A chronicle of the meanderings, false starts (which in retrospect, while sort of embarrassing turned out to be highly instructive), epiphanies, selective apathy (still evolving), wild mood swings, opinions (subject to frequent change), and life lessons of an inveterate dabbler (and her latest dabblings).

Friday, December 30, 2011

Biting the Bullet

Goodness, I'm spastic tonight. Disregard any indecipherable blurb you might have just seen. Not sure what I did.

Anyway, the necklace below came about because I made myself do it. More and more I find myself not wanting to make anything. I enjoy cutting out metal and pounding it and turning it into things, but the process of incorporating it into an actual piece of jewelry seems more and more tiring. I suppose it's a combination of getting older, day job burnout, and letting my physical fitness slide. And vegetating doesn't make me particularly happy so I should probably just suck it up and and put something together. It's not like I don't have a list.

This was one of the flower clasps I made a couple months ago, this one with a double flower.

I knew I wanted to do something in blue with this clasp, and started out with some cornflower blue recycled glass from Happy Mango Beads. It just wasn't working for me so I dug around in the "Blue Gemstones" bucket and re-found this denim blue sponge coral. I was originally going to use some silk ribbon from Color Kissed Silk in "Ocean Pearl" (kind of pale denim and a sandy, pale yellow) but I eventually decided I didn't like that, although I wanted to keep the denim blue and butter scheme. I dug around in my lampwork stash for beads the same size as the coral and found these large lampwork roundels in kind of a toasted marshmallow color. They're by Pat at Being Beads. They're all knotted onto light denim blue Irish waxed linen cord from White Clover Kiln. In lieu of the ribbon, I decided to use some of my new copper ball chain from Chain Gallery, with the very handy little ball chain connectors they sell. Very excited to find that the holes in the connectors are big enough for a decently sturdy gauge of wire. I think I got some 18 gauge through there.

I have a whole bag of finished charms, focals and clasps that I want to turn into finished jewelry but it seems I prefer to lie around. Working fewer hours at my day job might help, but then I'd probably just lie around more. I need a personal jewelry trainer. A Jillian Michaels to come yell at me when I start to nod off on the couch. Speaking of which, time for bed!

P.S. I made these other things too:

Antique copper cocoons (based on a design by Kharisma Ryantori of Popnicute) and clear AB finish Czech glass teardrops:

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Raffle Fundraiser for Sparrow Salvage

Fanciful Devices is raising some cash for Sparrow Salvage, who recently lost her mother in a terrible car crash, and is herself in hospital with serious injuries. This stunning and mysterious choker is up for grabs! 
 Click HERE to go to Fanciful Devices' blog, where you can donate and enter the raffle.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Artists Helping Artists Winning Bid

Thank you to everyone who came out to bid on the silent auction items in this fundraiser! It was a resounding success! The winning bid on the two pair of earrings came from:


Barbara Bechtel will be sending you a PayPal invoice via email--keep a lookout!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Artists Helping Artists Update

Hey everybody! We have some new artists joining the silent auction!

Erin's and Courtney's auctions have started, and Kerry's will start later today. Swing by and check out the items for auction! Not too late for Christmas gifts, and all proceeds go toward a very worthy cause.
Additionally, Erin Prais-Hintz and Kristi Bowman-Gruel are hosting second auctions, of a lovely winter-themed bracelet created by Regina Santerre of Sundance Gems, and a fabulous pair of earrings by Janet Miller (Pink Poppy Studio) made from a pair of Kristi's bronze charms. Stop by and bid!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Pot Sweetens! Artists Helping Artists

I am adding to the silent auction pot here at The Cerebral Dilettante:
These gorgeous sterling and fine silver earrings by Susan Fincher of Libellula Jewelry are now available for bidding, together with my copper jellyfish earrings! Susan was eager to join in as a partner in this Artists Helping Artists auction, and offers her support and warmest regards.

Here are some details about these lovely earrings:
  • torch-balled sterling silver ear wires
  • hammered, fused fine silver circular links
  • (PMC) paisley fine silver stars
  • torch-balled sterling silver headpins w/Czech glass beads
Everything but the Czech glass beads were handmade by Susan. The current bid from the previous post was $40--as those of you know who make jewelry, sterling silver is very valuable right now! By bettering that bid, you could be the proud (and crazy hot) owner of both pairs of earrings. A steal by any definition! These earrings are only available together, by bettering the previous high bid.

Would you like to be the winning bidder for BOTH pairs of earrings, from this post and the previous post? New bidders will be eligible, and previous bidders can increase their bid to be eligible for both pairs! Please, no bids on individual pairs; this fire-and-ice duo stays together! Please make your bid or rebid on the previous post. 

