Feb 04 2014

3xR & THAW weeks 2-4

Well! Here it is February! And I still need to post each weeks piece for 3xR & THAW2014 challenges!

So here we go– just going to bust these guys out.

This cute little guy was a sample piece I stamped when experimenting for a piece in silver. I liked it so much I kept it for a long while. I enameled the back, and then the front with a lovely transparent enamel that makes the copper surface shimmery and golden. I still love this cute little guy — I am not generally a “cute” type of person, but looking at this piece just makes me happy.

3xR week 2 & THAW2014-2

On to week 3! This guy also makes me happy. I am not happy with the execution — this is the first time I’ve tried to set a faceted stone in a flush setting — and as you can see, it leaves much to be desired. However, I still love this little guy. The rustic stamping goes with the “rustic” stone setting, and I look forward to perfecting this technique.

Week 3: 3xR & THAW2014

And finally, week 4! I have kind of a thing about poppies. In Virginia, there was one week in May where the exit from I-66 was awash with poppies. It was the highlight of my commute — every May I would start to wonder.. “where are the poppies? Did I miss them somehow? Did they get mown over last year and they’re not coming back?” and have a serious panic sad moment — and then a week later, there they would be, in glorious wild bloom. I miss the field of poppies – little dots of brilliant red against the green grass, right next to the roaring (or more likely, stop and go) traffic of folks traveling into DC from the burbs. Every May, right around Mother’s Day and my son’s birthday.. I think of the lovely field of wild poppies gently nodding right off of the Nutley street exit.

Ahem. Where was I? Right! The enamel tile I made late last year using a sgraffito method of enameling. First a fired base of black enamel. Then I mixed up some liquid white, painted it down on top of the black and then sifted the green on top. I used a pick to scratch through the wet enamel to reveal the black underneath. I also scratched through where the red flowers would be, and then fired. Finally, I added the red enamel for the poppies, and touched up the stems with some enamel crayon. It was a joy to do and I hope to do more.

The tile was sitting in my enamel sample box — so I fished it out and added some scrap chain, dotted with lovely lemon citrine nuggets.

Week 4:

And there we go — a full month of Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling — a Thing A Week! In February — we’ll see if I can’t blog weekly instead of a big post with everything in it!


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Jan 31 2014

Video Tutorial: Japanese 12 in 2, Enso and Shenandoah

Published by under jewelry,tutorials

Wahoo! New FREE video tutorial going on! This one is probably the one I should have done about a zillion years ago. Shenandoah is my best selling chainmaille kit – the pendant, earrings, and bracelet. I have a photo tutorial for the pendant/earrings, and now here is a video tutorial! Yippee! I also did my Enso bracelet – all of these pieces use the Japanese 12-in-2 chainmaille weave. This weave is SO versatile and fun, there’s a lot of design potential with it.

Here is the video:

If you’re interested, the photo tutorial is also right here!

And of course — you can see all of my FREE jewelry tutorials right here.

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Jan 29 2014

Reminiscing.. and gushing about Frozen

Published by under amy's head,daily,kids,likes & irks

Look! It’s Tuesday and I’m writing again! I also managed to put up a new banner. The old one said “Summer 2013 — seeing as how it’s January of 2014…. a little overdue!

After I posted yesterday, I got caught up in looking through my old blog posts. I am so happy I have so much about my children when they were little. Some of the stories I remember, and have been come family legend (this video for example… Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!! Is there a ploblem?! Oh my goodness that video KILLS ME.) Other stories have fallen behind lost to memory — except when I spend a half hour reading through my archives! This one (specifically, the barbie doll head story) got retold at the dinner table last night.

It has been a great month so far in 2014. Last Thanksgiving, we went to Utah to my sisters to have Thanksgiving with a lot of family on my side, as we usually do. At some point during our visit, we went and saw the movie Frozen. I was kind of on the fence about seeing it – actually, more on the ‘nah, i’ll see it later” side of the fence. But I went, saw the movie, and was COMPLETELY blown away with how awesome it was (and is!).

I pick my daughter Jocelyn up every day from school along with two other girls we carpool with. And every day in January, we have a ritual on our way home from school. We crank up “Let it Go”, grab our imaginary microphones, and belt it out as we drive home. Sometimes I need to circle the block until it’s finished! I haven’t been this much in love with a Disney movie since Beauty and the Beast. When I saw in the theater with the opening scene to Beauty and the Beast, I felt transported. I felt like I was sitting watching musical theater. It was so beautifully done, the music so lovely – I was in heaven!

Yup, Frozen has topped them all. I may or may not cry in at least 5 different places in the movie.

Here’s the song “Let it Go”, sung by Idina Mendel.

