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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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.
 

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…..

A Look At My Studio

I thought I would share glimpse of my work shop this week.  I thought about cleaning it up first but decided against it.  I cleaned it up about two weeks ago, so it isn’t in too bad of shape yet.  It really isn’t much just a small corner in the garage that my husband was gracious enough to surrender.  I don’t think he ever thought he would have to give up any of his precious space in the garage.   The space I have works for now.

On the left side of the workbench I have my tool chest.  That is the invisible boundary between my space and his space.  The “Less Nessman tape” so to speak. Oh, look now I am dating myself.  My tool chest has a lot of my tools.  files, burnisher,  brushes, screw drivers, pipe benders, and punches.  A lot of the tools were handed down from my grandfather.  He did metalsmithing as a hobby.  I sure wish I would have been more interested in jewelry making when he was alive.

The center of the bench is where I keep my beading board, this is where I do most of my layout work and assembly of my pieces.   Everything is within hands reach from my board.  Beads on the left and finding on the right. 

On the right side I have a narrow bench where I do some of my metal forming and hammering.  On the end of this bend is my baby anvil.  I just love this anvil. It is great for working with small wire and pieces of silver or copper. 

Well, there’s a quick look of my studio.

My Quest For The Perfect Photo

I am fairly new at taking photos and creating editing them to post on interent but I’m quickly learning it is one of the most important skills that needs to be developed to effectively sell on the internet.  There is alway the professional phtographer, but that’s a luxury I can’t afford.  I am usually doing good to find cash for jewelry supplies.  I came across an article in one of the Etsy forums called “Make Your Pictures Pop“.  The article talks about adding dynamic range to your photos.  Yeah, I had never heard of dynamic range until I stumbled across this article either.  Dynamic range is the range of tones, from lightest to darkest in a photo.  I tried the tips in the article and OMG! what a difference.Here is a piece I just listed on Artfire the over the weekend.  I took the photos outside on a sunny day and used a piece of stone as the background.  On the left is the original photo and on the right is the edited photo. I used the instructions shown in the article.  Photoshop was used to add dynamic range.  You be the judge. 

Original Photo Before Editing

Photo After Adding Dynamic Range

 

   

  I also found this article on photoshop editing.  I thought I would share.  I haven’t tried any of the tips, but I plan to.  

I will continue my quest for the perfect photo.  Until next time.

Why Buy Hand-Crafted Jewelry?

Today I have been pondering what brings a buyer to a local artisan.  When you decided to look for a new piece of jewelry, whether it is a gift for someone special or just a special treat for yourself, there are so many questions and choices out there.  Where do you go? What should you buy? How much do you spend?  Do you go do a chain jewelry retailer? Or a local department store?  How about the local discout store?   Or do you go to a jewlery artisan? 

Gemstone Necklace - Picture Jasper, Red Picture Agate, and Sterling Silver

What are the advantages of buying from a jewelry artisan?

  • You support individual artists and the art community. 
  • Hand-crafted jewlery provides added value though qulaity craftsmanship and individuality.
  • You will get a unique piece that is beautiful and creative.  The piece was created with some inner inspiration from the artisan.
  • The piece will be customizable and have a style all it’s own that meets your stahdards.  Most artisans will customize a piece to your own individual needs.
  • The piece will be quality made with love and care with individuality, instead of a being create at a huge compnay where you will not have any connection to the creator. 
  • Jewelry artisans absolutely love what they do and your piece will be created with that in mind.
  • The piece will be much more affordable and you will be able to form a connection and get personalized service from the artist.

What are your personal experiences with buying artisan jewelry?   Please share the good, the bad, and the ugly…..

Etsy and Artfire

I can not believe it has been six weeks since my last post. 

I have been working really hard on getting everything ready to get my Artfire and Etsy Store open while trying to get a major deadline out with my day job.   Both the Artfire store and Etsy store are now up and running.  I actually got a few things listed last night and this morning.  Here are a couple of them.  I am hoping to get more up there soon.   I have to say the whole process of setting up both the Artfire and the Etsy store was a fairly simple process.   Have a great week everyone.

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