Thursday, May 29, 2008

My Latest Jewellery and Beads

I enjoy weaving intricate pieces such as this one -

One of the galleries that display my work had asked for more of my pieces and if I could include something simpler. This is the necklace, still using the finger weaving technique but as you can see a much simpler design. I have woven in coral and lapis lazuli, then seed beaded a section and finished with one of my handmade lampwork beads as the focal point. I have named this particular piece 'Coral Reef'

I have made a couple of mini lampwork sets this week -
This particular set was created on a rich blue and turquoise base with droplets of fine silver.

The set is simple but stylish with slivers of fine silver over a black base

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

'Chain Mail Jewelry' by Terry Taylor & Dylon Whyte

I must admit I have only made one project from this book, but that in no way reflects on the quality of this book (it's purely my laziness). I had never used the method of chain mail, and now have great admiration for those who do, as it is not as easy as it looks! In saying that, I do believe this is an excellent book. Beautifully presented with excellent coloured photos. The step by step instructions are well written with very helpful illustrations. 144 pages with a hard cover and classy presentation, complete with a gallery of stunning pieces. This book includes 12 projects for the beginner; 8 projects in the intermediate section, followed by 9 projects for the advanced. Here are photos of a few of the projects offered -

Braided Bracelet Page 98 'Advanced' This project involves making 3 seperate strands of chain mail and then braiding them

Diamond Chain Mail Earrings Page 111 'Advanced' A geometric design using rings with an inner dimension of 2.4mm

Rain Earrings Page 122 'Advanced' Flat chain mail interspersed with pearls

Mobioused Rosettes Bracelet Page 48 'Beginner' A variation of European 4-1 chain mail

Sprialing Chain Page 57 'Beginner' A stunning chain made from 2 different sizes of jump rings

Hana-Gusari Bangle Page 77 'Intermediate' An alternating design attached to a silver bangle

Lace Mail Cocktail Collar with Pearls Page 83 'Intermediate' Made from 3 sizes of jump rings ending in dainty pearls

I would thoroughly recommend this book. The instructions are so well written and illustrated, it doesn't leave you in the middle of a project wondering what direction to go in next. Enjoy and have fun!

This is my anklet chain I made using the project from 'Chain Mail Jewelry'

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

New Bracelets and Lampwork Beads

I had a request from one of the galleries that carry my work to create some bracelets for their next exhibition.

'Tropical Cocktail' comes to mind when I look at this bright woven bracelet. I have finger woven gemstones such as turquoise and sodalite, together with my handmade lampwork beads in blues, apricot, yellow and red with contrasting Japanese seed beads in between. This would be ideal for any season, bright and sunny for the summer months, and so uplifting for those cold winter days.

Turquoise and black, a beautiful combination giving a cool mediterranean feel. Once again finger woven, combining gemstones, crackle glass and cat's eye beads with my handmade lampwork beads and Japanese seed beads giving an extra dimension.

'Torrid Zone' - A land between tropics which I feel amply describes this set of my handmade lampwork beads. Fine silver on ivory depicting arid parched soil with surrounding turquoise pools.

'Cottage Garden' - Sweet violet blooms feature on this lentil lampwork bead over a base of black with a subtle green vine, together with 2 etched violet round beads.

'Silver Mine' - Veins of fine silver running through a base of amber and cinnamon. Complete with 2 round pale amber lampwork beads with an etched finish.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Step By Step Sterling Silver Earrings Tutorial

Materials needed:
8cm of 1mm (18G) sterling silver wire
1.8mm sterling silver wire for rings
1 pair lampwork beads
hard silver solder
wire screen netting

Tools needed:
6mm & 10mm mandrels
jeweller's saw
chain nose pliers
soldering torch
pickle pot
anvil or steel block
wire cutters


1. Wrap the 1.8mm sterling silver wire around a 10mm mandrel to form 2 round links, take the wire rings off the mandrel, using a jewellers saw, open the blade slip the silver onto the blade, fasten the blade and saw down the inside of the wire links.

2. Manipulate the link together so the join is even on 2 of the links, and solder the joins with hard solder.

3. Pickle the links, then using wire netting place over the links and hammer to flatten and texture the links on both sides ( I wrap the netting right around to give an even texture).

4. Cut 6 cm of the 1mm sterling silver wire and solder to the top of the textured ring and pickle.

5. Using a mandrel approx. 6mm in diameter curve the wire around to form the ear wire.

6. With the remaining 2 cm of 1mm sterling silver wire solder to the bottom portion of the textured ring and place in the pickle.

7. Add the lampwork bead to the 2 cm of silver wire, push it up to the top of the wire and place the lower portion on an anvil and hammer flat until the bead cannot pass over the end. Wrap the flattened piece in wire netting and hammer to texture.