Bidding closes midnight, Sunday December 11. Thanks to Susan!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Artists Helping Artists

Artists Helping Artists Silent Auction

Several artists in the blog community have decided to band together to help a fellow artist in need.  The earrings below, currently featured at Earrings Everyday, are available here today by silent auction, as part of an "Artists Helping Artists" fundraiser.  

These earrings feature three each of my textured copper beadcaps, in graduated sizes, antiqued and tumbled to a high shine. They're stacked atop each other, with little amber foil Czech glass cone beads peeking from the bottom, on my hand-forged copper headpins. They hang from a pair of my handmade earwires. All the copper in these earrings, including the earwires, have been sealed in a protective lacquer to preserve patina and shine and guard against sensitivity. They're my interpretation (although more polite and less gelatinous) of a graceful, golden jellyfish!

The starting bid for these earrings is $18.00 (a steal!).  International participants welcome! Shipping costs will be included in the winning bid amount. Auction closes Sunday, December 11 at midnight.

Would you like to be the winning bidder?

Please leave a comment along with your bid. If you are the winning bidder, you will receive an invoice after the close of the auction. There must be a way to contact you. If you have email preferences turned off in your profile, please leave your email.

Many people are auctioning items to help out! Please visit these the other artists below and place your bid!

List of participants:

Feel free to return and bid again!

Happy bidding!


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Challenge of Color Blog Hop

This is the second color challenge I've done--the first one was with Erin too! I don't think I've ever done any other challenges. There's something about the way Erin structures this one that doesn't tweak my inner rebel. I'm OK with it.

I've been intrigued by purple lately, and wanted to do something in the purple family. My palette was "Mineral Brights" (I read the word "brights" and groaned inwardly, but it was all right after all):

I wanted to use brass in it, rather than silver, and I started with that and some heavy gauge leather cord that got me to the cafe au lait color.
Then I hauled out virtually every bead I own in shades of violet, periwinkle and putty. I strung and restrung and strung again. Changed my mind about a pendant twice. And this is what I finally settled on last night:

Indonesian glass beads in ivory and periwinkle (I interpreted that center color as more blue than gray, mainly because I don't really have any gray beads, so I fudged on that one just a little) from Happy Mango Beads, matte glass tile beads in violet, glass seed beads in a deeper violet, little wooden spacers, tiny lilac seed beads, and a brass-over-pewter Ethiopian Coptic cross, also from Happy Mango Beads. (I actually had some other small glass tile beads that were a closer match to that center color, but I just couldn't make them work.) Just didn't have anything in that deep indigo, so I fudged on that too.

This will eventually be for sale in my Etsy shop, probably tonight or tomorrow evening.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

They Grow Up So Fast

It seems like one moment they're just lying there, all inchoate and full of possibilities, and the next moment they're all dolled up and hanging off the neck of some exotically gorgeous model at a glitzy party. Sigh. You want to keep them all to yourself forever, but they have to grow up eventually.

My Baby All Grown Up
And I imagine, or at least I hope, that my coppery little bundle of joy won't be under our roof much longer. It will be winging its way across the country somewhere, destined for romance and excitement. With its white stick pearls, garnets, periwinkle glass and deerskin leather to remind it of Mama.

I'm not even going to tell you how long I was in labor. It seemed like forever. Like two whole days. But it was probably more like two half-days. Because I did other stuff yesterday too, and it's not even 2:00 yet today and I finished it a couple hours ago.

Exotically Gorgeous Model
I suppose I should get dressed. It's almost 2:00.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Hearts and Flowers

I haven't made bracelets in a long time. Here are a couple I made yesterday and today. The one above features one my flower clasps, with pearls, turquoise lampwork spacers by Meital, and some kind of mystery stone I can't remember the name of. I'm guessing it's a jasper (if anybody recognizes it, let me know! It has a lot of turquoise veining in it, along with the brick red and cream.)

For the one below, I started out with my double-sided heart charm and stared at it for a long time. Slept on it (not literally). And this is what I had decided when I woke up.
A little handful of ceramic beads by Gaea Cannady (that I have of course been hoarding forever), a couple of Czech glass beads in lilac, and a smaller copper-plated pewter heart lock charm. I love the combination of matte and shiny finish beads in Gaea's bundles, I love to put them together. I used one of my hook and eye clasps (kind of experimenting there) for it, and a bunch of my tiny beadcaps.

Here's the other side of the charm:
I'm in love with rivets. Functional AND decorative!

