Fresh Baked Designs

Adventures in jewelry making

Thoughts on creativity… May 31, 2019

Filed under: Archives — Fresh Baked Designs @ 2:58 pm

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about creativity.  Specifically, my own creativity and my process.  I think everyone is creative in their own way(s) and their creative process can be very individualistic.  No scientific research here, just my own musings about myself…fancy word is metacognition.  Why do I do what I do and how do I go about it?  Have you ever thought about these things?

I came into jewelry making late in my life.  Actually the year I retired from teaching elementary school at 57 years old. At that time I had no idea that I would become so passionate about it and truly enjoy the making and the learning.  I sometimes wonder who I’d be and what I’d be doing now, if I had discovered jewelry making at a much younger age.  And sometimes I feel that I won’t have enough TIME left in my life to learn everything I want to learn about creating jewelry or something else entirely new I haven’t even thought about yet. There is an urgency to my quest. And maybe that’s why I sometimes feel like my attention is so scattered.  Like dog who sees squirrels everywhere and wants to chase them all.

But TIME cuts both ways… In one way, I have less time, but in another perhaps more important way, I have more time now.  I have more time in retirement to explore, take classes, and practice what I’m learning. It is a gift that not everyone has and I do not want to waste it, but use it with all the gratitude I have.

For me, creativity starts with CURIOSITY.  I remember being fascinated with jewelry pieces in shows or museums or shops and thinking…How did they do that?  Where did they start? What did they do next?  What materials did they use? I wanted to turn the pieces over and upside down to investigate all the parts. Trying to imagine their process. My curiosity extends to many things in the world.  Cooking, sewing, art, architecture… I try to break things down into smaller steps. Take them apart in my head and then put them back together.  I am happy and excited when I follow where my curiosity takes me.

While I continue to pursue jewelry making, I can and do take the time to get side tracked, whether it’s getting to know my cast iron skillet and get creative with recipes or discover the joys of watercoloring notecards and envelopes.  I can’t seem to get enough of watching and learning what watercolors do on paper!  I get ‘itchy fingers’ if I don’t spend a little time each day with paints and paper.  I fall asleep at night thinking about what I want to try the next day…  Sound familiar???

 

cards 12

 

These next two are my attempts to copy what I’ve seen on Pinterest.  Again, trying to figure out how the artist accomplished what they did. Colors, layering, techniques, supplies… I am very grateful to all the artists who post on Pinterest, share tutorials, and write blogs about their own experiences and experiments. We all benefit in our own understanding and helping others learn.

 

winter woods

watermelon

 

The last little bit I’ve learned about myself in creative pursuits is that I like SOLITUDE and SPACE. While I do like the camaraderie of other people in classes and occasional craft parties I get “testy” when I’m interrupted, either by people or events (phone, doorbell, etc…) Not pretty.  I remember going to a Beading Party night at the local bead shop, where everyone brings their projects to work on.  Lovely people, fun atmosphere.  But I quickly discovered that as I got into my project of making wire wrapped rings, I got very quiet and focused. Kind of tuned out everyone around me. While I did make a dozen rings that night, the others probably thought I was a pretty unfriendly sort and glad I didn’t return. I also like lots of space to get out all my supplies before I start.  While I have a lovely room for all my stuff, I tend to like to take over the kitchen island and all the counters as well.  And the laundry room. I savor my alone time and space to really dig in and create stuff. It always amazes me how much time passes when I get ‘in the zone’. Four hours gone in a heart  beat.

 

Exhibit A… work bench evidence of a messy ‘creative mind’. Project left-overs, jewelry to be re-created, and projects-to-be. Yikes! Someday, it will again be used to make things, instead of a repository of stuff.

 

work bench

 

So there you have it.  My few thoughts about my creativity.  It starts with having a curious mind about the world around me and beyond me. It flourishes with time.  And bears fruit with solitude and space.

How about you?  Have you thought about your creativity?  Where does it start?  What is needed for it to flourish and bear fruit?

I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

Two for the road… May 14, 2019

Filed under: Archives — Fresh Baked Designs @ 7:41 pm

I have one craft fair commitment this spring out at the lovely Summers Past Farms. They have a one day Lavender Festival on June 8th.  I wanted to include many of the PMC pieces I have made in this event.  So here’s the newest finished necklaces…

 

Honey Bee with citrine chips. Haven’t decided yet, but I might go back and oxidize this pendent. 

Homey bee PMC

 

Honey bee PMC 2

 

 

And a patterned heart with turquoise chips

turquoise heart PMC

 

 

Heart PMC 2

 

All findings on these fine silver pendants are either sterling silver or fine silver.  I have two more weeks of class and did invest in another packet of PMC.

Stay tuned…

 

Surprised? I am! May 3, 2019

Filed under: Archives — Fresh Baked Designs @ 11:45 am

I have been sharing the last few posts about working with PMC+ Silver.  When I hear that many jewelry makers are very hesitant to start working with this medium, it is almost always about the price.  I get that!  A 25 gram package of the stuff is over 50 when you include the shipping charge. And a shock when the package reveals a small lump of clay.

