Sunday, February 28, 2010

Jewelry creation 101- silver head pins

I'm currently working on a top-end piece of jewelry that involved sterling silver wire, aquamarine gemstones crystals and seed pearls. In making this, I grew frustrated at the cost of sterling silver head pins, usually sold in 10 packs. I needed, like, a hundred of these very simple, but essential items for my necklace.
I had tried using a spiral at the end of my pearl bead drops, but the finished look seemed not as professional as I wanted for my piece.
I'm the type of person that will completely take apart an item If it's not quite what I wanted it to be.... This was one of those items that I'm not going to accept anything but what I really want it to be!
I'd taken the time and expense to order the top drilled, dagger style, aquamarine nuggets from an artisan supplier on

So- I wanted the finished look to be a certain way, not sloppy, or amatur. I set about creating my own silver ball tipped head pins. These tiny silver balls are what the bead rests on, with a spiral wrapped loop at the top. The loop attaches to the necklace in some fashion.

I started with 24 guage sterling silver wire. I cut 10 pieces of wire about 1 1/2" long. I summarily took these to the barn and had Jim start up the hand held propane torch... (cause he's a man- and it's a man skill- right?)

I held the wire in the hottest part of the torches fire, easily creating a molten ball of silver. Trial and error found that you have to hold the wire pretty much vertical, with the molten ball on the bottom to get the ball to center on the wire, and not be off center. These first 10 pins were burnt and tarnished looking, but for all apparent purposes, it seemed to be just what I wanted.

I had a silver polishing cloth that I took my dainty treasures to. I polished for more than an hour to get all the brownish tan tarnish of the pins shaft, and the darker charcoal color off the ball itself. That's not very cost effective.
Not willing to give up, I cut a larger handful of the wire to about 1 1/4" length, a more managable size for the tiny seed pearls anyway. If I was going to make the effort, I might as well make it worth while. The bundle of wire was only about 9 bucks. and the cost of the headpins to purchase them, would have been closer to double that... you do the math.

So, off to the barn I went. You can see in the pictures below what wire I started with, How I held the pin in the flame (I photoshopped in the wite line so you can better see where the pin was held in the fire), and the finished result. What you don't see is how I got the headpins to be silver, and with very little carbon burn or tarnish!
Ahhh trial an error again. I had made one pin that had the silver molten ball harden a little off center. I just stuck it back into the flame for a second more and took it out pretty quick, not wanting to over heat it and make the ball too big. I noticed that where it had been re-heated to cherry for that little second was shiny clean! The carbon film on the outside had been burnt away!
the Ah-Ha moment had arrived.
I reheated each of those pins just to the point of cherry glow, then removed them from the fire before they were molten. All were nearly perfect!
Joy! Let the endless wire wrapping begin!

Monday, February 22, 2010

In Love with Letterpress

I have been ogling the letterpress sites online for more than a month now. I am itching to try my hand at this!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

S. Britt

In an interview with grain edit, illustrator S. Britt offers the following insight.
Incredible sense of humor this one. One to watch!

Who or what are some of your influences?
Raindrops on rummies and whiskers on women
Bright copper swamp stills and buck naked swimmin’
Covered in calamine, to soothe the wasp stings
These are a few of my favorite things!

Big Chief tablets and Sharpies for doodles
Schlitz and tuna fish and Top Ramen noodles
In a tattered blue bathrobe, fit for a king
These are a few of my favorite things!

Raccoons and hobos that go through your trashes
Thirty-one bite marks and red swollen scratches
A dozen more rabies shots just before spring
These are a few of my favorite things!

When the rent’s late, when the water breaks
When I’m feeling sad,
I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel so bad!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Raindrops on Roses- hints of spring

Just a warm feeling comes to mind when I see all these favorite things. They remind me of the blooming spring and soft rains.

Lauri the Madmodiste

Chinese New Year feature

I was just posted on fellow Etsian blogger: Rebecca Hamilton Stockdill's blog- 'Iced Blueberries' for a Chinese New Year feature. Very nice of Rebecca to share her favorite chinese new year items from
Thanks for the blog love Rebecca!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Another side of bacon

In keeping with my 'side of bacon' theme- I found this ad that ran in our local newspaper, ad design created by fellow designer- Lacey Wheeler:

Who doesn't love breakfast made my Mom's and Grandma's!!!
Come on People! IT'S BACON!

