Convergent Series

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

Posts Tagged ‘charms’

Trying to “catch up” a bit: the 2014 Western PA Metal Clay charm exchange

Posted by C Scheftic on 2015/02/23

Now, the delay in posting this is not entirely my fault. OK, some of the delay is, just not all of it.

Most (but not all) years, members of the Western PA Metal Clay guild hold a holiday-season charm exchange. For some reason, it rarely gets agreed to very far in advance (which, of course, is why some years it just doesn’t happen…). In 2014, well into the fall, it was decided to not do it in December but, instead, skip that gathering (fair enough, it is a very busy time of year for everyone) and do the exchange in November. Aack!

One of the things with the last minute planning is that we do let people exchange IOUs. That is, if you want to participate, but can’t get charms made in time, you can exchange an IOU that you’ll deliver your charms by our next meeting. Me, I find November easily as frantic a time as December and, though I made several attempts to block out a chunk of time for charm-making, each block kept getting eaten up by something else for which there was no escape. But I do enjoy the exchanges, so I jumped at the chance to use the IOU option. We typically exchange three (3) charms according to some rule or other. In the past, for example, we’ve put all the charms in a stocking and drawn pieces at random. This time, we changed the plan and did direct back-and-forth exchanges.

The first photo shows the charms I received in the exchange. The bee in a circle, highlighted with gold colored guilder’s paste, was from Holly Dobkin. The puzzle piece, highlighted with Vintaj patina color, was from Debbie Rusonis. And the abstract circle, highlighted with a liver of sulphur (LOS) patina, was from Georgie Nix. I love the artistry of all three, in general, and was very happy to receive their 2014 ideas.

Now, I could have posted that much right away. But I decided I wanted to wait until I could post the pieces I offered in exchange. I started them in mid-December (after my last show of the season), but we didn’t have a meeting set for that month, so I let the final step slip into early January. Except, we cancelled the January meeting due to weather issues … and I didn’t want to post my pics until the recipients had their pieces in hand. Finally, we met (despite winter weather this time) in February. Yesterday afternoon. So, at last, here’s what I offered in return. They were made from Hadar’s Quick-fire bronze. (The photos were taken before I added oval bronze jump rings.)

Even though we typically exchange three charms, while I’m making mine I always add at least one and sometimes several more. This time, I tried to make five: three for the exchange, one for me to keep, and one extra for some time when having a little treat to offer would be useful. Except, somehow, I managed to crack one of the pieces while I was joining its two dried segments (I was so annoyed with myself: I even managed to crack both parts at once!) and it just did not seem worth the trouble to try to repair it. Instead, I reconstituted that clay and used it for something else later on.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I love to make reversible pieces, and I do that even for little charms. For these, one side simply displays a deeply-textured pattern. I ended up being very happy I’d waited until December to even start these, because that permitted me to use the charms as my very first attempt at a variation on the Chip Inlay Project for the Holidays posted by Hadar Jacobson on December 3rd! The final photos shows what I did on the “other” side of each charm: I made little cups that I could fill with something called “Painted Desert Sand” that I’d gotten a while back for a completely different reason. As my first attempt at this process, I’m definitely keeping the fourth charm, both as a reminder to myself and as a sample to use in discussions with other artists or students.

I hope my guild-mates will let me know how these seem to hold up. I believe they’ll be fine, and I’ll be happy to replace any that appear to have any problems, but I’d sure rather learn about that from a sympathetic fellow artist than a possibly irritated customer. I’ve since used the technique on a few other pieces I’m testing out myself. Basic images of those, if not more detailed reports, will appear here eventually. (For now, I will say only that there are both similarities and differences among various fillers and holding agents…) I’ll say more once I’m confident in what I’m talking about with these, not just displaying untested guesses.

For now, though, I just want to be sure folks know that making these sure is fun!

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Snow ==> White ==> Christmas

Posted by C Scheftic on 2013/02/09

Thinking about the winter white-out storm that has been and continues to bear down on a number of northeastern states today, here is a very belated Christmas-time report from back during my blog-hiatus.

How did my brain make this connection? I was born in the midwest. I have no actual memory of my original home, however, because my family moved east to Ohio in my first year of life. I do have a few memories from that, but only a few: within two years we moved farther east, to Pennsylvania.

