Convergent Series

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

Archive for the ‘Studio’ Category

This weekend, and next!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2018/07/07

Six-wall panorama of the Instructors Show at The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh

If you haven’t been over to The Arsmiths of Pittsburgh to see their great Instructors Show yet, you still have two more chances, this Saturday or Sunday (July 7 or 8). Not only does the show include a range of different styles from the various artists who teach there, but Artsmith’s proceeds from this show will be targeted specifically to support their great education programs!

If you’d like to talk with me in person, I’ll be over later in the afternoon on Sunday. (I should get there at or very soon after 2 pm, and I’ll stay until the closing, at 4.)

Whether or not we manage to connect in person this weekend, we’ll have another chance next weekend! You’ll be able to shop some of my creations and / or talk with me about any of my upcoming classes (at four separate venues), when I’ll hold another Second Saturday Open House session in my studio. That’ll be Saturday, July 14, and I should be there from about 1 to 5 pm. Stop by any time!

Next weekend’s bonus for one or two of my students: If you’d like to come over and use the tools & equipment in my studio during the Open House, I can have part of one table set up for that on the 14th too. Because I’ll have a few of my own projects going too, for students it’s really best if you reach out in advance to be sure I’ll have a spot for you.

(Since I’m still getting questions about these sessions, let me repeat that they are not the same as my private lessons or small group classes: I’m not saying I won’t speak to you at all, because I’ll help as I can. But they’re meant as an opportunity for students, working pretty much on their own, to continue or follow up on projects they’ve already learned how to do … but without having to invest in the great range of tools and supplies I bring to my workshops!)

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This Saturday, and next!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2018/06/07

SampleProject_LentilBeads_Reversible_WonderlandKarmaThis Saturday, June 9, is a “Second Saturday”! So I am, once again, planning a little Studio Open House. For more reasons than it’s worth listing here, this month I’m shifting the time a bit later than usual: 2 to 6 pm. I’ll have pieces for sale, along with information about the various workshops I have scheduled for this summer or might still add to the calendar.

The main reason for the slightly-later time is that the Regent Square Civic Association’s Second Saturday event will be at my building, and that’s scheduled for 4 to 7 pm. So I tried to plan my Open House to overlap: you can visit me from 2 to 6, if you’re able to come later in that range you can check RSCA out too, and I can still join them from about 6 until 7.

Follow either link above for a little more information on what each event offers. Stop by for the full effect!

Next Saturday, June 16, is my first workshop of the summer, where The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh will offer my reversible hollow silver bead class.

SampleProject_LentilBeads_Reversible_KarmaWonderlandSome people call these “lentil” beads, because their underlying shape is similar to a very oversized lentil. Others call them “saucer” beads, though I never imagined flying saucers that looked quite like these. Long-time readers of this blog will know, however, that I love making lentil beads, and I think they make a great class projet too. The photos with this post are meant to show that even a complete beginner can master the making of a relatively simple one that is still impressive! Those with some prior metal clay experience can work a few more advanced techniques into their designs, but you’ll have to come to class to see some samples of those!