Design Blog find

While surfing through some fav sites today, I came across a link to Kelly Moore Creative Media.
Nicely done website, similar in structure to the d*s website that I follow. with red and white 'kitcsh' coloring and fonts. Pretty cool.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Side order of Bacon with that

Found this little tidbit at the blog site

SO funny!

The Snuggie infomercials are so annoying to begin with. Making fun of them is the only sane option.

Monday, February 8, 2010

handmade valentines

I've been working on handmade valentines for the kids classes this year. I contemplated hand drawing a set, and actually started, but lost interest after about 2 hours sketching in front of the TV. I have 2 hand drawn images out of the 4 proposed on my '4-up' layout paper. A cozy heart wrapped in winter wear, and a pretty sad looking robot blasting off to the moon. **SIGH**
You know, I'm actually a pretty damned skilled freehand artist when i'm inspired. Or at least remotely interested. But I've been so facinated with illustration techniques using adobe Illustrator lately and can't seem to shake the obsession.
during my upbriging and My current life, I have chased down the illusive knowledge of current fad/obsession/interest until I've beaten it with every weapon in my arsenal, wooden spoons and occasional projectile shooting cannon included, until I've mastered said knowledge to my satisfaction. Then, and only then,the frenzied grip of creativity will loosen and let me be adrift in complete boredom once more.
So it is that I've been spending almost all my free thinking time wondering how to do this or that in the program, experimenting and trying new things.
Working in the advertising industry, I realize that i don't have to create every single element in my ads by hand. I simply do not have that kind of time. So, we purchase a annual contract from a design house called metro creative graphics. I then search and download bits and pieces of art, cut them to ribbons and use just select items and incorporate that little bit into a new piece of art or advertisement that is relevant to the project I'm getting 'paid' to work on for this 20 minutes or hour.

(side note to designers not working at a newspaper: you are so lucky to have the luxury of time. I have created 20-30 ads a day, along with layout of a complete project in 24 hours, prep, proof and onto film within a single day. I just shake my head at designers that have such a luxury as time. I wonder what drives them to finish a project rather than re-work it endlessly?)

after I have hacked a bit of art out of it's original illustration I can then use it in the adertising piece that I'm currently working on. Take the EWE for example. That innocent sheep was once part of a nativity scene, marketed for christmas cards everywhere, but using the power of advertising, and that handy paid contract, I've cut here right out and made that sheep a valentine instead.
Common sense, and very efficient.

Above is a sample of a computer generated illustration for the valentine's cards I'm going to print onto the very best cardstock that wal-mart will sell me. I will have the boys trim them out and stuff them into homemade envelopes so they too can feel the obsession of creativity, even if it's driven by me.

Friday, February 5, 2010

A little bit of snow this afternoon


I was creating the top poster for a local theater when I fell in love with the little red arrow icon.
I just couldn't leave it alone- so I created a 2nd poster. This one typographical in nature.

I think I like #2 better. What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Only the Best of Etsy Sample Packages GUEST GIVEAWAY!!!!

Only the Best of Etsy Sample Packages GUEST GIVEAWAY!!!!
What a neat idea!

A vacation spot: Ocean Isle Beach

Ocean Isle Beach family vacation 2009 from todd v on Vimeo.

I've been looking for a great vacation spot on the beach. Anyone who's tried to plan a family vacation somewhere they've never been knows it's hard to do without some first hand insider information. I put the question of where to stay 'out there' on Twitter and fellow newspaper man, Ed Henninger, recommended Ocean Isle Beach. Ever since, I've been scouring the web for info on this spot. I've got a feeling this is it!
Thanks Ed. You may have saved my sanity.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A new inspiration

I've posted a new link in the sidebar to Grain Edit. A designer's site for just plain cool stuff.

for Design Inspiration

House Industries

I recently received a fabulous catalog in the mail. Not from some new hip clothing company, and not on super slick oversized glossy paper.
This was a not-so-humble booklet from House Industries, a type foundry in Yorklyn, DE.
Upon opening the manilla colored envelope I was surrounded by the smell of REAL INK! not the heated ozone stench of laser printing.... but real, live, inky-ink. Mmmmmm... I love the smell of ink in the morning... or afternoon for that matter.

The cover was a nice cardstock from French papers... the inside? the inside was newsprint. Fabulous newsprint!
the orange and black and metallic gold of the ink was fabulous! It was font-porn for the designer in me.

Thank you House Industries. You have made my day.

Mentions of House Industries elsewhere on the web: