Saturday, March 19, 2011

Book Review: Kumihimo Wire Jewelry

I was happy to receive a review copy of Kumihimo Wire Jewelry: Essential Techniques + 20 Jewelry Projects for the Japanese Art of Braiding by Giovanna Imperia.  I've done a lot of different sorts of weaving and have been looking for ways to incorporate weaving with wire jewelry. When I heard about this book coming out I was eager to see it. There are other kumihimo books, but this is the first kumihimo wire jewelry book.

One of the great things about Kumihimo braiding is that it doesn't require an expensive loom.  All of the designs in the book can be done on a Kumihimo disc or plate.  These are widely available for under $10.00 with kits including bobbins starting at $12.00.  If you do have a Kumihimo stand (loom), you can use it instead. 

The projects can be done by novice braiders.  There is a great deal of technical material in the book that also makes it attractive to more experienced braiders. Both solid and hollow forms can be made, and braids may be round, flat, square, lacy, or other shapes. They can be made of all fiber, all wire, or a mixture. Beads can be incorporated into the weave.  The braids can be used as necklaces to hold pendants, or as the necklace itself.  I found the designs done on the square plate to be particularly interesting.  Three dimensional and bi-directional designs can be made by rotating the plate 90 degrees and manipulating the weave.

The book is well done and profusely illustrated with both diagrams and color photography.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Day Six at Adorn Me: Carnivale Time Party!

Sunday evening was the Carnivale Time dinner, desert and entertainment.  Attendees were also invited to compete for a 1st prize Visa gift card with an item  made in one of the classes. 

After dinner and desert the instructors (Lorena Angulo, Thomas Mann, Stephanie Lee, Keith Lo Bue, Kim St. Jean, and Melanie Schow) got together and looked over all the entries. Then Thomas Mann announced that for the first time the instructors had decided that instead of one first place there would be a 1st and 2nd runner up. 

2nd runner up was Carol Graves with her beautiful necklace done in Kim St. Jean's Memorabilia Necklace class.  Unfortunately my pictures are pretty poor, but the necklace was made of mica sheets encasing seeds, a seed pod, lichen, fibers and other things. I really liked her selection of unusual items, especially the pod and lichen, and the way the seeds were sandwiched in the mica.  I loved the way the items fell around Carol's neck when she was wearing it.  All the items perfectly balanced and complemented each other in shape and color.  Congratulations, Carol!

Next up was the 1st runner up:  ME! Here's my finished necklace from Keith Lo Bue's Precious Little class. I named it Urban Tribe.

"Urban Tribe"

The first place winner was Lynn Bacon-Trzcinski with her Found Object Ring done in Keith Lo Bue's Precious Little class.

I was happy to see Lynn win.  I think her piece was technically the most difficult piece in the competition because of the things she had to work with. Unlike most of the students at Adorn Me Lynn does not have a jewelry background.  She is a woodcarver.  She showed us some pictures of some of her work which is very detailed. She came to Adorn Me to broaden her artistic horizons.

Lynn had to make her ring from 3 things: the sunflower stalk she found outside, the drawer handles that were discarded by another student, and a bracelet she had brought from home made of small beads strung on elastic. She was a little stymied at first in class when Keith wouldn't let her use glue or wire to hold it together.  Instead, she pegged it with bits of wood! The sunflower stalk was very difficult to work with because the center wouldn't hold things stuck into it. Lynn persevered though.  She took the drawer pulls apart and nested them.  Bits of the hardware from the pulls were utilized elsewhere in the ring.  The bracelet was strung around to make the band, and parts of it were worked through the stalk and up into the knobs to hold them on. Bits of stalk or wood were feathered and run through the top of the knobs for an organic flower look.  The ring has an overall organic look: the knobs remind me of some fantastical flower or lichen.  

Here are a couple of views.

Congratulations, Lynn!

The evening ended with a magical performance by Jamie Salinas. His magic act was superb.  And he was very funny.  If you ever get a chance to see him in action you are in for a great time.
As you can probably tell I had a great time at Adorn Me and hope to attend next year. 

My next post will be a review of a new book, Kumihimo Wire Jewelry by Giovanna Imperia.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Day Five & Six at Adorn Me: Precious Little

Saturday and Sunday I had Precious Little with Stuffsmith Keith Lo Bue. This was a two day class so I'm covering it in one post.  I'm kicking myself now for not taking more photos, especially of the cool things the other students made.  It's easy to just get caught up in what's going on in class and forget photography.

