Inching back & Quick Earring Recipe

I’m slowly inching my way back into my normal schedule after a weekend away.  My nephew’s wedding was beautiful.  It was wonderful to be able to spend a couple of days with so much of my husband’s family in one place.  M did a reading during the wedding ceremony.  (the groom is her godfather)  She did a great job and even managed to walk around in her crazy tall spike sandals without any problem.  I, on the other hand, had on a pair of low heel sensible mommy shoes and my feet were still screaming.  LOL  Sorry no pictures.  One of these days I need to get a decent pocket sized digital camera.

Fortunately I found a pendant from 2007 that coordinated with my clothes for the wedding.  (Stewart Gill Byzantia paints & Jones Tones foils under translucent clay.  Sterling silver textured surface bezel)

Good thing too, I really didn’t leave myself enough time to make a special necklace for the wedding.  I did, however, make the quickest earrings ever.

The purple glitter beads were made by my friend, Jenn Dorion.  The color in my photo is off.  The beads aren’t as blue as they appear here.  I had been meaning to turn them into earrings for ages.

Here’s the “recipe” for these earrings:

Supplies:

  • 2 beads (the glitter beads I used were approx. 11 mm wide by 9 mm high)
  • 2 ball end headpins 3 or more inches long (I used 20 gauge wire)
  • 7/8 inch silver tube bead

Tools:

  • chain nose pliers
  • cup bur or file
  • wire cutters
  • plastic or leather hammer

Slide the bead onto the headpin.  Slide the silver tube bead on next.  Use the pliers to bend the wire at the top of the tube.  Holding the wire in your pliers make a curving bend with the rest of the wire.  (I’ll try to add a picture here later when someone else is here to hold the camera)  Clip to desired length and file off any sharp edges at the end of the wire.  Work harden the curved section with a plastic or leather hammer.  You can also work harden the curved portion of the wire with your fingers, but it takes longer.

They were so quick I made another pair.  Modeled here by a semi-cooperative 13 yr old.

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Learning to photograph your work

We had a conversation at our guild meeting last month about photography and I thought the topic would make a good blog post.  I’ve been making jewelry in polymer clay, beads and lately silver for around 8 years now and taking pictures of my work along the way.  I’ve never taken any classes in photography and I certainly have a lot more to learn, but I am proud of the progress I’ve made.

(click the highlighted words for resource information)

Photo taken in January 2003 with a Cloud Dome:

Photo taken March 2004 with a homemade light box (translucent plastic box):

Silver bezel bracelet by Don Geer, polymer clay by me

Photo taken September 2008 with an EZ Cube:

I think I have improved.  And I am still learning.  There’s a lot of trial and error involved.  Here are my tips on how to improve your jewelry photography:

Get a decent digital camera.

It is the most important piece of equipment you need.  You don’t need to have a camera with all the bells and whistles or the most megapixels available, but you do need a camera with an excellent macro function and the ability to change the white balance settings.  A great place to research cameras is DP Review.

Identify the style of photography you like.

Research good photographers who do jury photography and look at their portfolios online and in books.  It will really help develop your own photography.  A few excellent professional photographers (in no particular order):

You can find others by checking the photo credits in the Lark 500 Series or in Ornament or Art Jewelry magazines.

You can also do this by looking at the artist photos for high end craft shows like the American Craft Council Shows or  Craft Boston.

Get (or make) some basic equipment.

A tripod.  You really need this to keep your camera still.

A light tent. You can buy one from many places including Tabletop Studios or Alzo or Ebay or Amazon.  Or you can build one yourself.  There are loads of instruction online:  here or here or here for example.

Lighting = Daylight bulbs. I used Ott lights that I had in my studio originally.  Then I bought a set from Tabletop Studios.  You can also buy bulbs and use them with inexpensive clip-on fixtures.  Or you can set up your photo tent outdoors and use natural light.

A background. I like to use a graduated background, but you can use other backgrounds.  Personally I think the background should be neutral and plain.  I used a piece of silver posterboard for a long time and I think it worked pretty well.  (see the middle photo above) Avoid fabrics that wrinkle or show dust easily.  If your pieces are small you can print your own graduated background.

Photo manipulation software and a book to go along with it.

I recommend Photoshop Elements to start.  The price is reasonable and it’s a very powerful piece of software.  The auto settings aren’t too bad either.  If that’s out of your price range search the web for free photo editing software.  I am sure there are some great products out there.  Buy a book about your software.  It really helps to have a reference book.  I like the “for dummies” books to start.  They’re really basic and easy to follow.

Research online tutorials.

Some of the ones I like are:

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Pairing polymer clay with silver

Here are the photos I promised. These are pieces I recently completed using some of the silver components I was working on. I really enjoy pairing polymer clay and sterling silver. I like the look, and I enjoy the different processes. Combining these materials can be both freeing and challenging. Working with polymer clay and silver can be freeing because you can design the silver portion first and fit the polymer clay to the metal. Or you can do it the traditional way by designing the metal to fit a polymer clay piece you’ve already made.

It can be challenging because polymer clay is relatively soft, and it can be scratched, compressed or cracked while riveting. But, polymer clay is generally quick and easy to repair or replace. (most of the time)

The first necklace reminds me of cross section slices of pods:

Sliced Pods Necklace - Libzoid, May 2008

I made the left and center portions separately, intending them as simple pendants, but when they were sitting side by side on my worktable I decided they’d be more interesting together.

Mod Flower Pendant:

Mod Flower Pendant - Libzoid May 2008

The funky flower shape I have been working on, finally riveted together. I need to find a substantial chain for this.

Framed Rectangle Pin

Rectangle Frame Brooch - Libzoid, May 2008

Painted and patterned polymer clay sandwiched in between layers of sterling silver. There’s a handcrafted double pin on the back of this piece to help keep it stable.

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