Copper clockwork compass

I'm really proud of this one. Yes, it's kind of enormous (the piece in the center is an inch in diameter), and maybe the cutouts don't show up as much as overlays in a contrasting color would've--but now I know with certainty that I can make a complex, interesting piece to hold a watch movement without soldering. My current torch doesn't have the output to heat pieces this big, and while I want to upgrade to something hotter someday, I'm so glad that I can showcase these little mechanisms right now, in time to make things for International Steampunk City. And if I wind up giving a demo at ISC in a space where I can't use a torch, I'll probably make something like this.

Copper clockwork compass

This design and the textures make me think of an airship navigator with a mysterious device to help her steer even when storms and fog are obscuring everything. It's definitely a statement piece--it says "why yes, I do know where I'm going, thank you very much". I have more ideas for variations on this theme--earrings, smaller pendants, pendants in different shapes, different things as centerpieces, etc. I can't wait to make them :)

Originally posted at Feel free to comment here or there.

WIP compass pendant
(This is a compass-themed pendant I'm working on. Seems fitting for a post about the directions I want to take my work!)

So, for the longest time, I've been thinking of the things I make in terms of setting. I imagine other worlds--anything from a glimpse of a place that's a little different, a past that never, was, to a fully-mapped-out fictional universe. And I imagine my pieces as artifacts of those worlds--as products of the culture, geography, and mythology of the place. Almost as though they were exhibits in a museum about the worlds I've imagined.

But things are shifting around a bunch in my head. I'm starting to also think about my pieces in terms of character. Still a product of imaginary places, but designed with people in mind--both the real people who end up buying and wearing my jewelry, and imaginary awesome characters living in fictional worlds. People with cloaks and walking sticks; people on quests; people with secrets and maps and destinies.

How will this shift in perspective change the way I work? I'm not sure yet--but my hope is that I'll make pieces that feel more wearable and are easier for people to connect with, to imagine themselves wearing on their own quests. But even if it doesn't change any outward facets of my jewelry, it's changing my process. It's making me more excited about getting things made and in the hands of cool people, and I'm finding more time to go into the basement studio and do stuff. I'm getting inspired by characters I find in books and visual art. So--more finished pieces ahead! And more exciting ideas popping into my head. (Are people interested in seeing more pictures from my sketchbook?)

If you're an artist, how has the way you think about your art changed over time?

Originally posted at Feel free to comment here or there.

Here's how one of those pairs of earrings I was working on last night turned out:

Originally posted at Feel free to comment here or there.

rivenwanderer: (Default)
( Mar. 31st, 2011 05:23 pm)
Since several people asked for it and nobody asked me not to, I am totally going to crosspost going forward. I'll have to do it manually since Blogger doesn't have a plugin for it like Wordpress does, and the via-email LJ/DW API doesn't preserve HTML (meaning I can't usefully auto-crosspost things with images).
OK, now that is all updated and blogular, I'm hoping to actually post about jewelry/metalworking over there more often. For a more general and not-necessarily-people-I-know audience, but it'll still be me doing the talking.... Do you guys have opinions for or against crossposts? I'm considering doing it the way [ profile] ursulav does it. But maybe anyone who cares about that stuff is going to follow the blog via RSS anyway, and there's no reason to spam it onto LJ/DW too? Let me know what you think.
rivenwanderer: (Default)
( Mar. 29th, 2011 10:32 pm)
So I came to New York planning to:
-See Sleep No More
-Go to Cat Valente's book release party
-Relax and feel less creativity-related angst

And it was totally a success!

First of all, taking BoltBus on a Saturday morning is sooooo much better than taking it on a Friday evening. I had the half-row to myself, and a power outlet!

