Monthly Archives: March 2010

Adding to Etsy

I spent a good part of the day adding new jewelry to my Etsy site. Check it out! I always think that once I take the photographs, I’m in the home stretch. Hmm…not so much. There’s the cropping, choosing, and resizing of photos, then writing the descriptions. But what can I say. I love my job!

Before the three days of rain, I had a chance to use my favorite photography studio: the dining room window. Favorite studio accessories: white tissue paper, sun, and a stick.

Next batch of work to make into jewelry. I love how it looks when oxidized and fresh out of the tumbler.


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Reversible pendants and ICE resin

The ICE resin worked perfectly for me the first two times I tried it. I will definitely keep using it with my collage pieces. (Thank you again to Miss Ficklemedia for reviewing this product in her blog. That entry is what got me to try it.)  I like the look of the seed beads inside the hollow rock, but I have more to learn about that. One thing is not to overfill the compartment I’ve made. One pendant is not in these photos, specifically for that reason. I did not realize I had overfilled it with the resin, until it had already set. This stuff is solid! I ended up destroying the pendant in my attempts to free up the unwanted filling. (I can tell you that ICE resin does not shatter when struck with a hammer.) But I chalked it up to a learning experience. Even without the resin mishap, I was not happy with the results of using dark colored seed beads in the cavity. They just did not show up well. It kind of looked like a dollop of petrified blackberry jam shoved in the middle of an otherwise nice silver piece. And who needs that?


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Rock Drilling 201: Glass and smooth ends

I still use the technique I described last March on my blog (Rock drilling 101) to drill beach rocks, and once in a while a few pieces of sea glass. Depending on the material I’m drilling, the drill bit will make a clean exit on the other side of the rock, but most of the time it does not. Especially with drilling glass, the exit end chips off instead of making a clean hole.

(Did anyone else just start thinking about  jelly beans?)

The same thing happens with granite pebbles.

My solution is to drill into the rock (glass) 3/4 of the way through, (using the hot glue and class cup with water technique), pop the rock out of the glue, and determine where to start drilling from the opposite side to have the holes match up in the middle of the rock. There may be an easier way to do this, and if anyone knows a better way please leave me a comment!

But here is what I do, and I have about an 85 to 95% success rate (…depending on how recently I have been drilling. Practice makes perfect.) With glass it is easy to line up the 2nd drill hole by just holding the glass up to the light. You can usually see where to mark the opposite side, because the existing drill hole shows up easily from the other side.

With rocks it’s a little more difficult to determine. I start by placing the 3/4 drilled rock on the opposite end of a discarded drill bit.

Then I draw a line up and just over the top of the rock, trying to keep the pencil in line with the drill bit. I turn the rock 90º and draw another line. I do this until I have four lines going up and over the top of the rock. With any luck, they will all intersect at one point, and that will be the point where I start drilling the second hole. I usually make a good sized mark on that point. I check it by spinning the rock on the drill bit axis and looking down at the mark. If the mark stays at the center of the spin, I know there’s a good chance that I have the mark  in the right place.

Even with the mark in the right place, I still have to be careful to place the rock at the correct angle in the hot glue to drill my way neatly through to the original hole. The advantage to drilling the first hole at least 3/4 of the way through is that you will know if your second drill hole goes deeper than 1/4 of the way through, you probably are not drilling in the right place.

The best advice I got when starting to drill rocks still holds. Go slowly and be patient!


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What incredible weather!

It was hard to stay inside and work today. Temperatures in the 50’s, sunny, and  very little wind. So not like Little Cranberry Island in mid March! It smelled and felt like early May. After taking his 800 lobster traps out of the water in December, Bruce set out his first 80 traps of the year this morning. Then, with such a glorious day, he came home, picked up 80 more traps and went back out to set those. Now our fingers are crossed for available bait, a good price for lobsters, and plenty of action in the traps. More traps hit the water tomorrow.

When I walked to the Post Office after lunch, it was too nice to go straight home. I took a detour to Bunker’s Cove to pick up a few rocks to drill.

Back to the studio for a little more work, then back outside for a late afternoon walk. I have finally adjusted to the time change.


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Pendant progress

Tiny collages in progress and in place. Waiting for resin to set.

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Pending Pendant Possibilities

Some of these reversible pendants have been waiting to be filled for a few months. Others were fired last week. My plan is to use clear resin to cover a paper collage or a fill of beads on the reverse side. I’ve tried two kinds of resin with mixed results. Success and failure. Enough to make me want to try a new product.

Based on this review from the Miss Ficklemedia blog, I’m going to give ICE resin a try. Stay tuned, but don’t quit your day job. I have yet to make the collages, then will need to seal them and let them dry. Then I’ll apply one layer of ICE, let it set, then add the final layer, and then let them cure for a couple days. Jeeze. I’m such an instant gratification person, it will be hard to wait. (Yes, some of my resin failures are great collages, with a fingerprint smudging the resin surface because I though it would be set after a day or so.)  Two word note to self: Test piece.


