drilled at on end to slip over the choker wire.   I finished the other four petals in the same way. 

The final step was to place the beads and tapered petal on the 16 gage wire and add a simple eye and hook on the end of the wire.

The smallest petals have the cleanest look, my rythym and technique seemed to improve as I completed the each petal.  Take a look at the blow up of the centerpiece and you can see what I am talking about.

Tapered Petal Choker Center Piece

Tapered Petal Choker Center Piece

What I learned from this project:

  • I really underestimated drilling the hole.  On the first petal I just thought I could “eyeball” the location of the hole, bad idea!  With the other petals, I used the centerpunch to mark my drill hole.  It went much better on the other petals.
  • The technique to flattend and flare metal wire (I hade tried it few times on my own but just couldn’t get it to work).
  • Use a centerpunch to mark your drilling hole.
  • How to drilling with a flex tool.

This was a really fun project, but a lot of hard work.  I have a lot of practicing to get this skill set down but I am really excited about all this.

The final projects were two sterling silver bracelets……

First Metal Forming Project

Metal Disc Cutter

Metal Disc Cutter from Rio Grande

Yesterday was the metal forming class at Rio Grande.  I wasn’t sure what to expect but it turned out to be a great day.  I learned so much.   The tools they have to work with their are really top notch.  There were so many tools that I wanted to bring home.  My favorites were probably the disc cutter and the jump ring making setup they have.  I would love to have both of them, my penny bank just won’t cut it.  They are both a little pricy.

Copper Earrings

Copper Earring Project

The first class project we worked on was a couple pair of earrings.  The first pair were the copper earrings.  We started with a  piece of copper sheeting and cut out discs, 2 small discs and 2 large discs.  It was then up to the student how to make the earrings.  For the smal disc I decided on a smooth finish and used the doming block for it’s shape.  The larger discs I used a ballpen hammer to texture the disc.  I had never used a flex tool so that was a bit of a challenge in the beginning.  

The lesssons I learned on this project:

  • Always measure the location of the drill holes.  One of the larger domes had the drill hole too low and the the discs overlap.
  • Texture, drill and then shape a piece of metal.  On this pair I drilled first and after I textured, the drill holes were almost completely closed from stretching the metal.  I had to redrill the holes.
Sterling Silver Earrings

Sterling Silver Earring Project

The next pair of earrings were sterling silver earrings.  For this project the shapes were precut for everyone in the class.  We were given a round sterling disc and a somewhat rectangular shape sterling piece. 

On the disc I ran the disc through a metal corrugater.  This was kind of a cool tool too.  You place a piece of metal through two corrugated wheels and depending on the amount of tension  on the wheel will contol how deep the corrugated impressions are.  The disc was then placed in the domer for it’s shape.  On the relangular pieces  I used a goldsmith hammer to get the texture on the metal.

Both of these projects were great to get started with the metal forming.

The next project was a sterling silver petal choker, I’ll tell you all about it next time…..

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