The Moment is Now

I spend so much time thinking about what next that I often don't notice what I am doing at the moment. I am working on relaxing my mind so I can be open to the flow. Seems like when I am creating something the hours in my studio fly by.

My creative process, great learning resources, and ways to help the planet by repurposing are the theme of this blog. You are about to enter "the world according to Jan." Hope you find it a-musing.

Monday, October 29, 2012

How to make a necklace display

I wanted some displays I could use for a number of necklaces.  In addition, I wanted to be able to store them without having to remove the necklaces and  they had to fit in my plastic tote.

I went to the local hardware store and bought 5 feet of 4 inch drain pipe, three end caps and three knock out caps.  The end caps were over 7 dollars a piece and the knock out caps which I found later at Home Depot  were only 38 cents.  So if you want to save money you can buy the knock out caps for each end.  However, the end caps do add some weight to the bottom of the display.  I have also placed a bean bag inside for more weight.

The pipe was cut into length with a chop saw, but any hand saw would do the job as well. I wanted mine stepped so they were cut 22,20, 18 inches.  The necklaces displayed are on the shortest one. For foam I used a carpet pad which I also purchased at the hardware store.I

First end of pad duct taped to pipe.
My initial thought was to use Contact Cement to glue the carpet pad onto the drainpipe.  However , the carpet pad was pretty stiff so I decided to just use good old duct tape instead.  I rolled the pad around the pipe and cut it to fit.   With the thickness of my carpet pad it turned out to be 17 and a half inches. I then rolled the pipe onto the pad and duct taped the other end..  Not all that attractive, but it is going to be totally covered up by the velvet.

Old velvet curtain that I used in my booth for a number of years came in handy to make a cover for the tube.  The velvet was very slick on the back and also had some stretch to it so it worked perfectly.  After I made the tube, I pulled it over the pipe with foam.  I put some glue along the bottom and top of the foam to hold the velvet.  I cut the velvet long and also tucked it down behind the foam at the top so there was a nice edge.  I wanted the tops to open because I plan on having them double as storage for other jewelry. 

Measuring length and width needed.
Sewing the tube on my old singer sewing  machine

I wasn't happy with the contrast between the white knock out caps and the velvet.  I considered gluing velvet on the caps, but I had run out of glue and just so happened to have some purple spray paint.  So I sprayed some paint on the white tops and called it good enough for now. Might have made another decision if I lived in town, but I live in the back woods and wasn't willing to drive 15 miles to buy glue.

 I used the couple of feet of foam I had left into bracelet displays.  Again I used duct tape and made them into an oval shape.  My bracelets are oval , not round like the bracelet displays I have so they never look quite right on them.  Really look lots better on the oval displays.  Hope this gives you an idea of a way to make a display for yourself.  Love to hear about displays you have made. 

Three displays should hold 20 pieces all together

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Shade is the Secret to a Nice Pond

I love sitting by my pond and was not a happy when it turned totally green this summer.   I have other ponds around the property that require a cleaning now and then but this one requires continual maintenance.  The difference is  direct sunlight. 

 Last spring we had a freak snow storm and lost a huge oak tree. You can see it on our house.  When the summer rolled around the pond was getting hit with direct sunlight during the heat of the day.  After a month or so of this the water was a nice green color.  You could only see the fish when they were on the surface. Time to get on line and see what was happening with my pond. Here's what I learned:

The secret to a nice pond is shade plants.   Here's the same view of the pond now that I have added shade plants.  I dropped one in the pond and added some around the edge to give it more shade.  I like water lilies because they give you shade in the summer when you need it and die back during the winter months.

However, the plants alone did not clear up the water.  I purchased some enzymes to help maintain the water quality.  While the product said it would take a month, my water cleared up in two weeks. 

In addition, I cut back on the feeding of my fish.  I probably have too many fish for the size of my pond. Thanks to the blue heron last year I only have half as many goldfish as I started with, but they are growing which means they are taking up more space in the pond.  If you have expensive koi and don't want a  heron in your pond, the statue does work.  