Today, I want to share with you what can be made with that puny little lump…  I hope you will be pleasantly surprised, just as I was. Some of these pieces were shared in the previous posts and some were made this week in class, where I used the very last bit to made two more.  I was able to use up every little bit of the clay…no waste.

The very first piece I made from this package of PMC+.  I learned that it was much thicker than it needed to be, so I reduced the card thickness for the others.  

Save more clay!

PMC heart

 

Next three pieces finished.  That’s four!

 

PMC trio

 

Next one.  Are you still counting???

 

PMC star

 

Nice bee medallion made using a stamp for wax seals.  Larger than a nickel, smaller than a quarter. Thinking I’ll make a chain of these honey citrine chips for it.

 

honey bee

 

And lastly, this sweet little charm made with the very last little bit of clay.  Just used my finger to press it into the center of a larger silicone mold of a shell design.  This one is mine!

 

Nautilus

 

Et voila!  How many did you count?  Seven, you say!  Right you are!

So here’s my take away…   For an initial expense of about 50 dollars, I got seven great, unique pieces of FINE SILVER to design with.  That’s somewhere around $6.50 each.  I initially thought I’d be lucky to get three pieces, but am thrilled to have these seven.

If you are still wavering, consider sharing a package with a friend and explore this stuff together.  Or try out a smaller package and test the waters.  Let me know if I convinced you to give this a try…or at least put it on your to-do bucket list.  

 

 

 

 

more PMC … April 14, 2019

Filed under: Archives — Fresh Baked Designs @ 1:54 pm
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A quick share today with some more finished pieces.  The three pendants were created in class and then finished up at home.  

 

The star…

PMC Star 2

Charms of turquoise, pearl, mystic blue quartz, garnet, and a 14K gold filled seashell.

 

 

The cross…

PMC Cross 2

 

PMC Cross

 

The stamped pendant…

PMC collage

After the clay was stamped with a design, I added the heart with a syringe filled with slip.

 

 

And here’s a pic of the backs of cross and the star to show how I added the bails.  They were made from 18 gauge fine silver wire and soldered onto the pieces.  

PMC backs

 

If you’re keeping a tally, this is five finished pieces from one 25 gram package of PMC+. And I think I have enough clay left for one more.  So if you thought, like I did, that this material is too expensive for you to try, maybe have another look.  If I can get six fine silver pieces from one $48 lump of clay, I’d say that’s pretty great!

 

 

PMC finishing April 8, 2019

Filed under: Archives — Fresh Baked Designs @ 1:13 pm

Last week I posted some recent work with PMC+ material.  For those who found that interesting and helpful, here’s a few more pieces.  Again, my technique is pretty simple and straightforward.  Roll, texture with a stamp, cut out a shape, dry, sand, and torch fire.  Fun!!  That said, there is a world of other techniques to explore with this clay.

This first photo shows two pieces I made a couple of years ago. Again, smaller pieces for pendants are very easy to torch fire without the use of a kiln.

 

PMC pendants

 

And then, back to the bird’s wing pendant I made last week. This shot shows the back of the piece.  If you are going to set a CZ stone, it is advisable to cut a hole first, so the stone can be seated down into the clay. ( Gotta love Starbuck’s tiny coffee straws)  If you were to just push the stone down into the clay, it may ‘push’ out the clay and distort your design.  The clay’s got to go somewhere!

 

PMC wing 4

 

Then to finish the pendant with a bail, I needed to solder on a fine silver jump ring.  This prove to be the most stressful part of this project.  Teacher Pam suggested I file a groove into the top so that the bottom of the ring could nestle down into the pendant.  So I did.  Then, I sweat-soldered a good amount of solder to the bottom of the jump ring, before soldering the ring to the top of the pendant.  Pretty sure this helped me in the process, because I wasn’t sure how to balance all this and keep the solder exactly where I wanted it to stay. A third hand stand was very useful to keep the piece upright and still. It worked!  The jump ring bail is nice and secure.

 

PMC wing 2

 

The cross in the middle of the next photo was my very first PMC creation.  Again, no fancy or difficult technique.  Go back and connect to your inner childhood and play-doh memories.  I just rolled out teeny, tiny clay snakes and put this together.  Again, a stamp was useful to add texture and interest to the design.

For final finishing, I really like to file any rough spots I might have missed before firing. Oxidizing really brings out the beauty of textured pieces.  And then an hour in a tumbler or a good polishing does wonders to the finished jewelry.

 

Three PMCs large

 

So, there you have it!  Easy, peasy.  If you’ve been wanting to try PMC, it’s very doable at home with a simple torch, a few tools or stamps.  I highly recommend watching a few how-to videos on youtube or Beaducation’s site.  

