Thursday, December 31, 2009

Hand Forged Earrings

Lately I'm obsessed with hammering.  I did some prototype earrings for my new "green" line.  They're green because upcycled parts are used.  In this case, the large rings started out as aluminum spacers in computer hard drives.  I textured them with my hammer. The aluminum makes the earrings ultra lightweight and easy to wear. 

hammered rings

They debuted at Red River Revel and sold well.  I'm going to keep making them as long as I can get the spacers. 

Next I moved on to some sterling silver wire.  These feature hand forged earwires, along with the hand forged earring drop.

hand forged earrings with crystals

I played around and made several different styles of drops as well as several styles of earwires.  Some were antiqued with liver of sulphur and some I left shiny.  These debuted at the Friends and Family show at the Calico Cat and happily sold well.

earring findings

Above are some of the new forged wire earrings and findings.  The leverbacks and headpins at 1-2 o'clock are commercial.  Everything else was made by me.  These have been antiqued but not yet polished.

Here's a group of the earrings at the Friends and Family show at the Calico Cat.

new hand-forged earrings

These aren't hand forged but they do have some wire wrap.  I love making the wrapped donut earrings.  It's hard to find the small earring sized donuts that match, and so far the colors and type of stone I've been able to find is very limited.  The pea pod earrings were wrapped by me using a Hilltribe silver leaf as the pod.  I had to bend the leaf a little and file some notches in it to keep the wire from slipping. 

new earring designs

I'm working on my goals/resolutions post for 2010.  What are your goals?

It's almost time to turn on the TV and watch the ball drop.  Happy New Year everyone!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Happy Holidays & Thinking Ahead to Next Year

I'm back.  I hope everyone is having a merry Christmas, bright Yule, happy Hannukah, blessed Ashura, and joyous Kwanza. 

It's the day after Christmas and we're actually only partway through our Christmas celebration. 

It's been a weird season for me.  For one thing, I did a major amount of my shopping on the 23rd.  Usually I have it done much earlier.  Due to homeschooling this year I couldn't take off and go shopping as I did last year.  I've been feeling really unorganized and am just now beginning to feel relaxed. 

Stefan and I were out of town for a week and didn't get back until the 22nd.  Dad had some surgery and we went to my parents' to help out.  Dad's recovering quickly.

Christmas we went to my brother's for a get-together.  Five of his six kids made it, with the sixth coming later on (after we left). Luckily the snow on Christmas Eve melted at dawn or before.  We don't get much snow here.  Our relatives in Oklahoma City had 14 inches! Whoa!

We have a couple more day trips to make between now and the 1st so we can visit with family.

I've been thinking about my new year's resolutions and reviewing last year's.  I'm working on my list.  

 Thanks to The Graphics Fairy for the vintage illustration above.  Check out her awesome copyright free graphics.

The Graphics Fairy

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Susan Tuttle's Visual Poetry

Susan Tuttle is teaching a third round of her wonderful on-line class, Visual Poetry.  I've long admired her work in various publications (her book Exhibition 36: Mixed Media Demonstrations + Explorations and many Somerset magazines).  I like the clear instructions and the fact that there is a printable PDF file with the instructions and also on-line video instructions. 

A big part of learning to use the techniques is experimenting with different photos to see which techniqes work with the individual photos. Some experiments work out better than others.  I'm having fun with it.

Here's one of my own photos before:


And after applying one of the vintage/retro techniques:


Susan has a new book coming out that I'm really looking forward to:

Monday, November 2, 2009

Adorn Me! Jewelry Workshop

Woohooo! I'm so excited.  I signed up for some jewelry workshops at Adorn Me! 2010 in Houston and got all of my first choices.  Actually, the hard part about signing up was choosing which classes to take.  I really wanted to be two places at once, and sometimes three places at once.

