Idea Overload!

Two weeks ago I had some vacation time, and my younger brother and I headed out across our wee island in search of rusty crap. It was a gorgeous summer day, warm but not so hot we needed the A/C so all the windows were down and everything smelled like heaven – pine and hot sand and salt air and just… fresh and wonderful. If I could bottle all of those summer smells for you, I would! As it was, I was too enthralled to even take a single photo the whole day. Remember what it was like to live your life instead of recording it? It was delightful and I’m happy I have the memories even without being able to show you.

But I CAN show you what I found on our little treasure hunt!

Apparently, most of the antique places in Cape Breton are clustered around the middle, so we plotted a course and headed out. First stop, Baddeck. I got a few fun little pen nibs, some random metal bits, and some old keys, really big delightful ones that my locksmith dad was super impressed by – he says they were probably for great big doors.

Keyyyyyyyyyys

Next stop, the Garage Loft. An antiques shop above a literal auto shop in the middle of a gorgeous wood off a rural road, you get in by walking up a hill behind the shop and then across a few planks over a gap between the building and the hill, and then you’re in the loft! The first thing I see? This delightful wall of tools. I bought some calipers which I can see as the basis for a fantastic necklace.

Calipers and... I dunno?

And a great little metal measuring tape, which I took apart, cut off the inside-most ten feet, and put back together so it’s still usable.

A great old chunk of tape measure

I spoke to the owner and he dug out the inside of an old clock, plus the beat-up clock face. My husband is going to have fun tearing this apart!

The whole inside of a clock. It still moves!

The front of a rusty old clock

Then I came across a lovely, unsorted (my fave) box of old horse tackle. The wheels are turning with these suckers!

Horse buckles and such!

Moving along, we found a house that’s been converted into “antiques and art”, with an artist in residence upstairs and so many old typographer’s cases – some with the metal type still inside – that I was almost weeping at being too broke for any of them. My brother bought some local fiddle CDs and the guy at the desk said hey, there’s another building up back – just follow the path.

So, we traipsed up the garden path, past someone’s front door, to a garage – with a blue door – full of more tools and delights. First thing I see? A box full of more keys (the small ones are in the photo above). Next thing? A BOX OF CLOCK GEARS. A whole box. So. Many. Gears. And not little ones, either, these are 2, 3 inches across. It was like I’d won the lottery. But… I was running out of cash! It was 3:30pm on a Saturday! I was in the middle of nowhere! I was counting out as many as I could afford and finally just took the whole box back down the garden path and made an offer – which he accepted!

A BUNCH of clock parts! These are HUGE.
MINE. ALL MINE.

Last place on our list was up in Margaree, further than we’d planned to go but the day was so gorgeous there was no way we were stopping now. And I’m so glad we went! At first I wasn’t sure there was anything for me, but I found a pile of leatherworking tools I thought would be great for clayshaping.

Leatherworking tools

As it turned out, they were part of a set of other leather tools and whatnots which, since I’d bought a pile of leather belts the week before (yet another project I haven’t had time yet to start), I thought what the hell, and bought the lot!

More leatherworking tools

Then we had some delicious meatball subs in Inverness (ok my brother had a lobster one, but: ew), waded through the water at the beach, and tiredly made our way back home.

But I’m not even done! My lovely friend was going through some inherited jewellery, and gave me a box of things she didn’t want/think were useful.

Jewellery castoffs from a friend!

The patina on that silver belt alone is swoon-worthy.

I’d also ordered a few things on Etsy, and they showed up too:

Bottle caps!

Gnarly pen nibs - some used

Random rusty bits

 

So with all of this new material, plus all the sketching I’ve been doing (more on that later), and a rainy vacation with my husband out of town, you’d think I’d be showing you a bunch of finished jewellery next, right?

Well, now we come to the title of this post: idea overload. With the hot mess my studio was in and the sheer number of thoughts running through my head, I was the most ADD I’ve ever been: start this project no wait clean this section no I can’t do that now I’ve got to put these away oh but look at the project I can do with these oh but I need to make earrings for the shop but I can’t do work I have to clean but these things need to go away but I don’t know where they go aaaaaaaaaaa… and I just actually walked away.

