Stampity Stamp

Wow, it has been a very long time since my last post.  First things first, Happy New Year!  Since last writing I’ve taught a couple of Christmas ornament workshops, but alas, I have no pictures to share.  I’ll smarten up on that front!

Now on to the subject at hand – metal stamping. There is so much that can be done with metal stamping… words, images, a combination of the two. Alas, I generally have a tough time figuring out how to make them work properly.

I have a metal stamp with my initials on it to sign my jewellery, as well as a .925 stamp. I have learned not to stamp directly onto the jewellery, as it doesn’t always come through strongly, and there is no way (that I’ve found) to have a decent do-over. Instead I stamp little scraps and attach them. I like the way it looks (very finished), and if it doesn’t work, well, that scrap will become something else.

It would have been very difficult to stamp directly on this piece due to the shape.

It would have been very difficult to stamp directly on to this piece due to the domed shape.

I’m happy to report that I may have figured out how to make the stamp work for me and not against me. I was in the studio the other day, and changed up my hold on the stamp and the hammer I was using, and I was able to (miraculously) produce a very strong image. Yay! Fingers crossed that this is the first of many, and not a once in a lifetime event.

Success!

Success!

I certainly have a new appreciation for those who make stamped jewellery with whole phrases/sentences… it’s not just the lining up of the individual letters that would be tricky (and it would be VERY tricky for someone like me!), but the actual stamping technique.

I think perhaps a course is in my future… I do have some other stamps with patterns on them, and it would be nice to actually put them to use!  Respect the stampers – they’ve got skills!

Decisions, decisions…

Photographs – the current bane of my existence.

I have finally gotten off my butt and have started taking photographs of jewellery for my shop.  I should clarify – I have started taking photographs, but none of them are attractive or pleasing, and they will not be posted.  They are in focus, though, so that’s a step in the right direction!

In focus, but looks like it was taken on a dark and stormy day

In focus, but looks like it was taken on a dark and stormy day

I have found that deciding on a consistent style for jewellery photos is difficult.  And lighting… don’t get me started on that!  I’ve been looking at various blogs on photography for tips on lighting / focus / backgrounds, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I just don’t know what to do.

Many articles that I’ve read state that the best way for jewellery to be displayed in photos is with a white background, making the object appear like it is floating.  I understand that this is useful when the photo is being posted on various sites, although I don’t fully understand why (I had generally lost interest by that point in the article – I seem to have a short attention span sometimes).  I do agree, however, that the white background is best to show off the true colour of the metal and any beads or stones that are set within the piece.  The less busy-ness around the item, the better it shows.

In many cases I find the white to be dull.  There are exceptions, though.  For example, I follow @metalurj on Instagram (website:  http://www.metalurj.com/) and I consider their style of pictures to be one of those exceptions.  Their pieces are very strong and focused against a brilliant, somewhat over-exposed white background.  They stand out, even with “just white”.  The style of the jewellery works really well with no distractions, and looks stronger and more industrial for it.

Part of my problem with the plain background is due to the fact that I’m having a heck of a time with white balance – my photos are either a depressing grey or overexposed.  When the plain background is done well – ka-pow! – fabulous image.  When it is done poorly, well, there is no ka-pow… only a sad little whimper of an image.

Warmed up, but yikes - it's sure yellow!  This is with normal lightbulbs, directed at the pendant.

Warmed up from depressing grey, but yikes – it’s sure yellow! This is with normal lightbulbs which were directed at the pendant.

Using an Ott-Lite

Using an Ott-Lite.

Changed the white balance on my camera - it definitely helped, but I'm still lacking crispness.

Changed the white balance on my camera – it definitely helped, but I’m still lacking crispness.

Went a little white balance crazy with my camera.

Went a little white balance crazy with my camera.

But I have a little secret to tell you… I like busy-ness.  I enjoy an artistic shot with pleasingly placed props.  If the jewellery is in focus and there isn’t an overabundance of filters on the photo, I’m happy.

What’s a girl to do?

I think I need to start listening to what I like, and what I think portrays the piece of jewellery in the most honest and attractive way, and if the time comes that I need to do an all-white background, well, maybe that’s the time to hire someone with the right set-up who has experience taking jewellery photos.

Any photographers or jewellery picture-looker-at-ers with thoughts on this?  What catches or upsets your eye when you look at pictures of jewellery?

Salt ‘n Pepper

I love second-hand shopping… UsedVictoria.com is one of my favourite websites, and once again, it did not fail me.

Several of the jewellers/artisans that I admire use recycled sterling silver (or mixed metals) for their jewellery – old spoons, platters, etc.  I decided to take a look on UsedVictoria.com to see if there was anything available at a reasonable price.  Most of the items listed were collectibles, and they had VERY collectible prices.  Tucked in amongst those was this dear salt and pepper set.

Salt and pepper set

Salt and pepper set

The set has very pleasing and intricate cut outs on top, and are dented enough that I don’t feel guilty chopping them up.  I was concerned that they might not be sterling, but they were very inexpensive, so I thought I’d take a chance.  The woman I purchased them from said that they were marked sterling, and sure enough, they are.

Sterling mark

Sterling mark

Now I will be going through my stone collection – I’m picturing a translucent stone, with the silver over the top of the stone, but we’ll see how it goes… plans have a habit of shifting as I work. 😀

Return to Regularly Scheduled Programming

It’s good to be home, and it’s good to be back in the studio!  While I was on vacation I did a fair amount of jewellery designing, and that has continued since I’ve been home.

One of the jewellery ideas I had was around mixed metals.  I’ve always loved combining metals, but due to different melting points, I’ve been very tentative about trying to mix them in the studio – prior to learning any silversmithing I would work with brass and copper, but there was no heat involved – I was hammering it for texture and making wire or wire/sheet jewellery.

I did some reading on soldering copper to sterling silver.  I have lots of scrap copper wire, so I figured I should use it, not just store it.  I thought a bracelet would be a good item to start on – only small areas of soldering, so less worry about making a mess.  I think it worked!  I haven’t finished it yet – I’m going to try wearing it for a day before painting a patina on it, just in case it needs some changes – sometimes the fit can be a little wonky.

Here is how it is looking now… It was a little dim outside when I took the picture, so the colours don’t come through too clearly, but you’ll get the idea.

Copper and Sterling Silver Forged Bracelet

Copper and Sterling Silver Forged Bracelet

How do you feel about mixed metals?  Do you wear them?

Studio fun!

Wow… it has been a long time since my last post, but I’m back in creative-land.  I spent some time in the studio this weekend, and enjoyed it muchly.  A lot of time was spent touching up some older pieces of jewellery – resizing, adding a new patina, that sort of thing. The majority of time was spent turning a pendant into a bracelet.  Here is the pendant:

Flower pendant

Flower pendant

I’ve always liked it, but haven’t worn it in ages. The inspiration for the design was from a picture in one of Lemony Snickett ‘s “A Series of Unfortunate Events” books.  There was a picture of a grappling hook that made me want to make jewellery.  My design turned out more like a flower than a mechanical object.

I decided this was a perfect item to set a stone on.  I found a lovely little fluorite cabochon, and after a few missteps, I added on a bezel setting (I am SO out of practice!). I then hunted through my larger scrap bits for silver for the links.  I heated/melted the metal using a process called reticulation… the end result can look like a landscape, and it is totally unpredictable.  Here’s how it turned out:

Flourite and sterling silver bracelet

Flourite and sterling silver bracelet

I tend to make a new piece of jewellery prior to trips… this will be my Via Rail bracelet as the trip I won is coming up soon… yay!