Artist Instructors include (in no particular order) Cynthia Anderson, Beverly Ash Gilbert, Janice Berkebile, Paula Best, Diane Cook, Diana Frey, Sherri Haab, Amy Hanna, Keith Lo Bue, Mellisa Manley, Thomas Mann, Deryn Mentock, Lisa Pavelka , Jennifer Perkins, Ruth Rae, Lyle Rayfield, Stephanie Rubiano, Jane Salley, Richard Salley, Melanie Schow, Riki Schumacher, Lynne Ann Scwarzenberg, Sabra Sowell-Lovejoy, Jan Stephens, Laurel Steven, and Kim St. Jean.

I'll be taking classes Tuesday through Sunday, except for Friday.  I decided I would need a break and Friday is the Expo day.  I also hope to do some shopping. 

This will be a great opportunity to learn new skills with some fantastic instructors. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bras for the Cause!

The Calico Cat, and The Blue Armadillo Winery recently hosted a Bras for the Cause event. 

I had a plan in mind and ordered the supplies while I was at the Revel.  Then we all got the H1N1 flu, and the supplies still hadn't arrived.  The supplies arrived just in the nick of time, I started feeling better and went to work on the design.  I used heavy aluminum wire shaped into large spirals and textured it with my hammer.  I think it came out with a kind of futuristic science fiction/fantasy chic look.  What do you think?

my art bra

I used some vintage clip earrings, chain, aluminum wire, and a purchased bra.

Here are some pics from the event.  The red bra, "Butterflies are Free" was made by my friend Billye.

butterflies are free

bras for the cause event

There were some really interesting bras.  Click on the Bras for the Cause link above to see pics of all the bras.  I know hubby was thinking that I was dragging him to a boring event but he had a good time and commented about the humorous aspect of many of the entries.

The event was a huge success! Over 60 bras were entered.  Attendees voted on their favorites.  Each vote cost a dollar and over $3000 dollars was raised for the Hunt Regional Healthcare Cancer Rehabilitation facility. 

I like to give some of the income from my jewelry shows to charity and our vote money came from proceeds from my shows. 

Friday, October 23, 2009

Red River Revel

My biggest show  this year was the Red River Revel.  I did the second half so I was there October 7-10.  My sales were slightly down from previous years, which I attribute to the weather.  I always enjoy this show and the volunteers who take care of us are terrific. 

views from my booth

Here's some views to either side of my booth.

views from my booth

Wednesday wasn't so bad, but there weren't many shoppers.  Thursday was really, really hot.  Friday it rained, at times severely, and it was cold. 

a slight break in the rain

Almost no shoppers, although as you can see above, there were some. Did I mention the hours were 10 to 10?  Saturday it was cold and misted all day but the shoppers were plentiful.  Saturday made my show.  For several hours I was so busy that I didn't even have time to eat lunch, even though the volunteers brought me one.  I told Ralph that next year he has to come help me on Saturday.  My booth was packed.

Here's some booth views taken when the booth wasn't packed.

booth display

My new banner is visible on the back wall.

booth displays

The earring display going up the wall is new.  More on the cards later.

I had some great neighbors this year.  Randal Sprangler from Kansas City, Mo. was right beside me (he's seated in the chair above).  He has wonderful whimsical paintings.

Behind me were Frankie Buckley and her husband Tom. I especially liked her cats.  Next to Frankie on the fourth corner was Gloria Shanahan.

The stilt walkers were a treat this year.  I tried, but couldn't get good pictures.  Maybe I should say stilt puppeteers, since they  were basically wearing a puppet.

stilt puppiteers

stilt puppeteers

stilt walkers

You can click on any of the photos and see them in more detail on Flickr.

The venue is right next to the train tracks. 

one of many trains

another train

Shreveport is a colorful place to visit, for several reasons.  Here are a couple:

mural, downtown Shreveport

part of a mural across from the venue

These are some new earrings designs I had at the show:

new earring designs

Some new Art Clay earrings:

art clay earrings

I dropped Stefan off with my parents for a visit while I was at the Revel.  I spent Sunday night with them and visited for a while and we came home Monday. 

Monday night Stefan came down with the swine flu, then I got it.  Ralph didn't catch it for about three days which was good, because for a couple of days before he got sick I sure didn't feel like taking care of anyone else. At least there was always someone well enough to take care of everyone else.  By the time they get the flu vaccine ready no one around here is going to need it because they'll already have had the swine flu.

Luckily my parents didn't get sick. 

Autism and Homeschooling

The past few months have brought a major change in our family.  About six weeks before the end of last school year I started homeschooling our son.  Then this summer I took him to a pediatric neurologist who diagnosed him with Autism Spectrum Disorder. 

Ironically, we took him to a different pediatric neurologist when he was three because my mother insisted that we get him checked for autism.  At that time he wouldn't make eye contact most of the time and did a lot of spinning. He would flinch and cover his ears when he heard a car engine starting.  And boy, was he obsessed with vacuum cleaners, just as long as you didn't turn them on.

Naturally he looked the doctor right in the eye and interacted quite well with him.  The doctor was also impressed that Stefan could ride a bicycle.  He thought he was okay, but did mention that he might have ADD.  

In the end, Grandma did know best. 

He was later diagnosed with ADD, Dyslexia, and anxiety.  Things didn't quite seem to fit and I took him to the neurologist because I felt we must be missing something. 

At first I was relieved to know what was going on.  All the little things that didn't fit his diagnosis before all fit with this one.  Then I was bummed for a while.  Stefan is still the same kid he has always been, he's high-functioning, and I've decided to quit being bummed. Things could be a lot worse.  I know people for whom things are a lot worse. 

Luckily we did a lot of things for Stefan when he was little that turned out to be the things we should have been doing if we'd known about the autism.  We read to him from birth, we took him to Kindermusic, mother's day out, pre-school, sports, scouts etc.  Starting in Kindergarten he had speech therapy through 7th grade.  We worked on writing in the summer because his fine motor skills needed improvement. 

I've quit subbing at the Middle School for a couple of years until  Stefan graduates.  He's in 11th grade this year.  His interest is in filming skateboarding, so hopefully he'll go to a college after high school to learn videography. 

I'm enjoying being at home with Stefan and teaching him.  So far it's working out well, although we never seem to get as much done as I want to do.  Part of that is because I don't have a handle on how long it takes to do things, part is technical (we are getting him a laptop for his birthday, which should rememdy a lot of the technical problems) and part is just because we don't always get everything done.  He is learning and the stress we had when he was in the local high school is gone.  Also gone are the hours and hours of homework after school. I'm also able to do life skills with him at home that he couldn't do in school.  

I've been reading a lot about autism.  One of the books I read is Homeschooling the Child with Autism by Patricia Schetter and Kandis Lighthall.  It's been very helpful.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Getting Ready for October Shows

new fun ring

My trunk show at the Calico Cat was a success.  I ended up adding a day to the show to take advantage of the downtown crowds gathering for the Ralley Round Greenville event. 

Now I'm running around madly tring to finish getting ready for October 1st Monday Trade Days at Canton.  I'll be driving back and forth to Canton, but the show hours are 8 to 8, so there won't be time for anything else.  I'll be finished with Canton Sunday evening and have to leave again Tuesday morning for Red River Revel in Shreveport, LA.  I'll go via my parent's farm in the Troup area of Texas where I'll drop my son, Stefan, off for a visit with his grandparents.  My part of the show runs Wednesday through Saturday.  It'll be after midnight before I finish packing up so I'll stay over until Sunday. It's likely I'll stay until Monday at my parents so we get a chance to visit.

I'm just hoping I can fit Stefan and his stuff into the car.  Usually the show stuff takes up every available space.

I've spent two days just getting things printed and working on the earring cards.  Plus I made some new rings. I hope to get a picture of some of them up in a post.  a couple of new rings

(Okay, this was supposed to be posted about three weeks ago, but better late than never.)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Trunk Show at the Calico Cat

I'm busy getting ready for my trunk show at the Calico Cat.  The Calico Cat is a fantastic  store in the Uptown Forum in downtown Greenville.  I love the Flax clothing line that they carry, and the Baggalini bags and purses.  

Here's the write up from one of their newsletters.  Thanks!

Leslie Todd Jewelry Trunk Show on Thursday & Friday, September 17 & 18.
Leslie Todd JewelryLocal artist Leslie Todd works with semi-precious gemstones, pearls, coral, shell, glass and other materials, adding sterling silver, copper, brass and gold-filled touches.  Find just the right piece to finish an outfit or build a look around one of her necklaces, bracelets or earring sets.  Either way, you won't want to miss this beautiful jewelry!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

M and L Studios

M and L Studios (Martha and Me) is the new name of our Canton Booth/store. Going south from I20, it's in the Canton Marketplace building on highway 19 before you get to the old section. If I can figure out how to put a map up I'll do that.

We also have a blog here.

We're in booth C122. We are offering 10% off to all customers who mention reading about it in a blog. This offer is good during the October 1st Monday Trade Days in Canton TX, October 2-4, 2009.

There are literally thousands of vendors at Canton Trade Days so come on out. Our building is the only one with heat and AC, and we are open from 8 am until 8 pm. The rest of the vendors close at 5 pm. Check it out.

Learning New Techniques-- Hammered Copper Bangles

I purchased several gauges of copper electrical wire at hardware stores and I just made my first cuffs and bangles using the wire. I used an article by Kim St. Jean in summer preview 2009 issue of Step by Step Wire Jewelry for instructions (Bodacious Copper Bangles).

I used 8, 6, and 4 gauge wires.

I cut the wires into various lengths for cuffs and bangles. The bangles are all extra large size. This is so I'll be able to wear them. I very rarely find a commercial bangle big enough to go over my hand.

The next step was annealing the copper. I had never done this before. I was worried about dropping the hot wire on my foot when I quenched it so I dug my Doc Martens out of the closet. Probably I should have worn pants too, but it was about a 100 degrees outside. I did have eye protection and gloves.

annealing copper wire

I enlisted my teen-aged son, Stefan, to take pictures. The sun was so bright that Ralph had to hold a piece of cardboard up to shade the work so I could see the orange glow. I used a fire brick that Ralph made a while back, after he figured out how much the shipping was on the bricks. Ralph kept saying things like, "I hope my brick doesn't explode." The brick was dry as a bone so I can't see why he thought it might explode.

annealing copper wire

I torched the first wire until it had a nice orange glow, let it cool until the orange faded, then used pliers to pick it up and drop it into a pot of water. Ralph scared me by immediately reaching in to the water with a bare hand and pulling out the wire. I didn't realize that the copper cooled so quickly.


The wire went into the water completely black, but as it cooled bits of the oxidation flaked off revealing pinkish red areas. The top wires have been quenched. The bottom ones are before annealing.

before & after annealing

Stefan and I both picked up one of the annealed wires and accidentally bent it. That's how soft it got. I had no idea the change was that great.

After annealing I hammered the wires flat on top and bottom with a planishing hammer and then used various texturing hammers to add interest to the bracelets. The ends of the wires were pounded flat into paddle shapes. The 8 gauge wire was formed into a serpentine shape before hammering. The serpentine shape was something I wanted to try. It isn't in the article. I had to anneal one of the thicker wires a second time to finish texturing it.

copper wire after hammering


The bracelets were then annealed again. After this I shaped them using an oval mandrel for the cuffs and a round mandrel for the bangles. I also used a file to clean up the ends a little and round off the paddle shapes. I was going for rustic rather than "fine".

After shaping I put them in a pickle made of vinegar and salt, rinsed, and brushed them with a brass brush.

