Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Engraving day 2

The bright cuts kicked my butt. I'm feeling less optimistic today. Could be because I'm tired. And that's all I have to say about that.....

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Engraving day 1

I have a lot of information swirling around my brain regarding hand/hammer engraving. One of the most interesting things I learned is that engraving is the oldest form of art there is. Isn't that fascinating?

The workshop is presented by NC Black, and the instructors Andrea and Les have the most amazing credentials.

It is interesting to come out from under my rock and see what's going on in the real world. I am struck by two prevailing feelings. 1) there are some really amazing artists in the world. Everything I could ever hope to make in comparison is crap. And 2) what the hell do I have to lose by trying? I may never be amazing, but there is much good in being the best that I can be.

I really like their angle. Engraving is a very specialized skill, usually done with very expensive training and equipment. NC Black has developed a way to do engraving for jewelry making that is quite affordable.

It is sort of a mission of theirs to spread the skill of engraving. To keep the skill alive, and I think that is fabulous. I am a history lover, and I loved all their antique examples of engraved pieces. It was sad in a way though because they were all antiques. Almost no modern examples. I would love to carry on this skill in my work.

Today all we did was a little hand engraving, and made numerous lines with the hammer engraving. Tomorrow is learning the art of engraving the curved line.

I will tell you, I see a lot of practicing in my future. But, I find it utterly captivating. And like all metalsmithing techniques I have undertaken, I feel a determination to make it work.

More tomorrow...

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Palace of Fine Arts

~ San Francisco, California ~

Our first full day in San Fran began at one of my favorite places!  The Palace of Fine Arts.

I wonder what they are looking for?

I absolutely love the architecture here.  All scrolls and decorative work are right up my alley.

The ceiling rather looks like a honeycomb, don't you think?  

Wishing I had some cool weather right now!
I hope you all have a fabulous weekend!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Amethyst Sage Plume Agate and Sterling Silver Necklace

Preview pic of my latest. I've been hoarding these Amethyst Sage Plume Agates for several months now, and decided to use them together in one piece!

I took pics today, but I'm not really loving them. I'll be listing tomorrow!


I wish I could attach pictures, but our computer is still out of commission. Hopefully we will be back on track tomorrow!

I just wanted to let you know I added several pieces to the sale section of my shop. Click hereto check it out! :-)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

WIP Wednesday

I've not been able to blog much lately....Hubby is remodeling the office and our desktop isn't hooked up.

I have been trying to get some work done though. Looks like I'll have new work ready to add to the shop on Friday! See you then!

- Posted from a secret and remote location using my iPhone

Monday, August 22, 2011

The first day of school...

Here is a blurry picture of my girls on their first day of school. They came running into my room and the little one shouted "this is the moment we've been waiting for!" I don't remember seeing this much excitement since Christmas.

I am happy to get back to work on a more regular schedule. This week I'm working on customs and copper earrings. Yes, copper has won in the battle of the non precious metals. I really love working with it, and I love the warm rich color it takes on. Just in time for fall too! Look for new work this week!

- Posted from a secret and remote location using my iPhone

Sunday, August 21, 2011


It's really the first time in my life rejection has felt like relief. I got the email this morning that the big show I applied to has me on the waiting list. Which means that when someone they accepted right away doesn't pony up the $150 booth fee they'd love to have my money instead. ;-)

Had I gotten in, I was prepared to have to really put the pedal to the metal and come up with the best showing I could. But truth be told, I am sooooo glad not to have to get myself all stressed out. I guess I would feel different if I had a huge inventory of unsold stuff laying around, but I've not been very productive this past summer.

So now I only have the church show to prepare for, and I already know exactly what I want to make for that. So, off to it then!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Every cloud has a silver lining....

Rain clouds are back!  You can find them here.

A question...

First, let me preface this by saying I swear I'm not trying to be snarky, or call anyone out, or any such thing.  I don't have any ill will, or bad thoughts about anyone on the subject, I am merely curious.

Ahhhh....Now you're interested right?  :-)

Anyway,  I've discussed this topic a bit with a friend.  And the whole thing is still swirling around my brain several weeks later.