Saturday one of the first things that happened was we had to get a plastic bag and go outside and forage for stuff.   None of us were prepared for the cold front and very windy weather that had hit Houston so we ventured out after putting on warmer clothes.

There were a lot more things out there than I thought there would be.  Who knew the parking lot was so loaded with nails? Fortunately this was a part of the parking lot that isn't used. The hotel was only built a little over a year or so ago so there was still debris from the construction.

Here's my stuff, minus the things I used later and the section of rebar I found:

potential "stuff"

Back inside we were instructed to select 3 things from what we had brought to the workshop from home that we didn't think we'd use and discard them on a table. Then we all took turns picking from the discards.  I picked three nails discarded by Pedro Quintero from Venezuela, and a grouping of small driftwood from the east coast (okay, I confess, I cannot remember the other student's names), and a sewing machine bobbin.

Then Keith told us to make something wearable (or that could be held up for at least a few seconds like we were wearing it) using only one of the things we found outside, one thing we brought from home, and one thing we took off the table of discards. If one of the three things was wire, for example, we could use other wires because it was all one type of thing.   Oh my...what to do?

I had found two things that looked like nails on steroids.  Keith told me they are spacers used in concrete block construction. I started playing with them and the three nails and worked out a pleasing arrangement for a necklace.  The thing I used from home was black annealed steel wire.  I had no choice in that since I had to have something to "string" the necklace on.

The "nail" spacers were completely covered in rust when I found them. Sandpaper, then various dremel attachments took the rust off. It was a surprisingly good feeling watching the metal reveal itself.

My first thought was to weave the wire into a collar.  I did a couple of rows of this but the big spacers wanted to turn in the weave so I took it apart and wire wrapped it.  One of the things I had to do was fix the pieces where they wouldn't fall out if the necklace was turned upside down.  The two big spacers needed something in front to balance them so I used some rebar wire to make coils.

This is what I ended up with and the end of the day:

found object necklace work in progress

At the end of the day we presented our jewelry to the class and discussed our process of making the jewelry.

All of the other students made impressive wearable items and demonstrated considerable creativity. Some made more than one item.  Particularly interesting was a ring made by woodcarver Lynn Bacon-Trzcinski. More about her ring in my next post.

I was also very impressed with a brooch made by another student. Once again, I apologize for forgetting names.  The brooch was constructed of a couple of bottle caps if I remember correctly.  She had chosen a brass dog "id tag"--not the usual kind, but a brass capsule that screwed apart.  There was a split ring on the tag.   She constructed the pin for the brooch from the split ring on the dog tag.  I would never have been able to do that.  If I'd thought about it I'd have dismissed the idea as impossible. She did say the split ring was the very devil to straighten out. This is very creative thinking.

Keith asked me if I would have made the same piece without the restrictions.  I think the restrictions actually helped me--I'd have spent too much time deciding what to do and use and wouldn't have learned nearly as much or gotten as close to a finished project as I did. I'm going to use this idea in the future--not all the time--but once in a while to push myself. I have a lot of trouble "coloring outside the lines."   I also have a tendency to procrastinate and over-engineer things.  I found that working this way was very satisfying. 

Sunday we were given the assignment of working on something that had some aspect of autobiography, or continuing on the project we did on Saturday.  We also spent time learning the proper way to drill holes in metal, glass and other items. I now understand why my drill bits would only work for the first two or three holes. I think I'll be using a lot fewer drill bits in the future.  I had never drilled glass and I feel that I can do that now.  Here Keith demonstrates techniques for coiling the rebar wire, which handles a little different from the usual jewelry wires.

Keith Lo Bue at Adorn Me 2011

I got a little design work done on my autobiographical piece done, but no construction.  It did finish up the necklace I started on Saturday.

Keith Lo Bue is featured in the current issue of Belle Amoire Jewelry and his jewelry is on the cover. It's a geat article.  Check it out:

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Day Four at Adorn Me Part B: Vendor Night!

Friday evening was vendor night at Adorn Me. In other words: awesome shopping opportunity! The line at the door started early.  Bren and I were among the first in line.  As soon as the doors opened we went straight to Richard Salley's booth.  It was kind of funny because the people in front of us went straight to Richard's booth too. We were women on a mission. We were all after one of Richard's dimpling tools.   I'm not sure what he calls them but I used one to make the dots around the heart in my mixed metal Milagro pendant (previous post).   Bren and I got the last two of the tools he had.

Many of the instructors were selling their own jewelry or various other products.  There were also other vendors.  I purchased several rubber stamps from one of my favorite stamp companies:  Lost Coast Designs.  Most of them I'll use in etching.