In a nutshell, the secret to a good clean pond is shade, a working biofilter, probiotics, and limiting the amount of fish.  By clicking on the links I have provided you can learn more about all of this for yourself. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Being Transformed in the Shiva Shop

 Welcome to the land of Jan E O Jewelry deep in the woods in the Oregon Coast range.  I know the journey was long and dusty so have a seat by the pond while I get you a glass of iced tea. Hope you like dogs because there are a couple that love the Shiva shop and are waiting on the trail to take you there.  So sit here for a minute and wait by the water and let the last two miles of dirt road slip away.  You can contemplate the fish or just listen to the sounds of the water. You might even want to look at the crazy yard art I made to cover up where the satellite dish was.  A few Goodwill finds and a broken rake have been transformed into something else.

Hopefully you are refreshed now, because the dogs are ready to take you the rest of the way to the studio.   Here's the old brick path leading the way..  I am constantly having to fight back the wilderness to keep this path clear.  We are headed towards that red door you see up the path.  On the top of the studio is a statue of Shiva in a Ring of Fire.  Shiva transforms and in my studio I transform wire, stones, tin, and other found objects into jewelry.  This shop is made out of items we recycled from somewhere else.  The screen door came from my childhood home and is hundred years old.  This door was once on a friend's house.  You can see where we patched the mail slot.  I added some metal to dress it up.  Think you are getting the picture that I like to reuse. So please come on in and visit the inside.  I have made a few changes since last year.
Here are a few shots of what you might notice inside my studio. First view as you step inside is my desk for pricing and shelves.  The tins all hold different baubles, broken jewelry, rocks, shells, tins, and other found objects I hope to transform into jewelry. Now on the other side of the studio by the  door there is a ton of stuff stored.  I have most of my power tools stored on this cart as well as my kiln for working with metal clay. While I love that the studio is full of windows it makes storing things difficult and I have finally just decided it is okay to have shelves in front of windows. Most of the work happens on my eight foot long bench.  Like everywhere else it is crammed with tools  and objects to be made into something.  A friend commented that he had never seen so many pliers in one place before.  His wife said, " I bet she uses them all." and she was totally right.  Of course, I do have my favorites, but there really is a right tool for every job and it helps if you have it. Here I'll let you check it out for yourself.  
                                                                                  Now the exciting new addition is another bench for the metal working.  So I no longer have to move all the bead supplies away to cut and pound on metal.   I even bought a rolling mill which is really exciting to use.   My husband has a sawmill so he made me this bench out of wood he milled himself.  You can see it is a really thick sturdy bench and I really love having it.  I seem to always leave the pliers I need on the other side of the room, so I guess I will need to get more of them or attach them to the bench with a wire like the pens at the bank.   The dogs sleep under the bench and while they aren't happy about all the pounding overhead it keeps them out of the way and makes more room for me in this very small shop.  If you read my blog last year you might remember that  I have lots of little cabins all over the property so I can move equipment I don't use that often like the tumbler into one of them.  
The sun streaming through the window makes it difficult to see, so here is a close up of what I am currently working on .  These are earrings made out of some of those tins I was talking about earlier.   Well that gives you a flavor of my little studio in the woods.  Like I said last year, I actually try to be outside as much as possible in the summer so I love to take things outside to work on them.  This blog is being written at the little table where we stopped to have tea.  Thanks for stopping by and can't wait to visit the rest of the studios in this blog hop.  Just click on the link below to be taken to the land where beauty is created.  .

Monday, June 25, 2012

Tips from How To Steal Like An Artist

I just finished this great little book by Austin Kleon called How To Steal Like An Artist.  This little read will put aside any worries you might have about someone copying your work or you copying another artist.    In fact, copying is the way we learn.  We all learned to write by copying, yet everyone has a unique handwriting style.  When learning a skill, it is important to copy at first.  Check out as many books as possible, copy pictures from the internet, look at other people's works and try to figure out how they made it. "Art is Theft" according to Picasso, so steal from as many artists as you can.   If you are like most creative people , you will bore with imitating other people's work and will very shortly develop your own style.  Transforming others work into something that is truly your own is how you add to the world. Thanks Kleon for that wonderful thought. 

My design
Gailavira Tutorial
Here's a little example, the red pendant I made from a tutorial I purchased from Gailavira .  While the wire wrapping was following the tutorial, I had to modify it because I did not have a round cabochon.  Nonetheless, it was from a pattern and I made a few of them with this basic design.  Soon I had learned the swirling technique and was ready to transform it into my own design.  Incorporating my basket making skills with this newly learned technique I started making a more freeform pendant. You can see the influence of the tutorial but the pendant is definitely not the same.  In fact, I could not repeat the pattern of the turquoise pendant because I just weaved and wrapped an added beads as I worked. Winging it rather than precision fits my personality.  

While there are many insights and great tips in this book, I also really like the chapter "The Secret: Do Good Work and Share it with People."  Kleon recommends sharing tips with other people which I totally respect.  I love it when I talk to other vendors at shows and they give me a tip.  I have a friend who has been a silver smith for thirty years, is amazingly talented and she is a valuable resource to me.  One afternoon, she was lamenting about having to polish up all this jewelry for a show.  Turns out she didn't know about using a rock tumbler with stainless steel shot to polish her silver.  I told her about it and was able to save her hours.  I learned the tumbler technique for my work with Art Clay and I use the thing constantly.  I sometimes tumble items instead of filing them because it works and filing is not my forte'. This also frees me up to work on something else.

The insights in this little book are many so you really should check it out.  Read it, collect ideas, and then go make stuff. 


Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Nowhere Land of Lost Items

Necklace that is currently being worn by Mrs. Selby
Ever wondered where all the paper clips and rubber bands end up?   When I was young I loved the book The Borrowers.  Little people who live in your house and take items for their own use.  If I could find the Borrower's hiding hole,  I could quit searching for this necklace. I photographed it to list on the web and then it disappeared.  All my other items made it back to my  shop no problem. 

When I was little my grandmother would blame her neighbor for items she misplaced.   She would go to get a can of tuna for lunch and when it was gone would say "That Mrs. Selby has been over here again."  Mrs. Selby was her neighbor, a working woman, and I don't think I ever saw her at home. I remember wondering why my grandmother didn't call the police if her neighbor was coming in her house.

Well, I can tell you even though I live a couple hundred miles away , "Mrs. Selby"  manages to make it down here and steal from me as well.  So far an axe has gone missing from the front porch, numerous shovels, my clippers, earrings galore, and now this necklace.  Sometimes Mrs. Selby even sneaks back and puts what I am looking for right in plain sight.

Really, why is it you can look for something and not see it .  I like to think it bleeps over into another dimension  for a while then comes back into the 3rd Dimension.  In the meantime, I made another Om Rock necklace to list.  This time it didn't leave my shop when I was taking pictures.  Hopefully someday the original necklace will bleep back into my shop. Or better yet, someone will admire "Mrs. Selby's" necklace and she will refer them to my site.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Gifting Jordin Sparks: A Celebrity Design Challenge

Jordin Sparks Style
A few months ago I was accepted as a member of The Artisan Group otherwise known as TAG.  TAG is a group of artists that take part in the gifting of celebrities at events like the Oscars and The Primetime Emmys.

After finding out that my name had been drawn for the Jordin Sparks gifting, the fun began.  When I volunteered to throw my hat in the ring, I imagined I would be sending  Jordin one of the many gorgeous necklaces I have in stock.  After looking through hundreds of photos on line, it didn't look like Jordin was really a necklace sort of girl.  When she did have a necklace on, it definitely wasn't my big funky organic "hey look at me." style. 

The good news was Jordin seemed to wear big earrings, a plus for me, and lots of bracelets.  Since I have seven bracelets on at all times and a number of holes in my head (well actually my ears), I could handle the bracelet and earrings as a style.  Now that I had decided what I was going to give as a gift I needed to come up with a design.  

I tend to be most creative when there is a deadline, but I can't obsess or all is lost.  One day after reviewing the deadline and looking at more pictures of Jordin, I decided to go for a run.  Seems like the best ideas come to me when I am either running or taking a shower.  When I am totally in the moment and letting the creative energies of the universe flow, the idea will come or so it seems.  So, after the run and shower I went into the Shiva shop and decided to transform some metals into a bracelet for Jordin.

I wanted the bracelet to be big, organic, and contain a mixture of metals.  My work style is to just start cutting out metals and see what comes.  The first bracelet I made was way too big and the riveting wasn't the best. It fit my husband, but was going to fall off of a woman.   By that time I had decided I wanted the earrings similar to the ones in the picture but with the same metals as the bracelet.  I sent pictures of the prototypes off to TAG, got the go ahead and moved onto making Jordin's gift.

