Monday, June 1, 2015

These are a few of my favorite things...

This month's Etsy Metal blog carnival is to show who we are with images of a few of our favorite things.

To see my Etsy Metal teammates' blog posts, follow the links below.

One of my favorite movies, and naturally, I love the song "My Favorite Things"! So, moving on with some photos of some of my favorite things....

Monday, April 6, 2015

Etsy Metal Blog Carnival: Other Creative Interests

This month's Etsy Metal Blog Carnival topic is about other artistic or creative interests beyond metalsmithing.

I have a degree in studio art and started as a painter. When I began metalsmithing, painting fell by the wayside, although it is still definitely an interest. I hope to pick it up again one of these days when I have more time. Meanwhile, I've been pursuing more practical creative interests--one that feeds and one that improves our house! 

At the beginning of the year I decided I wanted to learn to make bread, and I do consider that and cooking a creative endeavor. I love to cook (and eat!) and wanted to try baking. Of course I decided to start with a more difficult recipe for a rosemary and walnut boule. I threw out the first batch of yeast because I wasn't sure it was activating. Then I remembered I had a thermometer that could accurately gauge the temperature of the milk I was putting the yeast in. That helped and the bread came out wonderfully! I should have used two pans since the loaves grew together to look like one big butt.

My next baking effort was flaky, buttery dinner rolls that were baked in a muffin tin. I didn't quite get them all to be equal size, but they were so, so good and were scarfed down at dinner time.

My other creative interest at home is interior design. We are getting ready to renovate our second bathroom, add built-in shelving to the family room, and partially redecorate the master bedroom. We redid our master bath fairly recently (I did the design and a contractor did the installation), and changed it from 50's pink to modern beachy spa. We took out the bathtub and put a large shower in its place, and removed a second entrance (it was a jack & jill). I designed the vanity and had it custom built. I am excited for our next projects!

Read what my Etsy Metal teammates have to say on this subject:

Friday, February 27, 2015

Etsy Metal Blog Carnival: "My Jewelry Box"

This month's Etsy Metal Blog Carnival topic is to show what you have in your own personal jewelry box along with the stories behind your pieces or what your jewelry means to you.

First, I have to say that I have way too many things to write about! I've collected jewelry for a long time and so many pieces have meaning. I have always purchased jewelry while traveling, usually by a local artist, as a souvenir and to remember by travels. But since I can't write about everything, I will focus on three generations of rings.

The oldest is first....we think this gold and moonstone ring dates from around 1880, and belonged to my great-grandmother, my mother's maternal grandmother. My grandmother gave the ring to my mom when she was in high school because she know how much my mom liked it. My mom told me she wore it alot and often twirled the stones during class because she liked how they caught the light. My mom, named Mary, never knew her grandmother (also named Mary), because she died before my grandmother was married. We think perhaps the ring was a gift to great grandma Mary from her husband. On a side note, apparently she was a great cook, a talent carried down to my grandmother and mom.

The white gold, diamond, and opal ring was my grandmother's (mom's mom--named Anna, called Ann). The story is that the diamond in this ring was part of an engagement ring my grandma's brother planned to give to the woman he wanted to marry. Sadly, he died at age 26, just after serving in World War I. He had suffered lung damage from being gassed. My grandma had the diamond reset into this ring. She wore it often, but then gave it to my mom because she loved it.

The floral opal ring was a Christmas gift given to my mom by her parents when she was 13. Opal is her birthstone, and she told me it was her favorite Christmas gift and that she wore it all the time. She told me that when she opened the ring box, her excitement and delight were readily apparent, because she heard her mom say "Mary loves nice things." I have to say that the photo does not show the lovely flashes of multiple colors in the stones; they are much brighter than what you see here! 

My mom gave me all three rings at different points in time. She knows I like nice things too, and I love things that have been handed down, that have some history behind them. The opal floral ring fit me perfectly from the get-go, but I had to have the diamond/opal ring sized down and have a sizer band on the moonstone ring. I also enjoy wearing them often, and like to look down at my finger and think about the women who wore them before me, and how much love there is between us. They are truly special objects to me; they are so much more than just rings--they are history, stories, love, and family.

See what my Etsy Metal teammates had to say about this subject:
Laney Clark - silentgoddess
Danielle Miller -
2Roses -
Rebecca Bogan
Fenton Design:

Monday, August 4, 2014

Etsy Metal Blog Carnival: A Peek Into My Studio

This month's Etsy Metal blog carnival topic is...Show us your tools! Favorites, shop setup, desires...

A metalsmith's world revolves around the many tools of the trade.

The ugly but very practical table above was in the basement of our house when we bought it. It has new legs, but is otherwise untouched. The little set of drawers was also there. I could see some faint lettering that indicated it was originally used in a store to hold spools of thread. Because this table is so sturdy I use it for tools that need to be bolted down (rolling mill, metal shear), and for hammering.

This large black tool is my sheet metal shear, like a paper cutter for metal. I love it since I work with lots of squares and rectangles. It quickly and easily cuts thick sheets of metal into those rectangles, or strips for cuff bracelets.