Then, when I was in second grade, my father won a trip to visit the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team at their Spring Training Camp in Florida, which was then in the Gulf-side area of Fort Myers. My parents fell in love with Florida and, a few years later we moved down that way, although we ended up settling on the eastern (Atlantic) side.

Thus, I typically say that I come from / grew up in South Florida, because that’s where most of my youthful memories come from. Although I do have a few early memories of the White Christmas phenomenon, my biggest association with white-winter snowstorms involves how much I would hope that there’d be enough snow to cancel school! I remember sitting with my mother on the porch of our house, both of us bundled-up in winter-wear, and having her tell me that I would have to go as long as the snow had not come up higher than the step. And being terribly disappointed a few weeks later, when several snowstorms had accumulated that much, that I did still have to go to school …. because it hadn’t come up a whole step in one storm! Having snow at Christmas was never a big deal to me: for the few years we lived there, getting enough snow to cancel school was what mattered to me!

In Florida, each year we hosted various visitors from those northern climates. They would note some differences (e.g., the summer heat and ocean breezes; those from the mountain-areas would remark on the flatness of the land; etc.) but the one thing all those folks would make a big deal about was, “I just don’t see how it can feel like Christmas without snow, without even a chance of having a White Christmas.” Now, readers of this blog who live in warmer areas probably know the standard response to that: “Well, what do you think the weather was like on the First Christmas, the day Baby Jesus was born: Was it closer to snow in the mountains, or to sand and palm trees?!”

Still Snow ==> White ==> Christmas is a common set of associations in the culture in which I live, so it’s easy for me to make the connection in that context. Thus, the photos with this snow-day post are from the Charm Exchange that the Western PA Chapter of the PMC Guild held again, just before Christmas, last December.

The three fine silver charms shown here, below/left, are the ones I received in our “grab-bag” style exchange. They come from guild-mates Georgie Nix, Susie Varoli, and Barbara Kaczor. Clearly, Barbara’s ornament commemorates the holiday season. Susie’s reflects her own sparkly personality and the camaraderie of the group. And Georgie’s illustrates the complex thinking that goes into of all her lovely artistry. I’m thrilled with all of them but I will note that I’ve even worn Georgie’s as a pendant several times, rather than risking its getting hidden in the jumble of one of my charm bracelets….

But there was something else very interesting going on this year: with jewelers exchanging gifts, their packaging often reflects their artistry as well! Shown at the very top of this post (to the right) is a shot I managed to capture of several of the charm packages as they went into the grab-bag. The one in the middle held the “friends” charm, and is a lovely, hand-made, 3-dimensional construction with, from Susie Varoli, a little more sparkle. The other two, that were ultimately selected by others in the group, are from Alice Walkowski and Michelle Glaeser. Both of them recently bought themselves one of the Silhouette Cameo cutters that began sweeping the metal clay community last year. Originally used a lot in scrapbook-making, they can be used for adorable little packages like this, whether you use their features for cutting (Alice’s, to the left, with cut-out green exposing red under-layer) or drawing (Michelle’s, to the right, with white ink drawn on green).

Our group had a great time, as we typically do at our monthly gatherings. I hope that all my readers had a great holiday season and that the illnesses and snowstorms and everything that seems to be circulating since the new year began are not limiting your opportunities for creative expression!

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The Charm(s) of Mika Tajiri

Posted by C Scheftic on 2012/08/15

This note will finish up on one item, leftover from my last post, about the charm exchange at the 2012 PMC Guild Conference….

The first two photos here, to the left, show both sides of the charm I received from Mika Tajiri in the charm exchange at the 2010 PMC Guild Conference. Although I did not make a big deal about it at the time, my immediate reaction was that, while I certainly enjoyed all the charms I received that year, this one was definitely among my favorites, both for the overall design, and for its being reversible!

But there was something else. Right at the moment of exchange, all I knew was that I was trading with a couple of “the Japanese ladies” who had come over for the conference. In retrospect, I did not recall noticing any jewelry this artist was wearing: But I remember being charmed by her, in particular, with her apparent delight at participating in the exchange.

Later, I saw her again in the “Show and Sell” area, and that’s when I did notice the jewelry she was wearing. I had just seen it in a recent issue of Fusion (which was (then) the quarterly journal of the (now much modified) PMC Guild): She had won one of the “Favorites” awards at the 2010 Hobby Show in Japan! And that evening she was wearing another piece from that collection. I recognized it immediately.

With a lot of smiling and hand-motions, I managed to ask, and she managed to confirm, that she was the person who had made the pieces (i.e., she wasn’t just wearing something gorgeous that she’d bought from that artist), and that my memory was correct that the charm I was already wearing on my bracelet from that year was also hers. Honestly, I felt like I had won the charm-lottery: a favorite charm was by a delightful artist who had won an award for a piece that I really admired!

So, at the 2012 conference’s charm exchange, I will admit that she was one of the artists I was hoping to spot for an exchange. When I caught sight of her, she was again wearing one of her signature pieces. I gave her a big smile, which she returned immediately. Which was just the friendly thing to do, right? Since I was wearing a collection of my charm-exchange bracelets linked together as a necklace, I reached for the segment from 2010, located her piece, and held it up with another smile, to indicate that I recognized her. Which brought on happy hand motions to say that, if I’d brought charms this year, she’d be happy to exchange again. Yes!

Well, the business card she included this year (photo with black background; but with no website listed … unless I just missed that in the part written in Japanese) included an image of her winning piece from 2010. And her “charm” for 2012 was a simpler, miniature piece made the same way as those other elements (the last photo, left, with this post). She was giving these lovely pieces away to others, in exchange for whatever little piece we had made. I was delighted with its design, and thrilled by this generosity!

I know, from talking with several other artists who traded with her, that we all think this one is both too lovely and too delicate to risk getting beat up on a fun-but-clunky charm bracelet. This is the one I held out (as mentioned in my last post): it has gone on a chain all by itself so I can wear it as a necklace. People I know ask if I’ve made it and I have to say, “No, but I sure wish I could both imagine and execute pieces like the charming Mika Tajiri makes!”

And this post is my way of saying an extra “Thank you!” to her for honoring me with one of these.

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Two More Charm Bracelets for the Collection….

Posted by C Scheftic on 2012/08/12

It’s taken me almost two months (where has the summer gone!) but I figured it was time to post a follow-up showing all the treats I got during the Charm Exchange at the 2012 PMC Guild Conference.

With a change of both venue and of overall schedule, there had been a bit of uncertainty as to whether this very popular exchange would even happen at all this time. Once there was confirmation that a modified form of the exchange would take place, and in between lots of other commitments and deadlines, I did manage to make a collection of small, very simple (but, this being me, reversible) charms in a mix of silver (some shiny; some with a patina) and bronze (some the traditional yellow color; others in the more-coppery rose bronze).

Alice and I had a great time “carpooling” out to Kentucky for the conference. Since we’d taken my car the last time we went together, this time we took hers. And she drove, which meant I was able to sit in the passenger seat and add jump rings to all of my charms while we chatted our way across five states: whew! Once I’d finished adding those, I kept going with jump rings and made a pair of bracelets: one out of Argentium sterling silver (with a sterling lobster clasp) and the other out of bronze (with a copper lobster clasp). Admittedly, a moving car is not necessarily the ideal setting for those activities, but it’s not like I was doing complex chain maille, we were mostly on good interstate highways, and Alice’s driving was nice and smooth. (I will let her declare whether that’s her normal mode or a concession to my activities.) So it was easy to complete those tasks and they even added to how quickly the time seemed to pass.

As I’d said before the conference (an event which also happened to extend over the Summer Solstice), I called mine “Moonlit Garden” charms, “not just because I cut them in a waxing/waning moon shape, but also because they have a sort of moonscape texture on one side, and some sort of garden-theme texture on t’other (cherry blossoms, gingko leaves, roses, ferns, or various daisies).” My idea was that all followed that same theme, but no two were alike.

Curiously, as I was adding their jump rings, I did notice three “pairs” that seemed to match up nicely. I stuffed those in a different pocket, thinking I could later sell those as earrings (and make a little money to help recoup a bit of the cost of all the charms…). One of the fifty charms I made went into the thank-you box that was presented to Tim McCreight and I kept a bronze one for my own bracelet as a record of what I’d done. That left me 42 to exchange: an ideal number for the two bracelet-chains I’d just made.