Since I usually use eyelets and not rivets,  I got on the internet to once again review riveting.  Seemed my issue was that my holes were too large.  The rivet needed to be a tight squeeze.  Okay, I could handle that.  Also I needed to cut the rivet a bit smaller before I started hammering the back of it.  What a difference the size of hole and length of rivet made.  I finished up the bracelet in no time compared to the first one I made. Oh yeah, I measured this time and made it smaller so it would actually fit.

Now I was onto the matching earrings.   Since I had this design before I thought it would be a snap, but I did manage to have some difficulty getting the wire wrap around the edge to match.  After a few tries, I decided I was being a fanatic and they were close enough.  I also remembered why I don't make these earrings as a production piece.
The final product was packaged and mailed.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Take the Pain out of Tax Day - Sign up to Win OM Rock Pendant

I love the beach.  Whenever I go I end up with a pocket full of rocks.  Now I can turn them into jewelry.  The Om Rock Cairn Pendant is fashioned after trail markers.  I like to think of them as connecting you to the planet and helping mark the correct direction in life.

Personally, I spend more time dreading filling out my tax forms than it actually takes to fill them out.  Because it is such a pain, I have once again decided to have a tax day giveaway.  You will be entering to win one of the rock cairn pendants.  You can check all the different variety of cairns by clicking on either my Etsy or Artfire shops you see over on the right. 

You can earn up to six entry points through Raffelcopter.  The more the merrier. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, March 9, 2012

Painting with Fire- Torching a Patina on Copper

Fire can transform a piece of copper into a rainbow of color.  Loving to work with fire, I have numerous torches.  For my birthday I bought a Blazer butane microtorch to use in soldering.  It is a great little torch because you can add oxygen to the flame to get the right amount of heat.  Also nice that it starts with pushing a button rather than a lighter.  Any torch will work  however.

Variations in color
Some people make a piece of jewelry then heat it with the torch to get the look they want.  I chose to patina an entire sheet because I want to make earrings out of it and I want them to look similar.  Heat patina is tricky because you don't really know the results until you remove the heat.  The metal changes first from gold, to orange, then reddish, green, blues and finally black.  You can see all the different possibilities here in this photo.

I put the piece of metal on a tripod and heated it from underneath moving the torch around so as not to overheat the metal.  When a color I liked magically appeared on the surface I removed the heat.  If you hold the torch without moving it you get something that looks like this.  The back of the metal is black because  it got really hot, but I think this will make a nice earring.  I just let the sheet of copper cool naturally so I could watch the colors emerge and decide it I wanted to hit it again with heat.

Getting the patina to stay can be an issue because the lacquers will muddy the colors and dull the finish.  Here is a forum where people suggest different products but I am just going to let nature take its course and see what happens.  I'll post some jewelry I make out of this sheet and let you know about finishes as I experiment further.  I have read that you can also patina in an oven but that wouldn't be nearly as much fun.

If you got questions, leave me a comment and I'll do my best.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Jewelry Tutorials: I Never Could Follow Directions

This lovely turquoise pendant by Deborah Gray-Wurz was featured in Step by Step Wire Jewelry December-January issue this year. She was inspired by a Native American piece. I had some lovely lampwork beads a friend made I wanted to show case so I decided to give the tutorial a try.

Here's my problem or perhaps my gift, I am not really good at copying.  In fact, I got a poor grade in penmanship because I wanted to make the letters "my way" not like the ones on the board.   Give me a recipe for a great meal and I will alter it to fit the spices and food I have on hand. I made the best fudge ever this year at Christmas and it will never be repeated which is the downside of winging it.

I teach jewelry classes and students have asked me if I have specific directions for the projects.  The answer would be "No."  In fact, I could never write a jewelry tutorial for others because I don't measure wire except with body parts.  You know about as long as your thumb, length of your hand, that magical yard which is from your nose to the end of your arm.

So with the best of intentions, I decided to follow the tutorial precisely the first time.  I carefully measured each wire, flattened and filed and did my best.  But guess what?  I didn't like it when I got finished.The matching silver beads were too plain so I changed them out.   It also didn't have the kinda swirly flair I like in a piece.  So I started messing with it. I continued to wire weave and twist the ends of the piece so it looked less like a horse shoe and more like a sea creature.

Another jewelry artist once said to me that she didn't worry about people copying her designs because everyone's personality comes out in their work.  I think she may be right about that.  Even when I am following a tutorial, I still find the need to mess with it.  The upside is no two pieces are ever exactly alike.  The downside is I will never be able to make that award winning fudge again.