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Aieeee!!!

I’ve since got the mess somewhat under control, and some production work, including a wholesale order, sort of where it should be. I’m hoping by my next vacation – two weeks! – I’ll be able to actually show you something delicious.

Cross your fingers for me!

Steampunk, ever evolving

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Every time I pull out the antiqued wire or dig through my box of random metal bits or make another trip to the thrift store jewellery section, I end up moving in a totally new direction than I thought I was going to be going in.

I’m certainly not complaining! It’s wild and exciting to be constantly evolving.

Brooches! They're working out I think?

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Built a whole necklace. Front-clasp.

OK! Time to relax :)

But it also means my production times can get compromised. I spent most of the weekend in the studio and only got six sets done:

I made a pair of earrings to match each of these fun, dangly pendants. They're all at Artisans in the Attic, 2nd Floor Smart Shop Place downtown Sydney!

But what sets they are!! I can’t be sad about the time I spent hemming and hawing and trying new things and playing with patina and looking for dangly things and making decisions when the results end up like this:

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Steampunk Clay Pendants

I’ve been sculpting in polymer clay for a long, long time – before there was much online to help folks out. Recently I’ve been digging into it again and loving it! I even signed up for the Metal Clay class at Craftsy.com just today… can’t wait to find some time for it. But meanwhile, here’s something I’ve been doing recently: Steampunk Clay Pendants When I first got back into clay in terms of jewellery last year, I started sculpting little hearts and nautilus shells. I had all these leftover teeny watch parts that were too small to wrap, so I started jamming them into the clay. I was in love with them! But then my husband said, “That’s great Gayle. But how many of those can you make in an hour?” I feebly said, “um, two?” That was clearly not fast enough for my limited production time, so I took the lid off a watchmaker’s case and started cutting out circles. Voila! Steampunk Clay Pendants It didn’t get super fast though until I finally broke down and bought a pasta/clay machine. For the sake of 30 bucks I have no idea what I was waiting for! This thing is genius. It conditions and flattens the clay in literal seconds, with absolutely no hand pain. The last piece of the puzzle was PearlEx powders. I’d been seeing them around and finally I bought a case… and then another. And now I’m completely addicted! I made two dozen of these last weekend, and another two dozen throughout the evenings this week! Steampunk Clay Pendants All I need to do now is get ‘em all wire-wrapped to make them ready for sale. My next batch, I’m thinking of doing a tutorial for it. SO pleased. So, so pleased. Steampunk Clay Pendants Also, am I the only one who just stares at her own work?! Especially photos where you can really see the details!

Home to Roost

More birds A bunch of super-talented local artisans and I are working on a gallery exhibition that opens in about a month. It’s all about birds and there are a LOT of great ideas flying around our intermittent meetings. Working with such creative minds is exhilarating… staring down a deadline, a little less so ;) Here’s a tiny little update on what I’ve been working on. Eyeballs by Sarah Beck! Home to Roost Home to Roost More birds Home to Roost More birds

Steampunkerflowersisies

Steampunkerflowersisies In the midst of unbelievable chaos, I managed to complete a last-minute batch of steampunk flower pendants before the CBCCD show in 4 days! Steampunkerflowersisies I especially love the one with the red/orange┬áleather, below: Steampunkerflowersisies I had to make some more because I nearly sold out at my last show! These things go very fast. Steampunkerflowersisies I was tucked in behind the table at the C200 show and it was fun watching jaws drop from my nearly-hidden vantage point. Steampunkerflowersisies I started playing with sheet metal – copper and aluminum – shaped, hammered and hole-punched as a basis for the flowers. It’s working pretty great! You can see it on the left, above, and in the middle, below. Steampunkerflowersisies In other news, about a month ago I was building flat, round, upholstered display discs (see turquoise, above!) and in so doing, I think I over-used the duct tape and strained a tendon in my right index finger. It could also have been the heavy wire-work I was doing for ornaments and neckwires. In any case, working was painful and it seemed the best thing was to rest the finger. So aside from my day job, I’ve been avoiding using that hand for four or five weeks now. Getting back to the bench and being able to create again was a relief! It’s still a little stiff but I couldn’t help myself. I hope to get a few brooches done before the show, but it is hard to say if I will have the time. The fancy martini fundraiser party is this Thursday, and you can contact CBCCD for tickets. After that, we are open Friday evening, all day Saturday and Sunday for only $2.00 admission. Hope to see you there!

