Category Archives: Jewelry

Handmade Buttons

I love handmade buttons.

I love the subtle differences in each button and knowing that an artist/craftsperson created each one.  Handmade items deserve handmade buttons.

As a knitter and a seamstress (sewer?  sewist?) for the better part of my life, I know how hard it is to find those perfect buttons for your latest handmade creation.  One day a friend suggested I make buttons from the clay I use for making pots.  Lightbulb moment!  Danny thought it was a good idea, too, and would be something he could do since he doesn’t work on the wheel.

We’ve surely enjoyed exploring different textures and glazes.  Making buttons is so much different than making mugs and casseroles.  These are some of the leaf buttons we just pulled from the kiln.  I’ve listed some in the Etsy shop.  Hope you’ll check them out!

 

Handmade Buttons - Sharon Ivy

 

 

Beads and Pendants = Fun!

We are having a blast making clay beads and pendants.  Had a great time last weekend at Beadapalooza and sold lots of Jewelry components, but we still have LOTS left.  I’ll be posting some of the beads and pendants to the Etsy shop over the next several days.

Pendant Collage

For now, spending the holiday weekend getting some mugs and other functional pieces ready for holiday shoppers.  The Etsy shop is getting bare!

 

Enameled Copper Jewelry

It’s February.

My self-imposed winter break is over.

I took a break from the pottery studio (and Etsy and the blog) the last 2 weeks in December and the whole month of January.  After the maddening Christmas rush of 2012 when we were filling orders while also traveling in order to be with family, we decided this Christmas to shut down pottery production and orders in mid-December and enjoy some downtime.  What a wonderful Christmas we had in MS and AR, visiting with kids and grandkids and other family members.

I’ve spent the whole month of January piddling on several projects.  My brain needed a creative break from pottery production and shows and shipping.  I needed some time to work in other media; media that included some of my favorites – copper, glass, leather, yarn, beads and paint.

I’ll share photos of some of those projects in future posts, but today I want to show you the copper enamel tests I did while trying to learn how to fire enamels using a torch.  Traditionally, copper enameling is done using a small jewelry kiln, but I’ve been seeing blog posts and tutorials on torch-fired enamels and I just had to try it because I do love working with a torch.

I can’t even remember when or where I got the enamels.  I know they’ve made 2 moves with us because I remember packing them twice and wondering when I would have time to try them.  I love working with copper and silver and always thought enameling would be a fun technique.  Finally, I took a little time to experiment.

I got everything out and set up and only then did I realize I needed a canister of Mapp gas.  Argh!  All I had was my little Blazer butane torch and I really didn’t want to make the 15 mile trip to Lowe’s for the Mapp.

Blazer Butane Torch

I do love this little torch and have done some nice soldering with it, but I wasn’t sure it would get hot enough to melt the enamel on copper pieces bigger than 1.5″ or so.  I decided to try it on some small test pieces that I could glue to the tops of my enamel containers.  That way I can tell what color the fired enamels are, similar to making test tiles in clay.  The butane torch worked great for these.  Aren’t the colors pretty?  I particularly love that orchid color and the turquoise and kiwi.

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Then I got brave and enameled a leaf pendant I had made many moons ago, after learning to saw and solder in one of Michael Johnson’s classes at The Bead Biz.  The pendant is about 2″ long and 1.5″ wide.  It pushed the capabilities of the butane torch, but I finally got a full melt.

After that, I had to try creating a pattern on some small earring components.  If I may say so, I think they turned out pretty well.  I used a piece of old metal florist ribbon with holes as a stencil when applying the turquoise over the kiwi.

Enameled Earrings and Pendant

Then, I ran out of butane.  Bummer.

I couldn’t enamel, but I did get several jewelry components cut out and sanded, ready for the next enameling session.

Copper components

Can’t wait to see how these turn out.  Hopefully the Mapp gas won’t be TOO hot.  If it is, I’ll try some propane.  I got this!

 

Dry Brushing Raku Jewlery

When firing Raku, we have many pieces that just don’t come out as planned, especially with the jewelry pieces.  Because jewelry pieces are small and we fire so many pieces per firing, when there is a bad firing, that means many bad pieces.  I think even the bad pieces still have something interesting about them, so I’ve been trying to think of a way to make these pieces more appealing and beautiful.

