Monday, February 22, 2010

Don't hate it.....just yet anyway

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A lot of time, effort and planning go into a piece and/or a line of jewelry. I say that because I think it's hard to people to realize that, as much as I would like to, I can't go "Poof" and produce jewelry. Sometimes I have to plan, design and experiment for years to get the jewelry to a point where I like it AND like to make it. (Case in point, the resin jewelry was a three year process of experiments and prototypes.)

I tell you this here because sometimes ideas pop into my head and I have to work on them right away. I had an idea of combine acrylic and handmade papers. I had the idea in mind that it would be similar to a line of sterling silver jewelry I did a few years back, but this time it would be with paper. (The point of all this is coming, I promise.) Anyway, I made the prototype and I didn't like it (brown one on the far left). I decided I didn't like the width, so I improved on the next version (pair in the middle). This time, I didn't like the second pair either, but I couldn't decide what I didn't like. Was it the paper, the texture, the size?? I set them aside, thinking they would end up in the prototype file. I really didn't want to hate them, but I certainly didn't like them. (The pair on the end is the finished "likable" pair.)

I sometimes charge my sub conscious mind with the duty of "fixing a few things" while I'm sleeping, and this design was one of them. I was lucky enough to wake up the next morning with the design improvement I was looking for! I just needed to round the edges a bit. It still gives the same shape, but just "softens" them up a bit. I felt better and love the look. (These are the same two earrings from above, just a closer shot.) At least for me, the earrings don't have that rigid, "geometric" feeling.

This makes me wonder. What else have a thrown in the scrap pile that deserves another look?

The earrings shown here are acrylic with handmade paper adhered to the back. They have sterling silver french ear wires and have a protective coating to make them water resistant. The retail price is $10. Wholesale inquiries are welcome.

Friday, February 19, 2010

It's craft time!

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I'm always looking for stuff to do with my kids. If it comes close to cheap (or free!) entertainment, all the better. I found a site that I love and wanted to share it with readers. All Free Crafts has a huge range of projects from seasonal items, to homemade gifts, to projects for different age groups. Many of them can be done with simple household materials. Enjoy the fun!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Custom order: part 2

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So onto the next pour of the custom order! The picture shows after I poured the orange. I let the resin cure for 36 hours in between pours. That assures me the pour before is solid so that way if I accidentally get resin where it shouldn't be, I can soak it up with a Q-tip, although sometimes accidents happen. See the pendant in the top row just to the right of center? It spilled after I let it cure so I will have some sanding to do later.

After all the resin has hardended, I can begin sanding. If you look closely at the pieces, you can see I have "overpoured". This is intentional, as I need to sand until the pieces are flush.

The center pieces of silver are also a little taller than the outer piece to make sure that any spills go to the outside, versus the inside (easier cleanup). The next step in the process is to completely sand it down with 8 different grits of sandpaper. I then use a buff to give it a soft, satin finish. The last step that I do is to coat it with a museum quality microcrystalline wax. That makes the pieces just a smidge on the satin side and makes them moderately tarnish resistant.

As I was writing this blog post, I realized that I didn't get a picture of the set before my customer picked it up. Whoops! The pendant at left is the same as the one from the first picture in this post (bottom row, middle pendant) and the center pendant in the second picture in this post. This pendant is available for $50 on a 16 inch rubber neoprene cord. Sterling silver chains are an option for an additional charge.

I hope my customer will send me a picture of his sweetie wearing the set. I will be sure to post. :)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Support your local businesses: the 3/50 rule

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I saw an interesting article in a newsletter the other day. It was encouraging people to follow the "3/50 rule". This rule is vow to spend at least $50 at 3 local businesses monthly in order to help your local economy. It's an interesting concept. I like the idea, but wanted to take it one step further and put it back on the businesses. You shouldn't expect people to support you. You should have to work hard and earn their trust and respect. Only then, will you have their business. I'll give you an example:

One of my favorite local businesses is Thornebrook Chocolates, in Thornebrook Village, which is in the 2000 block of NW 43rd Street in Gainesville. They are my go to place for chocolate for any special occasion. I'm in there at Christmas, Easter, and yes, Valentine's Day. They have a great selection of chocolates and items to fit any budget or need. So should I support them because they are a local business? I suppose, but I like to support them because they always have a great selection darned good chocolate! They have many items for me to choose from whether it be a personal gift to a loved one (see pink candy box above), a polite way of saying thank you to a colleague, or a last minute gift for a hostess. Could I find these on the internet, maybe, possibly, but these people are also pretty nice. I can call ahead if I'm running late and my order is ready. They realize at times they are super busy and they do everything they can to keep items in stock and get people checked out in a timely fashion. Thornebrook Chocolates knows confections and customer service.