Show Prep

Yesterday was SO productive! I worked 8 full hours in the studio, with hardly any lollygagging or shenanigans. It was all about preparation for the four shows I have in the next 5 weeks, to make setup as painless (literally) as possible. I:

Covered one of the presentation boards I got on the cheap with fabric that I guessed at the length for and was an inch shy of being not enough. This process caused me to stretch in ways I haven’t stretched in a while. Today I am paying for it with aches and pains. But it’s totally worth it! Then I loaded the presentation board so I can just slip it into its case and have the world’s easiest set-up.
Show Prep

Completed a wholesale order for… wait for it… Little Mysteries in Halifax!!! Squee! They took one each of my new Focus line, as well as a dozen simpler gemstone pendants with meaning cards attached. I’m so delighted with this I can’t even think straight. The photo below – of simple gemstones with simple meanings – is the culmination of my career. Literally, this is all I’ve ever wanted to do but could never figure out properly.
Show Prep
Printed cards for my rare beach glass pendants that fit into the new boxes I have on hand and loaded them up. They look so fancy!
Show Prep

Created new STEAMPUNK cards and loaded my clay steampunk into boxes.
Show Prep
Loaded some beach glass onto cards.
Show Prep

Loaded my ring tray.

Counted and sorted my inventory.

Did a dance of joy.

New Rings!

Been making crazy amounts of jewellery these days…

Fun New Rings!

Check out how awesome that labradorite is!

Fun New Rings!

Finished up a bunch of rings lately, some even with gears and such!

Fun New Rings!

Managed to get a few gemstones going as well, although I’m not quite able to identify this one.

Fun New Rings!

This rainbow one is totally fun.

Fun New Rings!

And a huge flowery one! So cool.

For the first time ever I’m running a calendar and a production schedule. Today I’m supposed to be making ornaments :)

Sneaky Preview

The new materials I’ve got on the bench are blowing my mind. Unfortunately, my vacation totally interrupted my creativity time and I can’t show you anything finished yet!

I can, however, totally tease you :)

Preview

Preview

And ok, you can see some of the half-finished bits in the background. Maybe I jumbled them together on purpose so you can’t make them out. Y’know. Maybe.

Preview

Firescale Carnelian & Garnet

Firescale Carnelian & Garnet Hammered Wire Necklace

This is the most fun I’ve had in the studio in a while! Mostly I’ve had to focus on production pieces – making a million earrings in a row and spending weeks building rings; they’re satisfying to make but it can get monotonous. I finally decided to spend today doing something completely unique!

I didn’t have a serious plan for this one but it worked out beautifully. I’ve had these firescale carnelian ovals for a very long time and it was lovely to use them in a serious piece like this.

Firescale Carnelian & Garnet Hammered Wire Necklace

Firescale Carnelian & Garnet Hammered Wire Necklace

Firescale Carnelian & Garnet Hammered Wire Necklace

Vintage-y Goodness! Skeleton Keys & Buttons :)

Vintage Button / Skeleton Key Necklaces

An unexpected burst of energy after supper resulted in 3 new pieces for today!

The buttons have been laid out in these colour combinations on the workbench for at least a couple of weeks but I just couldn’t make it work in my head. I added the inverted washers, which was better, but it still wasn’t right…. until I opened a drawer and saw the vintage skeleton keys a locksmith friend had dug out of some tubs of random bits on his garage this past summer and realized they’d be *perfect* bases for what I had in mind.

The keys are fairly hidden behind the buttons but you can mostly see the ends poking out, plus it’s really great just to know they’re in there!

Here they are all together so you can see the necklace part:

Vintage Button / Skeleton Key Necklaces

The orange-ish one has a massive inverted washer in the middle underneath that fabulous terracotta-coloured button. It was exciting to find that they fit together so well! This one also features 3 connected vintage leather flowers that were in a box of my grandmother’s broken jewellery bits.

Vintage Button / Skeleton Key Necklaces

Vintage Button / Skeleton Key Necklaces

I had actually tried with the blue combination last week but felt it was flimsy and didn’t care for it. My success with the keys had me adding a few reinforcement wraps here and there which tightened it up considerably and helped me feel like it was more complete!

Vintage Button / Skeleton Key Necklaces

Vintage Button / Skeleton Key Necklaces

Vintage Button / Skeleton Key Necklaces

I just really loved this purple button. And those inverted washers give me joy!

Art Nouveau Hammered Necklace

HammeredWire04

A book of art nouveau designs caught my eye as I was passing the bookshelf in my downstairs hallway on the way to the studio so I grabbed it and brought it down with me. Flipping through was pretty inspiring so I grabbed a heavy-gauge wire and my hammer! There’s minimal bling on this one because the design itself should be the focus. I used a bit of grosgrain ribbon for the rest of the necklace.

Lookit how pretty!

HammeredWire03

HammeredWire02

This piece is available in my new Etsy store, too :D

New Product #2: Feathers & Fibres

After I made the hair clips last week, I had more time in my day so I looked around for something else to do that was different and new, and my eyes lit upon a package of fancy fibre-y yarn/ribbon thingums. I thought the little feathery bits would be a fun accent into a wire piece, but what else could I put in there? And it hit me: actual feathers! I dug out some dyed craft feathers I had and also a few bits of reclaimed leather, and went to town.

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Simple and Fun! I think the bright colours will look fab in my booth at the Christmas Loft craft show this year.

New Product #1: Tiny Hair Toys

I teased you with 3 new products last week and only just now have managed to get photos taken. And actually I only got photos of 2 of the 3 so you’ll still have to wait for the third one. That’s not me teasing you on purpose, that’s just me being stupidly busy.

I was making these up as I went along.

First, teeny little hair clips:
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(Yep that’s me. Thankfully my ears were clean!)

Here’s how they operate (please ignore the skin falling off my fingers, it does that). Open:
Hair Clips in Operation

Hair Clips in Operation

And closed:
Hair Clips in Operation

They clip pretty tight and there’s a little plastic/rubber strip in there that keeps them from getting stuck in your hair or damaging it. I love these little guys!

You know what, that’s enough for one post. I’ve got some work to do so I’ll post the others tomorrow.

New Camera

This isn’t strictly jewellery-related but I’ve been dying to take photos of our backyard for about 18 months now, and I could never properly capture the forest-like proportions until the new camera got here. And this morning, the gorgeous fog and sunrise I see out my bathroom window nearly every day didn’t fail me. I popped out the window screen and, completely on auto, got this:

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Which is totally gorgeous and almost conveys the real beauty of this scenery (and also how dirty my windows are, but that’s not the point).

But then I started to play with the zoom. Watch at I manually get closer, and closer, and closer to the point where I am literally photographing things I can’t see with the naked eye:

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Click that last one and choose Actions >View All sizes to really see how close I got and the details on the thing.

Let’s take a closer look at that 30x zoom. I can only approximate where the zoomed-in portion was on the original because seriously… the camera sees better than I do.

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!!!!!

Also, some zero-editing (well, a very slight histogram edit) beach glass photos from this afternoon:

Common Beach Glass

Common Beach Glass

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Common Colours

Aqua

Black Beach Glass

Lavender Beach Glass

Yellow Beach Glass

Aqua, true Black, Lavender, Lemon Yellow

That’s all I accomplished this weekend… had a very sleepy Saturday and spent most of Friday hanging out with kittens. It’s hard to tear myself away for any reason!