I used some silver wire for a rivet on the bangles. This was the first time I had done rivets. I did not ball the end of the wire as the article instructed, mostly because I was tired of cleaning the scale off. I don't have a draw plate either, so I used pliers and a regular anvil. I just hammered around the end until I mushroomed it. I lashed one of the cuffs with silver wire. This was a real pain. I had trouble tucking the ends under. I then antiqued three of the bracelets using liver of sulfur. I really liked the way they looked after that. I put several coats of Renaissance Wax on the antiqued ones.

bangles and cuffs

I still have one more rivet to set. I'm going to put Art Clay on two of the remaining bracelets.

three bracelets after antiquing

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Change a Life at Kiva

I've been loaning money at Kiva, a microfinance organization for some time now. Everytime I get a loan paid back I reloan it. I just made my 15th loan today.

This one went to Martha so she can expand her soft drink business by adding some other products. My part of the loan was just $25.00. Other lenders made up the rest.

This is a good way to help people help themselves. Check it out. Change a Life.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Antiquing with Billye

My friend Billye and I went antiquing on Tuesday. Martha was coming with us, but had something pop up at the last minute. (Read her blog here where we went antiquing earlier.)

We went to The Back Door in the nearby town of Caddo Mills. The business area on Main Street is about a block long and The Back Door takes up a large part of it. It's chock full of vintage, antique and new items. I'm quite sure I could go back tomorrow and see lots of things that I missed the first time, even though we spent about three hours going through the store!

sewing cabinet

This was my favorite find! It was labeled spice box, but had clearly never held spices. I think it's more of a sewing cabinet, but who knows? I'm in the process of clearing out a room at the house for my jewelry studio and this is going in there.

buttons, beads,& chandelier crystals

Next up I found these wonderful buttons and beads. The ones in the middle are cobalt glass buttons, kind of unusual. The crystals were in the cabinet so the owner said they went with it. What a bargain! Click on it for a detailed view at Flickr.

sugar mold

Martha's been wanting a sugar mold for paint brushes in her studio. This one just looked like it should be in her studio, so we got it for her.

I also got three interesting postcards that I'm going to use in some mixed media art one day.

Billye has recently moved and she got some great things for her house. Altogether we had a fun day.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

New Texturing Hammers!

I got my hands on some patterned hammers recently and have started playing with them. Each hammer has two faces with different patterns. I bought one from Beaducation and the other at a show.

pattern hammers

pattern hammers 2

I textured some copper washers that I bought from Harbor Freight. The washers don't have a huge surface area and so don't show large area of pattern, but they are inexpensive to practice on.


Right away I whacked my finger. OUCH! I was bleeding. Maybe tomorrow I will have a patterned bruise. Just kidding--sort of.

textured copper washers

These were my favorite two patterns. The one on the left is made with the square faced pattern and the one on the right is made with the hammer face with the narrowest lines.

textured copper washers

I couldn't get a good picture of the other patterns. After my initial experiments I worked with the wide-striped hammer some more and got a much better looking pattern with it. The circle pattern hammer makes marks kind of like water and is pretty cool.

I could tell that if I hammered for extended periods of time this would aggravate my carpal tunnel. I get much less vibration in one hand if I use a tool to hold the washer in place. (Plus my fingers are out of range of the hammer.)

Most of these pieces will end up in earrings or bracelets. I textured both sides of the washers, although one side gets flattened a little when you textured the reverse.

Next on my list of metal work is stamping words on metal and etching copper.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Dragonflies and Cats

There's a huge dragonfly that has been hanging around my small backyard goldfish pond. I went out with my camera and got some pics.

blue dragonfly

I had to wait a long time for him (her?) to land on this flower right in front of me.


playing with feet

Scrappy made this difficult.

ouch! the claws!



I did get some good shots though, IMHO.

waiting for prey

Here's one of the water lily. It's getting ready to put on several more blooms, hopefully all at once, so I'll be shooting more of it.

new lily bloom

I have a lot of news so stay tuned for more frequent posts.

As always, more pics and better detail at my flickr account. Just click on the pics.