Here’s to new adventures in your jewelry journey!

 

PMC pluses… April 3, 2019

Filed under: Archives — Fresh Baked Designs @ 2:28 pm

I love PMC +.   PMC+ Silver is just one of a variety of precious metal clay products, but this one is great for what I am currently doing in class.  Easy to work with, less shrinkage, and easy to torch fire small pieces like these I am sharing today.  By the way, the final product is fine silver, so no tarnish issues (at least for a long, long time).

 

PMC heart

 

 

The heart was as easy as making sugar cookies…  Just rolled out the clay, gently rolled it on a rubber stamp, and used a small heart-shaped cutter (like for poly clay work).  The hole was made with a thin coffee straw, like from Starbucks.  After drying, the piece was lightly sanded with an emery board to smooth any rough edges or spots.  After torching, the finished piece was oxidized to bring out the stamped design.  Learning:  it was thicker that it needed to be.  Fine silver is heavy.  I used 5 cards thickness for the clay, but will try 4 thick next time.

 

PMC wing

 

This next piece was made in class last night.  This time I wanted to add a cubic zirconia stone. Most CZ stones can tolerate torch firing, so you preset the stone before that step.  Pretty much the same procedure as the heart…rolled out the clay to a 4 card thickness this time.  Used a rubber stamp with a beautiful bird wing, then cut around the wing design with a fine xacto knife.  Set the stone using some slip in a syringe (with shaking hands!)  Again, after firing, the piece was oxidized to bring out the delicate design.  The last step still needs to be done.  I want to solder a fine silver jump ring to the top.  Teacher Pam suggested I file a groove in the top to nestle the jump ring in a bit and use more solder than I normally would. Learning:  this pendant-to-be is still a little thicker than needed.  Maybe my cards are thicker that normal playing cards.  I’m going to use only 3 cards in my next try.  Or get a new pack of cards!!

 

 

 

Win, fail, and learn… March 22, 2019

Filed under: Archives — Fresh Baked Designs @ 1:38 pm

It’s been quite a while since the last post. A post full of New Year’s hope and aspirations with bezel setting some stones.

I think it’s time for an update… Some failures, a win, and still learning.  Which means I’m still alive, I guess.

First up…I wanted to try setting a large oblong Labradorite for a ring with a wide band.  I think this was doomed from the start because I used sterling sheet metal that was too thin for the backing and the band.  I did try out adding texture to the backing in a rolling mill, but ended up sawing most of the design off because it was just too big.  The rolling mill also thinned out the metal even more and it just felt sharp on your finger.  The metal  also made a pretty flimsy band that I thought would not harden enough to be comfortable or functional.  Poor planning, I know.  But I did learn some things about matching the metal thickness to the task. Also I knew the bezel band was tight on the stone and ended up being too tight to fit after it was soldered down on the back plate.  Final kicker that had this project end up in the scrap heap.

unring

 

Unknown

 

In class we tried our hand at tube setting a stone…a 5mm CZ.  I picked out a pretty Alexandrite CZ.  The ring was made from double half round wire.  I soldered the ring and  then sawed down the middle channel to open up the two bands.  After measuring and making the bezel tube, it was soldered to the ring.  Then, I used a drill to make the ‘seat’ for the stone in the bezel.  After setting the stone, it was polished well.  It just so happened that I had lunch with my oldest granddaughter the next day.  And it just so happened that her birthstone is Alexandrite.  It just so happened to end up on her finger.  A win!

 

Tay's ring

 

Last is something I made yesterday at home.  A smallish green stone…not sure exactly what it is.  I was interested in making a setting that had some interesting elements, like stamping and using wire for embellishment.  All was going beautifully, until I accidentally mashed the bezel wire in two places when pushing the wire wrapping down.  Yikes!  I tried my best to repair the damage, but it was too smashed.

Choice time…scrap this setting too or continue to use it as a learning project.  I still needed to figure out how to solder down the wire wrap and I can always use more practice setting stones and polishing finished pieces.  I also used a jeweler’s saw to cut out the back so that the light might penetrate the stone??  More practice with the saw is always a must for me.

Green stone

 

Green stone 3

 

Of course the bezel part of this piece looks terrible, but maybe I can think ‘rustic’ or ‘organic’ or ‘one of a kind’ to describe it.  Those two bloopers just would not smooth out no matter how I worked on them.  Oh, well.  I do like the bezel embellishments and will definitely used those again.

 Meanwhile, I’ll enjoy wearing this little necklace because it taught me so much! Kind of like when I was teaching, it was those students, who might give you the most challenges, that sometimes end up catching your heart the most.

I plan to continue my bezel/stone setting work this spring, but also looking forward to sharing some PMC pieces with you.  We are going to be working with PMC+ Silver in class this next session.  Yeah for learning !

In preparation for the class, I viewed a fantastic video on youtube from Beaducation.

Here’s the link if you are interested in watching.