I also got these cool bits and pieces from Nothing Ordinary Antiques & Oddities. My favorite is the bug pin in the middle. She's missing a leg but she's still got it going on. I love the long cut steel beads on her wings.

goodies from Nothing Ordinary

These cool beads were made by Carmen Anderson of Carmen Anderson Designs.  They are polymer clay. The bottom ones will probably be earrings but the birds will go into necklaces.

beads from Carmen Anderson Designs

Bren and I both got some enameling supplies at Spring Beads. I got some "clear for silver" that will let me enamel on brass.  I need to order some colors now and get to enameling.

There were 22 door prizes given out during the vendor event and Bren and I both won! Bren won a copy of Susan Lenart Kazmer's Cold Connections and I won this lovely chain mail bracelet.  The bracelet was made by Dale of Dale's Jewelry.

chainmail by Dale

Bren was pretty lucky earlier in the week--she won a daily drawing and got to take home a cool tote with plastic storage boxes.

We also enjoyed meeting Stephanie Lee and TheMan (her husband) in person.  Bren and I both feel like we already know her after taking her great online metalsmithing classes. Bren had a class with Stephanie later on Saturday.

Day Four at Adorn Me Part A: Mixed Metal Milagros

Friday I had Mixed Metal Milagros with Richard Salley. Milagros are small religious charms used in many Latin American countries, particularly Mexico and Peru.  They are also quite common here in Texas and other parts of the Southwestern United States. Read about them here.

Richard told us he was inspired by Lorena Angulo's beautiful hearts and other jewelry to make his own "Milagros." (Lorena was also teaching at Adorn Me. I hope to take a class from her someday.)

We did some torch enameling in this class in addition to using mixed metals. Here's Richard Salley demonstrating torch enameling.

Richard Salley

 I had a copy of a gem tintype that I used in my pendant, along with a scrap of etched brass that I sawed into a frame.  I used copper and brass.  The flaming heart was sawn from copper and enameled.  I left the copper showing in the heart with the color from the torch instead of pickling it. 

Waiting for My Love

Everything in this piece is riveted or put together with micro-bolts. The young woman looks likes she's waiting and she has an introspective expression on her face.  I imagine she is waiting for her beau, who perhaps is off on a trip or gone to war.  I call this pendant "Waiting for my Love."

Friday, March 11, 2011

Day Three at Adorn Me Part B: Band Groupie

Thursday evening was Band Groupie with Melissa Manley.  Bren and I were both in this class.  Melissa is a great teacher and is so much fun in class. She really sets everyone to ease and explains things well.

 Melissa had a handy chart to help us determine how long to cut the ring stock for a particular size.  Of course, despite measuring twice and cutting once, I still cut mine one millimeter too short.  This represents 1/4 size if I read the chart correctly.  Next time I'll cut to the side of the line instead of right on top of it.

We textured our rings, bent them into a "D" shape, and then pick soldered them.  I had never pick soldered so I was pleased to get some experience with this.  The rings were then shaped, bevels filed and some polishing and antiquing was done.  I was able to wear my ring, just not on the finger I had intended! My seam was looking pretty good--not showing at all--until I antiqued the ring.  I think a little more polish work will take care of that.

Bren's ring

This is Bren's beautiful ring. Below is mine:

my ring

I used my hammer to gently texture the edge of my band. Now that I'm home I'll do some more polishing and put it in the tumbler for a while.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Day Three at Adorn Me Part A: Creating Hollow Forms in Color

Thursday was Creating Hollow Forms in Color with Susan Lenart Kazmer.  This was the first time I had done any enameling.

After some instruction from Susan I attempted counter enameling of my copper domes.  Counter enameling is the enamel put on the back of the piece.  It's intended to strengthen the piece so it doesn't get bent later, causing glass to pop off. 

The biggest problem I had with this was dropping the little pieces before I got them to the torch.   I did finally get the backs torch enameled. 

The line for the torches was long so I switched to the kiln for the fronts.  I experimented with various colors and  also enameled a key, and the tips of some copper wires. The copper wires were done with the torch. It's a lot of fun seeing the colors pop out after firing.  At first everything is dark but when it cools, or after you quench it, the color shows. The color on the enamels can change with each firing.  The brown looking piece is supposed to be Victorian Red.  The backs of the domes, in particular, would have benifited from additional firings if I'd had more time. Each piece was fired twice, except for the wires which were fired 4 or 5 times each.

Here's my completed piece:

enameled necklace

You can see I had a little trouble getting the enamel out to the edges of the copper. I'm definitely going to be ordering some enamels so I can work on the technique.