 I re-purposed the thread drawers to hold various forming tools--hammers, dapping blocks (to form domes in metal sheet), etc.

A drawer of hammers

 More forming tools on top of the bench.

This is one of my favorite tools, a disc cutter. Not just any disc cutter, but a really easy to use disc cutter that cuts clean discs from sheet metal.

This is a relatively new tool, a rolling mill. I've mostly been using it to emboss designs/pattern/texture onto metal. There's a little pile of stuff next to it that I've been using for the embossing. If I really wanted to, I could roll out sheet metal myself with this nifty tool, but I don't plan to do that.

Mandrels for forming hoops and bracelets.

Here's my workbench, where I saw, file, form, and finish. This photo doesn't capture one of my most useful tools, the flexible shaft, a rotary tool used for many purposes. I use it mostly for drilling and finishing/polishing.

 This bench drawer has sanding and finishing wheels for the flexible shaft, and a tube cutting jig (the thing with the red handle).

On top of my bench, some of my pliers and more flexible shaft tools for finishing.

More pliers, plus sanding pads and sandpaper.

I use my jeweler's saw constantly, for cutting wire, tubing, sheet, and for piercing out designs like this one:

On another table I have my soldering area. In the foreground are fire bricks and charcoal blocks (soldering surfaces). In the back you can see part of my ventilation system and a small crockpot that holds pickle (an acid used to remove flux from soldering). I covered the wooden tabletop with ceramic tiles to protect it from the torch flame.

My air-acetylene torch for soldering.

 Yet another table holds my photography setup and the drawers hold additional supplies.

See what my fellow Etsy Metal members have to say about their tools:

Monday, May 5, 2014

Etsy Metal Blog Carnival: Musical Inclinations

This month's Etsy Metal Blog Carnival topic is "are you musically inclined?" May 22 is Buy a Musical Instrument Day (according to the "Bizarre and Unique Holidays" website). Have you ever bought or played a musical instrument? And funny or interesting stories about that? Is any of your metalwork musical in some form?

Like many young kids, my parents decided to have me start piano lessons. I started at age 7 with the Suzuki method (learning by ear). After a year of that, we moved and we started with a "regular" teacher, learning to read music. In another year, we moved yet again, and my parents enrolled us in piano at a music school. This included piano lessons, music theory classes, and performance classes. This school loved the fact that my brother and I were twins because that meant we could play duets for the performances. We weren't too enthused. Practicing duets involved a lot of pushing, shoving, and arguing on the piano bench.

Our weekly music theory classes were, I suppose, helpful, but definitely not fun. I liked playing the piano, but wasn't serious about it. Music theory just seemed like too much. I felt sorry for the nice nun who taught the classes--a roomful of kids who really didn't want to be there.

Several times a year we were required to attend Saturday morning performance classes. This was basically practice  for the annual recital. We had to memorize a piece (which was so hard for me), and perform it for our peers. We also received instruction on how to announce the piece, sit down properly and how to adjust the bench, then the proper way to bow after the performance. I remember some kids standing up there bowing over and over again until it satisfied the school's director. My brother and I kept all this up from 4th grade until the end of high school, although in high school I was able to find a way out of the detested music theory classes!

In middle school I started playing the cello. I was in my hated daily gym class (always the last one picked; not athletic) when the orchestra teacher came in to talk to the class. She was looking for students who could read music--she needed cellists for the orchestra and was willing to take beginners. Joining the orchestra meant I could get out of gym class 2-3 days per week. My hand shot up so fast that day! I liked the cello too--it has a beautiful sound, although at the beginning I did not really produce that beautiful sound. I never took private lessons in cello, but played for about five years. I only stopped in the middle of my high school years because I wanted to take more art classes.

Is my jewelry influenced by music? Not exactly or directly, but the elements of music (including composition, form, harmony, rhythm, texture) are remarkably similar to the elements of art (texture, space, shape, tone/value, line, color). I do feel that music training was helpful in developing an artistic sense and vice versa.

Read what other EtsyMetal artists have to say on this topic:

Monday, June 3, 2013

Etsy Metal Blog Carnival: Summer's a'comin'!

This month's Etsy Metal Team blog carnival topic is about summer plans and dream vacations.

I am excited to be going to the coast of Maine for a week with my husband, daughter, parents, and brother. We're all staying in this beautiful house. We've been to Maine a few times on vacation and I just feel this incredible connection to the coastline. Water makes me calm and content, and I love searching for interesting rocks and pieces of seaglass. I'm sure we'll kayak, go sailing, hike, visit the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden, build fairy houses, and hopefully work in a day trip to Monhegan Island. If I were every to win the lottery, I would buy this house and start using "summer" as a verb.

Any vacation near the water is a dream vacation for me. We are dreaming of renting a villa on Lake Como in Italy for a couple weeks next summer. This is a dream that (fingers crossed) might actually come true. I adore Italy.

I'll also take my daughter to St. Louis to visit family later this summer.

Finally, I hope to use this beautiful new rolling mill to "roll out" some new designs!

Check out what other team members have to say on the subject!