Friday, July 30, 2010

Making resin jewelry bracelets, Part 5

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(Read part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4 of the resin jewelry making process)

 The next part in the resin jewelry making process is for me to finish up the edges of each individual bracelet link.  After each piece has cured, I pop each one out of its mold.  (It takes at least 72 hours for it to completely cure.)  For the pieces that have a lot of extra resin, I can trim them with some heavy duty scissors.

To take the sharp edges off each piece, I have to sand it with several different grits of sandpaper.  I do this on a flat surface under water.  Why underwater?  As the friction generates heat, the "crumbs" will melt back onto the piece unless I do it underwater.  I sand the back and the edges with 3 different grits of sandpaper.

Check back for Monday's post where I finally drill the pieces and show everyone my new drill press.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Photographing new jewelry

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I have some new resin pendants using recycled Scrabble tiles.  I'm just now starting to list the first set of resin necklaces with cupcake designs, but I have lots more designs to list as well.  I love the look of these:  dainty, cute, unpretentious.  As much as I love the necklaces, I'm "unsettled" with the photography.

There are several aspects of my jewelry photography that I'm struggling with.  First of all, I'm having a hard time getting the true beauty of the pieces to translate onto a computer screen.  I've heard multiple times from customers that my jewelry is much prettier and nicer in person.  It's certainly meant as a compliment, but I also know that means my jewelry pictures just aren't that great.  I struggle with lighting, backgrounds, angles, and much more.  This is definitely one of those jobs that I would be happy to have someone else do on a regular basis.

I also struggle with using photoediting software such as Photoshop.  First, I'm a bit of a "purist" about capturing images of my resin jewelry.  I don't think it's fair to do much more than correct a wrinkle or adjust the contrast.  I don't want to manipulate images so much that it's completely computer generated.  Secondly, I just don't have a good grasp on using Photoshop.  Maybe if I was better at using it, I wouldn't feel so bad about using it to improve my jewelry photographs.

The important part in all this, is that I want to hear what readers think.  I want to hear your perspective as a customer, another artist, general fashion enthusiast, or whatever!  Do you like seeing the jewelry on the natural, beige colored stone?  Do you like a completely blank (white) background better?  Would you rather see it on a model?  How about the graduated light gray to dark gray background (see an example here)?  A fresh set of eyes might just help direct me on how to photograph my resin jewelry.

P.S.  If you're looking for the next post on the resin bracelet making process, I promise it's coming.  I decided to install a new piece of equipment to help me with the procedure, which I will talk about in the post.

Monday, July 26, 2010

New jewelry making books added to my library

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I love jewelry making books.  They are one of those things that I can never have too many of.  Whenever I'm close to a book store such as Borders or Barnes & Noble, I always have to stop in and see what's new.  Such was the case a couple of nights ago.

I found two books on jewelry making and metalsmithing techniques from an author I had never heard of.  Both books are by Anastasia Young, a jewelry artist from London.  At first look, I wasn't sure that I was going to learn anything or find out anything new from any of my other resource books.  The more I kept looking at the books, however, the more I liked her straightforward, factual approach to metalsmithing.  I also like that she includes practical examples and projects in order to learn different jewelry making techniques. 

It is definitely on my to-do list this week to enjoy these books over a glass of wine.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Make your own beaded jewelry.

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For anyone that has ever wanted to make your own handmade jewelry, beaded jewelry is a great way to get started. I was perusing the internet recently and found the website All About Beading. I was impressed that is was a pretty good online resource to start leaning how to make your own jewelry. There are multiple projects that detail the materials and tools needed to make your own bracelets, earrings, and necklaces. It even gives step by step instructions, most with pictures or diagrams. A suggestion here as well: do you have a beading supply store close to you? Many of these stores will also provide help when you purchase your jewelry making supplies from them. I have a good relationship with the ladies at Gifts of Avalon and know they are incredibly helpful to customers.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

KMS Designs fall art show schedule

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I'm only doing two art shows this fall.  Save the following dates:

  • Thornebrook Art Festival, October 2-3, 10 AM to 5 PM both days.  Thornebrook Shopping Center, 2400 block of NW 43rd St., Gainesville, Florida
  • Downtown Festival and Art Show, November 6-7, 10 AM to 5 PM both days.  The festival takes over downtown Gainesville, intersections of University Avenue and Main Street.
Stop by and say hi or come by to get some Christmas shopping done.  

    Monday, July 19, 2010

    Cupcake resin jewelry pendants

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    I'm excited to show you some new scrabble tile resin pendants I have finished.  These cupcake pendants are available at Yum Cupcakery, Gainesville, Florida. 

    Claire and Stephanie Browning of Yum Cupcakery were wonderful in allowing me to only describe my idea to them and saying yes to the new line of jewelry.

    I dropped the pendants off a couple of days ago and got these pictures before I left.

