Greetings, everyone, and thanks for visiting my blog! I know I've been promising to catch you all up on what's been happening here, but you know how the holidays can just make everything get away from you. I hope that you all had a happy and healthy holiday season this year. Now, before I get any further, you better run and grab a snack and a beverage and settle in, because there's a lot of ground to cover.
First of all, I'd like to announce that there is a sale currently going on, both on my website (which I would prefer that you use because the fees are less for me, LOL) and on Etsy. You can enjoy 15% off of orders $100 or more until January 16, 2019. Use the coupon code NEWYEAR2019 when you check out from my shop on my website. Below is a picture where to enter the code. It's really teeny on there, and my web host doesn't allow me to modify and make it bigger.
You can also go to my Etsy store and shop, if you don't feel like fooling with coupon codes. Either way is fine. I just wanted to show a little appreciation for all the support I have received in this crazy endeavor this year. It's been quite a ride, and I thank you all for coming with me!
The next big announcement is very exciting, and I've had a time keeping it a secret up until now. I am pleased to announce that I was accepted into Studio C gallery, located within the Arts Center of Corpus Christi. Selected pieces will be shown and available there for sale from May 18 to August 23, 2019. I'm planning on making a few pieces especially for that exhibition, in addition to my usual musical instrument and woven wire jewelry. I'll keep you posted. I'm looking forward to having my work there, as I really enjoy the Texas Coastal Bend region (and I'm always looking for a reason to head down there to Corpus Christi and Port Aransas, ha ha!).
Another big announcement is that I'm going to do my first out-of-state show in Las Cruces, New Mexico in March. I've never driven that far west before (although I have flown to California multiple times, but that is a story for another day), so this should be a real hoot. I'm also planning on visiting Santa Fe, New Mexico to see what I can get into. The Las Cruces Arts Fair will be held at the Las Cruces Convention Center March 1-3, 2019. If you're in the area, come see me!
In other news, I thought you might like to see a new technique I tried. It's called hollow form. Basically, what you do is, instead of casting or using a solid piece of silver to carve, you form a framework and make a bunch of solder joints to make a solid piece. In this way, the solid piece is a whole heck of a lot lighter, although it is a bit more work. This particular ring is a size 11-11.5. It's made from sterling and fine silver, and the stone is Cumpas turquoise. In addition to this being my first hollow form piece, it's also my first flush set cabochon. That was a feat of engineering in and of itself. I wish I would have taken more pictures, but I was too excited to get the piece finished to think of photography until it was too late.
This is, I think, the most informative of the pictures I took. To make a hollow form ring, first you have to take a piece of whatever metal you choose to work with (in this case, sterling silver) and form the inside part of the ring. This is the part that determines the ring size. You solder that to a back plate. Then you take a second piece of metal and form the outer portion of the ring. In this case, I used fine silver because it's easier to bend, and I honestly wasn't sure how it was going to behave if I used sterling (and, to be honest, I really didn't feel like doing a whole lot of annealing). I soldered the outer portion to the ring plate. Then, because I wanted to flush set a stone, I somehow managed to solder a thick base plate of sterling for the stone to rest on. There was a lot of measuring involved, and also a lot of breath-holding. I balanced the narrow piece on the back plate and soldered it in place, hoping it would be even. I think next time I do this, I'm going to come up with a better plan. Once all that's done, the real work begins. And yes, in case you were curious, I used only hard solder for this project so I could practice good flame control, and also to make all the seams as invisible as possible.
Once I pickled the base plate and the soldered-on components, I drilled a hole and sawed out the middle of the ring. I didn't take a picture of this step, because I was impatient and wanted to get all that done. I put myself on a deadline to finish the piece before I gave my cats their nightly tuna treat, and they are very quick to let me know when it's tuna time. Once that was done, I soldered the piece to another base plate of silver.
If you look closely at the above picture, you can see that there is a space between the base for the stone and the top base plate. There is a reason for this!!! When you make a hollow form, you must allow for air trapped inside to escape, or your piece can rupture, or worse, explode all over the place. Nothing like blazing hot silver shrapnel in your face, right? Right. So that's why I left an air space. I didn't fancy getting a face full of molten metal and ruining all my work. Anyway, once the second base plate was soldered together, I sawed out the center of it and began the tedious process of filing and shaping the inside to get rid of the excess silver. Once that was done, I filed and shaped the outside. I decided to put a matte finish on the silver instead of make it shiny, just for the sake of variety, and also because my cats were howling at my studio door by the time I got to the point of setting the stone.
I had to shape the stone a little bit, because the fit was a smidgen too tight, but the depth was just right (go me!!!), so once I had the diameter corrected, I popped the stone in and burnished the sides over the top to hold the stone snugly in place. This was a fun project, and I think I'll do another one at some point.
I'd like to finish out this blog with some gratuitous Christmas treat pictures. Not shown: bags of decorating frosting that exploded, powdered sugar everywhere, cats meowing at my feet. Well, okay, there are two gratuitous kitty pictures
Once again, I'd like to thank you for visiting my blog. I wish all of you a happy, healthy, safe, and prosperous 2019! See you next year!