Thursday, August 29, 2013

Side trip: Busker Festival

Last weekend the Buskers came through town for the local festival.  From what I can tell, the Buskers are a group of performers who go traveling around the United States all summer's not something that is original to my area. The advertising on the local site really gives a good flavor for what you will see if you attend:  "Welcome to a world where freaks, geeks, oddities, artists and out of the box entertainers run wild."

There were a couple dozen street performers with a variety of talents - an amazing atmosphere.  It was all very reminiscent of old traveling carnival acts doing performances on stage areas.  In between the stages were other "living statues" - people who could really hold so still it was incredible and would switch positions every time someone put a tip in their hat - as well as musicians and smaller acts. The streets downtown were blocked off for the festival and schedules were available all over the place so we could pick what we wanted to go see.  Unicycle routine not your thing?  Go to the fire eater! 

Both of the kids went with me and we had dinner downtown then walked around to the stages to see what we could find.  

The fire eater did little magic tricks between flame offs to let his tongue cool down.  He took audience volunteers and pointed me out to come forward and I wanted to crawl in a hole and hide.  Sure, I like to be the center of attention, but not like that.  I shook my head no and he persisted so I went, but I wasn't a very good assistant.  I wanted to bolt the whole time and I'm sure it showed.  When I was released and got back to my spot, Ben pulled me aside and whispered, "good job, mom".  That made me feel a little bit crappy for not being a better assistant.  Anyway, on to the strong woman!

We loved her.  She was definitely strong but she was also an actress and put on a great performance.

And THEN, as if the evening wasn't amazing enough, we saw my sister-in-law to be.  It was great to just run into each other that way and do a quick catch up.  And yes, I totally noticed she was wearing her engagement ring.

A unicycle act and some living statues later, it was getting dark (did I mention it was about 95 degrees out?) and we decided to call it an evening.  Next year, we are going to plan out our route a little bit better and try to get to more of the shows.  If Buskers are coming to your area next summer, don't miss the opportunity to check out the performances!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Lampwork glass and sterling silver ring

I made the glass bead for this ring a few weeks ago during a quick lampworking session with Ben.  There are special mandrels that allow the bead to have a flat back and no hole going through it.  Perfect for setting in a ring or pendant when all goes well.  They don't always work out; sometimes the shape is not quite right or the bead actually slips off of the mandrel base. But I keep trying because when they do work out, I'm totally enchanted with them.

Although I've made other rings that are similar, one of the things I love about working with glass is that every bead comes out a little bit different even if the colors and the techniques are generally the same.  

I started with a black base and built in some ivory, green and teal layers, then finished it with some fine silver.  The silver starts out as one piece of wire and balls up when it sits on the hot surface of the bead making a little constellation pattern.  

See?  Constellation on the surface and layers of color underneath. 

I made this one really small so it wouldn't be an option for me to keep and have listed it in my Etsy shop.  I have a glass shipment headed my way and am hoping to focus on that for a while - it's almost time to start making the little glow in the dark Halloween beads!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Artists Synchroblog - August Pinterest project

When I was in junior high and high school there was a store I loooooooved to go to because of the jewelry they sold.  I think it was really a music store - lots of records and cassette tapes - but on the walls lining the tiny store there were rows and rows of hammered metal jewelry behind glass doors.  I don't remember seeing that type of jewelry before and I felt a strong connection to almost all of it.  There was a lot of silver, copper, and brass involved, most of it hammered.  When I had money that's where I would get my jewelry.

One of my most beloved items was a neck cuff made out of hammered brass.  I can't quite pin down the timeframe of when those neck cuffs were really popular, but I'm thinking mid 1980s? I did a couple of searches online and didn't find much like the cuffs I remember. I found this picture of Joan Collins and had to pin it to my inspiration board on Pinterest because it's such an extreme neck cuff (she wasn't alone...I guess if you are on the red carpet or a stage your jewelry has to be GIANT). 

I knew I wanted to make a couple.  But for a person going to the office or the grocery store or out with friends, not someone walking the red carpet.  I started out with a really slim copper cuff.

I bent copper tubing around my neck mandrel and added a hammered texture.

Here it is after sanding and polishing:

Then I made another out of wide copper sheet and folded it randomly. This one is more "me" and the one I would wear if I had to pick between them - I love that it's not perfectly symmetrical.

The Artists Synchroblog is a group of bloggers who post every other month on the same topic, sharing our experience or perspective. On alternate months we undertake a Pinterest Project where we each take inspiration from a Pinterest picture, create something (art, a meal, a DIY project, etc) and then post about it.  You can read more about the Artists Synchroblog here.

Don't forget to visit the other bloggers involved in the Artists Synchroblog to see what projects they made from their Pinterest inspirations:

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Jarlights and jarcakes...a new shop.

A few years ago I spent hours searching online and calling bakeries in Columbus, Ohio looking for a place that would deliver an over-the-top-dripping-with-deliciousness treat to my sister for the day of her dissertation defense. I found several little bakeries but not a single one that would deliver.  They were all very nice about it but they just couldn't help me.  I ended up ordering from an online cookie place and even with the rush shipping it didn't get to her until the afternoon after her defense.

If she goes back and gets another PhD, this is what I will send her:

Chocolate cake, peanut butter buttercream, and pb/chocolate ganache

Jarcakes.  (Actually, I'm pretty sure I did send her those chocolate/peanut butter jarcakes later...for graduation.)

They ship well and they are easy to customize for a celebration.  I've been asked to make them for a lot of friends and kept thinking about how to handle it when someone asks if I'll make them some...the thing is, they are expensive to make.  The jars plus all the materials - ganache, buttercream frosting, candy, chocolate embellishments, and of course the cake - they end up costing more than I think people expect. (Although not more than ordering a customized cake for a special occasion...)  So I considered starting an Etsy shop to refer people to with the costs for each variety but I never got it off the ground.  I've just been making them for family birthdays and celebrations.

Lemon cake topped with lemon curd and raspberry buttercream frosting.

The kids and I have also been making jarlights out of mason jars.  Last year we made a couple dozen for Hally's wedding and then to sell at a local art show.  Ben has been particularly interested in going back to sell at the show and as we talked more about how to make the display more effective, we decided to put jarlights in an Etsy shop.  That way there is a contact point for customers who come across his booth at the show. 

Solar jarlights

So Ben and I are now in business together - organized as a dba under Ellies Jewels, Inc - selling jarcakes and jarlights through our shop. He and I will make the jarlights together for him to sell at the Bizarre Bazaar this fall at his own booth.  We've worked together on a plan for materials and gone through costs and pricing and he helped with the shop logo. We've even ordered him business cards.  It's really cool for me to see him really get involved with this and be excited about the business part of it. (Maybe someday he can take over all of that for the mason jar gifts and the jewelry I make!  I can dream...)

Our new Jars Etsy shop is up and running - here's a little preview of what we have listed there so far: