Convergent Series

learning, using & teaching metal clay, and other aspects of life

Archive for November, 2015

Let the Holiday Season Shopping Season Begin … with Small Business Saturday!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2015/11/25

I don’t care what stores may or many not be open on Thanksgiving, brick & mortar or online ones, I don’t intend to do any shopping that day! There are just a few small things I may head out and try to pick up on Black Friday. For me, Small Business Saturday is the important day, both as someone who believes in supporting local businesses (both the shops and the local producers of their wares) and as someone who is really, really hoping to sell some of her art in order to earn income towards next year’s looming expenses. (I do love my studio, but I also need to pay for it … and lots more!)

So here are some of the places where you can find my jewelry and/or ornaments! They are listed in roughly chronological order from their special-event start times.

  • November 27 – December 24: Ornament Extravaganza (in addition to all the regular ‘Smiths Shop items) at The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh (Mt. Lebanon, PA)
  • November 28 – December 6: H*liday mART at Sweetwater Center for the Arts (Sewickley, PA)
  • December 4-5-6: Holiday Gift Shop at the Wilkins School Community Center (Swissvale, PA)
  • December 4-5-6: Studio Open House at my Convergent Series Studio (Regent Square, PA)
  • December 5: Holiday Open House (in addition to their regular Gift Shop hours all the time) at the Hoyt Center for the Arts (New Castle, PA)
  • December 12-13: Studio Open House at my Convergent Series Studio (Regent Square, PA)
  • I also have jewelry items (no new ornaments) up at the Portage Hill Gallery (Westfield, NY). Their hours are much longer during the summer season at Chautauqua; but Audrey will likely have a few events over the coming weekends too, so if you’re in the area, do check that out.

All of these pieces, and lots more, will be available at one or another of those venues. Please stop by if you can and/or tell others from this area where to find them.
    

(Be sure to note that the Parkway East will be closed December 4-5-6! To get to the events in Swissvale / Regent Square, you’ll have to detour around that. While I understand the necessity, all us vendors impacted by that sure wish they’d announced that closing sooner, so we could have at least tried to plan around it! Please find the detour routes, or try to come out at another time! Thank you!)

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Holiday Season Special Earrings!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2015/11/22

While I was going crazy coloring ornaments, I also colored a few little copper stampings that I then made into earrings. (Done quickly, most have been colored on one side only: unusual for me, but it makes sense since this is an entirely different process.)

Because of the raw copper underneath, these are bound to come out a bit darker than many of the ornaments, but I still think they make cute little casual holiday treats. I don’t normally like to coat my metal pieces, but I did put a waterproof acrylic coating over the colored side of each piece. I still wouldn’t recommend wearing them while you swim or otherwise expose them to any chemicals but they should hold up under normal use beyond that.

I could make more of those, or just make singles and hang them as pendants … if there seems to be interest. Time will tell!

And then, while I had the stampings out, I made a few red-green-glitter ovals too, and priced those the same as the other decorated stampings. Making those reminded me of a number of the reasons why I am not, personally, a big fan of glitter. (Maybe if I did more with it I’d learn more tricks; I do have some dear glitter-crazy friends and I’m sure they’d be happy to help me. But I do know the basics and my issue is that I think it’s too much mess and and what feels like sheer work to justify in my own mind the end result: it can be nice but I just find other techniques so much more fun!)

Still, I’m happy to fulfill custom order requests: I do have all the stuff to make more and would be happy to keep going until I’ve used that up, should anyone want more once these are gone!

Oh, and both kinds of earrings are offered on hypoallergenic niobium earwires that have been anodized to the nice dark-copper-brown color shown here.

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2015’s Crazy-busy Season Is Here!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2015/11/20

You’d think I’d know better by now … taking on a whole new project right before crazy-busy-sales season! But why not make something new and fun to help celebrate the season?

Though I have made some new jewelry items in recent weeks, I really have been trying to plan ahead more often (you’ll see there’s a joke here in a moment…) and I had a decent amount of “inventory” on hand from summer and early-fall production sessions. The first photo here, for example, shows a handful of simple sterling silver (.960) and bronze pendants I cut using an electronic cutter by Silhouette America. (For those familiar with them, I have both a Cameo, at home, and a Portrait, in my studio. When I add this to my teaching repertoire, I might get their curio too…)

Then I happened to go to a local (regional) crafts store (Pat Catan’s) just to get a roll of vinyl for a little home decor project I wanted to make as a gift for a friend. Worst part of the story is that they didn’t even have the one I wanted in stock just then. Now, I could well have ordered it from somewhere else online: but I only thought of doing this at the last minute (ha! ha!) and I wanted the vinyl in order to make the gift that day….

So I strolled around a bit looking for something else I could make that afternoon (I needed to deliver it at lunch-time the next day, you see), and there they were: clear glass ornaments just calling out to be decorated! Of course, I bought one box (just one!). Again, of course, I picked up a few other little supplies, added those to some I had on hand already, and had a great time decorating. The next day I gave several to the friend and, on my way home, stopped at a different Pat Catan’s to look over the entire selection, walking out with several boxes each of seven (7!) different size / finish / shape combinations and a months-long project ahead of me.

Though five of the shape-size combos are fairly traditional for ornaments, two have flat bottoms so that, while you can hang them on a Christmas tree, you could instead just set them on a flat surface. The round ones even came with a double-loop around the top so that, if you did set them on a table, you could insert some sort of card in between the loops: a photo, a note, a place-card at the dining table (that your guests could then take home as gifts, perhaps!), etc. I looked at how those were made, and ended up making my own double-loop tops to use on the square ornaments in place of the standard (single-loop) ones they came with.