I saw Sleep No More twice, once on Saturday and once on Monday (I saw it in Boston once last year). Seeing it twice this time was the right call--the story/characters seemed pretty much the same as in Boston, but the set was different in a lot of ways, and two nights was enough to really get a feel for it (I totally missed the top floor, with the psych ward and the maze/forest of sticks with the tiny hut, on Saturday). I don't think I would've gotten a whole lot out of subsequent viewings--I don't feel the need to understand the story/characters totally comprehensively, and I think it would've just made the setting seem less dazzlingly weird and endless to have gotten an even better mental map of things. But a part of me is definitely sad that I probably will never go back. I never do scented anything, but I really wish I had some kind of book of the scents from various bits of the set (pine, earth, caramel, dried herbs, etc). I did manage to bring home this key--I tried to give it back to the actor who dropped it, but he wouldn't take it, so I kept it. So that's a bit of a sense of closure.

The Deathless reading was great--Adam and I had to bow out on the early side because his back was hurting, but we stayed for all of the songs and book excerpts. I'm so glad I have the book on preorder, so it'll be waiting for me when I go home. From all of Cat's books, I'm used to getting two things: a delicious, layered, feminist-leaning mythic melange of niftyness, and moments that stab my heart (in a good way). Based on the bits I heard at the reading, I know that Deathless will be no exception, and I can't wait to read it. The music was pretty awesome too :)

Besides these Events, I also: ate lots of incredibly delicious food; cuddled with Adam; made a tiny bit of progress on my knitting and reading (maybe will make more on the bus tomorrow if my stomach will let me); talked to Danielle about art and many other things; played Minecraft without feeling guilty about not doing something "more important" (since there was nothing more important to be doing); went shopping and found two amazing dresses and a nice skirt. Some combination of these things (well, talking about art was probably the most useful!) helped smooth over some angst I've been having about marketability vs. motivation. Lesson: make what is most awesome, without making compromises based on what I think will affect its sellability, because I will be happier and it will probably be *better* art also. (Totally in the category of "so-called-wisdom that you only believe when you arrive at that conclusion yourself, not when someone else tells you".)

So, yay for taking a small vacation. A lot of vacations I've taken recently have been of the more-involved-traveling variety, or conventions, or other goal-oriented things. I think this one was a good template for a relaxing-oriented vacation.
rivenwanderer: (Default)
( Mar. 18th, 2011 05:04 pm)
If anyone reading this cares, my jewelry is in the Vericon art show this weekend :)
I'm selling jewelry in the dealer's room. (I'm not staying in the hotel, so I'm not strictly speaking there right now--I'm sitting on my sofa about to go to sleep.) If you're there, stop by and say hi! :) I made a new pair of earrings in a new-to-me design today, which was pretty neat. I'll see if I can get a good photo of them with my phone.
rivenwanderer: (Default)
( Feb. 14th, 2011 04:42 pm)
[ profile] sockefeller made a gorgeous 3-page comic. I like it a lot--it's basically folklore of an invented world/culture, plus it's pretty and adorable. She also has done a lot of nerdy fanart and pretty pin-up drawings and creepy/haunting short stories, and now I'm totally a fangirl of her work :)
rivenwanderer: (Default)
( Jan. 3rd, 2011 02:12 pm)
This design popped into my head yesterday, and I just sat down and made it!

New pendant design

This is coming to the Arisia art show ^_^

I'm going to write up all the steps involved in making it at some point for my other blog, but for now, you can look at the photo set on Flickr for chronological images of stages of construction and the tools used if you're curious. (Though I've skipped some of the steps, like sawing down the points of the spirals and actually setting the stone in the bezel cup.)

Before I went on vacation to spend the holidays with my family, I played around with more 3-dimensional fold-forming, as I mentioned. I made this leaf as a Christmas present for my sister:


It's not my usual style, but the process was so much fun, and I can't wait to figure out how to integrate more of it into my designs :)

Mostly, I'm just happy that I've shaken off the lull of last month. Working on jewelry makes my brain feel awesome.
rivenwanderer: (Default)
( Jan. 1st, 2011 09:51 pm)
I am searching for a very, very special tree stump (section of a tree trunk, sawn at both ends).