Bren, meanwhile, was in Keith Lo Bue's Weathering and Distressing class learning how to make things look old.  She came back with some boxes with handmade wire clasps on them, distressed down to the wormholes.

Up next:  Part B: Band Groupie with Melissa Manley.

Day Two at Adorn Me Part B: Texas Art Asylum

Road trip! Wednesday after class Bren and I made a little road trip to Texas Art Asylum. I read about it about a week before Adorn Me and was excited about checking it out.

The Texas Art Asylum is a creative reuse center.  If you aren't familiar with what that is (I wasn't) it's basically a recycling center that recycles things for people to make art with.  Isn't that an awesome idea?

It's an incredible place.  There was a whole wall of cigar boxes, some of which I'm now wishing I had brought home with me.  There were lots of baby dolls and baby  doll parts, old jewelry, mysterious parts, tiles, etc., etc., etc.

I was so busy shopping I pretty much completely forgot to take any pictures until we were leaving.  I snapped this shot of some incredible artwork by David Pilgrim.

artwork by David Pilgrim

It lights up and the center cone shaped part rotates when you pull the chain. Pilgrim teaches some classes at the Texas Art Asylum.

Just to give you an idea of what's there here are our finds.

Bren's booty

This is Bren's haul.  That's a  great crystal necklace and a pearl strand with a lot of vintage crystal roundels, among other things.

Leslie's Loot

Here's my loot. I managed to leave my center punch at home so I used this antique one in classes.

more Leslie's loot

These finds add to my vintage and antique photo collection.

We had a great time at the Asylum and I hope to get back there.  Check them out HERE on Facebook.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Day Two at Adorn Me Part A: Repousse without Pitch

Wednesday was Repousse Without Pitch, taught by Richard Salley.  I found that I really liked doing this. The tools that I made on Tuesday worked well, although I see that I need to make a few more. I did a bird in flight for my pendant.

work in progress-frontside

Instead of pitch we used a non-hardening clay.  Above is the pendant piece taped to my bench block for some more work on the outlining. The black is from annealing the metal with a torch.

work in progress-backside

Basically the design is outlined on the front, then turned over and placed on the clay where punches and other tools are used to move the metal into a relief. The backside is shown above.

work in progress-after patina

Here I've finished the repousse and have patinaed the piece.  I didn't have time to complete the pendant.  In the corners you can see where I messed up the first stamp I tried and stamped over it.  Probably I will cut all that off.  It's a little big as is anyway. I did use one commercially made stamp to do the stippling in the background, and a small liner that Bren made. All the rest of the work was done using the tools I made in the tool making class.


Here I am doing some lining.

Repousse class

Bren is doing some lining. Bren did two pieces and colored them with the torch.  She got some amazing color on them.  I wish I had a picture of her work.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Day One at Adorn Me

I'm in Houston for the week attending Adorn Me! Today was Tool Making with Richard Salley.  My roomie Bren and I were both in this class.  We're also taking the Repousse without Pitch class taught by Richard tomorrow.  The idea is that we use the tools we make today in the class tomorrow.  I had a little anxiety about whether I would get some tools made for the class tomorrow.  It turned out that making the tools was quicker and easier than I thought it would be.  At the same time some things I thought would be easy turned out to be a little tricky.  We got to play with power tools!  There were several bench grinders with various grind stones and polishing wheels, plus a couple of belt sanders. 

Bren and I both agreed that the line tools were easy.  I tried a teardrop tool and it was harder.  I used a file to cut straight lines across the face of one tool, and deepened the cuts with my saw.  This made a 4 line stamp. It was really hard to get the face of this tool squared so it would stamp correctly.  It's still not perfect, but it's usable. One clever student in class did a set of tools that make a dragonfly about 3/4 of an inch long when put together.

Bren's tools:

Bren's tools

My tools:

My tools

L. to R.:  short line tool, long line tool, square punch, teardrop punch, round planishing, round punch, 4 line stamp.

I also did a curved line.  The middle of the line came out a little wider than the ends so it looks a little like a waning moon, or the curved end of a flower petal.  I decided I liked it that way so I left it.

Here is Bren with instructor Richard Salley:

tool making class

We've both taken classes from Richard before.  He's an excellent instructor. The class also included hardening and tempering of the tools, and twisting the middle of the tools to give it a decorative spiral and a place to hold it. Bren and I haven't spiraled any of our tools yet.

Susan Lennart Kazmer set up a store right before lunch.  Here's a shot of the crowd around their booth.  Maybe I'll do a little shopping there this week.