Raku misfire

Many years ago my mom showed me how to dry brush ceramic Old World Santas using acrylic craft paints.  I loved this technique and decided to try a version of it on the misfired Raku pieces.  I had nothing to lose and already had acrylic paint, so I pulled out my paints and brushes and set to work.

Because the pieces were already very dark brown and black, I didn’t need the usual coat of dark undercoating used in traditional dry brush work.  These pieces went from being totally black/brown to coming to life with color with just a few swipes of the brush.

Raku redone

Pretty neat and lots of fun.  I think I’ll do more!

 

Pottery Jewelry Components

Danny & I have been experimenting with making some pottery jewelry components.  It’s been fun trying out new shapes and seeing how the different glaze treatments look on them.

We first tried some copper matte raku.  The first firing came out pretty good, but the second round was disappointing, mostly black & brown.  Copper matte is so finicky.  Not sure it will be commercially viable for jewelry.  The low success rate combined with the fact that each good piece needs a coat or two of sealer may mean these pieces would require too high a price point.  We’ll give it another go later down the road.

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The red bronze glaze proved to be more green than red, but the bronze highlights were really pretty.  Hard to capture the mirror-like surfaces in a photo.

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The white crackle raku pieces also were pretty neat.  We were hoping for a smaller crackle pattern, but were happy with these.  This crackle looks great on larger pots, but for the jewelry I’ll be surfing the web for a recipe that produces a finer crackle pattern.

White Crackle

Next round of jewelry components will be glazed and fired in the electric kiln.  Stay tuned for more experiments.

Rummaging Through Old Photos

Was digitally rummaging through some old photos, trying to create some semblance of order, when I came across these jewelry experiments I did quite awhile back. It was fun looking back and remembering how much fun I had learning new techniques and how awesome it was to morph metal from one state to another.  I didn’t take time to run these through Photoshop (sorry!).

These bracelets started out as copper wire, which I hammered and soldered, then wrapped with fine gauge sterling silver wire and glass beads.  I like the dainty, airy look of these.

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This simple silver band was the first ring I made “from scratch”.  Before it was a ring, it was a piece of sterling silver sheet metal, sawn and soldered and hammered around a mandrel.  I learned to do this in a fun class taught by Michael Johnson of Cosmic Folklore Studio in Helena AL.  Check out more of his cool metalsmithing on his Facebook page.

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This next photo is of a clasp I made for a leather cord, another technique learned in one of Michael’s classes.

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I wanted a handmade clasp because this cord would be used to hold my very first bezel / cabochon piece.  I was so excited to take Jessica Dow’s class on bezel making at The Bead Biz in Helena AL.  This is where you can find The Bead Biz on Facebook and Jessa’s Facebook page is here.  What fun we had!  This piece is sterling silver and Spectrolite.

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Here is a photo from the bezel workshop.  Stacy (middle) is soldering her bezel.  Jessa (left) watched over us all to ensure we didn’t end up with liquid silver instead of a soldered bezel.  Thanks, Jessa!

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Lastly, these are some silver earrings I made for my friend, Donna.  She had lost one of her favorite earrings, so I offered to make her a similar pair.  I sawed the triangles from a sheet of sterling and soldered the wire to the top.  The triangles are ever so gently domed, just to give them a bit of interest.  I love that they’re very lightweight.  I hope she is enjoying them.

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Well, it was fun to reminisce a bit.  Good “old” memories carry us through to the new ones waiting to be made.  Now, go forth and make those memories!

 

Gem, Mineral and Jewelry Show

To all you jewelry makers in the Birmingham AL area — Don’t forget about the Gem, Mineral & Jewelry Show this weekend at Tannehill State Park. Hours are 9-5 on Saturday & Sunday.

I’ll be checking out the goods, then heading to MS to see my sweetheart who is building a big ole shed on our property there. He thinks the shed will be for storing tractors and lawnmowers and garden implements, but I say the best use for it will be having family & friends over for fish frys and peanut boils! A great place for the grandkids to get out and romp to their hearts’ content.