Friday, February 25, 2011

Book Review Friday - Steel Wire Jewelry by Brenda Schweder

What a week this has been!!  It started with an ice storm on Monday and ended with a blizzard on Friday.  I decided to take today off for a little peace and quiet.  Lou hopped a plane to Florida to golf with the guys today…hence the peace and quiet for me.  And of course we get a huge snow storm that dumps over a foot of snow when he’s gone and of course we still don’t have the snow blower fixed.  But our neighbor was an angel today.  He cleaned the driveway for me with his snow blower.  So I made some jambalaya and barricaded myself in for the weekend.

I get a number of books to review and I don’t have time to do them all.  I do the ones I really like and the ones where I have some experience to give an opinion.  Steel Wire Jewelry: Stylish Designs * Simple Techniques * Artful Inspiration by Brenda Schweder is a book that I really like.

It’s no surprise....I like wire work, I like alternative metals, and with the price of gold and silver these days who doesn't need another option of materials to work with.  This book is fun and inspirational (like the title says).  The 35 projects range from whimsical to sophisticated and include directions for basic jewelry pieces…necklaces, bracelets, rings and earrings but also ways to capture focal pieces that can be incorporated into these pieces. Looking through the projects I started thinking about the numerous focal pieces I have sitting in my studio and realized I now have a way to display them that doesn’t involve having to solder a bezel setting or trying to capture them in metal clay.
Below is a necklace from the book.  It shows how a really unique found object focal piece can be captured by steel wire to embellish a spiral steel wire necklace.  I like how Brenda uses spirals in the necklace echo the spiral on the tip of the found object.

I love bracelets, I love this bracelet, and bracelets aren't something I have managed to incorporate into my work with bronze clay yet.  But I can see making bracelets with wire like this and using a variety of items as the focal piece.  I have a number of lampwork beads that would look fantastic and I can start using up my huge stash of beads.  I also like the width of this bracelet.  I usually wear multiple bracelets or something with width. 

Now that I have you salivating for the book....I have a treat.  I have an extra book that I will give away.  Just leave a comment on this blog by next Friday (March 4th) and your name will go into a drawing for the Brenda's book.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Mother Nature's Gift

Now that the ice storm is over we get to look at Mother Nature's gift.  Today was a sunny, cold, blue sky day.  The trees that are covered in ice look like beautiful glass sculptures drapped in silver and diamonds.  Simple bushes were turned into amazing pieces of art.  I took some pictures on things in my yard.  In person....magnify the beauty of these pics by about 100. 


Monday, February 21, 2011

Cleveland Ice Storm

This is what Cleveland woke up to today. 

We woke up at 4:30 this morning to branches falling off the trees and smacking the house.  During the night we got freezing rain....a lot of freezing rain.  For an hour we kept jolting awake until finally there was so much noise on the roof that we both got wasn't Santa Claus and his reindeer. 

Lou walked outside and brought in a handful of branches that were coated in 1/4" of ice.  When the wind kicked up it was snapping off the branches and the weight of the ice was splitting trees in half.  We got lucky in that it didn't split any of our trees or have any large branches fall on Lou's car (we only have a 1 car garage and its mine...LOL).

Other's weren't so lucky.  Besides the down trees and branches there are 25,000 houses that don't have electricity.  We are on the good side of our street.  We are fine.  On the other side of the electricity since 4AM and the estimate is that they won't have power until Wednesday night. 

Wednesday it is suppose to be 36 degrees and 42 on Thursday.  Here's to Wednesday.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Found Objects from....Latvia

I found a store on Etsy, Alchemy,  that has some great found objects.  Lots of door hardware, keys, coins from Russia, old clay tags, small license plates.  I couldn't resist buying a few things so I can mold them for bronze clay.

 Small license plate in the center

 Clay tags

Door hardware that will work great with resin

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

A love lock on the Pont des Arts in Paris.  It's a wooden footbridge across the Seine.  Couples place a lock on the bridge and toss the key into the Seine.  Of course the city comes along every so often and cuts them off.  But for a while, a symbol of your love is locked onto this bridge in one of the most romatic cities in the world. 

