Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Easy Thanksgiving desserts

Need some easy Thanksgiving desserts?  I wanted to bring dessert for a family gathering and ended up going with a couple of favorites that are really, really easy to make and travel well. 

First I made fudge brownies with chocolate ganache and peanut butter cups.  It's very hard to go wrong with these - people love them.  And if you need to take a dessert in the car and don't want to worry about a cake box or a pan, just bake them directly in small mason jars and pack them in the car with all the rest of your luggage.  I froze these overnight before packing them up to make the drive.

I used to be very precise with my ganache recipe, but now I just wing it and it seems to work out fine.  Too thin?  Add more chocolate. 

Then I made chocolate peppermint bark sugar cookies - also incredibly easy.  Cookie dough that bakes all at one time?  I like it.   I am not really a peppermint kind of person, but these things are addictive.

Now to just stay out of them while we make the drive...

Monday, November 25, 2013

Show prep

There is only one art show I do every year and it's coming up in a few days.  This last weekend it was so incredibly cold that I didn't spend much time at the workbench.  I just didn't last very long.  There is a point where my fingers just stop doing what I will them to and it's time to go inside.

So instead I spent some time tidying up loose ends on copper projects that I started but never finished - some of them are fairly recent but a couple have literally been sitting on my desk for almost a year. 

This pair of anticlastic copper earrings:

What I thought would be a quick pair of wire wrapped earrings. (Not quick. I still don't really know why.)

A smaller version of the "bubble earrings" I made a few weeks ago:

I'll add this pendant to a leather cord before I consider it done, but I really love how it turned out. I textured copper with a hammer, "puffed" it using the hydraulic press and finished with a heat patina:

And a set of copper bangles with a heat patina:


I've decided I won't list any of these in my Etsy shop; after the show is over I'll see what's left and update listings.  That's always a good time to kind of clean up my shop and start fresh!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Tiny mirrors

Last weekend I made this pair of earrings in silver to match the copper pair I made recently. I used the hydraulic press to get the texture and added some copper rivets for contrast. I thought about giving them a brushed satin finish but finally went with a shiny polish instead. This has created an issue; I can't seem to get a good picture of them. 

I try to take most pictures of my jewelry outside because the natural light almost completely removes any need for color balancing in the photos and makes quick work of listing the pieces on Etsy.  Generally this works well as long as the sun isn't totally beating down on the deck railing I use as the backdrop.  But apparently shade isn't enough for these earrings - I might need completely overcast skies.  When I look at these pictures I miss the jewelry completely because I'm drawn to the tiny, repetitive tree reflections in the texture.


I actually love the reflections - they are kind of mesmerizing. 

Enchanting, but not too useful when it comes to getting pictures for a listing of the earrings in my Etsy shop. They are really pretty; big pieces of silver that are perfect for statement jewelry...not that anyone could tell. If I still have them to list after the Bizarre Bazaar in a couple of weeks, I'll try the pictures again in a light tent.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Artists Synchroblog - November Studio Tour

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.

The November Synchroblog topic is a studio/home tour.

Although I do some finishing at a desk in my bedroom, most of the work is done in my garage.  This space has grown over time - I've been making jewelry for about 13 years and started out with a small area and a few tools. In the last few months my husband helped me turn this into my own little area and I love having a dedicated space for it.  Sure it's hot in the summer and will be cold in the winter but unless the temperatures are really extreme I can handle it for an hour or two at a time. 

This is the whole set up as you walk into the work area.

I have a chair to sit on when I use the flex shaft since it has a foot control, but the rest of the time I stand while I work.  I don't know what it is, I just don't like to sit and work on metal or glass. Sometimes I'll come across a video of someone making jewelry and they are sitting at a table...that seems so strange to me.  I can't be the only one who works standing up like that, right? 

The right side of my workbench is for soldering and the left is primarily for glass work.

I keep a variety of tools and materials under my main work area for easy access.  Glass rods, forming and dapping tools, etc.


The tools and equipment I use a little less often are a step to the side or behind my workbench.

Please be sure to visit the other bloggers this month to take a tour of their spaces:

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Hydraulic press earrings

I finally did it: I got a hydraulic press.  I've been saving and waiting and putting it off for a long, long time.  So long that I wondered if the hype would live up to the reality; I had made it a pretty amazing thing in my head.

I haven't been disappointed.  I'm in love with the texture I can get and can't wait to get to the workbench to do more.  This is my first pair of earrings using the press - copper with a heat patina and sterling rivets:

I'll admit, when the boxes arrived and I unpacked everything I wasn't too excited about putting it together.  I hate reading through material to find that stuff out and generally wing it (that often ends badly).  But Melissa Muir did a series of YouTube videos that made everything so much easier. In fact, while I was putting together my list of materials to order I sent Melissa a message through Facebook asking what she thought were the essential pieces to start with and she wrote a blog post outlining the basics. (Thanks, Melissa!!!)

Here are links to Melissa's YouTube videos:
Assembling the hydraulic press:

Using the hydraulic press to emboss metal:

Using the hydraulic press to "puff" metal:

It only took about 20 minutes for me to put it together.  Then I annealed some copper for a test run and got amazing results on the first try.

So my test run quickly turned into a real project.

I considered keeping these myself because I can't stop looking at them.  But hopefully there will be a lot more like them to come...I've listed these in my Etsy shop.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Little pony cake

Last weekend Gage asked me to make a birthday cake for one of his friends.  As he described the details for it, I got an image of something for my three year old niece rather than an 18 year old guy. But I decided to just make the cake as requested and not ask questions.  A friend said it was probably for a Brony, and I think she was right.

The cake was to be pink with a meadow on top and a little purple pony with wings and a yellow mane sitting in the grass.

So here's what I did:

The pink is a little jolting, but I actually like how the little pony turned out...kind of cute, right?  I used fondant mixed with tylose powder for the body and just rolled yellow fondant for the mane and tail.  It was really pretty quick and just needed about a day to set up before I put it on top of the cake.

I'll have to finish up one last project and then put the cake aside for a while...the Bizarre Bazaar is just a few weeks away at this point so I need to focus on jewelry...