dabbling in a new medium

hey there, readers. i know it’s been ages since i posted…please do forgive my absence! my mind is a scattered mess these days. trying to organize my thoughts can be likened to trying to tee oneself out of a sand trap–not terribly graceful or effective. the summer has been busy–full of travels and family visits–and hence, it has been a struggle to keep tabs on my days and keep them structured. the summer is winding down, though, so i feel a little more anchored as cooler days approach, and my favorite season tempts me with its inevitable, yet gradual arrival.

by the way, i finally climbed out of a full-fledged creative funk a couple of weeks ago, and finished some new pieces for the shop. if you haven’t seen them, come take a look! you can find them here.

now, if you know my work, then you know that i have a love affair with history and nature, and i dig vintage. something else you should know about me is that i have a major soft spot for watercolor. it is one of many art forms that my creative self longs to explore and master. andrew wyeth is one of my absolute idols.

when i decided that i wanted to dabble in painting with my jewelry, i chose gilders paste. i wanted vibrant colors that i could blend to create a watercolor effect, and i think i made the right choice. don’t get me wrong–it has been trial and error as i acquainted myself with the medium, and there is a pile of failures stowed away in a plastic bag to remind me that Rome wasn’t built in a day.

among my myriad of hubrises, i tend to be rather impatient, so this whole endeavor was a major study in patience. just so you know, i am accustomed to using a chemical darkener that works in seconds, and a hair dryer to move things along. raw brass comes in a rough state, full of edges that need to be filed, and machine oil that needs to be scrubbed off. the prepping process often leaves me mumbling under my breath and sighing. a lot. so much so, that i tend to skip at least the scrubbing process and just heat it and dunk it. done and done.

well, when applying color, i had to concede to not cutting corners. i needed maximum adhesion, which meant that i needed to prep the brass by drilling it, scrubbing it in soapy water, filing the rough spots, AND roughing up the surface a little with some fine steel wool to get it ready to prime. yes…in order to achieve the effect i wanted, i found that i needed to use a primer. two coats to be precise. and these coats need at least 24 hours to cure.

the gilders paste itself requires 12 hours to cure, and needs around three coats to achieve the opacity that i was after. in true jewelryvixen form, i set about to shave some time off the process, and discovered that a food dehydrator could shorten that time by half, so i picked up a cheap used one on ebay. amazingly, in my desire to hurry things along, i found that the low heat of the dehydrator actually made a more durable finish on each coat, which makes things SO much better, all the way around. score!

i’m not quite ready to debut the finished products yet, because, well, they’re not quite finished. i am very close, however, and i am crossing my fingers that you peeps will adore them as much as i do. 

gilders paste_2 smaller

whew! that was crazy!

ok, i had reaaaaallly good intentions of blogging before my holiday show, but i was a bit delusional then. i’m all better now. promise.

the show was wonderful! i met so many lovely people who are dedicated to making and shopping handmade. i am hopeful that some of the happy shoppers will return to shop with me online, and that i can contribute more to the network of awesome peeps who showed up. i’m not really thrilled with my smartphone photos, so i won’t show you the depths of my genius setup. i will tell you that my husband built me some awesome displays that got tons of compliments. the whole thing still needs some finessing, but i was pretty happy with how quickly i was able to set up and tear down.

i will also say that i am very grateful that i worked so hard to build stock for the show, even though i didn’t quite reach the unrealistic goals i had in mind. this is the most stock i have had on hand since before i got pregnant (and horribly sick) with my daughter. it has really helped with my stress level, since christmas shopping is so thrown off this year by a late thanksgiving. a bunch of items in my etsy shop are marked READY TO SHIP, and it puts a smile on my face when i can just grab the piece and package it up immediately!

there is still time to shop with me before christmas hits! i can also upgrade your order to priority mail, so convo me through the ‘contact’ link in the listing, if you need it quick!

i am looking forward to the new year, as i already have some new concepts and techniques filling my head. i am also hoping to get a bunch of old supplies listed to sell, so i can begin clearing out my stash! trying not to get too delusional about how much i can accomplish once the holiday season is over. haha!