8. Place in the tumbler with steel shot and burnishing compound for approximately an hour, and presto a pair of beautiful handmade earrings!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Brian Despain - A Very Talented Artist

I'm enjoying 'discovering' so many artists with wonderful talent and Brian Despain is no exception. His art stretches the imagination and I find myself searching every detail knowing I will find something I hadn't noticed at first glance. I found his descriptions of his art were as creative as his actual paintings, he had me thoroughly entertained for way too long! From someone who was not familiar with his work, I have studied his art and thought how would I recognize the paintings as being that of Brian Despain . He does have defining subject matters such as his robot series, but one thing I found to be common in most of his work is his style of painting the cloudy sky, it seems to be a stand out feature (albeit in the background) of the majority of his creations. Wonderful work! I hope you admire it as much as I have.

'The Second Leviathan'

'The Dream'

'Tales From A Tin Can'

Thursday, May 22, 2008

What is the Difference Between ART & CRAFT?

An excerpt from Wiki.Answers

"The concept of craft is historically associated with the production of useful objects and art well, at least since the 18th century with useless ones. The craftsmans teapot or vase should normally be able to hold tea or flowers, while the artists work is typically without utilitarian function. In fact, if an object is made demonstrably useless if, to cite a famous example, you take a teacup and line it entirely with animal fur it has to be considered as a work of art, because there is nothing else left to consider it as. The crafts tend to produce things which are useful for various human purposes, and though they may be pretty or pleasing in any number of ways, craft objects tend to exhibit their prettiness around a purpose external to the object itself. To this extent, the crafts arent arts, according to a idea which found fullest expression in the aesthetics of the great Enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant. Works of art, Kant said, are intrinsically final: they appeal purely at the level of the imagination and arent good for any practical utility, except and Ill return to this except the cultivation of the human spirit."

My comment: I can accept the definiton of a craft as being utilitarian. I still question the idea that craft is not art.

An excerpt from

"A craft is usually a cookie-cutter or close-ended activity. The craft activity is based on a formula or recipe and all participants follow the same directions and end up with roughly the same result every time.
An art activity is more open-ended. So for example, in a drawing project all participants may start with the same materials of paper and pencils and maybe they are asked to create drawings that represent their family. The results of this project will create many different drawings and therefore many different solutions to the same problem. While the end result may not always be considered art, the possibility of creating an original drawing that transcends it's parameters and materials is always possible, and that, to me, is the definition of art."

My comment: I feel this is a very loose opinion and I don't think it puts any clarifcation on the question asked.

An excerpt from The Getty
"I think knowing the difference between art and craft is what matters. Craft follows directions with a specific outcome or product, often somewhat copied from an example or sample. Art has more emphasis on process and the result of exploring
and experimenting with materials. "

My comment: To me this is saying if a utilitarian object is made from a 'mould' then it is a craft, whereas if you have added your own touch it is then considered art.

An excerpt from Yahoo! Answers (jaipurjo)
"An accepted distinction is that craft produces an object that is valued for it's practical use, while art is valued for it's creativity and imaginative content. This is not to say that in craft there can not be art! A master craftsman can produce a piece that is not only functionally sound but combines imaginative and creative forms and is able to give pleasure on both levels. "

My comment: I think this definition says it all - that it cannot be defined!

Is this Art or Craft?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Adelaide Lights Up!

I live in Adelaide, South Australia and during our annual Festival of Arts the city really comes alive. Although the festival ended a couple of months ago, I still felt it was worth showing off some of the amazing art shown during February and March this year.

The Electric Canvas, an Australian company specialising in film and effects projection were responsible for these amazing projections on our city buildings, which changed every five minutes with 70 different images.

Bonython Hall, University of Adelaide

Bonython Hall, University of Adelaide

Mitchell Building, University of Adelaide

State Library of South Australia

Monday, May 19, 2008

How a Lampwork & Jewellery Artist Structures her Business

A question that is often asked of me is how I manage to find the time to maintain my business at the pace that I do. I could answer that question very simply by saying it is because I love what I do, but there is a lot more to it than that.

1. You need to have strict working hours. Many people find when working from home they are easily distracted, if this is the case you need to strictly set your working hours. I generally start my day at 8 a.m., work through till 12, take an hour's lunch break, then continue through.

2. Have a daily 'to do' list. I have an online 'to do' list which I place on my desktop at the start of my day. It's a great feeling to cross each item off during the course of the day.

3. Be prepared to work long hours. Working from home does have it's advantages but if you really want your business to have a high profile you have to be prepared to put many hours into it. I structure my day so as my studio work is done in daylight hours and my computer work is left until the evenings.

4. Prioritize your work. Pleasing your customers is the most important fact to have a successful business. When an order is received, drop everything and work on it immediately. Let your customer know it will be ready within a week and try to have it out sooner, your customer will be happy with the service and hopefully recommend you to others.

5. Updating your website. I personally think it is imperative for a business to have an online presence. So many potential customers prefer to shop from the comfort of their own home and at a time that suits them. You constantly need new content on your website to keep people continually coming back. In my experience potential customers visit your website a considerable amount of times before they make a purchase, and if over a course of a few months they find there has been no activity on your site, they may question if it is still in operation and shop elsewhere.

6. Being a housewife, mother and business owner. I must admit it can be a struggle wearing all three hats. I recently decided my house had suffered long enough, so while my business was going through a quiet time I took advantage and spent a few weeks thoroughly cleaning what had become a very messy house. I have now added to my daily 'to do' list one room each day to do a quick clean through in the evenings to try and keep on top of the situation. Of course if you can train your children and husband to help, even better, it seems I've failed miserably in that area.

7. Social Networking. I have just added this subject to my list, hence the start of my blog. I have now allocated a day to my blog so in that time I can research topics and write up a few blogs in my textEdit with hopeful intentions of having a weeks worth of blogs ready in advance. Another day is reserved for working on my website and making a presence in StumbleUpon.

I've been self employed for over 20 years, began when my children were toddlers. Organizing my business definitely did not happen overnight, it has taken many years of experience to find the best way of structuring the business and having a routine that works well. I'm sure the methods I use may not suit all of you, but hopefully you may have found a tip that you can utilize. I have always worked in a way to keep my overheads very low. I taught myself how to use 'Dreamweaver' to enable me to make and maintain my own websites. You may prefer to hire a webmaster and relieve yourself of some of the work burden, I find I enjoy this side of my work nearly as much as creating lampwork beads and jewellery!

Be inspired by Winston Churchill when he wrote, "Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never - in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never, Never, Never, Never give up."

Perseverance is the magic word. If you truly desire to own a business, don't let the little things get you down, keep working at it. Has relating my own experience of running a business helped you?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Salvador Dali - Jewellery Designer

I'm sure many of us are familiar with the amazing art works of Salvador Dali, but am I the only one who has been living under a rock? I have only just discovered that Salvador Dali also designed jewellery. He was born in 1904 and began painting at the age of 10, made his first film at the age of 25, and at 45 began designing jewellery. Salvador also wrote a novel which was published in 1944, created sculptures, had an interest in natural science and mathematics, created textile designs, and much more. If I could fit just half of those achievements in a lifetime, it would be a grand accomplishment. Salvador Dali died in 1989 at the age of 84 from heart failure.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Rodney Smith - Intriguing Photography

The photography of Rodney Smith has many compelling qualities. I find myself mesmerized by these photos, so simple and yet so complicated. Each and every photo leaves me wondering, his unique concepts are truly enthralling.

Rodney Smith is a renowned photographer, receiving many awards during his career, and his work is in demand by many eager collectors. In 1975 Rodney lived in Jerusalem for 3 months after receiving a fellowship. His photography in Jerusalem resulted in a book published by Houghton Mifflin titled 'The Land of Light'.

Touch Wood Rings

The moment I saw this ring, it took my breath away. This stunning piece has been handcrafted by David Finch of Touch Wood Rings , and as the name suggests, is made from wood. This particular piece features crushed lapis lazuli. David does not carry a range of his rings, he crafts each one to your specifications and therefore works solely with each individual customer.
Nicola and David live in a remote area of British Columbia, Canada and browsing through Nicola's Blog I discovered some beautiful photos, a Paradise all of it's own.
Make sure to check out Touch Wood Rings Gallery. You will find some amazing work, it is very apparent that David loves his craft.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

My Latest Creations

I've had a call from a gallery who has a few of my woven pieces, asking if I could give them some smaller pieces to go with the larger necklaces. That gave me the push to finally make a woven bracelet which I have intended to do for quite some time. Here's a sneak preview.

A much simpler style of my woven necklaces

A new tube bead fresh out of the kiln -

'Scribbit' is a blog written by a woman living in Alaska. Michelle writes about numerous subjects, and I have found her a very interesting read. Whether it be Planning your Children's College Education or Growing Crystals, I think you will find her an entertaining writer.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Would you like some free Lampwork Beads?

We have a winner.......congratulations Barb! It is a photo of garlic skin.

It's time for my first blog contest. This is a mystery photo, and all you have to do to win some of my handmade lampwork beads is to have a guess at what it is by using the comments button.
For a larger view, click on the photo. I will let you know via the comments if you are close and maybe give a hint if I feel it's necessary. The first to guess correctly will be the winner.

I've added a few of my latest beads fresh out of the kiln.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Making Silver Chains by Glen F. Waszek

I was looking at my vast library of jewellery making books and was making an effort to choose the one I feel I've enjoyed the most. Making Silver Chains jumped out of the shelf saying pick me! pick me! It does stand out amongst the others as being a very well written resource. It has excellent photos and step by step instructions on each of the 28 projects plus a how-to of 4 types of fasteners. The tutorials are sorted into sections - Trace Chains - Curb Chains - The Idiot's Delight and Other Circular Link Chains - Loop-in-Loop Chains - Fancy Link Chains. They all involve soldering, so if you are looking for a book demonstrating chains where soldering is not involved this book definitely will not interest you.

The book features a gallery of work, and it has the mandatory techniques, materials and tools section. I must say that it does have some interesting techniques shown.

All in all I think this is an excellent book, very well written and with thorough descriptions. I can't think of anything negative to say about this book. It has been in my collection for quite a few years and used quite often. Highly recommended!

I have added a small collection of pages from Making Silver Chains, also a photo of a bracelet I made from The Basic Curb Chain tutorial. I was very pleased with the finished piece.