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

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……

Metal Forming Class

Rio Grande Jewlery Suply

I know it has been so long since I have posted.  First I was busy getting ready for the Artfire Christmas in July sale, then I have been doing daily maintenance for the sale for the past couple of weeks.  The sale runs until Friday, July 23.  Hope you get a chance to stop by.

Now onto today’s post.  For sometime now, I have been wanting to continue learning some new techniques with my jewelry making.  The metalsmithing and metal forging really intrique me .   I have read a lot of books but there is nothing like hands on instruction.  I found a one day workshop at one of the local jewelry supply businesses here in town. I just registered for their metal forming class in August and I am so excited.  Here is a brief synopsis of the class:

Make a sterling silver neckband, bracelet and domed earrings while learning to form wire and sheet into wearable jewelry. Students learn to use professional jeweler’s tools while working at a jeweler’s bench.

Here are the projects that we will work on.  I will post pictures of my actual projects once I have finished the class.  Until next time, have a great evening.

Class Projects

ArtFire Christmas In July Sale

The ArtFire Christmas In July Sale is almost upon us! Beginning on July 12th and running for twelve days many of the fabulously talented artisans at ArtFire will be offering a variety or combination of discounts, free shipping, coupons, free gifts, bogo and other types of promotional incentives. It’s a great time to find fantastic deals on wonderful handmade items.

 The “Christmas In July” trend page will be up and running on the 12th so it will be easy to find the studios that are participating in this exciting sale. Just go to ArtFire’s Home Page and then look in the Trends Section for “Christmas In July”. You will be able to search for specific types of items from that page or just browse through all that is being offered.

The Twisted Stone Designs Studio I will be offering free shipping on all items for the duration of this sale.  I will also be having daily specials sales on specific items, keep an eye on your favorite items.  I hope you will stop in… 🙂

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.

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