The properties of this tree stump are as follows:
-Flat on the top and the bottom
-About 28" tall
-Around a foot in diameter, or bigger
-Heavy enough to stay put and not get kicked over easily; light enough for two people to get it down some steep stairs without injury
-ETA: hardwood (such as oak/maple/beech)
-Located somewhere in the Boston area

The reason? I tried hammering metal on a tree stump like this (rather than on my taller work table), and it's a lot better for me ergonomically--I can hit the metal harder, with better leverage, and the wood deadens the blows effectively. Mounting anvils on tree stumps is traditional for blacksmiths and metalsmiths, and now I see why. I would really love to have on in my basement studio! (There are also designs for anvil stands that I could potentially make, but a tree stump would be simpler.)

So keep an eye out and let me know if you see any trees being cut down in the Boston area, OK?
Hey--I've been in a bit of a creative lull lately, but I remembered that I still have a bunch of shiny things in my Etsy shop. And I listed some new things today--the foldformed earrings I made in November, and the firebird pendant I made a while ago. I'm going to be out of town starting the 20th, so between now and then I'm having a little sale--15% off if you use the coupon code "OMGDECEMBER" when you're checking out. So if you've been on the fence about something, or meaning to tell someone about how that one pair of earrings is so awesome, now would be a good time!
rivenwanderer: (Default)
( Dec. 10th, 2010 10:45 pm)
finished armwarmers

I started these a long time ago--decided to finish them since the weather is being all New England and stuff. I had to modify the pattern to include some arm shaping, and I'm reasonably happy with how it turned out--could be tighter, but better too loose than too tight to wear comfortably. They keep my arms warm and I can still type in them! This is also my first project with cabling, so I feel like I leveled up in knitting in some small way.

Still finishing the purple scarf of doom (it's now a few feet long), and I need to make Susannah some mittens ASAP so she can stop wearing mismatched gloves when biking.
NaNoCraftMo progress so far

Photos of individual pairs of earrings are here.

These are the result of me fiddling around with a technique called fold-forming. They're going in the "easy or prototype" category. I'll be putting them on Etsy, but they were about figuring out a technique rather than working with a final product in mind from the start. My goal is to make 16 easy/prototype, 8 medium, and 4 journeyman pieces in November. So I'm a bit ahead on the first category for being one week in, but behind on the other categories. Hoping to make plenty of things in those more difficult categories this week to catch up :)
Are you a person who has worn cufflinks on dress shirts? Tell me about them! I'm interested in making some, so I want to know as much about them as possible.

-Are there mechanisms that you particularly like or dislike? (The two mechanisms I've seen the most of are ones with a chain and ones with a hinged bar.)
-Should the part with a design be concave, convex, or flat?
-What's the smallest size? What's the largest? (Talking in terms of US coins--is a dime too small for cufflinks? Is a quarter too big? What about a nickel?)
-Are the buttonholes that cufflinks go in a standard or semistandard size? What's the biggest and smallest size they might be?
rivenwanderer: (Default)
( Oct. 11th, 2010 02:39 pm)
Strowlercon was great! I wish I'd had a clone or a few round-the-clock minions so I could've escaped my table some more, but having a table right next to the door between the hall and backstage (and across the hall from interesting-looking gatherings) was almost enough :) My workshop on texturing metal should've been longer and better-organized, but it was shiny productive chaos and everyone went away from it having learned something and made something. [ profile] shadesong chatted with me about my sketches and helped crystallize some awesome jewelry-related worldbuilding in my head! I made progress on my purple shiny scarf! I sold some things! I am totally on board for Strowlercon 2011 :D
I have a couple of opportunities to demo or teach jewelry stuff coming up--one, at StrowlerCon, and later, at Archer West. For Archer West, I'm hoping to do one a few months down the road when I've perfected some etching techniques. For StrowlerCon, though, if I want to do a workshop or a demonstration, I'll need to go with stuff I already know. I've been doing enough metalwork stuff lately that it's all sort of jumbled together in my head--so I'm trying to pull out aspects of it that could be fun to look at or to try with little prior experience.