Great customer service is something I also feel strongly about. It doesn't matter how great a piece of jewelry is if you don't like the process of buying it or dealing with the artist. While I would like to know that people support me because I'm local to them, I hope they support my business because I exceed their expectations.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Valentine's Day jewelry

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I was in the grocery store on what was pretty much an ordinary day. I walked by the candy display and it came to me: those candy hearts would make great jewelry!

I went through the bag and picked out the best ones (unbroken, readable) and such. My kids only licked half of them (not kidding) so I had to get another bag.

After picking the best ones, I got my game plan together. I had to use a different resin this time for two reasons. One, the resin I was using last fall has to be done in a well ventilated, warm area. My studio isn't climate controlled and I couldn't bring it in my house. Secondly, I wanted something that was a bit more "stable" that would work with a food product. (Resin sometimes reacts with the pieces put in it and causes bubbles. You end up with something that looks like a glass of Alka Seltzer.)

So, after a couple of pours, voila! A cute little pendant with a candy conversation heart. The bail is sterling silver and is large enough for most small and medium sized chains to get through. I've got about 20 or so posted on the KMS Designs Facebook page for all to see. Anyone in the Gainesville, Florida area can purchase these at the Artisans Guild Gallery or Gifts of Avalon. Both of these businesses will be participating in the Uptown Art Hop this coming Friday night. If you see one you like, drop me an email or call me to place an order as it may be a few days before I can get them on the KMS Designs site.

Who knows what's next???

Monday, February 08, 2010

Last nighttime shuttle launch

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Living here in Florida can be exciting for several reasons, one being the whole NASA scene. The Orlando TV channel I watch has their own space reporter for the local news and that somehow makes me feel more connected to what's going on out on the Cape. I was a bit sentimental about last night being the last nighttime space shuttle launch. I remember the first one I ever saw shortly after moving to Florida, not knowing what it was. All I could think was "Why is that shooting star going up??" only to find out later it was the shuttle. I've had the great privilege of being a VIP guest for a night time shuttle launch a couple of years ago (how I know an astronaut is another story) and remember how I have never seen anything light up the night sky like it did. It's something I will never forget.

When I heard this was going to be the supposed last night launch, I just had to get up a 4 AM and watch it. I took a few pictures, although I realize most everyone is going to have to use some imagination to see what's going on. The shuttle is the dot almost in the center of the picture. The dot to the right and just slightly above is the (crescent) moon. (This view is from my backyard.) I was able to watch the tail of the shuttle go from right to left across my view. I could see the tail until the booster rockets came off, then it disappeared into the left side of the sky. The really cool thing is that this shuttle was almost 3 hours away in drive time. I've always wondered how far away people can see the launch.

I suppose the only thing I was lucky about was that none of my neighbors were up to see me out in flannel pajamas with a camera.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

What's the favorite thing on your ipod?

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While I was working in the studio yesterday, I was jammin' to my latest favorite music artist, Lady Gaga. I have an ipod shuffle, which is the perfect size for me. I don't usually need the video and pictures and all that and I can clip the shuffle right to my apron. In addition to listening to music, I love that I can download podcasts from other artists in the business and get a "mini-education" while I'm working on my jewelry.

So while I was enjoying my tunes yesterday, I wondered, what do my fans like? I would love to read others posts on what your favorite piece is on your ipod. Please share!

Saturday, February 06, 2010

The custom order process

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So the customer I did the mock ups for a couple of weeks ago made a decision as to the color scheme for the resin and sterling silver earring and pendant set. Unfortunately, due to a few factors, it takes me at least a month to get any custom color jewelry made. First, I'm a mom. (That's the full time job!) It's hard for me to get several hours of uninterrupted time in the studio to make the silver pieces, so it takes me longer than perhaps it would other jewelry artists. Secondly, pouring the resin into the sterling isn't as simple as just creating the couple of pieces you need. I have to mix a minimum amount of the resin (for about 20 pieces) in order for it to mix correctly. Therefore, I have to plan several "pours" in advance. It takes me a bit to have all the sterling silver pieces ready and have the game plan mapped out.

So back to the custom pour.....

I'm pretty excited to get to pair new colors together. My customer picked square earrings with a round center (blue outside, orange inside) and a square pendant with a square center (blue outside and orange inside there too).

You can see his pieces there in the center. Once I mix the resin and add the pigment, I've got about an hour to get it where I want it before it starts to cure.

This is a closeup of the same pieces. The top row, first two pieces, will be the earrings. The bottom row, second piece will be the pendant. You can see some other colors there. They were done a few pours ago and are "waiting" for their partner in subsequent pours.

This particular resin needs about 36 hours to cure. Then I will pour the orange. Stay tuned....
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