Saturday, January 29, 2011

Bits N Bobs: Copper Pans

I've been shopping for copper pots and pans, and I've found they are so expensive! I was quite shocked. $250 for a copper frying pan? I could make one for a lot less. I do have all the hammers I would need. It's pretty simple to make a copper frying pan (without handle), but it takes a lot of muscle and a lot of heat. Basically, you hammer until the copper is too tough, then you heat it to soften, then hammer again, and so on. Eventually, it takes the shape of a pan. It's slow going, but might make a good gift for the cook in your family.

1) A really big anvil with horn
2) Assorted smithing hammers
3) A really big blow torch
4) Safety glasses, hearing protecting, ibuprofin.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

In the Studio: Enamelled Copper Pendants

I'm very happy to show you my new enamelled copper pendants! I've done a lot of research on torch-firing enamel (which is different from the traditional kiln firing). I've also done some experimenting, and I've finally come out with my new turquoise enamelled copper disc pendant on a sterling silver chain.

I'm very excited about torch-firing, and I plan to do a lot of experimenting with colors. I've read that one of the bonuses of torch-firing (as opposed to kiln firing) is that the colors are more "organic"--you get different colors depending on the type of fuel you use. You can even change colors a little bit if you break the rules and heat directly on the enamel. It promises to be a lot of fun!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Getting Robbed: Safety for Jewelers at Art Fairs

s part of my Trade Practices class at Revere Academy, we discussed getting robbed, mugged, held up--you name it. My teacher assured us that it was very common among jewelers. It's such a shame because most art jewelers live hand-to-mouth. Getting mugged means no rent money for the month. Not only that, but it's almost impossible to resell stolen jewelry.

The value of jewelry is in the craftsmanship. The value of a ring is in the skill needed to make it.

That said, how do you protect yourself if you're a little art jeweler selling your jewelry at a street fair?

1. Always go to fairs with another person who will help you set up your booth, tear it down, and watch your jewelry while you're talking to customers.

2. Ask art fair security to accompany you to your vehicle with your jewelry after tear-down.

3. Don't carry your jewelry or cash in an obvious place, like a brief case. Most jewelers get cased out during the fair, and then robbed after the art fair ends, when they're tearing down in the dark, or are carrying a brief case with cash and jewelry to their vehicle.

4. That said, leave a little bit of money and jewelry in the obvious place. You want them to leave with something if they should happen to open your briefcase or purse at the scene. One of my friends used to call this his "life insurance policy."

5. The other common way art jewelers get robbed is when someone asks you to take a ring out of the case and then runs off with it, disappearing into the crowd. How can you discourage this? Ask prospective buyers to leave their ID with you before you take the ring out.

6. If you do get robbed, you can check out the area pawnshops during the next few days. Chances are good your jewelry will show up there. If you see your jewelry in the pawnshop, quietly leave and then call the police.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Yurt!

Crooked House. Copper, Brass, Patina, Lacquer. House & Photo by Emily Wiser
My instructor at my jewelry school mentioned in passing today that she had a pet sheep. Every year her sheep needed to be shorn. She didn't know what to do with all of that wool! She tried to give it away to the Kindergarten so the children could do crafts. It turned out that even the Kindergarten couldn't use a whole sheep's worth of wool every year! She began to make diamond and dyed felted jewelry, which I think sounds just fabulous. Then she told us that she finally got together with a friend and they took all those years' worth of wool and made a yurt (a traditional Mongolian house)! Imagine that! A fantastically dyed, bright purple and pink and red and orange yurt! I can't stop thinking about it. I really want to get my own pet sheep and make my own yurt.

While I'm slowly working on the yurt, you can see a photo of my own little portable house, which I made out of copper in the photo above. I've engraved every single bit of it with the nursery rhyme "The Crooked House."
Above & below: close-ups of my Crooked House. Photos & House by Emily Wiser.

Monday, January 24, 2011

School Starts

Wire-wrapped sterling silver & ruby briolette necklace. Necklace & photo by Emily Wiser.

I'm taking a Trade Practices class at Revere Academy in San Francisco. It's not a shop class. I get to sit down and rest for the whole class. It's a big change from working in the studio! It's a two-day class, and ends tomorrow. Gem setting is starting in February. It promises to be interesting.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Daydreaming: Procrastination, Bits N Bobs

Prototype for my engraved book. Engraved poem "The Wave" on a locket.
Copper, patina, colored pencil, lacquer. Engraved locket & photo by Emily Wiser.

anuary is almost over. I didn't work on my engraved book! It's a confession I had to make. It's why I like making jewelry for clients. An order comes in, I get to make it, get to work with the gold or silver, get to make something that's pretty, get the satisfaction of working with my hands and seeing something born. I also wonder about who will wear it, what sentimental occasion it's for, and I'm happy when I can help commemorate important events in people's lives with rings.

When will I work on my engraved copper book, my (paper) vampire novel (lol), and the other new pieces of jewelry I've sketched out for introduction in my shop? I'm just going to have to schedule time in for it. That's what I've done before when I needed to get things done. It's how the big projects, the dream projects, get done. Anyways, here's hoping. Wish me luck!