I ran across this parady version which totally cracks me up. It is an alto’s lament that Disney songs are always so HIGH. It’s hilarious, but I also think it’s funny because “Let it Go” is one of the LOWEST Disney songs every! The highest it gets is an E — it think it’s even an E flat — which really, is NOT that high! Still, hilarious parady.

WARNING: BAD LANGUAGE! Don’t let your children wander over and watch it with you! Ahem. Like someone might do. Not me. No, it definitely wasn’t me. Why, did my kids tell you? Dammit, I told them not to tell anyone I let them see this.

There is a Frozen Sing A Long movie that is supposed to be released this weekend. I will be there!

I’m off to cut some jump rings this morning, and hopefully get to some enameling later today. My ideas for an entire enamel collection is growing — including the basket hoops up there in my new site banner. Aren’t they the CUTEST?

Off to work.. Happy Wednesday!

-amy pats herself on the back for writing. TWO TIMES in one week!

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Jan 28 2014

New Banner

Published by under amy's head

Here it is:


Would you like to see all the banners I’ve ever done ever? Here ya go!

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Jan 27 2014

New Years Challenge – 3xR-1/52 & THAW2014-1

Published by under 3xR,challenge,jewelry

So it’s the end of January, and I have not posted at all on my blog. Doh! One of my new years resolutions was that I would try to do so more. Better late than never, right?

Another resolution I made was to make more jewelry. Not only MAKE it — but POST it. Post it on my flickr account, here on my blog, up on my site for sale… just get it OUT THERE! I have a lot of what I call.. UFOs. UnFinished Objects. Some of them are dangerously close to being done, if only I would do it.

So along with this vein, I joined a flickr group challenge called 3xR 2014. The challenge is to, “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle all the crap we have laying around on our benches and in our studios! Finish all those projects, use those stones we’ve been hoarding, take a look at that old sketchbook. Nothing is off limits here. Make as much work or as little as you choose but you need to Use What You Have.”

I also joined in conjunction, a flickr challenge group called THAW2014 – which stands for Thing A Week – I think both of these challenges will be great for me.

This is perfect for me. I have a LOT of material to work with, if only I would sit down and do it. For myself, I am including taking some of these UFOs and getting them finished. My goal is to do at least 1 a week. Since buying a kiln last year, I have slowing been building up my collection of enamels, and want to move into that direction.

So enough with the jibber jab! I actually HAVE ben making a piece a week — but they’ve sat on my bench instead of beign shared with the world. Which is part of the challenge to myself — POST THEM! So here is my first week’s piece.

It started with a sample I made in a fold forming class I took last year with Ira Sherman. I had so much fun in that class, I was determined to come home and make fold forming my life’s work (it always goes like that after a workshop!)

I choose one of these two forms:

I annealed it, and pickled it, to get off all the black oxides. Enamel needs a clean surface or the glass particles won’t fuse to the copper. The metal was initially rolled through a rolling mill with a piece of pattered paper, which caused the pattern to imprint on the metal. The hammer marks on one side of the leaf are also quite visible, so I opted to go with transparent enamel on the front. Green transparent, and a clear transparent.

You can see the imprinted pattern underneath the green enamel. I love the clear enamel too — it makes a shimmery golden surface with the copper underneath.

On the opposite side, I decided on a punch of color. Bright orange, with a very subtle lighter orange through the middle of the leaf.

Enamel is sifted onto the metal dry. You can see faint lines where I drew through the enamel to reveal the base orange color underneath. This technique (scratching through one layer to see underneath) is called sgraffito.

Overall, I am so happy with this piece. I kind of wish I had done more with the setting rather than just attaching it to the chain with jump rings, but time wasn’t on my side this time.

I have the other pieces I did this month as well — so that will help me to post again later this week!


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Dec 18 2013

Christmas with older kids

Published by under amy's head

This year our very old camcorder died. Probably right in the middle of me doing some video tutorial. But as soon as it died, my heart screamed, “NOOOOOOOOOO!” because it takes those miniDV tapes and there was a whole box of those tapes waiting to be transferred from tape to computer. How does one transfer miniDV tapes to the computer you ask? Oh, by inserting them into your camcorder and plugging it into your computer and letting windows slowly (real time) play them and record them into files on your desktop! In order to do this though — that’s right — you MUST have the camcorder.

Had I done any of that? Why no of course not! There’s always tomorrow to do that sort of thing!

Once the ability to move those tapes to a digital form had been removed, I desperately wanted to watch EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM, of course. I debating looking on craigslist for a cheap minidv camcorder, but ended up borrowing one from a friend for the weekend, and spent it going over every 90 minutes switching to a new tape.