And, now, I’d like to thank all of the following metal clay artists for exchanging charms with me:

All but one of those charms are shown above. I’m hoping to find time to write about that other one in a separate post….

Also not shown here, but much appreciated as well, are the non-charm trades I received from:

I’m thanking you here too, because I’m not sure when I’ll get around to posting something about how I used your little treats. But I expect they will show up eventually….

For anyone who included a link on the card that came with your charm, I included that on my list. If you didn’t, but I could find you in a quick, easy online search, I added what I found. Otherwise, I’ve just listed you without a link but, if you stumble across this note and have one you’d like me to add, let me know and I will update this post with that information. (Ditto for any other changes or corrections I need to make.)

I sure hope all of you (as well as any of the other artists I somehow missed in the exchange) are as happy with your new charm collection as I am with mine! Happy claying, everyone!

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Charmed (by) the Love of Craft

Posted by C Scheftic on 2011/02/10

The Society for Contemporary Craft held a great little double-event this evening.

Both were sort of built on their current ongoing exhibit, DIY: A Revolution in Handicrafts, which runs from 10 September 2010 through 26 March 2011.

One was called For the Love of Craft and, in anticipation of Valentine’s Day, it was an opportunity to participate in a range of hands-on (DIY…), family-friendly, art-making activities, many of which involved heart images and other expressions of love (e.g., you could decorate your own large heart-shaped cookie to present to your loved one).

Tonight’s other event was the opening of the Charmed II display in the society’s Store. From their description: “Charms can be purchased individually for a charm bracelet, or can be worn alone as a pendant. Buy a pair of [the lighter] charms to wear as earrings, or give one to a friend, a sibling, or significant other. Charms are a great way to start your collection of artist-made jewelry, or to add to your existing collection.” [the note was mine, after really admiring some of the largest pieces…]

Now, I’ve got nothing against hearts, sweets, DIY, or Valentine’s Day, but I think the photo that accompanies this post might give a hint of which was the driving-factor behind why I went… I never was much of a charm-bracelet person until recently, but metal-clayers do tend to be charm-exchangers… (The photo shows the four charm bracelets I’ve filled with charms from various exchanges.) Of course, those are mostly quick production numbers, little mini-art pieces, but still intended simply for random exchange.

The charms in SCC’s Shop right now may be small (with some not so small) but they are still full-scale art… If you’re interested in having one, get it while you can!

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WPaPMC 2010 Holiday Charm Exchange

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/12/12

A few days ago I said I’d write another post about one other activity at the holiday-season meeting Western PA Chapter of the PMC Guild: our charm exchange. While a charm exchange can happen any number of ways, we typically swap three at a time. Each person makes three, all of them go into a grab-bag, and then the bag (or box or hat or whatever) gets passed around the table three times, with each participant getting to select one charm each time. (If you happen to grab your own, or a duplicate of one you already got this time, you just put it back and pick a different one.)

We set up some other rules too, though we’re not at all strict about enforcing them. One of the so-called rules for this one was to make your charms follow a theme that represented some aspect of either Pittsburgh or southwestern Pennsylvania. Your choice how to implement that.

My charms, above, incorporate three ideas. First of all, the overall shape of the charm itself refers to Pittsburgh’s history as the “Steel City.” It is loosely based on a part of the logo for both US Steel (based here) and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The embellishments on one side are meant to represent the “Three Rivers” (where the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers join to form the Ohio river, which flows into the Mississippi and then on to the Gulf of Mexico). Historically, that confluence was a major factor in much of the development of this area. The branching design on the other side, in one way, could be taken as reinforcing the rivers-theme but, even more, it is my way of noting the oft-repeated comparison that Pittsburgh does not always feel like a city, but more like a “big small town” in the way people connect to and interact with each other.

One of our members, Barbara, had made charms for the exchange but was at the last minute unable to join us. So we managed to let her participate in absentia, and I am holding onto the ones that were drawn for her until she can get over to pick them up.

Two of the charms Barbara got are shown above. The one that I really had trouble getting even a halfway decent shot of (because of its smooth texture and bright shine) is an adorable Pittsburgh Pieroghi that Sally made. The other, with a holiday-theme instead of Pittsburgh (see what I mean about following, or not, the rules?) is a great little Christmas tree ornament from Lois.

Both Barbara and I got one of Michelle’s charms (below, left). She didn’t actually follow the rules either, but admits that after the fact she came up with an explanation that almost works.

Michelle moved here just a few years ago from New Mexico, and still marvels at the brightness, intensity, and color range of autumn leaves in this area, so her charm with an autumn leaf and a little acorn fits that part of it (even though the majority of it is not made from some form of metal clay … which was another (unenforced) rule).

The other charm shown above is the one I got from Alice, with her impression of the Smithfield Street Bridge in downtown Pittsburgh. (Another rule was to ID your charm on the outside of its package, so people could re-choose if they got a charm from someone they’d already exchanged with. Alice, like several other participants, ID’d hers on the inside…) Even though I had earlier exchanged with Alice, I’m glad I got that one: for a number of years I worked right at the end of that bridge (for two different companies, both in the same building, between the two different times I spent in grad school), and I walked over it regularly.

The other charm I got is this amazingly detailed house by Holly Dobkin. It reminds me of the house I lived in the last time I lived in Pittsburgh … which included the time I worked next to the Smithfield Street bridge. (I keep coming and going: I’m currently on my fifth different time here.) So for me, this one matches up beautifully with Alice’s charm. And it almost goes with Michelle’s: although, for me, acorns remind me of my house when I lived in Minnesota, all of them still resonate with “home.”

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Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/12/09

The Western PA Chapter of the PMC Guild held its inaugural meeting in May of 2008 in the Trevanion Room of the Wilkins School Community Center–the same center where I now have my studio. At that meeting were the three founding members (me, Donna Penoyer, and Jan Durkin), along with four other charter members (Alice Walkowski, Karen Haugh, Laura Tabakman, and Stacey Carulli who was representing Beyond Beads). In both 2008 and 2009, the shop Beyond Beads hosted our holiday season meeting but, between our growth and their move to a location with less meeting room, we were not able to hold it there this year.

Not to worry, I thought (way back, months ago, before I’d actually moved into new studio), I can now just offer to host that one. Although we have over 60 local “members” in our online community, we rarely get more than about twenty at any one particular meeting. We’re actually delighted with our current size: big enough to have a great mix of people, but with a small enough regular attendance that we can still fit into a range of different sites!

What with the first serious cold snap and snow of the season, a series of nasty “bugs” going around, and all the activities this time of year, I was delighted when sixteen members still managed to get to our annual “Holiday Season” meeting on Wednesday night. We could have squeezed in a few more, had they shown up, but sixteen was just about the right number to fit in, ah, cosily. The photos with this post were taken during a break for refreshments and small-group discussions.

Our meetings always start with a “show & tell” session. Particpants show off their latest creations and talk about making them: new techniques tried, problems encountered, work-arounds involved, lessons learned, etc. Others are free to ask questions or offer suggestions. Lots of ooh-ing and aaah-ing is involved. New rings, in particular, seem to get delayed in their trip around the table, as people try to figure out which finger they best fit and how they feel, as well as how they were made. If you weren’t at the meeting, you can see photos of a few of the rings and other pieces that were passed around, such as two of the rings Donna Penoyer made for Whole Lotta Whimsy’s Master Muse projects, and one of the rings and a couple other pieces that Holly Dobkin made for Morgan Contemporary Glass’s annual Teapots! exhibit. (If any other members have relevant online-links, please let me know and I’ll be happy to add them here.) My major new creation for the Show & Tell this time, of course, was the studio in which we met!

Lindsay Newell, who came to join us after a number of years doing traditional metalsmithing (using sterling silver) had requested a demo and discussion on making fine silver bezels. Several other members generously met that request: Donna P demonstrated several techniques and issues with using fine silver bezel wire; Michelle Glaeser demonstrated the use of PMC+ sheet clay on a metal clay backing piece (one of the “Jen Kahn” approaches). In both, other members chimed in with additional questions, tips, and more.

If I can find the time in a few days, I’ll add another post discussing some other items from that evening. For now, however, I close with the thought that, in this season of giving, then, I want to thank everyone who gave something to help make that evening such a success.

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Charm Bracelet #2 from the Conference

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/08/13

With tomorrow morning looming as a deadline, since our next guild chapter meeting will start off with a “Show & Tell” session, late this afternoon at last I sat out in the breeze on my front porch and (1) assembled three sizes of bronze jump rings into a simple bracelet and (2) attached my remaining charms from this year’s charm exchange (about 1/3 of my total “haul”). And here it is!

The ones on the other bracelet from this event are all completely, predominantly silver. The ones on this bracelet are either (a) clearly copper or bronze, (b) may contain a bit of silver but that’s not the predominant material, (c) silver wth a color added that I thought would go well with these or, (d) not clear to me exactly what material was used (e.g., the one from Mary Ellin D’Agostino (the narrow rectangle at about 7 o’clock) may (or may not) include a base made of her “married metals” (a self-made alloy of silver and copper clays) with a small silver square-shaped component on top). But, I think these eleven (including one of my very-first bronze fans) make a nice mix.

If you’re one of those people who pays really close attention to details, you may have noticed that neither the description above nor the photo include the concept of a clasp… Oh, well! At one point, I was looking at bronze clasps I might buy and thought, if I buy a chain it’s have one, and if I make a chain I’ll make the clasp to go with it. Well, here I am with a piece that’s calling out for a simple manufactured clasp. I may find one at the shop (Your Beading Heart) tomorrow, or I may just wait until a different opportunity arises. Easy enough.

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A Regular Event: The Charm Exchange

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/08/05

One of the regular events at PMC Guild conferences is an evening reception that involves a charm exchange.

Participation in the exchange is optional, but lots of fun. Prior to leaving for the event, you make up a number of charms: how many is your choice, but if you think that 15-20 makes a good-size charm bracelet, a lot of people will use that as a guide. (Of course, there’s no reason to limit yourself to a bracelet. Some folks will make a necklace. Others will decorate a purse. And so on: it’s entirely up to you!) At the reception, folks will wander around asking, “Do you have charms to exchange?” If the answer is, “Yes,” then you hand one over and get one in return. (At the end, a few people who made a lot will find that everyone else seems to have exhausted their pieces to exchange, but will often be generous and just give away their last few. If you feel so compelled, you can always make a few more and mail them one afterwards.)

The thing that is worth noting is that this is a sort of grab-bag event. Only rarely do you see in advance what you will be getting in exchange for your piece. You are just trusting that the people who attend this event are mostly interesting and creative people who’ll have produced something worth having. Most of the time, that is the case; and I just hope that most of the people who get one of my charms will appreciate what they have received as well.

All those little fan-shaped pieces I’ve blogged about in recent weeks were my entries into this event (and its spin-off, the Charms for Charity raffle, which raised a bit under $10K this time around). I had a few silver ones (made from PMC+), plus some copper and bronze ones (from Hadar’s powders). I took the grab-bag aspect one step further: I had them all in my pocket, and just grabbed one at random to hand out each time.

I took 30 in all. (I think it was 2 silver, 10 copper, 18 bronze. Or close to that.) Shown above are the 20 silver charms I got. I’ll post a photo of the other ten, all base metal (except one that has a silver base but includes some (again, this is what I think it is) resin in a sort of bronze-color that I thought went better with those). I’ve decided to assemble a bronze bracelet to hang those from, however, and add one of my own fans and maybe another small early experiment or two, so it may be a little while before I post that….

Some people include interesting elements. My biggest surprise, this year, was my exchange with Nicola Callow of Murano Silver in the UK who handed over a bar of all-natural handmade soap.

Now, Nic did get that this was a charm exchange. The soap was a bonus. A bonus that matched her charm! Note the round charm with a flower-shape having a red (resin, I think) heart in the center up at the top of this image (clicking on the image will open a larger version of it) that has the same design as the yellow flower in the soap.

The thing is, I’m now up to four charm bracelets (one from 2008, one from exchanging with folks in my local guild chapter, and these two from 2010), and I’m really not much of a charm-bracelet person. Oh well. One thing I do like to do with these bracelets is to take them when I teach metal clay classes. Even though the pieces are very small, they are a good way to open up discussions on a range of topics: design, construction, finishes, specific artists, and more. Lots of fun!

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