Monday, June 29, 2009

Time Saving Tips - Get Oraganized! (part 2)

Now what to do with all those burs, bits, stamps, punches, wires, sheets, sandpaper, ...*breath*... pliers, mandrels, cutters, et cetera?
And how much time would you save if you knew where they all were?

Cosmo's Moon's kitchen knife strip.

Magnets are my favorite idea to keep up with anything made from a ferrous metal. You can find strips made for the purpose here, or you could get one designed for kitchens here.

Stamp's strips organize pliers.

Here's another great tip:
organize spools of wire, sheet metals and sandpapers in filing systems.

Kathryn Riechert's files for papers and metals.

You can find different filing systems in any office supply store, but here are some options from Etsy:

See you next time for tips on organizing your business - from spreadsheets to shipping!

Bijougirl Designs, Nina Dinoff, Stamp, Kathryn Riechert, ESDesigns, DuckDuckGoose, Cynthia DelGiudice, Sudlow, Maggie J, Bloom Studios, Nina Gibson Designs

Friday, June 26, 2009

Etsy Metal News 6.26.09

Hello again! Here is some Friday news from our members:

Amanda of bijougirldesigns will have a booth at the Walden Artisan Market on Eastland Avenue in Nashville, TN this weekend, the 27th and 28th.

If you're in or near Athens, GA, don't forget to stop by and see Beth of bcyrjewelry at
Athfest this weekend - Friday the 26th through Sunday the 28th.

And KathrynRiechert will
be at Freedom Fest in Ridgeville, SC this weekend. Stop on by and have a look!

And a big congrats to Clare of stamp and Beth of bcyrjewelry, who were featured in this week's Storque article about right-hand rings! Yahoo!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Bijougirl Designs = Amanda Conley

Little Tang and Coral Necklace

Amanda Conley is the talented artist behind Bijougirl Designs. She is another one of our newer Etsy Metal members...yet she has been been active in our private forums and is a regular contributing author on this blog. I have recently had the honor to meet her and her enthusiasm is contagious. We are proud to have her on our team!

1. Where do you live, and where are you from?
I was born and raised in Nashville, TN and I still live here with my husband and three kiddos.

2. How did you get started working with metal?

I met my husband while majoring in fine art in college. He's still doing the whole painting thing, and it's going well for him, so I guess I turned to metal so I wouldn't be directly competing and we could both be artists but be doing different things.

3. What are a few of your favorite pieces at the moment?

My favorite things to do are birds and flowers and nature related things. This is one of my favorite necklaces right now:
Lovebirds Necklace

and I'm in love with this ring:
Little Flower Amethyst Ring

4. What inspires you (artists, objects, interests)?
There is so much that sparks my imagination. I can hardly focus on anything because I'm always thinking about which jewelry piece I'm going to make next. I think I'm most inspired when I'm at church or out in nature, though.

5. Do you have any other artistic interests?
I used to really love painting and sculpture, but I haven't really done any of that since my kids were born. Maybe one day I'll have time to everything again!

You can find more of Amanda's work in her Etsy shop Bijougirl Designs and read her musings on her blog. You can also see her husband, Seth Conley's paintings here.
Composition 4029 by Seth Conley.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Etsy Metal Finds

Go Ride A Bike!
1. Pink and Black Bike Basket Liner by Saralynnmo
2. Wood Helmet by Bellehelmets
3. bike bag ... TopTube VeloPocket - black and white oilcloth by HamboneDesigns
4. Gold and Purple Swirl - Couture Bicycle Streamers by CityStreamers

Monday, June 22, 2009

Time Saving Tips - Get Organized

I like to be super organized to combat my severe right brain-ed-ness. But alas, I fall short most of the time. I feel sure that if could organize things just right I would save oh, so much time in my studio. No more time wasted searching...searching...searching...

That's my studio, by the way - Oh, to shame...

I asked members of the EM team to show me their favorite methods for organizing their space and many of their ideas gave me tons of ideas for my studio (which is in need of a major overhaul.)

Storage - Clare Stoker/Stamp

A major part of organizing any studio space is storage. You can find great basic storage bins here, here, here and here....oh, and here.

Or try finding more unique things to store all your bits and pieces:

Nina Gibson's card catalog storage system

Here are some more unconventional storage solutions:

Next time we'll talk about specific solutions for storing tools, wire, sandpaper and more. Stay tuned...