What I am wondering, is how can someone take a cast of an object such as a lego, or a hello kitty face, or a  logo of a famous company and use it in their work without infringing on another's copyrights?  And what about molding and casting or embossing commercial metal stampings?

I really don't know anything at all about copyright infringement other than people in the forums of Etsy like to throw the words around a lot, and use them to try to harass others into not making the same type of work that they do.

Is it ok to take a metal stamping, mold it, and reproduce it in say ceramics?  Has the original design been changed enough not to be infringing?    Is it ok to take a component, say made in brass, and cast it into sterling and use it in your work?

Way back when I took the intro into metalsmithing class.  Our teacher had a big ziploc bag full of sterling components that he had cast himself.  He wasn't at all shy about announcing to us that he had ripped them off from Rio Grande.  And sure enough, every component he had could be found on Rio...
He just flat out didn't give a rat's ass about it.  He was a bit of a rebel artist.  :-)

A couple of weeks ago, I was up late one night supply shopping on Etsy.  I'm looking for some cool brass or copper stampings to use to make necklaces and earrings for an upcoming show.  I was happily shopping, hearting things left and right when I came across a component in pewter that I recognized immediately because I follow the original artist's work.  Someone in presumably Asia had cast an artists original design and mass produced it in base metal.  I slept on it overnight before convoing the artist the next morning.  She didn't know about it, and succeeded in getting the shop to remove the item.

It really gave me sort of an odd feeling.  On one hand, it would be kinda cool for someone to think your work was great enough to be mass produced.  But how bad does it suck to have your work stolen and reproduced without your permission?  I mean, we all know the blood, sweat, and tears that goes into creating a piece sometimes.  After that I felt really jaded, and was a bit afraid to buy any base metal components wondering what poor unsuspecting artist they had been ripped off from.

I don't me out here guys.  Give me your thoughts on the subject....

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Oh. My. Gosh.....

I have decided to jump out of my comfort zone and just registered for this workshop.

I read an argument once about the term "self taught".  This particular author didn't like the term.  Her point of view was that nobody is really self taught.  We learn from books, the internet, watching videos, other people who work in our field etc...

I guess technically she is correct.

So I will use the term self chosen curriculum.  Ha!!  Self taught sounds much better doesn't it?  :-)

Anyway, since I have always chosen what it was I wanted to learn, all I really know is what I've decided to learn.

I bought a set of gravers about 6 months ago.  I knew I was in trouble when I wasn't even sure how to attach them to the handles!  

Luckily a metalsmith friend told me how.  (but I still don't really know what to do with them!)

I know I'll be fine once I'm in the class, but I must admit I'm anxious to step out of my comfort zone.

But I badly want to learn engraving, and I just don't have the strength to figure it out on my own. 

I am soooo excited!  :-)

The first day...

Chinatown ~ San Francisco, CA

After checking into our hotel, the first thing we did was go to Chinatown.  It's kinda one of those things you have to do if you visit San Francisco, at least once.  

Chinatown is comprised of several city blocks lined with red lanterns above.  There is shop after shop after shop filled with imports from China.  

My kids of course had to have something, and they got these hats right away.  
It turned out they came in quite handy, and they wore them practically non stop the whole time we were in the Bay area.

Which is really the reason we went to San Fran in the first place.  We were trying to escape 110 degree weather back home, and we succeeded!  The temps were in the lower 60's the whole time.  It was fantabulous.  

I allowed the cool wind to embrace every fiber of my being.  My body drank it in, and it soothed my heat wrankled nerves.  Ahhhhh....... :-)

This was a painting on one of the buildings.  

And here is that quintessential icon of San Francisco, the trolley.

We didn't get a chance to ride the trolley.  Frankly, they made me nervous with the girls.

San Francisco is a great city, and my point of view has changed every time I've been there.

The first was when I was about 14.  We had gone to Northern Calif. for a family reunion, and stayed with family in Hayward.  We rode BART under the bay, visited Fisherman's wharf, Ghiradelli square, etc.  And I saw a homeless person for the first time.  I was filled with wonder, and had a new understanding of the world outside my little town.  

The second was after my husband and I first started dating.  My memories of that trip are ones of relaxation and enjoyment.  Seeing San Francisco through the eyes of a young adult, and more wonder at the people and the lives being lead in this famous city.

