Thursday, July 30, 2009

Moon and Stars -- Mixed Metal Earrings

Just listed these at Dalkullan Jewelry.
The lovely color variations on the brass disk are the result of heating the brass.
I made the shiny balls by melting sterling with my trusty torch, and then soldered them onto the disks.
I've been thinking about this design for months, but needed to get the right tools, and hone my torch skills, so that I could make them. Thanks for dropping in and taking a look!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Runway Crochet

I'd like to introduce you to a wonderful person, who also is a talented crochet artist, Runway Crochet. You can visit her at Twitter , become her Fan at Facebook,
or follow her blog.

Runway Crochet's fine merchandise is available for purchase at her shop at Etsy.

She makes the most amazing crochet clothing, jewelry, and accessories, and also has a lovely stock of vintage, including dolls in native costumes.

I recently had the good fortune to win Runway Crochet's contest she was running on her blog, and was awarded 10 pairs of the cutest baby shoes imaginable. Actually, they're cuter than my imagination could conjure up!

Aren't they adorable? All the different styles, so beautifully made, and they arrived so carefully packaged.

These little baby sandals are so sweet, with their little ribbon ankle straps!

I'm sending them to my son and daughter-in-law for their new baby, who is do to make his (or her) appearance in the world at the end of August. He certainly won't lack for beautiful little shoes!

I bet you're dying to see some of Runway Crochet's awesome creations for adults, so here's a little sample of her artistry.
Isn't it gorgeous? It's Runway's Circle Shrug, and think of all the lovely combo's you could create with it. Perfect with your little black dress, also to keep you cozy over a summer dress in those air conditioned restaurants, and obviously it looks stunning with just jeans and a t shirt.

Here's a little about Runway herself, from her Etsy profile:

What kid didn't toy with the idea of fashion design using paper dolls by tracing them and creating fashions out of different papers, crayons, markers, pencils and a pair of scissors? I sure did but, when it came to going off to college, fashion was not one of the subjects I studied. As the matter of fact, my high school sweetheart accused me of not being "in style" at the time. I guess some men do pay attention to those sort of things more than you'd think.

It wasn't until a few years after I graduated that I actually started to teach myself how to crochet along with learning a few other crafts and needle arts. A gift from my father, Reader's Digest Guide to Needlework was the book that started it all! Besides that, there are so many wonderful books from published crochet designers out there with so many gorgeous things to drool over – I can't imagine not wanting to crochet some of them, and create a few original designs of my own. Otherwise, I'd be bored stupid!"

Hope you'll visit Runway Crochet and check out her wonderful shop!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sterling Disk Earrings

These earrings were fun to make, with the added plus that I learned a lot. They're the first pair of post earrings I've made, and soldering on the wire took a bit of doing.

But, first things first. I started by using my trusty disk cutter to punch out .5 inch circles from sterling stock, and then textured the disks with the sharper end of a riveting hammer. My sweet hubby was kind enough to file and smooth the rivet hammer so it makes a nice impression on the metal. And first impressions are so important, don't you think?

I marked the center and drilled a hole part way through the back, to provide a little pocket for the tip of the earwire to fit. This makes a stronger join than just soldering the wire tip to a flat metal surface. I fired up my little torch, and soldered on the earwires to the disks, and also melted a couple pieces of sterling into nice round balls.

Alas, the little round balls didn't stay round for long! I put them on my bench block and pounded and textured them, too. Then they were sweat soldered (that sounds a bit disgusting, but it's just melting the solder on the back of one piece, laying it solder-side down on another, and then heating it to soldering the two together) and I followed up with a bit of filing and sanding.

Then a few hours jostling in the tumbler, and they were ready for their photo shoot. Hope you enjoyed reading about how the Sterling Disk Earrings were made, and thank so much for stopping by!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Hammered Brass Earrings

Here is the finished project. I decided against adding the bronze dyed freshwater pearls, I think just the two metals look so lovely, and the simple elegance of the design doesn't need any more adornment.

I textured the brass part of the earrings with a ball pein hammer, and then annealed the metal. Annealing is heating with a torch until the crystalline structure of the metal becomes malleable again. When metal is worked, it becomes harder and brittle, but annealing it makes it easy to bend again. Then I did a final dapping, to shape the earrings. With the addition of handcrafted sterling earwires the earrings were finished.

