My True Colors

I’ve decided that it’s time to redo my powder room and master bedroom.  I’ve been wanting to paint the bedroom for a while while but could not decide on the paint color.  I  finally settled on Special Gray by Sherwin Williams.  I needed something that went with the purple headboard  I painted on the wall years ago.  People thought I was insane to paint a headboard on my wall back then.  Now, I am happy to say,  the Internet is loaded with images and ideas for painting a headboard on the wall.   Those who came to scoff stayed to paint.

I have started prepping the powder room for painting.  I’ve selected Positive Red for the walls and Gulfstream for the trim and the funky ornate framed mirror that I found at a thrift shop.  I’ll post pictures if I ever finish.  In the meantime, here are some pictures of some unconventional paint jobs in my house.

 

headboard

 

My insanity is not limited to headboards.    I went through a funky painted furniture stage.  This is my husband’s nightstand.  He said he quit drinking because he was afraid of waking up one morning with a hangover and seeing it first thing.

nightstand

And this is the broken mirror mirror that goes with it.

brokenmirrormirror

These are some shots of the upstairs hallway.   I made the built-in bookcase on the left  from an old wooden ladder and paneling.    Necessity is a mother.

This is the kitchen door and the third floor dormer.  I painted clouds on the dormer walls because it’s the highest room in the house.

frontdoorwithpic bottomright

This is the front door.  Yes, that’s a picture frame in the right hand corner. Here’s the story behind that:   My husband  threw a shoe at the door during a rather heated discussion we were having.  The shoe left the perfect image of a shoe on the then white door. We ceased our donnybrook to admire the image. Better than a marriage counselor.  When I painted the door, I put a frame around the image and dated it to preserve the memory.  My Stepson noted that the image resembles George Bernard Shaw from a certain angle.  And so it does.

 

These images show a counter that I tiled and a wall of empty frames in the living room.  The counter mosaic consists of cut up scrap stained glass, broken dishes, and pottery.  Most of the frames are street finds or flea market purchases.

Boris

Boris  likes to hang out in the hallway so I guess he approves.

A Terrarium Class and One Big Fish

I  made a terrarium!  It is currently happily situated in my kitchen out of the reach of curious paws (Read Boris) and I am enjoying having a little greenery around me.  I used to have quite a few plants before Plumpton went on a feline scratch and fern mission.  I made my terrarium at a class that crafter and plant expert Masha Zelen taught at the Woodstock Trading Company in Cherry Hill, NJ (you know, the purple building with two antique hearses parked out front.)

Masha makes terrariums and fills them with succulent plants, cute little polymer clay Gnomes and toadstools.  If you like, she can make you a terrarium or teach you how to make your own.  Woodstock owner Gladys Glass was so taken with Masha’s work that she invited her to teach a class for Woodstock’s customers.  Masha showed up on class day  loaded with glass containers, potting soil, assorted pebbles glass chunks and toad stools and a group of  gnomes clamoring  to be assigned to terrariums.  We got to work as she took us through the steps of selecting plants and accessories and making our own little gnome and toadstool habitats.

 

07.Masha

Masha explaining how to care for a terrarium

 

06.Gnomes

The Gnomes were very well behaved considering how eager they were to be assigned to a terrarium.

 

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Our finished terrariums.  Don’t they look great?  If your are interested in learning how to make your own terrarium or hosting a class, go to Masha’s Facebook page, Made By Masha,  for more information and her contact information.

Aside from offering classic rock and roll memorabilia, beads, vintage posters and every type of incense this side of The Land of Frankencense, Woodstock hosts rock concerts on its lawn, drum circles, a yearly Maypole celebration and other family events.  Get more information on Gladys’ Facebook page, here  or follow Woodstock on Instagram.

And what about the fish, you ask?  The big fish  was exercising its fins in a huge tank as Gladys her husband and I entered a restaurant for  dinner later in the evening.  Working up an appetite no doubt.

04.Fish3

 

 

Adjustable Bangle (with Dangle!)

Adjustable Bangle with Dangle

This is a story of how I designed a new bracelet that are intended to be gifts. I love bangles and sizing is always an issue.  I know that the intended recipients are relatively small women but I didn’t feel comfortable enough to guess their hand sizes and make conventional bangles.  I decided to make something that could accommodate different sizes.

Brass1

I started out with thick brass  wire forms that I  purchased at Wolf Myrow  a few years ago.  I had originally thought they were tubes.  In fact, they were solid wire maybe 8 gauge.  I like the look of square wire so I annealed them and  squared the wire in my rolling mill.Stages of wire

This picture shows the same wire in three stages.  The top shows how it started out, the middle is after bending and the bottom is after a few passes in the rolling mill.  The wire gets  thinner and longer.  You have to be careful not to reduce it too fast or you will distort the edges.  And you also have to make sure the wire is properly annealed.  Brass wire is hard.

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After I squared the wire,  I annealed it again and shaped it around a bracelet mandrel.  I hadn’t yet decided what to do with the ends.  I ended up sawing off a few inches,

Formed Wires

Here are three bracelets with the ends sawed off.

Design Consideratons

I was considering soldering some bronze metal clay medallions that I had made earlier onto one of the ends or the middle of the bracelets, but I thought it would look wonky.  Plus if the medallion was in the middle of the bracelet, the solder would get wear from the bracelet flexing when it was put on and taken off.  So why not try making a dangle from a medallion? The brass is so hard that I made a mock up in copper to see how I liked the idea.

Copper detailI drilled a hole in a copper bracelet and fashioned a dangle from a copper metal clay medallion.  I like the bracelet and the medallion-just not together.  For one thing, the dangle didn’t move the way I liked.   I was limited in the side of the jump rings I could use because the hole in the bracelet could only accommodate 20 gauge wire.  And the medallion only had one interesting side.  That would work for a pendant, but not for a focal dangle on this bracelet.

holes drilled in center of bangles

Speaking of hole drilling,  did I mention that brass is a hard metal?  Still I was able to drill a hole in each bangle pretty easily, with patience, the right tools, and some safety precautions.

Drilling

When you drill a piece of metal, you need to tape it  securely to a sturdy piece of wood with masking tape.  As you drill, the metal and drill bit get so hot that the wood smokes.  See the  dark spots?  Those are burn marks from prior drillings. You remove metal when you drill and it scatters like dust.  I like to wear safety glasses and a dust mask when I drill like this.

Bdangle detail

I finally settled on dangles made from brass shapes I originally made for a necklace clasp I designed.  I drilled holes in them, added porcelain beads I made many years ago, and attached then to the bracelet with a jump ring that I soldered for added security.B2

The bangles have enough give to open wider when you put them on and you can close them a bit when they are around the wrist.  I rounded off the ends with a file and sanded them smooth to make the putting on and taking off as comfortable as possible.

By the time you read this,  I will be on my way to deliver them to the recipients.  Of course, I had to make one for myself, too!

Meanwhile in my Workshop

I’ve been a little scattered these past months last through months  jumping from   beading to  quilting to casting glass to polymer clay and crocheting without much focus.   I’ve also been practicing my soldering  and playing “let’s put that through the rolling mill and see what happens.” Or arranged components in different combinations to see how they look. The picture below  shows a copper spiral I put through the rolling mill,  some bent wire, and an enameled metal scrap.  I don’t think  the pieces go together, but you don’t know until you try.

Here are some  ceramic shards from my pottery days.

I used high fire white porcelain  with mason stains to color the clay.  I had previously  tumbled the the with cheap cleanser  until the surfaces were a buttery matte. A couple of years ago I took the same shards and tumbled then with the polish meant to be used in the last stage of rock tumbling. Boy was I surprised-they got glossy shiny. 
Some shards were finely crazed on the surface and I rubbed ink and shoe dye into a lot of these. I have made pendants out of some of them; you can drill holes in them the same way you drill glass.

 

Here’s my box of  of metal scraps. I should call it my magic box because whenever a need a certain piece of metal, I can find it in there. The brass pieces in the left compartment of the middle shelf are these cool fixtures of a chest of drawers. I am going to use them upside down as focal pieces in necklaces. I am still thinking about the design

Here are some bezels. The one in the foreground holds a bullseye glass cab I fused awhile ago. The curl of copper in the back (left)  is what remained when I cut a thin sheet of copper with metal shears. The metal curls up and looks so interesting. I still have to think of a way to use these.

Fold forming and patina experiments.  I think the verdigris needs to be toned down  or eliminated.  This might make for an interesting pendant.