Contributors: Bijougirl Designs, Nina Dinoff, Stamp, Kathryn Riechert, ESDesigns, DuckDuckGoose, Cynthia DelGiudice, Sudlow, Maggie J, Bloom Studios, Nina Gibson Designs

Weekly Review - Alligator Skin

I love this stuff. I only got it recently, but have quickly found that it that it helps to protect my fingers in just the way I need. I was hesitant about getting it because I really like to be able to 'feel' everything. It took a little experimenting to find what was most comfortable for me - wrapped enough to protect, but not too much to lose all sensation. I use it mostly when I am finishing up ring castings. Its great for gripping when sawing off sprues. Its nice to know that if I slip, my naked finger won't get cut, and the slight stickiness of the 'gator skin help to hold on to the ring as well.

When I'm finishing the insides of the rings, they quickly heat up. At least with my fingers a little protected, I can grind/sand/polish for longer before I have to move on to a second ring to let the first one cool down. Not only are my little fingers protected from cuts and burns, it also helps save some time! Before I used it, at the end of a finishing day my fingers would be so sensitive from essentially being slowly burned for hours. Now they are just fine! I've seen photos where they wrap it all the way down past the top two knuckles. I didn't like that as much, so I just make little finger tips. That way I can easily slide them off if I need to. I got mine from Rio Grande, and Gesswein carries it too.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Etsy Metal News 6.19.09

Wow! There is so much news this week from our members. Here are the highlights, below.

Maureen of CosmosMoon will be showing summer jewelry at Arts Marketplace, 40 W Broadway in Tucson through the end of July. It's the first show of a new arts initiative in Tucson. She is also planning a trip to New England where she will be visiting with local NE metalsmiths and blogging about the visits--so far she is scheduled to visit with Boris Bally, Chris Ploof, Susan Sarantos, Claire Sanford and Cynthia Eid.

Today is the last day for a blog giveaway that Ashley of ashleyjewelry is having simultaneously with Megan Mucci of Harrilu. Ashley is giving away a necklace on Megan's blog, and Megan is giving away a tshirt on Ashley's blog.

Su from QuercusSilver will be at h@ndmade Winchester on July 5th in England. It's the third craft sale organised by some lovely UK Etsy makers.

Danielle of daniellejewelry will be exhibiting at the American Artisan Festival in Nashville, TN. The festival runs from Friday, June 19 - Sunday June 21.

Laura of tangerinetreehouse will be selling at the Solstice Celebration at the Long Beach Community Gardens (10th & Loma) on Sunday, June 21, 1-6pm.

Andes of andescruz is having a HUGE summer sale! Check out her Etsy shop to see what's on sale. And don't forget to check out her Etsy photo shop called jadephoto.

Lisa of lpjewelry is having a weekend overstock sale. Head on over and see what's on sale in her shop!

Jesse of jessedanger
will be at SoWa, Boston's original outdoor weekly artisan market, this weekend in Boston, Sunday the 21st.

Beth of bcyrjewelry
will be at the open-air artist market Athfest in Athens, GA June 26-28.

And last but not least, Nina from ninadinoff
will be participating in the Radical Jewelry Makeover which raises money for Anyone in the Penland, NC area can come to the auction on July 2 at Penland.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Weekly Review - Digital Calipers

I recently got these calipers and love them! Before, I only had the simple little brass ones - which are no good for measuring anything specific, only if you want a 'close' measurement.

A friend of mine had gotten some recently and mentioned how much she loved them. I decided to get a somewhat mid-ranged version. Though I found the selection rather strange. Several were in the $27 - $34 range. The one I got was $45 and then the expensive ones were $169. Quite a big jump! I can't say I really had a lot to go on when trying to decide between the different ones. But I am very happy with the one I did get. I really don't know how I lived with it!

It measures both outer diameter

and inner diameter

and you can convert the measurement from mm, to inches in either a decimal or fraction.

So far in the short time I've had it, I've used it to measure settings, stones, drill bits and burs. Maybe b/c I'm not THE most organized, finding the right size bur is just a guessing game most of the time. Now I can whip these out of their handy case and know the exact size! And yes, the come in their own nice blue case, a battery to get you started and an extra battery! You don't actually have to turn it on, just open them and it automatically turns on. It might have an automatic shut off, though I haven't tried leaving them on long enough to find out. (I'm sure they came with instructions, I rarely bother reading them unless I need to!)

If you do any stone setting, these are a big time saver. Even if you don't do much stone setting, I'm sure once you have these, you will find things to measure just for fun! I ordered mine from Rio Grande. Though I'm pretty sure Lowe's and hardware type stores carry some as well.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Studio Apron

Originally uploaded by cosmosmoonjewelry
So recently I've been on the hunt for my perfect apron. It might have been this photo from Maureen of CosmosMoon that particularly brought forth the smoldering idea in my head. It also seems that many people have a personal relationship w/ their apron, which I find very interesting and only make me want to find my 'perfect' one that much more.

Do you have a special and loved apron you wear in the studio? Or are you like me and just wear grungy clothes that you wipe your hands on? I'm mostly wanting an apron for the pocket - now that its hot, I often wear little dresses to stay cool - most of which have no pockets.

So all this has made me very curious about aprons - please share any links to your aprons!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Tent Weights - a Tutorial

How to make your own Tent Weights

The summer season is quickly approaching, and soon our cities and streets will be filled with arts and crafts festivals. Almost all outdoor events require a tent/canopy, and since weather is so unpredictable, it is necessary to weigh the tent down to avoid damage to your tent or artwork, or others tent or artwork. There are many methods available, I am going to show you how to make sturdy weights using PVC pipes, which weigh approx 35 pounds each.

These weights are easy to make by yourself, though it can be handy to have an extra set of muscles around. (I had assistance lifting the heavy bags of concrete our of the car, as well as opening the can of PVC glue - the rest I managed on my own). The total cost was under $60 (plus tax) - though I will mention some options at the end which would cost more. Total time was about 1 1/2 hours.

Materials Needed:
10ft PVC pipe, 4 inches diameter - Cut into 4 equal lengths of 2 1/2 feet each - most retailers will do this at no cost to you
--$8.48 @ Home Depot

PVC End Cap 4" diameter - x4
--$7.35 each @ Home Depot

PVC Glue, or other adhesive
--$3.76 @ Home Depot

8"x 1/2" Eye bolts x 4 (these come with nuts)
--$2.56 each @ Home Depot

1/2 inch washers x 4
--$0.19 each @ Home Depot

80 lb bag Quickrete x 2 (Make sure you get the ready-to-use kind - all the aggregate is pre-mixed - all you need is water!)
--$3.29 each @ Lowe's

Easy Water Access (hose or bucket)
Bucket or tray for mixing cement
Small garden shovel or trowel for mixing/pouring cement
4 pieces scrap wood - at least 5 inches long, to fit through eye bolts
Dust mask (Dry cement is very dusty)
Large sponge for clean up
Rope or Bungee cords for propping up tent weights
(My end caps were rounded, so it was not possible for them to stand up on their own - I supported mine against the post on my porch - a deck railing would also work well)
Optional: Tarp or newspaper to lay down to protect work surface from concrete
(I worked outside on my stone porch, so this was not necessary for me)

First step, make sure the pipe and end caps are smooth and clean. Check the fit to make sure the end cap will easily fit on the pipe. Disassemble, and following the directions on the label, apply the PVC glue (or other adhesive) to the inside of cap, then the outside of tube. Then apply the end cap to the tube. Repeat this for all 4 pipes.

Once the end caps are in place, prop the pipes upright, using rope or bungees to stabilize them. (This is especially helpful if you are doing this solo).

Begin mixing concrete. While wearing a dust mask, dump some of the dry concrete mix into your bucket or tray, then add water slowly. I mixed about 1/3 of the bag at a time, though this depends on what you are mixing in.

Thoroughly mix the cement, adding more water or concrete mix until you have the consistency similar to cookie dough. You don't want it soupy, but not too dry either. There should be no puddles of water, and no dry crumbles, either.

Once a good consistency has been reached, start spooning the mixture into your pipes. (This goes much faster than it sounds!) Every so often, shake or tap the pipe to help the wet cement settle into place.

Fill each pipe until it is about 6 or 7 inches from the top - check depth with eye bolt.

Prepare the eye bolts by adding the large washer, then the nut. These help give the concrete something to hold onto, so that the eye bolt won't pull out of the concrete over time.

Slide the piece of scrapwood through the eyebolt, then rest it on the rim of the pipe. This holds the eyebolt in place, and prevents it from sinking into the wet cement. (Alternatively, you can fill the cement all the way to the top, then let it set up for a few minutes, then shove the eyebolt into place. I prefer this method as it eliminates guess work and reduces the risk of waiting too long and having the cement set up too long before adding the eye bolt.)

Fill the rest of the pipe with wet cement up to the base of the eyebolt.
With a large wet sponge, clean off any spills or drips from the pipe before it fully hardens. Let the concrete sit untouched for at least 24 hours so it can fully cure.

When attaching to your tent, I plan to use a tie-down strap attached to the eyebolt, then attached to the top frame of the tent, making sure it is taught. Then use bungees to secure the weight around the leg of the tent. I don't recommend using bungees to suspend the tents from, as you don't want them bouncing about should it get windy.

Kathryn Riechert's gorgeous display, with PVC tent weights in place

Other options:
Kathryn Riechert suggests adding end caps to both sides of the weight. Drill a hole through one end cap, thread the eyebolt through and secure with nut. Add washer and nut as mentioned in tutorial. Turn upside down, and fill to the top with cement. To finish, top it off with another end cap so there is no exposed cement.
Another useful tip from Kathryn - add carrying handles. Before pouring the cement, attach heavy-duty handles with long screws to the side of the weight. The cement will fill up around the screws, locking them in place. Makes carrying around 35 pounds a little easier!

Friday, June 12, 2009

EtsyMetal News 6.12.09

Our members have some great news this week, as usual! Read on for the highlights.

will be at the Riverside Arts Market in Jacksonville, FL this weekend in booth #816. If you're in the area, stop by and check out Kathryn's beautiful jewelry.

bcyrjewelry's Sterling Tree Bark Wedding Rings are currently
being used as the front page banner shot advertising Etsy's Handmade Weddings Gift Guide! They look great up there, Beth!

And a big congratulations to Shannon of rubygirl, who hit 900 sales in her shop this week! Let's help her get to 1000!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Important Tumbler Maintenance Tip

Just a quick reminder to those with tumblers, whether it's a Lortone, or the bargain basement version from Harbor Freight like mine- don't forget to oil the little roller things (drive shaft bearings I'm told they're called) with motor & bearing oil. I had some that I got a while ago for my sewing machine. I realized I hadn't oiled these things in months only after the belt broke- which is probably part of the reason it broke. Now my tumbler is running perfectly, while before it was kind of making an unpleasant grinding noise, and moving rather slowly. It's pretty straightforward- just put a drop of oil on the rollers where they meet the edge.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


My husband, teaches at the South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities, a public residential high school for emerging artists. When he told me they were going to be doing a bronze casting, I immediately grabbed my camera, hopped in the car and drove over! I am hoping to document the entire process: wax sculpting, spruing, layering the ceramic shell investment, burn out, casting, clean up. But for now, here are some images of the casting...
Melting the ingot in the furnace

Removing the crucible from the furnace (look at that glow!)

Pouring the molten bronze into the molds

The metal cools

Replacing the crucible into the furnace

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Weekly Review - AJM Guide to Lost-Wax Casting

I just got this book the other day and am super excited about it. When most of my casting was pretty straightforward - it was easy! I went years and never had a casting not turn out. However, as I've progressed and started experimenting - I try risky things that I haven't done before and often come up a little short. There is a great troubleshooting section which is just what I need! Its not a huge book, only 116 pages, but I can tell it is going to be a fabulous resource. It has a lot of info other books I have don't cover and one aspect I particularly like is that it is a collection of articles from different authors. You can check it out on Amazon, or the next time you place your Rio Grande order, they have it too.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Etsy Metal Blog Carnival

2009 June- Etsy Metal Blog Carnival... So what is a blog carnival?

A small group of Etsy Metal members with their own blogs will collectively write a short article on a given subject. We will be doing this the first Friday of each month.

Our topic for June is: "How did you come to develop your clearly defined style? What inspired you to that signature style?

The following blogs are participating in this month's topic. We hope you enjoy reading about our inspirations...

Friday, June 5, 2009

EtsyMetal News 6.5.09

Happy Friday! Here is some great Friday news from several of our members:

Lisa from lpjewelry will be participating in two shows back to back, for double the fun! This weekend in Chicago, IL, she'll be at the Hyde Park Community Art Fair as well as the 57th Street Art Fair.