I'm pretty excited that it's only Saturday. Hopefully the rest of the weekend will be productive. Really hoping that the day job will slow down like I think it will and I can take a few days here and there to add some things to the shop. I've been so focused on trying to figure out how to make things from metal that I'm out of practice actually putting a whole piece of jewelry together.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Hearts and Rivets: They Go Together

I've been wanting to do some riveted heart pendants for some time. Today I got busy. I LOVE doing these hearts because I don't have to use my saw on them! I hate sawing. I cut them out entirely with my metal shears--my straight cut and my left curve shears. I cleaned up the little tooth marks from the shears with fine grit sandpaper, they came right out. Voila! No sawing. I love the sort of blocky edges I get with the shears--the hammering with the texture sheets then softens that out a bit.

I layered these hearts using rivets (actually, copper tacks from the hardware store!), and then created a loop by attaching a wire figure-8 with the rivet. (I learned that from a Sharilyn Miller DVD, Ethnic Style Jewelry--lots of handy stuff!)

On a couple of them, I only used one rivet to attach both the second heart and the figure-8; on the big one, I used two rivets to attach them separately.

The smallest heart I will use as a bracelet charm--I'm always a little frustrated using one-sided charms on bracelets, because with the way bracelets move around, you see the wrong side of the charm as often as you see the front. I wanted to make double-sided charms, but you can't really do that with a single sheet and the texture sheet/hammering method, because hammering the second side takes the texture out of the first side. So I thought I would just use two separate hearts, attached with a rivet, with the figure-8 loop in between. (And now I like that "3-D" look so much, I wish I had put the figure-8 in the middle with the other two too. I think I may do that from now on.)
I also textured and antiqued some copper strips to turn my copper flowers into clasps or usable components. I just have to rivet the strips to the flowers now, and decide how to configure them.

Then I have to use them in something. That's the hard part! I'm thinking of opening a second shop for components--then YOU would have to figure out what to do with them. :-)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Ceramic Gear Links!

I recently got these super cool ceramic "gear link" rings from Karen Totten. I got them in shiny dark pomegranate and matte celadon.

I started with the pomegranate ones for earrings. I pondered and pondered. I wanted to wrap something onto them but it took me a few days to come up with the engineering.

Just listed them all grown up:

With kyanite and antiqued copper.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

From Ping Pong Paddles to Tiny Bowls

One of my metal experiments recently became earrings. The little ping-pong-paddle shaped things below

became these:
Copper bowl earrings

With micro-faceted Czech AB-finish glass beads.

One of my bail experiments also finally grew up:

Aqua terra jasper and leather

It started out a lot fussier and I just wasn't happy with it. So I scaled it way down. "Sandstone" lampwork spacers by The Spacer Shop (formerly The Spacer Queen. I guess she's come down in the world).

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Difficult Delivery

Could I have possibly taken any longer to complete this pendant? Well, probably. I guess I could have tried it with jute twine and wild hogs' teeth after I got through the rest of my stash, but I would have likely circled back around anyway to my very first instinct which was to use these wonderful, other-worldly lavender tablets by Kelley Wenzel. In sunlight, they're very distinctly lavender, but in fluorescent light they're closer to periwinkle blue. They make me think of fluorite, which does something similar (although it tends to look more green in fluorescent light).

I'm amazed at how genteel it turned out looking, just because of the floral textures I think. Overall it's fairly rustic. I tried a gazillion different "fringes" at the bottom (and wasted a lot of headpins in the process), and finally (thanks to a post by Mary Jane Dodd where she showed some tubing she had etched), it occurred to me to cut up some of the copper tubing I had (which I had purchased thinking to make tube rivets with it but I think the walls are too thick) to make tube beads. I textured them gently with my Fretz hammer. I tried a bunch of different kinds of chain on there too, and this rollo chain seemed the best match. It sort of reminds me of a long, hippie shoulder bag, of the herb-gathering (lavender, perhaps?) variety, made out of an old quilt. But posher.

Lavender Hippie Talisman

I think I rather like it long, although it would be striking worn shorter:

Well, all this discussion has given me an idea. I have to go find my wild hogs' teeth now. I know I probably have some somewhere.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Earrings Everyday

Art Bead Scene's founder, Heather Powers, is starting a new blog just for earrings, called "Earrings Everyday."  There will be 7 additional, regular contributors, including Lorelei Hill Eurto, Marie Noel Voyer-Cramp, Kristi Bowman-Gruel, Erin Prais-Hintz, Kristy Carroll Abner, and--SERIOUSLY? FOR REALS? WELL I'M SURE THERE'S BEEN SOME MISTAKE AND I'LL BE NOTIFIED SHORTLY -- Me!