I don't know when this started but we discovered them the last time we were there.  Of course we didn't have a lock...but I vowed that the next time in Paris I would place a lock on this bridge.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Book Review Saturday...Soldering Made Simple

At work we are going through employee evaluation time. Part of the eval process is coming up with career development goals…something we want to learn, a skill we need to develop.  After 13 years on the job I’m finding it hard to come up with goals. When it comes to jewelry design there is a never-ending list of goals. This year I’ve decided that I want to learn how to bezel set stones. I’ve done it before but not to any extent where I’m proficient at it. I have a stash of Gary Wilson cabs to work with so I picked up Joe Silvera’s book and DVD on Soldering.

Soldering Made Simple: Easy techniques for the kitchen-table jewelerSoldering Made Simple: easy techniques for the kitchen-table jeweler. I’m not so sure I like being referred to as a “kitchen table jeweler”. I prefer artist or artisan…what’s the difference between those two terms?? That's a topic for another day.  But I guess when it comes to soldering that is exactly what I am as I have neither the set up nor the tools to do it.

This is a great book. It is very thorough. It covers the tools you need and how to work with them safely. Joe goes over torches – how to fill them and how to light them. There are some great pictures that show the difference between an oxidizing, neutral, and reducing flame and when to use them. He covers various soldering surfaces and what they can be used for. Joe covers the different solders and when to use them, flux, pickle, and how to deal with fire scale.

Joe also shows you how to set up your workstation with safety in mind. He includes diagrams that show the various heating patterns used to soldering different configurations of metal. These help increase your understanding of how heat flows and where to direct it to successfully solder.

Besides soldering, Joe covers annealing metal, hammer, filing, drilling, sawing, making jump rings, polishing and patinas. I really like the polishing sections because he shows you various attachments for the flex shaft and gives an explanation of how they can be used.

There are 12 projects ranging from simple earrings to charms, pendants, rings, bezel setting stones, making beads and creating a box clasp. I really like the ring projects but then I’m into the idea of making rings right now. One is a great textured ring with borders and the other is a bezel set turquoise featured on the cover.

Also included in the book is a section on how to choose bezel wire, sizing a ring and a great chart which tells you how long to cut your ring blank based on ring size and metal gauge. I could have used this last fall. I made a ring in a class held locally and cut it too small.  It’s now a pinky ring…a tight one.

Soldering Made SimpleJoe also has a DVD that is a great addition to the book. Reading and pictures only go so far. Watching the process adds another dimension to understanding the soldering process. The DVD follows the book as far as tool explanation, safety and work station set up. Joe walks you through the creating of a necklace and pendant starting with simple jump ring soldering, to melting silver to make a ball, sweat soldering, forging, and soldering near beads with step by step explanations.

I’m glad I got both of these. There are a great addition to my library.

BTW....I am taking a stone setting class with Joe in June at Bead and Button.  I'm excited!!!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Blizzard of 2011

It's times like this that makes me wonder why I don't live further South.  But I've lived in Northeast Ohio all my life and you just learn to take it in stride an go on with your day.  Cleveland did not get hit as hard as some other parts of the country.  And I could have gone to work today without much trouble....but I woke up and decided it wasn't happening.  I e-mailed the boss (who was working from home today) and let him know I was taking a PTO day.  I curled up with the cats and enjoyed a little R&R.  Watched TV, watch a soldering DVD, enjoyed my jambalaya I made Monday night. 

Now the driveway is full of snow and the snowblower won't start.  Typical wouldn't start two weeks ago.  Normal people would have taken it for repair....not us.  And my in Vegas....with his golf clubs.  He actually extended his stay because they were cancelling all the flights.  He won't be home until tomorrow and by then I will have to go to work.  So tonight I backed my SUV out of the driveway.... multiple times to pack down driveway :))  Hey....why shovel when packing it down works just as well. 

Here are some amazing shots from around the country (found them on

 Do you remember the movie "The Day After Tomorrow"? Dennis Quaid played a climatologist who predicts climate change that freezes the entire northern US/Europe....there was a shot in the movie that showed a satellite image that looked alot like this.

Cars stranded on Lakeshore Drive in Chicago

 How many of you can make your car stand on it's head??

 This guy must really need to be somewhere!!

 The dog's name is Muldoon.  Muldoon's owner needs to be whipped for leaving him out in the snow while he went for a cup of coffee.

Things will get back to normal tomorrow.  I will go back to work, Lou will come home and we will just slog throught the next 6 weeks until it decided to become Spring once again.   Oh...and Punxsutawney shadow.....early spring.....I think it's time for some groundhog stew!!