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Saturday, June 14, 2014

A New Technique

This morning started off like any other.  I gathered my first cup of coffee and received a text message that my house friends were going out early.  That's my clue that I can use the hammer inside the house.  My hammering can be annoying to those within ear shot, so I usually go outside.

I gathered my idea and materials and began a long over due project.  My friend Cindy was very generous and gave me some alphabet and number stamps.  She also requested that I practice using them while making her a bracelet.

I'm so darn fugal and didn't want to practice on an actual bracelet blank, so I cut a few pieces of metal from some scrap copper.  From the videos that I've watched, you're supposed to hit each stamp a single time.  I must not have enough force in my hammer swing because I found it necessary to whack away at least 5 times.  A learning curve I guess.

After I did a bit of practice on the scrap metal I did some measuring to get my words in some sort of alignment.  I was imagining running out of space on the bracelet blank, or being lop sided.

While stamping the letters, the metal decided to curve.  It became increasingly more difficult to hammer with the metal on this angle.

I turned the curved metal over and began to hammer it flat.  I used the regular hammer and not the rawhide hammer (duh!).  This caused some marks in the metal, luckily on the edge.  So I went with the mark and continued it as an artistic element.  Then I trimmed the metal to curve the corners.

Time for some serious sanding.

Now for more sanding with a lighter grit.

Sanding, sanding, sanding

Now I 'thought' I was ready to shape the bracelet into a cuff.  - WRONG !!

Yeah, this dummy forgot to anneal the metal.  The metal had gotten really hard during all that hammering, so it made it impossible to curve.  Insert panic!

I toted the materials outside where I fired up the torch and annealed (softened) the metal.

I flattened the soften metal with the rawhide hammer.


I'm diggin' the colors that the flame left in the metal.  I could remove it if I had pickle, but pickle hasn't made it to my studio.  (I need to shop.  Don't laugh, but I don't know what pickle looks like or where to buy it!) Originally, I was thinking I would use liver of sulfur, but now it looks like this is the finished color.

Here she is.  She needs a coat of Renaissance wax to keep the colors from changing.  The Ren wax is hiding from me somewhere in the studio.) Then I want to put her in the tumbler to harden the metal.  It's still a bit soft.

I am now storing my jewelry in air tight bags to keep the patina from changing.  I am using a small hand held food vacuum sealer and their specially designed zipper bags.  I just put the little hand held vacuum over the 'spot' and it removes the air inside the bag.  Since it's a zipper type bag, I can open and remove jewelry and then reseal it with the vacuum.

The bottom line is I'm okay with the results of this cuff.  I can do better!  I think I prefer to do chemical embossing.  I think the letter stamps are a definite asset to the studio, but in specific applications.  At least that's what I think now.  I've been known to change my mind.  Giggle!

Thank you for stopping by and reading along.

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Saturday, June 7, 2014

Intention and I'm DONE With Spring / Summer Fairs

Today's message is 'intention'.  From now on I will always ask 'What is the intention of the people in the environment.' There is a lot written about the power of intention, but it usually speaks of our personal intention.  For example, my intention at a fair is to make profit.  But, the writers and philosophers and motivational speakers/writers haven't communicated (to me) that intention is a two way street.  Those people that surround you and are part of your life, those people have an intention.  So, they too are working towards a goal.  Getting into their thoughts and figuring out what their intention or goal is will help us/me to get to my intention or goal.  The bottom line is my intention was out numbered during these fairs (below). There was a lot of  'lets have fun' intention out numbering my 'lets make sales' intention.

Who's intention is bigger?

The writing was on the walls!  If only I had looked!  I try my best to be positive with my blog posts.  I write them to lift up and to enlighten those of you who want to read along, as well as my personal journal. However, life in the jewelry business world isn't always positive.  Sometimes a learning curve can't be read about or heard about, sometimes it needs to be experienced.  Psst psst...get that sour taste out of my mouth!

Before I rant, I want to express that I wasn't alone in the lack of sales and profits.  All of the other vendors that I spoke with had the same unsuccessful experiences.  If I hadn't spoken to these lovely people, I might have succumb to the belief that my jewelry is bad and not desirable.

Leesburg Spring Fling, March 1, 2014

On March 1st I did an indoor fair at the Ida Lee Parks and Recreation facility in Leesburg, VA.  I made enough sales to cover the cost of my booth space ($150), the gas and mileage on my vehicle and the materials I used for the jewelry that was sold.  I lost the money for my labor time to make everything, the time for setup and breakdown, etc. There were thousands of people.  Sounds good, right!  Wrong!  They were window shopping.  Let's face it, we were barely out of February a very cold and snowy month. Folks had cabin fever and just needed a place to go that was warm, dry and out of the house.

Warrenton Spring Festival, May 17, 2014

On May 17th I set my tent and booth up on the street for the Warrenton, VA annual Spring Festival.  Again, I made enough sales to cover the cost of my booth space ($145), and the materials for the jewelry I sold. My labor time was lost.  Again, there were thousands of people.  There was good music in the air, laughter in my ears, friends visited me in my tent.  I had fun!  But, went away putting a lot of work into this event for no profits.

Warrenton Spring Festival, May 17, 2014

Last night, June 6th.  I participated in Warrenton, VA 1st Friday event.  These are held the 1st Friday of each month through October.  The main street is completely closed off to traffic.  There is live music.  The shops and restaurants open their doors.  Tents line the streets.  The cost is reasonable at $20.  But, even that was not recovered in sales.  Nope!  Not one sale!  People were there to have fun.  To celebrate the end of a work week and the beginning of a weekend.  They wanted to eat, drink and be merry.  And that my friends is what they did.  So I won't be doing any more 1st Friday events!

Of course I am not giving up.  My jewelry has proven to sell and to sell well.  It's all about (wait for it!) Location! Location! Location!  And with location comes the right time!  And most importantly the shoppers must have the spending intention! So I will continue to stock the shelves and sell in the galleries and museums and gift shops.  People go to these places with the intention of buying.  And, I will fill my inventory for those with the intention of shopping during the fall shopping season and of course my Etsy shop.

Thank you for reading along.  I'm going outside to enjoy this remarkable day that is full of sunshine, a light breeze and a freshly brewed cup of coffee.

Have a joy filled and creative day,

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