At Artsmiths, we will cover ways to make yours so it can be worn all by itself as a pendant. Or, if you’re into beading, we’ll cover ways that are ideal for stringing it with a bead selection of your choice. Hint: the pieces in the photos here are designed for beading, but can be worn alone as pendants, as shown. Follow the class link, above, to see some more basic samples and to find out how to register for this session.

~~~~~~~~~~

And one miscellaneous musing…

Again, I’m really sorry I haven’t been posting much here lately. (I’m apologizing both to myself and to you!) Facebook is such a thought-sink! I’m not talking about how it can be a general time-sink; I miss all sorts of posts because I don’t spend much time browsing there. But I do spend some participating in a few relevant groups (on specific techniques and on art and jewelry in general; not all the possible ones, but a few!) where I oten find myself anwering questions or making comments there that, pre-Fb, I would have written up as posts here or on public blogs by others.

This bothers me: the class-link above goes to a public page I’ve written, while the two event-links above go to publicly-available Facebook-page events (perhaps with an annoying banner asking you to sign in / up to Facebook, but at least visible). But there’s no way for me to link here to something I’ve written in a “closed” art / jewelry group. I do understand the use of “closed” groups to help reduce the risk of spam, trolls, etc., but I’m still struggling with the idea of spending my time writing up useful information that is then limited in how far it can be shared.

If I’m going to write it up, I want it to be available to anyone who’s interested! Well, of course, I could copy my comments and post them here, but they’re often part of a thread, and I wouldn’t feel comfortable copying all that from a private to a public space; so that would mean re-writing everything to build up my own context. And that’s just more effort than seems worth it when I’d rather be making than writing in the first place!

Have you solved this dilemma? Do you know anyone else who has? Your thoughts (comments, links, pointers, whatever) would be much appreciated!

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So many happenings on Saturday, May 12!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2018/05/12

It’s Second Saturday time again! My studio will be open for last-minute Mother’s Day shopping, and more, on Saturday, May 12, from approximately 9 am through 1 pm.

I had to shift my usual Second Saturday time earlier for a variety of reasons:

  1. The Regent Square community-wide yard sale will be that day, from 8 am to 3 pm.
  2. To coincide with (1), the Wilkins School Community Center will hold its annual spring fundraiser, this year called Books, Beer, Plants, and Dogs with
    • WSCC will offer used book ($1 each) sale from 8 am to 3 pm,
    • Coffee and sweets will be there from 8 to 10 am, then
    • The offerings will switch to raft beer and hot dogs from 11 am to 1 pm.
    • Local farmers will offer veggies, herbs, and flowering plants, also from 8 am to 3 pm,
  3. As soon as I’ve done a bit of shopping at (1) and (2) I will head up to Room #25 and open up my own art/jewelry show!
  4. But I’ll have to leave by about 1 pm, so I can dash over for the opening of the Artsmiths of Pittsburgh’s Instructors Exhibit! There are a dozen of us in that show, which will run through July 8. I’ve got (count them!) sixteen different pieces in it, illustrations of the kinds of things I have taught or will soon be teaching there! They’re all for sale, and all of Artsmiths’ proceeds from the sale will go towards support of their instructional programming!
  5. With all the to-ing and fro-ing, I’m sad that I’m going to have to miss the Pittsburgh Center for Creative ReUse’s annual spring ReClaim! event! That runs from 11 am to 6 pm. (Why sad: because at previous Reclaim! events I’ve picked up hundreds of little bits of design samples that I’m able to use in the process of making my jewelry creations! It’s not like I need more: it’s what treasures might I be missing out on!!)
  6. I am going to try to also get off to the opening of another show that will feature two of my art-jewelry pieces, one each in steel (with enamel) and silver (with a cubic zirconia). They are in the the North Hills Art Center’s Spring Regional Show. The opening reception is from 7 to 9 pm on Saturday and then the show will continue whenever the Center is open, for the rest of this month and then through June 8.

Finally, please accept my apologies for not yet having gotten around to posting my upcoming teaching schedule! Well, I did post it: there’s a printed copy of my next six classes hanging just outside my studio door, and I will be delighted to discuss them there! And the Artsmiths Instructors’ Show is set up so that all of us there will have the chance to talk about those upcoming classes. If I make it up to North Hills, I can talk about my offerings there too. And I will try to post more information online in the next few days….

I do hope that lots of folks will be able to join me, at one or more of these events!

Two Reversible Pendants: each a Shadow Box with Spinel

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Need a last-minute, hand-made, one-of-a-kind gift?

Posted by C Scheftic on 2017/12/23

Sorry for the last-minute confirmation, but I will be in my studio this afternoon! The section of my work-area nearest the door is still set up for shopping! Stop by and see what’s available at a whole range of prices. I should get there by 2:30, and should stay until about 6:30.

Since I didn’t go in either Thursday or Friday (instead doing late-season yard-work!) with today’s rain I’ll be back in the studio working on a few pieces I need to have finished by the end of next week. (Pretty much everything I make takes several cycles of activity, often spread over several days, with time in between for drying or re-hydrating or kiln-firing or …) I’ll be wearing grubby work-clothes, sitting at my other work-table, so you’ll get more of a clue of what my typical working environment is like than usually happens when I open up for a show!

I don’t know if I’ll go back on Sunday, Christmas Eve: I’ll have to see how things go today before I decide that. I am holding a couple hours open tomorrow just in case, so if you can’t make it today but would like to schedule a time to meet me there tomorrow, please let me know!

And, whether you come by today or if you’ve already made a purchase from any of my collections earlier this year, please know how very much I appreciate your interest and support!

I couldn’t do this without YOU!

Thank you … Merry Christmas … Happy Holidays … and Best Wishes for the New Year!

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A few final pieces from 2017…

Posted by C Scheftic on 2017/12/21

Whenever I walked into my studio last week, I passed lots of red and green Christmas decorations throughout the building.

Urban Flower: Lucky Shamrock (Four-leaf Clover)As I sat down with some silver clay and a small box of dichroic glass cabs, I think that decor is what lead me to be drawn to several green pieces.

With over half of my studio turned into a show-room, and only one “holiday” show left after I’d have time to fire and finish anything I made between visitors, I had to work simple.

But then my maker’s-sales brain kicked in and I picked up those green cabs and used them in … shamrocks! Three fine silver pendants for spring.

And the “lucky” four-leaf one, with a “spring green” piece of glass, has already been purchased! Knowing that it will age slowly over time, the customer wanted it like this, without any patina. I managed to grab this quick photograph while the buyer selected a chain to go with it. The photo shows a sterling rolo chain though it went out the door on (what I do agree was a better choice for this particular texture) a foxtail style chain.

Urban Flowers: Two ShamrocksFor those interested in technical details, all three of these were made with PMC Plus and PMC Flex. Why those clays? I’d taught a lentil-bead class last week in which we used Plus, and I had a lot left from a big packet I’d opened there, so I used that for the backing pieces, the leaves, and the bails. To be sure those were fully sintered, that much was fired at full time & temperature: nominally, that’s 1650°F for two hours. (I say nominally because, since my kiln fires about 50° hot, I set it to 1600 … which means it should have fired at about 1650… And I did hold it for two hours.) That gives all the “structural” elements the maximum strength possible for that particular silver formula, even though it would have been way too hot for the glass.

The next day I made the “bezel” elements to surround each glass piece and hold those in place from the top. I used PMC Flex for that. I could’ve used PMC3 or Art Clay 650 or any of the “low-fire” fine silver formulas but, again, the Flex is what I had handy, so that’s what I used. The point here is that I needed a clay that would reliably sinter at a low-enough temperature that I could fire the glass in place! Clay fired down at “glass” temperatures might not be quite strong enough for the leaves (that hang off to the side) or the bail in back (from which the piece is hung when worn), but with a good, strong backing, the use of a lower sintering temperature should be fine for just holding the glass onto strong backing pieces. I used a four-segment program that experience has shown to provide good strength to the silver bezel while keeping the glass happy.

I did choose to add a patina as I finished polishing these two after their second firing. And, if you’re interested in a few notes I wrote about using a mix of sterling and fine silvers in this sort of design, feel free to check out my post from October of last year.

Even though these designs reflect the shape of shamrock (young clover) leaves, because of the textures I used and the glass centers, I’m calling them part of my Urban Flowers series. I never claimed that my urban flowers were going to be biologically correct representations of particular species, more that the plants would serve as “inspiration” for those pieces.

