Thursday, August 21, 2014

Vitreous Enamels on Copper 101--AKA Learning to Use a New Medium!

Yesterday, I was hopeful I could somehow import photos to here from my iPhone to post on didn't work.  So I'm looking into an app that will let me blog from my iPhone as I'm not near any wifi or a big computer...just my little phone & 4G most of the time this summer!

So below is an overview of my summer exploration into vitreous enameling on copper...part chemistry, part magic, and definitely trying to "paint" with powders and crumbs of glass under fierce heat in a kiln.  Pretty exciting, actually!

 Copper shapes on trivets and a wire tray, either going into or coming out of the kiln.

 A lot of larger glass bits, of the correct melting point to use in the system of enameling that I'm using. (Apparently, different glasses melt at different temperatures....that's a bit beyond me yet!)

So I turn the crushed glass bits into my "palette" in order to use some of these bits.  Finely graded glass powders are used to cover even areas of the metal with a fine coating to fire as a smoother coating.
 More copper pieces, either coming out of or going into the kiln.  My pieces seem to require a minimum of 6-7 individual firings between 1400F and 1500F before they may or may not be "finished" to be cleaned up for use in earrings, pendants...and soon to come-tack pins and other wearable items.

Due to all the steps involved, I tend to work on several things at one--in this case, pairs of earrings.  I seem to learn new things almost every time I work in this new metals studio at the old campground, and as noted in my post yesterday, I've been posting "blow by blow" photos and info on my new Instagram page @WillOaksStudio in case you'd like to check it out and/or follow along!! 

OTOH, if I CAN figure out how to blog from my phone, well shoot, I can add more goodies right here too!!  To be continued!!!!!  Thanks for stopping by--Karen

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Summer Art-making--With a Twist!

I'm not blogging here much this year, but I have started a whole new "blog-like" project over on Instagram.  I don't have a computer connection to the internet except when I "go into town."  But with a phone & Instagram-I can document all sorts of things & post them pretty fast.

I've moved back to the old campground for awhile--but with a twist:  we're not open to the public, I'm not running it as a business, and best of all, I created a small metals studio & installed my new little kiln....& so I've been trying all kinds of new things!!

All the cats & my new rat terrier, Nellie, are with me here in the camper/cabin--and it's been a beautiful summer!!

Please come find me here on IG @willoaksstudio.  There are wonderful landscapes, bugs & butterflies, animal antics, and a new art studio with new work coming along on a regular basis!!  Come say hi--& if you're also on IG, let me know so I can follow you too!!!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Go, go, go!! Lots of work.....

I'm not sure where the past month went, but I do know that I've been working pretty hard on orders, including some very challenging special orders.  It's also that time of year to finish all the accounting, file taxes and close the books on 2013.  I'm very close to being finished, yay!

I did write a blog post I was invited to submit to the website Birthstone Central as their "Shop of the Week."  Please hop over there and take a look! 

The idea was to give an overview of my work and how I got there....I had a very good time writing it and an even better time creating photo collages to illustrate some of my work with pearls.  Here's a little peek

I was invited to submit my story by Jayme, one of the artists involved with this site.  Jayme has a shop on Etsy and the main page for Birthstone Central is here   Jayme's Etsy shop is sports related things for kids....and I also learned she lives in Alaska--which is neat because I lived up there for around 8 years until the economy tanked locally there, and surviving as a working artist became too difficult for me....but I miss the place and hope I can visit this amazing state again some day.  Meanwhile, it's always fun to connect to folks up there in little ways....isn't the world wide web just amazing?!

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Enchanting Emerald Green

While I was thinking about "green" I came across this collage I made a few years ago, with samples of some of the many shades of green that grow at WillOaks Farm.  I decided that for some of us, tired of looking at white snow and gritty melting scenes, it might be a soothing, hopeful image!
Emerald green was a "Pantone Color of the year" in 2013.  I wasn't too sure how popular this might be, but since I just love green in ALL her glorious moods, I went ahead and used the color in a few pieces last year.

This year, I came across a box labeled "St. Patrick's Day" in my studio (I'm still unpacking and organizing things here.)  Inside, I found a small collection of bits with that deep, emerald green that I think is perfectly my imagination.  So the following collection, to honor my idea of the Irish and the Emerald Isle, came together.
Around the same time, I realized that I have a small collection of clip-on earring findings--parts I've used over the years for some of my customers by request because they do not have pierced ears.  I decided to try a few, and will try to remember to add this variation to other earrings that I make in the "drop style" because I just haven't been organized enough to DO this until now.

So St. Patrick's Day is March 17, which is a few weeks away.  If you know anyone looking for jewelry to mark the occasion, or need a gift to commemorate it, please consider browsing my studio on Etsy.  This link (click here) will narrow your looking to things I have made up in the "emerald green" color of green.

Other shades of green, which is a color I adore and use often, can be searched in my studio via the "local search" box on page one of my studio, using the lower box.  Or you can use this link to "just" look at 4 pages of pieces that use some kind of green.

And I'm not the only one here that loves green!  I've discovered a way to help my cats continue their transition to being mostly indoor cats by helping them get access to "good greens."  It's wheat grass!  I found a local grocery here the sells lovely growing pots of this grass for $2.99.  We make this last for just about 2 weeks, and maybe it's one of the reasons my cats don't bother all the house plants I tend?  This grass plant is much tastier (and probably safer, too!)  The only down side is when they really "need" the grass, eat a lot, then turn around and upchuck (& I hope to find it and clean it up before I step in it)...but that's just cats for you.  The good, the bad and the icky =D

Have a great weekend, everyone and thanks for dropping by!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Or "D"-None of the Above?
I'm just excited about this sort of unusual and accidental new necklace.  Last summer, I found these smooth clear crystal rondelle beads of Cubic Zirconia but wasn't sure how to use them.  I adore cubic zirconia but was only familiar with the faceted style, which look and feel like gemstones.  So these smooth ones took awhile to get used to.  After fiddling around with them on and off for a few months, I finally tried stringing them together with larger satin finished sterling silver beads and voila!!  I was enchanted by how soft the look was, despite the fact that this was a mix of metal and very hard crystal.  By putting this mix on fine oxidized sterling chain, I added just that shot of contrast that I thought was needed, and I'm very happy with this simple, yet elegant, new design.....

Back to your regularly scheduled broadcast......

Thursday, February 20, 2014

When things slow down a little.....

....there are a few things I'd like to spend more time exploring here:

1.)  Cooking experiments
2.)  Orchid growing in the Northern Climes
3.)  New works in Emerald Green

I'm struggling to wrap up some other projects right now, so can only give a quick peek at some promising photos that I've begun for these ideas...and hoping that over the coming weekend, I can dig in a bit deeper!

And a weather update....frozen conditions turn to flooding conditions.....but maybe not for too long as it's going to turn really cold again, so then, we'll have icy conditions I guess?

Have a great Friday!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Bingeing on Earrings.....

When I began my "adventure in metalwork" last summer, I gravitated to pins and pendants because whenever I DID try to create earrings with this approach (to formed and forged wire), the results as earrings seemed clunky.  But I kept trying and about a month ago, I was finally creating some shapes and forms that seemed more promising....I was so excited!  I think it's just been taking a LOT of practice to get this approach to really work for the "precise" ends I want to achieve, so today, I'm so happy to show of few of these new pieces that I decided did work well enough to put into my shop on Etsy....happy day!
Black Pearl plant shapes.
I have resolved two different designs so far.  The "leaf" or "plant" shapes are like many of the pins that I made earlier, the materials are just finer and smaller.
I look forward to trying this dangle design with different beads, different materials, different colors and different colors of metal.
Digging through my stash of older pearls and stones to find ovals, which has been fun, and of course, round shaped stones and beads are plentiful.
White pearls and this pair has already sold, yay!
But I had another "break through" in forms that seem to work with my metalwork, too!  Yesterday, I wrote about my "hoop" obsession, and guess what?  Hoops don't HAVE to be round!
This idea took a lot of tries to get all the parts to be as they should and to land where they must, so I need to keep working with it.  But here are a couple of ideas that seem to be going in the right direction.  They aren't very heavy at all, they seem to be very sturdy, and, well, it's kind of exciting!
Silver gray pearls on hoop earrings
Silver gray peacock freshwater pearls on hoop earrings
So of course, I keep going back to pearls because pearls are right near the top of my favorite materials of all.
Feather dangle earrings with purple amethysts
And in honor of the "earrings" section in my Etsy shop, which today reached the 100 mark, I also added a new version of my very popular "feather earrings" for women to wear when they are feeling just a little bit hippie or bohemian (showing my age, I know.)  I did an earlier version of this design in shades of turquoise and greenish blues with all natural stones and they have been quite a I thought I'd try them in shades of purple--natural amethyst--highlighted by some pretty amazing labradorite marquis, which have some surprising "flash" to them.

Finally, it DID snow here all afternoon so I'm hoping to try some snow photos tomorrow, since the word is our temps will get a little bit warmer, perhaps as hot at 27F....everything is relative....

Thanks for dropping by!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

She's Gone Hoopy on Me.....

I've been making hoops for a long time now, and wrapping them with all sorts of things like beads, crystals, metal and stones for just as long.  But somehow, I don't get tired of it and when I launch into one of these "hoop fits" I tend to do several, just to see how they will look....

Red coral beads on gold filled hoops, small
 Sometimes, it's just that I've found such cool small beads that I want to try out each type, including recent finds of red coral, tiger eye and natural amber.
Natural Tiger Eye Stone beads on gold filled hoops, small
But recently, I invented a new design that reminds me of a zipper or a zig-zag.  It requires really small beads, 2 mm or smaller, so I don't have a big range of colors and stones available quite yet, but carnelian, garnets and adventurine have given me hoops in scarlet red, deep red and cool green to date.
Tiny Carnelian Stone beads on sterling silver hoops, small
Normally, the base for these hoops is forged of either sterling or gold filled to a size of between 1 and 1 1/4" diameter, and then the beads, etc. are bound to the hoop.  It's a design I like to wear because they are secure and don't fall out easily in winter, when I'm usually wrapped in a scarf (even in the house) or pulling on a coat or jacket (when I dare venture out, given the extreme weather we still endure here, mid February.)  So rather than complain about the new snowstorm due to start again here in the morning, I'll just close with a small collage of recent hoop designs for now.
Click this image to find a whole hoop collection in my Etsy Studio!
Happy "President's Day" to one and all and hope your weather is better than our weather!


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