Don't you love ashleyjewelry's work? Want to win some of it? There's a giveaway going on on the Down and Out Chic blog for a pair of her Graduated Saucer Earrings. Log on now--the giveaway starts today!

ninadinoff will be at the Renegade Craft Fair this weekend in Brooklyn, NY! Look for her in booth #78.

KathrynRiechert will be at the Trustee's Garden Market in Savannah, GA this weekend. Kathryn also got a little shout out in the 'We Love' section of the June 2009 Savannah/Hilton Head edition of Skirt! Magazine. Congrats!

Rebekah from LunasaDesigns will be having a grand re-opening, listing all kinds of new work, on June 8th!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Etching Brass and Copper

Etching Brass and Copper with Ferric Chloride
Materials needed:
Ferric Chloride Solution for etching - I found this solution at the local Radio Shack
Gloves, safety glasses, apron
Glass or plastic dish to hold etching solution
Dish for water/baking soda rinse
Clear packing tape
Sharpie markers, or other resist
copper or brass to etch
Green scotchbrite pad for cleaning copper

Safety First: Make sure to read all safety precautions that come with your feric chloride solution. Use good ventilation, and wear proper safety gear.

First, select your metal to be etched. Ferric Chloride will work on copper and brass, but not sterling silver. I suggest no thinner than 24 gauge for etching, I am using 20 gauge for this example. Thicker metal allows for a deeper etch - you don't want it eating all the way through the metal. Scrub the metal clean with a green scotch brite pad, removing all dirt and oils.

Choose your resist, and apply it to the metal. For a real low-tech etch, I am using sharpie markers. The area that is covered by ink will not be etched. Other resists include nail polish, tape, or you can use PnP for photo-etching. It is good to do a test for your first etch, playing around with different lines, patterns, or widths of the sharpie pens. I used ultra fine, fine, and chisel edged sharpies for this test strip.

Once you are finished with your design, place your patterned metal face down on a clean, smooth surface. I am using a large ceramic floor tile. Apply a long length of packing tape to the back, and burnish it down with the end of a plastic paint brush or similar item to remove air bubbles. Pay special attention to the edges - you don't want the solution seeping up underneath the tape. Note: You can also apply resist to the back of the metal, then apply the tape if the back of the piece.

Pour the ferric chloride into your dish so it is approx 1/2 - 3/4 inch deep. Suspend your metal on the top of the solution, using the tape to hold it in place. Make sure the entire surface is in contact with the etching solution. Suspending it on the surface, rather than completely submerging the piece, will also help prevent the etching solution from seeping under the tape.

Allow the metal to etch for at least 30 minutes. I like to gently agitate the solution every 10 minutes or so, by sliding the dish around on the counter top. This helps create a clean, even etch.

Check on the depth of the etch at 30 minutes. You can use a pin to help feel the depth of the etch. If it is not deep enough, place it back in the solution for 5-10 minute intervals. Solution that has been used for a while may need longer etching time.

Once an adequate depth has been reached, carefully remove it from the etching solution and rinse/neutralize in a bath of water and baking soda.

This is what my piece looked like after rinsing/neutralizing and drying. To remove the sharpie marker, you can clean with rubbing alcohol.

I then gave it a good scrub with a brass brush and soapy water, and applied a patina with liver of sulfur.

You can etch all sorts of shapes and sizes, you are only limited by the size of your etching bath. Here are some 1 inch copper discs that have been etched with various patterns. The lower left-hand pattern was done in 2 parts: I drew lines with a fine point sharpe in one direction, etched for 30 minutes. Cleaned off the resist, drew lines in the opposite direction, and etched for an additional 30 minutes. The result was a great woven/textile like pattern.

These pieces were made by doming the copper discs after etching, and then setting in custom made bezels of fine and sterling silver.

You don't have to etch just plain ol' sheet metal. Try making your own beads out of brass and copper tubing - round, square, rectangle, etc. Before cleaning and applying your pattern, fill the tube with clay or wax to prevent the etching solution from eating away from both sides of the tubing. Then put a length of silver wire through the tube to suspend the bead in the ferric chloride. (Remember, ferric chloride won't etch the silver)

Disposing of Ferric Chloride:
Please, be responsible when disposing of the ferric chloride solutions. While the bottle may say it is safe to pour down the drain, it is best to call your local hazardous waste authority to confirm. Regulations vary for every state, and even within different counties. For small businesses or hobbyists, there is often no charge at your local drop-off facility. Some cities also have an annual hazardous materials pick-up at no charge to you.
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