Then I had a grand time coloring them, most of them both inside and out. I made that style just because I like them the most that way … so if they don’t all sell I can still be happy about using the rest of them myself!

As is usual for me, they’re finished on all sides! And, of course, no two are alike, not even when I tried to make a pair to match, just to see if I could. (Those do look related, but they still have noticeable differences. So, in the end, I went for variety. I’m happy with variety!)

To be sure, I will still have lots of jewelry available too! I’ll talk about where everything will be available in an upcoming post!

Mostly, this will be pendants and earrings in silver and bronze. I’ll have a few pieces in other styles and / or metals, but those are my favorites to work in (at different times, somewhat just depending on my mood because they are different in subtle but important ways).

With daylight hours getting shorter and shorter this time of year, I’m glad to have all these various bits of brightness around me, made of glass and metal and love. I hope they’ll soon find new homes and help brighten up the lives of others too.

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Yes, Thank You Indie Knit & Spin!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2015/11/16

As Cosy said at the Indie Knit and Spin site: Thank you to everyone who helped make this fall’s event yet another success: workshop students (mine and others), my fellow teachers, other vendors, all the wonderful shoppers, Cosy who organizes the whole thing, and Patty who first clued me in to this event several years ago.

Though I’d said I could fit in up to six people, I was actually slightly relieved when I learned I’d only need to find space to fit in five: that’s five plus a space for me to do demos! (I was then disappointed when one of the students got the time wrong, and arrived “early” for the end of the class, which is the time she thought it would start; sigh!)

In theory, I can fit 10 to 12 student into my studio comfortably (probably 14 in a pinch, though I’ve never gone that far: I prefer to limit class sizes so I’m sure I can give everyone the attention they need and deserve…), this was the first time I ever tried to fit a class in behind the space I use when I set up a shop!

Once I’d left some room for my shop assistant, Kathy, and for shoppers, not to mention a variety of my creations, the space left for the workshop did get a bit cosy! I managed to capture a snippet of it all in the photo here, though I couldn’t back up enough, nor squeeze into any other corners, to capture the whole space. Oh well, this shot is a nice memento of a lovely morning. I thought everyone in the class did well, and I hope they’re happy with their creations and will consider making more! (I did promise them a free firing if they did.) Also, though I can’t imagine why she’d see this (but I’m going to be vague just in case), I hope the mother of one student is delighted with the Christmas-present pendant her very focused and productive daughter managed to make in the time we had together!

Even more, I hope they’ll show me / us what they’ve done with their creations, whether it’s in a comment here or by bringing them (or at least a photo) for the next Indie Knit & Spin! Cosy may not organize classes for that one but, since I did this in my own room, I can offer another button-making workshop then. Even better, in a way: if there aren’t other classes that people want to dash off to, we can have time for a slightly more complex project: instead of just making holes in our buttons to sew through, we could even explore making shank-style buttons too.

Mark your calendar: that’ll be on Saturday, February 6, 2016!

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Yes, hand-made: Buttons at Indie Knit & Spin!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2015/11/10

The delightful Indie Knit & Spin returns to the Wilkins School Community Center this year on Saturday, November 14, 2015. The marketplace will run from 10 am to 4 pm, and there will be classes running from 9 am to 6 pm!

In one of those classes (10 am to 12:20 pm), I will be teaching how to make your very own silver buttons!

And, you may ask, just how do metal buttons tie into an event aimed at “Everyone who loves to work with beautiful and unique yarn and fiber”? Well, the theory is this: if you’re going to go to all the effort to attend this show in order to obtain fabulous fiber arts products and materials, and then lots more time making your own hand-made creations, doesn’t it make sense to have your own hand-made buttons that you can use on those items?

Though I originally announced this as a workshop using .999 fine silver (at least 99.9% silver; not 100% only because we can’t swear that there aren’t a few atoms of other stuff in there somewhere), upon some reflection it dawned on me that .960 sterling silver (at least 96% silver, with up to 4% copper) would be better for buttons.

In general, I tend to make a lot of pendants and earrings and, in that context, fine silver is a wonderful material to work with. But metals-folks have been adding a touch of copper to silver for ages because that alloy yields a slightly harder, stronger product, and that’s useful for things like rings or bracelets that tend to suffer a bit more from normal wear and tear.

Now, the most typical alloy, called sterling silver, is referred to as .925: i.e., it’s at least 92.5% silver, and the remaining 7.25% is usually just copper, though sometimes other metals will be included with copper in that 7.25% as well. The problem is that alloys with even just that much copper or other metals then require lots of special handling, firing and/or finishing than does true fine silver.

But, there is yet another compormise: .960! That designation means it’s at least 96% silver. With that mix, you get (roughly) 90% of the strength of .925 sterling with almost none of the extra complications!

So I’m now planning to use .960 for the class, though I will have a bit of .999 on hand just in case anyone signed up specifically because I’d said we’d use fine silver. But I’m assuming the students will all be metal clay beginners, and happy to use the product the teacher is recommending for their buttons.

I’d also said that it’d take just a minor adjustment to turn a button-project into one where the person is making charms, earring elements, or small pendants. We can make any of those out of .999 fine silver or .960 sterling silver.

Last I heard, there were still just few seats left. If you’ve been looking for a good introduction to metal clays, why not sign up for that session! Or, if you can’t make it that Saturday, let me know if you’d be interested and able to come over the next day, on Sunday the 15th. I’m hoping to offer another little introductory session then: the focus will be small earring, charm, or pendant pieces.

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