Things that could be fun to show people (but I don't have enough tools to let them try it themselves):
-Direct Casting (pouring molten silver onto something to make a lumpy, random shape)
-soldering gears and wire onto the surface of metal
-Watch me make a pendant (either this type or this type) from start to finish
-How to make your own jewelry findings (jump rings, head pins, ear wires, necklace cords and necklace clasps)

The only thing I can think of so far that everyone in a small group could do:
Texturing metal with hammers and rocks, steel wire, brick, gears, letter stamps, etc (I'd need to ask participants to bring hammers, or round up a bunch of them somewhere. I could bring blank pieces of copper with holes drilled in them, and maybe a few beads per person or something and some ribbon, and participants would leave with a wearable necklace or bracelet.)

What else about jewelry-making do you guys think would make cool demos or workshops? What parts of metalsmithing are you curious about? Which of these demo ideas sounds interesting to you?
rivenwanderer: (Default)
( Sep. 13th, 2010 06:06 pm)
I want to experiment with listening to fiction while I work on jewelry. I find too expensive and librivox too... old (though it has a few gems which I'm downloading right now). Apparently there are SF/F magazines that put out podcasts of short stories? Whoa! (I know, I know, welcome to 2005.)

Does anyone have any recommendations?
rivenwanderer: (Default)
( Aug. 20th, 2010 01:53 pm)
Does anyone ([personal profile] holyschist?) have familiarity with archaic forms of stonesetting/jewelry? I had the idea for this, made a little prototype last night, and now every time I look at it I can't help but feel that I've seen this style of stonesetting somewhere before. If I only knew what it was called, I could find out more about it.



In any case, I really like the way it looks--I'm not sure how small I can practically make it, but if I could use this to set some little (6mm) round stones on a pendant, I'll be very happy :)
rivenwanderer: animated "make make make" xkcd icon (makingstuff!)
( Aug. 3rd, 2010 12:40 am)
I've been reading more and more about electrolytic copper etching and really wanting to try it. I think I could even use my pasta press as a tiny printing press with small pieces of copper to make prints from the etched metal.

So I have this idea:
Step 1: Etch design onto copper.
Step 2: Hand-pull a limited run of prints, say 30 of them or something, and sell them on Etsy for a relatively low price ($5? $10? I don't have a good feel for the price range for art prints where the printed area is smaller than the size of a playing card).
Step 3: Profit! Make a really cool piece of jewelry from the copper plate (or potentially multiple pieces, sawing could be involved) and... auction it off? Sell it normally on Etsy?

The jewelry design would be the reverse of the printed design, so there's a bit of constraint there (though words that were backwards on the piece of jewelry could possibly look kind of interesting).

Anyway, this feels like a fun project idea with lots of potential for interstitiality and *waves hands* stuff. I can also imagine neat twisty-turny combinations of lockets and prints of different designs, and so on. I like the idea of many people getting a copy of one aspect of the piece of jewelry, but the jewelry piece itself remaining unique and singular. And the mad science factor of electrolytic etching is pretty great :D So my questions to you guys are:

1) Does this sound interesting? Would you buy a single-color tiny print, or a single smallish page with several tiny single-color prints, and if so, at what price point? What is the smallest size of print you can imagine buying and actually displaying somewhere? Would you find small prints more useful as tiny cards (with attendant tiny cute envelopes)?

2) What sorts of images would you like to see both etched into copper jewelry and hung on your wall? Abstract designs, vintage illustrations, silhouettes of actual objects, bits of quotes, original drawings of mine or someone else's? Collages made up of all of these things? Keep in mind that this is only monochrome.

3) Are you an illustrator or graphics-making person who'd like to see your stuff printed this way? Do you know someone who would? I'm definitely capable of turning out images in Inkscape, but it's not the thing I'm best at, and maybe collaborating with someone who's fantastic at making pictures would lead to even greater awesomeness.

(ETA: I'm asking here not because you're the only ones I'm interested in selling to, but because I think you're a fairly representative sample of the sorts of people I'd be trying to sell to.)

Eeeee I like having an Exciting Project Idea in my head ^___^