I was cruising blogs recently and stopped by ABS on just the right day, and read the post about the new earring blog. I thought it was a great idea--I'm always scouting for earring inspiration. I read the invitation to submit yourself as a contributor and I thought what the heck, I'll throw my hat in the ring, and when it invariably comes to naught I can pat myself on the back for putting myself out there and continue enjoying my current level of obscurity.

But then--GET OUT--I got a convo from Heather letting me know I had been chosen as one of the new contributors. STFU!! I said to myself. (Someone else also said this to me when I told her about it. And I said USTFU! And she said LOL.) HOLY CRAP!! I said to Heather. She didn't seem to take offense. She's chill like that. (I tend to use all caps when I'm excited or incredulous.) So now I will be submitting posts twice a month with earring designs from my shop. And I have a sketchbook full of designs I've never implemented so now I'll see if they are feasible. Nothing like a deadline to help you get focused.

But now I obviously need to get a hyphen, or at least one more appellation. I'm feeling unsophisticated. Or at least some quotation marks. Keirsten "Pattycake" Giles. Keirsten "Cougar-licious" Giles. Keirsten Lee-Giles (that's my middle name, makes me feel like I'm in trouble). Or I could take a cue from the former United Nations Secretary General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali and call myself Keirsten Keirsten-Giles. Feedback?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Interim Rivet Report

My recently riveted and stamped items have had their sulfur bath and been tumbled for hours and hours. They didn't get as glossy as they usually do (WTH?) so I burnished them by hand with my new burnishing tool.

Looks wicked, doesn't it? Like a dental pick for Clydesdales.

Here is my pendant focal rivet project antiqued and ready to be tarted up:

I decided to lay a piece of 18 gauge wire in the little channel I made instead of leaving it. I wanted the back to look better so I balled the ends and hammered them before squeezing it tight on there. The wire was really soft from heating so it really clamped on there nicely. It sort of looks like a hinge to me on the front. Or some piping on a duvet cover. And now I will agonize, probably for days, over what to do with it. It will hang from three heavy gauge jump rings, and I might hang something from each one as well. Or just the middle one. Then decisions will have to be made about what to hang from the bottom. That will cause me sleepless nights. I'll have to take a pill. And then of course how to do the necklace portion. Knotting? Stringing? Wire links? Chain? Things will be assembled and disassembled. There may be weeping. It must be Triple Extra Special.

The flowers, destined for necklaces and bracelets, and the ping pong paddles for earrings:

And then my little earring bars and rings:
There will be more agonizing with these, of course. Except for the textured flower and strip above because I already know what I'm going to do with that. Of course, it might not work in which case there will be agonizing.

My boyfriend is off hunting antelope this weekend so I am a bachelorette.  This means 80s music on the stereo (New Order and Simple Minds, over and over and over and over and over again), no leg shaving, probably no bathing until tomorrow (pesky day job, they expect a certain level of hygiene), unrestrained ADD-like behavior (I'm sawing a board while I'm cooking eggs except for when I take a break to look up "gulag" in the dictionary because now that I think about it I'm not really sure what it means), tools and copper tacks in the middle of the floor (which will probably later lead to cussing), and sleeping with my 27-year-old college teddy bear (yes I'm that old). You thought I was going to say college boy, didn't you? Although that would be kind of old for a college boy. Graduate student then. Doctoral candidate.  In something interesting but economically useless like sociology. There's probably not that many of those around here since we have no university. I think I prefer my antelope hunter anyway. I don't think I could really be with someone who wears socks with sandals or has a beard. I hate beards.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

My First Rivet

I set out today to anneal and texture some things. (I belatedly realized that annealing my copper items before using my brass texture sheets and hammer on them would make things a little easier on the sheets because the copper would be softer. Ah well, live and learn). As I was looking for a copper flower I had cut out, I came across a rectangle I had cut out. Not sure what I had in mind when I cut it out but I decided to try to turn it into something. You can see it here:

I was going for a two-tone texture, so I used a couple different sheets, and made a border between them. (Not sure if that is going to just stay that way or not...) Because my texture sheets are getting all curled I didn't get a good impression--they don't really work well for large items. There were some holidays here and there, especially in the lower portion. So I decided to cover them up. I had another small strip of metal lying around so I textured it with a third texture and thought, well, this would be the perfect time to attempt a rivet. So I did a trial run (with the square and rectangle in the lower right--pretty, huh?) and it worked, so I plunged in. I used copper tacks from the hardware store, so it was pretty easy. (Learned that from a Sharilyn Miller video!). I put the pretty side up and only had to hammer the back. Worked great!

