Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Adventures In Patinas

Do you work with patinas on your metals?  I make all of my clasps from sterling, gold filled, and copper wire, but I've never really explored putting a patina on them. 

Then I read a really cool tip from Rena Klingenberg on how to oxidize metals using hard boiled eggs. And I decided to play.

I started out with shiny copper wire, and boiled up a couple of eggs. When the eggs were ready, I put a coil of wire, a copper clasp, and the eggs into a zip lock bag, and smooshed (a highly technical term) the eggs, shell and all, into a big gooey mess.

Then I waited about 20 minutes.  And this is what I got!

I need to polish them up a bit, but this is what they looked like straight out of the bag. I was so excited about the possibilities, I threw some more wire and a toggle in the bag, wanting to see what happened if I left it over night.

Sadly, when I opened the ziplock the first time, I must have let out enough of the sulfur gas to make further oxidation impossible. So after an overnight egg bath, this is all that happened.

Lessons learned? First, if you're going to do this, pull together all the metal you want to oxide to do in one batch, because the magic doesn't happen with leftovers.  Second, my husband is a wonderful, patient man who's gotten used enough to my weirdness that instead of calling the folks from the loony bin, he just said, "why is there a bag of smashed eggs and wire on the kitchen counter?" as though it were a normal thing.

I've also read about using a salt/vinegar mix to patinate copper, too. That may be the next mad scientist experiment!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Freight Trains, Gas Leaks, Wearing Tablecloths -- Must Be Show Season!

Egads. I have been out of the loop on blogging recently (family stuff that's kept me far away from the computer, but that's beside the point). The upshot is that I did two shows last month that generated plenty of stories, but I have been remiss in sharing them here.

The first show was in the downtown of a small town east of Louisville. It was my first time doing this show, and I had heard good things from artist friends. Most of the show was set up in the park, but I was on the street next to the park. We really were in the heart of the town, and every few hours, a freight train would rumble through, half a block from my booth.
Yep, that's the 12:07 freight  from Louisville...

Running concurrently with the art show, and just a block away, was the town's colonial heritage days celebration. There were numerous people in colonial costume walking around to publicize the event, and even a few stilt walkers and giant puppets.  Gotta say, I think the stilt walker was cute, but the giant puppets were vaguely terrifying -- I imagine they provided traumas that many children in attendance that day will be dealing with in therapy sessions when they grow up.

What the colonial heritage people didn't warn us about were the colonial cannons, which were shot off several times a day, at unexpected moments and on no apparent schedule. Dear lord, they were loud, and boy howdy, did they startle the bejeebus out of people walking down the street!  But every time they shot off, I thought, "another story for the blog, people.  It's another story for the blog!"

Saturday's weather was hot. HOT. So did I check the weather forecast for Sunday? Of course not. I dressed for hot weather.  (You know where this is going, right?)  Yep, it was 50 degrees and cloudy all day. I was wearing shorts and sleeveless blouse. Thank goodness I had a table cover that I'd used for a Christmas show among my setup stuff, so I spent the day wrapped in a red tablecloth. I may have looked ridiculous, but I was warm! (And no, there is no photographic evidence of my poor fashion choice.)

Solid Table Cloths
Imagine this in Christmas red. That was my wrap all day Sunday. Classy, huh?

The next weekend (after carefully checking out the weather forecast for both days!), I did a lovely small show just north of town. When I went to set up on Friday, there was a distinct aroma of natural gas in the show area. Turns out that the guys who were setting up the music tent accidentally hit an underground gas pipe when they were hammering in the anchor spikes, and the utility guys were scrambling all over the place to fix it.

Fortunately, the leak was fixed, the show went off without a hitch, and it was a beautiful weekend. I'd been playing with my booth setup for a while, and this was what happened:

If you do shows, you know that the perfect booth is a constantly moving target, but I was pleased with this. A few tweaks on the to-do list, but not bad.

No real "oh my gosh" moments from this show (other than being relieved that there was no way anyone could blame me for the gassy smell), but there were two things that saved my life.  First was the fabulous food truck down the street, where I found this delicious ham, chevre, and red pepper aoli crepe (yes, from a food truck, and every bit as tasty as it sounds!!). 

Second was my little fan, which kept the air moving around inside my tent just enough to keep me from melting when the sun was high and the breeze was low.  Sometimes it's the littlest things that make the biggest difference!

No more shows for a month, so I have a great excuse to hole up in the bead room and make stuff!  Have you been to any great art shows this summer?

Friday, July 4, 2014

Creative Spark Summer 2014 Reveal

My beads for the Summer Days and Nights ZNet Shows design challenge. Aren't they yummy?
I am so thrilled to be on the design team for ZNet Shows! They have the most delicious cultured sea glass, crystals, and other fun things that are perfect to create your own gorgeous creations.

Several times each year, we are challenged to create pieces from ZNet pieces that are sent to us, sight unseen. This time, the challenge was to create daytime casual looks AND dressier night time looks, both featuring the cultured sea glass.  Here's the link to Creative Spark, the online magazine of all of the designers' creations.  But if you're interested in the thought process (yes, there actually was one!) behind my pieces, read on.

I know the selections were sent at random, but I would almost think some good elf was sitting on the shelf when the packets were doled out, because I am an incurable sucker for this spectacular shade of teal/ocean blue, and the soft lavender reminds me of the inside of a seashell that you might find on a sunset stroll down the beach. I opened the package and made very happy sounds. "Squee" was likely uttered.

I wanted my designs to relate to each other somehow, and decided that the necklaces would involve chain, and the earrings would have some movement.

The cultured sea glass shapes are strung on leather, with ZNet Show chain leftover from another design challenge. I made the toggle from one of the dumbbell shaped beads, which inspired the bracelet:

You can see more clearly here how I used the dumbbell as a toggle.  Even though it's drilled end-to-end, the shape allowed me to tie the leather securely around the middle for a lasting connector. Now if only my torso was shaped like this bead...ah well!

The adorable starfish beads screamed to be the focus of the earrings, and the lentils dangling from the leather provided the casual, swinging mood I was looking for. These got worn the day they were made. Like I said, I am a completely sucker for this color.

Now for the dressier pieces.  First up, the necklace, again with cultured sea glass and chain, this time sterling silver chain from my own stash.

This shade of blue is a little lighter, a little more subtle, and a perfect foil for the delicate purple. I can see this necklace being worn to a romantic picnic on the beachfront or to a candlelit dinner overlooking a beautiful mountain vista (two of my favorite summer destinations -- not that I'm channeling my own vacation wishes here or anything...)

For the bracelet, I used the lovely lavender barrels in a matte finish. This was my opportunity to try making a chain, so what you see is completely fabricated from 18-gauge sterling wire. It is really slinky and sensuous on the arm.

Finally, the earrings.  They're pretty simple, but since there's a fair amount going on with the necklace, I thought simple would be good.  Plus, both beads are suspended from the same headpin, so they swing gently and independently as you move.

 Thanks to ZNet for the opportunity to create with such lovely materials. And thanks to Hope Smitherman for editing Creative Spark and for so kindly nudging each of us to remember the deadlines. Please go check out the online zine, and check out the individual blogs of each of the design team, where they'll give you a more in depth peek into their creative process.  Here they are:

Amy Severino
BobbieRafferty (you're here!)