31 October 2011

Happy Halloween

It's almost 4 pm already and I haven't put out my few minimalist Halloween decorations yet. Had to upload these photos first. L said putting a costume on Jerry would be cute overload and I went along with this and didn't buy one, even though Petsmart had some really cute ones (I can see, though, that a cute costume on a cute dog is definitely overkill). So, instead of putting out the everlasting light-up pumpkins and hanging little pumpkins in the trees, I looked for fabric and cut out a big bandana for Jerry. Now he's all set.
Halloween is not just my favorite holiday (I don't have to cook, although I do try to clean up the hallway a bit), it's definitely Jerry's. He thinks all the kids come only to see him and it takes him quite a while to settle down at night when the doorbell has stopped ringing.
We're pretty much ready, though - except for the decorations, of course. There's way too much candy (and I've been pretty good so far (probably because I'm counting calories yet again)), there are princess rings and cute little plastic bracelets (none of which fit me, zut alors!) and there are my all-time favorites: little Matchbox cars. This year, though, I won't let the kids pick, it takes them forever to make up their minds. I'll just reach into the bowl and pick something for them.
Let the fun begin!
Happy Halloween everybody!

13 October 2011

Pretty it isn't

Still experimenting, not just with enamel and technique, but now with "tools" - and I use that word loosely.
Yesterday, I made the above pendant, using my centerpunch to make those bumps. I used two coats of black enamel (actually, my counterenamel) and one coat of red and I quite like the effect.
I figured, it would be better to find another type of tool because that centerpunch really isn't meant to be whacked this hard with a hammer. So, bring on the nails, really big nails, deck nails is what my husband calls them. Perfect! They don't just make bumps, they leave holes if I hit them hard enough and often enough. Case in point, the slightly blurry blue pendant below. Same technique: two coats of black, one of blue, lots of heat.
Then I went for my favorite colors: an opaque light bluish-green topped with a layer of Nile green transparent and lots and lots of heat, so much so that the opaque comes through the transparent. Love that effect, although, it might be time to move on to something else. I mean, how many of the same does one need?Same basic technique, with a dark-grey under white. I was hoping for more distress which I got below .............Now that's what I call overfired. Here I actually used just white, fired like crazy from underneath and then moved the flame to the top. Love, love, love the effect, but really: pretty it isn't.And just to show that I learned something new: the above photo shows that you can zoom with an iPhone. I learned that from a teenager this weekend (should hang out with some of those more often).
Now, I really need to buckle down and work my way through the videos in my online class with Deryn Mentock ......... and study some French. I probably should have scheduled my classes just a little better, oui?

My new favorite book:

A few weeks ago, while surfing the web and looking for links to torch fired enamel, I discovered Barbara Lewis' website - http://paintingwithfireartwear.blogspot.com/.
It's not just a website, there are links to video tutorials, a link to her shop and a link to an online forum - a ning. I'm not much of a joiner (of anything), but I joined the forum and have found it tremendously helpful. Experts and beginners alike, all very willing to share what the know and are discovering, and Barbara herself answers questions very knowledgeably.
As if that wasn't good enough, she's written a book: Torch Fired Enamel Jewelry, which is available from her shop and through Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Torch-Fired-Enamel-Jewelry-Workshop-Painting/dp/1440308861/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1318523382&sr=8-1). Total eye candy, the kind that makes you want to drop whatever you're doing and go play in your little studio. I don't yet have the right kind of set-up, but I've improvised and it works.
There is a blog tour going on at the moment to promote the book and it includes giveaways of some pretty fantastic prizes. Obviously, I'd love to win, but I get a real kick out of seeing what others are doing with copper and glass powder. So inspiring!
Today's blog tour stop is here: http://www.prettythingsblog.com/2011/10/torch-fired-enamel-virtual-book-tour.html

06 October 2011

What's new on my bench?

Nothing finished, just lots of components - and lots of little pots full of enamel powder with test rings on top waiting for a little tag with number and name.

I played some more with overfiring, but I have a feeling neither butane nor propane get hot enough to give me the effects I want. The pictures above and below show the same pendants. The colors just show differently. The purple piece is closer to the picture on top, but everything else is shown truer in the picture on the bottom.
I tried various things here, crackle enamel - I don't think that worked. Although, I was surprised to see the top layer kind of shrinking into puddles, most obvious in the circle pendant in the top picture.

These little discs are the beginnings of a sort of charm bracelet. I'm playing with shades of blue and green opaques with a layer of transparent on top. I can already tell that the combo on top is my favorite - the combination I used makes a lovely turquoise.
I'm beginning to wonder if I shouldn't keep a kind of journal where I jot down colors used for future reference because I can't for the life of me remember the name of the opaque I used in that piece.

03 October 2011

Busy, busy, busy

Today's Monday, that means French class tonight. Yes, I'm trying to re-learn what I used to know. It's an enrichment class, which means no serious homework, no tests, no finals etc. And I am under no illusion that a 3 months class will be enough to get back to where I was many, many years ago when I had taken French for 4 years - with daily classes. But it's fun and I've completely fallen in love with the sound of it - language discs in the car, an online class through the library; all in addition to the one-night-a-week class through the Adult School.
I'm also doing another online class with Deryn Mentock - http://somethingsublime.typepad.com/jewelry_works/. Two months, this time. I signed up in plenty of time. Lots of videos to be watched whenever I want to. I should be able to make perfect jump rings, wrapped loops and clasps when I'm done (if I practice enough). I wonder if one can learn to design, though?
In addition, I am still completely hooked on enameling. There are so many things I want to experiment with. There isn't really the time, though, not right now. But I'll get to it, eventually. Would love to have the set-up Barbara Lewis (http://paintingwithfireartwear.blogspot.com/) uses: MAPP gas and dipping. No tedious cleaning with pickle or copper cleaner and scrubbies. But that's something I can't do in my little studio/converted bedroom; that's something that needs to be done in the garage or a larger studio with ventilation (and no carpet on the floor). Maybe someday?
Right now, it's time to do some yoga, though. And come up with more enameling projects.