In some ways that concept also fits with the colored glass ornaments I make during the summer (when I can work outdoors). Those are designed with a double-loop on the top of the ornament and a flat bottom to the glass bases: they can hang on your Christmas tree if you want and then, for the rest of the year, you can set them on a table or desk and use them ho hold whatever kind of note or photograph or other reminder that you want!
2015_11_FiveCardHolders_OneGearBusinessCard_PB241207
Similarly, I hope that these shamrock pendants fit both with the green fir / pine / spruce decorations during winter holidays, and can continue being worn to reflect the natural world as spring returns! Or maybe the heart-shaped leaves will even warm someone’s heart in time for Valentine’s Day?! Regardless of the “connection” made, I do hope the rest of these will soon find good, new homes!

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December Events!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2017/12/04

Enameled Flower EarringsFolks on my mailing list should know about all this already, but here’s what I have happening the rest of this month:

  • Where you can find me in person:

    • Studio Open House: Saturday & Sunday, December 9 & 10, 10 am to 4 pm, in my studio at the WSCC in Regent Square. Please come upstairs and let me know what you think of my new designs! I will, of course, also have plenty of old favorites too! (Also in WSCC that day, downstairs from me, La Dolce Vita Boutique will have all sorts of Italian imports for sale. And just up the street, the Environmental Charter School will be holding their Fair Trade Market!)

    • Guest Artists Show, Saturday, December 16, 10 am to 6 pm, at The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh in Mt. Lebanon. (I’m thrilled to be one of several Artsmiths Artists invited to bring a larger variety of items than we normally have in the shop. If you know me only from there, do come see what else I’ll bring! Or, if you’ve not yet been to Artsmiths, use this as a reason to check out the whole shop + gallery + classroom facility!)

    • SampleProject_LentilBeads_Reversible_KarmaWonderlandMy last workshop of 2017 will be at a new location for me! In my class on Tuesday, December 12, at the Appalachian Rock Shop & Jewelry Emporium up in Harmony, PA, we will be making reversible, hollow, “lentil” style fine silver pendants or beads! (If it’s too late for you to sign up for that aone, I’ll be back there again in March of 2018 with a Woven Silver workshop!)

  • Other places where my art jewelry, colorful ornaments, and more are currently available:

  • I hope I’ll see local folks at one or more of those! If I don’t see you, no matter where you’re from, please know that I’m wishing you all the best for this holiday season and beyond!

    ~~~~~

    p.s., Sorry for the big gap in posting! I have a slew of articles started, in draft form, but for one reason or another (e.g., I may not have photos to illustrate what I’m trying to say; or I have photos but haven’t written the words yet…) I just haven’t managed to get any of them finished and posted. Most of them should still appear eventually!

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Three Fall Open Houses!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2017/09/22

And the first one is a birthday party this Saturday!

What with a lot of travel, gardening, garden-related travel, and more this summer, it’s been way too long since I’ve invited folks over to my studio at the Wilkins School Community Center (WSCC) in Regent Square. But I’m eager to make up for that: I already have three free events lined up there in the next few weeks.

Saturday, Sept 23, 9 am to 1 pm (and beyond!)

  • Everyone at WSCC is celebrating our building’s 90th birthday!
  • Lots of groups and instructors are offering demos and free lessons in all the various rooms, rotating each hour, starting at 9 am, and ending at 1 pm.
  • In my studio, I plan to offer a mix of brief demos and explanations of how I created various pieces, also from 9 to 1. (My very tentative schedule is at the "celebrating" link above.)
  • I’ll also have lots of items for sale.
  • At 1 pm, we’ll gather downstairs to offer a toast to the building, celebrate with cake, and explore its new mural!
  • After that party, I’ll head back upstairs for about another hour, to try to get my demo table back to a space I can work on next week. If you can’t get here before 1, this will be another time for you to come and shop. As long as folks are around and interested, I can stay open until about 3.

Saturday, Oct 14, 4 to 6:30 pm

  • The Regent Square Civic Association’s (RSCA) inaugural Second Saturday in the Square kicks of at WSCC that afternoon!
  • Food trucks, craft beer, live music, children’s activities, and more!
  • So of course, I’ll open my studio for another show then!
  • The RSCA’s event actually runs from 4 to 7 pm. Due to prior commitments both before and after that time, it’s going to be a challenge for me to fit this in. But I will!!! I’ll likely arrive right at 4, and will have to leave no later than 6:30. So please be sure to catch me while I am there that day.

Satuday, Nov 11, 10 am to 4 pm

  • The delightful Indie Knit and Spin (IKS) will be back at WSCC!
  • I’m not an official IKS vendor: my studio just happens to be right in the middle of their wonderful show, so I’ll have my “shop” open then too.
  • Sometimes, but not always, I offer button-making workshops at IKS. I’m not doing that with this one, but I will offer two (one each in silver and bronze) at the North Hills Art Center in October. If you’re interested, please sign up for one or both of those!

If you can’t make it to one of the above three events, just get in touch and let’s arrange another time that will work for both of us!

(I just realized the photo I added to this post
shows my studio from over three years ago:
I need to get a more up-to-date one!)

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A Quick Workshops Update

Posted by C Scheftic on 2017/08/09

Well, I managed to get three posts up last month as I traipsed up and down the west coast, even though I got little jewelry made and did very little teaching. (The few exceptions will get their own posts eventually!)

Right now, I’m putting together my fall teaching and show (sales) schedules for September through December. I’ll post full details once I’m sure of all the dates various but, since several folks have asked for updates, the general plan goes something like this:

  • Single Session Workshops: a mix of topics, mostly at either the Artsmiths of Pittsburgh, or in my own Studio;
  • Multi-Session Classes: one series using precious metals (four meetings using either sterling or fine silver; Sept – Oct) and another series using base metals (five meetings using mostly bronzes, possibly accented with some copper or steel; Oct – Nov) at the North Hills Art Center;
  • An Open House (with both demos and pieces for sale) in my studio during the community center‘s big fall open house day, and another Open House to coincide with Indie Knit & Spin (aka IKS).
  • Because of the IKS-day Open House, I don’t plan to hold either type of button-making class at that event this year. But for those wishing to make buttons, I will be offering two separate classes on that at NHAC this fall.
  • There will, of course, be pieces out for sale at all my “usual” locations, Artsmiths, the Hoyt, and Portage Hill.
  • And I’m hoping to have pieces out for sale at various other market-places, though most of that may be more in the Thanksgiving to Christmas range … with details to follow!


  • Then in the new year, I may try to tweak the plan a bit for winter into spring, swapping some multi-session classes into Artsmiths and my studio; and then offering some single session ones at NHAC.

But in addition to just offering a heads-up about what’s to come, there’s another reason for this post. I have a one-day Easy Earring Extravaganza project scheduled for next week, on August 16, and the deadline for you to register is looming!

Although I promote it as being a chance to make several pairs of earrings, what is an earring but an charm or a small pendant or other such element, where the maker may have just put the hole in a different place! Most of my other sessions go into depth on a particular technique applied to one specific design, but the Earring Extravaganza is different: with that one the goal is to help you go a bit more free-form for quantity, where you produce a number of simple pieces, whether that’d be to give yourself a little treat or to grab a chance to get started on holiday-season gifts.

Now, officially, the deadline is a week before the start of the first class, which is a week from the day I’m posting this! So if you want to join in on that one, please register right away!!! Technically, registration should close at the end of the day on Wednesday, August 9, but I think they’ll hold off closing it until early on Thursday morning. As long as I have the count by 10 am on Thursday, I can still get my order for materials in by that vendor’s 11 am cut-off for shipping, and we’ll be fine. Should you happen to try to register later today, or very early tomorrow, before I have to place the order, and for some reason you can’t get the form to work, please just call or email me on Thursday morning (best time would be between 9 and 10 am), and I’ll be glad to help you!

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Will I see you this weekend?

Posted by C Scheftic on 2017/05/20

May 20: Once again, it’s the great, big Regent Square Community Yard Sale … so that’s the day Wilkins School Community Center will have its annual fund-raiser, which this year features “Books, Beer, Plants, and Dogs” … and I’ll have my studio open from around 10 am until at least 2 pm.

Urban Flower: Cinquefoil (Blue Glitter Glass)

Jewelry will be available (at regular prices) plus I’ll be featuring lots of little, potted aloe plants too, and those will be available at yard-sale prices.