    The digitally enhanced cupcake images are adhered to the back of a scrabble tile and finished with a dome of resin on top.

    There are many styles and colors of cupcakes.  The silver tone bail allows many sizes of chain, cord or ribbon to pass through.  The pendants come on a 24 inch silver tone ball chain.

    I had a great time making them.  The process fits well with making the other resin bracelets that I've been blogging about as well.

    Claire and Stephanie said a lot of their patrons are "die-hard" cupcake enthusiasts.  I hope they like to wear them as well.  *smile*

    We talked in the future about expanding the cupcake resin jewelry line based upon customer feedback.

    I love how I was able to photograph this cupcake with its "inspiration".

    They are very light to wear.  They are water resistant, but not water proof. 

    These pendants retail for $12.  

    While I don't have individual pictures right now, if you have a particular interest in one you see here, or want to inquire about color patterns, please email me.  Otherwise, be checking the KMS Designs website for pictures in the next couple of weeks.

    Friday, July 16, 2010

    Making resin jewelry bracelets, Part 4

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    (Read part 1, part 2, and part 3 of the resin jewelry making process)

    So the clear resin has cured for about 1 to 2 days.  I can add the color behind it.

    To go with this set of papers, I am doing this batch in a medium pink.  I mix the resin just as I did before and pour it on top of the clear resin with the papers that have already cured.  I also pass my heat gun over the top to remove any bubbles that may have occurred.  In the past, I have had about 60 minutes to be able to work with this resin in its liquid form (also known as pot time).  For some reason, I have only had about 15 to 20 minutes here recently to be able to work with it.  I'm sure it's temperature and humidity related.  The resin is still curing properly, so I haven't been too concerned.

    Once the pink layer of resin has completely cured, I can pop the pieces out of their mold.  If you look carefully at the edges, you will see there is excess resin that needs to be sanded.

    If the resin is thin enough, I can trim the excess with heavy duty scissors before I sand and finish them.

    This picture shows that there are two layers of resin to each bracelet link:  a clear top layer and a colored bottom layer. 

    While tiny bubbles are to be expected in resin jewelry, the piece at left shows what happens if I don't get out the bubbles trapped underneath the papers in the clear layer.  This piece is headed for the scrap pile.  Darn!

    The next step is to show some of the sanding and how I drill the pieces.

    Wednesday, July 14, 2010

    Forged metal bracelet jewelry making class

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    I had the pleasure of teaching another jewelry making class at Gifts of Avalon this past Monday night.  I had two class regulars and two complete newbies to my class.  This class was forging metal with a hammer and block to create a cuff bracelet.

    This is Judy, who is one of my class regulars.  She is usually with her "partner in crime" Claudia, who actually had taken the class when I taught it in May.

    This is Elaine, who had come from Ocala with her friend Debbie to take the class.

    Judy shows that as a part of hammering the bracelet to a half circle, it also makes a nice smile.

    This is Elaine as she's finishing up her bracelet.  You can't tell from the picture, but she was absolutely determined to make that bracelet perfect.  A girl after my own heart!

    This is Debbie's finished bracelet.  My photography skills don't allow you to truly appreciate the pinks, blues and golds she was able to get with a torch on this copper bracelet.  The colors really are beautiful.

    Judy loved making her bracelet. She left a polished look to her copper bracelet and wore it home that night.  (I think she was happy not to have needed to use the jeweler's saw, but that's another story...)

    Lastly is Jill, who has also taken several of my other classes.  She was the class "curve buster" and decided to make two bracelets in the class.  The one further down on her wrist is made of copper, while the other one is made of sterling silver.  She got a chance to use the propane torch and liver of sulfur to expand her metal coloring knowledge.

    If you're interested in taking this class, drop me an email.  I schedule classes once a month based on what people are most interested in taking.

    Monday, July 12, 2010

    Making resin jewelry bracelets, Part 3

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    (In case you missed other posts you can read part 1 and part 2)

    I wear nitrile gloves whenever I'm working with resin.  The resin can be irritating to the skin and it's downright sticky.  I always use nitrile gloves (versus latex) because some types of resin will react with latex.  I use small plastic mixing cups (seen on the far left) with graduations on the side.  It allows me to visually measure exact amounts of resin.  (These happen to be cups with dram marks on the side.)

    These are the finished, sealed papers.  They have been cut and sealed twice.

    To make these resin bracelet links, I will be using a clear, plastic mold.  This will allow me to lift up the mold and see if there are any bubbles trapped underneath the papers once I place them.

    Since I pour resin at odd hours of the day and night, (and this time was no exception), I don't have anyone available to take pictures of the pouring process.  To give you a mental image here, I mix the two cups of carefully measured resin together and pour into the mold.