This time, I did enjoy visiting San Francisco.  But instead I began to see it through the eyes of children,  and while there is plenty of wonder, there are also things that you want to hurry on by as the kids gawk...
like when my youngest saw her first homeless person.  "Is that guy dead?" in an alarmed voice.  

It is a very hard thing to explain to a six year old. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

New Bulk Copper Earwires....

Copper ~ Oxidized and Tumbled

Copper ~ Oxidized and Tumbled with inverted loop

Copper~  Shiny 

Copper~ Shiny with inverted loop

I am offering these in my findings shop in bulk orders of 10 or 20.
$ 1 a pair.  Yes!  You read that right!  $ 1 a pair.

These are a nice size and are formed individually by hand.  I then sand the ends for comfort and oxidize for a darkened finish, or left raw and tumbled for strength and shine.  By eliminating the decorative hammering I do on most of my ear wires, I am able to offer these for such a great price. 

Making handmade with handmade! 

Brass is up next....

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The secret lives of seahorses...

On the third day we headed south to Monterey seeking a quiet spot on the beach. It took exactly two days for me to get officially tired of the crowds in San Fran.

It so happened that Monterey is home to a fabulous aquarium. We always like to pretend we are visiting the aquarium for the kids, but truth be told I am so in my element surrounded by sea life. (if only there weren't so many people there!)

I got to satisfy my urge to plunge hands into icy water and gently touch the sea stars.

The best exhibit for me was the seahorses. Such beautiful, graceful creatures. The photo is of a wall sculpture. I just love it....

- Posted from a secret and remote location using my iPhone

Is this how it's supposed to look?

I just fired copper clay for the first time. Is it normal to have all this
mess? My pieces sintered properly, so I must have done something right. I guess I wasn't expecting all the flakes of oxidation. And my pretty new stainless steel pan looks like yuck!

I had tried to add a texture to my birds, but it didn't take very well. My first experience with copper clay was a learning experience. It seems to dry more quickly than the silver clay, and doesn't seem to take an impression as well.

Next up....bronze clay!

Posted from a secret and remote location using my iPhone

Grow and Bloom...

I made another flower.  This time a ring in sterling.  
I think earrings must be next!  :-)
It can be found here!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The last day...

I guess I'm working backward here in sharing the last day of our vacation first. We were by the San Francisco airport looking for a good place to eat breakfast when lo and behold, what before my eyes should appear? The See's candy factory in San Bruno!

Hubby nearly had a wreck slamming on the brakes to get me there! ;-)

Growing up, we would visit the See's candy store in the mall whenever we went to Reno. It is the sweetest memory of my childhood.

We were hoping to take a tour, but alas, they didn't offer tours.

I instead had to soothe myself with a hand picked pound of See's best caramel, almond and milk chocolate combinations.

I am a happy girl. I'll worry about the weight gain later! :-)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Keeping personal business private..

I've been thinking a lot about minimizing the exposure of my personal life when it comes to the Internet. Take Facebook for example. I currently have a personal page, and a fan page for each of my shops. Recently I've had several people whose names I don't recognize to be added as a friend on my personal page. I'm sure they are just people who have found me through my various business interactions on the web, but I feel strange approving them to be friends of my personal page.

I talk about my kids once in awhile here, but my FB page has all kinds of pics of them and other family members and friends. I have all my settings set so that only friends can see my pics and posts, but today with that whole thing about FB publishing phone numbers really decided for me what I've been thinking of doing for awhile now.

I guess what held me back is not wanting to look like a real witch. You know, like I didn't want to associate with people I've met on the web.

So, know this. I appreciate everyone who has taken an interest in me and my work. I love getting to know you, interacting with you, and sharing my work with you. So here's the deal.
You can find me here on my blog, you can follow me on Twitter Here My fan page for Amy Nicole Artisan Jewelry
is Here and my fan page for my findings shop is Here

If you are interested in following the little bit of leather work I've done, the best place to keep up with me is on my blog.

Over the next couple of days I'll be editing my personal Facebook page to only include those who I know personally, and have interacted with recently. Thank you for understanding that I am only trying to protect my family.