I’m at WSCC, upstairs, in Room #25. Please come on over!

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For that last-minute Valentine’s Day gift!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2017/02/12

2016_11_03_DomedHeartBlueBeadEarrings_3761Subscribers to my newsletter already know this, but as I’m tidying up my studio this afternoon I’ll have my big wooden cabinet set up for anyone who’d like to do some last-minute shopping for Valentine’s Day from 4:30 to 6:00 pm.

I don’t have a huge number of Valentine-themed pieces left at this point, but what’s left does cover the whole range from simple earrings to beaded necklaces with hand-made, silver, heart-themed focal beads, and some pieces in between. I will also have a lot more, in a variety of other styles.

Can’t make it to my studio this afternoon? When I was over at The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh yesterday, I noted that they still had in stock a few of my Valentine-themed pieces too. (Artsmiths, and the other sites listed down the side of my blog, do have lots of other items too.)

Really last-minute shoppers have one more option! Though I rarely make it over to the studio on Mondays, this week I should have a chance to spend a couple hours there in the late afternoon / early evening range. That’s Monday the 13th. I’m not promising exact hours for that yet but, if you’d like to shop then, let me know when and I’ll be happy to confirm a time for you!

If you’d like to get updates on when my studio is open for shopping, when I’ll have pieces at other shows, or hear about my upcoming workshops, use the link at the top-right of my blog (and duplicated here for today).

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Wrapping Up 2016…

Posted by C Scheftic on 2016/12/01

Yes, we have a whole month left! The title of this post contains a bad pun … but I’m hoping you’ll wrap up some of my creations as gifts, or receive one wrapped up for you!

Here are places where you can find my art jewelry this December (and you can find me—in person, with extra treats—at those with an asterisk):

  • Holiday Sparkle Art & Craft Market at the North Hills Art Center, now through December 10
  • Holiday mART. Sweetwater Center for the Arts, December 2 – 11
  • Holiday Open House, Hoyt Center for the Arts, is on December 3, 2016, 11 am to 4 pm, and then special holiday sales will continue throughout the rest of the month
  • Studio Open House *, in my studio at the Wilkins School Community Center, December 2 (6-9 pm) and December 3-4 (10 am – 5 pm)
    I’m not promising to be back in my studio all day the following weekend (Dec 10-11) but I’m likely to be there for a few hours at some point. If that’s the only time you can make it, please let me know so we can agree on a time to meet there!
  • Trunk Show *, The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh, December 17 (Officially I’ll be there myself just that day, but check with me if you’d like to come out on either Friday (16th) or Sunday (18th) as I may be there part of those days too. And I have a smaller, but still great, selection in the ‘Smiths Shop year-round!)

And, finally, I’m honored that, as a member of the Pittsburgh Society of Artists, I was able to have one of my pieces selected for display (and for sale) in The New Collective show at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. The show runs from November 18, 2016, through February 26, 2017, and I sure hope you’ll be able to get over to see all the wonderful artwork that’s been included. To find my entry, first head upstairs and then turn right, and right again, and then head down the last gallery on the right. My Bronze Bead Shelf is at the end of that, on the left. Since it’s framed for display in the show, so you can see only one side there, here’s what it looks like on both sides:

I hope to see you, or to at least have you see my work, at one or another of those events. If I don’t see you in person, there or somewhere, please know how much I appreciate your interest and support, and that I’m wishing you all the best!

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An Important Question, prefaced by a couple laments….

Posted by C Scheftic on 2016/08/23

My question, dear readers, is at the very end of my two long laments in this post. If you want the short version, just scroll down to that….

1. RIP Picasa. That’s the saddest part of this post.

I loved Picasa! If you’re not familiar with Picasa, it was the photo-sharing service that I’ve been using for images on this blog since I started it. (The photo illustrating this section is the same one I used on my first post on this blog: an old image of the first metal clay piece I ever made!) Google has “retired” it.

Picasa had a desktop application; it was fine but I have other tools I often use for editing, file transfers, and such, so that’s not what I’m mourning.

Where I’m feeling the loss involves their web-based photo sharing! I’ve not tallied the exact number, but I have put thousands of photos there, organized into albums by topic or event. There was a total-memory limit, but I was conservative, posting copies of my images that were too small for most print situations but generous for general web-viewing, because making them accessible on the web was my goal. (In about eight years I had not yet used ten percent of the quota.)

What a really valued was their click-able options for including either a tiny (“thumbnail”) or small version of photos I wanted to share in this blog. Readers could get a view of what I was trying to illustrate while taking up only a small amount of bandwidth / data usage. If you wanted to see more, you could always click on any image to have a larger version open in a new tab or window. That whole operation was seamless, for me as the writer as well as for you as the reader.

Now, the good news is that most of the small views are still available in these posts, so readers looking at older posts (e.g., finding them in web searches, which I can see happens a lot) can still get the idea of what I’m talking about when I reference them. A few seem to be missing, from when I wasn’t thinking and clicked a different spot while connecting, but those will be easy to fix (ha: when I find the time!). The bad news is that all the click-to-enlarge photos are gone!

I have not lost my originals. I will admit, however, that those are not as well-organized as what I had on Picasa. I worked from various different locations, and backed up my originals from there as I went along, so they are scattered about in different places … which had not been a problem in the past, because if I wanted to find the big originals I could always go to Picasa and find the little clues I’d hidden there for myself as to where they were… Grrr!

I can still get to all of my public albums via Google Photos. I strongly dislike the design of that interface! I’m not going to go and re-do the links to display all the photos I’ve already posted, but I feel zero inclination to use that for any more of my images. Google claims it’s better for mobile applications, but I’m trying to share photos outside of just Google. For my own purposes, I find it awkward to use. And, yes, I an used to switching between lots of different applications, so it’s something more than that.

I have a few photos on Flickr. I really only used that when I wanted to participate in some Flickr-group thing (e.g., Vickie Hallmark’s Month of Earrings challenge back in 2010, which began here) that required you to link to Flickr files. But it took several more steps to be able to include one of those shots in my blog, so Picasa was my default for here. Flickr did improve the interface a bit over time, not as good as Picasa’s was but less clunky than it had been. My primary concern for shifting over there right now is that Flickr is part of Yahoo! and Yahoo! is having its own issues at the moment…

I have a bunch of photos on Facebook, but there is zero way to keep everything organized there. Yes, I can create some albums for posts on my own timeline. But, aside from the fact that some places I want to share them on Facebook won’t let me share them from those albums (no, they want me to upload a version of the file specifically for that situation…?), photos I put there are really only easily made public within Facebook. That’s too restrictive. For my primary stash, I want my public photos to be public, and I want my restricted-access photos to be available to people to whom I provide access myself, and both settings should be regardless of whether viewer is currently, or ever, logged in to Facebook or any other service!

I have an account on Instagram, but don’t see a way to organize things there. It’s just a chronological stream. Or am I missing some key feature: can I create albums there? If so, can I sort them various ways (e.g., by first / last date or title)?

I have a couple of YouTube channels. I’m working on some videos for those (that I’ll write posts about eventually). But that’s different from what I want to do with photos here. I have some GigaPan albums. But those are mostly for other kinds of projects I’m involved with entirely.

Yes, for this blog, I could just insert photos directly via WordPress. I may be forced to do that here until I can find a new service that helps me keep my photos organized. For that matter, I have a whole domain, and could share photos from there! Except then I’d have to access them by file-name rather than by image-appearance, and my memory works far better and faster when it’s processing images.

I know that I have lots of options, mentioned here and otherwise. I’m not seeking a service that does everything. But I do need to find a good replacement for the sheer organizational assistance that I had with Picasa…..

2. WSCC’s woes.

Which brings me to my second lament: the building where I have my studio is having its own issues. The connection should become clear in a few moments.

My Studio Space, before I filled it up!I love the space I have at the Wilkins School Community Center. I looked for studio space for several years before I found that spot. I can’t imagine not having it, nor finding a place with the features I love about it anywhere else. (The photo illustrating this section shows what the space looked like the day I first saw it and decided to rent it!)

The site is a decommissioned school building, still owned by the borough but managed by a local community group that gets to use it in exchange for handling all the maintenance. And in a building that is 89 years old, that is piling up. I’m on the top floor, but in the middle, so I didn’t suffer much from the roof leaks that were fixed a few years ago. I was delighted to be among the first rooms to have its overhead lights replaced. Being on the top floor has sheltered me from various plumbing / drainage leak issues; there are no “private” rooms in the basement, in fact, so it’s just private parties renting the kitchen and auditorium who have suffered from those (and, of course, the center itself, when it loses room rental income while incurring plumbing costs…). And now, there is crumbling concrete and masonry on the outside that is going to involve some hefty repair costs. I’ll probably post info about calls for local support for that in the near future. For now, there’s one more item to address…

Regular readers may have noticed my comments in recent months about issues with internet access. I really have no clue what went wrong there. The Linux group who manages that for the center (in exchange for reduced rental rates for their meeting spaces… are you getting an idea of how the whole system operates?) said we needed some new equipment. Now, Amy and I, who have rooms on the top floor, are puzzled by this. If we’d brought in new, more modern devices, ones that didn’t work on the old set-up, that could have made some sense. But we’re still just trying to connect devices that we used to be able to connect, but now we can’t even find a signal… One can frequently be found downstairs, and at times there is a weak one in the upper hallway, but once you go into the upper rooms, the signal is gone. A parade of people have been in and out, working on some bit or another of the system, for months. They don’t tell us when they’re coming, report that they have fixed something and it’s now all working again, but when we get in to our rooms, no, we still don’t have a signal. If I sit with my laptop in the hallway I can work, but the laptop has its own problems, and the hallway is noisy and full of echoes and other distractions that I prefer to avoid. My favorite machine, a desktop device I have tucked away out of sight of casual passers-by along with my wireless printer, now sees nothing. And because net-access in select rooms is just one item in a huge list of maintenance issues, there are long gaps between attempts to get it working. The latest story is that someone else is coming out to see if they can resolve this (by switching to a different ISP) in early September. Here’s hoping!

Until those problems started, I’d had a pretty good system working in my studio. Those of you who use metal clays know that there are times when you are “waiting for something to happen.” For moist clay to dry. For dry clay to rehydrate. For a kiln to fire. Etc. Sometimes those steps can be rushed, but often the final outcome is better if one can wait patiently. I can fill in the gaps with other construction or finishing processes, of course, but I would also often fill in the gaps with tech-tasks: editing photos; uploading those; tending to blog, Facebook, etc. In the gaps, they didn’t seem like chores: they were efficient, effective uses of waiting-time. But if I have to take time to tend to them after I’ve left the studio and gone home, which is supposed to be my refuge and not my work-place, then much less of that gets accomplished. And it spirals down even further.

I haven’t been writing about all my recent explorations (e.g., with various forms of “flex” and/or “sterling” clays, more experiments with cutting and engraving with the Silhouettes, excursions into different forms of clay entirely, and more!), which means I’ve actually been thinking less about possible variations … because those come to me while writing … which means I haven’t been making quite as much as I could either.

It also means I haven’t been able to spend gap-time there exploring alternative photo-sharing sites. Which leads to….

3. An Important Question: What’s a good photo-sharing service, and why?

The net-access issues I will leave to the community center’s governing board, but I sure could use some help identifying a good photo-sharing service. When I do manage to get online, I can do searches and read reviews but (a) I find a lot that are out of date, which I’m sure of because Picasa is listed as being among the best yet that’s what I’m being forced to replace, and (b) I’d also appreciate being able to see (and discuss) what folks who are at least somewhat “like me” are using!

  • I’m not trying to post photos to sell so, while I can add a bit to my jewelry sale prices to compensate for additional overhead, I can’t offset much price for the service that way.
  • I need space for a lot of photos, but few of them need to be super-high resolution: my aim is easy ‘net-access, not best-print quality.
  • I want an _easy_ interface for getting a link I can stick in a blog post, a Facebook post, etc.
  • I want an _easy_ way to reference photos of different sizes (e.g., tiny for a blog sidebar, small for a post, medium when I want to show off some special feature).
  • I want settings that allow me to switch between:
    • full-public access (my primary use, where people like my blog readers can see my images without having to be logged in to some service),
    • various forms of limited access (I don’t put anything online that I’d be concerned if it went public, but I may for example want to limit access for certain images that are part of a collaboration), or
    • private, just for me ( I often use the latter while building a story, and then open up access when I have a collection ready).
I sure hope I will get some good recommendations, in comments here or via email. Thanks for ANY help you can offer at this time!

Posted in Misc. Musings, Photographing Jewelry, Studio | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

I found it!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2016/07/16

I found the missing Friends & Lovers bracelet!!! I’ve written about this one before.

I first wrote about it in 2014, when I created it for a Valentine’s Day Romantic-theme challenge. It contained domed hearts that were the first trial pieces I made in my own studio with what Hadar was then calling Friendly Bronze (and now calls One Fire Bronze).

The next time I wrote about it was in 2015, when I thought I must have “put it somewhere safe” before an Open House in my studio … because my cousin, Debby, wanted to buy it to wear at her son’s wedding. But then as the big day approached, I couldn’t find it. So at pretty much the last possible minute, I made her another one, Love & Commitment.

Well, I’m here to tell you now that I hadn’t put it away for safekeeping. I had put away a couple other pieces that were already promised to customers, and I found them as expected after the show. I wasn’t sure that’s what I’d done with that bradelet, but I couldn’t imagine where else it could be. Even after making a replacement for Debby, I’d periodically look for it. My studio has many, many little cubbyholes and boxes and drawers full of bins and yet more boxes, so any time I’d decide some section needed to be cleaned up a bit, I’d check all the nooks & crannies to see if the missing bracelet was there. No luck.

But, this week, I was shuffling around some shadow boxes I use when I display pieces in gallery shows and, as I pushed one back into one of the sections in the bottom of an old china closet I use in my studio (for art & jewelry displays on the top, and supply storage below), for some reason that big one didn’t want to go in the whole way. So I got down on my knees and pulled out a couple other frames in the back to see what was wrong. And there the bracelet was, in the very farthest back corner. I have NO IDEA how it got there. None. None at all!

Funny thing is, I discovered it just about a year to the day from when I first realized it had gone missing. I remember when that was because another cousin, Marie, is here now on her annual visit east from Calinfornia, and it was during her visit here last year when I first discovered that I’d misplaced it (though I didn’t admit that to any of my cousins until a couple months later, shortly before the September wedding).

Regardless of timing, I am glad to have recovered it!

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This Weekend: Open House and More in Regent Square

Posted by C Scheftic on 2016/05/13

Spring is trying to spring and, once again, this Saturday is the annual community-wide Yard Sale organized by the Regent Square Civic Association.

Because there will be all sorts of folks wandering around the neighborhood that day, it’s also the first day of the Wilkins School Community Center’s Spring fundraiser, the Plant, Herb and Used Book Sale, from 8 am to 3 pm. There are tons of books available for $1 each (including lots of children’s- and cook-books) but, if you want any of their plants, it’s usually wise to arrive early.

And, because there will be all sorts of folks wandering around WSCC, at the same time as the Plant & Used Book Sale I’ll hold an Open House in my studio too. If you haven’t been there before, come upstairs and find me in Room #25!

The yard sales start early; the Herb, Plant, and Used Book Sale is advertized in different places at starting at either 8 or 9 am; but I have had a verrry long week, and I’m not promising to get over to Regent Square before 9 am. And, since everything will be in full swing by then, I can’t be sure just when or where I’ll be able to park, so I can’t even promise to have the doors open exactly at 9. I’ve been telling folks that on Saturday my show will start around 9 am, and run until 3 pm.

I’ll have my usual Art Jewelry selections and a small number of Aloe Vera plants for sale too. I see those as consistent with my art because a bit of goo from their leaves is great to put on burns … as in those (hopefully little) mistakes with torch or kiln!

Then, on Sunday from 12 – 3 pm, WSCC will continue their Book Sale: a whole bag for just $5! I have to miss most of that (the very long week continues…), but I should get there a little after 2 pm and plan to stay at least until 5 pm, maybe even until 7 pm. If you can’t get to Regent Square on Saturday, you’d be welcome to stop by on Sunday instead. I led a workshop on Wednesday (another really great evening at The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh!) and will spend time on Saturday making sample pieces for a June workshop there, so my plan is to run the kiln this Sunday. Firing and cooling of students’ pieces and my samples will take until around 5 pm and, if I think I can hold on until 7, I will also tumble-polish them then. (I really hope I can finish both those tasks on Sunday!) I have to be there while all of that happens, but I can do other things, so that’s when I’ll pack up my display materials, and put the majority of my pieces back into their storage bins. But it’d be great to have company, even folks just stopping by to say “Hi!” while I do that. And if you want to shop, you’d be welcome to dig around in my storage bins while they’re all there on Sunday. (Not as nice as when they’re on displays, but they stay clean and safe if I stash most of them and just rotate a few on display while I work…)

And here’s a final note about the aloes especially for my blog-readers: I keep a few because I like having them. They make babies. I drive to stores, buy nice terra cotta pots and potting soil marketed for succulents, and try to recover the costs of my own activities by selling the potted offshoots. But I’m not trying to make money on the plants themselves: I can’t bear to just throw them into the compost bin (and I refuse to put them into trash!); the extras don’t get quite enough light and nowhere near enough winter warmth off to the side im my studio; and I just want them to go to good homes! For years I grew them just fine in whatever plastic pot and soil I had on hand. Soooo, if you want to bring a medium-size pot with some soil in it, I’ll be happy to let you repot one of my aloes into your container for free! (And that’s the case year-round, not just this weekend, as long as I have aloe-offshoots in my studio…)

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Buttons, Buttons, Yet More Silver Buttons!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2016/01/12

Did you miss the button-making class at Indie Knit and Spin last November? If so, you’re in luck: I’m offering it again at the February 6 session, from 10 am to 12:30 pm!

We had a great time last year! A number of folks wandering along the hallway, checking the vendors and classes in other rooms, stopped in to see what we were doing and said they wished they’d signed up. There aren’t going to be many (if any) other classes at the February event but, since I’ll be using my own studio (i.e., Cosy doesn’t need to pay to rent another whole room for the class, and WSCC doesn’t need to schedule other events around IKS’s use of yet another of the by-the-hour classrooms), I said I’d be happy to offer this one again.

Please note: You don’t have to make actual buttons in this workshop! If you’d prefer to make a focal piece to serve as an embellishment on your fiber work, or just want to make some other type of decoration, that’s OK too. Unlike most of my workshops, where I make a point of showing how to make two-sided pieces, for buttons which are typically sewn down onto some fabric, we will just be texturing the “front” side of our pieces. But all it takes is a shift in the placement and/or size of the holes we’ll make in our pieces, and you can have another form of decoration for your work or even a few charms, earrings, or a pendant. It’s up to you!

  • For more details, see the Button Making post at the Indie Knit and Spin website.
  • As described there, to sign up for the class, send an email to cosymakes@gmail.com
  • Please sign up by 8 am on Monday, February 1, so I can have time to place an order that morning for enough material to use in the class. Seating is limited but, if spaces remain after that deadline, I’ll allow others in if but only if I have enough material for late-comers to use.


Once again, I forgot to tell Cosy to change the write-up but, as I discussed last fall, I’m planning to use .960 Sterling Silver for the class. If anyone has problems with that alloy, I will have on hand the .999 Fine Silver mentioned in the class description for you to use. The techniques used are the same either way.

(What problems, you may wonder? .999 means it’s 99.9% silver, and only silver; it’s not certified at 100% simply because no manufacturer is going to swear that not even an atom or two of something else managed to sneak in there somehow, but it’s as pure as reasonably possible. Whereas .960 means it’s only 96% silver and 4% copper has deliberately been added, so if you are someone who reacts badly to copper (or to traditional .925 sterling silver, which contains up to 7.5% copper), then you may want to stick to fine silver. It is extremely rare for anyone to have a bad skin-contact reaction to silver alone; most people who say they’re allergic to silver are actually reacting to the copper in sterling (not the silver element itself), or else to some patina chemical or polishing compound applied to their silver (which I am happy to omit for anyone with a sensitivity–there are several products I’ve learned to avoid myself!).)


Here’s looking forward to another fun class with more great participants: it’s only a little over three weeks away now, so please sign up soon.

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Thanks, again, everyone!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2015/12/17

This is just a quick Thank You note to everyone who came by my studio during one of my recent Open House events. ‘Twas great to see familiar faces and to meet new folks. I am always delighted to see my creations moving on to new homes, but it’s also just fun to have folks stop by, whether you came because I invited you, or you were at an event sponsored by the Wilkins School Community Center, or (such as with the new UE members & their friends from the East End Food Coop) you were just partying at the center and followed the signs to my studio. And I also want to note my appreciation for folks who shopped at any of the other venues that carry my works!

If you missed any of those, or have second thoughts about something you passed up, or want to buy a surprise gift for the person you were with, please let me know. I won’t be keeping a “regular” schedule between now and Christmas, but I will be in the studio off and on. I would still be happy to try to agree upon a time to meet you there!

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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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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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Crazy-busy Season

Posted by C Scheftic on 2014/12/01

Life tends to get crazy-busy this time of year, for multiple reasons, some of which I’m sure you can imagine and others would take too long to explain. So I’m just going to list a few events you may want to know about should you be interested in seeing some of my work in person:


  • November 30 – December 7: H*liday mART at Sweetwater Center for the Arts, Sewickley, PA

  • December 5-6-7: Holiday Gift Shop at the Wilkins School Community Center, Swissvale, PA

  • December 5-6-7: Open House in my Studio, to coincide with WSCC’s Holiday Gift Shop

  • December 13: Open House at the Hoyt Center for the Arts, New Castle, PA

  • December 13-14: Open House in my Studio, to coincide with an Art Studio tour in Regent Square (Swissvale, Pittsburgh, Edgewood, Wilkinsburg), PA

  • For other venues, please see the list of Ongoing locations down the right side of this blog.

If you find yourself missing any of those, no problem. Just get in touch with me: leave a comment on this post, or message me via Convergent Series page on Facebook (and, while you’re at it, a Like there would be very much appreciated…). We’ll find a way for you to explore my creations!

I’m not sure how much else I’ll manage to post this month. But I have new designs in the works, new workshop pieces I’m testing out plus, of course, new variations of ongoing favorites in both those categories … and lots more for 2015! I look forward to posting about all of those in the New Year, and I hope you’ll enjoy reading about them too.

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Soft Yarns + Hard Metals!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2014/11/14

Indie Knit & Spin returns to the Wilkins School Community Center this Saturday, November 15, from 11 am to 4 pm. And, once again, I’ll be having an open house in my studio (room #25) at the same time.

I’ll have my usual mix: a variety of pendants and earrings, plus a few bracelets and other (non-jewelry) items such as hashi oki (chopstick rests, to keep their tips off the table) / dohgu oki (tool rests, to keep them from rolling away), in a range of silver, bronzes, copper, and steel metals. I have a number of newer styles, including my popular Three Rivers pendants and some of my simpler designs to which I’ve been adding a bit more sparkle.

Most of them are ready to go. I’ll be bending earwires (out of hypoallergenic niobium and titanium headpins) and assembling my remaining earring components as the day progresses: that’s one of the most conversation-friendly and even interruptible yet productive things I can think to do as folks wander in and out. I’d be delighted if you were one of them!

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Another Anniversary: Four Years … and Another Open House!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2014/10/09

Yes, the room has evolved a bit over the years! This is what it looked like at the beginning of October, four years ago:

And this is what it looked like at the start of October this year, set up the way I tend to have it when I’m working there on my own:

The table in the middle, to the right with a bright blue tablecloth on it is where I work with base metal clays (i.e., bronze, copper, steel), while the one to the left with a white tablecloth is where I work on precious metals (e.g., fine silver or gold). I spent my early metal clay years (back when the only options were among the precious metal varieties) working on a single “TV tray table” in my family room, but now I just love having the space to work that way: it just seems practical to me, as a way to help me remember which clay I’m working on and whether I have to clean off a tool if it’s coming from the “other” table, to avoid cross-contamination. (There’s nothing special about the colors, just that they differ. When I teach a workshop using all one kind of clay, both tables get covered in the same color, and tools can move across without giving it a second thought….) The “CD cabinets” with all the little cubbies behind those work-tables are segregated by metal-type: when I put things away, they go on the side where they were last used. Or, if I’ve already cleaned them up and they can go anywhere next, there’s space designated for that too….

Ahhh, but which side do you think I use when I’m working with sterling silver, since sterling is an alloy of silver and copper? (Leave your guess as a comment on this post!)

Except, right now, I’m not working with metals. I’m trying to clean the room up a bit, put away all the tools (a good excuse to look at the set-up and decide if I need to rearrange few more things), and turn it into my “shop” layout:

Because EcoFest will be happening all over the community center this Saturday, which is an excuse for me to hold an Open House. Here’s an example: two new bronze pieces I’ll have available:

(Sorry for the harsh color of that last photo. In person, they’re still bright but somehow much “softer” in color. Two of my overhead lights are out, one of my photo-station lights went out. (I’d bought a two-pack, so I tried to use the other one, and it’s not working at all either… And, no, it’s not the lamp. I tried the bulbs in a different lamp that I know is working, and they don’t turn on there either.) I’ve been drowning in different deadlines the past few weeks, and I just haven’t had time to deal with specialized light bulbs. And I still have a backlog of PMC Flex pieces to finish, fire, polish, and write about.

If you’re in the SW Pa area on Saturday, October 11, though, do stop by and I’ll be happy to show you what-all I have finished and what-else is in the works. I’ll be there from 10 am to 2 pm. Even if you can’t get to my studio on Saturday, you’d also be welcome to come to the next meeting of the Western PA Metal Clay Guild on Sunday, October 26, from 11:30 am until around 3 pm. I do have to finish off some of the Flex pieces by then, because that’s when I’d promised to do some demos and, if folks want, hold a mini-workshop on Flex. That won’t be in my studio, though; it’ll be in the Art Room at Rodef Shalom (in the Oakland neighborhood, near Carnegie Mellon). One place or another, for those near here I hope to see you; or, for everyone, at least, to hear from you….

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NEW CLASSES! Copper, Bronzes, & Steel: A 4-Part Series in May

Posted by C Scheftic on 2014/04/08

In addition to the workshops I’ve offered in fine silver for what seems like ages now, I’ve also been teaching classes in these non-precious metals too, mostly on-demand private or semi-private sessions, plus a few in local bead shops. All were relatively short, covering just one or two techniques in one or two day (or evening) events only.

Now, I’ve taken the best of the best and spiffed them up with some of the things I’ve learned in the last year with Hadar’s group of teachers worldwide. And I’m thrilled to be offering that great new combination in a four-session series, on Sunday afternoons in May, in my studio in the Regent Square (Swissvale) neighborhood, just east of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Whether you’re a beginner, or already have some experience with metal clay, you will make at least four separate items: a bracelet, a pair of earrings, and two pendants. Some may involve a single metal; others will combine various bronze formulas with copper and/or steel. You’ll learn every step of the process, from design through basic construction and on to final finishing for your pieces.

You’ll get to use at least three different metals (from yellow bronze, champagne bronze, dark champagne bronze, iron bronze, rose bronze, copper, and/or steel). Don’t know the difference between them? You’ll learn that too!

We’ll meet each Sunday in May (4, 11, 18, and 25*), from 12 to 5 pm. That’s 20 whole hours of instruction in a small class (max 6 students)!

* Yes, May is such a busy month! We will meet on Mother’s Day. But let me know if you’re hesitant to sign up simply because May 25 is part of the Memorial Day weekend. Several alternatives for that final date are possible!

Posted in Events, Studio, Teaching Metal Clay | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Sigh … I’m feeling just a little sorry for myself …

Posted by C Scheftic on 2014/01/08

I’ll get over it. There’s no major crisis. But I haven’t been able to work in my studio for several weeks now. I don’t do “this” full-time, far from it in fact, but I’m kind of frustrated, now feeling like I’m starting the year far behind schedule!

I knew the building where I rent my studio was going to be “closed” over the holidays, with a lot of painting going on. In theory, that was a good thing. A number of the rooms (not mine) had had some damage from a roof leak. The leak had been fixed last year and the damaged parts patched, but things still looked a bit worn. So they were taking advantage of the holiday-lull to paint ceilings and walls.

And, as a tenant, I have keys and can get in the building even if it’s closed to public events. So, in theory, I could have gone in then. I did stop in briefly a few times, in fact, only to have confirmed my fears that a mid-winter paint job with all the windows sealed shut would mean an atmosphere full of unpleasant fumes. Maybe not as bad as they might have been a few decades ago, but still not ones I wanted to breathe for extended work-sessions. Besides, it was “the holidays,” so I just planned to spend a week celebrating with a range of friends.

Except … the notice about when the painting would be completed was incorrect. Though the painting of “public” rooms finished on December 31, as I’d planned for, there were four more days of painting to be done in the “rented” rooms that had also suffered the leak-damage. With a closed building, that meant probably five more days of fumes. Five more days of avoiding the studio.

Now, the rooms do look lovely! No longer are those spaces all a bland, institutional cream; now their walls sport a range of khaki, yellow, green, and blue colors. Aside from my bit of personal frustration, I must say the place is looking much better. (While I remain glad that I did not suffer ceiling bits falling into my metal clay projects back when the leaks were happening, the down-side there is that it did make my room ineligible for new paint in this round….) Still, though I’d “lost” a few more days, at that point I remained OK.

But … that wasn’t the end of it! I don’t know just what happened, but there was some plumbing issue downstairs that meant no water and limited electricity for a few days. That got resolved. But, then there was a water main break just as the “polar vortex” was approaching: water rushing down the lovely old cobblestone road created a thick, wide stream of icy, deep, freezing slush that basically blocked access to the building. That did get fixed before the depths of the arctic blast reached us, but I knew my room’s lovely-but-leaky windows (the only “original” ones remaining in the building) would leave the room unpleasantly cold. So I decided to wait another day before going back.

Today. Only to find that the furnace that heats my room had gone out. There are, I think, ten separate heating units in the building. All but one are working. But the one that’s out is my main heat source. And, yes, I did think about firing up a kiln. But a unit intended to heat less than 1 cubic foot is not going to have much impact on my 7000 cu ft room (350 sq ft footprint with 20′ ceiling!).

I have an electric space heater that I turned on, which brought the temps up from low-40s to mid-50s. But that’s as far as that little unit can take it. (I do have another space heater at home I could bring over, but I also know that the room’s old circuitry won’t handle it. The heater that is working is plugged into the new line that was installed so I could run any one of kiln or space heater or air conditioning unit.)

Furnace-guy has been called, and is scheduled to check it out tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon. If we’re into a situation where obtaining parts is an issue, the back-up plan is that I’ll move what I need into a room across the hall. It’s a nice space in many ways but the lighting in that room is entirely different from what I have in my studio. And moving and settling in will take up time too. So I’m hoping the furnace-fix is an easy one.

And I know it will all get resolved. I’ll get back to work. It’s just that I’d just been soooo looking forward to finishing some catch-up tasks before deadlines started heating up again. And, poof!, day-after-day, that fantasy has now evaporated. I’m just not feeling as resilient as I wish I could manage right now…. So using my computer (which, of course, is in the cold studio) I post this, quickly for the moment, with very cold fingers, and apologize that I’ve not yet managed to update the information down the right side here, nor the Classes page on my website. It’s coming…

(The photo with this post shows the back deck of my house one year when I lived in Minnesota. It was taken five days after a frozen-rainstorm in January, 1996, that was followed, on February 2 of that year, by record-setting cold temperatures (-60° F in northern parts of the state, merely in the -50s where I lived). I really am trying to regain a sense of perspective here!)

Posted in Studio | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Merry Christmas to All!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2013/12/25

This is a slightly belated “Thank You!” to everyone who braved the weather to head out for this year’s Art Buzz tour. Whether you faced the sleet, snow, and ice on Saturday, or more ice and biting cold on Sunday, your support of independent, local artists is much appreciated, perhaps more than you can imagine.

And, to those of you who are the recipients of gifts or gift cards purchased during that event, I hope you are as delighted with them as your gifter appeared to be while making the purchase.

For anyone trying to find my schedule of upcoming classes, I’ll be working on that later this week. I hope to have it posted on my website the first week of January (and I’ll announce it here). If you need info sooner than that, let me know, and I can give you some preliminary (but subject to change) information.

In the meantime, I hope all my blog-readers are having a very Merry Christmas, and enjoying everything about this holiday season.

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2013 Art Buzz Tour — This Weekend!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2013/12/14

Have you heard the buzz? Six sites! All in the Pittsburgh area’s “East End” this weekend: Regent Square, Swissvale, and Squirrel Hill. And my studio is one of the locations on it again this year.

I’ve got lots of jewelry on offer, plus a handful of other small adornments.

I also have aloe vera plants that need a new home, babies that i repotted from some of the big ones I keep around. (I do work with hot metals here!) BONUS: small ones are free with a purchase of $35 or more (or a discount can be applied to the price of any of the larger ones if that’s what you prefer).

Plus you’re welcome to share some of my cookies and hot mulled cider. (I also got the makings for cranberry-orange frosties but, with all the snow that’s falling, I’ll save that until there’s a request or I run out of cider, whichever comes first.)

Happy Holidays to all!

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Impromptu Show!!!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2013/11/16

I’m having a show at my studio later today!! Given the wee hour of the night at which I am writing this, assuming I make it up and over there in time, it will run from 11 am to 5 pm. (I definitely plan to stay until 5 pm; the question is whether I can get a show open by 11.)

Why? Well, Friday evening I learned that Indie Knit and Spin will be having their annual show in the building where I have my studio, on Saturday from 11 to 5. And, not just in the building, but actually upstairs where my space is, in rooms on either side of me. How can I not take advantage of all those shoppers just walking past my door?! (My aerie’s hallway does not normally see much traffic: most of the “events” in the building are held downstairs.)

Now, the thing is, I wasn’t supposed to be in town this weekend. I’d had some clay-play time planned with a friend who, due to family constraints, had to change that at pretty much the last minute. Not to worry, thought I, I need to sort and check tags and confirm prices and do inventory for several upcoming shows, I’ll just take advantage of the “found time” to do that. I’d earlier retrieved some unsold items from various places and had left those at home; last night I’d just finished packing up every remaining item I could possibly want to sell when I got the news.

So I’m up way later than I’d planned checking that everything is in the spreadsheets and priced accurately. Not everything has a tag yet, but maybe I can spread it all out and work on that in studio tomorrow while shoppers browse. I’ve also made up some little flyers (not as creative as I’d like, but this is last-minute) listing the other local events where my work will be available.

If you’re in the area, do stop by. (And, if you’re not, but get a chuckle out of my last-minute planning here, please at least send me a few words of encouragement to keep me going on not-enough sleep! Thanks!!!)

I will close with a quick snapshot (on borrowed camera since I’ve still not sorted out the problems with mine yet, and its colors are off a bit for some reason) of just a few of the pieces I have on hand. Each of these has a little stone (lab-created corundum or spinel) that will glow in the winter’s light….

Posted in Events, Studio | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Thanks for stopping by!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2013/10/05

Just a quick note to say “Thanks!” to everyone who (a) came to EcoFest at WSCC today and (b) came upstairs to visit me & my studio! And, of course, a double-thanks to everyone who left with a purchase…!

For those who could not make it over today, the photo with this post shows what it looked like, as I converted my studio / classroom into a little showroom for one day. The worktables were cleaned off and draped. Display stands were pulled out of the cabinet. Inventory was brought in from its usual (secure) storage area. A few seasonal decorations even appeared … courtesy of a delightful Harvest Dinner that I attended on Thursday evening, sponsored by the Edible Gardens program at servePGH. I was lucky enough to win the mums (table centerpiece). And a fellow-gardener, Bertha, collected some gourds that she shared with me. Perfect timing!

For now, though, it’s time to stash the extra inventory again (leaving out just a few pieces to keep in the studio, ones that I want to use as examples for upcoming workshops), pack up the displays, get out all the tools and such, and get back to making things!

My next Studio Open House will be during the Art Buzz Tour which, this year, will be on December 14-15 (10-4 each day). Mark your calendars now, if you’ll be in the area then. I’ll post more news about that as the time approaches. (Hint: I’m hoping to have a few great additions to tell you about!)

If you are interested in doing some shopping between now and then, of course, feel free to stop by and see if I have anything on hand that will suit your needs, or let me know what you’re looking for and I may be able to dig out some other possibilities before you come over.

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Found!!!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2013/03/16

My bifocal safety glasses have reappeared! I am delighted!

They went missing months ago. I forget when. Maybe October? Sometime back during the big making-rush before the holiday sales season.

I kept thinking, “Where could they have gone?” And, eventually, “I really need to replace those.” Then, when I was off placing an order for something or other, I’d forget about them—didn’t need them to do that! Later, when I wanted to use them, I’d remember. And think, no, they cost enough as it is and I’m willing to pay that, but I’m not going to pay an extra full shipping and handling charge just for them. Next time I place an order…. And the cycle continued.

Today, I was working on some pieces for an assignment in the accreditation program for Hadar’s Clay teachers. I’d finished the necessary pieces but thought, hey, why not make a few other things too, to be efficient and fire up a full kiln-load. I was just finishing up on a few flower-theme pieces for the Western PA Garden Marketplace on April 20 when, carrying several from the dehydrator back to my worktable, I dropped a little dried-clay (“greenware”) tulip onto the floor. Being still-fragile in that state, it broke into several pieces. And they went heading in several different directions. As I was crawling around on the floor trying to retrieve those, something caught the corner of my eye. What is that, I thought?

I reached under the middle of the futon in a corner of my studio. I had to lie down on the floor and stretch to reach the black “thing” I could barely see. When I got my hand on it, I was suddenly pretty sure what it was, but I actually had to do some maneuvering to get it out from under the base of that seating. And, yes, it was the missing bifocal safely glasses!

I have no idea how they got there. I have no idea how I did not see them when I moved everything around doing a major clean-up before the Art Buzz tour last December. I suspect that they may have gotten extra-hidden by all that moving, because there’s no way they could have just fallen down to where I finally found them. But who knows….

All I know is that they are back and I am very happy!

They are an incredibly useful tool!

Posted in Misc. Musings, Studio | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

2012 Art Buzz Tour — This Weekend

Posted by C Scheftic on 2012/12/03

Have you heard the buzz? It’s even louder this year! Over forty artists! Seven sites! All in the Pittsburgh area’s “East End” this weekend. And my studio is one of the locations on it again this year.

At WSCC (where I’ll be), the Holiday Gift Shop will still be running downstairs, and I am pretty sure that Daviea Davis will have her glass mosaic studio open too, upstairs across the hall from mine.

2012 Art Buzz Map

If you’re in the area, I sure hope you can stop by. To say, “Hello” and “Happy Holidays” at least. If, for some reason, you can’t get yourself there in person, how about leaving a holiday greeting as a “comment” on this blog post. Even having you say just “Hello” or “Happy Holidays” would be much appreciated!

I look forward to seeing / hearing from you, dear readers, so I can extend my best wishes for this holiday season to you too, in return, in a more personal way.

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