    I only pour the mold about halfway full.  I then carefully slide the sealed paper into the mold with the back side facing me.  I lift each mold to see if there are bubbles trapped underneath the papers.  If there are, I use a toothpick to tap the papers and the heat from my heat gun (the blue thing in the picture) to draw the bubbles out.

    Once everything is poured, I cover the resin molds and let them sit to cure.  The initial cure takes about 24 hours.

    The next step:  adding color to the back.

    Friday, July 09, 2010

    A new style resin jewelry pendant

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    If you're reading this hoping for the next step in the resin bracelet making process, it is still forthcoming.  I have a slight detour in the jewelry making series.

    I blogged a few days ago about my visit to Yum Cupcakery in Gainesville, Florida.  The owners and I discussed if I could do a line of jewelry for them that would fit with their bakery.  I had an idea in mind and decided to go with it. 

    This is a resin jewelry pendant with a cupcake image on the front of a scrabble tile.  The cupcake image was digitally created and printed onto high quality laser paper. 

    The image is sealed with decoupage glue (just like the bracelets) then adhered to a scrabble tile.  Resin is placed on top and allowed to cure.

    The pendant is finished with a silver tone bail that will allow most any chain, cord or ribbon to pass through the bail opening.  The pendant comes on a 24 inch, silver tone ball chain.  The chain can be cut to fit as desired.

    This is just the first in the series of several cupcake styles.  I will post pictures of new pendants along with the resin bracelets also in process next week on this blog.

    Wednesday, July 07, 2010

    A grilled chicken recipe

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    I don't know about you, but I love to grill food.  It always seems to taste better and during the summer especially, it keeps me from heating up my kitchen. 

    This is one of my favorite grilled chicken recipes because not only does it taste good, but it is pretty quick and easy to prepare.


    Grilled Chicken with Greek Salsa

    4 to 6 chicken breasts
    1 cup sliced Kalamata Olives
    1 roma tomato, chopped
    1 tsp. red wine vinegar
    1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp olive oil
    2 cloves of garlic
    Salt and pepper to taste
    Fresh parsley and/or oregano
    1/4 to 1/3 cup of feta cheese (optional)

    Marinate the chicken breasts in 1/4 cup olive oil and 1 crushed garlic clove for at least 30 minutes (but most of the day will also do fine).  Preheat the grill.  While it is heating, make the salsa by combining the olives, tomato, vinegar, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 clove of crushed garlic, and fresh herbs (to taste).  Let the salsa warm to room temperature while the chicken is grilling.  Salt and pepper the chicken before placing on the grill.  Cook thoroughly.  Serve with the salsa on the side and feta cheese sprinkled on top. 

    Monday, July 05, 2010

    A visit to a local bakery

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    So who doesn't love a good cupcake?  I read an article in the Gainesville Sun and the Florida Alligator featuring a new cupcake bakery, Yum Cupcakery,  that had opened in town.  It was started by recent University of Florida graduates Claire and Stephanie Browning.  I sent them a note of congratulations and they invited me by for a visit.

    I was immediately struck by all the cupcake choices they had!  Pick your cake, then a filling and a frosting,  Finish it off with your favorite topping.

    They were, of course, filling orders while I was there.  (That's Stephanie behind the counter.)  I couldn't possibly leave without a few cupcakes.  (Especially since my little peeps were mad they weren't going with me.)

    This one's for me.  :) Carrot cake with a cream cheese icing.  It was just as good as it looks.

    This is is strawberry cake with a chocolate filling and icing.  Stephanie is drizzling a fruit glaze on top.

    There are two large trays of topping possibilities.

    My order is partially finished.  The one in the front with the sprinkles is just a simple vanilla cake and vanilla icing.

    Here are Stephanie (left) and Claire (right) with my finished order.  The family just loved them!

    While I was there, Claire and Stephanie asked if I could come up with some "cupcake jewelry" for their store.  Wow!  I am thrilled to be asked!  As it so has it, there are a few things on the design table that I think will be a good fit. 

    Saturday, July 03, 2010

    Making resin jewelry bracelets, Part 2

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    Part 2 of the resin bracelet making process

    So now that I've placed the first coat of the sealant on the paper, it's time for me to cut.  For these resin bracelets, I need 5/8 inch squares.  I cut a 5/8 inch paper strip using a ruler and an exacto knife.

    I then cut the strip into 5/8 inch squares using a T-square and an exacto knife.  (Don't forget to use newspaper or some other padding under your blade or you will make marks into the surface you're cutting on.)


    You can see now that I have a bunch of squares in the paper pattern I've previously sealed.


    I don't like the "sharp" corners on the squares, so I round the edges off with scissors.

    You can see the finished squares here.  The top ones will be used.  The bottom ones are shown before the edges get rounded off.

    The next step is to reseal them again with the decoupage glue.

    Check back next week for the next step!

    In case you missed it, Part 1 of the resin jewelry bracelet making process

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