Monday, March 28, 2011

Old work, new direction

I made this piece almost 20 years ago! It's huge, about 2.5" in diameter (65mm) and the cost of the silver alone would be well over $100 these days, though back then it was probably $10 - $15. It's totally fabricated from sterling sheet, I sawed, I used my pitch bowl and repousse' to give the cheetah form, I chased the details in, and did a whole lot of soldering. Phew! I didn't keep track of how long it took but it was a considerable amount of time.

I've been wanting to do some personal pieces lately, so I've been looking at my work from the olden days, when my livelihood wasn't dependent on selling my work. I've always been fascinated with dioramas and boxes, and much of my older work reflects this. I've been kind of stuck as to what I want to do though, because while I'm sketching and pondering my designer voice invariably takes over and beats the poor artist voice back into submission. Doing this for a living has really changed my creative process. Not that it's a bad thing, I just approach it very differently than I used to and I'm finding it difficult to switch gears.

My friend Lora Hart, teacher and jewelry artist extraordinaire, has recently started offering mentorials on her Etsy shop. I figured she might offer a good perspective on my dilemma so I decided to give it a try. I'm very happy that I did. She offered me some really excellent advice and thoughtful insights and I'm feeling unstuck and ready to create some things just for the sake of creating now - yay! I highly recommend her! You can find her shop here:

I've already started on my first personal piece, I'll post it here when it's done.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Custom hawk start to finish

I did a custom piece awhile back for someone who wanted to see my process,
so I took a few photos along the way.

 I started with her hawk photograph.

I created this black and white artwork from the photo.

Then I printed the artwork onto special paper and transferred it with 
heat to a brass sheet that has been cleaned and sanded in
preparation for etching.

I etched the brass and used it to make an impression in
my precious metal clay.

I fired the piece in my kiln at 1650 degrees for 2 hours and out came
a pure silver hawk. Here it is finished and ready to wear.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A little Photoshop goes a long way...

Taking good product photos is probably the hardest thing about selling your work online. I use a Fuji Finepix  S1500, which is inexpensive and is in between a point and shoot and an SLR. Honestly though, my photos are not so hot right out of the camera (helpful hint: don't have your photo studio in a room with pale green walls if you can help it!) but I'm fortunate in that I used to do a lot of product photo editing in my former day job, so I'm quite well versed in Photoshop. I use two daylight balanced bulbs and a piece of white nylon fabric as a light tent to diffuse them.

The top photo has only been cropped, while the bottom photo has had cropping, rotation, skewing, levels and curves adjustments, hue/saturation adjustments, dodging, burning, sharpening and blurring. It sounds like a lot of work, but for me it's faster to do the work in Photoshop than to fuss with the actual photo taking. I recommend taking an online Photoshop class to really get a good feel for it. I did several semesters online at my local JC and it was well worth the time.