I'm going to rivet the large flower to the long strip of metal just above it (with a little flattened flower beadcap added--that is in the upper right corner of the picture), and use the strip to fashion a clasp. Then I have a plan involving pearls, more copper, and Swarovski crystals. (Unusual for me to use those.) It will be a necklace.

Those things that look like ping pong paddles will hopefully be earrings--I'm going to curl over those tongues of metal sticking out and make them into a bail to hang them from. But first, the liver of sulfur and then lots of tumbling.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I Can't Stay Away From Bars

I confess. Bars just suck me right in. I can't walk by a bar without stopping. When I'm working a bar I just feel so cool and sophisticated, you know? And don't tell anyone, but I have a bar in my car too. Well, actually four bars. Two matching pairs to be exact.

Wait, what?

Yes, you heard me. I'm going through my BAR phase!! Don't you just love a rich, burnished copper bar? I know I do. I was thinking "Cosmopolitan" with this one:

Cosmopolitans on a Copper Bar
But then I was in a mood for something with Blue Curacao (with a side of Won Ton--I'm all about fusion cuisine):
Blue Lagoon with Won Ton
Tonight I'm in the mood for Grand Marnier. Or maybe Tequila Sunrise. Or both. Mixed together. We'll see what happens with that...

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Sea Green Addiction

Whenever I work in copper, which seems to be most of the time anymore, I seem to end up combining it with some shade of blue green--I especially love antiqued copper with pale celadon green.

I recently got my first set of charms from Kristi Bowman-Gruel of Dreamsome on Etsy--I couldn't resist the paisley hearts! I wasn't sure how I would use them, but when I started going through my beads, I really loved them with pale, transparent green. You sure don't need to do much with these charms--actually you want them to have center stage!--so I kept it fairly simple:

My pictures don't show it very well, but they have a very luxurious shine to them. Glossy!

The lady who bought them inquired whether I would be making a coordinating pendant with the focal I also bought from Kristi. Well, I certainly can, I said! It just so happened I had been recently inspired by some designs in Fanciful Devices' Etsy shop--she has some dramatic, curved, kind of yoke things I guess you could call them, such as with this piece. My style isn't so rustic, but I thought a curved portion with lampwork and what have you on it might work nicely with Kristi's pendant. I was only able to use two of the remaining lampwork I had, as the rest of the lot was irregularly sized and this needed to be symmetrical. After spending what seemed like a half hour digging in my tub of copper beads, these curved tube beads seemed to be the thing:

Hearts in the Grass

It feels sort of Egyptian to me. I would like to use this same technique with other pendants--I'm thinking maybe some of my gemstone pendants. I'm going to try something with an aqua terra jasper (sigh. sea green.) oval pendant I have if I can come up with an interesting bail. I have a "thought experiment" in the works for that.

The two pair of earrings below were a prelude to my sea green binge. The earrings directly below include some of my own beadcaps, some copper plated pewter "heart lock" charms from Monsterslayer, recycled glass from Africa via Happy Mango Beads, and some amazonite.

Heart of the Sea

These earrings below are stamped washers and glass tile beads (aqua, of course) fastened on with a bird's nest technique.

Sea Flowers
(What's with me and this "sea" thing? I don't even like water.)

This piece below is my outlier. Around this time, when I start thinking about how close winter is (blech!), I do up something with silver pearls. I made this one ALL silver.

Celtic Winter

(Those silver pearls are so hard to photograph.) Pewter pendant and pewter connector rings from Happy Mango Beads; smaller silver-plated pewter Celtic knot bead from Fusion Beads; clear quartz ovals from Fire Mountain Gems; pewter dotted cubes and "deco" cubes from Monsterslayer; and the pearls are from here and there (Ebay and local stores).

In other news, I should have a new laptop arriving next week. It's my first self-owned laptop--I had one for work once and loved it. My aged Dell desktop unit recently had a meltdown, and the replacement cheap-ass graphics card makes it painfully slow. Rather than pour more money into the old geezer I figured it was time to get a new one. I wanted a laptop so we could make better use of the space in our house (my computer desk is monstrous), and so I wouldn't have to work in the room with the blocked heat vent in the winter. (I sit on a heating pad when I'm in here. Serves me right for getting a leather chair. It's like sitting on a toilet seat.) The rest of the bulky and non-functional furniture is also going bye-bye, to be replaced with things that have accessible storage. We're going lean. If it was spring I'd probably hack all my plants back too but for now they're safe. And if winter wasn't coming I might even cut my hair short, but my neck would get cold. (I probably won't cut it short in the spring either, though, because I'd look like a Monchichi.)