I ended up sitting and watching quite a bit of our kids when they were wee little tykes, playing, interacting, being ADORABLE. It made me realize that those days of wonder around Christmas are nearly at an end. OK, it kind of IS at an end for the boy child — he’s 11, and way too cool for excitement around decorating the tree, making gingerbread houses, and general Christmasy merriment. It’s not that he doesn’t want a tree, or want gingerbread cookies — it’s just that he’s MUCH too old to show ANY sort of childish glee in doing these things.

Jocelyn the 9 year old is still got a bit of it. OK, a lot of it. She loves helping me make gingerbread, pestered me to “let’s decorate the tree NOW” and is generally up for any crafty (let’s face it, Christmas can be a super crafty holiday) endeavor.

I’m hoping we get to keep some of the wonder of Christmas this year — and hopefully for a few more years to come — crossing my fingers that Christmas never becomes blase in this household. If it does.. at least I can watch our home movies of Christmas when they were 3 and 5, completely wide eyed and jumping up and down with Christmas excitement.

Jocelyn at 4 years old, Christmas 2006

Ethan at 6 years old, Christmas 2006

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Dec 04 2013

Will copper jewelry turn my skin green or black? How do I clean copper jewelry?

Published by under jewelry

I get asked this question alot — especially on the hammered copper stacking rings that I make:

hammered copper stacking rings

And I gotta say, YES, turning your skin green is a distinct possibility when you wear raw copper – it depends on your body chemistry whether it will or not. However, I have found that it doesn’t turn your skin green forever — it may do so for a week or two, and then it stops — I’m not sure why — it could be that the body’s pH changes after consistent contact with the copper.

Also, in the pro-raw-copper column, many people rave about healing or helpful properties of raw copper. Now, I am a skeptic at heart (show me the data! where are the blind studies?!) (there are none!) so I don’t actually hold with this, but many people purchase the raw copper jewelry because of potential helpful properties that come from direct contact skin-to-copper, one I know off the top of my head is for arthritis — again, I don’t really believe any of it, but you could google for more info if you are interested.

A barrier between the copper and your skin can prevent any greenish smudge — one cheap way to do so would be to apply clear nail polish on the inside of the ring. However, it won’t last long — even with professional lacquers and such, the constant skin contact makes any blocking affect these have to be brief. This is why I don’t do it — also because I have lots of customers who WANT the copper to skin contact with no barrier.

If you want to be sure of no green skin completely, I’d stick with sterling or gold filled. Personally, I wear my copper ring all the time, and it’s been so long I don’t get any green fingers anymore.


Rings generally don’t need a lot of polishing, any tarnish is cleaned up by the rubbing against your skin. Bracelets, necklaces, pendants can be a different story. If you prefer a bright almost pink glow to your copper, rather than an old coppery penny look, it’s easy to clean.

My favorite way is with ketchup – mostly because with children under the age of 12 in the house, we have plenty of it! A quick dunk in ketchup for a few minutes will get rid of any tarnish.

Another way is with lemon juice (vinegar works too) and a bit of salt (1 teaspoon is plenty) in a small jar or tupperware. Place your jewelry in, making sure it’s covered, and let sit for a minute or two. VERY IMPORTANT — it only needs a minute or two — don’t walk away for a half hour — or even 5 minutes. The acid in the lemon juice which cleans away the tarnish, can also damage the surface of the metal.

Rinse and dry VERY well, and buff it up with a cloth. If the cloth doesn’t shine it up enough to your liking, you can rub with salt or baking powder to bring up the shine as well.

I hope this helps answer any questions about copper jewelry!

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Nov 03 2013

Video Tutorial: Celtic Visions Star Pendant

Published by under tutorials

I’ve had this one on my computer for a while, but my computer is so slooooowww that it took me a while to get up the patience to edit it. Here it is! Celtic Visions Star Pendant!

In other super good news, I got a new camcorder, so hopefully from here on out, the video quality will improve!

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Sep 11 2013

funny ethan comment

Published by under amy's head

Ethan: Eh. We’ll get by.

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Jun 24 2013


Published by under doodling

I am not a draw-er, or a doodler, or even very artsy. I used to paint long ago, very abstract things that just made me happy. I picked up zentangle recently and am totally in love. I still am not sure if I’m even doing it right, but the rule to most doodling is, “there are no mistakes!” which is a rule I can embrace wholeheartedly!

Here are my first zentangles — I’ve been drawn to the mandala, or “zendala” circular tiles primarily, although the last one I did on a normal tile.


My very first zentangle! Overall, fairly pleased with this. I fiddled around with something in the very middle which I wish I hadn’t done. Stark white would have been better there.

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