The background in the photo is a pottery piece I inherited from my Aunt, the same Aunt from Dalarne in Sweden that Dalkullan Jewelry is named for. My Aunt owned an inport shop in Chicago called Dalkullan, which means 'girl from Dalarne' which she was, and I chose the name to honor her memory, and my Father's, who was also from Dalarne.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Fabricating Metal Earrings

I'm working on a new earring design, and it's one that I'm fabricating from sheet metal and wire.

The picture to the right is a piece of brass sheet metal, and you can see the holes where I've punched disks out. Using a disk cutter, I slide the sheet metal into it, strike a couple blows with a household hammer on the cutter, and out pops a lovely round metal disk. It's a lot easier and more accurate than the way I used to make circular metal disks, using a jeweler's saw.

Next I cut an addition hole out of the first disk, this one off-center. Then I hammer the metal with the ball end of a ball pein jeweler's hammer, to texture the metal. And finally I give the metal a rounded form, using a dapping block and punches.

A dapping block is a heavy piece of steel with hemispherical depressions tooled into it, and the corresponding punches are bars of metal with spherical steel ends that mate up with the holes in the dap. Using a dap makes it possible to evenly round a piece of metal.

The earring still needs to be filed and polished, and have an earwire attached.
I'm going to use a sterling earwire, and maybe a bronze colored freshwater pearl. As you can see, it's a work in progress, but I hope you've enjoyed getting a little glimpse into how I make jewelry.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Lifesaver Earrings, Part Two

All the different colors of the Lifesaver Earrings are up at my Etsy shop now.
The final two colors are Sea Mist Green and Sky Blue.
It's definitely a challenge to solder close to glass beads. Too much heat too fast and the once lovely bead is a pile of glass fragments. I also learned that quenching the earring instead of letting it air cool can result in fractured beads. It's fun to rise to the challenge, though, and I've learned a lot about soldering near delicate beads in the process.

If you'd like to own a pair of the sweet and colorful Lifesaver Earrings, just drop by my Etsy shop. Or you might be able to win a pair for yourself, and also for a friend. Visit my Facebook business page to find out how.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Hawks Nesting In The Front Yard

For the past month or so we've had a family of hawks nesting in a tree in our front yard. We saw them scouting out the area last year, and they began building a nest, but deserted it after a few days, dashing our hopes of seeing them raise a family. This spring they returned, enlarged their nest, and started their brood.

There are five babies in the nest, and they've been growing at an incredible rate. This picture was taken just a couple weeks ago, and now the little hawks are a lot bigger.

Both parents were taking care of the young ones at first, but lately I've only noticed the mother feeding the babies.

They were just puffs of light tan fluff at first. Sorry this picture isn't clearer, but I took it through a window using the zoom feature. The nest is a collection of twigs, and doesn't look very sturdy, in fact, there's been a steady decrease in the size of the nest as twigs are knocked off during storms, but amazingly it's held together.

We had a terrible thunderstorm, very windy and rainy, and I watched helplessly as the mother hawk defended her babies from the elements, shielding them with her wings. Every time thunder would boom, I could see her tremble. Thank goodness they all came through that storm in good condition, and the nest held together.

It's a treat to watch the little hawks growing, we can see them from our bedroom window
and also from the front yard.An added bonus is I've noticed a decrease in the chipmunk population, which were really becoming a terrible bother. Chipmunks are cute, but they can be destructive, especially when they start tunneling under your sidewalks and patio.

We aren't sure what type of hawk they are. My husband has narrowed it down to two, Sharp Shinned Hawk or Cooper's Hawk. They have a call that sounds like the jungle bird noises from the old Tarzan movies, at first I thought it was a person making the noise, not at all what I thought a hawk would sound like.

This is the size the little hawks are now, about half the size of their mother. They've got some real feathers, but they still have a lot of their baby fuzz. They like to flap their wings and hop about in the nest, and the mother leaves them alone for increasingly longer periods.

I'm looking forward to seeing them learn how to fly. Judging by how fast they're growing and how many feathers they've got, I would imagine they'll be flying in the next couple weeks. The hawks are a noble and majestic bird, and it's been a real pleasure to have them nesting in our tree. I hope they come back next year.