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The second Monday in March

is our Town Meeting day in the Town of Cranberry Isles. We started at 8:30 this morning and finished by 3:30 with a one hour break for lunch. By the end of the day, voters passed a town budget of $1,726,008. Our town is made up of five islands, but only two are inhabited year round: Great Cranberry and Little Cranberry, also known as Islesford. You can see there are not a lot of roads on the islands, but there was a lot of roadwork improvement discussed.

Most votes are hand votes, but ballot votes are required for town officers, selectmen and school committee members. Also a voter can make a motion to have an article voted on by ballot. (This is one of the few times a moderator might have time to pull out her camera to catch a few shots of voters, while they get a chance to stretch their legs.)

I would love to know if this ballot box dates back to the 1800’s when we became a town. Once votes are cast, inserted through the slot in the top, the top slides off so the box can be turned upside down with the handle and votes counted by the ballot clerks.

Official Town meeting dress code for our three selectmen: Khaki pants.

I love our annual Town Meeting. It is such an up close and personal view of a small town at work. Jasmine Samuel made an incredible choice of soups for lunch and volunteers brought salads, breads and desserts. People got along well throughout the meeting, spoke respectfully and discussed topics intelligently.  It was a beautiful day outside, and during the recess for lunch, people took walks, ate lunch outside, and went to visit the Islesford School Open House.  After the meeting, Stefanie, Cindy, Eliza and I went for our March “Dip of the Month. “The sea water was especially refreshing after spending a sunny day inside. I sure hope this early spring continues.

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My good friend Holly…

…posted this photo on her blog yesterday.

“painted by luca di tommi in 1362.” (From the Yale art gallery)

I was shocked by the resemblance to my grilled cheese and tomato sandwich from last week.

(I must say, that sure was one divine lunch.)


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Making connections

One of the techniques I have been trying lately is to join two pieces of bone dry unfired metal clay with just a wash of water and “squidging” the edges together until they catch. This I learned from reading Kate McKinnon’s book, “Structural Metal Clay.” I’ve always made my joins, before firing, with PMC slip. But the idea of just using water to create a small amount of slip on the surface of two well-fitting pieces sounded so much easier and cleaner. I found it hard to believe it might actually be stronger, so I made a test piece to try it out.

These sample earrings were made from PMC+  rolled 4 cards thick and pressed into my own silicone texture plate. I cut the discs in half with a blade and dried them on a cup warmer. I filed the edges ever so slightly to make sure I had the widest surface to join, and wet the edges with a brush and butted them together, sliding back and forth just a little until they started to catch. I held the pieces together for a few seconds longer and then placed them back on the cup warmer. When dry, I drilled a hole in one end and fired them at 1630º for 2 hours. After firing, I tried to break these puppies apart, and they did not bend. I then hammered them on a steel block with a steel planishing hammer and no stress or breakage along the join. I’ll be darned. That is a strong little connection!

I used the same technique to attach the inside ridged piece in these earrings. It was SO much easier to use water and dry clay, than to fit two wet pieces together, or  to use oozing slip to attach them. When I used to use my own slip to join two dry pieces, I had to go back and clean up the messy dried bits before firing.

I wonder if this same technique will work with Hadar’s copper and bronze clay? I’ve been away from those clays for too long.


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Ear posts

It costs 20¢ to post up to 5 photographs for each item listed on Etsy, so I plan to post 5 every time. In trying to get different images of a necklace, I will use a leather necklace model just to give a different perspective of the piece. I think they are kind of hokey, but they do add variety to the photos. I looked for an equivalent ear model for earrings, but didn’t find any that I liked from the jewelry supply companies. The only thing that was remotely close to what I was looking for, in my Google searches, was this:

It even came with self-adhesive Velcro, for display purposes. I had to file the lobe down a little bit, as suggested, so the earrings would hang more naturally. The directions also suggested using acrylic paint or colored pencils to make it more life-like. I considered that, but then thought better of it. Do I think I might sell more earrings if they look like they are hanging from a severed ear?!

I’ll give it a try in its white version and see how it goes. What do you think?

I’m still working on the clasp series. More “clunkers” and “aha” moments. Still learning from my mistakes. I’m not sure why I find these things such a struggle, but I do. In the midst of working on one thing, I’ll get an idea for something else. I was working on a series of metal clay earring components with embedded wires, (the earring above features two of them), and I thought, “Why not embed shorter 20 gauge wire to create ear posts, and avoid   soldering?”  With the two hour, 1650º  firing, the posts are fixed well in place. Most likely it is a stronger bond than solder.  After the earrings are fired, I cut the end of the wire to the length I want, and smooth it with a cup burr. Voila! Ear post! And no torch necessary.

These earrings feature a different design on each side, so they are reversible.  This pair will go up on Etsy, but I’m making another pair for myself as soon as I come home from my day off the island tomorrow.


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