I’ll Tumble For Ya!

September 28th, 2010

I’ll tumble for ya, I’ll tumble for ya, I’ll tumble for yooooooo!

Guess what I did for over 5 hours last night and will be doing again for several hours this afternoon?

Tumbling my new jewelry components!

My partner and I bought a new magnetic centrifugal tumbler, which is supposed to tumble more quickly and efficiently than the rotary tumblers.  My partner thought it might be possible that using the two tumblers consecutively might eliminate the need for wire-brushing freshly kiln-fired pieces – a tedious and sometimes hand-scraping painful necessity to creating silver clay jewelry.  She tried a combination of an hour in the rotary tumbler (half- hour for pieces with stones embedded), followed by an hour in the magnetic tumbler.  Her pieces came out with a mirror finish – no brushing!

So last night I brought the tumbler to my house and tried it, having prepared the night before by tumbling all my pieces in the rotary tumbler for an hour.  Considering that I had 125 grams worth of pieces that could not be tumbled all at once this took several hours.  I was very excited pulling the first group of pieces out of the magnetic tumbler (which I set for an hour).  Sure enough, the stoneware finish was eliminated.  However, my pieces were still fairly matte.  So they went in the rotary tumbler again for a third tumbling.  Then I tried another group of pieces, less this time, for 90 minutes.  Still matte, but better.  Next group – 14 pieces instead of 16 (about 20 the first group), for 90 minutes – still matte but better than the second group.  Lastly (although I still have more to do) I tried 10 pieces for 100 minutes and those came out fairly shiny, but I still wouldn’t call it a mirror finish.

This morning I put in 10 more pieces and set the timer for 120 minutes.  My husband is home sick for the day so I felt confident in leaving the tumbler going when I left for work.  I really hope that this time I get a mirror finish but I’ll have to wait until I get home this afternoon to see.

My partner used a particular type of dish soap in the tumbler that I am going to borrow to see if the soap I’m using is a factor in not getting a mirror finish.  All this tumbling is taking a ridiculous amount of time but it does eliminate the need for brushing, which I hate, so its worth it.  Right?

Gearing Up For Two Simultaneous Shows!

September 21st, 2010

I’ve never participated in two shows at the same time so I’m a little nervous about having enough stock.  I’m sharing with my partner for both, and my third partner is coming in on the last day of one of the shows and will be contributing some of her work as well so we should be fine.

I’ve ordered new business cards which I’m very excited about.  I’m pretty much out of the old ones, which had an embarrassing old photo (from one of my first photography sessions).

Here’s my new one:

Front of card

Here’s the back:

back of card

I’m excited and I can’t wait to get them!  I can’t wait to hand out the first one!

Arts On Foot was great!

September 16th, 2010

Arts On Foot, produced by Diverse Markets Management Group took place this past week (Sept. 8-11).  I was there for all four days and had a wonderful time.  The event was very well-organized, the staff was great and our patrons couldn’t have been more wonderful!  We met some really great people, heard great music, ate some great food and enjoyed perfect weather for the run of the show.

Our booth design has been evolving over the last few years, here is an old booth shot (from an indoor show):

From 2007 Frosty's Fair

The silhouette is my partner in jewelry.  Last year, we decided to move to shelving for the most part and this is what we slapped together:

From 2009 Downtown DC Holiday Market

Better right?  Cleaner, easier to see, easier to navigate, but very busy, and the bamboo blinds as a backdrop didn’t work as well as we had envisioned.

For Arts On Foot we had a little more time to plan and decide how we wanted to present ourselves.  We had to change some things a little bit but overall how we planned it was how it looked:

From 2009 Downtown DC Holiday Market

The green is really fresh looking and the dark espresso brown is a nice accent and combination with it.  Our silver pops nicely against both colors, which is nice.  It’s really hard to find a color that works for silver jewelry.  We got rid of the large table in favor for a much smaller one just big enough for our mirror, business cards, mailing list book, and my humongous laptop, which we use to process credit card sales.  We incorporated two “pedestals” fashioned from stools with trays velcroed to the tops for our pendants.  Overall, the booth was much cleaner and easier on the eyes, and there was little of the dreaded “butt brush issue”.

Finishing New Work – Part II – The Tumbler’s Revenge

September 2nd, 2010

So, after spending twice as long as usual in traffic on my way home from work (and I leave early, I don’t travel during rush hour) because of the hostage situation in Downtown Silver Spring affecting all the roads in my area, I finally get home – find a notice from the Post Office that my package of findings was not delivered because it required my signature, which I specifically asked the company sending it to NOT require a signature, do my chores around the house, eat dinner and settle in for a little Brush n’ Tumble.  I brushed enough silver for a couple of tumbler loads and put my first load in the tumbler.  I always put it on a towel on the floor in the upstairs living (which is on a slab) to absorb any noise vibration but I usually need to adjust it a few times during the first load of the season.  Sure enough, a few minutes later the thing was squeaking like crazy so I just lifted the whole thing up at an angle (like I usually do) to adjust the position of the barrel, which migrates and winds up rubbing against the mechanism – hence the squeak – and it stopped rotating!  I then had to search high and low for a screw driver so that I could take it apart and see what was going on.  That took 1/2 hour.  Finally, I found one, took the thing apart, and found that the little rubber ring that attaches to the motor and makes it rotate had slipped off and it was an easy fix.

So, after an afternoon and evening of escalating aggravation I finally was able to tumble one load.  Bleah.

That load was in the tumbler for over 2 hours and it wasn’t nearly as shiny as I would’ve expected.

Tonight I have two loads ready to go but I still have more that I have to brush – its going to be a looooooooong night…

Finishing New Work

September 1st, 2010

Here’s some advice:  When finishing your new metal clay pieces (pre-firing) be really careful.  I spent all of yesterday evening sanding and filing all my new work and now, instead of 68 new pairs of earrings I have 64 and two of the new “triptych” necklaces I had planned are now single pendant necklaces.  Why?  Because while I was sanding and filing several pieces broke.  Some of this was while I was re-drilling holes, some of it was while I was just sanding.  I tend to make small earrings thin as I know that this makes the earrings light weight and more comfortable to wear, but I shoot myself in the foot sometimes because all it takes is the slightest bit of pressure and the piece, still in its “leather stage”, snaps in two.

Bummer.

Anyway, I got everything fired last night.  200 grams of clay (minus a few pieces – probably about 25 grams worth) in only 3 firings!  I was impressed that I was able to fit so much onto one fire brick at one time.

And I got my least favorite part of the process over with (the sanding and filing – which I dislike because it is tedious, but also for the reason stated above).

Tonight?  My second least favorite part – brushing.  Then?  Tumble-a-thon!  Yay!  I love tumbling my new pieces because when they come out of the tumbler they are so sparkly and beautiful.

Tomorrow?  Actually making jewelry out of these new pieces!  Whoo hoo!