Earrings & Pendants

I had an excellently productive 4-day weekend! More steampunk-vintage-whatsits (more on those later) as well as a big pile of firepolished glass pendants and earrings. I didn’t take individual photos of the pendants, but here’s a pretty good shot of most of them:

100906firepolishedglass

They’re pretty fun to make, lots of organic swirls and such. What I really like about these pendants & the earrings is picking out the colour combos. I’ve got dozens of colours of firepolished glass beads and I can spend hours just picking out fun new ways to put them together. Then of course I have to wrap them but that’s fun too :)

Earrings 100905

Earrings 100905

Earrings 100905

Earrings 100905

Earrings 100905

Laird and I bought a new camera on the weekend – a Fuji Finepix HS10. It’s got a 30x zoom! It’s got a 1cm macro! It’s beautiful! While I still need to find the time to do something beyond “auto”, the “auto” setting is doing pretty damn good for me so far. I’ve had to adjust exposure on these, and white balance on some others, but I’m so very happy with it.

Rings!

Rings!

It’s been a LONG time since I’ve made any rings. They’re quite difficult in terms of finicky-ness and painful-ness; unfortunately for my hands they’re also one of my very best sellers. Luckily I had a LOT of stock left over from last year so I hadn’t needed to make any for a while, but they’re just about sold out so this weekend I got at it again. They’re so painful, though, that I’ve been debating either putting a halt on their production entirely, or raising the prices so that they’re not quite as in demand. But I take forever to make decisions, so meanwhile, they’re still $22 each.

And of course, I can’t make the same kind of thing too many times in a row without trying to do something new! So here are a few slightly new types of rings (along with a couple of standards):

Rings!

Rings!

Rings!

Rings!

Rings!

Rings!

Rings!

Rings!

OH and I don’t want to become a cat blogger (I’ve never even had cats before), but my fiance and I got two kittens last week and today’s post took twice as long because I had two furry purry kitties watching me type like it was a tennis match they could join in on. Lookit!

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Steampunk? I think?

More Steampunk

I went just a *little* dangle-crazy with the last batch of steamfunkery pieces. I couldn’t help it! I dug out all the metal bits and bobs I could find and in there were these chandelier-earring-type findings that just begged to be incorporated and to have things hanging off them. And so a bunch of the newest pieces are really, really long. They also have colour, which is new for this line, based on someone saying that even steam-punk-goth girls aren’t hurt by a nice piece of shiny bling :)

I also just got a massive, unexpected case of these ribbon-cord necklaces – my fiance and his business partner have long gone to flea markets and outdoor vendor shows to sell low-priced goods, including jewellery they’ve bought or made, to make a few bucks a week. This week they got out of the business for loftier goals and I’ve inherited the giant box of ribbons they’d just acquired! It’s the first time I’ve had any reliable sort of alternative to the chains that come with my pendants, and I’m glad for it, because I’ve been having a hard time finding good quality chains. I have come to realize that most people have their own chains anyway, but I still would prefer to package my work with something a little nicer. I think in many cases these brightly-coloured ribbons will hit the spot! I certainly had fun digging through the box to find colours to suit these pieces:

More Steampunk

More Steampunk

Not everything was dangly and massive, however:

More Steampunk

(ok, maybe a little massive)

More Steampunk

More Steampunk

More Steampunk

More here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nightingayle/sets/72157624468313753/with/4833521047/

I was in a hurry to take these photos so they’re not as beautifully crafted as the previous set. But… BUT!! The final architectural detail in my studio is complete (after months) and the next update will be to show you the amazing, wonderful, fabulous, delightful new area in the studio that will help me transit from physical to digital with ease. Keep an eye on this space!

Steampunk-y Gears

Gears of Time

I’ve been doing a version of these for a while, but this is the first time I’ve had access to real watch parts (mostly I’ve been using scrapbooking embellishments). I had a great time putting together complex elements to then wire-wrap.

I also had some success with photography! I believe the secret is to add more elements than just the pendant to the composition, to allow for a better automatic white balance and also to add interest. So take a look!

Gears of Time

Gears of Time

Gears of Time

Gears of Time

Gears of Time

Gears of Time

Gears of Time

These (and several others) will be available at the Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design as of Monday July 5th.