Here I am trying to hold a piece steady for in order to solder one little thing to it.  When you solder, anything  you use to clip or bind pieces together draws the heat from your torch and makes the process more difficult.   
Bead caps are easy to make.  Just take a disc (bought or cut  with a disc cutter) make a hole in the center with a hole punch, and shape  with a dapping die and punch.
More components looking for  a home.  The white bead is polymer clay.
You enamel the bead caps after you make them.    You don’t have to use them as bead caps.  The above dangle could be an earring or an embellishment.
More enameled scraps
A few years ago, Theresa Mowery of Patina Studio suggested Miracle Gro plant food after reading one of my posts on patina experiments. It works great! But I live in an urban area where my own garden is a weed growing out of a crack in my front steps. So I got liquid plant food that has similar ingredients to Miracle Gro ( just compare the labels) so I would not have to buy a large box of plant food and mix it up. The liquid plant food even comes with an eye dropper.
Here are some finished copper pendants tucked into my patina jar that’s filled with Kosher salt. I screwed the lid on and will check it after a few days to see how the patina is developing.
Here’s  some other pieces.  I put on the patina and am leaving them in the open air to see what happens.
The pictures below show the front and back of a pendant in progress.  I etched a piece of brass and patinated it with the ammonia and salt method.  Then I  cut out the shape, made a hole and shaped it in a swage block.
I filed the edges smooth and added a ring, washer and dangle with  enameled ends.    I think this pendant will undergo some more changes before I’m happy with it.

 Once it’s the way I want it, I will finish the pendant with a coat of Renaissance Wax to protect the patina.
If you’re in Philadelphia this weekend, don’t miss the Spring Art Star Craft Bazaar Saturday, May 12th & Sunday, May 13th, 11-6pm at the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing, which is along Columbus Blvd, between Walnut & Chestnut Streets, Philadelphia, PA

Do Overs


Do Overs.    Don’t you wish you had the chance to do some things again because they didn’t turn out  the way you wanted the first time?  Or, maybe you thought of a better way to do something, but it was too late you you couldn’t get motivated to begin again.   Do you give up or try again?

Contrary to popular belief, even talented people don’t usually nail  a technique the first time they try it.   In his book  Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell says you have to work at a technique for 10,000 hours to master it.  I normally have to try something many times (except marriage thank the powers that be) before  I get something that comes even close  to what I had in mind.  Sometimes I never do.  Sometimes I  take a detour, have a happy accident, and end up in a new place all together.  Now that I think of it, that’s how I ended up getting married!

Do not be afraid of Do Overs!  Do overs are a great way to learn.  Do overs do not make you a failure.   Here’s an example: Look at the Viking Knit  necklace below.  It’s a triple weave made from 24 gauge copper wire.  I wanted to make a finding that would work as a focal piece and clasp.   First, I made the one  you see on the left.    I liked it for about a minute, then it began to aggravate me.  I thought the scale was right, but it was boring.   It was difficult to open and close the necklace.  The metal (14 gauge wire) was dinged and hammering it flat didn’t add anything to the design. 

Compare the finding on the left with the one on the right.

   

I used the same gauge wire and the same length for the second finding.  This time, I fabricated hooks with balled ends and  loops.  I suspended the hooks from the  loops coming out of the end caps.  This gave me the option of making  a  focal piece or clasp I could attach to the hooks, and it gave me the option of  switching out the item if I wanted a new look.

The new focal piece/clasp is also a spiral, but I balled both ends this time.  This was a design decision instead of the design indecision I  made on the first piece where I cut the spiral ends, filed then and just left them.   You need a hot torch to ball copper wire this thick,  so I used my EZ Torch.    Then I made copper jump rings and soldered them to the spiral.  The necklace is now easy to take on and off and is more comfortable to wear because the hooks and jump rings make the assembly more flexible.  I don’t like to know that I am wearing jewelry and I don’t want to spend a lot of time putting it on and taking it off.  But I don’t want to lose it, either.  The hooks and the weight of the necklace components work together to hold the necklace on securely.


Press here  to see another piece I  did over before I was happy with the results.  And here are two metal lentil beads I made and wore suspended from chains.  One day I decided to try them as pendants on bead strands.  I think the whole look is more opulent.  If you’re not happy with one of your projects, don’t be afraid to do it over!